Different Points of View

I have a unique situation with my ex. In the 4 years we were together we raised several foster children together. One of those children was adopted by by my brother and his wife, which is great because that child is still a part of my life. At the same time, it’s a bit awkward, because my ex will be at any events for that same child. What can you do, amiright?


I started seeing a woman a couple of months ago. She is sweet, funny, kind, smart, and we share a lot of the same interests. She, however, had a major problem my ex was still a part of my life. She is also extremely sensitive and easily hurt.

None of this is an issue by itself. The problem is how she acts when she is hurt or angry. She says hurtful things. She yells. If I try to speak, she cuts me off. Eventually she just leaves. I spent nine years of my life tip-toeing around a volatile woman to avoid outbursts like this and I was not going to put up with this.

Last week it came to a head. There was a birthday party scheduled for my foster-daughter-turned-nice. I explained to my girlfriend that I wanted to check with my sister-in-law to ensure it was okay to bring my girlfriend. I didn’t anticipate my ex causing a scene or anything, but my sister-in-law and ex are still good friends and I wanted to ensure she was okay with it. After all, it wasn’t my party and I wasn’t hosting it.

What should have been absolutely nothing was a spark that bloomed into an explosion when I informed my girlfriend I wanted to check before inviting her. Evidently, I didn’t “care about her feelings”, was “putting my ex’s feelings ahead of hers”, “hiding her in the back”, and some other crap about “should’ve known I’d get treated like this.”

I tried to explain that my only concern was not ruining my niece’s birthday party, but she didn’t want to hear that. She was convinced I was trying to protect my ex’s feelings. I tried to cut the conversation off at that point because she was angry, but apparently pointing out that she was talking to me like I’m a piece of shit hurt her feelings.

At that point, I told her to stop, and thankfully she did. A bit later I told her my sister-in-law said it was okay and she was still welcome to come. I probably shouldn’t have extended the invite after what had just happened, but I was hoping she’d realize at that point my concern was my niece and my niece only.

I gave her a day to cool down before telling her that I didn’t appreciate the way she treats me when she’s hurt or angry and that I was no longer going to tolerate it. I told her if she wanted to continue the relationship she would need to work on how she behaves when she’s upset. I was hoping for some sort of discussion, but what I got instead was a voice message saying she’d come to get her stuff out of my house that instant.

I was, and am still just a bit, shocked. She told me she loved me repeatedly, but I guess not enough to make an effort to not treat me like an old McDonald’s cup on the side of the highway. I mean, not only was she not willing to make any effort to change her behavior when she’s angry, but now I felt pretty worthless. Why am I not worth the effort of trying to control your anger? Just days before she was going on about her mom’s anger management issues and how she was worried she was becoming like her mom. She was concerned enough to change for herself, but not for me? Which, in turn, would benefit her?

A couple days later I see this posted by her on Facebook…

WTF? You didn’t give me any reason to stay!

I didn’t make an effort? I didn’t make an effort??? Every time she got upset I tried my damnedest to figure out what I’d done so I’d know not to do it again. I tried to console her. I tried to comfort her. I made room for her in my house. I cooked for her. Bought her things. Spent as much time with her as I could. Let her vent to me about her job constantly.

I’m not sure what she means by “no effort” unless she’s referring to my refusal to be a punching bag any longer. If that’s what she considers “no effort” then fuck no I made no effort. Why would I fight for someone who takes out their anger on me? Who doesn’t care enough about me to not lash out at me any time she’s upset? Who (multiple times) accused me of “not being over my ex”, not caring about her feelings, trying to hide her from my family, and whatever other things she said that I can’t recall. Why the fuck would I make an effort to keep that in my life?

Ugh, but I ain’t mad. Honestly, I know she’s had a hard life. She’s been abused and traumatized. I was hoping she’d see what she was doing to me. When she’s calm she admits to it, but when she’s worked up…not so much. Frankly, I can’t deal with it. It’s like walking around a grass field expecting – but never knowing – when you’ll step on a land mine.

I’ve spent the last few days fighting back tears. Most of the time we got along great and, other than the times she was upset, had an amazing time. I miss her. Depression has hit me hard this week, but I don’t regret taking a stand. I deserve better.

A Glimpse Into My World

So I used to do this thing pretty regularly. I thought the prompts had ended, but I just found out they’re still going to I figured I’d post one up real quick while I’m waiting on a script I’m running to finish….

The premise is pretty simple, Melanie over at Sparks of a Combustable Mind posts four usually non-invasive questions, and I get to answer them. What a fun game!!

QUESTIONS

Do you ever feel more excited about getting the package in the mail, rather than the item that’s in it?

Depends on what I ordered on Amazon the day before. If it’s a present for myself, then I’ll get excited. However, if it’s just a couple more bottles of toothpaste, like it was yesterday, blah…

What is the difference between your ideal self and your real self?  (i.e. what attribute or physical feature would allow you feel the ideal ‘you’?)

Well, my ideal self is much skinnier than my real self. My ideal self also has a better handle on his emotions and knows how to cope with them, good or bad. But I guess my real self is okay most of the time.

If you found $2,000 on the ground and there were no witnesses, what would you do with it?

Pocket it. I mean, if it’s not in a wallet or anything, it’s free game, right? RIGHT???

Are you ever morally obliged to take action? Under what circumstances?

Not sure how to answer this one. If you’re asking if I feel morally obliged to take action, then yes, in certain situations, I feel a moral obligation. That’s the trick, though. Everyone’s morals are unique, so defining moral obligations is difficult. I could spend an entire day listing possible circumstances in which I’d feel morally obligated to take action on something, but to be purposefully vague and intentionally brief, I’ll just say that I generally feel morally obligated to act if I know I can do something to prevent another person from getting hurt.


GRATITUDE SECTION

Please feel free to share how last week went for you.   Bright or not-so-bright spots?

Oh, last week was an emotional rollercoaster for reasons I’d rather not delve into right now. It’s the beginning of the school year here in backasswards Indiana, so work has been crazy, and I’ve been working…a lot.

That being said, there was one thing that is equal parts bright and not so bright….Baby C started 6th grade today. I don’t know what I’m more upset about: that C’s now old enough to be in middle school or that I now have to get up an hour earlier to get him off to school. HOW IS HE IN 6TH GRADE ALREADY???

What is normal?

Normality is subjective. Almost everybody considers the things they like and do to be normal. And anyone who likes or does something else is different. It’s a rare human who acknowledges they just don’t fit in with the rest of society and that the things they’re into are just, ya know, weird.

Most of us tolerate these differences with grace and understanding. Others of us, not so much. I know that not every person is the same, so the term normal really shouldn’t apply to anyone. After all, you’re unique. Just like everyone else.

Normal, to me, means routine. When I wake up in the morning I take my Synthroid because some crazed doctor with a modified scalpel stole my thyroid a few years ago. Then I take a walk along the Ohio River to get my exercise in for the day since I spend my work day with my ass parked in a chair. It’s a comfortable chair, for sure, but it’s not helping me burn any calories.

The view from the River Walk.

Once I’m back at the house I grab a steaming hot cup of Columbian elixir and sip contently while I peruse the interwebs to catch up on my daily dose of negative news, attention whores on social media, and memes.

Normal, to me, also means blaring my music and singing along while driving – or wherever it is that I’m blasting out my tunes. It means an occasional blog post. It means putting my children before all else. It means gulping pharmaceutical cocktails before bed every night. It means having difficulty deciding whether I want to play a video game or read a book in my limited free time. It means making extremely inappropriate jokes in the group chat with my coworkers. It means looking in the mirror every morning, realizing that I need to shave, and then deciding I’m too tired to do so. That’s why I have a beard now. Well, kinda…

These things that are part of my normal everyday existence are probably not normal to anyone else, but I couldn’t imagine things any other way The normalcy. That sense of familiarity. It’s good to know that while some things change, some things stay the same. Normal, if you will.

Audience Participation Time!

What does normal mean to you, friends?  Is normal a good or bad thing?

No Prophecy

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

There is no prophecy
No meant-to-be
There is only
Empty destiny

You’ll find on your own
Fate is unshown
Do not bemoan
Your path is unknown

The future is pliable
A fact undeniable
Only you are liable
For moments transpirable

The power you possess
Can author success
Let no one suppress
Or curb your greatness

Have you suffered any trauma?

About three months ago, I was nearing a mental breakdown (or, at least, that’s what it felt like – you ever feel like your lungs are gonna pop and your heart beat right out of your chest?), so I got on the Google machine and searched for a shrink.

Side note: Why are they called shrinks? What gumped-up algebraic equation turned psychiatrist into shrink? This is what happens when you mix the alphabet with math.

After the massive search engine purposely skewed my results by filtering out any conservative shrinks (hey, that’s that big tech does, according to the fair and balanced talking heads at Fox News), I found a number to call. I punched the digits into the dial pad of the 6.2″ pocket computer I carry around with me and, after struggling through the stupid-ass auto-attendant, I finally got to a human who scheduled an appointment for me.

Another side note: Why do I have to press numbers to speak to a human? Why can’t a human just answer the damned phone to begin with? Every one of us spams the 0 until a subpar human actually answers.

That appointment was today. Good thing it wasn’t an emergency, huh?

The appointment consisted of light interrogation. I say light because, hey, at least I wasn’t waterboarded. I had to go through my family history of mental illness and basically a condensed memoir of my life so that she could get some semblance of the road that led to the broken human before her. Then she hit me with the question about trauma.

Have you suffered any trauma?

My immediate thought was, “No, I haven’t suffered any trauma.” I mean, I’ve never been seriously injured. I’ve never had any near-death experiences (that I know about, anyhow). No traumatic events ever happened to me. I was never abused…

Wait.

I started turning things over in my head, which was rough because I forgot to spray with Pam first. Trauma, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Different events affect people differently, so what may be traumatic for one person may not be traumatic (or as traumatic) to another. Humans aren’t made with cookie cutters, after all.

I thought back to my 7th-grade year, which was pretty traumatic for me then. My mom was arrested and placed in a mental institution. Her arrest was due to events that occurred at my school, so all the kids bullied me. Okay, not all, but enough so that my teacher assigned me a buddy specifically to keep an eye on me and my mental status. I ended up seeing a shrink, in group therapy, on medication, and nearly institutionalized myself.

So, I did suffer through a traumatic event.

I thought ahead a few years to when I was 20. It wasn’t physical abuse (at least, not until I tried to leave several years later). It was emotional abuse. I tried to end a relationship I didn’t want to be in – several times. Each time I tried to tell her I didn’t want to be with her anymore, she threatened suicide. I finally stopped trying to leave when she shotgunned an entire bottle of Benedryl one night. I endured her emotional abuse, suffered through her bipolar episodes (she didn’t seek treatment until after I finally left 9 years later), and was physically assaulted in later years – many of those instances after I left and occurred when we would exchange custody of our children. Traumatic? Probably. I’m sure all of that broke some pieces off of my mind.

How about that? I was abused.

Near death experience? Honestly, I don’t know how close to death, if at all, I ever really was when I had thyroid cancer. But cancer is always carrying a death threat. Like American Express, it never leaves home without it. All I know for certain is they dissected my neck to get my thyroid and cancer cells out of my body. As a result, I have a scar across my neck that required 16 staples to close and makes it look like I survived a hanging. My body hasn’t been the same since then. I’ve still yet to regain the physical stamina I had before the surgery. Maybe I never will. I also went through radiation therapy, which permanently damaged my salivary glands. The loss of my thyroid seems to have triggered a case of gout in my right foot. Often times when I take the meds required to treat all of this shit at night, I feel like I’ve eaten an entire meal. Traumatic? Maybe. Maybe not. Sure felt fucking traumatic to me, though. Sometimes, it still does.

It’s weird. All these things happened to me, and I’ve never really considered their impact on me. Or how others may perceive them. It was just crazy shit that happened to me. I never considered anything that happened in my first marriage abusive until I wrote about it, and everyone who commented expressed how abusive it really was. I mean, I never really knew emotional abuse was a thing. Sure, she assaulted me, but never really hurt me. I was kicked and punched, but she wasn’t physically strong enough to injure me. The one time she could’ve seriously hurt me was when she threw a picture frame at me, but luckily, she missed.

Before today I never really stopped to consider whether or not the events that took place during my 7th-grade year were traumatic or how they shaped me (or de-shaped me). It’s just something I recall sometimes and think, “Yeah, that year sucked.” But how exactly did it shape me? Are those events and how I was treated by so many people the foundation of my misanthropy? Who knows?

I’m not sure where exactly I’m going with this anymore. I’m not sure how to end it, either. I guess after I stopped to ponder everything I’ve endured I was shocked to find that, yeah, I have gone through some traumatic events in my life even if it doesn’t always necessarily feel like I’ve had a traumatic life. It was surprising that my gut reaction was to deny anything awful ever happened and I had to actually analyze these events to see them for what they truly are.

God Fearing

I was raised to believe God is a kind, loving, and compassionate being. Every Sunday my parents dragged me to church (literally – I did not want to go) where I had to listen to a monotone recitation of how powerful, forgiving, and full of love both God and Jesus are. Think Ben Stein in ridiculous robes.

According to the church (at least, the church I grew up in), we are all born sinners. Before any of us escape our mother’s womb, we are already sinners. We’ve yet to make a conscious decision. We’ve yet to take a breath. We’ve yet to behold the splendor of this world. Yet, somehow, we are already sinners. But God will forgive us if we ask. If we repent and ask for forgiveness we will still be accepted into Heaven when God calls us home.

Doesn’t that sound great? How generous God must be to forgive and welcome us into His kingdom despite somehow being a sinner before we were born. What a great guy. The very idea makes me feel all warm and tingly all over. Or perhaps that’s just a side-effect of all the coffee I just shotgunned. It feels good, either way.

Countless Christians refer to themselves as God-fearing, which is a term that has always struck me as odd. Why would anyone need to fear God? I have no reason to fear the God I learned of as a child. He loves us. He forgives us. He provides for us. What’s there to be afraid of other than being sent to Hell when you die? What else would God do that any sane person wouldn’t want? If you ask for forgiveness that won’t happen, though, so no biggie, right?

When I look out into the world I don’t see the God I was raised to believe in. His alleged kindness, love, and compassion are nowhere to be found when I examine the human condition. If I brave reading the news (which is a rare occurrence these days because my mental health simply can’t withstand the onslaught of negativity), finding news about forgiveness, love, and happiness are few and far between. I have to specifically search for “feel good” stories. Headlines are generally riddled with news of murder, rape, war, and hate. Is that why some folks are God-fearing? Is God not the generous being I’ve been led to believe? I mean, if God is all-powerful, benevolent, and controls everything why isn’t this world a reflection of his positive image?

For me, I don’t fear God. I find it hard to believe in Him at all. Frankly, there are so many gods and so many religions who is to say which one is the right one, if any of them? I’m not saying there’s no God. I’m not saying there is a God. I’m simply saying I don’t know. I’ll just keep living my life, being the best human I know how to be. I’ll be kind to strangers. I’ll help those I can. I’ll give if I can. I’ll personify (to the best of my ability) the ideal of God without religious hypocrisy.

Thyroid Cancer: My Journey Thus Far

Hey, cancer. You're terminated.

At this very moment last year, I was lying unconscious on an operating table, my neck opened wide as a surgeon evicted my thyroid and a few dozen lymph nodes from my body. They had violated the terms of my bodily lease, and so they simply had to go. There was no other way to set things right.

The procedure had been dubbed a neck dissection. That’s not frightening at all, right? I mean, I dissected animals in high school. No big deal. Except, those animals were dead. I had to do it, though, for I had discovered a few short days beforehand what I had suspected for weeks: that lump on my neck was cancer.

Emotionally, I was caught somewhere between numb and scared shitless leading up to surgery. I had been operated on only once in my life previously, and that was a simple procedure in 2nd grade I can scarcely recall. On multiple occasions after my diagnosis, I locked myself in a bathroom and cried. What would become of me? If the worst came to fruition, what would become of my children? Would they be okay?

My medical team all said the same reassuring things. “It’s very treatable!” “Thyroid cancer has the lowest mortality rate.” “If you were going to get any cancer, this is the one to get.”

I heard that last statement multiple times. I understand the purpose of that statement, but really? Like I won some kind of fucking cancer lottery because I developed the least deadly form of cancer? Yay me? It was still scary as fuck. I’ve known way too many amazing people who have died far too young due to this monstrous curse. Hell, in just the last year, cancer pulled two people I knew well into an early grave.

When I look back at words I’ve written regarding this entire ordeal, it still doesn’t feel real. I read those words, and it’s like I’m reading about some other guy’s struggles. Some strange internet dude who also masquerades online in stormtrooper armor. I mean, that can’t be me. I don’t have cancer. But it is, and I do. And I still haven’t wrapped my head around it. I still don’t believe myself when I tell, um, myself, that I have cancer. It feels like a lie. Or a breaking story on Fox News.

My mind has a tendency to be dramatic. In my warped view, every molehill is a mountain. As I was carted away one year ago, wearing naught but a hospital gown and an IV, I vaguely remember saying goodbye to my family members, wondering if I’d ever see them again. The drugs had kicked in by the time I was in the operating room, its haunting white walls having no effect on me at this point. All the what-ifs and what-could-go-wrongs evaporated as anesthesia and sedatives saturated my body.

Despite the conspiracy theories my mind had been peddling, the operation was a success. A month later, I had radiation therapy and a follow-up scan, which showed two very minuscule spots of thyroid tissue. If everything went according to plan, the radiation terminated them like Arnold.

Despite the good news thus far (well, the news has been good other than the diagnosis), I’m still struggling with some things. My Synthroid dosage is still being adjusted. I am forever fighting fatigue. In August, I had some issues with both sides of my face swelling up. After two weeks on antibiotics for suspected dual salivary gland infections, it was determined that this was a side effect of the radiation therapy, which I may or may not have to battle for the rest of my days. Essentially, the radiation therapy attacked my salivary glands. My cheeks are still very tender. If someone presses against my face during a hug, I have to pull away. I still have some trouble eating dry foods such as bread, cookies, or chips. My glands can no longer produce enough saliva to break food down, and dry foods stick to the walls of my mouth, making it difficult to swallow. This is not necessarily a bad thing since it keeps me from eating these types of food (most of the time), and none of those foods are really healthy anyhow. Nowadays, I look at chips and think, “Meh, not worth the trouble.”

Now that a year has passed since cancer’s eviction, it’s time for me to go through my follow-up scans to determine if surgery and radiation therapy successfully completed their tasks. That means I have to stop taking the Synthroid and go on a low iodine diet for several weeks. That means I’ll be even more fatigued than I already am. That means enduring an extremely slim cuisine selection. It’s shocking how many foods contain iodine. That also means another trip to the UC radiology department to swallow a radioactive pill so they can scan my body to see what, if any, thyroid/cancerous tissue remains. That means I can once again sing along with the Imagine Dragons’ song Radioactive and not be fibbing.

Frankly, until an appointment with my endocrinologist last week (when she totally threw off my groove by reminding me of these upcoming procedures), I had almost forgotten that I had been diagnosed with cancer and had not yet been declared cancer-free. Other than struggling with fatigue and Synthroid dosage adjustments, I haven’t had any treatment specifically targeted towards cancer since April. I have been living life as I normally would (COVID restrictions aside, of course) during that time. It had not occurred to me that there may still be cancer cells lurking somewhere in my body like tiny little assholes invading the capitol.

By March, I should have the results and a better grip on what the rest of my life will look like. In the meantime, I’ll try to stay positive. And sober.

Chinese Whispers

I love watching family videos. I can sit for hours sifting through videos of my children and never tire of watching them. I didn’t own my first camcorder until the twins were 6 years old. They were born in 1999, so smartphones weren’t yet a thing. My one lament (okay, it’s not my one lament, but it is my biggest) is that I have no videos of the twins before they were 6 but have hours of footage of Baby C’s entire life.

When I was a child, our family was lucky enough to have a camcorder. My dad filmed our soccer games, Christmas mornings, and family reunions. I’ve been feeling nostalgic since mom passed and decided to raid my dad’s old video cassettes and copy them to my computer. Not only so that I could watch them, but to preserve them. VHS is a dead medium. You can’t find VCRs anywhere anymore.

Left: Camcorder from the 80’s. Right: camcorder of today.

It was a good thing I did, too. Two of the cassettes came undone after I rewound them. With the magic of scotch tape, I was able to get them working well enough to copy to my desktop.

Watching these videos was awesome. I relived some fantastic childhood memories. I saw some wonderful folks who have since gone to heaven. I heard their voices once more. Saw their mannerisms. I got a small glimpse into my youth and what I was like as a child. I used to be cute…

One of my favorite childhood stories to tell is how my youngest brother tried to show me and my brother Revis up when we both were having difficulty flying one of those cheap styrofoam airplanes. In fact, I even posted the story to my old blog:

I was excited. I couldn’t wait to get it put together and play with it. I raced outside and removed it piece by piece from its packaging, and carefully assembled it. When I had finally completed it, I stood proudly holding my newly constructed styrofoam airplane high.   I headed out to the yard in between our house and the neighbor’s house, where there was ample room to fly the plane, and the ground was relatively flat.

I ensured my father had the video cassette recorder rolling before I attempted my first flight. I reared back and let her go. The plane flew! Straight into the ground. Undaunted, I picked up my plane and made another attempt, only for it to nose dive straight into the ground once it left my hand.

My younger brother, in an adolescent display of machismo, stepped over to me. "Here. Let me try."

I mentally shrugged, and I handed him the plane. I just wanted to see it fly. He cocked his arm back and let it rip. And the plane flew! Straight into the ground. He tried one more time but produced the same failure. Enter my youngest brother. "Let me try," he said pompously. He picked up the plane from the ground, took a couple of steps back, and let her fly. And the plane flew! It flew in a loop! And then hit him in the back of the head. All recorded on our trusty camcorder. I love modern technology.

As I was copying our old VHS tapes to my computer, I found the footage about which I wrote and was shocked at just how different my “memory” of that incident is.

First of all, I was not even there when this happened. It was just my two younger brothers. Just to reiterate, I was not present for an occurrence my mind tells me I was. I’m not sure what devilish sorcery this is, but I’m not amused.

Secondly, there was no contest. My brothers were just taking turns, trying to get it to fly. You know, like good, well-behaved children. I don’t recall any of us ever being so well-behaved.

Lastly, my youngest brother did not strike himself in the head with the plane. It was Revis who threw the plane. My youngest brother was actually standing a bit behind and to the side of him. The plane just looped back as soon as it left Revis’ hand.

The only thing in my “memory” that actually happened was my dad filming my youngest brother getting smacked in the back of the head with a styrofoam plane. It is still a hilarious childhood memory, even with the knowledge that my mind somehow butchered almost every detail of it.

We all played Chinese Whispers when we were in school. It was used to make a point. We’d gather in a circle, or maybe even form a line. One person would then whisper a sentence into the ear of the next. Then that person would do the same. And so on and so forth. Then, by the time the sentence was whispered into the last person’s ear, it was a completely different sentence.

Experts theorize our memories work in much the same way. I had never had an opinion on this one way or another until discovering how drastically my mind altered one insignificant memory. I’m suddenly suspect of my mind.

Obviously, my mind altered that memory, and I don’t have the slightest idea how or why that happened. How did I unconsciously decide to rewrite reality? At what point did my conscience decide I had been there despite my absence? It’s evident that I only knew of this occurrence because I watched the tape. 

The article I linked above theorizes, “Take storytelling for example. When we describe our memories to other people, we use artistic license to tell the story differently depending on who’s listening.” There’s a huge distinction between artistic license and complete fabrication. I’ve told that story the same way for as long as I can remember. I was completely shocked to find out I wasn’t even present for something I remembered.

In my search for nostalgia, I found something completely unexpected: my brain is a liar. I’m left to wonder if my other childhood memories actually happened as I remember them or if my brain has been telling stories.

What say you, dearest reader? Have you ever discovered that you remembered an event incorrectly? How did that strike you?

Cancerous Thoughts

I sat in an uncomfortable chair in the ENT’s office after a long day at work. Between the everyday stress of working and raising my youngest son, I had the added weight of a recent biopsy haunting me, the proverbial kick while I was already down. I suspected the results I would receive that evening would confirm what I somehow already knew to be true.

Thyroid cancer.

I have spent the last (almost) two months pushing thoughts of this from my mind. A mental shield. If I don’t, unhealthy thoughts run amuck like bumper cars in my head.

Would things have been so bad if I’d asked about that lump on my neck sooner?

Did all the alcohol I drank in the wake of my mother’s death fuel the spread of the cancer?

Mom always told me she felt like a burden to me. Did she somehow know that I would soon not be able to care for her? Is that why she gave up?

If the worst should happen, what would become of my children?

Pinch-hitting for Pedro Borbón, Manny Mota…Mota…..Mota……(sorry, a little Airplane humor there)

Those are the demons that try to intrude on my day to day life. Somehow, I’ve mostly kept them at bay. Whenever one of those thoughts creeps in, I kick it right back out. I’m not sure how. I’ve never been adept at clearing my mind of harmful thoughts, but it’s working for now.

It’s been five weeks since my surgery. I still have some swelling in my neck and under my chin. My incision, which runs from the left side of the base of my neck to just a couple of inches short of my right ear and required 16 staples to close, is still a little tender and puffy, but healing nicely. My strength is slowly returning, and my energy levels are gradually normalizing.

The hard part is over, but the journey is far from complete.

Next week I go on a low-iodine diet and stop taking my Synthroid in preparation for further treatment. After a week of that, I get two days of injections, some blood drawn, and then have to swallow a radioactive pill that should destroy any cancer which may still be in my body. I’ll have to isolate myself from physical contact for some time afterward, because I’ll literally be radioactive, and could poison anyone I have prolonged contact with.

I’m not looking forward to any of this, but it’s better than another five hours on an operating table.

The silver lining in all this suffering is that my long-term prognosis is still good. My endocrinologist believes my life expectancy will not be affected by any of this. So that’s something.

The next two weeks are going to be difficult, but hopefully, I can continue to keep the demons at bay.

Interview With a Trooper – Episode IX

Well hello there! It’s time again for me to answer questions from some strange person on the internet because evidently I have nothing better to do. Okay, nothing better I want to do. Do you feel better now that you’ve forced that confession out of me. DAMN YOU!!!

Ahem. Anyhow….so I answered stuff….

  1. What is the first movie you remember seeing? Probably one of the Star Wars movies. Dad used the VCR to tape them from TV somehow and I would watch them on repeat. Except for the last few minutes of Return of the Jedi, because he ran out of tape.
  2. What is the first thing you do when you get home? Shut the front door.
  3. What is the first thing you do when you open your eyes in the morning?  Close them again and try to go back to sleep.
  4. What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning? Why the hell am I up??
  5. What is the first time you were allowed to put on make-up? Idk, I still haven’t asked yet.
  6. What is the furthest you’ve ever been from home? Lost somewhere in my own head.
  7. What is the hardest part of your job? Walking out at the end of the day knowing I didn’t get everything done I wanted to.
  8. What is the last book you read? Exile by RA Salvatore
  9. What is the last compliment you got? Um…not sure. I don’t keep a log I can consult.
  10. What is the last film you saw? Spiderman Homecoming
  11. What is the last movie that you saw at the cinema? The Rise of Skywalker.
  12. What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer? Handbrake so I could convert a video for someone at work.
  13. What is the last thing you watched on TV? Um, Spiderman Homecoming. You already asked me that.
  14. What is the longest period you’ve spent in a hospital? A day and a half…which was only two weeks ago.
  15. What is the most boring movie you’ve watched? Jesus of Nazareth. Every. Freakin’. Easter.
  16. What is the most difficult thing you’ve done for love? Not leave.
  17. What is the most important thing in your life? My children.
  18. What is the name of your favorite restaurant? I don’t have favorites. Of anything.
  19. What is the name of your first pet? Bunky. I’m not quite sure how mom came up with that name, but when she was naming our dog that was the name she answered to, so it stuck.
  20. What is the one item you can’t leave home without? My body.
  21. What is the pettiest thing you’ve done to prove a point? I’m sure I’ve done plenty of petty things in my life, but I’m not able to think of anything right now.
  22. What is the scariest movie you’ve watched? In 7th grade I was shown a video of a live birth in sex ed. That was pretty brutal.
  23. What is the strangest thing you believed as a child? My uncle had an Atlanta Falcons helmet on his mantle at home. He had me convinced for years that he had been a kicker for the Falcons back in the 70’s.
  24. What is the thing you change the TV channel with? It’s called a remote control, you tool.
  25. What is the weirdest thing you’ve seen in your life? Trump supporters.
  26. What is the worst grade you got on a test? An F, obviously. You can’t get any lower than that.
  27. What is under your bed? The floor. Duh.
  28. What is your all-time favorite town or city? I don’t have favorites!!! Why? Because I just don’t!!
  29. What is your best childhood memory? Not a specific memory, but just having the freedom to go outside and play with friends or to play with my brothers in our basement full of toys without a worry in the world.
  30. What is your best physical feature? Idk. My smile?