When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year.

I don’t believe in coincidences, do you? I also don’t believe time heals all wounds. That’s giving time too much credit. Time is not my friend, it makes me achy. There’s two things I don’t believe in. ( think for a good story I should have three, but I can only think of two)

Great uteruses think alike, is that the saying? Here is the tale of two uteruses. (that is a very funny plural) One which you already know and have an archive of blog posts to read about. The other is owned by a woman I’ve known for 22 years. She developed a fibroid last year. What a coincidence. (no it isn’t)  Hers was not the asymptomatic kind like mine, it was the bleeding incessantly kind. Sad, right? I t reached the point where it required attention hourly, so that’s a lot of blood.

I’m her person, so I went to all her appointments with her. She went in for emergency surgery the week before I went in for surgery. We had a lot of jokes about her showing me how it’s done.  The reason for the emergency part is because she was bleeding to death, slowly. We had a lot of jokes about that too. We checked in and the lady said, ” I don’t see your name on the docket”, “well it just got added, its emergency surgery” we answered. She appeared to be in perfect health so we felt like we were lying, even though we knew the secret truth. The surgery (D&C) revealed the cause was fibroid.

This ob/gyn surgeon was in on my surgery too, she’s really great with a fun laugh.* She takes her time talking to you and explaining (with drawings when necessary) what is happening in your body. She presented several paths towards a solution. We took the drug that shuts off your hormones just weeks from each other.  The bleeding had slowed down as a result of the surgery, but it was not the end all. After a few weeks it was apparent that the Lupron wasn’t helping.

This is the part you guys. The part where I reveal to you what a badass my bestie is. She shows great fortitude, and an excellent sense of humor.

344

Monday May 23rd she went in for a surgery that was to be the end all of the pain.** It was going to be another D&C  to remove the 0ne fibroid. and if that was unsuccessful it would be a laparoscopic removal of the fibroid, and if that was unsuccessful it would be a hysterectomy. We don’t want to wake up from anesthesia with this ominous beast still in there. There was a lot of crying and praying and sleepless nights over this decision.

She woke up and it was still in there. The excellent surgeon couldn’t get the whole thing from the first approach, so she called it a fail and delivered the bad news to me first in the waiting room, and then to the post anesthesia patient.  Both the doctor and the patient were bummed, like really pissed. No one wants to get beaten by an small organ that has big powers.

Since I was 8 and learned that I could grow a person inside me I was certain that’s what I would eventually want for myself. I never faltered with this desire. My sweet uterine sister has never been exactly sure if she want’s to or not, she’s open to it in the right circumstances. Without a partner to make this decision with there is extra weeping. Guys this is hard. Uteruses are tricky.

Thursday May 26th she went in for her 3rd surgery in 12 months. She fasted. We arrived for surgery at 9, and were delayed and delayed and delayed till about 1:00pm I think. (That’s a long fast) ( we sent each other hilarious snapchats from across the room while we waited, we talked politics and religion and made lists) There was  a special tool flown in, and the maker of the tool was present in the gallery during surgery. First time it was used in this hospital.

Big Success! (you were starting to hold your breath weren’t you?) Got the whole thing. “Kate you have no idea how hard it was to get out!” said the surgeon. She and I happy danced in the waiting area.

The tale of two uteruses ends with two uteruses, for now. We love to apply meaning to our experiences, especially the painful ones. Coincidences seem to imply a glitch in the system, a synchrodestisty, a divine correlation. Are we really so close that we develop the same pathology of the same organ?  Litearally one week apart…I am to close to it to see any kind of insight. I am thankful to have a person to commiserate with, who understands things about guts. I am sad that it happened to her and that she had such worse symptoms.

We both watch vigilantly for recurring symptoms. We both celebrate as often as possible, in as many ways as we can think of. We both cry at really good movies, and we laugh at really funny things on youtube. We don’t at all know what is next for our uteruses, we have hopes and dreams tied to these organs (and several thousand dollars). I can’t believe I have a person in my life who is as relentless a warrior as she is, who laughs till she cries on a fasting stomach while waiting extra hours for a high stakes surgery. She wore a turkey hat to my surgery. We cried joyfully together when we awoke from surgery with intact uteruses. You know what, I just thought of one more thing I don’t believe: That suffering is bad. We can not survive without some suffering, I think it produces deeper happiness and richer community.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to tell you that we are officially allowed to conceive now. So we are “working” on that. I’m accepting mix tapes.

*the doctors names are Dr. Morishita and Dr. Murphy at St. Charles Women’s Health, very highly recommend them both.

**There are many ways I considered telling this story, keep in mind this is my version of the story from my perspective. She will have a very different recollection of these events.

I hope that song is stuck in your head now. What song? Re-read the title of this post. You are welcome.

Advertisements

Need to be bold, need to jump in the cold water

There was an incident recently with a plant of mine, that was thrown away in error. I cried. About a plant. Hannah the wandering jew was with me for ten years. She survived being moved from 6 different dwellings, 7 if you count that I moved her to my office because my sweet groom was feeling outnumbered by my many house plants in our newlywed nest. She is now gone, along with the macramae plant hanger my grandma Katharine made. Here’s the silver lining: I had a jar of starts in the windowsill from Hannah that survived the clean sweep. You can not defeat this one wandering jew, she goes on and on.

Its May the 9th. Seven years ago today I made a choice that has made all the difference. I call it my personal independence day. I celebrate it quietly to my self, sometimes with one of the friends that told me everything would be okay on that 2009 day. I woke up strong that day, and chose to leave the boyfriend of seven years who was not good for me at all. I chose to hope that at 27 I could start all over. I got my massage license, and started going by Kate instead of Katharine. (if you still call me that, I love it do not change it. I will always be Katharine) I colored my hair purple, and started growing it long (which were both frowned upon in my last life) I started what I call church rehab, by going to Christian gatherings, slowly rebuilding my faith. I also read the Harry Potter series, because its about time! (there are 7 books in that series if you forgot)

IMG_0329
Here’s Pony & I our new home in 09

 

On the 7th day God rested. Naaman bathed in the Jordan 7 times to cure his leprosy. Joshua marched around Jericho 7 times on the 7th day. Jesus told Peter to forgive a wrongdoer seventy times 7. It is said to be the number of completion. I have officially been away from that boyfriend longer than I was with him. So now it is finished.

My point in writing this? Celebrate your victories friends, however small. God tells his people to commemorate his faithfulness. He knows we are prone to forgetting, he commands us to remember his works in our lives. I chose to hope, and his provision is more- truly way more- than I hoped for. My groom has qualities that I couldn’t have known to ask for, that I didn’t know I deserved. Even his family is wonderful.  I am now qualified to tell people that they don’t have to settle, they can hope for things outside their reach. That our God writes us stories worth living. Sometimes our struggles can be overcome by brave choices.

If you have a victory you want to celebrate, but maybe you are embarrassed that its too small or too dorky; I think you should come over and we will pop a cork and celebrate. (There are always cold bubbles in the Pentz house, one never knows when a celebratory moment will arise) You have everything you need to do the brave thing, so go do it! Happy my independence day guys, you can raise your glass with me wherever you are today.

How a single word, can make a heart open.

I got blood in my Pointe shoe for the first time in a long time. ( In the amateur ballet world I get a high five for this) What this means is that I’m back to my old self, strong and dancing my heart out. May 31st I have an appointment to take a picture of my guts and see if that womb is strong enough to carry a person in. I feel pretty good about it.

In other news I talked 17 people into sitting around a giant table with me and pretending to be Jewish. We said all the prayers, and danced the hora, and ate the bitter herbs and I did some singing. Singing is not my deal, but it has to be done because you know…tradition. It was the most spacious Seder I’ve ever hosted in 15 years of being Jew-Ish.

“Even the most bitter of circumstances can be sweetened by the hope we have in God” That’s what we say when we eat the make-you-cry-strong horseradish (hand horsed this year!) mixed with the sweet date apple honey wine dip, almost a chutney really. I generally find this to be a deeply rooted truth in my life. (After all I have HOPE tattooed on my ribs.) I have been wrestling with the problem of pain and provision of redemption for years now.

On 9-11-01 I lived outside Philadelphia with a lovely Jewish and Protestant  family as th nanny to their 5 and not yet one year old kids. I remember watching the news that day, asking God “where are you” and immediately having a voice inside me say “I’m right there, with them”. At first it feels comforting to think that our pain is met with compassion and empathy from our creator. That there is an ever present help in time of need. For me, the next feeling is “can’t you do something?” “rescue them” “rewind time and stop this tragedy from happening”.

Keeping the Passover each year reminds me of this family, who passed these traditions on to me. Of the children saying the prayers and singing the songs and asking the questions.  It was one of the most formational years of my faith. This is sacred joy and also a deep sorrow. In July 2013 the day I became engaged to my groom, also my birthday, the boy whom I took care of in that family ended his life. He would have been 21 this March. I have never written about this before, and I already feel that this post is getting to be longer than you nice people want to read. But I have a little more to say.

I asked God the same question. Perhaps many of you have asked similar questions when faced with your own sorrows, “Where are you God?” Same response in a millisecond inside my self, I knew that God was there on that bridge with Daniel. I don’t know what that means? I don’t know why He didn’t find someone to talk him out of it, or otherwise rescue my little man. I will ask everyday if there was something I could have said, or done to help him out of that dark place. The problem of pain is a very real problem.

I’m wrestling with it daily, some days hourly. I fall short of being the best friend I can be, I don’t pick up the phone enough, I don’t say thank you as much as I could, I don’t always tell you how important you are to me. I have a bone to pick with my creator about letting that pernicious and pervasive darkness creep into Daniel’s being. But you know what? I’m picking that fight with my God. I’m asking hard questions and not settling for pat answers that do not satisfy my need for explanation.

I’m keeping the Passover. I’m eating the bitter herbs and remembering, I’m washing my friends hands at the table, I’m holding unswervingly to the Hope I profess. My expectation is that God will be my God. That is what I demand of God, that He Be My God! I am not, can not be my own God. If you have hard questions please ask them, please wrestle with darkness. Call me, because I will join you. The God i serve is not small and frightened by my questions and doubts and fears. I believe He welcomes them, because authentic relationship is what results. He is worth fighting for. And guess what, so are you.

I have included this picture of friends at brunch helping me unpack my thoughts, and letting me cry into my bloody mary. Friends are good. So good.20160430_103911

 

 

Go & make yourself some friends or you’ll be lonely

I do not keep lists, I often misplace my keys, and I’m usually late because I’m so present in the current moment I fail to look ahead for the next.  BUT when it comes to public bathrooms I have a system: 1st sit down 2nd secure the necessary amount of toilet paper 3rd unleash the torrent. Under no circumstances should you do step 3 before step 2.  I do not like to be caught unprepared in that vulnerable situation.

Being prepared isn’t always enough, is it. Sometimes being prepared is downright impossible. Its so nice and tidy to have a plan, and to avoid uncomfortable experiences where you are in need and have to ask for help. Lately my life has been filled with reaching my hand to a stranger in the next stall, hoping they can be my rescue. I don’t like being rescued, it violates my sense of autonomy.

More than my disdain for assistance, is my gratitude that even strangers are willing to help.  I had this new doctor who said that if I want to do nothing to remedy my condition that would be ok. He didn’t push his treatment plan, or a drug that he gets paid to represent, and didn’t jump to worst case scenario. That is one point for allopathic doctors in my book. However, he did send me to do a radioactive iodine uptake test.

I’m going in the morning at 8:45. It has to be Wednesday because they can only receive nuclear mail once a week, it comes from a weapons grade nuclear plant in the Midwest. Aaaand I’m supposed to put it in my body, which everyone including 2 naturopathic doctors think is safe and harmless. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!! (I actually may be)

I’m grateful to have so much support as I go into strange new kinds of medicine. I have this one friend who researches things for me, she assures me that the best possible outcome is on its way. Like googling what kind of spider that was that I just killed, she is not afraid to look up freaky procedures and the risks and benefits.  She messages me the most qualified reasons I should hope for good health, and reminds me that it could be worse-a lot worse.

313
friends. remembering friends.                            Hbd Sarah, we still miss you.

 

 

Asking the neighboring potty breaker to pass me a portion of T.P is not the worst thing that could happen. Once again I’m reminded that community is what we all need. That vulnerability is valuable, and helping someone even if we barely know them is joy inducing. For now the balance of receiving help and giving help is tipped in the accept direction. I anticipate a season when I can dispense assistance freely, I hope to be generous as my tribe has been with me. You people are awesome! Stay tuned for radioactive Kate updates.

Soon I’ll be a stranger in a strange new place

I’m one of those people who are especially enchanted with the changing of the seasons. I mark on my calendar the first flip flop day of summer, the first tree to change its leaves mesmerizes me, the first snow is marked with baking and reading and hot drinks. Today I took my wee beastie Pony for a nice long walk to settle us both down. I saw garden beds caked with brown dead matted down leaves with little purple and white crocus bulbs bravely peeping up. Daffodils will be here before you know it, the brown seemingly dead trees and bushes have tiny tiny green buds, its happening guys-SPRING IS SPRINGING. For me it was a particularly long winter and I welcome this season with big open eyes and ears. I’ve been so restless lately, even my hands are twitchy, and my heart has been beating with this new wrong rhythm. I am ready for new things to occupy my mind, things that don’t have to do with my guts.

20160311_181027
My budding Lilac bush

“Anatevka, Anatevka…intimate, obstinate, Anatevka”

I’ve had this song stuck in my head today, its at the end of Fiddler on the Roof when they have been forced out of their town and are packing up to leave the only home they have ever known. I am not at all comparing my situation to the plight of exodus, I had abdominal surgery, its not even close. All I’m saying is that I have this song in my head.

“Tumble-down, Work-a-day Anatevka.”

Anyways like I said I’ve been restless lately. I told my groom that I wished I could go back to college to become a high school english teacher. (That day, I did want that) Now it seems like way too much work. I’ve been looking at flights, and dreaming of buying a house, and maybe we should get another dog. Part of this is that I’m just scared that after all of this preparation the baby thing won’t work out. (wow, I can’t believe I just said that) The other part is…

Well let me go back a little bit. Tuesday I went to see a new Naturopathic Doctor, nothing wrong with my first ND just thought it might be good to have a fresh set of eyes on the issue. She was very doctor-y and medical-ish and I liked her a lot because she told me to drink Pregnancy Tea, and take Pre-natal vitamins and I’m like “yeah, that stuff!” She took my blood right there in her office and sent it to be analyzed. Turns out I have this high level of thyroid hormone in my body which means my thyroid is suppressed.  I’m pretty confused at how it can be suppressed and have high levels-that seems counter-intuitive. Whatever. I have an appointment with an endocrinologist next week.

So side effects of this thyroid thing are: thumping heart, shaky hands, restlessness, fatigue, and weight loss despite a good appetite. I thought all of those things were just part of recovering from surgery, and detoxing that Lupron injection from back in September. I feel glad that my “symptoms” are in fact symptoms and can be explained. Now I’m just annoyed that I have to think about my guts more. I’m over it.

“after all what have we got here? a little bit of this, a little bit of that.”

My Lenten commitment is giving up good parking, and parking in the back, and using the time it takes me to walk  in to wherever I parked to be spiritual and stuff. At first all my prayers were a wishlist of things I want to happen to me and to my people. Next my prayers were gratitude and joy at all the love and provision God has blessed me with. Both I think are good prayers, and I’ve always known that while God is an artist and likes well done things He isn’t particularly impressed with long sentences. I have turned to praying familiar Psalms as I walk in from my far parked car . Its not original but it keeps me from being apathetic. (which I would like to be sometimes, because all the feels are so many feels.) But I won’t do that, I can’t, I’m not that girl.

I will warn you, its melancholy, but I love it.

“Where else would Sabbath be so Sweet”

Want to fill the world with silly love songs

I did all the right things and now I want to do the other things. The right things did not pan out, I have 4 new fibroids just 3 months after surgery. I changed my face wash, I stopped wearing nailpolish, I haven’t colored my hair in 6 months. I woke up one morning  and drove my friends truck to work ( they let me borrow it because I broke my car) and I carried an open cup of coffee while operating the manual transmission; I realized that I’m pretty awesome because I didn’t spill any coffee. That’s when I sensed the winds of change blowing in my life.

I may feel rebellious towards all the things I put effort into that didn’t give me the perfect solution I hoped for. I just brushed my teeth and then served myself ice cream. (its coconut milk, agave sweetened ice cream but i’m still rebelling) Once this week I ate oats. Yeah. Grains. So there. Saturday I got a pedicure with nail polish. Yep, endocrine disrupting varnish…what now. Does breaking my self imposed rules make me feel better, no it does not.

I pick at my lips when I’m worried/nervous/stressed/overwhelmed.  Do you have any neurosis like that? Well picking at my lips doesn’t help. Insubordination hasn’t helped. Compliance didn’t help. I’m at my wits end trying to actively DO something to make things better. I feel like this post should resolve for you, like a sitcom. I will reveal the solution to my problem in just 30 minutes including commercial breaks.  Friends, this post is like Jazz music; it does not resolve. Yet somehow I’ve successfully resolved against lip picking for 29 days.

I can’t explain why, but I feel better. I’m walking tall,with some kind of confidence that this will all work out. I’m sleeping good, like really good and I don’t know why. Maybe its you all. I have asked for prayer and you have responded with boatloads of encouragement.With generosity and patience you have tolerated my whining and weary words.

“Come what may” I can hear Ewan McGregor singing in my mind, I’m feeling the love. Does it dissolve new fibroids? I don’t think so. Do I worry less about this situation? Yeah. I do. I worry less. You make me awesome, you make me more than I am. Love makes the world go around. Lets hear it for love.

Like the things you know are true, but never can explain when you get asked.

If I know what it is I’m not as worried about it. When pain is shrouded in mystery I pay close attention to it.  I don’t like to admit that I have any pain, I don’t want the pain to have the power of my acknowledgement. Three months ago I was under the knife and I did all the right things to heal quickly and completely. I like to brag about how I only used the pain meds for the first 4 days while I was in the hospital and then used essential oils to manage my recovery from there. I went back to work teaching dance on the 6th wednesday following my operation. (yes i am tooting my own horn, what a lovely tune I play-right?)

Well there’s pain. My sweet groom had the thought of taking me to the ER on Monday because it got so bad, but I reassured him I would take care of it Tuesday. I called my trusty Dr the moment their office opened and got in right away, blood work and ultrasound revealed that my appendix is fine and I haven’t any hemorrhagic cysts. They did reveal 4 new fibriods.

FOUR!

“They are little” said my Dr. “Don’t worry about them Kate.” He says “Take a laxative, and call me in the morning.” I’m mildly offended because I’m not stopped up-that’s not what brought me in here, and I think I would know if I was. Also I’m a hippie who does not want chemical poop movers, all I eat is vegetables and lean meat anyways. So I decide to do colon hydrotherapy and have my guts power washed out. (that experience is its own post) Still pain… Now I have these fibroids on my mind.

Its true that many women have them, and I can have a perfectly lovely pregnancy with them when they are this small. I can’t understand how they have already grown back, completely uninvited. These punks just barged into my very well cared for body and take up residence. I wan to say “This means war” alas we all know I’ve been at war with them and their predecessors for months. To quote my favorite live song ever Thanksgiving, by my favorite singer Stephen Kellogg “Lucky for us I’m not a guy that gives up, I never give up”. So lets go guts, you and me lets have it out, put em up. Actually-if you could just roll over and give up that would be fine too.

As a rose colored glasses wearer I would like to offer you this positive sentiment to wrap up today’s meeting. Here is a picture of cuties measured out to the exact gram (352) the mass of fibriods  I defeated 3 months ago yesterday. (I hear cheering from the crowd! And at least one redneck whistle, thanks Dad)

Here’s the lyrics to that favorite song I mentioned.

you know you want to watch him sing it, so click here too.

20160225_134513

A Blog about Guts & Uterine Management