Wednesday, October 30, 2013

All the Feelings

Got the official news this morning that my beloved Kia Sportage is a total loss. I wasn't surprised, but I was kind of sad. It's funny, the memories we associate with objects. My Sportage introduced me to Sirius radio, proved I could survive being vomited on, and carried my cats to Ohio for the first time. Most importantly, it protected me. I'm so grateful for that, and very sad that I'm going to reward the Sportage by having the insurance guy sell it for scrap. Sad. That was the first feeling of the day.

Surprise was the second feeling. The insurance company is offering more money for the loss than I was expecting. This means that after the car loan is paid off, I'll have a tiny bit left to use as a down payment on a new car. Surprise was a good feeling.

The third feeling of the day was frustration. My pain isn't getting better, it's getting worse. Because this was freaking me out (technically, the fourth feeling of the day) I scheduled an appointment to see my GP. He confirmed I have bruising and swelling (duh) and that it would probably last a while. It has a fancy medical name: costocondritis. He said it could be several weeks before I start feeling relief. Fantastic.

As we reached the end of the appointment, he asked me how my "emotional bruises" were doing. Enter feeling #5: overwhelmed. I hiccuped trying not to cry, but that really hurt, so I gave in and went straight to the ugly cry. God bless Dr. L - he didn't even bat an eye, just grabbed the tissue box and handed it to me. He reassured me that my physical and psychological reactions were "normal," made sure I had a support system in place and told me to go home and rest as much as possible.

Feeling #6 occurred in the parking lot. I couldn't start the freaking rental car - couldn't get the key to turn. Now, it's been over a year since I've had to deal with a key - my Sportage has had a key less ignition, but seriously, how hard could it be? I was so MAD I couldn't turn the key, start the car and just be home already. I had to call the rental company and ask them what I was doing wrong. Boy did I feel stupid (feeling #7) to learn I just had to move the steering wheel to unlock the ignition.

Finally, I was home. And the roller coaster ride of the last 5 days came to a head, and I just fell apart. I called my mum and ugly cried. The kind of cry you can only share with your mum. And even though she's 500 miles away, there was so much comfort in just talking to crying to her. I think she would have gotten in her car and driven the 9 hours to Wisconsin if I'd asked. I was crying out of fear (#8) and loss (#9) and embarrassment (#10) and confusion (#11) being overwhelmed by choices (#12) and loneliness (#13) Like I said, it was an ugly cry. Once I had calmed down enough to speak in coherent sentences and promised mum I'd talk with her later, I took some pain meds, put on pajamas and snuggled into the comfiest place on earth - my bed.

Where I proceeded to cry some more, this time from sheer exhaustion (#14) Then, with her uncanny sense for when I need her, Karen - my "in case of emergency" person called. And though I ugly cried through much of our conversation, I started feeling calmer (#15) Another call from my friend Laura, who was just checking in to see how I was doing had me feeling grateful (#16) for these amazing, supportive people in my life. One final call from my Dad (again, just checking in to see how I was doing) and I was actually feeling a bit peaceful (#17) After a few more (but much calmer) tears, I'm feeling relieved (#18)

The past 5 days have been a blur, in part because keeping myself numb to emotion has made them easier to get through. But in order to move forward, I needed to feel all the feelings. My doctor's question was spot on - I have to deal with the emotional bruises along with the physical ones. Today was hard and exhausting, but it was a step forward.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Feeling Fragile

I got a rental car today, and I had not even driven 1/2 mile when someone pulled out in front of me and I had to slam on my brakes. My heart raced and my chest hurt and I had to pull over and take deep breaths to calm down.

I also went to clean out my car today. It's still sitting in the tow-yard lot, waiting for the adjuster to take a look at it. I needed to pick up my office keys that were still in, and figured I might as well clean out the whole thing in case it gets totaled out. Here's what a car going about 45 mph looks like after plowing into the back of a mini-van.
Karen, my "contact in case of emergency" person warned me it wasn't pretty. I didn't remember what it looked like after it happened - selective memory I guess. And I thought I was ready to see it. But it shook me up. I had to pry open the driver side door in order to get in and clean stuff out of the glove box and console. Ever wonder what an airbag looks like after it's gone off? It looks like this:
Deflated . . . kind of like my driving mojo . . .

Driving away from the tow lot, my chest hurt again and I realized I was just one hyperventilation away from a panic attack. I forced myself to think about Starbucks, which made me realize I wasn't focusing on the road, which is why I got in this dang predicament, which made my chest hurt again . . .

The fact is I had an accident because I was distracted for a few seconds. This happens ALL THE TIME - to every driver. We notice the cute Halloween decoration, or the bicycle darting in and out of traffic or a funny license plate. Billboards and store signs are designed to get our attention - to take our attention off the road. (And don't even get me started on people who text & drive - ufdah.) We are taught in driver's ed that we must always have our eyes! on! the! road! - but the reality is that's just not possible. I should have been more aware of the traffic in front of me, but even if I had been, there's no guarantee that the person behind me would have been. Instead of the plow-er I could have been the plow-ee.

The random-ness of it all makes me feel panicky and fragile. My psyche is bruised. My body is bruised. My ego is bruised. I have to remember that it takes time for bruises to heal. That they change color through the healing process, but that just indicates that the healing is making progress. There's no way to rush the healing. So I am trying very hard to concentrate on breathing. And keeping my eyes on the road.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Blame Game

I  blame the Skeleton in the back of the truck. That's the reason I plowed into the back of a mini van. If there had not been a really cute Halloween decoration passing me, I would have been paying attention to my lane of traffic. I would have been able to brake in time. I would have made it to the grocery store, gone home, baked cookies and cleaned house.

Instead I took a second to laugh at a skeleton in the back of a pickup truck and plowed into the back of a mini van. (I know I keep using the word "plowed" - but that's how my head remembers it when I replay it.) And instead of going to the grocery store, I went to the ER. Instead of a $25 grocery bill, I have a $187.50 ticket to pay. And it is ALL THE SKELETON'S FAULT!!! I want to hunt that silly truck owner down and ask them what they hell they were thinking!

I don't want to be the one to blame. But I am. And that is embarrassing. A bit humiliating. Quite humbling. Since I've been stuck at home with no car and a lot of painkillers, I've been thinking about blame and ownership. If someone tells the story of a car accident, it is always a story of how someone else was at fault. No one tells the story of when they were at fault. And since we are a culture that learns behavior (even attitudes and beliefs) modeling what others do, I'm a little lost. For some reason, it's important to my psyche that I own up to the fact that I royally fucked up when I was driving on Friday. I allowed myself to be distracted. I deserve an inattentive driving ticket. But it sure would be nice to know I'm not the only one.

Friday, October 25, 2013

I Want a Do-Over

When I was in 4th grade and we would play kickball in gym, there would inevitably be a play (are they safe or out!?!) that needed teacher intervention. My 4th grade gym teacher's name escapes me, but I do remember that she was NEVER able to help officiate our kickball games. She had just one intent in taking us outside for kickball - to improve her tan. With her arms stretched wide, eyes closed and her face to the sun, she never saw whatever controversial play needed officiating, so her standard response was always "Do over!"

As much as the dreaded "Do over!" bothered me in elementary school, I wish it were a real possibility as a grown up. Especially on a day like today. I want a do-over. I NEED a do-over.

I was driving home after some coaching, with plans in my head that I needed to get groceries and stop at the library. Chugging along at close to the 45 mph speed limit, a truck passed me in the left lane. It had the most adorably decorated skeleton posed in the truck-bed and it made me laugh. Then, I plowed into the back of a mini-van.


Seat belt grabbed me hard, airbag deployed, dust everywhere. There was a really-long-really-short moment when I realized what had happened. Then I remembered to breathe. Then I started freaking out when I realized there was smoke coming from my dashboard. And I couldn't get my door open.

Did you know that after an airbag deploys there is often smoking that occurs from the discharge and this will make you think your car is on fire? Huh - me neither!

After using some shoulder muscle, I was finally able to get the door open enough to squeeze myself and my purse out of the car. At this point, I realized that my car horn was blaring constantly. I walked up to the blue mini-van, and the man driving it said he was fine. The chain reaction I had started continued when he hit (so lightly I couldn't see any damage) the car in front of him. I pulled out my phone to call 911 and my phone started freaking out that it! was! shutting! down! because it was out of a charge. WTF.

The next series of events are a little hazy. I realized my chest hurt. Really, really hurt. And the rush of adrenalin was causing a rush of sound in my ears. The cop arrived and told me I'd have to turn off my car horn. Then he said something along the lines of "Ha ha - just joking." I was not amused. And the woozy, unsteady feeling was getting worse. Then, out of nowhere, Karen pulls up. My "contact in case of emergency" person just happened to see me standing beside my destroyed car and came to my aid! She was supposed to be picking up students to head to a tournament - but she stopped to make sure I was OK. Gosh, I love that woman.

Then things get even more hazy because I was getting woozy and dizzy and it felt like a stake had been driven into my chest. At some point I ended up on the ground, then I was in an ambulance and I was freaking out because my "contact in case of emergency" person wasn't with me. The EMT wanted to start an IV. I told him the last IV I had took 3 phlebotomists and 2 surgeons before it was set, but he was undaunted. Now, I tend to sing whenever I have to have a shot or an IV - it distracts me and I'm less likely to pass out. So I warned the EMT I was going to sing. Two verses and 2 choruses of Eminem's "Lose Yourself" later, the EMT gave up finding a vein and the entire ambulance crew gave me props for singing the last song they would have ever guessed. I think I passed out again after that.
At the hospital, I got a shot for pain (Yea!!) had an EKG and chest X-rays taken. The doc was a little concerned I had cracked my sternum, but the x-rays came back clear. Once they were sure my adrenalin rush (and cause of all the pass-out-i-ness) was under control I got to come home. Shout out to Caitlyn and Kyra who stayed w/ me in the ER and then brought me home.

I got an "Inattentive Driving" ticket, which I totally deserve and will cost me $187.50.  This makes me want a do-over. My deductible is $500. This also makes me want a do-over. Whenever I shift my weight, stand up, sit down, or move my arms, the pain makes me want a do-over. The hike that my insurance is going to take makes me want a do-over. The insurance adjuster telling me my car is probably a total loss makes me want a do-over. The embarrassment I feel that I let a stupid Halloween decoration distract me makes me want a do-over. Seeing the bruise already forming from the seat belt makes me want a do-over. But do-overs are for kids and kickball games. I don't get one.

So as I write this blog in a haze of painkillers, I'm trying to find the Grace in it all. I'm so grateful that no-one was injured! I'm grateful for police officers and EMT's and ER docs/nurses/techs who were so kind and did their jobs so well. I'm so grateful for dear friends who came to my aid when I needed them. If I got a do-over, I wouldn't have this gratitude. Perhaps that is the Grace I'm meant to find?

One other thing. Remember the vomit incident I wrote about in January? As I use my defrost on chilly fall mornings, I've been trying to figure out how to get the last vestiges of that smell out of my car. Well . . . problem solved?

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Wedding

I went to a wedding this past weekend. This is kind of a big deal, because I don't normally "do" weddings. It's not that I hate them, they just make me uncomfortable. There's probably a huge psychoanalysis of why, but that's a blog for another day. . .

This was a wedding I HAD to attend. Not because someone made me, but because I needed to see these two people marry with my own eyes. You see, H and B were both former forensics students.
I watched them individually navigate their way through growing up and choosing career paths and experiencing heartbreak. And then I got to watch them find their way to each other. And fall in love. Not the giggly, goofy, silly love that hits us over the head and makes us crazy when we are young. This was a love formed of friendship and respect and laughter. And there was something in me that needed to see them make promises to each other, before God and their families and friends.

So . . . I went to a wedding. I was thrilled to ride with Karen and even more thrilled that her husband volunteered to be our designated driver. Oh - and I got to ride in the cushy back seat with my friend Jack.
And we drove to a church in the middle of a corn field
in the middle of Minnesota
And there were other former forensics students who came! From California and Florida!

And Karen and I got to be adults without having to
be in charge of college students
And the bride was so joyful
And the groom was more relaxed than I had see him in a long time
And we ate cake
And laughed so hard our cheeks hurt.
And it was just a perfect day. I was so honored that I got to witness the promise and hope of love.
Congratulations H & B!!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

5 things on my mind . . .

1. I attended my first wake as an adult. My friend's dad died, and I couldn't attend the funeral because of work, so I went to the wake. It was odd, standing in line with all of these people I didn't know but who had a connection to my friend. My friend's dad had been a Boy Scout leader for years, and it touched my heart to see Eagle Scouts both young and old coming to pay their respects. I hope my friend could feel the love and support I so desperately wanted to convey in just a few words of condolence.

2. This week I also "married" a family. Some friends flew to Vegas to get married, but wanted some type of ceremony uniting the bride's daughter with them as well. So at their wedding reception, I officiated this joining of a family. It was simple and beautiful. It also made me add to my bucket list "Officiate a marriage." So, if you want to get married - let me know and I'll hook you up.

3. There are few things I find more satisfying than feeding people. It has become my habit to bake a different type of cookie each week for my Tuesday night class. I come by this honestly, as my mum is such an amazing baker. Last year for Christmas mum wrote out each of her cookie recipes and put them in a binder. I'm currently working my way through the recipes for my night class. When I read her handwriting I feel like she's right there with me in the kitchen. She is bossy, even in her writing :-)

4. I am feeling fat and ugly and gross lately. Probably from all the cookies I've been sampling.

5. I'm seriously addicted to the new TV show "The Blacklist." It is freakishly good.

5.1. It's only 33 days until Catching Fire opens in movie theaters. I'm still determining if it's worth the anxiety attack (because of the crowds of people) to attend the midnight showing.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

It's a simple thing

I just got back from an EPIC trip to the Walmart. One of those trips that takes planning, lists, more lists and a shot of caffeine to get things started. I was READY!! Planned for early morning so I wouldn't have to run over small children in order to shut them up, all my re-usable shopping bags collected, pen that actually worked in my purse, strategic plan through the store mapped out. I just had to do one small thing before I began . . . I had to return an item. . .

I arrived at the customer service desk at 7:50. There were already 4 people in line ahead of me (WTF?!) and there was one woman working. She had to call the manager for help in every. single. transaction. 15 minutes later, I was BEYOND irritated. FINALLY it was my turn. By this time, I was feeling quite snarky. I mean, it's not even the holiday season and the line at customer service takes forever to get through?? As I approached the counter, the customer service woman apologized profusely for the slow line. Let me say that again - she APOLOGIZED. And you know what? That made it better. She acknowledged the inconvenience and pain-in-the-assness waiting in the line was for me. The significance of this apology didn't really hit me until after my shopping trip.

After spending $200 on enough household supplies & groceries to keep me stocked until January, I decided to swing through McDonald's for a celebratory not-in-any-way-healthy-but-oh-so-delicious breakfast. I just wanted a sausage biscuit and a coffee. There was a bit of a line, but, whatever. I paid at the first window, and at the pick up window I was asked to pull over to the side as my order was not quite ready. I was assured they would bring it out to me shortly. Fine. I pulled over. And waited. And waited. And waited. Then I got out my phone and flipped on the stopwatch, just to have visual proof to remind me that I should get more pissed off with each passing second. All the cars behind me got through the line and left. There were no cars in the drive through. And still I waited. . .

Finally, when my stopwatch read 7:36 (I didn't start it until I'd been waiting about 4-5 minutes) a young man brought my food. I asked, "Is there a reason I've been waiting over 10 minutes for this?" His reply? "You have a GREAT day!" I wanted an apology. I wanted an acknowledgement that they had fucked up and forgotten me. Instead, I got a passive-aggressive asshole response. I may or may not have yelled "You're welcome!!!" to him as he walked back across the parking lot. Which I realize made me sound like a sad, crazy person.

After unpacking my groceries and eating my now cold sausage biscuit it dawned on me just how important a simple apology can be. I was so irritated at the Walmart, but an apology made it all better. I was irritated at McDonald's and am still irritated an hour later. Makes me wonder if I would even be writing this post if I had gotten an apology from both places.

It really is a simple thing, an apology - but it can make all the difference. Note to self: apologize more often.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

70 things

I should warn you. This is going to be a crazy post. Because TODAY is my mum's birthday AND I'M CELEBRATING!! This amazing woman is 70. SEVENTY!
And because I can think of no better way to honor her, I'm going to list 70 interesting facts about her. Are you ready?

70. Her first name is Bessie. I can even sing a song called "Bessie the heifer," but she's really not a fan of it.

69. Her middle name is Angeline. She really is one of the "angels"

68. Her maiden name is Hopkins. No relation to the Hopkins who signed the Declaration of Independence. I checked.

67. She was born on October 9th, 1943 in a house just 2 doors down from where she currently lives. Gas was 15 cents a gallon.

66. Mum nearly didn't survive her own birth. The doctor told grandma Nora the baby was "stuck," and that either she or the baby wouldn't make it. My grandpa Victor insisted that Nora live. Miraculously, they both did.

65. When Bessie was just a couple of months old, she came down with a severe case of whooping cough. Again, the doctor warned my Grandma Nora it would probably be fatal. He wanted to try a new drug, but was concerned that it hadn't been used that much on such young babies. The drug was Penicillin. And it worked.

64. Bessie is the youngest of 5 girls, (the others are Evadne, Winnifred, Susan and Marjorie) and often pouted when she had to wear hand-me-downs. There is pictorial proof of this!

63. When she was a little girl, she had a pet rabbit. One evening, she learned her rabbit was being served for supper. This did not end well. For her or the rabbit.

62. When she was a little girl, she decided that she would one day have twins. (This will become important later in the list.)

61. Bessie was in the marching band, and played saxophone.

60. She always thought she was chubby growing up, but would have been about a size 10 by today's standards.

59. Bessie's dad (my grandpa Victor) died when she was in high school. Mum has told me I am the only person she knows who has hair as black as his.
 58. Her mother (Nora) was an elementary school teacher, so mum didn't get away with much in school

57. She grew up in, and still attends the Edgerton United Methodist Church.

56. After graduating high school, she attended nursing school in Ft. Wayne Indiana.

55. The only time she has not lived in the village of Edgerton was when she attended nursing school.

54. Bessie met my dad, Lannie Wright at a fair.

53. While mum & dad were planning a huge wedding for June 1965, my dad got his draft notice. At the time, if you were married, you could get a reprieve from being drafted. They secretly married on March 3rd, 1965, and had their large church wedding on June 6th, 1965.

52. Mum gave birth to her first child (me!) on December 19th, 1965. You do the math :-)

51. Mum gave birth to twins Curtis Jay and Leslie Kay on April 25th, 1968. There were no twins on either side of the family. Proving that my mum is the most stubborn person on the planet.

50. In the mid-1970's, Bessie was one of a small group of people who began the volunteer EMS in Edgerton Ohio. She volunteered with the EMS through the 1990's.

49. On June 17th, 1977, Mum gave birth to her 4th child. He is the only child to be given a family name. His middle name is Victor.
48. Mum always made birthdays incredibly special. She made our favorite foods, elaborately decorated cakes, and we always got out of chores for the day.

47. She also knew how to make every holiday fun. I remember on St. Patrick's Day, we drank green milk and ate green mashed potatoes. Valentine's Day lunches always contained a heart shaped sandwich and supper was heart shaped pizza.

46. Bessie is left handed, which made it impossible for her to teach me to sew.

45. Mum is a very talented cake decorator, and makes the most beautiful icing roses. She would make dozens of delicate icing flowers, and then store them in the freezer until she needed them. Some of her kids (who were jerks) would raid the freezer for these delicious decorations. The freezer was kept locked for most of my childhood.

44. Her favorite swear is "Well, horseshit!"

43. In the late 70's, she had hair longer than her waist. She had it all cut off, and for years, that hair was kept in a box in her closet.

42. Around 1990, mum had an in-ground pool installed. It has a deep-end. Mum didn't know how to swim, so she started swimming lessons when she was in her mid-40's.

43. Within a year, she was diving from the diving board!

42. When we were in high school, mum came to every single event we were involved in. She didn't just come to one night of the musical - she bought tickets for every single night of the musical. I can't believe she still has her sanity.

41. She even came all the way to Eau Claire WI, to see a show I had 3 lines in.

40. Mum was a nurse for over 30 years, most spent working in nursing homes.

39. Occasionally, mum would have a favorite resident at the nursing home, and she would invite them to outings like parades or dinner.

38. Whenever she wrote notes for us kids, she used nurses shorthand, and she always signed them with bubbly-drawn lips.

37. Mum started me in baton lessons when I was 2 1/2. I won my first twirling trophy on her birthday in 1970.

36. Mum would sit with me while I practiced my baton routines. She had each routine tediously written out and would check to make sure I did every trick perfectly.

35. She made most of my sister and my twirling costumes.

34. Bessie's celebrity crush is Tom Selleck. Or David Caruso. Don't make her choose!

33. In 1998, Mum had an aneurysm burst in her brain. She underwent brain surgery where she had 2 metal clips implanted to protect the brain from further injury. A mere 3 months later, she returned to work as a nurse.

32. As broken hearted as Mum was after she and my dad divorced, she never talked bad about him to us kids.

31. She is a voracious reader. I was finally able to teach her how to order library books online, and she has piles of books waiting to read.

30. Mum's house is very popular at Halloween, because she hands out her homemade cookies.

29. Mum once completely changed her clothes while in the passenger seat of my car as we sped through New Mexico.

28. Whether mild or tragic, if something goes wrong you can count on mum to remind you that "It will be alright!"

27. Mum religiously does water aerobics 3-5 days a week. She credits this to not feeling her age.

26. Bessie served on the Edgerton Village Council for many years, including serving in the role of Council President.

25. She has also received the Edgerton Citizenship award.

24. She has survived 2 different cases of pulmonary embolism.

23. About 10 years ago, mum was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. She continued to work through both chemo and radiation. She was as beautiful bald as she is with hair. And she beat the damn cancer.

24. She also beat bladder cancer!

23. Bessie is a very talented sewer. She made many of our clothes when we were young, and is frequently busy repairing and altering clothing for her grandkids.

22. Bessie has 8 grandkids and 2 grandcats.

21. When they were young, she would have all the grandkids over for slumber parties. Most of them ended up in bed with her by morning.

20. Bessie is most known for cookies. She bakes and sells them through the year, but takes orders months in advance for Christmas cookies. This passion really took off once she retired from nursing in 2008.

19. She makes 24 different kinds of cookies for her Christmas cookie trays.

18. Every year, she delivers cookies to all of her neighbors.

17. She also cans some pretty incredible salsa and pizza sauce.

16. Because she worked 3rd shift as a nurse for 30+ years, her sleep patterns are wonky. She has been known to bake cookies at 3am, while in her pajamas.

15. Mum individually wraps each cookie she bakes. This way, cookies stay fresh tasting after being frozen and they keep their intended texture when mixed on a tray.

14. She starts baking for the Christmas season in August. She fills 3 freezers full of her delicious cookies.

13. Mum broke her left humerus 2 years ago. I'm not supposed to tell the story of how she broke it, but it's pretty funny. (It may or may not have involved her trying to get people to laugh at her silliness as she hopped around in slippers while volunteering at the free clothing store.)

12. Her favorite movie is "Dirty Dancing" - and she still hasn't gotten over Patrick Swayze's death.

11. Naps are her favorite time of day.

10. She thinks ugly Christmas sweaters are really pretty.

9. Bessie's favorite TV shows are CSI, NCIS and Dancing With the Stars. Do NOT call her when DWTS is on as it will make her very angry!

8.  Mum's Christian faith is very important to her. Her beliefs are deeply seated, though she is very humble about them.

7. She has a smile that starts in her eyes.

6. Her hugs are soul satisfying - she rarely lets-go first.

5. Bessie is generous - with her time, her talent for listening, with her plates of cookies and help wherever it's needed. She is always giving in some way - to her family, her church, her community. She once even cooked dinner for my forensics team when we were driving through on our way to a national tournament!

4. She is incredibly open minded. Even if she doesn't agree with you, she will listen to your viewpoint and carefully consider it.

3. She is supportive. Even if she thinks you are making the dumbest or craziest choice, she will support you in whatever way she can.

2. She is stunningly beautiful.

1. She is one of the bravest people on the planet. I'm pretty sure she has a super-hero cape hidden between her shoulder blades.

Happy Birthday, mum. I thank God that He gave me to you. You are the reason I can laugh really hard even in the most ridiculous of situations. You are the reason I know it takes bravery to get through the tough situations. And you are the reason I learned to listen in the quiet situations. But most importantly, you taught me to embrace the world with an open heart.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


It's October! The month of scary witches, ghosts & zombies! The month of terror! The month of Black! And Orange! And . . . Pink!! THE MONTH TO CELEBRATE BREAST CANCER!!!

At least that's what it sometimes feels like. Unless you are wearing pink jeans, pink cardigan, pink keds, pink Victoria Secret unmentionables, with a matching pink ribbon necklace/earrings/pin set, carrying a special-edition pink ribbon purse, pink ribbon brief case and pink ribbon lunchbox, driving your car with pink ribbon floor mats and a pink ribbon dangling from your rear-view mirror - you are doin' it WRONG. Because, at least according to Facebook and most of the interwebs, PINK CURES BREAST CANCER!! Hallelujah! Who needs science?! We can be cured by drinking from a PINK RIBBON WATER BOTTLE!

What a bunch of bullshit. (And I should warn you right now, I feel passionately about this. And when I'm passionate about something I tend to swear. A lot.) We have become a culture so obsessed with the "Pink for a cure!" mentality, we completely ignore the single most effective thing we can do to prevent breast cancer deaths: Scheduling our mammogram. We think that buying a limited-edition pink ribbon t-shirt "helps" prevent/cure breast cancer. When we "walk for the cure" or purchase a pink-ribbon cell phone case we are contributing to "finding a cure" and we absolve ourselves of needing to be involved at a real level. This makes me so frustrated - because ACTIVELY preventing/detecting/diagnosing/treating breast cancer is so FREAKING EASY. Just schedule a damn mammogram.

A friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer several weeks ago. Today, she had a lumpectomy with lymph node removal. A year ago, she had a mammogram that was completely clear. Several weeks ago, she had a mammogram that showed cancer. Stage 1, no visible lymph node involvement. Pretty much, the best diagnosis you can get if you have to get a diagnosis at all. Now let me explain, I don't think I have ever seen her wear pink. EVER. A pink ribbon didn't cure her cancer. It didn't even find her cancer. Her cancer was found because SHE took control of her own breast health. SHE scheduled regular mammograms. A fucking pink ribbon played no part.

If you are reading this blog, please - PLEASE - schedule your mammogram. And don't be shy - ask the women in your life when they get their mammograms. Badger them until they get one. Keep track of when you have them and when your next one should be. Mine is in December, just before my birthday. Happy Birthday to ME!

And don't forget about the often-neglected-but-still-really-important self breast exam. Think of it as an excuse to feel yourself up. And guys - don't forget that you are also at risk for breast cancer. So don't ignore breast swelling, tenderness, lumps or pain.

If you want to wear a pink ribbon, well, have a party. But that pink ribbon will never be anything but a pink ribbon. If you want to have an impact on breast cancer, take control of your own breast health. One boob at a time, we can have a real impact on the lives of women, men, and families who must cope with breast cancer.