I was crying again. We were on a hike, trying to get some down-time in before we needed to pack for our trips.
Poor Boyfriend. Even I wanted to scream at myself, "Again? With the crying?"
But he hugged me close instead. "It's okay honey, let it out, let it flow."
There's that word again. FLOW.
I know I'm angry. I know I'm repressing my anger. A shaman told me that anger is fire, and fire could be balanced with more water in my life. I need to learn how to flow like water. Take a swim. Watch the river flow. Do my yoga with the intention of flowing like water. Go with the flow.
"So if I'm angry, I can let the tears flow?"
"Yes, just feel what you feel. Let it out."
"My contact just exploded from the crying. Ugh, I can't see..."
"Just close your eyes. You don't need them to see - just listen instead."
Suddenly I heard it. The sound of the river flowing beneath us we sat on a rock above the bank. And everything was clearer.
I went to bed last night in a funk. I woke up in a funk. Despite my efforts at "taking it easy", the requirements for application to county and state medical financial aid are stressing me out. Multiple appointments at various offices around the city and via telephone, each requiring me to detail reasons for and proof of my absence of income, rehash my broken marriage and subsequent divorce, chronicle just how somebody has this much debt...
It's making me TIRED.
Boyfriend just drove down the lane, off to an evening of Wednesday night sailing. As soon as the Land Cruiser disappeared from view, the project I was working on imploded, leaving a lengthy, indecipherable error message in it's wake.
Now what am I supposed to do?
The dishes are clean. The laundry is done. And Boyfriend even vaccumed this morning, after he scooped the litterbox.
Can't drive anywhere. Shouldn't hike around in the wilderness by myself. Time alone? With nothing to do?
Huh. I guess I'll take some books, magazines, my iPod, and the cat to the front porch.
I'll even take it with a full glass of water. Now how do I get a refill?
I couldn't believe it the first time around. I couldn't believe there could be so many either misinformed or hateful Californians. And here we are again.
Boyfriend and I put our names on the mailing list for the Courage Campaign last fall, after Californians voted fo pass Proposition 8 with 52.24% of the vote. After attending a screening of Milk in December which was followed by a candlight vigil and conversation with gay rights activists, we were moved to do something.
So I began sharing the story of Harvey Milk, encouraging friends, family, everyone to see the movie, to learn about this important, but overlooked, piece of American history, and to understand the how important it is to stand up for everyone's human rights. I told people, "The thing is, once you know someone who is gay, if you have a family member who is gay, gay rights becomes human rights, and it's a no-brainer. We're all human." But my own brother doesn't have the same rights as I do, and I can't imagine how that is possible for one second.
Boyfriend was compelled to write down his thoughts all those months ago. I'll share them with you now:
"Watching the movie Milk made me realize a number of things. It made me realize that bigotry is as alive today as it was a century ago. It made me realize the amount of courage being openly gay requires, to say nothing of taking a stand on an issue or seeking office. It starkly demonstrated the difference between being open with strangers and being open with your family or others whose opinions matter so much more.
Bigotry does not stand on Reason. Bigotry stands on dogma or certainty in the unprovable. Bigotry stands on the fact that one's neighbors believe the same way. Unfortunately, it stands on the fear of speaking out in the face of near universal hostility, a hostility itself born of fear.
It is easy, being straight, to disregard gay rights as a fringe issue. But in the end, it's no different than what Reverend Martin Niemoeller's words so starkly spoke of in Nazi Germany: “... Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up.” We have freedom only when everyone has freedom.
America is one of the very few places (and times) in all of world history where personal and religious freedom allow a person to practice or state one's beliefs openly. "Love that or leave it" as Mr. Milk was quoted as saying in the movie. Undermine that and none of us have freedom.
What the Milk movie made me realize is just how important personal courage is in fighting bigotry. Personal courage is the willingness to stand alone, to stand up in the face of near universal disapproval from both strangers as well as the ones we love.
The personal courage of early believers in Christianity to die for their faith didn't lead to extermination; it led to mass conversion. To me this is the most important thing for the gay rights movement to (re-)learn today. Let the Declaration of Independence stand on Reason. Let the courts stand on Reason. And let how you believe stand on Reason. But convince others with personal courage."
So while the California State Supreme Court's decision to uphold Proposition 8 was extremely disappointing, I'm not giving up hope. Life is not worth living without hope. I'm with Harvey Milk.
As in "Yours Truly".
As in "Truly, Madly, Deeply".
As in "It's truly no accident that this cat showed up when she did".
As in "Truly-The-World's-Sweetest-Smartest-Most-Beautiful-Cat-Ever".
But they all seemed a bit long, so Truly seems just right.
The prize for the most thoughtful suggestion, however, goes to my dad, who suggested "Eartha Kitty", because then we "wouldn't have to change her last name". I'd known Eartha Kitt was this beautifully exotic-looking songstress from the 50's and 60's, but did you know that she also played Catwoman during the final season of the the television series "Batman"?
Good one, Dad.
Unfortunately, that suggestion came after we'd determined Truly was truly the best name for her. She seems to like it and it resonates with us, so we're sticking with it. Naming the next girl-cat may have become much easier, however!
Thank you so much for all your suggestions!
People have been asking me for a health update. I've been meaning to write it but so much has been happening creatively and energetically, I've been procrastinating. I mean, who wants to talk about her brain tumor when there are so many other exciting things to do? Seriously.
But it's time. Mostly because I think I've spoken to enough doctors and reiterated the information to enough family members and close friends that I'm actually capable of writing an intelligent update at this point. A week ago, not so much. Who knew that I would someday speak fluent medical-ese?
To get you caught up.
I suffered a seizure almost a month ago when I was home alone. I had stayed up way too late, been working way too hard, and I've been really stressed for over six months now. The seizure, head trauma and resulting swelling caused two mild seizures (for which I was concious) a few days later, the day Boyfriend took me to the ER. A CT scan in the ER revealed that I have a fairly good-sized brain tumor in the right temporal lobe of my brain. I was informed by the ER doc that what I had experienced, both unconsiously and consciously were in fact seizures. I was immediately admitted to the hospital for a week of tests and observation.
What the doctors are saying.
7 out of 8 of my western doctors* agree on the the basics of my situation: The combination of the tumor's presence and my stress level caused the first seizure. The sample taken from my biopsy, the size of the tumor, and my PET scan all indicate the tumor is slow-growing, low-grade, not aggressive, not metabolizing sugar, and only 10% of the cells are reproducing. Surgery and radiation aren't worth the risk at this time. Unless the tumor appears to grow or become more aggressive, it can be monitored very well with MRIs every two months. Oral chemo may shrink the tumor, but there's certainly enough time to feel out more options; there's no rush. All eight doctors do agree that I need to talk to specialists for more information and continue taking Keppra to prevent another seizure. I'm an otherwise healthy 32-year-old woman with a brain tumor.
*The eighth doctor believes that it was solely the brain tumor's presence that caused my seizure. But I KNOW how over-tired and stressed out I've been, so if I get a vote, I'm with the other seven.
What I'm doing for now.
I intend to follow up with the referrals to specialists by my doctors, and whatever tests and MRIs would allow me and my doctors to monitor the tumor. I am staying on the anti-seizure meds for now - my mind has become much clearer over the last week, although I still have to be careful not to try to do too much in any given day.
I have heard many good things about the oral chemo regimen, but will need to do my own research prior to signing on for the ingestion of 2 years worth of chemicals. I've been told that some people have all of the adverse reactions and none of the benefits; some are helped remarkably and have no nausea or side effects.
I've long been a student of metaphysics and alternative therapies, so pursuing alternative and mind-body medicine to treat my condition is an obvious route. I've spoken with many of my metaphysical friends and holistic health care providers for their ideas, support, and energy work. I've been doing some energy work with a magnificent shaman to whom I've just been introduced but have heard about for many months. He has given me homework to do - homework that I've intended to do for a long time anyway, but am now hyper-compelled to do, since being notified that I have a brain tumor. There are no accidents.
I will also be managing my health nutritionally, taking supplements and eating food with anti-cancer and tumor-fighting properties. Most of you know that I lead a fairly healthy lifestyle and eat really healthy anyway. I'll be consulting a nutritionist friend and this book to amp up my nutrition even further. Since my diagnosis I've been craving even more raw, fresh fruits and veggies than normal, so I'm thinking my body already has a good sense of what to do.
I've been doing my energy work, meditation and yoga practice daily. Sometimes I'm joined by Kitty and Boyfriend and it's good to have (even more) support! I've been working less, relaxing more, and writing, writing, writing. I've been allowing myself to breathe and do what I love, and it's resulting in an increased level of synchronicity in my life! Amazing new contacts, dear old friends and fabulous opportunities abound!
Next week I'm headed to Denver to stay with friends for the 2+ weeks Boyfriend will be sailing in New Zealand. I'll be relaxing with friends, both human and equine, and meeting with some healers there.
The picture at right shows the tuber's progression over the last 20 days. My hard work is paying off - you can see that that it's shriveled to a mere raisin of its former, tubular self.