I’m having a lot of trouble writing everything I want to write here because I’m a mess at the moment – I’m distracted and stressed and feeling overwhelmed – so, I’ve decided to just do it in segments. Small, manageable bits that will hopefully become a cohesive story at the end. Here is the beginning.
Way back when I lived in San Francisco (2003), I noticed a bump/lump in my throat/thyroid area. I was in the backseat of my aunt’s car and caught my reflection in her rearview mirror and saw this lump on my neck that seemed to have shown up literally overnight. I had it biopsied at UCSF and they said it was benign and to have a nice life and I’ve spent the last decade ignoring it. This past fall, I happened to feel another lump near it, which freaked me out, but I waited till the new year to investigate it because of my giant deductible – why do anything at the tail end of the year? Long (annoying, full of expletives) story short, I was finally able to see a thyroid specialist and surgeon at the beginning of February.
The appointment was supposed to be just a preliminary chat – prelude to a biopsy – but he took sixteen samples from my thyroid right then and there because he didn’t want to wait even a week till my next appointment for a biopsy. He said that UCSF should have had me back every six months for new biopsies and that the lump itself really should have been removed at the time because thyroid lumps like mine can become cancerous any time, even if a biopsy comes back benign. So I’ve been living with a time bomb in my body and didn’t even know it.
The results from the biopsy came back benign, hallelujah. I will have surgery to remove my entire thyroid next week (his ultrasound showed lumps and cysts and calcium deposits all over, it was a mess). The surgeon is awesome. Not local but near-ish, and he has a ton of experience with this procedure so I trust him with a knife to my throat. Then my whole thyroid will be tested in it’s entirety for the C-word.
I cannot end this post without acknowledging the emails and comments and support I’ve received over the past weeks from you Out There. Thank you. I have more to say on the matter, but in the meantime: you have opened me more than the surgeon will next week. I bow to you.
Oy! I did not mean to invoke politics in my last post. My “Thanks, Obama” was meant in this vein (if you’re not familiar with the meme, it’s very funny and obviously a joke, though my joke was obvious only in my own head). I certainly do not disparage those who’ve finally been able to get health insurance. I do think the ACA should have a different name and there’s a lot more work that needs to be done; health care is still not affordable to many. My heart broke and my blood boiled reading other people’s stories of crazy-expensive care in the comment section.
My first boyfriend was a young Republican (still is) who, during the mandatory high school reading period, read the Wall Street Journal which he carried around in lieu of a book. He wrote me lots of love notes and, beneath his signature, always added “Pat Buchanan in ’92!!!” or something equally horrifying. I was an anarchist hippy (still am); I spent that reading period with Anais Nin and got suspended for smoking pot at school. We were constantly debating – either debating or making out. One debate that I remember: I was using bicycles to make my point, as I was still too young to drive. My thesis statement was that everything should be free. If you needed a bicycle, and there was one sitting there on the sidewalk, it should be accepted that you could take it and ride it to where you needed to go and then leave it for the next person to use. And this extended to everything, all the time. He was like, “if everything were free, nobody would do anything” and I was like, “honor trumps money and cooperation trumps capitalism.” And then we glared at each other and then we made out.
I was not expecting the offers of donations after my last post. Not expecting – but also not surprised because you out there are wonderful to me. But at each mention, the response in my head was NO! No way. Thank you and you’re amazing and so generous and full of kindness and I love hearing your love but no.
When I rode my Vespa across the country, I received help from others nearly every day. People offered help in quick moments – giving directions or high fives – but equally often, they gifted me with major investments of time and trust. People I met on the road – in ice cream shops, coffee shops, gas stations, and bars – invited me into their homes, gave me a bed or a spot on the floor for my sleeping bag, fed me, let me soak in their tubs, offered up their washers and dryers. I never once had an internal debate about accepting their generosity. My response was purely “WOW!” and “THANK YOU.”
But money is weird. There’s a lot of superstition around money. There was an early morning ambulance call a few months ago, a terrible rollover – I’m guessing the driver swerved to avoid a deer and lost control. His Bronco flipped and rolled multiple times. The solo driver was thrown through the windshield and was killed instantly. His belongings were scattered all over the road, tossed from the vehicle during the rolls as every window blasted out. I, too, have a Bronco, and a vehicle like that becomes like a storage locker – it’s really easy to accumulate a lot of random cargo. Since there was nothing we could do as EMTs, we began picking up the dozens of items that had been flung across the road, putting them back into the Bronco through the broken windows. Tools. A hard hat. Numerous wrappers and crumpled receipts. A small cooler. Lots of clothes. A dollar bill. There was a single dollar bill lying on the pavement pretty close to the Bronco. And none of us picked it up. None of us COULD pick it up! A fellow crew member mentioned it as we were driving back to town. “Did you see the dollar bill? I couldn’t touch it.” And then a chorus of “Neither could I!” “Neither could I!” Neither could I. I still don’t know why.
A couple of people suggested, in the comment section of my last post, that if others wanted to help, they should buy things from my shop. My immediate thought, upon reading that, was YES! That I can handle. And right on the tail of that thought came an equally honest but far less comfortable thought: why should I make people jump through hoops because of MY hangups? Giving feels good – and for me to put conditions on that is kind of gross. I’ve given in the past and will give in the future, so why have I removed myself from the other side of the circle? Maybe I need to examine my thinking and my feelings – or at least figure out why they are the way they are.
I still believe honor trumps money and cooperation trumps capitalism. So, by receiving money, am I trading my honor? No. I mostly know the answer is no… but not completely. Is the faltering because I don’t feel I deserve it? Because of some cosmic, internal worthlessness? Because there are others in worse states than I? Are some people going to roll their eyes and think I’m a freeloader? “Oh, man, those debating skills DID get honed at an early age! Look at her convincing herself that it’s a matter of personal growth to take other people’s money!!”
This was difficult analysis. I’ve said those things to myself, and more. There were tears. And yet it kept coming back to one question – can I sit on the circle of cooperation and let it flow without micromanaging the seating arrangement? It’s time to try. I’ll report back with how it feels. I’m scheduled with a surgeon in early February and will report back with the status of my bod just as soon as I know what’s what. Thank you for caring.
Soooo, I was all gung-ho to write, here, more and often…. which quickly got derailed by some health baloney of my own. Facing a health scare is never pleasant, and this has been extra fun thanks to my $10K health insurance deductible.
I’ve spent entire days calling every doctor and facility within 300 miles to find the best pricing schedule when I get kicked off to a new person or specialty, since I’m writing checks every step of the way. Thanks, Obama! PS: I still don’t have affordable health care!
I’m working on not feeling like a victim and not feeling sorry for myself. I have savings. I go to great lengths to live outside “the system” so I can’t really expect the system to take care of me. I give myself little pep talks the mornings I wake up with a bad attitude – and it actually works, though the health care system is still a huge source of anger for me right now.
There’s a ton of beauty going on around here, too. The moon has been spectacular, even when just a sliver. The animals are happy and keep me overflowing with joy. I’ve been snowshoeing every chance I get. There’s a lot of good connecting going on – with people and with nature and with myself and with something far beyond myself.
And I received these incredible origami spheres that are works of art and wonder. No glue. Just patience and beautiful paper and the fingertips of a fairy. From the artist: ‘each one is made of 30 identical units that interlock and stay together without glue or tape.’ They have me mesmerized.« go back