The Thing By The Car

Labor Day Weekend 2021 was scheduled to start on Friday at 12:30 EST.

Unfortunately I received a text at 12:24 that shattered any illusions I had about enjoying the last official weekend of the summer that I never got to enjoy, but all of that is for the entry where I whine and cry about the traumas I’ve experienced in the past two weeks.**

Labor Day Weekend was scheduled to end at 10:00 EST on Monday. Then around 9:58 EST this happened.

I was walking down the hall while reading an article on my phone as my mother locked the screen door for the night.

“There was this guy who wanted to lose some weight, so he started exercising and eating better, but he didn’t do anything drastic,” I said still looking at my phone. “He lost ten pounds no problem because he’s a man so of course he would.”
I glanced up to see if my snark was appreciated but it apparently was lost on my mother who was too busy looking out of the screen door as she turned the lock. The porch light was out, and there aren’t any street lights on our block, so I had no idea what she could be seeing in the dark, but I continued with my story.
“But then the guy kept losing weight. He lost twenty pounds, and then another thirty-“
“It looks like there’s a pile of balloons next to my car,” my mother interrupted.
“-pounds,” I finished and then internally shrugged. “Alright.”
“I’m serious, it looks like a bunch of balloons,” she said.
“I believe you,” I told her, not really believing her at all, and continued my story. “But this guy kept losing weight to the point that people thought he was dying. He couldn’t understand it because he had been eating protein powder the entire time to make sure that he didn’t lose muscle weight instead of fat.”
“Come look and tell me you don’t see balloons,” my mother insisted.
I walked to the front door and looked outside. “Well, it turns out that his wife was putting arsenic in his protein powder.”
“You don’t see balloons? By my car?” my mother asked.
I stared at her car. “No, I do not see any balloons. But what I want to know is, given my difficulty in gaining weight, if you’ve been putting arsenic in my protein powder.”
“It looks like balloons! Or an alien. Or an alien holding balloons.”
“No I do not see an alien holding balloons,” I said in my most obnoxiously condescending tone as I finally turned away from the door.
Look!” she insisted again.

And for some reason I did look again, and that was when it suddenly clicked in my head that my mother was pointing to the car she’s had for years, not her new car that I’ve been driving since mine was totaled. Sitting next to the passenger door of her car wasn’t an alien holding balloons, but something almost as bizarre.

“It’s… It’s a giant bear wrapped in cellophane.” I blinked in disbelief.
“And you thought I was crazy!” my mother yelled triumphantly.
“I still think you’re crazy,” I told her as I unlocked the door. “An alien? An alien holding balloons? ‘We come in peace – see, we brought balloons!'”

I stepped outside and crept up on the giant bear.
“Do you want a flashlight?” my mother yelled from the safety of the front door as I confronted the ursine intruder.
“No, it’s definitely a bear,” I yelled back. “A giant pink bear.”
“And there’s no card or note or anything,” I added as I looked closer.
“That’s weird.” My mother came outside and joined me in examining the package. “I wonder if one of your uncles sent it.”
“Why would one of my uncles send me a giant pink bear?”
“Well, they know you’re not feeling well.”
“And you think that they would think that sending me a giant pink bear would help?”
“There’s chocolate too.” Mom pointed to the gold box sitting in front of the bear.
“Okay, that would help.”

I looked on the ground around the package to see if a card had fallen off and finally shrugged. “I guess we might as well bring it inside.”
“Maybe you have a secret admirer,” Mom suggested as I carried the bear through the front door.
“Why are you assuming this is even for me? It could be for you. Maybe you have a secret admirer.”
“Don’t be silly.”
“I don’t know. You’ve been looking awfully cute lately. Everyone has said how they like your silver hair.”
Mom waved away the idea.
“This is probably some warped joke, and for anyone who’s listening I do not want to play a game,” I shouted at the bear.

I set the bear down in the hall where the dogs and the cat proceeded to give it the sniff-degree.
“I’ve had it. I’m going to bed,” I said as I started up the stairs. “I’m sure the cellophane will keep it trapped if it comes alive.”

It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized that around midnight I had received a series of texts from the 15 year-old next door:

Hey 🙂
I hate to bother you at such a late time but I have a question.
I think you may have taken something of mine by accident.
It’s a pink teddy bear with chocolate.
If you do please keep it there if you don’t mind and I’ll pick it up from your backyard around 9 if that’s okay. I have to pick it up at that time because my mom doesn’t know I’m dating someone.😁

So not only was there a giant pink bear in my house, but I was now an accomplice in the illicit love affair of my teenage neighbor. And me being me I started overthinking and wondering if I was now responsible for telling her that her body is hers and no one has any right to it no matter how many ridiculously huge teddy bears that they leave by your neighbor’s car because consent is everything, and if anything is consented to then please do it in a responsible and safe way. Then I remembered that she is being raised in a normal, stable family with boundaries – hence not being allowed to date – and didn’t need my anxious dysfunctional attempt to adult at her.

But all I can say is thank God that this episode didn’t happen this week because I would’ve torn into that chocolate.

~~~~~~~

**I’m doing my best to not have two “heavy” entries in a row, but, as I was recently reminded, I write my best when I just write what I’m feeling from my heart, without thinking or censoring or editing myself. This is difficult to do when you feel like hell and your heart is hurting. It’s even worse when the hurt is from people you trusted or care about because I also have a rule where I don’t put anything on the internet that I’d be wouldn’t be okay with absolutely every single person in the world reading. Not only am I not naïve enough to believe that my corner of the ‘net couldn’t be found by anyone who looked, I’m also not someone who hides behind a pen name to talk shit. I thought a lot about the entry that will come after this one, and I’m willing to take the risk that people won’t believe me or think I’m overacting, in addition to the risk of the perpetrator reading my entry and finding out that, despite my feigned ignorance, I’ve always been aware of everything. This unfortunately might lead to a disruption in my health since this is a healthcare provider, but I’m willing to accept that because I can’t take it anymore.

Anyway.

Writing was once one of the few things that I thought I was good at, that came naturally, that I even…believed. And I’m afraid that I’ve lost it. I’m really afraid that it’s gone. Almost all of the entries that I’ve done in the past year sound like garbage, including this one. I’m forcing a “fluffy” entry with this bear story and it shows. The only thing that doesn’t keep me from hanging up my keyboard is that I can still feel some words left in me, but they’re ugly and painful, and they’ve been suppressed for so long that they festered into something that needs to be lanced. So I’m tearing the blade across the thick skin I’ve developed to keep the pain in and the world out and following this pustulant flow to see if it leads to something I’ve lost, or if bleeding the poison was all that I had left.

I Don’t Know

June 30 was the year anniversary of doing physical therapy to try to straighten my spine.

Actually, no. At that point we didn’t know how badly my spine was twisted, so I had to do physical therapy for six weeks to satisfy my insurance company’s requirements to get the MRI that would reveal the damage in my spine, hip, and pelvis. It wasn’t until after the MRI and being told what kind of physical limitations to expect that I decided to prove them all wrong. Nothing motivates me more than other people trying to tell me what I can’t do.

So, I’d been planning on making a video about what the journey this past year has been like, but in true chronic health condition fashion, my kidney decided to flare up and that killed any plans I had about anything. To be honest, that in itself conveys the the road I travel better than any video of me sweating, swearing, and crying my way through a year of physical therapy ever could. I do know that I’ve made huge strides in the past twelve months, and I’m incredibly thankful to God that He brought me further than I ever thought I could go, but I feel like a video would send the wrong message – that there is an “end” to all of this. That seems to be the consensus of opinion based on the questions I’ve been dealing with for the past few weeks regarding The Future. I feel like if I shared the details of how I built up enough muscle strength to stand straight despite my twisted frame it would only be met with a thousand comments of, “Great! Now what are you going to do with it?” And here’s the answer:

I don’t know.

“How many more hours can you work before it messes up your health insurance?”
“Not many, but I don’t know.”
“We might be able to compensate for it. What’s your medical cost?
(I wasn’t sure if this was a question regarding the cost of my health insurance, or how much it would cost if I had to take a cheap plan with a huge deductible, but it was the same answer either way.)
“I don’t know.”

“You’re feeling better and the world is opening up again, so what are we going to do this summer?”
“I’d like to go to the beach, but my heat intolerance hasn’t been tested in a while, so I don’t know.”
“You shouldn’t be out in the sun like that anyway. And you can’t ride the rides. Or eat the food, so what would you even do there?”
“I don’t know.”

“Kat, our bookkeeper is planning on retiring in the near future and we thought that you could take over for her. When do you think your health issues will be resolved enough to do that?”
(Ignoring the assumption that I even want this.)
“My health issues aren’t ever going away. They’re just coming under better control. I don’t know if I’ll continue to improve or if this is it.”
“Well, when will you know?”
“I don’t know.”

“That’s great that they finally fixed your GPA, Kat. When are you going to be done with school?”
“Well, it depends on how many classes I’m able to handle without putting myself under too much stress that I start to flare, so I don’t know.”
“Well, how much stress can you handle before that happens?”
“I don’t know.”

“We’re ordering food. Can you eat anything from Adolfo’s?”
“I’ll have to look at the menu because I don’t know.”

“The cabinet is overflowing with prescription bottles. Why doesn’t your insurance allow you to get a three month supply of your medication?”
“I don’t know.”

“You’re really thin! What size do you wear?”
“I don’t know.”

“I don’t want to waste my life with this job. I have too many other interests to explore. My dream is that you start working with me, and then I cut my hours, and then I fade away and you take over. But I don’t know what your dream is. What do you think?”
The words “I don’t know” were on the tip of my tongue. They swelled in my mouth, pushing against my teeth to get out, but I refused to say them another time. “I don’t know” became a lump in my throat that I couldn’t swallow, and still I clenched my jaw shut, choosing to choke before I’d let that bloated phrase escape from me again. I pursed my lips together, trying to hide the effort in a determined smile when I felt “I don’t know” shiver up my cheeks and into my eyes, pooling and spilling over before I could stop it. The words streamed down my face in two plaintive statements.

I don’t know. I don’t know.

I clamped my eyes shut to keep them from saying any more, but they continued to seep on both sides.

I don’t know. I don’t know.

I blinked furiously trying to bat the words away, and instead it was an arm ushering them into the world, “Ladies and gentlemen…”

I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.

And then people became upset because they thought I was crying when it was only “I don’t know” running down my face, collecting into a puddle of uncertainty that seeped across my notebook.

“Kat, what’s wrong? What is it?”

I don’t know.

PT Session #117

Two Pricks in Three Weeks

I’m just thinking about if I was writing a post with that title ten years ago, the innuendos would have been off the chain. I’ve matured so much since then. I legitimately stopped to think before I decided to type out that I haven’t been on a date in nine years, but, as of tomorrow, I’ll have received two pricks in three weeks, and most likely by two different people. So color me precocious. *self high-five* Actually, I’m going to give myself one of those every time I see an opportunity for an innuendo, but don’t jump on it. *self high-five*

I’ll admit I’m nervous about my second COVID-19 vaccine. As I mentioned before, I did not react during my first immunotherapy session when I restarted treatment, but I now go into anaphylactic shock every time. My immune system is like me where you can attack us once, but that’s all you’ll get. Come over again to fuck around and you will find out. So I’m nervous that my immune system is currently preparing for a viral Battle of Helm’s Deep, and is going to let loose the moment it realizes we’ve been invaded by the COVID19 DNA again. *self high-five* It’d be one thing if my immune system was rambunctious attacking the “invader”, meaning a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and all of that misery, but for fuck’s sake does it have to start attacking my organs, too? Or even worse, take down the ship to kill the alien? I feel that my antibodies really did not think their plan through when… Nope, I can’t type it without making it sound dirty, so I’m just not gonna do it, but I’m giving myself a *self high-five* for restraint. *self high-five*

But speaking of thinking things through, I’ve already made a plan for if I do start to react. They have an EMT in the post-shot waiting area, so if I can just calmly walk over and tell them that my immune system is trying to kill me, then maybe nobody else will realize what’s happening. This is one of the huge things that’s upsetting me. Of course I don’t want to die, but I was just thinking that if I had a reaction and people saw it, then they would tell other people, and chances are that it would make at least one person refuse the vaccine. So I’d be responsible for not only that person, but whoever else they infected with COVID19 all because my immune system is haywire and had to put on a show. *self high-five*

I did consider that I might not be able to get to an EMT before I fell into a state where people would notice that I was having a medical emergency, even if I was calm. If it starts happening too fast I’ll have my EpiPen with me, and I can just jam it through my jeans (*self high-five*) into my thigh. (FYI – This is a completely acceptable administration of an EpiPen because in an emergency you can go right through someone’s clothes rather than wrestling them off.) Those shots hurt like hell though. But I’m pretty sure I can do it without screaming. *self high-five*

You’re probably reading this and wondering if I’m experiencing a lack of oxygen right now by the way I’m rambling. I’m doing this because there are so many emotions to process with getting this second shot. I’m nervous, and I’m happy, and I’m angry, and I’m excited, and I’m scared, and I’m relieved. *self high-five* Believe me, I have another post coming where I hash these feelings out, but I don’t have time to articulate it all right now. *self high-five* It’s almost midnight and I’m tired, but I’m too keyed up to go to sleep. *self high-five* What’s also a shame is that I’ve decided to not make this post public, so I’ve spent all of this time writing something that no one will read. Maybe I’ll password protect it, though that might be awkward. I can tell people who I’m uncomfortable reading this that it’s for my Patreon – which I don’t have, but think I should since everyone is selling themselves whether it’s through Patreon or FansOnly. What happened to just giving it out for free? *self high-five* I blame slut-shaming. There’s nothing wrong with writing like a slut, though I’ll be happy when I can be paid for my writing so that at least I can say that I write like a whore instead. (No *self high-five* here since I just laid (HA!) it out.)

EPILOGUE

I survived.

I decided to make this post public to celebrate (I’m starting to feel like hell which means my immune system is responding appropriately), and also because all of the stress I went through the last two weeks made me forget that I didn’t skirt around death for the millionth time to kill myself attempting to live up to people’s expectations – which somehow included mind-reading and anticipating people’s own mistakes so that I could correct them before they happened. This is the way I write. This is who I am. When I’m scared or upset I make jokes, and all of my jokes are either inappropriate, puns, or inappropriate puns, in that order. If someone wants to take my jokes too seriously then that is a joke. I’m laughing too hard at my own stupid nonsense to hear anything anyway.

finding yourself way too hilarious

Baby Got a Frozen Back

Before I begin, here is a little back – (ha!) – ground, so that you don’t think that this is just about my booty. The lower part of my back is frozen for a number of reasons, one of which is that the damage to my spine has caused me to lose the natural s-curve of a normal back. It’s most apparent in my lumbar spine where it’s very noticeable how flat it is. (Or at least it’s very noticeable to me, and it makes me self-conscious.) Part of my physical therapy is to strengthen my core enough to keep this from becoming worse. But just “keeping it from getting worse” is not good enough for me, so even though it’s a long shot, I’m working extremely hard to make my core strong enough to pull my spine – at least somewhat – back into shape. I’ve been doing the physical therapy since July, but I started taking pictures in December to document my progress for when I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing. I was comparing December’s pictures to my current ones when this conversation happened.

“Well, get ready for people to ask if you’re half reindeer,” I told my mother as she blasted past me on one of her laps around the first floor of the house to get in her steps.
“What?” she asked rounding the corner and going into the next room.
“Half reindeer,” I shouted knowing full well that she had no idea what I was talking about, but this is the kind of antagonistic shit I do.

Another bit of back – (ha!) – ground is that I have nerve damage in my spine that extends into my flanks. The right side is the worst, but the left isn’t exactly stellar either. The nerve damage made it so that I was not contracting my glutes and quads – which in turn contributed to weakness that further damaged my spine, and you can see how this is a vicious cycle… But when muscles are not contracting they start to atrophy. This is what happened to my glutes, however I need to point out that my healthy butt never actually got smaller, it just spread lower.

“Oh. Okay,” my mother answered as she turned the corner back into the kitchen where I was holding up my phone.
“Because of my ass,” I finally told her.
“There’s nothing wrong with your ass,” she said as she continued down the hall. “Would you rather have no ass? Those flat asses looks terrible.”
“That would be impossible for me, but look!” I yelled after her.
She went around the other room and came into the kitchen again.
“Look at what my ass looks like now compared to a few months ago.” I stood in her path so that she would be forced to re-examine the side by side picture I had created to compare the curvature of my spine.
“Wow,” she said taking in the picture a moment and then stepping around me to continue walking. “It’s like an Oompa Loompa,” she added over her shoulder.


“It’s like a what?” I gaped at her retreating back. My mind whirled with visions of Oompa Loompas. I could see them in their little white overalls. Did they have big booties under there? Is she saying that my ass itself looks like an Oompa Loompa? What the hell did she mean?
“An Oompa Loompa! You know,” she shouted back. And part of me wondered if this wasn’t retribution for the “half reindeer” I’d thrown at her a minute earlier except that, unlike me, my mother is not a tool.
“Yes, I know what an Oompa Loompa is,” I told her as she came back into the kitchen. “I just did not know that I had one for an ass. I gotta say that’s one I’ve never called before.”

And here is where I would like to pause and just throw it out there how much I take exception to all of the women who are now doing workouts to grow their booties after the hell they put me and my friends through for having an ass back in the day. All you Beckys can just sit down on your Spongebob asses and have a seat.

My mother paused in her stride and gave me a completely affronted look.
“I did not say that your ass looked like an Oompa Loompa,” she insisted. “What I meant was it looked like an Oompa Loompa should appear because of the way it blew up!”
I was dumbstruck.
“You know how they appear and sing a song after Violet blows up? Well it looks like they should be here to do that with how fast your butt blew up.” She didn’t wait for a reply, continuing her walk down the hall.

And that’s when I went rolling across the floor.

via Gfycat

And since it’s mostly just friends (Hi Joann!) that come on here now, I’ll even share the incriminating photo. And yeah, I’ll admit that, even though it wasn’t a goal, my booty does look better, but the reason that I made this side by side has to do with the doorknob behind me. The doorknob is the frame of reference I use to measure the curve of my back, and though it’s difficult to see…

My back is curving slightly more into place than it did three months ago.

I’m not crying, you’re crying.

~fin~

If you want to read more ridiculous conversations I’ve had with my mother, you can click the My Family is Crazier Than Yours category. This will bring up stories with all of the characters in the asylum, or you can just jump to everyone’s favorite story about my mother, “When Mothers Yell to Bite Them“.

Fisticuffs with Ana Phylaxsis

The first thing I noticed was the pounding in my ears.

panic Pete, anaphylaxis

It wasn’t the dull throb of blood pumping into your brain like when you’re nervous or excited. I’ve experienced that pounding, and as deafening as it seemed at the time, it was nothing compared to the subwoofer that had been cranked up in my skull. I felt like one of those plastic dolls where you squeeze it to make its eyes and ears bug out.

I’m going to burst a vessel in my brain, I thought calmly. I think maybe all of the blood vessels in my brain are going to burst. I’ll have a stroke. I’ll be dead and they’ll say how I went just like my grandmother.

I was about twenty minutes into my second session of intravenous immunotherapy treatment when this started happening.

I think I’m having a reaction to something, I continued thinking.

No shit, dumbass.

But reacting to what?

Maybe the medication being pumped into your vein?

‘No, it can’t be my medication because I was fine for my last treatment two weeks ago. Maybe it was the peanut bar I’d just finished eating. It was probably that. Oh shit, I’m not going to be able to eat peanuts anymore. This sucks! I love peanut butter!’ I went to take a deep breath to sigh but found it difficult to accomplish this – which annoyed me. Scowling in concentration, I managed to suck a breath of oxygen into my protesting lungs.

I tried to say, “Ha!”, but all that came out in my exhalation was a cacophony of wheezing and whistling that sounded like a broken accordion. I registered this with surprise that I could still hear anything over the thundering in my ears, though it did make one thing apparent to me.

Well, ain’t this some shit, I thought. I’m pretty sure I’m going into anaphylactic shock. Great. I’m going to be the girl who had anaphylaxis. This is so embarrassing! Hmm. Maybe no one will notice.

I glanced around. Unlike my first visit two weeks ago, when nearly every chair had been filled with a person attached to an IV line, there were only about six other patients, and I was the only person in my row. None of the other patients were paying me any attention, and the lone nurse on duty was busying folding towels.

having anaphylaxis
Taking selfies while literally dying.
Bonus: swollen eyes.

Good! I can bluff my way through this. If I don’t, then they’ll blame the medication and stop treatment. I heaved another painful breath into my lungs to sigh with relief except this time I had as much trouble getting the air out of my lungs as I did getting it into them.

Wait, am I still going to have a stroke? Can anaphylaxis give you a stroke? I noticed that the pounding in my ears was beginning to fade. I don’t think I’m going to have a stroke. If I can just breathe, then no one will ever know.

I arched my back in an effort to manually expand my lungs that were not cooperating at all.

“Are you okay?” The nurse was holding a towel up in mid-fold and staring at me.

Oh fuck! She noticed! Now she’ll tell everyone I had anaphylaxis. I’m going to be that anaphylactic chick. I’ll be that anaphylac-chick unless I think of something. Think, stupid!

“I think…I…just…need my…inhaler.” My tongue felt too thick around the words, so I clawed at my backpack and managed to pull out my inhaler to show the nurse what I meant.

“I think that’s a good idea,” the nurse told me as she dropped the towel and ran over to me.

Now if I can just get this in me, I looked at my inhaler, then she’ll think I just had an asthma attack. I leaned my head back, compressed the inhaler chamber, and breathed as hard as I could. A trickle of air managed to make it down my throat.

To my dismay, I watched as the nurse cut the IV line to my medication. I wanted to tell her to leave it run, that this was just an asthma attack, but I felt too tired to bother – and there she was already injecting my saline with something anyway. I fumbled to put my face mask back on to hide my irritation.

“No, leave that off,” the nurse told me putting an oxygen mask on my face instead. She wrapped a BP cuff around my arm and clipped a pulse ox to my finger. The reading flickered across the screen: 80.

I’d been in medicine for years, and I knew that number was a trip to the hospital if I didn’t do something…I just couldn’t remember what. Then I flashed to a memory of when my brother had anesthesia for the first time and his oxygen was fluctuating in recovery. “I know you’re woozy, brother, but take a deep breath or they’ll never let you out of here,” I’d told him. That’s when I remembered I just had to get in one good breath and they’ll let me go home.

I clenched my fists onto the arms of the chair and exerted everything I had to pull air into my chest. It burned like hell, and my lungs screamed at me stop torturing them but I kept inhaling until I thought I’d explode. Finally, I let it go and dropped forward as the rasping breath raced away from me. The pulse ox on my finger jumped to 90.

“I’m fine now,” I wheezed.

“If that number hadn’t just jumped up you wouldn’t have been fine,” the nurse told me. “You’re having anaphylaxis.”

“Yeah,” I gasped as I fell back into the chair. “She’s a real bitch.”

She’s also really fast. The time between the pounding starting to my chest constricting was about 90 seconds. I’m extremely thankful that the nurse wasn’t at her station like she usually was because if she hadn’t been on the floor and seen that I was going into shock, I’d most likely be dead.

As you probably guessed, I did react to my medication. Due to COVID-19 I had paused my treatment, and my body had used that time to make friggin’ antibodies to the medication. It’s not unheard of, in fact, at my first therapy session when I’d resumed treatment, they started giving me a histamine blocker before running my medication line in case this happened. I was fine at that first session, but at some point in the two weeks that followed, my body realized what was happening and went all not-in-my-house-mother-fucker at the next “invasion”.

My immune system is not backing down either because, despite increased measures to prevent it, I’ve gone into anaphylaxis during my immunotherapy ever since, because yes, I’m stupid to keep putting myself through this. And my doctor is fucked up enough to allow me to do it, but he’s a whole other ball of wax.

My family and friends are not enthusiastic about my decision, as I mentioned in my previous entry. A few of them have had a brush with anaphylaxis themselves and cannot understand why I’d put myself through such a terrifying experience, though as you can tell from my writing, I wasn’t scared at all. I don’t know if it was the lack of oxygen to my brain or if I’m just that cavalier about death anymore, but I was more annoyed than anything. To be honest though, I don’t have much choice. My treatment options are very limited due to my insurance, so it’s either suck it up or get sicker. It’s ironic, but in order to live I need to nearly kill myself every six weeks.

Yay, private healthcare.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow aka Thanks Again 2020!

I knew that the week of January 17th was going to be insane. I had immunotherapy on Monday, and then classes started on Wednesday, which was the same day as the inauguration – and I know I wasn’t the only one who was stressed about that. Given all of this, and the fact that the first two weeks of January had been insane, I said that I didn’t consider 2021 starting until after Biden became president. Well, that was a mistake because 2020 saw that it had extra time to do something shitty, and so it did.

On Sunday of that week I had my cousin* trim my “pandemic hair” because, even though I was growing it out, it was looking really ragged after not being cut for over a year. After my cousin trimmed about four inches of ratty ends off of my hair, I decided to cover my silver while I was at it since I was also going to be adding another year to my age that week too. After doing that I was too busy to pay any attention to my hair again until the end of the week when the dye had set enough to wash it. It wasn’t until I went to pull my hair back into a ponytail the morning after I had washed it that I noticed there was a lot less hair to gather than before.

“What the fuck?” I muttered as my hair band wrapped around my ponytail several more times than was required before to hold my hair in place.

Unfortunately I had been getting ready for a Zoom class at work and this was the moment that my professor decided to let me into the meeting and, though my video was off, my microphone was on. It was enough to take my mind off of my hair for about five minutes because throughout the entire session my hand kept reaching back to grip my thin ponytail, hoping it would magically feel normal. When class finally ended I ran into the hall to look at my hair in the mirror there, and it only took a glance to tell that something bad had happened to it.

In the midst of this crisis my phone was blowing up – because this happened to be on my birthday – and I could feel my abdomen beginning to cramp as I tried to field well wishes through my rising panic over my follicular situation, which meant the stress of everything was sending me into a flare.

A few hours later I was able to go home and show my mother my ponytail to get her opinion. I really, really wanted her to say that it looked fine, but she was honest and agreed that my hair looked a lot thinner. 

“Is it the way that it’s cut?” she asked.
“No, she literally just did a plain blunt cut to remove the dead ends,” I told her. “Nothing like layering that would change the way it looked.”
“Do you think it was from your immunotherapy?”
“I don’t think so. I’ve had enough times, and never noticed any hair loss before.”
“But you’ve been having reactions during your treatment. What if it’s from that?” she asked.

My mind was racing as I tried to think of all of the things that might have caused my hair to suddenly disappear. Was it because I was underweight? Or because I’d been very anemic since Christmas? I did notice that I’d been shedding a little more hair than usual, but this was so dramatic it didn’t seem likely. Was it the hair dye? It was the same one I’ve used for several years, though in a darker color, so I didn’t think it could be that.

“I don’t think you shouldn’t continue the immunotherapy anyway,“ my mother pressed on. “There has to be another treatment that won’t give you anaphylaxis.”

I shook my head because we’d been through this discussion a number of times. “My insurance won’t cover another option. You know this. It’s either deal with the reaction, or rely on pills that make me feel like garbage every week when I take them. The immunotherapy is only one day of feeling sick every six weeks. And it hasn’t killed me yet.” I paused. “But if it is what’s causing me to lose hair then I might rethink it.”
My mother looked at me.
“Yes I will accept the possibility of having a lethal reaction to my treatment but I will not accept losing my hair!” I huffed, then stomped down to the bathroom and closed the door. 

It was the first time that I was alone and could really examine my hair at all angles. The mirror above the sink was long enough to see down to the tops of my legs so I twisted around to see how my hair looked down my back. I could easily see the grey of my shirt through the thin curtain of hair laying against it. And yet I still couldn’t believe I was really seeing correctly. I ran my fingers through the hair on my scalp. It didn’t seem any thinner there, but as I continued down just past my ears there was a dramatic difference in volume. It was like half of my hair broke off from there.

I took my hands out of my hair and just stared at myself. Staring back at me was a person with hollow eyes inside a gaunt face, with cheekbones that looked cadaverous, all framed by lank hair hanging in thin ropes like broken party streamers. Someone whose right hip was now noticeably higher than the other due to a crooked spine. Someone who was too skinny, and yet had an inflamed abdomen that was starting to distend like a starving child’s.

Someone who was now another year past forty.

I was too upset to even cry. I felt like all of the hard work I’d done, and all of the progress I’d made, and everything I’d been proud to have accomplished over the past six months to put myself back together, to try to be normal, was bullshit. No matter how hard I pushed myself, I was never going to be normal. I was never even going to look normal. I’d been trying so hard to become who I had been prior to my health crash, and now my long hair – one of my defining characteristics – was gone. It’d be at least a year until it would be long “enough” again. Another year to add to the nearly ten I’d already spent getting my health under something that resembled control.

But I’d never have control. And even if I’d found some way to be – or at least resemble – the person I’d been, I’d never have that time back.

I came out of the bathroom and threw myself into scouring the internet on the best ways to make hair grow faster, and though there are things I can do to facilitate its growth, the final answer was the one that I feel I’m always working against: time.

It’s been about six weeks now and I think I’m finally ready to make the jump and cut the handful of hair that did not break. (Explanation of what happened will be added separately since you’re probably already sick of hearing me whine about something so stupid as hair.) I’m not thrilled, but I’m trying to not be a big baby, and to keep it in perspective. I know it’s only hair. I know it’s ridiculous, and it’s vain. I know it’ll grow back. I know I should be thankful that I haven’t lost my hair the way that others have. I also know that I should be thankful that my hair was long when it broke because it could’ve happened right after I got sick and I would’ve had nothing. 

But it’s another aspect of myself that was taken out of my hands. And I’d been growing it out to donate, so if I’m cutting it then I’m going balls in and cutting the full 10 inches required. It’ll bring my hair up to about shoulder length which is “longish”, but shorter than I’d planned. (And then I just pray that my hair is still donatable because if it’s not then I don’t want to know.)

In a way it’ll be a relief to finally make the chop because I’ve done nothing but obsess over my hair these six weeks, and when I do that I ignore or disparage how much better I’m feeling and functioning today than I did a year ago at this time. Which horribly ungrateful of me. I’m honestly very thankful to have made it to where I am now. It’s not perfect or “normal”, but I’m blessed because I’ve come further than I thought possible. And I’m not done yet.

*Cousin is high risk, already vaccinated and I’ve lived in a bubble for a year now so we were following COVID19 safety guidelines.

The Last Heartache of 2020

I was in a car accident about a week before November. Thankfully – and miraculously – I was not hurt. My car, on the other hand, was totaled. The front end had been smashed in, and even though I was able to drive it the 1.1 miles to my house from the scene of the accident (story about that later), I knew that my beloved car of eighteen years was another casualty of this incredibly difficult year. The junkyard picked her up on Tuesday. I wanted it done before the New Year, making it the last heartache of 2020.

I bought “Zoey” at the end of 2002. She was a 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer and the first “adult” purchase I ever made. My dad had gone with me to look at cars, and he was my cosigner on my loan. I found the paperwork for it when I was looking for the title. His signature is right below mine, with the little star he would always put before the “M” of his first name.

Zoey gave me a sense of freedom during the years with my ex-husband. We had lived with his family and the only time I would have any privacy was when I would take Kira out for a ride. I would always rest my hand on passenger seat for Kira to lay her head on. The nap of the fabric in that spot was shiny from my hand having been there so much. Our exertions consisted mostly of trips to pick up sushi, going to the bank, and most of all trips to Dunkin’ Donuts. In the five years since Kira’s passing, I would still look at the passenger seat and see her sitting there, prancing in place as she waited for a cookie from the bank, or a piece of doughnut.

My mom got the honor of driving the trees home.

Lancers are smaller cars, but I swear that Zoey had been hit with a “Capacious extremis” charm because the amount of crap I was able to fit in there was unbelievable. I moved an entire one bedroom apartment in that car with only a little help from best friend’s truck for the mattress. Every Christmas I would haul a 7ft tree and totes of ornaments from my mom’s. I drove to Trenton and brought back four 96″x16″ plant bench tops. The warehouse manager laughed when I showed him the car I would be taking them in, and then he applauded when I pulled it off. I bought nine 7-foot-tall fruit trees on clearance and fit them all my car. A woman was walking into the store as my mother and I as were loading them in the car and her jaw dropped when she saw all of those tree disappearing inside. There was admittedly no room for a passenger in the car but it was still pretty bloody impressive.

The car was so damn rugged too, so badass. This is the car that I turned into a teeter-totter at a hipster concert out in the stix, and would also plow through snow banks when I didn’t want to shovel. Unlike a lot of smaller cars, she never slid in rain or snow. I always felt safe and comfortable despite my back issues in my car.

I had managed to hold my emotions together immediately following the accident, but I became hysterical as soon as the police left. I was destroyed about my car, but I was in a blind panic that my back, which I had been working to reconstruct since June, had been injured. My mother took me to the hospital, but when I finally was able to calm down I was fairly sure that I had made it through safe and left. It was truly was miraculous considering how delicate I am – I still say thank you to God whenever I think about it – that I wasn’t injured at all. It felt like Zoey had given her last to protect me.

The night before the junkyard was scheduled to pick up Zoey I cleared out all of the random junk that had accumulated through the adventures over the past eighteen years. I found a “Commerce Bank” pen, a bank envelope with a dog cookie still inside, and napkins from Dunkin Donuts when I cleaned out the glove compartment. On the floor in the back were some stray pieces of straw from the 9ft corn stalks I had managed to haul home in October. In the trunk was a box with miscellaneous junk from the last day at my old job.

After I was finished cleaning I just sat in my car and listened to the radio for a while. The battery still worked despite the cold weather and not running for over a month, but it didn’t surprise me. I know it’s stupid to anthromorphize inanimate objects the way I have for this entire entry, and God knows I’ve experienced enough loss that I shouldn’t cry over a car, but it really felt like I was losing a friend. I sobbed as I thought about the past eighteen years – nearly half my life – and how much that car meant to me. When I was done I told her that she was the best car ever, there will never be another like her.

So thank you Zoey, not only for doing your part to keep me uninjured in the accident, but for eighteen years of memories. Of drive-thrus and donuts, overgrown fields and snowbanks, of fighting to get the temperature knob to turn on the console and fitting ridiculously large items into the cabin. I’ll never forget them.

I’ll never forget you.

Have a Social Distance Christmas

For no good reason at all I wrote this little ditty “Have a Social Distance Christmas”.


Much like my COVID19 holiday card suggestions, I’m trying to use humor to get me through this social distance Christmas. The phrase “social distance Christmas” lit up my brain so much that I ended up muttering it to the tune of Burl Ives’ “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas”, and then I just couldn’t be stopped. I ended up bastardizing the entire song into a cautionary tale about staying away from your loved ones this Christmas, and am presenting it to you all. Yay for new Christmas carols!

(The radio plays “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” a bajillion times between November and New Year’s, but in case you’re not familiar, here is the song, including the original lyrics.)

Have a social distance Christmas
And did I say fuck this year?
2-0-2-0, boy did you blow
And you can kiss my rear

Have a social distance Christmas
And when you walk down the street
Say hello? Oh hell no
I don’t care there’s six feet

No, no, no mistletoe
Do you want to get COVID19?
How far does that swab go?
Oh just wait you’ll see

Have a social distance Christmas
And in case you didn’t hear
Oh by golly, you just better keep your distance
This year

(Have a social distance Christmas
A middle finger to this year…)

Have a social distance Christmas
Just stay off my street
Say hello? You’ll catch an elbow
No hands but you’ll get beat

Oh, no, you just gotta go
It’s your face I don’t wanna see
“Somebody waits for you”
Nope. They’re not seeing me

Have a social distance Christmas
And in case I wasn’t clear,
Oh by golly I just better not see your ass
This year!

Now that you’ve finished it, I’d just like to say I’m not sorry.

What to Write in a Holiday Card for this Shitty Year

I’ve mentioned in the past that I like a lot of weird, somewhat antiquated Christmas traditions, and one of them is exchanging Christmas cards. When I was a wee Kat my mother would take me to Hallmark where we would spend many hours poring through the racks to find the perfect holiday cards to buy for every single frigging member of my family. In turn I would receive a Christmas card from nearly every single frigging member of my family, so this was quite a production. This lunacy ended when I was about eight, and though I didn’t fully revive the tradition as an adult, I do enjoy getting a box of cards and giving them to everyone except every single frigging member of my immediate family because they got enough. Usually I just sign the card with something like “Hope you have a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year”, but I had no idea what to write in a holiday card for this shitty year. It sounds trite to wish someone a “Merry Christmas” when the impact of COVID19 means that Christmas this year won’t be as merry as it usually is, but I still felt like I had to write something more than just signing my name. Finally I decided to play to my strengths by writing wishes that were warped, weird, and in slightly bad taste. Thankfully my friends and family are cognizant of my bizarre sense of humor so they all went over well. And since this is the season of giving, I decided to share (most of) my wishes here for anyone else who is wondering what to say in their holiday cards this year. Off we go then.

“Merry Christ-mask!”

A good rule of thumb if you don’t know what to write in a holiday card – or any card for that matter – is that you can’t go wrong with a terrible pun. You’re probably thinking, But aren’t people suffering enough? The answer is no. You can never be suffering too much that you can’t be subjected to a horrible pun.

“A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Let’s hope this one’s better, or else where’s the beer?”

I like this one because it not only references an iconic song, it also encourages swilling beer. I’m unable to do this myself anymore, but I’m still happy to advocate whenever possible.

“Hope that your visit from Santa Claus is a good one. Don’t worry, he can’t infect you. He’s been Santa-tized.”

I honestly just came up with this sentiment on Twitter today so I didn’t actually use this in a card, but I was so proud of it that I needed to share it here too. I don’t know how well this would work as something to write in your holiday card, but if you give it a go please let me know how it flew.

“This year was uglier than that Christmas sweater you wore.”

Now we’re entering the smartass arena. These wishes say ‘I know we’ve been taking a lot of knocks this year…so here is another’.

“Happy Holidays! Looking forward to next year when we can make plans to see each other again, and then take turns cancelling on each other.”

This wish comes with the gift of keeping it real. We both know we’re relieved when the other cancels. Let’s celebrate the fact that we care enough that we missed doing it this year.

Happy Holidays! I’m missing seeing you at an awkward family gathering this year!

My family is nothing but awkward gatherings. It’s as “Christmas” as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and just as psychologically damaging. And much like Rudolph we keep coming back for more for some sick reason. If you’ve got cousins you like to roll your eyes with as your aunts guzzle boxes of wine, this might be for you.

Well, we’ve both made it this far, so that’s good.

This one is for your fellow pessimist. They would actually prefer this holiday wish regardless of a pandemic.

Cheers to the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Namely, the end of it.

This holiday wish is nice because it starts with a Christmas song quote, and then it flips so that it works for Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s. It’s like saying “Happy Holidays” with a lot of extra words to sound clever. Oh and if you want to hear some horrible Hanukkah puns you can revisit this post here.

Happy Holidays! Fuck this year!

I mean, it’s what we’re all thinking.

So there you go, peeps! Nine completely sane and appropriate sentiments for your holiday cards this year. Inflict them on someone you love because no matter how awful they are, they at least won’t land them in the hospital.

Five Sentences

After talking to a friend who has, what appears to me to be, a nice, simple life – been married thirteen (?) years, has one son, one daughter, goes on vacations every year, they both have good jobs and they’re all healthy – I had a bit of a sulk where I thought that’s what I want and why couldn’t I have had that? It didn’t help that I’d had yet another disappointing appointment with a new doctor just a few hours before, but I decided that I was going to give up (again) on the road less traveled and forget all the reasons that I stopped working full-time because it’s not helped me control my health conditions any better and nothing is working out how I thought.

Then a neighbor posted in the community group that there was a baby raccoon in his driveway and what should he do about it. Most people suggested the wildlife refuge that was about thirty minutes away, but he said that he called and no one could come out for it. I asked if they would accept the baby raccoon if someone drove it there and to my surprise the guy said the refuge would if someone wanted to come over and get the baby and transport it to the facility.

So less than two hours after deciding to just trying being normal and having a normal life, I’m driving through the middle of the woods with a baby raccoon in the backseat looking for a wildlife refuge as daylight quickly fades away. Thankfully the GPS in my phone didn’t crap out – which it usually does in these cases – and I found the hospital with minimal incident. Judging by my semi-trained eyes, Baby Rocket somehow lost his mother and was suffering from dehydration and a slight eye infection, but unfortunately I won’t be able to get an update for 90 days.

I’ve had a few people ask me why the guy who found the raccoon didn’t take it to the refuge himself and to be honest I don’t know and I didn’t ask. There were two younger children in the backyard of his two story gingerbread house and maybe no one else was home to watch his kids while he drove thirty minutes into the woods with a wild animal. Or maybe he didn’t care enough. There are people who “do” and people who “do not”, and since we don’t know why people do not, it’s better to leave it alone. I told my mother – as usual she was drawn into this adventure despite my protests for her to stay home – that I felt like this baby raccoon needing help was God’s way of saying to me, Really? You want an easy, simple life? Or do you want to be a person who jumps in the car and rescues a baby raccoon on a Friday night? Of course we both already knew the answer.

Thank you to my dear friend, Stacy. Last night – even before the raccoon rescue – he encouraged me to write even five sentences a day. I gave five paragraphs this time, but yesterday was a big day. This is about the best readability you’re gonna get though.

R.I.P., sir.
Pic that was posted of Baby that started this all. Doesn’t give a good reference to his size because he’s only about as big as a large kitten.