Take it from someone whose routine trip to the GYN turned into a kerfuffle of mis[fat]diagnosis--when a doctor is supposed to be treating you for something and launches into the fat talk you can politely tell them "I am not here to discuss my weight with you. I am here to discuss my bits, my HIV status and whether I am at risk for cancers." I like to have a mantra to prepare ahead of time.
So much has happened since my last one I feel like a new life update is in order.
I was on Tristan Taormino’s awesome Sex Out Loud Radio show and there’s a podcast download available here of our conversation. I talked about the time I got bounced at the gate of Dollywood for wearing a gold sequin crop top while fat, even though the dress code specifically allows for crop tops.
The crop top chronicles continue because I’m on a BILLBOARD around Northeast LA wearing a mesh crop top and a bra. The front gate manager at Dollywood would be very scandalized.
We moved! Our new house is awesome! It has central air conditioning! We spent $550 last year in credit card points on a portable A/C for our bedroom and an evaporative cooler AKA “swamp cooler” for the living room because it was hot like the surface of the sun in the afternoons most of the year in that tiny not well-insulated house. We didn’t have a single window that could accommodate a window unit A/C and we both work from home so comfort was important and expensive.
The portable A/C was awesome and I highly recommend it, and since we bought it on Amazon it came right to our door and I installed it myself in under an hour. (A reminder if you buy anything on Amazon using my referral link, no matter what you end up buying when you get there, I get 4-6% referral credit, which adds up and really helps out.)
The swamp cooler is only medium effective, somewhere between a powerful fan and a weak A/C, but will be great for outside parties in our amazing new backyard. I think about how much time we invested in researching and implementing climate control modalities on a tight budget and now we’re suddenly in this climate controlled well-insulated environment! I can’t get that time back but at least we’re way more comfortable.
LA just had our first 91 degree day last week and all Dara had to do was touch a button and the house was suddenly cool. I haven’t had central heat and air in my adult life, it’s pretty novel. The new house also has a dishwasher that we haven’t used because I haven’t unpacked our dishes and I can’t wait to see if that changes my life.
We’ve been in our house for two and a half weeks and have so many more boxes than I thought we still would. In my visions, we were mostly unpacked by now. In April of last year I had a meltdown about how our house wasn’t yet together and somehow I had that same meltdown on Monday of this past week, a full three months early. The last house we had complex attic clean outs and renovations that slowed things down. This time it was major surgery for Dara.
DARA’S HYSTERECTOMY AND OOPHORECTOMY
Three days after we moved Dara had her first appointment with her new doctors at UCLA. In November and December of last year she had a cancer scare due to abnormal cells in her uterus. Since she finished chemo for breast cancer in 2014, she had been taking Tamoxifen, an estrogen blocker, to help prevent a reoccurrence of breast cancer. Tamoxifen is the only drug prescribed to prevent a reoccurrence to premenopausal women, there are a few types of different inhibitors to prevent a reoccurrence for postmenopausal women. Turns out Tamoxifen increases your likelihood for uterine cancer.
Dara endured multiple, increasingly invasive biopsies until she was told it wasn’t cancer but she should consider a hysterectomy and oophorectomy. Since the doctor that performed her last and most invasive biopsy wrote her a prescription for an IUD because certain kinds help prevent uterine cancer, and Dara pushed back asking if it would interfere with breast cancer prevention and it turned out it would… she took that “oops” as a tell that she should get way better health insurance and transition to the best cancer hospital in the area.
Dara at the new oncologist office. We really loved him.
I have all the Working Class Feels about how money buys you medical access, which is literally life and death for many people. To be transparent about it (because I think this busts up capitalist shame around money) Dara was able to upgrade her health insurance from Silver to Gold because her mom offered to help financially make the leap.
Further, Dara was able to find out who the best doctor was going to be for her cancer treatment going forward because she has a family friend who is a legit “Medical Concierge” who has access to that information. This is what people with money have access to, they get a medical concierge to find the best doctors money can buy and pay tons of money for their health insurance.
I cannot underscore how much I support Bernie’s continued call for universal health care in this country. Health care should be a fundamental human right, like education and access to clean water. Even if we got universal health care, as long as the US remains capitalist, I’m sure money will continue to buy access to “the best” healthcare available because people will continue to pay for it and provide it.
We both feel complicated about it, but her health is important. When she saw the UCLA OBGYN surgeon in the oncology department and she reviewed the findings from the biopsies, she said, “Can you come in on Monday for a hysterectomy?” It was that urgent to get it out. So, even though it was wildly inconvenient to have major surgery a week and a half after we moved, Dara scheduled it.
What a rough day. We had to wake up at 3:40AM to drive cross town for her 4:45AM call time for surgery. I had to teach aerobics that night and I’m still building my following so I didn’t want to cancel class. Her mom flew in to be here for it and I was able to leave at 2PM to make sure I wasn’t trapped by traffic on the West Side, though it still took me 90 minutes to get home. I am not a great napper, so I just did my best to be present and ultimately had a great aerobics class!
I drank a lot of caffeine and prayed for a lot of Divine assistance to stay present and channel the best healing for everyone in attendance.
The surgery was as successful as possible, she was done in an hour (was supposed to take up to three) and her healing has been happening swiftly. It is SO reminiscent of cancer treatment times. She has all the same prescriptions for constipation and I ran out to buy All Bran and prune juice. Dara even weaned herself off the Norco as soon as she was able (within days) because the gas pain and constipation were more uncomfortable than the pain from surgery. She can’t carry anything more than five pounds for two weeks and she’s been very weak.
Poor fifteen pound Macy is used to being able to bark for her human elevators to put her on furniture since she cannot jump up and down on furniture or take stairs, but one of her human elevators is out of order for a few weeks! She doesn’t understand. This all means I am taking care of the house and pets 100% of the time. Between regular cleaning and keeping the house going, it has ground the unpacking progress to a slow crawl.
I’m so grateful Dara busted ass before her surgery to unpack 80% of the living room and office. It feels a little hard since we don’t really have places for everything, however it is ultimately so helpful to have things having motion out of boxes. I have never had the experience of paying movers and packers before, but it seems that they just box whatever into whatever box and label it vaguely “Kitchen” and “living room” and literally none of them are labeled “bathroom” and I still can’t find my hair dye.
The fact that I am obsessively staring at my roots lately is a symptom to me of a larger issue I’ve been having around judgment. Most of the time I am incredibly resilient to judgment. I feel like it is a kind of forcefield to give zero fucks what anyone thinks about you. Someone I know was worried about my choice to move to LA because “everyone is so judgmental about weight” and I felt like I would be fine because of my resilience.
And yet, in the past month or so, I’m so worried about what other people think it is distracting me. Not necessarily about my weight but the aforementioned meltdown happened because our new landlords were coming over 2 weeks after our move / 5 days after Dara’s surgery, and I worried what they would think about our house progress. I spent two hours cleaning before they got there and left to walk the dog while they were inside because I couldn’t interact and needed to go cry a bunch. I know part of this is residual trauma from months of housing instability and not feeling safe in our home—the thought that our landlords wouldn’t like us and would ask us to move out was really triggering.
I’m glad I’m aware of the judgment resilience issue because that’s the first step to changing anything. (Awareness, acceptance, then action.) I know there’s an element of self compassion I’m missing, which is the acceptance part. Objectively I know I’m doing the best I can and I’m still having a hard time accepting my progress not perfection.*
I pulled out the big guns and watched an Oprah interview with Tony Robbins. It gave me great perspective and helped me move towards acceptance. I am already very aware that my expectations of myself are so far out of reality because of how I learned to keep myself “safe” by being an overachiever. I can easily and unconsciously punish myself mentally for not meeting my unrealistic expectations. It makes all the sense in the world why grieving for my Grandmother on top of the velocity of changes happening might make me extremely vulnerable. I’m going to meet this symptom with a LOT of self care and I’ll report back on my progress. (I’m already attacking it with lots of gratitude practice and that’s helping.)
This week I started training for my Reiki Master atunement. I had been wanting to do this as a long range plan for Bevin’s Tea and I’ve been relying on energy healing so much lately. The more I level up my own healing capabilities, the more healing I can do for myself.
I’m studying with Syd, the healer we’ve been working with for Macy’s cancer, Dara’s cancer prevention/surgery, my grief, Biscuit Reynolds’ myriad of issues and who we brought out to do a very powerful healing the night my Grandmother POTSA. She offers a monthly payment for the Reiki Master that is the exact amount I make from my job doing social media monitoring for The Militant Baker, so it just seemed like the Universe was aligning it to happen now.
Reiki, in case you don’t know, is a healing modality to raise the vibration of your cells. To quote 30 Rock, it is the “Laying on of hands to improve one’s life.”
Reiki comes in three levels, Level One, Two and Master. Though I only need Level Two to be able to put Reiki into my teas and I can even use my Level Two ability to go through time and space for distance healing, being a Reiki Master was a goal I aspired to as a next level. I also have been wanting to do more direct energy healing work out of our third bedroom, making it not just a guest room but a true Healing Room in which to see clients and help pay rent. So even though this is one more thing to add to all of my other things, sometimes earthly logic is not divine logic. In other words, I just felt like it was the next right thing. Part of my homework is daily self treatment with Reiki and that discipline has been helpful for me.
Between the Reiki Master studies, my ongoing work with B-School developing my tea business, my AFAA aerobics certification (wading through SO much fatphobia to get certified), I think I’m in grad school for healing modalities.
This period of my life right now is reminding me of the Dixie Chicks song that has always brought me a lot of comfort—Long Way Around. I do not know why I am so multi passionate but I am and I am working to accept all the bits about me that will eventually womanifest into something pretty spectacular.
Bucket list item checked off–seeing Dixie Chicks for the first time last October with my bestie Spunky!
*I wrote this post at a Panera and had to have a freak out and resulting thought process around feeling like a failure for being 38 and not having kids yet… I am usually so zen about this. When I have flares of issues I’m usually so resolved about, it’s my tell that I have emotional and self care work to do.