Jun 7, 2011

La Casa Meltini- Health

Today I feel like writing a little. I haven't felt it lately. Well, I've felt the urge to get my words out of my head and down somewhere else, but haven't had the drive... the ability.

On Thursday I had a small explatory surgery to look for endometriosis and any signs of anything bigger. I've had this gynocological symptom set for years. Abnormal and excessive bloating, general pelvic pain and pressure, localized pelvic pain and pressure on the lower right side that ranges from the daily (which is a pressure with a few stabs) to the severe (consistent and lasting stabbing/burning), the complete inability to poop that every GI doctor in the universe has failed to find a cause for, general pain in areas that if I were to specifically mention would cause me to have to put an age warning on my blog, and random and varied periods. My Aunt referred me to her gyno and ZOMG he actually listened to me.

So I went in and now have a bruised and second-trimester-esque belly to show for it, along with shoulder pain that is painful. I'm not a wimp, nor am I a hypochondriac in the slightest. I'm the girl that hates Tylenol. But holy shit. Ow. I try to keep in mind that many people I know in my internet life experience excruciating pain most days of the year, but that thought has not helped my own pain go away. So. Cameras went in through my belly button, above my right and left hip and internally. A golf-ball-sized cyst was removed from my right ovary and...

Nothing was found. Nothing. No endometriosis, no irregularities, no scarring, nothing. Which is good, right? Especially given my own personal history and my family history, both myself and the gyno were expecting to find moderate endo and wouldn't have been surprised by some other irregularities. And nothing. Which, I'm thankful for. So thankful. So thankful to have a doctor that is paying attention to me instead of laughing, so blessed to have found a doctor in COWBOY COUNTRY that told me I am the owner of my body and am the only person qualified or entitled to make decisions about it, and so beyond relieved that my CA125 (a blood test commonly used as a semi-reliable tumor marker, particularly with ovarian cancer patients) was at an incredibly normal and healthy 8. So thankful. Relieved that I'm not facing some diagnosis.

However. Now what? I'm too educated to believe that all of these symptoms were caused by one small cyst. And what of the others? The constant headache? The dizzy spells? The un-explained grey matter revealed on an MRI from two years ago? The back spasms? I've done so many things in my life. I've changed my eating habits (though, if I'm being honest, I've consumed far too many brownies over the past few months with my excuse being that brownies aren't as bad as whiskey), I've lost a whopping 70 pounds in four years and will lose another twenty in the next 6-12 months. I'm working on the smoking. I'm looking for a shrink. I've become more honest with myself and others, I've found my belief system, I try to sleep. I have rid my life of the passionate but toxic relationship I had with my very own personal and genuine alcoholic. I've been working on my own recovery for several months in that area. I've done all of the things I can do short of the next, more extreme steps that I'm not willing to take at this time (along the lines of living on raw and home-made juice, or giving up steak or magically finding Jesus). Why are all of these things present?

I'm stressing and I know I am. I'm always stressing. Stress is my comfort-zone, as evidenced by how fucking manic and weird I get when things seem to get easier. I'm ok with the personality traits that make me who I am, regardless of whatever diagnoses head doctors like to make when I open my mouth.

Speaking of head doctors, I recently did a small interview on film with a friend who does work for the National Alliance on Mental Illness about awareness and stigma. It's pretty exciting and scary, to think of my face on something that I hope will get out of this world big. But that's another post.

That's what's going on right now. I have all of these "other posts" that get written, sort of, in my head. That I never have time for, energy for. Today, I'm missing my Madre. Not that sick woman. This may sound harsh, but I don't miss her. I'm happy that woman is out of pain and out of that body. But my Mama, Madre, Mamita. All of the things she was that made me use different names for her. I'm missing her bad today because I want to talk to her. My Dad fulfills other roles in my life, wonderful ones that only he can fill. And my family here, I'm overwhelmed by them and their love and closeness. I'm thrilled that I feel like finally finally I am becoming a part of it. But my Mom, I just, I can't explain it. I'm missing her bad right now.

Earlier today I was thinking about when I was younger. We sat out on the lawn with two bottles of White Zin and laughed and talked about all of the serious things that were going on in my friends' lives. Teenage pregnancy, drugs, an OD, a death, all of the things that regularly afflict teenage lives. And now, I want to be sitting on my porch with two bottles of Moscato and talking about what's going on in my life. I just miss her today, bad. Emmy dreams about her almost every night and I am so happy for that. This has been so fucking hard on that precious little girl, that amazing little thinker. And I'm so happy that Gramma is in her dreams in a "black shirt with strings and sunglasses."

Conclusions for the lose.

May 3, 2011

(Not Quite) Back To Reality

Anytime I say those three words, "back to reality," I immediately get Eminem stuck in my head. Random, right?

Saturday was a memorial of sorts for my Mom. It was nice, at my Uncle's house, and had quite a few visitors. I know that she touched a lot of people. Saturday night was a night of finishing up homework and then watching Black Swan (which, by the way, was beautifully done, though not as amazing as everyone kept telling me). Sunday I took off camping for some much needed away time. Today, I am back and feel like I never left.

Everything happens so rapidly. Last week, people are grieving over the death of my Mother. This week, people are ignorantly rejoicing over the death of a monster. Next week will bring on the typical onslaught of human emotion too. Tomorrow,

Apr 28, 2011

In The Sky p.II

How do I write about my Mother's death? How? How do I say in here what it feels like? I can't. I don't know what it feels like. I'm the person drowning in relief, relief that she isn't lying there any longer. For the sake of the people I love and for people uncomfortable with cancer, I've been processing a lot in my head and in my paper journal. Now, I need to process here a bit. Typing is so much faster, more efficient. And we all know I'm about efficiency.

It happened on Sunday, Easter. After staying at my Mom's bedside the night before until the wee hours of the morning, I went home to hide eggs and set up Easter baskets and to sleep for almost two hours. After Easter was done, I went back to my Mom's and took up my spot again. Next to the bed, holding her hand, touching her hair, watching her chest rise and fall. I have no guilt in saying this. Every time it rose, I prayed harder that it wouldn't rise again. Labored breathing isn't easy to watch. It isn't easy to think of my Mama, lying there, hurting.

I am overwhelmed with all of the people that love her. Loved her. When do I start using the past tense? I didn't use to love my Mom, I do love my Mom, very much. And the thought of her someplace better, someplace higher, is a thought that comforts me. I don't even know my exact beliefs in regards to all this. I know they're not traditional, that they aren't beliefs that most would recognize or understand. I do know that at least she's not here hurting. Now, I'm here hurting.

Today I am going to my Grandma's house to say hi and to visit for awhile, and then touring an elementary school where Emily may go to kindergarten, and then doing p90x yoga with Natalie on Skype and then doing homework. I know that it's 10:04am and I need to get moving, but that the thought of moving is disgustingly overwhelming. The last few days have been days of moving forward, stubbornly pushing through anything that comes from inside and threatens to shove out of my eyes. Because I can't process this.

The last few months have been so poetic in the worst way. Watching death come in and get comfortable is something I have written about endlessly, morbidly interested in its finality and its process. Sunday was not a bad day. When she took her last breath, I was watching her face. Almost immediately the lines that pain had carved into her face were erased, the worried expression was gone, all features relaxed into nothing more than a body. Her release from that body was instant. I knew I was taking a gamble by being there, that death is a crapshoot and that it can end horribly or peacefully. I am so thankful that it was the latter. And now, all I can think about is my brother, my Grandma, my Uncles... Because I had a daily routine of calling my Mom every morning and every night and for the last three nights I have called her cell phone, oblivious of the fact that she is no longer here until her voicemail picks up.

The day after, I updated her blog with some details. Her blog was a place for her to talk about her disease and she has this huge network of friends and fellow cancer fighters. It wasn't difficult to write. Throughout Saturday and Sunday I had been watching her, learning the names of medications, so I could update as accurately as possible. This is how I cope: Information. I've written it in here before. Knowledge, information, acceptance, reality... These are my world. The emotional stuff is distant, there, but there beneath the things in my face.

As with any death, things are moving on and that is how it should be. I find myself willing to take less bullshit than ever before. I have no tolerance for people doing or saying hurtful things to eachother or to myself, regardless of the circumstances. It's not anything related to my Mom, but more the usual lack of kindness or consideration that is so common to daily life. A situation that would normally make me emotional and upset did not. It made me calmly furious. If my Mom's death has made me even stronger, even more made of iron, I am thankful for it. There are too many spaces where things can get in and affect me, and if those spaces are being sealed a little more strongly, I know I can continue onward.

Right now, I need to continue onward to the shower. Because I smell.

Apr 20, 2011


This is the woman I am trying to remember. My Mama, Pateeta, Patty, etc...

This is one that I'll be printing. Also, I forgot to add to my last post: Please send your vibes toward us all. They've gotten us all through a lot, and we feel them.

The End

Edited to add: This is a morbid and somewhat graphic post. Move on if you can't handle it.

I'm typing this from my Mom's room at my Grandma's house. I'm sitting in a white plastic chair, with a purple and green and blue afghan over it, next to her bed as she lies next to me sleeping. Her bed was removed from her room yesterday and replaced with a nursing home style bed, one that moves up and down, because she wasn't comfortable anymore.

I keep having people trying to warn me, trying to comfort me, trying to make me understand things. They think I don't understand this, that I don't understand that this is the last leg of my Mother's journey. How could I not? Her skin clings to her bones, stretched thin at some areas, sagging up in others. Her breaths are longer, much more drawn out that any normal sleep breath pattern should be. She has tubes attached to her. One for the colostomy, one for stomach contents, one for urine, one in her nose for oxygen. Tubes everywhere. She can no longer move with ease, and sleeps more than anything. She does not eat, sustaining herself on water and pop because it is what she wants. Of course I understand this.

What I don't understand is why I'm not supposed to grieve in my own way. My grief takes the shape of action. I think people think I'm in denial, and I'm not. I've known since her diagnosis 25 months ago that my Mother wouldn't get old and gray. I've known since then that even with all the luck in the world, cancer would eventually take her. There was a year where it didn't look that way, when it looked like maybe she could come through it. Then that stopped as the problems started mounting. As much as people don't believe me, I have been through this before. I've seen two of the most important people in my life whittled down to nothing, turned into living corpses. They were eaten by age. My Mom has been eaten by cancer. Throughout this whole thing I've talked with her doctors, done my own research, and talked with my Mom too. I've known the entire time exactly what is happening. I know how it works, and I know what the end looks like.

I think that people don't understand how I am still living my life. That they don't understand that I have to live my life. I can't just be here every second of the day, watching my Mom die. I don't know how to do that. Even if I did know how to do that, I have my own baby to worry about.

About a year ago (I think, timeframes are getting fuzzy) my Mom and I had a huge talk. It was about three hours long, maybe three and a half. There was yelling, there were accusations, there was crying, and hugging and love. We talked about everything we could think of. She told me, "When I die I don't ever want you thinking that there was something I couldn't forgive you for. I don't want you eaten up with guilt about anything. So let it out. Tell me why you love me, tell me things that make you angry, tell me what you don't understand. I want to have this conversation so that you can come back to it when I'm gone." And we did. It was heart-wrenching and awful and beautiful. My Mom and I acknowledged, to each other and out loud, that that was out Big Goodbye. Later, a few months ago, she was at the hospital. I can't remember if this was for the colostomy bag or for a talc pleurodesis, but it was for one of them. And I sat in her hospital bed with her, and she started crying. Violent sobs from my Mom's lips, and desperate effort to stop them. I hugged her, held her head on my chest as she cried and stroked her hair the way she did for me as a small child. We sat for an hour or so. When she was done, she lifted her face to me and said thank you.

At both of these occasions she made me promise on Emily's life that I would not let her cancer kill me too. That I would keep going, keep laughing, keep having board game nights and movie marathons and that I would keep moving forward. She told me, both times, that the only thing she wouldn't be able to forgive is if I let my life end because hers ends.

I think what others don't understand is that I have been grieving. I don't grieve as others do, I don't sob uncontrollably or go to group therapy or have lengthy discussions or anything. I accept things for what they are and have a quiet grief that rears its head long after whatever is happening has happened. And when it rears its head it is not in a way that people can identify as grief.

Here, next to my Mom, I can be honest. I've never had to pretend in front of her, never had to try to be someone I'm not. I'm not the typical perfect daughter, and she never wanted me to be. I am her perfect daughter, blunt, tactless at times, stubborn to a fault and compassionate. I am strong. She taught me to be. Right now next to her, I can cry a bit. I can let her know that I am heartbroken. That day at the hospital she told me she was beginning to leave. I knew it, and I was surprised that she knew it. Now, there's only a glimmer of her left and it only appears sometimes. I am not cold-hearted or in denial. Rather, I am trying to keep the memory of my Mom, of Patty fucking Higgins alive. I am trying to remember what she used to look like, what she's taught me, and how she wants me to live my life. I am trying to fuck cancer in the ass, to beat cancer with my love for my Mom. Yes, it is killing her. No, her body will not be with us for much longer. But she, her essence, herself, has been slipping for a few months now. I feel like very few recognize that, and that they take what I'm sure is seen as a flippant attitude from me as some sort of juvenile refusal to recognize what is going on. It's the total opposite.

I know exactly what is going on. I know that I'm already dreaming about her, that in my head and in my heart she is alive and laughing. That part of her is already on the other side and that the part of her that isn't should be. When I am here, I have to see a part of my Mom that she would never want me to see. I am here because it is important to hold her hand, to touch her hair, to touch her skin and to tell her I love her. Not because it makes her hold on, but because maybe it can help her to let go.

With all of my badassery, my toughness and stubborn ways and strength, I am heartbroken. I've been confronted with a world without my Mom in it for a few months now and frankly, I don't like it. But what I don't like more is knowing that she is lying here, struggling for breath. I am in no way ok with this life, for a life without my Mom on the other end of a phone line laughing at me or telling me which whiskey is best or crying with me over a book. I am terrified about the next several years. My heart is in pieces when I think about it. I don't want a world without my Mom. But. I would never dishonor her or disappoint her by denying what is happening.

I think this is the worst part for me. She is the one who has always told me that it is ok to be me, that it is ok to struggle in my own way, that it is ok to loudly be who I am. She has told me when I have called her, crying because a majority of my life is spent feeling inadequate, not good enough, like I don't measure up to expectations, she's told me that I only have to live up to my own expectations and no one else's. I hope and pray that twenty four years of her telling me that will get me through the rest of my life. But it beats me down a lot when I feel like others don't understand me. It doesn't change me, but it hurts me. I am not like most people that I know and she's always been the one who thinks that that's the best part about me.

This post is disjointed and rambly, probably full of grammatical errors and too many commas. And now, in the privacy of my Mom's room, I can cry a little. Just a little. I don't understand why it is wrong to live fully, even though she can't. Her words are the words that ring in my head. And now, she can't remind me that I know what to do, that I have the tools and the strength to be myself fully and that I shouldn't bend to expectations that don't work for me. I'm having to tell myself those things. I'm fortunate to have a couple people around me to talk with, people that know me far better than some that are claiming some deep-seeded relationship with me because they knew my Mom thirty years ago, better than those who think I should act a certain way because that's How We Do Things. These people are my rocks.

I don't think it's wrong to want her out of pain and misery, and I don't think it's wrong to try to keep Emily's life as stable and happy and cheerful as possible. Emmy talks about death every single day. Today she told me that Gramma sent her a message in her heart to play with her hula hoop. She's dragged it with us everywhere today. That lifted me up so much because I know that I am doing it right.

I need this post to end.

Mar 9, 2011

So Here's What I'm Thinking About

One of my pleasure shows is Teen Mom. The show, like a car crash, is something I just cannot stop staring at. I sit here and watch these girls, some of them grown women and some of them teenagers, and I just don't understand. Why is it so difficult to get priorities in order? Why is it so difficult to understand what needs to be done? What goes in to having a child?

Of course I know the answers to these questions. I know them. It all boils down to the fact that kids shouldn't be having kids. I don't know where I got the knowledge that I have, the guts to do what I needed to do for Emily and myself. I don't know. I'm thankful for it.

When I watch this show and then I see all of the issues in the news, my brain starts to hurt. Why do so many people want to deny access to birth control? What will that do? Why aren't we teaching kids about sex, protection, disease, self-respect and babies? What are we accomplishing with all of that? We have gonorrhea outbreaks in different states, one of the highest, if not the highest, teen pregnancy rates in any developed country, and an epidemic of girls being incredibly and remarkably stupid. Our education system is denying our children the right that they have to a full and comprehensive education. Our parents are failing to provide the character training that their children need. Why?

I know many staunch republicans that will blame a lack of God in our society. To each their own, but the fact remains that we are blessed to live in a country where we can choose our religion. Also, I've recently read some studies that show that God-free character education at an elementary level is just as effective as an education that includes God. This means that neither is effective. If they were, we wouldn't be seeing the numbers that we are seeing across the board in our country. We wouldn't have a TV show that shows these young women doing these stupid, stupid things. (On that note, I have a hard time believing that there are any money struggles. As a woman who has lived well below the poverty line since Emily's birth, it angers me to no end that any of these girls are making stupid decisions. I would love to have the paychecks that they have so that I could do everything I want to do for Emily, the things I will be doing five years from now when I am able to. )

I just don't get it. I don't. When will society as a whole understand that we are failing our children? That we are breeding a selfish, unconcerned group of people that will continue doing the same stupid things over and over again. Why are young men allowed to call girls whores? Sluts? Stupid bitches? Why are young girls allowed to spin in circles? Why are we, the adults, allowed to continue to fail our children and our communities? It's not related to any of the hot-topic issues. It's not. It has everything to do with instilling your children with common courtesy, common sense and common respect for themselves and for others. It has to do with telling our daughters that they are beautiful and worthy. It has to do with telling our young sons that they are beautiful and worthy. It has to do with teaching our young children that they matter. They matter enough to make good decisions, to respect their minds, hearts and bodies. We need to teach them selflessness. We need to inform them of the bad things in the world and let them see some of it while we can still help to guide them through it. We need to let them face consequences while they're with us so that maybe, they can learn to face them on their own.

It makes me so sad. It makes me look at my journey and keep going. I struggle with the same thing that all teen Moms struggle with. I am broke, I have had relationship ups and downs that are complicated in many ways by having a child. I get lonely. I spent a lot of time resenting Emily's biological father because I didn't have anyone to share with. Whether it was good sharing or bad sharing, I wanted someone to share with.

However, on top of my struggle, I am a 4.0 student. I am nine months out (hopefully) from my Bachelors. I am about two years away from a Masters. I have this beautiful amazing child, this little girl that I get to share my time with. She is so annoying. But she is so wonderful. She is generally well-mannered, she is loved and cared for and gets to be five. She is getting a childhood because I know that is what she needs. I was about to say that I know people will say they don't have the resources for that, but that's bullshit. If you want something bad enough you MAKE IT HAPPEN. I don't have the resources either. I don't have parents that can take care of everything, nor do I have a %60,000+ salary from MTV. I am from inner-city Chicago. I've had help. My family helps when they can, and that's what family is for.

We all know I suck at conclusions. My mind is over-boggled with this and with two other very specific issues going on in my life right now. I will have to write about those later.