A Laundry List (or Two.)

posted in: Day In The Life, Luv, Sicky, Tips 10
Free label, letters by me. Oh, to have a full-time graphic designer on staff. Oh, to have a staff.
Free label, letters by me. Oh, to have a full-time graphic designer on staff. Or a staff!

I saw a woman wearing denim overalls today.

Though I would like to write about how every few years the public must endure Fashion’s attempts to make denim overalls cool (oh, how they try and fail!) and how this is just silly and I can’t believe we haven’t learned to ignore Fashion on this, I think that ought to wait till tomorrow. To go straight from talk of ambulances and surgeries to ill-fitting overalls is not nice. It’s like going from a popsicle to a steak. Jarring. Rude, in some cultures.

And so as I went about my day today, I tried to think of a good bridge. “I could write about what I’ve learned since getting sick,” I thought, and mentally wandered down that road. But on the way I came upon all the things that I feel more confused about, and things that I observed that didn’t necessarily teach me anything so much as simply surprised me.

So tonight, a few lists; tomorrow, overalls.

My Oprah Winfrey, “What I Know For Sure” List
– The saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is bizarre and largely untrue. More often, what doesn’t kill you leaves you weakened, compromised.
–  You can get used to anything.
– There is no time. You must do it now.
– Being in a hospital blows. Stay out if you can, but if you must go in, pack a bag. Take your phone charger, your sock monkey, your journal. Take your glasses (if you wear them), your laptop (if you use one) and anything else you would want if you have to be there for long. As bad as you feel, try, try, try to pack a bag from home to take with you. It will bring you great comfort when you wake up.
– Visiting people when they’re in the hospital is one of the kindest, nicest, most lovely things you can do for a person. I remember every last person who came to see me. Thank you. It meant everything, every time, bless your hearts forever and ever. (Rebecca, if you’re reading this, I’m looking at you right now especially. You too, Bilal.)

Curiosities
– I’ve seen myself from the inside out: I have handled my own intestines. I am kind of a badass.
– Very few people in the Eastern hemisphere get UC or Crohn’s. These are maladies of the industrialized West. One day we will know why and keep people from getting sick like this.
– Losing my hair really sucked. It came out in clumps in the shower. That was one of the worst times in terms of feeling attractive (or not.) The stoma was rough; in some ways, losing my hair was harder. A female thing?

Disappointments
– In a hospital in Tucson, AZ, in ’09 or ’10 (ER trip while visiting then-husband) I looked at my frail, perforated body and all the medicine bags hanging around my head and thought, “I will never, ever hate my body again or tell myself I should lose five pounds when I don’t need to.” But I still do that.
– You can’t go back. You can never be ten years old again, happy, healthy, running through the yard in bare feet.

Funny Things
– I have my very own semi-colon.

10 Responses

  1. Melissa Trujillo
    | Reply

    Maybe life is all about the overalls…

  2. Lorraine
    | Reply

    Hair and breasts! Women can’t lose either one. It’s a proven fact that there are more divorces over a woman having a mastectomy than having an ileostomy.

  3. Tammy Pettus
    | Reply

    My husband is a cattle farmer. Overalls are his everyday attire. Women should never, ever wear overalls. They are not, nor ever will be attractive on a woman.

  4. Naomi
    | Reply

    are overalls what we call Dungarees? for the first time ever I disagree… I love them.

    ps semi colon? love ur irreverence

  5. Elaine
    | Reply

    Semi colons rule!
    You are bright, funny , serious, & wonderful. My wish for you is to keep feeling better. Lots of hugs.

  6. Alicia Key
    | Reply

    Sorry you’ve been suffering but LOVE your writing! You’re a STAR!

  7. Amy
    | Reply

    Officially nominated for the best post ever for the following reasons:
    1. The saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is bizarre and largely untrue. More often, what doesn’t kill you leaves you weakened, compromised. – I needed to know that! (I “used” to say that quote.)
    2. There is no time. You must do it now. With the caveat that I am shackled to a job that I pretty much hate = mortgage, food on the table trumps “do what you love.” This is how I try to live my life!
    &
    3. I have my very own semi-colon. Funniest truism that I have read in “ever.”

  8. Pam Pollock
    | Reply

    I have always hated that statement! Who are they kidding? What doesn’t kill you makes us weaker. There is no life-affirming, transformative positive outcome from suffering. Well said Mary! Thank you!

  9. […] mere mention of overalls on women in yesterday’s post inspired comment from both sides of the pant leg. I had no idea this would be so polarizing an […]

  10. Jody
    | Reply

    What didn’t kill me made me physically weaker, yes. Compromised. True. But I am a stronger person, and a better person, for having gone through it. So I suppose it depends on what you mean by stronger.

    Fear isn’t weakness. Neither is sadness.

    When my hair fell out (the first time), I went into hysterics. Not when my boobs got sliced and diced and mutilated. But the hair. That was traumatic. Now? Well, the second time I went through chemo, and it fell out, I sorta didn’t even blink. You really can get used to anything.

    I am a single mom. I have four children. I have had breast cancer, twice. And I turn 39 this year. I have MS, and am currently in the process of getting a diagnosis of who the heck knows what, that involves seizures among other things. I have days I can barely walk, days I don’t want to move or even get out of bed. Days where I am so depressed I can’t imagine why I’m still on this planet to begin with. But then I have days that are filled with the people or things that I love. And I spend a lot of my good days doing what I can to help others who are in the midst of their bad ones. No one ever came to see me in the hospital, so I make sure to visit everyone I can.

    I don’t know why I dumped all of that. I think I’m struggling right now, and something in your post triggered an emotional storm inside me. I can relate to so much . . . I wish I could be in New York to be there for you, to visit you, to burp your bag and clean it out and give you ice chips and help you deal. But instead I can only pray for you, because that’s all I got.

    I probably shouldn’t post this. But I will. I know you can delete/edit if you want to, so I’ll risk it.

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