Tag Archives: friends

Nighttime Reflections

I am spending the next 3 days with my best friend and her family, and since she has four children under the age of five and a part time job…she’s tired.  She and her husband have gone to bed, so I’ve retired to my room to get a little computer time in before going to bed myself.  I’m so happy to be here with them. Her four kids, my Godchildren, are so adorable and so much fun. I miss the days when they lived only 20 minutes from me…rather than three hours.

Anyway, now that they are in bed and all four kids are asleep (I hope, for their sake, all four STAY asleep for several hours), the house is uncharacteristically quiet.  I didn’t realize this house could get this quiet!  There is usually someone crying or talking…or the sound of little bare feet slapping the hardwood floors.  In effort to keep the house quiet and avoid somebody waking up, I’ve opted not to watch TV or watch YouTube videos (I forgot my earphones!).  With all this silence, I’ve been sitting here thinking about things.

For some reason, I started thinking about high school.  I probably thought about this due to my imminent birthday (March 6)…which makes me realize it’s been quite a long time since I was in high school!  I’ve been out of high school long enough now that some of my old friends from those days have kids well into elementary school, some are getting divorced, some are recently remarried…we’re grown ups!  When you’re in your early 20s, you consider yourself a “grown up” (and technically you are)…but when you reach my age you begin to realize you were still just a kid then.

I sometimes miss the carefree days of college…being on my own without really being on my own.  I had the luxury of coming and going as I pleased without the burden of financial responsibilities bombarding me from every angle.  It was still easy, and almost “fashionable” to stay up until all hours…sometimes it was even necessary if I had a big test the next day.  I was always coming and going, spending more time with friends than alone or with family…and it was a tragedy if something happened to prevent me from spending time with them.  Back then, my family were important to me, but my friends were my life.  I spent hours talking on the phone (believe it or not, I actually went to college during a time when texting had not quite taken off the way it has now), and when I wasn’t on the phone I was with the people I was on the phone with.

During college and shortly thereafter, every aspect of life seemed so emotionally charged.  It was much easier for me to become passionate about things.  It doesn’t take all that much for people of that age to get into arguments with their friends, enter a phase where you aren’t speaking, etc.  Of course, within the week it was all forgotten and life moved on as if it never happened.  In college you don’t care as much about having nice things (except when it comes to technology), matching furniture, fancy dishes, and things like that.  For people that age lucky enough to live off campus, it is not uncommon to have mismatched furniture in every room, sitting atop the 30-dollar rug you purchased at Walmart all on your own and are so proud of.

It’s strange to think about that time in my life, because it wasn’t really that long ago, yet it seems like it was.  It’s strange to see how much your life changes and your priorities change in such a short span of time.  When you reach my age, you have your own house, or at least your own apartment.  You want your furniture to match. All of a sudden you find dishes and cookware interesting.  You don’t have a Walmart rug in your living room anymore.   Instead of wanting the fastest car, you want a practical car that saves gas mileage and has four doors to seat everyone comfortably and isn’t too hard to climb out of.  If you have children, you actually want and maybe already have a minivan.

You realize how smart your parents actually are.  Instead of being afraid of being caught out with your parents by your friends, you start to want to hang out with them.  They are starting to be more like friends than parents all of a sudden.  You don’t spend half the amount of time with your friends that you once did, because they’re all busy with their lives and so are you.  Instead of going to bars or clubs when you do get to spend time with them, you just go out to eat or to each others’ homes.  I never did lead a “party lifestyle” anyway, but I spent more time in bars then than I do now–which is never.  In fact, I don’t drink at all now.

When you call or text your friends now, you don’t get upset or wonder what you did wrong if they don’t answer you.  In fact, you find yourself feeling surprised if they actually do respond in a timely manner.  It takes an awful lot for you to get into any sort of fight with a friend when you reach the end of your 20s.  You’ve grown up and matured.  Stupid petty things don’t upset you like they once did.  And if you do have a falling-out with a friend, it’s over something pretty bad…something you and that person just do not and will not agree on.  If someone hurts you, a lot of times you stop speaking to each other forever…not just a few days.  Luckily it rarely happens, though…well, unless one or both parties have failed to mature with age which sometimes happens.

You begin to look back at all the friends you once had and you realize just how many people you have lost touch with.  People who you spent practically every waking moment with in school are reduced to a Facebook friend you rarely hear from, with the exception of the random comment or like on your status or photo. It doesn’t happen with all your friends, though.  Some friends you make in high school and college will be your friends for life.  And you realize late in your 20s just how rare that is and how precious they are to you.  You also make new friends at work, people who share your interests and become just as close to you as your college buddies were, even if you don’t spend nearly as much time with them.

While some of this may sound depressing to a younger person, it really isn’t.  It’s just the naturally progression of life that comes with maturity.  One thing you realize at my age is, while you do miss those days from time to time, most people wouldn’t go back if they could.  When you get older and mature, you start to settle down and appreciate different things than you appreciated in school.  I personally loved college, but I wouldn’t go back to those days no matter how much you paid me.  Now those days are just fond memories of a good time, but I’m much more settled down and content with my life and myself than I’ve ever been before…and I like it.

Another thing that happens after school is that you become your teachers’ peers rather than their subordinates.  I’m actually friends with some of my college professors and even a couple of my high school teachers.  Some of the teachers I feared and even disliked in high school, I now look back on with respect.  The ones I liked the least were the ones from whom I learned the most.  Age becomes a far less important factor when you’re in your late 20s.  In high school, it was just much too beneath you to be friends with people more than a couple of years younger, and the people a few years older felt the same about you.  Now, I have friends decades older than I am!  And I don’t think a thing of it.  It’s natural to me.

I guess one of the saddest things to happen when you get older is you start hearing about the deaths of some of your old teachers from high school.  The ones that were older and about to retire when I was in school are now dying.  It makes me sad.

One of my best and favorite teachers from high school passed away not that long ago and I was so hurt by that.  She was one of the teachers most feared by all the students.  I almost took the class in summer school just to avoid taking it with her.  Had I done that, I would have cheated myself in a big way.  I’ve been thinking a lot about her lately.  My senior English teacher taught me almost everything I know about writing.  If it hadn’t been for her, I’d never have made it through college with almost a 4.0.  I’d never have been able to use my writing as a source of income.  You can’t tell from reading this blog, but I can actually write fairly well.  Well enough to be published from time to time.  I don’t take the time to make this blog perfect like I do my professional writing.  I just write as it comes to me.  Proofreading–ha! I just wish I’d have told her how much her class did for me.

One of the best things you can do for a teacher is go back when you’ve grown up and tell them how much their class meant to you or how it was a major part of your success.  I would have told her eventually how much she meant to me and how much I appreciated her, but I never imagined she’d die before I got the chance.  It broke my heart.  It broke a lot of people’s hearts.  She was the best of the best of the teachers at my high school.  It’s still funny to me how one of the most feared teachers at my school (and most hated by students who didn’t care to learn or even try) ended up being my favorite.  After my first week in her class, the fear subsided and I was so glad I hadn’t taken the easy way out of her class.  I miss her.  I miss her so much.

Things I Don’t Have Time For…

For those who don’t know me, I’m the Princess of Procrastination and I value any method or means for getting around having to put forth a lot of effort to do things.  What this basically means is…I’m lazy.

I’m not lazy when it comes to my work.  I love what I do and while it DOES seem like work (as opposed to the old saying “do what you love and you’ll never ‘work’ a day in your life), it’s work I enjoy doing. When it comes to everything else, however, there are a lot of things that fall into the category of “things I have no time for.”

1. Matching Socks
I don’t mean I have no time to wear matching socks.  I do wear socks that match…most of the time…but I rarely put forth the effort to put my socks into pairs after doing laundry.  More often than not, my socks end up in a messy heap in my sock drawer.  The matching is done at the time of dressing.  I’d rather spend 2 minutes digging through a mountain of mismatched socks than take the time to put them together sock by sock.

2. Answering My Phone
Don’t take this one the wrong way.  99% of the time, if you try to call me, I will answer it.  I am referring to that 1% of time where one will text me, and if I don’t respond to the text within 2 minutes they call me. If I had the time to answer the text, I would have done so immediately. If I didn’t have time to answer a text, what makes you think I’ll have time to talk on the phone?  Give me a little breathing room, buddy. 🙂

3. Physical Therapy
This one likely only applies to myself and a very small group of others, but if you’ve ever suffered an injury or had major surgery, you know what I mean. Doctors and Physical Therapists must think people have all the time in the world! Usually a person is prescribed physical therapy 6-8 weeks postoperatively–about the same time a person goes back to work. Do you think a person who works full time and has just returned to work after two months has time to leave for a couple of hours three days a week?  Probably not.

4.  Stupid Questions
I know there’s a saying “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.” Well, I beg to differ.  If a person is asking a question because they genuinely don’t know something, that’s perfectly fine. What I don’t have time for is answering questions I’ve already given the answer to. The asker would KNOW the answer had they been paying attention when I said it the first time. If I take the time to explain something to a person, I’m ok with clarifying things…but don’t ask me to re-explain something because you were too busy looking at your phone and nodding your head as if you heard everything I said.

5. Fake People
This is the final item on the list for today–something that was inspired by events that took place a short time ago.  Everyone encounters them–people so transparent you can see straight through them. People who play the game of being “friends” when, in all honesty, they could care less what really happens to you.  Don’t waste my time telling me we’re friends when you don’t actually care. If you don’t want to be my friend, that’s 100% your right and I won’t question your reasons. I’d much rather encounter people I KNOW aren’t my friends than those people who make nice and say they’re your friend, but when you hit a rough patch they’re nowhere to be found…or who are so sweet to your face, but you find out later they talk about you behind your back.  It may be a cliche, but…

I issue a word of caution to you. It may make me sound pessimistic, but I know this from personal experience.  You may think you have the best friends in the world and that they would be there for you no matter what.  That may be the case, and if so, you’re a lucky person…but in most circumstances, it isn’t the case.

You’ve heard the phrase “Hard times reveal who your true friends are.” I had heard it a thousand times and thought my friends are real. They’d be there for me no matter what. Unfortunately I did hit hard times and was issued a painful slap in the face of reality.

When I injured my spine nine months ago, my “friends” ended up falling into three categories:  real friends, apathetic acquaintances, and non-friends.

My real friends learned of my plight and called me or texted me immediately. They checked on me, were interested in what happened and the course of treatment, they continued to check on me throughout the first surgery, recovery, second surgery, recovery, third surgery, and are still very much a part of life during this third period of recovery.  They’ve sent cards, texts, flowers. Some haven’t done much at all other than let me know they’re still there. That they care. That they are available anytime I need them.  Those are the people for whom I am the most thankful.  If not for them and my family, I am not sure how, or even if I would have made it through this.

The apathetic friends were tricky.  When they learned I’d been hurt, they would text once in a long while. Kept up with me to some extent through the first surgery and recovery experience. Then the second surgery rolled around and slowly these friends started to disappear. I’d go a long time without hearing from them so I’d text or try to call them and be met with no response.  Some responded at first to my attempts at contact but they too eventually went off the radar. And no, I didn’t send them messages asking them why they hadn’t checked on me. I would simply text them asking how they were doing. I missed them.  Some asked me if I wanted to go out and do things at the very first–things I was physically unable to do.  I would respond with a decline, thanking them for trying to include me. Then I would offer to do something I was able to do–go out to eat, etc, but no. They didn’t want to.  Some just vanished because they had lost their “hanging out” buddy.  It hurt.  I didn’t know what I could do to fix it. To mend our friendship I cherished…

The non-friends learned I’d been injured and immediately decided I was a lost cause to them.  These are the ones that not once checked on me, and any attempts on my part to get in touch with them fell on deaf ears.  If I saw them in public, it was as if I didn’t exist.  These people are the type who make friends according to what you can do for them.  If you can’t do anything for them–even for only a short time–you are of no further use to them and you are cut off completely.

The fourth category–which I didn’t list originally–is the cruel non-friend. I didn’t list it initially because only one person–thank God–fell into this category.  This person checked on me a few times and I thought we were cool.  She found out about my second surgery and texted me while I was in the operating room. Since I was under anesthesia and subsequently on a dilaudid pain pump and completely oblivious to the world around me, my phone was off for 3 days.  On the third day I turned it back on, saw her message, and responded, apologizing for taking 3 days and explaining why it took so long. Thinking she’d understand–especially since she knew I was having to undergo a second emergency surgery–I sent the message (she didn’t answer the phone) and didn’t think about it again. A while later, I received a very long text in response. I was basically told I was worthless as a friend, I was rude and inconsiderate for not answering sooner, that she didn’t want to hear my stupid complaining (sorry I mentioned I had to have surgery again, and sorry I was unable to text while completely asleep) and that she was no longer interested in maintaining a “friendship” with me.

I had people in all of these group I loved very much and whose friendship I valued greatly. People I thought would be friends for life. People I never in a million years would think could be so cruel. Going through something like this injury has been the most painful–physically as well as emotionally–as I’ve ever experienced. This hard time truly has been a major eye-opener.

I can’t begin to describe how much I missed the people who vanished. Even the person who was so cruel and refused to understand the facts. I cried a lot. I worried and worried about why I had lost them and what to do to get my “friends” back. I felt responsible for ruining my friendships with these people I cared for.

Then it hit me.

I hadn’t done a thing wrong! Yes, I had lost some “friends,” but in the grand scheme of things, they weren’t friends at all! If you do all you are physically, mentally, and emotionally capable of doing to maintain a friendship and it makes no difference to a person, you never had a friendship in the first place. I realized that I was starting to spend so much time worrying about losing a few friendships that I was in danger of neglecting the friendships I still had! I was devoting more of my time and energy to these people who couldn’t have cared less about me than I was to the ones who did care! My priorities got mixed up, and I set about correcting it.

It took a little bit, but I was able to accept what had happened with those so-called friends. I began to take inventory of what these people did, didn’t do, and who they were. When I really considered it, I learned these people were not the kind of people I needed to associate myself with. When we were together, we never did anything good. It was always something I questioned whether or not I should do. Things morally I would never have done before meeting them. When I really examined the friendships I had, those who had vanished really fell short of what a friend really should be. I compared how they treated me to how they treated others I knew to be their friends. I discovered I was, in their minds, a pity-friend or a tolerable friend. When you get right down to it, they had no need for me in their life and I learned I had no need for them in mine.

I learned to cherish the people who really were my friends even more. I learned a lot about myself and what I should and shouldn’t tolerate when it comes to how I’m treated. I’ve always had such low self esteem that I took any abuse a person could heap on me just to call them a friend. I finally understood that I have value, too. No one deserves to be treated badly. Everyone is worth something to someone. Even me.

Since learning these things and coming to terms with them, my life has been enriched immeasurably! I finally have enough respect for myself to be a better friend to those I care about. I also have enough self respect to stand up for myself. No one has the right to put me down and I have no right to put anyone else down. My friendships mean more and my life is better. I’m happier. I’m stronger. Even though I’m still going through hell physically, emotionally I’m healthier than I’ve ever been, and it feels good.

Love and cherish the people who love and cherish you. Never, ever let anyone treat you like a second-class citizen. You deserve happiness as much as anyone else. Hold on to the people who want to be in your life. If there are people who don’t meet these requirements for life, ask yourself…are they worth it? Try to mend the relationship–if it can be mended. If you find out the relationship is toxic, however, you’re not doing anyone a favor by maintaining it. If someone is bringing you down, making you feel like you aren’t worthwhile, CUT ‘EM LOOSE. Everyone deserves happiness and healthy relationships.

Everyone.

Happy New Year, Depression, and Updates

I don’t know how I let so much time pass without writing anything! I’m sure the reason is simply lack of interest. It’s not that I’m not interested in writing for my blog. When I do write it makes me feel better. I love writing things down if for nothing else than to have something to come back to down the road and be able to see exactly what I was thinking at any given time. My blog I kept during my years in nursing school is one of my most cherished possessions. I go back and look at it from time to time and it always brings back memories I had long forgotten, while always providing me with a good laugh. Some of the things I wrote about…and some of the “hardships” I complained about while I was in nursing school are absolutely laughable! I’ve changed a lot since those days…

Anyway, since about 4 months into my spine injury journey, I’ve been struggling with depression. It’s pretty obvious why I’m depressed, I think. My whole world has been turned upside down and shaken until every ounce of familiarity, comfort, and happiness fell out and shattered into a thousand pieces. Life as I knew it before my injury is one hundred percent different. Not being able to work with patients and do what I love has literally sucked the life out of me. Once several months had passed and it became apparent that I would never again be able to live my life in the way I was accustomed to, I lost my will to go on. I’m not saying I was suicidal, but I certainly wasn’t interested in life anymore. They say that everything happens for a reason and that even our hardest times are just preparing us for bigger and better things…but here I am eight months later and literally NOTHING good has come out of it. It sounds terrible and I know it’s not the appropriate viewpoint, but I literally hate my life right now. And, yes, I know there are many, many people in this world far worse off than I am…and yes, I’m thankful my problems aren’t as bad as they COULD be. I’ve been lectured, scolded, and shouted at plenty of times so I don’t need anyone else telling me my point of view is screwed up. Believe me, I KNOW it is. Depression makes you view things differently, though. It alters your thinking and makes you feel like there is nothing good in your life and makes you feel like there’s no point in waiting and hoping for better things to come your way because, as far as you’re concerned, those better things aren’t coming. Is it the right way to think? No, but it’s how I feel.

Depression is a real medical condition and those who suffer from it may know the right way to feel, but they physically and mentally aren’t able to feel that way even if we desperately want to. When you’re depressed, you lose interest in things you once loved, you feel like your whole life is a mistake. You can point your finger in their face and scold them all day about their crappy outlook on life, but it won’t change the fact that they are depressed. It won’t help them, and if it does anything it only makes them feel worse. Something I’ve realized and had to tell several people is that if you’ve never suffered from true, honest-to-God depression (not just a temporary sense of “the blues”) then you have no idea what a depressed person feels and you should never claim that you do. The best thing anyone can do for someone who is depressed is be supportive. You can tell them you’re worried about them–they know they have a problem–and above all, tell them you’re there for them if they need you. Offer to do what you can to help if you’re truly interested and truly care whether or not they get better. The worst thing you can do is get angry at them and tell them how much they suck then proceed to tell them in no uncertain terms that you hate them and are not interested in whether or not they are depressed (as one of my friends did a while back). It’ll only make them more depressed, and possibly make you a reason they ended it all. I’m not that depressed, thank God, but it isn’t getting better. I hope to overcome this disgusting depression soon. I’m sick of it.

Anyway, since I’m depressed, I’m doing everything I can to beat it. I’m getting out more–as much as I’m physically able. I’m seeing  a doctor. There isn’t much else I’m able to do. Hopefully I’ll lick it soon. I also spent a week with my best friend and her family and it was so nice. I enjoyed seeing her and my godchildren. They did a lot to lift my spirits. So much so, I didn’t want to come home! My back wasn’t ready for all the kid-chasing and kid-lifting…I’m in the most pain I’ve been in since my last surgery. It’s bad. I’m definitely paying for it, but it was worth every bit of the pain. My friend has been so amazing through all of this. She is supportive and always there to talk when I need her. She was entirely too good to me while I was visiting. She paid for my meals, took me on a day trip and paid for everything, gave me gifts, and we had many long talks. It was the best medicine I could have received. We vowed to visit each other more, as she lives 150 miles away. She’s even asking around to help me possibly find a job where she lives so I can be closer to her. While I’m not overly excited about the prospect of moving to a small southern town (I’m a city girl through and through), part of me thinks it would be nice to live a good distance from my parents, while still close enough to visit whenever I want, and live really close to her. She moved almost four years ago and I still miss seeing her all the time.

While I still have a long way to go, I know the depression will eventually get better. I’ve always struggled with it as many of my relatives have, but this is the worst it’s been. I’ve never experienced such a major life change before, so it’s no wonder it got so bad. My hope is that I’ll finally beat this and begin finding joy in my writing again. Even as I write this blog entry I see how much I’ve changed. I used to spend hours writing every day, paying special attention to wording, grammar, and punctuation. I’d read and re-write things multiple times until they were just right. Now I’m just rambling on not giving anything a second look. I’m sure there are countless grammatical and punctuation errors. The fact that I honestly don’t care about those errors proves I have a problem. Wish me luck, I’m ready to be happy again.

Happy new year to all. May this be a year of success and happiness for everyone.

I’m Tired of Being Down…I’m On My Way Up!

*Note:  Forgive the length of this blog post!  It got quite long in a hurry, but I haven’t posted in a while and there have been so many things happening lately.  Sometimes you have to get it all out!  Like a rant in reverse.  😉

So, every time I feel like I’m nearing the light at the end of the tunnel, something else comes up and stops me in my tracks.  Sorry I haven’t been blogging much, but I’ve gone from having literally NOTHING to do to actually having a few offers come my way to work on some very interesting projects…the details of which will be revealed as they become available.  😉

I just had my third surgical procedure in three months.  Granted compared to two spine surgeries, the one today was literally nothing.  I had my wisdom cut out because they were not coming in properly.  When I learned I needed this done, I was told it would potentially be a little complicated.  Of course in my recent state of mind, I didn’t take the news well.  “Why me? Why do things keep going wrong?  Why does everything have to be complicated?” You know, pity party table for one!  Well, the procedure actually went totally smoothly and much easier than the doctor anticipated, which made me very happy.  Apart from a wicked sore mouth, I’m doing fine and should be back to normal—at least in that department—in no more than a week.

I won’t rehash everything that’s happened since May, Lord knows I’ve done enough of that.  There is one thing I’d like to discuss, though.  When a person goes through so much in so little time, learns their back is basically never going to return to normal, and  being in your 20s learning you’re a nurse who will never be able to work in direct patient care again…they tend to get a little depressed.  I knew was down, but didn’t realize how much so.  Thanks to the support of my family, I’ve gotten some help for the depression.  No, I haven’t been suicidal or anything like that, but I understand now how depressed people can fall into that trap of thinking there is no other way out of their problems.  Depression is a legitimate illness which needs treatment.  I refused to admit I had a problem.  Now, of course, I know I did.

Due to my depression, I began to withdraw from my friends.  I still spoke to them some, and even went out a time or two, but did not maintain the same level of communication I had in the past.  I had no desire to talk to people some days and would literally leave my phone in my bedroom and not look at it for days.  Talking to people about what was going on only made me feel worse and deepen the depression, even though they were genuinely concerned about me and just wanted to know how I was.

Well, one of those friends did not take my silence well.  She was very good to me initially.  She attended both of my surgeries and made a beautiful wreath for me.  In fact, she was the only friend I had who actually visited me at the hospital (not that I’m saying that’s bad, I know some of my friends simply don’t have the time or means to visit people in the hospital due to kids, distance, etc).  Anyway, very soon after my second surgery, my parents took me to Dallas to try to help cheer me up from the slump I was in.  It worked a little.  I was so happy while I was there!  I made a mistake though.  I continued my newly forming habit of leaving my phone at home and failing to check it sometimes 3 or 4 days in a row.  Well, this friend texted me to check up on me, a very kind thing to do, while I was there and I neglected to respond.  I got her text at a time when I was unable to respond, and, God’s honest truth, I simply forgot to reply to the text when I was able to.

She then texted me again once I was back home, making it clear she didn’t appreciate me not replying to her text.  I replied to it then, but heard nothing more from her.  I even sent this person a facebook message in attempt to explain.  Nothing.  After a while of ignoring me I texted her again, trying one last time to establish communication again.  Well, as my life typically goes, she called me literally 20 seconds after my dad called me, leaving me unable to answer her text.  Well, I guess that was the last straw because I received a long, quite cold voicemail, followed by a VERY long and even more cold text message basically spelling out that I sucked at being a friend and that I had problems and needed help and that she couldn’t help me.

My immediate reaction was to text her back in attempt to explain, but it fell on deaf ears.  She has yet to communicate with me since.  At first, I was deeply hurt.  Some of the things she said were extremely hurtful and though she stated “she cared,” someone who directly tells you that you have problems and depression, she still treated me like I was just being rude and ignoring her.  So its like she knew I was going through something that made me into something I’m not, but turned right around and made me out to be the bad guy for missing one text.  Public enemy number one.  I wanted desperately to patch things up because I despise confrontation, but then I started to think about some of the things she said.  I am not going to repeat them all, but the thing that struck the biggest chord with me was her telling me numerous times “you need help, you have problems, and I can’t help you.”  Then my sadness was replaced, for a time, with anger.  I didn’t ever recall, NOT ONCE, asking for her help.  I merely missed a text from her.  Period.  So, granted, maybe that did make me a crappy friend, but I was going through a depression so bad I literally was a different person for a while.

Because of that situation, I made more of an attempt to keep in touch with my friends, and thank God, not one other soul shared her feelings of hatred toward me…and believe me when I tell you I missed more than one text from some of them!  My other friends were all kind and supportive, simply picking up where we left off, forgetting the whole thing.  So, for a while, I harbored a huge resentment for this woman and her treatment of me.  If everyone else can be ok with it and understand that depression is a real problem and sometimes things happen that are unintentional.

Then I got help for the depression.  I guess it took that whole, messy scenario to finally propel me into action and seek help for the depression I was suffering…because anyone who has suffered from depression knows, you aren’t going to get better unless you want to do it for yourself.  Not because someone tells you to.  Once I got the help I needed, I got into a better state of mind and was able to start sorting through my feelings with much more perspective.  So, after all the cruel things that were said, I realized being upset with her wasn’t hurting anyone but myself.  I chose right then and there to let it go, deciding to spend my time being around the people who still cared and wanted to be there for me and actually enjoyed my company—and I theirs.  With a clearer grasp on things, I now realize that—though I hardly think it was her intention—she helped me a great deal.

I finally grew up and stopped pitying myself, choosing to direct my thoughts toward the things and people that mattered.  I also realized, after some friends reminded me of some things, that perhaps I wasn’t the only person in that scenario who needed help.  Once I let it go and wanted to try again to make amends, I was urged not to by practically everyone.  It was the opinion of most of my friends and family that, though it would be a good thing to apologize for undue hurt I may have caused her missing that text, that someone who would treat me like that would be very detrimental to the progress I’m making…unless of course she decided to dig deep and look within and realize she was in a very similar situation emotionally.  Obviously or she wouldn’t have reacted the way she did.

I have chosen not to attempt communicating with her in the future.  If she should attempt to contact me, I will be kind and apologetic, but that whole situation—as many situations born of anger do—made me realize that sometimes people are just not meant to be friends.  No matter how badly you want it.  It still saddens me to feel that way, but it is very unlikely that the two of us will ever establish a friendship again, regardless.  The highest I am aiming for is civility and I am going to have to be happy with that.

Through this whole terrible summer, my life has been flipped upside down.  I’m moving out of my house, I’m a nurse who can’t work with patients (in the sense I WANT to work with patients) and it’s been a lot to take in in 3 months!  But you have to go through a storm—a really bad storm—sometimes to get to where you’re really meant to be in your life.  When bad things happen, it’s very hard to accept that they may be happening for a reason…a reason so amazing and good you couldn’t imagine it in your wildest dreams.  In this past three months, I actually was able to get out of a job that was doing more harm than good for me as well as rid myself of a lot of the negativity in my life.  I’m choosing to spend my time around people who are positive and uplifting.  I’ve parted ways with some people who only brought pain and negativity into my life…because whether you believe it or not, the people you associate yourself with can rub off on you.  I choose to let the positive people rub off on me and eliminate the people who enjoy hurting people for sport.  It’s like being a child and getting away from the bad influence kids.

Since I’ve made this drastic change in my life, things keep getting better and better.  I was able to drop the negative attitude and so many great things have just fallen into my lap!  Things I wanted but never asked for…things I wanted, but didn’t even know I wanted until I was able to sweep all the darkness out of my mind.  There are still some amazing people I’ve not done well to keep in touch with and I am doing my best to get around to reconnecting with them.  I basically made up my mind that I was not going to be weak anymore, allowing all the negativity and hate contaminate my spirit.  It’s the best decision I’ve ever made, and it’s become easier and easier to accept the things I don’t “want” to happen and just let them happen…because I know these things are all part of a bigger picture—working to make and mold me into the person I want to be and was meant to be.  My happiness is no longer based on making others happy, but rather being kind (which will, in turn make people happy) and being accepting of anything life throws at me.

The storm clouds are clearing and the sunshine is breaking through.  Life is good and getting better…and I have more love in my heart for my friends and family than I ever thought I could!  Hold fast to the people who genuinely love you.  They are the key to helping you get your life back on track.  I had to learn the hard way that going around constantly surly, unhappy, and feeling sorry for yourself will never work out well for you.  People who hurt inside are typically the first ones to lash out and hurt other people, trying to make sure they’re surrounded with people who are as miserable as they are.  It took me over 20 years but I’ve finally figured that out!

Life Can Throw You A Curve! But You MUST KEEP GOING!

Well, I had intended on making this post my big review of the latest four books in Martha Long’s “Ma,” series…and I will be posting that tomorrow.  I have have been putting a lot of thought into it, and though I have notes, I have decided to write it on the five hour journey back to Little Rock from Dallas.  It will give me something to do on that long, exhausting ride.  Tonight, I am far too exhausted to put the amount of effort into the post that it deserves, and it would end up a poor excuse for the rave review I have in store.  I will say this, in her usual fashion, Martha Long has again not failed to amaze me.  She is a woman of great courage and strength and will always hold my utmost respect.  Her series has blown me away, and I’m devastated I have to wait until September to read the final chapter of her amazing, harrowing life saga.  Anyway, if I don’t stop myself now I’ll go on and on about how wonderful she is and how amazing her books are.  No.  All that for another day.  Tomorrow, to be exact, so be ready.

Tonight I have decided to share something that is lying heavily on my heart.  Something that I don’t want to talk about, don’t want to even think about…but I am an adult faced with the ultimate dilemma and sadness.  As an adult and a realist, I must face this seemingly hopeless situation head-on.  I have been given news today that, at first, I thought would destroy me.  My very spirit.  Never in my life have I been so devastated or destroyed inside.  Depressed doesn’t begin to describe how I have felt the majority of this day.  Thank God, however, I have the love and support of an amazing mom, dad, and aunt who have helped me see my life is not over, in fact I should look at this situation as a new beginning, a way to start over.  I also have the amazing life of Martha Long to look to, as she has revealed so much about her never-give-up spirit in her incredible books.  I have also been given the unimaginable gift of friendship of one of the kindest-hearted, warmest, loveliest women in the world.  Without the miracle of technology we would never have known the other existed, but thankfully–through the mutual admiration of Martha Long and the incredible social site that is twitter–I was introduced to a lovely lady named Carolyn.  She is a beautiful person inside and out, and although we live 4,200 miles apart (and yes I calculated it), she has become one of my nearest and dearest friends.  Her family as well, her daughter is an amazing human being with a huge heart…and 3 of the most adorable grandchildren ever.  Carolyn has seen me through some very difficult times in my life, willing to talk to me on the phone at all hours of the day or night for as long as I needed, to help cheer me up.  Then she will talk to me when I’m perfectly happy and content! My emotions have been a roller-coaster lately, and through it all Carolyn has been there for me, even being so far away.  I am so very grateful for technology and so blessed to be born in a time when it is available.  Thank you Carolyn, for you kindness, concern, and above all, your friendship.  You’re a treasure and I now consider you and your wonderful family a part of my own.  And thank you Martha, for sharing your story, giving me something to cling to, a hope I would not have found otherwise.  Two amazing Irish women who have made my life better simply by being themselves.  I am grateful to you both.

As I said, my emotions–my life–has been a roller coaster ride I would rather not have taken.  I’ve been through it all…illness, hateful people putting me down, loss of some of my dearest loved ones, all of which have broken my heart beyond anything I had felt up to that point.  At this very moment I’m in Dallas, Texas visiting my aunt whom I just mentioned and whom I love dearly for being a compassionate voice of reason in my life.  It has been a very difficult trip for me.  First of all, coming into this house, which she is preparing to move out of, and seeing it completely transformed.  Everything belonging to my uncle has all but vanished.  I don’t feel his presence here like I did before.  I understand why she is doing this.  Giving his things away to those who loved him most.  She has kept the things that mean the most to her and has given the rest away to his children and friends to treasure forever.  I received a memento today of my beloved uncle Mac, which I will treasure forever and display proudly in my home.  It’s such a shame that sometimes you don’t realize how very special someone is to you until you lose them.  I adored that man.  He was so very, very dear to me.  My uncle and my friend.  Next to my daddy, one of the few men in my life to ever show me unconditional love.  Something he showed to everyone he knew well.  He was an amazing individual and the world is a less happy place without him in it.  I have nothing left now but his memory to keep him alive, and I will remember him and cherish his memory until the day I die.  Mac McCuistion, you were a beautiful human being.  May your spirit live on in all of us who knew and loved you best.

Now, as I sit here crying thinking about this, I will share another bit of news I learned today that hit me like a ton of bricks.  I injured my back a few days ago at work, while trying to lift a large patient.  I was attempting to help turn him from his side to his back, and inadvertently was not given much help in the process–leaving the majority of the strain on me flipping this man over.  As soon as I gave it all my strength, I felt an all-too-familiar pop in my back.  It terrified me, I knew I had really done it. I felt the pain shoot down my spine and left leg immediately.  I chose, however, to ignore it and continue on with my job.  I’ve had surgery once for a back injury and it was without a doubt one of the worst experiences of my life to that time.  It took ages for me to return to my old self physically.  Now, feeling fit and fine, doing well and almost always pain-free, I was happy and doing well in my new job.  The thought of repeating this horrible incident horrified me beyond belief.  Ignoring it eventually made me forget about it, and the pain–although still ever-present–eased to the point I was able to continue my work day.

As the days went on, however, the pain worsened…and worsened.  Each day the pain would get worse, and although I didn’t want to face it, I knew it was not a good situation brewing.  I still chose to ignore it and not have it seen about, although I did make my boss and a couple co-workers aware of what was going on.  I continued to work as usual, still pulling machines, pushing stretchers, and still positioning patients twice the size of my five-foot-nothing self.  I’m not an athletic, skinny person, but I am tiny nonetheless.  All this physical labor on my small frame was not doing my paining back any favors.  Well, the injury occured on Tuesday and by Thursday I was in agony.  The pain got so bad at one point I felt myself getting sweaty, weak, and nauseated.  I somehow managed to finish the case we were working on, but once we finished I had to immediately excuse myself to the bathroom, where I got sick and promptly passed out smacking my head on the sink…leaving a lovely knot and bruise as evidence.  I had to leave work early because the rest of the day I was completely worthless.  I slept most of the day.  My boss asked me if I was coming to work Friday, and knowing we were swamped that day, I said I would.  If I had declined, she would have been very gracious about it, but my naturally guilty spirit and helpless need to do whatever I can whenever I can to help people in need, I just couldn’t turn her down.  So I went to work with the stipulation that I was leaving early.  I would finish my cases, help get cleaned up, then I was leaving.  My parents were picking me up and we were leaving straight for Dallas.  I slept most of that ride and that’s when the trouble started.

When we arrived, the pain in my back and leg was almost unbearable.  It was all I could do to haul myself up the spiral staircase to the second floor where my bedroom is at my aunts house.  I ended up going to bed very early but barely slept a wink.  No matter what I did, I could not get comfortable.  No position helped.  I was in agony.  The pain and the worry kept me up most of the night.  I finally did doze off around 5 a.m. but was awake by 7 a.m.  When I woke up I knew it was bad.  I couldn’t feel the back of my left leg and the bottom of my left foot.  Totally numb.  My back felt like someone had a knife stuck in it, a hot knife, which they were slowly twisting causing me as much pain as possible.  I finally got myself up and went to the restroom and discovered it was virtually impossible for me to use the bathroom.  I couldn’t go! I know that is too much information but it is to be explained soon.  I then hobbled myself into my parents’ room and told them I had to be seen by a doctor.  Something was wrong and I had the instinct and very bad feeling that something was really, really wrong.

Dad got himself ready…I did nothing but comb my hair and brush my teeth.  I didn’t have the energy or strength to even bathe myself.  Something that is absolutely unheard of for me.  I DO NOT leave the house unbathed or without at least a little makeup.  Not today.  I didn’t give a dang how I looked, I just wanted to feel better.  My parents knew it was serious when I insisted on going to the doctor, knowing I avoid that at all costs, regardless of the consequences to myself.  Here in Dallas they have these lovely institutions.  They are Emergency Rooms, ERs…or A&E whatever you call them in Europe…but they are free-standing.  Not attached to a hospital, virutally eliminating the ungodly wait times and all the riff-raff that comes through. I was there by 8 a.m. filling out paperwork.  I was in a room by 8:15.  Seen by a doctor by 8:30, who immediately ordered an X-Ray.  I was then brought back to my room where I waited for a good thirty minutes, nervous as a cat.  I was not looking forward to the doctor’s report.

The doctor returned and the look on his face said it all.  I knew it was bad.  He told me “I’m not going to mince words with you. I know you are a nurse, and I’m going to give it to you straight.  Your lumbar spine is destroyed.  Every disc you have in your lumbar spine is damaged.  Bulging out from between the vertebrae putting pressure on your nerves.  There is one of particular concern which is nearly flattening the nerve.  Only having an X-Ray machine I can’t see for sure, but I believe it is herniated and the disc contents are damaging the nerve.  That is what is causing the numbness, difficulty walking, and difficulty using the restroom.  I’m going to send you over to Parkland and have you meet with a neurosurgeon there today…”  My eyes must have been as big as saucers.  “Whoa there, whoa…I don’t live here Doctor. I’m from Little Rock.  I really would prefer to be at home when I have this seen about.” I replied.  “Oh, I didn’t realize you weren’t local.  Well you ABSOLUTELY cannot work right now.  I’m going to give you a note explaining this to give your employer.  I don’t want you moving anything, touching patients…I don’t want you so much as bending over.  Get someone else to pick things up for you if you drop it.”  I just sat staring at him, shock obviously showing in my face.  I knew it would be bad news, but I had no idea how bad.  He continued, “I can’t recommend any surgeons in Little Rock as I don’t know any, but I want you to get in to see one as soon as possible.  If your insurance requires it, just call here and I will fax them a referral when you find the one you want.  Do not delay, the longer you let this go the more damage will occur.  Right now, if you get this taken care of quickly, you have a very good chance of the nerve damage repairing nicely…probably not completely, but enough to where it won’t cause you much trouble.  But if you let this go, Brittany, you could permanently lose the feeling in your leg and your continence.”  Dear God.  I sat there in awe at what he was telling me.

“I’m no neurosurgeon, I’m an emergency doctor.  There is always the hope that maybe you can find a good surgeon who will know a way around it and you won’t need an operation.  Perhaps the disc is just badly bulging and not herniated and you can have therapy and things like that to avoid it.  Again, though, I’m going to be straight with you.  You may avoid it now, but if you continue your nursing career, caring for patients in a way that requires any physical strain on your part, you are only delaying the inevitable.  You will need surgery eventually, and the longer you wait and the worse it gets, you are facing a spinal fusion…you do not want that. And you may still need that in the future.  It is just so sad that one so young as you is facing this.  I don’t want to, but I feel it is my responsibility to be blunt with you, knowing your knowledge of medicine.  I don’t know how else to say it other than your career as a patient care nurse is over.  You are going to have to find something else to do with your life.  You’re young, and there are many other jobs in the medical profession you would be great at.  Granted most nurses are not interested in those jobs at your age, because you become nurses to help people.  To interact and have that hands-on experience.  I hate to break the news to you that you are going to lose that so soon.  The truth is the truth though.  And I don’t want to see someone like you, with so many years ahead of you and so much intelligence and so much to offer, ruin your life by ignoring this advice. I’m so very, very sorry.”  I sat there for a moment, staring past him at the wall, the burst into tears.  My body heaved with sobs.  I felt like the very life had been sucked out of me.  In one visit to the ER, my whole life had changed.  I cried mercilessly, unable to stop.  The poor doctor, as kind as he was, was clueless on how to comfort me.  All the nurses were men, the other doctors were men, there were no women or men available who knew how to deal with a severely upset person sobbing like a child in the exam room.  He kept telling me how sorry he was, patting my back, offering me tissues, looking totally helpless.  I finally managed to pull myself together.  I stopped sobbing, just sitting there sniffing and heaving, finally able to talk, though stuttering through my stifled tears.

So there it is.  My days as a registered nurse in the operating room are over.  I am out of work.  I am not fired from my job or anything, not yet anyway.  I will be leaving Dallas tomorrow and Monday will be meeting with my boss, and hopefully, the CEO of the clinic to discuss my future with the company–if there is a future there for me.  I have worked very, very hard making myself indispensable to my boss, showing my other skills beyond those of nursing.  My secretarial skills, typing skills, and computer skills.  I am hoping SOMEHOW these will be enough to find a place for me in our clinic office, something to temporarily support me where I don’t have to leave the company and while I’m able to decide what I am going to do with the rest of my life.  After talking with my family, I have made a tentative decision that rides on my ability to find non-physical work to sustain me while I carry out the plan.  I will probably have to go on disability, meaning I can work but can only make a certain amount per week, while being supplemented by the disability funds.  I am confident I would be able to obtain a grant or scholarship to take college courses, or even possibly online college courses, to complete another degree.  Something totally different.  I have decided to leave nursing entirely.  I love being a nurse, but if I can’t work one-on-one with patients I will spend the remainder of my working days depressed at sitting behind a desk working on patient cases without ever seeing the patient I am working with.  I have decided I will try to obtain a second degree, this time using my more artistic side.  I have narrowed it down to three choices.  Three things I do very,very often on my own time…on the side of my nursing job, honing my skills because I enjoy it so much.  I would like to earn a degree in either photography, graphic design, or English literature and writing.  The only other things I am passionate about besides nursing…with the exception of reading and learning about fascinating people and educating myself in all things Old Hollywood.  I doubt I could make a living doing those things though!

So that is where my life stands now.  A tentative plan riding very heavily on the unknown.  It feels better to have some kind of plan, but at the same time my stomach is in knots with the worry about what I will do if any one of these elements falls through.  I know with the help of God and my family, I will get through this seemingly insurmountable obstacle thrown my way.  I’m nothing if not persistent!  In the words of Martha Long, “life can be a bowl of cherries!” I just have to get out there, take a risk and make it happen.  At the suggestion of my aunt I may possibly move to Dallas, Texas to start my new life and career.  There are infinitely more possibilities for me in Dallas than there are in Little Rock.  Although my mom and dad were not keen on the idea of their little (29 year old!) girl moving away from them, they eventually agreed my aunt was right.  She has offered me a place to live with her until I find a place of my own and get on my feet.  The timing of this big move is still up in the air, though.

That may have been way more information than any of my readers cared to read, but it is weighing so heavily on my heart that if I didn’t get it down in writing I may very well have lost my mind.  I had to write it down.  Get it all out.  Have a means of coming back to read it and see what I have decided to do.  I have a plan–unstable, yet doable.  I will make it.  And who knows, I may look back on this and see this horrible occurrence as simply a blessing in disguise.

To my faithful readers, my family, and my dear and wonderful friends who are so good to me in my seemingly many times of need, you have my undying gratitude.  Thanks for offering your kind words, your advice, and your shoulders to cry on.  Without you all I would not be able to face this.  My love to you all.