Month: April 2018

Mercury is in Retrograde.

“Mercury is in retrograde” said the tattoo artist to his assistant as I sat on his chair waiting for him to put permanent ink on part of my body.

What does that even mean?

“It means that for like three weeks weird shit happens that you just can’t explain. Mercury is in retrograde.”

I felt the chills, as the hair stood up on my arms. Mercury is in retrograde, I thought to myself. Could that be the reason I’ve had so many universe moments lately? Because mercury is in retrograde? Isn’t Mercury like not even a planet anymore?

See these weird things have been happening to me lately that I’ve chalked up to be “universe moments”, the strange occurrences I haven’t allowed myself to think could be the workings of a “god” or spiritual being, so I’ve called them “universe moments”.

At first I thought nothing of it when suddenly almost every patient in a months time had been dying on me. I thought it was that weird “people die in threes” phenomenon just maybe on steroids, and somehow it was happening to me.

I’ve been fortunate in my almost two years as an EMT to not have witnessed/experienced much death. I’m considered a white cloud at work, not much crazy follows me. But lately I’ve found myself comforting patients and family members, one after another, as their loved one has been given a shortened life sentence. I figured it was just a weird coincidence. And then this week I lost my first patient.

It wasn’t what I was used to, me taking family members and their loved one home so they could pass in the comfort of their own peace, (I feel a special honor when I get the privilege of doing this. Even though it’s been an overwhelming amount of these calls lately, I still find pride in getting to help these families home.)

But instead of hugging loved ones and wishing them well, sending my condolences, this week I walked out of the ER and was left with a feeling I’ve yet to feel before. In fact I’m not sure I even know how to describe the feeling because it’s something I’m certain I have yet to experience. It was a certain frustration at the universe I’ve never known. A certain confusion with the universe I’ve never known. It was a certain feeling of helplessness I’ve never known.

And then I found myself 24 hours later in a car with my best friend discussing my feelings on my day prior. I told her about the “universe moments” I’ve become all too familiar with. And then I told her something I’ve yet to really talk about with anyone up until recently.

I told her about the 41’s and how after my friend passed away five years ago all these people that knew and loved him started to see 41’s appear randomly in their lives. (This was his football number.) It became an odd comfort to them in their daily lives, a reminder he was still around in spirit.

I explained that I have a hard time believing in spiritual things after having gone through his loss. I talked about how I felt silly that I was so angry about having not seen a stupid number, and that how it bothered me that in the 5 years he’s been gone I’ve never seen a sign.

This is something that makes me mad at the universe. How was I supposed to have faith that he, and the patient I lost were somewhere better, when I’ve never seen a sign? And then as I moved my hand to the radio in the car to change the music station there it was- a 41 on the screen. Plain as could be. My jaw dropped and I laughed as I wasn’t exactly sure what emotion I should feel inside. Another “universe moment”.

I changed the subject quickly to avoid having to discuss what had just happened. Out of habit I opened up my email and scrolled through the messages. Amongst what seemed like a million spam emails was one from the paramedic program, informing me I had been accepted into the program. I screamed at the universe in my head. “You have got to be kidding me” I thought.

And then a couple hours later I found myself sitting in a tattoo shop in Cleveland. I picked the one with the most stars. I wanted it to be done in Cleveland so it had the sentimental reasons attached to it, because yes I am that person. I found myself in conversation with my new found tattoo artist Jimmy. We were talking about Mercury in Retrograde. And then he asked the breaking bread questions, what brought us here, what are our plans while here, how did we become friends etc. Jane and I explained we met at work and are EMT’s on an ambulance. Then he opened his mouth and said “I’m a paramedic”. And at that moment I’m pretty sure my mind just exploded.

Mercury is in retrograde? Mercury is in retrograde.

I laugh because not too long ago I saw a meme that said something like “my girl said mercury is in Gatorade”. I thought it was hilarious because I knew it was referring to the phrase Mercury is in Retrograde, but what that meant I really had no clue.

I find myself sitting here, it’s the end of the work week which has left me with a handful of time to digest and process all that has happened lately. To try and understand where my feelings and emotions lie. But all I can really come up with at this point is this: Mercury is in Retrograde. I can’t tell you what that means, or how it’s supposed to make you feel, or if it’s even true. But I’m holding on to that because it’s the closest thing I’ve got at this point, the only thing I can find to explain the unexplainable.

Because at the end of the day, I just don’t know. I don’t have the answers. I don’t know why people die in unexpected tragic ways. I don’t know why we can’t save everyone. I don’t know why some people get luckier than others. I don’t know why we don’t all see the signs. I don’t know. I don’t have the answers. I probably never will.

So for now it’s because Mercury is in Retrograde, and maybe after that it will be because it’s the year of the Stink Bug.

I’ll hold on to the things I can find to explain the things I can’t.

Because the explanations are what keep me going. I need a reason to believe it wasn’t all for nothing.

Because Mercury is in Retrograde, and sometimes life sucks, and sometimes it’s really beautiful. “Weird shit happens”.

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Thriving.

She dropped everything and agreed without even taking a second to think about it. “Of course I’ll go with you” she said when I asked her to join me on the 5 hour road trip to my annual neurology appointment at the Cleveland Clinic.

We’ve only known each other for a year and a half but she was willing to move everything around in her life to be able to show up for the most important thing in my life.

She didn’t know me six years ago before my life got thrown upside down.

She didn’t know me five and a half years ago when my life got thrown upside down.

She didn’t know me five years ago when I had to learn how to put my life back together again.

And she still dropped everything when I asked her to go with me.

But it didn’t come as a surprise because that’s who Jane is. She’s the most loyal friend I’ve ever had in my life. I can count on her for anything- even driving with me (actually most of the way, she did a majority of the driving) to see the man that continues to change my life. And Jane never complained, but Jane never complains about any of my shenanigans, she supports me. She continued to show up through my good and my bad.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while then you know that every year (used to be 2x a year) I make the journey to the Cleveland Clinic for my annual Neurology appointment. You also know that these appointments are the most stressful things that exist in all of my life’s stressful things. I love seeing my Neurologist, but I dread the many potential things that could lead to so many different potential things. It is a trip that fills me with anxiety. My mom had accompanied me to these appointments for the past five years, however with her new job she recently started she was unable to make it. This is when my Jane stepped in.

We made the most out of the 24 hour round trip. Eating our weight in snacks, getting lost like we always do, pretending to be functional adults in a city we are strangers to, eating our weight in Cajun seafood, and then again with ice cream. We even did something monumental and I got the tattoo I had been daydreaming about for years now (more on that later).

And then we woke up, put our big girl panties on, and we headed off to the appointment. We only missed one turn on the way to the hospital, and we soldiered on as if we were pros. In a weird, but oddly comforting way that’s really all there is to say about the appointment. There was no big life changing news. My body is in the best shape it has been since my accident, but it is still not healed. There was no conversation about the future, because I’m not at that point yet. But there also was no conversation about regression in my healing, because that hasn’t happened either. I’m doing great how I am, my body is maintaining “perfect” orthostatics (Dr. M’s words) but we know that is mainly attributed to the medications. And so we won’t change anything. We will keep on keeping on. And that was it.

We parted with a hug and the instructions to make the journey again in a year.

I caught Dr. M a couple times as he examined my physical abilities mention to Jane that what I was doing, walking heel to heel, was nearly impossible for me to do when he first took me in as a patient. Or how when I reported I hadn’t fainted once since he last saw me, mention to her that it was incredible news, as he shook his head telling her how bad of shape I was in back then.

I cringed on the inside as we sat there in his small exam room listening to him recount my past. A majority of it is just a blur to me now. I remember bits and pieces, but for the most part I’ve forced myself to forget the details- they’re too painful.

This trip was the first trip I’ve made to Cleveland in which I haven’t been a wreck. I didn’t stay up all night analyzing all the different potential outcomes. I didn’t cry, I didn’t have an overwhelming life moment, I didn’t worry.

This trip was the first trip I’ve made to Cleveland in which I felt positive about my body’s health. POTS is not who I am anymore, or no longer defines me, it’s just there, it’s on the side. I have merged into the healing stages, my body isn’t fighting anymore to survive, it’s healing. The healing could take a few more years, maybe more, but you know, I’m okay with that.

I’m not merely surviving anymore, I’m thriving.

I have wonderful people in my life, people that will drop anything to support me. I have two great jobs that continue to provide me with learning opportunities, and ways to test my abilities and skills. And as of yesterday I have a seat in the Paramedic program for next fall, the hurdle I’ve been striving towards the last two years. And I have a body that is healing. This friends is far more than merely surviving.