Sundown, Moon Rise

I pray sometimes. To whom? To what? I am unsure. I call it the Universe but maybe it is God, maybe it is some sort of higher power. The Universe and Mother Nature are higher powers in my eyes but the point is I pray sometimes. Does it help me? I can’t honestly say that it does. I think it’s something organized religion imposed upon society to make us sleep better at night and feel better about all of the so-called sins we commit on a daily basis. But that’s just me. In no way is this follow up a judgment upon other people’s beliefs.

I still don’t believe in luck – I really never have. Sure, I use the expressions, “I was lucky” or “You’re so lucky,” but I’ve never believed in coincidences and for someone to be lucky implies such happenstance. There are no accidents in this life – I wish I could say there were because God (or the Universe) knows how much I despise that exhausted expression that, “everything happens for a reason.” Alas, it does and whether we know and/or like the reason is an entirely different story.

Interestingly enough, I just returned from a six-day trip to my hometown of Kansas City where religion and praying and God are everywhere – even the local diner! I have complete respect for people’s beliefs except for when said people try and shove their beliefs down my throat. I love living in a country that is built on an idealistic foundation of diversity and acceptance. These ideals aren’t obviously well received or practiced in all corners of this country but the concept is there and well practiced in many places like the place I call home, Los Angeles, and we have to begin somewhere.

I am grateful for parents who never forced me to attend church but left the choice up to me, a mother who expressed her experiences and aversion with organized religion but never made me feel bad for being curious. I’ve attended Catholic mass on Christmas Eve, fell asleep in the fetal position of a pew at a Midwest, mostly white congregation of a Baptist church, pretended to feel the holy spirit at a Methodist worship service, ran out of a predominantly black Baptist church into the cold, winter night due to an anxiety attack, and been told I’m going to Hell unless I ask Jesus into my heart. This all resulted in the formation of my own spiritual beliefs – beliefs that allow me to feel peace in my soul and resonate on a higher level for me than monotonously singing Christian hymns ever did.

After lying next to death, my spirituality wavered. I began to lose a lot of faith in everything including some lifelong convictions and myself. Thankfully, spirituality is also what picked me up after so much loss, what taught me that the loss and the disappointment are worth it most of the time. My mother used to repeatedly iterate, “the price of love is grief,” and that couldn’t be a truer statement. But, I would much rather love and lose than never love at all. I would much rather experience the grief if it means I get to experience the joy, the butterflies, and the connections. And if all I’m left with are great memories, then it’s worth it.

I still want something of substance to last longer than most things in my life have. That is a sentiment I can only describe as human. I am constantly telling myself, “Life is too short. Go for what you want, Linds. Ask for what you want. Take initiative.” Lives are so full of regrets and while this may be unavoidable, having a life full of chances taken and an abundance of loss is a life well lived and precisely the true story I intend to tell even in my death.

A Righteous Revival

I once laid in bed with death, right next to it – our skins touching, my body’s warmth against its eerie absent-like coolness and my weary head upon its betraying shoulder. I managed to whisper a few nonsensical words to its deaf ears and shed a few tears in its unwelcome and untimely presence. I once vowed my life – the one I’m living right now – for better or for worse, in sickness and in health to another living, breathing human being in the attendance of other living, breathing human beings. I once allowed death to fool me into longing for its bittersweet company but I’m still living that life. I no longer vow it to anyone – not another human being, not even death – only my self.

I just want something to last longer than I, I thought to myself as I stepped into the…

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A Failed System

You have mono,” the doctor at the walk-in clinic told my mother in the fall of 2010. She was then bed-ridden for over a month, lost her appetite, was constantly dizzy and nauseous until one very late night, she collapsed on her living room floor, somehow managing to call her sister who then dialed 9-1-1. My mother unknowingly had walked out of that clinic with multiple brain tumors that were aggressively pressing against her skull, stage four cancer in her lungs and a prognosis of less than a year.

It’s just an ovarian cyst,” the doctors assured my twenty-something friend during a pelvic exam. A month later, that cyst had grown into a tumor the size of a grapefruit; she endured countless chemotherapy treatments, a full hysterectomy and multiple doctor visits and hospital stays. Three years after that tumor was deemed “just a cyst,” she unfortunately passed away.

These are just two exemplary stories, two avoidable and disastrous histories that hit close to home, that perfectly demonstrate why I do not trust or rely on our healthcare providers or the healthcare system as a whole. This is not a bashing of every doctor, clinic or hospital out there, but I’m simply stating that our healthcare system is no better than our government or our justice system. It’s an industry designed around crooked politics and dirty money.

I highly doubt the clinic that misdiagnosed my fifty-five year old mother with mononucleosis, a virus that primarily affects adolescents, is out of business or that it’s being held responsible for such an atrocity. The insurance companies certainly don’t give a shit about our personal reasons for desiring to acquire a tubal ligation. And I wonder just how many women out there walking around with ovarian cysts are actually walking around with fast growing, malignant tumors? I wonder if I might be one of them.

I recently had a pelvic and trans-vaginal ultrasound due to irregular bleeding. The report came back revealing a complex, septated ovarian cystic mass and moderate free fluid in my pelvic area. My doctor then called for a cancer antigen 125, also known as CA 125, blood test. This test is predominantly used on patients who have already been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and are being treated. The test basically tells them if the tumors are responding to the treatment. My blood test came back in the normal range.

I cannot seem to get my primary care doctor or my gynecologist on the fucking phone for two minutes to ask the necessary questions so I have conducted my own research and I am not content with a simple blood test. I have a history of ovarian cancer in my family and did you know that with each passing generation, one’s chances of getting the disease increase? My great-grandmother on my grandfather’s side died of it. Breast cancer also increases one’s chances of getting ovarian cancer – my maternal grandmother has fought and beat it twice. Did you also know that not having had children increases one’s chances of getting ovarian cancer but that tubal ligation has been known to prevent such odds? Yeah, well, the insurance company has yet to authorize my tubal ligation as they “need more information” from my provider as to why I need this surgery. So, when the old, white men on Capitol Hill aren’t dictating what I can and cannot do with my body, the stuffed shirts of corporate America are.

I want a biopsy. I want to be monitored. I want to have monthly pelvic ultrasounds. Are the cysts growing? Are they changing at all? A biopsy is the only true, surefire method of determining the content of these so-called cysts. Unfortunately, getting the opportunity to speak to a so-called professional about all of these concerns is half the battle. Getting the insurance company to authorize a biopsy and routine ultrasounds is an entire other battle and one that is completely out of my control. But I’m gonna fight like hell to make it happen because I refuse to be a misdiagnosed patient brushed to the wayside, a manila folder lost amidst the many flaws of a failed system.

Playing with Fire, I mean Sand

I’ve built countless sandcastles with the sincere intent of using brick and mortar. I’ve sorrowfully watched all of them wash away, feeling like the reverse big, bad wolf – vigilantly huffing and puffing in a desperate attempt to keep them standing, to salvage anything because anything is something. Nothing ever remains no matter how badly I desire it to. Perhaps that is an indirect, subconscious reason why I have an intense, though manageable, fear of water.

Promises are something I’ve completely lost all faith in. I simply don’t believe in them. Maybes, possibilities, you-never-knows, perhaps – those are all concepts, “sandcastle words,” that make so much more sense in my personal existence. I’m even careful not to think too far into the future because even that is a destination in which there is no guarantee of reaching.

Life goes far beyond just being unfair – it’s downright cruel and deceiving. When good things are happening in seeming droves, I have this inherit tendency to automatically expect the rain to come and we all know – when it rains, it pours. Again, with the water.

I’ve become an expert at the art of distraction – that thing that adults do to avoid dwelling on matters that are out of their control or simply to procrastinate things that we don’t wish to take control of in the present moment. Perhaps being an expert at such things isn’t something to boast about but I can’t necessarily label it as a bad thing, either. In fact, I think it’s quite necessary at times. In my life, it’s been synonymous with “rolling with the punches” and “taking it day by day.”

The alternative is to laugh in the face of adversity – not because it’s funny or as some unusual, intimidation tactic but because life is a fucking beach in which I build sandcastles and I’ve been through my personal worst. I’m still standing and I’ll still be standing tomorrow should I be hopefully granted another day on this Earth. Sometimes, laughter is all the energy I have in me these days because with tears come, yet again, water.

If it isn’t obvious at this point, I have a lot on my mind tonight –it’s not just a single thing, person or happening but an entire slew of past, present and possible future occurrences. In addition, and this might not be as obvious, you’ll notice all those “sandcastle words” continue to come up in this post and I’ll bet if you read past posts of mine, you’ll find a plethora of them. There is nothing like laying next to death that will forever embed a sense of urgency into your mind and body and remind you of life’s only certainties.

I’m tired of playing in the sand but I’m afraid I have no choice – at least in this lifetime.

Now, listen to “Sandcastles” by Beyoncé