Letting Go.

I have owned this wallet since 1999.

It’s traveled all over the United States. It’s lived in New York, New Jersey, California, D.C. and Maryland. It’s gone to Disney World dozens of times. It’s been all throughout Canada. It’s been chewed up by a dog. It’s been caught in the rain. It’s seen the inside of hundreds of pockets, restaurants, bars and stores. It’s been lost on many occasions, but never forever.

It even flew to Turks and Caicos before Turks and Caicos was a thing, before all the light pollution so it got to see the Milky Way.

Toby calls this wallet The George Constanza. He finds it sad. One time, in 2015, he bought me a new wallet for my birthday. It was super fancy, green and kept my cards all organized, in a beautiful array of tiered goodness. And so I retired the black wallet. I even threw it out that day only to dig it out of the trashcan hours later, wiping off coffee grounds and scraps of food. I placed it in my top drawer and covered it up with soft things.

I used the green wallet for months. And then one day, for no reason whatsoever, Murray, my cat, peed on it. I couldn’t get the smell out so I had to toss it.

This wallet came back out again.

Over the years, many people have asked me about it. “Why is that thing so beat up? Why don’t you get a new wallet?” Most of the time I just shrug it off.

One time a store clerk said, “That thing has seen better days.”
Indeed it has.

But given the time, and if a person seems up for it, I would say the following:

I purchased this wallet at a J. Crew. And that J. Crew once sat in the basement of the World Trade Center, at a time where everything seemed new and fresh and awesome, ripe with possibilities. I was young and in love and still a touch naive. This wallet came into my life before That Event and now This Event, before life became complicated and also a touch scary. Back when the only thing I had to manage was mending my own broken heart, and not in charge of keeping three others beating.

(And you can’t tell me it’s not been durable, all these 21 years later.)
Being so attached to this wallet, it doesn’t make much sense. It’s endearing at best, psychologically telling at worst.

But it’s mine. And every time I consider throwing it away, I become deeply emotional, like I’m letting go of something, someplace, someone I won’t and can’t ever get back to.

Tethered.

Maybe it represents hope.

Or maybe I just never got to say goodbye.

Maybe I never want to.

Our Year In Review. (Enormous Brain Dump.)

Last summer, we sold our home in Maplewood, New Jersey because our annual property taxes shot up to $42,000 one month after we moved in. We bought the home in 2016. Maplewood was reassessing every home in the area and decided ours was worth a lot more than it had been before. Though it was in excellent shape, the only update that had been done on it for decades had been done to the roof. We were shocked, but at the time, we still had what was known as the SALT deduction, which is where a home owner is able to deduct their property taxes from their overall income. (Let’s say you’re making $200,000 a year, and you’re paying $20,000 in property taxes. You were able to deduct that amount from your overall income, so your taxable income becomes $180,000 instead of $200,000. It worked out, though I admit that it’s a weird practice overall.)

Two months after we moved in, Trump won the election. Shortly after that, he announced he’d be removing the SALT deduction, capping the property tax write off to $10,000. There are very few areas where property taxes are higher than that and those areas are predominantly blue and voted overwhelmingly against him. He knew exactly what he was doing. He sent a very loud, aggressive and, frankly, cruel message to all the counties who had relied on that deduction for so long. We were livid. Everyone was.

Within four months of moving into our home, we went from relying on one take-home amount, to a substantially lower one.

We also overpaid for the home. We did that because we loved it and truly believed we’d be there forever. We were also naive and believed our agent was giving us solid advice.  But in retrospect, I would have done things differently—much differently. 

Ultimately, it came down to this: we absolutely loved the house. I still love that house. To this day, I rue the loss.

We had no idea 2016 would turn out the way it did and decisions were made both by us and the federal government that turned our forever home into one we’d have to leave. And not only would we have to leave, but given the taxes were raised so very high AND we lost the SALT dedication, we would have to sell it at a loss. After all, what person would want to adopt a home with $42,000 in property taxes? We certainly would not have purchased it with that price tag.

So we sold it. At a pretty substantial loss—both financially and emotionally.

The actual sale was also very difficult for us. The buyers were a well-off, young couple, newly pregnant with their first child. (Buying a six bedroom home.) They went back and forth and came and went to see it on many occasions, forcing the five of us and the dog to leave for however long they needed. They even showed up once without asking, simply walked right on in. Toby was on a call and the dog went ballistic. This couple was confusing from the start. We were never sure if they were actually going to go through with it, especially given they had been looking to buy a home for two years.

It also didn’t help that THREE of the people involved with purchasing the home were real estate agents, specializing in areas like Summit and Short Hills. The young woman, her mother and her mother-in-law were all real estate agents. We were outnumbered. They knew exactly what they were doing and never once let up trying to nickel and dime us beyond their already low accepted offer. But here we were, in contract, but with a clear out should they want it, three short weeks of the proposed closing date and we had yet to find a home to rent or buy elsewhere because we were unsure if they were going to go through with it.

We often wondered if they were flakey, privileged beyond all comprehension, cheap as hell, or just downright cruel. Maybe they are all of the above. I’ll never know. I never met them. I never want to.

A few weeks before the closing date, we took our chances and drove down to DC to look at apartments. While there, a double homicide took place on our street back in Maplewood. I woke up in a hotel room to text messages from Maplewood friends asking if we were all ok. I was confused. And not yet awake. I was told that police had the entire street shut off and rumor was the killer was still at large. A woman had been found outside on the street bleeding. She would later die. It was tragic. And the story would unfold while we were miles away from our home in Maplewood. Our quaint, little street became the center of a national news story. And that got us thinking: would this seemingly flakey couple back out of the sale? We polled friends and family asking them if such a thing would scare them off. Many said yes. (If I were to be honest, I might back out as well.)

We decided against signing a lease that weekend, opting to wait until we heard back from the buyers. A week went by. No word. Would we actually close?

Finally, they sent a letter saying how sorry they were for what had happened and their condolences if we knew the family.

Things were back on.

I called a moving company, booked a date and we started looking for a place to live.

About two weeks before we were to close and move, we got an email from their lawyer requesting another $2,000 to repair the ice maker in the refrigerator. We’d already agreed to a pretty substantial amount to repair a part of the slate roof and gutters, so Toby and I said no. We told our lawyer we were at an impasse and to kill the deal. We had had it. They had reached the end of our generosity.

We were staying.

Two days went by, the exact amount of legal time given between their needed response before the contract expired. They did this every single time. Maybe it’s a real estate agent thing to do? I don’t know. But they backed us into such a deep corner that when they finally wrote saying, “Ok, fine. We won’t ask for that 2,000 bucks after all.” we had less than two weeks to get out of our home (with three kids, a cat and a dog) and go find a rental.

We found a place in Bethesda, sight unseen. No yard at all. Three bedrooms and a finished basement, around 1500 square feet, not ideal, but it was in an excellent school district in a nice area, less than a mile from my brother. We’d make it work. It was a rental, after all. Not forever.

Somehow we managed to get everything out in time. That wasn’t easy. They bitched about a fridge in the basement. We had to find someone to remove it. They bitched about the paint left over, labeled cans for each room should they need to patch anything or buy more, something I thought was pretty standard practice. We had to have that removed as well. They bitched about the Bagster in the front yard, something we paid for to get rid of any leftover crap we didn’t need or couldn’t fit. The Bagster truck was scheduled to come on the day of closing, but that wasn’t good enough, so they wanted to hold $10,000 money in an Escrow account until the truck showed up. Every little thing was a headache.

I have so much residual anger leftover from our experience and toward some of the people involved. A seed was planted way back in 2016, but in 2019, it sprouted and moved all throughout my head. By that time, the anger and resentment started to take over. It was far from healthy. Sure, we no longer had the overhead of $42,000 in property taxes on top of our mortgage, but we had to sell our home. I could overcome the financial loss—in the end, it’s just money—but for some reason, I simply could not let go of the personal one.

After we moved here, I began seeing a therapist to try and wrestle that anger to the ground. I began learning coping mechanisms, ways to try and let all of that anger go. I began to work on a new life, try and love where the now would one day lead us.

The kids started school four days after we moved in. I was pretty excited. For the first time in 12 years, I would have days to myself—entire days! I planned on going to the gym. I looked into taking guitar lessons. I signed up for cycling classes. I would see movies. I would do things for myself. I would go to cafes. I would look for a job. Entire days would be mine again. I wasn’t sure what I would do with all that time.

Emory also immediately perked up. He loved his new middle school. The teachers were awesome. He reported back to us on how happy he was. He hadn’t loved his middle school in Maplewood, quite the opposite.

Walter started kindergarten and Elliot the third grade. Elliot had a rough time adjusting, but Walter dove right in. He was meant for kindergarten. He too loved his new school. But Elliot wanted to move back to Maplewood and cried nearly every day asking why we had done this to him. Sometimes I would wake up to hear him weeping in his sleep. It damn near broke my heart to see my child so deeply upset. We talked to his teachers and took him to see a therapist. He saw the school therapist as well. We even tried to justify sending him to a private school, one with a smaller class size so he could adjust better. We couldn’t afford that.

So, I made him a deal: I promised him that come February, right after the first semester ended, we’d talk about how he was adjusting and would consider moving back if everyone decided that is what they wanted. That worked. Elliot, more than my other two children, likes to have control over any given situation. This gave him that control. He calmed down a bit.

February arrived and by then he’d made some friends, one close one. He started getting invited to birthday parties, and staying after school to play soccer on the hill. Things were looking up.

On February 29th (leap year!), we threw Elliot a birthday party at a pottery studio in downtown Bethesda. His friends showed up, a meticulously curated few, and he had a good time. Even I had made a friend, one I adore. (An infectious disease doctor, isn’t that funny? It is so funny. Admit it!)

Yes, our house was on the small side for five people, and we mourned the loss of our once sprawling backyard back in Maplewood, but we loved the bowling alley, the mall and the local movie theater. Plus, the food here is amazing. Things were OK. We could manage.

And then.

March 16th.

Everyone was forced to stay home. We had to give up the basement to allow for Toby to work from home. He’d started a new job that requires nonstop calls. All three kids were required to have online zoom classes at different times of the day. Juggling computers and trying to figure out where to put everyone so Toby wasn’t interrupted was like spinning plates during an earthquake. Inevitably one would come crashing down and interrupt one of Toby’s calls. When the kids would get stir crazy, I would try and take them outside to run around the block with the dog. Our lack of yard space was growing increasingly more problematic. There was nowhere to put everyone. The walls were closing in.

The rock climbing gym shutdown. The YMCA. The bowling alley. The movie theater. ALL the playgrounds. Everything we’d come to love about living here shut down. My kids had the rug ripped out from under them twice in 7 months.

I go back and forth every single day wondering what life would be like had we stayed in Maplewood. Would we have a pandemic pod? Would my kids have friends to play with? Would they be healthier with a yard to run around in, trees to climb? Would I be happier being nearby to friends I’ve known for years? Did we make a terrible mistake? More importantly, in hindsight, given the chance to go back in time, knowing what I know now about 2020: would I have moved out of New Jersey?

Nope.

I’m having a rough time these days. Rougher today than yesterday as our school district announced there would be no in-person education until January 29th, 2021. And I’ll bet the amount we lost in the sale of our home that they won’t be going back then either.

I know I’m not alone. I also know that far more people have it so much harder than we do. We are lucky when it comes down to it. For now, we have a job and income. We have a roof over our head and we’re healthy. I have three amazing kids and a dog and a cat that make me smile on the hour. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that I wish all of this were happening in a place I know better, among friends I’ve known for years; a place where my kids could arrange play dates with the families that actually know us.

Sometimes I think that with every move a person’s life splinters into alternate universes, a bunch of parallel existences that manifest themselves as “what ifs”. On one level of our existence, we’re living at our yellow house back in Maplewood. We have a yard and the kids are often filthy from their trashcan water wars. They have a driveway where they can ride bikes and shoot hoops. We have room for one of those crazy above ground pools everyone seems to be buying. That alternate existence brings me a great deal of calm. The one we’re living in right now, the one I’m currently writing from, isn’t what we signed up for. We’re bursting at the seams, seams that were barely starting to come together when everything around us started to fall apart.

But that’s life, I suppose, at least it’s this one.

I just wish I could silence all of the other what-ifs.

Day Four. Post-Surgery.

I haven’t updated as much as I thought I might simply there’s not much in the way to update. I’m feeling pretty OK. OK enough to walk around the block with the kids. OK enough to not take any pain meds except for those couple of times right before bed. I have to sleep on my back. I’m usually a side sleeper. And the irony is, my back hurts now because I can’t sleep the way I normally do. So, sleeping is when I feel more pain. And so I have taken one pill every night. (Incidentally, the dose is four per day, which is INSANE. I can’t fathom taking that many of these things. I’d be zombie, a constipated zombie.) But I also don’t want to come to rely on any pain medication to go to sleep. So, I plan on stopping that tonight.

So, yeah. I feel OK. I won’t be running any time soon and the idea of a single sit-up sounds like pure torture, but I am doing OK.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t feel comfortable lifting anything over five pounds, and was told not to anyway. I walk very slowly. When going up and down the stairs I hold the railing and I take it easy. I have showered daily and that’s been… interesting. I don’t have much in the way of feeling on my torso right now, except for right underneath each breast which itches like crazy. I think it’s from the tape they put down to protect the stitches, which will eventually dissolve.

But holy Jesus. I’m itchy. And I have to refrain from scratching myself, like a dog or cat. I need a cone of shame.

I can’t wash my hair because I can’t lift my arms over my head in any meaningful way. (I am able to put my hair in a ponytail, so that’s my look these days; I rock the greasy ponytail full-time.) I can’t put on any over-the-head t-shirts, so I’m currently switching between a single zipper down sweatshirt and a button down pajama top. Toby runs the laundry every morning so I don’t end up smelling. Greasy head and dirty clothing? I have to draw the line somewhere.

There’s still substantial nerve damage from the work they did on my torso. I was warned about that. It also happened during the last two of my pregnancies, actually, though I had forgotten as much until the sensation returned. The right and left side of my tummy became numb when I was hugely pregnant. At the time, I hadn’t given it much thought, but now that I know it’s from nerves being temporarily severed, it makes sense.

I’m also SUPER black and blue. If I could move some of the color technique from my belly to my eyelids, I’d have a beautiful shaded look, one I’ve never been good enough to pull of. It almost looks fake, as though someone working makeup on a blockbuster about a boxer got a hold of me.

Also, sadly, for my boys, the leaking never really took place, nor did the skin farts. Instead, I peed nonstop, like every 15 minutes for two days. So Toby and I guessed the the fluid came out that way and not via the holes in my skin. (Which also happened post-pregnancy.)  So, no humiliation there. And at one point I felt like a failure. Why couldn’t I do that part of the recovery right? The fun part for everyone else.

“Come quick! Mom’s skin is farting!”

Nope.

A LOT of this recovery has reminded me of being pregnant, come to think of it, both during each pregnancy and those few months postpartum. My boobs hurt. My stomach feels numb and beat-up. I’m itchy. I have trouble finding a comfortable way in which to sleep, and I often wake up with parts of my body hurting or numb. There’s a constant threat of leaking. I smell strange. I stopped washing my hair, because who gives a shit. I walk slowly and as though I might fall over at any moment. I get tired easily. And I feel like nesting all the time, sitting in front of the TV and bingeing on junk food.

So, I guess I sorta prepared for this in some way. It doesn’t feel like my first merry-go-round. The difference is, this time there be no (baby sized) diapers or a string of long nights having to wake up next to a screaming baby.

So, I’m doing OK.

My Boobs, a Confession and WAY TMI.

It’s Tuesday. Day two, post-op. I am sore, but overall I feel pretty OK. Granted, there are probably still some narcotics left in my system and I know the lidocaine is still working because I’m numb all over. Or maybe that’s just nerve damage, which is supposed to happen. But I think yesterday went pretty well. So, prepare yourself for WAY WAY TMI.

I arrived at 9:45 AM. I checked in, and was shuffled back to a pre-op room where I was told to strip down, put on a blue gown, a blue hairnet, some booties and a pair of ill-fitting panties. (Yes, I’m opting to call them “panties” as much as I loathe that word because they were indeed very panty-like. I think I would have rather been given some granny-briefs, but I reckon the less material the better. Also, they need access to as much skin as possible. So, panties it is!)

I was given more paperwork. The COVID sheet was slightly terrifying. Basically, I had to sign away my everything, letting them know that I’m choosing to have an elective surgery done during a pandemic. And this is why Toby and I postponed the surgery twice before. It’s been the subject of many intense conversations, about the risks and likelihood of my possibly being exposed to the coronavirus while trying to heal from surgery. I don’t think either one of us were particularly worried about the possibility of exposure during the actual surgery; the team is tested regularly and they have their own surgical center and full-time medical staff (ie. it wasn’t done at a hospital). Plus, PPE seems to work well against the spread. It was the days following the surgery that we worried about. So we chose to postpone the surgery until cases here in Maryland dropped to an all-time low, while tests were being administered at an all-time high. The positivity rate is what we spent a lot of time focusing on. I was also dancing between hoping to get it done BEFORE Montgomery County opens up more (we are behind the rest of Maryland by two weeks due to having experienced higher rates of the virus) but after positivity rates had dropped.

So, I signed and I’m staying inside for the foreseeable future.

Confession time! I went back and forth on whether or not to share this part publicly. It’s deeply personal and I know I’m likely to get some judgement, whether silently or not so silently. But I also think that people are curious about wanting work done. And it’s been, what, 20 years of my oversharing on the internet? Why stop now? Judge away!

Here’s the skinny. Four months ago, when I went in for the consult, the doctor and I discussed the reduction and what my goals were. I wanted a B cup, but would settle for a small C. He felt this was doable. But then I questioned him about what my belly would look like once my boobs were smaller. And that’s when he brought up liposuction. I know. That’s what these cosmetic surgeons are trained to do—up-sell! And the thought of getting liposuction never, ever crossed my mind. In fact, I’d always been adamantly against the idea. I used to be a hippy chick. (I do still wear my patchouli and Birkenstocks with great pride!) I would learn to love my body no matter what became of it. I would be happy with aging and gravity and all that fun stuff. But things change. And people have babies. So people change. And I guess I’ve changed.

The doctor and I talked about post-pregnancy bodies and how often times, no matter how hard a person works at losing weight, stubborn belly flab never goes away. Skin loses its elasticity over time, and, well, then that’s what you’re stuck with. He told me that if I wanted to, since I’d already be under for the reduction, they’d give me a discount on the liposuction should I choose to add that to my order, like it was a side of fries. I told him I would consider it. I asked for two quotes, one with the Lipo and one without, and that I’d get back to him.

Weeks passed. I researched the ever-loving shit out of liposuction, combed through before and after pictures. I even googled “Celebrities and Liposuction” (haha! Dork. But it seems like us common folk don’t share this stuff as much?) I also googled something called J-Plasma aka skin-tightening. It’s incredibly safe and seems to yield satisfying results. And after 3 full-term pregnancies, my belly skin looks like an enormous, fully extended elbow.

The cost difference was nominal, solely because the same anesthesiologist would be utilized and I’d already be undergoing surgery for the reduction. I figured since I’d already be in pain for the reduction, might as well double down. So, after discussing it with Toby and getting over my prejudice, I said, “What the hell? Why not?”

I opted for the reduction, Lipo and J-Plasma. So, recovery is a bit more intense than I had originally planned.

Now that I got that bombshell out of the way, and hopefully not TOO many of you are shaking your heads in judgement of me, I’ll continue.

So, yeah. Yesterday.

The OR nurse walked me through everything I’d experience after the surgery. There would likely be a lot of leaking due to the Lipo. This is incredibly common. And the J-Plasma might cause some bubbling of the belly. She actually called it skin flatulence.

“Wait, like it makes noise? Actual fart sounds?” I asked.

“Yes.” She answered. “Two weeks ago my husband had Lipo done with the J-Plasma and his stomach made sounds.”

“OH MY GOD. I have three little boys. If my belly makes fart sounds, I’m doomed.”

I was scheduled to have two drainage tubes, coming out of each breast, which Toby would have to empty for me. (I did not end up needing either one.) I would not be allowed to lift a damned thing. I was told how to clean myself and to use a specific soap. (Uncented Dove.) She told me to put down a protective sheet on the bed due to the likelihood of leaking and all the belly farting. Thank goodness we hadn’t tossed out the king-sized protective sheet we’d purchased when the boys were little and would often crawl into our bed at night and then inevitably pee all over it. I texted Toby letting him know where to find it and could he please put it on before I got home.

She inserted my IV and left.

Next up, my surgeon popped by and proceeded to draw all over my chest and stomach with a black marker. Measurements were taken in painstaking detail. He drew a circle where my nipples would end up, if all went according to plan. He drew a dress-like pattern all over my chest. Dashed lines here, solid lines there. X marks from my sternum out toward each breast. I was reminded of the guy in Silence of the Lambs with the female body suit. (I know. WTF.) I watched him work his magic and made a mental note about how you can find art in everything. I felt like I was in very capable hands. (I chose him because of his work and stellar reviews. He has done many breast reductions and had the portfolio to back it up. His colleagues, equally as talented, seemed to have more augmentations.)

And then in walked the anesthesiologist.

Now, I am not sure if it’s just been MY experience with anesthesiologists, or if there is indeed something about the people who choose that branch of medicine, but every single anesthesiologist I have ever met seems to be a little bit cuckoo. I mean this in the best possible way. I really do. They have all been slightly off, but in a good way. They almost always had a wicked sense of humor. They often seem to be the most cherished among their fellow staff members. And this doctor did not stray from this generalization. I’d guess she was in late 60s, and unique in every possible way. She had the best laugh. She was clinical when it came to the details of exactly what she would be doing, but when it came to personality and just shootin’ the shit, she was positively goofy. Maybe it’s that an anesthesiologist, above everybody else, literally has a patient’s life in their hands, balancing a delicate chemistry between awake, asleep and, well, death. Perhaps that type of power requires a certain amount of humor? I don’t know. But I appreciate it. And I have yet to meet one I haven’t liked.

We chatted about mundane stuff for a while. (Due to COVID, each OR has to recycle the air several times over, on top of excessive cleaning between every surgery, so we had some time to kill.) She asked me about my life, my kids, my husband. She even asked to see my cake portfolio, which was awesome. And she LOVED my roach cake. And when someone “gets” the roach cake, I know I’m in good company.

And then, just like that, she segued into all the drugs I’d be given. Versed. Dilauded. And eventually Propofol, “The Michael Jackson” drug. A cocktail of drugs that would completely erase hours from my life.

And that was it. I was ready. I walked into the OR, laid down on the table and the next thing I know it’s 4:45 PM and I’m waking up while being informed that they are unable to reach my husband. I tried Toby from my phone. Nothing. It wouldn’t even ring, just dead air. (Later, we’d learn that T-Mobile had a nationwide outage. Go figure. Great timing.) I called my brother and I called my parents. I don’t remember what I said to them, but I apparently called them. Someone finally suggested I text Toby. And somehow that worked.

Next thing I know, I’m being wheeled out to the car and I’m on my way home.

So, yesterday wasn’t terrible pain-wise. But I was so unbelievable nauseated from the anesthesia. That was awful. I had no appetite and could barely stomach water. I probably would have thrown up had I had anything in my system at all. But alas: I had properly fasted. Thankfully, Toby found some Zofran left over from the time down in Disney when we all got sick with the Norovirus. And Zofran made everything better.

I’m still mighty numb and the bruising has already begun. There has been some leakage from the Lipo, but noting too gross or obscene. I was even able to shower. I do believe I am now a proper B-cup, but I’ll know more once the swelling goes down. And it’s going to take 3 to six months for things to really make sense. But my nipples are in the right place, and much, much smaller in diameter. (Long story and if you thought this was already TMI, that’s a whole new ballpark, my friend. Let’s just say this was something I have hated about my breasts since I was old enough to notice how different they were.)

Yesterday evening, the nurse called Toby with some interesting news. Apparently, they found a tumor while performing the reduction. It was removed and sent to the lab for further testing. They are pretty sure it’s benign, but it can’t hurt to test. I’m just glad it’s gone now. Who knows, maybe this reduction had another hidden benefit.

I regret nothing. I’d do the reduction again in a heartbeat. Scars or no scars, this was a great decision. I only wish I’d done it sooner. The Lipo? No clue how I’ll feel about that. But I’m sure to update as time goes on.

(Go easy on me, Internet. Go easy.)

The Last Two Weeks.

For the last two weeks, I have had to give up things I have come to rely on. Things I hadn’t realized how much I enjoyed until the the surgical nurse told me I had to abstain. Things like Advil, which I have been known to pop like Skittles. No Pepto. No Melatonin, (which I tried years ago and never touched again because it gave me horrific nightmares). No flax seeds or oil. No Vitamin E. No chia seeds. No alcohol. But when the nurse got to “no tea” I pushed back a bit.

“I can’t drink tea?”

I love tea. I drink it ALL the time. That was the difficult one. But there are so many herbs in tea, it was best to avoid it.

I was told to stop taking my vitamins since she couldn’t be sure what was in them. I realized later this was likely a ploy to get me to purchase their vitamins for $100, but I am a sucker. And Toby told me it was a scam. And I felt a little stupid for falling for it, but alas. Here we are. So, I have been taking their vitamins, three in the morning, three in the evening, for two weeks. And, I gotta say: my hair and nails look better than they have in years! My vitamins never did that.

So maybe that 100 bucks wasn’t such a bad splurge after all.

I’m so nervous. My surgery is scheduled for 10:45 AM tomorrow. I am to arrive by 9:45. I can’t have anything to eat or drink after midnight tonight. But I was told to drink “as much water as humanly possible” up until that point. (Apparently it makes for seeing one’s veins easier.) I usually go to bed at 10 PM and I’m usually up by 5 AM. So, I’m going to have to push through and stay up as late as possible so I can sleep in as late as possible. I don’t want arrive tomorrow hangry, nervous and faint. Also: how does a middle-aged, perimenopausal woman “drink as much water as humanly possible” until midnight and not then spend all night having to pee? Maybe that’s how I’ll end up sleeping in? I’ll spend all night running to and from the bathroom.

COVID Test: Complete.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I had a COVID test scheduled for noon. This is something every surgery requires at the moment. My surgeon scheduled the appointment a couple of weeks ago.

It was pretty simple. My drive thru appointment was at Suburban Hospital here in Bethesda, Maryland, right outside of D.C. In typical Michele fashion, I showed up early. I was the only one in line. So I drove right up. First, I was stopped by a security guard who asked for my name. He checked his daily list to make sure I was indeed on it. At that point, the cones were moved and I was told to pull ahead where an incredibly sweet nurse asked for my photo ID. She then instructed me to pull up to the next station where three more nurses/medical professionals waited. They all waved at me as she pointed in their direction. Everyone was so damn pleasant. I’m not sure why I was so surprised and grateful for that. I half expected it to me more militant in nature. Not, like, mean, but very impersonal, Kafkaesque. But it wasn’t. Not even remotely.

When I pulled up to the three women who would be taking the actual swab, they reconfirmed my name and made sure the vial and bag they held actually matched up with me. At that point, she handed me a pamphlet of information about COVID and ways to stay healthy. (Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Keep your distance. Basically everything we’ve been told since mid-March.) She then explained exactly how the test would go. I liked that. As someone who wants all the information, this was calming. Basically, she’d go in one nostril, then the other, swirl it for 10 seconds and then it would be over. No problem.

The first swab entered my left nostril and wasn’t a big deal at all. In fact, for a split second I thought, “That’s it? That was nothing!” I readied myself for the right nostril. THAT was a bit more intense. With that swab, she went in there and then in there some more. It just kept going! I shut my eyes and she began to swirl it around and counted to ten, slowly.

Midway through, I guess I made a weird face or a strange sound or something because she calmly told me to breeeaaath. I did and regained my composure.

Then, it was over.

I spent about 30 minutes afterwards that with a slight tickle in an area of my head that has never (and hopefully never will) see the light of day. It felt sorta like when you inhale a little bit of pool water.

The whole experience was easy and quick. No big deal at all.

Results will be sent directly to my surgeon for Monday morning’s 9:45 AM start time.

Still incredibly nervous. I will be updating here daily about recovery, pain, outcome—the works. It makes me feel better, writing. Like a therapy session. :]

I’m Getting a COVID Test Today.

I am getting a coronavirus test at noon. Not because I feel sick; not because I have been in contact with someone who tested positive. I’m getting tested because on Monday I’m having breast reduction surgery, something I have wanted for decades.

I’m nervous as hell, but I think I’m ready.

The surgery has been postponed twice due to the coronavirus. The first time, was because all elective surgeries had been put on hold. The second time was because I didn’t feel comfortable with how things were going here in Montgomery County, Maryland. I could not, in good conscience, potentially take a bed away from a critical patient at a local hospital. Although, I should add that the place I’m having this done has its own surgical center and private team of anesthesiologists. But I worried that should something go wrong, and I needed an ICU, I might take a very much needed bed away from another person.

I was also worried that since my immune system would be compromised by the healing process, and cases were still pretty high here, should I potentially end up getting sick while also recovering, it would be very taxing. So, after discussing this with Toby, we decided to put it on hold.

But things are looking up here in Maryland. So, it’s go time. (Did I mention I’m super nervous?)

I’m not sure why I’m writing about this online. I think it’s because I’m so damn nervous. I’m excited, too! I look forward to the day where I can run three miles and not end up with bloody, burn marks from my running bra. (True story. I even took pictures this past Sunday after taking part in a three mile virtual race.) I look forward to getting this weight off my chest.

I’m currently a D Cup, probably a slight bit larger, actually. I have asked to go down to a large B or a small C. But a B would be ideal. I know that’s a pretty huge leap, but I have always coveted smaller chests. I’m just tired of these things. I want to know what it feels like to run without this constant, heavy annoyance. I dream of that day, frankly.

I will likely update here, even if no one reads blogs anymore. (Ha!) I think it’ll be an interesting way to keep track of how things progress for me on a personal level. How painful will it be? What will the scars look like? Will I regret it? Will I think it’s the best decision I ever made? Will I wish I had done it sooner? I don’t know. But I’m ready to find out.

Conversations With Expiration Dates

I am now having conversations with expiration dates. Several times each week, as I check to see when an item expires, I have thoughts like the following:

“06.15.2020. Maybe we can consume you at a playground, string cheese.”

“07.27.2020. As you meet your demise, aged parmesan, I bet the outdoor pool will be open.”

“10.27.2020. I bet there’s a vaccine by the time you expire, vegetable broth.

“01.21.2021. By the time you’ve met your sell by date, can of black beans, I’ll be eating somewhere surrounded by strangers.”

“08.30.2020. We’ll have booked that vacation to Japan.”

I have no clue if any of these assumptions are true, but they are real thoughts and are taking place more and more frequently. And I’d like to consider this a positive coping mechanism instead of delusional one.

In Quarantine: A Video

A couple of weeks ago, the kids and I decided that this song would be our “Quarantine Song”. We listen to it every night before bed. It’s also included in my running setlist and every time it pops on, I think to myself, “I’m going to pull images from this strange time and put them to this song.”

So, I finally did.