Thursday, November 15, 2007
I've wanted to give an update and since stopping chemo I believe I have the energey now to do so! I am still in nursing school, haha! I won't give up. I've got only until mid December, why give up now? I'm doing home study at the moment, but I will be there for the graduation and I've completed all but 3 assigments to make up for clinical days. I may never work as a nurse, and I am OK with that.
After my last consult with my oncologist, I decided to meet with hospice and I signed on with them. The cancer is not only all throughout my peritoneum, but also in my liver and my lungs. I refuse to have raidation on my lungs because I've not yet seen it work and I have however, seen it cause esophageal contriction amongst other things. So the beast has won, I guess you'd say. I still don't feel 100% content with my decision, but I know that is fear of the unknown and the afterlife, the uncertainty of what is there for me.
I am just now coming to terms with the fact that the lives of the children I've touched throughout my 25 years of life may just be what I was here for. In time, I will accept that, I still struggle with thoughts that there was more for me. I guess time will tell.
So that is where I am at. If you email me, I will give you my phone number to keep in touch. I will still add Cam and Kieran on my blog to post updates should the time come that I'm not able to. As soon as I graduate, you can expect daily posts, if I am able. At this time the plan is to graduate and move to my biological mother's house. I know that causes some controversy, but I feel in my heart it is what is right.
Love to all,
Saturday, November 3, 2007
I've been taken off Gezmar (chemo) temporarily due to my CBC counts. My white blood cell count that in a normal person should be between 5,000-10,000 is 900. My Red blood cell count, which should be between 12-16 is 10 and my platelets which should be between 150,000-450,000 is 48,000. So my oncologist feels (and I agree) that it is too dangerous to proceed until these rise.
My oncologist has also palpated a mass on my liver, which means that is is possible (nothing is for sure) that it has mets to my liver. I am also scheduled for lung testing because I have pain during expiration, which isn't too typical of lung metastasis, but still possible.
My decisions at this time include school and further chemo. If I do in fact have mets to my lungs, I think it may be time to look into hospice care, although my oncologist still wants to fight it, even if mets to the lung, because of my age. But I truly believe in quality vs. quantity and I'd rather have the cancer kill me than the chemo kill me. My tumor markers have doubled within the last month as well.
I wholeheartedly believe that I am here for a reason and sure, I hoped that would be to live a long, healthy and productive life but maybe I am here for other reasons. Maybe I am here to continue to make the difference in the lives of others with cancer, especially children, which is where my heart is.
My other decision is about school. I wanted this so badly. I wanted to become a nurse, even if I died before being able to work as a nurse. I wanted to complete this program. But it may not be in my cards. I am behind many clinical and theory hours at this point. I have been making up my clinical by volunteering at Children's and Hospice and I've been making up some theory buy wrting care plans and case studies, but I still have another full semester after fall. It's something I have to really think about and I guess that probably depends on the possible mets and what prognosis that would be.
If I stop chemo permanently, I want to travel, I want to spend every moment possible with my biological family. I want to do all of those things that most people never take the time to do. I want to hold the hands of dying children more often than I've been able to. I want to do some incredible things before I die, because I want to make a difference before I go. What is life worth if you haven't made a difference?
So as the title of this post states, I have lots to think about and decisions to make. My oncologist has become a friend, and I can't let her make these decisions for me. I need to consider all of the facts and the stats. I need to use my own knowledge to make the best possible decision for me.
So that is where I am at.
I am sorry that this wasn't a happier post.
I will be adding my brother Kieran and my significant other, Cameron, to my blog as an additional poster so that they can post when I am unable or if things change because I do have internet freinds that I care for and would like them to have updates - the good and the bad.
Hugs to all,
Saturday, September 22, 2007
I have decided not to pursue beyond my RN and head towards grad school until I am in remission. I tire easily, and I'm sick most of the time. I do however get to wear these cool animated surgical scrub hats around the hospital. :-)
My relationship with my adoptive family is slowly healing with many ups and downs. The relationship with my biological family continues to grow and is beautiful, all of the time. My mom was here just last weekend and once again, we had a wonderful time.
My relationship with Cameron is growing too. He is here most of the time, we basically "unofficially" live together. He's a big source of support for me, both when I am studying or when I am sick from therapy.
I will get labs done next week and I'll know if I am responding to chemo. I asked my onc. if I could read my chart and I was shocked at much of what I read. I was unaware that they did a restaging of my cancer early on and put me at a stage 4 as opposed to the stage 3 that I was told. I was also shocked to read that palliative care will be "explained" to me if this chemo protocol doesn't work. (As if I need explaining)
Fortunately I felt better after talking to my doctor and she explained that although palliative care is something we may have to look at in some point of the future, writing it now, so soon, is something she needed to do for insurance purposes. Sigh.
I have the will to keep living and I have not yet developed an acceptance of death. I hate crying about the fact that I'm too young to die when I watch children die all the time, when I see Briana looking death in the eye and being so brave. But I truly do not yet feel as though it is my time. There is too much for me to do. Too much I have planned for. Maybe that's selfish, but it's just where I am at. Today.
Friday, August 10, 2007
As I’ve written before, my adoptive parents adopted a healthy infant but now have an adult adopted daughter that is not well. Does that matter as much? Is it less difficult to deal with illness or disease when the child has become an adult and your needs to parent a child have already been fulfilled?
Her comment also made me think of the fact that being adopted alone alters the state of the mental health of a person; doesn’t it? Doesn’t mental health matter as much as physical health? She has not once stopped to think that the act of separation of the mother and child will forever alter the mental state of this baby. Even if this child grows up to be overall emotionally well adjusted, being adopted does come with a price. You forever feel an emptiness that is impossible to overcome, even with reunion. Even when the outward appearance shows a strong sense of positive self-esteem, you forever feel an insecurity of letting someone love you. You forever worry about pleasing those around you, so you sometimes walk on tip toes to avoid upsetting people.
Being adopted doesn’t only change your name or your experiences, it changes who a person is. Our experiences in life shape who we become as members of society. The people who raise us as children guide us into who we become and what we contribute to that society. This changes who we are, or I should say who we were supposed to be. Just pondering who you were supposed to be, would have been, or should have been is an altered mental state; isn’t it? Why would people wonder about their other self? Shouldn’t there only be one self in order to have a truly healthy mental status?
So what if a baby is born 8 lbs, 20 in., with all 10 fingers and 10 toes. Does that guarantee health? What is meant when they say "as long as she is healthy?" Does that just mean that you hope the baby is delivered safely and free from outward medical concerns; a child you can bring home and dress up, show off, take to school and play house with? Does it matter if your child grows up and finds out at age 24 that she has cancer? Does it matter if your child grows up hurting inside while trying to merge the pieces of two different selves? Do either of those matter at all?
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Good life -- for the first time in my life (I think) I am remembering so much of my childhood; from not being allowed out until senior year of high school to hiding in the bathtub so my father would not kiss on me with his whiskey breath; from driving to school with smoke blowing into my face; to my mother yelling at me when I was more than 2 minutes late out of class: trying to find my jacket, backpack and lunchbox in order NOT to get yelled at. I could never win.
I remember being embarrassed when she would go on field trips with me because she would always make a scene; while all other parents had fun, she would have us single file, like robots, not allowing us to stop and see the secenery, which was the point of the field trip.
I remember my dad would sometimes find me in the bathtub and pull me out and give me those kisses anyway. I would remember he would tuck me in and tell me about the birds and the bees and touch my chest while telling me how someday I would grow "breasts." I look back now and I see abuse; though he would never admit to it.
I dreaded either of my parents being or coming home. My mother stayed home and most of the time there she was as I would walk into the house. I recall never, ever, being good enough for her. Nothing I could do was good enough. My grades were perfect, but I was still not good enough. I remember sitting at the dinner table with a home cooked meal sometimes and just wanting to throw it all up, because being there made me feel sick.
Most of all, I remember my father coming home filthy drunk, the smell of his breath still with me. God, how I wanted him away from me. God, how I wished he wouldn't even come home.
A good life. A better home. A loving and married couple. As opposed to what? As opposed to my beautiful mother with a loving step father and gorgeous siblings? Maybe the beginning for them was hard; I know it was. I know they had very little money and the kids' presents on Christmas were even wrapped with re-used wrapping paper for Kieran I hear, so maybe they didn't get the newest craze that I did. But they were loved. They were cherished. Now money isn't even an issue that I can see. Their one bedroom apartment was left for a pretty, and roomy home. The kids are happy. My brother is in college, courtesy of them. They all feel loved and they all ARE loved. They don't have a single complaint about the way they were raised, other than that she was a bit over protective, probably a fear since losing me.
I realize that I hadn't had a good life. This hurts some because I've denied it my whole life, but it also hurts because I don't ever, ever, EVER want to hurt her feelings. I am scared to death to tell her life wasn't a piece of cake. I am scared to death to tell her that adoption was a mistake. That I long for her love like a small child, that I long for her to hold me and love me forever. I am scared to awaken her to what she would never want to hear. At the same tme, I want her to know ME. I want her to know MY life. What I've been through, just the same as I long to hear her story.
Monday, August 6, 2007
I wore my pink
"I'm not contagious, it's just cancer. Give me a hug," and I got so many hugs that I couldn't count. Hugs from children, parents, nurses and doctors. Seeing the kids brings me out of my pity party, which I love being out of. I cannot even imagine what it must be like for small children to endure this. It is so difficult for me; can you imagine small children? Scared of what is happening, not understanding it completely and afraid of the future? I am only 25, but I have experienced "growing up," I have experienced a first love, solid and loving friendships, and a reunion with my mother. These children have experienced at most, losing 2 front teeth and learning to play Nintendo Wii.
When I saw Briana, I felt straight from my heart, that I would give my life for hers. Truly, honestly and completely, I mean that. Briana is the most intelligent, fun-loving, compassionate and beautiful 16 year old I have ever seen. She has so much to offer this world. I would trade my "hopeful" diagnosis for her terminal diagnosis. But life doesn't work that way. Women will survive breast cancer, and some will die. Women will survive ovarian cancer and some will die. Children will beat Ewing's, leukemia and brain tumors and some will die. I can't make sense of why or how or who chooses who will and who won't become a survivor. Although as I told Briana, I admire her greatly. Her strength in the face of this inspires me. To be faced with death, hopeless for recovery, but to give her brilliant thoughts and ideas, to give her hugs and her undeniably heartfelt smile while facing death, is something to be admired. She amazes me. And if there is an after life, if there is truly a God, which I am doubting now, I wish I were Briana; because she is pure, beautiful and innocent. If there are truly gates of Heaven, they would open automatically and carry her into heaven. I am not like that. I have so many faults, so many wrong-doings. Heaven's gates would open very slowly and I'd have to answer to
many things, assuming of course there is a heaven. My faith is still dwindling. More now than ever.
Briana showed me some of her writings and gave me two of them. Last year in English, she wrote a paper about who she would like to be like when she grew up, and ironically it was me. I sobbed then, and I am crying again right now. She would like to be like me. To have such a beautiful and innoncent human being think of me so highly is is the biggest compliment I have ever received. Another paper is about cancer, death and acceptance. I now know that Briana knew she would die at her diagnosis, even though originally it was good. She knew that cancer would succumb her from the start, and she wrote with such grace and beauty about her acceptance of it, and why she thought she was in this world to begin with and to die so young. I will ask her permission to post these, because they touch the heart so very deeply.
When I left her today, I hugged her forever it seems. I was crying in this little girl's arms (aren't I supposed to be the strong one?) Why do these children and teenagers feel such peace and I find myself so sad or angry, or rageful? I look at this beautiful girl with dark brown hair and huge blue eyes, longer than long eyelashes, and a smile that would melt anybody.......and God? Maybe God? will take her from this life? Remove such beauty? Remove such promise? WHY? She gets it; why can't I?
After leaving Briana's I met Cameron at Starbucks (oh, yeah, I did say YES) and he was exactly what I needed. I have felt so much closer to Cameron since my mixed up feelings with my brother. To clarify: and yes, this is embarrassing; I felt as though I was falling in love with Kieran. Just the thought of him, seeing him, his smile, his voice, or even the phone ringing made my tummy get butterflies. We talked about this openly and we found some information regarding this; finding out that is is more normal than we thought. Once we talked, set boundaries and allowed ourselves to feel that love as brother and sister, I have been able to allow myself to love Cameron more. I told Cameron that I loved him. I did not stutter. And I meant it with all my heart. We have had a different relationship since......more open, more meaningful, and of course, planning for our future. Cameron is not just "some guy," it took me a long, long, time to even accept a date. I didn't trust him. It took me a long, long time to even call myself his girlfriend. And it took me, as he would say: "forever to kiss him." I enjoy kissing him now. I enjoy being in his arms. I can see myself beating cancer and retiring in rocking chairs with this man. I was so stupid to ever think about letting him go. Fortunately he is patient!
At Starbucks with a mocha on ice, we just sat there talking. I talked about the kids at Children's, I talked about Briana. I cried. He cried. In public! He told me that he hoped I would fight and fight hard, but if and when I ever decided to give up, he would not oppose my decision. It meant so much to me. He did express that he wanted to be my husband in either scenario and I honestly can imagine laying in bed with him until "death do us part," for the first time since I meant him. He knows me. He knows my heart and he knows my soul. He supports me in my fight, he supports me if I give up. He supports me in my struggle with my adoptive parents, and he supports me with my reunion and all the feelings that comes with. Who gets so lucky? Why me?
I will end this post with a picture of me taken 11 days before my surgery and diagnosis. So much has changed. But I guess the reason I am posting this is to show that ovarian cancer can happen to anybody; young or old. It is mostly associated with the elderly because that is where it is most common. But I'm not elderly. I'm not unusual. Take care of yourself. See your doctor when something isn't right or is unusual for you. Don't take a single moment for granted. Keep in mind, I am very different today. I am 35-40 lbs less, with little to no hair; for those "new friends" I may meet sometime......
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Too sick to get out of bed, but never to sick to stop thinking. My doctor is already talking about a newer procedure if this fails. One in which the chemo will stop going through my veins but rather into the peritoneum. It is supposed to be more concentrated. It is also supposed to make you even more sick and they must lower your body temperature when the procedures are done. While I'm all for trying new things, I'm lost at why we are already talking about if this protocol doesn't work. For the first time since diagnosis, I feel as though my oncologist is losing hope. All along my doctors have told me they would fight until I was cancer free. My last conversation with her left me feeling very alone.
I call my adoptive mother, I call my natural mother, I call Kala and finally I call Kieran, my brother.
I still feel incredibly alone.
I was so angry at her, my adoptive mother, for her lack of compassion and protection. I feel so angry at him, my adoptive father, for being everything a man should not be.
I then began to get angry at Kala because no matter how hard she tries, she simply doesn't give me what I need, my friend. I know that is selfish but it seems we are growing away from one another. My high school best friend; but we are both adults now. She'll get married and have children. She is running around town from place to place in her new business world. We are different people now. No longer two girls, but two women, with two very different paths in life. What is important to her, and used to be to me, is no longer important to me.
I call my natural mother and I can't even talk to her for more than 5 minutes before the anger sets in. I tell her that I'll call another time because I don't want my anger misplaced. I don't want to hurt her. But I was angry at her too.
I call Kieran. I don't really say much and he just listens to me whine and moan about life. He lets me have my pity party and he gives me what we call phone hugs.
I still feel alone.
So I got off the phone and I just covered up with my 6 blankets because I can't seem to regulate my body temperature lately. I cover my head and I cry. I bawl. I know this is completely selfish, but for a few hours I thought of nobody but myself and how terribly alone and scared I felt. I take an oxycodone, then I take another one. I then take my antiemetics, even though while on chemo I suffer from chronic nausea and these don't work for me.
I started to feel hot all over for the first time in a week. I am pulling off my fuzzy blankets. I get palpitations. I get so hot that I go to the shower as fast as I can. I pull off my clothes and get into a cold shower. Now I'm freezing; so I get out. But instantly I feel hot again. My chest hurts; I begin to wonder if I'm having a heart attack. Out of desperation to cool down, I go out onto my patio naked and lay down on the cement, belly down. I take deep breaths and I keep telling myself I will be okay.
I question God. Is there a God? My faith is dwindling to nothing. People tell me he is holding my hand through this but I looked, my hand empty. I'm laying on cement in an attempt to lower my body temp. I look again, yep, no God. Nowhere.
I decide "No more." I give up. I will leave this world in dignity and grace with the help of hospice. I will not let them continue to put this poison into my body. More than likely it is my destiny to die in my 20s. To teach some freaking lesson or something. Maybe I was never meant to survive without her.
A little later, my body comes back to semi-normal and I feel the cold of the cement against my tummy, breasts and my legs. My scar from the hysterectomy always gets cold first and I lift myself up with my arms, then I realize I don't have the strength to do it. So much for dignity and grace. Somehow I manage. It surely wasn't with my arms, but I made it up and I made it back to bed. I'm freezing again now but my blankets were thrown on the floor. My dilemma at this point was do I dare try to get off the bed for the blankets or do I lay there and freeze. I think the oxycodone has kicked in because I'm weaker than usual and weaker than just 5 minutes earlier.
Then I hear my door open. I know it's Cameron. He comes in and instantly can see that I'm in shambles. He grabs my blankets and covers me. I can't say anything at first but he's just holding me. Then I let some of my anger out. I say things such as no more reunion and no more chemo. I tell him that I've lost the fight in me and he holds my hand lightly slipping something into it. The flowers I then realize he put down on the floor after seeing me and in my hand is a ring.
He asks me to marry him. My hands no longer empty
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Oh how I have dreaded thinking of this question. My nose would grow a mile long if I said I hadn't thought of it; but I usually push those thoughts away quickly. You see, most of the time I am an extrovert. I love people, I love thinking; both quietly and out loud. I love to share what is going on in my mind. Sometimes in hopes of helping others; and well, other times just to rid my head of thoughts sitting in there much too long.
But other times I can be the princess of denial. When something hurts too bad, I don't think about it; I don't share it. I try to push it away. Get it as far away from me as possible. But what I am finding out is that you can't push it far enough. You can't push it beyond your own mind/ You can only push it just a little further back. Just far enough so that you don't have to think about it for a while.
Adoption and cancer in my life right now are intertwined. So please keep in mind that some of my posts regarding adoption, most of them really, are affected by the fact that I currently have a diagnosis with a poor prognosis. So while I think of all that I lost with my mother; I am also thinking of all that I may miss in the future. This may taint my answers to some questions so please bear that in mind.
I love my adoptive parents, although I find it immensely difficult to get along with them. I feel quite abandoned by them most of the time. I know that I am 25 years old, a big girl, all grown up; though sometimes I long for that mother that would come here and help me to the bathroom after chemo, mourn with me, help build me up, try to keep me strong, make strawberry cream pie my favorite way. I long for that mother, but the problem is, I've never had her. That mother does not exist.
Instead, my mother is short, abrupt and straight to the point. I can call her and before I even get a word out otherwise she will tell me that she's busy and can't make any plans for the week (to help me out)
Instead I get phone calls complaining about her recent back pain, undiagnosed lower vertebrae issues, or chronic calf pain.
Instead I got told that "If only there were a way to know the future health of a child when you adopt." or "You know that you are now my million dollar child, right?"
Yes, these are just recent things, but I also don't have fond childhood memories. I don't ever remember baking cookies or coming home with dinner ready. I ate what I found in the fridge which was basically a hot pocket, or a TV dinner. Not abuse by any means, I am sure working and busy mothers must do this all the time; but still hardly a fond memory, especially since she didn't work.
I don't remember going to lakes, or camping, or hiking or all the things I love to do now as an adult. I never got to hang out with friends and spent most of the time in my room. My father is an alcoholic in denial but I recall him picking me up from my grandmother's house on the way home, possibly from a bar. Giving me a big kiss wreaking like alochol, which would make me want to throw up. My mother in the passenger seat with the windows up blowing smoke that would come back and hit me in the face. I felt alone in a world I didn't fit into.
I'm not an alcoholic. I never became a smoker. I was different. I had thoughts going in my head constantly. Thoughts that I would write down; to do lists; inventions; stories about my life with different names; so that nobody would ever guess it was me. I recall many times hiding in the bathtub around 10 pm when my dad would come home to avoid his wreaking kisses. I recall sometimes waking up in the bathtub too.
Then I meet my biological mother. It's hard not to look at the inner beauty of this woman and see where I belonged. I talk to her and she can finish my sentences sometimes. Sometimes we don't have to say anything at all and we'll just start laughing. Simply because we both love to laugh and feel free to do so. Being at my mom's house was somewhat a culture shock to me. Culture shock; just being in a different house? There were little messes here and there from the children's art work and craft supplies. There were report cards hung on the fridge. My 4.0 in high school was never even recognized, but here were some Bs and Cs, being hung proudly. Their mother was proud of them, not necessarily for their accomplishments, but for who they were.
There were pictures. A huge picture stand for each child from kindergarten until current. Stunning wooden furniture with their smiling faces, some missing teeth at 5 years old, all the way up to prom, high school gradution for Kieran and Kieran's first picture outside of his dorm, all behind glass, proudly displayed. There on the mantle were the few pictures I'd managed to come up with for her of me. I felt cheated
I also felt guilty because as my adoptive mother says, I am her "million dollar kid." Hence my incredibly ability to push these things to the back of my mind, where I will either deal with them later, or they will fester and I will die with them far from the surface.
I guess my answer to this question is that I'm not ready to completely go there yet. I've went farther in this post than I ever have before and I may publish it, or I may not. I may delete it later.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
But when I was in surgery, my mother was here. Yes, she was here in California. In a hotel getting updates by phone from my brother. She sent me orange daisies and a gift bag full of girlie comfy stuff, like slippers, a nightgown, socks, and bath and body works. No return address, no return name. It was my mother.
She took a risk. I asked her not to come. She did it anyway and stayed in the distance to prevent problems for me. But she was here. Worried about me as any other mother would be. And 3 days after my surgery, she returned home. Quietly. Without a peep. Yes, it tears my heart out. I wish so much I had the b**** to just let her come be with me as a mother would. Let her be there for my path results. Let her hold me and love me, as any mother would. I didn't. I was hard-headed and stubborn. I was scared to hurt my adoptive parents.
On my 1st day post-op, feeling really crappy, hooked up to my morphine pump, I felt this sense of peace. I remember opening my eyes and not seeing anybody. No Cameron, no Kieran, no Kala and no a-parents. But I felt this overwhelming sense that I was being watched over. I felt this overwhelming sense of my mother holding me. And I found out later she was a block away in a hotel.
I love my mother. I love that she took that risk. That should anything have happened to me, she was going to be there - face to face with the two people who claim to hate her. She was going to be there for me, yet respect the fact that I asked her not to be near my a-parents yet.
I'm done hiding her. I'm done pretending I don't feel the things I feel. I have a wonderful boyfriend who stands behind me in all of this, all of my mixed up feelings, all of my craziness, he still loves me. I have a mother who also loves me, through all of the same mixed up feelings. I love my mother. I love that she came when I told her not to. She did the same thing I would have done. She did exactly what I secretly wanted her to do.
Did I say I love my mother?
I try to have faith, and I suppose at some point my faith will come back and I'll fight strong again but I can't help but be discouraged. More than 15,000 people out of 22,000 diagnoses will die this year from ovarian cancer. Will I be one of them? Was my entire life meant to be some sort of example, or some sort of lesson to learn or to teach? What is the lesson; or is there not a lesson and life is just a cruel twist of fate? Did I hurt someone in another life? Even with the children who die, I see a lesson through each of them. I hate that they've suffered and I hate that they died much too early, with each child I've met and lost, there has been a great lesson. But this was just me who learned the lesson, and who am I? No one special of course. If I die, there will only be a handful of people who learn some sort of lesson, if any at all, and what is the point of that?
I'm babbling and rambling and probably not making much sense. I just want more for my life. I have plans for my life and it isn't a stinkin' lesson for someone to learn. But so did Kali, Chey and so does Briana. So does every other person who dies much too soon.
I want to be a nurse. I've worked so hard for this. With the ultimate genorosity of my instructors, I only owe 21 clinical hours for second semester. Will I be able to go back? Can I truly walk around the hospital with my surgical cap (hate wigs) feeling all that pain all over again? Will they even be as cooperative? And then what is the point if in the end I die anyway?
I remember the first time I saw someone with cancer. I was in the grocery store with my adoptive mother and it was a girl of about age 14 or 15. I was about 5. I asked my mom why she didn't have any hair and my mom told me that she probably has cancer. I remember saying that if I ever got cancer I'd never wear a dress when I was bald. LOL. I still don't. I put on my basketball shorts or pants and a cap or something. Kala just bought me a t-shirt that says "I'm not contagious, it's just cancer. Give me a hug." I wore it out today and would you believe I actually got 4 hugs from complete strangers?
As I said, I am rambling. The thoughts in my head aren't in any order so they don't come out here as such either. I just wanted to post an update I guess and express myself the best I can right now. My gyn/onc (I can never say this enough) is the best person in this world. If I survive this, she will be a friend. She fights for me every day and calls me to remind me to keep fighting. Sometimes I feel like I need others to fight for me in order for me to continue my own fight.
I have an update on my biological family coming next.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
My problems with my boyfriend at the moment have me dwelling on those evil 3 letter words. I sit here and wonder how many adoptees have problems with telling people that they love them. I don’t mean the occasionally “love ya” when you’re leaving their presence. I mean the true; “Hey, I really love you.”
Is it just me? Is this a nature or nurture thing? Is it because of the separation from my mother at birth or the fact that I didn’t grow up in a cuddly environment and these words weren’t said too often?
It’s true that I haven’t told Cameron that I love him. Not really anyway. It goes something like this:
Him: “I love you.”
Me: “You know how I feel.”
Him: “No actually I don’t. Can you tell me?
Me: Let’s not get into anything too emotional right now ok? I can’t handle it.
There have been a few people in my life that I’ve been able to say it to freely. Simply and freely, without hesitation: My best friend Kala, My other best friend, Erin, my grandmother, who is deceased now and recently to my natural brother.
I have told my natural mom that I love her, the day my brother was leaving here. I’m not sure what came over me except that I felt extremely grateful to her for accepting me as I am and for producing and nurturing such a kind, compassionate and loving son. But then after I hung up, I found myself wondering if I would be like Kieran had she raised me. I’m not saying that I’m not kind and compassionate, but I have my moments, and stupid people especially bother me. (yes, I know that is so totally not nice to say – see?) The other people that I can truly tell that I love them and mean it whole heartedly are children. I love little people. They are so pure and innocent. Such beautiful human beings. If I could snap my fingers and become anything I wanted to be, besides maybe a true cancer survivor, would be a child. They are carefree, non-judgmental and give their love freely. You don’t have to pay emotionally for it. I love being around children more than I love anything else. Which is really a cruel twist of adoption karma that I can’t have my own children.
Anyway, back to those 3 little words. I think I love Cameron. I mean, I think about him when he’s not around. When I go shopping, I see these little “Cameron items” and I must get them for him. Then I smile thinking about him. When I was sad, I called Cameron. When I was happy, I called Cameron. But he is right, that has changed. I’ve now been calling Kieran. I find the most comfort, a true comfort in his voice. After talking to him, I feel like things will be okay. Is that wrong? Are my priorities off? Why can’t I know for sure if I love Cameron? I can’t just say it if I don’t mean it either, right?
I can’t tell my adoptive mother that I love her. I just can’t. Unlike the Cameron situation, I feel deep in my heart that I love my adoptive mother. Yet, I can’t tell her. The words sound ridiculous in my head
when I even think about it. Here is how that usually goes:
Her: “Well you take care. You know I love you.”
Me: Me too mom, thanks.
And my dad – It usually goes something like this:
Him: I love you sweetie
Me: Thanks dad , I’ll talk to you later.
Seriously, what the heck is wrong with me? Did I grow up without enough love that I subconsciously don’t realize? Is it adoption/separation related? It’s never bothered me before until now that it is threatening my relationship with my boyfriend.
Cameron is really hot. He’s super sweet. He opens the door for women and pulls out their chairs (even strangers in restaurants) He is very intelligent, specifically scientifically. He has a bright future ahead of him. And this guy loves me! But I can’t say it to him. Maybe it’s because I think I’m not good enough for him? Is it because I feel useless as a woman (no female repro parts, and getting ready to lose m y hair again.) Maybe it’s because I don’t think he deserves to deal with a 25 year old girlfriend/wife who is in surgical menopause and wakes up with the bed entirely wet, sometimes even screaming? Maybe it’s because in my heart I am beginning to doubt that I will survive this evil ovarian cancer and he doesn’t deserve to have that type of pain? Or maybe I am afraid he will leave me like my mother did? Maybe it’s a combination of all of these things?
Sunday, July 1, 2007
On another note; I received this email from my boyfriend (I will only invade his privacy to those who know my boyfriend and read my blog, but they are my good friends and already know anyway.)
I missed u yesterday but I know u weren’t feeling good. It’s times like that tho when I want to be with the woman that I love. I love you. That is easy for me to understand and to say, but you’ve never said those three words. Is it hard to say? Or do they just not exist.
Yes I was jealous of Kieran. He spent more time with you then I did. I felt like an outsider looking in. I wanted to hold u and take care of you, but that was impossible because he was always at your side. As your boyfriend I thought that was my job. You talk about Kieran as if you are in love with him. You call him first whenever anything is happening. As a bystander it appears as tho u two are in love with eachother. Have you been able to tell him those 3 words that u are incapable of saying to me? Nic, I need to know. Do you love me and are scared to say it? Or are you not in love with me?
Cancer is not and has never been an issue for me, other than hating it with a passion. I don’t give a damn that we won’t have kids and I’ve accepted that we won’t adopt either. But I cannot accept being second in line to your brother. I can’t stand by and watch this unnatural love continue to develop. I’m right aren’t I?
You need to tell me how you feel. Scared or not; it’s all on the line now. I need to know if I am wasting my time and killing my heart by the day.
So C thinks that me and my brother are falling in love. I don’t even know how to feel. I do love K. He is the male version of all the good thing of me and my mom. We like the same things. We think the same things. I’d rather be near him than any other person I know. Is that so wrong? Why must people consider it incest? Can’t I be free to love my natural family without losing my boyfriend? Without causing whispers and rumors. Have we crossed boundaries? Have I pushed my relationship with my family too quick and too soon? I have so many questions. I’m confused in so many ways and I feel there is nobody to talk to about it. So I write here.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
I am still working on mine. I’m on # 122. On Monday morning I decided to check my email one last time before I left for pre-op, and I saw her name in my email. That always makes me smile. I get those crazy butterflies in the tummy and then I notice the subject line. “200 Things You Don’t Know About Me.”
I opened the email and there it was. Totally completed and sent to me at 3:00 am, the wee hours of the morning of my surgery. Coincidence? So I printed it out and stuffed it into my hospital bag. While I was waiting for the lab and before I saw my doctor. I was laying there freezing and I asked the nurse to bring me some warm blankets and pull the curtain. I held onto the papers. I was so excited to begin reading it. There in my hands were 200 things I was about to learn about my mother. I should mention that when I was searching for her – I had very little information. These are the only things I knew about her:
1. Brown hair
2. Blue eyes
Then when I found her and we began emailing, I learned a lot about her life and the way she lives it. I learned a lot about my siblings, very few about the time of my conception and birth and some about her likes and dislikes. Our letters to one another quickly turned into chit-chat about daily life and experiences. Then I met her face-to-face and I saw how she lived first hand, but still lacked all those little details that most people know, and take for granted, about their mothers.
Here I was with this paper in hand – wanting desperately to read it but also wanting to savor it. I wouldn’t have traded this paper for gold. I briefly contemplated reading just 10 things a day but I began reading and of course I could not stop. I’ve received a lot of gifts in my life. I got my VW Jetta when I graduated from high school. I got my gold earrings in January from my boyfriend. My grandmother made me my first princess dress that I still cherish today but there is no better gift than the one I received from my mother on Monday. Hands down this was the best gift I’ve ever received in my life.
You live your life as an adoptee always wondering. What does she look like? Who do I look like? Did she hold me? How could she do it? Was it hard to walk away? Did she try to come back? If she could have; would she have? You are so full of questions and there are never any answers. Even after reunion, you’re too afraid to ask. God forbid she look into your eyes with those familiar blue eyes and say “No. She didn’t regret losing you.” So instead, you opt not to ask. The answer could be too painful. So you continue wondering.
I learned so many things about her. I learned about some of her secret dreams. I learned that she likes antique shops, toy stores, wine tasting, what makes her happy, what makes her sad, that she’s quirky like me, how much she loves her children and her husband, what kind of friend she is, her favorite food, and her favorite candy, her favorite book, but most of all, the biggest gift to me was #s 7, 47, 100, 148, 168, and 200. I learned that she loves me, she misses me, she has thought about me every day of my life, she never wanted to give me up, she held me and sang me a song when I was born, and that she wishes everyday that she had kept me.
I read this letter so many times this week and I can’t seem to put it down. To learn 200 things about my mother is a dream come true. Cameron asked me what we’ll find to talk about now. Knowing just 200 things about someone you’re lacking 25 years with is still just an ice breaker. There is so much more to know. I look forward to spending the rest of my life adding to this list.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Surgery is official and it will be on Monday. My tumor markers have doubled and I've got the glows on my scans. My gyn/onc also can palpate a small mass near my bladder so she wants to do a laparotomy; a "second look surgery." My nmom wanted to come and unfortunately I need to call her next and tell her that it's better that she doesn't. I'm so torn about this because I do not want to hurt her in any way whatsoever. I've thought all day long about this and I have to do what I feel will be best in the long run. If my 1st mom comes, my 2nd mom will do or say something that will cause stress and resentment. I can warn her not to until I'm blue in the face; but she will, it's a given. She will then completely deny that she had any ill intentions. I've done this for 25 years, I know the game. I know how it ends.
Additionally, this would be only the second time I've seen her. I'm not ready to go there yet. I can't bring myself to be in this position at our second meeting. There is so much to me, who I am and what I have to offer. I'm so much more than cancer. I want her to continue to know me and care about me without any road blocks like pain, hospitals, crying, whining, IVs, narcotics and prognoses.
These two things combined are the reasons for my decisions + my FREE PASS to do whatever I want to do. :-)
My brother Kieran however, will be coming here. He'll be here tommorow. I think his skin is thicker and he'll handle what my parents throw his way. Maybe he'll even throw back. :)
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Suddenly though it has changed. I dread picking up the phone because I’m afraid it will be the other one. The one who suddenly brings me really down. Really low. She now seems to thrive on bringing me down. I really need to get caller ID.
So this time she’s screeching out something about calling my Aunt Judy. I can’t even grasp what she was trying to say because none of it made much sense. I told her to calm down, that I couldn’t understand her. It turns out that she’s sick or something but I really had no clue what was wrong with her. I hung up the phone promising to call Aunt Judy.
I call Aunt Judy.
She tells me that she was diagnosed with arthritis this morning. I listened to her ramble on about how painful her right knee is and how she’s concerned about the quality of her life from here on out. I console her. I reassure her that everything will be okay. I let her know that I’m here for her. I tell her how sorry I am about this diagnosis and I let her know if she needs anything, she should feel free to call me.
God I hate what is becoming of me. I feel so incredibly selfish that when I hung up the phone I said “I don’t f*king care what happens to you Judy.” I’m insensitive and I feel guilty about it, but I still mean what I said (when the phone hung up)
What bothers me is that Aunt Judy is no different from her. Siblings. Two of a kind. The same person molded into the bodies of two. Precisely why she called me to tell me about Aunt Judy is why I’m so angry with her. Whenever anything is going on with me, she must try to one-up me. Be it positive or negative, it must always be about her. She can’t simply just support me because she can’t stand for anything to be happening in the life of anybody but her. Aunt Judy counts as attention focused on her because like I said, one person, two bodies.
I don’t even want to pick up the phone these days. I want to tell the people that I want to hear from to call only my cell phone, and unplug the house phone and never reconnect it. But then I feel selfish again. Ungrateful for all she does. It’s a crazy cycle. The strange thing is that although I feel guilty for being ungrateful, I continue to feel ungrateful. How do you either: stop being ungrateful or stop feeling guilty for being ungrateful.
So it is a strong possibility that I may be having surgery next week. This morning my 1st mother said that she would like to come here if I have surgery. In part, that sounds incredibly awesome, but of course things can’t be that simple.
#1. I am afraid to be vulnerable near her.
#2. How can I possibly allow these two in the same state let alone in the same hospital?
How do you get to the point where you can allow your 1st mom who shows interest in really being a mom, to do so? Is that a crazy concept? Is that just a pipe dream; or can it really be possible? Still I am so nervous around her. How do I get over that? How and when do we stop feeling as though we’re on a first date with the most incredibly beautiful person in the world?
And, even if she did come. What would the other one do to her and say to her?
It’s giving me a stomach ache just thinking about it.
I have two mothers?
“You have a birth-mother and a love-mother. Your birth-mother loved you enough to give you life and your love-mother loves you enough to love you forever.”
I always wonder what other adoptees thought as children about their adoptions and their natural parents, the scene of when it took place, how it happened and why it happened. I feel really silly writing this but I used to have this big elaborate picture in my mind of thousands and thousands of babies laying in cradles in a hospital, with only a handful of prospective adoptive parents looking into each cradle until they have found the one. The baby that God brought them to rescue. My parents adopting because of infertility didn't even occur to me until I was in my early teens. I remember I once asked them why they didn't adopt any other children and they told me that it was too expensive. I then asked why they didn't give birth to any children and that was the first time I'd realized that there was more to the story of my adoption. God actually didn't really send them to me. God, how naive I was. Pretty embarrassing really.
I wonder how much of this played a role in my original thoughts of finding my first mother. I used to state that I didn't have a need for her in my life. Could it be because I thought that all she gave me was life. Could it be because I imagined that she delivered me and went on to resume her life without looking back? If I knew of the struggle in her decision, if I knew how much love she had for me, if .......would I have felt differently?
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Anyway, that is all I really wanted to say.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Ya know, in the beginning, when I first found my natural mother, somehow I was able to sit through their jabs at her without freaking out. I bit my tongue and made it through each visit home or telephone conversation, with a sore tongue maybe; but no fighting or yelling. However it has progressively become more difficult. I find myself protective over her and I become defensive when they spew out nonsense. The truth is that they know very little, if anything at all, about her. So why is it that they feel they can make all these sometimes petty, sometimes viscous accusations? Why does there need to be a competition? Regardless of what led to my relinquishment 25 years ago; what does all of that matter now? And who are they to decide that they know the facts that they SWORE up and down last year that they did not know? And calling her on these inconsistencies is useless because she turns it around as though I am "cornering her," or "attacking her." Am I absolutely doomed to endure this for the rest of my life?
Cameron sticks up for me. My dad sticks up for her. By the end of dinner, Cameron and I are leaving with me in tears and my mom saying: "I can't believe you Nicole. I can't believe you are doing this to me."
How have I done any of this to her? Hasn't she done this to herself? When will I decide that I cannot take anymore and stop allowing myself to be put through this? And of course when I do decide to stop letting her do this to me, that will be my fault and she will say I am choosing my natural family over my adoptive family.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
I called my adoptive dad and sent him flowers, and I will be there for dinner tonight - the usual routine on Father's Day. Still, I'm thinking of my natural dad and wondering if he's thinking of me today. I have his phone number. I know a lot of things about him thanks to Kieran, who has generously shared all he knows. I''ve seen a lot of pictures of him ... some of the most recent pictures were of him with his 18 year old daughter at her wedding. I was resentful when I was looking at them. Resentful because he gave me up for adoption, because he left my mother and Kieran for the mother of this other daughter and resentful because I could see the love from a father to his daughter in those photographs - a love I have never experienced. I guess it's jealousy. I hate being jealous. It's a very uncomfortable feeling that I was never really used to until reunion. I don't like the way it makes me feel. I would rather not even care. But, I do. Why do I care? Why do I care about a man that I don't even know?
He is aware of our reunion and I have no idea how he feels about it. I half expected that if he cared at all, he would call me and in the beginning, I wondered everytime my phone rang. Apparently he's not planning on doing so. So why do I care? So today I am looking at the phone for the opposite reason. I find myself wondering if I should call him. What would I say? How would he react? Would he even care? And why should I care? He has built a happy home separate from my mother and her family. He wasn't the greatest father to Kieran either; Kieran recalls many, many days in which he waited for his father to pick him up, but most of the time he never showed. Yet, this morning I called Kieran and asked him if he called him for Father's Day. He did.
If I called him, would it hurt my mother? Would she feel betrayed?
If I called him, would he dissapoint me in the same way that he dissapointed my brother? Would he make promises that he wouldn't keep? If he gave me up once; wouldn't it be easier to do it again? I don't want to be hurt. I hate being hurt. Isn't it easier to protect ourselves than to become vulnerable to pain? I don't like all these mixed up feelings. I don't like feeling insecure. I am not used to this. I am not used to any of these feelings I have since reunion.
Maybe I just need to get ready to go to my other dad's house for dinner and be grateful that I have him.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
June 13 -- Ovarian cancer is associated with a specific set of symptoms that should trigger further evaluation by a physician, "preferably a gynecologist," according to a consensus statement released today.
Women should be evaluated if she has the nonspecific symptoms it cited "almost daily for more than a few weeks."
Women with ovarian cancer report that symptoms are persistent and represent a change from normal for their bodies," said the statement. "The frequency and/or number of such symptoms are key factors in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Several studies show that even early stage ovarian cancer can produce these symptoms."
Pelvic or abdominal pain
Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency).
"Prompt medical evaluation may lead to detection at the earliest possible stage of the disease. Early stage diagnosis is associated with an improved diagnosis," according to statement issued by the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation, the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, and the American Cancer Society.
Only 19% of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed at a stage when treatment has the best chance of extending survival beyond five years. According to the American Cancer Society 22,430 new cases of ovarian cancer and 15,280 deaths from ovarian cancer are likely this year in the United States.
The consensus statement also noted that although several other symptoms have been reported by women with ovarian cancer-notably fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation, and menstrual irregularities-those symptoms were judged to be not as useful in identifying ovarian cancer because they are also common among women without ovarian cancer.
The consensus statement was scheduled for release on June 25, but the contents of the statement were revealed in a front page article in today's New York Times.
Sherry Salway Black, executive director of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance one of the groups that has endorsed the consensus statement, credited Barbara Goff, M.D., a University of Washington gynecologist, with much of the research that formed the basis for the statement.
Dr. Goff and Cindy Melancon, a co-founder of the Alliance, conducted a survey of ovarian cancer survivors aimed at pinpointing early symptoms. Those data were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2004.
Black said the medical community has traditionally been dismissive of ovarian cancer patients' reports about symptoms. "We are proud that founders of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance have been the catalyst for changing this thinking," she said.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
These words trigger me greatly. First of all, when I express sadness in my inability to ever bear children, maybe I just want to express myself; maybe I am not looking for your opinion. Yes, I know that I can always adopt. This is something that I am aware of; but maybe I don’t want to adopt. Has that ever occurred to you? Why do you believe that every woman must raise children? Do you know how many people believe that my inability to bear children somehow makes me less of a woman? Do you know that I have felt this myself? I have struggled with this issue for nearly a year and it doesn’t get easier for me. Do you realize that every time you mention it; it feels like you’re pushing in the knife a little bit further? When will you come to the conclusion that the knife is in far enough?
Maybe I don’t want to be like you and raise children who are not mine. Maybe I don’t want to take part in the destruction of a family to fulfill my own needs. Maybe I am putting ahead my best effort to accept the fact that raising children is not a part of my future. If I accept that; can’t you? Are you able to love me and accept the fact that you may never be a grandmother? Are you able to love me for who I am and not for what I can do for you
All of my life I have tiptoed around you in fear of setting you off. I have made certain decisions in life with the sole purpose of pleasing you. From this moment forward, I will no longer worry about how my decisions hurt you. I am confident in the choices I make and none of them go without prior thought. If I make a mistake, I will live with that and change it. I will continue to trudge my road in my sandals, confident in my steps. I don’t need you following behind me warning me of every stone and dip ahead. At 25 years old, I am fully capable of stubbing my toe and getting back on track, all by myself. I am a big girl now. I am all grown up and capable of continuing my direction and coming out in one piece.
You say that how I live my life is a reflection of you – but that is untrue. How I live my life is a reflection of me and only me. You can choose to be a part of my life and how you choose to do that is what reflects you.
I hate cancer. I hate it so much and it is the most difficult thing to have so much anger towards something intangible. I hate it enough that it has invaded my body, but I hate it even more that it has ravaged the bodies of young children like Cheyenne, young children who have never even had the chance to become the people they would have become. Then there is survivors guilt, a very real thing. I feel it every time someone I know has yet again been taken out by this ugly disease. I'm so angry and I haven't yet found a positive outlet for my anger and grief. I end up bottling it up inside and then someone else dies, and the build up inside of me makes me more and more angry.
Then there are people. People who I suppose mean well, but so often say the most outrageous and clueless things at really inappropriate times. "Don't get attached." Um, don't get attached?! How can you not get attached to other human beings? How can you not hold the hand of a child who is dying and not get attached? Excuse me but the last I checked, I am human. I am a human being that feels empathy for other human beings. What kind of person would I be if I didn't get attached? What kind of nurse would that make me? There are enough people, enough nurses in this world who are detached. I refuse to allow that to happen to me. I suppose being removed from my mother at birth could have detached me, thankfully that didn't happen to me, because I wouldn't want to live that way. I wouldn't want to be a person who can't, or refuses, to feel for other people. Ok, can you tell that is a sore spot for me? I probably couldn't even count high enough to state the number of times I have been told to not become attached. ugh.
Then there are the questions of when is enough - enough? When is it okay for people suffering with terminal illness able to let go. Fighting cancer is tiring. It can take everything out of you. When you have a 12 year old body that cancer is ravaging on a daily basis; when is it okay to say NO MORE? She continued to fight for those who love her. She knew how difficult it would be for her parents to exist without her. When do we decide on quality vs. quantity; and who decides it? When will we as society begin to let the patient decide?
I am just so angry. Yes, you can picture me stomping on the ground and throwing things around. That is exactly what I've been doing all morning. I hate cancer and there is no way to kick it in the ass; because even when one person beats it, another one won't. It sucks. It sucks really really bad.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Cheyenne had strawberry blonde peach fuzz hair, compliments of chemo, and blue eyes with delicately placed freckles across the bridge of her nose. She had a smile and a hug for everyone and would always help out with the younger children who were struggling with hospital stays, needle pricks, fear and fatigue. She wanted to become a researcher when she grew up and find a cure for cancer. She is simply an amazing, loving and beautiful soul.
I began visiting children's hospital in hopes to lift the spirits of children unaware that I was the one who would gain from my visits. These kids have given me a new appreciation and meaning in life. One of the nurses once referred to me as selfless but that isn't the case here. If any word describes my visits to the kids, it would be selfish, because they have given me something that I was desperately in search of - hope amidst adversity and true unconditional love.
I will miss you Cheyenne
Monday, June 11, 2007
He brought some of his photo albums, with a lot of pictures of my mom when she was younger. I stare at those pictures in which she is holding him, or playing with him and she looked so incredibly happy. In ever picture she was smiling. I try to imagine myself in those pictures, would she be as happy? More happy? Less happy? Many of these pictures included my father. My mother, my brother and my father, just a few years after I was born and adopted. He looked like he was in love with her and her with him. What went wrong?
My favorite picture of all was a picture taken at the park; a 1 year old Kieran sliding down the slide with our father guiding him down and our mother waiting at the bottom to “catch” him.
It makes me think about how others in their lives somehow convinced them that they wouldn’t be good parents for me, something apparently she still believes, but every picture I see, at my mom’s house and this weekend with Kieran paints a different story. My mom’s house was filled with joy. It sounds corny, but it was really a beautiful place and the pictures on the walls, the kids’ awards hung in frames, the pool in the back yard, the drawings and report cards displayed on the refrigerator……. They are loved, they are taken care of, they are cherished…….all given by the same mother who is convinced she couldn’t raise me.
Of course when I was planning my trip to visit my first family, I went to my adoptive parents and asked for pictures. I went through boxes upon boxes, only to find very, very few photographs. There were none of me at the park, none in the pool on my father’s back, none like the photographs in my first family’s albums. Something else was striking – there were no pictures in which I looked truly happy. No belly laughing pictures like my siblings have. No pictures of the family together; just a few poor quality pictures of me alone. I found myself looking at little Nicole and wondering what I was feeling back then but to no avail; I have very few memories of my early childhood. Based upon pictures and my memories, one would think I didn’t even exist until high school.
Anyway, on another note, I took my brother everywhere. I took him to the hospital and he handed out the build a bears with me. I took him to meet all of my friends and my boyfriend. I took him to my childhood home and he met my adoptive parents. They were welcoming to him. My adoptive mom kept staring at him and asking him a million questions. Somehow we made it through that experience and on Saturday we went to the beach. We had a few beers (which is a huge no-no for me, but it was fun!) and we stayed there talking throughout the entire night. I have never been comfortable enough with one person to spend that much time together before now. It was truly amazing.
He left last night as I walked him to his car. He hugged me while picking me up and swinging me around and we both got teary eyed. After he left I just sat down on my porch and couldn’t believe that all of this is happening to me. I cannot believe how much my life has changed in such a short period. When I came back in, I called my mom and told her that I loved her.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Kieran and I share the same biological father and the rest of my siblings have another father. Although he is in contact with him, he holds a lot of resentments towards him - so they don't talk too often, but fortunately he has shared a lot with me. I feel tinges of anxiety when the subject of my father is brought up, although I am not exactly sure why. Maybe it is anger that he didn't walk to the end of the earth to help my mother keep me. Even so, I think that at some point I will want to meet him, but of course I will need to gently bring that up with my mom. She hasn't expressed an opinion on that prospect one way or another.
Once again my emotions regarding my adoption are bringing me back onto the rollercoaster. In so many ways I feel angry that it ever happened. I feel cheated out of the family that I am just now, at 25 years old, getting to know and love. I am worried that as quick as I found them, I could lose them. I wonder if this paranoia is normal. I wonder if all my feelings are normal - the intensity scares me and thrills me at the same time.
Who knows the rules for adoption reunion? I ordered several books this weekend in a quest to help myself understand all these feelings and to hopefully sort through them. I know I am not alone. Maybe the key is to take it one moment at a time, and at this moment I am so looking forward to seeing Kieran this weekend.
It's a little depressing.
But wait for the good news (next post)
Friday, June 1, 2007
What about your adoptive mother? Are you close? Do you feel as though your birth mother has replaced her?
I guess I was pretty much posting by the rule of "If you don't have anything nice to say - say nothing at all." Don't get me wrong - I do love my adoptive mother but in regards to certain situations, she has chosen to exclude herself from them. Most notably would be my cancer diagnosis and my reunion with my 1st mother.
Fortunately I have a wonderful woman in my life who sometimes gives me my adoptive mother's POV and this allows me a window into what she may be feeling and dealing with, without this, I would not know because she doesn't share a lot with me.
I do not feel as though my 1st mother has replaced anybody in my life. She is an addition to my life that has been absolutely beautiful, kind and loving. She is someone in my life who adds no burden or no pain. She is just simply herself, a wonderful self.
I have worked hard to accept my adoptive mother for who she is - this wasn't an easy task. Immediately after my diagnosis and surgery, she made a few comments that were really blows to the gut. I saw her about 20 minutes after awakening from anesthesia and immediately after being told that
1) I had metastatic cancer and 2) I would never have children. The latter being the biggest blow at that moment because anybody who knows me, knows that my biggest dream in life was to become a mother some day. That day, those dreams were crushed. The doctors gave me hope of recovering from cancer, but there was no hope for children. My adoptive mother told me that she was glad I would never have children because now I would understand what she went through.
Take out a knife and stab me in the heart - that is exactly what it felt like to me.
Even though I now understand what she possibly meant and how those words probably came out the wrong way. That very moment in time changed my relationship with my adoptive mother and I no longer felt that I could come to her when I needed her.
Fast forward a few weeks - Chemotherapy began and I was not expecting it to hit me so hard. I often felt so sick to my stomach that I could not even lift my head out of bed, but she would leave me messages on my machine in a child's voice (picture the puppy dog eyes and whole bit) saying how lonely she felt, and felt as though I abandoned her. When I didn't return the calls right away, the messages would increase and she would begin to say things such as "remember who pays your insurance."
My reunion with my 1st mother has brought more of it. The comments then switched to "Well, is she planning to pay for your insurance?" Now that I am physically stronger, it doesn't affect me as much emotionally. Like my friend has said, she loves you the best way that she knows how. So that is what I have learned to accept. She can't love me the way that I need her to love me, but she loves me the best way that she knows how.
Again, I do love her. The things she does for me do not go unnoticed. Without her, I'd be up **** creek without a paddle financially, because she does in fact pay my insurance as well as my co-pay. I'm not ungrateful for it - which is pretty much why I don't complain about it. I recall the words of one of my friends in my first year of college, during a debate
she said: there is a price for everything.
But when you are sick and tired, and your ear is so infected that you are screaming in pain, and your so nauseous that in order to go to the bathroom, you must crawl to get there. You don't wanna pay a price. You want love, you need love. You need to believe you are loved and you need to feel it. I don't get that from her. And that's a hard reality to overcome.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Speaking of cancer - In my own cancer story on my blog, I received a question that I have not yet addressed. A woman asked me about the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. I must say that every woman I have talked to experiences either some, none or all of the same symptoms. Ovarian cancer is a sneaky cancer because for so many women, they aren't as priveledged as I was, and they didn't discover their cancer until it was too late.
I will say what my signs and symptoms were - but of course I recommend any woman who is experiencing unusual symptoms to see a doctor. Without the proper tests, there cannot be a diagnosis.
I began having my periods when I was 14 years old. Girls will experience irregular cycles for usually a couple of years when they start their cycles. For me, they never got regular. I don't know how long I'd had cancer or if this was some sort of warning sign that something wasn't right, I won't ever know, but I like to mention that because in my heart I feel that it is significant.
My menstrual cycles would either be spotting for a couple of days each month, or I would bleed heavily for 2-3 weeks and begin again a week later. It was truly annoying. I could never wear white and I never trusted myself to be out anywhere without protection. At other times, I would not have a period for several months. I was of a normal and healthy weight, I ate fairly healthy and there was no logical reason for my periods to be so irregular. Again, most women don't experience any menstrual difficulties (in fact, most women are post menopause) This is just my own experience.
I was too embarrassed to see a doctor about it. Like most teen girls, I didn't like to discuss such personal issues (wow, how things change!) When I was about 21 years old however, I started to get pelvic pressure. Sometimes it felt like my pelvic organs were going to come right out of me (seriously) It was annoying and often painful. Again, I chose not to see a doctor. I dealt with it the best that I could. Although it felt like my organs were falling out, in fact they weren't so I just assumed it was a full-time PMS thing. Being adopted, of course I didn't have my mother to compare to as PMS type symptoms can and do run in families. Sometime later, probably age 21/22, I started becoming bloated, so much so that at times I could not fit into my jeans. When you are 21 years old, dating and going to clubs on Saturday nights, that is very annoying. About a year before I was actually diagnosed, the pain began. Even though my cancer was in both of my ovaries, the pain was really on my right side, pelvic area and this was along with the [at this time near constant] pressure, and occasional bloating.
My decision to finally see a doctor about what was happening came after a brief discussion with a friend about the annoying aspects of being a woman. My friend simply said Nicole, you really need to see a doctor. I thought about what I am doing with my life and how I have pretty much dedicated my entire life to taking care of the health of others but I was ignoring my own health. I sucked it up, and the rest as you know it, began my journey of fighting cancer.
That is my story of my signs and symptoms, it's probably much longer than the person who posed the question wanted to know, but I hope that maybe my story may be of help to anyone who is concerned. My motto now is "better safe than sorry" and I will bug my doctors for any little tinge of pain and any little ache. I will never again ignore my body when it is trying to tell me something.
I was talking to my best friend (Kala) and told her that he is like the male version of me!
She says: Ok Nicole, that is weird - I would never want to meet the male version of me.
I guess it is different when you are an adoptee.. you spend your entire life not knowing your people. People who think and act like you do. You don't know what it is to see someone who shares your DNA, so when you do it is this paralyzing feeling that gives you goosebumps and you feel like you're finally home, after 25 years of being lost.
Kala doesn't really get it. Bless her heart though because she tries. She really tries to understand my POV in this whole adoption reunion situation, but she has memories of growing up around my adoptive parents and looking from the outside in. She has loyalties to my adoptive parents, whether she admits it or not. It's silly though, because when your loyalties to certain people hinder your closeness to others, I call that more like a cult. I don't want to stop the people that I love from loving others. That is not what I call love.
I will be calling my 1st mom tonight. I work this morning and get to meet the little girl I'll be working for. I can't wait to hear her voice again. I really miss her. I feel like I'm in those first stages of dating! Only it's better! More intense. Sigh
Life is still feeling really perfect
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
My visit with my natural family was fantastico! My little sister and I baked British scones (with a touch of good 'ol American!) and British tea, and sat down for a tea party. I loved every moment that I spent with my siblings. They are brilliant, beautiful and full of goodness.
I did get to meet my oldest brother and that was a really interesting and intense meeting. We share the same biological father, and I actually believe I look like him the most. It is such a crazy feeling to sit there with someone who shares the same biological ties. Obviously I have never experienced that and it kind of threw me for a loop. We talked for most of the night last night, about everything and anything. I really feel like he's a special presence in my life now. I am finding myself already missing him.
Now for my mother -- what can I say? She is smart, pretty, vibrant and full of kindness and goodness. I am in awe of the person that she is in this world and I now feel as though I actually know the person that I strive to be. She's just absolutely amazing! Of course I knew she would be special, I was taken aback by truly how special she is. Inside and outside, she just defines the word beauty.
The only person who had tight reins on his heart and a little wall around his life was my 14 year old brother. However, he was pleasant and welcoming; he just preferred not to spend too much time with me. I think it's possible that he has some issues of insecurity -- his world as he knew it, with 3 siblings, has changed. I barge my way into his life suddenly and want to become his "sister," it's a lot to handle, especially at that age. So I respected his need for space and time, and hopefully someday we'll get to really talk and get to know each other.
I got to do a lot of different things while I was there and go a lot of places. One place we went to was Build-A-Bear Workshop. I have never been there and I am totally hooked. It is the cutest thing. Being there made me think of all of my tiny friends with cancer and I got a little bit emotional. I made 4 bears that I will hand out when I go to the hospital. 2 girl bears and 2 boy bears. =) My sister made me a bear that I will keep and cherish forever.
I think my emotions are finally beginning to stabilize (maybe, we'll see) It was very difficult, emotionally, to incorporate this entire new family into my identity of who I thought I was all of my life. It is life-altering, but hey so is the original act of my adoption, right? I mean the act of adoption changes who a person is. So I began this life as Sarah, the daughter of Lisa and Eric, but that identity was brief -- one day to be exact. Then I was taken into foster care where I was called "precious" for 6 weeks, until I was brought home by my adoptive parents who made me Nicole.
Thinking back to Erik Erikson's stages of psychological developement, I was in the stage of Trust Vs. Mistrust. Infants are brought into this world with a clean slate. No worries, no cares, and no fears. (Child Life for Families) So what happens when something as major as losing your first mother, then going to foster care and losing that mother, to a new family with a new mother, happens? It makes me start to analyze my life, my insecurities, my fate, my family and even my identity. It makes me begin to try to piece together who I would have been - where I would be - my life would be drastically different. I wouldn't have been raised as an only child, I would have been raised with 4 siblings, in another part of the country. What an incredible and scary thought. It really makes you reevaluate your life and your destiny. It brings up a world of questions and doubts.
Of course there are many routes to take my thoughts through. What if I'd been kept instead of adopted - would my mother have had her other 4 children? Would she be the absolutely amazing woman she is today or would she be resentful that she kept me when it was so difficult on her. Would I have changed her life in a negative or a positive way? The questions are truly endless. I will probably spend the rest of my life with unanswered questions regarding my adoption. For now I will try to wade through the emotional mess that occupies my brain at the moment, one step at a time.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
I have 4 siblings - they are 21, 14, 12 and 10 years old. I won't meet my 21 year old brother until tonight because he's coming in from Oregon. He lives in Oregon with his best friend and he is in his 3rd year of college. I suspect we will have a lot in common. My 3 youngest siblings are all still children, and, anybody who knows me, knows the intense love I have for children. I always marvel at how simple and open they are. Children will love anybody who is kind to them. Last night I had some girl time with my 10 year old sister. She's so funny and silly, and I believe I know all of her "BFF" by name. My 14 year old brother is at that age where it is much harder to get into his world, maybe in time I will earn that. My 12 year old brother was very welcoming and warmed up as soon as I let him teach me some of his video games. :-)
My mom's husband is also very welcoming and I enjoyed watching my mom interact with him. I think they have a very peaceful and loving relationship, which is very different between the dynamics of my adoptive mom and dad. In my adoptive family, my parents are constantly on guard with one another and ready to argue at any given moment when the smallest thing goes wrong. I've never believed that they love each other, I think they became used to one another and stayed together for the sake of the kids, which in my mind, is completely the wrong thing to do. Kids know when unhappiness lingers, probably more so than adults do.
I am missing Cameron (I guess it's love) but we are emailing and talking on the phone. He's genuinely happy for me and supportive of this road I am traveling. I haven't sat down and talked to my first mom about the cancer yet, but I will. In time....
For now, I need to go grab a shower (my port will come out next week, along with more labs to monitor where my numbers are at) and get ready for the day. I'm anxious to meet my oldest sibling and make the reunion a complete circle.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
I met my first mom yesterday at 5 pm. In so many ways it was just like the scenes on television reunions. I knew her instantly and we hugged for a very long time with tears flowing. It felt good in my soul. I could have stayed in that moment for a long time - just holding each other, smelling her hair and whispering how much we love each other.
Moments like those can't last forever of course and before long, we were in her car and driving to her home. No matter how much I'd prepared myself for this, I stumbled upon every word. Either nothing came out how I meant it to or nothing came out at all. Fortunately she found some humor in it and we were able to laugh it off.
I'll go into all the details of our first evening together at a later time. For now I want to focus on the intense feelings that have arisen. I am in shock that I am here and I am feeling all of these things that I didn't anticipate. Some people told me to try to read about adoption reunions and prepare myself for what I will feel - I should have listened.
I find it ironic that I survived chemo tx without [too much] complaining. I stared at death in the eye and played the life and death game with cancer, but I sit here wondering if these feelings can be fatal. Will they subside? And how does one actually move beyond them? I feel a sense of profound loss. I realize what was taken from me the day that I was born. It goes far beyond what I've always thought that adoptees like me experience. It changed the person who I was. That is a really intense reality for me.
I feel like a little kid ready to stomp my feet on the ground and scream out at all the unfairness. I am not the big sister that my siblings will come to, my first mom is not the mom that I feel comfortable bringing my worries to, this is not the house that I will come "home" to and visit. She will not ever be a "nana" to my children, because I can never give that to her.
If you're kept instead of placed for adoption, does everything change? Your whole destiny would be different. Does this mean I would never have had cancer? Never have had my female reproductive parts taken? Who would I be today? Where would I be today? I feel cheated out of my destiny.
I pray that these feelings subside and that I will be able to enjoy my time here without all these painstaking questions and doubts.
She asks me how my life was and questions about my relationship with my adoptive mother. How can you be honest when the truth isn't pretty and flowery?
I can't write any more at the moment. I'm going to go take a shower and try to do something with these reddened eyes before I come out and pretend everything is OK again.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Yeah! (Money - gotta love it)
Now, tommorow is my day! YEAH! I can hardly believe it. It has taken so much strength not to pack my bags after school last Thursday. I lost so much weight recently that I have very few pieces of clothing that fit and I'd end up unpacking them to wear them throughout the week. Ha! (I'm dying to shop but hoping to put on a few pounds first) I talked to my N-mom last night and made our final plans, although I will be speaking to her this evening too. We have planned out some of our time together and I can't stop thinking about how wonderful this is going to be.
I will definitely try to post while I am there if I can get my laptop hooked up. I actually talked to my doctor yesterday and asked him for a refill on ativan because I am so incredibly anxious about this trip. Fortunately he obliged (gotta love him)
I have put together some small gifts for my family. Basically just a little album with some pictures of me growing up and some more recent stuff from college, for my N-mom and I have a small gift for each of my siblings. I also have a small "book" that I've written for my N-mom about my journey to find her (I still promise to post that sometime soon) and the feelings that I've felt throughout that journey along with those since we found eachother.
My flight leaves at 12 tommorow. I'll post more this evening because for now, I'm going to go pack! :-)