Happy Birthday to ME

Well, it is a day after my birthday. Darwin is snoring lightly next to me in bed and I finally manage to pry myself away from my Animal Crossing and write a little bit about how I feel turning a year older (for last year was a year of growth and setbacks in a lot of ways that I could have never imagined). I actually didn’t even know how old I was turning, I had to verify it with the old trusty calculator because my simple math is horrible. Never been a strong math student. If that worries you about my abilities to dole out medications as a nurse, you should be and that is why I always triple check with a calculator… Anyways. It is hard to believe that it has almost been a year since my first surgery in June 2019. Last year in May after my birthday, I took a trip (which I knew would be my last trip abroad for a while) to Finland and Sweden with my friend Melissa. I remember thinking that maybe I should cancel it because I have a brain tumour and need surgery, well I am glad I didn’t. Crystal was right, I had never regretted taking a trip anywhere. The few regrets I have in life are those trips that I never took or things that I had put of doing for fear of not getting the outcome that I had wished for.

I am glad that I took the time and effort last year (even though I was going through so much with multiple hospital admissions and recovery). Ultimately, I applied to both art schools and was accepted. I remember when I was young and every summer we drove down to Vancouver for a mini vacation and I would dream about going to Emily Carr one day on Grandville island. I loved the arts and the atmosphere. The sound of the ocean, the park nearby, even the rainy days. I actually love rainy days. Emily Carr have since moved campus off the island but nonetheless when I had a tour of their new campus, the same emotions of yearning to go to school there had never gone away. An art school is truly a magical place where creativity and learning happens and so many things and time to putter around and tinker with endlessly until you are sick of it and have to start a new piece. Well, that’s how I imagined it anyways. Not like nursing school, nursing school was just stressful.

This pandemic have affected many people in different ways. Economically, a lot of people are fucked. But at least we are all in the same boat? For other people, this pandemic is not too bad, working from home is not too bad – I bet all the dogs and cats would agreed. Since I have not worked in over a year, I had time to adjust to a routine of staying productive with activities that I enjoy. And luckily, a lot of the activities are best suited indoors. All of a sudden, most of the world knows a bit of how I feel this whole past year where I couldn’t work even though I want to, where I couldn’t go outside much and coping with uncertainties and anxiety about the future and how it will be impacted by my health. My health that may or may not become a chronic illness that will forever need tending to. I have been practising acceptance for a lot of things that are not within my control. And it is damn hard.

I have days where I feel completely useless because I can only manage eating breakfast, feed the dog and then I am too tired to move again. It is hard not to feel depressed when you are too tired to do any of the things that simply require little energy to do. I use to say “I don’t know why I am so tired today” ALL THE TIME. Even though now I know why, I still can’t break the habit of saying “I don’t know why I am so tired today…all I did today was laundry, ate food and read a book”

I was given hope that there is an excellent surgeon in Calgary to do my bilateral adrenalectomy and I would have a quality of life that is age appropriate again. This just came in the middle of a never before in our generation or the generation before us a Pandemic. Life is forever testing my patience. So now I wait. Wait to be put in the queue for a very back logged list of surgeries. I am grateful that I am not dying or suffering more than I already am. Everything is manageable. Including patience. I have learned from a young age growing up being raised by a immigrant single mother of two kids that nothing worth having comes easy.

I have asked for a deferral to go to Alberta University of Arts for next year. Once my health issues are taken care of, I can think about transferring and moving to Vancouver again. The dream is not dead. I am only 33 and if I live through this pandemic, I will have still have time to pursue many things in life worthy of having. Be like WATER.

For my nursing friends that are working during this time, I think of them lots. I think how I wish I was healthy and be able to work and help. I found other ways to feel purposeful and that is to keep creating and selling my art for charity. I am fortunately enough that I don’t have to worry about not being able to afford our home, food and pay our bills. We spend within our means and have been disciplined enough to have savings. It won’t last forever, but for now I can give what I can and it makes me and people that are receiving it happy.

Stay Calm and Panic!

For the past year, my world had been full of uncertainties and anxiety about what my future will look like. Whether or not I will ever be back to “normal” – pre-Cushing’s disease. Those of you that have been following my journey know that I had two failed surgeries and lived through experiences that I never thought would happen to me. There were times where I felt so defeated that I was just glad to have done almost everything that I wanted to do in this life and just call it a day. It has taken time and patience to pull myself together and try to make the best of it all because I know how things could always be worse and that I am fortunate enough that it is not. Last year, in between dealing with my health issues and recovery, I worked on my portfolio for art school. I applied to my “dream art school” – one of the top art universities in Canada and got my acceptance letter just before everyone is advised to stay home due to a pandemic that no one in our generation or the one before us have experienced.

My consult for bilateral adrenalectomy with the endocrine surgeon is scheduled next week but they have just announced that all surgeries that are non-urgent are suspended in preparation for what is to come. I had plan to have surgery this summer so that I can go to school in the fall which doesn’t look like it will happen now. I am still grieving over this. For me, given so much that have happened this past year, was another unexpected disappointment – a series of unfortunate events. It seems that the universe would give me a little bit of hope and then take it away shortly after.

“You know what kind of plan never fails? No plan. No plan at all. You know why? Because life cannot be planned.” – Kim Ki-taek, the movie Parasite.

While it is hard to accept that many plans fail. It is much harder to think that I may not be given the opportunity to come up with a plan if I am dead.

Close to 500 people died in Italy today, it was very much the same in Wuhan in China just a few weeks ago. There were unbelievable videos posted showing crematories simply could not keep up with the amount of dead bodies. Some people will choose to shield themselves from such terrible news/facts and that is rightfully their choice. And some people will choose to be completely ignorant and continue about their lives with minor inconveniences for now. One thing is for sure though, the whole world will suffer economically for years to come which is inevitable unless you are the top 1%. I learned a great deal this past year about so many things that it would take a long while to write about. But for now, despite not being able to go to my dream school and not moving forward with curing my disease I keep telling myself:

Buona salute e la vera ricchezza

“Good health is true wealth”

and another Italian proverb: “The person who enjoys good health is rich, even if he doesn’t know it”

Because I am grateful to have another day tomorrow when I wake up with a roof over my head and food in the fridge. Thanks to my incredible mother – even though her own small food business is barely sustainable and going to be out of business soon (despite my resistive plead) she continues to hull food over to my house to drop off at my doorstep so that I don’t have to go to the grocery store. My sympathies for all those lives lost due to this virus and the many more that will come in the days ahead. There is another Italian proverb: “As long as there’s life, there is hope”. Let’s take care of each other and do everything that we can to save lives.

Much love,

Melody