Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Just Take a Deep Breath... *Puff*

I find it both heartwarming and embarrassing at the same time that friends and family have noticed my disappearance from social media in the past week. The Yankees took the Red Sox for a win and I didn't say a thing... I truly had messages asking if I was alive. This is both a testament to the amazing friends that I have surrounded myself with and my obsession with social mediums of technology. So I figured that I would do what I do best in responding to all your questions regarding my absence: write about it. Would you expect anything less?

I will be the first to tell someone who is having a bad day to just "take a deep breath" and they will start to feel better. The irony of that is, "What exactly do you tell an asthmatic when they need the same advice?" And even more so, "What exactly do you tell your asthmatic self?" What if the simple solution to the problem is not a deep breath at all?

So when you're given the same advice at a time when you feel the floor beneath you just fell through and you have a sense of humor like me there is nothing left to do but just laugh. "Thanks for the advice but I can't take a deep breath without my inhaler. Believe me, it ain't easy being wheezy!" It's my asthma that brought me to this crossroads in my life today. In true Kristen fashion, to welcome in spring and the opening day of baseball I suffered an asthma attack. I like to do things big or just go home. I had a CT scan done of my lungs to make sure everything was ok and I waited for the phone call.

The phone call came the next day. Everything was just swell with my lungs (as swell as they can be for old wheezy over here) but the doctor found something that he wanted to have a specialist look at. So I waited for another phone call. And it came the next day as I sat in my office. I just remember hearing words "surgery" and "biopsy" and "tumor" and a word ending in "arcoma." I hung up the phone with a sticky note filled with scribbles that I wrote down as the doctor told me everything. I didn't know what it meant. I didn't know what to do at that moment. But I did know one ironic thing: I needed air. I went outside my office and just cried. I called my family- pulling my Dad out of his office, my brother away in the middle of a haircut, my mom away from patients and my sister out of class. I told them what the doctor had said and then I just said, "Well... It could always be worse right?"

To come to terms with everything that had just happened in a matter of what seemed like minutes I pulled myself together and got back to work. The tumor was there when I woke up and until I had surgery to get her out (I lovingly named my tumor Gladys as I have one, been watching too many episodes of Bomb Girls and two, I give names to everything I can personify) there was nothing I could do but work. I also had to mutter to myself, in my best Kindergarten Cop voice, "it is a tumor." Just because I could.

Friday morning, when I felt I started to have some kind of grip on reality the floor fell through beneath me. I lost my job. So now, in the Adventures of Me & Gladys, we are unemployed. As I drove away from a job I had had for 3 years, crying uncontrollably and wondering what else could possibly be thrown my way, I did what Kristen does best: I ran away. Having the most amazing parents in the world I called upon them to help me. They've learned to speak "Uncontrollably Crying Kristen" fluently. It's a skill that many people are working on trying to master but few can. My brother heard "The Pita is on Fire!!!" when I sobbed "Jeter is going to retire!!!" Enough said, right?

So I ran away to Texas. I hopped in my Dad's truck and we drove 12 hours west to the wide open Texas sky where I spent the weekend coming to terms with two things: 1) I lost my job. 2) I have a tumor. But I also came to terms with some other things as well. As my family sat in the living room going through hundreds of old Polaroids and Sears portraits from the past 30 years of my life I realized that I have always been a fighter. I'm the one pushing people for Easter eggs. I'm the one who had the bucked teeth, glasses, chubby cheeks and bad haircut in every single school picture yet still managed to survive school. I'm the one who moved to Nashville at the age of 18 to make something of herself. I don't give up.

So why would I give up now? Why would I throw my hands up to the sky and ask, "Why is this happening to me? Why can't I ever just get a break?" Why? Because it's not in my nature. So next week I will go into that operating room and I will say goodbye to Gladys. I will have the love and support of all of my friends and family that have never let me down. I will have that Irish temper and fighting side that I was proudly born with. And I will have an inhaler in hand so I can "take that deep breath."

When one door closes another one is supposed to open. Well, I've had a few things thrown my way this past week that are definitely slamming doors. But I won't wait for another door to open. I will find a window or even a doggy door if I have to. This isn't the time to give up. This is the time to think like a Rosie and give it my all. It's time to fight like a girl.

And if there was ever a time to sit down and eat an entire container of frosting: it's now.