Your Smiles Make Me Smile

If you really want to get the most out of my blog, it's best to start with the first post written in July to the present since some blogs refer back to earlier posts; but any order is just fine... Thanks for visiting! Now scroll on down to the good news! ~Renae~

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

These Boots Are Made For Struttin'

I am not the same person I was a week ago, and a completely different person than I was two months ago.  This is the first morning I have woken up from my surgery six days ago without feeling shell-shocked.  The best description I can offer is that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you go to a movie based in suspense which comes with an unexpected ending.  There are twists and turns that keep you glued to your seat, and then the end comes and you are left in utter shock, bewildered really, and you sit there for an extra minute in your hard movie seat, pretending to read the credits, when in fact, you are numb with devastation.  There is a hush across a normally crowded theatre and eventually, because you can’t sit in the seats forever, people begin walking out in a simultaneous wave of silence because, no one saw it coming; you didn’t see it coming.  Think Seven Pounds with Will Smith. 

I don’t know how else to better explain the shell-shock I’ve experienced over the last two months of being diagnosed with cancer, having, to date, 18 needles stuck into parts of my body that I dare not mention for fear of making you cringe, losing part of my breast, and then getting the best news ever….”It hasn’t spread.”  Only by the way…now you have six weeks of radiation, five years of hormone treatment (as if I’m not moody enough in my normal state), still a possibility of chemotherapy (think atomic bomb on any malignant cell that even considers peeking the top of it’s head out from the charred remains while looking back and forth with bright eyes to consider it’s safe return for more destruction).  

The only real difference is that an hour after a shocking movie ending we are laughing and planning for the next day, or what we want to eat for dinner.  Should we do a drive through or eat last night’s leftovers?  In real life, we don’t shake the last scene an hour later; it lives within us for an indefinite period of time.  How indefinite, I do not know.

I realized this yesterday when I was taking my walk, breathing in my Vitamin D of sunshine.  I was just…walking, slowly, not smiling, not frowning, just sort of there in surreal land. Shouldn’t I be happy? Shouldn’t I be jogging and smiling and waving to strangers after the good news that the cancer hasn’t spread?  I suppose in a logical world that would be my response, but my amygdala (the part of the brain that processes emotion) hasn’t caught up to the rest of my brain.  For the record, I love the word “amygdala” not just for the word, but because there is so much interesting science behind that newly studied part of the brain that makes it downright fascinating.  So I use that word whenever the opportunity arises, plus it makes me sound smart.  But until this morning, I have been in a state of shell shock.  The words coming out of my mouth have not been in sync with the movement of my lips; like the video is a beat or two off. And what do I say when my daughter asks with such concern “Mama, what’s wrong?”  When I can’t even begin to put it into words because, I don’t’ know what’s wrong, I really don’t. 

Did I tell you I got her fired from her job a few days before my surgery??  No, I’m sure I didn’t mention that because it wasn’t my proudest moment.  My Monica, who boasts that she is just like me…is nothing like me.  She will stay at a job forever no matter how much abuse is thrown her way, while people are quitting like flies…she will stay.  Me, I’m a quitter.  I have no staying power, no stomach to take abuse of any form.  But my Monica, she says “I’ll work it out!” She is a fighter, unlike me.  She holds her ground, and stays. I cuss and storm out. 

But on this particular day, just a few days before my surgery, over a month after she requested a week off (unpaid because they offer no benefits or raises at Fitness 19), to take care of me the day before, during and after my surgery, she was ruthlessly called into the office by her supervisor, Stephanie, and told she could not take the week off.  The fact that she had to fight for it infuriated her; the fact that Stephanie responded with “What…your mom’s going to be in surgery for a whole week? I don’t think so...” crushed any sense of value she had with the company.  But hey, two employees just quit so what’s a partial mastectomy in comparison? I mean, how dare she ask for a week off to care for me? In the end, she got the week off after putting up a fight, less one day.  New Year’s Day.  Forget that she has covered every other holiday without extra pay or even a thank you, including this past Thanksgiving.  People love their gyms on the holidays.  Forget that her name is on the front door to call “in case of an emergency” – not the supervisors.  But God forbid she ask for a week off to take care of me.

And so, behind Monica’s back….because I would never do this in front of her….I made a choice.  The first was to go into Fitness 19 and punch Stephanie in the face.  I wanted to.  I thought about it.  But, it would have landed me in jail on Christmas and just before my surgery.  The second was to call Stephanie and ask for her email address and that of the owner (which I did and she denied me), so that I could write a “professional” letter without the emotion, explaining the need for someone going through breast cancer surgery to have support for a whole week, and why Monica was the one that could offer that.  It didn’t turn out that way…Stephanie was rude, beyond rude….downright cruel.  It turned ugly and I ended it with a “YOU disgust ME!” as she threatened to call the police.  I guess she thinks the police give a rats ass if someone calls her a name.  Then again, maybe the San Ramon police do, but that's beside the point.  An hour later, Monica called me to tell me she had just been fired from Fitness 19.  She had no idea why.  She was fired in a message on her voicemail stating they would mail her her last check and that they didn’t need her any longer.  Three years and three months of loyalty and there you have it; the reality of the world we live in. Or maybe the reality of having an ill mama bear for your mother.  And by the way, if any one of you has a desire to call Stephanie at Fitness 19 in San Ramon, for say, a new gym membership….the number is (925) 327-1919....tell them Renae sent you.

Ironically, the next morning after being fired, Monica received over 16 calls from gym members who were standing outside in the cold at 5:00 a.m. because no one had opened the gym (remember her number was on the front door?)….Fitness 19 told her it had been up to her to remove it.  Would that have been before or after she was fired?? 

But this story isn’t about Monica being fired or me having breast cancer or the great news I received from the most amazing surgeon ever who took the time to call me on his New Year’s Eve to give me the good news that he really didn’t have to give me until a week later.  This is about this little thing I learned and retained in my high school Psychology class called saturation.  When a person’s ears take in too much sound, we go deaf.  When our eyes take in too much light, we go blind.  When our brains take in too much to process….we go “shell-shocked.”  The damage has been enormous, the emotion, too much to grasp and yet....I have faith that something good will come.  After destruction there is new growth, opportunity to build, time to reflect.

This morning I didn’t wake up numb, or angry, or sad, ….I just woke up wondering where I could get the best deal on over-the-knee sexy ass leather boots to wear tucked into black tights or jeans and what color I should dye my hair and should I keep it sexy long or go with sassy short?

Perhaps 2012 is a time to rebuild.

Sweet Dreams and Always GOOD Dreams,


Rose said...

Love it! It sounds like I need to give Stephanie a call! Our gym up here would never act like that! Good for you, Renae!

Anonymous said...

You sound like an acorn that fell just am little close to the tree.


Anonymous said...

Buy those boots, and keep your hair long and sexy, girlfriend! Or chop it off and go red. But buy the boots. Definitely buy the boots!

Daniel Hirsch said...

Thanks for providing us such a information. We appreciate your information.
Tree trimming san ramon