I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends…and Family

pity party instrumentYesterday had the potential to be so unbelievably miserable. I woke up in worse pain than I was having even when it was really awful in the hospital…you know when they ask you, “on a scale from 1-10, where is your pain?” Well mine was at 15, and it seems my body wasn’t really digging it either because I couldn’t stop puking for most of the day. I’m not much of a crier, but I had huge, baby girl tears running down my face. And of course, my amazing mother who wants nothing more than for me to feel okay, was just beside herself because she didn’t know how to help me. Between the pain and the puking and reality of not being able to move a whole lot, I was starting to lose it. And as mentally tough as I can be, I can also be the grand master of the pity parties. I was headed in that pity party direction–I was feeling miserable and worthless, and the questions started in my head…What if it takes longer than expected to recover? What if I never do anything meaningful with my life ever again? What if I can never run again? What if the pain never goes away? Are the “random security searches” I’m always subjected to when I travel by plane going to get worse because I now have a plate and two screws in my right leg? Will the sky fall? Will I be in such bad shape that I won’t be able to watch the Dr. Who Anniversary Special? Okay, so maybe no so much the last couple…but you get the picture.

The doctor made me change all of my medications, which sent my mom and dad all over town trying to get that done as efficiently as possible–thank you Mom and Dad for running around town and helping to make me feel better!!! And just as I was rounding the corner into the land of Irrationalville, the messages and calls started.

Best Friend TherapyMy fairy godmother called and talked to me until my parents got back from their multiple pharmacy trips. She stayed on the phone and distracted me from the pain and sadness I was feeling. She and I don’t get to talk as much anymore because our schedules have been crazy over the past year, so getting that much time was a small miracle in and of itself. My fairy godmother, who will come up often, saved me from the abusive relationship I was in, and then she helped me find myself again. And talking to her reminds me that not only do I have the strength to overcome just about anything, I have the support and love around me to help me along the way…she also turned me into a girl, which of course, formed an instant love connection between she and my mother, but that’s another story for another time.

Shortly after, I found out one of my very best friends was cutting his trip to LA short and coming back through Leo helping me work on my computerLubbock earlier than expected. And his new arrival time just so happened to be the Our Three Little Babiesday that I was on the verge of a meltdown. He and I co-parent three, four-legged furry babies (2 girls and 1 boy…dogs), and this accidental, perfectly timed trip meant I was going to get to see my son too! I have a cousin who swears that I love animals more than humans, and maybe sometimes it’s true. But look at these faces…they just want to love and cuddle and be sweet. Leo even wanted to help me get my work done, and the three of them together is just love and happiness at it’s finest.

A little bit later in the day, I got the most wonderful message from a woman that I have looked up to for a lot of years. When I was in college, I worked as a TA for elementary-aged children with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. Up until that point, I never thought I could teach. I thought that my patience was far too thin, and there were entirely too many ways that I could really mess up a kid’s life. Then I met this spectacular teacher and her amazing students. I fell in love with all of them, and they taught me how big of an impact teachers can have on their student’s lives. This experience led me to teaching overseas and helping some of my students seek out the freedom they had only dreamed about before. This experience also led to my teaching teenagers who had been in trouble with the law in Travis County. Some of those kids had never in their lives been told they were smart or capable or special. They had just been passed on from class to class, believing they were “thugs” or they were “bad” because that is all they had every been told. I was able to break through that barrier over and over, and it is in large part because of this person who taught me the importance of teaching so many years before. She changed my life, and she inspired me. And yesterday she told me that I was her hero.

Fast forward a couple of hours, and I received a text message from my older brother. At this point, my mom had told him all about my day, that I was puking, etc. My brother put on adult, pink footy pajamas that were fashioned Ramzi as Ralphieto look like the rabbit PJs Ralphie got in A Christmas Story, complete with the Red Ryder BB Gun. He took a picture and texted it to me just to make me laugh (I will decide by the end of this post whether or not I am going to include that amazing little gem my brother shared with me, or if I’ll save him the humiliation). My brothers and I have always been very close. We’ve had our ups and downs like all sibling, but mostly, people look at us like we’re so weird because we actually love being around each other. My brothers have always been my best friends. They’ve always believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. And while our family is very traditional in so many ways (something I’m sure I will write about in future posts), no one has supported me more than or encouraged me more than my brothers…what a great reminder of how lucky I am to have parents and brothers who don’t find my whining and complaining to be absolutely annoying!

When I was in New York a couple of weeks ago with my cousin (who’s really more like my sister) and her Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 12.18.10 AMamazing  girlfriend, we got a lot done…we celebrated her birthday Texas-style in Brooklyn, went to this oddly wonderful church that was housed in an old theater, did some home improvement projects (where I’m fairly certain her girlfriend thought we were insane and would be headed to the emergency room…but really, who needs a vice grip when using a circular saw??), made a great dinner and watched football, and we somehow got onto the subject of how amazing corn dogs are and that as adults, we should be enjoying them much more…she texted me saying that while she can’t get my favorite New York delicacy, Gray’s Papaya,to me, she could ship me some amazing corn dogs! Seriously…who has family like that?!

Reminder from BarbWhen I arrived in North Dakota in early September of 2012, I was supposed to be there for a few months, and that was it. When it was time to go, the hardest and most shocking thing was just how sad I was to leave. I left North Dakota with a lot of new friends and new family. One of my closest friends was kind enough to share his parents with me while I was there. They invited me in and made me feel at home. When his father passed away earlier this year, we were all devastated. But he, his mom, and I continued to be close, maybe even closer. Today, she sent me the most beautiful card, wishing for me to get well, and reminding me that she loves me and thinks about me all the time. I just love this woman so much, and her kind words were so sweet and so perfectly timed…just another reason to be grateful.

All of this, on top of the countless phone calls, emails, and text messages from friends and family. Then there were visits from friends and family. It’s just nice to see their faces, but they never come empty handed–flowers and cakes and cards, and one of my sweet friends and her husband even brought Chicken Express because she knew how awful the hospital food was! No, things aren’t exactly great or how I pictured they’d be right now. But holy crap that’s a lot of love from so many amazing people. And while pretending that everything is perfect isn’t really my style, I do know I have so much to be grateful for, and that is pretty good inspiration to hold onto a positive attitude and maybe let those rainbows and unicorns stick around for a bit longer.