When time is the healer

My freshman year in college I had a roommate who stayed out late, went to fraternity parties, flung clothes all over our tiny dorm room floor, and watched loud soap operas in the middle of the day.

Can you imagine.

We had a falling out that culminated with (me) screaming, (me) sobbing, (me) throwing things and (me) – god, this is so embarrassing – packing the television set up in my car and driving it back to my parents’ house several weeks before finals. I showed her, man. No more soaps for her (and no more X Files for me).

Poor thing. While she was busy being a normal college freshman, I was clinging to my goody two shoes. (I hate to say I also mean that literally. I only recently tossed out the pair of penny loafers I bought in junior high school and continued to wear through most of college.)

We were not two girls thrown together randomly by a campus housing computer program. We had grown up together. Our mothers were close friends who taught in the same elementary school. We spent countless nights at one another’s houses with my younger brother and her younger cousin. She was the first to know of my long-held secret crush on another teacher’s kid. I always knew of her myriad not-so-secret crushes, little childhood “relationships” she (unlike me) always had the courage to reveal. We drifted in and out of each others’ inner circles during junior high, growing closer again in high school. We thought we would be compatible roommates.

Close but not clingy. Complementary, but clashing.

But college freshmen are not so circumspect.

What I regret most about that year is how my exhausting self-riteousness not only prevented me from having any fun, it cost me a friendship and stopped who knows how many others from blossoming. Worst: it blinded me to how smart, giving and perceptive my roommate was.

Is.

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Good Friday: An Optimist’s Approach

Easter Sunday, First Presbyterian Church in Dadeville, Ala. My notes scribbled on the back of the bulletin from my grandmother’s church:

“Good Friday wasn’t the worst of mankind. In fact, it was the best man had to offer at the time: a confluence of Jewish piety and Roman law. It wasn’t man’s worst day. It’s just that Easter was God’s best day.”

I meant to write about this before now, but a health scare got in the way. I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled the Monday after Easter to follow up on a couple of ovarian cysts I knew from a previous ultrasound were large and complex. My doctor wanted to see if they had grown or changed in makeup. They had. She scheduled surgery to remove and biopsy them. Then, that night, one ruptured and sent me into a tailspin of serious pain.

For some stupid reason I went to work, made it a few hours, then went home and passed out. I called my doctor first thing in the morning. She phoned in a painkiller and rescheduled my surgery to the next available operating time, some 36 hours later. It has now been a week, and I am exhausted but feel better than I did before the rupture of the cyst. The cyst turned out to be a symptom of endometriosis, which she was able to remove during the surgery.

I cannot believe how wonderful my family, friends and coworkers have been throughout this ordeal. They’ve kept me fed, kept me company, kept me comfortable, and kept my daughter. When I was freaking out before having a diagnosis, they offered perspective and reason. I have felt warm, loved, deeply blessed.

What does this have to do with the Easter sermon at my grandmother’s church?

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Endometriosis: Five Things I’ve Learned From A Minor Health Scare

I am writing this post from bed, on my phone, under the influence of painkillers, so there’s a fair chance it’s rather sloppy. I’m not concerned. I think it’s important to share what I’ve learned from a recent health situation that, to be honest, freaked me out more than a little.

So – five things I’ve learned from dealing with endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and a hastily scheduled surgery to deal with all that:

1. Try not to assume the worst before you have all the facts. I had to wait six weeks between the first ultrasound that confirmed I had ovarian cysts and the second that confirmed they had gotten bigger, then undergo surgery before I knew whether the cysts were endometriosis and benign or something else and not. It was hard to keep my mind from going straight to cancer, even though I don’t fit the profile and my doctor said the likelihood was slim. The worst part of this is that when you’re scared, that fear influences your behavior about many things beyond the topic at hand.

I learned that if you recognize this, you can fend it off a little. It also occurred to me that my daughter tends to “awfulize” like this, too, a habit I think we will work on together.

2. Talk to the women in your life, especially your family members. You will be surprised how many people have had similar experiences, and grateful for the perspective and advice they provide.

If nothing else, they will take you for coffee (then cocktails) in the middle of the day. Also, if a first-degree relative (mother, sister) has suffered endometriosis, you are more likely to as well.

3. I am tremendously grateful to have such loving friends and family. They have been there for me and for each other in all crises, great and small. This little health scare and surgery was no exception.

Reach out to your people when you are scared, hurting, or overwhelmed and you’ll see: They will do for you exactly as you would of course do for them.

Side note: A helpful little service I will definitely use the next time I have a friend in need of meal help: takethemameal.com. I didn’t know about this site until my friends Courtenay and Emmely used it to coordinate several other dear hearts who wanted to help Lily and me. When my mom and I got home from the hospital, there was a lovely dinner and sweet note waiting for us from my friends Jase and Chuck.

4. Listen to your body and find a doctor who will listen to you. I have known for years that something was not right with me, but I either dismissed it or was dismissed. In short: Ladies, your period should not knock you out of commission. You should be able to run, bike, do whatever you do to enjoy life without pain. Men, especially if you are doctor types, please take us seriously if we feel something may not be right “down there”. Our bodies are magic and complicated, and I suspect that even if you have an MD after your name, we know them better than you do. I have a doctor now who totally gets this.

5. We all need our mamas. Whether it’s a surgery on our lady parts, childbirth, a broken heart, career advice, or any other number of fast pitches from the universe, there is no better lady to help us knock the jacket off.

The Small Moments

Centennial Park, Nashville

Four generations in Centennial Park

A screened porch during a thunderstorm.

Turning the music up, and turning it up again.

Pulling the car over to dance in the middle of the street.

Seeing that it’s a letter, not a bill.

When the flowers at the office are for you.

Kissing him the first time and thinking, I will write this down.

Hearing them for the first time and thinking, I will buy the whole album.

Shaving your legs in a river.

Seeing your name in print.

Laughing louder than anyone else in the room.

Crossing a finish line at the end of 13.1 miles.

Ordering a bloody mary in an airport bar.

Bicycling to the top of a very steep hill.

Flinging your shoes off from the middle of the dance floor.

Good lives are often boldest in their smallest moments.