Hanging out at my favorite local lunch spot I’m considering the menu options as my best friend orders first. Although I’m in the mood for a pasta-filled coma, I settle for the healthier choice of a salad. Our waitress leaves and I hear the question I have been dreading since we sat down.
“So what happened?”
My bestie is referring to my most recent setback in love. With a deep sign I say the only thing that comes to mind,
“Same thing that always happens.”
She looks at me with love, a slight hint of impatience, and incredible restraint.
“You want to talk about it?”
“No. I don’t feel like going through it again, let’s just say if there were any doubt about the breakup before, it no longer exist now. This relationship has been D.N.R.’ed.”
“Do Not Resuscitate. It’s done, over, kaput.”
She takes a long inhale as I see her contemplate how to go about helping me. Her long pause is beginning to make me uncomfortable, which I poorly mask by chewing on my lower lip.
“Carly, do you think you are a smart person?”
“Yes, except when I try to tackle any crossword puzzle other than People.”
“Do you think you are worth it?”
“Yeah, I guess… sometimes.”
“Do you know that you are pretty?”
“I do, on the days that I’m not having an ‘ugly day’.”
“How often do you have an ‘ugly day’?”
“Everyday.” I sigh knowing what’s coming next. “Look, I know that I need to work on my self-confidence. I have the self-help books, seen the shows, but let’s not talk about this immediately after a heartache. Your words of wisdom are lost on this particular point, at this particular time.
“I wasn’t, I know that is something that will come when you are ready to accept yourself.” Looking down she seems to choose her words very carefully. “Why do you insist on picking narcissistic, self-absorb, immature, guys?”
Now it is my turn to check out the floor. I know that she wants a real answer, and “I don’t know” just won’t do. Taking a sip of water, I clear my throat. “Truth?”
“If I pick guys who are self-absorbed then maybe they won’t notice all the shit I bring to the relationship, no pun intended.”
“Funny… What are you referring to? Your accomplishments? Your experiences? Your wisdom?”
“I don’t know, baggage I guess….”
She rolls her eyes and said what I knew she would say before the words left her mouth. “Everyone has baggage Carly.”
“No.” I reply, “You have baggage, I have a U-Haul. It’s compartmentalized, organized, and is on standby to be periodically unloaded at The Good Will of those things which are no longer necessary to hold on to, but it is still a U-Haul.”
Another eye-roll as she takes a minute considering where she goes from here. I saw the imaginary light bulb appear above her head and braced myself for impact.
“That’s your deal Carly. That’s the problem….”
“You have baggage, maybe more than most, so you need to start picking men like you were picking a moving company!”
“Hear me out. You started out picking men, if you want to call them that, who were of the Budget quality; settling for a possible flat tire, a hitch that held 90% of the time, and a leaking cabin that only left you with a wet ass after driving through a thunderstorm. You saved a couple of bucks, but in the end all you’re left with is an unreliable truck/man.”
“Okay… where you going with this?”
“Gimme a minute. More recently you have been choosing men, if you want to call them that.”
“Not necessary to qualify each time.”
“Fine. Men who are of the U-Haul quality. They tell you from the beginning you are on your own to deal with things by yourself. It’s not called We-Haul, or Together-Haul, it’s U-Haul. Then when it comes time for them to support you through any tough times that don’t directly affect their lives, they bail. You seemed surprised that when it came right down to it, you were never going to be as important to them as they are to themselves.”
Utterly speechless I watch as my idiot-savant best friend continued.
“From this point forward we are using a different moving company, another category of men.”
Pausing I can see her wheels turning.
“Two Men and a Truck. It’s perfect!”
“Okay, okay. Hold up. You had me with the Budget moving company, and I’m slowly grasping the concept of U-Haul, but Two Men and a Truck? You lost me, I need two separate relationships? Two men to achieve the perfect one man?”
“No, no” she’s reeling as her excitement overtakes.
“You are an amazing woman, smart, funny, and very special. You need a man who brings the same to the table. You don’t need two men, but one man who is amazing enough to do the job of two. He can be a friend and a lover, a motivator and supporter, a frog and a prince. I’ve been telling you for years that the guy for you is someone who loves and cherishes you, and is truly amazing in his own right. He’ll help you pack, load, and unload with energy left over to be everything that you deserve. Next relationship I want you to consider asking yourself one question, is he Budget, U-Haul, or worthy enough to be called Two Men and a Truck?”
Perfect timing our waitress arrived with our entrees. Gazing at her I’m at a loss for words. I realize she may have a funny way of putting it, but she is right. As a big smile bubbles up and out of my heart I say, “Is it hard always being right?”
With a dead serious, weary expression, she drops her shoulders and replies, “Exhausting.”
Carly Speelman© 2013
Edited By: Lauren Speelman
“Sometimes, losing control of the big things in our life shows us the importance of all the small things.”
Journal Entry: July 2004
I am so sorry, but you were wrong about me. I’m not a miracle, strong, or a fighter destined for great things. It has been almost a year since that fateful day and almost 6 months since I left the hospital. In all honesty, I’m tired of waiting to get better, whatever better means. The accident has taken almost my entire gut, but unfortunately left my heart. So long it has been breaking. Cracks made from losing the life I once knew. Pieces taken from people I can no longer help. Beating closer and closer to silence as I let go of the hope I once had. This mountain is no longer worth climbing and I am so tired.
So many say that this choice is one of selfishness and lack of strength. Well, they are right. It is, but I hope the people I hold close know that it is a choice made up of many more emotions.
In the car that fateful day, I asked God to save me because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye and I didn’t want you to have to either. I thought that dealing with me dying that way was unfair. Losing any one of you in that manner would have put my life in a tailspin, but now I see that I was wrong. Life will be easier for all of you, I promise. My life in the past year has done nothing more than cause financial hardship, pain, and many more tears than if my life would have ended that day in the car. I simply can’t keep being the drain on my friend’s and family’s life anymore. In the end, my spirit died in that car and what’s left is not worth saving.
I believe in an afterlife. I believe that beyond this lifetime therein lies paradise and a home I seem to be missing more and more. My hope is that God will forgive me and Grandma is waiting with open arms.
Mom and Dad, take care of each other and know that you are the best parents I could ever wished for.
Lauren, my happy thought, I’m always with you. I’m sorry I’m not the strong big sister you thought I was. Please don’t be scared, you are tougher than you think.
I love you so much, please find it in your hearts to forgive me.
Love Always Always, Carly
I put my pen down, and wiped my eyes. Staring at the letter I was hoping that the smudges from my tears wouldn’t make it hard to read. I got up from being seated on my bed and went over to lock my bedroom door. Bending over my backpack filled with many different drugs, I grabbed 10 syringes and 10 vials of Valium. Slowly I began filling them as I sat on my bed, hoping that 10 would be enough to slow down my heartbeat and take the pain away forever.
Bowing my head I quietly said the prayer my family and I have said every night since I was little:
Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take
I took a deep breath as my sobs got harder and harder to control. Lifting the first syringe, I took off the plastic cap and inserted it into a tube protruding from my chest. Looking up, I wished that somehow my life had turned out differently. As I put my thumb on the bottom of the syringe there was a knock at the door. I nearly jumped out of my skin and had to take several deep breaths to calm myself down. I cleared my throat and said, “Yes?” as calmly as I could. It was my roommate.
“Hey Carly? I didn’t know if you were taking a nap or not, but I wanted to let you know that my Boyfriend has just finished grilling the best cheeseburger I have ever had! You gotta come try this!”
“Um, okay, maybe in a bit.”
“Okay, see you downstairs!”
I took a deep sigh and tried to stop shaking. Looking down at the needles I had the oddest thought, I don’t think I’ve had a cheeseburger that I would label as the ‘best I’ve ever had’. Five-seconds ago I was planning to take my life and end all the sadness, suffering, hopelessness I have been feeling for the past year, but now…. now I wondered what the “best cheeseburger I’ve ever had” tasted like? I looked down at my letter and had a thought that originated by some small voice deep down inside of me. Curiosity inspires hope, and hope gives a reason to live. I started thinking that maybe I really wasn’t done yet, maybe there is more “best of’s” I had to find.
A long-lost smile crossed my face as I stood up and grabbed the syringes and the letter and put them back in my backpack. As I unlocked the door, making my way downstairs, I thought, odd that something so small, so simple, could change our paths so quickly.
I believe that God and my grandmother were there with my roommate, and in the absence of a knock at my bedroom door this story would’ve had a very different ending. I’m not sure if my roommate ever knew what she did for me that day, but maybe it’s just as well. I had hit bottom and needed a knock to bring me back to life.
I walked into the kitchen and tried to hide my tear-stained cheeks as the deep-seeded darkness finally left me. I looked over at the table as my roommate lifted the cheeseburger and said to me, “You want one?” I smiled, silently thanked her, and replied, “Yeah, I want to know what the best cheeseburger you’ve ever had tastes like!”
Carly Speelman © 2013
Edited by: Lauren Speelman
I’m seated in a waiting room… At least I think it is a waiting room. Painters white covered with strategically positioned photographs surrounding me. Placed to give a sense of warmth, but instead just leave me wondering whom they paid to decorate this disaster. I glance at the plethora of National Geographic’s and settle upon the tiger addition. I casually flip through the pages when a matter-of-fact voice speaks up above the drab elevator music. “We almost lost you again…” I look around to see where the voice came from. I hadn’t noticed her before, but now I see a woman who seemed to embody the word ‘grandmother’ seated off in the corner. Not quite sure who she was talking to, so I simply smile and returned to my Nat G-O. She says once more, “We almost lost you again…” I look over and hear myself say, “Excuse me?” This grandmother had kept her eyes fixated on the floor, yet now she slowly lifts her gaze and rested it gently on me. Her piercing blue eyes seem to burrow into my soul as she repeats, “We almost lost you again… didn’t we dear.” My head begins to spin, my heart starts to race, my vision becomes cloudy giving way to black as I reach up to rub my eyes. Memories come flooding back…
I’m worried. I’m out of surgery but by the look on my mothers face, not in the clear yet. Someone is complaining about a drain that needs to be put in? Emptied? I’m not sure, something about a drain. In another voice I hear something about a fever. I don’t feel well, and pain medicine keeps me from understanding what is going on. I notice my mother doesn’t much like one of my nurses. Wow, she must have done something very wrong to get my mother this visibly upset. I don’t feel right. I don’t feel settled. I’m scared that something is really wrong and no one will tell me. I close my eyes as I hear a decision has been made to take me up to ICU.
BEEP…BEEEP… BEEEEEP!!! I open my eyes to an obscene sound coming from one of my monitors. I glance over and see and all to familiar monitor. I reach up being careful not to twist my newly spit-open stomach, willing my index finger to stretch far enough to reach the pause button. From behind me somewhere I hear, “Carly? What are you doing?” Damn. Busted. I look back ever so causally, hoping to see the face of someone who will to let my nurses know that the monitor had gone off, going for my best angelic smile. “Your oxygen level is a little low, Carly. We need you to take a couple of deep breaths.” Sure… No problem. Innnnhhhhhaaaallllleee….OOOOOOOUUUUUUUCCCCCCHHHHH! THAT HURT!!! My stomach feels as though it is once again being ripped open. I look over at David… no… Derrick…. no… Darren… Oh, whatever his name is, thinking I won’t be doing that again… Well, at least not without some more painkillers. Darren kept telling me to take deep breaths, and that he would be back to check on me soon. I think to myself, yeah, sure thing Darren… I’ll get right on that. I close my eyes and fall back to sleep. “Carly?? Carly?? Come on, take a deep breath for me Carly…” Darren again. Ok, here it goes. Innnnhhhhaaaalllleeee…. Exxxxhhhhaaallleee. There, happy? Now please let me sleep. I think Darren is trying to keep me awake because he jumps into telling me fun facts about himself. Three kids… Congrats. Married ten years…Great. May I go back to sleep yet? My question is answered as he shoves the oxygen tube up my nose. Guess not. The fun facts continue as I feel myself drift off once again. The next time I opened my eyes everyone is in a panic. Mom’s here… Crap. It’s still dark out, meaning still extremely early…that’s not good. Something is wrong. “Take a deep breath Carly,” everyone says in unison. I soon realize that I can’t breathe any deeper and it starts to scare me. Suddenly, I feel as though I am caught in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy as several nurses whisk me off to my second stay in the ICU…
The dream is over and I wake up safe and sound in my apartment, knowing that going back to sleep isn’t going to happen.
The little grandmother in my dream, with her sobering words, reminded me how close I had come to not being around anymore. As I set up in bed, I try to come to terms with everything I went through.
Moments like these in which I could’ve been slipping away without ever realizing it scare me. I was under so much medication that a couple of trips to the ICU didn’t set off any alarms that maybe things were a lot more serious than I thought. Sad to think that I have been to the ICU so many times that my thought process is, oh well, I’ll be back on the recovery floor soon. It worries me that I could be so close to having a serious problem but would never know, completely comfortable in my painkiller haze. My biggest fear is I wouldn’t know to tell my friends and family how much they mean to me, what a gift they have been to my life, and saying for the last time that I love them.
My memories haunt me. I catch myself thinking about certain aspects of my hospital stay and find myself cringing from some of the painful things I had to endure. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but the real painful memories can sometimes feel like my own personal torture chamber.They sneak up on me when I least expect it. Some days are better than others but lately it seems to be a constant struggle to gain control over my mind.
This subject has been one of the hardest for me to talk about. The alterations in my physical everyday life haven’t change all that much. I keep reminding myself it took me two years to recover to as close to normal as I was ever going to get after the accident, so this time may not be any different. I keep telling myself that what I can control is my mental recovery; therefore I work on it everyday.
I read, I write, but I have to say that my favorite way of getting control of my thoughts is walking my dog Buddy. We usually walk for about an hour or so as I try to train him to not be afraid of cars, bikes, and people. The funny thing is as I am training him he also seems to be training me. Whenever I start to tense up from thinking about the “what ifs” he nudges my hand with his nose, ever so gently, to steal me away from my fear-filled thoughts.
Copyright© 2013 Carly Speelman
Editor: Lauren Speelman
Thank you everyone for being so patient, I am still working on my patience as well. As you may have guessed everything took longer than expected; the surgery, the recovery, time spent in Ohio, etc. The doctor said I would be in the hospital 3-5 days, what he should have said is that I would be in the hospital 35 days. He definitely would have been a lot closer. 28 days in the hospital, 2 weeks at the cottage, and undetermined amount of days until I make a full recovery. I’m still reminding myself that I need to take things slow.
In the hospital I was focusing on getting the heck out of there as soon as possible. On the day they finally released me I remember sending my mother ahead to pull the car around waiting in the wheel chair wondering how pissed they’d be if I just reversed my way right out of the hospital. My arms were too weak to roll myself, but I was pretty sure my legs were strong enough to get me there. Finally the man who was to transport me down to the car arrived.
Boy, did he arrive, all 5’10” 350 lbs of him arrived. My first thought is, okay here is the deal – no detours, chatting with your transporter buds, or bathroom breaks, and just because this hospital has its own zip code does not mean we can’t shave a few seconds off the fastest time ever released, because I AM OUT-TA-HERE! My second is he is pretty big, and kinda scary looking, I should probably keep my mouth shut.
Looking back know I realize ever since that moment I have been in a hurry. Getting frustrated with myself and my body for not healing as quickly as I think it should. Feeling the need to throw a temper tantrum at the world screaming this is some bulls#@t! It’s taking too long, I’m missing too much of my life!
Thanks to my family’s love and guidance I am trying to look at my recovery time a little differently than the impatient little girl inside of me. I have decided to reconnect with my Gentle Wind-ness. For those of you that did not know me in that time Gentle Wind is a magical store that I worked at prior to my car accident as well as a couple of months after I recovered. It was my sanctuary, my happy thought, my home. It was a metaphysical, spiritual, wellness store that in short was all things healing. I don’t think I have ever been as happy as I was when Gentle Wind was apart of my life. I felt needed, connected, and enlightened all at the same time. It was the smile on my face when I woke up and the deep breath when I went to sleep. It involved stones, oils, beliefs, and education. It was the first door to walk through when searching for meaning in your life. Unfortunately Gentle Wind no longer resides in Columbus, but I hope to find something similar in my new hometown. Since I have chosen this part of me to reconnect with, waiting for my body to catch up doesn’t seem so difficult. In fact I have been more filled with hope than I can remember being in a long time.
As my Dad so eloquently put it, I can’t be filleted open like a fish on the operating table and expect to heal quickly. Haha! Graphic, but he is right. My body still needs time to recover. In the meantime I’ll be here fulfilling my dream of writing and remembering a part of myself, once misplaced but never lost.
Copyright © 2013 Carly Speelman
The world stops, time stops, my heart…stops.
The only sound is the cell phone crashing against the pavement as I begin to tremble.
I need to go.
We need to go.
Get me off this godforsaken island!
A plane, yes, let’s get a plane.
Buy, sell, trade, whatever it takes.
The plane is ‘in use’?
Ferry, must get to the ferry.
Why is God doing this?
Please, don’t do this!
I can’t breathe.
Where is that stupid boat?
Too much time has passed.
I will never forgive you for this.
If you take my daughter away from me, I will never forgive you.
Why is this boat moving so slow!
I’m going to be sick.
Please, just get me to my daughter.
It can’t end like this.
She can’t die in a car accident.
I am supposed to go first.
It’s all I know.
It’s all I accept.
It’s all I can handle.
Car, last step.
Just get me there!
Stop the car, just stop, I’ll run.
Through the doors, into an empty hallway, the last sound I hear is the echo of my voice screaming for someone to help.
[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)]
Why has my wife turned white as a ghost?
Dread, sinking my stomach as I see my hand reaching for the dropped cell phone.
Take control, call them back.
How could this have happened?
Was it me?
Is this my fault?
I was talking to her on the phone a while ago, is that how it happened?
Did I cause this?
I will never forgive myself if I caused this.
Don’t lose it.
Your wife cannot see you lose it.
We don’t know exactly what happened until we are able to see and talk to someone.
She’s alive, concentrate on that.
I am supposed to protect her, why can’t I protect her?
You can’t take my little girl away from me.
I coming for you sweetie…
Just hold on for me, just hold on.
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you]
Did I do something wrong?
Why would my Captain need to talk to me?
Somethings wrong, my sister.
I’m in the army.
Water running over me holds no comfort.
Empty barracks, deafening silence.
I’m being sent home?
Pack my bags.
When did the world take on such a dream-like existence?
Just get me there.
I can feel you.
I can always feel you.
I can’t endure this, please God, don’t take away my sister.
I can’t do this without her.
Life means nothing without her.
I feel myself running off the plane.
Where is he, where is Dad?
I see you.
How could you do this?
My stomach burns with rage.
I see your sad eyes and deflated energy.
This is more than broken bones, much, much more.
I’m coming Sissy.
Don’t leave me, don’t you dare leave me.
Stop shaking, please, pull it together.
ICU resembles a maze and I feel myself floating.
I walked past her?
She’s back there?
So many tubes, that can’t be my big sister.
I see my hand interlaced with hers as the screaming machines finally stop.
She’s so helpless.
She’s so broken.
How do I make it better?
I can’t sing, but I have to.
It’s all I can do.
We’re Leaving On A Jet Plane comes pouring out.
I can hear my heart-break, I can feel myself break.
I let go.
Tears wet my face before finding comfort in the arms of my parents.
[here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart]
This is what trauma looks like to them. These are their scars, their nightmare.
I want to thank you for all for your kind words, prayers, strength, and confidence. They help me more than I can express.
This will be my last blog for a couple of weeks while I recover from surgery. I am leaving you with this blog as a request for your help. As you can see trauma does not only happen to one person. During the period of my recovery, I ask you to reach out to support my family by commenting on this website. I will be out of commission for sometime, engulfed in my painkiller state of mind, but they will be living through it every day.
They are my everything. As I work through my fear of being admitted into the hospital, they relive their’s of needing me to be okay. It didn’t just happen to me, and I want you to know how strong and amazing my family is. Thank you in advance for helping me take care of them. It helps to ease my soul knowing they will have you.
For them, with them, because of them,
[i carry (their) heart with me(i carry it in my heart)]
by: E.E. Cummings
Dedicated to: Suzanne, Bob, Lauren Speelman, and all those I carry with me.
Carly Speelman Copyright© 2012
July 18, 2003
You don’t know me, but I know you better than I know myself. Let me start by saying there is no one that will ever understand, love, and cherish you the way I do. I know your heart, I know your tears, and I know your strength. You may not believe it now, and to be honest, I’m not sure I believe it, but everything happens for a reason. These words will get you through more pain, suffering, and unhappiness than you could ever imagine. You will believe it, because in your darkest times it’s all that you have.
You may be asking yourself why I am reaching out to you now? Unfortunately, what is done can never be changed, but I want you to know that you are not alone. We are the same, you and I. We have the same big heart, quirky sense of humor, and longing for something bigger and better than ourselves. Right about now, you are feeling frustrated because your shopping expedition to find the perfect outfit this weekend is not going as easily as you’d might like. I know that every part of you feels the need for change in your life, so take a deep breath and buy the very first pale pink tube top you will ever own. I’m sorry to say that when you ask for changes, be very careful my love, for God does not do simple exterior wardrobe alterations, but He will answer prayers.
You’re excited to go out with the girls tonight, and the thought of the weekend has you almost giddy. Not only are you going to one of your favorite islands on Lake Erie, but your parents are meeting someone very special to you. Tonight will be more amazing than you could have ever hoped for, and have meaning beyond your wildest dreams. Even though your roommate’s insistence on taking pictures annoys you at first, just know that those pictures will hold memories you will cherish for years to come, as these last pictures will capture some of the greatest memories of your life.
Tomorrow morning you will wake up late, and your significant other will be running even further behind causing an overwhelming irritation. This is one of those times you will later look back on and realize how true the phrase, “everything happens for a reason” really is.
Driving in your red convertible Pontiac Sunfire, top down of course, you are thinking this day couldn’t be more perfect while saying a silent prayer to God thanking him for the blessing to enjoy the day. When people ask you later what you remember thinking before the fateful moment you will find it hard to answer. Who would have expected…gratitude.
A loud crushing sound of metal invades your ears, you will feel confused and shocked. This blend of metal, glass, and bones, crashing together will later be defined as the car accident that changed your life. With an aching heart and fresh tears, I want you know that you are not alone. It is important that you know this because after all of the sounds and smells have subsided and terror sets in, you will sit in silence and wonder if anyone will ever find you. Pain will encompass you as your fear incapacitates. I wish I could promise you that it will be over soon, but in reality it will take countless volunteers 2 hours and 45 minutes to finally free you from the car. During this deafening silence, you will think of those you love, memories you cherish, and words you wish you had said. You’ll say prayers asking if your family could make it through if you so effortlessly gave up. As you struggle to breathe you will wish you could do it all over again. This time maybe less cautious, without fear, more love. You will pity yourself for all of the experiences you may never have; soul mate, kids, house, family, white picket fence. You’ll realize at this moment how much you truly want all of those things and find yourself feeling silly for ever doubting it. Some may say later that your will to keep breathing, to never give up, to stay alive, was your strength and yours alone. Only you and I will know that a recently deceased angelic grandmother would be sitting beside you in that car. In all your moments of fear, sadness, and pity their she was hold you close with all her love until help arrived.
As you will come to find this journey takes on a life of its own and none of it will be easy. As I sit here typing I am preparing for yet another surgery in hopes of replacing most of what you and I physically lost that day. We’ve come so far you and I, and I just wanted you to know how proud I am of you. Only twenty-three and life as you know it will forever be changed. In turn your gift is finding out what inner strength truly is.
I can’t take it away, change it, or make it easier for you but I would like to leave you with a bit of hope. Nine years, two months, and fifteen days later you will look back on July 19, 2003, and realize how far you’ve come, how much further you can go, and the comfort brought about when you realized that this day was not the day you nearly died, but the day you learned to survive.
Love Always, Always
October 4, 2012
Carly Speelman Copyright © 2012
This past week I finally received word of when my surgery is going to be. (For those of who don’t know I am having a step-surgery. A link is at the bottom of the page for anyone who would like to learn more about it. Essentially this is when they elongate my small intestines, hopefully turning my ten inches into something more…acceptable.) October 16 is judgment day, and I’m hoping for a bias judge. One that believes I’ve had enough physical pain for one life-time and understands my plea for a minimal scar. I know, scars are beautiful, blah blah blah… Let’s put it this way. If several long, road-map resembling scar’s were what our society thought of as beautiful, then put me on the front of PEOPLE with the label of 50 Most Beautiful Women written across the bottom and call me Heidi Klum. Well…minus the divorce thing, and getting frisky with the bodyguard… Although I’ve seen pictures, and…well…all I’m saying is I can understand the temptation. Off subject, sorry.
Another surgery, another scar, and maybe another life? People have been asking me what I ‘think’ of the situation and the word that comes to mind is cautious. I’ve had the bottom fall out one too many times to let my thoughts wander too far into the future, but I have this feeling…
It resonates just below my ribs in an area fondly known as the solar plexus chakra. This ball, that feels like fire is also known as fear, hope, and anxiety all wrapped up in a tight, annoying package. This fire, when taken as a whole, resembles more of the, ‘I’m getting married’, ‘we’re having a baby’, or ‘I landed my dream job response’. Well….assuming you’re not 15, groom/bride isn’t in the Big House, and your dream job doesn’t involve a pole, pimp, or prison time. You are probably thinking that is great!!! You must be describing excitement! Yes, people do, generally speaking, feel excitement at first glance, but what about later that night, week, month? That’s when this heavily waited ball of energy takes root in your stomach. You’re excited at first, yes…but after the dust settles you start to realize that everything from this point forward will be different. It’s kind of scary really, in the blink of an eye everything changes.
I hear all of you out there thinking change isn’t always bad, and I understand where you are coming from, but I think that anyone that has been through a trauma has a slightly altered perception of change. When you come out the other side of the horrific event many doctor’s refer to as trauma, change has a whole new meaning. No longer does change simply mean new adventures involving new exciting things to do. No…now change becomes the unknown. When you go through something in the trauma category you have seen how dark and scary the world can become, and I’m sorry to tell you that feeling doesn’t ever truly go away… It gets better yes, the fight or flight response gently subsides and you can see those exciting, new adventures. But in the back of your mind it always seems to be an added struggle not to hit that switch of fight or flight. This is the true nature of how the world is after the accident, illness, abuse, etc… Like I said in one of my other blogs, I’ve been recovering for almost ten years I know first hand it does get easier. You eventually learn to understand it for what it truly is… fear. Yes, I’m scared. Surgery is not exactly something that gets easier the more times you do it. Yes, I’m hopeful. Keep knocking me down, I’ll get up believing that was the last time and it will never happen again. And yes, oddly enough I AM somewhat excited.
This excitement seems to flicker like a candle most days, but it is there, and when I sit quietly with myself I can feel that hope and excitement deep inside my heart. Guess that saying ‘Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me’ never really stuck with me because after all this time I still think maybe this time I won’t be knocked down… Maybe this time life without overwhelming health issues can finally start… Maybe this time will be the last time…
Editor Stacy Campbell
Copyright © 2012 Carly Speelman
- Stress and Immunity (dranilj1.wordpress.com)
Gifts come in all shapes, sizes, forms, and times. Sometimes the greatest gifts are those that no actual person gives, but instead is realized by the one they are meant for. Birthdays, holidays, always brought great memories to my family and I, but the best gift I was ever given was the gift I received on what I call my first day of consciousness. I was in a medical induced coma for, give or take a month and a half. I have some memories, most I’d like to forget due to obscene pain, but there are those clips of moments that run through my head when I look back on that period in my life. This gift though, came after. It came when I went from what nurses described as ‘enough pain medicine to kill a small horse’ to ‘ok now lets allow her to remember her own name.’ I had many visitors during that time, in fact for some of that time I would have sworn that my door was actually one of those ‘jump in the spinning wheel and hope the little kid behind you doesn’t get any bright idea’s and decides it’s funny to trap you in’ kind of doors that are the makings of nightmares. Revolving door, yeah, welcome to a morphine dream. There were a lot of people, that’s the point. On the day I ‘woke up’ I was graced with the presence of all the ones I hold close to my heart. Family, best friends, etc, they were all there. You may be thinking, ‘well duh where else would they be’, but when I realized how long I had been out of it, seeing all the ones I loved and finding out that without me they were all okay, well, it was quite the surprise.
I used to delude myself into thinking that if I didn’t take care of it, if I didn’t do it for them, if I didn’t make it better, everything would come crashing down. Have no fear Carly is here! So silly to think I had once convinced myself that if I controlled it, everybody would be fine. I started to think that others couldn’t survive without me. Before this I never understood when others would say, ‘well sometimes you have to let them figure it out for themselves.’ My response being, ‘Are you insane! Have you completely lost you mind? What if something happened? What if they made the wrong decision? What if…..? Yes, it was as exhausting as it sounds, but if I micro managed others, I could protect them…right? One of my favorite lines from a movie came from the animated film called “Finding Nemo” (oh, hush up. it’s funny). Marlin is explaining to Dory that he just doesn’t want to let anything to happen to his son Nemo. Dory, his comical sidekicks response is, “Well that’s silly, if you never let anything happen to him then nothing will ever happen to him.” That hilarious blue fish was right, what a boring life it would be if nothing EVER happened to you!
I woke up that day and realized I was given a very precious gift. Without passing away I was able to see that the people I cared about most could make it on their own. Everyone was fine. I started thinking maybe I didn’t need to worry so much. Maybe I didn’t need to control everything. I looked around the room at the ones I loved and for the first time I truly realized how amazing they are! On this day, for the rest of my life I will look at the gift that would change me forever… knowing… that everybody’s fine.
There are those days when you don’t want to hear polly positive (yeah, I made that up) or negative nelly. Sometimes you just want to hear the truth. So here is the truth. The days in which I am happy to be alive rate about 60-40 to the days in which I wish the car accident would have never happened or ended it all. Surprised? Yeah, well, join the club. I’m not saying I would take my life, I am saying that I look back on that day and think, why was I spared again? What purpose do I serve? My blogs consist of ideas and thoughts spent to improve one’s surroundings, one’s life, but today I don’t feel that way. Today I am pissed and fed up with all of the crap that has come my way since July 19,2003. Today I don’t feel like being strong, I don’t feel like looking on the bright side, today I feel the need to cry and wonder why I am still here. Now before you start sending me self-help books, putting me in contact with a friend of a friend that now lives happily ever after, I want to make one thing clear, my recovery has never ended. When everyone went back to work, school, families, and life before the accident I was still here…..recovering. In that recovery, is the constant realization that an addict and myself may not be so different. Each day is a struggle. Each day is another day I choose to get out of bed. Each day I come up with a reason why my life is worth living. The only difference between and addict and myself is my sobriety medallion is in the form of scars on my stomach, and an addict chose that first day to drink, light, shoot, or snort to get to where they are.What am I addicted to? Myself before the accident. The carefree, hope-filled, immortality that I so greatly miss. I want that ‘in college thinking the world is my oyster if I just work hard and go get it’ aspect of myself. I miss the life that didn’t revolve around eating, sleeping, taking pills, and setting up camp in the bathroom. I miss my only tough decision being what outfit to wear or the term paper I have due next week, not which doctor I think would do the best job at cutting me open for surgery. Before, I used to relish in the fact that when others found out of my accident and the tremendous feats I’ve overcome their first response is, ‘ Well you look great, in fact had you never told me, I never would have known!’ I was proud of myself that I fooled everyone. What I didn’t realize is after ten years of fooling everyone, the only person I was pulling one over on was myself. Fake it till you make it….right? Not so much. At first I thought God was trying to teach me about control. Showing me front and center that we have very little and need to let someone else take the wheel. Judge me if you want, but I love the song ‘Jesus take the wheel’ by Carrie Underwood so much that each time I hear it, it brings tears to my eyes. I have wanted ever since to give up control, let someone else make the decisions but in the end I’m always asked to make the tough decisions myself. Meditation, prayer, patience, tried it all… In fact preached it all, but in the end it always comes down to me. Maybe I’ve been missing the point. Maybe I need to take back more control…but I’m over disappointment and the realization that the road closed sign won’t be taken down until it’s good and ready. I’ve spoken of it before about having down days, this is one of mine. I don’t have any clever catch-phrases or words of wisdom just the realization that maybe you and I are not so different. These days aren’t discussed in great detail because we should be ashamed of ourselves for thinking this, right? How ungrateful we are. Yeah, well, I don’t believe any of that nonsense. When you go through the toughest of the tough you do it by not accepting your fate as reality and keep pushing till it’s over. With all the grateful to be alive days also comes the purpose was to survive before, but I’m healed, what now?
As I stretch my arms overhead I close my eyes and absorb the sunshine uninhibited by passing clouds. I begin my approach. One, two, three, spring! Assuming the diving position, my body pierces the clear, chlorine treated water that awaits below. I begin freestyle laps.How many meters I wonder, after having watched so many amazing athletes raise the bar yet again of what deserves a Gold Medal? I have no idea. Lap after lap, I lose myself in my movements.
I break, look towards that beautiful sunshine that warms the soul thinking how lucky I am that I have a moment to embrace this instances of beauty. I take a deep breath and plan to resume my laps as a I feel something softly brush against my legs. Odd i thought, why would I be feeling something resembling seaweed found in the ocean in a standard, unoccupied, swimming pool? I look to see what it is when I feel it slowly wrap around my ankles and give a violent pull towards the bottom. Tighter and tighter it envelopes my legs and I find myself lifting my chin towards the sky to take one last final breath. Down I go thinking I must touch the bottom soon, right? Further and further I’m pulled exhausting my previous determination, fight, and will-power to save myself. I struggle, whirling myself in a circular motion hoping to find a way out. I’m panicking. Too many bubbles, To much I can’t see. Which way is up? I’m scared and alone and the more I struggle trying to recover on my own the more confused I become.
Finally my body begins to shut down. My lungs are burning and I know I’m running out of time. Finally, I accepted my fate and conceded defeat. I have lost the will to keep trying. In my mind I’m screaming, ‘YOU WIN ALRIGHT!!!! I THOUGHT I COULD REACH THE SURFACE ON MY OWN BUT I CAN’t. I GIVE UP!!!’
If I wasn’t encompassed by water my face would surely be wet with tears. I let my body go limp, stopped thrashing, and excepted my fate. The water begins to settle almost rewarding me for giving up, when suddenly I see a hand, outstretched, just within my reach. Who’s there? Was that hand there the whole time? With all the confusion and thrashing to get free I hadn’t noticed this hand waiting patiently to help pull me back up. I see that hand and wonder, what am I fighting for? What awaits beyond the surface of the water that I thrashed, screamed, and fought so hard for. What is this constant pull towards the bottom? How do I know I won’t be pulled back down again? That moment, suspended in time, I found myself asking if I thought I was worth saving and whether or not I wanted to be saved. Before it was instinct, a primal urge to survive, but now it was a choice. Do I really want to try again? Do I want to be saved? I try so very hard to do it on my own, but after all this fighting for survival there was that one hand asking me if I wanted help.
I awoke from my dream choking, sobbing, and asking a dark silent room, why? I think everyone, whether in a dream or reality, is often asked themselves, ‘are we so determined to thrash, fight, and struggle, without asking for help that we would rather be pulled down into the darkness’? Why are we so scared to ask for what we need? I thought about this and came to the conclusion that for me, it is admitting that I’m vulnerable, not always self-sufficient, and hold the phone…flawed. I’m human, being flawed is a prerequisite. Friends and family already know this about me, yet still I feel the need to pretend that I’m always strong, never need help, and… perfect. All the effort pretending to be something I’m not is exhausting, and the only person I’m fooling is myself. Now, please don’t misunderstand, I am not trying to be Negative Nelly, just honest and uninhibited. I know that I have many moments of great strengthen, let’s face it with this deck of cards you pretty much have to be. I know that when push comes to shove I will ask for help, just in my own, waiting till the very last moment possible, kind of way. Either way I have a long way to go when knowing how to ask for help.
I cried for a while after that dream. For what? I’m not completely sure. Maybe I was sad for the times I wasted never asking for help, never seeing that open hand waiting for me to grab hold. Maybe I was upset for the thought I had during the dream of just giving up, admitting defeat, and excepting my fate. Or maybe, I was crying in relief…for that one outstretched hand….just within reach…that I chose to take.
Copyright © 2012
Robert Frost chose the road less traveled by to find his destiny. I know the road well, and have to say in that beautiful poem he failed to mention that there are times when you stumble on an under construction signs creating road blocks. Road blocks are those moments when you want to keep moving forward only to realize that stupid orange and white wall will not let you through. I have tried many avenues to try to get past this wall, and let me warn you, the result isn’t pretty. Running as fast as I can to try to break through lands me on my ass . Pushing with my heels dug in and my body almost parallel to the road this time landing on my face from pure exhaustion wondering why God doesn’t seem to like me too much today. Stuffing my hands into my pocket, whistling the ‘I’m not doing anything wrong’ melody, launching into a fake then reverse attack only to find out this stand-off has already been decided by divine timing, and I was not victorious. No matter how I approach it, or what end I land on, I always end up feeling like an ass.
What do I mean when I say divine timing? That higher power that decides when, how, and where your next phase of life should take place. Divine timing seems to take the position of ‘back seat driver’ in my journey through life. You know, annoyingly telling you where to park, when to make a left, and then, when you choose to take a right only to find out the path would have been shorter had you listened, divine timing is right there to point out how right they always are. Frustrating and unnerving?…Absolutely. Having said that though, I try harder to listen now, realizing that I have wasted a lot of time and energy not listening only to end up back in the place that I started. Sure I’ve had experiences that I wouldn’t change for the world but sometimes I wish i would have figured it out a little sooner thus feeling further along in my journey through life. The philosophy is that everything happens as it should but sometimes I think if I would have slowed down, listened, actually entertained the idea, things might be different now.
I am still waiting to find out when my surgery is, and yes it weighs on my mind. It feels as if I’m at another annoying road block and that orange and white striped wall isn’t going to let me through till its good and ready. This time I’m not running at it in frustration, nor am I trying to pull any Barry Sander’s (famous running-back in the NFL) move on it either. This time I will wait, listen, and hope that under construction wall lets me through quicker than usual acknowledging and appreciating my new-found patience.
Carly Speelman Copyright © 2012
A little eight year old girl stood backstage in anticipation of her first dance recital. It was her classes turn on stage, and the little girl waited feeling the excitement from the crowd compiled parents and siblings. She walked to her spot, took a deep breath, and watched as the curtain lifted knowing this was the point of no return. The music started and the dance was underway. She knew all of her steps and the class stayed in perfect time with the music. All of the sudden a defining moment was upon this little girl. A back-bend from a standing position to the floor then returning to the original standing position. The little girl was not the most flexible, in fact her back-bends resembled more of a plank rather than an arc. Bending back and standing back up was this little girls arch nemesis. It didn’t matter how much she practiced, or how often she stretched, this particular movement had no guarantees of success.
In that moment she threw her head back searching for the floor and hoping her scrawny arms would be strong enough to break her fall. As her hands connected with the floor she was grateful that once again her arms didn’t let her down. Now, she just needed to get back up. She rocked back and forth, gaining momentum, in her first attempt. Unfortunately the momentum was not enough and her hands once again landed on the stage. She thought of what her teacher had told her, that if she was unable to get back up, she should just continue on with the rest of the dance as if nothing had happened. In that one moment the little girl could feel the tension in the crowd, the silence of even the smallest breath, and the sheer hope coming from the direction of her family. One more try, she thought, I can do this, everyone is watching. Rocking back and forth, gaining the much-needed momentum she used her strength of mind and body to carry her to an upright position. She had done it! This little girl, in front of a lot of people, showed what she was truly made of! She stood there with an enormous smile on her face as she watched the crowd roar with cheers and whistles! Pride and accomplishment overwhelmed her as in that moment the crowd’s applause was for her and her alone.
I was that little girl, and to this day I think of her often. She had the chance to give up but instead, decided to keep fighting. Because of this, I have decided to have the surgery to elongate my intestines in hopes of improving my quality of life. I would like to say that I’m not scared because this isn’t my first rodeo, but lets face it, one never gets ‘good’ at surgery. The recovery time is better than I had anticipated, and hopefully this will be the last surgery for a while. My doctor, also known as my angel, will be performing it at the Cleveland Clinic sometime in August. I am grateful that he saw the cruelty in his words and apologized for the way he handled the situation, for without him I feel lost. My confidence in him has been restored and I hope this surgery will be a huge success.
In August I will once again take the stage and gain momentum until I can stand up on my own once again. I will do it for that little girl who wouldn’t give up, for the sheer hope of my friends and family, and the confidence in knowing that after all of the trials and tribulations I will once again hear that crowd cheer, if only for a moment, just for me.
Copyright © , 2012 Carly Speelman
Today marks a very important memory for me, the day of the car accident nine years ago. So many emotions happen on during day that making sense of them is pretty tough. Having said that even though I may have lost my words on this day, someone quite famous has written a blog that was heart-opening and spoke to me in a way that helped me take a deep breath and embrace the day. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and understand the magnitude of this decisions as well as the frustrating feeling knowing that someone or something is in the driver seat. Analyzing this moment you feel that it’s almost cruel that you have this one defining moment to decide your own fate. I can honestly say I’ve been through it before, several times actually, and it is never easy but one that must/deserves respect. Here is the link that helped me take a deep breath http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20612924,00.html
Copyright © , 2012 Carly Speelman
Things have been happening so fast lately that sitting down to explain it seems impossible. Everyday has not been easy, yet I really put a lot of effort into keeping a positive attitude, but lets face it, with all of this luggage to carry around dark days are going to happen.
I went back to the doctor that was explained in ‘Why I Named It Marry Rich and Have Babies’ located in the top left of the page, and have decided there is another surgery in my future. I never thought I would ever go back there, my pride would not tolerate that, it would have to be something amazing, a miracle of sorts for me to even entertain the idea. Ask and you shall receive. My mother decided to write a letter to the doctor and I decided the best way to explain it is to have you read the letter. It is an exact copy, aside from the doctor’s name, as what my mother had sent.
Before you read this, I would like to speak from the heart for a moment. The life in which my mother describes is that of me on my darkest days, and quite frankly, me without any protective walls guarding my sensitive self. So please be gentle with this information as it is me…. completely exposed and vulnerable.
Dear Dr. K,
I am writing in hopes that you will understand the ramifications of Carly’s last appointment with you, which was approximately four months ago, that has left her feeling as if there is no reason to live, which is why I am writing you. I am at a loss as to what to do to help her and how to give her some hope at this juncture.
This is what we understood prior to our last appointment with you:
Carly was living in NC and was trying to work, but even working part-time was putting her in the emergency room every two weeks for infusion due to low levels of either potassium, dangerously low magnesium or both. When we came to see you approximately in September of 2011, you told us to move Carly back to Ohio so you could help her by doing some tests and see about this option of elongating her intestines. At that meeting in September you told us that you would do some tests to see exactly how much intestines Carly has left now, and that there was a procedure now to lengthen the intestines which could change Carly’s absorption level and allow her to live a more normal life. We have always been told she has about 10 inches left. In fact, we were told by Carly’s GI doctor, whom you hooked her up to see back in 2003-2004. This doctor even told us he did a symposium/lecture on a person surviving with only 10 inches and no transplant or TPN (Total Prenatal Nutrients). I am sorry, but his name escapes me.
As soon as Carly’s lease ran out in NC, we started the process of getting her Medicaid changed to Ohio so we could come see you. After moving back to Ohio, it took three months for the Medicaid to process and change from NC to OH. Carly was doing nothing but waking up, eating, and when feeling good, getting groceries and visiting friends. Obviously, when Carly came to the hospital in December her blood work showed normal levels of potassium, magnesium, etc. due to no exertion or activity for the prior 3 months. But we know from her past that if Carly had been working even 4 hours a day, the blood work would have been as we previously discussed of dangerously low potassium and magnesium which had the ER doctors in NC worried about her heart, therefore the constant need for infusions. If Carly had tried to continue to work, they were even talking about setting up infusion every two weeks after checking her levels to prevent the low levels of magnesium and potassium in hopes of preventing the terrible pain and cramping of her hands and face. Unfortunately even part-time work was not an option with all the amount of absenteeism due to her health issues and infusion every two weeks was drain and hard on her veins. When Ohio finally came through with the change, we came to see you in December of 2001.
This is what we heard at our last appointment:
So we were so hopeful to finally see you after all the hurdles with the move, insurance, etc. to get her back to the state that allowed you to see her by your hospital insurance rules. At our second appointment you said Carly looked good and your solution was, “find a rich guy, get married, and have babies”. Carly and I were so taken back, that we wondered where Dr. K was, because the man we heard talking did not resemble the caring physician that we had come to respect so much over the years, to believe and trust his word, and love. Why did we exert soooo much effort to move Carly back, switch all her doctors and Medicaid back to Ohio to hear this comment form you, when previously you comments had led us to believe something so entirely different? We were devastated to say the least. All the hope and promise of another option of getter better, working even part-time, or having a somewhat normal life for Carly. Getting married with her disability is not exactly a magnet for attracting a nice guy, let alone one that can handle all her health issues at this juncture. Oh there have been plenty of guys as first, but when they see a day in the life of “Carly”, they tend to get “the deer in headlights look” and eventually tell her that they cannot handle all of her health issues. And yes, I have told her that she has not found the right man, but this happens over and over again for the last 9 years.
Since the last meeting 5 months ago, Carly feels she is not living and she has lost hope of getting better to where she can have a somewhat normal life. She believes she is a burden to us and is unable to be a productive person in society. You took “hope” away that day last December and I was then and am now scared that Carly is going to one day feel that there is no point in living without any hope of change. She told me she always worried that someday you would say there is nothing else we can do for you and last December that day came to pass.
I am writing in hopes that you would reconsider the options or lack of options for Carly. I am even willing to be tested to see if I can donate part of my intestines to her as an option. Please know that Carly does not know I am writing you and wants no pity from anyone, but I love my daughter and would do anything for her as I know you would for your sons, therefore I hope and pray that somehow there is still a chance for a better life for our Carly.
Me….exposed and vulnerable, yet hoping to take the next step to self-acceptance. I guess miracles really do happen, and sometimes they come from the heart of a mother.
Copyright © , 2012 Carly Speelman
Time to make yet another appointment. After two rings I am greeted by a voice I know but have never met. What I meant to say when she asked me how she could help was, ‘I have been a patient of Dr. B for about a year.’ What came out was, ‘I have been patient WITH Dr. B for about a year.’ Wow! Holy Freudian slip! I got off the phone and realized I had never noticed before that the word for a person under a doctor’s care was the same as someone who waits under trying circumstances. This piqued my curiosity. I decided to look up the meaning of the word patient when used as a noun. It means a person who is under medical care or treatment. The definition of patient when used as an adjective is bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, and pain, with fortitude, without complaint, anger, or the like. Funny, I feel all those things when I am at the doctor! Although, at times there is some anger involved. What? I never said I didn’t need to work on my patience. The origin of the word patient means ‘one who suffers’. I guessed when viewed from that perspective we should appreciate the fact that we were warned of their intentions long ago, I just didn’t get the memo till yesterday. Was this the initial intention? If so, who came up with it? What else could they predict so far in the future? From what I understand of the history of doctors is it wasn’t always this way. They came to your house, stayed when necessary, even considered to many a family friend. Now I am not saying this should be the norm once again, population hinders that approach, but maybe a happy medium?
Let’s first begin by changing the name of the person being seen by the doctor. Patient… patient… I got it PRIORITY! Priority seems perfect! ‘Doctor, your next priority is in room 2.’ Yes, I like the sound of that! Just a little reminder given to the doctor before he enters his next room that we are not to be thought of as someone who is willing to wait. Nor one who suffers. Someone who deserves special attention sounds just fine to me. I appreciate how it seems to level the playing field a bit, while also giving us the power to play an active part in our health. You’re the doctor, I’m the priority. Yeah… I could get used to that.
All of this play on words got me thinking. The place that a priority(see how well that works…) goes to is called a practice…. Nope you read that correctly. It’s called a PRACTICE not a PERFECT. Now there’s a thought. Don’t you think it would be greatly beneficial if doctor’s were more aware that they are always learning, changing, and growing? Hate to break it to you doc, but there is a definite reason they don’t call it a perfect. Nothing is. Having said that let me be clear. I don’t want our doctor’s to be perfect, that only leads to detrimental god complexes that never does anyone any good. I don’t want my doctor to be practicing, that should be reserved for the game of football and learning piano. What I think it should be called is a PROCESS. The definition of process is a method; a series of actions to achieve a result. This definition allows for error yet can illuminate the idea of working together for a desired result. This seems fitting, appealing even, to breaking the barriers that have been built between doctors and priorities in hopes of a more team friendly environment.
The next time I have to go to the doctor’s process for one of my appointments, it might be entertaining to correct everyone that refers to me as a patient. I’ll say ever so polite with a smile on my face, yet an undertone of nonnegotiable attached to every word, ‘Today, I’m not feeling very patient, you may refer to me as, a priority…’
Copyright ©, 2012 Carly Speelman
You roll over to a screaming alarm clock glance at the time and hit the button on the right to postpone the inevitable. Who decided on the sound that became our wake up call? Did they put a bunch of people in one room and ask them to pick a noise that reminded them of nails on a chalk board, screeching forks against glass plates, and a baby crying all rolled into one obnoxious sound? If so… Bravo! Mission accomplished.
You wake up, stumble into the shower and begin you everyday bathroom ritual. Get dressed grab your life support also known as coffee and sigh at the 30 minute rush hour commute waiting for you beyond your driveway. Your day begins and you find yourself somewhat irritated by the minute to minute schedule your entire life has become. As a society we spend so much time on what we have to do there is not enough time to spend on what we want/need to do. I know what your thinking… Yes that is the idea behind weekends, but the busier we become during the week the busier our weekends are. The time left for ourselves disappears quietly into the abyss and we wonder why our tolerance level is not what it used to be.
My sister called me one day last week and sounded down, not like herself. I asked what was wrong and she said she was having a down day. The transition out of school into the working world hadn’t been going the way she had hoped. There was nothing I could do to make her feel any better so I said the first thing that came to my mind. Sometimes it’s okay to take a day. I explained to my sister that by giving herself a pass today, she can then embrace the idea that tomorrow she will feel better, more rested, and the troubles of life will not seem so overwhelming. The idea behind this is that when we have a down day we tend to prolong it by beating ourselves up for feeling down in the first place.
I came to this revelation after having to deal with the same concept relating to my health. There are some days I am unstoppable! Yet there are others when getting out of bed after a long sleepless night seems impossible. I started to notice that when I wasn’t feeling well I would then feel worse for not having what I would consider a productive day. I was encouraging a pattern of turning what should have been one day of rest into a week of stress, upset stomach, and overall exhaustion. The more I beat myself up for having a bad day the more my entire week suffered. This is when I decided that sometimes it okay to take a day. Let yourself be sad, mad, down, sick, lazy. Whatever you mind, body, and soul are trying to tell you. Accept that it is okay to be human. Imperfect. With our fast-moving, never truly done working, lifestyle it is no wonder our tolerance for others as well as ourselves is nonexistent! This is why when sitting in rush hour traffic we fantasize about having a forklift attached to the front of our cars allowing us to gently pick up the vehicles ahead of us and tossing them ever so efficiently into the ditch below. Wait…. That’s just me? Well you get the idea. I’m sure you have devised some daydream that allows your miles per hour to reach beyond that taunting 20mph that defines rush hour.
So I ask, what is the point of beating ourselves up? We are already down, now we feel the need to put guilt on top of it! Let yourself feel whatever it is that you need to feel. Acknowledge it. Own it. We can not let go of something if we never allow ourselves to feel it in the first place. It leads me to think that this small, fierce, emotion that is guilt may be a contributing factor in why we have so much depression in our society. We feel guilty about letting ourselves feel down thus beginning the vicious cycle of turning what could have been one day into several weeks, months, years. I have searched and searched and I am here to give you the great relief that there is no one that is happy every minute of every day of their life! You hear that! Everyone feels this way at some point in their life!
I am happy to report that since my sister’s down day she has recently acquired a job that she defines as being her perfect fit! I’m so proud of her! This makes me wonder though. If my sister would have turned her one down day into a down week would she still have found this amazing job? Guess we will never know, but I’d like to think her situation changed so quickly because she allowed herself to feel what she needed to in order to let it go.
The next time you have an off day, slow down. Let yourself be down. Deal with it and let it go. When that sneaky, destructive, emotion called guilt starts creeping in remember, sometimes it’s okay to take a day.
Copyright © , 2012 Carly Speelman
- June 7, 2012 – A Day at a Time (cmmacneil.wordpress.com)
I have been getting some comments/emails from readers wondering why it has taken me so long to write again. Let me say, thank you for your caring curiosity! These past couple of weeks have been difficult. When faced with adversity I feel that people either react in one of two ways. They either lash out, or withdraw into themselves. As it should be clear to most by now, I withdraw. This may not be the best course of action but it has become a habit. I love you all, and want to share all, it’s just…sometimes I have a hard enough time keeping my own mental and emotional stress level down, that anything more on top of that seems impossible.
Many deal with stress in different ways such as, exercising, keeping themselves busy, drinking, smoking, and lets face it, sleeping. All of these things, be it destructive or not, result in the inevitable temporary fix in our moment to moment lives. What if it wasn’t just your mind you had to control? What if it were the acid response of your stomach? Or a lump stuck in your throat your just can’t seem to get rid of? You see, for me it is not just my mind that needs a good talking to. When I am upset or stressed, my physical body and my emotional self, seem to have a very opinionated say in the matter as well.
I have discussed in previous posts about what impact food has on my body. Stress also has a sassy way of establishing its own control over my health. I will not go into all of the gruesome details, I have had enough of that in the post First Rounds On Me. More than anything, when stress plays a role in my life, my stomach seems to be making all the decisions. Mainly I have trouble eating anything at all. My stress can get so extreme it can lead to several days without keeping down anything other than powerade, smart water, and ensures. Not an ideal way to live, I will give you that, but what can I do? Stress is a part of life? Right?
Finding meditation and stress-relieving yoga was for me, a much-needed answer. It is not intense. It doesn’t involving long periods of time. Instead it’s a series of moments that I devote to being present and letting go. I feel better when I’m meditating and going through my yoga routine, even though it is not something that cures me for the rest of the day. Since it is not realistic to think i can spend every moment meditating, I will still have those times when I am nauseous and not able to eat. Having said that, I have come to deal with stress in the following way. When it seems to be getting the best of me, and my tummy is making all the rules, I can look back on the meditative moments and smile. If only for a spell, I was in complete control.
(On a side note: I would like to say Happy Birthday to my amazing sister! She is not only my happy thought, confidant, and best friend, but my strength and inner voice that helps me to appreciate each day. Lauren is also an avid meditator as well as an amazing Fitness/Life Coach. She’s awesome! Her, as well as my loving family, are why I have become the person I am today, and for that I am eternally grateful.)
*Please be sure to check out the links under blogroll on the right side of the page. One of them is a link to the DVD that I use for Stress-Less Yoga and the other is an article about Yoga and the Medical world.*
- Meditation: A Simple Way to Manage Stress (massageenvycentralfl.wordpress.com)
Copyright © , 2012 Carly Speelman
Today I went to Giant Eagle Market Place in Upper Arlington, Columbus Ohio. For the past three days my appetite has been lacking to say the least. I FINALLY woke up this morning HUNGRY!! I did a few errands then migrated to the grocery store. I was getting ready to check out when the woman who couldn’t have been more than 5 years older than I asked me, in a state of amazement, if all the food I had in my basket was just for me? I answered hesitantly, yes, it was. She proceeded with the common response, what do you work out every minute of the day? Tell me your secret, how do you eat like this and still stay so skinny. unfortunately, normally, in this situation I would nod my head and play my bill. This time I stopped. I thought about what this meant to the woman who what asking me the question. I envisioned it being much like the questions everyone asks when a celebrity loses a large amount of weight in a short amount of time or when they pop out a baby 1 months before and look like they have never carried a child before in their life. Everyone wants to know the secret. Everyone wants to be skinny. I’m no celebrity but at that moment I had a woman who looked as if she would try every diet known to man and was looking at this costumer who had in her basket a personal size pizza, chill with cheese, a blueberry smoothie, a huge salad loaded with egg cheese and bacon, and a smart water, wondering how she maintained her slim 135lbs figure. Well, truth be told it was 129 lbs due to my last bout of upset tummy syndrome. I couldn’t look at this woman and shake my head in agreement. I decided she needed to know the truth. I explained I was in a car accident that took most of my insides. Yes, it was all for me. No, I did not work out every minute of the day. I could see in her eyes that I was no longer the woman who was blessed with an amazing metabolism, I was the woman who worked very hard to keep the 135 to stay alive motto I had adopted long before. Not her perception, not what she assumed I would be, but the person that had to eat all the time just to have enough energy to get out of bed in the morning. Her dieting problem was met with my malnutrition problem. For that moment, she experienced the other side of the coin. She then look down a little embarrassed and told me I looked great and that she won’t be asking for anymore crash-diet solutions. I in no way wanted to make her embarrassed, or ashamed for asking. I told her that at the end of the day all we want is to feel good about ourselves. Not our Pamela Anderson part of ourselves, but our true, happy, body, mind, and spirit self.
I thought about it as I was leaving and realized that finding out what that means to each individual could be the hardest diet one could ever be on. Truly sitting with ourselves and listening to what we want out of life, love, success, and spirituality may be the unwritten first rule of dieting. Maybe that is why many of them do not work. If you want to make changes start by listening and being your own best friend. You might be surprised that being a best friend doesn’t involve turning into a size 2, bleach blond-haired girl, with fake anything. It might just be you. Finding yourself. Listening hard enough, that the beautiful person your are on the inside may create the amazing person you are to become on the outside.
Copyright © , 2012 Carly Speelman
I’m sitting at a restaurant with one of my good friends when it becomes my turn or to order my meal. Burger medium, add mushrooms and extra cheddar, no onions, extra pickle spear, and fries on the side. Seventeen words it took me to order what I wanted to eat!! It was then my friend’s turn to order. Club sandwich, fries are fine. Really??? Really??? Four words compared to my seventeen???
Before I continue I should explain what the end result of my car accident entailed. After 6 months in the hospital and a two-year recovery period I was still left with only 10 inches of my small intestine and 2/3 of my large intestine. Some may guess what the end result might be, but for those of you that don’t, I will attempt to explain to the best of my ability while keeping some dignity. For dignity’s sake I have come up with a glossary of words that will be replaced with more… um… user-friendly words. Silly? I know, but it makes me feel better.
Bar=Bathroom Play/Playing A Song=Vomiting/Throwing Up Order Another Drink=The Runs/Diarrhea Party= Painful Bloating
Ok…. Deep breaths… I’m doing this to help others…. I’m doing this to help others….. So embarrassing…. this better help others!
On average I go to the Bar anywhere from 4-8 times a day. Believe me it is exhausting as well as expensive. Eating is the way I survive therefore I do it often. I’ve tried other avenues such as feeding tubes and TPN(Total Prenatal Nutrients please click on the link below to read a blog from someone who still deals with it today) but both have been replaced for different reason’s. TPN attacked my liver so that road is now closed, and the feeding tube is messy and never worked properly. I drink Milk Chocolate Ensure to help supplement as well as Smart Water and Powerade for hydration, but for the majority of nutrients I survive on regular food. At the time, and still true today, there is no handbook to understand and deal with what is referred to as Short Gut Syndrome, and because everyone will react different it is to each their own. Most survivors are either on TPN or a transplant list for small intestines. For me, because of so many previous surgeries that will be discussed at a later date, I have one option. Eat to live. Eat whatever I want. Sounds easy, right? Wrong, this was not an easy process due to the small amount of time I have to digest food as well figuring out which foods my body would tolerate. I started by trying… everything. Anything that sounded remotely appetizing. After almost a two months of no food or even water, this was quite a challenge. After awhile food just stops looking, sounding, or even smelling good. Overcoming my learned repulsion of food was my first step. After that it came down to trial and error.
Some foods made the Bar my local hotspot, while others cause me to Order Another Drink and/or Play A Song all while being miserable from the current Party in my stomach. Keeping a log of meals per day, fluid intake, and listening to my body, I slowly learned what caused my stomach to have a Party, Play A Song, Order Another Drink at the Bar, and what didn’t. I started to see patterns. Foods that caused me to Play A Song were raw onions, cucumbers, most peppers, fresh garlic, and unfortunately beer. Foods that encourage me to Order Another Drink were spicy(duh), most soups, salads, and extremely greasy and fatty meats. Referring back to my previous food order this is what transpires in my mind when I order. Burger, NOT Micky D’s style=Iron as well as Protein, Onions encourage Playing a Song and most veggies are merely decoration on my plate since they are extremely hard for my body to break down, extra cheese=calcium while deterring the urge to Order Another Drink, mushrooms and pickles=for whatever reason are two veggies that my body seems to comfortably tolerate, and fries=because the other option was onion rings. This might confuse some so if there are any further questions as to why things affect me the way they do please comment back so that I might explain them more directly.
It is a well-known theory that one’s taste buds change every seven years. I have entertained the idea that maybe it would be true with my digestion! Over the years I check in on myself every now and again to see if the old rules still remain true. With so many things on the Play A Song and Order Another Drink list check ups help me to reevaluate where my body it is at and how much progress I have or haven’t made. This process usually takes about a week. A 24 or even 48 hour span of time would just be considered cruel and unusual punishment and by some, an attempted suicide. In the past I have been pleasantly surprised with food that have been added to my diet but also brought better insight as to what needs to be added to the No list. Unfortunately this time everything has stayed the same.
I’m still the girl who feels the need to explain that I am not turning down a beer because I prefers wine coolers. I will still be the girl who uses seventeen words to order an entrée when everyone else gets by with four. I’m still the girl who orders extra cheese on everything to keep from Ordering Another Drink at the Bar as often as possible while receiving glares from being the annoyingly skinny girl that doesn’t worry about what I eat, silly them. And I’m still the girl who will keep up with the seven-year check up to reevaluate my digestion.
Paying so close attention to my body gives me a great connection with my physical health, but who knows maybe in the next seven years I wouldn’t be the girl explaining why I can’t have a beer, but instead ordering the first round!
- More about TPN from someone who still deals with it today. Discouraged … again (imstillbreathin.com)
Copyright © , 2012 Carly Speelman
The more difficulties one has to encounter, within and without, the more significant and the higher in inspiration his life will be.
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I went to the doctor as posted before only to be greeted with conformation that if I want to be ‘healthy’ it will have to be on my own. Coming off of the anti-anxiety medicine has proven to be a worthy adversary. Symptoms include feeling feverish, nauseous, migraines, fatigue, and an overall uneasiness. If that isn’t a just say no campaign for drugs, I don’t know what is. I walk in to the office to wait the standard forty five minutes after my appointment time has come and gone. The doctor walks in and asks what the problem is. I explain how I’ve been feeling, explained my short gut situation, and asked politely if it would be possible to have my blood drawn. She had me lay down on the table to exam my stomach. Her first reaction was to ask me what surgeries I had endured in the past due to the roadmap of scars on my belly. Was she not listening? I had just explained to her that as a result of the accident I had lost 90% of my small intestine and 1/3 of my large. Excuse me…Is this thing on?? Ok, fine. I’ll explain it again. Losing my patients, I ask if having my electrolytes tested would be a problem. She said she saw no need and was wondering why I did? Let me pause at this moment to better broaden your understanding of my situation.
The better part of 2011 entailed a regular trip to the hospital because my magnesium had dropped too low. For those who know me, you are aware how much I loath the hospital. For those who don’t, I understand no one likes the hospital, but I spent 6 months inside of one and believe me that was enough. I started paying close attention to how my body felt before the scary low moment came. Usually it began with fatigue that progressed into lack of appetite followed by the inevitable muscle spasms. I knew when muscle spam moment came there was no turning back and the hospital was the only solution. My lack of love for hospitals is where my insatiable appetite came from to pay close attention to what my body was trying to tell me before it was too late.
Back in the doctor’s office, I attempt to explain my past to help her understand the precautionary measure I choose to take to avoid a ‘fill up’ of magnesium at the dreaded hospital. The blank almost annoyed face I received was intolerable. You would have thought I was asking her to shoot me up with morphine or some other highly addictive drug! I wanted my blood drawn and if I’m not mistaking there is no drug induced high that comes for being poked in the elbow with a needle and drawing two vials of blood!!
This whole experience got me thinking. Why am I the only one in that rom to want to be proactive when it comes to my health? If I never would have paid attention in the past I wouldn’t even know that I needed to get my blood tested! Is this how others feel? So many times I have received phone calls from friends prior to their doctor’s visit. They want to know how to speak to the doctor in such a way that they are able to hit the high points, so to speak, before the doctor flew back out the door on into another patient’s room. When did office visit’s become a drive by shooting of our physical health? I thought that understanding more about my health would be beneficial. even praised by most doctor’s! Unfortunately, the more I know the more I am let down by them. At this point most will tell you I should be used to it. Used to being the only one in the room that is actually listening to what my body is trying to tell me. Used to being frustrated with the lack of encouragement and teamwork brought my the doctor’s.
As I left I was told it would take 2 weeks for the results to come back. Awesome. By that time I will have already figured it out with an IV hanging out of my arm. I do take my own measures to try to prevent the hospital stay which mostly involves eating more foods with a high count of magnesium in them and more rest than normal. This is not a fail safe solution but when you have two weeks to find out you will figure out anything to keep the symptoms at bay.
All and all I can’t help but wonder if others experience this regularly or have even noticed when such and encounter was taking place? Please post back with your experiences, opinions, and anything else you might think relates. An office visit SHOULD NOT feel like a drive by shooting.
Copyright © , 2012 Carly Speelman
Just wanted to drop a quick line that I have been working on my next blog but have run into a little snag in the process. Going to the doctor today, please no worries. I’m okay, just a preventative measure to ultimatly avoid the hospital. Thank you for your patience and I will have the new blog ready soon!
When sadness takes over, whether it be from everyday life or a traumatic event, acknowledging that we have control seems an impossible feat. When sadness overtakes me, I tend to drop so far into my own head the world around seems to stop. I’ll go to the grocery store and come back without being able to describe one person I came into contact with. I’ll take a walk with my dog and look up only to realize I’m not quite sure how I got here. I’m so distracted with my own sadness I lose sight of everything else. I have come to realize that this is when the search for the small things become so important.
Rewind to 15yrs ago. Holy hell I’m getting old! Sorry, as I was saying rewind to 15yrs ago. The doctor’s were certain that I had chronic mononucleosis. My days consisted of extreme fatigue and on my bad days an extreme case of what felt like the flu. I was missing school, missing my friends, and missing a life. Needless to say sadness had become a permanent fixture in my day-to-day routine. I remember waking up one day and having no desire or need to get out of bed. My illness had won, my sadness had won, and I saw no need to compete. I heard noises coming from down the stairs. It had to be my mother, father, and sister no doubt. Strike that, definitely my sister. You can always count on her to be happy and loud (Thank God for my sister). I remember feeling irritated at the noise. Didn’t they realize I was sick and trying to sleep!!! I tossed my body in the opposite direction on the bed, having my own little pitiful hissy fit when I started paying attention to what the nature of the noise was. Laughing?! My whole family was laughing! Still in my tantrum hissy fit mode I wondered what the heck was so funny! I threw the covers back and cursed my family with every step I took in my agitated walk down the stairs. I got to the bottom and hid in the dining room to try to hear what was going on without being noticed, therefore giving me the option to head back to my room of sadness. I listened and could only come to the conclusion that something funny was said, and my family was now engaged in one of our endearing laughing fits. I couldn’t help but smile. Me smiling yet I was so angry minutes before content with my sadness in my dark, quiet room. Yet here I was, smiling. Smiling!!! For no other reason than a shared happiness from my family and a loud sister! That day, I walked into the living room and was greeted by laughter and happiness. If it wouldn’t have been for my loud sister(now fondly referred to as my sunshine), happy family, and my irritated curiosity I would have never gone down those stairs. I would have never taken part in my family’s happiness. I look back on that day and realize over and over again how thankful and lucky I am to have a loud sister(sunshine), and a family that made it difficult to sleep. Without them I would have never started noticing the small things.
For a few moments each day take time to notice the small things. The flower that just came to full bloom. The cloud that looks just like snoopy. The door that someone held open for you. The text that makes you smile. The ‘small things’ are all around us, the difficult part is bringing ourselves out of our sadness long enough to notice them. Good luck on your search, I’m sure you will be pleasantly surprised.
Remember, when lost in sadness, search for the small things to make you smile!
Today marks the last day of my ‘numb’ existence. For around 8mts I have been prescribed medicine that made dealing with life tolerable. Heavy anti-anxiety medicine that made it easy to not engage or even care. Was my life that bad? No, but I had given up. I had decided that the ship had sailed and control was no longer my own. I think sometimes that if life had been different I would be different, but I have no idea what ‘I’ would be. If I am not the girl who had a head surgery before the doctors even knew what the response would be? If I’m not the girl who survived a horrific car accident? Who am I?
I have tried many different avenues to recreate what ‘I’ stood for. I went to school and learned about the effects and benefits of health awareness. I enjoyed it but had no idea how to truly apply what I had learned and at that time recovery from the car accident was slow. I went to cosmetology school where I learned how to cut, color, and style hair yet came to a startling end when my already defiant body did not cooperate. In both accomplishments my stubbornness proved unworthy of the decisions made by my physical body. I traveled to the one place that promised to make me better, normal, only to be told to marry rich and have babies because that was the best I could hope for out of my life.
Not anymore. I am here to tell everyone my life is my own as is yours. From that day I decided to take my life and my health into my own hands. I would never tell myself to marry rich and have babies!!! This is my journey that hopefully finds many of you on yours.
I am here to share my story to help others as well as give advice and learn from you in the process!