The Soundtrack of My Life – 6 – I’m Not Okay

This song is my go-to emo ballad. I scream it at the top of my lungs until every ounce of breath has left them. I’m left gasping for air but it’s well worth it. No song evokes my inner rage more than this. The sudden build up and explosion of music brings to mind a big wheel perched at the top of a steep hill. With an unexpected push, I’m launched forward. My destination is only a hope as I’m hurtling downhill. The plastic pedals and wheels spinning uncontrollably. All I can do is keep my legs elevated out as not to get my pants knotted and twisted. Or, worse, have the skin stripped from my shins. The intro perfectly encapsulates the trajectory of my life from this point.

In a roundabout way I started to tell these little stories linearly. I hadn’t intended to do that, but that’s just the magic of writing sometimes. It takes me where it wants to go. And I blindly follow.

For a very brief moment my life was good. My husband had I had worked out our relationship. I met josh. I had finally passed my real estate appraiser’s exam and received my license. And I graduated Summa Cum Laude with my AA. My outlook was nothing but clear skies. Then began the downward descent.

I was having some pain and decided to go to the doctor. They did a CT scan of my abdomen and it was there that they noticed I had an enlarged prostate. They informed me of this little fact as I was on my way to the eye doctor for what turned out to be a bad case of pink eye. All-in-all it was a lovely day.

They sent me for bloodwork and more tests. At this point I had already decided that I had prostate cancer. What else could it be? I told my husband and boyfriend that I had no desire to treat it. It could lead to erectile dysfunction and I wasn’t about to live that life. Hard pass. (That joke was for us.) Both of them protested. It is one of the most treatable cancers and if left alone could spread to other parts of the body and turn into much more deadly forms of the disease.

After a rough couple months the final diagnosis was I just have an enlarged prostate. Along with an enlarged spleen. Two things no one would ever want to be big. I guess I just have all the luck, y’know.

Crisis averted! However it absolutely opened my eyes to the fear of disease and made me hyperaware of respecting someone’s wishes.

About a year after that my mother began acting very strange. It started with her speech. She was unable to say certain words and would explain how she could see it in her mind but couldn’t verbalize it. We went and had a brain scan done and the doctor ruled it a non-issue. The nurse practitioner recommended memorizing and saying bible verses. (I rolled my eyes so hard at that suggestion.)

Then my mother took a hard left turn. She talked about the walls of the house leaning. The floor feeling wet. And she would not stop shuffling papers. The real moment of absolute horror was when my mother sat and read and re-read the same single piece of paper for 30 minutes. It occurred to me that something was very, very wrong.

We went back and did another scan and in that time she had 7% brain mass loss. An average person with Alzheimer’s is usually at 3%. The next time we saw the doctor it was conclusive. She was in the early stages of the disease. The nurse whispered it to me while my parents sat at the other end of the exam room. Why I was the only one she bothered to tell is beyond me. Don’t you want to tell the person who has it?

Since then it has been every nurse or doctor whispering shit to just me and not her. “She can’t live on her own.” Yeah? Tell her that! My mother doesn’t believe me when I tell her stuff. Of the few things she can say without any trouble is: “that’s what you say.”

I remember the night my mother’s diagnosis became undeniable. I put this song on and screamed it all the way home, crying. All I could think about was how she would have all of her memories, her words, her identity ripped from her. In the end she will basically die because her body will have forgotten how to live.

But you really need to listen to me
Because I’m telling you the truth
I mean this, I’m okay! (Trust me)

One thought on “The Soundtrack of My Life – 6 – I’m Not Okay

  1. I’m so sorry you had to go through this. That must’ve been extraordinarily difficult.

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