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Help me, Help her.

25 May

I’ve been feeling a sense of urgency to write but honestly I have absolutely no idea as to how I should approach this cry for help. Every time I sit down to write I feel overwhelmed with emotions. So many memories race through my mind and all sorts of ways to reach out to you come into my head. I’ve been getting so wrapped up in the words I should use that I’ve actually delayed this post. And this post needs to get out there, like a week ago. I’ve decided to stop thinking and to start typing. This may not be my prettiest or my most cleverly worded post but it is the most heartfelt and sincere.

Here is a little back story before I get to the point of this whole post.

I attended MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) Camp through my teen years and had the opportunity to form amazing friendships which are actually more like a family unit. To break it down further, we’re pretty much an underground organization of super heroes, but I am bound by oath to not elaborate. These friends were (and are) a source of community as I struggled through all the crap MD brought me as a child, teen and young adult. They understood my pain, suffering, loss, and every day challenges. They understand the frailty of life, they appreciate each day as if it was their last. Because it could in fact, be their last. They are MY people. And I love them.

Joining this elite group of kids exposed me to many opportunities for growth. We taught each other how to live with pride and how to find happiness in the hand we were dealt. We built each other up throughout the year and looked forward to that one week out of the summer where we came together and didn’t feel handicapped. It was all about us, and having fun. Camp holds a very special place in my heart, as do all the people who attended or volunteered that week.

With all the reward that came with knowing other MD kids it wasn’t apparent to me that this group had a down side. Most MD diagnosis’s come with a life expectancy. At age 15 I was given the number 21. I never put it together that some of my friends, these close friends whom I loved and admired, also had a number placed on them. I was 18 and being healed from the pains of MD when I experienced the heartache and grief that comes with losing a friend. I also felt an extreme amount of guilt. Why was God healing me and not my friends? I felt so guilty that I was pain-free throughout my body, while my friends were getting worse.

The first friend I lost to this disease was a best friend, 7 years ago. Her name is Cassandra and we definitely were a dynamite team. Her wit matched mine, her passion for life was like nothing I had witnessed before and seriously, nothing phased her. She knew her limits and plowed through them whenever possible, she loved adventure just like me. Her and I connected from the day we met, which was my first day ever at MDA Camp. We were bunk mates through the years and inseparable at camp. We continued our friendship through telephone calls, sleepovers and fundraisers. We were a team to be reckoned with! OK, we actually were just sarcastic trouble makers who enjoyed eating all the free pizza…. but we did raise SOME money. I lost Cassandra in 2005 and not many days pass where I don’t think about her. Where I don’t wish that there was a cure for what she had or that God would have healed her too, that I don’t wish I could have made it to her funeral, that I don’t wish I would have returned her phone call sooner. I was two days too late and kept getting her voice mail for a few weeks. It wasn’t unlike her to not check her voice mail, so I didn’t think twice about it. A close friend had to tell me over the phone of her passing. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t breathe. I feel the same sorrow now as I type this. I miss her. I miss her so much.

Soon after I lost Cassandra, I lost another close friend, affectionately nicknamed “Homie”. Homie and I met on my first day of camp as well. He was a “wanna be thug”, as I always told him. He’d wear his bandana and listen to (far too loud) rap music like he knew what was up. But in reality he was the softest, sweetest, most loveable guy I had ever met. We’d hang out when he was in town and I spent the weekend at his house with his family a time or two. I miss him.

Three years ago I lost another close friend, Matt. He was a jokester. He was fun and slightly mischievous. He also loved, no, was obsessed with trucks and race cars. He asked me to my first “Big Boy Dinner” at camp. Every girl wanted to be on the arm of one of the Big Boys (they were the oldest boys at camp, the dinner was always fun and delicious, and we got to dress up!), it was a pretty big deal for us. Whenever I hear the song “Free Fallin” I think of our first dance together, and every dance after then to the same song. Our song. I miss him.

I shared these very personal experiences of loss with you so you can better understand why I am so passionate about the following person. This post isn’t intended to be about loss, it’s about saving a life.

The life of a friend of mine, the life of Susie.

Susie and I met at camp. Since she is 4 years younger than me and in a different cabin, we didn’t have tons of opportunities to hang out. But when we became cabin mates during my final year at camp, I was blessed with the chance to get to know her better. The thing about Susie that stood out to me was her heart. She is kind, compassionate, loving, tender, caring, sympathetic, and sweet. Susie’s heart is what makes her so special!

Last week Susie informed me and all of our friends that she needs a new heart. But in order to get on the transplant list she needs to come up with a huge sum of money to prove she is a worthy candidate. This down payment so to speak will show that she can afford all the costs that come along with receiving a donor heart. For example; relocating closer to the hospital, follow-up treatments, and medications. Currently she has a pacemaker/defibrillator that is keeping her heart from stopping, but this isn’t good enough for the long-term. She needs a new heart to save her life.

I refuse to do nothing when I can do something. I couldn’t save Cassandra, or Homie or Matt. And I know I can’t save Susie all by myself, I need you. I need the readers of my blog. I need the fellow bloggers who enjoy my ramblings and interact with me on a weekly basis. I need the world-wide-web and the people living in it to use all their Social Media Super Powers to get her story out there! I know we can do this together.

Susie’s page can be found here (updated): http://www.giveforward.com/susieslvad  (This is her most recent site, to help her with the expenses surrounding her LVAD while she await a transplant.)

I’m not going to beg for money, although I’m not above that in the least. Today all I am asking of you is that you please post the link above to your Facebook page and encourage others to do that same. Or Send it in a mass email to your friends/family/coworkers urging them to read it and forward it on to their friends/family/coworkers. Or Twitter it (Tweet it? Idk, I don’t do Twitter)…please get the word out there as best you can. If you feel moved to donate, then do so. I thank you from the bottom, top and all sides of my heart for whatever action you are able to take.

This world needs people like Susie, and I need Susie in this world. I nearly fall to pieces thinking about mourning the loss of another friend. Please. Help me, help her. Let’s get Susie on the transplant list!

Thank you.

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The “Period” Card

17 May

As you may know, I usually write fictional stories to go along with my cards. I use the stories to help you understand how or when you might play the card at hand. Some times my stories are extremely relatable, at other times I make them a bit over the top. Either way, I hope to bring you entertainment.

Well today I am giving you a little treat (or making you very uncomfortable). I’m sharing the story of when I was dealt The “Period” Card. With no embellishment, no exaggerating… Just a complete recount of the first time this card was placed in my unprepared hand. If menstruation grosses you out and you do not enjoy period humour, I suggest you read a different card. Like the “I’m in Love” Card. That’s a good, safe one.

Excitement was bubbling out of me. I had been anticipating this day for weeks! My sister, Dad and I were packing for a youth retreat to Stehekin, WA. All of my best friends would be coming, and my crush would be there too! (A guy 4 years older than me and totally out of my league of course) We were going to be carpooling from Omak, Washington to the small town of Chelan, taking a 3 hour ferry ride across Lake Chelan to Stehekin, and hiking a few miles to our campsite.

I had worked up this trip to be the highlight of my summer! And boy was it… But not because I had the best time of my life. Not because my crush forgot about our age difference, confessed his love for me and kissed me under the blanket of stars. No, definitely NOT what happened. *sigh* I ended up avoiding him the whole time…

The initial leg of the youth retreat went amazingly. The ferry was fun, the hike was challenging for me but a couple of the guys took turns carrying my pack. We arrived a couple of hours later and set up camp. We started exploring and having fun like teenagers do in the woods. All of the chaperones were trying their hardest to keep track of us and keep everyone entertained and happy. That night we had a campfire and enjoyed the must-have camping treat, s’mores! Everyone went to bed. I was tenting with my bff and we stayed up giggling and drifted off excited for the next day.

The next day was super fun as well. We went on hiking excursions, played games, had a small bible study in the evening as well as my first snipe hunting excursion, enjoyed a bonfire and more s’mores, as well as singing around the fire. It was great! It was becoming all that I had hoped for. Sleep came to me quickly and peacefully.

When I woke up in the morning, something was wrong. My stomach was in knots and I felt so sweaty. I was wet all over. I could have sworn I had come down with some sort of forest disease. I unzip my sleeping bag to find that it wasn’t sweat all over me, it was (yep!) blood. *Freak out*

After I had thoroughly freaked out with my bff I realized what had begun during the night. Aunt Flow wanted to come camping too. Rude. Besides the utter panic I was feeling, I was so angry! I had been toting around a “just in case” army of feminine hygiene products for months. I knew it could happen soon and I wanted to be prepared. In all of the excitement to go on this trip, I had totally forgotten about my front-line tampons and reinforcement pads. Why oh why, dear God!?!

I needed my Mom but my sister would have to do. The bff brought Leah back to the tent and then got lost because I was looking all sorts of scary, like right out of Carrie. It was everywhere. EVERYWHERE.

Leah was more than helpful and thoughtful. Although this was one of my most horrifying embarrassing memories, it’s also one of my best memories to when it comes to Leah being the sister I needed. Leah went into Tampon and Pad scavenger mode. She was knocking on every tent with a girl in it and pleading for a donation.

2 girls and 1 chaperone had a stash. Out of which I was given 3 pads and a light days O.B. First off, seriously? SERIOUSLY? We have 2 1/2 more days here and I get a days worth of protection. My very close, nearly best,  friend had the biggest hoard of pads. A whole caboodle full, not exaggerating! She gave me 2. Really? For shame. I am half tempted to write her real name so I can get a freaking public apology! …. (Contemplating. Weighing Pros, Cons? Yep, doing it.) BETHANY! 13 years have passed since that dreaded day but I still remember. I love you always Beff. But I still remember…

Leah brought me back what she had scrounged up along with a wet soapy wash cloth. She took all my blood drenched clothes and sleeping bag as I attempted to clean myself in the frigid cold of the early morning. I emerged from the tent to see my sister washing my clothes and sleeping bag in the river. I went to join her and luckily we finished before people started waking up.

We decided my dad needed to know. I was going to run out of bleeding vagina supplies rather quickly at the rate I was going, and the nearest store was a 5 mile hike away. Leah goes over to my dad and discreetly leans in and with a hushed voice says, “Dad, I need to take Lacey to the store.” Now this is funny because when Leah received her period card, my mom said the same thing to my dad.

FLASHBACK 6 years:
My mom to my dad “Larry, I need to take Leah to the store. We’ll be right back.” My dad who was wrapped up in my sister being grounded at the time, was adamant my sister COULD NOT go to the store with my mom. “She is grounded, she’s not going anywhere!” Our mom, who was trying to save my sister from unneeded embarrassment as we had several family members and friends over, kept repeating, “No Larry, I need to take LEAH to the STORE!” As if that was code. A code he obviously wasn’t catching on to. I believe all the women in the room understood and started urging my dad to let her go. Finally, because of his denseness, it was blurted out by our Papa, “She got her period, Larry!” My dad was so confused. Leah was 10!

FLASH FORWARD, or FLASHBACK again? Umm…That’s confusing.

Dad: Why on earth would you need to go to a store? It’s 5 miles away…” (He starts walking towards the group of chaperones)

Leah: Umm Dad, no, I NEED to take LACEY to the STORE. (Giving him a look that says, HELLO REMEMBER, “THE STORE”)

Dad: Leah, I can’t think of a single reason Lacey would need to go to the store. I’m pretty sure it can wait or she can ask around. (Annoyed)

Leah: DAD, Lacey needs to go to the Store. THE STORE, Dad… (Leah’s face is screaming PERIOD! EMERGENCY! THINK!)

Dad: *Light bulb* Oh….. OH! (He walks over to me)
He gives me an awkward hug and steps back before talking to me. He looks at me, realizing his little girl is now a woman. That’s right, I am. A freaking horrified woman. I am wondering why I had been anticipating this day for months? I am wishing so hard that I wasn’t a woman.

He asks if any of the girls had anything, we go over the Kotex Scandal. (talking about you, Bethany) He seems a bit shocked no one wanted to come to my rescue and says we’ll head into town if need be. I go about the day, trying to have fun despite the horrendous cramps and my frustration with a particular friend. (Bethany, that’s you again)
I run out of pads and it’s nearing time for bed. Leah walks me to the outhouse, I take the flashlight in with me. I’m in the dimly lit outhouse, which smells bad enough to start working my gag reflex, unwrapping an O.B.

Me: Slightly panicked but mostly confused, “How do I work this thing?!”

Leah: “Grab hold of it, and with your longest finger push it up inside you.”

Me: “Ew, I have to touch inside?”

Leah: “Duh.”

Me: “…..oops.”

Leah:”What oops?”

Me: “Nothing….” (I had dropped it on the floor of the outhouse. I inspect it with the flash light while straddling the toilet. Blowing on it to get all the funkies off.)

Me: “Oh balls!”

Leah: “You OK in there?”

Me: “Yeah, fine.” (No, not at all)

Leah: “Do you want me to do it for you?” (she was serious)

Me: “What!? Weirdo. No way. You can’t be serious….”

Leah: “Push it up really far.”

Me: “Have you seen my fingers?”

Leah: “I’ll do it for you. I have long fingers.”

Me: “No assistance needed, please. Really. (moments pass)

Me: “It feels weird.” (I walk out wiggling, like its going to improve vaginal comfort)

Leah: “Um, what?” (Leah is looking at me wiggle…)

 

I come outside, completely flustered and a bit bothered. I feel she was a bit too eager to help. I shrug. We start walking. I’m walking weird and it’s obvious.

Leah: “What’s wrong with you?”

Me: “I think it’s coming out, I can feel it.”

We head back to the outhouse. Leah gives me words of encouragement, I hold my breath. I try again, this time a woman chaperone is coaching me as well. Still not up enough but it will have to do. (O.B.’s suck and to this day I can’t use them. Apparently I still have short fingers and honestly, it’s nasty.)We make our way back.

My dad is tying our food up in a tree to keep it away from bears as we approach the site.

Me: “Dad, there aren’t bears around here, are there?”

Dad: “Yeah. They have been getting into the trash around the campground so we’re all suppose to tie up our food.”

Leah: “Bears can smell blood from miles away.”  (Thanks Leah)

The following morning a repeat Carrie scene happens. Wash, rinse, repeat. My friend J lends me jeans as I’ve ruined all my pants. Thanks J, I know YOU had my back. (Bethany? 😛 )

So it was our final full day and I had run out of clogging material. Toilet paper was my last-ditch effort to save myself from embarrassment and J’s pants. But, I’m a bleeder everyone and that just wasn’t going to suffice. Apparently my body was set on making me anemic. My dad and I set off to the store, 5 miles away. Which meant everyone was asking why we were leaving. And everyone found out about my period card. I was so embarrassed.

It started to rain 5 minutes into the walk. SERIOUSLY? I have a wad of toilet paper shoved in my underwear, barely doing the job, and now it’s going to rain. Wait for it… I mean freaking pour. My dad put a poncho over me and my backpack. Not a normal one though, one he made from a trash bag. Thanks dad…

An hour had passed and we came upon a small diner in the middle of no where. I was grateful for the restroom. Maybe they would have one of those machines with tampons and pads! No, they didn’t. We took a little break, I shove more toilet paper up my cooter and we prepare to start walking again. My dad though, being a thinker, decides to ask for a ride to town and offers a couple of people gas money. They all say no. My dad asks one more person who had just got into their truck. An older guy in a pickup with a teenage boy in the front with him. (A TEENAGE BOY? A CUTE ONE! Oh no…please no.) The man was hesitant but my dad was desperate. I see him lean in and overhear, “My daughter got her first period while camping with our youth group. We’ve been hiking for over an hour and I really need to get her to a store. Please.” The guys look back out the window at me. I’m looking obviously distraught, drenched from the rain, with a face as red as cherries from embarrassment. He agrees. We hop into the back of his pickup, and get to the store rather quickly. What a godsend!

After paying an outrageous sum for the tampons and pads, we discovered public showers and I washed the Carrie remnants off me completely!  I felt so much better. We got a campsite in town for the night and waited around the next day for the rest of the youth group to make their way in.

And that, my readers, is the story of when I added The “Period” Card to my womanly hand.

Usage Guidelines: Use to excuse moody behaviour, weight gain/puffiness, laziness, missing work/school/prior commitments, and skipping gym class. Honestly, if you’re on your period and you don’t want to do something this card is the ticket! No one argues with you about its legitimacy, especially men. In fact, the mere mention of your period can make people stay away from you. SCORE! It’s good for something after all.

Expiration: When you are no longer on your period. However, 2 weeks before you can play The “Period” Card you are eligible to use The “PMS” Card. Which excuses irrational behaviour, weight gain and general bitchiness. When The “Period” Card is discarded, you become eligible for The “Menopause” Card. Congratulations Old Ladies.

Question PERIOD: Did you have a horrifying experience upon being dealt your period card? Do you take full advantage of this card or do you keep it hidden and tough it out? Or perhaps you use The “I’m sick but not really sick” Card instead? Share with me! I like to know how my ladies play their cards!

Why A Blog?

17 Aug

First off, let me state that I hate the word Blog. I do not know why but when I say it out loud or even in my head I just cringe. Really? Blog?! I am going to think of a different word to call a blog and never use it again!

I decided to start a blog *cringe* for 2 reasons.

1) My mother, who will be referred to has J, is constantly hounding me about writing a book. “You have so much talent.” “You have such a gift and you are spitting in God’s face by not sharing it with the world!” “Your story could inspire someone!” She gets a bit dramatic about my writing and well, this will appease her. Not a book, no. But it’s so much less nerve-wracking writing in a blog versus sitting down at my computer, all serious and pensive, writing “My Book”. So ok momma… good enough for now? =) I love you.

2) My mom is right. (As she normally is, I’ll admit it) I shouldn’t let a fear of judgement prevent me from sharing my life with friends, family and even strangers. I’ve had an amazing life crammed into 24 years and by sharing it all, I really think I can help someone. I think I can even help myself. Over time perspective can be lost and I need a reminder of how grateful I should be. No challenge I will ever face can be harder than the ones I have already overcome.