When Emotional Chaos isn’t Penciled into My Planner

At the end of December, I spent a laughable amount of time researching planners to make 2017 the year of doing. To help manage my goals in every area of my life, and trying to be more present by actually penciling in time to decompress.

The 2 untouched planners on my dresser remind me how completely unplanned the last 3 months of my life have been. Honestly, shit has been off the rails for the past year in the realm of being blindsided.

But back to the planners. 

So I spent an absurd amount of money because can there really be a price limit on peace of mind and organization? They were delivered in fancy packaging in a box to pretty to throw out, and for an entire night I spent placing glittery stickers and mapping out important things I knew were coming up. With all of the other white blocks left to be filled in, the possibility of unknown felt exciting because it was centered on ideas like trying the recipes I pinned on Pinterest, and a writing schedule to revisit the writings I had shelved away since late summer.

Maybe the planners jinxed me, or perhaps the Universe decided to send me a wake up call that nothing ever will go as planned.

No sooner did I buy the planners, the rails of routine went rouge.

The only items being added to an ever growing list were the unimaginable situations that seemed to be popping up faster than I could deal with properly. Imagine a whack-a-mole arcade game, but replace the plastic rodents with emotionally charged situations springing up without rhyme or reason. Because it wasn’t feasible to take out my aggression with a rubber hammer, my only choice  was springing towards each one at a rapid pace without any plan of attack other than dealing with as best as an unsuspecting person can.

Rather than share my list of big plan for the new year, I find myself only being able to share the list of the completely unplanned clusterfucks…I mean events…that were not penciled into my planners.

Receiving a midday phone call where I found myself face to face with a beloved uncle I had not seen in over a year as he lay hooked up to a ventilator, straddling the living and the dead.

Somehow words like ‘organ failure’, ‘sepsis’, ‘liver shock’ and ‘hypoxia’ were being used in reference to my uncle, the last person in the world I expected to have be sitting next to holding vigil on his potential death bed.

Dialing my mother’s phone number after an entire year of silence and hearing that the hospital called with the news there was nothing else they could do for her brother, and that his only slim, Hail Mary chance was a transfer to a trauma one hospital

Minutes later, finding myself knocking on the door of a colleague I barely knew, blurting out I needed help saving my uncle’s life because he is going to die, and that our health system was the only chance.

Standing in front of the hospital clutching the arm of my estranged aunt/godmother of over 5 years, while watching the medical helicopter land, carrying my on-his-deathbed uncle.

Being too shocked to take a picture of the scene that appeared to be something straight out of the television show, ER, but being able to drag my newly acquired fellow caretaker.

Sitting in an intensive care unit room alongside this woman who had broken my heart so many years ago, with the only sound for hours at a time was the woosh of my uncle’s ventilator and the foot traffic of the hallway where nurses pushed medical carts, doctors held hushed conversations and family members tried to catch their breath from their current reality.

Finding my ability to push my heartbreak, nerves and anger towards the godmother I had once worshiped aside for a brief time period, as we shared meals, phone calls and occasional laughs in this bizarre period of time.

Bearing witness to a rebirth of my uncle basically coming back from the dead, tasked with the learning how become whole again.

Cheering and feeling overwhelming happiness when he finally blinked, motioned for attention, sat up in a chair, and tolerated standing for over 60 seconds while assisted by two therapists.

Standing in a hospital hallway the morning of my uncle’s unexpected heart surgery to learn a close friend was across the city at another hospital in need of a lifesaving miracle, then walking back into his hospital room trying to pretend that I had received unthinkable news.

Blinking my eyes rapidly as the gurney rolled down the hallway taking my uncle to surgery, the same one that had taken his sister, my mother, over a decade before. Yet somehow the intensity of the emotions of her surgery came flooding back, as if I was dealing with the anxiety of both the past and present simultaneously.

Looking around of room full of mid-twenty somethings experiencing the tidal wave of unexpected death of a best friend, ex-lover, cousin, sibling. 

Through my own bloodshot eyes, I witnessed the rawest cries of grief and the purest outpouring of friendship. A jam session featuring genres ranging from classic rock, to broadway to church hymns goes on for hours, featuring keyboards, drums, and guitars that turn into an outlet for grief. All happening within the same four walls of a basement, in the midst of overflowing red Solo cups and beer cans that were unsuccessful of relieving any bit of grief.

Leaning against the outside wall of the bar on an unseasonable 80 degree day in February, the day before the services learning that I am a bone marrow match for a 63 year old man that has leukemia.

Agreeing to answer additional health questions but needing to wait until Monday when I was sober and more in control of my emotions.

Pouring over photos and videos trying to condense 25 years of life into a ten minute tribute montage.

Letting myself be comforted for a moment at a truly beautiful life celebration service, where the fact that 25 years of life is not long enough is glaringly obvious in that moment.

Seeing myself in photos from our teenage and college years brought my own mortality to the forefront of my thoughts.

My heart has continued to question the people and experiences I want to be featured in my eventual life celebration montage whenever that day arrives. Along with a newfound thirst for more opportunities to make more memories.

2017-02-06_19-22-17_000Pacing back and forth my apartment on a Monday morning answering an hours worth of questions about my health history, including questions about former lovers that made me laugh out of bizarreness and answering no to a long list of diseases that are terrifying simply in name alone.

Sitting in the hospital room at the inpatient physical rehabilitation that I work in, but now in the seat of a family member, experiencing the same overwhelming emotion as mother watching her child walk for the first time as my uncle takes his first steps during physical rehabilitation.

Forcing a smile while wincing at the little girl staring at  me at the blood testing center while the phlebotomist draws 8 vials of blood from my arm to be sent for further testing for the potential bone marrow transplant.

Watching my blood fill into colorful tubes and packed in special overnight delivery boxes, despite being told the final decision would still take 2 months.

Trying not to let my worst fears take over my clarity when I learn that my recently widowed grandfather had been found on the floor after being trapped for over 20 hours.

Visiting him in a dilapidated post-acute care center 2 hours away from his family, and making a promise to myself if I were ever in a similar situation, death would be embraced by a prescription bottle.

Baking cookies alongside my friend and her son, who has grown into a tween somehow over the past four years since we first met.

We celebrate the legacy of Weston on the 3rd anniversary of his passing, forever seven. Between the flashbacks and wandering thoughts, comfort is able to be found by seeing all of the goodness being done by people across the country for the 2017 Feed the Fire event, all in honor of the little boy I met 5 years ago.

Knocking on the door of my uncle’s house for the first time, and losing my breath as he greeted me standing straight up, free from all IVs, hospital gowns and hospital disinfected.

Being able to go out to a diner and having the great conversation I begged God to let me have with him again while he was in a coma.

Settling into the month of April, with the goal of finding my footing after the three-month emotional tornado, with the only wish that no one in my life tries to die for a while.

In recent weeks, I’ve struggled to feel back to my normal self. Somehow my normal thought process and goals seem mismatched. No amount of talking, ignorance, additional medication or sleep have been able to return it to being synced.

Last week during my therapy session with Dr.R, I shared how troubled I have been that I don’t feel like myself anymore, that the last several month, toppled with the events of the previous year, have shaken me out of place.

“Do you really think that going through everything from the past several months, all of these intense experiences and emotions, that you would come out of this time period unchanged?”

It was a consideration that never crossed my mind. But within a moment it was the first thing that rang true in my heart in a long time.

Perhaps for the next few months, penciling in ’embracing the changed me’ might not be a bad idea.

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