And It Must Be Said

Thursday, January 19, 2006

THE American Defender

Last week at work I had to attend a safety session and I chose "Personal Safety." As part of the session I received an American Defender. That's right,THE American Defender Personal Safety Whistle.

As if all the jokes that come out of the name weren't enough (think - so that's how Bush pushes other countries around - duh!), included in the THE American Defender Personal Safety Whistle package were instructions: "How to use YOUR American Defender Personal Safety Whistle." Check some of these out, I have the instructions verbatim:

If you're accosted on the street:
1. Blow the whistle (because why dial 911 one from your cell if you've got a whistle - much more fun!)
2. Call the police as soon as possible.

If you fear trouble on the street:
1. Run toward the middle of the street (because getting run over is far better than getting mugged)
2. Blow your whistle.
3. Call the police.

If you see trouble from your home: (This one is the best)
1. Call the police. State address and nature of trouble.
2. Open a window and blow the whistle. (I'm not kidding, it really says this)
3. As other whistles blow, go outside, and - keeping a safe distance - continue blowing.

This last one kills me. Can you just picture people throwing open window after window as the alarm is sounded, blowing their hearts out? As if that weren't enough, then they follow the perpetrator all the while continuing to blow their whistles!

I'm all about safety. Really. And just to prove it - if you get into trouble, just call me....because I am YOUR American Defender. I am tough. I am vicious. AND I HAVE A WHISTLE!!!!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Wear Pink

A few weeks ago my spine surgeon was analyzing some spine x-rays I had and said “So, you have a mass in your breast?”

Hmmn. “Come again?”

I didn’t think much about it then or the weeks following the comment. My back was hurting badly which is why I was at the doctor in the first place and that took precedence in my medical issues mental time allotment.

Then there’s Christmas break and all the related fun and madness and I honestly forgot about it. Until Friday. Friday I freaked.

When I got back from California another doctor confirmed that yes, there was something there and yes, I should have it tested.

I take the afternoon off of work on Friday and go to my testing site. “Cancer Center” in swirly pink marks the door. I go inside. I am assaulted with pink and magazines. I get the nicest treatment from a medical receptionist I’ve ever had and am led into a cushion-y (pink) room where I sit and wait for a nurse (yes, my very own nurse). “My” nurse Amanda (dressed in pink) sits down in a chair next to me, looks me in my eyes, and talks to me about the procedure, the book I’m reading, and how I’m feeling. She is incredibly kind.

I put my gown on and put my clothes in a pink bag to take with me.

I wait for them to get the room ready. I told Amanda that I was fine, but really, I wasn’t quite. I allow my mind to wander to all of the what ifs….what if this is cancer? Would I finish school? Who would take care of Benj and make sure he didn’t live in a cardboard box? What if I never had kids? What about my list of 50 things to do before I die? Will I have a funeral in Texas and California? This is not happening….I am only 26.

Eventually we start the test and my blood pressure is going through the roof. It takes a while. I lay there, watching the screen, waiting for the technician to say “yep, there it is.” Everything on the screen looks like tumors. “All done.” I watch the technician, questioning her. She smiles. “I don’t see a thing. Nothing. You’re clear.” Phew….picture my nerves releasing like air from a balloon…I am floating, elated.

I meet with a doctor and discuss the test and am given my “report card” to put on the refrigerator that states I am “cancer free.” I walk to the car.

How did I celebrate my near-death miss? I sat in the car and prayed, and thanked God for good insurance and medicine and good friends and even the state of Texas. And I told Him that I would be this thankful even if the news had not been good, that even if I was dying next week, that I would praise Him in just this way.

I call Benj and tell him he’s stuck with me for a few more years. He laughs. I think its just from the relief of knowing that he won’t have to eat Carl’s Jr for the rest of his life.

I go back home and a bunch of my students are playing touch football in the park next to the parking lot. “Greeettaa!!! Coomme plllaaayyyeeee! So I do. Girls against boys. We are trounced. It is fabulous.

Then I walk into our apartment, change clothes, and walk to the gym. I run 5 miles. I walk home. For 5 hours on Friday I experienced the feeling that comes with the clichéd “new lease on life.” Of course, I was called back to reality as soon as I got home, but for just a few hours I was given the opportunity to explore my mortality, my faith, and my time. It was scary, but scary-good.

For the women in my life: Do self-exams. Get an annual exam. Go to the doctor immediately if you find something…or if you even think you find something. And also… wear some pink.