The Party Down Below

5 Apr

How a Simple 2 Hour Surgery Turned into Close to 7 Hours of Torture 

{ The Party that was my Va Jay Jay, April 2012 }

{ The Party that was my Va Jay Jay, April 2012 }

Nurse: “Would you like something to relax before the surgery?”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Nurse: “We can give you something to calm you down.”

Me: “Oh. Well, I’m not much of a pill popper. Do I not seem un-relaxed?”

Nurse: “Well, we don’t know Katherine. We just offer this to patients if they would like.”

I think I had primped, tucked in, straightened all the fold in my lovely faded army blue hospital gown, the sheets on the bed and the white blanket. My wool socks were pulled up so taught that you’d swear I had sock garters on. Who wears those anyways? Seriously. Aren’t garter’s supposed to be sexy? For your nylons? Not knee high socks.

Me: “Ok. It will help my body relax which I think is a good thing going into this. Will I feel funny?”

Nurse: “I don’t know. Most people just feel relaxed and slowed down a little.”

We had to be up at 530am to get to the hospital for 6am. I had to undress, give my belongings away and wait to find out what time my surgery would be. There could be 2-4 on this day and they make the decisions the morning of which patient goes first and then schedule the others accordingly. I was told I was going to be first. 7:30am. I think. The nurse motioned me over to a waiting room with other sans make up, early bed headed patients in hospital gowns with a loved one beside them. Kinda makes it look like a psych ward depicted in the movies. Ok. half the people here are sane dressed and the other half didn’t get dressed this morning.

“And you look lovely in this pale sky blue. Who are you wearing?”

“Well, I’m not sure…’label says, Civic Hospital. It was fabulously loaned to me. I’m not sure who else has worn it before me. What procedure they had. They coulda died for all I know.”

“Ahh. And your jewels?”

“No jewels. Strict no jewel policy.”

“Your nails? That’s a fabulous colour.”

“Naked neutral by OPI. I don’t have any polish on! Strict no polish policy.”

“Why no polish?”

“I’m having a surgery.They need to see your toenails to check to make sure nothing major happens – your know circulation etc.”

“Sounds serious.”

“It is. Why are you asking me about what I’m wearing or my polish!!!”

I sat down beside my Dad. I picked up a book. It had a pretty picture on the front of rolling hills and cobblestone fences that looked like Ireland. I couldn’t read right now. I could only focus on not being able to focus on anything. I turned the book over to the back side. The author’s name was familiar. It was my first name, my middle initial and different last name but same starting initial. I thought that was interesting. And not a coincidence! I’d been told to write my story down on the page.

The hour or so went by. Seemed like there was no time.

“Katherine Flood”

The nurse called my name. I only use my full name for doctors, government, lawyers and such. Seems more dinfinate when I’m called in a situation like this. Yup that’s me. I got up and went to the nurse.

“Were you born on this date?”

“Yes.”

“We just need to make sure it’s you.”

I’m not sure if that reassured me or not. I had to go in and out of a series of different rooms. I said good bye to my father.”

“Say a prayer the surgery goes well Dad.”

“Already have. ‘Will again.” and he smiled and winked at me like he does to let me know he see my in a crowded hall or a precarious discussions between a number of people.”

I was told to climb on top of a different bed and was wheeled into a wide and very cold hallway. Seemed like a back hallway of sorts. The lights were half dim and there wasn’t anyone around. Hmm. Where is everyone? Why aren’t there people here? What’s going on? Where are the surgeons? Is this the right day? Did they sleep through their alarms? Are they late? They can’t be late. I don’t want late surgeons. Maybe their hungover. Did they go out the night before? I don’t want hungover surgeons. They have to be in tip top shape. I thought this pill was supposed to chillax me.

I lay there in my gown split open the back. You know you would think they’d a come up with a gown that  – yes, sure they need to open up in the back –  but that closes when you want it too. Those cotton ties just don’t do it. Seriously. Or what if they bedazzled the ties. Where are the surgeons!!!

I had to go to the washroom. Who wouldn’t? I looked around for someone to ask.Nadda. I started to shuffle my feet up the bed while keep my legs closed and holding the back of my civic hospital “gown” trying to not to expose my backside (although I’m told it’s a cute backside who needs to be exposing it to this back hallway). No sooner had I figured out a way to get over the cold rail while managing all my parts (included folded arm chest because it was so bloody cold in this hallway!) did I feel a hand on my hand and hear.

“Ahh, ahh, ahh, ah. Where are you going Katherine?”

I looked up and came face to face with a large – extremely large –  black nurse. She seemed sweet and concerned.

“I have to go to the bathroom.”

“Oh. You sure. Can you wait?”

“Wait? For what. I’m about to go under the knife. Would you rather I go now on the table?”

“Well it’s just that, umm…”

I sat there looking at here wondering what on earth would prevent me from using the ladies washroom.

“It’s just that we gave you that calmer down medication and you might fall.”

Ok then. Send someone with me, because I gotta go and I gotta go now.”

I got up without her looking for something else to say. I grabbed the back of my gown to crunch the opening slit behind me as much as I could. I can walk. I feel fine. I’m fine. I placed my one foot infront of the other.

“Wooooo!”

My legs collapsed like jello. The one nurse pushed another much younger nurse to my aid and grabbed my arm.

“Hold onto me Katherine.”

Katherine, this is Julianne. She’s a resident nurse in training. She’ll be with us today. I’ll be teaching her as we go.

Sweet Jesus. First no one, then someone restricting my bodily functions and now a student! Ahhh!

They wheeled one of the saline bag poles my way and held onto to the washroom. I didn’t feel that off.
Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 5.24.19 PM

I was a little more relaxed on the way back. I guess it was kicking in now. They helped me back onto the gurney while I still tried to keep the back of my gown clenched between my hand.

Few more people started to trickle in now. Coming down the hallway. They were laughing and some story from the night before and going in and out of a room my gurney was parked outside.

“Just a few more minutes Katherine. The surgeon’s will be here.”

“I want to speak to them before I go in. Especially the one I haven’t met. I can do that right? I requested that.”

“Yes, you can do that.”

‘Seems really weird to me to have someone operate on you that you haven’t met or even had a conversation with.

I kept trying to sit up, but my body really wanted to lay back down.

I stared down at a sheet of paper I had with me. I had drawn on it a list of the things that needed to be done in the surgery, the things that I absolutely did not want done (SAVE BOTH OVARIES. DO NOT REMOVE) etc. I had loosely drawn my reproductive system. I had been doing various forms of holistic modalities in an attempt to heal, help, cure whatever had been going on.
I lay there looking at the sheet to make straight the questions I had and the points I wanted to make. KEEP MY OVARIES. I kept reading the same lines over and over again not making it down the page. There had been talk that they have to remove one of the ovaries as too much endometriosis and overtaken it to the point where it was more endo tissue then organ. This was not acceptable to me. I told the doctor no in the office months prior.

“You do have another ovary Katherine.”

“I know I do. And I still want to keep both it at possible.”

“Your other ovary can make enough eggs if you want children.”

“It doesn’t matter. I want to keep both. Left and the right.”

This was the conversation we had had months prior.

I was feeling a bit sleepy. I stared at my page.

Some voice came from behind.

“Katherine. Dr. _ is here.”

“Oh you must be Katherine. It’s nice to meet you Katherine. I’m glad to be here today scrubbing in with Dr.___. He’s informed me quite thoroughly on your case. ”

I opened my mouth to speak. I just smiled.

He caught eye of the page I had that was for my eyes only. It was for me. My visualization purpose. My well wishes and desires for the surgery. It wasn’t for anyone to see. Very personal.

His hand reached for the page as I was about to open my mouth to go over everything.

“Oh, is this for us Katherine? Is this a list for us?”

I reached out to grab the page from his hand.

“Ahh, Nooo…..Ahh…it’s…”

The medication took my hand back. I was jello.

I smiled. What harm could be done? I didn’t want to seem foolish though. Silly.

More people were gathering. The energy was high. People were talking, getting ready, flying medical jargon and forth like a Grey’s Anatomy episode. Still moments of mundane would creep in. It’s ok on Grey’s Anatomy; it’s a show after all, it’s meant to entertain us. This is my life though! No mundane here please. Everyone on task. On target. Sound like you know what you’re doing please. The staff were laughing and making jokes. No wait, this is a good thing. They’re in a good mood. I want them in a good mood if they’re about to cut into me.

“We’ll come back and get you when were finished getting ready Katherine.”

They all left me in the hall and went inside. It was cold, dark and lonely. Barren. They really should put some nice leafy green plants in those back hallways. You know, some swaying palm trees or something…while patients wait.

Part II to be continued…’Enter Dr.McDreamy and the wardrobe malfunction…

Let me know what you thought! Leave a comment below, follow or Like if my vag vlog moved you.

By
Kate Flood’s Va Jay Jay

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 5.38.03 PM• Locale: MadHus Cafe, perched on a slouchy vintage 1970’s brown & orange velvet couch.
• Feel’n: Tired. Hungry. I need a massage. Feel’n good to have Part I of this post out. ‘Still want a stellar literary agent.
• On Deck:  ‘Was an open Mic. Not a bad one. A really good one. Now I’m listening to: Custard Pie (Click link to listen) by Led Zepplin.
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Part II: The Second I Found Out My Mom Had Cancer

14 Sep

How Hard it Was To Tell Me and How My World Collapsed When I Found Out

{ My mother holding me at my second baptism }

{ continued…} We left off here:

“Katie…” my mother started.

“What?! What is it? Please somebody spit it out! You’re killing me!”

They each would start to speak and stop, each taking over the others words.

“Your mother…” my father pitched in.

I had absolutely no clue in the whole world what they were going to say to me. No context whatsoever except they were having a darned time getting it out!

“You mother has…” he said and at the same time my mother finished the sentence with my Dad,

“I have cancer honey. I have Cancer.”

I think people now know whats coming before the word is even said. All we have to hear is, “I have..” Then the hard sound of the “C” starts and its over. When my mom said, “cancer” it was weird. Felt foriegn. Like someone else just said that. No my mom. Not mom. She said and as light a word as it is, ending in a soft sound, it was the heaviest word I’ve ever heard. The space around the room closed in and then expanded around me. Felt like I could feel stillness in every single particle in the room, the air, the sky outside the bay window. Cancer though, that word cancer levitated there, in the air outside her mouth – stuck, thick like glue. The heaviest word I’ve ever  heard and it there it was floating in the middle of the entire room. My ears began to ring.

Take it back. Put it back in your mouth. You didn’t say that. You said something different. I didn’t hear that. My ears didn’t hear that. It didn’t enter my ears. You there, “Cancer”, go silently back in from where you came from, leave the air and go back into my mother’s mouth and away from here. It didn’t listen.I think the word hit me like a a thick wall and knocked the words out of me. I didn’t know what to say.

“Ahh..Umm…Ahh…Uhh.”

Okay, now I will sit down. Now I will sit down. My legs feel wobbly. We all sat far away from one another. No one going to the other except for our hearts in our eyes.

“What do you mean? Are you sure”

She didn’t have to say Lung Cancer. That didn’t have to be said. I would have been very surprised indeed if it was another part of here body.

My eyes welled with tears now to match the damn that had been holding back the tears in my Mom and Dad’s eyes.

I choked on my hurt and it got caught in my throat. I’m sad. Nooo, this can’t be happening…WAIT, I need to be strong for her. She can beat this. I won’t cry. Such a mix of emotions running at one time. Im not the only that feels sad for the other person, and themselves, but has to switch to be strong. Their the ones with the cancer ahead, not the other person. Hard no matter what. After they told me that all the other sentences that came out of their mouths tried to hold a fight against the cancer in the air. They didn’t win. Coming out and fading out, I could hardly grasp and compute any of them. Cancer just kept winning this bird fight.

“The doctor asked if mom had ever had a chest xray….No, she said….and you’ve been smoking how many years?….almost 40 years?…..We were coming back to Ottawa….the doctor called on the cell phone on and told us to turn the car around and drive back to Toronto…urgent…there’s a grey spot on her xray…suspect a tumour…must send for MRI immediately…..”

The details didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. My mom had cancer. Lung cancer. From smoking all these years. Like we told her she could get if she didn’t quite. The bain of my existence daily. Her smoking. He smoke filling in the air. Didn’t matter now. Just wanted her to beat it. She could beat it. She can. She’s a strong woman. We can beat this together.

What about my brothers? Did they know?

“Do they know?”

They knew before I did. Why did they know before I did?

“We wanted to come and tell you in person. We had to wait until we could see you.”

“Oh.”

I guess I can’t be mad at that now. I guess I can’t really be mad at anything now really. Nothing matters except mom beating this. Getting though this. Surviving this. Living. It’s do or die now. She can beat this though. If anyone can, she can.

I have absolutely no recollection of the rest of that day except those moments when Cancer came into the room.

•••

Do you remember when you were told a loved one had cancer? How did you feel? Feel free to share your stories below. It’s cathartic.

By
Kate Flood

Red Fingerprint• Locale: Laid out in a tuffed chocolate leather sofa @starbucks. The official sponser of this blog. not really, but most of it’s been written here. Do they recycle those bins everyday that are full of recycle cardboard and plastic coffee cups?
• Feel’n: Infuriated with people’s perceptions, projections, assumptions, judgements.
• On Deck:  U2’s new album, Songs of Innocence { Downloaded FREE courtesy of U2, my favourite band I might add, so I’m one of the happy ones! Thanks U2 }. Sleep Like a Baby Tonight

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Part II: The Second I Found Out my Mother Had Cancer

9 Sep

How Hard it Was To Tell Me and How My World Collapsed When I Found Out

{ My mother holding me at my second baptism }

{ continued…} We left off here:

“Katie…” my mother started.

“What?! What is it? Please somebody spit it out! You’re killing me!”

They each would start to speak and stop, each taking over the others words.

“Your mother…” my father pitched in.

I had absolutely no clue in the whole world what they were going to say to me. No context whatsoever except they were having a darned time getting it out!

“You mother has…” he said and at the same time my mother finished the sentence with my Dad,

“I have cancer honey. I have Cancer.”

I think people now know whats coming before the word is even said. All we have to hear is, “I have..” Then the hard sound of the “C” starts and its over. When my mom said, “cancer” it was weird. Felt foriegn. Like someone else just said that. No my mom. Not mom. She said and as light a word as it is, ending in a soft sound, it was the heaviest word I’ve ever heard. The space around the room closed in and then expanded around me. Felt like I could feel stillness in every single particle in the room, the air, the sky outside the bay window. Cancer though, that word cancer levitated there, in the air outside her mouth – stuck, thick like glue. The heaviest word I’ve ever  heard and it there it was floating in the middle of the entire room. My ears began to ring.

Take it back. Put it back in your mouth. You didn’t say that. You said something different. I didn’t hear that. My ears didn’t hear that. It didn’t enter my ears. You there, “Cancer”, go silently back in from where you came from, leave the air and go back into my mother’s mouth and away from here. It didn’t listen.I think the word hit me like a a thick wall and knocked the words out of me. I didn’t know what to say.

“Ahh..Umm…Ahh…Uhh.”

Okay, now I will sit down. Now I will sit down. My legs feel wobbly. We all sat far away from one another. No one going to the other except for our hearts in our eyes.

“What do you mean? Are you sure”

She didn’t have to say Lung Cancer. That didn’t have to be said. I would have been very surprised indeed if it was another part of here body.

My eyes welled with tears now to match the damn that had been holding back the tears in my Mom and Dad’s eyes.

I choked on my hurt and it got caught in my throat. I’m sad. Nooo, this can’t be happening…WAIT, I need to be strong for her. She can beat this. I won’t cry. Such a mix of emotions running at one time. Im not the only that feels sad for the other person, and themselves, but has to switch to be strong. Their the ones with the cancer ahead, not the other person. Hard no matter what. After they told me that all the other sentences that came out of their mouths tried to hold a fight against the cancer in the air. They didn’t win. Coming out and fading out, I could hardly grasp and compute any of them. Cancer just kept winning this bird fight.

“The doctor asked if mom had ever had a chest xray….No, she said….and you’ve been smoking how many years?….almost 40 years?…..We were coming back to Ottawa….the doctor called on the cell phone on and told us to turn the car around and drive back to Toronto…urgent…there’s a grey spot on her xray…suspect a tumour…must send for MRI immediately…..”

The details didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. My mom had cancer. Lung cancer. From smoking all these years. Like we told her she could get if she didn’t quite. The bain of my existence daily. Her smoking. He smoke filling in the air. Didn’t matter now. Just wanted her to beat it. She could beat it. She can. She’s a strong woman. We can beat this together.

What about my brothers? Did they know?

“Do they know?”

They knew before I did. Why did they know before I did?

“We wanted to come and tell you in person. We had to wait until we could see you.”

“Oh.”

I guess I can’t be mad at that now. I guess I can’t really be mad at anything now really. Nothing matters except mom beating this. Getting though this. Surviving this. Living. It’s do or die now. She can beat this though. If anyone can, she can.

I have absolutely no recollection of the rest of that day except those moments when Cancer came into the room.

•••

Do you remember when you were told a loved one had cancer? How did you feel? Feel free to share your stories below. It’s cathartic.

By
Kate Flood

Red FingerprintLocale: Laid out in a tuffed chocolate leather sofa @starbucks. The official sponser of this blog – not really, but most of the blog has been written here. Do they recycle those bins everyday that are full of recycle cardboard and plastic coffee cups?
Feel’n: Infuriated with people’s perceptions, projections, assumptions, judgements.
On Deck:  U2’s new album, Songs of Innocence { Downloaded FREE courtesy of U2, my favourite band I might add, so I’m one of the happy ones! Thanks U2 }. Sleep Like a Baby Tonight

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

“You’re Going to Die of Cancer Mommy if you Don’t Quit!”

19 Jun

I blurted reluctantly, then intently and then tepidly from my seven year old heart at my mother in the kitchen that day.

Not because I didn’t believe it. I didn’t want the words that came out of my mouth to ever come true.


{ Elizabeth Taylor taking a drag in her Oscar winning performance in Butterfield 8. If my mother had a Facebook page today, Liz would be her doppleganger. }

{ Disclaimer: There is a point to these stories. I am travelling back in time and colouring my story to bring you to a point. I already know how it ends. I’m going back to the beginning to tell you the story. It’s cathartic yes AND maybe parts of my story will help parts of your life for the better. }

I used to hide my mother’s cigarettes. Everywhere. Infrequently. Funny she knew it was me. And her lighter. And her matches. And the ashtrays. All of them. Gone. Just magically gone. Not for long. Unless I had left the house. It would more than likely be less than a minute and I’d return them to her. She would go between being upset to feeling humoured by it, realizing in my efforts, I was really trying to look after her. How do you live on a constant line of contradictory, where you are constantly telling your children, “smoking is bad for you. It isn’t good to do. Well I’m an adult, and I’ve decided to do it.” If I managed to dart out of the room before she came back and was in another part of the house I could hear the long delay of silence after her steps into the bedroom. I could gauge the timing before I heard the juxtaposition of her various screams,

“Kaaatie” { humorous kidding } “I know you did this because you love me. AND, return them. Now!”

“Katie!” { frustrated }  No time for games. Replace cigarettes, ashtray and lighter pronto.

“Katieeeee!” { aggressive anger } Run! Let her open a new pack of cigarettes, find a new lighter and use a bean can.

I hate smoking. ‘Can’t stand it. Always have, always will. Smoking is the bane of my existence. I had to live in it every single day of my childhood. It’s possible that it’s the reason I was born prematurely. We’ll never know. I’ll I know is, it was the largest bone of contention between my mother and I our entire lives. Daily. Daily for 19 years solid and every other single time after that we were in the same room. It smells bad. Gives me an awful headache, a stomach ache. It makes me hold my breath. Do you know how often I have had to hold my breath? Close my nose? Maybe that’s why I could do so many lengths holding my breath in synchronized swimming. Luckily it could be mostly avoided in the morning until I got to school. Only 4-5 hours to avert after school before bedtime and could usually be contained within one room.

The worst was in the car. I was always rolling down the windows to get air. This annoyed my mother. This upset me. That upset her. And the cycle would continue. It seemed she took it all personally. It wasn’t personal in those moments. In those moments, I just wanted clean air, to avoid a headache, stomach ache and general malaise. This was made worse of course in the winter with the heaters blaring and the smoke building up in the car. It was suffocating. Sliding the window down to get some clean air in the car seemed the only refuge. I have spent many, many, many hours with scarves wrapped around my nose and mouth, blankets stuffed into my face, coat necks brought up around my nose blocking my mouth and nose trying to make it look natural so as to not upset my mother. My brother and I would do this individually in the back seat of the van. Eventually we figured out we could pool our resources and make a tent between the two of our jackets and at least have some breathing air instead of breathing in our jackets and scarves! Sometimes she would roll the window back up again. There was a lot of arm action here people with two people constantly rolling up and rolling down the windows. Once automatic windows came in well that was a whole other ballgame of window fun.

I still remember a girlfriend’s’ house I went to in Gr.6 who said to me, “Does you mother smoke?” I said yes and I asked her how she knew. She said she could smell it on my clothes. Great. I felt 2 ft tall and ashamed.  Although on the plus size her smoking did infuse in me that I would never-ever-ever smoke ever. I would never succumb to peer pressure of teens and never be a worry in that regard. I never heard the words when leaving for a school dance or party,

“No smoking.”

My mother knew all 3 of her kids didn’t like it, and would never smoke. I decided I would try it once at a local dance. I knew I would never buy a pack or take it up, but decided I ‘d try it once to find out the big deal was about. Nothing. I go nothing. No feeling, no slow gasp of relief  as though it was the best thing  that happened to them all day and they needed it as I’d seen in others after a first puff.

“What’s the big deal here?”

“You didn’t inhale properly.”

I tried again. Nothing.

“This is seriously stupid. Have fun.”

I would not try again for a few years. I was never tempted. No  desire. Most of my friends were preps or jocks. I was athletic and participated in many sports in highschool and competitively – namely soccer. Smoking wasn’t really the thing to do unless you were a headbanger. The headbangers were out smoking near the garbage dumpsters in their spray painted jean jackets and acid wash jeans. Getting caught in the washroom stalls where you could see the tinged orange burn marks left on the toilet seats and walls. Classy.

I went to work at a second camp and it seemed a lot of the staff were smoking. A couple of them were smoking “Green Deaths” – those Marlboro Menthol Green packs. They said they were stronger. I thought well maybe I’d feel something if I tried one of those. I told them I’d never smoke, but wanted to see what the big deal was and had tried and nothing happened. I don’t know what my 17 year old self was thinking, but I decided I’d be daring.

“Here – give me one of those.”

“You sure?”

“Yah.”

“I don’t want to be responsible for you starting a smoking habit.”
“Trust me. Ain’t going to happen. I do want to see what the big deal is though, ‘cuz right now it all seems fake.”

He passed me one of the green deaths and I told them,

“I’ll be right back.”

I took off out of the staff lounge and went into one of the kids cabins. This was staff week so there were no kids at the camp yet. I climbed up the stairs of one of the pine bunk beds covered in knifed out couples, “Joe hearts Sarah / ’93”. I sat backwards in the bunk with my back against the outer edge of the top bunk so I was facing the wall. I lit the cigarette. This probably took me four times. I wasn’t very good at it. I clasped my legs against the frame of the bed and hung myself upside down. I proceeded to take a series of puffs quickly inhaling in and out. I probably only smoked half the thing. I swung myself up.

“Woh! I feel good. I feel fine. There’s nothing to this stuff.”

I ran back to the staff lounge. They all wondered where the heck I went. I jumped over the puffy, 70”s brown felt couch someone’s parents had donated in one swoop!

“Hey”!

“Heyyy!”

“Heyyy”!

“Heyyyy! Where dyah go?”

I told them my green death bunk bed manoeuver and that I was feeling fine.

“Nothing happened.”

“Nothing?”

“Nadda.”

Three minutes had probably gone by total. All of a sudden all three of them seemed to be looking at like one another like something was wrong. They’re eye brows raised.

“What? What is it? Why are you guys looking at me that way?”

“Are you sure you feel ok Kate?”

“Yeah – I feel…..”

I started to not feel very good in that moment and everything started to slowwww wayy down.”

“‘Don’t feel so good…”

“Yeah – you don’t look so good Kate. Your face has lost all its colour and looks green.”

I slowly got myself up from the couch and walked to the outside of the staff cabin and lay sat down on the grass with my back against the wall. I didn’t hurl, but I sure didn’t feel good and couldn’t talk. They got me some water and said I just had to wait it out. And wait it out I did.

This of course is the other tactic to make sure your kids don’t start a habit. Mine was self-induced mind you. I was already getting too much of it at home! I think the one-time-over-do-it method is personally better and a healthier choice!

I never took up the habit. I knew I wouldn’t. My mother never stopped smoking. It never stopped bothering me. I didn’t stop opening windows, draping clothing, blankets, pillows and scarves over mu nose and mouth. This never stopped bothering her. She used to think we did to bother her. Nope. I know she started when no one knew better. When the Marlboro man was a sexy hero on horseback. I know it gave her relief. Albeit temporarily – each and every time as it does for all smokers out there. I know it’s addictive. I know my mother had endured enough stress that others wouldn’t have been able to cope with and this little tiny ciggy gave her some relief. I just think it’s silly. It’s a cigarette and it causes health issues – allergy, headache, Emphysema, lung cancer and death.

I’ve tried to think about why people think it “looks cool” and “sexy.” The James Bond creators don’t put a nice thin Capri, Virgin slim in the hands of their female seductress for no reason. Same for Bond. Here’s my theory. It isn’t the rolled up paper cylinder that sits two inches between a person’s fingers that seems cool – it’s the act – “the action” – of smoking. And why does the action of inhaling a piece of paper cylinder into your mouth seemingly look cool? Three reasons:

1) It’s “creating” something – a result, an action.
2) Freud. Our mouth is a sensitive, erogenous, intimate, powerful part of our body.
3) Distraction. Looking occupied. Busy. From something, from anything else.

What do I mean by all this? I believe we are all “creating” beings. We came here to create. Ideally create our given talents – whether they be works of art, song or intelligence. When we stand in our truth of creating – I believe it’s powerful, sexy and attractive to others. How does watching someone paint, play guitar or sing feel to you? In contrast to do nothing, but standing – when we often see smokers smoking – the action of “smoking” appears like the person is doing something with their hands, their mouth, their self. Is it for a creative end? No, but it is still not standing and doing nothing.

I wish people would take the cigarette out of their mouth – which is really a stick full of all their stresses, hurts and feelings they are avoiding feeling and take that out on page, canvas or guitar. Do something useful with your creating.

Quit Smoking.

YOU are better than a cigarette.

If you don’t think so, seek counselling, an acupuncturist, a hypnotist.
What is the point of smoking your life away?

Do you think you looked down from the ethers and said,

“Yah – you know what, I want to go back to earth and have a good time and I’ll absolutely make sure I’ll be smoking the entire time!”

I don’t think so.

I wonder if I would have taken up smoking she would have quit?

She never quit smoking. I never quit being bothered by it. It was one of the biggest bones of contention between us and it never ever went away.
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“Breathing my mother in,
Breathing,
Breathing her nicotine…
{ Breathing, Kate Bush }

Are you smoking a cigarette while you’re reading this?

Finally Breathing,
Kate
Red Fingerprint• 9pm, June 18, 2014
Locale: Sitting at my bamboo desk. Damp, post rainy humid evening
On Deck: “You smoke the day’s last cigarette,
Rememberin’ what she said”  ~ Turn the Page by Bob Seger
Feel’n: Melancholy. ‘Could be on a tattered porch deck, sipp’n vino watch’n the sunset with my lovely.
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Mom, Trudeau & the Biggest Octoberfest on the Hill She Threw

4 Nov

This 007 Fem Bond was just about to crack the case of why I survived  5 car Accidents and 1 Shotgun Hostage and then something awful happened. My mom was diagnosed with Cancer. Let me go back to the beginning to tell you about who my mom,  Jude Flood was.

{ Mom and Trudeau, Octoberfest Party, House of Commons, Ottawa,ON }

{ Mom and Trudeau, Octoberfest Party, House of Commons, Ottawa,ON }

My mother used to work on the “Hill”, Ottawa’s place of Parliament. She was an Executive Assistant to one of the MP’s who’s office happened to be right near our former Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Elliot Trudeau.  Pierre enjoyed my mother’s company and would stop by her office to say hello. Eventually my mother organized the biggest Octoberfest Gala on the hill. She even got the Mayor of Munich to attend. Right after this photograph was taken by the hill official photographer, Pierre leaned leaned into my mother’s ear and said, “Judy – ‘One heck of a party. Well done! Now how can you get me the hell of out here?” Pierre liked his parties…for a short time.

I was just getting close to figuring out why there seemed to be something working against me in this life. Why I had been in five car accidents and 1 shotgun hostage. I was getting so close and then this cancer business happened in the middle of it all. I was still just in the beginning of my insurance battle. I was right in the thick of it all.

Before I share the day I found out my mom had cancer, I am going to go back and time to the beginning.

My mom was born in Ottawa on August 1st, 1962. A true Leo –  her most defining characteristic – too of a Leo – she loved to be the life of the party. She loved to party. Not all the time of course. She could throw a damn good party. I grew up with lively family reunions and a band in my living room for her 40th. I’ll never forget that one. She was one of four siblings ( two sisters and one brother) to an Irish decent school teacher, my grandmother Maudella McColgan. My grandmother died when I was five years old. My only memory of her was of her bringing me chocolates. I was told she was a remarkable woman and rightly so for being a french and art teacher at the time. My mother’s father was in the war and I know very little about him except I know he had large hands and was very handsome. He died when my mother was only fifteen years old. They lived in downtown Ottawa.

Mom_Dad_Ball copy

My mother was described as a free spirit (apple doesn’t fall far from the tree) and in an attempt to settle her down, she was sent to private school at Iona Academy in Alexandria, Ontario. I remember her always saying how upset and hard it was to be pulled out of school to go and care for her dying father at 15 years old so that her mom could continue to work and earn a pay check to pay the bills and feed the family including her younger sister at home.
She has albums of her at school and I used to love going through them and seeing the outfits and fun times. A classier Grease Lightening reality.

There is a whole lifetime of memories I don’t know about for my mom. These are snippets of stories I remember. I know that she was beautiful and uplifting and fun. I know that she cared about all of us and cared about how we did in school, how we dressed presentable and had fun with our friends. We grew up in the country and she was concerned about our experiences and made sure to enroll is in countless sports, activities and clubs so we were socialized around other children. My favorite photograph of her is this one above in the green satin gown. I always thought she looked so elegant, breathtaking, honestly regal in this photograph. I always wanted to see her like that again. 25 years later and a bit heavier this was a little girl’s “princess” wish that couldn’t realistically be. I also wanted her to be happy like she was in the photograph. She didn’t always seem this way to me.
Mom_Trudeau_72dpi

Who was Jude? Jude was a beautiful woman who knew how to dress well. She was incredibly artistic and painted many oil paintings. Mostly of nature, the outdoors, sunsets, mill’s and cowboys for my father. This reflected her love of nature in the real world as well. She loved thunderstorms and I remember would call us out into the sun porch to count the strikes after the thunder would roll. She had such a flare with decorating a home and would often to mini-makovers on her friends and relative’s place. She was comfortable wearing hats and had many. Scarves too like in the photo above. Her nickname to some of her second nieces and nephews was “Gypsy Lady.” She loved children and encouraging them to be strong and have fun.

She loved to talk. She counselled many friends on the phone for countless hours. People loved to be around her. She loved to entertain and did everything up right. We had a one reunion and a large summer party in the 100’s on our family property by the pool. She loved games and was clever at scrabble, trivia pursuit and tons of card games. She used to play euchre and rummy for hours. She had killer dancer legs and could dance like nobody’s business.  She loved music, and our I grew up listening to her favorites. Elvis at the top of the list, Anne Murray, Abba and Neil Diamond. Hell, she met Elvis once. I’ll tell that story here another time. My mother was intelligent, swift, quick thinking and fun. That second set of eyes never left the back of her head. She loved to have a good time. She loved christmas and was incredible at bringing that spirit alive every year in our home. She had a flare for everything artistic really. My father and her designed and built our family home and 3-4 others. She loved the holidays, any excuse to celebrate. She decorated our house for St.Patrick’s day! St.Patrick’s day was like a second christmas in our home. She used to make a gigantic green shamrock cake out of 3 hearts cake tins every year. She loved family and encouraged  family interactions in our immediate family and our relatives.

After she worked on the hill, she had my brother and I. She was sick for a little while because of this and became a full time mom. Later on she became the President of the Manotick Fringe Festival for a couple years before it even moved to Ottawa. I moved away for University at 19 and returned only for 3 years to complete by college diploma and moved to Vancouver when I was 22. My relationship with my mother was a constant tug of war. I think at some point I forgot why I was mad at her, and kept on being mad at her. I still loved her, but I was mad at her.

I loved my mom. I hated my mom.I know hate is a strong word, but I did. Parts of me really hated her. That teen angst scream many hear, “Oh yah? I hate you!” never really left. I had good reason and maybe not so good reason and reasons I didn’t even know. Actually those were the most important of all. If only I had known those reasons before she died. I guess, I guess this was the way it was supposed to be. It did not make it any easier at the time. It doesn’t make it any easier today.

My mom cared about me, don’t get me wrong and I for her. We just had a hell of way of showing it. And there were many poignant, deep and tragically beautiful reasons for this. As far as I remember, I didn’t really want to be around my mom. At the same time, there was a part of me that very much wanted to be around her. This was quite deep and quite invisible to me actually. She annoyed me. I thought she was silly. Sometimes I thought she was scary. Sometimes she seemed so big to me and strong. I also was confused by her. She didn’t always seem happy to me. Sometimes she seemed incredibly happy, dancing up a storm in my kitchen with my Dad or her brother.

As long as I can remember, my mom and I were at each other’s throats. We didn’t really “get along” whatever, however that looks for mom and daughter. I know everyone’s relationship with their mother is different, full of so many complex defining reasons – generational, economical, cultural, day to say situational. Then there is karma. Oh that blasted karma. It is also the single most important external relationship every single person has. The one they have or don’t have with their mother. Why is this?

I’ll tell you why I was so mad at her next time.

She also made the best lasagna in the world.

By a mother’s daughter,
Kate
fingerprint


On Deck: Dancing Queen by ABBA
Locale: Hardwood Banquette, Starbucks, Toronto
Mood: Wired and tired. Moving and another surgery in 3 weeks.

NaNoWriMo Day 1: Fem 007 Bond Digs Deeper: Mono & Syncronicities

3 Nov

Last excerpt where I left off:

And then I looked on the date I was to be discharged:

October 22, 1974

Holy Shit. I stared at the date. My hands began to shake. The world around me became incredibly still, the sounds around me disappeared and became background noise.

October 22, 1974. You have got to be kidding me.
That’s the same date as the car accident. At Queens. In the Porsche. Will Alex. The exact same date. Of all the days of the year, you mean to tell me the day I was going to go home to be in my mothers arms who I had been crying for 3 weeks for, and the nurse finds a hear murmur and I”m being transferred to another hospital is the SAME day as a my first major car accident where I almost died?

This is not a coincidence. It isn’t anymore. It can’t be. I flumped into my crossed legs on the living room floor with the papers spread all around me. Then I jumped up sending the papers flying.

“FINE! I believe it! I Believe it! I believe it’s all connected! I yelled out loud into the living room to no one but myself.

“Now what?”…
•••

{ continued…. }

I plugged this new found exact date into the chart I had made that was outlining all the major events of trauma in my life – the surgeries and illnesses. For example, I had already had mononucleosis 3 times and Epstein Bar syndrome.  Called the kissing disease, this was not how I first contracted it! I was only twelve years old the first time I got it in Gr.7. Hadn’t so much as hugged a boy yet! It was the beginning of my junior year. Hell, sure may have wanted to, but it hadn’t happened yet. Let me retract that statement. I had been going to school with the same boys and girls since kindergarten, so actually no there wasn’t a boy I wanted to kiss yet, but maybe, maybe he was around the grade 7 hall. I’m not sure, I maybe I wasn’t kissing material. I still remember playing spin the bottle and a girlfriend’s 10 bathroom mansion in the basement and being called into the closet with one of the long blond banged boys. I hadn’t kissed a boy yet and certainly this really wasn’t how I envisioned it going down! I still remember him saying to me, “Hey Kate, do you mind if we don’t actually kiss, but just stay in here long enough to make it seem like we had?”

Heart-drop now.

Talk about crush’n a pre-teen’s heart raging with self-esteem fitting-in peer issues! ‘Just the same, i didn’t want it, but that kinda stung too. Little confusing too.

I got mono from just being around my mom who had picked it up in the air at an arts course she was talking at a community college. Good Morning Grade seven! I missed the first three months of school. ‘Watched a lot of spiderman and the Flintstones at Noon, Y & R at 4pm and slept. Don’t worry the school passed me regardless. ‘Said, I would have “gotten all” that  I missed anyways and was an A-student. Gotta like that.

I plugged in the date the heart murmur was found on my just 6 month premature, alive 3 weeks body into the chart. I sat there staring. What does this all mean? What does this tell me? Why has all this stuff happened to me? It cannot be a coincidence. It can’t.

What am I missing?

I waited for something to come to me.

I remembered another car accident I had been in. Shit. That’s five car accidents I have been in. Geezuz.

Is someone trying to kill me?

I keep surviving. ‘Not mean’t to die. But why? This has got to stop. What am I not getting?

I made or added other columns. I put in what had happened to me in the accident or illness or surgery. There was consistency to those too.

It was getting clearer, but not completely crystal clear. The accidents – I almost die. My life flashes before my eyes. I’m going to die, but I make it.
Spinning – out of control – turning – twisting – my neck – impact – bridges – plummet to death – fear – soft landings…..

I would look at the end of the chart where the accident was and trace back. What happened before that? And before that? And before that? What’s the first thing that happened where there was trauma?

My birth. My miraculous premature birth.

So?

I survived. What. Hmm, Are they’re any other similarities with what happened to me over these 30 years?

Car Accidents. A bunch of them. Why? Maybe there is something about what happens in them….

What’s the same about the car accidents? People always say, “Shit, you must be a bad driver.”

Nope. I’m never the driver. Never have been. Always a passenger.

Hmm….There is something in that…

I revisited all the accidents.

5 years old – Hit by a Nun – In a Van – Mom’s driving. My twin and I are in the van.

16 – “Head for the Clear” Van flip into the snowbank – Dad’s driving. My twin and I are in the van.

16 – Garbage Dump Road Van Flip at camp – A fellow staff friend is driving – 2 other staff friends and I.

21 – Porsche 911 Accident  – My first puppylove is Driving – We dropped off my roommate at home – Only I am in the car with him.

29 – Christmas Accident – My Dad is driving. My twin and I our in the van.

Weird. I’m close right.

3/5 of those accidents I’m with my parents.  Once with my mom driving. It was the Nun’s fault. My mother taught me how to drive in Fitzroy Provincial park across from the Quyon ferry that her family owned and operated and she spent her cherished summers. She was a good driver as much as I knew. The other two my father was driving. All of them were in vans.

My twin was in 3/5 of them. That seems significant. He’s also reasonably ok. So is everyone. Most of them, only I seem to bear the brunt of the accident and have injuries and have physical consequences.

There were two other interesting things my Bond mind pieced together. Funny, you don;t really see James Bond piecing things together, he just does it. Goes there. Dawns an Armani suit, skis down the mountain side onto a boat, kills the bad guy where he knew he was and gets the girl. Here I am trying to piece the pieces of my life together to make sense of the puzzle.

There was another accident that I’m not sure whether to include in this count.  Something did happen, it was a close call. What was interesting, was it was in van, my father was driving and my twin had a little mishap. We were visiting my relatives in London, Ontario. I think we were about 8-10 years old, somewhere in there and my father was driving. Out of know where a cyclist tried to duck out on the road in front of my Dad. My father slammed on the brakes and my twin went flying forward. His tiny chest was bare with only his swim trunks on and SMACK he hit the front of the big console on the van. Poor little guy. I remember how red his chest was. I also remember how angry he was as he leaned out the window and screamed every exploitive an 8 year-old knows at the cyclist.

“You stupid – poohead – dumb-dumb turkey!” { Turkey derived from my father’s normal choice of expletives at bad driving. Well, at least while the kids were in the car.

My father understablly let him have it! Adding after the trail was finished and his 8 yearold voice started cracking….

“Yah! Turkey!”

The other accident? The other accident? There was synchronicity in that one too…and it didn’t involve my parents. Directly that is.

{ to be continued… }

I’m getting closer…

007 Fem Bond,
Kate

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fingerprintLocale: Chocolate Leather Club Chair { ‘could use some distressing }, Starbucks, Toronto
On Deck: Mirrors by Emma Louise
Mood: Mercury in retrograde is kicking my literary web butt.
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18 Years Ago Today I almost Died and My Life Flashed Before My Eyes

22 Oct

{ Chapter 1 • Pilot’s Licence for a Porsche }

{ The Porsche Accident }

Pilot’s Licence for a Porsche

“Shit! What’s happening? The car’s moving to fast. We’re going on the wrong side of the road. Shit. We’re going over the bridge. The cars aren’t going to see us. Shit. My legs. I don’t want to be a quadriplegic. Hoist them as far into your chest as you can,” says a loud, deliberate and calm voice in my head. “Shit! My head. My Brain. I don’t want to be a vegetable. If I cross my arms in front of my forehead, if there’s any glass, it’s going to have to go through two layers of bone before it gets to my skull. It won’t cut that deep. It won’t. My face. I can’t cover it all with my hands. Shit. I crouched over then in I guess a crash position trying to protect my face from any flying glass that might come, but then I exposed my skull. I tried covering my head with my arms. Out father who are in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done…I hear music. Fairground music. Like I’m at the Richmond Fair…On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this stay, our daily bread. There’s Tim. Why can I see Tim? There is a little movie playing in slow motion in my head. This isn’t movie time! I need to stay alive! Ahh, cute. There’s the two of us. We’re just babies sitting naked in the river among the rocks and the sun is glistening off the water. There we are on a ferris wheel.  Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. (God, would that one ever come in handy after this happened!).  I don’t want to be injured. I don’t want to die. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. I don’t think I have ever tried to use everything I have in me to stay alive. Don’t ask me what that was. I just pressed my feet into the floor like mad and hugged my body insanely tight and I…prayed. This wasn’t deliberate. The words just seem to come out of me automatically. I remember thinking, there is someone waiting for me. I’ll be good. I’ll be good. Please, I want to stay. He’s waiting for me. I know he is. I’ll find him. I have things to do here. It’s not time. I’ll do anything. I’m too young to die. I haven’t even got my BA yet.

I glanced from the side of my head over at Alex somehow managing to keep looking forward and look at him incase this was the last time I would see him. “Goodbye Alex, I love you.” Out-loud or under my breath, I can’t remember – as he was trying to do anything to the car to control it, but it really seemed to be driving its own course on the wet asphalt. If this car ever stops spinning I have to get out right away. Stop already stop. My feet are pushing on the passenger breaks with vengeance. It’s not working. I think I am screaming, but I’m not sure, I don’t want to upset Alex or distract him. I can’t see anything. The car comes slowly to a halt. (I would find out later, this was not the case, but my body’s way of dealing with the insane speed and impact of what we hit). The car is stopped I think I hear in my head. Get out! Get out! I can hear the music turning over in the car. U2 no less. Probably With or Without You. Why is the radio on? It shouldn’t be working. If it’s on, there’s still a power supply but the lights are out. That means there’s gas. Shit, the cars gonna blow. It’s gonna blow. They always blow up in the movies.

Get me the fuck out of here now! I fumble for the door handle on my right. I can’t see anything. Everything is moving so fast I think I’m going to hurl. Why do they make everything pitch black in Porsche 911’s? I think I try to open it, but I can’t tell. I can’t even find the door. Where is the flipp’n door? I feed my right leg out where the door should be. God, is there even ground under me? I try to find ground, I stand up before I am out of the car and immediately my legs give way from under me like a raggedy ann doll and I am falling. I can’t stop it. When I fall I don’t hit the hard ground. I think somebody has caught me. Who’s there? Alex couldn’t have been there so fast. He’s still in the car. I don’t care.  I can feel my heels being dragged against stone. Must be the road. I can’t see anything. It’s pitch black outside. I feel blind. I’m placed so gently on grass. Why is there grass near the road I wonder? I want to fall asleep. “Don’t fall asleep,” a male voice says. “Stay awake ok?” the voice says. “Who are you?” I ask. “Where’s Alex?” “We were behind you,” he says. “Is that guy your boyfriend? He was driving really fast.” I hear a girls’ voice. There is commotion of voices coming in and out. I want to go to sleep please on the grass. “Is that your girlfriend?” I say to the stranger. I think he smirks or something. “No, we were just the two cars right behind you.” Oh. “Is that your girlfriend?’ I ask again. ‘What’s your name?” the guy asks me. I tell him, Kate Flood. “Do you know where you are?” he says.

I am too scared to look up. I am too scared to look anywhere. I just want to fall asleep on the glass. I remember just trying to look at the ground. The stranger is holding my back up with his legs and keeps pushing my wobbling head up. “Stay awake,” he says. “Oh my God!” I think to myself. I see blood all over my purple Sierra Design jacket. “Why is there blood? I’m bleeding, I’m bleeding!” I say.”Where are you hurt? Tell me where your pain is and I’ll try to see where the blood is coming from.” the guy says.  Then I finally hear Alex’s voice. He is standing right behind me now. He wasn’t before. “I’m going to go now.” What do you mean your going to go now, you just got here.” “They’re just going to take me down to the station.” Before I can say a word, I just see the rear lights of a police cruiser and he’s gone. I don’t remember anything in between except telling the boy he should get together with the girl. Then I am in the back of an ambulance and I think a handsome young paramedic is asking me if I know my name. “Yes, of course I know my name. Why do people keep asking me if I know my name? Do you know your name?” I say to him. He smirks. “Kate Flood.”
“That’s not what your health card says,” he questions. “Seriously? You want my whole name? Katherine Judith Irene Flood. Geesh! Why you asking me that? Seriously if there was anything I was going to remember don’t you think it would be my name?” I think he’s finding me funny. “Stay awake, ok. You’ve been in a serious car accident. You need to stay awake.”

The next memory I have, I am in the KJH bed by myself. No one seems to be around. It ‘s like pulling teeth to talk to anyone. Yo, can I get some service around here please, I think to myself.  I’m being sent for x-rays of my leg I’m told. Gosh, I just realized my parents happen to be in town tonight.  It’s my Dad’s 25th Anniversary for his Queens’ MBA. I try to get anybody’s attention,  “Listen, my parents happen to be here tonight, can you call them? They’re at this hotel.” I say to the nurse. They do, but it seems to take an eternity. “Did you call them?” ‘Yes, we called them they’re on their way.” Ahh Shit. Maybe I shouldn’t have had them called. They’re going to kill me. I don’t think they like Alex. Ahh Great. Ah well, as if I wouldn’t call. I’m taking by wheelchair to get x-rays. I’m still in a droopy fog. The x-ray technician comes out from behind the glass. “Ahh, excuse me.” She seems perplexed. “Did you know you had a screw in your left knee?” Oh my God, I think to myself. Are you frick’n serious? I had an ACL repair in that leg from a soccer injury. ( Another great story. Tell you in a another chapter). “The other leg lady, the other leg.” I say to her.  Geesh! She’s re-does the x-ray of my right leg that was hurting really bad. I had no idea why.  I really need to go to the washroom. Weird. I probably haven’t gone in hours. I come out and am almost at my bed. There is blood all over the hospitals white sheets.
… { to be continued }
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Did you just read my first entry into the NaNoWriMo Write a Novel in a Month Contest?
I’d love to hear from you. What did you think…

Thanks!
Kate

Leave me your comments below or share this on Facebook or twitter to spread the buzz…

• By Kate Flood
• NaNoWriMo Novel Entry
Locale: 10pm • My apartment, Ottawa
On Deck: Angel { In the Arms of an Angel } by Sarah McLachlan
My irish love said whenever he heard this song and the line, “You were pulled from the wreckage” he got sad and thought of me being in the accident.

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