THE DANCE

I’ve been doing a rumba for the last 6 years, being drawn in by the seductive rhythms and passionate low pleading of the song. Each time I’ve turned my face away, hand outstretched, yearning to find my own steps, I’ve been forcefully embraced by a silent partner and led back into the choreography which was chosen long ago.

This metaphor could describe many of the layers I’m peeling away from a life which no longer feels authentic. The process is slow…not like ripping off a bandaid, more like wiping the grime off of a window that has been dirty and nagging for years, but has been overlooked for more pressing tasks.

I graduated from chiropractic school in late 2006 and received my license to practice in 2008 after rigorous national and state exams. Since that time, I have seen probably less than 50 different patients. After some initial excitement of setting up a home office and getting all of my ducks in a row, I’ve just never been “ready” to take the plunge and start trying to attract clients. Granted, there have been some really major stumbling blocks in my life during those years, but I almost feel like I’ve used them as an excuse not to practice.

If I’m being honest, the questions began the first time I toured the chiropractic school. Before I started, I was in a graduate program to teach science, but teaching high school was not turning out to be a very attractive proposition. A classmate of mine, who was a chiropractor herself, told me about her work. It paid well, the hours were decent, and there was an opportunity to help a lot of people using my science background.

It alI sounded very promising, and I decided to check out the school.  As I peered in the technique classrooms, some of the students had others lying on benches, practicing moves that were very foreign and strange-looking to me. My stomach tightened a bit. I couldn’t really see myself there. I ignored that feeling, as I had done so many times, and feigned enthusiasm.  In no time at all, I was enrolled and large promissory notes were signed.

I soon met another skeptic with a delightfully sarcastic sense of humor. Several times each semester, we would sit in the gazebo in the middle of campus, making fun of the chiropractic zealots and questioning whether this was the semester we should drop out and find another career or transfer to a less cultist school.

Once we got about halfway through the program, leaving became less and less realistic. We were in too far, both financially and academically. (Few people realize that chiropractors take all of the same courses as med students; they just have shorter “residencies”.) I also had a pride issue at stake. My brother had bet me at the outset that I wouldn’t finish the program. I proved him wrong. In retrospect, I’m not sure that was a win.

Since graduation, I’ve had numerous opportunities to go in with other doctors or rent my own space. I’ve even signed a lease and backed out of the deal. Something just keeps telling me not to commit. I love the idea of helping people and having my own space, but when it comes right down to it, I don’t love chiropractic. I find myself almost giddy when people cancel appointments. Don’t get me wrong, I find tremendous value in chiropractic, and I am an avid patient. I just don’t want to do it to others all day long.

This is probably the first time I have laid my feelings bare to such an extent, even to myself. It’s not easy to say. I have almost $300,000 in student loan debt, which is far more than my mortgage. I feel like I should suck it up and just make the money. But I can’t. Living through cancer has made it impossible to keep doing things I don’t want to do. The “shoulds” are slowly losing the power they have held over me for my entire life.

I don’t know what I”ll do from here, and that’s more than a little scary. My passion is nutrition. I would love to help people get well with lifestyle changes and natural remedies as much as possible, but I’m not sure I can deal with the public day in and day out. I need a lot of time for introspection, or I tend to get overwhelmed. Teaching might be the ultimate solution, maybe with a practice on the side.

I have a lot of good skills that I must now figure out how to weave into a cohesive fabric of occupational fulfillment while somehow still paying the bills Am I being unrealistic, asking for too much, going crazy? Maybe…probably…but I can’t continue to be an impostor in my own life. For better or worse, this is the new me. And I’m learning to like her.

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The Twins Are 3 Months Old!

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It’s been about three months since my implant exchange surgery, so I thought it was time for a little update on the “girls”. How did things turn out?

First let me say, the exchange surgery was ten times easier than the tissue expander placement. I only took a week off. The recovery was a breeze. At the end of July we took a vacation, a little over a month post-op. Everything was going well until I noticed a tiny reddened place along my stitch line on the left side. The next morning it started to look infected, although still quite small.

When I returned home, I went to the plastic surgeon’s office right away, terrified that the implant might be infected. I’ve seen such horror stories. Thankfully, it was only a stitch abscess, and he told me the implant looked great. It was a case of “spitting stitches”, where the dissolvable stitch doesn’t dissolve properly and the body tries to get it out.

Well, it turned out that I had three layers of dissolvable stitches, and soon these little abscesses began popping up weekly for about a month on both sides. My body was really spitting hard. It was a bit of an annoyance, going to the doctor weekly to have stitches removed, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle.

When my last stitch was removed, the doctor really dug around and created a fairly obvious opening in the scar. The whole lower half of the left breast began to get warm and red in the next few days. When I told him, he wanted to put me on antibiotics. Tired of being medicated and destroying my body’s natural balance, my inner rebel kicked in, and I decided to take matters into my own hands.

Remembering my delightful acupuncturist/herbalist, I hopped off the medical train and back to my belief in my body’s innate ability to heal. I scheduled a private acupuncture session and was given a poultice of Chinese herbs to put on the breast for the next several days as well as an herbal tea. It looked like mustard and made a hellacious mess, but….let’s just say that the infection was drawn out fairly quickly and the spot began to look better.

Since that treatment, I have had no more stitch abscesses. Tomorrow will be a regular follow-up visit to discuss the next step in the process, raised homemade nipples with areola tattoos or 3D nipple and areola tattoos. I’m leaning toward the real thing, although the 3D stuff is pretty amazing. I just feel like it would be a bit of a bait and switch for the audience. “Looks great…I’m just going to touch it…what the hell!” Not that the audience is that large, but I’ve gone this far, I might as well complete the deal.

Overall, so far at least, it’s been totally worth it to be able to have a feminine shape again. And it’s so nice not to have to “stuff” my bra every time I wear a form-fitting top. I know that it doesn’t bother some women, but I’ve said from the beginning that I was going to see the bright side of this journey. And trading my “lemons in a tube sock” for perky oranges rates right up there!