Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunrise, Sunsets and New Beginnings

It's been two months already since my last post and it feels like I just left Japan yesterday.  March 11, turned out to be a Friday and I thought it would be like just any ordinary day. It was the last month that I have to substitute teaching English off base and I was looking forward to seeing the kids. I was teaching the kids a new song, we were all singing "sit down, sit down, youre rocking the boat" when everything started shaking. The kids were used to the drill and immediately huddled under the table. It feels like it was going on and on and it was becoming stronger by the minute. My initial instinct was to grab my purse and run to my car and drive back to the base. After almost 3 minutes, it stopped and we tried to act normal with the kids, Im thankful most of the parents were there that day. We resumed the class although my hands were shaking and I am already worried coz the sirens were wailing and warnings were given to move to higher grounds coz of the tsunami threat. After a couple of minutes, there were the aftershocks, one after the other. All I could ever think of was if I am going to die that day, I hope Jeremy knows how much I love him. Made it through the second class, although everyone is agitated coz there was no electricity, the traffic lights stopped, trains were put to a halt and cellphones were not working at all. Everyone just wants to know if their loved ones were ok. My boss told me to drive carefully. My 40 minute drive going back felt surreal. It was just 5pm, the sky turned really dark, there was an eerie feeling that something was not right. I have to pass by small fishing towns and the road all throughout would be next to the water. Everyone is out of their house, looking at the horizon, waiting if the tsunami would hit. It surely feels like a scene from the movie. I was 5 minutes away from the base and i was stuck in traffic, it turned into a 3 hour wait, all I could ever think of was, if the tsunami would hit I would die right then and there. As if its not enough, it started raining and my over active bladder cant take it anymore. I abandoned the car in the middle of the road and luckily found an apartment complex and there was a Japanese guy who can speak English who was kind enough to let me in their home. When I finally made home, after walking up the stairs all the way to the seventh floor with my two heavy bags full of books, I found out that Jeremy was still not home and most of our stuff was all over the floor. We've been in Japan since 2006 and we have experienced a bunch of earthquakes through the years but nothing made our stuff fall at all.

 That night when we turned the news on we saw the extent of the damage. The devastation was unbelievable and we were thankful that we were safe. When I logged on to my online accounts, I got a bunch of messages from families and friends checking in on us, even the recording machine was blinking non stop. The following days were lived in constant aftershocks and waiting if the nuclear power plant would be stable. Jeremy was on duty that Sunday and they would leave the next day. Those were definitely some sleepless nights.
 After a few days, the area affected by radiation was becoming worst. We were told by the higher ups, the President authorized voluntary evacuations, we were told to get ready, to pack a 50 pound luggage bag and that the planes would be coming to get us out. Then they retracted the statement. It was a bunch of confusions from then on. I guess everybody was just stunned by the magnitude of the situation. A bunch of paperworks, and then some more. I told Jeremy I would take the opportunity to be able to see a specialist for my jaw.
 I left Japan on March 24, arrived here in San Diego the same day. I've seen 2 oral surgeons on the 28th, I brought the same CT scan Ive had since October of last year, they told me something was on top of my left parotid glands, they dont know what it is yet but for sure I would be needing more test. I was scheduled for biopsies the next day. The pathologist informed me that we cant use anesthesia coz they want to be able to pinpoint the exact location of the lump, and that they would do the fine needle aspiration four times and that I can call her all names and she wont mind at all coz I am the one hurting. And since it is my jaw and that is a needle, I did not even moved but tears were rolling down my cheeks nonstop. I just want to scream in pain. I just want to hold somebody's hands. I just want someone to tell me that things would be ok. After the first sample was taken, the main surgeon came and told me to hold his hand and squeeze it really tight, he offered even though I was just silently crying, but that simple act of kindness really made a huge difference to how crappy I was feeling. After the second one, I cant take it anymore and I just really cried hard, the pain was unbearable, the pathologist stopped and told me its ok, she knows when patients had enough. I cried some more, I told them after a year, finally someone was taking me seriously. I have seen 3 diffrent ENT doctors back in Japan, I feel like a guinea pig, a bunch of misdiagnoses, one after the other, all sorts of medications, antibiotics, super strong antibiotics, lab works. The oral surgeon there refused to see me, according to one of the ENT doctors, he would only see surgical patients and now it turned out I was one. I was questioning it back then, how can he justify that I am not if he wont even see me at all? I kept coming back, complaining of the pain, the doctor would be dismissive and I would be told I was fine. Even though my ct scan showed swollen lymph nodes already. They gave up on my case and they referred me to see the Commandeer of Dental around November who was really nice. He thought it was blocked salivary glands. But a week before the earthquake he told me he really thinks I need to see a specialist, that it is really my lymph nodes thats messed up.  

It was really upsetting that I saw on my file that they classified me as a hypochondriac. I questioned one of the doctors about it and I was told thats what they call patients with a lot of different symptoms. I told her I want it out of my file. I was thinking to myself, just because you guys cant figure out whats wrong with me doesnt justify that at all and I really want to ask, does the Navy or the military uses a different medical textbook that has a different meaning? Even if I did not study Psychology I would know what hypochondriac means. My ct scan showed something, I can feel the lump on my left jaw. I was in pain. Surely I cant be making that up.

After the MRI, they scheduled me for surgery the 26th of April. Parotid lobectomy with facial nerve dissection. They told me I may not be able to close my eyes, smile, frown, lift my eyebrows and a bunch of other facial expressions if they wont be able to save the facial nerve and that the surgery would take 3 hours. Jeremy was able to come on the 25th. We have to check in at 9am that morning, Ive lost track of time but Jeremy told me I was taken around 10 or 11 and we did not see each other until 7pm that night. I felt bad for him coz he has to sit in the waiting room for updates from the doctors and that night he sat down in a very uncomfortable chair the whole time, to think that he has not adjusted well to the time difference yet. On top of that I was nauseous the whole time recovering from the general anesthesia and I need assistance getting up and going back to bed. Im thankful that he was there the whole night next to me, holding my hand, catering to my needs even though he is really exhausted. He had been really great taking care of me the whole time he was here even though it was just for 8 days. 

I have a nice cut from the side of my front left ear going to the back curving down the chin. Im still in pain, I dont know if the scars would ever disappear. My left eyebrows cant be raised, I tend to wear sunglasses a lot when I am out coz I have the tendency to raise my eyebrows and I look scary. I dont know if I would ever regain the same sensation on the left side of my face. But I am not complaining at all, I have been blessed to have great surgeons who did their best.


In our lives there are moments that would trigger something inside of us, and we could either react in a negative or positive way, it can make you or break you. The series of events back in Japan, the threat of dying and loosing everything was just too painful and some people would just live in fear. Some would go out and embrace life more. I want to really live my life to the fullest, I want to be more truthful to my self and to the people around me. I want to make changes, to be more responsible,to take control and stop making excuses, to strive to be happier, to set my priorities straight. I guess for some time, I have overlooked what really matters in life. I want to be at the present moment, I dont want to live my life in fear at all. I would stop multi-tasking and just enjoy whatever I am doing. I would strive harder on not sweating the small stuff. Of being more forgiving of myself and less judgmental of others.

I have been reading Women, Food and God and I came across some wonderful lines in there.
" Stephen Levine, a Buddhist teacher, says that hell is wanting to be somewhere different from where you are. Being one place and wanting to be somewhere else. Being constantly agitated-another word for non accepting the inevitable. Being in a relationship with someone and refusing to surrender to the love because you dont want to give yourself to something you will eventually lose.

That's called living in hell, refusing to love because you want the endgame to be different than it is. Wanting life to be different from what it is.

That's also called leaving without leaving. Dying before you die. It's as if there is a part of you that so rails against being shattered by love that you shatter yourself first ".

This is from the chapter Never Underestimate the Inclination to Bolt

That's exactly what I have been doing the last couple of years. I was not here at all. I got the hard bound copy of the book and I cant get way past this chapter for the last week, I kept on reading and reading the whole chapter, I wish I can share everything in here but I suggest that you grab a copy and you would be surprised on the lessons that would jump out of the book that concerns your life. I even purchased the e-book so I can read it when I cant sleep at night. 

The truth is I love my husband so much and I feel like I would never be able to love that much again. He is such a great guy who tried his best to be able to make me happy, he would give me the moon and the stars if he can. And I felt how much he loves me but I lived in fear and questioned it and pushed him away because I am scared to loose him, I am scared that he would die, I am scared that he would find somebody else. I didnt know I was creating this wall between us. I wasnt letting him in anymore. There were times he would give me this sad look and tell me "you dont love me anymore" and I didnt get it that time, because I do, I love him and I cant imagine my life without him. I didnt realize that I was protecting myself from the pain that might happen and by doing so I was not living in the moment. Its funny coz the author mentioned the same thing, she was scared that her husband would die and that she wont be able to stand the pain that sometimes she wishes he would die so she would be able to get over it.

People look at us and they think we have the perfect fairy tale story. The truth is we are not perfect at all, we are struggling to deal with our own demons, with our insecurities, our imperfections. I think its true that you tend to abuse the people that you love. You get on that comfortable zone that things would be fine no matter what. I took Jeremy's love for granted. I neglected him. We have done some crazy stuff the last 5 years we have been married. We need to learn so much more. If I got mad at him or if he offends me in any small ways, I always threatened him that I would call my parents and ask them to buy me a plane ticket back home. I tend to bolt out. I was not aware how much pain he was enduring thinking that I dont want him anymore. He have done some mistakes, for some it would be hard to forgive but because he have been good to me all these years, its easy for me to forget about it and move on. I guess if you really love a person, you find it in your heart to forgive them, no matter how much pain they have brought you. In spite of everything that has been said and done, I still want to be here, I still want to be Mrs. Smith. I want to be a better wife than what I am right now. For some time Jeremy had been accusing me of not listening to him whenever he has some new ideas to share with me, my mind was somewhere else, what to cook for dinner, what to buy, the bills to pay, I was there but my mind was somewhere else and it came to a point where he just stopped talking about his dreams with me. We fell victims of the usual monotonies of life. We even became strangers. We both bolted out, we both made assumptions about each other but we never really had the courage to deliver. We love each other but the sparks that was there before fizzled. I guess experts are right that you need to work on it to keep the romance alive in a marriage. I want to fall in love with my husband all over again. I want to feel the excitement of seeing him and I want him to look at me the same way before, with so much love in his eyes.  What we have is really something special and I dont want us to throw it all out. A billion people spend their whole lives looking for somebody to love, to spend the rest of their lives with. I hope when you find that someone special, I hope that you would not act in fear but you would welcome the experience with open arms.
I've always loved sunrise and sunsets, it soothes my soul to look at one, knowing that there is always another tomorrow, a new day to start fresh if you messed up. And I think I did, big time.

Jeremy, I may not always tell you that I am thankful that you are in my life every day, I want you to know that the day you came into my life is the happiest that I have ever been. I didnt know it was possible to love someone this much and I am really sorry for all the hurtful things I have said and done. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.

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