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Defiant.

Most of the time, I keep the really personal stuff off of here.  The stuff that hits home.  The stuff that matters to me, affects me, because I don’t want to come off as any sort of martyr, or someone who seems to be having a pity party.

Today isn’t the time.  Today, I am gonna share.  Not because I want pity, not because I want to be any cause for concern or to have anyone give me artificial care and concern….but because these last four weeks have given me strength and insight into myself and after a conversation with a family member today, I will continue to be defiant.

Months ago, I did the 30 Day Photo Challenge and Day 18 was My Biggest Insecurity.  It took a lot to put that out there.  I have always thought of myself as a pretty healthy person….who needs a doctor?  Not me!  Well, this year, I have decided to take stock, to make sure I stick around.  I have started losing weight, slowly, as I have been told not to do anything “drastic.” And I have also taken a hard look at my “innards.”  Actually my extremely thorough doctor decided it was time, as I am in my 40’s, to take a thorough look at my “innards.”  There were some not so big surprises and there were some real “oh shit!” moments….

I told my baby sister today….“Be defiant of the fear.  Don’t back down from it….stand up, look it in the eye and beat it.”

Recently, I found out, I am more like my father than I thought I was…

meaning, I have his heart.

My dad never took care of himself, he spent his life taking care of everyone else.  And in the end, he was gone too soon.  He didn’t take care of him so I could take care of him later.  It’s a hole in my heart everyday.

I vowed to not do this to my children.

So….I recently found out that I have more protein in my heart than is good for me.  A LOT more.  It’s called C-Reactive Protein.  Adults should have LESS and a count of 1.  That’s less than ONE.

I have (had) 12.55.  That is TWELVE times the amount of protein in my heart than I should have!!!!

shhhiiiiiittttt…….

Methinks my dad runneth through my veins.

When the doctor said on top of this staggering result, I was also severely anemic and had no iron stores in my body and even less vitamin D….I got scared.  Really scared.  Like going to sleep thinking it was my last night scared.  Only to wake up blessed with another day.  Yes folks, it scared the bejessus out of me.

But I didn’t tell many.  In fact, other than my wife, I told four.

The wife held me close and promised I would be okay.  The bestie began to research it and lift me up….the sister vowed support, the daughter watched me like a hawk and the momster prayed….and prayed.

I am okay, well, I will be okay….doctor put me on prescription iron and vitamin D….it’s like little chunks of charcoal going down my throat and I bitched about it every damn day….but I was not going out without a fight.  I was feeling my defiant oats.

Two weeks after THAT doctor’s appointment, I went for my mammogram.  Those are more fun than NOTHING….the only thing less fun….waiting for the effin’ results.

As I was dressing, the tech told me, “They will call you, I see a dense spot on one of your breasts.  I can’t tell what it is, but I wanted you to have a “heads up” when they call you. ”  She asked if I wanted to see it and as I looked at the traitor in my body….I couldn’t breathe…

It couldn’t be.

Not to me.

God. No.

I walked out of the room, as composed as I could, I sat down, took one look at my wife and my eyes filled with tears faster than I can explain…how could this happen?  what was it?  how was I supposed to do this?  how was I supposed to love her and leave her?  my kids….how are they going to cope?  My mom….my sister, my niece…how was I ever going to do this to them?   It was a rush that still hurts my soul.  My wife took one look at me and I mouthed the words “they found something.”  It was all I could get out.  Her face drained of color and the panic in her eyes broke me.

Fast forward through a wretched weekend filled with horrible dreams and lots of positive thoughts to Monday.  I am at work….I felt as if it was all going to be okay….I was going to be okay….I didn’t feel sick….no….but then my cell phone rings…and it’s a technician, Barbara, to be exact.

“Ms. Tillery?  Hello, I just finished reading your mammogram and we are concerned about a mass we see on your right breast.  We need you to come back in as soon as possible for another mammogram and possible sonogram.”

I knew the call was coming, I had prepared all weekend for it.  But it didn’t help.  I sat, alone at my desk….a world working around me and I was in a vacuum.  What the hell had I done?  Why me?

I scheduled for the next day to go back.  And I did.  More squishing….more probing.  More uncertainty.  After the sonogram, the doctor came in with my wonderful nurse and told me some uplifting news…it didn’t look like it was malignant, but he wanted to do a biopsy to be 100% sure.  Smile.  Smile.  Grrrreeeat.  My nurse scheduled it as soon as possible and again told me it looked like a fibroid, I had probably had it my whole life.  It would be fine and she would be with me.  Her name….Susan….just like my momma…

So fast forward to the Biopsy Day.  I show up….Dr. Wonderful Smile and Nurse Mommy are there…the biopsy takes less than 4 minutes and he tells me he will call me as soon as he has the results.  And again reassured me that he believes it is nothing more than a fibroid.

It was a horrible night….I was sore and tender and I kept thinking….if I lose my hair, who will shave their head for me?  With me?  Who will support the wife, the kids, the family while they support me?

Damnit!!!!  I am the strong one.  I am the one that takes care of this fucking family….what the hell are we going to do NOW??!!?

For the 10 days I ran through this…two people knew…my wife and my bestie.  Because I had already heaped my heart bullshit on my kid, my sister and my mom, I couldn’t do this to them.  That’s not my style.  My style….hold it all in, take care of the family…just like I promised my dad….“you take care of this family.  You do what you need to, but hold it together with love and strength.  You take care of this family.”

Lo and behold….the next day…Dr. WONDERFUL calls bright and early….“Stephanie, it’s a fibroid.  It’s nothing.  You are 100% a-okay!  However, if you would like it removed, we can schedule that, but I don’t think it will be an issue to leave it alone.”

After I burst into tears for the 4,000,000th time in 10 days, I thanked him, promised to name my next child Dr. Wonderful and assured him if I had lived with it this long, then I would take it to my grave….a long time from now.

I then realized, the only thing I had left to take care of was the ticker.  The old heart….the thing that will keep me around for a long time.  For anniversaries, birthday’s, weddings, grandchildren.

And I get DEFIANT….

I wasn’t going to let fear of my heart giving out dictate my life.  Not now.  NOT EVER….I went last week for a ciMT test to check my carotid arteries.  I had a genetic test done to see about my DNA-linked chances at  heart attack and strokes.

I realized that I have been defiant.  I am not letting others bullshit hurt me, bother me, consume me or dictate my life and emotions any more….translating into my blood pressure being better than it ever has been.

I realized that I have been defiant.  I am making wise choices and not using food to comfort me or fill up bored spaces in my life anymore.  I enjoy food for what it is, a life-sustaining necessity…translating into weight loss and more energy.  And better cholesterol numbers…

I realized that I have been defiant.  I dream of my life, long term….I have dreams, goals and ambitions that carry me forward.  I now can look back and love where I have been, what I have been through and realize the lessons along the way have shaped me into a person that no longer lives with my head in the sand.

I defiantly look my fears dead on.  I don’t fear anything any more….well….I mean, I still fear most stupidity but I have learned to embrace it so much more.

I am defiant.  I will not allow my health to rule me.  I will take this head on.  I will heal my heart….I will listen to my body and most importantly, I will live.

“Be defiant of the fear.  Don’t back down from it….stand up, look it in the eye and beat it.”

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