I was 38.
As I said in the previous post, I was facing health issues such as pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and just overall not feeling well, in addition to depression and anxiety. The class I didn’t really graduate with, but considered me part of their class, the Class of 1992 was starting to plan the big 20 year reunion. I was asked to do the website where people could get info and pay for their ticket to the event. It would be a two-night reunion, an informal meet-up at a wine bar, then a nice catered event the next night. I put up a no-frills website for the reunion and planned for ScrapFest, did my usual anxiety-ridden days. I’d wake up, send the kids off to school, most likely go back to sleep, then take my time getting around to website design or t-shirt design or whatever it was I had to work on. Scott was working in Salt Lake City and really liked it. He went to lots of concert and in Park City at Sundance, Joan Jett flicked a pick at him and hit him – he loves telling this story, just ask him. I would go to see him in SLC in October, the weekend after my reunion.Just the idea of the reunion and seeing old friends and perhaps frenemies drove me into panic attacks. I went back and forth over whether I wanted to go or not and didn’t decide for sure to go a few weeks before. Because in the words of OK Go, “Cause nothin’ ever doesn’t change but nothin’ changes much.” There would be more people there that I wanted to see versus the people I didn’t care to see. I ordered a fantastic dress, if I do say so myself and played out scenarios in my mind. It would be fine. It would be a disaster. It would be no big deal. It would be great. The kids had that Friday off because it was “Fair Day” in St. Tammany – they just make up holidays down there, so we drove up on Thursday and stayed with my mom and grandfather. On Friday I met Will and Molly for lunch at Superior. It was delicious and they were great as always. The kids were with my mom. I did some shopping, ended up in a parking lot on Youree Drive crying and reapplying makeup before going to the wine bar, where I knew I’d see old friends. I was the second person there, due to my practically perfect punctuality. There to greet me was the always smiling Robin Jones. Robin was always great. I ordered some drink with Coke and told the server that I didn’t want to taste the alcohol. We chatted, waiting for more peeps to show. Jenny Roberts came and sat next to me, an anchor to my balloon just almost out of reach. Jenny and I would become great friends and I am thankful for her. Same goes for Christan and Katie who were there too. So were a bunch of people who annoyed me that I wasn’t really friends with but would repeatedly have classes with in high school. Then in walked the major frenemy. She found me instantly. The prodigal whore. She walked up and said she heard I live close to her and I told her I lived in Covington. She said a couple of other forgettable sentences, I handed a her a box of chocolates to try that were left on the table by a classmate in from Switzerland in skinny jeans. She semi-thanked me, I think, before saying “well, fuck you” and turning around and heading to the bar. That pretty much summed up our entire friendship – her shitting on whatever happiness I managed to find in life. Just the fact that I lived 40 minutes from her was enough to set her off. Or maybe she was already going to pop off. Or maybe it had nothing to do with me, I don’t know. I only know I was on the receiving end. I talked to Brandy and Jenny quite a bit before making eye contact with a guy I almost went out with in high school. He struck up a conversation with me, saying he’d be my date for the next night since my husband was out of town. I ignored this statement. More people were in the wine bar and I started to feel suffocated. Then the guy I almost went out with spilled an entire drink down my back. I turned to Jenny and Brandy and said I had to go and I would see them the next night. I went to my minivan, backed out of the parking space, drove to McDonalds and had a panic attack in the parking lot. I fumbled for my phone. Texted Will, but he was practicing for the Revel the next day. Texted Molly. Told her what a disaster the night had been and that she was smart to stay home; she got me to laugh, so that was an improvement. Of course, for a normal person, it wouldn’t have been a disaster, maybe getting told F you and having a drink spilled down your back after being hit on by a married man was just another night for a normal person. I took a Klonopin, drank a sweet tea and drove back to my grandfather’s, then told my mom about the disaster. Then next day I found myself crawling under a desk and hooking up my grandfather’s new computer because that’s what you do when you’re the Tech Support in the family. Then I set off to see Will preform with his band at the Red River Revel. It was cold. It was very cold. I was wearing jeans and chiffon because I hadn’t packed anything for cool weather because I’m a genius like that. The band was great. Will and I talked for a few minutes before he packed up. He and Molly would be at the place early that night to help setup, I said I’d come too. I left the Revel and had a call from my dad asking me to come pick him up and drop him off at the motorcycle shop to get his bike. Sure, why not? I drove to the house I grew up in and it was surreal. Nothing ever looks the same once you go back. My dad was cool as usual and I dropped him off at a shady looking biker shop. Nothing like dropping your dad off at a shady looking biker shop Somewhere in Shreveport.
Robin was in the parking lot of the place where the reunion was held and said she would be back in a bit. I was left with the caterers and walked around. Will and Molly arrived and we set up where people would check in and get their name badges and Will took pictures of each person to post to Facebook. George arrived, I showed him to the bar. I was “on” Kerry for the first part of the reunion, until I retreated back to a corner table with Rhonda, Syralja and her husband, then Will and Molly joined us. It was fine, it was good. Until the frenemy sat down. I mean, seriously. My blood started to boil, the anxiety started welling up in my chest, then my throat. Molly and Will left the table and went to the other room of the ballroom where the music was. Then the frenemy stayed for a bit just enough to make me uncomfortable. A few minutes later Will came back to table and asked me to come to the other room, that there was karaoke. I said I was fine. I wasn’t. I don’t know how many minutes passed by, then Rhonda and I went to the other room. It was packed. Rhonda, Molly, and I did the photo booth, we were cute. Before long it was midnight and everything would turn into a pumpkin. Everyone was meeting up at some bar. Not my scene. Molly, Will, and I went to IHOP and then to a casino to see a friend of his play in a band. Will said I looked like a ball of nerves. I know he had never seen me like that. It was embarrassing. Once it was just the three of us, I was fine. I was good. The band was ok. There was a man with one arm dancing with women that I kept talking about. The dude was working that one-arm dancing. It was Twin Peaksish. I just can’t look away from stuff like that. I said something about him just needing an eyepatch and a parrot. Will and Molly were funny. We had a good time. I was finally relaxed when it was time to go. We said our goodbyes and left. I was thankful the night ended on a good note.The next morning, the kids and I set off back to Covington. Once we got to Natchitoches I was in a great deal of pain, like the worst cramps I’ve ever had. I pulled into a gas station and got some Aleve and managed to get home. There were several times I didn’t think I was going to make it. I had to be okay because the next weekend I was going to Utah to meet Scott and go to Park City, then to Nevada to see Air Supply. I called my OB/GYN as soon as they opened Monday and they told me to come in for an exam, so I did and spent the whole day there. Dr. B said I needed an ultrasound. Like I had time for that. Karen, the wonderful tech did the ultrasound and said Dr. B would have to look for himself, but I could see the giant mass on my right ovary. I went back to the waiting room and posted stuff from my phone to Facebook. I remember a man waiting with his significant other who had taken his shoes off. In the waiting room. Oh, yes he did. I waited. And I waited. The nurse I liked called me back and I waited in an exam room for Dr. B. He came in and showed me the ultrasound pics and said that I had a giant cyst on my ovary and that I apparently wasn’t in menopause. He explained that we would do the cautious thing and not rush into surgery, that he would give me pain medication and start me on birth control pills to try to shrink the cyst, making me come back for ultrasounds every four months and scheduled me for an MRI on Halloween. That weekend I flew to Salt Lake City high on pain killers to visit my husband. It took forever to walk and use the moving sidewalk to get to the exit or whatever. My Vera Bradley Weekender Bag weighed at least 100 pounds. Scott was waiting for me and we drove to Park City resort. I love a resort. Our suite was amazing, dinner was amazing (I love a cheese plate), the next morning brunch was amazing, and my facial at the spa was amazing. I was high on Percocet, but trust me, everything was amazing. We watched a movie, but I don’t remember what it was, but it doesn’t matter because the throw on the end of the bed was the softest blanket I’ve ever snuggled with. The next day we saw the sights of Park City, then went back to Salt Lake to some outdoor mall. I was looking for socks because I forgot my boot socks. I went into a Cold Water Creek and looked around while Scott went into a bookstore. I browsed. There was a nice sales associate at the front who smiled when I walked in, then there was a bitchy angular-faced awful woman who came up to me and said “I’m sorry, we don’t carry anything in your size.” Let me tell you, gentle readers, there is nothing a woman who has money to spend LOVES hearing more than “we don’t carry anything in your size.” She didn’t know if I was shopping for myself, a gift, or socks. She saw an obese woman and made me know I wasn’t welcome. I stared her down and said I was looking for socks – turned around and walked out. I found socks at a store next door. Where there were nice people. I was in pain and I wanted to get back to Scott’s car where I could take something for pain. We went to a P.F. Chang’s and planned the rest of the day. I was still fuming. Don’t make a fat redhead angry. Just don’t do that, America.
Scott drove across the salt flats, giving me facts about Utah while I was thinking about how nice that facial and brunch were and how much I would forever hate Cold Water Creek. We checked into the hotel of a casino just over the Nevada border. The time zone changed when we got to Nevada. We were barely over the border and my iPhone kept switching time zones each time I turned around. It was like being in an episode of the Twilight Zone. Scott had tickets to see Air Supply. I was pretty sure I knew two of their songs, but I was happy just to be with him. We attempted to go to dinner in the casino before the concert, but the servers were taking too long and never came to take our drink orders, so we left and went to the concert hall. Once at our seats, you could see older women everywhere – taking selfies, clearly inebriated. The man sitting next to me was listening to me converse with Scott and asked “where in Texas are you from?” I said “actually I’m from Shreveport, Louisiana” and he said, “well, that’s practically Texas,” which is what I had always told people – it was weird hearing it from a stranger. Air Supply took the stage. One dude’s first name was Russell, the other guy’s last name was Russell. I felt like that was a missed band name opportunity: Russell Russell. With almost each song they sang I’d remark, “oh, I didn’t know this was an Air Supply song” and Scott would laugh. The Russells came into the audience at one point and women pawed at them. At another point in the show, one of the Russells reached his hand out to a woman from the stage and she attempted to climb on stage and he actually said “oh, no, no.” For me, it was a comedy concert.
The long weekend was over and I went back to Covington. I was in a ton of pain all the time. While I was in Utah, Scott and I had started talking seriously about me having weight loss surgery and once I was home, I called the surgeon’s group that I knew I’d want to use. They contacted my insurance company (which would pay nothing) and I made an appointment for a consultation. After talking back and forth with Scott and the surgeon’s office, my surgery was planned for December 12th, 2012. It would be laparoscopic and my mom would come in to help me with the kids. Scott would come in for Christmas. Hillary and Megan were there for me and I went into surgery weighing 309. You can read the whole story under my “Shrinking Kerry” series, but I lost right around 100 pounds. It was the best thing I could have done for my health. No more high blood pressure, no more pre-diabetes. Like I’ve said, I always thought I looked cute, so I think I was pretty cute in my before photo. I was wearing my favorite dress by Johnny Was and those boots were made for big girls with wide calves. They would be too big by the end of the winter. Weight loss is funny like that. My recovery was harder than hard. For the month after surgery I wanted to die just about everyday. That’s how terrible I felt. Everyday I woke up and asked God to make me better. It was a month until I felt better. I went scrapbooking in January with my friends and could barely eat anything and nothing sounded good to me anyway. I felt like that for a good while. Absolutely no appetite and no desire to eat. I forced down protein shakes, then protein bars. I bought a blender to make my own shakes, then broke it. But I was losing weight. And hair. And shoe sizes.
Scott started working back in Texas and was home every other weekend. It was a relief to have help with the kids and an adult to talk to. He handled grocery shopping for me for the most part. While I was recovering, I was still in pain from the giant cyst on my ovary. Dr. B said I wasn’t far enough down the road from my sleeve surgery to have the cyst removed during open surgery, which he was afraid he would have to perform. He said he could go in laparoscopically to see if he could remove the cyst and go ahead and do an ablation. So, that was in May, I believe. My mom came down again to help with the kids. My mom was always a great help during the times I had to have surgery, and there were several in just a few years. I was thankful for her. My mother-in-law brought me to the hospital. Dr. B was late and it went down from there. When I woke up, I was told the cyst couldn’t be removed because of the size – OH AND THERE WERE TWO GIANT CYSTS – and I cried and cried. Later my mother-in-law would tell me Dr. B removed tons of adhesions, fibroids, and did the ablation. Again, I was on pain killers. I was released before I was ready, blood running down my leg. I have never been treated that way by medical staff. Once I was able, I called Dr. B’s office to get my favorite nurse to explain what was done. I cried and told her how disappointed I was and told her how horrible the hospital experience was – she asked the name of the recovery nurse and said Dr. B would take it up with her supervisor.
I cannot tell you how disappointed I was to find out I was still carrying the cyst around, and the new extra cyst. I was saddled with constant pain and able to do less and less as time went on. Here I was losing weight to improve my life, but having to take pain meds and stay laying on my side half the time I was home to lessen the pain. Pain + depression + anxiety does not make for much of a life. I cried often. Mostly in the shower because no one can tell you’re crying in the shower and you don’t have to explain why Mommy is sad again. And again. I managed to go to lunch with Hillary once a month and plan ScrapFest with Megan and try to do my usual activities. I barely went to the grocery store. I did a lot of shopping at the Walgreens practically down the street from my house. On good days I could make it to Target or Winn Dixie. I lived like this for a year and a half.
I sank lower and lower into a new depth of depression. I was on antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, and Ambien to sleep. I went in every four months for another ultrasounds of cyst one and cyst two. Nothing changed. Dr. B was putting me off. I could tell.
And then I was 39 and Scott and I decided to put the house up for sale and look for a new house in Texas.