Tag: life

I’m Fine

It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been regrouping myself and trying to get back into the groove of things even with a lot of setbacks. But here I am. I’ve been forging ahead and trying to wake up remembering that (1) you only have one life, so don’t sweat the little things, (2) the important things in life are your family and friends, and (3) do what will make you happy.

Sometimes, when you’re going about your day in the midst of something that is overwhelming (like your job, maybe it’s studying, moving, helping a family or friend in need), you forget what you wake up thinking about: “I’m going to have a good day. Keep things in perspective. Etc.” Well, today is one of those days. I woke up having a go-getter mindset. Then I began to get slowly overwhelmed over the day: sluggish, annoyed, and defeated. Nothing really terrible happened. I was just beginning to get frustrated with what I was doing in the moment despite my best efforts; I wasn’t happy with where I was going.

All of a sudden, I just felt stuck in life.

I thought my mindset would change when I got home—change of scenery, a place I was comfortable with. But no, I was even more frustrated. Then I came across a blog entry from a southern blogger who talked about why we go to the default saying, “I’m fine” whenever we’re asked how we’re doing. I’ve seen so many articles on this topic, and each one has felt the same. They’ve all combed through so much on this particular topic that I felt there was nothing more for anyone to talk about, really. But her perspective was interesting: the reason she would say, “I’m fine” was (1) because it was a southern way of life and (2) because, in part, social media and, in some ways, women, are a part of this. (By that, she means, we say we are fine in real life and on social media, because if we say otherwise once or more than once, we get the, “It’s okay. We all have those days,” response and then behind our backs, they say something else.) The blogger goes on to discuss that she’s tired of hearing, “I’m fine,” and that if she were really friends with someone, that someone should lay it all out there honestly because she would want someone to listen to her if she were to have a bad day as well.

Firstly, I don’t think it’s just a southern thing. (Now this is just my opinion.) I think it pertains to anywhere we live. I can’t speak because I haven’t lived all over the country or all over the world. But from where I grew up, to states I’ve visited, as well as other countries, it’s all been the same response. Furthermore, I could say that’s how I feel the culture is in San Diego, as well. I don’t know—I could be wrong. Perhaps being in the law field, I feel that you have to be professional and not let emotions get the best of you to your partner, firm, company, clients, anyone. Maybe other professions in San Diego are laid back and you can just talk about how you’re feeling with your co-workers. (Thoughts, anyone?)

Now as to her latter reason, in theory, that sounds great. I’ve always thought this growing up: that friends should be able to tell friends anything. But let’s be honest. She’s right about women being a part of the problem. I’ll also say what some are really afraid to say, and that I have been afraid to say for a while, as well. Some girls just don’t play like that. I have friends that I feel like I can tell anything to but then feel bad afterwards thinking they’re judging me for complaining, for having a bad day, for feeling crummy over something small (maybe once or maybe often). I’ve seen them talk about their other friends and say, “she complains too much,” “I just don’t have time for that, etc.” (I’ve been guilty of this before, too. Don’t worry. I make conscious efforts to stop doing things like this.) I’ve seen some of them gradually change not only in person but in social media; they don’t tell me about tiny things that bother them when they used to. I understand that we tend to do these things as we grow up, but the extent that some people put these walls up for the sake of “adulting,”– it really catches me off guard and a lot of me finds it unnecessary. Do you really need to do that with friends? Am I the only one that doesn’t mind when a close friend, no matter where they are in life or what circumstances they’re now in, just calls me up and says, “Hey, I want to talk. My life just sucks right now”? Shouldn’t we keep part of that aspect in our lives to stay a little sane and healthy? It’s a strange and sort of insane balance of being a friend, or so I’ve found. We like to appear to have it all together, we’re mature, we’re adults now.

Fortunately, I’m incredibly lucky to have a friend now, after basically my entire life, who I can call up or text any time, any day, and just complain to about anything and everything. I don’t feel bad about it afterwards. And I don’t feel like she’s judging me. (Sure, I say sorry for complaining, but she gets it.) And the relationship works vice versa. (I should also mention that my husband is this exact sort of friend, too, but a girl needs another girl sometimes!) That kind of friendship keeps me sane and feeling healthy. The point is in a man’s world where we women are still trying to fight our way to the top and earn our fair share that men earn, we should support each other at the most basic level — being mentally, emotionally, and physically– if possible,there. There are enough men to judge us when we’re feeling vulnerable, emotional, or even when we’re just going about our day feeling fine as a peach. Ideally, we shouldn’t have to figure out which girlfriend is on our side and will listen to us. Ideally.

But back to my having a downer day and reading that blog post: in a strange way, reading her blog and that particular topic made me feel better. I may not have agreed with her post 100% but I really appreciated her raw and honest perspective on the whole “I’m feeling fine, today” projection to others. It made me think that on days like today, it’s okay to feel down in the dumps. I always knew it was okay to feel that way. I just hate it. I hate acknowledging it. Who likes feeling down? It makes me lose productivity. But today, I’m not feeling fine, and that’s okay. Today, my friend is on the other side of the world in a different time zone, but she’d still listen no matter what the time zone. Today, my husband will tell me it’s okay to feel down because in my position, he has felt the same exact way. So it’s okay. Tomorrow will be another day. Tomorrow, maybe I’ll feel differently and genuinely say, “I’m fine.”

What It’s Like to Provide Hospice Care to Your Own Family

Death happens in so many ways, and many of us handle it in different ways. The first few times I knew of someone dying, I was either too young to understand what was happening or I was intentionally far removed from the situation. I remember trying to get on my tippy toes to see who was on the hospital bed, and I remember how pristine the room was with family crowded around behind these flimsy curtains. I also remember seeing someone I knew — a family friend — who used to be warm, loud, and welcoming just laying peacefully at a funeral. I was too young to process the entire ceremony or even the process leading up to death itself.

The first real death I understood and processed was when I was in my first year of college.  My grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Every summer, I would go to Hawai’i to visit relatives, and this summer was no exception. The only difference was that now, my grandma couldn’t do the things I was used to seeing her do such as cooking us dinner, walking around, and running chores in the backyard. This time, I had to help my dad wash her on the couch, she had a bag attached to her so she could eat and use the restroom, and my father and I would have to clean this bag often. It was definitely a little hard to see, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t swallow.  She was hardly tired.  I knew she was a strong spirit, and this wasn’t going to stop her boisterous attitude. By the end of that summer, she seemed to be improving, but just in case, I said my goodbyes. Not long after I flew back to California, she passed away suddenly, and I was not expecting it. Two months later, my grandfather passed suddenly, and of course, that was hard on me.  He was in amazing health when I had said goodbye to him. I’d spent every single summer with them since I was a child, and the period in which they passed wasn’t long enough for me to digest either of their deaths. It was a difficult rest of the year to say the least…

Around that same time, my other grandma was diagnosed with dementia and it progressed quickly each year. I made trips back home often to help my parents care for my grandma– feeding, clothing, showering, walking. It was a ’round-the-clock responsibility that we chose to take on as a family because my mom and aunt were nurses, and I don’t regret it.

Fast forward to ten years later. About four weeks ago, I got a phone call from my mother saying that my grandma had suffered a major heart attack, and the doctor said that before this, she had (over time in the past year) been having minor heart attacks. No one knew because my grandmother didn’t know what was wrong with her and likely forgot almost as soon as it happened so she never voiced anything. Since then, only 25% of her heart has been functioning.  I flew home the next day I received the phone call to help my mother because we were going to begin palliative care as the prognosis was essentially that she did not have long to live, and my dad had just had cataract surgery rendering him helpless as well. No other relatives were around to help care for my grandma. That week, I spent all day every day next to my grandmother. Feeding her, changing her diapers, bathing her in bed, brushing her teeth, taking her on walks when she felt well enough. On those walks, I’d walk her down the same streets she’d walk me every day for seven years to get to school. It was just us two, and I would stroll her in silence taking in the sunlight.  We both love the warmth of the sun.  Those were our moments, and I’m lucky I got those moments. At night, my mother and I woke up every 4 hours to give her medication and change her diapers. During the entire week and a half, she still knew who I was and was able to talk to me, and she seemed more alert than before. As soon as I got to the airport to go back to my new home with my husband, I fell apart. I cried the entire way home and well into the night in my husband’s arms. But I thought at least, I got to say my goodbyes, and she knew who I was when I left.  I didn’t need to go through the heartbreak again.

Then just a few days ago, my mother said she needed my help again because she needed to work. The day arrived, everything seemed just as it was when I left. My grandma was still eating, could sit up, and look at me. But as the night took over and my mother and I continued our four hour routine, we noticed my grandmother had taken a turn for worse breathing harder. At times, we saw her stop breathing for seconds at a time before we could proceed to rotate her. The only time she would open her eyes completely was when she was in pain and couldn’t breath. When my mother would walk out of the room to get water for her, she would look at me wide-eyed when it was just the two of us in this huge living room, and it completely broke my heart. I was so helpless.  She was telling me with her eyes, “Help me, I can’t breathe.” Just her eyes struck at my heart.  At this point, I had never dealt with death this closely, and I could have lost it then and there, but I needed to keep it together for my mother. When my mom walked back into the room and my grandma gasped for air, my mother knew she needed to give her pain medication, and it was the first time she ever needed to use it. By morning, my mother and I looked at each other and knew she was starting to actually go.

My grandmother, as of this morning, can no longer drink liquids or eat baby food. Instead, we have to brush a sponge filled with water to wet her lips and make it easier for her to suck on it. We grind her pills with liquid, and she can barely even take it. She can no longer speak, and her eyes roll to the back of her head and stay closed. Her breathing stops more often, and when she gasps for air, it pierces my heart every. single. time.  With her congestive heart failure, liquid is filling her lungs, and she can’t cough.  When she breathes, you can hear the gurgling. She turns her head left to right in agitation trying to breathe.

After only one day, my heart can’t bear it. I’m ready to collapse, burst in tears, and my heart is panging. But seeing my aunt and mom crying, I know I need to be strong. We know the end is nearer than we thought, and she could go at any moment.  I don’t know how I am going to be able to handle this or move forward. I’ve never dealt with death on this level. Providing hospice care for a family member is incredibly hard– having to watch them suffer like this every second of the day, getting worse every hour and you can’t take away their suffering. Having to provide comfort to them while watching them die. I would not wish this on anyone. I’m not ready to deal with this at all… I didn’t think heart break could get any worse. Just moments ago, I walked into her room to get something and that huge lump in my throat and the tears just hit me.  The piles of clothes she wore were on her bed, her wheelchair that she had used just a few days ago was there, she used to sleep in there, but her clothes… her clothes. As I walked back out of her room and into the living room to sit next to her and seeing her so helpless, I am losing it this second.

I can’t help thinking that she knew I would be back without my even knowing it, and she held on just for me to come back. But that breaks my heart even more. I don’t know how I will face the rest of this night or even tomorrow, but all I can do is pray.

Transparency as a Blogger

When I first decided to take up blogging in high school (remember the good old Xanga days?), I usually never hesitated to write out my thoughts, feelings, or opinions. I spoke freely to the world as if they were a part of my life and knew almost everything about me. In a sense, they did, because I went to school with them. There was little consequence then because I would soon move away for college, and other high schoolers were blogging about similar topics.

Photo credit: Lindsey O’Nele

When I decided to take up blogging seriously, again, I was thinking more about what kind of content I wanted, how I wanted to brand myself as a blogger, and how I wanted my initial design of my blog to reflect me. In the back of my mind, I knew I needed to eventually consider how transparent I wanted to be with my followers, but I wasn’t ready to address it just yet. With my career being in law (for now), the sad and unfortunate truth is that many will judge you and hold you to a higher standard. Topics that you tackle must be done so tastefully and professionally. So, my captions and the one other blog post I have so far, while genuinely authentic, allow you to only scratch the surface of who I am and what my thoughts are on certain things.

Why is this such a big thing to consider? It seems whether there’s a popular travel, lifestyle, wedding, photographer, or fashion blogger, they all allow you into intimate aspects of their lives. I’m just not comfortable with that yet. I wholeheartedly believe that when you begin a public blogging journey, you bring in all those around you—friends and family. So how you choose certain topics for your blogs and present written or photo content can bring judgment on you and loved ones. (It’s much easier—for me at least—to ignore judgment from strangers.)  Another thing is that it’s also not just judgment I’m afraid of but I just naturally tend to shy away from all things public eye. I have never liked being at the center of attention, but deciding to pursue this passion places me in such a situation. Perhaps this will be one of the biggest obstacles for me to overcome as a blogger, and I’ll have to figure out how to let my readers in another way… but for now, I’m still navigating. And that’s okay with me.