Hey Baby, Let the Good Times Roll

2014. What a mothereffer you could be. The warmest year on record except for every day I spent in Los Angeles? You brat. You KNOW how cold I get.
But besides the usual shit, which has been documented so diligently, and perhaps maybe a bit too much, if you ask my family, this year had its' moments. And it is within me to be able to take the crazy along with the good.
Which is good.
Because there was a lot of fucking crazy. 
(There really was, guys.)
So, 2014. What good hath you brought?


This fucking kid.
Watching her become a person is probably the dopest thing I have ever seen.
She is so funny.
She is so full of light.
She is so snuggly.
She talks now. She has ideas and plans and she executes them. 
She is always making me fake hamburgers and they always taste the same, like disgusting plastic, because I pretend to eat them and inevitably taste some and I pretend to choke, and she always laughs, which we'll worry about later and give her Heimlich lessons.
 She is confident and assured. 
She knows when to go for the laugh. 
She knows when to be pouty. (I taught her that.)
There will never be another Christmas again where she is two, beginning to understand the wonder of the season. 
Where she rearranges the ornaments she likes and calls the tree her "Minnie tree."
There will never be another first time in New York City. 
She fit right in. She watched everything. She felt it, and I got to be witness to her growth, to her changing, to her being.
How could the year be so bad when I've got that?

Time Spent in Los Angeles
There is something so specific about the light in LA, the way it bounces and shimmers from the East Side to the West.
It's a special place.
I've tried to explain how to love it to my friends who live in New York, but they are snooty about surviving all four seasons.
I never had to try to love it. I went there, I was sixteen, and I knew I would end up there one day.
And so much shit has happened since, that every time I land at LAX (four times this year), I head outside, breathe in and out and feel immensely grateful.
There are few places I feel at home.
My parents' house, my grandmothers' house, New York, and LA.
(Genevieve and I are flying out New Year's Eve. We will be in Santa Monica by 4:30, just to watch the last sun of the year descend upon the ocean.)

This Ding Dong Doggie
This dog.
For never leaving my side, for keeping my feet warm, for hogging the bed, for being OK when I exchanged you for a human partner, for coming back when things ended, for being a dumb dog who doesn't understand a fucking word I'm writing. You are easy, simple company, Shea. I never truly understood the whole man's best friend thing until this dog refused to leave my side as I recovered from hospital stay after hospital stay. Way to kill it at being a dumb dog, Shea Stadium Bergin.


The sunrise

So many nights I did not sleep. Most nights I did not sleep. 
Most nights I forgot how to sleep and so I stayed up, watching The West Wing, being less productive than any of the guys on Tinder I meet who live in the parents' basement.
Shit was bad.
But I would always look forward to daylight, because I knew I would drag myself up to see the light.
On the good days I would walk East, Shea tied to me, and stride straight toward the great blue sea.
The sun would crack open, yellow as a yolk, and we would glide into the day.
(Usually by falling back asleep.)
My most peaceful moments are when I am within something bigger than myself. 
When I feel altered and changed by something that does not belong to me, but to all of us. 
Universal and whole.
Day light.

Travel, or: the reason I have no money.
I had to be so many places this year.
I had to go. I had to have momentum. I had to do something other than be alone with my sickness and my sadness.
And so I moved around. I glided, when I could glide.
I spent a couple months in Brooklyn, but that was not far enough.
And so I headed to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, and down to Los Angeles. 
And then I had the opportunity to surf in Mexico,
and I did that, even though it hurt. 
And many times I could not get up, from bed or on the damn surfboard.
Some days my particular afflictions feel bolder than they were the day before, and these days sink me.
In Mexico, I swam.

The rest of you.
There are many things I've done or said or fucked up that I regret.
I treat myself pretty badly sometimes, and I can do it to others too.
What a jerk I can be.
And yet.
I still have this big beating heart that lives outside of me, that is there for me. I have numbers I can call when I need help.
I have my parents, who are saddled with the task of caring for me, yet never make me feel like a burden.
The same goes for my siblings, whose love is beyond measure.
And the friends I've had since elementary school, and high school and college.
We had great weddings this year, and gatherings in Denver and the Poconos. I got to move in packs.
Whether it was with family or friends,
I had a pack.
And that made this year all the more liveable.
So thank you all.
Because I can say eff this year, or I can see, look, I got to watch children grow and change. 
And while I am not grateful for sickness, 
I do believe that it has given me a bitter but knowing 
perspective of the way life can kick you in the balls, time and time again, while handing you over the most precious of gifts, time and time again.
See you all in 2015.


All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth (plus a bedside performance by Alvin, Simon & Theodore!)


I wake up coughing, choking on the something that is scratching the back of my throat. I throw the covers off and the light on and in my hand is blood and a piece of a tooth.
I think of the dreams, the countless nightmares I have had about losing my teeth, and how they are all coming true. And how somewhere in the midst of that unconscious knowledge–I knew I was losing teeth before I woke up–I bled before I woke, I choked before I could see.

It is almost Thanksgiving, and then almost Christmas. But I cannot think of turkey without thinking of the pain that would accompany each bite.

The next day, I see my dentist. A buzz fills the room and then a pause in the action. She is thinking. The dentist tells me to open my mouth wider and I am trying as hard as I can. I feel my lips stretch and break and I wish for Vaseline. She says I can close my mouth and the dental hygienist wipes my spit and blood.

The dentist draws all the air in the room as she looks at me and says that they need to go.

All the teeth need to go.

One, two...8 teeth, all on the top. She gives me the name of an oral surgeon. Eight teeth will be removed on December 19, the surgeon says, and the denture will come in on Wednesday, and we'll try it on to make sure it fits. Your Christmas food will need to be puréed, he jokes.


We are living older now, I think. We outlive our teeth. At some point, many of us will face the possibility of dentures. It will strike in the oddest of ways, sting you in a way you did not predict. Your health will fail and your teeth will rot.

I don't have a wrinkle yet, or a 401k. I have no plans to age.

I leave the office, my head pounding, my left eye threatening to jump ship. The pain in my left temple is as sharp as the craggy teeth still left in my mouth. What will it be like when they are all gone?

Dentures at 28. I don't wonder how this can be; I know. Twenty eight years of medicine and chemotherapies and radiation and steroids. Osteoporosis, and gum disease, type one diabetes, chronic candidiasis, lupus, scleroderma, thyroid cancer. Each disease a sandpaper rub to my system, each disease burning me off, a little at a time. I look at the elders in my family and I covet their health.

I don't fight anymore. I don't scream. I take medicine to suppress the darkness of physical decay.

I get home and I lie in bed, in the apartment above my parents' garage.

When I thought of all the ways my body could destroy me, I did not think of my teeth. I relied on my teeth. They are bone. They are there, and they should stay there.

I did not expect this.

There is no Tooth Fairy visit for the 28 year old spitting pieces of molar into a sink. A gummy, toothless smile is not so cute when you're dressing up for Tinder dates, pulling down your lips when you smile. My body has learned to hide its flaws. My smile has changed.

I am giving up my teeth. I'm no organ donor; I'm just contributing to medical waste. There is no glory in this. There is no guts to admire in me anymore.

I ache thinking of the pull. I have lived this before. He'll take his eight teeth, and they won't grow back. I'll get my denture. I'll hope my bottom teeth don't spoil too.

I want to fight for these teeth. But it is no use. There is no way to salvage these bones.

I am so angry. The feeling surprises me, and it breaks me open, and I am flooded with the emotion I usually stow away.

I cannot fight for these teeth now, and I know now I never really did. The advice given to me ten years ago went unnoticed, and I carried on, knowing I was high risk and forgetting to floss most nights anyway. I was 18 and in college and passed out smelling like beer and cigarettes most nights.

These teeth never had a fighting chance in a mouth like mine.

I am giving these teeth up so that I can go on. Maybe these sharp pieces of bone, soon to be removed, will remind me of what is left of me: what is left to fight for, what remains at stake. They are a small part of a body that needs serious maintenance.

We are not invincible. Our strongest bones will one day break.

I didn't expect this fight so soon, and I am tired and weary. It wasn't my fault and it wasn't not my fault. Death comes for all of us, one tooth at a time.

The teeth are going, but I am not toothless, not yet.


Trigemenial Neuralgia

I swear to God, I must have been Hitler in my past life.

I actually hate this line of thought; that we are reincarnated and paying, karmically, for the sins caused by our former selves.

I'm also not quite convinced of karma. I have been an asshole many times in my life, many many times in my life, but I know even bigger assholes who walk around scot-free, without any karmic retribution.

Yeah. I don't believe any of that crap.


For the past few weeks, I've been experienced pain in my lower left jaw. My right jaw had gone completely numb when I was in Mexico. I had also been experiencing MS-like symptoms. Falling often, dizzines, blurred vision.I believed this to be from the bad teeth that would soon be extracted. 

Until Tuesday, when the pain in my gums, cheek and jaw was so bad, I was admitted to the hospital.

I needed IV pain medication to sedate me, to soften my pain. I cried hysterically for days, because a pain like this was even too big for me to handle.

I had no idea something could hurt so badly, I'd truly wish to be dead so that I would be free physical pain. 

I was released Thursday morning after they seemed to come to a conclusion. and had me scheduled to meet a neurosurgeon and pain management doctor tomorrow.

They hesitated to give me the diagnosis, because as my doctor friend responded to the news :"Fuuuuck. Noooo.."

I was diagnosed with a neurological disorder called Trigeminal Neuralgia, where convulsions in the face cause pain that feels like electrical bolts. I thought my cheekbone was coming through my skin.

The diagnosis is more common over 50 but it is still very rare. LIke, one in 50,000. Sheeeeet.

I have to find a way to keep living despite this absolutely horrific pain.

It's absurd, for me, to be diagnosed with what they call

...the most painful affliction known to mankind. 

The suicide disease.

Like, Jesus Christ. 

My book is gonna be amazing now.

Thank you for all the love. It is appreciated.



Is it okay for me to admit that sometimes, it's really hard to see anything to be grateful for, because I'm in so much pain it's hard to see straight, sleep or eat... 

I will be honest here because there is no point in lying about the brutal truth of chronic disease: it hurts it hurts it hurts. It fucking hurts, and it hurts every day, although some are worse than others. (see: the last 24 months.) My mouth is a graveyard, craggy, broken teeth and wide open sores. Ulcers that make me punch stuff and swear and cuss till I fall the fuck down. I'm in the thick of it.

It is hard to see what is good underneath the deep layer of pain and painkillers. It can be so hard to remember the point of this fight. But this week, I looked around and saw everyone suffering, too. I saw them living through it. I saw their grace, and I prayed for mine to come.

I am blessed with so much. Everything except good health and dental insurance, really. I am thankful for the enduring love that sailed me through the sick this year. I am incredibly thankful for my family, who take care of me in every way, and for my friends who stick it out, who empathize and try to understand. Thank you.

I am so frustrated and sick and feverish, but I am thankful to be alive, to see and smell all of this. For the fact that I get to live, and experience it all, and make new memories. I get to be here now. 

What a gift that is.


In Which We Marvel

I spend so much time in bed, examining my brokenness. I slide my tongue over my teeth, counting the cracked ones. The craggy half teeth. The chips, the holes.

They will soon be all gone. It seems I have convinced myself this is the worst thing that could happen to me.

I was in Mexico two weeks ago when a tiny part of my lip went numb. My right arm tingled and my legs were hot with sun. The numbness spread. My entire chin lost feeling. Part of my right cheek, too.

I went to the doctor and he shrugged and said to get a brain MRI. He said he did not think anything was wrong. 

I went to the dentist and she was more concerned so she sent me to the oral surgeon who stuck his fingers in my mouth and pulled until a bad tooth was excavated. It hurt like hell, and I don't admit that easily. My pain tolerance is high and it is a point of pride for me, the way I beat my chest. Toughness.

The oral surgeon and I discussed when he would remove all my top teeth and replace them with a denture. I was bleeding and drooling and still half-crying as I tried to negotiate down the price of the seizure of my teeth. $2700 + $1800 for the denture. He said he would work with me. I said, I'm on disability, I only get a thousand a month. The receptionist said she would mail me a quote.

My chin is still numb. I have my MRI this afternoon. I am sure it is fine. 

I wake up most mornings with a terrible headache. It gets better once I take my prescription migraine medicine but those few minutes of consciousness are truly terrible. It is like this almost every day.

I can't look at screens when my head and mouth hurt and this is when I marvel at the brokenness of my body. I scan it. The head hurts, the nose clogs, the mouth is a minefield. The throat hurts, the thyroid was cancerous, the lymph nodes perpetually swollen and sore. The chest aches, the stomach paralyzed (but temporarily fixed with Botox injected during a sedated endoscopy weeks ago). The pancreas: useless now that I am a full blown type one diabetic. The hips, the knees, the feet, these things ache in the everyday.

I can’t get over the teeth. I don’t want to have a gummy smile. Being toothless is cute for five minutes in the first grade.
I have to time it right. So that I’m toothless for a week in early December. They will take seven teeth out and then there will be open sockets that will need to heal. I’ll need pain meds, and salt water, and ice and heat. I need to get it done asap, but I want to eat Thanksgiving dinner, and I don’t want to miss gymnastics with Sadie. I have to plan it just right. I have to download movies I want to see. I have to refill my Dialudid. I have to do this just right.

It’s the little things, the everyday things, the stuff we take for granted that when we lose them, we are shocked. We marvel. We let them pull the teeth. We move on.


It's Not What You Think: Type One Diabetes

Over the course of my 28 years on this planet, I've received some crappy news. Like being told I had lupus. Or finding out I've been wearing the wrong bra size for all these years. Hearing that I had cancer. Finding out that Brad PItt and Jennifer Aniston were splitting up. And one day, in the hospital, learning that I was now an insulin-dependent diabetic and oh, Amy Poehler and Will Arnett are dunzo.

Yes. I have heard all that in these crazy years of mine.

But the most jarring diagnosis of mine, the one that has truly changed my life, has been the diagnosis of type one diabetes.

Becoming a type one or type 1.5 diabetic has, for me, completely changed my life. It has taken control of my day to day activities and it has affected and worsened my lupus. Everything that was wrong with me before has only worsened with this diagnosis, and it scares the crap out of me.

A day with diabetes begins with a morning finger poke to see what my blood sugar was overnight. I then take my medicines for my Other Multiple Diseases (trademark coming) and fall back asleep. If my number is below 100, I will have a small snack, like a spoonful of almond butter or half of a banana.

I go on to test my blood at least 6 more times during the day, depending on my activities and how I feel. I test before each meal, and I must count the carbs in the meal or snack and figure out how much insulin I must inject into myself before eating. I inject myself with a needle that makes most people very squeamish. (I have a certain lovable male friend who needs warning before I go ahead and do so. Which makes me laugh because he isn't even afrad of bears and bears are WAY EFFING SCARIER.)

I check my sugar before I drive, before I babysit, before and during exercise. I keep emergency snacks on my person. My purse is littered with used test strips.

My ideal range is between 100-160. But the number on the meter is not just affected by what I put in my mouth. It varies wildly depending on stress and other illnesses. And because I suffer from frequent lupus flares, my diabetes is incredibly hard to control. 

My hands, feet and my head shake when the number is low. My vision blurs. I sometimes lose 50% of my cognitive function. I seem drunk and can't communicate what I need. Being low is incredibly dangerous for a brittle diabetic. Falls are common, and I monitor myself very carefully to make sure I do not slip. When I am babysitting, I take extra precautions. I let myself run a little bit higher as a safety net, because it is safer in the short term to be a little be higher.

When the number is high, I get headaches, sweats, and mood swings. Extreme highs can lead to a condition called DKA, which can lead to coma and death.

Like lupus, type 1 is autoimmune. It is NOT CAUSED by bad eating habits or lack ofexercise. It also CANNOT BE CURED. Insulin is a tool to save our lives, but it is not a cure. 

My body is on a suicide mission, an internal war fought by unwilling cells. And it affects my livelihood every day. 


When I wrote about this last year, I noted my sugars were often in the 400s. This is VERY VERY bad. It has already caused side effects that may not be reversible; I get neuropathy in my feet, and tingling in my legs. Last week my chin went numb and my doctor said "it may be from the diabetes." My poor chin! It had done nothing wrong.

Thanks to my doctors and friends like type 1 mom Sara Jensen, my numbers are better. But type 1 diabetes will never be completely controllable without a cure.

It is as big of a challenge as it was a year ago and I'm realizing it will never get easier.

And so my goal for living well with diabetes is to eliminate my terrible cravings for chocolate and donuts, and to embrace better food choices.  I am better than I was but really, I have miles to go.

I am 28. And this is my life with diabetes.

Donations for the fight against diabetes can be found HERE: donations.diabetes.org.


The One Where I Say Giant Nipple

I spent the weekend in the city with my friends, wishing Meghan and Declan a proper goodbye to London. On Sunday, Genevieve, Rachel and I spent the day ambling around Central Park and having cocktails and Important Life Talks.

At brunch we were talking about almost being 29 and having to think about babies and I said, extremely confidently, that I did not want to have children anymore. That I have such a close bond with Sadie that I don't feel the need to have my own child. I said that I am so easily sick and exhausted, I feel it would be unfair to be only sort of present for my kid. I can't imagine having more than one and I do not want to have an only child.

And everyone kind of looked at me, shocked. Because I am the Baby Whisperer and children adore me. They are drawn to me. At story time, the babies crawl toward me like I'm a giant nipple or something. I have never really understood it but I have always loved it. 

I am pretty great with them and oddly enough, it makes me feel like I have enough babies surrounding me that I don't need to have my own. Is that weird?

I feel pretty strongly about this but today I was putting Sadie down for a nap. And we fell asleep together and she rubbed my back and laughed and sang me songs and I sort of wished she were mine, or that I could have one that is ALL mine, one who I wouldn't have to drive home at 5:00. 

But then she left and I was too exhausted to read or function. And I wondered if I am protecting myself from wanting children because I'm too afraid of what would happen if I let myself want them. Maybe I am too cowardly and selfish to picture my life with them, because of all the things I would have to do and give up.

I meant everything I said at brunch and I love children, especially those related to me, so much. It feels like enough. Maybe it is for now.

But maybe. Maybe I'm too afraid I won't get better to become a mom, and if I can't get better enough to be a mom,  I never will.

Maybe I never will.


KPB Photography

I've dabbled in photography for years, and as a result, Sade is likely the most well-documented child in the world, but recently I've begun to take it more seriously. So I setup a Facebook page for inquiries and to show off all the pretty babies in my family. You can check it out at the link below.

Thank you!


Happy Birthday, Sadie.

Dear Sadie,

Today, you are two. You've known you were about to turn two for awhile; every time I asked how old you were, you'd say one. Then I asked how you were going to be, and you said two! And you tried to hold up two fingers, but really, you just made the gun sign with your fingers. Sometimes the Star Trek sign. 

I'll make sure you get it right before your party, although I know if anyone asks, you're not going to do it. You'll get really shy and overwhelmed by all the kids, and you'll clam up. You take a few minutes to warm up. Even when you're at library class, you sit in your little chair between Kerry and Molly and search for me, right behind you, for the first couple minutes. You never get restless anymore while the teacher reads. At the end of the class, I prod you to say "thank you" but you're so shy! You usually wave, though.

Two. You are a big girl now. in many ways, you are the same Sadie you were at one. Goofy and happy and an avid fan of books and my iPad, which you only get once you've completely exhausted me for the day. Right now you're obsessed with the videos on my phone. "Vid-yo. Vid-yo." God, kid, you must say it twenty times a day. You love watching yourself laugh and run and your favorite one is you on the swings. "Wings!" you say.

You've always found me very funny. But now you laugh at me ALL THE TIME. If I run into something, you laugh! You laugh at me now, and it kills me. "Sadie!" i exclaim, as if I'm really hurt. And you only laugh harder. You are much nicer to Pop-Pop.

A couple weeks ago, we took you to Chuck E. Cheese. Mama went out to the car for something, and I let you run wild. I'm a little more free-range this way. For a terrifying second, I couldn't see you. And then I looked down and you were trying to figure out how the video games were plugged in. You are a lot like your dad. You're always trying to figure out how everything works, how everything fits. You are a lot like your mom. You love to mother your babies. You love books. You are so sweet, when you aren't trying to make me laugh with your sneaky, witty ways. You love big and you spread your affection wide, just like my sister does.

You love cars and trucks and trains and Minnie Mouse. You love your babies and the teepee I bought you at Target. You love to go in there with your books and baby dolls. 

I still take naps with you, even though it's probably a bad idea. Lately you have gotten very clingy. Last week, I turned to sleep on my side and you scooted over until you were the big spoon to my little. I love watching you wake up. It's the only 30 seconds of the day when you're not at 200%.

You love the beach. You love the ocean. You got over your fear of pools. You are an outdoorsy kid. You love "outduuuur." Your favorite thing to do is take "outduuur" showers. You could stay in there all day, filling up buckets, washing the sides of the shower, hiding from me behind the curtain. It's getting cold now, and I'm preparing for the fits you're going to throw when we can't go outside every second.

You are only two, and so you are easier to understand than grown-ups. I know you better than I know anyone else. I know exactly what you want when you want it. And God, you are such a good kid. My love for your eclipses all the frustration of toddlerhood. 

You are sticky, sweet joy. I hope I never forget your first two years. (That's sort of the point of documenting you.) You are so goddamn lucky. You're a star, and I think you need a sibling soon or else your ego may become Auntie Kelly sized.

Sadie, I love you more than anything else on this planet. Thanks for being my reason to keep going. Thanks for being born. And thank your parents for letting me be such a huge part of your life. I take this role very seriously. 

I always will. No matter how much you laugh when I stub my toe. Stinker.


Auntie Kelly


How to Beat the Flu and Help Diabetics!

Hey, check this out! This is a great way to support the JDRF. Just print this flyer and bring it to a Walgreens or Duane Reade to get your flu shot and a portion of the proceeds goes to the JDRF, which goes toward research and care for type one diabetics.

(A quick serious note: right now my body is immunocompromised. I have to wear masks on airplanes, that's how susceptible I am to infection. So if we hang out, PLEASE get a flu shot. There's different strands of the flu and even a seemingly minor infection will land me right back in the hospital, even though I'm already vaccinated against flu and pneumonia.)

This is a perfect way to support kids & grown-ups with Type 1 while protecting yourself against the long winter ahead! Thanks for all the continued love and support! 💙


A Light-Hearted Dispatch from Hoppy, My Newly Named Hospital Bed

I've officially spent 8 days here: Wednesday. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Today is Thursday and I'm for another night.

If you remind me of how beautiful those days are, I will cut you, and you'll be reluctant to free me from anyplace, anytime.

This morning was interesting! I was going to get to go home, despite the nonstop PukeFest2014, but then my blood sugar tested at 545.

In layman's turns, my pancreas is Jack at the end of Titanic. Occasionally spurting out some signs of life, but mostly just frozen, half-dead and weighing me (here, I am Kate Winslet. Duh.) down. 

I've got no love for my pancreas. Float away, already!

So I'm here another night, having been tested, scanned, radiated and stuck more times than I can count. Oh wait yes I can it's SEVENTEEN. These baby hands may charm and freak you out, but they are shit when it comes to pushing IV drugs. DUMB BABY HANDS Y U SO SMALL?

My parents have been here regularly, cleaning me up when I puke, changing my lines and helping with everything because, you know..."I've been a nurse for 35 years!"

And she does help. And I'm grateful for her and Dad, who's constantly dropping in even though I am a cranky, drugged, sick, stinky millennial, tweeting my miseries into the great big Cloud of Embarassment. He's here, and so are Kristie and Greg, and many more friends and family have called, and wrote me and made me feel so much less alone. Sorry I won't let you visit, but I look rabid.

My team of specialists (basically a full football team) has figured out what's going on and though I don't care to specify at this time, I will admit to saying this. IT SUCKS. My body is an automated Berg-killing machine! Luckily, everything looks benign, but we must kick some gastric, pancreatic, neurological, psychological, rheumatologica ass before I attempt to strike out on my own again.

California will be there, unless it falls into the sea (sooorrrryyy) and I will be there soon. I am aiming for November. 

But more than that, I hope to be managed and healed and alive to see Sadie turn 2 in two weeks and 21 nineteen years from now. Baby's first lemon drop shots! Her realization that Auntie Kels is a cougar and she should run to another bar! I can't wait!

Kids, I don't live a day without pain. But that's not gonna stop me living. It's a big world. I've only just begun.

Thank you for the support and gifts and love. I am humbled and emboldened by each of you.

Love and drugs,
Your Kelly

PS: Many of you have asked how to help: fundraising for First Descents would be the ultimate gift. They are my cancer family and the best thing I have ever been a part of: Dotcom Fundraises for Important Cause

Thank you. I love you all madly.


hospital life

wed/thur/fri/sat/sun/mon. 6 nights here and I don't think I am leaving yet. I'm so cranky and I won't let anyone in, to see me or otherwise.

six nights means I'm used to the smells, the noise, the unending clash of bells and whistles. the wake-ups, double now that my blood sugar needs to be checked. so midnight. two am. four am. and every two hours onward.

I am allowing the drugs to block this out but the haze has to lift (and it does, an hour after the IV push). the memories will resurface and bind themselves to me, scar tissue on my fingers and belly and arms. tiny scars. a broken summer.

on Friday I am supposed to move to Los Angeles. this is no longer. I have realized it would be foolish to go in the midst of what my doctor dubbed "a bad, bad time." I don't know if I have given up or accepted the reality that no doctor thinks it's a wise choice for me to travel right now, let alone deal with the stress of a cross country move.

I had been so looking forward to a restart but I have to tie my laces before I run. 

soon I'll stop running fevers and throwing up. I'll stop with these allergic reactions. and soon they'll figure out why my diabetes isn't responding to insulin the right way. soon they'll diagnose me with something else and put me on a new regime.

until then, I am here.


But, like, HOW are you going to move to California?

I've been back in New Jersey since mid-June, and if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know it's been a tough couple months.

In California, I felt a change start to occur. I was outside more, and I felt more alive. Each emotion was felt keenly and I wasn't burying my head in pillows and sleeping away the day when I felt the slightest twinge of anxiety. My depression was starting to melt. I had bad days but they were fewer, because I was in a place I truly love. I left energized, promising I'd continue to work on myself here.

But I didn't. I fell back into bad habits.

CA was about working to make me better, a step at a time. When I felt sick, I let myself be okay about feeling shitty, because I knew it was hard getting used to a "normal" schedule and life again, in a notso normal body. (Sadly to say, I don't JUST suffer from a disease called laziness.)

When I got home, my will to reenergize collapsed. I am still working on finding out why, but I've got a theory.

In NJ, I have my cushion. I have my parents and brother as caretakers, to help me and cook for me and do my laundry. I took advantage of this, thinking it would help me achieve my goal to return to CA refreshed and well.

But this backfired. Since I was taking no responsibility for my health, I let it fall apart again. All the work my body had done in CA was practically destroyed.

Here, I have Sadie three days a week and another nanny job 20 minutes away. When I wasn't focusing on the kids, I was sleeping and eating poorly. I let myself get rundown and because I was tired, I let myself become lazy. I kept thinking: "I'll be better in LA."

In CA, I was surrounded by two little girls nearly 24/7. It was exhausting, but it was awesome, because they are so fun and cute. Because I needed to be OK to care for them, I treated myself better.

Here, I wasn't up or active enough.  I do a lot of things with Sadie and after babysitting, I get into bed. I stopped taking my nightly walks and instead wasted brain cells on reruns of ER.

I developed more pain and a lot more trouble with my blood sugar. And then, two weeks ago, I had scans and blood work done. The results scared me.

The ultrasound showed fatty deposits in my liver and inflammation and gallstones in my gallbladder. I told close friends this information without really bothering to research or explain it. It scared me and it scared the ones close to me.

My plan to move to CA was crashing, and fast.

Until this week, when I did some research, talked to friends who'd been through this and leaned on the support of my Type 1 Diabetes group. I also talked to my doctor. And this is what I learned:

The gallstones I have cause upset stomachs and can eventually cause blockage, which would lead to immediate surgery. But mine are quite small and won't need surgery if I don't want it. And I'm not going to have my gallbladder removed to resolve indigestion and nausea, my major symptoms; people have told me surgery made them worse. Most older people in their 50-60s have them, and they walk around with them for years. I can get surgery if I want, but I am going to treat it with diet and see how I do. Eventually I'll need surgery, but hopefully that's a long way off.

The same treatment goes for these fatty deposits in my liver. It's called Non-Alcholic Fatty Liver and it is a complication of my diabetes. HOLY SHIT, I thought. I freaked out for a week over this, thinking that my liver was failing and I'd need a transplant asap. But I had blood work done, and my liver function tests are completely normal. And I learned that fatty deposits in the liver are completely reversible with better controlled diabetes. 

The news I got was still crappy. And I had a huge decision to make. I had two options: square away my health issues here with my cushion, or say screw it and go to LA*.

I am choosing the latter. But with a big f-ing asterisk.

*Before I go to LA, I will be put on a continuous glucose monitor. This device, called a CGM, checks your blood sugar every minute. It knows when you're in range or when you are too high or low. When I'm too high, my liver suffers. I get terrible headaches. I sleep constantly.

When I am low, I am wobbly and unsure. I also suffer headaches and dizziness. It is dangerous and can be life-threatening. And these lows were a major reason I was going to stay in NJ. Because I didn't think I could take care of myself if I were suffering from these lows. 

But with the CGM, I won't ever have a scary low. I'll be alerted by alarm when I am too high or low. This will help put my diabetes back under control. It will reverse any liver damage. It will alleviate my anxiety. It will plug me back into life. It'll ensure that I can take care of myself and others.

When it comes down to it, I can't live here with my cushion forever. I love my family and niece and I love home but I want to have a life again. It's time for me to permanently move to California.

I can't do this without support, but I have my cousin and friends in LA.

And I can't do it without doctors, which is why I have an appointment with a nationally ranked diabetes doctor three days after I fly in. And that juicer I bought and have been using? It's coming. So is my bike. (And my helmet because c'mon.)

This is a big step for me. It's not going to be easy. Because of my health, nothing will ever be easy. But I've put bolts in this plan. This plan has insurance. This plan has a foundation stronger than any of my other plans have ever had before.

I am emboldened. I am fucking ready.


Why Tattoos Matter to Me

When strangers ask me why I got this paper airplane tattoo on my forearm, I weakly reply that I've always wanted a tattoo in this spot. I don't tell them that this is where I typically have an intravenous line put in. I don't say that it's where the bruises first show up, the gashes from a blown line, the rash from a new allergy.

So much of recovery from an illness–especially ones that dramatically change your appearance, like cancer–is learning to accept your body as it is now, functioning and alive. It may continue to change with new treatments and surgeries, but the never-ending work toward body image redemption is an essential part of recovery.

I love having scars: they're proof of a battle fought and if you're looking at it, a battle won, if only temporarily. They are something to point to, something to indicate survival. The red slash across my throat says "this marks the spot where the cancer was removed," and I like being able to tilt my head up and say "here," when I'm asked where my cancer was located.

This week, I'm covered in bruises and marks, and my face is red and bloated from high doses of prednisone. My legs are a battlefield of tiny pink injection spots and the bruises that follow. I feel alien to myself, and frustrated that I can't control what's happening to me. 

I can cut my hair, dye it black, and pick what I wear, but I can't fix the terror on the inside invading my skin, blurring the hard lines of my face. This is ugly, and no cool scar is going to change that.

This leads me to reclaim parts of my body that have been lost. This tattoo, as silly as I may find it now, is always commented on by nurses looking for a viable vein. It's mine; a drawing made by someone I paid to burn on me, on Haight Street in San Francisco, on a day when I felt wholly in control of my body and my self.

Tattoos are a choice, a strong lasting expression. I can't think of another way to better assert what little power I have over my own body. It is here, forever, a prettier parallel to the scars on my insides.