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I Do Not Know Anything Different

I was delivered by C-section in late August on the best date for the doctor and at a clinic close to the hospital, because the only hospital in the area was Roman Catholic and did not allow interference with the birth process.  After delivery, my mother was whisked to the hospital for recovery and a 7 day stay for recuperation.

I was whisked off to surgery because of the large tumor that was attached to my chest, which was full of “garbage” and was as big as I was.  I do not know the time of day I was delivered – it was believed to be 8 o’clock in the morning as I was the first scheduled for that date. I know nothing more about the growth other than it was presumed that I was a sickly child because of it.

My parents had just recently moved from the trials of graduate school at Columbia University in New York City, with two other children, and my father was beginning an amazing post with State government in Education.  They had rented a small cottage at the end of the point right by the lighthouse entering the Inlet off Puget Sound.    I believe I was a surprise and unplanned and that I was more of a problem than a joy.

I love the sound of the fog horns off the water at night.  They make me feel safe.

I cannot tell you how many screaming in pain ear infections plagued my days and that every cold that passed through our household was mine for months. Every time I encountered chicken pox, I came down with chicken pox; I can count at least 5 times, which I am told repeatedly is not possible.

My third year of college the kidney stones started.  After the school nurse took me to several gynecologists to talk to me about the bleeding, which was because she was sure I was having too much sex (well, I had not even had a date by this time in my life!) the school medical clinic told me I was lying.  On Good Friday, at 4 am in the morning I called a cab and spent $100 getting to the closest hospital in North Carolina to find my own relief from the pain.  The doctors removed three craggy nuggets of iron and two growths that they called cancer and paraded all the student doctors through my life for three weeks of drain tubes, hallucinations, treatments and dehumanization.  I did all this alone and graduated from college; got into graduate school and other than not being able to perform my senior vocal recital or pass my logic exams, I healed.

Every Doctor I have encountered since this time in my life has said these two things, “my you are a large scar former, and I do not believe iron kidney stones are possible – they are calcium.”

Graduate school was a series of more kidney stones and a great deal of fun until Nixon abolished the draft and all the people I admired packed up and left immediately.  I just had a year to go, I knew I could make it, and then I developed a Pilonidal Cyst at the base of my spine which also joined up with the word cancer during the surgery and recovery period.  I missed my graduation and spent months lying face down and reading.

I had a dream that I was falling down the stairs because I had cancer and the Doctors could not find it – a naturopathic physician found it with her fingers and lots of perseverance, so 1996 brought me Ovarian Cancer and cysts all over my ovaries and an incompetent surgeon and huge infections in the entry site.  My 12 year old took care of me and cleaned up the smelly exploding pustules. I was sure they had cut out all my creativity in the process. In 1999, a repair surgery by a great plastic surgeon who I own much too for my child’s success with all his surgery skill and for piecing me back together and giving me future.  He said my insides were as awful as many of the folks he repaired from shrapnel wounds in Viet Nam.

In more recent years, I keep hearing pre-cancerous words attached to the polyps removed from my vocal cords and my large intestines,  and ganglion cyst attached to my finger growth and we “don’t have any idea what it is” growing on my upper lip – that my recent round of antibiotics seems to have slowed down.  I haven’t been able to sing since the vocal cord surgery and that makes me sad and I think raises my blood pressure.

I have not written this to share my surgical experiences with everyone, but rather because I wanted to tell you I am not afraid to die – I am not afraid of death.  It is always with me – I know of nothing different.

This knowledge has made me a great care giver and a good assistant to those who are dying – a strong ear and guide.  I take huge risks.

I write this because I wish to inspire, when death is always a part of life, I am left with encouragement.

My fear is this – I will not inspire enough folks to be the best that they can be and find the joy in living and that in my end I will be alone and bankrupt my family – those who are left behind.

43 Responses to “I Do Not Know Anything Different”

  1. Meggin Says:

    If that is truly your fear, then you have to work on THAT specifically as your goal so that you can rest in peace.

    I would say that you are actually doing an excellent job of inspiring others! So you don’t really need to work too much more on that, my friend! :)

    LYMI

  2. Vered - MomGrind Says:

    I’m so glad you wrote your story, Patricia. It’s out there on the internet now, which means it WILL be read by people. If not today, then eventually.

    I have a “Link Love” section in some of my blog posts. I am going to link to this article in my next “link love”, which should bring you a few more readers.

    You have had an incredibly difficult life. You are incredibly brave. I am inspired by your story and I’m sure many others will be too.

    Vered – MomGrinds last blog post..Should “A-List Bloggers” Close Comments?

  3. Mrs. Micah Says:

    You remind me of my mom. She has terminal cancer, though it’s moving pretty slowly. Yet instead of giving in and being depressed about it, she’s chosen to continue teaching middle school Latin, taking Latin classes, and giving her earnings to charities or using them to take people to museums, lunches, teas, etc. She also pursues newer treatments so she can get the best care possible, goes to conferences, etc. It’s been catching up with her and slowing her down, but she still does what she can, to enjoy life and live it with people as much as possible.

    Thank you for sharing your story and I know you will inspire many others.

  4. Jannie Says:

    I cannot believe my life has swirled around me seemingly easily while you have gone through all this heartache.

    I am humbled by your story.

    Consider me inspired.

    Jannies last blog post..A Jannie by any other name…

  5. Dot Says:

    Wow, and I thought my childhood was bad. I’m glad you shared that — I had no idea. I can relate to a lot of it — I grew up on Long Island, and I had doctors tell me things I knew to be true were not true (the presumption being either I was lying or I was incredibly stupid). They still do. Their world is only what is measurable, and if it’s not measurable, some of them can’t handle it and just deny it exists.

    I would think you’d have ambivalent feelings about death — wanting to live but also longing to be released from all the suffering. I think just living your life, being exposed to the people you meet who know your story, would be inspiring to them. It is sad the way our country handles death — using up all your money and taking you away from loved ones for treatment. I hope you are good to yourself.

    Dots last blog post..Oops, Sorry

  6. Patricia Says:

    Meggin – you are such a “hug” in my life. Thank you for your kind words and good thoughts. Now I just need to figure out how to get this book to you for your vacation!

  7. Patricia Says:

    Vered,
    I have been writing this first part of the story ever since you suggested it to me – I just felt this moment of Hallow was the correct spiritual timing for me.

    I have been working on Steve Pavlina’s list of how to know your life goals and they just collided in this moment.

    Thank you for the “Link Love” it sounds good to me I will have to figure that one out after I finish Cath’s Stumble Upon Tutorial!

    I do not feel brave at all and I feel like I have had a wonderful life – just with different life lessons unfolding. I like to think of myself as unique – like a unicorn person

    You are just a blessing to me – thank you for your comments

  8. Patricia Says:

    Mrs. Micah,
    I have seen your comments on other blogs and welcome to this site.
    Thank you for sharing your mum’s story. It is hard for others to understand but each of us responds differently to our life lessons, your mother must truly enjoy what she is doing with her living and more power to her. What an inspiration she must be to so many – to help other’s remove fear.
    And oh my the new treatments today are remarkable and they make me so happy that they are available.
    My goal is to inspire folks with my words and not be alone…so thank you for connecting today and responding to my words. Your reply is so greatly appreciated.

  9. Patricia Says:

    Jannie,
    Thank you for your comments – I think your have just encountered different lessons in your life, and you handled them with your best effort….and because you responded with your best effort and knowledge they seem lite to you….
    Isn’t it lovely that we all have different things to learn and when we share those things it adds to the colour and diversity of life and our living?
    Be your best self and live what you know
    again thank you for visiting my spot..

  10. Patricia Says:

    Dot,
    Lovely to find your kind words and story here today. Thank you for reading my post and making your good comments. Dr.s are a hard group to deal with and yes “measurements” are so important to them – especially what the scale says! They sure do like to insinuate that you are not telling the truth…their truth.

    I do not feel like I am suffering. Sometimes miserable and sometimes in pain, but I am just fine and comfortable in the tween times! I find that if I did a hole of wallow it is very difficult to get out – I did that for years when I could not get health ins. or work in my field, or because I was not paid for my work.

    Now I just am working on trusting that it will turn out all right for me, because I have made it through so many moments and come out fine on the other side – I do tunnel in, but try not to dig holes.

    I do so appreciate your insight and connection. Thank you.
    I see you have a new post…need to go and check it out – I am still thinking about the Mommy Farm!

  11. Dot Says:

    “Now I just am working on trusting that it will turn out all right for me, because I have made it through so many moments and come out fine on the other side – I do tunnel in, but try not to dig holes.”

    That’s a great way to look at it!

    Dots last blog post..Things I Learned from a Visit to Dooce

  12. patricia Says:

    Believing in what’s on the other end of the tunnel is so important!

  13. Davina Says:

    Hi Patricia. You have a courageous and strong soul to carry you through this. Thank you for sharing your story. It is both humbling and inspiring.

    I’ve only recently been dropping by your blog, and I’m wondering, is there a significance to the avatar you have chosen? I love lady bugs…

    Davinas last blog post..A Ghostly Life Experience

  14. Barbara Swafford Says:

    Hi Patricia – I admire your courage to share your story, and your desire to help others. You words will not go unread. I know you want to inspire many, but if your story only inspires ONE person, you will have left this world a better place.

    You know what, I believe that has already been accomplished.

    You’re awesome Patricia. Your drive and determination are traits many dream of. You were born with them.

    Barbara Swaffords last blog post..Blogging To Do List – Do It, Delete It Or Delegate

  15. Patricia Says:

    Davina,
    Thank you for your comments and it was a hard piece for me to write and then I just decided to post it at this fall time, I don’t feel very courageous just driven to live my life as fully as possible and do my best work.

    If you look in my table of contents I did write a post on the ladybug and how it flew into my life and onto this blog on the wings of my Whit!

  16. Patricia Says:

    Oh Barbara it is lovely to find your gracious comments on my post and your good insights. Thank you for coming by and lifting me up.

    I am on my way to a Memorial Service for my 101 year old friend Jean Westling – really my mum’s teaching buddy and oh how she loved my applesauce. Jean was a person who used to appear in my life as a child when I needed a hug and reassurance – she would always cuddle me into her folds and say “You know I love you so much!”

    Your words feel like perfect timing this morning…
    Thank you

  17. Davina Says:

    Hi Patricia. I love that Table of Contents page and your sharing about what the lady bug means to you. I thought about what symbol keeps me going and it is the fireplace. I find the idea of a homey fire burning very comforting.

    Davinas last blog post..A Ghostly Life Experience

  18. Patricia Says:

    Davina,
    The fireplace is a cozy symbol…curling up to read or just enjoy the movement of the flames….

    The symbol just flew to me!… I do like your avatar…elegant

  19. Avani-Mehta Says:

    Patricia, as I read your story, my heart leaped to reach out to you; but instead, you reached mine. I have had my share of hardships, but nothing like this.

    Your story will forever be told on this page and hence, you will never cease to inspire others as you have inspired me and the rest of us here.

    Found you through Vered’s blog. I am glad she linked you.

    Avani-Mehtas last blog post..Top 8 Motivation Hacks – #1

  20. Maya Says:

    Wow, Patricia. You write a story so moving yet powerful …about your life – so close to death … and you are left with encouragement …it is amazing!

    I am not sure how I would respond to what you have been through. Perhaps I will never know, but stories like yours certainly inspire me to be the best I can be.

    Thank you for sharing

    Mayas last blog post..Embracing our cultural identities at work and in life can only be good for us

  21. Bamboo Forest Says:

    Unquestionably you have had a very challenging life.

    I wish you all the very best for you and all that is yours.

    You have reminded me how precious every moment of life truly is. That’s a great thing. Thank you.

    Bamboo Forests last blog post..The Polls Are Open: Cast Your Vote for P.I. President

  22. Patricia Says:

    Avani-Metha
    I am so glad that Vered made a link to my site and that I was able to share this part of who I am with others. I am so happy that you will look to find inspiration in your life.

    I wish it was a lofty an experience on a daily basis for me! but it is kind of just how my life is going so I just work on living it the best I can and keep the word opportunity right in front of my vision.

    Thank you for your comments

  23. Patricia Says:

    Maya,
    I have enjoyed reading your blog and you have a wonderful way with words. Thank you for sharing a comment with me on my writing as the day feels less lonely when we are joined by others in it’s venture.

    It is so nice to be in touch with others. Thank you

  24. Patricia Says:

    Bamboo Forest,
    I appreciate your well wishes and good comments. And I have enjoyed laughing out loud on Pun Intended. Thank you for that good medicine you give out!

    Life is just precious moments and gaining skills by moving through the lessons life gives us – I believe it is important to share those learned skills with others to give them a helping hand and strength of journey.
    Thank you for your comments

  25. Becky Says:

    I am truly humbled to know someone as strong as you.

    Beckys last blog post..Sick(o)

  26. Eric Hamm Says:

    Hey Patricia, thanks for sharing your life with us. I really appreciate your openness.

    My father passed away from cancer at 55 (about 4 and a half years ago). It was a hard time for us all. But his positive attitude really helped us not only get through it, but truly impacted us well after he died. Your words are of similar encouragement. :-) Eric.

    Eric Hamms last blog post..M2A! November Week1: The Soy Controversy Continues

  27. Patricia Says:

    Becky, Thank you for the kind words. I do not feel very courageous, and that idea made me chuckle in response. I believe this is just the life lesson that was mine to live and I choose to make it an opportunity rather than a burden. I have learned so much about exploring and celebrating who I am, because I am not a disease or an illness – I am a person who has so much more to her than that. I will confess here and now, I got pneumonia on the plane trip home from a conference in Hawaii and it really has upset my goal of having the healthiest year of my life – I just can’t seem to shake it…so now how do I redefine the healthiest year of my life? How I answer that question will make all the difference to how I live my life.

  28. Patricia Says:

    Eric,
    Thank you for coming by from Vered’s page – isn’t she lovely for sharing a link.

    I’m glad if my words are encouraging and I am sure your Father’s lessons were wonderful even in the face of death.

    I just feel badly that there seems to be so much cancer in our world and it is increasing globally. I get so sad when I think of all the AIDS orphans in Africa and the folks caught in war….

    I think I must find a way to encourage and to give hope – maybe like Avani-Mehti’s step by step goal setting…

    I hope you stay healthy, I enjoy reading your blog and I will comment my next visit as I am subscribed. Please eat a lovely whole organic carrot everyday – skin and all – seems to be the best protection against cancer they have discovered so far :)

  29. Eric Hamm Says:

    “Please eat a lovely whole organic carrot everyday – skin and all – seems to be the best protection against cancer they have discovered so far :)”

    Thanks for the tip. I used to do that, but out of the habit. I think I’ll get back into it, now that you mentioned it. :-) Eric.

    Eric Hamms last blog post..Personal Responsibility: Making Wise Choices Regardless Of The Financial Forecast

  30. Jess Sanders Says:

    Patricia thank you for sharing a piece of yourself in this piece. Things are not perfect in my life, but your struggles surely put those things into perspective!

    I’m subscribed and look forward to exploring your blog.

    Jess Sanderss last blog post..A break and a change

  31. Patricia Says:

    Jess Sanders,
    Welcome to this site and thank you for reading my post and making a comment. Thank you too for subscribing.

    I sure do like how this blogging works and now that you have discovered me, I can pop over to your blog and read about you.

    Thank you for stopping by

  32. Jannie Says:

    I am revisting this post today as it has stuck in my mind ever since I read it — the first time I ever visited this site, I think.

    I want you to know that getting to know you more over the past only 6 weeks or so, I’m constantly amazed by your wisdom, grace and inspiration — not to mention your downright great writing.

    So glad our paths have intersected.

    Jannies last blog post..A Biggie

  33. Patricia Says:

    Jannie, me too! I am so glad that we met and I have appreciated your writing and humor and “bra flinging” adventures so much. It surely must be a mutual admiration society and maybe that is why we get along so well …I wish that Elf Book would arrive! Thank you for your lovely words – you inspire me.

  34. Liara Covert Says:

    This story is written by a true survivor. Your life experience is an example of how attuning to energy vibration teaches one much about the inner self. To build faith and trust in the unknown is life-transforming. Thanks for sharing this beautiful experience. It is inspirational. Many people complain about obstacles. You remind people another option exists; to face and overcome them.

    Liara Coverts last blog post..Why did you come here?

  35. Patricia Says:

    Liara,
    I do not consider myself a survivor as it is all that I have known, just to live life to the fullest and the best that I am able.

    I am so glad that you found my words inspiring. Thank you

  36. Barb Hartsook Says:

    Hi Patricia… I have just met you last week and this morning happened to notice this post title in your sidebar of recent comments.

    Right next to a terrific admiration for your stamina, attitude and gumption, I wonder:

    Do we all not meet with similar “doctors” in various fields who think we lie when we’re somehow outside their walls of understanding? When we even disagree or take issue? Educated minds can be the worst… if they don’t know of it, it doesn’t exist, or it can’t happen, or we’re misinformed at best.

    Do we all, to some degree, suffer from maladies mental, spiritual, emotional, sometimes even physical, that are not diagnosable? Not recognizable to others? Potentially life-threatening?

    Yours have been extreme. Perhaps because of that and your way with words to convey their impact on your life — without self-pity — you lovingly and gently send us on our way without any possible excuses!

    We’re all in the process of dying. That’s not actually the issue, though, is it? It’s how we do life that matters.

    You’ve learned this… Inspire others? You’re already a beacon, and I just met you last week.

    Now I’m off to read about your dust bunnies showing up in the spring… :)

    Barb

    Barb Hartsooks last blog post..What it Means to Me to be Named One of Liz Strauss’ Successful and Outstanding Bloggers

  37. Patricia Says:

    Barb,
    Thank you for your gracious and lovely comments. I truly needed them today….I am testing a new medication and to day is a sea of nausea and backache extraordinaire.

    Yes, it is how one lives their life….just don’t focus on today :) !!!

  38. Liara Covert Says:

    You may not view yourself as a survivor, yet that may be because you are moving beyond a focus on the view of self in order to see beyond to traits of universal interconnectedness. Every human being can relate to fear. Every human being exists now because of a soul-level plan to overcome and dissolve it. The sources of fear may differ, but the collective goal is destiny.

    Liara Coverts last blog post..What brings you back?

  39. Patricia Says:

    Liara,
    I am mulling over your words and they help me think about the speeches I heard about racism recently and opened new thoughts about our connectedness our oneness.
    Thank you for your comments

  40. Shankar Says:

    Dear Patricia!

    For the first time in my life i felt I’m hopeless to express what I really want to.I want to convey you that you are perfectly teaching others to understand the purpose of life. You are completely driven by a divine purpose. Only with a divine backing one can move in this direction. Nobody can stop you.

    Great spirit! I love you from the bottom of my heart. Just start realising the spiritual power, you are alrady having. Just start igniting the fire.

    And you really have an expression.

    May God bless you. Please drop a few lines so that I feel honoured.

    Shankar.

  41. patricia Says:

    Shankar,
    Thank you for your lovely comments – they bless me this morning and I will hold them in my heart.

  42. Cordieb Says:

    Wow! You are a true trooper! Your fear, that you won’t inspire enough people, – oh my – you can rest assured you do not have to fear that, ever. If you inspire just one, it brings forth a rippling effect – and I know you already know that! As far as bankrupting your family or being alone – I feel you’ve given so much of yourself in love that everyone feels rich in spirit by your presense and you can’t ever really be alone – as you have kindred spirits across the universe who are with you each moment! Blessings dearest!

    Cordiebs last blog post..A Spiritual Riddle – by CordieB

  43. Patricia Says:

    Cordieb,
    Thank you for you kind words and all your comments on my site. I am just home from the UK and found my computer would not start up so am doing catch up as I get back to my efforts and writing – sorry to be so slow.

    Welcome, welcome.

    I found kindred spirits in the UK too…and it was wonderful to be present to so much of history. It was nice to see myself in a new light and reflection – we can move forward and with kindness if that is our goal. I will be over to check out your Riddle soon