Monday, February 18, 2013

The Next 65 Years

A little over a year ago, I was diagnosed with a deep vein thrombosis in my left calf, a huge section of my leg was riddled with blood clots. I remember lying in the emergency room and watching my world crumble. Up until that point the world was mine for the taking. I had spent the previous summer in Europe, traveling around. I never had the same job for more than a year. I made decisions on a whim and saw where it took me. At the time, I was finishing a degree in elementary education, a career that I didn't even think I would go into after graduating. I had the freedom to choose my next step. The world was mine for the taking.

Then everything fell apart. Inside I felt defeated and destroyed. I could feel that clot clogging up my veins and demolishing all my hopes and dreams. A blood clot meant that my carefree lifestyle had to change. I had to go on blood thinners. I had to carefully monitor what foods I ate and how much alcohol I drank. I had to be careful when traveling. These things were minor I could handle those. Then I found out that I can't ever take hormones medications again. This meant that I can't go on birth control ever again. If I ever wanted to get pregnant, I'd have to be extremely careful as pregnancy increases the risk of blood clots. Now I had lost control of my reproductive choices. I couldn't control my method of contraceptive. I couldn't control my unbelievably painful periods with medication anymore. If I chose to have a child, I could be greatly endangering my health.

Within a matter of hours I began to realize how much my life would have to change. I love performing. I love to act and I love that my life catered to this. I had the freedom to move from job to job if roles became available. I could take time off to focus on acting. With a blood clot in my life I would now need to get a job that had health insurance. A job that could provide for me if I had another clot. 

I had lost my ability to make choices for myself. I was so angry. I felt so incredibly alone. When you're sick you become so self focused that you don't see the see the good. I stopped loving myself. I felt diseased and couldn't see past the poison in my body.  I clung to the bad relationship I was in. I felt that my love life was one thing I could control. If I could make this one person fall in love with me life would be okay. If I could have just one person tell me I was beautiful despite the swollen leg, despite the black bruises caused by the Warfarin, despite the fact that I was lost, life would turn around. But I couldn't control this either.

Time moved on and my blood clot started to dissolve. I turned 27. I got dumped. I graduated with my second bachelor's degree. I took a trip with my family. I wanted my life to return to normal, to my normal. I refused to turn in any applications for teaching positions. If I became a teacher I wouldn't have the freedom to do as much theatre. As summer passed, I told myself that I would maintain my life the way it was before the clot. So I auditioned for an educational theatre tour and took out an independent health insurance policy. I had to work extra hours every week to pay for that health insurance but dammit I wasn't going to change.

This January rehearsal for that tour started without me. I was crushed. Not because I didn't get the role but because this was my last chance. My friends insisted that there's always next year. But they didn't understand. I can't audition next year. I can't afford to live this way. I can't keep working 60-80 hour work weeks to pay for independent health care. I can't maintain this life anymore physically or emotionally. I realized that I am still angry. In many ways I feel that this blood clot stole my dreams from me. Right before my diagnoses I had realized what I wanted in life and I had set out a list of goals for myself. I was going to focus everything on being a paid working actress. Now I can't afford to work towards that dream. 

When I was younger I had this beautiful life plan. I would be an actress. I would be the funniest girl you'd ever met. I would travel in my spare time. I would be married to a wonderful man who adored me. Life would be so limitless. 

Today I called my mom crying, crying about feeling like I had lost, like I had been robbed. My life feels so limited. There is no choice. She suggested I plan the next 65 years of my life. The next 65 years...that is such a long time. Life is the longest thing we will ever do. Thinking about what I wanted to do with the next 65 years made me think about the last 27:
I have traveled to at least 15 countries.
I once held onto a sea turtle's shell in the wild and let it pull me through the ocean.
I have 4 amazing nieces which I get to watch grow up.
I have earned a bachelor's degree in theatre arts and in elementary education.
I am a performer with the Red Light Variety Show and have a space to work on my physical comedy.
I have been zip lining, zorbing, white water rafting, mountain climbing and so much more.
I've swam in jello, spaghetti, and fruit loops.
I once had an octopus swim in front of me in one of the most magical moments in my entire life.

The next 65+ years are going to be filled with the most mind blowing things. Maybe my most important life moments haven't happened yet. Over the next year I have to make decisions that will be best for me financially but life isn't going to stop. I still have 4 continents to travel. I still have to start a children's theatre company. I still have to do stand up comedy. I still have to travel cross country by train and visit Machu Picchu and the Great Wall of China and go on a safari and learn how to do a hand stand and travel with a circus. I still have to find out how it feels to fall in love. I have so many firsts left and so many dreams and so many years to accomplish it all.