Road Trip to Indy

One of my adopted kids, Vann, lives about 3 hours away from me, on the East side of Indianapolis. So when they had a medical emergency and needed an advocate to help them bully some doctors into doing their fucking job the other week, I packed a bag, grabbed Sammy, and off we went!

I was out of work for a few more weeks, and Sammy’s classes are online this year, so I planned the driving for the end of a school day and set him up to attend class from Vann’s house, and very little school was missed.

While in Indy, Sammy got to know some fellow queers, and his knowledge of the different flavors of gender was expanded. It’s true the exposing kids to queer people can lead to their own exploration of gender and sexuality. Some people are afraid of this, but Sammy followed a young adult trans masc by the name of Rin around like a puppy dog for a few days and walked away from the encounter a little more self-confident. This makes my heart super happy!

I attended a few appointments with Vann and we got their needs taken care of. The time in Indy was well spent.

As a bonus, the time away from home proved a great distraction for Sammy, though the relief was temporary and we did have to return home eventually.

Vann and my trip to Indy are a strong testament to the power of found family. I’m very grateful to have Vann in my life, and I’m deeply relieved I was able to be there for them in their time of need.

Rough Times for Little Ones

Sammy is not doing so well. This pandemic and the resulting isolation have really gotten to him. He recently reached his breaking point and is now super suicidal.

In late March, he had a full-on plan, and a backup plan, on how he wanted to kill himself. He was already in weekly therapy and we were sorting out the ESA situation with Ziggy. He’d also recently started Prozac, but if anything it made him worse.

So I took him to the Children’s Hospital Crisis Center and they admitted him to their psych ward for a few days. I cannot stress enough that he wanted this, and I’m very proud of him for making that decision.

He was there over a few days of spring break and while there he was in some pretty intense therapy. They gave him all sorts of new skills and ways to cope with his depression. His medication was switched to Lexapro and an anti-anxiety med was added to the mix as well.

While he was inpatient, I bought a bunch of toolboxes and locked up every single medication and sharp in the house. That way upon release I could promise him he’d be safer in his home.

As of right now, he’s still in rough shape but we’re working hard to lift him out of his depression. One of the key changes is I’m sending him out to play. The landlord built a nice playground right across the street last summer but we were in quarantine and I couldn’t let him play on it. But at this point, we all got covid over the winter, and it will be a while before we can get it again we’re pretty sure, so I’ve decided fuck it and am letting him play with the neighborhood kids, now that it’s nice enough outside. I can’t lift him out of his loneliness if I don’t let him play with the kids outside.

I’m hoping with continued time outside with the kids in the area, more and more weekly therapy, helping him practice his skills, and a good amount of help from medication, I’ll be able to help him climb out of the pit of despair.


We could use a bright spot, yes? A bit of happy?

Not long after I came out of the hospital, Sammy came out of the closet as a trans boy.

I will confess there were some mixed emotions, but none of them will stop me from loving him unconditionally and supporting his desire to transition.

What with him being 9, I’d like to discuss what a healthy transition looks like today and how it will progress.

A few days after he came out, I took him to get his hair cut. He expressed a desire for a boy cut, so he got one.

He also wants boy clothes. Since it’s that time of year where I buy him new summer clothes, that just meant shopping in the boy section. He did add in that he wants some girl clothes too. He likes pink and purple and unicorns and dresses and boys are allowed to wear these things. He just wants a balance in his closet.

In a year or two, if he still identifies as trans, we’ll start him on puberty blockers. The nice thing is these aren’t like hormones with irreversible changes. They simply delay puberty.

Did you know it’s seriously a lot easier to change your name if you’re a minor and your parents do it for you? We’ll change his name to Samuel when he’s 16 before he gets his first ID.

Then when he’s older we’ll discuss hormones and surgeries, if he wants them, and help in any way we can.

So transition will be a long process spanning the next decade or so. But for now? He’s experiencing gender euphoria over his handsome new haircut and the boy clothes I’m buying him. Which means, I guess, that I’m doing something right.

With that handled, I settled into my youngest being my son.

But then he met some of my found family when made an emergency trip to Indy, which I’ll blog about later. There he met more nonbinary and trans masc people. He slowly started adding definitions of different genders to the queer wiki in his head.

Around that time he started talking about how he was a boy but still wanted to be a pretty princess. I confirmed prince was not an option. So I cautiously suggested he might be he/him nonbinary, and explained that that is a thing. He took this knowledge and worked with it for a while.

Not long later he dressed as a girl for a day and told me that while usually he’s a boy, for that day he was a girl. At which point I taught him about the gender-fluid identity.

It’s been a roller coaster of watching him discover himself over the past few weeks, but he’s finally settled on Gender Fluid, for now. If he changes his mind, then he changes his mind. If he doesn’t, then he’s gender fluid. I’ll use all sorts of pronouns for him from now on based on what gender he was on a day something happened.

I’m just really glad I’ve raised my kids comfortable to explore who they are, and secure enough to share their findings with me.

Science Dad

I’m not entirely sure when in the mess that was May this happened, but I think it was before the rest. So this is the order of the story.

Coffee and I have been besties for some 4 years now. We text nearly 24/7 and voice chat with our friend group on Discord. But like proper millennials, we don’t really talk on the phone properly. We have each other’s phone numbers, sure. But we default to text.

So when my phone rang one Wednesday morning while I was on my way to get my allergy shot, and my car announced it was “Capt Coffee” I knew it was serious. Sure enough, her dad had just had a heart attack and was being life-flighted to the city. Coffee was mid-transit following the chopper via her car with her despondent mother in the passenger seat. Coffee is the one you want in an emergency, not her mother.

So here is where I stop to explain my friend group. First of all, everyone in the group has various shades of not great mothers. My mom is the best and by far the least horrid of the group. Most of the mothers are severely abusive. This is why I’m up to like 10-12 kids (I lost count). On the other hand, most of us have pretty great dads. Coffee’s dad has become a group favorite because he’s a math teacher that knows a lot of science and has taught Coffee explosives. He’s just super really cool and we’ve dubbed him Science Dad. He knows about this.

Anyway, Science Dad is ok now, but his heart attack was one of four medical emergencies the group faced in the month of March. We’re really very tired.

How March 2021 Began

I wasn’t feeling very good leading up to March 1, but I honestly thought it was food poisoning that lingered. After all, I’d just had a set of iron infusions so my hemoglobin should have been going up, not down. And yeah, my stools were black and tarry, but iron can do that. Plus I’m a whole entire dumbass due to brain death from repeatedly not having enough blood over the span of 4 years. That doesn’t help.

After 3 days of feeling rotten and not getting better, and having lost the ability to walk more than 100 feet without having to sit down to catch my breath, I called my mom and had her take me to the ER. Here is a key thing though. Usually, I go to the Ohio Health ERs but I was getting more and more upset with the entire Ohio Health system. So this time we went to the closest Mt Carmel hospital.

Mom found a wheelchair, wheeled me in, and we got situated in the waiting room. Triage called me back and I explained everything. By that point, I was figuring it really was blood in my stool and my hemoglobin was probably down to a 6 or 7. They took some blood to send to the lab, and I sat and waited.

I don’t know exactly how much time passed, but it was pretty much exactly how much time is needed for my blood to go from ER to lab, the test to be run, the alarms start ringing, and the lab to go “Oh Shit!” and call the ER with a stat report. They immediately found me in the waiting room and rolled me to one of the rooms reserved for cases that can’t wait, talking about immediate blood transfusions.

Fam. My hemoglobin was a 4. Now some of you have been here for a while. Some of you are new. I don’t want to assume prior knowledge anywhere. So I’ll go ahead and gently remind you that as someone who was assigned female at birth, my hemoglobin should be between a 12 and a 16. I’ll further remind you that when my hemoglobin dropped to a 6 a few years ago and my doctor called me in the middle of the night and told me to get my ass to the hospital stat, it was explained that at a 6 I basically had half as much blood in me as I’m supposed to.

It was March 1, 2021, and with a hemoglobin of 4, I had about 1/3 as much blood as I needed to survive. I should be dead. That is not an exaggeration. Luckily I basically refuse to die and despite such a low amount of blood, I hadn’t even passed out. I have, however, over the years suffered a consistent lack of blood and oxygen to the brain and this most recent episode really was pretty harsh, so I have suffered some amount of brain death not yet determined. I’m a touch salty about that. I used to be really smart. I can tell the difference. So can those who have known me a while and who talk to me regularly. So I wasn’t passing out but mentally I was suffering.

Anyway, they gave me blood pretty much immediately and found me a room on the surgery floor. The next day they did an endoscopy and found nothing at all. They had a colonoscopy in the plans, but that would have to wait a day so I could do the prep. They decided before they started the prep, they would do a CT of my abdomen.

They found a mass of something attached to my lower bowel and I was immediately scheduled for exploratory surgery the next day, March 3.

The surgeon and co were reassuring that the odds were it was a clump of blood vessels that shouldn’t be there but would be an easy enough thing to fix. It was a reasonable source of bleeding and would likely explain the anemia. So they opened me up to check it out and remove it.

They did not find a clump of blood vessels. They found a tumor that was confirmed to be cancer in the days that followed.

They removed all of it, and along with it, about 5 inched of my small bowel. The pathology shows that it was a slow-growing tumor. On the spectrum of how aggressive cancer can get, this is cancer that isn’t likely to spread and once gone, isn’t likely to come back, since they removed enough of the surrounding bowel. So it’s currently gone, and it is probably gone for good.

As of the oncology appointment I just had on April 13, I consider myself in remission. I won’t even need chemo or radiation. Just the one aggressive surgery and regular CT’s of my belly for probably the rest of my life, just to be sure.

So that’s good.

When I was released from the hospital, after like 6 or 7 units of blood total (along with proving I could use my bowels as intended post op), I had a hemoglobin of 7.9. 6 days later when I checked in with my brand new, Mt Carmel affiliated PCP, I had a hemoglobin of 10.3! Guess who can make their own blood after all! It turns out I’m even really good at it!

Which really pisses me off.

I was seeing a cancer specialist for 3 years and he refused to run any further testing to figure out what was wrong. He assured me some people just don’t make their own blood and gave me iron infusion after iron infusion along with the occasional blood transfusion. For 3 years I asked time and time again for this test and that, always affirming and reaffirming that it couldn’t be cancer. He assured me it wasn’t cancer, but ran no tests to prove it. Apparently, there is a really simple test he could have run checking for cancer markers what would have told him I had cancer somewhere so that we could have started the search for it. That test was never run.

3 years later, a little over 4 years after this all started, I almost died of cancer. Almost doesn’t even cover it. I was a day or two out from dying of cancer at most. I was down to a hemoglobin of 4 and was still losing blood. I had no time left in me when I showed up in that ER.

Mt Carmel saved my life where Ohio Health left me to die. One of my Ohio Health PCPs even implied my real problem was I was just fat.

So anyway, that’s how March 2021 started. But that was just the beginning.

Easing Back In

It’s been a minute since I last really wrote. March started out rough and just kept on going. But I’m determined to bring life back to a sense of normal and that includes writing. I’m going to ease my way in by starting not with the trauma of March 2021, but instead what kept me going.

I got my 3rd stimulus, I’m not even sure when, and did a lot of important things with that money. One of those things was to set aside money for my 2021 garden. I hesitated to garden this year. I won’t have Robin’s help and it just feels overwhelming knowing that I alone am in charge of making sure things like watering it daily happen. But those who love my made it clear I needed a garden, so I set the money aside.

Then in the thick of things in late March, I started planning. My first goal was the little flower bed out back that sits along between the back porch and patio. My hibiscus and rose from last year didn’t make it. But surprisingly, my blueberry bush is already showing signs of green. After hemming and hawing over it for a bit, I decided to plant two more blueberry bushes with the goal of having a thick wall of blueberries about 3-5 years from now. Next up was mulch. Only, last year when I watered my bushes, the mulch in the bed kept floating away. So I decided this year I would buy and install edging to keep the mulch into place.

Again, I am really glad those who love me made me set aside money for my garden from my stimulus. I set aside way more than I need for plants and pots and dirt. Which means I can do little things beyond those that encourage growth. I bought two beautiful sets of wind chimes because I wanted a set for my garden, but I won’t be able to hear them from my room, so I want a set for there too. I also bought this 3-foot high birdbath that will live amongst the plants. I’m going to put rocks at the bottom of it and turn it into a bee watering station. Because there is no life without bees, so we must do our best for them always. I also bought a compost bin with my tax return so I can make good rich dirt. I’m already filling it with things like eggshells and produce that went bad before we could eat it. While my garden will feed my belly, the things like the wind chimes and bee watering station will fill my soul.

Next up, as soon as it’s consistently above freezing at night, I have some pots of herbs to put out. I put 3 out about a week ago, but was over eager and it froze a few nights in a row. I should have checked the weather. They may still live, but I bought 3 more just in case. If anything I’ll have twice as many. Otherwise, I still have the 3 new ones.

As you can see, I have 2 basil and a cilantro. Or maybe I’ll have twice that. Who knows.

I’m waiting to see if my strawberry survived. It’s too early to tell. In the meantime, I’ve decided that one strawberry plant is not near enough and bought myself a fancy stacking pot system.

I bought the 4 petal in purple and that bad boy will be able to hold 20 strawberry plants. As an added bonus, it’s compact enough that if my strawberries can’t survive the Ohio winter, I can pull them inside. That said, there is a strawberry farm like 5 miles from here, so I have every reason to believe my berries with survive and thrive.

I’m about 5 weeks off from being able to buy any plants for my garden. Mother’s Day is when I’ll begin in earnest. I have big plans for this year’s garden though. I’m going to grow beefsteak tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, and cherry tomatoes for all my red sauce needs. I’m growing Thomas some jalapeno peppers. I’m growing cucumbers for Iris. And finally, Sammy will get a pot of flowers as payment for helping me.

I’m depressed right now. March 2021 was nonstop trauma. I’ll be ok, but I’m using this garden and planning for it as self-care. I’m deeply looking forward to dirt under my nails and I grow and eat my efforts.

Are you growing anything this year?