My Healthy Risks

Version 2
Photo provided by Author

Normally we think of risk-taking as unwise. But healthy risks exist. These are things like playing sports, or auditioning for a play. I wouldn’t consider myself a risk-taker these days, though I took many unsafe risks in my early 20s: brought strange men home; got inside a taxicab numerous times while completely drunk and alone (I could’ve been murdered!); took drugs I was given at a party or while hanging out with a group, not knowing what they or their effects were. After I was diagnosed and stable, I stopped taking these types of risks.

I had a full-time job, but it was a dead-end job. I took a risk and returned to school. I went full-time, though I still had a part-time job. The reason I believe this was a healthy risk was because it was mentally challenging. By earning my degree I had the potential to get ahead in life. Then I graduated, and headed to graduate school (another risk) where I met my husband (yet another risk).

I remember the first time I saw him. It was during orientation. He was sitting a few rows ahead of me and a new friend. My friend called him Adonis Boy (AB). Lol! I reluctantly agreed that he was cute with his blue eyes and curly blond hair, but didn’t want anything to do with him. I was there for school and school only.

When we broke for lunch, most of the students headed to the back of the room where a lunch spread was laid out. Over the potato salad, AB and I stood across the table from one another. In my mind I once again agreed with my friend that this young man was cute, but I wasn’t looking for a relationship.

He and I had a class together, and got to know our classmates and we all started hanging out. At some point AB asked me out to dinner. I was recently divorced, but I took the risk. It was a healthy one. Now we’ve been together for 20 years, and married for 16!

What are some healthy risks you’ve taken?

My Cat Died

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I have 2 cats: Hee Seop (HEE-sop) and Angelo, and both are old. Or I should say that I had 2 cats, since one of them, Hee Seop (pictured here), died last Wednesday evening.

Granted, both cats are almost 18 years old, so part of me expected this, just not so soon. Hee Seop had a low appetite about a month ago, but a trip to the vet and some medication helped.

Since then, he hung out in all of the rooms, not just the bedroom where he and Angelo usually sleep all day. Hee Seop sat in my lap on the sofa, or lay next to my husband on the love seat. He didn’t care if the dog was there or not. He wasn’t afraid of Rudy, anyway.

For months he lay next to my head on my pillow overnight. I used to bury my face in his soft fur. I didn’t give voice to it at the time, but all his affection and spending more time in the living room with my husband and me — I was afraid that Hee Seop was saying goodbye.

Then last Wednesday I was sitting at my desk. I could feel him beneath my chair, walking over its legs that spread out like a spider’s and has wheels  on the ends. I thought he was going to sleep in the dog’s bed under my desk, but I heard some weird noises that turned out to be Hee Seop struggling to get out from underneath the chair. His body looked a little odd, and when I saw him move a little, I noticed that his back legs were paralyzed. We took him to the emergency vet immediately.

On the way there, we both mentioned how scared we were that we wouldn’t come home with him. Meanwhile, he was panting and crying very loudly in the back seat. I didn’t know if he was in pain, protesting being in the carrier, or what.

We weren’t at the vet long. The doctor told us that he had a blood clot in his heart. A piece of it broke off and got lodged in his abdomen and blocked the blood supply to his legs, which is why they gave out. I think it’s called a saddle thrombus, and is extremely painful. Fortunately, the vet gave him a pain reliever.

We discussed the prognosis, which the veterinarian said was poor, especially because Hee Seop also had congestive heart failure. They could treat him, but the end result would have been the same as having him humanely euthanized. We chose the latter because we didn’t want to prolong his pain and discomfort.

I’m extremely sad, because Hee Seop was with us since he was a year old. He was a feral cat that showed up on our back porch looking for food, and that I socialized into a tame (but skittish) cat. He isn’t the first cat we needed to have put to sleep. Two others were before him. But it doesn’t get easier. I’m not depressed, which is a good thing. But I think about him a lot.

Home Alone

Photo on Visual Hunt

My husband was out of town Wednesday through Friday. Staying home alone is a huge undertaking for me, something that my therapist helped me prepare for by helping me dispel any unfounded fears I had.

Also, I don’t cook, so we had cold salads (pasta, potato, fruit) in the fridge for me to eat, and yogurts for breakfast. We bought dry food for our 2 cats, so I wouldn’t have to deal with nasty canned leftovers. And they always leave leftovers. We boarded our dog (I got out of the practice of walking him by myself).

Feeding your cats and yourself may be easy for some, but this was a big step in recovery for me. My aim is to be less dependent on my husband.


Circa 1971 – 1972. Photo provided by author.

So my grandmother passed peacefully in her sleep two days ago. Had my husband and I gone, I wouldn’t have been able to shower her with hugs and kisses.

She’s the woman standing in the picture, her arm around my waist. My grandfather was holding my hand.  And finally, my aunt and uncles. This picture was taken circa 1971 – 1972.

Anyway, I don’t know how I feel about this: I felt so much relief at my family’s support of my mental health, and now, I don’t know, she’s gone. Just gone.

She’s the woman who raised me for at least 6 months when I was 2 years old, after my mom left for the US. And for another 6 months (at least) when I was 4. Six months after my mom left, my dad followed suit. I remember going through photo albums and becoming jealous of any picture that contained my parents without me.

But Mama was there. Mama fed, washed, and clothed me as if I were her own. This, in addition to having one son either in school or working, another in the U.S., a daughter in medical school, and a third son either finishing up high school, or starting college. Who knows? In some part of my 2-yo brain, maybe I considered her my own mother. Maybe I still do.

As I began writing this post I was overcome with emotion, which bubbled up from nowhere. I never cried like this for my real mother — I haven’t cried at all for her. But I’m discovering that my grandmother maybe, just maybe, is my mother, too.

Rest in Peace, Mama

Love, ~Chic

NOTE: “Chic” is my Filipino nickname among my family.

Daily Prompt: Bubble

Out of Nowhere

Photo credit: greggman on / CC BY

As I put one arm through one sleeve and the other arm through the other, on my black, silky-type shirt this morning, I knew something bad would happen. For example, while eating yogurt, the cuff dragged across the top of the yogurt cup, which I somehow knew would happen. And of course, the yogurt smeared across my sleeve wouldn’t just wipe off. It required soaking, and I didn’t have time for that. I changed into my back-up outfit, and, though unexpected, everything was fine.

Do you ever have feelings of impending doom go through your head? My paternal grandmother, who lives in the Philippines, is fading away. I want to see her before she passes, and I’m afraid that won’t happen, based on my sister’s most recent report (Mama’s had pneumonia for a while). She refuses to eat, and keeps saying that she’s so tired. And who wouldn’t be at 101 years old?

I’d have to leave PHP for at least a week, and while they’re okay with me doing that, I’m not sure that I should. Health comes first, right? But Mama was the matriarch, which probably means that relatives I haven’t seen in a while will be there, and although I’d love to see them under different circumstances, I wouldn’t want to be surrounded. I’d want time alone with her, which, to be honest, I don’t think I’d be able to get. I have a LOT of relatives! Lol!

I was 2 when my parents moved to the US: first my mom, and 6 months later, my dad. I was 3 when some political $hit went down, so my mom flew back there and got me out. The original plan was for Mama to vacation here, while bringing me at the same time. While I was happy to see my mom, I was unhappy to leave my grandparents. I was right to be. I arrived at a home in which my parents yelled at each other non-stop.

At 4-1/2, I went back to the Philippines. I don’t know the reason, though my mom said, “because we thought you’d like it” (sigh, really?) And I did like it, she was right. But it was a 6-mo. stay! On the one hand I loved this, because I got to be around Mama and Papa, my aunt and uncles, but on the other hand, however flawed, I missed my parents. But Mama and Papa were there.

I miss my grandmother, but I don’t think I’m healthy enough for all of the travel, the weird popping going on with my ear, how rushed we’ll be.

Have you ever had to make the sort of decision? Your health vs. the death of a family member?

Daily Prompt: Sleeve