I said something out loud to my girlfriend a few weeks back that I had yet to admit to another living being, and said statement was followed by a solid understanding that my life is coming full circle.
Maestro … https://www.youtube.com/embed/bhtoDhlffsE?wmode=opaque
“So what has Jen Friel been up to?” she asked as we sat down for an impromptus happy hour (my office happens to be across the street from her building).
With a straight face, and little to no emotion I said, “I’ve experienced a fundamental shift in the last 30 days, I’m ready to get married and have babies.”
YAY!! She said super excited.
My actions weren’t mirrored, and without an actual mirror, I’ll just have to assume that my face looked something like this …
“What happened, what made you come to this conclusion?”
“My health,” I said. “It’s no big deal, but I had an ‘episode’ a few weeks back.”
I might have been capable of admitting that I was ready to start a family, but that still didn’t mean I was capable or willing to admit what the “episode” actually was.
Cue flashback sequence …
Back in July, I was warned by my doctor that if I didn’t start to find balance with my work and actual life, it would start to affect my health.
That’s where this post came from:
Four letter words are becoming a trend – my favorite of them being “sold.” Remember that “other” TV show I mentioned during talk nerdy’s relaunch? It sold. (I’m in front of and behind the camera on this one.) Upon finding out the news, the handful of people I told asked, “how are you going to celebrate?” Celebrate? I thought laughing. I have to get ahead of the announcement, and push along xyzabc123 projects. Then yesterday, I went to my doctor (unrelated), and he told me if I don’t take a break it’s going to start to affect my health. “You look like shit,” he said, “which must mean you sold something.” Mind you, not only does this man have a successful practice, he’s also the bassist for Ryan Adams (even has a thank you note in his waiting room from @taylorswift ). Before I got back into my car, I reached out to my buddy Hugh and asked if I could accept a standing invitation to Catalina. Not a problem, he said! So now I’m on a boat heading to an island to hang out with my second favorite Irish family. Fingers crossed we end up on @lisavanderpump Instagram again … #nerdsunite
A post shared by Jen Friel (@talknerdytomelover) on Jul 27, 2017 at 1:07pm PDT
I took his words very seriously, and once I found out a project had received a pilot order (a big deal in TV), I left for an extended weekend vacation on an island (not far from LA). While there, I had met someone who I was not only attracted to, but in his previous life, built homes. THAT’S PERFECT! I thought knowing I wanted to renovate my apartment.
<tangent> See, I want to take the money from both TV projects and invest in homes. (This is how my parents made their money.) Since I don’t own a home yet, I figured why not build a design portfolio using my own apartment (which could later translate into a career in staging homes). I have no idea if I’d be any good at it, but I viewed it as a calculated risk with the plus side of creation satisfaction in a tangible realm. Everything I build professionally is online. I wanted to find balance between both worlds. </tangent>
I then purchased all the supplies required (which was hilarious because it was the first time I went to the hardware store and actually bought supplies for my home).
I’ve previously bought a 3 gallon bucket for an ayahuasca ceremony, chicken wire for the sliding mechanism on my freelance Charlie Chaplin costume …
The costume needed the stache and to keep it on I used fishing line and chicken wire which allowed me to slide it left or right and still keep it on.
The sign on the back made it a little weird past midnight. I did not anticipate people taking me seriously.
Freelance Charlie Chaplin meant that pants were optional.
… and spackling (bought to mimic frosting for my Katy Perry costume). That was a fun adventure!!
Anywho, we began painting one Saturday and somewhere in between the long strokes and reminder of wet things, we began tearing each other’s clothes off.
There were no lonely trees in this picture. There was wood however …
The sex was incredible (sex really does change as you get older and become more comfortable in your skin), and close to my own climax we switched positions to the back of the couch. (A fun perk of home renovating is all the new angles you can utilize with your newly placed furniture.)
As I began arching my back sticking my butt out (this makes your butt look amazing before doggy), time began slowing down – rapidly. I took a handful of deep breaths but before I could process what was happening, the world began moving in a circular motion like a fast/ forceful stream of water being sucked down the drain.
My body then involuntarily fell forward (thankfully onto the back of my very soft couch), as I felt a “spark” inside my brain. I tried to speak, and realized I couldn’t. It wasn’t until my arm began violently shaking that el boy-o realized something was wrong.
He was coming in hot from behind, so there was no way he would have noticed something any sooner.
When I was finally able to speak (the entire “episode” lasted a handful of seconds), I said “I’m okay, I’m fine. I’m okay, I’m fine,” only, I wasn’t. I just couldn’t stop trying to take control of whatever situation I had involuntarily found myself in.
“You are very clearly not fine or okay,” he said immediately going into action grabbing towels from my bathroom, cooling them down with water and placing them on my body. (He’s been trained in the military so if this was ever going to happen to me, I was glad it was happening with someone logical who could help and not freak out.)
Not knowing what to do, I put on pants figuringpants were the minimum requirement should I need to be taken anywhere.
Cautious to make sudden movements, or really any movement, I was immediately reminded of my doctor’s prediction.
“I need to make more money, and I am going to work less,” I said. Everyone knows startups are notorious for paying peanuts, and my problem is that I’ll be the last one to take. I’m a stubborn asshole who has survived off of bartering, but I can’t continue to gamble with my own life.
This was a full blown wake up call that I need to add balance in my life and if I chose not to listen, my body would do what it needed to do.
I waited a full 24 hours before emailing the founder of my company.
You feel this weird residual after effect with an “episode,” and I wanted the email to not come from a place of fear or disorientation, but rather a place that was honest and grounded (or as grounded as I could be).
El Boy-o was surprised. “You’ve got a lot of balls emailing the founder on a weekend saying you’re going to take more money and work less.”
I smiled knowing that I am going to make a lot of money at this company(something I am going to need if I end up down the road being a single mother), but what good would all that money do if I’m not alive to enjoy it?
I created my own bottom line realizing that if I am going to stay I would have to have those needs met. If not, I totally get it, I wouldn’t take any of it personally – I fiercely admire the people I work with.
I arrived at the office on Monday (a little later than I planned). The founder and I walked outside as I began telling him what happened. “Zero history of this. Nothing in my family. Nada. It has to be stress, just like my doctor warned.”
He asked why I wasn’t in bed, and I explained that I had a big meeting to focus on (I know … I know … but I really did relax the rest of the weekend, but relaxing to me is also doing whatever needs to get done so I can stop thinking about it). “Whatever you need, we’ll take care of it.”
He then connected me with a doctor friend of his, and I immediately broke down what happened (including the previously received warning). It all felt so cut and dry in my head that this was stress related, but his response caught me off guard …
The doctor sent that email at 2:38 pm. By 2:45, I was out the door sobbing the entire ride home.
I don’t know why it upset me so much the idea of having an MRI, but it was this jolting reality (literally) that I wasn’t in control of my life. As a strategist/ planner, I can quickly assess possible outcomes but this time I forbid myself from “going there” and feeling sorry for myself. Whatever it is, I will handle it … quite frankly, I have no choice.
When I got home, I googled low cost MRIs. I didn’t want to go through insurance and the reality that I need to see this doctor to get the referral to that doctor who is going to hand the results off to this clinic where I can get tested on even numbered days that aligned with the return of Halley’s comet.
I had already lined up three doctors who agreed to analyze the photos (one of whom works at Harvard). I just needed the photos done well, and fast.
Three days, and $275 cash in hand later, I arrived at the testing facility and signed in with a fake name (no ID was required). I had no reason to use a pseudonym, but I figured if I was in the process of going full blown cray, I might as well be authentic and just start doing weird illogical shit on the reg.
A very long hour and some change later (someone moved in the machine causing them to have to redo the exam), I entered into the back room. For a cash place that lets you get an MRI without showing any form of identification, I was pleasantly surprised at how clean and inviting everything felt. This experience shook me to the definition of my core, yet here I was questioning what kind of Lysol they were using.
I removed my earrings and placed my bag in the locker adjacent to the exam room. I grabbed the key and placed it on the table inside. On a scale of 1-10 my fear was ranked at a 100.
I didn’t expect the trajectory of my 32nd year to potentially include the word “tumor” or “cancer,” said every person that has said those words ever.
I was placed on the table (which was actually quite comfortable), and given a blanket. I was instructed not to move. I laughed thinking movement wasn’t an option as my body was already paralyzed with fear.
The operator went back behind the partion as the procedure began. Surprised by the sound of the machine, my body continued to involuntarily shake. (Enough to know I was shaking, not enough to disrupt the exam.) It was the sound of the machine that surprised me.
For some reason, I expected it to sound like a dot matrix printer … https://www.youtube.com/embed/A_vXA058EDY?wmode=opaque
I was wrong. Very wrong.
Here’s what the machine actually sounded like … https://www.youtube.com/embed/8oI9YnhPNcQ?wmode=opaque
… only in the one they were using the sound wasn’t constant. Every time I attempted to lull myself into some form of advanced meditation, the high pitch pierce would come back providing that additional reminder that yep, this life moment is happening.
To make matters worse, the clinic was blasting KOST 103.5. Normally, I love that station, but on this particular day, in that particular half hour, I resented their every being … https://www.youtube.com/embed/WziA88-n02k?wmode=opaque
FTR, I’m not crazy or unwell Matchbox 20!! https://www.youtube.com/embed/FM7MFYoylVs?wmode=opaque
SHUT UP with your, “I want something just like this” Chainsmokers & Coldplay. https://www.youtube.com/embed/xo1VInw-SKc?wmode=opaque
This isn’t my fight song Rachel, but if I make it out of this I will be taking my life back (whatever that really means).
30 minutes later, I emerged a grumpy mcgee pants. I was scared, angry, and sad. I executed the motions, but still couldn’t handle the e-motions.
After the test, I drove back to the office where I attempted to have a meeting. Fortunately, it was with a guy I had previously dated, so when he asked if I was okay, I felt comfortable enough admitting that I wasn’t. I sobbed in his arms saying I could barely even drive back.
“YOU DROVE YOURSELF TO THE CLINIC?” he asked shocked.
“I know, I said, I should have taken an uber.”
“With all the people you know, you didn’t ask someone to go with you?”
“I didn’t expect this kind of response. I normally stay eerily calm when I’m nervous or scared. I’m also a stubborn asshole who needs to learn it’s okay to show/ admit any sort of vulnerability to another living being.”
I paused for a moment.
“I have zero problems showing vulnerability in relationships now. I guess I still need work on extending that outwards to my friends.”
“What about the guy you’re dating?”
“He offered to take me. I told him no.”
“Fuck, you’re right. I’m causing all of this. I have the help all around me, and I’m not accepting it.”
He then gave me yet another big hug as we agreed to postpone the meeting to the following week.