Leaving A Mark

About a month ago I got a tattoo to memorialize Bryan. At the risk of sounding like a devotee of Twilight [for the record I AM NOT. I don’t even know what they’re called], Bryan imprinted so profoundly on my life, that it just made sense to leave an imprint on myself to mark that time. [Update: I just Googled what you call fans of Twilight…apparently it’s “Twihards”. Cool.] I thought a lot about what I wanted to permanently remind my of not only my amazing husband, but also of the earth shattering effect the aftermath of his death has had on me and those in my orbit.  It goes without saying that this has FOREVER changed me to my core (but not like beneficially in the form of six-pack abs or anything) as well as the trajectory of my life.  Needless to say I couldn’t take this inking as lightly as if I was at Daytona Beach Spring Break ’87 excited for my butterfly wing lower back tattoo. No offense to any of my tens of readers with lower back tattoos. Love you hot messes!

lower back tattoo

True story: this was the first thing that came up upon Googling “lower back tattoo”. NOTE: Shown here for reference only. I do not, I repeat do not, have this tattoo.

Also, I should note this wasn’t my first tattoo, so the “should I get a tattoo at all or not” wasn’t really a factor in my decision making.  It’s true what they say, once you get one, you definitely want more. Anyway back to the design.  For a while I had wanted to get a tattoo based on this new technology where you tattoo a sound wave and using an app can then play it by scanning your tattoo.  Bryan had left me so many cute, funny, and random voicemails that I envisioned using one of those, and I’m deathly afraid of forgetting the sound of his voice (like it keeps me up at night).  Well thanks to my shitty iPhone and shitty Sprint service, my phone deleted ALL OF MY SAVED VOICEMAILS (more on that here) so that idea was a bust. Thus it was time to resort to the trusty old internet machine. Scanning Pinterest, memorial tattoos run the gamut from beautiful to heart wrenching to tacky to confusing to just plain poor ink work. While I went for inspiration, I definitely wasn’t seeing what I wanted.  I had figured I would do something more symbolic vice the very on-the-nose broken heart, inspirational quote, birth/death date.  I also figured I’d know it when I saw it.  Every few weeks I’d peruse the boards seeing if anything new or interesting popped up, and no dice.  My “Inkspiration” (get it?) board was about as full as it was going to get.  And thus this idea languished on my mental to-do list for a while, you know with all the other basic functional things I was struggling to do: get out of bed, shower regularly, maybe do a load of laundry, try watching less Netflix, it’s getting embarrassing, etc. etc. You know, the usual.

Then one Friday in April I was driving along A1A beachfront avenue a la Vanilla Ice and decided to just pop into the tattoo shop I’ve used before and like.  I’m making a concerted effort as of late to “just do it” (no Nike reference here) instead of waiting until the drive and/or motivation manifests itself, because the funny thing about depression/grief is, it basically never does and you just have to push through it. So I went in and started chatting with the gentleman about elements I’ve seen from Pinterest that I like and things I didn’t like and why I was getting this tattoo in the first place.  He seemed interested in this tattoo project and gave me some ideas right away that I hadn’t even considered.  He offered to draw up a design and asked when I’d like to come in for the session. Turns out, he had time the next day and if I didn’t jump on it, my schedule would preclude me from getting it for weeks (I’m very busy and important) so I said why the hell not and set the appointment.  I’ve noticed this is a pattern I’ve developed. While I don’t tend to make rash decisions (SEE: lack of new fancy car, move to Bali, opioid addiction or shaved head in year one of widowhood), I don’t have a problem pulling the proverbial trigger quickly once I’ve considered it for an acceptable amount of time.  So while I may have “considered” the tattoo for close to 2 years, I actually got it in under 24 hours.  Ironically enough, Bryan was not a fan of tattoos. Like at all. So perhaps my hesitation came from a subconscious feeling of wondering how he would feel about it. But too late! It’s my body my choice* I have to give a shout out to Marc at Florida Velvet Tattoo.  He did great work and came up with a design I love.

Editors Note: *Except in Georgia, Alabama, Ohio, Missouri and other pending states.

tattoo 1

Just me, in total calm blissed-out zen and definitely not clenching a stress ball with excessive flop sweat.

I got the forget-me-not flowers because not only are they generally used to memorialize someone, they are also the flower used to represent SUDEP. Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy or SUDEP, is what Bryan passed away from.  I haven’t really talked a lot about it on here, but I do have plans to as I’m starting my pro-active phase of grief. I wouldn’t say I’m at the “acceptance” phase yet by any means, but this is a new one I made up unique to my “journey” (eye roll).  The swallow, or at least that’s what kind of bird I’ve decided it is, was just all around sweet to look at (just like my bae) but also links to the way I think Bryan still comes and visits me now and then.  You may call BS and that’s fine, I’m surprised I’m open to this stuff as well, but I saw a Medium about 4 months after Bryan died (a post for another day) and she said that Bryan had been trying to visit me and was tapping on my window as a bird.  I had noticed a bird had been coming to my window for what seemed like an excessive amount of visits to not get bird seed, but hadn’t put it together.  So for now, I’ll choose to believe it.

 

tattoo 2

I’m happy to say it healed nicely and has caused me to seriously expand my racer-back tank top collection, which I don’t hate.  Pro tip: when getting a tattoo make sure you wear black. Apparently they like bleed or something. Until next time, wittiest widow over and out.

Today is World Purple Day! (Sounds way more fun than it is)

Given that today is Purple Day, I thought this was an apropos time to discuss the beast that put me in this situation.  The cause of this blog.  The reason my husband is no more.  What killed Bryan.  Should I continue, or are we good? Good.  The answer is Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP).  Never heard of it? Neither had I, or any other member of his family, friends, acquaintances, coworkers, the lady at the deli counter, the guy who always grunts at the gym, or your Starbucks barista for that matter.  And that’s messed up.  I’m sure you’re familiar with the concept of “raising awareness” for worthy causes, but the fact that something that kills 1 in 1,000 people with epilepsy, and that 50 million people worldwide suffer from epilepsy, needs awareness raising, really chaps my ass.

So what is Purple Day, you ask? WELL, glad you asked! It’s “an international grassroots effort dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy worldwide.  On March 26th annually, people in countries around the world are invited to wear purple and host events in support of epilepsy awareness.”  Their ultimate goal, and now mine, is to get people talking about epilepsy in an effort to dispel myths and inform those with seizures that they are not alone.

purple day

The fact that I had absolutely no idea why Bryan’s heart would just stop and he’d keel over never to be conscious again just proves there’s chaos in the universe.  In the days and weeks after he passed, I’d think back to his last appointments with his neurologist as they talked about adjusting his medication, and the litany of possible side effects she* rattled off like we were at a basic brunch and she was listing all the regretful bangs of her life.  One thing she never said was SUDEP.  Perhaps SUDEP was her “Chad”…the bang so shameful and embarrassing that she can’t utter it ever…or at least until the HPV he gave her clears up.  “Fuck you Chad [SUDEP]!” That’s how I had to rationalize it anyway.  Because my only other thoughts were of sending her a letter expounding upon all the ways she is either at best totally inept at her job, or at worst criminally negligent.  And then maybe sending said letter in an envelope filled with a suspicious white powder (Hint: GLUTEN!).  But, I’ve come to learn that this code of silence is widespread among doctors, and especially egregious in the United States.  All the best and most proactive research is coming out of the United Kingdom, so check them out, especially the SUDEP Action network.

sudep action

It only makes sense that the land that gave us Harry Potter, spots(?) of tea, Posh Spice, The Office**, and has universal health care would be ahead of us on this.  So, I’m turning my rage into action and doing my part to tell Bryan’s story, raise awareness and funds so that perhaps one of the 50 million people on this old earth of ours with epilepsy might be empowered to make the most informed health care decisions for his or her self.  So in summation, check yo’self before yo wreck yo’self [translation: check out these informative links, let friends and family with epilepsy know about SUDEP, and perhaps consider making a donation!].

*Her name is Dr. Brenda George in Fort Collins, CO.  I wouldn’t fight you if you gave her a shitty Yelp Review. J/K! (not really)

**I know, I know, that was the original, but the American Office WAS way better. U-S-A! U-S-A!