NOVEMBER 20—Any Colour You Like

You can’t always get what you want. Blah blah blah. Deep thoughts and Pink Floyd. There is no dark side of the moon really matter of fact it’s all dark.
I’m not the first person to be sick and I won’t be the last, but here we are. Update needed.
Free association is about the only thing I have a mind to do right now and so I’ll try to pull it together into something comprehensible.
If you’ve ever been in a major hospital recently there’s this channel called C.A.R.E. that just shows pictures of nature while music plays. Apparently there’s scientific evidence that just looking at a picture of a “vista” can relax you. Sometimes I lie there and watch that channel and think about the word “teeming” because that’s all that keeps popping into my head. This planet is surrounded by rocky and fiery and gas-laden planets and yet ours is teeming TEEMING — with colors and creatures and millions of upright humans communicating. If you think about that for long enough and stare long enough into the bubbling rapid or the alpine peak on the screen you can get to that state of wonder for a second …and be like …pretty ok with everything.
Are you in control?
This is a question my dad often poses to me, and Andrew, during trying hospital times. Perhaps my mother gets it too, though I suspect not. It’s his way, I think, of assuring himself and us that we are in control of things when he’s not around. He likes to be in control. I like to be in control. I am in control as much as anyone can possibly be in my situation. Sometimes too much. I can’t control the big event, the most important thing; no one can. Control is the word of the day, the year – for me – and the country it seems too. Control is elusive. Dangerous. People freak out when they lose it.
Tolstoy had an existential crisis where he couldn’t figure out how to have faith…and decided the only logical thing he could do was to kill himself –  He spiraled out of control… he couldn’t think himself out of the problem of living, the meaninglessness of life, and the uncertainty of faith. He thought that if life had no meaning, which his reasonable mind believed because he could not prove the opposite, then the brave thing to do would be to end it. But he did not want to kill himself at all. He finally found his kernel of faith exactly right in front of him. His desire not to die, to keep on living despite the fact that he KNEW he was going to die, was a kind of miraculous leap of faith that we all do every day when we wake up. He figured the fact that faith even exists at all makes it a truth in and of itself. And he went on. (you can read this in his “A confession”).
So the basic details of my situation are things I know people want to know … I’m so grateful I have so many people that care for me and my family, so here they are. I went into the hospital last Wednesday because I’d reached a new low of shortness of breath, due in part obviously to my lungs but also to my pulmonary hypertension which is more severe now. My increased oxygen needs have now boosted my score way up to 70. It was 47/48 for the past 2.5 years. I cried with relief that there had been a shift. Just days and weeks before had been, as yet, my lowest point. For the sake of transparency and for anyone reading this who might be sick too and think a lot of people make it look easy – trust me – we all fake it. Here’s what low looks like– I was sitting in the bathtub while my mom washed my hair. On 10 liters of oxygen with a rescue tank next to me to supplement. The day before I went into the hospital I couldn’t even do that. Physical anxiety attacks everyday. Extreme body aches. It’s hard to pray for yourself. Or ask for things for yourself. But that day I screamed in my mind to whoever was listening to please help me out because I couldn’t find my little ball of fiery strength anymore …and I can always find it.

Yet just last Sunday– I took this picture. Three of my most dearest buddies -Jacqui, Kenley, and Allison – arranged for my awesome Boston hair stylist, Alex, to fly down and completely change my hair. It had become a huge tangled yellow mess that I didn’t have the energy to even comb, never mind color or cut. She came to the apartment and I cut 10 inches off andscreen-shot-2016-11-20-at-3-03-28-pm went closer to my natural color. It was so perfect and such perfect timing – because now I can have dirty hospital hair and it looks like a chic conscious fashion choice with my ripped tees. My point is – I don’t look like someone sobbing in the bathtub gasping for air in this picture – but I am. Everyone struggles beyond their photos. But the world is meant to be hard and difficult and beautiful. Maybe it’s easy to say this from where I sit – I am one lucky duck – I have a great family and great care a stylist who fucking flies in. I still suffer and it still sucks. But there is so much suffering in the world … so much. My belief though at least is – the world was not meant to always be fair or fun or easy.  The world is teeming with life, and death, and pain, and Donald Trump even haha. We just have to keep living. Step back. We are just tiny beings. There are lobsters living at the bottom of the ocean for over a hundred years. They have just been sitting down there through all of our lives and wars and lives before us. We aren’t that much different from lobsters really if you pull back a little. All part of this teeming painful wonderful world where so much is just luck. But we can choose to be kind, and to keep trying — we have the power.

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. ” Leonard Cohen
—Caitlin

12 thoughts on “NOVEMBER 20—Any Colour You Like

  1. Frances

    Caitlin my true inspiration you are a sheer example of how to enjoy life to the full. I only wish i could do something to help and all i can do is pray that your transplant will be next and without a doubt your on my mind 24/7 sending all the hugs in the world hunny xxxxx frances and oisin.xxxxxx

    Reply
  2. erikarobuck

    You are *marvelous.* God must think very highly of you to give you such suffering, but dammit, enough. I pray for your call every day. Much love, peace, and thanksgiving.

    Reply
  3. Eileen Murphy

    You’ve all come this far Caitlin…hang on in there you brave and beautiful young woman. We send up our prayers to God and our love to you.

    Eileen & Padraig
    Xx

    Reply
  4. bob daniels

    Hi Caitlin, I read your “update” and was very moved by what you had to say. I’m impressed by your spunk and courage and by the love and admiration the people around you have for you. Your a beautiful young woman with a beautiful soul — and a damned good writer. My thoughts and prayers will be with you and your family. Bob Daniels

    Reply
  5. Kelley

    That was so beautiful! You are definitely your mothers daughter with your amazing way of expressing yourself in your life, your feelings and your story- I think of you often – big hugs and kisses for you kitten, momma bear and papa bear-😇

    Reply
  6. Erin Al-Mehairi

    Keeping you in prayers and so happy for your little up times. I am sad for your down times. Your hair looks wonderful. Keep fighting and loving. The world needs your spirit.

    Reply
  7. John nord

    Wow. I just read that. My first reaction is to weep. What a tough situation that u are. In. But then I stop and say no. I need to sit at your feet and say, amazing. You have the courage, the strength, the faith that just blows away anything else
    I don’t know, but if it were me I would think I might say, Why does my journey need to be this? Why couldn’t my path have been this or that? I don’t see that expressed, although you talk about faith.
    Maybe I am wrong. I don’t know. But your little red ball of fire reminds me of your soul. It seems to be ur essence. In this note u communicate beautifully with me and whoever else is listening. This fiery ball keeps you alive and makes you so much larger than youself through your words. ( bigger than 100 year old lobsters).
    So your words have marked me forever. If troubles are encountered I will think of your courage, your grace, your strength and it will inspire me to remember that the most important moments are those u share in love with family and friends. That if we r lucky our little red balls of fire connect with others and with God who never intends hardships for us. I will continue to be a prayer warrior for you. God bless you child

    Reply
  8. lkingjp

    Catlin, Your essay/message is so meaningful especially on a day of giving thanks. My sister, Lily and I have been counting down the days when 2016 will be over as this year has really sucked, losing both parents etc. Your insight and wisdom are a reminder for those of us that are not struggling with our health/breathing to dig deeper, search beyond our daily work family chores and step back with gratitude for all that we have each day. I am not the writer in the family (my brother and sister have that in spades). Just wanted you to know how much I admire and respect you and that you for sharing your journey. Sending love and gratitude. Best, Lisa

    Reply
  9. Mary Ellen Bavaro

    Caitlin: I can’t thank you enough for this incredibly honest posting. It was so great to read your words describing what you’re going through & to see how incredibly brave you are. I just want u to know that my mother & sister & I have been thinking of you & are praying that you get what you need to fight this. Thank you for being such an inspiration to us all! Love you, Mary Ellen

    Reply
  10. Tracy Sheehan

    This is beautiful in life and death. I’m so sorry I’m reading this after Caitlin’s life has ended. It must have been as amazing as it was tough. Her beautiful words should always inspire. Rest In Peace

    Reply

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