The Good Ole Days!
Yes, believe it or not I do have some of those too! It's not all gloom and doom! And, for some reason today, this chilly ...rainy...late May ...day - I am remembering a really special time - a time when I first got the taste of letting go of restraints.
I was 17 years old and walking around with a time bomb inside me, an enlarged spleen. That freaky spleen of mine started enlarging when I was just nine years old and caused so many trips to the hospital that I have lost track of just how many times I was hospitalized for it....at least 6 times a year. This of course was back in the day when a doctor said he was going to run some tests meant two weeks in a hospital bed.
Anyway....doctors...specialists (many...too many of them) just couldn't figure out why I was so ill, and why that damn spleen of mine kept enlarging. They didn't want to remove it until they could figure out the underlying cause...was it cancer? some weird autoimmune disorder? So, they ran tests after tests...the only reason I allowed that second bone marrow (PAINFUL!) test to be done was I had a VERY....EXTREMELY...good looking resident, Dr. Ricardo Longarini, begging me to go forward with it - and I being that teenager who at the time watched wayyyyy too many soap opera's laying on my bed at St. Francis Hospital (Evanston) ...said, "What ever you want doctor." So very not typical for this rather opinionated cranky patient who could recite her patient rights, and kicked doctors out of her room. Yes, someone figured out the right guy to send in....
Anyway (again)... doctors were perplexed, I was exhausted because hospitals, and they wanted to send me off to the Mayo Clinic. I said no....that before anything else happens, I wanted to do one thing...something I had promised my grandmother I would do - visit family in Germany. Grandma wanted to go with me but she passed away when I was 16....I wanted to make sure I carried out the promise before there were more hospitals and surgeries.
I had been writing to my cousin, Andrea, over there since I was 12 and she was 17. We became extremely close over the years...almost like sisters even though we never met, and surprisingly before there was ever instant messages and emails...snail mail created our bond. Something we both always found interesting is we share the same birthday, November 23rd.
I may be a caretaker...a people pleaser... but when I do get my mind set on something I am also a very stubborn woman, and hell bent on getting what I want. It doesn't happen often, but when it does...watch out.
Visiting Andrea in Germany and getting away from my life at home...all the doctors, and then also all the dysfunction...was something I was hell bent on...and I ended up getting my way. I think those in power at the time relented because no one was sure how much longer I would have on this Earth.
Loaded down with prescriptions, medical records, and authorizations, I boarded that Lufthansa flight at O'Hare airport...and off I went. Off I went..alone and 17 to visit family I had never met before, and I would stay with Andrea and her fiance for 6 weeks. FREEEEEEEEEDOM!!!!!!!!!
Now mind you, outside of the hospital and poking medical staff, I was the good girl's good girl. The goody two shoes in the family. I never got in trouble...never caused trouble, and I didn't even swear (not back then) - I wasn't one to go out partying with friends...had never been drunk and didn't dare take drugs. I was responsible, and the one my parent counted on...sometimes too much.
It was the most exciting time in my life thus far. The year was 1985 and it was the Easter season. Andrea's boyfriend, Ralf, picked me up at the airport in Dusseldorf - and together we drove to their home in Dortmund.I can remember the car ride..taking in all the sites...holding on for dear life as we zipped around the autobahn, and feeling like I was in another world. So much the same...but yet everything so different. The pain that was always in my side...that spleen area....was there, but I didn't care.
As soon as I saw Andrea, it was like seeing a sister for the first time...an instant connection. The stories packed into those 6 weeks are many...so many firsts for me, including getting drunk (Hey, it was GERMANY!) The thing I remember most is I could be me. I wasn't the daughter who was held to a standard that was almost unattainable. I wasn't that little girl who was molested. I wasn't that patient in the hospital. I was just me, Eva.
I laughed, I explored life and my surroundings...I felt the most alive I ever had felt. Everyday we did something new..visit family...toured castles and museums...explored Dortmund's nightlife and sometimes at night we would just sit in their apartment..Andrea, Ralf and his best friend Werner, and we would talk the night away while we played Yahtzee on their coffee table...food, wine...and fun.
Yes Andrea..."nicht ser hard on tisch" ...half German, half English = Andrea drunk!
There were days when exhaustion did get to me, as did the pain in my side...but it was worth it, I was free. I despised leaving...I cried all the way back home on that long flight. Funny,today I get the feeling of being homesick when I think about those times.
I did go back to my life in the states...back to the dysfunction, and to the hospitals. Within a few months of being home doctors decided to finally just take the damn thing out....after a 5 hour surgery, and a spleen the size of what my surgeon called an "8lb roast"...I was finally free of that too. It would be a few more years before I was free of hospitals...but finally the pain that existed in my side for almost a decade was gone. They never did figure out why my spleen decide to go haywire...but such is life.
Andrea came to the US just one month after I had the surgery. She made another trip here a year later, and then I went back over there in November of 1988 to celebrate our birthday together. The last time I saw Andrea was when I was pregnant with Kyle..12 years ago, and she came here to celebrate our birthday together...I turned 30, and she 35 (ha ha ha, sorry Andrea ..I just HAD to point that out!)
I miss her, and Germany so much...she is my family as well as my friend. Hopefully one day I will be able to take my sons over there and give them a taste of what I remember.
Now when I hear music from that time period, 1985, I am immediately transported to Dormtund and that first sense of freedom. Alphaville was a group that was popular over there at the time, and has always reminded me of that special time. The following video I found on You Tube (yes, I am hooked) - and I need to point out that while the song is by Alphaville, the video was created by a young man named Ted Newsom (aka Rose Phantom) - I was shocked when I found out he created this video while still only being a teen...he's a talented young man..and I am sure will be well known one day!!!!
Below the video are some pictures of my time in Germany....thank you for sharing with me in this trip down memory lane........................................
Me, Easter Sunday 1985...and after too much wine! Damn I was young!
Werner(cute, huh?)- Andrea, and her fiance Ralf - 1985