No Nonsense, No Excuses

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Every bone in my left foot, knee and spine hurt as I made my way home. I was tired and still rattled by the news that my longtime co-worker/friend abruptly stepped down from the anchor desk.

I’d arrived at work in time for our morning show producer, Tyler, to tell me that Lori was still inside. I’d missed her goodbye speech and cake but I was determined to say farewell to her in person. Lori was standing, talking to other people when I arrived in the newsroom. I waited to tell her that I wished best and that I knew she would continue to honor her father’s legacy.

Lori turned to me and said, “I’ve told you before. You are one of the strongest people I know.”

I forgot back tears as I embraced her. I tried not to think about what her loss meant to me for the rest of the day. But, suppressing my feelings left me mentally exhausted by 6:15. I couldn’t wait to get home. My body made getting there difficult.

I dragged myself the final block to my townhouse. Then, I decided to stop at the mailbox. There was package wedged in it with a name on it that was unknown to me. It was clear the package was for me because my entire first name was written on it, not just Nika.

16 stairs later I ripped my shoes off and leaned on the kitchen counter while I opened the package. Inside was a t-shirt that read “No nonsense. No excuses” in purple glitter; that’s the name I gave to my Autoimmune Walk NYC team. My cousin Darcelle told me she had a shirt made for me to wear but I’d forgotten. I was so thrilled to see it, I didn’t feel the pain as I walked into the living room and slipped it on.

I stared at myself in the mirror and repeated, “no nonsense will deter me from making it through work or anything else every day. And, there are no excuses for not living my best life by showing the strength others see in me.”

#LoriStokes #tvnews #noexcuses #nononsense #autoimmunewalk #chronicpain #chronicillness #autoimmunedisease #igg4

Under The Surface

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Her name was Colleen. We’d only met a few minutes before she asked me to open my robe and expose my chest. After that she was silent other than to tell me to, “lay on your back with your eyes towards the ceiling.”

She used a scanner to spread warm gel on the right side of my chest. Then, she began peering inside me to see, what if anything, looked out of place. Moments later, she found something.I felt her stop the scanner and heard clicking on the keyboard. I glanced over and I saw it.

There was a dark circle on the upper left side of the screen. She used the tool to measure it, zoom in and then there was more clicking. She went back to that spot and one other on the right side several times before it was time to switch. Colleen examined the left side too. But, either she found nothing remarkable or I didn’t notice. Afterwards, I was free to go; allowed to leave to contempt the possible results.

I was on my way back to my office with fear running through me when my college friend/former roommate texted me to say that she and her son were in the city and they wanted to stop by. Years, distance and illness kept us from seeing each other often but today the timing was perfect.

My heart leapt and my concern about the test dissipated. All I thought about was being in the moment, catching up, showing them around the tv station where I work and absorbing the love from them.

#mammogram #breastcancer #friendship #disability #chronicillness #chronicpain #igg4 #nyc #ultrasound #roommate #tvnews

Am I Losing My Humanity?

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Am I losing my humanity? That’s the question that went through my mind when my boss called a meeting in the newsroom and told us our co-worker, Mike Lynn, passed away. I felt numb when I thought I’d crumble.

Seconds later, my chest began feel heavy; it was weighed down by my sorrow but the tears didn’t come. My head hurt and I wasn’t thinking clearly but I knew there was no time to break down. I only had minutes until the 6 p.m. show.  And, I still had work to do. 

I tried not to think about the fact the Mike collapsed feet from where I was sitting. He too showed up for work today feeling under the weather but I was less than a half hour from going home while he wouldn’t.

Honestly, I didn’t see Mike often. He worked the overnight shift and I was on days. However, we were hardly strangers. His scripts were always filed in the rundown. I often used them as a base for my work in later shows. Whenever there was a snowstorm he worked late and I came in early. On those days, he’d stop to catch me up on his kids, office politics or current events. In recent years we became friends online. He’d like my posts, sometimes comment and occasionally send me a note in messenger to let me know he’d eaten some of my candy so he left me cash for some more.

It’s hard to believe that one of the most reliable co-workers I’ve had since the 90’s is no more. We are, or should I say we were, the last two full-time writers. Now I am alone and I don’t like it.

I will miss his wit, his humor, his intellect and his stories.  This thought made me cry on the train ride home. I guess years of covering tragedy hasn’t stolen my humanity; I still feel the pain of losing another co-worker suddenly and far too soon. 

Number One Thing To Do

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I woke up this morning with no where to go; that’s extremely rare for me. I’m constantly making “to do lists” so I utilize the time I am well effectively. But, today’s list was blank except for: “put your feet up.”

I had to write that down to remind me to not to attempt to use my crutches to wade through the snow and ice on my doorstep to try to get to work.

At 9:30 am, I felt compelled to get up and shower. Then, I stood staring at my closet until I realized I just needed something to wander around the house in. So, I grabbed the pajama set my dear friend bought me the previous night.

I mentioned to him that my fiancé decided we should stay a second night at a hotel near work to make his commute easier. But, he’d taken our suitcases to his car earlier in the day. This meant thatI had no change of clothes.

My friend offered to escort me to Century 21 to pick something out. But, my supervisor arranged for our courier to drop me off at the hotel so I didn’t have to limp through the snow.

I slid on the slush outside the courier’s car at the hotel and fear welled inside me.

Maybe it is best that I don’t go out in this wintery mess, I thought. I might break something else.

As I sat, fully dressed in my hotel room, my friend called. He was coming upstairs to drop something off. He’d gone to Century 21 on his own to pick out the night set for me. He also got a toothbrush and toothpaste.

“I can’t believe you did this.”

“I just wanted make sure you get some rest. Do you need anything else?”

“No, you’ve done more than enough.”

“Okay. Just feel better and rest.”

When the room door closed, I dialed my mother and told her what he did.

As soon as I hung up, I slipped into the pajamas and sat on the end of the bed as my broken toes throbbed.

I have got to put my health first, I thought. I go to the doctor, take my medication but I need to rest more. I have tackle this the way I get everything else done.

I took out my phone and wrote “put my feet up” on my daily to do list. Then, I grabbed my phone and emailed my boss to take the day off.

#tvnews #nyc #backpain #chronicillness #autoimmunedisease