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The "Wu Word" Blog


Suddenly, the memories began flooding at me when I was brought back in time to May 1995 when I was recovering at home from my second kidney transplant.    Since I was little, germs, kidneys, and immune system were introduced into my world and language, but at 12-years-old in 1995, I really began to understand just how very bad germs, bacteria, and viruses (GBV)  were because they could come at my pre-owned and what was deemed as “foreign” kidney from my donor to attack and conquer to the point that my second kidney transplant would reject and I would lose this gift of life.  To try to stop GBV from coming at me and attach my gift of life second transplant, I was told to stay at home and take my fistfuls of color-coded immunosuppressed medications.   The adults said to me that there was no way I should go back to school that was a bedrock of bad from the cluster and crowds of kids.  This made me sad.   All I wanted was to be like the other kids, but I was in indoors bubbled isolation watching the Spring season bloom before my eyes and yet I could not really go out to enjoy the scent of flowers, the warmth of sunshine, the cool cuts and blades of grass under my bare feet, and, most of all, the contact with other kids that I craved.  I could not really be a kid.  It was like I was an adult trapped in a child’s body. 
I think my circle of adults knew how much I wanted to be with other children because at the end of June and less than two months after receiving my second kidney transplant, my wish to just be with the outside world to touch, taste, see, hear, smell, and really feel everything was granted by going to school on just about the last day known as “Field Day.”  It was the day that ALL (and I do mean ALL) the children were there in color-coded teams playing different sports.  I had never felt like I belonged among my classmates, but for that one day, I felt like I belonged.  Sure, I was in a wheelchair and did not say much, but just being with everyone in this living, breathing, and wonderful world had never made me happier and more carefree.    It was one of the best times in my life just to live and be a kid. 
Shortly after my visit and contact with all the children, I got sick.  Horribly sick.  Sick as in news that my second kidney transplant was going into rejection.  It was probably one of the worst and more depressing points in my life.  The fear to lose a gift from a complete stranger who died only to save my life.  The horror that my one wish granted would be my downfall to me being sick again and that the girl who saved my life would have to suffer another ‘death’ in the sense of her life-saving organ.  Yet, in spite of all the fear and horror, I had no regrets.  I had the best time in my life just being in this breathing world after being bubbled for what I saw as much too long.  I had been around other kids who had shown me kindness and like I did not have ‘cooties.’  They did not fear me or shelter and shield me like the adults just so I could be myself and be a kid.  I did not and could never let fear control and stop me from living my life to the fullest.  I could not live or be in isolation. 


And, I got better.  And, my second kidney transplant thrived and survived at going 25 years this year and counting.  This is the thing:  When it is bad and at the very bottom, we think it can never get better.  We think we can never get through what we see as the worst and darkest of places.  And, yes, it often has to get very bad and at the bottom before it can even try to get better.  Fear, Anxiety, Panic, and the Power of our minds rear their ugly heads to take over and twist us in ways that we never thought we were capable of behaving, acting, and treating ourselves and others.  I was brought back in the present to this woman who had triumphantly succeeded and grabbing the last Lysol Disinfectant.  She then glanced down at me maybe, just maybe, realizing that she had taken the last Lysol disinfect.   She then asked me: “Did you want the Lavender Lysol disinfectant sprays?  I can help you reach them!” 
I wrinkled my nose knowing that permeating my apartment with Lavender would not over well with my kitty cat Ricky and me.  With a substantial space between us, we started chatting and even chuckling about the C-virus.  We were connecting and coming together over a looming crisis. That’s another thing: Crisis can either unite or divide and show the utmost ugly or beauty in people.  I have ever hope in me in unite and the good in people.  I never got this Lysol lady’s name, but I knew that neither of us and none of us can ever really be in isolation.  After chatting with her, I was empty handed of any cleaning solutions, but then I knew what I had accidentally purposefully did: I let her have the very last Lysol can. 
We are not meant to live or be in isolation.  Do you find with everything going on that you are getting more fearful and panicked to the point of isolation?  What are your views and hopes about unite and good vs. divide and bad?  When were you at your very worst with the belief that it would never get better only to someday realize that it had gotten better?  Were you ever in isolation? 
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,
Mary ;-) 



The first time I got the flu shot over 10 years ago, I got horribly sick.  It was the worst sick I could remember being, excluding my hospital days due to kidney issues.  I was homebound for a week inhaling Vicks vapor rub, getting high on humidifiers, popping in menthol cough drops, and lazily and sleepily dragging myself in loose pajamas and my Hello Kitty robe. 
I had refused the flu shot for as long as I could, until my work made it mandatory to get it.  Their threat: “If you do not get your flu shot then you have to wear a mask the whole time that the flu season is active.”  Then, my transplant center made it mandatory that I get the flu shot.  Their logic: “You are immunosuppressed.  Get it to protect yourself and prevent that nasty flu coming at you.”
I begrudgingly and edgily got the flu shot.  To my surprise, after that very first boxing match with the flu shot that had me knocked out with the actual flu, I had not gotten the flu since.  I would feel a little funny after the initial stab in the muscle from the flu shot, but, overall, I started to appreciate the fact that my workplace offered the flu shot for free.  Prevention is a cure.  Protection is the way to go.  You can, indeed, stop the worst before it can even possibly get a chance to start.  You can, indeed, be proactive rather than reactive. 
Then, about three weeks ago, I got the flu.  Mind you, I had gotten the flu shot sometime in winter 2019.  I was so sick three weeks ago that I spiked a 102 fever and managed to and was actually mandated to go the closest emergency room.  I was so sick where the medical staff could not get my fevers under control that it was advised that I stay in the hospital overnight.  As much as I basked in the free flat screen TV that provided endless channels and the gourmet meals at the hospital (that isn’t sarcasm…the food was actually good, but I just about had no appetite and you know there is a problem with Mary Wu when she does not have an appetite), I felt horrible going from hot to cold, cold to hot, and then, the topper, my IV broke in the middle of the night.  This resorted to at least 7 pricks in my vein-less skin due to dehydration.  This resulted in a final IV stabbed right in my index finger.  And, yes, that really did hurt.  Ow. 
The cure for the flu?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Rest at home.  Plenty of fluids.  Sleep, Sleep, Sleep.  All I could do was wait to get better.  All I could do was wait and see.  All I could do was nothing.  The art of doing nothing. 
For me, I flunk astronomically at ‘doing nothing,’ which, we must realize, is an oxymoron.   But, is ‘doing nothing’ really an oxymoron?  That week that I was quarantined at home, I mentally and physically struggled with doing nothing.  The minutes went by.  The moments slipped through my fingers.  I felt like I was wasting my time.  I was getting cabin fever.  It frustrated me that I had tried to stop the flu by getting the flu shot and now I was battling with doing nothing to get better from the flu.  In my mind and I think just among all of us, our immediate response is to react.  Do something.  Answer the question.  Solution to the problem.  Prevention is the cure.  As long as we prevent and do something then we are being proactive to take care of ourselves.  But, is prevention really a cure? Is proactive really taking care of ourselves?    Could prevention and proactive possibly be a bit anxiety-inducing and control freakish? 
A couple day after I was diagnosed with the flu, I went to my transplant center.  I was pretty much hacking up a lung and felt so drained and tired that I could have fallen asleep sitting up trying to talk to my transplant doctor.  I asked my transplant doctor this: “What’s the point of the flu shot?  I got the flu shot to prevent the flu, but I ended up getting it.”
He sounded like a textbook when he explained: “Well, it is supposed to protect you 80%, but it can’t protect you at 100%.  Nothing can really protect you at 100%.”
This is when another realization hit me: Prevention is NOT a cure.  Prevention can be a catalyst for anxiety.  We can try and do all these ‘proactive’ things to maintain our health and our lives and to maybe even stop bad before it can start and be worst than ever, but if something is going to happen then it is going to happen.  It can be good.  It can be bad.  Most of all, it is life.  This is life.  There are never any guarantees in life.  There are also times that there are never concrete solutions, answers, and abilities to really ‘fix’ or stop anything that is meant to happen.  There is never 100%. 
In general, humans immediate response is to react and to try to ‘fix’ or provide a solution to a problem.  I must confess that I have spent the mass majority of my life believing that proactive is better than reactive, but now I wonder if proactive is a ‘control thing’ when there really is no control over things that happen in our lives.  Our only ‘control’ is how we react to it and, maybe just sometimes, the best reaction is nothing.   The ‘wait and see’ factor.  Is doing nothing actually doing something?  Is NOT reacting a solution or answer to a problem?  Is prevention a kind of ongoing solution or is it just anxiety-inducing?  Can we really ‘fix’ something by doing nothing?     
Keep smilin’,

Mary ;-) 


I fell in love with games and gambling at around 10-years-old. 
Card games: War, UNO, Poker, and Spit.  Board games: Monopoly and Outburst.  But, the game I loved the absolute most was Mahjong.   My grandfather and cousin taught me how to play the game.  We used to gamble with pennies and food.   The clickety black of the shiny ivory blocks as they smacked against each other and as we stacked them and then flipped each block out to play our hand was adrenaline-rushing and thrilling.  Bamboos.  Circles. Chinese numbers.  Take up a block.  Give up a block.   Someone could take or ignore your block.  Poker faces.  Match.  Strategize.  Think hard.  Maybe a little luck if you are lucky enough.  Until you got your way.  Until you win.  Win big. 
In my immediate family, I was the only one who like to gamble and play games.  Outside of my immediate family and among all my relatives, just about everyone loved and did play a good and rousing game of mahjong except for my aunt.  I thought this was odd, though, because my aunt was somehow always gambling or bargaining in life.  I still remember us snaking our way in the overly crowded and steamy streets of Hong Kong with my aunt and another aunt (in Chinese, or maybe it is in my family, we call just about everyone aunt) haggling with the store owners and store keepers to try to talk down prices of items that they really wanted to buy.  I’d watch my aunts completely mesmerized and confused with this one question blinking brightly in my mind over and over: “If they really want it, then why don’t they just buy it at the set price instead of fight it?”
As I got older and particularly on a trip to China, I turned red in the face with embarrassment when my aunt was snapping at this storeowner to talk down a price on this pink hat that I really wanted.  She turned her back. grabbed my arm to drag me away, and said in a clipped and no-nonsense voice: “Now, we walk away.”
I hissed, “But why are we walking away when I really want it?  Why is it always a fight and bargaining?  Why can’t you just accept it as the price it is?”
“Wanting it and meant to have it are two separate things.  You have to be willing to walk away and lose.   Wait and watch.  Listen and learn,” she whispered back.
Moments later, the store owner threw up his arms and spat off that he agreed to the price that my aunt agreed to.  I got my pretty pink hat that people shower me with praise that I look that like a happy strawberry shortcake when I wear it.  I could not believe that my aunt had talked down the price to that low.  I could not believe that she had gotten her way.  I could not believe how much I loved this pink swirled hat from China.  I was curious and utterly fascinated.   I was speechless.
I opened my mouth to ask my aunt how she did that.  Her painted red lips curled upwards in a smile.  Her eyes sparkled.  She nodded.  I paused.  Without her saying anything, I think I understood: “Wait and Watch.  Listen and Learn.”  I pondered about my family upbringing with mahjong as a staple game that we played out of family fun and my aunts who did not always accept what was told to them and they, instead, told others how it is to be.  In each of these ‘games,’ you had to learn to lose AND be completely fearless to lose.  You had to be unafraid to walk away and leave if the terms that you put out there were unaccepted for what you deemed as worthwhile.  You had to put yourself out there and make your terms known and clear without budging, but bend if needed.  Think carefully and strategize without over analyzing.  Trust in yourself and in the wise risks and stakes and take ownership for the winning and the losing.  Walk away when it was at the best peak and when timing was just right to be satisfied, but not and never greedy, with the winnings rather than the losings.   The name of the game: To win AND win big, you had to be willing to lose AND lose big.  Maybe the key to winning is the acceptance of losing that brings out our humility, humbleness, and abilities to keep on trying and going without losing our tenacity.
Losing holds just as importance than winning.    When have you lost?  Are you a risktaker?  Do you bargain and try to negotiate to get your way?  Is what you deemed as losing REALLY a loss?      
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,

Mary ;-) 

Breaking Bad

Years ago, I befriended a young lady who was fresh out of college.  She seemed timid, uncertain, and eager to please anyone and everyone.   In many ways, I felt like a big sister or mentor to her more than anything else.  Around this time I befriended her, I told her about my newest and latest project called “Live List.”

“Oh, bucket list?” she asked.

I paused.  “Hmm…I guess you could call and consider it a bucket list, but I do not like to think of myself doing these things because I am afraid of death.  I like to think I am doing these things to embrace life and to be and live in all these great and amazing moments in life.”

I then began to run through the list with her: “Go on a hot air balloon ride.  Go to an opera.  Go to a baseball game.  Travel the world.  Learn to ride a bicycle.  Fall in love.”

She paused and then said, “I think you suffer from FOMO.”
I was intrigued.  I never heard the acronym ‘FOMO.’ I was usually the acronym creator, but here there was this young person (at least ten years younger than me) giving me a lesson in acronyms.

“What’s FOMO?” I asked.

“Fear of Missing Out.” 

I thought about this acronym and then asked: “Is that a bad thing?”

She shrugged, “No, I guess it isn’t.  But, isn’t fear of anything a bad thing?”

I thought about this ‘FOMO’ acronym.  I thought about fear.  I was all too familiar with fear.  Probably my greatest fears being that I did not do what I wanted to do and I did not live my life the way I was meant to live it before I died.    Yes, I certainly do know it seems odd for someone of 37-years-old or even younger at that time of creating my ‘Live List’ to think of ‘before I died,’ but the truth is that the only way you come to appreciate the value and the gift of life is when you are on the brink of death yourself or when everyone around you ends up in the clutches of death.  I know that sounds dismal and depressing, but I like to think of knowing about the reality of death forcing us to live life as light to the darkness and life and death being in each other’s company kind of cool with each other. Over the years, I had went on to fulfill as many of my ‘Live List’ items as possible.   To fulfill these items, I had often run myself ragged until I burnt out.  Often, I would spend so much time planning and preparing for one of my ‘Live List’ items that I ended up stressed.  I also did not know my boundaries and limitations because of FOMO.  No matter how many people would like to say that we are limitless and can do anything and everything, I have to come to realize that this is NOT true as we get older.  We all have our boundaries and limitations, and that is just as important as knowing to push the boundaries and limitations without detriment to ourselves.  It is a fine line.  I do not know how to sit still.  I do not know how to relax.  I do not know how to do nothing.   

Then, it dawned on me that, yes, that young lady from so many years ago was right.  There is a downfall to FOMO.  There is a negative twist to FOMO.  You will plot, plan, and do everything intended for a single FOMO moment that you are living for or that you make out to take your breath away that you are missing on all the seemingly simple ordinary minutes and moments that can mean the most and bring the greatest treasures and pleasures.  Worst of all to FOMO is not being present.  I have now realized that there are many moments that I may have missed out on all because I was hung up and giving in to FOMO- Fear of Missing Out.  This realization is HUGE to me.  I have spent the vast majority of my life trying to “seize the day” and “live in the moment” only to see a different side that maybe I have not been doing this.  People have said to me time and time again that I need to slow down, take it easy, pause, and be present.  Heck, I have even said this to myself.  But, now it is REALLY time to ‘break bad.’  I need to.  I have to.  Or I will burn out and run out as a result.  This has then made me contemplate about our ‘bad’ habits and ways, imperfections, resolutions, and actively trying to change or tweak ourselves to be better.

January is almost over with.  We are well into the 2020 year.  I have asked many people about what their resolutions are.  Many have said to me that they do not make any because they cannot keep them.  I think the greater question and quandary is if people realize what their weaknesses and ‘bad’ are to try to overcome and ‘bread bad.’  We are creatures of habits.  We get so wrapped up in our days and ways that it may reach a point that we break and have to, in turn, break these bad habits.  I cannot say that I am making a resolution.  I can say that I am trying to be better and the only way for me to be better is awareness of my ‘bad’ to then try to ‘break bad.’ I can say that I am now very well aware of my imperfections and flaws that can be hurtful to me and to others that I have to try to change for the better. It does not have to be in big ways.  If anything, what I have learned in life is it is always the little ways and little things that lead to the most. 
We are creatures of habit and flawed humans with bad habits that need to be broken.  What bad patterns, vicious cycles, or bad habits do you have?  Were you aware of how debilitating they were so that you had to change?  What did you do or are doing to make a conscientious effort to change?  

Keep smilin’ until we meet again,

Mary ;-)
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