The "Wu Word" Blog
When I was roughly
7-years-old, I had my first boy friend. Not
‘boyfriend,’ but ‘boy friend.’ His name
Marc and I met at
church. He had fuzzy brown hair that
stuck up everywhere and blue eyes that I wanted so badly compared to my boring
brown eyes. I forgot how we met, but we
became fast friends. We used to rush and
race to the swings to pump our legs to see how high we could fly and throw our
hands up in the air when we slipped down the slide. The adults nicknamed us “M & M” for
obvious “Marc & Mary.” The adults
and children giggled and whispered that we were boyfriend and girlfriend. I didn’t even think twice that Marc was a boy
and I was a girl. We just clicked and
had fun. We were ‘just friends.’
Marc eventually moved
away and I was bereft of my buddy who I had loads of fun with on the playground
at the church. I missed him. I did not see and never saw Marc any
different from all my other friends who all happened to be girls. However, when I was finishing up elementary
school and then went into middle school and definitely high school, it was
suddenly viewed that boys and girls were not ‘just friends.’ Cooties turned to Crushes. Hormones ran high. My ease and fun talking with Marc when I was
a little girl suddenly vanished, and I was a tongue-tied and blank-minded teenager
around boys. During that time, I asked
for the first time: “Can guys and girls be friends?”
Forgive me for not
recalling someone who once said to me: “Guys and girls cannot be friends if
they are both single, unless one or both of them is attracted to their same gender. There will always be that sexual attraction
I found this rather
dismal and unbelievable, for this completely contradicted my friendship with
Marc. This person explained, “You and
Marc were just kids. It all changes once
you go through puberty. Guys and girls can
ONLY be friends if one of them is already in a committed relationship with
someone else whether it is with another guy or girl.”
Then another question
slipped from my mind outside of my mouth: “Can guys and girls be friends again
if they were once in a relationship?”
Two responses I’ve
received were “It Depends” to a blunt and rather abrasive “No way because it is
all or nothing.”
Needless to say, I
was very dismayed and down with this interpretation because of my friendship
with Marc. It was never about him being
a boy and me being a girl; that thought only came in when I was older. It was about us being friends. It doesn’t
help that we (particularly women) are fed fairytales of new beginnings and
happy endings of man and woman as friends only to end up together by the end of
the movie. At what point do we see the
blatant ‘differences’ of others that can question and contradict the similarities
that forged the friendship in the first place?
What if we could just be friends with a person just for the person and
not from all the blatant differences of gender or religion, ethnicity, and
more? What characteristics attract you
towards a certain person to form a friendship? Did you have just a ‘guy’ or ‘girl’
as a friend?
Indeed, can guys and
girls be friends? Can they be friends if
they were once in a relationship or dating?
How come we interpret the ‘all’ or ‘nothing’ that if a single guy and single
girl are hanging out together alone AND not in a relationship with a
significant other that they must be in a relationship?
Of course, I still wonder
where good old Marc went—would we be ‘just friends’? ;-)
Keep smilin’ until we
More are dead
On the news
15 minutes claim to
Remember all their
We really are the
In feeling all this
Who’s right? Who’s wrong?
Who lives? Who dies?
All these lives
At what cost?
Safety now so shaky
Daily body count
What’s the amount?
Anger is one letter
short of danger
We really are not such
So, why are we so
When all we truly need
is to be united
“So, where do you see
yourself in 5 years?”
The chair squeaked
slightly when he shifted his body leaning in towards me. He gripped on to the ruled legal pad with a
pen poised above ready to write. His
gaze was expectant and eager to hear my ambitious goals to climb up the long
and high ladder of success for more money, more prestige, and more respect and
less time, less energy, and less enjoyment.
I wanted to tell him
that I was only about the day-by-day; All I wanted to be and saw myself in 5
years was alive, healthy, and happy in the company of the simple and good times
of food, family, and real friendships that are few and far in between. I craved to confess that I was just happy to
be alive and working when so many others did not have this privilege. To add to this confession, I did not have any
career goals, ‘ambition’ was not even in my language, and 5 years from now was
not even in my mindset because all I had and all that we have are here and
now. I wished to share the Chinese
saying to him that went something like this, but sounded more poetic in the
Mandarin language: “The Chinese say that the higher you go up, the lonelier you
will feel. The view from the top will be
beautiful, but it will lonesome and will not matter if you have no one to share
the view with.”
“I just see myself
working and learning new things,” I finally said.
unimpressed. I had disappointed
him. But, I would not apologize. There was nothing to apologize for because my
greatest goal and priority was to be healthy and live each and every single day
the way I wanted to live it and not according to anything or anyone else. I was not the ambitious and cutthroat worker
that he had hoped for me to be. However,
would you be so surprised to hear that I was once the façade of this person?
Over 10 years ago
when I started working, I was thin-skinned and the #1 combined work lesson I
was given was: “Do not take anything or anyone personally AND develop a thick
skin.” Now, the #1 work lesson I am
given is: “You learn as you go.” When I
began working out of college, I gave the interviewers and employers the answers
they wanted to hear about my wishes and desires to maybe be in management, go
for a higher degree so I’ll supposedly be smarter and get an even better job,
and make myself in the polished product rather than an actual person that would
produce great results and succeed at anything and everything. Somewhere along the lines of life in the last
5 years and then more, the angles and twists and turns happened to learn that
time is non-refundable especially with the people we love and care about,
working until the wee hours into the night will not matter on our deathbeds,
there aren’t always clear answers to questions and you learn the answers and
life as you keep going, and all the money in the world can make life easier,
but not bring you all the health, happiness, and genuine relationships to
connect with others.
Please don’t get me
wrong. I’m always for bettering and
there is always room for improvement, but at what point can we just happy and
content with what we already have rather than always searching, fighting, and
climbing our way to what we think will be better and even the best? Are you ambitious? Do you plot out and even plan in your career
ways to years from now? How have you
changed from 5 years ago to 5 years ahead?
How have you answered this question of ‘where do you see yourself 5
years from now’? Have you met your
expectations to your answered question?
I can no longer
measure my life by years, minutes, and the stretch of time that continues to
march and beat to its own rhythm and rhyme that none of us have control over. I
try to measure life by the moments and in the here and the now, because life is
How do you measure
Keep smilin’ until we
He looked the
same. Just a little older and
thinner. He was having a bad day. I could tell from his drawn expression,
confessions from bad news that resulted in long conversations with tearful
patients, and apologies to the 2 hour wait to see him.
His buttoned white
coat was almost all the way to the very top to his curved collarbone,, but not
just quite to reveal his signature bow tie.
I wonder what happened to him in the last two years since he cut me open
and fought his way through the adhesions and scar tissue from the previous surgeries. How had his life been? How many more women only had he sliced open
below the equator? When would I be on
the operating table yet again for my body to be at the mercy of his
I was prepared for
the worse. My prediction: surgery. It always ended up in surgery for me. I already imagined the procedure would be in
September as it was in 2 years ago so I could recover in the comfort of Mother
Nature’s crisp autumn air and picturesque golden and crimson-colored
leaves. I was ready. This was it.
To my shock, a smile
stretched on his face when he announced, “No surgery.”
I blinked a couple times. Surely, I heard him wrong. “What?!”
He started drawing
diagrams and explaining about the complex world of cysts: ovarian cysts,
multiple cysts, and post-surgical cysts: “Mary, a MRI is the clearest scan
there is with the contrast. According to
this MRI report, you only have one simple 3cm cyst growing in the ovary and
everything around that we were not sure about is post-surgical cysts, lesions,
I sputtered, “How can
it be that one scan says two ovarian cysts equivalent to a 10cm tennis ball one
week and the other scan says one 3cm a week later? Oh, and why can’t anyone find my left ovary
since my hysterectomy?”
He did not have a
concrete answer for me and kept trying to explain through diagrams that ovaries
are always changing with the eggs, cycles of ovulation, and more. My head was spinning. The body was amazing, confusing, complicated,
and, most of all, a real miracle that it kept on going from all these various
systems. This has to be a sheer miracle.
He came to the
conclusion that it was useless for my body to undergo ultrasounds that always
caused and spiked anxiety and confusion from now on and it was best for me to
undergo enclosed MRIs filled with banging outer space noises intermingled with
headphones blasting classical music in my ears was what I had to do now every 3
months for active monitoring. If the
cyst got bigger, well….we would go from there.
speechless. I was stunned. I couldn’t believe it. I had spent days agonizing and anticipating
the worst case surgical scenario. I had
researched and worried to my closest friends who gathered information
tirelessly. I was tested twice for
Ovarian Cancer after suspected Uterine Cancer that had resulted in my
hysterectomy two years ago. For as much
bad news and worst case scenarios that I had actually received and endured in
my life, I had also received just as much moments of immense greatest news that
always left me humbled, awed, and more thankful than could ever be expressed
into words or fully described. I always say
that it is not that ONE single moment that changes you and your life, but it is
many little moments that lie in the anticipation and the aftermath. This was no different. Receiving the best news that completely contradicted
with the worst of what I predicted in this situation and others brought on such
joy, elation, euphoria, relief, and, most of all, perspectives of magnitude of
gratitude that is even greater after the predicted worst case scenario does not
I think we think of
the worst so if it happens then we won’t be shocked or surprised and we will
feel like we are better able to and equipped to handle it. I think we do not think of the best out of fear
of disappointment and let downs. If we
can handle the worst then this already feels like beyond the best. Yet, how funny that when the worst case does
not happen that this is the best that could ever happen!
Have you ever heard
anyone ask: “What is the best that could happen?” I’ve only heard: “What is the worst that can
happen?” What if we were to think of
what would be the best instead of the worst?
Do you tend to imagine the worst case scenario to prepare yourself for
it, and have they come true? Why do we
immediately think of the worst in the vast majority of cases and even with
people? Is it a coping mechanism for if
the worst were to happen? Is it to try
to ward of disappointment and expectations?
When have you thought of the worst only to be surprised by the
Keep smilin’ until we
Click. Dial tone.
“Did he just hang up
on me? Oh, no, he didn’t!” I sputtered.
Anger surged through
me. No one had ever hung up on me
before. Especially a doctor. In the middle of me trying to express my
confusion and question about the process of his clinic with long-term kidney
transplant recipients as myself, he had hung up.
His poor administrative assistant was the brunt of my fury as I
clamored, “I do not care if you are the President of the United States of
America! You do not hang up on
people! That is the rudest thing you can
do to anyone!”
Desperate and upset,
I called my regular nephrologist who was like Santa Claus in a white coat
rather than red suit. I was his patient
for at least five years after departing from my pediatric nephrologist for over
20 years and another nephrologist for 2 years that had forgotten what
transplant I received—yikes, to say the least!
Santa Claus nephrologist and I had always been in complete collaborative mode to maintain my second kidney transplant.
I pictured him nodding in agreement and even enthusiasm and open arms
for me to return to being his patient again.
Imagine my shock and dismay when I received his voicemail, “Mary, it
wouldn’t be good for your health and kidneys to return back to me because you
need to be followed with a transplant center in the long term. Give this doctor another chance.”
Why was it that I was
always fighting with doctors and nurses?
Why were doctors and nurses always rejecting me as their patient? Was it me?
One of my friends who had known me for years and probably knew me better
than myself once said to me: “Mary, a ‘normal’ patient listens and does
whatever the doctor says. You aren’t a
‘normal’ patient with asking all these questions that doctors and nurses see as
problematic or challenging.”
My stubborn response,
“Well, that’s their problem. Not mine. Over 30 years with kidney bean battles. My body.
My life. My pre-owned beans. I fight for them.”
began to take shape as I listened to my previous nephrologist’s voicemail
repeatedly. In his calming and almost
fatherly voice, I heard something he was trying to say without really saying
it. “Give him another chance.”
How many times had I
not given a doctor or really anyone for that matter another chance because the
one thing he/she said or did pissed me off resulting me to run away rather than
confront and be honest with what really bothered me? How come it takes so much time to build up a
relationship with anyone and then it will be just one thing that will be the downfall
of it? How many times had I tried to escape
when I could not from what I had to face or deal with in life? Too many times. I lost count.
The doctor had hung up on me, but was I any better than him by leaving
instead of facing him and telling him what he did had really bothered me?
There are many circumstances
in life that we have no choice but to face off with and deal with when running
away, leaving, escaping, and hiding are not options or even in the life equation.
There is no time or energy for
questioning, analyzing, wondering, and waiting when given the only choices but
to survive and thrive. People will stare
at you in awe and exclaim: “How do you do it?”
Your response: “You just do it.” These are actually the easy
circumstances in life. Your natural
instincts kick in and you kick whatever ass you need to and do what you have
Then, there are circumstances
in life when you are given too many choices that often result in questioning of
and especially the timing of when to confront or leave and let go. As a child, I tried to run away and escape
from my problems—literally and figuratively.
I ran away from home twice as a little girl with my sister’s small red
suitcase that I stole when my parents’ fights got too loud and abrasive for my
overly sensitive ears and mind to handle.
I was a guilty party of hanging up on people, slamming doors in faces,
and walking away when an escalating argument was ensuing and brewing. I had switched and changed doctors and nurses
as an unhappy patient without ever telling the doctor/nurse what had upset
me. I would drop people without full and
clear explanations of why I was doing this.
All this time, I
thought I was fearless in facing and dealing with what I had to—and I was and
am, but that is because I had no choice with those circumstances. However, when given the choices and in
difficult encounters with people, I had run away without words of reasoning and
explaining all out of fear of confrontation with the other and, most of all, honesty
and confrontation with myself.
As I’ve gotten older,
all of this is slowly changing. This one
‘hang up’ from a doctor made me to realize how much I had ‘hung up’ on others
without words and reasoning to them with what had upset me. The most intriguing part about ‘hang ups’ is
that it is a way to try to disconnect and escape but you end up dwelling and
getting even more ‘hung up.’
I was definitely ‘hung
up’ on all of this with the transplant nephrologist hanging up on me. Upon this
realization of the time I hung up on others, I wrote a lengthy email to this transplant nephrologist and his
nurse practitioner outlining my questions and confusion and in regards
to my impression of him hanging up on me.
Within minutes, this transplant nephrologist called me back immediately
to explain and answer my questions and alleviate my confusion. There was no apology that came from his lips,
but I knew that I was on back on track with him just from my honesty and, especially,
giving people and even or particularly doctors chances because we are all human
When have you ‘hung
up’ on others without letting them know?
What encounters have had you ‘hung up’ on? Are you confrontational and unafraid to tell
others what you really think and feel?
Keep smilin’ until we