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You Don’t Have My Permission

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Okay – I’m just going to say it. I’m so tired of all of these overly dramatic, “YOU CAN DO IT!” calls to action from… Oh god – pretty much anyone who wants to give them, I guess. Oprah’s life gurus…blogging “celebrities”…the writer of today’s viral link… You name it – these people have THE ANSWERS.

It doesn’t really bother me that they have ideas for how to be a better person or live a better life. Truly, anyone can hand you unexpected wisdom. And because of this, I will always stop and listen when someone says, “this is important – please think about it.” Or even, “hey – you should do this.” Sure – I’ll think about it. And yes – I may actually do it. But not if you believe that it’s your job to give me permission. Psst! I know I can do it. If I want to – I will.

I’m a grown woman with three children and my own share of personal crap to deal with on a daily basis. It would be fair to say that I have been (somewhat) successfully navigating my life thus far. And I haven’t needed anyone’s permission to do so.

This may seem touchy, right? Nit picking even…not taking encouragement in the spirit with which it was given? But I’m being really specific about who’s getting on my nerves here. Not enthusiastic people with ideas and hope and a desire to help others. And definitely not people who are making a plea for kindness, understanding or acceptance. I’m talking about the self proclaimed experts who have decided that you NEED their ideas – their wisdom.

They’re not always so obvious about it. They claim to be struggling too – just as flawed as anyone else. But their life or work experience has given them wisdom and they have answers! The theme is always the same… They had a thought or experience, did some more thinking on it, had an epiphany, and are now sharing it with YOU. But no – not only that, they are INVITING YOU to join them on this journey of enlightenment. They are telling you that IT’S OKAY – you can do it too! And in all of this supportive We Are The Champions pontificating, they are giving you permission to make your life better.

The ideas they have may be solid gold. But I can’t see past the bedazzled cover of proselytizing. People set up big white tents in fields for this kind of thing.

These inspirational diatribes often include words like “real” and “honest” and “authentic.” You know who I find authentic? People who have a thought provoking story to tell or a really great idea, and then just tell you their story or explain their idea. I’m a pretty smart cookie. I can find the wisdom without any hand holding. I can think it through on my own and decide what I want to do with it. I don’t need a call to action. I don’t need permission.

I KNOW! Everyone is different. I personally, don’t seek out leaders. It’s not that I have any particular interest in being the leader, I just kind of resent being treated like a follower. On the other hand, someone else may appreciate the encouragement – the message that they are part of something bigger. We all like our wisdom served up in different ways…shaken, not stirred…straight up…with a flirty paper umbrella garnish… So in the midst of my grumpy huffing, I have to admit that I am really only speaking for myself.

Unless.

If those of you who find a leader’s call to action inspiring would be so kind as to lend ME your ear for minute… I have an idea.  Not looking to provide any guidance here…not even a story…just an idea. No bedazzling.

You don’t need a call to action. Or a leader.

Wisdom is everywhere. You don’t need a guru or a virtual life coach to find it. You just need wide open eyes and ears.

Listen to what other people have to say – their stories and ideas. Even the ones who desire to lead you (as annoying as they may be, their ideas are often pretty good). Watch the people you love strive and care and try. Observe the world around you at your own pace. Take time to form your own ideas and opinions.

Then, when you’re ready – do something. Or not. Whatever feels right.

That’s it. That’s my idea. That’s what I’m going to do.

And you can too.

But you don’t have my permission. Because you don’t need it.

Me, but Better

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*This post is brought to you by Kiran who pointed out that my husband is on a 10 day business trip so I should be blogging every night, right?

So it looks like I may not be having my nose job next week. Oh – I didn’t mention that I’m getting a nose job? I’m pretty sure I did on Facebook… Well, don’t feel bad for not knowing, because it’s not actually THAT big of a deal. This isn’t the kind of thing that will make people do a double take, thinking, “why does Kate look SO GORGEOUS today? Did she do something different with her hair? Did she drop some weight? WHAT is her secret!?

Nope. None of that will happen. I’m just having my deviated septum repaired, and once the swelling and bruising subside, I should look exactly the same. More symmetrical perhaps…but nothing anyone will notice. Unless of course, my nose ends up looking EVEN BIGGER once it’s not smushed to the side anymore… And wouldn’t THAT be my luck?

I was just getting used to the idea of spending weeks looking like someone bashed my face into a brick wall (even fearing that it would be more like months…), and NOW I’ve come to find out that it may not even happen due to a miscommunication.

This last minute glitch came up because not only do I have a deviated septum (don’t you love how I keep saying that, like I actually understand what it means?), the bridge of my nose is somewhat shifted to the left, dragging the whole shebang with it. So the only way to truly “fix” my nose is to break it. And THAT is automatically coded as “cosmetic.”

I can promise you that at age 41, with my three children, middle aged body and husband who actually likes the way I look, having a delicate Grace Kelly nose has long since fallen off my personal wish list. I don’t even want to look different anymore. It would change literally NOTHING in my life. So why bother?

The only reason that I’ve finally succumbed to the lure of facial symmetry is that I’m tired of sinus infections…and having to sleep propped up on four pillows…and the Breathe Right strips that don’t even work that well… And okay, fine – I do kind of wonder what else a straighter nose might mean for me. Maybe that slight nasal quality of my voice will disappear. Maybe I’ll be a better singer! Maybe I’ll finally be able to part my hair in the middle without looking like bad cubist painting. Maybe I really will look better.

So I guess a little curious vanity (or vain curiosity) figures into this surgery. The surgery that might not happen.

What is particularly infuriating is that it has taken me over 10 years to muster up enough courage to just do it already. When I was 30 and having the worst sinus infection of my life, an ENT told me that surgery could help. But I was TERRIFIED. I never had surgery before. Once I got the meds I needed, I never called back to follow up on his suggestion.

It didn’t help that as he walked into the examination room where I was waiting, the first thing that came out of his mouth was, “so when did you break your nose?” The answer was “never” and I was ready to explode from indignation. I was convinced that he was just another A-hole who thought all women wanted to look like Barbie. It was to dismiss him with that assumption than my ridiculous fear of going under the knife.

Since then, I gave birth to a 9 lb. baby, had a c-section for my twins, and cruised through a hernia repair surgery. I have suffered pain, fear and numerous indignities that made this deviated septum thing look like a joke. The c-section alone put everything into perspective. I mean, I had major abdominal surgery while awake forgodssake. I decided that I could probably handle a nose job.

So I found a surgeon in my insurance network and set up an appointment. The waiting room of the practice was my first indication that this was not going to be treated as a strictly medical procedure. The sleek furniture, flat screen TV display of very attractive people becoming even MORE attractive, and subtly placed photo books of before and after noses, lips and cheekbones made it quite clear that I would be getting the full plastic surgery appointment experience.

I was in my usual get up of a semi-clean tank top and jeans and only hoped that my frizzy summer hair and sweaty, make-up free face didn’t ruin the effect of the lovely reception area. I left that to the six year old twins I had in tow. I undoubtedly looked like a worn down suburban housewife in need of a chrysalis. So I guess I fit right in.

I explained to the doctor that my goal was better breathing, and he winked and said, “suuuurrre it is.” KIDDING! But he did say that he would take pictures to give me ideas for some small changes I could make. Just something to consider.

The plan was to send me computer generated before and after images, and then have another appointment to discuss the plan for moving forward.

KathrynH0

KathrynH1

Is it me – or do these look almost exactly the same!? Well – on my phone they did… It’s a little easier to see changes on a bigger screen. But STILL – not a huge change, right?

My doctor’s e-mail stated, “Here are the computer images I created to show you my cosmetic goals for your nose.” So it was pretty clear that we were having that conversation no matter what my better breathing goals were.

And really – I didn’t mind. I had long since gotten over taking offense when people who fix noses for a living think that I could use a little help with mine. It’s kind of their job right?

In our follow up appointment he gave me the “you but better” pitch. This was only marginally demoralizing since he felt I just needed a little bit of work to slim the tip of my nose (the word “bulbous” came up several times) and trim off the slight bump that is visible in my profile. It wasn’t all that different from the times my hair stylist has tried to talk me into layers.

I listened – and even found the presentation rather compelling – but in the end, I confessed that unless insurance wanted to pay for “me but better,” I was most likely going to have to settle for “me.”

I explained that I really just needed to get this breathing issue fixed. He seemed pretty understanding, but encouraged me to discuss their payment plan options with his coordinator who would be submitting everything to insurance.

Honestly? I was just being polite. There is NO WAY were can spend $6,000 to make my nose look slightly better – payment plan or not. When I relayed the story to Chris he agreed – said it was a complete waste money and if we were spending $6,000 on any part of my body it was going to be bigger boobs. Yay men!

I called the coordinator the next day to confirm that “me but better” wasn’t happening – just the medical repairs, please. Then I said I’d call in November to set up an early 2014 surgery date, as I’m just vain enough to not want a swollen face for the holidays.

All was going according to plan until my pre-op appointment last week. Apparently, my doctor was under the impression that we were doing the full me-but-better surgery since that was “what we last discussed” and the coordinator didn’t inform him of the update. This shouldn’t have been a big deal (just a frowny face on his part since he couldn’t make me prettier) – but it actually means that my insurance company didn’t get all of the information that THEY need.

The coordinator didn’t realize that my nose is so completely fucked up that the little septum repair codes she submitted to wouldn’t cover the procedure required to move my bridge back into alignment. So she now had only two weeks to submit ANOTHER code that is generally used for cosmetic work and almost always gets a big NOPE, and requires that they make a case for the medical side of things, blah blah blah.

Are you still with me? If not, I don’t blame you… Even I find the whole thing incredibly tedious. If I had $6,000 on hand I would probably say, “here – do what you have to do, I just really need to get to that vacuuming today…”

Please don’t think I’m upset about this or anything… I know everyone meant well. The doctor just wants me to be the best me possible. And the coordinator just isn’t a doctor. And I just really want some ice cream – but that is largely unrelated to this story. The real problem is that the doctor and I had different “goals” and assumed that “ours” would be the final decision.

I listened to him talk thinking, “okay – I’ll nod and look interested to be polite, but I think I made it clear that I’m not paying out of pocket for anything.” And he listened to himself talk thinking, “I know you don’t want to spend the money, but after looking at these fancy pictures you’ll HAVE to change your mind ‘cause obvs – you’re hideous.”

Whatever – we’re all on the same page now. We agreed to see what happens with insurance. Then we each went our separate ways to have a good ol’ eye roll at the others’ expense.

Do I want this surgery to work out? To be honest, it’s kind of a HUGE pain in the ass and I wouldn’t mind not having to deal with it… I HAVE been living with this for over 10 years… On the other hand, I was starting to like the idea of a better me. Breathing better would be nice and having a straighter nose would most likely mean looking better too… I guess I’m not such a grownup now that I don’t fall into that shallow trap of thinking a change in my appearance might make me happier.

I don’t have an end for this story. It’s very much “to be continued.” But at some point this year, I will have a straighter nose (bulbous tip notwithstanding). I will be able to breathe better. And I will definitely be mindful of the fact that any trips to the plastic surgeon should include the disclaimer that our family will not be paying out of pocket for cosmetic procedures…though, bigger boobs aren’t completely off the table.

2/17/14 UPDATE:

I did not end up having surgery last week. Funny enough, it had nothing to do with insurance which we were able to sort out. But then it started snowing. And it didn’t stop.

Surgery got cancelled and is now rescheduled for the 24th. As for what the surgery will be… Insurance won’t cover the nose breaking. Even if it’s for medical purposes. Apparently, it is specifically written into our policy that there will be no breaking of noses on their dime – better breathing goals or not! They probably used more professional terminology, but this came to me second hand from the coordinator.

Yes – it’s somewhat disappointing since my breathing won’t be 100% better (and when I have surgery, I’m generally in it to win it) – BUT my surgeon feels confident that I will notice a significant improvement with just the septoplasty (there! a medical term!) And the recovery time will be better. So that’s a perk.

The only risk to not doing the full face bashing is that a septoplasty-only MAY create a small bump on the top of my nose (or a bigger one than I already have).

In summary: surgery will happen but my nose will not be broken, and this may or may not make me look a little different – possibly with a slightly larger bump on my nose. So while I definitely won’t look like Me but Better, there is a fair chance I will look like Me but Bumpier. Wish me luck!

They Coulda’ Been Great – January 2014

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It’s no secret that my seven year old son, George has never been a big guy. His twin sister has outweighed him for years and people are starting to assume that he’s my “youngest.” In comparison to his GIANT brother (who is actually only 18 months older) this is understandable…but his TWIN SISTER? Regardless, he…

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