MY VENEZUELAN FRIEND Andrea, who I never get to see, came to my 29th birthday party, which was almost 3 months after my transplant. My Spanish is ok, I understand a lot, but I can't speak for shit and there is a lot I don't know. During the party she asked me, 'Do you know what guerrera means?', I said no. She said 'Well that's what you are, you're a guerrera. It means warrior.' The weight of the word is so much better in Spanish, alas. So I've added 'princess' on to the English version for effect.
Anyway, yeah, I'm tough as motherfuckin nails now. Even if I was a total pussy before, I'm really quite strong and I think I surprised everyone with my strength, most of all me. We have deep reserves we can call upon in these situations and we never knew we had them until we're faced with a life or death situation. But I noticed after transplant, that I suddenly had this extremely thin skin. It would break so easily, I was getting cuts left and right. And I found it such an interesting dichotomy of opposing forces. I just walked through literal hellfire to stay alive (I promise, I wouldn't say that if it wasn't true), yet now I've got this feeble, thin skin that keeps getting scratches and scrapes and I don't even know where they came from. I still have this REALLY thin skin. It's wild. The nutritionist said it might be because you get dehydrated and it takes a while to build that back up. My acupuncturist says it's because I have lost a lot of Ying. It's probably a lot of different things.
But the other thing is, even though I feel like I conquered something unconquerable and I did it with courage and aplomb and positivity: there are a lot of times now where I feel so vulnerable, so weak, so back at square one, like a baby giraffe trying to stand.
I'm so emotional, and my emotions now exist at such an extreme level at the surface of my throat, that I cry more or less everyday. It's not huge SOBS of woe is me, why is life so hard. But I'll cry at the drop of a hat, indulge in it for a few minutes and move on. It's normal, it's part of the process. It's not a sign of weakness to cry. It's in fact a sign that you're a goddamn guerrera that you're able and willing to access that emotion so readily. So society at large might say I'm a cry-baby, that I'm thin-skinned for showing emotion. That's why women get short shrift in this department. I say that's sexist and out of touch. So I'm calling bullshit on that with the title of this blog and making it known that crying helps and feeling feelings helps and you're GOING to do it, and EVEN if you do, it's ok. In fact, it's better if you do.
I had to have a second surgery after my transplant to clear a hematoma that had formed and was making me even more sick than before, and brought me to a crossroads of life and death again for the second time in 2 weeks. I have a Shaman, his name is Itzhak. He is a wonderful man. I helped him write a book. He came quite a few times to hospital, he's a friend. He came the morning of my second surgery to do a healing. He gave me the mantra, 'Strong like mountain' and told me to focus on Imbabura, which is a holy mountain in Ecuador, to spur me through. It became my mantra for the rest of my recovery and still is today (below is me doing an impression of a mountain whilst on heavy painkillers).
But thin skin is a much better name for a blog. And did you catch all those double meanings? I mean am I layered or am I layered people?