Life After Brain Surgery

A week ago my family was all meeting up at a parking garage outside of University of Maryland Medical Center Baltimore, gathering our belongings necessary for the long day ahead, and rushing inside to get to where I needed to be by my 5:30 appt time. Sadly, the hospital sent us on a long run around until we finally landed right where we needed to be, but we got there. Tension was high among the group, of course. The nervousness in the air; palpable.

I was asked if I was ready, more times than a few. How do you answer that? How are you ever ready to risk leaving your family behind? How are you ever ready to risk not coming back to them the same as you left them? So I lied. I was ready, yes. I lied and said I was fine. I lied and said I was going to be okay. I was petrified.

Questions began, IV was started, prepping was moving at the speed of light, but I was still stuck. Lingering, waiting for my entire family to hug me all at once. What would be my last thing to say to each one of them? How do you decide that? You cannot scare the kids, Kristen. You cannot upset your sisters, Kris. And my God, don’t let my parents feel my fear.

Last night I was asked what I felt in those moments. What was it that I told myself to help me get through it and make the final decision to go through with it.

The answer is my life. I wanted my life back. The vibrant, exuberant, fly by the seat of her pants girl was gone. She was replaced long ago by a zombie of a woman that was barely surviving this world. She could no longer head out on grand adventures, planned or otherwise. She spent her days hardly able to make it up and down the stairs let alone to a school event with homemade brownies.

She couldn’t make it to concerts with her sisters anymore. She had to cancel plans with friends more times than a few. She couldn’t get outside and run around with her two sons anymore. Life as she knew it ceased to exist.

But this morning. 7 days after the scariest decision of her life, that girl woke up at 5 am without an alarm clock, went downstairs without a single creaking or aching bone (stairs are a different story), and made herself a cup of coffee. Do you realize how long it has been since that has happened? I won’t count the nights where sleep never happened and I got up at 5 to start a day after a night of no rest. I’m talking actually slept for hours, woke up, went down, and made my own damn coffee??

Let’s ask my little baristas when they wake. I bet ya it’s been a while.

Good morning, world. It’s good to be back.

Monday Morning Ready!

Good morning all. I know it’s been a while since I posted anything or read any blogs. My health has been my primary focus lately. Brain surgery in 23 days!! But, while I’ve been basically bedridden, I have been doing a lot of thinking.

I have a million ideas for projects, community involvement, books I want to write, and opinion pieces I want to write. However, my brain is total mush!

Any suggestions for organizing my thoughts and getting these projects underway? 🤔

Getting Back to Me

I’m not sure where I went

I got lost along the way.

I thought I found myself in you

But it turns out that you were lost too.

I realized that your appeal

was an illusion in my brain.

I never noticed all your faults

I never saw that you were him.

All the things I wanted

that I was missing in my past.

Were all the things you offered

but like most things, it didn’t last.

I’m moving on now.

Now that I see your flaws.

I am letting go of all the hurt.

Moving on from all the wrong.

I’ve admitted my mistakes

and I think that you have too.

So, goodbye, for now.

I wish the best for you.

~Kristen A. Ruchalski

January 17th, 2017

Slut Shaming

So I just went through a break up. And let me tell ya, it wasn’t pretty. Just like many of us women (and some men) deal with regularly, he called me several vulgar names. They were slightly painful coming from someone who claimed to love me, but I have a pretty thick skin after years of being slut shamed. But it made me think. Why is it when a man is hurt or angry with a woman he resorts to insulting her genitals or sexual escapades? 

Y’all do realize your grandmas had sex right? I mean science, and common sense, let us know many generations ago that sex was pretty necessary for the survival of the species. I mean, we have to have sex. 

Sure, we could only have sex for procreation. But don’t these men want sex often? I mean that’s why the adult film industry does so well, is it not? I’ve heard that men will cheat if their women won’t give it up. So we, as a species, have sex. And if Billy Bob wants to go get laid, well that’s his prerogative. But unless he’s banging Jimbo, he’s going to need a vagina to complete his sex act. Am I right? 

So if Kelly wants to have consensual sex with Billy Bob, it’s all great. Except he will most likely call her a slut later on. Especially if she has sex with Jimbo even a year later. And now in that time, Billy Bob has had sex with many women. But he’s just a guy. And that’s OK, right? But Kelly, well she’s just a horrible specimen of a human being because she chose to share a sexual experience with more than one person. 

Let’s say Kelly didn’t have sex with Billy Bob and he’s all butt hurt over it. You know he will probably go and tell his buddies she’s a whore anyway. And they will believe him. Because we all know that a man’s word is always trusted more than a woman’s. 

At 13, I was slut shamed. I was called a lesbian whore. Well I was a virgin. Complete virgin. No men, no women. No partners period. But all because one person opened their mouth and spewed lies, I was called names. I don’t recall now who or why, I just know it happened and it led to years of self esteem issues. And 21 years later, the man I thought I was going to marry called me names all because I let him know how I felt about issues in our relationship. 

So what starts in childhood from the mean boys continues into adulthood from weak men. Face the facts that all people are entitled to the consensual sex of their choosing. Sex acts don’t determine a person’s worth. But your choice of words can make a woman’s self worth plummet.