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Friday, May 24, 2019

Because what's the point of worrying (said my medication)

If ever I've recognized that my antidepressant medication is working it is the last four months.

Dad had his open heart surgery in February and while I was concerned, I felt like things would work out ok.
I felt this way even when Mom called me back to the hospital because they took Dad back into surgery to ensure he wasn't bleeding.
They were being precautious, not necessarily indicating that something was definitely wrong.
It was better to do this before his breathing tube had been removed.

If ever I've realized my meds work is when Mom told me a few weeks ago that her biopsy came back showing breast cancer.
Unlike the first time, 22 years ago, I didn't go into shock.
I didn't put a hold on my life and plans (which is what I did when D and I were engaged).
At that time, I stopped wedding planning.
I stopped talking about the wedding.
I had to compartmentalize my life because there was no going forward until I knew what was up with Mom.

My ability to just keep swimming probably has a lot to do with being a parent now, too.
(Although I think the medication is the bigger part of it.)
Life just doesn't stop for me because I have three other people whose lives don't just stop.
Since I am the coordinator of and driver for those three lives, I don't get to hole up and die.

Our family has one more major surgery coming in June--my nephew has pectus excavatum and will undergo surgery, a hospital stay, and a pretty significant recovery period.

I am hoping that this completes the cycle of "Stressful/Bad Things Come in Threes."

During all this stuff with my parents, I have been pretty open on social media as a way to keep our family and their friends informed.

These postings present me with a mixed bag of feelings primarily because, thus far, I've had good news to report.
While I know people want to know, and it is easier for me to communicate via social media, I feel a bit of "survivor's guilt."
Dad came through surgery well and has done a bang-up job in recovery.
Mom's node is benign so we expect her treatment beyond surgery should be minimal. (Possibly even just medication.)

Posting something socially as a way to keep folks informed makes me think about the people I know who have had to report unpleasant, scary, and downright sad things about their family members.
I know my thoughts of them are cold comfort.
I don't feel pity, but I wish they hadn't gone through pain.
Of course, we all go through pain.
It is the timing and the specifics of that pain that differs from person to person.

I don't and won't say things like "Praise God" or anything of the sort in relation to my mom's or dad's surgeries.
Or my nephew's.
I have asked people at church to keep them on the prayer list (because I do believe, if nothing else, prayer allows for a sense of community and a show of support).
I'm also "out-there" enough to believe that the energy of combined prayer can have mystical effects.

However, social media easy communication makes me think overthink about what I write when I post.

For example, I have always, always felt horribly uncomfortable with the notion of praising God when news is good.
I don't do it.
I feel uncomfortable when I see other people do it.

Because if I heap the praise on God when all goes well, what do I do when news is bad?
Praise God that this whole mess sucks ass?
Because if we're honest, I'm not loving having both parents deal with such MAJOR stuff within 3 months.

How do I praise God that my dad survived open heart surgery when someone else's dad doesn't?
That my mom's cancer hasn't metastasized when someone else's mother's cancer has?

(I realize faith and logic are not the same things.)
(But I am a logical person, so faith does not come easily for me.)
(I'm not even sure where the idea of fairness is supposed to come into this dilemma.)

Which goes back to my medication, which has allowed my anxious mind to quiet, to find peace.
And that wasn't nebulous floating God from the heavens sending a nebulous floating cloud of don't worry down to me.
That was God in the form of other human beings helping me.
Because praying to nebulous floating God didn't work for me, even though I tried and tried to make it work that way.
For years.
If I believe that each person is uniquely different, then I believe that God reaches us in uniquely different ways, with uniquely different methods and timeframes.
Your way is not my way.
My way is not your way.
Each of our ways is right.for.us.

I just now found this quote from comedian Peter Holmes who used to be an evangelical, and I find this resonates with me. I don't think God is Santa Claus or a Fairy Godmother. He's not going to grant my wishes.

I see God is as awareness. And it's something that we're not equal to, but that we're participating with. And the best chance we have at experiencing it and feeling it is not just having an ecstatic experience. It's finding your dignified, inherent place in its flow, through using myth, metaphor, ritual, chanting, meditation.. We're trying to wake up not just to a new set of beliefs, but to our place in the river. And there's all this resistance. And that's all ego stuff. And there's all these, all these, like, you know, headaches and whatever. And when we're quiet, and when we quiet that stuff down, and we can feel and identify with our piece of "divine awareness" then that's when you'll kind of find your flow.



Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Getting in touch with my inner quitter

I do not consider myself a quitter.
Rather, if there is a problem, I seek help to get it fixed.

When D and I were arguing, I sought out a counselor.
When G was having issues, we sought out a therapist...and an occupational therapist...and a psychiatrist.
When I have a toothache, I see my dentist.
When the pipes go haywire, I seek a plumber.

Many, many problems can be fixed.

But there is no fix for a book you simply can.not.get.all.the.way.through.

Now I've met many books I've been meh about.
Some of them I've had to read for school, and some of them I've read because the people in my book club picked them, and some I've read because I feel like I should be denied my English degree by rights if I haven't read them.
(I'm looking at you, Moby Dick.)

Out of the hundreds of books I've read, there has only been a handful that I stopped mid-way because I just could go no further.
And when I say a handful, I mean two.
(Or at least these are the only two I remember giving up on.)

Ulysses by James Joyce was one.
(Didn't finish that one at age 19).
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy is the second.
(Refusing to finish that one at age 45).

These books have similarities.
Ulysses is stream-of-consciousness, which means lacking those things (grammar/spacing/punctuation/etc) that make words readable and comprehensible.
Blood Meridian does have formatting, but it is a collective of run-on sentences.
Many, many densely packed run-on sentences.

Both of these books makes my head hurt in the same way that reading middle schoolers' short stories makes my head hurt.

I don't like feeling like a quitter, but the older I get, the less time I have to waste on books that make me cuss.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Drum roll, please. (The Stitch Fix delivery)

I wrote that I was going to try Stitch Fix because I dislike shopping and generally don't know what looks good, not only on me but in general.

Yesterday, I got my first delivery in the mail.

I am keeping all 5 pieces.
They come out to be $34 per piece, and considering I'll likely wear them for the rest of my life (because I do this if something feels comfortable), I think that is a bargain.

I was very specific in my notes about textures (G isn't the only one in the family with texture sensitivities) and what I would be doing in the clothes (substitute teaching so I need them to be moveable).

The pants feel wonderful. I had requested ankle-length (since I already have a pair of boot-cut pants that I really like). One pair of pants is black; the other is navy with a small pattern to it.

Now, because I tend to be a minimalist, and cheap, at heart, Stitch Fix isn't something I'm going to use all the time. Maybe every six months.
But I did like that it allowed me to avoid something I dislike doing (shopping) and was, ultimately, a time saver.
(Not having to go from store to store in search of something saves my gas and time.)





If there is a downside to this experiment, it is taking pictures of myself and realizing that I am getting that middle-age look about my body.

Plans for today: the gym
Also, locate Fountain of Youth.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Seeking the 3rd second opinion

M has had a hole in his eardrum since he was four years old.

Last year, he had two tympanoplasties to try to fix the hole.
Both failed.

The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result, so we've been seeking second opinions to see if there are other surgeries or techniques.

The first doctor we saw more or less scared the shit out of me.
When I asked what might be the reason for both surgeries failing and whether this is unusual, he said, "Oh, some people have that surgery done 20 or 30 times."

It was at this point that my brain.stopped.functioning.

I asked this doctor if we needed to do surgery or could monitor.
He said, "I wouldn't wait until August."
I then proceeded to tell him that we had a vacation planned and wouldn't be able to do the surgery until mid-July.
He said that was fine.

The surgery he recommended involves going through bone (tympanomastoidectomy).

I'm not sure why the two weeks between mid-July and August (which is too late according to him) make any difference at all.
But my brain wasn't functioning well by this point of the conversation, so I didn't ask.

When I told him we were going to seek other opinions out of state, he said, "Oh, I can do the same thing they can. You don't need to go to them."

I didn't tell him that my hope was that they wouldn't scare the bejeezus out of me.

We saw our 2nd-second opinion doctor who told us M doesn't even have to have surgery right now. I liked him, and the surgery he recommended was less invasive than the one the 1st-second opinion doctor advised (medial tympanoplasty).

Today, I took M to the children's hospital out of state to see the 3rd 2nd-opinion surgeon.

This doctor recommended working through the ear canal using pig tissue for the patch rather than M's tissue (so the least invasive of the surgeries).

But he said we don't have to do anything now. AND he said sometimes the body tells you what it needs if we listen.

M is, at this moment, congested due to allergies. He is on allergy shots. Maybe his body needs that hole for ventilation.

Even though I was on the road four hours today, I felt like I had someone break the tie between the two other opinions and bring me a little more comfort that we're doing what is best for M and his ear. 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Stitch fix (how I think this will go down)

I do not shop for clothes with any regularity.
It's not something I enjoy doing.
I am fashion-challenged.

If I went through my wardrobe, I expect at least 30% of the items are things that people have given me, either as gifts or as hand-me-downs.

This is a photo of all the clothes in my closet. 
The ones to the left are hand-me-downs/gifts. 


The upside of this is that the items are free, which works well with my cheap-as-hell spending philosophy.
The downside is that I don't love some of the items, or I realize after wearing them a few times that they really don't look great on me.

I did purchase two tops recently, and I think they sum up my fashion sense:

From The Loft

From Hot Topic

My fashion sense is basically "the mullet" of clothes--some version of "party on the bottom; business on the top" or the reverse. 

I met a friend for lunch this week, and she had on a really cute outfit that looked great on her. She does Stitch Fix, so I thought I would try it. 

On Stitch Fix, they ask you to provide information on not only your size but your fashion likes and dislikes.

Mine went something like this:

I'm a bit sensory-challenged. I like things really comfortable and soft. I do not like Supima cotton--it feels too stiff and scratchy to me. I only want to buy clothes about once a year. I would like a nice pair of comfy work pants for subbing. I would like to try a pair of tighter ankle pants; the ones I have flare at the ankle (bootcut?). I do not like khaki pants or navy blue. I don't want earrings, necklaces, or shoes. I am 45-years-old and beginning to not like my arms, so I prefer something with sleeves. 

I don't know how clothing goes together. The thin tops, for example. Do you wear a tank under them? A t-shirt? A camisole? I really don't know. 

Stitch Fix has this spinning wheel of fashion--you give outfits a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. 
Suffice it to say, I was thumbs-downing A LOT. 

I have a feeling the "stylist" will email me something like this:

You are impossible. Go buy a potato sack. 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The lice learning experience

If you think when you're 45 years old, you won't need your mom anymore, you're wrong.
You will probably need her to check your head for lice on a Tuesday when your son has lice on a Monday.

If you think you have learned all there is to know when you're 45 years old, you would be wrong because on a Monday your son has lice.
And you've never experienced that before.
So you jump down a rabbit hole of online information and get very confused.
Should you pack your unwashable items in a sealed bag for 3 days or 30 days? Which is right?
Should you dry your pillows in high heat for 30 minutes or 45 minutes? Which is right?

You send your husband out to get RID, and you start what becomes a seemingly never-ending hair-combing extravaganza.
You put everything you own in garbage bags and seal them with packing tape.
You could build a fort in your dining room with all the bags.
But you don't because you're too busy combing hair and disinfecting the combs afterward.

You end up on the phone with your friend, who you know has experienced lice once, and then she tells you her family has experienced it 7 times.
And she got valuable information from a mutual friend who has a Ph.D. in public health.
And when she suggests you check in at the lice clinic, you do.

So by Friday, your heads are clear.
But you keep combing anyway because when you're 45 years old and you have anxiety, a little extra combing is what you need to avoid drinking all the wine in the city because you've now got a little PTSD from those approximately 96 hours of lice.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

I said yes, I will yes

During my undergraduate years, I spent 10 weeks traveling through England, Ireland, and Wales. I have many good memories of this time, but the downside was it meant having to
read...
attempt to read...
suffer through James Joyce's Ulysses.

Now, some people consider this book miraculous and amazing.
I was not one of those people (and am not one of those people), although I never actually finished reading it so my opinion could be ignored solely for that reason.
There is only so much stream of consciousness and lack of punctuation I can handle.

I used to think that I'd finish it if I ever found out I had a terminal illness and was relegated to my bed for six months but decided that this was a shitty way to spend my final months.

Still, 20+ years later and despite my general disregard for the book,  I do remember the end (which I think I just eventually skipped to in a fit of utter confusion and desire to be DONE).

where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I 
put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me 
under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my 
eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I 
put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes 
and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. 
This is Molly Bloom's soliloquy, and there is something about it that has stayed with me over time.

It's something about that saying yes business.

In the context of the novel, it is about her relationship with Leopold Bloom, but I think it speaks to a desire in me, which is to say yes.

As an anxious person, my go-to response on the inside is to say "no."
No--I don't want change.
No--I don't want to get out of my comfort zone.
I also have a latent lazy streak.
(Like I'm mentally lazy, but my body just won't sit still.)

The older I get, the more I'm like, "meh."

And yet, that Molly Bloom stuff. That saying yes, I will, yes.

It's true that a person can say yes to too much.
I've been rather good about setting limits for the kids and our family about what we can and will do.
The kids have never been in season after season of activities without breaks.
I think my vacation/trip-addiction is partly a need to be "away from real life/relaxation."
(There is a difference between being active because you HAVE to in your real life and being active for FUN on a trip.)

But because of my odd-job professional life, I've been able to say "yes" to a lot of stuff without it getting too hairy, at least most of the time.

Sometimes, though, everything happens at once, but as I learned in undergrad years, my best semesters happened when I took 18 hours and worked part-time. I used my time more efficiently.
I'm pretty good at that in the short-run, and most of my jobs, in their way, are short-run.
I know I won't be doing any particular job forever and forever.
They are all "for a while."

There are occasions when a person needs to say no.
I said no as a teenager when friends were drinking and driving.
I say no to drama.
(I avoid people who never got out of middle school emotionally.)
I say no 99.9% of the time to television viewing.

But, most of the time, I say "yes."