Category Archives: family

Catch Up

This is gonna be quick. If I don’t post right this minute, I don’t know when I’ll ever get the time so here goes.

This has been a wild and crazy summer so far. Back to back things going on and not a lot of time to breathe in between.  But here’s the best part. Forgive me if you already know all this because I’ve been shouting it from the rooftops posting bits and pieces of my good fortune all over the internet the past month or so.

At the end of the month I’m going to be able to cross three items off my Bucket List.  One item in particular was a complete and utter fantasy because I didn’t think it was possible, that being SEEING THE REPLACEMENTS.  Since they sort of split up (parted ways and have not performed together since) in 1991, fans of the band only dared to dream that they would ever reunite.  As fate would have it, they are doing the Riot Fest tour this summer in Denver, Chicago and Toronto.

Long story short (my bedtime, I HATE Sunday nights) I’m going on a road trip with my daughter to Toronto to see The Replacements perform ALIVE AND IN PERSON.  And those three things are all on my Bucket List.

Now, if my passport only arrives in time, I’ll be all set.  Another story for another time.

Two Weeks And One Day

It just this minute occurred to me that the two week mark was when it hit me that my dad was really gone. It was the day I started missing him. Really missing him, like I couldn’t bear it any longer, I had to see him.

Now here it is, two weeks and a day since my mom passed away. ( I hate those two words but I can’t deal with the D word just yet.) And today was one of the roughest days I’ve had.  I had 3 crying jags at work before first break so I knew it was going to be a hard day.  I should have just gone home.  By lunch time, though, I had it pulled together and was doing ok.  For about twenty minutes and then it all went downhill from there.

It must have been obvious to co-workers that I was kind of miserable.  Every other person took it upon themselves to try and cheer me up.  Let me tell you something, if you ever find yourself on the other end of this conversation, with me anyway, save yourself the trouble.  I’m broken inside, can’t you see I don’t feel like laughing right now? I appreciate that their intentions were good, just wasn’t feeling it.

One thing has become very clear to me.  A simple “How you doin’?”  “I’m here if you need me,”  Or a smile and a pat on the shoulder is so much more comforting. Some of my most peaceful moments have come after reading a note that simply said “Thinking of you today.”

Anyway, back to my day.  I came home to a quiet house, which can be a blessing or a curse and I can’t even tell you which, depends on so many things.  My phone started jangling and I just couldn’t listen to it anymore.  My phone has been in my pocket or in my hand constantly for about the last month.  I just, at that moment, didn’t want to deal with it.  I set it on the ta tossed it on ok, I HURLED it across the table and it slid and landed with a rather large clunk on the floor. The on-off switch must have jammed because now it’s really hard to turn on and off.  So I learned a lesson about anger.  Anyway, the phone stayed off.

Then, a little after dinner the real phone rang.  In case it was important, I walked over to read the caller ID and it was an unknown number.  As I turned my back to it and was walking away, it dawned on me that my mom will never be on the other end of that damnable phone again and I started to cry.  I marched up the stairs, turned on the hot water in the bathtub and had a nice long cry/bath.

I feel a little better now.

Life and Aging

So I’ve become preoccupied with the whole concept of aging.  But mostly how unfair it is.  It occurs to me that in this instance, Life and Aging can be used interchangeably.

I keep thinking of my parents when they were young.  How they fell in love, how their lives unfolded and how innocent they started out.  There was no way they could have known that they would have six children or the allowances and sacrifices they would be required to make.  Both of them came from very poor families and decided that their kids would not do without as they did.  That, in itself is a rather daunting undertaking.

I think when we look at our parents, we forget that they were much like we are at one time. Most likely they had a lot of the same feelings and desires and fears.  When I look at myself and wonder how I got this old, I realize now that they must have done the same thing.  It seems so unfair to me that Life has robbed them, not only of their youth and innocence but their vitality and abilities to take care of themselves, and then, finally, their lives themselves. It seems so senseless.  I try to concentrate on the good memories, the happy times and the fact that the world is a better place for them having been here.  But when I think of how short a time we’re given on this Earth to accomplish something, it seems kind of cruel to me.

I think I’m about to embark on the angry stage of Grief.

My Mom and Dad

This is my mom and dad, the couple standing. I’m pretty sure that’s not Lee Harvey Oswald in the foreground. The pic is circa 1954.

Holy Cow

I’m thrilled to see readers here! You have no idea.

I’ve been busy with post-funeral stuff like writing thank-you notes and things but I have much more to say on this subject.  Including some problems I’m having adjusting. No surprise there. But I will post more on the weekend, I promise.

And thanks so much for coming over and saying such nice things :)

A Blog Can Serve a Purpose (and other observations)

I’ve all but abandoned this blog. Once upon a time it served a purpose.  I used it to empty out my head every now and then.  Then, quite a while ago, I found other places to distribute the stuff that was clogging up my brain… maybe not entirely emptying it out but more or less dribbling things out in starts and stops and spurts.

But now I have this ridiculously saturated medulla or cerebellum or whatever you call it and there’s no way I could possibly drain it sufficiently without coming back here. So, over the next few hours or days or however long it takes, I’mma gonna be here emptying out my brain and my heart and whatever else I can squeeze out so I can have my old self back… the one that can sleep and rationalize and communicate intelligibly, (even carry on a conversation) and emote and add and subtract.

As it stands right now, it’s 2:19am. I’m supposed to be waking up in 3 hours to go back to work after having been off for a week. Unless you count the weekends, in which case it would be 9 days. That’s how long it took to watch my mom die and see to it that she got a proper burial and deal with the aftermath. Partially, anyway.

And all that stuff up there left me with a head the size of a [insert something of impressive volume here] full of bombarding thoughts and not a clue as to how to sort them out and make sense of any of it.  I know, because I’ve spent the last four or five (I can’t even count anymore) nights trying.  And that was on top of the daunting task of trying to cry.

There’s something about watching your mother die and not being able to cry that just doesn’t sit well with me. I dunno, it just doesn’t feel normal.

Stay tuned for part two, four, five, three , seven, twelve, eight and however many more it takes to get me the hell through this.

PD’s Latest Trials and Tribs

It’s been a ridiculously long and embarrassing amount of time since I’ve written here and I apologize for that.  Sometimes there’s just no time or no words to say what you want to say.  Other times, there’s just nothing worth reporting.  More often than not, though, lately, there just hasn’t been anything good to say.

We’re having another stressful siege with PD’s health.  This time it’s not Meniere’s-related.  We don’t think so anyway.

Several months ago he started having intermittent problems swallowing.  In a relatively short period of time it became more and more frequent and it became obvious that it was time to see a doctor.  An endoscopy was set up with the intent of stretching the Schatzki ring and while they were down there it was decided that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take a couple of snips for biopsy. That was June 10th.  He’s not been able to eat solid food since midnight on June 9th.  Yeah.

Weird part is that he’s had the endoscopy done twice before, and the ring stretched also, with no problems.  Sometimes people have a narrowing of the opening of the esophagus.  That narrowing is called the Schatzki ring and there is a procedure called an esophogeal dilation using a balloon to stretch it to enable easier swallowing.  It’s not always permanent and often the stretching is needed every so often.

Normally the procedure doesn’t merit any kind of problems or follow-up.  We have been back to the doctor once, to the emergency room and back to the hospital for more tests.  Xrays have been taken, 2 CT scans done and two barium swallows to check for perforations or tears in the esophogeal wall.  The biopsies both came back normal.

PD is having severe pain (like a very sore throat) accompanied by a kind of spasming in his neck and throat area on one side.  Often times when he is able to eat (those times are becoming more frequent, thankfully, considering that he has lost a considerable amount of weight) his throat will spasm to the point where he has to stop eating until it subsides.  He’s been able to eat yogurt, pudding, a little icecream, broth and a liquid nutritional supplement.  He was very weak for days but is getting some of his strength back.

His gastrointestinal doc is rather baffled as to what is going on.  He’s prescribed an antibiotic on the off chance of the possibility of an infection in there.  The improvement has not been great but he does feel a little better so maybe there was some infection in there.  Hard to tell.

He’s seeing an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist on Tuesday and we’re hoping to get some answers and treatment then.  He’s angry and frustrated and I can’t blame him at all. Plus, I’m tiring of eating in the closet.  I don’t like to eat real food in front of him, he gets jealous.  And he keeps trying to smell my food and that’s just weird.

I am near the end of my 12-day vacation.  The original plan was to stay home and enjoy my house and yard and husband and get together with some friends.  Our grandson was going to spend a week or so with us.  There was a point where it seemed that a hospital stay for PD was a possibility so that plan was cancelled.  I’m not sure who was most disappointed.  As it turned out, so far, no hospital stay.  But it’s not been much fun for any of us.  But PD has gotten caught up on several hundred episodes of MacGyver and Bones.  And no, that was not fun for anyone else but PD.  Meaning me.

The Joy of Detox

Things have been a little hairy at our house lately. The kitchen renos have come to an abrupt halt due to the fact that PD is dealing with some issues.

In case you don’t know, my husband suffers from Meniere’s Disease. He was diagnosed, if I remember correctly, in 2003.  He’s been a Bilateral Meniere’s patient since 2000.  He’s on a pretty good selection of medications for the dizziness and other symptoms that go along with the disease.  He’s had surgeries that were temporary fixes.  Meniere’s isn’t a well-known disease and there is not a lot of research being done.  There is no cure but it can go into remission.

Sleep disturbances are a big part of life for PD.  He’s was on 4 medications alone to deal with that issue.  We’ve been trying to get him off some of his meds which don’t seem to be helping and/or are not covered by his medical insurance plan.  One of those meds is Clonazepam (Klonipin) and he’s been taking it for about 10 years.  After discussing it with his doctor, he followed her instructions for weaning off the drug.  That was three weeks ago and he’s been having a terrible time since.  It breaks my heart to see him come downstairs, bleary-eyed and edgy from spending hours trying to get some sleep. I now know first-hand what drug users must go through in detox, except without the benefit of other drugs to help with the withdrawal.  He’s adamant about not going back on the Klonopin and is limited in what he can take to ease the symptoms because of the other drugs he must stay on.  Just today I came across this article and will be giving it a good read.

I’m not only concerned about the hell he’s going through, as the days go by I’m getting more and more irate with the non-chalance with which some doctors prescribe these drugs.  From all the research I’ve been doing it seems to be a common problem.  I’ve also learned that he probably should not have been taking the drug for as long as he has been.  It was a low dose but taking it for so long has made the withdrawal that much more difficult.

I could make this a more lengthy diatribe on the insensitivity of the medical community but I won’t.  And don’t even get me started on the negligence of drug companies or the FDA.  What I need to stress to you is that before you start taking any medication, please please please discuss it in depth with your doctor and do some research.  Often times the “fix” is more dire than the actual problem.

And if you are so inclined, a prayer or two for PD would be much appreciated.

NEW YEAR THOUGHTS

For me, the start of a new year always involves some level of self-examination.  My intention is to examine my conscience and determine where there is room for improvement.  I intend to take a look at my experiences through the past year,  my victories and my struggles.  Ideally, I would build on what worked and put some strategies in place to help avoid the inevitable rough spots in the future.  In years past, this exercise usually amounts to nothing more than a quick debate in my head about whether or not to bother making resolutions.  The typical ones come up… Eat healthier, exercise more, stop procrastinating and quit smoking.  I’ve made those year after year and something in me just refuses to take the list seriously. The procrastinator in me believes that I will take those things more seriously next year.  I won’t kid you into believing that this year will be any different. I should add stop being stubborn to the list.  But that would add more pressure and just one more thing to put off for another day…

There’s also the outward examination.  I look in the mirror.  This exercise is becoming more painful as time passes.  I see the beginnings of wrink (ok, who am I kidding?)  I see the wrinkles deepening around my eyes and mouth . The gray hair taking over and the results of Mr. Gravity wreaking havoc on the rest of me.  The freckles on the backs of my hands aren’t freckles anymore (how does that happen?)  It takes me a little longer to bound out of bed in the morning and I don’t run up and down the steps as I always have. “Things” aren’t so firm and toned.  My skin requires constant hydrating to prevent it from taking on alligator characteristics… I have to constantly remind myself to stand up straight. It’s wearing me out!

Yeah, it’s bleak.  And if you’re behind me in age, I apologize if I’m scaring you to death.  But it’s a fact of life and it is frightening and I’m smack-dab in the middle of a panic.  I see so many women my age who seem to be just fine with where they are in life.  Of course, they’ve dyed the gray away in their hair.  Maybe they go to the gym faithfully.  Maybe they’ve had or are contemplating tummy-tucks and some facial reconstruction.  Maybe they’ve already experienced my panic and chose to take steps to fix things. Maybe they just don’t care.

The experiences my mom has endured this past year has forced me to look at my own stuff in a way I never have.  When I look at her, I see me in the future and I get panicky. I don’t wanna be frail.  I don’t wanna depend on other people to do things for me.  I don’t want to become bitter.  I don’t want to become bitter.  More than anything I don’t want to become bitter.

This might be the year that I change things.  Time is going to pass no matter what.  Aging is inevitable.  We’re born, we live, we die. But I don’t want to become bitter.

Let me say that I hate this post. It’s not what I wanted to say but I’m trying to work through this.  It’s giving me a hard time and I can’t hold it in.

BIG SPOILER ALERT

(Warning, this is not happy, light reading.  My apologies beforehand… And it’s not a movie review…)

I’ve recently had my future show up at my door. Unexpectedly and knocking loudly. I kind of knew that it was lurking about out there and that sooner or later I would have to open the door and invite it in.  But somehow I had convinced myself that it would patiently wait until I was good and ready to entertain it.

For most of my life I could look out the peep hole and just enjoy the view. There were lots of beautiful sights to see.  Pretty and happy sights.  Then a few years ago, one day I looked out and the picture I was accustomed to seeing seemed a bit dimmer.  Less sharp and clear and somewhat tinged.  Let’s say the colors began to look a little washed out and a sepia effect was starting to bleed in.  If you’re not familiar with a sepia tone, think old photographs.  Not exactly black and white but sort of brownish yellow.  Now picture a sepia rainbow.  There are no brilliant vivid colors, just some lighter tans fading to darker tan.  Hard to distinquish and not nearly so interesting or festive.

I don’t mean to sound all Doom’s Day-ish.  I’m speaking reality. My reality.  And using my normal look the other way tactic just won’t hold water anymore.  There’s no avoiding the inevitable.

It’s called the Circle of Life.  We’re born, we live, and if we’re lucky we have the opportunity to age and then finally die.  We move through the Seasons of our lives from Spring to Winter.  It’s gradual and barely imperceptible.  Mostly.

There comes a point, though when we’re forced to face our immortality.  This point comes in many forms.  For me, a mirror is the vehicle.  I’m not only speaking of the moment each day when I wake up and actually see my face in the bathroom mirror; when I take stock of new sags and wrinkles and skin variations that were or were not there the previous day.  Yeah, that’s not exactly a picnic. But what I’m referring to is the mirror that is my Mom.  She’s where I will be in twenty years or less.

I’ve had to open my door and look reality full in the face.  I was only slightly prepared and accepting it or not is no longer and option but a necessity.

I’ve had to realize that at some point, bounding out of bed in the morning will not be an option.  That one day I may be dependent on someone else to make sure my daily needs are attended to.  That everything about my independence that I took for granted will poof like a soap bubble in the wind.  That my dignity may be compromised.  That seeing, hearing, walking, talking, dancing, typing, and even thinking will no longer be effortless.

It will help, I know, to have a good attitude.  To have loving family and friends around to help me get by.  Good eating habits and exercise may prolong the process and maybe make it less painful or more manageable.  But only that.  There’s no escaping the end result.

I’m not sure how you deal with this, or if you’ve even had to.  But we’re all in this together and even though it’s a very personal thing, it’s something we all have to face at some point.  I have my own thoughts and feelings about what comes after and those will be my comfort and my salvation, if you will.  But you have to move from Point A to Point B and it’s not exactly a downhill slide in the sense that it’s going to be easy.  Reality isn’t exactly a smooth paved path.

Forgive me if  I’m seeming all dire and morbid.  It’s simply where I am right now.  I didn’t want to open that door.  I was content enough to just take things day by day, putting one foot in front of the other and reminding myself to exhale every so often.

I will come to terms with it all at some point.  I won’t like it and I’ll fight it with every cell in my body and every neuron in my little brain.  But right now, it’s too fresh.  Too frightening and too claustrophobic.  I just had to get this out, carrying it around was wearing me out.  I have too much else to do.  And a time frame that’s shrinking a little every day.