Friday, March 2, 2018

Embrace the Suck

When shit is all going wrong every which way, let the bull shit nestle in and find a quiet or raging pathway around it, whatever is most memorable. One day you'll be hunched in your rocking chair on your wrap around porch (or where ever you land) recounting the days when it all went wrong. That's where the stories are - right in the nitty gritty suckfest of your relative youth. I plan on having stories to tell. I see so many who have this notion of what their plan should be and fight tooth and nail to save it. But a perfect plan leaves no room for growth or improvisation, and certainly doesn't leave behind a footprint. It's like self imposed Alzheimer's (at the risk of sounding highly insensitive and dickish to those suffering from the real thing). If you don't get fucked around every which way, there's nothing there to remember. It makes me perplexed when I hear people fighting so hard when a plan doesn't work out. I guess I have the opposite problem - plan phobia. Maybe I could find someplace in the middle to rest. I know this message has been said much more eloquently, but it's truth can't be denied and it's really been brought to my attention lately.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Sober Thanksgiving

A few days before Thanksgiving my mom thought it would be a neat idea to take a handful of anti-seizure pills and conk out for a few days so the time would pass more quickly. One of my aunts was supposed to pick her up in three days and she didn't feel like dealing with life in the mean time. Apparently her living situation was less than desirable. Turns out, taking a handful of random anti-seizure pills does the opposite of making you sleep - it actually makes you a human ground-snake who has no control over it's body and a severe case of the disoriented wiggles. That went on for a couple days. Finally, responsible adults found out what was going on and my mom landed herself in the hospital.

While there they figured they'd detox her from alcohol, which turns out to be quite a process when you've been an alcoholic for 30+ years. Needless to say, she did not spend Thanksgiving with the family. But don't worry - we brought her a plate. In a Jerry Springer-esque turn of events, one of my OTHER aunts was also at the same hospital for pneumonia and a serious infection (I think in her lungs). She and my mom had been in a knockdown, drag-out fight (yes, an actual physical fight between two women in their 50's and 60's), wherein she claimed my mom "held her down and rubbed her p***y on her face and gave her MRSA." I almost don't want to even include this part, since it's so purely white trash, but it's part of the story. Who am I to re-write history? Oh, by the way, the doctors tested my mom due to my aunt's claims and she has no signs of MRSA or anything of the sort. It had just been laying dormant in my aunt's system for awhile. Damn. That's scary considering how many people had passed through her home, including my foster kids before they had been placed with me.

Good Lord, I've really gotten off track here. Anyway, back to my mom's sober Thanksgiving. We brought her a plate and she made an anemic proclamation (after being cornered) that she would stop drinking. As the child of a life-long alcoholic, this statement is like winning the lottery - you keep checking your numbers to make sure you read them right and stay up all night worrying about it and don't think it could possibly be true. I promised myself I would NOT get emotionally invested in that being true. But one can't help oneself. She did pretty damn well for over a month, but things have started getting slippery. She has fallen off the wagon a couple times, but it's a definite improvement. I know with addiction "one is too many, a thousand isn't enough" and all that, but I'm glad she got a brief reprieve for at least that month, and most of the time since then. Makes it easier that she's penniless and lives in a small RV on some desolate parcel of land with neither power nor water nor means of transportation other than a bicycle. I wish she was doing more things to maintain her sobriety - she hasn't gone to any meetings or anything of the sort. So I don't think all my lottery numbers were winners - this isn't a jackpot. But I'll take what I can get.

As for my other aunt who Jerry Springer-ed this story, she now says she doesn't remember even going to the hospital and doesn't believe she said those things. Sounds like a good way to get out of dealing with some ridiculous ass claims to me, and to everybody else. But I still love her - she's been through a lot and I wish I could give her a new, better life to start over with. But this is all we've got and we only get to collect these experiences once. Best to do good things and lots of things and leave no worthwhile stone unturned.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

When Your Body Betrays You - A Passing Out at Work Story

Today I was supposed to co-teach a class. I knew the material in a real world way but have not taught a class before. So I put off thinking about it until the night before, at which point I casually leafed through the material. Slept pretty well last night due to avoiding thinking about it. Got to the class this morning and things seemed fine. The other teacher (who is amazing) sort of passed the baton to me when it was my turn. I didn't get well versed at the materials. I felt overwhelmed. About 3 minutes in, my mind spazzed. I started feeling the corners of my vision flicker. I tried to breathe through it. I told the instructor I needed to step out for a minute. I closed the door behind me and as I was walking down the hallway, trying to breathe, the darkness got darker and it all went black. I found myself about a minute later waking from the konk, drenched in sweat, with two women hovering over me. I couldn't remember if I was still in class. I remember saying "how humiliating" as I was first waking up. I heard them saying to call 911. They told me not to move as I tried to sit up. I didn't listen and sat up on the floor, back against the wall as the dark fuzzy stars started fading away. When the stars were gone, I got myself up and sat on a chair nearby. I asked if I could go into a conference room instead. I hated the idea of the class coming out for break and seeing me surrounded by police and firefighters. So they let me sit in an empty conference room to await the paramedics which they insisted on calling. Bah! I know it's protocol, but I knew I was fine. Just a humiliating mind spaz, everyone, nothing to see here. Paramedics arrived (yum!), checked my vitals and blood sugar and said everything was fine. I told them I don't want to go to the hospital, signed a form, and they went on their merry way, leaving me alone in the conference room with just my wounded pride to keep me company. I sat there for a good long while, contemplating what to do next. I finally made up my mind to go back to class because if I left, I don't think I could've forgiven myself. So I went back in, thankfully they were just taking their break, so I discreetly told the instructor what happened. He asked what I wanted to do and I said I wanted to stay, but not to teach (fuck no), so I just stood around pretending to be useful for the remaining 2 hours. Usually at this point in life, one has enough experiences on which to draw for how to handle most shitty situations. But there was no playbook for this one. I've felt shitty all day. Can't get it out of my head. I hate feeling defeated. For what? Because I'm scared of messing up? Because I don't want people to think I'm stupid or boring or weird? I'm pissed off at my body. I feel like it betrayed me. Showed my hand. I also recognize I could've done better. I should've done better. I had a month to prepare. Instead, I dicked around until the last minute and tried to wing it. It's an insult to the good instructor who was trying to train with me and help me expand my skills. Pretty fucking rude of me. I guess I'm just disappointed in myself. I've spoken before about how I feel safe usually where ever I am because I can trust myself to handle a situation. This one, I couldn't. It's like, I don't have a lot that motivates me, and I can put things off and put them off and then this one came up finally and kicked me in the (figurative) balls. I have decided I want to start forcing myself into more situations like this, and eventually my ancestral fainting goat tendencies will dissipate. They have to, right? I'm mad and sad and disappointed and humiliated. And then there's the thing about whether I should tell people at work or not. I hate feeling like I'm keeping secrets or something, but this isn't exactly something one wants to share, and I have a right to my private humiliations being kept private. My boss already knows. Someone told him, not sure who, but I think it's policy to inform the boss anyway so couldn't avoid that. But it feels dishonest when people asked how it went and I just give some generic "went horribly, I choked and didn't teach at all" etc. I guess things like this in life happen to everybody, in different ways. On the upside, Richard pointed out that I didn't shit my pants, so at least that's still not on the list of humiliations. When I was a kid I remember passing out a couple of times, and all my siblings have too. The first time I remember I was in Kindergarten sitting on stage cross legged with my class lined up in a few rows. We were practicing something and each had on a pair of white gloves and two drum sticks and we were playing some sort of song on the floor of the stage in the gym. There was a black light on. I remember looking down at my little hands in the white gloves and then I remember waking up, everybody still tapping their drum sticks. I must've just konked out for a few seconds. I don't think anyone noticed at all. The second time, I was in 3rd grade in Mrs. Rackley's class and she was a real piece of work - mean as hell and always made everyone cry. I was supposed to've done some sort of homework in an oceanography packet and she asked me to pull the packet out. I didn't do my homework so I was worried about getting in trouble. I opened the top of my desk up and felt the dark fuzzies in my vision and started to stand up and say "Mrs. Rackley I don't feel good..." but my voice trailed off and I hit the floor. Upside to that one is, Stetson Butler (a classmate) put his arm around me to help bring me to the nurses' office. Score. He was hella cute. But that's the last I ever remember it happening. I wish I could blame the passing out on me being vegan for this whole month, or being on my period, or having a cold, or me locking my knees or forgetting to breath, or something ANYTHING else, but based on the evidence at hand, all my personal history, it's obvious. I flipped the fuck out and pulled a Fainting Goat Special to get out of it. So I've got to suck it up and keep on keeping on. Put myself out of my comfort zone more and get used to it and get better. And do it all while I'm mad as fuck at myself as a motivator, because when I'm mad, I get shit done. I feel like it's my most productive emotion, even though it masks a lot of other, healthier emotions. Like vulnerability. That's another one I felt today. I definitely don't like that one. Maybe the takeaway is, I won't do it perfectly the first time, but I'll keep forcing myself into things and maybe, eventually, I'll get better. So I should trust myself after all. Might be a rocky journey back to trust on this one though.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Ulcerative Colitis - Year 11

Just got back from a GI doc appointment. Last week I had a flexible sigmoidoscopy and today was my follow up. I attempted to stay awake during the procedure rather than be sedated, but once they got started I realized I'd rather be put under. It was uncomfortable and painful and I called the ref and tapped out. I'm still really glad I got to see the part that I did. It was enlightening and empowering for the short time I was awake. It's good to feel involved in the process. Anyway, the results are that things are looking worse than when I had my last colonoscopy based on the visual assessment and biopsies. I had approached my doctor awhile back regarding changing meds to Entryvio. Someone I know started taking it and is doing much better. My doctor finally agrees that it's time to ramp it up. After 11 years of various humiliations and fear I'm going from the lowest grade meds to the next level. This new medicine has only been out for a couple years, so there really hasn't been time to gather data. Fucking sucks. I am by nature a cautious person. I don't like engaging in things that haven't had time to be put through the paces. Furthermore, it's an infusion, which means I'll have to take it intravenously. I asked what the timeline looked like and if they would at some point decide to take me off. The answer? I'll likely be on it for the rest of my life, if it works. That means if I live to 99, I'll be hobbling through the doors of the center every 6-8 weeks with my curly white helmet hair and pained shuffle getting my infusion. It sounds overwhelming. I guess I'm already taking meds I'm projected to be on for life, but an infusion sounds much more intimidating. Right now daily I'm on 6 pills plus (brace yourself) a nightly enema. No good way to put it. Is this any worse than that? I'll have to take that time off of work every 6-8 weeks to go in for the rest of eternity. It just makes me really sad. Why was I born with a lemon of a body? Drove it off the lot, thought it all was good, then BLAM! Up shit creek without a paddle. I'm trying to be positive. This might open up the world to me. I've had all these hangups about being able to travel and fully enjoy life and this might actually make it to where I'm able to do so without carting around bottles of pills and boxes of enemas. Might not work, on the other hand. But I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. I've been trying this plant based, whole food diet to see if it has any impact on my inflammation and I feel like it has improved things, but I'm not that hardcore and I probably will give in pretty soon. I got the idea from a couple 'documentaries' (I use the term loosely) on Netflix - What the Health? and Forks Over Knives. I felt like it was helping, but today I had kind of a rough day, so maybe I'm full of shit and it doesn't make any difference. What's weird is, I felt worse during the time my colonoscopy was done vs. when the flex sig was done, but my results are opposite. Now I'm plummeting toward this infusion and haven't given myself enough time to test the change in diet. That's why I wanted to know about the potential for backing off the meds in the future. She did say it's possible to attempt once one has been in "deep remission for many years." Doesn't sound like much of a silver lining, but it's not nothing. What I came to during writing this is, I'm already doing something for life. Might as well try a different route because it's essentially the same concept. There goes my commitment phobia again, sounding alarm bells.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


Coming home, wind in sails, elated at the freedom and possibilities. Finding dinner, to cook or be cooked for. Settling fork in mouth to communicate in a series of grunts between commercial breaks. Frustrations over TV breakdowns. Threats of baseball bats and eventual giving up for a shower and restless sleep, wherein dreams are just fears and catalysts to an angry state upon waking. What do I want? It doesn't feel like this means anything.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Rituals of Loss

It has been four days since we dropped the boys off at their mom's house. It feels like weeks. Then sometimes it's like they were never here and that year and a half was just a chasm of time that I didn't really experience. I'm walking in this empty life that I didn't realize was so empty. I need meaning. They gave me that. Through all the frustration and irritation and learning the art of patience (or practicing and never quite getting there most of the time), I felt like I was doing some good. And even if it didn't have meaning, it filled the time. Now it's a gaping maw after work where I feel guilty while watching meaningless TV and sad when I shut it off because four days ago I would have been doing something of substance. Four days ago I was a mom. I felt like I would be an imposter to call myself that before, then I owned it, and now I have to discard it like it was false all along. I have cried every day in varying degrees. It has ebbed since I've been assured that I can take them this weekend. Every night before I go to bed I walk into their bedroom and picture them in their beds. I try to send some energy of love and calm and normalcy to them in their little room that's an hour away from me now. I picture myself being with them and making sure they're covered up, like I used to do every night before I went to bed myself. It sounds weird when I put it out into the world like that, but I'm maybe trying to think of it as a little prayer. I'm not going all religious nut here, but it seems right to send them some goodness into the universe and hope that they catch it. It makes me feel better anyway. I want to see their chubby little faces and squeeze them until they wiggle to get down, and watch them ride around the back yard on their bikes and fight the sprinklers with buckets, running around in their undies. I just feel really empty. I've always had a hard time filling my time. It's either balls to the walls crazy busy with school or family, or mega couch potato don't want to get up and move. I'm not a hobbyist. I'm not particularly interested in anything, except people and that requires interaction and when I start interacting I don't know how to hold a balance. Right now I just want to curl up somewhere and let the storm pass, but that's not how I manage life. So I'm walking into the flames and crying and sending little love prayers through the universe and whatever else weird shit I can think of to get to the other side of this loss.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Well, fuck

Despite the promises of a gradual process, I got a phone call this morning saying that beginning with tomorrow evenings regularly scheduled visit, they're just going to stay permanently. Tomorrow. Still trying to keep my shit together. Limited success. Sporadic losing my shit.