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Monday, November 8, 2010

"How are you feeling?"

"How are you feeling?" This is a question that I am asked often by concerned and well meaning family and friends. Several months back, I had the basic response of, "pretty good". That most likely was a lie. Said only out of my fear of being a pathetic cry baby. Recently, when asked, I am more honest. This, more honest, answer is a result of pure exhaustion. I don't want to complain, but I understand that if I am not more honest, there will be expectations with no exceptions. I can't afford that these days. I know that I am hardest on my self when some asks, needs or expects something of me. The pressure of letting them down can be immense. I know. That's on me. Mostly. There are some that rely on that guilt to get what they need from me, regardless. It's not that I don't care what others need from me or that I don't want to help, it's that I can no longer afford to put myself (and my family) in that position right now.

At my last appointment, my doctor walks in and says, "how are you feeling?". My knee-jerk, somewhat exhausted answer was, "Great.". I noted his raised eyebrows as he peered over his laptop. "Great? Really?". "Well, " I answered and hesitated, "not really great. What do you want to hear from me?" I mean, I knew what he wanted to hear, the truth. But how many times am I to sit in this chair and report the same and not sound whiny and pathetic? It has been a year. Come on. We agreed that, though I am not nearly close to the wife/mother/person I was over a year and a half ago, I am "better". Somewhat. He once more, promised to "get me better" and sent me off with new instructions and an new "cocktail". Great.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't scared. What if they never (and please, it has been a year, so I think I have the right to let this idea run wild at times!) figure out what is going on? There is some serious misunderstanding of what life has been like for me, for my husband and for my children. We wont even discus basic household chores, meals...sure they get done, but not always by me. I don't know how, or even where to begin to explain the level of exhaustion that has come with this whole ordeal.

We have made changes. I can't say that we chose to make them, rather, we were forced to accept and roll with everything. After months of waking up, each day, and expecting to feel "normal" again and being disappointed that I didn't, I realized I needed to make some changes. Now, I/we understand that it is a day by day thing. Some days I feel alright and others, not so much. We adjust for that. I stop and rest (honestly, I don't have much of a choice!) and accept that that is what I need. It is hard for me not to feel lazy. It's these moments that are most frustrating to me. It feels like my brain is moving at a most rapid pace...but, my body and muscles are NOT getting the message. Uhhhgggg!!!!

Showering is now something that usually happens at night, just before bed. Because, a simple shower, can send my body into total collapse mode. I am not kidding. My muscles literally weaken to the point that I am no longer able to raise my arms and I often feel as those my legs are going to collapse beneath me. Breathing becomes labored and I have to sit down. I have to pick and choose what tasks I take on for the day. Last week, I was raking leaves with my son. Slowly and well aware that I couldn't over exert myself, I worked with him for about a half hour. I had to stop. I started to tremor, badly. Which delayed dinner, which, in turn , delays the whole evening. And when you have school aged children, delays on a school night are NOT a good thing. For the next three days, the muscles in my arms and back were as sore as if I had done HOURS of work. Thirty minutes, took me down for three days.

Some days, writing is impossible, not to mention typing. Previously, it was difficult because my joints ached so badly. Currently, it's because I tremble so badly. Simple daily tasks that I used to take for granted are often difficult for me to accomplish. Putting on earrings, necklaces, squeezing toothpaste onto a toothbrush (imagine having to hold the toothbrush steady in one trembling hand, while trying to line up and squeeze the paste on with the other trembling hand, not easy), clasping a bra...and some days, I need help getting dressed.

And as if trying to accomplish these tasks under these conditions isn't hard enough, the tremors are exhausting. I shake so badly that you can actually hear it in my voice. My daughter tells me she can feel me shaking when I do her hair, when I can do her hair. I haven't figured out if it's the trying so hard that make my muscles tired or that they are tired from shaking. Oh, and the harder I try, the more they shake. The shaking isn't there all the time, but when it is...PAIN IN THE ASS! I have been able to figure out what triggers them sometimes. Any level of "overexertion" (like raking) can do it. Sometimes, simple tasks, like dishes, or folding laundry triggers them. On a bad day, almost anything can do it. I am going to guess that I need more rest on these days. I am learning it is all about the pace. And stress!

So how am I supposed to balance everything? I know that right now, I am supposed to just sit tight and see if this new "cocktail" kicks in. There will be more tests, revealing who knows what. It is hard for me to sit here and not wonder if I will still feel the same a month from now or a year from now. Never, ever would I have imagined that I would be like this a year after a so-called "virus" (that is what we are calling it this month) invaded my, for the most part, healthy body a year ago. I try not to think of all that I am missing. I try to enjoy the time that I am at rest with my children. I try to catch up on all those things you can get done sitting. I also think about going downstairs to purge the playroom in preparation for Christmas. I dream about getting the garage cleaned out. I think about vacuuming. Yes, vacuuming. Some days, it's just not an option.

Maybe this all happened so that I had more time to work with my son and his school work. Or to really notice how much I love when my daughter laughs. Or to have my 4 year old fall asleep on my lap because I sat still long enough. To learn that it is OK if I can't get to the phone or the door at that moment. To learn to ask for help when I need it. And to say no because my family can't afford my overextending myself. I guess I cant afford that either. I do still feel as though I am letting many down. That is tough. But doctors most recent orders were that I was to lighten the load on my plate. I can do that. I have done that. I am not nearly as accessible as I was even a month ago. I can only hope that it is understood why. I don't always return phone calls and I don't make nearly as many. I'm tired and I need to rest. It has been more than a year now. So when I am asked, "How are you feeling?", it should be expected that I will give a short honest answer, with no expectations or expressions of pity (please, don't do that!). Hiding how I really felt did us no good whatsoever. I'm alright.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rant and Release

I don't think that it is any big secret that I am surrounded with some complicated relationships in my world. Recent lack of sleeplessness, among other events, are bringing some of this closer to the surface than I would like. Things that I usually shrug off are sticking to me more and I hate that feeling. Mostly because not being able to shrug them off means that I am forced to realize some unpleasant traits making it harder to want any relationship, at all.

I feel like I am in this box, that I can't move in. I just want to bust the hell out of it and say what I want to say, scream it actually. But I can't. My actions and words would hurt someone who doesn't deserve it in the least. And the others that need to hear it, would most likely hear nothing at all. Actually, I can say, wouldn't care at all.

I am dumbfounded, disappointed and just ill with the ignorance & lack of compassion. I am sick of turning the other cheek, extending another excuse and trying to figure out why. I am embarrassed for these souls. I do expect better. And they should expect better of themselves instead of pushing off on others what they feel is acceptable behavior. Because what is acceptable to them, is completely unnatural and hurtful in most circles. This is the face of selfishness.

Do I make you uncomfortable? Hmmmm....I don't really care any more. You don't want to talk about it? Fine. Really, I don't care. I am sorry, but your discomfort is with yourself, not me. Clearly, I make you realize some things about yourself that maybe, you are (and should be) ashamed of. Do not look down on me because I posses certain qualities that you lack. Actually, these are qualities that most have, maybe you are jealous.

I am not the only one affected by all of this and honestly, that's what gets to me the most. I see the hurt in other's eyes and quickly want to remove it. Remove me from this circle of insanity and all these feelings fade (the boxed in ones). I am not someone to run away from my problems. I want to face them head-on. Life is short. Tackle, repair & move forward. I am sometimes surrounded by cowards. Cowards run.

Unfortunately, in life there are some situations we can never completely remove ourselves from. I know this. It sucks. BUT, I can make my life outside of that realm what I want. And I have. Despite all of this crap, I am still amazingly blessed. My little family unit is my heart and soul. I have incredible extended family members that I am so proud of and have so much love for it makes me burst inside with complete happiness. So many filled with unconditional love, acceptance and kindness. There is this "family" I have acquired through a volunteer organization nearly six years ago. I have to say, I never expected all that would come of my deciding to accept the invitation to join. I hope I can give back all that has been given to me. And of course, my many friends. I can't even put into words what they mean to me. Pure, easy goodness, all the way around.

I chose my realm. Simply because it is healthier. Natural. Loving. Kind. Compassionate. There is a healthy exchange of give and take. Expectations are simple. Most importantly, it is honest. And easy.

I feel better now. Got that off my chest. It surely won't fix anything. I know that I have done all I can. I know that some of these unpleasant behaviors are a bi-product of environment. We can't choose where life puts us. But we can choose what we make of it. Some make better choices than others. I made better. I am not sorry for that.

Friday, August 20, 2010

So Close

4:00 a.m. and I can't sleep. Actually, I have been asleep for about 4.5 hours and that seems to be all I can get in. My mind is all over the place. So much has been happening and I have to admit that I am quite anxious.

I am so very close to getting answers that I have been looking for. For years. At the same time, even though I have been reassured that this will not be the case, I am afraid of no answers, again, at all. I am stuffing anger and frustration down like an awful meal at a very kind friends house. Trying to ignore how bad it tastes and can feel it about to erupt at any time. I am waiting. And Lord knows, I suck at that.

I have been feeling awful, crappy, honestly for a very long time. The worst of it being the past eight plus months. If it were just me, if nobody depended on me. If I wasn't a mother and a wife, among other things, it would be easier. But I, like most people, hate to disappoint. I hate to deliver any less than what is expected of me. So feeling like this, puts me in an awful position and often makes me feel much frustration. That smile on my face...not sure, some days, how I get it there. Wait. I do. My kids. The absolute love for my three beautiful children. I don't want to nor can they afford for me to fail them.

For the past three weeks I have been on this incredible ride. All of the sudden there is this acute awareness that there has been and is something really going on with me. My body is being tested at constantly changes levels of steroids. With this has been the reality that I have to really check in. Get over the fear that I will be, once again, given the shoulder shrug as to what is going on with me. There has been this chatter...with nothing coming of it, of a couple of autoimmune diseases. But, hey, I know that my doc is dealing with this with another patient. If it was to be true, there is no way he'd miss it right? Especially when he questioned it so many months ago. Right? I mean, really, if there were suspicion, he would have addressed it, right. Wrong.

I was told, at first, that the exhaustion was due to the "virus" (they think) that I had over the winter. You know, no biggie, a little fluid around the heart and lungs. A month or so later, when I still was struggling greatly, the answer was that I was probably not moving around as much because of the unexplained whatever (they never had an answer) from the month or so prior. Really? Because I have three kids (that's the least of my crazy life). Not moving? Enough? I wish I would have told him to kiss my ASS! But, once again, I did not push. He's the doc, right? He has my charts, labs, etc. He knows. Right...

Just so we are clear, I know that doctors are NOT magicians or miracle workers. For the most part, I love my practice. I trust them with my children's health. But, there have been some changes there. Some not so desirable. I am not the only one with this complaint. I will also share that at a very high point of frustration, about a month or so ago, I called the office and expressed this. I was angry. They agreed that my concerns were brushed off where they shouldn't have been. They told me that I should have called back in and expressed this sooner. I wanted to let them know that I was beginning to feel like a complainer, that I wasn't being taken seriously because I was an overweight, busy mom. They said, "We know our frequent flyer's, our complainers. You are not now or have ever been one." There was admission that the docs have about 15 minutes per patient and unfortunately, some get lost in the shuffle. Assumptions are made. For me, this is a really bad combination. If I even begin to sense that the docs think it is no big deal, I back off. I am afraid of sounding like, well, a complainer. I know that this is my fault. However, I did an awful lot of pushing this year. Which is very hard for me to do. That is how bad I was feeling.

I decided to take matters into my own hands. I am glad I did. Can't imagine what I would be feeling like right now if I didn't. After complaining, a lot, of all over joint pain, I was given a script for Prednisone. In that same visit, after insisting to them that they let me pee in a cup (they were convinced, again, that my flank pain was muscle related. I knew they were wrong), they came back and said, indeed, the infection was back and that I had to hold off on the Prednisone until the kidney infection was clear. Fine. That was in June. I waited. Kidney infections weren't getting better. Nobody had answers. Surprise. I was so sick of being sick. I called both my primary and nephrologist (as though I was a hostile kidnapper or something) and said, "I am taking the Prednisone (having very little faith that anything would actually come of it). I don't care any more. I can't go on like this." And so I did. Thank God I did.

Everything has gone from a slow moving pace to this frantic, "OMG! We need to get her fixed!" Seriously though. Whatever the outcome. Whichever category I fall into, I am alright with that. You see...I will have a PLAN! That is the part that is killing me. Just tell me what I am dealing with and lets move on. Move forward. I don't like this gear I am in and have grown quite restless with the scenery.

With a few exceptions, I am not really all that bummed with what I am most likely facing. The reality is that I have had this for what seems like forever. The best part is about to begin. The part where I don't have to feel like nobody gets it. I can and will allow myself rest, if needed, where needed and not feel guilty or weak about it. When I wake in the morning and feel that familiar feeling of, "I don't think I can do this today", I will be alright with that. I will do what I have always done. Get up and do it. It will be different because there won't be this helpless feeling that I usually keep stuffed inside. I will have a PLAN. Answers. Freaking ANSWERS! It won't be an excuse for me to expect any less of myself (if you ask around, the most common complaint is that I expect too much of myself). I know that I will test my limits. But I will understand those limits if they are not what I hoped or expected them to be. There are so many other diseases, illnesses out there. I'll take one of these.

I got an amazing e-mail from a friend. She has Lupus. She wrote to me of her story, her battle for a diagnosis and the course she has been on since. I admire her. She so much looks at this as I do. She wrote about the day she was diagnosed. She couldn't help but smile when the news was given to her that she had Lupus. I get that. I have been there (with other issues). I know that feeling. You can't help but smile. For me, that smile is a mixture of, "YES! ANSWERS! Somebody gets it, they believe me, I am NOT crazy!". And of course, to those who doubted..."IN YO FACE!!" And ultimately, knowing that a plan was soon to follow. A better life was to begin.

So the anxiety, is more because of the waiting. Also because, I want to inform myself, but am still struggling with that "what if they can't find anything". I don't like starting fires where they aren't needed. So as much as I think I have pulled my head out of the sand, I keep finding myself wanting to stick it back in. I have to keep reminding myself that, as the doctors keep putting it, "The red flags are up and flying!". I have to have faith. That's a tough one. Because I am exhausted and I don't know what's next if there is nothing there to be found. Understand that I have been dealing with unexplained medical issues for nearly 16 years. Not saying that they are all related, though, I suppose they could be. But so many unexplained things. So much head scratching and guessing. With no answers. This is where my fear stems from.

So, as crazy as it is, my fear does not lay in the final diagnosis, it lies in not having one at all. I am not hoping for illness. I am there. Just answers and a plan. So I can be all I am needed to be.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Putting it ALL Out There: Tic-Tok...

Putting it ALL Out There: Tic-Tok...


So clearly this blog has not gone in the direction it was originally intended to. I offer no apology for this because it has been a release for so many issues. I know that I am not alone in this and that most likely, those issues, they contribute in some way to my current shape (ha-ha). There is something freeing about putting down, in writing, what is going on. To look back and read my previous posts, is actually pretty empowering, for me. I see where I have been and how strong I am. Somehow, in writing, I am very clearly able to express what is in my heart and head. I don't care who reads it. There are no lies. If you don't like it, you should examine why. Shame can come in many forms. Just like hurt. I usually get angry before I realize that what I truly am is, well hurt.

I had no intention of releasing some of what I have. But, this blog, had been named, "Putting it ALL Out There". As with any injury, a Band-Aid will work, temporarily, but if you don't examine how it happened, you risk the injury again. That's where I was stuck. This issue with weight, we all know is not about the number on the scale or the image in the mirror. It is about the person, carrying all that extra poundage. There is no blame. Nobody sat there and shoved the food in. I did this. I know that. Granted, I do have a few factors contributing. I understand, however, that had I made myself a priority sooner, maybe things would not have gotten so out of hand. That is all on me. I know that I have a tendency to put too much ahead of myself. We all do that. Especially women. We look to our left, right, in front of, and behind to see if we are measuring up to some ridiculous standard. Although, women are incredibly smart, if were were smarter, we would look closer and see that nobody is really getting it all done. We all have areas of failure. It is how we accept those areas. What I mean is that I would sit there and beat myself up relentlessly about all that I wasn't able to get done. Now I know that nobody gets it all done. It is how you choose to deal with that. I am learning.

For all the craziness that has been my life, I turned out alright. I am amazingly blessed with some beautiful people in my life. They are my brass rings. I am sure that I have said this before, I'll say it again. I believe that everything in life happens for a reason. A very smart friend of mine added something that makes that statement even better. She said, "We may never know or understand the reason for it, but there is a reason." . That made it all the better for me. Because as much as I believed that there is a reason for everything, the "why" always bothered me. In my situation, I have always thought that my purpose was to end a cycle and to prepare me for, give me the emotion to, raise my children. One in particular. I know I was right. Because it was actually said to me that he may not have fared as well in the environment that was my childhood. I know that is true. I also believe that it is what you make of the situation, once you are freed from it. That's is where I have been for a long time now. It hasn't been easy, because I find it easy for me to empathize on an unhealthy level. Sometimes, an all consuming level. There needs to be a distance so that I can remain objective and guide or care as needed. That takes time to learn. It is a painful lesson.

Healing. I think that is path I have been on over the past year. First with the recognition that I am neither truly happy or healthy in this state and that I needed to do something about it. Secondly with the truth that I was putting myself, for the most part, in that unhealthy state. Ultimately, I am responsible for me.

At a crazy chance the other day, I was sitting and folding laundry. I picked up the remote and started to flick through the channels. Since we don't have cable, this was a short experience. I saw Oprah. Didn't think she was on anymore...however, there she was (a REASON, perhaps?). It was a "Look at me! I lost XXX pounds!" episode. Blah blah blah blah blah. I sighed. Really? Now? I need this like another pair of sock to match! I was just about to change the channel when one of the women were asked by Oprah what the change was. The woman's reply, "I realized my life was running me and I wasn't running my life.". AHA! There it was! I was clutching an unfolded item and just sat there while her words ran through my head, over and over and over. That is exactly how I feel!

I want to run my life. I want to flip it around. The best I can describe this is as is labor. Sorry, but it is perfect. When you are having a contraction, the game, the rule is to stay on top of it, stay ahead of it...don't let it get above your level of control. will loose control and the pain is overwhelming and exhausting. You become drained and unable to focus for the next one. And there WILL be a next one! I know this...I was good at this! Trust me, between child labor, gall bladder disease, rupturing cysts and kidney spasms...I am damn good at this! This is what I need! Now, how do I apply this to life?

Right now, to keep you updated, I am still not in a most healthy state. Currently, I am taking steroids. It was a shot in the dark to see what would happen if we tried. OMG! I feel/felt AMAZING! I could move. I was a REAL mom. The stairs weren't a painful obstacle and the cane at my bedside was beginning to collect dust. I could stand from a sitting position, without pain and I could open and close my hands. However, that was for 5 days. On day 7 (there was no wean down) I hit the wall. My body started to cease up and I felt awful. My lungs felt as though they were being squeezed. I have been put on to wean down again until I can get into the Rheumatologist (not until 10/01, they are working on getting me in sooner). I can feel the clock ticking and my body is already reacting to the weaning process. I am not a medicine person. This is one of two drugs that have ever scared me to be without. I understand the risks of steroid treatment and that scares me too. BUT...the feeling of only slight discomfort...and the look of my ankles...I HAVE ankles again! They are cute in their non-swollen state! Not only did the meds take care of the joint pain, but I haven't had ANY kidney issues and there was another issue that was cleared up as well...had that one since a teenager (stomach issues)! Again though, I wish I could express to you the fear I have of the pain returning. It is very stressful. There is so much I want to do. Tic. Tok.

I guess the point of this somewhat random topic blog is to let you all know that I have not forgotten and I have not given up, still. This journey has been more of a process than I bargained for. I am alright with that. Except for this nearly 9 month illness track I can't find my way off of. Again, a reason for everything, right? I hope that the reason for all this is that, in my journey, I can help someone else too. If it counts for anything, I have had a great loss in the time since I started this. Nothing measurable on a scale. Hugely immeasurable lessons in life.

Next lesson: Learning to run my life....

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bite Your Tongue!

The past couple of weeks have been quite incredible. Actually, I could say that about this past year. I have this strength, that others very close to me are confident I have always had. I can't say I ever really thought so. Looking back, I should admit that I have always been strong. In the past that strength was used where I needed it most, without me realizing. It is what made me who I am today, what saw me through many rough times. That strength was what made me stand and not crumble in the face of life's awful realities. It has always been there. I just needed to shake the crap off of it.

I constantly find myself conflicted, about who I am. At the core of that are the unpleasant things that have been said to me in my life. Harsh, sometimes hateful things no child should ever have to hear. Those words stick with you and echo in your mind. In those moments, it is hard to believe anything else to be true. Mostly because they came from a source that was supposed to be of unconditional love. I have to work very hard to shake those words and sometimes relive what was really going on to remind myself that those words should have NEVER been spoken. You would think that was enough. It's not. I am so blessed to have many around me, who think a lot of me. I am sometimes so uncomfortable with their compliments, because as each kind word pours out, the harsh echoes in my head bounce relentlessly as if I am not to forget who I really am.

The words will always be there. It is the power I struggle to take from them. Because they were delivered by someone that I sought much needed approval from, for years. I can honestly say I no longer require approval or praise from that source. I have forgiven, but my heart still hurts. That is OK. That hurt makes me a more compassionate person and sometimes, I think, really good at examining all sides of a situation. I have been told I am a great listener, I think my experience has lended to that attribute as well. Not being heard, is an awful feeling. So I forgive. Forgetting is a whole other experience. You simply cannot control what your mind recalls. I look at it as a defense mechanism; remember, so this doesn't happen again.

Now, it's not that I think there are people out to get me, or anything like that. However, I have a tendency to want to fix and shield others from hurt. In the past, I was able to help some, but I also got burned. We all do. Life's lessons, I guess. There are things about all of us that draw certain others to us. I am loyal and honest. I am compassionate. I am a hard worker that will do whatever I can to help you. I want you to be happy. I want everyone to be happy. Sometimes these traits are a huge target. I have been hit many times. And I stand up for more. I am sorry, but I am not a fool, not any more.

Don't ask me to engage in your games because you know that I "understand" what you are going through. I am not responsible for your choices. Please don't try to make me feel guilty about that. I am done taking one for the team. It was a lousy team anyhow. Understand that I do love you, because that is who I am, but I am unsure that you truly deserve my love. I will continue to give it because I cannot control my heart and I don't have it in me to be anything but loving to you. Appreciate that and be proud of me for it. Know that this has to be incredibly hard for me. Understand me. Don't come to me, even though you know I'll most likely say yes. Because I will try very hard not to. Step back, look at what is happening here and show some compassion. I am more than fair to you, please be the same to me. Stop being so selfish. Listen, as I have listened to you. With an open mind please. I no longer have the desire to engage with a closed mind. I don't care how long you have been on this earth, there is always something to learn. Stop being so critical. Walk a mile, baby...or less. Know that I am fully aware of all that you have going on (and extend the same to me/us). I am sorry for that, but it is not for me to fix. Please stop being angry with me because of it. Stop. Look. See that it hasn't been easy and there will most likely more rough spots ahead. I will do the best I can to deal with them, will you? Lastly, (know that this is hard for me to write because I am not good at self praise) LOOK AT ME! Look at all I have come through and who I am. There are many who have been through less and come out far worse. Give me some credit. Stop trying to break me down. I no longer care if it makes you feel better about yourself (the only reason I can think someone would do these things). Find something else to make you feel better about yourself. It can no longer come at my expense.

The numbness has faded. The guilt no longer works. My focus remains on my family and those truly in need of what I have to offer. I find it funny how this seems to anger some. Oh well. I guess I would be upset too, if an old reliable toy broke down after years of abuse. The difference is, I would look at it and think about why it stopped working and maybe realize had I taken better care of it...I'd still have it. Others see it as a stupid broken toy. That's their perspective.

It is a hard thing for a person like me to say, "I don't care". But, for the most part, I don't. I know that things do, will and are going to get to me. The hope is not as much as they used to.

Right now, I feel like I have lost a good ten pounds, physically. Emotionally...immeasurable!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dreams of Weed and A Plan...

I am frustrated beyond explanation. Thought about screaming, but that really, wouldn't solve anything. At this point, I am looking for results, more importantly, relief. You have no idea the restraint I am showing here. I want to drop every "bad" word there is. I am so tired of this. Last night, in my dream, I discovered weed (this from a girl who has never done ANY type of drug). I didn't smoke it. It didn't even look like it does in the show, Weeds. It was just there and somehow, I knew I had absorbed it. I felt FANTASTIC! Pain free and in my dream, I was sleeping peacefully, even waking to comment on it. Then I woke up. Nope. It surely was a dream. I was already dreading getting up and moving. Get up, go to the bathroom and be instantly consumed with the diminishing hope that today I will get some answers. Today, I know there will be no answers. Yesterday, I completed two more tests and have an MRI tomorrow. Maybe Thursday? I just need a plan...and a goal.

Stupid kidneys. Chronic infections with no real explanation. Bad, bring you to your knees, spasms, faithful evening low-grade temps, chills, freaking pain. Exhaustion. Crazy body aches. No, more than aches. Joint swelling, muscle and bone pain. Right now we have to treat the infections before the joint issues. One thing at a time.

I used to think and be told that I had great pain tolerance. I am no longer sure that is the case. I can feel all of this breaking me down. I try to remember that there are others, enduring so much more and wake to do it each day. That is endurance. I have to admit, I am ready to throw a temper tantrum. It has been 7 months now. I am tired.

I had a plan. I recovered from one illness that knocked me for a loop and was eager to start anew. Sometimes, I really wonder if this is all in my head. I mean, really, who gets this crap? I seriously start to wonder if I am crazy. I am not kidding here. We have all heard of the women who think they are pregnant and start to show signs of pregnancy, even when she is not at all pregnant. But, then I remember. The ER visits, the test concluding infections, the seemingly endless rounds of antibiotics, pain meds, the shots in the ass because I was so clearly uncomfortable. Enough already! I can't do this anymore. I don't want to.

I am now seeing a nephrologist. I have been repeating most of the same tests all saying the same. Great. So what is the plan? I NEED a plan. I am a planner, a doer. Lately I am more of a sitter, a wheel spinner. The past week and a half has been particularly rough as I currently have an infection and to get true results, I have to be off the antibiotic. I am in Ill Limbo. I hate this.

I HAD A PLAN! I know, I know...that expression, tell God your plans and watch Him laugh. Those earthquakes, that was God listening to my plan...I made Him fall on His ass, He was laughing so hard! Fantastic.

I am napping. I am talking crash hard 3-4 hour only waking because I had to pee naps. I am only able to do this once hubby gets home. Basic daily activities are exhausting to me. Sure, sure, I am overweight, you say. Really. Because before this all started I could run circles around some. I am a doer, a mover. I am NOT a sitter. Well, at least I wasn't.

I miss my kids. I feel like I am missing things. I want to do more. Don't get me wrong, I am sure that if I were anywhere near a healthy weight, I would not be as bad off. Where do I start? Shopping is a joke. Get in, get out. Our shelves are as low as they have ever been. After getting through the day, I am too mentally exhausted to put in the effort to create a real list. We have been rotating the same meals, for simplicity. Most nights, hubby comes home and cooks while I lay down. He also is doing the laundry and taking care of our children as well as other household chores. I cannot even begin to explain how hard all this is. Besides my children, he is another ray of light in my life. I am so lucky to have him. This brings on the guilt. Doesn't he deserve better? I feel like I am letting so many down.

I just want answers and a plan. I have always believed that things happen for a reason. I am and have been struggling with all of this for some time now.

I called a very good friend last week and just broke down. I had reached my limit that day. She pointed out that I have a tendency to not allow or believe myself to be sick unless it is confirmed by someone else. She is right. That adds to the stress because even though there are those around me who know that I have been sick off and on, they fail to treat me as so. There are no breaks. Then, in my (very messed up) head I think, "If they know I am sick and are still expecting the same, then maybe I am expecting too little of myself." And so I move on, feeling like crap and carrying great resentment. Deep down, I KNOW that I feel like crap and I should rest, but the feelings on the surface tell me not to disappoint. So I suck it up.. I know where this stems from. In the past, I have had significant illnesses, injuries, etc. When I brought them up, the basic response was that others have issues and they deal with them. I had responsibilities. In an effort to please, regardless of how I felt, I kept on. The ultimate validation was when a doctor would eventually say, "she needs surgery". Even then, post-op I was expected to tolerate too much too soon. I know...crazy. But these things stick. So much so, that I still act as though those expectations are still there. That is because they are. I place them on myself and crumble at the tiniest of signs that someone else expects the same, regardless. I wish I could just say to myself, "They are selfish and rely on you not to be.". It just isn't that easy. So, I rely on my good friend to shed some light and remind me that this is what is happening. But, here is the crazy, true side of what years of manipulation does to you. After admitting that she has a point, I later think that maybe I am seeing her point because that is the answer I wanted to hear. Commit me.

So, another day, no answers. I am hopeful that this time next week, I will have a plan. I need a plan. Have I said that before?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


One of the most important and by far the most influential people in my life has been my Grandmother. Gram. Just the thought of her or simply saying, "Gram", gives me the warmest feeling. Her love, kindness and encouragement for me has, time and again, reminded me how blessed I am. I wonder if she ever knew what an incredible role she played in my life.

I am luckier than most, I guess, that my Gram is still with us. I have trouble saying this because, I am not sure, just how with us she really is. She has been, for sometime now, suffering from dementia. The worst has been the last year. She took a pretty harsh fall and hit her head, aggravating and advancing the disease further to her current state. Her short-term memory is poor. She still remembers most of us. It's the newest additions to the family that are lost to her. As well as dinner and lunch dates or parties that are on her calendar.

It has been a tough year for me. I have been racked with guilt. To the point where it is hard for me to see her. Although, I know I am not directly responsible for the state she is in today, I often find myself wondering, "if only".

I was always close with my Gram. And in the past ten years, since motherhood hit, even more so. After the age of 7 or so, I wasn't able to see her as much as I would have loved to. The years before then, we spent quite a bit of time together. I loved being at Grandma & Granddad's so much that, when it was time to leave, I would "forget" something so it could get mailed back to me. When it was returned, I would soak in the smell. It was a mixture of pipe tobacco (the sweetest smell!), wood (my grandfather was a carpenter) and just goodness that comforted me in so many ways. I knew her handwriting and felt instant love when a letter or card came addressed to me. My Grandparents had built a big red house out in the hills of Bolivar, NY. When you stepped onto the deck, you could hear the leaves softly rustle as a mild breeze moved through the trees just before it brushed across your cheeks and through your hair. Oh, and the scent of the fresh air! I loved it so much that, when my parents moved us from Tonawanda to Orchard Park (where they bought a house with wooded property), the first morning we awoke in the new house, I immediately went to the back porch to see if I could drink in the same sweetness as I enjoyed in Bolivar. It was pretty darn close, but could never be the same. Because at Grandma and Granddad's, I was safe and free.

When I was about 20, my Granddad (who was wonderful to me as well) passed away. While Gram remained in The Big Red House, she was rarely there. Shortly after my Granddad's passing, one of her daughters, my Godmother and Aunt, Kath, was diagnosed with cancer, again. Over the next seven years, Gram would dedicate her time to helping and caring for Kath, who lived in Kentucky. She did so until Aunt Kath lost her battle with breast cancer. Gram returned home. To The Big Red House where she carried on with her life. She enjoyed her local friends, meeting her kooky, lovable and fun sisters, visiting with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She advised, listened, shared recipes and her love.

At some point in the past six years, Gram decided it was time to move. The house was getting too much for her. Although she had been told this long before, she needed to be ready herself. She was very independent. So, to my delight, she moved to an apartment that was only three miles from my house (By the way, I bought a house that offered that same sweet smell, almost). Everyone helped to get her settled. I was thrilled. I've got Gram!

My Grandmother and I are very much alike. We share the same interests such as photography, sewing, cooking, baking, planning and constructing. She was also very good at planning large meals and parties. She appreciated my knack for the fine details and always complimented me on how beautiful everything looked and tasted. She often took pictures of my place settings and food. Gram ALWAYS had a camera in her hand.

There is a funny story between Gram and me. When I was in 9Th grade and was taking Home Economics, we were to bring in a favorite recipe from home. The recipe I chose was Dutch Apple Cake. Gram made this all the time and I loved it! About 5 years ago, after apple picking, Gram came over for dinner. I asked her if she wanted to help make the Dutch Apple Cake. As we worked in the kitchen together she said, "Rach, have I ever told you where I got this recipe from?". I replied, "No Gram, I don't think you ever have!". She went on: "When I was in 8Th grade, this was the recipe the Home Economics teacher had us prepare.". You can imagine the surprise and laughter. Not to mention the irony! We had a special bond.

Unfortunately though, my time with Gram was slipping away quickly. She was becoming more and more forgetful. She wasn't taking her medicine (she was also diabetic) and that was making things worse. I wanted so badly to protect her. I wasn't willing to write her off. I knew how much her independence meant to her. I was doing as much as I could to help, knowing it would never be enough. My time was limited. I have 3 small children, a house and job. I was struggling to manage everything. She would come over here and I was so on edge. At times, it was like having another child. I was constantly watching so she wouldn't pick somebody up and then possibly fall. I knew that, aside from potential injuries to herself and the child, she would NEVER forgive herself if she had caused harm to a little one that she loved so much. I had to lie to her about why she couldn't be left with the children so I could run to the store. I hated all of this so much. I just wanted my Gram back!

I tried to organize visits, meal drops, medicine checks all with very little response. I knew I had to be careful. I didn't want the wrong response (prematurely sending her to a nursing home). I felt very strongly, that if I could keep her meds regulated, she would get better. There was just no way to make this happen. Remember, in all this, I am just the granddaughter who doesn't know what she is talking about. The truth was, I was the granddaughter who loved her greatly and wanted what she would have wanted for herself. There were others involved, well meaning. But, I still feel that I really knew my Grandmother and what she needed. NO! Wanted! I know that the others where also trying to do what was best. It was a hard situation.

Last September, I got a call from a sleepy, confused Gram. This was not abnormal, as she would often wake from a nap and call me to help her reorientate herself. She wanted to know where her kids were, she said they never came home from school. It was dinner/pick-up/karate time here so it was hectic. I reminded her that her children were grown and where they all were now. Convinced that this was a typical call, I wasn't alarmed. Then she said something that stuck with me, not immediately, but later. She said, "I think I hit my head, can you please give me a call in a couple of hours." I always did. So I said goodbye. After things died down, I sat to give Gram a call back. At first she seemed fine, but then she started talking about her children as though they were still little. Once she started talking about the fact that she thought she was in Mexico, bells went off. I called my mom, her sisters, her son. They, for the most part thought I was overreacting. At one point, my Aunt tried to convince me that she was fine. She had just spoken to Gram and she was doing dishes. "Fine!", I said, "But she thinks she's doing them in MEXICO!". It was well after 9:00 PM. I had to get over there. What if she really did hit her head, what if she had a concussion, what if she had a stroke? So I went.

I knocked on her door and she opened it with a great smile. I noticed the huge bruise on her forehead. I walked in and said, "Gram, please don't be upset with me. If this were me, I know that you would want the same. I am taking you to the hospital to be checked out." She smiled and said, "OK." She was in the middle of eating and I told her to go ahead and finish while I got her things in order (every time I picked her up we had to play Find the Purse. She would hide it for safety and then forget where!) . She sat and ate and we were chatting. When I found her things I was checking for ID, insurance cards, etc. She looked up at me and said, "I'll need my papers if we are returning to the US. We are in Mexico, right?" Thank you Aunt Kath! (Who's in Heaven). I needed that sign, that I was doing the right thing. Off we went...not before I noticed that there was only a quarter of the Lemon Meringue pie left. I had taken her shopping the day before and she bought it then. Remember, she is diabetic.

I went to the hospital with her and stayed until they sent me home for sleep at 6:00AM. The next morning my Uncle went in and I returned to visit later. I was so upset. She wasn't at all the same as when I had left her. I stayed there to wait for the doctor. Gram was in another time. She knew who I was, but in her mind, she was mothering her four young children. What had I done? Did she have a stroke and I didn't pick up on the signs? She told me she had a bump on her head. Why didn't I get to her sooner? This was my Gram. She cared for me and loved me and I let her down. I was too busy in my own little world and Gram needed me. She has never been the same since.

It is suspected that the combination of not taking her meds, along with eating too much of her favorite desert, caused her sugar to rise and she fell (in the bathroom) and hit her head on the sink or tub. It was a pretty good bump. I wasn't there. I could have brought her here for the day. I can't tell you how often these thoughts run through my mind. And when I see her, despite her smile and tight embrace for me, my heart breaks and I am filled with guilt and sadness. Where is Gram?

Gram never returned to her apartment. I had taken her out for the last time. In fact, she doesn't even recall that apartment or the three years she spent there. It is lost to her. She is now very happily residing in a beautiful assisted living facility. She has made friends (a special man friend!!) and tells me how she likes it there. She talks of selling her house and buying a new car. I have been drastically less worried about her. I know that she is getting her medicine and meals and constant companionship. I don't get to talk to her everyday like I used to because she is often not in her room when I call. That's OK. I know where she is. But I worry that she will forget about me. I also wonder if she feels that I have let her down. I miss her so much. I miss her advise. I miss everything.

Gram turned 80 last October. Before her fall, I was planning a party for her. It is hard for me to see others her age and older out and about, like she should be. Now I fill photo albums with pictures she has kept and taken over many years. Only a fraction of them were left here with me. She lights up each time I give her a new one. Although I know how completely unrealistic it is, part of me hopes that she looks through the memories and well...remembers. What I am grateful for is that she is happy in this state. That her life had these moments engraved in her mind to give her a home of comfort if this was what was to become of her. I know Gram is still here, but I miss her.

I am happy for the time that I had with Gram. I imagine her quickly moving from room to room and the wrinkles she would get in her forehead while in deep thought. Her endless lists and yellow notepads with pencils laid beside them, always ready for her next thought. The cup of coffee that she would loose throughout the house (just like me). The clicking noise she would make while she danced through the kitchen. The Polka music I more than tolerated. It is because of her, however, that I enjoy listening to Andre Rieu. She adored my children and they got to know her well. Gram was a Nursing Home Administrator for years and would often get upset with those that would mar the reputation and name of good nursing homes out there. I know that she must have seen the possibilities that lay before her. The saddest part of all this, is that she is healthy. It is her mind, that got her so far in life, that is now failing her.

I will most likely never know if there was something I could have done to prevent this and give her more of what she deserved. What I do know is that I will spend the rest of her life letting her know how much she means to me. I will laugh with her, listen to her, hold her and love her. The best that I know how. The way she did for me. I love you Gram.


Ra Ra

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


"You're in!". A friend said this to me after hearing I had been invited out to "Camp". This was 19 years ago. I had only just met this group of new friends a few months prior and apparently, being invited to camp was the ultimate form of acceptance. "Fun...I guess", that 's what I thought. I love to camp, but what was the big deal here? What made this such a special invitation?

For me, it's close to 20 years later and that invitation was, indeed, something special. At the time, the big deal about being invited just meant that you were seen as fun enough and responsible enough to go. A friend that could be trusted not to get themselves or anyone else into trouble. Back then, camp was run by the "rents" and the "kids" had to stay out of trouble.

Trust me, we drank...a lot. We laughed...a ton!, Played tricks, dehydrated ourselves, sat by the fire, listened to our fav songs, danced (sometimes on the tables!) and snacked. We learned and played games like Beer Pong, Euchre, 3 Man, Spoons & Asshole. There was "Big Ball" (a game of volley ball with a HUGE ball. I played once, got crushed and decided it was more fun to watch!). We crashed into our tents hours past midnight and woke to have the sun beating down on us, turning our tents into roasting domes. That was because it was close to and sometimes after noon. Even though there were fantastic breakfasts prepared, most of us often missed them because we slept through them.

We also created life-long bonds full of friendship and love. Over the years we grew up, got married, bought houses, had children and our tents have turned into campers with all the luxuries us campees could ever need.

These days the thought of going to Camp is still exciting. The drinking, still happens, though not nearly as much. Seems our bodies and level of responsibilities (children who wake early top the list!) make the thought of a heavy hang-over super scary. The laughter and time spent around the fire with such wonderful friends, almost like family, at night is my favorite.

This new generation of Camp includes us girls planning the menus, prepping and cooking fantastic meals, just as the amazing women before us did. The men now really kick in to help with the prep and clean-up, as well as tending to the children, our children. In the morning, we are awakened by a new kind of sunshine, our little ones. They are excited to wake and start the day...and their equipment! They eat and gear up to ride quads and dirt bikes. It is too cute.

Camp really is a magical place. It's were men become boys and leave the women folk to go and build a fort up on "The Mountain" to protect themselves from bear. This is no joke. They also disappear for hours on end with gallons of water and chainsaws and come back sweaty and happy. Boys and girls leave trails of dust while riding and return with dirt bike face (only the spot where the goggles were is clean). In the past few years a private pond has been added where you can jump off a dock, swim, canoe and soon fish. The women have a chance to sit and chat, sometimes. Often we sit for a bit and then start the prep for the next meal when the hungry people come back. And they ALWAYS come back!! Even though it can be work, I enjoy doing it with my favorite gals. We make amazing meals together and it is always appreciated. Camp, for the most part, is the epitome of teamwork.

The most incredible part of all this is that "Camp" started out as a ride in the country for a father, his wife and their children. I have no idea how long ago that was. Since then, they and countless friends and family have come to gather in this special place to enjoy each other, fine food and God's land. So many have stood to admire the view at peak season in the fall. It serves as a hunting camp as well ( I don't want to know what happens at hunting camp!). Camp has taught many great lessons and served the family well over the years. In the past, potatoes have been grown and harvested as well as Christmas trees. The value of hard work and the dollar it earns was learned. Working together as a family. All four of Larry and Sharon's children have grown and now own a piece of this heaven. There is tradition here.

This weekend I saw the excitement in my children too. All the way there, my littlest kept asking, "Are we at camping yet?". One morning, my oldest little guy, lay in his bed, looking up, hands behind his head and said, "I never want to leave Camp, mommy". I know Bubba, I know just how you feel. I am so greatful for that invitation so many years ago. It has been, by far, the most priceless invite I was ever given.

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Obstacles...My Life

I have been trying to think of how I can continue to write. Clearly, things are not going as I hoped. I haven't given up, it's just been small changes. How do I write about such little things? I don't want to sit here and write about the same, well, almost nothing. But you know what? I started this because I knew I wasn't the only one out there. I wanted to give a voice to all those suffering the same, feeling the same, wanting the same. Those who felt they were all alone. I wanted to be sure to reach out to all of them, you. I wanted to diminish those feelings and inspire others. I wanted to help. I WANT to help. I am not done. Obstacles. That's all. Have you heard the expression, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans."? I make Him laugh, daily!

So what's been happening? Simply put, I feel like crap. I hurt. All over. There is a cane next to my bed because when I get up, I can barely walk. Once I start to move a little, it gets better. This happens EVERY TIME I SIT, for any length of time. Sometimes, I just go into the bedroom and flop my upper half onto the bed, feet still on the ground. I do this, because I am in need of a rest, but don't want to sit because getting up can be so painful. I am sure this makes things worse, because I don't allow myself the rest I need. If you know me, it is nearly impossible for me to sit still. I am in constant motion, constant project mode always trying to get that "one more thing in". I am not sure if I wrote about this before, but my husband witnessed just how bad it can get. It was the end of the day, I sat down for a bit. When I got up, I started down the hallway, turned into the bedroom and just flopped into the bed (upper half only again). This all happened in one motion. Stopping once I am in motion is also painful, so I just kept moving until I could "fall" into something. He knew I was hurting, but hadn't seen this before. I got the lecture ("you have to stop, rest, take care of yourself...."). Yeah right.

On top of all this, what I initially thought was a strained muscle in my back turned out to be a pretty nasty infection of the kidney. Three weeks later and I am finally feeling better. This is all so incredibly frustrating, infuriating, to me. Last year at this time I discovered I had a broken foot (that I walked around for a month on without knowing it was broken). Three months of recovery and I thought I was on my way. Until this past fall. I was sick and let it go too far. I was then, very sick. Fluid around my heart and lungs. I was very lucky that I recovered. But, it took, what seemed like, forever to fully recover and my energy level to return to normal. I have only been back to "normal" for a couple of months now. Eager to get on with things, changes. Except now, I feel pretty bad.

I have finally talked with the doctors about the aches and such and I am getting tests done to get to the bottom of it all. I had been putting it off. So far, as of Friday, I have completed almost all the tests requested. Now we wait. I just was hesitant because I don't want to have to take any medications. I hate taking meds. Need to find natural alternatives.

And that brings me to this past weekends events. A couple years ago, I was put on anti-anxiety medication. I had been on something similar for depression in the past, but this time, I was having panic attacks. If you have never had one before...WONDERFUL! They are downright scary! This is the longest I have ever been on anything like this. I tried last year to wean off, against the doctors advise. She thought my life was still a bit "hectic". She said this as I sat in her little examination room with five little children lined up against the wall behind her. She turned to look at them and then back at me again. They were just a fraction of my responsibility (as well as, the most enjoyable). I hate taking the meds. I feel like a failure. Failure. Failure. Failure. Get it? Even though, she explained to me that I had an incredible amount of responsibility on my shoulders and it (Lexapro) was a crutch. It was actually healthier for me and my body to be on them than not. At that time, she was right. I decided to stick with it. Since then, things have eased up considerably. I am ready to try again. After taking the last pill. I decided I was done. So, Friday I was fine. Saturday, I thought good. Then Sunday! I woke with a familiar feeling. Jolts. My brain felt like it was short-circuiting. I've experienced this before. Last time, I was just too busy to bother taking the meds. That awful feeling was so bad, I don't think I have missed a dose since then. I think I understand why addicts are so willing to get their hands on another fix. The feeling is terrible. You can actually hear your brain "misfiring" I don't know how else to describe it. It sounds like little zaps. And I get a headache and very dizzy...and tired. So I had the script refilled. feeling much better now. I will be properly weaning myself off. I really hope I can be done.

Please, if you are taking something, do not feel as though I think any less of you. You see, for me, I feel as though I should be able to handle things better. I know so many out there that can and do. This is my own hang-up. Also in the back of my head is my mother's voice ridiculing me for having to resort to such measures. In her eyes, counseling was a great sign of weakness on my part. Years later, I discovered that it was more about her own insecurities and not my weakness. Again, my own hang-up. Not yours. I do think that there is a time and place for such aids. I think that they can be very beneficial. I am glad that I accepted and tolerated them over the past few years. I do believe that they made me a better wife, mother and friend at a time when I could have failed so many in my lost and semi-panicked state. Life is for living, not just getting through. If medication helps you to do it, then do it. Let it help you find your way through the mess and see you through to the other side. I would be lying to you if I said I wasn't a bit worried that I am not quite ready. If I am not, I won't wait as long to get help. I am that clear now.

So these are the things happening. Add on the spring factor and all the things that need to get done. I am also the house mechanic and getting our lawn mowers and such up and running is keeping me very busy. Our son has also started baseball and there is piano, school, extra children, etc. In all this, I have been able to keep up on water and drinking unsweetened iced tea (and coffee, of course!). Need to push those fruits and veggies though. I think for some guidance and because a friend is doing it, I will do the South Beach lifestyle. This has been recommended by a couple of my docs. We'll see. One day at a time.

***A side note here. I should also state that taking the medication gave me a sense of clarity that I otherwise would not have had. The meds cleared away the haze and helped me greatly to see things for what they were. It is for this reason alone that I wish I hadn't been so resistant to taking them a long time ago. I can say that I am stronger and more focused. I see what matters, what doesn't and what can go to hell! I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Don't Count Me Out Just Yet!

I know, I know. It has been a while. I haven't stopped working towards my goals, just trying to keep up with my frantic pace in life! I have also been feeling a bit under the weather and trying to ignore it all at the same time. I will be confronting all that later this afternoon. In the meantime, I am resting, so I have time to sit and write.

So, as I stated above, I am still making changes for a healthier lifestyle. It hasn't been easy, but I am making progress. No Pepsi (boo-hoo). More water and only unsweetened iced tea for me these past several weeks now. I eat before I leave or prepare myself before we go where I could go and what I could get. No more rushing to order. I have to thank all the fine eating establishments for being VERY patient with me whilst I choose wisely!

If you were in OP last week and on the very same road I traveled at the very same moment, you may have observed something "odd". We had been very busy prepping our house and yard for Emily's upcoming party for her First Communion. This left me with very little time to think about, much less prepare meals for dinner. I had to run out and gather more supplies and decided that I would pick up Arby's for the children on the way home. I did the drive through and proceeded on home. Something strange came over my hand. The smell of the seasoned curly fries possessed it. The next thing I knew, my hand left the steering wheel and attempted to dive into the bag containing the fries!! Hell NO! I pulled the car over. Right there on Milestrip Road (just before Target). Grabbed the bags, got out of the car, walked all the way to the very back, opened the hatch to the minivan and THREW the bags in there!!! HA! Got in the FRONT of the car and drove away. I could still smell them...but I couldn't reach them. In days past, this would not have been the case! I went home and enjoyed my salad (with controlled amounts of dressing) from Olive Garden and less than half of the entree I got to go with it. Proud moment!

So I am still in the game. Just moving slower than I would like to. On the advise of a beautiful and smart little friend of mine, I am going to tear down some walls and address some issues I have been avoiding today. Maybe then I can progress more quickly. I've got great plans for myself and nothing is gonna stop me!!

By the way...2.4 pounds...GONE!!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Lucky Girl

Feeling sexy is: walking into your local Tractor Supply store, dressed for a fancy evening out. Whoa Doggie! Did we turn heads! Felt good! Damn good! I knew what they were all were drooling as I reached up to select the proper air filter for my lawn tractor (without any help). In their minds, they were watching in slow motion. Darn! I should have shaken my sexy hair for them as I pulled the filter from it's peg. All this attention made me fergit my big girl status for a bit. Seriously though. I knew what they were all really thinking. "What in tarnation?!? Somebody help those folks. They're lost and think this is one of dem there cute little novelty shops!"

That is not how we intended our evening to play out. There was an installation dinner being held for our fire company. For as long as I have been a member, it has always been held at a nearby country club. Not this year. And somehow, I missed the change. Which is crazy, because change doesn't happen easily or without a lot of noise there. Don't get me wrong, it is a wonderful organization filled with compassionate and courageous people, but, as in most the same, what is done (for the most part!) is always done the same! So, after hubby dropped me off at the pretty big white doors, I waited outside for him to return to me after parking the car. As he approached, I noticed him, really noticed him. He was walking towards me, one hand in his pocket. which pushed his jacket to the side and I thought to myself, "I am a lucky girl." And it was that moment right there that determined how the rest of the evening would play out.

Together, we walked in and I was hit with an odd feeling. Where were all my girls? The men? Scanning the room, nothing was familiar. We asked a staff member about our party and he informed us that it was not there. Walking out the big pretty white doors my mind was spinning. "Think! Think! What was said, what did you miss?" I knew that we had the date right. There had been a lot of chatter leading up to tonight. I assured Jim that, yes! It is tonight, people were posting like mad about it on Facebook. I called the only cell number I could remember at that point and of course no answer. How could she answer over all the laughter, conversation and with a drink in her hand? Come on! I home(to check the machine)...darn it! Emily must have left the phone off the hook after calling Dzia to confirm their plans for the evening. Smart girl. Confirm your plans! So that was it. We were done. Going home to check the pile of mail for the newsletter (I never read) that could contain the location of this most special event was out of the question, since it would make us too late.

"Where do you want to go for dinner?" James asks me. "I am sorry." I tell him. "For what?" he replies. "For not paying more attention. What about Olive Garden?". As deflated as we both felt that our plans fell through, we both knew we couldn't let this evening go to waste. The kids were staying over at their Bousha & Dzia Dzia's (Grandparents) house overnight. We were free! The headache I had been nursing all day had gone away and we were both exhausted from the week's work and such, but going home was not an option. Besides, we were both all gussied up!

As we were about to pass it , we decided to drop off two old tractor batteries that we in the car at Tractor Supply. I had been working on getting our lawn tractors up and running this week. I also needed a new air filter. As I previously stated, it was a pretty humorous event. I was paying for the multi-tool we found for Ethan and new ball for the hitch when I suddenly realize, "I forgot the filter!". Jim says, "I'll get the car." This is how our marriage runs. I'm Mrs. Fixit and he's my Mr. I"ll Dowhateveryouneedjusttellme. It works. So off I went to the isle to retrieve my filter, where I helped another gentleman pick his out, paid for my newest item and left. Knowing that the whole time the guy at the register was scratching his head over our visit.

On our way to OG, we were joking about our trip to TS. I commented on how over my past few visits there this week, I observed several people with an accent, the southern type. I wondered why. This made Jim slip into his "farmer Jim" accent. I told him how nice I thought he looked tonight and commented that people in the store were wondering how I ever snagged him. He laughed and reminded me that he always has thought I was well out of his league. Jokingly, I said, "Yep! And so you made me fat so you never had to worry about another looker!" In the "Farmer Jim" accent, he replied, "Yeah, I like my women like I like my farm animals. Fat and happy!" We both laughed. And this is so not true! We both know I outweigh him by quite a bit (bastard that can eat anything!) and this is something he never imagined he would desire. But I was able to laugh with him about it. He loves me. No matter what. I was becoming more comfortable in my own skin. The hate for myself, my body is disappearing. And while that shows nothing on the scale, it shows a lot for my image of my self worth.

That has been happening more and more over the past month or so. Getting dressed is not as hard as it used to be. Acceptance. Knowing that I am changing. Understanding that it will take time. Acceptance even as I look in the mirror. It's all good.

So we went to Olive Garden. We talked without any interruptions other than our waitress checking in to see that we had everything we needed. There was real conversation (no spelling out words, editing, implying). Real listening. Real understanding. Refocus and re-center. Remarkably, the same thing had been on both of our minds lately. It was an event that happened last fall and we both had been thinking about it. It wasn't anything between us, but something that hurt us both deeply. We reassured each other and enjoyed our meal together. In the end, I knew we really do get each other.

What could have been a disastrous evening, turned out to be something quite wonderful and truly needed. Life is funny that way sometimes. Last night we just rolled with the punches and everything was alright. Starting with the moment my DH was walking toward me and I noted what a lucky girl I was. I am.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pushing Through

Can't sleep. It is 5:30 am and I have been laying in bed, awake since before 3am. This has been going on for awhile. I wake up with my joints aching and can't get back to sleep. I lay there rotating my ankles and stretching my feet and legs out. The lower joint pain has been going on for a long time, what's more recent is the ALL OVER joint paint. I have decided to go with the cortisone shots. I have been putting this off for a year now. I kept thinking, "just let me get some of this weight off and I am sure I'll find some relief." Nope. There seems to be this vicious cycle going on. I attempt to work out and my joints hurt so badly, I stop. Do some yard work and at the end of the night, I am in so much pain. As long as I am in motion, it's not so bad. It's when I stop. I sit there dreading having to get up because the pain is rough. The medicine I have been prescribed is no help at all. So I will have them inject my foot area with the hopes that I can at least tolerate exercise as well as normal daily activity. That's the plan for now.

This hasn't changed my plans for a healthier me though. I still haven't lost my first five, but that's alright. I am still learning. Yesterday, something amazing happened...I was in this house WITHOUT a single child! OMG! Great! Because I was on a mission. Fix the lawn mower. So for the most part, while I was child-free, I was removing parts, looking up parts, shopping for parts. The children arrived just in time for me to reinstall the parts. I fixed the lawn mower! So, of course, I HAD to mow the lawn, which turned into raking the yard, trimming and burning sticks. Before I knew it, it was 8pm. Nobody had eaten dinner. Because nobody fixed dinner. So, we went out for dinner. I should also mention that I hadn't eaten all day. This is typical for me when I don't pay attention. I just keep going and try to squeeze in everything I can, except time for me to nourish myself. I'll stop to feed the kids, but then, I jump right back into what I was doing. In my mind, there is no time to stop. My life is constantly in a you never know what is going to happen state. So I try to make the most of the time I have.

We went to Applebee's. All I could think of on the way there was the Chicken Quesadilla. I was so hungry I could taste it. Never mind the wonderful healthier menu choices they have. My hunger took over. My mind agreed. Chicken Quesadilla it is. Oh, but then, my sister ordered French Onion soup. A favorite of mine. I almost ordered a salad and at the last minute, my deprived belly called out, "I'll have the French onion too, please!". Darn it! I had been doing so much better. I don't even allow myself pop any more. I hate diet pop and I am pretty touchy about water. Too many times I order water, only to find it tastes awful and inevitably drink from my hubby's glass or order pop. However, I have always loved unsweetened iced tea and order that where it is available. I ordered it last night as well. It so refreshing.

I understand that the queadilla was not the best choice. But the addition of the French Onion soup was just bad. So, it came out and I looked down at it and ate two spoonfuls and pushed it off to the side. I couldn't do it. I knew I ordered without thinking it through better. I was already treating myself to a dinner out and quesadillas. That was enough and I needed to be in control. My daughter discovered that she likes French onion soup too. She really enjoyed it and I was content with that.

Thinking back, I was extremely thirsty when I first started dreaming about what I would eat. I should have stopped and had some water before we left. I was also extremely hungry (remember, no food ALL day). We always have plenty of fruit in the house. I should have grabbed a banana or something to eat on the way. Even a handful of nuts would have been smart. I'm not beating myself up over this though. Although what I did was mindless at first, I did stop and think about it before eating the soup. That's progress in my book. I see the importance of eating throughout the day.

My life is crazy busy. That's not going to change any time soon. It is a pace I am comfortable with and don't know if I could function any other way. Small changes, tweaking here and there is the way I need to do this. I have met several challenges in the short time I have been doing this, all of them taking me to a new level. I'll find my way through this most recent challenge (joint issues), but it doesn't mean I have to stop what I am doing. There are so many changes that I have to make if I want this to be a life long change. Working out is important, but it is not the only key to success. My success.

I would like to acknowledge a friend here for her great efforts in working out. Way to go Mishelle!!! I think of you all the time and how awesome you must be feeling in every way! Soon enough, I will be on your tail girl!! So proud and so thankful to call you friend! And another I am thankful to call friend, Ironmamma! Ride like the wind baby!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Still in the Game!

If you have been following this, I am sure you've wondered where I have been. I'm still here. I guess the best explanation is that last weekends events knocked a good amount of wind out of my sails. Notice I didn't say it knocked all the wind out. Still enough to break the slow, but steady stride I had going on. My shoe came untied and I had to stop to re-tie it.

That being said, I am back in. Slowly changing my eating habits and trying to get some moves in. Changing my eating habits is the easy part. It's that exercising that is troublesome to me. I am sure that I will lose just by changing how often and what I eat, but I would like to get a good routine going to increase my potential. This is not an excuse, I am just lacking the time. Seriously, if you were here with me, you would understand. I am sure there are opportunities I am missing, but I am not seeing where.

I know I said that I would start to journal last week. I didn't. I will now though. I was still in a bit of a fog last week and recovering. Also started new medication. I HATE to take anything, so for me to ask, says A LOT! I have arthritis and my joints ached so badly, I wasn't sleeping. I was given 500mg 2x/day of naproxin. Worked great, at first and then last week, I realized not so much anymore. Now I am on Lodine. I am sure the extra weight on my joints is making matters worse, but I hope to be able to not have to take anything at all. Although, my Aunt is trying to convince me to eat 9 gin-soaked raisins each day. Sounds fantastic to me! Still though, I have never been this heavy and everything is more painful and awkward. Even my beloved yoga. Sigh. I don't think I have ever breathed this heavy while exercising in the past either. Very discouraging to say the least.

So, my shoes are tied, I have brushed myself off and I am moving forward, still. I have a recipe I would like to share. It is by far one of the most refreshing (and pretty) snack, meal...whatever. I usually eat it with tortilla chip, but need to find a healthier alternative. If you have any suggestions, please share!

Summer Salsa

1 green sweet pepper - diced
1 red sweet pepper - diced
1 yellow sweet pepper - diced
1 orange sweet pepper - diced
1 jalapeno pepper (optional) - finely chopped
1 red onion - diced
Fresh cilantro - chopped

Mix all the above together. Then squeeze the juice of 1 lime over the mixture. Stir and enjoy!!!

This is really so tasty, refreshing and so pretty to serve!

That is all I have to share for now. I am just happy to be "back".

Monday, April 12, 2010

Coming Together

Sunshine and the beginning of a new week. I am starting to think that the events of this past weekend and such were needed. Another step closer to the top. Someone I can call a good friend told me I had to step into the fire. I danced in it. I survived it. I learned from it. And now I can move forward. This won't be easy and that's alright. I am not easily defeated. Push me and I may walk away. Hit me, I'll duck. Try to silence me, I'll scream louder.

There is no "starting over", because there is no end to what I am doing. I move forward every day trying to make myself aware of the choices I make. Stepping stones and building blocks. That is how I will make this work. If I spend all my time constantly tearing down to start over again, I'll never get anywhere. I will expect MORE of myself, not less. I need to eat MORE, I need to exercise MORE, I need to stop and really breathe, MORE! Move forward, towards the next marker. See what you all do for me? Little words of encouragement, goals, advice, honesty. It helps me and I get to pass it on to all of you. I love you all for your part in this.

Journal. That is my goal for this week. I think I may have promised that before. It didn't happen so I am committing to it again. I know that it will be beneficial in helping me to determine several patterns. Lets see how I do. I just got a new scanner, so I may consider sharing the journal with all of you once in a while(Mishelle..I may need your help for that part!).

I also have measurements. I will be putting these up too. Why not? I am just not sure how often I need to remeasure. I think I would like to have a running progress chart. If I can figure out how to get a full length picture on here too, I suppose I should do that as well.

If any of you would like to join me in this, I would love it. You don't have to put your names up and it doesn't matter how little or large your goals are. I have a friend who, by all accounts is little. But she always has this 5 pounds she wants to lose. Personally, I would love to have only five to lose. But they are her 5 and they are no different than my 100+. She doesn't want them and either do I. In the end the goal is the same. So I will have to get help in getting this set up and I will also need you. Please join me. If you have any suggestions, you can post or email me as you have been.

We are not alone. Let's get together on this.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


After an emotional evening last night, I sit here with some serious bags under my eyes. I am still waiting for that much needed hug from you know who. I am wondering if he really even realizes what occurred yesterday. Seriously though, how could he not? I don't want that whole awkward confrontational moment either. Just a hug and "you can do this" would be nice. I don't want and shouldn't have to ask. Over. Done with. Oh well.

I cannot, however, ignore the outpouring support that made my cup runith over shortly after my blog posted. I know that it may be redundant, but I can't thank you enough. Your messages are personal, kind and so supportive. There is a wonderful exchange and I can't believe that we are able to touch each other's lives in such an amazing way. This is where I think technology excels. We are a busy society and sometimes it seems as though we have forgotten those small touches. You know, the human ones. But most of us sit down with or glance at a computer or phone at some point in the day and are instantly connected. We can share, send support or hello's, i.e." I am thinking of you" in an instant. We connect. That's important.

I mentioned yesterday that this week has been full of "rough" spots. I am still trying to process some of them and figure out how I want to deal with it all. I know that this "blog thing" is good for me and others as well. Not everybody is on board with that theory. I have been asked to "edit" what I am writing. There is a fear that I could cause some unnecessary drama. So I am supposed to edit my feelings and truths. While I do not want to cause any undo "drama", I do want to be able to speak freely. This angers me. Quite a bit actually. I have been put in a really tough spot here. I am not one to ignore others feelings. I spend a lot of time thinking about how my actions affect others. For the first time, I decided that I needed to do something for myself. And just so we are all clear...there is a TON of editing that happens. Not about my feelings, but I am very careful about how I put certain things out there. I think I do a pretty go job of it and I also feel it helps to keep me focused on what I am really writing about. Either way, I have to find a way to get around this. I have thought of no longer linking the blog to Facebook, changing my name or whatever. Then, what is the point? I have no idea how to go about this.

This whole thing is really bothering me. There are these mixed feelings of "how can you ask that of me?" and "I feel so bad. I don't want you to worry. I promise I'll stop.". If you know me at all, you know that this is tearing me up inside. I would be lying to you if I said I have never thought of just up and deserting my family (not MY own kids, hubby, etc). It seems it would just be easier that way. I am so different from them and for most of my life seem to cause them strife in one way or another. But I love my sisters so much and now they have children. Walking away has never really been an option. I do sometimes think it would be easier on them though. I am in a different place than they are. And I have never shared the same spot in the family as they have. That is not a woe is me statement, that's the truth and they will tell you the same. There are major differences in our relationships with our parents. I am from my mother's previous marriage. My sisters are both from her second marriage. I have never called my dad a "step" dad. He's just always been "dad". My existence is an awful reminder to both my mother and dad. My mom has admitted I am a mistake and that my face reminds her of someone she hates. I have been told that I ruined her life, her health, etc. I was a good kid, I have been told that. Not the ideal relationship, you see. I spent years protecting, making excuses for, lying about and mostly trying to please someone who would never be pleased with me. All this and so much more...stuffed, crammed inside of me. It hurt so bad. I edited a great deal here.

So one day, I decided, no more! I will exist, with or without your approval. I stopped trying to prove myself, to please. I accepted that this was my lot in life and was actually thankful for the strength I found in it. I couldn't be broken. I think that's what angers some the most. Now I am just "there". No more trying to please. I am who I am. What a release! Not everybody is comfortable with this.

I am not comfortable in being selfish. Which is what I think this is being taken as. It is not. I made choices for and because of love I had for two of the most special people in my life. To a certain extent, I have to let go. I hope there is enough love and understanding for this choice I am making. I hope. I honestly think this could be the most healthy choice of all.

Well, it's about time I get moving. We have to get ready for church. I have a feeling tears are inevitable this Sunday. Good Lord! I already look a wreck!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Painful Truth

So today has been one of those rough days. Actually the past week has been filled with rough moments, none relating to today's, but still, rough. As I sit here and write this, tears are making tracks on my face. Once again, none of this is going to be easy to write about, but I want to because you have let me know, I am not alone.

It started this afternoon. A man and his daughters came to our house to pick up a camper we sold to them. When they arrived, my son looked at them out the window and said, "mama, they are just like you". They were all overweight. I kinda looked down at him, not sure how to react. My husband and I went outside to greet them. I had to come back in to locate the papers and such. While I was frantically looking through the files for what I needed, my husband came down and informed me that he had to call our children in because they were outside talking about how fat they (our guests) all were. Now, my first reaction was shock. How could my children, how dare they, talk to or about anyone in such away. I was embarrassed. Secondly, did our guests hear what my nasty children were saying? (We don't think so). Apparently the kids were just talking about fat people and skinny people. I am hoping they weren't intending to be cruel. I'd like to think they know better and don't have it in them to be as such.

On with the day. I am in the beginning stages of a transformation. Chin up. Move on. And so I did. We had to attend our son's dinner for Cub Scouts. I tried to dress and make myself look and feel as good as I could. Reminding myself that it doesn't matter how I look. I am making changes and it will take time. Keep going. Then we walked into the gym where the dinner was being held. Tables were set up with tiny, rickety wooden chairs. Clearly, they did not see me coming. I reluctantly sat in one all the while praying that it wouldn't collapse beneath me. I was also trying to ignore that my jeans were just a bit uncomfortable. " It's OK there are several people in this room who love you, like you, no matter what. Hang in there. Next year at this dinner, no worries. You can do this." And then I looked around the room, searching for anyone in my situation. Nope. I was alone. I was the biggest one there. Then, this amazing thing happened. Mommy pride kicked in and I was able to put my worries in the back of my mind. That was my boy up there, getting awards, breaking records with friends, smiling. God, I love him. I love who I became because of him. That's my boy. I still worried about the chairs, but not as badly. I had more important things to focus on.

Now came the ride home. Somehow the topic of fat people came up again. I turned the radio off and said, "You know guys, besides it being hurtful to other people, you are hurting mommy and daddy too. Because being your mommy and daddy is the most important job we will ever have. When you say things that are unkind, we have to think that we are not doing our job properly. We are supposed to teach you many things. Being kind is one of them. You are right, mommy is fat and I am working on trying to become healthier so that I can feel good and be around for a long long time. But when someone tells you that you are fat, it is hurtful and not helpful. I know it makes me very sad." Then Emily had something to say. "Mommy, you know when you brought in my treats for Valentine's Day? Lauren said to me that you were really fat." All I could tell her was that I was sorry. And I am. This was the day I never wanted to happen. I never wanted and always feared that my children would be ashamed of me. I was her blemish. I am so very sorry. What else was I supposed to say?

So here I sit at the bottom of this very tall and intimidating mountain. I have every desire in the world to climb it. I would be lying if I said I am not feeling somewhat defeated at this moment. And yes, I am feeling a bit sorry for myself. I am also wondering how I am ever going to accomplish this.

We all know that children can be cruel. But they are also honest. They haven't learned to sugar coat the truth to make it easier to swallow. I know my children love me in such a way I have never been loved before. I think that is why what they had to say hurt so much. I have let them down. I am past those days of just being their hero because I could kiss the boo boo away or make them laugh when really they wanted to cry.

Now my husband was sitting in the car beside me for this conversation. He said nothing to me. I know he knows this has to hurt. Nothing. I can't help but feel as though he is silently punishing me. I know that he thinks I could be doing more. MORE. I am trying. This is not easy and I am not sure he understands my approach. If you have never been in this situation, fat, I think it is very hard to understand what it is like. Tonight, in this house, I feel very isolated. I could really use a hug and some understanding. My pride won't let me ask for what I really need more than anything right now. So really, I am punishing myself. Partly because I am afraid of having to explain anything at all or having him think I am asking him to overlook my missteps. I don't want to hear how he thinks it should happen. I just want a hug. Just 'cause.

So, that was my day today. I need a hero.