Saturday, September 5, 2009

I'll Be Back

I am not yet able to write very much about my adventures and experiences of the past couple of weeks. I am getting by. I am doing what has to be done, taking care of my children, schooling them, feeding them, cleaning up after them. Honestly, I don't think I would have even been able to pull off this basic level of parenting lately without the assistance of my sister, Gigi.

I am now seeing a specialist who has changed all my meds, and, most helpfully I hope, referred me to a therapist. The downside of this is that the last remnants of my appetite have gone. No eating = no energy. I need to exercise, to move my body in order to get better. I do not believe medicine alone can cure a person. I believe in treating the whole person: body, mind, spirit.

I will talk. I will eat. I will move about and help my body stay strong.
I will be better. I will be better soon. I demand it of myself.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Late Monday night, after all the kids were asleep, I started to feel that weird combination of symptoms that heralds a panic attack. Chest tight, breathing shallow, hands shaking, heart racing. A quick scan of the medicine basket revealed no Ativan, no Klonopin, no Valium and two cigarettes.

This seemed like a good time to indulge in some medicinal tobacco. Praying to Jehovah, Jesus, Mary, and Allah (for good measure) that my kids would not wake up, I sneaked outside with the cigarette and a candle lighter the approximate length of my forearm. It took me four tries to light up. I couldn't draw breath enough to smoke it. I don't remember where I disposed of it. I don't even remember if I went out front or out back.

Next, I think I tried some deep breathing and meditating, to no avail. I'm crap at meditation. I then tried to distract myself on the Internet. Facebook, Twitter, my Google Reader, nothing held my attention.

I decided to drink a glass of Chardonnay and take a hot bath. I drank a little wine and threw it up while my bath was running. By the time I got out of the tub, I was in truly bad shape. I called my sister, Gigi, and asked her to come over. I vomited some more. I took my own blood pressure, 190/98, pulse 140. When Gigi got here, we decided together it was time to go to the emergency room.

I must have looked pretty bad, or they were afraid I was having a heart attack, or maybe it was a slow night for emergencies, but they took me directly back. First I had an EKG to rule out heart problems. Fairly shortly, I had an IV and 2 mg of Ativan in my system. I don't know how much later, but it couldn't have been long, we were on the way home. When we got there, the kids were all up and Gigi cooked breakfast.

I phoned and got an appointment with my regular doctor's office. I drove myself to my noon appointment. Without examining me very much at all, other than pulling off EKG electrodes I didn't realize I still wore, the doctor referred me for a psychological evaluation. I thought this was a bit much. I did not feel like one panic attack requiring an emergency room visit called for a psych eval, but, as the psychiatrist's office was just down the street, and psychological care is covered at 100% while Captain T is out of country, I went.

I was surprised that the first visit did not involve seeing a doctor. I filled out a bunch of paperwork and a couple of assessments, and a nurse told me they would call me with my next appointment time. I then drove home, picked up my children, and met Kim and Alexis at the park for a play date. After an hour or so, I drove back home. (I am chronicling all of this running around for a reason, and I hope you are not bored.)

I drove to Tapa's house for supper, then drove home. I spoke on the phone with Gigi, and she decided to come spend the night, just in case I needed her. (Allow me to interject here that my sister is beyond awesome.) I finally relaxed with another adult in the house, and I slept more consecutive hours than I have in years.

This morning, I tried to go about business as usual with our school day. It occurred to me late morning that I had not bathed since Sunday (unless you count my late Monday night bath, no soap involved.) I have never gone that long without washing. During my bath, I reflected on the craziness of the past few days. I had to admit to myself that showing up to a doctor's appointment unwashed, hair greasy, wearing no make-up or jewelry, with electrodes stuck to my skin, thirteen pounds lighter than at my last appointment seemed like probable grounds for a psych eval.

It also dawned on me during this time that I had gone 36 hours with no sleep, even after 2 mg of IV Ativan. I had driven over 100 miles, part of those with three kids in the van. I know what 2 mg of Ativan does to a person because I have worked in the health care field. It scared me that my body and mind were so wired up that I was not knocked out by the drug.

I have been doing some hard thinking today. I have got to let go of some of my fears somehow. I must stop walking around afraid of what will happen next. I have to figure out a way to relax my body and mind. There has to be a state of mind better than the one in which I currently live. I am going to keep my first appointment with that psychiatrist.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wonder and Doubt

I wrote this several weeks ago. I decided to publish it tonight. I don't know why.

As I sit up waiting for a phone call from Afghanistan that may or may not come, my mind wanders, and I find myself looking back on some things that shaped my life.

I am considering the idea of "burning in Hell." Will I burn in hell if I don't subscribe to your concept of God?

I lived in fear for most of my life that I would burn in hell if I did not choose to believe and/or profess to believe a certain set of rules about religion, God and behavior. I've been told time and again that any nagging thoughts or doubts are a test of faith, but...

What if God wants us to wonder and doubt? Why did God allow us such intelligence and curiosity if we are expected to squelch it, to be embarrassed of it, to fear it. Do the thoughts and doubts in our heads (the ones we can't help, the ones we may wish to be without), prove that we aren't worthy, and that our faith isn't strong enough? That just doesn't make sense to me.

What if we let it go? What if we allowed ourselves to enjoy our curious and mischievous minds? What if we could accept ourselves as we are, and stop trying to mold our minds and hearts to match the cookie-cutter ideal of those around us? What if we celebrated and gave thanks that we are capable of doubt and wonder? How good would it feel to throw off decades of guilt and remorse?

I think that might be what freedom feels like.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Baby Hedwig

I sit here holding my youngest son's lovey. Her name is Baby Hedwig, and she has been a part of our family for many years. I am holding her tonight because he went to bed without her. My youngest son has gone to sleep without his lovey. I didn't realize this would be a sad occasion.

I have, over the past few years, had a love/hate relationship with Baby Hedwig. I have loved her because, besides being very cute and cuddly, she has given my dear B many days and nights of comfort. She has been with him through such trials as Daddy leaving and surgery.

I have hated her because, on numerous occasions, I have been made to run late or waste gasoline by cries of, "Baby Hedwig! She got left at home!"
Oh, yes. I have cursed that owl. I have dreamed of the day when Baby Hedwig could be left at home or even, perhaps, forgotten at Nanny's house without need of sending out a search party.

Tonight, I found Baby Hedwig lying forgotten on the kitchen table.

I picked her up and held her. My baby boy no longer needs his Baby Hedwig. And, Baby Hedwig, if he doesn't need you, maybe he needs me just a little less too.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Not Quite WordlessWednesday

B Gets an Adenoidectomy and Ear Tubes

The doctor came in to meet everyone in the pre-op room, and the nurse took a picture. The lovely lady in front is my mother, Nanny.

The doctor had a little surprise for B. (He is now calling this dog his "souvenir.")

We waited a while. We got a little bored and Nanny took another picture.

We waited a little more. B faked a nap.

B's friend Hedwig needed an operation, too.

They let her stay with him the whole time.

When we got home, B was starving. He needed some Jello.

Wow. He's very hungry.

"He didn't save me any."

Soon, B felt well enough to play on the computer.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Stanley Does a Trick or Two

You can teach a cat tricks, but he will do them when only when he feels like it.

Let me tell you right away that I am not good with the camera, and this was done with my iPhone. The quality is low, but the cuteness factor is high. I also managed to cut off the beginning. The missing audio is me saying, "Uh-oh," which prompts him to fall down. It's short and sweet.

Wow, I have an annoying voice.

Let me know if you like it, and I'll film him giving H high five.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


In honor of World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August 2009), I have decided to share with you a few funny anecdotes from my memories of nursing three boys.

I nursed all three of my boys, the longest being around 18 months. I am all for breastfeeding, and yet, I realize different families have different needs. I applaud the working mother who provides her infant with those vital six weeks of initial nutrition, while I support the right of the mother who chooses to nurse her child far beyond the time that felt right for me. There are plenty of posts you can read if you are looking for reasons to nurse your children, or even to bottle-feed them. I shall assume that readers who have gotten this far are breastfeeding mothers or supportive friends, and I will provide you now with a bit of humor.

I nursed my firstborn for only a few months. He was breast- and bottle-fed, but he doesn't remember any of this, and assumes, as he can only remember seeing his little brothers and cousins being nursed, that, of course, that's how babies are fed. When my second child, J, was less than a year old, we went to have family photos made at a Sears store in our local mall. A mother in the waiting area was feeding her child from a bottle. H, around six years old at the time, was mesmerized. I vaguely remember trying to call his attention to other things, but he was only interested in this baby eating out of a glass device. When I finally got him settled back with the family, he told me with evident respect,"That baby is only six months old and already he knows how to drink out of a bottle!"

And much more recently: A sample pack of formula from WalMart showed up in our mailbox. I saved it knowing that my cousin was planning to return to work, and figuring on saving her some money. This canister of baby formula caught the attention of my youngest, who asked many eager questions about it. I even found him playing with it a few times, pretending to sell it in his "store." I decided the time had come to explain what was in the canister. I told him that some mothers could not nurse their babies, and so they bought artificial baby milk at the grocery store. His response, which I will never forget,"Wow. They must have a lot of extra money."

One last story. This one may not be funny, but if you have read this far, please keep it up. It will be worth your extra minute. I nursed my second child, J, until I was 4 or 5 months along with B, and my breasts became so sore, I had to wean him. J was old enough by this time to remember nursing, which he called "nu-nu." Even when B was born, he still remembered nursing to some extent. A couple of days after B was born, J crawled into my lap and said clearly, "I want nu-nu." He was so small, barely past two. Even though he had been weaned for months, I offered him my breast. He barely even tried to nurse. He snuggled into my chest and breathed a heavy sigh as I rocked him in the rocking chair. I don't know how long I held him there and rocked him, without nursing him. He came to me regularly over the next few weeks (or months, my memory is not the best) asking for nu-nu. I no longer tried to nurse him, but held him close and rocked him, and gave him exactly what he had asked me for.