Monthly Archives: January 2014

Vigil

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I am one of those people who is extremely uncomfortable when flying. There is something about being strapped into an extremely heavy object, in a relatively small space, thousands of feet above the planet where I belong, with NOTHING HOLDING ME UP. Something alarming. Thinking about this while in flight has resulted in some barely contained hysteria (not to mention several passengers around me drinking what seemed like an awful lot of wine), as I try to figure out how the mechanics of flight and the law of gravity could possibly come together peacefully! Luckily, I found a way to deal with it. By sheer force of my will alone, I have carried commercial flights half way across the United States. It is an awful lot of work, and I felt like I needed a serious massage by the time we touched down (Ah, sweet, sweet ground), AND, the armrests of my seat will forever bear the half moon scars of my finger nails…but I was able to pull it off.

I have employed this same fierce concentration while watching Ice skating in the winter olympics, but with much less success, and at traffic lights with hardly any success at all. And now, I have used it on my toddler. Not to break her will with my own, as you might assume. No, I don’t subscribe to that method of parenting (most of the time). This was far more serious…I stayed up the entire night listening to her breathe, cringing as she coughed and tried to clear her throat, using my amazing powers to keep her safe and alive, at least until morning.

I think I have had it with this illness. It was bad enough when I had it a few weeks ago, but it is far worse to watch your normally chipper, cheerful, happy, robust little girl reduced to a limp, hoarse, snorffling, feverish little waif, in a matter of mere days. Now my teenager seems to have yet another version of illness, previously unknown to this household. My resolve to be happy in spite of outside circumstances did not bargain for severely ill children. I’m sorry, my happy has fled the building. I mean, I’m happy that my babies are alive, happy that I can hear Cammy breathing relatively normally right this very second. I’m happy that all three times I lept out of bed and flipped the light on during the course of the night, Camryn wasn’t actually blue faced as I thought. That makes me happy, indeed.

I don’t like my inability to control my fear at all, though. I go from fine to the verge of a panic attack in nanoseconds, and most of the time, it’s in response to nothing more than my THOUGHTS. In other words, not an actual problem I am observing unfold, but an imaginary scenario that exists nowhere but between my ears.  I would like to learn to knock all that off, honestly. You know, I can, for a short period of time…until I forget, and Camryn coughs, or I begin to question my judgement about when, exactly, I should rush her to the hospital…and what if I’m too late?! What if I call 911 and they are all BUSY? What if I misunderstood the doctors directions, and my kid suffers permanent damage from my negligence?! Just writing it down, my heart begins to race. If only I could be calm, cool. collected instead of this hysteria prone, outburst having, raving harpy maniac I morph into. Even my best attempts to restrain or disguise my panic only result in that incredible tension that draws my shoulders up to my ears, cords to pop out in my neck, and anything I say shoot from my lips like poisonous darts or small but devastating bullets. Not to mention a definite forcefield of intensity three people deep all around me. The same forcefield,  I believe, that is strong enough to keep sky vehicles aloft. Or a very close relative.

It’s just that I love my kids SO much. I am so afraid of losing them that it actually nauseates me to consider. I remember when I held my oldest daughter for the first time, when I was just 22, and brimming with that special level of self absorbtion that only a very young, very ignorant girl can be full of. I was not prepared for the ramifications of actual, pure, REAL love in my life- I didn’t even know I didn’t know about it until I looked into that tiny face, and a pair of enormous, wise, brown eyes, fringed in long black lashes, looked back at me. I was like, “Uh-oh.”. I knew then, deep inside, that I was screwed. I now loved another human being enough to see myself and be displeased with things- things that had been totally no big deal a few months back. I now loved a person that wasn’t me, that I couldn’t control, that I didn’t even KNOW. And I was so right. I wasn’t her, I couldn’t control her (not in the ways that I wanted to), and I didn’t know her…not then. It only got worse when, 13 years later, I decided to try it all over again.

And so, I stayed up all night- all but maybe 45 minutes of fitful, jerky, dozing off, I prayed, I talked myself off of the ledge of panic a time or three. I felt my daughters feverish face, worried, watched cartoons that she likes, even though she was mostly asleep. I kept the age old vigil of mothers across time and the span of the world…all of us do it, at least once per child. I studied her face, I smoothed her curls back off her face. I lay my head gently on her chest, and listened to her breathe. I willed her to continue this habit for at least the next seventy years. There really is not sweeter sound, is there?

Exquisitly Tender, Beautiful, Bittersweet Life

Let me preface this by saying I really do not feel like writing right now. It is eleven o’clock on Monday night, and I am tired. I am also being subjected to Doc McStuffins, when I would way rather be watching New Adventures of Old Christine,  or something else fluffy and comforting, that would overshadow the never ending babble in my head enough to lull me to sleep. But I am afraid that if I don’t write this down now, tomorrow, the feelings will be faded and I won’t be able to access the words I want to get down…and also, I am learning to push a little harder to find space and time in my life for the things I really love (writing), and to relinquish a little control, to compromise sometimes (the Doc McStuffins thing).

So, here I sit. I don’t know if you noticed or not, but I am a little erratic, a little mercurial, and perhaps wound up just a wee bit tight. If you can sense it in my writing, imagine what it might be like living with me. No, seriously, imagine it, for a minute. Actually, never mind, stop imagining it, it upsets me. I want you to like me. I can joke about it all day long, but the reality is, I am a tyrant around here. Or, as I told my sister on the phone today, it crossed my mind that I am a bully. I use noise and menace and flat out threats of physical harm to keep things in line at home, and this extends to EVERY member of the household, right down to the animals. Now, this was never my intention, of course- as a matter of fact, I didn’t even realize the terrible extent of it until the other day.

Have you ever had something happen to you that forced you to suddenly see yourself the way you actually are, rather than the version of yourself that yourself allows you to see? Like, not the you that your coworkers think you are because when YOU tell the stories of your life to them, they get the benefit of your calm, and the things that you felt that led you to react to your husband/ child/ dog the way you did…not just your banshee screams and tantrum, barely intelligible tirade, slammed door, cold, dead silence? Because this has been my routine, this has been a pretty regular thing around here-REALLY regular- and I am betting that most of the time, my people here didn’t really know WHAT the fuck was wrong with me (now), or WHY I was so pissed off all the time. I didn’t even know. I feel like I have been upset for like two years, and it would fade for a while, but never actually resolve.

The other day, I was just miserable (again) and I had that gnawing, anxious, tense knot, right dead center in my stomach. When I feel that way, I get so antsy and unsettled, and it HURTS, but not just physically. It hurts emotionally, like, my feelings are on edge and crazy, achy. I don’t know what to do with that pain, or why it is even there, so I start looking for the source, or plausible stand in. Long story short, I heaped it somewhere it didn’t belong, and I think it was nearly the last straw. I looked at this person I love, deeply, and saw for the first time the strain loving me was causing them. And it horrified me. In that one tiny little moment, my entire perspective completely shifted, and I saw all of it- how caustic and awful I have been, and how totally self absorbed. I don’t want to totally bash myself, either, because I think that is a big part of the problem- when we aren’t happy with ourselves, we find fault everywhere we look. But I understood that my behavior has been TOTALLY unacceptable. Totally.

When this happened, and my perspective changed just like that, my pain changed, also. It was still there, but the quality was different. It wasn’t a spite driven pain anymore, it was a sorrowful one. I was standing at my dresser, trying to process it all, and the self loathing and sadness were sort of duking in out, and I closed my eyes and tried to breathe, Out of nowhere, my mind began to think of every single person who loved me, one by one- I could see each person like they were in front of me, and I could feel their love for me ( I guess this was my subconscious ploy to prove to myself that I wasn’t all that bad), and it hit me that not only could I feel their energy as clearly as if they were actually there, but each of them had a totally unique feeling love. Every love from every person feels totally different. This blew my mind. Then I began to think of people that were not even alive anymore- my grandparents, friends I’ve lost…guess what? Whether they were around or not, I could feel the love they had for me. It didn’t matter what dimension they existed in- that love was forever, period. Once it was given to me, it was mine forever.

This was a comfort to me, but it got me thinking. What kind of love was I putting out for people to take? Was I giving something worth having? And what if I wasn’t loving anyone at all, not really? Like, if you know you love someone, but all of you they get is tension, resentment, frustration…then that is what you are leaving them with. If you die tomorrow, that is your legacy. It isn’t enough to just know you love people. You have to give it to them, too. You need to hand it to them willingly, and show it to them by the way you treat them, the things you say, the quality of your attention. Maybe you do this already, maybe I am just an asshole with problems. But in case you do make people try to pull a little to get some of your love or attention, in case you are an overwhelmed mom who isn’t thrilled with life and doesn’t realize she is taking it out on her kids…in case you are a human being who acts a little fucked up sometimes just know you aren’t alone. I have been out of control. I am really sad about it, but I am glad I am seeing it now, painful as it is. Because now I can change.

I have been terribly sensitive since all of this began a few days ago- the way a boo-boo always is after the hard scab comes off and exposes the shiny, pink, brand new skin beneath. But it’s a great kind of tenderness, because I can HEAR myself, and I can SEE the people all around me, and how important who I am is in a MUCH bigger picture- how important ALL of us are to each other, in a way that I really never, ever even would have guessed before. Everywhere you go, you are radiating your energy, and effecting the energy of everyone around you. The closer they are to you, the more closely tied, the more they are going to feel and be effected by you. I was hurting everyone around me, the ones I love most, worst of all.

I have made my mind up that I will be better, NO MATTER WHAT. I will start from a good place every day, and no matter how many times I falter, I will start over. I am not going to make the people I love bear my love like a weight. I want to lift them up, to lighten them. How could I not have always done this. or even understood that I needed to? I’m not sure how I didn’t understand how to love another human being, but I missed it by a mile. I have to forgive myself to move forward, but mark my words- these kids, this dude, my friends, my family- they are going to know they are loved, they are heard, they are cherished, and that they have my undivided attention. And they are going to think of me and smile…long after I am gone, they will feel the great and deep love I have for them.

A Flu by any other name…is STILL THE FLU!

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I had every intention of starting off 2014 in my most favorite of all ways- as a phoenix rising from the ashes, reborn, glorious, invigorated and raring to go. I had plans, people. I had someone to BE. At the very least, I wanted to walk my dog more, try to remember that my family were loved ones who wanted my time and attention because they loved me, not because they hated me and would stop at nothing to thwart any creative endeavor that might bring me the merest smidgen of joy. Oh, and, though I may have worded it differently in my last blog, I wanted very much to slough off some of this annoying fat that was blocking (from every conceivable angle) the view of my great body. I mean, by the time I get all this annoying chub off of me, who knows what kind of shape my poor, real body is going to be in? Global warming and pollution are the culprit, obviously…they, together, have caused strange atmospheric changes resulting in what I can only describe as “body smog”. Well, I could also describe it as “fat”, but it’s harder to blame on global warming that way. Anyway, the point is (was) that I had hopes for this year. Big ones.

None of them, not even one, included me laying in bed, alternately begging God to spare me and telling my person I would certainly be dead soon. No, seriously, I actually did start crying towards the end of day one and begged person to please not let me die. He, who is perhaps a little TOO used to my theatrics and can no longer tell the difference between a heartfelt plea for Carl’s Jr. at three a.m., and an actual desperate (though fever-fueled) appeal for help, merely sighed and rolled his eyes. He may have also brought me juice, once. Oh, don’t think I won’t remember that, buster. So, point number two- I did not intend to get sick, nor did I think I would, having taken all reasonable precautions ( Oh, yeah, up yours, flu shot.)

All around me, people were wheezing, hacking, pale as corpses save for the red rings around their nostrils…the ones who weren’t already in the throes of illness stepped gingerly through the world of sickies surrounding them, giving them so much polite space that it was actually kind of rude. Me? I whine incessantly about not feeling good, but the truth is, I have one of the most robust immune systems on the planet. In the six years person and I have been doing this…whatever this is…he has never actually seen me sick. So, I marched confidently up to, near, and stood close to every sicky in sight. I’d had my flu shot, and I work at a hospital, for Pete’s sake! My immune system is top shelf. Plus, I never get sick. Oh…except when I do. Right.

Sunday, I lay down for a nap and noticed a tickle in my throat, like dust or a little hair was on my tonsil. I tried to clear it, but nope. I took a nap. I woke up to find my nose running, eyes watering, and my head all congested. My teenaged daughter had come home the day before and slept all day and night claiming she had the “flu”, but as she bounced right out the door looking gorgeous Sunday, I blew it off. “Great” I thought, “She gave me her stupid cold.” but I was fine the rest of the day. I took my dog for a long walk Sunday, and hit the sack early….and when I woke up Monday morning, I felt like an eighty year old pile of shit. Listen, when you have the ability to work from home and you are too sick to even manage that, you are sick. Still, until about eleven or twelve that day, I believed it was bronchitis. And a headache.

I’m not sure when it became clear to me that I was dealing with something way beyond bronchitis, which I would have welcomed, gladly, over this crap, but I kept stubbornly refusing to admit it was the flu. I mean, I had my stupid flu shot! Until somewhere mid day two, when my fever climbed to 101 and my skin and bones ached so badly that there was no way I could position myself so that I didn’t hurt. In the wee hours of day three (three a.m.) I couldn’t sleep anymore, tired as I was. I couldn’t lay there hurting anymore. I had to do something! Also, I kept reflecting on the words my daughter had left me with earlier the previous night- “Like five people have DIED, mom, so, like, be careful.”  to which I had responded “DIED? Healthy people? was is because they didn’t seek medical attention?” She thought for a second, and nodded, then added, “Or like, they were already in the hospital but there was nothing they could do. Okay, I have to go, love you!”

Taking strength from her misinterpretation and horrible delivery of what I assume were valid news stories, I called my local ER. “Are you guys busy?” I croaked. “Not at all.” Said the lady on the other end. “Good, I’ll be there in a few.”  And I was. Now, it says something when you are willing to show up to the place that also employs you in clothes you have been wearing, sleeping and sweating profusely in  for the past several days-without a bra, I might add. Nor did I brush my teeth or even attempt to mess with my hair. I just went. I got into a bed in record time, and when my doctor came in, I said “I know there’s probably nothing you can do for me, I’m just so miserable- I hurt and I can’t sleep, and I want to die.”  He smiled and said (PAY ATTENTION, THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART)-

“Well, that was true, at one time…but, now, I can give you tamiflu which will fight the bug and shorten the course of your illness. Also, you need a prescription strength antiinflammatory (Naproxen, he gave me) and something to just knock you out so you can rest, like Norco ( I asked if I could have ativan instead since Norco does strange things to me). He also told me that the flu shot this year was a MISS. That they do the best they can to predict which strains will be the most virulent and widespread, and this year they seem to have gotten it wrong! So, don’t rush out for the flu shot this year, kids. It won’t hurt, but it might not help, either. Just before I left, I said something about how I don’t remember the flu being this bad , to a male nurse who was feeding me drugs. He made that face that people make when they want to disagree without being disagreeable, especially when talking to someone like me, a human of lesser intelligence (…brother), and he said “There are lots of bugs and viruses going around that seem like the flu, but aren’t.” “Oh, ” I replied, then-“same symptoms, same treatment, pretty much, lasts about the same?” to which he nodded. “So it’s basically the flu, then, if we have to call it something, right?” He nodded, gave me my pill cup, and left. Oopsie.

In closing, I would like to say several more things that will make this blog even longer: a) this blog is really long. b) I feel like shit, which is about a thousand times better than I felt yesterday, so basically, I feel awesome. And c) I would still get the flu shot, just to cover you from the other flu bugs, and perhaps lessen the length of illness, if you do get it. Oh, and d) People, there is no such thing as stomach flu. Influenza in a respiratory illness- if you are puking and crapping, you have gastroenteritis of some sort. Look it up.

Okay, goodbye.