Monday, February 25, 2013

Chronically in Love

I've been in love before ... I know it when it hits. That strange connection between two people w/neither knowing exactly WHY.

As an adoptee I was very connected to my adoptive father in a way that had nothing to do with genetics and everything to do with love. He loved me, I knew it, and I responded in kind. It didn't hurt that he also "got" me: quirky, dorky, too quiet, too passionate me. And I got him: quirky, dorky, too quiet, too independent him. And for me, that was more than enough.

Yes, I fell in love with several young men along the way to the one I was married to for 20 years and w/whom I share four sons. Now THAT'S love. Sadly, the husband not so much but the sons? Amazing. I remember when my first was born my mother flew halfway across the country to help me adjust to motherhood. It was one of those moments that stands frozen in time. I had brought the baby with me into the teeny tiny married student housing bathroom just in case something cataclysmic happened on the other side of the door. I heard her enter the apartment and stride across the floor. And then I heard it, her hand on the door handle. Um. Privacy anyone? She opened the door, reached in, and took my son.

Again. Privacy?

After pulling myself together (somewhat roughly two days postpartum) I found her sitting on my bed with him in her arms and tears in her eyes. I surprised her (turn about is fair play) and she quickly brushed her eyes, cleared her throat and announced, "Ruth Ellen, this is SOOOO much better than being a parent!" Thanks, mom.

Yesterday I got home from visiting The Drummer and The Designer in LA, land of all things Oscar. But, most importantly, I met my grandson for the first time. All six weeks of Mr. My Baby ... mind blown. Sure, Hollywood was amazing and yes, I am a wee bit jealous that it's snowing in MI when people are surfing in CA. I'm a little bit envious that The Designer's mother is a mere two hours away and breezes through the door like she owns the joint. True ... in DYT world she's a T1 and breeze is in her veins. I'm a T4 and my passion is red hot quiet (unless it involves injustice.) I don't do breezy. I do quiet.

He who shall not be named has soooo many nicknames ... signs of certain love. Nug. Nugget. Monkey. Mr. My Baby. Little Dude. Bunny. I called him all the names a Bubbe/Safta might call her wee one: darling, sweetheart, sweet pea, best boy, bunny boy, and Mr. My Baby (a glorious name stolen from his mother.) I acted in manners unbefitting an INFJ. I cooed, I bubbled, I ssssshed, I sang, I danced/bounced/swayed/ and made goo goo eyes at the greatest love of my life since his uncles and father. My NEW greatest love of my life. My second generation Baby Bunny (the Engineer is my Baby Bunny.) Of course Mr. My Baby's Uncle Lawyer and Aunt School Psychologist are working on his cousin who will arrive from Ethiopia in the perfect time. Then, just as my heart grew larger after the Lawyer was born to accommodate the Drummer, The Entrepreneur, and The Engineer; the same will happen with a new generation. Perhaps, as was in my adoptive family, a younger cousin will be the oldest in the "family." Perhaps my second grandchild will be older than my first and only the adults will be aware of that brief time between the 1st and the 2nd, who became the oldest. The cousins will never know ... in the same way the Entrepreneur doesn't remember life on this planet without the Engineer at his side. The only times my younger cousin EVER reminded me she was "here first" was when she wanted something that an oldest should get. This also worked to her advantage when she DIDN'T want to do something and thought "the oldest" should have to blaze the trail. Then I got to be the oldest.

My heart knows anew what it did in 1980. Neither Lyme, nor ME, nor dark of night can stop parental or Safta love ... nor will it prevent love from flowing in the other direction. In the four short days I was there Mr. My Baby's eyes came into focus and his gaze followed his father's voice and was riveted on his mother's. And when I held him he focused on me. Something my own Mr. My Babies did decades ago ... melting my heart in such a way that I never recovered. Nor do I want to.

OH, THANK YOU, my imperfect yet PERFECT drummer. BLESS YOU, my Designer. Is being a Safta better than parenting? No. It's not. But it's that extra layer of love. That extra blanket of family one dreams about yet never expects.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Chronically Grieving -

Where's Roseanne Rosannadanna when you need her? Yeah, I could probably find her on YouTube or some ancient SNL's on Netflix or Hulu, but one look at her face and I'm going to see Gilda Radner and grieve ... both for her and her husband, Gene Wilder.

But really, "if it's not one thing it's another." I've got myself on a finally tuned schedule of errands for today and tomorrow given that on Wednesday I hurl myself westward. I've worked so HARD at pacing myself so that there would be no last minute "whoops" ... except:

1. Today's blood draw yielded no blood. Really. She tried in eight different locales including arms, hands, and feet with nary a vial. Oh, a drop or two, but no vials. This means rescheduling for tomorrow.

2. I received a phone call from a dear friend of mine who is helping me figure out how to dispose of an estate. When my adoptive mom downsized I became the keeper of several dynasties. Great show in the 80's if one liked the opulence of the decade ... but I did not and do not. Do I want all the stuff? No. There are memories I treasure and there are those I'd just as soon never see a "prompt" for again. Do my sons and DILs want things? They've taken what they want. The games are on and an estate appraiser was just here. Yup. Things are worth shuttling to Chi-town and selling at auction. I am SO good w/that. I don't give a ... WHOA, is that my great grandmother's silverware you're taking photos of? You WHAT? HOW MUCH? But I LOVE that little rocking chair. I have a whole collection of antique children's chairs slowly acquired one by one via various family members and auctions. You don't care, huh? All that cut class; those gorgeous cut glass decanters that I imagined would someday grace my dressing table will not. And I don't even HAVE a dressing table. I was just raised to and did as a teenager. I spent over two decades keeping a watchful eye on my mother, grandmothers, and great aunt who had enviable boudoirs. They and my father promised me that someday I would marry a man who's sole purpose in life would be to cherish me and that, of course, would involve my being able to "take care of myself" while primping at a dressing table full of cut class perfume bottles. Didn't exactly work out that way. Or anything even remotely resembling it.

So. Yes, I signed a contract but, no, the van has not yet backed up to my house. The appraiser, wise woman, advised me to unpack all and "visit it" in my garage over the next couple of weeks to let my emotions ebb and flow. Great. More grieving. I know in the end it will come down to financial need. (Lyme Disease, the disease that doesn't exist, is VERY expensive to treat given that insurance companies don't believe in it despite the little fact that the CDC does. Clever system we have going on here.)

3. I got a phone call from a cousin informing me one of our relatives has taken a significant turn for the worse. Significant. So significant that the entire dysfunctional family is in a speed wobble about what to do next. Frankly, I wish for him what I wish for all ... a quick and gentle passing into that good night. Or wherever it is that Quakers go. But nothing about my birth family is quick or gentle so it's highly unlikely this death will be anything less than spectacularly prolonged, dramatic, and a cause of more feuding.

(Confused about which family is which? You're in good company. I had to make a flow chart for my counselor there are so many players. Interpret that any way you'd like to ... all definitions are applicable.)

So what DID I accomplish today?

* I inserted a new check register and have balanced my checkbook.

* I bought cat food and kitty litter for Larry's vaca with one of The Sons.

* I picked up refills of meds that need to be packed.

* I finished a very important gift for Young Sir and packed some of his father's baby clothes for him to wear.

Right now my body is SCREAMING at me: joints swollen, head throbbing. If I didn't have four more tiny chores to check of my "to-do" list I'd Just Go To Bed.

But first ... I've got some crying to do, the next hurdle of grief to jump, and some final goodbyes to say: to possessions; to dreams; and to a dear, dear brother. Brucie, I hardly knew ye.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

"Where Have I Been," You Ask?

Getting my blood drawn. For days. To be fair, not days in a row, but subsequent days.

I'm so used to this it doesn't even phase me anymore. Sends the nurses into a dither every single time, but not to worry. I know which test gets what colored tube (specked top or otherwise,) what needs to be refrigerated or not, and what (do not mess with me on this) MUST go out in the mail TODAY.

Last week I met with a holistic nutritionist, one whom has been very ill and RECOVERED via a strict diet ... like 85% recovered. Like from bed/couch bound to I JUST saw a picture posted of her on FB ... dancing. Yes, dancing. So how strict IS this healing diet? Well, let's just stay that finishing up my organic Greek yogurt in my almond butter/almond milk smoothies is a TREAT I will not enjoy for a loooong time, if ever. Yeah.

So. After I cried looking at the "Good Foods List" I realized that I had to eliminate entire categories due to diabetes. "Death to Diabetes" is the best thing this Type 2 has ever met but "goodbye fruit" and "hellloooo, veggies." In a nutshell (10 walnuts or almonds, btw) I have to eliminate all grains, dairy, sugars, legumes, and fruits! This leaves me with veggies (but no nightshades,) lean meat or fish, and good oils.

BUT ... fish only twice a week (no shell fish or bottom feeders, so to speak) and meat three times a week. (I don't eat pork.) My one serving per day should be the size of my PALM and I'm a small woman. Really. Weight loss will NOT be an issue.

Of course, the above will be modified by my food allergies ... for which I get more blood drawn tomorrow. Yup. Just this morning I showed off my ALCAT trappings to a friend via FaceTime. Not sure if she was impressed.

My MTHFR SNPs from Dr. Yasko via Holistic Health are waiting for me on a disk I glare at from time to time as I shuffle past my kitchen desk area. I'm not looking at it until I get back from seeing The Drummer and family next week. No more health news until after a visit with three of my favorite people on the face of the earth and my FIRST trip to the Pacific Ocean!

Then I'm diving into new territories ... unexplored foods, creative use of spices, and a trip to a new Lyme doctor in March. OH. And my birthday. Sans cake.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Dosing -

Not dozing, dosing.

HOW, I ask, does one "dose" and lead a life that even closely resembles "normal." Even the new normal to which the chronically ill must acclimate!

Although I will admit to "cheating" my my food plan from time to time I learned long ago how to eat for what my body needs (or, more importantly, DOESN'T!) But it's the meds, the supplements, the meds to counter the OTHER meds, and then the final supplements of the evening that mess me up. It would be a whoooole lot easier if I just gave up food but, alas, I can't. SOME meds need to be taken with food.

So far this is the best I can come up with.

7:30 AM
Antibiotics WITH food. Ok. No disabled person can regularly get out of bed to eat at 7:30 in the morning. At least not this one. OH. And with the food one has to sit UP for 1/2 an hour. No, slumping on one's pillows does not count.

So today I had my meds with a small handful of walnuts and a swig of water. I'm working on the sitting up part.

10:00 AM
Probiotics and supplements with MORE food. I can do an almond milk smoothie by 10:00 so I'm covered.

1:00 PM
A specific med with a little bit of food, but no dairy (so cheese sticks are out.) Nuts, anyone?

7:30 PM
Antibiotics with food. Ok, I'm a diabetic and 7:30 is too late for dinner. DINNER? Wait. I forgot to fit that in ... somewhere.

10:00 PM
Probiotics to counter the antibiotics and some other things.

So here are my questions:

1. What happens on the days I can't get up and fix meals?
2. What happens on the "good days" when I'm able to get out? Do I travel with a cooler at all times?
3. How about when I need to travel, say, to the other side of the country to see a specialist and I change time zones.
4. But MOST importantly ... what about ME!?!? What about the me that does NOT want to be a slave to my body/shell any more than it needs to be?

What. About. Me.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Chronically Exhausted

"To sleep, perchance, to dream."

Listen, at this stage I'd take sleep ... forget about sweet dreams. Sleep, people. The best sleep I've gotten in YEARS was during my last colonoscopy and more recently when I had the flu (go body!!!) So I logged some hours, but was it restorative? Um, no.

It seems to me I've tried everything under the sun, moon, and alllll the stars I watch travel across the sky at night. Natural things as well unnatural things, AKA Big Pharma. My sleep hygiene is second to none (except for the cat on the bed at all times.) Eventually I DO sleep, but at what level and at what bodily price? All I can say for certain is I KNOW why sleep deprivation is a well utilized torture technique ... Geneva Convention approved or not. Promise me restorative sleep so my body can heal and I'd give up a lot. Nothing Homeland Security has to worry about (I don't even want to KNOW their stuff) or even personal confidences, but wanna know something about ME? I promise I'll give it up if you'll ONLY provide me with natural deep restorative sleep for a few years. Really. It's just that easy.

So I DID log a total of six hours last night only waking up and re-dosing once. It was a good night. But the DREAMS. I have a new grandson. Did I do some California dreaming about that little bundle of goodness? No. Did I dream about the (can't mention the item) I'm knitting for him? No. How about that great dinner with #3 and his gf? Nope. My much anticipated visit to either a local nutritionist or a new specialist? NOPE. I KNOW. Shoes. I LOVE shoes. Nope.

I dreamed about a dear friend being draped for her appropriate "best colors" in a state she doesn't live in by a system she doesn't care for. Really. This, of course, was HUGELY stressful to my unconscious mind as across the board and on ALL levels I want people to be comfortable. Even in their distress.

No, I'm not going to disclose my own level of vanity when it comes to clothing/style/and color at this point in our relationship, but suffice it to say, my subconscious felt her pain.

I feel like Goldie Hawn in "Private Benjamin" as she tromped around in the rain wearing a backpack and clearly the wrong colors for her skin tone. "I wanna go out to lunch!" Yeah ... w/out having to worry about it being too noisy, too bright, too busy, or food on the menu that just isn't right for my body.

But what I REALLY want? "I wanna SLEEP!"

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chronically Knitting

Lamenting about things gone by is never a good idea. At least for me. Those cogs get turning in my head ... slowly at first but ramping up at warp speed ... which inevitably sends me reeling.

So moving on in "moving on," I bought myself a couple of pairs of knitting needles the other day; a bear pattern to knit for my grandson and then for his future cousins; some great yarn; and hunkered down for a long winter's night. Like riding a bike, right? Yeah. If before you got back up on that bike you'd suffered brain damage from say, Lyme Disease. No, boys and girls, it's not "just like riding a bike." After I spent hours trying to figure out some "basics" I resorted to YouTube where one SHOULD be able to follow along. Or watch along and then make an attempt. Rip it out, rewatch and try again. Rip it out, pay CLOSE attention before making another attempt and give it a go. Repeat the phrase oft quoted from one's former school,"insanity is doing something the same way and expecting different results." CLEARLY the bear pattern was insane, or all the people on YouTube were insane (EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM.) Or me.

Or maybe it was just a bad day.

I practiced my own words to the wise, "You can change your THOUGHTS" and momentarily reveled in the fact that I was in my own home, in front of my own fireplace, sitting on my own couch and, if I felt like it, I could get up and fetch myself a ginger root beer w/Stevia from my very own fridge. Or not. After THAT five minutes of pure joy was over I tried again.

And I did it. I knit a bear head inside out. Yes, inside out. Although proud for myself for managing to figure things out again; realizing that muscle memory IS a reality for my fingers and that all gray matter was NOT lost; I wasn't exactly certain how I'd creatively fix that little blooper of an inside out bear head. Maybe, just maybe I could throw in a couple of purl rows and call it good. Nah. I'm a perfectionist. Ok. Maybe I'd knit the bear a SCARF to cover the errors of my ways and then, like a tidal wave, remembered all those "potential choking hazard" warnings I'd read as a young mother and had nightmares about. Little boys swallowing Legos. Little boys swallowing those toothpicks that looked like swords ("S-words for $500 please, Alex.") Little boys soundlessly gagging on mozzarella cheese sticks while their exhausted mother inattentively stared blanking into the horizon. Little boys hanging themselves on mini-blind cords. My GRANDSON choking on the scarf that his Bubbe knit for his bear because she was too lazy to ...

I ripped the entire thing out and burst into tears.

Today I tried it again. Same needles, same yarn, same scenario. Me on the couch with the cat. (Ok, I wound the second ball of yarn hoping the original bear head yarn will literally relax by the time I get to it.) But THIS time it worked. It really, really worked. I knit a bear head all by myself (with a little help from YouTube and words with G-d.)

The cat and I are in bed and the bear head is on the couch where tomorrow I'll stuff the little deer, pick up a few stitches and knit on.

Chronically and incessantly, of course.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Chronically WINTER

Where or where is PHIL!? Oh yeah ... back in his den for another six weeks. I haven't been to Philly for a few years and it's been decades since I lived there, but it's warmer in PA than it is in MI. If Phil were living in MI I I wouldn't recommend even bothering coming up for air. No way. No how. Son #2 was born in April and I'm telling you, he's a DADDY now and the fact it, for all his life it's been PRETTY outside but it hasn't felt even remotely like "spring is in the air" until after his birthday.

I'm lying in bed watching the weather swirl around outside where it's bitter, bitter, bitter, and yet I have a ceiling fan on me. No, not "that time of life" ... I'm looong past that, but Lyme and its coinfections have their own sweaty level of hell.

I'm actually quality multi-tasking. Listening to a podcast, typing, wondering about the podcast, and planning what do to when the podcast is done (long after I'll be done with my writing du jour.) I'm thinking of working of a grandchild's toy. Thinking of making SOMETHING warm and glorious to eat.

On an earlier foray onto Pinterest I .... Ok. This. THIS. FIVE minutes, people. I walked away for FIVE minutes and have completely lost my train of thought.

Good thing it's winter ... I'm going to blame in on that and like Phil, crawl back in my hole. Um, bed.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Chronically Seizing

Yes, it's true, my hands spasm ... but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about "seize the day" or midafternoon, or wee hours of the morning, for us insomniacs.

After carefully crafting my phone call to a local techno son, I saw this posted on FB waaay past the time my former fourth graders, now high schools students, should be in bed. Actually, she probably WAS in bed with her laptop.

Addie, if you're reading this, I'm about to take a few liberties with our FB convo. No, I am not stalking you but you do pop up in my news feed. And yes, I'm still sorry you're the ONLY one in your family I never taught.

Addie: I'm writing my outline for Mr. Pick A Name. It's supposed to be 3 pages long.
Me: Addie?
Addie: Yeah.
Me: Do you know how to set up a blog or a webpage?
Addie: Sure!
Me: Does Issy?

(Issy is a former student and the second youngest member of this family of five amazing kids ... and two hysterically funny parents. She is every bit as stunning as I imagined she would be. T4 stunning, for you DYT fans. An INCREDIBLE person; SUCH a writer, that Issy! When I taught about an "author's voice" I could ALWAYS say, "I could pick up a typed page with no name on it, read it and say, "ISSY wrote that! WHY? Because Issy writes like Issy talks. I hear hear her VOICE whether I'm talking to her on the playground, in our room, reading her papers here at school, or at home. I hear ISSY.) I love this family; every single one of them. But I digress.

Addie: Of COURSE. (Issy "likes" this.)
Me: Do you think I could pay you guys to come help me with one? (Issy "likes" THIS!)
Addie: Ms. JAMES? What are you DOING?
Me: It's a seeeecret and you can call me Ruth.
Addie: REALLY?
Me: Really.
Addie: LOL. Really? You're like my mom's age.
Me: I'm actually several years older.
Addie. Oh. Wow. Ok. PM me. Do you know how to do that?
Me: Yes.
Addie. Ok. This will be FUN. (Addie is a T1, DYT fans.)

(About 37 comments followed about Mr. Pick A Name and the outline.)

So question solved. Do I call techno son? Nope. I PM a former student and her sister, have them over in a few weeks, and allow them to teach me the fine art of imbedding links or pictures and perhaps having a visually less boring blog. Although I've never been a fan of visual overstimulation ... even when healthy. Must be the INFJ in me. My outsides need calm because my insides are in constant "process mode."

That's the news du jour.

Yesterday's big accomplishment was changing my sheets. Today's was emptying the dishwasher. I'm a tidy sort.

So seize that day. Or hour. Or moment. And live it with all you've got.

And my hands? I'm thinking low magnesium or cold. Or Lyme. Probably all of the above.

Now I'm off to attempt to knit my first toy for a grandchild ... gone are the days of scarves, mittens, sweaters, hats for sons. Gone are the days of lace shawls for me (FUN to knit, but I'm so not a lace shawl person.) GONE are the days of knitting blankies. Hellooooo, grandchildren. Bring on the toys.