Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Healthy: You're Doing it Wrong

So I wrote a literary masterpiece that won me a juicer. Pokey (my amazing acupuncturist) upgraded hers and offered her spare to the writer of the best poem. I wrote a rap about vomiting constantly and how juice would be easier to upchuck than food, and I was prepared to stutter-bust the rhymes on video if need be.

Of course I won.

I assembled it excitedly, envisioning a rosy healthy family toasting with our juice glasses before heading off to win a triathlon or at the very least a beer or bacon fun run.

Cukes from the farmers market. Spinach. Apples, carrots and pungent mint leaves. Beets and blueberries. Into the Breville it went and the girls shocked me by drinking green juice without being first strapped to a chair. I could practically feel our immune systems smiling.

Then we sat down to eat pizza and watch Big Brother 16 (which you can thankfully appreciate without seeing the first fifteen seasons).

This morning I juiced again. We experimented with different combinations and the girls even recorded their own custom recipes. At one point I caught myself sampling a blend and thinking it would be further enhanced by a shot of Grey Goose but then I remembered they are children and also it was eight AM.

Then the kids buried their pancakes in a veritable avalanche of Redi-Whip.

It's probably for the best that I didn't carry them and wasn't around during their critical formative years. I'm relieved that their limbs have already developed properly and I figure that their brains function to a level where if I stunt them at this point, they still have a shot in life.

I'll drink (juice) to that.



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Message from the Lord

I open my eyes to four little girls proclaiming their starvation. Pancakes, debate, dishes, philosophy, two snacks, four loads of laundry.

My right hip and knee feel like someone is twisting knives inside them, and I can barely walk.

"Can we go to the park?" They ask.
"Sure!" 30 minutes of peace and quiet? Don't mind if I do.
They return six minutes later because Little fell off her bike and landed in a mud puddle.

Commence load five of laundry and make lunch. Spill entire box of macaroni noodles on floor. 
Sweep and curse.
More debate, town gossip, proclamation that Zac Efron isn't even hot, dishes.

"Can we go back to the park?" They ask
"Sure thing..." 30 minutes of peace and quiet? Don't mind if I do.
But wait! Somehow during the three and half minutes they weren't eating or shrieking, someone spilled a bottle of nail polish.

They spilled it on the carpet.
And the tile floor.
And the rug.
And the door.
And the counter.

And even on the motherloving cabinets
It was like Jackson Pollock vomited hot pink.

Then the cat vomited hot brown.

Which to clean first?

I went for the nail polish and let the cat nibble at her homemade delicacy.

After cleaning barf and nail polish and various other bodily fluids and hazardous materials, I sat down to take deep breaths. 

Reclaim my inner zen. And - you know - check Facebook. Where this was waiting for me:


Very funny, God. Very funny.



















Friday, August 1, 2014

I Did Math and Threw Up

My brother is an accountant by life and by trade. As a child, he lined toys up and counted them. He loves spreadsheets and knows his bank balance to the cent. His small motor skills suck and the only thing he can draw is a baseball diamond - stick figure style and horribly out of perspective.

I colored a lot. I can do a kabillion kinds of crafts but I regularly screw up anything involving numbers. Luckily my bank balance is always roughly nothing which is pretty easy to remember.

It turns out his accounting degree provides more stability than my talents with scrap paper and glue*.

Today I did math and threw up, which is my segue to the latest edition of My Life by the Numbers.

SIX - The number of antibiotic prescriptions I have to pick up today and add to my regimen.

A SHITLOAD - The number of pills those prescriptions will equal each day. Cheers to hoping I can keep them down.

24 - The number of times I've moved in my life, and I'm doing it again in a few weeks. God Almighty, I'm sick of moving. Let us now pray that my man loves me as much as I think he does.

TWO - The number of times I've thrown up today and also the number of naps I took yesterday. Not bad.

NINE - The number of pages in the Function Form I had to fill out today regarding my alleged medical condition.

ALMOST NONE - The number of times I've blogged - or written anything - lately. Mostly I'm too depressed and or busy barfing or playing with the helping parent the girls.

$3234 - This is the price of a migraine that has you blinded, vomiting blood and thinking you're going to die. Mama Bird dialed 911, the (allegedly hot) firefighters came and revived me, and now I have the bills. For that price I should have been able see them and they should have danced.

So, yeah.

I did that math and then I threw up. The two may not be unrelated.

I have to put down my checkbook and medical bills and do good math for a while. I still laugh 17** times per day and I know I'm lucky to be so loved.

Soon I get to be a Party of Ten. Just me, my guy, his two girls, the cat, two guinea pigs, two hermit crabs*** and our Potential Dog.

And soon after that, Herm will be born. I will have ONE niece or nephew or niece****. And even though I'll be Crazy Auntie Tricia,  we know the kid will have fun with me playing with scrap paper and glue. My brother can handle the math.



*Not hot glue. I always burn my finger.

**That's an estimate. I lose count after three or four.

***We never know. They always look dead until they decide to waddle around for a minute and a half.

****Not that I'm leaning toward a girl because I really want to buy ruffle-butt things.




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Everybody Poops

The girls have wanted a dog for ages. Seriously - at least a year - which, in iPhone times, is equivalent to at
least three years. We spent a week up north and the resort owners have a dog.

All week we heard how great dogs are and what amazing dog owners they will be, so I decided to test them.

Enter Dozer.

Dozer is pretty much the best dog in the world. Calm, well-trained, doesn't bark, submissive.

The girls fell in love. Brushing him and throwing the ball, giving him treats and applauding his tricks. We went to the park, we went on walks.

Once a week here we have Poop Camp, which means cleaning the cat litter boxes and the guinea pig cage. We discussed family responsibilities, as they fought tooth and nail over who had to carry in the bag of guinea pig bedding. I pointed out that I don't even like their guinea pigs, but I help them clean that funky-ass cage every week.

"Then you can carry in the bedding," suggested one kid.

This was not how I imagined things. Instead I handed them plastic bags and began pointing out piles in the yard.

Much wheedling and bickering commenced. It was critical that the number of turds were fairly divided and negotiations turned tense. It went unnoticed that I matched them two turds to one. I even picked up the fresh warmies.

As they gagged dramatically, I reminded them that if we get a dog, this is something we get to do every single day. Steaming summer piles and frozen winter piles.

Suddenly their love for Dozer diminished and they changed the subject. "Let's go swimming!"


Dog Test Results: Epic Fail

I miss my imaginary future dog already.






Thursday, June 26, 2014

An Ode to SuperMoms

Let's go to the lake, I said.

Let's take the girls, I said.

It will be relaxing, I said.

As a singleton, going to the cabin meant laboriously packing the essentials: clothes, swimsuit, vodka.

As a pseudo step-monster, I've been packing for a week. An infinite number of tiny panties, bug spray, sunscreen, towels, goggles, books, puzzles, games, crafts and food. Oh - and a 79-piece first-aid kit that I expect to use in its entirety.

I made a detailed list of items each girl needed and told them to please go pack. When I came to check on them I was informed they had no clean underwear, their clothes don't fit and also, critically, does the cabin have wi-fi? Then the 11-year-old zipped the 9-year-old into a suitcase and called it a day.

We're at T-minus 48 hours and I'm fairly certain we're prepared. I have approximately two U-haul loads of shit packed. I just need to add the last minute items - food, meds, and the 412 items the girls will undoubtedly unpack tomorrow.

Yesterday I accompanied the girls and their mother to a dance competition. If you don't have a child in dance, let me explain: 800 squealing girls, 14 hours and all the glitter in the world. Seriously. There's a shortage now.

I marveled at how Autumn had come prepared for every conceivable issue - extra clothes, snacks, picnic lunch. She didn't even take Xanax (or if she did, she didn't tell me - or share.) She makes it look so simple. By the time we got home I was so exhausted I was seeing double and I slept until 2 PM today then spent the afternoon doing laundry and vomiting.

She? Got up this morning at 6 AM and went to work.

She is not human. She is SuperMom. And a kind one, at that. Normally Fridays are our night but she offered to take the girls so Paul and I could have date night tomorrow.

Date night will be amazing. We have reservations with the couch, party of two. I fully expect we'll both be sound asleep by 7 PM.

Because come Saturday? We're off to the lake...to relax.

I am not a SuperMom, or even a mom. I love those girls to the moon, but as I delve deeper into this world of parenting, I am constantly reminded that I will never, ever be as good at this as she is. Today I congratulated myself for finally figuring out how to tell their underwear apart - we just bought new ones and I marked them with a Sharpie. I was so proud of myself and it only took me a year to figure it out.

I just pray I can get through next week without causing irreparable damage to her two beautiful children.

Friday, June 13, 2014

What Could Go Wrong?

It's a sweet, sunny Friday in sweet, sunny Wisconsin.

This summer I'm helping watch my boyfriend's girls since he - you know - works. Both he and the girls' mom have full-time jobs and I don't, so I offered my dubious housewifely services. These consist of:

 - Refereeing and mediation
 - Spreading nutella and toasting bread (only the good bread)
 - Random somersaults with the girls
 - Cleaning various owies and praying no stitches are needed

Last night the girls called to ask if they could have friends over today.

Of course.


But then it hit me.

Four girls, ages 7-11...

Friday the 13th...

Full moon...

What could possibly go wrong!?

In 120 minutes we've choreographed and filmed four videos including American Idol auditions and a red carpet appearance, had two snacks and been to the park twice. It's 9:26 AM and so far there have been no casualties. I consider this a win.

Check back at 5:00 PM. I may be howling at the moon.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

God is Laughing

Don't tell me God doesnt have a sense of umor

Monday I woke feeling lousy - as in, worse than my normal everyday lousy. Tremors, nausea. A few minutes in the sunshine and I brokw out in hives everywhere. Then the headache.

An ice pick behind my right eye triggered the vomiting and I like to do things in a big way. So I barfed so hard I saw stars and then passed out.

Vomit, rinse, repeat. Except I didn't rinse, I just heaved all over myself. And the floor. And the rugs.

Several hours passed in a fog on the floor and I wanted to crawl to my phone but fifteen feet was insurmountable.

Mama Bird came home and by then I was soaked in sweat and starting to convulse. She called 911 and I'm told that the firefighters were hot. "Hotter than Chicago Fire hot" was the direct quot.

I was blinded by my headache so all I saw was a brief glimpse of knees and suspenders. I asked Mama Bird later why the doctor wore suspenders. Nope, those were the firemen, though Mama Bird sad the doctor was pretty cute too.

God is laughing.

As I writhed on the gurney sobbing in pain I kept trying to ask why they wouldn't give me a muscle relaxer. After the first shot of Valium and muscle relaxants I apparently told the nurse I loved her and passed out.

Ten minutes later I was howling for more and evidentlly I was then max dosed on both Valium and whatever else they were giving me. It barely touched the pain.

I don't remember much more of Monday. I don't recall the ambulance at all and I wasn't really coherent until pretty late.

I remember begging God to let me die.

I remember my mom rubbing my contorting muscles and Paul holding my thorbbing hand.

And I remember that they told me the spinal tap would hurt so much but it was kitten kisses compared to the pain of Lyme diesase.

God is laughing.

It's been 36 hours and I can finally open my eyes with no sunglasses. I can see again but its blurry. The aftermath feels like I was beatn with a sledgehammer.

Diagnosis: Muscle Cramp

Because the doctors don't kno w what a lyme herx is? Because this is in my head?

God is laughing.

While I convulsed in hte bed begging for pain relief, the hospital brought in all the important forms. HIPAA and financial counsel - "Oh, you don't have insurance!?"

(I've been waiting on MnCare's paperwork for months and my COBRA ran out. That's half the reason I went off my Lyme meds. The other reason is they cost a fortune that I don't have and I merely throw them up anyhow.)

God is laughing.

This happened Monday.

Today is Wednesday and I already received a letter in the mail re: payment.

I bet my Muscle Cramp will cost well over $10K including my EMS limo. Thousands of dolars and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt. From what I hear the only entertainment on Monday was the firemen so of course I'd go  blind and miss it completely.

I'm two years into this latest bout with Lyme disease and I swear it's killing me. Slowly, painfully, physically and financially. For certain I thought Monday was my end.

My mom thought she was going to lose me.

We're not laughing anymore

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Self-Correcting

And as it always does, the world humbled me as soon as I pitched a fit. Some resentment squeaked out of my last post like a fart. 

I beg your pardon.

I was in pain and nauseated and crabby and frankly vile, and I pulled out some old photo albums to cheer myself up.

This was the first picture I selected for Throwback Thursday.


It made me laugh because, as always in the group shot, I was doing my own thing. In this case the thing happened to be batting my eyes at Anders. He lived down the street and sometimes we walked home from school together.

It was love.

Except that it was unrequited.

I saw this today and I'm so happy for him.


Photo: Lavender Magazine 2014
READ THE LOVELY ARTICLE

I'm proud we live in a world that is beginning to accept that nontraditional families are no different than traditional families. Some of them suck and some of them are really doing things right.

We have a long way to go but this article made me hopeful.

I have a nontraditional family, too. Don't we all? By blood and by marriage we are fishermen and bankers, nurses, academics, accountants and bums (moi). We are painfully white and nut brown. We are educated and not. We are strong and soft.

I'm a pasty Norwegian. My boyfriend is part Native American. He has two little girls, one a spitting image and one with freckles and bright red hair.

We're not blood.

They have a mommy, a great one, but I get to be part of a part of a bigger, crazier family now. A family of mom and Dave and dad and me and aunties and uncles and grandmas and grandpas and three cats and two guinea pigs and a lizard and hermit crabs and a bulldog. (No, not a bulldog. But I'm trying.)

Their girls know they are so loved.

I imagine Baby Hugo will grow up feeling pretty loved as well.

Thanks, Anders, for the pick-me-up. I needed a reminder of what's important because I have a lot of good in my life now in between the barfing. I ought to focus more on that.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Fool Me Once

I haven't been writing because I mostly feel like crap. When I don't feel like crap, I spend my time with my loved ones before I revert to feeling like crap. Then I lay in bed feeling like crap and thinking I should be writing but not knowing what to write about that doesn't sound crappy.

Some of you have reached out to me in concern over my silence and you're sweet for doing so. Thank you. I didn't go anywhere.

I'm here.

I've just been terribly busy laughing and barfing and sweating and crying and writhing. And thinking....oh, but there is time to think when one spends 60% of life in bed. So much thinking.

I think I have reached the conclusion that I am a fool.

Stay with me, let's review some recent evidence.

It's been one year since Wild Bill picked me up on the corner with my belongings. He took me to get my PICC line installed. (Is that the word when they thread a tube into your heart? But anyway, he picked me up crying on the curb.)

This morning Wild picked me up on another curb but I wasn't crying. I was barfing. Luckily I am wearing this shirt today.

I cannot even make this shit up.

A year ago, I walked out the door a newly divorced woman with Lyme disease. I left behind the giant flat screen TV I'd won because...well, it would be mean to take it from him when he loved it so dearly and couldn't afford a new one of his own. This past year, while y'all helped me pay for my Lyme drugs (yeah - the ones I throw up on the sidewalk...sorry), you'll be happy to know that he too has made ends meet. Thank goodness I left him that big TV to go with his brand new Playstation 4...and new motorcycle.

I'm a fool.

But I guess at least I'm a kind fool instead of a mean fool?

I always say that I'm not poor, I'm broke. There's a difference. Poor sounds lacking, needy. Broke is just numbers. I live check to check on long-term disability insurance right now and reviewed my balance online the other day.

Four dollars and change - I was golden until my check arrived!

Except that long ago, I authorized a FIVE DOLLAR monthly contribution to the Human Rights Campaign. Which posted and threw my bank account in the hole.

For a buck.

And an overdraft fee.

I'm a fool.

But I guess at least I'm a fool who supports equal rights?

THIS IS MY LIFE, PEOPLE!

I do one stupid thing after the next.

I was never going to change the world with my brilliance, but this is getting ridiculous. Last night Mama Bird and I met old friends to catch up on our news.

Friend 1:  I'm beautiful and blonde and help raise my adorable niece and nephew!
Friend 2:  I'm so in shape I run 100 miles at a time!

Mama Bird:  I'm gonna be a grandma!

Me (wearing a broccoli floret in my hair):  I'm pretty certain I'm mildly retarded from the Lyme.

Mama Bird:  She's not kidding.

Then she said it...

Something I've been denying to myself since 2012...

But it's true...

Mama Bird: Neil told he knew her cognitive abilities were deteriorating. He now smokes her every time at Words with Friends.



Monday, April 7, 2014

Check Yoself Before You Wreck Yoself: A Springtime PSA

It's fifty-five degrees outside, perfect for a meandering walk or a bike ride. Perfect too, apparently, for
another day on my knees in front of the toilet.

It's been over a year since my diagnosis.

Thousands of shots.

Thousands of pills.

I stutter and tremble. I've pissed myself, crapped my pants, convulsed, seized, cried, drooled and I vomit more often than many people sneeze. At times I've been unable to grip a pen or to spell my name.

All because of an itsy bitsy filthy little tick the size of a poppy seed.

I remember crying in relief the day I got the diagnosis. Finally! An explanation for years of bizarre medical troubles. Finally! A path back to normalcy.

Because A leads to B, right? Diagnosis begets treatment which provides recovery. RIGHT? I'm learning that it's not that simple, especially when the infection has spread to one's central nervous system. After thirteen months of hardcore drugs my systems are exhausted, my bank account is zero and my improvements are modest albeit certainly appreciated.

I'm weaning myself off all the medications to give my body a break. I need to reassess. I need time to decide what's next. I was told that recovery is a marathon and I don't know which mile markers I've passed, but I'm sitting down for a bit on the curb.

As the weather turns warmer and you head outside, I beg of you:

CHECK YOSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOSELF

If you find a tick on yourself, proceed immediately to your doctor and do not pass go. Do not leave their office until you have a fistful of antibiotics. I wouldn't wish Lyme Disease on my worst enemy. Had I been treated initially, as a child, I might have been spared this hellfire. I can't change that but I can shout from the rooftops so it doesn't happen to you.

Actually, that's a lie. I can't shout.

But I can stutter and d-d-d-d-ammit, I c-c-c-care about you. W-w-w-watch for these tiny m-m-m-monsters.




Friday, March 7, 2014

Cowabunga

It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission, so let me start with an apology to everyone who demanded I check with my doctor before participating in a Polar Plunge for the Special Olympics. (I also feel the need to clarify that I was raising money for the Special Olympics, not competing in them - because as my brother says, I'm no athlete.)

My cousin caught me in a weak moment on a day I felt good - and once I'd said yes, I was screwed. I couldn't back out at that point, so why ask the doctor if my death was imminent or merely a possibility? Some things are better left unknown.

And so it was that my soft spot for Daryl and my inability to admit to poor judgment led me to the precipice last Saturday.

Paul and I stood with him at the edge of the hole in the ice, the three of us with linked hands and fluttering hearts, the wind like icy knives. It was two degrees below zero, but if we were going to die a frozen death, we'd go out holding hands and knowing that we were loved.


Except that at the last minute, Daryl released my hand and briefly had 
second thoughts - about either loving us or jumping in the 33-degree water. 
Or possibly both.


He mustered the gumption, though, and I love the look on his face as 
his legs hit the water and he realizes what he's done.


The look on my face, however, cannot accurately depict the horror that is Lake Calhoun in Minnesota in March after the coldest and snowiest winter of my life.

People asked what it felt like but I can't really tell you. I wasn't there.

When my body hit that water, I left this world. I didn't feel pain then, because I'm pretty certain I died. My legs buckled and I went under (which was NOT part of the plan) and when I came back up I was astonished to realize I was blind. Or maybe my eyelashes had frozen together.

All I knew was that I needed time to think about it and what better time than the present? So I stood there in the frigid water, leisurely contemplating a life of blindness. Paul pulled me out before the medics could. He said I was just standing there with a dazed look on my face. I don't remember that. Or the people. Or the cameras.

But I absolutely remember the numbing pain of getting out of icy water into the windchill of ten below zero. All that pain that I couldn't feel? In the water? By golly, here it was!

It was worth it, though, right?

It was for a good cause, right?

Once warmed and dried, the trauma behind us, I swelled like a peacock and thanked my cousin for inviting me to be a part of his special day. I asked how he decided to select me for the task.

My pride was popped faster than a soap bubble when Daryl admitted he'd invited damn near everyone he's ever met.

"Nobody else was crazy enough to say yes."








Friday, February 28, 2014

Just in Case

This time tomorrow I'll be walking the plank.

A cold ass ice-plank that ends in 32-degree water.

Since I'm hoping not to die of a massive heart attack brought on by shock,  I packed meds to last through the weekend. This morning - just as I was about to write another fundraising plea -  I heard a crash from the kitchen and found a naughty orange kitten playing hockey...with my drugs.

Paul and I picked up as many as we could find and blew off the floor dirt (free probiotics!) and now I have to reassemble my dosing schedule. And before you get all judgy about swallowing dirty pills, let me point out that you're looking at roughly a thousand dollars worth of medication.

Anyhoo, back to the fundraising.

I can truthfully tell you that without the love and support of many, I wouldn't be here today.

Last year a benefit was hosted in my honor, to raise money for my Lyme drugs, and I said all along that I won't be at peace with that until I've helped to 'pay forward' every one of those dollars to another cause. So while a jump in an icy lake sounds fairly close to my idea of hell, it's something I can do with and for my cousin Daryl, a special Olympian.

All moneys raised support the Special Olympics programs that enrich the lives of disabled athletes.

I'm no athlete but I've learned plenty about being disabled and you know what? It sucks.

It sucks to be dependent upon others.

It sucks to be in constant chronic pain.

It sucks to feel like everything is so much harder than it ought to be.

It sucks to feel alone in this world.

The Special Olympics have provided ways for my cousin to shine and to feel a part of something bigger than himself. He's so excited that Paul and I are joining him this year and I have to admit I'm pretty excited too.

A baptism of sorts, a rebirth.

Or possibly instant hypothermia culminating in cardiac failure.

If it's the former, I'll see it as a sign of better things to come. For Daryl. For me. For you. For anyone who has ever felt ostracized by life.

If it's the latter, please have Chad Daniels and Pete Lee officiate at my funeral. And Leslie - I'll need you to clean out my nightstand drawer, kay? Thanks.
 
 
 




Monday, February 24, 2014

Dunking with Daryl

1983-ish
Every summer we spent two weeks at our grandparents' lake house, a bunch of wild little cousins.

Daryl was the adorable curly haired tot who wet the bed on my brother and took the rap for all of our transgressions. There was a hard wooden time-out bench in the kitchen and Daryl spent the bulk of his summer vacations there. If I pinched my brother Neil or wouldn't share a toy, Daryl had to take a time-out. If Dana bit me, Daryl served the time.

Thirty years later he's an Olympian and he's asked me if I will jump in a lake with him.

In Minnesota.

In March.

To support the Special Olympics.

I figure I owe him a solid and when my guy said he'd jump with me, I had no choice but to say...

"Of course I will jump in an ice-cold lake with you, Daryl!"

Shit.

I support friends and family when they do charitable things but I can't ride a bike 150 miles or run a marathon. I'm too weak to walk for three days. Or miles.

I've been holding down my bed since Christmas, and trying to hold down all the meds. I've contemplated death pretty seriously - not in an active or dramatic I'd like to jump off a bridge way, but rather in a defeated my body often feels like it's going to quit on me kind of way. I get a burst or two of energy each week where I feel decent for a few hours, and therein lies the trouble.

Daryl caught me on an afternoon when I felt 60% normal, which was a 60% improvement over previous days. The Polar Plunge sounded invigorating. Exciting. Something I could actually accomplish, as it will require only fourteen seconds of energy. A chance to pay it forward just a tiny bit.

A chance to feel alive instead of just existing to fill a bed.

Then I realized that hopping in a freezing cold lake sounds pretty much like hell. But I'm locked and loaded and have decided that it's a worthy cause - hypothermia be damned. And also my boyfriend's kids will laugh at us if we punk out, so there's that.

Won't you consider supporting our insanity and - more critically - the Special Olympics? My guy and I are jumping for Daryl's team and you can donate to any of our pages - it all goes to the same wonderful organization.

 
 
 
 








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