Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What I Like About Me

Woe is me. Woe is you. What are we supposed to do?

Well, the simple answer is, "Don't worry. Be Happy." And so, in my most positive voice, I'm going to look at myself and my life and discuss one thing I truly love about myself.

I love the way I walk aimlessly around the house as if every time I enter another room I enter a different dimension or portal that closes the door to one part of my brain and opens the door to a completely different area, one unfamiliar to me, though I've probably visited it nearly a million times before.

It's as if the world around me changes as I walk through my home, and everything I was thinking disappears from my mind as I leave one room and enter another. I often feel as if I live in my own Alice in Wonderland world. As I enter a new room, all intentions of why I entered that room are merely mysteries I'm left to solve. And so I play Nancy Drew as I examine my reasons for being, not only who I am, but also where I am.

For example, just the other morning, I walked through the kitchen to get to the laundry room, because just before the previous interruption (frequent occurrence in my minute-by-minute play), I was removing items from the washer to put into the dryer, but on the way to the laundry room I noticed a cup that belonged in the sink, so I rinsed out the cup and placed it on the counter next to the sink and then remembered I was doing laundry, so I returned to my bedroom to get my sheets but then remembered I couldn't put them into the washing machine, because I hadn't completely emptied the washer yet.

This tiny little snipped of my life is played out all day long. Interruption followed by interruption interrupted by interruption. The reason I was washing clothes in the first place was because this morning my robe fell into the toilet. I had wanted to wash my sheets, but now I had to interrupt my schedule to wash…

Schedule? I laugh. What a funny word. Schedules are merely guidelines I follow – and not very well either. Even the days of the week don't apply to me, because while everybody else thinks they're spending Wednesday living their lives, I'm either still on Tuesday or living in Thursday's time zone.

Just today I realized I was spinning in the kitchen. I often spin – not because I'm trying to make myself dizzy, but because every time I turn around, half the room appears to disappear and my intentions with it. I'm like my own personal planet revolving around an imaginary sun.

So as I remember where I was planning on going and what I was planning on doing, I spin around to take care of the matter, but then I forget what the matter is and return to my original space, pre-spin.

And that's what I love about myself. I keep myself endlessly entertained. I used to get angry with myself for forgetting everything. But now I laugh when I get turned over to collection agencies for forgetting to pay my bills. I laugh when the waiter brings liver when I ordered crab.

I even laugh at insanity when I see its wild unrecognizable form in my mirror.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

God's Control

video
Nolan, who will be four in a couple of weeks, and I were sitting on the front porch waiting for Audrey's bus to arrive. We had just come from the back yard where I was crocheting a white necklace and he was bringing me bugs he liked to watch roll up into balls.

In my experience with my own kids and grandkids, the transition from a three-year-old to a four-year-old is obvious. No longer little babies, the four-year-old becomes a child, and Nolan is making that transition in some pretty astounding ways.

After a few jumps out of my chair where I avoided the dirt he wanted to place on my leg so I could watch the bug roll up into a little ball ON MY LEG, he agreed to stand close to the chair but not so close he would drop dirt onto my lap, and I could watch the bug in his hand.

He had already ridden his bicycle and his scooter, and he had already played on the swing set before he delved into the dirt that sits in a heap next to the garage.

Now it was time for Audrey to come home, so we sat on the porch listening to the sounds of the birds and waiting for the yellow school bus that would stop a block away, clearly seen from our front porch.

After a couple of minutes, Nolan broke the silence with this question: Does God have a controller that makes us walk and talk?

A smile swept across my face. How did he ever come up with a question like that? Before I could answer him, I had to know where that came from.

"What made you ask that question?" I wanted to know.

"I don't know, but does He?"

"Did somebody else you know ask that question? Did you hear it somewhere?"

"No."

"Well," I went one, "God doesn't control anything you do. Every day, all day, you control what you do by the choices you make. You decide how you are going to act."

"Really? God doesn't have a controller?"

Yes, really. Later, after mom and dad had come home and dinner was cleared, tornado warning sirens caused Brittney and Audrey to race to one door. Nolan ran to another door. Through the sirens, we heard, "What the hell?"

And once again, Nolan was asked, "Where did you hear that?" Only this time, noting the concern in his parents' eyes, he broke down in tears. Brittney picked him up and held him, and explained that we don't use those words, and he eventually calmed down.

The storm calmed too, eventually. We never found out where he heard those words, possibly from watching youtube videos on my iPhone. He's supposed to ask permission before he clicks a video. However, I sometimes find myself grabbing it from him when he doesn't ask and I hear things he shouldn't be watching.

But Nolan is learning how to be a four-year-old and he's learning about how much control he has over his own life.

The video above, an Easter play put on by Audrey and Nolan, is actually Part II of the original video. Part I, the introduction, took up so much time that I ran out of space on my camera before the entire play was complete.


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Sunday, May 22, 2011

I Love the Way God Made You

Scott, Brittney, Nolan, Audrey
We hadn't seen Nolan in several days. Because I've been sick, I haven't been able to watch my grandchildren, so yesterday, after having spent the last several days with his other grandmother (and grandfather), Nolan finally came home.

While Brittney was really excited to see Nolan again and missed him terribly, Audrey was also eager to see her little brother.

I drove Audrey to Briella's Boutique, my daughter's consignment shop, and Nolan, whose grandparents had just dropped him off, came running out of the store to greet me. With arms extended he rushed across the parking lot and jumped into my arms. I told him how much I missed him, spent about 20 minutes in the shop to celebrate Briella's one year anniversary, and went home to rest.

Last night, Nolan came into my room to tell me what Audrey had said to him only minutes before. And this is why my grandchildren melt my heart: "I just love the way God made you, Nolan."

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Depressed to the Point of Tears – And THEN...

Back in '77 when I got out of the hospital from a particularly vicious combination asthma attack and respiratory infection, I thought I was going to die. And I almost did – twice.

A couple of weeks prior to Mother's Day this year I developed another asthma attack, this time combined with bronchitis and pneumonia. I'll admit it – this illness had thrown me into a state of depression so deep I wondered if I'd ever get out of it. I was so upset about it, in fact, I was frightened by the thought that I might never show any improvement.

The asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia were so pervasive, it infiltrated every pore in my body. And it affected my psyche too. I even threw myself a little pity party with this blog, Who Will Miss Me When I'm Gone?

After days of taking Singulair, Advair, Atrovent, Prednisone, Albuterol (in my nebulizer), and up until yesterday, Ciproflaxacin, I couldn't help but ask why none of these drugs were working.

And then, guess what! Last night – finally – a change took place. One of the exercises the doctor sent home with me involves using a device that holds three balls inside. The goal is to inhale, and by inhaling, bring all three balls to the top and hold them there for several seconds.

The first two weeks I could barely get the first ball up to the top and it immediately went back down. I was so upset by the fact that, day after day after day, I showed no improvement whatsoever, I set it aside and refused to even try anymore. The frustration was unbearable.

But I couldn't give up and in the past couple of days, I resolved to pick it up again. Last night the second ball rose to the top and stayed there for one full second! TWICE! This morning I was able – for the first time ever to raise the third ball! It happened only once, but it gives me hope.

I can't tell you how excited I am to know that my lung function has improved! I was terrified that I would be incapable of holding a conversation or walking without losing my breath. But now? Now I know I'll be able to breathe.

I still have a long way to go – two more weeks of a full regimen of drugs and breathing treatments, and I still get winded when I talk or walk, but for the first time in over two weeks, I KNOW I'm going to get better.

So many of you contacted me as a result of that blog, and I want to thank all of you who wrote to me, offered your prayers, your thoughts, and your support. I treasure all of you, and I sincerely believe that your prayers contributed to my improvement. By this time next month I hope to breathe, talk, and walk all at the same time.

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Mother's Day Surprises

Nolan (whose sister loves dressing up)

Audrey playing dress up.
I couldn't publish this article when I wanted to publish it – I was in the hospital. Even now I'm home on breathing treatments and lots of drugs for asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia.

So even though Mother's Day is over, I am sharing a couple of Mother's Day stories about kids who wanted to make their mommy's Mother's Day special.

A writer friend of mine awoke to signs posted on her bedroom door:

Happy Mother's Day!
Don't wake up!
Don't Eat!

So, though she really wanted to take a shower, Maria obediently sat in bed for over an hour while her husband and children shopped for her and brought her a surprise breakfast.

As mothers everywhere will attest, it was well worth the wait. Kids get so excited when they know they're going to surprise Mom (or Dad).

Closer to home, my granddaughter, Audrey, knew exactly what she wanted to make for her mother for Mother's Day – a potholder.

Audrey brought the project to me and once she got the first layer of loops on the loom, she couldn't figure out how to proceed to the next stage – she had lost the tool that would have enabled her to drag the loops over and under the loops already on the loom.

Well, I thought, we could use our fingers. Unfortunately, my fingers weren't cooperating, and even though the new potholder looms are designed to keep the loops attached better than the old ones ever did, once you get to the end, the loops tend to pop off anyway and it's very aggravating.

Audrey was already frustrated and ready to throw in the towel – I mean potholder. Not giving up completely, she asked me to "help" her.

Her little six-year-old fingers couldn't maneuver the weave, though, so we made a plan: she had already strung the bottom layer of loops – I would weave the top loops. She would be responsible for choosing the colors (she has a good eye for colors).

I was having a difficult time using my fingers until I found a plastic coated paper clip. It worked, but I had to be careful not to drag up the lower loops with the inside of the clip.

When the looping and weaving phase was over, she said, "Now what?" So Grandma took over the next job too, while Audrey watched TV, occasionally glancing in my direction when I prompted her, "Look how this is done, Audrey, so the next time you can do it."

"Audrey."

"Audrey!"

She was sitting right next to me but she was watching something fascinating on TV, and it sometimes takes a minimum of three attempts to grab her attention.

As I was at the early stages of getting really sick, my energy level was depleting quickly. I had to set it aside and told her we'd work on it the next day. She was nearly hysterical. "You'll forget!" (How well she knows her grandma.)

But I promised her that we would complete the project; I just needed some rest.

After we (not really "we") weaved it together, I found that pulling off the loops was just as aggravating as it ever was. UNTIL I remembered that I had crochet hooks that just might work! And they did.

After the potholder was complete, I hid the potholder inside a place I thought Audrey's mother might not find. Audrey's instructions on Mother's Day morning were to put the potholder into a small decorative bag, cover the bag with crinkle paper, and with Nolan holding one of the handles, walk together with the present to hand it to their mother.

I spent Mother's Day in the hospital, but I heard the plan worked and Mommy was very happy with her present, even though she knew that her mommy had made it for her under the directions of her daughter.

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Psychotic Nursing Staff

Hospital ID tag, along with drug allergies and a
pink tag to let staff know they cannot apply pressure cuffs
or needles to the side where breast surgery took place.
After being diagnosed with asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia, I was hospitalized. What happened prior to my hospitalization, though, is an abomination to the nursing profession.

A little background: Despite the fact that I try to avoid everything that could possibly make me sick, about twice a year my asthma flares anyway. For the past couple of weeks my breathing was becoming increasingly labored, and everything I did caused me to feel exhausted. The coughing was deep, and it hurt my lungs. Used to experiencing asthma attacks and bronchial spasms, I could tell that this time something was different.

As the days passed, my energy depleted. I couldn't carry on with even low-energy chores. If I pulled out a load of laundry from the dryer, for instance, and walked it over to the couch to fold it, I had to rest immediately. If I made lunch for my grandson, I was so out of breath by the time I finished, all I could do was just sit there and try to catch my breath.

Eventually even just talking wore me out. I couldn't wait to see my pulmonary doctor to get some magical elixir that would clear my lungs. I had an upcoming commitment to watch some of my grandchildren the following week while their father drove their mother to Virginia for surgery, and I HAD to be able to breathe.

So I met with my pulmonary doctor last Friday, hoping for an immediate miracle. He recommended an x-ray. Before I left the office, I was told by Nurse Ratchet that I couldn't call for the results of the x-ray – I had to come in to talk to the doctor about the results! I could barely breathe and she wanted me to to return to the office to hear something that could easily be told to me over the phone.

Even my oncologist told me over the phone that I had breast cancer, and I appreciated the phone call. But to ask someone who can barely breathe to make numerous trips throughout the day is insane.

I called later anyway to see if the results were in, because I wasn't about to drive back to the office only to find out the results were in, but that I still couldn't see the doctor. Yes, Nurse Ratchet told me, they were in, but the doctor wasn't. He wouldn't be returning until Tuesday, and neither she nor anybody else could give me the results. Can you call him for me, I asked. "NO! You'll have to wait until Tuesday."

Aren't nurses supposed to be compassionate and caring? This woman is missing some serious genetic links.

Confused, I asked, "So if it turns out I have pneumonia, I have to wait until Tuesday to find out?" And Psycho woman said in a most condescending tone, "That's right."

Well, it turned out I did have pneumonia and asthma and bronchitis. Though I tried to slow my pace to a standstill, I ended up in the hospital the following morning anyway. The ER doctor told me that the x-ray, which is only 60% accurate showed nothing. He ordered a CAT scan because CAT scans are 90% effective. Whereas the x-ray showed nothing, the CAT scan showed two small spots of pneumonia on my right lung. So in addition to asthma and bronchitis, I was now in the early stages of pneumonia.

I got home yesterday (spent Mother's Day in the hospital), after being given a nebulizer, LOTS of prescription medications, antibiotics, inhalers, and physical therapy tools.

I should have guessed that the staff at my doctor's office would force me to go through hoops to get my prescribed meds. While the doctors who are treating me are very nice and attentive, many of the women in their office are not.

The hospital staff, on the other hand, was amazing, and I couldn't have received better care. As a matter of fact, as a long-time sufferer of insomnia, who has tried so many over-the-counter meds and even a couple of prescription drugs that were given to me by friends (though desperate for sleep, I never once fell asleep due to those sleep aids), I was afraid to try anything because nothing had ever worked.

Before I went to sleep my second night in the hospital, the nurse who'd been concerned (key word in nursing) about my inability to sleep the night before (I didn't fall asleep until ten to four and was up by 5:30), asked me if I wanted something to help me sleep the following night. I relented, and, for the first time in decades, I had the BEST SLEEP EVER.

Interestingly, Ativan comes with precautions for people who have breathing problems, so I was surprised I was taking a drug with those warnings. It's also supposed to be addictive. Still, having gone without a full night's sleep in decades, though I had to be awakened numerous times throughout the night for breathing treatments (at my request – nurses said they would not awaken me if I wanted to sleep through the night, but I REALLY wanted to get out of there, and those breathing treatments helped), I was grateful for finally being able to get some sleep.

I am also so grateful for the hospital staff's concern and care at Riverside Medical Center in Kankakee, IL. They are as concerned and caring as is the staff at the Mills Breast Cancer Institute in Urbana, IL.

However, I'd like to fire a couple (not all) of the nurses and staff at my pulmonary doctor's office. I have never seen such a bunch of non-caring sociopaths in my life. I'd love to send a letter to the doctor about his Hitler, but I know Ms. Sociopath Psycho Woman would intercept it. The women in that office, with some exceptions, should change their careers from medical professionals to executioners. Had I waited until Tuesday, I might have died. Maybe that's what she was hoping would happen.

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Wiza Words on the A to Z April Challenge Reflections Megapost 2011

The Blogging From A to Z April Challenge is over, and it went by so quickly, it truly seems like only yesterday that I wrote my first challenge blog.

The coordinators of the A to Z April Challenge have asked us to contribute our reflections on the challenge and one of the questions they asked was what attracted us to the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge in the first place.

Well isn't it obvious? STRESS, with a Capital S. I wanted to see if, by adding just one more thing to my daily schedule, I could work my way into a nice padded cell on the psych ward of my local hospital. The Blogging From A to Z April Challenge was – shall I say – challenging at best, and stressful at worst.

Every day, all day, Monday through Friday, and sometimes during the weekend, I take care of some very noisy children (whom I love dearly, because they're my grandchildren). From early morning until sometimes as late as midnight, I set aside my writing to attend to my grandchildren. (Don't feel too badly for me though – they provide me with most of my blog material.)

To be honest, the A to Z Challenge was so stressful, I was afraid I might miss a day due to the incessant interruptions. Soooo on the weekend before the challenge, before I committed to joining something that would require even more of my time, I wrote ALL of the blogs but one. As the days approached, I tweaked them a little, but I had written 25 of them in one day in an attempt to relieve myself from some of the stress.

Can anybody say obsessive compulsive?

Anyway, I hadn't posted any of them yet and I was afraid I would forget to post them on the correct day, because I suffer from CRS (I can never remember what that stands for, but I know it has something to do with my short attention span). As a result of my lifelong problem with CRS, I had to wait until the day before each blog was due so that I could schedule it. Knowing I had to remember every day (except one day a week) to schedule the post added even more stress to my already growing anxiety.

I never felt like quitting, though, because once I had committed to the challenge, I was dedicated to finishing the challenge. Because I wrote all but one in one day, I felt somewhat prepared but still stressed. I gave it my best, all things considered, and I can say I'm proud of the work I contributed to the challenge.

The biggest contribution I made to the challenge? Comments I left on other A to Z Challenge blogs. I spent hours commenting, but, like everybody else who tried to comment on all of the blogs, I didn't have enough time in the day to comment on most of them.

Now that this challenge is over, I am going to take an 11-month break, where I will continue to care for my grandchildren, work on my screenplays, my articles, and my blogs (links to which I'm posting at the bottom of this blog just in case you'd like to read any of them), and I will look for moments of peace amidst the turmoil (oh, wait, a new grandchild is due in September, and his or her parents live with me).

Bottom line: My page views TRIPLED during the month of April and I THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for the challenge. It gave me an opportunity to prove to myself that I could do it and I met some really great bloggers who write some very interesting blogs.

OK, I'm going to let you go now – I have to start on my April 2012 A to Z Challenge blogs NOW ;)

WAIT! Before I go – I want to share a writing game with you. Click the Blind Writing Creative Writing Game!

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