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Thursday, August 23, 2007

two days

Sometimes, when I look at how my mood is affected by the happenings on any given day, I am confronted with the evidence that “atypical” is quite an apt description of me. Take, for example, two days from last week.

First the commonalities – both days contained mornings filled with activity in preparedness for the Instigator to begin his “real school” career, a summer bridge program for incoming freshman. Both days followed with the necessity of transporting the N boy to his place of work. Both days entailed meal preparation, child caring, bedtime struggles, and plenty of bickering.

The first of the two days was causing me some minor nervous anticipation. It was my quarterly rheumatology appointment. The nerves came from realizing I had to be honest with the doctor, and tell him I had stopped taking my medication. It started off innocently enough. When my mother was in the hospital, and things were going just a bit crazy, I started slacking off on the meds. It wasn’t intentional. But, as I slacked off and felt no difference, I thought I would stop taking them for a bit to see if they were really making any difference. Considering the fact that these are long term meds that can cause some adverse physical effects, I thought it might actually even be a wise course of action.

Eventually, I did notice a difference (after several weeks), but by that time, I was almost due for my blood work, so I decided to hold off on resuming until afterwards. Being the procrastinator and rationalizer that I am, further delay tactics were within easy grasp. With only a week remaining until my doctor’s appointment, wouldn’t it be wiser to consult the physician before resuming the medication to make sure he didn’t want me to ease into it rather than start up with the increased dosage?

I don’t tend to feel very confident and secure around medical professionals. As a result, a myriad of hypothetical conversations floated in my brain – in an attempt to find the best way to avoid being on the receiving end of a disapproving word. Tension.

The second of the two days involved my father. He has been living out of state with my half-sister for some time. He was visiting the area and staying with my sister. He called to see if I was going to be home.

My relationship with my father is a complex one. My parents separated when I was two and divorced when I was three. I always loved my father fiercely, but I am not sure I ever liked him very much. Mine was a childhood filled with broken promises of visitation. Alcohol played a part in many of the let downs. Still, after I confronted him at age eighteen and informed him that we could get along fine as long as he stopped trying to be my father and tell me what to do – since I felt he had lost that privilege by never being there for me when I really needed a father (so much for long life from honoring my father and mother), we have actually had a pretty peaceful relationship. I still love him fiercely. We get each other on a deep level.

I told him I would be home in the afternoon.

The rheumatology day arrived. I managed to keep my voice – setting my downfalls on the table the moment he entered the room. Though my blood work results were normal, my ankle was swollen, my Achilles tendon was thickened, my right knee, left hip, fingers, and lower back all showed moderate fluid retention. I even found the courage to tell the doctor I had noticed other symptoms a few weeks after halting the medication – symptoms that wouldn’t appear to have anything to do with my ankle (a risky venture since disclosure of this sort always chances the condescending look from many medical professionals). Everything about me evidenced the need for a continuation of long-term medication.

My father’s visit came. I had begun to think that he wasn’t coming as the clock ticked by, but he had merely gotten lost coming to my house. The majority of the visit took place on the front porch where, due to my father’s short term memory losses, we had the same conversation six or seven times for the first forty-five minutes. He let me know he was in the preparatory stages of moving back to the area and plans to take more of a role in his grandchildren’s lives.

One would think, from the evidence, that the better of the two days would have been the second.

One would be wrong to make such an assumption.

For years I have had issues with my knee, my back, and my hips. I have sporadically seen doctors for these issues. Due to the nature of the medical field, the ailments were never acting up by the time I saw the doctors, but the answers were always little nothings – bursitis, runner’s knee (a.k.a. patellofemoral stress syndrome), a degenerating disk in my lumbar spine. For years I have had other little issues – things I rarely even mention to doctors because I can’t remember a time when they weren’t issues in my life, so I have always chalked them up to being normal. But, a part of me has always felt that the “acting up” of these different joints and different systems were somehow related. Unfortunately, as they were never acting up when anyone saw me, they diagnosed the other issues present and treated me to the condescending looks.

My rheumatologist is different. He was almost giddy with excitement. Here was very clear evidence that his narrowing of the disorder was on exactly the right track. The five possibilities he has been considering fit perfectly with this newfound evidence. These things ARE all related, and it isn’t just in my head! To be fair, those other “minor” conditions also exist. We are really no closer to determining which of the five diseases effects me personally. My treatment will not change. But I know, and so does he, that none of this is in my head.

My house was a wreck when my father visited. It usually is. Of course, in the past few weeks, this has been even truer than usual (due, in part, to construction and increased time commitments). I was tired and a bit worn down.

My father evidenced to me that his ability to put his finger right on the spots of deepest insecurity – turn and gouge, turn and gouge – is still alive and well. I knew this. His unerring talent for taking a few little words and turning them into character judgment (all while making it seem that you are the only one with a problem and never him) hasn’t struck such a resounding chord on me since my younger years. Two little sentences, twelve little words, and suddenly I am without self-esteem. Logic plays no part in this little drama. It is all raw nerves and childish longing.

Two days, one following the other, they are just simple boxes on my calendar page. And yet, two simple days have such power to make me understand how precious the gift remains – God’s gift of seeing me, not as the world sees, but for who I truly am….and loving me anyway.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

refrigerator humor

Upon the plastic baggy which encases the instigator's left-over french fries are written the following words:

S's: Touch this and you will be mauled by 3,000 poodles, 3 spotless giraffes, and a farting leopard!

Need I say more?


ode to a working computer

Ah, sweet peace doth grace my heart
As fingers touching keys transmit
Their binary tendrils of understanding
Onto the screen
So recently blank and white!

Such dread fear did dare to fill my veins
As screen following screen fell ill
In grandest domino-tian homage -
Upstairs and down -
A single technician to share.

Oh horror unimaginable upon my back
As insult and injury combined
In vicious scheme of foulest battle drawn -
No ping was heard.
The interweaving net had fallen down.

But, joy! Sweet joy reigns now within me deep
As pressing publish will result in post
Drawn nobly from within the delayed stress -
So hard to bear -
Of several days without the blogosphere!

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

too much is not enough

Every week, I find myself composing posts in my head in response to Julie’s Hump Day Hmms.

Only twice have I actually managed to write them – three times if you count today (for which the prompt is Too Much of a Good Thing). I do realize that in order for this to still be considered the day of the hump, I would have to lie about my time zone, but I am a lot closer to timely than I have perhaps ever been before.

Ah, the world of blogging. It is, indeed, a marvelous world – full of quirks, unexpected beauties, free humor, and even a seedy underbelly (which is simultaneously more and less despairing than its corporeal sister). I remember stumbling into the world – not through fur coats in a wardrobe, but in hungry anticipation of a few friends’ words.

I? Do everything by obsession. Reading my friends’ blogs was never enough. It wasn’t long before I was clicking on everyone in their “favorites” lists. Pretty soon after that I was reading every archive in every blog on those lists. Ever the people-watcher, I found myself following links from links until I eventually lost track of the starting point. Finally I started to write.

And then came Mary (and a simple comment to me – my very first from someone to whom I was not already in some way connected).

Not only did she fuel my desire to read more and dig deeper, but she began to coax me out of my shell, and I actually started commenting on blogs from time to time. There was never enough time in the day to express all of the feelings of love and compassion I had for so many people who didn’t even know I existed.*

You know, when you have children, for some strange reason they expect you to pay attention to them once in awhile?

When I read books, I sometimes go on a marathon of reading. I read while I cook, while I bathe children, while I teach school, while I converse with little ones. I sleep a lot less than I need to sleep for days on end. And then? Just as suddenly as it began, it ceases. I read the same sentence over and over but absorb nothing. That’s when I pick up the puzzle books.

Did you know that it is possible to do kakuro for 12 hours straight without getting a migraine? Or maybe this month it is spider solitaire (or freecell, or a rotating list of favorite versions of solitaire from the program boasting its 144 different options).

They stop. They return. They end again - ebb and flow with the cycles of the moon.

When I first fell in love with Jesus, it was with the roller-coaster thrill of emotional response. The passion waxed and waned - my commitment level piggy-backing on the tide of feelings.

For me, at first, there is always too much of a good thing. Sometimes those initial bursts of overmuch peter into nothingness. Other times the waves continue to beat a regular rhythm, rushing in to fill any void.

The happiest endings? Occasionally, as with my relationship with God, there is a stabilizing that comes with the maturing of a bond. There are still oscillations, but the extremes are less profound. There is still passion, but it is of a gentler, deeper sort that permeates the secret reaches – that comes from knowing and being known.

*I did eventually come to a relatively happy ending with the blogging. I got selective on how much I read and how much I check up on. I still never have the time to comment or write that I wish I had. One of these obsessions, maybe I will learn to type.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

short talk

A few quick quotes for the week (short a few since I am down two kids for the week):

The Pink One (during prayers): And God, help us get big and strong, and get a gun (after her oldest brothers came home with Nerf guns).

Spongebob(age 6): When I get older I am going to build a rocket and go to sleep while it flies to Jupiter. And I'll see Benjamin (cat who died over a year ago). Pause. That's where all of the dead cats live.

The Instigator (age 14): Me like meat.

The N boy (16): I had to do something with myself; playing computer games gives me a headache when I'm sick (after basket weaving a coaster and a placemat from the disposable tape measures they have at IKEA).

The Dad: I'm out of Iced Tea.

The Mom: I wish one of us had possessed a neatness gene to pass on to at least some of our kids.

A silly song the girl likes at bedtime:
Pink likes chocolate milk, chocolate milk, chocolate milk
Pink likes chocolate milk, yes she does.

This then has to be repeated for every member of the family.

In order to save time last night, I tried to get out of it by singing, "Everybody likes chocolate milk..." but as I was leaving the room, Spongebob called after me:

"Mom, you forgot about the part that says 'Everybody likes chocolate milk except for the lactose intolerant people. But if they try to drink it anyway, they die'."

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