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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.



  • Oh you. I just want to reach through this computer and hug you.

    I am so glad you are closer to a diagnosis. Isn't it amazing, that relief when you know finally it is NOT normal and not all in your head?

    I accidentally forgot my medication the other day. I hate it. I don't think it is helping. I am tempted to stop it. I understand people who do this so much better now. I feel a little adrift in a sea of sickness and medicine, no support from the doctor. But the medication probably is doing something. Sometimes I do think it might be helping.

    And as for family? Oh yes. They know right where to push...they probably made the spot, after all.

    Big (HUGS)

    Ravin' Picture Maven

    By Blogger Julie Pippert, at 12:52 PM  

  • Hey stranger!

    I can feel when I read this the "truth" of it all. You're right, I would have said the second day was the better one. I should know better. Having my own complicated relationship with both my mother and father, I should have known.

    I'm sorry that his words temporarily reduced your sense of your self but you--again--are right, it is God seeing us as we are and loving us that is so important.

    I was reading the parable of laborers this week. In the past, I think I've always felt that it was a little unfair. Why do some workers only work a little and get paid the same as the those who worked all day? I always identified with the day-long workers. But now, I can see, the generosity of God. I see more now, my own imperfections, how unloveable I can be. God extends his grace to me just the same. I'll take it.

    You mention this bridge program... what grade is that for? Is our son going to a public school? Or is this part of the homeschooling program? Details, please.

    By Blogger Mary-LUE, at 11:00 AM  

  • Here from Mary LUE. Beautiful thoughts. And the post below about refrigerator humor made me laugh aloud.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:47 PM  

  • Ah no....I'da gone for the visit with the dad being the more stressful, though I have no real love for physicians (though great respect, I'll add!).

    It's tough not to grab back those old tapes and buy into the BS when you want so very much to have what you'll never get to have. But to want it--I think is 'normal' to some extent.

    I figure I came from where I came from for a reason.
    The one place I know I'm loved without conditions isn't touchable -- unless I let it be. And sometimes (cuz I'm not 'there' yet!) I let it be.
    Good thing the Big Guy knows me well and embraces that part of me as well, eh?

    *sending positive, peacefilled thoughts*

    By Blogger Mel, at 10:38 PM  

  • beautiful post. you are such a good writer. thinking of you, sweetheart. ((hugs))

    By Blogger jouette, at 11:23 AM  

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