You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘babbling commentary’ category.

The last post in here was forever ago!  My life has been chaotic to say the least.  I had my surgery (after a last minute approval which I’ll detail later) on July 29th.  I was out of the hospital on Aug 2nd and apparently doing fine.  As part of my at home recovery I had to give myself shots of Lovenox, a blood thinner.  A few days later I was back in the hospital with a major GI bleed.  My blood count dropped to a 6.  I had transfusions and many IVs to clear the blood thinner out of my system.  I had to wear a heart monitor since my heart had gone into tachycardia while I was so anemic.  It was pretty frightening.  Again, I’ll go into that later. 

I returned home from the hospital on Aug 10th.  That was an expensive stretch.  Then on Aug 22nd I was back in the ER with extreme digestive problems and pain.  It turns out I picked up a bug from the blood issue hospitalization.  I had allowed myself to get extremely dehydrated too.  All of that combined into a nasty spell of a few days being hooked up to IVs and having various tests run again.  I missed the first two weeks of school because of it.  I had to resign from my fall coaching position and my surgeon was there to witness the waterfall of tears.  When I returned to school I was a mess.  I still had a hard time eating.  I was still dehydrated.  I was trying to make up for my absence with getting to know the kids and getting all of my grading done.  It was beyond stressful.

I worked and worked these past three months.  Now, finally, Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away and I have time to type.  I’m down about 80 pounds from my heaviest last January when I went in for the consultation with the surgeon.  That should be great news, right?  Ha!  Being so damaged from constant negative fat comments, I still think I look huge.  I am still always on the verge of falling into the hopeless and negative thoughts that are so intertwined between food and mood.  These two things have been my life since I can remember – even as a child.

The R.A. is what this is really about.  There is research and I’ll post a link if I find one that suggests if an R.A. patient undergoes the RNY gastric bypass that the digestive re-routing has a positive effect on joint pain.  In other words, that the effects of changing up the digestive tract counteracts the R.A.  Whatever the real research is there, I can say that my feet have not hurt in all of October and November.  That searing hot, stabbing pain that was a dreaded part of my every morning as my feet swang from my bed to the floor is gone.  What a relief!  I also notice that my fingers aren’t as stiff.  I wonder if it is the cutting back of sugar from my diet?

The post-op RNY diet is extreme and that accounts for the weight loss and lifestyle change.  I was eating absolute trash all along before this.  I was even binge eating at times, usually times that correlated with depression, anxiety, loneliness, and stress (which is pretty much 90% of my world).  Post-op, if I even eat one bite too much of something I end up praying to the porcelain gooddess…so to say.  It isn’t pretty.  I’m learning through just such negative reinforcement to portion control and be wiser in my food choices.  If what I eat isn’t guaranteed to make it through me, than I better pack what I do eat with nutrients.  Thus, the 80 pound difference.

Would I suggest RNY to morbidly obese friends and family members?  Absolutely! 

While there is nothing easy or quick fix about medically altering your physiology, there is hope in it where diets and will power have failed.  Even the positive effects of gastric bypass may be negated, the pouch can stretch from overeating, food choices may revert back to old habits, high caloric foods and drinks may still lead to weight gain – etc.  I know those risks exist and threaten my success each day.  I know my mind is still the same mind that allowed myself to turn to food for self-medication.  I’m still me no matter what the scale and closet say.  This is where I need to get real serious.

There is a lot of work to be done introspectively.  I need to meet my mental demons head on.  I need to grieve and process anger.  I need to recognize the hard struggles I’ve endured and make ammends with my regrets.  There is a long road of psychological atonement that I must walk, and just like the weight loss it must be slow and steady to be effective.

As far as the insurance company goes, they paid for everything.  I’ve had to cover some co-payments here and there, but otherwise it is all good!  Thank the good Lord!  There is no way that I could have handled the estimated expenses I was looking at as all of the bills poured in.  Three separate hospitalizations was REALLY, REALLY, REALLY expensive!  I’m grateful to be feeling better, doing better and walking, biking, and even jogging, for the first time in a long time.  I’m glad that I did this bariatric procedure!

Advertisements

It isn’t like this is a new idea.  I live in the Chicago suburbs.  Lately, we (as well as much of the Midwest) have been getting hammered by one severe storm after another.  These low pressure cycles sweep through in an aggressive rush rendering old oak trees a little lighter as wind gusts of up to 70 mph free the trees of their spindly bare branches.  There are a lot of older trees in the area that have these dead limbs.  I park my car under one that threatens to splinter with a strong blast.  Thus, I would probably need a new car.  The oak trees in my neighborhood range from about three stories to five stories tall.  It is impressive.  Like a skeletal system, these sturdy and strong wooden bodies endure the tribulations of the four seasons.  Like my skeletal system, severe weather, pushes them to suffer more than is the status quo.

I’m sure that these storms have more than arthritis patients aching.  I’ve heard that people with broken bones can sense the change in the weather too.  Apparently, as a low pressure boundary encroaches, once-broken bones may have an opportunity to expand more.  High pressure feels good because it helps to push that somewhat compromised bone together.  With RA, high pressure helps to press our swollen, aching, and compromised joints together.  Low pressure allows for the aches and pains to fire up.  This is how it was explained to me.  Looking at the sizes of the ganglion cysts on the top of my right foot seems to be confirming the hypothesis.

It was almost three weeks ago that I started a short-dose of prednisone to combat the bursitis I had developed from a rather innocuous nodule on my left achiles.  The bubble on my left heel was simple unsightly.  My feet, in general, are unsightly.  Nonetheless, I took the damn prednisone.  It is amazing how much better EVERYTHING felt.  Yes, not medicating with methotrexate and the other cocktail of RA drugs means that I’ve pretty much allowed myself to “tune out” the usual aches and pains of the eveyday.  But, what a difference about three days of prednisone made.  It was unbelievable!  I was running and jumping and chasing my two and a half year old niece around her swingset with ease.  Then the course of the prednisone was finished.

Within one week, and in combination with this powerful weather, I’ve felt like garbage.  I notice the achiness of my fingers and wrists.  I’ve seen the bubble reappear on my left heel and watching the crazy swelling of the larger bubbles on the top of my right foot.  RA said, “remember me?” and made its return loud and clear.  Yet, I am still holding my meds.  I saw my G.P. doc yesterday for a pre-op physical and he  was intrigued that I was so much more conscious of the RA pain.  We both agreed that it is a case of that adage: “It is sometimes easier to live with the devil you know, than the angel you have never met.”  I think that going without meds for more than a year now I was certainly accustomed it.  Sure, the weather would turn, and I would ache.  This is not something that a perfectly normal and healthy individual might not also feel.  This is just how it is.

What I find ironically and strangely symbolic is that as the weather rages, it sends me raging at the conscious acknowledgment that I do in fact have RA.  I think, not having popped pills and poked myself with syringes, it was kind of easy to forget that I had it.  Sure, those first steps in the morning always felt like I was walking on shards of broken glass, but by 10 a.m. I was doing fine.  I also wasn’t logging posts here, so I really didn’t dicuss or think about RA for weeks at a time.  I was too busy.  It seems like this past spring was one of the most mild ones I can remember in a long time.  That helps to the illusion of being RA free.  And since I’m not taking meds, I don’t see my rheumatologist – after all, what is the point?  She will say, “take this” and I’ll say, “no thank you.”

Anyway, the weather now reminds me that I indeed have this damn disease.  The bubbles (those ugly arthritic nodules) reminds me that I have it.  The searing joint pain, yes, hot and stinging – more than achy, reminds me too.  I had a dream last night where I was running (with great ease) through a beautiful park.  I decided that I wanted to see more and more of this park so I just kept on running.  The running was so smooth and I was breathing a healthy heavy breathing, not anything like the pre-heart-attack huffing and gasping I’d probably do if I tried this in real life.  The dream was so simple and lovely.  Then I woke up and had to go to the bathroom.  I was immediately frustrated by the pain from my feet.  There it was: reality.

I’ve been reading a lot lately.  Part of it is school related.  I’m trying to get a jump on planning for the fall.  I want to be AWESOME this coming school year!  In all of my reading, I can so easily “get behind” characters who rise to a challenge, attack it creatively, and achieve a level of success.  I see it happening in the pages and then step back to the real world.  Things are such a mess, besides my own personal health woes.  There is the oil disaster, the bankrupt state budgets (which I fear will negatively impact me next spring), the human rights sturggles that have always been a part of mankind but are thrown much more in our face due to the instant accessibility of our mainstream media, and probably most sad, this ever-more-pronounced sense that I feel in culture’s move away from heart, spirituality, faith.  It is a dog eat dog world out there, nature is venting her fury, and when it seems like masses of humans should be reaching out to one another with kind, open hearts – myself included – we tend to get more and more wrapped up in the rat race.  Sure there are exceptions, with certain individuals who can embody peace, generosity, and spiritual strength despite the storm…sure, even individuals can shift in and out of that mode too.  I consider myself that type.  Yet, I can’t help shaking this sense that we are all in the midst of a severe storm.  Although it may seem sunny at the moment, the storm is still raging in other ways.  It is in the worry I see carved into my dad’s wrinkles when he wonders how Medicare will sustain my mother once my dad retires from his firm three years from now?  If Medicare collapses or adjusts its benefits, will my parents have the retirement funds to make it?  It is in brother-in-law’s worry-laiden pondering as he fears that the collapse of the state budget will mean deep, deep public education cuts.  As a music teacher, he fears for the worst, especially given his Masters + 30 pay scale credentials will mean fewer schools would consider him.  God, such sad irony that a budget determines something like the weeding-out process of candidates.  My sister, knowing that this is the case, wonders how she can remain a stay-at-home mom and knows that a newer home with the additional bedroom she would need for the next baby they want is no longer in the cards at this time.  The storm is too unpredictable to think even that close-range into the future.  And, what happens if I get riffed?  Will I be able to afford Cobra?  How long would it take me to find a job given the sheer numbers of potentially out of work teachers when the projections of next year’s cuts combine with the realities of the cuts from this year?  It is terribly messy.  I wonder what can be done?  Where will the fixes come from?  Didn’t I too believe in the Hope that Obama seemed to embody?  I’m certainly not against him.  I just can’t imagine anyone short of a legit messiah being able to tackle the problems of this country, let alone the world, and being able to make a signigicant change without being able to conjure a few miracles.  At times, the suffering, the storms, the destruction and dysfunction seems so much that I can’t help to believe we are in some sort of “end of days.”  If the Mayan calendar has it right, I just might not need to worry about paying back some of my credit card debt.

How did I ever get so off topic?  Goodness.  On the flip side of this storm idea is that there is always “the calm after the storm,” which implies that to know such calm we must know the storm.  In order to bring this back to RA, I will suggest that my dream of carefree running suggests the possibility that I can achive it.  When my culture, my own family’s struggles, appear to be rather omninous, I can choose to believe in the hope of my own personal health.  Maybe the advancement of medicine and technology will mean that my RA is not so debilitating as it has been for my mom.  Maybe it means that should I be blessed with my own children, there will someday be a treatment to eliminate this gene from their genetic make-up.  Maybe, it is just the simple hope that I will experience that calm after the storm because I can, once again, trick my mind into thinking about something else and I’ll “forget” the pain.  Whatever the case, I am not an ostrich hiding my head in the sand because there is a storm raging at this moment.  I am aware.  I can sense it.  And, I can always hope.

This will (unfortunately) continue to explore this idea of anger.  Let me please preface this by saying I am completely torn at the moment since I’m trying hard to resolve my current anger with deep breathing, mindfulness, and empathy.  Despite my best efforts, I’m still very angry.  Here is the situation.  I was enjoying a nice ride on a summer afternoon, simply commuting, but really taking notice of the sunshine and the lack of heavy traffic and the way the grass was so so so green along this stretch of rather unremarkable road.  I was lost in thoughts about colors and sunlight when my sister, the middle one, called and told me that mom was looking for me because her knee went out….again.  I was maybe 20 minutes away so I just drove over.

It feels like a broken record just skipping over and over again.  Mom goes from managing to complete break down.  Everything in everyone’s world must accommodate this.  It is 11 p.m. and I’m just wrapping up a day’s worth of unplanned-for care-taking.  Forget that I was invited to a gathering of friends I had not seen in a couple of years…I had to go get groceries that we had no room for in the already over-stuffed fridge.  I had to water the unplanted plants that I begged my mom not to purchase knowing that nearly two months after the green spree they would still be sitting in their little containers on the the patio…in fact over-running the patio so that no one can even sit in a chair out there.  I had to do the ridiculous pet-feeding.  Can someone verify that this is indeed a vet’s inside joke?  Okay, the dog gets a little dry kibble, a mix in of organic meat and veggie thing, and a scooping of canned green beans (it is a scoop of pumpkin pie mix if it is in the am) – then that gets microwaved for 9 secs and 70% power.  The cat has a similar deal, minus the pumpkin/green bean thing – but, yes, still microwaved.  Then I went grocery shopping.  Then I started dinner.  This is where the evening began to go downhill.  It began when the dog was pawing at something underneath my mom’s recliner.  I flipped the chair back expecting to find a dog toy, rather I found a Vicodin.  Okay…stray nacortics….great.  My mom has been hitting up the Vicodin, no shock.  I got a prescription of Vicodin for RA pain too.  I also got it post Gallbladder surgery and other procedures.  I still have it all in the old prescription bottles.  I barely use it, if at all, since I have felt so friggin’ high on it and because it kills my already messed up stomach.  So, there is that.  Next, my mom, who claims to be on Weight Watchers, wants a wilted lettuce salad.  Well, here comes bacon.  Someone please tell me if I’m wrong, but having to combat RA is bad just on its own; throw in obesity and (as I know) that can only make things worse.  The joints of a healthy, but obese person, are already under stress just from weight alone, right?  And, here, today, this knee joint is acting up…so, it would then make sense to fry up bacon, use the remaining BACON GREASE, add SUGAR, SALT (yeah, there is something else an obese person needs), and other stuff to create a “dressing” that then is dumped all over the lettuce so that it wilts into a greasy, sugary, salty, plus crumbled bacon, SALAD?  I don’t get that.  I asked my mom if we really needed to do this “salad.”  She asked why I was asking, to which I replied, “because I don’t want to have to clean up the frying pan.”  This was a truth.  She told me that, at most, she only has bacon maybe once a week.  This has to be impossible.  There was one week where the frying pan had to be cleaned following bacon at breakfast, then I had to clean it again following a BLT for a late lunch, and then the next day it was a fried ham steak – just fancier and thicker bacon.  So this conflict over the “salad” escalated and turned into the typical, I’m mean and my mom suffers more than is humanly possible to understand or empathize with.  My dad showed up and things just kind of got worse.

This down-turned economy has hit him hard.  He is extremely worried about how to make ends meet.  As part of my mom’s many issues, she now has had an audiologist offer to design a hearing aid so that she can hear p, t, th, and some other vowels more clearly.  My dad freaked a little a the cost of this designer hearing aid and asked my mom if he could get the specs for the device and then shop the hearing aid around.  This is what my dad does.  I think that the Jeep dealer maybe made $100 comission by the time my dad ran deal after rebate after promotion over him.  My mom was not going to have any part of that.  She blew up, starting bawling about how she is “a cripple” and how my dad could just take it go to all the stores he wants….and so on and so forth.  Two seconds later I was asked to go fetch her sleeping pills so that she could retire to her recliner.  I brought down a pill and then was scolded for not bringing the whole bottle.  Then I supervised the dog’s peeing, fetched a pillow, and somewhere got the dishes from dinner done, noticing how the green beans that I had to cut and trim the bad parts off of, all got thrown away…so that was a great investment of my time there.  I was getting madder by the minute.  My mom had my dad dig out crutches, which then she snapped about how they were not sized right and who messed with them…and my dad tried to fix them only to be told it still wasn’t right.  Then my mom had to go to the bathroom.

Flashback to Christmas of 2008.  Same thing, or something like it.  We are all gathered at my middle sis’s house.  My mom and dad are really, really late.  My mom has something give and the whole holiday, I kid you not, the whole holiday is completely efffffed up…not because something medical requires attention, but it is HOW she whips the whole matter of fact medical thing into a life or death, she should just be dead and out of our hair, and why, why, why, why me thing.  At that point, my maternal grandmother had been deceased a little while and we had all of her nursing home things in the basement – along with wall to wall and floor to ceiling other relics (a la hoarding issues). So my dad put my mom in her mom’s former wheelchair.  Then we had to put this high-chair toilet thing in our 1st floor tiny bathroom.  Well, that toilet thing made a reappearance tonight and it just reminded me off all that wonderful holiday drama.  Our family is supposed to meet for father’s day on Sunday at this lovely park.  I doubt that we can do that now.  It is frustration all over again.

What is more frustrating is that I’m now considering if I’ll actually be able to do this ELECTIVE surgery that I’ve been working up to.  I’ve saved up some money to cover what the insurance can’t, yet, I’m worried about the burden I’ll be on my family as I try to bounce back from it.  Will it be just one more thing to stress my dad?  My youngest sis is scheduled for a lumber fusion at the end of July.  I’m scheduled for mid July.  Then, who knows what my mom will ask of this ortho-god-doc who she wants to have do a knee replacement operation on her STAT.  How is that fair to my dad?  My youngest sis absolutely needs the fusion.  My mom will probably also absolutely need the replacement.  Where does that leave me?  I believed that I need this help too – mostly so that I don’t slide down the slippery slope of despair into my mom’s poor quality of life.  I asked her tonight if losing some significant weight would help this whole knee thing…I asked while I was obliging her mood by frying up the damn bacon.  She said no.  She assures me that really overweight people get knee replacements as much as normal sized people.  But again, if losing weight, even just by making a smart choice in the realm of what is a healthy salad and what is an excuse to eat bacon, could help the situation, then wouldn’t that be something to attempt with a real attempt at attempting?

I’m so frustrated.  I helped.  I did everything that was asked of me.  I had to go against my better judgment.  I had to listen to the moaning, gasping, and sighing that went on and on (like it does even on “good” days).  I had to hear my parents fight.  I saw how tired and old and beaten down my dad looked when I glanced at him working on an order, punching the keys of his laptop out of frustration and regret.  Sometimes people ask me, “if you could go back to some point of your life, knowing what you know now, would you do something differently?”  I think I know where I would go and what I would do, but I wonder about my dad….would he think to have never married my mom?  I know he will be loyal and dedicated until his dying breath…but is her spiraling into these snaps and breaks on an ever-more frequent basis draining the life out of him….her sole provider?  It is all so irrational and messy and dark.

This is that anger.  I take and deep breath and I try to imagine myself in her shoes.  I can and I can’t.  I have pain – all the time, sure, I’m not taking medication.  I’m twenty-six years younger.  I have crunching noises that I started to hear in my knees last December…they hurt and I often marvel at the capacity of our skeletal system to endure the things humans slam it with.  I can’t empathize with my mom’s situation.  I drove by a road-kill fox on my way to work today and I empathized more with it.  This makes me feel like a mega-brat.  How can I care more about a fox I never met than the now complete invalid of my mom?  What is wrong with me?  I pray to God that I will not go to my grave without having ever achieved some sort of forgiveness/reconciliation/atonement with my mom.  She has buried her sister, mother, and father and never really achieved healthy relationships with them during their lives.  My mom was always, and continues to be, a very angry human.

As much as I don’t want to be her, I get consumed by my anger in moments like this.  I can be so peaceful, so positive, so intellectual, so proactive…and then I’m thrown from my tracks with my mom having one her crisis situations.  I’ve tried so hard to be this somebody, anybody else, that the anger of having to try for that fuels the fire more.  Simply put, I have mom issues.  It breaks my heart to see this suffering that I perceive in my dad, the ultimate caretaker.  I can sympathize forever on that, but I can’t with my mom.  Going back to being little kids, my middle sis can’t understand why I just can’t be nicer.  “I did what see asked me to do for her,” I counter.  “But you weren’t caring or warm about it.  You did it like it was a job,” she would say…..and, that is the truth.

The term “Caregiver” implies “care.”  I’m not that person.  I don’t do this routine over and over again because I care.  I do it out of birth order duty and proximity.  My youngest sis is too far, the middle sis is too busy being a mom.  The pure fact of my singleton status, leaves me.  I’ve seen the news magazine stories where the one family member is plagued by some life-changing thing: brain damage, ALS, cervical trauma, and the family members rally around this one individual showering him/her with love, attention, devotion, positivity….they care.  I wonder if my mom believes that she should have that too.  We do what we have to and that is about it.  So sad.  So so so sad.

I’ve said that I don’t suffer from RA. I do, however, contend that I suffer because of RA.  Tonight is the perfect example of how this shadow of RA (mom’s RA) continues to impact my family.

I promise to get back to something more positive as there are other things to discuss in the larger scheme of things.  I’m just fired up on this right now, so – as I thought it would – my writing has been cathartic…phew!

“With the care that it receives from its mother each infant is able to have a personal existence, and so begins to build up what might be called a continuity of being. On the basis of this continuity of being the inherited potential gradually develops into an individual infant. If maternal care is not good enough then the infant does not really come into existence, since there is no continuity of being; instead the personality becomes built on the basis of reactions to environmental impingement.” (from “The Theory of the Parent-Infant Relationship,” 1960)

“Maternal failures produce phases of reaction to impingement and these reactions interrupt the ‘going on being’ of the infant. An excess of this reacting produces not frustration but a threat of annihilation. This in my view is a very real primitive anxiety, long antedating any anxiety taht includes the word death in its description.” (from “Primary Maternal Preoccupation,” 1956)

D. W. WINNICOTT

Thanks to Winnicott and the whole transition object idea, I think that I have some semblance of an understanding as to what went on in my own infancy.  My mom, dad, and grandmother complete this tale as they have filled in the blanks over the years.  Let me begin.

My parents attended the same high school but one year apart.  They grew up in southern Illinois and went to a large high school, so they didn’t know each other.  My dad was, and God bless him for it still, a nerd.  My mom was a socialite.  My dad’s parents were blue-collar working class types.  My mom’s parents were more middle-class merchants.  The possibility of these two ever getting married was probably some bookie’s worst odds nightmare.  And yet…. My dad got into The University of Illinois’ College of Engineering…M.E. (those of you who know engi-nerding know what that means, eh?).  My mom attended junior college at first, and then later transferred to UIUC for her Education degree (yeah, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree on that one either, although I tried, tried, tried to do other careers less kid-related).  My mom did all that sorority stuff and my dad wore glasses and carried a slide calculator.  This sounds so cliche doesn’t it?

My parents met from sharing a ride from U of I to their hometown together.  My mom must have seen something about my dad and that was it.  She dumped her boyfriend, made sure my dad knew she was interested, and the rest is ball and chain – forty years ago this summer.  This was just as the 60’s were wrapping up and the 70’s were setting in.  My dad took a job requiring them to eventually settle in the Chicago burbs, which gave my mom the opportunity to teach school in a nearby town to where I eventually grew up.  She did this very, very briefly (three years maybe) and then once I was on the schedule, she became the stay-at-home-housewife-super-mom (that my “super mom” middle sister is now).  My parents designed and built the same home that they still have today.  They had a dog and a baby on the way.  Both of their parents lived five and a half hours away and the one and only aunt I would have was a busy singleton living in the city.  Their world was small, neat, and tidy – just like how the house used to be.

I am told that I was “right on time” with my due date.  The labor was four hours long in the fourth month of the year at four in the morning.  Other than these details, the number four has never been a special number to me.  My mom claims that the doctor who delivered me was drunk after partying late into the night following a day of golfing.  Whatever the case, drunk doctor, promptness, whatever…I was born a healthy baby.  My parents were overjoyed and their lives changed – as change is the ever-present factor of life.  They brought me home to the house on the lightly wooded lot near a park.  My mother tells me that she knew right away that something was wrong with her.  She claimed to be overwhelmed by sadness while the rest of the family was basking in joy.  She couldn’t ever hold me and soothe me.  I screamed and pushed and fought against her touch.  Although I nursed, she claims it was always a “power struggle” and that I was never gentle.  I spent my days screaming fitfully, driving her crazy, and then when my dad would return home, I would coo and giggle and fall asleep on his stomach while he crashed on the couch.  This pattern continued, according to my mom, and she felt terrified by the madness of her situation, her mind, the torture of being left along with me all day long.  She asked my dad if she could “see someone.”  He said no.  Who knows the real way that conversation went down, but my guess is she didn’t divulge the severity of the situation and my dad, not having had any relatives ever seek mental health treatment, didn’t understand or ever rationalize that a woman who should be so grateful for a healthy newborn, a lovely new home, and the freedom to stay in it and raise said baby could not be happy.  Nonetheless, my mom’s postpartum depression deepened.  Her resentment at me for being a sweet baby each day my dad came home only fueled this negative experience all the more.  There is actually a picture of me pulling myself up, even before I could walk, to look out the window at the driveway waiting for my dad to come home.  I think I’ve even remembered this at some point because I did this for a couple of years and later saw my youngest sister do the exact same thing, although it was a different dog posing alongside in her picture seven years later.

Psychology claims that children can not make memories prior to around the age of three.  Yet, despite my being able to give an accurate narrative of those three precious years, there is something profound that must have taken place because I am 100% certain that the mother-child bond was not established and never really has been in all the years since.  I know that I had my transitional object (still do, and yes I am in my mid-thirties)…Baby Bear.  “Baby” went everywhere with me.  I had a cute little nursery that both of my parents worked so lovingly on prior to my arrival.  There was a favorite blanket and another stuffed animal (long gone now) and these things, plus my books, were my world.  My mom read books too – on how to raise the perfect kid.  The early 70’s were full of some hippie-type child rearing theories, and I was guinea pig for them all.  There was this idea that if I was constantly crying that I should be left along to “cry it out.”   My sister, the “super mom,” would never, never do that for, if her baby cries, then there is something wrong.  Yet, I was left to cry and scream, and grip the railings of my crib.  Maybe there was some level of fear that I experienced when the one parent that I did bond with, my dad, left the house to go to work.  I was left with a mom who must have been such a bundle of mental woes that even a newborn could sense it.  This may be where some of the anger started.  I’m sure that it is.

When I was three, my sister was born.  Her delivery was early, funny because she spent the rest of her life arriving to things late.  If we were two of the Seven Dwarfs I’d be Doc and she would be Sleepy.  Being premature, she was tiny, frail, sickly, and in need of constant attention.  She bonded with my mom and I must have grown more resentful at yet another thing that upset my mojo.  I guess feeling as if I’ve had to always fight for the limelight became a neurosis of mine even way back then.  With two kids, things actually went along pretty well.  My sister and I got along for the most part and were highly complementary.  Where I was tough and messy and wild, she was cute and girlie and quiet.  And for almost four years we enjoyed this family of four.  My mom room-mothered at my Elementary school and still managed to play her regular tennis games and go for her morning jogs before whipping up breakfast.  The house continued to come along as newer furniture and appliances were added to the home.  My dad continued to enjoy the success of the growing economy.  We had Star Wars.

This brings me back to the beginning of my previous entry to when my mom first got “sick” – the pregnancy of my youngest sister.  Her delayed delivery in 1983, which was when my Grandma took me to see Return of the Jedi.  I can correlate the end of my happy childhood existence with the completion of the original trilogy.  My mom got sick, the diagnosis came – along with a chain-smoking Swedish au pair – and the family’s life was changed forever.

Again, there is something to be said for the level of stress my mom must have been under in the years leading up to RA.  I have a friend, my age, who also experienced a tragic stressful event in her young life and then developed her first flare up.  If stress is in fact some major contributor, then I feel sorry for my mom’s situation.  Yet, the anger is there too since a nine year old kid could not possibly understand these concepts then.  All that kid, and the toddler, and the infant versions of me knew was that I would be left alone to cry my saline tears into “Baby” and all along I could never find words, any kind of language, for that type of despair.  Now, even as I understand the forces in play, I feel absolutely clinical about it.  Now, as I make an adult life for myself as a patient with the same damn disease, I feel safe in knowing how different everything is.  I am not the past.  I am not my mom, even though physical appearance is uncanny.  I would love for D.W. or any of his disciples to take a crack at this dynamic and let me know if I’ve done a “good enough” job of developing.  If I tie my development into an adult to Winnicott’s theories, than one must wonder how successful development could be possible.

If I believe in the magic of George Lucas’s long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, then maybe I was just tapping into the force and claiming my arrival into adulthood as a Jedi who has embraced the good in everything; while my Mom – – I mean, my “RA Mom” – – represents Darth Vadar’s slide into the Dark Side (of RA in this case).  There is still some good in her, but, she is ruled by the suffering of her condition, meaning that I have to take that burried goodness on faith and believe that it is there.  As glib as that analysis might seem, I promise that I can show how this turning to the Dark Side has been so very complete.  Again, I do not mean to sound mean.  Certainly I am bitter; RA took my mom from me when I was a little kid.  However, just like Vadar was Skywalker’s father, those two chose different paths through life.  While RA is my mom’s entire world, it doen’t own me.  Sometimes I feel that writing this blog tends to refute that claim, but I write because it helps to free me of the thoughts that might otherwise burden me for far to long.  Thus, I will elaborate on this story, the more current part, as I continue this blog.  But that will be a leap into the more recent past and part of a different post.

John Clease played a funny peasant in Monty Python’s Holy Grail.  In a scene where the townspeople want to burn a witch he claims, “she turned me into a newt.”  Then, since he is obviously human he adds with a goofy smirk, “I got better.”  Whenever I do get better from something I hear that character’s voice in my head.  My back is doing better.  I have realized that a lot of the pain was coming from my glutes and hamstrings.  Nevertheless, my back was seriously messed up and until about two days ago I was wondering when it would improve.

Despite the pain and the spasms I continued to work out – at a much, much lighter level.  I stabilized my back and did a lot of upper body stuff and smooth cardio.  The gym has a Cybex elliptical that is so smooth I can’t tell if I’m moving forwards or backwards.  It is awesome!  I also did walk in the therapy pool.  I had to spend a couple of hours sewing up a tear on my new swimsuit.  The last time I used it at the club I put it into that spin-dryer.  Since it is a larger size it got all twisted up on the machine and I had to rip it out of there.  It was a brand-new suit and so I was determined to stitch it back together so that I could get my money’s worth out of it.  My mending job makes it look like some Frankenstein thing.  Anyway, I managed to salvage it and use it!  I also kept up with the ice and heat therapy at home.  I continued to take anti-inflammatory meds – but not the prescription.  I forced myself to keep active after brief periods of resting.  The result is that I’m doing a lot better.

Today I had a one hour swedish massage at a little spa in the downtown area.  The newspaper kids gave me a gift certificate there and I couldn’t imagine a better time to use it!  Wow, this was just what I needed.  The therapist found all of my knots and sore spots.  She spent a lot of time on my back, shoulders, and legs.  When she asked me to flip over I could barely move – that was because I was so relaxed.  The lavender aroma-therapy oil also helped to soothe away my tension.  I could really get used to such luxury, too bad my bank account can’t.  One thing that I wish I could take better advantage of is that foot massage.  Once, when I had visited San Francisco’s Chinatown I found a reflexology place.  I don’t know what they did to my feet, but it took an hour and I never had happier feet!  The massage today included some work on my feet.  That really helped me relax and feel better.  I will research online and see what other places in the vicinity might have reflexology.  I’d like to do that.

I would also like to re-visit accupuncture.  I did a series of treatments a little over a year ago.  It was too expensive to keep up, but it was awesome!  I could feel the chi responding to it; I also became aware of listening/feeling my body.  I am admitedly a needle-phob.  It takes a lot of mental prep to get me in to the lab for bloodwork.  So the idea of me laying on a table with needles sticking in me was pretty overwhelming at first.  But these needles are totally easy to handle.  They are tiny and flexible.  Sometimes I didn’t even feel them going in.  It turned out to be a very relaxing and rejuvinating experience.  The worst part was when I would feel chilly.  Anyway, the cost was my main hang up.  Scheduling time for the weekly sessions was also tough.  Once things got too crazy with my time and finances it was the treats like accupuncture that had to go.  I do think that it is extremely helpful for combating the chronic pain of R.A.  There are a lot of other things that it can help – which I read up on  – but, for me, the almost instant relief from joint pain was the deal maker.

So to add to my wonderful debt, I bought a Wii.  I’m not sure if I’m keeping it yet.  I’ve been wanting to get one for a long time.  Since I like the idea of interactive play, this seems to be a justifiable purchase.  I am thinking of taking it back because I can’t afford it.  I also can’t believe that I can drop the weight I need to drop and get my health to where it needs to be by playing video games.  That is a lot of money to gamble with on that notion.  I once bought a PS2 and barely even played it because I’m just not good at video games.  I’m already annoyed with the tennis games because I’m standing up and swinging like I would if I was actually hitting a ball and it messes up the shot and I end up hitting the net or hitting wide.  I almost just have to wrist the shots to make them go in.  I have one more week to figure out if I’ll keep the Wii or not.  Maybe I can see if my health insurance will pick it up.  Just kidding.

And regarding that whole health care issue: the government initiative thing.  I wish that I could understand the concept better.  I’m smart and I feel like I can wrap my mind around complex stuff – but, this gets me confused.  At times I think that one fair government-based health plan might be a good thing;  but then on the flip side I can not deny that we have an amazing state-of-the-art medical system that has thrived on competition and the capitalistic nature of our society.  We have “The Best” because we have created a market where one can buy the best.  If we level that field, then I’m not sure what will happen.  It is extremely complicated.  I’m glad to see that really smart people are at work on the problem.  I’m not sure what is really going to work to convince me one way or the other.  I fell asleep during the press conference – I was tired from working out.  I also can sense a lot of spin from the ultra-conservative side of the media.  I’m not liberal and I’m not conservative.  I guess I try to be ethical and educated when I feel a tug of war in things where my one little opinion is supposed to matter.  That is why I can’t say what I think.  Is re-vamping the system smart?  Not sure….Is it ethical?  Not clear.  So, for someone like me with a life-long battle ahead combating a disease that will spawn other medical conditions where I will want the very best care from the most adept and highly qualified doctors that benefit from cutting-edge advancements at pristine facilities paid in part from an insurance policy that I’ve worked hard to earn by getting my higher education and certificates and by paying into the benefits that my career allows me to enjoy….well, I guess, I’m just not so sure about this.  I guess I just want to see and know that I can be taken care of by the best.  But, at the same time, I want that for my fellow citizens too (as that is ethical).  The whole thing feels like a catch-22.

So what can I learn from this?  1. I got better.  2. I value alternative medicine and wish that I could afford to keep up with it.  3. I’m skeptical about the Wii actually keeping me motivated and on track (but that is all about me and nothing that an eletronic device can combat).  4. I can’t sort out the reality of our country’s health care dilema.  5. I’m way to wordy.

“Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.” ~His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

Today I am grateful for my amazing, kind-hearted, soft-spoken Dad.  My Dad is like my own personal life tutor.  He is gentle and ever-present.  His love is the very definition of unconditional.  It never makes me feel clausterphobic.  He is not someone who says, “I love you” or gives a lot of hugs.  In fact, he is very, very reserved with showing any emotion on a regular basis.  That is why, when he does get emotional it affects all of us so much more.  He never raises his voice.  He doesn’t punish in a painful or spiteful way.  He expresses disappointment – worse than any screaming match or harsh words I can endure.  Thus, I know where, how, when I’ve disappointed my father throughout the years…those times stick in my throat and I choke them back as I did the tears.  My father is the embodiment of sacrifice.  He has given so much to stay in a marriage rocked by disease.  My mother’s R.A. has been a curse.  My father, owner of a youthful, wide-eyed wanderlust spirit, has never seen even a small fraction of the world he once wanted to experience.  Vacation funds have been diverted to medical expenses.  Bike rides, hikes, and camping under the skies has given way to comfortable hotel rooms with sturdy beds.  The last time we went camping as a family I was in grade school and I’m not even sure if my youngest sister was born.  That is a lifetime ago.

My Dad has his close friends, he participates in church and with community philanthropies as much as he can, he is on many of the neighbors’ speed dials as a free-of-charge “Mr. Fix It.”  Despite all of the demands of maintaining a career in the competitive world of sales, he continues, as he always has, to put his family first.  He drops everything at a moment’s notice to be there for his 96 year-old mother, my mom, me and my sisters, and now his granddaughter.  The 18 month old is the light of his world these days.  Prior to that, the mini-schnauzer that I bought against their wishes in 1994 at the beginning of my junior year at U of I, Molly (put down in 2006) was the one thing that could put a smile on his face, guaranteed.  I think both Molly and now my niece represent the reciprocity of unconditional love.  The rest of his family does love him, but with the condition that we have cost him both the highs and the lows of the experience.  Hence, knowing that there has been disappointment there.

I don’t know how I would have endured all of my medical mess over the course of my life, and especially in these past two years where both the physical and the mental woes collided at the same time, without my Dad.  He has been there through it all as I spilled my guts, was sad, was afraid, was angry, was frustrated, was hopeless, and got determined in intermittent spurts of motivation. I am not comfortable showing all of those cards to my Mom as she deals on a daily basis with all of her demons…demons that have become a rift in the relationship that I have with her.  My struggles spawn a blame game with her which then, inevitably, ends up causing her to feel worse about herself, her parenting, her marriage, and things from her past that she can not do anything about.  Thus, for much of my adult life, I’ve sheltered her from my raw emotions and have been too guarded to feel that same connection with her that I appreciate so much with my Dad.  I know that bothers her too, but it isn’t nearly as bad as when I’ve let my honestly creep out with her in the past and that sent her reeling.  I mourn that disconnect frequently, but it is a coping mechinism that I am thoroughly aware of and choose to enact.

Having a chronic disease like R.A. is much more than simply treating and managing R.A. alone.  Everyone has their own personal hells, challenges, and struggles and struggles.  Simply seeing something as a plot on a two-dimensional timeline hardly begins to hack away at it.  I can not begin to unravel the complex, knotted web of complications that are a result of choices upon choices I’ve made througout the years.  Coming into such a predicament, as we all do, it really helps to have someone like my Dad there to help and simply provide that constant calm presence.  As much as he is a hard-core, tried and true Roman Catholic, he sure does live out some Buddhist philosophies too.  I like that!  Maybe that is why I used that quote today.  My Dad has not gotten what he had hoped for in his life on a surface level: vacations, time to learn to play golf better, a nicer car…but, he has earned the genuine and deepest of love and respect from his family.  Given a choice, I bet a lot of men would want that over anything else.

Today the two families are getting together for a father’s day picnic.  My brother-in-law’s family is that p.d.a. type; they hug and kiss, tell eachother that they love one another, and truly like spending time together.  We are not the opposite end of that spectrum, just not so far on their side of it.  Today I am feeling really bad physically….maybe it is all that crazy stormy weather that has been rocking this area lately.  Maybe it is that I’m just experiencing a flare up – or both….or neither.

My right ear is not working.  It feels clogged up and the pressure hurts.  I found out that sometimes R.A. patients can have flare ups in the fluid of the ear as it is very similar to your joint fluid.  Who knew?  I’ve still not scheduled an appointment with an E.N.T. doc – and I know I really need to.  This ear thing and my constant sinus problems have combined to make me a little too wobbly and dizzy.  I didn’t even hear my phone ringing yesterday because I was laying on my good ear side reading a book.  I was that deaf…and I need to fix that a.s.a.p.  But, despite the health issues, I’m very excited to go to this picnic.  I can’t wait to just give my Dad a hug and let him know that he is the best.  He doesn’t want me to buy him anything….fine, I’ll still get him a card.  But, being a closet Buddhist, my Dad knows that it isn’t about “stuff,” it is about having that time together.  That just adds to the list of why my Dad is the best!

So on this father’s day, I am grateful and there is simply no better medicine than love.

So I’ve have the GoWearFit for a little over a month.  Although I am not outwardly attempting to do anything fancy with my workouts or diet, I am learning a lot about how my body burns calories, my sleep efficiency, and where and when I am active during my otherwise sedentary day.  I used the “report” generator on the website to create a monthly analysis.  That was really informative.  The most interesting thing is seeing how my sleep patterns vary.  I’m not that efficient at sleep.  It is really something to see your actual sleep time blocked out.  There is an interesting shift that happens with my sleep around 2 a.m.  I go from burning 1.2 cal/min to 1.7.  That must be because of increased brain activity during my REM cycle – I would guess.  If I work out in the morning then I can burn more calories by just doing what I normally do.  Also, by eating breakfast, I keep my average cal/min higher throughout the morning than if I don’t eat anything when I get going in the morning.  Lastly, all the running around I do with the team after school seems to wear off rather quickly.  Honestly, this is a great tool and the only complaint I have is that website is really, really slow.  It is not supported by Mozilla, which is what I use for everything, so I have to use Explorer.  Maybe it is that or the Java that is slow, but it takes forever to get from screen to screen, upload, and then view the results.  It could also be that the site is just overwhelmed too.  Nonetheless, it is totally worth it and I’m more than impressed!

It snowed last night and this morning.  The weather looks pretty bad for tennis this week.  I’m taking another Sunday off since I am completely burned out on work.  I still have over 100 research papers to grade.  I do a few here and there throughout the day.  I just need to bear down and do it.  Making locker tags is so much more fun.  I also ordered the boys bag tags.  We shall see how that turns out.  I’m really enjoying the boys team more than the girls.  The boys work out harder, don’t complain about running and lifting, and get really pumped when they win games.  The girls are fun in a different way.  They get into the “sister” stuff more: getting little gifts, taking pictures, and dressing up.  I’m making the guys dress up for home matches.  They either love or hate it.  There are a few guys that know they look good and strut around a little taller and prouder.  The boys that like to blend in, because they are self-conscious, seem to squirm a little as they walk the halls in a nice button down shirt and dress pants.  It is good practice for them though.  They have come a long way in just a little while.

Okay, a few random thoughts then I’m out.  I had a very vivid dream the other night where I was holding the hand of some guy that I knew loved me – it is a dream.  It felt so real and I realized how nice it was to have that personal contact.  It made me realize how starved so many of us are for something so simple and reassuring as that.  The PLANET EARTH series should be mandatory viewing for hish school students.  Kids need to appreciate the world that they are a part of – and they need to feel a part of it, not disconnected because of their technological dependencies and instantaneous lifestyles.  Kids should also have to do some sort of coursework which requires community service: spending time with the elderly, cleaning up roadsides, visiting kids with disabilities.  The types of kids who already do this are not the kids who would most benefit the most from doing it.  I can think of a handful of my students I would love to send on a PeaceCorps kind of excursion.  I wish that I could just take them to Uganda or Peru or Nepal myself.  I cried watching the series finale of Battlestar Galactica.  I love how brilliantly they wove all the stories together at the end.  I kind of saw it coming based on what I know about hominid evolution.  I was sad that Starbuck never go to tell Lee that she loved him and vice versa.  Instead, she vanished and proved that she was indeed an angel walking among her people.  She was not afraid of death, rather she was afraid of being forgotten.  That is my fear too – must be why I write.  The characters of Divine Six and Divine Balter were very cleverly inserted into our modern world to provide an interesting commentary on “all this happened before and all this will happen again.”  The cyclical nature of the universe as a whole is represented with this concept.  I think about plate tectonics.  With the exception of The Himalayas, our mountains are eroding.  Eventually new ones will be made and then those too will erode.  It is amazing to consider that the gorgeous white sands of Florida are the quart which has been polished from the erosion of the Appalachian Mountains, which were once greater than the Rockies.  I totally dig mountains – so I live in the flatlands.  I should have been a Geo scientist.  I just wish I had more time and money so that I could travel and then write amazing stories about nature.

So, now that I’ve rambled….which is completely due to my whacked out sleep schedule…I apologize, I will wrap this up by saying the R.A. has been bad.  I’m not dwelling on it.  I’m so stiff and sore though.  I think it is all the major weather stuff (bringing me back to the assertion that our climate is infact shifting and our storm systems have become more dynamic in order to balance the greater swings from homeostasis).  The pressure change directly impacts joints.  With low pressure systems there is less compresion on the joint so it can swell more easily.  Okay, Planet Earth is showing the snow leopard.  Gorgeous – simply gorgeous creature!  Maybe I’ll grade some more – eventually.  I want to do more Eco-teaching with literature and critical thinking on these kinds of things.

December 2017
M T W T F S S
« Mar    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Legal stuff:

© warrior2RA and Rhuematoid Arthritis Warrior, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to warrior2RA and Rhuematoid Arthritis Warrior with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I’m currently reading:

The Sacred Balance by David Suzuki