Suck It Up Buttercup

There are responsibilities taken in life that you never expected or wanted. That is how the last 6 weeks have been. My grandmother had her knee replaced and that meant I had to step up and try to fill her duties while she was gone. No biggie? Wrong.

The matter of cooking and cleaning at her home was taken care of for the most part by my uncle. He made sure Papa was fed and the dishes/laundry was kept up. It was all of the other things that became my burden, I was happy to do it because  it is my family and I love them. When a bill came in I would get out Grandma’s check book and forge the checks to make sure the water and the ‘can’t live without’ cable was paid. I ran errands and picked up meds.

Every other day I would go out to the managed care rehabilitation place and visit Nana to see how she was doing and keep her abreast of what was going on at her home and mine. Often bringing at least one of my three kids along so they could regale her with their tales of summer exploits. After a half hour to an hour we would leave so she could rest, go to therapy, etc.

Her being in the care facility post surgery was a God-send. She could have all of her needs met at the moment she needed them. She didn’t need to be taken to appointments doctor or therapy. It was all right there for her which made it easier on everyone and took the worry and strain off of me. There was no way I could be taking care of her at her home and still be able to take care of my family at mine.

The hardest thing, the responsibility I did not want and somewhat begrudgingly to admit hated was the care of my mother. Do not get me wrong I love my mother and there is always my familial duty towards her.

The relationship I have with my mother is complicated. Complicated by our past as much as the present. I shall give a heavily abbreviated history to give a little insight.

My parents separated when I was three. My mother left Sheboygan Wisconsin with me and came home to Iowa to be by her parents. My father an engineer would visit Iowa one to two times a year my whole life. He would come home for my birthday and a holiday such as Christmas or Easter, bringing me gifts like a bike, barbie ferrari or a radio boombox. Those visits were hard on me and I would be weepy and moody for a week or so after he returned to Wisconsin, I didn’t realize at the time how much it hurt not having a father but that realization came years later.

I grew up living in low-income housing developments as my mother and I lived on child support payments of $330-something a month. Sometimes food was a bit lean but we never starved and my mother would not apply for any food assistance and the like. I never had the fashionable clothes or the latest (you name it). I had regular visits and stays at Nana and Papa’s which was like some glorious holiday. They had cable, a yard full of green grass and trees to climb, and she always cooked big delicious meals and deserts-she also expected you to take seconds!

It is funny that as a kid you do not fully comprehend when things are not quite like they should be. Once you get older and looking back you can see the wrong that was in front of you all along. My mother slept a lot, I mean a lot. The appartment was always blacked out from the sun with thick lined curtains. When she was awake she could be loving and quickly change to teary or very angry. I spent as much time as I could playing outside rather than being inside in the dark with her. She could be abusive but I did not realize that it was abuse at the time. I would be spanked, a few times with hangers, for the smallest of infractions. Compared to the marauding gangs of near delinquent unsupervised youth in the ‘project’ complex I was an angel.

She would let me get some new to me (often thrift store) clothes and I would feel so good until she would make on of her regular down putting comments leaving me feel like I was fat or unattractive. She tried to instill religion in me by the fire and brimstone method. So I feared any misstep under condemnation to burning in hell. I never did sleepovers with friends or get involved with any extracurricular school related activities. We didn’t have money to spend on those or a car to get me there. All this and more left me so socially inept that couldn’t even talk in front of class at school without tears forming in my eyes.

As I aged I saw the irregularities of my home life compared to my peers and I saw injustice that was put upon me. I grew quietly angry. Internally I would steam over the fact that she never did anything. She never tried to better our life, get a job or education. She seemed content to hide away from life and responsibility. As soon as I graduated high school I moved out, not even telling her ahead of time for fear she would try to stop me with anger or more than likely guilt.

You may wonder about my father through all those years and why I didn’t reach out to him. Well, he was mostly an acquaintance, granted one that I loved and craved affection from, but we didn’t know each other very well. When I was nearing my teens he had remarried to another woman and my relationship with her was more than a bit strained. She came with her own set of issues and I already had more than my fair share. At that point the few visits a year were enough of a strain.

Over the years my view of mother changed, not that the anger completely dissipated but it was largely replaced with pity. She had been suffering from undiagnosed depressive disorders for years. She never sought any help with them so I in part still held some contempt for her inactiveness in even caring for herself. Then some 11 years ago my mother suffered a stroke. At that point and still to this day she was living with her parents, again a way of dodging responsibility for herself. They found her on the floor of her roonmin a near vegetative state which would last for a long while.

I was at my in-laws house having a pleasant visit when an uncle called with the news. When I hung up the phone everyone around me was hugging on me and showing genuine concern. I feel guilty about it but I was angry. It was her own fault…sleeping away her life, never doing anything to get the blood pumping, sitting and eating, getting heavier and heavier…she did it to herself-right? We left the kids there and my husband drove me back to town. During the 45 minute drive to the hospital I was quiet, trying to convince myself that I should not be mad I should be worried, that’s what a good daughter would be.

Over the weeks and months she slowly came back-somewhat. She eventually regained her ability to talk, remembered my name and gain her movement to a certain extent. These days she can talk and walk but with some definite disability. She hit the jackpot of not having to be responsible. Monthly disability payments, her aged mother to care for things at home and people to chauffeur her where she needs or wants to go. It frustrates me but at least I didn’t have to be responsible for her or feel guilty, she had all of her ducks put in a row by somebody else.

That was until Nana had her knee surgery. All of the insurance stuff and changes to Medicaid that happened this year became my job to fix and figure out. The fact that she never filed for Medicare when she turned 65 has created such a complex mess I cannot tell you how many hours I’ve spent on the phone trying to get things sorted out. Then there are all of the errands to appointments, pick up prescriptions, or going to the store to spend her money. Granted I was usually the driver for her and Nana for these day trips. But now my health issues, the kids out of school for summer, Nana’s surgery and all the rest it was seriously becoming the straw that was threatening to break the camel’s back.

I fully believe as I write this that I just may be an awful person. I am tired and tired of feeling put upon. I have gotten to the point where I am letting responsibilities at home slide. When I do get to just sit I want to do nothing but lose myself in a book. Then the phone rings and I dread answering it because what in the world does the world want me to do now. I answer it of course and wait for the next piece of straw to be placed.

I am glad to be able to help my family and I love them. So even when I am worn out and resentful of the phone ringing I take a beep breath and tell myself (often out loud), “Suck it up buttercup and get to it.”






Me-centric and the Rest

I like the term ‘Me-centric’, I believe I came up with the word of the week. Unlike egocentric which the dictionary says it means thinking of oneself, without regard for the feelings or desires of others. ‘Me-centric’ is a bit milder than that. Me-centric would describe most all people. In this day and age we can be a bit self-absorbed. I do not intend that it in a mean way but we have our health, we have our jobs, we have our goals and so on. All of things in our lives that we do, feel, think and are is our ‘ME-ness’.

There is another part of ‘ME-ness’ that may sound awful but everyone’s favorite subject in life is themselves. Think about it, of all the things in the world you can be an expert on philosophy, art, seaslug biology, macrame, etc. the subject that you know more about than any other person in the whole entire world is you.

It is not all about you…and you know it.

With my illness I am definitely into my ‘Me-ness’ and I have to be. I have to be always aware of how my body is feeling. Is it too warm, did I take my pills, how much water have I drank, is the drop-foot increasing, and so on and so forth.

There are times when the ‘Me-centricities’ have to be set aside. Today is one of those days. I am sitting in the waiting room at the hospital as I write this. Nana is having her left knee replaced and she needed me. I picked her up at 5:10 this morning and brought her to the hospital with all of her stuff. This is more important than me. Does not matter that I have been unwell. It does not matter that yesterday my head hurt so bad that I kept no food down. None of that matters. She matters.

In our lives there is the ‘Me-ness’ and then there is ‘the Rest’. The Rest is the important stuff. The Rest is listening to you son drone on about Minecraft because it is important to them. The Rest is dragging your neighbor’s trash can back after collection because they have a hard time doing things. The Rest is when you say yes I can watch your kid for you while you go to an appointment. The Rest is putting others needs before your own.

‘The Rest’ is what makes us human. If it was just about you and nothing else there is no reason to even be here on Earth. It is our interactions with others and our environments that make a life. There is no point to life if it does not better, aid, or have an impact (great or very small) on this world. We were created with the capabilities to learn, love, adapt, and nurture.

So when we are busy in our lives with our ‘Me-centricities’
let us all try try to remember all ‘The Rest’.

Jumping Out of My Skin

A few years ago I started to have issues with startling at the drop of a hat. I can be going about my business and somebody drops something sending me into a near cardiac. Granted when I’m deep in thought the whole world drops away and I’m completely oblivious to my surroundings. That being said it hurts when I am startled, literally it causes me physical pain. Like a electric shock in my chest. It is triggered by sound and sometimes by not noticing a person is approaching.

Now this is not a continuous thing…thank goodness. If I was constantly startled by every noise it would be crippling especially with 3 children and their friends rampaging through the house. Seriously at any given time there can be around ten kids coming and going, ringing doorbells and making noise.

This extreme startle reflex I discovered is called Myoclonus. In my case it is stimulant sensitive Myoclonus. Multiple Sclerosis has so many and varied symptoms. Each and every individual stricken with MS has a separate experience with the disease. It is not a one size fits all thing. Of the symptoms many suffer Myoclonus is one that can be overlooked or not readily associated with MS.

I wanted to know what causes Myoclonus and found that there are many different causes but in regards to Multiple Sclerosis it is likely the result of brain or spinal lesions.  As with everything to do with Multiple Sclerosis it is not fully understood what causes this but it is believed that in cases of stimulus sensitive Myoclonus, the brain becomes overly sensitive to the signals caused by external stimuli such as sound.

Myoclonus according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
It refers to sudden, involuntary jerking of a muscle or group of muscles. Myoclonic twitches or jerks usually are caused by sudden muscle contractions, called positive myoclonus, or by muscle relaxation, called negative myoclonus. Myoclonic jerks may occur alone or in sequence, in a pattern or without pattern. They may occur infrequently or many times each minute. Myoclonus sometimes occurs in response to an external event or when a person attempts to make a movement. The twitching cannot be controlled by the person experiencing it.

In its simplest form, myoclonus consists of a muscle twitch followed by relaxation. A hiccup is an example of this type of myoclonus. Other familiar examples of myoclonus are the jerks or “sleep starts” that some people experience while drifting off to sleep. These simple forms of myoclonus occur in normal, healthy persons and cause no difficulties. When more widespread, myoclonus may involve persistent, shock-like contractions in a group of muscles. In some cases, myoclonus begins in one region of the body and spreads to muscles in other areas. More severe cases of myoclonus can distort movement and severely limit a person’s ability to eat, talk, or walk. These types of myoclonus may indicate an underlying disorder in the brain or nerves.

There are drugs you take to help with this and I find it most helpful for me to be as aware of my surroundings as possible. I still jump here and there but at least I am getting more used to it. More importantly those around me know I have this issue and no longer get upset that I freak out when they come around the corner unexpectedly. If nothing else I am sure that I’m entertaining to watch.  😉

My Meandering Mind

We are all busy with what life has going on for us. Jobs, kids, budgets, chores, to-do lists of all kinds and schedules can keep our brains working overtime. It can be a real effort to keep it all straight.

I gather it is a common occurrence to lose your train of thought or to misplace your keys. Then again…I think for some of us it may be a chronic issue.

Everyone has walked into a room and then wondered why you came in there in the first place. The other day I traipsed through the house to the kitchen with great determination. Once I got there I had no idea as to why I went there. There had to be a reason I went, right? Looking around the room I saw nothing that triggered why I needed to be in there. So I left feeling a bit baffled.

Returning to the other room hoping for a clue and finding none I gave up. After sitting for two minutes it came to me that I wanted something from the junk drawer. Getting up I headed back to kitchen certain that once I looked in the drawer I would instantly remember the ‘thing’.

On the way my phone rang and I stopped and spoke to the person calling for two to three minutes. After the call ended I just stood there. What was I doing again? Oh, yes..junk drawer.

Five minutes of rummaging through paperclips, child safety locks, broken action figures(to be fixed…eventually), bread ties, keys to God knows what I was no closer to finding out what the heck it was. And to this day I still do not know what I was after.

The same thing happens with conversations. On occasion I will be going on a nice roll and then hit the mental wall. Sometimes it is a speed bump but other times it is a wall. I’ll be darned I was trying to make a point or tell a story and *Poof* it was gone. My wonderful husband and friends are used to this and they either wait for me to find the thought or they help me remember where I may have been going with it.

The one that really ticks me off is when I lose a word. Now this word is not unfamiliar to me and I have probably used it a million times but at that moment I cannot pull it out for anything. I really believe that my mind is full of sink-holes or quick sand. The thought or word is happily skipping along my grey matter when suddenly it is sucked down and buried.

Then there is the times my brain switches gears from one thing to another leaving whoever I am with a wee bit lost in the lurch. We will be going along just fine when suddenly I see something or remember something from prior and it will instantly fly out of my mouth. My best friend has had me do that to her so many times now it is now a joke. In the animated movie “Up” there was this talking dog and it is me in a nutshell.

So during those silly moments either I or my dear friend will just holler out “Squirrel!” 

It is far more embarrassing having those moments out in public or with people who are less used to your whatever you call it-Cog Fog, Brain Farts, Senior Moment, Space Out, Meandering Mind, or Case of the Dumbs. Over the years I’ve gotten used to it and can laugh it off but that doesn’t mean I like it.

I take solace in the fact that I’m not the only one suffering from moments of mind flatulence. 

Mom Insomnia

This is from Scary Mommy and it rang true to what my brain does every stinking night. Aaaaahhh!

Thoughts That Go Through A Mom’s Head In The Middle Of The Night

Motherhood Meets Insomnia: A Sleepless Mom’s Thoughts

It’s the middle of the night and the rest of the house is asleep—except me. If I get back to sleep right now, I will still be able to piece together something that could pass for a night’s sleep instead of nap.

How is it that Slumbering Hubby can sleep so soundly? I wish I could sleep like that. Why does motherhood so often seem to be synonymous with insomnia? He looks so peaceful, and kinda sexy too. Maybe if I snuggle up close, he’ll wake up. We should cuddle more, and go on a date, for goodness’ sake. We haven’t been on a date in forever.

Maybe we could get a sitter Friday night and see that movie that came out last month. What’s the name of it? Everyone’s been talking about it. Oh, what the hell is the name of that movie? The one starring…oh, what the heck is her name? The girl who’s married to Ryan Reynolds. She was on Gossip Girl…the one with the cool hair. Oh, good grief, what the hell is her name?

I should wake Slumbering Hubby up and ask him. He would know. So would that friend who moved away last year who I haven’t talked to in ages. I wonder how she’s doing. I should email her. Maybe we can plan a girls’ weekend sometime soon.

A girls’ weekend?! Puh-lease! I can’t even manage to talk on the phone with my BFF these days. Come to think of it, I haven’t heard from her in a several days. I hope everything is OK. I hope she’s not mad at me. Why is she mad at me?!

Calm down, she’s probably just busy, or something horrible happened! What if she’s in the hospital or her kid broke his arm and I had no idea?! I’m a horrible friend. I should call her. I’ll text her now.

Oh, what the hell is the name of the actress?! I used to know this stuff. I used to be able to tell you about the latest celebrity couples and which ones were about to get divorced. I used to know fun things and do fun things too, like go to movies and eat at fancy restaurants and dance at hip nightclubs. Now, I can’t manage to see a movie before it goes to DVD, and I can’t remember the name of the actress with the gorgeous hair.

Maybe I should grow my hair out again, or go blonde.

Or maybe I should go au natural. You know, embrace the grey. Why do women need to fit some kind of societal ideal of beauty anyway, for heaven’s sake? We’re beautiful just as we are. Didn’t Julia Roberts stop shaving for a while? Okay, too much—that’s where I draw the line. Come to think of it, I’m due for a waxing so I might as well get a quick color touch-up while I’m at it.

The dog sure does feel cozy nestled up against me. But—my God!—what is that smell? Did he fart? Or did he shit in the corner again?

Ugh, I wish the damn dog would get off me. He smells and now I have cramp in my leg. I should stretch more. I should do yoga. Everybody does yoga. All I hear is down-dog this and sun-salutation that. Blah, blah, blah. Then again, maybe if I did yoga, I wouldn’t have middle-of-the-night leg cramps. Maybe if I did yoga like Slumbering Hubby (even he does yoga!), I’d be blissfully snoring away. Yes, yoga. That is the answer to all of my problems. Yoga.

Ahek-huck! Ahek-huck!

What’s that noise? Is one of the kids coughing? Oh, great. He’ll probably wake up with a fever, all snotty, coughing up phlegm, and have to stay home from school. Shit, I have so much work to do tomorrow. I can’t afford to stay home with a sick kid. Come to think of it, my throat has been feeling a little scratchy lately. I hope I’m not coming down with something too. Is it too late to get the flu shot?

I need to remember to get oranges, Airborne, and anything with 500-percent vitamin C from the store tomorrow. I should probably throw in some vegetables, too. Maybe if we ate healthier, we wouldn’t be plagued with flu germs. When was the last time we had vegetables with dinner? Last night was pizza with a side of pizza. The night before that was subs. Wait, there was some lettuce on the subs. That counts as a vegetable, right?

Great, an hour has passed. I’m still awake, and I still can’t think of that actress’s name. What the hell is her name? I think she just had baby. She probably fits right back into her size 0 jeans though. I bet she does yoga.

I need to close my eyes and relax. Take a few deep breaths. If I get to sleep right now, I’ll get enough sleep to qualify as a long nap. I should try that meditation trick I read about a few months ago. What was it again? Something about inhaling to the count of 7, holding for a count of 7, and exhaling to the count of 7.

Inhale, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Hold, one, two, three, four. Gasp! Shit, I can’t hold my breath for seven seconds. Who can hold their breath for seven seconds? That’s witchcraft.

Maybe I should start meditating. That way when the kids are bickering and whining, I can just look at them with a regally serene look on my face instead of screaming at the top of my lungs. They might say, Mom, why do you have that weird look on your face? But I’ll just smile and think, I’m meditating. I’m fucking meditating.

Breathe in. Fuck this shit. Breathe out. Fuck this shit. Now that’s a meditation I could get on board with. Maybe that would help me deal with that difficult client pestering me to finish her project. She’s never going to be happy, and she’ll complain to my boss, and I’m totally going to get fired. And then we’re probably going to lose our house and car and have to move back in with my parents. Oh my God, we’re going to have to move in with my parents!

Well, maybe that wouldn’t be so bad. The kids would see their grandparents more often. I wonder how my dad is feeling. I should call him. I wonder how my mom is doing. I should call her. I don’t call home enough. I’m a horrible daughter. I should tell them I love them more.

My kids probably won’t call me either when they’re grown up. I should tell them I love them more.

Blake Lively! That’s who it is! I wonder if she calls her parents. I wonder if…

That’s it! I know how to finish the client’s project. It’s brilliant! The client is going to love me. My boss is going to love me. My troubles are over.

If only I could just get a little sleep. Maybe I should just get up and start my day. The alarm will go off in 30 minutes anyway. I’ll just close my eyes for a couple minutes and then I’ll get up.

27 minutes later…

“Momma! Time to wake up! You are such a sleepyhead.”

Sigh…how many hours until I can go to sleep?

And what was that great idea I had in the middle of the night? Something about Blake Lively?