Wednesday, July 23, 2014

And now for...The Rest of the Story

I started writing about the surgery that I underwent one month ago today, shortly after I got home.  Life happened, I had other messages I wanted to get moving.  And so it waited.

Here is my surgery story.  

You would think that this was exciting enough, but I am totally an over achiever.  I mean it was a  totally mundane surgery that went haywire from the first cut.  That should be enough, right??

Instead, 2 weeks ago (16 days post-op), I noticed an odd pain in my back, on the right side.  I noticed and then forgot.  I noticed it later and became annoyed.  My guess was that I  had a kidney stone/ UTI/ kidney infection, because it was almost that low.  It was that kind of pain.  I am a teacher and was a waitress.  For a bit, my doc just called in a script for Cipro or Bactrim (until we found out I was allergic to sulfa) because I KNEW when I had a UTI and he was tired of telling me what I already knew.  It has been years, but that pain brought all that rushing back to my brain.  

As the day went on, I noticed it was only when I inhaled, but not always.  I was becoming increasingly impatient.  I told my FF that I would call the doc in the AM and get into see her.  Perfectly logical, right??

Until 1AM came.  We had only been asleep for an hour or so.  I guess I started wimpering in my sleep, waking up the fireman.  (AMAZINGLY, he is not a light sleeper when he is at home.)  And I finally woke up and was IN PAIN!  He wanted me to go in.  I of course fought it...for a bit.  Until my brain woke up.  It hurt to breathe, but I had no shortness of breath. 

 CRAP!

Surgery riddled with complications + Estrodial hormone replacement therapy + family history + difficulty taking a breath in = CRAP!

I did not say it out loud.  I got dressed without saying anything.  J took me to the hospital that is just around the corner from us. I wanted the kids to be able to walk up to come hang out with me, because I knew I was not coming home after an ED visit.  And I was not in the mood to talk to or deal with the residents of a teaching hospital, I still had the bad taste in my mouth from my last hospitalization. 

We went in and I said it.

I took my bag since I knew I would be there a bit.
I told the receptionist that I was 2 weeks post-op and I thought I had a pulmonary embolism.  They moved very quickly  At this point, I struggled with every breath I took while speaking.  I did not have shortness of breath, like trying to catch my breath that was not the sensation.  It was more like a screwdriver handle shoved in my mid back when I tried to take more than a shallow breath.  My chest did not hurt.  I was not coughing anything up.  I just was in pain when I tried to do something silly like breathe.  Details.  

The doc came in, clearly worn out from the faults of our medical system (I'll save that rant for another post).  After he took my basic history, he asked if I was a doctor.  Nope, just a high school teacher.  On his way out he made a side comment, something to the effect of "someone has been on WebMD, huh" .  Nope.  Never went looking.  Just an epiphany as I struggled to breathe.

I remember hearing the stories of the depression my mother was sent it to while they treated her for a PE.  I was very young and stayed with her parents.  I started to call my grandma "Mawma" and all my mother heard was "Momma".  It was a horrible recovery from that complication.  You hear about how you caused your mother that stress and the idea stays with you.  

I also am one of those weird people.  I actually LISTEN to the docs during my pre-op appointments.  I knew what the complications and risks might be.  Once I realized that it might be detrimental to my quest for old age to play the tough guy, there were no more complaints and I just put my concerns out there.  I know people come in after searching the web, but I just did the math.  (Not bad for a history teacher!)

Luckily, he took me seriously.  Instead of  starting with the labs, he ordered a CT.  The labs came as well, but he did not wait for the results to come back before deciding on imaging.  The results came back together.  I was right.  The doc was surprised and told me I was spot on with my diagnosis.  I clearly missed my calling.



I did it good - go big or go home, I guess.  

I ended up back in the hospital for a couple days.  Lovenox injections, even though there was not DVT were less than enjoyable.  The kids were able to walk up to come see me, so it was less of a stressor.    

So what did I learn from this??  I learned what a bleb was. I learned that my husband is so wonderfully compassionate and caring when tending to the sick.  I learned that a trip to Target CAN force to require a three hour nap.  I learned that I am not 10 foot tall and bullet-proof and this will probably take me a year to fully recover.  I learned that cuts from invisible ninjas that once required a Band-Aid®, will require medical attention when the Xarelto does not allow it to clot off after 7 hours. I have learned that I can do stairs, down is easier than up.  I learned that I have amazing friends.  I learned that I am competitive and too hard on myself, even with my stupid incentive spirometer.  I learned that I am happy to be here, even with all these annoying complications.

Recovery was amazingly seamless, J and I had planned on not being here, so he was off of work and able to hold down the fort while I was down for the count.  He has been amazing.  My kids have been wonderful.  And I am OH so grateful that I did not have to deal with this over the school year!

My FF is on shift.  We are five weeks away from school starting and I need to get my butt moving.  Enjoy the day, no matter what it brings and let your FF know you love him, even when he's being a brat.  ;)  Happy Hump Day!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Vacation?

I started writing this right after I was home from Hospitalization Part Deux.  I am working on the follow up, with the rest of the story. (Gotta love Paul Harvey references, wherever you can sneak them in!)

I should have taken one.  I could share my vacation photos with you, along with silly stories about my muppets and how lovely my FF was.

Instead of a lovely vacation, I opted for the end of the school year and a surgery full of complications took me away from any writing.

Men, if you are queasy around discussions of the lady parts, please feel free to go grab a beer and watch the game.  I have it on the background, but it is not pretty.  

Since December, we have been planning my complete hysterectomy and a salpingo-oopherectomy just to be different.  Part of it was prophylactic.  We are always looking for cancer.  I am always waiting for them to take a look at something else - my kidneys or adrenal glands - and tell me there is something on my ovaries.  Because that always happens.  And then I hold my breath while we decide whether or not it is cancer.  We check my CA-125 levels and do biopsies and worry....that this might be THE TIME.  

And so, this surgery, that is really consider radical given my age, was the option I went with just to take some control over my health.  When I first met with the surgeon, she checked over and over and over with me to make sure that this was indeed the route I wanted to take so early in life.  To be certain I knew what I was getting into.  I watched my mom go through it in her 20s, I was certain it would be better for me as I near 39.

The  other part of this decision was simply to get my life back.  My periods were horribly heavy...like as much as most women bleed over the course of a cycle, I would deal with in the course 3 or 4 hours  I would fill a tampon between the bathroom on the 3rd floor of the school and my class (directly above it) on the 4th floor.  I couldn't teach. My husband was bringing me clothes far too frequently.  I was going to the ER because I was hemorrhaging worse than after delivering any of the kids.  The Diva Cup became my new best friend.  It was a life altering half a year. I had to adjust. Aside from the heaviness, my periods were lasting 26, 27 days a month.  I could not live my life that way.  It was not healthy and it was not enjoyable.  

So, we planned it for the Monday after school let out.  My in-laws took the Muppets so I could recover.  They were going to come home Thursday.  I was expecting to come home Tuesday.  It was supposed to be a textbook, wham, bam, thank ya ma'am kinda surgery.


But, we allllll know that I don't play that way.  That would be far too boring and commonplace.  I mean, really. I never do things the way I am supposed.  It started in pre-op with the anesthesia team came in.  I warned them about my veins.  Ehh, we got this, they said.  No worries they said.  Ummm, I woke up in recovery (the only time the memories have stuck with me from the recovery room) to 4 members of that team looking for a vein. Apparently, I blew 4 IVs during surgery.  Uh huh, you got this.  They were wonderful about and I was a sassy face with them, which broke the ice a bit. But, I do look like a heroin user.  I mean, we're talking the back of both hands and the insides of both wrists...are still bruised.  Not to mention the botched Mid-line insertion site or the picc line or where they were sticking my every few hours for blood draws before the picc went it. I wish they would all take me seriously when I tell them to keep a vein viewer or ultra-sound on hand. Ah well.  With all the bruises, J said he would be worried when they started checking in-between my toes.  I really did look like an addict. 

So, you think that is bad.  Nah, just annoying.  That happens more than it doesn't.  Really.  It do expect it and find myself instead, pleasantly surprised when there is a smooth insertion of any needle. The fun part came when they told me there had been a complication.  My poor hubby, they called him out of the waiting room and into a conference room to tell him.  I can only imagine the wait in that little room.

They had cut the bowel.  

I had a laproscopic procedure and the first cut is blind.  It is the fine print of what might happen during surgery that you have to sign that you understand before you schedule your surgery.  It happens.  You'd think that would have been enough, but I am a total overachiever.

And, truly, I really was lucky.  We had surgical oncologist on hand, even though my ultrasounds looked clean, just because. I am never as I appear.  And I am oh so grateful she was.  She saved me from an additional 6" zipper across my belly. She got me closed up and away we went taking out the rest of my reproductive organs.  It was a good thing my surgery started really early, because I got out just about on time from my original start time.  

So, that meant another night in the hospital.  I was snuck some broth that night.  Allowed to eat lunch the following day and  sent home on Wednesday.  I felt great.  

Until I didn't.

I crawled into my bed early and the nausea kicked in.  And then it was like I was pregnant.  I got so desperate with the vomiting, that I called the on-call number and had some Zofran called in for me.  Puking from 8:30pm until 3am, with no baby in the end game, is NOT on my scope of okay things to do.

My newly incised ab muscles were burning up and so was my forehead...102.1.  UGH!!  

Went into the doc the next morning and did the lab work.  She said she would keep me home, unless my WBC was eeking up.  So, I made it to dinner time, and no news.  I thought all was well.  And I started feeling better...human almost.  And then the phone rang.  Back to the hospital I was going.  This is now Thursday.  You know, the night that my kids that I have not seen since Saturday were supposed to be coming home.

This was not good.  My dogs were acting out.  I missed my kids.  My bowel was cut.  If you saw me on the street, you would think I was a junkie - between the circles under my eyes and bruises up and down my arms.  I still had yet to sleep in my bed.  I missed my husband.  I was not happy.

But I did not fight being admitted and J knew I must still be feeling pretty crappy.  I mean I ALWAYS fight going to the hospital.  I did not even bargain or negotiate.  Logically, I must have known I needed to go.  And I just went.

So, saw the gaggle docs.  Had the nurses fight over me. (I think I was the only one under the age of 60 on the floor.  Who else were they going to discuss OITNB with, I mean, really?!)  I was supposed to be out after two days of round the clock IV antibiotics by Saturday night.  Life was good.  My hubby was in as
much as he could be.  My dad brought me custard shakes.  My FF bought me candy bars from the snack machine I walked by a million and three times and stared at longingly until I was removed from the NPO list.  My heartbroke with the older gentlemen next to me who waved to me as I walked by, but became a different man when the sun went down.  I was very grateful to have my headphones, it was a very loud couple of evenings. Saturday came and I was ready to go home.  J was going back on shift the next day.  His trades had run out, because I was supposed to go home on Tuesday, remember. 

And they said NO! 

Ummm, what??

We needed to get 2 more rounds of antibiotics in you...the earliest is 3am.  Now, I asked for my resident to come in around noon on Saturday.  I am a control freak. I was feeling better.  I needed to make a plan for how I was going to go home.  J was on shift the next day.  My dad was at the track.  I could not drive until I was sans narcotics for 72 hours.  My doc was on vacation at her cabin - no cell service. I could not get in touch with an MD.

My night nurse started paging at 9pm.  I sent J home with the soft plan, put together by my nurse that we would open up that last round of antibiotics and just get them in me.  J came back in at 3:30am, under the idea that he would be able to take me home.  The resident still had not been able to make her way to me...or send a minion to come speak with me...or call the nurses station.  Over the course of the last 16 hours. 

And I was not happy.  I had to send J home.  He had to get to work.  That was that.  I would figure a way home.  Because, we all know, NOTHING goes right on a shift day.

The resident came in...after I had paced the 4P floor in anger and tears...at about 6:30am.  She told me how unrealistic and foolish I was being.  She also told me that there was nothing she could do until the attending discharged me.  You know, the attending that has NEVER seen me.

REALLY?  

Rant that was never posted
And it was that much worse when I waited to see the attending (4 more hours) and he told me that was NOT the case and I could have gone right after she saw me.  I did not need to be seen by her. "She did not listen to my instructions."  Really?  A power struggle??  

I was PISSED.

But, I was free to go.  I had my d/c papers.  My picc line was out.  I laid flat on my back for 30 minutes after that.  I just needed to be home before my kids were.

My brother offered to come pick me up.  The nurses wanted me to wait inside until my ride came.  Nope.  I signed those papers and I was outta there.  Like it or not.  

It was a beautiful day.  I was happy to hear the birds and feel the sun and wind.  
I quietly enjoyed the 4th with my dad and my ever working FF (after he got done with an extra 8 hour shift at Summerfest as a bike med - and brought a PNB back in front of a crowd).  I saw my surgeon Tuesday of  the following week. She was amazed at how well I was doing.  Wednesday...there was a pain in my back...a kidney stone, perhaps?  

Nah, that would be far too pedestrian.  You all know better...

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Stories

Everyone has one.  That is what makes up history.  Just a collection of the everyday lives of everyday day people woven into the greatest tale to tell.  

But, and everybody has one, you need to know people's story before you decide who or what they are. 

Far more philosophical that the surgery SNAFU post I started writing earlier today.  

How did I arrive at this deep place?  By going to the grocery store.  I mean, really.  Where else do you go to reach such enlightenment??

My FF and the kids are at a family picnic  I needed to sleep and just be, since J has been home a whole day since I got out of the hospital, I think.  Sounds great.  I got to sleep for a bit.  And then the doorbell rang, as did my phone. I just got up.  And realized I was hungry.

I was going to grab something to eat, but I did not want fast food and eating out without my people did not sound enjoyable.  So I decided on nachos.  But I was not going to cook up four or five pounds of beef for me.  And that is how I shop for ground meat.  I have a teenage boy, a pre-teen boy and an Obabiya.  We need to buy food in larger quantities.  So, I ran to the store.  

I never shop on a Sunday afternoon, so that was weird.  And I rarely shop without a cart.  I was stopped by a lady when I was looking for a smaller package of beef.  I was looking for a half pound or so.  A lady, clearly tired and frazzled, stopped me and loudly exclaimed, "What I wouldn't give to be in your shoes!? Single and kid free!"  I looked at my left hand to see what her issue was, and remembered I only had my claddagh ring on. I lost my diamond sometime this morning. :(  I also realized that she couldn't see the stretch marks around my scars and I don't have a diaper bag.  I also suppose mommies don't typically wear moustached Mickey t-shirts with moustached Chucks.  

I was about to be snarky and make a comment.  But it popped into my head that I have NO clue where she is coming from.  What might have happened this morning. What work is like, or perhaps the lack of work is the issue.  The point of the matter was that I just didn't know.

So we chatted for a few moments, she works 2 jobs and cleans on the side. She has 2 boys under 6.  She is tired.  

I choose not to one up her with twice as many kids or surgery horror stories or the fact that I am also a single mom a third of the time, without the 3 days off a week, with every other weekend as a bonus.  She was clearly tired and worn out.  Instead, I bought her a small bouquet of flowers.  Grocery store flowers, but  when was the last time she got flowers just because.  I simply said thank you for sharing your story.  And went home to make my nachos for one...and remember that my ring was still naked.  <sigh>

The point of the story, is that everyone has their own.  And because they cross your path, even for a moment, they become part of your story.  I think we would look at the world so much differently if we reminded ourselves of that.  

Yesterday, I took lunch to a homeless man who often sits on the curb next to one of the grocery stores.  I do whenever I see him.  Except this time, I sat on the curb with him and chatted.  I have been interacting with him for two years now and have never asked him what his story was.  I learned his name.  That is from half the country away and that he lost his wife and kids tragically.  He had such a hard time sharing it, but he did.  And I felt honored.  And we watched the cars go by and the battalion chief leave for his house visits for the shift. 

He has a name and story.  As does everyone we come across.  Whether it is because they are rushing through the store or cutting you off in traffic, they have a store.  Maybe they smile at you because they are walking on cloud nine because there is a new diamond on their hand or they got into the college of their dreams.  They have a story.  We just need to slow down and learn them!

Hopefully my FF and muppets will be home soon.  I will indeed be asking them to share their tales of the night, it is part of their history. Slow down and learn the histories of those around you.  You might just be amazed at what you discover.   

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Words Left Unsaid

Over the weekend, I was asked by my aunt to speak last night at my grandfather's funeral.  I speak for a living.  I tell tales of times gone by.  You would think that it is no big deal.  I do it everyday.  I can speak in front of a thousand kids and never bat an eyelash.  It is just what I do.  But you ask me to speak in front of my colleagues or other adults - my throat tightens, my voice quivers, my neck gets all splotchy red.  It is not a pretty sight to be seen.

So I started writing.  I mean really, how big of a deal is that??  I do that all the time, too.  Right??  (Well, not here lately...head hung in shame.)  And I just could not find the words.  I also started thinking that I would be married to the paper if I did that.  I would lose my place, stammer, stutter...I don't teach from notes or scripts or speeches or anything written.  Why would I do that this time?? I decided I would just speak from the top of my head.

The visitation was beautiful.  I was amazed at how many people did not recognize me.  One of my dad's cousins...the last time I saw her was at her wedding...when I was 12.  And here I was with my oldest about to enter high school.  The kids were great considering wakes are not the most exciting thing to attend. (Mine will be, mark my words!)

And then it was time for the service.

In true Doran fashion, none of the electronics worked properly.  My poor grandpa could not program a remote or go back and forth from the VCR to the cable box.  Or turn on the digital picture frame we bought my grandparents.  We all kinda snickered as the funeral director swore everything worked perfectly earlier in the day.

So, we were behind schedule.  It was getting late.  The memorial was beautiful.  My cousin read some things that my aunt had written and it was getting to be even later, so I passed on speaking.  It was a geriatric and a very young crowd.  Both groups were tired and hungry and ready to go home.

But here is what was in my head.
When I was asked by Debbie to speak tonight, I was at a loss for what to say.  I spoke with my dad and his response was, "You don't have to say anything.  He was a very ordinary man. He just worked hard.  I don't know what you would have to say."
 And my dad was right.  He was extraordinarily ordinary.  He worked.  All the time.  He worked for his dad's moving company...and we still have the moving straps and dollies to move us from us to house.  He drove a truck.  He delivered liquor.  He managed a movie theater. And was a manager for an early R&B group.  My dad remembers sitting on the basement stairs and watching them practice.  Most importantly, he was a bartender.  At the same bar for as long as I could remember.
I know it is funny for me to say most importantly, but it really was.   I spent many a Saturday morning/afternoon hanging out there.  Conning the old guys out of Hershey bars and "sodie waters". I grew up in that bar.  I learned how to count and count quickly in my head, because of that bar.  Math? Taught in an old Milwaukee corner bar, you ask.  Yup.  It is called Cribbage.    I learned how to subtract quickly in my head as well, from that same bar.  Remember darts...before they were electronic.  Yeah.  I was not going to be the one to bust.  I was also exposed to the basics of geometry through the pool table.  Sounds funny, but 'tis true.  I am a teacher, but also a firm believer that education is everywhere.  Even in Jim's Bar.
Now, that bar served another purpose in my education. Jim's always sponsored my dad and grandpa's Friday night bowling team.  I guess that would a lesson in community involvement and economics.  So many nights spent in houses that are no longer in existence.  Chris Corners, Court Lanes on FdL, All-Star Lanes, Crestview, Silverbird...  I think I came out of the womb with a bowling ball in my hand.  Up until I had so many horrible complications when I was pregnant with our youngest, I was still bowling 3 nights a week.  There's my Phy Ed.  I would probably classify that as Lifelong Sports (if that course code is still floating around).  By, like every good instructor, there was cross curricular integration.  More math.  Marking score.  Once I was old enough to stop begging for quarters for the arcade, they sat me down at the scoring table in the settee area.  Again, this was before technology took over.  This was when you had to use the tele-score overheads.  You know, the ones you fought to get the right side of so you didn't burn your arm marking score for the team on top. You learned the math.  I turn everything into some format of 10s, t o this day, because of bowling. My first love and heartbreak came out of the bowling world.  As did many trophies, scholarships and temper tantrums at tournaments when I couldn't keep up with the older girls.  As I became a grown up, many life long friends have come from that world.  
And that might not have ever happened without my grandfather.
If we could go back to the bar for a moment.  (Because that is what you do after bowling...go to the bar that sponsors you.) My grandfather was a bartender.  That is how I will always remember him.  As a bartender.  At Jim's and when it became Hampton House.  But, he also had a full bar in his basement.  That is where I learned another lifelong skill.  How to tap a proper beer and socialize.  Bar tending got me through college and paid for my wedding, and I am hopeful that it will be part of my retirement. When we spent the summers by my grandparents while my parents were working, we would wait for grandpa to come home.  Stealing his chair, the moment we heard his truck pull up.  Once he came in and got cleaned up, with my grandma in the kitchen, he would send me down for a beer.  You know the full BRICK bar in his basement, complete with tapper. (And boob mug with a Booze IV just for good measure.)  When his buddies came over, I was the bartender.  Whether it was from the tap or from the fridge with a few bottles of  Lite, I learned how to charm and serve.  Which if you know my snarky side, is a very necessary skill.  
What else there?  My love of Frank Sinatra and the rat pack from his reel to reel...which is still in my dad's living room.  Disney, I still covet his Mickey Mouse watch.  Stuffed animals.  He was amazingly talented at figuring out those claw machines...you'd be amazed at how many animals he got me from those things.  It was indeed a talent.  My husband still uses his "chemistry set" on our lawn...his was always immaculate.  
I guess my dad was right.  He lived an ordinary life.  He was married to one woman, had two kids - one boy and one girl.  He worked hard.  He was ordinary.  An ordinary father, husband, teacher, bartender, friend.  But, how many us long for that?  Simple time with our parents. Someone you can always talk to and have a drink.   Patient enough to deal with an 8 year-old on his "night out" and to have his friends accept me as well.
The dementia took him from us long ago.  Just a piece at a time.  Forgive me if my tears are limited.  At the surprise 80th birthday party for my grandma, that I helped  him plan...he forgot who I was when his brother-in-law (who has also forgotten me) asked who I was.  He forgot I had the girls.  He became confused and obsessed. Argumentative and combative.  And none of that was my grandfather.  I think I have been quietly mourning his passing for years.  Just, a little bit at a time.  He still enjoyed coming to the kids parties, but he was no longer the life of the party.  When we were in the hospital this past spring with him and refused to eat, I sat there and treated like my youngest.  "That's fine, but first take a bite of your grilled cheese."  He was no longer there. I got him to eat his sandwich, but that was not the man I will remember. I watched his mother waste away into near oblivion. For years.  And I am so very thankful that he did not have to endure this as long as she did.  
I will remember the man who was passing out various drinks with Baileys in it at Christmas. Asking me to bring my violin to play for everyone.   Taking my 3 year-old in before school and after school.  Letting her walk with him to get the mail and talk to the ladies downstairs. Complaining that Marv had no idea how to oil the lanes.  Telling me that it often helped if it actually put my fingers in the ball when I got lazy on lanes.  
I am not going to mourn his passing.  He is not gone.  Energy does not cease to exist, it merely changes form.  Instead, I will embrace those lessons and stories and pass them on. This is a celebration of a life, well lived, in the most ordinary fashion possible. 
He is no longer with us, but still among us.  He will be an important part our lives forever. We miss you already, Grandpa.
 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Finals

I love the sound of that.  

Finals.

Finals mean I FINALly get some time to be me.  Finals mean I FINALly get to see my kids for more than a quick minute.  Finals mean I get to FINALly address the fact that my womb is getting back at me for several traumatic pregnancies.  Finals mean I FINALly get to address my grief over losing my grandpa.  Finals mean I can FINALly find my house again under all the chaos that is left behind in the wake of life.  Finals mean I can FINALly get into a classroom that is mean for my class size and my discipline.  Finals mean my Seniors are FINALly on the path that is the first day of the rest of their life.

Finally.

I can breathe...well I will be able to breathe after tonight.  

No more fear of cancer in my belly.  No more anxiety for my grandma.  No more periods lasting 26 days out of a month - with all the inconvenience and lack of energy that comes with that.  No more papers (for a bit). No more staff meetings..well significantly less.  No more juggling schedules to accommodate two fire families with four FT parents.  

Life can just be!


I had a great finish to the school year.  My kids service learning project was a total SNAFU - nothing went right.  BUT, it was a night that 40 teenagers will talk about for years to come.  I mean how lucky am I that 40 teens came out to work a trust building party for a neighborhood they don't live in on a beautiful Friday night, the week before exams!!  My classes are in place for next year.  My girls room is clean.  My new van is being detailed as we speak.  

Life is good.  I will get back to writing.  I will get back to networking.  I will walk around and watch the world through the lens of my camera.  I will find my way out of the chaos that was the school year - wonderful, rewarding, stressful, exhausting and just my world.  I will take vacation so that I am strong enough to take it all on again in August. 

I'm back.  I'll see you in a week.  We have a 48 this weekend, after my FF spent all last weekend on the Fire/Safety Crew at the Mile.  And, teachers still have 2 more days of school left...

Hug the muppets, love on your fireman and enjoy each day for what it brings.  Rest in Peace, Grandpa.  We miss you already.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Saturdays

I used to think that Saturdays were for the fun things in life. Turns out, it is actually for the stuff you can't squish into the M-F game.  

So, how have I been spending my Saturdays?  Cramming more stuff in.  Getting more kids through their requirements. Bonding with teachers and family and polar bears and life in general.  It is insane and I am most certain that I will crash soon.  However, the beauty and laughter that I am surrounding myself with at every turn.  The kids that will pass my class and get that all empowering diploma make it that amazing. I wouldn't do things any different.  The disappointment in one of my high schoolers eyes when I said I would NOT be here next Saturday because I had to tend to my oldest daughter's American Girl dreams, was actually quite powerful. It made me feel like all this insanity is worth it.

One more hour and then we have my mother-in-law's birthday party up north, some cleaning to do for D's birthday party tomorrow and a WHOLE lot of work for me to do for school!  I'll get there.

Enjoy your weekend.  Love on those firemen!  Snuggle with the muppets.  Take a moment to look for the beauty that surrounds you.  You might be amazed at what you see.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Happy, Happy, Happy

Okay, I know I got that song stuck in your head.  We all loved it when it first came on the air, but now, through overplay and attaching it to ABC GMA commericals, we are I am most certainly done with it.

But, maybe I should not be.  Maybe instead of singing Let It Go and Do You Wanna Build a Snowman in various adaptations, I should walk around singing Happy.  Since Mother's Day I have been on a bit of a high.  And it is all about just embracing the little things. It is accepting your failures and building from there.  It is using each day as a lesson for the next.  Cheesy, but really where I am.

I am looking at what to do with my Fridays in school next year.  We are continuing with the Service Learning, but I would like to build in a character building aspect.  My kids really need training in how to be polite and respectful and handle themselves among themselves.  I was looking for, what I called, "How to Not Be a Jerkface All the Time" training programs and I found 8 Keys to Excellence and I like what they are putting out there.

One of the key (pun totally intended) tenets to this program is 
and I totally love it.  

Yup, that sucked.  What can you take from it and where can you go from here? 

It is really rather empowering when you just embrace it and move on.  Another moment for me to practice what I preach.  

Chaos - http://www.henderson-art.co.uk/art-detail.php?id=chaos
Insanity is this week - 2 more days of the school week, with a shift day tomorrow and subbing jobs for the fireman on both ends.  My mil's birthday party is Saturday and D's is Sunday.  The boys have a million things to do after school - 8th grade memorial things and robotics competition prep. And my house looks like a Laundromat vomited all over it.  I keep moving the laundry baskets I am avoiding from my living room to my bed and back again.  We are looking at buying new living room furniture - kids and dogs have taken their toll on what we have right now and I can't make it look nice anymore. I have a stack of papers to grade that is reaching toward the heavens and I am unsure as to when I will get to those. My perfect life that so many people seem to perceive that I live, looks more like a random state of chaos and confusion at every turn.  I am okay with that, it is my confusion.

And yet, with all of this insanity, I am amazingly calm.

If my laundry doesn't get put away by the party day, I'll close my bedroom door.  I will get to those papers, even if it is not tonight.  The new furniture will be amazing and will lead to lovely nights of giggles, frights and snuggles.  

I am in an amazing state of contentment.  It is kinda weird.  But I am indeed kinda weird, so I guess I'll just have to embrace it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Giggle for the Day

My FF and I could not stop giggling this morning.  It was a video that the silly fireman was watching as opposed to hounding my muppets to get moving and it drew me in.

The poor kid, this is his 15 minutes (literally) of fame.  I hope he knows that he also has brought quite a bit of joy, because we have all had those moments. 


I hope it brings a smile to your grey day.  


Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day Blues


It was a beautiful day.  My husband cantered for mass and I so miss hearing him sing.  I could not have asked for a more perfect day for him to sing. The kids and I brought up the gifts for communion.  No Sunday School.  A lovely brunch at the kids' favorite breakfast spot.  We came back home and they got my patio set up - a new table cloth, the canopy for the gazebo, the lights we strung the night before.  My hunny did most of the laundry folding, but I pitched in so it would not eat him (there were a million BAZILLION LOADS). The boys put the laundry away for the muppets.  And generally we all just enjoyed the beautiful weather until the storms came through.  My hubby bought me an Eiffel Tower to replace the one that was stolen last year and has already concocted a plan to keep it in place. (That was after he bought me new cushions for the patio set yesterday, since I live out there all summer long.)  I was definitely the spoiled girl of the weekend.

And...he has a PO today while NOT subbing or picking up OT.  

I almost called in.  Just so we could spend another day together. 

Almost...

I feel like we have been ships passing in the night and yesterday reminded me of how much I actually love being with this guy.  I love watching the kids and laughing at their shenanigans.

I didn't want yesterday to end.

But, alas, it is gone.  A memory of the recent past. Far too soon it will join the collection of "remember when" stories.  And I am back at school.  Mother's Day is a nice reminder that we are loved, even though we still have much work to do with those who love us.  Today, is a reminder that I have more kids to be a mom to, beyond those that share my DNA.  And so, here I am.  We are in the home stretch and I am going to take them through, kicking and screaming, to the summer.

Happy Monday! Happy Belated Mother's Day, Mommas!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Say What You Need to Say

We all know that I don't have a filter that works well.  If I can't quickly think of a politically correct way to say something, I usually just don't say anything.  I often blurt out brainstorming ideas, before I have thought them through.  Sometimes that is out of excitement.  Sometimes it is because I need to get it out, before it gets lost in the abyss that is found in the damaged short term memory sector of my fried brain...never to be seen again.

Some (though very few) people totally get it.  Most others I offend quickly and they don't stay in my life long.  They don't appreciate/like/understand my blunt, straight forward nature.  Sometimes they just don't know how to talk to me.  My FF reminds me regularly that I am an intimidating figure, because I am so forthright. 

I bounce things off of my husband, he is my filter.  He understands that my brain believes that sugar coating is for cookies and that sometimes he needs to help me add that aspect to my verbiage.  He brings humanity (and sometimes compassion) to my technical brain.  I am not wired like anyone else - literally.  The damage was so severe at such a young age, that my skills and components are in different parts of my brain than other people.  I don't always fit in.

Some days I feel as though I don't fit anywhere and there is just aren't enough people that either understand me or accept me just as I am. That perhaps the greater good that I am trying to reach out and achieve is just not feasible.  That perhaps, just maybe, I should stay in my little portion of the universe and spend more time enjoying my muppets and less time trying to save the world.  My kids, my husband, my world.  They know my flaws and accept me as I am.  Perhaps, that safety net is where I need to stay.  Perhaps, I am not meant for the bigger portion of the world.  

Not everyone is as bold as me.  I know that.  Not everyone knows that I can be addressed on anything, because I respect that you say what you need to say.  Instead of asking what I meant in my moment of excitement, people spoke with other people and I offended more people.

When all I tried to do was a mend a few bridges and possibly make sure that someone would possibly feel less alone, when life causes them feel totally alone - it blew up in my face.  I was being straight forward in my thinking and sharing it...and suddenly there was an explosion.  Suddenly, I was not thinking of others.  Suddenly, I had hurt everyone's feelings.  Suddenly I had no idea how I had offended so many people so quickly, when I shared one idea after a 5 minute phone call, in the literal moment before my next class came in. 

Suddenly, I realized that I am not a creature that belongs with her own kind...because there is no such thing.  I am weird.  I am different.  I am not like anyone else.  My brain is damaged.  There are images to prove it.  It does not work the same way as everyone else's.  And the rest of the world does not always accept that I am not like anyone else.  No matter how hard I try.  I will never be like everyone else.

It is a bit of an isolating epiphany.

Maybe it is NOT better to say too much.  Perhaps, it is better to truly say nothing at all.  


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Acceptance

I am not there, yet.

I am working on being supportive, but I am not okay with it. Not yet.

I keep telling myself that I will be.  I keep reading up on things, because that is how this damaged brain settles itself - through the discovery and expansion of knowledge.  I know it sounds backwards and I truly do attribute that to the insane degree of damage and subsequent rewiring of my brain.  I need to read up and ask and learn in order to be okay with it.

And I am doing that, because I need to.

http://www.hva.org/Government/SpecialTeams2.htm
Why would I be anymore freaked out about him being on the TEMS team, as compared to "just" a firefighter?  It is not as though the risk as any less than a roof collapsing or a floor caving in.  I have seen the images of the FFs bailing from the house moments before a flashover or explosion.  I am not sure why.  I don't have an answer. I can only guess it is fear of the unknown.

Perhaps that is what I am searching for. Perhaps I just need to fill that file in my brain with enough information that it is no longer searching for more. I don't know for certain.

A former police officer who I have become friends with recently told me that he refused to speak with his wife about work and told her, point blank, to never ask again.  I could never have that happen.  It is part of your world.  He is a HUGE part of my world.  Therefore it is part of my world.  (Didja see that, Pythagoras would be proud.) It is a part of my world.

Random TEMS patch, not ours
I searched the screen for his box at the temple shooting, I won't have to look, if there is a next time. I will already know.

I want him to talk to me about the theories and the various case studies they are going through.  I want to understand and be comfortable with their training.  I know, most of their runs are simply serving warrants, but, what about the other times? I want to TRUST that he will have every bit of training possible to make sure he comes home to me, no matter where his work takes him.

So, until then, my response was to request a TEMS patch - to sew on to the whole the dogs chewed in my brand new backpack, looking for the imaginary food I was CLEARLY keeping in there.  If for nothing else but to keep a part of him with me while I work through this.

Go love on those FFs or call the ones who are on shift.  I am working on not muffling the muppets, at the moment.  I think common sense has left the compound.  Have a happy humpday, everyone!


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Women!

I wish I understood them.  

I wish I could reason with them, but instead, I clearly speak another language.  


I describe myself as a guy with boobs.  I watch sports and drink beer.  I am quick tempered, you have to let me blow up and then it is done. I HATE wearing dresses, I hate buying them even more.  I bought 2 purses this week and that was newsworthy.  (Although, purely out of necessity - one for a more formal dinner, when my FF was on shift and I did not have access to his pockets for lip gloss, license, keys and ATM card.  It is barely larger than my phone.  The other purse was his idea while we snuck away to the mall for an hour - to keep my epi pen.  Picky, picky!)  Heels and make up are fine, but I am not doing my hair and I am wearing jeans.  I have no patience for pettiness and have always fought for girls and women to be treated as equals.  My boys had baby dolls and my girls have trucks.  There is nothing you can or cannot do based on the gender you were born with.  Follow your dreams and your heart.  I have tried to instill that into my kids, both at school and at home.  


But that does not make me a fan of women.

We do not raise each other up, we tear each other up.  We are fearful and jealous.  We are afraid to tap into our own confidence and build ourselves and those around us up from there.  Trying something new is not always on our radar, the fear of failure holds us back. When I hear women worried about females in the firehouse, I want to scream at the top of my lungs, "WHAT ABOUT YOUR FIREFIGHTER?  WHY NOT BE PISSED AT HIM FOR NOT SAYING 'I'M MARRIED.  LEAVE ME ALONE!' " It takes two to tango.  If you are worried about your FF, your marriage has issues bigger than a female FF.  We, as women, do not like to see other women surpass us.  Instead of using that as incentive to strive for our goals, we pull down the mountain that she built and then climbed, in spite of everyone telling her she'll never do it - brick, by brick.  We as women fear being compared and deemed inadequate.  Our breasts are too small, our waistlines too big.  We are not blonde enough or tall enough or pretty enough.  Our house is not clean enough.  We don't juggle it all - work, kids, marriage, love - with as much grace and style as our neighbor.  We, for whatever reason, are in a CONSTANT state of competition with each other.  

But, it hit a whole new low yesterday and my blood boiled.  I was not part of it, I was not privy to it.  Instead it was 2nd hand gossip.  So, I cannot quote it.  BUT, I can tell you that even the smallest portion of it was true, it was so far out of line, that I cannot begin to excuse such behavior.  

Playing on a fire wive's fear of the unmentionable to get them to side with you. 

Telling them they would be alone when their world was crumbling down.

I acknowledge, I was not there.  But, I cannot image the low that these women must have felt that such a thing would be said or even alluded to.  

It makes me want to puke and it breaks my heart, all at the same time.

Why are we not building each other up?

Why are we not celebrating the victories - both large and small?

Why are we not teaching our daughters that women support, where girls compete?

We are so hard on the guys; why are we not hard on our own?  

Step up.  

Build up.  Build bridge and mountains and climb to the top.  The view is beautiful!



Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Longing

Ever feel something that you can't quite put your finger on...a nagging feeling that you are not quite where you are supposed to be.

For some reason that has been going through my veins for a bit.  I am not quite at my destination on this journey.


I have no idea where that location is or why there's a feeling of...I don't even know what adjective to insert here.  Emptiness or discontent or...I don't really know. 

I clearly have to find what purpose I am needing to fulfill.


I am having a very philosophical moment.  I clearly need wine on a Saturday night to make sense of this...and not lesson plans on a busy Thursday lunch hour.

So, bear with me.  I clearly need to sort through this and life seems to be giving me no time to do so.

On the side of Fire Wife Life, my FF made it through his TEMS (Tactical EMS) testing yesterday.  He should be getting his email to be fitted for tactical gear and get that training started.  That is a whole new discussion, for another day.  Tonight I am flying solo, J's on shift, D has judo class on the other side of town.  Luckily, I just have to get her to my dad's - right of the freeway.  I will also be attending my first political fundraiser dinner tonight, like the go buy a dress kind of a dinner. (That was miserable, btw.)  Tomorrow my kids will dissect their community mapping project with the guys from Serve 2 Unite and begin to determine, based on the data they collected, what their service project should look like.  And finally, tomorrow night, I am going to head down to FIBland to see a couple of FFWs for dinner downtown.  Saturday, my FF is on shift - I think it is a payback flip and D has her first judo tournament.  I think he is sad to miss it.  I will be sure to record it for him.  And Sunday, Sunday is laundry day.  Definitely not a SunDay, Funday, that is for sure.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring Break 2014

It is coming to a close.  Our first day back to the grind will be the day after a shift day, which is probably best.  I won't be tempted to stay in bed longer than I should because he's there and I won't have to help him <insert missing necessity here>.  I have only had all of my muppets under one rough a few days this break, which makes me miss them, but I know they are out having fun and bonding with family.  So important.  

WE are the Bridge...

The Bridge has been a topic this whole break.  It makes me happy that it has stuck with them.  I got to help a FFW bust out of the house for the day, and terrorize the college kids of Northwestern, drinking Chai in the fashionable Unicorn Cafe, while her brave FF held down the fort with my girls mixed in with their muppets. My hubby bought some Chucks for me, not necessarily a newsflash, but it shows that he tolerates and embraces my quirkiness.  We celebrated my mom's 60th birthday, with a lamb cake (Not quite like the cake of her childhood, but close) - that N made using the cake mold I bought on my FFW escapade earlier in the week and my FF decorated because I am just clumsy. 

The holiday was brunch and dinner at my house after a lovely mass and homily by Fr. Alejandro.  Such a nice celebration.  
 

Summary, a wonderful recharge of batteries.

Tomorrow, we begin the end of the school year.

Bring it on.

Celebrate the coming of spring and the departure of the polar vortex.  Live life in a manner that you make a difference and will be missed because of the lives you touch.  And love that firefighter like there's no tomorrow, even when he's driving you looney. Peace, love and chocolate bunnies.
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