Haven’t forgotten to blog, I’m dying to write. I miss it but just wanted to tell you that my neighborhood has NO electricity or power, I can’t wait to write again. Wish us luck. It’s FREEZING AT HOME !!!!!!!!!
It was one of THOSE days. One of those days that I knew I had to get out of my very small house that was threatening to eat me up alive. Our little cozy cottage was filled with my husband, two bored teenagers home for February break, our yawning dog and me. I needed to get out and drive somewhere and I needed a destination. I was looking for someplace where I could walk indoors and get away from the 22 degree temperature and howling winds. I loathe winter. The snow has been piled up for months and I felt claustrophobic and depressed and all the problems (unemployment for my husband, chronic pain for me) were feeling insurmountable. I wanted to see different things, admire vibrant colors, and more importantly see people I didn’t know; people of all shapes and sizes, colors, width and height; speaking different languages, interesting strangers.
I headed to Target and it was terribly crowded but I didn’t mind; I weaved in and out of the store using their bright, red carriage for support. As soon as I saw the clothing and shoes section I immediately felt happier. SUMMER!!! All the clothes were short-sleeved and summery, and the textures were light, like a softly worn handkerchief. The colors bloomed throughout the store like daffodils: yellow, pink, rose, white, aqua, baby blue. The shoes were flimsy flip-flops and sandals; not a muddy brown winter boot in sight! I honestly felt relieved and joyful when I saw that the aisles had been cleared away of all the winter gear and the store was telling me, that yes, winter REALLY will be over and summer is not just a fantasy.
On the way home though, I felt blue once again, worrying about things I can’t control, fretting about things I shouldn’t fret about. With tears streaming down my frozen face I started feeling miserable again, especially when I heard the forecast and an additional 6 inches of snow was on its way. I crawled into bed, to try to relieve my aches and pains and I gently put the covers back over my face and sighed. Sleeping is very good therapy for me.
When I woke up I felt much better, perspective restored. I got out of bed, headed down the stairs with my brown, white and red Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer slippers to the kitchen. I made a piece of multi-grain toast with butter and honey. Honey is one of the world’s loveliest foods. To me, it is a delicacy, delicious and beautiful in every shape or form. The color of honey in itself is a work of art, like a beautiful painting about warmth and the sun and love. Honey is comforting, it’s deliciously lovely, it soothes and calms. While Target got me out of the house, honey, saved my spirit and welcomed me back home.
I want to eat fattening foods like chocolate cake and tons of frosting with a large glass of milk, egg rolls that are crisp and greasy and amazing. Thick vanilla milkshakes that I can barely sip through a straw. I want pupu platters served to me with a little bit of everything fried. Prawns and cocktail sauce, sweet and sour meatballs, pigs in blankets; it’s beginning to sound like I want my Bat Mitzvah at the age of 53… I also want potato pancakes crisp and brown, with applesauce that has a lot of added sugar in it. I want surf and turf, a dish of melted butter for the lobster, Béarnaise sauce for the steak, Hollandaise sauce for the asparagus and I will add my own additional salt, thank you. And, I want the thick, steak cut French Fries that I saw yesterday when I was eating my meager salad, drinking ice water with lemon. I want to sit down for a 6 course meal at a restaurant where I don’t have to get up and out of my chair every 5 minutes to get someone something they want from the refrigerator. A napkin, soft drink, pasta, tomato sauce, knife, fork, jelly (ok,that’s for me) ketchup, steak sauce, spritzy red salad dressing and food for the dog with gravy from the turkey we roasted two days ago.
I want to not even have heard of the words calorie, carbs, obesity, camps for overweight kids (in the NY Times Magazine section) and plus sizes. And, I want that new company Pajama Jeans to buck up and make these for people larger than a size 0-2 or 10-12, same thing. I don’t want to join a gym or power walk or use a treadmill, stair master, rowing machine, and do free weights. I want to obliterate the word weight and the doctors in this country that are so obsessed with it. Give me a very large internist and sign me up for my physical. Not the skinny cold bitch internist that I have now whose “if- I- can- go- the- gym -at -5am- and- have -Dr. hours -and- be- a- single- parent- than- you- can -do- it -too.” Shut up you condescending bitch, I hate you, with your petite figure and dyed hair and expensive ensembles and the bedside manner of a tray of over-frozen ice cubes with freezer burn.
I want to stop denying myself all the GOOD food and screw you Weight Watchers you know you can’t eat everything on your meal plan. You want vanilla, coconut cake? Sure, have a crumb of coconut, that’s all you are entitled to, that will be 537 points, but it’s okay, you can have it. Enjoy. Enjoy, my ass.
I also don’t want to worry about every little thing that comes into my brain, every which way. I want to go to the Asian Fusion restaurant in my neighborhood for lunch with my friend that will last 3 hours and share jasmine tea that costs a small fortune. After that, I want dessert, lots of different types of desserts that I can savor for as long as I want. Strong, Starbucks coffee with a lot of steamed milk and Sweet N Low. This is my fantasy and that’s how I want it.
I will not walk off my meals nor will I exercise. I will go home and take a 3 hour nap and then wake up and the two feet of snow that has come down in the last day will be over and I will not see it again until I want to. Which might be never because I am sick and tired of cold weather that makes my bones ache and my mind feel claustrophobic. I will burrow under a down blanket, worn with age, and two more blankets on top of it and not come up until Spring.
Last night I committed a sin, a major sin, according to my 15 and a half-year old daughter. She didn’t tell me in words; she didn’t have to. I was in the bedroom listening to music that I like, feeling happy and I started to dance. Alone. It was just one of those moments when I felt energetic enough to do some minor dancing by myself, Ellen Degeneres style. Having Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an auto-immune disease, and Fibromyalgia, I don’t feel this way all too often. Methotrexate, one of the drugs I am taking twice a week is also a total kill joy. That night, however, I was given a break and I celebrated. I felt good!
On the way out of my daughter’s room she passed me, stopped, and gave me the dirtiest look I have received to date, complete with the eye roll upwards and “the look.” You know which look I mean, moms and dads, the look of hate and utter disgust. Why? I guess because I am a “mom” and I embarrassed her. To quote my daughter:” it was weird.” Why? It’s NOT as if all my daughter’s friends were over or that we were in public. I was in my soft, pretty white nightgown that had petite fir- green flowers printed on it (probably the first major mistake) and happily swaying to the music from The Black Eyed Peas. I wasn’t EVEN listening to John Denver or Josh Groban, this was a bona fide group that she likes.
Yet this afternoon when my daughter was asked to go to a movie this evening with her friend, she trudged into my room asking me to give her a few reasons (hint, hint, I don’t want to go) why I wouldn’t “allow” her to go. I suggested a few things which did not suit her, and then she suddenly looks happier and says “I know! I’ll tell her you’re really annoying and that you are freaking out about all the snow we are getting.” Mission accomplished, glad I could be of help, dear. “You’re welcome” I shouted and she glanced back at me all golden blonde hair swinging down her back, brilliant blue eyes and Forever 21 outfit and replies somewhat sheepishly: “thanks.” No problem.
I know, I know, hormones mixed with the emotional turmoil of having an embarrassing mom (didn’t we all have one of those?”) combined with the separation process. I get it. I understand it on a rational and psychological level. It doesn’t mean I have to like it but I accept it (face it, what choice do I have?).
The next time my illness or the dreaded Methotrexate medicine gives me a reprieve, I will continue to dance to the music that makes me happy. And when I do, I will wear my 1970’s faded neon orange T-shirt that my husband gave me and my flannel pink and rose flowered pajama pants. My door will be wide open and my voice will be loud and clear and strong.
I am not a big fan of football and frankly, did not watch the Superbowl with the exception of the half-time show and the commercials. What I learned from Sunday night’s game is not a greater understanding of football but really, how very old I was. Apparently there was a large amount of people , ok, young people who had no idea who The Who was. Who, they asked? The Who, we answered which give way to a lot of head shaking, grumbling and some requests for people that the kids at least knew and liked. The Who was not it.
Bruce Springsteen is someone we can all relate to. Paul McCartney too. Bring on Beyonce and The Black Eyed Peas. But, The Who? It really dated the viewing audience and from what I heard the performance was not a spectacular one.
Maybe next year they will select a half-time performance that we can all enjoy. Like that’s possible.
Callie, my beautiful 9-year-old dog lies curled up at the end of my bed; her black, white and tan fur as soft as down feathers. Her paws are white with tan freckles, her stomach is pure white. Her long tail is like a sweeping paintbrush, like a peacock’s plume, black and tan, its softness tickles my nose. Sometimes she shudders and shakes when she is sleeping and I reach out to stroke her fur and wake her up; she looks around and stretches one paw directly up into the air and audibly sighs.
Callie knows, instinctively, how I feel; she is sensitive to my moods and especially to my sorrow. She jumps up on my bed and looks at me with her liquid brown eyes, knowingly. After my father died, Callie spent a lot of time with me, she could comfort me as no one else could. She licked the tears away from my face and would not leave my side until I felt better. I didn’t need to explain, I didn’t need to talk, she understood my pain at the most primitive level. Her fur was often damp from my tears, my arms curled around her body. Wherever I went, she went; she still follows me everywhere; I still call her “my little shadow.”
Nine years ago I drove to a few shelters, “just looking.” One day I arrived at a shelter to see a woman who worked there cradling two, tiny, adorable puppies in her hands, one to her left cheek, the other to her right. Apparently the pup’s mom had abandoned them and wouldn’t nurse them. I arrived five minutes after a man who had adopted them for a week came back and brought the puppies back to the shelter, because “they were too much trouble.”
I sat myself down on the dirty floor and the two, six-week old puppies were placed next to me. One was frisky and started eating telephone wires, the other crawled into my lap and stayed. It was love at first sight, for both of us. I identified with the little ball of mush snuggling into my lap, sighing with contentment; if she had been a cat she would have purred.
I watch Callie from the window, frolicking in the snow, barking happily, and hopping and skipping like a bunny. Snow is her favorite element and in it she acts like the same young pup we’ve always known. Her favorite time is when we have a snowstorm and my husband shovels snow directly to her. She can literally jump up to two feet in the air so she is just about vertical and she yelps and barks with utter joy.
I was never able to understand the bond between a human being and a dog, until we adopted Callie and then I knew what unconditional love was. My children whisper their secrets to her, I have seen them bend down, close to her ear. She is the keeper of secrets and of sorrow, and she is constantly happy, even if we are away for five minutes, she greets us with great joy.
Now, her once black whiskers are turning white; the fur under her chin has also changed from black to white. My daughter asked me the other day “How long do dogs live?” It’s the same thing I have thought about from time to time. I hesitated, and my daughter said the following:” Mom, I need to know. I need to be prepared.” I told her what I knew and what the veterinarian had said and that I understood her completely because I needed to be prepared too. What I did not tell her is that no matter what, you can never be prepared for death. Ever.
My daughter and I and our closest neighbors celebrate her birthday every year on March 1st. We buy her a present or two and she always gets a really good meal. The boys in our family want nothing to do with us. But, for my daughter and me, it’s a celebration of her life, year after year. I hope she is with us for a very long time but when the day comes, I know that I will always cling to the image in my mind, of my dog, crazy happy, jumping into the air, covered with snowflakes.
newly dedicated to Rosa Michelle
Today is a HAPPY day for me; for most others they would call it “normal.” After a good, solid night’s sleep (waking up only once and then able to go back to sleep immediately), I woke up at 11AM and felt good. Good, as in the absence of, pain and aches. Not just good, but GOOD, almost great. I had enough energy to get out of the bed and go down the stairs. Feeling good is taken for granted by a whole lot of people but NOT to those of us who have auto-immune diseases, fibromyalgia or ANY chronic illness for that matter. Good to us is great. Unfortunately for some of us, to experience it is sometimes rare.
When I feel sick I don’t know if it’s a side effect of the methotrexate (and plaquannel) that I am taking, whether it is my illness (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Fibromyalgia) OR a new virus or bug I picked up (probably at another Dr’s appointment.) Last week I took, (yes, I asked my doctor’s permission) gulp, double the amount of methotrexate, 8 pills (bad idea, really bad idea) on one day instead of splitting the medication, 4 pills, twice a week. I did get approval from the doctor to try….but it was definitely a really bad experiment. My fault. Entirely. I take full responsibility for it. Big, bad, miserable mistake but I thought it could turn out to my advantage (so not) and I wanted to try to feel good for a few days in between the two doses. It backfired, I was sick for an entire, miserable, can’t-get-out-of-bed- week. Never will that happen again. Maybe the lessons I needed to learn from this are: when I go back to taking the dose twice a week (starting Monday) it won’t feel AS bad as it was last week AND see how much sicker I could feel every day?
I took advantage of THE DAY (wish I could light this up with sparklers) by doing “normal” things which to me were thrilling. I went to the Orthodontist with my kids (just being able to GO was a treat) and then I took them out to eat at the local diner. First, having teenagers by themselves, outside the house, is a joy in itself. There was barely any fighting and a lot of sharing food and actual conversation. Anyone who has teenagers knows this is a rare gift. Besides my son taking illegal sips out of my daughter’s strawberry smoothie and my daughter continually playing with the straw in her water-glass, it was calm and very enjoyable. My son ate his brunch, thinly layered pieces of a croissant, french toast style, with bacon in less than 4 minutes. My scrambled eggs and toast (why do they taste so much better when I am not cooking them??) and fruit served as the extra filling station for both the kids. It was fun to see them reach over and grab bites and an even greater joy just to be with them. Outside the house. Like a real person. Most people would take this meal for granted. Not I.
Being on a roll on this celebratory day, my husband and I plan to go to dinner at the Asian Fusion restaurant we used to go to. We have not gone out anywhere for months so Carpe Diem (seize the day). For me, a good day, like today, is a celebration. I can honestly say that I don’t know when I will feel this good again. I wish it was more frequent, I wish I could predict it but I can’t and I have to accept that.
I hope people who don’t have any illnesses will read this to know how good they have it, that just having an ordinary day makes us feel so special. I may not feel like this for a few more weeks or months but it allows me to remember how it feels and that there is the promise of another day, somewhere…. in the future.
Winter is alone. Spring is for friends. Summer is for families. Fall is for children. I need that tiny glimmer of hope when I look outside at 5 PM and see a bit of the sun still whispering down at me from the sky. Is the gloomy darkness giving us a chance to take a gulp of winter air and not get lost and turned around in the frost? How much longer can I see my breath outside as the car shudders and shakes itself to start? Is there a chance, a hope, a tremor, a twinge that Spring may actually be coming in the next few months?
I can minimally handle these cold and frigid days when the sun is out and the sky is a mellow blue. It’s when the limbs of strong, sturdy trees fight, swaying against the gray, dark clouds that I become a hermit and don’t want to leave my cozy house. That’s when I stay inside, if I can, and sip Eggnog Tea and pat my dog on her sweet head so that she closes her eyes and sighs a gracious thank-you.
Stronger and stronger I am feeling the connection between mood and weather, temperature to temperament. I don’t think it’s a fast science but a personal assessment. Some people like the sun; I need the sun. I crave it with my body that is still dry and rough from the long winter. Red, raw hands fighting inside the mittens that promise warmth and comfort but deliver neither.
How can one NOT feel better when you see the spry young spots of purple and yellow crocus’ emerging from the strong, solid earth? The first blush of downy yellow from the forsythia tree in the backyard. The texture of pussy willows as I stroke my thumb against them back and forth like a calming mantra.
Let this bitter cold winter end. The soft billowy snow that once was fresh is now a dull gray mixed with mud. We have been through this for many years as we mutter “I hate the winter” to anyone who passes by. Or we say it out loud to ourselves, over and over again.
We all need a break from the earth, from the world and from ourselves. We need to shine, to stretch like a cat after a long nap, to take long deep breaths that smell like daffodils or mowed lawns, or red wine. Let the spring come to us like a long-awaited for present, no expectation on when it will arrive but always deeply grateful when it does.
As soon as the iPad came out the advertising rain- man in my head thought:
The iPad, like a Maxi Pad, only fresher.
I wake up each night every two hours. I fall asleep quickly but two hours later these horrible mind games occur. I wake up, not groggy, but alert as if an alarm inside me has gone off like a very loud siren. Last night the ghost of anxiety past, present and future filled my brain so much that I felt confused and uncertain. My mind was a mixture of headlines and dark thoughts twisted together like a tree with very weak limbs. If there was a blast of wind I know the tree would ultimately go down, lying decrepit and lost by the side of the snow-covered road.
Why were there two teenagers admitted to the ICU with blood clots in an arm and in the brain. They are from the same town and know each other. What are the chances of that happening, and why? The messages that terrorists are likely to attack again, soon frighten me. I see the images of their faces in the newspapers and on television, over and over again. I felt uneasy rereading the thirty-seven pages I read of The Bell Jar for my son. The Methotrexate drug I take haunts me and hates me, as I do it. The intense images of my daughter’s presentation on Haiti sticks in my mind, mud and blood, and half-dead children, with red gauze across their eyes, mothers reaching out for their dead children, crying. Grandmothers and fathers stretching their arms out to pray while tears are flowing down their cheeks. I also dream about evil rats, dorm rooms and multiplying green and black snakes. Nothing is too silly to taunt me.
Every two hours I rise from my bed to try to shake the demons away but they will not go, they stick to me like honey and burrs and laugh when I try to shake them off. I am so tired that I try to stay awake during the day but sometimes I cannot. I don’t feel well physically, my stomach hurts, my body aches, my energy is at an all time low. I think about going back to the guru Dr. in the city and I feel like I am a failure. My body is slow but my mind is racing, on over- drive. I cannot adjust the two to be synchronized. I wish I could. My legs are jumpy and my body cold, I trek to the bathroom back and forth as if I was pacing for a baby to be born, except there is no joy.
I have tried everything from deep breathing, telling myself an imaginary story, drugs, walking around, having a cookie, but nothing seems to work. I lie in bed awake and tense, I try to pull my fluffy pink blanket close by just to finger its texture but that doesn’t work either. I find myself turning over and over, asking myself questions that I don’t know the answer to. I am too tired to go downstairs and watch TV and our house is too small for me to wander around without waking someone up. For the first time in a long time, along with these physical maladies is fear; and I don’t know where that is coming from.
I am not even sure of what I am afraid of. If I knew, I could sort it out and try to solve it. Except I am afraid that this pattern will continue and my lack of sleep will only ravage me further. I tried to sleep with the moon on my face last night but that gave me no sense of comfort either. I think I am going backwards in my physical health and that in itself is a nightmare.
I write now with a cup of coffee that I gulped down, fast enough that I don’t remember the flavor or the taste. I need to write but nothing comes to mind. Nothing but the puzzle pieces of my brain that are not fitting together. I ask for help in my silent plea to my deceased father but nothing comes and then I am left with pure longing. I cringe because I am forgetting what my father’s voice used to sound like and that makes me terribly unhappy and lost.
I am feeling a bit disoriented. Where is my peace? Why can’t I find my gratitude guide? Why is everything scary and troubling and unlike the nightmares, I am wide awake enough to continue to feel these emotions. I am scared of nothing and everything, I feel sad and anxious and confused. I want to destroy these night-time monsters but they are indestructible. I am not Max of the Wild Things, I cannot make these evenings an adventure. they are in control of me and I surrender because I have no strength left to fight. I try to talk to myself but I cannot listen.