Father’s Day

Self made rainbow, made in home garden.

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I was in Target’s the other day buying things I really don’t need but that’s what is so great about Target. You pretty much can justify almost every purchase because it is so inexpensive. After my leisurely walk through the aisles I make a right turn to the card section to select a card for my dad. After a moment I felt a sharp intake of breath ; shock and horror set in immediately like an illness that comes on suddenly and wipes you out. I stop, stand still and I reach for the cart to steady myself.  My father has been dead for ten years.

I don’t see his image in the streets anymore like I used to do for years after his death. Father’s Day, however, is something that is so ingrained in me that every single year I do the same exact thing. I go automatically to the Father’s Day section. I don’t have a father anymore and the realization from that is always new and it always hurts like a fresh wound. Moments of past misery hit me like a strong wave that pulls me under.

Every year on or around Father’s Day I go to the cemetery and put round white stones on his grave site. I clean off all the debris, pieces of dead brown leaves that crackle and fall apart, twigs, black soot from a harrowing winter and I clean things up a little. I bring a bouquet of flowers when I go. It’s the least I can do for a father who bought me a single red rose every year on my birthday. I talk to my dad at the cemetery and I weep. I weep in anticipation of getting there so my tears start rolling down my cheeks way before I have arrived. I park my car in the same spot, sometimes I will walk a few steps and then come back, go in the opposite direction and return quickly.

This year, as if a gift from heaven, my son’s High School graduation is on Father’s Day and that makes me extraordinarily happy. I feel, actually, I know, that my father will be with us at the celebration. He will be there in spirit with his family, seeing his grandson graduate. Maybe he will be in the soft breeze that blows, hidden in the colors of a rainbow, in the light of the raindrops that may shower us, or in the rays of the beaming sun nodding his approval, showcasing his pride. He will be there.

I know I won’t have lunch with my dad again, or be able to listen to one of his “educational talks” or laugh hysterically when he used to take the vacuum cleaner out when he thought company was staying too long. It’s not as if I can have one last hug from him or a kiss on the top of my head. I can imagine his soft hands but I can’t feel them anymore, but I carry him around with me in my heart forever.

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Bust An Infertility Myth “You Have Really Old Eggs…”

Venus

Image by Daquella manera via Flickr

Twenty years ago my husband and I battled infertility for over two and a half years. Infertility back then was shameful, shrouded in secrecy. Never have I fought for something so hard in my life, not before then and not after. This had been my dream since I was five years old, I was not going to give up easily.

I woke up at 5am, every day, to have blood drawn and an ultra-sound. Often, I was there again at night. We had tried IUI twice with no success. I was on a lot of medication and nightly shots that my husband administered into my sore buttocks. It is a draining process both physically and emotionally and it was not working. Eventually, I was told it was time to try IVF and we did.

The day for the IVF preparation was here and I was ready. I went in for one last ultrasound  and an unfriendly nurse started shaking her head, clucking and frowning. “Bad news” she said:  “you started ovulating on your own, the IVF is canceled, get dressed.”

She stopped me in the reception area as I tried to leave. In front of other patients she said loudly “You have really old eggs, at your age they just shrivel up.”  I was 33, not very young but definitely not old. I was crushed and left the clinic weeping. It didn’t even occur to me how unprofessional and rude the nurse was, I was too upset and depressed. The next morning I was scheduled to have an IUI .” My husband sat with me and stroked my hair.  We both needed a break and decided to have a date thinking only about the two of us. We went out to a small Italian restaurant, came home and did what we had not done in a long time, we made love.

I was scheduled to go in for a blood test the next week and I didn’t even tell my husband.  After my blood test I got the usual “call us tomorrow for the results.” I knew that routine by heart but I felt calm, peaceful. Later that day, I got a call from a nice nurse who asked me how my day was going. I said “fine.” She said “well, I’m calling to tell you that your day is going to get a whole lot better! Congratulations, you’re pregnant!” I remember saying “no way.” She replied with “way” and had to convince me that it was  true. I shut the door to my office, sank down to my knees and wept with gratitude. Later, I opened the door and in a dream-like state walked out slowly, one hand already cradling my stomach.

After all we went through I didn’t want to tell my husband on the phone. I knew he was supposed to play racquetball after work, across the street from my office so I surprised him there. I asked our friend if I could borrow my husband for a few minutes and he smiled and left us alone. I leaned against my husband and whispered in his ear: “I love you very much and we’re going to have a baby, I’m pregnant.”  He stared at me blankly for a few seconds in shock. “I’m pregnant” I repeated and his warm brown eyes bulged out of his head. “Are you sure?” he asked softly and I said “yes” beaming.  He was so excited that he canceled the game  after ten minutes and arrived home shortly after I did. Apparently, my decrepit old eggs were still viable. We had a baby boy nine months later.

Addendum:

On our son’s first birthday I got out the number for the clinic. I tried to see the date of my last period but I had forgotten to keep track. I felt peaceful, calm and happy. “Oh my G-d” I whispered to my son, “I know this feeling.” I went out and bought a pregnancy test and it was positive. Our daughter arrived without any medical intervention, nine months later.  My eggs rocked.

http://www.resolve.org/infertility101  National Infertility Awareness Weekhttp://www.resolve.org/takecharge.*A wonderful organization to raise awareness for infertility with compassion.

Oprah, Please Reconsider, It’s Not TOO Late

According to Keirsey, Oprah Winfrey may be a T...

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Dear Oprah,

NOOOOO, DON’T GO!!! The countdown of shows is really affecting me. I’m an ultimate, ultimate viewer and I’m not asking for a ticket or a vacation to Australia or a car or even the 3-pack of beauty products you had on today’s show. Just one thing, don’t go. PLEASE don’t go. Change your mind. ( It is NOT a sign of weakness but of strength.) I’ve gone through every part of my life with you, you were the only one who had the grace of mind and spirit to say “Stay at home Moms have the toughest jobs.” Thank you for that. When people looked at us stay at home moms with real attitude, I didn’t argue, I knew what the right thing was for me and my family, and yes, you admired it. It made me feel validated, it made me feel like a beautiful queen. I have two amazing children that I love and that I like, they are my gifts to the world. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the world will be a better place because of them.

I was your viewing audience every day from home. I was happy to just watch your “Favorite Things” shows because I loved watching the audience members get so happy. I can’t imagine how you felt, that times a billion, I’m sure. I know you are not disappearing and I have watched OWN but it’s not the same. I taped your show every day for years and when the kids were young and finally in bed I would watch your show, relax, learn, be entertained and I would feel better.

So, my teacher and friend from afar, I am trying to say good-bye graciously because you always want what your friends truly want. But, I confess, there’s a 5 year old inside of me that has thrown herself on the floor, kicking and screaming with disappointment and sadness and stubborness.

I can’t wait to see the final show and at the same time I really don’t want to. I’m obsessing that if I am away for a few days my DVR won’t record and there are only so many times I can check.  I will cry, probably hysterically, but I am not ashamed of that. There really is no such thing as the “ugly cry.”  But, you know that. The last few weeks I have cried spontaneously as my son decided on the college of his choice and while I know he will be so happy, it will never be the same after this. Change. I’m not good with it, I admit it. I know I have no choice to accept change; I’ve learned that I need 24-48 hours to adjust, but it’s just not working with your show ending. I’m having a hard time accepting it (can you tell?)

Oprah, I was always the one in the viewing audience that was totally confused when you said “Do what you love to do.” I spent years figuring that out, until I went back in time and remembered my love for writing in High School. That was a really long time ago and I had NOT written much since 1978. I took a chance and started a blog and I was so afraid. I did it though, slowly and while it isn’t bringing in the money (yet?) I am doing something I love. Because of you. You were a comfort to my heart, you were the teacher of my soul.

Goodbye Oprah. G-d bless you for all the things you have given us.  I don’t need to wait till the last show, I’m doing the “ugly cry” now, and that’s okay.

I will miss you dearly.

Love,

Your biggest fan

Hibernationnow

https://hibernationnow.wordpress.com

Being A Mom With A Chronic Illness (ChronicBabe carnival)

Mother and Baby

Image by Praziquantel via Flickr

My goal in life, since I was five years old, was to become a mom.  I thought getting pregnant would be natural and beautiful but it seemed we needed a little help. After two and a half years of painful shots, medication and an every day visit to the infertility clinic  for blood work and ultra-sounds I finally was pregnant. I collapsed to my knees behind the closed-door in my stuffy office and kissed the dirty gray carpet in gratitude. I cried with happiness, one hand already covering my tiny belly.

My son was born and we called him Buddha baby, he never cried, he was always happy, a smiling, compassionate and outgoing kid.  He was my miracle baby, my first born. I went to every baseball game for my son, sitting in the bleachers in the rain, and sneaking away to the car to warm myself up.

My daughter came, naturally, twenty-one months after her brother was born, screaming on top of her lungs as she entered the world. I remember going into her room and lifting this red-faced baby girl to my shoulders, she would take a deep breath and her whole body relaxed into my neck.  I was her only source of comfort when she was a baby. I was there for every ballet lesson and dance recital, holding a bouquet of daisies, her favorite flower, in my arms like I was nestling a newborn baby‘s head.

I did everything for my kids and I loved doing it. This was the career I decided on and I wanted nothing more. I stayed home with them even when they got older because I knew they needed me during the tough middle school years. They would never admit it but they were happy to see me when they got home. Working moms called me “old-fashioned” but I didn’t care.

When I was 50, I went through menopause and my body fell apart. I was diagnosed first with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an auto- immune disease. When Synthroid, did not help me at all, I warily shuffled from one doctor to another, every bone and muscle and joint in my body screaming with agony.  My internist had given up on me, she stormed out of the room while I was laying there on the exam table crying in pain.  After visits to many different doctors I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I felt like I had the flu, every single day and night, with no fever, my personal definition of Fibromyalgia.

My life changed after that. I became the mom “before” I was sick and the mom “after.” I felt that I was no longer the mom you could always count on. I prefaced everything by saying “If I feel okay that day,” and “I’ll call you the morning of…”  Luckily my children were fourteen and twelve but it was now Dad who got up, made breakfast and lunches and dinner. Me? I was asleep, always asleep and in pain.

I felt lost and sad for years, not being able, physically, to be the mom I once was. Now, I am dropped off at an entrance to anywhere we go  like the handicapped patient I am. I sit alone, on a chair, when all the other parents and children go on a campus tour to see the entire campus. I cannot walk that far. I don’t want to be an embarrassment to my children or a burden for my husband.  I want the kids to remember the mom I was before I was sick but I know they don’t. They probably just remember me as I am today. I am not the mom I was before my illness even though my heart remains unchanged. I am the mom that they have now and because of that I have tremendous guilt and a lot of residual, emotional pain.

please, let me fall back asleep

Insomnia...

i fall asleep so easily it’s like i have an instant iv drip attached to my hand, it’s a relief for my aching bones and over-active mind. i snuggle into my favorite position, two pillows beneath my head; my brown hair pulled back in a ponytail with a thin black elastic band. i’m wearing only a soft, red, popeye cotton tee shirt. i dream about swimming and floats and old friends and the artist known as prince and friendly unknown neighbors wearing j.crew sweater sets. in my dreams my son is three again, i don’t need freud to figure that one out. he’s college bound and i am feeling nostalgic, oprah is leaving me too.

i wake up automatically at 4am and at the same time every night for the last few weeks. i desperately want to go back to sleep and i try but it’s of no use. i play every game, try every trick and nothing works. i give up and drag my computer to the tiny extra bedroom/office to see if there is someone awake on the other end of the screen. usually no one is. i know it takes time for me to fall asleep, usually between two and two and a half hours and there is not much i can do about it. i have been through this pattern before, i just want it to stop.

i’m so tired but my head and body are still awake and they won’t give up the fight no matter how hard i try. i try not to try and that doesn’t work either. i notice things in the room that i haven’t noticed before, forgotten dusty books, a paperweight with dainty blue flowers. my dog has followed me in the room, she is so used to coming downstairs with me at around ten for a snack that she is confused.  i sit cross-legged on the bed, surrounded by clean laundry, my eyes wandering to my angel statue, my daughter’s first ballerina shoe that i framed, boxes of writing since high school, a mini twa jet i keep in honor of my father. my whole life is in this room and around it.

i want to be back lying in bed beneath my royal blue quilt, and a an old comforter in a cherry covered duvet. i love any pattern of cherries, they make me happy. i want to sleep but i know i can’t, my head is like a ticking clock. my teeth and jaw ache, it’s probably tmj, i think clinically. i remember i never called my friend back yesterday and i don’t like being rude but it will have to wait until tomorrow. sorry, but of all people i know she will understand. she suffers from fibromyalgia and chronic pain issues too. apparently sleep problems are common among us in the tribe.

finally at around 6:30 i start yawning and crawl back in bed keeping my eyes averted from the clock on my bedside table. i have stayed up long enough that i think it will be ok, my eyes close, again. all the colors become white, the fresh air coming from the window is softly soothing. i beg the birds not to come out and sing for just a little while.

Which Would I Give Up? Easter or Halloween Candy?

marshmallow-y rainbow-y, uh, goodness

Image by McBeth via Flickr

Be serious. There is no way I would give up either one, ever. How could one give up Halloween candy, with those miniature size chocolates that we know DON’T count for calories or carbs. They are fun-sized. The choice too, is endless: Whoppers, and 3 Musketeers and candy corn, and Hershey’s nuggets, not to mention Kit Kat bar, Almond Joy, Mounds or Twizzlers. No, these are not going anywhere. Easter candy? You don’t seem to understand that I wait for those Cadbury creme eggs all year-long. I wouldn’t be happy without those yellow peeps either. While I know now that they sell peeps all year round for every different occasion in every color…that doesn’t make me any happier. It’s the thrill of getting them once a year, the fight to find them that made them so very special. Every year, and I admit, I am 54, my mom still gives me 2 Cadbury creme eggs and a box of peeps. I buy them for my own two children. I have introduced people to peeps who (gasp) didn’t know what they were, I have written about Peeps and Cadbury creme eggs. I’m sorry, I can’t play this Plinky game, Easter and Halloween candy are here to stay. If you’re talking giving up spinach or cauliflower, that game I could play. Spinach, out.

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The Celebrity Apprentice

aboard the Kandy Kruise 09/14/2007

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I haven’t watched The Apprentice in a couple of years. For some reason, this year I stumbled on The Celebrity Apprentice but realized that I missed the first show. I don’t know why I love The Celebrity Apprentice, but I do; I find it hilarious and fascinating. The next day I watched it on Hulu (Thank you Hulu) and I was delighted to be able to watch the first episode. It’s my guilty pleasure. I’m not sure why I am so tickled about the show but I will say this: THE CELEBRITIES!  They make me laugh and groan and truly get the audience involved. Good hiring, Mr. Trump! Here are just some of the celebrities that were on the show: Goodbye Diane Warwick (serious attitude), Hello Neenie (serious spunk). LaToya Jackson (really, not sure what to say or maybe I just can’t hear her) Star Jones (Really wouldn’t want to be on HER bad side, she scares me.) This season you have to admit the cast ENGAGES you.

I might have rewatch the Gary Bussey and Meatloaf episodes again. Just seeing Meatloaf in the boardroom trying to hold himself together without completely losing it should win him an Academy Award or any type of award. Gary Bussey? (HA HA HA HA) The man might be a genius(?) but I’m sorry to say I really don’t think he has all his coffee cups in the cupboardt. I’m not judging, I’m just saying. It did, however, make for excellent television viewing.  What will I do now that he has been fired? I will still watch but I guess I will have to focus more of my attention on  Star Jones and Neenie confrontations. Don’t you think? There’s the pretty Playmate of the year ( I think), a country singer named John (Rich?) a rap star named Lil John and maybe a couple of more people, not really sure.

I love Donald Trump (this does not mean an endorsement for President however) and the way Ivanka and Don Jr. play this game. I feel that Eric is not as comfortable as his siblings. How perfect and beautiful is Ivanka anyway? I don’t care what she says which is not much but often on target she is just pretty to watch. Don Jr. makes me laugh because you kind of get a sense that he is having a little fun with all this and doesn’t take it quite so seriously.

There’s just one question that I have for the show. If people are debating about lying and who said what, why can’t they go back to the tape and say “Gee Gary, it did look like you were strong arming the head of the company and offering them your services as a spokesperson?”  Wouldn’t that make more sense? Is it just to see how people view their own actions and how their memories are so different? Couldn’t you see The Donald pausing and going: “let’s go to the tape now” pointer in hand?

When our kids were little The Apprentice was a show we all watched together. We were glued to the tv set for every episode. Now, it’s my dirty little secret. Last week, the Meatloaf/Bussey debacle was on and I was laughing out loud. I thought I was alone until my sixteen year old daughter walked in the room while I was watching, turned to look at me, rolled her eyes as only 16 year olds can do and said, with contempt:  “I’m judging you.” Go ahead, sweetheart, judge away. I wouldn’t have missed Meatloaf and Gary Bussey for the world. I just hope The Celebrity Apprentice will hold my attention until the end. Oh, who am I kidding, of course it will. Thanks, Donald, for a great season, and if you run for President, may I suggest Gary Bussey as your VP?

How I Stay Healthy??????

Considered a father of Western medicine, Hippo...

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Give Us A Break……

There’s a fundamental mistake here: you are assuming I am healthy and I’m not. Along with thousands upon thousands of other patients I have a chronic pain disease and an auto-immune disease (not to mention others: IBS, narrow angled glaucoma, interstitial cystitis, painful and swollen joints, flare ups and….oh, is that too much? Because I could continue and I could also go blind instantly but that’s another post altogether.

First off, I am really not complaining just commenting and venting. “It is what it is” and it could be a lot worse: pain is not life threatening so I am grateful for that. TRULY. However, Fibromyalgia and other chronic pain disorders ARE extremely painful (and no it is NOT in our minds.) That is totally insulting. Also, there is little to relieve the pain, at best, and certainly no cure. Live with it? Not comforting. If this affected more men than women you bet there would be more research and no tiptoeing around about pain medication. The latest information frenzy that has all chronic pain patients up in arms (and my mother who saw a show on TV!) is that doctors and the media now are becoming increasingly hysterical about dispensing pain medication to THOSE OF US WHO ARE IN PAIN.

To me, it’s idiotic. I have a Doctor who writes prescriptions for Vicodin like they are gummy bears, lots of gummy bears, but when I tell him I have taken one and it doesn’t seem to help the pain, he insists it’s the only pain reliever he can dispense. Does that make any sense to you? Because, Vicodin itself is highly addictive and he writes prescriptions for them all the time YET he won’t write a prescription for half the amount for something different, like, I don’t know, Tylenol with Codeine? What am I missing here? A different class of pain killers? I am not swallowing pain killers for a high, I have tried Vicodin (one pill) on two separate occasions when I was in dire pain. It. Did. Not. Work.

I’m beginning to feel like the chronic pain community should an old-fashioned revolution. All the patients talk about it but I don’t think all of us have spoken directly to the doctors about it. I have but it does no good. Do you know why other patients are reluctant to be honest and I don’t blame them? Because we have to deal with the raised eyebrow, and the ‘are you a junkie quizzical smirk.’ I want to find a Doctor that HAS Fibromyalgia and see what they say!!

Do you think if we have addictive personalities we will misuse codeine and not Vicodin? I KNOW I don’t have an addictive personality, believe me I would have had plenty of opportunities to have one but it’s just not something I would do, want to do or will ever do. Shouldn’t doctors be able to differentiate patients from junkies?

Think about the Hippocratic (Hypocritical?) Oath that says: “First, Do No Harm.” You are causing harm refusing to treat illnesses that are incredibly painful. How about a different warning label? USE ONLY WHEN IN DIRE PAIN. That works! I don’t know anyone personally who would abuse it but I am sure there is a percentage of people who would abuse anything. Don’t punish us, for them. I certainly wouldn’t want to take anything every day if I didn’t need it. My doctor had me on two different medications to prevent pain that didn’t work and I ASKED if I could stop them, he hesitated and I then convinced him and stopped. I WANTED to use as little medication as possible. Frustrating.

In terms of exercise I walk slowly to try to get exercise and if I had the extra thousands of dollars I would probably buy a membership for a gym that has an indoor pool so I could swim but that’s money a lot of us don’t have lying around. My special diet? I usually eat healthy meals, chicken,veggies, salad, pasta, red meat a couple of times every month or two. However, my special chronic pain diet, for comfort since there is no pain relief usually involves Cadbury Creme Eggs, Yodels and Egg Salad Sandwiches. Sometimes comfort, even though it is not a pain reliever, might just make you feel a little bit better emotionally since no one is trying to help us physically.

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Recent Adventures in Splurging

Logo of Kohl's Department Stores for use as il...

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Sale: Today, Tomorrow, And Every Day Thereafter

I’m not a big shopper, never was. I’ve always hated trying on clothes even when I was a child. Nothing has changed. It was pure and true love that made me take my daughter to any mall when she was younger because she is a fabulous shopper and adores being in malls. Luckily, she can drive now. The last time I shopped, other than groceries (which I actually love shopping for) I was at Kohl’s. I bought a cheap pair of sneakers, two cards and a dark blue tank top for my daughter. I went because they were having a sale (wait a day, they will have another one) and I had two coupons, ten dollars off each. Was it fun? Not really? Did I have to stand in line? Groan, yes. Did I make it out of there in less than an hour? Sure thing. Will I do it again soon? Probably not. I’m sorry, I’ve never liked shopping (except for books and food) I don’t think I am ever going to start loving it anytime soon.

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