So Now I’m A Friggin Grandma?

Grandma

Image by GreenLight Designs (jwgreen) via Flickr

I just read an article about “Rent -A-Grandma” which provides women, OVER 50, did you hear me correctly….50 to join the work force. “Grandmas” can pet sit, baby sit, do errands, they are reliable,  have experience (sic OLD) and don’t have to worry about age discrimination anymore. They can do elder care if needed although that’s really Grandma-Helping-Grandma so I’m not sure if that particular service has been thought out completely. I thought this was a joke too but people, listen to me, it really does exist.

Part of me wants to join and be able to make money, the other part of me is disgusted and refuses to believe that over 50 could even be considered a Grandma.  I know I got married relatively late at 31 and had children three years later but still, my son is just graduating from High School and my daughter will be a Senior next year. Grandma, me? Really?

There is something offensive about this although I am not exactly sure what it is except for the fact that some company is saying that the age 50 and over signifies old grandmas. What do they call their workers over 55? Octogenerians? Listen, you can reference check me all you want. I have been a professional, I have worked in corporations and in colleges, I am a daughter, a wife, a mother and a reliable and good friend. But a Grandma? Not yet, but maybe I will give it a try before I am withered up, unable to move, locked in a wheel-chair and wetting my pants. Couldn’t they have called it something else? Is this supposed to be a successful marketing technique?

When I first glanced at the ad I thought it was for people who wanted an elderly woman to bake them cookies, to come over and chat, give them much-needed warmth and support. They could also help with the children while dispensing wisdom to us parents. I think to be qualified as a Grandma you need certain skills, baking and cooking for one. Each Grandma, if it was up to me, would smell like the essence of real vanilla, tote Hershey Kiss Surprise cookies ( thank you, Omi) and be able to dispense knowledge and real life stories of success.

Hey, I don’t want any old Grandma. I don’t want to BE any old Grandma either. Women of our distinguished age with maturity, charm and self-respect need well-mannered clients. We will be all the things you want us to be. We will pretend that we do not know how to text and tweet ( I really do not have an idea of how that works anyway) but if you don’t want us to have a cell phone, forget about it, it’s gone.  For money and job stability, our aprons will be wrapped around our necks. We may even consider doing windows but it will cost you. Rent-A-Grandma, there’s a franchise coming to you, because “there’s nothing like experience.”

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Laurie’s Down on her Luck aka Hibernation

Day one of my blog. I’m a 53 year old married woman and mom, I have two teenagers in High School and an almost 8 year old dog, named Callie. Yesterday, which should be the beginning of my woeful journey actually is not. Yesterday was just another installment of Laurie’s Down on her Luck. That started a long time ago. Probably since the age of 50 when menopause struck. Yes, Struck. It didn’t start or end, it interrupted the life as I had known it. Hot flashes, hysteria, sweats, irritability, tears? NO problem. Thanks to the almighty Prozac which I have been on for 5 years for serious worrying problems. Is it safe to call it the OCD of worrying? That was me. Prozac helped me with a quite easy journey into menopause and out. I had no complaints. I also had no clue what would start after that.

A seemingly easy menopause, not care free but not suffering like many of my friends. However, it attacked my body ferociously, like the way I attack Funfetti cupcakes with vanilla frosting. You understand.

Men-o-pause (and who came up with THAT name) kick-started a revolution on my body or perhaps more accurately To my body that is still not well. I write to you after a year and a half (and still going) with various illnesses, ailments and psychological trauma.

I was a fairly common place looking female, curly brown hair, funky pink glasses, green eyes ( my best feature). 5’4 inches, still looked good in a pair of jeans, v-neck long cotton Tee and reliable sneakers or clogs (if I wanted to dress up.) Not a hippie but certainly no fashion plate either.
My family and I live in this tony little town up on a hill where we half belong and half don’t. I am not a super mom, I don’t have a nanny, I stayed home with my kids, we lived on one salary, and had a tiny house in a sweet section of our neighborhood. The children played in the streets together, bicycles (with helmets), scooters, Razors (who didn’t buy their kid a stupid Razor?). Mayberry RFD meets The Cleavers. You get it.

When mansion moms came to visit they always described our house as “cozy”, “sweet” and “so great that you have neighbors right next to you on both sides!!!!” All of us in the neighborhood knew we were in the poor section of town but we didn’t really care. Much.
My son was in second grade when he brought home a “friend” from school. My son had just gotten new, Ikea blue furniture and he was thrilled. His so called bastard “friend” had taken one look at my son’s modest room and said to him: “wow, I knew your house was gonna be bad but I didn’t imagine anything THIS bad.” My son’s upset face lingers in my mind, yes, I do hold a grudge and I will forever hate this boy.
I truly do still hate this brat and I regret not calling his mother, but rumor had it she was a major bitch, one that I didn’t want to tangle with. I shouldn’t have listened.I should have called, my mistake entirely. That was then. This is now. I still hate him and i hate her and any living relatives that they may have.

I digress.

After going through menopause and yes, I did buy Christiane Northrups The Meaning of Menopause (what meaning?) it did very little for me and for my sister. We referred to the book as “The Bible” sharing it amongst the two of us (I paid)

The illnesses that followed:

During a routine check-up my internist (The Ice Princess) found that my thyroid level was underactive. YAHOO, I screamed, FABULOUS, I chortled. I finally inherited the thyroid disease that both my sister and mom had. I had been hoping for this for years. Does the term “be careful what you wish for” sound familiar? I had imagined myself eating DD jelly doughnuts (get that I have a sweet tooth?), mayo packed tuna (only white, never light) sandwiches with chips or fries on the side, sipping a vanilla-chocolate-strawberry (pick one or all) milkshake while shedding pounds. Never happened.

To make a long story short, my thyroid did not make me lose ANY weight but made me feel achy, tired, brain-fogged and wretched for months.
My “Ice Princess Dr.” left me weeping in the examining room while she brusquely left the room saying and I quote” There’s nothing left for me to do, nothing is wrong.” (I really DO NEED to find a new internist). She referred me to an angry looking Rheumatologist “in the group” who took one look at me and said “did anyone ever tell you, you had scoliosis? WHAT? It had been discovered that I didn’t have just any ordinary thyroid disease but one called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an auto- immune disease. The Rheumatologist, said I was fine, didn’t have arthritis and “oh by the way did you know that once you have an auto-immune disease you leave yourself WIDE open to getting other auto-immune illnesses? Gee thanks, troll, I hadn’t known that. Those were her loving farewell words. continue tomorrow!!!

Day 2 Halloween aka Boo (Hoo) Day
To wrap up the past, which is still by and large, the present, here’s what happens next: Ice Princess was revisited once or twice more, NOTHING “she can do…blah blah blah” eventually found a lovely Rheumatologist at another medical center. She was lovely and I referred to her always as “the lovely .Dr..Jane Doe”. She diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia (FIBRO what?) after pressing on all my pressure points and me screaming my head off. She said: ” i believe you have been misdiagnosed.” I am sure you have Fibromyalgia. YEAH, a diagnosis!!!! That was a great find, only bad part: NO CURE. “But we manage it” she said and I will make you much better. I believed, oh yes, I did believe.
And she did try, she added Cymbalta and this or that, we played chem warfare, her not wanting to call my shrink, my shrink, certainly, not wanting to stoop so low as to call Her. Great. For months I believed, but the pain, fatigue in all my muscles and joints, in every inch of my chubby body still HURT. I was a 95 year old living in practically a 95 year old’s body. I was weak, I was tired, I felt like I had the flu, every day, every hour…..this went on for months. Went back to Dr. Lovely and she said “this is all I can do, I can do nothing more.” Time to (as my first infertility Dr. called it,” to bring in the big guns.”

I had heard about Dr. GS from my sister, her friend Elizabeth and my sister’s husband’s friend too. To me, it sounded like he was the wizard of Oz. Really. I was actually intimidated to meet him and while his bedside manner was something to be desired (or I just didn’t like to hear the truth) he said that Fibromyalgia was a lazy diagnosis. (This being a little awkward since Dr. Lovely had trained under the new Dr. Guru.) His recommendation: treat the underlying disease which is the Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Treat the auto immune disease by taking: Plaquannel, Methotrexate (made me sick as a dog) eliminating some of my meds, adding even more. It was hard to know WHAT I was feeling anymore but he made me chart my course, every day..on a scale of 1-10, what was I? ! Being in “deep shit” as my dear friend and honorable aunt called it, 10 being: energetic tob e doing the macarena on a cruise ship for hours. OK, my metaphors but you get the drift. Ha Ha, the drift, get it, cruise, drift, oh never mind I love to amuse MYSELF with my own jokes, something my husband and my kids DO NOT APPRECIATE. I don’t care. If I think something is funny, I will howl and they will not extinguish what funny bone laughter I still have left in my body. Spirit was high around this time thinking that Dr. G was, indeed, a genius.However, I still hold against him that he sent a letter to the Ice Princess and every Dr. I had ever known referring to me as a 52 year old OVERWEIGHT female. OK, I know it was true but it sounded horrid. I mean really. My cholesterol was also sky high and he said no insurance company would ever cover me in this unhealthy state. Ouch. I had to have a heart check up (enter The Cardiologist) and started on a cholesterol lowering pill. Add ANOTHER Pill why don’t you? Been there, done that. Dr. Guru also suggested, several tlmes,) that I start on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) that , it just so happens, his “significant other” believed in it and was an expert on it and she was a gynecologist, specializing in It. I will not go, I will not see, I will not put all those chemicals ln me.” I chanted this every chance I could. After 3 more months of feeling crappy, I did go in, I did see her, I did, I did, but I will not let her talk me into it. “NOTHING SHORT OF A MIRACLE WILL GET ME TO TRY THIS” I BOASTED. But I went in anyway, asking G-d and my deceased father (who I miss so much) for guidance and insight. The HRT Dr. walked in, i sat in THE Defiant pose, ready to challenge every single thing she was going to suggest–I was prepared, in advance. Five minutes of formal talk, me on guard, giving her the evil stare, she stops for a minute. “Where did you grow up” she asked. I told her. Her face freezes over, (like it had been botoxed to look like a toaster but I knew it hadn’t, it was just SO SUDDEN……she leans back in her Dr. chair (btw, NOT a good idea to take your shoes off during a consultation when your patients can see your icky stockings) and said, “do you have an older sister? Huh? WHAT?? Now it was my turn to freeze and I said cautiously……”yes….why?” At which point she leans forward and her voice, which had been a monotone monologue turns into one of great childhood delight and absolute exuberant… “I’m Susie Shapiro (not her real name) and I grew up with you, I was great friends with your sister” and so she was. This was a teenager I remember being in our childhood apartment, this was someone I KNEW. My prayer, my only condition of considering HRT had been answered. Thank you Dad, Thank you G-d. Squirt me up!!! And it was then that I started HRT because I believe in things happening for a reason, that there are NO coincidences. I said nothing short of a miracle would get me to take HRT. Asked and answered. I began the next day.

November 1, 2009
IT’S MOMMY’S CHEESE SAUCE
My teenagers do not remember that I was the one who made their very own home-made (ok Kraft slices) cheese sauce. They called it Daddy’s cheese sauce the other day. He copied me. They think it was him and they don’t “remember” me making it. This is what I don’t want:
the kids to only remember me being sick, tired, broken bones, fibromyalgia, hashimotos….you get the drift. I made sure to tell them that I had created the delish dish but even my husband doesn’t remember MY invention. This stinks. To appease me, my husband said “ok, I’ll put on your gravestone “She created the cheese sauce.” I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. I am continuing to try and breathe deeply and have gone from hibernation in status to “getting centered.” For dinner I had brown rice, vegies and a hard boiled egg, usually served with Tamari sauce but we only had soy. I’m still on my back and go only to the bathroom. I know that this is the answer, that THIS, is what Oprah has been talking about. You get knocked on the head once, you should pay attention. I’ve been knocked down, run over, hemoraged and am in traction…..but I FINALLY know, I need to change my eating habits and other slovenly ways. Am only eating “clean foods” now and trying to drink water. I will never like that but at least I am doing it. “You are what you eat?” for once…good. Haven’t looked at the Halloween candy,
although my daughter put my very favorite (yum, Whoppers)in my bed stand table. I plan to throw it away, on the other hand, I could leave it awhile and see what happens.

I can’t DO moderation,(yeah, yeah Bob Green, I know, I know) I’m an all or nothing kind of gal. Oh, and what’s up with the “Good Life” products? I’ve been buying them faithfully and all of a sudden I hear that they are NOT all that healthy? HOW ARE WE, THE PEOPLE, SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE IN ANYTHING OR KNOW WHAT TO BELIEVE IN? I rest my case –I really would have been a great lawyer.

So, back to me trying to be Zen-like or just a little not me-like:
Still not talking on the phone which is surprisingly calm and lovely. Mom came to visit today and my sister is coming on Wednesday, that’s it for visitors. Waited till at night to write in this, but at least I did do it.
Haven’t taken any daily medications for today but it’s ok, I can miss a day. My stomach feels a little funny, don’t know if it’s just rocking and rolling from the excitement of healthy food or if it’s begging me for a PB & J sandwich with a glass of milk. Not yet. I hobbled to the shower this morning and it felt good to stand (?) under the hot water. Can’t exercise but can’t say I am not thrilled with that. Being able to WALK without pain will be my goal. To sleep a good night’s sleep (I hate these extra hour/fewer hour days) never could quite get the concept of “losing or gaining” an hour. But that’s just me. Anyone else unclear on the concept? Don’t be ashamed we should stand together with great pride!

November 2, 2009
Torn, (ligament) bruised. Broken (spirit) maybe I’ve turned a corner, or at least turned to the side. Centering Myself. Getting rid of the old
the past, the bad, unhealthy habits, food, no exercise, too much worry. Replace Fear with Faith. (thanks R.C.) A new beginning?
I love not talking on the phone or emailing just to email. Still love tv and movies, not gonna lie. Food is no longer the main focus of my world. I do
believe that G-D has been telling me all these thighs(HA Freudian slip) things for almost 2 years. I’m starting to get it. Only starting but it’s better than nothing. I’m even going to ask my husband for help with this computer stuff. I HATE asking for help, getting embarrassed and feeling foolish but I have to do it. I’m taking a small leap (ok, pinkie toe step–pinkie toe, the only didget that is still normal, and putting myself out there. I feel nauseous. I decide not to care. Gulp. Over to my husband…..