Am I Just Too Old?

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I miss the old days. Before computers and messages and Facebook. When people called each other on the telephone, you know the ones that hung from the wall in putrid yellow and green with curly, tangled cords. They conveyed news, good and bad. You were able to preface things with either hesitation if it was bad news or words that conveyed your discomfort. Good news was easy, people could tell by the lilt of your excited voice. It doesn’t happen that way anymore. I found out about a friend’s death on Facebook. FACEBOOK. It’s true, and it says a lot about society at least to old-fashioned me.

I’m not saying we were best friends and that we had lunch together every week but in the old days when I grew up there was a phone chain. At least you could get a phone call from someone who knew someone and there was that one moment of preparation when an unfamiliar voice would ask to speak to you somewhat hesitantly……You got the needling sensation in your stomach that something was just not right and even though you can never really be prepared, at least you had a gut feeling.

I got the message, as others did, in black and white print, in the form of a lovely, well-written memorial (Thank you, Roland in no way is this a criticism of YOU.)  Couldn’t someone have sent a mailing at least to soften the blow? I guess not, that’s not the way society works these day. I should catch up with the future, I’m just not sure if I can.

I’m still in shock. Truly, I can’t grasp that my friend is dead, maybe because I only had a hint that she was sick. I knew she was in pain once when I saw her but I didn’t know from what; everyone has a bad day now and then. Although I sensed something was wrong when she snapped at me once; that was so not like her at all.  It was pure intuition that made me feel something was  off, nothing else.

Reading her eulogy in print has not given me time to acclimate to the news. Her own Facebook page is still up, with her own heavenly smile lighting up her page.  I’m not sure how to deal with this, there is nothing I can do except get used to the idea she is gone. Having no information makes it worse.

I’ve said good-bye to Helen in my heart and I know that’s all I can do. But finding out about someone’s death on Facebook? That’s got to be a new low. At least for me.

Early Bird or Night Owl

Old?

Elderly Couple – Vintage

Early bird or night owl? Are these the only options? I’m neither. Oh dear, I think I am old. With one child in college and another child a senior in high school, I am able to sleep later in the mornings. Do I stay up late and party? I hate to confess, the answer is no. Maybe, instead of just old I’m also dull. Great…. I used to want to go to sleep before my husband or after for peace and quiet and lately, I love having him near me as we both fall asleep together. He was away for four weeks so maybe I’m just appreciating him more now.

I’m boring too. Gasp! It’s true. I never was a drinker, was always more of a homebody, even as a teenager, so I guess I’m still the same. I write, I read, I am now addicted to Pinterest (which I can’t pronounce.) I used to be much more independent when I was single and lived alone, before I got married. I stayed out late with friends, we went to dinner after work, to the Village, to the movies. We were out late and up late fearlessly taking the subways at all times of the night. Sometimes when I came home late, I then rearranged the furniture in my studio apartment or cleaned until 3am with my music blaring and me dancing like the Jennifer Beals in Flashdance (a movie from the seventies.) When you are YOUNG and living by yourself, it’s “fun.” You would have to have me lifted by a crane to do ANY cleaning at any time except during my normal waking hours. I’m neither an early bird or a night owl. What does that make me? I’m 55 years old and yes, I do have a few chronic illnesses that make me more tired but they are not life-threatening. I’m going to give myself a break (for once) and just say “I’m normal.”

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Independence (PFAM Blog Carnival)I

Fireworks #1

Image by Camera Slayer via Flickr

I don’t remember what complete “independence” is anymore. I used to know how it felt, before my illness. I remember quickly dashing through crowded city streets, staying out late, going to the Village after a movie before I headed home via taxi to cross the Brooklyn Bridge. I was young, admittedly, but there was little fear and so much to do.

FIbromyalglia and Chronic Pain took away my spontaneity and instant fun and robbed me of joy. While I can still do many things, I need to wait until the same day to see how I feel. That hurts, not only physically, but emotionally. I can drive my car, if I have enough energy. I can go shopping for food, when I feel I am up to it. Last week my husband and I went to the first movie we have seen outside our home in years. I felt free, we had a bite to eat, and we went to see the new Woody Allen movie and I was happy. It was one day, one joyful day out of many.

I plan on going to my son’s college orientation this summer; I do not want him to be the only student without a parent there but still I worry. How much will I be able to do? Can I get a taxi from the hotel to the campus? Will I be able to walk a few blocks? I know there’s a tour but I will have to sit it out. I am the sick mom.  I will smile sweetly and tell my son to report back every single detail while I sit on some bench, shaking my head back and forth, holding back the tears.

I am not that old but I feel old. Even the new medication I was on to give me energy has failed me. I was happy for a few weeks and I told my chronic pain friends that “Yes, There Was Hope for Fibromyalgia” and now I don’t know anymore. I feel bad for the people who thought I had found relief; I feel more sorry for myself wondering what happened and why this medication failed me, like so many others.

I rely on my husband, I am dependent on him; he knows the look in my eyes when I feel tired and depleted and when I hurt. He supports me, takes my arm. Part of me wants to pull away and say “I’m not a grandmother” yet part of me holds on and appreciates his love and help. My teenagers’ friends have seen me more in my pajamas than not. They have seen me lying in bed, with a book or the computer and even though I shout out a happy and cheerful “hello” I am embarrassed and I feel like I have let my children down.

Thankfully, my mind is still independent, I can think and emote and write and my imagination is not limited by my body. At the same time, I weigh myself down because the joy of spontaneity is lost forever. If I make a plan, even at the last-minute, I always have to think steps ahead, the amount of walking, sitting, standing, driving. If I decide I will push myself to go to the city and do something fun, I worry about if I will find a taxi because my ability to walk is limited. It usually keeps me home.

Independence Day is tomorrow, I would love to see fireworks, they make me so happy. I love the excitement and the blasts of color  and the screaming and the thrill. But, I won’t be going, because there are too many variables that stand in my way. So, on Independence Day, I will not be celebrating with throngs of other people. I  know that I can’t walk miles to see the show, I know that if I had to go to the bathroom there are none in suitable walking distance,  I cannot sit on the hard grass for the hours it takes  for the show and I will miss that dearly. On Independence Day, and many other days, I am dependent.

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.

Find Me A Crocus

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.

” Hello, my name is Laurie and I am a……”

Technophobe.  Idiot.  Computer moron. Welcome to this club where computer illiterates will feel right at home. We welcome you. We don’t make fun of you if you don’t know that the Apple sign on the Mac looks like two squiggles. We understand. Everyone told me “Get a Mac, they are so EASY, you don’t have to do ANYTHING!”  Are you kidding me? I have a Mac, I think it’s complicated and I didn’t grow up (like my children did) learning about computers since first grade. Macs are not easy for me, no computer is easy for me and as much as I appreciate e-mail (although somehow it got interchangeable with the stamp icon and I am totally confused)  and a few other things like IM, I am not comfortable on the Mac. Don’t feel singled out, I am not comfortable on any computer, but your commercials were so cool!!

My husband works in the computer field, my daughter and son know all about computers and there are 4 Macs in this household. I use the Mac mainly for this writing blog and e-mail but I don’t know how to upload or download pictures. And for all my friends who say “send me a new photo” basically, I can’t. My son, 17, who gets frustrated the first 9 times he shows me, gives up after that. My daughter says “I already showed you.”  My husband who has sat with me numerous times AND I have taken notes during the lecture, ok tutorial, I still can’t follow what I have written down and so I can’t do it by myself.

I’m hopeless. Generally speaking, I either BEG for someone to do it for me (and yes, I do pay attention) or threaten to call one of the companies for impaired people like me. I don’t know why people can’t be sympathetic with this type of impairment. I think we should be covered under the ADA.  So, Dear Mr. Jobs, admittedly you are a complete genius, and pretty much everyone that works for you is probably very intelligent too. Of course, they probably could be my sons and daughters, if not grandchildren. But, what about us “old” folks? How about a computer for real dummies not just a book which we don’t understand either.

Mr. Jobs, I respect you and admire you but to tell you the truth I admire you and your wife for your incredible generosity to charity and funding for various institutions more than I do this incredible computer company.  You make a fine machine, Mr. Jobs, but you and your wife are finer human beings just being in this world and giving of yourselves. That, to me, is a club I would be honored to join.

p.s. I AM SO SORRY but  I was just told that I mixed you up with Bill and Melinda Gates but I am sure you do good stuff too. And, somehow I pushed a button which made this whole blog disappear except for the first 3 words and it took my daughter AND my husband to find it again. Sorry again about the mix-up, maybe YOU can forward it to the Gates’ ? If I do you know I will lose it again…