The Therapy Journals of the Fat-Headed Klingon Woman

One woman's journey to becoming Her True Self

Tomorrow Is the Anniversary of A Sad Story November 14, 2014

Filed under: Bad Luck,In Memoriam — DDKlingonGirl @ 10:47 am
Tags: , , ,

TRIGGER WARNING:  Pregnancy, pregnancy loss, pregnancy trauma

Hello all.  Just a little while ago, I stumbled across a Facebook page called WTH- What The HELLP?  It is devoted to a disease of pregnancy called HELLP syndrome that often occurs concurrently with pre-eclampsia.  There were many stories there on that page of women who had suffered from this syndrome in their pregnancies, and there was a place to submit your own story.  Well, as most people close to me know, I experienced this.  I had pre-eclampsia and HELLP with my first pregnancy in 1992.  It was a pretty traumatic event, and I am not sure I ever realized at the time how seriously ill I was.  Here is my story, mostly as I shared it with WTH:

*

I was 20 years old and pregnant with my first child.  I was in nursing school full time and driving to campus and back, a 40 minute one-way drive every day.  I wasn’t married at the time, and although my fiancé was there, I was dealing with the stress related to being unmarried and pregnant, due to church things. (Believe it or not, our church building had actually caught on fire and burned, and as unreasonable as it sounds now, I was terribly upset because I thought the whole congregation was being punished because of me.)

*

I was approximately 23 or 24 weeks, and went in for a regular appointment with my doctor.  I knew I was extremely puffy and just generally felt unwell.  The night before, after church, I had sat out in the car and cried from sheer exhaustion and wished that I could be admitted to the hospital so I could rest.  At my appointment, I had all the markers.  My blood pressure was high and my urine showed significant protein.  They told me to go straight to the hospital, which was right across the street, because I needed to be admitted.

*

It was Monday night, Nov. 9.  I was admitted to the hospital and they continued trying to treat and monitor me.  I don’t think they started any IVs when I first got there.  I lay there in our small local hospital for a couple of days and started having upper gastric pain.  They kept asking me if it was gas.  Finally, I guess my local doctors decided they didn’t know what was going on with me, (or maybe they knew all along, but thought they could handle it) and they called a specialist in a larger teaching hospital about 100 miles away.  The specialist said, in effect, “Put her on an ambulance and get her up here, NOW.”  They started an IV of magnesium sulfate and sent me from Ardmore to Oklahoma City in an ambulance, and that was the first time I ever got any IVs. (It was also the occasion of several other firsts:  it was the first time I’d ridden in an ambulance, and I also got to experience the joy of trying to use a bedpan in a moving vehicle with a male attendant.  Just, you know, to throw some levity in there.  The mag sulfate IV induced a serious need to pee, and that was one of the few parts of this story that make me laugh a little.  The other part was that one of my anesthesiologists later strongly resembled Superman.)

*

I don’t know how high my blood pressure was at the time, but I’m thinking my bottom number was at least 100 or 115.  I know that my mother, who rode up there with me in the front seat of the ambulance, claims she is positive hers was higher.  (As a side note, many years later I would understand her claim when I too, rode in the front seat of an ambulance to Oklahoma City with my daughter in the back, but that’s a story for another day.)

*

They admitted me to OU Children’s Hospital, and continued treating and monitoring.  They couldn’t find any good veins for IVs because I was so terribly swollen.  They were searching in the tops of my feet, if that gives any idea.  Also they considered starting a line in my neck.  I was incredibly thankful they didn’t have to do that. But the guy who was doing the searching was the guy I mentioned a moment ago who looked like Superman.  That was the only good part.

*

All this time, to the best of my knowledge and recollection, the baby was fine.  She was not as big as she should have been, but I don’t think they thought she had any other serious health problems.  If they did, I don’t remember them telling me.  Unfortunately, the illness and the years have erased a lot of the details.  They began doing all the tests, and I still had sky-high blood pressure, still had protein, still had upper gastric pain, and now they also knew I had HELLP.  They did a scratch test to determine clotting time, and a scratch that should have clotted within a minute took 22.  C-section was ruled out, and delivery was a must.  They gave me medicines to start contractions, tried to start readying my body to do something it wasn’t supposed to do for another 3-4 months.

*

At one point, they were trying to dilate my cervix using something I remember them calling “mechanical dilators” which they said would be painful so they gave me morphine or something.  I remember waking up from my medicated haze, legs in the stirrups, lifting my head, and there at the foot of my bed was practically an entire medical school class, observing this procedure because I was, at that time, an incredibly rare case.  I just closed my eyes and dropped my head back to the pillow and tried not to care.

*

I wasn’t making progress, and they decided they needed to rupture my membrane.  They had put monitors on me and on the baby, and I didn’t know at the time what they knew, that once I had my membrane ruptured, the cord, which was ahead of the baby, would probably become compressed as the fluid rushed out, and as she moved down toward the birth canal, and she would probably die.  They came in and turned the volume down on the monitors, but I didn’t know that was why until later. They had asked me if I wanted to be enrolled in a study they were doing with the use of surfactant, a substance premature babies don’t have yet in their lungs that makes them expand.  I gave them permission to use the baby and give her this surfactant if she was born with any attempt at breathing.

*

My poor mother had finally left the hospital to go shower and rest, and they called her back because they were taking me to delivery.  I couldn’t push.  I didn’t know what I was doing, didn’t know what it was supposed to feel like, and I was sick and exhausted and scared.  The nurse helped push down on my stomach and all I remember was that my mom’s surgical suit was white and the rest of them were blue, and her green eyes stood out.  I thought she looked like an angel.

*

It was November 15, 1992.  Finally they managed to pull the baby out, and I remember the doctor putting her face right in front of mine and saying, “Baby has no heart rate, no breathing effort.”  Ok, then.

*

They delivered the placenta, which I remember hurt worse than the baby. (Because it was actually bigger.)  Katrina DeAnne (Katie) was 11 inches long and weighed 13 ounces.  She seemed to have suffered some significant trauma during birth because her head was misshapen and squishy.  I think they told me she had some water on the brain or something.  They fixed me up and wheeled me back to my room, and here I was, holding this oddly colored, deceased baby.  I felt embarrassed.  I felt that people were looking at her and seeing her as scary or disturbing.  I didn’t hold her as long as I later wished I had, because I thought people would think it was weird to spend time holding a dead baby.  I wish now I’d been a little more sensible about that.

*

I stayed in the hospital a few more days, and I don’t remember any of my numbers- my blood pressure or my platelets or how fast they returned to normal.  I just had to go on with my life.  I had to quit nursing school because they won’t let you make up clinicals and I had missed some.  I finished the semester of my regular non-nursing school class and life went on. Well, sort of.  We had to go through the funeral and everything.  Some people might not have bothered, but it never occurred to me not to.  There was a dear lady who went to our church who actually owned a monument business and she gave us Katie’s headstone as a gift.  My cousin Gene was asked on the fly to lead everyone in singing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ and he never faltered.  It was a cold, cloudy day.  That much I remember.

This was not her actual casket spray but it looked very similar to this.  The real one was destroyed in our house fire in February 2009.

This was not her actual casket spray but it looked very similar to this. The real one was destroyed in our house fire in February 2009.

*

I have since been pregnant twice.  The next time was with my twin girls, who were born healthy and perfect a year and two weeks to the day after I lost Katie.  Their baby brother was born in May of 2001, and he too was healthy and I had no serious problems with either pregnancy.  But my experience with Katie will always be in my mind.  Here is my one other post related to Katie, and how I spent what would have been her 18th birthday.

Thanks for reading!

Until next time,

D.

 

Family Traditions Series- Reunions!! August 6, 2014

Filed under: Family,In Memoriam — DDKlingonGirl @ 9:19 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,
My Roots- Kyle and Ethel Findley and their children, Harold, Howard, Margie, and Donna

My Roots- Kyle and Ethel Findley and their children, Harold, Howard, Margie, and Donna

Hello all!  So in my last Family Traditions series entry, I promised a post about all the crazy things my family gets up to in the month of May, and I will definitely deliver that.  But not now.  I’m too excited, and of course the title of this post will give you a clue as to why.  Oh, yes, Virginia, it is definitely that time again- our family reunion is this weekend.  This is an event not just limited to my crazy nuclear family  (my parents and siblings and myself).  Oh no.  This event draws in the whooooole crazy family- all the progeny of my great-grandfather Kyle Guy Findley.  Let me tell you about us.

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We have this family reunion, the Findley reunion, every two years.  It alternates years with an even more extended family reunion (the Hoffman reunion) we have that also occurs every two years, so that barring some weird complication or problem, there is some sort of reunion on this side of the family every single year.  The one I am going to be describing to you is the only one I have been able to go to since Daughter S. and Daughter J. were about 4 years old, which, sadly, was the last time I was able to make it to the Hoffman reunion.  Now, the Hoffman reunion has one advantage over the Findley reunion and that is that it’s always in the same place, Ulysses, Kansas, where I was born.  The Findley reunion has changed locations several times over the years.

*

As far as I can remember, the tradition of this reunion began the weekend of June 4, 1993.  I know this, because that was the date I chose to get married, so that all the family would definitely be able to be there.  Yeah, I’m sneaky and manipulative like that.  I hijacked the family reunion so everyone would be at my wedding.  Anyway.  The first several years, the reunion took place at the same location, one of the group campgrounds at our local lake.  Rustic cabins, no A/C, lots of trees and a big lake for boating, skiing, tubing, jet skis, and just general tomfoolery in a water setting.  I say this because my mom’s brothers have a notorious history of being wild and crazy when it comes to water sports.  They like to go fast and hit hard.  They’ve slowed down a little in the last 21 years, but I cannot count the number of pics we have of Uncle R., Uncle B., and Uncle D., life-jackets on, hair and mustaches dripping, clinging to a jet ski or a sailboard, big huge identical grins on their sunburnt faces.  That tradition has extended to their sons now, and we have just as many pictures of cousins in the same poses.

*

While the boys are out running wild like hooligans on the lake, the moms are usually staying behind, either in the camp kitchen, or at the water’s edge watching all the “little ‘uns” swimming and playing.  There is always a time when the guys put away all their fast toys and just take the girls on a leisurely evening boat ride around the lake, so it’s not like the moms never get to have fun.  Back in the day, my mother, I am proud to say, used to be able to water ski like crazy!  My dad would get her out there and hit the throttle and she could just pop up out of the water like a cork.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember the last time she tried, because we don’t go to the lake much anymore these days when it’s just us, but she always used to say she planned to water ski on her 100th birthday.  Dad used to say she “could water ski in a teacup!”  Rarely, we have bad things happen on the water.  One year, an uncle was pushed unexpectedly off the pontoon boat into the water, and his wedding ring got caught on the gate hinge, almost ripping his finger off.  They rushed him to the hospital and all was fine, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t like to remember that particular reunion.

*

Our family also has some much happier traditions, such as talent night; we’re a talented bunch, if I do say so myself.  Usually people either sing or do skits, which is always a hoot.  This year, I’m particularly excited because… da da!  We’re having karaoke Saturday night.  We’ve hired a local karaoke DJ to come out to the reunion and help us party for a couple of hours.  I am very familiar with this particular lady- we grew up and went to the same church together.  And boy! can she sing.  She is absolutely and utterly amazing.  (File that one under hashtag: sojealous!)  Anyway, she also provided the DJ service when I gave Daughter S. and Daughter J. a big, special party when they turned 18.  It was super awesome, but that’s another story.

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Once we had a family auction to try to raise funds for the next reunion.  People made arts and crafts, special food, anything they had that had a “market” value, so to speak, and we auctioned them.  My personal contribution to that effort was two copies of a collection of my poetry that I put together.  I think they made me stand up and read a couple of the poems, and then they auctioned them off.  I forget now who won them, but that was pretty cool.  It gave me a bit of a big head to know that my family members would pay money just to read my romanticized, dramatic drivel.   What can I say?  We’re a supportive bunch, and I love us.

*

In other years, the family reunion has taken place down near my grandpa’s house in the Hill Country area around San Antonio, Texas.  There are a number of nice lakes there, and my grandpa lives right on the Guadalupe river, so there are always a few that go floating every time we are there.  Our last reunion was a bit of a departure.  We met at Cuchara, Colorado.  It was beautiful there and so cool at night, but always, always too short.  One weekend is never long enough to enjoy with this family.

*

So THIS year, we’re at a church camp about 45 minutes from where we live, called Pettijohn Springs Christian Camp.  It will be a lot more comfortable than the lake camps, because (Hallelujah!) the cabins have air conditioning.  My cousin and I are the food committee (although my mother ALWAYS ends up doing more than her share of the research and planning) and therein lies another reason I am so excited:  she’ll be here tomorrow!  Yay!  I know we’re not supposed to have favorites, but she is one of my two favorite cousins, because the three of us are the closest in age.  From my birthday in early September to her birthday in mid-September, we are all three the same age.  Tomorrow when she gets here, we have to spend all day grocery shopping.  I’d like to say that sounds like a chore, but running all over town with this particular cousin, making big fools of ourselves in all the local grocery stores, laughing like hyenas when we remember all our favorite escapades, just sounds like a really good day.

*

So yeah, if you live around here, and tomorrow you see me and someone who kind of looks like me, staggering breathless with laughter through WalMart or Homeland or Aldi, with a cart piled high with groceries, now you know, it’s the Findley Family Reunion Food Committee, just doing their duty to our family to keep them from starving.  And having a darn good time while we’re at it! Ha!

*

The last, and most special tradition that you will always hear mentioned whenever we talk about our family and the essence of who we are, either together or apart, is our family church service.  On the last day of the reunions, Sunday, we always have a family worship time together.  I have said many times that I am so proud of the fact that I come from a family with a strong tradition of faith.  In past years, one of my mom’s cousins would get up and share a few scriptures and a few words with the family, then my wonderful, beautiful grandfather, the family patriarch, would get up and speak, talking about our family history and maybe sharing a story or two about his parents, and praising our family for its strength and love, but always giving the glory for that to God.  We would sing a few hymns, and be dismissed with a prayer.  This year, my father will be leading the singing, and we have practiced some of the songs we will be sharing.  In past years, my dear grandpa and his siblings would share their beautiful family harmony and sing an old hymn called “Out of the Ivory Palaces” but now he is the last of his family.  He told my mother he didn’t feel as comfortable now even to get up and speak at the worship service because he has become so forgetful it is hard for him to keep his thoughts organized.

*

Families stay the same, and families change.  Our reunions are so special because they allow us to spend just a few treasured moments together, to catch up on each others lives and see where we all are today, but more than that, they remind us where we came from, where our roots began.  We are reminded of the strength and determination of the pioneer fathers who came through the Civil Wars and the Dust Bowls, and the Depressions, whose simple lives and strong faith became our story.  We are reminded of them, and of the debt we owe them to live our lives in such a way that we carry on their legacy, that our children and grandchildren can look back on us and be proud that they are the continuation of a story worth telling.

*

Until next time,

D.

 

 

The Day I Stand Up. The Day I Begin to Speak March 20, 2014

In Memoriam: Jarrae Estepp

Hello all.  My last post was about bullying and how we as humans need to stop hating people who are different from ourselves, and more than that we need to learn to love ourselves and reach out to people.  Today’s post seems like it is probably connected to that in some basic way.  I stumbled across this article in the L.A. Times that just broke my heart for a number of reasons.  One, the girl featured was only 21 years old, less than a year older than my daughters.  Two, she was from my home state.  And three… dear God, after a life of violence and prostitution, this beautiful girl was found naked and dead on a trash conveyor belt!  How could anything be more heartbreaking than that?

*

I don’t even have words.  Everything in me is screaming:  STOP hurting women!  STOP selling ourselves!  STOP!  Just STOP!!!  I started to post this on my Facebook, but I decided I wanted it here instead.  What was this poor girl’s early life, that she ended up this way?  What is the root of this, and how can we rip it out of wherever it grows and obliterate it forever?!   I don’t even know where we could begin.  More love, more life, more words, more beauty, more peace, more kindness, compassion, strength, tenderness, care… more SOMETHING.  Something that touches people’s souls and teaches them that life has value and inflicting pain is wrong and USING people is just WRONG.

*

The knowledge of this girl’s life and how it ended has touched me in this moment.  I can’t say “I’ll never be the same” because odds are, I’ll forget her name and face in a few days, and whenever something makes me remember the story, I’ll think, “Oh, yeah, that was really, really sad.”  But maybe her story should serve as a catalyst for action, a jolt out of an existence characterized by apathy, an inspiration to stand up and shout against something.  I have noticed an unsettling tendency in myself, and that is… I don’t stand up lately.  I don’t support causes, and I don’t oppose causes.  I don’t say what I believe very often.  I don’t agree and I don’t disagree.  I smile and nod, or frown and shake my head, but I don’t use my voice.  I don’t engage and I don’t confront.  I don’t fight.  I think it’s time I started working toward moving in the opposite direction from that.   Some things are worth fighting for, just as some things are worth fighting against.   I have feet, and I need to start standing.  I have a voice and I need to start using it.   It’s past time to choose a side and speak.

*

Jarrae Nykkole Estepp can’t use her voice anymore.  What would she say if she could?  What could we say FOR her, to help make sure nobody else ends up like her?  I urge everyone who reads this to use your voice.  Speak up for something, speak up against something.  Use your voice and your hands and your feet and begin to fight for your beliefs.

*

Until next time,

May We All Stand UP.

D.

 

EDITED TO ADD:  Here is a website that lists activist websites for women’s issues:

http://userpages.umbc.edu/~korenman/wmst/links_actv.html

 

The Year Behind, The Year Ahead… December 31, 2013

Path

Path (Photo credit: Guerito)

Hello all!  I have neglected my beloved blog for a couple of months now, and I do apologize.  I plan to do better with that in the future.  More on that shortly.  So!  It’s New Year’s Eve.  The Big One.  The last hoorah, as it were.  People everywhere are posting their year in review, and I am a total bandwagon-hopper, so here’s mine.  Enjoy!

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For starters, in 2013, nobody died.  Not in my family, at least.  Last year my father lost his mother and his baby sister in the same damn year.  It was pretty bad.  Thankfully this year, we have not lost any close family members.

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My weight loss efforts, on the other hand, suffered an untimely demise.  Well, maybe not entirely.  I have sort of continued to half-heartedly fight the battle of the bulge, but overall this year, I am up by 10 pounds since this time last year.

*

Ah, the children.  Yes, of course.  From the beginning of this blog, my kiddos and their progress in life have been a continuing topic of discussion, and they are actually doing pretty well.  Daughter S. is taking college courses, and passing them, and although she is in a temporary lull with regard to having clarity on what she wants to do with her life and how she wants to do it, I think in general, she is in good shape.  Daughter J. is in a period of great growth and striving toward what she wants.  She has a job and a boyfriend and plans for her future.  Next on her list: she wants to learn to drive, and she wants to get married.  THAT particular goal of hers is going to require a lot of work and planning for her to be able to have independence, given her and her boyfriend’s developmental limitations.  Also a lot of therapy for ME, to be able to handle such an event.

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The Boy deserves his own paragraph.  After struggling his last few years in public school, we home-schooled last year, and this year we found him a small, private Christian school which uses a homeschool curriculum, and he seems to be growing and making progress and fitting in quite well.  He still has difficulties expressing himself appropriately when he gets really mad, (and he often gets mad for the most incomprehensible of reasons) but when it comes to the expression part, who doesn’t?!  Anyway.  His physical growth and changes in the past year are somewhat mind-blowing to me.  He has outgrown his sisters, his feet are bigger than mine, and I feel pretty certain by this time next year he will be taller than me as well.  NOT looking forward to that, I’ll just be honest.  He will be 13 in May.  For now I will just enjoy not having any teenagers in the house! (The girls turned 20 on November 29.)

*

And where do we even begin with my own personal progress in 2013?  It has been a year of stretching my horizons and trying new things.  I took a solo vacation for the first time in my life, and traveled to Charleston, SC to spend a weekend with a bunch of people I didn’t know, and it turned out AMAZING.  Even before that, though, I did the unthinkable.  I auditioned for community theater.  I got up on a stage and sang for a bunch of people I didn’t know, and just like the Charleston trip, it was an amazing thing for me.  I was cast in the Ardmore Little Theatre production of Les Miserables and made so many new friends.  It was literally a life-changing decision when I dug up from somewhere deep inside me the bravery to actually get up on that stage and try out

*

If you have been reading me throughout this entire community theater journey, you will know that I also developed a major crush on someone from the theater, which followed me from June through December.  Unfortunately, the person about whom I was obsessing did not think I was special in the same way that I thought he was special.  Right about the time I got clear on that, he decided that one of my best friends was special in that way instead.  And after watching me pine for this person for six months, his sudden attention to her made her decide she thought he was special in that way, too.  That is one of the reasons I haven’t written much here lately.  On a scale of 1 to 10, this infatuation was a 15, so it has taken me some time to begin to heal from all of that.  But I am, finally.  I have had no other choice but to forgive, and my friend and I are still friends.  Possibly better friends than before.  At least, I hope so.

*

Before all of this romantic drama happened, the theater journey continued with a leading role in a play that was making its world debut on our stage, which was something I NEVER thought I could do.  Wow.  I never thought I could act, and it turns out, I am not too bad at it.  It helps that the character I was playing was very close to my own personality, so I may not actually be as good an actress as I like to think, but we won’t dwell on that. 🙂   The journey is scheduled to continue as, a week from tonight, I audition for the next ALT production, Young Frankenstein.  I only hope for a chorus part in that one as well.

*

To wind up the year, I have been conducting a personal test in the last week or two.  After all the drama with my friend and The Crush hit the fan, I deactivated my Facebook temporarily.  As you will know if you have read me much, Facebook was one of my major outlets, the primary way I connect with people, but I decided it was best if I take a break.  I had said I would probably reactivate it after the New Year, but we’ll see.

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This is getting long, so very briefly, my hopes for 2014:  just happiness.  Beyond that, I’m open.

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My GOALS, on the other hand, are a whole other story.  I want to renew my Weight Watchers efforts with enough dedication and determination that I will remain on the downward slide with regard to scale numbers, and be under 200lbs by this time next year.  I want to steal one of my little sister’s goals and make it a point to connect more with my family.  I want to start saving for my Long Dreamed Of Trip to Alaska for my 45th birthday (which isn’t until 2017!).  And finally, I might just write a book.  My poetry got a lot of attention in 2013, and I hope to draw on some connections I made from that, and maybe let it take me somewhere.

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Above all, I am going to TRY to live in the moment.  Wherever I am, I am going to be intensely focused on being there.  Enjoying where I am, what I am doing, and WHO I am with.  I am not going to be wishing I could be somewhere else or with someone else (read: a romantic relationship).  I am going to focus on trying to be myself, love myself, and perhaps in 2014, finally grow up.  The following are two quotes I want to try to live by in 2014:

If it’s not challenging you, it’s not changing you.

And

Life is a result of the choices you make.  If you don’t like your life, start making better choices.

*

HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU!

Until next time,

D.

 

Today…and Yesterday September 11, 2013

83. images of breast cancer http://goo.gl/K4dYp

Hello all.  Today is one of those days I sometimes have, where I feel like I have so much I want to say, and no real plan for how to say it.  Today is 9/11, and as I checked Facebook this morning, I saw the usual abundance of memorial posters and people’s memories of that day.  I thought about adding my own there, but I have a greater need to talk more about my yesterday than  the rest of the world’s today.

*

Yesterday was highly emotional for me, but not for the reason you’d think.  Yesterday was the anniversary of my grandmother’s death in a car wreck with a drunk driver in Gallup, New Mexico.  She was 54.  She has been gone for twenty-six years.  In some ways it feels like just yesterday, but mostly it has been a lifetime.  Literally.  She passed away five days after my 15th birthday and I just turned 41.  All my milestones, all my moments, weddings, graduations, other various achievements, my children’s lifetimes…all that has gone by without her physical presence.  Not without her spiritual presence, obviously.  I know that part of her lives in all of us- me, my aunts, uncles, cousins, our kids.  Part of her influence, her passion, her bravery and adventurous spirit, her love and dedication.  All of that lives on in us.  Whenever I remember to think about it, I want to be like her.  I usually forget to think about it.  But she was an amazing woman, and worth aspiring to emulate.  There’s just really not much more to say about that.  Well, there is, but I want to move on to the main point.

*

Even more than remembering my family’s blackest day, yesterday was also highly emotional because I spent the entire day waiting to find out if there was a possibility I might have breast cancer.  I went to the doctor last week on Thursday (my 41st birthday) because I had been having pain in my right breast for several months.  Not bad pain.  Barely noticeable pain.  Just a twinge every now and then.  Not much more than most women likely experience with PMS, but continuing on a consistent enough basis that I thought I should probably get it checked out.   So on Monday I had an ultrasound on the right side, and a mammogram on both.  And yesterday I waited.  I waited alone.  At first I tried to think positively, but the longer the day went on with no news, I began to succumb to fear.  My thoughts became more and more convinced that whenever the doctor’s office did finally call, they were going to tell me something awful.

*

I called the doctor’s office a couple of times, the last being at almost 5:00, and the girl on the phone told me that they had the results of the ultrasound only, that the doctor had not had a chance to look at them, but that the summary showed nothing abnormal, and that therefore the mammogram would probably be fine too, unless something happened to turn up in the side that wasn’t hurting.  So after spending all day finding it harder and harder to breathe, I could finally relax just a little.  I still haven’t officially heard from the doctor, but the odds are that everything is fine.

*

I am so thankful.  I am thankful that I didn’t have to find out I would be fighting for my life on the anniversary of my grandmother’s death.  But to have 9/11 immediately follow the day I had yesterday has thrown me into an emotional moment where I just feel very contemplative and quiet.  I want to think, but I don’t feel like I can think deeply enough.  I want to talk about loving life and living in the moment and appreciating your family and telling the people you love that you do love them.  All the poetic things that get spouted in this season and on these occasions.  But it all just feels so inadequate.  Nothing I can say can touch the depth of how much I want to honor Alba Dean Findley and all the victims of 9/11 by LIVING.  Just… living.  Really, truly, actively, living with fullness and joy.  How do we do that?  How many millions of ways are there to define the act of living?

*

I don’t have the answers, but I plan to work on it.  Tell the people I love that I love them, no matter how scary it is.  Stop and smell the roses, literally and figuratively.  Appreciate every second.  Fight for the underdog.  Seize the day.  Be brave and fierce and fabulous, just like my grandmother.  I WILL honor the lost by living.  Really living.  I pray the same for all of us.

*

Love and blessings to all.

Until next time,

D.

Note to all women:  stay on top of your health, particularly your breast health.  That is all.

ETA:  Here is a previous entry about 9/11, the Murrah building bombing, and my grandmother.

 

 

Leftover Scars and Pioneer Skirts February 11, 2013

Plaid-Day-Dress 1845-55

Plaid-Day-Dress 1845-55 (Photo credit: AxelStorm)

Hello all.  You know, it never fails to amaze me how some things affect my mind and emotions.  I’ve read somewhere, and I’ve found it to be true, that our sense of smell is actually one of the strongest at associating memories.   Years ago when I worked at a fast food restaurant, I was working in the drive-through window one afternoon, and a car pulled up, the driver rolled the window down, and the scent from inside the car hit me.  Now I couldn’t have described the smell, I couldn’t have identified at all what the exact components of the scent were, but it was exactly, and I mean EXACTLY, like my grandmother’s car used to smell, and she had been killed in a car wreck years before that.  That smell hit me and I instantly burst into tears.  Hadn’t been feeling emotional before that, hadn’t been thinking about her at that moment or missing her or anything, but I instantaneously reacted to a scent.

*

Fast forward to the other night when I got home from work.  I walked in the door, and the offspring were camped out in various poses all over the front room:  one slouched at the computer desk, one in the rocker recliner in full-on veg out mode, and one at the dining room table with her laptop, working on homework.  Nothing particularly unusual there; that’s pretty much how I always find them.  But the most distinctive feature of the scene was the HORRENDOUS ODOR!  It was the odor…of burned-ness.  Something had clearly been burned to a crisp in that house since I’d been in it last.  I sort of began to shriek.  “What have you guys been doing in here!?  Holy cow!  It smells awful!”  Well, it turns out that The Boy had tried to make a “grilled cheese” sandwich in the microwave.   Y’all, he had put it in there for five minutes…!  The sandwich burned so badly that it cracked the plate it was on, and almost affected the microwave turntable!  I had to ask why on earth hadn’t they opened some windows, some doors, chopped a hole in the wall, ANYTHING.  That’s when they informed me that they had, in fact, opened several windows and both the front and back doors, and it still smelled that bad!  I re-opened the kitchen window, but it didn’t do much good.   The next day, I tried to use the microwave and realized that the awful smell was going to come billowing out of there all over again every time I used it!  My mother had always said that heating a cup of vinegar for a couple of minutes would help remove smells from appliances, so I tried that.  It helped a little, but I am pretty sure I will still get re-bombed with that scent every time I use the microwave for at least a couple of weeks.  This normally would be a minor annoyance at best, but every time I smell that odor, I get a tense, tight feeling in my stomach, my head hurts, and I want to cry a little.  And THAT would be because the smell is so similar to when our house burned a few years ago.  In fact, it’s ironic that this whole thing came up when it did, because writing about this reminded me that the anniversary of that lousy event is actually coming up in about a week, and that a couple of days ago was the anniversary of the tornado that struck my hometown that same year.

*

So anyway.  That’s the leftover scars part of today’s post.  A minor annoyance becomes a strong reminder of a trauma, thanks to our awesome scent-memory association!  The ‘pioneer skirts’ part comes from my efforts to find something to wear to church yesterday.  A few weeks ago I had worn this really long, thin, flowing skirt to church.  It was a pretty windy day, and at the time, I thought it would probably be much better if I had something to wear under it.  (Forgive me, Grandmothers, for I have sinned: I do not own a full-length slip.)  I was already out of the house before I remembered that I had another skirt of the same length, but different material and weight, that I could have worn under it as just an extra layer, kind of serving as a slip or a liner.  Which got me thinking about things like Little House on the Prairie, and petticoats, and how every once in a while, I just get in this weird mood where I want to start dressing like Ma Ingalls.  (Yeah, like the title of my last post, I’m just that weird.)  So yesterday, I did exactly that.  I wore one skirt under the other to the morning service, and I switched them for evening services!  It felt much better than wearing one alone, more weight and coverage, you might say.  Felt less likely to catch a stiff breeze and flash the world.  🙂  Don’t worry, I didn’t have a frilly high-neck blouse on top; I haven’t gotten that weird yet- I just wore a sweater that matched the colors.  I did, however, enjoy a brief period of twirling girly-ness in the middle of the dining room, spinning around and watching my skirts swirl.

*

Does anyone else think the world today might be a slightly better place if all women could still feel beautiful and girly by watching their long skirts swirl, instead of having to squeeze into a pitiful excuse for a dress that barely covers their chest and butt and then ruining their feet, ankles, knees, and backs with sky-high heels, and then wonder why men don’t respect them?  Just me?  Ok, then.

*

Until next time,

D.

 

Dear 2012 December 28, 2012

Through the Looking-Glass -- and the parallel ...

Through the Looking-Glass — and the parallel universe Alice found there (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hello all.  The end of a year and the beginning of a new one is always a time for reflection and for looking forward.  (Thank you for allowing me to state the obvious.)  After two years of high levels of motivation, 2010 and 2011, in which I focused on Transformation and Motion/Action, 2012 was basically a year to just sort of endure, survive, and regroup- to just cling to the raft and ride the waves.  I didn’t have a clear goal for this year.  There were several big events I was anticipating, and they worked out very much as expected- they were good.  Unfortunately, there have been some pretty negative events this year as well, though fortunately the worst of them weren’t blindsiding, out of the blue catastrophes, thank you Jesus!  So I think I’ll just work through my thoughts and feelings in an open letter to the year itself.  To wit:

*

Dear 2012,

Well, you’re done.  Thank goodness, because you’ve really been all over the map.

In January, Daughter J. had major surgery, followed by a long recovery period and a lot of time out of school.  January was otherwise unremarkable, except that it meant we were finally in the same calendar year as our much-anticipated cruise vacation.  More on that later.

*

We thought you were going to be a generally good year, but then February came- my dad’s mother died, an event which was not exactly unexpected, but which might have set the tone for the year ahead.  I know- it’s not your fault, it has to happen sometime.  You just happened to be the one.

*

March and April were ok, I think.  Neither praise nor censure for those.  The girls had their Senior Prom in April, which they didn’t originally want to attend, but they finally became convinced they’d regret not going, and would probably enjoy it well enough if they went.  And it wasn’t some big Evening of a Lifetime, but they had a decent night- enough to make it worth the time and $$ spent on the dresses.

*

May was full of events- The Boy’s 11th birthday, my baby sister’s Bridal Shower.  These were memorable, but somewhat smaller compared with much-discussed events like Baccalaureate and Graduation.  I had gone on and on about how I’d cry and it would all be terribly tear-jerking and dramatic.  It wasn’t.  In an ironic twist, despite long-past divorce and separation and new spouses and new families, their father and I sat together at their graduation, like some weird, nostalgic parallel universe kind of thing.  But it felt nice.  Their graduation was all we could have hoped it would be.

*

Late May, early June was The Cruise.  The thing I had been planning and waiting for since February of the year before.  It was kind of your peak, I think, both graphically and emotionally.   Everything was built up to this trip.  But really, all of June was pretty full- we came back from the trip and there was The Weekend of My Sister’s Wedding.  Her wedding was beautiful, and I spent a nice, never-to-be-forgotten moment with an old friend.   June still wasn’t finished- we had a family reunion road trip to Colorado.  It also played out as expected.

*

July was different.  Things happened.  People I cared about struggled.  I tried to meet new people online, and that endeavor was by turns successful and extremely exasperating.

*

August was a low point.  Hit a couple of walls with a couple of friendships.  New efforts in Educating The Boy proved stressful- online public school, which didn’t last long, followed by Variations on a Theme of Homeschooling, which we still haven’t really ironed out yet.  Also, one daughter started college.

*

September was a milestone- I turned 40.  Sometimes I don’t feel like 40.  Sometimes I feel like 23, and sometimes I feel like 90.  I feel like 23 when I think of what I know and understand about The World- politics, economics, history…  I feel like 90 when I think of all the relationships and friendships and acquaintance-ships that I’ve been through, and they just never seem to turn out like they’re supposed to.  Or maybe they do turn out like they’re supposed to, but I’m having trouble being ok with that.

*

October.  Again, pretty uneventful, except as a workplace anniversary- one year at my new job.  I’m loved and appreciated and needed at this ministry.  It’s cushy, with regard to those annoying parts of working like being there on a rigid schedule, figuring out what to do with your kid while you work.  That kind of thing.  But for some reason, I still can’t feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.  Right now, from one perspective, “my life” doesn’t matter- I need to be working wherever I can support my family and also have options for Educating The Boy.  Whether I feel any deep personal fulfillment or not- kinda irrelevant.  If in the midst of all this career uncertainty I could feel that I’m doing the right thing for my son, it would be one thing, but I’m still not sure he’s getting what he needs, or even exactly what that is or where to find it.

*

November- Thanksgiving.  The girls’ 19th birthday.  Pretty good stuff.

*

December.  As if it weren’t going to be tough enough for my dad, he loses his younger sister in the same year he lost his mother.  Right before the holidays.  The holidays, too, were slightly different this year- new families’ schedules to be juggled, breaks with tradition.  Not bad, just different.

*

And through it all, the struggle with the Weight Watchers thing.  Working hard to “be good” up to the cruise, so as to fit into our Formal Night outfit.  Achieving our record low weight (this time) right about mid-June and falling off the Physical Cliff afterward, which was less a cliff and more a tilted-deck-of-the-Titanic incline.  Clinging by our claws to a little bit of self-control as the deck seems to tilt faster, playing with that morbid curiosity of just letting go and seeing how far we fall and what it feels like when we finally hit something.  Oh, and we quit exercising in June, too. We lost our motivation.  We don’t know why we’re speaking in plural at the moment.

*

And so, 2012, you’ve been a year of long-anticipated events, milestones, changes, and a few shining moments.  A year of losses.  A year of struggles.  You could have been better, but you could have been worse, so way to go there.  It feels like you were abnormal.  Different.  Out of the ordinary.  But I don’t think you were.  I think you were just another mile of the journey.  I think from you I learned not to set unrealistic expectations.  I learned that there is a time to every purpose under heaven, and sometimes that time isn’t when we want it to be.  I learned that the struggle doesn’t end until the journey does.  I’m going to let you go now, and focus on what I want from your successor.  Wish me luck.  It’s been real.

 

*

*

Until next time,

D.

 

 
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