anxiety, caregiver, life

This Thing Called Life…

My days recently go from thinking of island life to going back to work. Now, I teach, so I have a few weeks of torture left. My mom has entered hospice. While that no longer brings me to a new level of panic, it does bring to light on what she can no longer accomplish that she once did with ease. Enter panic and the reality that our time is finite. This mixed with my recent back recovery and a few extra non-needed pounds. I am a mess who wants nothing more than to not be someone’s burden when there is more life to lead.

So while I have undergone weight gain and loss in my life. My consistent yo-yo has never been for any other reason than vanity and on the flip side, my love of food. Today is different I am now taking the time to read labels, give up salt, sugar, and the bad carbs. I am a new leafy eater with a side of protein. Right now I am cooking chicken and turkey to freeze for later in the coming weeks. I think they call this food prepping. I call this a forced chance to write. My goal is twenty pounds but I would be great with fifteen, as it might be enough to release the extra burden of stressors, I now feel truly caring for a parent who cannot take care of themselves.

The weight is heavy and mixed with everyday life almost too much as everything is out of my control. So I am going to learn to cook, meal prep, eat well for the first time in my life. I can control that. My exercise will be daily walking at 5:30 am to set me up for a successful school year, and I can control (not enjoy) those early hours. I will mix in meditation and restorative yoga as I heal and focus on our relationship as mother/daughter and probably write and focus on my grandson. It helps. Alot.

I am sure my next few or more blogs will be about my Miss Brenda. Of course liberties will be taken as that’s what I do. Take a story and try to see the lighter side of this thing called life. Follow along.

book, epilepsy

No Title.

Epilepsy is a modern mystery left to man and an exhausting condition on its best days. Please note I am not complaining. Not my style. And I know I am lucky. I have it all, an advanced degree, career, driver’s license, and one kid. That was all we were granted, and probably the reason I teach. I also have an unnatural desire to organize toys, anyone’s toys. Not epilepsy related but it’s as if my mothering was done before my time. I was always longed for more children but one and done was logical. So if you got toys, give me a call. Or if you need additional mothering as my kid would like a break. Let me know. He is a good sport. 

My story like others begins out of true fear. No one teaches epilepsy in school. Diabetes, yes. Epilepsy, no. My first experience was riding on a city bus to my figure skating lesson, oh yes. I was sporty too. A woman burst on the bus and screamed, “I am epileptic move.” Now, I was eleven and currently experiencing auras on a daily basis in quiet fear. While I thought the declaration was over-the-top, she scared me for many reasons so I moved the hell away. I got off the bus and walked the rest of the way to the rink in tears. I knew I would be that woman. Better dressed, less vulgar. But that was me. With every step towards the rink and a coach who had already called my grandfather for my being tardy I had apologies coming to many but mostly to myself for my living in fear. 

As the story goes I had times where I lived in a bubble that would not break open, until ready. This confinement impeded my speech. Actually, stopped it, but left me in the living to be able to hear all around me. Initially, the episodes were short, no one ever knew. However, with time, each getting longer and longer but my fear and lies covered them up. Not well. But my ability to focus on the world around me caught everyone off guard as once it passed no one could tell the difference. Silent periods continued to grow longer with each passing episode but my odd ability to jump back into the conversation, with increased slurred speech, worked. I chalked everything off to fatigue and exhaustive days between school and the rink. Others, just shook their heads and labeled me as a rebellious teen. The game was exhausting as was the daily fear of what was around the corner and who would see it and when would my academy award winning acting breakthrough to the obvious secrets I was keeping.  I was scared.  

My first big seizure was in a bathroom. I just fell, seized alone, and bit off my tongue. Just clumsy right? Yup. Got a week off of school, lots of rest, ice cream, and my game was extended. Not even EMTs felt I needed hospitalization. My grandparents became like hawks circling their prey and waiting for a misstep. They knew. I knew. We all buried the truth as who doesn’t want a perfect kid. And it was such a heavy badge to wear and at that time late 70’s not one

A week later. The curtain came down on my show. The seizure was witnessed and hospitalization followed. Now, I knew what the tests would show. My grandparents kept talking in hushed tones of C words but I told them they had nothing like that to worry about. I was right but the doctors made my diagnosis like a death sentence, meds, no driving ever, no kids, university too taxing and on and on and on. My grandparents listened with tears streaming down their faces.  

As soon as the doctor left I looked at them and said. “Whatever he said, we are not doing.” Let’s get these meds and get the fuck out of here.” I got a life to live, and I am gonna live! My grandfather laughed and my grandmother almost scolded me but beating the big C was good enough for her. I promised to take my meds, stop driving for a year, but I would go to college and I was going to stage a sit-in at the hospital until they agreed. They did. I was sprung and my first course of treatment began. 

My story starts there. Today is a bad day. My mind scrambles into a million pieces trying to find the calm my brain needs to slow it down and focus on anything that is not repetitive in sound or feeling. On days like this I write. I listen to music, I do yoga, I watch movies. Anything to remove my brains overdrive and fixations. My sensory overload is at its max. Thus, hearing daily sound in stereo. The toaster, the baggies opening for breakfast goodies, the refrigerator door, the butter opening and closing…the insanity is my sanity on bad days and the view of life it brings me is priceless.  Loud, priceless, and a gift that took me years to embrace and overcome the looks from an uneducated public not understanding that it is not a sentence of death or oddity but one of heightened life. 

This is not a book about epilepsy. It is one about life and the removal of obstacles. 

family, granparent life, life

Park Mom

Long ago in a galaxy far, far away…I was a park mom. Or my term for a mom with kids playing in the park with the important duties of watching, protecting, opening juice boxes, or providing snacks while kissing boo boos. A park mom who of course can be a dad and can work. Not going further, as it would take up the entire blog, and I am not woke or PC.

A park mom usually comes alone with kids in tow and always is searching for a few minutes of quiet in the storm. These are the true warriors of toddler life. They may look exhausted but in a moments notice they are at the top of the playground equipment rescuing their cub. I once crawled up the McDonald’s Playground slide tube to get my kid who suddenly realized that going down the big tube was not going to happen on that day. He went from “I got this because I am a big boy” to a puddle of tears within nanoseconds. That’s when we kick in. Yup. To the top I went and we slid down together to applauding moms. They got it. The kid ate the remaining portion of his Happy Meal and went back to just playing in the seriously germy ball area. I could breathe and he could play. When we left he asked if I could always ride the big tube with him all the time…I wanted to say “yes” but I used my best mom speech and told him next time he could do it on his own. He did. We both won.

Now, as I take my grandson to the park. The speech about inner strength and the promotion of independence doesn’t change but the pride is somehow more amazing and indescribable.

family

Alpha Parent

I am right in one area of my life. The kid. He hates that. But I was the alpha in his life and alphas are always spot on because we wrestle with them in the trenches of life. I like messy. I am messy. I understand messy, I gre up messy. The hubs is not messy. Nope, neat, tidy, and is now the swooper buddy. My term. He can do no wrong. I do everything wrong. It’s ok, because I am right.

But right causes conflict. I push and he pulls. I know this but I continue because yup you got it, I am right. The alpha parent (very new age labeling, thank you very much) has gone through the twists and turns, and we have had a few. I watched, listened, cried, drove all over town looking for him, took him to the ends of my world and back again. I blame myself. Everyday. For everything. Insert therapist. Nope. Our bond is too strong. It is just my cross to bear. The kid will feel this one day with his little, because he is the alpha and he has my heart and very effed up mind. Sorry. But not. This feeling while miserable at times is wonderful. It is a connection throughout time and space that no one can break.

But I am still right. I will never stop cheering until he finds his voice outside of the arena of “dad” which is truly his finest moment.

family, life, thirty

Not Just A Day!

It’s a big day. Nope, a huge day. It is an insert expletive type of day, using any chosen expletive to emphasize wonderful. I like the one that rhymes with duck, but I do have a potty mouth. There are truly no words. Hence, the rocky start. Perhaps the middle and ending, as well. Just a great big warning label but I will try to get my wording together. However, no promises.

He was born at a normal weight and length, which was a blessing. I have epilepsy and he was a calculated risk. I had to gain an insane amount of weight to ensure his weight. Not sure, about this correlation, but I had weekly weigh-ins, and little did we know this was to be around his corner. After his birth we found out about his eating disorder. He was failing to thrive and by the time my pediatrician (one on the best, truly) believed the situation we where whisked into Standford Hospital where my Nanny walked me through an emergency baptism. We did not think we were leaving with our baby. We were petrified. So baptize I did. This was our first brush with the fear of losing him. After this point we became helicopter parents, to the extreme.

The kid had/has a stubborn streak and is the ultimate survivor. While, in the recovery stages we went to OT, PT, and feeding therapy. We did not need all of this but we did it all to make sure after failing to thrive nothing else was lacking or needed attention. He was the most popular kids at Standford, he was their rockstar. He had a smile that was killer, laughed, when not eating, easily, and loved people. He is smart and strong. He graduated out of all programs quickly. Which was wonderful but sad, as it was our playtime with other sanitized children. The one thing the kid could not be around is germy kids, in case of catching the slightest cold, as it would stop his growth. Every ounce was important. We could not be in a playgroup, or have little people contact, until on that weight chart. We were best buddies, more than the average mom/son duo. Daily he depended on me not just for the average kids food and play but to keep him alive. By eleven months the kid made it on the chart, the tube was removed, and our nightly pump feeds a thing of the past. Life as a normal kid could begin. Whatever that meant.

We meandered through the meaning of normality, and overall had success as a family unit. The kid was that kid who had it all…until his back began to fail. The failure is genetic and hastened by sports. The kid was physically talented. Now, we coped. We are a strong bunch and he is the strongest human I know. Truly. But a few scares between the countless surgeries plus a stroll on wild side that became rather dicey. This was not just a scare. It was a gamble with life. Most days, I fought back tears. Life went on. Kinda. Change only comes for those that want change. So we waited. He chose to see the light. I thank God nightly. Our kid who has fought for life since birth, chose life.

Actually, he excelled. Again. He pulled out of the darkness with his cheering section applauding every step. The hubs and I were obnoxious but when you fear the alternative you become obnoxious. I did not care. Still don’t. I am his biggest fan. It started with the baptism by fire with my Nanny coaching me. Afterwards, between the tears, I said. “Keep fighting and to never give up.” He heard me. He has listened to me for thirty years. Not liking me at all times, but loving me and listening. Try phlebotomy school. Did, and done. Try EMT. Did, and done. He was great and loved it…and would have gone farther. But, that damn back. The kid had a few more surgeries. He is now bionic. Now, he is just dad. Let’s hear it for them. Insert applause. Truly made for this life. Again, thank you God for giving him these skills. This is his life and world. His buddy flourishes due to their daily stay at home ways. But one day, when ready, he will venture back into the world. Perhaps, using his photography skills. The hubs and I know he would be a hit. But throughout his fight for life, his self-confidence has taken a hit. So, not quite ready, but he is listening. Kinda. Most importantly, he is alive and we are all celebrating thirty along with his best friend, aka goggle boy, who adores his daddy.

So, today is much more than just a birthday. It is a miracle in every way possible. From his birth, fighting early health battles, his back, and fighting some dark demons to now seeing the light through the youngest of goggle eyes. Happy Birthday!

fitness, grey hair, life

Big News.

But I can’t tell. Story of my life. The end.

No, but I tell you something much more interesting and a little off color. Gotcha. I have my Grandmother’s rear-end. I am PG. You were expecting a**. Not gonna happen. I always have had this caboose, it was just smaller pre-50’s. Not pretty. Hers was like that reality show family without the designer excess and no plastic enhancing. But it looked right. Always did. Now mine is also all mine, but the look is something to hide. Truly, no real pride, just a fact that I am trying to remove it. Quickly.

My grandmother, always complained she was overweight. She was 5’1″ and maybe 105 pounds. All in her caboose. But she looked awesome even before the rear-end was in vogue. To her that’s all she saw and she hated it just like we all hate our parts that are imperfect. Now she would be a rockstar. Which she was. In her own plastic covered couch, eat burned chicken kind of way. But her love was enormous and made up for her peculiarities. Did I mention she had zero wrinkles? Zero. She loved that about herself. It made the less perfect tolerable and she would glow when others guessed her age, usually far younger than her reality.

She was her own gal. Never met anyone like her. I miss her daily. I remember telling her goodbye and that it was OK to go and hangout with grandpa…but it wasn’t. Well, it was. Kinda. She had dementia and in the final stages it was bad. She left a few days after I told her to go…it was time. But I miss her, her terrible cooking, and how she always took a half of a bagel in her purse for after dinner treat, no matter the restaurant star level, the bagel was in tow. She had the other half that morning. Always. She took her own tea bags as well, and consistently asked me if the waiter would be mad that she just wanted hot water for dessert. Every single dinner outing. The same questions and the same begging. “Tracy, Sam (grandfather) he will see me with my tea and bagel, order something for dessert.” I obliged so the waiters stayed away. No one ever cared. If the waiter was lucky they were treated to her reason for bringing her own carbs and tea to the game. To keep them simple she even told the story in sequence and very quick to the point and if they asked it went something like this:

1. No sugar did she ever eat accept for her one bagel a day and her one apple or orange. Never more. Ever!

2. These were Jewish bagels. Not regular bagels and she would argue the difference.

3. Her tea was better than any restaurants. It was Lipton, but why fight. She also thought she would be charged. Again, agreeing was easier.

My grandfather and I would truly try to keep this story under wraps as we understood how crazy it sounded, but how happy it made her. More than anything it was her way to save a buck or two. She grew up with thirteen brothers and sisters. They packed their snacks if they were lucky enough to go to the movies. Packing was ingrained in her from a young age. So as for the rear. It did not come from her one bagel a day habit. She was just blessed and she was, but next to that famous reality show family, I have never seen anyone more obsessed with their tuchus.

So, where is this headed. Back to the beginning, I suppose. Big news, and a rear to shrink, quickly. But if my grandmother were still alive she would take my hand and reassure me that I am perfect and quickly distract me with a complaint about her day, as it was really Sylvia’s world, and we were just part of it.

Love you Grandma!

caregiver, grey hair, life, retirement

The Facebook

I like to believe I could give up on The Facebook if it were not for my mom, my Miss Brenda. Mmm. Maybe not, but I believe I could. Now, The Instagram and The Twitter, never. My mom inserts the “the,” not my terminology, as I am social media savvy. So I think. Actually, I know I am not. I am 58 my generation is just cocky not savvy at social stuff. How could I toss away the connection I get with the same ten friends over and over…I mean they are sick of me. I could leave. Frankly, kinda sick of them. Sorry. I could leave. So, I must stay for the forward thinking ads that take me down rabbit holes and mine for information. Yes, that is it. Google knowing my every move is an inviting reason to carry on this love/hate relationship. Something to stay for. Nope. The games. They are stupid and after I play them I never post my answers, due to the embarrassment, of playing them in the first place. Nope. Nope. Nope. So, the question remains, why not just hit that delete button, that never really deletes you, but it must feel amazing once pressed. Just think, a life you do not share, overshare, or have a need to share. I understand that many live like that, but if there was a twelve-step program for social media, I would be on it. No, I stay for my Miss Brenda.

Please note: I love my mom to pieces this is just how my brain and how our relationship works. Phew. Hopefully, this is understood. Don’t want to be labeled as that mom hating blogger because I use a moniker other than mom. Not me. At all. Let’s carry on.

My Miss Brenda is what they call her at her senior living facility. It has stuck with me. In a way it was my transformation that I am now really the mom. Yup, two kids. Thirty and eighty-one, they never played well. Sharing was a bitch. They never really got it. Actually, neither did I…the only child syndrome and all. I digress.

We have had our challenges beyond the usual mother/daughter stuff. But our love is real. Very. She is pretty, very social, and stands her ground. Now. But in her former life she ran away from controlling parents that led her to controlling men. Never physically hurt. Just emotional hurt. Her Romeo was never to be hers, and frankly, I am not sure she ever got over that moment in her life. Maybe. We don’t bring it up. It is all water under the bridge that will be in her lasting memories. Along with The Facebook. Sweet, actually. Cue a Shakespeare soliloquy.

Back to the title. The concept of a phone that does more than call is foreign. Very. I spent two hours times two days in Verizon with her, it was not enough. But if you need a new carrier I recommend them as being the kindest souls on the planet, my business is with them for life. Anyway, we learned texting. That worked. We even got that special stylus that made her feel fancy. Very fancy. I bought a pack of them. Just in case. Then she found facebook one day. “Tracy, my friend taught me about something today. It’s called The Facebook. I can see everyone’s lives.” Great. Within the first week she was hacked, the second week I started receiving odd messages from my Miss Brenda, definitely not written in her style and tone. By the third week we ended all of her accounts and got her a new phone, new number, and a new The Facebook identity. Yup. All of her financial stuff was transferred and secured. SO MUCH FUN. I was not a happy camper during this period and suffice to say the man paying the bills was beside himself. The hubs constantly questioned “Why does she need Facebook?” “It is not Facebook,” I said. “It is The Facebook, and it is her window to me, to us, to her grandson and great-grandson.” Proud of my absolute shutdown and the win for The Facebook.

Enter stage-right, Covid-19 and our absence from contact for one year, almost to the date, The Facebook was her saving grace. My posts are for no one but her… she enjoyed my over-sharing my true lack of importance for that third cup of coffee picture or my big toilet paper search. It made her laugh. Nope, it is all for Miss Brenda. I know no one cares and it mostly looks self-important but it’s neither. She truly gets a kick out of my daily pursuits, as trivial as they are. So, I carry-on.

We recently slipped into a new phase. Just using messenger (no more texts) or calls, unless she finds the “phone” image accidentally and of course where she stores her notes. Yes, Miss Brenda has notes. All neatly written in a notebook. Probably, color coded. Another new use is the all important The Facebook calls without the FaceTime camera. That is too many instructions. I have tried. There are no words, colors, tabs, or even a separate notebook for camera use that is going to get us over our hump. We are happy. It works. She feels as if she is experiencing my adventures with me and right now that is the best gift I can give.

I love you Miss Brenda! See you soon!