Friday, April 26, 2013

My Surgery Story

I realize this is ridiculously long. I wrote it mostly for me, though, so I allowed myself to blather on and on. For the abridged version, read just the yellow text.

I am 38 years old, and aside from a broken nose in seventh grade (field hockey accident), I have never been hospitalized for anything unrelated to pregnancy or childbirth. That is, until this week.
Tuesday, April 23rd, was a regular day.  The older kids were in school; Josh and Zack were home. I had some stuff to do around the house, but spent most of the morning just puttering around. Doing a little bit of this, avoiding a little bit of that. I did manage to get in some exercise, but only because I was putting off folding some laundry.
The boys were playing outside, and I started to make them lunch. I was standing at the kitchen counter and felt a pain in my stomach. It felt like a gas bubble or something, but pushing on my stomach didn't make it feel any better. I hadn't eaten much that day - only a couple bites of dried fruit - but it didn't seem like a hunger pang either. I walked around a little bit, and it felt better. But then it quickly returned. And again, pushing on my stomach didn't help. Pushing on my stomach actually made it feel worse. I walked around and did some deep breathing. Minor relief. I finished making the boys' sandwiches and went to sit down. I found that if I sat on the edge of the chair, with my legs apart and my head bent over, with my belly pushed out, the pain didn't seem as sharp, but it still wasn't going away.
I did not know what was going on, but I started to fear it was something serious. I asked Josh if he knew how to dial 911. I said, "If Mommy gets really sick or if something is really wrong, pick up the phone and press 'talk' and then press 9-1-1 and talk to the person who answers the phone." 
Josh said, "911? To talk to the police??" 
And Zack chimed in, "The police?? They arrest you for getting sick??" 
I had a good laugh and then explained that the police would send an ambulance to bring me to the hospital.
I couldn't decide if my pain was serious enough to call 911, so I called the doctor's office to get their opinion.  I talked to the secretary, then was placed on hold, then I talked to the nurse's assistant, Robin, then placed on hold again. By the time Robin was back on the phone, I no longer wondered if I needed to call 911. I was sure of it! That's how fast the pain escalated.
Robin offered to call 911 for me so I could hang up and try to find someone to come over and stay with the kids. At this point, I started crying. I became overwhelmed with concern about what might possibly be wrong with me. I wondered who could come watch the kids. I worried about leaving the kids home without first having planned for my absence. (Some of you know I like to create actual manuals for this type of situation!) I worried about how long I'd be gone. I worried about calling Neil to come home from work because I knew how much he'd worry about me. All of these thoughts went through my head in the span of about 1.2 seconds.
I tried calling one neighbor down the street who wasn't home. I was going to call my neighbor across the street and realized I didn't have the phone number [Note to self: add their phone number to contacts.] Then I remembered that Dick & Shirley, some of our very best and nicest neighbors were probably home. I called them, still crying, and Shirley answered the phone. I said, "We have an emergency. Can you come over?" She said, "Yup!" and hung up the phone before I could say goodbye. She and Dick were at our house in less than a minute.
I called Neil and asked him to come home. I explained (through tears, of course) that there was something wrong with my stomach, that Dick and Shirley were coming here to watch the kids, and that 911 had been called and an ambulance was coming to get me. (And then I prayed that God would get Neil home safely because I was having a hard time picturing him not driving 100 mph to get home.)
Within a few minutes, the ambulance was at our house. It wouldn't have occurred to me to request female EMT's, but two female EMT's are who showed up - and I was very pleased about that. I wish I remembered their names, but I don't. They were both so nice and caring and gentle and reassuring. Really wonderful! [Another note to self: find out their names and send a thank-you note.]
As the EMT's got me ready to go, Shirley could see how much pain I was in and how stressed I was about leaving. She offered to ride in the ambulance and come to the hospital with me. Normally, I'm fairly private about personal stuff and prefer to keep my potentially embarrassing misery to myself, but I also knew what a baby I become when I don't feel well. I knew I'd want someone with me, so I accepted Shirley's offer.
Before we even left the driveway, they performed an EKG and started an IV. Everything looked good, so off we went! (Over the next ten hours, it was simultaneously encouraging and terribly frustrating to hear how healthy I was!)
We took what seemed to be the scenic route to the hospital. Seriously, I couldn't understand why we went the way we did - - it took so long! During the ride, I was able to communicate via text and facebook. (I love technology!!) I found out that my parents were on their way to my house and would relieve Dick of his child-watching duties so Neil could come be with me in the hospital. My sister Missy had informed the rest of my family what was going on with me, and I was able to text with my sister Jeannine about what was going on, as well. In some ways, all of the facebooking and texting helped keep my mind off the pain.
I was given some pain medicine through my IV, which helped take the edge off. It brought my pain level from an 8 down to a 7, maybe. If I had known then that I'd be experiencing Level 10 pain for a large portion of the rest of the day, I might have rated the ambulance-ride pain a 5 or 6 instead, but at the time, I didn't know better. The whole ride in, I couldn't help but think of the Boston Marathon bombings only a week before. Surely, the people who had limbs blown off were in worse pain than me. Who was I to rate my pain so high when clearly there was conceivably much more room above my level? But trying to remain humble didn't do much for my pain, either, so I went back to complaining about how much it hurt.
At the hospital, things seemed to move rather quickly. I was never left alone for long. I felt that everyone cared and was doing their best to help me. Unfortunately, nothing was helping me. I was given various pain killers, none of which really worked. The pain was like being in labor, but much worse. It was like experiencing one long contraction that NEVER. ENDED. And unlike labor, I didn't know why I was in pain. I couldn't tell myself, "Your body is made for this!" I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I didn't have the promise of beautiful, squirmy newborn to help me fight through the pain. It just HURT, period.
The worst part of the day was when they decided to give me morphine. The morphine did nothing for my pain; I'm pretty sure it made it worse, actually. My legs were heavy and numb, my arms went numb all the way up to my neck and face, my hands were stiff and knotted, and the pain in my stomach was intensified. Yeah - I was not a fan of morphine.
One doctor came in and was poking my stomach. I understand they need to touch the area to get some kind of assessment, but it had already been done. Several times. And it hurt. Every time. And with the added bonus of the negative reaction to the morphine, I couldn't stand it. I yelled, "Stop poking me!"
I think he may have tried to explain why he was doing it, but he didn't stop poking. I got mad and (with my eyes still closed in pain) I whacked him with the (empty! clean!) throw-up bag I was holding. (Oh, did I mention that either as a side effect of the narcotics they were shoving through my veins or as an additional element of my stomach pain, I was also vomiting every so often? No? Well, I was. And that was all kinds of fun, let me tell you!)
So, anyway, I whacked the doctor with one of these:
It is a plastic ring with a light plastic grocery-type bag attached to it. I hit him with the soft part. Did I mention that it was clean? And empty? Well, the doctor turned into No-bully Nelly and stated loudly in a most offended voice, as though he had rehearsed it in a seminar, "Ma'am, do NOT hit me!"
If I hadn't been in so much pain, I would have laughed in his face. As it was, I was concentrating on trying not to die, so I just said, "I whacked you with a bag." And he insisted, "You hit me. Please do not hit me!"
So I responded, loudly, "Then stop poking me!!"
He left after that, and I didn't see him again the rest of my time there. Good riddance, pimple-nose!
That was one bad experience. The other was with another male -- this time a nurse -- about 20 minutes later. As I mentioned, my pain was intense. It got so bad that I was writhing and yelling in pain. Not my finest moment, I'll tell you that. Poor Shirley felt so bad for me, she left the room to find out if there was anything that could be done for me. A male nurse came in. Did he give me any medicine? No. Did he ask if he could help? No. Did he pat my arm and say, "There, there. You're going to be ok." No!
He said, "I don't want to sound like a jerk or anything, but yelling isn't going to do you any good. You need to get control of yourself." And then he left!! Thanks a lot, JERK!!
At that point, I just felt dejected and embarrassed. No, yelling clearly wasn't going to do me any good. So I buttoned my lip. I laid there in pain, cursing the world, pitying myself. I tried repeating a prayer my sister Michelle had told me about. "God, help me bear this!" I repeated it over and over and over again. It didn't feel like it was helping, but if I was going to die -- and at that point, it felt like a real possibility -- I at least wanted credit for trying to be holy!
But the pain continued. And the tests continued.
All vital signs: great!
Another EKG: perfect!
Blood work: normal!
At one point Shirley tried reassuring me that my color looked good, and I yelled at the poor woman. "I don't care what color I am! I just want the pain to stop!!" (Sorry, Shirley!)
X-rays: all clear!
Dick arrived to pick up Shirley, and they both stayed with me until Neil got there, which wasn't much longer after that.
Ultrasound: fantastic!
They could find nothing wrong with me.
They had never seen such a healthy sick person! WHAT THE HECK???
One of the nurses told me that gastrointestinal issues are "tricky" sometimes. If it was something with my gut, they may not be able to find out what the problem is. She started talking about what kind of medicine I could take if they had to send me home... It all became a little fuzzy at that point. Send me home?? There was no way I was leaving that hospital until I knew what was wrong with me and someone fixed it!! I was scared and worried and still in so much pain.
A nurse came in with a jug of red liquid that looked like fruit punch. (It was not fruit punch, by the way.) There was a form attached to the side of it stating that I had to drink the liquid, and I'd be having a CT Scan at 21:15. I must have been mildly delirious at that point because I remember being proud of myself for figuring out they meant 9:15pm, like I had decoded a secret message.
One sip of that juice and I knew I couldn't do it. It was horrible! The orange sugary stuff you have to drink during pregnancy for the glucose test is blissfully delightful compared to this crap. This red stuff was 100% awful. I cried. I agonized. I told Neil I couldn't do it. I wailed, "It's not going to do any good anyway! They're not going to find anything!"
It had been a very long day with no relief and I was in despair. But somehow, Neil talked me through it. He told me to have faith; that they would be able to find out what was wrong. He asked the nurse if I had to drink ALL of the liquid (I think it was a full quart!) or just some of it. She told me to do my best. I think I got through 1/4 of it before they came to take me for the CT Scan. I was confusing the CT Scan with an MRI. I didn't have to go in a tube. I just laid on a long table, and a big white donut thing passed over me. Or I passed through the white donut. [Mmmm... donuts.] I'm actually not really sure.
After a few scans, I was injected (via IV) with an additional solution to help with additional imaging. I was warned that I'd feel some warmth in my throat and that it would travel down to the seat of my pants. And that's just what happened! It was the weirdest feeling. For about 60 seconds, I felt like my spine must have actually turned RED to show up in the scan - it was so hot! But then it dissipated. The whole CT Scan only took about 5 minutes.
And it worked! They found the problem! My small intestine was twisted! A section of my small intestine had somehow adhered to some scar tissue, and over time (or suddenly?), had twisted in on itself, causing a blockage and severe pain. My understanding is that my problem was of the "abdominal adhesion" category, possibly from my last c-section, in 2007!! I'm really not sure.
All of this information was delivered to me by a 3-person team of surgeons. Guess what? Surgeons don't come talk to you unless they're planning to operate on you. (It took me a little while to figure that out, so I wanted to share this helpful bit of information in case it helps someone else!) They weren't speaking hypothetically about what they would do to someone in my situation. They were telling me what they needed to do. To me. Right away.
A-ha! Ok! NOW we were getting somewhere! Action! Something was going to be done to fix my pain! Hallelujah!! I was all in favor of whatever they were telling me after that point. I had the wherewithal to request a priest to come administer Last Rites, but other than that I just agreed to whatever they said.
The priest came, and one of the surgeons prayed with us. (Woohoo!) It was really cool, and I wasn't scared at all.
Shortly after midnight, I was wheeled into the operating room and given general anesthesia. I had laparascopic surgery to detach my intestine from the scar tissue and untwist it. Three tiny holes; all fixed! And that, as they say, was that!
I don't know why the pain came on so suddenly. I don't know what caused the intestine to twist. I don't know if there's anything I could have done to prevent it from happening. I don't know if any of it will have (or has had) any impact on the dietary changes I've been making for the last several months (no gluten, no dairy, increased dietary supplements, etc.). I have been given no medical restrictions from the hospital - dietary, physical, or otherwise. As long as I'm feeling fine, I can assume I am fine, which sounds really great to me!
My first night home, I had some serious neck and shoulder pain. Apparently, it is a very common side effect of laparoscopic surgery due to the CO2 gas used. The pain has continued, but gotten less severe over the last 24 hours. Last night I was even able to sleep on my side a little bit.
I'm recovering well. My mom stayed an extra day to help with the kids and the house. Neil is home from work, catering to my every whim (though I haven't asked him to peel me a grape yet!) and playing the quintessential Mr. Mom.
I want to thank everyone who kept me in their thoughts and prayers over the last several days. Thank you, God, for sparing me from serious injury and getting me through this ordeal. Because of facebook, even people I didn't know - friends of friends - were praying for me! Thank you to my parents, family, friends, neighbors, and everyone who dropped whatever they were doing and offered to help. I appreciate it so much, and your kindness means so much to me!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

One Month Down

So this is what January's exercise looked like. Not bad! 21 days of exercise, and I'm down 7 lbs. I was sick in the middle of the month, and that derailed my exercise streak. I still could have and should have been walking on the treadmill, but I didn't. Next month will be better and/or more consistent.
In my exercise group (on FB), I'm pledging 20 workouts for the month of February. That is the same number I pledged this month, but there are 3 few days to accomplish it. I think it will still be very doable. In my Fit for Good group, we've started a 21-days-in-a-row exercise challenge, and today's only Day 3, so the first 17 days of February are taken care of! I'm sure I can fit 3 more in between the 17th and the 28th! Thank goodness for overlapping challenges, huh?
I am still weighing myself every day, but I've shifted my goals from weight loss (which I still desire very much) to exercise, sleep, water intake, and good eating. I've decided that I don't want to measure my progress in terms of something that can disappear. "Down 2 pounds - hooray!" "Up 2 pounds - boooo!" No thanks. I prefer looking at my calendar and seeing 21 days of exercise and knowing no future days without exercise can negate that accomplishment.
And look what else I get:
My muscle definition is returning! Wahoo! This makes me very happy! I'm hoping soon I can take a picture of my whole body of which I am equally proud!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Documenting It

So today is the 15th day of the new year. For fifteen days I have been dieting and exercising, on a mission to lose 25 lbs. Fifteen days, for me, is a very. long. time!  Given the success I've seen, not just on the scale, but mentally, I thought it would be wise to write down exactly what I'm doing so I can acknowledge what is working and see why it is. There's a lot, so bear with me.  Here goes:
  • I have a designated "workout calendar" in my basement (where all my exercise stuff is). Each day that I exercise, I write down my weight that day, what time I start (and what time I finish), what exercises I do, and then give myself a sticker for the day! (Only 1 day missed so far this month!)

  • I log my food and exercise on My Fitness Pal. If you want to friend me there, I'm tnt0617, and you'll be able to see what I'm eating and what I'm doing for exercise. Logging my food has helped me, on several occasions, keep a few bad choices from turning into a slippery slope of horrible choices.
  • I don't take my phone or laptop to bed. (This was a new year's resolution, actually.) This helps me go to sleep earlier because I'm not distracted by FB posts or comments, and I'm not tempted to google *that thing* I just thought of before turning out the lights.
  • I set my alarm for 5:15am. Some mornings I wake up early, some mornings I don't. But not having my phone is incentive to get out of bed because then I (a facebook addict) can go downstairs and check my notifications. I can easily walk and facebook at the same time, and once I'm going, it's easier to get into a real workout. And working out first thing in the morning is really the BEST time to work out. I don't have the kids bugging me and it gets it over & done with before the rest of the day gets a hold on me.
  • I have cut out/limited gluten and dairy. I've been more strict with the gluten than the dairy, and if I had a serious food allergy, I'd have to be even more strict than I have been, BUT for the most part, I've avoided both. This is how I've avoided 99% of the junk food pitfalls that normally get me.
  • I joined Dr. Lou's Weight Loss Challenge in Portland. This year it included a "bioelectrical impedance analysis". I don't have too much to say about it yet, but basically, it looks like a bunch of info that tells you more than just the number on the scale  I'm going to a class tonight which will dissect the info for us, so stay tuned. Knowledge is power, folks. :)
  • I started a Facebook group called "Skinny in 2013" for myself a few like-minded ladies who want to make this the year we lose our extra weight. "'Healthy' is nice, but 'skinny' is really what we want." (Not that any of us will sacrifice health to lose weight, but a healthy lifestyle doesn't particularly motivate any of us. We want to look good in our jeans!)
  • I rejoined a facebook group belonging to my fitness expert friend Laurel. Each month, members post their goal number of workouts planned. Then, through the days, each member posts their workouts and what number they're up to - trying to meet or exceed the monthly goal they've set for themselves.
  • I joined another facebook group that, so far, hasn't been particularly helpful, but it's another element of encouragement/motivation. It's a group started by Toni Anderson, and she is the reason for my interest. Talk about motivating, look at this!!
    (And she has 7 kids!)
  • I weigh myself every day. First thing in the morning, I get out of bed, go potty, and hop on the scale. I record my weight on a chart I taped to the inside of my medicine cabinet. It has a space for every day this year. I did that so I wouldn't have a specific goal date looming in front of me. Some people are motivated by having a specific goal date. Not me. It's like driving near a cliff and watching the cliff and then driving off the cliff. But weighing every day does help me stay on track. I'm aware that the body's weight can fluctuate up and down for various unknown reasons, but I'm also aware that if I have 4 margaritas, I won't be able to hide them from the scale for long. I depend on the scale's daily feedback to keep me on task.
  • I joined an email group of women who are preparing to run the Beach to Beacon 10K this year. I ran the race for the first time last year. I had not properly trained for it, and though I was able to run the entire distance (1:06:43, thankyouverymuch!), I felt like dying the rest of that day, complete with flu-like symptoms.  I would like my body to be more prepared for it this year - - and I'd like to complete it in less than an hour.  So, in the email group, each Sunday, we email everyone what our workouts were for the previous week. It's a place for encouragement or questions or whatever, but mostly, it's just another level of accountability.
  • I made myself 2 big pots of soup and a big pot of chili, dished them out into single-serve dishes, and froze half of them. The other half I put in the fridge so I have them to grab for a quick meal. Having healthy food at-the-ready is KEY for me!  Here are links to the recipes: (1) PT Motivation Booster Soup, (2) Bean & Kale Soup, and (3) Sweet Potato Chili.
  • For exercises, I've started the couch-to-5k program again (I've done it several times, but I think I've only completed it once before!). I do that on Mon/Wed/Fri.  On Sun/Tue/Thu, I do a session of JJ Virgin's 4x4 workouts. I bought her dvd's, so I have 8different workouts to choose from. I use Saturday as either a makeup day (if I'm off a day in the week) or do the elliptical or some wii fit games or whatever. I also throw in a mile walk just about every day (because I can do it while cruising facebook!)  I've started adding inclines to the treadmill setting and either wearing ankle weights or carrying hand weights to add extra resistance.
  • I've watched all of these videos. Honestly, anything that comes from PEERtrainer and/or JJ Virgin is solid gold. Listen to what they say. It's all such great info!!
  • Speaking of solid gold, I watched this video last week. It really hit home for me. If you want to reach your goals, do it! Don't convince yourself you're "fine" not achieving them! Take this advice from Mel Robbins!

Hmmm. I guess that's all of it. As I suspected, there is a LOT here. No wonder my housework is suffering. It is a full-time job staying on top of this stuff.  But for the first time in a long time, I'm doing it.  I'm taking making the time to exercise and focus on my goals. And it's working. Since January 1st, I have lost 6 lbs. I still have 19 to go to reach my goal, but I'm confident I'll reach it THIS YEAR!!
I'm not sharing this info to brag - I wouldn't set myself up for imminent failure like that! - but to help anyone who may be struggling.  Trust me... if I had my act together, I wouldn't need all these tips, tricks, and tools to keep me going. We're all in this mess together! If any of these ideas sound like they may help you, please feel free to copy me! Helping others motivates me!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Martha, Mary, and Me ... (Me, Myself, and I...?)

For Lent this year, I'm saying a rosary each day for one (or more) of my friends, and keeping them in my thoughts and prayers throughout the day. I'm really loving it! I feel like, for the first time in several years, I'm actually doing something for Lent. And I could/should talk more about that, but that's not what prompted me to post today.

The issue I've been having is that in order to get my rosary in each day, sometimes I need to multi-task and do something else at the same time. Not something that requires any mental work, but some mindless physical stuff. Washing dishes, folding laundry, using the treadmill, etc. But rather than being pleased that I'm saying the rosary, I've been feeling guilty that I can't sit still (or kneel!) and just. pray.

I've had a lifelong interest in/struggle with the whole Martha/Mary scenario. I've always been a Martha and always felt that I should be more of a Mary. I can be contemplative, I can sit still, I can pray. But shit needs to get done, and someone needs to do it. A lot of the time, that someone is me.

Recently - within the last year - it dawned on me that Martha became a saint, too. Ah ha!!! I started feeling better about being so busy; about being so "anxious and troubled about many things" (Luke 10:41). Ok, so it is better to be sitting at the feet of Jesus, prayerfully conversing with him, turning our minds to higher matters. But Martha became a saint, too! I thought: she must have done something right! Right??

Well, tonight I had a new revelation. Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen the better portion and it wouldn't be taken from her. He did not, however, tell Martha to be another Mary. And I think this is how Martha became a saint. She did what she was supposed to do. She stopped worrying about what Mary was or wasn't doing; she stopped looking outward to see how other people were serving our Lord. As I'm fond of bringing up: she kept her eyes on her own work.

God calls us to know, love, and serve Him, but only as each of us can serve Him.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be?
~ 1 Corinthians 12:14-19

So, I've decided I don't need to become Mary. Or Martha. I need to be me. I need to become the best possible version of me. I need to be who God made me to be. When I'm required to behave as Mary did, I should do that. When I'm required to behave as Martha did, I should do that. But I'm going to have to do everything as me, because that's who God chose for the job.

And to realize I'm already fully qualified is quite a relief.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Feeling Like the Titanic - in More Ways than One.

I need a makeover. Spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally. I am a wreck. And because I’m so far from where I want to be in all of those areas, when I think about all I want to change, I get overwhelmed. I start to feel like I’m drowning, and with every attempt to get my head above water, I push myself further and further beneath the surface. Glub. Glub. Glub. Glub.

I am a Catholic. I was raised Catholic. I’ve never not been Catholic. I went through my phases in college and young-adulthood where I certainly wasn’t living a very Catholic lifestyle - but I always felt very bad about it. I never considered not being Catholic. I like being Catholic. So it would stand to reason that I am happiest when I’m being a good Catholic. Now, of course, this could mean lots of things to lots of people – even within circles of “good Catholics.” To me, it means not only fulfilling the bare minimum obligations of going to church on Sundays and holy days, going to confession once a year, receiving communion, etc. Those things are a given. For me, what I aspire to is a more meaningful prayer life (read: a prayer life, period.) I want to take what I have learned from the Gospel and the lives of the saints and implement those things in my own life. I want to lead a life that, even if I were on hidden camera, anyone watching would know I was a Catholic and I could be proud of my behavior. This is not, um, currently the case.

I’ve been at the same weight, within 5 lbs., for about 2 years. My mother congratulates me on this. “Wow! You’re so good at maintaining your weight!” Sigh. Yes. I suppose I am. The problem is, this is not the weight I want to maintain. I want to get down another 10-15 lbs. and then maintain that weight. The problem isn’t a lack of knowledge, or lack of a plan, or trying so hard and nothing working. The problem is me. I am the self-sabotage master! I am a pro at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I will lose a pound and then hope I'll somehow continue to coast downward while I scarf down several handfuls of spicy almonds, and chocolate cake, and ice cream. I end up feeling like a blubbery, roly-poly, jiggly marshmallow. Boooo.

Sucking at so much takes a toll on a person. It gets inside your head that you suck, and then you can’t hear anything else. Every kid’s whine, every dirty dish, every dusty surface, every lame text message adds its voice to the one in your head. It’s a chorus of “yoooooouuuuuu suuuuuuccccckkkkk.” And repeatedly hearing that you suck might possibly, if you're someone like me, make you cry. Cry, cry, cry. Last night, I thought I lost my ipod. Even worse, I thought it was stolen by the 2-year-old, which pretty much meant I would never see it again. I spent a good half hour - after everyone had gone to bed and after I should have been in bed - searching and bawling, bawling and searching. I wasn't crying JUST about the ipod, of course, but it certainly set things in motion.

I can't think straight lately. I'm easily distracted. I miss the point of jokes and cause trouble when I say "what?" too many times. I'm listening, I just don't get what people are saying!! I tried calculating the difference in race times the other day and got it wrong. A very simple problem, and I didn't even catch the mistake until several days later. I used to be a math whiz, of sorts. I got a 730 on my math SAT's (a few <ahem> years ago). And now I can't subtract??  I even misplace things - like ipods.*

I'm at a point where I feel like Frances at a certain part in Under the Tuscan Sun. I tried to edit down this video, but couldn't. The part I'm talking about is from 6:52-7:55. (But I do recommend the whole movie. It's one of my favorites!)

"You're sad! Again! You're like a big black hole!"

Yes, that's me. A big black hole of misery. I'm feeling hopeless and crappy and crappy and hopeless. And bitchy.

Sigh.  I attribute a lot of these feelings to PMS, but I hate to say "PMS" because I don’t think most people take it seriously. I think it’s safe to say that 90% of the world sees PMS the way it’s caricatured in sitcoms. “Yeah, yeah, yeah – it must be her time of the month. What a bitch!” But for me, and surely others(?), it’s a very real internal warzone that wreaks havoc on every aspect of my life. It’s not as simple as being in a bad mood. I feel like a completely different person who can’t get out of my own way, and I can’t sidestep the nastiness no matter how hard I try. (Please tell me I am NOT alone in this!!)

Remember in the movie E.T., how the flower - what was that? a marigold? - was somehow directly connected to E.T.'s well-being? When he was dying, the flower was dying; when he was coming back to life, the flower perked right up, and that's how Eliot knew he was going to be ok. Well, if you would like to know the state of my well-being - emotional, spiritual, physical, mental, whatever - take a look at the state of my house. If it's a mess, I'm probably a mess, too. If it's neat and tidy, then chances are I'm probably in pretty good shape, too. And I'm not sure which begets which, but it's probably a chicken-or-egg scenario. It doesn't really matter which comes first, though. Messy house = messy life. And right now, my house looks like someone turned it on its side, then upside-down, then right-side-up again.  Everything is kinda in the right place, but none of it's good.  It, like me, is a wreck.

So, if I can't fix me, I'll fix my house. I'll focus on these external things and hope to be miraculously internally transformed. I'll doing laundry. I'll sweep the kitchen. I'll clean the playroom. It will keep me busy and, more importantly, it will restore some of my sanity. And sanity is a good place to start.

*After finally giving up and going to bed, I found my ipod in my nightstand drawer - just where I had left it the night before.  Glub.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Much To-Do About Nothing

Whoooooops! I guess I forgot about this blog for a few days. So much for the 30-day challenge. But it's all good. I don't think I've disappointed too many readers (LOL!!) and I'm here now, so...

Today I want to talk about...[<pause> decide what you want to write about and then continue like it was your plan all along.]... Daily To-Do's! Ah yes, that's what I want to talk about!

I have been struggling with this for days, weeks, months - maybe even years. For me, it's not enough that things get done. It's not enough that they get done when they get done as long as they get done. No. I need things on a schedule so I know they'll get done *when* they're supposed to get done. They'll be done by the correct person at the correct time. My house will run like a well-oiled machine because every chore is clearly outlined on a calendar from now until the end of time!

<sigh.> Only in my dreams. And ok - that sounds a little crazy now that I type it out in black and white. But I do like things ordered. I do like things neat & tidy - - not just my house, but the manner in which I run my house. And it's not because I'm a control freak. Or, I should say, it's not just because I'm a control freak. It is also because I, like most people, don't enjoy chores and cleaning, and the more "automated" those kinds of tasks become, the less time they take to do, the less of a big deal they are, and the faster you can get on with life. And by life, I mean all the stuff we WANT to do!

But here's the problem. Every time I come up with a system, part of it works and part of it doesn't. So I keep readjusting and reformulating and redesigning, and we end up with NO PLAN AT ALL. If I were my kids, I'd get pretty frustrated that I couldn't just pick something and stick with it. But they're young and they'd get in trouble if they told me that, so I'm safe for another year or two.

My latest plan involves a large magnetic white board. Ideally, this is what will be on it for each new day:
  • the day of the week
  • the date
  • the day's forecasted weather (so the kids know what to wear)
  • the day's planned dinner (so I'm forced to think about it before 4:59pm)
  • each person's chores/plans for the day
  • any additional notes about that day (birthday party, playdate, holiday, etc.)

It will be a nice little (ok, not-so-little) hub of information for the whole family. Some things (the weather, dinner) will just be for reference. Others (everyone's chores) will be for checking off. The kids will know what they need to do (without being nagged by Mama). I will have good reminders for the stuff I want to get done. I really think things will run more smoothly around here. Or, at least I will feel like they are running more smoothly - - and that's what it's really all about! How Mama feels!

I'll try to check back when I get everything in place and let you all know how it's working. Or how it's not working - and how I plan to fix it.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Just Showing Up, Folks.

I'm in such a foul mood today.  It's one of those days where I want to disconnect from all social networking, cancel all communication with the outside world, and move to a cave in the mountains (in a warm climate where there are no dangerous animals, of course).

I've wasted my whole damn day making invitations for my son's birthday party, taking waaaaay longer than I needed to, and they still came out relatively lame.
I haven't exercised.  I haven't prayed.  I'm living like a person who's depressed.  Am I depressed?  Maybe.  But to admit that is to admit that I'm being selfish because I always think selfishness is at the root of depression.
So, am I being selfish?  Oh, most likely.  Man.  I hate it when I figure out stuff I don't want to know.
Suck it up, chick.  Get movin'!