Parent is Also a Verb 11/28/22

Candy canes and popcorn chains

Ribbons and bows with pretty boxes below

What does your Christmas look like? Do you have family traditions from your childhood you’re now incorporating into the individual, couple, or all-in-with-kids Christmas you’re designing? Or not. Intentionally free of those reminders? Hanukkah? Kwanzaa? Doing your own thing?

I propose that having family traditions is a very good thing. Not any in particular, in my mind. Ones that make sense to you. Going together for a family drive to see lights and decorations, choose a tree, play in the snow and then drink some cocoa? Decorating cookies, putting up decorations (many made at school) indoors and out?

My husband and I were free to make our own traditions, as my parents were quite flexible once grandchildren arrived, especially; and my in-laws were all a thousand miles away. My father started a Christmas Eve tradition during my teen years (youngest of three daughters) which is kinda funny because he was an atheist; we had steak and seafood for dinner on Christmas Eve. My husband and I have continued the surf ‘n turf each of the 30 years we’ve been married. Popular with all. Ha ha

Tell you what, holidays change once you have children so this it’s a great opportunity to decide how you want to do things. Some that we kept up or chose were custom decoration on stockings upon arrival, angel on top of the tree, bead garlands, wreaths on the front door, both inside and out. The best tradition we had for the youngest years was a visit to the same Santa every year until my boys declined, when the oldest was nine. Such fun to have the exact same Santa in the picture year after year. Without a doubt, that is the favorite part of Christmas each year for all of us, looking back. So sweet.

Many “traditions” wandered in and out, lasting just a few years. From the time our sons were early grade school, I took down all the pictures, both large and small, in our living room, wrapped them to look like presents, and put them back up. Until my health started to unwind. I loved picking out the wrapping for next year’s Christmas when there are sales just after. The next year I’d get a great “surprise” when I retrieved that paper in early December!

We went together every year to get a live Christmas tree at a farm nearby, then an outdoor tree lot, and eventually an artificial tree for which my husband stood in line at 6 am on Black Friday, waiting two hours to get a really good deal on a great looking prelit fake tree, and he got the last one! Score! That tree has been really good at pretending for a decade plus. Now, the kids are gone and I’m not physically able to decorate. We do have some wonderful, solid Christmas decor my parents gave our family over the years including a really large nutcracker, a chess set, angels for the mantle and a beautifully lit, in motion little train and track snowglobe.

No matter how big or small, cost free or spending extra, extra for the season, generational or new, traditions are important because they provide a ribbon of continuity through these people we call family. The joy of having traditions will reveal itself when your loved ones begin to reminisce about holidays past. When I was a child, I loved decorating sugar cookies in holiday shapes, so I brought that into my sons’ experience. The second year in, they have a sense of anticipation when the ingredients were assembled. Some traditions take longer to be appreciated but may be sweeter for having needed time to age. My adult sons sharing their Christmas memories make all the mess, time, frazzle, and impatience, theirs and mine, worth it.

And, so, the value of traditions, whether holiday, camping in summer, sports, etc., is that it provides a sense of belonging, which is incredibly necessary. If we don’t feel as though we belong, 100%, no reservations in our family or friends group, we will seek it. Perhaps we look into the fridge for it or into a bottle or in a group of people who will take us in, though might not bring out our best. This applies equally to your children. If they’re not getting it from you, they’ll figure out a way to numb that ache or, worse, they’ll just feel it gnawing inside and feed it with anger, violence, self-harm or be on the news for all the wrong reasons.

This is a call to action – parent is also a verb, ya know. Start with a couple easy traditions to try out this year. You’re not committing to a lifetime. Your family gets to choose. Seize the opportunity!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo by Kranthi Remala on Pexels.com

Thankful. Receiving blessings. Acknowledging what’s good and right in our lives. I am most thankful for my family and friends, Their love sustains me. I am grateful for our dog, my constant companion. Having food to eat, a warm house, operating vehicles, medical insurance, a comfortable bed, and a safe neighborhood make me one of the luckiest people in the world. I’m appreciating life today.

Whatever your Thanksgiving Day holds, my sincerest hope for you is that you are able to appreciate your life, whatever it is. I am thankful for you.

What Would You Like?

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Caesar, chef, spinach, chopped, taco, spring…..salad! I love some good greens as a side or as the meal itself. How about a store-bought garlic roll requiring just a couple minutes in the microwave? You must pick one salad and one brand of rolls. Do you want to eat those two foods over & over & over?

My mother-in-law shops at Wal-Mart where my husband and I choose not to do any business. Not long after she moved in, about as soon as she felt comfortable driving to the closest Wal-Mart, (This was the first place she really wanted to reach solo.) she brought home a few, varied, individually packaged salads as well as some garlic dinner rolls in a foil bag. Unaware that Karen had purchased the salads, I was pleasantly surprised to find them in our fridge. She has her own refrigerator downstairs and, so, keeps things there. I told my husband I enjoyed having a salad for lunch. He explained his mom had brought those home and he didn’t know why she put them upstairs. He must’ve mentioned that I ate and enjoyed the salad. Likewise, after having the rolls with a dinner my husband made, we commented that they were good and thanked her for providing them.

Oh my gawd. The woman obviously took note that the first salad I’d eaten was a caesar salad because she buys them every time she goes to Wal-Mart for anything, caesar salads and packages of the garlic rolls. Personally, I try not to eat caesar’s often because the dressing is high in fat. Additionally, I limit the amount of bread in my diet, including dinners. How to politely request she stop bringing these home???

Why does she purchase these, and only these, foods every f*cking time she comes back from that megastore? What do you think? Why do you think she’s doing this? Feel free to let me know in the comments.

My take? This reminds me of the period of time when my sister-in-law was dying of ALS. Early days, she was able to eat and continued to handle intake by mouth for a fairly long time. When my father-in-law failed from ALS, he lost his ability to swallow quickly. Yes, as rare as it is, ALS is genetic in my husband’s family. Anyhoo, and I will get back to salads and rolls, my mother-in-law lived a couple hours north of her daughter. Her effort to “do her part” was coming down every other Saturday, though they were retired and could’ve come weekdays and/or more frequently, to sit on the couch after bringing Steph some food she enjoyed. That was it. She didn’t offer to help or provide respite for the other 24/7 caregivers, including my husband’s stepmother. She sat on the sofa for about three hours, she and her husband talking, talking, talking about people and things, mostly of no import, and then they would go home.

My mother-in-law said she couldn’t leave her husband home alone, but she could’ve. They couldn’t stay more than a few hours because of the pets at home, which had been Steph’s, and they couldn’t drive in the dark. There was absolutely no effort to care physically for her daughter, come on a weekday to run errands or pick up necessaryy equipment/items, or stay the night to allow those regular caregivers a night off. She decided what showing a mother’s love in these circumstances looked like and that was final. Whenever the opportunity presented itself, she reported that she brought food. This routine was followed, being altered only when chewing was no longer possible.

Then, my sister-in-law could not eat. My mother-in-law expressed to me she didn’t know what to do what to do for her. She discussed the foods she’d brought, the history of Steph having mentioned these, where she and her husband went to pick them up, and how much my sister-in-law loved it, all of this to show she did go out of her way, literally. Given that no food could be offered any longer, I explained that she couldn’t show her love that way anymore. She immediately responded by saying something like, “Yeah, but she really loved those fish & chips,” or burrito, or whatever. As I tried to nudge her away, she clung to how well she’d done bringing delicious treats.

Finally, I interrupted and told her in no uncertain terms, she needed to move on, that she could not express her love of my SIL by providing food purchased at a fast food joint any longer. I encouraged her to help care for her daughter. She said, “Yeah, but I don’t know how and I don’t want to get in the way.” To which, I explained she could massage Steph’s feet or lotion her hands. My SIL loved having fingers run through her hair with nails lightly raked across her scalp. I felt like these activities weren’t invasive, so as not to be uncomfortable for my MIL (as though that was important). And again she spoke of bringing food and how much joy that had provided. It was painful to see her resistance to suggestions of how to care for her only daughter and, worse, seeming to avoid touching my SIL other than a kiss hello and one for goodbye. What are your thoughts about why she didn’t?

My MIL couldn’t imagine ways to show love to her dying daughter that my SIL would appreciate. I don’t think she gave it a thought. Even when I provided examples, the only perspective through which she cared to view my SIL’s illness and approaching death was her own. She cannot or will not stretch outside her well-defined, solidly-walled box.

Returning to the present, of course, we’d thanked her for those very first contributions and politely appreciated how good they were. That was it. It felt good to her. She was contributing and everybody knew it. She’s locked in. There is no need to look for other ways to contribute, not even other foods that might be enjoyed. She found the routine that’s easy and makes her feel good, and stopped there. Why is this?

Over the years, I’ve discovered my mother-in-law is quite concrete. She doesn’t use her imagination or try to do things outside her comfort zone. As an example, with her three grandkids living at a distance, for birthdays and holidays over decades MIL has sent cards with cash, explaining it would be difficult for her to shop, wrap, and send gifts. Our sons did look forward to her cards, for sure, but I knew she was avoiding having to ask or think about what they might enjoy at each stage in growing up, make the effort to shop and, additionally, she didn’t like wrapping and sending things. Probably, she’s never even considered the delight unwrapping a gift would have given her grandchildren when they were young, outweighing the minor inconvenience on her part.

A few days ago, my niece gave birth to twin boys. I told MIL I’d had so much fun shopping for baby boy items online, having sent them directly to my niece. She said, “Oh, I don’t shop online and if I shopped here at a store I’d go nuts, but then I’d have to wrap and send them. I sent a card with cash so they can buy what they want.” This is my dead sister-in-law’s only child and she’s got a baby registry at a nationwide store.

Years ago when she was here for my son’s high school graduation, I watched her play checkers against her engineer husband and it was very revealing. I may even have been the one who suggested they play. This was the first time in her life she’d played checkers. She had trouble following how one can move on the board, experienced frustration very quickly when she had difficulty, and was a sore loser. She doesn’t play games, ever, and I’m sure she won’t play checkers again.

Thus, we find ourselves in a touchy situation. How do we communicate to her that we don’t want her to keep bringing home caesar salads and garlic rolls. My husband liked the rolls first time around, but they are getting really old even for him; we still have two packages we haven’t used. Maybe I sound unappreciative to you and I am now. I appreciated her specific contributions early on, but I didn’t imagine that thanking her would result in these same items coming home every time she stops at her big box store of choice. Does she imagine we would want to eat these same foods repeatedly? No, she doesn’t imagine and it works for her. Should we not say anything? Let salads and rolls pile up? Keep eating them so she feels good? Oh, the hurt feelings she will most likely suffer at the suggestion we don’t want to keep eating these same things every few days. What would you say, or would you?

My German MIL lives with us now. Forever. We could handle this relatively petty situation by ignoring it, if she was just here for a few months; but shouldn’t we deal with these uncomfortable encounters rather than just acting to avoid them? Her concrete, self-centered thinking is going nowhere. And neither is my frustration with it. This is illustrative of how she will be handling any number of circumstances over the next many years. Any recommendations on how to handle thorny, every day topics are greatly appreciated. And on we go….

What’s Up, Doc?

All right, readers;

I’m going to do my best to to write about anything except fibromyalgia, depression, or suicide in the coming weeks. Those that follow along will know I’ve been preoccupied with an unsuccessful medication switch and return to original. Back to where I was at the beginning of September, I’ll appreciate the pain it covers as it reaches treatment level, having seen how I feel without it.

Upcoming holidays will no doubt give me fodder, especially my husband’s work Christmas event. New posts about parenting are on my mind, and I’ll continue letting you in on how it’s going with my German mother-in-law living with us.

In the past, I’ve kept my blog apolitical for the most part. Faced with government/top secret documents found at Mar-a-Lage and Trump running for president again, I’ll do whatever I can, in my small way, to prevent Trump from returning to the White House. Patriotism, honesty, integrity, and trust will motivate my political perspective and my vote. Maybe I should put a CAUTION: when I write on this topic.

Reaching out to readers who visit my blog has been very constructive for me; it energizes me and lifts me up despite fatigue, mental fog, and muscle spasms. Of course, I never know who or how many will see a particular missive, but I write as though a few close friends are interested in what I have to say. Thank you, my friend.

Whoop, There It Is

Warning: This post includes discussion of suicide. If you need help, call 988 to speak with a mental health professional right now.

This tattoo was a symbol of choosing life when I committed to my first real ink art in November of 2021. Suicidal ideation has been a close companion daily for many years, and I’m so tired of the weighing and wondering all aspects of what it would mean to escape the darkness and pain. The choice wasn’t made during a time when things were looking up; there hasn’t been one of those. It was made while wading through difficult, sick days, to once and for all stop the roiling of thoughts about taking the final act or not to act.

The last post I published laid bare the pain of accepting my circumstances. This is it. So, now, there it is – I made a commitment to choosing life nearly a year ago. I made that promise to myself. Whether I chose life out of love to friends & family, fear of the unknown, or the desire to stop ruminating on suicide is of no concern. Consideration was given and an option selected. Move on, I said to myself.

As I searched through my pictures for one to illustrate my fatigue and hopelessness, I came across this promise tattooed to myself. It’s forever on my leg, but I don’t give it much thought. I’m going to plug back into that earlier frame of mind. When recurring thoughts about whether or not to complete suicide travel through my mind, I will turn my attention to these flowers. Not only that, when despair settles in due to pain, nausea, vertigo, depression and/or anxiety, this tattoo will give me permission to untether those concerns. They don’t deserve my attention. Now, whether or not I can follow the path I’m trying to plow, I have no idea.

Major relief has been achieved by my visit to my mother yesterday. I decided if I’m going to go somewhere in spite of my condition, my mom’s new place would be first. She’s in her 80’s and, last August, moved out of the home she shared with my late father. There’s no reason to wait until cross-town travel is “easier” or “better.” It’s not going to be. My tattoo can be a reminder of this, too. The trip to my mom’s was great! It was soothing to my soul. She has a nice, bright apartment and is content. I’d been spending a lot of my time feeling like a shitty daughter because I haven’t been able to assist with the sale of her old house or the move. I’m not able to drive her to appointments. Seeing her in her new home helps me breathe more easily.

Did the hour round-trip as a passenger cause increased pain? Yes, it did. Seemed all of the muscles that are most likely to spasm joined together and cramped all at once. I also experienced vertigo and nausea. No surprise. Today is definitely for recovery, maybe tomorrow too. Though, in truth, an outsider would have difficulty seeing a difference between those and “normal” days. I’ll be asking for my husband to help me more than usual; there it is.

Unexpectedly, my mental function took quite a hit. My ability to find words, think clearly, and operate my phone or laptop were all seriously impacted. I’m still working through the brain bog. Overall, very much worth the price to embrace my mom. Next weekend, I’m going to try going out to breakfast.

I asked my husband if it was important to him that I go out and do things. He explained that having seen what fibro flares do to me, it’s not high on his list of priorities. He said it wasn’t worth it to him to have me suffer for it. He gets it. We’ll see how breakfast goes next week. On and on and on and on goes life.

Thanks for listening – you know what I mean.

This Is It

In some cases, the difficult questions do eventually cul-de-sac into answers, whether we like them or not. One of my most challenging quests has been to find relief for my fibromyalgia. Is there anything out there that will address the whole enchilada? The answer has become quite clear. No more wondering or searching.

This chronic illness is here to stay and nothing will actually address the overall effect it has on me and my life. Following an MRI in September and an unsuccessful attempt to switch from my fibro med to a very popular one benefitting many folks, the medical answer is clear. There is no “cure” or “solution.” The best I will do is treat symptoms.

After many, many years, the unanswered question is resolved for me. Instead of waiting until I feel better, I must go ahead with whatever activity I desire, just knowing I will need a couple days afterwards to recover. I’ll pace myself with no more than one outing a week for now and see how it goes.

A new phase of my chronic illness begins, ignoring my symptoms to do things that hurt. My first activity in this new vein is visiting my mother in her new place. My husband will drive because I don’t think I can actually drive the distance without my muscles seizing. I’m rarely able to load or empty the dishwasher completely pain and spasm free.

While I’m not excited (about anything really), I will begin doing activities I hoped to do after I’d found some kind of relief. How painful will it be? We’ll see.

‘We wake up and take the indicated action.’ 

Christina Applegate has multiple sclerosis. She’s had it for a while. In an article, (link below) she spoke briefly about her experience since being diagnosed. The quote above shares a perspective of one of her M.S. friends.

“…It’s been a tough road. But as we all know, the road keeps going. Unless some a**hole blocks it. As one of my friends with MS said, ‘We wake up and take the indicated action.’ And that’s what I do.”

As I accept that the new medication I’ve tried recently, after transitioning from one med I’ve taken for years, is not for me (It actually gave me worse fibro symptoms,) and the MRI scan from September shows nothing that would contribute, I get it. This is my fibro life. Of course, now I’m reverse engineering the med switch to return to the rx that was working, per doctor’s orders. I wasn’t aware of the pain it covered until I stopped it. Because I still have a very hard time just functioning daily doesn’t mean I’m not benefitting. I was actually unknowingly enjoying an absence of arthritic pain in my thumbs, neck, and back. I wasn’t having daily, severe headaches. I’m sure there’s more but I’m tired.

As was the case with the original switcheroo, my blog writing may vary. I’m going to wake up each day and take the indicated action.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/christina-applegate-reveals-she-gained-40-lbs-after-ms-diagnosis-26-admits-she-e2-80-99s-e2-80-98never-going-to-accept-e2-80-99-the-disease/ar-AA13EU2I

Searching for Peace

Caution: Frank discussion of suicide. If you need help, call 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline to speak to mental health professionals.

She danced and traveled. She was an accomplished psychiatric nurse and author. A searcher, she was seeking answers, solutions, alternatives. She provided support, encouragement, friendship and love to more people than we’ll ever know. She suffered clinical depression and it was fatal.

Her manner of death was suicide but the cause of death should be listed as depression. When you have an incurable case of major depression and the treatments don’t seriously alleviate your pain and darkness. when self-care isn’t enough, the desire for peace doesn’t cease.

People say you have to accept your circumstance and make the most of it. For some people, the only way to optimize is to stop. Stop everything.

My friend, Ashley Peterson, previously wrote on her blog at mentalhealthathome.org that her prior suicide attempts occurred when the unlivability of her illness outweighed concern about hurting others. That must be exactly what unfolded on October 9, 2022.

Wanting to avoid causing pain to my wonderful family and friend is, for all intents and purposes, what keeps me from choosing to end my life when I come to those forks in the road. Intermittently over the years, I’ve thought about suicide. How? When? Where? Not a serious consideration of ‘this door or that?’ but quite similar to thinking about an upcoming trip or an event, rolling over possibilities, including imagining the pain it would cause. I think, “Yeah, but people die everyday. Families and friends are suffering loss all the freakin’ time. They’ll grieve, but they’ll get over it. Whereas, I am not able get over fibromyalgia or depression. There is no end to my grief.” During the darkest hours of this punishing depression, I come to that damn fork in the road. Do I check out, put an end to the torture? Fnally opting for the one treatment I know for sure will end the burdens of me and provide peace, whatever that looks like OR do I delay the upset and heartache that will descend upon my family and friends as soon as mine rests. Because I am incredibly empathic, I can feel the magnitude of the sadness that would result for my husband, sons, mom, sisters, close friends. I’ve lived to love these people and cannot bring myself to visit darkness upon them. I’m not going to be responsible for causing sorrow to the people for whom I’ve been weaving love and compassion all these years. In the end, so far, I find myself not choosing in order to choose,

Although I’ve become exceedingly familiar with depression and suicidal thoughts over the past 20+ years suicide I’ve never understood copycat suicides. Until now. I AM NOT SUICIDAL, just to be clear. My lovely friend chose suicide on October 9, though I didn’t learn of it until October 29. I am devastated, but I also know Ashley came to a place that was unlivable. Yes, she knew it would rock the world for those of us who love her, share with her, exchange support with her, but it couldn’t be avoided.

And then I think, “If Ashley, a psychiatric nurse who traveled the world alone, wrote books, blogged, provided crucial support to others daily, if she couldn’t find any other way, I’m really not going to be able to cure my disease or even get seriously on top. What chance do I have?” There comes the choice between Door A or Door B. The copycat suicides are people who have already been suffering and considering how to get out of the pain. It’s been mulled over and over. Then, they see a person with whom they identify, decide enough. When Ashley died, I thought to myself, “I’m going to end up there anyway. If it’s permissible for this amazing person to choose peace over depression, maybe I can, too.” I wonder. Yesterday, I made the choice to not linger. I know the longer I ruminate over the life and death of Ashley, the harder it will be to change course.

Blogging is how I knew Ashley. So this blog post is how I’m grieving her and grieving loss of hope. These are thoughts that have emerged from, literally, decades of suicidal thinking. A person can have suicidal thinking without being suicidal.

To anyone at the fork in the road, for the first time or the 100th, far be it from me to offer advice but I can provide support. Call 988 to talk with a mental health professional about what’s going on in your life. All I can say is, for me, I don’t choose. My choice is to not choose this way or that at the fork. I suppose I just hang out there, breathe, and write – or play a mindless game, or tweet, tribel, talk, tv; anything to distract. There are periods of my life where suicidal thinking just glances off my day and I don’t go down deep enough for suicidal thinking to overcome, wrap me up, forcing me to choose again. There is hope for less. Though, all of this is just this person’s experience.

Ashley

Sensitive post w/discussion about suicide.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My friend & fellow blogger, Ashley Peterson, isn’t with us anymore and I’m so damn sad. She befriended me in my early blog days three years ago. She (I don’t want to use past tense) was amazing. Her website is mentalhealthathome.org. She wrote posts and books, did movie reviews, shared her struggles, and was incredibly supportive to a lot of people who were suffering, too. I love her. While I’m incredibly heartbroken right now, I equally understand and honor her choice. It does stir up a lot of thoughts and emotions in me, but Ashley would say “Ugh” and say something perfectly encouraging. I miss her.

Peace to Ashley

Hopeless

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

After completing the difficult transition from one fibromyalgia medication to another, my doctor and I had a virtual follow-up appointment. I absolutely LOVE virtual visits from the comfort of my home. This one, though, was quite discouraging.

I’d read that many people react to this new med right away but some take a few weeks to feel results. It’s been that long . Because I want this new solution so bad, I continue looking for signs this prescription is helping, even though it has been a month and pain has not subsided. For example, I have a bad headache for at least part of each day, which I wasn’t suffering while on the old med. Herein lies the rub. Are the headaches from quitting the old rx, a regular fibro phase of a symptom, or side effect of new rx? Whatever the cause, there is a wide range of character of pain at sites throughout my body.

As I scanned the notes I’d taken over the past few weeks (I’m learning) and reported my pain and possible side effects, my doc asked what I wanted to do. When I questioned her about the possibility the new med is just taking longer, she was not convinced. “We can try longer if you want but it doesn’t seem like it’s working.” I decided to take the new med one more month at a slightly higher dose than typically prescribed. At that point, I will know for sure if it’s effective for me.

What this means/where this leaves me: Following testing I underwent in September and now this attempted medication switch, there is a level of comfort in knowing I’ve tried what I can medically. Then I really think about that – I’ve tried what I can medically. I feel less hope than I did before these efforts.

Rather than looking for treatment, I must explore how I want and am able to live my fibro life. However, when I “plan” what I’m going to do and how often, (stretching, walking, etc.), inevitably a wrench is thrown in the works. Before I decide how I’d like to spend my days, considerable thought will go into how I structure any kind of routine and what Plan B means.

Sigh.

p.s. After increasing the dosage, I’m having adverse side effects. Calling doc on Monday to see about switching back to previous med.

Fibro & More Fibro

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In the midst of transitioning from one fibromyalgia to another, I am feeling fibro. The fatigue is very heavy. Use of muscle relaxer and/or a med to take for nausea cause extra tiredness so, of late, I’m very reluctant to take either because it just lays me out. Not having much, if any, response to the new med as well as avoidance of treatment prescriptions combine to cause a full fibro slate of symptoms.

“Which symptoms are in response to discontinuing one long-term prescription, fibro lay bare, or side effects from starting the new?” Hell if I know.

Recently, I saw a post somewhere asking people to share which symptom of fibromyalgia they find most surprising, one of the respondents answered by saying that fibromyalgia leads to so many problems, she can’t tell what’s a fibro symptom apart from other issues. I agree with her answer but it’s not so high on the surpriso-meter for me.

Predicting continued widespread pain following my diagnosis, I hadn’t anticipated the sick feeling that develops over the day typically, though can be there upon waking, is so hard to describe. I may look fine but the fibro sickness, for me, feels uncomfortable in my chest but it’s not the flu, nausea at the diaphragm and stomach but not from eating something ‘bad’ as well as general feelings of malaise and fatigue but no fever.

In early days, I wouldn’t have guessed that I’d be experiencing this “sick.” Maybe I’m doing when the sun comes up and I’ve moved some, best time of day for me, and then suddenly I’m miserably ill. The rx I use for nausea is prescribed for chemo patients. The muscle relaxer is quite strong as well and I usually end up needing to take it at some point in the day. The anti nausea remedy is necessary in waves.

“You’re not going anywhere or doing anything. Take the medication you require, and so what if it knocks you out?” I say to myself. In the evening, I sleep about 11 hours on average, though with a couple trips to the restroom. Snoozing for two hours in the afternoon, the usual length of a “nap,” erases a good fraction of my time going nowhere. Not that missing two hours of my agenda is a bad thing.

I’m not sure why I resist it so, the respite beginning at one or two o’clock. One reason I do identify is that it’s nearly impossible for me to escape the dozing mindscape even after my eyes open. It causes me to stay awake an hour or two later which ver y often results in a late sleep-in the next morning. “So what?” I don’t know. Maybe it’s an effort to control something.

It may take weeks for me to feel the full effect of my the new med but I wanted to react right away. I hope it does kick in at some point. If this medication isn’t helpful, I will despair.

So, just checking in for a minute. I’m generally in a cruddy condition; not proofreading right now but publishing anyway and don’t know how long it will be before I write again. Hope this finds you well.

Can’t Think of a Title

Stress from chronic illness and pain due to fibromyalgia exacts a toll on my whole body, including my brain. I have to remind myself continually that there is no need for flight, fight, or freeze at this moment, no threat, in an effort to decrease the stress hormones flooding my systems. This morning, befuddled am I. One medication has been removed from my regimen and the new one is on board. Unfortunately, it may take weeks to feel the full effect. So, pain is unmasked and I generally feel as though I’m in a doctor’s waiting room, expecting the results of a test that will either give me what I need to get out of my bed, going and doing, or I will receive indications from the outcome that where I am is where I’ll be. I’m in a holding pattern.

If the new medication is a good fit for me, I don’t foresee a huge improvement suddenly one day. It will likely appear gradually, having a bit more interest or energy that increases over time. I want this sooo bad.

Previously, I remarked to readers that I would notify them of a new post about my mother-in-law by adding “& More” to titles. Please disregard. She lives with us. She is part of what’s going on in my life, so she’ll be included in any newsy posts.

Yesterday my mother-in-law, who’s been living with us for over a month now, went to get new license plates for her car. She’d already done the legwork for a new driver’s license. She came home with the new plates saying, “Now, it’s official! I’m a resident of this state. The gal at the licensing place said, ‘Congratulations! You’re official,'” she reported excitedly. I admit I did feel a little gut punch.

Next, she said, “I thought about wearing a bracelet my mother gave me today. I figure if Sara can wear her new bracelet (received from my husband for my birthday last week) just to lay in bed, I can wear my jewelry. I didn’t, though, because I would’ve had to change clothes. I can’t wear nice jewelry with this,” indicating her clothing, which was leggings and a t-shirt. My reaction? I turned down the hallway to my bedroom and said, “Oh yeah. You can wear jewelry anytime! I LOVE my new bracelet.”

Wolf, my husband, explained, “I thought the same thing at first, that no one would see it, but if she wants a tennis bracelet and it makes her happy, why not?”

I’ve noticed that my MIL doesn’t ask me anything or share family news with me. After my husband gets home, she’ll say, “I was going to empty the dishwasher but I didn’t know how to open it,” or ask other household questions. For the record, pulling the door open is how one opens the dishwasher. A couple of days ago, I heard her mentioning something to Wolf about our niece who is very pregnant with twins, but I couldn’t hear what she said. Yesterday, I shared that I’d heard her mention the name of our niece and asked what the news was. She seemed a little bit surprised, like why would I ask or need to know about my sister-in-law’s daughter.

When I noted that MIL doesn’t communicate with me about anything, Wolf said, “Well, you like to limit interaction with her. I read your blog,” and smiled. I’m reminded it’s all about perspective.

More & More

Photo by Vlad Cheu021ban on Pexels.com

Living with my German mother-in-law looks different than I thought it would after one month. It’s not as horrible daily as I thought it could be, given the many irritating, self-centered, and negative ways she’s behaved over the past 33 years. The biggest issue I had was the way she treated my dog. She brought her own dog and a cat. Both dogs are female (I call them ‘the girls’), black, about the same size & they’re each 10 years old. Of course, when the new group first arrived, my dog had to let them know that this is her house. Both dogs got their hackles up easily. My mother-in-law (MIL) kept yelling at my dog, afraid she would bite. I kept telling her over and over, our dog doesn’t bite, never has. She kept up her hypervigilance nonetheless.

One day, she told me my dog had growled at her. I was puzzled. Then, my husband gets the whole story out of her, including that she’d stood in the doorway, blocking my dog from entering the basement, and moving side to side as Bloo tried to pass. Next, MIL ‘pushed’ my dog with her foot. That’s when the growl occurred. Go figure. MIL’s tension and fear about the two dogs interacting was probably the cause of them not relaxing into knowing each other. They have become familiar, if not yet “friends.” My feeling about the living situation has improved as MIL has stopped yelling and being aggressive towards my dog.

One area of awkwardness I hadn’t anticipated revolves around Amazon. My MIL is very diligent about retrieving the mail every day, which is fine; more power to her. However, this means she is bringing in Amazon packages from our locked mailbox or parcel locker. Shopping on Amazon has become quite a hobby of mine. I literally buy anything I would put on the shopping list which would elicit, “What???” from my husband, the shopper. I don’t send him to find a specific makeup or personal care product or home & garden items we need, and I use that term loosely, for the house. I shop online. He pretty much only goes to the store for food items. Having your MIL calling out, “There’s a package here for you from Amazon,” is uncomfortable for me, especially when there is one about every other day or so. My husband urges me to get over it; he doesn’t want me to stop or change things I’ve done before MIL arrived. And it hasn’t slowed down my shopping much!

This subject did spur a disagreement between Wolf and I one evening, though. He’d encouraged me, in the privacy of our bedroom, to slow down with the Amazon shopping. He rejoined his mom in the kitchen/dining room area. When I finished my purchase of a couple of really cute things I wanted for my bathroom, I walked out to the kitchen saying, “The longer it takes to finish my bathroom, the more time I have to purchase items.” I didn’t give it a second thought that my MIL was right there; I was just being a smart ass, teasing. My husband was in a mood, though. He told me he was worried about things like buying groceries with the rising prices, though we both know we’re not going to starve. So, we ended up with a back-and-forth about things we spend money on in an effort to keep our sanity – he going for dinner and beers w/a friend, me buying three little frogs in yoga positions to put on the shelves when I ever get them. I’d continued to smile throughout the banter. When ruffled feathers calmed, I said to my husband, “You’re feisty tonight!” He replied, “I know. I’m in a bad mood.” His mother interjects, “You are?” She’d thought him reasonable and, probably, justified for trying to corral my spending. The next day, I had a couple Amazon packages arrive. “Awkward!” I said to Wolf. His standard reply these days, “Who cares what she thinks?”

Fast forward to last night. Although my MIL was downstairs, where she stays most of the time, I’m sure she could hear us in the kitchen. We have a split-level home and one can clearly hear others up and downstairs, unless specific measures are taken to keep a conversation under wraps. Anyhoo, my husband is watching news and tries to draw me into a discussion we’ve had many, many times and which never ends. It’s a topic on which we have differing views and are unable to sway the other’s. We hadn’t gotten into it for a long time and I didn’t want to go at it last evening. I tried stopping the madness before it started but was unsuccessful, and it played out predictably. Minutes in, Wolf said, “Nevermind. We’re never going to get anywhere,” I said very loudly, “EXACTLY! That’s why I tried to walk away once you began. It’s disrespectful for you to stir this up and then not honor my choice to not engage!” As I walked away, thus in the hallway at the top of the stairs, I finished with, “It’s bullshit!”

Soon after, I was on the phone with my mom who was looking for specific information from the family bible I’ve “inherited” with a family tree of my mother’s side. As we talked, I told her about the kerfuffle with Wolf. My husband, who is super close to my mom, chimed in a little in an attempt to soften his stance. My mom takes these things with a grain of salt and was amused by us. When the call ended, I pointed out to my husband that we were arguing with both our mothers as witnesses! Instead of wondering what my MIL thought, I found the whole situation amusing. It feels a bit like we’re on “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

Because she only comes upstairs for dinners, we really don’t interact much at all. I hadn’t considered she would keep herself to herself so much of the time. Not that I’m complaining! She speaks in German on the phone to her sister, who lives in Germany, telling her, I’m sure, the terrible way we “fight” and how I’m addicted to Amazon, so much so that we might not be able to afford food this winter! I breathe and hear my husband’s voice saying, “Who cares?!”

To Everything Turn, Turn, Turn

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My birthdays (I accidentally typed ‘girthdays’ which may be more appropriate!) aren’t such a big deal to me; I just consider it a day to pamper myself. Same ol’ same ol’ this year, my 58th birthday and I’m still so sick from changing medications for fibromyalgia.

This time, though, was different! My husband began my day by giving me a beautiful bracelet. I love it. This day, October 13th, I received a flower delivery, beautiful & funny cards, phone calls and text messages sprinkling throughout. My friends and family showered me with love. It was amazing. At the end of the day, my husband brought home fresh flowers! From beginning to end, this is one of the best birthdays, that are not decade transitions, I’ve ever had. There was no loneliness or sense of isolation. All the love is exactly what I needed. I thought to myself, “So, I can have a wonderful birthday even when I’m sick.” When I consider the pain & illness can’t be tolerated anymore and I weigh my options, this day just heavily weighted my scales in the direction of love and life.

Thanks, Mom
Really dislike taking, or seeing, selfies. This was the best I could do.

p.s. I’ve been putting on makeup most days. Even if I feel like shit, I don’t have to look like it. Of course, there are days, sometimes lots in a row, where I think of blush or mascara and say, “Fuck it.”

For Today

For this day, right here, right now, I will not think about what others think of me. Hopefully, I’ll do it again tomorrow.

p.s. Yes, I know they probably aren’t thinking about me right now, wherever they are!

My tattoo – nearly one year ink anniversary now.

HAHAHAHA – holy crap. My husband just texted and said, “I just checked out today’s post. That’s not your tattoo. That, my friends, is fibro fog. Please see the real tattoo below. So funny. I had pics of both in my media library.

F*cking FU%K

Yes, home remodels are notoriously late & over budget. I get it. Huge misunderstanding, though. I believed I had Alex the tile guy until my job was finished. No, if tile comes in on another job he’s doing for my husband, he’ll spend three or four days there. I know, what’s three or four days after waiting for FOUR F!CKING months – when my bathroom was supposedly going to be the first thing done!!!!

Photo by David Garrison on Pexels.com

In addition, Alex is sick. His assistant will be here but, even without the commercial job landing in the middle of mine, they won’t be tiling until Monday. Today is Tuesday.

The effects of going off my fibro med are being felt. This is not a good time for me. Of course, the day after I write about how excited I am with the project launch. Should’ve known better. I’m feeling crabby.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Countdown 3-2-! & More

Photo by Scott Webb on Pexels.com

Okay, my new bathroom tile will not look like this. Can you imagine? For my in-home spa (a very small en suite bathroom), I’m going for ‘serenity now & a laugh.’ But guess what, people! The tile setter is here working today and as many days as it takes!

Not sure why, but approaching my blog has been difficult recently. I visit my home page because I love to see the various countries in which readers reside. Though, no spark of interest in writing have I, nothing compelling or inspiring me.

Testing last week ruled out other possible causes of my symptoms. It’s “just” fibromyalgia. Next step, I’m switching fibro medication, hoping for some relief. The next month, or so, will be transitioning from one to the other, which will include going down to almost no fibro med before adding the new. I guess we’ll see how effective this one has been as I react to its absence. It likely will be an unpleasant month, hopefully not longer, based on my previous experience. Not sure what that means for my writing. If I post a Henny Penny message, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” know that it’s the dreadful journey from current baseline to new.

Things have gone well with my mother-in-law move in. Better than I had hoped. My counselor and I talked about how I spent a lot of negative energy heading into this. Witness to many family issues, some involving myself, over these many years, 32 of them, what I remember is that pretty much every time MIL was on the wrong side of history. I crowded all of these memories into one film reel in my mind and watched it over and over in the months leading up to her relocation. The fears were well-founded, but she really does live in her space downstairs, where I spent no time previously. My husband summed it up when he asked, “Is it not as bad as you thought it would be?” to which I agreed. He followed up, “She’s of no use but not bad.” True, true. I pictured her cleaning my house because she’s so particular and in some ways helping. She’s sees Wolf work looong days and spend all of his “spare” time working on house projects and sees first-hand my limitations, but doesn’t consider filling in the gap.

I’ve written much more than I’d intended. The pain in my neck-to-shoulder-to-elbow is very hard to ignore. Just wanting to say hello and share the launch of my bathroom tile installation; I know some of you have been following my angst over this project. Have a good day, all.

So Sick & More

This past week, I’ve been in bad shape physically. I have much to share but can’t put together a real post. Luckily, I’m having some testing Friday to rule out problems other than fibromyalgia.

The last post about the move-in of my mother-in-law ended on a positive note. Almost immediately after, I was irritated. Issue is dogs. I recognize I’ve been protective of mine like she’s my girl, because she is. The whole hypervigilance thing I explained a couple ‘& more’ posts back, became more of yelling at my dog to go upstairs, away from her and her pets. This happens more frequently when my husband is at work. One day, I heard her yelling, “Nein! Nein! Nein!” For those new to the saga, my mother-in-law is 100%, born-and-bred German. Maybe I should tell her my dog doesn’t speak the language. So funny.

Anyhoo, more later.

Parent is Also a Verb 9/15/22

There is much more a parent can do to assist a child’s with education besides standing over them, making sure they do homework. True support for learning can begin early in life, before a child begins kindergarten. Helping your child build scaffolding will improve experiences in school and not just reading.

Scaffolding? What the heck am I talking about?

Picture a building going up. It couldn’t reach new heights without scaffolding to assist in construction. We see serious scaffolding sometimes and others we see scant support, maybe worrying about the builders’ safety. Which building are you more comfortable with entering? riding the elevator? enduring an earthquake. Complex and thorough scaffolding allows for worker safety, confidence, and attention to detail.

How does this have anything to do with your child’s educational experience?

You have the ability to aid your child in constructing a great scaffolding which they will use in the future to support school instruction. Each time you read a book with your son or daughter, beginning when they’re infants, there is a new component. A trip to the park adds to the construct of a platform, ledge, trestle, etc. One trip to the neighborhood park, perhaps with lots of kids playing, contributes its own and another trip with a couple of dogs fussing with each other builds another. Trips to the store, visits with extended family, going to the zoo, or attending storytime at the nearby library all provide additional scaffolding.

A vitally important element for all people is learning about language. This is going to support a child, or adult, as they process what they’re reading, writing, and hearing. The more experience a young child gets with verbal and written words, symbols, speaking and writing, the more familiar they will be when they encounter similar language in new experiences or learning.

How does this relate to real life? What purpose does scaffolding serve?

If your child has had several dentist visits before they enter elementary school, they’re going to immediately relate to a story the teacher reads about going to the dentist. In their minds, without even realizing it, they’re relating this to their own visits to have their teeth cleaned and checked. The student has shorthand for relating to the story, the language. They may think or say, “Hey, I’ve been to the dentist!” The special chair, people involved, and ‘opening wide’ will register and allow for attention to be paid to what the characters are specifically saying and doing in this particular children’s book. Now, supposing the child has never been to the dentist. The word dentist has no independent meaning for them. They’re scanning pictures in an effort to connect meaning to what the teacher is reading. Because this child has to start by figuring out what is happening on a very basic level, they’re not as able to absorb the words and sentences being read in order to grasp the meaning.

When I taught in the Mojave desert, nearly two hours drive north of Los Angeles, between a third and a half of my students had never been to the ocean, more having never visited the L.A. Zoo or the L.A. Children’s Museum with interactive exhibits. Each year, the second graders had a field trip to the ocean shore of the Pacific Ocean and tidepools. Before going, there was much instruction given on oceans and sea life before a second-grade field trip to the tidepools at the shore of the Pacific Ocean. In those few weeks leading up, we helped our students build scaffolding for whatever level of familiarity they had, so as to encourage understanding and curiosity in their firsthand encounter. This is better than no scaffolding but the richer, more indepth support would be a previous visit to the ocean. If this wasn’t an option for the family, providing a vast array of experiences through early childhood reading is the next best thing. Maybe a child can’t relate to the movement of the tidewaters over their feet or identify a hermit crab when they’re in second grade but, with the addition of the teacher’s instruction and reading, the child’s scaffolding is stronger than a girl or boy only seeing pictures and hearing language about the ocean for the first time in the few weeks leading up to the field trip.

On the other hand, some of the children in my school’s area had horses at home. They had developed a great scaffold of meaning and experience regarding feeding, riding, brushing, saddling, etc.

Each year I had a handful of students who were very fluent in two languages, Spanish and English. My first year, some of those kids laughed when their teacher, me, didn’t know what ‘tio’ and ‘tia’ (uncle and aunt) meant when one little girl was telling me a story about her family. I had little Spanish scaffolding going in, but I made a concerted effort to improve my personal support each year.

So, what we know, think, feel, and have experience with, these are elements of scaffolding that will greatly assist your child with learning in school. Read books before your child can participate. They’ll love hearing your voice and seeing pictures, and the very beginnings of support are being put in place.

If a family can visit an ice cream shop a couple of times over a few years, instead of just eating ice cream purchased at the store. It’s very exciting to most kids, whether or not they’ll admit it, to get a new pair of shoes for school. You could let them try on shoes at a store, assisting in choosing their own, as opposed to purchasing the shoes in appropriate sizes by yourself, which is exponentially easier; even these everyday events are strengthening your child’s scaffolding.

What can be done here and now to make a difference in your child’s support for learning?

Read a lot of books. Not everyone can afford to buy bookshelves of children’s books, but all can eheck out five from the library every couple of weeks, or better yet take your child to the library to choose books they’d like to borrow. Read the same books over & over & over. Now, the young boy or girl begins to associate meaning to the title and the words telling the story. He or she will love to look at familiar pictures and can even start “telling” the story as you revisit pictures and pages. Parenting bonus point for reading yourself to model that it’s a good thing, fun, interesting. We are always on our phones, so that doesn’t need modeling probably.

Provide a rich array of daily experiences. Visit a pet store (Let the child know these animals live at the pet store if you don’t want to buy one!). All kinds of unfamiliar animals and sounds will entertain on a rainy day. Go to a store that sells fishtanks and goldfish, angelfish, freshwater animals, etc. Very exciting to see the strange and wonderful sights. Buying and caring for a goldfish at home comes with its own vocabulary, meaning, and responsibility.

If you have an apple orchard or pumpkin patch near, a fall visit will give your child some room to run as well as the vision or rows of trees with hanging fruit or orange colored mounds all over the ground.

Bake cookies together. Will it be messy? Probably. It will involve following directions, measuring, baking, safety, and the warm, yummy end result. Now, when someone talks about baking, your child starts from a point further along than the child who has never been a part of or watched cookies being baked.

You can see that it doesn’t take “homeschooling,” money, a designated teacher, or loads of supplies to assist your child in preparing for future learning. Now, I’ll admit that I didn’t take my two sons, 19 months apart, out to eat at restaurants, not even inside fast food joints, for most of their childhood. The only scaffolding they were building in those circumstances, as far as I could tell, was learning how long it takes mom to corral us, what happens if we dump our happier meal on the table, or when will fellow diners become visibly annoyed. Even as they reached 10, 11, 12, they very much enjoyed stirring up things, entertaining each other. I was willing to sacrifice my sons’ scaffolding in regard to dining out in order to save my sanity. You will decide for your children.

Understanding the relationship between experience and learning, it makes sense that having a child sitting in the house in front of screens doesn’t provide much scaffolding. It’s passive. Your child isn’t taking part. The support is built when your child has a meaningful, interactive relationship to these elements.

Have fun! Embrace these words, symbols, books and experiences, seeing them newly through your child’s eyes. Turn something mundane into an adventure every day if possible. Write a recap of outings. Reading this article provides you with insight for understanding how children learn. You’ve got new scaffolding supportive of your future learning about your child, learning, and school performance.

p.s. I have so much more to say but this post is already longer than is typical for me. Must stop keyboarding. You’ll see another PAV (Parenting is Also a Verb) post sooner rather than later, I hope.

Sara’s education and experience: B.A. Ed; M.S. Counseling; teacher grades K & 2/3, educator for childcare providers, training in Positive Discipline and Growing, parent educator, program director of crisis nursery, including parent support, staff management & training, stay home mom 16 years with two sons born 19 months apart, medical transcription for 10 years in order to stay home, substitute teacher grades K through 12. Blogs about a wide variety of topics on survivingsara.net.

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