drips and drabs

For some reason, I still feel the need to not shit talk the people around me who have recently shown their true colors.

I think I’m doing it out of integrity, but who knows. Maybe I’m doing it out of fear – fear that these people won’t like me?

That would be stupid given the circumstances.

And not out of the realm of possibility

I do know, and I used to tell my ex-husband this all of the time, if you don’t want people to know what you are doing, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.

Or, “Don’t give me so much to write about.”

All I know is that there is a major storm raining down and if I am to be honest about my life, I have to share a few little bits – drips and drabs so to speak – primarily for my readers’ understanding.

So here goes:

The person who said, “I’m not your person,” when I called from the hospital.

The friend that dropped me like a hot potato to pursue MXB so immediately after the breakup that he and I were still sharing a bed.

The friend who comes in to my work and instead of saying hi, skulks out without making eye contact.

Or the friend, whose first words upon hearing of my son’s accident were “He’d better have learned his lesson,” not “Holy shit, poor kid, I can’t imagine what he’s going through right now.”

As if my son doesn’t care one whit about what happened and how fortunate they all are.

And let’s not forget the good friends from whom I have not heard one single word since all of this began.

One might say to me, “This is about them, not you.”

A person might also say, “Get over it, you’ve got much bigger things to deal with.”

Or, “Those people don’t matter, you know who your real friends are.”

Or, “You are so loved, don’t let any of that shit get in your way.”

Or my kids might (did) say, “Those people are not your community, Mom. You’re a real member of the real Mancos. We know how to treat our neighbors.”

And yes, I can hear all of those things, and on a good day, I can see all of those truths.

But those people and their actions have hurt me so deeply; have made this breakup, loss of a life built together, loss of stability, giardia starvation, and accident thing a whole lot more difficult.

Needlessly.

I have felt pain in my very core.

And the worst part is that all of the comments, actions, and inactions, have also hurt my children; they too are being shut out and unsupported.

And, it’s given them yet another reason, like they needed more, to worry about their mother.

I know that festering and harboring resentments and taking everything personally isn’t helping the situation. I am trying my damnedest to find compassion and forgiveness; it’s hard.

I can also admit that probably no one has done anything to intentionally hurt me or the boys, but there is a careless, insensitive, lack of integrity that abounds here that just doesn’t work for me or my family.

So, now that that little bit is out there, I feel like I will be able to share, more openly and honestly, a little more of who I am at this moment.

 

 

 

 

A place to put my energy

Since the tornado began, I’ve been grasping for some way to stay firmly on the ground.

Everything has felt so unbelievably out of control and all I’ve had to hold on to is my anxiety, my fear, and my grief.

I’ve had anger and it’s been a great comfort when that comes flying out sideways towards people around me – especially to those who I’ve decided have made me a victim.

Because feeling like a victim has really helped me feel even worse and more out of control.

This process of letting go, detaching, and trusting is too ephemeral, intangible.  It’s all about feelings and mindset, which, when I wallow there, makes me more anxious and freaked out.

And with the accident, we are looking at a long road of letting go, detaching, and trusting. We are stepping into one of the greatest unknowns I’ve ever had to enter.

And today, I have found my anchor…

Office supplies.

There is so much paperwork flying at us right now: medical bills, insurance claims reports, and soon there will also be legal paperwork out the wazoo.

And here’s where my security blanket, my new turquoise binder, sparkle dividers, and pre-hole-punched recycled paper, comes into play in a way that calms me and keeps me focused;

I can do court. I can do organization.

Give me a couple of bright post-its, and some new pens, and maybe even some of those pretty, striped paper clips, and I am all set.

A new three-ring binder is an inspiration to clean my desk. Printing out 100 pages of forms motivates me to finally mop the spill on the kitchen floor that has been there since the breakup.

I got one of those briefcase sized file folders with 13 pockets. It’s purple. Calms me right down.

In my desk this morning, I found a whole drawer full of exactly what I just bought – minus the sparkle dividers. It’s good to have backup, but if I really want to feel better, I need to spend money that should be going towards bills, at Office Depot.

Then, add to all of this, my experience with both the medical world and the legal world.

I’ve had at least 6 surgeries since my kids were born and add on one surgery for each of two of my boys. I’ve been to spine doctors, hand specialists, pain management physicians, countless orthopedic surgeons, and neurologists…plus the OBGYN – just to name a few.

Plus, all of the time and energy I’ve put into my parents and their medical ailments and hospital time puts me in the upper echelon of experienced patients.

And court? I’ve been there 7 times in the last 8 years, just for my divorce, not to mention jury duty.

I’ve worked with multiple attorneys and 2 different judges.

I’ve had some serious wins.

I can organize for court like nobody’s business.

So it appears that the years of agony and questioning, “Why is this shit happening to me?” are going to serve me well.

When I begin to feel completely bombarded by the Universe, I have my shield.

It’s the prettiest shade of blue and has a clear pocket on the front to insert a hopeful and calming photo and an inspirational quote from some random buddhist website .

Things I am learning in my convalescence

Okay, “convalescence” might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I am prone to exaggeration, so, what do you expect?

Anyway, last week was the leg, this week, the tooth.

I was so excited to get the thing removed from my leg and even more excited to get the oh-so-painful tooth out of my mouth that it never crossed my mind that there might be anything challenging to it all.

So I’ve got pain and scarring and a mouth gap and a swollen face and weird spreading bruises all over the place that gravity seems to play with and I am on a liquid diet and so I’m starving; but those aren’t that big of a deal.

Here are the Big Deals:

Learned fact number one…As much as I fantasize about being an invalid so I have a valid excuse to lie around and watch tv and stare at the walls and eat soup and pudding and feel sorry for myself, it’s boring. I’m bored. Out of my fucking mind.

Learned fact number two…Even I can OD on Kozy Shack Tapioca Pudding.

Learned fact number three…Undercooked soft boiled eggs smell like the henhouse when cracked open.

LF#4…Head hair can get tangled up in leg stitches as it travels from one’s head to the shower drain.

LF#5…I am vain about my legs.

LF#6…I was actually quite attached to the gold tooth, or at least attached to actually having a tooth.

LF#7…I’m not really liking “scars” that come from aging rather than adventures.

LF#8…For fuck’s sake, FLOSS.

and wear SUNSCREEN (#9).

Fact #10…When they offer you stronger pain medication, take it because they can’t call in controlled substances to the pharmacy later when you realize that you need them.

Learned Fact #11…If the oral surgeon has to leverage his feet against the arm of your chair to better yard on your tooth with his pliers, there’s going to be some swelling later.

Learned Fact #12…I already kind of knew this but am just now acknowledging it…the voices that tell me that I am being lazy, not contributing enough, being a puss, and am selfishly expecting my partner to take care of me when he clearly has more important things to do are just that…voices…old ones…ones from which I can divorce myself…voices not worth listening to.

And Learned Fact #13…There is a fantastic television series from Masterpiece Theater called Downton Abbey available at the Mancos Public Library. I highly recommend it. It has saved my sanity.

 

 

On my chronic pain wagon

I just posted this article on FB:

5 Things the Healthy World Should Know About the Chronically Ill World

It popped up on my news feed and I read it because, well, I have a chronic pain disorder, that hurts, sometimes, a lot.

And, I am not the only one I know in the neighborhood that has a chronic illness.

I’m not crying out for sympathy, I’m writing because I am on vacation and I’ve been astounded by just how much sleep I’ve had and continue to need – some days, more than my 85-year-old father.

I’m working down here – plenty of hurricane cleanup, but it’s not like I’ve been felling trees and re-shingling the roof.

My days involve morning coffee while I lie on my heating pad, chores, nap, chores, dinner, bed early. I even fell asleep sitting in the sand on the beach.

Mentally I read through a list of reasons for why I might need so much sleep down here:

humidity?

getting a much-needed rest from working so many long hours at home?

emotional fatigue?

being lulled by the sound of the waves?

dehydration?

Then I think that this pretty similar to how it is when I am at home – the main difference being that I am not working 12 hour days so I do have the luxury to lie down, often.

It freaks me out sometimes. Is it just laziness? Do I not like to do work?

At home I worry about not pulling my weight around our home – because I don’t.

My ex constantly berated me for my unwillingness to work hard (another term for laziness.)

So every time I put my head on the pillow, that voice runs through my brain.

Throw in my ever-present anxiety, and you have the perfect storm.

And yet, I could sleep all day; sometimes I do.

And then I feel slovenly and guilty as fuck.

And ashamed.

But after I read that article, I thought, “Oh yeah, you do have that pain thing going on.”

So then I clicked on a link to yet another article and read these words:

“Am I lazy? No. I can do a load of laundry or cook a meal. I can usually get my son dressed, fed and to school in the morning (though not always); however, it usually means I will need to sit down and rest and recover from a simple tasks that most people take for granted.

Sure, I can take a nap whenever I want. But I never feel rested. It doesn’t matter if I have had two hours, 12 hours or 20 hours of sleep, my body can just never seem to catch up.”

For just a couple of minutes, I was able to let up on myself, show myself a little compassion.

Those warm and fuzzy feelings didn’t last very long because the voices in my head, and the ones that I imagine are screaming in everyone else’s heads, are louder than the more gentle, soft ones.

I will not be a victim to this and will not use it as an excuse.

But, sometimes a valid reason is just that, not an excuse.

“Weight is Training”

Espresso-Maker

This morning as my stove top espresso maker was completing it’s brewing task, and it made that volcano about to erupt sound that means coffee is imminent, I declared, “There’s that sound!” like I’ve said a thousand times before.

But this coffee brewer is new.  I’ve been using a different method for years. So my instinctual reaction, the words, the anticipation in my pores, is a throwback to a time in my life I can barely remember in my old age.

Working in “the field.”

As I poured my hot drink into my mug I said to MCB, “This is how I used to make coffee in the field.  I love that sound.”

“You carried one of those in the field? No wonder your shoulders hurt.”

Well, duh, of course that’s part of the problem, but was it worth it to have a decent brew at 4 am before climbing the Wham Ridge with a bunch of whiney, incompetent teenagers?

Most definitely, yes.

What I didn’t say was, “Don’t forget to add in the 2 pounds of coffee to get me through until the next resupply.”

And the down jacket, the 30-below down sleeping bag, hammock for a 3-day solo, geology and natural history books, climbing gear (rope, rack, shoes), ice axe, helmet, stove, fuel, clothes, mid (shelter), various and sundry other items (journal, chacos, chocolate), and enough food to keep this scrawny little body from completely wasting away at 13,000 ft.

If I could fit it into my Astralplane, I carried it.

 

Big mother-fucker isn't it?

7000 cu. in. Big mother-fucker isn’t it?

 

And anything and everything could fit into that pack.

I once carried 90 lbs.

At 20,000 ft.

I lost an inch in height.

This was before plastic french presses. I did carry a glass one for a summer but finally broke it over a fire ring trying to knock the grinds out of the bottom and had to drink cowboy coffee for 3 days.

It was horrid.

Besides cowboy coffee (swirling the grinds around in a pot of boiling water then tap-tap-tapping the sides to get the grinds to settle enough to pour it into a mug) the other options were:

The Gold Filter, which, while light to carry, made light coffee and had a tendency to tip over just as the last of the water made it through and into the mug.

There was The Sock. Some fucking genius thought that one could make coffee in a large cotton condom, over and over, each and every day, and that it would actually taste good.

coffeesock1Just looking at the flaccid, stained, sad little resevior, made me consider options other than coffee.

I tried some of those.

Tea? Blech. Tea is fine before bed or after being caught in a storm – it serves its purpose when one needs to warm up but it definitely doesn’t satisfy in the dark and the cold when one has to motivate to put on a heavy pack and climb to the top of a mountain.

In other words, as a motivator, it sucks.

But what sucked even worse were coffee substitutes.

Double blech.

contains: barley, chicory, rye

contains: barley, chicory, rye

Pero, the substitute of choice, especially in my militant vegan days, was vile, although I pretended to love it just as I pretended to enjoy Textured Vegetable Protein.

A little chicory and barley powder mixed with a little powdered soy milk and voila! you have a morning drink that will make you want to hide back in your sleeping bag.

After you hurl.

I realize that there are many other options out there nowadays; that brewing up is still the pleasure that it always was, just a lot lighter and easier.

For one, someone came up with the idea of small, lightweight, backpacking stoves instead of a Whisperlite and 60 oz of white gas.

But back in the old days, the 9-cup, aluminum (which is why I barely remember those days and will soon forget them all together) ultra heavy, ultra noisy pot was the best option.

So when I hear that sound in my kitchen in the morning, coming from a stainless pot, no longer aluminum, it brings a smile to my face; memories flood my not yet awake brain.

And my shoulders start to hurt.

“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”  

haruki murakami

 

Reality hits

92
Everett

 

Position
Linebacker
Height
5-11
Weight
195
Class
Fr.
Hometown
Mancos, Colo.
Highschool
Mancos

HIGH SCHOOL: 2016 graduate of Mancos High School … Competed in football, track, wrestling and basketball … Four-year starter … Played linebacker and full back for the Bluejays.

PARENTS: TW and Suzanne Strazza

Fort Lewis College

© 2016 FORT LEWIS COLLEGE ATHLETICS | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

Her Turn

She tires of running people to the ER, Urgent Care, doctors.

Just this week, child number three’s boss called and began with, “Hi, it’s Karen. First, Bobby is okay.”

Which means that obviously he’s not okay, but he is still breathing.

Second eye mishap in as many weeks. Second time she’s put work on hold in as many weeks.

Before that, there were several appointments at the spine specialist plus two MRI’s for Peter. Then tack on physical therapy. Oh, and there was Mono.

Greg has managed to stay out of the medical world, but let’s not forget the year of the hamstring which really just isn’t far enough in the past to let go of yet and the annual spring influenza.

So she’s a caretaker. It’s what she does. And she gets damn tired of it sometimes.

So today, she decided to look out for herself, to take care of herself, to worry about just her.

And off she went to Urgent Care with something huge and unidentifiable imbedded underneath her right thumbnail, infected, causing agonizing throbbing up her entire arm.

Yay, she thought, today she doesn’t have to sit on the uncomfortable chair in the corner talking to the back of the doctor’s head while he examines whatever child she happens to be with.

No more falling asleep out of sheer boredom.

She got to get stabbed and prodded and scraped at and made miserable. She was fascinated with her wound and was able to watch the entire procedure from a front row seat. She got a hot pink, hot shit, bandage.

The very cute doctor who, unlike most physicians these days, was actually of her generation and not some Doogie Howser looking dude fresh out of med school, asked, do you know what it is?

No.

Do you know how long it’s been in there?

Nope.

You really don’t know?

Okay, hot doctor, I raise pigs and chickens, garden, plant, prune, climb fences, and cook for a living. I am rough on my hands. For all I know it’s a carrot under there.

Then the good doctor said, If you had waited any longer, it would have become a boil that blew off the end of your thumb.

Well shit, she wishes she’d waited for that.

He assured her that the pain would have been unbearable.

But it would have been so cool.

Then, to cap off a great afternoon, a little retail therapy and lunch with her lovely, uninjured children.

images

 

 

The rumor mill

urlJust when I think that my divorce is behind me (relatively speaking since we’re looking at court yet again), my son tells me something that cripples me.

Apparently there were rumors flying around town, rumors that my poor children had to hear, that I had cheated, more than once, on him.

I was embarrassingly faithful. Loyal in the face of his ridicule and contempt. I had married, had taken the ’till death do us part vows, had taken them very seriously.

I would never in a million years put my children through the pain and shame of being the mother who had an affair(s). I would not be that careless

Mentally I couldn’t have handled the secrecy, the deceit.

I am honest to a fault.

I loved this man. As f-ed as our marriage was, I was determined that love would conquer all. Every day I woke up and reminded myself of the good and tried to hang on to those thoughts through the bad.

Then I wonder how the rumors began – was it him? Did he tell people that I cheated? Now, seeing what he is capable of, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did, but back then, he was in such a hurry to leave that I don’t think he wouldn’t have taken the time to stop to gossip.

I feel betrayed by my community. It really hurt to hear this – even though it was years ago. I wonder if the gossipers paused to think about what it would do to my children to hear this trash in the middle of their lives imploding.

I question if folks finally realized that it wasn’t true, or if they still believe it but have moved on.

I feel sullied.

But really, the ironic thing about it all is that he left me for another woman.

My poor (almost adult) baby

He has to have major surgery day after tomorrow: hamstring repair.

He tore it off his pelvic bone.

Crutches, brace, PT, no driving for 2-3 months, 1 year rehab before he can do any type of athletic activity.

Pain.

They told me yesterday that Lortab isn’t going to cut it.

Blood thinners, pain meds, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories.

They also said, “Plan on being in the hospital ALL day.”

That’s when I got off the phone and cried.

Watching the physical pain is bad.

Watching the emotional pain: unbearable.

Everything he has dreamed of for his future in on the line right now – and honestly, one foot over the line. He may never play football or wrestle again.

So much for D-1.

He was contacted by a college football recruiter the other day. First question after name and position: “Any athletic injuries?”

He is trying to hard to remain hopeful and undefeated. He is determined that this will not stop him from fulfilling his ambitions and dreams.

He is also very aware that no matter how determined he is, it might not do him any good. He just may never play again.

He did something stupid and reckless the other night. When I called him out on it, he fell apart, “Mom, my life is ruined.”

You and I know that it’s not, but when you are the star of the football team and the most physical kid in town, it feels that way.

My heart broke for this sweeter-than-sugar young man.

I’m trying to just hold space for all of his pain – to be able to hear him and help him remember that he is loved and will, no matter what he thinks, be okay.

“We will get through this. It’s going to be hard, and, we will do it. Together.”

I’m calling in the forces: friends, teammates, coaches, grandparents, cousins.

He’s the toughest kid I’ve ever met – plays football with multiple broken ribs.

And he is the most sensitive kid I know.

Watching this huge, muscle-bound, tough-guy cry is simply and horribly sad.

So, as I prepare and he prepares, I find myself praying – something I am not prone to doing.

But we are going to need all the help we can get to make this boy continue to smile that glorious, infectious smile of his.

 

 

TBI

Stands for Traumatic Brain Injury.

Translation: Concussion.

Cause: Helmet to Helmet hit on the football field.

Necessary Action: Go to the Doctor.

Treatment: Time off the Line.

Reaction: “It’s all your fault, Mom.”

Yep. I’m the one who insisted on him playing football, even though he begged to sing in the choir instead.  I am also the one who told him he was a puss and needed to hit a whole lot harder. I refused to listen to his complaints about having a headache for over a week. Oh wait, he didn’t complain because I told him to lie about the headache and deny that he had one. I also stubbornly didn’t agree with him that he knows more than the ER Doc and doesn’t have a concussion. And I am definitely the driving force behind the national movement to save athletes from long-term brain damage by implementing more rigid protocols for allowing those athletes back on the field after a hard knock.

Obviously, All. My. Fault.

After yesterday’s second doctor appointment for the head, the appointment wherein the doctor said, “Yes, it is a concussion. No, you shouldn’t have been playing last week. Yes, you should have told your mother and coach about the headaches. No, you’re not going back in this week. And, yes, TBIs are very serious,” we walked out to the car in a torrential rainstorm, the silence between us thickening with each falling drop.

I unlocked my door and got in the car.  He pressed his face against the window saying “Are you serious?” as I decided if I would let him in or not.

I begrudgingly did.

As we drove home I said, “Now is the time to say, thank you, Mom, for caring so much about my well-being. I am sorry, Mom, that I yelled at you and accused you of ruining everything for me…”

Then, “…repeat after me, ‘I. Was. Wrong.'”

“I can’t say those words, Mom. Not in my lexicon.”

‘Wrong’ isn’t, but ‘lexicon’ is?

I rolled down the window on his side (Love power windows.  Also love the child-lock.) I figured a good dousing would at least make me feel better.

It did.

He laughed.

He still can’t utter the word ‘wrong’, but I think he gets the message.