Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Birthdays

Today our son is fourteen.

Last year was the beginning of being a teenager, and that was a big deal too.  But for some reason, fourteen seems so much older.  At fourteen, you're a breath away from high school and all the drama that brings.  He has started to date--simple dates, mainly to the movies--but enough to remind me he's not a baby anymore.  Fourteen year olds are growing up, growing older, and a year farther away from being a little kid.  My little kid.

Today I've spent a lot of time thinking about him when he was a preschooler.  His haircut, his tiny clothes, his bed that was so big in comparison to his tiny body.  Character underwear and action figures and baths.  Snuggles and kisses and hugs.  How he and his little sister would eat at a little tykes picnic table we kept in our tiny apartment, and how he loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  His huge, beautiful eyes and long lashes.  His love of swimming and riding his tricycle, of mastering new things.  Puzzles and games and art and even his own speech.

I would imagine that most mothers fondly recall time spent with their babies upon their children's birthdays.  Of hours spent in the hospital giving birth, of newborn cries and comfort, of learning to respond to their babies.  My memories are similar, just later.  Of a little boy turning four, his party at the local park, his excitement.

This is the child that I didn't give birth to but cared for his every need.  And every birthday brought new accomplishments and new challenges.  All the days in between birthdays, consisting of daily learning and daily struggles for us all.  But even in the hardest of moments, he has always been my beautiful boy.

Happy birthday to you, my handsome teenaged son.  You are loved and adored for exactly who you are.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Loving Unconditionally

I saw the doc at my preferred urgent care yesterday and she helped treat my symptoms, so I'm finally able to think halfway clearly today--a wonderful Easter gift.  Thank you, Lord, for every blessing in my life.

My son has started back on a medication regimen.  He is almost fourteen years old--celebrating a birthday this coming week--and has strong feelings about his medication.  He complains it keeps him from sleeping and makes him feel depressed.  It's a difficult situation to explain to him that he had these same problems before the medication, when he's convinced the medication is causing them.

The medication has slowed down his motor for sure.  It makes for a huge difference in his ability to cooperate with other people.  He's less jumpy, less irritable, more attuned to others.  The downside is that the slower movement gives him time to think about things that make him sad.

The other night was a difficult one (hey, a pill doesn't cure everything) and resulted in me sending him to his room for bed early.  I saw my mother enter his room and realized a moment later that he was sobbing; real sobs from deep down inside.  The lack of anger in it was what caught my attention.  It was the first time in months I've heard him cry out of sadness instead of frustration or anger.  My mother left his room a minute later.  I was alone in the den and called to him, assuring him I was alone, and my child--the one who's taller than me, who has feet the size of a grown man and his own opinions and thoughts and beliefs--came to me, sitting next to me on the couch and allowing me to hold him like I did when he was a little boy.

And he cried.

As I held him, I thought about how hard this road is for him.  How it sucks to know that the people who conceived you don't want to take responsibility for you.  How alone and isolating it must feel, despite others wanting in through that wall.

When I was three, my grandfather died of a heart attack.  He was fifty-eight.  For years afterward, I would have a dream that I was reaching up to a door handle and I could see a skeleton costume in the doorway.  Only later, when I  was a teen, was I told that my grandfather's last visit was around October and he had brought me something kept in that closet.  I also have a vivid memory of the night he died, of waking up and finding a family friend there instead of my parents.  My grandfather, in a short three years, had connected with me in a way that left strong impressions on me.  When my grandmother remarried three years later, I had great difficulty accepting her husband.  In fact, I didn't like him at all for several years.  I refused to accept him, much as children sometimes reject a stepparent.  It took most of my adult years to come to understand that a bond with my grandmother's second husband did not negate my love for my grandfather.  In the end, this man was the only grandfather I really ever knew.  My other grandfathers died when I was a young child.  This man went to my graduations, took care of me when I visited with my grandmother, and even attended my wedding just three months after my grandmother died.  Shortly afterward, I bought him a book that I knew he would appreciate and wrote a letter to him, letting him know that I loved him and he was a wonderful grandfather.  He thanked me repeatedly for that book over several visits, but we both knew what he was thanking me for--the acknowledgement of his love and care for a child who rejected him.

Sometimes I wonder if my son will one day understand how much I love him, how much I have willingly given and sacrificed for him, or if he will always stay so focused on wanting his birth mother that he won't be able to see the forest for the trees.  I know he loves me and I love him.  But it's painful for him not to be loved by the one who should love him the most.  And despite the nearly eleven years we have been together, I don't know how reasonable it is to expect him to understand how I feel, how much I want to be loved by him.  So I trudge along, like my grandfather did, attempting to give unconditionally and love unconditionally, and praying that somehow my efforts make a positive difference for my son.

I adored my grandmother but she didn't live long enough to meet my children.  My grandfather, however, did, and he loved both of my children the same way he loved me; with an unconditional acceptance and joy.  There was always a dollar in his pocket for each of them and a hug in his arms.  My son remembers him fondly as well, with an unconditional acceptance of him being part of the family.

I am a strong believer that God places certain people in our lives to teach us lessons.  My grandfather modeled the importance of unconditional love to me.  I hope my son feels that somewhere inside, that I love him no matter what.  That his pain, his tears aren't being ignored; that I love him and will always be here to help him as much as he needs.

As he let me comfort him the other night, I was reminded of the fact that I am his mother and the frustration and anger I feel toward this boy-man should always take a second seat to love.  And in that moment, we were blessed with the opportunity to connect again without the teenage anger and frustration that so often accompanies us these days.  And I hope he walked away from that moment with an even stronger understanding of how much he is loved.

Friday, April 22, 2011

An Open Letter to all Doctors

Dear Doctor,
As you know, I am one of many sufferers of fibromyalgia.  Currently I am flaring badly and am waiting to be seen by a pain management specialist.  Unlike when I was in OK and my PCP prescribed whatever he felt I needed, my doctor here is gunshy of any pain medication and has flat out told me she will not prescribe it.  For that and many other reasons, I am looking for another PCP.

Last Saturday, when the pain was so bad it was all I could think about, I came to your clinic as it was one of the few open on Saturdays.  After waiting for two hours to be seen, a very kind doctor entered the room, listened closely to what I said, pressed gently on my shoulders and prescribed pain medication.  He apologized for my agonizing wait, recognizing the pain that fibromyalgia can cause.

Today I called your office to ask for a refill to last until I get to pain management.  One refill.  The nurse took my request and spoke to you.  When she called me back, she gave me your answer.  I was to follow up with my own primary doctor.  At one p.m. On a Friday.  Now that's true care.  Even if I WANTED to there is no way I could make it into her office today.  How many doctors do you know who take patients a few hours after they call on the last day before the weekend?

I begged the nurse to please talk with you again.  She agreed after much discussion.  That was two hours ago, so even if she calls back soon, it will be several more hours before I can get my medication.

Perhaps you're unfamiliar with my diagnosis.  Perhaps you've never felt the pain of somebody yanking your arm out of your shoulder, knots as large as your fists in the back of your neck and head, flushed skin, aching back and hips.  Perhaps you've never felt the fatigue that keeps you laid out for days yet struggling to sleep because of the pain.  Or the shame you feel at not being able to do the things with your children or your job or your friends that you used to be able to do.  Or the depression that settles over you, heavy, like a rug smothering the life out of you.  I am not the same woman I used to be.  Everything that mattered to me has been taken away.  The only way I can partially get it back is through pain medication.

I fully expect when your nurse calls me back she will tell me that you have no intention of helping me.  You've already made your position clear, which leaves me with the option of lying here suffering or going to yet another clinic to receive medication.

And people wonder why those of us in pain look like we're drug seeking junkies, visiting multiple doctors.  There's no other option, is there?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Is It Wrong to be Jealous of a Fifteen-Year old?

My friend's teenage daughter is going to Disneyworld tomorrow.

I am SO not digging that.  Disney is my favorite place on earth and I don't have the money to even stand at the gate.  I'd probably have to blow Goofy to get on the property.

Yeah, it sucks, and not in a good way.

I called my doctor this morning to clarify three issues.  First, she's prescribed the wrong amount of my medication, and apparently has been for forever and is trying to blame it on my doctor before I moved.  Bull.  Some people just can't read.

Second, remember that ultrasound I was supposed to get?  The one the doctor insisted I come to see her about before she would order?  Yeah, she never ordered it.  I hope that thing on my kidney isn't deadly.  If it is my family is going to have one hell of a lawsuit.

Finally I called about getting the number to pain management.  I'm in pain as I sit here writing this, and it will be by sheer force of will that I go to exercise today.  Today is a new adventure!  I have pain in the front of my shoulders, just below my neck.  I guess you would say it's my chest, but I didn't want anyone to think I am having a heart attack.  Every day is a new adventure.  Anyway, the nurse was rather rude, or perhaps I'm rather sensitive, and she gave me the number and told me that since I didn't keep my original appointment it would take "forever" to get in.  I gritted my teeth and managed a thank you before hanging up.

Note to self:  add finding new PCP to the to-do list.

So I call the pain management clinic.  Guess how long "forever" is?  Oh, about two weeks.

I'm so glad I don't listen to snotty nurses and clueless doctors.  And I better darn well get the order for the ultrasound soon as well.

I just know a trip to Disney would fix all this.  I know it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Oh no's and Hallelujahs

I've learned that blogs--or their writers--can be quirky things.

For example, I currently have five different blogs.  The main one I write on is a professional blog and has to do with my career.  Cool, right?  Absolutely, because I have always loved what I do.  If that interests you more than this (which it very well might) you can find it at

The last several days I've been pondering the start of another blog, one that focused on me and my personal life rather than continuing with this one.  When I started this blog, I intended it to be focused on my son and of course, my favorite TV shows.  I'm not sure where I thought I would fit in.  Maybe I didn't think about it.  I have a bad habit of doing that, putting myself behind everybody else and figuring I'll slip in and fill the cracks.

Well, the cracks have decided that I should be front and center for awhile.  And I am not digging them at all for that decision.

I'm not sure when it started...probably five or so years ago, when I was around 35.  It started to get harder to get up off the floor.  My back began to give out, and I was exhausted a lot of the time.  I also got sick a lot.  It wasn't unusual for me to get sick once a month.  It was irritating but I wrote it off to stress and weight, and figured I'd get around to it when I got a round tuit (ha, get it?).  Besides, my son was more important at the time, as was my daughter.

Way to go, genius.

I feel like I should be exhibit number one in some doctor's presentation of the effects of stress on the human body.  Surprisingly, my condition continued to worsen until I became unable to work full time (or even close to it) at all.  The human body is an amazing thing.  When I refused to slow down, it forced me to, by causing me to vomit every day for weeks.  I was left with no alternative other than to quit one of my jobs (working with children and adults--one that I had loved and wanted to continue).  As unfair as it was to leave the children after six weeks at this position, it was more unfair to cause them to have substitutes in and out, and for their teacher to be ill nearly every day.  My supervisor asked me if leaving was what my "heart" wanted.  No, I wanted to say.  It's not what my heart wants.  My heart wants to live up to your--and their--expectations; to be the kind of teacher I know I can be; to enrich the lives of the people I encounter.  But what my heart wanted really had very little to do with it.  Every bit of my body was screaming for rest, for release.

Two weeks later I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Most people are familiar with the fatigue and muscle aches that come with fibro.  And yes, I've suffered my fair share of both.  However, a diagnosis of fibromyalgia comes with a bevy of other related illnesses, including migraines, tension headaches, complete exhaustion, difficulty with memory (fibro "fog"), IBS, and more.  The disorder is chronic and requires daily management through both medication and choices in diet and exercise.  The only thing more overwhelming than the symptoms are the specialists required to treat it.  Primary care physicians, rheumatologists, endocrinologists, pain management specialists, therapists, psychiatrists...and the tests--x-rays, blood tests, ultrasounds, sleep studies.

I'm currently half way through the evaluative process.  I have a diagnosis and have found a good rheumatologist as well as a therapist I'm fond of.  I have appointments with other specialists.  I am so thankful not to be alone through this--my mother has accompanied me to many an appointment, and sometimes just having someone else there is comforting.

I have never before found it so difficult to concentrate.  Some days I'm as on top of things as ever and other days I feel lost in that "fibro fog" that makes it hard to think.  For someone who has always prided herself on logical thought and reasoning, it's a cruel reminder that I am not who I used to be.  The loss of the ability to keep up with a large group of preschoolers is painful as well.  I miss the excitement, the joy of watching the inquisitiveness on their little faces.

Recently a friend of mine told me that she had attended a church service away from home.  She was visiting her daughter in another city, and they had gone to church.  The minister had made the statement during the sermon that the only answer to "Oh no!" is "Hallelujah!", because the oh no means God has bigger plans in store for you.

I have practiced turning my oh no's into hallelujahs lately.  It's hard some days, such as today, when I found I would not be teaching this summer.  I need the money desperately but there's not room in the schedule.  My friend reminded me of all the potential hallelujahs in this moment--to pursue things I have wanted to pursue; to work at home at my own pace; to have more time to focus on my healing.  And she is right.  Despite my fears, hallelujah Lord; you have given me the opportunity to grow and be creative beyond measure.

So this blog may see a lot more action from its author.  And it may not be about attachment disorder, or television, or anything predictable.  All I know is it's mine, and it will go in whatever direction it drives itself.  I don't have the energy to drive right now, but it's all going to be okay.  We all know who's at the wheel anyway.