Tag Archives: Postaweek2014

Getting Through the Week


This week my second grandchild was born.  My Dad died on Friday and Lexi was born on Monday , 11 days overdue.  Lexi was supposed to be a boy, according to three 3D ultrasounds but came out a beautiful, healthy girl.  She was a huge surprise.  Hopefully we can find all the receipts for the boy stuff everyone bought.

I was sure having Lexi in my life, now with a huge empty space from losing my Dad, would fill in that big gap in my heart.  She does in a way but I’ve had a cold or allergies since she was born so only saw her once. My Londynn was here, though, and kept me going for one afternoon.  She makes me tired.  🙂

I no longer have my daily visits with my Dad.  Those sure got me out of the Sage, fire, memoriesapartment.  I miss him so much.  Tonight there was a sharing circle at my sisters.  It was wonderful to hear stories about my Dad coming from people I barely knew and from family I love dearly.  I  shared some of my own stories while taking in the scent of the bonfire, the sage burning in the bowl beside it and listening to the birds singing and calling out to each other.  After I was finished I threw cedar into the fire and watched it get eaten up by the flames.  Everyone else did the same. I watched the smoke drift up to the sky.  The sky looked like it wanted to rain but it held off.  I was glad I went.

Never have I felt so alone as I have this week.  It’s been a confusing time and I thought I would have been prepared for this but I wasn’t.  I’m not.  His birthday was on Tuesday and that day was just a write off for me.  I spent that whole day in bed.  I just couldn’t get up.  The same thing happened the day after he died.

I’ve gone downhill in my mental health; feeling more isolated, sleeping so much more and feeling quite alone in my already little world.  Everyone in my family are grieving too and my sister is so busy with arrangements and such.  There are a few people who have written to ask how I’m holding up (badly) or one really nice man I know tried TWICE to get me out but I couldn’t bear to leave the apartment.  He even promised me ice cream!  I received a lot of support on Facebook from my friends.  I thank them all very much for taking the time to acknowledge my loss.

I hope to be in a better frame of mind next week.  My routine goes back to normal with volunteering and seeing Dr. G again.

Now I better check myself for wood ticks.

Ciao

Songs, Birds and Goodbyes


After an incredibly long fight my Dad finally let go in the early hours of May 23.  Every day for weeks you could see the struggle within him; wanting his aging, ailing body, mind and soul to hang on, to stay here with his family and to live another 95 years.

My Dad’s final days were spent with his family surrounding him every chance they got.  I spent a huge amount of time with him and have some very happy times I really want to share.  Little things, like when we first played bird songs on my sister’s iPad and the smile that came across his face.  He wasn’t really in the same world as we were at that point so this was really nice to see.  He spent a lot of time in this another world so any indication that he heard us or recognized something else was wonderful and so very special.

The nurses all had stories to tell and all said how much they love him, how he was a favourite there.  Dad was known for his hugs after putting up big battles whenever he had to be turned or changed as it gives him so much pain.  He would fight, kick, hit and swear at the nurses and then, when they were done, calmly ask for each of them to give him a hug.  They loved it and made it worthwhile they said.

The day before he died I was there with him and my sister.  We were playing music from his era as well as songs he used to sing to us when we were little girls, all from his era as well.  “You Beautiful Doll”, “I Did It My Way”, lots of Frankie and Bing and some Al Jolson.  Of course it was hard not to cry when we heard these songs.  We even sang them to him too.  When he could still talk he told me, very politely, to stop singing please.  So when he couldn’t talk anymore, I started singing to him again.

One song, “If You Were The Only Girl..” we played over and over because he seemed to react to it the most.  I was holding his hand when he started tugging on it, urging me to get up off my chair.  I did and his other hand was searching for my other one so I grasped our hands together.  Suddenly, he started swinging my arms to the music!  We were dancing!  It was marvelous and my sister and I were laughing so hard and he was grinning as he was trying to push me over on one side then all the way over across his bed.  Finally, his incredible strength got me to almost topple right on top of him where he had me in the most incredible bear hug and had my arms all twisted like a pretzel.  I honestly couldn’t move!  My sister was laughing so hard she finally managed to choke out, “need a little help?”  I could only squeak, “yes please” when a nurse appeared, shocked at the spectacle and he let go.  I will never forget that last dance with my Dad.

I spent a night there and would have spent many more but I was on baby alert, waiting for my grandson to arrive, which, as of this date and 10 days overdue, he has not.  But I would spend all day every day with my Dad.  Yesterday, though, my sister told me something was different and maybe I should get there quickly.  So I took the hour-long bus ride earlier than I was going to, praying that he will hold on just long enough for me to say goodbye again and arrived there in plenty of time.

I leaned over him, giving him my killer smile as I always do, and, lo and behold, he smiled back, tried to say my name and wrapped his arms around me in a huge hug.  After that though, his morphine was working and he really wasn’t conscious anymore.  More family came to say goodbye and all we did for hours was watch his chest move up and down, then nothing, then up and down again.  Fooled us many times.  With his apnea, this was expected we were told.  My sister and I were finally left alone with him for the night.  My son was getting someone else to be on baby alert.

Before he finally let go my sister and I were trying to conjure up my mom so she could come and get him since he wouldn’t leave on his own.  Not 3 hours later, I noticed his breath getting shallower and quieter.  Then I went to his mouth and nose and felt for his breath.  There were only one or two more breaths, then nothing.  Still nothing.  I checked his heartbeat and got my sister to call the nurse.  The nurse came with her stethoscope and confirmed what we already knew.   My mom found him and took him home at last.

It’s so hard to believe that this is over.  My Dad is gone.  An era is finished.  It’s very strange not climbing on the bus everyday.  It’s very strange not to hear him babble about his mom and dogs and horses and call me by his sister’s name or him thinking I’m his mom or even knowing it’s me.  It’s very strange connecting to family I haven’t seen in months or years.  It’s very strange to have the first love of my life leave this earth so quietly after arguing so much and so long with whomever is in charge of our length of time on Earth.  That’s it.  All done.

But my Mom did come and get him.  I know she did.  Thanks Mom.  Love you both so much.

Sleep Stories


Hey, how are you?  I’m doing fine this week.  I feel so much better.  My mind is pretty clear, I have plans for my life and my daughter’s report card was great.  Oh and my almost 20 month old granddaughter went pee in the potty for the first time pottytoday!  The only problem I’m having is sleeping.  Too much.  I could sleep all day and have done it a couple of times.

Oh the dreams I have at night (or early morning).  I think I don’t want to wake up because I don’t want to leave the dreams I’m in.  They’re so vivid now, so real.  Sometimes I’m not sure if something happened while sleeping or awake.  I’ve woken myself up yelling for my son to “come back here!!” like he was 2 years old.  The colours and patterns and stories make me want to sleep forever.

Most of them are really great dreams.  I told Dr. G about one that seemed almost precognitive.  I dreamt about my dream house and there were many new rooms in it.  Some of them had very narrow hallways that curved to the right before you enter the room.  Well, at my first appointment with the Intake Worker at the Canadian Mental Health Association, she led me to a door and immediately I had a strong sense of deja vu.  Sure enough, after entering, the wall curved to the right forming a narrow hallway and then we entered the open space of the office.

Weird.

I dream a lot of guilt dreams.  I hate those dreams.

I dreamt of apples last night.  Hundreds of them.  I filled my basket with them and I could smell them too.  I think it had to do with visiting with my son and daughter-in-law and smelling sample after sample of the products she’s selling for Scensie.  Apparently they use the same wax used on apples at the grocery stores.  No wonder.  None of my favourites scents I picked smelled like apples though.  Hmm.  Maybe I have scurvy?

dreamI asked Dr. G about my increase and intensity of my dreaming at our last appointment.  He told me that people who have bipolar have a very active mind so when we go to sleep the brain just keeps going.  When I told him about how much I was actually sleeping he brought up that nasty word…

NARCOLEPSY

NOOOOOO!!

Back in 2006 (?) I was diagnosed with the dreaded narcolepsy.  I had all the symptoms including falling asleep at inappropriate times, like during one on one conversations, going through stop signs with no memory of doing it until I “woke up”.  Forget driving on the highway.  I would get my 8 hours sleep no problem and more sometimes but the symptoms got worse and it was taking forever to get into the sleep clinic for an assessment.  narcolepsyMy GP had no choice but to diagnose me with that bad word until I could get to the clinic.  This meant suspending my driver’s license for a year!  A YEAR!

I called the clinic every week, looking for cancellations.  I was sooooo tired it was unbelievable.  I was on amphetamines that drove my body crazy with the shakes and the frustration of having eyes that wanted to close and dream but were wide open and dried out like 2 sand-filled apricots.  I couldn’t sleep at night.  I was awake all the time.  I was going on manic mode constantly.

I missed my dreams.

Finally they moved up my appointment.  Probably realizing my desperation and learning of my newly officially diagnosed bipolar disorder did the trick.  And it would make me stop phoning them.

Hi Sara!  It’s Marie again!
Hi Marie.  Oh I’m so sorry there’s nothing this week.  How are you doing my dear?

I was to go to the appointment after being awake for several hours and on no medication.  I got a ride there and looked forward to resolving this and 4 hours of sleep.  It was all so fascinating.  I love things to do with the brain and how it works.

I was hooked up to many, many electrodes and wires to monitors, wearing a paper gown.  While they were hooking me up, the techs had to keep prodding me to wake up.  I kept falling asleep while sitting there in spite of all the activity around me.

It was a great sleep.  I dreamed and dreamed.

When I was done the doctor asked to see me.  He had just one question for me.  He wondered if I started dreaming as soon as I go to sleep.  I assured him I did and I knew what I dreamt and everything.  He laughed and said I was in a dream state before the tech even left the room and my eyes had just closed.  He was astounded as that’s pretty rare.  He told me he would have the results for me in a week.

I saw him again and he played me a video of me sleeping where I snored obnoxiously or, as my friend Corrie says, unholy.  I was very embarrassed.  He said I did not have narcolepsy, that is to say I had the symptoms of it but they were being caused by sleep apnea.  I was to be fitted for an appliance for my mouth to keep my airway open while I slept.  That didn’t work out very well so I was switched to a CPAP machine which I had to wait for from Manitoba Health.

Oh soo attractive!  ha ha

Oh soo attractive! ha ha

In the meantime I still couldn’t drive and I was so tired I was finding it harder to work.   The call came that my CPAP was waiting for me after only 2 weeks.  It was the happiest day of my sleeping life.

Now I sleep with my CPAP every night.  Dr. G really doesn’t believe I have narcolepsy, thank goodness.  I think he was just throwing it out there to scare me.  I’m going to see a dietician to address some of this so hopefully things will be better in the sleep department.

Ciao for now!

A Good Week…


Well, this was a good week.  I’ve discovered a few more things about myself, some of which I have to face and get a handle on.  Most though, were good or,  at least, good enough.

I finally started walking outside as the weather has been cooperating and the ground has dried up nicely.  I think this is the main reason for my good moods.  shoesExercise is so important for one with bi polar as it helps to even out everything.  I found myself becoming bored at home for, really, the first time in over a year.  Thinking about my future brings a dose of reality.  Dr. G and I are talking more and more about finding work.  I keep imagining myself in a tiny bachelor apartment after Carly turns 18 (1 more year!).

She and I have been talking about her post secondary schooling.  She is eligible for so many scholarships and bursaries as well as student loans.  Hopefully she’ll be able to stay living with me when she goes to school but she’s not so sure what she wants to do yet.  Take a year off, move out with a friend or stay home and go to school.  So many decisions she has to make and it’s so great to have so many choices.

Now for a change of subject…I’ve always known I have an addictive personality.  I don’t mean people get addicted to me although, hmm.  Nah, that’s not what I smoking-PAmean.  It’s like when I used to smoke like a chimney until I quit in 1987.  I quit while I was pregnant with my boy too but started again right away.  Wow, I smoked a lot, more than 2 packs a day sometimes.  I loved everything about it and, as I said in other posts, I still dream I smoke almost every night.  Booze was a problem too at different times in my life. I pretty much stay away from it now.  I smoked weed in the latter part of high school and as a young adult until I was pregnant with my son in 1985 then never touched it again.  It was hard to quit so if people try to tell you there are no withdrawal symptoms from marijuana, they’re lying to you.

My ongoing battle has been with food since I turned about 20.  Food is always there.  One needs food to survive.  It’s starting to get bad again mostly because I live next to a 7-11 and they have everything that’s not so good for me.  I’m making super-bad decisions when it comes to food.  Chocolate is my weakness and diet Pepsi.  Chips for supper sometimes.  They’re cheap and filling.  The nights with chips are the nights my daughter eats at work so I don’t feel so guilty.  I never figured I was an emotional eater because when things are bad I just can’t eat.  It’s when things arefood pyramid going well I eat more and badly.  I guess that would qualify as emotional too.  I need strength to get through this.  I don’t want to gain weight after losing so much.  Dr. G is thinking it might be the new medication I’m taking at night to help me fall asleep.  Although I’m on a really low dose one of the side affects is weight gain.  I’ll be watching.

My mom’s cooking was pretty basic and good most of the time but sometimes kind of dangerous as she wasn’t too careful with health standards; leaving pots of soup or stews on the stove for days and serving them to us; meat left on the counter for way too long and some stuff just tasted bad you know? We all got the “Grand Beach Flu” at the same time and it was usually after her “Grand Beach Stew”.  I love her dearly but not the bugs that were in the flour that went into the gravy or the stuffing or the cakes or whatever.  I survived though and I’m sure it was why I was so skinny until I moved out.

I did so well with money this week.  It helped that the government sent out our quarterly GST refund so there was more money to work with.  I actually had food in the pantry and the fridge and still had money in my wallet by the time Child Tax Credit came in.  What a great feeling buying a bus pass and veggies and fruit for my girl who looks in the fridge and says, “Wow”.

My plan is to walk every day for at least 1/2 hour and increase it.  I need to invest in a good pair of runners as Carly and I are sharing mine right now (!).  I know.

She needs them for work and I need them for volunteering so one of us is using them all the time.  Hopefully at the end of the month I can get another pair for her.  My shoes are actually too big for her.  She’s a size smaller than me.

Shoes I should be getting...

Shoes I should be getting…

So the plan is to walk, eat better and get new shoes.  Those are pretty good goals for a week…

Shoes I want...

Shoes I want…

 

Where Some Things Came From…


Ipain the ass always thought the teacher who influenced me most in my life was my junior high math teacher, Mr. Burns.  I had to learn algebra and I didn’t even know my times tables so I was a real pain in the ass.  He was so patient and kind and always offered to help me outside of class. I know between the two of us there were mountains of frustration. He was definitely a good influence and helped me enough to know algebra for at least the 5 minutes at a time I needed to pass his classes.  That’s how long it stayed with me after I left there too.  High school math was just a lost cause.  We don’t talk about that at all.

timestablesMr. Burns’ left arm was deformed and totally useless and I remember it would just hang there or he would simply toss it or swing aside if it got in his way. The other kids used to make fun of him at first until they could see he had heard it all before and could care less what was said about him.  He had a tough skin that one did.  He was smart and didn’t talk down to the kids.  Then there was nothing but respect from everyone.  It was my first time respecting a teacher too.  He was a really good teacher but I still don’t know my times tables.

The teacher who did influence me and my life the most was Harry (Hersh) Zetner who was first my anthropology teacher and then my English teacher in high school.  At that time I really didn’t know anything about the world, certainly nothing like what Mr. Zetner taught me.  Mr. Zetner was Jewish and lost a great deal of his family in the Holocaust.  I never knew there was racism and hatred in the world like that until his classes.  Or anything so horrible as the Holocaust. It was unbelievable but I believed it.  My eyes were opened so wide I could never close them again. The books we read, the films we saw never left me. I think there was only one or two  Jewish girls that I knew of in my classes and in my friend circle but I never knew they were until Mr. Zetner called upon one of them to talk about some of her family history.  I was fascinated with her after that. It would never have occurred to me that anyone was different from anyone else I guess.

My parents would be into the stereotypes of different races and cultures and I don’t even want to write down what those were here. They, of course, learned it from their parents and so on.   I was truly fortunate that it didn’t rub off on me which is so surprising. I found myself, as an adult, correcting them quite often about labeling people and trying to get them to see people as individuals.  They always looked so surprised there could be any other way to look at things.  How the heck did I turn out this way? Don’t get me wrong.  My parents were kind and tolerant people and very simple folk is the only way to describe them.

Oh and I never seem to stop learning about the indignities genders, many races, and cultures face.  It’s trying to understand the “why” of it all.

Anyway,  Mr. Zetner died in 2002 and I re-read his obituary today.  I found out more about the man then I knew before and I never doubted he would do more wonderful things after I left the school.  After he became ill and could no longer teach, he spent his time going to schools talking to children and teens about the Holocaust and how it could easily happen again.  I think he opened a lot of other eyes.  We need more people like him.

He was a truly sincere and hard-working teacher that taught me a lot about life and its cruelties but also that there are good souls out there leading the rest of the world to a better way of thinking.  I learned there can always be another way. He is one reason why I’m so interested in how the mind works and where people came from and where do we go from here.  And just, again…why?

I admire him because he took something he had a passion for and knowledge of and made it his life’s work to educate the world as much as possible.  He wanted to end the stigma.  This is what I want to do about mental illness.  I think it might be something for me to look at in the future and I very well think I could do it.

I have an appointment, finally, with the Canadian Mental Health Association’s intake worker, after 6 months of being on their waiting list.  They are going to get me more organized and help me get back to work.  Or maybe speaking too?  I don’t know but it’s on my list.

Peace and love.  Please.

 

 

I’ve Got the Glow


I’m sitting here during another astounding hot flash of epic proportions thinking nothing could ever beat the last one.  I keep getting fooled by my own body insisting on betraying me every day and anywhere.  Oh my god, even the inside of my ears are “glowing” this time.

HotFlashBrain_121212-617x416I’ve been pretty good at not getting caught during one of these tropical-hikes-up- a-smoldering-volcano as I rarely leave the apartment.  On Monday at my volunteer job I thought I was going to make it through without one. The end of my shift arrived and the volunteer manager wanted to chat.  Part way through the conversation I could feel the tell-tale signs; the slow building of heat filling first my face and hair then, before it could get any worse, I excused myself to escape to what I hoped was the cooler hospital hallway.  What a sight I must have been…ripping off my vest which announces my volunteer status and holding back on ripping anything else off although I did unbutton the first 2 buttons of my blouse.  Sweat was dripping from my face, my nose and my hair when the volunteer manager came out to the hallway to tell me something else I needed to know.   She took one look at me frantically fanning my face with my hands (uselessly I might add) and I apologized for my body’s betrayal (she’s young yet, she’s going to get hers soon enough) and tried to listen although I could feel the creeping of moisture on my arms and legs. The back of my blouse became quite damp. She looked away in embarrassment and I believe she was somewhat frightened.  My face was so hot.  Unbelievable.

I wish I could explain this phenomenon to someone who never had one.  Maybe if you ever blushed you would get a sense of it.  Heat rising up from your chest to your face and neck, heartbeat speeding up.  But it’s more than that.  MORE I say!  MORE moisture.  MORE heat.  MORE madness.  MORE of just waiting for it to be over.menopause

I really thought it was getting better.  I figured just a few short weeks ago what a piece of cake this menopause thing and hot flashes are turning out to be.  I’ve been going though menopause for the last year and was pre-menopausal for at least 2 years before that. So hot flashes are not unfamiliar to me. I thought they were getting less and less.  HA!  Just more intense now and more often.  I’m opening and closing the windows more and more (thank goodness it warmed up enough outside so I can finally get them open!) and I have a fan on me all night.  That will do just fine.

I sure could have done without that first appearance of a hot flash though.  It probably won’t be the last.

The things I get to look forward too.  Blech.

In the Beginning


I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl and fell in love with reading.  I wanted to read way before parents were allowed to teach their kids anything about it before kindergarten and even first grade.  My mom would read me my favourite books so much that I actually started to read a bit on my own.  Once I learned to read in school, though, there was no holding me back.  I remember driving with my parents and them asking me what a sign might say and I would patiently sound out each letter until the word seemed to appear in my head and burst out of my mouth.  Every time my family would cheer and applaud me for my efforts.

I would read to my little sister most nights, giving her the stories I heard and loved.  I would try to teach her to read while we played “Teacher”.

writngWriting came next and it seemed like a natural thing. I wrote plays for my family and friends to act in.  Quite elaborate ones too.  One of them I remember quite well because it was about a dragon (my dad) and the prince (my cousin, Freddy) having a battle over the princess, (my little sister, Colleen).  I was the director.  This all took place in the kitchen at our cottage at the beach.  The dragon kept blowing fire at the prince and I kept yelling at the prince to put out the fire.  Unfortunately, the prince got the bright idea to take a 5 gallon pail of water and throw it at the dragon, soaking everything in the kitchen.  My mom was not happy and there were no more plays inside anymore.  But I kept writing them.

I didn’t realize that I could write until 10th grade when our English teacher had us keep a journal which he read every night and marked or made comments.  One day he gave us starter lines for creative writing and one of them was the one I picked “As the clock ticked…”  Suddenly I had an incredible idea of the last seconds of a person’s life ticking away; someone on death row about to die for killing her husband.  I wrote pages and pages in the 20 minutes we were allowed to write.  When I handed it in I had such a thrill of excitement knowing that someone was going to read it and give me an honest opinion.  I knew it was good.

It was.  The teacher wrote several lines of positive comments and gave me an A+.  He also encouraged me to write more and try to find that burst of imagination and creativity more often.  He also told me that was one of the reasons for the journal.  Practicing my writing would only give me more of a voice and, by golly, it sure has.

I saw my niece last night and found out she’s been following my blog.  I always feel kind of weird when I find out someone I know reads all about what’s in my head and then that goes away almost right away.  I’m writing for me and for anyone who wants to read it.  She wants me to keep writing and that’s my intention.  It was great to  have feedback from her and I feel encouraged to keep up my once-a-week posts here.

One of these days I hope to make a living at this.  Wouldn’t that be something?  I want to take more creative writing courses and maybe get a novel out of this old noggin of mine.  That has always been my dream.