Today is the last day of middle school for Brit. It seems now like middle school has gone really fast. In 6th grade, it seemed to go really slow. I think it was just a matter of getting used to the new lay of the land. We are ready (we think… but at least excited) for the new adventures in high school.
Several months ago, my mom fell and fractured her hip. She had to go through a couple of months in a rehabilitation/skilled nursing facility to rebuild her walking skills, and then work on strength and endurance, and learn how to take some care of herself.
The other issue is that my mother is over 70 with some dementia and the anesthesia/surgery made this worse for awhile after the surgery. For awhile, she couldn’t remember anything longer than 30 seconds. Slowly, but surely, she started to return to her presurgery self. This meant that she had some dementia, could remember who people are, and would remember answers to her questions for longer than several minutes or even longer.
Friday night at 9:30pm, my dad rushed my mom to the ER. She had what he thought was a urinary tract infection, which turned out to be something different, but immediately treatable. They gave her an antibiotic and sent her home with a prescription.
By the time they arrived back in their neighborhood, my mom had started hallucinating. She was seeing kids in the street and told my dad to watch out for them. She saw children in their fireplace, too. It was creepy and disturbing for me. I can’t imagine what it was like for my dad, who had to watch the whole thing unravel and figure out what to do next.
Mom went to bed. It was 3:30am on Saturday. My dad could finally go to sleep at 4am. My dad, who normally is up several times during the night taking my mom to the bathroom, finally got some sleep. My mom slept most of the day.
When she woke up around dinner time, she did not know who my dad was or generally any answers to any questions my dad had. She wouldn’t eat because she “didn’t want to take your food”. Back to sleep she went, tearfully.
I’m not sure what happened between then and the time she woke up again. She walked into the kitchen and asked for dinner, cracked a few jokes, and recognized my dad. She knew that she was in the skilled nursing facility before, but couldn’t remember going to the ER last night. This is probably a good thing.
I think back to what a clinician in the skilled nursing facility said. Any change, any trauma, anything different will be a big disruption to the patient. Maybe the trip to the ER and the work they had to do to make her better, was overload for her. Maybe she worried she would have to go back to the facility, or she WAS back at the facility, and that was all it took to set off this stream of unsual thoughts.
Minds are so complicated. When you think of everything it does, really, every waking and sleeping moment, it’s quite amazing and complex. My mom’s goes to interesting places sometimes that are not so great, but it was a relief to have her come back to herself for now.
Keep praying. It’s working.
I finally remembered where this was written down and decided to post it here where I could find it. It was written by my Dad in 2009. I admired it so much and was going to have it framed, but he beat me to it. It hangs in my room above my dresser. Sometimes when I am getting ready for bed or getting ready for work, I re-read it and it makes me smile and say “aww” in an “I feel loved” sort of way. It is a piece I will always treasure.
The Little Girl . . .
. . . the first years and selected vignettes.
The Little Girl was a surprise. Not unwelcome, mind you. Never a fleeting thought of that.
Not that there wasn’t some concern. Daddy had finished his third year at university, and Mommy was working. With scholarships, Daddy’s summer job, Mommy’s work, and some student loans, they were getting by – but just barely.
The concern ended at the first heartbeat. But . . . PARENTS! How does one become a parent? Where’s the book? Where can one take a course? Is panic appropriate? We’re only kids ourselves.
Mommy and Daddy lived in a second-floor walk-up flat with hand-me-down furniture, no air-conditioning, and a bunch of critters that ran for cover in the kitchen when the lights were switched on.
This would not do. Not for The Little Girl. Daddy and Mommy cornered the landlady. Either evict the critters, or find new tenants. The critters were gone within a week. The Little Girl was not to learn “Bug on ME!” for a while. Then, Daddy made his first-ever credit purchase – a Sears window air conditioner, back when it was still Sears, Roebuck & Co.
The Little Girl made her appearance in mid-summer. Good timing that, because university was not in session and Daddy was able to continue summer work to save up for the fall semester. The Little Girl was born at 7:11 a.m. She was destined either to be very lucky – or to manage a convenience store. Daddy hoped for the former.
Vignette: In those days, fathers were not allowed in the delivery room, so Daddy waited. When the nurse told him it was a little girl, he rushed to the nursery. With his hands and nose pressed against the glass, he saw Her. Daddy cried. Of happiness, of course. First born. A Little Girl. THE Little Girl.
The Little Girl was a happy baby. Tow-headed, giggly, and with a smile that would melt a heart at forty paces. That fall, Daddy switched to mostly night classes so he could be with The Little Girl during the day, and Mommy could bring home something of a paycheck. Balancing the checkbook. Loans. Struggles. More than a few worries. But, with one wrinkly-nosed grin from The Little Girl . . . the worries didn’t matter. And, by the next summer, The Little Girl was zooming around like she owned the place.
Vignette: Mommy and Daddy took The Little Girl outside and set her in the middle of a blanket. To the little hand touching the grass it was barbed wire, and her world was an eight-foot square. She didn’t seem to mind. Neither did her blue bunny.
The Little Girl didn’t notice, but Mommy had a little surprise planned. In the fall, something called “A Little Brother” showed up. The Little Girl didn’t know what to think of A Little Brother, but within a year, she was The Big Sister, and proud of it. She still is.
Vignette: See Mommy carrying A Little Brother into the house, See Daddy carrying The Little Girl. See Daddy slip and fall in the mud in the front yard. See The Little Girl covered in mud with a puzzled look. See Daddy laugh. See The Little Girl laugh.
Two years later, Daddy graduated. He had a real job. Mommy and Daddy threw all their broken-down furniture over the balcony to be hauled off, packed up a couple of beds, a crib, a TV, The Little Girl and A Little Brother and moved. Omaha. Gateway to the west. Where The Little Girl still lives. With a Little Girl of her own.
Later, Mommy and Daddy moved. The Little Girl was older, and on her own. Then came summer and The Little Girl’s birthday. It was a Wednesday. Walking through the garage at work, it was the first time they were separated on her birthday. Daddy cried . . .
Little Girls make you do that, but you wouldn’t trade them for the world.
sometimes you don’t realize what really grounds you until you don’t feel grounded anymore, and you’re treading water to figure out what is suddenly missing. 2012 was a disturbing year for me, not because of my immediate family, but because some things I didn’t imagine would go the way they did… did. People I thought I could at least expect some sort of consideration from… failed. Miserably.
And even though I have so many people in my life who are a blessing and supportive, I was treading water, suddenly “not myself” and trying to figure out how to get back to me.
My health took a downward spiral. My body started doing unexpected things. Heart beating fast. Gastic reflux. Stomach pain. And then the ears started ringing.
My medication had to go on a schedule. I became a pro at figuring out when I was able to eat so that I could take meds on an empty stomach, and not eat afterward for another hour. It was miserable. I hated my doctors for not fixing my problems. I hated myself for whatever role stress was playing in my health issues. I hated the people who caused the stress. I hated that God could let people get away with being so horrible and thoughtless. To me. What did I do to deserve all of this?
I was lost.
So I decided to go to talk it out with a random party with credentials to help sort things out. Her name is Julie. We talked about miserable things that happened and what I thought I could do about them. We talked about not exposing my mind to hateful things in the world, like “the news” and movies that were troubling. We talked about “not talking” about health problems all the time. We talked about paths to take to be healthier… get a new doctor, exercise, etc. We talked about how I didn’t understand God anymore.
I learned that being anxious about unexpected life circumstances is normal.
One day, I found a new doctor that I don’t hate. She reduced and changed my meds, and although I still have gastric issues, they are not as bad as they were. I can eat whenever I want. I’ve started to try food with gluten, and I have not been harmed, although I do prefer some gluten-free things now (like Chebe bread and pizza mixes). I am starting to include more fruit and veg for fiber and health. I’m learning to deal with the ear ringing.
I started reading a book called, “One Thousand Gifts“, by Ann Voskamp. I decided that God was probably not trying to kill me. God loves me, and I have things to learn about life, like how to survive and be happy in an environment that is not always perfect, although it is perfect in a majority of moments. I’ll deal with the rest only when I need to.
Once these two areas of my life became more manageable, I felt empowered. I decided I probably had some sort of say in my life again.
It was all I really needed. I may not be 100% yet, but I’m about 90%.
Thank you to my wonderful family who is always supportive and helpful, even when I must really push them to the limit. I love them.
This is from a few weeks ago, but I love this performance by my daughter’s school band of “Kitsune – The Fox Spirits’. We are always so proud of the band.
AND.. you can’t leave without hearing “Songs of the Whalemen”
for the USCIS to say, “You’re Approved”. Several of our compadres on VisaJourney who filed around the time we did are getting approved. We think we should have the word sometime this month. This means Ian will be “good to go” (his favorite American saying… one of them) for 10 years until he HAS to apply for anything else. He seems quite keen to vote, though, so I have a strong feeling he might be going for citizenship next.
The only time when it’s been outwardly apparent (aside from the British accent) that Ian’s not a US Citizen is when we traveled to Canada for a day last year. It occurred to us that we needed to make sure the entry and exit rules weren’t different for a British citizen than a US citizen. And of course the entry questions were a bit odd… “Why are you here from the UK”, for example. Erm.. we just crossed the border, dude. We are visiting Seattle and thought it would be fun to leave the country and visit the aquarium, ok?
He would definitely have the advantage, if (and we’re definitely not) we were going to Cuba. He would be able to get off the plane. We would get an immediate return flight. We need a special visa and we need to be on an approved sort of visit (being a journalist or traveling with the Pope or something).
I got a call from school around 10:15 this morning from the school nurse. Brit had tripped and landed on her elbow. The nurse was recommending an x-ray, so I picked up Ian on the way to school, called the doctor on the way, and arranged an appointment. (Well, it was more of an “Brit may have broken her elbow and needs an x-ray… Where should we go?” call.. totally not knowing if we needed the ER yet, or urgent care or needed to see the doctor first)
We had a doctor’s appointment set for 15 minutes from where we were, which was awesome, since we were in the same neighborhood.
The doctor examined her arm, did a few physical tests, then sent us for x-rays to see if there was a break or fracture somewhere, but luckily, there wasn’t.
We came away with an excuse for gym class for no upper body physical activity and instructions to give her 600 mg of ibuprofen and ice to her elbow for 7 – 14 days.
Crazy day, but it turned out alright.
It started with this
.. present opening..
.. a few international phonecalls to our dads living overseas..
.. a trip to Lauritzen Gardens, where we viewed lots of interesting gardens and rode the tram (it was a hot day!)
Then we dined on amazingly grilled amazing steak and corn-on-the-cob.
It was a good day.
We spent a few hours Saturday at the Summer Arts Festival. It was interesting to walk through the artist’s stalls and see what they had for sale. Brit bought a signed photograph taken of a polar bear underwater. We’ve framed it and hung it on the wall.
The band at the festival was a Native American rock band called Brulé. We took video but the background noise really took away our ability to do their music justice. So you can read about them here: http://www.brulerecords.com/isis/promovid3.html and here: http://www.brulerecords.com/home.html.
We spent an hour or so on Sunday at the Omaha Farmer’s Market in Aksarben Village. There are a lot of people walking their dogs there, and it’s always nice to meet them. We bought a few things, like a new collar for Molly, our mini-schnauzer, and some ground beef from Thistle and Clover. We’re cooking some burgers for dinner (when I say “we”, I mean “Ian”) and topping them with chèvre and some habanero paste from JPaste.
My parents are on their way back to Italy. They’ve had loads of travelling in the last week. When they get back, I bet work will be relaxing. We’ll see. I always get incredible jetlag (in a flu-sort of way) going that direction.
It was good to see them. I hope we’ll see them again soon!
My parents flew out from Italy. It’s been their first trip to the US since they moved to Italy (temporarily) last year. It was nice to catch up with them and show them around the bits of Omaha they hadn’t seen yet.
This is us (sorry, Ian is taking the picture) laughing because Brit kept laughing.
We ate at a really nice restaurant called Firebirds, which has wonderful steak, by the way. Ian cooked an amazing dinner of pork chops, potato salad, potato wedges (for those against eating potato salad.. is there anyone? Oh.. Brittany!), and a lovely salad with homemade vinaigrette.
We toured Village Point’s shopping area, went to Kohl’s to do some shopping, then my dad bought loads of Jiffy cake mix and other various things to send back to Italy.
Oh, and we couldn’t miss going down to the Missouri River to see how overflowing it was.
So, we’re winding down on one of our “projects” that has been going on for several months. It’s been a few months on the edge of my seat, really.
Have you ever had someone say, “I don’t wish to do that. Do this instead and then you won’t have to ask me anymore.” So you say, “Are you sure that’s what you want me to do”, and they say, “Yes. I will sign off. Just get me the paperwork.”
So you get the person the paperwork and there are all sorts of reasons why the paperwork won’t be signed today. Maybe in 3 weeks. Or maybe not. We’ll see.
It goes on to the point where you’re thinking, “Has this all been some sort of crazy joke to get us to do a bunch of work and accomplish nothing but create a boatload of frustration?”
Then, the papers are finally signed and you can MOVE ON. Moving on is good. Moving on is one less thing to worry about.
No, this doesn’t have anything horrible to do with my marriage.
Anyway, in other news, I have all of next week off. Thank you. I’ve been on-call all week and odd stuff has been happening. So, good luck to who is left. I’m not the one able to fix these things, just taking calls from people who are frustrated due to the problems. So I’ll have a week of quiet where I imagine they’ll have it all squared away by the time I return.
Yay for vacation.
in a pleasant sort of way.