24 September 2014

Feeling Sabulous . . . a letter to The Sandman

Dear Mr. Sandman,

I have one simple question for you:  Are you a work-a-holic? 

 The reason I ask is that something seems to have gone haywire in our relationship.  In fact, you are quite overdoing my nightly sanding.

Now I know that some people think you're just a mythical figure . . . sneaking along at night to sprinkle sand in the eyes of little children to make them sleepy . . . but I believe in you.  In fact I'm quite sure you exist because I feel the results of your gritty mischief each and every night.  And I don't know how to break this to you . . . because the primary task on your job description is to make folks sleepy . . . but, with the constant fatigue I already feel, no enhancement is needed on that front.

Now, Sir,  it wouldn't be so bad if you just stopped at my eyes.    Why do you feel it your duty to move your desert-like presence on to my mouth, throat, lungs, nose and sinuses - causing me to wake up like I've been through the wringer?

And as to the dreams you're supposed to bring????  Who, in their right mind, could dream pleasant dreams when they're practically gasping for air all night?  I'm convinced your over-zealousness in the sanding department is causing me to wake each night - the victim of horrible nightmares and panic.

Please excuse any personal insult, Mr. Sandman, but from your picture up there you appear to have achieved a ripe old age.   And perchance you have grown a wee bit confused or hard of hearing in your golden years.  And I ask you:  Have you mistaken the word fabulous for sabulous?  Because I used to feel fabulous upon waking in the morning, but instead I now feel sabulous (that's right, old Sandy, it's a real word which means sandy or gritty.)

And I miss the days of feeling fabulous.

So, without further ado, I am ordering you to skip right over my bed tonight - and every night henceforth.  Consider this fair notice that I am barring my windows and doors against you and going to bed in full combat gear.  I have sprayed and swabbed the inside of my mouth, moisturized my eyes, jelled up my lids, and neti-potted my sinuses.  I have even employed my cool mist humidifier so that if you even dare to show yourself in my room you will be vaporized in no time flat.

Please don't take this personally, Mr. Sandman.  You know I hate to break our long-standing relationship, but it's really much better for both of us.  I get a reprieve from your over-sanding; and you get a chance to rest.

Yes, rest.  Take a vacation.  Relax and ride the waves on the beach where you gather your sand.   Or better yet, retire altogether and spend the rest of your days in the Sahara.

Leave all that nightly flitting to the tooth fairy.  She's much younger than you are.

And she brings money. . .

Let's face it. . .if she took your job, Mr. Sandman, I'd be a millionaire by now!

14 August 2014

Drip Dry and the "D" Word

I don't usually complain about my husband, Drip Dry, here on the public airwaves.

Nor do I make it a habit to discuss my digestive distress.

But in this post I'm going to do them both together.   And - for the ease of my readers - let me just tell you that when I refer to the "D" word, I am defining that disgusting word which I absolutely detest - diarrhea. . .or the word I most decidedly prefer - dysentery.

So it all started last week when I began having some vague abdominal discomfort along with a low-grade fever.  By Saturday morning I had determined that the pain was so debilitating that I decided to drag myself to the ER.  Now, mind you, I begged Drip Dry to drop me off at the door so I could en-dure the or-deal alone, but he refused to be deterred.

Now, I can't determine if Drip Dry has developed an innate defense mechanism to deflect his own discomfort in hospital settings, but he definitely turns into a decidedly different person when he goes through those revolving doors.  He enters them a relatively-sane and intelligent creature, and exits on the other side - not exactly dumb or defective - but we'll just call it a tad bit. . .  deranged.  You see, Drip Dry is decidedly inquisitive by nature, but somehow his whole "inquiring minds want to know" thing goes spiraling out of control and instead of dealing with the medical data at hand- he morphs into some kind of detective and attempts to discover everything - and anything - he can about his surroundings.

So as I'm signing in at the desk - in decided discomfort - the receptionist takes a palm scan of my hand and explains it's a new way of i-dentifying patients.  Now this little discovery made Drip Dry almost delirious with joy and he began to try and discern everything he could about this new display of technology. . . all while I am standing next to him in debilitating pain and dying to drop myself into the wheelchair next to me.  But - alas - the two receptionists are so enthralled by Drip Dry's disruptions and diversions that they forget all about me and then proceed to deride me when I incorrectly assumed that the process of placing myself in the chair had devolved on to me.

Eventually, despite the distractions, I am somehow delivered into the inner sanctums of the ER and Drip Dry meets my designated nurse for the first time, where his detective skills are further put to work - bombarding her with a deluge of questions and demanding to know all about her life. . . in other words distracting her from her tasks with his discussion. . . at which point I try to divert his attention by suggesting he take a walk and make his discoveries elsewhere.  And when he came back from his exploratory trip (and I swear to God he used this word) he asked her about the demographics of ER patients at that time of day - which he had decidedly determined were. . . well. .  .old.  I then reminded Drip Dry that the pediatric ER was directly on the other side of the building and suggested that he go check out the demographic data over there, but he definitively declined.

Enter the doctor.

So the M."D" proceeds to ask me to describe my symptoms in detail, and - after I am done - he does his due diligence by asking me if there's "anything else" I've been experiencing . . .  like, perhaps, the "D" word????  Now actually I had been battling with the "D" word for about two weeks, but I was raised to believe that a lady doesn't discuss those kinds of things unless directly asked. . . so, hence, I demurely divulged that - yes - I had been experiencing the "D" word.

And at this precise moment Drip Dry proceeds to enter the discussion and defiantly declares, "But that's not unusual for her."

Excuse my momentary diversion here, but did you know that back in the dark ages a British king would have a dignitary designated as "Groom of the Stool"?   Now this particular job was a decidedly distinguished  position because he got to deliver the king's daily dump to the royal doctor each morning. . . after which the doctor would dissect said stool - trying to decipher and detect  signs of royal disease, dysentery, decay, or other debilitating defects in the king's deposit which might indicate the king's untimely demise.  If he found none, he then duly decreed the king fit to do his duty for another day.

Now, what the devil possessed Drip Dry to deduce that he had been deputized as my own personal "Groom of the Stool", is beyond me.  And perhaps I was a tad bit delirious with discomfort at that point - but I'm still wondering why I didn't debunk his statement then and there. . .  for, in truth, the duration of the "D" word was - without a doubt - decidedly unusual for me.  But - whatever the determining factors - his statement had the effect of dissembling, detracting, and derailing the discussion - while disguising what may have definitely been an i-dentifying symptom and perhaps depriving me of a direct diagnosis.

All to my detriment!
So to make a long story short. . . after Drip Dry decodes the meaning of the "crash cart"  in the CT room. . . and discovers that he, himself, has a swollen and distended thumb that may need the doctor's attention. . . I then needed to direct old Drippy to desist trying to operate the blood pressure cuff himself. . . which was quickly followed by a heated debate about whether the little thingy they place on your dorsal digit (otherwise know as a finger) displays your oxygenation rate or your pulse ( I was right - it determines and displays both) the doctors decide to send me home with a un-dignified diagnosis of the detection of gallstones.

And told me to wait it out.

Which I did. 

Diligently, I might add.

Until I dragged myself unaccompanied to my own doctor on Monday who - due to the discomfort and duration of the "D" word - diagnosed diverticulitis and placed me on antibiotics and a special diet which is destined to solve my digestive dilemma!

With no thanks to Drip Dry . . .
who I just may now designate as my deranged, yet dedicated, 
"Duke of the Derriere "

11 August 2014

Looking Through the Sjogren's Lens

My thoughts today are about my own personal struggle when it comes to assessing my health problems.

Now, before the cascade of Sjogren's symptoms hit me this past Spring, I was the consummate-doctor-avoider.  I hadn't had a mamo or gynecological check-up in ten years. . . had never dared to submit to the horrors of a colonoscopy even though my father contracted colon cancer at age 54 . . . and switched dentists every two years because I always was ashamed that I hadn't followed up with the last one.  I suffered from fear of the doctor in a BIG way and my anxiety regarding doctor's offices totally outweighed my innate sense of responsibility.  The only responsible thing I did was to visit my primary care physician (when they refused to refill prescriptions) to get my hypertension, cholesterol, and Xanax scripts renewed - the last of, without which, I couldn't even dream of entering a doctor's office.

The other responsible thing I did way back in 2010 was ask my primary to run an ANA on me because my daughters all struggled with rheumatological and autoimmune issues.  Of course it was positive.  I then visited a rheumatologist who did a full lupus panel and found the Sjogren's antibody. But because I didn't feel I had the symptoms (and the nurse who insisted on weighing me was the neighbor of the most busy-bodied woman I knew and I could just image her whispering my over-weight over her back fence. . . ) well, I never returned and didn't get treatment.

Until it hit.

And hit with a vengeance after I had the flu this past Spring.

So in the past four months I have seen more "ologists" than I ever envisioned seeing in an entire lifetime. And - after a visit to the ER this past weekend which the old me would have put off until the symptoms went away or killed me - I'm wondering how this new me. . .  this Sjogren's me. .  . can find a happy medium.

If I get a headache now, the new me tends to think. . . this d**#*d disease has given me a headache!, when the old me would have taken a couple of advil and not given it much thought.  The Sjogren's me experiences a fever and assumes it's yet-another complication, but perhaps it's not!  Do I call the doctor when I wake up and can't move my fingers?

And perhaps (pardon my french here) diarrhea is just crappy no matter when - and how - you get it. . . .

Am I making the mistake of viewing my entire life through this new Sjogren's lens?  Have I gone to some kind of extreme and can't see the forest through the trees?

How do others handle this distinction?

How do you know which doctor to consult?  When a symptom is urgent?   When it's nothing to worry about?

And how do you know which lens to look through?

Just wondering. .  .

04 August 2014

Let Me Drink What?

So you may not know this one little fact about me:  I'm a crazy serial reader.

That's right. .  . a serial reader.

And in the last three months my appetite for the "classics" has been veracious.  I have re-read my favorite Jane Austen novels. .  .suffered my way through only one Oscar Wilde book (after being spooked by Dorian Gray, why would you venture another???). . .  worked my way through at least seven novels by Trollope (I'm not the trollope, mind you, Anthony quite clearly was). . . and - with Henry James on deck in the batter's box - I'm now thoroughly enthralled by Edith Wharton.

Or I was. . .

Until I stumbled upon the following quote by her today:

This quote. . . on this day.

The day after my return from the family "vacation" which nearly undid me. . . the very day after the very night I listened for the return of one daughter who never came home and another who departed for Boston at 4:00 a.m. . . .the day I woke up and literally hobbled throughout the house with the pain in my knees, ankles and hips. .  . the day I succumbed to a two-hour nap. . . the day I took one look at the bright beautiful sunshine and thought:  Oh how many layers of SPF clothing and how much suncreen will I need to protect myself from THAT!. . .the unmistakeable day when I decided to shut myself in my air-conditioned house and bury myself in Edith - despite the fact that there isn't an ounce of food in this house? And This is what Edith has to say to me today???

Oh Edith, how you disappoint!

So I'm changing your quote, lady.   I'm changing it to this:

Keep Closed the Windows and Let Me Drink My Box!

24 July 2014

Erasing "Church Lady" from My Moniker

As many of you know, I've been on a family/medical leave of absence from my church lady job for 12 weeks now.    What originally began as a "family" medical leave for Ponzi's illness evolved into a leave for my own health as I began deal with the emerging and varied symptoms of Sjogren's Syndrome.

But as my scheduled time to return approached, I grew more and more anxious about returning to my job: anxious because I knew in my heart of hearts that I could never handle the stress level again . . . anxious because I didn't even want to try . . . . and anxious because every time I thought about it, it brought back flashbacks of a different time. .  .a different me. .  . a me that can never be again.

But you see, the saddest part is that I don't even want to drive by the building any longer.

Because I feel like I quit God.

I quit God and that beautiful and sacred space that used to be my second home.  I quit the floors I used to see polished to perfection . . .the weekly liturgies I used to put together with care. .  .the grieving families I used to help. . . the complainers I used to lend an ear to. .  .the plumbers I used to send in the right direction . . . the schedules I used to prepare . . . the altar servers I used to train . . .the poems and prayers I used to write. . . Christmas decorations I used to oversee . . . toilet paper I used to order. . .

You name it.  I have walked away from it all.

I knew every square inch of those buildings - inside and out.   I was baptized in that church and made every one of my sacraments there (except one - ironically enough, a fire erupted in the church the week after Drip Dry stepped through the doors so we needed to move our wedding to another church)  And my children have all grown up with that church building as a part of their lives.

You see, I'm a creature of habit.   And that historic building and all it encompassed was a huge part of my life.

And I would be one big, fat liar if I didn't tell you that I am now feeling tremendous guilt in the walking away part.  And I'm having a tough time distinguishing between my relationship with God and my relationship with my job.

A job which was literally sucking me dry.

In retrospect, I honestly can't say when my Sjogren's symptoms began.  I've read that saliva production needs to drop to at least 40 percent before you notice a dry mouth.  And could my production have dropped so dramatically that my lips were literally stuck together and my tear production was less than half the minimum just one month after encountering the flu?  I know my joint pain has increased dramatically (and still continues to do so) but I had been dealing with some level of pain for at least five years.  And the neuropathy in my hands and feet?   The truth is, I've been ignoring that for years as well.  Did I ever mention those mornings I would appear at work without the ability to grasp a pen hard enough to sign my own name?

No, I focused on my increasing anxiety levels instead - working my way through different therapists, anti-depressants, and Xanax strengths.   And that alone should have warned me to slow down. . . to say "no" a few more times (well, perhaps at least once). . . and to pay more attention to what my body was trying to tell me.

Instead I waited for the train wreck to hit.

And hit it did.  So now I can't go up or down a flight of stairs without pain.  I cannot walk through a grocery store without feeling fatigue.  And I cannot eat a mere cracker without liquid with which to wash it down.  (As if I needed yet-another reason to be thankful that God invented wine!)

Yes, back to God now. . . .

You see, God, I really didn't want or mean to quit you, but I needed to quit some things I thought I was doing in your name (but - in reality - was perhaps doing for my own reasons.)  I needed to stop trying to be superwoman in others eyes.  I needed to stop working seven days a week.   I needed to stop pretending I was strong.  And perhaps I needed to be a little less of a control freak.  You see, I always said that if I were God, I would like a clean church.  (For why else would they say that cleanliness was next to Godliness?)

But I'm not you, now am I?   Perhaps I needed to concentrate on YOU more.  Perhaps I even needed to attend Mass without thinking that the altar servers should tweak their bell-ringing. . . or worrying that I had left a typo in the announcements. . . or resisting the urge to run and pick up drooped flower petals off of the floor. Perhaps I needed time to sit down in your presence and just listen. . . to take the time to pray without other thoughts crowding my head.

Novel idea. . . now isn't it?

So God, I am earnestly asking you to help me though my little crisis of conscience here.   I know it may not be today. . . or tomorrow. . . or next week. (As a matter of fact, I'll be on vacation next week and will have tons of other stuff to worry about. . . like my children drowning in the ocean . .  .or getting in a car accident. . .or having the strength to go to the grocery store. . . or looking like a fool bundled up in sun-protecttive clothing while everyone else is scantily clad. . . .so don't even try to help me next week, cause I'm devoting the whole week to truly being undun.)

But I'm counting on you to see me through to the other side somehow. . .  someday. . .in some fashion.

Because I'm crying real tears here. . .
not ones from a dropper. . .
for the first time in like forever. . .
so that really must mean something. . .

21 July 2014

Only a Sister. . .

So I think by now we all know that I'm a bit of a wine "enthusiast". The fact that I have a Pinterest Board with a current count of 292 pins on my love of wine alone may testify to that. . .

And I don't think I've kept it a secret from my readers that I've been know to imbibe from time to time in wine that comes in a cardboard "cask" (a.k.a. box)

or - in a pinch - a purse. . . .

 But only a sister would be brave enough to send me a photo of this sign she saw while on vacation. . . .

Now if I could buy wine by the suitcase, I'd be the happiest woman in the world!  Just think how much fun I'd have packing. . . .


Oh. . . and did I show you the new travel mug I bought today????  It sooooo matches my bedroom decor.  Not to mention my car!!!!