Archive for July, 2010

“Let It Be Me”

July 15th, 2010 No comments

As kids, we’re taught to be independent. We learn how to look both ways before we cross the street, not only so that we know to be safe, but so that we can do it alone.

Sometime along the way, most people begin to struggle to ask for help when they really do need it. I know I’m not alone when I say that it’s hard for me. So difficult that I never asked for help when I needed it the most: not even from my mother; not even when she pleaded with me to let her.

Today, I’m in my 30’s.  I’m just learning how to ask for help.

I’m also a parent, facing my own desires to push my kids towards becoming their own people. At times, I forget to focus my teachings on encouraging them to ask for help when they need it, too.

It’s okay to ask for help. It’s natural to need it. We can’t, and shouldn’t, always stand alone.

As Ray LeMontagne says in his (most beautiful IMHO) song, Let It Be Me:

“There comes a time

A time in everyone’s life

Where nothing seems to go your way

Where nothing seems to turn out right

There may come a time

You just can’t seem to find your place

For every door you open

Seems like you get two slammed in your face

That’s when you need someone

Someone that you, you can call

When all your faith is gone

It feels like you can’t go on

Let it be me

If it’s a friend that you need

Let it be me”

Please note: The lyrics are not as quoted online, but as I hear them.  Perhaps I am incorrect.  Perhaps I am not.  Listen and judge for yourself.

Categories: Life Tags: , ,


July 10th, 2010 No comments

There are two things that I find acceptable to mutter under my breath out of frustration in my household.

One is to my husband. The other is to my kids.

See if you can match which mutter applies to which family member:

A) “Son of a bitch”

B) “Mother fucker”

Hint: I think it’s okay, because I’m really just insulting myself.

Categories: Life Tags: ,

Hope from luck

July 8th, 2010 2 comments

The DMV is a nasty place, full of excruciatingly long lines; people waiting impatiently to hand over money they don’t want to pay; and topped off with rude clerks.  It’s hardly the place that I thought I would find a little hope, and maybe even a little good luck.

Particularly not since it took me no less than FOUR trips there to get two cars registered.  ..I won’t spoil this post with the details behind that headache.  Rather, I mention it because I’d noticed the guy perched outside the door, begging for petition signatures, for two days in a row.  Finally leaving with plates in hand, able to cross something off my to-do list and still on a kidless-high from leaving the munchkins with the sitter, I didn’t wait for my time to be requested before I approached him.

After accusing me of hitting on him, I found my flirtatious new friend telling me not only about the politician he was trying to get on the ballot, but of his own personal struggles.  (Please remember.. I’ve been practicing getting strangers to open their hearts to me within five minutes for a while, now.)

“I’m not much of a reader,” he slipped in, trying to quickly move past his words.

I stopped signing my name long enough that he made eye contact.  “That’s an interesting statement.”

“I can read sentences.. but not all together.  They stop making sense after the first or second one.  I’m just.. not much of a reader.  I’m more a ‘common sense’ kind of guy.”

After gently pushing a bit further, he told me a little about being epileptic.  Unable to drive.  Without a”real” job.

My breath was sucked from my chest as he went on to share his dream to bring joy to our local Children’s Mercy Hospital, where both he and my own daughter have spent some dark times.

Pulling his wallet from his back pocket, he picked through it carefully as we spoke.  A look of finality on his face, “Here,” he said, pressing a carefully laminated heart into my palm.  I looked down.

My lucky heart

My lucky heart

“Where did you find this?” I demanded, skeptical of the four-leaf clover I held.

“I just.. look down,” he replied, looking down, digging a half dozen more samples out to show me.  After sharing his collection, he demanded, “And what do they stand for?”

“Luck,” I stammered back.

“Exactly.  Those little things have given me luck.  Luck in health.  Luck in life.  And now.. It will bring you and your kids the same.”

The directness of his words and the heart pressed not really in laminate, but as he admitted, in packing tape, struck me in the center of my chest.  I’m not sure quite how I managed to walk away from that conversation, just as I’m still uncertain how to end this post.

Equally, I have no idea what tomorrow will bring.  Will the four leaves bring me luck?  Or will it wind up being just another superstition?

We shall see.

Categories: Life Tags:

Living life with pain

July 2nd, 2010 No comments

I’m fed up.  More so than usual.  So, I’m coming out of the closet.

I’m one of the 9% of adults in the U.S. that suffer from chronic pain.  If you’ve met me in person, this may not surprise you.  You’ve perhaps noticed the limp, heard my knees and hips pop, or seen me struggle to straighten my back.

The earliest contributor to my condition is EBV.  Basically (for me; not for most), it’s mono that reoccurs in my body.  It doesn’t lay dormant like it normally does after running its course through a correctly-functioning immune system (which mine, apparently, is not).  The virus flares up when I am sick with a cold/flu/sinus infection/etc; if I don’t sleep enough; if I don’t eat enough (tricky little bug, since it makes you not hungry); sometimes, even if I’m just carrying too much stress.

One big side-effect of EBV is the fatigue.  Fatigue that doesn’t make me feel unable to focus, but like I’m unable to support my body or lift my arms.  When living through a flare-up, I take baths rather than showers.  I sit while I brush my teeth.  When I can get away with it, I don’t brush my hair at all.  (Not.worth.the.effort..)  I fall a lot, because my legs lose the ability to support my small frame.  (Ever wonder why I’m always in pants?  I’m hiding bruises.)  Once I’m down, I question whether I have the strength to pull myself back up.

There’s a weird pain associated with EBV, particularly in the early days of flare ups (when evening fevers are also most common; in the first 10-14 days).  I’ve heard it described as muscle aching, but it feels deeper than that.  It feels like my bone-marrow is pushing through it’s barrier and seeping into my muscles, as if turned to lava.  The dull, fiery pain pushes between my ribs; under my knee caps; in my arms and legs; behind my eye lids.  (Yes. I know there’s no marrow in my eye lid – it’s just the same pain.)

Then, there was September 29, 1999.  The accident.

Apparently, I resemble a mailbox and am invisible through a chain-link fence when I’m on a bike, wearing a white t-shirt, in broad-daylight.

Excerpt from the police report
Excerpt from the police report

In respect to the man that hit me, I must add that he was 76 years old and had a stroke while he was driving.  I think he ended up with the short end of the deal.  I heard that he died months later.

RIP, old man.  Perhaps we’ll share a beer in heaven (whatever that is; I’m not really a “religious” person) and laugh over your reaction some day.  “What were you doing in the middle of the street?  I never let my kids ride their bikes in the street for exactly this reason!”

I was 20 years old and on my way home from an undergrad class.

>blinkblink<  … I think that was pretty much my response to him.  I had no idea what was going on at that point.  One minute I was cruising home, the next I was sitting on the curb wondering what had happened after I yelled, “FUCK!!!” (after I realized he was starting to accelerate rather than stop at his two-way stop sign. I had the right of way/no sign.)

Even though I stood up without a broken bone and carried myself to the curb to sit down, that one left me with several pain-related issues.

My back and shoulders never stop hurting.  Never.

I’m not sure which is the primary cause of my limp: my knees, or my hips.

The accident then led to a simple sinus infection going misdiagnosed for nearly four years.  Insert the now incurable (without invasive surgery) migraine-esque headaches that cause light sensitivity, as the sinus cavity in my forehead pushed into my retina.

If you’ve ever wondered why I almost always wear my People Magazine hat: it’s proven the best at cutting out the most painful lights directly above me while giving me relief through tightening it against a pressure point in my forehead.  (That’s why I’m always adjusting/re-tightening it.)

Once an active person, I went to the gym, enjoyed running and biking, and enjoyed hiking and bouldering in Phoenix.

Today, I struggle to walk and stay standing long enough to fill my kids’ glasses full of juice.  Prescription bottles are even difficult to open, with my under-used muscles’ premature weakening.

There’s shame in chronic pain.

But there’s also isolation after years of pushing people away, rather than admit to what I’m dealing with.

So, I recently made reservations to spend a weekend among people that I grew up with, and go to a place that I haven’t been since this whole thing started.  I haven’t been home in a dozen years.

I found myself on the phone with an old friend today, forewarning him with what I feel he’s about to see: the shell of the person that he once knew.  His reply?  “I don’t judge.”

I hope you don’t either.

Categories: Life Tags: , ,