Breaks

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything.

I’m sitting on the couch wondering what to do with all my thoughts and then I remembered that THIS is the place where I put all my thoughts.  So here goes…

Work?  Stressful.

I feel like there are rubber bands being stretched and put on a ball.  A ball of rubber bands in all different colors.  If it weren’t my life, it would be intriguing.  Artistic.

But it is my life so I don’t really look at the mix of colors; instead I feel the compression of the bands getting tighter and tighter.  Pressure in my head, shoulders, arms, legs.  It’s all over my body, even though this is not a physical pressure.  I still feel it physically.

Children?  Not too stressful, but lingering uncertainties about the future.  Compounded by:

Spouse.

Last Friday I received a phone call at work.  The thing that lingers on the periphery of my mind but I didn’t ever expect to actually happen.

Spouse was in an accident.  Driving a utv on the driveway at the cabin to pack down snow so I could get in with the car later in the day.  He hit a patch of ice and it slid then flipped, crushing his leg underneath.  He was alone, without a phone.  He spent an unknown length of time – at least an hour – sitting on the snow and ice trying to chisel out a hole to get his leg out.  It didn’t work.

The neighbor lady came home early from work and found him.  The furniture delivery people arrived shortly thereafter and were able to lift the vehicle off his leg.  He got himself into her truck and she drove him to the nearest hospital.

I met him there – he called me from her phone on the way to the hospital, 45 minutes from my office.  Yada yada…broken tibia and fibula…transfer to a trauma center in the same city that I had just driven from.  But he had to wait a few hours for transport.  Except that there was also a glossed over little detail about kidney function, some medical terminology that I don’t remember, stabilizing him before transport, etc.  So all the time he was in a bed in the trauma room and I giggled because his broken leg was considered a “trauma”, it was actually much more complicated.

Anyway, that’s not what I wanted to express.

I’m tired.  I’m tired of not sleeping well.  I’m tired of sleeping on the couch.  I’m tired of not sitting down to relax until 9:30 p.m. when the patient is finally tucked in bed with his ice pack, medication supply, glass of water, phones, eye glasses and whatever other bits he needs to get through to morning.

I’m tired of work stress.  I’m tired of dogs that bark at nothing.  I’m tired of being the only person who loads and unloads the dishwasher.

Funny how a break in a leg can lead to a break inside me.  But not funny at all.

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ZZZ

So tired.

Sarah McLachlan sings a song that says “I’m so tired but I can’t sleep; standing on the edge of something much too deep.”

That’s how I feel.  I’m exhausted.  Weary.  My bones are tired.  My body is heavy.  I want to crawl in bed and stay there for a week.

Again, I find myself missing immediate-post-brain-injury.  I was tired then and all I did was sleep.  Stare at the wall.  Sleep.  Repeat.

If I sleep without assistance, I don’t sleep well.

If I sleep with assistance, I wake up feeling foggy.

Will it ever end?

I feel like I’m surviving on caffeine and medication.  What kind of life is that?

My hair is falling out.  I love my hair.  It’s starting to look scraggly.  I thought it was in need of a trim and some fluffing of the curls.  Turns out, it looks scraggly because it’s falling out and my pony-tail isn’t fluffy because there’s not as much hair to fluff.

What happened to my dreams?  It seems that they leaked out when I fell and anything that was left is falling out with my hair.

Do I cut it all off and start over?

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Dark

Rolled the garbage can to the end of the driveway in the dark.

So, so tired.  No words to describe.

It’s dark out there.

It’s dark in here.  Way down inside.  It feels black and soot covered.

Eyes so heavy.  Just a few minutes of peace.

Every limb is tingling.

Lost.  Burdensome.  Immobile.

Is this the bottom?  It doesn’t feel like it.

The path is no longer clear.  Neither is the face in the mirror.

Everything blurs together.  Remembered and forgotten.

Lighthouse.  Knitting techniques.  Dreams.

Still there, but not accessible.

 

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Birthday

Today is the birthday of my youngest child.

Bittersweet.

The sweep of the minute hand on the clock becomes the turning of calendar pages as they age.

I love to watch my children grow and change as they get closer to adulthood and being autonomous.  Despite the quirks that sometimes drive me crazy and occasionally, irritated or angry.  The days when they clearly didn’t do as asked the day before:  Clean the litter box (the litter boxes are not clean today).  Make sure the alarm is set (the alarm was not set; he woke 10 minutes before he needed to leave for the bus).

I woke this morning to the disgruntled sound made when one child needs to get into a bathroom that is already occupied by his brother.  No words are necessary, just a peek at the clock.  I burrowed back under the covers and let my husband handle it.

As I was driving to work, I saw a woman standing on a corner with a little boy of early school age.  Probably kindergarten.  About the age of my eldest son, 12 years ago today, when he became an older brother.

She was tucked in a gray jacket with the hood up against the cold morning air, cigarette clenched between painted fingernails.  Waiting for the school bus that I could see approaching from a block away.

I turned the corner and pulled into the parking lot, gathered my miscellaneous items and locked the truck.

The bus was stopped for pick-up near the corner.  As I approached the intersection, the woman was walking in the opposite direction of the bus, still clutching her cigarette, face shadowed by the hood of her jacket.

“Mom!  Mom!”

I looked all around, trying to find the voice.  Her face didn’t change, looking at her phone.

“Mom!”

Still nothing.

I continued to look around, eyes searching the apartment building across the street.  Maybe there was a child calling to her from their home.

“Mom!”

She continued to move away, oblivious to the little voice calling from the school bus.

“Mom!  I love you!”

Silence.  The bus pulled away from the curb.

As I walked the remaining block to my office, his voice echoed in my brain.

I’m very good at deciding what I should do in a particular situation after the opportunity has passed.  Today was no exception.

50 feet.  75 feet.  On I trudged, mindful of the slippery snow on the tilted sidewalk and my poor choice of footwear.  Although at this point, anything that doesn’t include creepers seems like a poor footwear choice.

100 feet.

If I could reverse the steps, I would yell back to him, “I love you, too!”

But I can’t.  I think this morning, this birthday, will haunt me.  The day that is bittersweet.  The day a little boy called out his love and heard nothing in return.

 

 

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Dazed and Confused

Recap:  I haven’t been feeling well for awhile.  Basically ever since I fell in January (10 months ago).  Very tired, sleeping a lot, etc.

Went to the doctor.  Went to the psychologist.  Diagnosed AD/HD.

I did a sleep study on Monday night.  Unfortunately, my insurance company denied coverage of the version that my doctor wanted me to have so I got the Geo Metro of sleep studies rather than the standard family sedan version.  All it determined was that I don’t have obstructive sleep apnea.  Not a big surprise.  But it doesn’t address any of the other 90 (alleged) issues that could be causing me to sleep at the drop of a hat.

Tuesday, I went back to the doctor to discuss meds for the AD/HD diagnosis.  After discussing continuing symptoms, the doctor chewed on her lip for awhile as she typed on her laptop.  Finally, she looked at me, sitting on the examination table, eyes downcast (I was really wishing I could just put my head down and rest for a bit).

“I think we need to do an MRI.  Just to rule out anything else that might be going on.”

“Like a brain tumor?” I asked.

“Well, yes.”

So that’s that.  I’m waiting for the referral to go through so I can get on the schedule.

My head is whirling today.  A bit of vertigo and nausea.  I’m not hungry but I feel like I should eat.  Not that my fat stores aren’t sufficient to see me through an entire winter of limited resources, but just because it’s the time of day when one should eat and I haven’t.

I haven’t shared this with many people.  My husband, the band and my boss.  This is a burden that I would rather not share until I absolutely have to.  No sense worrying anyone unless it’s warranted.

I better go…my mac and cheese water is boiling.

Until next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s been awhile

It’s been awhile since I’ve had something to say but there has been a lot happening in my life.  Here’s an update:

September was busy.  October found me exhausted and slipping.  This led me to my doctor, who increased my meds, and to a psychologist to help me figure out the rest of it.  What I have discovered, rather than finding a reason for my exhaustion, is that I have AD/HD.  Light on the H.  Heavy on the AD.

I’m 45.  I’ve gone my entire life – over half of what will be the total, I assume, not understanding why I have trouble with so many everyday activities, that other people accomplish with their eyes closed and both arms tied behind their backs.  Cooking dinner?  I get that done a couple times a month.  Laundry?  I have piles that have been sitting for months that are clean and need to be put away.  Other people do this stuff literally every day.

In hindsight, it’s very clear to me.  As it always is with hindsight.  Remember 20 years ago when a colleague/friend told me I had ADD? Yep.  She was right.  I know the “what if’s” are pointless.  But seriously.  What if I had known this long ago?  What could I have done with my adulthood?  Maybe my house would be clean and my laundry put away.

Again, pointless.  I’m where I’m supposed to be, I guess.

Next week I have sleep study.  Sometimes any diagnosis is a relief.  At least you know what’s going on.

Some days I sleep a lot.  A full night and then I take a nap in the afternoon.  Then a full night again.  Earlier in the week, I was convinced I was dying.  There’s no way a human can feel like this and not be dying.  At least, that’s what I thought.

The last 2 days have been better but now I’m not sleeping at night.  No naps, just having trouble at night.  My brain doesn’t shut down.  I wake up with music from the band running through my head and it won’t stop.  Even when I use all my favorite coping techniques, which coincidentally, are on the list of AD/HD coping techniques – I was using them long before I knew.  My legs are tingling.  My head feels like it’s full of pressure.  Achy.

Can I crawl under my desk and sleep now?  Nope.  Two more hours.  Then I can go home and sleep by the fire.  As long as I stop to buy firestarter on the way home.

 

 

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The clock strikes 9

Different but the same. Far from home but it’s all still there. The eyes of the person sitting next to me. The posture of another. Potent reminders that no matter how far we travel, some things don’t go away.

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Vacation

It’s been a long time since I’ve had something to say.  Here’s a brief run-down of the year to date:

  • I fell
  • My brain was very sad
  • I spent a lot of time staring at the wall in my bedroom and sleeping
  • I went back to work
  • I gained a shit-ton of weight
  • I went on vacation and don’t remember much of it (no alcohol involved)
  • The neuropsychologist said I tested at the top of the charts therefore I have no deficits (I disagree – why can’t I remember my vacation then?)
  • I was in a band
  • The band broke up
  • I was in a duo
  • We became a trio
  • We became a quad (foursome sounds too much like golf)
  • I bought a ukulele

Now I’m getting ready to go on vacation again and I don’t know what I’m going to wear because of #5 above.  I’m hoping the weather turns a bit brisk in the next week so I can wear jeans instead of the 1 pair of shorts I currently own.  Also because I don’t want to spend a day on the lake in a bathing suit.  Ick.  I’ve managed to avoid it all summer.  Maybe I can forget to bring a suit along.  That will probably work.

 

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MTBI

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.  Side effects (or resulting symptoms?):  memory loss, confusion, dizziness, lack of focus, depression…and a whole host of other things.

Check, check, check, check, check.

When I first read all these things, the one that stuck out for me was depression.  Seriously? I thought.  Why depression?

Five weeks later, I know why.

I make a joke about being brain injured but the reality is that it’s scary as hell and if I don’t laugh about it I’ll be totally screwed.  So I use self-deprecating humor:  My husband compares me to a toddler so I say “At least I’m potty trained”.

People ask how I’m doing but I don’t know what to say.  Upright and coherent are pretty common and they’re usually true.  If I’m talking to someone, I’m probably upright.  Coherent is sometimes questionable.

So here’s why depression:

MTBI is invisible.  You look normal and your voice sounds normal so people think you’re ok.  What they don’t know is that your head is spinning and every once in awhile it feels like a little gnome is inside your head stabbing you with a pitchfork.

They can’t see, but may occasionally notice, that the words are floating in your head but they won’t come out of your mouth.

They can’t see that words blur together on a computer screen.  That the to-do list on your desk at work is overwhelming.

They think you don’t understand when they talk to you like you’re an idiot.  But you do.  I do understand.

Some days you wake up and feel good.  Like it never happened.  But by the middle of the afternoon you feel like maybe you’re crazy.  In the morning you felt good and could remember things but then you can’t and you don’t know why.

It’s nice to feel good but it makes the fall much harder to take.  It was so much easier in the beginning when I slept all the time and existed in a haze.  When I was too messed up to know that I wasn’t ok and thought my worst problem was a headache and sore neck.

My heartbeat pulses in my eyeballs.  I didn’t know that was even possible until recently.  I know when I wake up in the morning that if I can feel my heartbeat in my eyes it’s not a good sign.

It feels like this will never end.  Giving up isn’t an option and there’s no crystal ball to tell me when it will end.

Two days ago I thought it would be all better by the end of the week.  Today, I’m not sure it will ever be better.

I feel like a failure.  I don’t care what I look like.  I don’t care what clothes I’m wearing.  I worry about my job.  I worry about my family.  I’m mentally and physically fatigued.  I’m afraid to look through my memories and see what’s there and what’s missing.  It’s lonely, trapped inside your own head.

That’s why depression.

 

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The Day After

Yesterday, the people of the United States chose a new president.  Unfortunately, not one that I would have chosen.

In the beginning, when it seemed like an impossibility, there were occasionally times when I would hear an interview and think that some of his points made sense.  The farther things moved along, the less frequently that happened.

My ten-year-old son has a larger vocabulary.  That’s not an exaggeration.  I have read countless articles quoting the president-elect and for the most part, there aren’t many words of more than 2 syllables.  How is this possible?

I slept restlessly last night, with constant dreams that seemed like nightmares.  I woke to find that they were real.

It is my practice to avoid public discussion of politics because it is so divisive.  I prefer to live and let live.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion, whether I agree with it or not.

Today, my stomach is in knots and I feel I need an outlet for the thoughts spinning in my head.

Three years ago, at the age of forty-one, I started working at the firm where I am now employed.  This is the first position I have ever held where I was not sexually harassed.  Yet, a man who has on more than one occasion discussed his deviant nature has been elected as the leader of this country.  Will sexual harassment become the norm now, because this man is plain-spoken about his participation in it?  Will other men think to themselves that if the president does it and gets away with it, they can too?

When I was nineteen, I was date raped.  If I had become pregnant, I would have terminated.  If the new leadership of the country has their way, will this no longer be an option for victims of sexual crime?

I’m sad and confused and frankly, feel like this must be some horrid dream that I can’t wake up from.

But I’m pretty sure this is real.

 

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