Monday, September 29, 2014

Mental Health Status

I am a project/program manager. As such, I often communicate Project Health through the use of Green, Yellow and Red indicators. In simple terms, Green is Good and Red is Not Good and Yellow is Watch Out.

I am fortunate, fortunate and beyond fortunate to have a truly meaningful group of loving friends, coworkers and family supporting me. All want to know how am I doing? And the honest answer is I feel Red right now. However I know I will start trending Yellow and ultimately be back to Green. But not today or tomorrow or the next day.

And it is okay to be Red. Life is sometimes Not Good. And this is one of those weeks or maybe even two weeks. I will feel the pain of loss and being overwhelmed. However, I also have grit and a sense of humor so I will pull on those qualities to march forward one task to the next.

Thanks to all who have helped, are helping and will help. I love all you more than you know.

And I am especially grateful for my Commuter Husband who understands me more than anyone and loves me unconditionally anyway (see that sense of humor peeping through?)

Friday, September 26, 2014

This Morning

I am listening and watching as my Granny slips away. Twelve hours ago I made the very adult decision no one wants to make. Yet, I feel like that small child that used to happily curl up and sleep next to my Granny.

I am sitting in a hospital room with my beloved great aunt and uncle. Grateful beyond words that they are here. Yet, I feel alone. 

I tell myself that Granny lived a long life on her own terms. Yet, I cannot rid myself of toturous thoughts that things were not quite finished.

I am trying to think through next steps, the next few days. Yet, this moment, this day seems enormous and never ending. I am not even sure I want it to end because I do not want this ending.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Romance Abounds

5 Love Languages ...
Today was a day of great romance for me. I felt the love beaming from Houston to Dallas; from Commuter Husband to Mommy with Commuter Husband (me.)

According to Dr. Gary Chapman, there are 5 Love Languages as explained on the website:  My top Love Language is Acts of Service. Simply put, "actions speak louder than words." A Love Language defines how you typically give love to others as well as how and when you feel loved.

The romantic gesture of the day was an Act of Service that had me giddy with delight. Commuter Husband first asked for my drivers license number. Then he texted me to get the audit number on my drivers license. I was then the recipient of these dispatches from Commuter Husband:

I got this fantastic text message "Good News! You have until Sep 29 to complete Drivers Ed."

Followed by this enchanting note "I am going to sign you up for same course I took and request your driving record."

And then the chivalrous directive "Ok from now on I will handle all of your tickets! You had a $106 surcharge that I had to pay for the time you got stopped and had an expired drivers license."

Summarizing in this loving note "You are all set for course. I will have to check back next week to make sure the delinquent charge gets cleared and print out clean drivers history report. Luv ya :)"

Concluding with this passionate communiqué "Look at it this way ... you are WANTED in so many ways."

Background: I currently have a speeding ticket that I have been stressing on for over a week. I have not had time to locate the paper work and I thought I had missed the defensive driving option window. Thus I was sure I had a warrant out for my arrest. I could not even remember exactly which city I received the ticket (it was Farmer's Branch according to Commuter Husband's research.) And obviously, I did have another unknown and neglected item lurking on my driving record - uh oh.

My responses to all of these poetic texts from Commuter Husband were words of love, love, love and more love. His main Love Language is Words of Affirmation. Ha! We are the ideal married couple today.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

My Cup Runneth Over ... And I Am Drowning

I am a fortunate woman. My immediate family is in good health and I have an amazing brother, true friends, great neighbors, meaningful Jewish life, lovely home, steady work and adventures galore. Yes my cup runneth way over. However, I feel like I am drowning right now.

My list of things to do and responsibilities to address has me simply overwhelmed. I have never been good at saying No to work opportunities, to requests for help and to new experiences. I also believe my roles as a mother, wife, granddaughter, sister, aunt, friend, neighbor, citizen, learner and worker should be approached with a proactive mindset and attention.  My greatest priority is being mother and this new school year has required a high level of parenting energy.

I could create a giant list of all the things going on but suffice it to say there is more than I can handle alone right now. And my body is screaming at me. Over the past few months I have developed episodic migraines (EMs) which I have self-diagnosed. I can now tell when they are starting. In the early morning hours while it is still dark, I can feel the severe pain expanding in my brain. I know that within two to three hours I will be vomiting bile. I take over the counter medication and sleep it off in a dark room. As soon as the pain starts subsiding then I eat and drink a small amount. The residual headache will stay will me all day but I am usually starting to function by late morning. These EMs are stressed induced. This Sunday morning followed this pattern. Yesterday was not a great day.

I am fond the the expression "we cannot boil the ocean." My line of work requires me to address problems in manageable pieces. I am trying to take the same approach at home. So we will take day at time. Task at a time. And all things may not be done perfectly and I will need to process that fact. This is extremely hard for me to do.

I have committed to myself and family to saying No and not scheduling any new events until our house is put back together. I did say No yesterday to a dinner outing. This is also super hard for me to do. Crazy, I know.

My demeanor is not my optimal self. It is a surreal experience watching my roller coaster emotions. I apologize to my family and ask for understanding. I think it is a good thing that Tashlich and Yom Kippur are approaching. I will need these Jewish High Holidays to climb out of this hole.

So there you have it. And this too will pass ... please soon ... pretty please ...

Monday, September 1, 2014

Based on a True Story: Gram's Black Cloud

Renee knew she should cry or scream or something. As usual, she just moved forward because really what else is there? Renee felt the familiar tug of obligation mixed with loathing mixed with love. This particular cocktail is exhausting physically, mentally and emotionally.

How did Renee land in this spot at this moment? The reasons go back over eighty years: the number of years since her grandmother was born in a small Texas town. So does the story start at the beginning or does she work back from the present? Neither is a good answer. There is no one cohesive narrative. There are too many tales pounding in Renee's head. The too comfortable feeling of chaos swirls around Renee.

Today will be the starting point. A decision is made. Renee will write it all down. The rest will fill in over time. The characters and settings and places are vast and sometimes illogical. It is best to simply start somewhere.

This very morning Renee admired the beautiful sunrise in the blue sky of Oklahoma as she crossed the border from Texas. Renee considered stopping the car to take a picture but focused forward instead. She wanted to make sure she arrived at hospital in time to meet with Gram's doctor. Renee expected her Gram to be unconscious suffering from the effects of a stroke. Upon arrival, Renee found Gram was conscious and Gram's companion, Grey, greeted Renee with a hug and genuine fondness. Grey is a fit and feisty 86 year old man who exudes kindness and good nature. 

Renee surveys the situation in the critical care unit. Gram is awake, breathing on her own and can move her hands and feet. Gram is talking but it is virtually impossible to understand what she is trying to say. Renee is surprised and quickly confers with the nurse, Marla. Marla lets Renee know that Grey has not brought in Gram's medications yet so Renee dispatches Grey to retrieve them. No doctor has arrived.

Grey returns with two prescription medications and two over the counter medications. One is Xanax with 25 of 60 pills obviously taken in the last ten days. There is Benadryl and Melatonin which hints at sleep issues. Renee is starting to feel uneasy. Where are the rest of the prescriptions for hypertension and diabetes?  Grey insists that there are only the four. Marla manages to capture the full list of Gram's medications by calling the drugstore. Along with the expected routine pharmaceuticals are the dreaded pain meds and sleeping pills. Renee lets Marla know Gram has a history of prescription drug addiction and landing in the hospital for over medicating has occurred previously.

As the day slips away, Renee sits wrapped in a blanket watching cooking shows while occasionally talking to Gram and monitoring Gram's comfort level. Grey lovingly pets Gram making Gram smile with clear joy. Grey asks the exact same questions to Renee every twenty minutes showing obvious short term memory lapses. A couple arrives and introduces themselves as friends. They show Gram affection and inquire on her health. The woman mumbles something about someone finally showing up. Renee ignores the comment and does not take it personally. This well-meaning woman has no idea of the complexities simmering out of sight. 

Is it a minor stroke? Is it an overdose? Is it a little of both? Where is THAT doctor? Renee ask Marla to page the doctor again. The doctor finally shows up in the afternoon. Renee is not terribly impressed but he does relay that no infection is obvious and an MRI will be needed to rule out stroke. The doctor suspects there is a medication issue and it could take two to three days to clear out. The doctor keeps asking a Grey for information. Renee discretely pulls him aside to let him know Grey cannot be counted on for fully reliable information.

Marla half jokes about August: Osage County to Renee. Renee had the same thoughts but somehow having the nurse come to that conclusion independently is unsettling. Renee provides phone numbers to medical staff and calls relatives. There is nothing more to be done and Renee heads South. 

Renee's tries desperately not to feel disappointed but she does. She fights the feelings of resentment but they are there. The cycle of addiction never ever lets up. Everyone wants to pretend it is no big deal but it is. There is the soul crushing realization that it will never ever change for Gram or for Renee.

Renee arrives home. She literally collapses into a deep motionless, dreamless sleep.