Christmas · Dreams · home · Jolene · moving · stress

Does anyone want to give me a house for Christmas?

I can’t honestly say I ever had a grand plan for my life, but I can say that this wasn’t it. To be 46-years-old, divorced, childless, in chronic pain, and soon to be homeless. That is the issue I am whining about right now (I don’t have any real problems with being divorced, since I am on very friendly terms with my ex-husband. The childless thing, well, that’s something I will discuss with God some day.).

My parents, John & Arlene, are selling the family home. This is where they, my sister Jolene and her two children have lived for the last eleven years. Max has never lived anywhere else–we brought him here from the hospital. I’ve moved around a bit while they’ve owned this house, but have always had a room to come back to. I was living here when I met Charlie, and when I both married and divorced him. Totally not the point, I know, but still…

They’ve been talking about selling for a while, but decided to actually do it seemingly overnight. . Apparently the folks assumed we were all going to move together again, into yet another big house, but one we would rent, rather than try to make house payments on. They aren’t too happy that none of us are going along with that plan. Jolene & I have mostly decided that she & I and Max will find a place a together, and that will work, we hope. Mom and Dad will have to find their own place, as will Hattie Jo. Of course, this plan has changed several times, and continues to do so.

If I had the money, and could have my way, I’d get my own place. But that isn’t going to happen. EVER, apparently. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, I do. But I am sick and tired of living with them. Of being treated as if I’m either not there at all, or if I am there, as if I’m still 14-years-old. My sister doesn’t treat me like a teenager, but neither of us is real considerate of the other. I’d really like to live somewhere where the menu consists of more than pizza and chicken nuggets. I’m going to spend the rest of my life living with others, it seems, living in a place filled with cigarette smoke, video game noises, and fast food. Sounds like living in a college dorm.

I have dreams of my own little flat, decorated just to my specifications, dreams that will never come true. (I am depressing myself.) My Pinterest boards are filled with dream images of this fantasy place– a beautiful bedroom (I have one of those now, really), a bathroom I don’t have to share that is not decorated with cartoon fish, a kitchen not overflowing with plasticware or processed food. Books everywhere, and no Fox News EVER!!  Granted, I am not the most ambitious of people, and it’s quite likely my place wouldn’t be as perfect as I’d hope. But what ever is? Still, I can continue to dream, can’t I?

Looking for a new place to live has caused huge stress for our entire family. If a day goes by without a fight or tears, it’s a wonder. Dad is driving us all crazy, because in his semi-dementia state, he seems to believe that we should be able to just clap our hands, and like Tinkerbell coming back to life, the perfect home will appear. Perhaps, in his world, I’ll be able to do my Bewitched nose twitch and furnish this new home as well. Makes me wonder what happens when the Law & Order doink plays.

We’re looking for new homes, just in time for Christmas. I don’t think Santa is going to bring any of us what we need this year.

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome · crazy · Crystal Light · epilepsy · fat · food · headaches · Internet · medication · migraine · neurology · pain · seizures · stress · triggers

There’s A Word for That?

Migraineur:

mi·grain·eur

mēgrəˈnər,ˌmīgrā-/
noun
 someone who suffers from migraine headaches.
Earlier this week, I was doing some research online, trying to see if there was a connection between the two glasses of pseudo-Crystal Light I’d been having now that the weather is warming up and the massive migraines I’d been having, when I learned some nifty things. Such as the word migraineur. Makes sense that there’s a word for people like me, but it had never occurred to me.
Reading about triggers was rather enlightening as well. I wasn’t all that surprised to learn that artificial sweeteners are a big migraine trigger, since they cause all sorts of problems. I try to avoid them, preferring natural sugar, really I do. But for some reason, every summer, I go through this diet drink frenzy where I consume Crystal Light, or the fake store brand equivalent, in all it’s many flavors. No more of that for me. I’d rather be fat than in pain. Sugar is a trigger for many people, but I have to consume a huge amount before it gives me a headache; same with caffeine. Alcohol, on the other hand, give me pain within an hour or two of my first cocktail. No big deal, since I’ve never been a big drinker. Some of the other common food triggers are chocolate, cheese (hard or fermented), processed meats, and gluten. To the best of my knowledge, none of these are triggers for me. Good thing, too, because I don’t want to give up chocolate. Life is hard enough. Other triggers include weather changes, bright lights or loud noises, perfumes, lack of sleep, stress, missing meals, dehydration, hormonal changes, and crying. Yep, one reason I avoid the cosmetics counter at department stores. Those perfume samples are killers. Same as the laundry detergent aisle in the grocery store. First I sneeze, then I get a headache. No fun.
Migraine Triggers infographic
Here’s what really came as a surprise to me, however. In an article called ‘What’s Your Strangest Migraine Symptom?’ I learned that several things that have been happening to me for years are likely migraine-related. And here, I thought I was just crazy. Or had a brain tumor.
One of these symptoms, Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, is a disorder that causes a person to believe that body parts (and in some cases their environment), are changing shape or size. For me, it usually means that I feel as if one hand is growing larger and larger, as if it’s a huge clown glove, filled with air. It never lasted very long, but felt as if it did. Once, when a migraine was so bad I had to go to the ER for treatment, this happened after they gave me the fun shot; that time, I felt as if my ears were getting bigger and bigger.
The first time I remember this happening I was eleven-years-old. I had been reading in the afternoon during summer break, and suddenly, my right thumb began to grow. It didn’t last long, or get very big, and I don’t remember if a headache followed it, but I do remember being totally freaked out. Until recently, I never told anyone about it.
When I was in junior high, I read Stephen King’s ‘The Dead Zone’ for the first time, and one thing from that book has stuck with me ever since. The neurologist asks Johnny if he ever smells anything unusual, like rotting oranges, or feces, when there is nothing there; apparently this  a sign of a brain tumor. Well, it turns out these types of sensory hallucinations are also a migraine symptom, one I’ve had often. I was pretty sure I didn’t have a brain tumor, because I’ve had my fair share of MRI’s & CT scans, thanks to the epilepsy, but thanks to Mr. King, I was always scared. Now, I don’t need to.
I do wish that one of the neurologists I’ve seen over the years had pointed some of this stuff out. I’m especially cheesed that the migraine specialist I’ve been seeing for the last year never mentioned any of this. I appreciate that there are all these online communities, but shouldn’t a doctor have said something?!
I’m sure there’s a word for how I feel.
migraine-art
change · cleaning · denial · goals · home · Michele · resolve · stress · unemployment

Fear of the Unknown

If I were a Harry Potter character, I’m fairly sure the Sorting Hat would not have placed me in Gryffindor, simply because I’m not really a brave person. Yes, at times in my life, I’ve been able to stand up in front of the crowd, singing or acting, and I was, for a long time, very good at making new friends. Not so much any more. The last few years of my life have left me a very different person, and so many things scare me these days. It’s difficult to be in crowds, and the idea of having to talk to too many people I don’t know is terrifying.  I’ve had panic attacks in public places, including the local Fred Myer, where I wound up crying in the manager’s office. These events had been getting farther between, until recently, when certain things began making me very nervous.

If you’ve been reading this for long, you know I share a home with my extended family: my parents, who are 78 and 83; my younger sister and her two children, who are 10 and 20; plus two cats and a dog. During the last year my father lost his job, and hasn’t been able to find another one; he has also begun showing signs of dementia, which is difficult for all of us. Mom hasn’t worked outside the home in years; they have some Social Security coming in, but no savings. My sister hasn’t had a steady job in over a year, just temp things, and my while my niece has a full-time job, she doesn’t help out much. Hence, the only real income in the household now are my SSI/SSD checks every month, and Mom & Dad’s Social Security. Not a lot for all these people to live on. Jolene & I both get food stamps, which helps, and for now, all of our medical expanses are taken care of. The big issue is the house payment; we cannot afford this house.

When I moved back in here two years ago, my goal was to stay a few months and then get a place of my own. But things went downhill very fast; I sank into depression after the breakup and Michele’s death, and still haven’t fully recovered. It was easier to hide in this room than get on with my life. But now, I don’t have a choice, and this scares me. My parents are talking about selling the house, and this means we’ll all have to move. Sure, they’ve been talking about selling for years, but this time they’re actually doing things to put it in motion. Getting the basement presentable. Talking to realtors. Getting rid of things. And scaring the hell out of me.

My tiny room is full of stuff, and I have dozens of boxes in the garage. Every few days I’m encouraged to begin sorting, getting rid of things, both so the place will look better for prospective buyers, and so it will be easier to move. Jolene has done a bit of this in, but I’ve yet to begin, even though I’ve nothing but time on my hands.

At first I thought I was just procrastinating, as usual, being my normal lazy self.  I’ve had several conversations about where I’d go when the house sold with different people. Jolene proposed we get an RV, put Max in online school, and tour the country. I’ve discussed getting an apartment with my ex-husband and friend, Charlie (we get along well, and he’s easy to live with), but it’s never gone farther than discussion.  But recently I realized that I honestly have no idea what is going to happen to any of us, and this is nerve-wracking.  Some part of me believes if I don’t do anything, the unknown will stay far, far in the future, and I won’t have to think about it. Denial is my favorite river, and I swim deep in it.

denial-300x241

Talking about things helps, so they say. I’ve discussed this fear with Jolene, and Mom, and now you. Let’s hope it helps, because I cannot continue doing nothing, as much as I might like to. Getting past the fear is going to be hard. I may have to channel my inner Steel Magnolia and remember “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”

Bollywood · Brampton · breast cancer · Canada · children · hot · Michele · Music · stress · Summer · Toronto

The Frozen North?

I thought Canada was supposed to be cold. That’s why I packed more cardigans than t-shirts for my visit to Toronto.  I’ve been here a week, and the temperature has been in the high 70’s or 80’s every day! Jeez Louise, I felt like I was on the bayou one day, it was so muggy & hot. I kept listening for a jazz band to start playing, or frogs to croak; instead, I heard Indian & Scottish accents, Bollywood music, and saw seagulls overhead.
I’m here in Brampton, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto, for the summer, staying with my BFF Michele and her family. As my readers know, Michele is going through chemo for breast cancer. I’m came up to help her out, give my support, and entertain her if at all possible. She and her husband have three boys, ages 14, 4 & 2, so I’m trying to help with them, as well.
This is not an easy time for any of us. Stress levels are high, and there have been moments in the last week when I wanted to scream. I know I cried at least once, but I did it alone, in my room. Since they were tears of frustration & exhaustion, they were especially annoying to me.
There have been many tears here this week, as often happens in a house with little kids. These children  cry and scream a lot more than usual, and I’m not sure if that’s due to the tension of their parents, or their father’s parenting style.
I never understand parents who holler at their little kids “Stop crying!” as if that will work. Especially when the child has had a tantrum, and is at that point where they cannot physically make themself stop; what they need is to be held, and soothed. Shouting never works. I find myself very frustrated here, because I want so much to help, and yet I can’t really interfere. I have been given the go-ahead on some things, but not others. Some of teacher skills are being used, others, ignored or contradicted. 
I have to remind myself “they aren’t your kids, not really your problem, nobody really asked for your advice,” and keep my mouth shut. If I can do that, and keep the eye-rolling to a minimum, all will be well.
I may need to send home for more warm weather clothes, though. It’s hot here in the frozen North!
anti-depressant · Anyone? · breast cancer · Bubble Meds · Bubble Wrap · cancer · exercise · Fun · Major Depression · medication · Michele · money · Oprah · Scientology · stress · Tom Cruise

I’m Not Tom Cruise. I’m Taller.


A few days ago in a post titled ‘Bubble Meds, Anyone?,‘ I stated that I detest anti-depressant medications. I got several rather obnoxious comments about this (which I have been deleted, because I don’t want hate here), all telling me how evil and stupid I am to not recognize the wonders that are done by these medications. One commenter even compared me to Tom Cruise ranting on Oprah!

Let me say right now that the only similarities between Tom Cruise & I are height. And a sofa.
Anti-depressants, and medications as a whole, are a good thing. I know lots of folks whose lives are vastly improved by their blend of prescription drugs. Heck, if it weren’t for the varied anti-seizure meds I’ve been on since I was 16, I’d not be able to function. It’s quite possible that without those medications I’d be dead now. These medications save lives. I know that.
My issue with anti-depressants in the past has been simply that I’ve not yet found one that works for me. And of course, I want the quick fix. I’m not a patient person when it comes to medications–I want my pain-killers & cough syrups to work NOW!!! When the happy pills didn’t make me happy as soon as I swallowed, well, I gave up. I was young, I had time to wait for the bad feelings to go away. It wasn’t a matter of strength, so much as patience & time.
I’m not that young anymore. Many, many things have changed since the last time I had an episode of major depression. Back then I was living with my parents, I had no one depending on me for anything, my health was much better, and my stress level was lower. Now I’m living with my fiance and we are trying to start a business, my health is not good (although my seizures are controlled!), I’m in charge of a household. (Yes, I am!)
Stress, well, stress is high. My best friend, Michele, who just came through breast cancer with a smile on her face has been sick for the last few months. Two weeks ago they found Stage Four cancer in her bone marrow, the bones on her back, and a spot on her lungs. She began chemo last week. I want to be there holding her hand right now, but don’t have the money for my passport, much less a plane ticket to Toronto, where she lives. (Her mom is there, so she has help.) But can you understand why my stress level just flew up?
Anyway. My point is that I do not have anything against these medications or the people who take them. I’m not looking for a quick fix this time; I’m willing to be patient.
But if Tom Cruise shows up, telling me all I need are vitamins & exercise to fix my depression, there’s gonna be one less Scientologist in the world.