Saturday, January 25, 2014

And the audition results are...

My daughters got a bunch of minor roles: "Annette," "Sophie," maids, townspeople, and two parts of a singing trio of girls "The Boylan Sisters."

I'm Grace Ferrell, haha!  Woo.  Should be able to pull it off with a combo of caffeine, adrenaline, a couple pills, the Dr. Scholls version of high heels, and tips from Wiki How.  No doubt.  :P

And my husband was cast as Daddy Warbucks.  No news yet on whether baldness will be necessary.

Thank you, Google Images.  ROFL
I'm delighted that while winter turns to spring, we'll have this very unique family activity to work on, with the preschoolers tagging along to be watched by various orphans and staff.  My little angels up there have a tremendous sense of humor, huh?

"Think we can get our parents to do it?"  "With MOM?  Ha! Totally..."

(Image credit to :) Oh, and a lil' bit to Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The rumors are true

I need to confirm that the following are, in fact, facts for Seven Quick Takes:

1.  I'm 36 now!  :S  Oy.  But you know, it has to be better than 35--which for me was thoroughly unrecommendable--so I'm looking forward to it.

Went really crazy with the partying this year: I visited both sets of grandparents, went out to dinner with my parents, played chess with my kids, and got pj's with feet (a blanket sleeper, I think they're called) from my husband.  (No, I haven't worn them since I was a tween... were there even "tweens" back in the 90's? hmmmm).
Note roll of "napkins" and ketchup bottle in background.  Classay....
Of course, that happened on Monday.  It's now... Thursday, last I checked.  I think.  It's all kinda blending into one long, cold, indoor day.  I mean, I really want to be a hardy New Englander and not mind but... golly.  This white stuff it's like... cold.

On the plus side,

2.  I finally finished reading Prince Caspian to my kids.  The girls have actually been using their art supplies. Finger puppets multiply throughout our home.  Sweetly scribbled notes and drawings cover my refrigerator door, sticking out at odd angles, mingled with old recipes and November's school lunch calendar.

3.  The tree is still up.  With nice crisp needles that sprinkle a welcome carpet on the floor whenever you stop to admire a tiny, burnt-out bulb.  Christmas cards still decorate my doorway.  I know, I know.  And I haven't even finished my annual Christmas letter yet.  I'm perilously close though.... And no, I didn't send out a single card this year. :S

4.  I did audition for the role of Ms. Hannigan in "Annie".  My kids wanted to try another play, there were adult roles available, and hey if I have to be there anyway... So I practiced the song "Little Girls" under my breath in the bathroom and loudly in the rare moments alone in the car.

I say "alone" because when I attempted to sing it in front of my four year-old, well... she was confused.  And with her speech as it currently is--with all the 'L's" sounding like "Y's"--she was heard to be singing "Yucky me, yucky me, look at what I'm dripping with" around the house.  So I stopped that.

5.  The audition was successful.  Sort of.  I walked in, introduced myself to the row of faces behind the conference table, sang my song, and was handed the script.  A script for "Grace."

"Please read for her; you'd be perfect..."  As the sweet-as-pie secretary to a billionaire who goes to adopt Annie.

Can't be mean even when I try I guess.  :S Tune in next time to see if I get the role.  And if my children get to become orphans.  And if my husband gets to become Daddy Warbucks.  Because

6.  My husband is auditioning for the role of Daddy Warbucks.  Tomorrow night.

Tee hee.  Hee.   :D

7.  To date, I have not been nominated for any blog recognition.  And this is okay.  I will consistently continue to blog anywhere from twice a day to twice a month, regardless, as I shoot for twice a week.  I heartily congratulate the many awesome bloggers who made it in, including the hostess of this link-up!  :)

Mind you, it would also be okay for me, I mean--sometime--if such a nomination occurred.  I wouldn't complain.  I will similarly accept nominations for "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" and /or any sweepstakes where the prize is "Free House Sweeping For a Year" or "Complimentary Coffee Delivery For a Week."  Ya know, forget blog awards: that last would be supremely awesome.  Seriously, why doesn't Dunkin Donuts deliver? For the days you are too caffeine deprived to remember to make and consume a caffeinated beverage?  Like today?

Ever find yourself begging a lukewarm, brown beverage in a mug: "Please work.  Please, please work"?

Me neither.  ;)

During the writing of this post, Shaun the Sheep was running on a continual loop.  A meatball sub was consumed from the inside out by the resident toddler. On the couch. A four year old dressed as half-angel, half-Elmo,
This was before wings were added...
crowned me with a "Teewawa."

Despite my new-found royal standing and while rocking my plastic princess bling, I got up no less than five times during this post: once to change a diaper, once to settle a squabble over who got the longer pencil, once to help wipe after a successful potty experience, once to remove my oldest from the world of Minecraft, and once to remove meatballs and sauce from between couch cushions.

Yes, these are easy tasks that anyone can do.  Read this if you disagree.

The nasty part of me wants to drop off five preschoolers at Amy Glass's house to watch as she goes about the easy task of caring for them.  The more virtuous part of me is pleased such women will not get to raise the next generation, like I get to do, so naa naa naa... Okay, fine, I'll behave and just pray for her enlightenment, conversion, initiation into reality, etc.  :)

Thanks for all your prayers for me, too.  I'm down to two pills a day for my creaky joints, which is fabulous for now.   This tree might, might actually leave by next week...

"Who shall find a valiant woman? Far and from the uttermost coasts is the price of her." Proverbs 31:10

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Under the table

I'm currently engaging in a guilty pleasure and social faux-pas: blogging on my phone, held under a table at a large meeting.  The topic is "Celebrating Diversity." The location is Women & Infants Hospital.

We've hit the doldrums in the Council Summit.  It started off well: awards were given to stellar hospital workers, a touching personal statement was shared about a doctor who had grown up in foster care and been inspired by kindness along the way.  And there was another beautiful story of  homeless mom of four, a victim of abuse, whose nurses of her 24-week baby heard her plight and found her help.  Now an OB nurse, she left the podium to a thunderous standing ovation, tears shed by many.

But now... we're looking at statistics.  For an hour.  The speaker is literally bribing us with the reward of M&M's in return for input.

Any input.

So I decided to say hi to y'all.   And I snuck away to buy a coffee (when I got back, a full buffet has been laid out... Oh well.)  I pulled out the debit card I share with my husband.  It's a Patriots card.

My barista whooped.  "Oh the Broncos have nuthin' on us!"

I responded with the hum/grunt-and-smile I have perfected for such instances. I assume he was talking about the team the Pats will play in... The Super Bowl, I assume? ;)

Wandering the corridors back to the meeting, I nearly walked into a large poster that displayed something much more impressive.  My babies.

I feel blessed to be part of bringing good out of loss, the opportunity to improve the situations of many, many mothers yet to give birth here.

Think I'll start taking notes now. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Cool side effects and a breakup letter

I'm watching the Patriots' playoff's game out of the corner of my drooping eyes, which is the most enthusiasm I can muster for overpaid men playing a game with a ball.  Okay fine, I'll be mildly excited if they make it to the Superbowl.  But only mildly.

And... they made it.  yay.


Oh yes.  And here's the most productive thing I did this week: took my daughter to get a haircut.  With someone else doing the work.  :)  Yep, that's all, folks.

Wrapped in my husband's bathrobe, which is marvelously large, I had stationed myself on the coach with my newly fixed laptop (yayyyyy!!) to put the finishing touches on a nice, humorous Christmas letter on this last official day of the Christmas season (by some accounts at least).

But after an hour of frowning and furious typing, I've ended my fevered search for my Christmas letter... I don't know where it went.  I remember writing it, but I can't find it in any email or draft folder or document I own.


I remember writing it!!!  Honestly, I do.  Vaguely, and not well enough to recreate, but I remember tapping it out with my thumbs on the notepad section of my phone while I waited for this thing to be fixed.  And it's disappeared into the ether.


As a consolation prize--while I recreate whatever my original masterpiece might have been--here's some of my drunk writing.  You see some people drunk dial or drunk text. I drunk write.  Okay, not "drunk" write, just a few morphine-like pills to the wind at the time.  Naturally, this piece of literature was saved just fine:

Entitled "Breaking Up With An Old Friend"

(oh help!  I have notebooks of stories about inanimate objects from my boring long days of high school. Worst one I can remember was a conversation between ice cubes.  Having unpleasant flashbacks... here goes nothing:)

"I'm leaving you.  And I miss you already.  I miss your reassuring rattle in my purse, and your steady presence on my bed stand, dear Advil.

But it has come to my attention that you've hurt me as much as you've helped me.  Therefore, I'm leaving you, and will be shortly be taking up with a bigger, stronger med, who I hope will treat me better than you... while still being helpful.

Thank you for allowing me to dance in college, to wait on tables, clean nursing homes, teach for hours, and pick up several sizable children.  I will remember you with a guarded fondness.

Your former devotee."

Sniff... REALLY??   LOL  Oh my.  Oh I must look through some of these drafts, fantastic stuff... Stupid, but at least I seem to have been attempting humor. And the best news of all: this relationship of about 18 years has been restored!  Advil and I are back together. Narcotics and opiates and Celebrex and ashwagandha just isn't the same as plain old ibuprofen.

Speaking of Celebrex, this was rated one of the drug's stupidest commercials ever; someone suggested it should be run during Shark Week.  :D  Start screaming now...

Though I'm not getting any anti-inflammatory help, I'm getting pretty much everything else ashwagandha offers.  Oh it cures problems you didn't know you had folks; it's the all-bird-slaying-rock...  With that and a gluten-free diet, immortality is assured!!  :P

Signing off before I get sarcastic, or wax poetic on medication again...  Oh yes, and if someone got an email with the subject "2013 Xmas Letter" and lots of mentions of "Cecilia," kindly send it back to me...  St. Anthony, help me find my mind...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Live: From My Couch

I'm in pain.

Well, keeping company with pain anyway.  We're old acquaintances, but we usually have more of an understanding with each other than right now.  And it's not me that's being unreasonable...

I've been with this unfortunate close friend since the weather turned cold months ago, just like it did for many seniors in New England.  Most of the time, I don't notice it much and neither would anyone around me: the underlying back aches, stomach upsets, and occasional muscle spasms. Once in awhile, I acknowledge its presence with a grim "S'up?" and throw a couple Advil at it and move on.  Until a couple weeks ago.

The day after our final bows to combined thousands of viewers in the Christmas Carol (and yes, I'm very thankful it wasn't a moment before then), my daughter Claire evidenced the dreaded stomach bug. Of course, I hoped--somehow--that maybe it was something she ate.  Chocolate and goodies abound this time of year after all.  And the next day, Monday, all were well.  I kept wrapping and baking cookies.

The morning of Christmas Eve, I packed all four girls in the car to pick up family portraits we'd taken at Target and to get some more scotch tape.  In a highly festive mood, I treated them all to munchkins and me to a coffee.  Which turned out to be an absolutely awful idea.

After some unusual sounds from the back seat, I heard, "Oh Mommy... I'm so sorry for spitting the munchkin at you."  A quick glance led to a quick park and a manic search for wipes, plastic bags, and changes of clothing.  Since none of the latter were to be had, I ran into Target, grabbed the pics without a glance, rifled through the clearance rack, and found a $4.88 pair of bright purple sweatpants with fireworks on them... a pair Cecilia now, naturally, tries to wear every morning and to church on Sunday.

She was almost clean, short of an immediate bath at home.  I had dissembled the car seat, had everything soiled sorted out in grocery shopping bags for the laundry.  I was indulging in wipes and Purell myself when my sweet two year old, with a look of utter confusion, began to "spit" her treat out at me too.  

"Oh.  You cwean me?  I sorry too..."  And I was a thousand times sorrier.  

We were sick for Christmas.

I've been lucky and spoiled my entire life when it comes to Christmas.  No one has ever been ill for that holiday, aside from the occasional cold.  One year, my dad had a slight fever.  Another year, my mom broke her arm after the event.  But Christmas itself, year in and year out, whether I'd been living down the street or in Austria the week before, always found us together in the same living room, with the same dreadful cassette tape of Harry Belafonte droning out songs, exchanging gifts and lots of laughter with my very amusing family.  Here, you deserve to treat yourself to a listen :D

After repeating the same cleaning procedures in the cold, an hour later with two sleepy little ones and two sobered older ones, I was swiftly heading to washing machine and bath tub.  And making calls saying: "We can't be there for Christmas."

It was sad.  But given the events of this year, I was already sad.  And this was certainly... distracting.

My hopes that this would prove a "kiddie" virus disappeared just before my husband was about to head to midnight mass.  In that sweet moment when all are sleeping snug of their beds with visions of wellness dancing in their heads, while I was setting gifts under the sparkling tree, my poor spouse dashed--not to the car--but to the single and most occupied seat in the house.

Oh.  Dear.

Rather than waking up Christmas morning to mourn the fact that no newborn was there to experience her first wrapping paper, I had to dash to help my eldest, whose ticket had been pulled by the Norwalk virus.  At 10:30 Christmas morning, I was holding her hand and brushing back her hair in the bathroom.  It seemed to strike the older ones the hardest... which did not bode well.

In a daze, some gifts were open, thanks were mumbled.  I still can't find some of the things we opened that day.  Kids were laid out on couches with appropriate buckets and electrolyte-laden, well-labeled drinks.  With the necessity of distraction apparent, we watched many Christmas movies.  After a dinner of saltines, we sang carols together.  

It was still Christmas.  There was still joy at the birth of the Lord.  Felicity toddled around with Baby Jesus from the nativity set, giving Him kisses and feeding him applesauce.  

As the day progressed, aww I knew, but I hoped against hope.  At one point I was walking the house with a bottle of bleach in one hand and a bag "just in case" for myself with the other.  But just before dawn on the 26th, my number was up.  

And stayed up for a long, long time.

My phobia about germs is due to this very virus.  While for most it's an extremely unpleasant 24 hour event... Because of Crohn's, when I get this bug, it's an automatic trip to the ER for fluids.  I can't stop puking without medical intervention.  And darn it and the absurd co-pays, this time, the walk-in clinic wasn't enough.  I was informed pleasantly by a guy in a lab coat, "Your white blood cell counts are concerning enough that we're calling an ambulance."  

I still have the scar from where I pulled up without heed to my IV.  After hours of all kinds of unpleasant depletions, I wasn't "all there" anymore.  Looking blankly at the blood flowing impressively down my arm, I mumbled something like, "Nononono insurance expensive husband drive.  You sure?  Be okay..." And fell back on the cot to stare at the wall again.

I mostly remember that day a lot of pain, a lot of confusion, and the sheer misery of constant nausea. I remember it was hard to breathe through the mask, and that I suddenly was in the car.  A distinct lack of any turtle doves or pear-tree perching partridges.

My husband had picked me up, and ignored my cogent arguments to "Want go home rest be kay ooooo errrrr ugh."  I've never gotten morphine so fast upon entering a hospital.  Hyperventalating works, so there's a tip.  Declaring your pain level to be "over 7" is another.  Dan knowing the doctor through work didn't hurt either.

A CT scan showed that my stomach and intestines had swollen to a grotesque degree due to a bizarre secondary infection.  Which would explain all those pesky hot knives feelings.  

I was admitted, and wheeled behind a curtain beside my new roommate for days of morphine. And days of listening to her shout obscenities at the staff and talk to her cat on the phone, demanding to go back on cocaine.

I can't say I enjoyed the rest.  The hospital liked to give me morphine more than I liked to receive it. When I started to mention the RA in my increasingly annoyed back, they were most unimpressed.  Anything anti-inflammatory would hurt my stomach, and that was the main concern. I needed more antibiotics.  My white cell counts needed to go down, my red cell counts needed to go up.  My GI specialists were in Bermuda.  I just wanted to go home.  

Despite my protests at contagion, my sweet mom and dad brought flowers, my awesome friends brought chocolate which I was happy to just hold and smell, and even brought a board game which they essentially let me win.  They left encouraging notes on my board:

Another highlight was the sad and amusing night where an elderly gentlemen--who was obviously well-educated but unhappily senile--raced through the halls yelling, "You, sir, shall deliver my wallet back promptly or I will inform the police!" This was said while security were actually in hot pursuit, trying to keep him in his room with the least possible use of force, assuring him they would protect him from all his imagined fears.  I joined some fellow johnny-clad patients to watch the proceedings in the hall.  Ah, here's my one hospital selfie in johnny:

One fragile woman across the way hung onto her IV pole and looked on gleefully while I stopped watching: the elderly man forswore his hospital gown and continued, now streaking, eluding and swiping at authorities.  She giggled: "It's the only entertainment we get, eh?"  

Changing the topic, I asked what brought her here.  In her early 40's, she also has Crohn's, and told me she comes every 10 weeks to the hospital now, after several surgeries.  She has a "bag."  Her daughter now has the disease, vomiting daily.  Her daughter is 8.

Chatting in quiet voices in those wee hours of morning, I felt so very badly for her.  And I felt so very lucky.  I promised my prayers.  I staggered back to my room, and pressed the button for my nurse, a British gentleman from Liverpool.  Ostensibly for pain medicine, but also just to hear him talk.  To hear anyone talk, anyone who was healthy, undrugged, and unafraid.

I was happy to receive the anointing of the sick.  I thought of posting that on my Facebook status for all of 23 seconds and then realized how wildly dire that would sound. :)  

I wanted to blog, but my laptop's screen had broken.  I would hold my I-Whatever up in bed, try to make the image stop turning, and put it down because I was too dizzy.

It gradually improved.  I was put back on solids after some days, and eventually it didn't feel like my insides were getting scraped raw after I swallowed.  I got a new roommate: a wealthy elderly woman from Cumberland, getting treated for a bloodclot.  We'd pull back the dividing curtain, sip apple juice and watch the news together, joking about our commodes, illness as the great equalizer. 

Four days later, I got out of the hospital and got to see my kids' faces outside of Facetime.  I had a catch-up Christmas with my parents through a daze of tramadol, and went back to bed, parking the new gifts by the door and not looking back.  

I went to see a play on New Year's Eve, having postponed my ticket till my discharge.  I was fine for the performance, but when I stood to leave the stage and seats spun round, switching places. While I've never been drunk, a condition both my stomach and my morals are in firm agreement on, I have a pretty good idea what that would feel like now. They guided me out past people dancing with faces painted in the streets, shouting 2014 greetings while beating tamborines and blowing whistles.  

2014 had better be better.  Folks, it's been surreal.

I'm better now, as I hope is demonstrated by the fact that I've finally, finally written to you again.  I had to write out all this unpleasantness before I could tackle my annual Christmas letter.  Hope it's not been too graphic. :S

While my GI system is better, if sore, my RA--not to be left out of the party--has been worse.  For days after the hospital, I walked slightly bent and twisted to the left.  An MRI showed erosions between my ribs and my spine which explains a whole lot about the weird pain that wakens me in the morning to labored breathing, my ribcage complaining about the task of expanding for air.  

The good news are that my specialists are all finally back from vacation, and I'm starting to see them, get more tests, try more meds, drink mostly "bone broth," and take all manner of herbal supplements 20 minutes before, 32 minutes after, and in the middle of meals.  I take a handful of capsules before bed, but usually have to take a vicodin or two to get the pain down to sleeping levels.  And a zofran for the nausea the vicodin causes.  And an extra tylenol for the migraine the zofran can bring on.  Did I mention I hate pills?  I hate pills.  Of course, I'm going on Humira shots again soon, so I will like pills better then I'm sure.

Thank you for your prayers during this season of my keeping company with pain... while trying to do just enough cooking, dishes, and laundry that my family is fed and clothed till my husband gets home and I can seek ice and heat.  As for the appearance of the house, dinner parties will wait for the time being, and the tree may well be up till March.  Which is just fine with me.  I need to catch up on this season of joy.

I could end with something totally obnoxious like "Y'all be grateful if you can move without pain." But you know, that sort of gratitude is just difficult, because we humans have a wonderful amnesia when we're out of pain, and very quickly embrace the comfort of normalcy.  We weren't made for pain, after all.  

I should know better than anyone, as I'm lucky enough--despite my diagnoses--to only go through these really bad spells once in a blue moon.  Since I'm not able to be grateful enough for when I'm well, I'm really trying to spend time being grateful--ahead of time--for when I will feel better. Because it will come, this season will pass, and I will likely attempt tubing within the month, blissfully unaware of the weeks I spent being gimpy and grumbly around the house here.  I look forward to doing all the things I was made to do by a God who sure can give us more than we can handle yet is, among many attributes, definitely fun-loving. And I'm grateful for that, right now.  

Meanwhile, pray because I've been sitting for a while typing out all this bravery, and I'm about to begin the process of standing up.  Oooh boy.  See you sooner rather than later, you wonderful ole' Bloggesphere. ;)

I'm going to favor the New Century Version translation this time.  I know, I know.  If you must, here's the Douay-Rheims: "The Lord help him on his bed of sorrow : thou hast turned all his couch in his sickness."  Not particularly desirous of mental images of a Divine up-turning of my already distressed furniture, I'm gonna go with this:

"The Lord will give them strength when they are sick, and make them well again."  Psalm 41:3