Monthly Archives: January 2013

Back and Forth

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Last night, I was a bit down. I’m off my game, restless, recovering from surgery, but starting to get antsy and frustrated with not being able to do things for myself. I’m missing my workouts, the endorphin rush. I’m missing human interaction, even at work. I’m missing my independence. Much as I have a wonderful, willing man to help me, I still like to do things for myself, in my own time. I don’t like being beholden to anyone, never have.

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So because I was down, Den came over last night, just to cheer me up and spend some time with me, as he’s heading into four long overnight work shifts and I won’t see him very much, which makes me even more depressed. I broke out two old boxes of photographs to show him, mostly of the kids when they were small. I haven’t cracked those boxes in years. They made me smile, but they made me sad, too. Sad that I really wasn’t able to give them a lot in the way of material things, but happy because I raised two men to whom material things really don’t matter very much. Sad that I ended my marriage with their dad, but happy that they didn’t have to watch a loveless match burn out, thinking that that was what a marriage is supposed to be like. Smiling at their smiles, their little battles. Exhausted mom-with-new-baby face. Not knowing how I was going to make ends meet. Birthday parties, playing on the street, pets, Christmases. Our relatives and friends. Vacations. Our little house on Bolivar Street.

Duh, gee, Lynne, it’s called “nostalgia” – it’s a thing, look it up.

So, now I’m in a position where I’m looking forward to yet another phase in my life. The kids are out on their own, for better or worse, and seem to be thriving and turning into honourable men. I’m looking forward, mostly, not back, excited for my future, making plans, happy to have found someone to share them with. We have some logistics to work out, but they’re just physical things, details, i’s to be dotted and t’s to be crossed. I’m happy, looking forward; to a little cozy domesticity, companionship, conversation and challenges, travel and making new memories.

Can’t wait.

Namaste.

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Ron Loves – ?

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Scroll through the pictures – they are in two groups – sorry there are so many!

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I got a call yesterday from Vinnie’s (the thrift store branch of the St. Vincent De Paul), which most of you know by now is pretty much my very favourite place in the world. Last time I was there, one of their silent auction lots caught my eye. They auction off items that are really too high-end for the thrift store, although I’ve seen some pretty amazing things out of the floor that have somehow slipped through.

The locket caught my eye. I love lockets. I have several antique lockets, family pieces, that I have always loved. One contains a photo of my maternal grandfather, and one of his mother. Another is of my paternal grandmother’s parents. The third is of my paternal grandfather holding my father as a baby, which is doubly lovely as it also contains a tiny slip of paper which reads, in miniscule printing, “Gerald and his Daddy at 8 months – Labour Day”. I have a more recent one, handed back to me when my mother died. I got it for her birthday one year, and it contains photos of my own children as babies.

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This lot from Vinnie’s intrigued me. I paid $52 for the whole lot, which seems a bargain. The locket, sadly, does not contain a photograph. It is inscribed “Love Forever Ron”, and stamped “sterling”. It’s hefty; substantial. It has a certain patina. I don’t know if it’s technically an antique, or only a few years old. I’m not an expert. With it were two matching wedding bands, a man’s and a woman’s, also marked “sterling”, and a light little bracelet. It seems incongruous with the other items, thin and skimpy.

Were they all donated together? Is the man’s band Ron’s own? Are Ron and his lover dead, in which case his inscription was beautifully apt, or just divorced, in which case it’s a little sad? And the bracelet – it’s tiny. The woman’s ring fits me easily, and I do have large fingers, but the bracelet does not. It may be for a child, I don’t know, I don’t know. Certainly it does not belong to the owner of the ring. And Ron, what was her name?

I want to know. I’m picturing James Garner from “The Notebook”, personally, but who knows? Maybe Ron is a jerk. Maybe someone was so mad at him she didn’t want to pass it on, or even hock it. Maybe it was from an estate, maybe they’re both long gone.

Too many pictures in this post, I know. But I’m so intrigued. Lockets, little memories worn near the heart. Whoever put a picture of a person who wasn’t special in a locket?

TMI?

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Why do I put this out there? Why do I, a purported introvert, choose to share so much personal stuff here with you on the internet? Well, it’s for two big reasons, really. Firstly, I really like writing. It helps me sort things out in my own head. But secondly, and more importantly, is that because I’ve always felt like a weirdo, fish-out-of-water, it helps me to try to explain myself to the world.

There’s a third reason though, a delightful offshoot of the second reason, that has KEPT me blogging over these past few years. What I’ve found is, that particularly for my female readers, I echo thoughts or feelings that they have had themselves, but haven’t been comfortable putting into words. In short, you are Just Like Me, and I have found over the last couple of years, through your feedback, that far from being a fish-out-of-water, I am, in fact, Just Like You.

So, I overshare sometimes. I find that the times when I do the most personal oversharing is when I get the most heartfelt thanks from the most readers.

Believe it or not, I don’t share absolutely everything. I’m actually pretty circumspect about things like my job and my sexuality. I don’t say much about other people, either, unless it is positive. But I do like to share some things that might be considered too personal. This blog, after all, is not widely advertised. Most of my readers I know personally. Not to say that if I don’t know you personally, you are not welcome here – hey, it’s the internet. If my ramblings interest or inspire you, read on. I know I even have readers who are among those who don’t even LIKE me, and are probably rolling their eyes at this point. Well, roll on, my frenemies, if you are reading this, you are here, and I win. Nerny nerny nerny. That’s a legal term.

All that being said, one thing I have been very candid about is my body, and my struggles with my body image. Can you stand one last picture? Don’t scroll down if you don’t want to look. Here it is, post-surgery, two weeks later:

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Your body is not ugly. It’s not shameful. It doesn’t have to fit anyone else’s standard. It is what it is, and if you are healthy, you have everything.

I hope that this picture, and my blog, makes you feel better about yourself. You’re okay. You’re not a freak. You’re not hopeless. You’re not a monster. Let the world love you, okay?

Namaste.

Help

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Here’s something I’ve never been any good at: asking for help.

It’s been a week and a half now since my surgery. During that time, my wonderful man booked time off work, turned down extra shifts, held my hand, made phone calls, cleaned kitty litter, did dishes, vacuumed floors, washed clothes, changed dressings (ew…that’s gotta be love, that!) and basically did absolutely everything else around this joint. See, I’m not supposed to lift anything. Period.

This is hard! I’m a little bit OCD, always have been. When I see something out of place, or crooked, or misaligned I Must. Straighten. It. MUST. One of my very first memories is of a time we were very small children, before my little brother came along, because I was sharing a bedroom with my older brother – so I was definitely under 5 years old. There was a paint-by-numbers painting of a horse hanging over the dresser. We had been put down to bed for the night. I was always skittish about the dark as a child, so the door was cracked open and the hallway light was on, and I could clearly see that THAT PAINTING WAS CROOKED. OH, yes it was. Umm… yeah. So, I did what any four-year-old does – I talked my big six-year-old brother into straightening it.

Too bad he fell off the dresser and wound up at the hospital with stitches in his head… I still feel kinda bad about that. Sorry, man. Picture looked much better, if it’s any consolation.

But – the point is, even if something is causing no harm or discomfort to anyone, if it’s in the wrong place or not properly aligned – it bugs me. For a variety of reasons, I’ve spent most of my life doing for myself. It’s neither here nor there, I’m not looking for a pity party, it just is what it is, and it’s actually made me damned strong, but somewhat ridiculously proud. I’ve received some unasked-for help over the years, which was always appreciated, but on a couple of important occasions when I’ve asked for much-needed help in the past, I’ve been shot down and made to feel undeserving, which has kind of shut off some kind of emotional asking-for-help valve in me.

So, after working all night and then attending a half-day training session, before going home to sleep, Den came over and vacuumed, carried my laundry upstairs, cleaned the kitty litter, changed the cat’s water, filled the humidifier and took the garbage out. Because he’s just awesome, that’s why. I still needed help to get some groceries in the house, though.

I considered my options:

1. not getting groceries (not practical, there were some basic items I really needed).
2. making four or five trips to get groceries (well, that would be a pain).
3. trying to hire someone to help me get groceries (I’m not even sure how one would do that).
4. asking friends for help.

Eureka. Asking Friends for Help. What a concept! Within an hour of posting my plight on facebook, I was covered.

You know, I don’t know why I don’t ask for help more often. I’d be willing to help someone if asked, so I don’t know why I think there’s any shame in asking.

I don’t know what my point is, here, except that people are kind and we should all be there for each other when we’re needed. Not very profound, I suppose, but true for me today.

Namaste.

Hospital Cat

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In speaking with my sweetheart that other night, I had a real epiphany as to exactly why I am so uncomfortable in the hospital.

I expected physical discomfort, and I’m okay with that. I’m actually a pretty tough old bird. The nurses are super-kind, and my doctor was excellent. The surgery went really well. The food – well, it is what it is, right? I was on clear fluids for the first three days, anyway, so really, no biggie. It’s kind of boring there. There’s really not much to do, but I wasn’t there very long, and was on sooo much medication that I really didn’t even notice I was bored until about day four. Plus, Den spent hours and hours with me there, keeping me company and anticipating my needs.

My first thought was that the lack of privacy was the issue. The door is always open, and one of the nurses had an irritating habit of flinging the curtains open so that I was staring directly into the beady little bird eyes of my insomniac, octogenarian roommate. Nurses, cleaners, nutritionists, doctors. In and out, all day, all night. I find the hospital to be waaaaay too warm for good sleeping, but I can’t in good conscious strip down with all those people flitting in and out, so I’m uncomfortable, too.

But it’s not precisely the lack of privacy that’s the issue, there’s something a little deeper at stake, and here’s what it is: I feel like I give up the right to the privacy of my own body. Suddenly, people I do not know have my permission to touch me. People want to see things that they should not see. My catheter bag is proudly on display, and I’m warned NOT to flush my next poop, so they can look at it. I “forget” and do it anyway. They want to talk about things that I’m not comfortable talking about, but I know they need to be discussed.

I’m considered a good patient, I think. I want to do as much as I can for myself as soon as possible, but I listen to instructions and follow the rules, mostly (sorry about the poop). I’m polite and pleasant.

However, Cat Person that I am, I wanted mostly just to bury my poops and be left alone to sleep. I’m a one-person cat. I will choose who touches me, thank you. I don’t quite go so far as to actually bite anyone, though.

The Yuck Bowl

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Do you have one of these at your house?

ImageThis is the “Yuck Bowl”.  Originally, it was part of some kind of movie/popcorn promotion at a now-defunct video store where my ex-husband worked a million years ago.  It had a blue snap-on lid at one point, long gone.  It lives under the kitchen sink, surrounded by rags, bags, catfood, and cleaning stuff.   I had reason to pull it out last night, as I needed some help shaving my legs after surgery and needed a nice basin of warm water for the task.

The Yuck Bowl isn’t for tossing up a nice salad, or filling up with popcorn for movie night.  We have lots of bowls for those things, too.   NO, Yuck Bowl exists only for the basest, grossest tasks.  It’s under-appreciated and I’m here to give it a big shout-out.

Yuck Bowl – who saved me countless loads of laundry when the kids had the stomach flu?  You did, my friend.  Who was there, full to the loving brim with hot soapy water, when Hiep and the kids all got their bare feet covered in dogshit playing football in the backyard on Bolivar Street?  You were.  Who was there when a teenager’s alcoholic amigo decided it was time to hurl?  You were, Yuck Bowl, you were.  I sincerely wish you hadn’t still been sitting square in the middle of the living room floor when I got up to go to work the next day, but it is what it is, Yuck Bowl.

You’re battle-scarred, paint-stained and weary.  Like the plumbing, we don’t even notice you until something goes horribly wrong.  You’re not a Glamour Bowl, or a Rose Bowl.  No fine meal will ever be served from you, nor will any meal of any kind.

But damn.  You’ve been around for a long time.  You’ve paid your damn dues around here.

I love you Yuck Bowl.  Namaste.

The One About the Time I Almost Lost My Belly Button

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WARNING: CONTAINS PHOTOS OF SCARRING AND A HEALING SURGICAL INCISION.

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Remember this guy? He’s still around. I had absolute paroxysms of anguish over the possibility of his loss. Don’t ask why, just because I’m weird and I think too much. As y’all know, though, I also had a backup plan in the event of his tragic demise.

I’m not going to discuss how I got here in this post, as most of you already know. Suffice it to say, here’s where I started:

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8″ ventral hernia left from a surgical infection from a hysterectomy for 3 ginormous fibroid tumours and endometriosis. Horrible scarring. Body image lousy, regardless in my pride in the rest of my fitness achievements, no amount of lifestyle change could fix this. I had absolutely no abdominal strength initially. I spent a solid year, first on my own, and then with the expert assistance of a fantastic personal trainer, building the rest of my core to compensate and regain my mobility. But nothing I could do could change the fact that I now looked like a very fit person who somehow managed to swallow a basketball. My innards were directly under the skin; the two sides of my stomach muscle were split about 5 inches apart from my navel to the top of my pubic bone. Think about how dangerous that could be if I had an abdominal injury in, say, a car accident. When my stomach rumbled, a little old man in Chicago called to complain about the noise. My self-esteem was NOT good, despite my fitness training and lifestyle changes. Remember, too, that this was at a time when I was making my first tentative forays back into the dating world, as well. It would take a pretty special man for me to let him see this. Well, as we know, that part worked out, only because my man is absolutely solid gold, but that’s another story.

So: I lost the weight, increased my fitness and core strength, and quit smoking. The surgeon was blown away. I get the feeling that he’s not used to people doing what they’re told.

The night before, Den took me out for a nice dinner in anticipation of several days of hospital food, and I chose to eat lightly, but well, and we had a lovely evening. Got up the morning of the surgery, had a shower, threw on some sweatpants and a tee-shirt, and Den took me to the hospital. The signing-in stuff went very quickly, and I was gowned and on a gurney hooked up to an IV super-fast. They sure like asking when your birthday is. I’m expecting LOTS of cards this year, I can hardly wait!

Into the OR, strapped down, anesthetized (which as you know, freaks me out) and that’s all she wrote.

Came to in Recovery, in a WORLD of HURTIN’. “Where’s Den?” I ask. “We’ll pick him up from the waiting room on the way to your room.” They wheel me past the waiting room. I can see him reading a magazine. “There he is.” “Where?” I point. “What’s his name?” “Dendendennydenden.” “What?” “Den. Denny.” They call him. He doesn’t look up. They finally get his attention. He was waiting for someone to call MY name. He comes over.

“How you doing, baby?”

“Den?”

“Yeah.”

“It hurts.”

“I know.”

“Den?”

Here’s the BIG QUESTION – “Do I still have a belly button?”

Now, keep in mind, he’s been in the waiting room for, like, I don’t know, four hours. He asks the nurse, who cleverly directs me to ask my doctor, as she can’t stop and remove the dressing to check right now. So, they take me to my room, still not knowing!!!

I’m in a double with an elderly lady who happens to have the same name as one of my cats, a fact which in my drugged-up haze, I somehow feel impelled to share with her. She informs me that the jello is nasty and is, in fact, not even real jello. She is not happy to be there.

Days of clear fluid diet and catheters, people asking questions about my poop and whether I’ve had a good fart. I’m shy about sharing my poop information. Beeping things and pointy things. People taking my blood pressure and temp. Oxygen prongs up my nose, which makes it dry, crusty and prone to bleeding. Hot dry air, giving me a headache, dilaudin (sp?) pump making me nauseated every time my head is lifted. Finally, an Irish pain doctor figures it out and switches me over to my old friend, sweet, swwwweeeeeet morphine, and things start to get better right quick.

The night of my surgery, two nurses try to stand me up to take a few steps. My teeth chatter so badly I can’t speak. They get me vertical, with the help of the walker, but decide I’m not actually walking anywhere, so back down I go. Compression anti-embolism stockings, white, extra long. I decide when they put them on that they’re kinda sexy. That’s the drugs talking, I think, because a couple of days later, the sexy quotient went way down.

Den was there every day, for hours and hours. He called my family for me, let them know how I was, wrote down what the doctor was saying so I’d remember, brought me coffee and water, helped me brush my teeth, took me walking down the hall. Held my hand and reminded me what I was supposed to do and not do. Talked to me and listened to me ramble. He was my rock and it was sweet to see his smiling face every morning, sneaking in before official visiting hours. We spent the day of our six month dating anniversary together, but we didn’t really go anywhere. Down to the end of the hall and back, really.

The days go slowly, but I don’t really notice much. I read a book, try some puzzles, knit half-heartedly. The Therapy Dogs are by for a visit one day, a retriever and a lovely collie. That was nice. But regardless of how kind the staff are (and they truly are), I really want to go home.

The nurses are amazing, I have nothing but respect for nurses. My night nurse is hilarious, a young, blonde bespectacled lass who sounds like Francis McDormand in Fargo, for some reason, and cracks dry midwestern jokes with me at 4 a.m.

I didn’t get sprung as quickly as I’d hoped (mostly due to the bad reaction to the initial pain med). On Saturday morning, the doctor said probably Monday. Sunday morning he came in, checked me out and said “How would you like to go home today?” YES PLEASE. He was really pleased with my progress, and complimented me on all the work I’d done that made his work much easier. He got a SUPER BIG HUG. He’s kind of an awkward hugger, but he is SUPER adorable, really caring, a fastidious surgeon, obviously liked and respected by the nurses, and just a lovely, lovely man. I will be sending him a very special card indeed. He literally gave me the inspiration to change my life, for which I am very, very grateful. I have been treated rather badly by doctors in the past because of my weight, but Dr. P never treated me with anything less than courtesy and dignity, and his foremost concern was for my health and my quality of life. See, docs, THAT’s how you get people to take hold of their lives. Let them know that you believe that they can do it. That’s all.

So, now I’m home, and I don’t have to share my bathroom with an octogenarian with stomach problems, who has three daughters who, Gord bless ’em, visit her constantly and talk at the top of their lungs. I’m the Boss of My Own Poops. It’s okay, I know what’s good poops for me. If there’s a problem, I’ll get a man on it.

My incision is thin and neat. I think he’s incised ALL of the old scar tissue, which makes me super happy, but that’s just because I’m vain. I have to wear an abdominal binder 24/7 for the next four weeks, and will need some time to heal before I get back to the gym for anything more than some gentle treadmill walking. No lifting. Try throwing the cat off your face when you’re not sure whether she weighs more than five pounds or not. She’s sure glad to see me. She’s MUCH cuddlier and friendlier than her hospital namesake. I have Den coming in to help around the house, lift laundry, groceries, etc. The homecare nurse will be by tomorrow to remove the drains, and again on Thursday to take off the surgical tape. I had a shower this morning. It was totally awkward. I will follow up with Dr. P in 3 – 4 weeks.

I probably won’t be able to get back to strength training for two to three months. That still gives me three months to achieve my goal – to be in the best shape of my life by age 50.

Meanwhile, I rest. I eat lightly, lean proteins, lots of fluids. Keep things moving. My dear brother loaned me lots of DVDs, I have some books I’ve been meaning to get to, and some knitting projects on the go. People will call, and drop by, I will get out for some air and light exercise. I need a haircut.

Dr. P said I could probably go back to work in 2 – 3 weeks, but not to push myself. He recommended I just take the full four weeks he’s initially signed me out for. “You don’t strike me as a person who takes a lot of time away,” he said. “You know, they will survive without you for a little while.” And he’s right, they will.

So I’m home, which as you know is the best place in the world, with my lovely pets and my puttering and my friends and family, hanging out, being grateful, making plans.

Namaste.

Post-surgical pics follow. Scroll down at your own risk.

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