Would it kill you to be nice?

What if I told you that my son had a couple of friends overnight last night? Would you lecture me and call me stupid?

What if I told you that the two boys were brothers who got kicked out of their house by their single mother who went off of her medication for severe mental health issues? What if I told you that when she is like that she is violent towards her children? Would that change your mind?

What price is too high to pay for human kindness?

What if I told you that the day our foreign exchange student went home Paul asked the coordinator if there were any other children in dire need of a place to stay? Who willingly takes on more teenagers in a time of crisis? Who steps up to take the children who have nowhere to go?

My best friend Cindy took in a teenage boy who is friends with her son. He was going through a hard time at home. Yesterday Cindy took this kid to the ER for what might have been kidney stones. Would you risk getting sick by taking someone else’s child to the ER right now?

What if your parents were in need of groceries and were afraid to leave the house? Would you spend over two hours in the store to get them everything that they need even if you didn’t have a mask to wear?

All of these things happened within the last couple days. It’s the new moral dilemma. Do you put yourself at risk to help others? There are so many people who are struggling right now.

What price is too steep for human kindness? Seriously, I want to know. Is the risk too high to help others if you are healthy? Would you donate blood? Would you try to make a difference in this world even if it means you might get sick?

I think of all the doctors and nurses who are stepping up to save lives at the price of losing theirs. What is that worth? There are many people out there making a difference in other peoples lives.

Would it kill you to be nice? Maybe it would this year.

At Eastertime I reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made for us. What would he want from us? I think he would want us to be caring and kind towards the other people he placed in our lives. In times of struggle it’s hard to do nothing if there are people out there that need help.

 

scratch this

My husband woke up with scratch marks on his neck yesterday morning. Five red raised welts caused by what looks like a left hand based on the markings. He didn’t wake up. He only knew because it burned while he was taking a shower in the morning.

I didn’t wake up either. We both slept deeply that night. That was the day we woke up very early to take Clara to the airport. We were both very exhausted. I knew I slept deep. I had that awareness. Did I have a nightmare and not wake up this time? Did I attack him? It had to have been me. He would have had a hard time scratching himself at that angle with his left hand. Plus I am left handed. Could’ve I attacked him without either one of us realizing it?

I have been keeping busy since Clara left. After she left I cleaned the house. The day after I met with my therapist. Afterwards I went grocery shopping for my mom. She completely quarantined herself since the coronavirus. She is freaking out. She will not leave the house even to go to the store.

The first couple weeks friends and family dropped off food at her house. This time I told her I would go. It felt like my obligation as her daughter. Plus with the special diet, I felt like I was probably the one person who could get her the items she wanted. She sent me a picture of two full handwritten pages. It took me 2 and a half hours. I got her 11 bags of groceries so they should be set for awhile.

Paul didn’t want me to go grocery shopping at first. He was angry and wanted my mom just to eat the food everybody else does. He was worried that I would get the coronavirus and have a weakened immune system because I am taking antibiotics. At his prompting, I called the pharmacy who told me it wasn’t a concern.

I haven’t been feeling the greatest. I have been feeling very tired, nauseous, dizzy, and have a headache from time to time. These are all common side effects of the medication. Also if I mix the medication with ANY alcohol (even with aftershave the label says) I could have a very serious reaction. So I stopped taking the elixirs from the wellness clinic because they have alcohol in them.

This also means I stopped taking Ashwagandha which helps maintain proper cortisol balance. The last time I went off this my PTSD symptoms went haywire. I asked to be put on it again after I figured out what changed. This time I feel fine off it or so I thought. Now I noticed that I am startling easy to noises. The anxiety and hyper-vigilance is starting to kick back in.

But even more troubling, I feel paranoid. Maybe Clara left because she wanted to get away from me. My therapist is angry at me. My best friend is out to get me. She is going to blab everything I’ve ever told her out to the world. My husband doesn’t love me, he doesn’t care. Yesterday when I called my brother Luke for his birthday I felt like he didn’t want to talk to me. At times I am afraid to talk to you.

Wait! It isn’t logical that everyone started hating me simultaneously. The problem isn’t them, it’s me. I’m being paranoid but it feels so real. I see it clearly now. I have another week to go to heal my body before I can go back to healing my mind. I hope I don’t totally lose my mind before then. At least I have awareness which I suppose is some consolation. It was more than I had yesterday.

Now if I could only figure out how my husband got scratched while we were both sleeping at night. I just hope I am not up all night worrying about it.

Early good-bye

Clara left to go home to Germany on the 7:10 AM flight.

The last few days went by in a blur. There was much to do. Monday we ran errands. We mailed a 46lb box of her personal belongings back home. It was more than I expected. It took an hour and cost $160. We waited in line forever. Then she needed to fill out a customs form detailing all of the enclosed items. She listed how much the said items were worth and how much they weighed.

Maybe it would’ve been cheaper for her to bring extra luggage. She had two suitcases already. One of them was mine, but she didn’t have enough time to purchase another. Now we will have to visit her to pick it up! It cost an additional $100 for the second suitcase.

Good thing I didn’t decide to mail her package after she left. It wasn’t just popping into the post office, throwing on some stamps, and leaving.

Then we stopped by the district office for the school. We dropped off Clara’s laptop, books, and choir dress. It took two seconds. It seemed too easy after our time at the post office.

Yesterday we spent the day doing all of Clara’s favorite things. We took the dog for a walk. Thunder rumbled in the distance and we made it back home just before it rained. We finished a puzzle. We went swimming.

Then we got up at 4:15 AM to drive her to the airport. Arabella, Estelle, Paul, and I went to see her off along with the foreign exchange coordinator. The coordinator has a big heart and is rather long winded. I didn’t mind today because it proved to be a distraction. I didn’t really want to start my day off by crying.

I will miss Clara. She is very intelligent. She has a gentle, quiet, and stoic demeanor. She was content to do whatever it was that we were doing. In some ways she reminded me of my grandma. She made hosting a wonderful experience.

It was hard to say good-bye at the airport. I tried to crack jokes. Sometimes I try to lighten the mood with laughter. We watched Clara until we couldn’t see her anymore then went home. I was sweetly surprised to find that Clara left handwritten notes for us in her room.

I’m sad that she left early, but I am okay. I know this is not good-bye forever. She will be reunited with her family. Tomorrow morning when I wake up she will be home.

 

 

Last summer, this summer

Maybe I was naïve to think after my son graduated from high school last year that it would be smooth sailing. Sometimes I can be like that, overly optimistic. And things were good for about a month. Then my life fell apart again in a different way.

It was last summer that my health went to crap. I found a new doctor and she was appalled that my last provider had me on 2 pills a day for a duration of 5 years for acid reflux. These were pills that should be taken once a day for a course of 10 days. She took me off my medication and had me scoped. She told me to take a few Tums for my gushing gut wound and sent me on my way. Besides being anemic nothing else was wrong with me.

But something was wrong with me. I’ve even had a doctor once say it was all in my head. She only said that once because I never went back to her again. Please if it is all in my head, fix it.

After being very strongly encouraged by my mother, I decided to go to a wellness clinic for allergy testing. I was found to be allergic to 22 foods. The biggest culprit was dairy. I said good-bye to my favorite comfort foods. But I still wasn’t feeling better.

I scheduled an appointment with the wellness nurse. She said I had a level of inflammation in my gut that she has rarely seen before. I had more tests done and started a treatment plan.

In the meantime, I discovered that I have Complex PTSD from childhood trauma. I have been seeing a great therapist. I have been working through my lifelong struggle with depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Meanwhile my life fell apart in other ways with family problems that really had nothing to do with me.

Over a month went by where every single night I did not sleep the full night. Some nights I would just get up and sit looking into the darkness. Nightmares were common. If only I could sleep then my problems would be solved. With help from both my therapist and wellness nurse, I am now able to sleep a couple of full nights a week. With sleep, my mood improved greatly. I was feeling a little less like a zombie.

Once again I become overly optimistic. I had more tests done. I’m getting better. I was going to finally be able to do the 30 day detox diet and get my allergies retested. I imagined myself this summer eating my favorite foods again. This summer it was going to be cheeseburgers, mac and cheese, pizza, cheese, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese curds, lasagna, and cheese. It was so close I could almost smell it.

I went into my follow up appointment last week with great expectations only to have them dashed. My results showed that only 5% of the healthy population got test scores like mine. I have several parasites. I also have Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). This means that I have good bacteria in the wrong place which interferes with food absorption. This could explain the anemia.

So now I am on an even more restricted diet. Limited sugars, starches, carbs, processed food, and fiber. Too much of these foods can make the bacteria grow and make me feel sick. Pretty much the only thing I can eat now is meat. If it weren’t for living with a meat and potatoes man and ham I would probably be a vegetarian. This has really taken the joy out of eating.

The nurse also gave me a prescription for an antibiotic to kill off the parasites. It will help a little with the SIBO too. She said she only prescribed it to two other people but thought it was necessary in my case with my chronic gut issues. I was a little terrified to take the first pill. I read about parasite die off and it sounded miserable. So far I don’t feel great, but I don’t feel awful either.

It was hard going in with the expectation of good news. But I am on the road to recovery however long that might be. I know what I’m up against. It’s good to know it all isn’t in my head.

Gratitude week 14

  1. And another compliment on my hair that one time I needed to leave the house.
  2.  Gas prices that almost remind me of my college days. Now if we could only go somewhere. But think of all the money we are saving by not.
  3.  Although I didn’t receive the news I wanted, my test results came back much earlier than expected at the wellness clinic. I just started a new medicine and don’t feel as bad as I thought I would. It’s slow going but at least I am moving forward.
  4.  Clara is going to be reunited with her parents in Germany, but I am very sad to see her go. Hopefully someday we will be able to visit her.
  5.  I don’t know anyone that tested positive for the coronavirus so far.
  6.  The weather has been nice the last couple of days.
  7.  We threw Clara a good-bye ‘party’ making her favorite foods and doing some of the things she enjoyed the most here. I even shaved my legs, did my nails, took a shower, and wore jeans and makeup.
  8.  Paul and I have been fighting a lot. We are at the point of working things out or going our separate ways. Today I am feeling a little more hopeful things might work out.
  9.  We were able to get our broken TV fixed.
  10.  We finally said good-bye to the month of March!

A part of me drowned that day in May

When I was 6 years old, I watched my three younger brothers play in the lake by myself. My dad told my mother not to worry because if anything happened surely I would scream for help. They were inside the cabin not too far away. I’m not sure how long I was left alone. It could’ve been two minutes, it could’ve been twenty. But I don’t remember that.

My youngest brother just turned two. He went deeper into the water until it was almost over his head. He started to choke and flail about while my 3 year old brother thought he was swimming. My brother Matt who was 5 is autistic and he was oblivious to the whole situation. I really was left alone to deal with something I was too young to handle.

I was so afraid that my body froze. I couldn’t even scream for help.

The memory is always the same. I almost watched my brother drown and did nothing to save him. If my mother hadn’t checked on us, he could’ve died.

My husband asked me if I ever thought I could’ve died that day. He asked what would’ve happened if I jumped in to save him when he started to struggle. Maybe he would’ve pulled me under. We could have all drowned.

I never considered that before.

I think a part of me died that warm day in May. If you could imagine a 6 year old watching her three younger brothers in the water with no one else around. Debatably if I had any childhood up to that point, it was gone on that day. Who even knows what other responsibilities I had on days disaster didn’t strike.

I never was a carefree child. It seems like I was a careworn old woman all my life. I missed the time of magic and wonder. My imagination didn’t wander. Maybe that’s when my life started to be ruled by logic and structure. One part of my brain overdeveloped while the other part didn’t develop much at all.

I became this way before my brain developed enough to give me adult reasoning. I became advanced in rules, structure, routines, and control. If I couldn’t control my circumstances, I could have super human control over myself. Or I could feel like I had some control over things that no one cared about controlling.

As I grew older, I noticed there was a chasm dark deep and empty. There was a void inside of me bigger than a black hole. I longed to be someone I wasn’t. I wanted to be spontaneous and carefree. But would I have to exchange my hard earned grit for feelings and fluff? I couldn’t see two opposing traits rule inside of me at the same time without causing a war.

I mourned for the child I never got to be. I don’t think I was supposed to be the person I needed to be to survive. The seed was planted and the tree grew tall. It’s too late to cut it down and start all over again. The tree didn’t get watered enough but it got used to the soil it was in. I always wondered what the tree would’ve been like if it was nourished properly.

Maybe a part of me did die on that warm day in May. I feel like a part of me is missing. It was the part of me I wanted to be but never took root.

At this point, it is too late to chop down the tree. But I can prune away the old unhealthy branches to make room for new growth. That I still can do.

April’s Fools

I woke up this morning hoping this whole thing was going to be an April Fool’s Day joke. But it seems like we are all stuck in some time warped Groundhog’s Day movie.

As each day runs into the next, I fight the urge to be unproductive. I feel sluggish like I’ve gained a great weight. I must keep fighting against the desire to hibernate. I don’t want this blog to become stagnant either. This week I finished puzzles, books, and Netflix series. I don’t want next week to be the same story at least on my blog anyway.

I still need lists and goals even if it is something simple like changing the lightbulb in my bathroom which I checked off my list today.

It’s time to clean house. Currently I have 11 posts in my drafts. It’s time to resurrect them or toss them in the trash. By the end of April my goal is to have zero drafts.

My normal writing process is as such. I usually write a draft in the morning or early afternoon. By late afternoon I edit and publish it. But sometimes I feel like the post is not ready. Some of the first editions end up in the drafts and I rewrite it altogether until it’s right.

If I have a bad feeling about something I wrote, then most of the time I don’t publish. Sometimes I let it marinate for a day or two, but some have been sitting in my queue since August. Those are the really personal ones.

Things are about to get a little crazier around here! Now is the perfect time for some spring cleaning!

 

Gratitude week 13

I’m not the superstitious type, but week 13 pretty such says it all for me right now. I’m having a hard time feeling grateful. Whose stupid idea was it to do this gratitude crap anyway? Oh well!

Right now I’m supposed to be touring New Orleans for the first time with our foreign exchange students and family. Instead we got the news today that Clara’s parents want her to go back home to Germany. We are so sad it has to be this way. We also decided not to have our daughter be a foreign exchange student.

This week the last thing I put in pen on my calendar is gone. We will not be visiting my brother and his family for Easter.

The Europe trip open to students and their family that got cancelled is not refunding us all of our money. They are keeping almost 1/3 of the travel expenses. Parents are angry and a petition is being sent around to try to get everything but our security deposit back. It’s a huge mess.

My husband and I have been fighting like crazy.

Everything keeps breaking. Now my son is having problems with his car.

Need I mention the economy.

So…it might be hard to find ten things this week.. Here goes..

  1. We are all healthy.
  2. We have enough food to eat.
  3. I only left the house once this week. That being said, the only compliment on my hair was from my husband. Just for the record, the last time I colored my hair was in September. I started doing this before it became cool (the hair salon’s closed).
  4.  I spent some time working on our new business today and it felt good to be productive.
  5.  In some ways I kind of like not being so busy.
  6.  The weather is going to be nice this week, sunny and temps around 50. It is so hard to exercise outside when I am freezing so this will be nice.
  7.  We named our indoor pool Florida. We can go to Florida now.
  8.  I think I am doing pretty well holding things together.
  9.  We will only have 3 teenagers in the house, although I am very sad Clara is leaving early since we get along so well. But it isn’t good bye forever and she will be reunited with her family.
  10.  I had a couple nights this week that I slept fairly good.

The new normal

I’m doing okay with this isolation. It’s not that I don’t like isolation, I like having a choice. I was supposed to be on a beach in Florida right now.

Things are breaking down. The DVD player broke that I watch my exercise videos on since the gym closed. Thankfully my ancient laptop has a DVD player. Our main TV died. I don’t think it responded well to the surge of overuse. Or maybe it didn’t like being the bearer of bad news. Or maybe it got a virus. Oh wait, that only happens to computers.

We dug out some puzzles. After sorting the pieces of three puzzles in a row on the same day, all three were missing multiple edge pieces so I threw them out. Then Clara and I opened a brand new puzzle still in its plastic wrap and that was missing an edge piece too. We searched and searched but all I found was some dried up dog puke behind the couch. Now I remember why I hate puzzles. I had to walk away for a few days. The last remaining shred of my sanity was on the line. Seriously!!?! A brand new puzzle had 4 pieces missing.

This corona virus is the new crisis in my life right now. It’s not that bad really after the last couple months of crap going on. Being lonely and bored has been an adjustment. It’s hard to sit still and not to feel like I should be rushing around doing something. I almost feel guilty about sitting around while essential employees are working hard with people getting sick and dying.

I worry somewhat about my loved ones getting sick. I realize that my husband and most of my best friends are over 50. Having my mom, husband, and close friends all be older than me is slapping me in the face hard right now. It’s forcing me to look at death. Thankfully at this time all my friends and family are healthy.

My daughter Arabella got her old job back at the grocery store. The last couple weeks its been like the day before Thanksgiving there. They recruited her hard. They gave her a raise and put her back in the bakery packaging products and washing dishes. They told her customers would probably be rude to her. Arabella was happy about this. At Culver’s she used to run orders out to people’s cars. People treated her kindly and gave her tips whereas they chewed other employees out except for the ones with special needs. Then she started worrying that the customers thought she had special needs because they treated her differently than everyone else.

Our foreign exchange students are still here. They could stay if their host and real family still wants them to as long as school is in session. Online schooling is scheduled to start on Monday. They both realize they could be stuck here beyond the time they planned to go home. Estelle is feeling homesick and Clara was also crying about it this week. They are keeping a journal of their experiences and hopefully some day it will make for an interesting historical book.

It seems like all of our plans have been washed away. The trips we were planning are gone now. Financial security. Gone. Paul and I are working on starting a new business soon. How will that go in this economy? My structure and routine are gone. The gym is closed. I won’t even be able to see my daughter graduate from college.

I worry about death more. I even worried about what it would be like to become very sick from the virus. After running outside I felt a little wheezy from seasonal allergies. I wondered what it would be like not being able to breathe. My workouts are lackluster. Why bother? The races I might sign up for this summer might not even happen this year.

I have to hope that soon we will get through this and it will be on to the next crisis.

Enviable ignorance

This week my autistic brother Matt celebrated his birthday. He was rather upset he was not able to celebrate his birthday with family at the bowling alley like he has done every year for over a decade now.

His program he attends for autistic adults and children was also shut down. The group home he lives in closed its doors. They don’t have enough staff to cover the hours at the house where its residents were previously gone.

Matt was sent home disrupting his day to day routine just like the rest of us. This was rather disturbing for a population of people who don’t understand why the change is happening. But as they say ignorance is bliss. He is happy to be at home because he likes it there. He adjusted really fast to having my mom dote on him.

Matt wasn’t upset the day the police officers showed up at my parent’s house to talk to my dad. But that was the day the rest of our lives changed forever. You see, the police came on a Friday. That was the day Matt was scheduled to come home for the weekend and all was well for him.

Matt isn’t worried about the corona virus. He isn’t trying to stop touching his face. He is not worried that our parents who are in their 70’s might die. He just worries about whether his food will show up on the table when he is hungry just like a small child or household pet. He doesn’t have the responsibility of a family. He doesn’t even have to take care of himself.

In all honesty, sometimes I wish for that ignorance. Dementia doesn’t sound all that bad to me because who wouldn’t want to forget all of the bad things that happened to them. Maybe sometimes I just want someone to take care of me.

I wish I lived in a world where there weren’t so many things to worry about. I envy Matt’s ability to remain calm and worry free in times of great chaos and unpredictability.

There is something attractive about having a child like faith and sense of wonder in times of struggle. I want to be like a carefree child who dances and plays. I want my only worry to be about whether or not someone feeds me having the security that they will.

Yet I have been given the gift of reason. With this gift comes a great burden. Difficult decisions need to be made. It’s hard to break free from the stress and struggles that awareness brings.

I don’t want to be like Matt but sometimes I envy him.