Sunday, May 23, 2010

The countdown has begun AND did you see that finale???!!!

First things first...Did you see the Grey's Anatomy finale? To quote all of my teenage students:  "OMG!!!" I was completely on the edge of my seat (or, more accurately, the edge of my pillow in my nice, soft, cozy bed) the entire time. I was gripping my wine glass so hard, I thought it might crack. Disaster! I'm not sure I've ever seen such an exciting, suspensful, unexpected season finale in all my life. It was really good. And, since I consider trash TV like Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives to be one of the keys to my sanity, I am proud to announce to the world how much I loved the finale. Seriously. Great television!

Completely unrelated to the above paragraph....I am now only 2 1/2 days away from surgery, and the clock is ticking...I spent the morning cooking meals to put in the freezer, because I remember from last time how damn hard it is to cook when you're on crutches. Then, three of my generous and lovely co-workers showed up with more meals for the freezer. Meals they had spent all morning preparing by hand. Good meals too. We're not talking tater tot casserole and macaroni and cheese here. We're talking sirloin, roast chicken, hawaiian meatballs, spare ribs...My family will be eating a lot better than they usually do.

It was incredibly made this whole thing seem a lot more real. I really am about to have my ankle basically taken apart, pieces removed, new pieces put in, tendons and ligaments re-arranged, holes bored into bones...followed by months and months of rehabilitation. And, I'm kinda freaking out. Yes, I went through the first surgery just fine, and I'm sure I'll be OK this time around. Still...freaking.
The great thing is this...I can maintain my calm exterior with my family (with the exception of my meltdown the other day), and I can save my freak out to send out into cyberland to anyone who might be listening. That way, I appear to be handling this all with tremendous grace under pressure. NOT!

So, off I go...Wish me luck...Not sure when I'll be back, but I will be back!


Saturday, May 22, 2010

The straw that broke this camel's back. Yes, I'm calling myself a camel. Whatever! I've been called worse.

I think, under the current circumstances, that I've been keeping things together pretty well. Did I have a minor meltdown upon learning that hubby dear is being laid off AGAIN? Yes, but it was mild, and I pulled it all together pretty quickly. Have I had my moments of despair about my upcoming surgery and being on crutches for who knows how many months afterwards while trying to take care of two little boys? Of course. But, if you don't count that one really scary dream I had about cadaver ligaments coming to life and bursting through my cast, as well as just a couple of minor little sobbing spells in the shower, I think I've handled that situation with a fair amount of stoicism and optimism as well.

But, there is only so much one woman can take.

And, Thursday's little adventure was the one that did me in...

It has to do with my darling old dog, Cosmo. I adopted him from the pound when he was just a little guy -- fat and fluffy and full of energy. Now, he's 12. He's just a little old man, who  wants to take naps and fart and lick what's left of his boy parts. He's got weak hips, he can't see or hear very well, and he snores louder than my husband (which is a significant achievement, let me tell you). But, he's also pretty cheerful. Still wags his tail and engages with the family and looks forward to his meals...An optimist, just like me. Still, I know that the day is coming in the fairly near future, when it will be time to say goodbye. What I learned, yesterday, is that I am no way near being emotionally prepared for that to happen!

When I got home from work and picking up the kids and running errands (the usual craziness) around 4:30, I found my old dog, Cosmo, staggering around the room, falling over, his head tilted crazily to one side, and his eyes literally rolling around in his head. Did I handle this with any sort of grace under pressure? Hell no! I started bawling my eyes out. I called the vet, bawling, put Cosmo and the kids in the van, bawling (me, not the kids), sat in the waiting room, bawling, with Cos wrapped up in a blanket on my lap, his eyes still rolling crazily around in his head, his whole body was horrible. The one bright spot was that my little boys were AWESOME! I told them I was crying because Cosmo is sick, and that I'm very worried about him. They took it in stride. They played with the toys in the vet's office, and they'd come over from time-to-time to pat Cos on the head or give me a hug. They were fantastic! Great little guys to have with you in a crisis, I guess.

Finally, we get called back into an examination room. In walks the doc., and he's the very same vet that saw Cosmo on the day I brought him in for his first puppy check-up. It was even the same exam room. This set me off into more bawling. And, you know how some women cry and still somehow manage to do it prettily? Their eyes turn into liquid pools, they get those big, fat tears that just roll perfectly down their faces, and they somehow just look fragile and kind've beautiful at the same time, like a lost puppy? Yeah. That's not me. This was full-on, ugly crying. There was heaving, there was snot, there was blotchiness...It was, in no way, pretty.

So, the doc. gets down on the floor with us and takes a look, as I sob and sniff. Then, he looks up at me and says, "This is actually quite common in dogs over 12 years old. It's called ideopathic vestibulitis." (Or something like that) To which I reply, "Does this mean (sob) that today (sniff, sob, snort) is his last day?" When he told me it wasn't going to be his last day, and that he would actually get over it in 10 days just by taking Benadryl twice a day, I cried even harder from the relief. The vet actually took my boys out of the room for a few minutes, got them each one of those big, fat, plastic medicine syringes,and then showed them how to turn them into water squirters. Need I say that this is a man who also has kids? He knew what needed to be done. Thank goodness for other parents, eh? Where would we be without them?

Anyway, in spite of the diagnosis, I was just completely undone by the experience. Truly. Un. Done. It was just too much. I pretty much cried off and on that entire night. I'm still exhausted from it, and that was 3 days ago. Clearly, I am not emotionally ready for the loss of my little old dog. And, clearly, my stress levels are a bit high right now.

So, listen up, Universe...Enough already!

I'm going to bed now...


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Zits? Are you kidding me?!!!

So, tomorrow is my (gulp) 42nd birthday. FORTY - FRIGGIN - TWO! I'm not one of those people who freaks out about birthdays, either. I feel really lucky to have survived this many years, mostly in one piece, and with a lot of (mostly) great memories and experiences. Still, entering the 40's, on the whole, has been a bit of a shock to my system...

For example, I never expected to be dealing with menopausal symptoms at such a relatively young age. Night sweats, insomnia, hormonal mood swings, decreased libido, the whole lot...(Thanks, Mom. My doctor tells me I have your genes to blame for such an early onset. Sigh...)

I also never expected that, along with these other lovely symptoms of aging, I would suddenly be experiencing outbreaks of acne to rival the outbreaks of the middle school kids with whom I work. Acne? At 42? Are you kidding me?!!! Is there no justice in the world?!!!

Oh, and throw in wrinkles there, too, will ya?  I'm not just talking those crinkly crows' feet you get around your eyes from smiling, either. Oh no...Now I've got all those other "expression lines" as well. The deep forehead wrinkles, the lines around the mouth, etc., etc. Wrinkles AND acne at the same time? How is that fair?

Gravity. Gravity apparently decides to really kick in when you're in your 40's. All kinds of things start to head south....Makes you really start to work on positive thinking and loving yourself for "who you are" instead of "what you look like". Why? Because you have no choice, unless you're a fabulously wealthy movie star, who can afford to take frightening (and frighteningly expensive) steps to defy all that gravity.

Other shocks have occurred as well. Like many, many other people in our country, I never imagined that, with college educations and good jobs, between the ages of 40 and 42, my family would experience two layoffs and not be sure how we would make ends meet. I thought we'd be putting away a little money toward college funds for the boys, maybe saving for a trip to Disneyland...Not quite how things have turned out. (And, for that, George Dubya and company, I'd like to say "Thanks a lot!")

I also didn't imagine myself having major surgery not once, but, after two weeks from today, TWICE! I didn't think this body would be falling apart quite so soon...

On the other hand, my 40's have also brought me:

Countless hugs, kisses, tickle-fights, and surprises from my two little boys.
Shared challenges that have brought my husband and I closer than ever before.
Great moments at work that reinforce my belief that I was born to be a middle school counselor.
Precious time spent with my Mom and Dad.
A do-it-yourself kitchen remodel that I will never forget!
New, wonderful, strong, passionate, intelligent, hilarious female friends.
More laughter and chaos than I could ever imagine!

So, 42...bring. it. on.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

A visit to the lovely state of...denial!

I'm a counselor, so I know that denial can be a bad thing. You have to get past denial to really deal with your issues, right? Well, I also firmly believe that it can sometimes be therapeutic to live in denial for a bit. So, that's where hubby and I have been living for the last couple of days...the state of denial.

Denial of what?

Denial that John is going to be laid off for the second time in three years, because short-sighted people in our community didn't want to approve an incremental tax increase that would save our public transit system. This, I could go on and on and on about, but that's a subject for another time (or for a drunken rant with sympathetic friends)...

Denial that, because of his upcoming layoff, I have to have my (second) ankle surgery a month sooner than originally scheduled, to make sure everything is covered by our health insurance before we lose it to his layoff or to a miraculously-occurring new job that could materialize out of nowhere but might not provide full coverage for the surgery...

Denial that, moving the surgery a month earlier means that I will miss the last 3 weeks of the school year, losing crucial time with students I care deeply about and with friends and co-workers who are moving on to different buildings next year...

Denial that I now have to cram two months' end-of-the-year work into my remaining 3 weeks before surgery, meaning that I have to spend countless hours working my ass off outside of the work day to get it done. Precious hours I should be spending having active fun with my boys before I'm back on crutches and in excrutiating pain...again. (Did I mention this is Round Two of the ankle surgery merry-go-round???)

Denial that we've only just started to rebuild our finances from the first layoff, and now we're going backwards once again...

Now, here's the thing about denial...It can be hard to fully embrace denial, when you're surrounded by all of the regular, everyday pieces of your deteriorating life, right?

So, we left town.

Took care of some pre-surgery stuff, first, and then headed down south to blow money we no longer have on two wonderful days spent in Nirvana (more commonly known as Great Wolf Lodge -- the world's coolest indoor water park). We played and played and played some more in our climate-controlled oasis, while the weather raged outside and the rest of the world went on with their everyday lives. We drank wine, stayed up too late, ate Fruit Loops with the kids, laughed our heads off, and enjoyed every second of it. (OK, there was the one time on the family raft ride, where the raft got turned around so I was facing backwards. Never a good thing, when you're prone to motion sickness. It took me 20 minutes of peaceful floating in the wave pool before my stomach stopped churning...I know, I know. Poor little me, right? Forced to endure peaceful floating. Life is rough.)

Anyway, our visit to Denial Land had to end. And, boy, did it end with a bang. First, there was the 11-car pile-up on the way home. Thankfully, we weren't caught in the accident, just the aftermath. Still, it added 2 hours to the trip home. (We knew it couldn't be good when 5 tow trucks drove by on the side of the highway. Luckily, no one was killed or even seriously injured, according to the news that night.)

Then, there was the first day back at work after being gone. Brutal. I could work 24 hours a day until surgery day, and I still wouldn't get it all done. This was followed by the usual mad dash to pick up both little boys, followed by about 4 more hours of work at home, as the boys said things like "MOMMY! Why are you doing so much work? Play with us!" "Yeah, Mommy. How come you're not playing with us?"

Then, there was my ultrasound yesterday. Trying to figure out some "girlie issues" that are going on, including cysts on one of my ovaries. Anyway...too much information. But, picture this, if you can. I'm wearing only my sweatshirt and socks, a hospital gown wrapped around my waist. My (thankfully female) ultrasound technician has finished the exterior portion of the ultrasound and moved on to the interior portion of the exam (if you know what I mean). I'm cringing and bearing it, because, what choice do I have, right? Then the fire alarm goes off. I'm not kidding. Fire - friggin' - alarm. I looked at her and said, "I don't care what you say, I'm not going out there without my pants on."

As if that wasn't enough of a re-entry to reality... This morning, I was dropping little Foster off in his pre-school class, chatting with the teacher about his latest behavioral issues, when one of the front desk ladies came in with a worried look on her face and said, "Beth, there's something I have to tell you. The landscaper who was mowing the lawn by the parking lot just accidentally broke one of the windows on your van."

Oh, yes. 10 minutes before I'm supposed to be at work across town...Front passenger side window --totally shattered!

As for any leftover "zen" feelings from our trip to the state of denial? Also totally shattered. Sigh.