Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Life goes on...

I have been home for 5 days now from my trip.  I seem to feel more exhausted with the passing of each day.  Tonight, I came home from work and just sat on the couch until dinner and then went up to lay down on my bed.  Just so tired...

I don't have time to be this tired...really.  I still have patients to see, sons to drive to baseball, a house to try to keep clean and life to live.  The thought of all of this is overwhelming.  Yet...I just came back from a place that was so poor that they had nothing to do.  They sat in plastic chairs, nursing babies with their feet in the mud, without the daddy's around to help them, without the hope of a job.  They did with out decent medical care, with out water to drink that doesn't make one ill...and I am complaining of being tired. 

Interesting feelings all of this evokes.  I should be eternally grateful and be thanking God and my lucky stars for what I have.  I should be jumping out of bed in the morning, heading to my exercise class and then going to work...cheering at my son's games and being happy.  But you know what?  I'm not...frankly, I think I am a little depressed and confused. 

So there...I said it.  I am down, depressed...confused.  Why though?  I can't understand why.  Is it the menopause thing and I have trouble handling life?  Is it a let down because I was so productive there and here I am not?  Or...am I an overweight, 47 year old woman who just can't work that hard anymore? 

All I know is...it's time to perk up.  To be thankful for the life I have here.  I gotta set the alarm and get out of bed and get going.  Tommorrow morning, I am going to say good bye to the thoughts at the pity party and figure it out.  That is what I am gonna do.

But...to be honest, I am so tired I'm gonna go to bed. 

We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Going on the wagon...

I got home from Nicaragua on Friday night and have been to 4 baseball games in the last two days.  Life is busy...isn't it?  I did stop and think about my trip when I went to the port-a-potty at the field...and how nice it was from the toilets and outhouses I had been using in Central America.  But..I digress...

So, I have decided to go "on the wagon."  My youngest son asked what that meant...so I had to explain..."I stop drinking alcohol until we go on vacation, which is about a month from now".  I have two goals in mind with this declaration.  I have been drinking a drink or two during the week almost every night and...I am blowing up.  I am fatter than I have been for a long time and when I have a drink with dinner...all my self discipline goes out the window.  

Tonight...preparing to go on the wagon, I am finishing my second glass of pink wine.  It is no secret how I like that stuff...but until the 23rd of July...no mas...I am done. 

I am headed back to work tommorrow.  My love, my sweet patient...died while I was gone.  I kinda knew that would happen and I am trying to have good boundries.  In the past, I wouldn't go on planned vacations when people I took care of where close to death.  I knew he was close, so I handed his care off to a lovely nurse that took great care of him.  But...I wish I was with him and his sweet girl to help him into the next level...what I believe is heaven.  But, my guess is, he didn't need me at all.  He did it on his own and I love him all the more.  I am sure that I will have the honor of more patients like him and hopefully, I can be of service.

The Queen called me from the camp this morning.  She was out on trail last week and loved every minute of it.  Sleeping under the stars, taking big hikes and cooking over camp stoves.  She is something, I tell you.  I haven't laid my eyes on her since the 30th of May...longest time since she was born.  I can't believe that I am able to breathe.  I miss her but also am better for the separation.  She is fine and doing her thing...isn't that the way it should be?  But, I am going to that camp on Saturday to see her or else...

My boys both play ball on the same high school summer team.  Today, in the second game, my oldest boy was catching and the pitcher was having trouble finishing the inning.  All of a sudden, out comes my youngest to try to finish the inning in his high school pitching debut.   Nervous, of course.  Where was that big bottle of pink wine when I needed it?  They actually did good as a team and I thought about the hours in the driveway with one pitching to the other one and the fights that ensued.  I was hoping one of them didn't start a smack down right there on the ball field. 

It's Sunday night in Conifer.  My youngest has his buddy over and my oldest is going to see his girl for a hour or two.  I am sitting here with my "old man" doing the Sudoku.  We are not talking...just sitting next to each other at the kitchen counter doing our thing.  I have the computer on Pandora and I am listening to "Cold play" radio and all is well.  When I look to my right, I see the kitchen table with the flowers that were left for us by my son's girl as a welcome home gift.  The "Happy Birthday" decorations are still up from the birthdays that happened in May and June too.  I guess I am behind in the house cleaning, house wife aspect of my life.  I always am.  Then  I look up to my right on the wall over the windows and I see the wooden plaques that I have hung up..."Count your blessings" and "Gather together with thankful hearts" and understand what the priority is.  It is relationship, service, kindness and love...and not necessarily in that order.  If I rate the last few weeks with those priorities...I'm not behind at all.

So here is to getting healthy...being "on the wagon", taking off a few pounds and keeping it real....

Wish me luck!
We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all...yes, I do!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Vacation...kind of...

The last 10 days, I have been on a trip.  "A vacation?" people ask..."Well" I usually respond "not really, but kinda."  Like I have said before, when I think of vacation, I think of sun, heat, beer and water.  This trip had a few of these factors...the heat, the sun and something cold that passed for beer.  As far as water, there was tons of it but not any to drink, swim in or use for brushing teeth.  No, this was not a vacation but is was an experience. 

This trip was called a mission trip...a trip to Nicaragua.  I am sure that people go there to vacation though...I am told on the Carribean side there are resorts and places that are nice.  I haven't seen that side of the country.  Some day I will...just to get an idea if there is some balance of the poverty that from my standpoint is everywhere. 

Our group got  home last evening so as I write this...my feelings are raw.  They are mixed up and I seem to always feel this when I leave.  I tell myself that I won't do that again, yet every year I do.  Will next year be different?  We'll see how I feel early next year.

We travel to Managua...the capitol city of Nicaragua.  The chaos, noise and poverty is evident.  There is even a smell to it that is different than our air.  It smells of smoke, garbage, mud and humans.  Car and bus horns sound like an angry scream of a nervous mother calling her children in from danger.  The streets are busy...disorganized traffic of older cars and school buses that have seen their day...but they are painted up and put to use there.  It is not unusual to see a man with a skinny horse or a couple of bulls at a red light with a home made cart full of people pulling them to a destination.  We saw motorcycles, people in the streets, ladies with giant baskets on their heads selling what they have to the people in the bus while we wait at a light.

We traveled down the Pan American highway to a small town about an hour from Honduras.  It is quieter and slower...I almost feel comfortable there.  We move into our rooms for the week.  The rooms are tiled, with super hero sheets that have been washed over the washboard and hung over chairs to dry.  It is clean and becomes the base for our work.  At night, though, when I feel the things crawling on me, I realize I am not the only one in my bed...a family of ants join me nightly and bite my lower legs when I sleep.  After a few nights, I don't even notice because I am so tired and emotionally drained.

For 5 days, the medical team loads the bus and heads to a place with little to no medical care.  I am the lead on the team, so as we get the the house or community building, I gather up my energy and head out.  I figure out how we can put 3 providers each with a translator, a pharmacy and an optometry station in a dark 400 square foot house.  Somehow, by the grace of God...we do it daily.

The hardest day was a town called Porterillos.  It was up in the mountains and the bus gave up due to mud about an hour from the area.  We had a 4 wheel drive truck so we loaded the medical bags in the back and people on the bags and headed up.  Anyone who could walk, did.  By the time I arrived, I was soaking wet from sweat and a little discouraged.  Walked in to the church and there were at least 200 people looking to be seen.  Quickly, our team organized the tables and chairs and got to work.  Around 4 pm...it started to rain.  The group decided that we needed to leave or we weren't going to get out.  Tell me, how do you leave a group of folks that haven't been seen and have waited all day?  Not me...I couldn't do it.  A skeleton crew stayed...the nurses, doctor and my husband and the four teenagers...and finished the patients.  We quickly headed out and hoped for the best.  My husband and I plus the kids were in the back of the pick up when the rain started.  If you haven't experienced going down the Pan American highway in torrential rains in the back of a truck...don't. 

Before the rains....

When my adult ADD kicks in and I decide I am done writing...I say to myself...Get to the point.  But today, I am not sure there is a point.  I haven't had enough time to process the experience, to decide if I am ashamed of myself for trying to change a culture to my own or if I am proud that I have made some folks more comfortable with more information and medication we provided.  At this point, it is a little of both.  Hopefully, the pictures will tell the rest of the story....

The countryside is green and lush

The arrival to the town

The exhaustion...sleeping on the bags on the bus

More pure exhaustion

Joy at seeing buddies from prior years

Choosing sides for the "mud lot" baseball game

Getting to tell this mother how healthy her boy is

No answers today...just thoughts and pictures on a page.  I doubt I will know what I think for a long time.  But...I guess I have come to one conclusion.  I was born in the US...they were not.  The norms are different there.  Other than that...I just don't know...and I doubt I will.

We'll tawk later,
I love you all...I really do and have missed you all so much,

Friday, June 10, 2011

Stupid is as stupid does....

It's June 10th and in a short few days...I will have been on this earth 47 years.  47 years and one would think I would be wiser.  But instead of being wiser, I tend to do the same things that get me nowhere over and over and over again.  I AM THE DEFINITION OF STUPID!  Now, don't jump to the comments section to make me feel better.  I know I'm not stupid...but to continue to do things the same way that get the same outcome when it is not the outcome that you want...I have heard that is the definition of stupid.

Here are a few examples that just showcase the issues.  I am overweight...and I can finally say, that I may very well be the heaviest I have ever been.  I had to go to the store and buy size 18 pants to wear.  I have never had to do that before.  Now buying bigger pants, that's not stupid, that's smart.  To wear clothes that fit well and are not strangling me is brilliant.  But, here is where the stupid comes in.  I have always, always, always wanted to be thinner.  I have been thinner and I know what I am supposed to do to be thinner and for a 47 year old woman, I would say it would also make me healthier, feel better, look better and hence...be happier.  You would think it would be a no brainer.

But, it is not a no brainer because I know all this but continue to do the things that support the "stupid" behavior.  I also spend time fooling myself about it.  I used to avoid the scale...but now I don't.  I was hoping the number would shock me into a change that is permanent but alas...I just say..."oh well, that scale has to be wrong"  and move about my day.  I think that is stupid behavior.

The next thing makes me think I am not playing with a full deck...  I have my own business and sure, it looks great and I can remember thinking that would be just the best thing ever.  Well, for me, it is not.  I will admit right here...I am no business woman.  I am a mom first and a nurse second and multiple other things before I am a business woman.  It took me alot of billing and not getting paid to get that.  As a matter of fact, I am still owed money and it doesn't seem to help to bill the people.  They must be bad business people too, huh?

Oh and another thing.  I spent alot of my time when the kids were little being ultra organized with lists and schedules.  I was so proud that I could do all that and still keep a plate in mid air.  I was so proud that my identity depended on it.  After my business started to fall apart...not really, it's just that I was sick of working for free because I wasn't having any fun...I had time on my hands.  I went to the gym, I cleaned my house, I cooked dinners and spent time with family and friends.  But, I also would get on my favorite couch in the living room with the sun shining in and read the paper.  Or, if you are missing a few cards from the deck, read the paper and then fall asleep in the sun.  I didn't want to fall asleep every day...or should I say...I wanted to but didn't think I should.   That made me feel like I wasn't keeping the plates in the air and doing my crazy life very well.

So I got a job...doing Hospice.  I love it, I do but I also felt that familiar crazy, stupid voice saying...didn't you do this and it made the house crazy?  I remember the voice and I remember my reply to the voice...Be quiet voice...I can do this and this time it will be different.  Yep...just plain stupid.

Finally, it was thrown in my face.  I got a message from a facebook friend that spurred me to think about this again.  In the mix of my life, I do tons of things that I just don't give a second thought to.  In one of those things that I am doing, my face book friend wrote: You seem so overwhelmed...and then went on to tell me what she could do to help.  When I read that, it made me mad.  I started to think... what is she was talking about...and those voices in my head had a field day (after having a therapuetic cocktail session with my girls in NC).  But there was another voice that was creeping in and saying she was kinda right.  I yelled at that one too...Voice...you don't even know me and I am just doing what I do...to which the voice responded to me in a whisper...stupid, huh?

Next week, I am going to Nicaragua and I love that trip.  I get to use my spanish and give out meds.  I get to see my girls in the hood in Somoto and they get to love me up.  I also get to watch my sons building houses and playing soccer with friends they met a few years ago.  My husband becomes young again there too.  That permanent scowl that he has on his almost 50 year old face softens when he hangs with his amigos and tries to communicate in his "Spanglish" while the guys humor him.  And yes, it is something I have done for four years now and it is beyond stressful to get ready. But once we walk away from the house...It is awesome.  I guess I have stupid "gray area's" that make it all the harder to figure things out.

The Hospice job is not stupid either.  After I pull into the driveway of my patient's house, I sit in my car and clear my brain.  I slow down and quiet my issues to focus on theirs.  I use my brain and my heart and try to understand my role.  And I do love every minute of that...honestly every minute.

So...finally...my brain just told me...ENOUGH WITH THE STUPID.

*WHEN YOU ARE IN NICARAGUA...DRINK THE WATER, GET THE WATER BORN ILLNESS AND LOSE WEIGHT WITHOUT TRYING...that'll be easy...not too stupid either because I will get thin.
enough said there...

So, you see.  I have done the whole circle of thinking and now am sure that I am the smartest almost 47 year old woman on the face of the earth.  That is how things go in my head and I guess that is just how I survive.  And actually, I do more than survive but...I do think sometimes it is just plain stupid.

Thanks for listening and hopefully getting a chuckle here and there.
I gotta run...really and get a few things done.  Stupid...nah, just the way it goes when you live in my head.

We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

French Press, Boots in the hall and Hope...

Sometimes out of nowhere, life throws you a curveball. I guess that is when we know what we are made of.  Last weekend, I got to see what a young women I adore is made of.

Let me start from the beginning.  We met at the library...the three ladies...the Tuesday Boozeday girls.  We had decided a few weeks earlier to go see our friend.  When I say "friend", I mean a young woman who is at least 20 years younger than us and mentored our teenagers through tough times.  Sure, we consider her a friend but I think to her, we are middle aged moms...and we are.  We wanted to see her, see how she was doing after the losing the love of her life in Afghanistan last September.  We hadn't had too much communication to speak of but still asked her if we could come.  "Sure", she said "but don't just say it and then not come."  Okay, we thought over cocktails at lunchtime...we can do this...let's go.  Our boozeday consisted of looking at airfares and layovers and making a decision.  Finally, we decided when and how.  "Book it" we said to Sheryl, thinking that maybe we shouldn't go...but she did.

Last weekend was the travel time and we arrived at the airport and she picked us up.  I was a little nervous, to be honest.  What will she be like...I thought...how does she get out of bed everyday?  I saw them on the day they were married and I have never seen two people more in love. 

We hugged hello and got in the truck..."What do you want to do, girls?"  she asked.  We settled on dinner at a karaoke/sports bar that she and her husband had been to.  After we ordered our food and a pitcher of beer, we all began to relax.  She talked about her love and the times they had come to the bar and the things they had watched on the TV.  She had a twinkle in her eye when she spoke of him and their times together.  She is so proud of her soldier. 
We finished dinner and left for their home.

It is a lovely home and everywhere you look, you see the man of the house.  His shoes are in the hall, the notes he wrote to her are still on the fridge along with pictures of them.  I had the honor of sleeping under a quilt made of his combat fatigues.  She loves to be there...among his pictures and their memories.  That is not to say that it isn't hard...because I will tell you...just being there in the memories stung me at times beyond words.  I found myself walking away or wiping tears so not to ruin the mood.  I can only guess how it is for her.

But she is so real.  She is wounded and I can see her ache for him...for a different outcome of the story.  Right now, though, it is not to be.  So she gets up in the morning, makes her french press coffee and reads her bible.  The sun shines in on the table and I swear, you can see the path to heaven...and he is there...I am sure.  But, right now...there is no changing what is, so she goes about her life honoring his wishes and her love for him. 

We were in the bookstore browsing after having a great lunch in the sweet town she lives in and I had an amazing thought.  I was thinking about me and my trials and things I think are a problem...and then I looked across at "our girl" and smiled.  She is perservering in the suffering only we can hope we don't ever feel...the suffering of a love and what could have been...but  she goes on...she makes her coffee, puts one foot in front of the other, and even has a big belly laugh at times.  I can be sure it is not easy. 

As the weekend was coming to a close, we were sitting on the porch when a song came on..."It is well with my soul" and the ladies said they liked the song.  In my head, I disagreed..."How can it be well when things are so hard?" I thought.  Then our girl, who also said she loved the song...said it helped her through...that she is not alone and someday will see her love again.  While I wish things were different, I  have decided to live in the hope as well.

Thanks so much ladies and "our girl" for a wonderful visit...may we all be bold and live in the hope every minute of every day!
We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sitting in the Sh*t (poop) of life

Man...humans have to deal with alot of unexpected things that knock us off of our center.  If it isn't us, it's our friends, our kids and our folks that we love.  I look at it as "sitting in the sh*t" with our friends so when it is our turn...they sit with us.

A friend of mine is starting the war against breast cancer.  She is doing the chemo thing, did the radiation thing and surgery thing and then she waits.  All summer, she will go and get the meds to kill the enemy, fight the fight and hopefully, this is just a big bump in the road of life where we evaluate, change our priorities and live until we are good and old.  But, right now...she and her friends are sitting in the sh*t with her.  And, I have to say...that is where the greatness of human kindness shines through.

I sent an email out to get meals for the family.  She's got a great family  with growing boys and a worried husband.  The response I got from the crowd in our town was and is phenomenal.  Everyone wants to help...to feed, to drive and to love.  I had the month of June filled up before 8am this morning and have the waiting list for July in my email folder.  They are going to be fed like kings and queens...and I am sure it will make us all feel better too.    Hopefully, it will help my friend rest and recuperate and get rid of the nasty cells and move on. 

When the summer is done, we will have a huge party with uneaten food from the freezer and drinks all around the celebrate the victory.  I am looking forward to that...my friend.

Friday, I leave on a plane to go see a dear friend that lost her soul mate in Afghanistan last September.  She misses him more than I will ever know but she goes on.  She has to get out of bed every day, living in a situation she didn't want or pick and go on.  She is unbelievable and I cannot wait to hang out with her.  But...another unplanned fork in the road.

My job is based on unplanned forks in the road of life.  My sweet patient who has the lovely wife is failing...and he is sad that his time is coming.  I sat on the couch and we talked about just that.  How it has been so good and he has been so lucky and how he and his wife got so lucky to have this love but...it's going to be time to go soon. We talked about how while he isn't fooling himself...he would rather stay longer.  I didn't know what to say...I would rather he stay longer too.  But...alot of the time, we don't have control of things. 

So, I think I am getting comfortable sitting in the sh*t.  While we were packing for Nicaragua, I held up my favorite adult diapers for my husband to know when it is my time to wear them.  When I need them because I'll be the one who needs them and he'll be sitting in the sh*t with me (maybe literally).  You see, we will all be there eventually and it is nice to have some folks that can stand the smell.

So, I want to give a shout out to all the folks that can tolerate the bad smell, the feeling of complete fear and the forks in the road but still love each other through it all.

We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,