Friday, December 19, 2014

Sweet Dreams

Sleep is one of the most talked about topics in therapy, in my marriage and in life. No one ever seems to get enough, or it they do it's never good enough.

The older I get the less I sleep. I'm sure we have all noticed this pattern in older folk. This steady decline began with having babies and interruption of sleep inherent in that. As the children got older, it seemed one ear was always listening in case something was needed. Now in my fully acknowledged middle age, I couldn't sleep past 8:00 a.m. if I wanted to, which I don't. I also have bouts of not being able to fall asleep, and definitely not staying asleep. There are multiple trips to the water closet each night with varying success of returning to REM's. Last night I just knew at 3:00 a.m. it wasn't going to work and I got up and puttered around for an hour or so and fell right back to sleep. Some of my somniferous friends from least to most effective are melatonin, Sleepytime tea, two bowls of cereal, Benadryl, and as a last resort, Rx drugs.

Did you ever wonder where the term "falling" asleep came from? I recently discovered the answer. I have several techniques I use to go to sleep particularly during day naps, and they increase my awareness of the process my body goes through. One sensation I have as I am dozing off, is that of falling. As long as I am not jolted totally awake, it's very pleasant to experience, and MUST have been where someone long ago got the phrase 'falling asleep.'

Instead of complaining about insomnia, why not embrace it?  Here are some good points about not sleeping well or long:

  • it makes time slow down- if you are constantly waking during the night, it lasts longer. Haven't you noticed if you do sleep all night, it has just rushed by in an instant? Why not luxuriate in the feeling of time standing down?
  • you can look forward (schedule allowing) to a great nap the next day
  • you can get stuff done like wrapping presents, writing blogs, or catching up on Facebook although the pundits agree exposure to screens before bedtime will disturb your sleep quality
  • some of your best ideas will be hatched in the middle of the night- then again, you may look at them less adoringly in the morning

Friday, December 12, 2014


You can sing that to the tune of "Mercy Mercy Me" by Marvin Gaye. Listening on Spotify, I could burst out crying, love that song.

Turns out, though you never can tell with the sketchy, conflicting information you get from 3 different doctors, Dad's latest diagnosis is Staph infection, non-MRSA type, in the blood. Still don't know if the bone was infected after two CT scans and one MRI. The good news is, he went home Tuesday evening and is taking IV antibiotics twice a day at home for six weeks. Mom is having to learn how to run the antibiotics and clean the wound. The latter I just don't think is going to happen. No one ever nicknamed her Florence Nightingale. Me either, my nickname being Nurse Ratchett.

Betsy arrived Saturday afternoon and helped so much by keeping Dad company at the hospital. In the process, she discovered one of the best deals in Macomb, a coffee machine in the basement of the hospital that serves delicious coffee & Cafe Latte (among other delights) for 20 or 30 cents. The creamy froth is the perfect temperature and consistency, smooth and aromatic, but I digress...It was great having Betsy here, she's definitely a daddy's girl. She went home Tuesday, and the move home was one the smoother aspects of this whole experience.

Today is the first of weekly appointments with the surgeon. Mom thought they could handle it on their own, so I hope it is going well. I haven't been over to see them since Wednesday morning. I'm feeling pretty guilty about going shopping in Springfield today.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Trauma Mama Drama

Is it really Saturday already?  Where did Friday go? Oh, I remember. It started Wednesday night when my mom called to say she had called the ambulance for my dad as he spiked a temperature and she couldn't move him. She told me to get a good night's rest and she would take care of it.

Thursday morning before work, I get a call from Mom that the diagnosis is gangrene in Dad's big toe, and they would probably amputate his toe and/or foot. That was gruesome, but my busy week at work continued and since I work next to the hospital I spent my lunch hour with Dad. His toe was exposed and pretty much took away any thought of eating. I went back after work and the surgeon was trying IV antibiotics and possibly install a shunt in his foot/leg to deliver them with surgery as a last resort. My mom asked if she could "catch" his infection and he replied it was now MRSA, which I'm telling you, really set my mom off. My knowledge of MRSA is pretty limited but I feel like there's different kinds, and you don't 'catch' it unless you rub an open sore into it.  Regardless, I did agree my dad's room and stuff he had been touching his foot to, should be washed up pretty good.

Fridays I don't generally work at my regular job, but I had about two hours of paperwork to finish so I did that and then stopped in to see Dad. He was in good spirits and the toe was now covered which made visiting easier. Then I headed to Mom's house to begin cleaning with hot water, bleach, and any other disinfectants we could find. There was a lot of bedding and clothes to wash, vacuuming, bathroom cleaning and surfaces to disinfect, but I really get into cleaning. We moved and flipped the bed, and what the heck, let's get at the piles of papers and crap on the desks, even though they could hardly be harboring MRSA. About 2:00 dad called the surgeon had read the CT scan and said his veins were clear, the bone was NOT infected and he would probably be getting out of the hospital sooner than later.

Last night I went back to the hospital and read aloud a chapter from "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and Dad helped me understand the vocabulary (what a mortar is in war and some of the Spanish words), themes, and setting. I was familiar with the term "cojones"  and we had a laugh over that.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Taking Stock

Here's one of those things you read and pass along. It somehow seems a lot more interesting for the person writing it than the person reading it, but hey, if it entertains me for the evening, I'm game.

Making : mistakes
Cooking : very little
Drinking : coffee
Reading: Winter of the World, For Whom the Bell Tolls
Wanting: a day off
Looking: forward to Christmas
Playing: Sporcle missing words from literary works
Deciding: on diagnoses
Wishing: for peace
Enjoying: quietude
Waiting: for Guffman
Liking: myself
Wondering: who I'm praying to
Loving: my family, my me-time, my lunch hour
Pondering: if snowmen are Christian symbols
Considering: others who do not celebrate Christmas
Watching: what I say
Hoping: for everyone to get well, even though that is impossible
Marveling: at how the junior high boys behave in group
Needing: a good night's rest
Smelling: Simpler Thyme candle scent
Wearing: Eli's flannel shirt, jeggings and Uggs
Following: Kangaroo Spotting
Noticing: how gluttonous I am
Knowing: my husband is keen on me
Thinking: I am sweet on my husband
Feeling: exhausted and relieved
Admiring: nurses who have to look at and touch ishy stuff
Sorting: my mom's stuff
Buying: stocking stuffers
Getting: my dad's room, bedding, clothes cleaned up
Bookmarking: every few pages that I read
Disliking: gangrene and MRSA
Opening: the refrigerator
Giggling: when Betsy gets here I hope
Snacking: on frosted sugar cookies 
Coveting: is bad, sinful
Wishing: for definition in my arms
Helping: Jen get her license
Hearing: the furnace turn on and off

What a random bunch of ideas. I actually started this Wednesday, and then a bunch of stuff happened and it changed my focus a lot.  

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving

I got this lovely email a few days ago. It truly made my day:

> This time of the year with thanksgiving coming up next weekend (and no thanksgiving to celebrate in Sweden), we think about the wondeful time we had at your house at thanksgiving last year.
> This year, we are thankful that we have this great evening to remember! What a nice time we had, your hospitality was fantastic, and the evening gave us so many nice memories.
> Again, thank you for having us, we send all our love to everyone that will celebrate with you this year! And if you're ever in Stockholm, we would love to show you around!
> Happy thanksgiving!

> Kajsa and Martin

M.Anne, Martin, Kajsa, Martin

We had a great meal and played Minute To Win It hosted by Cal, and everyone had a fun time.  This year we don't have any new guests (planned anyway), but will enjoy the usual suspects.

In addition I am grateful for:

  • having my 3 kids under my roof for a few days
  • a vigorous walk with Pat this morning
  • a job close to home that I enjoy
  • a four day weekend
  • money in the bank
  • a sense of humor
  • good health
It's so nice to have a national holiday that has for the most part stayed uncommercialized (pet peeve- blow up turkeys waving in people's front yards) that celebrates family, food, hospitality, and thankfulness. I wish for everyone to have this in their hearts this 27th day of November 2014.

Golf Ball Challenge

Yulia and Pat

My little Wellness Warrior plan for Thanksgiving 2014- take a walk no matter what the weather is (check), only eat one plate of food at dinner, only one dessert.  I didn't say anything about Krispie Kremes for breakfast, or how big my plate is, or how high my dessert is piled, did I?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Wellness Warrior

In my new job with a hospital (I work in the behavioral health clinic) it has been refreshing to encounter a focus on health for the employees. So far, this has translated into an extra $70 and a day off work for me, by participating in wellness activities and meeting certain biometric benchmarks. Last month was WalkTober, and we turned in miles walked using a pedometer. My first pedometer busted on the floor of the bathroom at the movie theater, but I found another one and finished the challenge, usually exceeding 10,000 steps a day, even though my job is about as sedentary as you can get.

This month's (actually 6 weeks) challenge is to complete a Couch to 5K Run or do a pull-up AKA be a Wellness Warrior. My idea is to head into the holidays as fit as possible so that I can enjoy all the treats of  the season. Since I hate to run, I chose the pull up. Sounds easy, huh? Not so. My baseline is 30 pull ups several times a week, with a counter balance of 40 pounds on an assisted pull up machine.

This week's challenge is to add 3 planks and 30-50 push ups per day in addition to your regular work out at different intervals. *break for 20 push ups* I'm back. This is really amping things up. My first plank was 30 seconds, my longest so far is 65 seconds. Supposedly, 2 minutes is the benchmark to shoot for, and I have a few more days to go.

On another note, November is feeling cold, cloudy and dreary. Perfect nap weather. *break for nap* Wow, I thought I just lost this post, but it came back. It's so boring, I knew I wouldn't have the energy to re-write it.

My new schedule is 9:00-6:00 Monday through Thursday. One advantage to working until 6:00 pm is having dinner on the table when I get home. I have to say, Pat has really stepped up in the cooking department. One delicious dinner he made was pork chops dipped in egg and Ritz Crackers. It was literally like Crack, one bite and I couldn't stop.

I don't believe in Christmas coming before Thanksgiving, however this year I already jumped the gun. Before Halloween, I had some colored lights I got from my mom's downsizing project and so I strung them all over our tiny Spruce, Bruce, outside. I haven't turned it on yet, but I still feel a little guilty. I also started Christmas shopping, mostly stocking stuffers that I see and can't resist. For some reason, I am now in the mood to decorate my dollhouse for Christmas. *break for miniature lights and tress* Okay, that's done now. The roofers have finally come...I need a cute, clever address for my house. Any ideas?

Lisa and Maggie playing in the attic.

The living room:

Monday, October 06, 2014

The Biggest Little Surprise

What does it mean when your children are grown and living on their own but you still stock Blue G2, Smuckers PB&J’s, Hershey’s chocolate syrup and whole milk?  You randomly pick up girlie stickers, paint brushes and High School Musical games?  You might just be a Big Sister like me.

Raising my three boys, there were definite gaps in my teen girl IQ. My little sister is educating me. I know the words to every Taylor Swift song. I am knowledgeable about all things Monster High. I have someone to try out crafts and art projects with. I have my own sous-chef and baker’s assistant. I have an enthusiastic tennis and racquetball partner.

My little sister looks up to my boys and often asks where they are and how they are doing. When they are home for the weekend she wants to stay for dinner and quiz their girlfriends about relationships, in a way only she can. She wonders what my husband is doing when he’s not home. She even got over her fear of cats and jokes around with Miss Pearl.

In my family, we each have a drawer (called our “nook”) on the first floor where we can throw our junk, so my little sister has her own drawer at my house. It is full of pictures, games, art supplies, puzzles, scrapbooking materials, and any odds and ends (think pinecones and ribbon) I deem of possible interest to a creative young woman. There is a piece of blue tulle in there, and she regularly wraps it around her head or waist and becomes a DJ or Karaoke star. 

We are into our fourth years as BBBS matches. I know I am becoming more a part of her life because she wants me attend her choir concerts and calls me up to let me know she got First at her bowling tournament. Her big sister before me died at a young age (my age), and she speaks of her often. We spent one afternoon locating her marker at the cemetery, and have been back once more to visit. Sometimes people ask me how long I plan on being a Big Sister. My little sister is 13, so my math says in five more years she will be 18. I’m all in if she is.