Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The more, more, more mentality

I talked a little bit about my recent experience with a prescription cough medicine.  And while on the surface I’ll say that typically I’m leery of that kind of medicine and, frankly, it tends to make me sick, I’m very glad I had it this time around.  It was helpful and practically stopped my cough in its tracks.

You need to understand that when I say “that kind of medicine” I mean a low-level narcotic medication or prescription narcotics in general.  It was a hydrocodone combo with an allergy medicine.  And, though I was instructed to, in no uncertain terms, take only the teaspoon prescribed to me, what the doctor didn't know – couldn't know – is that I wouldn't have taken it at all had I realized what it was.  It never occurred to me.  I just knew it was medicine to help with my cough.  I knew what it was, but didn't realize what it was…if that makes any sense.

When I took my little teaspoon of the stuff before bed, I knew it would put me out – the doctor told me it would – but didn't realize that it would be like a slow, warm, ooze into dreamland.  Syrupy and sweet and comfortable.  And while I was drifting contentedly toward the general direction of sleep, I remember distinctly thinking to myself, “A teaspoon wasn't enough.  Maybe you need more?  More…  More…  more…  more…  And as soon as that thought ran through my mind I bolted back out of the drift and thought – lucidly – “NO!  Stick with the instructions the doctor gave you, no matter what!”  And was, quite honestly, a little surprised that the thought had crossed my mind to begin with.

Then, as I lay there recovering from my start, I thought, “What devil or whatever put that thought into my head?  ‘Cause it certainly wasn't me!”  And I wonder now, in daylight, in complete lucidity, if those kind of thoughts are what plague an addict?  “Must eat/drink/take more, more, more…!”  Whatever the situation is; whatever the chosen addiction may be.  Does more, more, more pervade every waking – and sometimes sleeping – thought?  And later I wondered if that's also the kind of thinking that causes people to fail in things like diets, for example (which I know isn't the same thing).  I don’t know, but it's something to think about.

I'm not an addict.  I used to be addicted to cigarettes, but now I'm not – and that road was tough!  But that's honestly as close as I can come to understanding the true addict's mentality.  Which is a fancy way of saying I can't understand.  Unless you count that screwy errant thought which ran through my head the other night as I was heading off to La-La-Land.  And that, frankly, scares the hell out of me; that maybe I could be easily swayed by the lure of those kinds of medications.  I now can no longer think, when I hear of others who became addicted to pain meds or whatever else, that it couldn't and/or wouldn't happen to me.  I don’t think any of us is immune.  What I DO think, though, is that it’s another notch in the plus column for a little something called Will Power, which is not the same thing as Free Will.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Allergies are Un-fun

I've had some difficulty figuring out what to write lately.  Normally stuff just flows, but not so much the last couple of weeks.  It's annoying, really; I dislike these big gaps of nothing much in my blog.  I decided that I’d just sit down and see what happens.


So, Easter happened.  I spent a ton of time outdoors that day and then, conveniently, neglected to take my allergy meds (and yes, I know better…thank you for your concern) so I woke up Monday with a very irritated frog in my throat.  By Tuesday, I had no voice at all.  I actually had to forward my work phone to someone else for the day.  I felt OK – but just couldn't talk.  By Thursday, it had started moving to my chest (woo hoo!) and I was dragging, big time.  I just couldn't get outta my own way.  So, I begged forgiveness from my boss and went home and slept a good portion of the afternoon, and then all night.  By Friday, I was feeling better.  More rested.

Then, night before last, I coughed all night long.  It was so much fun.  That dry, tickly, unproductive, spasmodic cough, so as soon as I started to settle or drift off, I would cough.  Then I'd drift again.  And cough.  All. Night. Long.  I’m sure no one in my house got much sleep that night.  By yesterday morning, my chest hurt and I had circles under my eyes that looked like bruises and I was dragging again.


I took myself to the doc, who agreed with me that I was not sick, just suffering from allergies (see?  I told you!) but who also decided that I needed something to help the cough.  Enter strong cough medicine and a very early bed-time and I drifted away about 6:30 or 7:00 and slept all night!  And I didn't cough…much.  Hubby wanted to know if I was foggy in my head this morning after having taken the meds, but no, actually, I feel OK.  Still coughing, but it’s actually not so annoying today and my chest doesn't hurt as much.

It’s amazing to me what allergies can do to a body – and I live in one of the worst places imaginable for allergy-sufferers like me.  The thing is, though, I don’t want to live anywhere else.  I love where I live.  It's absolutely beautiful here.  Almost every single day I drive home and thank my lucky stars that I am able to live here, see the beauty, every day.  Lots of people have to drive a significant way to see what I see daily.  So yeah, allergies suck.  And sometimes allergies become something more – like sinus infections or upper-respiratory infections and the like.  But, I'll deal with it.  Because, truth be told, I’m happy where I am.


Monday, April 06, 2015

Mirror-Mirror or Dear Abby

Most people who know me understand that I am not, and never really have been, a girly-girl – except maybe when I was very young.  I don’t like dresses, preferring instead the jeans and tee-shirt attire.  Oh, I know how to dress up, and dress professionally, and tend to succeed when I do, but I prefer the comfort of jeans.

The other day I did something I very rarely do; I wore makeup.  Mostly makeup just annoys me.  Plus, I am allergic to most makeup (yes, even the Bare Minerals stuff everyone suggests to me) so mostly I just avoid it.  On top of that, I tend to be impatient – duh! – so taking the time to put on my face every morning would, in my opinion, just be a waste of time.  (I feel the same way about my hair, which explains how almost every single day of my life is a bad hair day.)  Now, granted, when I do take the time to put on makeup (and do something about my hair) I get comments on it – which is most definitely flattering – but with the allergy thing and the lack of any real desire to beautify (har-dee-har-har) it’s just better if I forego makeup altogether.

However, something occurred to me: I have a daughter.  Well…OK, I didn’t just figure this out.  I was there when she was born and her constant presence in my life makes her kind of hard to forget.  Plus, she’s kinda cute and I love her, so I think I’ll keep her around for a while.  But, it occurred to me that if she doesn’t ever see mommy putting on makeup or doing something about her hair, or thoughtfully considering an outfit, she might decide she doesn’t care about her own appearance.  And, while I don’t want her to worry about how she looks, (‘cause I think she’s pretty perfect as is) she will want to ask questions about makeup and hair (and boys – yikes!) as she grows up.

So, when I made the decision to do a little something extra to my appearance the other day, she came in and watched.  And wanted to know what everything was.  And watched very closely as I applied the goop to my face.  And showed her interest in the stuff by wanting blush applied to her cheeks, too.  And, when I was all done (and feeling pretty fabulous, actually), she said, “Mom, I like you better without makeup.  Can I pick out your earrings?” 


Oh well, I guess you can’t win ‘em all.


Thursday, April 02, 2015


Kiddos visited the dentist this week and I am pleased to report there are no cavities!  Girl-child also got her spacer removed, and she is thrilled!  They both got new toothbrushes, along with stickers and such, from the dentist.  These are reasons for much joy.


Still haven’t heard anything about the results of my visit to the Boob Bus last week.  I've now spent over a week waiting for some tiny bit of info (anything…) which will let me know if things are good, or if I need to worry some more.  Have I mentioned I hate waiting?


There is nothing (well…almost nothing) that makes me twitch more than financial issues.  This morning, I made my weekly check of things financial and found my paycheck – which should have posted overnight – was not in my account.  I almost had heart failure!  Come to find out there was a glitch in the payroll services matrix and it wasn’t just my account that was missing funds.  They say it’s going to be fixed today, but I, admittedly, am skeptical.  Here's hoping they'll waive any fees I may be charged due to overdrafts! (sigh)


And let's end on a positive, shall we?  As of weigh-in this morning, I’m officially down 19.4 lbs!  YAY!  Go me!


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

From dogs to depression and back again

Sometimes a thought runs through my head like an errant squirrel which tumbles me back through a couple of decades or more of memories which, quite frankly, are too painful to spend too much time thinking about.  It’s not that I’m denying my past; it’s more that I’m preserving my present.

For example, yesterday a friend Tweeted something about the dog down the street from her who howls every time it hears a siren.  That small comment catapulted me back to childhood and our Shetland Sheepdog, Trevor, who would howl for the same reason.  He also "sang" along to Happy Birthday whenever it was sung.  He loved to be brushed.  He did tricks.  He was as sweet as he could be.  And just thinking about him brought back all kinds of other stuff, too, so my brain said, "ENOUGH!" and shut the door soundly in the face of those memories.

When memories hit me in such a way I start feeling kind of hollow inside, like something very large is missing from me.  My heart beats faster and I can feel the cadence of it in my throat.  Thump, thump!  Thump, thump!  Thump, thump!  The pit of my stomach turns to acid.  My throat gets tight.  I feel like I’m having trouble breathing.  I become hypersensitive not just emotionally, but all over; I can sometimes feel my elbows.  (That sounds silly, but it’s true.)  Once these reactions start, if I let them go on I’m going to (without fail) have a little bit of a breakdown.  Said breakdown could be as small as a few stray tears squeezing themselves from the corners of my eyes to as large as a full-scale anxiety attack including walls closing in and running to the nearest open, outdoor space so I can breathe.  Therefore, if I tamp down on some of the most painful memories of the past, I have a better present. 

I guess you could call it self-preservation.

And really, most days I get along just fine.  But when I feel the emotions ratcheting up again, and I find that things (memories, feelings, those errant squirrel thoughts) are cropping up more and more often, I typically find it better for not only myself, but for those around me, to go back on an antidepressant.  It’s been a while now since I the last time I took such medication on any kind of regular basis, but I’m thinking it’s probably a good idea to start down that road again.  Of researching someone to talk to and possibly getting myself headed back toward emotional well-being.  I know I’m stronger, and really, I think I’m mostly doing OK, but the signs are there.  I know if I let things go it will just get worse and it will be harder to find my center again.

I must say here that I know there are people out there who are completely and totally against any kind of help in this regard.  They are against the therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists; against the mood-boosting medications which guard against depression (mild to severe).  In my opinion these tend to be the same folks who are against medications in general, really.  I am not one of them.  I believe in getting the help you need, however that may look.  I believe that you can live a happy and productive life, but I also believe that sometimes you may need a little extra help to get you there.  And that’s OK.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Righty-tighty, Leftie-loosey?

I’m right-hand dominant…I think.  I write right-handed.  I eat right-handed.  If I’m playing baseball (har-de-har-har) I bat and throw right-handed.  I toss Frisbees with my right hand.  I throw a football with my right hand.  That makes me right-handed, right?

But, I carry my purse on my left shoulder.  I wear my watch on my left wrist.  I wear my fitbit on my left wrist.  I carry stuff left-handed.  I keep my coffee cup on my left.  I use my left hand to lift and drink…mostly…though sometimes (and most especially if I’m dining at an actual table) I’ll lift and drink with my right hand.  I hold playing cards in my left hand.  I use my left ear when I’m on the phone.  (Of course, I attribute that to partial deafness in my right ear, so that’s really not an awesome example.)  I sleep on my left side.  Carrying things in my right hand feels awkward.  Wearing stuff on my right hand/wrist feels awkward.

What, exactly does this mean?  Someone with more knowledge than I have about such things needs to enlighten me in words that I can understand.  Please remember that I am not a doctor or a human behavioral scientist – nor do I play one on TV.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Boy-child's birthday

Today is boy-child’s 11th birthday!  (Well, actually, in …Off on a Tangent world, which is my virtual world, which is me, mostly, boy-child’s birthday was yesterday since I’m usually about a day behind reality here.)  Anyway, boy-child is officially a year older, and so, therefore, am I.

He was born early – about 7 weeks – and while that’s not really as early as some other premature babies, it was certainly scary enough for this first-time mother.  He spent the first twelve days of his life in the NICU at Children’s Hospital getting a suntan (he was slightly jaundiced) and being fed through a tube (he didn't have a suck-reflex, so he had to learn it).  Visiting him there was scary, too – but I couldn't stay away.

One night, hubby and I had gone home for the night with the intent of returning to the hospital first thing the next morning, and I had an anxiety attack just before midnight absolutely convinced something was wrong with boy-child.  All alone.  In an incubator.  In a big scary hospital.  All alone.  Alone.  SOB!  So hubby drove my hyperventilating-self to Children’s Hospital (a 30 mile drive, mind you) so I could see our little baby boy.

Boy-child was so tiny.  Born at 4lbs 6.8oz and 17 ¾ inches long.  He had a full head of black hair which, as he got older, all fell out and grew back blonde.  He had giant brown eyes.  Giant.  And he had a way of peeking at you from under these mile-long eyelashes – even as a tiny infant – that just melted your heart.  He had a huge noggin!  As he got a little older and started sitting up, that head, more often than not, was the reason he couldn't keep his balance and tipped right over.

As a now 11-year old, not much has changed except that he’s bigger, and he has grown into his head.  He still has huge brown eyes and long, dark eyelashes, though, and he makes use of them regularly because he knows just the right look will still melt my heart and he can get just about whatever he wants.  (I’m really not a pushover, though, and he doesn't really get whatever he wants, but darn it!  He’s hard to resist!)  I just love him to pieces.

Happy birthday, buddy!  I love you!

JMS (a.k.a. “Mom”)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Diet is a four-letter word

I read somewhere (I think it was in an old Reader’s Digest and I don’t recall who originally said it) “The hardest thing about being on a diet is shutting up about it.”  Boy, is that ever true!  (Although, personally I prefer to call being on a diet “Counting Calories” because the word “diet” is a four-letter word.)  I read somewhere else (I know it was in a Nora Robert’s book, to give credit where credit is due) where the main female character was implementing a lifestyle change instead of dieting.  Which is true, too.  So, though I might really want to sit here and tell you, my dear readers, all about my diet, I won’t.  I will, however, share a few thoughts on this experience.

Let me just say that really, a diet IS a lifestyle change.  I’ve dieted before, and even had a modicum of success, but I never thought of it as a lifestyle change and I believe that’s why I always failed.  I’m not succeeding now, exactly, but I’m doing a heck of a lot better than I have before and I believe it’s because I changed how I thought about dieting, rather than just concerning myself with what I eat or how much I exercise.

Also, I know myself a little bit better now.  For example:

  • I know that I am not a breakfast eater and never really have been.  I know that if I eat breakfast, I’m hungrier earlier than I might be if I just skipped breakfast all together.  (And to all those people who have chastised me for not eating breakfast saying it’s the most important meal of the day I say, “quitchabitchin’ at me!”)
  • I know that if there is bread or crackers or biscuits or toast or English muffins or bagels or muffins or anything of that nature hanging around, easily accessible, that I will eat it.  I can’t help myself.  (And yes, I know it seems like that goes against the whole I don’t eat breakfast thing I mentioned above, but I promise it doesn’t.)
  • I know that I feel much better if I don’t eat sugary things. 
  • I know that red meat is hard for me to digest and makes me feel somewhat ill. 
  • I know that I am not a huge fan of “rabbit food” and therefore, even though I’m trying very hard to be good, sometimes a salad will just not cut it and I must eat something more substantial. 
  • I know that I like to snack.
  • I know that I’m always hungry around midnight.
  • I know that if I tell myself I can’t have something, then that’s all I’m going to want.  So if I tell myself it’s OK to have it – just a little bit – then I can satisfy the craving and still be successful.
  • I know that I will always eat pizza.
  • I know that I must not love chocolate as much as I thought I did because I can easily resist it.
  • I know that black coffee does not count and I can have as much as I want.  (DO NOT shatter that illusion with any facts and figures.  Coffee + Jen = Human.)

Now that I’ve really thought about these things, and I understand myself a bit better, I have more keys to success.  I also have a new, fun tool that I didn't have before called an iPhone and a nifty little app called Lose It!  It’s got all kinds of helpful features and has really focused me more on my long-term goal than on the immediate what-I-can’t -have-today.

I’m walking more.  I like walking.  It doesn’t hurt me.  I really wish I had a treadmill so I didn’t have an excuse not to walk when the weather isn’t cooperating (too hot, too cold, too wet…).  I don’t like elliptical machines.  I am unable to run without serious protesting from both knees and lungs.  (Hey – asthmatic here!  Give a girl a break!)

But really – I guess I have implemented a lifestyle change.  I’m 17 hard-won pounds down now.  I have 27 more pounds to kill in order to reach my goal.  Hey – actually – that’s the first time I’ve really seen that in writing.  27 pounds doesn’t seem like such a major undertaking anymore!  How cool is that?


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Boob Bus

Fact: My mother died from breast cancer which had metastasized to other areas (bone, lung) when I was fifteen years old.

Fact: I’m having a mammogram screening on Wednesday at the Mobile Mammography Unit (Boob Bus) which will be at my office.

Fact: I’m terrified.

I’m terrified that I’ll hear those dreaded words, “You’ve got Cancer.”  I dealt with a cancer scare nearly three years ago when they removed my thyroid, so what’s to say that I’m not going to hear the same thing, now?  The Big C.

I’m terrified that I’ll wind up leaving my kids the way my mom left me. 

I’m terrified that my kids will grow up without me.  That I won’t be part of their lives; to see them graduate, get jobs, get married, have babies.  That they’ll be treated differently when their friends learn about what poor, motherless children they are.

I know I’m projecting.  I know I need to get out of my own head.  I talked with my best friend, who has an uncanny way of finding the one thing that will make me feel better when I’m hyper-emotional.  She said, “Honey, you’re getting your boobs squished on a bus!  I think you need to save the anxiety for if they find something and then have to go in with a needle!”  Of course, the whole boobs-squished-on-a-bus comment made me laugh, so then I felt better.  Mostly. 

There’s still anxiety in there.  And really, no woman really likes this part of being female.  But, though I do feel better about the actual exam, I still could use all the thoughts, prayers, and good vibes you can send my way.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The nuances of doing the laundry

I’m sorry – I know this is wrong of me to say.  It’s probably wrong of me to even think it.  But, love Hubby though I do, he creates the most bizarre loads of laundry I've ever seen.  All different kinds of colors and materials – his stuff, kids’ stuff, my stuff, random stuff – all jammed together in one overloaded…uh…load.  Here’s an example of what I found (and subsequently folded) last night:

  • a bright orange and white University of Tennessee-themed knit cap (watch cap/toboggan/toque – depending on where you’re from);
  • my long-sleeved, eggplant-colored shirt;
  • my ancient, soft, over-sized periwinkle-colored sleeping t-shirt;
  • a fake Burberry throw;
  • three or four boy-child shirts that are about three sizes too small (can’t even figure out where they came from to wind up in the load in the first place!);
  • a single pair of boy-child’s olive khaki cargo shorts;
  • one black sock;
  • a single, blue, flannel, flat sheet used for Hubby’s massage table (he’s a massage therapist, in case you didn't know);
  • a small, crocheted, doll blanket (blue);
  • one of girl-child’s soft blankies (pink and brown) 

I’m sure there was some other random stuff in there that I’m forgetting.  And yes, I know I’m petting my peeves again.  But really?  I can’t figure this out.  Did no one ever teach him that whites go with whites, darks go with darks, some materials shouldn't be washed together (if at all, ‘cause, you know, hand-washing and all that jazz) and that you don’t pack the washer drum so full that it can’t agitate? 

I know it doesn’t help that our washing machine is crappy to begin with, and that it leaks all over the kitchen floor every time we use it (yes, it’s in the kitchen) and that there’s this sort of musty odor that I absolutely cannot get rid of that I get a whiff of every single time I walk into our house; all of which means that doing laundry in our house is a challenge and not one to be undertaken lightly.  I’m trying to give Hubby a pass here.  But, admittedly, I am a bit concerned that if I mention all this to him he’ll either ignore me and continue doing it his own (wrong) way *or* he’ll simply say, “Fine, you do all the laundry then, Miss Know-It-All,” and never touch the washing machine ever again.  Neither option is acceptable to me.  Is there a third option?  I need your help here.  And as much as I’d like to ask you to fund a new washing machine and dryer (she says, only half-joking), I won’t. 

I know all the basic laundry rules.  I feel that I am, personally, quite successful at washing clothes without wrecking them.  I don’t shrink things because I dried them accidentally (or haven’t done so in a considerable amount of time).  I don’t mix colors and whites.  I know how much soap to use and when to use the delicate/hand-wash setting vs. the permanent press setting.  To quote Robert Fulghum: “These are choices I can understand and make with decisive skill.”  I still burn water in the kitchen while trying to make mac & cheese, but (again, from Mr. Fulghum) “washers and dryers I can handle.” 

However, I would very much like to know how to re-train a full-grown man on the nuances of doing the laundry.  Because, though I tend to be a somewhat (ok…thoroughly) random person myself and on some deeply-internalized level understand the strangeness of Hubby's laundry load choices, there are some things that just need to be done a certain way.  Some folks would say – hey, it’s washed, or, it’s folded, what more could you ask for?  And, quite frankly, while they are right, I really don’t want to be the one to fold every blasted article of clothing or every sheet and towel that we own.  And I really don’t want to be the only one to wash the fifty-billion loads of laundry we seem to do every week.

And yes, for those of you saying, “Why don’t you teach boy-child and girl-child to do their own laundry?” – I’ve tried.  Once.  At that point boy-child was still just not ready for it and girl-child was too little.  Now that they’re a little older, I think boy-child could probably handle it and then I wouldn’t hear “MOM!  I don’t have any clean [insert article of clothing here] to wear to school tomorrow!” anymore.  But then I'd never be sure he was wearing clean clothes and I would be absolutely mortified if he wore the same thing to school every day for a week; and he totally would.

Anyway – I could go on forever about this.  And if I’m being honest (and I am) we really need to get rid of a TON of too-small, or ill-fitting articles of clothing – so that would cut down on laundry-doing quite a bit.  But can laundry nuances actually be re-taught to someone who has been doing laundry for a very long time?  You know, kind of like teaching an old dog new tricks, it can be done, but it takes a lot of work.  And really, what kind of time do I have to actually do the work that re-training requires?

Sigh.  I guess I’m out of luck, eh?