Posts Tagged ‘thoughts’

Health Issues – Recovery

July 21, 2008

“Who Needs Soap Operas When You Have Real Life” continues – –

While still working towards the leukemia remission, the wife was also recovering from the toxoplasmosis talked about in the last post, which gave her stroke-like symptoms. She worked on doing better at the mundane tasks of daily life, but her real goal was to be able to drive again [blood runs cold here still]. Let me say that again… with problems with memory and controlling her right arm, hand, and leg, she wanted to drive again…

She convinced herself that all she needed to do was get a new pair of glasses to fix her vision and she would be cleared to drive. Not true, unfortunately. The challenge was getting basic skills relearned.

An example of the memory issues–while away on a business trip one time, I got a call from the Girl Child. “Mom drove today.” Undisguised panic and anger ensued from the GnuKid. Seemed The Wife ‘remembered’ that her oncologist (no, not her neurologist) had said she was good to drive. GnuKid called the oncologist who categorically denied giving any such approval. Rather, he confirmed that was the neurologists call. Once calm and home, I had to ask three times before The Wife would agree not to drive again before getting the neurologists okay.

Neurologist demanded therapy and training for that approval, not to mention the need to equip the family van with hand controls. Getting The Wife to practice her therapy was challenging to say the least. Girl Child was particularly Mom-like in getting her own mother to “do her chores”. There was improvement… slowly and not without understandable trauma. Some of the trauma was in the form of emotional outbursts at not being able to do things as easily as before. Other trauma was associated with relearning other daily tasks, for example, knife-sliced fingers or burned hands as she relearned her way around the kitchen.

While I thought I’d, thankfully, seen the last of the high school parking lot where Boy Child and Daughter Person did hour upon hour of driving practice on the way to their licenses, I found myself out there again with the Spousal Unit. Every practice found me gritting my teeth.

Finally, the neurologist approved her to attempt the driving test. After our last session of practice in the parking lot, I was convinced she wouldn’t be able to pass the test, but still deathly afraid she would. Off to the state license test facility. She left with the examiner and came back 15 minutes later in tears… I felt bad for her, but was secretly glad she wouldn’t be on the road. Imagine my shock and surprise, then, when I found the tears were of joy for passing her test. And more shock when she told me she’d actually flunked, but the examiner took pity and let her retry parts of the test.

But, on the positive side, this also meant she was returning to self sufficiency. Still a ways to go, she was nonetheless making progress. She could drive, she could shop, she could cook… basics for living.

Now, I’ve heard that some couples find that under the stress of a shared challenge they regain lost love and can renew their relationships. I actually was looking for that… and never found it. I felt like, and remain to this day, a caretaker of a sick person who happens to live with me.

Maybe not so obviously, but this also added a worry to my wanting to leave the relationship. Here I am, contemplating leaving a partially disabled woman. Not severely handicapped, but still… can I live with that (knowing full well she’ll be taken care of financially, if not emotionally).

It has been almost 14 years since the audible pop… almost 9 years from my finally deciding to go… a bit shy of 9 years since her leukemia diagnosis, 7 years since the toxoplasmosis; Continuing to deal with short term memory issues, stubbornness, and other recovery issues. All the while still struggling with my own demons of worry – about the kids, about what family and friends will think, about taking a chance again to be happy…

…but it is time…


Health Issues – Toxo

July 21, 2008

The next installment of “Who Needs Soap Operas When You Have Real Life” – –

Finally home after a difficult six-month recovery from the bone marrow transplant, The Wife still was considered at risk of the leukemia recurring. I was still committed to being a good caretaker to her until the prognosis improved.

Not long after returning home, she started showing strange symptoms. Walking a bit crooked… spilling drinks… and, what really drove it home, aphasia. This is word loss. She knows what to say, but can’t find the right word to express it. Previously, she never seemed to be at a loss for words.

She had recovered enough, prior to these new symptoms, to drive herself to the leukemia follow-up appointments. On seeing her the morning of one of those appointments, I suggested that maybe I should skip work and drive her in. Now, she is a very stubborn, independent person, so it actually scared me a bit when she didn’t immediately balk at my suggestion and just meekly replied, “…sure…”.

The moment the nurse saw her walking, that leukemia appointment went out the window and she went in for an immediate neurologic exam. Sent to the emergency room, they called for a CAT scan. Now, the hospital we went to at the time had a notoriously long wait for CAT scans… we got bumped to the front of the line only 20 minutes later. Whoa. This must be serious.

Sent off to another hospital, where they took another CAT scan. Both at my hospital and this new one, they found a couple smudges on the pictures of her brain. Blood tests were inconclusive, so they had to do exploratory brain surgery. Yoicks!

Then it took three days to find out – – – toxoplasmosis.

Toxoplasmosis is a one-celled critter (parasite) that likes to party down in the lungs, eyes, or brain. It usually comes from, believe it or not, cat crap. Many people have it, but a healthy immune system can keep it quiet—sort of in stasis. Those with a compromised immune system, like a recovering leukemia patient, can have the thing all of sudden become active. And party down actively it did. In her case, it attacked two parts of the brain, one on the surface and one deep inside in the Thalmus. The surface one wasn’t any danger. The Thalmus one was nasty.

Treatment is Sulfadiazine in high dosages. The Wife is allergic to sulfa. Crap. Luckily, they can (and did) do a desensitization process.

But, nonetheless, by the time the Sulfadiazine took effect (taking longer than usual, per the doctors), the Thalmus was damaged…scarred. Now, the Thalmus is like the switchboard of the brain. The brain does the thinking and sends commands to the body, all via the Thalmus. The part that ended up scarred controlled her right side. She effectively presented symptoms as if she had a mild stroke… right side control issues… eyes involuntarily crossed… even some short term memory loss… and that aphasia was still there. Crap.

…looks like my caretaker status will have to be extended…

Did I mention, “Crap!”?

Or to use a new favorite phrase from Silverstar: “Fuckity-Fuck-Fuck!”

Audible Pop

July 17, 2008

“Who Needs Soap Operas When You Have Real Life” (GnuKid).

The story continues – –

The early years of my marriage were pretty ‘normal’, from the definitions of ‘normal marriage’ I’ve heard and read. The occasional disagreement, worked out by talking or events, was a given. Stress over job moves and raising the kidlets was also there. And, yeah, times of comfort and happiness, usually revolving around the kids or family.

Nonetheless, I started feeling unsettled. The disagreements became more confrontational, with our positions becoming more separate from each other. We both became more stubborn in our viewpoints, making compromise difficult.

I admit to being more non-confrontational than she is. I would tend to give in to her position more often than the other way around. I think she sensed this and knew that she just had to hold her ground a bit more, and then I’d cave.

I remember the ‘audible pop’, where I realized we had a seriously broken relationship. On a vacation, there was what should have been a simple solution to a situation regarding what the kids would be doing and who would supervise. It wasn’t really ‘audible’, as in I heard it through my ears. It was audible in my head. Maybe a better way to say it was I felt like I’d been slapped in the brain by the realization.

Figuring it was my fault (self esteem?), I started some self examination. And in that examination, the recognition that I was truly not happy in the relationship bubbled up over and again. I noted that, being non-confrontational, I was giving up the right to have my position heard and compromise reached. More so, there was a feeling of being the junior partner in a business to raise kids. The JUNIOR partner… not equal. And I also realized I was disconnecting emotionally from her. Not purposely, but we just seemed to be going in different and divergent directions in what we needed and could give each other emotionally.

It was not easy to start in to working out our differences, but we had numerous ‘walk-and-talk’ discussions when the kids were in the house and sit-down talks when they were out. But we never seemed to be able to resolve anything. Merely put issues out there, where they’d flail about between us before being reabsorbed to fester until our next chance to talk.

We finally got to the point where we realized we needed professional help, both as a couple and, for me, as an individual. Over the next few years we hit two marriage counselors and I hit three personal therapists. Despite (no…because of…) all that help, I came to the realization that this relationship was not recoverable. Still, she still held out hope of full reconciliation, which just made me feel more the shit.

I’m not going to point fingers, we both had a role in getting to that point. I had mentioned divorce to her, but never said, “I’m leaving.” The biggest reason for that? The then pre-teen kids. I’d heard both sides of the argument—“NEVER stay for the kids,” as well as, “ALWAYS stay for the kids.”

With that swirling in my head, as well as other issues I mentioned in prior blogs, I still made an appointment with a lawyer to discuss my options. I knew I had to leave sometime and, preferably for my own well being, soon.

Then came her diagnosis of chronic myelogenous leukemia.

Fucking. Crap.

Get Over Yourself

July 14, 2008

Maybe it’s just human nature. More likely the way I was raised by my Mom. Maybe I’m defective. But, whatever reason, I spend too much time thinking about what other people will think of me and my actions.

If I’m choosing to do something for my own benefit, why do I stop to think if others might see it as being selfish or impractical? Worse, why do I then change my mind based on my perception of what others will think? Back to that Worry Lobe issue, I guess.

For example, as mentioned recently, I am disenfranchised with my sister. So why do I still consider what her reaction will be when making important family decisions (still sneaking up on talking about those here)? I wonder if she has become, in my mind, a replacement for my departed Mom. Sort of like Mom’s representative on earth.

Or, foolishly, I worry that I will lose the respect and friendship of my friends and acquaintances. But, logically, would they *really* be my friends if an occasional thing I did for my own good didn’t meet their approval? Yes, for sure, I would expect a friend to point out if I’m doing something stupid… that’s what friends are for. But, likewise, if after considerate thought, I found… for my own happiness… I needed to do something despite their counsel, I would hope they would support me. Including patting me on the back and sweetly calling me a dumb shit when it turned out I was wrong and they were right. Again, maybe human nature, maybe just me… I don’t want to feel rejection (this has been greatly assuaged by those commenting on my recent, similar posts).

But something has to change. If I don’t feel right inside (and I don’t), that’s a sure sign something has to change.

So…Yeah, finally, after 51 years, I have come to resolution in my mind that my happiness should be based on what I feel, not what others may think of me. It’s hard to release that 51 year habit of worrying what others think. But very necessary. Necessary for my own happiness.

Yes, there will be pain based on my decisions, but it will be pain deserved by my choice… not pain based on my perception of what others may think PLUS the pain of lost or set aside choices. I’m thinking, when I learn to do so, pain of personal choice will be easier to handle… instead of letting others own it, but still taking responsibility for it, I will own it. All by myself. I will own the victories and defeats.

And I’m confident that it will be well worth the effort. It will take awhile to feel ‘good’ again, but worth it.

I shared some of this being ‘over concerned with others’ with a younger friend who agreed I need to worry less about others and she gave me advice belying her tender years—

“Get over yourself… this isn’t about everyone else.”


July 11, 2008

I’m sure most of you recognize that word (from and with thanks to a favorite movie, “The Princess Bride”)…

…it’s “why we awe gavered here today”.

A warning: this is random emptying of recesses of my brain not often, but in dire need of being, cleaned.  I’ve no clue what will actually come out… stream of consciousness… with only spelling and grammar editing of thought.  And, despite what may come out, I can assure you I am still a romantic.

Today, we’re in the midst of national discussions on whether or not same-sex mawwaige… uh… marriage should be allowed. 

I’m wondering, rather, whether a more important and needed focus is for mandatory counseling for anyone under the age of… say… 70 who are considering marriage. 

Okay, to be fair, most churches do just that.  Before a priest or pastor or rabbi or shaman or whatever will agree to marry someone in their church, they’ll sit down (sometimes in formal, lengthy classes) with the ‘applicants’.  They’ll ask inane questions like, “Are you sure you’re ready for this?” 

Unfortunately, whether there is church counseling or not, there are problems with having someone with little true life experience entering into such a huge life endeavor and having an honest answer to questions like that.  Yeah, before you start fussing at me, I know I’m oversimplifying this.

My observation is that most men have their perspectives clouded by oceans of testosterone.  They foresee untold years of easy access to exclusive nookie and home-cooked meals.  They convince themselves that any time his beloved gets cranky, either due to PMS or (more likely) due to some bonehead move the man has made, they can ‘fix’ it with either flowers, candy, or self-applied massive quantities of alcohol.

Most women, grasping fairy tale or romance novel notions of marriage, seek a devoted protector, provider, and sperm-donor to silence the body clock ticking achingly loud in their souls.  They convince themselves that any shortcomings a potential husband may have can be ‘fixed’ with time and patience, both of which they soon find are in amazingly short supply (especially if there are kids).

They, of course, are often sorely deluded.

I have no solutions, just observations based on the instant of this spew-fest, not just of my life, but those of family and friends around me. 

That all said, I must give fair allowance that there are (apparently) happy and fulfilling marriages out there.  I add the disclaimer ‘apparently’ because I have also seen marriages which carry a public face of success and joy which hides the true discord and sorrow behind private doors.  But, I freely admit that I’ve seen some very successful marriages as well. 

Does this mean I don’t believe in the ability to be happy with someone?  Absolutely not.  I’m just not sure that happiness can be achieved in the artificial construct of marriage.   Nor do I currently believe that there has to be a ‘one and only’ for me.  Still, I must reiterate my prior statement… I consider myself a romantic.  There is a private place in my soul that still wants (needs?) to believe.  But I feel compelled to admit to myself that I best look for a conglomeration of friendships, rather than a single, all-encompassing relationship.

This was written as a stepping stone to another post(s) on my own situation.  Yeah, this may all be my jaded perspective, but that’s why this is MY blog… Nyaah!  Like I said… stream of consciousness.

A Look Back

July 10, 2008

I know my life is not really a shambles compared to others. I am blessed in many ways. I know this is but a passing blur in my life, but I find myself staring at the wreckage of the myth that was my construct of happiness.
Looking back on the inevitable flotsam and jetsam of my life (and knowing we all have such), I find myself looking on many things – –
– The shattered shards of hearts, both mine and, sorrowfully, those of others I’ve none too gently handled.
– Discarded dreams, quietly crying at a desertion not of their doing or wishes.
– Desires left huddling homeless in the alleyways of my life because, though they were fulfilled, they were not fulfilling to me.

– Hopes, still alive, but orphaned by the cacophony of life’s war raging about them. Yet, they still patiently wait to seek their realization.

We all must occasionally glance back. To make sure we learn from what we see in order to go a better way forward… I first wrote ‘right way forward’, but that is an illusory lie best recognized and accepted now. We can only pursue better.  There is no ‘right’ way… we make our paths as we go.

And, I hope, that I can reach back to recradle some of those things… to make apologies or come to closure or to refashion or to reinvigorate. There can be a better life. There will be.
As with most renewals, it will be painful. And here’s to fresh hope, dreams, and desires for that future.  Mine and yours…



July 4, 2008

She whispered silkily in my ear, “Relax. You’re safe here.”

“Yes, I can be safe here. Relax,” my mind nodded agreement.

Yet my muscles tightened; my breath shortened.

My mind betrayed, I walked out, never to return.

. . . . .