Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Waaaaay too long. Don't read. TL/DR

When I think of all of the blog posts I've had rattling around in my head lately, I am sorry that I haven't had more time to write since last week. But I can't worry about those lost posts now-- just have to move forward.

It's been hectic. I have had some big deadlines-- so much so that I came into work Saturday afternoon for 4 hours and then stayed late on Monday evening. I worked Sunday too, but that was different work. Then, for Tuesday, I had deadlines on top of my deadlines, but now it has slowed down somewhat (thank goodness). This morning, my students reminded me that we don't have class on Friday because of the Fall Break. Phew! Just gives me some extra time to think and prepare, you know?

Lately, (sorry, interrupted by a phone call from my mom. For the second time today, she can't get her TV remote to change the channels. I suggested that the remote may need new batteries, and told her I would try to stop by on my lunch hour today to change them. As we have learned, the TV working is a Big Deal.) I have been falling asleep on the couch before 9 p.m. It makes getting up and going to work early in the morning easier, sure, but I'm starting to feel like I am existing rather than living. Is it the mental challenges of three jobs that are so completely different that is tiring me? Because I do work a little more than a 40-hour work week, particularly with Sundays, but that doesn't seem to be it. Even now, a little after noon, I am yawning my head off. (I am drinking water.) And I slept from 8:50 p.m. til 6:00 a.m. That is plenty of sleep. So, it's probably stress, but I don't know what to do to alleviate it. I hope this straightens itself out in December when my class is done and I'm back to just the two jobs.

Heather is home now (yay!), but this week I'm worried about my mom. Last week, poor thing, she had to have a pelvic exam to try to determine what a mass in her abdomen could be. When the doctor palpates, there is something there. He couldn't really get a handle on it through her exam, though, so tomorrow we go to the hospital for a CT scan or a sonogram-- I'm not really sure which. This morning the dr's nurse called to let me know that they did an overnight oximetry test on her to see if lack of oxygen could be contributing to her swelling-- nope, came back within normal parameters. But my mom is really swollen. Her legs are swollen, her stomach is swollen, her neck is really swollen. The problem with not being able to identify the cause of the swelling (we have checked thyroid, heart, lungs, sodium levels, kidneys) is not only that we can't find her any relief for it, but also that the cause might be more sinister than we had previously guessed. The mass in her abdomen could be nothing. It could be fibroids. But the swelling leads me to wonder whether it is tumors that are weeping. I've expressed these fears to the doctor, and he hasn't dismissed them. It could be nothing. It could be something. And I can't really do much about it either way until I know what's up (and probably not then either). When my father's cancer started spreading, the tumors wept until he was so swollen that we measured his abdomen to be 52 to 56 inches. Nurses would have to use a large needle to draw off some of the fluid, but that only makes your body try to replace it faster, so there are drawbacks. The entire process is extremely taxing on the body. There is a pill you can take to help with the swelling, and my dad was on it-- Lasik or something similar-- but my mom's sodium levels are too low for her to take it. Which also means that it isn't too much salt in her diet causing the swelling.

So, a hospital visit tomorrow morning means I had to find someone to take my shift at Department Store tomorrow morning: Any time off work is wages lost. Thanks, America!

None of this is what I want to be thinking/writing about, but all of the thoughts that have been rattling around in my head since last week are scattered like leaves-- fleeting thoughts about my mom's birthday last week, taking her out to dinner with the kids and feeling guilty that we can do that when I've been writing so much about poverty, having a lot of extra visitors last week, not having enough down time, watching television, the importance of having other narratives in my head, other stories than my own. I used to get those narratives from reading novels, but now I just fall asleep reading, so I turned to television, and now I'm falling asleep while watching, so the narratives just end up being lists of what I need to do when.
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The batteries have been successfully changed, and Pat's remote is up and running once more. Not only that, but I also laid out all of her pills for the week and called in her refills. I remembered to take the pork out of the freezer for supper tonight. This morning was almost a little catastrophe though. Christian was out of cereal. (Christian has diabetes and had already had a shot of insulin, so skipping a meal is not an option-- not that I'd advocate that for teens anyway, but in a pinch, another healthy teen could make it on a plum and a couple of glasses of milk. I could have grabbed McDonald's for him on the way to school except that the only thing he likes from their breakfast menu is the hashbrowns.) I suggested bread and peanut butter, but we were out of bread.

[Note: We were out because yesterday at lunchtime, there was a half loaf of bread, and I just didn't notice that we were out of cereal-- thankfully, this instance is not about poverty. It's about the kids are going to be with their dad for the next four days or so, so I was being lazy about going to the grocery store.]

I was debating whether to try to make him some pancakes or slap some peanut butter on a tortilla when I found some yogurts I'd bought for my lunches. I handed him two yogurts and a plum. That plus two glasses of milk (and maybe a spoonful of peanut butter) give him enough carbohydrates to get him through to his morning snack, though now I am wondering whether he is skipping that snack ... Need to ask him about that.

I was jittery over my lunch hour today until I got to my mom's. I can't remember the last time I've been this anxious about a test she is having done. I was trying to figure out whether it was too much caffeine, but I had a strong sense of foreboding. The strong sense that I was about to find out something, hear something, get a phone call, something in the mail, learn something or get an unexpected visit from someone I know. I couldn't pinpoint it. So, I drove over to my mom's and etc. Then I ran downstairs to where the tenants of her apartments were having a Halloween Party (put on by the management). They were having some kind of drawing for prizes, so I wove my way through tables and chairs to my mom, kissed her on the forehead, told her the remote was working and that the pills were laid out, that I love her, and I'll see her later. It's kind of rare that she is an activity she likes there (according to her) that I didn't want to interrupt her party-- if I had told her I was there before I took care of the batteries, she would have left her party to come upstairs, and I would have felt bad about that. It's such a balance of independence and nurturing-- how much of each is too much? Often, Pat seems to think that her problems outweigh the needs of everyone else in the world. She seemed genuinely surprised and disappointed both times she called me at work about her remote control. She really seems to think that I should be able to just run over immediately and take care of it. Now, to be fair, I could probably leave one job that's pretty flexible to run over there and change some batteries. But the other two jobs do not offer that option, so I do not offer it as an option for any of them, because how am I supposed to explain that inconsistency when she can't remember most days that I am at work at all? None of this is urgent-- but it is like a little daily irritant that takes up energy and time. I spend a lot of time trying to make up to her for her boredom by taking her out for rides, calling her extra, apologizing, taking her to dinner, hanging out at her place watching tv, or bringing her over to my house. But this is the problem: Because of her memory problems, sometimes she will not remember that last night we went out for dinner. Her boredom and loneliness are fresh to her every day. So, even though I do my best to keep it at bay, I can't stop those twin sisters of depression from stopping by and knitting her into their sticky web. I feel like I am on a treadmill, but it's going so fast that I'll just injure myself if I try to get off.

I have explained these things to Sam at times. Sam has more wisdom than I do. He shakes his head, he says, "Bat, Bat, Bat, you are going to kill yourself with empathy. You have got to stop it. You are just hurting yourself. You need to toughen up."

He's right. But what he doesn't know is that if I don't keep my receptacles open, if I don't retain my empathy, I will become so embittered that I won't recognize myself. [He actually does know this-- I was just using that as a narrative device so I could tell you, the audience.] [I need to stop teaching freshman writing classes.] I have enough little pity parties for and by myself already, so I'm more than happy to jump into someone else's misery for a little while if it helps me to help them better. But Sam's right. It's damaging. And this is why I don't teach junior high special ed [anymore]. This is why I am not a counselor, therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, nurse, or god help us, social worker, nursing home worker, hospice worker, or any of the other countless professions that you might think an empath would be drawn to. Those professions would eat me alive.

I am not trying to make myself out to be some kind of mystical empath, like Kes or Deanna, but I do have a strong nurturing streak. And it is also safe to say that at times, it has damaged me. Hopefully not more than the good it has done, though. 
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Unrelated: I need to figure out why my health insurance has gone up about $100 a month for the past few months (!!!) and start shopping for new health insurance. I know nothing about Obama Care and hid from the websites because at the time, my health insurance was reasonably priced. I haven't had any big health claims-- something is hinky.

Also unrelated: Today is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day, and I have many friends who are impacted every single day by the grief of this loss. Much love to you all.

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