Thursday, October 22, 2015

And another one

October has always been an odd month for me; I’ve had some of the best things in my life happen in October (married Kent for example) and some not so good (flooded in Boston). Hands down for worst is my son getting diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

This week on FaceBook, a friend of mine posted something about her car and boom—I remembered that day in October.

My son was 12 and just entering those awkward teen years. He’d grown more modest and so always wore a baggy T-shirt and baggy shorts; that’s why I hadn’t noticed his weight loss. Well I did notice it but I didn’t realize he’d lost 20 pounds. After all, he was also growing like a weed so between the baggy clothes and his increased height, it was no wonder he looked thinner.

The night before, he’d had his best friend spend the night. They pigged out on candy and soda (what can I say? Sometimes I was a nice mom!), but he woke up in the middle of the night throwing up. And that’s when I realized that he had lost so much weight—I was helping him in the bathroom and he wasn’t wearing anything but his tighty whiteys. You could count his ribs on the front and the back, he was so thin. I was appalled, so the next morning I called and got a late afternoon appointment that day with his doctor.

Once we got there—and I don’t know how I knew this with certainty, maybe I’d finally pieced together his symptoms—but I knew what the doctor was going to say even before he came back with a glucometer to check my son’s glucose level (which was 456, I’ll probably never forget that number).  He was sick enough that we needed to go to a hospital right away, and we agreed that Children’s Mercy in Kansas City was the best place for him to go, rather than Lawrence Memorial (we lived in Lawrence). Because of how high his blood sugar was, he needed to go by ambulance and that meant I would need to follow by car.

But I didn’t have any cash, my husband at the time was out of town on business and my car was out of gas. I reached out to my friend, the one I mentioned earlier, and she came by while I was still at the doctor’s office, and put gas in my car. Only I drove a Honda Civic and she drove some great big honking van that had like a 30 gallon gas tank and she overfilled my car by a lot. She told me later that she couldn’t believe the car was full already because she’d only put like eight gallons in there!

My friend had also reached out to some of our other friends who swung into action. One came and got my younger son, another brought me some cash so I could get something to eat at the hospital. That cash ended up being hilariously unusable. He only had a $100 bill, which obviously couldn’t be used in any vending machines and nothing else was open so for a while I felt rich if hungry.

But yeah, October is a mixed bag for me.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A random memory

I was slicing strawberries this morning for my normal breakfast—sliced strawberries with a few dollops of Fage yogurt and a half cup of granola sprinkled on top—when out of the blue I remembered a time when I found strawberries gross.

I was 18, it was the spring of my senior year in high school right before Prom, and I had a part time job in a local grocery store. I was hired as a cashier but they needed help in the produce department so that’s where I was scheduled to work. And it was strawberry season, so I had to get the strawberries out and put in the display cases for people to bag up. This was before the ubiquitous packaging you see now; people scooped berries into a plastic produce bag and bought them by the pound. Not only did I need to keep the display cases appropriately full, I also had to pick out the bad ones and dispose of them. It was a messy, messy job and I had sticky pieces of strawberries and strawberry juice all over my hands and up to my elbows.

I was working on a Friday night, and had a cough and didn’t feel well—but I stayed at work and finished out my shift. The next morning I woke up with a fever and a cough and things just went downhill from there. My dad checked me out, told me to take Tylenol and so that’s how it went on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Tuesday I could hear myself wheeze so I told my folks. Dad had me get a chest x-ray, and the radiologist told my mom that Dad should put me on a stronger antibiotic because I had pneumonia in one of my lungs.

Fortunately it wasn’t a bad case—just one lung and not a lot of it but boy if that’s what a mild case of pneumonia is, I don’t ever want to get a bad case. I missed the full week of school and begged—BEGGED—to go to my prom that next Saturday (which was my first day out of bed). My mom said I could go but I had to be home by 10. I bargained to stay out til 11 and in fact was home in bed by 9. I coughed for weeks, missed the big choir trip that year and just generally felt wretched for longer than I ever would have thought.

And for some reason, I associated the smell of strawberries with all that. I didn’t eat them for a couple of years although I’m over that aversion now. But I remember very well how awful pneumonia was, and didn’t hesitate for a second to get the pneumonia vaccine a couple of years ago.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Do you hear what I hear?

I thought you might be interested in what it’s been like with my new bionic part. I got it not quite three weeks ago (posted about it here); I went in a week later for adjustments. I asked for the highs to be dropped a bit and the lows boosted, which my audiologist did—then off to work I went.

Yeouch. It was too much, and sounded wrong so I called him a couple of hours later and asked if there were any way I could get in the next day because I knew I couldn’t last two weeks until the next appointment. He squeezed me in, and we agreed to reset all the levels to what he’d originally programmed. He said that it can take a while for the brain to relearn how to process the information coming in that ear.

Today was the second adjustment visit. I told him I wasn’t sure if my brain had adjusted or if I was having problems because this is peak (PEAK) allergy season for me, which means my ears are clogged, or what. But I couldn’t hear as well. This time he didn’t change the low to high frequency program, but instead boosted it all just slightly.

Right now this seems to be working well. I’m going to be in meetings off and on this week so I’ll have more chances to hear in different circumstances. I haven’t yet turned the volume up (I have three levels of volume control), so I may give that a try too. Overall, though, I’m encouraged and I know it’s helping.

Friday, October 2, 2015

My secret fear

Do you listen to Storycorps? I don’t always—partly because I’m usually not near my desk when it plays (I listen online) and also the stories are emotionally draining.

I did hear today’s story (which was emotionally draining) and this story more than most just smacked me in the gut.

You should go listen to it now.

And here’s why it smacked me so hard. Angela says that she was afraid of what her blood line held—to the point that she’d told a trauma specialist that she would get sterilized before passing down whatever madness might lie in her genes.

You see, she named my secret fear. My father can best be described as a predator. It’s easy to play armchair psychiatrist and label him a sociopath or amoral; based on his actions throughout his life, those labels may be accurate. He cut a wide swath of destruction everywhere he went—think of him as a category 3 or higher hurricane. No, he never killed anyone but you don’t have to commit murder to leave someone crippled. Damage comes in many forms.

I had already had my two children by the time I fully realized how evil he was (I’m not sure evil is the right word but I can’t think of another that works better). So the worry for me was twofold—did his madness lie in me? Would I commit the same kinds of damage he did on my own children? And worse, had I passed this along in my bloodline?

I have two brothers who have the same father as I do. I don’t know if they share my concerns, if they watch themselves and their children, if they think, as I used to, that someone like me who has half her bloodline from such horribleness shouldn’t even be here.

I don’t think there’s a happy ending here. I’ll always be watchful in myself, I’ll always have that fear for my children, and their children. Someone like my father isn’t made, I think they’re born that way. I hope the way he was was a fluke, an aberration and not something genetic. I hope that with all my heart.