Here goes Nothing

I have nine things on my To Do list for this weekend, and, certainly, an endless number of things that belong on that list, but somehow didn’t make it there.  And, yet.  And, yet I have accomplished exactly one of those things listed.  The day is young and all that, but I don’t actually see those statistics improving.  It used to be that if I made a list for myself I checked those tasks off with the efficiency of a seagull swooping in to steal potato chips at the beach.  I am a professional list-maker, and those printed lines energize me to finish all of the things.  But, lately, I’m completely unmotivated, and I carry lists over from day to day watching them get longer and longer.  This week in particular has been challenging–filled with doctor’s appointments, work, kid schedule juggling, sibling schedule juggling, husband schedule juggling, phone calls, lacrosse games, too much take-out eating, more doctor’s appointments, and worry.

The worry is pre-mature.  I know this to be true, but I can’t help it; I have become my mother.

I’m experiencing a couple of health issues.  Most accurately, to be quite honest, I’ve been experiencing a health issue for well over a year, but it has not been well defined, and that lack of definition coupled with fear have prevented me from talking to anyone besides my husband about it, and now, it appears, there is a second concern.

Depending on who you talk to, I have been diagnosed with Type II diabetes.  My A1C is apparently confusing (My keyboard is dripping with sarcasm as I type that since the AMA is very clear about this, and it’s a number on a scale of numbers, how confusing can it be?) and the many different interpretations of my number have slowed this diagnosis, but I am prepared to call a spade a spade.  I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this diagnosis even though I have “known” in my heart for a while that it is the only explanation for my symptoms.

It started with a tingling sensation in my feet well over a year ago, possible a year and a half since it took a while to address it medically.  You know how it can be sometimes, you feel something, but you don’t necessarily attribute it to anything until it grows.  My feet, actually just my left foot in the beginning, began to tingle at night.  Then both feet began to go numb, then burn, then, occasionally stab with pain.  When I first brought this to my doctor she sent me to a podiatrist who examined my feet and declared me perfectly fine. My A1C at that point was “a little high, but not in diabetic range.”

But, the foot pain continued to increase.  Diabetic Neuropathy was discussed, but, I was told, that doesn’t typically show up until you have had diabetes for a quite some time.  And, my A1C was not in line with the amount of pain I was experiencing.  I was sent to a neurologist who did some testing and put me on gabapentin for the pain and suggested that I go back to my PCP to be put on Metformin.  My PCP did prescribe the Metformin, but it made me horribly ill, so she took me off of it, but did not replace it with anything.

For the last year and a half, my fabulous husband has rubbed my feet every single night. The gabapentin helps, but it does not completely relieve the pain, so he rubs my feet, which also helps, but does not completely relieve the pain.  I take the pills, he rubs my feet, and I race to bed to try and get to sleep before the pain gets too bad.  I wake up around two and take more pills.  Sometimes I cry.  Sometime we to to the ER, but they don’t offer anything except Percocet which doesn’t help the actual pain, but does put me to sleep.

My appointment with the neurologist on Monday turned into three appointments this week.

  • Monday was an appointment for a gabapentin refill.  I knew as we were talking and he kept doing more testing: reflexes (strange reflexes I didn’t even know were reflexes), walking in a straight line, etc, that the appointment had turned and was no longer routine.  He said my reflexes were brisk, and he noticed my big toe was behaving in an “alarming” manner.  He asked if I had any injuries to my neck.  As the discussion continued we realized I also have weakness in my legs, and occasional difficulty pulling words out of my brain.
  • Wednesday I had an MRI of my neck.  I have not heard results yet, but the neurologist had stated that if that turned out okay he wants to do another MRI of my brain.  I’m no fool; I know what he is thinking,
  • Friday I saw my PCP, who still believes my A1C indicates control, but, since the neurologist wants my sugar to be addressed immediately and aggressively, and since I am unable to tolerate metformin, she put me on victoza.

It’s all a little overwhelming.  And, I know I have to talk to my siblings about it, but I need all of the information first.  I just want to document it from here on out because the history is so long that I don’t want to forget any more.


Grief is weird

I’m learning how to navigate the world parentless.  It’s not something I would choose, or that anyone would choose, obviously, but here I am in a position that only a little over a year ago seemed impossible to imagine.

And, I’m stuck in a bizarro world of loss.

When my mother passed away there was immeasurable grief, and I miss her daily, often times moment by moment, or second by second.  They claim time heals, but that’s crap; time is simply time, and this missing her very second remains true today, a little more than a year after her death.  I’m grieving her as best I can, the only way I know how, and though it is not picture perfect, and possibly not the way someone else may approach it, it is working for me.  Or, it was.  Grief is painful and it sucks, but I was allowing it to come, and I felt okay about that.

Conversely, since my father has passed away, I feel as though I haven’t properly grieved him individually.  I haven’t been able to grieve the loss of my father the way I truly need to, the way he deserves, because, in that second that he passed, that split second in which time shattered and the entire world was rocked to it’s preverbal core, I went from grieving my mother to grieving my parents, and the personal grief for my father was skipped over.

I can’t grieve my father properly because then, at least it feels like to me, I am forgetting to grieve my mother.  And, if I am grieving my mother it feels like I am not being fair to my father.  It’s weird.  I know this.  But, it’s also the current quick sand of emotion I am sinking in, and, mostly, I just miss my parents.

These Days

Steve is working on the bathroom remodel; there’s crashing and banging and sawing and drilling and hammering and swearing filling the house.  Hayden is doing her nails and otherwise prepping for homecoming while her music volume constantly increases to cover the crashing and banging filling the house.  Anna is drawing a “Welcome October” picture for me in my bullet journal.  I told her a simple sketch would be sufficient, but she is an artist, and nothing for her is ever sufficient; it must be perfect.  And, I am researching a new book idea.  There are two dogs at my feet; one because she is always at my feet when I am in my office, and the other because she is terrified by the banging and crashing filling the house.  It’s raining.  That will ruin the homecoming pictures.  Otherwise, it’s a pretty perfect Saturday in the fall.  There’s spaghetti sauce in the crock pot, simmering away, filling the house.

Steve and I just celebrated our ninetieth wedding anniversary, and I wonder, so often, how it is that we got here, to this place, these weekends, that I so dearly love.  Sometimes it feels like such a long ride, and other times I think we are still at the beginning.  We are the among the lucky ones, I know this.  We’ve had plenty of bumps and bruises along this journey, we’ve suffered some great losses, but we have never faltered, we have never doubted our love for one another.  Many of our friends have divorced or almost divorced, a few of those divorces quite shocking, and each time we wonder how it is that a marriage can get to that point, each time we are so thankful that we don’t know the answer.

I know I sound a little, or maybe even a lot, self-righteous.  But, I truly know that our success so far has as much to do with luck as it does with our hard work.  I know that it could all fall apart tomorrow, that some unforeseen event could shake us, some minute shift in the universe could rock us to our core.  I know how blessed we are to have these moments, this family, these Saturdays.  I take none of it for granted, and I do, I honestly do, wonder how we got her so relatively unscathed.

Because these days?

These days are the days that sustain me.  These little days with my little family.  I am such a lucky woman.






A Joyful Noise

So, this week is Spirit Week at the high school; five days of dress up and mayhem leading up to Homecoming on Saturday.  Tuesday was holiday day, and the Seniors dressed for New Years Eve, and ran throughout the building at 12:00 in the afternoon blowing noise makers and yelling, “Happy New Year.”  This perk of being a Senior is apparently quit startling to some of the underclassmen, freshmen especially, but is a tradition everyone in the know greatly anticipates and joyously awaits.

It got me thinking.

Why can’t we be so joyful about every milestone in our lives?  Forget sweating the small stuff…why don’t we celebrate with complete abandon?  I want to run through the halls of my home and scream and praise my family for everything we do!  Made the volleyball team?  Yay, you!  Suffered through the pain of getting your braces tightened?  Hip hip hooray!  Got an A on that AP Psych test you studied for all week?  That’s awesome!  Congratulations!

Okay, sure, I already do that, I already praise those things each day, but I’m talking bigger and better.  I want my kids to more than hear our praise, I want them to understand that every single day is a gift, and that they should be proud of what they accomplish in that day, in the manner in which they celebrate that gift.  There’s too much stress in the world.  I want them to focus on the goodness they see and they create.

And, I want them to do it with noise makers.


At least there will be time for coffee

So, um, some things have happened since I last posted.

  • I started that job, and even though I was underpaid, I felt as though I was getting some great job experience.  I loved the people I was working with, and enjoyed going to work every day. It was part-time, which we hadn’t really considered, but it was working out perfectly with the girl’s schedules.
  • Mother’s Day came and my family surprised me with an overnight trip to Maine–my happy place.  We stayed in the same motel that Steve and I stayed in the weekend he proposed to me on the beach.  The weather was completely uncooperative, rainy and windy and damp and chilly, but we managed to have a great time anyway.
  • While we were in Maine, I received a new job offer for much more money and stability.  My experience level was not exactly equal to that of the job expectancy, but the doc told me he was happy to train me, and that he didn’t expect me to learn everything or feel comfortable in the position for about a month.
  • Because the new doc was in a bind to fill the position, I agreed to leave my part-time job without giving them the customary notice.  I was uncomfortable with this, but did it because the new position was such an advancement for my career, and not being available to start immediately was a deal breaker.
  • The part-time boss could not have been more gracious or understanding, and wished me what felt like a very sincere “best of luck.”
  • That was a week ago.
  • Today, new full-time boss fired me because of my lack of experience.  Which he was completely aware of from the go.
  • WTF?
  • He told me he loved my work ethic, my quick learning ability, and my “tiger spirit” but, he felt the office required someone more experienced.  When I reminded him that he had expressed the opinion that it would take a month he said he had underestimated the ability of the rest of the staff to compensate while I was training.
  • Again, WTF?

Bottom line, I went from no job, to two jobs, to no job, in the span of three weeks.  I’m feeling a little sucker punched, a little bruised and a little shy at the moment.

Tomorrow is another day

When we were first pregnant, we decided that I would stay home with the children.  Our checking and savings accounts took a hit, but we were lucky enough to be able to accomplish that goal for sixteen years.  Sixteen fabulous, no regret years.  I wouldn’t change a minute.  I loved being home with my girls.

Now the girls are both teens and old enough to be self-sufficient for a couple of hours after school, and, with the loss of elementary school volunteerism a couple of years ago, I am bored silly at home all day.  I need a job because we are looking down the barrel of college applications and I want to contribute financially to the household, but mostly I need a job because I need a reason to get up and dressed every morning.  I need a job because it is time.

My English degree qualifies me for pretty much nothing except substitute teaching (which is great, but horribly inconsistent) or Poet in Residence here at Chez Smith.  I didn’t want to do the retail/minimum wage route.  I’ve done that, plenty of that, and I wanted to do something more career oriented.  When asked at parties what I do, I wanted to be able to call myself something professional; I wanted letters after my name.

So, we made a plan.  We decided that we would hold off my working for one more year while I went back to school to earn a certification in Medical Billing and Coding.  Okay, it wasn’t exactly that well defined or that simple, but that was the ultimate goal: one year (one gigantic student loan) and a CPC certification.

My family made sacrifices and I worked hard in school.  It was not nearly as easy in my late forties as it was in my early twenties, and there were times I felt unable to continue.  There were plenty of days I have never felt more stupid in my entire life; there were lots of tears, but, always, every single time, my family rallied around me, boosted my spirits, and carried me through.

I finished school in December and I have had one job interview.  One.  One interview that actually went quite well, but I didn’t get the job, so how well could it really have gone?  I have a brand new spiffy resume that I send out (almost) daily and the school sends my resume as well;  I can’t even get an interview.  This entire job search is so depressing, so demeaning, and I find myself taking every rejection, every ignored application, personally.  I foolishly thought I would complete school, ace the CPC exam, and fall into a fabulous coding position immediately.  I did my part.  I got the initials after my name.  Where is my payoff?

I’m not the only one having an issue finding a job, but that is of little comfort.  There simply are not as many positions out there as we were lead to believe in school.  Some days I try to be all Zen about it and tell myself that everything happens for a reason and I will find the perfect job when the timing is right.  Other times I want to punch that zen part of me in her fat zen face.  Today is a punching day.

Tomorrow is interview number two.  Two is a good number, right?

Thoughts About Prom that Probably Deserve Separate Posts

My junior prom dress was purchased in Florida while on vacation visiting my Grandma Dutton.  It was a pale pink, Southern number with sleeves I wore off the shoulder and a hoop skirt.  It had a bow in the back and little bows all around the bottom.  It was the most gorgeous dress I had ever seen.  It was 1984 perfection, and I had to have it.  I couldn’t begin to tell you what was spent on that dress; only that it was, at the time, a boatload of money.  And, since shoes, a shawl, pearls-both necklace and earrings, and a hoop to go under the skirt of the dress were also purchased, I suspect my grandmother helped to pay for it all.

At my grandmother’s insistence, I paraded that dress all around the retirement community she lived in, and I remember all of the little old ladies squealing with delight at the sight of me.  The phone tree was a buzzing that day.

The dress was temporarily lost with the rest of our luggage on our flight home from vacation, but it made it’s way back to me in time to accompany my poofy hair and my horrible vacation tan lines while standing proudly next to my terrified date.


A few weeks ago, over Easter, I was shocked to discover that my parents still had the dress stored in the same basement closet where our cat had kittens when we were kids.  I pulled the dress out enthusiastically, at half past midnight, from where it was stashed between letterman jackets and cross country skis, with Hayden at my elbow, and demanded she try it on.

She gasped when I handed her the hoop for underneath.  She tried her best not to bust out laughing, but she couldn’t help it, she’d never imagined such a thing let alone been asked to try it on.  By her nostalgia crazed mother.  In the literal middle of the night.

The dress fit her.  Almost perfectly.


It was a completely surreal moment.  I wish two things here: 1) that either of these photos had a decent background, and 2) that I had photographed her from the side because seeing my baby in that dress, that full circle moment, caused two distinct thoughts/emotions/epiphanies within me:

  1. My baaybee is wearing my prom dress.  *sob*  Blah, blah, blah…
  2. Holy cats!  I was skinny in high school.


Prom is a much bigger deal now than it was when I was in high school.  Of course, there has always been pressure on the girls to find the perfect dress.  But, now, there is tremendous pressure on the boys to create the perfect promposal.

Prom. Posal.

Gone are the days of walking up to the girl you like in a study hall or the cafeteria and simply asking her to accompany you to the prom.  No longer good enough.  Now, the boy must propose a date to the prom.  And, that’s not all.  Nope.  It has to be a grand gesture; or, at the very least, it must be unique, it can’t be repeated, copied, or in any manner related to any other couple’s promposal.


Hayden and a group of friends had planned to attend prom together, sans boys, and have fun dancing the night away.  Slowly, but surely, those friends began to receive their promposals, and the group was diminishing rapidly.  She was playing it cool, but I could tell that she was getting anxious, perhaps wondering if she was going to be the only one remaining, perhaps frustrated that the friends were changing the plan.

And, then this happened:IMG_2450

Many, if not most, promposals happen at school in front of crowds.  This would have horrified my Hayden.  Instead, he chose the weekend under the guise of hanging out with friends.  Perfect.

His name is Justin.  He was waiting for her when they pulled up.  He gave her flowers-roses and sunflowers, her favorites-and he defaced his father’s truck in order to ask her to the prom.

She’s no longer playing it cool; it’s exactly what she wanted all along.