Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Choose joy?

We are five minutes out of St. Cloud on Highway 15, at a stop light I contort my torso to reach back to put the oximeter probe on Dermot's tiny index finger. He sounds like an old fashioned coffee percolator...O2 78, yikes.

"Dermot, you have to cough for me buddy!" no response.

I'm on the highway, looking for the next turn off. One more mile, no coughs, the oximeter is beeping double time now. Finally, I turn off the highway and into the Walmart parking lot in Sartell. I keep the car running because of the heat, get out and enter through the sliding van door to the back.

I move around Cookie who is laying dutifully on her bed and reach for the deep suction catheter in his supply bag. Got it. Still panic beeping. I carefully thread the long, thin plastic tubing down Dermot's mouth and turn the suction machine on. Sucking, sucking, a moment of breath holding and up comes a giant glob of mucus all over his bib. That's what he needed. O2 level? 89. Really? Still something in there, I try again, thread the tube down his throat, this time he's more stubborn about coughing, the rest is further down in his lungs and will take some work to get it out. I'm sucking, he's struggling, then after a full minute, success with another giant blob of egg white consistency comes up, I wait a couple seconds, O2 is rising, 92, 94, 95.

Why are you so congested? What have I forgotten to do? Nebs are on time, atropine drops too. Wait, he's due for a new Scopolamine patch. I contort my body once again, climbing over my very comfortable Weimaraner who's taking up the entire back seat of the van, to get to the bin where his meds are. I search for the patches, got it. I apply a fresh patch, it doesn't stick, why isn't it sticking!!!? Fuck it, I get another one, (conscious of the fact that it will screw up his monthly prescription) this one sticks...O2 91.

Geez. Let me think. Okay we have an hour to go until we get to the cabin. I tap the fresh oxygen tank hanging from Dermot's wheelchair and set it to one liter. Carefully wrap the nasal cannula in his nostrils. That should do the trick.

Okay, I think I'm ready to get back on the road, except Dermot's shirt and bib are sopping wet. I tap on my 16 year old's shoulder who has been purposefully ignoring the current crisis by watching Gangs Of New York on his phone and his air-pods. Owen, I need to borrow one of your t-shirts for Dermot, He's all wet. Rolls his eyes, grabs a shirt out of his bag and hands it to me fully aware that it will get drenched in drool and mucus.

Okay, I'm back on the road...

Everyone in the car seems to be doing well. I seem to be doing well. I'm proud that I once again, conquered another crisis.

But as I drive I feel my breath getting shorter, my rib cage constricting and I am requiring multiple heavy sighs to stay calm. I'm pretty sure I'm good. I can handle this. I can get to the cabin.

Dermot is comfortably resting now, along with the dogs. Owen is struggling with how to view his Scorcese film while battling the bright sunshine coming through every window in the van...

Almost there. I realize, I'm holding my breath. Just get to the cabin.

We arrive, the dogs jump out with excitement, Owen peels himself from the passenger seat and I emerge immediately looking for my husband to take over. Where is he? My father-in-law greets us, but no one else. Where's Joe? I get Dermot into the cabin, my relatives are in their own states of relaxation. "Where's Joe?' I immediately ask. "out back working on the deck" my sister-in-law answers. My mother-in-law peppers me with questions about dinner and if she's made enough and what else should she do. I almost can't answer her because its taking all that I have to keep it together.

Joe comes out from the back, "Hi honey, How was the drive?" "Shitty" I reply. "What do you need from me?" "Take over, I need a quick break".

I run-walk into my room, close the door, lean my back up against the wall and slide down. Sitting for a moment in stunned silence, then it comes. The heavy uncontrollable breathing and the tears. The gut wrenching pain in my chest. I cry and cry. Ryan enters to say hi, I shoe him away. I cry a little more, Joe enters. "You okay?" "I am now, I been holding all that in for way too long". 

Acknowledging pain and traumatic events is crucial.
I had been "Choosing Joy" for so long, I forgot that feelings need to be felt. Sure, joy is great and the idea of choosing it sounds swell, but my body does not allow me to not feel my feelings for too long before it blows. So the idea of positive thinking, and choosing our feelings might be a clever marketing ploy to sell plaques and notepads.

I think "Feel your feelings" might be a more productive meme.

All of us are dealing with something and all of us have feelings about it. But not all of us think its okay to feel the way we do.

Afraid? Choose Joy! Angry? Choose Joy! Sad? Choose joy! Lonely? Choose Joy!

Now, don't you feel better? I didn't think so.

Afraid? Tell someone. Angry? Talk about it. Sad? Ask for a hug. Lonely? Call a friend.

Happy? Awesome, choose joy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

A snapshot of inside my head.

Covid 19
racism is alive and well
no school
stay at home
save money
gaining weight
my son has no friends
my other son has to stay home for the rest of the year
i am constantly trying to find my purpose
I miss my mom
I miss my friends
I miss places
I grieve for my former life
I am not alone, but knowing that doesn't make it better
Society is in upheaval
people are dying
my oldest son is never home
I'm afraid most days
I just started online shopping again
I just stopped weighing myself everyday
I need a fucking haircut
its really hot outside today
I'm trying to plan my tasks for the day and i never know where to begin
my youngest is always on his screens
he screams at me when I tell him to do his chores around the house
he is really unhappy
a little bit of laundry,
then i jump to the dishes
I should really walk the dogs
I should really make Ryan walk the dogs
maybe I should take them to the dog park
is it too hot for the dog park?
sorry the doorbell rang, yep its too hot
he screamed at me again, at least I got him on his bike
calling his friend's mom to get an answer
why won't he play with his old friends?
talked to my husband, I feel a little bit better
we are all in this together!

Thursday, January 23, 2020


Lipstick might be the cure right now.

My mother always says: "let me put some lipstick on so I don't look dead." I remember visiting my grandma in the hospital when she was actually dying and she always had lipstick on.

So acting as if might be the solution right now. I've been angry since I drove home from Dermot's last doctor's appointment seven days ago.

His nurse was convinced there was something wrong with him, I was not. At the time I thought I was just being selfish because the thought of going back to the same building where we had been last week and the week prior for and eleven day stay made my skin crawl. AND, I told myself that I would trust the nurses perspective more, so we were off to the doctor for a mysterious rash/swelling foot thingy. Appointment was at 10 am, which meant I'd miss both opportunities to workout at my new favorite gym. Please let me explain that moving my body a lot everyday  is essential to my mental health. We were there until 11:40 with two doctors saying nothing was wrong, a nurse asking way too many "routine questions" and "just a quick visit from the social worker" and then, I immediately had to go to a two hour meeting at the school district and sit STILL.

Trapped is how I felt. Being in two places where no progress is made, my time was not my own and my body was screaming to get out was not my idea of a good day.

The interesting part to all of this is how I processed this for the next few days. Feelings came out. Tears were shed, sweat was earned from my late night workout sessions. I turned into a rebellious teenager. I cracked my taillight of my Jeep backing into the trash cans, I ate a shitload of chocolate (Heath Bars are my current favorite) I played copious amounts of gangster rap really loud in the house and didn't do my laundry for days. Why? Because its all I could do.

I can't run away and stay out all night drinking at my boyfriend's house, I can't call in sick to my job at Dayton's and get drunk at my friend's mom's house, I can't skip school and sleep all day either. But all of those things sounded SO much better than listening to my son's regular pediatrician explain things to me that I ALREADY KNOW FROM 13 YEARS OF MY SPECIAL NEEDS MOM CAREER!  Ibuprofen is bad for your kidneys? No shit Sherlock. The parking ramp is in the second floor? Are you fucking kidding me right now? The autonomic nervous system in my son's body is failing? NO WAY...

So what have I learned from this episode of teenage angst?

It will happen again
Listen to my instinct with Dermot, I know him best
Have emergency chocolate in my van.
Grace is essential
Patience is a choice
so is Anger
Both choices are the right choice.
and if I've forgotten already: this will happen again.

Life is a series of peaks and valleys, the moment you get too comfortable in the plateau is the moment God reminds you to feel.

Be angry, be hurt, be rebellious, be heartbroken, be desperate, be honest and be loved.

You're going to be Okay.