Serious stuff, Uncategorized

Treatment: Hope

The summer of 2017 has not been kind to me and my family, both close and extended. So many people I care about have had diagnoses that literally upended their lives this summer, some temporarily, others forever. I’ve been operating under the mire of worry for the last month, trying to find my way past the grey clouds swirling about my head. I’ve spent a lot of time worrying, researching, crying and angry, pondering why things seem so damn unfair. No answers, just the echo of my questions as a reply.

This week I realized something, though. As I watch the stress mount on everyone, as I watch the numbness, shock, and dismay turn to anger, I ask, “How much more? How much before we break?” While I do not get the answers I seek, I do get the picture in my mind of a mountain.

Why the mountain? Well, when you think about it, it’s a steep climb with few footholds to make it to the top. It’s a tough journey, the toughest of your life, and questioning whether you can conquer what seems impossible. That’s exactly what we are all doing. We are standing there facing that treacherous climb and asking ourselves, can I make it? Do I have what it takes? What if…?

You have to embrace your strength. You have to face that mountain with every ounce of tenacity, guts, and grit that you can muster, if for no other reason than that the minute you doubt your own strength, the battle is lost. Even before that first step is taken, you will lose if you don’t embrace hope. Hope becomes all you have. And it can be enough.

You have to have the hope that you will reach the top of that mountain, that you will stand at the peak and scream to the world, “It didn’t beat me! I faced my battle and it didn’t beat me!” Keeping that in mind is what will keep you going. It will see you through. It will be enough.

I am looking at all this that our family is going through and trying to convince myself that this bump in the road may be more like a crater, but it isn’t insurmountable. We are a strong group of people. We are fighters. We are stubborn. We are strong. We have hope. And that is enough.

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Uncategorized

Hello 40’s, Goodbye Freewheelin’

What is it about entering your 40’s and the rapid decline of health? I find myself asking this question more and more as I sink deeper into the quagmire of midlife. I’ve had many health victories this past year, not the least among them a whopping 84 pound weight loss. But, alas, weight loss, awesome as it is and still on my list of focal points for my life, is not the magic bullet we think it is. Friends, sometimes life happens and it cares less about the scale than anything possibly could.

2017 is shaping up to be the bane of my insurance company’s and wallet’s existence. It’s six months old and already I’ve had a five day hospital stay, sleep apnea diagnosis, am unable to see much of anything without my glasses (no shock, I come from some serious mole people) and my asthma. Lord, help me, my asthma.

Before now, for decades I had an inhaler banging around in the bottom of my purse, an accessory I carried only when I didn’t have pockets or had more to haul around than one hand could easily manage. I’m not a high maintenance woman. Less is more in all aspects of my life, whether it’s makeup or possessions. However, the recent diagnosis of sleep apnea–a total accidental find to begin with–sent me back to the lung specialist.

Turns out that my lungs are revolting. Enacting a coup. Plain old being more than just a pain in my chest. I went from one lonely, probably expired inhaler, to having one on my person at all times and one for each floor of the house. In addition to that lovely aerosol accoutrement, I also have three pills and an inhaled steroid to take daily. As if that wasn’t enough, I am also tethered to a nebulizer and peak flow meter every four hours. And, like this week, if I have an exacerbation, add a butt ton of prednisone and antibiotics to that list. For the first time ever, I have to wear a medical alert tag at all times because, like Tuesday, there may come a time where I am unable to speak because I can’t breathe.

It’s overwhelming for me and my family.

I have an emergency paper laminated and hanging on the fridge so the kids know what to do if days like Tuesday happen again. I have a bright yellow folder accessible at all times that lists all my meds and allergies should they have to call 911 and speak for me.

It’s scary stuff.

While there are more health issues I’m dealing with, and will undoubtedly blog about, I am trying my damndest to remain upbeat, to not let asthma have the last word. The Type A in me is pissed that this was not part of THE PLAN. You know, the preordained by me PLAN of how my life was supposed to go. But the normal part of me, small as that may be, knows that life is unpredictable. Because of that I have to roll with the flow. Accept what I can change, right?

So, for now, asthma calls the shots. But while I struggle to learn how to keep it in check, I am not going to give up the hope that I can go back to my untethered to machines, freewheelin’ ways.

Someday.

Hopefully soon.

Do you deal with asthma? What are your triggers? How long have you dealt with it? Let me know in the comments!

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Serious stuff, Uncategorized

Oh, Captain, My Captain: On what would have been your 65th birthday

Robin Williams would have been 65 today. In honor of him, I revisit this post from last year.

Dead Poets’ Society, John Keating:  ‘To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?’

One of my favorite movies now takes on a different meaning, especially when I hear the line I quoted above. It’s been almost two years since the tragic suicide that relieved one man’s pain, but set the world to wobbling on its axis. I heard this line just the other night, and it hit me that Robin Williams’ verse is still being contributed after his death.

Robin Williams was so much more than the short, furry guy from Chicago, the actor and comedian whose stream-of-conscious comedy set us to belly-laughing so hard our faces and sides hurt. He was, at the very root of it all, the kindest and most generous of Hollywood royalty.

Few celebrities give as much as Williams did, and even fewer were as genuine about the reasons why. He was a board member for The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation where he committed time and his own money to helping fund spinal cord injury research. He will forever be linked to that foundation because of his friendship with Christopher Reeve, and also because of his innate ability to make a man smile. If it weren’t for that sense of humor he wore like armor, Reeve likely wouldn’t have started the foundation. It wasn’t until his friend Robin made him laugh for the first time since his paralysis that Reeve even wanted to live.

Robin Williams, along with friends Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal, helped use their gifts for comedy to raise literally millions of dollars to help alleviate homelessness in the U.S. They even personally delivered checks to shelters all over the states, visiting and chatting with the homeless, hearing and internalizing their stories.

It wasn’t just the funny side of Williams that helped out America’s least fortunate. He advocated in Congress for funding for housing support centers for the homeless and wanted to give them better access to mental health care. He believed that homelessness could actually be prevented. On May 9, 1990, Williams testified before the United States Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, asking them to begin a grassroots program to end homelessness. His testimony stands as a catalyst to what would later become a law that did just as he asked.

In recent years, Williams was one of the celebrity faces that advocated for funding for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, hoping to raise awareness for their needs. Advocacy wasn’t the limit of what he did for them. He’d visit sick and dying children, making them laugh and spending time with them.

Following his death, his daughter Zelda continued his work for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, raising thousands of dollars for a charity event just one day after his death. Money poured in as fans who loved him donated in his honor.  She is continuing to honor her father’s memory and his drive for charity by picking up his mantel with the Challenged Athletes Foundation, a group that helps athletes that face physical disabilities.

His son, Zak, is doing the same. He helps teach finance to prisoners in San Quentin. Like his father, he feels a responsibility to give back whenever and wherever possible. His hopes are that by teaching inmates about finances now, they will be better prepared to make it in society when their sentences are up.

It is evident that the play does go on. The world hasn’t stopped spinning since we all learned of Robin Williams’ untimely death. He made the most of his time with us, leaving a legacy of comedy and film that will forever be remembered. His verse in this powerful play meant so much because of the lives he touched through his work and philanthropy, because he literally did help to change the world. But, let’s not forget that his verse is still playing. It lives on longer through his children who have obviously inherited their father’s love of giving. May we all leave this world having lifted up those less fortunate in as selfless a manner as Robin Williams.

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Uncategorized

The Best Movies With Killer Soundtracks From the Early ’90’s

Every teenager loves music, and I was no exception.  The early ’90’s were that transition period from high school to college for me.  It was the beginning of the grunge movement, a rock offshoot that still makes my musical heart go pitter-patter and yearn for those youthful days before bills and kids and Snoop Doggy Dog.http://mrg.bz/jRAj32

As the mother of a teenager I try to remember how important music used to be to me, especially when he’s be-bopping around the house with earphones and singing off-key. Somewhere along the line, I lost my connection to that part of me that revolved around a great tune.  When I brought this up to a friend recently, she agreed that the older we’ve gotten the less we’ve listened. This brought us around to our favorite movies of that time period that had awesome soundtracks.  We whittled it down to five.

(Click on the titles for a direct link to purchase each soundtrack. I make no money from this. Just sharing the awesomeness. 😉 )

1. Empire Records

This movie did not do well in theaters and it baffles me to this day.  It’s worth the time for Gen Xers to watch for two simple reasons: a) the soundtrack is amazing, featuring up-and-comers of its time like The Gin Blossoms, The Cranberries and Toad the Wet Sprocket, and b) it takes place in the relic of our youth–a record store. Filled with a representative of every social level you ever encountered in high school, there isn’t much for someone who loves the ’90’s not to embrace here. It’s a classic coming-of-age movie that truly does ROCK.

2. Singles

No list of ’90’s movies is ever complete unless it includes this one. I have to admit, though, that I love this movie for three reasons, the third being the most bizarre. First, of course, is the fact that it’s a great romantic comedy and the perfect date night movie if you’re looking for the nostalgia of your youth. Second, this movie not only has oodles of cameos of significant people from the Seattle grunge movement, but they also appear on the soundtrack. Those of us who were really into that scene will forever consider this album when picking out their college anthem, with bands like Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, The Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam (when they were just starting out and were known as Mookie Blaylock). Which leads me to my third reason for loving this movie.  Two words: Eddie. Vedder. He has a brief cameo in the movie. Every self-respecting grunge lover had a crush on him in the ’90’s (some of us still do!).

3.  Forrest Gump

Seldom has there ever been a movie whose soundtrack was so huge.  It took 2 full CD’s to capture this album’s awesomeness. Because the movie takes place over the span of one man’s life, the music feels like the soundtrack to history itself. Featuring Elvis, Joan Baez, Creedance Clearwater Revival and Bob Seger, it has something for everyone. This movie is a lovely tear-jerker and the music doesn’t disappoint.

4.  Reality Bites

Whenever I bring this one up, my friends cringe, but I can’t help but love it. For one, it’s full of pop culture references and I am a pop culture junkie. Who doesn’t like a movie that beckons memories from our youth like “Conjunction Junction?” And, again, this soundtrack is really great, featuring Lisa Loeb’s breakout hit “Stay (I Missed You).” She didn’t even have a record label yet when this song got popular, all because of a little movie about our generation becoming disenfranchised after college graduation. Let’s face it, it was a little prophetic, too, wasn’t it?

5. Dazed and Confused

Maybe this list says more about my movie taste than it does about my love of music, but this movie does not deserve the cross-eyed looks I get when I mention it. I love it because it takes place in the ’70’s–not because I particularly care for the fashion, but because I love the cars. I remember driving in the back of a few of them as a kid.  I miss the days an entire family could fit comfortably in a car and no one worried about gas mileage. Not only was this film a spot-on reflection of high school dynamics, but the soundtrack harkens me back to my childhood and dancing to KISS and Lynyrd Skynyrd in my grandfather’s living room. We saved Alice Cooper for home.

Very few movies of the ’90’s could boast the shear talent found on these soundtracks.  Seldom do you find a movie that is both great and has a killer soundtrack. I think I am going to wrangle my teen into a ’90’s movie night this weekend just so I can share some of the tunes his mama used to sing off-key.

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Snark, Uncategorized

I was saved by a superhero

About two o’clock in the morning I was typing away at my computer, Rosie, our dog curled at my feet, snoring away.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something flutter in the background.  I looked and saw nothing.  I continued to type.

A few minutes later I heard Rosie’s I.D. tags jingle.  Something had woken my semi-comatose hound.  Only two things do that:  the promise of food or fun.  I looked down to see her brown ears perked up, her nose wiggling about 90 miles an hour while she tried to discern if whatever woke her was worth actual movement.

That’s when I saw it.  My old nemesis.  The brown bat.

You see, we’d been here before.  Only it was trapped in the laundry room during the first go round.  Now it was in my dining room, swooping around like freaking Rodan.

Rosie, remembering that I didn’t let her eat the little brown flying rat the last time, rested her head on her paws to continue her snooze.

Until I busted out my best defense against the pterodactyl in the dining room, that is.

I hit the dirt and started screaming like a little girl, crawling to the doors and flinging them open, in hopes that Rodan would make a swift exit outside where he belonged.  Swear words flowed freely from my mouth as I gave myself carpet burn, unable to get any closer to the ground despite my best efforts.  Rosie jumped up and joined in on the fun, hopping around like a rabbit, barking at the furry brown fun making her mom completely lose her shit.

That’s when the boys came running out of their bedrooms.

“Mom!” Tony said, “what is wrong?”

“Mom!”  Jimmy said, “why are you scream….”

Then Rodan dive bombed my baby!

Tony ran for his room slamming the door.  Jimmy ran for his room and slammed the door, also.

I looked around, feeling like my eyes were going to pop out of my head, my heart pounding so hard I’m sure the neighbors could hear.

That’s when Jimmy came down and said, “Mom, it’s trapped in my room.”

After I got him some blankets to sleep on the couch with, I called my savior, Jim.

“Jim, it’s back!  The bat is back!” I sobbed into the phone.

“You’re kidding me!”

“I wish!”

So, quietly I sat, shivering from the overdose of adrenaline pumping through my veins.  Jim will get the net.  He’ll capture Rodan and we’ll be fine, I thought.  I began to worry about bat poop in the house.  Was it toxic?  What if the dog ate it?  What if the kids touched it?  How do you find bat poop?  What does it look like?

After about thirty minutes of worrying myself into a tizzy, Jim came home.  He was wearing his hard hat, uniform, heavy green jacket with a flap protecting his neck, big welding gloves, safety goggles and work boots with steel tarsals.  I looked down at myself.  I had on a tank top and shorts.  I made a mental note to purchase better armor for these occasions.

Up the stairs he went with the giant black net.  Two seconds later, he came downstairs with Jimmy’s blanket wadded up in the net.  Rodan had flown into Jimmy’s room and knocked himself wonky on the fan.  After all this commotion, the damn thing was taking a nap on Jimmy’s comforter.

Jim walked him outside and lay the net and blanket on the deck.  A few moments later, the evil thing woke up and flew off to eat bugs and terrorize someone else.

I breathed a sigh of relief and Jim went back to work.

The next morning I hugged my savior.

“You know, I love you, and I have no problem saving you from bats,” he began.  “But, next time, we’ll keep this between us, okay?”

“Okay,” I said, confused.

“I got to work and this was hanging on my locker.”

How many women can actually say they were saved by Batman?

I’m one lucky girl.

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