Yesterday was Buddy and Bug’s first day of school. They came running out of the bus happy and energetic!
“How was it Bug? Do you have a good teacher?”
“No. She’s not good…” he said sort of melancholy. “…she’s AWE-SOME!”
“Ha ha! Wonderful! How about you Buddy? How’s your teacher?”
“He’s quite jolly!” he said with a light lilt.
“Jolly, you say? How nice!” Weirdo. “And how about your old friends from last year. Are they all in class with you again this year?”
“Oh yes! And there is a new boy who one of the guys from our group met this summer when he moved in. His name is Luke.” At this Buddy giggled a little.
I could see where this was going. I don’t think he’s ever met someone named Luke before and so it seems that this kid is named after a Star Wars character.
“Is Luke nice?”
“Oh yes! He’s going to join our group.”
“The Coolest Kids In School Group?” (That’s not really what they call themselves. I was sort of making fun of my little nerd. Bad Mamma!)
“Yeah! I told him, ‘Join our group and you will always have fun…’ I tried to do it in a Darth Vader voice. No one got it really but then I said, ‘Luke…I am your father,’ and then he smiled and my friends got it and laughed. It was the first time he smiled all day!”
So, I think everyone is going to have a great year!
Alright, so, The Neil Diamond Concert was not really the beginning of my story but more of the middle. It just felt like where I needed to start. This will not go like Star Wars. It will be a back and forth of events and I’ll try not to muck it up.
Prior to The Neil Diamond Concert I had been having boughts of nausea when I ate. I went to the doctor the day after my mom arrived in town. I had recently had routine blood work done and all of that had been normal and so my doctor was a little puzzled due to some other symptoms.
“Are you depressed?” he asked.
“Well…” I told him about how I sometimes battle with a seasonal depression in the Spring and how this year was a doozy. “It started out as sort of a mid-life crisis just because I started worrying about my place in life and how, as a stay-at-home mom, I help my husband and sons to become succesful and then they’ll move away and that’s it. I want that to be one of my accomplishments but not all of it. I need something for me. I don’t know…anyway, then my Grandma died and I think it sort of exasperated the whole idea of ‘what sort of legacy am I leaving?’ So…yeah. I have been depressed. I have recently felt that I was coming out of it though. Maybe it’s because of this concert…”
Then I told him about my gift of a Neil Diamond concert for Grandma and how she died before we could see it together. I told him my family was coming into town that week for us to see it and it all made sense to me! I’m sick about my Grandma’s death!
“Well, that’s part of it,” he said. “When you have had seasonal depression in the past, did you take anything for it?”
“I took B12 and allergy meds because I think it’s allergy related. Though…this year I’ve been re-thinking that because I have had it when I lived in Texas and Missouri and now in Colorado and those are all very different regions. They can’t have the same allergens at the same time of the year.”
“No. I don’t think it’s allergies. I’m going to prescribe you an anti-anxiety medication and I want you to see a therapist. I think that will help you a lot with your mid-life crisis.”
My chest tightened and my arms sort of ached like it did this Spring. Remember? That sort of antsy buzz all over? That thing. Apparently that’s anxiety.
“Ha ha…it’s not really a mid-life crisis. Is it? I’m too young for that. Right?”
“No. I think that’s exactly what it is.”
I left feeling worse than ever. I don’t know if it was the power of suggestion or if his diagnosis gave me the ability to identify it better, but I was noticing that I was wringing my hands and rubbing my chest. I felt that ache in my heart and the pit in my stomach. I noticed I was clenching my teeth and that uneasiness all over my body. Anxiety.
Great. I am officially losing my mind.
I started on the medication that night. I took it the whole week. We went to Breckenridge with my Aunt and Uncle to climb some 14ers. (A 14er, BTW, is a hike/climb up a mountain that’s peak is 14,000 ft. above sea level or higher. It’s kind of “big dill.”) The anxiety showed some during the hike but it also seemed a normal thing when you are faced with a mountain to conquer and are not the most fit person in the world. I did two that week. I was quite pleased with myself.
Towards the end of that trip though I noticed that my stomach was no better and that now I was having hot flashes as well. One night, I took the med and went to the basement to watch TV with Man and Sissy. She was the last of my company and the house was quiet. There was no reason to feel stressed but I was. I noticed my heart was pounding, my chest was tight, my stomach was sick and I could now add hot flashes to it.
“Call the doctor tomorrow,” Sissy said. “You need to stop taking that stuff.”
I did as I was told and he agreed that was not how the medication should be working.
“Certainly not hot flashes. Sometimes people may find that it makes them more agitated but I have never heard of anyone having hot flashes. I’m going to write down that you are allergic to this particular medication. Let’s try this other one. It’s very mild.”
I was about to leave for a road trip to Texas so he suggested I not take anything until I return. Just in case… I mean, can you imagine having some sort of reaction to a medication while on a 16 hour road trip with two little boys? Uh. No thanks.
First we went to my Aunt’s home in New Mexico. She lives in a mountainous area like me but somehow her place seems more quiet. The closest town is Santa Fe. I had no phone service. The kids did not have any toys to play with except the stuffed animals they brought to sleep with and so they played outside a lot, which was perfect. I spent a lot of time sitting on my Aunt’s deck watching the hummingbirds fight for a space at her feeders.
I don’t know what kind of crack she puts in her feeders but I am not exaggerating when I tell you that there would be about 15 to 20 hummingbirds dog-fighting around these things! It was crazy! And noisy but it was a lovely chirpy and buzzy noise. The boys and I would take turns standing near the feeder with a finger near a perch. If you are very still and quiet; the hummingbirds will perch on your finger while they eat. You can feel a little breeze on your face from the beating of their wings. It’s magical!
My time there was very serene but I still kept having hot flashes. I didn’t feel very anxious but when I would have a hot flash it would really aggravate me.
“It’s like I’m menopausal or something!” I complained to my Aunt.
“Well, you know, you have a relative who had menopause in her 30’s and it was over by the time she was 35.”
“Seriously?! Oh my lands! It can’t be menopause!” It started to make sense. Maybe my depression and anxiety was hormone related. I’m often forgetful too. That’s typically a hormone thing. I mean, I can have a conversation with someone but if they interrupt just to say, “mmm this pie is good” I will have completely forgotten what I was saying. Even if I interrupt myself to compliment the pie, I will be lost after. (I don’t know why I’m using pie for an example but now I really want pie.)
“Maybe it won’t last long,” my Aunt flipped to The Bright Side. “My friends are always jealous because I went through it so fast.”
That sounded encouraging. I figured menopause lasted about a year. Maybe, if I’m like my Aunt it will go by quick and I’ll only have to deal with this for 4-6 months.
“How long did yours last?” I asked.
“Only 3 years!” she said with obvious pride.
“THREE YEARS?! How long does it normally take?!”
“Oh…it’s different for everyone but…it can take up to 10 years.”
“TEN YEARS?!” Oh my lands! I could not do this for ten years! I fanned myself through another hot flash. Just having one pissed me off which I think made me more hot.
Lola is dying. Mildred is completely taking over here! I’m too young for this. I’m turning 36 tomorrow. Ugh…that suddenly seems so old!
I wrung my arthritic hands which only punctuated my feeling of getting old. I really wanted to call my Grandma to talk to her about the whole thing. That of course was not possible and besides, I was still kind of mad at her for not showing up to her concert. On the other hand: if this whole thing is due to menopause we have a line of attack. Healing a sick body is much easier than healing a sick spirit. Not that menopause is an illness but there are things that can be done to ease the transition and there will be an end to it. Eventually.
My sleep that weekend was restless. I couldn’t stand to have the covers on and I couldn’t sleep with Man snuggling me. Usually I can’t sleep without his body touching mine in some way but no longer. That kept me up too. I felt lonely without feeling his touch. I would wake up hot and then wake up later cold. Then hot. Then cold.
The morning of my birthday I woke up heavy-hearted. Man was already up. I could smell coffee brewing and could hear him talking with my uncle on the porch.
I’m old. I’ve never, ever been bothered about aging before but today I feel old. My insides are dying. Get a grip. You don’t even have most of your reproductive system so it’s not that big of a deal. But it is. It’s making me crazy.
It occurred to me that it was my first birthday without Grandma. There would be no birthday call or card. It did not make me feel sad but mad.
I’m so mad at you! I know you didn’t choose to leave when you did but for some reason I am still mad. You could have at least showed some sort of sign you were at the concert or with us while we visited with each other. We talked about you the whole time.
My Grandma’s brother, Eddie, died two days before my birthday this year.
I know you are busy. I know you and Annabel are busy with Eddie now. Ugh. I’m so jealous of them both.
Man came into the room and sat on the edge of my bed. I opened my eyes as he tenderly pushed my hair out of my face.
“You look so pretty laying here with your hair all tousled.”
“That was the perfect thing to say,” I told him.
“Happy birthday,” he whispered and he kissed my forehead.
“I’m an old lady.”
“Seriously. I’m arthritic and I am 86% sure that I’m menopausal.”
“Where did you come up with that number?”
“Because I’m mostly sure but there is still some doubt. 80% seemed like there was lots of room for discrepancy. I am more than 80% sure that this is menopause but I am less than 90% sure. 86%.”
Man softly laughed at me, kissed me again and left the room.
The day was lovely, starting with a hike and ending with a steak dinner and wine on the porch. We left the next day for Texas.
We planned to drive to Amarillo and to stay the night there. The day went great. My sons are very good travellers. They were quiet most of the drive, entertaining themselves with DVDs and books. I read a book as well. I read Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson. She’s The Blogess that I’ve mentioned before. She’s totally off and hilarious! Strangely enough, we have a lot in common. We could pretty much write the same book if I just exaggerated my neurosis a bit. I don’t think she is exaggerating, mind you. I think she is genuinely a nutter. I’m close but not full-on. She’s so lucky though because being crazy sells books.
The next day we left Amarillo before the sun was up. It was dark so I couldn’t read. The car was quiet as the boys were engrossed in a movie. There was absolutely nothing upsetting happening but my body was responding as if it was in great duress.
Lord Jesus, you have to stop this. Cover me in your peace and comfort. Serenity now!
I took slow deep breaths and continued to pray.
And where are you anyway? I know that little story about the footprints and when there is only one set of footprints in the hard times of life it’s You carrying us. Yeah, yeah. I don’t feel like you are carrying me at all. I feel like You are busy like Grandma and You’ll get to me later. Maybe You are waiting for me to do something first. I mean, You don’t do magic. If I were unemployed and praying for You to provide a job for me, I still have to apply for it so…maybe there is something I need to do first to allow You to move on my behalf. Peace. Serenity now!
And then a thought occurred to me. I’ve been doing a lot of praying but I rarely ever worship anymore. I could write a whole blog on worship and its many forms. It’s not just a song but at that moment it was the best I could do. So as not to disturb the rest of the car, I sang a song internally and it worked. I felt so much better! For awhile.
The trip was stressful. Our time in Texas was not what I hoped though it did do me good to see friends that I missed so much. Friends like Tiffany, Michelle, Lesley, Lauren, Toni and Christina. Friends like Lupes beef fajitas and Sangria swirled Margaritas. God bless Texas, they know how to do those things right.
Man and I took one night to go out alone and to stay at a hotel. That was the best I felt the whole trip. We went to Lupes and ordered our favorite fajitas. People, if you have not had their beef fajitas you have not lived. In fact you may be soulless. It’s not your fault but now you know and you must run, fly, swim to Lupes and order their beef fajitas. The marinade has to have lime in it. The meat is so tender and juicy and tangy. My mouth is watering right now. It’s one of those things that you eat with your eyes closed, you know? Talk about worship. I literally praised God for giving someone the creative genius to create such a delectable meal.
“Every good and perfect gift….Thank you Jesus! I will eat these every day in Heaven,” I told my husband. This is something I have oft remarked and has been debated since the Bible says there is no death in Heaven and one would have to kill a cow to make the fajitas.
“Nope. It’s Heaven. Nothing will die for it. It will just appear. If these fajitas aren’t there….I don’t know. I just don’t know that I could stay.”
“Babe. That’s terribly sacrilegious.”
“Is it? I don’t mean to be. I just really think that God wants to give us the desires of our heart and He would not sweep me up to Heaven with Lupes so far out of reach unless He planned on providing it there. Everything fabulous here will be there but 10x more amazing. This I am certain.”
“Can we just eat?”
Texas was not all that I had hoped. I thought maybe some of this sadness was homesickness but I was still sad while I was there. I was sad when I got home to Colorado too. I told Man that I feel displaced. I keep looking for home but neither place feels like it.
So here is where I am. I dreamt that a viper was in the chicken coop and he swallowed an egg. He started to slither towards me at an alarmingly fast rate. I ran but got stuck on the fence and I struggled to get free but that just made it worse and I woke up, my body gripped with fear. If that isn’t a dream about fear of menopause I don’t know what is. Ha!
In the mornings I lay awake thinking through what I need to do for the day, which leads to what I need to do for the week, then the month, then the year and then I realize my life is completely booked until January. My heart races. Heat rises in my body, starting from the very core of me, like being heated up in a microwave. The temperature rises quickly and expands over my whole body.
Screw you menopause!
Thinking about my everyday routine stresses me out which is ridiculous. I had contemplated having the boys cut down on an activity or two but that hardly seems fair. I thought about quitting the show I am in (at the time I had not yet even started rehearsals) but that seemed unfair too. In fact, the thought caused me quite a bit of anxiety because that’s mine. I need that thing that’s all mine. Still the day of my first rehearsal I debated calling the director and saying I can’t do it due to health issues.
“Just go to at least one rehearsal,” Caren said. “See how you feel there. Maybe it will feel like home.”
And it did. I don’t know if it was the concentrating on the music or sitting on the stage but I felt so great after our first rehearsal. I felt appreciated and needed. Which is funny because I know I’m needed at home. I told Caren another time that I am so down that I sometimes think it would be ok if a car hit me while I crossed the street or if I found out I had a fatal disease because I am ready to go.
“I’m not going to ‘off’ myself or anything. I’m just tired and I don’t have the fight. But then, when I think about it, I get all stressed out because who will take the kids to lacrosse camp and karate and band and what not? Plus I can’t leave with all of that laundry to be done. It sort of pisses me off, you know, because I can’t even afford the luxury of sweet death.”
I don’t want that to scare anyone. I actually thought it was kind of funny really. Dark, yes. But funny! So, that’s where I am at right now. A dark and funny place.