Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rock of Ages

I flew to St. Louis a day ahead of the viewing with my Dad and Step-Mom so Dad could finalize everything for my grangmother's funeral.  My Dad mentioned that my grandmother had kept a list of things she liked and did not like from every funeral she went to-and basically left instructions.  She wanted "Amazing Grace".  She wanted "When the Saints go Marching In" played (Recessional)".  She picked a wonderful poem, Miss Me-But Let Me Go" to be read.  What didn't she want?  "Rock of Ages".  When my Dad said that I kind of choked-but let it go.  He said it again the next day, that he made the funeral director note there would be NO "Rock of Ages"  Finally, I couldn't hold it in-I had to say something. 

Me- Dad-I can understand Grandma not wanting Rock of Ages, but WHOSE funeral did she go to that it was played?

Dad-Well, it is a very popular song and is played at many funerals

Me-Um, Really?

Dad Yes (and starts singing) "Rock of Ages...Cleft for Me.."

Me-OH! isn't the Rock of Ages that I Def Leppard

Step Mom (hysterical laughter)

Me-(Hysterical giggles)


I related this fact (that Grandma specified NO Rock of Ages) to my cousins and brother over drinks that night (and to my brother again the next day because he was too drunk to remember)...and was met with astonished hysterical laughter because we are all the same generation and they, too thought Def Leppard's Rock of Ages was the song, too... DID YOU?

Rock of ages, rock of ages
Still rollin', keep a-rollin'
Rock of ages, rock of ages
Still rollin', rock'n'rollin'

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Grandma

*My grandma taught me to play board games and card games.
She taught me to play Kings on the Corners, Gin (5 and 7 card), Pinochle and Oh Hell!
I went to her house every day after school some years-and many days in the summer and she played games with me for hours.  I never thought about all the time she devoted to me just playing games with me. She taught me to win and lose graciously and never cheat.

*My Grandma taught me to love books-especially mysteries.  She introduced me to The Boxcar Children, The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys and Cherry Ames, Student Nurse. 
I was allowed to sit on the library's counter (where she volunteered) even though there was a sign clearly prohibiting it.

*My Grandma made the best coffee cake and the best Plum Cobbler.
She, along with her mother who died when i was 17,  made the best Custard Pie, Stollen (German raisin bread) and home made noodles.  I remember from before Thanksgiving to Christmas her living room was set up with tables for noodle drying-and how I would run in and snatch a few to eat.

*My grandma took up painting in the 70's. She gave me her first painting ever, a seagull, which hangs in my hallway.  I have other of her paintings-they are treasured possessions in my family-and guarded with all the fury a mother cat guards her kittens (through no fault of his own-my brother came to think the Seagull picture was his as it hung at my Mom's house for years when I was in college and early adulthood and he has tried to steal it from me (hopefully as a joke).

*My grandma taught me to love flowers.  The things she missed most when they moved to a retirement village was her flower garden.  So, she became the head of the Grounds Committee (a volunteer position)-in charge of landscaping, hiring and firing of garden personnel for the entire complex.  I remember how many years she tried to get a hillside to grow wildflowers.  Through multiple planters-making them each reseed when they, yet again, failed to grow.  She would take me out on the balcony and tell me the latest development.  I am not sure that hillside ever bloomed.

*My grandma took me on many vacations with her (and grandpa) to visit family in other states.   I am the oldest grandchild and the only one who experienced this-except my brother once got to go because they drove me out to visit my Mom and brother when they lived in Oklahoma-and he drove back to Pennsylvania with us so he could stay with me and Dad for awhile.  I am the only grandchild with memories of her sister (Aunt Glad) and her children, and their children (my cousins) who are around the same age.   I am also the only grandchild that saw her tipsy-once-after her Mom's funeral at the restaurant after 1 or 2 glasses of wine.

*My grandma, as a young woman, once worked for a judge as a secretary.  She was bored one day and decided to organize his accounting books.  She discovered along the way information that led to the discovery that the judge's business partner was embezzling.  She had to go to trial.  The guilty party issued a death threat in public towards her.  I get my constant seeking out information from her.  I can't ever let my mind just sit still.

*My grandma once let it slip that I was her favorite grandchild.  She told my husband when we were leaving to go home to Florida how he was taking "her favorite" away.  I know what she meant.  She loved all her grandchildren equally.  I just happened to be the one who spent the most time with her-the one she saw daily some years-the one who lived in the same town. The one who grew up in front of her-rather than in fleeting visits or photos.

*My grandma died today.  She lived a full life well into her 90's. I know she is finally at peace and free from a body and mind that for the last years trapped her inside and made her a mere shadow of herself.

*I miss her so much

Thursday, June 17, 2010

There better not be a third time!

I can't remember a time that I wasn't allergic to something.  Trees, grass, pollen, mold, cats-the list goes on and on.  I was a sneezing itching watery eyes mess growing up-my friends used to count my sneezes as an Olympic Sport OR I was sleeping off the allergy medicine. The person who invented Claritin-my hero.  In my teens I developed a few more allergies-these ever so fun-bananas, avocado and almonds.  The banana and avocado allergy has manifested itself as something that feels like hives inside my stomach.  Joy.  I haven't eaten either of these since I was 14 or so.  Of course, these was the accidental ingestion-a sour apple martini-which, by the way, is made with banana liquor at certain locations.  Live and Learn.  Almond has been my worst allergy.  The last time I had an almond was when I was 15 and I ate a chocolate and almond bar.  My face got really swollen.  Thankfully, I was very unaware that I could have died.  I just sat at home and waited for the swelling to go down.  In allergy tests I am, on a scale of 1-4 a 4+.
Dining out, pot luck dinners and grocery shopping are oh so fun with these 3 food allergies.  Bananas and avocado are pretty easy.  I know what foods they lurk in-it is pretty obvious I don't eat banana bread or guacamole.  (Except smoothies-so many smoothies have banana as a secret ingredient!) Almonds, however, lurk in the strangest places.  Cereal Bars is the best example.  Ever heard of Almond paste?  It is the most popular filler in cereal bars-even ones that don't have any nut in the title.  I picked up a bag of popcorn at Walmart the other day and had to put it back.  Why?  The lone ingredient was popcorn but the allergy statement plainly says "contains trace amounts of almonds"  Seriously.

I am very diligent about checking the allergy warning labels.  I am that annoying person at pot lucks and restaurants asking about ingredients (twice servers have insisted their food was almond free and I have been served green beans with almonds and pie with them baked into the crust).  I have also learned that "familiar" dishes are not always safe (who puts almonds in oatmeal raisin cookies?  At least they were clices to when I bit into one the almond popped out to say hello!) My coworkers are diligent as well to not bring any dishes with almonds or to warn me-setting the offending item on a different table even so I will remember.

So imagine my surprise the other day when, after we ate out pot-luck salad bar lunch, one turned to me and said, "you didn't eat the fired onions did you? they have almonds."  My reaction: instant panic attack because, yes-I ate some.  Instantly, everyone panicked with me.  "Do I have an Epi-Pen?" (No, doc won't prescribe). How do I feel? (I can't breathe but that is because of the panic).  After a couple minutes I just went to my office.  I was in tears. I was shaking.  Let's face it-I was scared.  My friends sister died of a food allergy reaction not to long ago.  Eventually, someone came to tell me that the Onions says "may contain because manufactured on a facility that processes almond".  That calmed me down-not that that isn't bad--but it is a hell of a lot better than the fried onion almond salad mix they first thought it was where almonds are actually part of the ingredients.  Eventually I declared myself OK-and went about my day.

Did I mention I am extremely diligent about checking ingredients?

Well, last night I stopped at Giant Eagle and bought a last minute birthday cake for my husband.  We went out to eat at a place where we don't eat dessert.  He wanted a white cake.  I grabbed the only white cake they had.  I looked at the ingredients listed on the top-no problem.  Around 10:30 last night he wanted his cake.  I noticed that the ingredient list on top was really only for the sprinkles-so, diligent me-looked at the allergy warning for the cake-wheat, soy, eggs and milk.  No problem.  I pulled off this label in pieces because it was stuck on with of the stickiest glue ever-ate the cake and that was it...Right?   Wrong!

About 15 minutes after I finished the cake my husband noticed I had a piece of the label stuck to me.  I playfully put it on him.  He pulled it off and went to throw it away-except he looked at it first.  The pretty white cake I bought?  It was WHITE ALMOND CAKE.  Eff. Instant panic attack.  Hubby wants to drive toward the ER (30 minutes) and I am thinking we should just drive over to the ambulance station a couple blocks away if I have a reaction.  It would be faster than even calling 911.

Then I remembered the allergy warning didn't include nuts.  We pieced together the label and (except in the big title I didn't even look at) there is no mention of almonds, almond oil or anything nut related.  Thank you, Artificial Sweeteners!  Still, I stayed up until 2am (the arbitrary time my husband set to monitor me) thinking every single twitch, itch, feeling in my face was the beginning of the swelling. It wasn't and I thanked the artificial sweetener gods and went to bed with one thought:

I am not eating any more of that cake!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Journey of Despair

I am one of the many people struck by infertility.  Let me tell you-it sucks.  I have always had the "I can do anything I put my mind to" attitude.  I could have been the President, an astronaut, Valedictorian-None of these appealed to me.  The one thing I always assumed I would become easily was to have a baby.  3 babies, actually. That, apparently, is not going to happen.  To face something I have no control over-no way to fix-really kind of crippled me.  No matter how hard "I put my mind to this" it won't happen. Ever.

I was told 4 years ago that I have less than 1% chance of conceiving due to endometriosis-and that doctor only told me that 1% because of liability. I don't know how to describe hearing this news. It still is a gut punch today.

Then, 2 years ago--well, I most likely was pregnant. It was -brief-. I didn't know or even suspect. The only sign was extreme chest tenderness. OMG-so bad I called and scheduled a mammogram (I have had several cysts removed and figured I needed a follow up). Then, I fell on the ice.  I little fall, really.  I grabbed a railing and ended up on my rear-end.  Not hurt.  I spotted 1 tiny spot (first and only time in my entire life) that day-then, 2 days later I had a very early but heavy cycle. On day 2 of the cycle I called the doctor because I was mildly concerned about the spotting/heavy and very early period-it just "wasn't right". I never thought I would hear the words "miscarriage." I remember talking to the nurse and then the next thing I knew I was buying pregnancy tests (per the nurse) and freaking out. I couldn't talk-could not formulate a coherent sentence. I just shook. I cried. I probably scared the people at the store. I know my husband was worried-I called him after talking to the nurse and blubbered out a few words of jibberish and sobbed. I took the tests-one immediately and 1 the next morning. They were both negative.  I was in shock and utterly heartbroken. I am not sure how I got through it. The doctor didn't run any tests-said the negative pg tests were enough. Unless I had a complication I didn't need to be seen. A brief pregnancy didn't need any medical attention.

I have told very few people of those couple of days. Not my family. Not my friends. They were awful days and I am not sure how I even functioned.

As bad as it was, it gave me a glimmer of hope.

The doctor decided to send me to another specialist who was encouraged by my "episode"-confirming that it "was most likely" a brief pregnancy. So a few months of injections, many ultrasounds, lots of sex, needle pricks and 1 IUI later-I got the same dreaded soul-crushing sentence: In-Vitro or nothing.

We cannot afford In-Vitro. It is $10000 minimum per TRY. no guaranteed outcome. Adopting a baby is also out.  It is also too much money.  We have looked into adopting from foster care-and that is what we will most likely do-it scares us, too.

I have flirted with going to a 3rd specialist. Trying the medicine cycles again. My concerns are that I had a medical issue arise after that last injection (high blood pressure started 6 weeks after it and still present) and I am not exactly a young chick. Let's face it- I'm over the hill.  No one tries to get pregnant at my age-well maybe Kelly Preston.  The HBP worries me-it came out of nowhere and I don't have much of a family history-NONE at all before retirement age. It hasn't exactly been easy to control either-as some of the meds leech vital minerals out of my body and supplements make me sick-and as a bonus, don't actually work for me.

So there it journey into the abyss of infertility. Maybe the worst part is-nothing is malfunctioning. I have regular sucky heavy awful lengthy cycles. On any given day I know exactly where I am in my cycle-I don't think about it..I just KNOW. I know when I ovulate. I know how many days before, after it. I do not keep track. We do not try to get pregnant. But, I am upset every month on schedule. I know it's coming-but it still infuriates me and sends me freshly into the abyss again. I sometimes think I would rather have a 0% chance because then I wouldn't have any thought that *I* could be that 1 in a million.

My husband is wonderful. He knows what this is doing/has done to me. He lets me have my moments-and then helps me get over it. He is going through this with me. It is his painful journey, too. To accept that any children we have won't be biologically his-ours-is a difficult thing--while I am physically forced to deal with it-HE has had to make the choice to accept it-to consciously choose to not have a biological child.  Something I am not sure I could do.

I cringe when I hear of parents hurt or injure their kids. I once told off a panhandling person because she told me that she had a toddler "under a bridge" she needed to feed and could I give her some money. I told her to bring me the kid-I would give him a home.

I love kids. I work with kids.
So Why ME? Why not them? 

Some days are just so hard. I have had a lot of them lately, for some reason.  Infertility is soul-sucking.  Don't let anyone tell you different. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Right Now

Ok-time to stop procrastinating and just write.  I seem to want to wait until I have the "perfect" topic. Several bloggers are jumping on the "now" theme Uncle Crappy, Pittsburgh Girlie, Wildfire and others.  So I am going to do this too.

Right now the score from Lost's finale is playing in my head-has been all day.

Right now I am hot and my husband is being nice and not turning on the AC because I hate hate hate it. Not the cool air-but the Window AC.  It is noisy and we have to shut out the outside, hang a sheet-and there are days I feel claustrophobic from it all!

Right now the dog is trying to get on the couch because she heard thunder.  She hates thunder ever since we moved from Florida.  Go figure-storms were a daily occurrence there and never bothered her.  Here she shakes and whines and one time got stuck under a bed-up the steps she is forbidden to climb.

Right now I am waiting for a friend to pick me up so we can do Week 1, Day 2 of Couch to 5K.  I am pretending that my knees are not still screaming from day 1 on Sunday.  I took Motrin.  I bought new inserts for my new supposedly great for my type of issue shoes.   This is why I stopped aerobics in the fall-and only started walking in April.

Right now I feel I will never be able to say I am a runner-that my goal for running 3 miles is a fairy tale because I can only run 60-90 second intervals for 20 minutes and get injured.

Right now I am depressed over several things at home. My age, No kids and husband without a job top the list.

Right now I have 7 days to do about 30 days worth of new paperwork at work--oh yeah-and do my job.

Right now my cat is basically living in the basement because my husband suddenly developed an allergy-and that, combined with his ocd tendency about cat hair has made him hate the cat and I am tired of fighting over a cat (since he used to like him there is a lot of tension between us regarding this subect).  So now I feel guilt and uncertainty and just don't know what to do.  If I give the cat away it solves one issue-but brings up several new issues between us-control, jealousy, and fear that somehow this will become a permanent part of his personality (force me to give up what i love because he "hates" it suddenly).

Right now I should quit worrying about "what ifs"

Right now I need to turn off the computer because it is booming outside.