Tic, tic, tic…..

Have you ever seen anyone that has a tic? Not a tick, the little black insect that burrows under your skin, but body tics–brief, repeated movements or noises that a person makes.  Very often tics are associated with Tourette’s Syndrome.  Do you know what I’m talking about? Sometimes it can be mildly annoying to be beside someone that is always clearing their throat or squeezing their eyes shut, or it can be fascinating to watch someone continuously shrug their shoulders or rub their head or even blow on their hands. But if you don’t understand what’s happening, it can be very unnerving to watch someone go through a series of these movements or sounds.

Now imagine that person with the tics is your child.  You don’t know why he does it, nor does he.  You hear other kids talking about him, “What’s wrong with that kid’s eyes? Why is he doing that?”  Then adults ask him directly if his eyes are tired or if needs glasses.  You watch him shrug his shoulders or say, “I don’t know,” or in one case, you feel him lean against you as he hangs his head, just not knowing how to respond anymore.

And then, you walk him into his classroom for the first day of second grade.  He’s told you he’s very excited, but also a little nervous.  “That’s all completely normal, son. I always felt the same way, too.”  Yet as the teacher greets everyone and you watch your son place his backpack in the appropriate place, you see his face.  He’s blinking….constantly.  He can’t stop.  The blinking, the scrunching of his face, it’s continuous. It’s like a loop that he just can’t get out of.  You know he’s nervous and inside, you are freaking out.  You rub his shoulders as he finds his seat, telling him he’ll have a great day and to have a good time and you’ll see him at dinner that night.  He only nods his head in reply.  Then you walk very carefully as you leave the school, trying to keep it together. You climb into your car and try to take a deep breath, but you’re already crying.  You have a blurry ride to work.

For several years, my son has had these occasional tics.  I’ve always mentioned them at his doctor’s appointments, but I wasn’t overly concerned and neither was his doctor.  I often thought it was just some bad habit he picked up somewhere. I tried to get him to *not* do whatever it was he was doing, whether it was the constant blinking, the shoulder shrug, the waving of the hands, the humming or the blowing on his hands.  Last year his teacher commented on a few of the more disruptive ones (the humming/clearing of his throat in particular), but mostly no one seemed to notice.   But this past summer, his eye blinking/tilting of his head became so obvious, that everyone mentioned it.   And after that first day of school, I just couldn’t deny it anymore.  I spent part of that morning looking up body tics in children, and what everything told me was that it appeared more in boys and in nearly 25% of the population.

Yet I really needed someone else, preferably a medical professional, to tell me that my son was really ok.  And that he would grow out of it, hopefully, and he wouldn’t be ostracized by the other kids.  That, in all honesty, was my main fear.  Kids get a helluva lot meaner the older they get. They become less tolerant of any kind of difference.  My boy is already a giant among kids his age and although he has certainly embraced his height, body tics are harder to accept.

At the doctor’s office, I told our physician what was going on. He already knew about the tics but I explained my concerns from the summer and the beginning of school.  We talked about anxiety and stress and how it can aggravate tics more.  He himself had a humming tic when he was in medical school.  We talked about transient tic disorder, which is what it appears my boy has.  Stress makes it worse, and for Bri, being tired also makes the tics increase and rotate.  (During the first week at school, when we were reading just before bedtime, he would have 4 or 5 tics in a rotation for several minutes until he could finally settle down.)  If things get worse, if the tics become so distracting to himself or to others in the classroom, then we can try medication.  But until then, if the tics are not too bad, particularly on “normal” days (not during a stressful event) then we do nothing.  We just wait it out.  And in all likelihood, the doctor said, my son would grow out of this.  It may not happen until he’s a teenager, but he still should grow out of it.

briticI will tell you that I was greatly relieved when I left that office.  I know that it’s possible my boy will always have one or more of these tics for his entire life. (In fact, my husband has a little tic that most people don’t know about because it’s pretty minor, and he usually only does it when he’s stressed out.) And it’s also possible that he could develop more verbal tics and be the beginning of Tourette’s.  I’m hoping it’s not.  But you know what? Even if it is, I hope I can help him deal with it better than I have.  I know now that I did everything wrong. Telling my kid to try to suppress these movements, makes them 10 times worse. If he did suppress them, he would get to the point where he’d nearly scream with frustration and tic even harder.  I had him take deep breaths to try to slow them down at least, but that didn’t work either.  “I just can’t help it, Mom,” he has said on many occasions. I didn’t believe him.  I really did everything wrong.

Now I’m trying to do something right.  My friend, Denise, a former special education teacher, suggested I give my boy a “line” he can say if someone asks, “What’s wrong with you?”  I told him to just say, “It’s called a tic and it’s no big deal and *nothing* is wrong with me.”

And if that doesn’t work, I also signed him for Krav Maga lessons. So that might help, too.

 

 

No more

I have something to confess.  It’s taken me a few years to finally admit this to myself.  I’ve whispered it under my breath to try it out, to hear it out loud.  I choke up when I say it because it doesn’t sound right.  But I know it *is* right.  It’s who I am now, and it’s ok. 

Here I go…

I am not

fat.

*phew* I did it! I said it!

So…are you done laughing now? Done scoffing? Telling me what a bitch I am?  If you’re done, then let me explain.

Being a fat girl and woman for 37 years, is not immediately undone when you lose weight.  I’ve talked about body dysmorphia before, when I look in the mirror I often see myself 85 pounds ago.  But now that it’s been over 4 years since I’ve lost that weight and kept it off, I’m starting to see my true reflection in the mirror more and more.  And I like what I see.  Most of the time. 

And now that I’ve admitted to the world that I am no longer a fat girl, it’s time that I cleaned off my book shelves, too. I’ve been holding on to a collection of books and journal articles about losing weight, getting fit and a bunch of inspiring photos of folks who have lost massive amounts of weight. I actually pulled the books off the shelf several weeks ago, but haven’t been able to take them from my home.  I kept thinking that I might need them again soon. I know how quickly one can gain a few pounds, but I also know how anal retentive I am, particularly about my weight. So finally, today, I decided that enough was enough. I put the books in a bag and into my car.  I’ve decided that it’s time to stop looking elsewhere for inspiration.

To the library book sale you go!!

Just look in the damn mirror, Holly. 

And that goes for you, too. Think you can’t lose those 10 or 50 pounds you’ve been complaining about?  Bullshit.  Not enough time to exercise?  Do 5 jumping jacks before you take a shower or jog in place while waiting in any line.  Don’t want to look like an idiot?  No one gives a damn what you do or what you look like, so stop thinking that they do.  Can’t run a 5K? Just put one foot in front of the other.  I promise you, it is *really* that simple. 

If you need a cheerleader, I will be there with pom poms and a bull horn, just don’t expect me to do a high kick.  And if you really want a book for extra inspiration, I’ll keep the bag in my car for a while.  Don’t make me quote Nike, ok?  You know what to do.

Just a little update

Thank you to everyone who has inquired about my health and my husband’s.  You’re a good bunch!

My pancreas is still a bit cranky, but not what it was.  Just in the past two weeks, I’ve finally felt like my old (or rather, young) self.  Most of my energy is back and I can run more than I could before.  This healing business has been a horribly long process!

As far as my husband’s health goes….well…it’s not the best.  He’s had to increase the amount of insulin and the amount of times he injects himself.  He monitors his blood sugar more now, and I think that’s a good thing.  He’s more conscious of what he puts into his mouth and tries to make better decisions.  I still have hope for the old fella!

You know, the funny thing about his blood sugar?  When he sees that the number is low and he’s done something right the day before as far as eating, it perks him right up.  Yet when he gets a pretty high and to him, a discouraging number, he feels bad about himself.  For those of you who have struggled with your weight, does that sound familiar?  Each time I weigh myself, I have those highs and lows, too.  My husband has become a smidge more empathetic to my constant struggle. (And hopefully, I’m a bit more empathetic to his struggle, too.)

And for you animal lovers?  Your comments and hugs (virtual and real-time) have been overwhelming.  We talk about Stanley often, and my son has done tremendously well, especially once he took part in Stanley’s burial.  Our other cat, Miso, is doing a bit better now, too, although he “talks” much more than ever before. Stanley was always the *loud* talker of the two.  Maybe Miso feels like he can finally get a word in edgewise?

Thanks again, folks.  Hopefully there won’t be any more health or death-related posts for some time!

 

 

 

Stanley AKA Ninja Kitty

sweetstan&miso

This is my sweet Stanley.  Beautiful, isn’t he?  Each day, Stan and that other sweetie you can see a glimpse of behind him, Miso, goes outside to roam our land, catch mice, play with bugs, and do anything they want to.  And each evening, both cats tend to meet us at the door, or they will come when we call with a bag of treats before bedtime.  This has been our routine for the past 2 years.  So when Stanley didn’t show up one evening, we all began to worry.

I spent the next morning looking for him while taking a walk, calling his name occasionally.  The day after that, I ran up and down the road while checking all of the ditches.  By day three, I had pretty much given up hope of finding him.  When my son asked me that night if I still had hope, I just shook my head no.  As he choked back his sobs, he yelled at me and told me I couldn’t give up yet.  “Mom, maybe somebody took him in or maybe he’s been out there fighting in the night.  He *is* Ninja Kitty, after all!”

bri&stan

Because of the words of my little boy, I *did* have hope.  If I started to think about the situation rationally, I thought Stanley would never be back.  I grew up in (and still live in) a rural area.  Coyotes have taken/eaten several of our cats before.  We have bears and foxes in the area, too.  And we have people…in cars.  BUT, maybe somebody really *did* have him at their house.  It was possible.  Anything was possible, right?

A day or two later, a week since we last aw Stan, we made “Lost Cat” posters and put one up outside of our home.  Bri and I set out to walk to the stop sign at the end of our road to put another poster up there.  Everyone in our neighborhood would see that one for sure, and maybe someone would have an answer for us.  As we started down the road, though, I started to smell something.  I knew whatever I was smelling was dead and decomposing.  If you run or walk much outside, particularly in Maine, you know this odor.  As I neared the area where the smell was the strongest, I held my breath, hoping to find a bird or a groundhog.

And there he was.

I wasn’t sure at first.  I thought it was a large bird. Then I saw glimpses of his beautiful grey fur….and his lovely tail.

Briar was lagging behind me, so he didn’t see anything.  I told him I needed to go ask his Papa something.  I walked into the house and whispered, “I need you to look at something for me.”  Walter looked at my face and said, “Oh, no.”  He went out and confirmed what I already knew.  That’s when I started to cry.  I tried to hold myself together, but as Walter told Bri that Stanley had been hit by a car and was dead, my son started to howl and I cried along beside him.  Bri kept yelling, “I want him back! I want him back!  It’s not fair!”  He cried and screamed as we walked back to the house, then threw himself on his bed and cried some more.   He threw things around in his room, as he continued to cry, “It’s just not fair!”

I completely agreed with him and told him so.  I didn’t say anything about Stanley being in a better place, because I don’t believe that.  I just told my son that he was right.  It sucked, it wasn’t fair and I wish we could have him back, too.  But we can’t.  So we talked about how great Stanley was and how sweet and cuddly he was and how he really did have a good life with us.  After Bri calmed down, he asked to play a video game for a bit.  I immediately said yes.  I wanted him to just “escape” for a while, and maybe I could, too.  While my husband stayed home with our boy, I took a walk and listened to a trashy novel and just tried to get away for a bit.  We now knew what had happened and we could have a little bit of closure.

But there was still a problem.  How do we bury him?

Poor Stanley’s body was not what it had been.  Although I had looked in the ditches for nearly a week, I never saw him the entire time.  Yet now that I knew where he was, it seemed so obvious.  There’s a spot on the road and the grass is patted down in front of where his body lay.  Why didn’t I ever see it?  How could I have missed this?  But I did.  Many times.

But now I needed to get his body across the road to my yard, where he can be buried under our spruce tree.  My husband didn’t think we could do it.  He used a term to describe Stanley’s body that I refuse to repeat.  It made me angry and I couldn’t think of our beautiful cat in that manner.  So when my husband went off to work this morning, I found a box, gloves and a shovel.  I told Bri we would bury Stanley later in the morning, but I needed to get him ready first.  Briar agreed and would stay inside until I told him it was ok to come out.  And as I was getting ready to go outside, my lovely brother called to say he would be down to help me.  His timing is truly impeccable. :)

As I started to dig around and under Stanley’s body, I thought that it was amazing (and fortunate) I had never had to do this in my life up to this point.  I thought of gardening and digging in the dirt and anything but what I was really doing.  After a few minutes, I knew I needed to try on the other side of the ditch to get a better grip on the dirt underneath Stan’s body.  But…that’s when I saw his face….his profile….and I started to talk to Stanley.  “Oh, sweetie,” I whispered and I started to cry.  I kept digging and realized that I just couldn’t pick up all of him.  It just wasn’t possible.  Which made me cry even more.

My brother arrived at this point, took the shovel from me, and lifted what he could of sweet Stanley, and placed him in a box.   It was just too much to do any more.  It was too heartbreaking.  So I closed the box, carried it across the street, and dug a hole.  Briar came outside at this point, and after I placed the box in the ground, the three of us buried Stanley together.  We talked about what a great cat he was and how much we’ll miss him.  It was simple and cleansing in a way, you know?  In kind of felt good.  I did the best I could by Stanley.  I refused to let his body stay in that ditch, and I allowed my son to take part in a brief ceremony that helped him say goodbye.

And helped me say goodbye, too.

You were a damn cool cat, Stanley, and impossible to forget. I love you.

In sickness and in health….

This afternoon, in a quiet voice with tears building behind my eyes, I said to my husband, “I hate you just a little bit right now.”

He replied with a sigh, “I know. I hate me right now, too.”

Today, due to years of unhealthy habits, my husband was required to start using insulin.

He’s been diabetic for quite a while now and has taken medication on and off.  He’s overweight and unhealthy and has done nothing about it.  He eats a lot of fast food and drinks soda and never exercises.  His favorite pastimes are playing video games, watching movies and reading.

And you know what?  I am royally pissed off right now.  Both my son and I just watched my husband, as he injected himself in the belly with his first shot of insulin.  My son couldn’t watch and turned away while plugging his ears, asking me to tell him when it was over.  But I stood there and watched.  I wanted to see this.  I wanted to show him that yes, I will watch him do this to himself, like I watched him consume tons of junk food and sugar and carbonated beverages over the 19 years we’ve been together.

Did I ever try to help him, you may ask?

I

tried

everything.

I sympathized and offered to make him better lunches.  I empathized and asked what can I do to help.  I asked him to walk with me. To run with me.  To lift weights with me.   I carved out extra money from the household budget to buy healthier foods.  I begged, I ignored, I yelled, I cried.

What the fuck else was I to do?!?

I kept thinking that once we had a child, my husband might start to eat a little better or try to get a little exercise.  I thought that having the responsibility of caring for a little person, and being a good example for another human being, would be enough to *want* to change.

But it wasn’t.

Yet the thought of possibly going on insulin made him change, although it was already too late.

Last week, he began nutrition counseling for diabetes, and since then has attempted to cut soda from his life and start eating well.  He’s keeping a food diary and for the first time in many, many years, I can see that he’s really trying to do this right.  The other night, he called on his way home saying he was bringing dinner.  I thought it might be Chinese food or some kind of takeout, because that what it would have been a month ago.  Yet he came home with a roasted chicken and grapes and all the fixings for a salad.   I was stunned….and a little bit giddy.   Is this his tipping point?  Is the threat of insulin shots what he needed all along?  And now that he’s officially on insulin, will he continue to eat right (or attempt to) and maybe exercise?

I have hope.  I have a lot of anger, too, but I’m trying to let that go. (I’m especially angry that I need to learn how to inject him with the “special” syringe if his blood sugar becomes so low that he goes into a coma.  I’m not happy that I have to even know about this, but I’ll learn it because I don’t want my husband to die.)  I know he’s a bit depressed right now, and he’s angry at himself, too.  He can’t believe that he let himself get to this point…and honestly, I can’t either.   I had hoped he would have learned from his father (who is also on insulin).  So to try and break this horrendous pattern, my husband wanted Bri to watch him take the insulin shot, hoping it would scare him so much that Bri would eat better and become more active so he wouldn’t ever have to take insulin himself.

Want to hear my theory?  You need to set a good example, be a good model of behavior, then perhaps your children will follow your lead.  But do as I say and not as I do?  Bullshit.

So…where does this leave us?

Exhausted and sad but hopeful.  With a weight loss of at least 50 pounds, maybe he can get off of insulin.  It can happen.  But I can’t make my husband eat right and exercise.  My son can’t make his father healthy.  There’s only one person who can make this happen.

Just one.

You can do this, Wally.  I have faith in you. <3

 

 

 

 

Mt Pleasant Road

DSCN2405

One of the many lovely views on my walk.

I may live in Maine, but I don’t live near the ocean.  I’m at least 2 hours away from the coast, and that’s if the traffic isn’t too bad.  I live about an hour from any kind of lake that has a beach.   In the summertime, I often wish I lived elsewhere—near ANY body of water.  Yesterday, my family and I went to the coast to eat lobster rolls and smell the sea water, then went swimming in a pond at a state park.  It was absolutely lovely.   Yet we spent more time *in* the car then out.  The drive was beautiful, but it gave me little twinges of envy of those that live on the coast.

This morning, I woke up to a warm, sunny day.  I dressed in my running gear,  but told my husband I would only be walking.   I just wasn’t in the mood for a run.  I wanted to be outside and moving, but my body was tired and my pancreas was irritated at all the food I had eaten the day before (lobster dipped in butter, ice cream, Chinese food, yikes!).  So I downloaded a new audio book (Nora Ephron’s I Remember Nothing–it’s hilarious) and headed outdoors.  As I walked along at a decent clip with Nora reading to me, I took the time to really admire where I live.

I’ve lived in my little town of Levant for over 12 years now.  My street, Mt Pleasant Road, is a place that I have known since birth.  My mother was born here and my grandmother still lived here until I was in my late 20s.  It’s always been a place that I’ve loved, but more because of the people that were here and not the actual land or location.  I sometimes wish I lived in Bangor or any place that had a grocery store. (It’s 20 minutes to the closest grocery store or pharmacy.)  Yet, after coming back from nearly any shopping outing, I tend to comment on my appreciation of the lack of traffic on my road or the fact that I can see the stars at night.

As I walked my road this morning, I really looked at the wide variety of trees we have here. Everything just looked so beautiful to me today, that I walked an extra mile (and maybe ran a smidge) to get back to my house and get my camera.  I inhaled the smell of warm hay as I passed a field.  I took my headphones off as I passed a little swamp and listened to the loud croaking of the frogs (and actually saw one for the first time).   I just took the time to truly appreciate this place I currently call home.   (I also continuously swatted the horse flies that flew around my head, but let’s pretend that part didn’t happen.)

My home may not be near a beach and it may not have any shopping facilities nearby, but this location is aptly named–it’s a pleasant place to live.  I don’t know if I’ll live here forever (the older I get, the less I want to own a house), but for right now, I am happy to be here, and I love being able to share it with you.  If you ever want to visit, just let me know.  We may even see one of the many animals that live here–turkeys, turtles, rabbits, deer, skunks, or groundhogs.  And I’ll even swat away the horse flies for you. I’m just that kind of gal. :)

A letter to my pancreas

pancreasDear Pancreas,

I know. I know you’re angry with me.  Last week, you made it very clear you were pissed off.  I realize now that you were trying to tell me several weeks ago, with those little twinges.  But…..can you please tell me why?  What did I do wrong?   Have I treated you badly?

I eat right, Pancreas, you know I do.   I exercise—and don’t tell me running hurt you because that’s bullshit and you sound just like my father when you say that.  I rarely drink alcohol. You and I know my weekly glass of wine  (or margarita) did not do this.

So what is it?  TELL ME!!

Is it….could it….is this because of how I spoke to you and my entire body?  Because I hated you and criticized you and wished you were something else?  But…it wasn’t YOU, it was the rest of my body!  You know! My belly, my arms, legs, back, ass….

Oh.

I guess it sounds like the *entire* body, huh?  But don’t you remember?  I told you and the whole body that I would love it more this year, that this was the year I would appreciate all of you and realize all the gifts you give me.  I didn’t do that?

No. I guess I didn’t.  I’ve really tried though.  I’m trying to love all of you and not nitpick about my saggy stomach (which I greatly appreciate that sagginess now that it’s not filled with 10 pounds of fluid!) or my floppy arms or my aching back.  And Pancreas? I do love you, no matter how much you hurt me.  I need you and I love you.  I love that in the past, you’ve allowed me to eat nearly anything I wanted (besides gluten, but that’s not your fault) and you worked so perfectly as I fueled my body to get ready to run races and along my road and even a half-marathon last year.  Remember?   You’ve been amazing to me.  I appreciate you. I truly do.

I will do whatever it takes to win your love back.  I will eat bland and mashed food (like the doctor ordered) until you heal…until you feel like yourself….until you feel worthy of my love once again. I’ll even listen to Weird Al’s song, Pancreas, just for you.love panc

We *will* live in harmony once again, Pancreas.  We’ll have a milkshake or even an apple, and it will feel good.  There will be no pain.  It will be like this never happened.  Like it was just a bad dream.

I’ll take care of you, Pancreas.  I love you.

Yours,

Holly