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

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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

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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

Free Holly

“Jeez! You’ll do anything for a vacation,” my brother said to me as he entered my hospital room.

*sigh*

Tuesday morning, I ran my usual 5k. I felt pretty low, but I just thought it was the meds I was taking for what the walk-in PA thought was diverticulitis. I only had a few more days on the stuff, so I wasn’t too worried.  I dragged my butt back out the door to take my son to school, then drove back home to get some breakfast.  It was a piece of homemade bread with turkey and mustard.  I remember this clearly.

I went to work, and one hour in, I was sitting at the circulation desk, reading book reviews, when this incredible stabbing pain in my abdomen made me double over. I was alone at the time.  The patrons were all downstairs (thank goodness) and my boss was on her way back to the library after a school visit.  I don’t think I’ve ever been more happy to see her as I was that day.  When she came up the stairs, I ran to the bathroom, but all I did was curl in a ball and try to hold myself together.  After a few minutes I figured someone might need to use the room, so I went to the workroom to continue my fetal position.  I knew I needed to go to the ER, but I was trying to convince myself that I was ok…..when clearly I was not.

So after a few more minutes of whimpering and sweating, I drove myself to the ER (it’s only a mile up the road, so no worries).  Once I got there, they took me right in.  After having to drink a few bottles of some contrast stuff, I had a cat-scan where they determined that “yes,” something was wrong with my pancreas but not sure what.  This was after several hours of being in excruciating pain.  The thing is? I can’t even blame the doctor, because he wanted to give me a narcotic for the pain but I wanted to drive home.  He finally reassured me that I was not going to be allowed to drive anyway because of the amount of pain I was in.  “Fine,” I snarled.  “Give me what you got.”

My husband was there at that point, and we both decided it would be better if I was transferred to a hospital closer to our home. So I got to experience my very first ambulance ride! (I said I wanted to do new things for my birthday month, but this isn’t quite what I had in mind.)  I thought I was going to be sick on the ride, but thankfully that didn’t happen. Instead, my body waited until I immediately walked into my hospital room, where I found the nearest trash can.  I do like to make an entrance. ;)

The past few days have been filled with ultrasounds and MRIs and NO FOOD (not even ice chips, just wet swabs to moisten my mouth) and medicine that took away the pain, but also took away all feeling and emotion.  I was living in a gray world and fucking hated it.

Yesterday morning, I received my last dose of pain meds.  No more.  I want to be back in the land of light and color and beauty…and food.  (I had my first sip of chicken bullion after 56 hours of nothing but the occasional damp swab, and let me tell you–it was nearly orgasmic.)

I now need answers and I need to get back home.  Neither my son nor husband are sleeping, they’re eating junk every night, and my 7-year-old is now nagging my husband. “Papa! My laundry basket is full and it needs to be emptied before Mom gets home!”  (Now do you understand why I’m so in love with this child?)

So….answers?  There are none.  The docs are treating me for pancreatitis, but they have no idea why I have it.  No gallstones, I’m not overweight, very little alcohol consumption (and now they tell me I should just skip my 1 or 2 glasses of wine a week because it could aggravate the situation—boo!).  I’m the healthiest damn person here!   Now how do I prevent this from happening again?  I still don’t know. I’m truly hoping the doc can tell me something…..anything.

And honestly, I’m not sure they’ll even let me out today, but I’ve offered to arm wrestle the doc if that’s what it takes. :) With my family and friends rooting for me though, I know I can do just about anything.

Ideal

I want to write about today, just so I won’t forget it. So I won’t forget, that as a parent, I really do have days where I not only know what I’m doing, but being a parent can feel easy and fun and absolutely wonderful.

Today was supposed to be a family day.  My husband will be working more during the next few months, so when we knew he wouldn’t be “on call” this weekend, we planned on doing a few simple but fun things away from home and just getting a chance to be outside for a change. (It’s been one helluva winter, no?)  But, as fate would have it, my husband got called out anyway.  So plans needed to change.

My boy had a t-ball practice at 9am, so off we went.  He typically likes to play, but you can  usually see a bit of feet-dragging going on during the practice.  This morning, though, he was in the zone.  He did everything that was asked of him.  When out in the field, he actually ran to every ball instead of waiting for it to come to him.  At batting practice, he worked on batting both sides (he’s right handed but typically bats left), and he ran the bases with enthusiasm.   It was a beauty to see.

Once we arrived home, he knew he needed to take a quick shower (he was several days overdue!), and this is where a bit of the feet dragging kicked in.   He stayed outside for a while, then when he came in he tried to watch tv. (I hid the remote control.) Once I told him that we would not go anywhere nor was he allowed to do anything until he showered, *then* he slowly made his way to the bathroom like it was a walk to the gallows.

We were finally on the road less than an hour later, both hungry and looking forward to a lunch of sushi and miso soup.  We ate at our favorite restaurant, Ichiban, had a fantastic meal with lots of toasting and saying “Cheers!” (his new favorite thing to do) and drank an entire pot of green tea between the two of us.  Everything was tasty and nothing major was spilled.  It was lovely.

The day continued with errands and ice cream and playing in the park.  We didn’t do anything extraordinary, but we were relaxed and the sun was shining and we were having fun by just being together.  There was no misbehaving, no yelling, and no pouting—from either one of us.

On our last stop, the grocery store, every single person we talked to—clerks, anyone who smiled at us, the people parked next to us—my son would say to them, “We had a GREAT day! An AWESOME day!”   It was the absolute sweetest thing.  Throughout the afternoon, Briar would say to me, “You’re the best, Mom,” and “You are just so, so beautiful.”   He was so incredibly happy.  *I* was so happy.   Yes, we did miss my husband and felt bad that he had to work such long hours today, and hopefully we’ll do something together tomorrow.  But for today?  My son and I had one of the happiest days of our lives…and we knew it.

I wish I could explain *why* we were so happy.  We didn’t go to Disneyworld.  We didn’t run a race.  We shopped for groceries and goofed off at a playground in the sunshine and ate at our favorite place and we did all of those things together.  I know it doesn’t seem like much, but it was truly the perfect day.  It was so perfect, that we both wanted to mark the occasion by taking a photo of ourselves before the day was through.

So neither one of us would ever forget it.

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If I could give every single person in the world a gift, it would be to have a perfectly happy day, and realize how happy and wonderful it is *while* it’s happening.  It may in fact be one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had.