I’ll Start All Over Again

So much has happened since the last time I posted! Guess I’ll try to summarize the last few months.

On March 25th, my boyfriend and I FINALLY moved into our dream apartment. Thank goodness for my WONDERFUL friends and my boyfriend’s amazing parents! We never could have done it without everyone’s help. From helping with the actual moving, to cooking dinner for us, they truly came through for us. I will be forever grateful.

On April 21st I stumbled over the dip for a handicapped ramp and broke my foot. Since this was the second time I have broken the same bone, the orthopedic surgeon decided the bone would not heal on it’s own. So, I am now sporting a lovely pin and a bone graft from my heel. I’ve been on a leave of absence since the day I was hurt. I can’t drive which is driving me bananas! however my friends have been amazing and have made this ordeal sooo much better. 

I hit a major milestone in May. With family and friends gathered, I celebrated the big 5-0! My mom, her two sisters, and my two youngest sons drove a great distance to spend a few days with me. My boys worked in cahoots with my boyfriend to suprise me! Even more suprised was my mom! She hadn’t seen my third son in EIGHT years! I had an amazing time with my boys so very much. My mom and aunts worked their fannies off to help me get the apartment squared away. I LOVE MY FAMILY SO MUCH!

During this forced time off, I started researching getting a revision to my weight loss surgery. I’ve not had near the results I expected and am still morbidly obese. Well, that kind of went south when I realized the cost involved. However I found a few support groups, on Facebook of all places. The support has been amazing. That is when I realized that I had not been following the proper post-op diet for the last 7 1/2 years. I knew going in to this that I would have to alter the way I ate. But I fought the change and ate whatever I wanted. Not suprisingly, I’ve started to regain…to the tune of 50 pounds. So, I vowed to go back to the post-op diet (low carb/high protein/high fat) once and for all. I’m thrilled to report a loss of approximately fifteen pounds in the last 2 months! I’m finally starting to see a difference and MAN what a difference it makes!

I’m set to go back to work on 6/24, and am I ever ready! I’m thrilled that I will be allowed to work from home now, and will only have to go into the office once a week. I am so very blessed. My boyfriend has been absolutely amazing. He didn’t blink at having to shoulder the greater financial responsibility while I have been out of work. He took care of me completely while I was incapacitated. Without complaint. He has been extraordinarily supportive of my menu changes and is willing to help however he can. All while he boosts my self-esteem daily. He’s amazing. 

Much like his parents, who not only helped us move but have been there every single time we’ve called on them. His mom to me to a gynocologist appointment for goodness sakes! On Memorial Day she mentioned she was leaving for a trail ride in Colorado the next day, and would be passing through my home state. When I lamented that I missed my mom, she offered to drop me off there while she was driving through! The next morning at 7:00, I was packed into her truck an on my way home. I had almost 2 fabulous weeks with my mom and stepdad. There just isn’t a better medicine than that. 

Time for bed. I’m going to my second post-op appointment tomorrow morning. I’m ever so hopeful I’ll be given the okay to drive again!

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Various and Assorted Maladies

Well, here I am four (five?) months since my last post, preparing to work third shift yet again. Hopefully I can get in some doctor appointments with this schedule within the next couple of weeks.

My knee hurts. All the time. When I walk, it hurts. When I sit, it hurts. When I lie down, it hurts. It feels swollen and like it’s full of fluid. It’s worse when I don’t move it for an extended time, such as when I’m sitting on the couch watching TV, or when I sit on the phone all day at work. I’m not even 50 (yet) so I don’t understand why I’ve got such issues with my joints. My thumb joints and elbows hurt all the time too, and when I try to lift my leg to get into the car, it causes pain in my hip. I’ve had an appointment with an arthritis specialist scheduled since OCTOBER but it’s still 2 weeks away. I just hope they can do something. ANYTHING has to be better than nothing.

Next malady. My abdomen cramps, daily. Every time I move a certain way (and I’ve not nailed it down to which way that is), my abdomen cramps. Every single time I have a bowel movement, my abdomen cramps. I’m concerned that it’s because of the mesh placed during my hernia repair surgeries. I only trust my original surgeon (who also did my weight loss surgery) to look into this, but I don’t want to go to him because I know I’ve gained weight and he will be SO disappointed.

My left foot hurts. My primary care doctor says it’s a plantar’s wart, but he was hesitant to remove it because it’s so close to the bone of my foot. Sooo, another specialist that will take months to get into is in order. Thank goodness I have insurance!

I’ve gained weight, and I hate myself because of it.

Yep, that sums up my life right now.

That is all.

Tick, Tick, Tick…

I just can’t sleep. My oldest child, my baby boy, is hurting. I don’t know how to fix it, and it’s killing me inside. Worst of all, it’s my fault. I failed my son. I failed to instill him the knowledge that he is a worthwhile human being just for being exactly who he is. My own self-image issues have come to roost in my son and I and don’t know what to do about it. He refuses to seek professional help. My family is plagued with depression issues. My grandmother, my father, me, and now my son. I’ve been on medication for years. I even stopped taking my medication at one point and sent my filled prescriptions to my son, but he wouldn’t take them.

This is the thing…he’s 30 years old and he is a handsome man. I don’t say that because he is my son, but because it’s the truth. He’s got a wicked sense of humor, is smart as a whip, and writes beautifully. He’s a stalwart friend and a fierce defender of injustice. I know these things about him, as do the rest of his family. Unfortunately this knowledge is hidden from the person who matters the most: himself.

He had some rough years recently. He was in a serious car accident a few years ago, which ended his Navy career. Since then, he’s been adrift. About a year and a half ago, it came to a crashing crescendo. He lost his job, his fiancee called off the wedding and left him, his car was repossessed, and he was evicted. He was at rock bottom.

How I have worried about child. Probably more than the other three put together. At his lowest, his father, who has a new family now, refused to give him a place to live ,even though they resided in the same city. So, he was going to come live with me. However, his brother in the Air Force, said, “Hey, come live with me. I’ll keep you afloat until you can get on your feet again”. so I used the money I was going to spend on bringing him here to Tennessee on sending him to CA.

I thought it had been a huge success. Although he was unable to get a job in his field (he’s a massage therapist, he did eventually find a job (not a small feat in the recent economy). He’s a hard worker and he’s impressed his bosses considerably. No, it’s not a probably not going to be a career working in a pizza place, but it’s better than being unemployed. He started working out and getting back in shape. He was bonding with his younger brother, who was going through his own tough times with his estranged wife. He seemed like the boy I used to know again. AND he seemed to have finally grown up.

Then he posts on Facebook, the following: “I wish people could understand how much I hate everything about me.”. My false sense of security crumbled. I couldn’t breathe. I called him to see what was going on. I first ascertained that he had NOT been drinking, of course. The entire conversation was “Mom, you don’t understand, I’m a loser, I’m not going anywhere. I have a dead-end job, no woman has shown any interest in me since I broke up with ___ (the ex-fiancee). I had to get a ride home from work from a kid half my age. I’m not a good person. I hate who I am. I’m thirty years old and I’m nothing.” Nothing I said had any impact at all. He was determined to wallow in his self-hate. I hung up the phone and burst into tears.

I worry every day of my life that my precious son will take his own life. How does one cope with such a horrible thought? I feel like impending doom is always just around the corner, and I can do nothing to stop it. I’ve tried to get him to seek professional help. He has steadfastly refused. I’ve tried to tell him that if he doesn’t like the man in the mirror, that he has the power to change what he sees. He says he doesn’t know how.

I’m out of words now. I’m out of ideas. I have no solution. I wish I knew which were the wrong turns I took when I was raising him. I’d redo the whole thing and do it right, if I only knew what and how. He deserved a better mother. He deserved a mother who was an adult not a child playing house.

For now, I just wait for the bomb to go off. And try to keep the ticking from driving me mad.

I’m sorry, my firstborn son. I truly am.

Turning My Schedule Upside Down

I volunteered to work third shift this weekend. It’s possible that I’ve lost my mind! I’ve spent the last two days trying to reset my sleep schedule. It’s been easier than I’d thought, but I have a sinking feeling that turning it back around again is going to prove more difficult. However, it HAS been nice having days off during the week! I was able to have lunch and catch a matinee with a friend on Wednesday, and get some shopping done on Thursday. This of course leaves me with a twinge of guilt about all the things I *should* have gotten done those two days. Things such as cleaning out my closets, folding the laundry that’s still sitting in my dryer, etc. Instead I made cupcakes at three in the morning, slept a LOT, got a massage and just enjoyed some “me” time. 

Speaking of massages, I am a firm believer that everyone should get them regularly. Massages and pedicures should be basic human rights, by golly! Since I started getting them every two weeks, my stress level has decreased and my aches and pains have diminished considerably. I’m convinced that my massage therapist, Drew, has magic in his hands. Healing power, if you will. Massages are now my “go-to” gift for my friends. If you doubt my wisdom, I ask that you spend one hour on the massage table at The Medical Massage Institute of Chattanooga, and then tell me you don’t feel markedly better. That’s a challenge, my friends!

On the subject of closet cleaning, it’s something I simply must do, and soon. I bought two boxes of “no-slip” hangers at Costco (which is seventy hangers) and I’m determined to pare my wardrobe down to just those seventy hangers. There is absolutely no reason I should have more than seventy items of clothing, when I wear the same 5 outfits repeatedly. I know this will work (in theory), if only I’d get off my behind and just DO it! It’s time to part with those “someday they may fit again” clothes. Why is it so very hard? I know my fat butt isn’t going to squeeze into those size 18s again, yet I can’t seem to get rid of them. I guess it’s because that means I have to admit that I have failed. Again. At least Goodwill will fare well from this…eventually. 

 

Good Friends and Good Food!

My Pampered Chef party was a success!  I say this because all my dishes turned out well, people actually attended and we had a good time. I have no idea if anyone placed an order an I really don’t care if they did nor not!  IF I can figure out how the heck to put pictures on here, there will be several…of the food of course. It’s always about the food for me. Once a fat girl, always a fat girl. Oh, wait, I AM still a fat girl, and not just on the inside. 🙂

 

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This was probably my favorite, but then I adore fruit.

The consultant (also my friend) Gail made a Tropical Turkey Salad, with fresh spinach, Smoked deli turkey, mangoes, almonds, red pepper, and purple onion. It was colorful and delicious! The dressing was made with apricot preserves and apple cider vinegar, but it was much too sweet for me. I actually preferred the salad without it.

 

I also had a cheeseball, but forgot to take a picture of it, and it was GONE in no time. It’s a super simple recipe consisting of cream cheese, pineapple, onion, and rolled in chopped pecans. I served it with the old standby, Club Crackers and it was just delish.

My friend, Corrie, brought some fresh salsa she had made, and I must was, it was fabulous!

For dessert I made Tie-dyed Cupcakes and Pretzel Turtles.

 

The Tie-dyed Cupcakes were so pretty!

 

The surprise hit was a trail mix I just threw together. I took a bag of PB&J trail mix from Costco, and tossed in a bag of Chocolate Chip Goldfish, a bag of mini Rolos,  a bag of Almond Joy bits,  a cup of  walnuts (broken up) ,  and a half cup of pecan pieces. It was pretty darn good if I must say so myself.

I only had five people show up, but that’s okay. Everyone left with some food and I think a good time was had by all. Now THAT’s what  I call a successful party!

Of course the downside is that I spent so much time on my feet preparing food that my feet and knees are in a good deal of pain. That too shall pass. Oh, the pain in my gut passed too, so I guess it wasn’t a hernia after all. YAY!

 

 

 

Reader of the Month!

Yep, that’s me. Blush Magazine’s August Reader of the Month. I wrote a little blurb last month extolling the virtues of my most influential teacher, one Miss Mary Louise Aste. I had to keep it under 100 words or less, which was really, REALLY difficult. For my efforts, my little tale will be published in the August edition of the magazine, and I will receive a $50 gift card to The Mellow Mushroom, one of my favorite places to get a great salad.

However, I’m not satisfied. My first thought when I got the email advising me that I had won, was “Was I the only one who entered?”. I’m still not sure that I wasn’t. But the main reason I’m not satisfied is because I had to leave out so many things I wanted to say in order to stay within the word limit.

Miss Aste was a character and a half! She must have been in her late 40’s or early 50’s when she taught me. She was a staunch Catholic, had never been married, and had a wit as sharp as a knife. I adored her and feared her equally. One was not late to Miss Aste’s class. She would lock the door and stick her tongue out at you through the window in the door. She did not take interruptions lightly. She abhorred them. Only the office assistant who had drawn the short straw dared to interrupt her class with a note from the principal or office staff. Announcements over the loudspeaker drew particular ire. Long before we were even in her class, we heard the tails of her throwing chalk and erasers at the speakers. We all surreptitiously scanned the walls by the speakers on our first days in her class, looking for the telltale chalk marks. Her antics were not just the stuff of urban legends, as well learned before too long (much to our secret delight).

Miss Aste was a wonderful teacher. She knew her subjects backwards and forwards and was passionate about them. She made us feel the pain, the anguish, the lost promise of those left buried in the ash from Mt. Vesuvius on the island of Pompeii, frozen in time at the moment of their death. She brought to life the philosophers, senators and emperors from Roman times. She made us curious about the life of the average Roman citizen, who had been, in reality, just like us.  She didn’t limit her stories to just the “old” times.  She regaled us with tales of babysitting her nieces and nephews, growing up in a Catholic school, and her travels to Europe. She was an absolutely fascinating orator.

At Christmas time, we learned holiday songs in Latin, dressed in togas and performed them in front of the class for our grade. It was challenging, fun, somewhat terrifying, and pushed us firmly out of our comfort zone. I can still sing some of those songs in Latin (especially Rudolph, for some reason). It was rumored that she despised the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, so of course, each year her class *had* to serenade her with this song, and she protested and threatened throughout, with the shadow of a smile underneath it all.

She implored us to try new things, embrace life and the things it had to offer. When she discovered that most of us had never tried an artichoke, it became our homework assignment. Each of was to purchase and prepare an artichoke, and report back our thoughts. She even told us how to prepare an artichoke, something I would have never figured out (this was in the dark days before the internet). From that experience I learned two important things: I really do like artichokes and just because you’ve never tried something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

Miss Aste also despised the mundane. She encouraged my Senior class to shun the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” for our final walk, and suggested we opt for “The Triumphal March” from Aida. We made it so. She became frustrated that we didn’t know basic etymology, and so it became a new class one semester. She sponsored the “Greek” club, strictly for 3rd and 4th year Latin students, and taught a semester of Italian. Miss Aste was constantly on the prowl for a new challenge! Her devotees (Aste’s Nasties, as had derisively named  ourselves) were absolutely delighted when it it was announced that she would be our Faculty Senior Sponsor.

Among her activities outside of school, Miss Aste, along with a fellow teacher, was responsible for recruiting volunteers to usher at The Orpheum and North Hall Auditorium. Thanks to her, I saw a host of performances I would never have had the opportunity to see. I saw The Vienna Choir Boys. I attended the “Nutcracker” ballet each year. I was treated to plays starring the likes of Alan Alda, Katherine Crosby, and Vincent Price (I even got Mr. Price’s autograph). I saw Steve Martin perform his one-of-a-kind stand-up routine. Of course, being a teenager at that time, I was particularly thrilled when I was selected to usher for rock concerts such as Kansas, Boston and Rush.

I went back to the school about year after I graduated with my newly born son in tow. For some reason I wanted him to see her, even though I knew it would have no impact on him. I could tell she was disappointed that I hadn’t done more with my life. Of course she didn’t say a single word about it. She cooed over my son and said all the right things. But it was there, underneath. The words didn’t need to be spoken. I should have gone to college, become an independent woman, done something great, adventurous even. Instead I was standing in her classroom, 19 years old, married, with a newborn. I think I know now that I had come for her blessing. And I knew I hadn’t gotten it.  That moment in her classroom I knew with absolute certainty, in the depths of my very soul, that I had failed her. I had made her teachings, her promise of a world full of opportunity, her sense of adventure…all of it….I had made it all a lie. I had undermined everything she had striven to teach me….to teach us. That stark realization is a pain that cuts to my core to this very day. I hope she knows, somehow, that just because I failed her, she did not fail us.

Mary Louise Aste was a phenomenal, inspirational teacher and woman. I am honored to have been her student.