Tag Archives: asking for help

Hibernating

I'm in here somewhere

I’m hibernating.

It’s not my natural state of being, so I am completely out of my comfort zone.

I’m typically the whirling dervish Mama Bear nabbing a teddy for Jakey Bear, collecting warm fur blankets for Mary Beary and gathering wheat and dairy-free nuts and berries for Emily Bear so the den will be sweeter smelling for all of us during our long winter’s nap.

But somewhere in the midst of my busy-ness I hear Papa Tom Bear pathetically pleading:

“Sweetie, just stop. You’re sick. Go to bed.”

My husband normally doesn’t have a pathetic bone in his body, and he don’t beg fo’ no one. But he’s worried about me.

After two ER visits, a 9-day stay in the hospital and a diagnosis of shingles to my eye and left side of my head, I am finally home with strict orders to rest.

The sad thing is, rest is the only thing that makes me feel better. The pain in my head ranges between 1 and 4 on a scale of 1 to 10, it looks like I’m wearing a Star Trek Klingon mask over half my head, and the IV on my left hand gave me phlebitis, a blood clot that made my hand and arm bruised, swollen and unable to move without a boatload of pain.

phlebitis

My husband tells me that the phlebitis is God doing for me what I can’t do for myself. It forces me to stay away from work, typing, and chores. It also teaches me humility as I ask for help with simple tasks like tying my pants, fastening buttons, and opening lids. My mother-in-law drove me home from the hospital and took care of me my first day home. In the middle of my first hot bath in forever, I had to call her in to ask if she would shave my right armpit. I’m not sure if I was more grateful or embarrassed.

I am tired all the time. I stumble out of bed around 9:00, eat a couple of bites of something and park myself on the sofa. By noon I’m back to bed. I get up again around dinner time, then return to bed a few hours later.

I don’t always sleep. At 3:00 in the morning they call that insomnia, but at 3:00 in the afternoon it’s called… I don’t know what. During the wee hours I grab my iPad, which doesn’t seem to know if it should be horizontal or vertical while I’m lying down, so the screen often resembles a prop plane in a tailspin. I post my progress on Facebook and I’m amazed at the outpouring of well wishes. My friend Gabe responded that Facebook saved him while he was recuperating from back surgery. I read about everyone’s Thanksgiving dinner, their Black Friday shopping experiences and how they’re now setting up their Christmas trees. I press the “Like” button often. It’s comforting to virtually experience their lives, even if it is only in a sentence or a photo.

The afternoons I lie in bed in and out of sleep and listen to the sounds of my family going on with their lives without me: Emily chatting and giggling on the phone with her friend; Mary singing Adele’s Rolling in the Deep at the top of her lungs; Jake dragging his 3×3 foot plastic waffles across the living room floor, building an elaborate house; Tom yelling at the dogs for snagging his lunch. Even though I’m not participating, I love being home to experience it, even if it is just audibly.

The phone rings a lot, mostly with people offering to help. We’ve received two roasted chickens, baguettes, a variety of salads, tuna salad, two turkey roll ups, a dozen deviled eggs and a pumpkin pie. I tell people we’re fine with meals, but when my friend Sam offered to bring baked ziti for dinner tomorrow night, I caved. I love a good ziti. We’re still accepting rides to and from school, and it’ll probably take me all spring to make up the car pool commitment.

My friend Lisa offered to spend a couple of hours cleaning my house. It is a testament to a very good friendship for her to not only sincerely make such and offer, but for me to actually take her up on it.

Mary gave me a hug the day I came home from the hospital. “You’re so skinny, Mommy!” she remarked. I’m embarrassed to say that I was thrilled by that comment. I lost 10 lbs., and I still don’t have much of an appetite. But I would definitely trade the reduction of two dress sizes to get my old life back.

About a week ago, I started to become a little more lucid and asked my husband to bring my laptop to the hospital. I spent about two days drafting my blog Shingles! – More Painful Than Childbirth and somehow thought that it would magically transpose itself from my brainwaves to the Internet. I didn’t really factor in the effort of actually typing the thing – especially with one hand.

I typed a little. Slept a little. Typed some more. Slept longer. I finally finished it and was just checking the typos when my body shut down.

I remember my husband telling me a story of how he was watching a women’s triathlon with his ex wife, and there were two contestants running neck and neck more than a mile ahead of any other runner, when only a matter of yards away from the finish line, both their bodies shut down. My husband imitates something that looks like a headless chicken flailing, rolling, and flapping its limbs helplessly as the other participants ran past them to win.

This is how I felt on the last few typos:

Small i. Need capital I. Where’s shift? Hold shift. Keep holding. Where’s I? Hold shift. Tap I. Almost. Almost… got it.

I uploaded the blog around midnight, then slept through the night and most of the next day. The day after that I was released from the hospital, and I slept most of that day as well.

So now I sit here, my first time typing longer than a few answered emails. I’ll upload it, have a few bites of dinner, then go back to bed.

This post is longer than I would have liked, but I just don’t have the energy to go back and edit it.

It might be a while before I post another blog.

I’ll be busy hibernating.

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Filed under Anxiety, Friends, Humor, Husband, Illness, Parenting, Recuperating

Rainy Days and Too Much to Carry Always Get Me Down

Mary Belle's broken umbrella

This morning I awoke to the sound of the sprinklers hitting the window way too early in the morning, only to realize that it was actually raining. I swear it was over 90 degrees only a couple of days ago. And because it rains so seldom in Los Angeles, it throws everyone into a tizzy – including myself. Yes, I heard the weather prediction, but I didn’t believe it.

So at 6:45 am I realized that my 5-year old is now three sizes too big for last spring’s rain boots, that he doesn’t own a waterproof hoodie, and that my windshield wipers merely smear, not wipe. I also discovered that every umbrella we own is broken. There were a variety of reactions from my kids about this piece of news. My rebel oldest daughter refused to take a broken umbrella, and I’m sure she was aiming to stand under a rain gutter just so she could wear her soaking wet clothes as a badge of honor. My 10-year old didn’t seem to care that the umbrellas were broken – she just wanted the prettiest one. And my son refused to take the girlie umbrella, even though that was the only one his size.

Today’s rain reminded me of an incident about ten years ago. Mary Belle was just a baby in an infant carrier, and Emily was about 4-1/2 years old. She had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes the year before, and we carried a bag of syringes, insulin, glucose tabs, Glucagon, glucose meter, lancets, and strips everywhere we went. Fortunately Emily performs pack mule duty with her diabetes kit these days, but back then, it was a large bag, and I’m the one who carried it.

Anyway, we were headed to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese’s for one of Emily’s friends, and it was raining cats and dogs. Emily fell asleep on the way to the party, and when we arrived, I couldn’t wake her up (don’t worry – it wasn’t a diabetic coma… she was just taking a very hard nap).

It was a busy day at Chuck E. Cheese’s, so I parked at the far end of the parking lot. I picked up Emily and figured I could lay her down in the booth inside until she woke up. I scooped up Mary Belle in the infant carrier. Then the diabetes kit. The diaper bag. My purse. The birthday gift. And a bag of toys that were left at our house from the last playgroup that included the guests that were coming to Chuck E. Cheese’s. Then, balancing all these items with my arms, legs, elbows and knees, I struggled to open the umbrella and move everyone out of the car. I did a little twist with my hips and slammed the car door with my butt.

Unfortunately, I was physically incapable of straightening. I could feel the bags slipping. The umbrella caught a gust of wind and I lost it. I was suddenly caught in the downpour and the girls and I were completely drenched. Emily woke up. Mary Belle started wailing. The birthday present fell in a puddle along with the bags.

Just then, a friend of mine and her daughter approached. They were also going to the party. She asked, “Can I help you?”

I said, “No, I’m fine.”

And then I started to cry.

It was the first time as a mom that I realized that I really, truly needed help, that there was no physical way for me to do this on my own. My friend scooped up the bags, her daughter picked up the gift, and Emily was finally awake enough to walk on her own.

I blubbered all the way across the parking lot to Chuck E. Cheese’s. And I suddenly accepted the fact that it’s not so bad asking for help when you need it. I doubt my friend was keeping score, as in, “I helped Cathy in the rain so now she owes me big time,” which was one of my great fears about asking for help. She was just being kind. And by trying to do it all on my own, I was being stubborn. And foolish. And stupid.

I’m still not very good at asking for help, but I’m getting better.

I had originally thought of playing around with the song Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down and titling this week’s blog Rainy Days and sleeping-children-and babies-in-infant-carriers-and-diabetes-kits-and diaper-bags-and-purses-and-birthday-presents-and-a-bag-of-lost-and-found-toys-and-a-broken-umbrella Always Get Me Down, but it would have been just too dang long.

In conclusion:

I believe if God was just a little bit smarter and kinder, he/she would instantly grow an additional arm for every mother of young children whenever it rains. That, and give her the humility to ask for help.

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Filed under Anxiety, Friends, Humor, Multitasking, Parenting