Saturday, 14 October 2017
I miss my granddaughters. Heart sick but it's getting better. The scar will heal in time, just as the scar that came with Katie's diagnosis healed.
I posted something on facebook last weekend I think. I was feeling overwhelmed by life, by the world, by loss, by lies, by family. A friend emailed and suggested I try to take better care of myself. Suggested I try meditation.
I found a book in my bookshelf, a book from long ago when I was struggling with the decision to leave my husband. It was only half read, as are most of my self help books. The book is "When Things Fall Apart" by Pema Chodron.
“Most of us do not take these situations as teachings. We automatically hate them. We run like crazy. We use all kinds of ways to escape -- all addictions stem from this moment when we meet our edge and we just can't stand it. We feel we have to soften it, pad it with something, and we become addicted to whatever it is that seems to ease the pain.” A quote from her book.
And when I read this I realized that I always avoid difficult conversations. I avoided them with my stepdaughter, afraid she would do exactly what she did which is run away. I avoided them with my son, afraid he would cut me out of his life, which is what he did. So my avoiding difficult conversations isn't working obviously and the universe basically spent the last month throwing that in my face. Thanks for that:)
So it's time for difficult conversations. Time to face my fears and put myself out there in a gentle, unaggressive way. Time to put myself in harm's way which scares the hell out of me.
And the meditation, it helps. I've managed five days now. I'll probably fail at some point but that's okay too. I'll try again. It's time for me to stop running away as well.
Friday, 6 October 2017
I haven't been writing much for years it seems. I miss it. The words spilling out of my head, coming to rest, not on paper but on the screen. The words are better out of my head. When they stay inside of my head they spin and flutter and generally cause dis ease.
I visited my aunt and my cousins which was lovely. My aunt is waiting for god. She wants to die but her body is not accommodating her just yet. She has become dependent for almost everything physical. She can still feed herself but is unable to even turn herself in bed. Old age is humbling to say the least and she is fighting it with all that she has. Mostly though she is suffering. I pray that pneumonia takes her swiftly.
My son is now living with us again. A year ago I would never have imagined that this would happen. He cut me out of his life. Told me to fuck off. Told me that the best gift I could ever give him would be to never see him again and now he lays on the bed upstairs. He is out of jail. He has no money. No job. Nothing. He has to start over again. And the hardest thing to see, he has not really changed. He has very little insight. He doesn't like looking in the mirror at himself, none of us do. He is selfish, self centered and vain. I feel ill equipped to deal with him but I no longer worry about him cutting me out of his life. I survived that once already.
My step daughter and her partner have decamped from the big guy's house nearby. They lived in the house for two years without paying rent. We wanted to help them out. They had a young baby. It would be better if she could stay home with the baby. We said sweat equity, we said pay the taxes. We should have had an agreement in writing although I doubt that would have changed the outcome. My step daughter likes to live in denial. Don't we all. But sadly that world tends to kick us in the ass when we live there too long. Long story short, they felt abused by us because they weren't paying rent or caring for our property and we felt resentful because her partner thought it was okay to buy guns but couldn't be bothered to cut the lawn.
The kicker though, they left in a huff and told us we can never see our granddaughters again. Because good parents rip people who love their children out of their children's lives. I have no idea what my step daughter told my granddaughter about why she could no longer see her grandparents but I do know that it will come back to bite her in the ass one day because I've lived awhile now and I know that the past never stays in the past. We carry it with us. It intrudes on a daily basis.
And so life goes on. I'm sick now, coughing and hacking, sitting at my computer, watching the sunrise out the window. Things will change, they always do.
Monday, 2 October 2017
Letter to my granddaughter.
I'm sorry I can't be with you today on your birthday. You and your sister have been caught up in adult arguments that have nothing to do with you.
Your poppa and I love you very much and will always love you.
I hope you enjoyed the carrots we planted together this spring. You did such a good job watering them.
Remember to be kind to the dog. He needs love and attention, he doesn't get much of either. And the cat, he's old. Please be gentle with him. His body hurts and probably makes him grumpy sometimes.
I hope you have a wonderful birthday party and remember that your poppa and I carry you in our hearts always.
Saturday, 23 September 2017
Off to visit my aunt today. It's so hard seeing people you love get old and frail. Fran wants to die but her body or her spirit is not cooperating. She always was a stubborn woman. I come by my stubbornness honestly.
I'll get to visit with my cousins as well which will be a nice bonus and I'm thankful I can give this small gift of time to my mother's sister.
Wednesday, 20 September 2017
My Mother's Hands
Things I'm thankful for today.
It's my birthday today. I'm fifty-five. Many of my patients never get to see fifty-five. I am thankful.
I have a home. There are so many in the world who have had to flee their homes. I am thankful.
I have a husband who loves me, just as I am. I am thankful.
I have a job which allowed me to support myself and my son when I was young and we were alone. I am thankful.
I have friends whom I love and who love me. I am thankful.
My children are healthy. I am thankful.
I am healthy. I am thankful.
I am flying to England on Saturday to visit my dying aunt. My mother's last sister. I will remember my mother. I am thankful.
What are you thankful for today?
Saturday, 16 September 2017
Lessons I Never Learned
I didn't have Mrs. Nelson in fourth grade to teach me. Fourth grade was the year I learned about bullies. I learned that I was different. That I didn't fit in. I learned that a friend could laugh at your public humiliation. I learned that life is not fair. I learned that school could become a living hell.
I never learned to stand up for myself. Never thought I was worth standing up for. I didn't understand the unwritten rules of childhood. Didn't know that people lie.
I never learned how to trust love. It always came with caveats. Do this, don't do that. Never unconditional, always conditional on my behavior.
I never learned how to be honest. I only learned how to please others, even at my own expense. Never learned to speak up and be heard over the shouting of others.
I never learned to be kind to myself. Never learned how to love myself.
I never learned how to let go and enjoy the moment or how to stop being afraid.
I never learned to be.
Thank you to Elizabeth for introducing me to the poet Brad Aaron Modlin.
Sunday, 10 September 2017
I've had the week from hell. Family problems which I prefer not to write about here right now. But I righted my own boat which I'm proud of.
I saw the doctor on Thursday for a variety of strange symptoms. Her diagnosis, stress. I told her about my son and she said that he's a grown man, I need to let go. And of course she's right. So on the way back to work I stopped at a book store and a book jumped off the shelf at me. "Maybe It's You" by Lauren Zander. It's basically cognitive behavior therapy which has helped me in the past. So I bought the book and I'm doing the work. And I'm hopeful. Even in the face of overwhelming grief, I'm hopeful. That's something.
My son gets out of jail in two weeks, the same day I land in England. He will be staying with the big guy for a week while I visit my sick aunt. We talk on the phone quite a bit these days. He's still using talking to obfuscate but I call him on it now. I told him that he can stay with us for a few months but he needs to stop the lying and the drinking. When I asked him why he drank he said because he was bored. I called bullshit on that. I told him that he drinks to avoid dealing with things, and he said yeah. He's not really keen on looking at himself in the mirror to see how he is making his life worse. It's so much easier to look outwards and blame others. But all the shit in his life, he has been there for all of it. He is responsible for it, not "others".
I left my son's father when my son was ten months old. I was his father for four years. He was a chronic liar and an alcoholic, although at the time I didn't realize he was an alcoholic. We were young. We all drank too much. I was angry a lot of the time and blamed him for all of my problems until I realized that if I wanted to make my life better, I could. I left because I didn't want my son being lied to his whole life. I thought I could protect my son from his father and his lies. What I didn't count on was genetics.
I need to confront my son's lies instead of avoiding them. It's not okay to lie to me. I don't care if he fucks up, we all fuck up. That's part of life. Come clean about it. Apologize. Do things differently next time. Move forward.
Sunday, 3 September 2017
We just got back from holidays. Too much driving this time, although we did get to see some lovely, remote places. It's good to be back home. I love my bed and it was nice to have a home cooked meal.
The break from work has been a boon for my soul. I read a very good article the other day about caregiver burnout. A quote from the article, Practising compassion in an uncompassionate health system.
"The truth is, our health system rarely encourages or rewards compassionate care, or spending enough time with our patients. On the contrary, we work in a system that systematically bullies, brutalises and burns-out health professionals."
A part of me dreads going back to work and coping once again with the amount of work and a part of me is hopeful that I can make a positive difference in my workplace.
My son remains in jail. He calls often which is difficult. I'm still hurt by his abusive words last year. And I don't trust him at all. He turned out like his father after all which is ironic. I left his father when my son was only ten months old to shield my son from his father. His biological father is an alcoholic, a liar and generally an asshole. He would lie about anything and everything which is what my son does. I wonder if there is a genetic component to lying.
Fall is coming. The days are getting shorter. The shadows are longer. The nights are cooler and the leaves are starting to turn. It's my favorite time of year. But it always makes me sad this time of year too. Summer is over. The long winter lies ahead.
Things I'm thankful for today.
It's my wedding anniversary.
My relationship with my daughter is good.
I'll get a hug from Miss Katie shortly.
Putting my garden to bed.
My home is clean, the floors washed, the laundry is done.
Homemade bumble berry coulis and cheesecake.
What are you thankful for today?
Sunday, 6 August 2017
I haven't been writing because I've been feeling overwhelmed. We are still, always, short staffed at work. That never seems to end. I'm not one to give my patients less just because there is less time which makes me both mentally and physically exhausted. Which leads to a melt down and crying. Which leads to calling in sick, which makes work even more short staffed. Which leads to guilt, which leads to crying. You can see where this is going. Even though I can see it, it's difficult to change direction once I'm going down that road. I am working on it though.
My son is in jail. The same son who told me to fuck off and that he never wanted to see me again. Yes, him. He called about a month ago to let me know that he was in jail. He and his girlfriend had been drinking and fighting. The police were called and he was charged with assault and given a no contact order. Twice. So now he is in jail with two assault charges and four breech of no contact orders. He doesn't get it. He doesn't seem to have any remorse. Doesn't seem to have any deep understanding of his own part in this fucked up play he calls his life. He is a pathological liar but the worst lies he tells are the ones he tells himself. I love him but I don't trust him which is difficult.
And my dog Lucy has been sick which sounds like a country song but it is horrible watching an animal in pain. She is a rescue dog and before she came to us she was used as a hunting dog. I imagine she was run hard and pretty much ignored. Half her teeth are missing. She was skin and bones when we got her. And now she has something called spondylosis which is not fatal, just painful. She also has an enlarged heart. The hardest part though is the space she takes up in our own hearts. She is a sweet, good natured, funny dog that has taken up residence in my heart. To watch her suffer was painful. She is on medication now though for the pain and is feeling much better. She lays curled in a patch of sunshine by my feet as I write this.
My son called again last night. He calls a lot now because well, he's in jail and has nothing better to do. He called last night, only caring about himself and his own life, oblivious to the needs of those around him. After I hung up the phone I felt raw, like my skin had been scraped away, leaving me open to the world. I took the dog for a walk and wanted to cry. I realized that crying won't change anything. Me talking to him won't change anything. This is not my circus. It is his path and I let it go. And then something wonderful happened. Lucy and I went for a long walk and I didn't even think about my son. I relaxed. I enjoyed the trees, the evening, the birds. It was peaceful and I remembered that the world is inside my head and I can decide how I want to feel about it. That it's up to me, not others.
Thursday, 29 June 2017
I assisted on a liver biopsy this morning. An elderly man whose liver was full of tumors, his belly hard and bloated, fluid starting to accumulate around his organs. When we were done he asked when we were going to start fixing him. He broke my heart a little.
There is no fix for him. I'm a nurse and I can't tell him but I hope and pray that the next doctor who sees him tells him how bad his cancer is, how little time he has left. He's a lovely old man who I imagine has worked hard his whole life for his family. He was a miner which can't be an easy job. He came to Canada forty-seven years ago, he had to learn a whole new language at thirty-eight. It can't have been easy for him. He had no complaints, other than feeling tired all the time. He doesn't like feeling tired.
New patients arrive daily. Old patients disappear, never to be seen again, only faintly remembered. Some patients come for many years before they succumb to this horrid disease, others only last weeks. Some are very young, a two and a half year old girl this past month and an eighty-five year old gentleman today. Some have nobody with them, others have their whole family with them. Some are convinced they will beat this disease, others look worn out and tired of treatments that make them feel worse rather than better.
Today I only had maybe ten patients because I worked in ultrasound, assisting with biopsies. It was easier in some ways because there was less grief to deal with. All of my patients carry grief with them and I think it leaks into me at times. There are days when I can manage to witness and honor their grief and there are days when I am too rushed and tired to deal with more grief.
I carry my own grief as well, we all do. Regrets, loved ones we've lost, mistakes we've made. It adds up over a lifetime. Katie's diagnosis was the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with. The grief was overwhelming. It almost killed me but I survived. Perhaps it is the grief in my building that is getting to me. I can feel it around me and I can't turn away from it. It's too important but I need to find a way to witness my patient's grief without carrying it around with me.
Saturday, 17 June 2017
The lesson which life repeats and constantly enforces is
“Look under foot.”
You are always nearer to the divine
and the true sources of your power than you think.
The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive.
The great opportunity is where you are.
Do not despise your own place and hour.
Every place is under the stars,
every place is the center of the world.
Sunday, 11 June 2017
Things I'm thankful for today.
My cold has passed and I have my energy back.
Time to cook .
My garden is blooming.
My daughter called me this morning and we had a lovely chat.
Dishes that are done and drying.
Time to sew.
A walk this evening with the dog.
The laundry is done.
I have a week off.
The greenhouse this morning. More plants for my shade garden. I do love my garden.
What are you thankful for today?
Saturday, 3 June 2017
I've worked in cancer care for the past six years, been a nurse for thirty-one years. Friday we had a young woman, thirty-four I think, come to us for an MRI scan. Query spinal cord compression. She had back pain, incontinence and a seizure on the way upstairs from radiation. Last month she had total brain irradiation for leptomeningeal disease. Her husband was wonderful. They were both wonderful young people. And that's the problem they were young and she's dying.
This past week has had one patient after another about my age with cancer, with advanced cancer. More than once when explaining procedures to patients, both the patient and their spouse have burst into tears. A man two years older than me with stage four bowel cancer with less than a year to live. A twenty-seven year old with stomach cancer and less than a year to live. And it breaks my heart every single fucking time. I'm tired of people dying.
I'm tired of seeing patients come back year after year, or month after month, looking just a little worse each time until they just don't come back anymore. It used to be that I could ignore the fact that I don't see certain people anymore. But then I look back six years and realize all the people that just don't come anymore for scans and it becomes overwhelming, the grief and the pain.
I've become friends with some of my patients. One woman and her husband came to our wedding. I run into people out walking or at the mall. I joke with my patients. I know what some of them do for a living, how many kids they have, that they foster children, that they hate making pickles, that they love chocolate cake. I have a connection with so many of them and that connection keeps getting broken.
I'm feeling overwhelmed lately with their grief and my own grief. My boss thinks it's a job but it's not just a job, at least not for me, and that's what's making it so hard. I'm burnt out.
All of this death is getting to me. I keep thinking about my own mortality and wondering what it is I am meant to do with this one short, precious life of mine and I wonder how I will feel when I am told that my days here are numbered. Will I be satisfied with what I've done, how I've loved? I'm feeling rather old and mortal lately which I suppose scares me a little, a lot.
I have left behind the age of endless tomorrows and I'm struggling to feel at ease with my own mortality.
Monday, 15 May 2017
My son and I aren't really speaking. Last fall he sent me a series of texts in which he told me to fuck off and told me that the best gift I could ever give him would be to never see him again. That didn't stop him from repeatedly asking me for money. A few months ago he texted me to tell me that he had been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder.
My son lives with a woman who has three children, none of them are his. When he told me that he was diagnosed he also asked for money for his rent. I told him no but that I would pay for his medication. I don't know if my son has bipolar disorder or not, the medications he's on are antipsychotics and antidepressants. He was diagnosed by a doctor at a walk in clinic, not a psychiatrist. My son is also a habitual liar.
I have a very good friend who has bipolar disorder. It's a horrible disease. My friend was trending up into mania last week when we were talking about my son and she told me she was surprised that I didn't have more involvement with him because I'm so supportive of her struggle. I told her that I had to protect myself from him and that I don't have to protect myself from her. She is my friend, there is space between us. There is very little space between a mother and her child.
I want to help my son but he is angry with me. Angry that I remarried. Angry that I don't give him money. Angry that I don't do what he wants, when he wants. I don't know how to support him without getting sucked into his lies, so I don't. I keep him at arm's length to protect my own heart.
I just finished reading a very good book about bipolar disorder, "My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward" by Mark Lukach. It gave me more insight into what it's like living with someone with bipolar disorder and the effects it has on a family. But it also made me feel resentful, I already have one dependent adult child, I don't want to care for another one which makes me sound like an awful mother but it's true. I'm tired of taking care of others. I know it's not my son's fault but I can't deal with this right now. It hurts to much. Every time we are in contact he hurts me again so I do feel the need to protect myself.
I need to find a way to support him that doesn't drain me.
Friday, 12 May 2017
I do love flowers. I love just being outside, feeling the wind and the sun on my face, digging in the dirt, listening to the trees.
I've had a tough week, feeling depressed. It's starting to lift now but man I hate feeling depressed. It sucks the life out of me, makes smiling hard, makes my eyes leak even more than usual and my body feels like I am dragging it around.
But it passes and for that I am deeply grateful.
Monday, 1 May 2017
I just finished reading a lovely lady's blog and it made me think about kindness towards one's self. I'm not very good at that. I like to think I'm a good person but I know I can be very unkind, short tempered, judgmental and impatient. Do those qualities make me a bad person? Or are they just a part of me? Like the compassion I feel for others, my sense of humor and my work ethic? I guess I only want the good stuff and not the bad stuff. Except are those qualities even bad? Again with the judging:)
I still struggle with the fact that I dislike people, even if I have reasons to dislike them. I don't forget when people hurt me or lie to me or stab me in the back. Am I supposed to forgive everything and everyone? I'm not able to hide my feelings. Every single thing I think or feel shows on my face which makes it difficult at times. I try and fail and try and fail to get along with some people.
I think when it comes down to it, I don't trust myself, my feelings or my thoughts. I second guess myself all the time. Is this real? Should I feel like this? Why can't I be easier, less meticulous, more relaxed? And yet I am relaxed at times. I tend to think in black and white, either, or, when life is much more messy and gray and both at times.
I doubt this lovely tulip worries that it is so different from the others around it.
Friday, 28 April 2017
I haven't written in a long while. Life has been busy with work and family but maybe that's an excuse. I don't make the time to sit down and write.
We were in Vancouver this past weekend to visit my middle daughter. We had a lovely visit. She's turned into a nice young woman. She was mad at me for so long, I'm thankful that we are getting closer again. I've missed her a great deal.
On the way home we stopped at the Abbotsford Tulip Festival and took photos. It was beyond beautiful. Naturally I burst into tears. It amazes me how much beauty there is in this world, and how much ugliness at the same time. I know the colors don't look real but I haven't touched them.
Katie broke her arm almost six weeks ago and had to have surgery. She has done well, all things considered. The bone is healing slowly but it's healing. It doesn't seem to cause her much pain anymore. The medical marijuana that we started her on shortly before she broke her arm is helping her anxiety. She's more like her old self, smiling, relaxed, friendly. Not afraid and defensive. We still have kinks to work out but it's coming. She also had to move in the middle of all this and is doing well in her new home.
And me. I'm happy enough most days. The days are shorter. The leaves are ready to burst forth. Work is better now, most days we are fully staffed which helps. My patients still teach me something new everyday.
I still forget to relax and enjoy my life. I see it in my daughter as well. This need to work and work and work to makes things perfect when life can never be perfect; when life is supposed to be messy and enjoyable. I try. It's just hard for me to sit still and be. The closest I come to being is when I'm walking which is something I guess. A start.
My granddaughter helps me to remember to be as well. To play and enjoy life. Note to self, spend more time with little people.
Saturday, 18 February 2017
Thursday, 16 February 2017
I'm sick right now. I have the flu and it hit me hard. I woke up Tuesday morning feeling too awful to go to work and laid or lay, can never which one is correct, on the couch all day. I also had to cancel my flight and hotel because I was supposed to fly out to Vancouver yesterday to visit my daughter but I couldn't because I felt like shit.
I'm feeling like a decrepit old lady, wandering around my house in my housecoat. I still feel rotten, although not as bad as Tuesday. Yesterday morning I felt so awful that I phoned the big guy at work crying because my body felt so awful, pain everywhere, headache, fatigue, diarrhea, fever, fainted on the toilet.
I have been very lucky in my life to have never suffered any serious illnesses. I had pneumonia once when I was twelve years old, still the sickest I've ever been in my life. But I have spent a lifetime caring for people who are suffering with some horrible illnesses, some short term, some long term. How do my patients do it?
We have a patient right now who will die, there is no other option. She's around my age. She has been in the hospital for months now. She comes down for tests on almost a daily basis. She is miserable. Her partner lives a the hospital. Nothing will get better for her, until she dies. She is suffering. She has tubes everywhere. She can't eat. We drain fluid off her abdomen every few days. It's horrific really. Modern medicine has figured out how to extend life but not how to stop suffering.
I had difficulty suffering for two days. How do people go on knowing that every day will entail suffering, until they die?
Sunday, 15 January 2017
Things I'm thankful for today.
We took Katie out today. It's been a month since her meds were adjusted. It was like a new young woman. Or perhaps the Katie I remember. Her signing was incredible. She didn't get stuck in ruts very much, by ruts I mean stuck on one word or topic that she keeps signing over and over and over again until she gets upset, unable to get out of the rut. She even helped me remember signs I haven't used in ages. I took the new communicator over to her place and she was using it and laughing because she kept picking "I want to go for a walk". She tried all the buttons but remembered where "I want to go for a walk" was and kept purposely pressing that particular button. She had a very short bout of anxiety when a woman got to close to her but I hugged her tight and told her she was safe. The cape didn't have to be on the whole time and she even walked for a bit when we first got to the mall and there was almost nobody there. Color me surprised and so thankful.
The weather has warmed up and I was able to take the dog for a long walk this afternoon. I even took her into the deep snow to run off some of her energy. The sun was shining. It was lovely.
Supper is cooking, our granddaughter and her parents are coming over for supper.
I slept for twelve hours last night. Wow did that ever feel good.
What are you thankful for today?