Friday, January 29, 2010
My mom tells me when I was a baby I used to throw "fat fits." I'm not exactly sure why they were called that, but she says I would scrunch up my face and hands, tense up, hold my breath and my face would turn red. Maybe I should have been a screamer. The advantages are obvious. For starters, I wouldn't have my very own type of fit named after me. The more obvious advantage would be just letting it all out.
As an adult, I sometimes think I'm kind of a wimp. I have strong, tough siblings who run marathons and beat marines in push-up contests, but I'll be honest. If there's an easy way, I'll take it. When a challenge comes along, I try to quickly get through and move on to the good stuff. I'm not very patient when challenges seem to last. ...And last, and last, and last.
At the beginning of 2010, I blogged about my expectations for the new year. I was in a great place, and I wanted the world to know it. My bring-it-on-world attitude drew comments from my mother, who told me later she was worried things would turn around when I wrote what I wrote. What can I say? If things are going well, I'm going to enjoy it.
But I'll throw a pity party when it all ends...at least a small party, because (stomping my foot) I DON'T LIKE IT!!! It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to, and if you don't want to cry too, stop reading.
Still here? Pass a tissue...here I go.
The first week of January, Tim had a TIA. (For those who don't know, that's a mini-stroke.) As it turns out, the fact that he's recently lost 45 pounds is a huge blessing. His cholesterol was low (which is definitely the best way to go if you're going to have a stroke), and what could have been devastating was over in a matter of days. Since then, he's been diagnosed with a patent foramen ovale, an opening between the left and right atria of the heart that doesn't close after birth. This condition causes blood to bypass the lungs, which can lead to a blood clot. It's an easy surgical fix once they diagnose the condition. After a day of feeling panic that I could have lost the best thing in my life (the pity party), I realized how blessed we were. The TIA could have happened anytime, but it didn't. It happened at the best time. "In every thing give thanks..." (1 Thessalonians 5: 18) And I did, over and over again. I gave thanks for the timing; I gave thanks for prompt medcal attention; I gave thanks for for being able to keep the most incredible guy in the world. I was once again very aware that life can change in an instant. And it didn't. I vowed in my mind to stop with the pity parties and go straight to trying to see the blessings, but how quickly I forget.
The next week brought the stomach flu (or so I thought, since the kids had a touch of it also). It came at the worst possible time, and the result was my electrolytes going out of whack. Not fun. I did what I could to get better, and felt well for a few days, then felt lousy again. My upper abdomon was hurting more and more, and after a few weeks (because I'm kind of slow sometimes), I was pretty sure this was no longer the stomach flu.
Meanwhile Tim had to go out of town. It started off as two weeks out of town, and has turned into four. "That's ok," I told myself. After all, military spouses lose their husbands for months on end and at least he'd be coming home over the weekends. But I was feeling worse and worse. The abdominal pain wouldn't go away, and I was to the point I didn't want to eat, drink, or even move. I had to go to the doctor, which, because Tim was gone, meant I had to cancel piano lessons, drum lessons, and not attend a beginning of the year RS kick-off bash I had a part in. After listening to the progression of my symptoms and poking around my abdominal area (OUCH!), the doctor said some frightening words like liver and pancreas, and ordered an abdominal ultrasound to be scheduled sometime in the next few days. In the age of information technology, I did what every red-blooded American would do. I went straight to the internet. If you're bored some day, google pancreatic and liver conditions. The options for a diagnosis aren't reassuring. For the next day I tried not to worry. To my credit, I went to work, drove the kids where they needed to be, and even kept everyone on task. Then I called my parents and whined. I even cried a little. I told them I was scared and summarized some of the concerns I had after gathering my wealth of knowledge about my physical condition on the internet. As it turns out, one evening of becoming familiar with liver and pancreatic conditions does not a PhD earn. The only thing I accomplished was costing my mother a night of lost sleep.
The next day, after an ultrasound, the puzzle was more clear. Gallstones. Apparently you can have them even after your gallbladder is removed. Also, I'm learning that weight loss can contribute to gallstones. Who knew? Along with the ultrasound came some really great news. I have two functioning kidneys. Six years ago when I had an ultrasound prior to having my gallbladder removed, they told me I had a small right kidney, which "Isn't a big deal. A lot of people live on one kidney." Still I've worried a little, and always had it in the back of my mind that I was thankful to be born into a large family...lots of extra kidneys to choose from if I ever needed one! But as it turns out, my siblings are saved from the possibility of having to donate an organ. The ultrasound tech looked twice just to be sure. I'm curious to go back and see the old ultrasound. Was it a mistake? I don't know. I told my family I think Ruth must have donated hers.
So at this point I have to ask myself why I'm throwing the pity party. Because I'm ok? Because I have two healthy functioning kidneys? Because Tim is coming home tomorrow? Because Tim is still alive? Or is it because (stomp!) I want to!
At this end of the party it turns out I regret the pity. I'm (mostly) healthy. I have a wonderful family. I'm living in America. I have friends. I have new opportunities every day. Tonight I'll give thanks. In an LDS general conference address (October 2008), Elder David A. Bednar said: Let me recommend that periodically you and I offer a prayer in which we only give thanks and express gratitude. Ask for nothing; simply let our souls rejoice and strive to communicate appreciation with all the energy of our hearts.
Now that January is winding down, maybe I do have a New Year's Resolution after all. Stop the pity parties. Try to see the blessings. And if it turns out that something isn't perfect in my small little world, I'll try to remember that it isn't all about me, and stop the party before it gets started. (If I forget, please remind me!)
Friday, January 15, 2010
It seems to be more and more apparent at our house lately. Lines outside the bathroom. A lack of warm water in the morning. Smelly sneakers. Discussions of crushes.
Then yesterday, this conversation with Joie:
"Mom, what's puberty?
I was caught a bit off guard because I know I've already had this conversation with her, but realize she must be making some kind of connection. I gave her a very brief definition...the under ten word definition about boys and girls growing into adults.
"Oh," she says, matter-of-factly. "I think I'm in puberty."
"Really, why do you think that?"
"Because when I talk my voice squeaks, like I have a frog in my throat."
(Me trying really hard not to smile) "Oh, I don't think girl's voices do that. Only boys. Maybe it's just your cold."
"Oh. Yeah... (voice trailing off...long pause).
Then the best argument yet: "But a boy in my class said it was because I was in puberty."
"Nope, not yet."
She continued. "He thinks he's in puberty because his voice squeaks."
(Keep in mind she's in 4th grade.)
By now I'm holding back and outburst that wants to scream, "He's in 4th grade! He doesn't have a clue!"
Instead I say, "Hmmm... Maybe. But maybe he just has a cold too."
"Oh," she sighs. I couldn't tell if she was disappointed or relieved.
We say good-night and I make it to my room before the laughter escapes. Whew!
Example #2: Today when Jeran invited a friend over to "hang out" I noticed all kinds of new girl energy coming out of Megan. I think she even did the happy dance and said something about calling all her friends to tell them. Guess what they'll be talking about at the birthday party tonight.
On the really tough days when these budding teens were all toddlers, I used to remind myself they'd all be driving and dating one day. Scary that it's getting closer.
"Is this the little girl I carried; Is this the little boy at play; I don't remember growing older; When did they? ("Sunrise, Sunset" from Fidder on the Roof)
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
Fast forward a decade. We have a lot to celebrate. We're healthy. We love each other. We're surrounded by kind, loving, and supportive friends and family. We're watching our children grow into incredible people. We're free. We're educated. We're employed. We can give back. We're blessed.
The New Year for me is a time to reflect. I'm not the New Year's Resolution-setting type of person, but I try to keep the trajectory pointed in a generally positive direction. The momentum occasionally stalls, but forward seems to have been a good direction for us, so we'll take it as long as it keeps coming. Every year a new chapter of our lives unfolds. We treasure success when it comes, but treasure the loving and living more. 2010 finds me facing a myrid of new choices and possibilities. I'm exploring the idea of working for myself...being my own boss...whatever form that may take. I find myself both nervous and excited to see this new chapter unfold. When I think about it too much, I can almost become nervous enough to talk myself out of any crazy idea of being in control of my own schedule and future...
So I breathe, and find comfort in the simple things. Friends. Family. Warm socks. A good laugh, and some simple advice from Dr. Seuss. "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the one who'll decide where you'll go." Yup. Simple things. And choices, made one at a time, one day at a time. And thus we enter 2010.