Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Pet Peeve

  You know what? I have a pet peeve about doctors' questionnaires. You know, those interminable sheets of papers that ask for name, DOB, allergies, next of kin, meds you are taking? Well, practically ALL of them ask you to check single, married, divorced or widowed.  

 Now, I am no longer much of an in-your-face-lesbian, I leave that to the younger and more energetic (thank you, those who are, I appreciate your efforts). I have also come to realize that my lesbian lifestyle is so like my neighbors' heterosexual lifestyles that it makes no nevermind (As my father used to say.) That is, I live a boring suburban lifestyle, and would not have it any other way. Except for the marches on Washington, the viewing of the whole Quilt, and the time we had our Ceremony of Commitment and a picture of us kissing ended up in the local paper. But I digress. 

 I believe ALL doctors should have a space for "living with partner" or "in committed relationship" or something that fits the myriad of lifestyles of today. These things are not necessarily a GLBT only issue; many couples remain unmarried, but committed.   It is an issue for me, because Rene and I have encountered such ignorance in the past. Doctors who refused to keep the other up to date because we're not blood kin, hospitals that wouldn't give out information-well before the new regs. And this, despite our wills and power of medical attorney papers -- because they never asked who we were living with, or committed to. And we didn't tell, because it seemed easier that way.

 Now I go into each new doctor struggling to keep the chip on my shoulder from getting in the way. I make my own square to mark, variously putting down my suggestions above, or "other," depending on my mood.  I try to point out the error of their paperwork's ways, politely with a brief explanation. On a Big-Chip-day, I might go into a tirade about how the GLBT community does not get the care they need, because of subtle discrimination like this. Who wants to open up to someone whose paperwork denies my very existence?   Today at the doctor, I was so tired, I forgot to say anything about it at all. Since itis such a pet peeve, I won't let the opportunity pass again!  

Blessings, Margo    

Good News, Bad News

photo of the uconn health center

Universtity of Connecticul Medical Center

 The good news is, I most likely don't have rheumatoid arthritis, the bad news is that I still have no diagnosis. And the pain, of course.

 I had an appointment with a rheumatlogist today at UConn Health Center. My PMD sent me, saying I should see a specialist, since my sed rate is up. (This measures general inflammation in the body.) Now I actually work for Correctional Managed Health Care which is run out of UCHC, although I work in the local women's prison. (Or used to work, as the case may be), I know my way there, even though CT is one of those small states that has no roads running from one corner up across the to the other, but it takes an hour and a half. 

 By the time I arrived, I was hurting! No good med management today; I don't take break through pain meds when I'm driving. It's a huge hospital, but I eventually found rheumatology, schlepping in with my X-rays and lab work and info from a myriad of doctors. The specialist looked at all my info, my answers from his huge questionnaire I had filled out, and asked, "Why did your doctor send you here? I see no indication that this is rheumatoid in nature."   Please understand, I don't want to have rheumatiod arthritis, I just want to know what is going on in my body. This doctor was nice about it, ordered more bloodwork and X-rays, and sent me on my way, apologizing for not being able to help me. In my experience most doctors take a look at any woman who weighs 300 pounds, and assumes she is not in touch with her body at all. I spent way too long working my way into my body awareness to be put off by such assumptions any more. I am always on guard for any hint of this, and am grateful he did not pull that on me.

 But...as I trudged out to my car at 3pm, I had one of those black hole experiences, when all the good work I've done around  learning to love and listen to my body gets sucked away, and I am left with self-doubts. Maybe it's all in my head, maybe I am exaggerating the pain so I can't go back to work (nevermind that I went back 9 weeks after open heart surgery!), maybe I'm doomed to carry it around with me forever, maybe things will never improve......and more and more and more. I was crying by the time I made the car.  

After I got into the car, I began to feel silly. Here this doctor had told me that in his esteemed opinion I don't have a painful autoimmune disease, and I was absolutely sobbing! Partly, I blame my reaction on the hospital-just being in one drags me down. Also, I am always exhausted, either part of the problem (whatever it is) or because I wake a lot at night due to pain. And I do quite desperately want an answer, a diagnosis, something to point to and say, there-that's what's going on-and I didn't get that today.  

 I may never get it, a grim thought, but I do have to keep going. Giving up just doesn't seem like an option I'm willing to take. I wiped my eyes on a dunkin donut napkin, and set off for the long drive home. When I finally arrived, I took pain meds (oh thank Goddess for pain meds)! and collapsed into my recliner. I was still telling Rene about my day when I dozed off.   Tomorrow, I see my orthopedist-the one I don't like, but I'm not expecting any real help from him, so I may not feel as let down tomorrow. We'll see. Tonight, Roxy, my Chihuahua and I are going to bed.  

 Blessings, Margo    

Monday, August 30, 2004

Sunday's Outing into Quilt Land



Well, I had a good day out with Peg on Sunday, thanks to good weather and good management of pain meds-always necessary for any good day!  We found April the quilter to be friendly and interesting and owner of the biggest quilting machine I have ever seen.


 Now, until Peg moved to CT, I was not privy to the Wonderful World of Quilting. I didn’t know there are quilt shops full of incredible material just waiting to jump out and grab any quilter passing by.  I didn’t know there are quilting clubs and quilting guilds and hundreds upon hundreds of pattern books and tons of techniques and weeklong workshops and whole realms if info on line and - OMG- $14,000 quilting machines as big as a room! Who knew?


I cannot sew a stitch right now if I wanted- my right hand is in a carpal tunnel brace, still recovering from nerve damage. Truth is, however, I never have sewn much more than a stitch or two in my whole life. I could blame it on my mother, who does not sew because she only has one arm, but in reality I just don’t like to sew and refused to learn.  Now, I am almost (almost) sorry.


We spread the quilt Peg made for me across April’s dining room table, and I was blown away. It is amazing. Each square looks like a window with a wide frame, and in the middle of each window is four small squares, all blues and purples, and roses and pinks and yellows; the colors dance across the quilt like sunbeams across the floor.. mixing and changing and staying the same all at once.


We chose a pattern of flowers and vines for April to quilt across the window panes, then Peg and April went into off into Quilters’ language about batting and thread types and differences between sewing machines and paper piecing and rag quilts and much, much more.  I let it flow over me as if was in a foreign land.


Before we left, April showed us her quilting machine. It is bigger than my living room, and can be used from either side, and I would describe it if I had the vocabulary and the understanding of how it works. All I know, is Peg left trying to figure out how to add a big enough room onto her little house, and I was contemplating taking up hand quilting- both fantasies!


The quilt will be done in about 6 weeks, and I cannot wait!


Blessings, Margo


PS April's machine had two arms and was bigger!

picture from: www.centralsewingcentre.com

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Best Friends

 I would like to say that I am feeling better and the pain is gone. I’d like to say that, but it isn’t true. On the other hand, whining about is isn’t going to help in the long run, so today I’m going to write about what I’m going to do tomorrow


But first I must digress.


Fifty years ago this month I was 4 years old, soon to be 5, living in a suburb of Philadelphia, and I met a new girl from CT, who was much older-almost 5 ½. She had a pudgy face and a sturdy, skinny body and curly black hair and her name was Peggy. She lived down the block and across the street, and while I wasn’t allowed to go that far from home, I ventured beyond my boundaries, and we became Best Friends.


Fifty years later, we still are.


We have loved and supported each other through four marriages, three divorces, two kids (10 years apart ), my move to CT, her cross country moves to CA and back to PA, through ups and downs and depressions and coming out and abusive family situations and the death of her parents and brother and my mother’s cancer and a whole lot more. At times, we fought like cats and dogs-our mothers, who also became good friends, used to laugh at our terrible tempers, and shake their heads in amazement that we always made up.


Our last big fight, many years ago, was a doozy, over where to camp in a National Park. After screaming at each other like the 5 year olds we still carry inside, we stomped off in opposite directions, leaving out poor (first) husbands goggling after us. After discussing how terrible the 1000 mile ride back to CA in a VW camper was going to be, they tentatively chose a site they liked- a first- and set up camp. An hour later, we reappeared together, talking a mile a minute, and could not understand why they were goggling at us again. Our mothers could have told them!


But I digress.


Last autumn, while I was struggling to regain the use of my right hand and my ability to read, she moved back to her home state CT!  For the first time since childhood, we live close together! She helped enormously during the 6 months I couldn’t drive. Rene is as glad to have her here as I am. We can get together for breakfast out, and talk on the phone free, and have supper together, and play together! It is wonderful.


One of the most amazing things about Peg is her ability to create beautiful and whimsical things.  She majored in sculpture at college (as practical as my Religious Studies major), has an incredible eye for color, had a ceramics studio for years, owned an artists’ gallery, and more recently as she began to re-invent herself,took up quilting. Her work is vibrant and colorful and unexpected, and her fabric collection is abundantly overflowing her new quilting room- but in an organized fashion, of course.


Early last spring, when I was again suffering a downwards spiral, she announced she was going to make me a quilt. She took me off to a quilting store where she helped me pick out a couple of dozen fabrics in blues and purples and roses and pinks and yellows-all colors I love. Then she showed me quilt pattern books. Oh my! Too many choices. Finally I asked her to narrow it down to several easier ones, and chose one made up of lots of squares with four smaller squares inside- I’ll have to ask her the proper name tomorrow, I’ve forgotten.


It is done now and here finally is my point of all this; tomorrow we are going to RI to see a quilter who has a long armed machine big enough to finish the whole thing! I cannot wait! She has a waiting list, but it should be done before Christmas. If I can ever learn how to use our camera, I promise to put up a picture, for it will be one of my most treasured possessions. As is Peg a most treasured friend.


Blessings, Margo


picture from: www.anygivensaturday.com/ cgi-bin/board/cuteca...


Thursday, August 26, 2004

A Long, Hard Summer

I am sick and tired of doctors and medical tests. I am going to whine for a while.


On  August 7, 2003, I fell hard at work and ended up with a large butterfly fracture of my right humerus (upper arm)-not an easy thing for a very large person to do. On August 19th I had surgery- a planned 2 hour operation that lasted 5 ½ hours-which left me with serious nerve damage, and more pain than I have ever experienced in my whole life, despite years of various surgeries.


The day after surgery I started physical therapy. For the next 9 months I never missed a physical therapist appointment, and worked harder than I ever had at anything, determined to regain the use of my hand and arm. It hurt. A lot. Every time. I also found a personal trainer and nutritionist, a somatic internationalist (a body worker of sorts), and I worked. Hard. Every day. In pain. For 9 months.

And to what did I give birth? A cranky, depressed, stressed out, semi-rehabbed bitch, who can ( thank Goddess) move her fingers and arm, but still has multiple health problems-some related to the fall, some perhaps exacerbated by the fall, some just beginning to happen. And I am still in pain. On-narcotic-meds- through-a-Pain-Clinic type pain.

In April, my orthopedist, Dr. K. decided I could go back to work, despite the ongoing problems. Unfortunately, I work at a prison, and have to be 100% to go back. This may never happen. Angry, I said but what about, and listed my ongoingproblems, including the pain, a high sed rate (measures general inflammation), and my fingers turning blue during p.t.  Although I have been pointing these things out for months, he seemed quite surprised. (He’s a good surgeon, but not much of a listener. I don’t like him).

Finally, on May 19th, he took me out of physical therapy, pending some testing. Unfortunately, my workers comp insurance company denied permission-pointing out that I had been okayed to work. Eventually, my attorney got involved, and the tests were scheduled. At the same time, my PMD, Dr. D. also ordered tests, worried about my kidneys, wondering it the sed rate might indicate arthritis, or some other immune problem. Luckily he is a good doctor and a good man.

Between mid June and today, I have had 13 doctors’ appointments, 4 dentist appointments, nerve conduction testing (yes, it hurt a lot, but nothing compared with the post surgery pain), kidney ultrasounds and radioactive dye test, a hand and arm function series, vascular testing and an MRI on my back and neck. And blood work- I have had more blood drawn in 10 weeks than some people have in a lifetime.  I have also seen my therapist weekly, continued at the gym, and with Pete, my body worker. Tuesday I go to UConn Health Center to see a rheumatoidoligist, and the next day I report back to Dr. K.- an appointment I dread.

I have found out some good things. My kidneys are doing well for a diabetic of 30 years. My back has 2 bad discs, but they are not bulging (yet). My blood pressure is down (I’ve lost 65 lbs, with 120 still to go). My screwed up nerve seems to have grown back, even though I now have severe carpal tunnel in my right hand. I found a neurologist who will listen, if I ever need one again. I now have a naturapathic doctor whom I like.(Dr.D. is not too pleased, but oh well…)

It has been a terrible summer, and I am a lot more depressed that I was last spring. And I still hurt-a lot, despite all my hard work, all my healing meditations, my exploration of alternative medicine, my impressive array of pain meds, despite it all, I am still having periods of serious pain. It sucks.

Tomorrow I will get up and read my (many, many) journals, and walk the dog, and go to the dentist-again, contemplate returning to my diet, and keep on keeping on. Tonight I am going to bed.



Monday, August 23, 2004

Slow Changes

childlike picture of a houseLast Monday night, Rene set off fireworks in honor of her 65th birthday. We acquired a few neighbors as an audience, and we all stood together laughing while we oohhed and aahhed over each small burst of sparks and flame as if it were a full blown Grucci Brothers Show. Rene cannot move fast, so as she lit each firework we all cried, run, run, run, and she did run- slowly- laughing in the showers of sparks, basking in the warmth of the attention.


When the show was over and the neighbors dispersed, we stood together pushing the spent cardboard cylinders to the side or the road with our feet, promising to pick up in the morning light. Suddenly the words spilled out of my mouth, “If the neighborhood burns down tonight, everybody will blame us.”


“You sound just like your mother,” Rene told me. She was right, I did. I am well trained to come out with something negative in the midst of any silliness (as was my mother, of course). I had to swallow twice before I could squeeze out a thank you. I have asked her to point these moments out, because I want to know, but I have to struggle for the grace to accept them.


I have thought about this a lot this week, and talked to friends, trying to see why I do this. I have come to a couple of conclusions. One is it’s a control issue. If I end a fun time with a negative comment, I am preparing myself for the fun to end-instead of letting myself enjoy whatever for as long as possible. The other is that I was squashed a lot as a child, and have cut off the playfulness which is part of me for way too long. This both saddens and enrages me. I have missed out on so much!


I can see why I glommed on to Rene 11 years ago, even though many people could not see what the attraction was. She is indeed 9 years old in reverse dog years, acting silly, moving through her world in with a childlike wonder, making up for the deficiencies in her own childhood, while dragging me along, sometimes willingly, sometimes full of embarrassment. “Don’t be silly,” whispers the voice of an archetypal negative mother,” Don’t look foolish. What will people think?” That I’m silly? That I’m not an adult? That I’m not prefect?


To hell with that. I am a silly, imperfect adult. I want to encourage my own childlikeness, let it free to play and laugh and show off.  It won’t happen overnight, I know, but change is what I’m all about these days no matter how slowly and painfully. Friday night we set fireworks off again, and I tried to savor every moment of it!


Blessings, Margo


Picture fromwww.welfare-state.org/. ../connections.htm

Sunday, August 22, 2004


Mood: frustrated.

I had a whole entry done this evening, complete with picture to match, and it disappeared somewhere into cyber space. Some poor person in Central America, or perhaps Central Asia  will suddenly find my entry and wonder who on earth Margo is. Or maybe, some time in the future it will fetch up on some other planet, and the inhabitants will try to figure out the human race from my few paragraphs, god forbid.

Actually, I am so computer illiterate that I cannot even upload pictures into my ftp space with the help of a tutorial! It's lucky I can post at all. I am quite convinced that inside my computer there are a bunch of little men who write on the screen backwards while I type(no problem because I type so slowly). When I am ready to send, they blow the words down one of the many wires I don't understand behind my computer, and as the entry emerges into cyberspace some other little men(lots and lots of them) suck really hard to download my words onto other peoples' computers.It almost sounds obscene.

I still am working on a theory about how graphics emerge and disappear.When this becomes clear to me, I'll let you know!


artwork  from home19.inet.tele.dk/ rasbolding/WilliamGibson.htm

Saturday, August 21, 2004

AOL J-Land Anniversary

I have been smiling on and off all day,thinking about tonight's ball, and all the hard work that has gone into it- Thank you all so much!   I realize that Im smiling because I fell into journaling in July, and unknowingly joined a community that is interesting and diverse and full of fascinating people writing about everything under the sun. As we have moved through this anniversary time, I have enjoyed the fun, the cleverness, the drama and the amazing talents of those who have worked so hard to make an online community grow and work and become a real support network. And I am so grateful.

This has been one of the worst years of my life- my accident and the problems stemming from it have cut me off from my work community. and from some people I thought were good friend. I am exhausted in a way I have never experienced before, I am having to struggle with chronic pain, and for over 6 months I couldn't even concentrate enough to read a book(a disaster for a former English major!). Even now my concentration skills are poor, and I can't do many thing I took for granted last year.

Journalling has given me another community to be part of, a whole new group of  people to meet and get to know, and (on really bad days) a reason to get up in the morning (as opposed to late afternoon!). I appreciate each comment left for me, the sharing that people do with me, and the fact that I can spend time mulling over what I want to write.

I am looking forward to this next year of AOL Journals-my own and others, and will find an even better dress for next year's Ball than I did for this year's!

Many Blessings. Margo

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Favorite Entry

Weekend Assignment #20: Tell us about your favorite entry of your own from the last 366 days (it's a leap year). Tell us why it still resonates for you.I don't do the weekly assignment often- I barely have time to read all the journals for which I have alerts, let alone put in my own entries. But I have gone back and re-read my journal just now, and like this one the best.

Dog Tired

When I was working at the Womens' Prison, Friday evenings were for keeling over,  coming home and spacing out in front of HGTV until bedtime. Nowadays, every day is a day off (of sorts) and yet I still manage to end the week exhausted. Go figure.

Today was a fairly restful day, though-no doctors appointments, no gym, no scheduled activities at all. One of the things people who don't live with chronic illnesses can't understand is how exhausting pain, and the accompaning anxiety, really are. One kind meaning (but rude) acquaintance suggested this exhaustion-and at least some of the pain- was mostly in my head, not my body. "WRONg," I said,not too calmly, and burst into tears. She was horrified, and beat a hasty retreat, murmmering to Rene that she didn't mean to upset me as she rushed out the door. That was months ago, and she hasn't been back.

With 20/20 hindsight, I recognize I was not so much rersponding to her as to all the doctors over the years who have pooh poohed my very real symptoms. Like the dizziness and fainting which was diagnosed as anxiety attacks and turned out to be diabetes, and the chest pain which was supposedly stress related turned out to be heart disease! These days at least I know when a symptom is real and am capable of persisting until someone figures out what's wrong-many years of therapy well spent!

Today was notable for all our unexpected company. Our friend Pam come over to put together my computer chair and new bookcase. Rene is handicapped and cannot get down on her knees, and I am still dealing with arm and hand problems, so Pam is a goddess-sent handy person who is blessed with good spatial relationship skills. She had those thing put together in two hours flat, and that included moving my bedroom furniture all around. As she finished up, Kate called. She was in the vacinity, could she stop by? The four of us had lunch together, then the three of them went off to Ocean State Job Lot to buy Stuff, while I napped. This evening Peggy dropped by to eat her on the run take out food supper, and now I am close to bedtime.

I often say how blessed we are with our friends, and, over the last year, have discovered how valuable they really are!

Sleep well, and wake up rested,


It was written Fri. July 27th, and I like it because it reminds me to honor the friendships I have, off , as wellline, and that I am beginning to get to know a few people on line as well. I included the picture because it looks exactly like our new Chuhuahua, Roxy, who is one year old and weighs less than 3 lbs!

What do people think of my entry?


Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Ball Gown


I have finally decided what to wear to the Ball Saturday night. I always wanted to go to a fancy dress ball, and although I'll be late, I'll definitely put in an appearance. Some friends are giving a party for Rene's B-day Sat evening, as well, so I will have to rush home and change out of my jeans and t-shirt into this sumptious gown. I'll probably need a dresser ,too, some wench who can put me together and dress my hair. I'd nominate Rene for the job, but she would die laughing before I got my first undergarment on! Soooo... what do you think?

See you there!




Monday, August 16, 2004

Happy B-Day, Rene!

Fireworks WallpaperToday is Rene's 65th Birthday!  She is very proud of herself. She says her life is the only thing she has showed up for everyday, in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, without fail, for 65 years; she has earned her pride.

She is also only 9 in reverse dog years. You can't imagine how much trouble it is to hang out with a mischevious 9 year old who has the money of a 65 year old! She has been known to buy herself yet another computer "because I want one." She has 2 bobblehead chihuahuas on the dashboard of her car, so that if she asks,"shall I be good and go home for lunch, or stop at MacD's for a whopper, both dogs nod yes, thereby out voting her so she always stops for junk food.

She also started out her day by setting off fireworks at 11:30 am, to celebrate. More fireworks will follow tonight for her and the neighborhood kids. She has a special bond with these kids, most of whom have known her their whole lives.They all think she is agreeably crazy. And she is! She flirts with every child she passes in the grocery store or restaurant. She brought CT quarters to England last year, handing them  out to children(and adults), with an eplaination of the Charter Oak on the back.

She works hard to enjoy the childhood she missed as a child, and I am lucky enough to be the person she has picked to go along for the ride!

So, Rene,

Happy Birthday! And Many More!

Blessings, Margo

Family Reunion, continued

Tuesday morning the phone rang at 7:30 am in the hotel where we were asleep. It took me a long time to find it, but I already knew it was Catherine calling from the hospital. Panic set in; would she be having surgery to open her hand to drain the infection? When I finally found the phone, Catherine's wan voice informed me no surgery today, but it was still a possibility, and that she couldn't sleep in a hospital.

I could have told her that! One year ago I was entering into The Hospitalization From Hell, so I also understood why she had called. She needed comisseration and stuff from the cabin. I offered as much comisseration as possible after 5 hours sleep, then hauled my aching bod out of bed and fell into the shower. Soon I was on my way back to the cabin ( leaving Rene sleeping in the motel, lucky woman)

My parents were still asleep, so I wrote them a note explaining what was going on, gathered the things Catherine needed (mostly reading material because she is, after all, a librarian). Then I hit the road again, heading off on the 40 minute drive to the hospital. On the way I pondered the night before in the ER. She had been in terrible pain as the doc took the stitches out, pressed and moved the finger to get the gunk out, but she didn't want me to hold her other hand or touch her, or say anything. She responded best to wry or ironic comments about her situation, the kind she can whip off without any thought.(I am always amazed at her quick wit, which was one way we all got attention from our father during childhood. She was and is fast and funny, even drugged with painkillers barely able to keep her eyes open!)

I am the opposite, I want to have my hand held. I want to have someone reminding me to breath slowly and deeply, and muttering reassurances in my ear. But I have terrible trouble asking for what I need-we are a family of well trained stoics. Family patterns are indeed amazing.

I found her still drugged, still in pain, with her hand still the size of a soft ball, dozing, but definitely not sleeping. She was really glad to see me- I had books and her cell phone charger! To be honest, I know she was glad to see me too. I hung out with her for a couple of hours while she struggled to cancel her plane tickets home to Michigan with my cell phone, giving me ascerbic asides when I made suggestions on what to do or say. In between she thanked me over and over for all I'd done, while I assured her it was really no problem.

I would like to say that since I see it as such a pattern, I will no longer apologize for asking for help, or over-thank anyone who has helped me, because I now see this so strongly in mysister, my mother and myself. I would like to say it, but I can't, because the words fly out of my mouth before I have time to think about them! I will, however, meditate on ways to stop sooner, because it is a change I want to make in my life. And Rene will no doubt help, by pointing out the error of my ways!

I realized with Catherine that it truly was no problem- though exhausted and hurting, I was-and am- thankful for the opportunity to spend time with her, much more time than I would have spent sans infection! I left her there early afternoon, drove back to the motel and crashed, while Rene escaped the confines of the room for a dollar store down the road a bit.

That night I went back to the cabin to cook dinner for Mom, Dad, Luke, Mary and Rene, and there was no need for an after dinner hospital run! Someday(maybe) I'll write about spending time with Luke, but probably not until my parents die-we see very little of each  other, and live very different kind of live.

The next day we came home to CT, but Catherine did get out on of the hospital on Thursday, and flew home Saturday. She is mostly online at work, so I may hear from her briefly this week.

Once home, I spent two days sleeping, and I'm still exhausted, and taking it easy.  I am very glad we went for the reunion, and look forward to our next trip, when we will get to hang out with my parents, walk in the woods a little, and enjoy looking at the lake, things we didn't get to do this time.

Blessings, Margo

PS. Picture looks like the road to the encampment

from: www.traditionsbnb.com/ views%20closeby.htm

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Family Reunion and First Aid

Well! It has taken me days to recover from the family reunion, and catch up on the events in J-Land. There are just too many great journals out there to keep up with!

The reunion turned out quite differently than I was anticipating, though the family patterns are alive and well and living wherevever we all live. We all got along quite well, and some of that was because Luke and Mary were being good citizens of this summer community by holding down the Encampment- a replica of an original 1904 campsite at the far end of the lake. They had 4 tents with wooden floors, a cook tent, an open fire to cook on, a bunch of antique lamps, utensils, cookpots, and a slit trench Luke dug, then built a outhouse around. They spent the week greeting and hosting people interested in the early life of the community. It was actually quite neat, and kept us from too much interaction.

I said I went to connect with Catherine, but at first it looked as if I might just get barely an hour with her-she was busy being sociable, catching up with friends, and sleeping at the Encampment, because she doesn't get to see Luke and Mary much, either. Meg and Amy, too, hung out with her the first evening, and then again at the Encampment. Rene is not able to walk too far in the woods, nor sit on logs or stones,and I am limited too, so such connection was out for us. I finally requested a couple of hours with her on Monday, and we set a time. Little did I know that the gods or goddesses were about to take over!

Monday morning at 7:30 the phone rang in the motel where we were sound asleep. It was Cathering, at the Encampment, whispering into her cell phone (forbidden at the Encampment- no cell phones available in 1904). She was talking about needing to go to a walk in clinic, but not the emergency room from yesterday, but her hand was swollen, and hurt a lot and could I come get her. Emergency room? Swollen hand? I hadn't a clue, but I knew she needed help, and within 10 minutes, I was on my way, leaving Rene still sleeping.

I found Catherine hiking along the dirt road which lead to the Encampment, left hand in a gauze bandage, looking not unlike the 5 year old I remember-plucky, not complaining, and not wanting too much comforting. Seems as if she had cut her first finger with an axe while alone in the Encampment, cutting kindling the day before. She had hiked herself out to the road, met up with a friend who took her to one of the local hospitals, where she had gotten 9 stitches. She had returned to the woods for the night, but now it was red and swollen, and infected.

She kept apologizing over and over for bothering me; I kept saying not to worry, that's what family's for, and realized how deeply ingrained the need to apologize over and over again is in the women of the family. I do it all the time- as if I have no right to ask for help when I need it, always feeling shame for not being on top of every siltuation.

 She did NOT want to go back to the same hospital, so we decided to walk into my mother's doctor's office and ask for help. We were lucky-we saw a P.A. immediately who looked at it, cleaned around the stitches, gave her a shot of antibiotic, a script for oral antibiotics and pain pills. By the time we had filled the scripts, stopped for food and returned to the Encampment, it was 1pm, and Catherine was so sleepy from the pain meds her eyes were crossing, but she was still apologizing for interrupting my vacation.

Eventually, I got back to the hotel for poor Rene( who was actually perfectly happy there) and back to my parents' cabin, to tell them what was going on. My mother was doing a bit of "I'm a bad mother because I couldn't be there" routine( another family pattern). By now I was hurting and feeling exhausted- I do not want to admit how handicapped I am even a year after my accident. I have no stamina, and struggle with the pain, and try to be plucky and not complain too much. See a pattern? That evening while I made supper, my father went to pick up Catherine at the Encampment, and when she walked in I knew she was worse. The hand was more swollen, angry red, and hot.

Not wanting to worry our parents, we ate dinner, waited for them to go back up to their cabin, then called a nurse friend for advice. She gave us anothe ER to go to. We dropped Rene off at the motel, and set out into the night for yet another unknown hospital, still discussing whether or not we were being alarmist because maybe the antibiotic hadn't kicked in yet, and if we just waited a while...

Damned good thing we went- she had a deep infection that might have gone on to infect her whole arm. In fact, said the doctor, she would need to be admitted, given IV antibiotics and pain meds for at least 2 or 3 days, and might need surgery in the morning. We merely gaped at him. I stayed with her until 1am, then drove back to the motel with the windows down and Meatloaf blaring to keep me awake. I got to sleep about 2:30 am.

to be continued...


Sunday, August 8, 2004

Family Reunion

Mood: Tired (AOL really should give us more options!)

I am in the Poconos at a family reunion of sorts. My family gathers rarely, and with some trepidation. Sadly, we all grew up with the belief system that there was not enough love in the world to go around, and the competition for attention was subtle but fierce. The eldest daughter(me) was the shining student who never got in trouble-until the '60s hit. I struggled desperately to be that good girl. The middle child was the SON, born to carry on the family name, a burden for a dyslexic child who had to attend a prestigous school-as we all did. The third, and last child, was an afterthought, born when I was 10. Bright and stubborn, she was more attatched to our father than I was, and only 5 when I left for a co-ed Quaker Boarding school. I never really lived at home again.

I am trying to get to know my sister better- hence this trip. She was 9 when I married, and we have kept a desultory connection ever since. E-mail has helped some. So far this weekend, we have had some time to connect, and have a time set aside tomorrow for each other. She is also trying to connect with old friends, and with our brother Luke and his wife Mary, who are off camping in the woods for the weekend.

Even though I know now there is not a finite amount of love or acceptance in the world- a lesson hard learned- it is easy to fall into old patterns here. Who can be the cleverist? Who can be most helpful? Who can be the most active, the best dressed, the most outgoing? And much more. I struggle to remember that I am enough right now, as I am, no need for approval from any member of the family.

Rene, bless her, is kind enough to temper her comments on how alike my mother, sister, daughter and I are with reminders that she loves me anyway-and Meg-and enjoys my family alot. Then we go back to our motel room and eat Tastycake pies, and laugh a lot.

It is difficult to get online here, and I am missing the goings on in J-Land! We get home Wednesday, and it will take me days to catch up!



picture from:www.bikexprt.com/ menard/menardc5.htm



Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Today it dawned on me that I am actually going to visit with a large section of my family, and the anxiety began to rise. I grew up in the '50's, in middle-class suburbia, and the surface we showed the world was of Happy Family-you know, the Donna Reed Show, or Leave it to Beaver.

I had no clue that underneath was my father's struggle to be a good corporate lawyer when he had no real people skills. My mother, a stay at home mom, struggled with anxiety and depression, and a terrible case of What Will People Think?-if they knew she was a poor housekeeper, felt inadequate as a hostess for the necessary dinner parties, or had kids who didn't fit her perfectionist visions when seen from outside. She got it from her mother.

I know now-after lots of therapy- that they, like me, were products of their childhood experiences, doing the best they could under the circumstances. I, of course, mothered the way I was mothered-poorly- at least until I went into therapy at 29.  I well remember my horror at realizing that I was so blatently repeating my mother's mistakes. I was, thank Goddess, able to make some changes so Meg did not have a complete repeat of my hang ups!

I well remember how much I hated being so like my mother, who I loved and hated at the same time. Luckily we all grow older and  can  see our lives with a little more perspective. I am still like my mother in some ways, and though she still drives me crazy at times, I am glad to recognize her good qualities in me, and can laugh (usually) when Rene or Meg tells me I'm JUST like her!

Today I love her dearly, and worry about her failing health, but she is a one person at a time kind of woman-she is doing her own anxiety about the gathering herself.

So is Meg. She feels the low man on the totem pole- after Luke and Mary and me and Rene and Catherine-and is nursing her anger well(another family trait) and taking it out on me by phone-she is already in the Poconos. As I look at family dynamics, I realize she is seeing me in her, and probably not liking it too much,

On the other hand she is readily in touch with that anger, something my mother is hard pressed to do, and I still struggle with. Yea for Meg!

Then we throw in the rest of us siblings-all caughr in family dynamic-and our spouses/partners and I forsee a roller coaster ride ahead of joy, struggle, laughter, frustration, good food, anger(probablly suppressed and leakin out the edges) AND alot of love

And despite the anxiety, I am looking forward to all of it!

Now I better go pack!

Blessings, Margo

picture-pine trees for the Poconos from jcc.legis.state.pa.us/

Sunday, August 1, 2004

Catching Up

Some catch-up items. Kevin, Rene's brother, is doing well. He is sending us e-mails on heart disease and stents, and seems to be recovering nicely. Rene did call her other brother, Dick, and suggest he schedule a stress test, and it turns out he already has a doctor's appointment scheduled next week! Rene passed her wstress test about 6 months ago, thank Goddess.

I got excused form jury duty, not because I am on heavy meds, but because they settled the case out of court. I feel as if I managed to do my civic duty without having to do my civic duty-nice trick if you can manage it!

I will continue the Saga of the Fall as time goes on, but I am a slow writer, and it still feels painful to get it down on paper. I never quite realized how traumatized I have been by the last year until Kevin's hospitalization. I've had a series of flashback type dreams ever since my hospitalization last summer, and it has gotten worse since Kevin has been in the hospital, I know my psyche works at its own speed and in its own way, and I am working on it in my own way-slowly!

My daughter Meg took off for the Poconos of PA for what will eventually be a full fledged family reunion by next weekend. My parents have a summer place there My brother Luke and his wife Mary are there from CO, we leave Thursday along with Meg's partner, Amy, and my sister Catherine flies in from Grand Rapids, MI the same day. Luke's and Catherine's sons, Eric and Brian and Andrew and Luke, all have summer jobs that keep them away this summer.

We rarely gather as a family because we do not all get along well under pressure, and a family reunion is always a high pressure situation! We do, however, care for each other, so it will no doubt all work out. Especially since Rene and I will be staying in a motel! LOL.We plan to use it for a get away for not just us, but anyone who needs some time away from the damp, the mildew or the close quarters.

Rene will bring her laptop, but it is hard to get on line there, so I'll be unable to keep up on what's going on  in this amazing place called J-Land, and I am sure I'll struggle with withdrawal symptoms.

Blessings, Margo

picture from:www.bst.ac.jp/.../ Classroom%20Activities.htm