"Our life is frittered away by detail...simplify, simplify." - Henry David Thoreau

I know I said "blog like no one is reading" but it's nice to know these people are

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Change for the Better

It seems like everyone I know, including my friend AM who is lying in the hospital recovering from a broken leg and stroke, wants to do a triathlon. Me? Not so much. I'm just happy that I've gotten out of bed two mornings in a row and walked the dog before 8am. I feel like I am missing an essential part of being a  2000 and teens middle-aged woman. Everyone is either running a marathon, cycling the Centurion or planning a trip to climb K2. Me? I just want to stop feeling crappy all the time which makes me very grumpy. I finally went to the doctor this week and told him about all the strange pains I have been having all over my body. He didn't laugh or look at me with pity (he's a cyclist who broke his neck riding his bike a few years ago and is right back in the saddle) He did sign me up for a bunch of blood work as well as x-rays and an ultrasound so I guess he's taking this seriously and I did actually go and get the blood and x-rays done so that's a start. I don't want to find out that there is something wrong with me I just want to know that the aches and pains are normal or can be fixed by losing weight or getting more reasonable amounts of exercise.

It's hard to feel sorry for yourself when a friend is looking at months and months of recovery but who is still insisting her husband sign her up for hockey next winter. I spoke to AM's sister, M yesterday and she feels the biggest roadblock to AM's recovery is that she won't let go of all her motherly duties and focus on herself. She sends texts and emails in the middle of the night reminding her sister about the kids' schedules, she is worrying about what they are eating, wearing and doing every minute of the day which, of course is what all we mothers do but she has to try and relinquish these things to her sister and husband. The kids are being well cared for although it may not be exactly the way she would be doing it. But, as M said, "Their lives are not going to be the same, their mother is in the hospital and things have changed." The question down the road will be whether it may even be a change for the better. Like most families we know, AM's was as active as active can be. Four kids, all in sports, music lessons, extra tutoring and I mentioned they had just gotten a new puppy, right? Dad commutes by train downtown every day, they have a country place they use year round. They are, in short, healthy, athletic and everything you are supposed to strive for except that it might have all been too much. The doctors don't know what caused AM's stroke, they haven't found a connection to the surgery on her leg but her sister's theory is that it was a sign that AM needed to slow down for her own and the whole family's sake.

My Other Half's reaction to all this has been a little surprising. He, of course, is up to his eyeballs in boat orders and deliveries, he just did a 24 hour turn around, driving from here to New Hampshire and back. But he has hardly asked about AM and I wonder if it's because he doesn't want to think about the what if's. What if it was me in the hospital or even, what if it was him? His life is as stressful as they come, running his own business, responsible for four dependents as well as eight employees. He has never handled this time of year very well. He just hunkers down and plows through it with little time to rest, relax or even smile some days. AM certainly wasn't as extreme as my OH, she allowed herself to have fun, unfortunately one of the things she loved to do for herself was the thing that landed her in the hospital. Of course we don't know whether she would have had the stroke whether she had broken her leg or not but for me I worry that my OH is heading for a breakdown every year about this time.

So, as well as looking after myself, I have to make sure I keep an eye on S. Our sailboat was launched on Sunday, rechristened with a more appropriate name (although according to marine protocol we have invited back luck by not getting a virgin to pee on the deck before she went back in the water) and I have made it my mission to get S. out in it twice as many times as last year. Meaning eight times which is completely doable from now until October haul out. Just because we are in the boat business doesn't mean we get to spend all our time on the water and it is out there that S is really able to relax and do nothing. So in the interest of our  health and well-being I vow to keep walking in the mornings and get S to join me when he is home. We will have fun with the boys and not spend all our time running them around from activity to activity.

Tomorrow I am going to see AM for the first time and I am taking some lilacs and lily of the valley from the garden for her room, cheese (of course) and lots of fresh fruit. Hopefully I will be able to wheel her outside for a little picnic and fresh air. And when I get home I want to tell S all about my visit so that he can understand how important it is for both of us to take care of ourselves and each other.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Random Tuesday

  • We're all still recovering from my Mum's Birthday Weekend. I call it PTCT - Post Traumatic Cousin Letdown.  No. 2 Son had the staples taken out of his head by a friend of ours on Sunday but I still haven't gotten around to posting any photos of all the fun.

  • Soccer starts up again this week but luckily for us No. 3 has been moved up to play U12 and will be on the same team as his middle brother. On the pitch is about the only place where they get along so it's a win-win situation as we will only have soccer three nights a week instead of four and there's less driving to away games.

  • Golf season is in full swing and the boys are taking full advantage of their junior memberships at my Dad's club. I love golf. It requires the boys to dress nicely, behave apprpriately and be out of the house for three or four hours.
  • Haven't been riding in weeks but heard from my Dad that there is a woman organizing a riding programme for disabled children who is looking for help which could solve a couple of my problems. Working in the cheese shop isn't what it was, I am by myself on the two quietest days of the week and that's no fun and I really feel like I should be doing something more. Another problem is that when it's quiet in the shop I am bored and when I am bored I eat and did I mention I work in a gourmet cheese shop. Nibble, nibble ...

  • No. 3 Son has been having problems at school again and I am getting a little tired of the way things are being handled. It seems that yesterday they had a class meeting to talk about any problems. It was to be a time to air any and all grievances and as No. 3 said, "Mum, they're all hypocrites." I was shocked, first because he used such a big word and second because he used it correctly. It seems the kids love to complain about any perceived slights and are all quick to tattle tale on others. The culture of Standing Up to Bullying appears to have reached the tipping point, at least in this Grade Four class where, if you have the slightest problem with a classmate, you accuse them of bullying. I know bullying is a real problem for many kids but much of what they are talking about in my son's class is regular day-to-day bickering amongst 9 and 10 year olds.

  • I spent yesterday afternoon going through my closet putting together outfits that I could wear out for lunch or dinner or shopping. In other words, if I had anywhere to go that didn't involve kids, a not-very-well trained dog and mud. It was fun but a little pointless and I couldn't seem to take any decent photos of the outfits like all those "What I Wore" bloggers.

  • I had the chance to buy a week in an Irish cottage for $800 plus airfare this September but of course the week is one when my OH is at a boat show (surprise, surprise). It's just not fair (to quote any one of my children) that these damn shows not only occur during the winter, spring, summer and now, apparently not wanting to be left out - fall.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Wake Up Call

Monday morning after the kids had finally left for school I sat down to read my emails and recover from the weekend of all things family (photos to come). I opened one from C which began, "Some bad news. AM broke her leg playing hockey on Sunday. Both tibia and fibula. She underwent surgery and had a plate and pins put in." That was bad enough, thank you very much. A mother of four children ages 3, 9, 11 and 13 who works part time managing several apartment buildings which her family owns, AM has a a lot on her plate and being laid up with a full cast on her leg and months of recovery ahead of her was bad enough but then I went on to read the second paragraph.

"Sometime during the night, after the surgery she had a stroke. It affected her right side and she cannot move her leg, arm and is having trouble speaking."

I didn't process this right away. The phone rang and D was on the line and said, "How can this have happened?" We must have opened up the email at exactly the same time. AM is my age. She is an athlete, she doesn't smoke and she is, as I always describe her, the goodest person I know. How can she have had a stroke? Immediately emails started flying around and over the past four days more information has been passed along and this morning I called the hospital and was able to talk to her for a few minutes. She is improving, can speak and is able to move her right leg. Her husband is commuting the 45 minutes from home to the hospital daily and they hope to move her closer to home next week. Her youngest and the two month old puppy they just got are staying with friends for the short term and her sister has flown home from Greece to take care of the kids. In the words of one friend, "the hockey, soccer and school Moms have moved in and have the older kids continuing with their regular routines." Of course meals are being taken care of and they are doing as well as can be expected.

I think what really hit me was the thought - it's not what people will say about you when you're gone but they'll do for you when you're still here and need them. AM has a close knit family and an incredibly diverse group of friends, many of whom have know her since birth. I met her when I was 13 but my Other Half has known her his whole life. She is the sort of person who comes into any situation and makes everyone feel at ease. She is a connector, bringing people together from all walks of life. She is one of the few religious people I know but never makes you feel uncomfortable about it. I have often envied her her faith.

I know she is going to recover but it is going to be a very long road. All the things she and her family have taken for granted will have to be rethought and reprioritized but if anyone can make it through what is to come it will be AM and the multitude of people who will be there to help.
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