Monday, May 27, 2013

Stay To The Right!

You know that scene in The Goonies (1985 box office hit) when Mikey has to "use the men's room"?  And Ma Fratelli insists that he "stays to the right!" like three different times??
Well, that scene kept playing over and over in my head today while I was on the river with John, Olivia, and our friend Mike.

For those unfamiliar with the movie, here is a video clip of what I'm talking about...

(if the address is unclickable, then just copy and paste into your browser)

It was a beautiful Monday afternoon.  Bored out of our skulls, and low on finances, we decided to take our canoes and head down the river (with our good friend Mike) for a little day trip.  On this day trip, I packed all of us a lunch so we could sit at one of the islands and have an outdoor picnic.  With lunch, sunblock, bug spray, canoes, paddles, and life jackets all ready to go, we headed to the boat ramp to launch our canoes.
John and Olivia sat in "June" (the 17 foot Old Town canoe) and I took the smaller Old Town solo canoe, just as lovingly named, "Joy".   (John named his canoes after Olivia and me - yeah, he's a romantic and sexy guy)
The first leg of our trip went really well.  It was the first time in 12 years that I seriously got into a canoe or kayak to go down the river.  And this was Olivia's first big trip as well.  But, even though it was ages since I paddled down the river, I took to it like riding a bicycle.  My paddling was dead on, and that relaxed feeling of being on the river on a picture perfect day was starting to show on my face.

All was right with the world - or at least all was right in my world. 
Heck, even my pain limit was manageable today.  And anytime that happens, it's a great day.

So, we're sitting down on one of the islands, having lunch, taking some pictures, watching a boat load of other canoes and kayaks (pun was intended) go by and just having a good time.  I think it was Olivia who had asked John (or maybe it was me) how long it would take to get our final destination.
"Not too much farther.  We'll be in our canoes for a little longer than we just were. But, when we get to the trussle bridge, we'll need to stay to the right."

Seeing the flicker of slight alarm flash in my face, he continues by saying,

"You'll be fine.  I'll let you know in plenty of time what to do when we get there.  The water gets a bit choppy and there's a pretty strong current.  Don't worry.  You'll do fine."

He may as well put a sign on my that said in bright red letters "SOS", because I swear to you those words were my curse.

But knowing the confidence my loving husband had in me, I pushed the worry way down deep.  And feeling like I could take on the world, we all cleaned up and got back into our canoes to head back down the river.

Here's the part of this little story that should've set off bells and whistles in my head.  I should've taken this next part of the story and really heeded the foreshadowing in it and maybe prepared myself for what was going to come later.

So, settled into our canoes, John and Olivia kind of got up next to me in the river.  We were just talking, laughing, and relaxing.

"Hey John.  Is this paddle that you fixed?"

"Yup.  When I got it, it was broken.  I fixed it by using conduit and then I sprayed expanding foam in it."

"Oh.  Did you do that so it would float?"

"Yeah.  But, you know what?  After I fixed it, I had it out with me and Mike on one of our trips.  I wanted to test it and the damn thing sank straight to the bottom!  So, be careful with that paddle.  You lose it here in one of the deeper parts, you ain't getting it back."

With a bit of nervous laughter, we sort of separated from each other and continued our trip.

So, we're floating down the river and in the distance, the "Bridge of Infinite Worry and Utter Anguish" started to get bigger and bigger.  I voiced my concern and John said to "follow Mike and to just do what he does".  With another reassuring compliment from my husband, I started to follow Mike.

Mike's in the front, then it's me in the middle, and John and Olivia holding up the rear of our nautical convoy.

Mike goes under the bridge without incident.

Then, I start to head under. 

I did indeed "stay to the right" but the water rapidly got choppier and more swift.  I was paddling, and trying desperately to keep up with the current. 

I think that's when I heard the river laugh at me....

I was about to hit a piece of debris in the river that was sticking out, and overcompensating for my need to avoid any collision, I managed to tip over in the really bitter cold water of the river.

For me, it seemed to happen both in slow motion and at fast rate.
If I close my eyes, I can still see my hands grab onto the sides of the canoe as it's tilting dangerously to the left. 
About a million thoughts came rushing through my head at once.  Like literally, a million thoughts.

My first initial thought was how cold the water was.  It was so cold, that the instant I was in the water, I could no longer feel my feet.  Which under normal circumstances, I would've loved.  But, knowing that I was in very cold water and how important my feet are as a diabetic, I certainly didn't like the "I can't feel my feet" feeling.
I then thought of everything I had in the waterproof container we brought along (my insulin pump and the camera) and the not-as-important stuff I had in the "dry bag" (things like my ID, my meter, car keys) - I thought, "Boy, I'm putting those "waterproof" things to the test now, aren't I?"
I know I consciously thought to try and keep my mouth as closed as possible, for I didn't want a communicable disease from the filth I know lies in the river.
I remember thinking, "Ooops... There go my sandals.  I should've listened to John and wore sneakers."
I know I thought about the current that was threatening to take me to the opposite side of the river.
So, with all of these thoughts in my head and really not knowing how I was going to get myself out of this mess, all I could do was scream and cry out for John.
And let me tell you... that man was out of his canoe and next to me assisting in less than 30 seconds. 

He tended to me and I heard Mike say something about grabbing the now floating away canoe. 
John got me to stand  by a log that was sticking out of the water and handed me the front end of his canoe where Olivia sat with a horrified look on her face, and he told me to "Stand right here, hold onto this canoe and DON'T MOVE."
Shaking, but still alive, I managed to stand on the slippery rocks under my feet and hang onto the canoe that kept my one and only daughter dry.  It was tough work. I had lost my sandals, and I couldn't stop shivering.  And that current was so strong!
But, knowing that Olivia was so scared and so frightened, I made keeping her safe my number one priority.
John and Mike, meanwhile, are starting to retrieve the canoe.  I saw them flip it back right side up in the water, and I saw Mike grab my shoes and dry bag from the water.
John comes back to Olivia and me and tells me to hang onto the front of his canoe while he pushes it towards the tiny beach where Mike is. 
"O (teeth chattering) K (teeth chattering)"  was all I managed to say.

So, that's what happened.  John pushed me and Olivia closer to the tiny beach where Mike was.  John helped Olivia out of the canoe while Mike helped me put my sandals back on and he helped me to walk safely onto the beach.   Both men were helpful, brave, and very gentlemanly about the whole ordeal.

Since Olivia and I were out of harm's way, John and Mike set out to get my lost kayak paddle (remember?  the one John told me specifically not to drop into the water?)

They could see it.  But, where it was, the current was pretty fast and it was also about 7 or 8 feet down.  The reward didn't match the risk, so they both came back to where Olivia and I were. 
I was shivering and half crying, half moaning.  I had inspected both water proof containers.  All my important stuff stayed dry.

 The only thing that was wet was...    well...     me.

All in all, it was a great day.  I ended up using Olivia's canoe paddle to finish up our trip.  And we all had a lot to laugh about.  Them more than me.  I was too busy trying to will my body temperature back up.

John told me that I need is more "seat time" and I'll get better and better at it.  that man sure does have a lot of confidence in me.  I guess I can do now is prove to him that he's right. 

Thanks for reading!

Till next time....

Friday, May 24, 2013

Another Pill, Another Day

I am finally, finally getting my new pain killers today for my wretched neuropathic pain!   And it's about time too.  I am telling you, I actually had a saw in my hand the other night - threatening, with tears streaming down my face - to saw my own feet off. 

Thank God my husband is a loving and compassionate man with more sense than me, because he gently removed said saw from my hands and helped me back to bed and arranged ice packs to surround my burning and painful feet.

I don't think anybody in their right mind would do something like I did.

But, I have to be honest with you, I really wasn't in my right mind.  My pain can be very tricky sometimes.  There are times that I can sort of deal with it... ya know, just push it to the back of my head.  But, man oh man, there are times when I seriously think about killing myself. 
And I have tried everything under the sun - from conservative treatments first, to the more hard core medicines - all to no avail!

I think my doctor is annoyed with how many times I've visited him these last few weeks and maybe even more annoyed by how many times I have called.  But, I don't care!  They are not at home with saws in their hands dangerously close to being on the brink to cutting off their own feet!
In actuality, my doctor called in these new pills for me awhile ago.  I was just waiting for my insurance company to get the prior authorization for it run through.

Thanks insurance company.  Your lack of compassion and your inability to get things done in a more timely manner had me waiting an entire week and a half in excruciating pain!

So, with these new pills, I hope I gain a little more independence.  Maybe I'll be able to walk better, or at least a little longer than I can now.  I'd be nice to be able to go bike riding again with my family.  And it'd be even nicer to enjoy camping again.  Is that too much to ask for?  I don't think so. 

So, I'll have to let you know how these new pills work.  I don't need to take them for any length of time to have them build up in my system.  These are true pain killers that I take when I am in pain.  And with that in mind, I may just need to take them any time after 3 or 4 pm, cause that's when my pain is at it's worse. 

So, in other news - we're still working on that "secret" project.  It's so exhilarating to be doing something like this.  Like, I am super excited at the prospect of actually getting this thing done.  Seeing it through till the end.  It's going to mean big changes for us, but I think change doesn't have to be a horrible thing.  And this is the sort of change that we'll all appreciate. 

Well, thanks so much for reading. 
Till next time...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cautiously Excited

There are times in every person's life that they have to make decisions.  Sometimes those decisions are difficult ones to make.  Sometimes, the choice is easy. 
John and I are at a crossroads in our lives right now.  We have a pretty big decision to make.  And, no matter what we decide, it will forever change our lives. 
I said on Facebook that I am nervously excited about this particular news. 
Nervous because we've never done anything remotely close to this before.
Excited because, well.... we've never done anything remotely close to this before.
The people who need to know what's going on, already know. 
For those of you that don't.... Don't feel bad.  It's nothing personal.  Wait.  Scratch that.  It is personal.  It's personal to John and me.  And in due time, everyone will know what's going on. 
In the mean time, if I'm blogging less or if I'm not around as much, it's because this decision that we have to make will be taking up huge chunks of our time. 
I don't want to say anything yet, because nothing has been - what's the word I'm looking for here.... - finalized yet.  I mean, it's almost done, just not there quite yet.  So, I'll feel like a complete idiot (if something happens and it doesn't work out) for spilling beans that should've stayed in the can.  If it doesn't work out, if this decision that we have to make goes differently than what we had kind of planned, then we're no worse off than we are now. 
With that said, I want to ask all of you....
to please pray.
We need prayer for making the right call.  We need prayer for knowledge in what's about to happen. 
If it does happen, it's a pretty big deal.  So, just pray and pray some more for us. 
And hopefully, before the summer is out, we can announce what's been going on.  And while I asked for prayer, I'd also like to kindly ask not to push for further details just yet. 
We're keeping it under wraps for many reasons.  Many personal reasons. 
Thanks all for reading...
Till next time...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Who Ordered the Ford Ranger?

It's after 2 in the morning.  I did try going to bed, but couldn't sleep.  My sinuses are all stuffy, I'm sneezing, and my feet really burn tonight.
So, here I am. 
And now I'm going to blog.

I think tonight's blog will be about Olivia.  Having just celebrated Mother's Day, I thought it would be fitting.

Of course, my loving and sweet daughter made me the cutest Mother's Day card - like - EVER!  She made a trifold card for me and one section of it had "Facts about my Mommy."

To keep this mostly an intimate card between mother and daughter, I will not reveal all of what she said.  However, I will say that she did put a fact on there, that at first glance couldn't believe what she had written.  And since this fact is mostly public knowledge, I shall let you in on what this tidbit of information was.

"She hit McDonald's with her car when she was younger."


I did that almost 17 years ago, and to this day, it's still brought up in conversations when people need a good chuckle.  It could be a holiday, a birthday, heck - even a game night - and someone will certainly almost always bring up the fact that I had traffic backed up for blocks for at least 2 hours at the local McDonald's because I had hit the building... Thank GOD that cell phones weren't equipped with video cameras - thank GOD that there really weren't that many cell phones back then.  I guarantee if I had done that in today's world, I'd be famous on Youtube and end up on Tosh.0 or World's Dumbest.

I was 17 years old at the time   I was craving chicken nuggets with barbeque sauce and a strawberry shake.  And for me, that meant a trip to McDonald's.  Having just got my driver's license,  I (in the sweetest and most innocent voice I could use) asked my mom if I could take her Ranger to go to McDonald's. 
Keep in mind, my mom had just got her Ranger back just a few days prior.  It had been in the shop getting body work done for a couple of weeks. 
Mom did eventually hand me her keys - with great reluctance - and strict orders to go and come right back.
So, I dragged my friend Laurie (who had spent the day with me) to McDonald's and we got in line at the drive-thru.
Placed my order.
"Drive around to the first window please."
I start to drive around and after I got to the first window, but I never re-corrected the steering wheel to go straight ahead to the next window - where my feast awaited.
So, you can imagine it.
I hit the accelerator with very little force to go collect my food, when

I had hit the building. 

And about a gazillion thoughts are going through my head all at once.

My first thought and actual words were of course, many many many many curse words all at once - followed by hitting the steering wheel with my fists in anger and embarrassment. 
My friend Laurie was just staring at me.  She stared at me, then looked at the damage I had caused and said something along the lines of , "Sliv, we gotta get out of the truck."
I couldn't get out on my side, of course, because I had just glued the vehicle to the side of the building.

So, with much humiliation and with my head hung low, I climbed out of the passenger side of my mom's truck and actually saw what I had done.




There were 2 or 3 cars behind us at the drive-thru and the person right behind us also got out of her car.  She asked if we were alright. 
I think I mumbled an answer, but was becoming distracted by the manager of McDonald's coming out of the building.  She didn't look happy at all. 
She asked if we were alright, and kind of ushered us into the kitchen entrance. 
"Do you want to use the phone to call your folks?"


However, I said, "Yes."

I had stared at the phone on the wall at McDonald's for a few minutes. 
I couldn't remember my own phone number.  I think I blocked it so I wouldn't have to face the wrath that I was sure was going to come from the other end of the conversation.  I was going into protective mode and I think I liked it better that way. 
But, I did end up dialing my home number.  In the back of my head, I was hoping for a busy signal and to my utter disappointment, the phone had started to ring.
My mom answered.

You know those moments when you were younger and you had to tell your parents something that you were sure was going to get you like years of outrageous punishments and questions galore?

Without hesitation, but with unmistakable and relentless apprehension and anxiety, I tell my mom the whole tale of how I just crashed her truck. 

Her first response was, "How's the truck?"


Yup.  She really wanted to know how much damage I had done to her vehicle that she had just got back from the shop.
"Not good."
I heard my mom sigh and yell for Daddy to pick up the phone. 

Yippee!  Let's add more to the fun, mom.

"What were you thinking!?!"
I said it was an accident and apologized about a dozen times...

By this time, it's getting darker outside and the weather was threatening to storm badly.  Our order finally made it in front of us. While cradling the phone in my shoulder I took my wallet out so  I  could pay for it, but the manager said, "Don't worry about it.  You have bigger problems."
So my parents said that they were on their way.  I took my food outside, and saw a huge line of cars wrapped around McDonald's and backed up throughout the parking lot and spilling out into the streets.
I guess nobody was cooking at home that night.  And why should they?  Why eat a boring dinner at home when you can go to Mickey D's and get dinner and a show?    Some people were impatiently honking their horns, while others laughed at me, and then there were those that looked at me thanking their stars that I wasn't their kid who had done this.
After I had finished eating, I sat there with Laurie.  We didn't say much.  Just stared at the traffic, the demolished truck that was stuck to the side of the building and my feet.
Lightning had started to strike. 
And this is all true...
It was so hot and humid, it was mostly lightning.  But eventually, thunder, wind and rain showed up too.
So, it's storming outside.  I had just crashed my parent's vehicle into a fast food restaurant and I was waiting for them to show up and rescue me from this totally embarrassing situation.

I see a van pull up into the parking lot. 
I recognized the van as the family van. 

I only saw headlights at first, but then the van had parked about 3 spaces away from a parking lot street light. I knew it was our van.  I first saw my mom get out.
Then, I saw a man get out from the driver's side, cowboy hat on - all in black - and this man was holding a crow bar and he was walking very tall.   

When I saw him, I shit several bricks.
I couldn't even swallow.  I was so nervous.

The man was my dad, with a crow bar in his hand.  The crow bar wasn't going to be used on me, of course.  But, I have to be honest with you - for a brief moment there,  I really thought it was going to be.  The crow bar was going to be used to free the Ranger from the building.


It took my dad several blows to the truck to finally release the building from it's grasp.  I could hear him banging and hitting.
I was shaking uncontrollably.  My mom, Laurie, and I just stared at the whole scene. 

He got it loose. 

He was able to drive it away from the building.  It made an awful sound, but it was drivable
When the truck was safely away from McDonald's, I saw my folks go into the store to talk to the manager.
Then I saw them come out.
Laurie and I got into the van with my mom.  Dad got into the truck and we drove home.

That whole night, I don't think my dad said one word to me.  He may have, but I don't remember.  All I remember was the look on his face.  In the rain, black trench coat on, cowboy hat on, and a crow bar in his hand.  Those images are forever burned into my head. 

So, that's it...
The whole sorted tale on how I crashed into the side of building going 2 mph and totaling a truck that my mom had just got back.
(FYI, the building sustained no damage)

I'd like to thank my daughter for reminding me of that whole evening.  (Of course, she wasn't around back then, but like I said, this story comes up often and she gets a kick out of it every time)

There you have it. 
That's how you get a free meal at McDonald's.  :)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Five Kids, Five Senses. One Wonerful Mom.

The smell of lemon furniture polish.  The sound of the washing machine spinning and the dryer humming.  The taste of blue ribbon winning lasagna.  The sight of her cleaning the bathroom for the second time that week.  The feel of nice clean sheets that she religiously washes on a weekly basis.

The smell of Christmas cookies baking in the oven.  The sound of a Hank Williams song playing on the radio. The taste of a strawberry pie on my birthday.  The sight of her making the beds in the morning.  The feel of her hand holding mine during prayer.

The smell of a meatloaf cooking to perfection in the oven.  The sound of the beater mixing cake batter in a mixing bowl.  The taste of medicine given when I am sick.  The sight of her worried face as she looks at the thermometer.  The feel of her cool, but loving hands on my forehead.

The intoxicating smell of a blackberry pie.  The sound of her laughing while on the phone with her brother.   The taste of toast with cinnamon on it that she made for breakfast for me.  The sight of her washing a big pile of dishes for the tenth time that day.  The alluring feel of that clean and soft towel I wrap myself in after my shower because she never forgets to do laundry.

The welcoming smell of a candle burning on the coffee table.  The sound of her voice after I walk through the front door after school.  The taste of the snack that she prepared for me so I could do my homework without having to feel my stomach grumble.  The sight of her hanging sheets and clothing over the wash line.  The feel of right fitting shoes on my feet.

The smell of spaghetti sauce in the pan on the stove.  The sound of her singing (off key) to a George Jones song.  The taste of that nasty homemade chicken noodle soup that she swears heals all.  The sight of her and my dad holding hands in the front seats of the van.  The feel of air conditioning that could only be felt in their bedroom. 

The smell of sunblock as I got ready to go lay in the sun with her.  The sound of the pool pump running.  The taste of ice cream that she dished up so we could cool down after being in the sun.  The sight of her taking our bathing suits and hanging them over the shower stall.  The feel of a slight sunburn that doesn't seem to hurt till after a shower is taken.

The smell of the flowers from her garden.  The sound of her calling the dog to come eat.  The taste of the turkey on Thanksgiving.  The sight of her holding Cuddles in her lap.  The safe feeling of being in bed, at home, every single night after she hugs me goodnight.

The fresh and clean smell of my clothes as I slip them over my head.  The sound of The Young and the Restless playing in the living room.  The taste of that hard boiled egg sandwich she made for me to watch during our soap opera.  The sight of her laughing with her dad whenever they got together. 
The feeling of fright I had when I knew I had done something wrong.

The old musty smell of Clemmark, a cabin that we frequented over my childhood.  The sound of the pool table being used downstairs at Clemmark.  The taste of tacos prepared by her and my aunt.  The sight of all of us sitting around a huge table to eat.  The feeling of gratitude that I got to enjoy such awesome beauty with a terrific mom like her.

My mom is a wonderful and loving and gracious woman.  I strive everyday to be just like her.  To love the way she loved and to have the same strength and faith and endurance that she has in her life.  God willing, I'll be able to be half the awesome lady she is. 
She loves and gives without question and does it all with elegance and grace - and with five children to boot.
I never sat on a dirty toilet at home. I never showered in a dirty tub at home.  I never went hungry at home.  I always had clean clothes at home.  I never slept in stinky sheets at home.  I always had love at home.
Do you know why all of these things were possible for me?
Because I had a kick ass mom who never stopped taking care of any of us.  She just did it. 
For that, I thank you. 
For that, I love you.
For that, I say, with tears in my eyes, I wouldn't be who I am today if it wasn't for you, Mom.
I love you Mom...

My dad, mom, and I up at Clemmark

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Incinerators I Call My Feet

My pain today was great and bountiful indeed.  I couldn't walk more than four steps without wanting to fall over. 
I don't know what's been going on the last few days.
I've been being tested. 
Brought to bear some afflictions that only the chronically ill can possibly relate to.
And I was so used to bragging that my painkillers could last me so long too.  I could make thirty pills last a month and a half, sometimes closer to two months.   Lately, forget it.  I'm taking them exactly as prescribed. 
And that leaves me feeling defeated.  Like I'm losing the battle for my health one pill at a time.  Like with every pill I take, I lose a little more dignity and freedom.


IT'S SO AGONIZING and so incredibly LONELY!

I'm so angry at my torturous neuropathy, that I just really want to cut my feet off and be done with it. 

Seriously, just cut those suckers right off. 

You all may think I'm kidding. 

I'm not. 
My feet feel as though someone has ignited them with fire and they stay that way




And if the torrid, incinerating and burning pain weren't bad enough, the feet also cramp up from time to time throughout the day as well.  Then, to make matters worse, my aching and pained feet will sometimes, right out of the blue, just go completely numb on me.  I'll just lose feeling in them all together.  That's the scariest feeling of them all.  When you can't feel a body part that you can see...  Yeah.  Pretty scary stuff. 
So, the feet hurt twenty four hours a day, thanks to my small fiber neuropathy.  The leg thing?  I've had that since I was a little girl. 
I remember some evenings, just crying and crying till my dad would come in and rub my leg for me because my leg would hurt so bad.  He'd have to rub my aching leg till I fell asleep.  Nowadays, John does that type of thing for me.  (Yup, I married someone like my dad) 
But even though this leg thing has been around forever, it hasn't been as frequent as it has been lately.  It used to hit at most 4 or 5 times a year.  Now, it's every couple of weeks - like maybe every other week - that my leg hurts so badly. 
Someone needs to just dig a hole for me and throw me in. 
I mean, I don't seriously want to die.  But, I seriously feel like I am dying.  Know what I mean?   It's a complicated emotion.

Next Wednesday, I do have an appointment with my doctor to maybe see if we can change my pain medication somewhat.  I don't think I need anything too strong.  But, I definitely think I need something stronger than what I'm currently on.  I don't know.   We'll see. 

Maybe, someday soon, some bright new doctor will find a cure for small fiber neuropathy or even type 1 diabetes - although my nerve damage is already done - but, wouldn't that be nice?  A cure for some of these awful ailments?? 
I'd be first in line...
Till next time, dear readers...