Writhe, Burn and Melt

My grandson, The Blur is beginning to start to get tired. I call him The Blur because he’s such an active lad, he can be hardly be photographed. He’s only 2 1/2, and little kids are generally bouncy, active beings, but he is especially so, and reminds his papa and I of when we were children*, which is alternately endearing, alarming, humorous, annoying, fun, and/or exhausting.
Especially the alarming and exhausting parts, because apparently he’s one of those kids who doesn’t need as much sleep. A few months ago he figured out how to pop off the child-proof doorknob cover to escape his room, and a few weeks later, had removed a couple of hinge pins to his bedroom door towards a similar escape attempt. (His parents just want to be sure of where he is when they are trying to sleep!)
Right now he’s squirming off and on and around his mum’s lap, and off and on the furniture, and off and on and around her lap again, and off and on and under me, and so on. His mum explained, “I call this the ‘Writhing’ stage.”
“Perfect term! He’s not ready for a siesta yet, is he?” I ask rhetorically. ‘Siesta’ = nap; we’re speaking in code over his head.
“No, next is the ‘Manic’ stage,” she sighed.
“Burnoff!” I confirmed, thinking of his evening hyperdrive mode, when he needs to burn off the last bit of energy.
“I know he’s ready when he gets to the ‘Melting’ stage.”
I’m imagining Dali’s watches flopped over tree limbs, and that’s pretty much what The Blur looks like when it’s time for reading books. And then after gathering a number of toys and bears and books, he “reads” to himself before possibly sleeping during naptime.
_______
* I’m not saying that he has ADHD like I do; he’s only 2 1/2. But we’re really conscious about channelling all that energy and nimble-fingered intelligence to positive stuff!

Re-tailored

Golly, it’s been some time since I’ve written a post. It’s not for a lack of thoughts, but rather energy.  My sleep has been disturbed by nightmares for, well, months, and the cumulative effect wears me down in the evenings.
This I had posted over years back.  As the saying describes, Friends come and go, but enemies hang around. I thought I had laid to rest some of those old demons, and perhaps I had, but now they reappear, previous horrors conflated with the memories of new experiences.

TAILOR-MADE

Tailor-made, I was.
Though all my clothes hung on me
And I was awkward as hell
Shoelaces usually tripped undone
And my hair ties came loose.
Tailor-made for being the victim
Geeky, younger, smaller, four-eyed,
Clumsy, studious, totally clueless
Socially awkward, unpopular
And best of all, face-blind.
I never knew who it was that poked me with pins
Stole my purse, squashed my lunch
Took my street clothes while in gym
Groped barely-developing breasts
Slammed me against the lockers.
Smeared clay on my chair like shit
Marked on my books, tore my assignments
Called me names, oh so many names
Or briefly pretended to befriend me
To make me the butt of a joke.
Not that I didn’t protest repeatedly
I reported the abuses properly
Told many official, protective people
Friends, family, teachers, administrators
But their responses were unilateral
“Boys will be boys,” said dad.
“You’re just being whiney,” said mom.
“If you can’t tell us who these people are,
that you ‘think’ are doing things to you,
then we can’t do anything,” said the officials.
Perhaps the real problem
Was not in what I said,
But that I was speaking up.
When I asserted myself
They redefined my reality.
Saying that what I perceived did not exist
That I was crazy, hallucinating, or on drugs
That I was just trying to attract attention
That I was making things up
When I wasn’t.
The perfect victim is someone
Who can’t identify the people that did things
Who tries to be good and please people
Who misses danger cues
Who is easy to silence.
The anger and frustration at being disbelieved
Turns into confusion and self-doubt
Maybe it’s just me
I must be wrong
Everyone says so.
Depression sinks in
I must be crazy
I keep perceiving this as reality
When everyone says it isn’t so
Isn’t that the logical conclusion?
You must trust people to help you
They are important people
They are the ones in charge
They know what’s best for you
They keep asserting you’re wrong.
When the reality is given to you by others
And they keep changing the story
It’s hard to keep your facts straight.
This is of course is only further proof
That you are crazy, and making things up.
Trust is earned, not demanded.
Funny how trust erodes
When reality is allowed to reassert itself
And I re-assert myself
Even though they re-assert:
I’m just acting out and making up stories.


Some more of my favorite things

Yet another dreich day, overcast, mizzling (misty-drizzling), clammy and hovering around the freezing mark.  I’ve managed to wrench my ankle a bit, and am long-last holed up in bed with my warm rice-sock wrapped around it, a and have a bowl of oatmeal and a mug of rum-tea for comfort.
In a salute to all things cozy (because dammit, it’s January and there’s still February to slog through), I thought I’d share some of the things that make my life more comfortable.
Let’s start in the kitchen, because everybody eats.  I’ve always hated can openers, probably due to my left-handed tendencies makes hooking the mechanism onto the can seem absurdly awkward.  (Then again, my lefty can opener is also annoying.)  Cheap can openers — the sort most of us have purchased at the grocery — have lousy handles that cut into the hands, and they eventually get rusty, dull, and gross as well.  Even the KitchenAid opener with fatter handles is cumbersome, especially for my daughter who has small hands. But last year I found a wonderful tool, not just the OXO brand, but their locking Good Grips version.  The locking part means that once you’ve clinched the opener onto your can, it hangs onto it, like a Scottish Terrier with a tug-toy.  When the can’s open, push down on the little button and it releases the can.  It’s easy for arthritic grandma (me) to use, it’s easy for my son with the giant hands to use, and it’s easy for my daughter with the small hands to use.  Hooray!

can opener with comfy thick handles and a wide half-moon turnkey

I like my futon bed because it provides excellently firm support, but on the other hand, a futon is so firm that I felt like an even more arthritic “bag o’ bones” trying to sleep on it; no position was comfortable, and sleeping on my side was worst of all, as my shoulder and hip bones pressed against the mattress.  So I finally got a memory foam mattress topper.  After unwrapping and unrolling, it took a couple of days to off-gas and expand all the wrinkles out before I dragged it atop my bed and popped on the mattress cover that came with it before remaking my bed.  But the foam “breathes” well so you don’t get sweaty, and has such small pores that it doesn’t feel like lying on a sponge. And heavens, it’s amazing how much more restful my bed is now!
Once I finally ooze out of bed between the cats, it’s time to get dressed.  Half the year I start with a base layer of thin silk long underwear.  Silk is amazing  stuff; it helps you stay warm yet doesn’t get too warm.  Plus, the material is so thin and slick that my outer clothes are neither tight nor bunch up.
Often I’ll also end up wearing my gloves.  Our classroom has always been the coldest, but even at the grocery my hands will be cold.  After examining a number of styles, I finally settled on some Thermoskin arthritis gloves.
fish-scale patterned black stretch gloves without finger tips

The neoprene-like material helps trap body heat, which keeps my hands warmer despite the Raynaud’s, and that plus the compression reduces the arthritis pain.  The gloves are also covered with grippy-nubbins, so it’s easier to hold onto things.  Most arthritis gloves are that ugly medical-beige color, but I think this black color is a bit more stylish; one of my students said they look like “Spiderman gloves” which is probably as much of a compliment as one is going to get on a medical aid.
Now there’s a gripe – why IS it that anything in the “medical aid” category is nearly always ugly and over-priced?
After a couple of months of coping with the sudden attacks of vertigo, I finally realized that I wasn’t getting to work quite as well-groomed as I used to.  I wasn’t gross, just not getting my hair washed daily.  Eventually I figured out that when I don’t have time for a bath in the morning, I was skipping a quick shower because I don’t have good balance when my eyes are closed or when I’m looking upwards, both of which apply to standing in the shower and shampooing!  Okay, I decided to get a shower seat, to sit safely in the shower without feeling like I was going to fall and crack my head.  So I bop on down to the store, and within the hour emerged with a box of parts to assemble.  The assembly was simple enough, but I was slightly miffed.  Thirty-five bucks for an ugly plastic thing!  Granted, the new piece of furniture cluttering up our small bathroom is not just a shower seat — we all love the fact that it makes a great book or laptop bench when one is parked in the bathroom.  But holy cows, can’t someone design something useful that doesn’t look like it came home from the hospital?
Plastic white seat with drainage holes, on tubular metal legs

I haven’t used a cane often enough to warrant getting a fancy one, or to become a connoisseur of the various features. But when I do have a badly-twisted ankle, I’ve come to appreciate how a cane helps ease my gait. It also made a dandy pointer when I taught horticulture classes. It even gives you something to lean upon when waiting on a bench. But as everyone who’s ever used a cane knows, canes are annoying when you’re not using them. They’re hard to park securely when you’re dining, and they’re damn awkward if you’re traveling, especially on airplanes. That’s why I got a folding cane. I can just stretch the ends a bit and pop it out of joint, and fold it up to store in my carry-on bag. It’s also pretty fun to pull out and give it a little flick and click-click-click everything snaps into place. (I find this feature terribly amusing.) Currently, it lives on the floor of my car, out of the way behind the driver’s seat, waiting for the next time I need it.
What’s your favorite thing for making your life easier?

Schrödinger's snack

It’s Christmas and of course we’ve been eating all day, but for some celebratory reason, we’re always hungry anyway.  Come evening, my son-in-law stumbles blearily downstairs, through the living room, and into the kitchen.
“I thought you were taking a nap?”  enquires my baby-bouncing daughter.
“I am.  I can get something to eat, can’t I?”
Fridge door opens, shuts, man lurches back upstairs to bed.
I nodded to her, “You-know.  It’s like the physics cat … he can either be asleep or awake, but you don’t know until you ask him.”

Music to Bounce By

My five-month old grandson, AKA Tigger or Mr BoingBoing, has loved to bounce from the get-go.  Even when he was in utero, my daugher remembers how the sonography technician ended up sighing when she visited, because the baby was so mobile that it was hard to get a measurement.  Later on, the mom-to-be said that although the baby book bore the reminder to make sure that the baby moved each day, she never had to bother to check.
“I hope he learns how to sit for half an hour by the time school starts,” I mentioned, with ADHD concerns hanging unspoken in the air.
“He does have a great attention span.  I just hope he starts sleeping better soon,” added the proud but perennially tired mom.
“There are some children that never do sleep much.”
“But I don’t want one of those …”  The idea of spending the next decade or more taking turns sleeping was almost too much to contemplate.
“No one ever does!”
Thankfully, the lad loves his doorway bouncer.  Not only has his bouncy seat just been retired because he can he roll over and out of it, he’s even started getting on his hands and knees.
In my familial role as Bouncy Lady, I put together an iTunes playlist of “Music to Bounce By” for bouncing him on our knees, as babies love music, it’s generally more entertaining for all, and slightly less tiring for the adult if they don’t have to sing.  We want to expose him to a variety of music.  Right now, “Wipe Out” by the Ventures is a favorite.  (I’ve included links to a couple of pieces that are not well known, but are worth checking out.)

  • Good Vibrations    The Beach Boys
  • Ticket To Ride    The Beatles
  • Will It Go Round in Circles    Billy Preston
  • That’l Be The Day    Buddy Holly & The Crickets
  • Superstition  Stevie Wonder
  • Working In The Coal Mine    Devo
  • Satin Doll    Duke Ellington and His Orchestra
  • Crocodile Rock    Elton John
  • Think    Aretha Franklin
  • Sing, Sing, Sing    Benny Goodman
  • Mouse Jigs    Flook
  • Barracuda    Heart
  • Tijuana Taxi   Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass
  • Immigrant Song    Led Zeppelin
  • Dancing On The Ceiling   Lionel Richie
  • Another One Bites The Dust    Queen
  • Burning Down the House   Talking Heads
  • Shake Your Tailfeather    Ray Charles
  • Four Sticks    Sones de Mexico Ensemble
  • Pride And Joy   Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • Wipe Out     The Ventures
  • Hawaii Five-O    The Ventures
  • Linus And Lucy    Vince Guaraldi

Every few songs we have something a bit less frenetic, to keep from getting too fatigued.  And of course, we never get through the whole list in one pass; just a few songs at a time.
At least there’s one thing that he’ll sit still for:  watching Star Trek!  But that’s a story for another day …

12 Days

Man, but July just oozed by in a protracted mental fog.  One of the huge blocks to regular bloggery was the incredible 12-Day Headache.  It got slightly better at times, and it got worse at times, but the “Ten Kilos of Lead Atop Me Head” pain just would NOT go away!
It made working the three jobs worse, despite my adamant determination to not miss more than a day’s work from the para or grocery jobs.  I couldn’t even consider missing a day from the professor job, because summer semester runs at twice the speed, and we had no wiggle-room in our schedule for covering everything that needed to be covered.
As before, putting thoughts together was like stringing beads while wearing heavy ski mittens.  But this time I didn’t have a handy excuse, other than, “I’ve had a headache for over a week now,”  Being in pain means not sleeping well, and increases stress, and all three of these factors combine into a viscous circle.

  • I tried acetominophen (paracetamol), in addition to my daily naproxen sodium that I take for arthralgia.
  • I tried soaking in a hot bath in a dim room.
  • I stood under a strong shower and let it beat upon my head.
  • I laid down with cold compresses.
  • I took two-hour afternoon naps because I could not keep my eyes open.
  • I took a vigourous 1-mile walk and gardened, and avoided afternoon naps in hopes of getting better sleep.
  • I had a hot toddy at bedtime.
  • I ate cold ice cream to the point of “brain-freeze”.
  • I massaged my head.
  • I vigorously brushed my hair.
  • I took Imitrex, my migraine medication.
  • I did Tai Chi Chih-like stretches.
  • I layed with my feet higher than my head.
  • I massaged my feet.

I thought to myself, “This can’t keep going on!  I can’t live like this.”  But of course it can, and people do.
Initially, I kept saying, “I’ll do that tomorrow when I feel better.”  But the mañana list kept getting longer and longer.  After a week, I finally came to the grips that for whatever reason, I was going to have to deal with The Damn Leaden Burden of Pain as a chronic issue, whether long-term or short-term. It forced me to pare down my Daily To Do lists to the merest essentials:

  1. This morning I will shower and shampoo.
  2. After a nap, I must write at last 75% of an exam.
  3. I will eat something nutritious for dinner before working tonight.
  4. I will set out a complete change of clothes before I go to bed.

What hellish demands upon my time and energy!  That was of course, a day when I wasn’t teaching a class, just doing the morning para job and a few hours of stocking groceries after tea.
Oh crap, I forgot one:
5.  I will refill my daily pill minder.
You know you’re exhausted when dosing out a few bedtime pills is too much of a bother.
Finally I gave up and went to my GP.  “I’m exhausted.  I’m even falling asleep at work, and at dinner, even though I’m sleeping seven to ten hours a night, with two hours naps during the day.  My joints and muscles ache.  I keep getting bruises, and cuts heal slowly, and my gums bleed when I brush my teeth.  My hands and feet are cold.  I’m sensitive to light, my ears ring most of the time, and I’m having dizzy spots.  I get disoriented, and have the worst mental fogginess, despite taking my ADHD meds. I have dry mouth, and am thirsty all the time and drinking two or more liters of water a day.  AND I’VE HAD THIS HORRIBLE HEADACHE FOR TWELVE DAYS.”
I mentioned a family history of diabetes.  The doc sent me down to the lab for blood draws, also checking my thyroid and some other factors.  Additionally, he gave me a heavy-duty pain reliever that I took when I went to bed.  The next day was much better, although I could still feel headache lurking around the edges, so I took another pill the next night.
The Damn Leaden Burden of Pain finally went away.  My blood tests all came back normal, thankfully.  I don’t know what caused such an intractible headache, but I sure hope it doesn’t return.  Or if it does, I’ll smack it down a lot quicker with the pain med.  The pain-exhausted-stress cycle gets so hard to break.

Where P = 0

Where P is the momentum, and P = mvv = velocity, naturally.  But the m = inertial mass.  As in, if something doesn’t act upon and force the m, then there is no v and no P, and certainly no W of work!
I’ve not been blogging much lately due to the Jobs, but even after the education-related Job #1 and Job #2 finished a couple weeks ago, I’m still finding it hard to get back into the blogging groove.  I’m still working Job #3, which is only part-time, but grocery stocking is giving me the most inconsistent hours and days, ever. It’s getting to the point where I’m having trouble remembering what day of the week it is.
The Geekling has yet to sleep through the night; I’m not feeding him at nights, but apparently Grandma Ears are the same as Mom Ears, and hunger cries in another part of the house will still awaken me.
Furthermore, my watch battery died, so I can’t even tell when I am, aside from night and day.
But most of all, I have a bad case of Inertia.  I have a bazillion things to do, but struggle to complete the most time-sensitive ones.  I am working on some posts, but stringing thoughts together is like watching syrup ooze down the bottle.
What do you do to get over Inertia?