September 30, 2011

Sometimes Christians get on my nerves

It’s Plank Pullin’ time! The one day a week that we strongly resolve to ignore the multitude of specks and sawdust around us and pull one bona fide plank from our own eye. Matthew 7:3-5 style.

I'd like to start off by saying that I am a Christian.  Yes, contrary to popular belief here in the Bible Belt, Catholics are Christians.  Yep, all of us.

If I hear, "Well, SOME Catholics are Christians..." again (seriously, that is so offensive), I'm going to hog-tie the offender with some rosary beads.  We believe in the Holy Trinity, that Jesus is the messiah prophesied in the Bible, that He died for the forgiveness of sins, and that He will come again.  We believe the basic tenets of Christianity.  That faith makes us Christians.         

I wasn't raised Catholic.  I spent most of my early years in uncomplicated non-denominational Christian bliss.  I joined the Catholic Church 15 years ago for family unity with my cradle-Catholic husband.  Making the Protestant-to-Catholic switch isn't so difficult when you come from a non-denom background.  I don't believe that Jesus cares about denomination. 

I have no interest in sitting in judgment of my fellow Christians--deeming this person fit for Heaven and that one fit for that other place.  But it seems to be a popular pastime among Christians today.  It's like that joke that has cycled through each religious group.


A man dies and enters Heaven.  On his tour, he is taken by several rooms.  As he and his angelic guide pass the first room, loud laughter erupts and delicious smells waft from the door.  The man asks the angel, "Who's that in there?"  The angel replies, "Oh, those are the Methodists.  They love their fellowship!"  They move onto the next room, where the man again hears laughter and also detects the distinct smell of alcohol.  He remarks, "Beer?  In Heaven???"  The angel replies, "Those are the Catholics.  They like to party."  At the door to the next room, the angel whispers, "Be very quiet.  These are the Baptists (or Presbyterians, or Lutherans, or Pentecostals, etc).  They think they're the only ones here."

If someone tells me she is a Christian, I am inclined to believe her.  That's between her and God.  Is it too much to ask to expect the same in return?

Nature Boy has been experiencing some of this Christian bigotry himself.  In our area, belief in a young earth is seen as the only way a true Christian CAN believe.  If you believe in old earth creationism (as in the day-age theory), your faith is suspect.  (I think it's okay to say, "I don't really know."  It's possible to have faith without having all the answers.)  The word "evolution" is a cuss word here. It no longer means, "a gradual change over time." Forget discussions about adaptation or changes within species. If you say "evolution", people assume you're talking about the origin of man. It's just better all around not to utter the word lest you be proclaimed a heretic. 

Today a boy in our Christian homeschool group told my son that Pokemon cards are of the devil, as God doesn't create monsters.  When Nature Boy said, "Do you really think Pikachu is evil?!", the boy said, "Don't even say their names!  They're demonic!"  He then stated that Yu-Gi-Oh! cards have a demon attached to each card!  Whah?!  This boy, long a friend of Nature Boy's, told my son that his mom doesn't think Nature Boy is good for him, and that in fact, she really doesn't like him very much at all.

All that Pokemon playing makes him a bad influence, apparently.

So where is this plank you're supposed to be pullin', you ask?

I'm just so angry.  I'm tired of having my Christianity questioned, and I'm beyond tired of the religious prejudice that my son has to deal with at our homeschool group of all places.  Do we not even fit in there?!  (Catholics may like to party, but it sure doesn't start in childhood.  The Catholic homeschool group in town is boring.)

But even if my anger is justified, I don't think God wants me to hold onto it.  And I do.  I keep that flame at a slow burn so that it's ready to flare up when needed.  As a result, when someone invariably makes a comment that I find offensive, I respond defensively.  And that doesn't help anything.  I don't want to create a new Catholic stereotype:  the angry, ranting Catholic Convert.

Because I don't drink, so I wouldn't be able to blame it on the booze.

September 23, 2011

When mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy

It’s Plank Pullin’ time! The one day a week that we strongly resolve to ignore the multitude of specks and sawdust around us and pull one bona fide plank from our own eye. Matthew 7:3-5 style.

Life has been stressful lately.  My grandma is no longer able to take care of herself, and the past few weeks have found me scrambling to make alternate living arrangements for her.  Just this week, the plan changed 3 times.  Whew!  Lots of phone calls, faxes, letters mailed, cleaning, packing, etc.  Not to mention the emotional roller coaster that accompanies caregiving in general, and end of life caregiving particularly.

As exhausted and overwhelmed as I've been, I realize that I am lucky.  Some women do every bit as much as I do in addition to working full-time jobs.  I can't imagine it.  I thank God for His provision, and I thank Tree Guy for working so hard to support us.  Without my husband's support, I wouldn't have been able to be there for my grandparents when they really needed me.

My grandma moved in with my mom (GC Brawler, below) two nights ago.  She declined so quickly that it was determined the move couldn't wait until its scheduled date of October 3rd.  The good news is that my mom lives in the same town as I do.  So I can still be there for my grandma.  We will hire a private caregiver to help. 

I'd always liked the saying When Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.  It assumes that Mama is the center of the family, the emotional touchstone for everybody else.  But I'm learning that that's not such a good thing when she ain't happy.  I don't want to be the reason my son and husband are stressed out.  Tree Guy is blessed with the ability to stay calm in stressful times.  He has developed the survival skill(!) of disappearing into the computer room or garage when I'm on a rampage.  Nature Boy is more affected by my stress level.  That's hard to avoid because he spends a lot of time with me.  Quantity time is usually a major blessing that comes with homeschooling.  But at difficult times, it also means that my son is stuck with me and my moods.  I try to arrange play dates with his friends to give him a break from the medical appointments and meetings and endless errand running.  But often he just has to tag along.    

The plank I'm pullin' today is the fact that I don't try hard enough to spare my family from my own stress.  I "let my hair down" all.the.time.  I'm a get-what-you-see kind of girl.  There are benefits to that--but also some downsides.  A bad mood or high stress day doesn't give me a free pass to take things out on my loved ones.  They are my support system and my joy!  They deserve the best of me.

Whether or not my emotional state is excusable/understandable/legitimate, I need to make more of an effort to deal with it in a way that preserves the peace and joy that I want my family life to embody.

September 20, 2011

Learning about learning (wait, what?)

Hip Homeschool Hop Button

My wonderful husband (who probably doesn’t remember his offhanded comment, but I do because I’m a woman and we remember EVERYTHING) once helpfully pointed out to me that I spend a lot of time reading about teaching and learning, but I don’t seem to actually DO much with what I learn. His observation wasn’t limited to homeschooling. No, apparently I while away my days greedily sucking up all manner of knowledge which I then jealously hoard. (Or perhaps I’m reading too much into his remark…)

And to be honest, I do love knowledge for its own sake. No action required. But some knowledge just begs to be put to good use.

If I hadn’t spent months, nay years, wading through stacks of books on education theory, learning styles, learning differences/disabilities, homeschooling styles, how the brain works, etc., I wouldn’t have tried and discarded the 5,478,309 different ways to homeschool before discovering that unschooling is our golden ticket. I would’ve simply ordered school-in-a-box for my son’s grade level and insisted he read all the textbooks and fill out all the workbooks according to the curriculum’s schedule. Because everyone knows that that’s the way it’s done.

When he struggled with the traditional methods (and he would have, because he learns differently than the “average” kid), I would’ve accused him of being lazy or not trying hard enough, and our relationship would have suffered. His sense of self would have been damaged. He would have decided that there is something wrong with him, and that learning is always hard and unrewarding.

And we chose homeschooling to avoid that.

Kids are more than little walking brains for us to fill with information. I want to speak to my son’s spirit–the essence of who he is–in addition to feeding his mind. That requires that I one, know who he is, and two, reach him where he is. When I’m able to let go of my own worries and expectations and follow his lead, I am reassured that he IS learning (all the time!), and his accomplishments are even more satisfying to him because they are truly his own.

So I don’t regret the time I spent learning about learning. It has borne fruit in what I have decided not to do. And I’m not done yet! To put it in teacher-speak, it’s my continuing education.

This post can also be found at

September 15, 2011

We need hairapy

Nature Boy and I have a long history of going in for a trim and coming out with half the hair we went in with.  And I don't get it.  Lord knows, we're not shy or afraid to speak up.  In fact, we pride ourselves on our clear communication style and top notch verbal skills.  As well as our modesty.

So what's up with the hairstylists in town?  You know, it might just be a conspiracy.  I'm thinking they are all members of a secret order of Hair Nazis whose motto is, "No hair for you!"  Shrinky Dink has had the same problem.  We'll go in together, clearly asking the stylist to Leave these front sections long.  Just tip them, please.  And BAM!  We come out with an inch or two less hair than we wanted. 

An inch or two may not sound like much, but since hair grows a mere half-inch a month on average, those snips represent 2-4 months of patiently waiting for longer hair.  Shrinky Dink finally resorted to putting little clips in her front sections as visual reminders for the hairstylist, like the haircut version of tying string around your finger.  Helpful friend that I am, I tried hovering over Shrinky Dink's stylist with a menacing look--ready to swoop in should she get too snip-happy.  My stint as a salon bouncer was unsuccessful. 

Nature Boy and I thought we'd found The One, but last week she cut off most of Nature Boy's hair.  He was ticked.  He's every bit as vain about his hair as I am.  Do you blame him?

So I decided to try a new hairstylist.  I hadn't had a haircut all summer, and while I liked my new length, I needed some shaping.  I found a photo of an awesome layered bob at Hair Thursday on Monday, so I printed it out and took it to the new stylist on Tuesday.  I told her that I wanted a longer version of the cut, and that I'm not a fan of chin length hair because it highlights my double chin.  I pointed to the middle of my neck and said that I like my hair to be no shorter than that.

Well, I got the cut in the picture.  It's almost the exact same haircut, except that most of the sides and back are--wait for it, CHIN LENGTH!  She kindly left me two little strips of mid-neck length hair up front, but everything else is shorter than the haircut in the photo!  I don't yet have a picture of my new cut, but here's a visual.

  Original image can be found at Refinery 29.

The yellow arrow shows the gentle slope of this haircut.  Nothing trendy or dramatic here.  Just pretty.  My hair's line is represented by the white arrow.  Everything below it is gone.  The cute little curl up front (right behind chin #2) is about as thick a section as she left me on both sides.  AND she thinned my hair without asking first!  %#*&^$!

It's a cute cut, but not exactly what I asked for.  I lost all the length I gained over the summer, and because it's not as thick, it's wispy and requires "fixing", which is annoying.  (I'm all about being low maintenance.)  And dangit, I like having a goodly amount of hair! 

It's follicular thievery, I tell you!  

September 14, 2011

Hit the road, Jack

While I was driving Nature Boy to his friend's house today, he matter-of-factly said, "Here is where Ms. Byn kicked me out of her van for farting." 

I laughed so hard that I peed a little.

Ms. Byn is the mother of Nature Boy's friend Jaedin, as well as his former drama teacher and musical theater director.  She is a fellow homeschooler, and a friend of mine.

I've known her for years, yet her intolerance for flatulence (particularly the vehicular variety) somehow escaped my notice.  What kind of friend am I?

My poor boy had to walk a mile, uphill no doubt, because Ms. Byn maintains a strict No Poot policy.  (She hit the eject button for her own gassy boy as well.)  This woman lives with the sights, sounds, and smells of five kids and one husband, so if she found it necessary to put the kibosh on the tooting, it must have been bad.

I can only apologize...

Apologize and cartoonize, that is!

September 10, 2011

Everyone loves a makeover

Hey blog peeps!  Just a quick note to let you know that I've gotten rid of that annoying word verification thing for comments.  (I'm paranoid enough to require approval before comments are posted, so word verification is kind of redundant.) 

And a bit of shameless self-promotion:  I changed my header.  It was fun!  I basically gave mini-makeovers to each of the cartoon mes.  I added earrings, new shirts, necklaces, highlights.  It was like playing dress up--for slackers!  I got rid of the dubious brown substance (aka chocolate) around my mouth on Cartoon Me #5.  (It looked too much like poo.) 

And speaking of makeovers, seeing this photo for the first time sparked one in real life.

I'd like to be able to say that this photo was taken 10 or 15 years ago, but alas, it was only  4  years ago!

September 09, 2011

And there's more where that came from

So much drama in the past week, y'all, but I don't want to scare you off.  'Cause I know you come here for the laughs and the Jedi Master-like wisdom that I throw out on occasion.

Two funny things happened today.  Nature Boy and I took a Mental Health Day and spent the afternoon at the river.  I must gush here and tell you that my precious boy spent most of this time rescuing minnows who were caught in the river-equivalent of a tide pool.  He ran back and forth with handfuls of little fish, taking them from a dried-up puddle to the river.  It was sweet.  I am so proud.

(Then he stepped on a sticker plant on the way back and was all, "And THIS is my reward for helping those fish!?!?"  He's like his mama.  More about the animals than the plants.  And with a flair for the dramatic.)

While Nature Boy was busy with his task, I sat on a quiet, peaceful little peninsula with my magazine--my magazine and a skinny, bearded old guy taking a nap on his laptop bag.  At first I thought he was an IT guy on his lunch break.  This assumption was disproven when the guy suddenly jumped to his feet and yelled, "MY B@ll$ ITCH LIKE A MUTHA%$#*$&!"  (Fortunately, he was well out of Nature Boy's hearing).  The guy continued with a stream of curses directed at all manner of people, none of whom were actually there.  Then he returned to his nap. 

I'm not saying there aren't some crazy IT guys out there (Shrinky Dink's ex comes to mind), but it was pretty obvious at second glance that this guy was homeless.  And psychotic.  So what do you think I did next?

I just went back to reading my magazine.  (I mean, it's not like he was talking to me.)

About 20 minutes later, the guy stood up again and repeated his tirade.  And once again I continued reading.  Finally, the shade was gone from his sleeping spot, so he left. 

(If this would've happened in my 'hood, or if kids had been nearby, I might have called the police.  But we were near downtown.  Therefore, I was practically in this guy's backyard.  And as I've mentioned before, I have a fairly big tolerance for crazy folk.) 

The second funny thing that happened today was, of course, a conversation with my grandma.  She informed me last night that she is not. going. anywhere. without. her. cat.  Therefore, that awesome place I found for her is out.  They don't accept pets.  And it was really the only non-nursing home option I could find that was affordable.  So she is considering going to live with her eldest son in Louisiana.

And I find that I am conflicted about this.

It's been difficult to be a caregiver again (my grandma lived with us for a year after my grandpa died in 2008)--but I don't want her to move away from me, to another state, at the end of her life.  I want to be there for her.  I just can't do it ALL.  And according to her hospice nurse, I can't do it where she currently lives.  (Her cat rules out moving in with us again because Tree Guy is allergic to cats.)

Here is my attempt at trying to persuade her to move into the place I found for her:


Me:  Meemaw, I know you don't want to give up your cat.  You've had so many losses.  I really do understand.  But you've only had this cat for a month, and this is the only place around here that I could find.  If you move in with your son, you'll be moving away from me.  If you move to this place I found, you'd have to give up your cat, but you'd still have me around.  That's worth something, right?

Meemaw:  (Long pause....)  Well, I really do love my cat...

LOL!  Well, that was an epic fail. 

September 04, 2011

And you thought Golden Corral was bad - part II

Read Part I here.  (You know you want to.)

When the new manager of my grandma's retirement community said that whoever took the standing order for meal delivery should have contacted me when they decided there would be no more standing orders, I said, "You and your wife put the standing order in--," and he yelled, "NO WE DIDN'T!"  I was done.  So I just said, "I'm filing a complaint against you with your company. In the 9 months my grandma has lived there, I have never been treated like this by anyone." And he yelled, "You know what?! GO AHEAD!" And then he hung up on me.

Tree Guy, Nature Boy and friend, and I were on our way to dinner and a movie, but it was 7pm and my grandma hadn't eaten, so we stopped and got her some food on the way.  I took it to her room, then met my mom and husband in the managers' office to take care of bidness, because my grandma needs to eat!  And the huge amount of money she pays them each month includes all 3 meals every day!

And this is when it REALLY got nasty.

Mr. Anger Management was out of the office, so we went in to talk to his wife.  She started off by saying she hadn't been in the office during my phone call with her husband, so she wasn't a part of it.  (I'd heard her feeding her husband lines during the phone call, so I knew she was lying.)  I started explaining what happened with the meal mix-ups to make sure we were all on the same page.  When I got to the part about her husband yelling, she butted in to say, "Well, I could hear YOU from all the way across the room, so..."  My mom said, "Wait.  I thought you weren't IN the office at the time."  She didn't like being caught in a lie. 

(And I DID raise my voice--to tell the manager not to yell at me.)

But I wanted to get to the point, so I said, "The bottom line is that she didn't get her meals yesterday.  Your husband told me he'd been checking and--."  And she bitchily said, "AND WHOSE FAULT IS THAT, MISSY?!" 

My mom (GC Brawler herself), in her best white-woman-with-soul voice, said, "Oh no!  You do NOT condescend to any of us!"  No yelling.  Just some assertive boundary-setting.  With a Clint Eastwood glare.

So the woman threatened to call the police.  And we were like, please DO.  (Knowing full well that complaints about poor service do not constitute a crime.)

She called 911 and told the dispatcher that we wouldn't get out of her office.  My mom and I said in unison, "You never asked us to!"  We left the office at that point and took a seat in the lobby, waiting patiently for the Po-Po.

Sometimes you've just got to stop and ponder the ridiculousness of certain situations.  Let's. 

Absurd Fact #1:  A legitimate complaint about a meal delivery mix-up for an 86-year-old woman with terminal cancer at a retirement community somehow turned into a 911 emergency call for a domestic disturbance.  Because apparently this manager finds service complaints so threatening to her person that she needs someone with a background in criminal justice involved.  And the thing is, there were no threats, much less actual violence.  (If we're going to get the cops involved, we should have at least got a couple of punches in.  I'm just saying.)

Absurd Fact #2:  Someone called the cops on me and my mom

So we had this discussion:

Mom:  Well, I guess we're the first mother/daughter duo to get the cops called on us.

Me:  Nah, I'm sure there are plenty of Jerry Springer guests who've had that happen.

Mom:  No, I mean in our family.

Me (thinking for a minute):  Yeah, I think you're right.   

The crazy thing is that all of this could have been avoided had the managers said, "There must have been some miscommunication.  We'll fix it."  Instead, they yelled, hung up, and prevented us from making a new food plan for my grandma by calling the police instead of having a rational conversation to work things out.

In summation, these managers are nuts.

Not one, not two, but THREE police cars pulled up, y'all!  It was like The Dukes of Hazzard up in there! Only my mom and I couldn't jump in the windows of the getaway car (which happened to be Shrinky Dink's van) because Tree Guy, Nature Boy, and Nature Boy's friend had already taken off in it to go to dinner.  (Which makes sense.  Because the possibility of jail time for me and my mom shouldn't interfere with a good meal.) 

I met the first officer out front and calmly told him my side of the story.  He was understanding and told us that regardless if it's independent living or not, since they agreed to deliver the meals to her room, it's still on them if they changed things and didn't notify us.  (Sounds reasonable to me!)  Then he went inside to get the manager's side of the story.  When he came out he told us that our best bet is to call the parent company of the retirement community and file a complaint.  He said we can also call Adult Protective Services, but that because the meal delivery was an oral agreement, and the retirement community doesn't have any documentation about it, it's likely we couldn't prove anything.

The End.  He didn't ask for our names, our numbers, or for ID. 

All that drama just to get a couple meals delivered each day.  Those managers are just lucky we can't afford bail money right now.  Of course, I already have this poster ready for these situations...

On the upside, I haven't paid my grandma's rent yet this month.  We're paid up until the 7th.  Best believe we're moving Meemaw out of that mofo as soon as we can, rental contract be damned. 

P.S.  Man, this blog has totally ruined my political aspirations.

September 03, 2011

And you thought Golden Corral was bad - part I

So y'all know all about what's been going down with the caregiving situation, right?  Tuesday my grandma's hospice nurse told me that it's not safe for her to live alone anymore.  So I spent the past few days visiting places and making phone calls and researching "moving elders with dementia" online.  And I found a place!  It's a small residential care home that currently houses 3 senior ladies with mild to moderate dementia.  Nature Boy and I toured the place and spent about an hour talking with the owner, a senior herself.  This place has a good reputation and is exactly what we need.  God answered my prayers.

Of course I still had to tell my grandma about the whole moving thing...

Last night I went to her apartment to broach the subject, and I brought her some food because she's been complaining that her retirement community hasn't been delivering her meals the past few days.  (When I discovered a couple weeks ago that Meemaw is getting weaker and was just skipping meals to avoid having to go downstairs to the dining room at meal times, I arranged a standing order for meal delivery with the new managers of the retirement community.  It was a great solution.  And until the past few days, it worked just fine.)

Remember that I wrote recently that housekeeping hasn't been coming to my grandma's apartment?  I had to make several calls to management (their answer was that housekeeping WAS TOO coming, and my grandma must just be forgetting it) before it was discovered (after I found 5 bags of trash in her apartment and the same dirty dishes in the sink that had been there a week before--with the same food spooge inside) that housekeeping had, in fact, stopped coming by.  Her old housekeeper had quit and they'd hired 2 part-time housekeepers.  Both of them thought the other one was cleaning my grandma's apartment.  An honest enough mistake. 

Each time Meemaw told me her food hadn't been delivered, I called the office and asked the managers whether or not it had been.  (I thought maybe the meals were being delivered and Meemaw was just forgetting that she'd eaten.)  They assured me they'd check, but never got back with me about it.  So yesterday I called the male half of the new management team to follow up.  He got an attitude and said, "Look.  Every time you called this week, I looked into it.  She's got every meal she was scheduled to get.  She must be forgetting them.  And she calls sometimes 2 or 3 times a day for the same meal to order it.  So I know she's having memory problems."  That sounded likely to me too, so I assured the manager that I wasn't complaining--just trying to make sure she's getting her food, as well as trying to determine how her memory loss is affecting her.  That calmed him down.  I also told him about our planned move for her, and that we are aware that she is deteriorating.  I asked whether I should try to move her out ASAP or wait until the 1st of October.  I was informed that a 30 day move out notice is required per her rental agreement.  I thought it was all figured out.


Last night when I was at her apartment, I noticed there were no styrofoam containers or food trays indicating she'd received her meals for the day.  I thought it was possible that they were delivering the meals, but my grandma wasn't answering the door.  So I called her around noon today to make sure she was up and dressed and listening for the door.  My mom happened to visit at lunchtime, and lo and behold, no meal was delivered.  She went downstairs to pick up Meemaw's meal and was informed that standing orders for meal delivery are not allowed anymore, and that we'd have to go back to calling to schedule her meal delivery every day.  (All meals for the day can be ordered at the same time, so only one call is necessary.)  No problem. 

Then tonight my grandma called me to say they hadn't delivered her dinner.  WTH?!  I called the manager again.  He said that my mom was told today that there aren't standing orders for meal delivery anymore, so I should have called in to order dinner.  I said that I thought my mom's conversation with the manager at lunchtime constituted the delivery order for day and the man started YELLING AT ME.

Aw.  Hell.  No.

He ranted, "This isn't a nursing home!  It's independent living!  It's not our responsibility to make sure your grandma has food!  That's YOUR job!"  I very firmly (and with volume) said, "DO NOT raise your voice to me!  You told me yesterday that all her meals have been delivered per our standing order agreement, but now you're saying there are no more standing orders allowed.  When did this change happen and why wasn't I notified?"

And he kept on yelling.  He said the other managers (who've been there the whole time my grandma's lived there) made the decision sometime last week.  So I said, "If someone would have notified me of this change to our agreement, I could've been calling in her delivery orders every day!  Why wasn't I told about this decision?"  He replied that whoever took the original standing order should have known to contact me about it.

I agreed.  And guess what.  It was he and his wife who took the standing order!  The older managers had told me that standing orders weren't possible.  The NEW managers insisted it WAS possible, and proceeded to put a standing order in place.  So the way I see it, either he or his wife should have contacted me so I could make other arrangements for my 102 pound grandma with dementia!!!!

And this is where it gets nasty.


So you gotta read Part II.

Unschooling: finding your inner hippie

Do you ever find yourself thinking, What the heck is unschoolingAnd who are these crazy hippies who practice it?  And don't they know they are involved in a social experiment that will probably cause their children to be illiterate/on welfare their whole lives/never bathe/talk to themselves in public places/not know how to socialize with other people/never get married and have children of their own/end up in jail/or living in a cardboard box by the library which is ironic since they won't be able to read?

Or are you of the renegade variety yourself, so you find yourself thinking, What the heck is unschooling?  And who are these marvelous trend-setters who practice it?  And where do they get the chutzpah to buck tradition and follow an uncharted path?  And don't they know that it's their duty as Superheroes of Awesomeness to tell us all about this social experiment that is producing these wonderfully creative/self-guided learners/with amazing social skills/who spend their days exploring their passions and interacting with other people?

(As a card-carrying "bipole", I'm certain that it's only possible to feel one of these two extremes.)

Silly Nature Boy, dissected sheep hearts are friends, not food!

Wanna know how we do it?  I recently guest posted over at  Check it out.

September 02, 2011

One time I was paralyzed. (That sucked.)*

Did I ever tell you about the time I was paralyzed?  

It was a dark and stormy night...

Not really.  And because I'm not certain I haven't blogged about this before, I can't embellish the story to get extra sympathy, dangit.

I know I've mentioned before that I have Crohn's disease with all the (literal and figurative) crap that goes along with it.  Before I found the right treatment, I had a series of intestinal blockages that landed me in the hospital.  You'd think the worst part of having a bowel obstruction would be the blockage itself.  But you'd be wrong.  The absolute worst part is the torturous naso-gastric tube!  An "NG tube" goes down your nose, down your throat, and into your stomach.  Its purpose (besides being a torture device) is to keep the stomach empty, thereby lessening the pressure when the ol' intestines aren't working right.  No one was brave enough to take a picture of me with an NG tube in, but here's a photo of the process.  (It really does take at least 3 people to insert the tube.  One to hold the water, one to push the tube, and one to keep the patient from jumping up and running bare-assed from the room.)

I can't believe they insert these things when patients are awake!  (I cried!)  I complained so much about the blasted NG tube that my surgeon took pity on me, and for my second bowel resection surgery, he gave me a gastrostomy tube (G tube) instead.  The benefit of this type of tube is that it's placed while you are under anesthesia!  And unlike an NG tube, a G tube doesn't rub your throat raw.  Here's what a G tube looks like.

(Oops, I got off on a tube tangent!  Back to the paralyzation thing.) 

After one of my surgeries, I woke up completely paralyzed and on a ventilator.  (Another tube!)  I could feel sensations, hear things, smell things--all of it.  But I couldn't move.  At all.  Not a finger or a toe or an eyelash.  Stop and think about that for a second.  I was awake on the inside, but my body seemed asleep.  It's the only time I've felt a separation between the "outside me" and the "inside me".  I was only my brain at that moment.  I wish I could explain it better.

I freaked out, of course.  I had an 8-inch zipper incision in my stomach, and it hurt!  I remember wondering why I could feel pain but not move.  You'd think the two would be related!  Fortunately, I didn't have to wait long to get an explanation.  My freak out-induced jump in vital signs set off the machine alarms, and the ICU nurse realized I was awake.  He told me that there had been a problem with the anesthesia, and that my lungs weren't working when they took me off of the ventilator after surgery.  They'd had to re-anesthetize me and put me back on the vent.  That bought them some time to figure out what had happened.  I stayed in the ICU all night, going in and out of consciousness, trying to move the tiniest bit each time I awoke.

After about 8 hours, I was able to open one eye.  I looked at the clock.  My nurse wasn't in the room, so all I could do was keep trying to move parts of my body.  I was able to move a foot next.  When the nurse came in, I frantically moved my foot around to let her know I was awake.  The ventilator tube was driving me nuts.  It was in a position that made me feel like I needed to gag, but I couldn't gag, of course.  My right hand started to move next.  I made a writing motion with it, and the nurse figured out what I wanted and brought me a dry erase board.  I'm left handed, and I didn't have control over all of my fingers yet, but I was able to scrawl, "Gag me".  She understood, bless her, and she shifted the tube so it was more comfortable.

Over the next several hours, I regained the ability to move completely.  The anesthesiologist came by to tell me that my body couldn't process the anesthesia he used, and that I'd need to avoid that drug for the rest of my life.  I wear a medical alert bracelet now.

P.S.  I'm not the only one who hates NG tubes.

*The idea for the title of this post was shamelessly stolen from a totally cool brain-tumorless blogger over at Ancora Imparo Girl