Look Back and Go Forth

AmeriCorps Arizona

 

Training in Dallas was AWESOME, yo. 😀

For four days I was surrounded by smart, articulate, passionate people united in a single purpose: doing our part to end poverty in our communities. While the overwhelming majority of new VISTAs were either in college or recent graduates, the over 40, 50, 60, and 70 crowds were well represented.

The main focus of our training was capacity building and sustainability. Our job as VISTAs is not to serve directly. Rather, our task is to empower the organizations we serve. We create networks, establish programs, improve technological infrastructure, engage in grant writing, and foster community support and involvement. Put simply, we don’t give out fish; we teach people to fish for themselves.

Once all the training and discussions were over it was time to take the Oath of Service. This is the same oath that all federal employees take:

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States
against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and
that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.

We also make the following pledge:

I will get things done for America – to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier.
I will bring Americans together to strengthen our communities.
Faced with apathy, I will take action.
Faced with conflict, I will seek common ground.
Faced with adversity, I will persevere.
I will carry this commitment with me this year and beyond.
I am an AmeriCorps member, and I will get things done.

I knew before I left for training that I would be taking the oath and making the pledge. What I had not foreseen was how affected I would be in doing so. It was a powerful moment.

As much as I enjoyed training and meeting people from all over the country, I must admit that it was good to get home. I spent the weekend recuperating and hanging out with my family. Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a Veterans’ Day event on campus and meet some of the people with whom I will be working directly. Tomorrow I’ll attend my first monthly meeting at United Way. Monday I’ll be on campus, becoming oriented, meeting staff members, and reviewing the systems and resources that the outgoing VISTA left in place. I’m so grateful for this opportunity, and I can’t wait to get started.

Punt

Tonight I had to admit to my husband that I made a mistake. It’s taken me a bit of time to admit it to myself. I’m not sure which was harder.

I stupidly, stupidly went off my meds.

Mentally I was feeling good–better than I have in a long time. With a lot of help I found a new place, and we didn’t have to be on the streets. I’m not sure if I could have done that with or without all of the help I was so fortunate to receive if I hadn’t been mentally stable. But all the old pains crept back up on me. There were days when it hurt just to move. Every joint in my body ached, and I thought, “Why am I still taking these meds? They aren’t helping me anymore.” You see, I kept forgetting to take them, and I would have to “catch up”, and it seemed to me that there was really no difference between Jennifer on meds and Jennifer off meds, but I was wrong.

The truth is I just plain hate taking pills. I have always avoided doing so, and then suddenly I had to take three of the miserable little things every single day, and no one could tell me how long I would need to do so. Whenever I asked the answer was always basically, “Well, it won’t hurt you to take them, so you might as well take them.” But, because I have witnessed my husband’s experience with doctors and pills and band-aid “solutions” for the last 9 1/2 years, I’m calling bullshit. There are no “solutions” for people who hurt all the time. It’s just this pill or that pill and “So sorry. We have no idea what’s wrong with you. Let’s just punt and call it fibromyalgia.” Aaaand fibromyalgia isn’t a disease, it’s a syndrome. Depression is one of the myriad ailments associated with fibromyalgia. Aaaand since we don’t understand what the underlying physical cause of the rather specific list of ailments associated with the syndrome is, we might as well jump to the conclusion that the pain the fibromyalgia patient suffers is actually psychologically based. In other words, it’s ALL in your head.

All bitterness aside, I concede that my brain is somehow defective. Not enough serotonin or something. I guess. I mean, that’s the hypothesis, anyway. Right? Because as far as I’m aware, no one has actually done anything to find out if I am actually lacking for serotonin, rather they assume that is the case. But I am not a doctor. I am just a patient, and I should not ask questions. Good patients just shut up and do what they’re told.

abby-normal

 

I had to get a new doctor. My PCP sold his practice and went to work for the new boss man. They don’t take my insurance. So, I found a new PCP, and I expressed my concerns about the Cymbalta, and she suggested a change in my prescription. I’d already been off my meds for about a week. She said, “I can put you on a different medication if you like. It’s as old as the hills. They’ve been using it for years. If that’s what you want, I have no problem writing the scrip.” So I said, “Sure. Why not. Let’s do that then.” I knew, at that point, that there weren’t going to be any actual answers, no honest provision of information.

I’m doing a seriously shitty job of explaining myself. I’m sorry. I’m trying.

So, now I’m taking amitatrypta-whatever the hell it is and a muscle relaxer every night.

It’s kind of funny about the muscle relaxer. Every single doctor I have seen in the last 25+ years who has ever taken the time to lay their hands on my back has made the same “ooooh!” noise. When this one did it, I made the noise at the same time she did, with the same exact inflection and tone, in my head. I keep telling them that my headaches and the pains in my back stem from something going on in my neck, and they all agree with me, but…

Look, muscle relaxers don’t work. Muscle relaxers knock me OUT. I sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep some more. I suppose if you count the fact that I am not conscious of the pain when I’m knocked out, well then, sure. They work. “Well, if they knock you out, just cut them in half!” Yeah. I do that. They still knock me out. I don’t know why. I wish I did. And I wish that they actually had some effect on whatever the hell is wrong with my neck, but I’ve been taking the damn things for almost two weeks, and all that has happened is that I have managed to sleep way too many days away.

I did get a referral for a rheumatologist. The soonest they can get me in is January.

Mentally, I’m sliding again. I should have stuck with the Cymbalta. I should have let them increase my dosage and accepted the fact that I will probably have to take meds for the rest of my effin life because there are no solutions. But no. I am a stubborn fool. I hurt less, but I am … “inert”. And this is NOT the time for me to be inert. It’s not. I have to go Dallas in a few days for my training, and then I will begin my year of service, and I need to be mentally ready for this. But I’m not. And I’m scared. I know what is happening to me, because I’ve been here before. I’m trying to stay rational, and I’m trying not to fall back into the pit. I’m looking up, looking for something to grab, something that will help me climb back up toward the light and the air.

meh. It isn’t easy to tell you all of this, and I know I haven’t told it very well, but I thought you deserved to hear the truth.

I wish I could be the person you could go to when you’re feeling down. I wish I could make you smile. I used to be that person, once upon a time. I miss her. But these days I’m a real downer, and I don’t want to subject you to that.

I’m going to keep taking the new meds for a couple of weeks. It may be that I just need to give them time to fix my defective brain. If there’s no improvement I’ll see if I can get back on the Cymbalta. I’ll keep you posted, but I…

Look, I don’t want to keep giving you all the blow by blow details of my depression. I don’t want to be Moaning Myrtle. You know?

anigif_enhanced-buzz-28587-1375122908-24

 

I love you all. I really do.

All My Love,
Jennifer

 

Wait… You’re a day EARLY? No faragin way…

I no longer need to connect to the internet through my phone. The internet guy (No, I do not have cable. Cable is not allowed in my house. I mean, I could have cable if I wanted. I do not want it. Nope. Nope. Nope.) came a whole day early! Holy crap!

What’s most surprising about this is that I get my internet through Connect2Compete. (Read: My high-speed internet connection is super cheap.) I truly expected to be treated like a “low-priority” customer. (Which, if I was, I would totally understand.) So… yeah! Very happy right about now. 😀

Another Public Private Thank You

You know who you are, you fantastic person, you. I know who you are, too, but I understand your desire for privacy. I’m afraid to say too much here, afraid that someone will piece it together and discover who you are. So, I will happily conspire with you in keeping your identity secret.

I will (carefully) say this, though: I know that life is hectic. I don’t get to see you as often as I like. When I do, however, it is as though someone opened a window to let a little light and air into the room, and my heart is instantly warmed. You are far more amazing than you have ever given yourself credit for being. For reals, yo.

Much, much love to you,
Jennifer

¡Ai Chihuahua!

These last few days have been eventful. We had a parent-teacher conference at Morrigan’s school on Wednesday. She’s doing very well, is one of the top students in the class, and will be participating in a small, advanced reading group. She had all A’s and one B–she just missed getting the A in Math. We’ll continue to work with her at home. She wants that A, yo.

I talked to the teacher about Morrigan’s bully problem, the extent of which I was hitherto unaware.

When the kids line up, they always line up in the same order. The boy who lined up behind her was calling her names, telling her she was “nasty”, and hitting and kicking her. He always waits until lunch or at after school club to do it, though, so the teacher had no idea it was happening. I was so angry at the little coward! Morrigan, on the other hand, just wants everyone to be friends, so she wasn’t “telling”. The saddest part was when she told me this:

“But, Mom, he was nice to me the day I wore my SpongeBob shirt.”

“Morrigan, sweetie, you need to listen to me: just because a boy is nice to you one time does not make it OK for him to hit, kick, or belittle you the rest of the time. His behavior is unacceptable. You should never put up with that. You need to tell.”

The whole thing was rather upsetting. It does help to understand why she didn’t like school more. She’s smart and personable and makes friends easily. I couldn’t understand. I knew this kid would give her problems now and again, but I did not know the extent of what was happening.

The good news is that the teacher was responsive. She reiterated that it was OK for Morrigan to “tell”. She made sure Morrigan understood which adults she should go to if it happened at lunch or club. She also moved Morrigan to a different position in line.

When she came home from school yesterday, I asked her, as I always do, “How was your day?”

“It was great!’

“Do you have a new place in line?”

“Yes! Now I line up with C and M!”

“Did anyone try to bully you?”

“No! And E is helping me with subtraction, and I’m helping her with addition!”

She was a very happy little girl, and I am a happy Mom.

Tom took her to school this morning, and she was excited to go. She woke up right away, got ready, and didn’t hang back so much as she usually does. YAY! On the way home, Tom stopped to pick some things up at the store. As he was heading back, he saw a chihuahua lying on the side of the road. He thought it was dead, but then he saw it twitch.

I should tell you that Tom is a great animal lover. I have never known him not to rescue an animal in need. (Once, at Morrigan’s fourth birthday party, he saw a toad fall into the pool. He jumped in, fully clothed, to rescue it before anyone else even knew what had happened.) So I was not terribly surprised when he came home with a small, frightened dog in the push cart.

The dog, an unneutered male, is wearing a harness but no tags. He looks well cared for; his teeth are healthy, nails are trimmed, fur is relatively clean, and he is neither under- nor overfed. He does not appear to have been hit by a car: he has no external injuries. Nonetheless, we took him to a nearby vet to have him scanned for a chip and given a once over by a professional. Sadly, he lacks a chip as well as tags. On the other hand, he does not appear to have any medical issues outside of a little dysplasia in one of his elbows. He was pretty drooly for a chihuahua, but we think that was fear and nervousness more than anything.

We took him back home to keep an eye on him and see if we can find his owner. He got sick shortly after we returned but seems to be feeling better (though still unhappy to find himself in this strange place). He’s very sweet and calm for a chihuahua.

It’s a good thing all this happened while Morrigan is still in school. The girl wants a chihuahua (specifically) so badly. We’ll have to explain that we’re not keeping him, that somewhere he has an owner who is probably very sad and worried about him. We’ll have to warn her to be quiet and gentle because, aside from the fact that he is scared, we do not know how he responds to children.

sigh

I actually wouldn’t mind getting Morrigan a dog, but I feel the time is just not right. We’re barely getting back on our feet. Getting a dog now means pet deposits, vet bills, and all of the other expenses that come with pet ownership. So, if we are unable to find this little guy’s owner, we’ll be looking for a rescue or no-kill shelter. I know it’s the logical thing to do, but I still feel like a bit of a heel.

No Photo Included

No Talent For Certainty

I now you’re stressed
There’s been the tension of moving
Our oldest daughter getting married soon
And you keeping our sixteen month old grandson every day

I know that
There’s not much left
For you to give

But I miss the feeling of being wanted
Feeling admired and desired
So I fantasize

I fantasize about you

I never knew why you loved me so intensely
And I know I’ve never deserved it

But I still miss it

And

It’s

Like

Raging against a storm
The storm will go on, it has nothing to do with me

And I’ll shuffle around this new house
Putter around on my computer
And be up early again tomorrow
To go to work

And you and I will continue to give ourselves away
Completely

To everyone but each other

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Bookses? I don’t need no stinking bookses.

I have been scrolling, scrolling, scrolling (Rawhide!) so that I can begin catching up with all of you lovely bloggy-type people, and, yes, by that I mean that I have been scrolling almost non-stop since my last post. Mind you, I don’t have any real internet set up just yet. I am connected through my phone, and it is painfully slow. Nonetheless, there is a whole lot of scrolling going on. So I have decided that, for now, I will begin my catching up with this post by Arthur Browne.

Wait… what? YOU DON’T KNOW ART? Stop whatever you are doing and visit him. He needs love! He needs validation! He needs you to comment on this post and to enter his art contest! And, really, what good is it to be alive if we aren’t there for one another?

Er, about those pictures…

Oy. I injured myself Friday. I was on the truck, doing the Tetris thing on the furniture, when a table started to fall. I stupidly, unthinkingly, stuck my foot out to catch it. After the string of expletives died away I knew I had done f***ed up.

The swelling in my ankle is mostly gone, but it still hurts a bit. I’ve been staying off it as much as possible, keeping it raised, and trying to put ice on it whenever I remember to do so. What I have NOT been doing is putting our things away. We are living in the aftermath of the moving tornado, folks. So… yeah. No photos yet.

Morrigan’s room is almost done. The living room could be done very soon. The kitchen? Don’t even talk to me about the kitchen yet. That goes double for my bedroom. It’s a damn good thing I have a bit of time before I start work!

I think I’ll post pics as rooms become ready. Yeah. That’ll work. Right?