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Waiting

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Image credit: stillfx / 123RF Stock Photo

There was talking, and waiting, and waiting and talking. A bit of crying (me, of course), a little bit of anger (also me) and questions and decisions to be made. The biggest decision was Ace’s…did he want stents or to do a by-pass. There was an impressive pro/con list for both of them. Stents are easier to put in, the recovery period is MUCH shorter and he’d be back on the job sooner. But, Ace is only 36 and the longevity of stents past 20 or so years is not well known. Most people sitting in his position are in their 70s and 80s. So the chances were good that it would have to be redone later. Bypass is open heart surgery, they cut into your chest, break your breastbone, harvest veins from your chest and your leg, graft them on around the obstruction, sew you the hell backup. Months of recovery. But the long term recovery is much stronger. If he does have a problem later a bypass can still be stented. So he went for that option.

And then he kept having more chest pains, and more nitro drip and more headaches and still no food. He was miserable. Sitting there not being able to fix him, not being able to make him feel better, not being able to hug him a real hug, or snuggle up next to him or even have a conversation with him because he was in so much pain that thinking hurt. And it was COLD as hell in there. He felt sick and broken and I felt helpless. I can only imagine that was similar to how he felt when I was in labor and he couldn’t make the hurt go away. Or when he had to give me shots 2x a day when I was pregnant with T4.

He went into the hospital on Thursday. His surgery was scheduled for Tuesday. They were keeping their eye on him because he kept having pain. They were ready to go if he needed it. I know they are supposed to take an abundance of care and be ready, but it scared me. I really didn’t think he was going to make it until Tuesday without emergency surgery, I was expecting a call saying “we whisked him in to surgery.” I’m really grateful that didn’t come to pass. But really, I was already in a fog. I was just ready for the rest of the world to come crash down on me and have a good jolly laugh.

I got my ducks in a row and on Sunday I brought the kids home to spend the night with me. I missed them. A friend picked them up from Ace’s mom’s house and brought them down to the hospital so they could see Ace. They hadn’t seen him since Wednesday night. They were very excited to see him, however General Tank’s FIRST question was whether or not he could get on the iPad. (uhm, no?) We didn’t stay long, we headed home and tried to make some sort of normal for the night. As much as they can drive me straight up the wall to crazy station, they also calm me. And make me smile. And hug me. Whenever I need it. All three of them just let me be the crying huggy mommy. They knew I was tired, they knew I was worried, they knew I need them to be good. And generally…they were. I still couldn’t sleep.

I am so grateful for my friends who came together to make sure the kids were taken care of. Trina was coming down Monday night to keep me company on Tuesday, the day of Ace’s surgery. And then there was the weather report.

snow

That “5.0″ was inches of snow. Thankfully, Trina and her FF were paying attention to the weather report, because I wasn’t. Instead of coming down on Monday night like the original plan, she came down Monday morning. You would think that being in the Midwest our public transportation and commuter train could handle snow, but you would be wrong. So she hopped on the asscrack of dawn train (if that’s not what it says on the schedule, it should) and came down. It was good that she did. Apparently I needed a sidekick more than I was willing to admit. I’m so stubborn.

So my kids were set up, I was set up…let’s roll. I even managed to get him to smile before they wheeled him away.

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Letting them take him and not running after him is probably the hardest thing I’ve done.

The One Where Elly Has To Play Nice

It’s common knowledge in Firewife land that firefighters compartmentalize everything. It’s a coping mechanism that lets them go on with the job. It’s not a skill set that I have. In fact, as a lawyer, I’ve been trained to see everything from all the possible angles and take every possibility into account. In normal life it’s a pretty good pairing. He can keep me (somewhat) focused and I can get him to see indirect effects of decisions. In order to focus on the rest of the day, I was going to have to take a page out of Ace’s Rules Of Life and start to put things in mental boxes and only deal with one box at a time. HEY NEW STUFF THAT WORDPRESS DECIDED NOT TO PUBLISH THE FIRST TIME AROUND AND INFACT LOST: So, while I kept my mouth shut in the hospital room, something I’m not particularly good at doing, I let my fingers do the talking and sent off furious texts to the few friends who knew what was going on.   Their responses were perfect.

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I have good people.  And I think without this here dang modern technology I’d have SERIOUSLY gone bananas.  I had one friend throwing me “horny sheep” from Facebook’s collection of things you can message to people to make sure I smiled.  I hope everyone has some “people” that are this great.

They were supposed to do the angiogram at 8 in the morning (which is why I got out of the house at the ass crack of dawn) but by 1 they weren’t there to do it yet.  I had to pick up the kids at home and then drop them off with their grandmother so I left the hospital, not happy about it, and took the kids and some clothes over to grandma’s house.  We are really lucky that Grandma could take them for a bit, although it came with some tradeoffs that we’re still dealing with.

My SIL, who has the tendency to make everything about her (no seriously, our family trip to Yellowstone last year, became a conversation on how much she was disrespected and disregarded and her soul not taken care of on THEIR family trip to Yellowstone in the 80s) proceeded to tell me that I HAD to keep her informed (uhm, no, I don’t) because she was SO worried and she never thought SHE would be this worried if something happened.  And then she said how much of a BLESSING it was and how it was a GIFT FROM GOD that this happened on Valentine’s Day and more verbal vomit.  I stopped listening, gave her a “shut the eff up” look and said “no, stop, this is not a conversation I’m having.”  And I turned around and walked out to get back to Ace.  I probably should have just taken the kids with me and found a different situation for them.   But…I had to play nice, so I sorta did. (Note: She is not a bad person, in fact she’s very nice and cares a lot, but this wasn’t the time or place for her issues to be indulged.)

She hasn’t spoken to me since.  I’m okay with that.  She’s only spoken to Ace twice, both times he told her that he could not deal with her and she would need to hang up.  He’s okay with that too.  She causes him a lot of stress right now, and the goal is as little stress as possible.  These are all things we’ll deal with at some point, but not right now.  I raced back to the hospital, I wanted to be there when they talked to Ace, I already felt left out of the process and Ace wasn’t being great about giving me the whole story.  I’m still not sure how much of that was intentional or how much of it was he just felt so poorly that everything was a bare minimum with me because he didn’t have to be ON or he thought I would make connections and jumps that I don’t make.

By the time I got there they had done the angiogram (which if you’re at all squeamish, don’t ask for a description of how they do it.)    And they found he had a 90% blockage in his Lower Anterior Descending Artery (aka the widow-maker) and a 70% blockage in one of his other arteries.  He had two choices to consider, a stent or bypass surgery.  At 36.

 

Oh really, fool? Also known as…why you don’t lie to your wife!

I managed to get a sitter for early Friday morning (like 7…early for my family…we don’t function before 9 most days) and raced downtown…even before rush hour had started. I hadn’t slept the night before. I crawled in to bed around 2:30 or 3:00 or maybe it was 4:00. But I was wide awake by 5, wandering around doing laundry (of course…isn’t that what you do when trying to pretend things are normal), cleaning, panicking…I think I brushed my teeth about 15 times. I don’t know if my dentist would be proud or horrified.

But when A arrived, I was ready to walk out the door. I really hate the area where the hospital is, it’s a huge maze of one way streets, bad parking jobs, and cabs. It’s hard to navigate under the best circumstances, when you’re stressed out, it’s next to impossible. I was in a fog, I remember parking on the Johnny Cash level (because hey, nothing makes parking at a hospital bearable like cutesy floor reminders…) and I remember wandering around the entry level, walking through one entrance and then walking back out because I wasn’t sure I’d actually read where I was going. I had to repeat myself multiple times to the security guard to get my visitor’s tag; I’m not sure if I was the problem or if they were the problem…

When I walked in his room…I don’t even remember. Relief? Fear? Both? We still didn’t know what was going on or what the plans were, or how long he’d be there. I’d brought him pants and some underwear and socks. There were no magazines that he wanted, no books…there was nothing I could DO for him to make any of it better. My job is to make things better. To make people smile who are having a shitty day, to reach out to someone who needs a caring word…and there was nothing I could do. I was lost. I was overwhelmed. I was scared.

And then I got the chance to get mad. The doctor amoeba came in (the group of doctors that seemed to wander about, absorbing and discarding doctors as they went in and out of rooms) and they were talking to ace about the lifestyle changes he was going to have to make. Cut down on the bacon, the fried food, the red meat (apparently they’re all trying to have heart attacks at the fire house), quit smoking…..wait WHAT? Smoking? We had quit smoking, together, years ago. Or at least I thought we had. The head doctor turned to me, somewhat accusatorially and asked “do YOU smoke, too?” My response was no, I don’t…but looking back on it, I should have gotten up and walked out when it was first mentioned. I was SEETHING mad. I’m pretty sure the doctor figured out pretty quickly that I’d just learned something new.

This is pretty much how I felt

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And to be honest, I’m not over it yet. I trusted him to be honest with me always, even when it was embarrassing, even when it would cause problems. When he came home from work and I recognized the smell of cigarette smoke, he told me it was guys in the house smoking and I believed him. OF COURSE i believed him, because he’s Ace. Because he’s Ace and everything about him was honesty personified.

When I found out that wasn’t true…I felt like a fool, I felt like I was in a room with a stranger. See, there are three things I will not tolerate in a relationship, 1- abuse of any kind, 2- cheating and 3- LYING. With the first two there are no second chances, with the third…well…there’s going to have to be a complete rebuilding of trust. It probably seemed like a little lie, one that didn’t matter. It was just to cover up something embarrassing (his word, not mine). But if you’re willing to risk destroying trust because you’re embarrassed about a choice you made…you’re threshold for it being okay to lie is pretty fucking low. But I had to put that on hold, that anger. I told him I was angry, it wasn’t a secret. But that was a back burner issue. And I have my magnificent group of girlfriends who let me rant and rave and be pissed and angry and hurt so that I could hold it back when I was with him.

So, why don’t you lie to your wife? Because then you look like a jackass in front of the doctor amoeba and your wife and her friends do things like call you Smokey McLiesALot behind your back to keep your wife from smothering you with a hospital pillow and plot ways to sneak bacon smell everywhere and then blame it on other people. Immature? Yes, cathartic, absofuckingsmurfly.

Llama, take your damn drama

The last month has been life altering. We dodged a figurative bullet. To avoid the TL:DR and to preserve my sanity, this will be told in parts. Writing this is already making me twitchy and causing me to relive those feelings. This may take a while.

February 13, 2014. Ace was on shift, the kids and I finished our last co-op session, picked TJ up at preschool, ran to the grocery store, dropped off the blueprint of our new house to be framed for my anniversary gift to Ace…and we were just exhausted. Winter wears on you and it hits you at random times. Princess Ahem had not wanted to go to choir for a few sessions and I generally made her go anyway. But I was exhausted, the boys were exhausted and none of us wanted to sit in the car for an hour while she had choir and she was on board with going home instead of going to choir. So we went home. I’m really glad we did.

I was sitting on the couch watching TV, only starting to think about dinner and how to avoid making it when Ace called. He sounded…weird. He sucks at covering up when he has something crappy to say. I knew immediately that something was wrong, but what? I had all the kids and knew they were okay. He wasn’t. He had gone to the hospital with chest pains.

He was on shift and wasn’t feeling well, after a run he felt unusually winded. Ace isn’t the most fit guy, but he doesn’t usually get winded (the only time I’ve seen him winded was when we were at Yellowstone, and we were all winded because of the elevation.). He’d felt liked he had gas and indigestion for a few days, and then it started to be pain and radiating to his arm. He said he was just brushing it off at first, because naaah, it was probably just anxiety. But when a walk around the house and another call didn’t make him feel any better, he called the other medic over and told him what was going on and that he thought he needed to go to the hospital. Their house doesn’t have an ambulance so they had to call one over from another house. They took him over to the best hospital in the city.

He was still in the ER when he called me. I get the feeling he had been there for a while without letting me know. Commence freaking out..but subtly and calmly, so as not to freak out the kids or let Ace know that I was anything but calm and collected. They (the doctors) still weren’t sure what was going on. At that point, they were going to keep him overnight for monitoring and do an angiogram in the morning. He didn’t want me to come down there, he was still in the ER and it was chaos. We started to make plans for me to come down in the morning. I scrambled trying to find a sitter who could come at the buttcrack of dawn so I could get down to the hospital…still not knowing what is going on, but freaking out just for good measure. All the horrible, scary thoughts ran through my head. I didn’t even know how to talk about it with the few people I had told. They asked if I was alright…Uhm, I don’t know. I still don’t know a month and a few later.

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Negative A Negative A Negative A, now

Red Hot Chili Peppers were popular when I was in high school, including their song Give it Away.  I saw them at Lalapalooza…when Lalapalooza was new…My high school friend, who was small chested, liked to say her bra size was Negative A.  Sooo…yeah, we’d wander around high school singing “Negative A, Negative A, Negative A now”  because we were classy.   (And yes, I LOVED them singing during halftime at the Super Bowl.  And I chuckled at the outrage, because seriously…Flea had on pants, save your outrage.

That said, I object to this version of more negative.

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But, uhm, yay it’s too cold to snow?  Sure, let’s go with that.

Organizational Failure

Thursdays are kicking my ass. Tuesdays too. On Thursdays we have co-op for Princess Ahem and General Tank (I think there is one or two more classes), T4 has pre-school at the park district, then Princess Ahem has choir. So it looks like this: try to leave the house at 9:45. Fail, spend from 9:45 to 10:00 saying “hurry up,” drive for 30 minutes to the park for preschool drop off, spend 15 minutes dropping off and removing coats and hats and boots and saying hi to everyone, then rushing up to the place holding the co-op, accidentally try to park in the lot, realize there’s no way in hell that is going to work out well for anyone. Try to find on street parking, then conquer the snow mound and skate up the alley to the door. Sit for an hour, then at 12:20 try to gather the Big Troubles to eat lunch, and generally head back out the door by 12:45. I have to pick up T4 at 2, so not enough time to go home, not enough time to eat at a diner, and we’re trying to avoid chain fast food….so yeah, then Princess Ahem’s choir is at 4, close to pre school, not close to home, so drive home, spend 45 minutes at home, turn around and drive through school letting out hour traffic. Sit for an hour, go home. (Every other Tuesday add Cub Scouts to the end of it.)

BUT – we don’t like any of the Co-op classes for next session, so that will just become library time. But seriously, Fridays I just sit there and zone out. There is no sense in trying to form another thought.  And now I’m going to have to go to bed. Because all the being awake has made me tired!!!  Oh and this…there is more snow than children.  I am also exhausted because EVERYTHING involves a hike.

 

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On God and things

I think I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I don’t believe in God.  I believe in humanity, I believe in community, I believe in working hard and honestly, I believe in luck.  I don’t believe that my path has been set out for me; my path is made by my work and by luck.  

I grew up in the Episcopal church.  I really like the Episcopal church, and I think that will always be my spiritual home, and I like the stories that are told as sermons, that focus on being good people.  I love the music.  I REALLY love the camps and all my memories of it.  But as a grown-up, I see the Bible stories as just that, stories.  Fables, fairy tales, myths…all used to explain what was unknown.  The unknown is scary, but what I find to be really scary is refusing to learn more about our world and and allowing our understanding of the past to evolve.  Was there a person who lived the life ascribed to Jesus?  Maybe…but it doesn’t matter, there are a lot of people who have done good things and were killed/died before their time.  Did a deity create the world in 6 days and rest on the 7th and create man from dust and woman from man’s rib?  Oh for pete’s sake NO! 

So what if I’m wrong?  It shouldn’t matter, because I live my life in a way that benefits my community.  I am kind, I am helpful, I am loving, I parent my children with those values.  I help those who have less than I have, I am a shoulder to cry on when a friend is sad, I’m a person who can make a friend smile, I’m there in the middle of the night when a friend has amazing news and just needs to tell someone.  That is who I am, regardless of if God exists.  If there is a heaven and the ONLY difference between me getting in and not getting in is if I believe in God…well…that’s pretty messed up and that’s not what I want to play.  

Tonight when I was putting Princess Ahem to bed, she told me that General Tank told her there was a special secret lab that she could get to and that she wanted to believe him but she also didn’t.  When I told her that I couldn’t tell her what to believe, she responded that I could, I could tell her she was Christian and she believed in God.  I think it blew her mind when I told her that I could tell her that our family, generally, is considered Christian, but that I absolutely could not tell her whether or not she believed in God.   And so it begins, she is learning that grown ups CAN’T tell her what she believes.  I hope this will be the first in a number of realizations that she has a mind of her own and I fully expect her to use it.  

And for your happy picture(s) of the day…This is middle console surfing as demonstrated by T4.  We have to sit for an hour while Princess Ahem has choir and we’re starting to go a little stir crazy with all the inside togetherness lately.  So we had a dance party.  In the car.  And T4 was the surfer.  And demanded I take a picture, not only of the top half, but of his feet….so you’d all know he was surfing.  

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Overwhelmed I am, helpful you’re not.

You know it’s bad when my brain has been taken over by Yoda’s grammar structure.  Blame it on a massive lack of sleep, some Captain, and a need for something munchy to eat.

I keep thinking of all these wonderful topics to blog about, but then I get a chance to sit down, a moment of quiet and I just faff around on the rest of the internet.  I never really get wound down enough to write unless it’s in the middle of the night, which doesn’t really do anyone any good…because then I do things like write in Yoda-voice.

One of the biggest problems I struggle with as an adult with ADD is wanting to do ALL THE THINGS.   There are so many things I’m interested in doing and trying.  I want to paint, and sing, and act, and write stories, and poetry and books and songs and prose and articles and hilarity, and be a play-write, write the next favorite movie, and photography, and sew, and design, and create, and build, sing, dance, and aerial, and trapeze, and horseback riding, and learn languages, and travel, and write about travel and take photographs about travel, and bake (but not cook, just the baking), and eat new things (that I don’t have to cook).   I want to do archery, I want to learn how to shoot a gun, I’d like to learn to garden, and ice skate.  I want to do comedy, I want to do improv, I want to parent, I want to be an awesome wife, I want to read and discuss the classics, I want to know and understand history (and ohhh I love being able to discuss literature WITH history).  I want to be good at trivial pursuit, I want to be a good friend, I want to be a great daughter.  I want to understand architecture, I want to play great games (although not chess). I want to be great at organizing (with someone else to keep it all going), I want to do pottery and sculpture, and make jewelry and…and….and…

People see that list of things and think I’m just fickle and want to try the newest trend.  I REALLY want to be able to do all those things.  I want to try them and then I get frustrated when the start up cost to TRY them is insane.

Another problem with ADD, a MILLION business ideas and a complete lack of follow through to make any of them happen for real.  Oh well.

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It’s Crazy In Mah Brain, Up In Here, Up In Here

1. I remember when my Grammy smoked.  She and I made a deal that if she quit smoking, I’d quit sucking my thumb.  After she quit, she always kept a pack of cigarettes (open, the last pack she ever bought) in her freezer.  When I was a teenager, I asked her about it, she said it made it so she didn’t feel like she had to buy another pack AND if she ever smoked one it would make her sicker than anything.  I really wonder if that pack of cigarettes was still there when she died and they cleaned out her house.

2. Sometimes things are just fun, or cute, or silly.  Not everything in life has to have a meaning or a purpose.  Sometimes a toy, or a book, or a TV show, or a poem is just fun, is just for its face value.  Not everything needs to be deconstructed.  Especially things that children do or come up with.  They do not think like adults, sometimes marrying a prince is just about “hey, this sounds like fun today right now.”  Sometimes kissing your friend is just because “hey this is my friend.”

3. I painted my nails last before Christmas time, probably before Thanksgiving.  Most of the nail polish has come off, chipped off, whatever, except for this one spot on my thumbnail on my left hand.  I’m curious why that is the only bit left.

4. I wonder if I will ever get past being upset that my mom NEVER pushed me to succeed in anything other than academics, despite the fact that there were a lot of things I desperately wanted to do and possibly could have done well if just given the push/support and not allowed go give up the second it got hard?  I got the message that only academics were important, the rest was fluff, so I went to college, law school and even got my LL.M. … and all I want to do is get back on stage.

5. I wonder if I’m going to be able to strike the right balance with my kids.

6. Why the hell is my dog so WEIRD?  Both of them are weird, but he is WAY weirder than she is.

7. I miss Ace more when he’s on a rehire than when he’s just on shift.  I’m not sure why.  (I mean I miss him BOTH times, but it’s more apparent when he’s on a rehire.)

8. One of the skills I want my kids to leave home with is how to reheat food in an oven or pot instead of a microwave.

9. Watching T4 play Wii “Sports ‘zort” is HILARIOUS.  He’s so dramatic.

10. I’m getting back on the ice….watch out, no seriously watch out, I may land on you.  (I went for the recreational skates, the figure skates were too small and I didn’t want to wait another 2 weeks for them to try ordering the next size up and since I don’t HAVE to have figure skates…I went with these.  We’ll see if they irritate me to the point of buying figure skates, too.)

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The Internet, It’s Weird

It’s weird when you meet someone on the internet in 2001 when you searched for a recipe for cucumber sandwiches for an engagement party and in 2014 you are unable to sleep because a friend of theirs is having a horrible tragedy and you can’t sleep waiting for news.  

It’s weird that you start a blog and a twitter account and you start talking to another blogger on twitter and she ends up being an amazing friend that you road trip across the country with and have so much fun even being stuck in traffic that you suspect you’ve actually known her forever.  

It’s weird that you catch up with people on Facebook that you weren’t friends with in High School, but you weren’t enemies either, you just travelled in different circles, and you realize how really great they are and you regret not being friends with them in high school. (And you also realize how really weird you were in high school…gah.)

It’s weird that you can connect with people who have a shared lifestyle, who live no where near you, and you can find support with that group because they know what it’s like.  

I get that FB can be bad, I get that it can be a venue for a lot of drama (I won’t say cause, because FB isn’t causing the drama, the people are…).  I probably spend too much time on Facebook from time to time (like today).  But it’s really helped me develop a better sense of who I am when I’m not concerned about the clothes I’m wearing, or the hair style my hair refuses to do, or that I’m self conscious about my laugh or my smile.  And I’m really grateful for that, especially as I learn to own it.

The Internet is just.weird.  

So, if you’re the praying sort, or the thinking sort, or the holding close to your heart sort…if you could hold my friend’s friend close to you tonight, hope that their daughter will be, by some miracle, okay.  One downside of the internet is wishing that I could do more than just share fundraisers, and ask you to share it as well, or ask everyone to send positive energy in her direction.

And because puppies are cute and I need to be unsad so I can go to bed….this is Sally Miss Pretty Mustard as a puppy. 

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