Mothahhood

life in my hood with 2 teenagers, a toddler and chronic pain

A Tale of Two (or 3) Doctors June 11, 2009

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”  -Charles Dickens

It has been a while since I wrote of my medical stuff. Probably some sort of psychological avoidance issue. Or possibly because of the amount of time that I have been dealing with it of late, the last thing I’ve been wanting to do is write about it. But there have been some new developments so I feel obliged to share them. 

As soon as I was adequately recovered from the last angiogram, I began intensive work with my chiropractor-2-3 times/week. The work was hard, deep and usually left me feeling pretty crappy for the next day or so. The good news was, that we were seeing some definite, although not permanent, improvement. We at least felt that we had honed in on the root of the trouble. The bad news was that we weren’t really sure what she was doing that seemed to help and if her work would/could have any permanent effect.

Also, my last 2 doctors, neither of whom do I respect (see May 21 post “A Bitch of a Week”), suggested that my problem was caused by my pain medicine and not the other way around. Although this seemed completely illogical to me, I was so desperate, that I think I was open to hearing just about anything. So, when they suggested I get off my pain meds, I was at least willing to give it a try. My fear was, what if I get off the meds and the pain is still there only now I get no relief, have no safety net?  That concerned me, especially since getting off the drugs is a long drawn process which need to be undertaken with great care so as to avoid or at least ease withdrawal, which can be a very painful experience on its own. Also, neither of these doctors told me how I should do the withdrawal and neither referred me to another doctor who specializes in helping people wean gently off of narcotics. I was, yet again, alone in my journey.

So, I started calling around to different clinics or programs that were designed to help people kick their drugs. Only problem was, I wasn’t nor am I a drug abuser. Evidently one has to be a hard core addict or as rich as Miss Lohan or Spears to get any help. I was told point blank by 2 different admissions directors that they weren’t the place for me because I am simply dependent on my medicine to feel well, not addicted in order to get high. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I did speak with one facility that would have happily helped me to part with a great deal of my money for the privilege of spending 28 days away from my family, attending NA meetings, etc. 

Surprisingly, my playing around on the web landed me right at the internet doorstep of the most amazing perfect e-match of a doctor that I could imagine. Her website described someone who was the doctor equivalent of tall dark and handsome. Dr. Gayle was western trained and she is an M.D. Her field of specialty was gastroenterology (a girl after my own spleen), and internal medicine, but she had also studied with a medicine man on a Native American reservation and she became open to other ways of healing. She then learned about other healing modalities and now runs a completely integrated practice. She is well known in her profession and highly respected. She treats the body, mind and spirit  as a whole and considers herself a partner with the patient to figure out a way to health and wellness. Imagine that! AND her practice is about a 20 minute drive from my house.

I called her office and was able to get in last Tuesday. And what happened next was truly amazing. We sat, I spoke, she listened. She took some notes and asked a few questions, but mostly she just listened. And then she stated quite simply and matter of factly, that she had a pretty good idea about what could be causing my pain. Just like that. At the end of our meeting she looked me directly in the eyes, put her hands on my arms and said, “We will figure this out.” And I believed her. 

We all have a very large muscle that runs up the length of the torso, connecting at the hip and up near the diaphragm (the very diaphragm from where the median arcuate ligament was cut in my original surgery), called the iliopsoas muscle. Her thinking (which was confirmed on examination) is that this muscle has been in chronic spasm since the surgery, likely as a result of the body trying to protect itself from the trauma of the surgery. She said that it would account for all of the pain that I have described to her-the squeezing inside my body, the wrapping, the burning-all of it (other than the normal aches of being a grown up and having 3 kids and living in a stressful world). But not only that, she actually has a plan for dealing with the muscle. She told me that we have to break the cycle of the spasm and re-teach the muscle that it doesn’t need to be that way-that it can simply relax now. Not only that too, but she has a plan for breaking the cycle and that is through the use of magnesium injections which cause muscles to relax. 

So, last week I had my first injection. I won’t say it was a pleasant experience, because it wasn’t, BUT at the end of the treatment, my pain was gone–GONE!. And for the nest several days I woke up without pain. It was truly amazing. She wouldn’t venture to guess how long the relief might be, planning several more injections-once a week for the next month and we’ll take it from there. I still take my meds because A. I can’t just stop them and B. there is no expectation that one shot is enough. In fact as the week has gone by, I have felt some pain creeping back in, but I am taking much less medication than I was even a week ago. I am scheduled for another injection this afternoon. 

It’s too early for me to claim victory-way to early, but for the first time in a very long time, I actually feel hopeful…

More to come.

nufced

 

to our son May 31, 2009

Last year on this date, we celebrated our son’s coming of age.   He put together an amazing ceremony with readings from many cultures and writings from many people throughout the world. They all reflected to him, what it means to become a man in today’s world, to be part of a bigger community, to have a deeper consciousness and to take to take on greater responsibility in this world. I wrote a piece to him. It is what follows.

As most of you probably know, I am a pretty big baseball fan and a crazy Red Sox fan.  I am not, on the other hand a religious person.  When my husband and I began our journey as parents we agreed that we would raise our children to be good people, but that we would not raise them to follow any particular religion and that we would leave that choice to them as they got older. So it was much to my surprise (shock) when our son told us he wanted a bar mitzvah.  How could this have happened I thought? Where did we go wrong? 

Of course, we also have given our children just about everything they have ever wanted and we have certainly supported them in all of their endeavors, so there was no question that if he wanted it, we would make it happen.  Meanwhile though, we wanted to ensure that he was mindful and reflective of this experience and was doing it for the right reasons, not because it was what he thought his grandparents expected or because it was what many of his friends did. We wanted to ensure that he was aware of the meaning behind his words, be they English or Hebrew.  We had many conversations with J (some rather intense) about what it was he really wanted in doing this ceremony and in acknowledging his journey to adulthood.  We encouraged him to explore his feelings and goals and his own belief system–to look at where he sees himself in the world and in his own community.  J, with us, came to an understanding that he really wanted a ceremony to mark his coming into adulthood and he wanted to be surrounded by the important people in his world to share this moment in his journey. 

Somehow (through divine intervention of the baseball gods) we found ourselves able to have this celebration at this amazing house of worship (Dodger Stadium).  It is not, of course, Fenway Park, but the spirituality of the game is definitely here.  What a perfect location for us.  I’ve always joked that if I had to chose a religion, it would be baseball.  The rules of baseball are not unlike the rules in life. They are a guide, a  set of clearly defined directives for playing the game fairly (without instant replay) and allowing everyone equal chance at greatness.  Even the torah is not meant to be read literally but as a set of metaphors and lessons for how to live a just life.    

One day when J was about 8 or 9 he told us he wanted to play baseball.  I was so glad when he chose it as his one and only sport. Baseball combines the best of a team sport and an individual sport. Sometimes you stand alone and strike out and other times you hit one out of the park. Every day, people have outstanding moments in a game but rarely can one person be given sole credit for a win and likewise even though we’ve seen people massively blunder a play (think Billy Buckner), one person can truly never take full blame for a loss. Sometimes you sacrifice for the good of the team, sometimes you get beaned on the head, every once in a while, you have a day-a moment when you pitch an elusive perfect game or, you face challenges that seem insurmountable, but you always have your team around you to lift you up.  Each day and each game bring new opportunities and possibilities.

So too is life.

Each failure or crushing defeat brings with it the optimistic chant, “there’s always next year” and sometimes, sometimes when you keep the faith long enough (86 years) next year actually comes, you can overcome the demons of your history and just like that, curses can end. 

Things can turn on one pitch or when you seem to be down to your last out, one small gesture can turn it all back around-David (Roberts) can look Goliath right in the eye, challenge him head on, steal a base right from under his nose, and know that things have turned around just like that. Empires fall and dynasties end, and the underdog, the little guy can, with the right bunch of idiots around him, do the impossible.   

Every spring, I wait with anticipation for opening day.  Where I come from, the beginning of baseball season, means spring is here.  Here in Los Angeles where temperatures fluctuate by only a few degrees from January to June, the coming of spring may not mean much, but in Connecticut, it means the snow will finally be gone, the crocuses will  pop up and the daffodils will soon follow.  It means a fresh start after the long dormancy of winter.  the start of a new baseball season means a clean slate, a new beginning, a new chance, and eternal hope and optimism.  Such is the start of a new life. When J was born (4 weeks before we expected him, but of course, during spring training) , we could see for the first time as parents, a new life, entrusted to us, a life filled with hope and optimism-a perfect start.  We saw a new person with a very old soul.  This child has not disappointed. Every day he shows us greatness, sometimes he makes an error, but he gets back in the game and continues to play, sometimes he makes an amazing play, a web gem moment.  He is loyal to his friends and family–his team, and he is a team player.  J has and has always had great empathy and compassion. He loves animals and he has a value system that is deep and unwavering. At the same time, such as in the game of baseball, J knows that he can never take things too seriously.  He has a great sense of humor and sees life in all it’s irony and foolishness.  Many nights before going to bed, I find  myself in J’s room laughing my ass off with him over something foolish but hysterical. He is a powerful good friend, a fierce big brother, protective and challenging at the same time.  He is as likely to pick on M (his younger sister) as he is to hang out with her playing a video game, or showing her the latest funny You Tube video.  When J was little, if he got sad or hurt, he only wanted his baby sister M to comfort him.  J delights in his newer baby sister, and told me shortly after her birth, that he finally understands how much we love him.  

Recently, in a game in Baltimore, Manny Ramirez made an amazing catch in left field, ran up the back wall and high-fived a Sox fan, before running back down and throwing the ball to double up the runner on first.  I have never seen anything like it before and that is one of the reasons I love baseball so much.  You never know what is going to happen and you continually see things you have never seen before. that is the beauty of the game of baseball and that is the beauty of the journey of life.  

Mahalo is J’s middle name as most of you know, because we got him when we were on our honeymoon in Hawaii.  Mahalo means thanks you in Hawaiian.  J, as you travel the bases of life, always remember the rules, and always always Keep the faith. Mahalo for being our son.

nufced

 

don’t ask, don’t tell? May 28, 2009

I just put my 3 1/2 year old to bed.  She was chanting “What do we want? Civil Rights! When do we want it? NOW!”  Crazy, right?

She doesn’t know the meaning of those words and it is my deepest hope that long before she has her own children, there will be no need for rallying cries such as this. But until that day, the chant must be repeated loudly and clearly across our nation and across our world. An hour ago, my family returned from a demonstration, one that was organized very last minute, in response to both the disturbing decision by the California Supreme Court and the firing of Lt. Dan Choi for publicly coming out of the closet. Lt. Dan, as many were calling him tonight, was there to speak, passionately and from his heart about knowing first hand how important it is to fight for the right to love.  As simple as that. This man spoke, and many listened as he put it so clearly. This man who has risked his very life for this country is fighting the battle of his life for the simple right that so many of us take for granted. I don’t agree with war and I have never understood a person who would choose a life in the military, but this man, this strong man, this eloquent man, who has become a symbol for a movement to which he has been drafted, showed me the true meaning tonight of the words “courage” and “hero.”

 

Lt. Dan

Lt. Dan

 

 

This afternoon, I told my children that I wanted to attend this rally and that I wanted them to go too. I wanted them to understand what it means to be a part of something bigger than one’s self. We went, and my husband met us there and we held signs and took pictures and chanted and listened. And my children felt the energy that is created when many voices come together as one. I told my children after, that the reason I wanted them to go is that I want them to be able to tell their children what it feels like to be the change they want to see in the world. I told them that I hope that their children will ask them with confusion how it was that homosexuals could not marry, could not be afforded the same rights to love and live and die for their country-that their children will not be able to even imagine this world.

Here’s the thing. I was going to write a funny piece about the “don’t ask, don’t tell” life of a mom. How as long as you don’t ask me if my beds are made, I won’t tell you that they aren’t. As long as you don’t ask me when I last showered, I won’t tell you. As long as you don’t ask me if the kids had cereal for dinner, I won’t tell you. We all walk around with our dirty little secrets and an unwritten code that we won’t ask the real questions and we won’t expect the real answers. BUT, after going to this rally, after listening to Lt. Choi speak of the necessity to deny his very being in order to keep his job, a job that so many Americans consider heroic, my dirty little secrets seem insignificant, not even worthy of mention. To live your entire life as a lie-don’t ask me if I am gay and I won’t tell you, is incomprehensible to me.

There are so many problems that we as a country and a world face-the environment, the economy, healthcare, disease, education-that it is entirely mind boggling that we even need to spend our resources to fight for a basic human right. Rick Jacobs, chair of the Courage Campaign, Lt. Dan and another young man whose name I did not get, spoke of these things and we listened and we replied and we shouted and we told our children that we must pick our battles and when we do, we must fight for them with everything we have. I grew up in a time when, in certain places, people of color could not drink at the same water fountain as white people. Last November, we elected an African American man to the highest office in our land. Yesterday that very same man nominated a Latina woman to the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

Times have changed. Times are changing.

It is time to change don’t ask, don’t tell. It is time to ask. It is time to tell. 

 

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nufced?–not sure

 

prop hate May 26, 2009

I MUST get on my blog soapbox here for a minute. While I am deeply saddened by today’s news, I am not surprised. As the mother of 2 daughters and one son, as well as a friend to many gay or lesbian people, today is a day that must only strengthen our resolve to win equal rights for all humans. Whether my own children grow up to be straight or gay couldn’t matter less to me. That they grow up in a society that they can marry regardless of their sexual orientation matters greatly to me. I recently watched the movie “Milk” and am truly inspired by him and so many others to continue this fight until all people have the right to be as happy or as miserable in marriage as anyone else. I hope you will join me.

join the fight at the Courage Campaign:http://tr.im/msJf or Equality California: http://tr.im/msJs

on this particular point… not nufced

 

how sweet it is May 1, 2009

In an attempt to lighten things up a little from yesterday’s post and keep things in perspective I am going to tell you a story about keeping the faith.  Also, this story shows that sometimes (most times) in life we must experience the bitter to really appreciate the sweet…

So I’m a New England girl, born and raised, all my family is from the Boston area (hence the spelling of mothahhood-like lobstah, chowdah, and bee-ah), but I’ve lived in LA since ’86. Got married, had some kids, but couldn’t possibly raise them to be anything but Sox fans. Of course, having cried myself to sleep many times, I knew I shouldn’t raise my kids to be Sox fans, but I really couldn’t do anything about it–it’s pretty much in my and my kids’ dna. So, 2003, my son is a crazy big baseball lover and even bigger Sox fan. The Sox have a great year, make it to the post season, actually look like they might beat our arch nemesis to advance, Grady Little leaves Pedro in one pitch too many and it’s history all over again. I was too jaded for tears at this point, but my poor son went to bed in sobbing tears. My heart was broken for him and I was kicking myself for letting him love the Sox. We have many friends here that are Sox fans and for weeks after, we all agreed that raising our kids as fans was bordering on child abuse.

BUT, kids are pretty tough and by the next day my son was over it, telling me the famous words, “we’ll get ’em next year.” Yeah, I’ve heard that before. Anyway, he was eternally optimistic–so much so, that he made his email address redsoxchamps2004@____.com. Mind you, this was still 2003.

Forward to, 2004 mid season, my family is actually back east (we go every summer), the Sox have just traded Nomar, we’re 10 1/2 games out of first and it’s looking bleak. Don’t know why, but I was walking on the beach in Maine with my mom, looked up at her and said, “The Sox are going to win it all this year and you and I are getting tattoos when they do. ” She looked at me like I was crazy, but said, “yeah, sure.” Then, everything starts turning around.

Long story a little shorter, forward again to October 2004, Sox down to the evil ones 3-0 and losing game 4 with Rivera coming in to close. I have already sent my kids to bed–no need to repeat last year (and so many other years as well) because I can’t bear it and I turn the game off. But then I start thinking “what kind of fan am I if I can’t watch them lose.” I go in the bedroom, turn the t.v. on, sound off and then a hit, Dave Roberts in to run. Now keep in mind, we used to go to a lot of Dodger games and Roberts had only been recently traded to the Sox, so I am sitting on the edge of my bed, heart pounding because I know how Roberts can run. Everyone watching and playing knows that Roberts is going to try to take second. No doubt about it, and even so, he does. Then a hit, Roberts scores and game is tied. I watch them tie it up, but really can’t take it anymore so I leave the t.v. on in the bedroom and go in the den. My husband and I each keep going in the bedroom to check the score and the game goes on forever. Anyway, finally, Big Papi closes things out and we CANNOT believe it. I had to wake my son up to tell him. It was then and there that I knew we were going all the way and so did my son. Nonetheless I couldn’t eat for 3 days.

Anyway, I ramble on. You know the rest. I got my tattoo in December 2004 and every day it is much more than a tattoo. It is my reminder that whenever life throws curve balls or “curses” to always keep the faith. I guess the point is that we have a lot to learn from our kids. To this day my kid’s email address is redsoxchamps2004@_______.com.

The silver lining about 2003 for my son was that 2004 was all the sweeter. He tasted the heartbreak of all those that came before him, but he got to experience the redemption. And he will always remember. We celebrated that night like there was no tomorrow.

nufced