I remember…Debbie

DebbieI don’t know why I’m starting with Debbie. She’s not first alphabetically. She wasn’t a friend. She wasn’t a stand-out student academically or athletically. In fact, she was probably the lowest girl on the peer totem in my class.Don’t judge. I say that because she was likely why I wasn’t on the bottom instead.

As I look at her picture in the yearbook, I wonder why. She was pretty enough. I remember her as slender and tall. She wore glasses, but back then we all did (contact lenses weren’t the norm). I think she was likely a victim of socio-economically judged. Her family had no land, and in a small town where the only people who lived in town were retired farmers who could afford to let their children or hired-hands reside at the farm or families who couldn’t afford land in the first place and worked 9-5 in a tiny town with one bank, one grocery store, a post office, and a motel. Strangely, I don’t ever remember meeting or seeing her parents or siblings. I have no idea who was in her family.

One of my other classmates told me a story he remembered from when we were kindergarteners so the following is more of a “I remember when he remembered”. He said when we were in kindergarten, we were suppose to be napping. Instead I took Debbie’s shoes away from her and threw them into the hallway.

Unfortunately, she often was my target. That was probably my first interaction. One of my last was the time was in high school when I got my hands on some tiny plastic bags. In one I put a small amount of flour, and placed it in her locker in plain sight. When the bell rang, everyone went to their lockers, including Debbie. I watched from a safe distance away for the moment she found the suspicious looking baggie.

She did of course, and her actions were opposite of what I expected her to do. You see, as we grew from asshole elementary children who teased each other, we grew into asshole teens who bullied. Rumors made peers into sluts and drug dealers. What I didn’t understand then is that rumors are often baseless and used to justify the bullying. When Debbie saw that little baggie, she didn’t pick it up and then secretly pocket it while casting a suspicious eye over shoulder. Nope, she picked up in horror and went straight into the nearest classroom and handed it to the teacher.

Probably the most memorable part of this story is what the teacher did next. Since Debbie’s reaction wasn’t discreet, everyone gathered excitedly around the teacher’s desk as he held the baggie of suspicious white powder. First he eyeballed it. Then he opened the zip, stuck his pinkie in his mouth to wet the tip, dipped it into the white powder and tasted it! He announced that is was flour.

No one asked how he knew it was only flour. No one thought twice about what in hindsight an experienced drug-dealer would do. No one thought to call in authorities or parents. No announcements were made. Today a thoughtless stunt like that could force a school into a lock-down.

For what it’s worth, Debbie, I’m sorry. I don’t know where you are or who you’ve become. I hope you’ve found happiness despite having me as a classmate.

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Upcoming Feature Film!! (not really)

MemoriesA couple years ago I started a new category for “I remember ” that consisted of posts I’d written about childhood memories. The idea, or the project – if you will, has recently re-implanted in my head. Last week my mom was moved to a “memory center” located nearly four hours away. My children haven’t seen their grandmother J. in almost two months. I plan on visiting in a couple weeks, and I thought I would let my daughter, who is now 7, interview her to foster some bonding. Of course, life events like this make me realize how little my children know about me beyond what they see right now.

I have always accepted that someday this blog would be for my kids to read. I hope it’s after I’m dead so the reciprocal embarrassment is not an issue. I also want them to read a post, turn to each other with eyes wide, and remark, “I had never heard that story!”

This series of “I remember…” will be centered on what I remember about all of the kids I went to school with. Our graduating class consisted of approximately 22 students. Some of their names and faces I can see as clear as the screen in front of me; others not so much. 90% of them I haven’t seen or talked to in 30 years. While it’s a given that all of the posts I’ve already written are personal, these upcoming posts will be so personal, it’s unlikely to mean anything to anyone other than to the two people I’m writing it for. Fair warning.

I plan on using real names except I’ll omit last names. This is not out of courtesy for the person I’ll be writing about, but out of the continued desire for privacy on my part. You will never see my real name in a byline on my blog or the names of my husband or children. Each story will center around one person. I’ll admit that may mean I might squeeze out only a couple of sentences. On the other hand, some stories might be 1,000+ words. I would love to include pictures, except by a cruel twist of fate, nearly all my personal photos from my childhood as well as my yearbooks were stolen from me by a housemate in an act of revenge almost three decades ago and were never recovered.

God, that nearly makes me cry just writing it out.

ETA: My children won’t even be able to read any of this if I can’t even remember the URL or username of my blog. Don’t even ask me how many attempts it took to log in.

I thought I’d get serious and write something I would think is profound, but life is already too damn serious, what with death looming. I mean not that it’s looming closer than it was the last time I wrote, which is when I updated with the news of my dad’s unexpected death. It’s just I simply have to accept that right now, I mean RIGHT. NOW. is the youngest I will ever be for the rest of my life. And shit, I’m getting old!

My daughter, Aitch, constantly asks how old I am. I make her guess. If I don’t like her number, I tell her to guess lower. On the other hand, if she’s lower or close, I congratulate her for getting it right. Unfortunately, with all the math she’s learning in the second grade, she’s figured out that there’s no way I can be 45 one time and 43 the next.

Speaking of school, Dood, my son with ADHD, is already counting DOWN how many more years he has left in school: 4 1/2. He’s got facial hair. Just this weekend I told my husband it’s time to show him how to shave. If he doesn’t, I will, and seriously? I’m pretty sure that’s not the memory he wants to have in his head for the next twenty years until he reaches that point where he thinks, “Damn! My MOM taught me how to shave!” Frankly, between Sparring Partner and myself, who is more qualified: The guy who shaves once or twice a week the area of a sheet of paper, or the woman who shaves at least four times a week the area of six sheets of paper? Duh.

My MIL still walks/rolls the earth. My mom does too. Both women are the center of a their own familial tropical storms. Too deep and complicated.

I’ll be celebrating my one year anniversary at work. Every day has been so challenging, and many times I not only questioned my decision to accept the position, but I’ve literally questioned my superior on HER decision to hire me. She’s a good boss.

Oh, the most exciting thing that happened these past recent months is that Aitch broke the big bone in her lower arm (radius) when she fell from the school’s monkey bars and landed with her arm under her. She told me that she knew she had broke it when she heard it snap. She underwent two surgeries: one to implant a bone rod; one to remove the hardware. I think she would have healed more quickly without the surgeries, but hey, my medical degree is limited to reproductive endocrinology, and even those facts I remember very little of.

Until the next time, which could be tomorrow or it could be another year: Later, Bitches.

Funny

Funny how I said I was going to update my blog more, and then I didn’t. Actually it’s not funny.

You see, my dad died unexpectedly in February. No chronic illness or condition that gave us time to prepare for the inevitable, unless you count life and aging, which as you may or may not know, continues only up until you die.

My father was in his 80s. I won’t go into too many details because while the trend continues to become less and less anonymous on-line, I still keep this place as much as a retreat as I can. I add more and more in-real-life acquaintances, co-workers, neighbors, classmates, etc. to my Facebook friend list and find myself posting less and less for fear of offending or alienating.

I found out my dad died when my mother, who if you’ll remember has Alzheimer’s, called me while my car’s hands-free system was active and my kids were in the car to tell me that he’d “been sitting in the chair all day and I think he’s dead.”

It’s “funny” that even though I told my mom to call 9-1-1 that once she hung up with me, she forgot to do so.

It’s “funny” that I had to call my sister-in-law and ask her to do this favor I can never repay and that’s drive the five minutes to the farm to see if my dad was indeed dead because I couldn’t.

It’s “funny” that my husband happen to be out of state attending his uncle’s funeral.

It’s “funny” I had to use Facebook to finally get a message to my husband’s family that if someone sees him to call me about a family emergency because he wasn’t answering his phone.

There’s been both your typical and atypical family drama that comes with the patriarch’s death.

And to make things really interesting, I accepted an executive staff position, which is at the minimum, full-time. Simply making a transition back to full-time has been hard enough, but the endless projects and responsibilities are…well…endless.

Plus? While the finishing of our basement project started off strong, it has ground to a near-halt because my husband, Sparring Partner, couldn’t be bothered to look at fixtures. There’s a light at the end of that tunnel, and I hope by June 1st when they set the island’s countertop, it is the end of phone calls and appointments and decisions. I swear, even choosing the shape and color of the outlets left me feeling overwhelmed.

Into the Remodel: Day 7

Sure. I say I’m going to journal more and then I make like a fart.

We “broke ground” a week ago. Suddenly the plans to finish the basement, which have been stalling out every year for the past seven, have grown legs. And wings. And a jet pack. Like “vrROOOOMMM, Bitchezz!!”

One day last week, I had the plumber, the furnace-r, an electrician, a furniture deliverer (we had ordered new recliners), and a furniture buyer (I sold an old recliner) show up basically at the same time.

Jackhammers were involved for a couple of days, one of which was a snow day so the kids and I were all cooped up in the master bedroom trying to escape the noise and vibrations. It was awesome.

No. No, it wasn’t.

It only took one week for Sparring Partner and I mutually decide that we will not finish our basement because obviously one of us is not on the same page as the other (Lord, have we ever been??). By Sunday evening, the plans were back on. I conceded and agreed that we do not need a dishwasher or an ice-maker for the basement bar. He conceded and agreed…to nothing.

Yet.

I am biding my time, rubbing my hands maniacally as I plot. I will get a goddamn broom closet even if I have to refer to it as a “Pantry” for the rest of my natural days and label it using a woodburning tool right onto the cabinet door, sohelpmegod!

Thumbs Down

We just returned home from my son’s appointment scheduled two weeks after he broke his thumb. This doctor is Dood’s pediatrician as the doctor who originally diagnosed and braced his thumb practices at an urgent care clinic.

The wait between the nurse and the pediatrician was long. The wait for the radiologist to take a new x-ray was long. The wait for the radiologist and pediatrician to read the results was long. And then the wait for the nurse to return and give Dood the last of third Gardisil vaccinations AND the second half of his Hep A vaccination (SURPRISE!) wasn’t long enough, according to my needle-phobic son.

Two hours later, he is fully vaccinated until who knows when. That’s the good news. The bad is that the fracture is not healing as well as the doc would like. The aluminum thumb splint has been replaced with a soft cast that immobilized his thumb and wrist. We also have another appointment in two weeks to check it again. If the progress is still not ideal, we may get ourselves a referral to an orthopedic surgeon and thumb screws. (See what I did there?)

For as rock’em and sock’em my daughter is, I know she will never enter a medical-related field. A friend of hers at school had to have a tonsillectomy, so I enthusiastically showed her images from google. She fanned her face delicately, averted her eyes and said to show her no more. Occasionally the topic of my Caesarean come up. She is quick to say she will never have children while she wrinkles her nose in disgust. And today, as she watched Dood get his shots, one to each arm, she first flushed and then quickly blanched.

If I had been considerably smarter, I would have loved to go into medicine.

Marshmallows

My daughter, Aitch (6), came to me asking for a mid-afternoon snack. I asked her what she wanted. Her reply, “Marshmallows!” When I told her no, she asked why then was the bag was already opened.

It’s a new bag, brought home Christmas Eve, and it’s the s’more style, which are rectangular in shape (genius, right?!). Both children are sneak-snackers and pantry-raiders. I have to keep candies hidden. I usually find out that the stash has been discovered when wrappers are found stuffed between couch cushions, in their bedroom trash cans, or under the coffee table.

I called both of them to the kitchen counter and explained very simply that neither of them was to get out of their seats until someone had confessed to opening the bag of marshmallows without permission. The accusations and denials streamed out of them, even going so far as to blame dad, who in fact loathes marshmallows.

As for me, I made good use of the time by emptying the dishwasher and tidying up the kitchen. After ten minutes, I was impressed neither had caved. By twenty, I was wondering if in fact the mice had somehow learned to coop their resources and used the scissors to open the bag. After all, It was crudely cut open…

Doodicus (13) worked the angle that if Aitch would just admit to the crime, her punishment wouldn’t be as severe. Aitch’s defense centered around Dood being a self-confessed sweetaholic. I had nearly cleaned up everything in the kitchen when Aitch confessed as dramatically as one could when admitting to opening a bag of marshmallows without permission after 30 minutes of duress.

I dismissed Dood from the counter. I asked Aitch to bring the bag of marshmallows over to where I stood by the sink. Once she did, I opened the cabinet to the trash and instructed her to throw them away. I saw the flush of humiliation immediately bloom from her neck to brow line. She let out a plaintive whine, “Why??” I calmly explained that it was her punishment. A couple of minutes of silence passed as she stared into what must have appeared a shiny white maw of a monster slurping eagerly for its unexpected treat; I stood looking down at the part in her hair, now also very pink with rage.

She threw the full bag into the trash and ran from the kitchen in tears.

A few minutes later, she returned to tell me that because I had made her cry, it had given her a sore throat and now hurt to talk. I said nothing. My throat hurt too.

Land Not For Sale

First, I have a back-story, but you can skip to the break if you want the short story.

In 2004 Sparring Partner and I bought 10 acres of prairie. The 20 acres adjoining ours were owned by DrC. Over the next two years we built and moved into the home where we currently live. DrC decided to sell his 20. His Realtor, in a case of mistaken identity, asked Sparring Partner’s dad if he was interested in buying the 20 acres next to him. But those acres were next to him, they were next to us. Follow?

SP’s dad, an entrepreneur to be sure, instead of correcting the Realtor that he had the wrong Surname, decided on a whim to buy the 20 acres himself. My FIL never built next to us as had intended to make arrangements to either let us buy the property outright or leave it to SP in his will. Unfortunately, he never followed up on that intent before falling terminally ill and dying a couple years ago. The property became part of the family Trust by default.

A year ago we agreed to buy the 20 acres from that Trust. It was a very difficult decision financially because if FIL had “sold” it to us before his death, he would have done so at whatever his cost had been, which relatively and frankly speaking, was almost nothing. Instead we ended up having to pay appraised value because it was part of a Trust. I agreed to this with the stipulation that we would immediately turn around and sell 10 acres off to defray the cost.

My husband, being the sentimental kind of guy he is, even though the property wasn’t anything more than an acquisition to my FIL, had our Realtor list the property exorbitantly high. He decided that if I was going to make him sell the land, he wasn’t going to let it go easily.

We are not quite to the break, if you’re still following along. This fall we received our first offer, but nearly half of what it was listed. Sparring Partner was so insulted, he refused to even counter. A couple of weeks later, the same buyer made a legitimate offer, albeit still too low. We countered. They came back a little higher. We countered. They came back a little higher. We did not counter. Yes, it was a joint decision. We determined that the potential buyer made the offer because it was their first and preferred choice. Acreage in the area with distinct advantages like ours, are rare. We were convinced we hadn’t heard the last from them.

BREAK (FINALLY!)

Last week, we received an offer to buy 10 acres we had listed for sale. It was from the same people (with the same Realtor) who had made an offer several months ago. There was some countering on both sides, but on Friday we accepted their offer. Our Realtor emailed the paperwork to us to review, and then early this afternoon she forwarded an attachment of a map confirming the property that was to be sold. As soon as I opened the file, my stomach dropped. Due to an inaccurate description, the buyers and their agent had thought they were purchasing the 10 acres adjacent to ours instead of the lot furthest away.

We immediately called our Realtor and told her of the error. I am so disappointed by what I’m sure will be this as a deal-breaker. I’m angry at how careless and irresponsible both the Realtors were for not catching it and misrepresenting the property. Finally, I am just heart-sick for the buyers themselves. We’ve seen them walking the property more than once with a couple of small children and people who were likely their parents. They are a young family hoping to build a home. They’ve stood and watched the sunset on what they thought would be the location of their deck. They probably made announcements this weekend, and even when they went to work this morning, the week of Christmas, that they finally found where they will raise their children.

I wouldn’t want to be the buyer’s representative right now trying to explain how he screwed up, but I feel even worse for that family.

Broken Bone

Doodicus turned 13 earlier this month. A week ago he broke his first bone: the middle finger of his thumb. Funnily enough, he did it playing dodgeball at school. I got the call while I was at the farm visiting my mom. It was a good excuse to clear out. I had just asked her if she knew who I was.(1) She didn’t. It confirmed my suspicisons.

The nurse said that Dood probably sprained his thumb, but he was in a lot of pain and it was swollen. He has a tendency to dramatize so I decided to just pop into a convenient clinic to have it examined. The doc’s guess was that he had hyper-extended it when the ball hit his hand, but they took x-rays to confirm. Both the doctor and nurse were surprised when the film developed and the bone was clearly broken.

He fashioned a finger splint that he can remove when he showers, and in two weeks we will see his pediatrician to see how it’s healing up.

(1) I was helping mom get together an outfit for her Christmas Party with her Red Hat Society ladies. She kept asking “What are we doing?” and I’d tell her. Over and over again she’d ask, and over and over again, I’d tell her. Even though I remained calm, inside my patience was strained. We all took her nodding and giggling as interaction and passive acknowledgement to what was going on around her. It wasn’t. It isn’t.

Popcorn

Doodicus called while Sparring Partner and I were out having supper Friday night. Usually he does just to ask if he and Aitch can have some ice cream or if they can play on the Wii. We rolled our eyes at each other when we saw who was calling.

He announced that he had burnt the popcorn in the microwave and wanted to know how to get rid of the smell. I advised him to turn on the fan over the stove, and if the smell was really bad, he could crack the deck door and turn on the ceiling fan in the powder room.

We arrived home about 30-45 minutes later and pulled into the garage. When I opened the car door, the stink of burnt something hit me like a wall, but it was infinitely worse when we walked inside the house. This wasn’t just your typical “couple of burnt old maids at the bottom of a popcorn bag” kind of smell. We asked Doodicus if he had removed the bag of microwavable popcorn from the plastic packaging. Yes, of course, he said. How did you lay it in the microwave, we asked. Like this, he demonstrated. Ah. He had put the bag in upside-down. He had totally ignored the printed instructions that said, “Place this side down in the microwave.”

SP showed me the remnants of the bag Doodicus had thrown into the garbage can in the garage. There was no “popcorn” left, just a black, charred mass of clumped stink surrounded by perfectly normal looking butter-colored salt. He BURNED the popcorn alright. It’s a miracle that there weren’t actually flames (however, judging by the aforementioned bag, I can’t swear that there WEREN’T flames.).

We wanted to know what he would have done if there had been flames. Doodicus extended the sprayer from the kitchen sink. Dood! Electrical appliances like microwaves and liquids?? Not a good combo. Not too long ago the fire extinguisher that had been in the garage was disposed of as it was 10 years past expiration. Saturday afternoon I bought a new one. On Sunday, we installed a small camera in the living room that allows us to look in on the kids remotely.

As a kid, I often dreamed that I wasn’t able to use the rotary phone we had on the farm. I would try to dial 9, but I would accidentally release the rotary before it made it all the way to the stop. I would try and fail multiple times. I also had nightmares about not being able to describe where we lived. I grew up simply with the address of “RR2”. Everyone had RR2 as an address in my hometown!

You can believe I made sure to review with both kids our address, phone numbers and who to call in an emergency.

Nothing Stays the Same

I use to wait impatiently for comments on my blog posts to come in, but to be honest with you, I haven’t read the ones to my last post. I have mobile WordPress so I know a couple came in, but I hesitate.

The other day I posted something in my private group on Facebook. The responses highlighted how much interaction has changed. I was griping. I needed the verification, acknowledgement, validation (AHA! I worked it out in my head the word I wanted!) that what I was feeling was OK. Instead I regretted posting what I had within the hour once I read the comments. They weren’t bad, just that they seemed slightly…off. I don’t know, you know?

Smart, clever and in-tune women don’t write snarky posts anymore. They are neutral. They neutralize those around them. They are baking soda on a greasy fire, which if you look at it that way, it’s a good thing, right, because who wants a fire, much less a grease-fueled fire?

*****
My daughter is a first-grader. It’s been two years since 20 first-graders stopped being anything. When my BIL showed a photo of his new handgun to Sparring Partner yesterday, I wanted to punch him in the face.

Grandma

I read the headline of an article on how documenting your day helps maintain your memory. I didn’t read it nor will I link to it for a couple of reasons.

1.) It’s so obviously true. Reading something that you wrote down based on personal experience returns you to that moment, even if it’s like looking through a hazy mirror.
2.) Because my memory is so foggy, I need to practice using it and not rely on the internet to fill in the blanks.
3.) I want to write more on what’s in my head right now; not what use to be or even what could be.

That means things won’t be that interesting here because they will be garbled, hashed, and more sloppily thrown into the white space than ever before. Worse, I’m going to try literally working through lost words in my vocabulary as I type instead of depending on an electronic thesauruses. I’m tired of the words always on the tip of my tongue but never passing my lips. I’m sure that has a medical term. In fact, I know I’ve looked it up before, but I’m not going to now. I will use spellcheck, so for that at least you can be grateful.

According to my TimeHop app, it was three years ago I scheduled a neurological appointment for my mom to discuss her own edge-teetering dementia. The doctor said Alzheimer’s but my sisters refuse to make that leap. There’s a difference and I suppose as an outsider you can say it’s obvious what those differences are, but I can feel it. It makes no difference when you see her hazel eyes clouded with the inability to recognize me, even if it’s for a moment or several seconds. I see confusion and hurt.

At Thanksgiving, she and my six-year-old daughter, Aitch, disappeared into her room. I was busy with prepping the meal, but later Aitch said that grandma Jean sat on the floor and watched her play, giggling at her antics. There was no conversation. I think that’s why grandma slipped away. Aitch has no expectations from her grandma to answer questions about what craft she’s been keeping herself busy with, or if she’s done Christmas shopping, or has she started baking cookies.

After we ate, I asked my mom who was seated at the table, if she wanted apple or pumpkin pie. She chose apple. I went to the kitchen and plated up a slice and added a dollop of ice cream. I then asked her if she wanted a fork or a spoon. She looked up and through me, her face blank, and shrugged. In that instant, I knew…I knew that she didn’t know why I’d ask her if she wanted a fork or a spoon. I calmly rephrased the question, “With your apple pie and ice cream, would you rather use a fork or a spoon to eat it?” Inside I crumbled.

The mother of a friend of mine died a couple weeks ago after losing a painful battle with cancer. Following the visitation as I was walking away from the church with my husband, Sparring Partner, I must have made said something trite like “I can’t imagine what she’s going through,” and in an uncharacteristically harsh response, Sparring Partner said, “No, you can’t. Some day you will.” His dad’s death a year and a half ago still leaves him raw.

The thing is I have already lost my mom. Physically she can sit beside me, warm in the way that a body pumping blood is, but she’s gone. I can’t talk to her like she’s my mom anymore. She doesn’t care that Aitch is a first grader and wants to be a clothing designer. A few years ago, she’d laugh and tell stories the hundreds magazine clippings of fashions I have glued to into tablets, or of the dozens of dress sketches I had that to were in a cardboard box in the attic. She doesn’t care that my son, Doodicus, is a year away from a school driving permit or that he went to his school dance. My son will never hear the story from grandma Jean about my first traffic ticket even though she was in the passenger seat when it happened. There’s no reflection or magnification of my pride, fear, humor in her eyes that anyone else might get when they talk about their family.

Rotten

Just a post for me to look back on in 10 years to remind me that I predicted Aitch would need $10K in orthodontia work…

Over this past summer break, Aitch would come to me complaining of a headache or toothache. I would offer a washcloth to bite on or if she was particularly clingy, a baby aspirin. Where she pointed in her mouth led me to believe that her 6-year molars were coming in, because, well…she’s six. But other times, she would point more to the frontish-side-ish and so I imagined baby teeth were getting ready to be ousted. I shrugged it off while encouraging her to suck it up until her bi-annual dental exam on July 24.

At the exam, I was informed that she had pretty extensive decay on all four primary (baby) first molars. Worse, there was no waiting for the baby teeth to fall out as they normally don’t until sometime around age 8 to 12. Her dentist recommended fillings at the least; pulpotomies (a root canal on baby teeth) at the worst. Due to procedures being necessitated in all four quadrants of her mouth, he suggested doing it under general anesthesia. The other option was to do the procedures in his office, but if we chose that route, we’d have at least two, possibly three more office visits since he wouldn’t/couldn’t do them all in one.

I was devastated. Rather, I was embarrassed that my perfect snowflake (said with some sarcasm) had nasty teeth. I regretted every soda I shared with her; every glass of orange juice I poured; every pint of cherry tomatoes she ever polished off; and every glowing review I gave to her post-brushing when I’d “Oooh!” and “Aaaah!”  when in reality all she was doing was rubbing the brush across the front of her teeth as she grimaced into the bathroom mirror.

Working for an oral surgeon had been educational on the long-term effects of ondontophobia (dental anxiety). If the first appointment involved work on the most painful tooth (needles, drilling, gagging, grinding), how difficult would it be to get her back for the next appointments? On the other hand? She should suck it up. I should suck it up! General anesthesia is dangerous stuff, especially when I had no idea how she would respond to it, and so young. Not to mention the considerable extra expense!

I chose to have it all done in one fell swoop.

The procedure was scheduled three weeks later. August 12th. A week before she returned to school (as a 1st Grader!). That Sunday before, the pain flared again. When I looked into her mouth (now knowing where specifically to look), I saw the gum surrounding the worst tooth was red and swollen to twice its normal size. Surgery couldn’t come soon enough.

Unicorn, freshly washed and fluffed.
Unicorn, freshly washed and fluffed.

Tuesday morning, we were as ready as we could be. I had made sure to bathe her the night before and gently warned her that she couldn’t have anything to eat or drink, not even a sip or to even brush her teeth. She seemed happy when I told her that she could stay in her jammies and bring along her favorite blanket and stuffed animal (Unicorn). We were scheduled at 9:00 am at the surgery center. By 8:40, we were buckling up in the car when the SC called, “The doctor is just finishing up his last case. Are you on your way?” I assured her that we could be there in 10 minutes. At least he wasn’t behind…

Upon our arrival, I filled out some paperwork and wrote a check. We have a high-deductible plan and while I knew the SC would have to take a write-off, we’d be responsible for a majority of the bill. Within just a few minutes, the prep-nurse brought us back and had Aitch exchange her jammie top for a child’s scrub shirt. She chatted happily with the nurse; her only complaint was that of hunger. The anesthesiologist stopped in, someone I had known for many years through the hospital. She introduced herself to Aitch and said, “You know what? You have your daddy’s eyes.” I didn’t think too much of her observation until later when she was getting our family history, “…even though I know you don’t have her maternal history…” While I knew this woman, I wasn’t friendly enough with her to have ever mentioned Aitch was donor egg in a past conversation. I wondered if a common friend, who did indeed know, had told her.

The CRNA went on to explain quietly what her job would be during the procedure while Aitch seemed to be ignoring her as the stupor of the oral sedative (versed) worked its magic. The plastic syringe brought earlier containing the bright pink medicine frightened her at first as she believed it was a needle. She barely opened her mouth as they dispensed it. I discovered later that she had been paying close enough attention for someone in a drug-induced haze.

Then the performing dentist came in. I told him about the swelling and redness from two days before. He frowned and told me that if that’s the case, the tooth was worse than they had thought and they may have to pull it. With his assurance he would do what they could, I kissed Aitch’s brow good-bye. She weakly reached for me, but her eyes were closed, barely awake.

A sterile, lonely and quiet wait.
A sterile, lonely and quiet wait.

I took a seat in the lobby. For an hour I read my Kindle in solitude. I didn’t start to worry until the 60 minute mark, again thinking about her age and general anesthesia and the complications. The next 30 minutes dragged, the 15 after that were unbearable. In that time, I realized I must have a nervous bladder; I had gone to pee three times. Finally another nurse came to get me and escorted me to the family consulting room. There I waited several more minutes before the doctor came in. Aitch was recovering and they were cleaning her up. Unfortunately, he said, the tooth (upper left) that had been so painful and inflamed, was too decayed to save and was extracted. In fact, the bacteria had spread to the adjacent molar tooth and so a filling was applied.

The right upper first molar was also bad, but he thinks the pulpotomy and a silver crown (porcelain would have been too brittle) was applied. The two lower molars, right and left as well, only had to have fillings. I sent Sparring Partner a quick text with the news and I nearly cried. It must have been the combination of relief, tinged with so much regret (for all the things I had pointed out earlier plus letting a good part of me not believe the pain she had experienced was as bad as it must have been).

Holy Hole-in-a-Tooth, Batman!
Holy Hole-in-a-Tooth, Batman!

A nurse came then and led me to where I could see Aitch, awake and dazed. A couple of nurses were trying to get her to bite on a small wad of gauze to try to control some minor bleeding of the socket. She brushed weakly away their efforts until she noticed the IV in her arm. They attempted again to place the gauze, which was now tinted with saliva and blood. To top things off, a biohazard Ziploc bag was on her lap. In it was the tooth. A nasty-looking black hole from the caries bored nearly to the center; three prongs of roots sprouted from the end. She looked at that, and then she looked at me, and then started to cry.

I stood next to her and brushed the hair from her face and assured her that everything was OK. She calmed down soon enough, but remained fascinated by the gauze in her mouth. The nurse gave us an “elephant’s trunk” emesis bag, which she kept spitting into. However, the nurse observed that she showed signs of possibly being sick so she gave her another round of Zofran through the IV. We were then told that once Aitch was able to drink or eat a little bit of flavored slush, we could go home. I was surprised to discover that she wouldn’t have to worry about any after-affects of novacaine. The nurse mouthed silently to me “it makes kids c-r-a-z-y!” over the gurney.

The rough part: post-anesthesia.
The rough part: post-anesthesia.

She still looked like a crushed flower in the bed, droopy and spent. It was with the announcement that she could pick out a movie to watch until she felt better that she actually brightened a bit. A TV and a media cart were rolled to the foot of her bed and a large binder full of movie title photo-copies was given for us to select from. She finally settled on Sleeping Beauty. The movie was started and a cup of crushed orange ice was handed to her, and she eased back into the pillow and snuggled up with the blanket we had brought from home.

We were the last case of the morning so everything was quiet. She looked more alert and color was starting to come back around. She had also stopped trying to spit out blood and had asked for a refill of ice. The IV was removed at which time the nurse remarked they must have tried at least twice in the OR. About fifteen minutes later we were OKd to go. Aitch was given a ride in a wheelchair to our car and a short drive later, we were home. The first thing she asked for was some food. Not just any food, but a bowl of chili. It seemed an odd first meal request, but soft enough.

Latex allergy?? Unknown.
Latex allergy?? Unknown.

For the rest of the day, she played and acted as if nothing had happened. No aches or fatigue. The tooth was deemed “cool!” and a bargain was made to not give the tooth to the Tooth Fairy and instead I would take her to get the next edition of the My Little Pony comic book. By 7:00 that night, she and Doodicus were outside playing hoops. I was only concerned to see she had a slight reaction to where the staff had placed the adhesive patches from her chest and taped her eyes, but by the next day, the rash was barely visible. At her post-op, the dentist didn’t think it was a latex allergy, but he made a note in her chart.

I wouldn’t have done it any differently. She has had no more pain and only describes the area where the tooth is gone as being “ticklish” when food touches it. Selfishly I was happy to see that unless her head is tilted back and her mouth is wide open that neither the empty socket nor silver crown is noticeable. I now watch her brush to make sure she’s getting to the back, and upon the suggestion of her dentist, I picked up some fluoridated mouth rinse. The total monetary cost was $4400: $2.7k for the surgery center and anesthesiologist; $1.7k for the dentist to prepare three fillings, the pulpotomy, crown and extraction, as well as their “hospital fee” (which I know is an utterly bogus fee).

So as I said, I only decided to update here in case I needed to refer back to it someday. In fact, I was just looking over my Disney World posts from a couple of years ago. We didn’t take a family vacation this year and maybe we’ll go again in February 2015. Three years will have passed by then, and frankly that seems impossible the kids have aged that much since that memorable trip.

…and breathe out

...and breath out
…and breath out

I never would have imagined that at some point I would be able to move beyond the cement shoes of grief and anger, but slowly I’ve noticed I’m floating to the surface. My kids are…kids, I guess, and there’s no denying that babies have left the building. Not to say I don’t think about it, probably more than one should at my age and history. A couple of weeks ago I almost convinced myself that I was pregnant, which would have required the type of miracle that happened two-thousand and thirteen years ago. I bought a package of pregnancy tests even. Before I confirmed the negative results, I told myself I was being incredibly foolish because if by some act of divinity it had happened, any baby would be dead by the time of the first ultrasound, and if not, the nuchal test would tell me it should be.

Cynical much?

Actually I write that without the cynicism of old, because there’s no “hurt” carrying over. I daresay I was relieved that the test was negative. I never even mentioned it to Sparring Partner.

My incentive to write here again isn’t to get back into blogging, nor is it to create some kind of swan song. I thought it was important though to just let the people know who might have stumbled here from some kind of infertility and miscarriage loss, especially if recent, that eventually it really does get a little better. For me, I think it’s the kind of wound that calloused over, much like my melanoma scar. I know it’s there. I see it, but when I touch it, it’s like touching someone else’s skin.

I remember that very singular moment the ultrasound tech told me my baby had no heartbeat like it was yesterday when all I can do is pray I’ll eventually forget. In fact, it still makes my breath catch in recollection. However, I can no longer remember what Aitch smelled like as a newborn even though I buried my nose into her hair a thousand times over telling myself “Don’t ever forget this.”

But I have. I’m OK with that, too. Forgetting both good and bad events from the past years strikes me as being more “normal” than reliving just one or the other. On the other hand, while things are better relatively, they certainly are not perfect, what with SP’s dad gone; my mom’s hastened spiral into dementia; and Doodicus being on the cusp of puberty mixed with teen rebellion and brazen attitude.

I can’t even hazard to guess if I would feel this “OK” if I hadn’t had the successful donor cycle. Without being overly dramatic, I think I wouldn’t be AS much so or that it would have taken longer. Her healthy birth and what seems to be fairly normal development is an added salve to the end of any crappy day I might have. She will also be the one reason the wounds will never fully disappear. She’s the reminder of the hell on earth I walked through for. I couldn’t and wouldn’t have it any other way.

For now, I hope to continue that float up. Not too quickly or too soon as I fear once I break the surface, it shall mean I have died. It’s not too bad here. It’s OK.

November 18 – Ah Eff It

This is the only time I hadn’t been able to make it the 30 days of blog posts. It wasn’t that I was too busy (hello?? unemployed!”) or that I didn’t have anything to write (you can hardly shut me up on Facebook). It’s just that drive wasn’t there and you know what? That’s OK.

Aitch was diagnosed with a yeast infection. By the time the pediatrician examined her that afternoon of her appointment, blisters had formed down there. BLISTERS!! Can you imagine? As for the areas on her face, he doubted that the two pimply looking spots were impetigo, however there was a suspicious area under her nose that might have been, but meh, what’s the point of testing since he’s putting her on an antibiotic for the infection. The pediatrician explained how impetigo manifests when kids rub their runny noses with their sleeves (Aitch had a minor cold about a week before) which then causes the smallest abrasions under her nose, resulting in the infection that can easily spread across the surface of the skin.

I remembered a couple of years back when she had all the mysterious skin rashes that he said that she’s a carrier of latent staph. I asked him if it’s possible that she’s still carrying it. He said she could for the rest of her lift, so yes, any bacterial infection could very well be harboring MRSA. With that being said, he said the spot on her hip was NOT bacterial but indeed did look like a spider bite that was thankfully disappearing and healing very quickly.

He also said that he wasn’t going to test her for that either, since it just becomes a logistical nightmare, which I concur. The antibiotic he prescribed would be the same as if she had MRSA. Other than that, we were given instructions to use an over-the-counter athlete’s foot cream (we opted for the Desenex powder as she said the Lamisil ointment “burned”) and to treat the blisters with an OOC antibiotic  topical. Within three days, all signs and symptoms except for the blisters had vanished. She’s been very good about taking her medicine, which luckily is only twice a day, but I know it can’t taste good.

In a completely unrelated note, today was my first day that I didn’t go to my office. I’ve made excellent headway on converting the catch-all closet in the mudroom to an “office & school” supply closet. It’s been slow-going because as I move schtuff from one nook in the house I realize I’ve created a whole new area to organize. Busy work, busy work.

Speaking of which, I’ve started a private group on Facebook that was inspired by the Annual Holiday Card Exchange. If you want to join the group, which I can’t stress enough is PRIVATE, you can ask through this group address.

Lowering your expectations since 2005.