Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Normal?


I think this was the one.

Tonight, Jimmy and I were looking through our honeymoon photos.  This was after he mentioned seeing someone on TV at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans having cafe au lait and beignets, ya know, with the Super Bowl there and all.

We did that. It was familiar. A memory. A happy time. 

I started looking at photos from then and went over by him so we could reminisce together.

Usually I'm the one who gets emotionally triggered by old photos, memories and stories. That wasn't the case tonight.

Jimmy was fine looking at pictures until this one (above) came up.

He said he looked so normal and care free.  He admitted it made him sad and he got a little upset. He said he didn't feel normal anymore.

Cue: heart being ripped out.

I'm happy he talked with me about it because I feel like that's something he could easily clam up with.

I thought about telling him what everyone tells me... it's a new normal.  I'm not sure if that's comforting though. We could say it all we want and it sure does sound good, but Jimmy and I know.

We both know what normal means for us and we ain't got it anymore. I think dealing with that and adjusting to the realization is where we are now.   

Sometimes we burrow our way through this new life. Pushing so hard through each day -- we're just trying to do it.

It can be jarring to be confronted with an image from the past when you have your mind set so hard looking ahead to the future. You feel you're okay. And then? Ton. Of. Bricks.

You never know when it's all going to come flooding back and when those gates will open.

I've been there, my darling James. I know it allllll too well.

I often get haunted by the ghosts of our past. It may sound awful to think of a happier, more carefree time as haunting. But it's as honest as I can be.

Memories can hurt. Still.

I saw that with Jimmy tonight.  He was feeling pain.  Luckily, I was having a strong moment. (It's not days... it's moments.)

I was able to be strong this time and tell him how he's still the same to me, and that's why I'm still here doing this thang.

I acknowledged that he has more challenges and has limited mobility, but he's still him.  If everyone in the world closed their eyes they wouldn't know any different.

Hearing him say he doesn't feel normal breaks my heart. That's a tough one to swallow, my dears.

But I gave it my best shot, kissed him a bunch and sent him off to his room so his caretakers could get him settled before his season finale of Moonshiners came on.

He sure was happy about that. 

Happy is Jimmy.

Happy is normal.

Wednesday Wisdom: Strong


Monday, January 28, 2013

Correspondence

"Or don't you like to write letters. I do because it's such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you've done something."
~Ernest Hemingway

Picking the perfect note card
What color pen to use?
Figuring out what to write
Print or scripty?
Looking up an address
Pressing the return address stamp
And adding postage
Feels so... Downton Abbey, doesn't it?

I will not let the art of correspondence be lost on me.

Imagining the exact moment when the letter reaches it destination... I love sending letters!

I found a really good Groupon for a local paper store and was able to score these cute note cards for not much at all.

These little things absolutely light up my life.

The bird note card is pretty rad, right?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Spasm Screams

I can't get to sleep
I think about the implications
Of diving in too deep
And possibly the complications
Especially at night
I worry over situations
I know we'll be alright
Perhaps it's just imagination...
Day after day it reappears
Night after night my heartbeat shows the fear
Ghosts appear and fade away
Come back another day..
-- Colin Hay, Overkill

I started this day by hearing Jimmy talking with his nurse.

I heard  his voice escalate and then I heard him tell her "not to get mad." I was about to intervene, as I normally do but wanted to let him handle it.

He could handle it.

If he needed me he could call me. We have a system for how he can do that.

I had a tough time going back to sleep but tried. I finally dozed back off and woke up a few minutes late to waking Jimmy up.

Luckily, I set my coffee maker the night before.

I went into Jimmy's room and he started telling me about what I learned was one of his scariest moments yet.

He told me he had a spasm so bad his entire body cramped up.  He said the spasm literally knocked the breath out of him. He panicked and said his eyes rolled back -- he thinks he blacked out if only for a second.

He actually said the words Near Death Experience. He said it was one of the scariest things he's ever experienced.

Jimmy has "spasm screams" in the middle of the night. It happens a lot. The volume of his scream varies, but a spasm will rip him from his sleep. I think it travels up into his chest and scares the shit out of him (and me).

He doesn't recall screaming, though. I'm sure if he sees me in his room he knows what happened.

This morning's incident could have just been the largest, scariest version of that.

While I held my warm coffee cup standing next to Jimmy's bed, I listened to him describe what happened. He said he thought he was gonna die.

He didn't. He's okay. He barely could open his eyes after all this, but still breathing his way through the day as a living being.

Thing is, this injury can throw things at you -- and you don't even know when, you don't even know what. You have to be on defense at all times.

If you're ever around us, it may sicken you how much I ask if he's okay. There are things to look for in his face and his behavior that could signal certain things happen.

I'm a self-proclaimed Mama Bear.

After a few scary experiences, I've learned just a little but I still get very scared sometimes that Jimmy's not going to be okay.

Most days I feel he will be, but sometimes the fear is difficult to overcome.

Today I was a little rattled. Aint gonna lie.

I spent a lot of the day hugging and just watching him.  The worry-gene was in full effect.

Husband needs a spasm scream-free night, though.

Wishing that for him.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Jimmy and Lucy

This is Jimmy and Lucy Loo, a dear friend's doggie daughter. She was trying to give him doggie-breath kisses, of course.

Lucy got on Jimmy's lap ever so gently, as if she knew to be careful.

Ahh man. This means we're gonna have to get a dog one day, doesn't it?

Gosh Dernit.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Oat-Rolled French Toast

Heaven on Earth.
It's this.
Believe me when I tell you.

This morning before breakfast, I stumbled upon a little article about how to incorporate more oats into your meals. 

It's another rainy morning in Atlanta, as in a lot of places, and it had me wanting something different. Comfort food. Something different than my two eggs and turkey sausage. Maybe something sweet.

Pancakes? Waffles? Mmmm... French Toast? But I didn't want to break the diet-bank for the whole day so I was looking for a healthy spin on it.

Here's what I did:

*Warmed a bit of Smart Balance butter and a little olive olice on the stove
*Took two pieces (Only two. Restraint. Could easily have eaten more... ) of Nature's Own Double Fiber bread
*Made my egg mixture -- Two eggs, skim milk, a dash of vanilla extract, cinnamon and nutmeg.
*I put one packet of instant oatmeal into a separate bowl
*After the pan was nice and hot, I rolled my bread in eggs then in the oats
*I let it cook until the oats became brown and crispy
*I sliced up a banana to top
*Cooked two pieces of turkey sausage for extra protein
*Topped toast and sausage with a little real maple syrup

OH MY GOD.

I didn't sleep well but this made my day.  Wonderful warmth for a soul on this rainy, chilly day.



Life is Art

Saw this online last night.

A good way to look at the little moments that make up life...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Normal Kitchen Hug

There I was making guacamole in my kitchen tonight when I had the urge to hug Jimmy really hard and ask him how he's been feeling.

Has he been happy? Sad? Feeling good? Bad?

I get caught up in his physical well-being only.

I was pleased with his response. He's been sleeping well lately which in turns makes our days much better in general.

I stood on my tip-toes (calves working hard) and leaned over him. The extra inch from popping up on my toes allowed me to give him a face-to-face, both arms around his body, head in his nook kind of hug.

I know this sounds stupid that I'm even writing about it but it felt so... normal.

I've done side hugs. This one is tricker because I had to balance over his legs and be careful of his trach. If he had a leg spasm at that moment I'd be sure to get kneed in the crouch. I was willing to risk it.

Anyways -- it was fully on lovey dovey and quite sweet. Just a moment I wanted to share.

A normal kitchen hug.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Quiet Monday

It's nearly 12:30pm in the afternoon.

Jimmy is still in bed.

He's had his morning routine -- meds, bath, range of motion. But when he was "getting ready" this morning I heard something I don't normally hear while a nurse and a CNA are in there with him.

The sound of him sleeping through it.

Jimmy has a lot of tired days.

But then he has the days where he can barely stay awake for breakfast. Days where he's so tired his vent alarm keeps going off -- while he's awake -- because his volumes are so low. That means his breaths are weak because his body is extremely tired.

His body gets completely wore out from time to time.

Jimmy gets out of bed everyday. That's why on these days it feels okay for us to decide that he should stay in bed until he feels rested again -- may it be 2 or 4 o'clock or whenever.

As I type this, I can hear his inhales and exhales of sleep and that provides relief for my soul.

I set up shop for the nurse in our hallway. Put a little lamp on our hall table. Throughout the day, she'd normally sit in Jimmy's room while we would be in our living room. In the early morning while Jimmy sleeps, the nurse is in our living room.

Today, while Jimmy slept, I wanted my living room to myself. Maybe to watch a movie. Although today, with all the rain, feels more like a reading kind of day.

Our new hard-surface flooring makes it more difficult to be quiet while walking.

Creeeeek. Creeeeeek. Also a good reminder I need to get to the gym.

We've had some practice at being quiet.

I can hear every car driving by swishing through the rain puddles and suddenly the refrigerator kicks on and it sounds like a construction site.

I hear the nurse fiddling with something -- gum or a notebook -- and we're reminded again, we're not alone.

The sun is trying to make it's way through our blinds, just a little. The rooms that were dark all morning are starting to lighten up.

A good reminder that I need to get this day started.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Nurse Goody Bags

I finally got around to getting gifts together for our nurses.

I'm calling it a belated Christmas/Happy New Year goody bag.

Our nurses work 12-hour shifts. They snack a lot. So, after racking my brain on what to get our five caretakers, I settled on an uber-snack bag.

It was fun. Felt like I was packing little lunches. Sugary, high-calorie, obesity-ridden lunches.

Enjoy, nurses. Enjoy.



Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Reminder

A daily reminder of forgiveness....


... and not be bothered by things I most certainly should -- let go.   

I have a lot of resolutions floating around in my head.

So, forgiving...
Not getting so bothered.
Not exerting so much energy into silly scenarios that I create in my head that probably don't exist.
Live well. Become more fit, eat cleaner.
I wouldn't mind to learn how to sew, play piano, and/or paint.
Spend less.
Continue helping Jimmy to obtain a full, normal life.
Make an effort to list, look at and realize all the awesome things I have in my life.   

That's probably enough, right?

I will say it's probs a whole lot easier to sew versus letting things go and not getting bothered. I am Italian, after all. I come from a very passionate family. I'm built strong and stubborn. This will prove one of my more difficult resolutions.

My therapist has tried to help me with this.  She tries to get me to look at alternatives in certain situations.

Like, I'll say (fake scenario): "I friggin' hate the sky. It's so stupid and blue and it makes me so upset."

Therapist: "Maybe the sky didn't really mean to upset you. Maybe the sky is a shade of blue you can learn to like. Maybe you still can learn to be happy even though the sky is doing it's own thing that you don't like."

GD. Sometimes I hate her optimism.

But I get it.

Another approach. 

That's what I feel like we're doing in our new life. Taking another approach. I guess that's what we have to do when we're so blatantly told the first way is apparently not the way.

We were given a new set of circumstances and told NOPE. Try, try... try again.

Another approach. 

Try again.  


Monday, January 7, 2013

M is For...


M is for Monday.

M is for Momentum.

M is for Movement.

M is for Morale.

M is for Modify.

M is for Mission.

M is for Mankind.

M is for Mind.

M is for Magic.

M is for More.

M is for Moore.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

2012 Gratitude Journal: It's a Wrap

Last year for Christmas, I received a hand-made gratitude journal from my friend Amy.

It's all done.

Very funny to read back at just a few of the things I was grateful for.

Like, in September -- I got my carpets and tiles cleaned. Yes, I wrote that down.

July -- The Flying Tire was launched!

December -- Allergist! This was huge.

June -- The waitress spilled wine on our table at our one year anniversary. We laughed. We're able to laugh heavily at things like that.

May -- I wrote nothing. Whoops.

August -- First time we were able to get Jimmy over our friends house. (They moved into an apartment with an elevator.)

January -- First movie, post-injury. A Tom Cruise flick.

February -- We went to a Super Bowl party.

September -- I wrote, "Getting skinnier, maybe?"

November -- Mountain trip.

It was such a good gift. I loved keeping up with it all year.

On to gratitude for the new year.



Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year, New Hair

Good hair. Crappy mood.

I spent FIVE hours getting my hair did. FIVE.

It guess it was my fault. I made the decision to go to an institute instead of a salon. Meaning a student does it and an instructor fixes it, but you still get the real good color.

It's cheap, and you may even get what you want -- but is it worth it?

I was in the shampoo bowl three times
Blown dry two times
Hair touched by at least four people
Had two cups of tea
An orange seltzer water
Peed twice
Two snacks from the vending machine
FIVE HOURS.

I was there long enough to learn the names of several instructors and even long enough to hear some students talking smack about said instructors.

Poor Jimmy was starving when I got home. I had promised him a ham. He got a frozen dinner warmed up instead.

My head hurts real bad. But at least I'm pleased with the hair on it.

New color for the start of a new year.

Date Night

Jimmy and I had an impromptu date night this past weekend. It was so simple, so fun and has me wondering why we don't do this more often.

Jimmy took it upon himself to pick our table, a high-top. He elevated his chair so we were the same height.

It's hard to explain why this felt so perfectly normal, but it did. Usually at a normal-sized table, he's much higher than I -- making it difficult for me to feed him.

This table made it easy. I'm sure it helped him feel like the others sitting there, as well.

It was a new restaurant, so not packed. Not busy restaurants are better for us in our situation. Not only is the service good, but Jimmy had all the room in the world to get around.

A fun, romantic night.

Free dessert doesn't hurt, either.



Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Let There Be Power

There's probably a lot about Jimmy's past that I don't know. There's a lot I don't ask about. I mean, if there's something I really, really want to know about I'll ask.  I may not get an answer, but I ask.

There's something I am sure of.

I know James Walter was always the good man he still is today.

Here's how.

I am continuously amazed by the people -- old schoolmates, old teachers, old childhood friends, simple acquaintances -- that pop up in his post-injury life wanting to help him. Anyway they can.

These are people I have never met or only met a handful of times.

Random acts of kindness.  People that want nothing in return.

It's reaffirms to me why I married Jimmy.

Let me tell you about what happened on Christmas Eve.

A few days before, I had gotten some angst out by writing about our hellacious drive to Myrtle Beach.  

Some of Jimmy's friends from Morganton who now live in Myrtle Beach had gotten a hold of the blog.

We got a message from Deana: "Call Shawn. He's an electrician and wants to install an inverter in your van so you don't have to go out looking for power for Jimmy."

Oh my gosh.

We've tried to power this piece of equiment before. It's a ferocious power-eater. I wasn't able to do it even with a marine battery.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve.

They had parts, pieces and such overnighted to make this happen. Like, this was actually going happen?!

These fine people took three plus hours out of their day -- ON CHRISTMAS EVE -- to come install power in our van. Did I mention it was friggin' cold?

Jimmy with Shawn and Deana

In the parking lot of our hotel, Shawn, with his handy assistant Deana, troubleshooted not only until it worked, but until they tested it and and it was all nice and neat. That's important.

Let me tell you, after an agonizing six hour drive to the beach stopping a whole lot to find outlets that didn't work (!!!!), the ride home was heaven.  Heaven, in the sense that we didn't have to stop to suction Jimmy. We could do it while in transit. If we did it while stopping for gas, we were self-contained.

Heaven I tell you.

Their goal was to help us and make our lives easier. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

We're grateful beyond the stars.

Jimmy has some great friends.  I'm comforted in knowing this about his past. Our present is proof of the type of person he was... and still is.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

IKEA Trip

Maybe I don't hate IKEA as much as I have claimed in the past. I ventured to the massive Swedish wonderland today with two friends.

It wasn't horrible.

I started the trip with one single cinnamon roll. In years past, it would have been a six pack. Not in 2013 (resolution -- food moderation). One Zebra Cake instead of 3. One breadstick instead of 4.

The early cinnamon roll was a good move. It probably de-grumpified me so I could make it through the maze.

While Jimmy and I were gone for the holidays, the folks running our apartment complex agreed to put in hard-surface floors. The property manager came in personally to see the damage Jimmy's chair was doing not to mention the stains via our nurses. I guess there's a reason hospitals aren't carpeted.

The faux hardwood floors are so much better for Jimmy's chair. It's so much easier for him to get around. It's easier to clean. It feels much more sanitary with so many nurses coming in and out. Jimmy said they need to wear the disposable shoe covers, you know, the ones surgeons wear.

Ha. Nurse booties. We could have a dispenser at the front door as they come in.

Anyways, I made a mental note to look for some rugs for the new floor. Since I was going to IKEA with friends I could look.  Jimmy gave me the thumbs up (resolution -- financial communication) to do so.

I did good.

I got a nice size rug for the living room ($50) -- it's reversible with another design on back -- and one for the hallway going down to Jimmy's room ($24). 

I also got a cool hanger ($7.99) for all my scarves (I got 5 this Christmas alone) and a cute little green spatula ($.99). I got out of IKEA in under $100, which is more than most people in those check-out lines could say.