The big guy, his big heart, his hugs and his wisdom. Walks in the river valley this week before work. Homemade smoothies. A day that wasn't as busy at work so I don't feel used up and worn out tonight. Got my cavity filled yesterday. The needle didn't hurt and it took about five minutes to fill. I can chew again on the left side. My kidney function is better today than it was last week. I have time to repaint the bedroom this weekend. The fall weather has been beautiful. Sunny and cool but not cold and no snow yet. The geraniums are still blooming on the balcony.
I moved in with my boyfriend when I was four months pregnant and I moved back home with my parents when I was eight months pregnant. My boyfriend hadn't come home for three days. He just disappeared and when he came back there was no explanation. Apparently I still had sex with him though and he was kind enough to give me crabs.
I was at work one day and I couldn't stop scratching my crotch. I had to go into the back storage area to scratch. All I could think about was scratching. When I went home that night I used a mirror to look at my crotch, my belly was too big to see over, and I saw something move. I had to phone a friend to find out what was going on. I had never seen crabs. I had never known anyone with crabs. Then I had to go to a drugstore and buy something to kill the crabs. I was too embarrassed to ask for help in the drugstore. I wandered around for a long time until I found what I needed. Or maybe I asked for help, I can't remember. What I do remember is feeling ashamed and dirty.
I ended up just shaving all of my pubic hair off because I couldn't stand the thought of nits or crabs or anything on me. And then I felt naked and ashamed. At that time I had no idea that there were even women who shaved their pubic hair off. I really was small town girl.
I had a weekly doctor's appointment by that point in my pregnancy and when the doctor did the pelvic exam I was terrified he would say something about my shaved groin. He never did.
And my boyfriend remained my boyfriend. Why I don't know. To make my parents happy? To make his parents happy? Because I believed I could make this work? Because I wanted so desperately to have a family, a home, a husband? Did I only want to play house?
About two week or three weeks before my son was born my boyfriend called early one Saturday morning and the first words he said were, "Don't hang up! This is my only phone call." He wanted three hundred dollars for bail. I can't remember why he was in jail. Fighting? Unpaid speeding tickets? Who knows. Whatever he would have told me would have been a lie. I did have the presence of mind to tell him no and then hung up on him.
When I look back at my younger self I see a selfish, single minded young woman. I had no idea what having a child entailed. I didn't know how hard it would be, how endless it would be, how it would require me to put my child first and myself second. I didn't know how isolated and alone I would feel. It was only about me, not my child. I can see that now and it saddens me. I had nothing to give a child. I had never received unconditional love, never felt accepted by my parents, never given much attention or affection. How could I possible be ready to parent a child? But I didn't know any of this until many years later.
A walk in the river valley. Sunshine. Dog love. Meals made for Katie sitting in the freezer. A good sleep last night. Time to walk and cook. Homemade tomato red pepper soup. Get to see my granddaughter tomorrow. Katie's starts special Olympics bowling tomorrow morning. Not dizzy anymore.
When I rolled over to get out of bed this morning the whole world started spinning. I have vertigo, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, which means it comes and goes and it isn't going to kill me, unless I fall down the stairs. Sometimes it's mild, sometimes it's stomach turning. This morning I walked out to the kitchen like a toddler, unsure of my footing. I sat down and my stomach started churning. I tried the Epley Maneuver, three times and the vertigo improved only slightly. Finally I gave up and lay down.
The big guy went to work without me and I dreamed of a very nice doctor who came and helped me with my vertigo. He was an older man, so kind and tender it was lovely. I felt so safe, the kind of safe you feel when you're a kid and your mum can still give you that feeling. I'm still a little dizzy but I can walk now without hanging onto walls which is nice.
I went to see my doctor the other day to try and figure out why I'm so tired all the time. We talked about life, work, stress, exercise. She's a lovely woman who actually listens and doesn't rush you. She suggested I figure out a way to work less and told me to relax more. I don't relax. I do. I go. I always have a list of things that that need to be done. The big guy laughs at me because of my lists. Maybe I need to let go of my lists.
For so many years I took care of Katie. Then I took care of my mum. Now I'm taking care of my patients. I'm not good at taking care of myself. So today my poor body made me lie down, slowed me down. Time to find a better balance for myself.
I got pregnant with my son when I was twenty years old, far too young and immature to be responsible for another human being. I remember dancing in a bar one night with some guy, thinking, "When was my last period?" and I couldn't answer that question. That summer I was filling my time before I started college in Edmonton by working as a nanny for a sweet little girl. I had been accepted into a lab tech program and I was looking forward to moving to the big city; I was also terrified at the thought of living in a new city where I didn't know anybody.
But that night as I danced and drank that missing period kept thrusting itself to the front of my brain. I must have made a doctor's appointment at sometime but I can't remember. I do remember the doctor being as surprised as me that I was pregnant. It was my secret. I went through with moving to Edmonton, knowing I would be pregnant and alone in a strange city. I wanted so badly to believe that I could have this baby and go to school. That I could just take a day off and have the baby. That life would continue on. Real mature. My mum figured out I was pregnant the day I moved. I can't even remember her reaction. I remember the apartment but not what she said to me.
The morning I was supposed to start school, I drove all the way back home to my small town, crying all the way. I think I phoned the program and withdrew. Student loans were returned. I packed up the apartment that I had moved into and moved back home with my parents.
My mum insisted that I get an abortion. There was no other option in her mind. Adoption was not an option, nor was me having the baby by myself or marrying the father of my child. She made an appointment for me to see the doctor and I was approved to have an abortion. The morning that I was scheduled to have my abortion, I picked up my boyfriend and we drove to the hospital. I couldn't do it though. I couldn't stop at the hospital, couldn't have an abortion. I do remember saying to my boyfriend, "You have to understand that we may not spend the rest of our lives together. Just because I'm having this baby doesn't mean that we will get married." He said he got it.
So I had to go home and tell my mum that I didn't have an abortion. And then she told my dad that I was pregnant and then I got kicked out of the house and stayed with a family friend for a week. My dad cooled off and I was able to go back home. Nobody was happy that I was pregnant. Nobody was excited. There were no congratulations. It was all bad. I was twenty, single and pregnant.
I would not marry my boyfriend. My best friend thought I should, something which shocked me more than finding out I was pregnant. My sister got mad and took it out on my mother which I still don't get. I became the black sheep of the family. My mother was worried what the neighbors would think. Worried what her friends would think. None of them cared.
And so began my first pregnancy. Anger, shame, disappointment. I wish I could have been there for my young self, to have told her it would be okay. That she would make it through this. That babies are nothing to be ashamed of, that they are a blessing in this world. I wish I had felt loved at this time of my life. I remember crying a lot. I'm still crying for that young woman.
I'm stiff and sore today. Yesterday there was a Code Blue in the parkade and we're the closest department to the parkade. I ran faster than I knew I could. The man was at the far end of the parkade and thankfully he was only dizzy and fell down, not dead. My boss was the third person to arrive. He asked how I got there so fast and I thought, but this is my job. This is what I do. I care about my patients. They mean something to me. I remember their names. I remember their tattoos. I remember their faces. This is what I do.
Two days ago we had a woman come in by transport from a small town. She was in horrific pain and vomiting. We got her pain and vomiting under control and she had her MRI. She has leptomeningeal disease; it's a rare complication of cancer in which the cancer spreads to the meninges of the brain. I've only seen it once before but it is memorable, the symptoms, how the patient presents. It's also terminal. I sat in the control room while she had her MRI, watching the O2 sat monitor. The tech showed me the tumor in her brain, the leptomeningeal disease, the part of her skull that had been eaten through by the tumor and I wept. My poor lady is dying much more quickly than her family and friends realized. Her husband is trying to get his crops in before the snow hits. My lady was admitted and then came down again yesterday for an emergency central line insertion. I stayed late to help. It won't make a difference but both my lady and her family need some hope. They can't let go yet. I can understand that. Acceptance comes at different times and in different forms for everyone. She's four years younger than me.
After work last night we visited our granddaughter. It was her birthday yesterday. Babies are good for the heart. Baby hugs. Baby laughter. My stepdaughter has a dog as well so I also get dog love when I go there which is almost as good as baby love. We came home and fell into bed. My god I'm tired lately.
My middle daughter is coming for Thanksgiving next weekend, just for a night or two, depends on school and work. I miss her still. It's been four years since she moved out to Vancouver. Our relationship is much better now. She's almost twenty-five and it seems she has let go of her anger towards to me. Looking back I understand now that she was angry at me for leaving her father, although I didn't understand that at the time. She was seventeen when I left him and I was only thinking of myself and my own survival. I imagine she thought I was selfish, ripping our family apart. She lives with her dad now and has a much better understanding of the reasons I left. I'm looking forward to her visit. I'm hoping we'll have time alone, just the two of us.
My son will be coming too for dinner. We haven't talked much since July when he got very angry with me for calling him on his lies. He did apologize but I still don't trust him. His lies now tend towards lies of omission. I'm tired of lies. Tired of pretend. I love him but I don't trust him which is a hard thing to admit about one of your children and an even harder thing to hold in your heart. Love means trust in my mind but apparently not. I don't think he understands this and wonder if he ever will.
The weather has cooled here. It truly feels like fall. Two days ago I walked in the river valley, admiring the fall colors, the yellow of the poplar leaves standing out so beautifully against the blue, blue sky. And then last night the wind came up and the temperatures dropped and most of the tress now stand naked, ready for winter and their long sleep.
And me? I don't know. I'm older and wiser, a little. I keep my mouth closed more than I used to and listen more. I still feel so deeply the pain of others that it wrecks me some days. I'm still trying to understand suffering, still trying to accept suffering I guess.