Friday, December 28, 2012

Looking ahead

So 2013 is around the corner and all the anticipation a new year brings.  I am reluctant to make any NY resolutions yet, as someone who is goal driven and a planner, I need to try are chart a rough course.

I hate feeling somewhat jaded but after this year and going from that crazy hysterical excitement and anticipation to rock bottom I cannot quite throw myself in my usual hope junkie abandon at the year ahead.   Its like a bad break up.  I am just not ready for a new boyfriend quite yet.   So what have I got planned for 2013:

Social Work Studies: Well I do 8 subjects at UNISA, 4 are semester and 4 are year subjects which means I only write 4 exams per half year.   Now that I kicked butt this year I do feel a little pressure to continue to do well.    Also, I would like to try do my degree in 5 years instead of 6 but that means the last year doing 9 year subjects which would be HECTIC.     Rebeka would be starting her 1st year of high school and Sofie in grade 6.   Daniel would be 2nd year varsity, God willing!    But hey, I am running way too far ahead.

Exercise:   Well I had grand plans to start bootcamp on the 7th of January but my beloved pilates teacher has begged me to reconsider.  She says with my back and spine pathology it would not be a great idea.  I am bummed as I was looking forward to the social aspect and the competition which would drive me to achieve more fitness goals.  I cannot run or do a single push up.   Seriously wussy!  I guess I will have to stick to my walking which I do love and try and go down to the gym to do more swimming sessions.   As for my pilates.  I just cant.   I hate it.  Cornell my teacher, her I love.  The actual boring pilates, not so much.  I know it would help my back.  I have bought every piece of pilates equipment yet I do nothing at home.  I annoy myself.  Me = Arsehole!  Maybe I will do a beginners class at the gym but probably not.  Hopefully I can still get down to the court to play tennis once a week which is my all time fave.  

Agatha.  She is fine.   The therapy helped this year and I think I have her squeezed into a jar.   She waves at me sometimes but is mostly harmless and contained behind the glass.  In fact I have moments of affection when I even call her Aggie and I am grateful for the upside of anxiety.  The energy and ability to do more, achieve more and enjoy the feeling of being driven and a little rushy.  I f I can keep my tools for managing her and incorporate my therapy then I am hoping I can handle her for the rest of my long life.  Taking that anti-anxiety this year has potentially screwed up my life for ever and I heard from another doc this week that the oral dystonia is most likely irreversible.   But back to my tools so you can use them too:   Having a diary where all appointments are written down.  Working out my exact daily timetable for my studies for the next 6 months.  Having the kids schedules all typed up and visible.  Re packing sports bags as soon as they come home and having them hung up ready to go.   Filling out reply slips immediately and putting them back in their bags.   Buying and labeling all the stationary for next year including spares for the year.  (Have to take advantage of the specials!)   Making the hair appointments, vet appointments for early next year.  Making sure I have stuff for school lunch and freezing half their juice the night before.   Flip, I sound a little OC don't I?   I have to cut out as much stress as possible and make sure my cortisol levels stay reasonable.    Knowing I can never take an anti-dep is both a blessing and a curse.   I have to manage this unwanted genetic curse and I finally feel I am winning.

Finding a Doc.   I am still on Rivotril for my oral dystonia.  Its physically and psychologically addictive yet it does help my mouth.  The prob is half a tab morning and night did the trick.  Then it wore off and a full tab did the same.  Now its worn off again and I am going to see my neuro in the new year to see if I can up my dose again or what I need to take.   Somewhere out there I will find some doc who will teach me to manage this.   I must say having an drink does help and I am still wandering about the medical marijuana but I will wait to find out more.  Of course having it just go away would be frikkin' marvelously ridiculously awesome but I fear that becomes less likely as time goes by.

Travel:    Yippeeyahoo!   The best and most favorite part of my year.  As you know I go to Singapore, Cambodia and Bangkok in April to see my sister and her friend Vivienne.   2 weeks of my fave food, hippy cheap clothes from crazy markets, ancient beautiful temples, amazing beauty and the slickness of Sing.  Plus the bond with my sister and her family.  Then, if all happens according to hopes and plans, I go to Skiathos in Greece on the 3rd of August with Gary to re do our wedding vows.   The 1st of Feb is my actual 10 year anniversary but Skiathos is where I fell in love exactly 12 years earlier when we arrived on that date.  I always said we would go to Small Assilinos, our favorite little beach and repeat our vows when we hit the 10 year mark.  I know its a little corny but you know I am a romantic and it would be so special to stand on that beach and repeat our love and commitment to each other. 

So that's my year.   Studying, traveling, exercising, mothering, wife-ing and seeking.  2012 my word was ABUNDANCE.  For 2013 Jesus has given me 2 little words, JUST LOVE.   I will have to do a separate little post to explain.   Tomorrow, right now its snuggle time with my girls and then bed time.  I must say writing this has definitely given me a more positive vibe towards 2013.   I think the Hope Junkie is being revived!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas, Happy Xmas!

I LOVE Christmas.     As someone who is sentimental, loves family, loves yum food and loves giving and receiving gifts, Christmas is my fave holiday.   Loving Jesus and being so grateful for all He brings means the meaning of Christmas makes it that much more special.

Celebrating Christmas and how you do it is a personal choice with endless varieties.    The thing with choice is, it brings about that nasty little cousin of self–righteousness and judgeyness.   (My blog, new word!)    People believe their choice is THE choice, THE way.    Unfortunately some clappers are often guilty of this although with good intentions.

People have issues with tree or no tree.  With the commercialism of gifts.   Of the actual date as it’s not officially His birthday.  They have issues with non believers celebrating the day, issues with non church goers going to church on Christmas.    They have issues with telling kids about Father Christmas and the fact that it’s a lie.     I tend to think of Jesus Himself and how He would view the day.    I cannot imagine He wouldn’t enjoy having people get together with family and friends to share a meal.   With people exchanging gifts and blessing each other.    With hearts softened and good deeds often done around this time of year.    Reconciliation of people previously separated.  With excited children waiting for this magical guy on his sleigh with flying reindeer bringing their present down a chimney to leave under a tree full of sparkly pretty things and flashing lights.  It’s all good and fun and family and wonderful.

Let’s not pick it apart so but just enjoy it and allow others to do the same.    Jesus loves everyone and knows everyone so has to get a little kick out of people who don’t know Him that celebrate His birthday anyway.   He must enjoy having them visit the church for their annual service.    I wish you all a wonderful Christmas filled with the essence of Christ Himself which is love and peace and grace and new beginnings.   For my special friends who have to go through Christmas without people they love who are no longer with them, my heart goes out to you and I know it’s a bittersweet time for you.  I hope time will eventually heal the harsh grief and you will be able to have joy and peace amidst the sadness.

PS.  My 8 year old well traveled Sofie reckons Father Christmas has a team of helpers as covering the time zones around the world causes logistical problems.     She is SO excited to finally eat that very last chocolate!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Reflection time for 2012

I have just popped over to my old blog and read my summery of 2011.    You can go check it out here:
I am reminded every year has its blessings and challenges.    My word from Him for 2012 was ABUNDANCE as you know.     Really God?    It seems I didn’t quite understand you.  I was convinced 2012 was a year of victory for me.  I would master my back pain and would be pain free.  I would beat my anxiety and Agatha would be long gone.  I would claim all your promises for myself and I would live this amazing year just kicking butt in the battle known as life.

Mmmmh.  Oh, you meant an abundance of TOUGH times.  Growth times.  Right, silly optimistic me.    So let’s think about 2012 which in some ways have been the longest of my life.
January.    All is still well although we stay stricken with sadness at the loss of Aidan on the 26th of November and then Cara on the 19th of December.  I start my Social Work degree but I am overwhelmed by UNISA and trying to figure out how to study.  I do a totally unrealistic study timetable and struggle to get going.   Sofie starts grade 2 and settles in better.  Rebeka falls in love with her teacher and Miss Liezel is now queen of the universe and knows EVERYTHING.  Daniel starts grade 10 and has a cool bunch of guy friends hanging around.  They all have bikes, he doesn’t and life is very unfair.

February.   Gary resigns.   Agatha loves uncertainty and she jumps on my back.  Gary is so much .braver than me and is prepared to take chances while I stay more careful when it comes to work and money.  He is a true entrepreneur.   He has grand plans to start his own business but goes for a few interviews .

March.    An amazing opportunity comes from one of the companies and they literally beg him to work for them.   After a short time of him checking things out and consulting in SA, Brazil, Dubai, Singapore and Vegas, they offer him a job.  In Singapore!   It’s back and forth negotiations that drive me crazy.  I just need to know.  One evening he sits in Dubai and I sit in SA and on skype we decide, let’s do this thing!    Let’s pack up our home and our kids and our dog and move to Singapore.   My travel bug is hysterical with excitement and we begin the very long process of relocating an entire family to a foreign country.  He spends some time there and they just want him ASAP.   June I say, that’s the soonest so the kids can finish the term and I can finish my exams.  
April:  we go over for a look see and do the major house hunt and get them booked into a school.   The fact that my sister lives there makes the relocation that much more awesome.     I am so excited that a part of me is terrified it doesn’t happen.  The whole family is and we would be screwed if it didn’t.    We spend days looking at houses, measuring and picturing where our furniture would go.   We interview a helper, I look at grocery stores and imagine the cool stuff I will buy.  We look at 3 schools too and we eventually settle on the Australian International School and spend big bucks getting them on the list.  The school is awesome and I cannot wait for the kids to see.  Daniel starts making FB friends at the school already.   They get accepted the following month.

May:  I get home and spend hours on my to-do list as well as studying for my exams.    The check list is long but we make progress daily.    Finding a home for Zara was huge and getting Lucy’s papers and shots for her kennel there was a bonus too.    We have a Sing bank account and cell phone contract.  I resign from my job and start clearing out.  Elliot gives us a moving quote which we accept.    I work on getting jobs for my domestic worker and gardener.   The new tenant is really nice and we chat about paint samples.  I am sad my girls will lose their gorgeous murals in their rooms.

June:   Our calendar date is getting closer and we tick off each day.  I have one small farewell but our main farewell is scheduled for 22nd June as we fly the 26th.   The weather is grim and we hate being cold but we know it’s not long now!  Nina and I skype every day.   We are just so READY to go!
One Friday evening Gary calls me into his study and tells me he has bad news.  It’s off.  We not going.  My face goes hot and my heart races and I think No, No, NO.   NOT.  This is not happening.    The whole weekend is spent frantically mailing and calling Germany and Singapore.    They ignore us, we are done, they have decided no.   They apologise for the inconvenience.   I am F*cked.   Totally and utterly gutted.  Eventually we tell the kids and Rebeka just wails and cries and says no, no, no like her mom.    I can’t take it, I want to die, she says.     To get them emotionally ready for the move took everything and they were finally excited and ready.    

Fight or Flight?    Do we fight them?  He has a 80 page contract which they had forgotten was signed.  Fighting would mean a Singaporean lawyer and court appearances there.    We can’t, we are just too wasted.   We insist they give us the air tickets they had bought and pay us back for the Australian School.    We change the ticket date to a week earlier and on the 19th of June we fly to Singapore for a holiday.
It’s bittersweet.  Thailand is awesome of course but being in Sing in hard.  They love it.   I love seeing my sister and her husband and War-War and I love seeing the cousins interact.  Gary’s BF Russell lives in Sing too and our whole family adore him.    We do the zoo, the bird park, shopping, ride the MRT, visit Sentosa.  We eat strange and interesting food  and love the heat after freezing our butts off back home.    Eventually after 17 amazing days we go home to reality.
July.   I see my new psychologist.  She’s awesome and I have a girl crush on her immediately.   She sends me to a psychiatrist as my serotonin is so depleted and my cortisol so high I am paralysed.   I don’t like the psych, she’s hard and pretty scary.    My back pain continues and she gives me an anti-anxiety called Cymgen (Cymbalta) for the back pain and for my Agatha.  The rest you know.  Day 14 I get Tardive Dyskenesia which later settles into an oral dystonia.   I hope and wait and pray for it to go but it stays despite quitting the meds.  The kids struggle, they don’t want to be here either.  Daniel is depressed, his grades drop badly.  Gary is just focused on trying to get a job and provide.  Poor guy, seeing us all so disappointed.

August, September, October.     I stumble on and slowly but surely accept my old reality is now my new reality again.    I allow myself to feel and process.   I see the kids improving which helps me.    Daniel finally wins the girl he has been crazy about all year, falling in love makes Singapore a distant memory.  I continue to struggle with my mouth and the painful tongue spasms and the brain scan reveals a large cyst.    I am hoping it’s the cause and the word irreversible will not apply to me.  Please.   Gary joins some guys and starts a company.  They get funding and spend months negotiating.  It’s exciting  but I am afraid to get hopeful again.

November.  I decide to have the brain op after I finish writing exams.  My studies ironically were my saving grace this year although I only did 6 subjects.     I get 5 distinctions out of 6 subjects and I am well chuffed.    In a year where nothing went as planned doing so well at one single thing was a huge blessing.   My little portion of abundance at last!!    I underestimate the op.   I land up having a craniotomy as well and have 26 staples in my skull and down my necks.   4 days later I come home and slowly recover.   Gary and the guys finally get the deal signed and I am happy for him.

December.   I am recovering quickly but my tongue, as relentless as ever.    It’s painful and depressing and it feels pretty hopeless.   That irreversible word stays hovering over me.  The good news is my pool area has just been done and it looks awesome.    Christmas is at my house this year and our table will look gorgeous.    I will end this year at my pool with my family and be grateful for my beautiful home and the people who live here.  2012 was incredibly harsh for me and I have no idea of 2013.  I do know my studies will be a huge part of my time and focus.   I will continue to exercise although probably give up pilates.  I hate it.  Its soooooo boring although I love my teacher.    Pottery will also end soon.  I am just not good.   I want to try make something on the wheel and then I am done by end of March I reckon.     As for my mouth, I will get more aggressive in trying to fix this.  The epilepsy meds did work but I have doubled my dose and they become less effective after a month or so.   I am not even sure I will make any resolutions for 2013.  I know Gary will be working hard as he launches his part of the company in Feb.    I will do the normal kid running around thing and study hard and I will hopefully have a year that is less eventful than this one.  I want a peaceful one and one without massive disappointment.    I will even take boring!   But this post is probably getting boring and just too long so signing off now.    Thanks for ‘listening’  to my long drivel, it’s been therapeutic .     x

Friday, December 21, 2012

Tough Love

Mothers are focused on 2 main things:   Sparing their precious children sorrow and pain, and raising them to be successful.  It’s our job, keeping them safe and getting them ready to spread their wings and soar.

I have just completed Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.  I am not sure when or how my love affair with India began but I love reading books set in that crazy country.    For most of my life it was a place I had zero desire to visit but now I would just love the chance to go there.  I will one day.  Probably for a lengthy visit.  I know it’s become a cliché place to go to India and search your soul but clichés are normally based on some repeated truth.    Don’t worry clappers, I will bring my Jesus with in my heart and He will show me the many faces and flavours of His father.    Also, although I might go for a short visit in the next decade I think my long stay might be when I am a 60 year plus granny.   

Anyway, on page 872 of this wonderful book I read the following which inspired this blog post:
Nothing in any life, no matter how well or poorly lived, is wiser than failure or clearer than sorrow.  And in the tiny precious wisdom that they give to us, even those dread and hated enemies, suffering and failure, have their reason and right to be. 

Failure and sorrow, my 2 biggest teachers in my life.   They have stripped away pretense and cleansed me of untruths, they have given me courage and wisdom and perseverance.    They have made me humble and smaller than I thought I was and bigger than I thought I was.  They have also shown me the love of God and comfort available when I am prepared to let bitterness and questions go and grab at His hand instead.    And yet I don’t want my children to have sorrow or fail?    I cannot bare the thought of them in pain, of broken hearts or broken hopes.  When Daniel first started seeing Carmin I freaked out as you all know.  He laid himself totally open and made himself vulnerable to something I couldn’t protect him from.   He fell in love with 16 year old abandon holding nothing back.  His heart is perfect, unscarred by the breaking of a past love or by rejection or disappointment.      The thought of him having his heart broken, crushed or thrown away just killed me.   Four months later I have relaxed as I see his love returned in equal measure.     I cannot predict the future but I do know for certain he will have some pain and some sorrow in his life and some failure too.   We all do at some point in varying degrees.    Reading this reminded me that we can teach our children up to a point but it’s the tough times that shape who we become, who we are and how we grow.    I should not dread it so but know that I am around to comfort.  That they have a God who loves them more than I do and who will see them through any crises in their life.   

I feel my hand loosen slightly and I release them a little more into a world I still hope will be mostly kind to them.  I love my children and will continue to protect them as far as I am able but I will try no longer dread the teachers of sorrow and failure and remind myself of what they did for me.   

Thank you God for walking with my kids every day.   For new mercies for them.  I pray you will give them the strength and grace to handle whatever should happen in their long lives.  I pray for their protection.  I trust you to know what they need to make them into the people you have designed them to be and I thank you for being their mom.  Be gentle with them please, I love them SO!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

13 Nov to 13 Dec

So here I am in this pic exactly one month since my brain op doing my famous corny jumpy Mel shot at the reservoir in Hermanus.  1 month prior at that exact time I had my craniotomy and the cyst removed.  I am grateful for my recovery and the only issue I still struggle with is my neck is still tender from the wound.   The ability of the human body to heal is pretty awesome.  It’s that very fact that makes my oral dystonia so frustrating.    The op had zero effect on my tongue spasms and I remain on the epilepsy meds. 

Next year I get serious about finding an expert and exploring various options.     To have an irreversible condition from medication I have taken for only 19 days is just so frustrating.    OK, OK, I shouldn’t say irreversible but 6 months on of suffering with no letting up is making me think perhaps this is the hand I have been dealt with.    When I first googled it I read weeks, months, years and often irreversible.     I waited out weeks and I wait out months and if I just knew it was years, even 2 or 3 and then it would end, I could cope.  Forever?  That’s a really, REALLY long time!    I have read about alternate therapies but I cannot imagine botox would work for the tongue because how would I speak?    My forehead would love some botox but my tongue, probably not.   I know exercise works and I am finally back to my previous strength pre op with no more day naps needed.  And then….cannabis,  Dagga, weed, marijuana is supposedly am option for dystonia and tardive dyskinesia.    I stopped smoking many years ago because I felt like God was telling me it wasn’t good for me and as an occupant of my temple, He preferred not getting stoned thank you very much.    I obeyed immediately and never smoked since.    I want to do jumpy Mel shots at 80 and I do feel like I have partnered with God when it comes to my health.    My side means listening to my body and also my spirit.    Another thing I felt was a God no-no is no pig.   I am not fanatical about it and I just pick the bacon out the macaroni I feed my swine eating family but for MY body, pork is a no-no.   

I have obviously prayed passionately for healing of my tongue, for the pain and spasms to just STOP.   In fact I have just come back from a mini break in Hermanus and on the 9th of December I sat on the beach with my tongue sticking out in the wind (looking VERY special) and trusted 100% for healing and was so determined to have that date as the date it all stopped.   Nope, He didn’t.  He didn’t heal my mouth, He chose not to.   It’s tough when I know  He can but I guess this journey I need to be on isn’t over and I have to trust Him in all things.    Jesus you know I am willing to try anything so if weed will help then I hope I have your blessing.  If not, then hey, fix me so we don’t have to get stoned.  Please!  

PS:   The numbness I had in my chin and the tip of my nose has gone which is cool.  The sore ears and headache above my brows too.   The slurry speech after half a glass of wine also cured.  I can now drink 2 WHOLE glasses of wine without getting pissed, marvelous hey!