Thursday, January 31, 2013

A decade with my love

Today, 10 years ago I walked up the aisle to my waiting groom.  Unfortunately that same groom is away in Germany on business so I thought I would write about the day in order to keep up some semblance of romance and sentimentality.

But before the wedding comes the courtship.   Ours was not the:  Meet at varsity, travel and get married and then after a few years, have a few critters relationship.     My 30th birthday had just past and I was nursing a broken heart and feeling far short of who and where I thought I would be at that grand age.   2 weeks later I bumped into Gary, a friend of my sister.    We chatted, we re-connected but my heart was unable to produce anything remotely resembling a spark.    Still, my persistent Gary took me out to dinner and before flying off back to London the next morning, gave me a real kissy kiss when he said goodbye
Somehow I had that inevitable feeling.   It’s odd as it was not love or lust or passion but just an inevitable feeling that our lives had not only crossed but eternally intertwined.      We then e-mailed and texted the whole day every day getting to know each other.  Then he visited and passed the test of how to relate to an ADHD 4 year old.  (lots of gifts and supper at the Spur!)      My heart started to spark and he visited again.   Zzzzap, definitely something.    August the 1st….my very patient man needs to move things along.  He flies me via London to join him and then we fly onto Skiathos in Greece.     One evening we are upstairs at the pool looking out the ocean and I turn to see him in this crisp white shirt with his rugged face, shaved head and tats.  Kaboooooooom!      I want this man.    Va va voom!

Fast forward 18 months later and in true Gary & Mel style we have managed to move to Cape Town, create and birth a baby girl and buy a house.   10 days before the wedding Daniel starts grade 1 and at the welcome his teacher announces that his parents are getting married on the weekend.  Polite and curious applause followed of course.  I have to admit the months leading up to the wedding were hugely stressful.  I arranged the entire thing within 6 months of giving birth to my huge pain in the arse sweet daughter .  Wow she was hard work!  To add a little spanner to the works, 6 weeks before the wedding, she decides breastfeeding in December makes us both too hot and sweaty and rejects the boob.  I am finished.  I felt personally rejected and the subsequent hormonal crash of no oxytocin made me a very weepy engorged bride to be.   Eventually I gave up coaxing, expressing etc. and my lovely full bosoms became sad little boobies which now no longer filled my dress.  Oh shite!  
But skip forward once again and the dress is now padded, the baby is now 6 plus months and everything is arranged.    Due to finances (having kids pre wedding really screws the honeymoon budget) we plan to go on a short local honeymoon up to Victoria Bay.   The 1st of Feb 2003 arrives and I wake up at my parents house.   I lie in bed and think:  Today is my wedding day.  Today I am getting married.  Forever.   Sjoe but it was both a scary and wonderful feeling at the same time.   We all went for lunch and eventually it was time for us to get ready.  Me in my beautiful dress, Daniel age 6 in a little tuxedo like outfit he had to keep clean and Rebeka in a christening gown with a headband on her mostly bald head.  I was nervous as all hell and they tried to delay my arrival as apparently the DJ hadn’t arrived with the wedding march song.   I walked up the aisle in my father’s proud arm and that extra long squeeze before he gave me away was the only time I nearly lost the plot and had a cry.  The ceremony followed and down the aisle we walked with our 2 children and finally it all clicked.  It felt right, it was right.  Our little family.  I loved my wedding, I loved feeling beautiful.   I remember waking up on the first day of my honeymoon saying the real yes.  Yes this was the right thing, changing my name and merging with this man, it was good.  Yes!

10 Years later we have 1 extra critter, 3 dogs and 3 budgies.  The cats have been sent to Jesus re-homed and the rats have moved to Khayalitsha to live with our helper and our grandson.  We have done extensive renovations to our house and love our home.   We don’t fight although we do argue about ridiculous things.  We annoy each other, make each other laugh, turn each other on, entertain each other and we respect each other.    We like and love each others extended families and we parent the same way.  We are very different in many other ways but we are both ambitious, competitive and hard working.  Our loyalty to our family and each other is unfailing.   We have our boundaries and our unspoken rules.  I love this man who is a mixture of extreme shyness and bold confidence.    This anti-social homebody who only a fortunate few really get to know.    Gary as your enemy, you better run and hide.  Gary as your friend, you pretty safe.  Gary as your husband, you are loved, cherished and protected  forever.    

I am so grateful for my life, my home, my kids, my family and especially my life partner who is in it for the long haul with me.     Life is unpredictable and I know no guarantees yet I so hope to grow old with my Gary and I thank God for him most every day.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Podium Princess

Last year Rebeka swam in a gala and achieved first place.  She stood on that podium in the number 1 spot and grinned happily as they put the medal around her neck.  The top breast stroker from 6 schools and she came first.  Swimming is extremely competitive as the top 4 of each grade are the only ones who make it to the galas.   With +- 200 kids in her grade I remind both my girls it’s an achievement to be in the team.  (Poor Sofie not as strong so hardly makes the galas)   On the way home I asked her how it felt and if those 30 seconds were worth the hard work and effort that swimming training requires.   Definitely says my daughter all re motivated and ready to get back in the pool.
As you know I have my friend Agatha anxiety part of my life.    The usual stress situations make me more anxious.   New situations, trying new things, pushing myself.   One would then assume to avoid the heart racey panicky feeling and skip the triggers and choose the calm path and the easy way.    Nope, not me.   Although not naturally sporty or fit, my Agatha means exercise is a non-negotiable in my life.   Unfortunately my chronic back pain means running isn’t a good option for me and neither is cycling which I am anyway also unable to do.   Despite not qualifying for 2 out of the 3 requirements of a triathlon, I have decided I want to do a mini one before I hit 45.    What’s that you say?  In 10 years time?    Nope, in just 3 years’ time I want to manage a short 5 km run and a +- 15 km cycle and whatever the swim is.    Clearly I cannot just enter one right now but I have found 2 strong partners to do my cycling and running and I will be the swimmer.     Although not pro by any means, my love of the water means I am a pretty confident swimmer.      For this particular xterra triathlon I am required to swim 1500m in a dam.  Only teensy prob is I have only swam 1,250 in the gym pool with desperate breaks clutching on the side as I catch my breath.  That’s 50 lengths.     Not being entirely foolish I joined a friend who is swimming the same event and we drove up to beautiful Grabouw to join her friend.  I was nervous the whole day.  I kept on thinking about those 2 super fit guys who had heart attacks while swimming in the half iron man which is 1900m.    My new medication for my dystonia makes my already low BP even lower.    Agatha was going bos and I was wandering why I do this to myself.  Push myself beyond my comfort zone.  To a new unfamiliar place that doesn’t feel known or safe.  The need to challenge myself and grow.     

So off I went and managed the swim despite a few stops to do breast stroke or float a while.   My lungs were burning and my heart was racing but when I finished I had my imaginary podium moment.   I had done it, I can do it.  Not well or fast but I can swim 1500 meters in an open dam and I have the possibility of improving.   I am a Podium Princess!  It’s not the applause I need or the approval of others.  I am happy with no audience.  It’s the sense of achievement of doing something I didn’t know I could.  I had the same awesome rushy feeling that I had after I finished my last exam last year.    At that point I didn’t even know my results but just the satisfaction of finishing something.  Following through and not giving up.  It was even better than when I got my actual results and aced 5 of the 6 subjects.

This year its 8 subjects and my long swim.  It’s also hopefully starting to run if my hip and back can tolerate it.  I am goal driven.  I need that rush, the fun side of Agatha.    I love the psyche of mind-over-matter.  I used to do max 40 lengths at the gym, exactly 1km.   This year I do 50 and make myself not break before I finish the first 20.  This morning I decided to do a swim down from yesterday and managed to push myself to do the full 40 without a break.  Impossible thought just 2 months ago, 2 days ago in fact.   I would like to do a fake pose holding up an imaginary trophy but sadly I cannot lift my over used arms):     Yay for endorphins and goals and life above the comfort zone where the real action starts!!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The pill that broke the woman's tongue

So after googalizing I managed to find the details of the Dystonia association and sent a mail.  A very kind lady called me back on the Monday and told me which docs in Cape Town specialize in movement disorders and I made an appointment with neuro Doc Opperman.    My present neuro although sweet doesn't seem to have much knowledge of tardive dyskenesia or dystonias.   Through her I had the MRI which revealed the cyst and then went off to the neurosurgeon to have it removed so she did have her place in the medical nightmare timeline.   My GP knows a little.  My neurosurgeon not too much either.  As for my dismissive psychiatrist who prescribed the Cymgen in the first place, well she has done nothing except report the wrong reaction to the drug company and refused to believe me when I insisted I knew what I had.   

Granted what I have is rare and is it almost unheard of to have this reaction to such a low dose after only 19 days on the meds but it is what it is.   I have heard many other stories since of bad reactions to medications.  I wish I could sue the drug company but my resources vs theirs, a little different.  If I was in the US I bet I could!    Back in August I woke up every morning waiting for it to be gone.  The crazy relentless tongue spasms, sore palate, dry lips.   Thank God I didn't know then I would still have it now and according to the docs, its irreversible, like FOREVER.  That's a long time to live in this much pain and discomfort so naturally I cannot accept this quality of life.  My sore back, my Agatha, sure, I can deal with that.  This?  No f''√≠ng way.    Most dystonias are treated with botox but clearly paralyzing my tongue would not work.  Anyway, moaning over, let me get to the positive side and report back of the doc.

So off I went and my darling friend Tracey came with for moral support and inappropriate humour.   I was a little early because I was nervous and you never know what could happen on that drive to town with traffic etc.   Filled out the form, laughed a bit, laughed a bit more and then it was our turn.   The doc is in his mid forties and has a great bedside manner.   Can you actually believe a neuro that is funny and chatty?  In fact Tracey wandered if he was gay but my gaydar didn't beep.   (No offense meant to all the straight guys out there)  He agrees its a tardive dyskensia/lingual dystonia brought upon by my reaction to the meds.  I have 3 treatment options the first being conservative and taking meds at night usually prescribed for high blood pressure.  The teensy weensy prob is I have very low blood pressure.  He said he was going to pretend not to hear that and I should just pour salt on my arm and lick it off.   I guess the tequila would be optional.   I will only know in 2 weeks if its actually working and now that I am off the Rivitrol, my mouth is incredibly painful and speech is difficult.   I thought the Rivotril didn't help at all anymore but I guess it did.  The next option is an anti-psychotic AD kind of med and you know how I feel about those.  In fact I have tried this particular one and it made me clench my jaw and hunch my shoulders.  Next option is meds that they don't have in SA as is section 21.   R3500 for 6 months supply which isn't too bad but Discovery Medical Aid don't pay for it.   If the BP meds don't work I am skipping straight to the overseas meds.   I need relief and I want to be able to speak properly again.  I need this to be under control.   The crap thing is this is still a left over consequence of Singapore.  I was so screwed, so paralyzed by all that stress and I had to sort myself out and get help.   I thought seeing the psychologist and the psyche was being responsible.  Not my usual stubborn self.  I really believe meds have their place and I know I was just extremely unfortunate to be one of the few people to have such adverse side effects to a medicine that is used all the time and gives great relief to many.  My back was amazing on it as its also used for chronic back pain.  

Anyhoo, hope junkie will take these meds and wait impatiently for 2 weeks.   I will continue to pray/moan/nag God continuously to heal me.   Drinking cold water helps, hot tea and swimming so I will do that too.  I will do ANYTHING except live like this so bear with me and I will eventually be back to the old me and we can chat about other stuff than my boring pulsing painful tongue!   Aaaaaaargh!!!!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Miss Popularity

You know my square peg round hole post from a while ago?  Well someone read it and accused me of wanting to be liked.  Of taking the easy way out and not making a stand.  They mentioned that they were the brave and courageous ones by making a stand against homosexuality.  Now this mention is not to bash them at all just in case such a statement might evoke such a feeling.  They are entitled to their opinion which I respect but here’s the thing.  I AM taking a stand.  I just happen to be on the other side.  I am not half-half in the middle.    I believe that gay people, black people, old people, Asian people, disabled people, people people, should all be treated the same and afforded the same rights, responsibilities, privileges.  These include the right to marry who they wish to, live where they want to and work where they want to.   It includes the right to have their children whether by adoption, surrogacy, IVF , au natural etc. My name will not be added to a petition to prevent any person a basic right such as the choice to marry their partner.   
Live in your space, do no harm and allow others to live in their own space.  You do not have to agree with someone else’s life style choice but you do have to recognize that everyone deserves the right to be treated in a dignified and fair manner.  SURELY?!     And also, forget your right or wrong thing for a moment here, we cannot condone hate speech or intolerance towards any people group.  How can that be Godly?    Be secure enough in your own identity to not be threatened by anyone else who is different to you.  You probably think I am a closet lesbo or something that I feel so passionately about this.  I know if you see me in my hiking gear your gaydar will beep beep incessantly.  But no, no lesbo tendencies here, not even a single gay person in our family.    I guess it’s growing up in South Africa and seeing first-hand how the majority of people were treated here.    That old lingering white guilt that still emerges when I see how people still live and earn in our country.   Living in a dusty sh*thole  in a tin shack that is freezing in winter and boiling in summer.    A place where kids are not safe, drugs are rife and statistically, our girls have more chance of being raped in SA than of getting a tertiary education.   I know things have changed a little, but unfortunately we have corrupt politicians who ensure their voters are ignorant and poor and uneducated which means they get to stay in power by a fake and shallow democracy.   Running Bosom Buddies and seeing how poor these moms still were, how badly they were treated in our ill equipped hospitals, it was tough, it IS tough.

So do I want to be liked?  Sure, we all do.   Am I choosing to support gay rights because it’s trendy or cool or would make me popular?  No, it’s because of who I am as a person, a Christian and as a South African.   Who I am as a Social Work student.  I need to be true to myself and I need all of God’s people to know how loved and cherished they are.   How worthy and wonderfully created they are.    God uses all of us, even me who has it so not figured out but who will hopefully introduce a side of Jesus that they would never normally have encountered.

PS:  I remember someone calling me a kaffirboetie way back in the eighties.  For my US readers it means nigger-lover.   Sorry to use the N word and K word but our word for nigger was kaffir.  It’s disgusting.  

PPS:   I read this wonderful article by our very own Tutu, a great man of God who shares my views.  Take a minute have a read even if you are totally anti-gay.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Teen mothering

Is anyone else watching the Big C?    V funny show!   I just watched the episode where the teen son gives his parents crabs because he shagged a hooker in their bed.   He storms in swearing at his mom and yelling because she had confronted the poor virgin GF who then dumped the crab infested cheating son.   During the fight the mom yells back about just not knowing how to parent him anymore. 

Parenting a teenager, feck!   Its just such a new game with totally different rules and it feels like the game changed over night before you had a chance to read the new rules.   The game doesn't seem very even either and in the old game you were the confident victor and patient teacher.    Our game had the biggest radical shift 4 months ago when my beloved son found his own beloved GF.   I am going through all the typical stereotype sh*t thats cliched and normal yet feels so personal and like I am all alone in this.   AND I have a fairly well behaved teen all things considered.

Its the withdrawal of the love and attention and closeness I battle most with.  This afternoon a mom from Sofie's class came to visit.  She is also battling dystonia and we were comparing notes/docs/drugs.   Her youngest is a 5 year old boy and in love with his mama the way 5 year olds are.   Arms and legs wrapped around her like a little monkey and smoochy kisses and declarations of love.   Now I get that this from my 16 year old would be very Jerry Springer and I would be jailed in the psyche unit of the local prison hospital.    Its going from that closeness and fun place where you feel so loved by your kid to Siberia.   Its the feeling that if you had to die the grief would come from who would do the cooking?    And make school lunches and lifting and the grieving of the loss of pocket money.    Last week he sent me a text inviting me to lunch.  I was foolishly happy that he was making the effort and even presumed he might have missed me and wanted to spend some catch up time with me.   My reply was a little unsure as I couldn't quite believe the offer but somehow it was true.    The day arrives and GF and Daniel get to the house.  GF was visiting a friend who Daniel doesn't like so she suggested he take me out.    Mmmmh, a leak in the love tank but OK, lunch suggested by her better than nothing.   Lunch then changes to an ice-cream later with me paying.   Off he goes to play a few hours of peaceful no GF playstation and I decide to have a grown up bond with him and ask him for a drink instead of ice-cream.    Um, well, Robert's here and we playing but I can send him home.   WHATEVER!   I am not going kissing his butt to spend half hour with me.  I went over to Tracey instead and had some wine and some whine. 

Do I sound needy and pathetic and Oedipus?    I am glad he has a GF and I am not freaky jealous or anything gross like that.  I like her, she is clever and confident and she accepts him totally.  His ADHDness can make him pretty irritating and hyper but she's totally OK and doesn't like it when he takes his meds and acts quiet.    I am also glad he likes her family and is so helpful at her house.  MAJOR sucking up to the in-laws and behavior that never happens at home.   I am glad he has gained independence and is so self-sufficient.   So what do I want then?    I guess I want some of the closeness back.   I want him to WANT to spend time with me sometimes and not do it like its a chore or obligation.    I want him to care and consider me.   I miss him and he hasn't even left home yet.   I was about to say I feel ashamed for the way I feel but then I remembered what my therapist said.   Is the emotion you feeling healthy for you?   I guess it is.  I am mourning the loss of my boy child and the closeness we had.   Its real, this feeling.   Its probably even normal and shared by thousands of moms out there who used to have little boys propose to them and promise to fight dragons for them and promise to live next door and climb over the wall every time they felt like a hug.   I miss my Daniel.

Friday, January 4, 2013

5 days in

I took my gorgeous still green Christmas tree down yesterday.   Sad but time to move on and jump into 2013.  It has been a restful holiday and I am glad the kids have done so many chill days where they swim or do crafts or even just veg in front of the TV.   Don't remind them but I have managed to skip both Ratanga and ice-skating!   We usually go away for a week after Christmas but Gary has been working as his new site launches in a months time.   We have also ploughed the vacation money into re-doing our pool area instead and it looks so gorgeous I feel like I am lying at a hotel somewhere exotic.   The drinks service is a little slow and the hotel dogs that bark or lick my hand will need to be reported to management immediately. 

I start my study programme on Monday the 7th and the kids are still on holiday for another 10 days so it will be a tad challenging.  They think its less disturbing if they ask me something in a whisper.  I have one subject I cannot register for as it keeps saying waiting for exam results which were released a month ago.  UNISA you kill me!    I am really looking forward to getting stuck in.  I am also busy finalizing my exercise schedule.   As gym doesn't feature its all outside stuff with girlfriends.  With my studying and mothering I have no girlfriend bondy time so its win-win for me.  So far I am hoping for:    Walking with Claire and our dogs on Monday, walking in Lourensford with Bee on Tuesday, tennis with Colleen on Wed, Thursday is now free seen as I have broken up with my pilates teacher so I might swim, Fridays hoping to walk with the newly converted Michelle and Sundays is my early hike up the mountain with Jen.   Once a weekend is tennis too with Colleen while our husbands also play.  (Separately, they are far too good!)

My mouth has been the worse its been for a very long time.  Its so depressing.  On a bad day I write fake suicide notes in my mind so I can make sure the people who ruined my life will have to pay.   My quality of life has been totally compromised.  Naturally I include Derek from Carte Blanche so they can do a whole show and fellow Dystonia sufferers that have been poisoned by meds can be compensated.  Its just so painful.    Monday first thing I get calling and find out who can help me.  I googled a contact for the Dystonia  association of SA and the lady said to call on Monday.  I also think I need to up my meds or change them.  Or cut my tongue out.  Kidding.  I won't or kill myself either even when I think I cannot possibly live like this for the rest of my 41 years on earth I have requested.   My kids, my husband, my friends, my family.   Witnessing a suicide last year and the tsunami of pain and devastation is caused means I have to stick this out.  I know everyone or at least most have moments in their lives when they want out.   Even like me writing pretend notes.  Ironically the anxiety is OK and my back pain manageable.   Surley, SURELY there has to be help out there.  Relief and a plan to manage this.   Jeez God, how hard to handle that you won't heal me instantly.   Sorry.   Just so stuck in this and hate dragging the sh*t of last year into my new 2013.

Anyway, let me not start my day with pathetic self-pity but go for walk with my Goose and Sofie instead so she can scooter.  Exercise and hot tea are 2 of the things that help enormously.  I need to change the tea to rooibos but its so gross for me.    I will conquer this condition even if I have to live with it always to a manageable level and I will have a great year.   91 sleeps till I do my Sing-Cambodia-Bangkok trip!