We were the closest family possible. Our world was turned upside down on 05/03/09 when my best friend, the person I love most next only to our children, my sister Trina was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. Her body gave out on her on 01/09/10 but she will ALWAYS be a part of our daily life and will continue to be in my posts. I started my blog to chronicle our daughter's international adoption from Guatemala and have continued to use it as a journal.

What you will find is my family trying to adapt to our new lives that were handed to us.



Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Psych Ward Please

I saw my psychiatrist Dr. H yesterday. Our session went something like this:

Me - Well I'm not in the middle of a panic attack today, so that's good. Last time I was having a panic attack when I saw you. I feel like I'm a broken record. I know my meds are working and that there's nothing that can be done and I'm doing ok and nothing can be changed but I'm feeling overwhelmed. I'm just so tired. I feel like I don't have any fight left in me. Trina's birthday was a week ago last Saturday and I'm crashing. I saw Dr. B and told him that I've been running on adrenaline for a few weeks and he said it's been more like a few years. I just feel defeated. But I have the sensory overload. I get overwhelmed very easily. If someone asks me one thing I feel like it's three. I feel like I'm juggling five balls at all times and they always fall down, I can't catch them. But I get frustrated for not catching them and then I get tired of trying to. I just feel like I can't do it. But I also feel like I might be having that small breakthrough. I know she's gone but I still can't deal with it. I can't look at any of the pictures of her and I together. My safe is full of stuff of the two of us together. I have boxes of cards and pictures and things of hers under my bed that I can't look at but I know I need to. My mom is good at not pushing me to do it but I know I need to but I can't. I'm tired of trying and pushing it away but I know I can't handle it all at once so I try to let things in slowly but then I think I need to hurry up and get it over with but I know it doesn't work like that. I don't like people. I can't stand my neighbors but I have to deal with them. Asa's soccer schedule is ramping up again and we'll be having things 3 times a week plus I need to get Valentina in dance again and I haven't done it yet and school is starting and I don't like the parents. I really don't like anyone but I can fake it but they piss me off inside. I'm just tired.

Dr. H (stifling a smile) - I know I sound like a broken record but you really are doing ok. You have grief first and foremost and the anxiety is compounding that and along with the bi-polar but you really are handling things well.

Me - Am I bipolar? I mean really? I read a sign somewhere "I'm bi-polar. I hate it. I love it." And that's how I feel. I just don't know what to do.

Dr. H - What you've just described to me is textbook bi-polar. You're telling me two conflicting sides of yourself. You feel like you can't do everything and then you get frustrated that you can't and feel like you're a failure and then you try harder to do it and it's a cycle that you put yourself through. You can't do everything.

Me - But I need to! And I have to do everything perfectly! And I know I can't but I need to.

Regurgitate the above for another 20 minutes and that was my conversation. His final say? He told me to not think about everything I need to do or am not doing or what I think I'm not doing good enough and to just take every day as it comes and just do what I need to do that second. "I'm telling you to take six months off. Every time you think you need to do this or deal with that, tell yourself Dr. H told you not to."

I was suddenly reminded of "What About Bob".

Dr. Leo Marvin - Bob, I'm writing you a prescription to take a vacation from your problems.

Bob Wiley - A vacation. From my problems. Yeah. A vacation from my problems. A. Vacation. From. My. Problems.

Beya and I have often quoted "What About Bob" and laughed about it but now I've officially become Bob Wiley.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Crap Door

I love scary movies. I watched "Silent House" on sissy's birthday because I wanted to see something that was mindless yet required my full attention. Boy that fit the bill! A lot of times in scary movies/shows there's the trap door that swallows people whole.

I have a crap door.

Dr. B has described my grief denial as me pushing against a door to a room that is filled with grief. I can't keep the door shut forever and sooner or later the door will open. He has advised me to slowly let the door open so it doesn't blow open causing me to have a full on nervous breakdown. He said just as someone will experience physical problems from pushing on a door I'm having physical problems from keeping my crap door shut.

I've slowly started to let things trickle in.

Very slowly.

I still have years of acceptance ahead of me. I've been in denial for 2 1/2 years, it won't happen overnight or even over a month. I told Dr. B last week that I'm crashing. I feel like I've been running on adrenaline for the past three weeks. He laughed at me and said "you've been running on adrenaline for the past few YEARS." I had to agree with him. Yes, I'm crashing but along with crashing I don't have as much energy to keep my crap door shut which causes grief to creep in.

But the thing with grief creeping in is I have started to see what a physical toll this denial has had on me. All of my doctors (Dr. B, my psychiatrist Dr. H, my PCP Dr. S and most of all Dr. Beya) have told me what this is doing to my body but I didn't realize how far I was pushing it. I can't explain or describe it. I know, me, of all people, am at a loss for words. A loss of DESCRIPTIVE words.

I guess that should show exactly how far I've been pushing myself.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bourne To Be Wild

Mom and I have been doing our best to do our homework assigned to us by Dr. B.

Leap

Don't look

Jump

Yesterday we took the kids out to Grama's for the day. We had big plans for when we got home. We would order Thai food takeout, watch "NY Med" and pick up the house. On our way home I turned to mom and suggested something irresponsible.

"Lets go to a movie!"

"Should we?" mom gasped.

We quickly discussed it and I explained all the reasons we should go. I had a groupon that expires the end of the month, we didn't have the kids, we didn't have anything we HAD to do, and most of all, it would be FUN!

We then talked ourselves out of it. The house needed to be picked up. My phone was almost dead, nobody would be able to get a hold of me if an emergency came up, nobody would know where we were, it's wasn't very responsible.

Really? Those were our arguments against going to a fucking movie?

I pulled over and got the movie schedule on my phone. "The Bourne Legacy" was starting in less than 40 minutes. We were about 20 minutes away. We didn't have time to go home and get my groupon. I tried to pull it up on my phone but it wasn't working, my battery was flashing red, warning me that it would soon give out. If we were going to go, we needed to go NOW! No more time for hemming and hawing.

Off we went.....to the theater!

The theater is inside the mall and I still needed to somehow get my groupon. We pulled into the parking lot at 11:15. Fifteen minutes until the movie started. We raced into the mall and luckily there's a library inside the mall. I frantically went from computer to computer, trying to find the one that I could access the internet with.

"Here's one!" Mom whispered to me across the room.

I ran over there and tried to log in.

Ack! I needed to enter my library card number and PIN.

I rummaged through my wallet, found it and started entering the series of numbers. By now, in my mind, I was in my very own Bourne movie. Enter in the code and print out the proof of treason before getting caught!  I then had to run over to the printer computer and enter in the same numbers, search for document and print. I needed my card again! Run over to the first computer and grab my card. Run back to the printer computer, enter in the numbers. Now search again for my document. Print. Grab the paper. Run back to the computer that I was logged in to, log out of all my accounts, erase any sign that I had been there. Log out of my internet session. Mom and I raced back to the theater and got our tickets.

"Just for your information they will stop taking orders in four minutes."

The theater we go to has a restaurant and they will take your order and serve you the food in the theater.....if you get there early enough. We speed walked down the hallway and made it to our seats just in time to have the server take our order.

"Let's get a cocktail!" mom devilishly suggested.

"Okay" I giggled back in reply.

We ran on a tightrope yesterday, no safety net. We were doing things without thinking. Well, we were thinking but not talking ourselves out of it. We were leaping like we used to do with sissy.

As we were walking out of the theater after the movie mom and I giggled to each other "I can't believe we just did that!"

Who would have thought going to see a movie would be such a huge step for someone.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sissy's Birthday Call

Today sissy would have turned 43 years old.

It has been a horrid, sad, depressing day. There was absolutely nothing good about it. It reminded me of the first Christmas without her when mom and I were just staring at the clock, waiting for the day to end. Josh had picked up Asa early today so he wasn't here to demand all of our attention. That boy is just like his mom in that respect! He insists on having everyone's attention 24/7.

At 4:10 pm this afternoon mom and I were watching "NY Med" from earlier this week and the caller ID popped up on the TV:

"Trina (555) 555-5555"

Mom and I just looked at each other, like deer frozen in headlights. For a split second I thought "she's calling to find out why we haven't gone out sooner for her birthday". Then the split second after that I remembered that it was Asa.

Josh, thankfully, has maintained her cell number and phone for Asa to use when he gets older. This is about the third time he has called me off her phone and each time it it rips my heart out in a way I never thought possible.

I talked to Asa for a few minutes and then he hung up.

I have never wanted so badly for sissy to be on the other end of that phone call.

But I am forever grateful that nobody else has her phone number.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Monday Mourning

---Clarification---  I started this post about last Monday's therapy session but it took me a week to finish writing it so when I'm talking about Monday's session I'm talking about last Monday, not yesterday.

Mom and I usually have therapy on Mondays. Dr. B has been wonderful at not just helping us navigate these murky grieving waters but also with helping us be the best people we can be. Mom is learning to let all the bullshit fall by the wayside and I'm learning that I can't avoid.

Monday Dr. B was asking us what we missed about sissy. Mom explained how her heart is a weave of fabric with a huge part of it slashed away leaving only tatters. Sometimes her wound feels like it might be starting to scab but then it rips away again just as bad as the day sissy died/diagnosed/point of no return. Dr. B asked us what we lost when sissy died. He looked at me to start. I was instantly flooded with memories of being a sister, knowing damn well that part of me is gone. I can never be a sister again, I can never do things with my sister, I can never have a sister. I felt my eyes start to well up and my throat began to constrict. I managed to blink away my tears and answered simply "a huge part."

I turned to mom and croaked "your turn." I didn't want to get into my feelings, my loss, my wounds.

Mom again explained the fabric. I chimed in that on the outside we appear to be a normal family, we laugh, we have fun with the kids, people would never guess that inside we are hollow. We are like a log that looks whole and normal on the outside but instead we're missing our insides. Mom agreed with that analogy.

Dr. B took another strategy. I could tell he was trying to get something out of us that we weren't giving him. He asked what we did with her, what the log was like before she died and it became hollow. He asked what she was like. I explained that Trina was a flitter. She would flit from one thing to another, jump without looking yet always landing on something. She was like a frog, hop from one thing to another. She could be midair, decide to do a double layout half twist (can you tell I've been watching the Olympics?), go in another direction and still have something solid to land on. She was never stagnant, always moving, always doing something, always making sure she was having fun. If something wasn't fun she would leave and flit on to something else. Mom again agreed with my analogy.

Dr. B pressed on and tried to coax something out of us that I had no idea what it was. Mom went off on the fabric weave again.

Finally Dr. B stopped us.

"Can I tell you how I see it?" he asked. Mom and I readily welcomed another point of view. "I only met Trina once," he started "but I feel like I knew her. We had many long sessions about her. With what you talked to me about her for 10 years and now with your mom I feel like I have the whole picture of her." Again, mom and I trusted what he was about to say. "I see that you and your mom are both very responsible. You always put work and other people first. You want to make sure all the 'stuff' is done before you can have fun. Trina made sure to have fun first and if there wasn't time for work, well, it would get done later. She pulled that side of you two out of you. You held on to her and hopped with her. You two feel like you can't hop without her."

Talk about a lightbulb moment! Mom and I just stared at each other like "BINGO!"

"You DO have that part of yourselves inside you, you just let Trina pull it out of you. You feel like that part of you is missing because she is gone but it isn't. You have it within yourself, you just need to let it out."

"She was very irresponsible" I said. "She would come over and literally grocery shop in my cupboards because she either didn't have money or didn't want to go to the store" I exclaimed.

"I know!" Dr. B said. "We discussed this several years ago. And that was the trade off. You were more than willing to make sure your cupboards were stocked with not just things for you but what Trina would want too because you knew she would be raiding them at some point. And in return she would make you jump. You were responsible for her and she would make you have fun and be irresponsible."

Again, it was like a thunderbolt through mom and me.

"She loved to drink her beer" mom added. "Things were always more fun when she had a beer and she got Cameo and I to drink too. It didn't matter if it wasn't even noon, there was always something she was celebrating, especially Friday, so it was time to have a beer."

"So what's stopping you from having a beer?" Dr. B asked.

"It doesn't taste good" mom replied.

"But my sangria does!" I reminded mom.

"Oh, your sangria! Yes, that is good!" mom agreed.

"Good! Then your homework this week is to have some sangria and do something irresponsible!" Dr. B laughed and in all seriousness he instructed us to do just that. The thought of doing something irresponsible just because was so foreign to mom and me. We were more than willing to go along when it was Trina who was jumping because we didn't want to be "fun wreckers". Yes, that was a term mom had coined about 20 years ago. Trina was always on a mission to have fun and it was our job to go along with her and not be a fun wrecker. And mom and I always take our jobs seriously!

Mom and I got out to the car and just sat there for a few minutes.

"Huh." I finally said. "So we have to drink and do something irresponsible this week."

"What should we do?" mom asked.

I kid you not, mom and I sat there for a few more minutes wondering what we could do to be irresponsible. What could we jump to? We couldn't come up with anything so we headed home. On our way home mom said "well, should we go to lunch?" I thought of it. Just spur of the moment going out to lunch. No thinking, just doing. Don't think, don't think, don't think, just jump.

"We can't" I said. "Valentina has dance this afternoon and then Asa has soccer tonight. We don't have time." Mom agreed. We both started talking that it was also a lot easier for Trina to jump because she knew she had both of us to catch her. She could not hold on to money. If she had a dollar she HAD to spend it. She would say "I have $5, let's go to lunch!" Off to lunch we would go and before you knew it she was ordering three beers, appetizers and entree. At the end, when the check would come, she would hand me her $5 to cover her $30 lunch bill. "I'll get you next time" she always promised. Sometimes she did, sometimes she didn't but the fact remained, she jumped and I always caught her. Another thing she did that would annoy the hell out of me was she would order soup with her lunch and I would always get  fries. As soon as our food would come, her long fingers would find their way over to my fries and she would start plucking them, one by one, off of my plate.

"Why don't you just get fries?" I would ask her.

"I like soup. Besides, you can't eat them all anyway" was her excuse.

"Well I wouldn't know because I'm never given a chance!" I'd snipe at her.

Now that she is no longer here Asa has easily slid into her place since he always gobbles up his fries and then starts in on mine. He is his mothers child!

The bottom line is, Trina flitted and jumped and hopped and mom and I were able to be loosen up through her. We didn't want to be "fun wreckers". Sissy pushed us off the cliff and we always had fun even though she stole my fries. Now that she is gone mom and I need to be the ones to leap as she used to, even if that means scheduling time to leap to start. Dr. B said that is the best way to not just keep sissy's memory alive but to actually keep her with us. It made such total sense. Dr. B said Beya and I weren't ready to do this six months ago, he had to wait until we were able to understand and possibly do this which means there is so much more that we can learn and so much more that we aren't ready to hear but again, like Dr. B says, we'll never "get over" this grief. There is no "coming through it". This is it. This is our life now. It will be years before I can fully understand the loss and actually come to grips with it. It will never be ok.

All we can do is learn to live with this.....and schedule a time to be irresponsible.


---- For Kathy P.----
Here are the ingredients for my sangria.

Put the following into a pitcher:

Bottle of white wine

Sliced up orange

A mango chunked/sliced up

Bag of frozen peaches. In an emergency I've taken a can of peaches, put them in a ziplock bag, thrown it in the freezer and used that instead. It works :)

About a 1/4 cup sugar (I never measure, just throw it in there)

A dumping of peach schnapps (if I had to measure, probably a 1/2-1 cup, I like it sweet)

Stir it up and let sit in the fridge for a few hours. Just before guzzling, I mean serving, top it off with a liter of ginger ale.

This is a recipe I found online so I didn't make it completely up on my own. You could throw in some strawberries too, I love strawberries!