Work and party

Today was my first day back at work. Luckily, it was at the PACU and not the ED. The ED would probably have been way too hard.

I was so apprehensive this morning, I took a xanax before I left for work. It helped buffer me from people talking to me, people looking at me, people expecting things of me. I felt slow and still borderline weepy, but I think it was better than it could have been.

When it wore off, however, I started feeling everything way too much. I felt irritable – not in a crabby kind of way, but in a can’t-handle-any-stimulus kind of way. I had the other half of my pill in my bag, just in case, but I did not take it. I made myself feel stuff. And by the end of the day, I felt a little more comfortable at work. Not like I am at home certainly, but I knew what to expect and my ‘safe’ bubble got a little bigger.

It was exhausting. Just the mental and emotional effort it took to ‘act normal’ took so much out of me. And when I came home, I was met by a dozen happy people wearing mustaches. We had a Mustache Birthday for Koby so everyone was there, including Michela’s mom. It was loud and happy and busy. I wanted nothing more than to lie down, but it wasn’t too bad. Ryan and Bill made dinner, we had ice cream cake, and the mustaches were a lot of fun.

When everyone left, I cleaned the kitchen, ran out to the store real quick, and put Decky to bed. This is the first quiet time I’ve had all day. Although I could fall asleep right now with no problem, I will stay up a little while just to be by myself.

Tomorrow I don’t work. There is nothing on the calendar. I will apply a second coat of burnt orange paint to the upstairs walls, and maybe attempt to paint the two-story stairway. I will stay in my jammies all morning and watch the morning news shows. I will clean. I’ll stay busy. I will be safe in the shelter of my cozy house, recovering and gearing up for my Friday shift at the PACU.

I want to go back a few weeks to my happy life with Dad in it, but I can’t. The world keeps moving forward, and it pulls me with it. But I can keep Dad in me, bring him along, think about him. Some day it might not hurt so much.

He would have loved the Mustache Party.

Get up. Take a shower.

Pack Decky a lunch. Drop Decky off at school. Clean the bathrooms in the basement. Clean the woodwork, tape the trim and paint the upstairs walls. Make an appointment for the doctor. Take the shampooer back in to be repaired again. Get the car oil changed again, and have them check out that bad rim. Take the car into Best Buy to fix the stereo. Make chicken tortilla soup. Schedule the Salvation Army bell ringing date. Make appointment for Bill with the GI guy. Write thank you cards. Pick Decky up from school.

I made the mistake of making a good day my goal. I have since revised that goal: I hope for a good hour, then maybe two. Much more attainable, more successes. So far, it’s helping.

I’m staying busy. Doing the work. My eye is back to normal – no more drops. My shoulder and neck are less sore. I sleep through the night now.
I break down. I stare into space and forget what I’m doing. I alternately feel numb and acutely hypersensitive. I get lots of hugs from Bill. I stick around my house.

I noticed I felt better after putting up a few pictures of Dad. I have one of Dad, Bill, Decky and Owen at the Cubs/Royals game last year on my bed table. I have that nice one of Dad in the Ozarks on the kitchen wall. I don’t sit and stare at them, but I can glance up when I need to.

I still think this all can’t be happening. I shake my head to clear it. No. That can’t be right.
But it is. It’s happening. And all I can really do is keep busy.

Grief is physical

Today I learned that grief is physical.
I am simultaneously numb, but I feel everything so acutely.
I thought I’d try to resume some normal activity. I’d walk to school to pick up Decky.
It’s never been so hard.
It took repeated Herculean effort to lift my leaden feet and place them in front of each other. The gentle warm breeze pummeled my tender body. My neck and shoulders ached with tension. I flinched at distant noises and felt nausea from the exertion of walking at a slow pace.
I have been terribly ill with this grief. It will take a while to get better. But I’m not going to hide beneath blankets. Not all the time anyway.
I’ll do the work.

Life is so good

Five years ago today, if you told me my life would be so wonderful, I would not have laughed. I would have been angry, or felt patronized. Or just cried hopelessly, like I did constantly at that time.

Five years ago today, my world was ending. I was losing my daughter, my husband, my life. I saw no way out. There was no future. My life was a bleak and black place.

Today, I have a wonderful life. Somehow, my husband and I found our way through that terrible time and stayed together. Our love is so strong and sweet. Thank god I don’t every have to live without it. My daughter has two children of her own and is the best mother to them anyone could ever be. She is happily married to a great man, a man we feel we have watched grow up. We couldn’t love him more if he were our biological son. Their first boy is the only blessing we have from that bleak time. He saved all our lives and brings us joy every day. And their new baby boy will undoubtedly do the same.

Somehow, some way, we survived. I still can’t believe it sometimes. But we did – we all did. And we have such riches and joy and love in our lives. I couldn’t be more grateful for our blessings.

Exhausted and exhilarated

I worked my first twelve-hour Emergency Department shift in five months today. My first patient had a dissecting aortic aneurysm. He lived through surgery, which is amazing in itself. You don’t get to see too many of those.

I noticed the clientele is quite different than that I am used to. Patients are not as snobby or entitled, a little dirtier, but more appreciative. It’s a nice change.

It was also nice to see my old doctors, have them recognize me and be glad that I’m there with them again. That was such a good feeling.

Of course, now I’m used to working 4-6 hours in the PACU, which is such a cushy job I will never ever give it up. Now my legs feel like bloody achy stumps. And my hips are crying out too. Damn, I’m out of shape.

But I feel really good. Like my dad after his first day spent out of the hospital with the kids, I am exhausted but really happy.