Thursday, August 23, 2007


It was just another morning until the unexpectedly heavy pockets of gravity started popping up. I was dropping everything I put my hands on. Not too unusual for an early morning, except that it kept happening.
Then gravity seemed to loosen up, and suddenly little things like the refrigerator and the wall started bumping into me. But not just me -- the cake pan bumped into me, then ricocheted (there was little gravity to stop it) and bumped into my husband's, his Kingly-ness', bowl of oatmeal. Luckily gravity still had a tether on that.
His Royal Highness suggested that I sit down before I fell down. It sounded like a good idea to me, what with the funky gravity situation and all. Then I noticed my tiara seemed to be giving me a headache, and I thought I might have a little royal lay-down, anyway.
That plan was discarded, however, when I looked down the long hallway gauntlet. What
with the furniture moving around and all, I thought it prudent to take up the throne in the living room rather than risk falling over the royal banister and landing in the dungeon.
This was when things got weird. And lucky.
For this was when my husband, His Majesty, and forever here forward known as Protector of the Queen, had the good sense to call 911. For a while, I thought perhaps he was playing the jester when I heard him say something about "my wife, 41, having a stroke." It wasn't until he said "ambulance" that I realized something was seriously wrong.
With very little rhyme or reason -- no high blood pressure, smoking, excessive drinking, weight problems, etc. -- I had a stroke.
I was blessed, and very lucky. I had a wonderful, observant, calm and quick thinking husband who called for help right away. The doctors, nurses and technicians at Mercy Hospital were skilled, compassionate, and caring. Just short of a week later I was back home, hugging my wonderful little princess and prince. There have been no lasting side effects (as far as we know).
I've tried to keep a sense of humor about the whole situation, how could anyone tell the difference between my usual grace and coordination and my stroke-stricken weaving and bobbing?
But deep down it still scares the bejezus out of me. I wanted to be more humorous about the situation, because there has been plenty of funny times. It just escapes me now.
One friend today said that when her mother had a stroke they began working right away to practice all the skills she used. They were more concerned with walking, talking and using her hands. Those are all skills or abilities that, thank God, I did not have any changes in (I'm still as coordinated as ever -- no more, no less).
I wondered about writing, the whole thinking process, finding just the right words to express just the right ideas. How best to practice that? Well, try writing something. So, here it is. Not exactly what I wanted or expected, but something.
And I'll keep trying.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

I spoke with the Queen Mother this morning, as I do every morning, and I answered the same questions I answer every morning. QM has a bit of a dementia thing going on, but most people probably wouldn't notice. It's only when she asks about things that she really should know, or that I know I've told her recently, that it catches me off guard.
For example, this morning she asked how old my children -- the little princess and prince -- are. For the record, they are 9 and 6, the same as they have been for the past five days when QM has asked. And there is three-years difference in their ages, just like there has been for the past week.
On the other hand, she told me she was looking forward to getting a perm today. She has had this on her schedule for about two weeks, and has reminded me of it nearly every day. I even verified it when I made a deposit to her personal account at the nursing home just to cover the cost. I suppose tomorrow, and every day for the next week, I can look forward to hearing that she has had her perm (and that they need to be more careful when they give her a shower).
The QM has been in and out of the nursing home for about four years now. She has lost strength in her legs and has fallen a couple times. For the last 10 months she has been pretty much confined to a wheelchair, walking only during physical therapy sessions or on supervised walks from her room to the dining room.
The last time she was "on parole" and living alone in her home, I happened to run into an acquaintance who worked at the nursing home. "It's so nice your mom was able to go home," the young woman said. "She really didn't belong at the nursing home. She's so with it."
I didn't know what to say. One of the last times I visited QM (that time), she was holding court, telling a group of aides (this one included) about a trip my brother was taking. It sounded great, it all made sense, it was completely plausible.
It was also about 90% inaccurate. The basics were correct, and most of what she said had happened at one time or another, or was going to happen. But somehow when she put it all together, well, she put it all together.
So, where does that leave us now? Well, the QM will probably be just fine for a couple of weeks. She will know exactly what's going on at the nursing home, she'll remember how old the kids are, maybe even remember they'll be starting fourth grade and first grade later this month. She won't remember it's my brother's birthday next week, but then, neither would I if I didn't have it on my calendar.
And I'll start thinking she's got it all together again, she's really with it this time. I may even think that if she didn't really need that wheelchair to get around, she probably wouldn't need to be in the nursing home.
Then -- BAM -- she'll ask me what my middle name is (the same as her first name), or ask me if I ever was a teacher (up until five years ago), or when her birthday is. All of these are questions she's asked me before. And I'll be speechless with surprised that she doesn't remember.
And part of the surprise will be that I've forgotten that she doesn't remember.
And I'll wonder, which one of us has the dementia?

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Back to School Shopping

What could be more fun that going back to school shopping with your kids? I don't know, maybe gouging your eyes out with a blunt instrument?
Actually, my little angels were pretty good when we hit the mall a couple days ago. At least they seemed well behaved compared to some of the little hellions around us. This may have been due to the fact that I had carefully and calmly explained every little detail of our outing. I also warned them (and reminded myself) it would be crowded, noisy and unpleasant. And of course, I threatened that if they misbehaved I would make poster-sized prints of their naked baby pictures and plaster them all over the school.
Iowa has a "tax-free holiday" shopping weekend, suspending taxes on a very specific list of clothing for two days. This ensures that the stores will be teeming with tired, cranky parents with a specific budget in mind arguing with their tired, cranky kids with specific fashion desires. Luckily my kids are young enough that I can bend their fashion desires to my will (and pocketbook) with little opposition.
That is not to say that we always agree. For instance, they had the kah-utest! plaid capris at that find French department store, Tar-jay. I was oohing and awing over them for our 9-year-old daughter, thinking that maybe our sock and underwear budget could be stretched to cover one more outfit.
"Oh, aren't those just too cute?" I asked the Princess.
"Uh," she replied, hesitating to miss an opportunity to be fiscally irresponsible, "not really."
I plunged ahead, ignoring the Elvis-worthy sneer and dismissive tone of voice. "But that plaid is sooo adorable," I gushed. "And it comes in purple."
"Yeah, I just don't really like plaid," she said.
Doesn't like plaid? Doesn't like plaid? I did a memory scan of the entire birthing experience, wondering when my genetically-predisposed-to-like-plaid-child had been switched at the hospital. Nope, must have been when she was kidnapped by aliens.
Doesn't like plaid? And now, when she has a skinny little butt and can wear plaid without looking like a couch. Somehow stripes going in two different directions seem to have a 3-D effect on my butt, and God knows, it doesn't need that kind of... enhancement.
I sighed wistfully and steered the cart past the displays of cheeta-liscious outfits, and the low-rise lounge pants with "hottie" spelled out on the butt. Excuse me? I am not dressing my 9-year-old like a skank, even if that means breaking her little fashionista heart.
Oh, I know, the real battles are yet to come. But if she wants to wear a teeny-tiny, microscopic mini when she's in high school, I just might say yes.
Especially if it's plaid.

Friday, August 3, 2007

My First Blog

This is it. I've decided to take the plunge. After five years of writer's block, I'm doing something constructive. Or productive. Or, well, at least I'm doing something, darn it.
I quit my job as a high school English and speech teacher about five years ago so that I could concentrate on writing the great American novel and raising our two children. All you stay-at-home parents out there realize the folly in thinking there is any free-time involved with that particular job. Yeah, I know, "excuses, excuses," but it's true. At first any extra time was gobbled up painting and decorating the home we just moved into (quit job, move into new house... sounded good at the time), along with getting our oldest into preschool.
Then my elderly mother started having problems -- medical and memory -- and I expanded my taxi service to include her trips as well as my kids'. Of course, she still lived in the town we had just moved out of. Tack on an extra 30-min. round trip on those excursions. (Yeah, I know, "cry me a river." Well, it's my bloggy and I'll cry if I want to.)
So, bingo-bango-bongo, here we are 5 years later. Mom's been in a nursing home for about 10 months now, so the worries are less, even if the visits aren't. Our kids will be starting first grade and fourth grade in about 10 days (Woo Hoo). And I'm thinking maybe, just maybe, I'll find the time to get some writing done.
Hey, I got this done, right?

OK, so the name, Sandwich Mom on Wry. I'm going for a little label humor here. Those of us taking care of both our children and our parents are often called "the sandwich generation." And "wry" -- get it? Sandwich, rye bread, "wry" humor. Oh yeah, I'm all about the puns.