Tuesday, 26 November 2019

The flooding of Unexpected emotions

Ever have one of those days that you think are fine, getting stuff accomplished, arriving on time to appointments, remembering to brush hair etc. and then something totally sets you off, so much so that you are in awe (or shock) of how much rage you feel?

This is me now, the day was beautiful, a work meeting, jobs done fast, snow was melting and then I went to visit my dad at his nursing home because I finally had a few hours open.  Lately, I have been having the best visits with him. He has advanced dementia, his gibberish which is usually no more than two words stringed together was finally making sense to me, like I figured out the magic code that makes what he's trying to say understandable.  It's a connection with him that I haven't felt in maybe 6 years.  It's partly because he is not on anti-psychotics anymore (he used to be aggressive) and I've been playing him music that really seems to help him AND maybe because I had an "ah-ha!" moment with understanding what he meant.  He still doesn't know who I am but knows he loves me :).

So back to today, I happily went to visit him, prepared to play him music and brought a book to read if he was sleeping, soft cookies in case he was active, I take every chance I get to get some food in him.  I used to dread seeing him, always cried at some point in the visit, the locked ward is a safer place for him but terribly sad to see.  You can't help but feel the sad energy coming off of others visiting their loved ones, everyone at different points of acceptance that this is their loved one's new personality/life.  Grieving the loss of their mom or husband as they knew them.  Dementia is a horrible thing.  He was sleeping, I kissed him hello and went to get a CD to play for him, his cassette/cd player was gone!  I looked through all his cupboards and then went to the nurse's station to see if they had it.  That is when the rage started building...I asked one nurse, she asked a program co-ordinator who said it belonged to palliative care, I corrected her and told her it was mine. She went to their storage closet brought me another one, I told her it wasn't mine, she said it would take a while to locate it (as in, not today)  She agreed I could use this one in the meantime....I was mad.  I went to set it up, it is completely broken...no cassette, cd or radio part working on it.  I did a "Karen" as my daughter calls it, and went to the reception desk downstairs to ask if I could look for it in their storage closet in the community room because I knew this would be faster.  Apparently, there is no such closet and she offered to send an email to the admin about it and they would look at the tapes to see who took it......my belief that they'd actually watch over a weeks worth of footage for me was non- existent, who has time for that?  Especially in an understaffed nursing home.

I went back upstairs, my dad was sleeping still.  I wondered why I felt so angry about this, like slamming doors and marching down to the reception mad.  When I had the thought that this (playing music) was finally something I had done right for him and now it was gone. The flood gates opened.  I cried.  The sadness and angry thoughts just flooded out into my consciousness.

Finally, after not visiting enough, not being strong enough to put my own emotions aside for my dad's care, being so freaking self-centred when it came to my sadness about his dementia, feeling guilty about making everything about myself, I had done something good for him and I was pissed that it was gone.  Yup, I'm really good at beating the hell out of myself.

My sweet dad who I would do this all over again for, in a second.
Then came the rest of it.....because of my dad and mom's dementia I had lost my naivete about getting older, there is loss, a lot of it.  Even if you honour your lost one in your traditions or invent new ones, it is still sad, just sad sad sad.  Yes, I make my mom's cookies and buy an African violet to honor her on special occasions, it still doesn't make up for anything.   I would much rather have back the moments she annoyed me than the "I keep her memory alive by cooking her recipes" moments.  My time is closer to the end than the beginning now, am I going to ruin my kids happiness one day too with a rude awakening of the feeling of loss, loss that is really unavoidable.

And friends......Woah, I have lost friends because of this adventure with ageing parents.  One I lost because she told me she couldn't handle being needed at one point so I called another friend when my mom was on her death bed and then she proceeded to tell me how hurt she was that I hadn't told her my mom was about to die, so I tried to include her MORE in my personal life, then she told me I was too negative and that everything was about me. FUCK, I was grieving and in a depression and you are making me feel guilty about that? How freaking self-centered of me.  She just didn't answer texts and invitations for atleast a year, when I finally broke down and asked her what was going on, that was the answer, I'm negative and self centered.  I already felt shitty about myself and absorbed this opinion of me like a sponge.  We had been friends for about 16 years.  Still working on repairs.

The other lost friend had been my best friend since I was 6 years old, she was the one who called the police to check on me when I had attempted suicide so many many years ago.  She had dropped everything to help me move my parents into a home while my brother (who lives 8 hours away) all but told me I was satan for doing this to my parents.  She drove 4 hours to me every weekend for a month to help me pack up and move my parents house, she stayed with me overnight for 5 days while my mom died.  She asked to borrow an insanely huge amount of money during all this, I said no, she begged and made promises, I thought she was the only "old family" I had left, she told me I was her "last resort" 
Everyone else, including my dad wanted to disown me back then.  I felt like I had lost everything that had ever meant anything to me in my past.  I lent her the money.....it's what you do for friends in need and besides she promised to pay it back when things came through for her.  Alas things never came through...and as she spent money on other things I got more and more resentful and suspicious that for 6 years she had been avoiding the big elephant in the room of all the money she owed me, especially since the kids were now going into college years and I really did need the money.  Our friendship ended because she wouldn't even send me ten dollars a week to pay me back knowing it would never get paid off completely but I was ok with that.  She told me HER family came first. I doubted the very meaning of our friendship at that point and didn't see her for over three years...when we thought my dad was dying she popped back into my life....now I'm just confused.  I miss our old friendship and closeness terribly but am now aware of the dynamics I didn't want to see before.

Wow, what a rant, lot's bottled up (all these thoughts were in my head, not out loud for people around me to have any idea what my mind was spinning through).

What set this all off.  the feeling of being a lousy needy depressing friend, the fact that I have been so understanding and calm about my dad losing at the home his socks, shoes, pictures, books, electric razor, clothes, prescription glasses, his dentures and now his cassette player......and yes, his clothes and shoes did have his name on them.  The feeling of never having done enough for anyone.  I'm so tired and exhausted of beating myself up.

Not sure what I wanted to come of this post, letting off steam, clarifying out loud that I have tried really hard, acknowledging that I'd be lucky to find a friend like myself. Ah, tomorrow is another day as Scarlett said.

Do you have pent up emotions that surprise you when they all come flooding out unexpectedly?

Monday, 4 November 2019

November Blues

Wow, already November.  Halloween was almost rained out this year.  We had such strong winds and heavy rain that almost all the leaves are off of the trees : (. A neighbour's whole fence blew over and our basement flooded.  The timing is awful!  You see my son bought a car that unexpectedly needed some repairs.  He "cleaned" out our garage (which basically means everything from inside the garage is now in my living room or yard) so he could work on his car in there.  Now that the basement flooded we've brought a bunch of stuff upstairs to add to the pile of crap in my living room.  I could cry.

November has always been a heavy month for me, winter is rudely starting, too much rain, barely any sunlight and everything is dying in the garden, knowing this is going to last until at least the end of March and get worse til then is so depressing.   It also scares me because I attempted suicide on November 11th in 1991, it was many years ago but the thought of sliding into that deep emotional hole ever again is a big fear of mine.  I felt out of control, I kept on trying to pull myself out with activities, time with friends, shopping, eating.....I was frantic to get happy or at least mellow. 

I was in University at the time and had been depressed for a few months, I was used to it, it was a very familiar feeling that returned pretty well every year.  I can remember thinking about suicide as early as when I was about 10 years old.  I thought everyone felt this way and was just faking it better than me.  I went to the school's doctor and told her about my sadness and stress with school, paying rent etc.  I asked if this was normal because I wanted help, she said my feelings were normal.  I think that helped put me over the edge, if this was normal I dreaded being like this for the rest of my life.  At the same time, me and my live-in boyfriend were breaking up or at least moving into separate places.  The landlord wouldn't let us out of our lease so we were both going to get studio apartments in the same building as a way to resolve this.  I really didn't want to do this, this tiny studio, one-room apartment was so dark, small and isolated.  I hated putting my cat into such a small space.  On November 11th it was snowing, raining and windy.  I remember getting off the bus in front of my apartment building and just being miserable, wet and cold.  Me and my boyfriend had an argument and he left to go see his friends.  I remember thinking, "that's it, I'm done" and kept thinking "I'm done" over and over.  I went into some sort of autopilot, not letting myself think anything but that I was done and went to the pharmacy across the street and bought three bottles of sleeping pills, once home I opened some wine and drank all three bottles of the pills as fast as I could incase I changed my mind and continue drinking and drinking.  I was pretty inebriated by the time I called the Help Line to talk to somebody.  They urged me to take the bus to the hospital, I think I fell asleep.  Then the police showed up?!  My friend who had gotten married in the summer and had moved 8 hours away had tried calling me and when I didn't answer, because I had been so upset earlier, she worried and called the police to check on me because my boyfriend had been violent in the past.  It was such a horrible experience, I got taken to the hospital and because I was drunk and didn't want something stuck down my throat they restrained me to pump my stomach.  They kept me restrained the rest of the night, I had dreams or visions or people coming to see me and a nurse saying to me angrily  "look what you've done!" after I threw up again....lot's of charcoal.

I finally got the help I needed after that, so many people had told me I was ok, it was a relief to be told that "no, this is not normal", at least with that I could see better days ahead instead of a life time of the same feeling.

I'm so glad my attempt was unsuccessful,  I would have missed out on so much wonderful life I still had coming.  I married a beautiful, gentle man, have three wonderful kids that love me, was able to help my parents with their transitioning into old age, saw many sunsets, marvelling at how magical nature is.  The positives in my life could fill a set of encyclopaedias.

Plan of attack for beating the blues this winter.....

  1.  Buy one of those lights for Seasonal Affective Disorder
  2. Get back to working out as soon as the physiotherapist ok's it.
  3. Make plans with friends at least once a week. Don't isolate yourself!
  4. On bad days snuggle with my pets, a blanket, tea and a good book.
  5. Listen to more music.
  6. Walk Bella at least once a day even if it is -40 (just a short walk then though, lol)
  7. Shower and make myself up to look like I'm happy every day.  The power of a hot shower and clean clothes is incredible.
  8. Snowshoeing
  9. Minimalize my life.......
  10. Yoga, meditate, write....basically self-care.
  11.  Get help if you are slipping. Don't let your depressed mind talk you out of it!

What are your go-to plans for winter blahs and blues?  Have you tried one of those lights and did it help?

Friday, 25 October 2019

Saving time is sometimes just wasting time....

When saving time is really just losing time.

Back in August, I fell down some stone steps by stepping into a hole that a woodland creature must have made.  It was all in slow motion, my ankle got stuck in this hole and as I fell I turned my body over to land on my back instead of my front.  You see I broke my wrist years ago and am so paranoid of doing that again that I automatically turn to avoid using my hands.  Both ankles hurt and I got lots of lovely bruises and scrapes.  The right foot swelled up the most and really hurt, the left one not so much.  A couple of weeks later when the swelling went down that foot stopped hurting but my left one, the one that barely swelled or bruised kept on hurting.  I really didn't want to bother with the doctor because I'd have to wait forever to see someone and then they would send me for x-rays and tell me there is nothing broken, nothing to do, just wait for the foot to heal, approximately 6 weeks.  I "knew" this from other visits for myself or the kids.  One of my daughters was in competitive gymnastics, then wrestling, then rugby....I had spent a lot of time waiting for her Dr. and x-ray appointments.  I just didn't want to wait, I thought it would be a waste of time.

Now this left foot hurts when I turn it a certain way so I just avoided doing that.  Late September my right hip started hurting and just got worse and worse,  I hurt standing still, the only relief was in sitting or constantly walking forward.  I finally caved and called the Dr., of course, she wasn't available (Canada's healthcare is great but you have to wait a while to get an appointment)  So I requested to see the nurse practitioner, it took two weeks to get an appointment with her.  I get so frustrated, waiting for an appointment to wait in a waiting room where I'll catch someone elses cold.

The nurse prescribed me anti-inflammatories and told me to see a physiotherapist in a week, the anti-inflammatories didn't help, still in pain.  Just saw the physiotherapist yesterday, after a lot of poking and prodding and pulling my leg in all sorts of ways she told me she thinks I had sprained my left foot and had been overcompensating for it and ended up putting everything off-kilter and now the small of my back was all tight, angry and sore.  Aaaargh, it's going to take a while to get this hip better and then we'll deal with my left foot.  It is the end of October now....so the lesson is go to the dr. even if you think you know what they are going to say....I could have been better Mid September, now we are almost in November.  Just so frustrated with the time lost and wasted feeling bad.  Frustrated that my body isn't as resilient as it used to be.  Is this one of the new interesting things in our 50's, our auto-fix doesn't work anymore.  Looking forward to simply standing with out thinking about it again.

Lost and wasted time, I feel like getting older makes me more desperate to not lose any time. I guess I need to prioritize self care over time-saving and get over the annoyance that my body just doesn't behave the way it used to anymore.  Looking forward to embracing my new age, looking for some advice on how to do that.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Gluten Free Thanksgiving - Leftover Turkey Pot Pie!

Leftovers are one of my favorite challenges..... Don't you just love feeling like everything has been used, nothing has been wasted, THIS makes me feel like I've accomplished something.

I really love this pie crust, it is so versatile, you can switch up the herbs to complement different fillings.  It is a great all-purpose crust for any pie.

Gluten-Free Herbed Crust for Pot Pies

Yield - 1 top crust     

Double recipe if you want to make a bottom crust as well.

1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour blend 
        (I use Presidents choice all-purpose flour, it has never disappointed me, a blend usually works better than one that is only rice flour or chickpea flour)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter (still cold)
1 large egg
2-4 tablespoons cold water


1. Mix together flour, herbs and salt in a medium bowl.

2. Slice in small chunks of butter and mix into flour mixture with a fork until crumbly.

3. Whisk the egg in a small bowl and add 3 tablespoons of it into the dough.  Keep the rest for brushing onto the crust.

4. Add 1 tablespoon water, mix well, then add another tablespoon water and mix well continue adding water like this until dough can be made into a ball.

Wrap in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge until pot pie filling is ready.

Leftover Turkey Pot Pie filling (gluten-free)

Please don't follow this to a T as everyone has a different amount of leftovers, : )

Remove meat from leftover turkey bones and put the bones in a pot of water to just cover, bring it to a boil and then simmer for roughly 1/2 hour...in the meantime

- cut-up leftover turkey meat (approx. 2 cups)
-cut-up leftover cooked veggies and/or add frozen mixed veggies to make roughly 2 1/2 cups
- remove bones from water, remove 2 cups of the water ( freeze that for use later)
- optional, I add an envelope of gluten-free gravy mix or any leftover gravy (although, I can't say there has ever been any leftover gravy?) and whisk that into the water. 
- season to taste with salt and pepper.
-add the turkey and veggies to the pot and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.

-butter inside of 1.8-litre casserole (or 9x9 square pan)

-Add vegetables and turkey to the pan with a slotted spoon, sprinkle salt and pepper on top.
- Preheat oven to 400℉ 

Now for the Crust

1. Roll out dough on a floured piece of parchment paper to easily lift and flip over pie.

2. Decorate with leftover dough (a great way to cover flaws)

3. brush top with leftover egg.

Place in preheated 400°F oven, middle rack.

Cook for 35-40 minutes until the crust is a golden color and you can hear the filling bubbling.

Serve with leftover cranberry sauce and gravy if you like.  Enjoy

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Monday, 14 October 2019

Thanksgiving Weekend

I love Thanksgiving weekend.  Besides being thankful, which I am, it has so many other meanings.  It's a day where I can finally accept that summer is done.  It was such a wonderful summer this year, next to no huge upheavals and traumas.  My dad was healthy-ish, the kids were happy, the sun was out but it was the first time in a looooooooong time that I actually felt bored ?!  I turned 52 and am officially in menopause, two of my kids are in college, the youngest is in grade ten.  I find myself in a place where I'm no longer in charge of my kids lives, they want a lot from me but I don't seem to have any clout anymore.  It is a weird place to be.  Like this blog, I find myself jumping back and forth and all over the place trying to find a purpose or goal.....

Things I am Thankful For

1.  Always my kids
2. My patient and funny husband
3. My faithful dog Bella
4. My moodie cats Teddy and Fozzy
5. My dads interactive moments
6. My friends
7.  The beautiful fall colors
8. Falls windy and clean air
9. Pumpkin pie 
10. Red wine
11.  Thanksgiving dinner leftovers!
12. Bumblebees, butterflies and birds
13. The comfort of my home

and I could go on.  How about you?

The flooding of Unexpected emotions

Ever have one of those days that you think are fine, getting stuff accomplished, arriving on time to appointments, remembering to brush hai...