Thursday, May 10, 2012

Balancing act

I've been getting up every morning to walk. I had one minor fiasco when I realized I had set my alarm for a one time thing and got up too late. I did attempt to walk that afternoon but being outside of my routine I forgot to use my inhaler before setting out and forgot to bring one with me as well. I managed to trigger an asthma attack and limped back home instead of finishing what I started. II said I deserved credit for simply putting my shoes on and attempting it. I felt better realizing later that I had actually made it halfway through the walk, despite my mistake. Wasn't quite what I was hoping for, but at least it's still moving and pushing ahead. So, this morning J showed up in the bed at 3 am. He is awaiting an appointment with a Pediatric Pulmonologist because he shows clear signs of asthma as well, and since moving this spring it has gotten worse. He was supposed to have his appointment in September. However, smart mother that I am, I made his appointment with M's Pulmonologist. II spoke to his nurse yesterday and he's willing to work J in after M's appointment in June. For now, we use the rescue inhaler and half of my adult dosage of nebulized medications when he needs to use the nebulizer. The pediatrician threw the prescription for the rescue inhaler on our way out of our last state because it was the fastest and easiest way to help him breath until I could get him to a specialist. This morning he was coughing and puking and wheezing. II held him while he coughed the rest of the night. When the alarm went off at 5:20, we were hoping he would fall back asleep and we could sneak out to walk. Instead he went hysterical on us. So, we made the spot decision. Exercise, even for the most noble of causes, can wait. Sick children come first. I'll walk this evening. This time, I will remember my inhaler so I can walk the entire route. Nothing is so important that I leave a sick baby hysterical to do it, not even my health. Exercise in the evening is still exercise and this morning my baby needed me to hold him a little longer. These are the hats I wear. Sometimes I can focus on me, but other times I have to focus on those who need me. I am a mother, just as I am many other things. Motherhood has been the defining role of my life. My journey to find me came from trying to find a space where I could see me inside of the motherhood. It wasn't able setting aside that motherhood but finding a balance that allows me to be me and not merely someone's mother. Sometimes, the balance goes the other direction and I still really do have to set aside my own desires, needs, wants, or identity to simply be someone's mother. I've been doing the mothering thing a lot this week, and I have to do it alot more before my week is over. It is what it is. So long as I don't forget that I'm still in there, the balance will come back to center again eventually. It was when I forgot that I lost myself in the role.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I hurt

For the last 15 months, I have woken up almost every single night with my back burning. The pain has been so bad that I have to leave the bed and finish the night in our Pappassan chair (thank you Pier One) so that I can put my back in a neutral position and stretch out the burning. When I started having weekly massage, the pain went away. However, it came back a week later and even the massages aren't totally getting rid of it. I won't see a Chiropractor for it. The last time I tried that, I couldn't walk for a month until I stopped seeing the Chiro, who was supposed to help it. I've always had back problems The curve in my lower spine curves much like a gymnast's, except mine is genetic. When I was smaller, I could use strength training and lots of walking to keep my back healthy. Ever since I had three epidural insertions with J's birth, everything I could do to manage that back pain has been pointless. I've been at the mercy of the pain when it comes and stay at it's mercy until it goes away on it's own. It's been here for 15 months and just not getting better. Yesterday, I had the brillant idea that I would use the Pappassan to hold the overflowing clean laundry while I work to try and get it caught up. That meant that last night I didn't have the chair to go stretch my back in. By sunrise, I was in so much pain I could barely move. So, I threw some clothes on, tossed my hair back, grabbed a water bottle and sweater (it was in the 30s here this morning) and went walking. By the time I was 2/3 of the way through my walk, my back was starting to move and not burn so badly. It still hurts. It still hurts pretty badly, but it's better than it's been in awhile once the pain starts. I'm hoping a warm shower will help as well. I really do think if I focus myself to move when I hurt instead of curling up and hiding, then I might help this pain somewhat. I just don't have time in my life to be stopped by pain. Everyone around me keeps telling me that I have to take care of myself. Really, I try. However, when it gets like it is today, I don't have time to stop and be IN pain. Today, I have too much to do. I have to conquer that chair of clean laundry. The children wash and dry the laundry. I sort and fold it and then they put it away. If I have anyone else sort it, they do strange sorting and everyone loses clothing. So, I'm the only person who can do that sorting process. II doesn't know which clothes belong to whom anymore than the kids or the nanny do. It's my job, and it's one job I cannot delegate. It's piled up right now because I ran all last week and my laundry hero for the week didn't wash the stuff. So, this week's laundry hero has to wash a ton to catch the clean clothes up, and I have to sort and sort and sort until I want to pull my hair out. It's the only option. In addition to Mt. St. Laundry, we're doing work on M's bedroom. We thought we had it secured well when we moved here. He's autistic with major behavioral issues and the medical advantage that he can have his behaviors. He has bad habits involving body fluids--all of his body fluids. His room had carpet in it. So, we've pulled all of the carpet up. Underneath was old tile. We weren't sure how old the tile was until this morning. Whomever laid that tile floor put newspaper between it and the old hardwood. The newspaper was dated November 1945. The hardwoods don't need sanded. However, they need to be scrubbed well, any loose boards secured. Then, II is staining his hardwoods and sealing them with polyurethene. I know there are more environmentally sound options. However, poly is the only option that keeps hardwoods safe from M. Poly hardwood survives M quite well. Nothing else really does. We have to re-do the acrylic casing in front of his window. M also has a habit of destroying windows. So we cover the entire windowframe in acrylic so protect him. It wasn't secured quite as much as it needed to do for M's needs, so we'll reattach it properly. Then, we're painting his baby gate. M has to have a homemade baby gate. It's basically a dutch door made of plywood. We didn't paint it when we moved it. Raw plywood does not wash M's bodily fluids off well. This morning while II is working on those hardwoods, I will be painting M's babygate with a high gloss fire engine red paint. Red is M's favorite color. He'll like the color of his safety gate, and we'll like how easily those bodily fluids wash off of the high gloss shine. This afternoon, someone gave our family tickets to the circus. We took the kids for the first time a year ago. Now, we're going to take them again. It's odd. People find out about M and they gift us with things to bless us. At this point in the process, I don't try to stop anyone. Every bit of joy that can be given to these children is something they should have. I remind myself that the days of joy with M are running low. We need to embrace them as much as we can.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Slight modification

So, I'm trying to understand my body, my past, and the labels that I've allowed to shape my understanding of me for so long. In a dicussion of my son with Dyspraxia, I realized that I have the same major symptom he has....and Dyspraxia would explain so much of my own challenges with exercise in my lifetime. With Dyspraxia, it's not that you cannot exercise, which is something I've sought to teach my son. It's something you need to be aware of. It helps you understand why your diaphragm starts to hurt with exercise. In my case, I cannot recall ever having that pain in my diaphragm that isn't also accompanied by coughing and asthma. In walking this morning to just start moving, I treated the asthma. Eight minutes into the walk, I had that pain in my diaphragm anyway, but no coughing and gasping and wanting to puke. Well, that certainly explains why I would rather poke my eyeballs out than run. Even when I was young and in terrific shape, I preferred gentle exercise. I used to walk three miles every morning, but if I was expected to jog or run it was horrible. I hiked long, complicated mountain trails, but weight lifting had to be built up very, very slowly. In that case, a couch to 5K program is not going to be a good option for me. Running may be something I can do, but it's not going to be something I can jump into immediately. With Dyslexia, you have to build endurance. You have to start slowing, don't stop when you feel the pain in the diapragm per se, but slow down until the pain subsides, and continue to build tolerance every day. Instead of the couch to 5K, I'm going to approach this differently. I discovered this morning that my doggy loves to go for walks. It's a bumpy country road here, so it's perfect for walking. When I headed out the drive-way, Lady Jane came running to me and whined to come with us. The entire time we walked, she kept checking on me. She'll make an excellent companion for my exercise. Plus, the vet told me before that the best thing I could do for my Golden Retriever doggy on her beagle body is to keep her at the lower end of her weight scale so that she can avoid the typical beagle aging issues from the weight. With the Golden Retriever part of her, she's broad and inclined towards the upper end of her weight scale but her poor beagle legs and spine are going to respond just like a beagle legs and spine would for a fat beagle. So, walking with me will be good for her and for me. II typically exercises in high intensity. He stopped when we moved here because it took time away from the family, but he needs to exercise for his health and well being. He also misses going to the gym and pushing his body. Right now, he's walking with me. My legs are something like a third as long as his. Even when I was in great physical shape, he had to crawl to stay at my pace. It's not real exercise for him. However, for now, he wants to be with me. I'm sure he wants to watch over me. Given how shot my lungs are from the asthma, and given what I've realized about the Dyspraxia, I cannot argue that a human walking partner is a good idea for me right now. The goal is to set aside the running training program for now. Every day until Labor Day, I'm going to get up every morning and walk for around thirty minutes. Today, we set the marker for where I will walk to. Given how out of shape I am, I expect it will take more than thirty minutes for the next week or two, but I have a visual marker for my pace. It puts me at 1.1 miles to start out. I'll walk to my marker at my pace, then turn around and go home. When I can do that and it's consistently less than the 30 minutes, then I'll push to a new marker point. On weekdays, II and I will get up at 5:20 and he'll walk with me. By Labor Day, the sun will be rising later around here. I'll have a habit formed, and my lungs and dyspraxia should be rehabilitating. At that point, I'll push my walk time to 6:40 for the school year. The early bus kids have to be at the road at 6:40 to catch their bus. When I send them to catch the bus, Lady Jane and I will go for our walk. They get a LOT of snow in this area. Sometime this winter, I might have to put a treadmill in my bedroom for days that I cannot navigate around the snow. However, I'm going to walk even in the cold of winter. At that point, II will go back to the gym. That's where he enjoys working out, and there's one very close to his job. Once he knows Lady Jane and I have our routine and my lungs are working better, then he can go work out and shower there, and leave Lady Jane to watch over me in the mornings. Having her expecting to have her morning walk will be as much a motivation to keep me going as having him to nudge me out the door this summer once I'm in the habit of it. I can re-evaluate later and possible add more exercise. However, I'm not doing this to get into shape. I'm not doing this to lose weight. I'm doing this because aerobic exercise is one of the few things you can do to improve asthma. I need to rehabilitate my lungs. This is something I can do. I need to respect my body. I need to recognize that exercise and well being is not a one size fits all proposal. I've always known that I do better with walking, hiking, dancing, and slowly building weight training. I've just accepted the explanation that I do better with this because I'm still lazy and out of shape even when I'm consistently exercising and in shape. Now I realize, I do better with this style of exercise because I am a unique individual with unique challenges that I need to acknowledge and accomodate for. It's not out of shape to walk three miles a day. It's simply NOT. I wasn't out of shape simply because it hurt to run those three miles when I could walk them in an hour. So, I'll honor my body and realize that exercise can look any number of ways for different people. This is how it needs to look for me. Walking is aerobic if you walk at least a mile. It still rehabilitates my lungs without running.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Might be crazy

I just suggested to II that we get up at 5:20 every morning (he normally gets up at 5:40 these days and I normally get up at 6 to wake the early bus riders) and we start a couch to 5K program. I just learned that there are podcasts to go with the program. Now that I'm not using my rescue inhaler daily, I really want to focus on exercise again. While I could definitely use it for weight loss and lifestyle issues, what I am most concerned about is rehabilitating my lungs. The vast majority of my thyroid symptoms appear to have calmed down with the switch to Armour Thyroid. The new asthma meds are doing well for controlling my asthma. However, I don't want to spend the rest of my life worried that every cold will knock me out and require oral steriods just so I can breath again. So, I've been debating something for exercise out here in the country. We don't have sidewalks, but half of my neighbors walk, jog, or run on these country roads every day. Normally, I've always been a walker, just a straight out walker. It may prove to be that I need to just stick to the walking. I have horrific memories of high school gym where I was forced to run a mile every week and was wheezing and gasping for air, feeling like I was going to suffocate and pass out. I'm not sure why my gym teachers never recognized that I was having asthma attacks. However, I accepted a label that I was lazy and incapable of running. I don't want to accept that label anymore. II needs running shoes. So, he's going to buy them this weekend and we're going to start this on Monday. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I will wake the early bus riders then walk solo. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday we'll do the C25K, which means we only have to get up at 5:20 twice a week. II does well when he exercises three times per week, especially with the stress he's under at work. I know me. If I let myself not exercise more than one day per week, I stop doing it. I like walking. I like the alone time. So, three days per week I will simply walk (unless I actually CAN learn to run and eventually will work up to running), three days we'll train together, and one day I will rest. I may regret this, but I need to exercise for my health, not merely for my weight struggles. I have to start somewhere. I'm assuming that I will likely have to take more than the nine weeks normally recommended. However, II is going to sign us up for a 5K for Labor Day. So, I have until Labor Day to at least be able to job a 5K even if I cannot fully run it. If I start the habit now, then when the weather gets cold and dark, I will already have the habit established....even if I have to buy a treadmill for winter weather.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Going back to school

I'm going back to school this fall. Not really a surprise. My Bachelor's degree was only a stepping stone in my career goals from the get-go, so it's no surprise that I'm taking the next step. However, the next step is RN-BSN. I hold an Associates in Nursing but my Bachelor's is in Sociology. When I went back, I didn't think my nursing could be salvaged. I wasn't certain I wanted to be a nurse again. It was easier to finish the first Bachelor's in Sociology than try to salvage the nursing when I wasn't even certain where I was going. I'm still torn on where to go. On one hand, I dearly want a PhD in Sociology, to become a college professor and to teach. On the other hand, I realized I love nursing and I have a tremendous gift with mental health care. I'm still not certain which path I'm going to turn down. However, I'm leaning heavily towards the PMHN, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, program. Whichever path I follow, I have to take my GRE by fall and apply for graduate school by January. However if I want to pursue the nurse practitioner route, I have to do one step that is really essential. I have to complete the Bachelor's in Nursing. Any Masters program I could pursue would require I earn it en route, and many programs are unattainable to me without the BSN in the first place. While it might be less helpful if I opt for the PhD in Sociology, it is still a smart decision to complete it. With my Bachelor's in Sociology, the BSN becomes a second Bachelors and I only require the upper division nursing coursework. For about 30 hours of nursing classes, I can have my BSN locked in and forever held if want to expand upon it or not. It's just a smart decision to finish the BSN. However, with M's current health issues, attending a classroom option is risky. I truly cannot predict what will happen with M in the next year and what won't. I wanted to continue my educational pursuits, but I don't want to jeopardize them with M's medical needs, nor neglect M's medical needs. The best option was to pursue an online RN-BSN program for the next year. I'm not about to consider a for-profit school; I'll save my diatribe about such programs for when someone directly asks my opinion. I needed a reputable option from a non-profit College or University. I would prefer a public option, as I don't like the costs of private school tuition when I know I have graduate school beyond this to accomplish. I had several options. They do exist. Most of the state schools which offer online bridge programs have clinical requirements that you must arrange locally yourself. With the children and their specialists, I expect I can accomplish clinicals without significant difficulties. I will work the connections I have in the medical community for preceptorships. However, about half of the options I could identify require you have taken a Statistcs class before admissions. Well, that may be fine and danddy for the standard nursing student who happily takes statistics to avoid College Calculus. However, I already have Calculus. When I went back for the Sociology degree, my college entrance test scores were "expired" by the school and I was required to take College Algebra to meet the math requirements. I didn't take a Statistics course. I did take multiple semesters of Sociology Research Methods, which is more advanced research and stastistical work than a Statistics class is. However, generally you have to appeal to get it to meet the Stats requirement in most programs. The one I applied to openly stated they accept any Social Science Research Methods in lieu of Statistics, so I felt it would be easier than having to go take statistics. Saturday, I recieved a letter from the program I applied to stating that I was rejected due to inadequate academic requirements. I had no idea what they meant by that and was completely confused since by their published admissions criteria I more than adequately met their standards. Yesterday, I called them for clarification. It wasn't the statistics class at all. It was the Microbiology class I feared didn't show up on the transcript as it should have. Nope, they required a "C+" in all nursing coursework and a cummulative GPA of 2.8. Way back when, I did earn two Cs in Nursing courses. I was burned out and ready to give up. In my last two semesters, I missed the B that should have been easy by less than two points. I distinctly argued my last semester since my grade was less than a point from the B, merely that the professor round up and not down. I lost the argument. However, my school did not grade on a +/-system. I cannot prove those two grades were "C+" when that grade did not exist at my school. Then, because those two classes were nine hour classes, those two Cs tanked my GPA. I graduated with a 2.71. I wasn't proud of that GPA but back then I truly had quit caring. Yes, well, I went back and I corrected that issue. When I graduated with my Bachelor's in December, my cummulative was 3.41. I made Dean's List twice in my return, missed it the summer because it wasn't awarded and in the other two semesters because of ONE B each semester. I was inducted into the Criminal Justice and Sociology Honors Societies. Clearly, the sum of my academic abilities today is far better gleaned from my current GPA and not the one I graduated nursing school with so long ago. I don't even understand WHY they were taking my graduating GPA since their criteria stated cummulative GPA. So, the admissions coordinator told me if I could track down my actual number grade in those two nursing classes, as well as the grading scale for those classes--to prove it wasn't an +/- system. If I could prove that my Cs would have been C+, then they would discuss whether they would accept my current GPA instead of the one I graduated nursing school with. This morning, I got another phone call. The admissions coordinator took my file to the Director of Nursing this morning. The Director of Nursing says she doesn't care whether I pulled Cs or C+s in those classes. She says my academic performance in the last two years more than sufficiently shows what I am capable of at this point, including their program. I am unofficially admitted into the program. It is unofficial because I accidentally forgot to sent the transcript of the Astronomy class I took as a transient student last fall, and to officially admit me they need transcripts of ALL of my former college work. As soon as they recieve that transcript, then I will be officially accepted. It goes without saying that I already submitted for that transcript to be sent. Hopefully they will recieve it next week and I might have my official acceptance letter by next weekend. I am going back to school. This time I will lock in my BSN, while deciding what I'm going to do for graduate school. It's a strong, solid step in my career and education regardless of what path I take afterward. It is also flexible enough that I can accomplish it while still being available for M and his siblings through the season we are in now.