Way Down We Go

I was eight, sitting at the top of the stairs on the nasty blue carpeting that infested nearly all 70s era houses. I’d been crying all day, my stomach in knots, and I couldn’t formulate any response to “What’s wrong?” I didn’t KNOW what was wrong, only that it was probably me and most definitely my fault. My friends never cried for weeks on end – or if they did, they didn’t spill their (embarrassing) beans to me, unable to eat or sleep or feel that they could ever possibly feel safe. Their stomachs probably were never tied up in so many knots that they felt like barfing at a moment’s notice. But I did. All day, every day.

I was powerless against these feelings.

But it was late, and I wasn’t supposed to be out of bed, but I couldn’t sleep, so 11PM found me sitting on the top of the stairs, quietly weeping, to no one in particular. I simply could not handle laying in my bed a single moment longer, hot and itchy, scared, my pillow drenched in tears. I tried to be quiet, listening to the murmurs of my family talking below, knowing that if I got caught on the stairs, I’d get yelled and and forced back into my horrible bed. Eventually, my brother – 18 years old – came home and saw me at the top of the stairs. He mocked my weeping for a bit (cry-baby) until he realized that I wasn’t whining about not getting my way and his face went slack. He slowly climbed those disgusting stairs until he approached the landing.

“What’s wrong?” he asked in a kinder way than he ever normally spoke to me and it was this kindness that opened the floodgates. I became hysterical. I didn’t exactly KNOW what was wrong and I had no idea how to make it better. All I knew is that I didn’t want to be alive anymore. So I told him, “I want to die.” It was the plain, simple truth: I no longer wanted to live. It wasn’t because I hated school, which I’d initially blamed it on (my teacher was an ass), but something far deeper: complete and total self-loathing.

This was my first nervous breakdown.

My confession flew my parents into a tizzy of making appointments with doctors, therapists, and everything in between. That tiny, small confession turned my world upside down. As years passed, I saw a slew of therapists and learned how to say the things they wanted to hear, not because I was self-defeating, but because I liked the way they seemed to be genuinely proud of me. I “made progress” with the therapists until they decided that BAM, I’d been cured.

I wasn’t.

November of 1994 found me, once again, desperate to end my life. I’d been broken up with by a guy I’d *pink-puffy-hearted* loved and in reaction, I didn’t see any reason to continue. This time, though, I decided to end it. Swallowing a bottle of Prozac (which likely wouldn’t have killed me anyway), I realized how stupid I’d been and called my best friend. Off we went to the hospital and there, I vomited so hard that I was amazed my organs were still intact.

In that way, I had my second nervous breakdown.

Afterward, my parents twittered around and got me a new therapist and psychiatrist, neither of whom were worth a damn, much as they tried. I spent the next few months in bed, unable to care enough to get up or go out. I missed scads of school. I took my meds and eventually returned to the real world (no, not the show).

The depression was kept at bay for a good many years. I called it remission, but I never thought about it returning. But, because depression is a wily fucker and determined to fuck your shit up, it’s plagued me for most of my life.

I’d quit taking my antidepressants after I’d gotten pregnant with Alex – the doctor made it clear that it could be dangerous for my kid, after Alex was born, I didn’t even recognize post-partum depression for what it was. Instead, I caught myself weeping in the kitchen day after day because the ice-maker had stopped working. It felt like my best friend had died, I wept and mourned the damn thing for about a week before I realized that being THAT upset about an ice-maker was absurd. Back to the doctor I went, and the next day, I had some new antidepressants.

That was like a quarter of a nervous breakdown, but had I waited, I’m certain it would have been a particularly bad episode. Depression is sneaky like that.

I’d had a nervous breakdown at the end my of marriage for Dave,* and after he decided we should get a divorce, I was a wreck. Not a cute, wipe-the-eyes-daintily kind of wreck, I had no fainting couch, I was a huge slobbery, disgusting mess. After witnessing and living with my own mother’s breakdowns and hysteria, I realized that I needed to get away from them for their own sake. While I should’ve hearkened back to my over-the-top reaction to that damn ice-maker, I was not in my right mind. Now I know that I should’ve checked myself into an inpatient psychiatric unit, but at the time, my brain felt like the neurons bouncing back and forth – I went by gut instinct (which NEVER fails, right?) and moved out. I had no money, no job, a huge addiction to pain pills to contend with, and no time or room to get through this bad patch of depression. It was impulse after impulse.*

And it was a colossal mistake.

I paid a steep price for it. While I maintained our joint custody arrangement, on the days when the kids weren’t around (Monday and Tuesday), I was positively a fucking mess. Days would turn into nights and then back into days and I could barely get off the couch to urinate. Every single second felt worse than the ones before it and I was utterly convinced that I was the biggest, ugliest, worst person ever born. I was a failure. It’s no wonder Dave wanted a divorce – I mean, why hadn’t he gotten one sooner? I was an unfit parent and even more an unfit human.

As the depression grew, the addiction flourished. Once the pain pills didn’t work, I added Ketamine* (prescribed as a part of a numbing cream by my doctor). For a long time. In that time, I alienated people, I lost friends, lost my pride, and my dignity. I didn’t hate – I LOATHED – myself. Didn’t care if I lived or died. Hoped that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning. Even on medication, I was insane. I knew it and I had no idea how to stop.

The day before I fractured my leg for the first time, I’d finally realized that I needed help. Real help. I needed to get off drugs and reclaim my life.

The very next afternoon, I fractured my femur. Standing up in the living room of my apartment, talking to my friend, it broke. The feeling is indescribable (and for another time). Pain pills became necessary, especially when it broke again, and yet again before I got the diagnosis: hyperparathyroidism. By that time, I’d lost most of what I loved my life: my job, my ability to walk, my apartment, my kids, and my dignity.* Depression mixed with addiction creates a hole so deep and dark, you cannot see the light. The dragon had slayed me.

I tried to take my own life once again after I became homeless. The worst thing? I cannot even remember a bit of it. I don’t remember driving to the pharmacy, I don’t remember the pills, I don’t remember being resuscitated. In fact, I have no idea who I could thank for preventing my death.

Months later, I woke up on the psych floor, bedsores on my ankles, and 70 pounds thinner. After intense therapy and a change of meds (along with daily ECT), I was fortunate enough to – for the first time, ever – feel like might just be worth living, after all. I learned to walk, first with a walker, then with a cane, then with my own feet. I got a job I loved and fell in love with an old friend. Now? My life couldn’t be better (unless I had a pony).*

Why the fuck am I yapping this at you?

First Kate Spade and now Anthony Bourdain. They’re both dead. This week. Their demons had taken over and they didn’t see another way out. And I’d be willing to bet a good bunch of you also understand the darkness and the battle against it. I know that I do. And I bothered writing out these words because I very much want to let those of you still in the thick of it that things do change. Life goes on. You can too. Maybe not today or tomorrow or even in a year, but things do – as they are wont to – change.

If you’re feeling like you’re alone, you’re not. I’ve got your back and I’m a hell of a scrappy bitch. I’m also working to get Band Back Together up and running. It was hacked and I’ve not been able to fix it… yet.

You do matter, you are so so so loved, and we are, after all, none of us alone. Depression lies.

If you’re truly feeling like hurting yourself or others, please please please call the Suicide Hotline in your country.

Argentina: +5402234930430

Australia: 131114

Austria: 017133374

Belgium: 106

Bosnia & Herzegovina: 080 05 03 05

Botswana: 3911270

Brazil: 212339191

Canada: 5147234000 (Montreal); 18662773553 (outside Montreal)

Croatia: 014833888

Denmark: +4570201201

Egypt: 7621602

Finland: 010 195 202

France: 0145394000

Germany: 08001810771

Holland: 09000767

Hong Kong: +852 2382 0000

Hungary: 116123

India: 8888817666

Ireland: +4408457909090

Italy: 800860022

Japan: +810352869090

Mexico: 5255102550

New Zealand: 045861048

Norway: +4781533300

Philippines: 028969191

Poland: 5270000

Russia: 0078202577577

Spain: 914590050

South Africa: 0514445691

Sweden: 46317112400

Switzerland: 143

United Kingdom: 08457909090

USA: 18002738255

* I will expound annoying on these juicy items at a later time.

The Beginning in the End

Hold your nose, ’cause here goes the cold water

When I started blogging in the Dark Ages of the Blog, most of the blogs I came across were on LiveJournal, which is sorta like the Facebook of today. People posted pictures of their food, vaguely-directed passive aggressive insults to (presumably) other LiveJournal users, and various GIFs. There was very little of the actual person represented, which I found somewhat tedious: tell me your juicy stories, tell me what you’re really going through – I didn’t want the made-for-television version of, well, you and your life. I wanted the unsanitized truth, not perfect pictures of perfect families living perfect lives with expertly executed decor in their perfect house. If I needed to feel badly about my highly imperfect self, I’d have picked up a magazine.

Sometime while I was sleeping or eating cheeseburgers or both, it all changed. Blogs (or the blogs I stumbled across) became substantive. I learned – really learned – about the lives of these people. I mean, their lives stripped away from the pretense of achieving perfection. When I’d find a particularly awesome blog, I’d start at the very beginning and work my way to the present – creepers or not, I felt like I’d gotten a window into someone else’s life, internet voyeurism at it’s finest. Good or bad, I felt like I knew these people and was easily entangled with their daily lives.

Until, they’d just… stop.

I’d seen it all, from how they like their morning eggs, to how much they loathe their in-laws, to their biggest insecurities, and then …. radio silence. I wanted to know more, and if I couldn’t have that, whelp, I wanted to hear the end. A neat summary of why they’d stopped blogging. I mean, yeah, sure, they’d make the occasional return to blogging Christmas-card style: bullet points, updates, and follow-ups, but you could tell that their heart was simply no longer in it.

When I took to Mommy Wants Vodka, I couldn’t imagine the idea of an “end.” People’d ask me, “why do you blog?” and my answer was usually something along the lines of “I can’t NOT.” My compulsive nature took over and writing was simply something that I just did.

When my life took a swift veer into the shitty, I, too, slowly stopped. It didn’t fulfill me. It made me anxious. It made me unhappy. It scared me. Between my divorce and my rampant drug use, I simply had nothing more to say. My words were gone, my life was in shambles, and every time I bounced to the bottom, there was an even worse, more gruesome bottom for me to hit.

And my blog succumbed to the fate that so many others had before me. It was over. Done. Fin. (insert some other foreign words for “piece of shit”)

It’s bothered me ever since.

There’s some quote or something literary that goes something like “if you hate where you ended, keep going.” Actually, I think it’s more like, “if you don’t like the ending, then it’s not the end” which sounds a bit clunky to me, if I’m being honest.

Which is why I’m back. To put something to bed that should’ve been done a long time ago. I need to give this battered old bag ‘o’ bones a proper send-off. Can’t say when or where it’ll end, because I’m not done yet.

I’m only getting started.

 

——–

 

That early, early morning, the July sun filtered languidly through the windows in the basement of the church, where we sat waiting for (what I called) “Marriage Class.” I looked at Dave, half rolled my eyes and he smiled at me. Not a child of the church myself, churches made me anxious – I always felt that in church, God, or the priest, or the hobo outside would scowl down at me for not being “chosen,” or “Godly,” or “good enough” to walk those hallowed halls. It’s kinda like that when you grow up having been baptized in a stream while Joan Baez sang tinnily from the boombox: you’re always outside looking into The Church. You can’t sing along at funerals, your idea of prayers at dinner include the always-catchy “Good food, good meat, good God let’s eat,” and you NEVER quite get when precisely you’re to bow your head or say an “Amen.” When we’d decided to get married in a church, this Marriage Class was part of the requirement, and there we sat, itchy and feeling decidedly UN-holy, waiting for the end of the class the moment we sat down.

If I am being completely honest, despite my discomfort with Church Things, the class was a good idea. It wasn’t all “RESPECT THY HUSBAND AND THE TINY BABY JESUS;” it was more about learning navigating life with another person, which, as you all know, is harder than nailing Jello to the wall, but we were bored. We’d already done the co-habitation, the kid-rearin’, and the Life Plan (tho my goal is “don’t die,” so perhaps I am not the best person to make any sort of plan with) and we’d both become well-versed on the way that nothing quite goes as planned. Three painful, boring, dusty hours later, we were handed a test. I squeed with joy – fresh out of nursing school and my NCLEX victory – I love tests. Pink-puffy hearts. I love tests so fucking much that our marriage would’ve likely had a quite different turnout if everything was multiple choice.

Alas.

This was a personality test, so while there were technically no wrong answers, I deeply understood that some choices were simply better than others. I gave a “I’m gonna win this shit SO HARD” sneer to Dave, who laughed, before saying, “I’m gonna kick your ass SO HARD.” He choked on his now-cold coffee, snorting it up his nose. “We’ll see,” he bantered back.

When I graded my test (SO easy! Stupid Meyers-Briggs! SAD!) I was left with a bunch of letters. Four of them: ENFP. I was singularly unimpressed. Dave got some other ones, I can’t recall which, and we compared notes, which seemed as good as any a way to pass the time when everyone else was still taking the test. We did a minor victory dance, gloated at what was certain to be the best test compatibility in the history of EVER and waited to hear the interpretation of the (teacher? pastor? priest?). After what felt like an hour and a half (it was 12 minutes), he made his way to us, and I preened as he read over our tests, his forehead creased and flickered very briefly. I looked to Dave for reassurance but he hadn’t noticed. What did that flicker mean? Were we extra awesome? Were we a terrible match?

The (teacher? pastor? priest?) tried to assure us that we’d be okay … probably. He explained in elusive terms like “connection” and “mutual interests” that confused me more than reassured me. He mentioned “opposites” and “attracting” but warned us that things could be tough for us, which I quickly compensated to mean “we’d overcome ALL THE THINGS.”

I mean, what couple goes into a marriage expecting it to blow up? No one truly wants to believe in divorce.

But, like all things nasty in life: child loss, miscarriage, mental illness, abuse, rape, chronic illness, and cancer (to name a quite narrow few), you don’t believe it’s going to happen to you, because you can’t believe it could. Like you’ll live forever without the nastier bits and complications because you’re special, well, you’re going to have a long fall from that high horse.

I can assure you that I did.

And it took me a hell of a long time to truly get back up.

Life marches ever forward.

In most endings, there is also a beginning.

This is mine.

The Bitch Is Back

Late September, 2015, changed my  life forever.

I was standing at the door of my apartment, talking to my friend – and neighbor – Tanya. I can see the moment that altered the course of, well, EVERYTHING as clear as day. It was dusk and a beautiful, clear night. She was getting ready for a visit to Florida and we chatted about Disney World – which, for as much of a badass that I am, I fucking love. I was in the middle of defending why Epcot was full of the awesome when it happened.

It felt like a gunshot had gone off inside my leg.

I felt the bone crack. There are no words to describe how it feels when the biggest, strongest bone in your body breaks.

Grasping for something, anything to break my fall, I grabbed Tanya.

And I began screaming.

I didn’t stop until they gave me something in the Emergency Department.

Emergency surgery made my femur bionic. It also infected me with a group D streptococcus bacterium.

Rehab followed the surgery and, in looking back, did not help in the slightest. The rehabilitation center kept me for a week, not the month I should’ve had, but not knowing any better, I was just glad to come home. Until, of course I got home. I was in such agony that I could barely move, let alone DO anything for myself, which is especially hard when, y’know, you LIVE by yourself.

I went back to work a couple of days after I returned home. I was summarily fired on a technicality I knew nothing about. I’d been preparing for it – another one of the nurses had been fired for going on FMLA (not, of course for taking it – that would make it illegal! – but on a technicality. Same old song and dance.

There were bits and blurbs I can remember from October to December, but really, most of that time was erased from my memory banks. I was told that in cases of severe stress and pain, our brain (thankfully) “forgets” those times. Permanently. I do remember that every time I went to see the orthopedic doctor who’d performed my surgery, my leg made no progress toward healing. I do know, thanks to my Facebook feed, that I, much like Chicago’s voters, I fell early and I fell often.

At the beginning of December, I fell again. This time, there was no cute Facebook post whining about a fall. This time is completely black. I can remember waking my child with my screams. He called 911. I remember parts of the ambulance ride and what I described in the post below.

What I now know is that my orthopedic doctor called in a trauma surgeon to treat me. I’d managed snap the titanium rod into pieces. And, as a precaution, both my femur and the hardware were swabbed for bacteria.

My second femur break:

I didn’t wake up following the second surgery.

I didn’t wake up for weeks.

I ran extremely high fevers.

I was septic. No one knew why.

9 days after the surgery, the cultures taken by my infectious disease doctor grew a rare form of Strep D. They pumped me full of more antibiotics and prayed they weren’t too late.

Nothing.

ECT snapped me out of it, albeit slowly. When questioned as to why that happens, I was reminded that the brain is a mysterious organ and the exact reasons behind my awakening were unclear.

They used the term “miracle” a lot.

Once my fevers cleared, I was sent to a rehab facility located in a nursing home. I remained in and out of consciousness (in this world, at least). Finally, I became aware in the middle of January.

I came home in the middle of February, alone. While the rehab facility strongly suggested having someone else with me, no one really wanted THAT job. As frustrated as I was, it was – by far – the best thing I could’ve done. I’ve gone from being dependent upon my walker (who I named Mrs. Hernandez) to walking alone, even though I walk like I’m drunk 8373% of the time (which, of course, is NOTHING NEW TO ME).

At my most recent ortho appointment, he showed me the x-rays taken minutes before. See all that swirly stuff? That’s BONE, bitches! I done got me some motherfucking BONE GROWTH! (I’d use more exclamation points but I tend to multiple exclamation points only when being ironic and/or obnoxious)

Now? If you can read this, the bitch is, indeed, back.

And? It feels fucking divine.

Cane YOU

Growing up, we always had a spot for canes – or “walking sticks” as my father referred to them as – by the front door. While I’m certain that other people had cane holders like we did, I recall being baffled that my friends all thought it was weird.

As I recall, these canes were highly ornate and boasted these beautiful gold filigree handles. I couldn’t understand how exactly my father used them on his nightly walks without screwing up the gold (gold is a naturally soft metal) but they always managed to stay intact.

fancy gold walking stick

Sort of like this – only prettier.

This assortment of walking sticks helped tremendously when we played dress-up: pretend you’re a 1920s gangster and the cane was used as a Tommy gun.* Or a pretentious poet who used o!, and, despite being very thoroughly American, added a “U’ into words like color in an non-ironic way. Or you used it as a “shovel” while “mining for gold.”

When I got older and popped out a few crotch parasites, House, MD made canes and Vicodin cool. This helps tremendously, well, NOW.

After the hospital, I went to a old people home to receive twice-daily IV antibiotics and physical therapy. When I was relearning to walk, I realized that my right leg was shorter than my left, because I was, well, WOBBLY.

(And not just because I was drunk.)

My PT confirmed that my right leg is about an inch shorter than my left. My orthopedic further confirmed: when I rebroke my femur in December, the breaks in my femur, hip, and usage of additional bits (that allowed me to begin the slow process of becoming totally bionic) worked in tandem to shave an inch off my right hip.

Here’s the downside: my right leg doesn’t yet know it’s now closer to 5 foot 4 inches than 5 foot 5. I’ve set that motherfucker up for a total self-esteem crisis. It’s going to want to go out and pick up bikers in bars and wear too much liquid black eyeliner, and I’m going be the one that has to say “motherfucker, NO. Just no.”

Alas, I digress.

Some of the time, when my leg isn’t being stiff or hurty, my right leg is fine and (no matter what the stripper tells  you) there is absolutely NO sex in the champagne room. I walk mostly normally** – for a 35 year old using a fucking walker, but there are times, mostly when I am half-asleep, post-frat party, or after a particularly strenuous PT session, that I wobble.

Which is why it’s likely that I will graduate from my super sassy walker to cane. Unfortunately, my father will not allow me to use one of his walking sticks (I think it’s because of the frat parties). However, fortunately, there appear to be any number of truly awesome and beyond bizarre canes available:

There’s this one:

glitter skull cane

Which nattily matches the stick shift knob in my car.

Or this one:

crystal cane

Which nattily matches my life.

So I started thinking about how awesome it would be to stop hiding my flask it my purse, and wound up here:

American flag cane

(pointless aside, the website I found ONLY stocked patriotic flask canes)

Or this, if’n I decide to spell colour incorrectly and become a beat poet as well as a drunk:

Canadian Flask Cane

But, that’s where things take a decided turn for the truly weird and fucked up:

Dog cane

Now, I heart me some dogs. Fucking love them. Can’t wait to HAVE one of my own.

That said, why the fuck would I want a porn-lighting cane that actually LOOKS like a dog? I can’t picture any situation in which this could be used comfortably OR fashionably. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Now this one wouldn’t be a bad cane to own.

Coffin cane

 

It’s from an antique cane website, looks amazingly similar to a cane my father owns, and it’s tasteful (if boring).

HOWEVER.

If you squint at it long enough, it becomes clear that the last word on the cane is “coffin.” The first word appears to be a name. Which, after you Google “weird ass canes,” for long, you realize it may actually be a cane that just might store a part of a dead person.

Then we have this, which is not only offensive, but frightening:

Weird black cane

And this, which is just fucked the fuck up:

Weird lady cane

I mean, I GET that it’s supposed to be a Victorian woman cane, but seriously, that cane would keep me up all night, every night, in mortal fear that it would come to life and eat my face off. That bitch would TOTALLY boil a bunny.

I could totally kick those damn kids off my lawn with this:

gun walking stick

Or this:

sword cane

And now we are at the ridiculously tasteful canes section.

If you’re reading this at work, you may want to skip the last two and go directly down to my challenge below.

vagina speculum cane

Who DOESN’T want to be able to perform a vaginal exam every time they go, well, ANYWHERE.

As an aside, this item is being sold by *blink blink* Sears, which, for the low low low price of $17.42.

And then, then we have this is this horrifying monstrosity which is INCREDIBLY NSFW (I never EVER warn against this unless I fucking mean it), unless you work at THOSE kind of jobs. If you think that makes it challenge-worthy, well, you’re my kind of person.

If’n you need clarification, just look.

(but know that you CANNOT unsee it)

Vagina cane

 

I have no real words, except for this: I call The Butthole a “chocolate starfish” for a reason.

*St. Charles, due to its inability to properly allow anyone in or out, was, for that reason,  home to many a Mafia princess, so we ALL knew the gangster stories from birth. They nearly sent us home with an “I (heart) Uncle Capone” when my mother was discharged.

“**As if ANYTHING a 35-year old who writes a blog on The Internets called “Mommy Wants Vodka,” can be considered “normal.”

———-

I’m throwing down the gauntlet, Pranksters: these are the most outrageous canes I could find after a morning of  fat-fingering Google on Friday.

You?

You can do better. Leave a comment with the most outrageous canes your fast googling fingers can find. Find me a good (bad) one? I’ll absolutely add it/them to the post.

Or, in the event that you’re so inclined, leave me a can I SHOULD own after I’ve graduated from my walker.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

Prolly best to listen to while reading this post. Honestly, if you CAN listen to it, you should. It’s an excellent song:

Nothing could’ve prepared me.

They could’ve told me that I’d been depressed and I still wouldn’t have expected that walking into my apartment, I’d see just how depressed I’d been. I confirmed my fears with Ben, who explained that my house had ALWAYS looked like this.

It was an epic fucking disaster – and not just because I’d been in and out of there for the past 5 months. Certainly, the hairballs and fur on the rug were from the cats who’d been, I can only imagine, expressing their displeasure at my absence. Or perhaps it was just 5 months of cat hair untouched by a vacuum.

Either way, I wanted to scream.

They tell you to make sure you’re wearing clean underwear every day in the off-chance you get struck by a bus and require an extended recovery far from home. You don’t want the doctors to see your stanky underwear now, do you?

(the toe-tapping guilt trip is, as always. implied)

But they DON’T tell you that you should prepare your home the same way. And I think they should.

It’s the same feeling – magnified about 3,927,383 times. If you get hit by a bus unless you’re on Grey’s Anatomy or happen to be a place where a bazillion doctors operate, the paramedics are the ones who’ll be seeing your stanky underoos. And if you’re in particularly bad shape, you’ll have those puppies torn off you like BAM.

But your home? The place you live? The direct reflection of you? That’s a little different and a HELL of a lot more telling of a lot of things. Including ones mental state. Which is what I learned when I came home.

No doubt that my life had been in shambles more times than not after I moved out of Dave’s house, but I hadn’t realized just how bad things had gotten. And how horrifically depressed I’d been. I could only see that once I came home, well, happy.

Life notwithstanding, I’ve got a lot to be UNhappy about:

I lost my dream job after my second fall – they just couldn’t give me any more time off. Despite being massively hurt, I understand completely. That means, though, that I have to find a new jobity-job by the end of April – which is always a tremendous stress. I’m living on such a fixed budget, I can’t even pay my bills, which are, naturally, mostly medical now. Bills are, by nature, a big stress to me, and not because of the money. Even when I have money, the act of paying bills freaks me the fuck out. I’d moved away from St. Charles for a while and have to move back to be closer to my family, so if this – God forbid – happens again, I have local help. St. Charles happens to be wicked expensive, so I need to find a decent job. More stress.

Once again, I have to start over from scratch. While before this would have led me down a sinkhole self-loathing, I’m absolutely fine.

Inexplicably, I have the coma to thank for it.

When the doctors told my parents I was a goner (which may or may not be my memory filling in the gaps – I was lucid during the coma, just in another reality. I spent most of that time trying like hell to get back to this life), they were visited by a psychiatrist who suggested, as a last-ditch effort, ECT.

Because they had nothing left to lose, they agreed to ECT. Shock therapy. Y’know, the highly controversial medical procedure used to treat major depressive episodes and treatment-resistant depression?

Before you skip to the comments to tell me why this was a Colossally Bad Idea (capital letters, of course, implied),  let me make this clear – I am NOT getting into a debate about the relative merits and pitfalls of of ECT. It was absolutely the BEST thing that’s happened to me.

Why? I can hear you screaming into your computer from here. Why o! why are we not going to have this debate?

Because it fucking woke me the fuck up. I snapped out of that fucking coma like WOAH.

And because I was told it was a miracle that I woke up, I have a new lease on life. I’m happy. For the first time in a long fucking time, I’m truly happy. No longer dark and twisty.

But don’t worry, Pranksters, I promise I’m not going to turn into a person who has inspirational quotes at the bottom of my emails. My handwriting may have changed completely since I woke up, but my blog will not suddenly become one of those “look at my perfect life” blogs. Those still make me want to fling poo.

My house is SLOWLY getting back into shape. (Because my second break and subsequent repair were far more invasive, my ability to bend down and pick heavy things up has been compromised). I updated my resume and started the job search yesterday. Things are progressing – albeit more slowly than I’d like – and I’m taking it one day at a time.

And for the first time, well, ever, I’m trusting that things will work out the way they work out and that’s that. I’m no longer fighting The Universe about things I cannot control.

It’s just time to let go.

———

So, now I’ve caught you (sorta) up to date on what’s been going on with me, what about YOU, Pranksters? I’ve been gone a good long while and I assume your life has drastically changed as well. Pull up a chair, grab a Vicodin-chip cookie, and tell Your Aunt Becky all about what’s been going on with you!

Updated! Terminal Velocity

She comes into full view from my spot on the gurney and I only know that my parents are going to be so pissed at me.

Rebecca, keep your eyes OPEN. Now, open them. No, don’t cry – everything will be okay.

I try to tell her that I’m sleepy, that I should go to sleep, but what comes out is my address:

734 Bluff Street apartment 101. 734 Bluff Street apartment 101. 734 Bluff Street apartment 101.

Rebecca, do you know what year it is? Do you know what happened? Who’s the current president?

I try to remember the answers that should be staring me in the face. The words are elusive. What comes out is:

734 Bluff Street apartment 101. 734 Bluff Street apartment 101. 734 Bluff Street apartment 101.

She motions to someone out of view – another parametric? The driver? I can’t be certain if we are, indeed, moving.

Suddenly another face appears in my line of site. This one looks extremely concerned.

734 Bluff Street apartment 101. 734 Bluff Street apartment 101. 734 Bluff Street apartment 101.

I can hear myself speak, my voice is wobbly and nearly impossible to understand.

The new person produces a pair of scissors and begins to cut off my pants while the first parametric continues with the questions and begins palpating my leg. I scream. Fuck, I realize, I broke my hip and femur again.

Rebecca, who is the current president? Do you know what happened to you?

Trying to shake my head no, I realize they have stabilized my neck. Frighteningly, I have absolutely zero memory of the incident leading up to this ambulance – I only know that my femur and hip are broken. For the second time in two months.

Once again, the correct answers get hung up somewhere between my gallbladder and my pancreas and can’t make it to my mouth:

734 Bluff Street apartment 101. 734 Bluff Street apartment 101. 734 Bluff Street apartment 101.

Then it all goes black.

———-

Surgery went well, the surgeon updates my parents. We removed all but one screw of the old hardware from her last hip and femur break. The last break, when exactly was that?

End of September, early October. She had an orthopedic doctor before – why isn’t he involved in her care?

This break was far more extensive and the surgery was far more complex than the last one, so Dr. Choi called me in. I deal with traumatic orthopedic surgeries. She’d snapped the titanium rod in two pieces.

Wow.

It was by far one of the worst breaks I’ve seen in all my years doing this.

Thank you for your update. When can we see our daughter?

There was a complication with the surgery.

A complication? What happened?

Well, he faltered a bit. She still hasn’t woken up from her surgery.

WHAT? Why? What happened?

We’re not sure what happened. We’d like run some additional tests, and do an EEG to determine if she has brain activity.

Yes, absolutely. Please run all the tests you feel important.

———-

She has an infection, this may be contributing to why she hasn’t yet woken up after surgery, I could hear the doctor. The cultures from her femur are a nasty group d streptococcus. She’s going to both need a central line and indefinite antibiotics.

Indefinite?

Yes. Absolutely indefinite. We don’t know what’s causing the coma, we only know that she has brain waves indicative of excellent brain function.

It’s been 4 weeks and nothing. Not a single change in her condition.

I’m terribly sorry, the doctor continues. There’s only so much we can know about the inner-workings of the human brain brain and its response to traumatic events.

———-

She is terminal. We are very sorry. We’ve done all we can, I can hear them say. Her children should say their goodbyes.

I’m right here, I try to scream.

———-

I woke up the next day.

 

 

 

What To Do If You Expect Your Child is an Addict

What To Do If You Suspect Your Child Is An Addict

If you’re a mom who suspects a family member is addicted to drugs, you may be wondering what to do. There are many treatment plans available for all age groups, and the earlier you can get them into a program the better. Some of these include combatting addtiction with a combination of counseling and pharmaceuticals. But dosing too early can cause severe withdrawals so you need to get the right treatment plan, customized to each individual. But how do you know for sure?

Overreacting?

How do you know if you’re overreacting to minor issues, blowing things out of proportion?

The first thing to notice is if your child is having problems. Perhaps, they are similar problems their peers face. Alternatively, they may be more severe and disruptive.

If they are preteens, they could be having problems with self-esteem and taking care of themselves.

If they are adolescents, they could be having problems with staying healthy, making friends, or getting along with people.

If they are young adults, they could be having family and work issues, struggling financially, or in trouble with the law.

If you notice your child is having more problems than before, it’s reasonable to guess that substance abuse may be the cause.

One strong reason for suspicion is if they appear untroubled by the behaviors that are causing the problems. In this case, their addiction may be stronger than the desire to stop the problems it’s causing.

The best way to approach the issue, in this case, is to talk about the problem directly, without linking it to what you suspect may be the cause. See if they are willing to discuss the problem? If they deny having an obvious problem, then this is a strong indication that there is a deeper reason for it.

4 Intervention Steps

If you’ve come to the conclusion that there is a strong underlying reason for their problems, then it may be time to take some action. Here are 4 things you can do.

1. Confirm your suspicions.

Educate yourself about substance abuse symptoms. There is more than enough information available online to come up with a profile of the underlying disorder.

While there are variations on how people react to different forms of substance abuse, there are a lot of commonalities among users taking the same drugs.

2. Observe the person over a few days or weeks.

How closely does their behavior match up to your hypothetical profile? This information is important for four reasons.

First, you will be able to clarify whether or not their erratic behavior is due to drugs or some form of psychological issue.

Second, you will be able to convince other family members to help you if you can prove your case.

Third, you will have more than enough information to share with a substance abuse counselor to help them come to a clear understanding of the issue.

Fourth, you will be armed with more than enough information to convince the person you are trying to help that they really do need the help.

3. Enlist the help of other family members.

You don’t need to create an exhaustive profile before you share your information with other family members. If you are a single mother, you may have to enroll aunts, uncles, or cousins.

Tell them what you suspect and why you suspect it. They, too, may want to deny that there is a problem, but it will be harder to dismiss your suspicions if you have strong reasons for them.

If you can get other family members to help you, then also come to an agreement about who is the best person to talk to the person about the need to get some help. As a mother, you may be the least influential and your child may be more open to listening to a trusted aunt or first cousin.

However, before an intervention, get some professional advice on how to go about the process.

4. Speak to a mental health professional.

There are many mental health professionals who have worked with hundreds of substance abuse cases and can provide you with invaluable advice on how to conduct a successful intervention. Seek out the help of a psychologist or psychiatrist, a school psychologist, a college guidance counselor, a family doctor, or a clergy member.

When you speak to them, they may want to know certain things about your family.

a. The reasons you think your child has a substance abuse problem.

This will help them decide whether or not this is a psychological problem or one due to substance abuse.

b. The results of any substance abuse behavior you may have noticed.

  • ·  What type of alcohol do they drink?
  • ·  What type of drug have you seen in the house?
  • ·  How much do you think the person is using?
  • ·  How long has this been going on?

c. Any changes in behavior?

  • ·  What was their behavior like before they began using?
  • ·  Has it been getting worse or staying fairly consistent?
  • ·  What was your child’s response to questions or confrontations about their behavior?

Tough Love

Although confronting your child’s substance abuse is emotionally painful and may increase already difficult behavior, you should take action using these steps as a guideline. It’s not an issue about whether your child appreciates your intervention, but about getting them to a safe harbor where they will get the help they need.

In The Kitchen With Aunt Becky

One of those things that I always figured I’d do when I was bored and had scads of free time, which, you know, I’m just swimming in with my three kids and houseful of pets, was to learn to decorate cakes.

I somehow forgot when I was hatching my Great Plan, that I have absolutely no eye for detail and have about as much fine motor skill as my poo-eating dog. But yes, in my head, I was going to be the next star baker.

Just like I was going to be the next Rembrandt, Britney Spears, and uh, Martha Stewart, because all of those plans were SO SUCCESSFUL.

But when I saw that I could buy something that fit my “I never got an EZ Bake Oven” fix AND test my prowess as a Master Cake Baker, I was all over it. (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, go here)(then come back)(and you should know that I do love me some Pioneer Woman)

Cake Wrecks 1

Really, I didn’t see how I could go wrong. Except that a 29-year-old woman with a full kitchen of her own had bought a toy cake bakery. That seems all kinds of wrong when you put it THAT way.

But let’s not dwell on the negative here, Internet!

Cake Wrecks 2

Microwaving, AWWW YEAH!

Now, see, THAT is the kind of cooking I can do. Short and sweet. None of those wonky STEPS that I can misconstrue or FORGET because I’ve accidentally wandered off to see what happens when I put the cat in a box.

Cake Wrecks 3

While I don’t know why someone would want a pamphlet of “DUFF” inside a box clearly marketed for children, I suppose that is neither here nor there. He seems a little, uh, CREEPY and vapid, doesn’t he? (I know he’s on the Ace of Cakes)

No accounting for taste, I guess. Which is why you read my blog.

Cake Wrecks 5

While shit, man, that’s waaaay too many instructions. I don’t need to read instructions. Those are for sissies.

Cake Wrecks 6

Why, isn’t that perfectly darling? A wee cake decorating set! I can’t figure out what most of the doo-hickies are for, but, you know, I AM READY TO LEARN. Providing I don’t have to READ WORDS and FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS.

Cake Wrecks 7

Well, THAT is fancy-pants. It’s either a toothbrush holder…or a sex toy. Kind of advanced for children.

Huh.

If parents can get outraged by the Fresh Beat Band, why not providing our children SEX TOYS!!1!! OH THE HUMANITY!!

Guess you know what I’ll wander off to do.

….

BRUSH MY TEETH, YOU PERVERTS.

Cake Wrecks 8

Here we go, with some mother-humping yellow cake. That’s wicked yellow and I stirred it approximately 4.3 times before it was mixed thoroughly. Because that is the way I make cake, bitches.

Cake Wrecks 9

Well, now, here I have expertly poured two thimbles of cake into the microwave pan where I shall bake it for exactly 30 seconds. How can this be bad?

(cue ominous music)

Cake Wrecks 10

Well. That…uh, looks appetizing. It’s really a shame that I can’t make this blog post scratch and sniff, because this smells like burning hair.

nom nom nom SOYLENT GREEN nom nom nom.

Cake Wrecks 11

The Soylent Green patties are, I should note, about the size that one might expect to feed a wee field mouse. I am holding my lens cap up for perspective.

Cue the old joke… “the food was so bad….And there was so little of it!”

Cake Wrecks 12

In an effort to cover up the horrible yellow color of the cake, I have chosen blue as my fondant color. Note my expert mixing technique. I should probably get a medal from the Mixing Olympics.

Cake Wrecks 13

This fondant looks like a pile of, well, blue…poo.

I’m certain that I can roll it out and make it look better.

Cake Wrecks 15

Oh. Well. Um.

Maybe I should have read the directions.

I know, I’ll read them now!

Cake Wrecks 14

Okay, that looks NOTHING like what I’ve got.

Uh. Well. I KNOW. NEXT STEP.

Cake Wrecks 16

Icing. I can cover this with icing. THAT’S ALL. I bet it’ll look as good as new in NO TIME.

Cake Wrecks 17

That looks a lot like we’re about to artificially inseminate something. WICKED.

Cake Wrecks 18

My pre-iced cake on it’s pretty little platform. Doesn’t it look like, well, someone with no thumbs decorated it?

Scratch that. People without thumbs could do better. BLIND people without thumbs could do better.

Cake Wrecks 19

Aunt Becky’s Weapon of Mass Destruction. The ICING GUN. Prepare to meet your MAKER.

Cake Wrecks 20

Uh. WHOOPS.

I genuinely do not know what I did wrong here. It appears as though my icing gun misfired.

(cue inappropriate jokes)

Cake Wrecks 21

UGLY CAKE, PREPARE TO MEET YOUR MAKER, uh, PART II.

Cake Wrecks 22

Awww! Lookit my whimsical, drippy heart! With some balls thrown on it for good measure. Because everything is made better with colorful balls and icing.

(go ahead)(make your jokes, people)

Cake Wrecks 23

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the reason that you do not want me to cook when you come to my house. THIS is the reason that I order takeout.

Because while this appears to have been done for comedic value, it actually was not. This was genuinely the best that I could do.

I’m pretty sure my poo eating dog could have done better.

The Butt Sex Saga Part #1

I’ve been friends with Pashmina for, shit, what 10, maybe 12 years now, she was my coblogger for the pre-Aunt Becky days and she’s the only reason that I met The Daver. We’ve managed to stay friends for all of this time, and she wanted to show her appreciation for all that I’ve done for her (read: flaming case of The Clap) by asking me, nay, INVITING me gently to read at her wedding.

Thrilled that I didn’t have to stuff myself into a bridesmaid dress like a shimmery encased sausage, I readily agreed. I didn’t so much care WHAT I read, just that it didn’t involve dyable shoes.

Weeks before the wedding, she – like the Type-A freak-a-leak she is – called to regretfully inform me that I wouldn’t be getting a copy of my reading stuff until the night before. Because the priest was writing them.

Not being Catholic myself, this didn’t send off any warning bells like it would have with other, more normal people.

After huffing it to the rehearsal on Friday, I was shocked to learn that I would be reading the “Lord Hear Our Prayer” part of the service. When I told this to Daver, who knows the church much better than I, his jaw dropped open like a sea bass and he started laughing. When he finally stopped, after seeing the quizzical look on my face, he sputtered,

“You’re…” *snort, snort* “You’re leading THE PRAYERS!” Then he erupted into another gale of laughter as the realization seeped into my brain.

Now, I’m a fan of organized religion, despite not knowing much about it, and I love the rituals and the kneeling and the singing, but this, this was Pashmina’s way of getting back at me for making her wear a strapless dress to my wedding.

I’m probably the least qualified person on the planet to lead prayers in a Catholic wedding.

No, seriously.

The wedding, though, was lovely, and I found myself misting up when she walked down the aisle. Here was my FRIEND, the one that was busted by the Jesuits with me, and she, well, she was in the puffy white dress and aww….

And the leading of the prayers even went fine. I did not erupt into a fireball of flame and ash at the altar. I did not wear my own wedding dress, as previously threatened. I simply read the lines, prayed, and then sat back down before bounding off to drink with some old friends.

Because I dropped out of Girl Scouts after realizing that even at age 8, I had no aptitude or interest whatsoever for crafts or cooking, I am never prepared. So during the three hour break between wedding and reception, I sent The Daver off to find appropriate cards.

He did, although I don’t remember what they said, only that I wrote “Happy Birthday, Steve!” on the outside after I was chastised for not properly addressing it.

(my point was: who the hell ELSE would I be getting a card for or giving a card to AT THAT MOMENT IN TIME?)

(answer: apparently, Steve)

The reception was a total blast. We got to hang with old friends and drink, eat delicious meat twinkies (tiny, mini meat sandwiches) and watch other people get drunk. With the exception of the woman who came up to me mid-bite, while she waited in line at the buffet, and demanded to know what I was eating in a fairly unkind way, it was fucking awesome.

And that lady? Just weird.

I hadn’t spoken to Pashmina until today because I was giving her time to both consummate the marriage and enjoy her honeymoon (bitch), and I figured she was kind of people-d out.

She called me today to discuss, sandwiched in between her bragging about her tan (bitch), the card that I’d gotten her.

Specifically, the check I had written her.

My initial thought was, “SHIT, did it bounce? I had money in the account!” immediately followed by “shit! Did I make it out to the right person?”

But no. My check didn’t bounce, and I absolutely did spell her name properly (after 10 years, even my dumb ass has learned to spell some things). Let’s just say that I pulled off the ULTIMATE Feat Of Awesomeness.

See, now, when I’d written out the check, I engaged in a revolting and juvenile past time of mine. Whenever I write out a personal check to a friend, I make sure to include something special in the MEMO box.

My favorite, and easily most common is “Funky Butt-Lovin'” but that night, I’d had a migraine (same as I do now, WHEE!) and couldn’t quite remember.

So instead, I wrote in the MEMO box: “Butt Sex” figuring she’d get a chuckle out of that among the “CONGRADULATIONS (sic)” and “Wedding” (which I saw on many of my checks from my own wedding). I hadn’t thought about it since.

But no, Pashmina hadn’t forgotten it. Not at all.

Turns out that as they’d deposited their checks, Pashmina had made some sort of addition error (I will blame her English degree (s) on this one)(somewhere, she is flicking off the computer as she reads this) and the bank had An Issue.

An Issue, of course, that had to be corrected IN PERSON at the bank. So, like the adult she is, Pashmina marched into the bank to figure out what the hell was going on.

The clerk couldn’t figure it out, save that one check had not been accounted for, so he signaled his manager over. His manager, who took one look at the Problem Check and said to Pashmina, “You got a check for BUTT SEX?”

The bank stopped. The bank stopped and the bank listened and then the bank burst out laughing. Tellers doubled over in their lanes laughing, tears rolling down their faces as they had to explain and apologize to customers for their inappropriate behavior.

Like a rock in a stream, Pashmina stood there, probably cursing my mother for birthing me, and certainly cursing herself for inviting me into her dorm room to hang out. She alternated between laughing herself and trying to appear unfazed and unflappable, and the matter was, at long last, after several calls to corporate, settled.

Pashmina, payback’s a BITCH, eh?

The Butt Sex Check Saga Part B

There are always about 40 sides to every story, right? I told you my side of the butt sex story here (as well as back in September). This is Pashmina’s side.

For simplicity’s sake, I tell people that Becky is my college roommate. This is not entirely true, as she lived two doors down from me, but she might as well have lived in my room, seeing as how SHE SPENT PRACTICALLY EVERY WAKING MOMENT STEALING OUR BEER. YES YOU, BECKY.

We have been friends for 10 years. It would have been, in fact, 10 years ago this fall that I was all, “Can I smoke in here?” and Becky was all “sure!” and her roommate was all, “SMOKING IS FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO DIIIIIIIIIIE.” So, it’s true that I’ve known Becky a long time.

It is also true (she denies this) that when we get together, your Aunt Becky and I suffer from revertigo. This is to say that when we get together, we behave like the 19 year olds we once were, which is to say that our collective average age when we get together is about 12. Dick and fart jokes are the norm, and whenever Bones and I leave an afternoon with Becky, he lovingly tells me, “You guys are fucking ridiculous.” It’s true. I am.

It would not surprise you, then, to learn that for our wedding, Becky made a check out to us and wrote in the memo “Butt Sex.” It certainly didn’t surprise ME, and Bones and I got a good chuckle out of it when, a couple days after the wedding, we went through our gifts so that we could deposit any money before going on our honeymoon.

I slipped the check into the pile, deposited it, and Bones and I spent a week in the Caribbean. (ed note: Bitch)

When we came back, I had a letter from the bank. I opened it, and it contained three things:
1. A notice of error that said (and I quote) “Check Enclosed, Not Listed. Account Debited.”
2. A copy of the deposit slip
3. A copy of a check from your very own Aunt Becky, for Butt Sex.

Being that the whole thing was cryptic and confusing, I called the bank for an explanation. They told me I would have to go into the particular branch where we had made the deposit, since they didn’t quite understand either.

Not thinking anything of it at the time, I put “Bank” on my list of errands and headed over. Whatevs. I walked up to the teller, explained my confusion politely, and asked if he could provide me an explanation. He guessed at something. I asked a follow-up question. He called over his manager.

His manager came over to the teller window, looked at the documents and said–louder than she needed to–“OMG, who wrote you a check for butt sex?!”

The bank stopped for a split second and then erupted in peals of laughter around me. Me, I was caught between wanting to fall over laughing and being totally irritated that THE CHECK THEY PULLED OUT HAPPENED TO HAVE THE WORDS ‘BUTT SEX’ on it.

There were several other checks for identical amounts, but no, the bank and to pull THAT ONE for me. Thanks, Bank. Thanks for making me explain that my college roommate decided that this would be a hilarious thing to do.

I mean, it’s one thing when she writes me thank you notes that read “Dear Aunt P, Thank you so much for the Beer and Crack Whore money you gave Alex for his 2nd Birthday.” It’s totally another to have to take a check for Butt Sex to a business.

I explained that my college roommate had a sense of humor, in a way that implied that I didn’t while the bank continued to laugh around me.

Said the Teller, “Do you think maybe they didn’t deposit it because it said– because of the memo line?” (by now, the stern-faced, Chicago-bred security guard was smiling)

Manager, “Um, let me call corporate and ask.”

aw, fuck.

So, I took a seat and waited while the manager called the corporate headquarters and explained the situation and my confusion. Then I heard her say clearly, “Oh! Yes, it is Paisana!” She pulled the phone away from her mouth and said to me, “He remembers you!”

Oooof course he does.

A few more minutes with corporate–and several tellers who had to explain to the PEOPLE DRIVING THROUGH THE DRIVE UP WHY THEY WERE LAUGHING–later, the manager called me back over to her desk to explain to me what corporate had told her, assuring me the whole time that no, corporate had not rejected the check for Butt Sex.

She was very happy to use the words “butt sex” freely, too, and every time she said it, the security guard got a chuckle and EVERYONE IN LINE looked my direction with a “WTF?” expression.

She then explained to me that my error had been in addition (I had added the check twice) and we went through the deposit slip line by line until I was satisfied that my bad math–and not bank error–was at play. I thanked her for the explanation and she said to me, “Tell your friend she’s funny!”

She’ll appreciate that.