Reality is the leading cause of stress among those in touch with it. Lily Tomlin
You have to love your neighbors. There is no other choice, especially when you wish they would disappear off the face of the earth. For the 2nd week in a row now I sat down on the patio to enjoy a quiet cup of morning coffee and the cacophony started up. I don’t know what the hell this particular neighbor across the alley is doing, but I’m becoming increasingly convinced that they are operating a lumber mill out of their garage, or perhaps a steel refinery.
They just moved in so I guess they are fixing up their new nest. Although I can’t imagine what is left to do in that house. The previous occupants spent a long and noisy 2 months fixing up that house less than a year ago, including replacing the roof.
I may be a little cranky because I’m angry with my daughter… extremely angry. It is the result of being worried sick about her and wanting to spank her at the same time. Last week she scared the hell out of me with the news of an iffy mammogram report. She had a needle biopsy on Monday and was supposed to get definite results on Wednesday. It is now Friday morning and I have not heard a peep out of her, no phone calls, and no text messages. She has not responded to my pleas for information either.
The trouble with my darling daughter is that she is a melodrama junky, the more the better. This fits right in with her personality. She has this infuriating habit of calling me up in hysterics with some crisis du jour and then drops off the map. I guess with her that old saying “no news is good news” applies quite well. But that doesn’t make it any easier to bear.
My daughter has the singular talent of lifting me up to the stratosphere with joy or slamming me down to the depths of hell. She has this most frustrating habit of dropping some kind of bomb shell on me and then going off the grid for days or even weeks, no answering text messages, the phone, doesn’t respond to messages left asking her to call me.
Sometimes I get so aggravated that I want to buy a plane ticket just so I can fly up to Boston and choke her until her eyes pop out. Her latest bomb shell was a text message informing me that she got a bad result on a mammogram. No stress there, hah! I immediately tried to contact her. Finally, after a week of sleepless nights and stressed out days, I managed to get through the Great Barrier Reef she erected and talk to her.
She was pretty stressed out and explained that she tends to hide when something bad happens. I know the feeling and will try to remember that the next time I isolate because someone or something is bothering me. The not knowing what is going on is sometimes a lot worse than the actual facts of a matter.
I tried to explain to her that it was probably just a cyst because she is prone to those. When she was a kid she used to get what we refer to in the south as bible bumps on the topside of her wrist. The word bible comes into play is because the cure was to whack the bump with the family bible which burst the cyst and it is reabsorbed by the body. It sounds gruesome but really isn’t that painful. I didn’t do that though. She got those several times and always cured herself accidentally by flailing her arms around and whacking her wrist on a door jamb or table edge. She’s very dramatic and waves her arms around when she talks.
So she is supposed to go get a biopsy this week on the contrary lump in her breast. I hope and pray that it is nothing. But, I can’t help but be terrified. She’s my baby girl after all, even though she’s 40 years old. I don’t want her to suffer and be frightened, but she is and there is nothing much I can do except talk to her and be there for her when she needs me.
Had my follow visit with the gastroenterologist yesterday. This was the visit where he tells me the results of the endoscopy (AKA – alien tentacle probe) and biopsy of my stomach lining. It occurred to me around noon that he might tell me something I don’t want to hear, and I started to get scared.
By the time I got to the office I was on the verge of a heart attack. The nurse did the usual measure my vitals stuff. She commented that my heart rate was 125 beats per minute. I asked “uh, is that bad?” She laughed and said no, you just have white coat tachycardia? What is that? It’s caused by getting scared to death at the sight of a doctor in a white coat.
And why not? Doctors are scary – they hold your life in their hands. And if they can’t figure out what is wrong with you, then you get labeled a hypochondriac. After all, it did take these doctors 57 years to figure out that I had bipolar disorder rather than just a severe case of being a cantankerous crone. Not a lot of trust going on here.
Before I go any farther I’ll say that I’m going to live, nothing serious. I have helicobacter pylori gastritis. It’s a form of extreme belly ache caused by the H. pylori bacterium. About 20 years ago researchers figured out that bacteria rather than stress causes ulcers and gastric cancer and can be cured rather than just managed by a bland diet and lots of antacids.
He asked me if I’ve been out of the country recently and I had to laugh. The answer is no, not recently. But I’ve traveled all over the world. The only continents I haven’t visited are Antarctica and Australia. The Doc said that this infection is usually from bad water and is common in Mexico and Jamaica, both places I’ve been to on more than one occasion.
I could have had this thing going on for years or even decades. That’s explains a lot. I’ve always passed it off as “I just have a weak stomach” because I’ve had episodes of debilitating stomach distress for as long as I can remember.
I’ve always had a morbid fascination with that show “Mystery Diagnosis.” It’s a show about people who suffer for years or decades with some malady that the doctors can’t figure out. The thing that brings me hope is that these people never give up. They keep searching the internet and go to doctor after doctor looking for an answer. And they are relieved when some doctor finally figures out what is wrong with them, even if it’s serious.
Well, I’m hugely relieved and I don’t even have something all that serious. All I have is some designer belly bug that is totally treatable. So today is a happy day for me. I can get rid of my recurring stomach ache and get on with it. Yiipeee!
Got my eagerly awaited copy of Silver Linings Playbook in the mail today. I’ve been waiting see what Hollywood’s latest take is on mental illness. It’s a story of a man, Pat Politano (played by Bradley Cooper), who is fresh out of mental institution. He was there for 8 months as a plea bargain for assault. He came home early from work and found his wife naked in the shower with a co-worker and beat the crap out of him. Yea he went nuts – extreme stress will do that to you if you are already on the edge with an underlying mental disorder.
I was wondering if they managed to capture a bit of how it feels to be labeled as bipolar. How it feels to have some force reach down in and rip your life out by the roots and throw it out the window. Pat has lost everything at this point; wife, house, job, friends. It was pretty much spot on. I also found it interesting that the movie managed to capture how mental illness can run in a family.
Pat grapples with not wanting to take medication and not wanting to accept that he is ill. Not long after coming home Pat has a spectacular middle of the night breakdown that ended up in a brawl with his father. Not long after this he decides to go back on medication. When he was standing there at the kitchen sink looking at the pills in his hand I felt like I had a brick in my throat. God is sucks to look at these little pellets in your hand and try to believe that they are what is keeping you sane, or “normal,” keeping you out of the hospital or jail, and able to interact with other people. And not wanting to believe it at the same time. Maybe it’s just too much for one mind to accept.
There was one scene that was so funny that I choked on my water. He was lying in bed in his parent’s attic reading, sat up and yelled “what the f@@k?” then threw the book out the window. The scene cuts to the yard and you see the book smashing through the window glass of the attic and splats in front yard. He was reading Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms. Oh my God, I so identify. When reading becomes your only solace, a bad ending can so absolutely enrage you to the point that you want to destroy the book. I’ve thrown books I’m mad at across the room, into the fireplace, even broken the spine and tore them in half. Somehow deleting them off my Kindle is not as satisfying. I’ve even been tempted to buy a hard copy of a book I hate just so I can destroy it.
He then goes down to his parent’s bedroom at 3:00 am to rant about Hemingway and bad endings to books. Yup, poor impulse control. He demands a personal apology from Hemingway. I wonder why it is that bipolar mania seems to catch us at 3:00 am, the most wicked hour of the day.
Throughout the story Pat is struggling from the obsession or delusion that he can somehow get back together with his wife. That’s a little tricky because his wife and the school he worked for have restraining orders against him. He is not allowed to come within 500 feet of his wife and is forbidden to communicate with her in anyway.
Enter Jennifer Lawrence in her Oscar winning role as Tiffany, a broken young widow who is struggling with her own demons. She agrees to help Pat contact his wife via letter in exchange for him helping her with her dream of entering a dance contest. The beginning of their relationship is so awkward that it’s cringe worthy. But, really how many relationships start off smoothly and always go according to plan.
I’m left with a sense that some things that are broken can never be fixed. And too much time is wasted trying to fix unfixable things. Maybe life is more about learning to coexist with lunacy.