The song for today’s post is “House” by Ben Folds Five from Folds’ Retrospective recorded as a new song. For me the song says everything – it could mean a literal house, but for me it’s a metaphor for my hometown and my mind. Yes, this is the first time I’ve posted the song before the post, but that’s how much I identify with this song. Take a listen for yourself, here are most of the lyrics.
There’s a sign up in the yard,
And the the furniture has gone,
Filled with fetid memories,
Unworthy of a song.
Flashes of sad and angry faces come and go,
Could anyone live between those walls and never know?
And I could go there,
But I’m not going,
Pulse is slowing,
No, I’m not nervous anymore.
I’ve had the nightmares
I’ve seen some counselors,
But I’m not going,
Back up in that house again.
It’s just like waking up,
In that second and a half,
The bliss of not remembering,
Before it all comes flooding back.
So what do I do as all these voices come and go?
Could anyone live inside my head and never know?
I was 34.
I had just had my fourth miscarriage. We kept it to ourselves and for the most part didn’t tell anyone. No reason to go through the emotional part of “I’m so sorry” and “it wasn’t meant to be” statements from well-meaning friends and family. I could put this one behind me too. Pretend it didn’t happen and go about my everyday life. And I did.
Facebook was just starting to be THE THING that everyone was talking about. How fun to look up old friends and post photos and see what everyone was up to. Before long, almost everyone I knew was on Facebook, including me. Again, it was (and still is) an outlet. To be filled in on the latest you logged into Facebook. News of every kind was posted. It was great. I friended Will’s wife, Molly and struck up a friendship with her. Even though we weren’t friends in middle or high school, we became good friends and had a lot in common. We had sons about a year apart. She told me to look Will up on MySpace and I emailed him to say hi, then before long he joined Facebook too. It was like no time had passed. We updated each other on old friends, talked about music as we always had, and got caught up on each other’s lives. It made me happy. He sent me CDs he had recorded with a couple of bands he was in and I sent him my collection of George Harrison records. George was always his favorite.I got back in touch with great friends. A few BFFs from college – Dana, Hillary, and Michelle. Without them, I don’t know what I would have done these past few years. They are amazing. Amazing friends and amazing women. I suggest that if you don’t have a fantastic bunch of girlfriends (if you’re a girl), that you go out and get yourself a female wolfpack right now. Friends that will be there for you, that will hate the same people you hate and tell you you’re right when you need to be told you’re right even if you both know you’re wrong. Everyone needs a Dana, Hillary, and Michelle – but they’re mine – go get your own damn group of three friends who will love you, but call you out when you’re being a little bitch. Friends that tell you the truth no matter how hard it is to hear and will lift you up when you can’t get up yourself. These girls are the bomb.com.
Andrew was in Mother’s Day Out and doing ok. He was two and not very verbal at all. He had lots of ear infections and we saw a specialist who told us it was like Andrew was hearing everything underwater for two years and that’s why he wasn’t talking. We had tubes done immediately and had hearing testing done. The testing went fine and he was put on a waiting list to get into a special preschool at my daughters’ elementary school. He started talking and I was thrilled. Katie was doing great in Kindergarten, but Molly was struggling with ADHD and we held her back a year.Scott was working in Pascagoula, MS and stayed in a hotel there if he had a long day, but otherwise was home at night. I had ScrapFest and MOPS going on and stayed fairly busy. When people asked what I “did,” I said “I’m a stay at home mom that doesn’t stay at home much.” At that time it was true. I was pretty ok, drained, but ok. I had been through probably 3 different antidepressants and could manage ok. My house still suffered. At some point Scott started working further away again and I held it together for the most part. I told myself I was ok. I was reconnecting with old friends on Facebook and chatted with friends new and old. Megan and I would prepare for the next ScrapFest. It became routine, my days were routine. I napped a lot. I zoned out with books and television as a coping mechanism once Scott was working away. I took the girls to softball and went through many days, weeks, and months feeling virtually nothing. It was like when I first started Louisiana Tech. Little emotion, starting to put up walls.
One day in October, Will said he was there for me and if I wanted to talk about the past he was up for it when I was. A few days later I said I was. We chatted on Facebook for a couple of hours after he left work that day. For the first time in a long time, I let myself have my feelings. I told Will everything from high school, all the things I had kept bottled up for so long. He said “I’m so sorry, I had no idea” several times. I told him about my suicide attempt at 19 and how I stopped taking pills when he happened to call that day. He said that was a God thing and I agreed. It was very cathartic to tell my closest friend the things I was afraid to tell anyone else but my husband and a couple of counsellors. I don’t know if he was ready for everything I opened up about, but he was still the amazing friend he had always been, and continues to be. It felt great to have someone to talk to about things that happened that he was there for me at the time, even if he didn’t know what I was going through. For the first time I told someone about the nightmares.
Being able to tell Will was terrific, but it all came rushing back. It was ripping off the bandaid.
That Thanksgiving my family went to Shreveport to spend the holiday with my family. My grandfather had lost weight since losing my grandmother and was looking too thin. Everyone else looked great. I worried about my grandfather. The night after Thanksgiving, Scott and I went to see Will and his band play at a local bar. It was the first time we had seen each other in what? 17 years? Something like that. I had gained 100 pounds. He had changed, but he hadn’t changed. He called me “stranger.” I was happy that Scott got to meet him after I had talked about my friend for years and I was glad to see Molly now that we were friends. A couple of friends from high school were there and it felt comfortable. It was fine. After the show we said goodbye and Scott and I left. It was a good night. When we got back to our hotel there was an ice cream truck parked at the end of the parking lot that said “Getto Snowcone” and I was mad that the photos of the truck didn’t turn out. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing to see a Ghetto Snowcone truck.
We drove home with the kids that Saturday or Sunday – a familiar drive. It was on that drive that I started getting pains in my side, but I didn’t pay attention to it. Then the pains got worse. And worse. I lived with it for a few months and finally went to my internist. He felt my belly and side and the pain was excruciating. He sent me for an ultrasound and the ultrasound tech said “wow.” I said “what?” She said “I’m not supposed to tell you, but you have a mess of gallstones.” My doctor’s office called a couple of days later and said I would have to have my gallbladder removed. Scott and I met with a surgeon and scheduled surgery for the day after Labor Day. I didn’t look forward to it, but felt much better once it was gone. The surgeon wouldn’t let me keep it in a jar. Dammit.That’s when my medical problems started. First it was the gallbladder, then pre-diabetes. Then one day I was testing the water temperature in the tub for Andrew and I fell backward into the tub. Full of water. I hit my head and was woozy. I reached to the back of my head and there was blood all over my hand. I managed to get out of the tub, soaking wet, and called for the kids to come in the bathroom. Katie came in first. I asked her if the back of my head was very bad and she said she couldn’t tell because the blood was red and so was my hair. Very helpful. First I called Megan, she said she would come get the kids while I waited for 911.
Megan is the most dependable person I have ever known and she does silly things I tell her to do to pose for pictures. Like the one to the left. I called 911. The ambulance and Megan arrived at the same time. She took the kids, I went to the ambulance where they took my vitals. The EMTs were fantastic, but wouldn’t tell me anything and didn’t seem concerned at all with my head. They were worried about my blood pressure. I was whisked off to the St. Tammany Regional and wheeled into the ER waiting room. They were monitoring my blood pressure while I sat in the waiting room. In walks Bethy Beth and I say “hey Beth” as if I were running into her at the grocery store. She had talked to Megan and Beth came up to stay with me because at that time Scott was in Utah. She and he talked on the phone several times that night so he could get updates. My blood pressure was super high, so the Hot Doc in the ER gave me some pill to lower it and put nitro paste on my chest and sent me for a head CT. No one had cleaned up the back of my head or anything. There was an elderly patient in the next bay behind a curtain who was belligerent. It was a fun night. My blood pressure dropped too fast and a nurse scrubbed off the nitro paste and gave me something else to take. I’d been cracking jokes and posting on Facebook the whole time and when my blood pressure dropped I felt like I was on another planet. Hot Doc released me at one or two am. Beth drove me home. I still had dried up blood on my head. I went to bed and went to see my internist the next day. He put me on meds for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, told me to lose weight, change my diet, get exercise, and take my two meds for my blood pressure. My doctor basically made me feel like I was going to die. He suggested weight loss surgery. I had pondered that before, but thought I would look into it.Then I had to have my wisdom teeth out. It’s much worse getting your wisdom teeth removed at 37 than at 15. They gave me all the drugs. This was on December 21st. Yes, I remember the day. We had two family Christmas parties that I would be missing because I was high as a kite and in pain. I could only eat soft things, so I basically ate an entire red velvet cake myself. I had always been good at binging. I was great at it. How do you think I ended up at 326 pounds? It was funny, the most I gained with my pregnancies was 18 pounds and never had gestational diabetes. Now I was looking at having diabetes on top of asthma and a thyroid disorder. Again, I never thought I looked bad at whatever weight I was. Your girl can dress cute and accessorize. I started Nutrisystem and lost 30 pounds, then gained much of that back. Have you ever seen a serving of Nutrisystem food? It’s tiny. In high school I attempted Slim Fast until I cut my hand open on the can in the cafeteria. Then I tried the powder shakes, but I added Cool Whip or ice cream to them, so that really didn’t help. I was not a good dieter. For the first time my weight was really becoming a problem.
One October I went to Shreveport to visit my family and see Will and his band play at the Red River Revel. My Aunt Darlene had been diagnosed with ALS and I wanted to see her before she got much worse and couldn’t communicate. We had lunch at one of my favorite places, Monjunis, with my dad and grandmother and I noticed it was difficult for Darlene to get food on her fork and chew. When lunch was over I gave her a big hug because I knew it wouldn’t be long for her disease to make it impossible to do most anything. We lost my Aunt Darlene two summers ago. That night I had dinner with Will and we talked about diabetes in depth. I could tell he was concerned as well. On the way back to my hotel, I ran into a trailer standing straight up in the middle of a completely unlit part of I-20, then saw that several cars were cast off into the median and a winnebago was pulled over to the right. I was scared to death. I pulled over and called Scott. He was at a concert with his mom and didn’t answer. I called Will. He was on his way to round at the hospital. I called Triple A, they called the state police and I sat in my car crying until an officer knocked on my window 15 or 20 minutes later. He told me my minivan looked driveable and that he had to take pictures and get my statement, then I was free to go. I went back to my hotel room, took Xanax and Ambien and went to sleep. The next morning I went to say bye to my mom, then met Molly and her boys for breakfast. I was in a daze. The boys were precious. Molly made me forget momentarily about my wrecked car and the drive I had to make back to Covington. Once I got home it was at least a week before I left the house.I was in complete denial that anything was really wrong. Lots of people had depression. Lots of people have anxiety. Lots of people have nightmares. Thin people have gallbladder trouble. Thin people have high cholesterol. Thin people can have high blood pressure. But I was becoming less able to do the things I wanted to do. I couldn’t keep up with the kids like I wanted. I couldn’t do things without getting winded, and it wasn’t just because of my asthma. I’d been battling my weight forever, but now I had to get serious about it. Scott was very concerned. My mother-in-law was very concerned. My mother tip-toed around it because I’d always been sensitive about my weight. I got very depressed, feeling that I was failing at everything. It was common sense, just lose weight. I couldn’t do it. Not on my own. And my house started to become too much for me to keep up. I hired a maid, but the house would only stay straight for a couple of days. Around that time my internist suggested I start seeing a psychiatrist because nothing I was taking for depression was helping, so I sought out a psychiatrist and started seeing one in Mandeville. I was diagnosed with Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder and I had to come back every six weeks or so. The counselor there didn’t really get me and I felt mostly like this almost middle-aged mom of three who just couldn’t deal with her life and had irrational fears of nothing. I would have hot flashes in the grocery store. Everything was closing in on me. I was done with MOPS, so I joined the PTA – but I couldn’t just join, I had to do the newsletter and take the mic for events. I had ScrapFest and enjoyed the heck out of it. But that year I wasn’t asked back to head up preschool crafts at VBS and for the first time in years I felt majorly rejected. I wasn’t used to this. I was used to being in the spotlight with whatever I did. And that’s not to say I was an extrovert, I’m an introvert with extrovert tendencies. Now I know that I like having a sense of control. Big shock, right? I let this drive me further from church. I already could barely stay through a service – when I went to service – because of my anxiety. Now I felt rejected and developed anxiety about that. My anxiety was so high that I rarely left the house once again and would turn down invitations to lunch. Unless it was for Cinco de Mayo because it’s mine and Hillary’s favorite holiday.
Physically, I felt awful. Mentally, I felt worse.
I was 38.