That Makes Sense-Finally

I had an appointment yesterday with my med provider. We talked about the usual: sleeping (um, no), appetite (eh, I guess), mood? Bad.

“Are you taking your meds as prescribed?” she asked

“As prescribed? Sorta. Sometimes. No, not really” I confess.

I have a pharmacy that packages my pills for me now. It’s been a Godsend. Anyway, three pills come in a square. I have nine pills to take in the morning, so three squares. The third square contains a 100 mg pill of Provigil, a 200 mg pill of Provigil and a Naltrexone. The Provigil I take for “excessive daytime sleepiness” and the Naltrexone was prescribed shortly after Natalie passed to help with any possible impulsiveness.

Generally speaking, I’m not supposed to take the Provigil after 2:00 pm as it will disrupt my sleep. More and more I’ve found myself forgetting to take my day pills until well after 2 and have gotten into the habit of taking the day and night pills at bedtime, with the exception of that third breakfast square. Better late than never, right?

Well, it turns out, the Wellbutrin can also give a boost of energy.

She takes my blood pressure with the electronic monitor and frowns at the results.

“I’m going to take this manually”

I shrugged and rolled up my other sleeve.

After several minutes, she furrowed her brow and asked if I was on any blood pressure medications.

“Three, I think”

She looked back through my chart.

“Lisinopril, Metoprolol and Hydrochlorothiazide. I wonder if that’s too much?”

I shrugged again.

“Then again” she said “if you’re not taking your Provigil and not getting that stimulant, you don’t need as much blood pressure medication…”

“What is my blood pressure?”

“95/60. I have patients with readings in that area but… that’s not your normal and the people with numbers like that are in their 90’s. This would explain why it’s felt so much harder to do things. Low blood pressure means less circulation, less oxygen, less energy. Let’s not add any new medications, let’s just figure out how we can get you to take your meds when you’re supposed to. How can I help with that?”

We came up with a plan and I left relieved to have an explanation for why I was feeling SO MUCH MORE miserable than ever before.

I mean, I am still grieving. I know that. I’m not expecting to be back to “normal” or even a “new normal” quite yet.

I’m missing Natalie. And Noah. And my friend John who recently moved 2,000 miles away. I struggle with how to grieve and celebrate and honor them.

I’m still talking to Natalie and getting signs from her. Still angry and full of hurt but I keep her around. Around my neck. Literally.

urn-necklace
Sterling Silver Urn Necklace

One thing that helped with Noah was a baby blanket… Shar made a blanket for Noah.

img_4081 img_4120

And John? We’ve been friends for so long…

 

john-k

It’s a great opportunity to brush up on my pen pal skills!

Yay life and loss… (eye roll and pom-pom cheers)

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6 Month Anniversary, part 2: Afterwards at Shar’s

I’d planned out the day. I knew Saturday was going to be tough. We had the service in the late morning and then I’d have some down time which I desperately need but couldn’t allow myself to have. Not Saturday. My plans to clean and write and read and journal… a mustard burp in the wind. (Where did THAT expression come from? I don’t think I’ve ever said that before in my life…) I couldn’t muster the strength or energy for anything but lying in bed and staring at the pictures of Natalie, uncle Jeff, grandma and grandpa- all next to the Noah doll. Hm, masochist much?

Thankfully I’d already made plans on Friday with Shar. We were going to watch the season finale of American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare and the premier of the “Killing Season”. Now you might wonder why I’d watch so much violence and gore… it takes a lot to take my mind off of Natalie and the horror of this reality. And, to be completely honest, I like to be scared. Reasonably, scared. Not like “hey, we just watched an hour and a half of a documentary on LISK (Long Island Serial Killer) are outside smoking and SOMEBODY, I’m not going to name name’s… friend’s brother… comes charging up the back step and scares the shit out of us!” God… Seriously, after that? I was afraid to go from her front door to my car. Then I had to drive IN THE DARK to get back home and get from the car to my apartment without  being hacked to death and thrown into the bushes for some golfer to find several months later… What? Of course the TV isn’t fueling my imagination… Pfffp.

Now during the show, there were a few crazy things that went on. The first being when we looked up the initials. A few days ago, Shar got on her computer and went to YouTube and Natalie’s account popped up. Now, they met a few times but I don’t think she ever showed up to Shar’s house. Even if she did, she certainly didn’t use her computer. How she was able to get there, I have no idea. There are 62 videos. Shar clicks on the first one. It came up with static and said “Sorry, this video is no longer available due to copyright infringement” with the initials UMG. They didn’t mean anything to me right off the bat. I asked my mom, she didn’t recognize them as anything significant but we all agreed Nat was/is trying to get a message across. I was talking to mom about it in the car, hung up and when I looked up, there was a car with the license plate UMG. Made a mental note to google it but forgot. Until Saturday night. Tons of stuff pops up when you google UMG. One of the first few though, take you to a website “Universal Music Group”. I’ve never heard of this company before. I don’t know if Natalie was in contact with them or wanted to be… Shar monkeyed around a bit on the site and clicked on something (related to Natalie, I don’t remember what) and was taken to the music video of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me”.

After that, we go back to watching the show. A girl named Amber(?) was being interviewed and she said “I just want to know who killed my sister”. Then the tv froze. Shar had paused it and told me to took at the lamp in the corner of the room. I turned my head and saw this lampshade hula-hooping! Around and around it spun. I wasn’t doing that before. It wasn’t near a vent or heat register. It was perfectly still, like a lampshade should be. We just sat and watched it until it slowed and stopped. “It stared right when that girl said she wanted to know who killed her sister. Did you try to find out who sold Natalie the heroin?”

“Yeah, with NO help from her!”

Then I started shouting at the ceiling “You have to help me! All of the mediums we’ve been to tell us you refuse to let them know who is responsible! Meet me halfway.”

I go back to my carrots and Twizzlers, don’t judge me.

Finally, I get a text from Jess. She was checking in and wanted to know how I was doing. We talked a little bit but I wasn’t fully attentive as I was watching this A&E show. She tells me she keeps reliving it and having to call my dad and tell him.

This was something I didn’t know.

She told me about it and I didn’t think my heart could break into any more pieces but I guess- never underestimate the power of circumstance. It broke again. And again. And again.

We finish the show. I go home. I chat with Tayla for a bit and I am so exhausted, I am confident as soon as I lay down, I will fall asleep. No down time between the ears. Perfect. Until about 11:30 pm, then it all ganged up on me. The funeral home. The service. THE DAY IT HAPPENED. I’d so hoped I was over the screaming part of my grief… Nope. I woke up screaming and sobbing. I cried myself back to sleep only to repeat the process two more times.

Sunday sucked. Just walked around like a zombie, periodically bursting into tears with no apparent trigger. I just feel so fucking hollow. I never planned on losing Nat. That’s not the natural order of things. She and Justin… we’d all be together for a long time. That’s what’s supposed to happen, right? I know, “the cause of most people’s unhappiness is the picture of how it’s suppose to be” but this isn’t like I wanted to win an award or I wanted that person to do xyz…

Today, today doesn’t feel much better. And maybe it won’t until after Christmas. Or after New Year’s. Maybe it won’t ever happen. I don’t mean to be such a downer… I want to have hope and faith… She just loved the holidays SO MUCH… to not have her buoyancy, her charisma… it’s just tough.

Borrowed Time

I should be writing, I mean real writing. I mean, writing or working on a piece to be critiqued and/or sent out to various publications. What happened? I needed a break and … the internet.

So, I’m clicking around, trying desperately to avoid anything related to politics and I see Pixar has made a new short. Oh good! A cartoon! I’ll just watch this six minute video, be recharged and get on with working.

It’s called Borrowed Time and it’s the most depressing work of animation I have ever seen… I think. Please don’t start recommending other terribly sad productions for me to compare it too, I couldn’t take it.

This is not a kids movie.

It’s a movie about family and loss and life, going on, even if you haven’t moved on.

It was appropriate for me to watch today. Driving around for work today, I almost had to pull over several times. Yesterday was the 19th, five months since Natalie passed. The expo is over and I’ve lost some focus. Prime time for memories and grief to jump in and take the reign, right?

Anyway, I’m trying hard to balance the grief process. Grieve and then contain. There’s just so much…

I click play, I’ll put the link in the title, and watch wide eyed.

Borrowed Time

What. the. actual. fuck.

Why would Pixar do such a thing? They wanted to show people that animation can be used as medium to tell any story, not just kids stories.

Um, I would’ve taken your word for it!

Aside from the shock of how depressing it was, I found it to be visually stunning. They’ve always done such a fantastic job or animating facial expressions, movements (like dust clouds, pebbles falling etc) background and getting right into the heart.

I’m not in a place to speculate what the message of the short was, only to appreciate the shortcut I took toward my emotions that have been bottled up and granted release through the film.

What do you think about it? Let me know in the comments section below!

Longing For Nothing

The past couple of days I’ve been feeling down. More so than usual. I wondered what had happened. Is this just another part of the grieving process? Feeling like you’re coming out of it before getting the door slammed in your face, a picture of what you lost taped to the back? I fell. Hard and into the basement of grief.

Natalie’s birthday pushed me to the edge of what little plateau I’d managed to climb upon. The four month anniversary tomorrow. And the 29th. Noah’s due date. The womb is not empty but full of sorrow. Longing. Aching.

I am holding on, making it through, as if there was another choice. There is, but there isn’t really. Not for me.

I have been keeping busy but the nights are the hardest. I don’t sleep well and there’s no one to talk to. Even if there was, I know I wouldn’t feel like saying anything… just wishing someone could take it away. I know the only way out is through and I am trying to honor the process and the pain. I know it will go away. Not completely but it won’t feel so heavy, leaving me longing for nothing.

Thanks…

“Thanks for the memories even though they weren’t so great” -Fall Out Boy

Over the weekend my email was hacked. I’m borderline computer literate at best and didn’t figure it out until I got 50+ bounce back emails and one angry letter, which at the time, I wasn’t sure was directed at me for my blog posts or in regards to the shit ton of spam I unknowingly unleashed into unsuspecting mailboxes.

Now what? I didn’t really know what that meant. Thank God for Geek Squad protection. It’s a necessity for me. I went to the online help and had a tech remotely search, scan, delete, fix and update everything. It took almost three hours. But, I had a professional do it, so I know it was done right. I changed my password and didn’t give it a second thought.

Until today. Today, I checked my bank balance and was in the hole by $85. WHAT THE HELL?! I look at the transactions and immediately see the problem. There was a charge for $49.99 and a charge for $59.99 both from Scottsdale, AZ.

I immediately start bitching about the injustices of the world when Don cut me off, mid sentence. “Are you sure YOU didn’t make those purchases in your sleep?” The nerve of hi- oh, wait. I have done shit like that haven’t I… Fuck. So, I’m thinking. Retracing my financial steps, my sleeping habits are examined and I deduce that No, I did not make those purchases. I reasoned that when I have bought things online in my sleep, my wallet is always out, (usually tossed on the floor near my desk) my debit card lying next to the keyboard, guiltily.

There was none of that.

So, today (fairly convinced of the truth) I went to Wells Fargo to talk to a banker. I explained my situation and he asked for my driver’s license and debit card. He made a comment about Natalie’s picture on my card and I told him she was celebrating a friend’s wedding. He nodded his head and told me he needed to call the claims center and file a claim to refute the charges. Halfway through the call, he hands me the phone. The man on the other end of the line asks a couple of questions and then puts me on hold. I stare into the banker’s desk. My vision starts to get blurry and I realize this is the first time I’ve been inside the bank since I got the call about Natalie.

“Are you ok miss? Do you need a napkin?”

A napkin? Not a tissue? Wouldn’t that be more accessible? Does he have a Burger King bag next to his desk? Is he just going to grab a handful of slightly grease stained napkins and offer them to me? I’m focusing the tiniest details so I don’t have to look at the bigger picture. I’m about to break down.

Breathe, I tell myself. Look around. Find three things that are green. Grass. Leaves. Part of that guy’s tie. Three things that are blue. The sky. That sign. That advertisement. Breathe in: 1,2,3,4. Hold: 1,2,3,4. Breathe out: 1,2,3,4. Hold: 1,2,3,4. Repeat.

I’m able to blink away the tears that haven’t fallen and recover.

“Thanks, no. I’m fine.” I lied.

 

You’re Invited To My Pity Party!

I am at a loss tonight. Things are not looking better after a good night of sleep. Who’s sleeping? The longer Natalie is gone, the harder it gets. It’s difficult to even take a deep breath because grief is lying in wait. Keep the shallow breathing. Don’t make eye contact with people when they ask you how you are. Don’t listen to her music…

I do allow myself to cry, even in front of people sometimes. I can’t help it. I wish I could… Mostly though, I reserve the out-and-out guttural grief releases for my car. I see a therapist on a weekly basis and also attend a (life) skills group that teaches us how to deal with emotions and cope in healthier ways than before. I am very grateful for the people and the skills I’ve gained from that group yet I found myself holding back this week. A few tears fell but when I heard David (one of our group facilitators) ask what emotions I was experiencing… I was concentrating only on holding my breath. Holding my pain. Holding the tears in. DON’T DO IT a voice inside me warned.

But why? What’s the worst that could happen? I’m afraid I’ll open my mouth to scream and won’t stop until my voice is gone, for starters. I worried about other people in the building hearing me. I’m worried that I’ll make others uncomfortable. I’m worried about people comforting me and I’ll feel uncomfortable. That people will think I’ve really lost my shit…

But really? Within a months time, I lost my unborn son and my sister. What is that SUPPOSED to sound like? How long SHOULD that last? I guess I don’t think people won’t understand… I know there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to grief… (remember when “experts” told people just coming out of a romantic relationship that they could grieve one month per every year they spent with their significant other? I thought it was stupid in sixth grade and still do.) Aside from everyone being an individual, I know myself to be highly sensitive and I know I will never not be grieving.

I’m in a DBT program. Dialectic Behavioral Therapy, which teaches both/and vs either/or. For someone who used to have extremely black and white thinking, this has been a God send.

I am still devastated about losing my baby AND I am excited, happy and hopeful that someone I consider a friend, is pregnant. I congratulated her and I meant it. And, I anticipate it’s going to be difficult to spend time around her. I will survive. I will flex and build the muscle that has gotten me through the tough times before.

So, tonight, amidst my sadness, please enjoy some music that brings me joy. The clip below is of Melanie Martinez’s song “Pity Party”.

Enjoy!

https://www.bing.com/search?q=pity+party&go=Submit&qs=n&form=QBLH&pq=pity+party&sc=10-10&sp=-1&sk=&ghc=1&cvid=F58EE1FAAD57455AB0E7E06D3D5E8689

Ironic, Isn’t It?

In the end, I didn’t spend a lot of time with Natalie because I was afraid I’d end up going down the rabbit hole, too. How is it that now that she’s gone, I’m ready to jump in with both feet?

“How often are you feeling this way?” Jill asked.

I blew out the air of the breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding and rolled my eyes.

“I don’t know. It changes. Like on a second by second basis.”

There are lots of windows in Jill’s office. Unfortunately, the view is mostly of the parking lot.

“How are you? Taking your meds? Are you getting in all your doses? Do you have all your medication? Nothing is in transition or lost in the move?”

I assured my favorite med provider that they were a priority and they’d been tracked and accounted for within the first couple of days.

She took my blood pressure and my weight.

“Your weight is trending down. Is it something your working on?” She asked.

I shook my head. “Not really. I mean, I guess I have been needing to remind myself to eat… Thanks Nat.”

We talked about sleep, when it’s happening, (which isn’t nearly often enough) if I’m using my CPap machine, (I have to find & unpack it first).

“What medications are you taking for pain?” She asked.

The question caught me off guard. I couldn’t remember right away.

“Um, Cymbalta. Sometimes Robaxin, but not often- I don’t like it. Um, there’s one-”

“So you’re not taking any opiates?”

“No!”

I was surprised. Offended? No, I don’t really know for sure what that feeling was… like I’d been caught doing something wrong. Guilt.

Why did I feel guilty? I wasn’t taking any opiates. I was honest with her. Maybe I felt bad for wanting pain meds. Not even pain meds but to be pain free. I take a variety of medications for various ailments and conditions and have somewhat acclimated to “my level” of pain. This emotional pain though… this fresh, deep, all consuming grief though… I can’t deal with. I don’t want to face it or feel it or tolerate it.

“Have you heard of Naltrexone?”

I shook my head.

“It’s mainly used for opiate addicts who are thought to relapse (I can’t imagine any heroin addict not prone to relapse) but over the years has proven to be effective with alcohol abuse, gambling and even nail biting. I would only use it for a short time. A few weeks or so. I think it might help with getting over this immediate time frame.”

Jill went on to explain that people are especially vulnerable in the first 6-8 weeks of grieving.  That’s when it’s most intense.

Now, nearly 12 hours later, I’m not even sure what it’s supposed to do. It didn’t even occur to me to ask.

I take 17 (now 18) medications. When I filed for disability in 2014, I was on 11. THAT was too many. I’m not sure how 6 more snuck in without me noticing.

I’m not even sure what I’m talking about anymore.

Natalie is here but she’s not here. I’m here but I don’t feel here.

I don’t want to scare anyone. I’m not going anywhere or do anything drastic. Please don’t worry.

I’m over tired and thinking about my appointment today, I thought it was kind of funny. In a sad sort of way. How I was afraid of my life going to hell in a handbasket if I’d spent a ton of time with my sister and now… I feel like I’m in hell, without my handbasket – or my sister.

Natalie
My Heroin(e)