Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Today I'm speaking at D's fifth grade class about my experiences in Rwanda.  They are studying central Africa.  I actually did this for E's class when she was in 5th grade and repeated it for A and M a few years ago.  Talking about genocide in an age appropriate way is difficult.  It's something beyond their realm of understanding.  In order to help with this, my friend Serge wrote a letter that I'll read, telling his story and what happened to his family.

Since I've done it before, I think I'll be able to handle it okay.  The only tough part is going to be talking about Serge's mom, Florence.  She died two days ago.  Serge is on his way to Kigali with his little sister as I type this.  I don't think I can tell his story without adding this footnote.

I hope I don't cry.

Today, I also get to write the eulogy for my high school soccer coach.  He died week before last in Texas.  His ex-wife asked me yesterday to speak at the service.  I really couldn't say no.

Here's the catch.  The memorial service is at the same church where we had Jeanne and Mike's funeral.  I've been back to the church for E's confirmation and graduation.  Tomorrow I'll have to give a eulogy standing the exact same pulpit that I gave the eulogy for my sister.  I'm not worried about writing out my thoughts and reading them.  I'm worried I'm going to freeze and get thrown back to one of the worst days of my life.

I feel heavy with grief today.

I hope I have the strength to carry on.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Beige Malaise

I've been self weening off my medication for the last two weeks.  This occurred after lots of talks with my therapist and finally with my doctor this afternoon.

When I met with my doctor a month ago and we decided to increase my dose (doubling it). I was convinced that I wasn't feeling the effects any more.  Why didn't I feel better?

After about a week on the new dose, it became very clear to me that the medication was not working for me.  That was about the only thing that was clear.  I have experienced sleepiness, a foggy brain and an overall disconnection from my surroundings.  It hasn't just been the usual tiredness of the last 3 years.  I've spent entire days thinking about how I can squeeze in as many naps as possible (sometimes in 10 minutes snatches).  Even 2 hour naps didn't take off the edge and I often ended up feeling worse.

I'm not sure I can adequately describe how "off" I've felt.  It's like my brain knows what I should be doing and thinking, but my feelings can only be summed up with "I just don't care."  A total disconnect between my feelings and my brain.  Beige malaise. No color, with overwhelming notions of discontent. 

This just doesn't work for a working mom of five.  At least not this one.

I think maybe that the reason I liked the meds in the beginning was that I started taking them during a time when I didn't want to feel anything...weeks before the accident anniversary and during my husband's medical scare.    They took the edge off when I desperately needed to smooth my life and keep things a bit out of focus.  Any more clarity was just too overwhelming.

Starting last week, I took the original dose, every other day.  Even though I know the SSRI is still in my system and my brain has been re-wired in some way, my first day after not taking my medicine, I felt great.  It may have been all in my head (hahaha), but I felt so much more like myself.  Much more capable and much more connected to my life and those in it.

Disconcertingly, my blood pressure today and last month was also extremely low.  This could be a result of the medicine.  It could also explain the sleepiness and other symptoms.  Ironic huh?  I've always had low blood pressure given my athletic background, even when I was pregnant with my big boys (did I ever tell you L weighed in at 9 lbs, 13 ounces?)  Extreme stress, low blood pressure and meds that I'm just not cut out for, have simply made me feel like crap.

We've had all kinds of drama (good and bad) this week and I've handled things okay. Just okay. It feels good at least to have more of a sense of Peg back.  I worry, though, that I don't remember what it feels like to be me...the real me.

Back to square one I guess.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


E used to be a very affectionate kid.  Sometimes a bit too affectionate when her "tackle hugs" would crush you and sometimes hurt.  My earliest memory of our relationship is cuddling her newborn self in my arms, singing her to sleep in her darkened nursery.

Since the accident, E shuns physical touch.  Our touches are confined to fist bumps and the occasional shoulder squeeze.

This has been tough for me since I'm a pretty huggy kind of person.


Yesterday E had a big high school swim meet.  It included public and private schools from the metro area (and a Olympic gold medalist to boot).  The last few weeks have seen a marked improvement in her swimming, so she had high expectations for a good swim.  The morning went well and in the evening she qualified for an A final (top 10) in 200 IM and a B final in 100 fly.

She was awesome.  Not only did she swim a personal best, but set the school record in that event by a whopping 2 seconds.  She dropped from 8th seed to 4th best and was barely touched out for 3rd.  She got another junior nationals cut and was flying high.  She went on to win the B final and her time was better than 2 swimmers in the A final.  It was quite a night.

I am thrilled for her for all those accomplishments.  It is great to see her get some results given how hard she works and the sacrifices she makes.

 But let me tell you the best part of the night.  She came up to where I was sitting, still dripping and wrapped in her towel and gave me a hug.  E let me touch her.  A real hug.  I got a little teary as she rushed off with her teammate smiling and giggling to the locker room.

2:06.35.  That was her time.  I joked with her this morning that maybe we should use them for a lottery ticket.  Those numbers have been running through my mind all day as I relive the night.  I don't think about her touching the wall. My mind zeroes in on her smile, her towel and damp hair getting me wet, and the embrace I've missed.




Tuesday, February 5, 2013


I'm an old school music buyer.  I don't mean the type of music I buy, although I do enjoy my classic rock.  What I mean is that I usually purchase the whole album when one of my favorite artists releases something new.  I feel a sense of betrayal if I don't buy the entire record.  Even if some of the songs are a miss, I don't delete the duds on my ipod.

I distinctly remember fast forwarding through tapes on my walkman to skip songs that weren't my favorites.  I didn't have the same options that we have with digital music these days. 

Our kids tend to buy one or two songs at a time.  It's rare that they download an entire album, or God forbid, pick up the CD off the aisle at Tarjay.  Even M didn't rush to buy the entire Justin Beiber album when it came out, choosing instead to pick and choose songs to her liking.

My problem with the "onsey-twosey" approach is that you might miss a real gem.  Some songs take a few listens to really appreciate.  A great riff or a perfect lyric may come at the end of the song.  Listening to the entire album as a musician or band has envisioned sometimes tells a bigger story than just one song at a time (The Decembrists come to mind).  Sometimes you need to see the whole picture.

It still bothers me when people make generalizations about the girls and our family based on the superficial things they observe.  M smiles a lot at school, which must mean she's completely over the loss of her parents and is happy all the time.  E gets good grades and is swimming well, so everything is hunky dory again and she's "moved on" from the tragedy.  The boys joke around with the girls and, therefore, are completely happy the girls have come to live with us.

I live with the whole album.  The bad dreams.  The temper tantrums.  The sad moments during what should be times of joy.

I regularly berate myself for not focusing more on the positive and dwelling too much on the challenging issues with the girls and our new family.  Just downloading those songs that other people have given four bars on itunes.

That isn't authentic to me.  I'm a whole album kind of girl. The rose colored glasses don't fit me.  Maybe this makes me tiresome to be around or a debbie downer.  I've certainly noticed friends drift away.  I have a hard time smiling and responding, "fine' when people ask how we are.

I'm hoping that in the long run I'll find my gems.  Those songs that in the moment I wish I could fast forward may become the stories that define the kids, our family, and, ultimately, me in a wonderful way. Heck, some of my favorite songs started out on the b-side.