Sunday, October 8, 2017

Good-bye, Kristi!

Kristi Lechner passed away early yesterday morning. She was near to being a perfect human being, as far as I can say. Her hair was always in place, her stylish clothes were from the best stores. She was in every which way appropriate for whatever the occasion called for in dress and demeanor.

Above the level of appearance, Kristi had a kind heart. She was on the shy side which many people didn't understand. She had a good word to say about each person in her realm. She was generous and understanding.

Kristi's handwriting was excellent. Whenever she sent me a memo or a card, I always studied her brand of cursive and thought about what a good student Kristi must have been from the time she entered the classroom until she left it at retirement. 

This was a woman who truly understood how school politics worked. Think back to her "good word for everyone" policy.  It worked so well for her as she spent all those years as an effective leader at OCHS.  It was not possible to discern her prejudices, if there were any.

She had an instinct for understanding her students to their very cores. I don't think she forgot a single one of them in 30 years of teaching. I never heard her say, "Oh, I just can't  remember her name." She knew every time. She also graciously passed on hints about the best and worst things about students we'd receive from her classes so we could best serve them.  

She loved to go out to lunch on in-service days. Her classroom was always tidy and tastefully decorated. She kept meticulous to do lists.  She was on time for everything. She took everyone at his or her word. She participated in student activities with dedication and energy.

Whenever we were out and about, she always left first because she wanted to get home to Lance so he wouldn't miss her. They were devoted to each other.

All of us will miss her forever. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Depression, Doctors, and Drugs

(I need you to know right off that I have omitted doctors' names and exact dosages of drugs mentioned in case any of my readers are even remotely connected to depressive disorder. It is so tempting to self-diagnose or to diagnose for a loved one. The internet is ultra-loaded with information about the treatment of depression and it is hard to resist self-medicating. In addition, I want to remind you to be careful about willing acceptance of what doctors have to say. Sometimes they are wrong. Question them politely but thoroughly before you follow their directions for medication. I believe that I was given reasonable advice but that the advice was not appropriate for my personal situation .Be careful with your health. It is truly the best thing you have.)

Notes from my log:

6/16/17-Bad night with wakefulness and bad anxiety. Woke with feelings of doom and gloom. EXTREMELY shaky.No appetite. Unhappy.Took a xanax around 4:00. Anxiety calmed down a bit within 20-30 min. But noticeable brain zaps, sluggish  movement. 

7/7/17-Up at 7 feeling shaky and full of dark mood. Jittery at breakfast. Decent appetite. Felt better after a long nap. Less shaky. Not horrible in p.m. Arm relaxed a little. No xanax today.

8/1/17-Shaky, moody wake up. Started my daily stint in recliner in the middle of  the a.m. Pat brought me a small lunch and I slept most of the afternoon. Small dinner and a restless evening on the couch watching TV with Pat. Cannot get comfortable.

8/21/17-Eclipse day. I cannot forget this day because this is the day I noticed I was feeling better. The improvement was only slight but doom and mood were both a bit better. My appetite is back!

9/11/17-I definitely feel better. Meds have been adjusted one more time and another one added. Doc said I'd feel better within a week and I did! Doom and gloom are GONE. Totally gone. I do get extra focused on things but not to a point of anxiety. And I can dial down my racing thoughts with some effort. Love feeling happy.

10/1/17-Am declaring myself nearly well. All that's left is shakiness and slow motion movement. Those symptoms do present some problems. I can't write very well and typing is slow with many corrections needed, for example. But I am dealing with the problems.

I am currently under the care of an excellent psychiatrist and a neurologist who is working on my shakiness. This is still a bit of a mystery but we'll figure it out. We're also still working very conservatively on my meds and making good progress.

My message to you is that I caution you once again to question every medication you take whether prescribed or over the counter. Be proactive about your health. Nobody cares about it as much as you do.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Granny Then, Granny Now

When it was then I was a Granny who supplied the bubble box which became the frothy lake Mary used to let the Fisher Price Wee People swim around in while she enjoyed her bath. I was a Granny who taught both grandgirls how to make Play Doh bird nests with eggs and birds in them. I pushed kids skyward in their swings for what seemed like hours. Alicia and I played store on her little patio table and we used bark chips for money. Mary and I "played dogs" with stuffed ones or pretend ones most of our times together because dogs were her favorite things. I stroked Alicia's arms and back at nap time and watched her drift off to sleep.  One time when I was on the bed beside her, she curled her little self against my chest and went to sleep with a little happy sigh as a fresh spring breeze wafted  over both of us from one of the season's first open windows. We played Barbies endlessly. Remember Boobs Clea and her sister Boobs?  They left us by means of a garage sale along with the  books we read (good-by, Bing!  So long, Spot! We won't forget you, Otto!). Some other lucky girls are arranging furniture in the doll houses that moved away. Puzzles, games, Lite Brite sets and all manner of art supplies and projects are gone, gone, gone. 
But the fun things at Granny's are still at Granny's. What happened at Granny's stays at Granny's. She's not ready to give them up.

Now that it's now, Granny gets hugs and writes checks. And these are truly satisfactory things to do. But teaching Romeo and Juliet to Mary was amazing. It was a goal of mine to be the first person to present Shakespeare to her and I barely made it. I was just a few weeks ahead of her English teacher. And witnessing Alicia's passion for dance has stunned me with the chance to watch a person pursue a physical activity with the same energy that I pursue reading. 

The pleasures of Grannying are different now but just as fulfilling.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Getting Clean

DISCLAIMER:  This entry is about my personal experience with prescription drugs, i.e., anti-depressants. You need to know that there is no medical or scientific expertise involved at all. I did use the Internet as an informal research tool, but I caution you not to diagnose a physical or mental problem on-line.  Contact your doctor with even the smallest question and, just so you know, I kept in fairly consistent contact with my primary care physician. My caveat-BE CAREFUL with any medication you take whether it's OTC or prescribed. They can be dangerous if not used with precision.

I began taking anti-depressants during my dad's final illness and eventual death in 1988. I started with xanax (an anti-anxiety drug) and finished with a variety of anti-depressants on June 4 of this year.The decision to get clean of them started last winter when I sensed that my then current anti-depressant wasn't working for me. This was due no doubt to an extreme family crisis and a family member needing serious abdominal surgery on an emergency basis. Between March and June I went on and off  five different anti-depressants looking for the magic one that would help  me keep my nose above water as I made my way through this dark family time. I was in regular contact with my doctor. But. Make that BUT. I'm not so sure that either of us was really paying close enough attention to what was happening during this process.

Here's what happened plain and simple:  1.) acute side effects followed by 2.) ugly and tortuous withdrawal symptoms. Curiously, these two conditions can present themselves in similar fashion so it becomes difficult to know when (and if) one is beginning and/or ending. Confusing, huh? You have no idea. Trembling, shaking, brain zaps, weak muscles, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, inability to focus, racing thoughts, obsessive compulsive behavior, and anxiety supreme.

So why did I put myself through this pain? Duh. I needed mental and emotional relief from family strife that was overwhelming me. I'm a fairly tough person and have been through some life challenges in the past but for some reason (turning 70, maybe?) I have not been able to ride out this period of stress and challenge. When I finally realized what was happening, I figured out also that it was much too late to retrieve myself from "discontinuation syndrome."

As of today, July 4, I am beginning to allow myself some hope that I will eventually recover from this horrid experience. I don't know when or even how long it will take, but I will keep on keeping on. I have an appointment with a neurologist/psychiatrist in ten days. In the meanwhile, maybe one day really soon, I'll begin to feel a twinge of improvement. Right now things are still difficult.

And guess what? NEVER, EVER, EVER take even the most seemingly innocent prescription drug without a serious discussion with your doctor. And talk to your friendly pharmacist about any OTC drug you might feel you need. You have my permission to use my experience to make your case. And be careful with the Internet. Just because you read it on-line doesn't make it true.

I'll update my progress next month. Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Things I Thought I'd Never, Ever Do

 1.  Get up at night to go to the bathroom.
 2.  Stop driving at night.
 3.  Play cards every day.
 4.  Call family members by the wrong names.
 5.  Talk to every baby I see.
 6.  Read Lee Child books.
 7.  Take a nap every day.
 8.  Hum along with songs from the 50's and sometimes even the 40's.
 9.  Not like walking on uneven surfaces.
10. Drive around looking for the closest parking spot to the door.

Life is different at 70.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Trump For Breakfast

Yesterday as I was eating my breakfast and reading about Trump's First 100 Days, the cereal box caught my eye. Somehow I strangely started to compare it to the Trumpster himself. Yes, it's weird, but follow me for a minute here. It was a box of Honey Bunches of Oats With Almonds which happens to be our favorite cereal. The box is a graphic success of blue and white lettering featuring a bold blue circle with a spoonful of cereal depicted under it. It is bright and attractive enough in a carton sort of way. A list of ingredients can be found on one side of the box. It is about 15 lines of small print. The first half notes the grains, flours, and sugars used. The last half lists vitamins and minerals included and the middle line reads "BHT added to package material to preserve freshness."
In other words, the product is highly processed. The whole package including the box with its list of ingredients and contents reminds me of Donald Trump who embodies his own highly processed brand of something that claims to be good for consumers.  Hmmm. . . .

Later in the day, another kitchen consumable reminded me of Trump. This time it was a cellophane wrapped package of stir fry vegetables containing yellow, green, and red pepper slices, zucchini rounds, mushroom slices, broccoli florets, onion slices, and celery pieces. Period. You can easily identify the ingredients without reading a list of them. No additives, sugars, flavorings, or preservatives are used.  There were, however, two stickers on the cellophane. One said "stir fry" and offered an idea for preparation. The other said "5$." The package and its contents were straightforward, informative, and honest.  To me, it represented the leader this good country really needs.

Food and Trump? It was a weird stretch of my thought process but I venture that it represents how much of my brain time is currently spent reflecting the absurdity of this crazy man and trying to make sense of him.

Maybe he isn't worth the effort.

Friday, March 31, 2017



TO:  Everyone In The Whole Wide World

FROM:  Americans in the USA

RE:  Global Status

We are still here. We still care.
Our status as a world leader is definitely undergoing a change, but we are still here. We care about the environment.  E.g., our Alaskan neighbors living near the North Pole might be relocating their villages soon because the melting ice is threatening to end their lifestyle and culture.
We don't all agree about the cause, but we are capable of working together to solve the threat to our land and people. We are supportive of our children's lives and futures. We wonder about a need to spend more on defense than on education. We care about our senior citizens and know that many of them need adequate medical attention. In fact, we are very aware that each of us, old or young or middling, deserves good physical and mental care.
We are still here.
Most of all, we know that "fake news" and "alternative facts" are not the truth. We can tell the difference between social media life and the real life of global friendship and the possibility of world peace through making connections with each other all over the world. Watch us stand up for ourselves and for all people everywhere.  
We are still here.
We still care.