• 13Dec

    So, apparently I have Essential Tremor. There’s no test for it. But I shake. And it’s ‘familial’, meaning inherited. Dad had it. It’s not just visible shaking. I shake inside. So I feel like I’m vibrating. Although I’m still trying to figure out right now, I can’t help but wonder what the future will be like. The shaking’s enough, but Dad had dementia issues. I remember him periodically doing things like going to pick up food with a fork he hadn’t put in his hand yet. He was in his 70s then, so we just quietly handed him a fork.

    Apparently, it’s not unusual for ET to start in your 40s. The progression is different for everyone. The cerebellum is believed to be the source, since that’s the center for movement. The usual test for ET is a writing test, to see if your handwriting is shaky. I’m not that bad yet. But will it eventually affect my writing? Typing? Driving? Even steps?

    The cerebellum “is also involved in some cognitive functions such as attention and language, and probably in some emotional functions such as regulating fear and pleasure responses.” (Wikipedia) These things are the center of my being. What happens when I have problems with them? Is worrying about it making it worse? I’m finally finding my life, and it’s becoming intellectual. I don’t want that taken away. Ever.

    Of course everything I know about ET is from reading online, or in journal articles. The neurologist I saw didn’t even say “ET.” He said “I’d deal with it” (the shaking). It was my primary doctor who said ET. He’s pretty sure because he knew Dad. I think he was trying not to make it a big deal, but said there is medication that I can take in the future. Apparently the main ones are propranolol which is a beta-blocker, and primidone which is an anti-epileptic. Speaking of which…

    I had a seizure about, oh, 25 years ago. Just one. Throat spasms led up to it. While investigating my recent shaking, a neurologist gave me an EEG. Yes, the seizure activity is still there.

    To make things more interesting, I went through a period of panic attacks. (Wow, I sound like a basket case…I’m really not) Bad time in my life. I’m currently going through a stressful time buying a house. And it’s all rearing its ugly head.

    More than a little unnerving.

  • 02Jan
    Written by: Categories: Family, Thought Comments: 0

    menuMom and Dad moved ‘back’ to the assisted living facility they had lived in. The dining room was a long walk from their apartment. Mom made it pretty far, but then started to lose her balance. Dad kept on going. She made a suggestion about her care. I said then we’d have to have _____ come 24/7…a caregiver who was coming once in a while. I was worried about money after having someone 24/7 for Dad. Of course, that’s what we did in real life. It didn’t make sense in the dream.

    Then Mom announced that she’d decided she was ‘leaving’ Dad and moving to a nursing home. It was odd to me that she said she was leaving him, since what she really meant was moving somewhere else. And I couldn’t understand why she would choose to live in a nursing home. That’s all I remember.

    Perhaps I was warning myself about the dangers of passivity. Mom’s dream attitude was pretty much the same in real life. And there was Dad, in the background, moving forward without anyone really noticing. Two parts of myself. And I seem to be resisting the one that has been strongest most of my life. The nursing home is comparable to this apartment. I need to continue on to the dining room. And fill up on what nourishes me.

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  • 04Jul
    Written by: Categories: Holiday Comments: 1

    It was so incredible out this morning, I went to the lake. I sat by the edge for a while, listening to the water lap, enjoying the mucky smell only lakes have.

    The 4th of July was the holiday our extended family would all venture to North Jersey to spend the weekend at my aunt and uncle’s lake house. We ate lunches and dinners at big picnic tables outside – fruit, potato salad, cold cuts…the usual summer fare.

    Mornings were cool and quiet. We would wander down to the house for breakfast from the detached garage-turned-guest room where out family stayed. Mom and I emerged from the garage one morning and I said, “Listen, an owl!” That’s when I learned the sound of a mourning dove.

    Breakfast was on the screened porch, little individual cereals, grapes, peaches, eggs for those who wanted. Everyone was relaxed and ready to spend the day recreating. Time didn’t matter. The day was guided by the light and our rumbling stomachs.

    Dad took me out in the rowboat once – just the two of us. And who should we come across but my uncle who had taken his sailboat out and capsized it in the brisk wind. It was impossible to get back up when that happened, so we gave him a ‘ride’ back to shore.

    The atmosphere out on the water was so much different than it looked. So quiet and calm – only the sound of water lapping against the boat, the oars turning in the oarlocks, maybe a faint voice from the other side of the lake.

    When my three male cousins were younger, they were quite the pranksters. One year they attached firecrackers to things – the bathroom doorknob, my sister’s suitcase – you never knew when one would go off. Remnants hung from the doorknob for a long time after. Another year they put a smoke bomb in the outdoor storage area under the porch while everyone was breakfasting and yelled “fire!” I was impressed that my aunt was perfectly calm. She’d raised two of the boys, and knew what it was all about. She had quite a sense of humor.

    The night of the 4th was for the ‘hootenanny‘ and fireworks. The hootenanny consisted of grilled burgers, hot dogs cooked on sticks over a bonfire, and, of course, sticky s’mores. When it started getting dark, on came the festive colored lights that hung in the trees, and on came the sweatshirts to warm us in the cool night air. The male cousins would row out to an island to shoot fireworks toward the main land so we had a perfect view. My jolly, rotund aunt led us in exaggerated “oohs and “aahs.”

    The rest of the evening would be spent just hanging out outside by the bonfire, kids in the grass, adults in folding chairs, all fending off mosquitoes and passing around the Off! It was always a little odd for me, being 4 years younger than the next youngest family member. Just enough of a gap to be ‘little’.

    When we went to bed, our family would lie awake for a while, each quietly reading our respective books. One year my book was “The Short Reign of Pippin IV,” the book that Dad was always trying to get someone to read. I think those nights were the best family time I remember.

    After ruminating on past Independence Days, I took a brisk walk to the car – past the picnickers, boaters, and families biking…the smells of grilled food, dog walkers, and fathers and sons fishing. By the time I left there were large groups gathered to celebrate the day. I headed back to my cluttered, characterless apartment to prepare my own individual ‘picnic’, watch a DVD and pretend I’m not spending yet another holiday alone.

  • Dad


    lauraswimmingLOAnother Father’s Day down. It’s been a year and a half since Dad died. You have no way of knowing what it will really be like when he’s gone. We never really made a huge deal about Father’s Day. It wasn’t a day we spent grilling with the family. We’d do a card, maybe a little gift, say Happy Father’s Day, and that would be it. And when I lived far away, it was just a phone call. But it seems those little things were big enough to say “I love you, Dad. And today I thought of you, individually, apart from Mom or anyone else.”

    It was a Saturday trip to Herb’s Hobby Shop with Dad when I discovered the Jaguar XKE. It was one of those days that he was going on errands and asked me if I wanted to go. We ended up at the hobby shop looking at model cars. It’s been my top car ever since.

    Dad taught me which way to turn a screwdriver to tighten and loosen a screw. He was fixing the doorknob on the linen closet door. I don’t remember if it was one of the times he asked for an extra pair of hands, or if I was just watching. But I always remembered which way to turn.

    I was blessed to have the last years with Dad. It was like we had our own Father’s Day, just the two of us, every day. I miss you, Dad. TTFN

  • 08Feb
    Written by: Categories: History Comments: 0

    I hope whoever reads this will bear with me as I haven’t written in many, many years. So the tone and style seen here will change, morph, and hopefully develop. I will be experimenting and discovering as I ponder. I hope to use this blog as a vehicle to get all the stuff out of my head and be able to see it more clearly.

    Recently helping my elderly parents for 3-4 years changed me in many ways. I became more assertive to get what was necessary for them. I learned so much about them and our relationships. And about me as a product of the two of them put together. Of course, I think about having taken them for granted for too long, as seems to happen to too many people. But I don’t dwell on that thought because I’m so thankful for what we became before each of them passed.

    Mom died in 2004, and I continued to be the main driving force in Dad’s care. That time with him had a huge impact on me. We became buddies. And we had complete trust in each other. I’m seeing now that there are a lot of things I seem to only be able to get myself to do when it’s for someone else, rather than myself.

    Having been in limbo since Dad died in 2007, I decided it might be helpful to write some of the random and abstract things in my head to try and make sense of them. Maybe then I can figure out where to go next.