Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Not so fast with this feeling good stuff!

I tried to take it easy. I felt well enough to move around without clutching the cute little pillow the night nurse (who really should be working days because he just talked WAY too much each and every time he came in my room at night to check my vitals) made me at the hospital. I could even walk without being hunched over. That's progress, baby!

So I came up with a small list of things to do. Easy stuff, nothing too strenuous. And I set the timer so I would be up and about for ten minutes at a time before sitting down to rest. And I was doing pretty good. I cleared off the dining room table, put away stuff that was on the kitchen counters, wiped down both of those areas, even sorted and washed a load of laundry. And between each item I took a break.

But...then the boys were dropped off right when I was about to take a break. We have had so much help the last week and a half it has been amazing, but alas, no one was able to host a playdate for A and B (J, on the other hand, went home from camp with a friend for the afternoon). DH had a doctor's appointment, as usual, so it was up to me. I sat down with them and wrote up a schedule for the afternoon (they do better when it's in writing) (so do I) and they started their Wii time. So it was a good time for me to take that break I had missed.

But....then the potential housekeeper knocked at the door so we could walk through the house and talk about what I wanted her to do. Ever do that before? I'm soooo glad I had a chance to wipe down some surfaces, because as I walked with her I kept seeing things through her eyes, especially as she talked about how she would need to do a deep cleaning the first time she comes out to do things like "degrease the dining room lighting fixture" (wow, it is pretty filty!) and "dust the baseboards" (hadn't really looked at the in a while - they're disgusting!). Don't get me wrong - I got a really good vibe from her; didn't at all feel like she was looking down on my housecleaning skills. And I'm excited to get started with her after I talk with my sis about how much she's going to charge me to see if she thinks that's fair in exchange for me watching her daughter four aftenoons a week (she better!). I am REALLY looking forward to someone to clean once a week, and cannot WAIT for the "deep cleaning" she promised. After we walked through the house, I made sure we ended up at the dining room table so I could sit down. I wasn't feeling too good by then.

After we talked about the nitty gritty details and she left, I realized that I now needed more than just a little sit-down on the couch. Luckly DH had just arrived home from his doctor's appointment, so I went upstairs to lay down.

Today I woke up pretty uncomfortable. In the interest of full disclosure (because I know what a stickler for honesty all my loyal reader are - ARE there any readers at this point?) I have been trying to avoid taking the pain meds so I can just deal without them. Thinking about it today, I have no idea why I thought that was a good idea. The doctor had told me it would take two weeks until I felt better. Yesterday was one week. I have to just suck it up and accept that I'm not going to feel perfect this week and allow myself to take it a little easier. I'm thinking up lots of productive things I can do sitting down, things like sorting and filing household paperwork, cleaning out and restocking the medicine closet (if DH can bring me what's in there one basket at a time and then go out and buy all the stuff I put on the list), sorting through all my teaching stuff that is currently residing in the basement (even if I WAS feeling 100% I would still need DH to go down there and get me one box at a time - I can't stand basements) - you get the idea.

Right now DH took the kids to "the good Barnes and Noble" (the one in DE that has a train table and small stage in the kids' section) with the promise that he would buy them each one book. I have quiet in the house. I believe I will take another dose of pain medicine, take five minutes (and no more) to put away some dishes drying on the counter, and then start working on the basket of papers that are right next to me. It's not the most exciting way to end this blog post, but that's the way it is.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Streamlining Cleaning

No matter what I do the house ends up getting dirty again. I know, I know, there are five people that live here, of course it's going to get dirty. But I keep trying to come up with some system that will somehow make it stay uncluttered. And no matter how good my intentions are, it never gets that way or even if it did get close, it never stays that way. I think I'm just too lazy.

So I came up with a brilliant idea: in exchange for watching my niece after preschool Monday through Thursday (my sister is going to start teaching full-time in September!) from 1 to about 4, I'm asking my sister to pay for someone to come once a week and clean the house. In fact, in an hour a lady is coming over to give me an estimate.

With our budget so tight, I could never justify paying for someone to clean the house. This last year has been crazy - in addition to DH's medical mystery that managed to steal days, weeks, and sometimes months from us with no warning, I started the year teaching many, many hours a week and by December was back to working full-time. When DH was able to work, he was also working full-time. I couldn't work up enough energy to clean.

When I was a SAHM I still was finding lots of side jobs to bring in some income, in addition to raising my three and watching my niece and nephew full-time. I know other people have it harder than I did and still managed to keep the house clean, but I had a hard time maintaining that.

Right now I am home still recovering from this stupid gallbladder surgery. It has been a full week, so today I am attempting to do a little bit around the house. I'm following FLYlady's advice and am using my timer - working for 10 minutes and then sitting down and taking a break for 10 minutes. Don't get me wrong - my DH has been amazing taking care of me and the kids AND the house this past week, and we've had so many other people bringing us meals, groceries, taking the kids for playdates. The support has been incredible. I've been using this great website to coordinate everything we needed and it has been invaluable. But there's still a lot of stuff you end up seeing while you're stuck in bed or on the couch for awhile, stuff that when you're up and about you end up ignoring, stuff that fades into the background after a while, but now it's driving me crazy! I hope my DH doesn't read that and think I'm at all implying that he has not done a good job around the house because that's NOT at all what I'm saying. I'm just kind of excited to feel well enough to finally get up and do a little bit.

And I'm extremely excited to know that a prospective house cleaner will be coming by soon.

My timer has beeped; Time to get my lazy butt off the couch and moving.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

And what can I learn from this?

I got the message on Friday that DH was not doing well and needed me to come home right after camp. His latest relapse started on Tuesday when he decided it would be a good idea to take the boys to the Franklin Institute. He only lasted two hours before he started limping and slurring his words. But on Friday a new symptom began: his eyes stopped moving from side to side. Since I now have my medical degree from Google, and have watched enough neurological exams to consider myself an honorary neurologist, I began doing a basic exam. When I asked DH to follow my finger, I saw that his eye were no longer tracking smoothly. Instead of following my finger like I expected, they moved in an extremely jerky motion, sometimes not even looking at my finger. At that point we decided to head to the ER.

The doctors ran all the usual tests (all of which came back normal) and decided to keep him overnight. On Saturday they ran a couple more tests. While we waited (and waited and waited) for the doctor to come in and discharge him, my stomach started hurting. Then it was my back as well. I couldn't find a comfortable place for myself. I tried laying down flat in his bed (DH was sitting in a chair by then), pushing my back against the wall, going for a walk up and down the hall, but it kept getting more uncomfortable. By the time I had walked downstairs to get the car and pick him up, I was definitely in enough discomfort to agree to go directly to the ER.

After a quick physical exam, the doctors were pretty sure it was my gallbladder, and the ultrasound confirmed it. They admitted me in order to do the surgery on Monday. Yeah, my last meal was lunch on Saturday, and then just clear liquids until they finally did the surgery on Monday around 2 or so. They were able to operate laperscopically, using four small incisions, but it still hurt a lot more than I expected. I opted to stay an extra night to help manage the pain, and I came home yesterday.

And just to show how much my DH totally rocks, I came home to a room that had just been straightened up, to a bed with fresh sheets on it and a huge helium "Get Well" balloon tied to it, and a cleaned off night table that had a big stack of magazines and fluffy new "chick lit" books and two "chick flick" DVDs.

There is so much more I can write about this. I could reflect on the reason this all happened, that maybe I was meant to learn compassion by switching places with DH, that he was meant to get a feel for being the one not in the hospital bed for a little. But my stomach hurts and I'm tired, so that's all I'm writing for now.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Welcome back!

What? You mean you've still been here? You mean, I'm the one who has been gone, the one who hasn't posted in over a month.


Well, welcome back to me, then.

For those of you just joining the party, let me introduce myself:

I have always felt that you can tell a lot about a person by how they choose to describe themselves first. With that thought running through my mind, I can't decide how to start my description. I guess since the kids are at theater camp and I'm sitting on the couch next to my DH ("dear husband"), I'll start there.

I'm a wife. I've been married to my best friend for fourteen years. We met in high school when we both auditioned for and were cast as romantic opposites in Harvey. We were "just friends" for two years and dated for four, so we have been together for twenty years.

I'm a mom. I have three kids - seven-year-old twin boys (A and B) and a five-year-old girl (J). A loves anything electronic, Legos, and music. He also has Aspergers Syndrome, which is a form of Autism. B loves his daddy, creating crazy obstacle courses like on Wipeout, and Star Wars. He also probably has A.D.D. and we are working on getting him evaluated this summer. J loves coloring and arts and crafts as well as teaching "dog school" to all her stuffed animals and dolls. DH and I agree that she has P.P.M.S. (pre-pre-menstrual syndrome).

I'm a teacher. I currently am running a preschool summer camp at the Jewish preschool I teach at during the school year. I also teach Hebrew and Religious School at my synagogue. Before I had kids I was an elementary teacher. After I had kids I found lots of ways to bring in money while I stayed home with the kids. I provided full-time childcare for my now six-year-old nephew and for my now three-year-old niece. I ran a Moms' Morning Out from my house two days a week. I even had my own Kids' Birthday Party Business, providing theme-based entertainment/crafts/activities at different people's houses.

I'm also CEO and CFO of this household. I am sure I could come up with lots of other words to describe the various jobs I have with relationship to the house (chauffeur, laundress, cook, etc.) but I think Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer kind of sums it up.

My blog used to be named "My Life as a Stay-At-Home-Mom" but once the boys were in school I started teaching nearly full-time (J was at the same preschool) and that name just didn't seem right any more. I renamed it "Keeping My Head Above Water" because most days that's just about all I can do, keep treading water so I don't drown.

Before last year, my life felt really, really full teaching preschool, attempting to run our household, and taking care of all three of my children's individual needs. And then things got interesting. July 10th of last year we began DH's bizarre medical journey, which, unfortunately, still has no end in sight. In a nutshell, DH has been experiencing Left-Sided Hemiparesis that comes and goes with no obvious explanation. He has been hospitalized five or six times at four different local hospitals, been seen as an out-patient by two different neurologists, a rheumotologist, a neuropsychiatrist, a Lyme Disease specialist, an Infectious Disease specialist, a neuro-opthamologist, his general practioner, a gastrointerolgist, a psychiatrist who specializes in Conversion Disorder, two different physical therapists, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, including two different doctors at Johns Hopkins. Each relapse lasts anywhere from as little as two days to as long as three months. Twice now the symptoms have affected both sides of his body. At its worst, he is unable to move independently and cannot be understood. At its best, he needs a cane and can lift his left arm about as high as his shoulder. And then sometimes, for no reason that we can determine, the symptoms vanish completely. We cannot predict when a relapse will hit, how long it will last, or how bad it will be. And even though he has undergone every test that every doctor can think of, we still do not have any idea what is causing his condition.

And that's my life right now.

I decided to name this post what I did because "streamline" is my new favorite word. A colleague recently told me she was working on streamlining some things at school for all of us and I instantly fell in love with the idea. My goal is to figure out how to streamline my life. I don't exactly know how, but I do know that I plan to blog about it, so YOU are invited to join me on this adventure. I would love to hear any ideas on ways that you have streamlined any area of your life; who knows - maybe I can apply it to mine!