Monday, on Tuesday

I definitely forgot yesterday was Monday. The only reminder I had was at 9am when my calendar alarm went off to remind me to go to physical therapy.  I was feeling pretty good, so
I was looking forward to going.  Of course, it is now the next day and I had a hell of a morning…woke up screaming (sorry neighbors,) used the heating pad for a half an hour, and took all my pills.  Still, no better, So I got up and went to my mother’s and had coffee, and sat in her chair which has good lumbar support, Slight improvement.  I went home and did my stretches and then Mark and I went for a walk.  Now I feel almost as good as I did yesterday, except it’s almost 1pm and I also feel like I wasted half a day.

I find it amusing that this sciatica thing happened right as I was finishing my main recovery from surgery.  There are still some foods I can’t eat, and I shouldn’t push, pull, lift or bend for another few months.  But right as I was coming off the restrictive diet and exercise, my leg started hurting.  Usually it goes away quick, but not this time. We are in week three now, I think.

And of course, it is my luck that something else crappy would happen right as I was starting to get better.  (If WordPress had a facepalm emoji, I would put it right here.)

Anyway, I forgot it was Monday after my appointment because I felt great so we decided to go fishing.  We went to one of my favorite spots, and saw lots of jumpers, but all I caught was a flippin’ gobi.  For those unaware, gobi’s are an invasive species, and if you find them, you have to kill them.  So that’s…awesome.

Then we headed home, and upon arrival, realized Marks’s wallet was gone.  So, this made us drive back out to the spot and search.  Thing is, when we were there, we were probably the only people in the park, save the lone bicyclist I saw.  When we came back, it seemed that a large family had set up shop right in the middle of the park and were having a party.  Also, the fishermen were out…all those folks who worked a nine to five and ran out to the water as soon as they could.

The wallet is gone.

We went home and searched the house, just in case, though I know the last time I saw it was in the car.  So, we searched the car, then cleaned the car, then organized the car for our upcoming trip.  Still, no wallet.

By the time all that was done, I was tired.  I watched a little TV and went to bed.

Then I woke up and it was Tuesday!  Damnit, I forgot to blog again!

I don’t know why I can’t keep to my own schedule right now.  There is just a lot going on at the moment, and I am walking around with this limp leg.  Also, numb fingers because I can’t find my hand braces!

Y’know, my birthday is in a couple of days…38 is gonna be a train wreck if this keeps up.

Pride Parade

It is June the third, and already I have twice heard the question “why do we have to have a whole month for the gays?”  Same reason we have a whole month for the blacks, and a whole month for the women.  Because it’s a straight white man’s world, and asking y’all to deign to acknowledge us once in a while isn’t too much.  In a perfect world there would be no need for such things, yet it is always the dudes asking that question who are the ones keeping us from that reality.

But this isn’t about idiots, it’s about pride.

I went to my first Pride in 2003, with a couple of friends.  I’m not gay, but I have many friends and family who are, so I have been an ally since I realized there was something to unite about.  It was magical.  The colors and the music and the people…it was all amazing.  I recall fumbling in my purse for a lighter when a drag queen in eight-inch red leather platforms approached me.  “Here, honey, I got you,” she said, lighting my cigarette as she towered above me.  I was sure I had seen her performing at Marchella’s, the local gay club.  I want to say she did Cyndi Lauper.  We chatted for a bit and smoked our cigarettes.  I told her I liked her shoes.

I went to the parade and after party many times over the years, back when it was on Bidwell Pkwy.  I haven’t been since they moved it to Canalside, but I can only assume it’s bigger and better now.  I wish that there were festivities this year I could attend. 

See, gay don’t mean a thing to me.   Once, when I was about nine, my mother came into the room while I was watching tv  for an “important talk.”  I had a friend who was three years older than me and had given me the sex talk around the same time she got it, so I was ready to shut down any awkward discussion my mother was coming at me with.  However, she asked me this: “do you know what it means to be gay?”  I nodded.  “And you know that Joe (my dads BFF) is gay, right?  Dave is his partner.”  Another nod.  Mom stared at me for a bit then said “well, ok then” and left me to my tv show.  I knew what gay was because I knew Joe was gay because someone told me once upon a time and it was just knowledge I already had.  I knew it meant he liked boys, not girls.  I also knew I did not care; I was just trying to watch tv.

Years later, my friend Mike came out to me, and I freaked out.  Now, this wouldn’t have been such a ig deal had I not been in the middle of a deep and painful crush on him.  I was mad, but I was mad at HIM, not at the gay thing.  I was mad that he lied, that he kept a secret, that he let me love him when he knew better. 

Alas…I was comforted when he told me I was the first.  I was the only person he had told.  I’m still not sure why that made it better, but it did. 

Over the years I had other people come out to me, a hazard of working in youth theater.  Every time I congratulated them and told them I was proud, because I was and I am.

Last night, around 1am, Mark went to the store.  He was chatting with the guy at the checkout and mentioned that he was having trouble sleeping.  So this gentleman gave my husband his phone number and what time he’d be off shift, and told him to text him if he couldn’t sleep.  Hubs, feeling perplexed, thanked the man, wished him a good night, and left.  He came home and told me this story.  My response was “good for him!”  Mark again seemed perplexed.

“Did he think I was gay?” he asked.  “No, he thought you were cute,” I replied.  Do you know how gutsy it is to just give a random dude you think is cute your number?  I mean, if you’re a woman.  Now imagine you’re a man and you don’t know if the dude is gay or not.  Extra gutsy…bordering on risky, some might say, but kudos to that cashier for taking a chance. 

Gay never bothered me.  It was always present in my life so it was never something that made me confused or cringy.  And when I grew older and learned of all the rainbow folks in my life, I embraced their diversity and culture and passion. 

So, why a whole month?  Why not?  Again, we should have Pride year, like Black History year and Women’s History year, because we have all also been here the whole goddamn time and we deserve some recognition for it.

Happy Pride.

Therapeutic

I swear, if it isn’t one thing, it’s another.  I JUST had surgery, and now I can barely walk?!

I didn’t write earlier this week because my leg had been hurting all weekend.  I have sciatica.  I usually get it for a bit and it clears up with a heating pad and Tylenol within a couple of hours.  This time is different.  This has hurt since last Thursday, getting progressively worse each day.  I went to the doctor on Monday instead, who prescribed everything: painkillers, muscle relaxers, nerve meds, and physical therapy.  

The last time I was in physical therapy, it was for my ankle.  When I was about 12, I was on a softball team.  I played left field, because I sucked at it.  Sports are not my thing.  Alas, one day a ball came right for me, and I registered that it would be a low catch, so I held out my glove.  The ball grazed it.  Then, it landed directly on my ankle.  Had I not slowed it down a bit with the glove, we probably would have ended up in the hospital that day, but instead I was told to “walk it off,” which made no sense since it hurt to walk. 

Cut to maybe five years later.  I have had massive problems with rolling or spraining my ankle for years.  One day at Sacred Heart, as I was walking down the stairs from Art class, my ankle rolled and I managed to tumbled down two flights of stairs.  I could not walk.  It wasn’t broken, I knew that, because the pain was only a dull throb.  However, I could not walk.  The custodian got me a wheelchair and took me to the nurse, who asked if I wanted to go home.  Most kids would jump at the chance to leave school early, but in my head all I heard was my old baseball coach saying “walk it off.”  It was just a sprain, like always.  I would be fine.  And, I was, that day…with a little ice and rest during Spanish class.

I really was not fine, though.  It swelled and bruised and when we finally got an x-ray, I was told there were several very old hairline fractures in my foot.  Physical therapy was prescribed.

I remember exactly two things from my time doing PT: putting my foot in the whirlpool tub, and that the therapist was HOTT.  I don’t know how long I went for, but both the idea of the whirlpool tub and the cutie therapist made me look forward to it.  When it was over, my ankle was stronger.  It still rolls on occasion.  And when the weather acts up, the ankle acts up.  But, it is much stronger than it was, so for that I am grateful. 

The PT for my leg is preventative.  Apparently, there isn’t much I can do but ride out the storm, and then try to prevent it in the future.  And ohmygod, I will do whatever they say.  It’s literally the worst pain I’ve ever felt, and this is coming from someone who just had major stomach surgery.  I would do anything to take this pain away right now, and the stretches and heating pads and medication are just not doing it.

So, yeah, it was hard to get myself to the computer to write, just like it was hard today to do it, too.  I am sitting in a comfy chair at the moment, though, and my hip hasn’t started to ache yet, so perhaps a poem will fall out of my fingertips?

No?  Just doom-scrolling Twitter?

Ok, then.

Goodbye, 5am

Today, Mark starts a new job.  This is wonderful news for him because, honestly, if he spent one more month in that toxic work environment that he called a job, I was probably going to have to bail him out of jail.  The man has been grinning and bearing it so long, I assume his jaw is aching terribly. 

He is very excited about this new opportunity, and I am very proud of him. 

But this isn’t about him…it’s about how my life has been restructured.

See, with this new job came a shift change that ultimately takes my daily timetable and throws it in the trash.  Now, I am what you would call a creature of habit, and I like things how I like them.  I get used to them, and am comfortable there.  My very favorite time of day is 5am.  At 5am, there is no one awake, save maybe a couple of birds tweeting in the tree outside.  I can watch the news and play on my phone and drink my coffee and be at peace.  It’s my “me” time, and I really love it.  Sometimes I wake up even earlier and just stay up to enjoy even more time alone in the dark.

But that’s over now.  Now 5am is sleeping time, and 5pm has become my “me” time, I guess. 

I mean, I woke around seven, which was earlier than planned.  (I’m thinking I can wake at 8 to make this schedule work.)  I did my usual morning routine, despite the presence of Mark, and around 1pm I became tired, so I took a little nap.  3pm found me dropping Mark off at his new job, and I was home before 4.  No one is sleeping and the birds don’t seem as lively right now, but I do have my coffee and I did play around on Twitter and now here I am typing my blog at 5pm.  Usually, my blogs come in the morning.  Not anymore.  Enjoy them with your dinner.

So now I have to keep myself busy all night, which is less easy because I don’t have errands and doctor’s appointments and such in the evenings, like I do during the day. The evening ahead seems almost endless.

But then I remind myself that this is not my first rodeo.  Mark has worked second shift before, and I managed fine back then, so why wouldn’t I now?  I just have to adapt, kind of like I do for daylight savings time.  (Though, as you may know, I complain about that loudly and often,)

So today is extra coffee day, because I need to start staying up late.  I am thinking of rearranging my bookshelves or perhaps even reading one of the books on them (gasp!)

Well…goodbye 5am, a time I have cherished for the past four and a half years.

Much unlike my husband’s previous job.

Recovery, Day 7.

I haven’t blogged in a bit because I haven’t been able to sit at the computer for a bit.  I got sick exactly two weeks ago, my gastroparesis throwing one final tantrum that lasted several days.  Then, one week ago, I awoke sick again and even more terrified than usual, because I had plans that day.  Big plans.

When I started vomiting blood, Mark suggested I throw in the towel and go to Mercy hospital to get checked out, but I wasn’t going down that easy.  Instead, I called my surgeon’s office, retching in the poor nurses ear, and asked what I should do.  She called me back and told me to go to Sister’s hospital ASAP.

The relief felt in that moment was almost as good as the relief felt when the anti-nausea drugs kick in.  My stupid stomach would NOT ruin this for me-but I knew it was going to be hard.

When I got to the hospital, they took me right away to a room and got me setup.  I knew I couldn’t get the “good” meds, the kind that calm me down or make me sleep, because they would interfere with the anesthesia.  So, they gave me one of those sea-sickness patches you put behind your ear and a dose of Compazine.  It didn’t work.  I sat there and waited for surgery, puking the entire time.

When they got me down to the OR, it was clear that the attending’s were not used to a “visibly” ill person in the room.  Everyone kept asking if I was okay, and what I was there for, and if it was related to the vomiting.  “I’m fine, I have gastroparesis, the surgery will help,” became my mantra.  They kept telling me that once the anesthesiologist came down, he would give me something to calm me.  It never really happened, because I blew my IV site right before going in, in classic Brigid fashion. 

They put me on the operating table and put a mask over my face and told me it was oxygen.  It smelled like perfume.

Then, it was over.

I woke up back in the prep room with an excruciating pain in my neck.  That turned out to be a central line, because they never did find a vein.  My stomach hurt, but no more than it had prior to surgery when I was sick, so it wasn’t my main focus.  The nurse with the ice chips was.

I spent the night in total pain until they gave me a shot around midnight and then I slept until six.  After meeting with a nutritionist, my doctor came in to tell me all was well and I could go home that night.  Originally I was supposed to stay longer in the hospital, so this was a delightful sur[rise.

I went home to recuperate, and I was thrilled to be able to have something to drink finally.  Alas, no food.  No food for two weeks, while my stomach heals up.  Then soft food for two weeks.  June can’t come fast enough.

No exercise for a bit, and recommendations fo rest.  I took to the couch with my protein shakes and Gatorade and recovered.  A week went by.

It’s hard for me to believe that it was two weeks ago when the flareup first started.  It seems like it was only a few days.  I am eternally hopeful that was my last episode, at least for a good long while. 

So, it’s now a week after surgery and I feel quite good.  Better every day, actually.  I am hoping that once this recovery process is over next month, I am able to return to living a life that I have missed.  I miss going to bed at night without a contingency plan.  I miss waking up in the morning without nausea.  I miss eating foods I love, or drinking a beer.  I don’t think I want too much, just the ability to enjoy a few things life has to offer that I have been missing out on.

(Also, I wanna know how much I’m going to weigh at the end of this, because this is definitely the most intense diet I’ve ever been on.)

Prohibited

I didn’t write on Monday because I was doing a thing I wanted to write about on Tuesday, but then that became a thing I want to write about next Monday, so I said screw it, and here we are.

When I was in about fifth grade or so, we learned about prohibition of alcohol in the 20s. It was in my textbooks, and also sort of presented to me as a nonsense thing that we were all grateful the country got over after a few years.  Those against it were painted to me as sort of religious extremists.  It all gave off a very “we believe this thing, and you should, too,” vibe, which even at the tender age of ten, I did not like.  I went to a Catholic school and we were taught to spread the Good News, but only to those willing to receive it.  It wasn’t about pushing it on people-that was disrespectful.  (Of course, if you were already baptized in the church, they will shove that stuff so far down your throat you will choke on it.  But that’s a different blog for a different day.)  The point is that I found it all to be a little silly.

Around the same time, we stared the DARE program.  DARE was a drug and alcohol awareness program that was supposed to keep your kid off drugs.  What it really did was explain all the drugs that were out there to impressionable children.  I mean, we knew about cigarettes and alcohol because it was the early 90s and everyone’s parents were smoking or drinking, But I didn’t know what pot was until that day in DARE.  Thanks, Kenmore Police Department. 

Miraculously, I made it through high school with very little exposure to drugs.  Cigarettes, I started smoking at 16.  My first drink was when I was 13.  A couple of my friends smoked pot, but I didn’t, because DARE told me it would kill me or make me an addict because people would lace it with things like PCP.

Then one day I watched a documentary about the history of cannabis.  I don’t know what it was called, exactly.  I really wish I did so I could recommend it, because it was a real eye-opener.  It made me realize that while some drugs DARE told me about, like coke and heroin and the dreaded PCP, were very dangerous, maybe cannabis was closer to alcohol than any of that.  And then the documentary went on to talk about prohibition of cannabis, and I was right back in fifth grade thinking how silly it was that once upon a time, you couldn’t order a beer.

It is many years later and almost every adult I know has used cannabis in some form, be it CBD, or hemp extracts, or good old-fashioned weed.  Then, a few weeks ago, it was legalized in New York state, where I reside.  I thought to myself, “gee…I wonder if this will be in the history books someday.”

Tuesday, the day I meant to update, was April 20th, also known as 420, which is like Christmas for cannabis users.  Mark and I went out to the Cattaraugus Reservation because there was a sale, and we got free hot dogs and CBD cigarettes.  Also, a basket raffle…I love me a basket raffle.  Driving home, Mark said “this is our first legal 420!”

It was.  Prohibition is over.  I still kind of forget that it’s happened.  Like…Mark had a drug test recently for a job, and I kept getting worried he would fail even though they do not test for cannabis.  I have thought prohibition was ridiculous for so long and now it’s over and I just need to adapt, I guess.

Is this how they felt way back when, when they took that first sip of an ice-cold beer?  Like guilty, but not at all?

The Winds of Change

Yesterday, I went for my first appointment to be cleared for surgery.  They took some blood (no small task with my invisible veins,) gave me an EKG, and then a chest x-ray.  Then, this morning, they called to tell me I have to come back in because they didn’t get enough blood.  Shocking, I tell you.

Next up is my Covid test in about a week and a half, followed by a check-in with my primary physician to make sure I’m good to go the day before.  Then, April 29th, the big day!  Followed by a month of recovery that will surely drive me crazy…but hasn’t my gastroparesis been driving me crazy all this time, anyway?

Then, the great change…the one I hope for: that I will be able to eat something that I want to eat without fear of losing it later on.  It seems so small and simple, unless you are living with gastric issues.  Then, it is a challenge; a hill you climb several times a day.  So, what seems like a small change to some is a very big one to me.

Change is in the air.  I have written about how stagnant I have felt during the winter and how that feeling is now melting away, and I am glad to see it go. I am noticing change in other people in my life as well.  Like my sister moving into her first apartment, or Sahar adopting a dog, or Mark having a job interview.  I have one friend, Carey, who has, in the past year, completely changed her life around, despite massive roadblocks thrown in her way.  I think about who she was a year ago and who she is now and I am awed by her strength.  I think to myself, I can’t be that strong. 

But I’m wrong.

I know I can be that strong because I have been before.  I have been physically torn apart, ravaged by the side effects of diabetes, which I have had now for over two decades.  I have been emotionally crippled by childhood and young adult traumas that still bite at my feet.  I am stronger than I give myself credit for.

As a child, I feared change.  I remember the first big change in my life, and that was the morning we moved from our home in Buffalo to one in Kenmore.  I like the idea of the new house, and particularly that it had a pool in the yard, but I had just started making friends and getting old enough to explore the neighborhood (or so I thought.  Truth is, Gramma made the decision to move shortly after a gang shootout on the baseball diamond across the street.)  I was very sad that morning, and did not want to say goodbye to my house or my new friends.  I tried to focus on the good things though, like the pool…even though it was only December.

When I got older, change got even harder.  In high school, there was a brief scare during which my father thought he might have to take a job in Rochester, which would pull me out of my school, which would have been unacceptable.  I raged against this for what seems like weeks until finally it was decided that no, we weren’t going anywhere.  I feared the idea of new territory, of a new city, and of a new school, especially.  I felt it again when I went to college.  And then, pretty much regularly ever since.

You can’t escape change; nothing lasts forever.

But you can be strong.  You can be a warrior, like my friends…like the one who saw what she wanted and went out and got it and changed her life.  You can make a decision in the middle of the night to drive to Missouri to pick up your new pup. You can call back that hiring agency and set up an interview. You can move into your friends apartment and out of your parent’s back room.

What can I do?  I can give up my time and my blood and get all my scary testing done so that I can get my scary surgery done for my scary disorder.  Then maybe, things will change, and it won’t all be so scary anymore.

Just gotta be strong.

Defrosted

Remember that day in school, when the teacher would finally open the windows while you were at lunch and you came back to the classroom to fresh warm air billowing in and it smelled like springtime and freedom?  Then you spent the whole afternoon staring out the window, just waiting for the bell to ring so you could run outside and play with your friends?  That is how today feels.

I am writing this blog, then doing some cleaning, and the truth is I just want to play hooky and go outside and play. 

I want to play in my garden.  I situated my indoor garden last week, and a couple of the friends in there need to head on out to the porch, which I intend to put together this weekend.  I also am in process of murdering some weeds in my front garden while waiting for my perennials to sprout. 

I want to go fishing.  I have been several times this year already but haven’t caught anything.  I want to go down to my favorite spot and plant my chair and cast my new pole and see if some little fishy is venturing up towards the sunlight, like me.

I want to go camping.  I am making that a reality this year.  I want it to be my birthday so we can roll off to the woods for the weekend and spend our time celebrating with family and friends.  I want to go hiking and cook my food on a campfire and lay down under the stars.

I want to have a barbeque.  This is always one of the first true signs of warmer days for me.  I want to get hot dogs and hamburgers and fire up the grill and have a cold beer.

I want to be outside.

Today it is supposed to get to a record 80 degrees here in Buffalo, and I just want to run outside and play. 

So yeah…short blog.  Go play.

24 Days

Quick background for the new reader: I have severe gastroparesis.  This means my stomach doesn’t digest food properly.  I have been living with this disorder for about five years or so, though I’m sure I had a milder form for many years prior to my docs finally figuring it out.  Maybe around age 25 I started throwing up, usually after eating too much…even though “too much” was hardly anything.  It wasn’t until I had my gallbladder out in 2016 that things got really bad.  They thought that was the culprit; they were wrong.

Anyway, five years ago, there was one solution and it was a major surgery to put in a pacemaker and it was in Cleveland.  No, thank you.

But time went on and things got worse.  Fortunately, science also progressed, and other options became available.  Mind you, there is no cure.  There is only treatment.

The best treatment, according to my surgeon, is a gastric bypass.  However, I just don’t weigh enough.  That was a truly bittersweet appointment.  Sad because I can’t get the surgery, yet thrilled because for the first time in my life a doctor said the worlds “you don’t weigh enough.”  The pacemaker option still exists, and is now right here in town, but involves several surgeries for the rest of my life to replace the battery every few years.  So, no.  I’d rather not.

Finally, we have the pyloroplasty.  This involves the pyloric muscle at the bottom of the stomach that in is charge of opening to the intestine.  Essentially, they cut it open and make a permanent hole, so it can’t clamp shut on me and prevent stomach emptying.  These were my options, so I went with door number 3.

Doc said he would set it up for the end of March.  Well, that came and went and I called the office, and the nurse there set me up with April 29th.  So, there it is, my surgery date.

I am currently waiting as I type this for the hospital to call me back to set up both a Covid test and pre-surgery screening. 

After the surgery I will be laid up for a little bit.  I will be on a two-week liquid diet followed by a two-week soft food diet.  Then, hopefully, provided all has healed correctly, I will be able to eat regularly for the first time in years.  (Also hoping after the diets to fit into the bathing suit I bought last year that was just a size too small.)

Am I nervous?  Very much.  I don’t like the idea of surgery, even though it will be laparoscopic and probably not much worse than getting my gallbladder out.  I more so don’t like the idea of being in the hospital afterwards, especially in a time when I can’t have a bunch of visitors and such to cheer me up.  I hope everything goes smoothly and I am out of there quickly. 

Then, recovery, which is always worse than actual procedures, but hey…I’ve done worse.  When I had my left eye done, I was on my stomach for an entire week….24 hours a day.  It was agony…but I did it.  I can do this, too.

So, in closing, I finally am starting to see a faint light at the end of the tunnel.  I am going to hope and pray very hard that I do not get sick anytime in the next 24 days, either.  (Although, it would be sweet to tell the staff at Mercy about my imminent surgery.  They would be excited for me.)  I am just dragging myself to the end of April, hoping that May brings me better feelings.

I mean…it has to, right?

April Fool’s

Today is April Fool’s Day, which I always thought was a kind of fun thing when I was a kid, but became more of a pain in the butt as I grew older.  I liked the idea of pranks, but never the prank itself. Then, 25 years ago, something happened that I wouldn’t call a prank, but sort of felt like one at the time.

A couple of days beforehand, my mother told me a secret.  She took a pregnancy test, and it was positive.  We were driving to our house in Kenmore from who-knows-where and I don’t really recall my reaction.  I didn’t think much of it.  To be honest, my twelve-year-old brain went straight to “she probably is just going through menopause.”

Then, April Fool’s Day.  Mom received a call from the doctor, confirming that she was indeed pregnant.  For a second there, I was waiting for the nurse to say “Ha-ha April Fool’s!” but I later learned that would have been very unprofessional.  Mom and Dad cried and hugged and I kind of smiled and went with it because what choice did I have?

Mom told me not to tell anyone but I went bowling later that day with my friend Jill and told her immediately.  The next morning in homeroom, I told my best friend, Christina.  Her response?  “Oh my God.  Your parents still have sex??”  Thanks, Chris, for that imagery. 

On Easter, we told the family.

Now, a little background on my mom:  she was 40, and she had her tubes tied after she had me.  So, really, it’s no surprise that my aunt yelled out “Holy shit!” in the middle of church when my dad told my grandma during the Sign of Peace.  Everyone was crying, and after Mass the priest even came to ask us what had happened. 

We went to my Aunt Ellie’s after, and they called my Aunt Cathy and told her we were having a family meeting.  Well, she comes over all in a panic because we have never had a family meeting before, and she thinks grandpa’s dying or something.  Dad told her the news, and she was both overjoyed and furious with him for stressing her out.  Then, a few days later, I spent the night at my Gram’s.  I was pouring syrup on my pancakes when Aunt Mary came in the kitchen.  She wasn’t at Easter, and somehow, she hadn’t heard.  I don’t know how that’s possible given my family, but there it is.  So, Gram urged me to tell her, and I did: “Mom’s having a baby.”  Mary then proceeded to yell at me about how that wasn’t a funny joke until Gram stepped in and vouched for me.  Anyway, my family was very excited.  Which was cool, to me, because I loved my family and if they were happy, I was happy.

I spent about seven months going about my happy little day without a care in the world.  Then, mom landed in the hospital for a month.  I survived on frozen lasagnas from my aunts and spent a lot of quality time with dad, but the whole baby-arrival thing still didn’t hit me.  It didn’t even hit me on Halloween, 1996, as they wheeled my mother into the delivery room while she was wearing a headband that had wobbly bats on it.  I wish I had a picture.

When it hit me finally, she was already here.  She was in an incubator being wheeled down a hallway and she was all red and her head looked like a turnip.

I washed my hands and arms up to the elbow.  I put on a gown and a paper hat, and I went in and sat in a rocking chair.  A nurse put her in my arms.

She was so small.

I took my finger and poked at her palm, and her tiny hand curled around my fingertip. “Hello, Bernadette,” I said. “I am your sister.”

Yeah, I was a self-centered preteen at the time who really didn’t grasp the life changes a baby would bring.  And it was hard, in coming years, for me to adjust to the new situation.  But everyday I would see her, and she would need me, and then I would do anything to make her smile.  April Fool’s Day is not my sister’s birthday, but it is the start of our adventure with her, and I wouldn’t change anything. 

Except maybe they could have called on April 2nd

Me and my little monkey.