The Pain Game

January 27, 2014

I’m in a lot of pain.  

My lower back is vulnerable to spasm in the lumbar region.  The pain ranges from mild discomfort to extraordinary cannot-move agony.  

My back can be good for months and even some years on end or flare up by doing the slightest movement in the wrong condition.  


I could feel the most recent outbreak looming before the big spasm. Despite my efforts to prevent it, the spasm debilitated me for three days.  

A recent X-ray did not show any abnormalities, for which I am grateful.  My younger self may have been disappointed that there was no concrete problem to correct, but my wiser current self knows that disk trouble would only complicate.  An MRI is scheduled for next week and if it is anything like the one from my back episode three years ago, it will reveal little if anything.  


Apart from physical therapy, my doctor has little to recommend.  I had been doing all of the exercises to strengthen my core and using caution when lifting.  My husband noted that these spasms correspond to emotional anniversaries or upcoming stresses.  With two parents recently gone and the normal stresses of a mother/wife/human – there are ample occasions to celebrate writhing on the floor in agony.  

I am no longer in the extreme pain, but my back still does not feel great. Today my stomach is tightening and a wave of nausea lingers during normal activities that should not cause pain. I could return to the Dr who I once visited with great frequency to target the trigger points.  I am optimistically trying Dr. Sarno’s book which exposes the mind – body connection.  Tension Myositis Syndrome is the physical manifestation of back pain from mental obstacles.  At least I think so. I can report after reading the book which should arrive this week.  It feels so indulgent to take a nap, especially with my cleaning lady and nanny both working as my son takes a nap.  High class problems! Real pain.  


Amazon should deliver it tomorrow.  

The Wrong Number

January 22, 2014


Before my first cell phone, a college graduation present, I had at most three telephone numbers.  My private line in college had voicemail where I would record silly greeting each time trying to outdo myself.  The succinct and efficient, “hello….No she’s is not here can I take a message” would catch veteran callers like my parents. 


The second number was for my parents’ houses.  My father did not have an answering machine and despite his desire for detailed and delivered messages he did not reciprocate.  He might scribble something resembling a message that would lay by the phone for days without acknowledging the recipient. That left my mom’s house complete with an answering machine and a favorable chance of me receiving information of an actual call.  As a result, family members could destroy more relationship attempts unconsciously than if they had attempted to an actual sabotage.   


Unlike today when we can track contacts over Facebook, Linkedin, email and text, I would entertain the idea that someone did indeed could not figure out how to contact me.  Nobody had warned me that he was just not into me. 


The benefit of the anonymity meant that it was easier to give false numbers that would not be immediately verified.  I’m sure the equivalent exists now, but as married mom I am not familiar with such brush-offs. 


Through poor handwriting, I had discovered that my phone number resembled that of a local hotline.  Dial my number except replace a scrawny “7” a “1” and reach Eddie, or Brenda at the Hamptons Transsexual Hotline. Twenty years ago this was even more taboo making adults and college kids snicker with amusement and so my sister and I discovered our false number. 

End of Life Support

November 1, 2013

Having experienced a disproportionate amount of loss in the last five years I have become proficient of the grieving process.  I can offer all the words of comfort to a mourner, share sympathies and some rationalizations to make sense of the loss no matter how sudden or expected.  I can ask the questions that a caregiver might want to hear during the ill’s end of life.  


Life has a zero percent survival rate.  

Nobody gets out alive.  

It is supposed to be difficult and awful.  
The grief is proportionate to the love. 

Loss is always too soon.  

Death is part of the cycle.  

And of course It could always be worse.


But just because it could be worse does not mean the moment and grief are seemingly unbearable.  Perhaps in worse situations the heart can find an even lower place to sink. 

And when we loose someone we love, religion tells us to Bless the Lord, whoever you may perceive as such.  Thank Him for allowing someone into our lives who we will miss.  Praise this higher being for He is the true judge.  We mere mortals think with our hearts and wish our family could live with us eternally on earth.  But they cannot.  And we know that.  But we still wish they could.  

The loss of my mom was devastating and shocking.  I could not comprehend how I could continue with her absence.  

Three years later, the loss of uncle was a painful surprise.  He was not part of my daily life so his passing did not dominate my thoughts and actions as my mother’s. 

The following year my father lay in a hospital bed telling me that he was not going to get better.  There was laughter and tears. If given the choice on one’s passing, my father would have gladly checked the box that said surrounded by family remembering great times.  But I was numb.  Somehow I had known in the months leading up to his bedside declaration that cancer was going to win.  Of course I did not want to believe it but I braced myself for it.  So the grief was not as shocking.  I had already faced my beliefs on death and afterlife, and memorized the script of comfort.  This is the right order of events.  It’s always too soon.  It could be worse. etc.

And last week my 99 year old grandmother who had buried two sons in the past 20 months passed away.  It should not have been a surprise.  She had scares before often having myself or another family member rush in to visit.  Better to come in and have some fun, then visit for the funeral, Grandma used to say.  Nonetheless her loss is painful.  There is a whole in the universe where this outspoken strong matriarch once commanded.  

And it is with these losses that my ancestry has disappeared.  As it is supposed to be, eventually.  And even then it will be too soon.  


I look to my husband, my three healthy children and thank the man above for my blessings.  

And I curl up in a ball wishing an elder was looking out for me here on Earth.  

This is the lot I received.  Some days I am more grateful for the family I had and the one I am creating, and other days the loneliness has a firmer grip.   


As I teach my children, you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.  


Over Father’s Day

June 11, 2013

Is this what I felt like all of those February 14th I longed for a boyfriend?  

This year my sister shares her birthday with Father’s Day just as she did on the day she was born.  I just cannot share Father’s Day with my dad.  


Going to my hometown this past weekend my father’s absence was so pronounced.  This huge void.  


This stream of consciousness capturing glimpse of pain that creeps up on me. And this week it will be exceptionally hard to avoid

First Father’s Day

June 11, 2013

Father’s Day is less than a week away.  My first Father’s Day of hopefully many that I will celebrate with my amazing husband and our fantastic family and not my Dad.  Four months after his passing I confront my first Father’s Day without Dad.  I overly appreciate my fortune in creating the family I adore and remind myself that it could always be worse.  And it could.  I’ll take this lot, with all of it’s baggage.  But it still remains a great pain. And this is my kaddish to bear.

Every year we’d don our sunscreen and hats, posing for photos in actual film.
“take another,” my dad would scream eager to use the camera roll.
And we’d go out to the strawberry field on the side of the highway doing the work of immigrant farmers who would become a significant presence in our community.

And then we’d take our bounty of strawberries home in the metal pots and plastic vegetable bags – those thin ones from the produce section – to save the cost of the cartons the farmer would gouge our family. We’d make strawberry jam, strawberry rhubarb pie, strawberry pancakes and strawberry presents. We’d load up in the car and drop off strawberries for friends. This was our Father’s Day and we went strawberry picking.

As I got pregnant and remained pregnated for three non consecutive Father’s Day we would still visit and eat strawberries.

LIfetime Goals

May 9, 2013

I know to count my blessings. Even the author of the Happiness Project says that people who do so are happier, yet she does not.  

I am healthy. 
I have a healthy family including three amazing healthy children and a really amazing husband who loves and supports me.  

I have two healthy siblings with whom I am very close.  I happen to have both of my grandmothers but, and it is a big but, I do not have my parents.  


I tell myself I am lucky that I have had such wonderful parents for as long as I did, and after fulfilling their mission on earth they had to leave. Their departure, which always comes too soon to a child was necessary to push me forward into my lifetime purpose.  


What my life’s purpose is, I’m not entirely certain but I have some ideas gleamed from watching two of the people I love most in the world depart. 

1. To be an honest mother wife and friend. 

2. Teach tzedukah or charity

3. Be a smart and cognizant business woman who enjoys her work and its results.  

4. And to have as much fun as possible without harming or compromising anyone especially my family.  


With humility, I think I am doing a great job.  I expect more challenges and obstacles to surface, as they do in life but most importantly I know I am going to be okay.  


having lost two parents in very different ways I’ve come to accept that nobody gets out alive. Every life has a beginning and an end.  Seeing my father’s end, surrounded my family telling jokes and reminiscing of happier moments is not an awful way to leave the world, something we all inevitably do.  And on my death bed I want to be with my family telling funny stories and remembering our great adventures.  

Balls of Sunshine

April 19, 2013

The other morning my five year old was difficult the entire fifteen minute walk to school.  She was filled vitriol as her two younger brothers rode in a stroller.  Lots of “I hate you”s and insults non stop.  

When I picked her up at school I commented on how she was in a better mood.  “Doesn’t it feel better to be happier.”  


She replies.  “Yes.  But I still hate you.”  


A moment later she tells me she’s joking.