Three Cheers for Acarbose!

I went to see the endocrinologist about a month ago.  I had been to see him in 2010 when I started having issues with my low blood sugar.  It was a bad situation.  I’d be out and about and without warning, down it would go to where I couldn’t even see.  I had no idea how low it really was until 2011 when I had a seizure the first night of Hanukkah in Jerusalem on the 4A bus.

In Israel I was tested and finally given the drug acarbose.  I really felt it changed my life.  No more of those wild lows where I felt like I was on some weird psychadelic trip with my vision cutting out on me.  No more seizures.  No more worries of being alone out in public.

But then I came back to the US.  And I had to get new doctors and scripts for my meds and this proved to be a huge problem.

I ran into a nurse practioner who refused to give me the meds I needed even though I had all of my prescription boxes with the labels attached.  Instead she turned me into the Department of Transportation for 1) having seizures, 2) having hypoglycaemia and 3) taking medication that could impair my ability to drive  (that also doubles for someone who is addicted to drugs).  If she had just listened to me, maybe I’d still be driving.  In the meantime I was back to the wild psychadelic trips and became very agoraphobic because I am always afraid I’ll have a low and a subsequent seizure when I am away from the safety of home.

Well, anyway, nearly a year and a half later, I am on anti seizure medication (number 1 taken care of) and on Friday afternoon my endocrinologist called and told me all my tests indicated that yes, I had hypoglycaemia (you don’t say…)

I had two choices.  I could go to a more specialized endo and get more specialized tests done which probably would result in some extensive surgery (read: remove part or all of my pancreas) OR I could try prescription medication to see if that would bring the condition under control.

I chose the medication option since I already have a Frankentummy and I don’t really want to Frankenize anything further at this point.  My endo said that would be his choice as well and then called in a script for the acarbose I had been taking in Israel, had asked for a year and a half ago from the nurse practitioner (until I could get an endocrinologist appointment) and had even asked the endocrinologist for at my first appointment.

I started taking it right away.

He told me to check my blood sugar 4 times a day and then bring my meter in and if it remains steady, they’ll sign the form for the DOT so I can get that much closer to driving again.  YAY!

In the meantime, I am happy.  I take the acarbose tablet when I start to eat.  I eat normally.  I don’t feel like I am going to die.  I don’t feel ravenously hungry in between meals.  I don’t have the fear anymore…I feel calm like I know that this is what I know will work…after all it Has worked so why wouldn’t it work now?

This is definitely a good thing!

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Six Words That Define Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

I subscribe to writing prompts and yesterday’s was to describe your current life situation in six words so here’s my stab at that.

Content in my four poster bed.

My first purchase when I came back from Israel and one that meant the very most for me was my bed. Prior to that I was homeless and a vagabond sleeping on a mattress on the floor. Having a bed frame and getting off that floor was a step up…literally and figuratively.

I had already met Scott because when I found the bed on Craigslist for cheap, he borrowed his daughter’s van and went with me to parts unknown to get it and the box spring that came with it.

We brought it back to my house….yes, the one without running water or sanitation…that I was basically homesteading off the grid in… and I remember the fun night we had figuring how to set it up with no instructions. It was an Ikea four poster white metal bed and I loved it. Sleeping in it that first night was heaven. To be off that floor and in a real bed was empowering a move that I can hardly describe in making me feel human again.

Not long after Scott decided that the conditions that I was living in were just too deplorable and offered me space at his house and I moved, leaving my bed behind.

And it was this past Thursday that finally, we were able to move not only all of my other furniture – an antique buffet, my dining room table and chairs, an antique armoire, a bookcase (can you have too many?) and a dresser for Evan – but also my cherished bed to my new home, finally leaving all of the horrible past that happened to me when I first returned from Israel behind.

So yes, those six words sum up how I felt yesterday very eloquently – content – very content – in my four poster bed.

Settling In

Up to this point, I have been rebuilding my own life from the ground up. Rebuilding inside and outside. Therapy has helped on the inside and for the outside I have acquired shoes and clothes and lots of books and yarn.

This week I have taken a new step in the rebuilding process.

I had some of my furniture still left in my old house. It hurts me so much to be there that I cry tears of such pain every time we have to go there. Scott and I had planned to get the boys to help and on Thursday this week, we would move my cherished furniture from my old house to my new house — the house Scott and I share.

I was entirely too upset to be a part of the “festivities” so I stayed home and worried myself into a migraine and upset stomach while the move was made but I was so happy when they arrived home and everything was brought inside.

We celebrated with pizza and donuts and by putting our bed together last night. We couldn’t get the box springs up the steps (they say that love grows best in small houses but come on!) but we still had the slats under the mattress so until we can get a set of separated box springs, it works.

In the meantime, there’s a lot more storage space which after rebuilding with clothes and shoes and books and yarn, I need a LOT of. AND there’s a lot of organizing, rearranging and homemaking to do.

And that, I think is the next step in my rebuilding. When I was out shopping last evening, I looked at tablecloths and bedspreads and dishtowels instead of clothes and cute socks. I think I am moving onto thinking of things around me and outside of myself.

I am moving onto making my house into my home and that’s a huge step forward for me…a long way from where I was two years ago and yet, a long way still from where I hope to be in two years.

There is a difference though that is the key. This time around I have dreams and I see myself in them.

Childhood Memories

I know we are all used to those posts filled with bright green grass, sapphire green pools and brightly colored hair ribbons hanging off perfectly curled ponytails swinging behind the gossamer curtains of childhood memories mixing with the smells of vanilla and strawberry and all those special things which take those writers back to perfect childhoods.

And those are very good posts…they’re just not MY posts and, really, they never WILL be MY posts.

I thought a lot about it today. What is my favorite childhood memory? Do I even have one? Do I have ANY happy memory?

While it’s well-known I don’t have a lot of memories of the years between 4th and 12th grade (and thank Gd that my best friend Christine keeps those memories very much alive for my son Evan for me…and keeps them for me when I am ready for them) – I have memories of my young childhood. I remember where we lived, where I went to school, the kind of saddle shoes I wore in third grade (black and white as opposed to brown and tan which is the kind I REALLY wanted), my brownie uniform that I wore every week to school and then walked to the Methodist Church in town for our meetings.

I remember the house we lived in, the year we lived with my grandparents and everyone forgot my birthday and then got me an old applesauce cake from the Thrift Store after we had supper. I hate applesauce cake to this day.

I remember the year I had a skating party for my birthday and I got beaten afterward. Beatings on my birthday were kind of expected. That particularly birthday I was also raped by an older boy who was visiting us. Later I was beaten for that too because, of course, it has to be a just-turned-8 year old little girl’s fault right?

And along with that I remember the same house and brutal beatings, the blood and the police who came as the sun rose and the broken glass and the screams going unanswered. Cries for help echoing in the subdivision in which we lived, blood curdling screams as faces were broken, glass was shattered and little girls were scared into silence.

Yes, there were happy times I suppose. I have seen some pictures that other people have. I don’t have any. My sister took all the pictures long ago and never gave any to me. She says I don’t belong to her family and so I don’t deserve any.

Whatever.

Maybe if I had happy pictures I’d convince myself it was all happy even though in my heart I know it really wasn’t. But I am also not so jaded as to think it was all bad. I know that everything is not so black and white.

But could I pick out a sunshine and rainbow moment of happiness that was all encompassing that involved time with my immediate family? Let me just say I qualify this only because I did spend so many happy moments with my grandmother and it was only with her that I can say I ever felt truly safe and happy. So my question then becomes and the question I have been framing is…

Do I have a happiest moment from the childhood I spent with my mom, dad and sister?

Sadly, the answer is no. I can’t for the life of me really think of one. And yet, there were opportunities. The Harlem Globetrotters Game, Disney World, so many opportunities.

But each opportunity that I think of was tainted either by a violent fight or by some other situation that had no business happening.

I don’t really know how to say this other than to just come out and say it. I can allude to it and it’s hard to just say. I can’t freely talk about it yet but if you want to know why I have no favorite childhood memory, this is why – being molested can ruin everything that ever comes after it. No matter what that “everything” is…nothing will ever be happy again no matter how happy it seems.

Remember that.

Recapturing Shabbat

I’ve talked before about how all of my issues over the last two years caused me to fall horrendously down the ladder of observance.  I particularly miss my Shabbats.

Shabbats in Israel were particularly special to me.  I spent them usually alone with my Boy, and we’d often take some smoke on our nargila (hookah) which I know is BAD but which we found to be SO Israeli and so relaxing, to start our Shabbat.  We’d listen for the Shabbat siren to sound signaling when we’d watch the Jerusalem sun begin to set and we’d light candles together.  Then we’d bless the wine and challah I’d bought that day and have the wonderful meal I’d cobbled together.

I loved it.  WE loved it.

Then we came back and were separated and even though eventually we were brought back together, baruch Hashem, I’d seemed to have lost everything.  I was pretty much homeless and couldn’t drive.  I was living in a home that I wasn’t yet comfortable in and I wasn’t comfortable with being me.  I was deeply troubled and depressed.  That year I couldn’t even bring myself to acknowledge the High Holy Days, much less celebrate them.

I HAVE started to feel better and I feel much more at home both in my skin and in my surroundings.  I made it to Rosh Hashanah services this year and celebrated the holiday as best I could with festive meals at home but Shabbat, Shabbat has eluded me for some reason.

Oddly since Scott and I became engaged, I have stressed that it’s very important for me that he convert before we marry.  So…since he was interested anyway, he has chosen to take the step now.  And…given that, we are attending conversion classes together.

The topic this week was Shabbat and on the way home Scott said it was curious why sometimes I lit candles and sometimes I didn’t.

Right then and there I knew that as important as I knew it had been for Evan when  was growing up (and even now – he will light sometimes when I don’t but not every week) it is now just as important for Scott’s fledgling neshama…maybe more so since he is so new to ALL of this and religion in general.

So this week I got over it.  I made challah (which I HAVE been doing pretty much every week since the beginning of this year) and I baked a sour cream bundt cake for everyone to enjoy.  I made chicken in the crock pot and a cholent in the other crock pot for today.  We lit candles, blessed the children, blessed the wine and challah and ate together.  Havdallah candles were found and grape juice placed at the ready.

I made Shabbat come and I am really glad I did.  I watched the Shabbat candles glow and then fade out and I felt happy that I had tried and succeeded.

We attended services on Saturday morning and as I prayed the long lost but familiar prayers I knew they were and always would be a part of me, just like Shabbat.  I just had to make them come out and just like Shabbat…they were there all the time.

I really just had to light the candles to see that and watch it glow in everyone’s faces.

What Makes You Happy

It’s easy to write a blog post about those things that make me unhappy…and Lord knows I have written a lot of those lately.  But what about those things that make me happy?  I know it shouldn’t be that hard so why don’t I write more about them?  Tonight I plan to do just that.

Sometimes when I am in the abyss it’s hard to think of anything that would make me really HAPPY.  I mean what IS happiness anyway?  But the reality is I know what happiness is.  Happiness is beig with my son even when he’s rambing away for the gabillionth time about exacting revenge on the unsuspecting victim of the day as his alter ego, the Oera Ghost.  Happiness is looking at my two freaky dogs when they are sleeping and wanting to hug and kiss them.  Happiness is listening t o “I’m Just a Gigilo” at the end of my walk when I am on my way home.  Happiness is hugging Scott when he comes home from work.

See?  That’s not so hard.

Happiness is knowing Shabbat is right around the corner.  Happiness is being an Israeli citizen and aving had the greatest experience in my life of living in Jerusalem with my son.  Happiness is having a warm home and a soft bed and heat and air conditioning and a mixer to make cookies with.  Happiness is having running water.  Really.

Happiness is having a best friend who listens when the going gets rough and who isn’t afraid to say, hey, listen to ME when I get lost in myself.  Happiness is being safe.  Happiness is being loved.

There are so many things to be happy about.  Probably way more than there are to be sad or angry about but sometimes it seems that the bad things seem so enormous and overwhelming.  At least to me they can be consuming.

I hope that when I am down or sad or overwhelmed I’l remember to come back to this post or even just to my private journal and be happy in the moment because there are so many happys to put the bads in their place.

Riding the FACT Bus

Last week I had to take the local paratransit.  Because I get medical assistance, I am qualified to ride the bus and because I had an appointment that was overlapping a commitment Scott had to attend to, I had to take the bus.

I have to admit I was terrified.  I didn’t know what to expect and there wasn’t much I could do about it.  I just kind of had to grin and bear it and hope it wouldn’t be as bad as I thought it was going to be.  Unlike my trip to the synagogue on Rosh HaShanah, I didn’t have the chance to prep with my therapist Kellye prior to my bus ride…this was a cold turkey bus ride.

The good thing about the bus is that the driver, Jack, is a really nice guy who makes you feel really comfortable right from the start.  He’s happy and talkative and seems to understand if you’re not so much.  He called about 30 minutes before he came just to tell me that he was on his way and what time I should be outside….cool.

I sat outside and waited.

At exactly 11:15 when he said he’d be there…the bus rolled around the corner and I got on.  Little did I know it was the “party” bus!  There was one person on when I was picked up and she was chatting away with Jack which was fine with me.  Then we dropped her off and picked up three more people who were regulars apparently and they just laughed and chattered away.

I felt a little conspicuous sitting in the front seat and definitely out of place.  My face was warm and the bus was hot.  I felt like I was going to throw up the entire ride but I made it.

We got to the road where we’d have to turn left to get to our destination….I was consumed by my panic and nerves and I jumped up and told Jack to turn…and he was all like, “I KNOW dear, I come here all the time, don’t worry!” and then laughed at me.

PUBLIC HUMILIATION as the rest of the party bus laughed along.

Inside I knew they weren’t laughing at me…well, maybe they were.  And if not, when I got off the bus and lost my balance and almost fell down, well, you get the point.

But, the real point is that I did it.  And it was a HUGE step for me.  Do I want to do it again?  Actually I do.  I need to do it again to make it not so weird and not so strange.  So I can maybe be a quiet part of the party and feel like I belong more and not feel so much like I felt – a fifth wheel on an already unbalanced bus!

Still, after I got my balance back and walked into my appointment I knew I had taken a major step for me.  It may seem really small to most people and even for me, given my past life – the chick who left it all behind and moved to Israel and made a life for herself and her son despite everything for two years and would do it again in a heartbeat (her heart tells her) – it seems a little trivial, but I know given where I am at mentally now, it was one of the biggest steps I could take right now.

I don’t know when or if there will be any more big steps, I just know there was this one and I am very proud of myself for making it.