Sunday, December 12, 2010

Three more weeks to a New Year

Quite unbelievable how quickly 2010 seemed to pass.  Lots went on.  Several BIG happenings in my life.  Last March, I lost my Dad.  He struggled with Congestive Heart Failure ... & seemed to get weaker and weaker with each passing month.  I was fortunate enough to have made the decision to spend time in Florida about a month or so before he died.  It was a wonderful, yet tough visit.  He was fading fast, but still maintained the stubborn Czechoslovakian within.   I think that even at the ripe age of <almost> 88, he still didn't see himself as being "old".  OR, he simply didn't want to. After much bickering, he would finally agree to use his walker, yet when I awoke to find him walking to the bathroom at 3 am WITHOUT the WALKER, I lost my cool.  I'd never "fought" with my Dad.  I was never really allowed to do so.  (I'll save THAT explanation for another post, though.)  I PLEADED with him to use the darn thing.  He fell once while I was there (and was hospitalized) and one week after I left, again--that was the REAL beginning of the end.  A wonderful, stubborn man!  THAT was who my Dad was.  But I was always Daddy's girl.  To tell you that I miss him dearly is a huge understatement.  He passed away a little over four months prior to my becoming a Grandmother--the second huge occurrence for me in 2010.  Along with my having my OWN baby 25+ years ago, this has been such a huge source of happiness in my life.  And although my granddaughter is not my "blood relation" (she is the daughter of my stepdaughter), I couldn't love her more if she were "blood-related".   That kind of stuff is BS to me.  My (step)daughter, as far as I'm concerned, is my daughter.  Not to take anything away from her's just that I love her as much as I would have had I given birth to her.  Watching her with little "N" is heart-warming.  She is, and will continue to be a WONDERFUL Mom.  And thirdly, my son made it to Broadway!  Only 25 years old and apparently the youngest Music Director on Broadway (I was told)...we ALL couldn't be prouder!!  To see him and HEAR him on that stage, belting it out (the last number of the show) made me cry happy tears EVERY time we saw it.  All 'n' all, FIVE times.  We're going one last time in two weeks, as the show is sadly closing.  But that's OK!  There's so much more in his future, we're not worried at all.  So as you may have noticed, there is a pattern here.  It's about FAMILY.  My family and my friends are everything to me.  Having lost three aunts, one uncle and my Dad all in the past two years--I feel like I've taken a real hit.  My Mom is nearly 80 and has always been fiercely independent.  And yes, she's now  starting to show her age.  So of the "older relatives", it's my Mom and it's my Aunt (Dad's sister), and my Mother-in-law.  And that's it.  I truly hope that between my husband and myself, we can continue to maintain relationships with our siblings, cousins, nephews and children "without incident".  We all need one another.  Perhaps we need to continue to instill this in our younger family members, as they may not REALLY understand yet.  But they will, just as we learned from those before us.  (I guess we really WERE listening!)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gift of Life (and Love)

One week ago, I went for a kidney transplant consultation at the advice of my regular nephrologist.  Because of my Lupus, I now have 25% kidney function--not too good, eh?  Surprisingly though, my kidneys are not bad enough to go on the transplant (waiting) list...not yet anyway.  My GFR (otherwise known as kidney function) needs to be 20% or less for me to even get my name on the list and that's not all.  The waiting list in question is between 5-7 years for a cadaver kidney.  WOW.  Talk about staring your LIFE dead-in-the-face.  So in the meantime, we wait to see if my twenty~five year old son is a match.  I've been feeling VERY conflicted about him even being tested, but being that he is of proper age to make such a decision--I didn't stand in his way.  He was insistent.   So, I've got no other 'live donor' options at this point.  I thought my brother was a possible donor until I found out that he's been on blood pressure med's for four years now.  So, he's out.  My husband doesn't have the same blood type as I have (O+) so right off the bat, he was out.  Quite a predicament--and as sick as I've gotten over the years, I really never thought I'd be facing such an frightening dilemma.  BUT I AM.  And so, like every other obstacle and challenge I've faced in the last thirty~two years, I face this one HEAD-on.  Full-force.  Full-steam-ahead!  Strong in the belief & the conviction that I will prevail and triumph over this 'little annoyance'.  Just another 'ding' amongst life's dings...and let's face it, we've ALL got 'em.  Some of us just have larger dings than others.  So for now, I wait.  And while I wait, I dream of how different my life can be once I'm on the other side of this.  Me, only better.  *I can live with that.* 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's a constant struggle, to remain optimistic & hopeful ... especially on days like today.  It took every ounce of my strength to shower & get dressed this morning.  I managed to walk the dog but now the task of emptying the dishwasher seems as daunting as climbing a mountain.    So it occurred to me that what I WAS able to do was to here I am.  The words don't always come easily.  So I stare at the white page waiting for inspiration.  Waiting for MOTIVATION.  Waiting for this day to pass because maybe if I'm lucky, tomorrow will be better.  And it usually is.  And if it's not, I'll do what I usually do.  Bitch a little, rest a lot & hope for a better day ahead.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I'm so fortunate to be surrounded by a great group of friends.  Some I've known since elementary/junior high/and high school days & others I've met only through the computer (lupus support groups, a.v.n. support groups, facebook!), some I've never even met in person.  Wow, what a world!  It helps tremendously when you're at your low points & someone tells you that they know how you're feeling or they can't imagine how you're feeling, but they're there for you.  Powerful.  The friends who have seen me through the worst of times have really gotten to know my issues.  The best-laid  plans are often distinguished by an unexpected 'lupus headache' or a sudden drop in energy, like say last night.  I was supposed to meet up with friends after a crazy day of driving an hour to the airport to pick up my husband following a two day business trip, rushing to a family function, but as luck (or UN-luck) would have it, I was wiped out.  I was anticipating that that might be an issue, but thought maybe THIS time I could manage it, somehow.  I always think that I could manage it--or maybe I'm just *hopeful* that I'll have just enough in me to get through it all.  I was supposed to spend the night (with said friends) and enjoy hanging out together for the day.  But, here I am in my PJ's instead.  And then within moments, my mind automatically goes to "Well, I guess it could be worse.  I could be in the hospital"!!  <sigh>  It's helped me to cope.  Knowing that things could always be worse really does put things into perspective because let's face it, even when we think we're in the midst of the worst possible scenario, there's always a situation BEYOND that could be SO much worse!  So for example, when recently I was barely able to walk through the streets of Paris, I thought "Well, at least I'm HERE"...or..."It could be worse.  I could be a parapalegic, so just make the best of it".  Disturbing, perhaps--but it has helped me to cope.  I suppose I learned a lot about coping from my parents, two tough individuals who survived The Holocaust.  They taught me to be strong & resilient, not only through their words, but through their actions as well.  So, THANKS Mom & Dad for giving me the tools to welcome every day (or most days) with a smile and an inherent belief that I can HANDLE it, whatever "it" may be!  And Daddy, I see you in my dreams & hope you're in a better place.  I miss you with all my heart.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Beginning

OK.  Where does one begin?  At the BEGINNING, of course!  So, I'll start by introducing myself.  My name is Judy and I'm a 50 <ahem> year old woman (still getting used to that number), living a wonderful life with my wonderful husband.  Our kids are grown and are living their own wonderful lives, what more could parents ask for?  My life really IS wonderful.  My husband just recently surprised me with a trip to Paris (for my 50th) and prior to that, our daughter had a beautiful baby girl!  And if that weren't enough, our son just made his Broadway debut.  WOW!  So, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!  ON THE OTHER HAND...I'm living with many challenges, due to a chronic illness I've been battling for more than 32 years.  I have Lupus, an inflammatory, autoimmune disease which affects my joints, my skin, my energy & my kidneys.  It can affect any organ in the body and most often affects women, usually in their child-bearing years, (though not limited to).  I was a senior in High School when I was diagnosed and by the time I was a freshman at college, the shit really hit the fan.  I've been on chemotherapy twice (for months at a time) because my regular meds were not enough to combat the "lupus nephritis" which attacked my kidneys.  My REGULAR meds in turn attacked my bones (hips & shoulder, so far) which is why I've had both hips replaced, my first surgery occurring when I was 28 years old.  I could go on.  But my focus is NOT the limitations put forth by my illness, in spite of the fact that let's face it:  My life IS often determined by my Lupus; by how I'm FEELING, by how much energy I have or don't have, by how much PAIN I'm in.  My quest is to accept the reality while striving to be the BEST wife/mother/grandmother/friend/and *beyond* that I can be.  It's the *beyond* that I most struggle with.  And that's what I hope to touch on in the days, weeks and months learn how to fulfill my "artist within", this need to create & expand & feel like a productive individual--even within the parameters I've been given.  And so, I've BEGUN!!!