Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Life With Cats: Part 1

I believe cats are perhaps more intelligent than humans. I know for certain that they are more empathetic. The more I know people, the more I love my cats. I know that many people think cats are aloof or uncaring. I surmise this is because cats love so richly, and feel so deeply, that they are guarded in initial dealings with a person/people. Their trust isn't easily earned, but is so worth the effort. 
When Julia, my daughter, was 4, we got her a lilac point Siamese. People warned us that Siamese cats were mean and we'd regret it. Last year, after 16 1/2 years of loving each other, Rosalie slipped away. Julia has had a rough time of it growing up. She's dealt with not only her issues, but ours. Ralph is developmentally disabled and I am bipolar. Julia has her own issues, both health and emotional. She was born 6 weeks early, and had RSV at 3 months. She's been asthmatic since 1 1/2 and began developing the first symptoms of Hidradenitis Suppurativa at 8. In her teens, on the heels of my bipolar diagnosis, she was diagnosed with bipolar and another disorder. We also believe she has Sensory Integration disorder that went undiagnosed. Through it all, Rosalie was her constant companion. Rosalie always knew instinctively when Julia needed her to draw closer, and when to give her space.
After Rosalie passed, Leo, a long-hair domestic rescue, broke through all the pain, and showed Julia that she could love again. Yesterday, Leo escaped outdoors, as the was wont to do. He had a wild heart that just could not be confined. He left our yard for the first time since demanding to be let in our home 3 years ago, and was struck by a vehicle. Julia discovered him by the road. He looked as if he were just asleep. We laid him to rest below my June blooming Lilac, where the catnip always grows. He was drawn to the outdoors so often by catnip. Julia's heart is broken just one year after losing Rosalie. 
The last month or so, Leo was extremely insistent on having Julia's undivided attention and love. He insisted on it. She'd even have to put down her laptop for him. It was like he knew his time with her was coming to an end, and wanted to love her as much and as intently as he could. This leads me to believe cats have more than just five senses. He needed to love her as hard as he could, so she had those times to cling to. Rosalie lingered her last day, until Julia told her it was okay to go. I think cats have an empathic sense that allows them to read people. I also believe they know when their life is coming to an end. I also believe a cat can die of a broken heart. My late brother's cat did. We took her in after he passed, but no matter what we did, she just didn't want to live without him..
I know a lot of people that don't "like" cats or think they are evil or uncaring. I think they haven't met the right cat, or are threatened unconsciously by their intellect. I am a Christian. God made cats. He didn't choose them as the form of evil in the Garden. I believe a loving God would not create a Heaven where His creations would be excluded. Any of them. If He had mentioned every good thing Heaven would include, the Bible would have been more than double the size. I believe every good gift He has ever given us here will be there. Cats (and dogs, fish, hamsters, etc) included. He uses the loyalty and love our pets give us as a reminder of His love on a daily basis. We may forget to read the Bible on a bad day, but our pets are there loving us for Him. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Scary Mother!

Munchausen isn't Mothering

I have been enjoying "Law & Order" on Netflix lately, the original series or as Julia puts it: the mother ship. I just watched an episode entitled "Precious". The subject was a parent that suffered "Munchausen by proxy" syndrome. I was drawn into the storyline. I found myself feeling angry. I was on board with Sam Waterston's character when he suggested sterilization as a plea bargain offer. 
I flashed back on my Julia's infancy. I remember feeling like I never achieved REM sleep the first year and a half of her life. I felt guilt over smoking during pregnancy. I worried that she would suffer crib death. I would wake up and use a flashlight to stare at her chest to see if it was moving and she was breathing. I still do. Not as often. But my guilt has never completely gone away. Julia was 4, 6, or 8 weeks premature, had  RSV at 2 1/2 months, and developed asthma by 1 1/2 years old, all likely due to my smoking during pregnancy. At least to my guilty mind. Not all of those conditions have been proven yet. I managed with the help of my mother and sister, to treat RSV at home using a warm mist humidifier, and a recliner to hold her in a slanted position 24/7 for over 3 days until her condition stabilized. In older children, and those that were not premature, RSV (respiratory syscinctial? virus) is not much more than a cold. For preemies with underdeveloped lungs, it can be and often is fatal. Today there exists a vaccine given to preemies at birth for RSV. A link between RSV and asthma has been shown to be probable. I struggled with guilt over every asthma attack, every episode of bronchitis, every time she had any breathing issue, even hyperventilation syndrome. 
I find myself baffled by someone who can kill for the rush they get from sympathy. I never wanted sympathy, I wanted a cure. I wanted to go back and never smoke. I worried sometimes that the doctors at the emergency room would think I was a sufferer of Munchausen because it felt like we were so often there. I didn't want attention. I wanted Julia to be well. I wanted her not to suffer because I was foolish enough to deny smoking could cause prematurity, etc. There was a portable crib in our bedroom and a regular crib in Julia's room. She never slept in her bedroom until she got her "big girl"  "Barney" bed. She was a year and half old. I nearly wore out the carpet after she started sleeping in there. If I got up to pee, I checked on her. If I woke up for any reason, I checked on her. Overprotective? Maybe. Guilt? Certainly. 
I cannot fathom "Munchausen by Proxy".  I think these people are missing a true maternal gene. They do not have the capacity in them to care for another person. I don't think that we necessarily sterilize them, but I think it should be offered them as a voluntary option. I think psychotherapy should be a mandate in any sentence related to the syndrome. It is stunning that there is no screening during pregnancy for this mental defect. If I had the capacity to scientificly study this, I would do so. If there were a screening, early intervention might help the sufferers cope and perhaps even play a role in raising children. Perhaps they haven't located enough victims to mandate a study. I find it terrifying that someone out there may have this, and no one knows or can help.   

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Are Debtor's Prisons Making a Comeback? (when free isn't free)

Friends ~ I am an anger crier. The angrier I am, the more tears fall. Tears are streaming down my face right now. Did you know that you could be prosecuted for theft if you forget to return, misplace, or damage a library book if you can't afford to pay for it?!?!?!? I don't know where to start.
When Ali reached sexual maturity, it was a few weeks before we could get him fixed. We didn't know until well afterwards, that he had "anointed" a bag of library books. The cheesy plastic bags they use now do very little if any to deter liquids. Well, when we packed up and returned library books, they said the smell ruined books in other bags as well. I had lingered over returning the ones we found while cleaning because we found a few more that were damaged. I was already in fear of the bill for the ones already returned. Many were around $30 PLUS a $5 processing fee per book, because they charge you labor also.
Today, I got a letter in the mail from the prosecutor's office notifying me that if I don't return and/or pay for all damaged items, and appear on August 8th at 10 am, I will be prosecuted for theft and pursued accordingly.
I have a lot of problems with this for several reasons.
1. One of our founding fathers' principles was to eliminate the concept of debtor's prisons. I assumed this meant, that debts would be pursued as civil, not criminal matters.
2. I can only assume that those "storm clouds" are smoke rising from Simon J Peabody's grave. If he left any descendants, I think they should sue to have his name disassociated with the current incarnation of the library. He has to be spinning in his grave so fast he's making storm clouds of smoke. If something sounds like thunder, I would assume it to be him groans of agony of the perversion of his dream of a library for every man. So much for his dream of a FREE library.
3. If I have to pay a processing fee of $5 per item, and I assume 4 or more items processed per hour, I am DEFINITELY in the WRONG profession. (And to think I thought prostitution paid well.) This is RIDICULOUS!!
4. When did we lose the "FREE" anyway? I know it was Peabody Free Library from inception through my childhood at least. Sorry, Simon, I mourn with you.
5. Public libraries were intended to be a resource for every man, not just the wealthy. When did this change? Does the Andrew Carnegie Foundation know this changed. I certainly hope the local library doesn't receive grants from an honorable association as this!
6. The last time I checked, there was no longer any free legal aid. How are we supposed to defend ourselves? I have seen this communities public defenders, and most are a joke, revenge of the rich on poor.
7. I was always one of the library's BIGGEST proponents. Reality is a BITCH, (pardon my profanity, but reality is painful)
Well, this is a painful situation in more ways than I care to count.
I WAS a HEAVY USER of THE library, at one time holding the inter-library loan (ILL) record of 82 in one month. I used the android overdrive app to read e-books, easier on my neuropathy than holding heavy books, especially late in the day. I used the internet and the computers before I had my own and access at home. I did my online work there when I still sold Avon.
I am still grieving the loss of access to the public library. I know they made a lot of people angry when they offered free access to those whose township budgeted tax dollars for their funding and had a fee for those whose didn't. I have always lived in a township that participated. My heart aches over the loss. I cannot afford to buy books. If I could, I wouldn't need a free library. I think our community needs to take a stand against the library's new policies. It is ironic that an agent protected by the constitution under the 1st amendment umbrella wants to strip its patrons of freedom from prosecution for imprisonment for debts. It is indeed a dark day for Columbia City, home of the oppressed poor, and the Pol Pot of libraries. — at Columbia City, IN.
PS ~  The bills total over $1,100 for me and about $1,00 for Julia. We live off less than my bill for an average month!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

We don't need 'no' stinkin' subscription TV!

Our income dropped dramatically the past month due to our girl aging out of dependent child benefits (her daddy is disabled, as am I). We are surviving off his benefits and the four hours of pay I struggle to earn each week. As a result, after having Dish Network in my home since marriage, except for the couple of years we tried cable, they cut us off.
I admit to being spoiled by using the dual dvr they offered. Where our home is situated, we were never able to get a good analog signal when it was my parent's mobile home. When Ralph & I were moving in to take care of momma, we had cable and due to rising prices, succumbed once again to the lure of the dish. In spite of being good customers for many, many years, they are driven by the almighty dollar, which we didn't have this month.
We are still considering direcTV, but I am leery seeing costs rise for my sister. I fear we would wind up with the same situation. Locked in price and contract, we would get sticker shock by hidden costs ascribed to taxes, etc.
As for missing my favorite shows, there's always the internet. Most major networks put full episodes up on their websites the day after the episode airs. This allows them to get their commercial dollars for all markets. They look just as good on my laptop as my tv, just smaller.
If I could scare up the money for a "slingbox" or blu-ray player with internet connectivity, I could get the internet content on my tv, including movies from netflix. Pretty soon, that will be the only way to get netflix, streaming to laptop or tv, anyway.
I do have to hold myself down though. I got so into this week's Hawaii Five-O that I nearly jostled my laptop off my lap!
I am more productive without the constant influx of tv intruding in my day anyway.
PS Hey Dish Network, how did my package deal that is advertised at $34.95 end up being over $76 per month? Sticker shock from hidden charges!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Hear Voices!

It used to hold a stigma if you uttered, I hear voices. It wasn't just an awesome country song by Chris Young. The video of this song is awesome, so here's the link - I hope this works. I am not great with some of the technical aspects of blogging. Anyway, on the way home from work, this song came on the radio, and my mind immediately seized on the topic, and set off warp factor 1, Mr Sulu! (Yes, I am a "trekkie" and I came out of the nerd closet years ago!)
I got to thinking about the term "hearing voices". Like I said, it used to hold a negative connotation, that of a psychotic break, usually schizophrenic. (The plus side of growing up in a home with schizophrenics, is you are familiar with symptoms.) I remember being afraid I was either crazy of missing something, because as a hearing impaired individual, I was always listening so hard for voices.
If you have significant hearing loss, you are always on alert, lest you miss someone talking to you, especially at school, where not hearing a teacher has consequences! I struggled a lot of years because I didn't have hearing aids. I probably would have qualified for assistance and hearing aids, as well as other assistance as a child, were I not the daughter of a spousal-abusing schizophrenic that isolated his family. I never received training in lip reading, but apparently over the years a developed a fair amount of this skill.
As a teen, my mother introduced me to the world she grew up in. She was granddaughter of a locally famous, or should I say infamous, spiritualist minister. He was credited with her surviving polio, using methods that weren't yet prevalent at the time, as well as spiritualist dogma like the laying on of hands, "measuring", and spirit/psychic healing. I remember my first visit to the Spiritualist Church in Fort Wayne at the corner of Spring St and Wells St. I remember Reverend Bernice coming up to me after and saying, "You hear voices, don't you?" She put a hand on my shoulder and told me it was okay and I shouldn't be afraid. She told me that the dead can't hurt me, only the living can. It calmed my fears as she reassured me that I was NOT crazy.
Ironically enough, going to church at a Wesleyan church years later, those fears came back with a vengeance. The doctrine implies that if we hear voices, it's probably demons.
In the country song, the lyrics expound on the voices being memories of loved ones giving us words to live by. I know there are times I can just hear Momma or Daddy telling me something important, and when I recall it, I hear it in their voices. All this is leading to a point, I promise.
Anyway, I got to thinking, what if all of it is true? What if God speaks to us in voices we are familiar with, so as to get our attention? Maybe "psychic" messages warning of imminent danger are actually messages from a loving Father God who wants to protect us? What if he speaks to us to reassure us using the voices of those we love so we draw near? Who are we to define God's voice? I also think that Lucifer would use voices to entice us to sin. I think that hearing voices might not be a bad thing, if we consider what they say prayerfully. I would be reluctant not to consider this.
After all, I keep coming back to the joke of the man waiting out a flood. He keeps saying that God will save him. First he sends away someone in a rowboat, followed by a power boat and lastly a helicopter. When he drowns, he asks God why he didn't save him. God replies that He sent two boats and helicopter, what more was He supposed to do? While this makes me laugh, I wonder if I sometimes am the guy on the roof ignoring messages from God or his provisions for me. Then, I get the mental image of God smacking me on the head and saying, "What were you thinking? Didn't you hear ME?"
Maybe today, we should spend some time listening to the still small voice, whether we define it as conscience, God, spirit guides, or insanity. After all, God calls us to be STILL and know He is God. If we never have the quiet, still time, how are able to hear Him when he speaks?
So today, I hope you hear voices, and I mean that in a good way!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Embracing my Inner Helen Reddy

My daughter seems surprised that I know all the words to "I am Woman" by Helen Reddy. I just wish I had found that part of my soul that knows how to stand up for our rights earlier. I know everything in our lives happens for a reason. Sometimes it's beyond our control. Sometimes there are consequences to choices. I know that only I can give someone the power to intimidate me.
All the trauma involved in Julia & I surviving her arrival was so overwhelming, that at the time it shook my self confidence. I questioned my own abilities as mother because she was so frail after she was born. It didn't help that an in-law was there waiting to underwhelm my confidence. I foolishly assumed she knew whereof she spoke. Had I been informed that she had the same mental illness that afflicted my brother, I might have questioned more, and relied more on my own knowledge. It's like I forgot that I had a respectable intellect and for several years had raised other people's children at their behest. I provided daycare for young children, and they and their parents had faith in my abilities.
Why in God's name, did I assume these sister-in-laws knew more than me? I have always been open to learning. My IQ was just 1 point shy of mensa in 1966, when it was tested. Since then, I have tested anywhere from 140's to 170's, a decent average. I was raised by a mother that always made me feel cherished. With her as role model, I should never have doubted myself.
My in-laws are gifted at tearing down self-esteem. After all, they managed to convince Ralph he was DISABLED, and made excuses for his behaviors instead of holding him accountable for his actions. Repercussions for their ill-advised raising are being felt to this day. One of his distant relatives said he had grown up more since we were married than he had his first 29 years. We had only been married a few years then. Don't think I am unaware of Ralph's developmental limitations, but he is capable of so much more than his environment fostered.
I wonder how much more he would have gained if he had had Ken's counsel a few more years. He had such patience with Ralph. Ken was my daddy, where Paul Hile was my FATHER, very different personalities and approaches to parenting. I was so lucky growing up with two dads. I wish I had appreciated it more when they were still here.
Juli and I are still recovering from the pain inflicted by Ralph's family. By the time Juli came along as the last Carter grandchild, his mother probably thought we wouldn't be capable of parenting. She acted as if she were trying to correct Juli in our place, to the point where it damaged Juli's ability to be close like she was with my mother. Juli still loves and respects her Grandmother Carter, but too many wedges have been driven between them by the family. His sisters blame me because Juli has sought pro's against them. Her own words, "Mom, I could always tell they didn't like or respect you. "
It didn't help that when I was struggling with caring for Momma, and trying to manage two households, their idea of help was to call in welfare and to remind Juli that if she didn't put away her toys, welfare would take her away. One of them told her not to cry when she was six and my mother, the light of her life, died, or else mommy might go nutso (or equivalent thereof). Juli was so afraid, she didn't cry for a year.
I take comfort that they will have to answer for their actions someday, as will we all when we stand before the Lord. I know I am far from innocent. I have apologized to Juli for not being stronger. I still fight feelings of intimidation. I haven't forgotten Mike holding a knife at my throat during one of his psychotic breaks. I also haven't forgotten that Ralph is the only one of his Carter siblings that DOESN'T have a firearm of some type in the house. We sold or gave away all of them. We acknowledge our problems and feel wiser not owning guns. I find it questionable that someone who is schizophrenic can not only own a gun, but bluster about it to intimidate me.
I know Julia is an adult now at 18. But I still try to live by example to her. I was so worried about not marrying a violent man like my dad, I never considered checking out my husband's family and their mental status. It was difficult growing up with Dad & Mike being schizophrenic. Perhaps I should have known that at least two out of three sister-in-laws were schizophrenic? I love Ralph now, as much as when I married him, but in spite of his human failings, not because of what he does or doesn't do. He has struggled against his development in learning to be a good husband and father. It would have helped had he not been raised as the center of his universe and been taught accountability. He doesn't realize that they did this because they did not believe in him and all that he could be capable of. I realize those were different times. I still think they are accountable for his training.

"I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore, I know too much to go back and pretend. Because
I've heard it all before and I've been down there on the floor, NO ONE'S EVER GONNA' KEEP ME DOWN AGAIN!
Oh, yes, I am wise, but it's wisdom born of pain. Oh, yes, I've paid the price, but look how much I've gained. If I have to, I can do anything. I AM STRONG. I AM INVINCIBLE, I AM WOMAN....
You can bend but never break me, 'cause it only serves to make me, more determined to achieve my final goal, I'll come back even stronger, not a novice any longer, 'cause you've deepened the conviction in my soul.
Oh, yes, I am wise, but it's wisdom born of pain. Oh, yes, I've paid the price, but look how much I've gained. If I have to, I can do anything. I AM STRONG. I AM INVINCIBLE, I AM WOMAN...."

There is another verse, but you get the point. I am embracing my inner Helen Reddy!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

"Sunshine Go Away Today"

Yes, I know it's a sixties protest song(actually 1971), but it fits today. The song by Jonathon Edwards can be viewed at youtube.com. I'll post the link and lyrics at the end.
I feel the need to protest my in-laws. Not all of them, just the two who think they rule the world, or at least us. I mean the roller coaster from the dark side they've had us on lately is inhuman. First, we were invited to Grandma's shindig, then we were told not to come, then we were, then the grand Command performance where we were ordered to Grandma's apartment and told we could come, wish her a Happy Birthday, eat exactly one plate of food, excuse ourselves and leave. That was bad enough. But today showed that they have not a shred of human kindness or MANNERS!
Larry Lee offered to give us a ride to the party, but with Juli due to have surgery Friday, we seriously gave thought to only having Ralph go. After agonizing over it, we decided to attend, but keep our presence limited in focus. We tried in every way not to bring unwelcome attention to our presence. Turns out, we weren't the problem. While we were eating our ONE plate of food each, the senior surviving sister, bent over to speak to Ralph, just to tell him to relay a message to Julia, that she was not to take pictures, ESPECIALLY of the kids! Juli is NOT a pedophile, or a STALKER! She merely wanted photos to remember her ONLY living Grandma by, especially since she's 90 and won't be around forever! To be singled out and treated like this was bad enough.
Juli has Hidradenitis Suppurativa, is having her third surgery for this on this coming Friday, and was just sitting quietly unobtrusively as possible. This psycho ostracized her after telling us not to cause anything! Juli will be lucky to live a full life. The longer of average recorded histories is 40-50 years, with many HS sufferers perishing younger due to vulnerability to several cancers. That is best case scenario for a disease that usually doesn't start till after puberty in late teens. Juli has suffered from this since age 8, an extraordinarily young age. She has reached stage 3 of 4 well before she turned 18 last fall. Not a promising start. (look for a link to this as well)
I just lost my only, my older brother on Good Friday. It has hit us financially as well, since I am the only survivor of our nuclear family. I have younger step-siblings, siblings-in-love, I call them. They have truly shown me what family should be, disfunctional though it may be. They are there when the chips are down.
I am at a loss on how to deal with this family. Juli plans to change her last name. Not just because she is a writer, but legally because the last name Carter has only meant pain to her, all her life long. I can't say as I blame her. When people choose pettiness, hatred and being venomous over love, some times you just have to walk away to survive. I lost my Mike for the better part of 35 years due to drugs. I think I prefer that to being sober and being treated with hatred, unadulterated, and childish tantrums.
So, Carter family, while we would never keep Ralph from you (God knows why, but he still loves you all??!), stick a fork in me, I am SO DONE.
You will never hurt my baby again, God as my witness! If anyone wants to GROW UP, and get past this, you will be welcome in our hearts and home.
Oh, and as for Julia's other aunt...the restraining orders wouldn't have been necessary if you had respected our boundaries as a family and allowed us to parent Julia. You had no right to inspect her school records and the idiots that allowed you unlimited access I hope are unemployed. You violated laws and privacy to go places you had no right. I offered to apply for the TRO, but Juli said that she was an adult, and it was her decision that you had no business throwing a tantrum at her doctor's office that upset her doctor so, that it was notated in her permanent medical record. She ended up switching doctors because she was so embarrassed and angered by this violation.
I have set the record straight. I hope that someday I can look at you without seeing my daughter's tear-streaked face, but I doubt it. I am a Mother after all. I am her mother, and you need to back off. If I had had the courage to tell you this 18 years ago, maybe Julia would be stronger. Still she is much more loving than you have ever been or ever will be. I am so proud of her.
So, as the song says, "you can't even run your own life, I'll be d@mned if you'll run mine!"

Lyrics: Sunshine Go Away
Sunshine go away today
I don't feel much like dancing
Some man's gone, he's tried to run my life
Don't know what he's asking

He tells me I'd better get in line
Can't hear what he's saying
When I grow up I'm going to make it mine
But these aren't dues I been paying

How much does it cost, I'll buy it
The time is all we've lost, I'll try it
But he can't even run his own life
I'll be damned if he'll run mine, Sunshine

Sunshine go away today
I don't feel much like dancing
Some man's gone he's tried to run my life
Don't know what he's asking

Working starts to make me wonder where
The fruits of what I do are going
He says in love and war all is fair
But he's got cards he ain't showing


Sunshine come on back another day
I promise you I'll be singing
This old world, she's gonna turn around
Brand new bells'll be ringing

Links: Sunshine Go Away: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4Vu-P9qVoc
Hidradenitis Suppurativa: http://www.hs-support.uni.cc/hidradenitis-suppurativa-faq/