Friday, November 27, 2009
yesterday was american thanksgiving. (i make this distinction only because i hold 3 passports). admittedly, i was not feeling very grateful when i woke up. i was on day 9 of a painful stretch of headaches. the first few days were probably rebound headaches (don't feel sorry for me). the next few, a symptom of my long awaited period. (still not welcome after a 3 month drought). and now i wake up with excruciating sinus pain-from a cold or newly acquired allergies, or just plain ol' 10% kidney function, i am not certain.
so, i dragged myself around. taking, apparently hours, to make the bed, dress myself, wash a few dishes. stopping periodically to ice my neck and drink some water. no appetite. crawling out of my skin.
but, slowly, the headache began to lift. never quite leaving my body, but affording me the opportunity to rejoin the world.
and through a furrowed brow, watering eyes and roman-column-stiff neck, i realized what a world it still was. and still could be for me.
i watched gloria steinem speak once, perhaps from the naive perspective of someone who has never been chronically ill, about her desire to be alive at age 90, even if only one eye worked. because she "didn't want to miss a thing".
i think of my danish grandparents every day. bedstemor and bedstefar. they are now 91 and 89. bedstefar is now blind and bedstemor was recently hospitalized for 2 weeks because of chronic pain due to osteoporosis. (an argument for exercise to be certain. this is a woman who swam every day well into her 80's). they both suffer from dementia. and yet, it was only a few months ago, that they traveled to sweden for an overnight trip.
yes, i could make a laundry list of the challenges kevin and i have been presented with over the last 2 years. i often refer to this period as our "perfect storm." perfect imperfect. ugh. you know the drill. kidney rejection. plummeting economy. real estate crash. daisy crosses the rainbow bridge. health care costs. debt. estranged family. wildfires. shingles. pills. too much. too much. too much.
"How many times can I break till I shatter?
Over the line can't define what I'm after
I always turn the car around"
[f@*ing great song]
i always turn the car around.
when we left the house, the warm 83 degree air enveloped me. end of november. let me tell you, for a canuck, this never grows old. the california sun melted into the hills as we drove to DuPar's on Ventura Blvd. for a very l.a. thanksgiving with very cool friends. drive along mullholland. our pad. grey goose. great conversation. giggles. hugs.
waking up this morning, i snapped this. i still have a headache. (i only had one g. goose). i still have an ice pack on my neck. and i'm not moving much faster. but my thoughts are. zipping in and out of my foggy brain.
friends. a fridge full of food. my fingers that still type. the thanksgiving dinner we are going to tonight. margaret atwood's new book. thank you notes from kevin's clients. a text from m. stupid sitcoms. the view from my house. this great cup of coffee. phone calls from toronto. pictures from tennessee. emails from boston. gift baskets from vancouver. postings from denmark. love from winnipeg.
and this guy.
he smiles when he sleeps. he likes to tease me that it's the only time he doesn't hear me nagging. but he smiles all the time. and there is nothing like his laugh. and his sense of humor. and his own brand of wisdom. and the fact that he is lying there beside me.
hmmm...what's that in the warm california air?
[so i'm a day late]
smells like gratitude.
Posted by Henriette Ivanans at 11:02 AM
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
said the husband to the wife, "i think i'm going to shave my head."
WHY? why. why. why.
"i'm trying to accept my hair loss".
said the wife to the husband, "but you're not bald. i like the hair you have."
"you don't know what it's like to lose your hair".
"well, at least you have 2 kidneys".
the wife continued, "i mean, if that's your biggest problem".
the husband mumbled, "that's not my biggest problem".
"oh, am i your biggest problem?".
"you said it".
TOUCHE and well played.
Posted by Henriette Ivanans at 2:00 PM
Friday, November 20, 2009
the other day, k waxed poetic about the relative ease that was high school. but for me, it was a troubled time. like many, it was isolating. at 13, i had already been diagnosed with kidney failure. there were clinics, hospital visits and pills. a kidney biopsy at age 14 challenged my walking ability. 10 days on bed rest. bedpans filled with shit. fainting at Sick Kids after one too many pokes. ease was nowhere to be found.
my father was gone. and out of the ruins, my mother built an oasis. back taxes aside.
wicker furniture in the living room. powdered milk. discount blocks of cheese. riding the subway at age 8.
there was no car for me at age 16. no sweet sixteen.
and so, do i long for the days of high school? no way, jose. not by a long shot.
alone. vacuumed away. sucked into a deep, black hole. perhaps we all felt that way. insecure. lost. frightened.
when george orwell wrote about 1984, did he anticipate the mirror of 2009?
government surveillance, mind control, perpetual war and the voiding of citizens' rights.
philosophies that have streamlined over time. blossomed. and prevailed.
my loneliness in high school was a boundless ache. misunderstood. empty. and so, i tried. GO WEST. a mask of second hand clothes, cliques and mooning over the unattainable god. but who gives a fuck. it was only high school, after all.
but as i sigh, i realize, like "1984", not so much has changed after all.
i still feel misunderstood. insecure. and alone.
but, now, instead of sobbing over a misplaced zit, or the glance he didn't send my way, i ache for the understanding that no-one can provide. when george orwell wrote about mind control, i'm sure he didn't mean expectation.
but, perpetual war. i've got that one covered.
Posted by Henriette Ivanans at 9:18 AM
Thursday, November 19, 2009
my father looms large in my life.
memories sting. consume. ache. throb. throb. throb.
he was mysterious; unknown. an enigma.
how i long for unwrinkled, silken times...painful recollections.
vomiting into a paper bag at a soccer game. asking me to identify money. a 10 or an 100? was he too drunk to tell?...my mother turning him away from our temporary home because he was too drunk to drive. beer bottles scattered throughout our car. some for drink. some to pee in...2 months in the hospital. loss of teeth and short term memory loss. a father with dentures and a pad in his pocket to help him remember. losing teeth at the dinner table as my mother giggled in embarassment...clenched. bent over the toilet in pain. an accidental drop of feces observed as i peaked through the door's open crack...the weekly visits to The Beer Store. never ending cases. endless. the musical roll of the the track. the leathery, medicinal smell. these were our field trips...the diamond/sapphire heart he threw my way because my mother didn't want it.
she didn't want it.
and then there was Scott Padmore.
once glance at my father and his big trap flapped, "what's wrong with your Dad?". Fuck You.
what was wrong, indeed.
31 years later; painful revelations. was he really being investigated by the RCMP for drug abuse? and did he really sneak out to his jaguar for covert sips of his golden nectar?
my heart ached all over again.
a diabetic, alcoholic, drug abuser.
am i my father's daughter?
i watched him prick for sugar levels, eat a candy bar when low and suck back the Molson Goldens.
and through a toothless mouth, he would smile and declare his love for us. a stumbling frame wrapped in a robe of alcohol, cologne and warmth, he would enfold his babies. bending over my bunk bed with a goodnight kiss dancing upon his lips, he hit his head. i softly whispered "i'm sorry", and the words i will never forget. "henriette, it was my fault. you are too sensitive for this world".
maybe i am. and maybe he was the only one who ever understood me.
a chronically ill, drug addict.
31 years later, i still miss him.
Posted by Henriette Ivanans at 4:46 PM
i am a drug addict.
i wrote about this a year ago and comments abounded.
but, nothing has changed. contact brings silence...they never ask; when what i crave is support, help. understanding.
i am weak. desperate. and lost.
but is it up to my friends? no. it's up to me.
yes, there are therapists. but the brunt of the work is mine.
and with these headaches; this apathy; i often turn to the one thing that will briefly ease my pain.
no, it's not a long term solution; but for a few days, i forget about my world.
i hate the world i inhabit. am i my father's daughter? perhaps.
and perhaps it's the only way i can connect with him.
he was weak, lost and desperate, too.
Posted by Henriette Ivanans at 8:28 AM
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
maybe i'm unfair. intolerant and impatient. but i must confess that a fire often fills my veins along this road...
i have a blog. i have facebook. and over the last (almost) 2 years, i have informed many as to my condition. people throw such vague comments my way. casual. unspecific. and callous? and it drives. me. insane.
what am i to do with "tell henriette i hope she feels better"?
i won't feel better for MANY, MANY years.
but maybe, it's the best they can do. i try to see it this way, but it still breaks my heart.
some friends have dropped by the wayside, yet others have risen up. with light that infuses me. angels i adore.
the best thing i once learned in yoga was to release all attachment, and honor your body. droplets of wisdom that have stayed with me.
pearls. crystals. they sparkle deep within my soul.
it's the little things that stay with you. but as i've said before, they are really not so little after all...
stay with me along this journey...
i am not perfect, and i need you angels.
Posted by Henriette Ivanans at 12:56 AM
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
little girl lost.
i pound my fists. tantrums ensue. WAH! love me. love me. comfort. sooth. connect. please reach out on my blog/fb...
oh, i need to release expectation; attachment.
maybe the stars are my audience. the milky way. yes. the black holes hear my heart.
yes, something does. something bigger than me.
so here are the latest stats...
i haven't had my period for 3 months. my headaches and migraines are common, as is my insomnia. my tremors come and go, much like my exhaustion. but i am always tired. i bruise easily. my appetite has been better, but it often wanes. my blood pressure is more under control, but nothing like it used to be. the diastolic still 10 points higher than i would like. i often get pains in my kidney. OW. ow. ow. ow. my latest creatinine was still 2.9 and i can't shake this cold.
but, these are the facts. only the facts.
the day before my 41st birthday i went to cedars-sinai. routine check-up. unfortunate high blood pressure. biggest destroyer of the kidney. the lab. 3 pokes. blood. flu shot and an epogin shot. and i still need an H1N1 vaccine.
par for the course, now. but for me, not status quo. never status quo.
and then, an appointment at the social security office. i had applied for disability benefits.
oh, how the mighty have fallen.
the timing was poignant. my 41st was hours away, and i couldn't help but reflect.
sometimes i lie awake at night, scared and overwhelmed. my doctor's ridiculous description of dialysis, "renal replacement therapy", swirling through my mind. eroding, prevalent change. shifting topsoil. a slippery slope.
i never believed in society's agenda. graduate. get a car. get a job. a house. have kids. a 401K/RSP. acquire, acquire. acquire. consume. consume. consume.
illusions of the mind. meaningless.
i loved my life. my husband. my work. exercise. my hound. my family. even my home. my sanctuary. joy. joy. joy.
compromise. despondence. painful loss. OW.
when my social worker inquired as to the last day i had worked, i quivered, "nov. 1st, 2008". surreal and strange, my heart fairly broke. and once again the tears flowed. the lovely woman offered a tissue. compassion flowed. but when i left, i couldn't help but ache.
ache for all i have lost. ache for the life i miss. and ache for the 41 year old who needs financial help and feels like cedars-sinai is her second home.
and yet, i am aware of how blessed i am. my husband fills my soul, as do my friends. i still love my home. california continues to amaze. sunsets, warm breezes, endless exploration, amazing people, our view, and unknown opportunities. things could be so much worse, and i hold this close.
it's my one true thing.
i'm not in an animal shelter, not in foster care, not starving in africa, i have all my limbs and i am loved.
and so i'll take this compromised life. despite my fears and worries. needing to let go of my self judgment, i look up to the stars above.
"the night is full of holes, this bullet trippin' sky of ink and gold".
do i feel like i'm falling? all the time. there could be another 1-2 years ahead before i am on a list.
and so i look to each daily moment.
a bouquet of flowers on our table. a text from m. massages from k. a great meal. a good day with harnessed energy. my new margaret atwood book. calls from my friends. music. the california sunsets that never grow old. the fact that i am not on dialysis.
the fact that i am not on dialysis.
at the end of the day, i'm alive. i'm not thriving, but i'm surviving, like so many others, and they are often in my thoughts.
life. she's a tricky one.
and here's to her.
Posted by Henriette Ivanans at 10:50 PM
i had a moment today.
i'm not looking for pity. sympathy. or empathy.
i'm not being maudlin.
but please, just let me share.
despite this lingering cold, i plugged away at some errands today and then arrived at the gym. the errands challenged me in a way that is becoming more and more frequent. last week, the same thing happened. i got up, dressed, pulled myself together and piled into the car. errands on the post-it; attached to the dashboard. but when i arrived at the supermarket, my body betrayed. limbs moving through tar. sluggish. i pushed forth, an unrecognizable feeling spreading through me. i moved at half speed; slow-mo.
it frightened me. it was 1987 all over again. sitting at a performance of "old river" with my dear friend, n. resting on her shoulder during the entire performance, because the alternative was impossible. regretfully leaving a u of t psychology class. i poured a swimming head and staggering frame into a cab, because the streetcar seemed like too much effort. leaning, depending, on my mum as my beagle ralph, charged through high park. bundling in my bed. radiator blasting. countless blankets that ralph would snuggle under until he could bear the heat no more...
end of days.
or the days of carefree health to be certain.
and so it seems i am faced with that again.
when i arrived at the gym, i was already spent. overwhelmed by my limitations. i know i need to give myself permission to be ok with this. but, fuck. i feel cheated. robbed. and alone.
the thought of climbing the stairs up to the cardio room seemed insurmountable. could i really be the same girl who used to run 25 miles a week...? now "swallowed in the sea"...
and so i sat. in my car. pondering. attempting to ignore the ache in my heart.
and then the phone rang. my husband. pouring out affection and support and the tears streamed down my face.
a precious gift.
like out of a movie.
kleenex in fist. dab. dab. dab. sighs from the great beyond. quick glance in the mirror. i summoned my courage and guess what, i climbed those stairs.
and for 10 minutes, i gave myself permission.
i may not be a marathoner anymore, but i am a goddamn fighter.
Posted by Henriette Ivanans at 9:33 PM