o-ver-whelm-ing adj. 1. So great as to render resistance or opposition useless; overpowering.
o-ver-whelm v.t. 1. to overpower in mind or feeling; overwhelmed by remorse. 2. to overpower with superior force or numbers. 3. to cover or bury beneath a mass of something. 4. to burden excessively.
Where do I start? I like to think that I roll with the punches when challenged with hurdles thrown in front of me. I think I handle them pretty well when they’re my hurdles.
In January, I had a medical problem that my regular doctor couldn’t quite fit into a category. After having a physical exam and a CAT scan that showed no abnormalities he diagnosed a pulled groin muscle and told me to rest, don’t lift, apply heat and take ibuprofen. (I rarely do anything strenuous enough to pull a groin muscle. Honestly.) Three months went by and I still had terrible pain in my lower abdomen and both groin areas. So, I went to see a young woman from church who is a doctor of kinesiology and chiropractic. She helped me with, what I called her ‘voodoo’, aromatherapy, and weird and wonderfully painful pressure-point torture procedures. Today, I am pain-free and I thank God for her. Hurdle cleared.
A large basal cell carcinoma on my nose was my hurdle in February. My left nostril was rebuilt by my surgeon, Dr. William Stebbins at Vanderbilt Dermatology. I had eleven shots in my nose, was at the surgery center for six hours, had three biopsies and a partridge in a pear tree. It was overwhelming for a day or so when I’d see the quilting job he did on my nose, but I moved on. Those stitches were a hurdle I had to reckon with, and I did it. I reckoned that the surgery probably saved my nose and maybe my life. Hurdle cleared!
On March 23rd I had my two upper wisdom teeth out at the age of 63. They weren’t doing me any good, wisdom was fleeting and they were harassing the teeth in front of them, so I figured, “What the Hell. Get rid of them!” Dentists had been after me for at least three decades to get them out, so I finally gave in. It was a no brainer and I recovered quickly and completely. Hurdle cleared!
April was a reprieve for me, but Bossman had basal cell cancer surgery on his neck. He’s joined the Skin Cancer Survivor Club with The Queen of English (our daughter who has a Masters degree in creative writing), and me.
May was my birthday month, so Bossman gifted me his cold that had staked a claim in his chest producing a barking cough. My present just made me feel lousy. We missed church for the first time in forever. Then all Hell broke loose.
On Wednesday, the 18th of May, I woke up, rolled over to look at the time and couldn’t open my eyes. Damn that Sandman. I felt my way to the bathroom, turned on the faucet and prayed I didn’t have pinkeye. The soaked heavy warmth of the washcloth felt good on my now scratchy eyes. One was pink. Thinking I could catch it early, I treated each eye as an individual. Each one had its own fresh washcloth for its warm water compress and individual towel. I researched which Essential Oils I could use and placed them in odd reflex spots on my toes to help my eyes. (I don’t get it either) I was going to tough this out. Hell, I was turning 64 in less than a week and this childish pinkeye hurdle was not going to get the best of me.
So, later that evening it was close to 10:30 when the ER doctor, Dr. Handsome, ordered a shot of antibiotics in my hip, put antibiotic drops in my eyes and handed me two scripts for drops and 1,000-milligram capsules for a week by mouth. My painful eyes, almost swollen shut, and the disgusting goop being manufactured at a pace that would rival China’s iPad production were a challenge for the medical staff to contain their “Oh, that’s really gross” face. Zombie PinkEye. I looked as if I did a few rounds with Mohammad Ali and lost. But, I was much better by my birthday on the 24th. Bossman and my semi-pink eyes and I went to lunch and picked up Gigi’s Gluten Free Cupcakes to share with the Queen of English. Then I took a nap. Hurdle cleared!
Little did I know that those hurdles were nothing compared to what lay ahead for our adult kid.
Our medically disabled daughter was diagnosed with POTS [postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome] a few years ago and falls down frequently because of low blood pressure. That’s a twenty-seven foot tall hurdle in itself. She has also been suffering from vertigo over the last few months – a double-whammy if I’ve ever seen one. With her POTS falls, she’ll yell, “I’m fine!” when she goes down like a pile of bricks and we’ll continue to watch TV or eat our dinner as we reply with a mouthful of mashed potatoes, “Okay. Thanks.” If we don’t hear the “I’m fine”, we yell, “You okay?” and she might eke out a weak “yes” and one of us will run or hobble up the stairs anyway. Hurdles everywhere.
During all my temporary medical drama this past year, we’d hear her POTSie falls, later mixed in with the Vertigo crashes, coming from the second floor where she lives. SuperDad/Bossman/ManNurse would fly up the stairs to check on her. I’d cover my head with my soft blanket and pray.
We need a better system.
Lately, her vertigo has become violent. Tests start on Monday with an MRI of her brain and we’ll go from there. Her saving grace has been the nurturing and photographing of our abundant, civil war battlefield/ backyard birds, ducks, turkeys, and squirrels. As she pushes her walker to the back door to feed the yard birds, all too often it looks like some ghost of a Yankee or Rebel soldier is pushing her sideways or backward. She’ll slam onto the hardwood floor, and while I move to help her I yell, “You bastards!!! Leave her alone!!! Sons of Bitches!!!” It feels good to be able to blame someone for this stuff.
Vertigo is an evil hurdle to tackle. The attacks come as if they are set up on her old high school track where she ran miles and miles for years. One after another after another… When an episode happens, it’s as if she’s being slapped on the forehead. Her head jerks back, she loses her balance and down she goes. Again. She recalls her college days occasionally while she’s on her knees hanging over her fuchsia walker. “I used to enjoy feeling this way once in a while.”
I am useless. I freak out. In my rush to get to her, I might trip and fall on the bed or bang up against the wall. She smiles and shakes her head. When she has an attack in front of me, I automatically turn into Kramer from Seinfeld. That makes her laugh. I try to help her get up and either tickle her by mistake or grab her somewhere inappropriate. We laugh again. “Just helping…” I mutter.
The Queen of English says we’re a sitcom.
I’d call it, Overwhelmed.