Thursday, April 02, 2020

Air hockey therapy

Before spring break I had promised the kids they could use their toys r us gift cards from xmas over the holiday. Two days ago (technically the first day after spring break) I decided to check out the toys r us website to see if I could order something online. It turns out they’re doing ‘curb side pick up’ so I could order online and pick up at our closest location with zero contact with others.

I started looking up toys based on age categories, thinking I could get maybe some art sets or something to try to keep the kids occupied. But it started stressing me out because in all honesty I don’t know what would actually keep them entertained longer than 5 minutes that they don’t already have.

Then I got a brilliant idea (if I do say so myself!) and looked up air hockey tables. They had them in various price ranges. The kids had $90 if we pooled all their cards together, so I asked them if they’d be willing to do that for an air hockey table and they all agreed. It ended up costing us $40 total and we picked it up within an hour of ordering it. It wasn’t too bad putting it together, and it ended up being a perfect size. Not too big but not too small either. We have a spot where it fits ok in the living room.

It’s funny because when it was all set up and James saw it, he said, ‘You know things are bad when Elizabeth ok’s having an air hockey table as a focal point in the living room!’ So true, SO TRUE!! I would NEVER have agreed to it under normal conditions. But it’s anything but normal conditions, and under the circumstances I needed something to help in the entertainment department. It has ended up MORE than paying for itself already, even if we had paid the entire price! For the $40 we spent after gift cards, it’s an absolute steal!

All 5 of us have enjoyed it so much already. That first day we got it, it actually felt therapeutic for me. Playing it was lots of fun, and seeing the kids laughing and having fun together, me getting a break for a bit while they played tournaments of it. So awesome. When I put out some snacks that Andrew really liked, he said, ‘Wow, this is the best day ever!’ Given the circumstances, that was quite something to hear! I wouldn’t personally say it was the best day EVER, but it was probably the most fun we’d had in weeks...which is sad, but true!

Whatever it takes at this point.

Another day...

Well, another day...Another day of sitting inside, trying to come up with a clipboard of fun to keep the kids entertained and occupied.

Actually today has been relatively productive. I got up a bit earlier than usual to go over to the store to buy toilet paper (which they were still out of...can’t find it anywhere. We still have some but my parents are going to need some soon and I don’t want them out looking for it. Who’s hoarding all the freaking toilet paper?! It’s madness). I was at least able to get some groceries that we were in need of, seeing as I was already there at the store.

After breakfast I got the girls writing stories that had to include 3 random things, and when they finished writing they read the stories out loud and had to guess what the 3 random words were. They had so much fun with it that they wrote several stories each. I’m adding a spelling lesson to it by writing a list of the words they spell incorrectly and then they practice those words. We also played a math game recommended by the school district website, but it was kind of boring. I think we have board games that are more fun and also educational.

Andrew got going on a pixar course through Khan Academy, which he’s absolutely loving! It’s totally free and so educational, AND he’s really enjoying it. So I’m happy to have him doing something like that. It’s hard to see how I’ll go about being the teacher but next week we’re going to get more info on what’s expected moving forward.

It’s sunny right now and I have to not think about it too much or I’ll feel stifled being indoors. Might get the kids in the backyard for a while. I don’t feel the least bit inclined to do any gardening, and I don’t have anything to plant yet anyway. But I should try to force myself to perk up the yard a bit. The front could use a good raking of leaves. I just have no motivation for it because I don’t feel like I’ll get the same enjoyment out of it that I usually would. But the fresh air might make me see it differently.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Covid Crazy

People who go on about how the ‘time’ we’ve been given being shut in due to Covid-19 should be used to do all the things we never had time for before clearly don’t have a bunch of children at home with them. I had way more time to do things when the kids were in school, even with work added in. Now it’s just an endless string of, “Mooooommmmmyyyyyy”’s because apparently I have to do everything for everyone and be at their beck and call at every second of every day.

I literally wrote that one paragraph and had kids coming to me asking when they can spend time with me again. They’re hungry even though we just ate, they want screens even though they’ve been told they can’t, and they’re booooooooored.

I am feeling stifled because I never get any time to myself anymore and while I DO enjoy playing games wit them and spending time with them in general, I also feel on the brink of insanity when I don’t get any moments to myself in a day.

There are lots of people who usually are out at work all day and a lot of families don’t even eat dinner together. We are not one of those families with or without self-isolation. We eat dinner together every single night of the week, we also eat breakfast and lunch together at the table every weekend. I’m generally with the kids when they eat their breakfast on weekday mornings when they have school. I spend the vast majority of my time, always, with my children. Have since day one. So this means the same amount of ‘quality’ time spent, plus much, much more.

I’m going crazy! I do count my lucky stars that this is my worst complaint right now, but it still feels like a real complaint to me! I just need a bit of time where I’m not having to be ‘on’ for anyone. I have my own feelings to process but I never have a chance to think for myself, and it’s doing my head in.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Covid-19...What else is there these days?

It seems like nothing else is happening in the world beyond Covid-19. I’m still processing how quickly the world changed with the onslaught of this pandemic.

I try to keep things in perspective, and remind myself how lucky that we are. While it’s not ideal on a full time basis, James is able to work from home (and has been since March 16th), which alleviates a huge amount of stress compared to what a lot of people are facing. We put our desk in our bedroom, and he drove to his office on the 16th and got his giant computer monitor and a comfy office chair, so he’s got a decent set up for while he has to be home. I won’t be able to work outside the home for the foreseeable future, but we’re fortunate that we can still manage.

The worry that things were getting real (and potentially scary) really started for us in the week leading up to spring break. But I did a cleaning job on Friday the 13th, and by the next day it felt like everything was changing. The 14th was my dad’s birthday, and we were hosting his party. I got the house cleaned from top to bottom, decorations up, and food as prepped as it could be before everyone was set to arrive about 2 hours later. The idea being that I would have a bit of time to relax before everyone arrived. No sooner had I had the thought that I was as ready for the party as I could be, Emily came up to me and said she had a bad headache. One look at her and I knew she had a fever.


A week or so earlier and I wouldn’t have felt so much as a hint of panic at her having a fever, because in general whenever she’s had one (relatively rarely) they’ve never amounted to anything of overly concern. But given coronavirus and one of the main symptoms being a sudden fever, I was instantly nervous. I went to get our thermometer out to take her temperature, when I realized someone else hadn’t put it back where it belongs. (I’m not taking any blame for it, as I’ve kept it in the same spot since we moved here over 7 years ago, so it wasn’t me that misplaced it!) I felt on a major time crunch to find out if she truly had a fever or not, because our guests were set to arrive in 2 hours! So I rushed over to the pharmacy near our house and asked if they had thermometers. The pharmacist was kind but at the same time was looking at me like I was slightly crazy. ‘Oh no, sorry,’ she said, ‘We’re completely sold out.’ She gave me the impression that a thermometer would basically be impossible to find at that moment, so I went home and started panic searching the house for the thermometer, which I found a few minutes later under the stairs where we keep the flashlights. Not quite sure what the logic was behind putting it there, but thankfully I found it relatively fast.

And sure enough, Emily had a fever. Not high enough for a hospital visit, but high enough that I knew the right thing to do was to cancel the party.

I couldn’t believe we had to cancel so last minute, but to be on the safe side we had to. My dad has a heart condition and both my parents are in the age group that is of particular concern for this virus. I wanted to give my dad his birthday presents, but couldn’t risk also sending him to his death with the coronavirus. So, sadly, his party was cancelled, and due to the circumstances, his gifts are still wrapped and waiting for when we might be able to have his party....which is now looking like it will be many months away.

Emily ended up having a fever off and on for a few days, and then she came down with a cold. Mainly just sniffles, and no cough. Luckily, no one else ended up catching it, which was amazing. I was so worried that with all the stress of everything going on, I’d end up with it and it would travel through the house. But it didn’t happen, which I’m so grateful for. It sucks that now even a common cold is enough to send a person into a panic, because you just never know for sure if it’s not something deadly.

Soon it was the first day of spring (the 19th this year, I think?) which is something I would usually relish in because I LOVE spring and the fact that it leads to summer, which I love even more. But this year I just wasn’t feeling it at all. Usually I’m one of the first to be out there putting my spring/summer garden do dads out to enjoy, but they’re barely a thought in the back of my mind right now. I just can’t even. It’s such a strange time, and feels like we’re living in the twilight zone.

It has been SOOOOOO annoying seeing so many people not adhering to social distancing. We were some of the first to start in our complex, as soon as it was recommended. For days afterward, all the kids friends from our neighbourhood were coming by to see if the kids could come out to play and it drove me nuts wondering why other parents weren’t listening to the recommendations on the news. The kids would whine and look at me like I was just being mean, and I constantly felt like the bad guy but at the same time I knew it was the right thing to do. We were having such sunny weather, it was an absolute shame to not allow the kids out to have fun with their friends, but the reality was, it wasn’t safe. Even now, when there should be absolutely NO EXCUSE whatsoever for social distancing in the neighbourhood, I see lots of kids playing together outside as if it’s a normal day. Last night I saw 6 kids playing basketball, sharing scooters, and just hanging out, across the street from us. The night before, I saw all those kids, plus at least 4 adults hanging out in close proximity as would have been normal before the pandemic. Last night I went for a quick walk around the block with James just for some fresh air and a tiny bit of exercise before the rain was set to hit again today, and was so annoyed at the people from our complex that were hanging out with several friends each, right next to each other, not even a foot away from one another. Seriously! No distance whatsoever, and I know for a fact these people don’t live together. It’s just not right. It’s because of people like that that this is getting worse before it gets better. I can’t help but feel anger and resentment toward the people that think they’re somehow above having to do their part to make a positive difference. 

The kids would have been on spring break last week and this week, so I was anticipating them being home and me being home with them. But not being able to go do stuff, or send them out to play with their friends, means I am never alone and have zero time to myself. I’m finding that very challenging mentally, as I really need some time to myself to collect my thoughts, especially to try to process how different the world feels, and how different our next several months (at least) is looking. We booked our Disneyland trip for later this year and I’m honestly thinking it’s going to get cancelled, and while we should be able to get a partial refund, I’m guessing we’d be out about $2000. Which will take a while to save up again. It makes me so sad because I’ve dreamed of this trip for so many years and finally it was going to happen, and now I just can’t see it. I know in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter, but it still makes me feel sad (so I’ve been trying not to think about it).

It’s such a strange time. I have to come up with more things to keep the kids occupied, and then there will be the challenge of trying to be their teacher, as they really do need to learn a few more things before they can start the next grade. Especially for the girls. Their teacher last year was pregnant, sick, and rarely there, so they had substitutes so often that they weren’t taught the curriculum as they should have been. Which put them (and all the other kids who had been in their class) at a severe disadvantage. Their teacher this year (along with help at home) was making a huge difference in getting them to where they should be, but they still have a ways to go to be prepared for grade 3. I don’t know how that’s going to go, though, as it’s very challenging to get them all to focus on school type work at the same time, and there’s no way I can see myself instructing each of them separately as it would take all day and it just wouldn’t work. So that should be interesting.

I had way more ‘free’ time before this started, and now I just feel kind of stifled. But hopefully it just becomes our new normal and we can manage to get through it without wanting to kill each other! It makes me realize, too, how important it is that James and I have a strong relationship, because I don’t think I could cope with the way I’ve been feeling from all of this if my partner and I weren’t at least mostly on the same page about things.

And hopefully by the the time we need it, there will be toilet paper restocked in the stores! I was so relieved that about a week before things got bad, I had happened to buy some TP on sale during a grocery order. Not a hoarding amount, but enough to last a while. I had no idea it would become such a hot commodity to own toilet paper! This has actually made me realize that the way I would normally shop IS conducive to being at least mostly prepared for a situation like the one we’re in. There are definitely some things I wish we had more of since we’ve run out now or are close to (I have still yet to find sugar, for example, and only have enough left to make muffins maybe 2 or 3 more times if I try to stretch it out). We wouldn’t be able to comfortably last for months without a trip to the store, but we did have a decent selection of essentials to begin with, as I’ve always worried about having nothing if some sort of disaster were to occur. (That being said, I don’t have a ton of bottled water, but in this particular instance didn’t feel it necessary as there’s nothing wrong with our tap water!)

In general this whole thing has me feeling a mixture of emotions, and if I’m being honest, none of them are good. I don’t like change, and I do like the security I used to feel because things were fairly constant. Now I worry I’ll never feel that sense of security again, because I realize now it was false. There is so much sadness and uncertainty these days, and it’s bizarre how we’re feeling it collectively. I hope we can get back to some semblance of normal soon, rather than later. Whatever ‘normal’ is going to look like after this.

Monday, February 03, 2020

40 is the new 20...

I’m turning 40 in 2 days. Tomorrow is the last day of my 30s.

I know that getting to any age is a feat, and awesome, and something to celebrate, because not everyone is so lucky. But for some reason I’ve been struggling more with this birthday than I have for any I’ve ever had before.

Forty. 40. Lordy, Lordy, look who’s 40.

I remember making that giant sign to hang above the garage door for all the neighbours to see when my dad turned 40. And again when my mom turned that age. Because it was old! Over the hill! Something to tease them about! Only now that it’s happening to me, I’m realizing how sensitive a topic it can be, and I wish I could take back all the ‘it’s only downhill from here you old buzzard!’ type remarks I thought were so funny way back when I was barely a teenager. With still so many of my own youthful years left!

I know 40 isn’t old compared to the many people who are much older. My nana is turning 90 in a few weeks and she’d likely flip me the bird if she heard me talking about how old I’m getting!

But I recently had my hair dyed and even my stylist was noticing how many more greys we were covering than before. About 2 weeks ago I put my back out after washing the bathtub, and all I was trying to do was put the shampoo bottles back on the side of the tub. I literally felt like I was about to drop to the floor, and I was barely able to move for the entire day afterwards. It’s mostly better but even now I notice it’s not 100%. I keep having these things happen to me that back in the day I’d have easily snapped back from because I had youth on my side. I can literally never again say I have youth on my side because I don't.  Now I need recovery time from the slightest thing because my body’s too old for snapping back. Instead, it only understands the snapping part. I wish I was joking!

A friend who turns 40 around the same time as me (she's a few days older than me, and yes it makes me feel just a twinge better to be younger by those few days!) was mentioning how she wants to look at it as a new chapter, but it’s not as easily done as it is said. I have to agree with her. We’re still in a particular phase of life with our kids, and we’re still doing the same things we’ve been doing, so the new chapter part feels like a bit of a stretch. It doesn’t feel new, and nothing much is changing other than we’re in the start of a new decade with our age. On the other hand, that new decade thing feels monumental, so we desire the new chapter bit in order to feel like there’s a purpose for this number!

40 is the new 20, right?! Something like that.

I vow to start writing more...

I started writing this on Jan 28, and it’s already Feb 3… I can’t believe it’s been over a month since Christmas already. Although in some ways it seems like it was ages ago. We had a great Christmas break, and miraculously we all remained healthy for the entire holidays, and are still healthy as I write this (knock on wood!) The kids in particular have NEVER gone this long a stretch without a cold. It’s amazing. Let’s hope it continues this way! I’m back on my old medication and relieved to say that my headaches are totally under control. I still get a few migraines per month, but FINALLY I don’t have headaches daily. What a difference it makes in what I’m able to accomplish when I’m not dealing with constant headaches.

A few days before Christmas we got a new couch and a ‘chair and a half’ for our living room. Our old couch served us well, but it was really starting to show its age, and no one felt comfortable sitting on it. Our new couch is very similar in style to what we had before (except it doesn’t have a chaise, which we were happy to not get again) and I love that we have a chair to match. We’ve never had properly matching furniture before! My parents got us a new cover for our puyang chair from Ikea, so it ties in nicely with the new furniture, and I was amazingly able to get rid of our old chair by offering it for free on FB Marketplace. Honestly, I was surprised at how quickly it was snapped up. I know it was free, but I certainly wouldn’t have wanted it even if someone paid me to take it!! One man’s trash is another man’s treasure though, and I’m glad to know it’s going to get more use and not end up in the landfill.

I’m on a major purging of stuff we don’t need kick since 2020 started. I recently parted with 6+ large black garbage bags full of old clothes and toys and random household items that I was able to take to our local free store. And I weeded out more toys yesterday that I donated to the kids’ old Kindergarten class. It feels so good to be getting rid of the things we don’t need anymore, and to know they’ll actually get some use now, which they hadn’t been for so long. Still a lot more to get rid of, but I’m getting there, and proud of myself for letting go of a lot of things that were difficult to part with for sentimental reasons.

I sold the kids’ IKEA play kitchen a few days ago. That one was pretty tough to see go. We bought that for Andrew when he was only 2 years old and I remember his excitement and how much he enjoyed playing with it. The girls got a fair bit of use out of it, too. But it was to the point that no one was playing with it anymore. Every so often Margaret would take it upon herself to re-organize all the food and dishes inside it, but beyond that it was largely neglected, and just took up space. The kids and I finally agreed that it was time to see it go to a new home, where a child would be really thrilled to have it. I sold it for $50, including a ton of play food and dishes, a cash register, and more! I even threw in Andrew’s old IKEA toy box, that despite being nearly 11 years old, looked like brand new. The person who took it was really happy, and it made me happy knowing it was all going to a new home to be enjoyed. AND we got some money for it to put toward our Disneyland trip (that we’re in the very-close-to-completing planning stages of. I’m so excited!!)

It’s been a while since I wrote in my journal, despite it being a new year’s resolution of mine to write more (don’t I always say that?!) I really should do a proper recap of our December and January.

OK, that’s how far I got, till now (Feb 3). One HUGE update is that DISNEYLAND IS BOOKED!! We’re going in the fall and I am so soooo soooooooooo excited! Its been a dream of mine since before we even had kids to one day take my kids to Disneyland, so it feels like a Bucket List item. I can’t wait. We got 4 day park hopper tickets. We had hoped to have a day to do other stuff in the area, and maybe a day at Universal, but it was going to cost so much more for the extra night, and Universal was written off quickly when I discovered that it would be almost $1000 Canadian for us to go for ONE DAY. That’s completely insane to me! My eyes nearly bugged out of my head when I saw that price. We just can’t afford it. Maybe one day, but not this trip. Four days in Disney will be magical, and the whole thing will be a huge adventure - it’s even going to be all 3 kids’ first plane rides ever! I just booked everything last Thursday. It hasn’t fully sunk in yet that this is actually happening!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Migraines and terrible side effects to medication. It's been a rough several months.

I haven’t been well for a while now. I’ve been sick more often than not since the beginning of August, and it appears as though my immune system is shot, but I’m not sure why that would be (at least previous to starting this new medication, but I'll get to that shortly). I was sick for most of August, got better for a few weeks, and then when the new school year started up again (even though I’m not the one going to school!) I caught every virus circulating and have barely had a reprieve since. (Meanwhile other than Andrew having a slight cold once for a few days, no one else has been sick at our house AT ALL this entire time, just me).

In late September, unrelated to the viruses but in regards to my migraines, my doctor suggested I wean off the medication I was taking and try something altogether different. His reasoning for the change was that I was having to take 3 pills to help stop the ‘every day’ headaches I’d been getting, but they did nothing to help with the amount or severity of migraines I was getting per month. And the amount of migraines I was getting per month seemed to be increasing. I had actually already started weaning off them previous to my visit with him, as I was feeling that it was too high a dosage (even though it was actually a very low dose of the particular medication he had me on, all considered. I just hate the thought of having to take medication and relying on it so much if I don’t have to, especially if it’s not even helping all that much).

So I was started pretty quickly on the new medication and immediately started having a lot of negative side effects. And wouldn’t you know, one side effect is ‘upper respiratory system infections.’ So a weakened immune system, which caused me to get several more viruses, to the point I had to go to a walk in clinic after I was sick for 6 weeks and literally started feeling like I was going to die.

I’ve done two rounds of antibiotics in the past few months, have used a nasal spray prescription to try to clear my sinuses, and have had more headaches, including migraines, than I can count. I’ve felt nauseous 24/7 pretty much since starting the new pills.

I was told after about 3 weeks I should start to notice some relief in my headaches, and within a few months hopefully should stop having migraines altogether, or at the very least with much less frequency - which was why he prescribed me this particular medication. It’s meant to drastically decrease the number of migraines had. Unfortunately for me, I started to experience many terrible side effects with no relief from the headaches.

I was told to take one pill per day, and increase to two after one month if I wasn’t noticing any change in my headaches. Since my head was no better, I increased the dosage. Caught another virus (maybe a coincidence but I swear I’ve NEVER been this sick for this long over and over again) and was more nauseous, Barely able to fall asleep at night even worse than my usual. When my hair started falling out like it did postpartum I decided enough is enough. This is not doing anything good for my body whatsoever! I was feeling sick every single day, barely eating (I lost 15 lbs in a couple of weeks...not that I can’t afford to lose a few pounds but that quickly just doesn’t seem healthy - although it’s another side effect). I was barely eating, felt too sick to eat, and felt just a general feeling of overall illness throughout my body all the time. I also was feeling depressed and just not mentally myself at all. The ‘confusion’ side effect was so real it was scary. For example, we have a front door lock that has a code you punch in so you don’t have to use a key. We’ve had the same code for ages. I have an amazing memory normally and I would NEVER forget stuff like this. One morning after dropping the kids at school I came home and tried every combination of numbers I could think of and could not unlock the door. Luckily I had a key with me, but it was very scary to think my brain was having that hard a time functioning that even normal, every day things were becoming impossible for me. I would have many moments of sudden uncertainty where I’d feel panicked inside that I’d forgotten something or couldn’t remember something I knew I should know, and it made me very fearful.

And yet on the outside, I look ‘normal’ and other than my close family and a few friends, no one would even have a clue what I’ve been going through. Which has kind of made this feel even more isolating and scary and sad for me lately. I’ve been feeling very alone inside myself, and haven’t really been able to explain to others how I’m feeling or what I’m going through and what it’s doing to me. I talk about it with James a fair bit, and my mom, people I’m particularly close to, but I still feel like I can’t fully share what’s going on inside my own head/body.

For a while now, just because I’ve felt so ill for so long, I get this ominous feeling of impending doom, which sounds dramatic but it’s true. I keep feeling like I must be really sick with something serious to be this unwell. But maybe it is ‘just’ the pills?

I was going to give it another month to see if I could get past the side effects but decided enough is enough a few weeks ago, weaned down to one, and last night decided I wasn’t taking it anymore. I’m done with it and will never take that particular medication again. It was terrible. I still have Almotriptan, which I only take at the onset of a migraine that often works to at minimum take the edge off, but often will prevent the full attack from taking over. I’ll continue to take those as needed (it’s not super often - a full prescription is only 6 pills so it’s not meant to be taken often). I have a dr appointment for just before Xmas so I can talk this over with my dr and decide if I should go back on the other medication I used to take, try something else, or - what I’m leaning toward - try a more holistic approach. Cutting out or at least cutting back on certain foods and looking at it from a different point of view than pills. I worried from the get go that a prescription was a bandaid, and while I’m not opposed to it if it actually helps, so far I’m not finding much success in that, so why take them if they’re causing more harm than good?

It has been so debilitating, and all while I’ve started working more. It basically couldn’t have happened at a worse time! Deep cleaning someone’s house with a migraine coupled with extreme nausea and an overall sense of total unwellness is very challenging. I haven’t missed a single shift because it’s hard to come up with a time to reschedule, and really, how can I reschedule when I never seem to feel any better from day to day? So I’ve been fighting through and forcing myself to keep going, but it has been really difficult both physically and mentally for a while now.

The medication should be completely out of my system within another 5 days, so we’ll see if I start to feel better. I’m worried I won’t, and then I’ll be wondering what’s actually wrong with me. But hopefully I start to notice an improvement. Unfortunately yesterday I had a severe migraine that made me feel so unwell that I again felt the impending doom, so today I’m dealing with the slight headache and nausea that tends to follow from that. I just can’t seem to catch a break lately.