Having To Say Goodbye…

There are times I despise my Vestibular Disorder… The past number of weeks have been extremely difficult. They have been weeks filled with retrospect, sadness, peppered with laughter. There were two deaths of loved ones, only one week apart, not truly giving us time to grieve one before the other happened. The first, was Mike’s uncle, passing away at 92 years old. We traveled the 4 hours to attend his funeral and say goodbye to the end of an era. This was a man who had LIVED life to its fullest most of his years. He was an amazing story-teller, actually all the Byrne men are great tellers’ of tales, mostly stories involving oil rigs, drilling and ‘sweet crude oil’, and such. I do live in Texas and this is oil and cattle country out here (we just wish we owned some of it!). He had a beautiful service, but when it was time to go to the burial site, I just could not do it! I was so unstable feeling after dealing with the super high ceiling and lighting…It felt awful having to tell Mike I really needed to go home and as usual, he said “Yes” to me and “Goodbye” to his relatives. I have a selfless husband who does understand.

I think most of us go through a ‘funk’ after a death and funeral, it’s part of the grieving process and normal. You’re spending time reminiscing about the person, looking through childhood pictures, laughing and crying at the same time, and Kleenex! I definitely went into a funky mood. It was Mike’s uncle but after 43 years of marriage, he was my uncle also. We just sheltered in place for the following week, with Mike leaving only for work. We’ve lost most of our local friends due to Mike’s crazy schedule. No one we know has such a backwards schedule. Then there’s me and my Vestibular issues… It takes a funeral or a doctor appointment to get me out of the house! It’s frustrating, it’s sad, it’s infuriating, and there are times I truly despise my Vestibular Disorder!

During this oh so funky period, Reed, a long time friend of ours called. I didn’t answer at first, then thought talking with him would likely make me feel better, as he’s also a great story-teller! I decided to video chat with him. We talked about what was going on in their lives, he had a lot going on! A new job, in a new city, in a new home. His daughter and her family live in Rockport, Texas. Yes, that Rockport! The direct hit of Hurricane Harvey. They lost everything, yet still had it all because her family got out… I told him about Mike’s uncle and he casually said, “So, I guess you heard about Lin…”. At our age, I knew what that meant, he had died. I sat there in total disbelief, in shock, feeling numb. It was a video chat, Reed could see quite clearly, that NO! I did not know that he died.

When Mike and I  married 43 years ago, Lin was Mike’s Best Man, with Reed being an Usher at our wedding. We grew up with these people! We did all the craziness of the ’70’s and we all survived! Most of our lives, we remained close with Lin and his wife. We had game nights, homemade snacks, and I’m sure way too many libations. Then for whatever reasons (maybe my stupid Vestibular Disorder for one?) we slowly drifted apart. It’s only in hindsight that we see our down falls and I regret not putting more effort into seeing each other. Lin dealt with Kidney Disease for decades and had been on dialysis for 21 years (10 years is the ‘normal’ life expectancy once put on dialysis). He also had coronary Disease, so it’s not as if we didn’t know he was ill, we just didn’t know how fragile he’d become. Now, I was going to have to tell Mike when he got home…

A Memorial was planned for the next day. I cried myself to sleep after Mike and I talked for hours into the night. I had a panic attack after thinking about ‘What if you die, Mike? ‘What if I die?’ and other depressing dialogue. Mike is a powerful force in my life, he held me, calmly reassuring me it would all be okay.  When we woke up several hours later (we’d stayed up way too late), I couldn’t breathe, at ALL! All my crying had plugged up my head, I felt the ‘fishbowl effect’. My ears were stopped up and ringing (new for me, I assume it was Tinnitus?). I took  decongestants and lay in bed awhile longer. As I got up from bed, bam! I became so dizzy and nauseated, it made me ill. “Oh my God, not now”! It was now… Right now! That’s the thing with a Vestibular Disorder or other Invisible Disorder/Disease, we can look okay, one minute you’re coping pretty darn well, then it knocks you flat. A Vestibular Disorder truly doesn’t give a shit what plans or responsibilities you have, even for a funeral. Mike went to the Memorial Service alone.  I stayed home. I felt just horrible, both physically and emotionally. These are the times I despise being sick…

I’m feeling very mortal after losing Lin at only 63 years of age. A good reason? In my mind, it’s just too young to die (because that’s too close to MY age?) One thing I do know, I have no idea when I’ll die, none of us do. With all this sadness and stress, there is something that eases our pain, Olivia, our granddaughter. There’s something about the innocence of a baby that keeps us going. She is wearing me out this is true but it’s been 38 years since I had my last baby and almost 9 years since our youngest grandson. I’m able to do less with each one. I’m not the same person I once was, which makes me sad. I’m working on ‘staying in the moment’ which isn’t difficult with Olivia. She’s a ‘granddad’s girl’, no doubt. I’ve begun meditation again. I find it very ‘centering’ and does aid in my stress reduction, I don’t know why I forget about this very useful tool.

I believe there is an ebb and flow with life and death. I believe in the circle of life. I believe that Yin cannot exist without Yang. As one heartbeat fades, a new heart is strongly beating in a child just entering our crazy world…

 

 

 

 

vestibular.org

Appearances May Be Deceiving

For all the women still able to, or having to work…Just how exhausting is it getting yourself ready and putting on your ‘happy face’ for work? Exhausting! High fives to all who blow-dry or curl their hair! You GO, girl if you put makeup on! My dad’s mother was a cosmetic buyer forever, and watching her ‘put on her face’ was the source of many a fight between the 4 siblings (even my brothers wanted to see). It was a ritual. She was a beautiful woman who taught me the importance of good skincare, which I continue to this day. Clean, clear, well-moisturized skin goes a long way in my book. I can’t say, honestly, that I look sick any longer (most of us probably don’t). I look sad, but not necessarily sick any longer. I look tired. Who of us gets the kind of sleep we once had? I know at times, I probably look mad (I am!). At this moment, I look older than I’d like, due to being too tired to color my hair (I have a white halo effect going on right now). Who am I kidding with that? My husband took over that job a few years ago! I couldn’t even imagine going through my old morning routine! It was minimal I assure you, but I get tired thinking about it.

Before being hit with Labyrinthitis, I didn’t have trouble sleeping. I was SO a morning person! It was easy to wake up without an alarm, jump in the shower, brush my teeth, etc. I rarely used a blowdryer and occasionally, minimal makeup (hippie chick, remember?). I’d wake up eager to go to work, how many people can say they LOVE their job like that? I was the person you ‘hate’ because they’re so perky in the morning, even Monday mornings! I laughed, joked, and played throughout my work day (keep in mind I worked with children!). I was always baking something yummy (appetizer cheesecake anyone?). I baked fresh bread, cookies, and such. Yeah, I was one of those…I get it now. I get how irritating it can be to see another so perky and chipper when you feel horrid. I miss that old me… Pssssst…You’re still in there, Margaret! To all of you, YOU are still in there, too!

My daily life now? I sleep well, but only because I take Ambien. I have to ‘weigh out’ each day, just what I can accomplish, in OT we call it Energy Conservation. An example: My hair needs to be colored and even though Mike does it for me, I still have to sit there with my head in bizarre positions. I shouldn’t gripe but I have a lot of hair, so it does take quite a while to do it all (maybe 1 1/2 hours?). Then I have to get that crap all out! I have to wash my hair twice, condition it, wash my body, dry off, and put lotion on my 5′ 10″ self…That’s usually it! I’m done! Totally exhausted, but my hair looks great again…Even though I claim my hippie side, I have enough BareMinerals makeup to fill a professional style bag! I have false eyelashes (antiques by now!) in there! Every once in a while, I’ll pull it out, dust it off and just look at it all…BIG sigh…I remind myself, “But your skin looks great”…

I was once known for my fashionable dressing. Now? I live in clothes that make it ‘appear’ I work out, like yoga pants and a cami top…day in, day outBORING! I am quite capable of making my clothes, I’ve sewn since age 7. Being so tall, I learned to piece together patterns. From there, I learned to make my own patterns. I worked as an ‘In-House’ Designer for a clothing manufacturer. I had a Bridal and Evening Wear business for 10 years, where I showed my Original One-of-a-kind creations with a Designers Guild twice a year. I designed our daughter’s Wedding Gown, all 9 yards of fabric with 748 gold beads and 432 pearl beads, thank you very much! And I wear yoga pants and a cami top and sometimes, I have difficulty deciding which color to wear…Sigh…

When I left my job, there were many changes going on…They were discussing us beginning to wear uniforms, the horror!Where’s the fashion sense in a uniform? We were just beginning the switch from handwritten Progress Notes to Computer notes. I HATED it, absolutely rebuked the idea to the end! Here in the USA, it is Occupational Therapy that is fighting to keep Cursive Handwriting ‘alive’. My mother ingrained all her children the importance of handwriting. That was a huge part of my job, teaching handwriting in the school system. Now? I live on my laptop and have become quite competent with the 21st Century contraptions…I feel lost without my laptop now, so very odd to me, a computer would become my social life! The truth is, sitting here as I am, secure where I am, I don’t feel dizzy, maybe because I’m in bed?

With the modifications I’ve put in our shower (a shower chair and a grab bar), there are no problems in this aspect of getting ready for my day. Minimal as my preparation is for an outing, there are still going to be one of those days every so often. This old hippie will tell you, “You are gorgeous! Just the way you are. You don’t need makeup to be beautiful, as you already are beautiful. Haven’t we been through worse than being seen without hair and makeup?” I encourage you to just try going makeup free for a day… Just your stunning clean, moisturized face and a big smile! For those who do wear makeup daily, you are a stronger person than me, truly! I am not anti-makeup by any means, either. It’s just more work than I am willing to do…Do you feel you ‘have’ to wear makeup before going out? Do you wear it even when not working or going somewhere? Has your mate never seen you without makeup?

vestibular.org