Friday, August 1, 2008

What Was I Thinking?!

I don't know what I was thinking last weekend -- or the few weeks before when I made the plans ...

Last Saturday, we took our 3.5-year-old daughter to the beach for the first time. When she was a toddler, we didn't want to take her because we figured she would just eat the sand. And of course, we had planned to go last summer, and then the Mystery Illness came out of no where and all our plans went out the window.

So it was past time. I thought I was being pro-active because I arranged for our babysitter to accompany us. Otherwise, I figured, I'd be so exhausted from entertaining Ellie during the 90-minute drive that I wouldn't be able to do anything once we arrived in Cannon Beach.

That was a good plan. And it was nice to be able to sit in the front seat and have someone else back with Ellie. But what I didn't count on was how curvy the road we took was! I tend to hold onto the handle above the door on curves, especially when my husband takes them fast. By about halfway to the coast, my right hand was aching from holding on so much. (Yes, of course I wear a seatbelt and he wasn't driving recklessly, but if I don't hold on to brace myself, my body sways in ways that are achy too.) I found myself cheering inside when we got stuck behind a slow driver in a no-passing zone.

We left home a little before 9 a.m. and got to Cannon Beach around 10:30 a.m. After a quick stop at the public bathrooms and my reminding Scott that we needed to look for parking close to the beach and not just park in the big lot five or six blocks away like we used to. We got lucky and found parking less than a block from the stairs leading down to the sand, which was great. And I carefully took another dose of my pain meds before leaving the car because I wanted to try to keep things under control by taking them on a regular schedule instead of when my pain levels get too high like I often do at home.

This is the Pacific Northwest, so it's not like going to the beach in Hawaii or Florida. The high was supposed to be 60 degrees, but it was more like 53 when we arrived -- windy, foggy and misting. So we piled on the fleece, grabbed some towels and the sand toys and headed out.

It was really important to me to be there for Ellie's first visit to the ocean. (I may have been to the Pacific Ocean when I was in California at age 5 for a cousin's bar mitzvah, but I have no memory of it. As a Chicagoan, when I thought of the beach as a kid, I thought of Lake Michigan! So I was in my mid 20s the first time I really saw the ocean.)

But really, other than take some photos, I couldn't do much except sit on a towel and watch while Scott and our babysitter, Angie, fetched water and wet sand to help Ellie make her first sand castle at the beach. (She has plenty of experience building them at parks and the sandbox at preschool.) I was a little surprised at how uninterested she was in looking for seashells, but happy she was having fun.

Was it really worth the consequences for me to go along?

After all the preparation for the day trip and the drive out there, after about 45 minutes, I was done. I left the three of them playing in the sand and headed back to the car to try to get a little rest. But even that little bit was way too much for me and the hour alone in the car helped, but wasn't anywhere near enough to refresh me.

When they came back to the car, I pitched in with getting Ellie cleaned up as best we could and then Scott suggested we go for a walk and find a restaurant. I had to, again, remind him that I was already exhausted and didn't have the strength to go looking for a restaurant. At that point, I wasn't even hungry, I was just beyond exhausted. I suggested the three of them could go without me but if he wanted me to come along, we needed to drive and find a place we could park near.

And we did, although we didn't eat at any of our old favorite restaurants because none of them had nearby parking. And we did get lucky and find a parking place right in front of the old-fashioned candy store, where we bought the requisite salt-water taffy. And then we drove home, thank goodness.

And other than dragging myself along for Ellie's first swimming lesson the next morning, I've hardly been out of my PJs all week. I'm dreading that this is a Friday, which means Ellie and Scott will be home for another two full days even though I haven't recovered yet from the last weekend. (I find it ironic that with this illness, I look forward to Mondays the way I looked forward to Fridays when I worked, or even was just taking care of Ellie on my own.)

Fatigue just doesn't begin to describe my lack of energy. Even exhaustion doesn't. Scott still sometimes calls me his "wordy girl," but I sure haven't been able to find the words to describe how I feel.

I'm never quite sure whether the consequences are really worth it when I force myself to do something that I know will be too much for me. But on the other hand, I'm a mom, and even though I may be sick and feel lousy, I still want to be there for the important moments in my daughter's life. I feel like an absentee mother too much of the time as it is -- I'm physically present, but that's about it more often than I'd like.


Sherril said...

It must be rough. I never had any kids (thank you, endometriosis) so I haven't had to deal with that. But I have nieces and nephews that I adore and want to spend time with, so I can relate to a degree.

I have been thinking of asking my Dr. for a handicapped hang tag just so I can go to places like water and theme parks with the kids, and your post has just caused me to decide to ask about it on my next appointment. I have to take so much "stuff" with me to places like that just to be comfortable, that it causes me not to go because I feel like a burden and a half asking anyone else to help me carry it all in when they've got plenty of their own stuff to carry (and the kids are at the age where they don't want to do anything they're asked to do so it's just more pleasant not to ask!).

I've been fighting it for years, this handicapped tag thing, but I figure I won't HAVE to use it if I don't think I really need it. And I really don't want to deal with people seeing me get out of the car "looking fine", giving me grief about not needing to use the handicapped parking spaces, either. So I'll just save it for when I really need it. Have you thought about getting one? It sounds like it might be helpful...

Aviva said...

hi Sherril!

Actually, I do have one (although it didn't help at the beach because I didn't see any handicapped street parking)! I strongly recommend asking for it. I felt really lame when I asked my internist for it, but she had no problem doing it.

I get the "temporary" ones that expire after six months. I've renewed it once, and when it expires in October, I plan to ask my internist to just go ahead and give me the six-year one.

I promised her when I first got it that I'd happily stop using it when I was better. And I sometimes choose not to use it if I'm having an especially good day -- I figure any little bit of exercise is good for me. But at this point, I'm fairly pessimistic that my symptoms are going away anytime soon. So I'd like to not have to renew it every six months.

Seriously, you should really get one. You don't have to use it if you're not as tired and achy as usual. But for those times you are, it can make the difference for me in being able to go some place or not.

And fwiw, I've never had anyone give me any grief about using it. Yes, sometimes people look twice, but no one says anything and I just ignore them. Just like I ignore the people who look like they think I'm being lazy when I use the scooter some stores provide. (But without the scooter, I'd never be able to shop there. And even with the scooter, I get so exhausted anyway!)

Anyway, definitely go ahead and ask for one, and then you'll have it if/when you need it. You certainly qualify!!