How Can I Write?

It’s been a little crazy around here.  I told my daughter at the end of January that I felt book-ended by crises, and once I said that, it only got more crazy.  That’s what I get for opening my big mouth.  I don’t talk much about family.  Matter of fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever written a blog post about anything family related.  Dogs?  Yeah.  The humans.  No.

But.  With all that’s happened and happening, I thought I’d share what’s got me feeling a little wrung out and emotionally drained, and wondering, how can I write?  Let’s start with my daughter.  Her name is Brooke.  Actually, it’s Laura Brooke, Laura being her great grandmother’s name.  She passed away quite some time ago.  My daughter just came through a difficult pregnancy.  She didn’t suffer from anything unusual but she seemed to get “it” ALL.  Like the nausea that makes you lose weight instead of gain.  I said, “it’s a girl.”  (I was right, btw)  Then she had to go through tests for gestational diabetes.  That came back high, so she had to have another, more intense evaluation.  That came back negative, but made her sick for two days.  Then she had to deal with “this,” and was hospitalized.   I won’t torture anyone with details.  She also had this, ptyalism – the entire time.  Oh, why not add in gestational hypertension and then pre-eclampsia to round out the misery?  Sure, that happened too.

By now, any guy reading this has probably said, “Goodbye.”

In addition to all that, my daughter has a heart condition called Wolff Parkinson White syndrome, but, mainly due to the hypertension, they induced her at thirty six weeks, so the baby was unexpectedly here a month early.  She is healthy and mostly just plain adorable.  Her name is Abigail Marie.  (Marie is my mother’s middle name)  She is 18 1/4″, and 5.5 lbs.  Pure “tee” total cuteness.

That’s the good news.

The other crisis is my father, and the opposite end of the spectrum.  A new life has entered my world, a little light shining as bright as a new star, while my father’s own light dims.  A while back he was diagnosed with Stage IV kidney failure.  He refused to do dialysis.  My dad is at odds with doctors.  He loved his chiropractor, and the herbalist woman he went to for years.  Meanwhile, the white coat individuals can take a hike.  “They’re trying to kill me.”

Many, many years ago, before I was even born, and when my mom and he were newly married, he suffered a nervous breakdown, the old fashioned term used to describe “a stressful situation in which someone becomes temporarily unable to function normally in day-to-day life. It’s commonly understood to occur when life’s demands become physically and emotionally overwhelming.” (Wikipedia, 2014)   I wonder about this time in his life.  A time when he should have been happy go lucky, in love, and starting fresh.  Mom said it was the hours he worked.  He traveled.  A lot.  He worked on the large refrigeration units, like this, only older versions, and for this same company.  He’d go somewhere, come home, collapse in bed, and four hours later, off he’d go to another state for days on end.

They gave him electric shock therapy.  After the eleventh “treatment,” my mother said, “no more.”  I think that’s why he’s turned off from most doctors.  That was NOT a good experience to go through.  All my life my dad has been the gentlest of men I’ve ever known.  He’s never cussed.  Not even a “damn.”   He’d say, “That ‘John Brown’ car is giving me a fit,” and that was his way of cussing.  I’ve never heard him raise his voice.  He never spanked me, not once.  He was so quiet, yet always there, the sort of presence where, if I looked back over my shoulder, there he’d be, letting me go my own way, like a shadow, never in the way, simply a part of me.

This past week I went with him and Mom to his nephrologist’s office.   Hospice had been recommended twice a week, and Mom wanted me to verify with the doctor what that meant timewise.  I’d read six months.  She’d talked to her friends at the spa, and they’d said the same.  I know my dad is in denial, doesn’t really understand this isn’t something he will recover from.  His body is toxic, filled with too much acidity, and other waste his kidneys are unable to filter, and this is affecting his mind.  I believe to some degree, my mother too, is in denial.

This coming October they will have been married 59 years.  I’m not sure my dad will see the anniversary because the nephrologist confirmed what we all feared.  His kidney’s are worse, his creatinine level rising.  Ten or above is Stage V, end of life, his is at twelve.  And as I write this post, I’m not sure I’ve been able to get my own head around this fact.  The very idea of his current suffering, and what is yet to come.  I think about “the girls,” their own kidney failure, and how oddly coincidental it will be this same thing that will take my father from me.  And if he makes it six months, the timing will also be in August.

I asked Mom, “what about me giving him a kidney?”

Mom said, “He’d never allow it.”

That’s how he is.  He will just…, go.  He will not want to, but, he won’t fight.  He’ll go quietly.  Without a fuss.  Like the sun slipping behind a cloud so there is no longer a shadow to see.

So, I ask myself, “how can I sit here and write?”  By using the joy, the pain and sorrow, I suppose.  There’s more than enough of it to go around.

So, I am writing.  And strangely, it’s helping.

Have you continued writing during difficult times?

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COMMENTS

  • Jennine G.

    February 14, 2015

    Reply

    Oh Donna! Such trying times for you. And bittersweet as one is a beautiful blessing and the other heartbreaking! Since I read more than write, I’ll answer saying I’m always reading, even in hard times. But that may be different. Prayers with you and your family.

    • donnaeve

      February 14, 2015

      Reply

      Jennine, I feel like I’ve been pressed through one of those old fashioned washing machines. No wonder that phrase, “been put through the wringer,” is so apt. I feel flat, pulled, stretched, and yep, wrung out. Writing this post was therapeutic.

      Bittersweet suits it perfectly. Thank you for your prayers! XO

  • Teri

    February 14, 2015

    Reply

    It’s during the good and easy times when I have the most difficulty writing. Something in me needs the feeling of urgency, otherwise I have to force myself to write and whatever I have to say sounds blah and like I don’t care enough, probably because I don’t?

    I’m so very sorry to hear about your dad, and at the same time thrilled about the new life, the new baby, in your family. xoxo

    • donnaeve

      February 14, 2015

      Reply

      I’ve always been the sort when I’m emotionally wigged out, I can’t eat, but writing seems to get my head around it. I get what you mean, about the good times. I’m like that too. I have to dredge up the sucky feelings, the times when I’ve been most tormented in order to have it mean something, or sound like it means something, but I swear to God, I’d rather not feel like shit in order to write with meaning.

      Thus I drink. 🙂

      These next few months are going to be weird. I told my husband today I’m not sure which is more sad. The idea of my dad not being here, or the thought of my mother, cooking a meal, and sitting down alone to eat it. It kills me.

      • Teri

        February 14, 2015

        Reply

        And I’m right there drinking with you. 🙂

  • Paul Lamb

    February 15, 2015

    Reply

    As you know, my daughter just had her first baby. It was a text-book perfect pregnancy and delivery (even with the crazy, almost-too-late cab ride to the hospital). My grandson is healthy and thriving, and I was able to spend a week in NYC with him recently. I am grateful for this, especially since when my wife was carrying my daughter, she had horrible blood pressure, so bad it should have given her a stroke. She was hospitalized, and my daughter came about two weeks early. But then everything returned to normal and life went on.

    I am sorry about your father. I’m glad he was a gentle man all of your life. My father, on the other hand, . . . When he died (at 88) I felt no remorse and have not missed him for a single second in the last 6 years. I didn’t love him. I survived him.

    I am currently going through the most difficult time of my life (shitshitshitshitshit), and my ability to write and even to read (fiction) has dried up. I wish I could cope by writing, but all I’m doing is getting more stressed, more frightened, more hopeless. Will the doctors and my good wife get me through it? Most likely. But I’m not going to be the same person in the end, and though I never much liked the person I was before, at least he could read and write. (And type. I’m having a hard time getting the fingers to fall on the keys in the proper sequence.)

    Life should be more than merely coping. At least that’s what everyone tells me.

    • donnaeve

      February 15, 2015

      Reply

      First, I’m so sorry about what must have been a very trying (understatement?) relationship with your dad. I don’t know what kind of man he was, but “I survived him,” says a LOT. Now I know why you must write the stories you do.

      Otherwise, you’ve got me REALLY worried, Paul. Your words hinting at what you may be going through are certainly frightening in of themselves. I am glad you have a supporting wife. The fact you’ve mentioned “doctor,” is unnerving, so whatever is going on, dear Paul, I’m here – even if only virtually – for you. Feel that? That’s me, hugging you. XO

    • Diane

      February 15, 2015

      Reply

      Paul Lamb, you may think your writing has dried up, but good lord you do it WELL.

      Donna, I will keep your family and you in my prayers; your father sounds like a blessing – and you have been to him, too. And he has been able to see Marie, what a lovely thing for him at this time. I’m so sorry for all the pain and stress. I’d do the same thing (I have), I’m glad you can “feel” some relief and release with writing.

      • donnaeve

        February 15, 2015

        Reply

        Thank you, Diane. He is a blessing. He supplied steadfast peacefulness and security when I was growing up. The baby, Abigail, and he have not met yet. She was just born Sunday a week ago, and he’s too ill to travel. I plan on taking her and my daughter to visit next week.

        As to the writing, it’s a good diversion.

  • Carolynnwith2Ns

    February 15, 2015

    Reply

    My heart goes out to you Donna, really, it aches for you.
    Twelve years ago…
    In the space of less than a week’s time,
    I started a new job,
    my father lay dying,
    my strong mother became an empty husk of neediness,
    we had to take my youngest daughter to her first year of college, she did NOT want to go,
    we moved our oldest into her dorm room half a state away, she wanted home, not school.
    Our birds had flown.
    SO
    In the midst of mind bending heartache and chaos I sat at my desk and started writing my first novel.
    It is apt, that in the original version I put my main character in her car (leaving everything behind) and had her headed away from Connecticut, the place where I live, to Wyoming, a place I visited as a teenager and have dreamed of revisiting for over fifty years. It wasn’t until a few years later I realized that the story was my way of removing myself from the most difficult of situations.

    By the time the book was finished, (seven months later), my father died, my mother had also passed and I was left on the front steps of my future as an adult orphan.
    My daughters were thriving at school, and I had a promotion at work. I missed my kids but I relished the quiet (and clean) of our empty home. Life was different. I dealt with the changes and I had written a book.
    My first reader, a college professor said the book would be published and change my life. She was right. I have yet to find an agent for it, but it did change my life, it saved me.
    Donna,
    sit,
    write,
    let your words carry you away.

    • donnaeve

      February 15, 2015

      Reply

      Well. As usual, you step into the moment and say just the right thing. I think what’s squeezing the very breath out of me when I think of it, is how this disease is so unpredictable, and how any one thing could take him, at any minute, and my mother will be there, by herself with him, most likely, when it happens. I will be calling her shortly to re-hash the hospice discussion again.

      Thank you for your words, and your support. It means a lot. XO

  • Writer of Wrongs

    February 15, 2015

    Reply

    Donna,
    Life’s duality allows us to experience great joy as well as devastating loss and still come through the other side. I hope you find relief in writing. It takes courage to write a post like you did. Thank you. Congratulations on the new edition to your family, and best wishes for a dignified final chapter with your father. Your words are touching and a wonderful reminder to enjoy the time we have with our loved ones.

    • donnaeve

      February 15, 2015

      Reply

      Hi Micki,

      Thank you for saying these things. I found writing about what is going on around here to be really helpful, and if it speaks to anyone else, then all the better.

      My granddaughter is definitely a gift, as is the time left with my father. There is nothing special or different about either situation, only that they have occurred almost in tandem – the latest diagnosis and the birth within two days of each other.

      I appreciate your words here too, and the fact of knowing others understand.

  • Colin

    February 15, 2015

    Reply

    My wife had pre-eclampsia and toxemia with our first. The doctors decided to do a c-section at 34 weeks, otherwise I could have lost them both. My little Sarah was 4 lbs 7 oz at birth and had to stay in the infant ICU at Wake Med for 4 weeks (over Christmas). That was 21 years ago. And aside from the genetic quirks that come from being my daughter (i.e., she’s half British), she’s a healthy lovely young lady. So I relate to the worries and stresses your daughter and her hubby have been through.

    And I’m sorry about your father’s situation. Like many others have said, I hope writing helps you through. I’ve heard people talk about how their best work came out of the hardest times in their lives. Honestly, I’d sooner write drivel than have to go through hardship to produce something publishable.

    I wish you all the best dealing with both your Mum and Dad. May you find the right words to talk about these difficult issues with them, and may you find peace in the midst of all of this.

    • donnaeve

      February 15, 2015

      Reply

      Awww, thank you, Colin, so very sweet of you to say all this.

      Agreed, preferable to write drivel. I know it when I see it on my pages, that’s for sure. 🙂

      That must have been very scary for you re: your daughter’s birth. Little Abigail is two weeks further and about a lb heavier. (5 lbs 5 0z) It does make a difference! And your daughter being half British is only a bonus, i.e., all very proper, and I’m sure delightful. See? I can hear my fake British accent inmy own head creeping through, b/c saying “delightful?” Not a normal word for me. LOL!

      Thank you for your kind words.


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