Monday, June 24, 2013

Open Doors

     It's been over two months since I've posted and it feels like so much longer. Right now, as I type this, I'm unsure of myself, unsteady with the motion of bringing all of this out of my head. It almost feels foreign to me, as ever since my whole domain-hopping nightmare, I've been using my paper journal as the lifeline to keep me within sight of land. Strangely, though, I haven't been writing about anything related to my husband's health issues or, really, anything Marfan's-related. In fact, now that I think about it, I don't know that I ever really have, not since we first started dating and even then, I only skimmed the surface of what was there. I'm sure there's some deep psychological meaning behind that if I felt like looking for it, but I really, really don't. I'm not particularly interested in the "What does it all MEAN?!?!?!" way of thinking most days and shockingly enough, today is no exception. Also, hi!

     Believe me, there has been plenty going on to write about in the past couple of months and it's only my technological idiocy that's kept me away from the blog. Happily, I seem to have undone the damage that my mucking about in things beyond my pay grade temporarily did, so let's go another few rounds, shall we? Um. Where to start. Well, my husband fell in the kitchen last week and landed pretty hard on his back, so there's that. He tried to ride the pain out on Tuesday night, which is when it happened, because we both knew what the hospital would do if he were to show up in the emergency room. He was in no mood to spend his evening trying to convince the hospital staff that he was not a junkie and was instead in severe amounts of pain, so we didn't go.

     By the next day, though, it had gotten so bad that he was left with no choice; he could barely walk. He called me at work (new job, btw, full of people who don't know that my husband is disabled) to let me know and ask what I thought he should do. I said that if he felt it necessary, of course he should go to the ER. He was dreading it, though, because he knew how he'd likely be treated and you can only face that so many times before you decide that the physical pain is the preferable choice over the mental exhaustion of trying to argue the case for your character yet again. His pain-management doctor is kind of a prick, too, and never fails to hassle him about seeking "extra treatment", like he's sneaking massages on the sly or something.

    Knowing all this, I suggested that he call the pain-management doctor's office first and ask them what he should do. That way, his inevitable trip to the ER (which was sure to include narcotics) would be more or less sanctioned and thus not subject to the scrutiny that's the usual order of business. I figured that even if he had to leave a message with the nurse or something, it would be the effort that counted, and a solid mark in the, "I told you I'm not drug-seeking" column. He ended up leaving a message at the doctor's office, calling a cab and heading over the ER. He had to use his cane, which tells me quite a bit about where his back must've been. Actually, my husband later told me that he considered taking his walker, which means he was really feeling that fall, because there are few things on this earth he hates like he hates his walker.

     By the time I left work and got over to the hospital, made my way through the maze of unfamiliar hallways and into his room, the nurse was just unhooking his IV. Can I time an entrance or what? It was vaguely uncomfortable, because my husband and I were making our usual inappropriate jokes about his situation and the nurse was giving me some serious sideways looks, but I didn't really give too much of a damn. It makes us feel better about what's happening and it's our semi-twisted way of coping, so I figure it's all okay in the end.

     He was in no shape to walk all the way back to the parking garage where I'd left the car, so I set off on what felt like an epic trek to get back to the car and bring it to him. I eventually succeeded, though I did drive right by him once without even realizing it. (Though in my defense, if you're going to wait outside for someone to pick you up, try waiting OUTSIDE.) Small details, people, small details.

     See? Nothing so very exciting around here, though I do have some things that have been burning at the back of my brain. They'll work their way out in time, I'm sure, as they always do. I have to get steadier on my feet, though, before I can get into the deep end of everything. It's pretty crowded right now, and sharp, with ideas and emotions fighting for position because they can see the crack of light which means freedom. Even though it's not a door I deliberately closed, it's been closed nonetheless for weeks now and that push to get out has been gaining momentum. I think I'd better get out of my own way and just let it run.

     

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Catch-Hell Blues

 Confession of the day: I haven't had a regular doctor since I had a pediatrician. This fact never ceases to drive my husband absolutely up the wall, as he's big on visiting the doctor and regular check-ups, for obvious reasons. He's been on my case to find a primary care physician since around the time we got engaged, when he somehow decided he was semi-responsible for keeping me healthy. I have not made finding one even close to a priority, because I, like the vast majority of the population, enjoy relatively good health. I don't get sick often and when I do, I usually just medicate myself with whatever my mom tells me to pick up from the pharmacy. Failing that, I've been known to make a trip to the nearest urgent care facility. This methodology hasn't failed me yet.

     That said, I finally gave in last week and accompanied my husband to his doctor's visit to have his INR tested. He goes in at least once a month, sometimes more if something feels off, and the office staff already knows him, despite his only being a patient there for maybe six months. My husband insisted that I go with him so that he could introduce me to his physician and see if I wanted to make him my physician as well. As it turns out, I liked him very much and he was accepting new patients, so I signed up for my first physical since my ill-advised attempt at running track in seventh grade.

      While we were in the exam room, waiting for the doctor to come in, the nurse who had taken my husband's vitals and confirmed his current medications asked if he had any questions that he wanted the doctor to address. My husband had a less-than-pleasant experience the last time he had to go to the emergency room and he's been having a similar problem at his current pain-management doctor's office. It's a deep enough issue that I'm okay with saying it warrants an entirely separate entry, so I'll spare you the details just now, but it was something that my husband and I both thought important enough to bring to his doctor's attention.

     Truthfully, though, we were both so hesitant to actually bring it up, because we both know how much bitching doctors and nurses have to put up with on a regular basis from patients who either haven't the first clue what they're talking about or have WebMD'd the hell out of whatever it is that they're seeking medical treatment for in the first place. My best friend and his wife are both pediatric nurses and I've heard my fair share of stories about well-meaning, but utterly clueless parents who really just get in the way. During my many, many trips to the emergency room with my husband, I've overheard countless doctors and nurses trying to explain to the patients and their family members why they're doing what they're doing, even though they don't really have time to play 20 Questions.

     Let me be clear - I certainly don't expect people to just nod their head in assent to whatever the doctor tells them to do or medicate themselves with. God knows, they're not all-knowing and they make mistakes, though with potentially more dire consequences than when you or I make a bad judgment call at work. What I am saying is that the vast, VAST majority of people do not know enough about what's going on with their bodies or treatment to be able to reasonably question what's going on. These medical professionals have had years of training, both in school and on the job and they generally do a damn fine job.

     Of course, everyone is quick to point out this one story they read about how a doctor amputated the wrong leg, or how someone was given Tylenol even though they had a known acetaminophen allergy. Yes, I'm aware, badness happens. And yes, as I mentioned before, when a doctor makes a mistake, it could potentially be fatal and so the margin of error is much, much slimmer than the one most people operate with. Truthfully, I believe that's a risk that someone assumes when they choose to go into the medical field, but that's neither here nor there. (See how quickly I can go off-topic?) As I was saying...

     My husband had some concerns that he wanted to discuss with his doctor about the treatment plan (or lack thereof) that his pain-management doctor had put into place, but he was so hesitant to do even that. He's spent so much of his life in and out of hospitals and doctors' offices and even though I haven't experienced that aspect of the medical profession as extensively as he has, my mother has worked in the medical field for most of my life and I've seen enough to know that for every arrogant doctor who thinks he knows everything, there are seventy-five others who just want to help people. Nurses are kind of the unsung heroes of the situation and I feel for them, too. My husband and I both have a pretty deep respect for the medical profession and so it was a delicate situation in that exam room.

     His doctor is awesome and wasn't in least offended at the questions posed, just explained what he thought was going on with the situation we'd discussed and said he'd be happy to refer my husband to a new pain guy if he'd like to see someone else. My husband made sure to convey to him that he really wasn't trying to be a pain in the ass and nor did he think that the doctor in any way didn't know what he was doing; it was just that he wanted to see if someone else might have a better, more proactive treatment plan than the one his current doctor seemed content to be following.

     So we walked out of there with an appointment for me, a referral for my husband and a sincere hope that we hadn't inadvertently become those patients, the ones who question everything and hop doctors like there's no tomorrow, searching for the magician who can make every hurt go away before it begins to ache. That guy doesn't exist and I pity the ones who think he does. Instead of searching for what can't be found, a better plan might be to be thankful for what you've got and ease up on giving hell to those who are, by and large, only trying to help. 

One of These Nights

It's been more than a month since I last wrote anything and I feel that it's getting harder and harder to get my thoughts out of my head. Old issues are starting to fester and become infected, new issues are popping up with an unpleasant amount of frequency. Last week? First trip to the emergency room in three months and it was one of the most frustrating trips I've yet experienced. Week before that? My husband went to the grocery store by himself while I was at work, crouched down to look at something on a lower shelf, blacked out and fell into it. Neat.

     I'm also discovering that my homesickness and growing sense of isolation is making me a less than great partner at the moment. I hate admitting that, because I always want to try harder and harder to be what my husband needs, to be that perfect support. It just feels like it's becoming more and more an unreachable standard, because I'm getting so wrapped up in my own shit that I just don't have anything left over. And let me tell you, living with something like Marfan's Syndrome takes a hell of a lot of extra on any given day.

     While I try to get that ugliness to fall in line long enough to march its sorry ass out of my head, let me at least relate what happened in the ER last week.

     It was by far the worst experience I've had in all my trips to the ER with my husband, and I say that as someone who is a native of St. Louis, where the emergency rooms can very closely resemble a tiny war zone. It was so bad, I found myself wishing for nothing more than to be magically transported back to the barely-contained chaos of our home hospital. At least there, the nurses knew my husband by sight, got him in quickly and knew that I was well-versed in his care, enough so that they'd ask me for a rundown of his meds and medical history when he was in too much pain to be of much use.

     So last Tuesday, my husband got off work a bit early and by the time he made it home, he could barely walk. He reached the point quite some time ago where he decided the ER visits were, in all honestly, pretty much a waste of time and money because the relief they provided was fleeting and no one really knew what to do for him anyway. I mean, it's been more than a year now since the ER doctor told him, as nicely as possible, that they simply didn't know what to do for him. They had no effective treatments and only the vaguest suggestions.

     Neither my husband nor I blame them at all for that; if anything, it's quite the opposite. We both know the score, that he's got something that many doctors don't see in their careers and to further complicate matters, my husband belongs to the first class of kids to have survived this long with a case of Marfan's as severe as it is. That's what my research and the few doctors I've discussed it with tell me, anyway. The doctors are (for the most part) working the best they can with the little they've got. It's nobody's fault, you see, when there's nothing to do but wait and see what breaks next.

     In any case, when my husband asked me to please take him to the hospital, I knew it was bad. He sees a pain-management doctor now and the methadone plus hydromorphone regiment that he's currently following usually works pretty well, but something must have just gone wrong, because he was not only damn-near immobile, but also slightly worried that he was experiencing spontaneous pneumothorax, which has happened to him on two occasions and which those with Marfan's are prone to.

     So we loaded him in the car and away we went. Even though we've been to the ER here in Charlotte before and I was pleased with the service and the level of care my husband received, we decided to try the other big hospital in town, because that's the one his pain-management doctor is associated with and it would make it easier for that office to pull my husband's medical records from the visit, should they need to. Next time, they're just going to have to deal with contacting the other emergency room to get the records, because like hell I'll ever go back to that place.

     It was so damned dark when we pulled up to the emergency room entrance, I thought the place was abandoned at first. Maybe that's because I watch too many horror movies, but seriously, it was bad news all day. There just happened to be a very kind maintenance man outside who saw me pull up and watched my husband struggle to get out of the car. Before I could put it in neutral and set the parking brake, the man had run inside for a wheelchair and said he'd take my husband inside to get him signed in. I thanked him profusely and then went to find a parking spot.

      Why Michael Myers wasn't waiting in the darkness of that parking lot to murder me on the spot, I don't know, because it was sure as hell a place where things like that happen. I mean, there was not a single light in the lot and the staircase to get back up to the ER was so dark and steep that the wonderful maintenance man had come back outside to wait for me and make sure I made it safely inside. In his words, "You never know who could be waiting down there." Fucking excellent.

     The wait wasn't too bad at all, though it was more than frustrating to watch my husband try and explain what was going on to the various medical personnel again and again with little to no comprehension on their part. Finally, when it became too painful for him to continue telling the story ad nauseum, I jumped in and explained exactly what was happening and why. I also spit out his medical history, because for some reason, the person taking his vitals was having the most difficult time understanding why he was in such pain. (Um, perhaps the 26-inch scar down his spine tells part of the story? No, just gonna ignore that? Okay, then.)

     It was almost two hours before anyone gave him anything for pain, because they were still trying to figure out what the hell was going on. Normally, both my husband and I have a degree of tolerance for that. There's no way every doctor can know everything about every case that walks in the front door, and this holds especially true for emergency room doctors, who have to face all manner of wonky injuries and strange illnesses on a regular basis. However, when it's already into hour 2 and they're still trying to get their heads around the fairly simply concept of so-much-pain-he-can't-breathe, I tend to start edging towards livid.

     Even then, even with the love of my life lying on a narrow hospital bed with his knees pulled up in a futile effort to try and alleviate some of the nearly-unbearable pressure on his spine, I was still able to keep my cool. That ability was tested in ways I never thought possible when the doctor who would be treating him walked in the room and proceeded to act as though I wasn't even there.

     Lest anyone think I'm trying to make this about me, let me explain something I've learned during my time spent in the hospital with my husband. When it comes to describing what's going on, typically the patient has to be the one to do that. I can't express what my husband's feeling, for obvious reasons. However, when it's a scenario like this, one which has played out a hundred times before for us, I have a pretty damn good idea of what's going on. In this case, stabbing, knife-like pain in the middle of his back and a dull, throbbing pain in the lower back, likely brought on by his dural ectasia. Also? Since he's not really feeling verbose at the moment, what with the trying to breathe through the pain and all, I'm probably your best resource for a run down of what meds he's on and at what dosage.

      So when that doctor walked in and started asking stupid questions like, "So, what are you on coumadin for?", my eyelid started to twitch. Excuse me, did you even read his chart? He's got a goddamn titanium aortic valve, what do you think he's on coumadin for? As she continued the barrage of similarly stupid questions, all the while ignoring me, she grabbed my husband's ankles and pulled his legs down straight on the bed, either not noticing or caring that he cried out in pain as soon as she did so. I had absolutely no idea I possessed that much self-control. So, hey, go me.

     Two and a half hours into our latest misadventure, the nurse finally brought in a dose of hydromorphone to be administered via IV. This brought his pain levels down to the point where he could at least talk to me and after two more doses, we knew it was time to go home, that there was nothing else that could be done for him. The doctor agreed, came in and signed his discharge papers (all the while talking over me when I tried to ask about his INR being at 5.8), and sent him on his way. All in all, a pointless endeavor that served no purpose other than to educate us on that particular ER and its stunning lack of anything that would ever compel us to go there again.

     Oh. Okay, now I feel a bit better. Apparently, I can still relate events as they happen, I'm just struggling with the more abstract things, like my thoughts and feelings on several issues that are floating around our house. So, once I can get my IP address nightmare straightened out, maybe I can find my rhythm again. Maybe it'll calm things down long enough to be able to get the thoughts somewhat corralled into the corners, where I can force them to give me a break long enough to be able to get some solid ground under me. Or something like that.

Paranoid

 My first year of college, I took an introductory debate class. I signed up for it for no other reason than the fact that I like to argue and it seemed like it would be easy enough to pass. I doubt very seriously that I would've chosen that class had I realized that the final wasn't so much a test as it was mandatory participation in the parliamentary debate tournament being held at the end of the semester at a neighboring university. I was barely eighteen and unsure of myself, mostly, except for when it came to running my mouth. That? That I could do with wild abandon and I was apparently quite good at it, as I walked away that night with the trophy for First Place Team, Novice and First Place Speaker, Individual. Who knew?

     So now I find myself becoming increasingly frustrated with my lack of ability to get the right words to come out at the right time and the wrong ones to stay the hell in my head, where they belong. It is, I'm come to realize, a nasty side effect of living with the stress of my husband's disorder and its ensuing adventures. We try so hard every damn day, my husband and I, to figure out just the right place in our lives for the Marfan's, just the right amount of import to assign to it. We've thus far been ridiculously unsuccessful.

     Perfect example? I went to my first North Carolina social event by myself this past Sunday, a Superbowl party. Despite the fact that it was populated by people I knew, or at least had met before, I was nervous. Not because I didn't want to go; I did. My husband had to work that evening, but Adam had called earlier in the day and asked if we'd come, so I said I'd go by myself. Adam's parents, whom I like very much, were hosting, plus I hadn't seen him or Carrie in a couple of weeks and I wanted to. I was happy all afternoon, excited, as I finished up the household chores I was working on and got ready to go. I was even fine on the drive from my house to Adam's parents', despite the fact that I had only the vaguest idea of where I was going. By the time I actually walked in the front door, though, it was a different story.

     There weren't a ton of people inside, and only about half of them were new faces to me. I should've been calm, and honestly, it didn't take too long for me to get to that state of being, to relax and enjoy my friends. The first little bit, though, was anything but comfortable. I think Carrie noticed something was off, because she asked me if I was okay and stayed with me, just catching up, until I felt comfortable enough to move around a bit. At the time, I thought it was just nerves from driving in an unfamiliar area and I told her so, that it would pass. Navigational adventures always have a tendency to trip me out, and I'm still not entirely sure that my unfamiliarity with the territory wasn't part of the shakiness. After a long-ass conversation the other night with my husband brought some things to light, though, I'm afraid it might be a little more than that.

     I think part of the reason I was anxious was because I had no idea what to say about my husband, if anything. I didn't know who knew what and whether or not anyone would ask me questions. Truthfully, I never mind if someone does ask a question, because I'm pretty sure it comes from a place of genuine interest and concern. My issue, though, is that I'm suddenly paranoid that I'm talking too much. For someone who prides herself on her way with words, to be suddenly unsure of your footing in the area which was always safest and surest is a terrifying feeling.

     How long this fear has been festering at the back of my mind is anyone's guess. I talk a lot anyway, but when I'm not entirely comfortable, it's like a damned army of words, coming at you with no end in sight. (This is not to be confused with what happens when I am entirely comfortable around someone, which looks like a very similar phenomenon to the untrained eye. Hang around me long enough, you'll be able to tell the difference.) I just want so badly to find a place for my husband's disorder in our everyday, and I can't find it. Walking that line between making it a mundane thing, like the way someone else might discuss painting their bedroom a different color, and giving it more weight, something that I need to give a quick status report on, is rapidly becoming one of the hardest things I've yet attempted.

     It happens at work, too, and it's much worse there, the paranoia that I've said the wrong thing, said too much. About a month after I started, a disabled gentleman came in and I assisted him. It was a longer process than it is with someone who's able-bodied, but he was great, very polite, and knew exactly what he wanted, which always makes the transactions go more smoothly. At the end of the transaction, I came around the counter, tucked his purchase in his jacket pocket for him and opened the door so that he could wait outside for his transport. When I came back in, my supervisor complimented me on how nicely the interaction had gone. Without thinking, I said, "Well, my husband is disabled, so.." and shrugged.

     Immediately, I wanted to take it back, the revelation that my husband wasn't quite healthy. What if my co-workers were now thinking, "Why did she say that? What does that have to do with anything?" A non-neurotic person would probably not have jumped to that particular what-if, but I'm actually a lot neurotic and the added stress of a third, very unwelcome entity in my marriage has slowly been preying on that weakness, apparently. How I haven't realized it before now is beyond me, but even my busy brain can't cover all the bases and potential bases all the time.

     While we're being completely honest here, I might as well go ahead and admit that I've noticed a tendency to second-guess myself lately after the majority of my social interactions. Was I short and snippy with that person? Was my loving sarcasm lost on this person and they think I'm just being bitchy? Is the worry about my husband's condition today showing through the veneer of smart-assery and rapid-fire talking? I can't get out of my head lately and where once I thought it was just because I'm a stranger in a strange land who simply needed time to adjust, I'm now fairly certain that a good amount of what I'm feeling is due to this razor-wire tightrope I keep trying to walk.

     I think, when all is said and done, I'm going to have to just push through, like always. I will never not live in my head, I will never not be neurotic. It's as sure a part of life as death and taxes, if I may be so cliche. Like everything else I ramble about on this blog, it's going to be something that I'm going to have to learn to work with so it doesn't keep working against me. I think I want to open up to my husband more about this and try really hard to not just journal it to death, maybe getting somewhere, maybe not. Journaling's kind of my thing, my safe place to work it all out, but this time I fail to see how burying myself with pen and paper is going to help me learn to interact with people on a less anxiety-inducing level.

Too Much

I have this journal with a plain black cover that I carry around with me everywhere. This is in addition to the regular journal I carry with me, the one I use to keep my brains from leaking out my ears at inopportune times. The black one was given to me by a friend and instead of using it as a traditional journal, I decided to utilize it as a place to keep all the potential blog entries that run across my brain all day. I've pulled it out in the middle of coffee shops, at work, while I'm in the car with my husband, while at the grocery store, and anywhere else I might have been. I check the entries off as I post them , so I know I'm covered that particular topic or thought, as I don't want to be redundant. Well, not too redundant, as there are topics which require more than one visit. It's an altogether useful-as-hell little book, so why cannot I not just pick it up, pick an entry and fucking go?

     As is often the case when I step away for too long, I've let things pile up inside and I'm having a hard time sorting through the debris. While Charlotte is becoming more and more enjoyable and we're certainly not sorry to be here, it's so far not quite the promised land that we were looking for. Medical bills keep rolling in, blowing my budget all to hell. I finally got tired of running in circles, trying to make pieces fit when I had no idea what the completed picture should look like, so I asked for help. I think it's going to be one of the bigger weights lifted from our shoulders when all is said and done, because I have every hope that my father-in-law will be able to draw a clear picture of what we're working toward and a map to get there. He's a good guy, my father-in-law.

     That's about the only thing I can pick out from the rubble of my head, though. I mean, at any given time, there are approximately 3,265 thoughts all fighting to be given priority, but it seems like the fights have grown louder lately. Mostly I'm trying to figure out what to do about my husband's disorder at this point and it's not going well. Neither of us has any idea what happens next and we're not finding much assistance in the medical community. He wants to explore other pain-management options besides the methadone-and-Dilaudid dance, but finding a pain management doctor who's willing to entertain ideas that stray from the tried-and-true pills is proving more difficult than we thought. Then again, the last time we disregarded the box, my husband ended up in the back of an ambulance, on his way to the hospital to be treated for a mini-stroke. So...make nice with the narcotics, or make with the science experiments and hope like hell the gamble pays off?

     That's it, that's all I've got. Well, that's what I've got that's semi-cohesive and readable. There's more (isn't there always?) and I'm sure I'll get it straightened out enough in the coming days that I can sit down and start sifting through to see if there's anything useful to be had.

Don't Give Up On Me Now

  I know. I've been M.I.A for almost a month now and even though there aren't very many of you who have noticed the absence, those of you that have are so much appreciated that I feel it necessary to update you a bit. I'm still here, my husband still has Marfan's and it's still a bitch and a half; that's basically the long and short of it. I started a new job last month, so that's been occupying a lot of the space in my head, as has trying to get settled here in the CLT. (That would be Charlotte, NC, for those of you not as hip as I. And please tell me you can hear the sarcasm in that statement...) It's a much slower process than I ever anticipated, but I think I'm getting there.

     My husband's bestie Adam and his girlfriend, Carrie, have been a huge part of the reason I'm doing okay with all the newness and for that, I'm beyond grateful. They make up the largest part of the solid ground I'm trying to stand on here, hundreds of miles away from everything I've known thus far. My in-laws are here, too, and I'm a lucky girl in that I don't have anything close to the stereotypical awkwardly tense relationship with them that seems to be the norm in every rom-com ever produced. I'm actually enjoying getting to know them better and I find myself occasionally wishing I knew how to navigate from my house to theirs, just to hang out for awhile in a place that feels like family. I'm sure, sooner or later, I'll figure out which roads lead where and just gift them with my presence from time to time.

     I'm settling in, I think. It's still kind of odd to be in a place where few people know the situation regarding my husband's health because I feel as though we have to start all over again. My new employer, for example, knows nothing of my husband's disorder and all the far-reaching complications that come with it. It makes it difficult when it comes to his various hospitalizations, to be sure. I've only been there two months and so far, that's not been a bridge that I've had to cross. I know the day is coming, though, when I'm going to have to go into my boss's office and explain what's going on, why I need to leave work early or trade shifts with someone so that I can have the next day off. It's not a conversation I look forward to having.

     I don't want to focus on what's down the road right now, not when there's so much that I need to concentrate on right in front of me. I can feel how unsettled I still am and that needs to be calmed before I can adequately tackle the bigger issues. I know I haven't been posting here, but I've been journaling in my paper journal like a fiend and that's a sure sign that something's not right within me. I always go to my little book when I can't calm what's raging inside, pushing at my edges until they're ragged. I'm hoping that I can use this outlet to once again smooth the edges back down, like I used to.

     My sister and I were kind of discussing this while I was home for Christmas a couple of days ago, the move and how my husband and I were doing with it all. Over the course of the conversation, we came up with a theory about the supposed Mayan apocalypse. According to every website everywhere, the world was supposed to end on December 21, 2012, as that's when the Mayan calendar ended. Or something. I'm not an historian, an archaeologist, or anything else that might actually enable me to have the first clue as to what the Mayans did or did not do to cause such an uproar. There was that John Cusack movie that said it was the endtimes, though, so we'll go with it. Lizzie and I came to the conclusion, though, that while the Mayans may have predicted the end of the world, what got lost in translation was that they weren't speaking on a global scale at all.

     Lizzie's world ended, in a very real way, this past summer when she and the only boy she'd ever loved parted ways. She's still not okay from the breaking apart of something so precious; I don't know that she will be for a very long time. My husband's world started the slow descent last winter and got steadily worse as the months went by. His may not have ended as solidly as I feel mine did, but it's forever changed, no doubt. Mine? Mine flat-out ended.

     Sigh. That sounds a bit overdramatic, even if it is accurate. Circumstances beyond my control forced a changing of the tide and I had to start over, building from the ground up in more than one way. I never planned for it, never pictured myself living anywhere this far from my family and friends. The job that I'd held and loved for the better part of a decade is gone and the fact that I left on great terms and can go back to visit whenever I want is small consolation when those familiar faces are no longer the ones that keep me company during my workday. It just doesn't feel like anything is the way it's supposed to be.

     Then again, what do I know about what's "supposed" to be? Maybe this is part of the grand scheme of things and we're right on track. As I mentioned before, there are some seriously bright spots in my life at the moment. Loving friends, a good relationship with my in-laws and a full-time gig that I landed a mere two weeks after rolling into town. Those are all really good things, things that make a difficult time much more manageable. I've still got dark spots, though, places that I have to build back up from the wreck of what was. I think that's something that my husband and I both have to face.