Tuesday, February 28, 2012

In and out

I remember seeing pictures of people in iron lungs. I always thought they looked like some kind of torture device. Rows and rows of poor sick people laying around, trapped in a metal tubes to prevent them from dying.

But, actually, an iron lung is a good thing. An amazing thing. When disease has ravaged a patient's muscles and the diaphragm is no longer strong enough to expand the rib cage and force the lungs to draw in air, this machine does that for them. It helps strengthen weakness when there just isn't anything left to give.

For me, grief is a similar condition of the soul. It can eat away until it feels that taking a carefree breath is next to impossible. When in it's throws, I desperately yearn for there to be something or someone who can just take over for a little bit. Prop me up. Move my feet. Help me move through my normal routine without having to exert the monumental effort it takes to accomplish the mundane tasks on the to-do list.

Lucky, for me, I have that in amazing friends and family.

Admittedly, my experiences with grief have been minuscule compared to some people's. I have not had to personally deal with serious levels of tragedy that change a person. I would never compare what I have been through to serious personal crisis and would never assume to be able to fully comprehend, offer them advice, or attempt to give any kind of critique.

But for me, on my small scale, there is a small part of me that is grateful to have had my crises. Because they give me compassion...and empathy. Because as horrible as it is to be the patient inside the device it is an unbelievably humbling opportunity to be the iron lung for someone you love. To be there when someone else needs help. To be there to do the dishes, cycle the laundry, make the dinner, or have the shoulder of your shirt used as a towel to soak up tears.

Friday, February 24, 2012

How my family operates

If someone in my family has a question or concern we don't turn to wikipedia to find the answer.

For instance:

2 days ago my sister called me to ask what dragon's name was from the movie Pete's dragon instead of looking it up. Her 4 year old daughter remembered that we own the movie and was sure we would know they name. (BTW...his name is Elliot)

My husband is currently filling out a grant application and a lot of questions are interview-y types (ie "what is the  hardest decision you've had to make" or  "where do you see yourself in 5 years"). Instead of relying on only his own ideas we decided to call both his dad (he's been the head of HR in all different companies for years) and my mom (a trained saleswoman who has both given and taken hundreds of interviews in her career)

When my cousin had a concern that her 2 year old son wasn't speaking very many words yet, did I send her some links to some information on the internet? No. I instantly offered my husband's knowledge of child language acquisition and development gained over these last 8 years of graduate study.

I have to admit, when I hurt my shoulder after my ATV accident last spring I did hop over to WebMD to find what could be the potential worst case scenario for the injury. However, I wasn't satisfied with their answers so I called my almost-med-school-graduated brother-in-law for a doctor's exam via skype.

When I wondered why my fingers got so sticky after chopping garlic did I turn to the internet? Nope...my food scientist sister held all the answers I could ever need.

And remember when our garbage disposal broke a few weeks ago? The first call was to my dad to see what he thought was going on...not to youtube to research videos of how to fix it.

Is everyone else's family like this?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What a fool

Last night the ear doctor and I went to dinner at our favorite little Italian place that is 3 blocks from our house.

We go there at least once a week. Their gnocchi is my absolute favorite.

When we were sitting at our table finishing up our dinner a large group of people all came in at once. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed something different about all these people. They had, what I thought, was large dark birthmarks in the middle of their foreheads.

I thought to myself, “well, that’s different” and kept eating.

The group took their seats and I leaned over to the ear doctor and whispered, “Did you see that family that all have a large dark birthmark on their forehead?”

He looked at me like I was the idiot that I AM and replied, “ummm, it’s Ash Wednesday.”

It wasn’t a birthmark, it was ash and they weren’t an abnormally large family, but a group of people who had just left the Catholic church across the street.

I haven’t felt like that big of an idiot in a LOOOOOOOOOOOOONG time. It’s a good thing I have the ear doctor around to keep me in check.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


This morning as we were laying in bed blinking sleep from our eyes we heard the ear doctor’s phone buzz. He reached over to check it out and realized that his friend had texted him to tell him that he’d emailed him.

All of which were received at the exact same moment on his smartphone.

I stumbled off to the bathroom and 15 minutes later, post shower I came out to see my husband’s eyes glowing with excitement.

Turns out two of his friend had already bought them (keep in mind it was 6:38 AM, and the deal was brand new that morning) just bought a deal. 20 rounds of golf plus 7 lessons with a pro for $195 and he wanted the ear doctor to buy one too. That way the three of them could spend their summer afternoons together basking in the Colorado sun and buying overpriced soda from the beer cart girl.

He turned to me and started explaining the deal, but I stopped him mid-description and said, “Yes…let’s buy it”

I think he was a little taken aback by my zero hesitation response.

Little did he know that two weeks earlier the exact same deal had popped up on Groupon. When it did, the wives of the golfers in question came together and decided to buy the deal as a surprise gift for our guys 2 minutes after we found that all the groupons had sold out.

After whipping out the ole credit card and sending the voucher his way my man was BEAMING. The look in his eyes and the excitement radiating from his soul reminded me of that old StoveTop stuffing commercial. The one where the two 10 year olds think they’re tricking their moms by inviting each other to dinner at the other’s house….one at 6 pm the other at 8.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Weekend pro

Why is it that things only go wrong in our house when we're expecting visitors?

Last time my sister came to visit our water heater broke the day before they were supposed to arrive. $500 and a visit from a repair man later it was fixed and we were ready.

Friday night the ear doctor was finished up the dishes and noticed a puddle forming at his feet. He opened the sink cabinet doors and there was water sprayed all over the inside. We flipped the disposal on and were showered with water spraying from a crack in the side of the disposal unit. And we were hosting friends for dinner the next night.

Luckily I married a man who wasn't even phased. Saturday morning he disconnected the whole thing and took it to home depot. Turns out the one we had installed was a crappy Badger1 that people usually put in flipped homes (although ours wasn't flipped). We decided to upgrade to the Badger9.

Yes, we are high rollers.

He had it back and installed in place within an hour.

And I only forgot that there was nothing hooked to the bottom of the sink and turned on the faucet full blast once while he was gone...which in my book is pretty good.