Saturday, January 15, 2011


It’s wonderful to be rid of the extra fifty percent boost of Effexor that my body “was unable to tolerate.” The latter is shorthand for constant shakes, crawling out of my skin, and magnified fear. No, I wasn’t able to “tolerate” that.

After the initial euphoria wore off as the dose was reduced back to where it did me some good, I’m still stuck with the problem that made my psychopharmacologist raise it to begin with. I’m sad again. No, sad is normal. Unpleasant, perhaps, but a normal human feeling. No, I’m talking about nagging depression. We’ve stabbed and shot at it with poison arrows (with all the psychotropics in my “If depressed, please open and follow directions” satchel) but the damned beast refuses to die.

Now what? Beats me.

I’ve recently switched bronchial dilators. New drugs that are delivered three times a day from a nebulizer. Bless my allergist. He guessed right. (“Guessed” because the diagnosis was done over the phone.) I was suffering coughing spasms. The new coughing “pearl” I’ve been taking seems to be working. Very few coughing jags. Cepacol seems to handle the rest.

Rachel, my sterling masseuse said I had the best massage yet meaning I opened completely allowing her to work. I’ve never done that before. Opened up like that. Like a cooked clam. Duh. Of course I feel like shit. What’s beneath all the layers she had to go through except pain, depression, and anger. I most definitely am keeping the duck and the uber-Scandinavian for Journey to the Center of the Earth: The Final Mission. I’ll be wanting company confronting those demons all by myself.

I had an idea as I lay on the table. Rachel: masseuse by day, Iron Hands by night. She’d make a great superhero. I need to find the right roles for Tamar, the best P.T. on the planet, and Laurie, the magnificent chiropractor. Rachel was completely down with it. I’ll tell Tamar tomorrow when I see her. It’s great to have characters while lacking any sort of storyline. Just like the grand old days of the Internet boom when venture capitalists threw money at anything with the name internet in its title workable business plan or no. I could certainly understand if someone found my writing tedious and Since When so bad that the agents have to stop giggling when they each send me a uniform, Thanks, but no thanks.” But no one can ever accuse me that my characters are filled with air and nothing more. Well sure, anyone could say this, but I’m completely confident they’re wrong. But I actually believe, especially with the guiding hand of Rich (who put me in his end-of-year letter! I’ve never made it to one before! Thank you! You are just plain remarkable, young man) it is pretty well written. So there.

But why the hell can’t anyone stop my nose from constantly running like a fucking faucet? I’m told allergy shots are too dangerous for one with such crapola lungs. Oh yeah, I can use Spireva with its clever “drying agent.” Perfect, no? Yes, if you prefer mucous the texture of glue and stuck to your throat and vocal chords and rib-breaking coughs (no kidding) to try and move it from where it has decided to rest in my innards like in a hammock, most likely. Who wouldn’t? (Will I ever see a hammock again? In life, photos, I’ve got.)

I recall a year or so ago complaining that I felt like shit all the time. And what I was told by those close to me, “Hey, you don’t know how you’ll feel in a year.” That was meant to give me hope. Because in a year, how could things not be better? I don’t have a degenerative disease, I exercise every day and am assuming no upper respiratory nonsense is percolating, why shouldn’t I feel a little better?

No, no sweethearts. This disease doesn’t work like that. I haven’t found any logic in it. Nor has anyone with a medical degree. Damn it all. I don’t feel worse than I did a year ago, but I feel no better. No one is telling me I’ll feel better anymore. No one is saying, “You never know how you might feel a year from now” to boost my spirits. God help us if it’s otherwise. But I have been asked to hold on, because a stem cell therapy is in the offing. (Have the researchers moved past small mammals yet?) I suppose I should be heartened that the stem cell community has graduated to mammals, period.

I’m still so damned exhausted that I can’t get up in the morning. The books I read are fat. (This Lindbergh bio I’m in the midst of is fascinating. I’m getting to the anti-Semitic part; I’m champing at the bit.) I have my doll to make. She’s a big job. I can’t just curl up with it and sew away happily with thread and a blanket stitch and ponder her dress where I’ll have to fucking sew the pretty details with yarn. (Yes, yarn again. At least this time I know what I’m in for.)

Why do I care? I care because it was a project meant for me and Mom to do together. I need to make the dolls in the kits she bought for the two of us 1972ish. To be honest, when I looked at the instructions all those years ago, I’m sure I blanched. That’s why the two kits have sat undisturbed in the same place for all these years. They made the move to Manhattan one box atop the other. I knew exactly where they lived. Still untouched but not given up for dead. She (my ‘Indian Princess”) must be made and made beautifully (if I have to stand on my head) along with her buddy “Katrina, the little Dutch girl.”

My mother is 87. She looks great. She’s healthy. I feel compelled to make those two dolls right now. This very moment. Five minutes ago. Their “births” are completely intertwined with Ma. Since When is really her story. Sure I tell the stories of her Hungarian aunts and uncles, but the backbone of the book is the story of my mother at age six-and-a half year wrested (it sure felt that way to her) from a life she loved, from, her magical (it was) home in rural Czechoslovakia to the Brooklyn of 1930. I found as I interviewed her for hours upon hours, I could finally admit to myself how very much alike we are. (You all know of a time in your collective lives when the last thing you wanted to do was to resemble a parent, any parent. True?) Hell, you all may have avoided this interviewing process I went through to get there, (which was loads of fun by the way). Now I’m more than okay with it. No. I love being a part of her.

I know Mom so desperately wants me to live. (And yes, she has said to me, “I wanted so much more for you.” Me too Ma.) She wants me more than alive. I know she sure has no intention of outliving me. For Mom, and for all mothers, I must keep on, because I can’t imagine anything worse than having your children predecease you . Mom. I will not do that to you but you realize, I can’t possibly imagine life without you.

(I’m not shortchanging Dads. The same goes for all of you.) My Dad died at age sixty in 1982. I never had the chance to scare the shit out of him as I scared Mom, Chip, and Doug-every day for eight-weeks plus that I was in danger of waking up dead.*) So I have to live. For Mom, for all of them. And my doll babies have to grow up now. From those intimidating patterns and folds of felt to cuddly, sweet smiling girls just like on the box. As a gift. To Mom. To me. To fill every promise I ever made to anyone and didn’t come through. (These little girls are carrying one heavy load.)

Oh, how much fun would we have had making those two together back in 1972!

Promise me something. Never put anything off what you want to do in life ever. All there is is now. And my regrets.

*I’ve always wanted to use “wake up dead.” I find that expression kicks ass. I can die happy. Or maybe ”happier.”

1 comment:

  1. What can I say. With my MIL on a vent for the past week, I've been learning how hard to diagnose/treat/manage respiratory crises can be.

    Glad they reduced yr Effexor. My mom (who's now 84 and in a nursing home) had a similar reaction to her Alzheimer's medication at first. Had to lower the dose.

    I'm eating Lexapro like Pez these days. Depression is like an old drinking pal. We have our talks, he and I. Sometimes we arm wrestle. But he cheats.

    Thanks for blogging all this, Fran, for sharing what's going on with you.

    PS - At first I thought you said Limbaugh Bio (not Lindbergh), and thought, "Jeez no wonder she's depressed."