Monday, November 29, 2010

A lifeline

For most of the day yesterday, I’d been dealing with chest pain. I didn’t say anything about it, thinking it would go away. It was probably just gas build-up in my chest. So I didn’t worry over it so much.

Later, however, the pain became pretty intense. It got to be so bad, I had to lie down. But as I lied there, flat on the bed (I thought if I lied flat, it would help), the pain only worsened. It grew and grew in intensity. It was pretty bad. I was on hat bed, writhing and in tears, as it felt like something was squeezing my heart and growing bigger by the second.

I tried sitting straight up, up against the pillows against the headboard, but that didn’t help. I tried squatting over the side, lying on my right side, standing up against the wall. Nothing. The pain only got worse.

Then something else happened, something I’d been dreading: I could hardly breathe.

At first, my breathing came out in short gasps of air. I tried to keep that air in my lungs but, soon, I could hardly breathe at all.

“Breathe!” I instructed myself. “Breathe! Breathe! Breathe!”

I struggled for air that was quickly disappearing from my lungs. I started to panic and worry over what to do. I’d tried breathing exercises earlier but that didn’t help. And I was running out of air fast.

At one point, I didn’t even have enough air in my lungs to talk anymore.

I lied across the bed, gasping for air. As I did so, I started to remember a time I had gone through a similar episode. I was alone one evening and, all of a sudden, I wasn’t able to breathe anymore. It’s like my lungs had closed up. I’d struggled for air, even going outside to try to get some fresh air. That is where I passed out on the ground. After I woke up from that, I could breathe okay. But what had happened before then is that I had been up in the stars of the night sky. The stars had been so close that I could almost reach out and touch them. That experience had been very frightening. I shuddered as I remembered it, hoping it would not happen again. What if I didn’t wake up this time?

I started to wish someone in my family was there to help me. Millie, Allison, Elizabeth, Jeanette, Melissa, my mom – even my cousin, Carol. A familiar face. Family. I wished so hard that someone in my family was there to help.

But I was alone in this struggle to breathe. Then I realized, no, I’m not alone. I’m not. I could turn to God. And that’s what I did.

With nothing else to help me breathe again, I started to silently pray for help. I just prayed and prayed for air to return to my lungs.

Soon, the pain in my chest lessened and I could breathe again. Thank God! I sat up, breathing normally now, so thankful for this air in my lungs again. I said a prayer of thanks then got up and left the room. I went to the kitchen and drank some water. I went to check on the kids, who were in the bathroom with hubby, having their bath. I told hubby what happened and he told me to sit down. After I did that, the remaining pain in my chest disappeared.

As I sat there, I started to think of what I should have done to get some help. I know I should have run out to get help from my husband, but I didn’t have the strength. A call to 911 might have been in order – but there is no phone in that room. And, anyway, I’m not exactly 100% sure how a deaf person should call 911. I mean, we were taught in high school to dial 911, wait a few moments, then say we are deaf and what the emergency is. I am not sure if that method would be very effective.

Then I thought, what about my cell phone? What if I could text for help? Would I be able to text for help if I was having another episode of being unable to breathe?? It was still better than nothing.

I thought for a few minutes. I had to think about the very few people I know in Eugene who I text. Finally, I decided on one of the moms of Jennifer’s friends. Jen has had a sleepover at her house before and she and I often send text messages here and there. She’s an awesome lady, about my age, and very friendly. So I got my phone and texted her, asking her if she would be willing to call 911 for me if I ever needed that kind of help. When she replied, she said that she would do it and, actually, she even asked one of her girlfriends the same thing. (Is this some kind of network among friends I am unaware of? Hm.) She also said that if we needed somewhere safe to go, we were welcome at her place.

I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked her profusely. Didn’t I say she was awesome?? She rocks! What a huge relief that this is in place, for emergencies.

Now I only hope that that particular kind of emergency doesn’t happen again. This was actually the second time I have had chest pain so bad, but it was not so bad before that I ended up struggling for air. Then again, I had been taken to the ER when I had bad chest pain that lasted for a long time. (They ran all these tests and couldn’t find anything wrong, so they just gave me something for the pain.) This time, even though that latest episode ended, I’ll get it checked out by my doctor. I still have some tightness in my chest this morning, so it might be a good idea to get that checked out.

At least I have someone to reach out to for help if there are any emergencies. Thank goodness for that!

Friday, November 26, 2010

A belated Thanksgiving blog post

(I meant to post this last night but because I burned three of the fingers on my good hand, typing was not something I really wanted to do when I had the chance to type this post out. A phone call to my mom on Internet relay and a few emails were about as much typing as I was able to withstand. Thank goodness for ice packs and Tylenol. On with the blog post!)

Even though I do enjoy cooking and baking, the last time I made a large meal for my family, hardly anyone ate any of it. As it was, hubby didn't touch any of it. He just left to go back to work. That incident left me feeling not-so-excited over the prospect of making yet another Thanksgiving feast for my family. Last year, Millie and Allison visited for Thanksgiving, and the 3 of us scurried around in the kitchen, hard at work on the meal. This year, it was just me again. Another thing I did not look forward to. (It's no fun cooking a big meal by yourself.) So I awoke to Thanksgiving day feeling a little bummed. Add to this I couldn't visit with any family today.

But then after I wished my 3-year-old son a happy Thanksgiving, I asked him, "Do you want a turkey dinner?"

He got this wild look in his eyes. He grabbed his tummy with both hands and licked his lips.

That's a yes if I've ever seen one! So if it was a turkey dinner that my son wanted for Thanksgiving, a turkey dinner he would get!

That determination faded somewhat after hubby told me he was VERY sick. He spent most of the morning in bed. The day before, Jennifer got very sick, too. Her temperature was 102! Fortunately, when she woke up this morning, she was not as sick as before. She only complained of a headache. The baby had been sick with a cold, but on Thanksgiving, he was just as bouncy and mischievous as ever! After an episode of him laughing and tackling me as I sat on the couch with him, I mumbled, "I guess he's starting to feel better now." His congestion had finally cleared up and his runny nose was not as bad as before. Thank goodness that at least the children were well enough to enjoy Thanksgiving!

Still, I kept to my vow to make a big Thanksgiving meal for my family. When Jennifer saw all the things out on the countertop, her eyes widened and she said, "We're going to have a feast!" I laughed and said, "That's the idea."

My determination to make a great Thanksgiving meal was renewed later on. After the children saw the turkey in the oven, they got excited and happily danced around the kitchen.

It turned out that I was not alone in the kitchen cooking the meal after all. I had a helper. Jennifer has told me many times she wants to be a chef and she loves to help me cook and bake things. So she helped with the pumpkin pie and she was my assistant with the other items on the menu. I was certainly grateful for her help! Yet another thing to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. One of these days, who knows? Maybe she'll be making some of the side dishes or pies for Thanksgiving.

At one point, however, I was rushing about trying to get everything ready at the same time. I ended up getting a little distracted. This is where and how I burned my fingers. I grabbed a pan without realizing it had been on a hot burner and screamed as I released it. The kids and hubby came rushing into the kitchen to see me bent over and clasping my hand against my legs. I told them I'd burned my fingers and hubby was all, "Don't scream." Jennifer, however, was more sympathetic and hugged me. She helped me get an ice pack together and, while I was putting everything on the table, I was going back and forth to that ice pack because my fingers hurt so much. I also had to take turns between buttering rolls and soaking my fingers in ice water when we were all at the table. Ditto while I was eating the meal. (Thankfully, when the blessing was said, it was not a long one!)

After we ate, Jen and I were the only ones who had dessert. We sat at the table eating our slices of pie and talking about the day while hubby gave Jesse his bath. Hubby complained that I made too much food. He said, "You made enough for 10 people and there are only 4 of us." I had to smile over this. Old habits and all that. I come from a large family so I am USED to big family dinners and making big meals. And, anyway, we can be thankful for leftovers -- more food to eat for tomorrow!

Later, Jen and I shared what we were thankful for. I told her I was thankful for my children. She said she is thankful for her family.

I also thought on some other things I am thankful for.

I am thankful I got to talk with my mother on the phone. Also thankful that they were able to give a Thanksgiving meal to a family that had nothing for Thanksgiving. I am thankful that my elderly dog has been able to spend yet another Thanksgiving with us (he got extra helpings of turkey this year!). I am thankful for the chance to send ecards to certain people on Thanksgiving. I am thankful for our new home, which, even though it needs some more work (especially the back yard!), is a home that I love and especially love the central air and heating! I am thankful for a car that has a heater, even though lately it has not worked as good as before. (Must get that checked.) I am thankful for the accomplishments I have made so far this year. I am thankful we are able to live comfortably and not go hungry and that we all have a bed to sleep in and nice clothes to wear. I am thankful the children can occasionally hear from their grandparents and relatives. I am thankful for my friends -- both in real life and in cyberspace. I am thankful for the people I have worked with in the writing, editing and publishing industry.

But, most of all, I am thankful for my faith and for God being there to turn to in hard times. For answering my prayers and my concerns in His own way. For the Bible to offer guidance and wisdom. And for the second chance I have been granted in life -- for turning away from the person that I used to be and honoring that promise I made to myself to be a better person and strive to be the best I can be. With God always at my side along the way.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Counting on your fingers

In the adult world, counting on your fingers is supposed to be a sign of less-than-optimal intelligence. But in the deaf and hard-of-hearing world, those who sign use their fingers to show numbers all the time. Just as there are signs for the letters of the alphabet, there are also signs for numbers.

When Jennifer was little, I taught her the alphabet by voice and sign. I would sign and say the letters at the same time. This was repeated when I taught her numbers. We are doing this with Jesse, as well. Just as we sign letters to him, so he knows what the signs are, we also sign how to count on his fingers with each number.

When children use their fingers to count, it usually goes that they would hold up each finger and count to 10 with both hands. But for signing, we only use one hand for all the numbers.

To get an idea of how to sign the numbers with one hand, check out this video:

Anyway, I have been working with him on that. It took some time for him to grasp signing "3" the way it's done in ASL. Holding up the three big fingers for "3" is the same as the letter "W" so, for a signer, we use the middle, index fingers and the thumb for the number "3." (When hubby and I watched the movie Inglorious Basterds, I had to marvel over how a character discovered a spy based on how the bad guy indicated the number "3." He did so using the way the number is signed in ASL. I could only think that a deaf person during that part of history must have been too scared to sign "3" for fear of being accused of being a spy!) But he has finally been able to sign "3" like we do, though occasionally he reverts back to "W" instead. And, for a time, he also forgot the number "4," both verbally and physically (yes, he counted 1-2-3-5 for a while there).

Yesterday, while we were waiting to be called at his doctor appointment, I tried to keep him preoccupied by counting things. He would point at pictures of flowers and count them in each photo. He counted all 10 flowers in one picture. And he counted on his fingers correctly. I praised him and gave him a little cheer for counting to 10 both verbally and physically (the way a signer counts to 10) and he was quite proud of himself. He counted all 10 flowers again before dashing off to study something else in that waiting area.

I am glad he can count to 10 the way a signer does. Now we need to work on getting him to count higher -- both verbally and on just one hand.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"I can't read your lips with that thing in your mouth!"

The plan was to get Jesse off of the pacifier (“binky”) when he turned 3. His third birthday has come and gone…and he is STILL using the binky! But, thankfully, we have managed to get him to understand that binky is for sleep time, not any other time. Of course, he’s so attached to his binky that he STILL tries to use it for every other time of the day. But we have been working with him on that. I just don’t want him to be one of those kids with blistered lips because he’s still sucking on his pacifier when he’s 5 years old.

Certain changes in his life have meant disposing of the binky. For one thing, he has started preschool, so on the days he goes to preschool (two days of the week), I tell him “no binky at school” before we head out the door in the mornings (on weekdays) and he’ll happily spit the pacifier into the sink (I wash them religiously so we have taught him to spit used binkies into the sink).

For another thing, he has gotten pretty talkative now – and I just can’t lipread him when he has the binky in his mouth. I have told him several times, “I can’t read your lips with that thing in your mouth.” Of course, he has continued to try to talk to me with the binky in his mouth. And, for some time, I have been telling him the same thing: “I can’t read your lips with that thing in your mouth!”

He does know some signs, and even as he tries to sign other things, he hasn’t quite mastered it yet. So for things he can’t sign, we rely on lipreading to understand what he is saying.

As often I have tried to get him to understand that I can’t read his lips when he talks to me with the binky, it really never got through to him, because he kept trying to talk to me with that binky in his mouth. I feel that, perhaps, tonight, I have finally made some progress.

After I gave Jesse his bath this evening, I had him on my bed, drying him off. He was trying to talk to me, but he had the binky in his mouth. (I had promised him he could have it back after his bath.) I stopped drying him off, got to his level, and explained in as simple language as I could that I needed to see his mouth when he is talking to me and his dad. I can’t understand him when he talks with the binky in his mouth. Gradually, I coaxed the binky out of his mouth and told him to tell me again what he said. He pointed at his leg then said that he has an owie. (He got a scratch on his leg last week and, ever since, it has been his cross to bear.) I acknowledged his owie and reminded him, as I had before, that it would go away. He got his binky back and I finished toweling him off then dressed him. After we brushed his teeth, he said goodnight to his big sister (who gets to stay up tonight because of no school tomorrow) and I put him to bed.

As I was saying goodnight to him, giving him hugs and kisses and telling him goodnight, he stood still in his crib, looked at me and said something.

“What?” I said. “I can’t read your lips with that thing in your mouth, Jesse.”

I tested his reaction as I gently pulled on the binky. He had no problem letting me remove it from his mouth. "What did you say?" I asked him. He looked at me and said, “I love you.”

I smiled. At least this was something he could sign, even with that thing in his mouth. I told him I love him, too, gave him an extra kiss then gave him back his binky. Then I reminded him that “I love you” is something he could sign. I showed him the sign for “I love you” and he did his best to sign it the normal way, not his way. But it’s close enough, and at least this way I get what he is saying whether or not I can lipread him.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

YOU again!

Sometimes, I can be so forgetful. As it was, I have been to the post office three times this week, for three days in a row. But I had a good reason to be there!

This week, I had a few things to mail: A new book contract for the signatures (yay!), a copy of one of my books I have been invited to have displayed at a book fair being held next month in Kentucky (yay!) and my sister's VERY LATE birthday present (um, yay?). As it turned out, however, I was informed on Monday that Tammie King of Night Owl Reviews shipped me a box on Monday -- BUT I forgot to give her my new address! (We moved in April.) Actually, I forgot that I EVER gave her my mailing address at all, because for a while, I was only reviewing E-books. I have since "graduated" to reviewing print books (yay!) and I was waiting to hear from her about my mailing address. Turns out, I'd given her the old one while I was at the old one. Gah! So I let her know I had a new address and she said she hoped the people at my old address would send the box back. (I didn't hold out much hope for that. When I moved, I made a list of people I had to notify of my new mailing address, but I think I forgot a few. Such as, oh, say, the editor of The WRITERS' Journal, because the magazine my article appears in was sent to my old address and, well, hasn't been accounted for since and they never got it back. They sent me another copy -- thanks, Leon! -- but who knows if that original copy was kept by the new tenants at the old addy.) So, I assured Tammie I'd ask about it at the post office the next day, since I was planning to go there to mail stuff, anyway.

See, that was my plan. But you know what they say: "Man plans and God laughs."

Sooo, I headed to the post office on Tuesday morning. Got the birthday present mailed off.

But I forgot to mail the contract. And the book. And ask about my package!!!!!

Wednesday, I was back at the post office. I mailed the book. Woot! Mailed the contract. Yeah! Buuuut.....I FORGOT TO ASK ABOUT MY PACKAGE!!!

So, here we are. Thursday. I go to the post office AGAIN. This time, with only ONE THING to mail, but with a mantra repeated in my head the whole time I walk into there: "Ask about the package. Ask about the package. Ask about the package."

And I did. Yay! FINALLY! I remembered to ask about the package. Woot! Turns out that BECAUSE I'm still in Eugene, BECAUSE they have my forwarding info on file (and, um, cough-cough, I've recently bugged them about forwarding my mail to me at the new address *innocently looks away and whistles*), and BECAUSE it's still the same zip code, I have nothing to worry about. They will definitely forward my package to me when it gets there.

Maybe because they know that I'll bug them if they don't.

TIME FOR A DISCLAIMER!!!! I am not some homicidal maniac stalking employees at the West Side Eugene, Oregon Post Office!

I'm glad I finally remembered it. Yay! Tomorrow, no post office. But I WILL need to go to the bank. I just hope I remember to stick the check into my purse so that I'll have it with me to deposit while I'm there....