Dropping By...Diaryland Friend Meetup Version 2....Updates
I just returned a few days ago from a conference in Seattle, one of my favorite cities. I hadn't been since 2003, and it was so great to get back. The summer I lived there in 2002 was incredibly fun! Incidentally....I guess I was thinking about Diaryland today because, just like when I was there in 2003, I met up with one of my former favorite Diarylanders and college classmates, the lovely Arajane. Though brief, it was fun and lovely to catch up with her all these years later, in person at The Crumpet Shop in Pike Place (which, btw, is an awesome awesome place)! I also got to catch up with current and former colleagues in my field at the conference. And I also got to reconnect with an elementary school classmate I'm connected to on FB but whom I had not seen since she moved away from my town when we were 12, b/c her parents split up. It was pretty cool to catch up with her all these years later, and to learn how life has turned out for her, living in Beacon Hill and teaching K12 in the public school system. She was the one who reached out to me when I was the new girl at my elementary school and she told me when I saw her all these years later that she felt like I was her only friend when she was going through elementary school and her parents were breaking up.
In other news, I'm two years into a new job, facing the pressures of publish or perish, and the role strains of being in a split position where I'm hold both an administrator position, specifically a dean-level position, yet at the same time I'm supposed to be tenure-track/eligible.
If those pressures were not great enough, I'm also experiencing a great deal of role strain, as six months ago exact, my mother had a stroke and I was thrown into the unexpected role of caregiver. I had just visited for my birthday weekend, and two days after I returned home, I was sitting at work in the morning when the phone call came in from my sister. "Mom had a stroke this morning". Fuck. My dad called me and since he never calls me at work and isn't that facile with his cell phone, I assumed it was a pocket dial. But then my sister called right after, and I knew something was up, because she was traveling for work at a conference, and she doesn't normally call me at work and certainly not from a conference. Needless to say I was on the next flight out, taking emergency leave.
I live far away, so the strains have been less than on other family members who live right there, but nonetheless the past half year has seen me take on the huge burden of regular travel--both out of the love in my heart and the genuine desire to see my mom--as well as the practical aspects of caregiving, meaning that there are certain days/weeks of the month that I am "on duty" as part of the rotation of 24 hour care. It's still so surreal to me and I'm really grieving over my losing the ability to have a conversation with my mom b/c the stroke took away her speech. Aphasia is a cruel deficit bc it traps people inside. My mother understands everything (can receive) but she's unable to speak meaningfully. I think she tries but the problem is that what is intact in her head only comes out as babbling. It's frustrating all around. Imagine you are dropped off in a foreign country all of a sudden, where no one understands your language and you don't understand theirs. When you speak, they don't understand and give you blank stares. When they speak and you don't understand, they speak louder and louder.
It hurts. It hurts a lot. I miss being able to just pick up the phone and call my mom and bounce things off of her. She's still one of the wisest people I know, but it's trapped. And I wish I could still tap into her wisdom in the same form I used to.
And the role strains are of course the type that disproportionately hit women. I'm had to invoke Family Medical Leave because that's what it's there for (either yourself or a family member)....as a legal protection. But the tricky thing is in the attitudes when you're absent even though you're still on top of everything and reading emails from afar.
I'm exhausted and the caregiving has impacted me health-wise. Though I don't eat junk food/processed food/high fructose corn syrup, or hydrogenated oils, and although I swim laps regularly, somehow I've ended up with a whopper of a surprise: pre-diabetes, as indicated by an elevated a1c despite never having had a high fasting glucose (which of course is a snapshot, unlike the a1c that captures a trend). So.....I'm trying to wrap my head around that and figure out how not to let that progress. Damn! I was pretty much told that stress such as caregiving can definitely shoot up your blood sugar, and since I already have the autoimmune arthritis, I'm at higher risk for (autoimmune) diabetes. In any case, I've bitten the bullet and started pricking my fingers to test my blood sugar with a glucose monitor to capture exactly when and by how much it's spiking. Ugh..
Well....not exciting but there you have it....and I'll be back....whenever........and though no one updates much anymore, I do love when I actually do see my buddy list names lit up. I sometimes wonder how others have been in intervening years.. or what happened to some of my favorites...