Archive for 2021

Loss and Honey

Posted July 22, 2021 By kmarrs

Lost my most recent patient, Miss Pattie, to liver cancer this week. I wasn’t there when it happened, but I was with her quite a bit leading up to her final moments.

I really enjoyed the time spent with her while she was still functional. I only had about a week or two of that time with her, but I’ll treasure it.

I firmly believe that everyone we meet leaves an impact on our lives, even if our time with them is brief. Miss Pat introduced me to honey.

I mean, I’ve always been a huge fan of honey. I spend way too much money at the local farmer’s market buying quality honey. I have spicy honey. I have a lot of honey. But I’ve never quite known what to use it for other than adding it to tea. Yes, even my spicy honey.

(Spicy honey in tea when you have a cold is the best. The spice clears your sinuses and the honey soothes your throat. And tea is also good for a cold too, of course. But I’m serious, get yourself some spicy honey for your next cold.)

In her final days, Pat didn’t eat much. But what she would almost always agree to eat was honey on a toasted English muffin. Now, my kids are big on English muffins, so I usually have some on hand. One evening after my shift with her, I tried it, and it opened my mind to a world of honey uses. The next day I excitedly reported back to her that I’d tried honey on a muffin for myself and understood why she lived on them. She sent me home with a fancy jar of honey from her friend’s bees, and instructions to try it on vanilla ice cream.

I’m telling you here and now, honey on vanilla ice cream is absolutely the best way to eat ice cream.

From there I branched out to fancy honey. Expensive honey. But EBT paid for it, and we currently have extra EBT because of Covid, and it’s use it or lose it. So if ever there was a time to try acacia honey and manuka honey, it’s now.

Next on the list was honeycomb. Because I’m trying to honor a woman who I’ve known for a very short time, but touched my heart, I’m diving head first into honey adventured. I will say autism and beeswax in the mouth aren’t the best mix for me, but the honey is good enough that I’ll finish what I have. I melt it over muffins and that helps with the texture. Also, my 13yo, who has a chewing stim, got to discover raw honeycomb, and he is a huge fan.

My final adventure will be creamed honey. I haven’t bought any yet, but that is simply because I forgot. I plan to do that in the next week. That too will probably land on an English muffin.

I really appreciate having met Miss Pat. Watching her die from liver cancer is probably the most triggering thing I could ever watch someone die from, but I honestly think in the end it was worth it.

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Certifications

Posted July 15, 2021 By kmarrs

I’m currently working towards getting certified in basic first aid and CPR. I feel these will make me a better caregiver to the elderly, but also a better prepared mother.

I achieved my first aid certification last night. Most of the class was online lessons, but there was an in person demonstration of how to use an EpiPen which is an important skill that you don’t have time to stop and read the instructions for when in the heat of the moment.

Next week is CPR. That course is fully in person. I’m looking forward to it.

I still want to get my EMT certification. Again, I feel it’ll have me better prepared in an emergency, but also I want to volunteer my services at things like pride. Or even street medic protests. Though my best friend will beat me to death with a flip flop over that last one.

I enjoy learning. I really enjoy learning useful things. And has my brain heals from brain damage from prolonged lack of blood, I’m finding myself capable of learning again.

Speaking of healing, I say my cancer doctor the other day. I am confirmed in remission. I bought us cake about it.

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Gallbladder

Posted July 8, 2021 By kmarrs

Sorry I missed last week’s post. I was physically not OK and spent my usual time to sit down and write napping.

I’ve known for a while my gallbladder was in rough shape. I actually decided in the fall of 2020 that I was going to look into getting it removed this year. Then the whole cancer thing happened. I decided to put it off because it wasn’t exactly hurting me, it just felt like pressure under my lower right ribs. On the pain scale, we’re talking the occasional 2 or 3. Enough to make me want to take my bra off, but that’s it.

Then around 2 am on what was officially Thursday the 24th of June, I started getting the worst heartburn. The worst. I don’t have breakthrough heartburn often, but when I do, it’s a doozy. Only, it wouldn’t go away. I drank a bottle of Pepto, ate a container of tums, tried my hot pepper trick. Nothing.

Eventually, I went to urgent care for their heartburn cocktail. They gave it to me, along with an EKG, and sent me on to the emergency room. There, they did more testing on my heart, but they also scanned my chest and belly and found my gallbladder full of stones and angry as can be.

It took a full week of managing fat intake very carefully and giving up any remaining carbonated drinks in my diet, but I am finally pain-free again and have been almost a week now. Meanwhile, I also have a surgery consult. I’m looking to schedule my surgery for the very end of August or early September. By then I’ll have a week’s paid vacation at work so I’ll only be short 1 week’s pay in my recovery.

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The Path

Posted June 24, 2021 By kmarrs

This came up in my Facebook memories and hit me super hard. I walked the stage with a nearly perfect GPA and top honors. But here I sit 2 years later with too much brain damage to attempt grad school. Grad school being why I needed perfect grades.

I was dying. I didn’t know it was cancer, but I was very much dying and I knew that. I couldn’t get anyone to listen to me, but I knew. And yet I forced perfection on myself. I asked for extensions instead of just skipping the occasional assignment. I studied while in the hospital. I wrote final papers right after surgery while on opioids.

I pushed and I pushed myself to perfection. Nearly killed myself striving for perfection. All so I could have a perfect GPA so I could get into the grad program of my choice.

And now? I can tell the difference. How smart I used to be, versus where I’m at now. Yes, I’m still intelligent. But not like I was. I can feel the difference and I can tell I’m no longer cut out for grad school. I was already going to be struggling because of Autism and ADHD. But brain damage to?

I am so angry. But I’m mostly sad that I put so much importance on my grades. C’s get degrees but I nearly died achieving perfection.

My path looks different now. I spent all of therapy coming to terms with all of the above and all of the below.

My best friend is Marissa. Granted, we don’t call her that. We call her Coffee. I’ll continue to call her Coffee on these pages. But her name is Marissa. I think it’s good to attach a real name to her existence now and then.

We’ve been best friends for a few years at this point. It all started with her sending me photos of the various animals in her life on Tumblr on a bad night and then before I knew it was had a friendship unlike any I’ve ever experienced. I’ve blogged about best friends before. If you’ve been here you know those usually blew up in my face. There was the ableist girl from high school. Tried to steal not just my spouse but my kids too last time Robin and I separated. There was Nate who was emotionally constipated and forbid me to have any emotions around him ever.

Coffee. I don’t have words. We have faced a lot of the same struggles, though there are plenty of differences. She is strong where I’m weak, and vice versa. I can honestly say that while it’s strictly platonic and nonsexual, I am absolutely in love with her. She is my person. She is one of my chosen sisters and I would do anything for her and know she would do anything for me. She’s held my hand through the process of nearly dying, losing my wife, and just every low moment of the past few years. She’s not afraid of my emotions and low points. And she approaches my BPD with common sense, compassion, and basic human decency. She’s also not afraid to call me out if I need to examine and rethink my behavior. She’ll enable me buying a children’s fishing pole to go “cat fishing”. But she won’t enable me treating people like shit. She makes me want to be a better person and helps me dig deep to find who that better person within me is.

And everything that she does for me, I strive to do for her in kind.

She is more than I could ever have hoped for in a friend.

And together we have built two really solid and healthy friend groups, with some overlap. A found family full of love, acceptance, neurodivergence, and queerness. My life is so full of love these days, but I found this chosen family with Coffee by my side. And through her love and guidance, I became a person worthy of their love. I do a lot of hard work. It wasn’t all Coffee. But she offered solid support and feedback.

There is a point to this.

Coffee is going to school to get a degree in running an agricultural-based business. The plan is, she and her husband Pete will buy some land in probably Kansas and they will run a lavender farm. In 10 years when my babies are all grown and out of the nest, I’m following them to Kansas and I’m buying a house as near theirs as I can and I’ll help them run their farm. Coffee will make sure I have a thriving wage and health insurance. I’ll also do what I do now, caregiving, on the side to help add enrichment to my life.

My path is no longer taking me to grad school at OSU and a PsyD that I’d use to diagnose especially women with Autism and ADHD. But that’s OK. Because my path is now taking me to Coffee, and her little family, and that’s even better.

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My Thumb

Posted June 17, 2021 By kmarrs

This will be short. It’s been a crazy week where few things have gone as planned and there aren’t enough hours in the day.  Nothing bad has happened.  In fact some good has happened.  But I’m tired.

Anyway

My maternal grandmother had a super green thumb.  So does my mom.  I honestly thought it had skipped me because I spent the first 30 something years of my life unable to keep a single plant alive.

But I don’t know. Something happened in the last few years and suddenly I can keep most anything alive.  Sure some things die, but I’m having more success than not.

I want to show some of my latest successes.

I’ve had a lot of succulents over the past few years, but this is the first time one has flowered for me. She’s been working on it for weeks!
The beginnings of my first strawberry!
This is what a strawberry flower looks like. I have a handful of them out there turning into berries right now!
Yes I very much planted this clover! I attempted last year with limited success. This year my efforts were fruitful. Next year I’m planting 10 times as much!

I have an extensive garden growing out back, but these are what I currently find the most exciting. I’ll show off the rest of the fruits of my labor (pun intended) later when I have things to harvest.

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EMDR

Posted June 10, 2021 By kmarrs

Despite the trauma train that has been the last 6 months kicking up some dust, I’m actually fairly stable. So in this spirit, I’m working on processing the trauma I’ve been through in the past 37 years. There are all sorts of things, big and little, and I’m ready to deal with it all.

DBT is great for helping to survive the day to day. But I’m doing that fairly well. Even when I was dying, I made it through each day intact. DBT isn’t set up to deal with the past.

There is a form of therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing it’s perfectly set up to help process past traumas and desensitize people with PTSD. It is a little tricky to explain, but it’s basically puts the patient almost into a trance. I’m going to provide some links to web pages and books that can explain this much better than I can below.

I will say that it is helpful. I’ve only just begun the process and I have a long ways to go, but I finally feel hope that I can let go of the past and come out the other end happier and less angry. PTSD makes me angry and I don’t like that about myself. But I can fix it. And EMDR is the key.

https://www.emdr.com/what-is-emdr/
https://youtu.be/Pkfln-ZtWeY

Bannit, S.P. (2012). The trauma toolkit: Healing trauma from the inside out. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books.
Scaer, R. (2005). The trauma spectrum: Hidden wounds and human resiliency. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Van Der Kolk, B. (2014). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. New York: Viking.
Parnell, L. (2008). Tapping in: A step-by-step guide to activating your healing resources through bilateral stimulation. Boulder, CO: Sounds True Books.
Shapiro, F., & Forrest, M. (1997). EMDR: The breakthrough “eye movement” therapy for overcoming stress, anxiety, and trauma. New York: Basic Books.
Shapiro, F. (2013). Getting past your past: Take control of your life with self-help techniques from EMDR therapy. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Books.

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