Another very long day (do you see a pattern here?)

Wow, this day just seemed like it would never end. Why is it that almost everyday is an event destined to test the boundaries of time itself within a single day?

Today I got up earlier than normal because I had to hit the bank to get cash (that is for a whole other post let me tell you), go to the store, get home, get the groceries put away then get on the road to work. After work, a day that saw me not get there until almost 9:30 so saw me leave until about 6:00, I hit the road to get home and head out immediately to the library to get new library cards and a gang of books for kids. Then we hit up the Burger King because it was almost 8:00 and we hadn’t eaten dinner yet. We grabbed some burgers and hit the house just in time for me to get to my room for a client meeting that was supposed to start at 8:00

Now there was one blessing in all of this. That client meeting that was scheduled for 8:00 got pushed back because my client and I both were getting ready to sit down to dinner at the time of the call. So I agreed to call back a half hour later, which meant we would be on the phone until about 10:30. Which meant the day was going to be that much longer.

All in all though it was a nice day to be alive. Even if things are hectic and haywire at least I am alive to experience it. I have to tell myself that on occasion. Sometimes because I need perspective and sometimes because I just need to hear the lie.

Yesterday was the longest day of my life

Ok, maybe not the longest day of my life, but man it sure felt pretty long to me. But before we get into this longest of days I should step back a bit and get to the cause of it all.

The past few days have been somewhat rough on me because of this stupid cold I have had. Fortunately I go better pretty quick due in large part to the efforts of my wife and kids in taking care of me. Well, that type of effort seldom goes without punishment as the caretaker often takes on the symptoms of the one being cared for. So was the case with my wife. She got what I had. And she got it a lot worse than I had it.

She started showing signs of illness late Wednesday night and as of Thursday was pretty well in the heat of getting he butt kicked by this bug. What that meant for the household was that she would not be able to be a mom on yesterday and she asked me if I could take care of the Friday activities for her.

I was not able to miss work yesterday because of a meeting that has been planned for the last two weeks. What that meant was that I was now thrown headlong into the role of a single parent getting his kids to school for the day along with getting other of his kids to a place outside the home because my wife would not be able to do anything for the day. So late Thursday night I set out to make sure that Friday was taken care of. Here is what ended up being set up for Friday:

  1. Wake up the kids, feed them, dress them and get out of the house by 7:30 AM.
  2. Get to grandma’s house in Newark by 8:00 to drop off the younger three children, one of whom was staying the night and needed a night bag packed.
  3. Get to Hayward by 8:30 to drop off the older two for school.
  4. Get to Concord by 9:30 to prepare for my 10:00 can’t-miss meeting.

Now there was a little more to it than that. If you look real close at that list above there is no provision for getting my kids home from school. See that was a little more complex because their school does not start until 9:30 and it is against the rules to be at school and not be in a class room. So what I set up for the kids was:

  1. Get to school at 8:30 and go to the early math class room. Sit there quietly until it is time for their classes to start at 9:30.
  2. Go to class at 9:30. Learn like champions.
  3. After school find a particular parent who was going to take them to her house.
  4. Wait at this particular parent’s house until another parent comes by to pick up her kids and my kids, then take my kids to yet another parents house from where my kids will be brought home.

When all was said and done I was able to get all of the morning activities done and get to work a little after 9:00. I met with my boss who helped me set up a very aggressive schedule that pretty much commits me to a single project through mid-November (which I am ok with but hope I am not setting myself up for dropping the ball). I spent the rest of my day working on the project and got out of work a little after 5:00 PM.

I got on the road and found a message from Adriannah on my phone that she wanted all of us to come pick up the younger kids from grandma’s because there was cake that she made and she wanted all of us to share some of it together. So I went home, picked up Sandi, Sarah and Bekah and hit the road to grandma’s house. We had cake, mingled a bit and picked the kids up and headed home.

We got home at a little after 8:00 at which time I put some hotdogs to boil, fed the kids, ate dinner, prayed for us all and put us to bed. At about 9:30 or so I was finally able to sit down, take a breath and realize what had happened in the day.

What a day. What a long, long, longest of days. I am glad I am able to rest a little today. I totally need it.

Work it like a man

Oh that I would be a man and do the things that men do.

Robert Gonzalez

I have so wanted, as of late, to stop being a wimpy, cowardly, weak male and become the strong, dominating, adventurous, aggressive man that I was created to be. And for the most part I have begun this transformation, authoritatively, taking back what I should never have surrendered to begin with. And I have found that with this step toward exercising my authority, dominance (as a person, not as a man over someone) and power that I have also been faced with challenges designed to poster me to to that very thing.

What I mean by that is that I have felt the need recently to display my strength to myself. My physical strength, the stuff that comes out of the broad shoulders, large legs and muscles that God gave me. As I man I have been created strong and I believe that is for a purpose. But a purpose in design is nothing more than an idea if it is not put into practice. It is my intention to put my design into practice as often as I can and with that shatter the notion of what I used to be when being a man was not a priority to me.

To that end I have decided recently that I needed to begin the handle the management of the finance in our home. If you have ever read any of my more recent entries you would know that our finances are pretty unstable right now. There are a number of reasons for this and to be honest, I do not see Sandi handling the finances as a reason at all. I would say that any real man would take responsibility for ceding that role to his wife.

Now hear me as well as you can… I am not saying a woman cannot handle finances. Lord knows there are plenty of men out there that have put their women necessarily into the position of financial manager of the home. But I have to say that even though my wife is skilled at handling a checkbook and several bank accounts, it is my calling as the head of our home to handle that, very often stressful, responsibility. I am the hunter, the gatherer, the conqueror, the killer. My wife is the preparer, the tender, the handler of the kill. Together we are the consumers of both my work and hers. I believe it is my role to ensure that my wife has all of the tools the she needs to do her work adequately and effectively. It is my place as a builder to build her a platform upon which she can live out her calling.

To that end I am now in charge of management of the finances. Not blindly and in complete isolation. To the contrary, we are both involved intimately in the finances, we both know where we stand daily and we both are aware of what is coming up. The difference now is that I am making the hard, sometimes painful decisions that were really entirely too heavy a burden for my wife to carry for so long and she is supporting me in that.

So after church this morning my wife gave me some time alone to get the finances and accounting log in order and then we talked about it. I had to come to some pretty hard decisions and some pretty inevitable conclusions, but it felt good to do something I am supposed to do. Even Sandi told me that she is feeling better with this change. How can you not when you begin to fulfill your purpose?

Later on during the day I was working on something for a client. Lord knows we need the money something awful and this project has gotten so sidetracked by things in my personal life and the busy-ness of my client. It needs to be done, both the work and the project, and I need to get it done. I am a worker and builder after all. This is what I do. And I was doing it. And something came up. Something that needed my manliness at that moment.

My two older daughters’ bunk beds needed to be put together.

One of the funnest things a man can do is use tools of any sort and physical strength to forcible manipulate those tools. We love that kind of stuff. So much so that some men go into trades that require that daily. My friend Ray is a prime example. He is millwright. He gets to break stuff, build stuff, work on stuff, work with tools, get dirty, get bloody knuckles… the full gamut, daily. I write web applications. I still get to use tools, but not the kind that put the feel of cold steel into a burly hand and demand that the steel be wielded. So when I get that chance I run to it.

I was able to take apart my two daughters’ beds and reassemble them in a way that allowed me to stack them. The I had to assemble the rails and what not so that Sarah doesn’t fall on her face in the middle of the night. Then, the coup de grâce was that I had to coordinate the lifting of the upper bed onto the lower bed and move the assembled bunk into position on the wall that we decided to put it on. Outstanding. I haven’t worked like that, physically, in a long time. And it felt great.

After this I was a little tired (from waking up early primarily, I will explain that in a day or two) and from all the other activity this weekend. But it felt good to use my physique for its designed purpose. And it felt good to be tired because of physical exertion. I needed that. In more ways than one.

Finding things to do with your children outside the home

One of the most challenging aspects of parenting, in my opinion, is occupying your children with cool experiences that enrich them and you while at the same time building the parent/child bond that is so necessary in our families of today. For the past few years I have made it a point to get my kids out as much as possible, taking them to places like Tilden Park, the Lindsey Wildlife Museum, the Oakland Zoo, the Tech Museum of Innovation and a few others. I think it is important to get them out of the house while allowing them to experience things they enjoy and letting them learn at the same time.

In keeping with the theme this week, I am continually challenged to find things to do with the kids that will meet all of the things I want for them but still allow me to take care of them and the house as needed. With weekends being so short nowadays I am finding that my free time to take outings with the kids has been dramatically reduced in favor of cleaning the house and other domestic chores that are absolutely necessary to keeping our house running at least somewhat smoothly. Which brings me to my next question.

At what point do you forgo domestic duties to enjoy time with your family? I have always been of the mindset that family comes first. But I can see how that undermined my wife’s attempt at order in the house are when I look at how terribly behind I get when I take the kids out when I should be home handling home related business. And the more I do this the more worn out I get, which leads me to cut back on some of this and spend more time at home, which ends up in me feeling guilty that I am damaging my kids by not getting them out of the house more.

Is there a way to have the best of both worlds? I want a clean and orderly home. I want a haven for my children to be able to live, grow, learn and experience in. But I also want for my children to be able to experience life beyond the borders of our front and back yards. I want my kids to not just read about stuff but to be able to experience them and learn firsthand what the thing they are learning is really all about.

To that end I have though that there are things we can do that will not require a whole lot of time outside of the home but will still allow for a fun experience for all of us. Some of the things I am thinking are:

Of course we cannot always do everything around cleaning the house, right? At least that is what I am aiming for. Some of the other things that I have thought about that might require a little more time outside of the house, but would be incredibly fun:

Now my only contention is with how I go about doing all of these things with a sick wife at home and a home that needs desperate maintenance almost every day. But I suppose that is why I write. Because I so do not have all the answers. In fact, I don’t think I have any answers. I just have a strong desire to take care of my family and provide for them as best I can.

Dealing with the effects of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

A few weeks ago my wife was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a very lifestyle disturbing illness that is very difficult to diagnose and ever more difficult to treat. In a nutshell:

The defining symptoms of fibromyalgia are chronic, widespread pain and tenderness to light touch. Other symptoms can include moderate to severe fatigue, a heightened and painful response to gentle touch (allodynia), needle-like tingling of the skin, muscle aches, prolonged muscle spasms, weakness in the limbs, nerve pain, functional bowel disturbances, and chronic sleep disturbances. Sleep disturbances may be related to a phenomenon called alpha-delta sleep, a condition in which deep sleep (associated with delta waves) is frequently interrupted by bursts of alpha waves, which normally occur during wakefulness. Slow-wave sleep is often dramatically reduced.

Many patients experience cognitive dysfunction (known as “brain fog” or “fibrofog”), which may be characterized by impaired concentration, problems with short and long-term memory, short-term memory consolidation, genitourinary symptoms and interstitial cystitis, dermatological disorders, headaches, myoclonic twitches, and symptomatic hypoglycemia. Although fibromyalgia is classified based on the presence of chronic widespread pain, pain may also be localized in areas such as the shoulders, neck, low back, hips, or other areas. Many sufferers also experience varying degrees of facial pain and have high rates of comorbid temporomandibular joint disorder. Not all patients have all symptoms.


At first I thought the doctor was spot on because my wife has exhibited many of those symptoms in the past eight months that she has been ill. There were a few inconsistencies with the diagnosis in my opinion, but for the most part all of the things that are encompassed by fibromyalgia were apparent in my wife’s lack of health for the last eight months.

Then a few days ago my wife found Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS, or CFS for short) and began to look closer at that. Now I have read about CFS. In fact, when my wife first got sick back in November I read I about CFS and thought that the symptoms seemed eerily similar to what she was experiencing. I even suggested it to my wife’s doctor in January and, as of about a month ago, the only thing related to it that was ever put in my wife’s chart was “fatigue”. Not CFS, just fatigue.

Looking closer as CFS you’ll find:

CFIDS is characterized by incapacitating fatigue (experienced as profound exhaustion and extremely poor stamina) and problems with concentration and short-term memory. It is also accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as pain in the joints and muscles, unrefreshing sleep, tender lymph nodes, sore throat and headache. A distinctive characteristic of the illness is post-exertional malaise, a worsening of symptoms following physical or mental exertion occurring within 12-48 hours of the exertion and requiring an extended recovery period.

Additional symptoms are reported by people with CFIDS (PWCs) such as word-finding difficulties, inability to comprehend/retain what is read, inability to calculate numbers and impairment of speech and/or reasoning. PWCs may also have visual disturbances (blurring, sensitivity to light, eye pain, need for frequent prescription changes); psychological problems (depression, irritability, anxiety, panic attacks, personality changes, mood swings); chills and night sweats; shortness of breath; dizziness and balance problems; sensitivity to heat and/or cold; alcohol intolerance; irregular heartbeat; irritable bowel (abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, intestinal gas); low-grade fever or low body temperature; numbness, tingling and/or burning sensations in the face or extremities; dryness of the mouth and eyes (sicca syndrome); gynecological problems including PMS and endometriosis; chest pains; rashes; ringing in the ears (tinnitus); allergies and sensitivities to noise/sound, odors, chemicals and medications; weight changes without changes in diet; light-headedness; mental fogginess; fainting; muscle twitching; and seizures.

CFIDS Association of America

The more I look at CFS the more I think that this is where the problem lies. I think my wife has been stricken by this illness more than I am thinking fibromyalgia. Here is my thought process:

CFS and Fibromyalgia and how they stack up to my wife
  CFS Fibromyalgia My Wife
Data for this table gathered from CFIDS and Wikipedia
Incapacitating Fatigue X X X
Problems W/concentration & Short-term Memory X X X
Flu-like Symptoms X X X
Unrefreshing Sleep X X X
Tender Lymph Nodes X X X
Sore Throat X
Headache X X X
Post-exertional Malaise X X
Inability To Comprehend/retain What Is Read X X
Inability To Calculate Numbers X X
Impairment Of Speech And/or Reasoning X
Visual Disturbances X X
Depression X X X
Irritability X X X
Anxiety X X X
Panic Attacks X X X
Personality Changes X X
Mood Swings X X
Chills And Night Sweats X X
Shortness Of Breath X X
Dizziness And Balance Problems X X X
Sensitivity To Heat And/or Cold X
Alcohol Intolerance X
Irregular Heartbeat X X
Irritable Bowel X X X
Low-grade Fever Or Low Body Temperature X X
Numbness, Tingling And/or Burning Sensations In The Face Or Extremities X X
Dryness Of The Mouth And Eyes X X
Gynecological Problems Including PMS And Endometriosis X X
Chest Pains X
Rashes X
Ringing In The Ears X
Allergies X X
Sensitivities To Noise/sound, Odors, Chemicals And Medications X X
Weight Changes Without Changes In Diet X X
Light-headedness X X
Mental Fogginess X X X
Fainting X
Muscle Twitching X
Seizures X

If you look closely you can see that many of the symptoms Sandi exhibits are found in CFS. And while the fibromyalgia camp still carries with it a heavy list of things that suck, Sandi is experiencing more of the CFS related issues than the fibromyalgia ones.

This leads me to think the doctors have misdiagnosed her. Which means they are treating something that is not what she has. Which means the chances of her improving her health are pretty much crap. Which means that our family is going to continue to go through hell daily until something can be done.

The most daunting thing about CFS, as I continue to study it, is the insanely long recovery period. It is one in which people with CFS may never actually fully recover. And in general that period is between two and five years. How badly does that suck to be the poor soul with CFS? Living, day in and day out like you have just gotten run over by a train and knowing that you are going to be run over again tomorrow as soon as you wake up, and then again the next day, and again the next, and so on. For years.

I really feel a great deal of sympathy for my wife right now because she is in a place that no one should ever have to be. Her life is very hard right now and as such, the lives of her family members are very hard right now. But praise God, there are people that are willing to help us and many have already helped us.

I am just trying to wade through the stuff that I have take care of now that my wife is, in effect, incapacitated. But that will be for tomorrow’s post I think, one in which I will call out for help from single parents that are trying to raise kids, take care of the house and take care of the bills.

That ought to be fun.

A very busy day and a very quiet night

Today went not at all like I had hoped it would. Not that it was bad. Just different than I had hoped.

It started out with me getting up with just enough time to put some clothes on and head to a men’s meeting at church. That started at 10:00 in the morning. It ended at about 11:30 and I was home by 12:00. That left about an hour or so.

My wife was picked up by her mother for a massage treatment at my sister-in-law’s house in San Ramon. My kids are spending the night there tonight so they needed to be packed. Which landed on me to finish up because my wife was feeling a little incapable of moving today (it is part of the affliction she is burdened with and which happens to incapacitate her pretty regularly).

So I spent a pretty decent amount of time getting the kids’ bag packed, pillows and blankets put together and the truck filled up with their stuff. Then it was off to the barber shop for haircuts because both my son and I needed a trim.

But first we had to do lunch, and though I had hot dogs to cook I could literally not find a small pot anywhere in the house. It doesn’t help that every dish… well, every usable dish… is dirty at the moment. So rather than spend six hours cleaning my kitchen to make hot dogs I decided to take the kids to Rubio’s for lunch.

We finished up there at about 3:00 or so and I called my barber to see how long the wait was (because I was supposed to leave Fremont at 4:00 to pick up my wife at her sister’s house). He said he only had maybe two people waiting and now was the perfect time to come on by. So I did.

I waited at the barber shop for about an hour and 15 minutes before getting my son in the chair. I was up a few minutes later. After a buzzcut for the boy and a trim for me, we left the barber shop at about 4:50. Nice.

We stopped to get money to give to Katie, my best sister-in-law in the whole world (seriously, if ever there was a model woman/friend/sister-in-law, this is it), then headed to San Ramon. I got there with just enough time to have Katie’s downstairs neighbor bang her floor in protest to the loud floor bashing my kids were doing.

With that she left to take the kids to dinner. The kids were spending the night with her so I left with Sandi on my arm excited at what the evening had in store for us.

Apparently, that was not much.

We hit up the Cheesecake Factory on the way home for some desert. We got home and ate it. Then we vegged on the couch for a long while. We got hungry at about 9:15 so I picked up some take out and we ate that and watched TV until about 11:15 when she fell asleep.

Knowing I have to get up early my decision to hit the sack in a few minutes is a pretty logical one. I am beat. But our anniversary so far has been, well, really not an anniversary celebrating at all save for a taco and a slice of cheesecake. I really wish my wife was feeling better.

I could have used a little celebration tonight. Whatever the case, I had a great day with my kids and a good afternoon with my wife I suppose things could be a lot worse.

Thank God they are not. But I know they could be.