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.

Back to work (and public transportation)

Dude, I have no idea why but for some reason today was just not a day that I even wanted to get out of bed. The Zend Conference is over but I seriously had a lot to take in and wanted to spend some time going over that with my coworker today. No such luck.

Instead I was forced to come in to the office and try to manage my way through a day (yes, this reads way more dramatic that it actually was). At the end of the day the only thing I could honestly say was…

I HATE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION.

If it wasn’t for the fact that you have to get from the train station to your place of residence/business then taking the train would be choice. But there always lies that little extra that makes the train ride suck and that little extra is the fact that I need to bum rides off of people in both directions.

Now these people are more than happy to help me out, but I hate to take advantage of my wife and coworker like that. They do have better things to do than to make sure I make my train on time. Of course being on the train means I get to get a lot more work done because it is just me and my computer for over an hour. But that is about the only benefit I find in the whole thing.

Which leads me to think that it might be time to call my sister and ask to borrow a car from her since I have literally no other outlet at all by which to handle this public transportation/no engine having/broke as a joke condition I am in.

Wish me luck. This is just one more person that I am putting out to make my life easier. God I hate being in this place. And I hate working on a Friday after a four day conference.

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.

I have made my bed, now I sleep in it – alone

I just woke up a few minutes ago. I had wildly disturbing dreams last night that, while not scary, were enough to wake me up with a 😕 on my face. As I woke up I realized that when I have trouble sleeping I love to roll over and cuddle with my wife. There is something about knowing she is there next to me that really supports who I am as a man. It is like having my support team, all wrapped up in that delicious package known as femininity, standing beside ready to stand shoulder to shoulder to take on whatever may come up.

Being alone sucks. Whether it is physical, mental, emotional or spiritual loneliness it sucks. It is contrary to who we are as people because people are not meant to be alone. God Himself said this in Genesis 3:18:

And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

I think this holds true for women as well. Which is where I tend to think that most trouble in relationship stems from. Men, on the whole, are not nearly as much into the emotional aspect of relationship as women are. Women, on the other hand, are not nearly as much into the physical aspect of relationship that men are. What can and often does end up happening is men and women pursue and give of their own need and totally miss the mark of their spouse’s needs.

I am a perfect example of that. You can ask my wife on any day of the week if I am emotionally absent and she will loudly tell you yes. This is actually a huge area of discord for us because my wife is very needy (her words, not mine) emotionally and she expects a certain level of attentiveness from me and a certain amount of work in developing our emotional connection in our relationship.

Which probably explains why I sleep alone and have for more than five years. I have a strong longing for physical connection with my wife. I love to touch her. I love to feel her hair in my hands or the softness of her face in my neck. I love to rub her back and hold her hand. The few times she has done it I have loved when she sat in my lap. I love being physically close to my wife.

Unfortunately over time this has led to the outward appearance that I want my wife solely for the physical pleasure I can take from her. And while I love sex there is nothing quite like the nonsexual intimacy shared between a man and woman to make a man feel, well, manly. I love feeling like a “man and his bride”. It almost personifies the marriage relationship. But somewhere along the line this entire side of my feelings was lost in translation and now basically says “You sat next to me on the couch or you held my hand so that means you want to have sex with me right now.”.

Which I believe is what has led me to all the nights of owning both sides of my bed. I like to sleep close to my wife. If physical closeness is always related to sexual intentions then I would guess that leaves me as a wanton sexaholic that is using the bedroom as my breeding ground for sexual demands and deviance. All I want is some physical intimacy (not to be read as sex – I do want that too, but I am talking about intimacy without necessarily the act of sex). Actually, this is a need of mine, not a want. I need physical intimacy like my wife needs emotional intimacy.

So while she hungers I hunger. Together we are like two different ends of the same stick that are forever the same distance away from the center. It seems neither of us is able to bend much so I keep being emotionally absent, selfish and ungiving/uncaring while she keeps staying up to the wee hours of the morning and falling asleep on the couch.

Somewhere in this there is a lesson to learn. I have been trying to find that lesson the last five years. Hopefully soon I will figure it out so I can go about being married at home as much as I am in public. Man was not meant to be alone. Though at the moment I would bet that both my wife and I would tell you it feels like we were both destined to be.

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.

Wikipedia

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.

Worst part of a three day weekend is the fourth day

Ok, that three day weekend ended entirely too fast. And it seemed to end painfully at the business end of a Tuesday morning.

It almost hurt to get up today. I sooo did not want to come to work. But I did, because I take it for the team on numerous occasions. But I didn’t want to.

I almost wish that three day weekend ended with a mandatory 1 hour work day Tuesday. Even better would be if the 1 hour on that workday consisted of your lunch hour. Then we could literally have a great day back from a long weekend.

Uggh. I suppose until I get my way I am going to have to trudge through the carp of a “return to work for a full eight hours after a three day work week” day. And I will.

Because I know how to take it for the team.

Getting a little rest time together

I am so thankful right now. More thankful than I have been in some time. And I owe this attitude of gratitude to my dear sister-in-law Katie.

She offered to take our kids, yes, all five of them, overnight to her place so my wife and I could have some rest time. And boy do we need it.

I have felt so beyond exhaustion lately that I am not sure how I even function anymore. I am so worn out that I find myself falling asleep at the wheel when driving home from work.

Sometimes I feel like I am drifting off while I am at work. Other times I just feel like I am not even awake enough to know I am not awake.

Needless to say, when the idea of having some alone time came up I was thrilled. And I almost knew exactly what we would be doing (and before you get into that “doing what husbands and wives do when they are alone” bit, don’t count on it – remember, we are both exhausted). But it is nice not having a schedule for relaxation time.

We ended up getting some appetizers from Claim Jumper and bringing them back home. We turned on Tombstone and had appetizers as we entertained ourselves to Wyatt Earp and his battles with the “Cowboys”.

After that we just kinda drifted off to sleep in the little bed we made for ourselves on the floor.

It was pretty awesome not having to deal with the loudness that is out children last night. And it was even more awesome to be able to wake up this morning at our own pace. I liked being able to pick up breakfast for two and come home and play Wii. It was a great night.

So Katie, I tip my hat to you. I know it is not easy working full time, volunteering at church, driving all over who knows where and then picking up our kids and taking them for a night. I am thankful for you and the generosity you have shown my family over the last few months. I appreciate it more than I can put into words.

Happy Friday

Without a whole lot to say today I can muster up but a small wellwish for you: Happy Friday.

It has been one heck of a week. I am exhausted and glad this week is coming to a close.

I hope your Friday is as anticipated as mine is. I hope you enjoy the end of your week as much as I am enjoying mine.

I know I need a day to unwind. And it couldn’t come soon enough for me. But I am rambling.

Enjoy your Friday and your weekend. Hopefully I will refreshed enough this weekend to write something of value.