Becoming Jill: Adventures in Adulthood


I’m Still Here!
January 9, 2012, 5:10 pm
Filed under: Primal, Uncategorized, Updates

So, my blog has been on hiatus for quite some time. What can I say? Life has a way of happening, often in extremely unplanned ways.

Here’s a quick review of 2011 in The World of Jill:

  • Number of hospital stays for dad: 3
  • Number of hospital stays for mom: 1
  • Number of hip replacements for Papa Coats: 1
  • Number of hospital stays for Nana Venter: 3? (Could be losing track, here)
  • Number of hospital stays for Papa Venter: 2 (Plus in-home hospice)
  • Number of trips to Missouri for Jill: Innumerable
  • Number of pounds lost since October: 36!
  • Number of jobs found: 0
  • Number of EF-5 tornados narrowly avoided: 1 (hooray!)
  • Number of first dates: 4 (I think? I may have blocked a few out)
  • Number of second dates: 0 (Trust me, you wouldn’t have gone on one, either)

So, yes, rather a momentous year for Jill And Family.

***

My Papa Venter passed away in July, following several months in the hospital, and a brief stint at home and on hospice. I first experienced hospice with my Grandma Denzel before she passed away in 2010, so when Papa came home from the hospital, I already had a lot of knowledge of how to take care of him, which was very helpful. My aunt and I took care of him at the Venter family farm, and while it wasn’t easy, we were glad he passed away peacefully in his home, on the farm where he was born.

A handsome young soldier!

Since Papa had dementia/Alzheimer’s, taking care of him was more difficult in many ways than taking care of Grandma D was. It’s hard to get used to bossing around your stubborn and confused grandfather.  On the other hand, you get to have some pretty entertaining conversations, like trying to convince him that he doesn’t have to go deliver a wagon-full of turnips to town. One rather scarier interchange involved trying to convince him that we hadn’t been gassed by the Germans (he fought in WWII). All in all, I was glad I was able to be there with him, and we all miss him very much, especially my Nana, who is in very poor health, herself.

***

I was in Joplin, MO helping my dad through his recovery process following his motorcycle accident when the city was devastated by an EF-5 tornado on May 22nd. Thankfully, none of my family members were hurt, and my step-sister Jana had only some minor damage to her house. Lots of other people weren’t so lucky.

I still have very strong emotions about this event, and it’s hard for me to write about. I won’t say much, other than it really helped me stop focusing so much on the things that are “wrong” in my life and start seeing the bigger picture. It’s an ongoing process for me.

Joplin, following the tornado

Due to my many extended stays in Missouri through the past year, I have gotten to see the process of the city rebuilding, which is nice. I am glad that the images from the weeks following the tornado are slowly being replaced in my brain.

November 2011: New buildings! Trust me, it really does look better

***

In more positive news, once things calmed down a bit in my family and I got to come home to Minnesota, I was able to focus on myself and start making some positive changes! By far the biggest change so far has been discovering the Paleolithic or Primal lifestyle, which advocates eating the diet that humans evolved eating before the introduction of agriculture. I stopped eating grain, sugar, and processed food, and I feel GREAT! Plus, I have lost 36 pounds total. I’ll definitely write lots more about this in future, because I feel like it’s the best thing I have ever done for myself. Not even exaggerating. Goodbye pasta: you are NOT missed!

***

So… in the year ahead, here’s what I want to do:

  • Continue following the Primal lifestyle, and start increasing my exercise and activity level
  • GET. A. JOB.
  • Spend more months in Minnesota than Missouri (sorry, mom)
  • Move to a slightly larger apartment once I have had said JOB for a while
  • Write more, both on my blog and my very neglected fiction writing
  • Be a better friend, which includes keeping in better touch with people
  • NOT HAVE ANY FAMILY MEMBERS IN THE HOSPITAL
  • Find some volunteer work that I find meaningful. I miss volunteering.
  • I am sure I am forgetting something.

Happy 2012 (Slightly late, but that’s how I roll!)

Pip celebrates the new year with his favorite pink toys!



Here We Go Again
April 20, 2011, 7:11 am
Filed under: Updates

So… it’s been awhile, yes? What can I say? Life happens.

I am back in Missouri, with my dad in the hospital. Sound familiar? Short story, he had a motorcycle accident about a week and a half ago, and has been in the hospital ever since. He has 5 or 6 broken ribs, with several of them broken in multiple spots, a broken collarbone, a punctured lung, and pneumonia. He had surgery to plate his ribs together (4 plates, 30 screws) and was doing well recovering from that when he went into shock, just like he did in December. Luckily I was with him at the time, and was able to get help to him quickly, and back to the ICU we went!

No one has been able to decide exactly what happened– it probably wasn’t sepsis again like we originally feared, and may have been anaphalactic (sp?) shock from an allergy to one of his medications. Either way, it’s fairly scary to see your dad stop breathing and shaking so hard the bed is rattling.

We got out of the ICU yesterday, but he is still having a lot of pain from his broken collarbone– he is actually going to have surgery again today to remove a portion of the broken bone that has slipped out of place. This surgery won’t be as big a deal as the rib plating, but it’s not guaranteed to give him any relief, either. We are just going to hope for the best!

Kitties are with mom, and I miss them, but they always like to go on “vacation.” If I sound a little incoherent… well, I am. Not much sleep has been had! Positive thoughts would be appreciated!



2010: A Most Uncomfortable Year
January 1, 2011, 6:27 pm
Filed under: Depression, frugality, Updates

So, 2010 kinda sucked in a lot of ways. My depression returned, I lost my job, I lost my step-grandma, and I spent a lot of the year in Missouri helping my various relatives recover from their various surgeries. Of course, it wasn’t ALL bad! I got to spend a lot more time with my family than normal, due to the unemployment and subsequent unskilled-nursing. I found a new depression medication that seems to be working, even if I’m not 100 percent back to normal, whatever that is. I learned a lot about financial responsibility, and how to live a lot more frugally. I started writing more, due to this blog, and working on my NaNoWriMo novel (I didn’t meet the deadline, but I’ll keep going!) I think I did a lot of growing up in between the adult-diaper-changing and the bank-account-balancing. Growth is rarely comfortable, however, so I didn’t always enjoy all these lessons!

I’ve been thinking a lot about non-medication ways I can help alleviate my depression, and one of the things I return to is trying to cultivate a more positive outlook on life. I am not even sure if this IS something that can be cultivated, but more positive thoughts can’t be a bad thing, right? To that end, I am planning to blog daily about one positive thing in my life. Hopefully it will be good for my brain as well as my writing! I fully anticipate that things might get a bit esoteric (i.e., “I’m thankful for grass! It’s green and pretty!”) but I think the exercise in positive thinking  will benefit me in lots of ways.

Of course, I am still working on the whole adulthood-thing, so I plan to keep writing about that, as well. I definitely think I grew up a lot this year (AND turned 30, ugh!) but there’s still a lot of work to do. Thanks for coming along for the ride!



Chapter 14: In Which I Have Various Panic Attacks in Public
November 14, 2010, 1:42 pm
Filed under: Depression, Updates

So, I have been on the Cymbalta for a few weeks now. The most noticeable difference is all the BATSHIT CRAZY DREAMS. I have never been a big dreamer, or at least, I rarely remember the ones that I have. One weird side-note: most of my dreams are narrated.  Anyway, since day 1 of the Cymbalta, my nights have been filled with rape, murder, kidnap, and general mayhem. I wake up in the middle of the night, hyperventilating, with every muscle in my body clenched in terror. Fun, huh?

Apparently this is an unofficial side-effect of many antidepressants, but not one I had encountered with any of the others I have tried. According to my psychiatrist, they should abate eventually… in the meantime, I have a nifty new anti-anxiety/sleeping medication to take a bedtime that should hopefully help. It did ok the first night, but last night was pretty terrifying… sigh.

In other news, every time I go out in public, I have a panic attack! I know you’re jealous. These have been induced by: being squished on the bus, having people stand too close to me in line, and having to wait for my prescription at the chaotic Target pharmacy. Let’s hope these anti-anxiety drugs start working, STAT!

We had a pretty terrific snow storm yesterday, hooray! I love winter, and I love snow, so this all makes me quite excited. We probably got about a foot of very wet, very heavy, very slippery snow. When I tried to venture out to perform some cat-sitting duties, I promptly slid straight off the road. Luckily, I was able to extricate myself without the aide of a tow-truck! Since I had not made it fully 4 blocks from the apartment, I decided Karen and Jeremy’s cats could fend for themselves for a day, and went home.

I love looking out the windows and seeing everything all fluffy and clean and white! I know that later in the winter, there will be times when the snow on the sides of the road is dirty and icky, but for now, I can revel in the beauty and peacefulness.

 

View out my window. Note the plowed-in car... sucker!

But not for long! Early in the morning, the kitties and I will be loading up the car and heading south for a few weeks. My dad is having surgery, and I’ll be lending a hand while we recovers. I can’t claim to be overly-excited about the prospect, but hopefully it will all go ok. I am a little worried about my mental state, seeing as how I can’t be near people without flipping out, but I have high hopes that I will start feeling better any day now. Gotta have faith, right?

The kitties will be going “on vacation” with Mom and Larry, and I am happy that they will have a big house to play in for a few weeks! Pipper has been especially bad with the out-0f-litterbox peeing lately, so it will also be nice not to have to deal with that for a while. He only seems to do it in my tiny apartment that he hates, so he’s usually pretty well-behaved at Mom’s house.

 

My name is Pip, and I disapprove of this apartment

Anyway, hopefully it will be a good trip. I’ll miss the Minnesota snow, but it will be nice to be with my own family for Thanksgiving.



Depression Hurts… Cymbalta Can Help! Hopefully…
October 29, 2010, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Depression, NaNoWriMo, Updates

So, per my doctor’s instructions, I got myself hooked up with a psychiatrist and therapist, in hopes of eventually returning to semi-human status. My psychiatrist switched me from Paxil to Cymbalta. He says the Cymbalta has a lot more “get up and go,” which I could definitely use in my life. I’ve only been on it about a week, so I haven’t noticed much of a difference yet, other than a few dizzy spells, and some crazy dreams, that I think are more related to dredging up memories than the new medication.

I had a wonderful birthday weekend, and have survived several days of being 30! My wonderful friends arranged a trip to 3 different wineries for tours and tastings, and then we capped off the day with a bonfire, yummy food and wine, and good company. An excellent time was had by all! At least I hope so…

 

with my favorite girls at Winehaven Winery

My mom and Larry sent me flowers via my best friend Karen, so that was a nice surprise! I’ve had to keep them high up so Kitten can’t eat them or knock them over, tho.

 

pretty birthday flowers!

I’m looking forward to beginning my NaNoWriMo novel on Monday! I’ve been working on characters and plotting, but I can’t officially begin writing til November 1st. I decided to do a novel set in the Regency Era, since I know lots about it and will have to do minimal research. I am billing it as as “Jane Austen meets Jane Eyre.” I don’t have a title yet, but I am super excited to get started!

We had a first few little snowflakes this week, which made me happy! I love snow, and I can’t wait for the first big storm.

I’ve been toying with the idea of posting my novel on the blog as I go along, but I haven’t made any definite decisions… thoughts?

 



Heading home for a bit…
August 5, 2010, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Updates

Just a quick post to say I probably won’t be around for a bit. I’m heading back down to Missouri to help out my family for a week or two. The last time I was home, my papa had hip replacement surgery, and has been slowly recovering ever since. He’s still not getting around very well, and we’re afraid that he might have some nerve damage from the surgery. Anyway, he’s fallen quite a few times since getting out of the hospital. Also, we’re afraid he may have had a minor stroke sometime in the last week or two. I’ll be staying on the farm with Grandma and Papa, driving them anywhere they need to go, and giving Grandma a break from being a full-time caretaker. I probably won’t have internet or cell access while I am there, but I am sure there will be plenty of things to keep me out of trouble! One of my favorite jobs on the farm is chasing cows out of the yard 😉

Papa Coats, Christmas 2009

The kitties will be “going on vacation,” which means that they will get to stay with Mom and Larry! Pip loves having the run of the big house,  but Kitten mostly hides in terror. He’s a brave, brave soul… Pip’s not been doing very well since he switched to a new brand of insulin a week or two ago, so I am hoping that spending some time at home will help get him on the right track again.

I’m off to finish packing!



Chapter 11: In Which I Have More Adventures In Technology; No Files Are Lost!
July 29, 2010, 5:47 pm
Filed under: Updates

Apparently I was born under an ill-fated, technologically-averse star. My last post detailed the saga of the crashing laptop and subsequent data loss. I quickly replaced said laptop, and thought I was free from computer woes for at least another two years. As ever, life had other plans!

On Saturday night, I was happily watching some obscure BBC miniseries from the 1970s when the computer flashed an error message and froze. No big deal, I thought, as I forced off the power and waited for the laptop to reboot. Except… it didn’t. It never booted ever again! Not in safe mode, not in repair mode, not in start-up repair mode, not in any mode known to computer-kind.

I consulted Jeremy, who, unluckily for him, is my first line of defense in computer-related catastrophes. He gamely came over during his lunch hour on Monday and tried to work his magic. His verdict: there is something seriously weird going on here! He confirmed what I had thought, based on messing about with the Dell diagnostics: there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with the actual hardware, it must be a glitch with the operating system.

The next day, I lugged the laptop back to Best Buy, where I had purchased it a mere 32 days before, where they told me that they could do exactly… NOTHING. Grrrr. At this point, my only option was to call Dell and beg them for system restore discs, which had not come in the box.

Accordingly, I called, and after a looooong time on hold, and several conversations with non-native speakers of English, I was connected to a supervisor who said that he would send out a technician with a brand-new hard drive and memory! FOR FREE!!! Said technician arrived yesterday and installed all-new guts into the laptop. Success!

Luckily, my wonderful friend Stephanie commented on the last post and told me about Dell’s online backup program. Thanks to her, I had been automatically backing up all my documents daily! Therefore, I made it through this bout with technology with all my data intact. It took about 8 hours to restore it, which seemed excessive, but everything is just like it was minutes before the crash!

While I am irked that my new laptop crashed within a month of purchase, I really must give credit to Dell for fixing the issue for free! I called them only expecting to get system restore discs, and instead they replaced all the hardware! I am really relieved that I didn’t have to buy a whole new computer.

So, I really DID learn my lesson this time! My data was backed up, and although the crash was annoying, there are no lasting ramifications. Perhaps I am capable of becoming an adult after all?