Crazy Times

Having computer problems and about to be late for a video appointment, I searched for my technical support, my husband. He was across the street, talking with a neighbor from the end of her driveway.

Surely I’m not the only one who’s ever shouted for all to hear: “I need you to help me with this laptop so I can see my psychiatrist!”

(One) crisis averted

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LaLa, safely back where she belongs, on her perch.

When I awoke Friday morning, a song I’d been singing the night before played inside my head:

I want nothing 
I want nothing 
I want no quid pro quo

This was a months-old political parody from late-night TV or the Internet that used a certain politician’s words as head-banging lyrics. So, yeah, I’d been watching the impeachment hearings. I worry about our country and have spent the past three years participating in democracy as best I can.

But back to my bed. I realized I could hear my husband opening and closing lots of doors and climbing up and down the stairs, from the second floor to the basement. Whaaa? 

I soon learned that our beloved cat, Olive (we call her LaLa), had gone missing. She’s an indoor cat but has been known to occasionally dash out to the closed garage when one of us inadvertently leaves the kitchen door open too long. But she hates the cold, so at such times she always hurries back inside.

Not this time, apparently.

After searching and then closing off rooms in the house where she might be–no easy feat, as we’re empty-nesters with lots of clutter in unused bedrooms–he did a cursory check of the garage and then started on the perimeter of the house while I did my part: freaking out.

He followed the many sets of tracks in the snow, but still no LaLa. A couple of neighbors helped, and again I did my part: making freaked-out phone calls to other neighbors to alert them to the situation and ask them to keep a lookout.

Much later (just before that day’s impeachment hearings began, in fact), my husband did another search of the garage. Hiding under the steps was LaLa.

Whew.

Now, about that country …

 

Tale as Old As Time

My husband and I are lucky enough to live close to a great musical theater in the Chicago suburbs, and we’ve held season tickets for years. But I wasn’t looking forward to seeing “Beauty and the Beast” there yesterday.

For one thing, it’s days from Christmas, and I was smack in the middle of my annual bout with anxiety and guilt about the holiday, feelings that predate my brain injury. (As in “The Grinch,” please don’t ask why; no one quite knows the reason.) I also was overwhelmed and longed for my comforting routines, both of which are well-known TBI traits.

There was also the show itself. “Beauty and the Beast” is family fare, and our former Disney princess is now a city-dwelling career (gasp!) woman.

But as my husband drove us to the theater, I began humming, and then singing lyrics that I thought were stuck somewhere in my brain. I continued as we walked hand in hand from our parking spot a few blocks away:

“Barely even friends, then somebody bends unexpectedly.” 

My husband reminded me that I was singing the title song–and that brought back a beautiful image of my daughter as a toddler, when I used to finish with our own version of the chorus:

“… Beauty and her daddy.”

He also brought back the memory of our little girl’s purple “Belle dress,” a short, sleeveless number that she wore for such a long time that it eventually became the top for leggings! We still have that Belle dress, by the way.

Somehow I managed to keep the waterworks in check … almost.

Then we got to the theater lobby and beheld all the little Belles in their flowing yellow ballgowns. Beauty, indeed! This was definitely the intended audience, so while I was standing around getting all mushy and nostalgic, my husband was looking around for an adult-Belle pair with whom we could swap our front-row/center tickets. We ended up giving a young girl and her grandma a gift, but it was truly a gift for us, too.

The production was wonderful. The most beautiful moment of all came when, after the candlestick Lumiere cries, “Now we’ll never be human!” a little girl’s voice rang out from the rafters. “Yes, you will!” The audience laughed and applauded. (Later in Act 2, a transformed Lumiere offers a brilliant bit of improv: “Zee child was right!”)

All in all, a fabulous day at the theater. Um, except for the seizure/anxiety attack I fought off in Act 1 when Belle was being ridiculed by the townsfolk for being “odd.” As an oddball, that hit too close to home, plus I’ve been tired and stressed and … you know.

Also, as always during curtain calls, I immediately stood to cheer, adding “Bravo!” and “Brava!” as needed and generally making a fool of myself. I just want the performers to know how much I truly appreciate them. This time, though, I felt my husband pull my sweater down over my pants. I asked later and, yes, my underpants had been showing.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

Flushing Mr. Hanky

Anybody remember that seasonal “South Park” character Mr. Hanky, the talking, er, poo with the Santa hat that would show up and say, “Hidey-ho!” or something like that?

Well, that’s what I felt like had been left in my Christmas stocking in recent days. One turn of misfortune after another had left me full of self-pity. First I learned I would need yet another root canal on one of the teeth that was cracked in the 2008 car crash that led to my brain injury. (But thanks to that TBI, I’d been able to smell that something was up when I flossed.)

Then that night, while flossing as I sat on the bed, something fell in my lap: the crown over yet another tooth. Hidey-ho! And this same thing had happened to me months before while I brushed my teeth over the sink. This was a different front crown, I forget which, but I’ll never forget what my mouth looked like. The horror, the horror!

So wah-wah, poor me.

My husband took care of everything, getting me an appointment today for the crown replacement (I was going to keep my mouth shut until Monday, when I get root-canaled) and explaining that my anti-seizure drug tends to weaken teeth and bones.

He then drove me to a yoga class, which he knows works like magic for my outlook.

Bad teeth … bah! I’m alive, I’ve got family and friends who love me and it’s Christmastime.

Down the drain, Mr. Hanky! (Well, not the cartoon character; he’s hilarious.)

Free Piano Lesson With Brain Tune-Up

Howdy, folks! I just got my electrodes unglued after spending a few days looking (and possibly acting) like Gollum of “Lord of the Rings.”

This week was my annual at-home EEG. I still have what I call “invisible” seizures, even though they’re not the convulsive kind, and only very rarely do I get an “aura,” the feeling that one might be coming on. Even those sensations, I’m told, could be anxiety attacks.

ANXIETY??? WHAT’S THERE TO BE ANXIOUS ABOUT THESE DAYS???!!!

Ahem. Anyway, this time I was monitored around the clock by video, so that any time something weird showed up in my brain waves, my neurologist would be able to match it with my facial expression, especially my eyes. I also kept a log of my activities. (I figured that “writing in my log of activities” didn’t count as an activity.)

I had to limit myself to areas where the camera could see, so during the day we kept the tripod-supported device on the kitchen table, rotating it as necessary. In the evenings it would be in the living room, showing the folks at Neurotech that we eat dinner on the couch in front of the TV. Then up it would go to watch me read and sleep. Bathrooms were off-limits, camera-wise.

Michael, a former Army medic who works for the home EEG-monitoring company Neurotech, got my head hooked up. As he expertly performed my “reverse makeover,” I couldn’t help but notice the awesome eagle tattoo on his forearm. He’d served in Afghanistan and is still in the Reserves.

We talked about the vets I’d met as a volunteer yoga instructor at the local Veterans Center — from Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.  I also told him about how my dad joined the Navy in World War II even though he was underage and now keeps his own awesome (anchor) tats covered with his sleeves.

It turns out both Michael and I had taken only a bit of piano lessons long ago and mostly liked to teach ourselves. I have a stash of songs deep in my brain that my fingers know how to play with only a little practice, but sight-reading is a challenge.

He taught me the correct finger positions for playing a C scale with the left and right hands simultaneously. Elementary stuff, but I’m still working on it, as well as other scales. He also taught me some chord progressions that have led to aha! moments for me musically in the past couple of days.

So thank you, Michael of Neurotech, for your service to the country and also to my brain.

I’m Back

Singing country crooner Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” in the shower probably isn’t the best way to perk yourself up when you’re feeling out of sorts, especially if the fear that you are crazy is what has you “feelin’ so blue.” Still, I love that song, and I love singing, so …

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Patsy Cline

The problem was the song wouldn’t get out of my head.

So I turned to my own personal channel-changer: my brain. “This song is depressing,” I thought at it. “Give me a better one.” (Music works like that for me.)

Immediately, I heard a familiar quick-chiming guitar riff.

“Hahaha! ‘The Bitch Is Back’!’

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Sir Elton John