Monthly Archives: August 2009

Happy Homecoming

We had a fantastic day on the road today. We experienced little heavy traffic, avoided any and all foul weather, and got from Hammond, IN to Saint Paul in LESS than eight hours. That includes two pit stops (one of which was also a re-fueling stop) and an hour long lunch at the Norske Nook in Osseo, WI. My wife did a bulk of the driving, but I also took a shift. While it taxed me, I handled the situations and my mood better than I did yesterday.

I drove from just across the Wisconsin and Illinois border until the first Dells exit. It turned out to be more than we had planned on me driving, but part of that was how frazzled I was at the end. Most of the stretch was good, but traffic got boggy around Madison (which frustrated me again). I also struggled with the argument that my wife and daughter had around the same time. My daughter is amazing, but she is also twelve (soon to be thirteen). She has a HUGE heart, but is prone to defensiveness whenever she is forced to confront uncomfortable issues. My wife was suggesting that our daughter start practicing her trombone soon. That did not go over well, and the ensuing conflict resulted in our daughter (once again) being disrespectful to my wife. I did not explode, but I wanted to do so. I fumed about it, though, which made my wife nervous. To her credit, she gave me space (and encouraged our daughter to do the same). My wife also confronted our daughter about the disrespectful language – in a calm and appropriate way. While I did wind up pushing 20 miles farther than I had initially planned (due to a cruddy set of circumstances – poor lane changing and an unhelpful exit configuration), we all stayed grounded.

Other than that one moment, the rest of the trip was fairly low key. All three of us were thrilled to get home, but also had a blast on vacation. I truly can’t remember another trip that ended this well. My wife and I both got some work done tonight, and we created a rough plan for the week. She needs to get a presentation planned, so she is likely going into her office tomorrow even though she took the day “off.” I am hoping to get one or two small things done around the house, but I am making a conscious effort to keep Monday and Tuesday light because I know I need to recover from the trip, particularly the realities of spending two long days in the car. Our daughter was scheming plans for herself three days ago. She even went to a friend’s house tonight. I am looking forward to spend a least two or three days with her during the next two weeks. It should be fun to “goof off” with her even as I get myself into school mode.


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Filed under Blessings, Driving, Family, Friends, Gratitude, Honesty, Hope, Humor, Joy, Marriage, Narcolepsy, Parenting, Sharing, Travel

Travel Tension

>On the whole, today has been great, but as was the case on the way down to Tennessee, narcolepsy did choose some choice moments to rear its ugly head. In an attempt to create a smooth departure this morning, we all packed last night. Ironically, that effort paid off for us (those things usually backfire in some way). We were on the road by 6:25 AM – a significant improvement from a week ago Friday (when our 6 AM departure turned into 8 AM). My wife was on edge as we left, but I knew that she was definitely sick still, and her angst quickly passed.

The problem, though, was that due to my wife’s illness I needed to drive more than I had on the way down. I took my first driving shift right after we entered Kentucky. I managed to get us passed Lexington, which was over 100 miles of our trip. I drove for nearly an hour and a half. Unfortunately, I found myself in heavier traffic toward the end of that time (no doubt due to passing through Lexington). Still, I handled things well, but I could feel some tension building. My wife definitely gets worried as I begin to fade behind the wheel. Still, I was pleased that I drove that far and helped out that much.

Because it was so early, we continued to push on. My wife drove us into Indiana. We finally stopped for lunch at this great little restaurant in Scottsburg (Jeeves & Company). Our lunch was wonderful, and I took my second dose of amphetamine right after we ate. My wife definitely needed me to drive again. I knew that I was already exhausted, even with the stimulant, but felt I had no other choice. Thus, I got behind the wheel and knew that I would be fine in terms of safety. The problem was that driving would take all of my energy. My wife dozed during some of the time, but she woke up as we began approaching Indianapolis. Like Lexington, traffic began to get dicey as we approached the metropolitan area. Finally, a truck cut into the left lane (at 65 mph) when the car in front of me and I were both moving at 80 mph. Needless to say, I was furious. I then drove through the next 30 to 40 miles in rapid, lane-shifting traffic. I wanted to get us around Indianapolis before switching. But, the speed and my bad mood made my wife more and more anxious.

When we finally reached an exit that would allow us to switch, I was attempting to explain my awful mood to my wife. Sadly, the gas station we wanted to reach was not immediately at the exit, AND the bottom of the ramp was incredibly confusing. I did make the correct decision, but had no way to know that at the time. Because every ounce of energy that I had was going into keeping the car on the road safely, I derided myself for the rotten signage. This only upset my wife more. After the mile had almost passed, we were approaching a different interstate and could not see the gas station. Because I was so far gone, I cut my wife off as she was attempting to “help” me. I plead with her to say nothing and to let me figure out how to find the gas station. Seconds later, I spotted it just passed the other interstate, but she also saw it and chose to let me know where it was. That definitely sent me into a tailspin.

I got us to the station, and we snapped at each other about the situation. We soon reconciled, but as I got out right after the initial exchange, I was literally shaking aas I was pumping the gas. I had nothing left from the driving. In fact, I nearly exploded when the pump failed to print my receipt. Fortunately, my wife had already apologized to me. I managed to walk (or stomp) inside and nicely ask for a copy. I then apologized to my wife and again attempted to explain how hard such a situation is for me. It drives me nuts that my energy is so limited in moments like that. I truly did not have the ability to interact with her (or myself) civilly because I needed all of my mental accuity to keep us safe in the car. That is crazy, but it is also reality.

Fortunately, my wife and I are exceptional at sharing, listening, and forgiving. I know that she meant well, and she knows that I truly did not try to upset her. She also appreciates that I did much more of the driving today. She still did the majority, but I did drive for over 3 hours and handled over 200 of our miles. Narcolepsy will certainly continue to be a bane – in my travels, in my marriage, in my life. But, I must simply continue to accept what it gives me and make the best of each day. Gratefully, we got to our hotel by 3 PM and have had a slow evening to gather strength for tomorrow. We are all excited to get home. I hope that tomorrow goes well and that my narcolepsy lets me have enough strength to drive and to be kind even when the roads are tense.


Filed under Anger, Driving, Emotions, Exhaustion, Family, Frustration, Honesty, Humility, Love, Marriage, Narcolepsy, Stupidity, Travel

Craft Craze

I had an excellent time today going to look at crafters. Unfortunately, my wife was too ill to join us, so my daughter and I ventured out alone. We needed to exchange a shirt at the aquarium first, which was also an excuse for my daughter to get an awesome funnel cake (it looked like a pound of powdered sugar!). Then, we headed east for the eight mile artisan loop. Since it was hot, we knew that we could not go to many places, but we did check out a few shops.

The woodwork and art that we found blew my mind. I am glad that we made the trip because I will now push harder to make it a priority the next time that we come here. Gatlinburg has amazing talent in this eight mile loop. We did make a few purchases, but I was tempted to get far more. Wisely, I realized that my wife would need to okay the larger purchases. It simply means that we need to return here again.

The best part of the day, though, was simply getting out. My sinuses definitely seemed to be better today. I felt good being more alert and having the chance to connect with my daughter. I continue to worry that narcolepsy will prevent me from knowing as well as I might. Gratefully, days like today remind me that I can find windows. I am excited to head home, but feel like I had a great vacation in spite of my medical woes. We have already packed most of our stuff, allowing us to plan for a 6 AM departure. I hope that I can be ready since I was the delay on both days of our driving down here. Tomorrow is definitely the “longer” day, but we should hit our worst stretch (Pigeon Forge – 5 miles in one hour) before anyone else is actually awake. We will stay in northern Indiana again, but booked a hotel slightly closer to Chicago. I like that I am ending this trip on an upbeat note. That has not been my previous experience very often.

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Filed under Balance, Driving, Excitement, Family, Gratitude, Illness, Marriage, Narcolepsy, Parenting, Relationships, Sinuses, Travel

Slow Startup

Today is our last day in Tennessee. We will rise early tomorrow and hit the road. While I am not looking forward to two days in a car, I am looking forward to getting back home. I feel good that I still have two weeks before I am back at school. I have oodles of things to do – at home and for school, but I will continue to approach them at the pace that I can handle. Today definitely feels similar to that. My wife went on a driving loop last night by herself. She enjoyed it immensely, but came home even sicker than she was. Thus, I am the only one up this morning. Hopefully, we will still try to visit some of the craft shops today, but I love that we can have such a relaxed start to our “final day.” Far too often, a day like this is treated frenetically, cramming in activities for each waking moment. Instead, we will take in what we can and simply appreciate the chance to spend time together.

I find myself grateful for the many opportunities to slow down my life and expectations. My brain continues to push me, but I am getting better at letting go. I am even able to appreciate the fleeting moments when I do achieve a level of balance. Those moments are not nearly as frequent as I would like, but the fact that success brings joy rather than regret is a huge improvement. For years, a moment of serenity would bring angst rather than relief. I would berate myself for my inability to “feel serene” more often – how screwed up is that? Thus, I am highly content to lounge this morning, at peace with my upbeat outlook.

That said, I do need to find a bit more structure to my days when I get back home. The start of school is still three weeks away, but I need to begin adapting my schedule and routine now, since I know that a radical shift will not sit well with my brain or physical health. I also need to find a physical routine. The hiking and rafting has been great, but my body hurts all over as a result. More than anything else, I need to strengthen my knees. They are hurting constantly these days. I must spend some time over the next three weeks to get them ready for standing frequently during the school day. If I don’t, it will be a LONG year. I find juggling exercise, my family, my sanity, and my job one of the most frustrating aspects of narcolepsy. All of them take energy from me, but all of them are vitally necessary.

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Filed under Balance, Emotions, Exercise, Family, Gratitude, Honesty, Marriage, Narcolepsy, Parenting, Wisdom

Internet Interruption

I love that I am constantly learning new things about myself. While a portion of that statement is facetious, I do like that I am open enough to recognize important factors about my mental and physical health. So, we are on vacation. Gatlinburg has been great, but my sinuses has not. I am also furious that my resort DOES offer an internet connection, but for a fee. I realized this after returning from McDonald’s on Sunday. My rage only increased when I learned that the resort’s internet is provided by Wayport. While Wayport has been around for a while, apparently the company is now owned by AT&T. The irony is that I am supposed to be able to connect to AT&T wifi because of my own internet connection at home. In fact, I used the Wayport connection at McDonald’s! I finally caved in and paid for 24 hours on our room connection. I needed to do that.

My health woes have made for a long week, but it has also been hard because I don’t do well when I have “unstructured” time. We have done some hiking, gone white water rafting, and visited the Aquarium of the Smokies. Those activities have been awesome. Unfortunately, those things drained me (because I have narcolepsy) and left me sitting around our townhouse at the resort. When I don’t have ways to distract myself, I tend to get stuck in my own head. To avoid that I have watched a ridiculous amount of TV. I would have done far more productive things had I had an internet connection, but that was not possible. I also knew that trying to DO other things would be a disaster, since my limited excursions have left me wiped out. That might be the most frustrating aspect of this. This trip is the first long one that we have taken since I have begun to figure out how to live effectively with my narcolepsy. Unfortunately, I was not prepared for it. The lack of the internet connection, coupled with how much two LONG days in the car took out of me, has made it difficult for me to be upbeat. I also know that I am bring down the moods of my wife and my daughter. We are having fun, but my limited participation certainly impacts them.

I am now in hour 30 of a killer sinus headache too. It improves at times, but on the whole, the dull and constant pain in my left temple is getting old (to say the least). I skipped the hike this morning in hopes that I would feel better, but it made no difference. I am also afraid that I will get worse when we spend two days in the car driving home. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a good day. We plan to visit some of the shops on the craft circle – an eight mile loop of various artisans. It should be a blast, but all of us are under the weather. We certainly will not push ourselves, but it is definitely a burden on my wife. She clearly has a cold, but is trying to pick up my slack. I am doing my best to stay positive and engage with my wife and daughter, but there is only so much that my body can give. I will attempt to keep smiling and give everything that I can!

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Filed under Exhaustion, Family, Frustration, Illness, Love, Marriage, Narcolepsy, Parenting, Relationships, Travel

Wild (weird) Week

I am struggling to believe that I went aq week without posting. Sadly, that is in fact the reality, though. I found myself overwhelmed by meetings and events for most of the past week, and on Friday morning we departed on our trip. The strategic planning meetings on Monday and Tuesday were incredible, but they overwhelmed my body on Wednesday. I did still manage to get some housework and yard work done, though. Unfortunately, that effort coupled with more meetings and errands on Thursday left me FAR behind in my trip preparations. I stumbled out of our office on Thursday night around 11 PM, took one dose of Xyrem, and knew that I would need to get up as early as possible without a second one because I still had far too much to do. It was also the second night in a row with a solo dose.

I did manage to get up between 4:30 and 5 AM, but I still delayed our departure by nearly an hour and a half. Fortunately, my wife and daughter remained calm. I did do some driving (about an hour and a half in the middle of that leg), but it wiped me out. We also got stuck in ridiculous traffic around Chicago. Being the car so long and the fact that I was baking on my side of the car left me with a horrific headache. Fortunately, my wife and daughter still went and enjoyed the dunes on Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, I was unable to awaken for my second dose that night, thus it was three nights with only one dose of Xyrem. The trip from northern Indiana to Tennessee was even longer than Friday’s drive. Again, my wife did a bulk of the driving, but I again took a 1.5 hour section in the middle. I was fading badly at the end, and we wound up snapping at each other, but reconciled over lunch. The worst part of the trip came at the end. After 550 miles of driving, we spent nearly two hours covering the final 30 miles because traffic into Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN is so awful. Again, I was shot and baking.

I did get an okay sleep last night, but am also frustrated because our resort only has ONE internet computer available for guests. At some of their other resorts, they at least make wifi available in the lobby of the clubhouse, but at this one they CHARGE for it! So, I am sitting in the parking lot of a McDonald’s using my new Qwest WiFi (available through AT&T). Of course, it took forever to make the connection work right, so I am only going to get a couple of chances to write on my blog. Worse, I truly had hoped to do a little work while I was here. Hopefully, I will work something out. I certainly plan to enjoy our vacation, but this is the first long trip that we have taken with me trying to cope honestly with my narcolepsy. I functioned poorly today (at best). We are going hiking tomorrow and rafting on Tuesday. While I am excited about those activities, I am also worried that I will be unable to do much else. I know that will frustrate my wife and daughter. We will see what tomorrow brings, though. I need to run now. I need to get gas for our car and to get groceries.


Filed under Balance, Chores, Depression, Driving, Exhaustion, Family, Fear, Frustration, Honesty, Loss, Narcolepsy, Relationships