Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A New First

I had my first ER trip as a mama this passed week.  Luckily, it wasn’t anything extremely serious.
Wesley battled a fever for most of last week.  I’m generally a non-alarmist when it comes to fevers.  Fevers are a body’s way of fighting an infection, and a low grade/medium fever is better left alone so that it can do its job.  I tried to give Wesley Tylenol at night, so that he would be more comfortable in sleeping, but the kid just pukes up medicine.  Notice I said, pukes up.  He doesn’t spit it out.  He doesn’t spit it up.  He full on heaves and vomits it out of his body.  Its unpleasant for everyone.
ANYWAY, non-alarmist that I am, Friday morning when the fever spiked to 103.5 and he was dry heaving for no good reason…  that was my limit.  I would’ve called a doctor first, but since I haven’t picked one here (I’m dreading it for reasons I won’t get into now) I just opted to go straight to the ER.
Turns out he had a pretty bad ear infection.  Which, really, is something else I’m generally a non-alarmist about.  I’m don’t think John has ever had an ear infection.  But, since I don’t investigate most fevers, and I know that most ear infections resolve themselves without help, I can’t really say for sure.  (John had a really bad fever that we investigated once [104.something], but he just had a virus then.  And it required no medication.  He’s never had antibiotics.) 
So, here I was at the ER with my baby having a fever and ear infection and feeling kinda silly that I was there.  The doctor suggested antibiotics.  I’m not a fan of antibiotics.  I don’t hate them or think they’re evil, per se.  I just think they are overused which makes us worse off in the long run.  But, I know that they have their place, and modern medicine is super.  I was just hesitant to give them to Wesley if he didn’t really need them.  I think they are best saved for when they are really needed so that they will be more effective.  I suggested to the doctor that since most ear infections resolve on their own, maybe he wouldn’t need them.  (I was very polite.)  She pointed out that he’d had the fever for days, and instead of getting better it was getting worse.  We discussed this at length.
In the end, I conceded that this was a potential problem.  And then we were faced with the problem of administering the medication (see paragraph B).  If I find it necessary to give my child an antibiotic I’d prefer to give a 10 day dose, because it’s the most low key and non invasive way to go (even though it lasts for 10 days.)  However, with antibiotic its vitally important to receive the full dose to prevent further (and worse) infection.  So, what was I gonna do if he puked it up?  What if he really only got it half the time?  What if he didn’t get any at all?  So, I consented to do something that before last Friday I probably would have told you I’d never do.  I let them give him the one time antibiotic shot.
In the end, I’m glad I did.  Within the next 24 hours he returned to his normal happy self.  The antibiotic comes with its own unpleasant side effects, but he didn’t seem to mind any of that as much as he minded being in constant pain on the left side of his head. 
This whole experience has made me think of mothering.com.  I sometimes go to the forums on that site to amuse myself.  Have you been?  Many of the women posting there are…  well, fanatics if I want to put it politely.  Its not that I am opposed to all of their views – many of them I agree with to some extent.  Most of them, even.  What amuses me most about reading in those forums is how incredibly pious and proud these women are of their own parenting styles.  9 billion people in the world and this relatively small group of women have figured out what’s best for all of us, folks.   THEY are doing it right.
I remember reading there once about some women who were so opposed to antibiotic/medical treatment that they were just letting their babies have raging fevers for days.  Awesome, right?  And they were all so proud of themselves for letting their babies’ bodies heal the way human bodies always have.  That’s the part that made me laugh.  When they say “the way human bodies always have” do they mean back when life expectancy was 40 years and the infant mortality rate was 30%?  Or do they mean even further back to when life expectancy was 25 years and the infant mortality rate was 50%?  Hard to say really.
Wesley is fine now. 
That is all.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Give Away

I'm not usually into giveaways, but when they involve books?  Yes, please.  Besides, I love this blog:


Win a book!  (Or don't, so that I can.)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

It had to be done.

I’m going to miss his locks, but they were getting thick.  He was kinda miserable in the summer heat.
He looks so grown up, yeah?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

William says, "Finally, the promised follow-up."

Over a year ago, Leah Marie wrote a post about the devastating effects of wolves in sheep's clothing, that is, "friends" who turn out to be "bastard coated bastards with bastard filling" (quote courtesy of Scrubs). You may want to read that post if you want this one to make more sense. I'll give you a few minutes . . . . . . . . . . . .

Okay, ready? Here we go. The deterioration of the friendship I had with John and Brian began with a highly inappropriate comment John made on a Facebook post Leah Marie had made. Leah Marie could simply have deleted the comment, but knowing (well, thinking) that John was a reasonable guy, who always welcomed correction; that is, he wanted to know when he had offended so that he could do the right thing, which I should say, he often did. John, despite his self-admitted love of gossip, had a very compassionate and caring side. Unfortunately, I ended up finding out the hard way (sorry about the cliché) that such compassion was not reserved for everyone, even for some he had proclaimed were close friends. Anyway, Leah Marie commented on the inappropriate nature of John's comment, and he just didn't get it. The funny thing is that he would later confess to me that he realized in the moment that he posted it that it was inappropriate. However, he chose, in that moment, to treat it as something superficial and as an opportunity to play out a childish game in which Brian participated heavily.

John made fun of Leah Marie's comment in which she pointed out the inappropriateness of his comment. But it didn't end there, he and Brian proceeded to make fun of Leah Marie's comment in many comments they posted about other things on Facebook for the next several days. When I stepped in to put a stop to it, they continued their childish mocking with my comments as well. What kind of friend does that, completely ignores the concerns of a close friend while simultaneously mocking and making fun of them? I immediately sought to distance myself from that toxicity.

The three of us would meet once a month for breakfast to air out or vent all of our concerns and problems from the previous month. Just three friends who used the others as sounding boards. It was great, and I looked forward to it every month. The monthly meeting (which used to be a lunch) was meant to be open for all who wanted to attend (the invitation extended mainly to other men in our ward [church congregation]). However, others rarely attended. John, Brian, and I were the mainstays, the staples to this great gathering. A few others eventually began to regularly attend, and some brought a dynamic that I did not appreciate. In fact, many of those breakfasts turned into an opportunity to unload on others, who were not present, all under the guise of a man's need to vent to friends, an outlet for his sanity. I felt that things were going a little to far, becoming too much "backbiting," and I even voiced my concerns to John, who whole-heartedly agreed, and, for a time, it was not as bad.

In the course of Brian and John mocking me and my wife, I decided I needed a break (at the least) from those two, so when the email circulated to remind attendees of the upcoming breakfast, I emailed back that I was opting out. More specifically, I said I would not be able to make it. My wording was clearly and intentionally curt, but simply a statement that I was not going to attend. Brian and John both caught on in an instant. Guilty conscience? What interested me most was the way each man responded. John immediately emailed me a heartfelt plea, which showed genuine concern for our friendship, and he wanted to meet as soon as possible to work out what ever the issue might be. I appreciated the email and immediately set up a time to meet John and explain what my concerns were. Brian's email was completely different. It was extremely defensive, and in some ways it was an assault. It included phrases completely out of left field but clearly a reaction founded in a conscience that was well aware of wrongdoing. It was bitter and extremely combative, including phrases similar to the following, "I guess if you don't want to be my friend any more, fine!" That is of course a dramatization, but the tone and language is almost dead on. I was right to delete that email, but part of me wishes I would have saved it in order to reproduce it here.

I must interject to explain something. Brian's email, in many ways, did not surprise me. The kind, loving, service-oriented, dedicated, compassionate man that every one knew, the one that initially drew me to the friendship we shared, was not the only Brian (I am using the past tense because I hope that it is in the past. Unlike Javert, I believe in man's power to change himself. So, hopefully, Brian has changed.) When Brian and I used to hang out together, it was great. We shared so many interests, especially a love of sports, but Brian also seemed like a genuine person, something I have always appreciated. I could see in him a genuine concern for others. And he always put on an appropriate level of social decorum. The first time I saw the other Brian, it was very off-putting. I have always had a problem with people who act like completely different around other people. This new Brian swore, flipped people off, and was quick to speak ill of others. He had attitude, and I mean that in the pejorative sense. I dealt with it, and soon I became desensitized to his obnoxious behavior. I know, I know, some of you are probably saying that I am being judgmental and that I should love people for who they are and not who I think they are or who I think they should be. I never disliked Brian; I disliked his actions, his behavior, his attitude, and, ultimately, the way he treated our friendship, beginning with that harsh email that was in response to my email that simply said I would not be able to make it to breakfast.

John and I met, and I aired my concerns. He was quick to apologize, and we were close friends again. He also made a heartfelt apology to Leah Marie. I really appreciated that about John, and I thought that a friendship that could weather such a storm was a true friendship indeed. Why do I care? Because I need people in my life; it's part of my character, part of my personality. For me, there is nothing better than a close friend who I can talk to about anything, someone like a brother. Oh, I love my family, and consider my wife my best friend. But all need more in life. The social aspect is so important; even the most introverted men and women need at least one good friend.

I finally emailed Brian and aired my concerns to him. Then he apologized, profusely, and made me think that our friendship was just as salvageable, but I must admit, I could not stop thinking about his initial reaction. And I continued to toil over whether I really wanted someone like that in my life.

I attended that month's breakfast, and had a dandy time, but I must say that things between me and Brian were never the same. I almost always felt some level of tension between us, and I blame the email (its contents and attitude because that attitude still belonged to the author of that email). John and I seemed even closer, and we often met on Saturday mornings for a walk, during which we could talk to each other about anything.

At some point, the craziness of life took over, and even John and I hung out less. He and I were each writing a dissertation and helping take care of our own baby. My baby, John, was not a good sleeper, and Leah Marie and I soon sank into bitter depression. Life was stressful enough, and with severe sleep deprivation, we sank fast. Our church attendance dwindled, and I completely lost all desires even to be in the presence of others, let alone hang out with any friends. We became reclusive and sought opportunities to distance ourselves from everyone. It had nothing to do with other people. We would come to realize that, psychologically, we were in great need. So I stopped attending the monthly breakfasts and also the weekly lunches that Brian sponsored. Again, I simply felt unmotivated by life in general, and especially anything social, classic signs of depression.

Leah Marie and I often forced ourselves to get out because we knew it was better for us than to stay shut up all the time. We especially knew that it was good for John (our son), so we dressed him up like a pirate and took him to the church trunk-or-treat to celebrate his first Halloween in October 2009. My friend John was there, and we took the time to talk for a few minutes. He had clearly noticed how withdrawn I had become, and he extended a much appreciated and much needed hand of friendship. I explained what was going on, and he asked whether it was depression. I told him that I suspected it was, and he apologized for prying. To me, there was no apology needed. That is what true friendship is, asking probing questions, even if they are uncomfortable, even if they seem invasive in order to take a friend's temperature, to see how he or she is doing, especially when you notice that something is amiss. So I appreciated it, and I told him as much, and I welcomed future prying, which he promised to do. I truly believe that what I needed most at that time was a good friend to keep me engaged. Sadly, John was not that friend. Neither was Brian.

I have no idea what happened after that, but both "friends" kept their distance, in person, and in the online communities that we shared. It didn't take long for me to start seeing that their mocking comments had returned on Facebook, which made me question the authenticity of their apologies. Any attempt I made to address those comments only gave them fuel for additional mocking. I stopped receiving emails about the monthly breakfasts, and when I did notice them talking about it on Facebook and tried to engage, they completely ignored me. See, I wanted my friends; I needed my friends, but every attempt I made to reach out in an effort to pull myself out of depression met with, at best, disinterest. What hurt the most was that John knew exactly what I was going through. I had explained the situation to him, and he himself had guessed that I was experiencing depression. He had even agreed to keep "checking" on me (prying into my life), but after that conversation, everything changed, and in my time of greatest need, when I needed friends more than I had ever needed a friend in my life, my two closest friends abandoned me for the sake of mocking me and my wife continuously on Facebook. To be fair, their mocking was not exclusive. They mocked many, many people, but I never saw them do so to others they considered close friends. Why they chose to do so with such abandon, especially when I was in most need of a friend, I will never know.

Since then, to this day, I have had no close friends, or at least none that close. In fact, I believe that I can honestly say I have never had a friendship as close as the friendship I thought John and I shared. He seemed like he was always there for me, especially when I needed him the most. However, I didn't realize that that need was far from being tested, and when depression took me, I had no where to turn but inward.

I don't blame John and Brian for my depression, in case anyone has misunderstood the intent of the blog post. I'm am simply saying that I needed a friend, and no one came around to check on me. No one.

I meant to write this follow-up shortly after Leah Marie's blog post of the same subject because I felt it was necessary to offer my side of the story. And that is all that this is, my side of the story. I have offered no speculations, but I have explained what I saw, heard, felt, etc. Basically, I have given my experience as I knew it. So, why bother to write this follow-up over a year later? Surely, time heals all wounds. Well, I have, for the most part, learned how to deal with the depression. But every time I think about how I have no "close" friends, and certainly I have none geographically close, I think about that experience. So it's still with me, and it probably will be for a long time.


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