Big Boys & Little Joy: What’s Up, Doc?

With the arrival of our first child looming over the horizon, Jess and I found ourselves wondering aloud how our lives would be transformed once we brought Seby home. I will say that there were a lot of naive fantasies being shared between the two of us. I, for example, kept picturing for myself all these images of us having an idyllic  family life, not unlike the kinds you see in commercials, where everybody is smiling,  sharing lots of laughs, and hugging at all times as if their lives where dependent on it. You can’t blame a cynic for wanting his life to be a bit more picturesque; I just wanted something different that I had experienced as a kid. We foresaw frequent  trips to the Brookfield zoo, long walks parading our son and his his two fuzzy sisters, Pixie and Dory, through the neighborhood, and stops at the local ice cream shop for a shared tasty treat or two. We imagined big family gatherings, vacations to Disney World, and birthday parties filled with more presents for our son than we would know what do with. Jess especially enjoyed teasing me with the idea of her Mexican family buying our son a few Tex-Mex cowboy suits, with matching boots and cowboy hat. Naturally, the thought of Seby dressed like a miniature member of a Mexican Banda horrified me. So I would counter her terrifying scenario by painting a picture of her nightmare, which was that of our son wearing some ghetto fab outfit , with matching sideways New York Knicks cap and do-rag.  Off course we were both being silly about it. Imagining your life with your unborn kid is one of the few things that is fun when you and your partner are expecting. And yes I know we where being a bit too idealistic for our own good, but we were excited, and we were already madly in love with our unborn child, so we just couldn’t help ourselves. However our excitement was blinding us to the actual realities that came with raising a child, how it would alter the life that we had grown quite accustomed too, and more importantly, how Jess and I would view each other.

I won out. i got Seby living the thug-life.
I won out. I got Seby living the Thug-Life.

Let’s flash forward two two weeks after our son Sebastian was born. My wife and I  had brought in Seby for his first initial checkup post his release from the hospital. Jess was holding our son in her arms as   we sat patiently in the pediatricians office, waiting for the Doc to make an overdue appearance. Jess took  this rare moment of relative downtime to play with our son. She cooed and hugged him and gave him the occasional tender kiss on his chubby cheeks. She was going on and on about how cute she thought Seby was and she repeatedly told him how much she loved him. I sat back quietly and took in the site of their shared interaction. It was a tender moment between mother and son. It was probably the happiest I had seen Jess since she was released from the Hospital a week earlier. Things around the house where different since we brought our little man home, which was something that we had naturally expected; but the reality had turned out  different that what I had envisioned. There wasn’t that overwhelming sense of Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy  flowing through the house as we had fantasized in conversation. Not that we weren’t overjoyed about having our son home, mind you, but there was a certain level of stress that made it difficult for us to just appreciate the moment for all that it was worth. There was the financial crunch that we were feeling from all the medical bills. Jessies was frustrated over still being limited to what she could do physically as her abdomen healed from the performed C-section.  Emotionally, Jess was working through some issues too. She hadn’t quite been herself since getting back home from the hospital. Looking back now I see that there was this underlying sadness that spilled into everything she did during those first few week that Seby was home. And I had failed to see all the signs because I had my head to far up my own ass dealing with my own emotional hangups.

 

Jess and I heard a gentle knocked before  a smiling face peeked through the door. The face belonged to Seby’s Pediatrician, a very pleasant, middle aged Filipino gentleman with a naturally jovial demeanor. He apologized for the unusually long wait while giving us this look that simply said “Oh well, what can you do”.  The doc wore a bleach white lab coat with the customary stethoscope that hung loosely around his neck. The darkly tanned gentleman had a not so recently shaved head that kinda reminded me of a fuzzy kiwi. As our baby’s pediatrician  went through the usual introductory spiel that I’m sure he gave all his new patient’s parents I couldn’t help but notice that his mannerisms, and manner of speaking, was what I best would describe as slightly effeminate. I suddenly couldn’t help picture John Leguizamo in “To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar”.

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After exchanging pleasantries with the Doc, he asked us to bring the baby over to the examining table. I stood up and took little Seby from Jesse’s arms and brought our little man over to him. The pediatrician  took a quick look at Seby’s face, placed both hands on his own cheeks and said “Well hello my little Gerber baby.” We were all in agreement, Seby is a remarkably cute child. Ever since he was born, it seemed to us, that all that the nurses in the Labor and Delivery ward could do was compliment us on how cute our little runt was. And they weren’t saying it in a patronizing manner either. The compliments always felt genuine and heartfelt. I looked over to Jess and we exchanged smiles.

The doc proceeded to run our son through your typical run of the mill check up. He shone a light in my sons eyes, then he took a peek at both his ears, and then he takes a good listen to little Seby’s lungs with his stethoscope. This is when things took a twist for the odd.  The doc says “ lets remove his diaper to check his little parts.” I unstrapped the diaper and remove it off my son, and then, and I shit you not, I see a goofy smile come across the mans face as he looks over to me and proclaims, “Oh my goodness papa, your boy here is very blessed.” I couldn’t help but laugh a little. That was not exactly what I was expecting to hear hear from our pediatrician. The doc then apparently felt the need to direct the complement directly at little Seby, “Why look at you. My little Gerber baby. Arent you a blessed little boy. You will be impressing someone when you are grown up.” I look down at my little naked son who was blissfully unaware that he was, or at least his member was, being complimented so thoroughly. The doc then walk over to the cabinet, pulls out one of those little tape measures that all newborn parents seem to have laying around the house, and proceeded to measure my sons penis. I looked over at Jess again and gave her a half smiling, have confused look that basically was asking if this was all copacetic. Jess smiles and shrugs her shoulders as if to say “don’t ask me.” The doc looks up at me after measuring the family jewels and tells me “He is well above the average Papa, you should be proud.” I nodded yes, but what I was really thinking was why should I feel proud, it wasn’t like it was my Johnson that we were all marveling at here.

Once the doc got tired of praising my sons manhood, he gave me to the ok to put Seby’s clothe back on, and then had me sit down next to the wifey. He wanted to take a moment to see how we were handling having Seby home, and give us a quick run through of what we might come to expect during the coming weeks. He looked over at Jess and in his best, concerned doctor voice, asked her how she was feeling. Jess naturally lied. She told him that she was a little pained, but overall she was in good spirits. I off course was in no place to call her on her bullshit because I hadn’t yet noticed that she wasn’t in a good frame of mind. He flashed another, genuinely friendly, smile and simply said how happy he was to hear it. But he still felt compelled to add “just remember your body went through a lot. Sometimes mom’s get down after pregnancy. Postpartum depression is perfectly normal, so its important that you and Papa here keep an eye out for the signs.”

If Jess had been inclined to be a bit more open about her feeling she might have chosen to use that opportunity to voice how overwhelmed she had been feeling since she had left the hospital. She might have, with tears streaming down from her eyes, confessed how the the 51 hours of delivery and the nearly one week in the hospital had taken a physical toll on her body that no amount of reading material and motherly advice could have prepared her for. It’s funny that I’ve never had to much of a problem getting my friends, and even strangers to open up to me about stuff that they wouldn’t normally talk about with anyone else, and yet with my own wife that had never really come easy. We’ve been together 12 years now and yet there are times that I feel I am totally clueless about what is going on in her head. She will smile and joke, and she can be short and moody, but I find it increasingly difficult to decipher what exactly is driving her moods, because she has never been particularly open about her feeling; not with her family, not her friends, and not even with me. This is partially why I couldn’t read how guilty she was feeling about being unable to get herself to feel utterly happy about giving  birth to the perfectly healthy and beautiful baby boy that she was now holding in her arms. So Jess, being her typical self, simply looked at the doc, nodded her head in agreement, returned his friendly smiled, and said simply, “ok”.

postpartum-depression

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I don’t remember the doc asking me how I was feeling. Not that I expected him too. It’s rare when someone actually bothers to asked me about my emotional state, beside the customary, and mostly patronizing, “well how are ya?” But the doc did make a point to bring up the topic of my physical needs, which was not at all expected…but totally appreciated.

The doc dove into the unsuspected sex talk by giving us a bit of marital advice. “Parents often dedicate all their energy on their children, because of course they love them…” , but he delivered that in a way that made me know that a big “but” was going to follow, “but they forget that kids grow up—they leave. And when that’s happened, it will be just you’s two. Then what? You just spent the last 20 years focusing on your kids and now you realize you no longer even know each other.” He paused for a moment, I’m sure for dramatic effect, and he concluded his thought with “So always put each other first.”

That wasn’t exactly the type of counsel that I was expecting to hear from our son’s pediatrician. Because out all the welcomed, and at other times, unwelcomed advice that we got during the 9 months leading to Seby’s birth, not a single one was in regards to how Jess and I were to maintain a healthy, loving relationship post pregnancy. And I gotta admit that up to that moment I hadn’t put any real thought into it, and I highly suspect that Jess hadn’t really either. I’ve thought about it a lot recently, now that Seby is demanding more and more of our time. But our son is such a good, funny, goofy, and oddly patient child that all we want to do is spend every possible minute we can with him; especially since we both have full time jobs and long commutes that eat into our bonding time with our son. So we pretty much have fallen into the trap that the doc warned us about. Seby has become the center of our universe and at times is does feel like we forget that our significant other is also a part of it. In our attempts to become the best parents possible, we have, in a way, regressed at being a good husband and wife.

“Mama”, the doc said while addressing Jess, “We know that YOU are restricted from having sex right now. I’m sure your doctor already told you that”. The doc once again emphasised and stretched out the word “but” in order to hammer the next point home. “Buuuuuuuuut Papa here doesn’t have the same restrictions.” For a split second there I thought the doc was going to be foolish enough to recommend that my wife should allow me to sow my wild oats with another woman while she recovered. Thankfully, for both his sake and mine, his recommendation was much more rational, and a lot less sleazy than my male brain had pictured. “Don’t forget Papa, here. There are things that you can do for him that don’t involve intercourse. ” Once again my male brain jumped the gun and immediately took the doc’s vague, yet purely monogamous suggestion, to mean oral sex. I was immediately sold on the idea.

Things in the coming weeks would get worse for us before they would get better. There would be no oral in my future, which trust me, was a pretty big let down. Jess and I would, increasingly, have a harder time seeing eye to eye; which only served to make Jessie’s postpartum depression gradually grow worse. And finally I would be setting myself for a rather rude awakening on the day  that Jessie’s maternity leave ended and it was left to me, and me alone to, to watch over our son.

End of Part I


Next Week: Big Boy’s and Little Joy Part II: Motherhood

A Poor Sinner Went to Church One Day

A Poor Sinner Went to Church One Day

A couple of years ago my wife had dragged me to one of her biannual trips to a Catholic Church. This is not the sort of thing I look forward to doing because I’m not a fan of the way that some in the church choose to demonize gay people.  Then there is that little global sex abuse scandal that the church likes to sweep under a rug. However Jess grew up in a household where the church held a central role in her family’s life. Her parents are still very devout Catholics, and so every now and then Jessie feels compelled to go to church because its what her family has always done. So I chose to set politics aside and tag along for the ride, because doing things that you hate is what marriage sometimes is all about.

I found myself sitting in the pew alongside Jess situated somewhere near the back of the church, as a middle aged Mexican gentleman with his Sunday’s best on was reading a bible verse before the entire congregation. The priest, another middle aged Latino male, with a pudgy physic and a slicked back   hair-do that made me suspect that he frequented the same barber as I, was sitting to the side of the altar facing 2 alter boys that were seated across  from him. Every time I find myself in a church  my eyes wander around the ornately decorated room and at some point become fixated at it’s main center piece; the image of an oversize crucifix. This particular church, which is situated in one of the more pleasant neighborhoods in Cicero, had its crucifix with a copper colored molding of Jesus nailed to it. It was raised prominently in all it’s glory up on the ceiling above the altar for all to see. A crown of thorn adorned the top of  Jesus head. There was a faint look of longing on his mostly relaxed face. I find it so strange that for us (I was born into a Roman  Catholic family too)  that the most powerful symbolic image our religion is that of a 1st Century torture device used to execute prisoners and enemies of the Roman empire. I often ask myself if any of the other great religions feature such somber imagery, and perhaps in a sign of my ignorance, none ever really come to mind.  I half jokingly wondering what would have happened if Jesus had been executed during the French Revolution or in Jim Crow era Alabama. Would we have the a small guillotine hanging on our chains, or would we all be staring up at the image of Jesus in a chain gang prison garb, strapped to an electric chair?

After brushing away my silly musings I allowed my eyes to take in the rest of the congregation. They are made up of a mixture of bored young Mexican couples with their figgity children, and older, silver haired Latinos with slightly bent backs, and life worn weary faces; who I imagine have been coming to mass every Sunday since they were children. It only takes me a moment to see that there is a contrast between the two prevailing age groups that makes up this congregation; and I’m not talking about the obvious age gap that exist between the two groups. The older followers are mostly there unaccompanied. Many of them don’t appear to me that they are following along with middle aged gentleman that has sought out the honor to assist the priest in giving today’s homily. Instead many of the older folks appear to be facing down, eyes closed, muttering private prayers that nobody can hear. I imagine many of them, especially the women are holding a rosary, but I can’t really tell. These folks are devout believers. They are here to plead with God to answer their prayers. Some are obviously asking for good health and a positive break in their financial situation, others probably are asking for guidance and forgiveness. But no matter what these folks are muttering, I get the sense that they have faith that someone is up there listening to their prayer. On the other hand I don’t get that same sense from the younger crowd.

I notice a young couple sitting about two pews ahead of where Jess and I are sited. They have two young children with them. One of the kids, a boy, no older than one years old, is in his mothers arms, trying to squirm his way out of her grasp. A young girl,around 4 years old, is seated closely alongside her mother. The stringy little girl with long brown hair that is tied in a ponytail, is better behaved than her baby brother; however every few minutes the little girl still finds a need to tap her mother in the arm to get her undivided attention, and then whisper something into her ear.

 

The young mother, a twenty something Mexican woman, with long brown hair that clearly illustrates whose hair the daughter inherited, is sitting there holding the energetic baby close to her breast. I can’t help but give the young mother some credit, because although I can’t quite see her face yet, her overall body language doesn’t show a hint of frustration, despite the fact that her attention is seemingly being pulled in different direction by her children. Eventually I get a good look at the profile of her face when she turned to look over at her husband, or at least that’s who I figured he was, who was sitting at the same pew, but about 3 to 4 spots to her right. If it wasn’t for the fact that I had witnessed the little girl slide across the pew to whisper in his ears on several occasions, I wouldn’t have known that he was with them at all.  I notice that the mother appears to be very tired. She had darks spots under her eyes that robbed her face of its youth. Her skin tone was a light colored caramel, which made me wonder if somewhere in her bloodline there was a Conquistador that forced himself upon an Aztec ancestor.

I never observed any other types of emotions coming from the young mother. She didn’t seem angry, she never flashed a smile, not a hint of frustration. All there was to see was a weary, joylessness on her face that seemed almost permanent. She looked over to at her husband multiple times as if looking for something, perhaps an acknowledgment from him. But for as long as I was there, I never saw her get one. He just sat there looking at something in his lap, perhaps a cell phone, or looked around aimlessly, appearing as if he just wanted to get the mass over with. The same could be said for all the other young folks in church that day. Most, if not all who were below the age of 40,  were just going through the motions. We weren’t inspired by the homily, the well wasn’t being replenished of faith. We were in a way doing exactly what we all figured was expected of us, because that’s the way it had always been.

It was then that I realized that I, like the young husband that was sitting before me, hadn’t bothered to acknowledge my own wife. I peeked over to the side to see Jess still sitting there listening to the lecture, looking half bored. I guess she got that feeling that we all get when we sense a pair of eyes are on us because she turned her head towards me. She gives me this have quizzical look and mouthed if I was feeling alright. I give her a quick smile, nodded my head and mouthed back that I was ok. She smiles and sticks her tongue out at me like a naughty 5 year old before rising up on up to her feet, along with the rest of the congregation, as the priest came up to the podium.

That day I found myself in church because I was trying to be a good husband. My wife was there simply because she wanted to be a good daughter. All the young folks attending mass with their young children, were probably there because they wanted to instill in their children the types of traditional values and customs that they themselves had grown up with. And the elders, who had been coming to mass since the light of the sun was dawning on their lives and not setting on it, wanted to be in good graces with God. A god that to them was just one silent prayer away. We were all trying to please someone else in order to feel like we belonged. What each of us wanted to belong too may have differed, but in the end we were all their just trying not to feel alone, just like Christ did while he was up on that cross.

Ultrasounds and Baby bumps: Facing Fears

Ultrasounds and Baby bumps: Facing Fears

The wifey is laying on a hospital bed, almost completely flat on her back. She doesn’t quite know where to focus her eyes, so she settles to just look directly up at the ceiling. She’s quite. Well quieter than usual. That means she’s nervous, we both are. Jess is about to go through her second scheduled ultrasound. The nervousness stems from just not knowing what to expect. The first ultrasound went on without a hitch, well for the most part. Our unborn child was coming along nicely. No signs of abnormalities. And the heartbeat sounded nice, strong and hurried. The only hangup was that the baby had it’s legs crossed; so we were unable to find out what was the baby’s gender. We were very much hoping that this would be answered the second time around. Yet we were both feeling a little anxious.

I can’t say for sure if Jess had the same types of thoughts creeping through her head, but I know that I couldn’t help but wonder what if the ultrasound comes across something bad that was missed the first time. Not that I was really expecting any surprises. Just my mind likes to gravitate to the worse case scenario all the time. I don’t know if it’s a bad habit or just a defense mechanism. Either way it does a good job putting me on edge. As I sat quietly on the chair in the corner watching the technician apply the ultrasound gel on my wife’s exposed navel, an endless conga-line of really crappy what if’s paraded inside my head.

The ultrasound technician, a cheery, 20 something year old, with a dot like birthmark that was smack dab on the tip of her nose, asked us if we were interested in learning the baby’s sex once she came across it. Jessie smiled and said yes with enough enthusiasm to hide her nervousness. I could feel my heart changing gears as the anticipation grew. A few weeks earlier the wifey’s OB/GYN had asked us if we preferred having either a boy or a girl. Jessie gave the customary “doesn’t really matter, as long as the baby is healthy with ten fingers and ten toes.” The doc looked over at me clearly expecting me to say something along the same lines or that I wanted a boy. Instead I told her “I think I want a girl”. The doc was clearly surprised by my answer because she turned her head slightly, almost like a curious puppy would. The crease of her mouth gave the hint of a smile as she asked me why I felt this way. I suspect that after years of serving a predominantly Latino community, the doc had just grown accustomed to the idea of her patients male partners being more inclined of wanting a boy as their first child, guarantying the continuation of their family name. Personally I never really put much weight in those old world notions. I told her that in my opinion “it was probably easier to raise a girl to be a lady than it was to raise a boy to be a man.” I went a little further and explained how the men in my family have, for the most part had been knuckleheads and screw-ups, and that I just felt that if I had a bit more parenting experience under my belt that I might have a better chance at succeeding at raising my boy properly. The doc, an older Indian lady, with a last name that I have a hard time pronouncing, nodded her head slightly in agreement. She went on to tell us about her first born. A boy that turned out to be a handful. His father a proud doctor from India had told her that since they had a boy it was his duty as a father to be the one to guide him. That it was a mans job after all.She regretted not asserting herself more, because as the years went on their boy gave them a lot of headaches growing up, and that it wasn’t until her son hit his thirties that he finally came into his own. She didn’t come out and say it, but she basically hinted at the fact that her husband just didn’t know what the hell he was doing. I could relate. She went on to say that if she had a choice, she would have had the girl first. She strongly felt that it would have somehow made a difference. The doc’s experience only served to strengthen my desire to have a girl.

About 10 minutes into our second ultrasound session the technician smiles and says, with the slightest hint of what I thought was an eastern European accent, “Well it looks like you are having a boy!” I can’t quite recall what exactly Jess said. I think it was something along the lines of “Really?” with a big Kool-Aid smile flashing across her face. I felt my heart race. I smiled too and I think I said something like “WOW”. We were both very much surprised.

For weeks now I had been predicting we were going to have a girl, almost from the moment I learned about the conception. I was thoroughly convinced of it.I thought that maybe some of my great grandmother’s Santeria inspired soothsaying abilities had rubbed off on me.  Add to that all the comments I heard Jessie’s friends and family members make, claiming that we were going to have a girl because the shape of her belly correlated with some long held wives tale that was deemed as good as true.  I even dreamt with a little girl a couple of times. She had dark, black, curly, hair like her mother. Black eyes like her father. And her mother’s smile. I was not one to dream about kids, so I just took this as another sign. I believe Jess when she said she didn’t care about the baby’s sex, but I think that she had started to root for a xx chromosome carrier because she had started to realize that it meant something to me. She just never had a clear handle why that was, and neither did I.

Sitting on that chair, watching the images of my unborn son morph across the ultrasound screen I came to understand why I had been wanting a girl so badly over the course of those last few months. I had been scared. I had been scared of continuing the cycle, or the family legacy if I may call it that. The declarations of war by our fathers to the heartbreak and lament of their sons. I guess I had fooled myself into thinking that if I had a girl first I would have a bit more leeway to make parenting mistakes. I was stupid enough to believe that girls basically raised themselves and all I had to do was just be there to show some guidance. I know I was full of shit for thinking that way. I see that now. There will be nothing easy about being a parent. I wont be able to coast my way through this like I have on so many other things. I am going to have to teach my son what it is to be a good man, while I try to figure out how to be one myself.

I am beyond happy that I am going to have a little boy. I hope I can inspire a sense of wonder in him. Furthermore I will try to teach him that nobody truly has all the answers in life, which is why its important that he seeks those out on his own and not just take everything that people say for face value. If my unborn son ever comes across this blog, I want him to understand that the grumpy old man that he calls dad, was once a young confused guy that traveled a long way just to try to find out who he was. I pray that 20 years from now, when my son is 19 years old and I’m 55, we can talk to each other like I never could with my father, or my father with his.  And if the day ever comes, when my son tells me “Dad, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do?” I can look the kid in the eye, give him a big hug, and tell him that there was a time when I didn’t either, but if you just try to do what is right, life will throw hints your way and give you a chance to figure it out.

A Funny Thing Happened While I Waited for Santa: Getting Diagnosed for ADHD

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow’s it going folks. Fancy seeing you all here again. For those that actually missed my regular posting on LATB, all one of you that is (Love you Mom), please accept my apology for my absence. It was the holidays and all, and work being as fun as it always is, I thought it was a good time to take a bit a break from the blog. Besides with all the stress that the holidays bring with it, anything that I would have posted would have been just a jumbled series of rants about how unfair life is, and how Christmas was now nothing more than an exercise in consumer excess and yada-yada-yada. Honestly, who in their right mind would want to sit through all that? Like the old adage goes, “If you got nothing nice to say, then perhaps it best you say nothing at all.” So that’s exactly what I chose to do. But that didn’t mean that I just sat in a corner somewhere and just went with the flow. That’s never been much of my style. No, instead I took that extra free time that I gave myself to finally seek help with a monster that kept getting the better of me no matter how hard I fought.

Since I started this blog I have been putting some serious thought about my suspected ADHD. I was 90% sure that I had it. My old doc suspected as much. But I had been hesitant to get it officially diagnosed. I had my reasons for this. Some were financial.  Plus getting a diagnosis wasn’t exactly high on my priorities list. But I think the biggest reason was that I was a little afraid that maybe I didn’t have it. I know you’re probably scratching your head a bit by that one. Please allow me to explain.

It’s no big secret that I have always considered myself a bit of a screw-up. I’ve taken the easy route more times than not. I have lacked confidence and never managed to develop the discipline required to persevere in those precarious instances when the road got too bumpy. I never could grasp and take-in any subject matter that did not capture my imagination or moved me, no matter how hard I tried. When something did finally garner my interest, I would become obsessed with learning all of its ins-and-out at the detriment of everything else around me. I have started dozens of hobbie over the years and spent a good amount of money on them, only to abandoned each and every one of my new obsessions after a couple of months once the novelty of it all wore off. I am argumentative, and can go from perfectly calm and friendly to hulkish rageaholic in a blink of an eye. I am guilty of opening my mouth and blurting things that I usually come to regret; which is really an extension of my lack of impulse control and my need to experience instant gratification. All of that, combined with a few less glaring, yet significant human frailties, have combined like robot lions to make me one Voltron sized underachiever.

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Being a chronic underachiever, over-time, destroyed my confidence. I felt stupid, angry, and lashed out to folks who did not deserve that kind of treatment from me because it is just easier to blame others for my own personal shortcomings. There was a whole lot of self loathing going on inside me. There still is to some extent. I would consistently beat myself up for always coming up short. I felt worthless, and deep down inside, I thought I always would be. Then I discovered ADHD. For the first time in two decades my life made sense. I had the sudden revelation that perhaps I wasn’t some pathetic loser that wasn’t good enough to archive anything worthwhile, but that basically I maybe had been trying to participate in a rock climbing contest while not realizing that my hands had been handcuffed behind my back. Now I’m not saying that if you have ADHD that your are destined to fail. But I am saying that if you’re not aware that you have the disorder, then you don’t have the amount of self awareness required to manage all the symptoms that come with it. And it also keeps you from seeking medical help when you don’t have the tools required to deal with it in a constructive and well thought out manner.

But as I had mentioned, I hesitated to get an official diagnosis. A part of me worried “What if I don’t have it?” What would that say about me? Would it mean I was nothing more than an apathetic slacker? The worlds most self aware village idiot? What if the only reason I didn’t accomplish many of the things I had sought after was because in the end I just simply didn’t care enough to push myself to work for it. Then there was my fear of the drugs used to treat the disorder. I read up enough info on them to grow a healthy amount of respect and fear of them. Coming from a family that has a long history of dealing with addiction, the idea of taking a controlled substance like most stimulants , was something I was hesitant to do. Then there where the horror stories I read up on about individuals who were scatter-brain like myself, but who had a perfectly healthy outlook on life, but once on the meds they where transformed over time into emotionless automatons. And then there were the cases of those unlucky few who were at one time high on life, but after being on medication decided to take a long walk off a very short peer.

But despite all my hesitations, I became resolute over the holidays to find out once and for all whether or not I had ADHD.  It wasn’t an easy decision for me. But it was one that I felt I had to make. Because if I did have it, then I could seek help in treating it. I came to understand all too well that I could no longer deal with this alone. No matter how many books I read on the subject, or how much I tried to treat my possible case of ADHD with simple lifestyles changes, the fact was that my brain just lacked the necessary tools to implement any positive changes for the long term. I would need help if I was ever going to learn how to cope with ADHD. So I made an appointment. After getting some blood work to eliminate any other potential causes for my troubles, and taking an assessment, my suspicions were finally confirmed.

Thankfully after explaining to the my doc the reservations I had on using stimulants, like Ritalin and Aderall, for treatment, my doctor thought that it would be prudent to put me on a drug called Strattera. It is the only non-stimulant approved for the treatment of ADHD. I’ve been on the medication for two weeks now. It is much too early to tell if Stattera will aid me in my struggles. So far I have seen some improvements in some areas. Productivity at work has doubled. Feel more calm and relaxed. The inner monologue isn’t chatting away 24/7, and I’m less impulsive. The downside so far is that there are a few uncomfortable side-effects that I could most definitely do without. Feeling lethargic, dry mouth, nausea, just to name a few.

I understand that the meds are not a long term solution for what will probably be a lifelong problem. Only lifestyle changes, like exercising, both my mind and body, practicing mindfulness, and following a proper diet will truly help me gain a measure of control over ADHD. But I hope the medication will grant me just enough momentum to implement and follow-through with the necessary changes. After all the medication will not grant me a mastery over what things I choose to focus on. They only grant me a slight increase in will power to focus on what matters. The rest is ultimately up to me.

Being Mindful and Giving Thanks for Another Thanksgiving

peanuts-thanksgiving

I read a news report from a reputable business publication that the company I’ve been working for over 7 years now will be making another significant reduction in its corporate workforce. A spokesperson for the company was quoted that the company is always looking for ways to “optimize” its operation. I can’t help but crack a cynical smile at the way they the spokesperson tries to lessen the psychological blow of mass firings by rebranding it as optimization. Which really is just corporate speak for handing out pink slips like Tic-Tacs, trimming their idea of unwanted fat, and spreading the work that still needs to get done to outsourcing companies. And for the rest of us corporate sharecroppers that managed to avoid the axe, we get to look forward to having the company dump even more responsibilities on our laps with very little if any compensation. Our only reward being that we got to avoid the unemployment line for just a little longer. But you know what, I understand that I can either allow myself to grow bitter and angry; and feel nothing but spite for people in suits that don’t even know of my existence, or I can be mindful that it is the Holiday season. That Thanksgiving is almost here and that I have so much to be thankful for.

For starters I have a beautiful and caring wife that is “with child”(God I love saying that!). A woman that has, for reasons that still eludes me, has decided that she was OK with putting up with my wondering mind, and moody musings. A lady that willingly holds my hand in public, even though I am nobody’s idea of an Adonis. A woman that kisses me gently on the lips and sweetly tells me that I have the saddest eyes she’s ever looked into with the tenderness and love of a merciful angel. Are things always perfect and hunky-dory between us? Off course not. We argue more than I would like, and after all these years it is rather easy for us to get on each others nerves. But our “aim” much like Elvis Costello‘s had for “Alison” is as “true” as it gets.

I am grateful for the little child that is growing within Jess. That little person that was conceived by love and not lust, has sparked a new sense of awareness that I was sorely lacking. The realization that I am going to be a father has slowed down my thought process in some ways. It has brought me a sense of hope that I have not had. It gives me added reason to keep working on myself and keep trying to move passed all my shortcomings. Am I sure I can overcome them all? No. But I have all the motivation in the world to keep on trying.

turkey-prozac-funny-cartoonI am thankful for my family. My mother, my brother, even the sister that I’m not in talking terms with. I am grateful to them because each of them have touched my life and have helped mold me into the person that is writing this today. Are we the ideal notion of family? Unfortunately no. But I still love them with all my heart. Because in the end they are, and will always be, my family. It’s taken me a long time come to terms with that realization.

Since I feel it is relatively safe for me to assume that everyone that is reading these words of mine are in varied states of being alive and kicking, then let us then take a moment to be thankful for the air in our lungs and the rhythmic beating of our hearts. It’s important that we never take the life that we have been given for granted. We should also take a moment to reflect back on those who are no longer with us. Folks like my friend Angel, who has been gone for almost 15 years now, or my other buddy Marlon who died in Iraq, and my father Tomas Gonzalez Jr., whom I had the bitter sweet honor of spoon feeding him the last Thanksgiving meal he would ever have. Each one of them passed on much too young, and it is their memories that remind me to embrace the passing seconds and relish them.

Travers in his most memorable role, as Clarenc...
Travers in his most memorable role, as Clarence Odbody in It’s a Wonderful Life (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is it realistic to sings life’s praises 24/7? Hell no. I mean if we were just marveling at all of life’s wonders all the time we wouldn’t get much done. Plus we all have our George Bailey moments when we wonder if the world would be better off without us; when life feels more like a burden than a gift. But it important that we don’t lose sight that even though life has it’s fair share of painful moments, I personally can attest to that, it also holds more beauty than our scattered brains and modern lives will allow us to appreciate.

Am I my feeling nervous about all this uncertainty that seems to be surrounding my life? Off course I am. Last time I checked I wasn’t an unfeeling machine like the Terminator. In fact I probably feel it a whole lot more now that I have a little baby on the way. But I also know that I’m not alone in feeling that sense of unease. That I am just one of probably millions of lost souls who so happen to be on the same boat. I would also be telling you a bold face lie if I told you I didn’t feel a twinge of anger every time I hear the CEO gleefully touting about the companies record profits, and sales, and how their innovative leadership has managed to make a significant boost to their shareholders portfolio, while those way down the corporate ladder spend sleepless nights wondering how the bills are gonna get paid if they are deemed expendable.  After all, I don’t have the inner peace of an enlightened Buddhist. But I am also trying to reconcile with the fact that life is long and unpredictable and that we can’t put all our energies and focus on possible but unfulfilled future events. Be mindful of them? Off course. Ignoring it completely is just asking for trouble. Be obsessed with it, until it starts affecting your ability to live in the now? Never.

black-friday-memeFor that reason alone I will put to rest, at least for a few days anyway, any lingering thoughts of what if’s. I’m will not brave fighting through an unholy berserker horde that will be foaming at the mouth in search for that perfect Thanksgiving\Black Friday deal. I won’t bitch and moan about having to work most of Thanksgiving day. I will take a moment to reflect on those that are no longer here with us. And when I finally get around to sitting down to enjoy my warm Thanksgiving meal later in the evening, I won’t fret over calorie counts or carb content, or any other things that will rob me of the joys of having a delicious home cooked meal. And above all else I will be extremely grateful that I got to spend the time that was allotted to me with my wife, her family, and our unborn child. At the end of the day that is really what the day should be about.

With all that being said I hope you all out there spend the day taking part in whatever family traditions that makes the day enjoyable and memorable for you. May the turkey or ham, lechon, vegan platter, or whatever it is you choose to eat on Thanksgiving day be moist and delicious and plentiful. And if the meal turns out to be a little dry don’t be too bummed. Just enjoy the day for all it’s worth. I want to wish you and all your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving. Salud.

P.S.

For those who have been frequenting my little blog here from across the pond and other parts of the world, I wanted to take this moment to thank you for reading. If you ever feel inclined please drop me a line and let me know a little about yourselves. I would love to hear from you. Thanks. 🙂