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On Etiquette and Autonomy

I’m going to state some obvious things, here, but bear with me.

The past few days have been like a roller coaster that has one drop, and then just kind of goes on a straightaway before running out of inertia and just sitting there, while I’ve been unable to exit the ride because the bar is still secured across my lap, and there’s no platform.

I started Thursday evening with happy news – news comparable to finally having an answer re: Lyme, and comparable to finally being able to have a much-needed hysterectomy. I said that on Facebook, already, but it bears repeating. This process I’m currently going through is just as important for my health, both physical and mental.

I had people use close relationships with me as an excuse to exempt themselves from my one request in announcing this process: not making jokes. They not only made jokes, but some of them straight-out told me that I was selfish for wanting this surgery, and that I should take not only my boyfriend’s feelings into consideration, but also other men. (For the record, my boyfriend is completely on-board because me not feeling well stresses both of us out, and to him, this is just as much a medical problem as it is to me.)

Others requested before and after photos, with one person stated that they were “for posterity.”

All of this happened within 24 hours of me announcing what was, to me, amazing news.

I could see hope on the horizon, and then I quickly descended. I spent hours on Friday night crying, at times unable to close my mouth, but unable to make any sounds but the rasping as my throat became more dry with every breath.

I did makeup in an attempt to feel better (it usually helps), took a photo, posted it to seem as though I was being tough, but as soon as I posted the photo, I cried the makeup off. I was up until 5:30am the following morning because my muscles ached with the effort and exhaustion that so much emotion can cause.

I spent Saturday with very little motivation, only eating because I had to in order to take my medication (to avoid a migraine). I occasionally broke down in tears, but they were more the “normal” type, and larger and larger periods of time passed without crying

There are more terrible things that have happened to people. There are more terrible things that have happened to me.

The thing is – this echoes one of those terrible things. I’ve had someone else in my past claim my body, repeatedly, for his own ends. I was unable to escape this person I trusted, because I was financially stuck, and physically cut off from my support system (as well as any means of transportation). Those who knew something was wrong felt helpless to do anything about it, and acted awkwardly around me, trying to fix anything else that they felt they could control (and I don’t blame them for it).

To have others that I trusted, particularly men, turn around and, under the guise of joking, display that same feeling of entitlement toward the very same body parts that were repeatedly abused, is bad enough.

What’s worse is that every single one of them knew that part of my past, because I trusted them enough to tell them. I’ve known every one of them for longer than a decade.

They felt entitled to put their amusement above my wishes.

That is a serious violation.

I hate it when people say something “triggered” them. The term has lost all meaning, because there are precious, special snowflakes who feel that any mention of something that upsets them is a “trigger.” They’ve taken a serious term that is meant to protect those with actual traumatic pasts, and turned it into a way of covering themselves with increasing layers of bubble wrap.

So I, instead, have to say that I had some pretty severe flashbacks, which I’d hoped to avoid by explicitly stating that jokes were not welcome. I am more than happy to discuss the particulars of the situation, from a clinical standpoint. You all know this from my experiences with Lyme, and with my hysterectomy. The latter, in particular, invoked some pretty strong personal feelings, because while I always said I didn’t want kids, occasionally I get this pang of knowing that I never will have kids of my own. Rationality has nothing to do with it – it’s just a thing that’s there, and that still happens from time to time.

I am more than happy to talk to someone who is curious, for their sake, about the process. And I will very likely diligently record this process, as I have for everything else (though with the Lyme it became more of the same, so I just stopped).

If you want photos of a breast reduction before/after, the internet exists, and there are plastic surgeons who’ve gotten express permission from clients to post photos of their bodies online, in order to let potential clients see their work.

If you want to ask me questions as to why I need the procedure, I am happy to oblige. But the only person who will see before/after photos is my surgeon, and I’ll go ahead and tell you right now that the prospect of having my upper body clinically inspected, and photos taken of it, even for medical purposes, is causing no small amount of anxiety.

Today, I’ve lifted the bar off of my lap, but I’m still without a platform. I’m looking for ways to exit the roller coaster, and I’ll find one, some foothold to help me jump down without too much trouble, but for now, I’ll sit here until I’m good and ready to leave.

And you don’t get to tell me when I should exit for your comfort.

I’d like to end this by thanking those who’ve been supportive, both of the procedure, and of me when I was dealing very suddenly with such a large amount of unpleasantness in a small period of time.

Starship Troopers was Livetweeted…

…and this is my favorite takeaway, upon reviewing everything a day later:

 

 

If you want to be present the next time I decide to livetweet a movie I’ve never seen before, follow @squeakyblive.

Everyone’s Posting New Year’s Reflections

Mine is full of mixed things, as is everyone else’s. I met my deductible AND my out-of-pocket this year for health insurance…and I didn’t have surgery or go to the ER. I just saw a lot of specialists…but I’m getting to the root of my health problems and addressing them directly. I can’t begin to express how much of a relief it is to have a migraine medication that works, or a psychologist who isn’t a jerk.

I’m walking without my cane more and more, thanks to a friend who came into my life this summer, and then left. I got out, I learned a new craft that relaxes me, and I’m with someone who is continuously supportive and has stuck by me through all of the crazy stuff that’s been happening.

My instagram account gives a pretty good account of my year, honestly:

Click the pic to be taken to my instagram.

Click the pic to be taken to my instagram.

I have friends who have shown me, time and again, how much they care. I have a means of worst-case-scenario transportation that I know is going to help me as I continue to go through difficult health situations. Treatment will continue, my hips will continue to be temperamental, but I’m not going to miss out on stuff, and it’s thanks to you guys.

I quit a job that was draining my soul, and got one that’s a little more sporadic, but also way more enjoyable…and it pays (as soon as I send an invoice on the correct date – I haven’t had to deal with them bi-weekly in a long time).

I’m DRIVING again. The car works. It got me to St. Louis (there’s a story, there, but it mostly involves me having to take a nap in my car after 4 hours on the road, and barely making it into the city before the highway was closed down). Though there’s flooding, my family is all okay. I’m currently sitting with my nephew and grandmother (we’re all just doing our own thing, as you do), and my sister is in the other room playing Skyrim (as you do).

three cats in the sun
Even though I fight with them, I’m on good terms with everyone in my family, currently. That’s HUGE. This time last year, three of us weren’t talking to each other due to a stupid misunderstanding.

My boyfriend got a job at the end of 2014 that he’s been with for a year, and he’s doing well. He’s got a schedule he can work with (overnights – that’s just how he operates), and for the most part, he leaves his stress at work. That’s awesome, because it means less stress at home.

I watched one of my best friends marry an amazing person, and got to witness one of the weirdest family dynamics I’ve ever seen…a dynamic that works so well it’s insane. (She got married in her ex-mother-in-law’s backyard – seriously, it’s amazing.)

We added a new member to our family in Leo, the noodle-y Maine coon. Casey hates him, Merlin tolerates him, and Sophie thinks he’s a demon. But we love him, because he’s a cuddle monster.

Sophie had a health scare, but she’s good, and she continues to fart on me daily, walk on my head while I sleep, and cuddle between us on the bed. She’s adorable and cranky and SO ANGRY and I am really happy she’s still around.

Again, I learned how to crochet, and it’s been so great for me, because it helps my dexterity, relaxes me, and gives me something to do when I’m fidgety from pain and inability to concentrate. It helps me focus. The results are less one-trick-pony than the rice bags, and the supplies can be carried in a tiny pouch. I was able to make everyone’s Christmas gifts (around 16 people) for less than $40. Y’all, that’s $2.50 per person. It took me several weeks, but again, it was so helpful in other ways.

For nearly every negative I have, there’s a positive. I like to think I’m entering 2016 in neutral territory.

I hope everyone else is able to at least break even in their lives this year…and that we can all have a positive balance at some point.

Happy New Year!

...condensed Sophie hatred notwithstanding.

…condensed Sophie hatred notwithstanding.

Thanks, doofus, I didn’t think of that. (Post-endocrinologist post.)

I went to the new endocrinologist yesterday, got a bunch of blood drawn, and got the results, today.

For the record, I’ve gained nearly 15 pounds since October. I’d just quit Cytomel, a thyroid medication for hypothyroidism, and had my Lamictal increased (it can cause water retention – this is a thing I was aware of, but thought the Cytomel being gone could have contributed).

Thyroid levels are normal (yay!), but despite other abnormal test results, endocrinologist said, “I’d be happy to refer you to a weight loss specialist, if you want.”

…I cried repeatedly after they weighed me, yesterday, and told him part of why it was freaking me out was because of my history with eating disorders. And this is his suggestion.

In reverse order:

-I lost a bunch of weight before my hysterectomy, in part due to the painkillers I was on. I was ECSTATIC, despite the pain I was still in, because it meant I wouldn’t be fat on the operating table. (Think about how fucked up that is.)

-The first thing I did after my divorce was restrict my eating to fewer than 1000 calories a day, and lost 30 pounds in about 2 months. (I’m about 10 pounds below what I was after that weight loss, to show you how fat I still was). Part of it was depression, but most of it was because I felt like I was losing control, and I wanted some of it back.

-Before my wedding, I went on a starvation diet masquerading as a healthy weight-loss mail-order diet. I lost 15 pounds in a little over a month.

-While in college, I ate around 1200 calories a day while working out quite a bit. I was STILL heavier than I’d been in high school, when I lost weight from being sick (pneumonia’s a great weight loss tool, apparently). Larger in size, too. The muscles under the remaining fat irritated me because they were making me bigger, but they were also helping me burn the fat, so I placated.

-I didn’t eat much when I worked at MCI, instead drinking copious amounts of water. I’d eat breakfast, drink 32 ounces of water, have a snack from the vending machine instead of eating lunch, drink another 32 ounces of water, and then would snack for supper. I drank a lot of alcohol. I was down to my skinniest since 9th grade, which is when I initially “developed” and first started getting a complex about my weight/size (which was, hilariously, right before I gained 30 pounds from being on birth control for the first time in an attempt to help my cramps).

So pardon me if I don’t immediately take you up on your offer to go see someone who will have me obsessively record all of my intake, which feeds my OCD, which sets off my disordered eating. I can do that by myself, thanks (and am already sort of doing).

Other abnormal test results point to Celiac, which isn’t a big surprise, but now I have even more motivation to try harder. Celiac can cause weight gain, GERD, fatigue, and IBS, all of which I suffer from, in addition to anemia and B12 deficiency (both are being treated), and protein malabsorption (which was on the test result from yesterday). I also take 12,000IU of Vitamin D EVERY DAY, and my blood levels are normal (as are my calcium levels, and I take a supplement). Vitamin D deficiency is another symptom of Celiac.

Then there’s the Lamictal increase probably adding excess water.

I can fix those things without setting off anorexia. Healthily-restricted diet for Celiac (which I would see a medical nutritionist for, not a weight-loss specialist), and possible Lasix for water retention (I would stop taking my blood pressure medication, as well as my during-the-day muscle relaxers, to prevent low-blood-pressure issues).

For the record, again, most types of exercise are off the table, because of my hips, due to direct instructions from my neurologist not to engage in them, hence why I’m not saying “oh, I can just work out more.” I legitimately can’t. I need to lose weight, first, to reduce the strain on my arthritic hips in order to do most of even the low-impact exercises. You can see the irony here, can’t you?

*sigh*

I should probably also get re-tested for Lyme, because why the fuck not? It can set off Celiac due to it causing autoimmune reactions that attack all kinds of things, and it already killed my uterus, so the intestines aren’t exactly that far away.

“All the reading she had done had given her a view of life that they had never seen.”

I’d always been a voracious reader as a child. I failed English in 2nd grade not because I didn’t understand the material, but because I was so bored I couldn’t stand it, and would read whatever book I could hide in my lap. One memorable day, I was told to stay in during recess (unsupervised, hilariously) and copy the book I’d been reading, word-for-word, using the appropriate narrative writing style.

I actually did it, for the record. I was basically getting to read the book over again.

When I was in middle school, and I believe I’ve mentioned this, I was grounded from everything, and that included reading, because my dad knew that would hit me hardest. I had books stashed all over my room, and while he didn’t enforce the rule by throwing them out or going through my things, he would do random checks on me to make sure I wasn’t reading for anything but school. He even got my sisters to check up on me, though my oldest sister, upon catching me reading (she found one of my stashed books), simply advised me to hide my books better.

I was…wait for it…failing English in 6th grade, though this time it was because I didn’t want to learn parts of speech when I was already perfectly capable of parsing language and writing. Even though the reason was different this time, the 2nd-grade incident stuck out, so that’s what my dad reacted to. Not unreasonable, as far as trains of thought are concerned, just not pleasant.

I hid books in more places, but the lack of being able to freely read affected my attitude, and I started lying about pretty huge matters, causing a horrible situation that affected a great deal of people for quite some time (one of the folks involved still doesn’t trust me any further than she can throw me, and she was in her 40s when this event occurred, to give you some idea of how few fucks I gave).

In short, reading was my identity. It’s how I learned language, syntax, and correct usage, and how I got to be so bored in 2nd-grade English in the first place, which, in turn, led to me having my IQ tested so that I could enter APEX, and then the Honors programs, in school.

As I got older, and was able to afford to buy my own books, bookstores became like a drug. I would peruse dust jackets, combing a single section for hours in search of something that seemed interesting enough to justify a purchase…and then I would go ahead and buy 3 or 4 books based on their cover blurbs, anyway. I only found one or two books in that entire part of my life that I didn’t enjoy, and one of them was 1984, which is ironic considering my political leanings (even when I was basically a Democrat, my upbringing of being under close scrutiny caused me to abhor unwanted involvement in my life). I’m pretty sure the other one was a memoir that was so sensationalized that it was unbelievable and read like a tabloid.

I stopped my absolutely ridiculous reading rate when I began engaging in long-term relationships as an adult. I started reading the same books two or three times, but not getting into much that was new. As soon as a relationship ended, however, I would go into spirals of reading as much new-to-me material as I could get my hands on. New relationship? Reading stopped.

My last “book bender” was before I got married, back in 2009, when I moved from my own house and had to pack up my books. Now there’s no room in the place I currently live for any of them, or many new books.

Being sick didn’t help matters – not being able to drive, as well as not having a steady income…well, let’s face it, it’s not like I could concentrate on reading very much, anyway, which is when my gaming/internet use started to rise to, well, all day.

As a result of all of these factors, I haven’t utilized a library for something other than tutoring or studying since probably high school…9th grade, to be exact.

That was 18 years ago.

There’s a connected group of perfectly good libraries here in Memphis, and a library card is free. Forrest and I have different enough schedules (he works nights, I work from home) that me reading wouldn’t cut into our relationship time.

While I’m not going to make a resolution, I saw a friend talking about her goal of 200 books per year (she’s at 195, and has quite the full life), and it made me realize OH, I CAN DO THAT.

Maybe 200 books is a lofty goal, for me (that’s 3-4 books per week, and my “clear mind” hours allow for maybe 2), but a book a week is doable, even if that comes out to an average, for whatever reason. It took me a couple of weeks to get through the first Game of Thrones book, but…well, everyone who’s even just watched the shows has heard how those things are. (I have the second one, I haven’t even started it).

Anyway.

I can be poor and still read. Especially since I’m driving, again.

I think the hardest part, for me, will be returning the books. The reading was the fun part, but acquisition has always been a driving force in my more destructive habits (my collection of never-worn shoes lends credence).

Still…books. Reading.

Possibilities and potential for the range of emotion and exposure to information…I’m excited to try.

With that being said…I’d like some recommendations.

I like biographies, autobiographies, comedic memoirs, YA fiction (shut up, they’re fun), and if any of them have medical or scientific focuses, or feature fucked-up protagonists, even better.

I’m not a fan of military history…or much military-based stuff, honestly. Fantasy takes me a while to get into. Science fiction is fine. I know everyone is going to suggest Marko‘s books, and they’re already on the list (I haven’t read them, yet, because I’m poor, okay?).

BRING ME BOOK RECS, PLS.

[title is a quote from Roald Dahl’s Matilda]

The Fun Show Song Confirmation Post

I have a feeling the folks coming here from other places may be confused about the content of my blog, since by the company I keep I appear to be a gun blogger, but then they arrive to posts about poop and medical content.

I assure you, I am the singer of The Fun Show Song, lyrics originally written by Tam of View From The Porch in April 2014. The video was put together by Ambulance Driver. Some of the photos are by other gunbloggers, and I’m sure AD will be glad to post their links in comments, if necessary.

This was done as a Christmas present for Tam. :)

A post on my blog serves a few purposes, but it also serves as my word that I did this, so that if another assclown decides that they want to post something without attribution, I’m another voice added to the “that doesn’t belong to you, sir or madam.”

Here’s the video in a nice convenient location (you’ll have to go to Tam’s to read along with the lyrics, as I’m not one to post other people’s work on my blog *cough*TTAG*cough*):

So yep, that’s me singing. Anyone who wants to link to this work on their blogs, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter, whatever, go ahead and link to this post as my attribution, so that the poor souls who wander on here aren’t immediately accosted by what looks like the ramblings of an 80-year-old, arthritic, ornery TMI-spewer.

And hey, if you want to read some of my gunblogging, here. You can also check the tags on the right side and pick your poison. I’m pretty good about tagging my posts, and I sometimes get oddly specific.

Merry Christmas!

Crocheting Fool

 

I’m going to be posting a ton of photos of crochet projects once Christmas is over (since they’re almost all presents for folks, some of whom read this blog).

I learned in mid-October, and I’ve been averaging one project per day for the past two weeks. They’re not big (scarves and hats), but considering I just started…I’m doing pretty well.

Fun fact: I am apparently incapable of learning a new hat pattern. I have one that I use, and the rest that I try always fail miserably. So I’m sticking to what works.

Scarves, on the other hand…I’m doing well with scarves. I’ve learned 5 patterns, so far, and all have turned out really well.

Expect photos after Christmas, if you’re into that kind of thing.

What Was Foretold May Come to Pass…Again

There is a particular feeling that I get before a period. It’s like cramps, but not really. It feels like a slight tightening in my lower abdomen, coupled with what feels like more looseness in the vaginal area. The way I always thought of it was like the lid being taken off the toothpaste before the top is squeezed. (It’s gross, I know. I live my life with analogies, because it helps me cope.)

When this happens, I break out the maxi pads, because I know what’s coming. Often, that night, I’ll dream of my period starting, and when I wake up, there it is.

This happened for around 18 years.

A few days ago, I thought, “Oh, shit, I need to get a maxi pad…” before I remembered that I no longer have a uterus.

I am having cramps. They are in the same location they used to be. It’s been happening for several days. This is new.

The reason I wrote about that feeling in the present tense up there is because, as far as my lizard brain is concerned, that is currently what’s happening.

Sometimes I have pain while evacuating my bowels, as I mentioned in the last entry, but that’s a very specific sort of pull. I already talked a lot about that, so I won’t go into more detail.

This is unprovoked. I’ve been sitting and crocheting (and going out and buying yarn and yes, walking around plenty, thank you, Mom), have been on a diet that should be reducing abdominal upset, and for all intents and purposes, my digestive tract is fine.

And yet, there is pain. I’m sitting here now resisting the urge to break out my bag of cloth pads that I still haven’t figured out what to do with (who wants secondhand menstrual pads? not many people in the First World), because everything except my logical brain is telling me that I’m about to start bleeding.

I was warned, as I mentioned before, that scar tissue would probably grow back. I was prepared for the bodily-function aspect of it – after all, that was a big complication that nearly made my surgery much, much more involved than it was. My organs were fused together, endometriosis can never really be eradicated, it causes scar tissue, badabing, we have regrowth.

It’s just a little weird to experience this aspect. I have one ovary left. I must be ovulating. I have to be ovulating. There’s no other explanation. Ovulation causes endometrial cells to swell, preparing for implantation, the swelling causes that “pre-bleed” feeling, and when nothing happens, the shedding begins, which brings on the pain.

The pre-shedding swelling is the toothpaste being opened.

And yet. I don’t have a uterus.

It’s creating quite a bit of mental and emotional confusion over here, just in time for the holidays, which, incidentally, also contribute to mixed feelings.

This oughta be fun, eh?

TMI-based Education

I’m here to tell you about a side effect of my hysterectomy that I’m sure happens to a lot of women, but that I don’t see discussed in many places except the deep recesses of forums.

I’m here to talk about poop.

When I got my hysterectomy, I had a very, very small bowel resection, which means that a small part of my colon was removed, and the hole closed up with just stitches. The bowel can stretch a lot, so it’s like, okay, a small section taken out doesn’t do much, right?

Considering that the reason for the resection was because scar tissue from my endometriosis had not only trapped a nodule of endometrium inside a large scar nodule (we thought it was a tumor; it was a confusing time), but did so outside the peritoneum, should tell you that this story doesn’t have a very happy ending. It was complicated, and so was recovery.

I have discovered through a series of unfortunate events over the past year that my scar tissue is growing back. I no longer have a uterus, and the bowel has moved forward to fill that small space, and my bladder can now hold a lot more before I have to use the bathroom, as it has room to expand. I’m about to get into the real TMI, because I have no shame at this point in my life.

hold onto your butts

When I have to pee, it always takes a few seconds to get the stream going. It doesn’t hurt, and it’s not uncomfortable. My pelvic floor muscles aren’t impaired (I work them regularly, as I was told to after surgery, and they’re in good shape). It just…takes a second. When I’m peeing, the stream is normal, and there’s no pain. This is something that happened pre-hystx (though it was painful, then), though it’s just begun again in earnest in the past couple of months.

When I poop, I have to prop my feet up into a squat (if you don’t currently do this, please do – it’s magic). I use my shower stool, on the lowest height, and just fire away. It takes me about 5 seconds to poop – less time than it does to pee – once I’m on the toilet. I’m not kidding – it’s glorious.

Now. There’s a catch. There’s always a catch.

Here’s where the post-surgery stuff comes into play: I have to take stool softeners, otherwise I cannot poop. Period. There is nothing I can do, nothing else I can take (OTC stuff just makes the build-up more painful), no amount of fluid I can drink to make my bowels move past a certain point. I tried for about a month (when it builds up for a while, a long session on the toilet, even with feet propped, can help relieve a bit, but it’s painful and horrible, and I’m surprised I don’t have hemorrhoids), then asked my doctor for help. She prescribed something that softens them enough that I have one good BM every morning, and it’s fabulous (for those wondering, the stool softener brings me to a type 3 or 4 on the Bristol chart, when I was working with type 1 if I was lucky, before – it’s seriously the best).

This started at around the beginning of the year.

There are a few of things at play: First, the scar tissue from the resection most likely healed tight because I wasn’t eating a lot of hefty food when I was recovering from my surgery, so there was no incentive for it to heal in a more flexible way. It happens.

Second, with my bladder and bowel in such close proximity, and both of them having had endometrium on them, AND there being one working ovary in there, means that there is likely scar tissue forming from the endometriosis still doing its thing, and binding stuff together (I have other evidence of this, as well).

Third, the peritoneum being involved means more scar tissue. Women who have C-sections deal with the same thing, because the peritoneum is the protective sac around the organs, and it does NOT like to be breached, so it kind of overdoes it in the healing process. Hence more scar tissue to add to the fray.

This is a thing. Lots of women deal with it post-hysterectomy, and some of them probably don’t talk about it because they’re embarrassed. But we’re all warned that the scar tissue will probably grow back; it’s just a matter of time. There are side effects to it, and some of us will have to go back and have more surgery to take THAT scar tissue out, and hope that it doesn’t happen again.

In the meantime, we poop in the best way we can find, and we just deal with it.

Poop is super important. We all do it. We might as well talk about it.

YOU’RE WELCOME.

The Slip’n’Slide Paradox

Way back when I was a kid in the 80s, one of the coolest things a kid could have in the summer was a Slip’n’Slide. Now, the ones back then were pretty rudimentary. You attach the hose to the end, turn it on, and little jets of water would (hopefully) cover the surface with enough water to facilitate the forward propulsion of a small body from one end to the other with minimal friction burns.

They were pretty awesome, but there was one problem: they would absolutely ruin whatever patch of yard they were on. I’m talking torn-up grass, mud, and the kind of uneven patches that usually come from someone getting their car stuck on the side of the driveway in the rain (but they keep hitting the gas pedal because they’re convinced that this time, it’ll work. Meanwhile, that portion of the yard is just beyond help).

Anyway, one summer, the kids who lived behind my grandparents actually had a Slip’n’Slide, and since we were friends with them (as proximity dictates when you’re a child), they set it up on the strip of lawn that was Switzerland as far as property lines were concerned, and we had a grand ol’ time. Actually, I don’t remember how the experience was, because it’s what happened afterward that will always stick in my memory.

To set this up: My grandfather was a highly unpleasant man. I’ve mentioned him before, I know – but when I say “highly unpleasant,” I want you to just imagine the kind of human being that movies try to make out as being just a grumpy old relative, and truly imagine that that sort of behavior actually happened in real life, and not for the sake of comedy. That was my grandfather, and worse.

He was friendly to strangers, to a point, but we were family, so that was different. As we aged, his patience with us waned, and since we were girls (he was an old Catholic man, among other things), we were what was wrong with the world, etc. So we tried not to incite his ire, but occasionally (i.e. all the time), I would do it because I was rather rash and had poor decision-making skills. You know, because I was the youngest of three girls who were so close in age that my precociousness was my only stand-out feature.

We’d packed up the Slip’n’Slide and sent it back with the neighboring children, and the yard was a mess. We were using these little bath towels to dry off, because grandparents don’t really go to the beach, especially not in Northeastern Tennessee. My middle sister made me angry. I don’t know how. I don’t really need to know how, because this was a thing between us – we just kind of half-hated each other about 30% of our young lives.

My reaction to her making me angry was the most illogical thing I can think of: I put the nice, small bath towel into the mud left behind by the Slip’n’Slide. I remember thinking that it was already in there, so I would make my sister even more sorry that she’d made me mad by squishing it around the mud with my feet, then with my hands. I angrily rolled this towel in the mud, while my sister’s eyes got bigger, and she finally made the universal “you’re in trouble” noise: The “oooooooo!” that started out at normal voice pitch and slowly rose to a squeal, like a little siren of warning.

It was then that it’d hit me what I’d done, and the next thing I know, I’m standing in the living room in my bathing suit, holding the sodden towel, as my grandfather yelled at me for what I’d done. My sister stood next to me, as I’d pointed her out as the reason I’d done it (she was ignored once he realized that she hadn’t really done anything, but she still had to stand there).

My grandfather, in all his 60-something-year-old Catholic wisdom, decided that it was high time that I learn what my actions were truly leading to: I was going to burn in Hell.

Not just any Hell, mind you: I was going to go to a giant trash pile. In the middle of that trash pile was The Devil, who was also made of trash, for some reason, and would poke me with fiery sticks and throw scalding water on me. (I think my grandfather had some sort of obsession with cleaning, though I can’t remember actually seeing him do any.) There was fire in there, somewhere, because it was Hell, but the trash is what stood out to me.

I stood, shivering (summer meant the air conditioner was on), imagining a very angry version of Margery the Trash Heap from Fraggle Rock.

I never used a Slip’n’Slide, again.

Every time I see a commercial for the product, or a nostalgic “Things Only 90s Kids Understand” post containing one of the endless variations, I get the Fraggle Rock theme song stuck in my head, and then I get very sad, which is pretty much the opposite reaction that show means to convey.

Dance your cares away,
worries for another day…

*sigh*