Monthly Archives: May 2011


Will the real Carole Penner please stand up? Because the person I knew hasn’t been around for awhile.  Am I the only person to have had surgery and feel as if an alien has inhabited my body? I so wish I would have thought about knee surgery last year, not now when I’m trying to get ready for a life-changing event. I think moving ranks number one on the list of stressful events, and then to combine it with what my physical therapist calls, “a brutal surgery,” is pushing my ability to multitask.

I think it must be the meds that are still causing me to feel so alien. Even though I stopped taking them, I’ve been told they may stay in my system for a few weeks. No amount of caffeine seems to be able to shake me out of this funk.  I have to make a decision though, about when I am leaving Oregon. Like, buy a plane ticket and pack up the house. Can’t kick myself in the pants, so I think baby steps is the answer. This morning I made a Goodwill run; that’s a start. I think packing all the chachkas in the living room hutch would be a good start too. I’m thinking of having a packing and loading party in a couple of weeks.  Any takers out there? I’m buying the pizza.


Super Woman says Sayonara


I’m going to have to pack my cape away for awhile; no more Super Woman for me until my body is healed. That means learning the meaning of the words “relax,” “do nothing,” “ask for help,” and “sorry, I can’t.”  It also will include going to a part-time work schedule at school on M,W, and F. My HR person actually suggested it, saying that I probably came back to work too soon.  But what was I supposed to do at home anyway? I’ve been reading like a mad woman, I think I’ve been winning the prize for taking the most cookbooks out of the library, and today I even borrowed the book, LOST – The Encyclopedia!!  Forget picking weeds – thank goodness the house is spotless. But I do have to start packing up the things I’ll be shipping to New York. If I were in my 20’s, I’d sell absolutely everything and start completely over – sleep on a mattress on the floor, use crates for my clothes, but I’ve had a life that I can’t ignore.  So, maybe on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I’m home relaxing my knee, I can slowly but surely start wrapping up the Tiffany wine glasses I received in 1974 when I married my first husband, and all the Jewish collectibles that my mother passed on to me – and possibly reassess the rest of what I think I “must” hold on to.

I have to admit that I am in a lot of pain on a daily basis; even when I sleep (which I don’t understand at all). Another way for me to look at this is that I’ve been working at some job or another since my senior year in high school – non-stop. Maybe I deserve this little respite before embarking on the next phase of my life. Perhaps the pain is needed for me to be able to gather up my thoughts, have plenty of time to send out letters and resumes for jobs, and to reflect.

Learning To Walk Again


What a humbling experience – learning to walk again. That is exactly what I have had to do since my knee replacement. I actually practice walking properly at physical therapy (among more grueling exercises). I’m also learning to not take simple things for granted, like being able to lie down when I need to, naps,  elevating my leg, and most of all, getting up at 5:45, dressing, getting in the car and driving 40 minutes to work and making it through to 3:25.

I’m thinking that perhaps I should be doing 1/2 days this first week back. I am very tired by the end of the day, and in a lot of pain. I came home today and took a nap for four hours! But it is so good to see my students and be back in the loop, that I will probably deal with it for the rest of the week.

My house is going to be very empty after this weekend. Both the kitchen and Madelyn’s bedroom furniture will be sold – the echo will get louder. I’ve been applying for teaching positions – there are still Special Ed. positions available, even though the City of New York is laying off 4000 teachers, at last count. One of the positions is actually at a middle school called Theatre Arts Production Company School!  Now, they still value the Arts…I’m talking to you, Canby!

There may be hope for Wendy and Simba; the Humane Society has them on their list (which make take a few months), but they didn’t say “no.” I could advertise on Craigslist, but I wouldn’t want some weirdo taking them. I might try that though, and say there will be an adoption fee. Hopefully, that would weed them out.

Back To the Present


So I’m going back to work on Monday.  I got the OK from my doctor, and I’ve been practicing driving.  It is true that when a person has this kind of surgery, they have to learn to walk all over again. Where did the month go? I am so fortunate to have had 651 hours of accumulated sick time, so I could stay home and recuperate without feeling panic about my job.  I’m very excited to see my students and co-workers, and hope they missed me as well!

This has been a productive time for me too, as far as thinking through my plans and figuring out the whole house/moving issue. I actually thought more about leg pain than the house, but love the fact that I have been able to make some important decisions just by using plain, ordinary mental power. I’m no longer stuck on looking only for high school teaching positions; what was I thinking? Do I really have that much of a choice? I found some very cool positions on the NYC Ed. web site today in an elementary school and a middle school that focuses on the arts. Anyway, it seems that high schools in New York are looking for SPED teachers who are certified in a core subject area – that’s not me.

My ex and I have worked out the house issue, and when I leave Oregon, I won’t have any ties to the house; another good thing. The only issue that remains is what to do about our elderly cats. My neighbor Timothy is thinking about my offer to give him a sort of stipend so he could take care of Wendy till her demise. Simba is another issue – he has a “peeing outside of the box” problem, and at 17 yrs old and that issue, I don’t know of anyone who would want to adopt him.  However, I do believe that things work out, one way or another. Well, I’m actually tired of using that phrase; I would really like to know how things are going to work out, right now!

Having Madelyn stay with me for two weeks was a real blessing. We got along so well, and we agreed that living together seems like it will work out well.  I appreciate her very much, and am proud of the terrific woman she has turned into.

Pushing the Limit


After re-reading my Mother’s Day post, I realized that I sounded a bit negative. I think it is the loss of control I have been feeling with this surgery business. I’m not a control freak, but I do like to be able to have some modicum of control over my life. I realize that when a person is ill or in some stage of recovery from a medical issue, giving up some of that control is necessary. I tried to be in control yesterday, and ended up in severe pain as a result. I wanted to take a short walk from the Library to the mail box just a block away, but forgot that my cane was in the car with Madelyn. I figured I could handle it anyway, but halfway there and halfway back I was in excruciating pain. I was sure I had done some damage to my leg, but luckily after a grueling stretching session in therapy today, I found out that no damage was done, just muscle strains. So, my cane is in control now and my best friend! I’ve been trying to do the same with taking pain meds. I’m not worried about becoming addicted to them, I just think I can handle the pain. Not true. The physical therapist told me today that I must take the meds in order to feel good enough to exercise. But I have to be off of them in order to return to work – It’s a dilemma.

I Feel the Emotion Coming On


Mother’s Day. A day for mothers. A day to show our love for our mothers. A day for husbands to remind the kids to show extra love for mom.  A day for husbands to show extra love and attention to their wives (even though they are not their moms), thanking them for being good moms. Although I’ve bought into this special day for years, I have always believed that every day should be Mother’s Day. Not a unique thought; I’m sure I’m not the only one to think this way, and I feel the same for Father’s Day. My mom really needed my brothers and me to remember her on this day, though. The main reason was that my dad was one of those husbands who didn’t think it was necessary, since she wasn’t his mother. He also didn’t celebrate her birthday or their anniversary; not a great role model.

My dad brought out the neediness in my mom, a characteristic of her personality that seemed to stop showing when she became terminally ill.  Although many miles separated us during the last year of her illness, I remember the visits we had most fondly.  When I realized we couldn’t talk on the phone anymore, I took the next plane to the east coast. She lost the ability to speak, but she had the most amazingly large, blue expressive eyes, and I knew what she was thinking. She was bald, and she let me take pictures of her, just looking into the camera. I felt her aching to communicate and feeling trapped inside of her head.

Everyone said that she waited for Madelyn and me to arrive before letting go. Despite plane cancellations and layovers, we were able to sit with mom before she passed away the next day.

I think I’ve inherited some of her sadness about life (if that can be inherited); maybe it’s in the cells – the cells remember. I promised myself that if I became a parent, I wouldn’t be as needy as my mom. I would be happier more often, and would instill a half-full attitude in my child, where my mother’s was half-empty. It’s not easy to do all of that given this crazy world, but I keep that goal uppermost in my mind every day.

Where am I going with this….I don’t really know. It’s Mother’s Day; a time for contemplation about what is gone, and hopefully celebration for what is now.  I miss my mom, because after all she was my mom. I also think that Madelyn got lucky, because I understand her and am happy to be on this journey with her. We’re really different, my mom and me.