what’s stressing me out

i guess i’ve been kind of checked out lately. i haven’t been doing any sewing because i’ve been having a lot of pain issues. my hands, in particular, feel strange. not only achey, but also kind of puffy? it reminds me of when i was pregnant & starting to manifest pretty severe pre-eclampsia symptoms. my hands became so swollen that i had to struggle to do up buttons or turn doorknobs. but i’m not pregnant now, so i don’t know what’s going on.

i’ve also been feeling rather depressed. if i had to name a reason, i’d say it’s because my disability review still isn’t complete. the case worker called a week or two ago & told me i would have to go in for a physical exam. social security would pay for it, but i would have to see one of their doctors. they would set the appointment, including time & date. i called my own doctor to see if she would do it, because i have a hard time understanding how some random doctor assigned to me by social security would be able to provide information that my own doctor cannot. but she claims that she doesn’t understand how those exams work or how to file the paperwork, & refused. i suspect that it’s more of a money issue. social security doesn’t compensate for these exams as highly as insurance does. but that’s just a guess.

i told my therapist about it & she said, “i hope it’s here in lawrence & that you don’t have to drive to some other town for it.” that hadn’t even occurred to me! i mean, lawrence is a real town. we have a hospital & everything. surely i would be assigned to a local doctor! but when i got the paperwork, i learned that i had been assigned to a doctor in shawnee (a suburb of kansas city). my mom friend rebecca had offered to drive me or watch ramona if the appointment was set for a time when jared had to work, but she works saturdays. i could drive myself, but i’m really not comfortable with highway driving or navigating alone to places i’ve never been before (i don’t like taking my eyes off the road to look at directions). & if the appointment is especially stressful (i’ve heard that sometimes the doctors who do these exams are rude to the patients–who knows if that’s true, but it’s a commonly held belief), i’m worried i won’t be in a great state to drive myself home.

so jared is driving me & we’re getting a sitter for ramona, since the appointment is for 11am on a saturday, right when ramona would ordinarily be gearing up for a nap. she’s too old now to be willing to just fall asleep in her stroller or carrier. if we brought her, it’s more likely that she’d throw a screaming tantrum in the waiting room. plus, i kind of want jared to come into the appointment with me so i have a witness if anything weird happens, & he wouldn’t be able to do that if we had ramona with us.

this whole exam thing is really stressing me out. i have never, ever had to do this before, not even when i first applied for disability. (though, to be fair, i had quite a few specialists then, & they all submitted paperwork on my behalf.) i’ve learned that these reviews are farmed out to state agencies, & each state does things a little differently. this is my first review by the kansas agency, which might account for the differences. but considering that part of my disability is a tendency toward debilitating anxiety & depression…well, this really isn’t helping. i just keep thinking, “what if i lose my disability?” even though i know that’s unlikely. it’s still POSSIBLE, & it’s really scary. our household income would be slashed by almost two-thirds. i’d lose my health insurance. i can’t work, so there would be no way to make up the deficit. jared already has a job lined up for next year, but it’s another TA position, which doesn’t pay well. i guess three people living on $12,000 a year would make all of us eligible for medicaid (right now only ramona qualifies) & food stamps. but that’s not exactly a comforting thought.

i keep telling myself that all the panicking & anxiety in the world isn’t going to make this process any easier or make the likelihood of continued benefits any stronger, so i should just put it out of my mind. sometimes that works. usually it doesn’t. i’ve had this hanging over my head for over two months now & it’s pretty exhausting. i’ll be glad–very glad–when it’s all over.

the funny (not really) part of it is that i actually have had a lot of pain lately. it seems to be flaring up & i’m not sure why. maybe the change of seasons? nicer weather in kansas means more humid weather, & all that extra moisture in the air really kills my joints. but i’m also wondering if it’s because i’m not pumping anymore? i’ve read that some women with arthritis have less pain while they’re breastfeeding because the prolactin keeps things loose. but i stopped pumping about six weeks ago, which correlates with the spike in pain.

in other boring news, we’ve decided not to move. i probably would have agitated for it more if not for this whole review situation. i think our little family would be a bit happier if ramona had her own room & jared had a home office, & we saw some nice places where that could have happened. but jared was on the fence, & i was panicking at the prospect of taking such a huge financial leap when we don’t know what our finances are going to be like in a month or two. i talked to ramona’s pediatrician about the lead question & she said that she supported us staying where we are. i did get ramona tested again last week, but we haven’t gotten the results back yet.

ramona still isn’t walking or standing up unsupported, but she’s making progress. she has started turning around while she’s standing & leaning against walls or furniture or whatever. she is more frequently just letting go altogether & standing unsupported for a few seconds. she has started using her walkers & tooling around the house that way. she can even pull herself up to standing using the walkers, even though they have wheels. these are all steps in the right direction!

i asked jared yesterday, “what’s been the most surprising thing about parenting for you?” & without even pausing for breath, he burst out, “how long it’s taking her to learn how to walk!” she’s over 17 months old now–about 15 & a half months gestationally. that’s a late walker no matter how you slice it. still in the normal range, but jesus christ. any time now, kid. people keep telling me, “oh, that must be nice. once they start, they never stop & it’s EXHAUSTING.” obviously i don’t yet have personal experience with the rigors of a walking toddler, but i have a hard time believing that it’s really any more work than what we have now. she already climbs everything. she can crawl, which means she can just crawl away whenever she wants. she can pull up to standing on everything, so she’s constantly pulling things off of tables, etc. she even learned how to open doors the other day! i fail to see how walking will add to the chaos. but i guess i’ll find out. maybe. someday. when she’s like 23 & she finally learns how to walk. i guess we might have to deal with her wanting to walk instead of ride in her stroller, which would kind of suck.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

2 thoughts on “what’s stressing me out

  1. Crawling was a big upheaval in this household. “What do you mean I can’t just leave my baby in the middle of the living room, go to the bathroom, and find her in the same spot when I get back?” Walking was a different kind of movement, but I don’t think it made life any more difficult. We did have to be a little more careful about the stairs, but she was already capable of crawling over to them.

    It seems like Ramona hit most of her developmental milestones really early for a preemie. I wonder if that makes the walking thing more stressful? If you were already used to the idea of her doing stuff in her own time, maybe it wouldn’t seem so concerning? I dunno, I’m making stuff up here I think. LJ hit every milestone right on time, and then waited a lot longer to walk. I wouldn’t say that it alarmed me, per se, but I do think I was a little more nervous thinking “when is she going to walk already?” It took her forever because she didn’t push herself – she didn’t like falling over. Now she re-skins her knees every day because she’s trying to run on our un-even sidewalks. Oops.

    In the past few weeks, she’s decided that she has no desire to be strapped into a stroller, ever. Which means that our poor dog is getting the world’s shortest walks as we attempt to drag them both around the block. We tricked her for a while, by strapping her into her tricycle that has a handle to push it on the back. It’s basically a glorified stroller at this point… and now she doesn’t want to ride in it, she wants to push it herself. I’m glad she’s such a good walker and that she likes to run around and be active. But, oh my goodness, it would be nice to walk to the frozen yogurt place down the street from us and not have it take over an hour!

    1. maybe my stress about ramona’s walking is related to the fact that she hit all of her other milestones pretty much exactly on time. even kind of early for a preemie. & she’s always been big for a preemie too–bigger than kids that are even older than her.

      she’s making progress. a month ago, she wouldn’t walk with a walker, but now she goes on walks around the neighborhood with the walker. but the corollary is that when she doesn’t want to walk, she REALLY doesn’t want to. she will throw herself down on the ground & bang her head on the floor, regardless of where we are. & i’m also starting to feel self-conscious because it seems like there’s an even bigger age gap between her & kids just a few months older than her than between the same kids like a year ago. all the other kids in her playgroup have been walking for months. it’s like they’re all real toddlers now but ramona is still kind of just a giant baby.

      however, she’s great on stairs. i don’t even worry about it anymore. we set her loose on the playground & she goes straight for the twelve-foot tornado slide. she can climb all the way up there with no help at all. all the other moms are like, “oh my god, looks out, ramona is going for the slide,” & i’m like, “yeah, it’s fine.” people try to prevent her from getting on the stairs because they think she’s too little & i don’t even realize what they’re doing because she’s great on stairs.

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