sharing my life experiences, reflections and insights as a mother, a writer, an Occupational Therapist and and a spiritual being having a human experience

Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Aunt Rosemarie

In loving memory of my dear Aunt Rosemarie

December 20, 1953- January 20, 2018

The first thing that comes to mind

Is my first year living on my own in Charlotte

I moved there in November of 1992 from Pennsylvania

I worked at the rehab hospital and only had off on Christmas Day

My parents were in Pa and my sister 3 hours away

So I spent the day with my Aunt Rosemarie, Uncle Stan and his 3 kids

They lived in Greenville, SC just an hour and half away

I was 23 and have fond memories of talking with Stan’s 3 kids, who are all about my age

I got together often with my Aunt who traveled to Charlotte for her work

She adopted Zach in January of 1997

I vividly remember her telling me she was adopting, maybe the month before

I recall thinking, that’s why you bought the mini van…

I found out I was pregnant in March of 1997 and can see myself holding baby Zach

Looking forward to becoming a mother as well, the same year as my aunt

I know she lived in Ohio In the 70s when we also lived there

And I do recall her being around throughout my life

Yet becoming mothers together in 1997 made me feel closer to her than I had ever felt

We met up at my parents house on Lake Murray and Zach called my son, baby Harrison

Then one day, they were nearly the same age

They came to Harrison’s Christening, Zach at just over a year eating everything in sight

My parents took Harrison to Atlanta to go see my cousin Stephen skate, meeting up with Rosemarie and Zach

They played uno with Grammy and stacked the deck when she was not looking

In many ways, Harrison and Zach were two of a kind

Abby came along 4 years later and I remember how tender Zach was with baby Abby

Obviously learning from his mom who loved children dearly

My aunt Rosemarie had 3 careers before becoming a mom, but like me, being a mom was the best

I remember how much energy she poured into becoming a mother and to Zach when he came along

She inspired me in so many ways to be the mother that I am

I remember going to Aunt Rosemarie and Uncle Stan’s wedding in 1988 in Annapolis, MD.

My parents were on a trip far away

But My sister brought my brother from eastern PA and picked me up at Elizabethtown College and then we went to MD

I realize now that my Aunts and uncles have really been more like cousins to me, many of who are so much closer to my age than are my much younger cousins

Aunt Rosemarie was only 16 years older than me, just 5 years older than my husband

It is so bizarre coming to Atlanta and not getting to talk with her

She was the center of family gatherings, hosting 3 family reunions here in Georgia in the summers of 2011, 2013, and 2015

I am so glad I came to all 3 and spent the time with my family

There is a hole without her present

And yet, I feel her close to my heart

Urging me to write and share my truth

I could go on with more memories and yet I will close this post with the inscription from inside her memory card

I’ld like the memory of me

to be a happy one.

I’ld like to leave an echo

whispering softly down the ways…

Of happy times, & laughing times,

and bright and sunny days.

I’ld like the tears of those who grieve

to dry before the Sun,

Of happy memories that I leave behind

when the day is done.

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I Will Be OK 

Songs can bring me out of my darkest times if only for a moment. Sometimes all I need is that moment to propel myself forward out of my stuck place.

You’ll be okayYou’ll be okay

The sun will rise

To better days
And change will come

It’s on it’s way

Just close your eyes

And let it rain
‘Cause you’re never alone

I will always be there

You just carry on

You will understand
You’ll be okay

You’ll be okay

Just look inside

You know the way
Let it go

Fly away

And say goodbye

To yesterday
‘Cause you’re never alone

And I will always be there

You just carry on

You will understand
And I will be strong

When love is gone

I’ll carry on…
You’ll be okay

You’ll be okay

The sun will rise

To better days
You’ll be okay

You’ll be okay

Just close your eyes

And let it rain
When you need it the most

And all you’ve got is a prayer

You must carry on

You will understand

You will understand

You will understand
You’ll be okay

You’ll be okay

You’ll be okay.
Thank you once again to: A Great Big World

I was so fortunate to hear you live when you opened for Phillip Phillips and Matt Nathanson.

Such a wonderful experience taking my daughter to her first concert. And one of my favorite opening bands of all time that I first discovered at the concert. You have such meaningful lyrics that are simple yet powerful as well as such an upbeat soul to your sound that brings me much joy. Your music has been what I have needed most in such a difficult time in my life. How ironic because I took my daughter to hear Phillip Phillips because of how powerful his music was for us in her most difficult time in her life. I know it helped me through the pain. And it formed a bond between my daughter and myself.

And thanks once again  to A to Z Lyrics for making it so easy to find the full lyrics.

A Day in the Life of a family touched by OCD

I wrote this post over 3 years ago. I never published it.  I am going to share it as I wrote it. It feels unfinished at the end and that is exactly how our life felt at that time.  I am happy to say that Abby is now functioning like a typical 14 year old for the most part, or at least like a typical unschooled 14 year old. She has overcome so much and come so far in 3 years.  Whenever I stop and think about this, I feel speechless,breathless,  amazed at how she has overcome such a severe disability. And then I breath out as reality brings me back to my current life, because we are now going through similar issues with our youngest child.  Somehow, my husband and I have two children with OCD.  We both feel compelled to help others who suffer, Don, with his coaching business, and me with my writing. We know how isolating having a child with OCD, or any mental illness can be, and we want others to know, you are not alone, there is help.  Don has recently written an ebook on OCD. His website

 

I woke up this morning and my little one was still asleep.  I checked my phone and saw my husband’s text:  “Left at 6:50, she was still sleeping”.  I stayed put checking email and facebook on my phone until my youngest woke up at 9:30.

We then headed downstairs to check on my daughter, Abby, asleep on the couch.

She said she had been up for a while but was curled up and calm.  (Thank God!)

I went in the kitchen and got her supplements and a new glass of water and a fresh straw.

I brought them to her and gave her the supplements one at a time, dropping them into her mouth and waiting for her to  reach her body across to the table where her cup sat and drink from the straw.

I then started breakfast.  I heated up pancakes for the kids as I started some hot water.  I got pancakes ready for my 4 year old.  He wanted a special cup for his juice and so I told him to get out the one he wanted which he did.  I then started sausages and then brought my daughter’s plate of pancakes, with syrup and cut and the box of spoons to her in the living room where she sits watching TV.  I set down her plate and opened the box of plastic spoons, moving the lid out of the way for her to reach in and take one.  I pointed out how many spoons were left and reminded her that we will not be buying another box of spoons.

I went back to the kitchen and started my breakfast, cut up apple, and quinoa and got it cooking on the stove and used hot water to make myself tea.  Jason was done eating now and so I got his vitamins out.

The sausage was done and my daughter was now in the bathroom.  I called up to her but she said she was too full for sausage.  I put them away in a container and labeled it “Abby” and then I put on some other sausages that she doesn’t like but Jason and I will eat.

Then she called me upstairs to help her wash her hands.  I pumped soap into her hands and then turned on the faucet, waited for her to finish, and then turned faucet off for her and went back downstairs to kitchen to finish making my breakfast.

Jason managed to play by himself and things were relatively calm.  It’s easier when only two kids are home.  My oldest had spent the night at a friend’s house.  And my husband had an all day workshop and wouldn’t get home until after 6pm.

I managed to eat, and make a batch of nettles (I soak dried nettle leaves in hot water to make an infusion which we then let cool and freeze in ice cube trays to use daily in smoothies and to drink.  Nettles are full of minerals and great for allergy relief.)

Keep in mind that my 4 year old talks almost continuously and comes in frequently to tell me or show me something or requests me to come see what he is doing.  Abby and Jason managed to play together briefly but it ended because Abby made too many rules and Jason came to me crying.  He desperately misses playing with his sister but it is not easy to play with her because he can not touch her or her spot on the couch and she does make a lot of rules when they play.  Abby tried to negotiate with him asking him which rules he didn’t like, but Jason was done.

By now it was about 10 am and so I reminded Abby that she was supposed to be Skyping with her cousin at 12.  Her cousin lives in PA and about 2 times each week they chat on skype or Google Chat.  They are working on a story together and building a house for the imaginary family on Google- Auto Desk Homestyler.

I ask her if she has a towel to use after she showers and clothes to wear.  I go to the kitchen to finish cleaning up, unloading the dishwasher etc.  She finally decides she needs to wash clothes and her towel as well as sheets.  she goes upstairs to get her clothes and comes down, “Mom, I need you to open the washer”.

“Just a minute”  and then I head down and open the washer, she drops clothes in and I tell her to get more and then I start the washer and add the soap.  She brings a few more items down and her towel but tells me she can only wash the clothes she is going to wear today.  And I tell her she needs to wash more because I can not wash clothes for her every day.  She gets mad and huffs off.

 

Dealing and Coping with Mental Illness

One of my biggest challenges in helping my children with their mental health issues, has been doing so while dealing with my own mental health issues.  I have diagnosed myself with Bipolar 2 because the mental health professionals have failed me in that area. They diagnosed me with Major Depression despite my repeated information on my bipolar symptoms. One practioner wanted me to see if my insurance would cover generic testing, in part to see if Bipolar disorder was likely. I don’t need to take a test for that. My brother is diagnosed with Bipolar 2 and has been for a long time. My brother and I share much other genetic similarities. 

I have found in helping my children, that I have been more qualified than the so-called professionals with diagnosing myself and my children. Especially my youngest child who I know has OCD and social anxiety despite failed attempts with professionals to get these diagnoses. I am a health care professional after all and hey, who knows my children better than me? No one. I homeschool/ unschool them based on my knowledge of who they are so I guess we unschool mental health too. 

That being said, we do use professionals for assistance. We have a OCD specialist therapist who has been vital in helping both my daughter and my son.  But we have been unable as of this writing to find a well qualified Psychiatrist who specializes in OCD.  We had one that was competent and who we liked (we liked her even more after we went to other Psychiatrists) but she was self pay only and we already have enough debt from medical expenses. 

Back to my intent of this post….

Helping my children when I myself am suffering my own mental illness. 

When I look back over the years, there are large periods of time that feel like a fog and in those times, just getting through each day was a big challenge for me.  One area that has been a big issues is getting my children help or following through with referrals and other things when they are doing better. 

When your child suffers with mental illness, it is exhausting, emotionally and often physically. When, they are doing better, there is a feeling of relief and wanting life to “just be normal for a while” or more normal.  As an example of this, last spring, my youngest had a severe flare up of OCD, anxiety and behavioral issues.  We went to a hospital ER to get immediate psychiatric help but because he was less than 7, we could only seek a referral to a developmental and behavioral pediatrician or go to the local mental health behavioral unit which would have been at least a 3-5 hour wait without knowing if they could even help us. We opted for the getting referred to the pediatrician specialist which involved going back to our primary for the referral and then I called to follow up but did not receive any information from them for 6 months.  I repeat, it took the Develpomental and behavioral Pediatrician practice, 6 months to send us information in the mail to complete to be seen.  Well, 6 months later, he was doing so much better. We had started OT services as well as going to the therapist we already had for our daughter. I intended to fil out the paperwork.  I must add that about 4 months prior to this visit to the ER, we had taken him to a psychologist for evaluation, but she was unable to complete her evaluation due to his inability to answer all her questions and complete her tests. It took her a couple months to send her results to us which said nothing really that I did not already know. 

Back to the referral to the pediatrician specialist.  I truly intended to fill out this lengthy paperwork to get my son seen.  I even contacted a friend who had taught him in a class situation to help with filling out some of the information. Since we homeschool, we don’t have a teacher to answer things.  He also acts differently with me than with other people, so I thought her input would be helpful. She is also the person who first pointed out the idea that he has “social anxiety”.  Yet, I have yet to begin to complete this paperwork. Now, I want to get my daughter referred to this practice in my hopes that they will have experience with OCD, particularly child-onset OCD. Because, she needs a prescribing doctor to follow her on her medication. Our previous Psychiatrist, who we did not like at all, does not take our current insurance. 

So why did I not fill out the paperwork for my son when they finally send it to me, 6 months after I requested the referral?

The only answer I really have is: my own depression and anxiety. 

My own depression made doing daily activities difficulty and anything extra was really a stretch for me to complete. I just did not have the time nor the energy to do it. I wanted to do it. It bothered me that I did not complete it. I also think that I did not have much faith anymore that these so called “professionals” could help my son.  Having the experience of taking my time to go to the psychologist assessment and gaining nothing from the experience other than frustration with the incompetence of the psychologist with knowing how to handle a kid with severe anxiety and getting help for us, I had little motivation to pursue this next avenue of help.  

So was it my depression and Axiety that prevented me from getting the help for my son?  

Or was it because I no longer believed that the professionals could help my son?

Most likely a little of both. 

I took some steps today to get my children the help they need.  Despite the utterly inadequate NC government health care system, I soldiered on with 2 different phone calls and even talking to the person who is my “case manager” who I find particularly incompetent and unprofessional.    I know know that I need to do research to find a psychiatrist that takes our current insurance, NC assisted: NC Healthchoscie for Children (when your income is too high for Medicaid). They had Medicaid until the beginning of this year. My husband is self employed and my prn work status does not qualify me for health insurance through my employers. I work 2 jobs. 

I also plan to find that paperwork and fill it out for my son too. Hopefully, I can find it, buried in the piles of paper at my desk. And I do plan to ask my friend to help me fill out the information. She now has seen my son at least weekly in class and might have some valuable insights and opinions to share. 

So this is my affirmation to myself to make these items a priority. 

If you also deal with mental health issues and have other family members with mental health issues, I would love to hear your challenges, thoughts and insights.   Let us help each other. 

Cuatro De Mayo: Celebration of 5 years of Rebirth

On Wednesday, May 4, 2011, my 51-year-old husband suffered a massive heart attack in our home, coming in from moving the lawn with a weird pain in his upper back on the right side which later traveled up his neck and around his ear.  His RIGHT arm was cold and clammy. Despite, my years of CPR training required for my work as an Occupational Therapist, it took me a while to realize that this was indeed a heart attack. His symptoms were atypical. It is usually the left arm and later, the doctor told him, “you had a heart attack like a woman”.

I remember searching in the basement for my bag from when I worked in home health care- over 5 years earlier- for my stethoscope and cuff.  I remember his pulse was faint and slow. Looking back, I don’t know why it took me so long to call 911.  Don had no idea he was having a heart attack.   I finally called 911 and frantically searched for aspirin that I knew we didn’t have when the 911 operator asked if we had any aspirin.

About 5 minutes after the medic arrived, Don went into full cardiac arrest.  It looked like he had a seizure and he became unconscious.  I remember the other medics arriving just as this happened and remember them rushing us out of the living room where we all had been standing and watching as Don went into full cardiac arrest.  I recall walking the children around the corner into the kitchen and sitting on the steps and I began tapping (EFT).  Looking back, I believe the only way I was able to do this was that Don’s spirit was alongside me.

I could hear the medics and understood everything they were saying.  I listened intently to them as I made an effort to comfort my kids.  They used the defibrillator and I could hear them say,“he has a pulse but it is faint”.  If memory serves me right, they used the defibrillator 3 times while he was in the living room before they moved him out to the ambulance to get him to the hospital.  He was in ventricular tachycardia when they left and his face was dark blue. 

 I am forever grateful to the Robinson’s Volunteer Fire Dept. and that medic who stayed with me and asked me, “Do you have someone you can call?”  

My mind went blank. Who should I call?  He asked about family or friends.  I had many friends but tried to think of someone who lived close.  I then though of Lia who lived only about 10 minutes from me and called her and her mom took a message which she quickly got to Lia.  Lia arrived quickly and drove me and the kids to the hospital.  The medic offered to follow me to the hospital, but I knew I needed someone else to drive.  And then Lia could stay with the kids.  As I type this 5 years later, I can picture it like a movie in my mind.  I remember Lia’s calmness and her suggestion to drop me off at the emergency room entrance and then she went to park the car with the kids.  I vividly remember walking into the hospital and asking to find a bathroom first!  I wrote a post on that one.  Then I came out and asked where he was.  I remember standing just outside a small room/ ER area and the doctor telling Don, “you had a heart attack” Don was awake but did not see me and gave the doctor a crazy look when she told him he had a heart attack.  They told me they were bringing him to the cath lab.That all seamed to happen in less than a minute.  They rushed him upstairs and I never got to say anything to him.  He has no memory of that experience.

The next 2- 3 hours were the longest hours of my life. They first brought me to the cath lab floor to a very small room to wait.  I told them that my friend would be coming up with my three kids and was there somewhere bigger we could wait.  They then brough me to the cardiac cath waiting room which was empty due to it being after 6pm.  The nurse or someone had told me it would be about 2 hours and when that time passed, I started to panic.  And Lia, with her calm sense of problem solving called the front desk, or maybe she suggested I do that,finding the number for me and later we learned, that they did not realize we were waiting there because usually after hours, they have family wait in one of those small rooms like they first brought me to.

We watched Idol as we waited because that is what we would have been doing at home. We had been watching American Idol as a family for a few years. Abby needed the distraction.  We ate peanut butter crackers from the vending machine for dinner.  Lia had lots of change on her.  She really was my angel throughout this experience and I don’t know how I would have done it without her. 

You can follow the rest of the story below. 

I will now share a post I started sometime after he returned home from the hospital. This post  was dated December of 2011 before I updated it.   It is a post that I started, but never finished nor shared.  I am sharing it now as we celebrate: Cuatro De Mayo, Don’s 5th anniversary of rebirth. 

I began journaling through the experience of my husband, Don’s  heart attack through Facebook posts.

I began the posts as a way to quickly update family and friends about Don.   I later realized that the posts could also serve as journal entries for my “in the moment” feelings and thoughts.

So now, just over 12 weeks later, I am looking back on my Facebook posts and will share them here.

Note: It has been nearly 5 years since Don had his heart attack.  I started this post copying all my posts from May 4 through May 10 including a blog I wrote.  Now I want to add the remaining posts for May 11- 16 to include  all the days he was in the hospital. But I have to figure out how to do that! So until I do, I will share it as it is.

This is a chronological listing of my Facebook posts. When I first did this, I went back and even included my comments in reply to other people posting to me. I left the posts “as is”including mispellings.  I added some things for clarification in parenthesis.   I also have a few times summarized a post like a conversation with Harrison that we had on Facebook. When Don had a heart attack May 4, 2011, Harrison was 13, Abby was 9 and Jason was 2.

May 4     8:56pm    

please pray for Don. he had a heart attack and is the hospital at Presby Main. all here right now. he’s in cath lab..talked to nurse waiting to hear from doctor.

May 4     10:10pm

Don is stable. waiting to go see him

May 5     4:23am

don is doing better but still in CCU and will be there several days. I Got to see him Ad talk to him and then we came home.kids did not (see him). just called to check on him. he’s improving. will know more later . going back to hospital soon. thanks for everybodys prayers. keep praying

May 5 at 7:29am

here with Don. he’s improving. in CCU all today. he can eat now. feeling some relief

May 5 at 9:07am

Thank God for 911 and the medics with Mint Hill and the other station. and the Cardiologist and nurses and team here at Presby. so glad I live in a big city. and all my friends and family and being here talking with Don and knowing he is improving.

reply to a comment:  Thanks Michele. Holding up ok. He is talking and eating and joking. Still in Cardiac care unit for t least a day or two and then to step down unit.May 5 at 10:38am ·

May 5 at 3:36pm

trying to figure when to go to hospital again and dinner for my family (with all our food issues)

reply to comments and friends offer to bring food:

You guys are awesome. I know Leslie mentioned shopping. There are things at Trader hoes (Joes) we need. We can eat some wheat but we have been eating gluten free and my biggest concern is Abby and not changing what she has been eating too drastically. She has been gluten and egg free and the other big thing with her is no preservatives and artificial colors…
Rice and potatoes and vegetables. Potatoes of all kinds…fruit is great for H and J. They eat a lot of fruit! And we do eat Ezekial Bread…found at most stores in frozen foods.

And Abby loves meat. Yet with her OCD /abxiety issues I am not sure what she will eat that others have made. She still has not been able to eat out.
I am so happy for meals right now cause I an not sure how I an getting through this other than this is far better than the alternative.May 6 at 4:44am ·

I am trying to ask for help (not easy for me) cause the other thing I may need…and right now I have my parents here til sat and then my sister in law comes in Fri – today thru Tuesday. Will be help with day to day at home…cleaning up…for those that k ow me, housework is not my thing. I love doing laundry but other than that…
I an trying to think ahead cause I know it will be great with my family…my sister in law is a nurse but she lives in St. Louis and so when she leaves…is likely to be about when Don comes home and right now that idea overwhelms me.
I am taking it one day at a time. I an just trying to reach out because that is not something I do well. And ask for help when I feel strong enough to ask for help (cause asking for help aibt easy fir me!)….but man am I learning fast!May 6 at 4:50am

May 5 at 6:18pm

back with Don at hospital. he continues to improve.

May 5 at 9:28pm

a picture of Abby and Olive- Olive in Abby’s ballet skirt

May 5 at 10:50pm

loves my family and friends. don – I love you. healthy healing heart ..tap tap tap

reply to the comments:     Thanks everyone! You know I love prayers in every form and every religious or non perspective! And healing energy and all of it…its all energy I think its all helping. In so many ways its amazing he is still here and improving.May 6 at 4:53am

May 6 at 5:08am

I would like to post a picture of my mother and also one of Don and I….can’t seam to find many pictures other than of my children…May 14 is Don and my 17th So glad my honey is still here with me….just trying to do what I need after a good 5 hour rest , while everyone sleeps… My new mantra”the past is behind me… only look and move forward”

May 6 at 5:14am

Dancing with my love at a family wedding Abby about a year asleep in my arms.

(changed my profile picture to this picture of Don and I dancing at a wedding with Abby asleep in my arms)

May 6 at 5:47am

one more source of help could be friends coming to be with kids in waiting room while I an with Don. we are going to hospital later

May 6 at 12:13pm

whoever can help me buy meeting me at hospital to be with the kids in waiting room while I am with Don. call me

May 6 at 5:24pm

thank you Lonna and everyone! anyone who can meet me at waiting room to hang with the kids over the next few days

May 6 at 10:51pm

having a good night after a rough day..fatigue hit me today. sister in law angel arrived. Lonna angel met us at hospital…talked to more friends. dons improving. hoping to sleep more tonight. Needs: taking trash to dump. strong person to lift battery so we can put lawnmover away

reply to comments:  Rough day for me. but Don is doing well…improving well.May 6 at 10:56pm

later reply to comments:  Thank you all. forgive my impersonal reply. FB and my BB are helping me through. I did sleep a good stretch. The adreneline high I was on, has ended to some extent although when I wake up, I figure I need to get out of bed and do something cause I will likely not fall back to sleep quickly. and need food and waterMay 7 at 4:43am

one more:  plan to go back to lay down in a bitMay 7 at 4:43am

May 7 at 4:41am

Slept about 11:30 til 3:30 woke with some bizarre violent dream. Called hospital, don is doing well and sleeping Yea! and he relieved his bloated feeling earlier (you know I work in health care and so I may come across weird with what I post).
The Presby nurses are awesome and answer all my questions cause I need to know as much detail as possible having an anatomy background and all.
J ust wish I could be at hospital 24/7 but it feels good to be home and be here for my kids too. We are all sleeping in my room and have gotten all to bed within 30 minutes or so once we are up there. Feels good to have them close.

reply to comments:   “Thanks Kamilla he is doing well and improving yet it will be a slow recovery and he has another artery with blockage that they have to reasses and in one month check for permanent heart damage. (figure you may understand some of this being a nurse). Getting lots of great help right now.May 8 at 9:55am ·”

May 7 at 5:00am

I need to get real organized real fast. has any one heard about or had experience with Inclusive Health.org? I was told it was a state program to get insurance for anyone. we have a major medical plan covers hospitalization at 80% but no follow up coverage and no coverage for cardiac rehab insurance agent told me to contact them and they will cover anyone.

May 7 at 5:20am

went to inclusivehealth.org NC sponsered company for coverage. went to find a local agent and list is very long for Mecklenburg County…anyone have any experience, know of anyone who has used them or an agent?

May 7 at 6:22am

found a rep in Mint Hill, sent a message. Feels good to be getting some of these things done. more sleep later in day. food and drink got rid of headache, time talking with my Dad. guess time to shower while everyone is still sleeping. plan to go to hospital by myself today once Jason is up and settled. going to let him sleep as long as he needs after two difficult early mornings. breath…..

comments:   Don should get PT today and I really want to be there when they come byMay 7 at 6:22am

comments:  “the past is behind me, keep moving forward”

May 7 at 6:22am

May 7 at 1:34pm

got to spend time alone with my honey. he got to sit up in a chair and walk to toilet. he is progressing well. he got sleepy and needs rest.

reply to comments:  “We appreciate all the prayers and well wishes and I a. Happy to let everyone know how he’s doing. Don’t mind people asking either.May 7 at 2:23pm”

reply:  “Thank you. He had stints put in right away. We won’t know if he needs more for a few months. He has to recover before they can even see how much damage was done to heart…that will be a good month before they can check that.May 7 at 11:09pm”

May 7 at 4:09pm

home with my family…my parents left. have my wonderful sister in law here. my house has. never been so clean and we have clean laundry! kids have had playmates. will go back to see don. he did sleep some

reply to comments:  “Thanks Joyce. Helps to hear that. Happy Mothers Day to you. We have lots of positive thinking going on. He lived and that is all that matters right now…he survived that..we can get through anything. Best mothers day gift ever…my husband alive and doing well.May 8 at 9:53am

-May 7 at 4:51pm Harrison uploaded a photo of Don and I (more recent photo) because I wanted it for my profile picture

May 7 at 11:12pm

we all went to see Don tonight and he was feeling much better and had slept and got to sit in a chair and visit with us. it felt wonderful. kids made him pictures. we love you Don-daddy!

May 7 at 11:20pm

I have the best mothers day gift ever…my husband is Alive and improving and I get to go spend time with him early tomorrow. challenges bring perspective …I am so grateful

Inquiry about if Don is  still in same room-

My reply:  “Yes but he may be moving today in morning don’t know when. But will move to cardiac step down unit. He apprecited you coming and is ok with visitors…he wants the distraction. Just short stay esp if he seams sleepy. He has not slept much. He slept best yesterday and was doing real well last night for our family visit.May 8 at 2:50am”

May 8 at 3:14am

just talked to Dons best nurse…Sharon we love you! and I am feeling relief. I can bring him any foods. she will get social work consult for us. she understood what probiotics are. Ahh……and she was there when the other nurse looked at me H and J and said “no children under 12 allowed”- and let us in. Daddy needs to see his kids and they him…its part of what is healing him along wirh modern medicine!

comments:  “don’t anybody tell me Don can’t see his kids! I understand the hospital policy but love trumps policy. I Will keep j in my arms in hall. Just one more day of CCU then that won’t be such an issue.May 8 at 3:17am”

Comments:  “Its just hard with all we are going through to wallk on the unit with the kids and have everyone look at you with that “why are those kids on this unit?” and I just want to shout. We are visiting their Dad! You don’t know what they saw at home with the medics….they need to see him and he needs to see them. Its part of our healing…Dons included!!!!!!!! Modern medicine is wonderful and so is love!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!May 8 at 3:19am”

comments:  ” Its these little things that are tough on me right now. Seeing my needs more and. More as I am out of SURVIVE mode and now am moving on to other emotions and boy is it a roller coaster. But I got through him almost leaving us…I can get through anything now.May 8 at 3:22am”

May 8 at 4:13am

Sat May 14 is our 17th anniversary. I am so glad my honey is here with me! He was last in the hospital 17 years ago on our honey moon, ask us about that funny story. I love him so much.

comments:  I had a conversation with Harrison about cropping the picture for my profile picture and then about how Jason is doing.  my final comment back to him:   “Thanks. I can likely come home before he needs a nap and then come back over here. But while he is happy I will take some quiet time and be close to Dad. But will likely come home sooner rather than later for his nap…so I can nap too and then we can come back or at least I can or Ann can or something.May 8 at 9:00am”

May 8 at 4:23am

Happy Mothers DAy to my wonderful Mom! It was so helpful having you here when I needed you most. I wish I could find a picture of you to post as my profile, when I scan my pictures, all I find is the kids….:)
You are the best mom and the reason I am the mother than I am.
I love you Mom.

May 8 at 4:42am

I have started blogging about this because I know I have to and need to. And I don’t need to hide my writing but share it for anyone who wants to read it.

ginaslifejourney.wordpress.com

Perspective. Having your 51 year old healthy husband have a sudden heart attack and go in to cardiac arrest in your living room with 2 kids, age 2, 9 and 13 standing by (and thank God, the medics who had gotten there before he arrested) is a life altering experience to say the least.   …
Ahh…..talked to Dr. Iwoka. he is moving to step down today. things are going well. I like him for more than just saving the love of my love and best friend.

my reply to comments:   ” Thanks Adael! Happy Mothers Day to you. This was the most I got to talk with the doctor and watch him assess Don. Our nurse told us he was rated the Best Cardiologist. Helps to hear that. And I like how he answered my questions. It eases my mind.May 8 at 8:57am”

May 8 at 9:43am

Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers and those who act as caregivers and mothering roles….including my sister…the best big sister anyone could have

my comment:  “And my husband is included in this”

May 8 at 9:47am

*converstaion with Harrison about how Jason is doing and me waiting for them to move Don

May 8 at 10:03am

hanging in waiting area while Don tries to sleep..looking out window thinking ..one nurse told us CCU used to be labor and delivery and likely was 131/2 years ago when Harrison was born. he may have been born very near where Don is on CCU…has a spiritual kind of comforting feeling to me in a weird and maybe silly way….

May 8 at 10:10am

was able to peek in window and not click door…Don is sleeping so I am letting him rest. think ill take a walk and get my jacket in the car…its freezing in here!

May 8 at 11:14am

Jody posts a picture:

Princes Harrison and Jason with their crowns

May 8 at 12:05pm

Dad in his new room (picture)

May 8 at 12:26pm

Don is moved to Step down. things are good. great nurse here. think I will head home for a bit. this is a big step! yea!

May 8 at 2:04pm

and sometimes I need to cry and let it all out….I guess the whole thing is just beginning to sink in or are moving out of a state of shock…and over tired….I know all will be well but its ok too to say this really sucks

reply to comments:  “Yes tears are good…a release of energy and I an glad they are coming.May 8 at 4:12pm”

and another reply:  “Love all the hugs and thoughts…helps me outMay 9 at 12:33pm”

May 8 at 4:13pm

slept well and feel refreshed…boy I needed that. Ann and h and J<supposed to say A> going to see Don. me and J going soon yet cool to be home with just my J

May 8 at 7:32pm

don doing great! love his new nurses on 3D. going home for dinner with my family -1. don needs rest.

May 8 at 7:57pm

thinking about tomorrow and play mates for jason …

May 8 at 8:34pm

need to spend lots of time at hositsl next two days as Don may come home tuesdsy and I need to tslk to nurses.

May 9 at 4:41am

Out of shock and on to next stage. still counting all my blessings yet nervous about next steps of this endeavor.

didn’t get to finish my post…3D nursing staff is awesome! Presby hospital has been awesome. Feels good knowing he is in good hands there. He might be getting PT today! Eager to get to hospital and be there all dayMay 9 at 4:43am

May 9 at 5:17am

I am thankful for prolactin 🙂

May 9 at 8:18am

Don is tired today and has low grade fever. he sent me message but it wears him out to do so. can’t wait to go over to see him. kids are all still sleeping here as I BB next. to them…we are all in one room together.

May 9 at 12:39pm

at hospital with Don. he is resting but doing as expected. fever is not a concern. he will be going to cath lab tomorrow t0 have other blocked artery stinted. then will come back to room he is in now. it is about an hour procedure according to nurse (and Much easier this time since it is not an emergency)

May 9 at 5:01pm

home now. don is tired but doing well. we don’t know what time he will go to cath lab in the morning. 7am or later so I will be there by then. mom is coming back later tomorrow. got a friend who can come early and stay the day. I will be good to have the stint done to open the othwr artery and know that is behind us yet is a new venture to process and think about.

May 10 at 1:19am

got some sleep. my 3 angels are sleeping all next to me which feels so good. Ann visited Don tonight and he is doing well yet very tired. procedure sometime today…7am or later. ill be there and Will keep ya’ll posted. (I can’t believe I just wrote ya’ll…I must be a southerner now…been here 18 1/2 years!)

May 10 at 2:17am

Blogging again about this experience.

ginaslifejourney.wordpress.com

I sleep maybe 2 or 3 hours and then lay there with so many things going through my mind so I get up to get something done because there are many things to do.   …
reply to comments:  “Thank you. It means so much and I know all the energy and prayers are helping as much as modern medicine is. There are miracles happening every day all around me and I feel so blessed.May 10 at 2:40am”

This is part of an email I sent to a friend on May 9, 2011, just 5 days after my husband had a heart attack.  I have added some additional information in<> to clarify the message but otherwise kept the message as I typed it to my friend because I feel it shows the emotion I was feeling so early on in this experience.

“I think I was in shock for several days when this happened.  We had no idea he had issues other than his family history but he is the youngest of 6 siblings. We eat so healthy and he exercises…etc etc.  I don’t know how I got through him arresting in our home, thank god the medic was already here when he did and then waiting in the hospital for over 2 hours with my friend and kids, when we should have been home watching American Idol, and wondering if the doctor would come out and tell me he was dead.  I watch too many ER type shows, Gray’s Anatomy.  I didn’t even cry that first 24 hours or until I was driving back to CCU the next morning alone.
It is a relief to say these things.  I have great support in many ways but to be able to talk about this esp with someone who gets my parenting style , has good communication skills :)and with someone who has been there helps me a lot.  I know I need to call you.  Right now we are all nervous about him coming home. We want him home but after our traumatic 911 experience, <I’m nervous about him coming home to our family which includes>  my 9-year-old with OCD and my 13-year-old (his own much milder anxiety issues) and me.  I picture myself standing over him checking his vital signs every 30 minutes.  I am thankful I am and OT and feel fine with understanding his rehab, but the medical stuff scares the crap out of me.  I have to reassure my kids esp my daughter that we will have all the instructions we need from the hospital about signs to watch for but inside I am terrified.  I wish I could be with him 24/ 7 right now while he is in the hospital but feel safe   especially now that he is out of CCU with where he is .
ahh…wow…I do need to talk about this…and for me writing is even easier than talking…thus my blog  but I also need to call you and have someone who can really listen “

March 21, 2016

Writing

Writing is my passion. It is who I am.

I remember getting my first diary. It was a gift from my sister for my 10th birthday.  I remember because I have this diary and every diary and journal after that first one. When I have read through the entries of my childhood diaries, I have realized that I remember the events described in the pages because I wrote them down.

Parenting and Work

When my oldest son was born, November 10, 1997, we had a plan in place.  I would return to work full-time after a 12 week maternity leave and my husband would stay at home with him while he grew his business.  I was able to return to work at 32 hours a week and remain fulltime.  Before my son was born, this plan sounded great.  I remember telling my co-workers that the father could be the primary caregiver as well as the mother.  My plan was that once my husband’s business grew enough,  I would reduce to part-time hours.  In 1997, I could work “prn” and earn double my full-time hourly rate. It sounded so easy, I could work 20 hours per week (without benefits) and make same amount of money as I did working 40 hours. 

Birth and Bonding

I had hoped for a natural birth but only took the hospital birth class and one offered by my NP at my OB-GYN office.  I wound up being induced with an epidural but was so glad he was born without a c-section.  I intended to nurse for 6 months because that was what was recommended by the AAP at the time.  I was very happy to have a healthy baby boy yet boding with him took time.  Parenting was a whole new experience for me. When he was 12 weeks old, I had to return to work. It was the most difficult thing I ever had to do. 

Motherhood and Parenting

Going back to work was so difficult for me. I was glad he was home with my husband when I went to work and I don’t think I could have left him otherwise.   I wanted to be home full-time with my baby!  Don, my husband, told me he would get a job so I could stay home. We had a plan. He had quit his job to be in business full-time for several reasons but a big one was because he wanted to be involved in his child’s life and be there. His previous job required regular travel.  We both knew we wanted to raise our child and not have the child in day care. We shared the parenting experience and he worked when I was home.  Yet, from that moment when I returned to work, my goal became to find a way to work from home. 

Employment and Working from home

I remember researching working at home opportunities. All I remember about that is ordering some ribbons to make some bows for a company, but the ribbon was tiny and I never made any of those bows.  It was 1997 when my first child was born and we had the internet because my husband wanted it for his business but I did very little on the computer back then.

My job changed dramatically in 1999 with the many healthcare changes that happened. I no longer had a job 4 miles from home working 3 full days and 2 half days.  I had to drive to two different nursing homes, one 45 minute drive and the other a 90 minute drive and work in both each day to keep my job. My salary was cut by 15% and my benefits changed including less paid time off and higher healthcare costs.    I did that for 9 months and managed to change my hours to working just 4 days per week and remained full-time but started job hunting.  Because of the changes in healthcare, there were not many jobs to be found at the time. 

In 2000, I found a new part-time job in home health care. I had more flexible hours and could do my paperwork from home.  Moving from full-time work to part-time was a big jump. Also, having to manage my own schedule was a significant and challenging change for me.   My income was half that year being part-time compared to full-time.  (as a side note: when my husband quit his job to go full-time into his own business, ( because  I pushed him to do so saying I could support us) our combined $100,000 income went to $50,000 that was 1996.  When I returned to work in 1998 at only 32 hours per week, my income was $42,000).  I share all these figures to truly paint the picture for you.  We choose to live on less because being home with our child was more important to us than having a bigger house and a newer car. We were looking at moving to a new home in 2000 but because  our lower-income, we had to suspend that plan.  My husband’s business was slowly growing but I remained the primary breadwinner for some time.

An Idea Is Born

I attended my first LLL meeting when my oldest was 3 weeks old.  I was looking for support with breastfeeding with returning to work.  Being in the room surrounded by moms and babies and children, even nursing toddlers, was an eye-opener to me!  I swore I would never nurse my baby past age one. Yet, being surrounding by attachment parenting moms was a new world for me. I can remember  talking to a mom of a 3 month old. She worked as a nurse and worked nigh shift so she was home with her baby in the day.  I can hear here saying something to the effect of, “aren’t they wonderful “(meaning the babys).  I was still bonding with my baby and adjusting to motherhood at that stage.  I know deep inside of me, my soul knew that this was the life for me. 

My oldest, Harrison, developed a love for road signs at an early age.  You can read more about this here.  I became more involved in the attachment parenting world and learning from my son how to be a mother.  From these two aspects, an idea was born.  I envisioned a conscious parenting website and called it, “Mommy, Daddy, STOP”.  My meaning in this name was “Mommy, Daddy, stop what you are doing and pay attention to me because I will be a baby and a child for a short period of time and spending quality time and quantity time with me is important.  And stop reacting and just parenting the way you were parented, but consciously choose your words, actions and your method of parenting.” By this time, my husband’s business had morphed into a website business and he secured the domain name for me even before I started the website.  I spend time writing about parenting and created a notebook full of ideas for my website.  As I write this, I am picturing my notebook with colored pen marks and realize that I need to find this notebook!

Flash Foward to 2008

I finally created the site on the Ning platform with the help of my now 10-year-old son. And I created a homeschooling website on Ning as well.  I was motivated to finally jump in and do this  because my husband had lost his job August of 2008 when I was three months pregnant with our third child. Backing up…My husband sold his website business in summer of 2007 and then went to work full-time for the man/company he sold his business too.  This was a wonderful opportunity for our family. We had regular income for the first time in years and I was able to not work outside the home for the first time in years.  And it was what I was waiting for to even attempt to have a third child.  I had my second child in 2002 after a year of attempting and one early miscarriage.  I was working in home health care and was able to very slowly return to work when she was 8 weeks old. Literally working just 3 hours per week for several weeks before increasing to about 6 hours per week and slowly increased to an average of about 15 hours per week.

Ning Websites

In 2008, creating a website on the Ning platform was free of charge.  Ning is a platform for creating a social media website which was new and fresh at the time with the growing popularity of that big social media website, you know, Facebook.  I also found work again, prn work as an OT at a local nursing home that summer without telling them I was pregnant.  I needed to bring in some income while my husband rebuilt his business and before my new baby was born! I also poured my time into primarily my homeschool website thinking it would be the one to first bring in income, eventually.  I had no initial plans for making money, I just knew the site would benefit the homeschooling community at a time when it was difficult to find out about homeschool support groups and area resources.  I trusted in the universe that somehow over time, this pursuit would bring me income in order to be home full-time with my children.  And I began posting articles on my Parenting site; the tag line for Mommy, Daddy, Stop was : consciously parenting our children, our parents, and ourselves. 

Baby number three is born in 2009

I worked until mid December of 2008 and then went on unpaid leave. When you work prn, you don’t really “go on leave” you just don’t sign up to work any hours.    He was due January 4 but my other two children were born before their due dates: 12 days prior and 4 days prior. Jason was born on January 8, 2009 in our kitchen, an elective home birth with a lay-midwife.Yes, that story is for another post. I remember getting called from a co-worker after a few months asking if I would be coming back to work.  I told them I wasn’t ready to come back to work yet.  We managed to live from savings and eventually credit because I wanted to be home full-time with my baby for at least a year.  And I did not return to work until after he was  a year old but our financial situation was demanding it and it was a crazy hard decision for me. 

Don’t Look Back, Keep Moving Forward: Depression Post 3

I wrote my last post  Twisted Sister on January 13, two and a half weeks ago. It fits into  my my Don’t Look Back, Keep Moving Forward post series -post two as well as the first post written on  December 15, 2015.  I can now see that I have made great progress in the past month.  I personaly feel my last post has alot to do with my recent progress, as well as the actions I am taking for my mental health.  Sure, I would imagine the medicine I am taking helps me to move forward, yet without the other components, I’m not sure how much the medication would really help me.

One huge component has been my participation in the Emerald Live Group which meets montly in person to do personal transformation work on “taming our inner ego”, aka, the negative critical voice in our head which kicks us dowen and prevents us from living up to our full potential.    Not only do I have to show up montly, but there are exercises to do each week. (I will be honest, I haven’t done the exercises in over two months, yet I did them for 6 months prior.)  There is also a Facebook group and montly phone calls.  For me, participating in the Facebook group page along with the in person meet ups has been very helpful to me.  Facebook is my main connection to the outside world because most of my life I am either at work with elderly people or assisting my three children with their homeschool/ life journey.

I am a caregiver at work, with my children, and now to some degree for my parents.  That much caregiving is a certain recipe for burnout and personal depletion.  Or it can be, if I do not take care of myself and give myself vacations from “caregiving”.  No, I can’t ever really stop being a mother, even if I am physically not in the same state as my kids, I am still their mother and because they are minors (well, even my 18 year old needs mom, often via text) I always know, I could get a call or a text about them with something urgent to handle or discuss or some kind of scheduling conflict to solve.   I have to balance thier needs with mine.

Parenting is a juggling act.  I made a plaque for my husband shortly after he first went into business for himself in 1996.  And later in 2002, I added to it.  I titled it “Juggler’s Award” and I drew a pciture of  a clown balancing on a moving board, juggling balls and I and etched around the clown the names of his various roles in life:  “Partner, motivator, husband, friend, business owner, lover, managaer, uncle, son, brother, salesman, listener, home-maker, and father.”

When was the last time you stopped and thought about all of the roles you play in your life?

I have done that exercise of listing my roles, yet, the challenge is really in consciously choosing how we spend our time.  First, we need to look realistically how we ACTUALLY do spend the hours of our days and then compare it to our priorities and values.  Only then, can we make action steps to make changes in our life and better schedule our time. There may be things we need to let go of and say goodbye to, if even just for now.  We might need to spend less time playing games on our iphone and scrolling through Facebook and schedule set times to check emails so important messages are not missed.  We may need to schedule time with our children, maybe even individual time, as well as time with our partner and/ or friends. Most importantly, we may need to schedule time for ourself, to engage in a hobby we enjoy, or make steps forward with something we are passionate about or want to pursue, and time to relax and just be.  Just be who we are, the real you, deep down in your inner soul, the person you are meant to be.  And even though I say, “we” and “you”, I mean “me!” Yet, maybe some of it fits for you.  Take what works for you, find your own way,  and leave the rest.

Once again, Pandora has graced me with an appropriate song as I write.

Thank you Tom Petty and Lyric Find

No, I’ll stand my ground, won’t be turned around

And I’ll keep this world from draggin’me down

Gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down

(I won’t back)

Hey baby, there aint’t no easy way out

(I won’t back down)

Hey I will stand my ground

And I won’t back down

Well I know what’s right, I got just one life

In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around

But I’ll stand my ground and I won’t back down

I Won’t Back Down

Songwriters: Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty