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

Posts tagged ‘caregiver’

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 “

Spiritual Connections

When my husband was in the hospital after his massive heart attack, I had many spiritual experiences.  My husband experienced  near death as he went into cardiac arrest in our living room on May 4, 2011. He left the house in ventricular tachycardia, a fatal heart rhythm.  The medics had used the defibrillator several times before they wheeled him out of the house on the gurney. I remember his dark blue face as they took him.  I am forever grateful to the wonderful medics from Mint Hill Fire Department and Robinson Fire Department who took care of my husband and then stayed with me to help make a plan to get to the hospital.  And Lia Schwinghammer who came to my rescue and drove us to the hospital and stayed with us until I got to see Don like 4 hours later. She was one of my many angels and I had many, so I will just thank all my family and friends here.    I am also thankful for the cath lab at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte and the entire team who fixed his occluded arteries with stints allowing him to be with my here today, nearly 5 years later.

He spent 4 days in the CCU and then 8 more days in the step down unit.  I had family helping my kids at home and I would wake up usually before 4 am and head to the hospital each morning and spend the entire day with him and come home in time to put my 2-year-old to bed.  It was a crazy time and yet my priorities have never been so focused in my life as they were for those 12 days.  My husband was disappointed that he did not remember experiencing “seeing the light”.  I told him that I saw it for him.  I really do believe that.

I don’t even know how to begin to explain the spiritual experiences.There were many.  The first one was at home. I called 911 and 5 minutes after the medic arrived, my husband went into cardiac arrest.  The medics immediately moved me and my three children out of our living room.  I vividly recall taking the children to the stairs off our kitchen and sitting down with them and tapping.  I have since decided that the only way I was able to calmly sit with them and use EFT, was because Don’s soul guided us.  Later, when he was recovering in the hospital, I vividly recall being in the cafeteria getting food and hearing a song being piped into the cafeteria and I knew it was Don speaking to me.

The biggest experience was around day 8 or 9 after going with only 3 hours of sleep each night.  Because, the first night at home after his heart attack, I awoke after 3 hours with a horrible dream reliving the experience and I told myself I wasn’t going to do that again.  I did not consciously choose to not sleep more than 3 hours but that is what then happened. So by day 8,  I was very sleep deprived and living on adrenaline, and maybe even having blood sugar issues or just panic attacks.

 I had this one night at home where I  felt panicked and scared and I called my good friend and EFT mentor and therapist, Jan Luther. It was very early in the morning, too early to make a phone call, yet I decided to call her.  I heard the line pick up yet there was no one there on the other side, I began talking. I have no memory of what I said but all I know is there was silence, no dial tone, no one talking, just silence.  I think I tapped and talked.  Later, I talked to Jan about it and she told me the phone rang, she picked up and no one was there and so she hung up the phone and began tapping, because she knew someone needed her to do that.  She hung up the phone, yet I heard no dial tone.  We both knew that was spirit at work.

Just last month, my father had back surgery for his spinal stenosis.  He had the surgery on a Friday and I showed up at the hospital at 5:30 am to meet my parents to help my mom navigate the hospital system.  Surgery went well, took a little longer than expected because it was worse than the doctor had thought from the MRI and he took longer in recovery because of breathing issues. We got to see him for a few minutes in recovery area  but he was in a lot of pain but they couldn’t give him too much pain medication because they needed his breathing to improve.   An hour later, he was in his room and we went to visit with him.  He did well that day, he had to lay flat for 24 hours as a precaution but then the next day even got up with the nurse and walked to the bathroom.  I left after dinner Saturday night, with the plan to return in the morning again.  I woke up at 3:45am.  I have been waking up early for many weeks, most like from peri-menopause but usually after at least 5 hours of sleep.  I woke up and looked at the clock and said, “Why am I waking up now?”  I  had been asleep for like 3 or 4 hours.  I knew it was strange.  I should have gotten up.  I went on my phone like I usually do when i wake up early, using it in the dark in my room.   I got a text from my mom who had seen my posting on Facebook and so she texted me. It was 4:11am: 

 I’m in the family waiting room while they put restraints on Dad. Med Dr saw him then They gave him something for hallucinations and for blood pressure. Thought he finally fell asleep  when he awoke and starting lashing out violently. He is having some kind of psychotic meltdown. REally scary to see him like this.  

I immediately replied to my mom

Oh mom.  I’m so sorry.  I’m awake. I’ll just shower and come in.  It’s going to take time for the meds to clear out of his system. (We new he was reacting to anesthesia and/or medications.)

My mom was surprised how quickly I arrived, less than an hour after her message.  I showered and gathered my things for the day and drove to the hospital. It was 4:45 am, no traffic, easy drive and plenty of parking. I walked into the lobby at 5:13am.   She didn’t realize I had experience with this from the 12 days I spent going to the hospital to be with my husband.  I also had the strong feeling through my dads 5 day hospital stay that this was in part the reason that I became an Occupational Therapist.

It helps that I texted all of this on my iPhone and therefore have all the times of our conversation including the when she texted me, and I let her know when I got in the car to head to hospital and again when I arrived in the lobby.  As I read these posts, I see that she had also contacted me at 12:27am via text because my dad was asking for me. I was asleep and didn’t see those texts until morning.  I can share that in another post.  I talked to my dad tonight to get his permission to share this story and he is happy to sit with me and tell me more so I can share more of it. He believes he was talking to God and telling God to decide about leaving his body or staying.  I believe that he did experience that as well.  More on that for another post.

My dad slept all morning. They had to put him in 4 point restrains and  give him Haldol which is an injectable antipsychotic.  He had kicked a nurse.  It was weird seeing my dad in his hospital bed in restraints.  AFter talking to my mom when I got to the hospital, I had told her to get some rest. The waiting room had a couch.  I went to sit with my dad to be there when he woke up.  I was able to explain to dad as he was waking up that he was in restraints and he was calm.  Later when he was fully awake, he shared the experience with us.  He actually remembered the psychotic episode and described what he experienced. he also appologized to all the nursing staff that saw him for the next few days.   I will just summarize: he explained feeling like he was in a box and there were bad guys trying to hurt him and he had to get away.  He explained it with much more detail but I don’t want to misquote him. But he also told me he heard me laughing. He couldn’t see me or get to me but he heard me laughing.  As the day progressed, he continues sharing about what he remembered in detail from his Psychotic episode.  I wondered if some of what he was sharing was also from when he was under anesthesia for his back surgery (3 hours) as well as the 3 hours he spend in recovery getting his breathing back to normal before he could be moved to a room.

It didn’t occur to me right away, but then I realized some things. I woke at 3:45 am which is when my dad had his psychotic episode and I knew it was odd that I woke up.  Looking back, I should have realized it was my dad.  But then I got ready quickly and grabbed my things and headed out in the car at 4:45 am. I turned on the radio and “Crazy Train” was playing on the radio.  I laughed out loud.  I switched stations and heard, “Take a Walk on the Wild side”.  I had the instant feeling like I did when Don was in the hospital, that my dad’s spirit was speaking to me.  Hearing these two songs both playing at the same time on 2 different local stations tickled me.  I talked to my dad out loud in the car, laughing as I did.  And sending positive energy and love to my dad.  Cause, I am weird like that and I talk out loud in the car.  I really do, all the time.  My favorite thing to do is scan stations to find a song that fits my mood.  I never listen to commercials, ask my kids and Don, I am always scanning for a song, a good song.

Wow!  I was laughing out loud in the car and my dad heard me! 

Some would call this coincidence yet as a student of Unity, Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God books,  and just my own personal spiritual beliefs, I don’t believe in coincidences.  It all has meaning, at least the meaning we give it.  I believe on a spiritual level, we are creating our reality, all of it.

 Creation is energy and all of life is energy.  

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

 

 

Coughing into a new speed

‘Tis the season…

Three and a half weeks ago, I came down with what felt like the flu and it progressed into this coughing, bronchial, coughing, low fever, no energy illness.  Did I mention the congested coughing that did not go away but got worse?

My husband is working from home and in the process of completing some training for a new business endeavor and so he is home often and was able to take care of the kids and most meals most of the time. Which means that I had time to rest or as much time as a mother of an active toddler and two older children can rest.  I got to stay in my room or in a recliner in the living room (since sitting up seamed to be much better than laying down) yet the illness lingered far longer than any illness I’ve had.

Unfortunately my favorite go to health practioner, a chiropractor who practices Traditional Chinese Medicine and who I have been going to for 10 years, was out of the office for the first week and a half of my illness.  I did begin to slowly get better but it took three visits to her, many herbs and more rest and as I type this I still have a cough and will likely schedule one more appointment early next week  just to be sure I don’t relapse again.  I had one day where I felt good enough to take my children to the park where our friends were going and enjoyed myself but then felt 10x worse the next day.

So where am I going with all of this?

I haven’t been able to get out of the house for my weekly time away to myself and writing time.  I did manage to use my lap top at home but mostly to play games and busy myself with Facebook just to pass the time.  Sometimes you don’t know how sick you really are until you get better.  I really had no energy and so I feel far less guilty looking back on the time I spent watching Grey’s Anatomy and playing games because I just did not the have the energy to do much else.

I still need to pace myself.  Today I worked 4 hours at my outside the house job where I haven’t been in almost a month due to being sick and then got my hair cut and my husband took the kids so I did some Christmas shopping but then felt myself getting very tired.  I am tired as I write this, yet it is more relaxing to be sitting here at this restaurant wi-fi spot writing than to return home where there is always a child who wants my attention or needs my help.

I think where I am going with this is….

…learning to pace myself

No matter how busy life is, how many things we need to do.  And do we really need to do all those things on our list?

I had a big fat reminder of what is important in life, my crash course in perspective, just 6 months ago when my husband had a nearly fatal massive heart attack.  And out of the blue, I might add as he had no health history other than a family history of heart disease but like many people, he thought he was fine as he was eating very well and exercising.

When he was in the hospital, it was all so clear: what was most important in my life- taking care of my husband and my kids.  I asked for help when I needed it and for those 12 days when he was in the hospital, I was asking often!

Then he came home, and new challenges arose as we renegotiated our roles and figured out  how to live our “new life”.  People ask me if my husband is “back to normal”.  There is no going back, no more normal.  He is physically doing great and better in that way, but life is different now and will always be.  A sudden, serious life threatening event, changes life as you know it forever.  In many ways, that is a good thing.  Yet, it brings new challenges and new issues and there remains the lingering fear of what if that was not really there before, not in the magnitude and reality that it now exists.

Time passes from the “event” and you find yourself in a similar mode as you functioned before the “event”.  My husband tells me every one refers to his heart attack as an “event”, and I just find that funny.  In this case, I use it as it could refer to many different kids of life changing, traumatic events.

Then I  became frustrated that I  appeared to be “back to the way things were before”, but not really because when he was in the hospital, I swore that life would be different or at least I saw a new perspective of life and knew I would never be the same.

And so, 6 months after his heart attack, I came down with a respiratory illness, infected lungs…so fitting from a metaphysical perspective because lungs process grief.  Sometimes there is delayed grief or lingering grief.  Sure, my husband lived and made an amazing recovery and I am forever grateful for that.  Yet, I do not need to deny myself or anyone who has gone through a similar experience, that there is still grief.  There is still the lingering memories and questions and fears and doubt and worries.  My husband remembers very little about his heart attack, he didn’t even know he might be having one and then went into cardiac arrest and so remembered nothing for about 4 hours until he was in recovery in the CCU and his memories of those days in the hospital are sketchy and even his initial return home is a bit of a foggy memory for him.

I on the other hand, remember most of it all too well.  Sure, I was in shock initially and so my recall of the initial hours are a bit different from how my son remembers it and surely he was in shock too.  Yet, once we got to the hospital, I can feel it and recall it like I am still there as well as most aspects of what transpired before they took him to the hospital.

I feel like I have written about this so many times before.  Somehow, I have a need to tell this story and share my feelings and experiences.  I think it is my way of processing my grief, my lingering grief.  Maybe what I am saying sounds much like when I have written about it before and yet for me, each time I write, it helps me move forward and release those aspects of the experience that hold me down, weakening my immune system, allowing a cough to take over my life.

I think the biggest lesson I need to take from all I have written tonight is to continue to…

…pace myself.

To slow down, no matter what is going on in life and not matter how important I think the tasks at hand are to me or my family.

For nothing is more important than health and life.

If we do not take care of ourselves, our body, mind and most importantly, our soul, then it will have an effect on us.  Maybe not immediately or even in the near future, but it will in some way, impact us and most likely in a negative or possibly harmful way.

I have something new to add to my mantra….

The past is behind me, keep moving forward….AND… pace myself !

Powerful and Timely Reading, 6 months later

Tonight,  I sat to write because I knew the grief was getting to me, the persistent cough and illness that would not go away. And after I wrote several posts that no one may never read, or not right now, as I let it all out, frustrations and aggravations I have been feeling for 6 months. I spared no ones feelings, well, this is still me writing, but I really let it out.

And then I moved on to researching something which I decided to share on Facebook as a note and then I read this post, the last note I apparently wrote but it jumped out at me on my screen: my own words needing to be read by me. Here it is unedited, just as it was written in the moment, on my 17th anniversary while my husband was in the hospital recovering from a massive nearly fatal heart attack (much more fitting than “event”).

 

Working Through Anxiety and Panic

by Gina Menzo Grothoff on Saturday, May 14, 2011 at 7:04am

Working through the anxiety and panic:

One step at a time.

From the first moment, I was in a place of calm, with my mantra:

The past is behind you, keep moving forward.

 

Recently I have gotten ahead of myself, projecting into the future,

playing the “What If?” game.

I learned fear serves a purpose, it teaches us to come back to now, to the present moment and use the fear to tune into our feelings to make decisions.

I began floating on cloud nine, tuning into my feelings for everything.

I saw signs everywhere and felt so connected.

I knew Don was with me always on this earth or not and felt him talk to me as I walked the halls of Presbyterian Hospital while he rested in his room.

 

I got a bit lost in all of it, and lost my grounding and my focus on the other component of tuning into now: being in your body.

Being in this world but not of it.

I needed grounding.

And so from my adrenaline high, I came “crashing down”

into my body.

Anxiety and panic brought me back to my body and to pay attention.

Yet, anxiety and panic fed into the “Waht if game” along with people telling me, it is normal to have panic attacks after a crisis and hearing “you may have them for a long time, even 3 weeks”.

 

It is all good. I needed to hear all of it.

It brought me to take care of my body more. To stop and refocus.

And then as I took care of my body more, with nourishing foods, going to acupuncturist, drinking more water, paying attention to possible blood sugar issues, and taking some herbs when necessary to help with the anxiety.

And of course the trusting that this is a process, and there will be stages but I can’t pretend to know what it looks like, even if I have “signs” coming to me.

I can say, “Isn’t that interesting.” hold onto the vibration of the positive and stay here and now and not focused on the future.

 

Much harder to do than it sounds.

Tuning in to my other needs, my spiritual connection needs was as important as taking care of my body. I talked to the people who I most connect to spiritually.

It all brought me back to focus and to more energy work.

And the EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) brought me back to myself again last night. After having two nights with panic attacks with me way outside my comfort zone, I was anxious about the night and sleeping.

It all tuned me in to what work I needed to do with EFT, to release my fears and let go of doubt, guilt and limitation. I began to incorporate what I had learned with the anxiety and panic attacks. I had difficulty going to sleep, and so I connected on facebook by posting my truth and checking email and messages to be in the here and now and receive the love and prayers that others were sending me.

When I woke up after short sleep, and noticed I felt dry and thirsty and a bit of low blood sugar signs, I got myself something to eat and drink.

And felt calmer and then wrote more which further connected me.

Back to sleep, still having fears about sleep which I needed to work through and release all the pent up feelings I had been having.

I did EFT while laying in the bed, releasing my emotions with tears, while my three angels slept around me in my room.

It took a bit, but I was able to work through it enough to sleep again.

When I woke, and felt anxious, I allowed the fear to lead me, did research and sought some answers which all brought peace.

 

I woke up with a new greater understanding.

 

You see, yesterday morning, when I woke up, I was ready to see the reality of cardiac arrest.

(more later)

Living outside of the box in a boxed up world: not for wimps!

How does one navigate in a closed-minded world full of rules and regulations that take on a life of their own when one has chosen to live outside the box?

Outside the Birth Box

Since I became a parent, my life has been a journey of exploration and discovery into unknown territory.  I gave birth to my first child in 1997, desiring a natural birth.  Yet, I had grown up in a culture where birth was portrayed as an evil experience requiring strong pain medication.  Just watch any sitcom or movie  from the 1980s and 1990s where there is a scene involving a woman in labor.   I also knew nothing about breastfeeding.  My mother had been discouraged from breastfeeding by her doctor in 1966 when she was pregnant with my sister, her first child.  She was also given sodium pentothal during labor in 1966 and again in 1969 when I was born.   Because I have always been a reader and researcher, I had discovered that having a natural birth and breastfeeding my baby was the best thing that I could do for my child.

And then my child was born, after being induced and then the inevitable epidural after a full day of increasing levels of pitocin.  We survived the hospital experience and the early difficult days of breastfeeding.  When my baby boy was 3 weeks old, I made a decision that would forever have an impact on his life and mine.  I attended my first La Leche League meeting.  La Leche League is an organization that provides mother to mother breastfeeding support, encouragement, information.  I was introduced to the world of attachment parenting and got to observe nursing mothers with babies and children of varied ages.   It was a new world for me.

Flash forward, 4 years later, I attended Bradley Childbirth classes before the birth of my second child who was born by nurse midwives in the most baby friendly hospital in my area and my daughter never left my side during our short 24 hour hospital stay.  I signed several waivers at the hospital to prevent standard procedures that my baby did not need.   And seven years later, my third came into the world in my quiet, dimly lit kitchen assisted by a Professional Midwife and her assistant.  And because he was born at home, we had to provide proof that I was pregnant and drive downtown to file papers to get his birth certificate and file for his social security number.  And if we had not done that, would he then not be really here? Born in my kitchen in North Carolina, but not a US Citizen.

Life Outside the Typical American Diet

Our diet has also evolved over the years. Granted, I grew up eating two veggies, one green, for dinner, fresh fruit and limited sweets.  My mother is 100% Italian and she cooked in way that looks very much like what is now called “The Mediterranean Diet”.  My husband and I decided to stop eating red meat about the time that our first child was born.  He wanted to lower his cholesterol and felt it was a healthier way to eat.  Over time, we eventually eliminated all meat but fish from our diet.  Later, I learned I was eating too much soy and way too much processed soy.  I added poultry back into my diet but we continued to eat many vegetarian meals.  I learned more about the importance of whole foods and over time greatly reduced the number of processed foods in our diet.  My diet changed once again when I learned my cholesterol was low and possibly too low to become pregnant and so I began to purchase grass-fed beef from a known source, yet my husband continued to avoid red meat most of the time.  When my oldest was about 8, he decided to become a vegetarian, not surprising because he grew up eating very little meat.

Life in a smaller, simpler box

When I became a parent, I was the sole breadwinner for our family.  After two years, we took a leap of faith and I reduced my hours to part-time and switched jobs to one with more flexible hours that allowed me to do my paperwork from home.  Our income was nearly cut in half that year for the second time in our married life. The first being when my husband quit his full  time job,  encouraged to do so by me, to pursue growing his business that he had begun a year earlier. We could write a book  on living on less and building savings before you have children.  Yet, most people have no clue about our simplified life and can not fathom how we live on the income we have had over the past 11 years.  I want to ask those people who live in large houses with perfectly manicured lawns, why do you live in such a large house and maintain a beautiful yard when you are never there to enjoy where you live?

The un-boxed life

As I give these descriptions of aspects of my life that are outside the norm or average way of living in America, I realize that it only shows a glimpse of how very different from society my life has become.  We live in a world but we are not of the world.  We drive cars that we purchased used and are now fully paid for; our house is over 40 years old; we have a gravel driveway; we have basic cable television- about 25 channels;  I make my own water keifer and nettles infusion and make smoothies adding green vegetables, fruit and coconut milk.  My first two children nursed until natural weaning- it was well past the toddler years- and I can give you a long list of health benefits for nursing past two years of age.  At my first La Leche League Meeting, I swore I would never nurse my child past the age of one.  We homeschool our children or more accurately, unschool, but I prefer to say we learn through living.  My husband and I have shared child care responsibilities over the years and often have worked alternating hours so the other  could be with our children.  Why would you give birth to children and then send them to someone else to raise them?  Why would you give someone else the joy of watching your children grow and explore the world?

When life puts you in a box

And then, my husband, Don, had a heart attack, May 4, 2011,  Cuatro De Mayo.   We had to survive in the system.   I was grateful to the hospital and all the people we came in contact with from the medics who arrived at our home and continue to be grateful.  Yet, after my husband was in the hospital over a week and we were looking to his coming home, I found myself feeling alone and lost.   Don was on continuous cardiac monitors for the entire 12 days he was in the hospital and only the last few days was he up walking around, his unit only.  He could not leave his unit.  Yet, they sent him home, unmonitored and with only a home health nurse who came 3 days per week and  because I insisted on that.  I even had to call the home health  company once we got home because somehow the hospital failed to inform the home health company that he had been discharged from the hospital.   Luckily, I had worked in home health care and knew what to do.

I was ashamed  to cry while I was in the hospital room with him.  I quickly wiped tears from my face when a nurse  came into his room.   Why is that?   Reality did not look anything like Gray’s Anatomy.  I saw him briefly in the emergency room before they wheeled him up to the “Cath Lab”.  And then I was led to an empty waiting area where we sat, me, my children and my good friend, for over 2 hours wondering what was happening and wondering whether Don would live.    A nurse finally came by to inform us that things were going well and if they continued to go well, he would be moved to the CCU and someone would come get us.  She had thought it would be about 30 minutes,and then an hour past and my fear intensified that something was wrong.  Thank goodness for my friend who was not in shock and knew to call the front desk and asked if he had been moved to CCU ~which he had.   There were no doctors holding your hand and standing by as you grieved and felt the emotions of the trauma you were going through- especially for me, the family, the wife of the man who had the heart attack. They treated my husband and took good care of him.  Yet, his heart attack happened to more than him, it affected his entire family, his wife and three children- aged 13, 9 and 2.

It was a traumatic experience for all of us and in some ways more so for us than Don because he has little to no memory of the initial events.  No memory at all from the time he went unconscious on our living room couch until he was awake in the CCU.  At home, when he was having increasing pain in his mid back and his neck, it never occurred to him that he might be having a heart attack. I knew and my 13-year-old son did too.    And those early days in the CCU are very blurred and foggy in my husband’s memory.  Somehow we survived and even became closer as a family those 12 days Don was in the hospital.  And then the bigger challenge, his coming home and continuing to recover in a home with three young  children.  And now, 4 months later, here we are.  Our life greatly altered on some levels and in other ways it looks as it did before.  Life will never be the same, experience changes you, changes your perspective.  My children never again will have the full childhood innocence of feeling like your parents will live forever.  Watching your father have a massive heart attack and cardiac arrest is not a typical experience for a child of 2, 9 or even 13.  The hospital staff kept saying that many 50-year-old men have heart attacks but what they failed to see was not many 50-year-old men have a 2-year-old child.   I personally did not grow up seeing family members have a heart attack in their 50s or any age really, other than my uncle who just two years prior to my husband’s heart attack, suffered a dissecting aorta at the age of 47.

Re-negotiating life and moving out of the box

We continue to navigate in the healthcare system and now the financial assistance system in our county and state.  I have come to realize that part of my angst comes from living a life outside the box yet needing  these systems that exist in our culture.  Systems we were never a part of before or not to the extent that we are now.  They want to put us back in the box but there is not a box that fits us.

Navigating in this world, in the American culture of  this millennium, while pursing life from a spiritual perspective is not a task for wimps.  I have learned that I do well under pressure and that I am a survivor in a crisis.  Adrenaline is addictive but one  can not continue to live with high levels of adrenaline running through your system.  Sometimes, the more difficult part of life is not the early trauma, but the getting back to regular life part, when the flood of support and assistance tapers off and when you are faced with the complexities of life and the new challenge of helping a loved one with a new medical condition to recover and live again.

Over time, aspects become easier but other factors emerge as stressful and challenging.  It is a process, a continual process of recovery.  I do not know how long the process lasts nor how long the intensity remains, yet here I am 4 months later, still feeling strong feelings as I recount and relive the experience.   It has been a roller coaster of ups and downs occurring within a life already full of uneven terrain.  I have moved closer to and further away from my spiritual side throughout the process.   I  have grown stronger, and more in tune with my spiritual self through my writing.   When I do not write, I often fall away from my true self and have found  myself sitting in the bottom of a lonely box.    Sometimes , I get up out of the box and other times, I need to just sit alone in the bottom of the box.  I see now that  I am a strong woman, even when I am sitting in the bottom of the box.

It takes strength to live in this world and each challenge makes you stronger unless you choose to stop and not move forward.  Unless you become permanently and completely dysfunctional and unable to care for yourself in any manner, you do become stronger.  The decisions you make and the life that follows are a matter of your perspective but know that you do become stronger,  you become more of who you choose to be.

Let’s Get Real

…that you cannot find or create a costume big enough

to hide your true self from anyone.

  In truth, we’re all wearing The Emperor’s New Clothes. We parade before the world naked–thinking that no one can see us. Why not just be proudly revealed, and authentically who we are?

And do not worry about being rejected and alone. It is

the real you that everyone falls in love with–and that

God adores.

So I am once again inspired to write after reading my daily message from Neale Donald Walsch.  I did something new today when I was playing on my BlackBerry in the early morning hours after waking up and not being able to sleep, I started reading others blogs and I found some good ones.

I read some  wonderful articles including, Old Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills and Changing the Paradigm which reaffirmed my beliefs about home/unschooling.

And I read some others where I disagreed which in turn fueled me more to write my own thoughts. ( I thank all who post their ideas and opinions.  I like reading articles that challenge my way of thinking as well as ones that allow me to get a glimpse of how other people think .)

This post, Part2: I homeschool because I am selfish – Homeschooling Five, was by far my favorite. It was my favorite because she was real. She wrote what she was thinking and what I and others have thought. After reading her bio, I read more posts.  She wrote about “owning our words” and “not censoring those who disagree with you” in another post.  That is the kind of writer I aspire to be…one who speaks my truth clearly yet honestly; respectful of others yet without apologizing for being who I am.

So now, in the words of the amazing song writer and performer,  Billy Jonas (no, not one of the Jonas Brothers), “Let’s Get Real“.  Real about what you ask?

Burnout

Not just burnout in the general sense, but caregiver burnout.  Sure, this is recognized like described in the WebMD,  but I believe we need to recognize and deal with this before it gets to the full burnout stage which is basically Depression.

To dig further, I think one of the biggest reasons we fail to see the signs coming, is as a society, we fail to acknowledge grief.  Sure,  we acknowledge grief when someone dies but grief happens in many forms and it can happen even when the experience is not as dramatic as physical death.   What about other life changes, big and small, that challenge our way of living and cause us to rebuild or rethink our life?  I have many personal examples I can share.

Five years ago, my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, very early stage.  He was still living life to the fullest, continued to work in his self chosen semi retired state, living in his dream home on the lake and active with his hobbies of fishing, golf and woodworking. His diagnosis didn’t  directly affect me, yet because I am an Occupational Therapist and have worked with people in the late stages of Parkinson’s, it had a big impact on me.  I imagined the future, based on those who I have seen in late stage, and this changed my image of my future  including my father’s deteriorating health (Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological disease)  and the idea of  no more  family gatherings at my parents’  lake front property, something I had come to really love and value for myself and my kids.  My father had been in good health and was 64 when he was diagnosed. It was a sudden realization of the mortality of my aging parents.  About this same time, my good friend and amazing EFT Master, Jan Luther, was working on  her book, Grief Is…Mourning Sickness.  I had the opportunity to be part of a video tapped session for local television where Jan talked and demonstrated EFT around the topic of grief.  Jan recognized my experience as a form of grief (sure -milder than a more traumatic event, but grief nonetheless).

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross first defined The Five Stages of Grief in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying. Yet, theses stages, now well know, most people associate  with tragedy especially with a terminal illness or catastrophic loss, like the death of a loved one.  There are different degrees of grief.  And so when my 52 year old healthy husband had a sudden unexpected heart attack and cardiac arrest and was rushed to the hospital by ambulance in Ventricular Tachycardia,  his dark blue  face and  motionless body being forever imprinted in my mind, and even after he was “brought back to life” and in recovery in the CCU 4 hours later and I got to talk to him, one could see clearly that I was in a state of grief.  Looking back, I see how I was both in shock and denial.  The denial  came more when I lingered to call 911.  As I research the word shock, I discovered this information on  “trauma cycle” ( see Phase1. The Loss Cycle).

And so while my husband was in the hospital, friends and family swarmed us with love, prayers, thoughts, help in many forms including caring for our three children, providing meals, groceries, and in so many ways I could write an entire blog about it.

Then, 12 days later Don came home and I continued to ask for help, something that used to be difficult for me but had become suddenly very easy to do when Don was in the hospital.  Yet, as time wore on, and my husband improved, it became more difficult for me to ask for help.  He had survived a nearly fatal heart attack and was on the mend and so surely we did not need as much help now.  Yet, I knew better and didn’t foresee fully how I would slow down in asking for help.  Sure, we were excited that he was home and improving and just plain grateful he was alive and grateful for all the help our family and friends gave us, yet, now we had bigger challenges.

When he was in the hospital, life was simple.  I was either at the hospital with Don, helping advocate and care for him, or I was at home tending to the needs of my children.  Now, with Don at home, we were adjusting to his “new life” with 7 medications (when he was on none before), and me acting as his caregiver, taking his BP and monitoring him as an Occupational Therapist (because I am an OT and I can’t just turn that off) as well as the increased responsibility of caring for the children and home with initially very little help from him which has slowly improved but is no where near the level it was before (Don is a a very involved dad) not to mention the added new financial challenges and juggling doctor appointments.

Yea, that was a rather long sentence and it doesn’t even come close to fully describing how much busier my already busy life became.   And with time, it has gotten busier. Sure Don has been able to slowly do more but by slowly I mean SLOWLY!  We talked about it the other day and as of now, June 27, 7 1/2 weeks after his heart attack, he is at about 50% (at most )of his activity level compared to before his heart attack.

And does anyone still recognize that we are still dealing with grief?  I haven’t asked anyone the question.  I know that as a society, one would assume, that we no longer have “grief” but just ” a lot to deal with”.  Yet, all that I have learned from Jan Luther, I know better that this is still part of the process.  Even as Don gets amazing news that his heart has returned from 25% function to 50% function (near full recovery), our life is forever changed and we are continuing to  process this change and are in fact, going through the stages of grief.