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

Posts tagged ‘grief’

Healing through writing

Today is March 25, 2013

I had knee pain come out of no where yesterday and was so glad I had an appointment at my chiropractor this morning.  Apparently it was more misalignment in my back and hips causing knee pain.  I assumed it was residual damage from the car accident that I was in 10 months ago.  When my knee bothers me which it does from time to time, I get angry.  Before my car accident, I had no knee pain issues.  And when I am in pain or stressed, then I become more anxious driving.

Even ten months later, I have an over active startle reflex when driving.  It is far better than it was the days and week and even months right after the accident but it is not gone.  We can recover from trauma yet we don’t ever return to the place we were before the trauma.  Right after the accident and for many weeks, I could not get the memory of the accident out of my mind the entire time I was driving.  I hated that.  I hated the fact that what sometimes is my time alone, time in the car driving, was now ridden with fear and the memory of a traumatic experience.   I think what made it even more difficult for me was because I was driving along minding my own business traveling the speed limit and this car turned into me in broad daylight on a road with good visibility.  The result has been me not trusting any other driver on the road because you just never know when they are going to make a bad judgement decision.

This is no way to live.

Today as I was driving to  my chiropractor experiencing this  constant ache in my knee, I had a few close calls on the road.  Nothing extreme just a few cars coming toward me and crossing the yellow line for a few seconds, enough to set me on high alert.  Later, after I dropped my son off, I was pulling into a two lane road where the speed limit is 35 and was about to move into the left turn lane when a car speed along out of no where- the closest call all day.  So I thought to myself,  Why am I having these near miss experiences in the car on a day that I have knee pain?

Surely, it must just mean that I need to write about my accident.  The universe has been pushing me to write more and to carve out time in my life regularly to do so.  The signs have been so clear to me and yet finding or making the time to do so has been a challenge.  This past Friday, I did it.  After getting my younger kids breakfast, they wanted to watch a show and so I decided I would go up to my bedroom with my lap top and write.  I would not check Facebook or my email but go directly to wordpress and write.  A few weeks before I had decided that i needed a more specific blog and had created a Child-led learning blog.  I hadn’t done anything else since creating it.  So for almost an hour, I wrote. I did not finish the blog, but was so happy that I had carved out the time and done it! Finally!  My goal is to do that every day or at least several days each week.  As I write that, something deep within me says, “everyday,Gina, make time to write every day”.

It is Monday and on Mondays, I usually have a few hours to myself while my oldest is at the homeschool co-op.  I either go to a coffee house or the library both around the corner from where the co-op meets.  Usually, I decompress by checking Facebook and email and then look at my homeschooling website and approve and welcome new members and then work on an update message to send to members.   I think about writing a blog but it has been a long time since I have done so.

I knew I needed to go straight to WordPress today and not look anywhere else and write.  I wasn’t sure exactly what I would say or what the focus would be.  I then pulled up my drafts because I recalled writing about my accident in the past.  I found the following written just 6 weeks after my accident:

I was in a car accident on May 26, 2012.

I was driving home from work. It was a Saturday and I was done early and so I decided to head to Target to use the gift card that I had gotten back in October  to buy a new swim suit and planned to take my kids to the pool too.

I never made it to Target and I did not take my kids to the pool nor was not able to for about 2 weeks.

I was driving along, not my usual route but on a road I had traveled many times before.

It all happened so fast and yet those seconds or more likely second, before the crash, happened in slow motion.  I clearly recall seeing the white SUV turning into me and deciding to swerve to the right to get out of the way.  I also vividly recall realizing that I could not get out of the way and knew she was going to hit me.  I remember it all like it took place over minutes instead of seconds.

But then all I remember is impact-

….and then the car coming to a stop and me opening my eyes.

After the initial impact, I do not know what happened.  I must have hit my head because I had a cut on my nose and my nose was bleeding and my air bag never went off.  But this I only know after the fact- when I got out of the car and someone said my nose was bleeding and when I later realized the air bag did not deploy.

I remember opening my eyes and seeing an air bag (passangers side) and some smoke and having the instinct to get out of the car.  I attempted to open my door but it did not move and so I climbed to the passangers side, taking my purse and water bag and exited my car.

I recall how shaky I felt as I stepped out onto the grass.  A wonderful bystander was walking toward me and asked me if I was alright and advised me to sit down.  I am so grateful to that wonderful woman who reached out to help me.  She did  not have to help me and I think she might be the witness who is listed on the accident report but I really have no idea.  She was there when I needed someone and I am forever grateful to this kind stranger for stopping and coming to my aid.

The person who hit me, apparently was a medic and she advised my bystander angel that I should lay down which I heard and then did.

I had no idea at the time that my car had spun around and the back end had struck a third car and then had been propelled forward coming to a rest along the grass on the side of the road.  Thinking about that, its almost like someone had guided my car to move forward and come to a rest where it did.  Maybe the car wasn’t on the grass, but I know when I stepped out of the car, I stepped onto the grass.

I drove back down the road where the accident took place today, it has taken me over 6 weeks to build up the courage to do this.

_______________________________________

I kept the above just as I wrote it 8 months ago.  The accident was still fresh in my mind and as I read it, I recalled the feelings I felt for so long every time I got in the car for several months after the accident.

I finally drove down the road where the accident was, pushing myself to do so 6 weeks after my accident but then I did not drive that way again for many months.   Luckily, it was not a usual route for me so it wasn’t like I was avoiding the road.  Yet, I knew I needed to drive on that road again to desensitize myself and reduce my anxiety.  Reminds me very much of ERP therapy that my daughter does for her OCD.   Recently, they began working on a bridge on my usual route to work and also where my chiropractor is located.  So now, I found that driving past my accident was the quickest option to get where I needed to go.  At first, I drove that way to work because I was driving the opposite direction from when I was in my accident.  It helped me to drive many times from the other direction and see where the accident took place.   I would go home a different route avoiding the road entirely.  Then, I decided I needed to drive down that road heading home but I choose to take the highway which the entrance to is within eyesight and just before where my accident took place.  The first time I did this, I got stopped at a red light waiting to turn onto the entrance ramp and as I sat there,  I had a clear view of where my accident took place.  I became anxious and felt my heart racing.  It was difficult to sit there for those seconds waiting for the light to turn green.  The next time that I came to the same intersection, I could look on the spot without all of the anxiety.    Over time, I even drove the actual path of my accident again.  The most difficult was when I was bringing my son’s friend home and it was dark and raining.  I became very anxious but survived the experiene.

When I think about my daughter and the level of anxiety she experiences with her OCD, I realize that it is likely far more intense than even what I experience.  The thought of having the amount of anxiety that I experienced when first trying to drive on the path of my accident  every day and many times in a day gives me a better understanding of what she experiences.  All I can say is,  “Wow, I can not imagine living with that much fear and anxiety   every day and frequently throughout each and every day.”

Healing from trauma is a funny thing.  There is physical healing and mental healing and yet they are very interwoven, much more so than most of us realize.  I know on days when I have physical pain, I have more anxiety driving.  I also know when I feel more emotional stress, I also have more anxiety driving.

I am teaching my 15 year old son to drive.  He has had his learner’s permit for several months and so I think about my driving all the time as a way of helping him to learn.  I try to take my 25 years of driving experience and use it to help him develop good skills and habits with driving.  Today as he was driving and we were talking about driving, he told me that he believes I drive different now as compared to before my accident.  He did not have his permit when I had my accident.  It was 3 months later that he took the required drivers ed class and another 3 months before he turned 15 and could take the test for his learner’s permit.  But he is very observant and I found it interesting that he saw a difference.

Traumas change us.  When my husband was healing after surving a massive heart attaack and long hospitalization, people  began to ask if things were “back  to normal”.  There is no going back.   I remember feeling,  Life will never be normal again.   I realize now that things can become “normal” again but it is a new normal.   The experience changes you forever and the change can be both positive and negative.  Hopefully we can heal enough through the experience to take more positive change with us and learn to release the negative or allow it to subside.

My husband calls his heat attack “getting hit by a two by four”, a sort of wake up call.

I have decided that it is much more challenging being the one smacked by the “two by four” than to be the caregiver.  At least, that has been my experience.  I could see far more positive change after my husband’s heart attack.  Yet, when I was the one in pain, it was difficult for me to step outside of my experience.  As I say that, it makes perfect sense.  At the time when my husband was recovering, it was frustrating to be in this place of new understanding and clarity and he seamed to be mostly angry, frustrated.  Maybe I was more in a spiritual place and he was more in his body.  Unlike my car accident, had no memory of his heart attack.  He had pain but had no idea it might be a heart attack and then he went into cardiac arrest and remembers nothing until after he woke up hours later after coming out of the cath lab.   I saw him in the ER before he went to the cath lab and he was “awake” and they told him he had a heart attack and he had this look on his face like “you have got to be kidding me” but he has no clear memory of this.   And so he awoke to discover what had happened and to be on a bed restricted to laying absolutely flat for a humber of hours and then it took time before he could sit up and over a week before he could stand and walk.

I knew the car was going to hit me before it did and I can feel the impact of metal on metal.  When I stop and think about it, I can feel it in my entire body.  I recall vividly the experience of my car coming to a stop and seeing smoke coming out of the dash and feeling that I needed to get out of the car.  I can relive the moments like it happened yesterday.  Yet, I know I was in a state of shock after the impact.  After all, it was dust coming up from the air bag on the passengers side that I saw and not really smoke, but at the time, my instincts told me, smoke means get out of the car and quickly.  I even wanted to move far enough away from the car after I got out of it.  I had no idea that my arm was injured from the glass and that my nose was bleeding and that my air bag had not gone off.  I remember some blood dripping but had no need to figure out where it was coming from.   Once I was out of the car, others began helping me and I am sure laying down helped me.  Then it was a long wait as the medics arrived and the police officer came over to talk to me, all with me lying flat on m back staring up at the sky.  I think about it and feel like I was fully aware of everything.  yet, I know there was a hazy fog of shock that likely lasted for days or weeks.

As I ramble on writing about this experience, I am thinking about all of the day to day traumas in our life, all of the little disappointments as well as the bigger challenges that affect our daily experiences and our life as a whole.  We respond differently depending on the situation.  The common thread is whether it has primarily a negative impact or a positive one.  How can a trauma have a positive impact?  Even I wonder that too as I write this.  I think it is what we take from the experience. The decisions we choose to make because of it, not our initial gut reaction but the way we handle ourselves despite it.  Most of the time it can be a big mix of both negative reacting and positive decisions.

Somemtimes, it just takes us longer to pull out of the trauma and to step outside of it and move forward.   Sometimes we have no choice but to keep moving forward.  Other times, we sit with the pain for a while.

When I think back on the days and weeks just after my accident, if I could go back in time, I would allow myself more time to heal.  I know I took my time to some extent and yet I take from the experience  a reminder to accept what is.  If I don’t feel well on any given day, I really try now to stop and think about what must get done and what can wait.  LIfe is no longer the rat race that I used to feel when I was younger.  Some days, it is good to stay in your pajamas and watch tv with your kids or make cookies and eat them for dinner.

Life really is too short to be in a hurry and rush though jumping from one thing to another without any time to breath.

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The other side of depression, Bipolar Depression

I found this post in my drafts written February 12, 2018.

For some reason, I never published it. I suppose I felt it was unfinished.

Two months have past since I wrote it….Today is Monday April 9,2018.

I will first share the post as it was written two months ago and add to it at the end.

Written February 12,2018:

I decided today was a day to write about myself and my journey with depression.

I reread the post I wrote 8 months ago, shortly after I started on my current anti-depressant,

Seeing the Horizon

That’s just the way it is

Some things will never change

That’s just the way it is

Ah, but don’t you believe them

That’s just the way it is

Some things will never change

That’s just the way it is

Ah, but don’t you believe them

Bruce Hornsby sings in my ears as I write…

When I am in the midst of depression, I feel stuck like the words of the song, that’s just the way it is.

Yet, I never lost hope, but don’t you believe them.

I have now been on Prozac for 8 months and I feel I first really saw improvement back in October, after 4 months on medication. I insisted my doctor start me on 10 mg before moving up to 20mg for an easier adjustment for the medication. It’s what we did for my daughter and was recommended to minimize side effects and so I wanted to do the same for myself. It was also how the nurse practitioner had started me on a different anti-depressant 2 years ago when I first asked for medication help for my depression.

Here I am on the other side and looking back

Now if you’re feelin’ kinda low ’bout the dues you’ve been paying

Future’s coming much too slow

And you wanna run but somehow you just keep on stayin’

Can’t decide on which way to go

Yeah, yeah, yeah

I understand about indecision

But I don’t care if I get behind

People livin’ in competition

All I want is to have my peace of mind

Boston says it so well. Thank you amazing musicians and azlyrics.

Reading my post Seeing the Horizon….

I feel that I am in a weird fog.  I don’t want to use someone’s suffering to figure out my own life. Yet this expereince today has affected me. I want to take from it to move forward in my life and in my choices.

In my post, Seeing the Horizon, I shared an experience I had going to a new location for my writing time and discovering a man on the floor. My first thought was he was sleeping, which seamed so silly after the fact. He had collapsed, fallen out of his booth onto the floor face down on the ground and I froze, witnessing the restaurant employees try to figure out what to do, offering him ice because he was clammy. And I stood there frozen, knowing what to do but unable to make myself step forward and speak up, “I know CPR”.

This experience and how I handled it has haunted me since it happened. I came to some peace with myself realizing it had triggered my PTSD from when my husband had a massive heart attack and cardiac arrest in my own home. I was so thankful the medics arrived before he went into cardiac arrest. I was grateful that a police officer showed up rather quickly after the restaurant employees tried unsuccessfully to help the man. One employee knew to roll him gently onto his back and someone called 911, while I sat there paralyzed.

I recently completed a 6 week Resiliency Course with the amazing EFT Master, Jan Luther and founder of The Ego Tamer Academy and Author of the book, “Grief is Mourning Sickness”.

This course involved 6 intense weekly phone calls and some other individual work with tapping (EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique) along with other exercises as part of a deep healing experience.

In my own personal work, through the help of Jan and the “borrowed benefits” of my group members, 5 other women, I discovered a connection between my own issues with medial professionals who have failed me and my children in getting the help we need with this experience.

This experience where I failed to respond to help this man in need.

In this realization, I was able to forgive the medical professionals who have failed my family. We are all human and we all make mistakes. On some level, there is still some underlying frustration with the failure to get help for my children when we really needed it. Yet, I have learned that moving past this resentment and anger is healing. Healing to myself including the ability to forgive myself for my own mistakes.

I have always been my own harshest critic.

In reflection, I have continued to move forward with great strides over the past two months.

I went through a long period of only needing 5-6 hours of sleep and getting up very early and accomplishing many things and jumping into many new things. While enrolled in the 6 week Resiliency Course, I realized my job of 8 years was not serving me and the universe had been pushing me to move on, and I had a difficulty phone encounter with my boss that led me to moving forward on my job search process that I had already started due to lack of hours. I also interviewed for and accepted two jobs, both “PRN” work, meaning on an as needed basis which is my status of employment at my other two employers. I have worked PRN for over 16 years since leaving my part time position when my daughter was born.

I was liberated when I moved away from the job of 8 years that was no longer serving me, nor providing me a pay check.

I found new work close to home and a better rate of pay.

I have been an Occupational Therapist for 25 years and for the first time in 21 years, I have found a position with a higher rate of pay than I have previously received. This is the nature of healthcare jobs in 21st century America.

I am still in process of completing online requirements for the one employer. I have begun work for the other employer and am enjoying my 3 mile commute. I have worked at this facility in the past and so I knew several of the employees when I interviewed for the position. Being a familiar place, helped ease my transition to the new job. Change can be hard even when I am not depressed.

I have come to realize that I feel I have had some underlying depression since my teenage years. Most certainly since the challenges that came about in my life after moving when I was 12 years old, just prior to my 7th grade school year. And all the challenges of puberty only added to the struggle for me. I had some bigger issues in college my senior year when my relationship with my boyfriend of 5 years ended. I think the depression was mild until..

Maybe until my daughter was born and the challenges of being home more and juggling the needs of 2 children, or later when I was trying to conceive our third child and having no success but having hot flashes instead. Even then, when I look back, that was a relatively happy period in my life. I was struggling in that year before our third child was conceived and then when I was 3 months pregnant, my husband lost his job. The very job that helped me to stay at home full time and for us to make the decision to have the third child I had always wanted.

My daughter’s OCD symptoms began about this time, but we did not acknowledge it fully until it exploded a year later, when her baby brother was one year old and she was 8 years old.

That was 8 years ago…

The following year, 2011, my husband had his heart attack.

6 months after his heart attack when he had completed outpatient cardiac rehab, I developed Bronchitis that was recurrent for over 6 months and then got in a car accident just over one year to the anniversary of his heart attack.

May 2011 and May 2012: challenging times

My car accident in May of 2012 was far more devastating to me than my husband’s heart attack.

I became a pessimist.

And I wondered how that happened, because I was always the eternal optimist.

Yet, I knew “life had dragged me down”…

Songs like this have kept me going. Music is my therapy.

I will close with the words of the late, great Tom Petty for he has been one of my biggest inspirations over the past several years writing about my depression.

Well, I won’t back down

No, I won’t back down

You can stand me up at the gates of hell

But I won’t back down

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 down)

Hey, baby, there ain’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)

Hey, baby, there ain’t no easy way out

(I won’t back down)

Hey, I will stand my ground

And I won’t back down

Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out

(I won’t back down)

Hey, I won’t back down

(I won’t back down)

Hey, baby, there ain’t no easy way out

(I won’t back down)

Hey, I will stand my ground

And I won’t back down

No, I won’t back down

Mommy Guilt: “shoulding” on myself

I should have…

I should have worked more hours when i was pregnant with baby number 3.

I should have returned to work sooner after he was born in January 2009.

I should have worked more and saved more while I was pregnant.

I should have returned to work sooner so our debt didn’t grow so much.

I should have known to move money from our tax rebate to pay down our home equity line of credit after my husband had a massive heart attack so that Medicaid would have kicked in sooner, rather than exhausting all that money we had from me working extra hours and our tax rebate.

The social worker should have told me the rules…

Someone should have told me that Medicaid says if you have more than $3000 in assesses (savings, checking, cash), then you wont; qualify for Medicaid…until that money is gone…

I should have applied for food stamps once we did qualify for Medicaid

I began the application several times, I should have finished it and sent it in.

I should have gotten more help then we would have less debt.

I should have done so many things….

I should have reached out for help sooner when my daughter showed signs of separation anxiety and other issues when I was pregnant with our third child.

I should have realized it was something more than just me being pregnant.

I should have gotten her help sooner so that her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, her anxiety disorder, her mental illness did not become so extreme and severe…

I should have gotten her on medication sooner…

I should have listened to my friend who suggested it might be OCD when it was in a mild state.

I should have gotten her to a therapist sooner.

I should have researched OCD sooner, when my friend brought it up.

I should have listened..

I should have gotten her help sooner so she did not have to suffer so much..

I should have gotten my youngest help sooner when he showed signs of anxiety and OCD from at least age 2.

I should have countered when the therapist said, “i don’t think it is OCD”

I should have completed the paperwork even though it took 6 months to get it from the Development and Behavioral Pediatrician

I should have gotten him in sooner and not waited as long as I did.

I should have taken him to a mental health place sooner to get him help, medication.

I should not have had so much fear about giving my kids medication…I should have found more support when I knew that was needed.

Going to the psychiatrist should have been paid for by Medicaid.

Medicaid should have qualified people to treat my children and I should have access to finding the resources without having to jump through a million hoops and experience unqualified people and ill equipped facilities and services.

My children should be able to go to the specialists they need because of their illness even though they have government assisted health insurance.

I work in health care, I should have better health insurance.

I have a bachelors of science degree in Occupational Therapy and training in mental health care, I should be treated with respect when the people from Medicaid speak to me.

Everyone should be treated with respect no matter what their educational level.

I should be able to access information about my health insurance and services for my children even though it is government assisted.

I have paid into the system since I was 15 1/2 years old and so now that I need these services, I should receive them if I qualify.

I shouldn’t have to jump through crazy hoops because my income varies from month to month and so does my 20 year old son’s income.

My 20 year old son’s income SHOULD NOT count toward our household income for the healthcare market place and definitely not for qualifying my younger children for Medicaid or NC health choice. My 20 year old son who purchased his own car, pays for his own insurance, and pays to attend community college part time all with his own hard earned money.

I should have listened to my gut when I realized even though their Dad had survived, that my three kids had gone through a traumatic experience and would need some counseling and help…

Survivors guilt…but he lived, there is no help when your husband lives…

I should have listened to myself because I knew that experience was traumatic for all of us.

I should have let go of “survivors guilt” because he lived and our friends who lost husbands to heart attacks that same year, did not survive. “I should be grateful that he lived.”

I should on myself and others have should upon me….

And I should on other people.

It is really a bad habit and not helpful to anyone.

I should have filled out the special forms and jumped through the hoops to see if my son could qualify for grants for college costs, because they decided to use the same year for 3or 4 semesters to look at our income, the year we took out $65,000 from IRA money to pay down debt.

I should have worked more hours.

I should have been a better mom so my children wouldn’t have mental illness.

I should have been a better me so I wouldn’t have mental illness.

I should have done something different to prevent mental illness?

Is that really possible?

Do parents of kids who have cancer ask themselves this question?

Maybe they do, Maybe they don’t.

I shouldn’t have to wonder about this.

My kids friends and their parents should have been there more for my daughter when she was crippled with mental illness, with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Depression.

They should have given her the love and support she needed just like they would have done if she had cancer.

WE SHOULD LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE MENTAL ILLNESS IS TREATED THE SAME AS OTHER ILLNESSES, PHYSICAL ILLNESSES WHICH ARE MORE SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE IN AMERICAN SOCIETY.

Mental illness SHOULD be classified the same as other illness because they last time I looked, my head and brain are attached to my body.

We need to stop shoulding on ourselves and on others

We need to embrace where we are now and make the best choices we can in the moment and realize we can not go back in time (not yet) and change the past. What is done is behind us and we must keep moving forward.

We need to stop judging other people and their choices and instead come from love to reach out to and help others with respect and kindness.

I give you this challenge today…

Pay attention to how often you SHOULD on yourself or on someone else.

We are often our worst critic and as moms, as parents, we are our own worse saboteur.

Love yourself and respect yourself first.

Only then can you love and respect others.

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.  

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)