Healthcare

We Always Need Our Moms

First, before going too far, I want to wish everyone a very happy Mother’s Day. Being recognized once a year is not nearly enough. Being a mom is a 24/7, 365 days a year job.

Speaking from the standpoint of someone who grew up an only child, I may be a little biased. My mom was the most important person in the world to me. She was my everything, my best friend, my cheerleader and my comforter. I swear she could make anything in life better. Was she perfect? No. I didn’t expect her to be.

We would go on trips and even as I went through college, she would sing Girl Scout songs in the car the entire way. That alternated with the Beatles, so overall it was a good exposure to music appreciation. At least that’s what I always thought and still do.

She was an amazing cook when I was younger. As I got older I discovered that either my taste-buds weren’t fully developed, OR she was losing her knack for making everything taste good. She was the only person that I had ever seen put baking soda in spaghetti sauce. P.S. I would NOT recommend doing that. It tastes absolutely disgusting but makes for good stories years down the road.

As a teacher in a one-room school when I started Kindergarten, she was my teacher through second grade. Some days it felt like I had to be the luckiest kid on the face of the earth and others it seemed like maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. Mom and teacher could be a little much to handle sometimes. But I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything.

Our house burned down when I was five. My sixth sense saved us as we went to visit friends, literally minutes before our house was engulfed in flames and collapsed. It was then that I learned what really mattered in life. It wasn’t the material possessions. We were both alive and that was all that was important. It was one of the worst experiences of my life, yet she managed to help me get through it, while I helped her.

She had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when I was in High School. My invincible mother suddenly was losing her magic touch. Changing more into a caregiver and less into the one being cared for was a difficult transition. Moms aren’t supposed to get sick. They are supposed to have super human powers or at least we grow up thinking that.

In 2010, once again I helped her. She had a surgery that ultimately ended up with her on life support, clinging by a thread. For two weeks, I did everything in my power to will her back. The first night in ICU, I watched the defibrillator used on her. Being a nurse is one thing but being a daughter who knows exactly what is going on is heart-wrenching. Separating out the nurse and the daughter roles were the only way I knew how to focus.

Ultimately, we lost the battle. She was finally free, and, in that sense, we won. No longer dealing with a disease that ultimately would have beaten her at some point, the invisible ropes tying her with so many symptoms were gone.

Although the hardest time in my life was the final few moments, knowing that she had already gone. It was just a shell that remained. My superhero disguised as a mom was no longer here.

What I’ve discovered in the past seven and a half years continues to get me through each time that I want her here with me. Our mothers live in our hearts long after they have passed. We are a part of them and always will be. There are signs everywhere that give me every reason to know that she never left my side. Why? Because believing in something is better than having no hope.

We always need our moms, no matter how old we are. Happy Mother’s Day to the best mom that ever walked this earth..

If Roses grow in Heaven
Lord, please pick a bunch for me.
Place them in my Mother’s arms
and tell her they’re from me.

Tell her that I love her and miss her,
and when she turns to smile,
place a kiss upon her cheek
and hold her for a while.

Because remembering her is easy,
I do it every day,
but there’s an ache within my heart
that will never go away.

– Unknown Author

 roses

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holiday

Easter Whimsy

When was the last time that you received an Easter Basket or went hunting for eggs? For me it was probably in fourth or fifth grade, at least when the whimsy was still there. So, it’s been quite a few years for me and most likely you too.

Yesterday we had friends that came to spend the night. As supper was finishing up, my husband and I were told that there was an Easter basket hidden for each of us in our yard, along with 48 eggs. The challenge: find your basket and then go after the eggs. If you found the other person’s basket and said something, then you were done.

I must admit that after everything that has gone on the past few months, this was a really nice surprise. Off we went, and that whimsical feeling returned. Suddenly I remembered how exciting it was to try to get the most eggs and see what was in my basket. Admittedly, the baskets were filled with much different items than when we were kids. My husbands–a flashlight, beer, a bottle holder and a lot of candy. Mine contained a spatula, candy, large chocolate rabbit and the best thing of all, was a small, wooden sign. It read, “Swearing because sometimes gosh darn and meanie head just don’t cover it.” That is appropriate here.

We did find all 48 eggs and probably could have a sugar high for at least a week. It wasn’t the material items that made the magic. It was getting to feel like a kid again. Imagining racing for the eggs before anyone else could get them. The memories and getting to reminisce on the age of innocence; that was precious. We needed a dose of childhood again.

Being an adult has its perks but so does being a child. For thirty minutes yesterday, we got to be children again and it was delightful. We also happen to have quite a few rabbits running around here. Last week I was mentioning that ‘Peter Cottontail’ and four of his friends were running laps around a bush in our yard.

For a child, it is moments like these that we remember; also, for adults. We all need to take time to enjoy the view from the youngest generation. There is plenty of time to be an adult…

easter-3275320_1280

Healthcare

Baby decisions and chronic illness

I grew up in a small town. When I say small, I mean 400 people. My graduating high school class had 18 students. That being said, I babysat a LOT of the kids in town. I always wanted to be a parent…but.

There’s that ‘but’ that kept nagging at me while I was growing up. To keep things simple, let’s just say that there is a huge neurological history in my family. Enough that even in junior high I was starting to wonder if I should carry a child when I got married. I didn’t want to pass on any genetic issues. Things seemed to run on the female side and if I could stop it, then I had a decision to make.

Fast forward through high school and college to when I did get married. We both wanted children, but something kept nagging. Then several years later I had a mass in my chest that we thought was cancer. When it was removed, it turned out to be benign, but the surgery had affected my breathing. Half of my diaphragm was paralyzed for a year and I haven’t been able to lay flat for the last seven years.

In 2014 that’s when all hell broke loose. Life was turned upside down and we were forced to figure out which way was up and what the “new-normal” was. I knew that having children was out of the picture.

Our hearts ache for what we will never have. So many of our friends have children and are having more. They are guarded when they tell us that they are pregnant. I am equally guarded in response. My heart is bursting with joy and crying at the same time.

I quilt as a hobby and have made receiving blankets, wall hangings and quilts for these precious babes. They are made with so much love and joy. Seeing the smiles on our friends’ faces when they see them is the best part.

Several friends have made us honorary aunt and uncle, which to us is momentous. We get to be a part of those kiddo’s lives. Each time I see them, I imagine what our children would be like at that stage. Then I push the thought away.

Have you ever noticed that if someone mentions a certain item, that you start seeing it everywhere? Do you have any idea how many commercials are on TV with kids? Do you know how many times we look away or close our eyes?

We’re not the only ones yearning for that something that we will never have. So many others with chronic illnesses have the same decisions to make every single day. The what-if game plays over and over and over in your head. Yet you still come to the same conclusion and there is always the ‘but.’

baby

 

Healthcare

A Dose of Holiday Magic or Something

I’m sitting here thinking that it doesn’t feel even a little bit like Christmas. Maybe it has something to do with a total lack of energy and feeling like I got hit by a bus. Maybe it’s because there doesn’t seem like there has been a lot of joy lately. As my autonomic symptoms have been ramping up, so have the falls. Two major falls in two months. I’m a little nervous to be alone just because I’m afraid of falling now.

It’s amazing how our illnesses can make our world seem so small. We visited some family yesterday, which was wonderful. But I was tired enough that I made it through dinner and had to go lay down. At the very minimum it was a change of scenery. We can be just as miserable somewhere else as we can at our own house…we just have to change our clothes and look a little more presentable.

While it should be a joyous occasion watching young children open their presents, for me it’s an entirely different feeling. Sitting and watching, makes my heart ache for what I know we will never be able to have. My disease has affected every aspect of my being. There are days that I can hardly take care of myself, let alone our two dogs. But the one thing that my husband and I wanted the most in the world, is the one thing that I am unable to give; a child. Even an adopted child would be too much to handle and it breaks my heart. But, I reflect back to when I was young and have sweet, resounding memories…

The rule was that I couldn’t go see what Santa brought me until the sun came up. At the time, it felt like an eternity from waking up at midnight until 7 am. Then my mom let me race into look at what was in my stocking. The true innocence of childhood.

There are also joyous memories of Christmas while we’ve been married. Saturday is our 11 year anniversary already! Memories are something that will warm your heart and bring a smile to your face.

I actually had part of this blog written a couple of weeks ago and as I’m sitting here reading through it, there is a smile that crept onto my face. This is the magic of Christmas.

Our very first Christmas tree we put up also happened to coincide with having two brand new kittens…sisters at that! Every single day, we would come home from work and the tree would be shaking just a little bit. Upon closer inspection, there were two tiny kittens sitting in the tree. There also would be a pile of lights next to the tree and a new selection of ornaments handily removed by our new pets. This happened every single day. Every few months for at least two years, we  would find a tiny ornament that had escaped our frantic search when we put the tree away.

Two years ago was when we decided we were brave enough to put the tree back up. By then we had a beagle as well. We did a good job “cat-proofing” our tree. None of our treasured ornaments went up. We did a trial

We have several rules/traditions at our house for Christmas.  1) Sugar cookies in large quantities are a must, if you don’t have a sugar high when you go to bed, then you haven’t had enough!  2) EVERYBODY believes in Santa.  3) Watching “A Christmas Story” is mandated.  It must be watched at least twice during the holiday season.  4) “The Polar Express” is read aloud on Christmas eve.

I will be the first to admit that I thought “A Christmas Story” was annoying.  You can only listen to, “you’re gonna shoot your eye out kid,” a few times before you want to pull your hair out.  The leg lamp too…don’t get me started.  This was my opinion until I met my husband!

Since we’ve been married, I now love listening to the giggles when the kid gets his tongue stuck to the flag pole. My husband still REALLY wants to get an inflatable leg lamp for our front yard. I think you know who won that argument!

Perspectives change and lessons are learned.  I had never even heard of “The Polar Express” until the movie came out.  Now, the songs are memorized and the book is read aloud at least once a year.  If you can’t act like a kid during the holidays, then something is the matter.

Although nobody in this house is getting an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred Shot Range Model Air Rifle, we have plenty of fun to go around.  It’s the tradition and warm fuzzy feelings that make it our favorite time of year.

No matter what is going on in our lives at this moment, make sure to let Christmas rest in your hearts. Take in the magic that comes with it. Even if you aren’t in the mood, we only have these moments once a year. Time isn’t something to be taken for granted. Have a very Merry Christmas.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the Yuletide gay
From now on our troubles will be miles away

Here we’re as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more

Through the years we all will be together
If the fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas nowchristmas magic