09/10/2018

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.

If you are struggling please reach out. You can reach someone anytime at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number: 1 (800) 273-8255.

09/10/2018

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.

If you are struggling please reach out. You can reach someone anytime at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number: 1 (800) 273-8255.

Trauma by Proxy

I briefly mentioned the trauma anniversary smack dab in the middle of all of my other emotional stress recently. Where it hasn’t really bothered me in several years I think the pain is a bit more acute this year just because my emotional threshold is so taxed. Even still as I’m aware of it, I’m not crippled by it as I have been in years past. I paid homage to the memory in my usual ritual; then I focused entirely on my self care for the rest of the evening.

This particular trauma is complicated at best. I only experienced it by proxy. My boyfriend at the time woke in a horrific night terror, screaming and crying for me. I’d left our bed to move to the couch because my back was hurting. Usually it didn’t bother him, but something that night triggered something in his mind which turned into a terrifying experience for me. I’d say for us both, but he has no memory of the event.

Let me tell you, hearing someone you love wail in pain and fear while scrambling around unaware of their surroundings is an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It wasn’t the first time I’d experienced waking in the midst of his night terrors, but this one was one of the most significant. It still resonates through my mind as if I experienced it yesterday. It’s been 12 years now, and still those cries, his face contorted with fear, tears flowing, watching him trip and smash into the hallway wall before crawling to find me in the living room… all of those images will haunt me for the rest of my life.

This particular memory is actually what kept me silent about the general dysfunction of our relationship and abuse I received at his hand for many years. If he had been lucid, his behaviors could easily be dismissed as manipulative. He wasn’t. Something stirred a fear from his subconscious and it overflowed into the waking world before his full consciousness could catch up.

He screamed, wailed, pleaded for me not to leave him because he didn’t want to be alone. So I didn’t. Even after our relationship ended, and I moved on meeting and marrying my current husband, starting our family, working through my trauma and even the abuse I endured at my ex boyfriend’s hand. I still stood loyal to whatever torment I could help my ex avoid.

Which of course is entirely ludicrous. There was never anything I could do, nor nothing I can do to help him battle his own demons. Whatever brought forth such distress for him that night is entirely his own battle to face. A battle he doesn’t want to acknowledge, (or isn’t able to acknowledge) apparently since he has no waking memory.

Yet, today is still one of the most poignant for me. As much as I never want to see the man again, I pause and say a little prayer for him and wish that he will find peace from whatever so deeply tormented his soul.

Steak and Cheeseburgers

Wow it’s been an exciting week around here. For starters I’ve been sick since the beginning of August. I thought it was just a run of the mill chest cold/virus that Little carried home from school. We all went through it, but I was the only one who had lingering chest congestion.

I waited another two weeks before heading off to the urgent care clinic to get checked out. I still didn’t really feel bad, but I just couldn’t get the congestion to subside no matter what I did. So the urgent care doctor listened to my check, took my symptoms and made her assessment: bronchitis, possible pneumonia, or even an asthmatic flare with the humidity and pollen going into the harvest season. She prescribed me antibiotics for the pneumonia and steroids for the asthma. Certainly not a misdiagnosis, but also not a very thorough investigation.

The next day I took my antibiotics and steroids as prescribed. Not really knowing the severity of my infection, the antibiotics the doctor prescribed weren’t strong enough, and the steroids effectively destroyed what little of my taxed immune system was still hanging on. Less than 36hrs after being seen at the urgent care, I hobbled into the ER in severe sepsis, borderline septic shock.

I’ve had a bout with mild sepsis before, eleven years ago after an unfaithful boyfriend lead to an untreated UTI. This one was much, MUCH worse. I’m no pansy when it comes to pain threshold. I nearly delivered my daughter at home because I didn’t realize I was in labor, and hobbled my way around with a dislocated hip for years. Pain is not something that stops me very often, but the pain I experienced leading me to the ER and while they were assessing my condition was something else entirely. I cried. Literally bawled my eyes out for a good solid hour as they were taking all sorts of tests before administering any pain medications.

It was brutal. On top of all of this, Labor Day weekend is a fairly sensitive trauma anniversary for me; AND for some reason a person I’d rather never speak to again decided it was a wonderful time to contact me after several police officers and one detective have told her to leave me alone. Unfortunately none of her previous contact mattered when I called the police this time due to statutes and jurisdictions, but hopefully she gets the hint: NO MEANS NO GODDAMNIT. Needless to say, I’ve had a time with flashbacks and intrusive thoughts during all of this.

I’m actually coping fairly well all things considered. I’ve managed to stay grounded in the present, my thoughts are coming and going quickly, and my emotions have remained on a fairly even keel. My head is swimming and I feel slightly disconnected physically, but that I believe is due more to the super antibiotics they have me on and less to due with my PTSD. If it is my PTSD, I already had a standing appointment with my therapist so we’ll address it as necessary.

Physically they eventually found the extent of my pneumonia hidden at the bottom of both lungs. It wasn’t visible on an X-ray, they couldn’t really hear it via stethoscope, they had to do a CT scan. Once they figured it out, I was admitted and literally drenched in IV fluids and antibiotics. Thankfully they were able to clear the sepsis and get my infection under control in less than 48hrs and send me home to continue my recovery. The hospital itself was a very nice facility, and the staff was knowledgeable and friendly. I still wanted to be at home with my Hubs and my babies instead.

One thing that’s made my recovery substantially easier this go around is the level of care my Hubs has provided. The first go around my boyfriend did take care of me. He helped me out of bed to and from the bathroom, made sure I ate even if his usual offering was a fast food cheeseburger, and kept lots of water and sports drinks available to keep me hydrated. He offered me the best he could in terms of care for as long as his guilty conscious kept bothering him anyway.

Hubs, on the other hand, has really been taking care of me. He’s prepared me breakfast and lunch at home making them complete meals, and treated me to a delicious steak dinner the first night I felt well enough to get out of the house. I was in better physical shape this go around and no quite as disabled after leaving the hospital but I’m certain he would have carried me to and fro if necessary.

The real difference between my husband and ex boyfriend isn’t really who cared for me better than the other, it’s where I land(ed) on their priorities. Hubs took time off and made his efforts to care for me a priority over everything except the kids. My boyfriend did what he could squeeze in for me between other women, work and his social life. While I’ve finally healed from the damage caused by my past relationship and harbor no hatred toward my ex, if I had to choose between steak and cheeseburgers… steak wins hands down. Nothing has made it so obvious as experiencing similar circumstances with both of them.

Alligators on the Roof

I’m so thrilled with the success of my first book and I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read it. I know I’ve only sort of mentioned it in passing here over the past year or so, which is kind of a bummer, but it has been an over all modest success. I’m not going to quit my day job, that’s for sure, but sometimes success is measured in more than money.

I’m also excited to announce the beginning of my next project! Since my next book steps away from my distant past and all of the people associated with it, I feel relatively safe promoting it here. To be perfectly honest I know my ex found my first book. I don’t know if he read it, had a synopsis given to him by somebody else, or just pretended to ignore it… but I do know he found it. Even still, I feel better keeping my first book entirely separate from my other writing here.

My next project, however, I’m excited to share! Alligators on the Roof: The Challenges of Parenting with Mental Illness. Very much like my first book it will be a collection of personal learning experiences that I’ve encountered during my initial voyage into the realm of parenthood. I’m just starting to get everything I’ll need together, but I’d like to have it in editing by next Fall if not sooner.

It’s easy to write something about what already happened in my life. It’s a bit more difficult to write about things that are still happening lol. My kids are young. I have years left to experience… but I also feel like my current issues with school and toddlerhood are worthy to share now. I’d like to find some guest authors, or contributors to add their take too. Maybe those with adult children who have experienced all phases of parenting with mental illness…. hmm… I’ll have to ponder on it…

Either way… here’s a brief teaser of what’s to come!

“They say it takes a village to raise a child, but what happens if your village is full of toxic ideas, philosophies and people? You strike out on your own left with the scars of your village often resulting in mental illness and become a ship lost at sea.”

Maybe One Arm…

After all of our evaluations Little is a pretty healthy, wicked intelligent, albeit socially awkward kid. Which, really, is to be expected with her above average emotional intelligence. Even her pediatrician said: “this behavior chart tells me that this teacher just met your daughter and isn’t sure what to do with such an exuberant, stubborn child in her class. I don’t see anything really out of the ordinary for Little here. It’s pretty classic Little, really.”

In short, she takes after her mother and is a rebel soul. So now… instead of fighting with the school system against her doctor, I’m going to bat for my Little’s individuality. She is kind, smart, inclusive, passionate, creative and outspoken. Once we get to the root of exactly why she’s lost respect for her teacher we can figure out the defiant behavior and go from there.

She’s grown into the small human I always hoped she would. My baby girl is a mover and a shaker. She has a purpose for her life somewhere outside 16 years of school and a 9-5 corporate job. We just have to find the balance she needs to be successful during at her primary school days so she can figure out what that purpose might be. I need one arm to reign her in, and one arm to hold off those who would squelch her exuberant spirit.

Her doctor did schedule a sleep study and an EEG to rule out any sort of seizure activity. Little has a history of seizure activity and while it shouldn’t directly affect her behavior, it could be contributing to her “fuzzy brain”. As her doctor gave me signs and symptoms to think about we’re beginning to explore the possibility of absence seizures, what they used to call petit mal seizures. Not quite sure where those tests will go, or how it might be affecting her overall, but it’s something to investigate.

I’m just glad that my Little seems to be doing quite well, all things considered. She’s just giving the teacher a run for her money. Lol.

Smash of Smashness

Last weekend the kids and I made plans to visit my parents and end our hectic Summer with a fun trip to my favorite amusement park. Little has been once before and she absolutely loved it. It would have been the Twins’ first experience with anything amusement related and I was so excited to see Champ flying around in the airplane ride and riding around in the train cars. Crash is a bit more reserved so I’m not sure if he actually would have enjoyed the rides just yet, but he would have enjoyed the ice cream and other various park treats. It was supposed to be a fun, relaxing weekend after a stressful week.

I say supposed to be, because as we were trucking along on the interstate our left rear tire blew out. I’m not sure if it was a pothole, the age of the tire, or something else that caused it to fail, but the tread separated; whipped around in the wheel well several times before finally flying off and alerting me to a problem. We were able to pull safely off to the side of the highway, but there was an unusual amount of traffic for a Saturday morning and I didn’t feel safe getting out of the car to see what damage we had incurred. I knew my tire would need to be changed at least so I called our insurance company and requested roadside assistance.

Something else unusual aside from the amount of traffic, our insurance company could only find one towing company willing to come out and inspect the damage. This was after it took us nearly an hour to pinpoint our location. I pulled off the road as soon as I saw tire bits flying down the road behind me, concerned more for the safety of myself and my children than exactly where I was at that point. Once I came to a stop and began looking for mile markers or other distinguishing landmarks I realized I ended up exactly between anything. I had just passed an exit, but hadn’t noticed the number trying to get off the road safely before anything else, and the next mile marker was just out of my line of sight. The only thing I knew was which interstate I was on and which direction I was heading.

Shouldn’t be an issue in the days of smartphones tracking our every move right? WRONG. The first thing I did when calling for help was flip on my location so help could find me. That’s what the location data from your phone is supposed to do after all, except I ended up in a data service dead zone. My GPS wouldn’t load. I could make phone calls all day long, but my GPS was useless. Eventually I got enough bars to load Facebook of all things to pinpoint my location. The dispatcher put my location on the map and called around trying to find a service provider. She found one, but his generous ETA was 90 minutes. An hour an a half sitting on the side of a busy interstate with my kids, other motorist swerving wildly around the debris left in the road from my tire. With. My. Kids. In. The. Car.

There was nothing that could be done. Hubs was at work and didn’t have his phone, I didn’t have anyone else to call except my own parents who were also at least 90 minutes away. I couldn’t limp the car to the next exit because I had no idea where the next exit was, and my kids are too young to understand the dangers of the road so we couldn’t get out and sit a safe distance away on the median or elsewhere. Plus it was 80+F not a cloud in the sky.

So I popped in a dvd for the kids, made sure they stayed in their seats with their safety belts fastened, kept my eyes glued to my mirrors and hand by the gear shifter in case I needed to maneuver farther off the road for any reason. For an hour and a half, until the blessed yellow flash of the tow truck lights popped up on the horizon.

Once the two truck arrived we moved the car back onto level ground and discovered that I needed much more than a simple tire change.

Not only was my poor tire shredded to bits, the tread flying around in my wheel well at 70mph wrenched my gas line from the gas tank, cracked the gas tank in the process, bent the frame, destroyed the back bumper, cracked the tail light assembly, destroyed the sway bar, severed the brake lines and all the electrical cables to the rear of the car. No amount of tire changing in the world would have made the car safe to drive. I hadn’t actually gotten out of the car at all to inspect the damage until the wrecker arrived just for my own safety.

I can change a tire with no issues. I’m not risking my own life and limb with my kids watching when I pay for roadside. So… up until that point I didn’t believe I needed anything other than a tire which is what I made the claim to insurance as. The driver of the wrecker took one look at it and said: “nope. You can’t drive that.” I agreed with him 100% and he called my insurance company to tell them the extent of the damage.

The insurance company, as insurance companies do, told him that they were only the roadside department and if I needed to make a claim I would have to call the claims department. So I did… two hours later I got my claim filed. Thank goodness the tow driver was gracious and stayed until I could get authorization for the tow. I don’t know how long we would have been waiting otherwise.

Of course it wasn’t a “family sized” wrecker and we had nowhere to wait and nowhere to go once he took the van. Hubs had just gotten off work and couldn’t make it down to us in less than an hour, but my parents had decided on a whim to come up and visit with the kids at our house after the tire fiasco. They arrived at the same exit on the interstate just as the wrecker arrived and were able to take the kids in their car.

Six hours after the beginning of our journey, we finally made it home. Hubs met us at the dealership, we got all of the kids home safely and for all of the time the wrecker spent with us that afternoon the towing bill was shockingly affordable.

We’re still waiting to hear from the insurance adjuster, but from Hubs’ initial assessment, we just might have totaled the car. Which I guess isn’t really a horrible way to total a car all things considered. If I had to have an accident, at least it didn’t involve any other motorists, and no one was hurt. If the car is indeed a total loss this will be the third vehicle I’ve lost due to catastrophic accidental damage that wasn’t in anyway my fault. Lol. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Tiny Sir

I love all of my kids to the moon and back. After raising them to the last year of toddlerhood and beyond I’ve noticed that the bond I have with my boys is significantly different than the bond I have with my daughter. Something about having tiny men to nurture and teach us just different and I don’t really know why.

I feel like I coddle them more than their sister. It’s almost like I’m raising them the stereotypical opposite way. I want my daughter to be tough and aware of yet in control of her emotions. My boys I want to be soft, gentle and expressive with their emotions. Maybe it really isn’t the opposite so much as it’s trying to find a balance in it all when the world is so divided in terms of gender stereotypes.

I don’t know, I just know that my heart bursts with joy when my little men want to snuggle or give me a hug in an entirely different way than it does when my daughter does. Neither experience is better than the other, but they are markedly different. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Retreat!

A few days ago I shared how my Little has been struggling with behavioral issues at school.

During the phone conference with her teacher I brought up the fact that she doesn’t go by her formal name unless she’s in trouble. I noted her preferred nickname on her new student form, but with so many kids to keep track of I’m not surprised it got missed. Her teacher was happy to accommodate Little once she was aware of her preference, and the very next day Little had her preferred name on her cubby, desk, and homework assignments.

Like a light switch Little’s behavior improved dramatically. She came home happy and smiling, instead of downtrodden and angry. She finished her homework and her chores without complaint, and woke up excited to get on the bus the next morning. She wasn’t being defiant for the sake of being defiant or some underlaying medical issue. She felt dismissed, ignored and disrespected.

It doesn’t excuse her reaction and poor choices, but it certainly does explain them! If you’re not going to listen and validate my kid’s reasonable request to call her by her preferred name… why the hell should she listen and be respectful to you? Lol. I mean I didn’t say that to her teacher, because I’m trying to be diplomatic about all of this, but I mean… duh. School is an entirely new experience for Little. She’s only emulating the way she feels and is treated because she’s still learning the ropes of what needs to be done.

She’s merely been applying the skills I’ve taught her when she runs away from her recess teacher. Her recess teacher grabbed her arm without her permission. She yelled: “No!” And ran away which is what I want her to do if someone violates her body safety even if unintentionally. There isn’t a lack of behavior causing her to bump heads with the staff. There is a lack of communication either because she’s still small and unable to convey her feelings accurately or because the staff simply isn’t listening to her as she’s only six and most six year olds don’t challenge authority even for valid reasons.

🤦🏻‍♀️

I still believe there are some underlaying medical issues contributing to her attention span, nightmare/terrors and sensory seeking type behaviors, which I want to pursue even if simply to rule them out, but taking the defiant behaviors out of the equation makes things much less scary and intimidating. Guess I can stow the artillery for another battle now…

To Arms

My Little has struggled something fierce with a neurological issue since she was two years old. It started as night terrors with one small bout of seizures. As she got older it began to evolve into small behaviors here and there. I noticed immediately and asked our pediatrician what we could do to evaluate her for potential mental health challenges.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much that we could do as most of her behaviors were dismissed as developmental milestones, or simply being “bad”. She’s my oldest child, and I trust our pediatrician on 99% of other medically related issues so I listened to the advice of her doctor: “She’ll grow out of it.” Now, nearly four years later as she’s began her school career, other people are taking notice of these challenging behaviors and beginning to ask questions.

I’m both relieved and disappointed. Relieved that I was observing these behaviors in my kid and not projecting my own struggles on to her. Relieved that as her teachers have come forward her doctor is finally taking my concerns seriously, which means that she’ll have access to the resources available to help her learn and grow to the best of her abilities. Disappointed because it took basically her entire early childhood to find some answers for her troubles, and disappointed that I doubted myself and my relationship with my child.

I know I struggle with learning and applying healthy parenting methods after recognizing the abuse I grew up with. I’m not a perfect parent by any means, but when my kid is consistently struggling no matter how many different parenting strategies we’ve gone through something else is the cause. Even if my early parenting blunders contributed to Little’s initial struggle, there is still something else going on.

Until now I’ve sat back and waited for her to “grow out of it”. Now it’s time to take up the arms and fight for my Little.