From the Mommy Files…

Archive for the ‘parenthood’ Category

Today we celebrate all the amazing dads and granddads, and my dad is no exception.

If you’ve been following my posts about my dad, you know that my dad has Alzheimer’s and now lives in a nursing home. A friend publishes this awesome blog with posts written solely by women, called Women.Who.Write. She published my Mother’s Day essay, and immediately requested one for Father’s Day. Easier said than done.  But this exercise helped me to identify and begin to confront some of the many complex emotions that Alzheimer’s elicits.

Have a read. My Dad: Reflections, Lessons, Love…and Celebration

Thanks Amelia and Women.Who.Write!

Happy Father’s Day!

I'm so blessed to be this man's daughter! Here we are on my wedding day.

I’m so blessed to be this man’s daughter! Here we are on my wedding day.

Hey there! How’s it going?

Yesterday was the last day of school. Like you, I’ve been mired in all the end-of-the-year events, shopping for teacher gifts, etc. Plus, I’ve been working on an exciting new project, which I will share with you soon. I didn’t want you to think I had succumbed to a new malady, so I thought I’d better check in! 😉

Boo and Bebs enjoying the beach on California's Central Coast.

Boo and Bebs enjoying the beach on California’s Central Coast.

 

Like you, I like to read blogs. (Thanks for reading this one!) Some posts really resonate with me, and I share them on Facebook or Twitter. I thought it would be fun to share them here with you.

Here are my 3 favorite posts from this past week.

1. Saying These 8 Things To Your Kid Every Day Could Change Their Life

I came across this on Facebook, from The Breast Cancer Site. It really hit home. Recently, I have experienced a mindshift in my parenting. I’d been reciting mantras, reading affirmations, trying to motivate, inspire, uplift myself — and boost my confidence. I realized my kids needed this too. These are some great tips to help your kids feel good about themselves, gain confidence, security, and courage.

2. To Build (or Break) a Child’s Spirit

This one comes from Huffington Post Love Matters, by Rachel Macy Stafford. This post reminds us that what we say and how we say it can have a profound impact on our kids. We do get frustrated. Absolutely. No one likes to be yelled at — not even us. We aren’t bad people. Sometimes we make bad choices, and make mistakes, but that doesn’t make us bad people. We have to find ways to turn these incidents into lessons of what not to do, and how to do better. Even something as simple as spilling milk — I know, even when it’s the 100th time — can get our goat. I’ve realized that we need to be positive and use these as teaching moments. We can make they feel awful, or we can teach them that mistakes happen, and remind them they are loved, and they can do better. Sometimes easier said than done, but we all need the reminder sometimes.

Now something just for fun! 😉

3. Bohemian Momsody

This one’s from Scary Mommy. If you don’t subscribe to Scary Mommy, go now and do it! There’s some great stuff there, and some chuckles too. I’m sure we have all felt like this at one time or another. Enjoy!

What are some of your favorite posts this week? What are some of the other blogs that you follow?

Did you ever have one of those days – or weeks or even years – when you said to yourself, “I didn’t sign up for this crap!”

I think I’m the poster child!

Life seems to get more complicated by the day.

Can we start 2014 again?

I seem to have lost half a year!

Let me explain…

I started the year all fired up… hospital sign

I had a meeting with my editor to jump start the rewrite on my molar pregnancy book.

I had set some goals.

I was going to make things happen.

It was going to be my year.

Then reality set in.

My 5 year-old, who’d spent 3 days in the hospital in November for Encopresis, had begun seeing a psychologist to help her get over her refusal/fear/aversion to poop.

These sessions resulted in hours more work for me.

Driving an hour to the appointment, an hour there, an hour back.

Then there was the charts, and then coaching and cheering, and sourcing prizes and incentives.

I realized I was spending about 3 hours a day on this.

And I didn’t have 3 hours to spare.

I never thought I’d cheer for poop, sit so long in a bathroom trying to coax a poop out of my child.

It seemed we’d take one step forward, then five back.

Then I got a sinus infection.

My immune system has never been the same since chemo, and when I get sick, it knocks me on my rear, and for a long time.

There were days I could barely get out of bed.

To put breakfast on the table, make lunches and pack backpacks was a difficult thing.

My husband had to take the girls to school and pick them up – every day.

After three weeks, I went to the doctor. He decided it was something bacterial, and put me on pneumonia watch. Yikes.

Two different kinds of meds, and those ribs that I fractured a couple of years ago when I had a bad, enduring cough during chemo?

Those were sore again from the coughing.

It took about a month for me to recover.

Now you may know that my mother has had a lot of health issues, and we have been dealing with her refusing to take her meds, her growing meanness to my dad (the only reason she was not in a nursing home was because he put all his energies into caring for her, and waiting on her hand and foot, though it was never enough for her)

In the beginning of February, Mom was not feeling well.

We wondered if this was her way of bringing attention back to her (she’s done this before) following the death of my dad’s brother’s wife (my dad began calling Greece day and night, fearing his brother would soon follow his wife), and the issues with my little one.

I got a call from the nurse at her doctor’s office.

Mom had gone to see her.

I had no idea.

She had a UTI, and they were going to prescribe antibiotics.

I spoke to Mom, she said she didn’t go to the doctor because she thought she had a UTI, she just wanted to go.

OK, well, at least we found this infection.

She is a frequent flyer on the UTIs.

My guess was always poor hygiene, and a growing laziness to even get up out of her chair to use the bathroom.

Mom was always a difficult sort, and seemed to be her own worst enemy.

A few days into the antibiotic, she seemed to grow weaker.

My aunt—Mom’s sister—is a nurse, and lives a few minutes away from my parents.

She went to check on Mom and decided we should press the emergency alert button and summon an ambulance.

Mom couldn’t get up out of the chair.

She didn’t think she could make it to the door.

My mom seemed out of it.

When I got to the hospital, they were still running tests, working her up.

Finally, they told us her UTI had not responded to antibiotics.

Mom is allergic to many antibiotics and has grown resistant to others (since she takes them so much).

Her bladder was severely infected.

She’d have to be admitted, for some heavy duty antibiotics to be administered via IV.

We gathered her things to go up to her room.

As we got Mom out of bed, I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before.

Mom had lost a ton of weight.

Now we thought she’d lost a little; we could tell in her face.

Mom was well over 200 lbs, and she’s only 5’3”.

She could stand to lose some weight, but wow, she had lost quite a bit.

Once in the room, the nurse brought in a scale.

Mom was 157 lbs.

Not two months earlier, she tipped the scales at 215.

What was going on?

She never got out of her chair, and never changed out of her huge nightgowns, so how would we know?

Mom was almost lifeless.

She was incredibly weak, and they started her IV antibiotics.

The next day, they told us the antibiotics weren’t working.

There was no change.

They’d have to increase the dose and the duration.

Hopefully that would do the trick.

In the meantime, she begged and pleaded with Dad not to leave her alone.

She was scared, thought she was dying.

Dad never left her room that week.

A psychologist took us out in the hall to speak to us briefly, and Mom freaked out.

Dad barely ate.

I took him home a couple of times to shower and change, and he wanted to go right back.

Mom expressed to him that she was afraid she’d die, and didn’t want to die alone.

And then of course she threatened that if she were to die alone, she’d haunt him forever.

So what’s a man to do?

So here we are, mid-February:

I’m not 100% well yet.

I’m dragging the Bebs to the psychologist, being a “poopy” cheerleader.

Boo is feeling a bit neglected, acts up. Rare for her.

Then one night, while sitting on the toilet, between poop cheers, Bebs blurts out,

“Is YiaYia going to die?”

I guess I hadn’t thought much about it to that point.

“Will you lose your Mommy?” Boo asked.

Honestly, I lost my mommy a long time ago…but that’s another story for another time.

I guess it was really possible that her body was finally giving up.

The phone rang.

It was the urologist who I’d been chasing for days to get more info on her test results.

 The news was worse than I anticipated.

 

So where did we leave off before I got consumed by moving?

That’s a whole other story.

Oh yes.

STROKE ALERT!

A quick trip to the CT room and back, revealed there was no stroke.

Thank God.

But…

Yes, there was a “but.”

Something on the scan didn’t look right, so the doctor ordered a series of MRIs and MRAs.

The doctor gave no clue as to what he was looking for nor did he share any of his suspicions.

I didn’t even know how many tests I was about to receive until later.

Meanwhile, the vertigo was still an issue, especially with all the tests.

Another doctor came in and told me in order for him to figure out what this vertigo was, he had to do a test that would probably make it worse.

He raised me up quickly and turned my head really fast.

Holy cow!

Talk about speeding up the spin!

“A typical case of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo.”

Say that 10 times fast.

“Or BPPV for short.”

Apparently, we have crystals in our ears that regulate our balance.

When one comes out of place, it creates the vertigo.

The doctor explained that this was treatable.

He said there was a therapy I could do to gently move the crystals back into place, and then it should go away.

OK! So set me up!

Not so fast.

“We have to get the results from your other tests first.”

Meanwhile, Peter left to be at home when the girls woke up.

It would be several hours before I got any answers—or any relief for that matter.

I was given a pill and an injection to help stop the vertigo.

They helped, but didn’t relieve it 100%.

The ER began to fill up – there was a flu epidemic and people were flocking to the emergency rooms.

Eventually, this ER would be shut down.

I had been in the ER for more than 12 hours before I received more information.

Vertebral Artery Dissection.

What’s a vertebral artery?

The explanation I recall from the ER is not 100% correct, so I’m not sure if I didn’t hear it right or it wasn’t explained well.

We have two vertebral arteries—one on the left side of the neck, the other on the right. They are major arteries of the neck.

The one on my left side was torn.

Wait—there’s more.

I was told there was an aneurysm blocking the entry point.

VAD happens typically when there is an injury, or in many cases, a chiropractic adjustment gone bad.

I had neither.

The doctor asked me think back to what has been going on in my life.

We discussed the molar pregnancy, the chemo, the neurological issues I have had since.

It could all be related. They just weren’t sure yet.

This is a rare malady.

And for now, they would pronounce the cause as “spontaneous,” though we would revisit this again later.

So tell me, how did I get two “rare maladies” in a little more than two years?

Lightning struck me twice!

Then came more news.

I was going to stay in the hospital.

And my children?

The nurse said, “Let your husband take care of it. You can’t stress yourself out.”

Well, stress is part of this game we call Motherhood, no?

NOW WHAT?!

A chest x-ray, a discussion about therapies, and a four-hour wait in the hallway for a room.

Yes, you read correctly.

The ER was so jammed, I was moved from my room and had to wait in the hallway of the ER until I could get the x-ray and a room became available.

I was offered the choice of several drug therapies—all involving blood thinners with varying side effects, as well as follow up methods.

I chose Xarelto, which was a relatively new blood thinner, since I wouldn’t need weekly blood work, and my diet would not be restricted.

Then came the rules for this game.

“There are several things you will no longer be able to do, and some for now, let’s put on hold,” the neurologist explained.

“You have to take it easy, and no stress. You need to heal.”

I told him I was a mother, and that was an impossible task.

“Well, you have to try,” he insisted.

Then came the litany of activity restrictions:

No running, no jumping.

No prolonged movements of the neck.

“You know when you go to the hair salon and they put your head in the shampoo bowl?” the doctor asked.

“Don’t do that. It can give you a stroke.”

WHAT?!!!

“No quick movements of the head either. Use extra care when you drive.”

There was more.

“No neck massages, no yoga.”

How was I supposed to relax?

“No aerobic activity. Walk on the treadmill, but at a slow pace and only for a short time. Listen to your body. If you get dizzy doing anything, stop.”

“Take your meds once a day with dinner. Do not forget or you will be an increased risk of stroke.”

I asked how likely it was that I could have a stroke.

The doctor said it was VERY likely if I didn’t follow the rules, and somewhat likely even if I did.

He told me that I was lucky.

Lucky? How do you think this is lucky?

It seems that most people do not know they have VAD until they have a stroke.

If you hear of people under 50 having a stroke—this is most likely why.

So I was a walking time bomb.

“Oh yes,” the doctor said. “You might want to not play with the kids. No horsing around whatsoever. Do not lift them. Do not lift anything heavier than 10 lbs.”

“Are you kidding me?” I asked.

“I wish I were,” he replied.

17 hours after I arrived at the ER, I was finally on my way to a room.

Somebody wake me up from this nightmare.

This cannot be happening!

————————————————————————————————————————

Check back soon to learn what happened next.

 

 

 

That night, I woke up and rolled over to the right. I got dizzy. Hmmm. I hadn’t consumed any alcohol that night.

I settled back down and in a few moments the dizziness stopped. I drifted back asleep.

Sometime later I woke up and rolled over to the left. The room began to spin uncontrollably. What was happening?

No alcohol, I didn’t have a migraine, I ate…what was going on?

It wouldn’t stop. I tried to settle myself, but to no avail. I got scared and let out a scream.

“Oh my God! What’s happening?”

My husband ran up the stairs so fast, it’s amazing he didn’t fall and break a leg.

I explained the situation. The room wouldn’t stop spinning.

“HELP!”

Finally, after a few moments, sitting up, the spinning stopped. It was the weirdest thing I had ever experienced.

You know the head spins after a night of consuming too much alcohol…this was worse.

It was January. Almost one week into the New Year. This had happened to me once before, in August 2012.

My cousin came over.

We drank a bottle of wine, ordered some take out, and talked until the wee hours.

The next morning, I felt hung over. OK.

A while later, I got up from the couch and the room was spinning uncontrollably.

I’d sit back down, and feet on the floor, it would finally stop. This went on the entire day.

Every time I got up it was worse. I got sick.

I crawled around, because standing up made the room spin and started the chain of events again.

I was either on the couch or in the bathroom.

The girls stayed with me on the couch all day. They watched cartoons while I tried to sleep it off.

Just when I thought it was getting better, it got worse.

I was so sick, we decided that I probably had some kind of food poisoning. I couldn’t function.

By the next morning, I was fine.

I never thought twice about it because it didn’t happen again—until that January night.

Except, there was no alcohol involved this time. Hmmm…

So hubs ran up the stairs in record time and I explained the situation. He got me a drink of water.

As I sat there, various parts of my left side began to tingle and then go numb—one after another.

This was not normal.

My husband called and had my doctor paged. He immediately called back with a dire tone:


“GET HER TO THE HOSPITAL NOW! SHE COULD BE HAVING A STROKE!”

A what? Get out! I’m in my early 40s. People my age don’t have strokes.

Well, some do, but lightning already struck me once with a rare malady. What in the world?!

It was after midnight.

I didn’t want to wake the girls and drag them to the ER in the middle of the night, to stay for an untold amount of time.

We called our next door neighbors, who graciously came over right away so we could go to the hospital.

If it was indeed a stroke, there was only so much time to spare before there would be permanent damage.

This was all happening so fast and all I could think about was my kids waking up and wondering where I was.

I didn’t even think about the ratty old, stained t-shirt I was wearing—one kept more for nostalgia than looks.

So in that 25 year old t-shirt that really belonged in the garbage, and my pajama pants, I put on sneakers (yes, believe it or not, I left the house in sneakers!) and my husband and I set off for the hospital.

What was happening to me?

I was still dizzy on and off, and at varying degrees.

It was kinda like being outside yourself.

Who was this person and what was happening?

Why was I on my way to the hospital?

Why did I have something else going on?

What if I did have a stroke?

Who would care for my kids?

It was hard enough to find someone to watch my kids when I was going through chemo.

What would we do if I needed extensive rehab?

What?
What?
What?
Why?
Why?
Why?

At the ER, they were expecting me. The doctor called ahead.

I was quickly put in a wheel chair and taken to triage.

Then came the announcement:

“STROKE ALERT!”

It didn’t seem possible that the alert was for me.

Me, in my early 40s? Isn’t this something that happened to old people?

—-
Unfortunately this is not the opening of a novel or a short story. This is my real life story–the story about why I haven’t been around, why you haven’t heard much from me this year. Check back soon to read more.

My blue bike is long gone, but it looked something like this.

My blue bike is long gone, but it looked something like this.

Last week, we took our daughters to Toys R Us for a reward.

We’ve recently moved, so we are just locating all the nearest locations of the stores we frequent.

We chose one particular location of Toys R Us and hit the road.

As we drove, I got very excited.

I began to think this was the very same Toys R Us where we shopped (when we did) as kids.

I remembered the time we went there, and my father bought me a bike – my first brand new bike.

I was in 6th grade.

I’d had bikes before, but being the 3rd of 4 kids, I often didn’t have brand new anything.

This was a big day for me, and I was surprised to see that enthusiasm hadn’t waned with the years.

I remember the day.

Dad said it was time for me to have a new bike, all my own.

We drove to the Toys R Us and there were many bikes displayed outside the store.

I eagerly jumped out of the car, and ran to the display.

To me, it was the best day ever.

I picked out a light blue 3-speed, with red racing stripes and a white seat.

I loved that bike.

It was mine, and no one else’s.

I think I had that bike for 15 years.

I recall that day fondly, and I could feel that same excitement, as I took my girls to the SAME store.

I sprang out of the car, as I did on that day so long ago.

I thought, is this the same building?

The sign was obviously a more updated version.

Who was more excited? Me or the girls? 😉

As we walked in the doors, I knew. It was the very same one!

Searching through the store for the princess aisle, the anticipation shot through me, just like the day I got my new bike.

Was that even possible?

The girls picked out their toys, and if I didn’t know better, I’d say I almost started to skip inside the store, just like a little girl.

It never ceases to amaze me, how some small, insignificant thing can trigger a memory, a feeling.

That old bike is long gone.

But I will never forget that day – getting my very own brand new bike, one I could select, and it would be only mine.

I’ll never forget the freedom I felt as I rode my bike through the neighborhood—wind in my hair, the speed, the independence.

That bike brought me such happiness.

And obviously still does.

Has any activity with your kids brought back very fond memories and feelings?

Please share.

MACA

Today, around the US is the Million March Against Child Abuse.

In cities across the country, people will gather to be a voice for children.

For years, I’ve been saying, who’s protecting the children?

I’d hear these awful stories and wonder why something more wasn’t being done.

Kids can’t protect themselves.

They look to adults for protection, for shelter, for everything.

Sure kids can be rambunctious.

Sure they can drive you nuts.

But to abuse them?

I’ve often said, anyone who abuses a child should be punished to the maximum penalty of the law.

And released to the masses to be tortured.

A child?

I look at my own kids and I know, if someone threatened or actually harmed them, I’d go crazy on them.

What about all those kids who don’t have anyone to protect them? To shelter them? To give them love?

As a community, as a society, as human beings, we have an obligation to be a voice for the children.

They need us.

We can’t allow anymore abuse to take place.

Today, we are asked
TO BE THERE, TO BE A VOICE.

TODAY
Americans across the nation in over 100 cities and 45 states will gather to raise awareness of child abuse and crimes against our children.

TODAY
We gather to put an end to the enormous amount of lenient sentencing passed down from judges.

TODAY
Please join children’s organizations, churches, all child advocates and groups in this never before history making event.

Our children are screaming out for help!

The peaceful walks will take place today, all over the US.

Who will protect the children?

Will you?

Join MACA even for one hour.

On Facebook, search “Million March Against Child Abuse.”

Info on Chicago event is here.


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BooBoo BeDoux

Bebs LaRoux

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