Saturday, April 13, 2013

I Have Arrived...

I have arrived.  It's been a long road.  And winding.  And surely the one less traveled.  I've sprinted and crawled.  I've been pushed and pulled.  But I?  Am a better person for it.

I have arrived.  At a point in my life where the bullshit doesn't matter.  I don't care what you think or what you say.  Not even who you are.  It doesn't matter to me.  And I'm okay with that.

I have arrived.  At a place where the vision in my rear view mirror is 20-20.  I can see where I've been.  I like where I'm at.  But I'm going to keep moving anyway.

I have arrived.  It's a place of comfort and a place of confidence.  And it's perfect and unsettled all the same. It's plain, it's simple.  It's tattered and worn.  It's just fine for me.

I have arrived.  I've come to know that life?  Is not a competition.  It's not a game.  So please quit playing.  I'm not trying to win.  I don't want to win.  I'm just surviving.

I have arrived.  I can lay my head down at night and sleep.  I can rest knowing that the path to this place was an honest one. The day has been long.  But it has been worth it.  I've given my best and that's all I have to give.  And it's enough.

I have arrived.  And I've learned that I didn't need your approval to get here.  And I damn sure?  Won't depend on you to stay.  I will keep traveling.   With or without you.

I have arrived.  But I will keep growing.  And going.  And I'm taking with me the one's who hold me up, not push me down.  The one's who support me, not suppress me.  The one's who'll help bare the weight, not burden the load.  I will not carry your baggage, too.  My hands?  Are full.

I have arrived.  Kicking and screaming.  But without excuses.  Not this time.  My heart is full and my conscience is clear.

I have arrived and I'm satisfied.  I'm full.  But I am not finished.

I have arrived.  I may be late, but I'm here on my terms.  And that?  Is better than never arriving at all.  


Monday, April 1, 2013

Help! I Can't Find A Pulse!

As some of you know, I've tried this whole blog thing before.  And I've abandon it.  Left it idle somewhere in cyberspace.  Apparently there's no one who really monitors the amount of "space" that's actually available in cyberspace (like a cyber cop or something?)... because if they did?  I'd have totally violated some law by now.  I'm absolutely sure my blogger parking meter ran out a looooong time ago.  And now I'm suddenly remembering why I left this shit parked in a back alley somewhere.  And this?  Is why... 

Maintaining a blog is a bit more complicated than I thought (albeit I'm an idiot).  I have no background in technology.  Unless you consider Facebook, in which case I'm a damn genius.  I digress... 
Before deciding to stay at home with the kids, I was a nurse.  I specialized in Emergency Medicine and CardioThoracic-Vascular Surgery.  And I loved it.  I mean, I really loved it.  Ok, so I really love my kids, too.  But I really loved my job.  I'm sick like that.  Anyhoo, here are things a few things I am knowledgeable about and/or can do with ease:

  • Check every orifice you have and not think twice about it- no matter what I may find.  Believe me.  I've seen it before.   
  • Calculate the dosage and drip rate for drugs that have the chemical equivalent of jet fuel.  And them use them to save your life.
  • Pull you apart and put you back together.
  • In a pinch, I can function as your heart, lungs, kidneys, or liver... and I'm pretty good at it. 
  • Save your ass.   
  • Stop the doctor before he really screws up.  (See last point)
The bottom line? If it currently has or recently had a pulse?  I can manage it.  Like.  A.  Boss. 

Things I have no idea about and can't seem to figure out no matter how long I stare at the screen.  Or?  Despite having multiple college degrees...
  • URL's
  • HTML's
  • Archives
  • Widgets, gadgets, and buttons
  • Links and rolls (is it wrong that this makes me only think of sausage?)
  • RSS
  • Subscriptions
  • Feeds and follows (and now I'm thinking about toddlers.  Dammit.)
  • Templates and layouts
  • Google+, Twitter, Tumbler, and whatever the hell else is out there. 
  • Previewing and publishing

And the list goes on...  And on...  And, well,  it's embarrassing.  Really. 

So this will be an experiment of sorts.  (That doesn't sound fun at all, does it?)  It sounds painful, actually. 
Let's look at it like a journey.  Yes, a journey!  That sounds waaaay more cool than an experiment, right?  After all, y'all aren't lab rats.  So, we'll navigate this journey... together.  In order to be successful (ok, tolerable) I'll need you to be patient with me.  I'm delicate, like a small flower.  Ok, so I'm not at all like a flower.  More like a dandelion. 
But still be patient with me.  And be kind.  And remember that my computer doesn't have a pulse.  So I can't fix this shit with an IV drip or a defibrillator.  The blogger me is a work in progress.  Just hold my hand and stroke my ego and we'll be just fine.  Tolerable.  I'll totally settle for tolerable. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

You Won't Find Funny Here

I want to tell you a story.  The story of how I learned to breathe life.  Not just live it, but feel it.  Taste it.  Breathe it.  You won't find funny here.  Not today. 

I'm a mother to three beautiful little boys who are all so charismatic and unique you wouldn't believe it.  I'm married to my high school sweet heart.  We've lived in small town USA all our lives.  There is only one high school, we all know the sheriff, and we sit on huge front porches and drink sweet tea in the summer.  We cruised the local Dairy Mart for fun in our teens, we've watched each other grow up and our friends' parents grow old.  We gossip at the local corner store,  we still pull over for funeral processions, and we go to church on Sundays. 

My husband and I are raising our family on a small farm where we have cows and dogs and cats.  We grow corn and cut hay.  The kids jump in mud puddles and climb fences.  They kick rocks and throw walnuts.  We're living the quintessential American dream.  As American as apple pie.  Authors write novels about people like us.  You know, the kind of books that give you hope and a sense of simplicity. 

I thought I knew all about life and how to live it.  I'm in my early 30's, I have two college degrees and three kids.  I know what it means to love my kids, be a good mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend.  I can drop them off, pick them up, and get them to practice.  I can pay the bills, clean the house, cook their dinner, and do their laundry.  All with a smile on my face.  It's obvious I've got it all figured out.  My priorities are in line.  I have a purpose and know my place.  And I love it.  I'm satisfied and thankful.  I'm so foolish...

Last summer my rose-colored glasses were ripped from my face.  There was no warning.  No caution flag.  My middle son, at the fragile age of four, was diagnosed with cancer.  Leukemia.  My blond-haired, blue-eyed little cowboy.  I had no idea he was sick.  Not a clue.  There were no signs.  No symptoms.  I took him to his pediatrician because I thought he had bronchitis.  Bronchitis.  There was no bronchitis.  There was cancer.  Cancer?  Cancer. 

There are no words to tell what that feels like.  To tell you what it was like to pick up the phone and call his daddy to tell him his baby - our baby - has cancer.  It's serious.  Progressed.  Deadly if untreated.  The next thing I know we're in the children's hospital.  There are doctors and nurses and interns and residents.  Asking questions and starting IV's.  Giving us mounds of paperwork that I didn't understand (and still don't) and demanding that we "Sign here and here.  Initial here."  I felt like they were trying to sell me a used car.  I was angry and confused.  I still am. 

The next day proved to be something straight from the guts of hell....  my sweet baby underwent two surgeries.  The first to place a port in his chest wall, during which his airway collapsed and was placed on a ventilator to breath for him.  To breathe life into him.  That same evening, the right ventricle in his four-year-old heart collapsed.  They took him to emergency surgery to remove malignant fluid from his pericardial sac.  The surgeon literally picked me up and placed me on the stretcher with my baby.  The staff dressed me in surgical scrubs as they were running down the hall with him lying on the bed and me laying right beside him.  Doors were swinging wide open and crashing against walls.  Machines were screaming.  I went straight into the operating room with him.  Laying beside my baby who looked like he was sleeping so soundly.  My left hand over his heart and my right hand on his head.  They let me stay until the entire medical team arrived to drain cancerous fluid from around his heart.  Cancer.  I was later told that they "never" allow that, but they didn't think I was going to see him alive again. That night his cardiac surgeon sat on his bed in the ICU holding my son's hand... "I don't know why your son is still here.  He shouldn't be here, medically speaking, but he is." 

After that the days started to run together.  I was lost.  I thought he was lost.  Cancer.  There was chemo and dressing changes.  There was vomiting.  Uncontrollable vomiting.  There were pills and fluids and cocktails that bared names I couldn't pronounce.  His tears, sweat and urine turned pink from the medicines.  There were tests.  And then there were more tests.  There was uncontrollable feelings of neglect for my other young sons at home that had been left with strangers to care for them.  There were visitors, tons and tons of them.  I started to feel like I was drowning.  Suffocating.  I couldn't breathe.  I couldn't stand to look at anyone, or explain our situation anymore.  I was nauseated by the sterile smells and the sounds of machines and pumps.  I couldn't talk.  I couldn't eat.  I couldn't sleep. 

Two weeks later, I was sent home to care for my baby.  But he was different now.  He was sick.  He was fragile.  He was scary.  He has cancer.  The unknown and the what-if's literally ate at my soul.  I felt out of control.  I couldn't fix it.  I couldn't take it away.  No band aid could patch it up.  A million hugs and kisses couldn't make it better.  I would literally lay in his bed with him at night and breathe his breath in through my nose as he slept.  That sweet baby breath that now smelled of chemicals and salves to protect the bleeding sores in his mouth.  I believed in my heart of hearts that I could breath the cancer out of him.  I dreamt that I could breath it out of him and give it to me.  I prayed for this.  And sometimes still do. 

The days turned in to weeks and the weeks into months.  We made trips to the Children's Hospital Oncology Clinic on a weekly basis.  Sometimes daily.  Because?  My son has cancer.  More chemo.  Sedations and bone marrow biopsies.  Chemo injections into his spine.  Cancer.  Countless cocktails of rocket fuel being pumped into his little body. More hospital admissions than I can recall.  Whole brain radiation.  Blood transfusions, platelet transfusions, and plasma infusions.  Cancer.  Vomiting and dehydration.  Steroid rages.  Narcotic pain medications.  Massive weight loss followed by unimaginable swelling and weight gain.  He was unrecognizable. Where there was once a shock of white-blond hair was now only a layer of thin, veiny, pale skin.  He was shocking and frightening to look at.  Where did he go?  Where was my little cowboy?  No matter where I looked or how hard I searched I couldn't find him.  I could only find cancer. 

The funny thing?  He never saw cancer.  He only saw life.  He didn't change.  I did.  He wasn't scary or frightening or unrecognizable.  I was.  In the time between chemo and vomiting, between clinic visits and spinal taps, he was still living.  He was playing and laughing and running and wrestling with his brothers.  When he could, he was outside jumping in mud puddles and climbing fences.  He is resilient.  He is unbreakable.  And he always will be. 

Our life will never be the way it was before last summer.  But we're adjusting to our "new normal".  His cancer has one of the longest treatment regimens of any cancer.  He'll be in treatment until October 26, 2015.  Three years and three months.  There are no guarantees.  There is a high risk of relapse and complications and secondary cancers.  There will always be the what-if's and the whys.  I'll always be searching for something.  But never for my child. I know exactly where he is and what he's doing.   He's busy living, NOT busy having cancer.  He's busy being a little boy, playing Spider Man and tractors.  Building forts and kicking soccer balls. 

He's still bald and he still vomits.  There are still countless trips to clinic and countless pills to swallow.  There is still chemo and sedations.  There are still tests, and transfusions.  There is still cancer.  But there is also life.  I still lay next to him and night and try to breathe his breath in to me.  But now, I'm not trying to breathe away a disease, I'm trying to breathe in life.  Not into him, but into me. 

"You can either go sit and cry in the truck, or you can COWBOY UP!"

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Because I Do Your Laundry...

Laundry.  I have a lot of it.  And it grows.  And it multiplies.  And it's out of control.  At any given time I have 10+ loads of laundry.  This is not an exaggeration.  So?

Because I do your laundry....

  • First and foremost, I do it out of necessity.  Not because it's enjoyable.  It actually makes me grit my teeth. 
  • Please know that I've taken into consideration that some of you still poop your pants and/or don't know how to wipe your own butts.  However, if you need help, ask.  This will cut down on hours of pre-soaking.  And gagging. 
  • Why some of you can't make it through a meal without spreading food from asshole to eyebrow is beyond me.  If you need a bib, let me know.  I'm sure there are some tucked away in the attic.  I'll be happy to dig them out.  Use a napkin- not your pants or your sleeve.  This applies to everyone, regardless of age.  I should own stock in OxyClean.  I keep them in business. 
  • It is not necessary to use a new towel each time you shower.  Hang it up and use it again.  It's not dirty.  You'll go days at a time and never think of taking a bath or brushing your teeth without being asked.  But it frightens you to reuse a towel?  This disturbs me.  Your thinking is distorted.  And for God's sake, pick them up off the floor.  Mildew stinks. 
  • There is nothing, I repeat, NOTHING pleasant about cramming my hand down in to your crusty, stinky sock to un-wad it.  Please do this on your own merit.  My nerves thank you in advance.
  • The laundry does not walk itself to the laundry room.  If you want it washed, bring it to me.  Do NOT ask me if you have clean jeans, a certain shirt, etc.  Did you bring it to me?  If not, then look up your a$$.  That's probably where you left it. 
  • There is a laundry basket in your room for a reason.  Use it.  You all have dressers and closets in your rooms, too.  Use them. 
  • Can I play with you right now?  No.  Did I get the taxes finished yet?  No.  Is supper ready?  No.  Did I feed the dog?  Make it to the grocery?  Pay the bills?  Mow the yard?  No, no, no, and no.  Why?  Because I do your laundry. 


Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Junk Yard

What is it about little boys and their parts?  We call it their "junk".  Anatomically correct vocab?  In my opinion, YES.  Beside the point.  My 2 year-old is obsessed with his junk.  He loves it.  Loves to pull on it, push on it, move it side to side, and rub it.  Why?  No really.  WHY???  My oldest never did this so this is new to me.  But D seems to be nothing short of mesmerized by his junk.  He has no idea what to do with it but sure spends most of his day getting to know it and trying to figure it out.  Really.  He loves to make it stand up and then sit back down- over and over.  Control issue?  Does he get this from me?  I love nothing more than to be in control.  We're recently potty trained.  Since we've ditched the diaper he has a new found freedom.  Freedom to filter through his junk.  Loves to lay around and watch Dora while getting to know his new friend.  This disturbs me on multiple levels.  No habla espanol.  Will this stop? Will it ever end? I know the answer.
He does it in public.  He does it in private.  I've tried to tell him that he has to explore his junk in his bedroom, but he's two.  He doesn't see the issue.
Yesterday we went to the State Fair.  Standing in the cattle barn before the steer show he decides that his junk needs some attention.  At first it was subtle - not noticed at all by anyone other than me.  But then.... then it became noticed by all.  Full out hands down pants.  Just junkin' it up. Shirt untucked, belt unfastened, junk up and out.  What the hell?  He thinks it's okay.  Why isn't it okay with mommy?  It's SO NOT OKAY with mommy. He's my baby. He's two.
Which brings me to my next point.
All we ever hear about as little girls is to stay away.  The junk yard is a dangerous place.  A school-aged girl wouldn't go near a junk yard if it was the last place on earth.  Deathly afraid.  As teenagers we have the unrelenting need to actually see the junk yard.  Why?  Because we've been told for so long to KEEP OUT.  And it's fun at first, right?  Sneaking around the yard.  Trying to decide if it's just that.  Junk.  Or an actual treasure trove?  One woman's trash is another woman's treasure.  Then we figure it out.  Some offer much better trashy treasures than others. 
Men have been prepping the yards since they were toddlers.  While seven-year-old little girls are running away screaming, little boys are checking out other yards.  Sizing them up.  Seeing what everyone else's junk  is all about.  How big is Joey's yard?  What's wrong with Billy's junk?  Why does Sam have a tarp covering his junk yard?  Where's my tarp?  By the time they're teens the lock is off and the gates are open.  Junk all laid out everywhere for anyone to rummage through.  They might as well put up a neon sign.  Open for business.  Adult men have a guard dog at the yard.  He's big and fierce. The dog's name?  Ego.  Ego is surely man's best friend.  And Ego is really good at guarding the yard.  He barks.  And he barks loudly.  Ego scares most adult women away.  The more junk in the yard, the bigger the dog, er, Ego. 
My D has a guard dog.  A poodle. Of course named Ego.  D's Ego is just an annoying little yapper that's let him think that he's gonna mess in the yard despite what mommy says.  Who cares how many times she pulls my hands away or tells me to go to my room.  Ego will protect me.  Ego will bite her.  Mamma's about to take that poodle to the pound.  Let's wait till we're a little older honey.  You're not responsible enough for a dog yet.
The The only difference between D and adult men?  Adult men are suave about their junk.  They've evolved and adapted.  Most of them, anyway.  They know how to be Junky McJunkerson in public without drawing attention to themselves.  They know how to lure women in and make them like it.  Not my D.  He's proud of what he's got and he wants everyone to know about it.  Whether you like it or not.  Whether you want to be there or not.  I've got a feeling that as soon as the poodle's out of the picture we'll graduate to a doberman.  Why?  Because D will have the lock off and the gates open in the next year if he keeps his pace up. 
As I'm sitting here typing I look to my right.  D's sitting on the couch next to me.  In his jommies.  Guess what he's doing? Guess what he's watching?

**Originally written 8/2010 by Rebecca**

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