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Big Decisions ~ Tough Choices

So I’ve been talking with y’all about a job opportunity that has come up outside of the home. I’ll be honest, I’ve been agonizing over the whole thing since it came up. My immediate response was to get excited….very excited. And that was the first thing that made me pause. Due to past circumstances, I don’t “hope” for a lot of things; not getting attached before it actually happens ~ hurts less. Those who understand that need no further explanation, and those that don’t well it’s hard to explain it in that case….

So I had to figure out why I got so excited. Done. Then I had to assess the pros and cons as some of you recommended. That is when it got complicated.

I WANT this job. I could do this job and excel at it!! I might even be able to add insight into it and make the program stronger. I would be administrating the whole thing eventually. Also, I would be able to easily finish my degree since schooling is the perk of the job. No other benefits, but even the hours are not that demanding to start. Money is good too, I won’t lie. There has been this hunger to do this for a long time. Circumstances have pulled me twice, for two different reasons and at two different times, from this exact thing. I have a burning need to prove everyone wrong and finish what I started. I was unfocused and adrift at that time in my life, struggling with burdens I no longer bear and I take back to the task some wisdom and strength I would not have had either. I believe that will make my school experience mean something more important and vital to myself. I want to prove to MYSELF that I can do this too. Doubt is a powerful prison but it can be a powerful fuel as well. So that one is about me. What I want and need.

Then I turned consideration to my children. They have paid the price with me the last 5 years. The hell of step-parenting, my being so ill, the stress of so many family members gone for one reason or another. I’d be trading the complete and now unimpeded focus of my attention for their last chunk of time as kids, lose my last chance to do what we tried to do from the start and possibly lost the chance to help my daughter tame this wildness inside herself as well as fail my son breaking my own silent promise to him. He only has 5 years left and she only has 8. Time has taught me those will be gone before I know it, even if I’m paying close attention. Don’t they finally deserve my healthy attention? My not sick, not stressed, can participate daily attention?

You bet your ass that I have fought for them. You bet I took care of them day and night since they first drew breath. But I was a single parent for the first chunk – no choice but to work though it tore me up to realize other people were in essence raising my kids. I’ve been sick as hell to the point of nearly dying the last 6 years – like literally in the hospital every other month or so till about 7 months ago and now that I have the chance I was praying and begging for, am I going to throw it away or tend to my family? God knows D and I have talked about it since the boys left and we are determined not to make the same mistakes with Bubba and Tornado. Yeah…..the scales didn’t just tip there, they slammed down hard to the other side.

After that I thought on it a while. Not the choice I want to make, but the right choice I think. I was swaying towards not thinking it was a good idea. That I was being selfish if I chose myself over parenting again. I tried to go to school again for a while when my son was a baby. Got a full scholarship. It required a minimum of 10 hours of work on the newspaper on top of a full time school load. My son was in daycare centers and homes. We had several bad run ins. Yes, some of the places were fantastic but some people should not EVER be near children. I kept a close watch and popped in at odd times. I caught it each time and it tore me up each time. How could I keep subjecting my child to this?

I quit school again, got a day job and sent him to one of the best centers in the area. He loved it, loves them and even three years ago when we went back for my nephew’s funeral he remembered them and was happy to see them. They were more family than anything and that is a rare find. I’ve also worked at daycare centers and know what can happen. Bubba is too old now, but idle hands we have discovered with the older 3 are the devils plaything. So critical timing on him. Tordado, like I said earlier, is our challenge and if I don’t help shape this, I admit that it could be, more likely than not, disastrous left unchecked into her teens.

We are planning some day trips and stuff with them, as well as gathering camping gear now that we have a permanent storage solution. Less time with other people entertaining them with what kinds of things happen in a small town with bored kids, more time learning what it means to enjoy yourself and build roots with your family.

Then something came up that would send a much needed jolt of instant life into our business and we could be up and running easily. This would require my flexibility at home. An ability to run the home office we have created now that we had an empty room. We would instantly have two people in mind for employees and I would need to handle scheduling for them as well as the increase from our other thing. It would be time to get serious and start kicking butt and taking names. This would include a slower version of finishing my degree. A few classes here and there at night. Not the immediate gratification a fast hard push would have but a battle worth fighting.

We would also be building something the kids are both interested in. My son has the programming interest and Tornado is all over advertising and stuff. It is so fun to watch them developing their different levels of interest so differently from the boys. Had the three of them not lost their minds, they would each be in charge of a division with 1 -2 employees by now. Too bad, because that looks impressive, not to mention they would be making near triple anything they are going to be able to find on their own. They could be making bank and living in nice houses and such but they chose to struggle out there instead which is still hard for us to understand. We are trying to teach Tornado and Bubba as well because it doesn’t make sense to them and they have said as much, more than once.

Building this business back after all the hits we have taken is a battle worth fighting. Ordinary Dad did not push me at all. When I told him about my decision to turn the job down, he listened quietly to all my reasons and supported me. When, and only when, I directly asked him did he express his hope about the job and my wanting to stay here. Though he was the one that put my name up in the first place and brought news of it home. He would have supported me working if that is what I had wanted. And he supports my school desire too for me and for the benefit to our work. He wants what makes me happy and is secure enough to admit he hoped I would choose this, not only for me but for what we promised and dreamed together. So at the end of it, I am sorry to miss this chance ~ I got to see what I would be missing and that the dream I do have was what makes me happy all along. I would miss that if I didn’t understand dreams can change like people do. This is still my dream, it’s just not my most important one anymore. So I feel blessed and I guess I know what needs to be done. What has always needed to be done.

I am not going to rush it either by doing an online version. I will walk the campus, help with the business but first and foremost it is my job, my desire, my humble honor to take care of my kids and my husband. It isn’t my way is right, your way is wrong – it isn’t anything but an honest assessment of what the need not the want is and what is truly important at THIS moment in our lives.

the choice only YOU can make

the choice only YOU can make

Until we meet again, stay safe and be blessed my friends.

 

My Illness is NOT Me.

I can pinpoint the moment it began. I was 11, we had just escaped from my abusive step-father and moved from the south to Connecticut. My mother, two sisters and I all lived in one room. It used to be the basement but they redid it. One door led to the laundry room, the other door out to the garage, which was only used as storage and all four of us shared it. It was a high stress time in my life. Between the abuse we had left and the struggle I was having being uprooted yet again, it really isn’t a surprise to me. I can recall many, many nights I was sick with “a stomach bug” while the whole house slept, if I woke my mom she got mad, so I suffered alone in the dark usually. Gradually I guess they stopped over time. I got through middle school and when high school came around the stress lessened and I found a nitch for myself.

It affected me in smaller ways then. My mother was too sick to notice or listen to the signs and I was too young to know any better and even though I might be dating myself we didn’t have the internet to look stuff like this up. When summer came and the weather got hot, I would not eat as much, I can’t eat when it is too hot. I was a vegetarian (fish/turkey) when I was a teenager until I got pregnant with my son and so I wouldn’t say I had food triggers back then. I was susceptible to being car/bus sick until I was around 12 but for the most part I was a cast iron stomach, eat what I wanted, ride this wild ride that makes most people puke kind of girl. As time moved on and I made choices that affected my long term health it became more apparent what price I would pay.

I have been incredibly sick for the last 6 years or so. Well I should say that is when it got serious again. It may or may not have something to do with the incredible amount of stress that step-parenting placed on me and mine. After years of struggle, too many hospital visits and stays to count, multiple ambulance rides, hundreds of different kinds of medicine, 5 sets of scopes, multiple test including CAT and MRI, one ICU stay, a blood transfusion, a surgery for something unrelated but was exacerbating my issue; I have been diagnosed with what is called CVS or Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome, a mitochondrial dysfunction. Basically, your body works overtime to overcome difficulty in converting food into energy, which causes a hypersensitivity in your system (sometimes even causes your system to shut down and refuse to move). There is no cure and little to no research. I will have it for the rest of my life and must learn to manage it. I carry the genetic markers for Crohns from both my parents and though I have not and will not develop Crohns, (according to my specialist) this is most likely the reason I developed CVS.

CVS has four phases:

  • Symptom-free interval phase. This phase is the period between episodes when no symptoms are present.
  • Prodrome phase. This phase signals that an episode of nausea and vomiting is about to begin. Often marked by nausea—with or without abdominal pain—this phase can last from just a few minutes to several hours. Sometimes, taking medicine early in the phase can stop an episode in progress. However, sometimes there is no warning; a person may simply wake up in the morning and begin vomiting. (has happened to me more than once)
  • Vomiting phase. This phase consists of nausea and vomiting; an inability to eat, drink, or take medicines without vomiting; paleness; drowsiness; and exhaustion. (at my worst I dropped to 120lbs and I am 5’10”)
  • Recovery phase. This phase begins when the nausea and vomiting stop. Healthy color, appetite, and energy return.

There are no triggers that I can recognize as far as food or diet, other than continued bad behavior will set me off (sometimes I get mad/frustrated and say screw it and ignore what I should do). For sure stress does it for me, and if I don’t get enough sleep, it is much harder for me to control as well. Migraine headaches will do it, they have found a direct connection between them.

Many people can identify a specific condition or event that triggered an episode, such as an infection. Anxiety and panic attacks are more common triggers in adults. Colds, allergies, sinus problems, and the flu can also set off episodes in some people. (So if my kids bring home a virus and I catch it – it can set me off) Others reported triggers include eating certain foods such as chocolate or cheese, eating too much, or eating just before going to bed. Hot weather, physical exhaustion, menstruation, and motion sickness can also trigger episodes.

Everything suffers, my internal organs wear from the weight loss and gain, especially my heart, kidneys and liver. My heart rate drops to the low 40s now during an attack (didn’t do that when this started but the wear has affected it) and they monitor me via EKG and chest sensors as routine – when I alarm they run in and make me take deep breaths and such. I have had adrenaline shots because it was low enough to freak them out, but now they just realize it is “normal” for me.  My electrolytes are constantly low, all my blood panels are off including low iron, potassium and lipids. My veins collapse easily from all the anti-nausea drugs and potassium run through each time and so I have an average of a dozen sticks per visit. Someday I might have to have a PIC line. The vomiting is hell on my teeth, stomach and throat. I have had my appendix removed because the episodes would cause an attack even though there was nothing wrong with the appendix itself. I often don’t have the energy to deal with life or spend with my kids during these attacks and my step-kids didn’t give a shit or try to understand which only made them more frequent and stressful. My kids have learned to ask every day if I feel well and it kills me. They watch what I eat and worry all the time and they shouldn’t have to live like that.

But I am not my illness. I refuse to be defined by it. I have begun new techniques in my life for stress management, I have let go of the demand for control and found the more I relax about it, the less I fear. The less I fear and worry about it, the less I have an attack. I am currently four and a half months incident free. I do have a new specialist in Nashville at Vanderbilt who had been a Godsend. The new meds are helping and the new stress management has prevented at least 3 attacks before they barely got started. I am being wiser with my diet, and not wasting time “hoping” I won’t get sick but taking my meds at the first sign.

I have had 2 miscarriages while fighting these health issues. Now that they are handled, I’d like to start talking about trying again. We know the risk, we know the worry about my health in the after time but we are betting on the fact that I have always had UBER healthy pregnancies (anemia/dehydration issues with my daughter aside) as well as the fact that we know the triggers and how to stop it. Every day we learn more about it, the closer we are to solving it for good.  Knowledge truly is power.

I share this my friends to point out that everyone is fighting some great battle. We may not talk about it much, mostly because it already takes up so much of our time and lives. Sometimes the bitchy exterior is to hide the pain. Don’t give up on others or yourself just because it got complicated. Be gentle with yourselves and with others.

 

chronic

Sometimes I am CVS

Until we meet again, stay safe and be blessed