Saturday, September 29, 2012

Say What?

Because this is my journal, allow me yet another mommy proud post. This past few days have been hilarious!
Ana Jain:  We were having lunch the other day when she told me that sad juice tasted yucky. I had no idea what that was. I was trying to figure out what juice I had given her that she didn't like. I asked a few questions and she said, "you know, when you're sad, juice comes out of your eyes and sometimes gets in your mouth."
Tommy:  Yesterday I got a call from Tommy's school. Being a slow walker I missed the call and they called Robert who in turn called me. The school principal had called to tell us that Tommy had been kissing kids on the arm. Robert and I talked to him last night and I really do agree with the school that this is not okay behavior for many different reasons.  But I'm really glad that Robert got the call. I am afraid I would have burst out laughing! He is a 6 year old boy who was acting like a 6 year old boy. I'm just glad it didn't involve spitting...or worse!
Aleq: This isn't so funny. Yesterday the kids and I had to go to Walgreen's for medicine. On the way home, Aleq said that he was glad I was his mom because it is so hard to take care of me that the rest of his life will seem easy. I think he truly meant this as a compliment. I didn't answer. I couldn't because I was too emotional. This stung. My worst fear is that I am being a burden to others, especially my children. In my head I understand about all the wonderful blessings and lessons we are all learning, but my heart hurts at times. I wish with all my power that my kids had a "normal" mom but the fact is they don't. I know that nothing I do will change that. I just have to work with all my strength to be the best mom I can, and leave the rest to my Heavenly Father. I know that all my kids will be blessed for the sacrifices we are making and I hope that one day they will be able to see that. I hope I will.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Favorite Store

I get a pass on surgery #19! That is both a good and bad thing. Good because surgery. Bad because Robert promised me that after 20 surgeries, we could go on a fun trip. Actually he said he would much rather have me have no more surgeries and we go on a fun trip anyway.  I like that option better, too.
My nerve graft has had some time to work, letting the muscles around my eye receive signals from my brain and grow stronger. I have wondered for a while if the gold weight was necessary and Dr. Patel agrees. The weight was working it's way out anyway so he just had me come in to the office and pulled it out. Now we will just wait and see how my eye is working. So far so good but the dry air and winds of winter are coming so we will see.
After he had pulled the weight out, his assistant came in. She was disappointed that she had missed the 2 minute procedure and said she could have at least held my hand. He just looked at me and said, "She is a bit like the waiter who comes over to check on you after you are finished eating and you just don't have the heart to tell him it was ghastly!"
I really  like Dr. Patel. He has a wonderful reputation and people come from all over to see him but you would never guess by talking to him. He makes me feel that I am his only patient and has been known to walk out to the waiting room to meet and chat with my friends or family members. He was recommended to me by the nurses at the U and I feel very lucky.
As for my health after my last surgery, I am doing OK. Not great. I have an infection, most likely from the catheter, and that is sapping my energy. But hopefully that will be done soon.
I just needed to get out today so Jain and I took a trip to Hobby Lobby. We walked around, put things in our cart and then took them out again, made wish lists for Christmas ornaments, and ended up with some pumpkin "costumes." Upon leaving, Jain told me that she loved that store and it was her new favorite. Oh no. She is 4 and has a favorite store? What have I done to that girl?  Don't tell Robert.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I was asked to go yesterday, to the Utah Heart & Stroke Run/Walk. It is put on by the American Heart Association and it is unreal.  There are thousands of people there with a common goal of saving lives.  There were families running for a loved one they had lost, teams walking for children who suffer, some who have been effected in some form or another, survivors, volunteers, and just all around good hearted people. It was astounding to see the stream of red that was people walking and although I didn't have my camera with me at that crucial moment, just imagine a sea of red as far as you can see, including children on bikes, strollers, parents, teenagers, people with walkers, people in wheelchairs, groups of siblings, and stoic solo walker. It was very solemn and very joyful at the same time.
There were tents/booths set up all over offering things such as taking blood pressure, or support for teaching CPR in High Schools. And there were T shirts galore! Some had pictures on them, some had signs of stroke, some had big hearts, but my favorite was a group wearing shirts that read "Clot Busters".
All this was to help raise money for many things such as education. I really wonder where I would be if I had known more, the EMT's would have known more, the ER Doc would have known what was happening, or the Hospitalist or the people in the ICU would have had more education. Instead, even though I called 911 in time, I just sat for 10ish hours in the hospital, deteiorating with no meds or tests. It is obvious to me that this cause is urgent.
At first it was just my cousin and I who were going, but then my sister heard about it and my 3 brothers, my sister and I stayed in a hotel the night before, met up with my cousin, Emily, there and made it a really fun time just being together. I was so touched that they would all leave their families and spend their time doing nothing but making me happy. I loved it.
Usually when I am in big crowds I feel self conscious. I get stares, questions (not at all unwelcome), and looks of pity. But there I got hugs, laughter and groans about ailments from other survivors, respect, and the stares I got were full of understanding and encouragement. I loved being in that environment!
We will for sure be there next year and are already planning our T-shirt designs!!

Josh, Jed, Me, Matt, and Wendy and some of our swag.

At the tribute tent.

Emily and me. Hot!

Yep, had all the symptoms. If only...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Yesterday was my dads birthday. He would have been 70. I wonder if my Grandma made a big carrot cake for him and they played catch to celebrate.
My mom sent out an email yesterday morning and some of us added to it, making a list of things we love and remember. It mostly made me laugh, some things were more tender but they all made me miss him more.
Deer hunting with his dad and brothers and later his sons, sitting around on Sunday and laughing and talking with his family, eating fried chicken. a good hamburger (especially at Longhorn Cafe in San Antonio) lazagne, apple pie, pumpkin cake, his ugly black and red checkered shirt he wore when we were dating, keeping his pants up with his palms, playing baseball/soft ball/ football/soccer/golf/basketball with his kids or grandkids, going to all your different sports activities, as well as those of his grandchildren, going to all of your individual concerts/plays/assemblies/awards banquets/anything that honored any one of you, watching sports on t.v. especially with his kids, watching The Simpsons with you, watching or going to the movies or anything with you, watching Craig and Jodi's solos, writing Wendy's papers, going anywhere with G & G Burton, shooting his guns, taking you to Sun Valley, working in the yard (just kidding) going to movies, out to eat with me and rubbing my feet (at least I thought he loved it), his job with the Air Force, especially in Warner Robins, Ga, just the two of us living in Maryland-we missed you but it was such a great time for us, being near Craig and April in Maryland, long walks with Matt when he was in Jr. High, being in Park City anytime with you, having Matt/Jodi/Josh/Wendy and Kevin/ Jed and Lisa boomerang to live with us again.

Going out for breakfast, playing sports in the yard, singing "My Boyfriends Back",  "Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress", calling me at work, cinnamon rolls, buying treats, going on walks/breaking in to houses being built, watching the Olympics, staying up late and watching shows Mom couldn't know about, walking to Leons Market during Sacrament Meeting to get a Coke, Huntsville Park, telling about every detail of your life and him listening like it was the most interesting thing in the world.

BELCHING is seriously my all time favorite memory, singing :Oh Your Red Scarf Matches Your Eyes", his snickering hee hee laugh as his neck would retract into his chest and he had that boyish grin like, "I just got caught."

First person to ever let me drive a car. Not to mention it was the most expensive car anyone had, Zingers in his robe pocket. He hated the coconut kind but still ate them with us if we promised not to tell Grandma he had them, singing the highly inappropriate song, "Two Trailer Park Girls Go Round the Outside"-to this day I blare it when it comes on, treats whenever we NEEDED them, that included secret treats like eggnog that you didn't have to share, hitting a bucket of balls-even in  the snow, wrecking on the scooter in Sun Valley, late night t.v. sessions and always reminding me that we could only watch The Simpsons if I told him when Grandma was coming so we could change the channel to Disney, biggest bear hugs, we were all his "favorites" and he made each of us grandkids believe it, the pure example of love and family, sickest toe nails ever and he was so proud of them, always with us and never will we forget. Love you, Grandpa!!!!

The way he treated April, Yankee games in Balyimore and Tampa, eat as much as you want on vacations, touching the dashboard in the car when people apparently couldn't see it, pulling on the reigns in the car to stop, "How do you hide an elephant in a strawberry patch?", singing Happy Birthday off key.

He was magic and could make the moon disappear, "jogging" in Texas that was really walking and talking, throwing coasters in Chilis and then look all innocent, "People are no damn good", he popped my first zit by the polar bear pond (really cold pool) in Sun Valley.

Talking to Coach Nelson when my confidence was gone, singing "Today Is Your Birthday" Beatles style, pork chops Pepsi, scallop potatoes, softball game fights, walk and talk, alway take care of mom first, eating out always makes you feel better, his kids were always the best at everything (even when we weren't, bringing a gun to work, Corpus Delicti=Corpus Christsti, barnicles, slipping jalapenos into hot dogs, Shanae hitting him and leaving a bruise, safety, best laugh ever, "Money for Nothin" . Jive Bunny and the Master Mixers

We miss you and love you, Dad, and can't wait to see you again!!

We didn't even ask, Aleq just gave him kisses out of the blue.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Last Tuesday, Jain and I were playing and accidentally bumped heads. It didn't hurt either of us and in fact we laughed, said bonk!, and went right on playing.
But later as I was washing my face, I found this.

Notice the gold coloring? That is the gold weight showing through. Yummy. But seriously, how do I not set off metal detectors? I thought it would just heal up on it's own. But this is from last night. 

Healing yes, but the weight is more visible now. So I sent these pics to my Doc and he confirmed it. Surgery # 19 to replace the gold weight. He said that while it was not an emergency, this week or next would be good. I'm still recovering from # 18! Luckily this procedure is done at an out-patient surgical center and although not fun, relatively minor.
Robert is dreading the bruising again because people think he did it to me and give him strange looks. I have very little sympathy as I am the one with the bruises!!
I'm so lucky.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


This is something I remebered this morning and It's one of the many sweet things I want to remember always.
When I came home, Jain was only around 20 months old, still small enough to require an afternoon nap. As we get older we may not require them but instead we want crave them. She still didn't know enough to want one. So every day when I told her it was nap time she would start to cry.
Now,  knowing that carrying her was impossible, this could have been a bit of a problem. But again, we were blessed and my darling little girl would start to cry, walk to her room, stand by her crib and wait for me to catch up, and then hold out her arms for me to awkwardly lift her into her crib, still crying the whole time.
Usually by the time we had "sung" (my vocal chords are jacked up) and did kisses and loves her crying had stopped.
My little girl has such a sweet spirit and when that was combined with the Holy Ghost, it provided the perfect solution for us.

Friday, September 14, 2012


This past week I have once again been on the receiving end of service. I don't know why but I am still unused to this. This time I have justified it by telling myself it's mostly for Robert. That's a lie because he wouldn't mind frozen pizza every night and as long as he doesn't catch diseases, the house is clean enough. But he knows having a clean house calms me and he knows it won't do to have pizza every night. I mean, you have to add in some McDonalds to keep it healthy, right? So he has been cooking, cleaning, running errands, and even massaging my feet. He already does much more than most men but this past week I think he is better than Superman. And besides all the things involved in keeping our household above water, he always manages to make me laugh when pain meds make me angry, tickle my back to divert my attention from the pain, and hold me close when I need some extra love. After all, as he says often, there's always time for 30 seconds of love.
My kids have been unreal, too. Holding my hand when I walk (whether I need it or not), cleaning up more, and just helping anywhere they are able. Two nights ago Jain wanted to do her "homework" just like her big brothers. Without skipping a beat, Aleq sat down at the table with her and read with her for ten minutes. When they see me doing something that they don't like, such as getting a glass out of the cabinet or something just as dangerous, I have been told that I am at a 1 and if they get to 3,  I will go to time out.
Friends, family, and ward members have taken care of us all. My sister, Wendy, not only came to a 9:00 a.m. game, but took Jain home with her to let me get some rest. I have received calls and support from far away family, even Chick Fil A from my cousin, Amy.  Roberts parents have gone to games, given rides, babysat, and made meals. The whole Stallings family, especially Karen, has been heaven sent, driving my kids to school every day and keeping them after, driving me to my follow up Dr. appointment, making sure my mental health is being looked after,  taking late night medical calls, and generally filling in all the gaps. And this ward is wonderful!  I have had visits, meals, and my visiting teachers, Carly and Laura, and Carly's son, spent nearly 3 hours cleaning my whole house yesterday and then brought me in a fabulous dinner. Then between cleaning and dinner, Carly took Jain home to play with her daughter and Laura got us lunch and we got to chat while we ate. And my mom was freaking out about being so far away so people in her office fasted with her and then went to the temple with her.
I am still uncomforatable accepting charity but the people around me act as if it is the easiest thing in the world to help me. They are the kind of people who seem to love allowing The Lord to put them to work.  I never get the feeling of sacrifice or "I don't want to" although I know it is not easy for them or their families.
These people and sooo many others may never know how much I love them for helping, not just me, but my family. While accepting help is no picnic, I am so thankful that there are such sweet people in this world.They are truly Heavens messengers. I want to be just like them when  grow up!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How he started

I seriously doubt that I am the first girl skip ever got to. I have heard from the police (off the record) and other reliable sources that he started long before me with other girls. By the time I entered his perfect striking age, he was well practiced and knew exactly how to lure me into his web.
For as long as I could remember, I was a little afraid/intimidated by him. I often just avoided him. He was rough or even (in my opinion) mean to his children and seemed pious and unapproachable at church. I remember once when his kids were helping to bring in the groceries from the garage, his young son was carrying a huge bottle of apple juice and it slipped out of his hands and shattered. The son was covered in juice and some of the glass had cut him. He was crying and scared and hurt. Before his mom, Barbara, could even start helping him, skip became irate and yelled at how clumsy and careless the boy was and how he had just wasted three dollars. This guy was a dentist with a beautiful home, fast cars, and every electronic toy you could think of and he was belittling his son over 3 dollars.
But to adults he was the poster boy for what a great man should be. He never shied away from displaying his knowledge in church, gave generously to charities, did free dental work for the needy, did kind but showy deeds for others around him, and did everything to gain the limelight and show how great he was. He seemed to love people being in awe of him.
I am told that this is classic behavior for abusers. Show the world your greatness and people will never suspect what you really are.
When I was 12, the nielsens planned a day trip to Midway, Utah and every child got to invite a friend. Even though all of the children invited friends from school, skip made sure that I was invited along too. That was the first day he even acknowledged me and seemed to go out of his way to be nice to me. This was strange but not bad. He was being a fun dad and we all seemed to eat it up. He later told me that he had noticed on that trip what a woman I had become. Um, I hadn't even started puberty yet.
After that trip he began what I see now as "courting" both my family and me. He helped financially to get my brother ready for his mission, he invited my parents to be a part of his scripture study group (they were reluctant to join, feeling that the group was a bit clique-ish) and even offered to have me clean instruments in his dental office to earn my own money for school clothes. As for me, he would seek me out to talk or pick his son and me up from school to go to lunch, and when I was over at their house, it seemed like every time I turned around, there he was, being nice. I see now, at 38, that he was flirting, but at 12, never having seen it before, it was just him finally being good to us and his kids and I all enjoyed it.
One night I was in the basement alone playing video games. As I pretty much lived at their house, playing video games alone was fairly common. I knew skip and Barbara were getting ready to leave so I was a tiny bit surprised to see skip coming down the stairs. he went into the back room and then came out, stood behind me and put his hands on my shoulders and turned me around. Then he kissed me. Just a quick but not very gentle kiss on the lips. Then, without saying a word, he ran up the stairs.
To say the least I was confused! Men didn't kiss little girls. Did they? It wasn't a kiss like on T.V. or anything, so maybe it wasn't a big deal??? It would probably never happen again, right? My 12 year old mind couldn't make sense of it and it just went in to survival mode. Denial. It wasn't what I thought, it wasn't a big deal and it wouldn't happen again.
So I went ahead with the planned sleep over that night. 3 or 4 (I can't remember who was all there) girls all sleeping on the pull out couch. We were little, about 14, 12, 10, and 8,  but it still must have been crowded.
Early the next morning, skip shook me awake and then sat me up on the side of the bed. He began kissing me again. This time it was slower and not quite as hard. He stopped and asked "Why don't your lips move?" Maybe it was because I was 12 and had no idea about kissing. he then said, "I will just have to teach you how."
I was frozen in place. I don't remember even giving a response. I just waited for it to be over. Looking back, his daughters must have known what was happening. They were all right there. But if you see your dad kissing your friend, it's probably best to keep your eyes closed.
I should have stopped it right there. I should have run home and told my parents. But I was a scared and confused little girl. skip wouldn't do something wrong, would he? he was in a leadership position in my church, a family friend, a pillar of the community. he must know something I don't. And who would believe me anyway? I was a little girl and he was a respected adult.
So I didn't tell that day. Or the next time it happened. Or the next. I didn't tell as it progressed and progressed. I didn't tell for the reasons I mentioned before and more and more. Each day I didn't tell I felt more ashamed that I was "letting" this happen. And skip would tell me often that he just couldn't keep control around me. he said the way my lips moved when I talked made him want to kiss me or the way I walked made him want to touch me. Was this my fault? Was I causing a great man to do these things?  I even told him once that I felt that what was happening was wrong. he just smiled and said that we had known each other before coming to earth and this was the way it was meant to be.
I found out years later that he was often unable to maintain an erection and I am soooo grateful for that. I am guessing he didn't want to humiliate himself in front of me so the abuse stopped just short of intercourse.
In my studying and my work with child abuse prevention, I have found that his behavior and mine was very typical. Sadly, this is not a unique story. At all. But I am in that small but growing group of survivors who will talk about it, shine a light into the dark corner, and maybe help one other person avoid it or stop what is already happening, and to realize that the best revenge really is living well!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Little Animal

Saturday was Ana Jain's first ever soccer game. Last Monday we took her to buy cleats and she was a total crack up! After putting on each pair she would ask Aleq what he thought. He is our resident soccer expert and she needed his opinion. Of course Aleq thought that was way cool and was happy to help!
On the big day we really had no idea how she would do. We were ready for crying, picking flowers, being intimidated or the like. Instead we got an animal! She was right on the ball every second she could squeeze through the group, and at one point she yelled, "Get out of my way!" to the girl in front of her. She scored all 3 goals of the game and after each one she would cheer, jump up and down, and run over and hug Robert.
I couldn't be there (surgery) but she had Papa & Nanni (Roberts parents) Robert, Aleq, Tommy, and her favorite guest, Wendy. She was one happy little girl!!
And it doesn't hurt that her uniform is bright pink.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Super Fun Surgery

I realize I have not posted in a few but I have a good reason. My Doc moved my hysterectomy up a  week to yesterday. So I was mad dash making arrangements for my critters, cleaning, packing, researching, praying, etc.
As I said earlier, I have felt really good about having this done. After initially praying I received such peace. I may have been running around like a crazy person, and had a lot of anxiety, but that was all for my family. I have really felt calm myself and I know that, once again, The Lord is near.
Once I had made all the arrangements and had my last big shopping trip for non healthy cold cereals for the kids, I was all set for the big day.
Thursday morning we went to Roberts parents and his dad helped give me blessing. Then we were off. Seriously sorry about ruining Robert's moms birthday.
At the hospital I got right in and while the nurses attempted to find a vein that didn't pop (after all of my previous poking and prodding my veins are no good) Robert distracted himself by playing on his touch pad. He has become quite good at distancing himself from all the blood. Dr. Swift came in then and mostly talked to Robert (finding a vein had become a lengthy process) about what was planned or the contingencies. He told Robert that it's not that he doesn't trust me, but, he doesn't. He says I'm full of surprises.
Before I knew it I was waking up in PAIN! I wasn't fully awake and I did what came naturally, I signed "pain" above my belly. They couldn't understand that!! So I had to actually talk. I still think that everybody should know basic signs just like most know at least a little Spanish. At the very least it would help me and we all know that's what really matters.  After 18 surgeries I have become quite an expert on what pain meds work for me and the Dr.'s and nurses often take my advice so I'm usually quite comfortable. The only problem is that my oxygen sats sometimes fall and I have to breath deeply to avoid the alarm going off. So it was no surprise when I heard it. No matter how deeply I was breathing, the alarm would not stop. So I opened my eyes to see what my sats were and was very relieved to see that it was the alarm for the next bed! I probably would have hyperventilated.
All around me nurses were giving report and the Docs were giving instructions and people were talking and I noticed 2 things. First, I was one of the healthiest people there. One lady was diabetic, a smoker, and had a pacemaker, and was 92. Second, I understood too much of what the medical staff was saying. I've spent waaay too much time in hospitals.
Aleq had his Psychiatry appointment and after waiting too long to get in to see this guy, we couldn't cancel, so after talking to Dr. Swift Robert left to get Aleq and my wonderful. sweet. kind, etc. friend, Karen, came to be with me. So when I got to my room she was waiting there. I don't know why but I just like having someone with me even if all I am doing is sleeping.
The nurse gave me Percocet and I settled in to rest. It soon became apparent that I had built up an  immunity to yet another med and the pain came back with a vengeance! Karen said I went as white as my sheet and I began crying from my good eye. She went out twice to hurry them along with another med. During this fun time my mom called from St. Louis. Karen answered and then gave the phone to me whispering that I should not cry while on the phone. No way! My poor mom is freaking out and hates that she is so far away from me right now. So I did my best acting and assured her that I was doing great and she didn't need to worry. I got through that call and right after that I got a wonderful new med and was one happy and comfortable woman.
All night pain management was an issue so sleep was a few minutes here and there. I felt strange constantly asking for more meds but I was hurting! When Dr. Swift came in this morning, my nurse came in with him and we all figured out a pain management plan that seems to be working still.
They released me around 11 and Robert has been treating me like a princess and everyone has taken care of everything from the kids to cooking, to emptying the dishwasher.
I'm tired and a little sore but feeling better than I anticipated. All the prayers, the Temple visits, and fasting have been wonderful and I am surrounded by friends and family by whom I feel totally loved and cared for. I am really blessed.

Robert got to the board. My discharge ride says, "Thumbing a ride on Harrison Blvd." Lucky for me my CNA was nicer and offered me bus fare. Nice.