Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas!



MERRY CHRISTMAS
Robert, Jodi, Aleq (11) Tommy (8) And Jain (6) Jain hates having pictures taken.
 

 
I was very lame again this year and never got around to sending out a Christmas card so this will have to do. I am also writing a bit about each member of the family and what they accomplished this year. Some people may not think this is proper and would prefer that I send cards. Me too. But next time they have a stroke, a family, shopping to get done, school parties, other Holiday prep, a Baptism, and are sick for the entire month of November, we can talk. Until then, be nice!
 
Robert:  He continues to be the best person I know and the most handsome guy I know in real life. The kids and I think he can do no wrong. He is only on his second job and third car so far. Just to be clear, they contacted him for this job, he wasn't looking. But still. He loves it there (Myriad Genetics) and I am pretty sure that when he gets together with the guys there, it is straight back to a Jr. High mentality, complete with stupid nicknames and reeeeaaaly stupid jokes. But by far his biggest honor of the year was being invited to an Inauguration Ball and meeting President Obama. Now THAT was awesome!!  
 
Jodi: I am loving being a stay at home mom. Of course, I have no choice in the matter, but I love it anyway. My progress has slowed dramatically but with some planning, help or modifications, I get to do nearly everything I want or need. Nearly. I even tried Yoga this year. It was comical. I quit. I have a wonderful family, a phenomenal ward, and unbelievable friends who make my life rich and full. I just started a new hobby, Karate, this year and have recently received my yellow belt. That may not seem very far but to me that's huge!
 
 
Aleq: After a terrible year last year, he is doing GREAT this year! His medication is really helping (for this moment) and he is absolutely loving school. I nearly burst into happy tears when I asked him how his day had been and he said, "Duh, it was great. You know, because of my teacher??" He is very social, outdoorsy (is that a word) athletic, and funny. But by far my favorite thing is how sweet he is. That boy has a heart as big as a Texas dream (I think that means big) and does not hesitate to use it. He got to meet Kyle Beckerman of RSL and thought that was even better than Christmas Gifts.
 
 
Tommy: He continues to be the most cuddly boy ever born. Every time I sit down, at the dinner table, to read, whatever, he somehow manages to end up on my lap, sometimes without my even realizing what happened. And its not just me, its Robert, Grandparents, friends, etc. He is absolutely a daddy's boy and refers to himself as Dada Jr. He is at that really fun in between stage where he can easily play pretend with his little sister, or be big and tough with Aleq and his friends and be able to fit right in either way. He can quote nearly every line of Phineas and Ferb or Adventure Time. He maintains a high skill/score on Angry Birds and his YouTube channel comment section is filled with questions about how to beat ____ level.
 
 
Ana Jain: She absolutely loves going to the "Big School." She tries to spell and read everything she sees and is getting quite good. We love our mornings together but she hates it when I fall asleep if she watches movies. She already loves shopping, chocolate, pedicures (thanks grandma), and is very particular about her clothes and hair. Her teacher describes her as spunky. That's a nice way of putting it. She has mad skills on the soccer field. But behind all that, she is a LITTLE girl who draws pictures for her family, loves to sleep in Mommy's bed, loves tickles, stories, and lots of hugs. We all adore her. While shopping with aunt Wendy, she was approached by a woman who subsequently had her appear in a GAP commercial. It was very small and just a short glimpse but something she will laugh about when she is a grown up.
 
 
We wish you all a very Merry Christmas. I pray that during this time of year, we never lose sight of the reason we celebrate. Christ was born and chose to be our Savior. 
 
 
***Some of the accomplishments of our family written about above, MAY or MAY NOT be totally true. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

My boy!!


I am finally starting to feel better. Thank goodness! I'm better just in time to enjoy the beautiful, balmy weather here in Utah. My thermometer says it is 6 degrees. It warmed up. Thank goodness for hot chocolate.
This past week and a half has been filled with joy.
It started out with Thanksgiving dinner at my moms house. I love being with most of my family. The shape and size of the group keeps changing and at times I feel like I can't keep track of everybody but the feeling remains the same. Warm. It has nothing to do with temperature but instead means the same food, the same stupid jokes, and since my stroke happened right around now, I am so thankful to be with some of the people I love.
On Saturday, we were lucky enough to have the Carlson fam over for another Thanksgiving. I was so blessed to have in-laws who I actually enjoy hanging out with. I sure love them.
On Wednesday, the Laurels (16, 17 yrs,) came over to decorate my Christmas Tree. I love where I live. My hands and lack of balance makes doing it myself next to impossible. They are truly kind. And they did a great job, huh?
Thank you, girls!
 

She actually wanted her picture taken. It's a Christmas miracle!


And lastly, but most importantly, Tommy chose to be Baptized! He was the one on that day so he felt so special. He knew everybody was there just for him. He said it was the best day ever. Seeing Robert baptize him and then confirm him a member of the church brought tears to my...eye. I am so blessed to have a son make such a great choice and to have a husband who has the power and authority to perform such ordinances for him. For the lunch after he asked for Subway. So instead of cooking or worrying about food, we all got to actually enjoy having everybody over.
And, predictabally, he was yanking off his suit in the mud room. Heaven forbid he should be out of pajamas for any longer than necessary.
 


That night Jain was baptizing her doll. That was a bit odd but totally funny.
And, of course, Christmas is almost here! I love Christmas! While I was sick, I got all my shopping done. Robert said this was by far my most expensive case of Pneumonia ever. And thanks to my numerous visits to the doctor, the Stallings can also thank me for their Christmas. I'm so generous.
And now I must be off to get in a blanket and sit by the fire. It has warmed up since I started writing. It's clear up to 8 degrees. Toasty.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thankful for my Anniversary

The Triptofan in the turkey should make posting tomorrow nearly impossible, so I am doing this a bit early.

Because Friday is the anniversary of my stroke, it seems fitting that tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I have so much for which to be thankful.

First, I am thankful to know that I am a child of God.  Looking back over my life, He has always been with me but during the years since my stroke, I have needed Him like never before and been very vulnerable. Perhaps that has made me more receptive. He has been here all along but I have been more open for Him to pour out His blessings. I feel closer to Him than ever before and I can honestly say that I am thankful for the opportunity to let Him in.

Second, I am thankful for my Robert and my 3 wonderful children. Words are inadequate to describe how happy I am to be with them. Nothing in my life is more important. They are the reason I fought so hard to live. I am thankful to know that I get to be with them forever. But I am so happy to be with them here and now.

Third, I am grateful for my extended family. Parenting my babies, parenting me, keeping Robert sane, visits, etc. I still get tears in my eye when I think of the love they show. Shanae even did my toe nails for months. That takes true love.

I am also very thankful for others with big hearts. From the doctors taking a bit longer and coming up with a way to save my life to the guy who held the door for me today and every kind act in between.

"There is no small act of kindness." Marjorie Pay Hinckley

It has been 6 years. SIX! I can't lie, this life is hard. And costly (my broken phone for example). You know that feeling you get when it starts to get dark on Sunday night and you know you have to go back to work or school in the morning? I get that feeling every time I have to walk across the house or even go the bathroom at night.

But I can never deny the miracles I have seen. I am grateful that I can walk across the house. Right now I am making a pumpkin trifle for dinner tomorrow. This is the girl who could not move or even breathe without help. Every second of every day is a blessing to me. I truly am thankful. And very happy.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tommy, Eye, Phone

The last few days have been funny and not so funny.
First, a little update on how I have been feeling.  Oh yeah, I don't use those words. Luckily Scott (my doc) and Karen know the magic cures for illnesses. His never taste as yummy but they both have helped me heal.  Actually, I am finally starting to feel alive again, and although I tire even easier than normal, I can even leave the house for short times.
So Robert has been doing everything and doing a great job of it. But it was Tommy's "Star Student Week" and we only did the minimum. That was not okay with Tommy. He told us that he wanted to bring a poster and have Dada come and "prescribe" (describe?) the pictures on the poster. So I emailed his teacher and got the week changed. A narrowly avoided tragedy.
Yesterday I was holding my phone while walking through the kitchen. I was not holding or doing anything else but my hands are shaky and weak since the stroke and my phone just fell. The screen shattered. Unusable shattered. $250.00 to fix shattered. Great, I can just take that from the piles of money I have just lying around. Oh, I don't have those. Merry Christmas to me. And Happy Valentines, Anniversary...
I went to the eye doctor yesterday. I really like Doctor Patel. He asked Jain to spell her name and was very pleased that it was an Indian spelling. So after that, the two of them were good pals and she even got him to give her the good candy. Anyway, I got my tear duct plugged. He explained that the duct acts as a drain like a sink and keeps normal eyes from constantly weeping. My eye barely produces any tears so plugging it may help it from feeling so dry all the time. Keep your fingers crossed. During the quick procedure, he told me a couple of times about stinging or pressure I may feel. Um, I don't feel anything.
After, we had to go to Sam's Club. It was sample day so Tommy asked if he could get some "examples." How could I say no to that?
After all that, I fell asleep last night and didn't even stir until Aleq ran in to my room AFTER church. That makes 3 weeks in a row that I have missed because I have been sick. Cough Syrup with Codeine (I cough all night without it) may have had something to do with today. I am feeling it. Going to church is like filling a car with gas. I need the spiritual nourishment I get there. I always feel stronger and happier after going. I love learning and thinking of Christ. I miss it. I'll start resting up and preparing for next week. I'll start setting my alarm earlier and earlier. have "getting ready" drills, doing extra push ups, cutting out soda etc. I am in training.
But I'll start training tomorrow, I need a nap.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Angels

This post will be short because I am sick. Really sick. I have Pneumonia once again. My doc says my chest x-ray looks no better than a month ago so I am on a tougher antibiotic. Most of the time when I have this I bounce back after a few days but that has not been the case this time. I have been in bed for this whole past week. I even turned down shopping with Karen! Her husband said he knew it was bad when he heard that.
But WOW!
My mom was able to spend 3 days at my house driving me to the doctors office, cleaning, cooking, taking kids places, doing Jain's hair, etc. When I finally ventured out of my bed, I found snacks for the kids, laundry soap, and even tapioca pudding made just for me.
Roberts parents came here both Thursday and Friday and made my kids lunch and cleaned and let me just sleep.
Karen has brought me dinner, brought me dessert, made me dessert, checked on me every day, driven my boys to school and was the secretary who passed along messages to her husband and would then give me his medical advice.
My visiting Teachers have been unreal, yet again. Texts, calls, meals, prayers...
My kids are truly a blessing. I have been sternly told by my 6 year old that I was not to get up, they have brought water and juice to me, have sweetly snuggled and watched T.V. with me (Phineas and Ferb is quite funny) and have generally taken care of me. Aleq even decides when I have had enough and takes the others downstairs.
And of course, Robert. He makes me so happy. He does so much and never complains. I think it is much harder on him than he admits. He puts up with my coughing all night, gets the kids off to school, arranges sitters or help for me every morning before work, then comes home and does the job of two people every night. And every night we lie in bed and quote MASH lines or he tells me stupid things they said or did at work (I'm pretty sure it's like a college dorm there complete with juvenile pranks) and he never stops amazing me. He is totally exhausted but still manages to have the energy to make me laugh. How could I ever really deserve him?
I am reminded once again that although I am just one person, God loves me and my family and works through others to bring us peace. Not always quiet, but peace.


Oh, I believe there are angels among us
Sent down to us from somewhere up above
They come to you and me in our darkest hours
To show us how to live, to teach us how to give
To guide us with the light of love
                                           Alabama

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Tommy

Yet another birthday has passed. I'm just saying that Robert will not be allowed to even look at me in February.  Anyway, it was Tommy's 8th birthday on Friday but we had his party on Thursday. He got an actual "friends" party this year as it is his special birthday. He was super excited about his party but starting Cub Scouts and getting baptized are even more exciting for him.
Also, an advertisement for Classic Fun Center--no set up or clean up for me. Just walk in and walk out and Tommy had the time of his life!!
Laser Tag was a hit

Blowing out the candle on his Angry Birds cake

 
Anyway, as with the others, I want to write down a few memories surrounding his birth.
We were building our house so we had temporarily moved into a lovely little apartment. It was cheap, month to month, and McDonalds and KFC were literally in our back yard. There was no dishwasher, the front window moved with the wind, and no matter how much I scrubbed, Aleq's socks were turned brown by the linoleum. We had a screaming mom next door, gang members below them and LDS Missionaries below us. Super nice place.
We thought the timing was right to have another baby and, once again, BAM! First month. Now, as I have stated before, my pregnancies are no fun. I was really sick again. I spent a great deal of time in the bathroom.
Luckily, CARPET had just been installed in the bathroom. Seriously? Carpet in the bathroom?! But it was much more comfortable to lie on. The sink, toilet and tub were very pink and the counter was pink tile. I could always smell frying chicken from KFC and I learned to be very comfy in that pink bathroom. Thankfully, I knew which meds to take so the violent sickness only lasted a few weeks.
It was a much easier pregnancy than my first, mostly because I knew what to expect and how to manage or prevent discomfort.
I was induced so it was a very calm morning and afternoon. I had the epidural which stayed in place, and had only mild discomfort. Around 8 hours after I was started, Tommy was born. Seriously, that is the way to have babies! I didn't even break a sweat.
He had a HUGE head. I think it had it's own gravitational pull. Both my dad and Robert's dads have big heads so he stood no chance. I always tell him that he needs a big head because his brain is so big. He likes that. But sadly, he is growing into it. It is still big but more proportionate.
I have a funny memory of him just after the stroke. He was barely two and had my sister had given him bright orange sweats and bright yellow rain boots. My brother had given him a little leather pilots jacket. They were all given at separate times and in no way meant to be worn together. But he put them on together and never wanted to take them off. The sweats had to be washed at night.
My first room was at the end of a very long hall that he would strut down like he owned the place. As he walked by, every head would turn and huge grins would erupt. He had every nurse and Therapist wrapped around his finger.
My sweet boy.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Critters!


***WARNING*** This post may contain TMI.

Seriously, two birthdays in two days is fun overload. I PROMISE if I see another piece of cake in my lifetime it will be too soon. Oh yeah, we have another birthday party on Thursday. Yep, all 3 kids in one week. Not planned.
Since I am too tired to think, I thought I would write down some of the events surrounding Aleq's and Jain's births.
Aleq:
My sister had struggled for years with infertility before becoming pregnant through IVF, and I had the same condition she did so Robert and I were gearing up for the whole process. But the first month of trying, BAM!
I had gone with Robert to San Francisco where he had a class. When we met for lunch I brought him a pink and a blue flower. He had no idea what that meant so I had to explain it to him.
I got hit on while I was walking to meet him. The guy said something lame about wanting to leave his heart in San Francisco. Sooo not the time to hit on me!
Then, I got really sick. Being sick in a hotel is even less fun than being sick at home. And airports are even less fun than that! At security the lady asked if I were okay. No, I'm always this pale/green. Can I lie down while you scan me? Robert left me alone while he went to get food. He came back with a Chili dog with onions. I ran for the restroom.
At home it only got worse. I had a little bed in the bathroom and lived on Sprite and saltines. Robert would poke his head in before leaving for work and again when he came back. Thankfully I had a wonderful, understanding boss who let me work from home on a laptop in my bathroom.
Finally it was time to see my doc. I never made it to the exam room. He saw me in the hall and casually asked which hospital I preferred.
So began a really fun (awful) pregnancy of I.V. treatments, pills, fighting with the insurance company, etc. I was healthy other than being sick for the full pregnancy.
On Halloween of that year I dressed as Mr. Potato head and Robert shaved the middle of his head and attached long hair to one side and made a comb over. We went to a party where my hugely swollen feet were a hit. My cousin had a great time pushing on them and seeing the dents left by her fingers. My BP was still really low but my doc was paying attention to make sure all was good.
When we went home I was ready to sleep but Robert insisted on shaving the rest of his head. Good thing because-
I woke up really early the next morning and knew for sure. We called my parents and my dad came over to help with a Priesthood Blessing. Then we were off for the hospital.
We waited and waited for the little guy to make his entrance. My epidural came out twice and my doc was not at all happy that I was hurting when I didn't want to.
Robert liked the name SEVEN. Really. So I made him a deal that if the baby were born right at 7, that could be his name. Not 6:59 or 7:01.
He was "sunny side up" and they used the vacuum and forceps to get him turned and out. He was born at 6:59. Whew!
His weight at birth was 7lbs 8oz. The next morning it was over 8lbs. Babies don't gain weight like that so his pediatrician thinks he was really 8lbs 7oz at birth. He was 3 weeks early, imagine his size if I had gone full term. Ouch!

Jain:
My pregnancies are really hard. Not really dangerous (thank you anti-nausea pills) but I'm not really a good mom or wife for a few months. Robert and I had been talking about a baby but one Sunday I told him that I just did not feel ready yet  and maybe we could wait a few months. We both strongly felt that there was a little girl waiting so it wasn't a question of IF only WHEN.
The very next morning I got a strange pimple. I had the fleeting thought of what if? But no. We were using two forms of...um...safety.
Later that day I was in the dollar store and saw a pregnancy test. $1. So I bought it and went home and took it. It was light but positive. I called my friend, Karen who was grocery shopping and she offered to pick up a real test for me. Her poor daughter was sure people there thought it was for her.
When Karen got to my house I showed her my dollar store test and she just laughed because it wasn't really light and definitely positive. So was the one she brought.
Honestly, I could not stop smiling. Sure, I was surprised but sooo happy! I was too excited to even think so I just called Robert at work to tell him. He was happy too.
A few months later...
We had finished celebrating Aleq's 5th birthday, his party was on the 3rd, and I would be induced on the 6th and I would be home in time to celebrate Tommy's birthday on the 8th. Perfectly timed, right? Wrong.
I woke up early and in pain on the 2nd. I showered, woke Robert and called my mom to come stay with the boys. She said she had been expecting my call that morning. Spooky.
I remember sitting at a high school crossing on the way to the hospital and thinking they were walking so slowly and couldn't they just hurry? Don't they somehow know I'm in pain here?
Ana Jain was born within 30 minutes of arriving at the hospital. Robert had to get the insurance card out of the car and no one thought I was that close to delivery so he went out to get it and nearly missed all the fun. I got the epidural as I was pushing. Yeah, too late. My doc says that anything I may have yelled, does not count because I was in labor.
She was tiny, only 5lbs. 3 oz. She was 4lbs. 13 oz. when we took her home. Full term, just little. She still is.

Only 6 more days and it's Tommy's turn.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Living the Dream

I really don't mean to complain so stick with me until the end. It gets better.
A couple of weeks ago I got a cold. It would NOT go away and the accompanying cough kept getting worse and I felt miserable. Thanks to a weak swallow and cough, I have had Pneumonia so many times that I know how it feels. I texted my doctor who agreed that, with my history, I needed to come in for a chest x-ray. Sure enough. So I went on medication and within a few days I started feeling better.
Ever since the stroke, it has been impossible for me to sleep deeply. I'm not totally sure of the medical reasons why but I require medication to get the sleep I need at night, and on occasion, even that doesn't cut it. So last Friday I was up until 3 a.m., Saturday it was 7, Sunday it was 7, Monday it was 5 and Tuesday was 2. I talked to my doctor (when he was delivering the still warm brownies his wife had made-bless them both) researched my pills, changed what and when I ate, etc. But, as sometimes happens, I just could NOT find sleep.
Then yesterday Jain got sick. Really sick. She was throwing up ever 15-20 minutes for 9 hours straight. Her eyes and cheeks were sunken and she didn't want stories or T.V. or anything. All I did all day was lay by her, tickle her back and arms, and try to get her to sip Gatorade. Finally, she started feeling better but even today she has dark circles under her eyes and just wants to rest.
By last night I was a mess. I had not put on makeup or worn anything but sweats in daayys. It felt like the last two weeks were a big blur and -gasp-I am totally sick of my bed!!
Right before bed last night, Robert and I felt that because Jain had spent most of the day in our bed, the sheets should be changed. As I was pulling the old sheet off, I lost my grip and tumbled backwards. I would have fallen if I hadn't hit the wall instead. I immediately burst into tears.
Robert stopped what he was doing to come over and hug me. I just cried to him that I felt totally useless. I couldn't even change the sheets. I had not made dinner in too long and if not for him and my mom, the house would fall down around us. I told him that I just didn't know what I would do without him. I love him with all of my heart and he takes such good care of me.
He has told me over and over that it is all worth it just to have me here. He hugged me and told me that again. He also told me that I do more than I realize and that I am a good momma and wife. He's a good liar.
Then tonight Jain was chatting with me and said, "I hated being sick. I threw up more than anybody ever has. But you know what I did like? You took careva (care of) me. You didn't go to work or the store or the kitchen. You stayed by me. Little girls need their mom's when they are sick."
I need to be taught over and over and over. The dishes will still be there, my hair is healthier when I don't blow dry, Spaghettios and apples are a perfectly acceptable dinner, all 3 kids in my bed watching a movie is better than a vacuumed rug, and Robert and I turning off the lights and chatting and laughing for an hour before sleeping is worth having baskets and baskets of clean, unfolded laundry.
I have a great life. I just forget sometimes.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Sorry, Scotty

When I first moved in to the house in South Ogden, next door to skip and his family, I had no need to really address him. he was just the dad of my friends. I was even a little frightened by him and mostly just stayed out of his way.  As I have said before, before the abuse came the "courting" of both my family and me. he started talking to me and actually being nice to me. Very nice. I needed to call him something besides D or T's dad. he was an adult so calling him by his first name seemed odd. Because he was a grown up, very intimidating, and I felt very inferior, I started calling him sir. he seemed to like it so I figured it was acceptable.
I called him sir for the whole time he courted and abused me. I realize now how much he must have relished the term and how very much it tells about my feelings of the trust and influence he had over me.
When I began working at his dental office, I was told by his daughter, T, that we were to call him dr. nielsen. It was not a suggestion or a request. It was a demand.
When I would see him at church, most often on the stand with the Bishop, I was to call him brother nielsen. Strange that he would do whatever he wanted to me the day before but act righteous at church and feign deserving of the title, brother.
It was not that he ever earned my actual respect, he just liked to hear himself referred to in those terms.
Also, he absolutely despised being called mister nielsen. I guess Mr. was too generic?
On a side note, I once referred to him as skip in front of others. he said that my saying that had really turned him on and he liked it. I never said it again.
From that time on, I have had a very difficult time with terms of respect. First, my respect is not given just because of a position or calling. One has to show through both word and action that they should receive it. Second, just saying the words sir, doctor, or brother, gives me to chills. I hate them.
But I know that these terms can and should be used.
My brother is a Lt. Col. in the USAF and he has gone to school and worked very hard for many, many years at prosecuting criminals. He deserves respect. He deserves to be called sir.
The many doctors with whom I work have become experts in what they do and on numerous occasions have used their position and knowledge to better or even save my life. You bet I respect them and calling them Dr. is something they have earned.
A few months ago I took my daughter with me to one of my numerous appointments. This one happened to be with our very good friend, Dr. Scott Stallings. When we walked into the office, busy with patients and medical personnel, my daughter spotted Scott and yelled, "Scotty!" across the whole room. Everyone started to laugh and his face went bright red as he laughed and yelled "Jain!" right back to her.
Although it was a comical moment, I realized that I was passing down my "lack of respect" to my children. They should understand that at times it may be appropriate to show a little respect, at least verbally. I will try to work on that with them.
But as for "Scotty" honestly, can they be expected to respect a person who owns a blue wig and may or may not wear it to BYU games?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Aleq Update

As I wrote before, Aleq had a really rough year in 4th grade. He has had difficult years previously but wonderful, caring help always seemed to be everywhere for him and although he didn't love school, he did well academically and socially.
Last year was different. There were a few different reasons but the result was that he was forever getting in trouble, often felt singled out for punishment, only had average grades and dreaded going to school. I will never forget waking him up for school and even before he was totally awake he said. "I don't want to go to school." I still get teary thinking about that.
Medically he was messed up, too. We tried countless meds and that meant new side effects, switches and shocks to his system, withdrawal symptoms and many nights when his body would just not slow down enough for sleep until the early morning. He had so many sick days that we started receiving letters from the district.
So, working with the school, we set up a system that provided some specialized options for him in a 504 plan.
We never needed it.
This past summer, he started a new med that is much more gentle on him and seemed to just take the edge off for him. He began to be the "real" Aleq that he had been trying to be. He is able to have his real personality and I have thoroughly enjoyed him. He is funny, sweet, is sleeping well and seems happier than he has been in months.  Maybe years. It is absolutely an answer to our prayers.
But he still struggles with the ADHD aspects of it all.
This year, within the first few days, I requested a meeting with his new teacher, Mrs. Wood. She had already seated him right next to her and made a few minor adjustments. She wasn't even aware that he had a 504 plan but she wasn't really concerned. She told me that her son had ADHD. She said that it can be difficult with a teacher who...(she searched for the right word) didn't understand ADHD. It is her opinion that these kids will take over the world one day because they have the energy and the intelligence to do it! She felt that their personalities meshed well and they were already becoming good friends. She and I agreed to keep the lines of communication open and if we ever needed to use the 504 plan, we could look into it later.
Since that time, Aleq has mentioned things like, "She noticed I was getting bored so she had me..."
I ask every day how school went and he is always very positive. He totally adores her! He tells me about the jokes she tells or the fun things she does. I asked him the other day if school had gone well. "Derrr! It was awesome. My teacher"
He has not wanted to miss even a single day so far this term and just today he brought me his report card. 3 is the highest possible. Straight 3's with one 1 in handwriting. I cried.
That's my boy!
We have been blessed.

Since we are nowhere near the subject:
The other night, Tommy asked if Robert thought he would be a good dada when he grew up. Robert told him that he would be a great dada, to which he said, "I'll just follow the steps that you do."
How sweet is that?!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

I lost my voice

Just now I was talking to my sister and reminiscing about the first time I ever sang in public. I was five, the song was "I am Learning How to Spell" and it was a Relief Society meeting. My dad bribed me with Twinkies.
Since that super scary day I have sung many times. From the state Capitol to private homes, weddings, funerals, in all sorts of choirs but mostly solo, too many religious events to even begin to count, for groups in the thousands to a quiet lullaby for one of my sweet babies.
This is not to say that I would win any awards or singing contracts. Far from it. Faaaaar from it! In fact I have only the most basic knowledge of music in general.  But my mom used to sing professionally so I figured that if she liked it, I must be good. It didn't ever occur to me that she was my mom and was obligated to say she loved my singing. And my dad made me feel like he was the proudest and happiest dad on earth whenever I sang.
My hardest but most special performance was at my dad's funeral. I didn't think I could get through it but my brother (also a singer) grabbed me by the shoulders and, for the first time I could remember, spoke roughly to me, telling me that I HAD to do it and dad was counting on me. I got up and sang one of his favorite songs, "I Hope You Dance", clearly and without shedding a single tear. I did it just for dad and I have no doubt he was proud and happy. As soon as I sat down though...
As I stated, I may never have been the best singer but I love, love, loved it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. My tape, CD, and now MP3 collection is largely made up of silly songs that I would sing at the top of  my lungs. I probably looked and sounded totally weird!
Then I had the stroke. My vocal cords were one of the hardest hit parts of me. I couldn't swallow because they were paralyzed. Finally, and honestly, purely miraculously, they started working enough to allow me to swallow, though still slowly and with great difficulty at first.
However, my voice has never been the same. I sound a bit like a chain smoker mixed with a baby mixed with an old man. My distinct voice is easily recognizable and I rarely have to introduce myself over the phone more than once. The pharmacist and I are good pals. Once I was in a hospital room and my old therapist, who was there seeing another patient, heard me and came in to say hi.  I have difficulty controlling the volume (my kids love that I can't really yell) and carrying a tune is out of the question.
Now I know that my body is very changed in many ways, but losing my voice is definitely one of the hardest effects. At times it makes me really sad or frustrated. Just yesterday my Jain heard "Twinkle, Twinkle  Little Star"  and was excited to tell me that it has the same words as the song I sing to her before bed. Not the same TUNE, just words.  Ugg!
Friday I was listening to music and had it set to random. It played 2 Taylor Swift, 2 Lady Antebellum, 1 Suzanne Vega, 1 song from Tangled, and another Taylor Swift. What happened to my U2 or Mumford and Sons? I guess my phone wanted to rub it in or something. My (good) eye started to tear up a bit.
Just then Jain came in and invited me on a date for that night at Classic Fun Center.
It may not take away all of the future self pity but it reminded me what is really important. Not being able to carry a tune does not matter one little bit at Classic Fun Center. And it is a small price to pay for being able to stay here.
Besides, it's only temporary. In Heaven I plan on singing until others beg me to stop!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dad

Today is my dad's 71st birthday. I listened to "Drive" by The Cars, quoted a few of his favorite sayings like, "The church is true only after 10:00" and made cookies in his honor. I miss him. A lot. Every day.
Dad and Mom in love forever
Jain asked me what kind of cake he was having in Heaven. I told her carrot cake. Then I asked her what present she thought he was getting. She said a little doll that looks like grandma.

Today I took Aleq to soccer practice at a school and had a few minutes to kill so I let Tommy and Ana Jain play.  Since it was in the evening, I drove right up by the playground, which is on school grounds so I really should not have done it. But that's me, a total rebel.
After about a minute, about 30 little kids and a few adults ran up to play. It must have been a (way) after school program or something. I had the windows down and could hear a lot of questions about why a car was by the school.
Then one little girl, looking to be around 7 or 8, walked right up to my car and asked why I was parked there. She wasn't upset, just curious. I told her that I was only there for a minute but now that there were so many cute kids, I should really move. She accepted my answer but didn't go play, instead just looking at me for a second before asking, "What happened to your mouth?" Again, pleasantly curious.
I told her that I had an owie in my head that made my face look funny. She said, "That happened to my mom once. She went to the doctor and they fixed it." I told her that was a great idea and maybe I should call my doctor.
She was adorable! Aside from her talking to strangers, I thought that her mom should be proud of this little girl. She was truly concerned about me and super sweet about it.  She made me happy.
And as for calling my doctor, which one (of the 4 I see regularly) do I pick? Decisions, decisions. If only...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

At First

I didn't tell about being abused all at once. It came out in smaller parts. Disclosing to different people happened at different times and places and would be longer than I could write in one sitting.

A few months after the abuse stopped, my mom called me into her room for a "closed door talk." Nothing good ever happened in a closed door talk. If you got called in, you were either in big trouble, or...well...in big trouble.
So I was already on high alert from the start. She got right to the point and told me that she had heard that I told somebody that skip was mad at me and wanted to know why.
I knew I had to answer. I was scared to death. I tried to think of the least that I could tell her without telling her everything. I was still terrified that somebody would find out and blame/hate me.
I told her that skip had kissed me. Once. Then I begged her not to tell my dad.
She accepted my story and assured me that although she was horrified and angry, she would honor my plea for silence.
She regrets that decision now.
Years later, at age 19, I lived with my two brothers and my sister-in-law. My parents had moved to San Antonio and were here visiting for Christmas. During their visit, they went to dinner with skip and his wife, Barbara. I sat home that night, physically sick, worried that, now that they were no longer next door neighbors, skip would tell my parents what a terrible person I was. Little did I know that he was already being investigated by the police and was probably more anxious than I could ever have been.
After that visit, I went to live with my parents in Texas. After only a few days, my mom called me in her room for (you guessed it) a closed door talk. She said that skip had been arrested for sexually abusing another girl. Even then I didn't really get it. I felt sorry for the other girl but it never crossed my mind that I could be a victim. Sexual abuse happened only to little kids, right?  I had been 12 when he started.
A few mornings later, my mom came into my room and woke me up. I have never been a morning person so it was late, around 9. She said that the police had called her and that I had been named as one of skip's victims. Maybe I should get up and come downstairs so we could talk.
It clicked. All of a sudden I realized that I WAS a victim. I remember going into the bathroom and just shaking. I prayed as hard and quickly as I have ever done. I knew I was going to tell her.
I walked down the stairs on shaky legs and went into the family room.
"Mom, there's more." I began to tell her what I could. I had chosen not to think about details for so long so they were slow in coming to my mind.
I just could not handle the thought of telling my dad so my mom did it. He suggested we meet for dinner and we discussed things I could remember and logistics of the coming months, meetings with prosecutors, the court case, etc. For some reason, not one of us even considered not working with the police or not testifying.
We went straight from dinner to meet with the Bishop. He was wonderful, telling me that I had nothing for which to feel sorry, that I had done NOTHING wrong and that he would help in any way he could. He understood, however, that he was not trained in therapy, and recommended that I contact a professional as soon as possible.

That is all for this post. There is much more that happened after that first day but it's bed time and my pillow is calling to me. Loudly!   

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Fishy

Inside the school is a big fish tank. It is the main decoration in the main entrance. So I was not surprised when Tommy told me that he and his friends had been playing by and looking at the fish.
A few days ago he told me that he and his friend were touching the water. Then on Tuesday he told me that his friend had caught a fish with his hand, taken it outside, and then put it down a sewer where they thought they could see it swim. I did not believe. At all. A 7 year old making things up to impress his friends.
Yesterday Tommy came running in after school, proudly holding his water bottle. "Look inside, Mom!"
So I did.
Inside the water bottle

I know it should have been a teaching moment but I could not keep a straight face. And I was totally impressed with the reflexes required to catch it with bare hands!
After I calmed down, we had a little chat and then I made sure he took it back this morning. Unfortunately he didn't quite make it to the office and instead took it to his class where his teacher saw all the boys trying to touch the poor thing.
He was sent to the principals office where he and his friend had a talk with her reiterating what I had said at home. The whole stealing is wrong especially LIVING things.
When I spoke with her later, the Principal and I had a good laugh.
Good grief, boy!



Sunday, September 1, 2013

Dear Tracie

Dear Tracie,
I started replying to your comment on She Was Scared and realized my answer was much too long for a comment. I hope you don't mind if  I answer here.
Your comment brought back so many emotions. I remember feeling so scared, hopeful, angry, lost, etc. My family and I didn't know if I would be 100% in a week or if I would never leave the hospital bed. I felt that the staff giving  me words of encouragement was not one bit helpful because they didn't know much more about my situation than I did. I remember feeling like a novelty when the Neurology students came by for rounds. I even had one doctor who told me, "You're just not in any book." I knew what he meant but it didn't help to calm me.
My Neurosurgeon was a bit different. She had seen younger stroke survivors and I remember her telling me, "This is not your life." For some reason I trusted her and held on to that comment with all my night.
But what really helped me was my Doc in Rehab. He was 1 year older than I was and had suffered a stroke 8 years before. He got it! I trusted him and didn't even feel too bad when I would burst into tears (for no apparent reason) when he was in the room. Although he never shared his beliefs with me, I soon figured out that he shared my religious views, which was rare there, and I learned to seek his opinion on many things. He had some lasting effects of his stroke and had made adjustments. For instance, he had lost a lot of the use of his hands so to perform any procedures he had to have another doctor be his "hands" so luckily it was a teaching hospital and there were lots of other doctors.
They had a support group for stroke survivors there in Rehab. But really, I felt totally out of place. Every other person was at least 30 years older and was pretty much resigned to staying the way they were. I was young and hoped/planned to get better!
Honestly, I never found a support group where I felt I fit in. It's very frustrating at times. I still feel that I am really on my own to figure things out. Of course I have great family/friend support but it's really my deal.
That is why I love to hear from people like you. You get it. You know I'm not crazy (right??)
The best thing I was told was by my physical therapist, Tim. He told me that because I wasn't in the books that just meant I wasn't limited by any expectations. "They don't know you. They don't know what you can do! Put yourself in the books."
As far as my blog, my husband thought of the name. We wanted something that was not too sad but not too light minded. There really isn't anything funny about strokes but the resulting situations are at times absurd. As I have said before, I can either laugh or cry. Crying doesn't help. I know because I have tried.
I found out later that there really is a book called "Strokes For Dummies" and I think it's on Amazon.
I hope that they can find the cause of your strokes. You have 8 kids who need their mommy!
I would really like to hear from you more. Stories like yours always give me hope and inspire me to work harder. Keep fighting...for both of us.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sun Valley 2013

We went to Sun Valley again this year, of course. I just love that place. Again, we did a whole lot of nothing. We swam, ate at the same places, swam, visited all the same shops, swam, hung out every night by the duck pond, and swam some more. By the end of the trip all the kids had sore eyes and torn up feet from the pools and they could not have been happier. They even got to see Despicable Me 2 so they were in heaven.
If you have been watching the news you know that there was recently a huge forest fire in that area. It is beautiful country and I hate to see any of it destroyed. I sure love that place.


Robert, Tommy, Aleq, and the ever-happy-to-have-her-picture-taken Ana Jain
He never thought he would see a Bugatti and he saw 4!
Bugatti

Tommy doing what he loves

The winning team doing...something


Totally beautiful


Redfish  Lake
 
My brave girl. This angle makes the rocks look close but they weren't. I'm not THAT bad of a parent.


Of course soccer every night




                                                                          Wendy!!
 

The Tooth Fairy made a stop

 

 
 
Often when I walk, I touch walls just for the feedback to my brain. While we were there, Wendy and I decided to get foot massages so we went into a place in Ketchum. As soon as I entered I reached over to touch/lean on the wall. Um, yeah, it was a paper screen. It was a quiet place with soft music playing and Wendy and I could not laughing. Loudly. We tried to muffle or stop but you know how you laugh even more when you are not supposed to? The rest of the time up there she would whisper, "not a real wall" and we would burst out laughing all over again.

We are already excited for next year!!


 
 
 

Friday, August 23, 2013

First Day

Monday was the first day of 5th grade for Aleq and 2nd for Tommy. Tommy got separated from me during the chaos and by the time I found him (in his seat in his class) he was already tearful. When I sat down and hugged him he just full on cried. It was back to school morning so I got to spend some time with him while we listened to the teacher. He told me that he felt like he needed to go home. I gave him another hug and promised I would be there after school, and then I left. It about broke my heart to leave him. Tough love is lame!! After school he was happy and said that he was better right
after I left. Still...

He acts brave but he has some pretty serious issues with separation. How could he not? One morning when he was two, his mom went away and didn't come back for almost 2 years. Yes, he saw me, but in a scary hospital or at grandmas when I was still hooked up to tubes and I looked very different. Poor little guy.

Robert's mom took Aleq to his class (His parents are heaven sent) and when I came there to check in on him, he waved but was already busy being cool so he didn't pay me much attention. I love hat he is secure enough to pretend to ignore me. I like to think he was happy to see me but couldn't let on.

Yesterday was Jain's first day of kindergarten. She has been counting down for (literally) months until she could be big enough to go to the same school as the boys. She wore her "Kindergarten Rocks" shirt (thank you aunt Wendy) and before we left, she had to run over to show our friend, Karen, how big she was.

My big girl!

At school, the kids play outside until the teacher comes out to get them. Most parents walked their kids up and waited with them. Some kids were sad and most parents were even more sad. Not Jain. She gave me kisses in the car and ran up to the playground before I could even unbuckle.
Today when I dropped her off she had fast friends and was animatedly chatting with numerous girls.

Most parents would be a little sad that their last child started school. I admit, my apron strings felt empty without little hands holding them. But I couldn't help thinking that I came within an eyelash of missing these times. I feel so blessed and thankful that I can be here for these moments. I took my kids to school this week! I TOOK MY KIDS TO SCHOOL THIS WEEK! I drove them. I walked them in. I hugged them. I laughed at how cool they thought they were. I was here to greet them and hug them again when they got home. I almost lost all that. I am so blessed.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Self Reliant

Tommy had his first soccer practice of the season on Wednesday. He dressed himself and I think he looked very handsome, no?


I dropped him off and had Aleq walk him over to what we assumed was his team. In just a second they both came running back to the car and Tommy was visibly upset. Aleq said that they didn't know if it was the right team. I told them to ask and off they ran again, only to return a few seconds later. This time Tommy was crying, Aleq told me that they were both too afraid to ask.
I explained to them that I could not walk across the grass, even though I wanted to. I asked Aleq to please ask if it were the right team because Tommy was nervous and this was his first time with this team. They ran off again and I saw the coach shake his head and welcome Tommy, who now wore a big grin.
I couldn't help thinking that I should have been the one to walk him over and introduce him. He needed his mommy. This is a boy with about 20 stuffed animals still on his bed and fully believes that Santa Clause is able to make it to every child on Christmas Eve (We haven't told him the truth yet about time going slower on that one night of the year).
There are a lot of things I just can't do. My kids will have to be more self reliant than their friends. I both hate that and like it, depending on the moment. I hated it then. But right now I hear cold cereal being made without my help, and I like it.

The other night I picked up a load of laundry from my closet and started to carry it in to my laundry room. Now, Robert does not like me walking anywhere with both hands full, and he gave me the look. I told him that I was fine and that I'm tough.
"I know you are tough, that's not the problem." he told me.
But he could see that I was determined so instead of just taking the clothes out of my arms, he came up behind me, put his hands on my shoulders, and walked with me to the laundry room.
To most people this might not seem like a big deal, but it showed me how much he was worried about both my safety and my want of independence. It showed how much he loves me. Totally romantic.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Strength

In my last post I forgot to add what may be the most powerful tool that we all have. Your own gut.
"If an individual makes you viscerally uncomfortable, there is probably a legitimate reason and you should pay attention to that feeling." --John Douglas, former FBI agent
If something feels wrong, trust your feelings, The Holy Ghost, your 6th sense, whatever you choose to call it. It is better to hurt feelings and be safe rather than be "nice" at the expense of your child. And teach them to trust their feelings as well, and let them know that they are more important than neighbors, friends, or even family.

Anyway...


Yesterday, Jain asked me when I would get a bike. Before I could even answer, she said;  "When you get to Heaven you can buy a bike." I told her that I loved that idea. Even at 5 she understands that my strokiness is only temporary.

As we were bringing in groceries, I asked Aleq what I would ever do without him. He thought for a second and then replied, "Without us you wouldn't be strokey." That just about broke my heart. I smiled and said, "Without you I wouldn't be happy!" He got a big grin on his face, nodded, and walked into the house.

That is a huge fear of mine, that my kids, especially Jain, will feel somehow responsible. I feel strongly that this was MY body that freaked out. I worry about the burden they now have and trials that may come their way because of this. But not one of us is responsible for it . It is honestly such a small price to pay for having my children forever and I would do it all over in  a heartbeat.

In quiet times, I  feel blessed to have this trial. I know there are heartbreaks that I could not handle. I marvel at the strength of others who not only endure but endure well. Oh, I know that in private moments, there isn't a person alive who does not doubt their ability to endure, let alone endure well, but I have seen such strength in those around me that I am seriously in awe.

I laughingly say about some that ,"I want to be them when I grow up." I do and I don't. I want their strength but I don't want to earn it.    How covetous is that?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Protect My Kids?

As I have spoken to different groups, the question I hear the most is how do I protect my own children? I'm no expert. I can only say what we do in our house. But it is a good starting point so...

First, I talk openly about what happened to me. I use terms that my kids can understand and only give information if I think they can handle it. I tell them that my friends daddy touched my private parts. I often talk about how it made me sad or embarrassed. I try to emphasize what happened when I finally told. I wasn't in trouble at all, in fact, my mom and dad were super proud of how brave I was and my family all believed me and were sweet and happy that I would not be hurt anymore. For my youngest, I tell mostly the happy reactions of people. For my oldest, I talk truthfully about some of the hard experiences but let him know that it was all worth it and that I was more important to my mom and dad than anything or anyone. They all know that the only person who got in trouble was skip and that he went to jail.
I have hoped to empower them. I ask before giving or getting even bed time kisses. If they don't want a hug or affection, I respect that and we often use signs or words instead of hugs. Of course, this does not happen a lot but they know it is an option. When grown ups say, "Give me a hug" it is completely their choice and they know I will back them up on it. They know they can tell even grown ups NO! about their bodies.
We don't have sleep overs. Not at our house or friends houses. I was abused nearly every time I slept over with skip's daughters. I know of one family who had a sons friend sleeping over and he got up the night and snuck in their daughters room...
I teach my kids to listen to their feelings. Often I think kids have a better "sense" about things than adults do. If my kids tell me they don't know why but a certain house, person, or situation does not feel comfortable, they know that they can tell me and I will totally support them, even if it means telling them they can't play today, just so they have mom to blame for not playing at a particular friend's house.
Basically we are open about what can happen but try not to let them think there is a scary man around every corner.
But I am realistic. Some studies say one in three girls and one in four boys will have something happen to them before age 18. And that is just those who report it. That could be abuse, rape, being shown pictures, etc. Again that's just reported. Think how much higher that number actually is.
Maybe it doesn't sound like the right way to handle things, but I want to talk to my kids about if it happens to them.
Recently my 5 year old told me that she didn't like an older neighbor boy because he kissed her wrong.  Without freaking out (outwardly) I asked her how he had kissed her. Turns out he had given her a raspberry on her cheek. (I finally exhaled.)  I told her that I was so proud that she told me and gave her lots of hugs. Someone did something she didn't like and she told me! I was one proud and happy mama!
I like to let my kids know that no grown up should ever ask them to keep secrets. I tell them that if a person touches them, it's not their fault. Also, the older person may tell them they will hurt their family, they will get in trouble, whatever. We like to laugh at what lies these things are and they are just trying to scare kids. I tell my kids that daddy is super tough and will fight the bad guy if he needs to, they would never be in trouble for telling, and we can even call the cops to help us because they sure helped me.
We often talk about how happy I am now and that Heavenly Father helped me be brave and is very proud of me.
But I know that after everything I do, it may not be enough. I am not with all 3 kids at every second. Right now they are all safe and snug in their beds but what happens tomorrow when they go outside? What happens at their friend's house or at church or school? What happens when they turn a corner and are out of my sight for 2 seconds?
I can't let myself think too much on the what if's. Every parent knows that fear and worry. I hope I have taught my kids enough. I hope they are safe. I pray numerous times a day for their safety. I just have to keep that up and let that be enough.
I hope.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Self Pity

A few days ago I went shopping at City Creek with my friend, Karen. She had to make a return and I had to use the restroom so we split up. I walked down the hall by myself and just as
I turned the corner I nearly collided with two young teenage girls. I said,  "Excuse me." and moved out of their way as best as I could, which wasn't really graceful and included stumbling and grabbing the wall for balance. The girls didn't say anything, just looked at me and walked around me.
As I was reaching for the door handle, I heard one of the girls whisper something and they both started to laugh.
I guess they could have been talking about something besides me but the timing...
I'm not going to lie, it hurt my feelings. Intellectually I understand that they are young, I am tough, blah, blah, blah. But I'm human and it hurt my heart.  I mean really, did we learn nothing from Tina Fay about how to treat other females? Sheesh!
This isn't the first or last time this has happened. I don't mind the children who are genuinely curious and don't have a bit of cruelty, or even the adults who are brave enough to approach me or kind to me. But every once in a while I get condescending or rude stares or the occasional comment or giggle. Sometimes I just want to walk up to them and ask if they would like a better view. Once when two guys were openly gaping at me, I looked right at them and burst out singing the theme from "The Love Boat. "
I realize that I am just feeling sorry for myself, whether or not I feel justified, and that does me exactly NO good.  But every so often I reserve the right to feel some self pity. We all should. It's actually very gratifying.  But the feeling can only last a few moments because I have too much to do.
Like playing Monopoly Jr. with the critters and watching M*A*S*H reruns with Robert.


"Courage is something you shouldn't be afraid to have." Frank Burns, M*A*S*H

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Madee

My niece, Madee, who is exactly six months younger than my Ana Jain, has Eosinophilic Esophagitus, which basically means that her throat is inflamed, making eating next to impossible, making weight gain next to impossible. Poor girl.  Two days ago she had a feeding tube placed to help her get bigger. I feel so bad for her! She is only 5!!
It brings back so many memories for me. I had a love/hate relationship with mine. I hated that I needed one at all.  I hated/hate the whole situation. But it was doing the work that my body could not do. I would like to forget it but I also want to remember it. So..
I got my first G tube just a couple of days after my stroke. I figured it would only be for a few days. Again, denial. I barely noticed it at first because I wasn't really moving and I was sedated much of the time so the noise of the pump didn't bother me. After a few weeks, when I moved to Rehab, I began to notice it more. It was a tube that hung out a few inches from my belly and it could be connected to a longer tube from the pump. I would just tuck it in my waistband and then pull it out when I got hungry or thirsty. During therapy I got thirsty a lot so I would pull it out and someone would suck water from a bottle into a big syringe and then "push" that into my tube. I was a little confused because the feeling of thirst was so oral to me, so I would chew ice and then suction it out.
A few weeks into therapy, I was sitting on a bench, leaning over to get a pen, when suddenly I was really sick. I had to just lie back and wait for them to wheel me up to my room. That night was terrible! Every time they would put meds, water, whatever in my tube, it would cause serious abdominal pain. I didn't even want pain medication because it hurt too much going in.
The following morning when Dr. McLaughlin came in, my mom told him that she thought my tube had gotten knocked out of place. He said that it was really unusual ("People walk around with these things for years") but she was probably right. They did an x ray and sure enough!
They then took me in for yet another surgery and placed another one. But the pain was still there even after. They took another x ray and found that they had accidentally placed the tube in the wrong spot. So, they did another surgery and made a huge incision and really got a good look before placing it exactly right. Unfortunately, after all the trauma, my stomach had shut down and they were not sure that it would ever start working again.
But that was not the only problem. After all the meds and food had gone into my abdominal cavity instead of my stomach, I had developed a serious infection that, I later learned, was life threatening. So, I had yet another surgery to place a tube in my back to drain out the infection while being given heavy antibiotics through my IV.
After the infection was cleared up, they placed another tube that was actually two tubes, called a JG tube. It protruded a few inches from my belly and then came to a y. One side went to my stomach and the other went lower, to my small intestine.
That stayed in for a long time and I had very few problems with it. I just hated the sound of it working all night and the smell of vanilla from my food still makes me queasy.
Luckily, my stomach started working again but we found that I had much less reflux using the "J" port into my lower intestine and I didn't have to always sleep sitting up, as I did before.
The tube got knocked out of place months later when I was violently ill. But the surgery to put it back was short and sweet. Another time it got clogged with medication. Not all medication is liquid so most has to be ground up. Unfortunately some of the particles got stuck together and wouldn't move. So off to the ER I went. Guess what they used to unclog it? Coke! It worked wonders. The most exciting time was when I was transferring from my wheelchair to my bed and I knelt on the tube and yanked it out. Yummy. It was stitched in place but apparently I broke those and the whole thing came out into my hand. Another trip to the ER where they replaced it once again.
That time they put in a Mic-Key button. That didn't protrude but instead was flush with my belly and a tube locked into it from the bag (feed bag) hooked to the pump.
That one gave me no problems at all. That may have been because by that time I was starting to eat and used my tube only occasionally.  I kept it in out of caution, for about a year after I started eating exclusively by mouth. It never bothered me, didn't show under clothes, etc. so it wasn't really an issue. But the day when I finally had it taken out was a tiny step forward on the long road to healing.
All this talk of feeding tubes reminds me that I have yet to start dinner and my kids won't like that!! Better go!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Signs

As I said before, I am often asked what signs I exhibited both during and after being abused. I exhibited some of the classic signs but some were specific to only me. Every person is so different and reactions are different. Again, I can only speak for myself and my experiences.
When he first started, it only makes sense that I would just stop going over there. However, that would have been a huge red flag and people would have started asking questions, so I didn't dare. That would have been one sign no one could ignore but I wasn't thinking clearly so I didn't do it.
Before the abuse started, I had an amazing memory. I would memorize whole books and often correct people if I heard a flaw. This really annoyed most people but whatever. My grades were always stellar and studying was totally foreign to me. If I needed an answer to something, I could just picture it on the page and read it as if the book were right in front of me.
When the abuse started, I started trying to forget whole segments of my days. If I didn't the memories  would stay with me always and I couldn't think, talk, sleep, eat, interact, etc. So It was necessary for me to put things in certain compartments and only access what I needed at the time. As a result, my memory took a hit. My brain didn't only forget some things so I started forgetting A LOT!!
At the same time my self worth was suffering. I felt that I was committing adultery so nothing I did really mattered. Unless I did some serious repenting, and that meant telling others what was happening, other accomplishments didn't mean a thing.  I was young and the fact that I was being abused honestly never occurred to me. I just felt that if he were doing these things,  even if I did nothing but sit silently and try to mentally take myself away, I don't know. But abuse never seemed to fit. Abuse was something that happened to smaller kids and I was 12/13. I was much too old.
As a combination of these things, my grades fell. I even failed math. That was a huge shock to my parents. I didn't really try most of the time and when I did, I found that the needed info was just gone. My grades didn't really recover until I quit school for a year at 19, moved to San Antonio, told my parents and others about the abuse, did the court stuff, and had lots of therapy. After that I got my very first 4.0 and my studies suddenly started coming more easily. You should see the difference before and after.
During the abuse I changed friends, preferring to hang out with people who I felt were less able or ready to judge me. My style of dress was different too. I didn't respect myself or my body and it showed. I remember leaving the house in one outfit, going into the school bathroom, changing into something different, and reversing the process after school.
Later, the boys I dated were...less than desirable. I dated a few good ones but I never felt that I could let them get too close or they would see how yucky I really was.
My behavior, especially at home, changed. My family felt that they were walking on eggshells around me. I would explode in a rage at even a perceived cross. I also started sleeping. A lot. Sleep was about the only real escape I had.
Luckily, when I got to high school, the abuse had stopped and to keep up appearances, I followed my brothers and ran/made class office. There I met some absolutely wonderful girls (I honestly believe they were heaven sent) who "rescued" me and steered me in a totally different direction than I had previously been heading.  They are still my friends today and I credit them with saving me! THANKS!!
There were probably many signs that others could talk about, but my boys are nearly home from school and its play time ;)

Friday, May 31, 2013

I Didn't Tell

In the many times I have spoken to different groups about sexual abuse, be it law enforcement, professional therapists, child advocates, child abuse prevention specialists, youth groups, church groups, whoever, I invariably get three questions. First, what signs did you exhibit? Second, How can I protect my own children? Third, what stopped you from telling anyone?
The truthful answer to all three questions is I don't know. I don't have one answer that will keep every parent in the know and every child safe. I wish I did. I really wish I did.
As for right now, I am wanting to sorta answer question #3. Every person and situation is totally different but this was my experience.
When I think about that time I just want to scream at that little girl to shout it from the rooftops. I can see now that he is nothing but a coward and he was terrified of me. But I was young, only 12 when he started, and I just didn't have the perspective that I have now.
It would be very easy to say there was a threat of violence but there wasn't. he was much more subtle and manipulative than that. Months before anything ever happened, he began treating me specially. I would be with one of his many daughters and he would single me out for a joke, a treat, whatever. Previously, he was abrupt, even scary to me. But suddenly he was treating me like a friend, earning my trust. He would even show up at my school and take his son and me to lunch.
At the same time he was doing similar things for my parents. He was gave them deals on dentistry, asked them to join his scripture study group, asked them to have dinner, etc.
At the time the abuse started, he held a high rank in my church (bad people can be found in every religion), was  my dentist, was a great family friend, the trusted dad of my friends, and had even given me a job washing instruments at his office. So imagine my confusion when he first kissed me. I mean, he was skip, my friend! He wouldn't do something wrong, would he??
As the abuse progressed from kissing to more, I tried my best to make it all right in my head. But at times I just couldn't reconcile it with what I was feeling, and then I would avoid him or pretend that I was too sleepy, or flat out refuse. That is when the guilt trips started. He would refuse his kids things they wanted and his look was enough to let me know it was my fault. His kids soon learned that if their dad was happy, they would get stuff and I was the key to his happiness. Sometimes he would seek me out to tell me about his sadness or inability to sleep and let me know that I could change all that. As a 12/13 year old it was too much to handle. Once, I even told him that I just felt it was wrong. It seemed to me that what he was doing was against church doctrine not to mention that I was feeling horrible.
His answer makes my skin crawl, even 20+ years later.
He told me that it was God's plan for a man to love a woman this way. We knew each other before this life and were meant to be together.
See? Skin crawl.
To a little girl, this made no sense but he was a grown up and had a high calling in my church. He must know better than I did. Right?
Also, at the same time, he would tell me things like the way I walked, or the way my mouth moved when I talked, or even my innocent like of babies, were a huge turn on to him and he could not control himself. I remember trying to pay attention to and change things.
In my head, this was adultery and that was a sin right up there with murder. By admitting it to anyone...catastrophic to a little girl.
I remember praying and praying for forgiveness and for him to stop. I didn't realize that I had NOTHING to be forgiven for.
Eventually it did stop and suddenly I found strength I never knew I had to keep it stopped. I know that I was blessed to find that strength at that time.
There is a lot that happened after that day but that's for a different day. After all of those yucky memories, I need some cookies!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Morning

On most mornings I get up, get the kids ready for school, take them and then race home and fall back in bed. I am not sure exactly why but my body just has a reeeeally hard time in the mornings. I try to plan morning appointments or activities for one morning a week but it usually ends up being two.
Yesterday morning I had to take Tommy to the dentist at 11:00.  We barely made it. Tommy dressed himself which is always interesting, Jain begged to wear the same dress she wore to school the day before and frankly, I didn't have the energy to worry about it so she got her way.
At the dentist Tommy went back and Jain and I stayed in the waiting room. Luckily there are iPads and other games so she thinks it is a treat. I went back and forth between Tommy and Jain.Jain saw a little boy from her class and was all excited to talk with him. I was totally embarrassed that his mom saw Jain in the same dress as at school and hair only brushed, not totally done. As I have said before, I just want to wear a sign that says "I HAD A STROKE, LAY OFF!"
A lady came in with her daughter and grandsons and immediately recognized me. "You come in to my store!" It was one of my many awkward hi...you moments. She had to remind me what store it was and we had a nice chat while we waited. I'm not totally positive if she recognized me because I shop too much in her store or if my face is hard to forget. Probably both. Don't tell my husband ;)
When we were done, Tommy just wanted to go home and rest. He climbed right in my bed and after I gave him some Ibuprofen, he didn't want me to leave his side even for a second. He watched a show but was always touching me. His foot was touching mine, then he put his hand on my arm. or he lifted my arm and snuggled under it.
I don't like when he doesn't feel 100% but I love that he gets so snuggly. It just makes my heart happy. I just love the constant reminders of why I became a mom and why I am thankful to be here with my kids.
In church on Sunday I had my phone with me because it has my scriptures on it. I had put it on silent but I forgot to turn off driving mode. Robert texted me from another part of the building and it announced, "New message from Robert Carlson." My cheeks went totally red and the ladies around me started to laugh. I am always so careful about that because I think it's so rude to have it interrupt. Here is the message:
"I sure love you. I'm glad you stayed with me. It wasn't your time to go. Our kids wouldn't have it any other way, for sure."
 
I just sat there with tears rolling down my face. Well, the left side since my right eye doesn't produce enough moisture to cry.  Karen, sitting next to me, wondered what the deal was so I showed her the text. She got all emotional, too. It wasn't even an emotional part in the lesson! Embarrassing but totally worth it.

Now to switch gears. I heard this morning that Frances Monson, wife of  President Thomas S. Monson, passed away. What a glorious homecoming that must have been! What a wonderful, faithful woman. She will be greatly missed, especially by her family. Although he understands the joy of the occasion, I'm sure President Monson will miss her terribly and count the minutes until they can be together again.

Not that we are like them, but this is exactly how Robert and I walk. I knew it felt right!


Friday, May 10, 2013

Finally

Wednesday, Robert and I took Aleq to see his doctor and I felt that progress was made. He really listened to our concerns and talked at length with Aleq. He had previously told us that although Aleq's previous Psychiatrist was leaning towards Bipolar, He felt that Aleq was too young to make such a call.
After listening to everything we were saying, he decided that Aleq was not too young and made the diagnosis of Atypical Bipolar. Really that means that Aleq does not fit all the symptoms perfectly. He has mood disturbances but not the extremes that we might expect. For instance, his High mood is exhibited by the complete inability to sit still, rapid talking, etc. His Low mood is exhibited by irritability and maybe pouting in a chair for about 45 minutes. This may change, of course, and either get better or worse. I'm betting worse.
The medications he has been on to treat ADHD were actually doing more harm than good. They were actually causing his highs and lows to be more frequent, last longer, and causing sleeplessness which is the kiss of death for kids like him. His doc doesn't usually act so quickly on meds but he is quickly weaning him off all ADHD meds and is planning to treat him totally differently.
One might think that this diagnosis would be very difficult to hear. However, I am just so happy to know what we are dealing with and finally be able to make decisions and changes that will hopefully help my poor guy.
It has been 3 days of weaning and already I am seeing a difference. He is a joy to be around. Last night we did 2 pages of math homework which would usually end in tears for both of us, frustration, incomplete homework, and a possible meltdown. But he completed the whole thing, we both laughed at funny mistakes, and we were happy upon completion. He also told me that he could not explain to me how much he loved me because there were no words that big. He had a very enjoyable conversation with Robert just before bed and was asleep by 9:15.
Of course he was bothering his brother and sister and seemed to have more energy than usual but I have my boy back for today.

Friday, May 3, 2013

MORE?!

Jain told me that if she were magic, she would have me have another baby and not have strokiness. Uh...
I would love not having strokiness and Robert, who wanted at least one more baby, would be happy! I, on the other hand, felt and still feel very satisfied with three critters. I had even asked my doctor about having my tubes tied right after giving birth. But, it wasn't totally my call so I agreed to not do anything permanent.
Then I had a stroke. I was told that having more babies would pretty much be a death sentence.
So I got my way. It wasn't exactly how I would have chosen but  in my life of so many...well...sucky things, I'll take some good results any way I can get them.
Maybe in the next life?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Apology

My last post was not done on a good day. I am sorry, it is not my intention to complain. It's true that I have bad days (don't we all) and I just needed to vent.
The same night as my last post, Robert and I let the kids play in the other room while we talked. He listened while I talked and cried and then I listened while he talked and got a bit tearful, too. He reiterated to me how happy our children are. He reminded me of their relationships with me before the stroke and that we were super close! Then, one morning, I was just gone. Roberts parents suddenly moved in to care for them, their sister was taken away, and they only got to see daddy right before bed each night. When Robert would tuck them in at nights, Aleq would often break down sobbing and want things to be normal again.
And after a while, I came back to them! I remember the first day I was alone all day with them. It was like a dream! We were all so happy!! It has gotten better and we have all grown stronger with each passing day. I am reminded of the day just last week, when Tommy, out of nowhere, said, "I'm glad you didn't die."
I am blessed to have this time with my family. I have struggles, yes, but my life rocks!
I am allowed to have bad days, though.
Then on Saturday, we were outside chatting with our friends, the Stallings, on the little stone path between our houses. Robert had to help me up to the path because it is impossible for me to walk on it. After a few minutes he and Scott left to look at sprinklers. I stood there for a few seconds and then turned to Karen and said, "I'm stuck." We both burst out laughing and agreed that the men were really cruel for leaving. Karen, who weighs about 100 lbs after a big meal, had to help me off the path.
I realize that my life not only rocks but is quite comical too!