Tag Archives: God

Big Prayers for Big Kevin-The Homecoming

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Big Prayers for Big Kevin-The Homecoming

Kevin bangin’ the gong!

Several times I have sat down to compose an update on Kevin’s cancer treatment and I have found myself overwhelmed by the task of wrangling words into some sort of logical sequence to sufficiently fill the space between the last post and where we are now. Each time, I found myself overwhelmed and unable to whittle down the sum of the experiences into a simplified version of a complex equation.  I would like to point out that this is yet another example of how my life-long search for a situation in which Algebra would be applicable and useful remains just an empty promise from my high school Algebra teacher.  There is no balancing the cancer equation.  There is no solving for X or Y and there are certainly no easy solutions and sometimes there are no solutions at all.

I decided to start simply and lookup the definition of cancer and this is what I found:

/can·cer/[ˈkansər] noun-the disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body. 

Well, that sounded practically harmless. It certainly didn’t paint the picture of the shit show that has been our life for the last several months.  So I read on:

 

/can·cer/noun-a practice or phenomenon perceived to be evil or destructive and hard to contain or eradicate: synonyms: evil · blight · scourge · poison · canker · plague · pestilence

Now I was getting somewhere. This is more accurate.  Thank you, Oxford Dictionaries©, for recognizing cancer for the bastardly equal opportunity butt licking tribulation of chaos it is. The day that sometimes seemed to be moving further away instead of closer finally arrived. Kevin completed his 32nd and final radiation treatment on February 16th. I have chronicled some of the brutal side effects he has suffered over the last couple of months and it has been excruciating to witness so I cannot venture to imagine what it was actually like for him to experience it firsthand.  Each day of radiation took more and more out of and from Kevin.  Although he is unable to eat anything other than the Boost Plus shakes and water, he managed to avoid the feeding tube. I am not sure why the folks weighing him didn’t notice that he had 7 layers of clothing on and a jacket when it was 70 degrees; not to mention the $17.00 of change in his pockets, but I guess that is none of my business (insert eye roll here).  When the radiologist told us that the results of skull based radiation are traumatic, he wasn’t just whistling Dixie.  The physical toll has been extremely difficult to witness.  The weight loss, the vomiting, the pain in his head, mouth, throat and face, the skin changes, the loss of hair, the extreme fatigue, and the dead and burnt flesh and mucous he flushes from his nose several time a day—let’s just say, pussies need not apply.

The physical impact has been hard, but the emotional toll it has taken on him has been equally as brutal and nearly unbearable for me to stand. I think most people who know Kevin would agree with the fact that he is pretty laid back.  He doesn’t ruffle easy, nor does he get too excited about much.  Whereas I tend to get super excited about things such as when the Cheerios left in my bowl make the shape of a rabbit or I see a red fox cross the road or when every single sock in a load of laundry has a mate (a true miracle akin to the statue of the Virgin Mother crying tears of blood).  I worry about coyotes chasing me on my way back from the barn and lose sleep pondering my chances of being filleted by a serial killer and wondering what picture my family would use if I went missing.  If our brains were colors, his would probably be a calm constant shade of calming blue and mine would be a bag of Skittles.  I guess that is why the extreme anxiety and ill-ease he experienced had us both on the ropes.  Seriously, folks, there is only one crazy seat on this train and I am in it.

The babies welcoming their daddy home.

We were beyond relieved to return home. Stefon Klugg graciously shuttled my step-dad, Ron and baby sister, Emily, to Houston in his super cool plane and they drove our truck back, while Mr. Klug flew us to our homeland.  Not only did we avoid putting Kevin on a commercial flight (a.k.a. a flying incubator of germs), we were also welcomed at the airport by a host of family and friends.  There were hugs and tears and some more hugs and some more tears.  I had tried to warn those eager hosts that the man I took to Houston was not the same man I was bringing home, but some were not prepared.  Cancer and his caustic sidekick radiation had worked him over…but we were finally home. We were surrounded by people who love us, which is really what home is and it felt AMAZING.

Radiation Crew

As we try to acclimate back to some sort of normal (believe me I am using this term in the loosest sense) life, Kevin struggles every single day with the lingering effects of the radiation. He still is only able to tolerate Boost shakes, water, and we recently added bone broth to his menu.  Some days are better than others.  He is weak and tires easily, has intermittent pain and discomfort and continues with a lengthy regimen of sinus rinses, mouth swishes, fluoride treatments and skin creams.  He has dropped more weight and has only slept twice through the night since we have been home.  His taste buds are completely out of order and the few attempts he has made at tasting food resulted in the same conclusion:  “it tastes like ass”.  Although he has used this same phrase to describe some of my cooking in the past, this time it has nothing to do with my lack of culinary skills.  In spite of all the struggles, he is making progress and for that I am immensely grateful.

It has been a long road and I am perpetually exhausted, both physically and emotionally.  There has never been a season in my life where I have felt more completely helpless.  There were days when my attempts to find ways to ease his misery were nothing more than exercises in futility. As he continues to grow stronger and his health is restored, I hope that I am able to dial down my heightened state of constant readiness; my personal goal is to at least plateau at DEFCON 3 on or before April 1st.  In so many ways I feel like I have been holding my breath since this ordeal began and I am apprehensive to exhale.  I don’t want God to interpret my need to breathe as a sign of being complaisant.  I am not sure how to balance the joy of being on the downhill side with my need to stand vigil for any sign of trouble returning.  I really don’t think it is too much to ask to have left Houston with at least a ’30 Year Cancer Free Guarantee’.  So many things about this stupid disease do not add up-there are no simple solutions.  We may not be stepping into tomorrow with a bumper-to-bumper warranty, but we certainly aren’t empty handed and our hearts are so full because…

  • We have been shown immeasurable love by our family, friends, and community.

    The Elite Cancer Squad…our forever friends.

    My Sweet Ladybug-Meg.

  • We have made beautiful new friendships in the middle of ugly circumstances.
  • We have seen the selfless generosity of others meet our needs, often before we knew what the needs were.
  • We have witnessed the power of prayer daily.
  • We have learned that faith is an action verb and must be practiced daily (even if it is wobbly)
  • There are people in my life who love me enough to come into our home and tackle the task of sweeping, mopping, dusting, sorting, and restocking provisions in the aftermath of six weeks of being inhabited by savages (a.k.a. our children and the menagerie of our furry friends). That is BIG LOVE! My tribe is above awesome.

 

I appreciate you allowing me this venue to express my fears, frustrations and the plethora of other unpleasant emotions. Thank you for tolerating my posts about mucous, puke, sinus flushes, and burnt flesh.  Above all, thank for your unwavering love.  I want to leave you with a smile (maybe even a chuckle).  I have been given temporary custody of my grandcat, Fiona.  She is the sweetest most precious cat in all the land.  Her beautiful long fur wasn’t brushed daily in our absence and became matted.  I thought you might want to see the end result, when I had to shave my daughter’s pussy kitty.

Fiona- Before

Fiona-After

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cancer Chronicles –Update on Big Prayers for Big Kevin

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Cancer Chronicles –Update on Big Prayers for Big Kevin

It has been a long time since I have posted an update. Things have been a little busy.  Kevin’s post-surgery recovery was full of ups and downs.  There were good days and bad days and some days that were a mixed bag of good and bad.  We did have a wonderful holiday and spent quality time with our family and friends.  Have you ever heard someone say, “I never realized just how blessed I was until (fill-in-the-blank with customized life-altering event)”?  This is us now…every single day.  We are tired, scared, nervous, challenged, consumed with worry, but above all we are loved and we are blessed.

Kevin was hoping the removal of the tumor from his right sinus cavity that has been blocking his airway for the last year would allow him the freedom to breathe freely. What is the saying about best laid plans of mice and men?  That’s right!  They often go awry.  The surgery required a great deal of destruction on the tumor side, which lead to considerable annihilation on the healthy side to harvest tissue to patch things up on the tumor side.  All this tumor excavation, cancer mining in the bones, sinus demolition, healthy tissue excising and transplanting left him with double the sinus fun.  Subsequently, he was left with the inability to breathe out of either side.

Nights have been especially challenging. He has acquired a plethora of medical salves, sprays, pills, and potions to address the airway issues.   There has been an influx of medical devices that have been employed to assist in the oxygen exchange.  He has a cool mist humidifier, which is sort of like falling asleep in a rain forest or in front row seating at a burlesque show—depending on if he sets it on high mist or low mist.  The SinuGator® has also been added to the menagerie. If you do not know what a SinuGator® is or what it does or what it can produce from depths of one’s sinuses, fall on your knees and thank God for sparing you from having intimate knowledge of this device or its function.

We are calling Houston home for the next six or seven weeks. We settled into a comfortable apartment just minutes from MD Anderson and the Proton Center, where he will be receiving treatments.   Shortly before we left on our journey to our new homestead, we learned of another man from our community waging his own battle against the bastardly disease.  We were told he was also seeking treatment at MD Anderson and he and his precious wife were going to be there the same time as we were.  God immediately spoke to our hearts.  We have only been able to get Kevin the care and treatment at MD Anderson by the selfless generosity of our family, our tribe, and our community and now we have an opportunity to share the blessings we have received.   We invited them to share our living space in Houston and they graciously accepted.  We have embarked on this journey with new friends by our side.  We have established our own little cancer commune and we laugh and we cry and sometimes we ask why.   We don’t have any answers, but we have each other and it is truly a beautiful side effect of this ugly disease.  I will not include any information of their journey in my posts.  It is not my story to tell.  I will tell you that we are stronger together and your gifts have gone further than you even know!

Kevin was supposed to start his radiation treatment early last week. There were some last minute changes in his treatment plan (and by changes I mean they totally scrapped the old plan and made a whole new one).  They changed the type of radiation, which changed the mapping and calculations and long-story short, he started radiation on Thursday.   He has to be bolted to the table with a molded mesh mask and a protective mouth guard in place, which makes it very hard to believe.  In the middle of his very first treatment the machine threw a rod or blew a head gasket or reached meltdown mode and powered down.  So, he had to wait for the Radiation X-Men Repair Patrol to fix the machine and start again.  Friday he managed not to break the machine.  We are considering Friday a WIN.

We met with the Radiology Oncologist in length Thursday evening. His message was very informative and in a nutshell he spent 45 minutes detailing how badly this is going to SUCK.  The “radiation Splash” is the good stuff that the radiation splashes while obliterating the cancer.  In Kevin’s case, this may include, but is not limited to:  his optic never, his hearing nerve, the roof of his mouth, the saliva glands, his smell, his taste, his ability to swallow, his teeth, and it will progressively leave him physically fatigued.  The biggest challenge in the next few months is nutrition and weight maintenance. If he loses more than 5% of his body weight he will have to have a feeding tube. The doctor’s order was specific:  “You mouth is going to hurt, your throat and esophagus will be burned, food will taste like shit and you will be so exhausted you will physically not feel like eating, but YOU HAVE TO EAT. You will probably not be able eat solid food in a few weeks.  You are going to have to pound BOOST like a frat boy during rush.”

The surgical pathology report wasn’t exactly what we had anticipated. There were cancer cells where we didn’t want them to be and the final grade of this tumor was a lot higher than we thought going into all of this.  Sometimes, this bump in the road seems like a mountain. Sometimes, watching Kevin digesting what the next couple of months hold for him takes all of the air out of my lungs.  I have to remind myself to breathe and focus on the end game—restoring Kevin’s health!   I am buoyed by an anchor or love, prayers, support, encouragement, and HOPE!  Thank you for being our anchor.

 

PS- here is a video of two ladies fighting at a bus stop in Houston. 😂

The Journey Continues-Big Prayers for Big Kevin Update

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The Journey Continues-Big Prayers for Big Kevin Update

COULD SOMEONE KINDLY REMOVE THE TUMOR FROM MY HUSBAND’S HEAD???!!  Patience is not one of my strong points.  After countless scans, blood draws, biopsies and consults we finally have a plan!  Kevin and I will be heading to Houston tomorrow.  He will meet with a neurosurgeon on Friday, as well as have his pre-op tests completed.  Monday is the BIG day!  The plan is for him to undergo the operation laparoscopically and remove the tumor through his nose; sounds simple enough.  My sister is a nurse practitioner and she has retrieved rocks, beans and other small items that have been crammed into the nares of toddlers. Unfortunately, this is going to take a little more precise maneuvering.

This bastard tumor is big and it is growing. It has also cozied up right next to the bone that separates the sinus cavity from the lining of the brain. There are 206 bones in the human body and I think the asshat could have found a less critical place to make its home. Kevin has a huge big toe and a nice roomy armpit, but whatever. The good news is that the tumor hasn’t started growing in the brain, but they still have to drill into the bone and make sure that none of the cells have started trespassing in that direction. Evidentially, they can’t just reach in there with a clean set of needle nose pliers and yank and pull. Unlike the operation game, if they touch vital areas close to the tumor, Kevin’s nose will not light up red and an obnoxious buzzer will not alert of a failed attempt to retrieve the wishbone and the next guy gets a turn. It is smack dab in the middle of some pretty crucial parts. It’s complicated.

Following the surgery, he will have to stay in the hospital for three days, barring any complications, which I am not expecting any, so we are going with the three day plan. He will have to stay in Houston so they can monitor him for a few more days and then we get to COME HOME!! He will get to heal and chill for several weeks and then he will have to return to Houston for daily radiation for six weeks. I won’t get into the dirty details of that part of the journey; I am taking one day at a time. Sometimes I am taking one hour at a time. Sometimes one moment at a time…sometimes I get completely paralyzed with fear and worry that I have to kick myself into the next moment.

So now we have come to that point in the story that isn’t about Kevin, me, or even cancer. It is about all of you. Since this all started I have one priority and that is getting Kevin’s health restored. This man has a lot of living to do. He has daughters to give away (if we can get any suckers to take them) and grandbabies he hasn’t met yet and frankly, I am not done driving him crazy with my shenanigans (I have a lot of shenanigans left). I am usually the kind of person who doesn’t sweat the small stuff and when compared to Kevin’s life, worries about medical bills, housing during treatment, transportation, time off of work—that is small stuff.   When I let my mind go there, the small stuff started to add up to a virtual Tsunami and it was about to consume me. And then, like drops from an unexpected rain shower, blessings began to fall. Promises of prayers, hugs from people in Wal-Mart, folks selling T-Shirts and raffle tickets, generous donations of money and care packages and hospital survival packs—so much love and support pouring down. One dear friend even gave her airline miles to fly Sophi down to Houston to be with her daddy for the surgery. What I had perceived as a tsunami wasn’t a tsunami at all. It was blessing tossed into the shallows of our lives, each one making ripples upon ripples of love and we have been deeply touched by every single one.

It hasn’t been easy for us to be on the receiving end of such selfless giving of others. We felt bad, awkward, unworthy, ill-prepared and weak. I received a message one evening from a friend who found herself in a similar position. She reached out to me and said, “People want to help and you need to LET THEM.” She shared so much wisdom and perspective and I pray that she is aware of the beautiful gift she gave me in reaching out. We are humbled, we are blessed, and above all, we are eternally grateful.

 

The Security Breach at Breakfast

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The Security Breach at Breakfast

There was a time not so long ago that the avoidance of national and world news by my sister, Kim, was viewed by me as bordering on irresponsible. I would ask her opinions on a crisis, mass murder, or natural disaster and she would respond with, “I have no idea what you are talking about and I don’t want to know. So, shut up.” Recently, I have started to envy her ability to close herself off from the world that seems to be unraveling. It seems to be open season on human beings killing one another has had me considering looking for real estate under one of the secluded rocks she likes to hide under. The world is a scary place.

One would think that with all the headlines screaming violence, I would be extra vigilant in protecting myself, my family, and my home from the volatile world. In many ways I am. I have educated myself on gun and personal safety and I have obtained my Conceal and Carry permit. I have purchased a firearm I am comfortable carrying, handling, and shooting. While traveling, I try to be aware of my surroundings and not put myself in vulnerable situations. But Sunday morning, when a homeless young man showed up on my porch asking for a drink of water, my heart overrode my brain and I invited him inside for breakfast.

He couldn’t have been more than 20 and he had a heavy pack and a long road ahead of him. It wasn’t just hot; it was MISSOURI sticky-sweaty-humid-as-hell hot. When I went outside and handed him a couple bottles of water he was very grateful and thankful for my offering and as I watched this kid turn back toward the highway, it never crossed my mind that this shaggy-haired tattooed kid with more than one piercing was a serial killer or an axe murder. All I saw was a kid who probably needed something in his belly and so I called after him, “Hey, are you hungry?”

After offering him a seat at the table, I made him a plate of biscuits and gravy, something to drink, salt and pepper, etc. His only request was a napkin which he placed in his lap. While he ate, I asked him where he was headed and if he had any family in the area. I didn’t want to pry. It was obvious this kid had a story, but it isn’t my story to tell. He ate. He said very little.

Things really got interesting when I went to the bedroom to give my husband, Kevin, a heads that I was feeding a wayward stranger breakfast. He was not overcome by the warm fuzzy feeling of helping out our fellow man. In fact, I believe the emotion I identified reflected in Kevin at that moment was: completely pissed off. We had a rare and heated exchange in whisper voices:

Kevin: What in the hell were you thinking?

Me: I don’t know. What was I supposed to do, let him starve?

Kevin: NOT invite him inside the house would be a reasonable thing to do.

Me: I had to invite him in so he could eat biscuits and gravy.

Kevin: You know better!!! I can’t believe you.

Me: ….

 

In all my arguments with Kevin I end up sounding like a toddler, especially when confined to whispers. It is hard to really sell a good point in ‘whisper voice’. Kevin went into full protector mode talking briefly with the young man and seeing him on his way, all the while keeping our .38 in his pocket. He made sure the kid made his way down the highway and proceeded with the following: Complete perimeter check, locked and secured all doors, reviewed the security modus operandi with the kids for locking cars and doors, emphasizing the point that someone had breached security protocol and so we were all going to have to be EXTRA vigilant for the next few weeks (followed by an accusing stare at me for my reckless behavior).

I went about my day justifying in my own mind what I failed to articulate to my husband. Later that afternoon, I asked if he was still angry at me for inviting a potential murderer, terrorist, puppy kicker inside for breakfast. He assured me he was not mad, but I had to promise not to do it again. I was compelled to try and justify my actions and I probably should have just made my promise and kept my mouth shut.

Me: Kevin, I traveled thousands of miles around the world to feed hungry children in Africa! Do you think I could just let a kid starve on my front porch?

Kevin: Of course not, you invite him in and feed him biscuits and gravy. We will see what a good idea it is when he comes back and kills us in our sleep and steals all our shit.

Me: …..heavy sigh.

Kevin is right the world is a scary place and I could have very well invited danger into our home. I appreciate his ability to protect us and keep us safe. I do hope that in some small fashion he finds a way to appreciate the innate flaw in me that allows my heart override my head in some situations. The truth is, I am so caught up in my own crazy life I neglect so many opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others. My focus has gotten so blurred that it has become easier to see only what I don’t have and I have become blind and complacent to the abundance of my blessings. I hear the news, read the headlines, and I become consumed by all the things that separate us. I needed a reminder of the one thing we have in common; at the end of the day, we are all just human beings.

heartPerhaps the good Lord sent that young man to my door to remind me that I need to look for opportunities to lift up others around me. Perhaps, it was God himself coming to the door as a scruffy homeless kid to see if I would give him a drink or turn him away. Truly If nothing else, I can rest easy knowing that had I been chopped up by the biscuit eating guest, I would probably go to heaven (the way I am quick to anger, cuss like a sailor, struggle with envy and pride and occasional slothfulness I need all the help I can get)….AND if it was God testing us, I fed him biscuits and gravy and Kevin covertly held a gun on him while he ate them (I am still winning). We make a great team– I can try and save the world and he can try to save me from the world…and myself…and coyotes….and spiders…and BigFoot… I think this text he sent me says it all:

murder

A Mother’s Day Wish List-Revised Edition

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A Mother’s Day Wish List-Revised Edition

As Mother’s Day approaches, I have been making a gift guide for my sweet children to utilize, in the event they want to borrow money from their father and purchase me a little sumthin’-sumthin’.   The following is the first edition of my Mother’s Day Wish List:

  1. Fitbit Fitness Band (in black)finch
  2. Converse Monochrome shoes-Size 8.5night vision googles
  3. Atticus Finch T-Shirt and the Preorder purchase of Harper Lee’s Novel Go Set a Watchman, to be released in July (the T-shirt will keep me happy until the book release).
  4. Yukon Night Vision Tracking Binoculars
  5. Conceal and Carry Compression Tank (in black)
  6. A very tiny monkey.

After reflecting on the likelihood of my Mother’s Day wish list ever coming to fruition, I decided to make some revisions. As I attempted to whittle the list down and refine the focus to practical customary wishes, it was apparent the list, while authentic, was not representative of the true spirit of Mother’s Day. I dug a little deeper and explored what my true wishes were for Mother’s Day. The following is the compilation of my revisions:

  1. For my oldest daughter, Riley, I hold these wishes for you. I wish you could embrace the amazing young woman you are and hold tight to the beauty of your soul. Each morning, when you wake and you look at your reflection in your mirror, I wish you no longer sought out your perceived imperfections, but instead focus on the gifts God has given you. My hope is that with each passing day, you will learn to love yourself. The many ways you guard you heart serves you well, when done so for the right reasons. Hearts are made to be broken and human beings rarely escape a life without some degree of heartbreak. A heart that has been broken beats on, but a life without love is just a beating heart. May you always know how much of love being your mom.                            Addendum: I wish you would someday in the future reconsider your decision to opt out of motherhood. I cannot be a Nana to a batch of rescued cats.
  2. For my son, Evan, these wishes are for you. Looking back on the long journey that has brought you to this moment, I wish you to know how very proud I am of you. I know that the things that are so easy for others were not so easy for you. I want you to know that the mistakes I made along the way were my attempts at helping you the only way I knew how. There were many people who might have given up on you, but that was never an option for me. It is my hope for you that you will remember to give more than you take, lift others up, treasure the little things, and don’t be afraid of failing. There is something great inside of you, Evan and I pray each day you have the courage to discover what it is, the resilience to carry on when you fail, and the graciousness to appreciate those who help you along the way. Don’t let a day go by without fully knowing how blessed I am that God chose you for my son. Addendum: I wish you would please stop teasing my sweet old Cooper. He is over 70 years old in people years!! Please be kind to my crabby geriatric furry friend.
  3. To my baby girl, Sophi, I wish these things for you. There will never be more minutes in an hour, more hours in day, more days in a week or more weeks in a year. I know of no other who crams more living in a space of time than you. It is my wish that you are able to make the most of each moment and give yourself some space to breathe. The only thing that ever gets in your way, Sophi, is you. It makes me proud that you are motivated to set the bar high, but don’t forget that you don’t have to be perfect. All that you have to do doesn’t have to be done today. It is my wish for you to find balance and understand that if you always stay true to God, yourself, and the people who love you, the life you make will be successful. You are forever and always my bonus baby.                                     Addendum: I wish you would PLEASE put the lids back on your makeup and quit leaving it all scattered on the bathroom counter!! And for the love of all that is holy, you only need ONE towel for a shower

kidsThe truth is the greatest gift is one I have already been given. It cannot be purchased at the store or ordered online. I have been blessed with the privilege of being a mother, and this is simply all I could ever want (except for a very tiny monkey, that would be freaking AWESOME)…and maybe the night vision goggles. Seriously, this nest is going to be empty someday. I really should start planning ahead.

Off Road Parenting-Because Kids Don’t Come with a GPS

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Off Road Parenting-Because Kids Don’t Come with a GPS

evan4Parenting is a journey, of sorts. The moment I would see those fuzzy distorted mugs in the ultrasound pictures, the hopes and dreams of the little underdeveloped gummy bear would begin. Dreams of future scholars, athletes, musicians, or humanitarians begin to unfold. I always dreamt big when my children were in utero. God always had something special planned for dealing with the preconceived notions I had of the children I had not yet met as well as my aptitude for being a mother. In both cases, I have a feeling that my higher power was laughing to himself, because what I believed and what I found to be true were two entirely different things. Parenting my girls has been, at times, challenging. However, parenting my son, Evan, has been exhausting.

He was born early in the morning the day after our first anniversary and he was 8 pounds and 2 ounces of adorableness. His appetite was monstrous and it hasn’t really slowed down much over the last 18 years. As an infant, he was golden. He evan3slept well, ate better and was content the majority of the time. The closer he got to being a year old, the more something seemed amiss with my boy. When he was 10 months old I attended a Pampered Chef with Evan in tow. There were several women packed into a small living room and they were fawning over him and squeezing his irresistible chubby cheeks. Evan began to hyperventilate, gasping for air and wheezing. I rushed him outside into the cool night air and he immediately calmed down and began to breathe normally. When I tried to rejoin the party, he began to breathe rapidly and wheeze with every breath. I was sure my baby had asthma. My baby didn’t have asthma. I didn’t know it at the time, but when Evan was 10 months old, he had his first of many panic attacks.

I had heard of anxiety, but I was completely unaware the debilitating capacity it could have on its victims. There was a tremendous lack of understanding on my (and Kevin’s) part about dealing with a young child with an acute anxiety disorder. We struggled, we faltered, and finally we accepted.

The Struggle:

We wanted him to be like all the other kids. Other kids were busy doing kid things. They were laughing, playing sports, going to school, and doing so without any apprehension. Anything outside of his immediate comfort zone (home) produced a evan6visceral reaction that left him crying, shaking, heart racing, and sick to his stomach. There wasn’t any amount of reassurance we could offer him that would ease his distress. We coaxed, begged and made promises of great reward if he would just “TRY”. If only we had known how hard he was trying.

There has been a long history of trial and error with medications, behavior modification and various attempts of discipline. It is a strenuous plight attempting to fit a square peg into a world of round holes. Regretfully, in doing so, I failed to recognize all the uniquely wonderful attributes of my handsome square peg.

There was a time when I thought we would lose him. His battle with anxiety and depression left us standing in the gap when he wasn’t sure he could make it through the dark valley. I have no way to know the battles that have waged in his soul; I just know I am so very thankful he chose to fight.

The Sometimes

Sometimes, I am accused of letting Evan’s struggle cloud my decisions regarding what is best for him. I have been accused of spoiling him, letting him get away with things I shouldn’t and not being tougher on him. I take complete responsibility for living up to most of these accusations. As evan1a parent trying to discern how hard to push a child who has been so close to the edge, I feel that the judgments of others standing in anyone’s shoes other than mine are simply a reflection of good intentions. I can tell you honestly, that even the best intentions don’t stick when they are thrown at a situation from any distance. In order to get things to stick, you wade out into the muck of the matter.

Sometimes, I want to choke him. He can be a real handful and this has nothing to do with his anxiety or depression. He has broken my heart and disappointed me time and again. His tendency to find shortcuts, expend zero effort and completely leave his gifts and talents unutilized in any conventional sense are things which have caused me many sleepless nights. In those ways, he is a lot like his mother.

The Seasons

evan2Today Evan graduated from high school. There were many days I didn’t think I would see him standing on that stage, accepting his diploma. I have seen this young man through the many seasons of life and now he is standing on the cusp between being a child of progress and a man of promise.   I know the depth of his intelligence and the strength he is capable of harnessing.   I pray that when he looks inside himself that he will recognize the man God created him to be and the courage to see the design through to completion.

Although we have walked through seasons of storms, there is no question the absolute sunshine Evan has brought to my life. His brilliant wit, imagination, and the ability to charm the pants off a rattlesnake have been a vital heartbeat in our lives.   Kids don’t come with GPS and Evan has often been an off-road adventure, but I haven’t regretted one minute of the trip.

To My Son:

  • May you always know you are loved.
  • Happiness is never found in things…true happiness is in the moments we share with one another.evan8
  • Invest your time and love in others, it pays unbelievable dividends.
  • Be quick to forgive.
  • Continue to be kind to those less fortunate.
  • Real men cry, kiss babies, change diapers, open doors for ladies, love Jesus, and hug their moms in public.
  • Always admit when you have made a mistake. Accountability is part of being human and so is making mistakes.
  • Don’t let the world define you.
  • Keep your promises. A man is only as good as his word.
  • Work hard and always give any task your best self.
  • Play hard.
  • Be kind.
  • Look for the positive in every situation and cling to it.
  • Always know that I am so thankful that God gave me a son and that son is you.

All My Love-MOM

 

100 Years of Dreams

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100 Years of Dreams

She is 100 years old and the best thing about my job. She is tiny and spunky and she greets me each morning with a hug and kiss. She is a mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother and a great-great-grandmother. She has lived through times that I can’t even stretch my imagination around. She has seen the metamorphosis of this planet and the good, bad and ugly the changes encompass. On days when her old bones ache and she feels especially tired, she still manages a positive word and a smile.
I was never supposed to be a nurse. It is my younger sister’s gig, not mine. It was a decision of necessity; a consequence of my choices, which are now over half my lifetime ago. Yet, here I am. It is something I consider a genetic flaw in my character–the constant feeling of twisting in the wind. I have carried this feeling of incompleteness for so long that I no longer feel at1larg_fortune_cookie separateness from it, but rather it has become part of who I am. It’s a feeling of knowing that what I am doing isn’t what I was born to do, yet never being able to fully recognize my true calling. It is like chasing the tiny slip of paper from my fortune cookie on a very windy day; knowing my destiny is within my reach, and just when I think I have it in my grasp it slips through my fingers.

 

It is with deliberate effort that I have managed to make career choices, which keep the standard core of nursing (needles, IVs, blood, doctors, drips, monitors, instruments of torture, sick people, wounds, dressings, catheters, drains, etc.) at an arm’s length. I have made every effort to steer clear of the five P’s of nursing (PUKE, PUS, POOP, PEE, and PHLEGM). It isn’t that I am particularly squeamish or that am repulsed by the P’s, because that isn’t really the case. Nurses, generally speaking, are made out of durable, pliable, industrial strength quality material. My construction is more of the duct tape/string cheese variety.
In nursing school, all my classmates would get so excited when they got to take part in Emergency Department traumas or assist in a Code Blue resuscitation in the ICU.  If a CODE BLUE was called, my peers would go sprinting in the direction the distress call, eager to provide chest compressions or squeeze the air into someone’s lungs with the ambu-bag. I would go in the other direction and hide in linen closet or sneak into the newborn nursery and practice swaddling newborns. In my defense, if ever a newborn was in need of a swaddle, I had it covered. It wasn’t that I didn’t, or couldn’t or even don’t do nurse things. I can and I have and I do…it’s just that I am so distracted by that little piece of paper in the wind.
The fact that I found myself working in a nursing home as the assistant director of nursing is one of those things I never believed would happen. It has been nearly five years and there are parts of my job that I like fine and there are parts of my job that I don’t particularly like. But the people–the people I love. Not only have my co-workers and residents carved out a place in my heart, they have changed the very composition of my heart as well. Friendships have bloomed in places I would have never cultivated before I came to be a part of this community. In many ways it is home…yet there is always that little unknown fortune dancing in the breeze.
Recently, I was presented with an opportunity to try something different. There have been many times in my life when God has opened a door and I balked, because I was scared of failing. Fear of failure has had a lifetime paralyzing effect on my willingness to venture out of my comfort zone (i.e. hiding in the linen closet during a Code Blue in nursing school). I stared long and hard at that open door trying to summon the determination to step over the threshold. The fear of leaving my coworkers, residents, and security has me hesitant; but the fear of failing has a death grip on my courage.

IMG_1210She is 100 years old and the best thing about my job. Nearly every day she reminds me how important it is to be kind to others, even though she admits it’s not always easy. At times, she becomes frustrated with the parameters old age puts on her ability to be independent. I often slip away from my office and steal a moment or two with my friend and I always come away with a smile. Today I sat quietly by her bed and watched her sleep. I wondered what a person who has lived 100 years gleans from the recesses of her mind to dream upon. I wonder how many doors God has opened for this precious woman in her lifetime and I wonder if she regrets allowing herself to not pass through any of them. I wonder if she knows how much I love her. It is going to be hard starting my work day without her, but I know this one truth (and I am pretty sure she would agree) life is too short to watch my dreams flutter in the wind.