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If teardrops were diamonds

How wealthy I’d be.

If heartaches were dollars

I’d purchase the sea.

An ocean of sorrow

Is where I now dwell,

Still dreaming of heaven-

But living in hell.

So much betrayal

And poisoning words

No one is listening

I need to be heard.

If you want to judge me

Be careful, my friend

You may find yourself

Being judged in the end.

For you have not walked

The miles I have tread

And you have not felt

You were better off dead.

But your words are lethal

They cut and they kill.

Like a knife in your hand

They stab till I’m still.

And you are a murderer-

Making me bleed.

But not from my veins-

From my heart and my need.

I reach out for comfort

But you walk away

Leaving me lifeless-

I can’t make you stay.

And I find no solace

On this icy ground,

Just hatred and evil

No love to be found.

So shout out your words

And then walk away,

Wearing a smile

As you hurt and betray-

One who loves you

True and deep-

The one whose trust

You could not keep.

And tears will fall

Like freezing rain-

Tender drops of crystal pain.

As I watch you go…

Lonnette

Well, it’s just one more loss in a sea of losses, since I became estranged from my mother. This time it’s a cousin, who was like a brother to me. We were raised together for quite a few years. But he has condemned me with his bitter words, because he cannot see beyond the unyielding stance that he has taken. He cannot understand that I was close to dying, and still am, if this stress continues. Still, he keeps pushing me to do more, and I cannot. I have to save my own life now. That’s all the strength I have left. And I have nurtured my mother in the last 3 1/2 years more than she ever nurtured me in my entire life. I did all that I could, and I was rewarded with unkind words and hurt. It was never enough, and it would never be enough. People who judge are in peril of judgment themselves. You cannot fully know my pain, my struggles, or my sorrow. So do not judge me, for I can look my God in the face and say that I truly did the best I could. If He does not require more from me, how can you? You lost someone who truly loved you–someone who truly cared…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

\\\

Well, that was a cliff hanger wasn’t it? Today my life will change… and then not a word on how it went until now-about 2 1/2 weeks later. I survived it, and my life has changed, but in many ways, the changes are for the better.

Do I like giving myself the shots? No, Double NO!!!! I hate it.  But you do what you have to do, right? Actually, it’s not so much the shots that unnerve me, but the crazy things that occur while giving them. I most often give my subcutaneous shot in the stomach, and apparently, I have lots of capillaries there, because several times lately, I have ended up bruised. (Once horribly.) I can usually tell this is going to happen, when I bleed. Many times when I give the shot, I don’t bleed. (Those are the good ones.) But sometimes, for no real reason, the needle goes in, hurts a little, and leaves blood behind. That’s when I usually bruise. The nurse said that it happens sometimes, and that the concern would be if  it happens too often.  She did not define what “too often” was.

The good news is that the needles are small-both in width and length. I believe they are 31 gauge and 3/16″-the smallest needles available for this sort of thing. It’s a good thing, because I don’t think I would have tolerated long needles very well. (Too many things for them to hit accidentally.)

But the even better news is that I did not have to go on insulin. :) I asked about the Byetta (mentioned in the previous post) and my doctor said that we could give it a try. The benefits? There are 2 that really mean a lot. One is that it is not as likely to cause lows, unless you are taking it with certain medications that contribute to that, and I’m not. I’m on Januvia and Metformin (Glucophage), and those do not cause lows. You could experience an occasional low with Byetta, but not at all with the frequency of insulin. That is a real blessing. Secondly, while insulin makes you gain weight (a known fact), Byetta may contribute to weight loss by suppressing the appetite. While it does not do this for everyone, at least you won’t gain weight, which just adds to the Catch-22 of diabetes.

The chemical action of Byetta (which I affectionately call “Gilly”) was first discovered in the spit of a Gila Monster. (Pronounced “Hee-lah Monster.”  Trust me, you can’t make this stuff up.) It seems that the Gila Monster only eats about 2 or 3 times a year, and scientists thought he had a good thing going. I mean after all, his stomach must empty very slowly. So they somehow translated this discovery into help for diabetics. Byetta is a fairly safe, synthetic version of the lizard spit (which by the way is highly poisonous.) It slows down digestion and the emptying of the stomach, and also helps the pancreas produce the right amount of insulin, while telling the liver not to make so much glucose. It had to be a God-inspired discovery.

But, the bad news…it makes lots of people extremely nauseated. Is there much else worse than death, seriously? But guess what? I didn’t get nauseated!!!!!! God is good. So far, so good. I am only on 5 mcg, and a full dose is 10 mcg, but for right now my doctor is keeping me on the lower dose, since I lost 2 pounds in 2 weeks, and it started to bring my blood sugars down considerably. They are not normal yet, but at least they are moving in the right direction. I started in the 300s, and now I am under 200 for the most part, with an occasional higher reading. Normal is 70-120, with damage to organs possible at 140 and over. So I have a ways to go. Some people get very nauseated when they move up to the 10 mcg. But right now I don’t have to worry about that.

I use a Byetta pen that shoots a premeasured dose, and can be used for 30 days. Sometimes I’ve had bubble problems, but it’s not the same as when you’re shooting into a vein. Still, I don’t like seeing bubbles in the cartridge. Dialing the dose is very easy, and while sometimes the shots sting, often they don’t. So all in all, I’m adjusting. Still, there’s that psychological thing of sticking a needle in yourself. It goes against nature…yes? (At least my nature.)

But actually, Gilly and I are tolerating each other rather well, all things considered.  I mean a girly-girl and a lizard don’t have a lot in common, but we are trying to get used to each other.  After all, I always had a crush on the Geico Gecko anyway…

So here I sit at the computer at 3:00 a.m. in the morning, anticipating how my life is going to change later today. I have an appointment with my doctor around 2:30 p.m., concerning my blood sugar, which has spiked totally out of control for the past several weeks. Being the daughter of an insulin dependent diabetic mother and father has not given me a fair chance in the gene pool by any means.

I have been on oral diabetes drugs for years. I think neither my husband nor I really accepted my initial diabetes diagnosis, because it was not given in the usual way. No blood glucose testing was done. I was just very tired, and not feeling well, and my doctor then put me on Glucophage. As the years played out, and the stress piled on, the diagnosis was confirmed. However, for quite awhile, with oral medication, my blood sugar was fairly well controlled.

But that has changed in recent years, and I fear that I may have waited too long (even now) to care for myself as I need to do. When my dad died almost 4 years ago, my ailing, widowed mom became my focus, and the stress was even greater than it had been through the frustrating years of trying to raise my adopted daughter, with a diagnosis of reactive attachment disorder. Her rebellion and defiance left our household in chaos for 15 years, after we adopted her at age 3. I developed high blood pressure, high cholesterol, acid reflux, depression–you name it. As soon as she was finally raised and out of the house, I inherited the care of my mom. Though she still lived at home, she was my life focus, whether awake or asleep. Frequent crisis calls, terrifying emergencies, extreme low blood sugar episodes, and other constant health problems, left me overwhelmed and exhausted. She broke her right foot, left leg, and left hip all within a few months last year, and I think that is when she also broke my heart. I could not deal with her anymore. She refused to use her walker consistently, she was always in an angry mood, she was very beliggerant while in the nursing home, and then she became incontinent and developed dementia. Her emotional abuse of me increased. Nothing I would do was good enough. As I was preparing her Assisted Living apartment for her, we had a falling out. She called me names, and I gave up. I knew that I could not do this for even one more day. I called on my brother to step up, and provide the little care that she would require in Assisted Living.  But he smelled blood in the water, and went in for the kill. He promptly moved her back into her home, so that he would not lose it as his only inheritance. Paying for the AL would have required the house to be sold, and this was not on his agenda. He told me to “Piss Off” when I inquired about caregivers for her. (Yes, he is a lovely person.)

At any rate, this estrangement has been complete since November.  I changed my phone numbers, and did the only thing I could do to save my own life-I disengaged from the miserable situation. I was about to lose my health and sanity. I could no longer take my mother’s emotional abuse, or her favortism of my brother, who did practically nothing for 3 1/2 years, but purchase and then eat her groceries. He was her Golden Boy, and I was Cinderella (before the ball and the handsome prince.) I was the Scapegoat, and the whipping boy for all her frustrations. I had always been the mother, taking care of her, and afraid to make her unhappy. But I had finally had enough.

To walk away from the situation was not to leave behind the heartache, or the physical consequences. It has taken me the past 5 months to grieve the mother I never had, and to process the anger for the brother who treated me so terribly. Jealousy and hatred were spewed toward me with no explanation, and as long as I live, I will never understand why. He is 8 years younger than me, and I adored him as a child, but never really knew him as an adult, due to his lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, and bad choices. Still I loved him from afar. He has changed that way of living considerably, and I told him many times how proud I am of the changes. But his hatred of me is deep.

So, though I knew I had to get out of this situation for my health and sanity, leaving brought its own stresses. I have cried and grieved these many months, trying to make sense of the senseless–trying to understand why my mother treated me as she did all my life. I have studied Narcissism, and learned a great deal about the dynamics in our family.  I have also desperately tried to make a new existence for myself–to do some things that make me happy, and to spend more time with my husband. Still the worry, stress, and tension of the whole situation has taken its toll. I knew that I could not sweep my feelings under the rug, and pretend I wasn’t affected by all of this. I would have become even more sick then, no doubt.

So I have tried to handle it the only way I know-by walking through it, feeling the pain, experiencing the grief and loss, and dealing with the hurt and anger to the best of my ability. Forgiveness is (for me) a process. I’m not really sure how I have survived, but the heart is stronger than we think. And God gives the grace.  But my health has suffered greatly through the whole ordeal.

So today ,I find myself facing something that I hoped would never happen. I am probably going to have to go on the needle for my diabetes, as the alternative is organ damage and impaired vision or worse. I have come to the place where I am afraid to let it continue, because I am well aware of the ravages of the disease, having watched its effects for years on my mother’s health. Before I was more afraid of the needle–now I am more afraid of the disease.

I am wondering if I am a candidate for Byetta, which is a little different than insulin. About half of the people that go on it suffer nausea, and nausea sometimes makes you wish you were comatose. But Byetta also doesn’t cause weight gain like insulin does, and in fact, may contribute to weight loss, if you can tolerate it, and that’s a BIG if. I will get my doctor’s perspective on it.

So I feel like a lamb going to the slaughter, for whatever the choice for the needle, my life is going to change considerably. And I am familiar with the lows that can occur, having many times experienced bringing my mother out of hers, in frequent frightening situations. I am alone a lot, and fear what could happen, but I cannot change a thing about it. I guess you could say that I am resigned at this point, because I know  that I have no other choice, and I also know the consequences of not dealing with the high blood sugar.

So I ask for your prayers that I will face this with determination, grace, and strength. And that God will take away my fears, and help me through this time in my life. Of course, I pray for a complete healing as well. I need to finally take care of myself now, and focus on my own health and future.

Today is a day that I won’t soon forget… I have to lay it down, Lord…

I’ve been looking ’til my eyes are tired of looking
Listening ’til my ears are numb from listening
Praying ’til my knees are sore from kneeling
On the bedroom floor

I know that You know that my heart is aching
I’m running out of tears and my will is breaking
I don’t think that I can carry
The burden of it anymore

All of my hopes and my dreams and my best laid plans
Are slowly slipping through my folded hands

Chorus
So I’m gonna lay it down
I’m gonna learn to trust You now
What else can I do
Everything I am depends on You
And if the sun don’t come back up
I know Your love will be enough
I’m gonna let it be, I’m gonna let it go
I’m gonna lay it down

I’ve been walking through this world like I’m barely living
Buried in the doubt of this hole I’ve been digging
But You’re pulling me out and I’m finally breathing
In the open air

This room may be dark but I’m finally seeing
There’s a new ray of hope and now I’m believing
That the past is the past and the future’s beginning to look brighter now

‘Cause all of my hopes and my dreams and my best laid plans
Are safe and secure when I place them in Your hands

Chorus
So I’m gonna lay it down
I’m gonna learn to trust You now
What else can I do
Everything I am depends on You
And if the sun don’t come back up
I know Your love will be enough
I’m gonna let it be, I’m gonna let it go
I’m gonna lay it down

Lest you think that all I do is sit around and cry, I would like to reassure you that it is only a small part of my existence. I actually have not cried very much, considering the terrible sadness in my heart. But I do feel the sharp pains of anxiety fairly often.

The best cure for that is to make plans, to force myself to move and get involved in living, when often it’s the last thing I really want to do. I think for the last couple of weeks, I have grieved deeply for the loss of my mom as I once knew her. But I have decided that is a very necessary part of this process. There is no way I could have been so close to her, and not grieved the loss of our relationship, even though it was very painful for me at times.  So I have determined to grieve when I need to, simply because that is inevitable, and I can’t rush the different phases.  I have been almost immobile (physically and mentally) for about a week, but I am working through that, and starting to feel some energy once again. After having been so very sick, as well as so very stressed, perhaps my body is calling the shots, and leaving me with no choice but to be still. I am learning to listen to its wisdom.

But in between the grieving, I will continue to live my life, and try to look to the future with hope and expectation. Making plans is a faith statement that life will go on, and that there is a reason and a purpose to all of it. I read a sign the other day in a shop that said, “Hold Onto Your Dreams–They Are Your True Wealth.”

I am a big believer in dreams, and in turning those dreams into reality, with God’s help. When we lose our dreams, we lose everything. A dream is our assurance that tomorrow can be better than today. So I dream…

I try to keep writing as much as I can, because it brings such a release from sorrow and heartache. If I can get it down on paper, I have processed it enough to feel some relief. And when I am happy, the joy has to spill over through my keyboard or pen. And isn’t that what life is made of anyway…sadness and happiness…sorrow and joy?

Only those who have deeply felt sorrow can truly feel joy. And aren’t love and hate just centimeters apart? There’s not really such a great divide in our emotions–just a block or two. They just feel like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and sometimes I am so weary of it.

I am doing much better with my Collectibles booth at the indoor flea market. I have had more time to devote to it lately, and sales are up. (Of course, prices are down for that to happen. Grin.) Oh well…a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, right?

Seriously, I have decided to add some jewelry to my inventory. That means purchasing locked jewelry cases, as theft is a huge risk in a flea market. Don’t you just hate thieves? Grrrrrr….

So, I’ve purchased 2 medium-sized countertop locking jewelry cases, and also some lovely black velvet display pieces, so that the shine of the jewelry will really “pop.” The cases were ordered via the Internet, and are hopefully on their way. I thought that I  might sell Sorrelli jewelry in one, and Vintage and Fine Jewelry in the other. Lord knows if it will sell, but one lady there is having quite a bit of success with Sorrelli. Sorrelli said there are no additional openings for dealers in this area of the country, so my inventory will have to come from auctions, or other sites that sell Sorrelli. Sometimes I win an auction at a very good price on Ebay, so we will see how that goes.  It will fit right in with my Victorian feel–teacups, teapots, beautiful glassware, and lovely small treasures. (Yes, I know…I’m truly trying to get the “flea market mentality” and forcing myself to throw in some “junk” here and there, as long as it doesn’t ruin the ambience I’ve got going. LOL!) I had been in antique malls for so many years, so it’s difficult for me to grasp the trash to treasure concept, but I am making the effort. You sure can’t sell items at antique mall prices in a flea market, but this is the best place to be right now in our small town, as the owner does advertise and has a year round clientele, not just a tourist season one. So that helps. It seems that when he gets the people in there, I am able to make sales. Think there could be some correlation? (Smile.)

I have also been packing (at a snail’s pace) for another getaway to the ocean. We are going back to the area we visited for Christmas. It is only a 2 1/2 hour drive, and we had a house right on the beach. This time we have rented one where the ocean almost comes up under the house.  (I say this bravely, though it is my husband who is thrilled about that part. I just hope I don’t get seasick. Well, there’s always Dramamine I guess.)  I will write and let you know how it goes while I am there. We are planning to go now at the end of March, then again in September, and also at Christmas. (I’ve never gotten Rob to get away this much ever.) I know he really likes the fact that he doesn’t have to drive so far, or that we don’t have to fly.

And somewhere in there, we are also going to Portland, Oregon. He has an adoption seminar he has to attend, and we are hoping to spend some extra days there, as we have heard that the mountains and the coast are very beautiful. However, he is usually exhausted after those meetings, so I don’t know how good we’ll actually feel after that. (But we will hope for the best.)

I almost never got to travel with him before anywhere, as there was first Chelsea to care for, and then my mom. Once in a while a friend kept Chelsea while we went to the mountains, but that was at the most, once a year. So there is something wonderful to be said about the freedom we now have for the first time in our lives. We are so not used to it. And it seems that it is important to separate yourself from home at times. Just a change of scene can be therapeutic.

So that’s all for tonight. I think you could say that I am feeling a little brighter, and a lot more hopeful. I will try desperately to hang onto that feeling for as long as I can.

Yes, it’s a positive thing to be dreaming and making plans…

A sharp pain echoes through my heart

Before the tears begin to fall.

And in the darkness of my room

I cry.

For everything that’s ever hurt me-

And all the things that ever will,

Alone in the blackness-

I cry.

And the tears become sobs

And the sobs become screams

And the screams become prayers-

That I cry.

Are Your arms wide enough-

Is Your love strong enough-

To comfort this child

When I cry?

Let me hear Your gentle words

Let me feel Your presence here.

Let me know I’m not alone-

As I cry.

But You are strangely silent

And I feel no arms around me

As I call out Your name

And I cry.

I wail until my heart is empty-

Till crystal pain no longer flows.

And fall asleep among the teardrops-

That I cried.

Your angels sang a lullaby-

Your gift of tears- a sweet release,

And You were with me all the while

I cried.            

Lonnette Harrell

Last night I cried, because I thought about my mother, as I often do. I know she must be sinking farther and farther into dementia, and I can’t do anything about it. I love her and miss her, and I wish things had ended differently. (But I guess she made her choice also.) I wish I could comfort her, in that far-away place she now dwells. How can you be angry with someone who is now probably like a confused child?

I cry because I remember her fear of dementia, and her fear of having to live that way. I cry because I tried so hard to care for her and please her, and she called me hateful names (while she was still in her right mind.) I cry because I’ve always loved her, and I just wanted her to love me back.

I cry because I wish that I could soothe her fears, and I can’t. All of this is progressing so rapidly, and I could see it plainly awhile back. We were told that it would not get better. I knew that her care needs were more than I could handle anymore, and I was already 3 1/2 years into total exhaustion, and sick myself. There should be no shame in saying that I could not continue on as I was. I simply could not. I knew that I was going to die.  But my brother didn’t get it. Now maybe he will.

How frightening it must be, to be trapped in your very physically ill body, losing your mind. It seems like some kind of cruel nightmare, that has no ending. She was so afraid of becoming like the people we saw in the halls of the nursing home (where she was for 5 1/2 months of rehab.) I always reassured her, and tried to help her through her confusion, and prayed that it would pass. It really accelerated after her hip surgery. She was never really the same after that, and we were warned by the Ortho doctor that many elderly people are affected that way by the anesthesia.

And now I can’t get to her. She might as well be in a castle with a drawbridge and a moat, instead of a small house in a small town with my angry brother, and a caregiver. She’s isolated. She probably wouldn’t want to see me anyway.

And I could not go back without becoming totally involved in her care, and I am not physically able to do that anymore. I have been very sick lately, and I just can no longer take the stress of her care, or of her emotional treatment of me. 

That is why she was so much better off in the Assisted Living, where she could get socialization, food she loved, and medical assistance and supervision.  There was a Memory Care Unit there as well, if she needed it later on. But my brother was determined to bring her home, and now he is probably overwhelmed as well. (You cannot possibly know what it is like to care for all her needs until you’ve done it. I could not keep up anymore, and the stress of it all was killing me.) I needed help desperately.

I can only reach her through my prayers. I ask God to comfort her, and strengthen her. I ask Him to take care of her, as I no longer can. I ask Him to soften her heart towards me, and let her memories be of our happy times together (and there were quite a few, in spite of our problems.) I ask God to tell her I love her.

But when I can’t take the pain in my heart anymore, I cry…

Well this will be a popourri of news updates, if I have any readers left, after my prolonged (but necessary) absence. I am feeling quite a bit better, though still weak and battling a few symptoms. Some of the most worrisome ones are the side effects of the 2nd antibiotic. I was down to the last 2 pills. I took one of them, and about 3 hours later, in the bend of the elbow, I started swelling  just above the joint. It became very tender, and the other side was tender also, though not as swollen. I was already experiencing some discomfort just above the  back of the knee joint on the right side. It started a few days into the Avelox, and never really resolved itself.  So, being quite a bit concerned, I opted NOT to take the last pill. I wasn’t too worried, since I had already had 7 days of Clarithromycin, and 9 days of Avelox (a quinolone.) The Avelox also made me dizzy (enough that I couldn’t drive) and it gave me a dull headache. Quinolones are associated with some serious ruptured tendon issues, as well as central nervous system side effects. And, as I mentioned before, they seem to be the only drugs my doctor is familiar with.  (LOL!) The Clarithromycin was given by an ER doctor. At any rate, I haven’t had my follow-up appointment yet–it’s later this month. I suffered one whole day of nausea and extreme dizziness after stopping the drug. It was horrible, but by the next day, I was better. I know that when you have an upper respiratory infection, you can develop secondary infections, and inner ear problems that can cause dizziness as well.

The latest news on Chelsea, is that Rob contacted her birth dad (per her request), who was very quiet on the phone. He wasn’t all that excited to be contacted, but Chelsea called him a couple of days later, and at least made a connection of her own. She found out that she has a 16 year old half brother, who apparently didn’t know about her. I assume that at some point, she will visit where they live in Kansas, though there are no plans at this time. (The whole thing was decidedly anti-climatic after the fiasco with her mom this past Christmas.) She seemed a little disappointed that he wasn’t more excited to hear from her, but I think if you consider the past situation, and that he divorced her mom before Chelsea was placed for adoption, then it is clear that he was never very involved in her life from the start. So we’ll see how this one goes. Only time will tell.

Rob had to go over to my mom’s to have her sign some papers for him to resign as POA. He had been working on resolving some Medicaid issues for her, from her time in the nursing home, and needed  the POA until that was finished. He was able to show my brother that I had already resigned in early November. (I just wanted out quickly.) He said that he got a cool reception from my brother, and that my mother was angry and rather snarly-(my word.) He stated that she did not seem happy at all. I assume that her life is vastly different without me in it. I took her shopping, out to eat, and all her doctor appointments, as well as anywhere else she wanted or needed to go. Now I assume the lady who watches her during the day is responsible for those things, while my brother is at work. I don’t really know, but after hearing how they treated Rob, it answers a lot of questions. I figured that if she ever thought of me, it was probably in anger, and that is most likely the case.  I guess they deserve each other-two angry and tormented people. Still, I pray for them, and pray that I will be able to forgive somehow all the hurt that they have caused. Every day gets a little better, and I get a little stronger emotionally. I’m moving on with my life, little by little, and I’m grateful for simple victories.

Another update-my collectibles indoor flea market booth is doing a LOT better, now that I finally have had some time to devote to it. I made a profit both January and February (after paying my rent), and the owner is quite satisfied with that. I have really worked to keep the booth stocked, and looking nice. (I honestly think I would pay to do it, as I enjoy it all so much. I love shopping for merchandise, and decorating the booth, and displaying things. I call my business “Ribbons and Roses.” ) It’s just a small booth, but you would be surprised how much it can hold! It is something that is fun for me, and a great escape from stress.

I’ve been doing lots of freelance writing for pay, and that has kept me very busy. Hey, I’m getting rich and have no time to spend it. (Just kidding.) I’m not getting rich by any means, but it does provide me with some extra spending money, which I greatly enjoy! And it provides me with more writing experience all the time, which looks good on a resume. I just enjoy writing, and always have. To be paid for it is a terrific bonus!

I hope to start writing in my blog more often again, now that I’m feeling better. For now, that’s my life, and I feel a greater urgency than ever to truly start living it…

It’s funny, the last post I wrote was about the fallout of death, and then I just disappeared for a couple of weeks. Let’s face it, it wasn’t the best post to end on, was it?  LOL! Some wondered if I was still around. I’m right here, but I’ve been very, very sick.

In fact, I believe this is the sickest I’ve been since I had pneumonia many years ago. I didn’t have pneumonia this time, but you wouldn’t have known it by the sound of my 24/7 cough. My friend says her husband sounds like he’s “coughed up a lung.” Well, I sounded like I was coughing up both of them, and a few organs as well.  Graphic illustration, but a truthful one. I caught a cold or the flu right before Valentine’s Day.  Then I got bronchitis. I went to the ER very quickly, so it wasn’t due to my delay in getting treatment. It’s just that no one suffers from colds like I do. I rarely ever just have a simple cold, and then get over it. It always turns into the night of the living dead. I’m not kidding. I would have these choking spells 3 or 4 times a day, and I really felt like I couldn’t get my breath.  It was frightening!!!  At any rate, I’m on my second round of antibiotics, and I feel like this thing aged me ten years. I have been soooooooo sick. Seriously, for 10 days I coughed day and night, sitting up or lying down. I never got any sleep.

I don’t even want to talk about the amount of medicine that’s been thrown at me, and I had to make some serious decisions about how much was too much. I thought that doctors were to “first do no harm.” But I think they’ve long  forgotten that oath.

Because I can’t take penicillin or its derivatives, I first got Clarithromycin from an ER doctor. Then my physician gave me her favorite (and the one I hate most) fluoroquinolones. I hate this class of drugs because they have serious side effects, and they seem like the only drugs my doctor knows about.

I have had a complete tear in my rotator cuff (shoulder), and I suffered for a solid year with excruciating pain. Most everyone I know that’s torn a rotator cuff HAS to have surgery. but I opted not to. I was busy caring for my mom, and trying to keep my head (and hers) above water. Well quinolones are famous for causing torn or ruptured tendons. And this can happen, not only while you’re taking them, but several months afterward. So that is risky enough for me, but if the bacteria wasn’t responding to the other antibiotic, I know I probably had no choice.

However, if you take steroids (oral or injected) at the same time you take quinolones, you really up your chances of a ruptured tendon. And guess what? My doctor gave me 2 different kinds of steroids. And guess what again? I didn’t take them. When I take steroids, my blood sugar goes up to 400 or 500 also, and I just don’t feel like going there either. Steroids elevate your blood sugar for quite awhile. Plus the last time I came off of them, I had terrible night sweats and was miserable.

Now along with the 2 antibiotics, a steroid pack,  and an oral corticosteroid (Advair), I also received prescriptions for 2 antihistamines, and a narcotic cough medicine. I was already taking Mucinex every 12 hours as well.  One of the antihistamines was Clarinex, and my insurance would not cover it to the tune of $147.00. (I opted to not take that one for sure.) The druggist said it was the same as Clartin over the counter. 

So when I got home, I had to sort through my goody bag, and decide how much more my poor body could take. Of course, I’m between a rock and a hard place, because I’m still badly congested, coughing and running a fever, so I have to do something.  But quite frankly, I’m mad. This was too much medicine, and too many risky combinations.

I opted not to take the steroids, or the Advair due to the increased risk of ruptured tendons. I took the horrible quinolone antibiotic, Avelox, and have 3 more nights to go. It makes me dizzy and headachy. I literally cannot walk straight, and keep falling around.  I haven’t been able to drive due to the dizziness.

I have taken the narcotic cough med as a last resort, and while it did help my cough, it made me loopy and dizzy also. So I’ve tried to stay away from it as much as possible. Narcotics and I don’t get along, thank the Lord.

I take 9 prescription meds already, and I don’t think my body could have handled the 6 more that I was given. So I made an executive decision. I would take the antibiotic, one antihistamine (my faithful Benadryl) and my Mucinex. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m sure it will be WWIII when the doctor hears my decision, but so be it.

I hate drugs!!!! As patients, most of us know far more about our medicines than the doctors do, and if we read the warnings and become educated (as we should) then they get upset. The drug reps only tell them the good things, and minimize any bad side effects. You can’t reason with most doctors. But in the end, it is our body, and our health that is at stake.

So I’m fighting my way back from the grave, with probably more fighting to come (when I see my doctor in a few weeks for a follow-up.) Let me be clear. I do not trust doctors, and I never will. Too much has happened to me and my family to be naive.  While I wouldn’t want to live without them, I also find it hard to coexist with their drug pushing ways. (It’s all they know in most cases.)

So that’s the scoop.  I do feel some better now, and I hope I feel a LOT better, once I’m finished with this second antibiotic. Say a prayer for me…

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just spend a week or two grieving for a loss, and then it would be done? No more sharp knives in the heart, no more waking up in the middle of the night, no more memories to constantly invade an otherwise routine day. But it seems like grief is the gift that keeps on giving. Attachments are made in this life, and love just naturally occurs. Severing that bond feels anything but natural.

My birth dad died several years ago, and his funeral was on New Years Eve. I had  never really cared for the holiday day before that, and I will never forget flying into our small town airport, having been through a tearful day of “good-byes”, as well as “hellos” to those I had not seen in a long time.  I knew that all I had hoped for in my relationship with my dad, would now never come to pass. We had known each other only on the surface, but had both longed for so much more. Distance and busy lives separated us, and sad to say, we let it. (You always think you’ll have more time.)

Not long after his death (about 5 months) my stepfather died. He had been in my life since I was age 7. Our relationship had been stormy initially, but developed into one of  the greatest miracles of my life. After I was married, and through the future years, we grew closer. He wasn’t one to have long heart to heart talks, but he often said “I love you” for no reason at all (other than the fact that he did.) The day that we found out that he needed triple bypass surgery, instead of being able to correct the problem with a stent, I cried in my car like he was already gone. My husband couldn’t understand why I  took it so hard that he would need the heart surgery, but there was a “knowing” in my spirit. I didn’t feel good about it, and I couldn’t stop crying. (Of course, I didn’t cry in front of him.) He came through the triple bypass fine, but succumbed to hospital acquired infections including pneumonia, staph, and serratia. We watched him dying through many long weeks of gasping for breath on a respirator in the ICU and CCU, and it was like a daily nightmare. Seeing him like that was so painful and heartbreaking, and even though I desperately wanted to have faith for him to live, it was apparent that minus a miracle, he wasn’t going to make it. When he died, we spent some moments as a family in his hospital room, that was eerily silent. No machines whirring, no beeps, no gasping for breath. Just a strange, stark silence.

He looked so big lying there. He was 6’4″, and I couldn’t imagine life without him. When the doctor had told us that he didn’t think Sam would make it, my mother said, (as we walked down the hospital corridor) “What am I gonna do?”

What were any of us going to do? He had represented strength to us, and a knowledge of so many things. He knew the answer to almost every question we had, and as long as Sam was around, every problem had a solution.

But once he was gone, life was brutal for my mom and me. Every day brought new discoveries of things that Sam had taken care of, that now we had to struggle with. Things like dragging the huge trashcan to the curb, wrestling to get groceries in the house after a full day of errands, a myriad of  doctor’s  appointments for my mom, bills and paperwork, house maintenance, applying for home insurance when their former insurance company left town (and being turned down by the first one, because there were too many things wrong with the aging house.)

Sometimes it seemed like all we did was fight to keep our heads above water.  I cried from exhaustion when alone at times, but mostly I just gritted my teeth, and forced my body to function when it was way past its ability. No one will ever know the toll those days took on us. I tried to compensate for what my mom couldn’t do, struggled to make sure that all her medications were filled on time, and taken properly, and was continually concerned about her diabetes, and her unpredictable episodes of low blood sugar that often scared the life out of me, until I could bring her around. Days were spent worrying about her, and nights were spent tossing and turning, with a cell phone always on and by my bed, waiting to proclaim the next catastrophe. This went on for 3 1/2 long years, and I could tell that my physical health and emotional health were declining rapidly. It felt like I was drowning, and I was trying to keep her head above water, while mine was going under for the third time. (I had lost both of my dads in the span of  5 months, and really had no chance to grieve, because there was always another crisis to get through. But no one seemed to see or care what I was dealing with. It was enough to break anyone, and there is no shame in that.)

I cried out to people around me, though honestly our family had gotten so small, there was really no one to cry out to. No one that could physically make a difference, except my brother. His total contribution had been to buy the groceries and eat them, on his lunch break every day. I never felt like I could ask him to do more, or that he would be willing to. My uncle, who lived in Atlanta, was a good sounding board, and seemed to “get” how terribly difficult this was becoming for me. He never made me feel guilty for feeling like I was about to collapse, and even though he is my mom’s brother, he advised me to do what I had to do to get out of the situation, if necessary, to protect my health.

My cousin Jack (who was more like a brother, as we had been raised together until I was 7) also wrote me one letter saying that I could only do what I was able to do. But several times after that, I talked with him, and he seemed to be reluctant to even have an opinion. When things got so bad, before my estrangement with my mom, I wrote him an email and left a couple of messages (reaching out once again), but I never got a reply. (This hurt, as we had been fairly close because of our childhood together.) To this day, I’ve never heard from him.  I changed my phone numbers so my “family” couldn’t torment me anymore, but he has always had my email address, if he wanted to reach me. He was in town for Christmas, but I was gone.  However, I doubt that he will ever contact me again. His loyalties are with my mom and brother.  It seems like this whole situation is fraught with collateral damage that couldn’t be avoided.

And I guess that is what I want to address in this post. Bereavement can cause such stress and strife in families, and the loss of my stepfather is what ultimately led to the estrangement between my mom and me. The stress of her care all falling on me, the responsibility for her happiness and well-being, the pressure to try and do the things that he had done for her, while still having to manage my own family and life, along with my mom’s increasing physical and mental problems, was just too much for our relationship.

There was some troubling history there already, though I had tried to ignore it for so long. But the more overwhelmed and tired I became (with almost no help, and the increase daily in serious problems–a broken right foot, a broken left leg, a broken right hip, and increasing dementia) then the more stressful the whole thing became. She became more and more belligerent  and rebellious. She refused to use her walker consistently, and kept falling over and over again, until I was at my wit’s end.  Now it was horribly affecting my health and well-being also. I spent half my life, it seemed, in the emergency room. Then she called me horrible names after all that I had done for her, and that was the last straw for me. As soon as I got her settled in a wonderful assisted living, my brother took her out against all medical advice, with his eye on inheriting the house. (If she had stayed in assisted living, her house would have needed to be sold, to finance her living arrangements, and he was adamantly against that. I just wanted her properly taken care of and supervised.) So I have not seen either of  them since before Thanksgiving 2008.

As you can see, there is a fallout from death. If you have not experienced it, consider yourself fortunate. It changes the family dynamic–it brings out greed in some people, and causes others to have to bear tremendous burdens alone. Many marriages are strained because of the resulting changes, and people’s lives are in the balance. Everyone can understand the pressures when a widow or widower is left to raise a child (or children) alone, but few people understand the effect that a very sick, obstinate, demanding, angry (and often just plain mean) elder, with increasing dementia can have on a primary caregiver.  For me, the problems were overwhelming, as I predict they will also eventually be for my brother, though he has help during the day (thank the Lord) when he works. I suspect that he does not have to attend every doctor appointment as I did. I had no help at all. 

Sadly, I found myself driving by the house tonight, under the cover of darkness, hoping to get a glimpse of my mother. But all I could see through the open door was my brother, standing at the sink.  I am grieving, because I will likely never see my mother again. I cared for her (and loved her) with everything in me, and tried so hard to keep her alive for the past 3 1/2 years. At times I thought maybe I would die before she did. (I take 9 medications, have diabetes and high blood pressure, and many other chronic medical problems.) Many days are a struggle for me to get through.  I gave up all my friends and social contacts, and really had little time for my daughter and husband. (Even less for myself.)

Many just do not realize how the loss of a family member changes SO much, and not just for the spouse, but for others also. And especially for those left to care for an aging, ailing parent (or small children) alone. I felt overwhelmed every day of my life.

I wish I could say that I felt numb now, or that I never think  of her or miss her. But I can’t.  She is usually the first thing on my mind every morning when I wake up, but then I remember her hateful words, and the despicable comments from my brother. That is when I pray for God to take this pain from my heart, and to help me to forgive.  I still love my mother, but I don’t feel anything for my brother.  I think indifference is much worse than hatred. At least there’s some passion and feeling in hatred.

Forgiveness is just like grieving, I guess. It doesn’t happen all at once. It’s a process. Wounds take time to heal, and anyone who says differently has never suffered heartbreak at the hands of  others. But if God says that forgiveness is possible, then I will trust that He is right.

So I guess I just needed to get that out tonight. All in all, my life is a lot better now, though my physical health is still a problem.  I still suffer from a sleep disorder. My heart will probably ache for the rest of my life over how this turned out, but God can also heal broken hearts. There is a limit to what a person can endure, and my death would not have enhanced my mom’s remaining time here on earth. 

I know that my brother is getting a dose of reality, though she will never likely emotionally abuse him, as she did me (all my life.) When you feel loved unconditionally (as he is by my mom) things are certainly easier to tolerate. But she never loved me like that, no matter how hard I tried to please her,  and I’ll never understand why.

This song is for those who have lost someone that you loved, through death or otherwise…

“The tragedy of life is what dies in the hearts and souls of people while they live.”  Albert Einstein

Isn’t that the truth? First of all, think about when you were a child. You had a sense of wonder about everything, because everything was new to you. Children believe in things that adults often don’t, because no one (yet) told them not to. As a child, we are trusting. We will smile at someone that adults would turn away from. We have not yet learned prejudice, judgement, or fear. Children are accepting. They will be a friend to those that the world scorns.

As a child, we are always learning, always asking questions, and always wanting to know more. There is simply not enough time to understand all we want to grasp.

Children have an innocence–a purity that is like freshly fallen snow.  And in that innocence there is such a freedom, to be who they are. The world quickly tries to steal that.

And think about the magic of dreams. As a teenager, we think we can do anything, be anything. The whole world lies before us, and it’s a time when we refuse to face our own mortality, because we feel completely immortal, and invincible. While it may not always be the wisest thing, perhaps it is necessary to see ourselves this way, in order to propel us forward into all that the future holds.

As a young adult, we do not fear extreme sickness or death. That only happens to old people, and we are vital and strong, full of hope and anticipation–ready to conquer the world.

Love is an ethereal thing, a feeling of pure ecstasy and passion. We think it will last forever, and throw all caution to the wind. We are not measured with our feelings, or careful with our show of affection. We simply blurt out “I Love You” every chance we get, and blow kisses on the wind.

So when did all this change? When did we become jaded about life? When did we cease to believe in childhood fantasies? When did we stop smiling at the outcasts of society, and start turning and running away? When did we stop trusting? When did we lose our sense of wonder and amazement about life? Who took our innocence? When did we begin to fear, and start to focus on our limitations?  When did words of love become fewer and fewer? When was passion replaced with indifference? (Which by the way, is truly worse than hatred.) When did we become cautious and guarded? When did we lose our dreams?

There is a time to grow up and mature–a time to put away childish things, but there is never a time to discard our childlikeness. We cannot even enter the Kingdom of Heaven (according to Jesus) unless we become like a little child.  He said “Of such is the Kingdom of God.”

I challenge you today– don’t let these things die, while you still live. Let a sense of awe remain in your heart all the days of your life. Be innocent and pure, without prejudice or arrogance. Don’t lose your childhood sense of freedom.  Be accepting of those that the world rejects. Crave Godly knowledge, for there is always something new to learn right up until your last breath (and even beyond.) Don’t be afraid to express your love, and do it today, because you are not promised tomorrow.

Believe in your inner strength. You can do all things through Christ, Who strengthens you. He tells us that as our days are, so shall our strength be. Always sufficient strength and grace for each new day–whatever we may face. Do not fear, but walk in faith.

Keep dreaming, keep trusting, keep believing! Keep searching for the Truth with all your heart and soul. Refuse to let these things die.  And while the way may be rough at times (as surely it will be) it will never be said that your life was tragic, because you truly lived each day, and knew what it was to be free…

In a recent post to a blog friend of mine, I reminded him of the importance of keeping a sense of wonder and amazement at the world around us. That’s why it’s so much fun to be with children.  They are not jaded by life; they are full of excitement, because everything is new to them.

As adults, we have to fight to keep that wonder, and to not view life as a continual rerun. Each day can have at least a moment of awe. It’s about finding the sacred in the simple things–the extraordinary in the ordinary. It’s there, if we’ll look for it.

Just because we’re getting older (and who isn’t?) doesn’t mean that we have to lose our sense of amazement at the world around us. Yes, there is the loneliness, pain, and grief, but there is also a blue sky, the wind, and the night stars. Don’t miss them for even a moment.

I was looking at the water one night recently, and the navy blue sky above it, when I noticed just one bright, twinkling star, shining as if even the moon didn’t exist.

There is so much competition in this world, so many ways to feel inadequate or overlooked, and yet we can shine for all we’re worth (like that star), and bring light to our corner of the world. The sky may be dark, but it just makes our light seem that much brighter.

Keep shining!

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