Saturday, December 31, 2011

As 2011 comes to a close, I feel it is only appropriate to do a year-end recap.

Looking back, I would think I'd say 2011 was a great year, considering it was 2010 that Leslie had her cardiac event.  But now that I have gone through all of 2011, I have found that 2011 was likely harder than 2010.

I think any time a family goes through a tragic event, it is only natural that stressors will arise, especially with relationships, and my life was no different.

Jay and I have been together for a long time, and have been through a lot of sadness.  I think our first "loss" that we experienced as a couple was back when we were still in high school and my beloved pet rabbit, Floppsey, died.  I called him and told him to come over.  When he did, I was standing at the sink doing dishes.  He approached me, not knowing what was going on, and I turned to him, eyes full of tears, to tell him she died.  He held me as I cried, never once making me feel silly for crying over a rabbit.

We have been through losses of other beloved pets, his dog, Daffy and my dogs, Lady and Mya.  We have been together through family member and friend losses:  his grandparents, my uncles, a friend we graduated with.  But the tragedy we experienced with my sister really changed me a lot.  I hit the lowest of lows, and honestly, I will say that I was pretty hard to live with.  Yet he stuck by me.  I won't lie and pretend it was all perfect...we had some really rough patches and lots of arguing and bickering.  But at the end of the year, we are still holding strong and more in love than ever.

This year was a year of changes and challenges.  The biggest change was probably my job change.  It was (is!) a huge change in our lives, but we are all adapting fairly well, and I still fully believe that it was the best for me and us as a family.

Financially, we have been challenged.  Money is tight and it is a constant stressor in our lives.  We still struggle with balancing schedules...making sure everyone is where they need to be, homework is completed (Jay does math with Ethan, I do English/writing/creative projects) and due dates are met.

Stating all of that, you might think this has been a difficult year.  Well, it has.  There have been hurt feelings, tears, anger, and resentment.

However, there has also been a WHOLE lot of love and peace.  Do you know how incredible it feels to know that even at your worst you have this solid group of people who forever have your back?  Amazing.  Our kids are happy and healthy, and the light of our lives.  They make us laugh daily, and there is nothing we love more than spending time with them.  Even if we are able to sneak off to have dinner or lunch without them, we spend the whole time talking about them and sharing stories.  We are SO thankful for them.

We also have a nice, small home, two reliable, safe cars, and job security.  Our fridge is full, our beds are warm, and even if the credit card bill is cringe-worthy every month, we are still able to pay it off.  We have plans for the future and we are both so, so optimistic about the years to come.

So with that being said...2011 was no walk in the park, but it was a year of learning and growing.  It taught us just how strong we are and how even when the going gets tough, we keep chugging along.

I have no clue what 2012 will bring.  Leslie's incident taught me that you can never predict what not only tomorrow will bring, but even the next hour.  Nothing is guaranteed.  But I can say that we are ready for whatever it brings.  New memories, new challenges, and new opportunities.

Happy new year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I feel like with my new nursing position, I am sort of on the inside looking out.  That doesn't even make sense, but it does to me, so we'll go with it.

See... for the average person, they go to the hospital for one reason or another.  Get some antibiotics, get some blood drawn, have their vitals monitored, and then someone deems them worthy to go home and they leave. 

Today I was "behind the scenes", and I have to say, it was so fascinating.  I work with gynecologic cancers.  Once a week, some doctors, some lab pathologists, and a whole lot of medical residents get together and review patients.  On one side of the screen is the patients stats: diagnosis, labs, treatment, etc.  The other side is a beautiful pattern of circles in a lovely shade of purple.  The smart people call those tumor cells.  Same thing.

Anyhow, as I sat in on this meeting, the amount of time spent on each case analyzing every little was so amazing!  Sad, yes, because each case was a person who was very, very sick, but all of these people stopped what they were doing to get everyones point of view on the diagnosis and the treatment.

I'm a nerd, I realize this, but I thought it was SO cool.

Then MY job after this is over, is to take notes on what the diagnosis is, along with a possible plan of treatment, and hang on to it, so that when the patient follows up and meets with the doctor to learn of their sad diagnosis, I will be one step ahead and be getting all the ducks in a row, so to speak.

Out-patient nursing is VERY different.  I'm only on week two and I feel like I have learned so much!  ...but I also feel like I have so much more to learn and that's a teensy bit overwhelming.  I'm getting there, though.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

When I was about 16 years old, there was this boy.  We will call him Jay.

Jay was very different from me.  I was pretty quiet and a little could find me on Friday nights just hanging out at home.  Jay, on the other hand, was likely at a party or on a date.

When I started to get drift that Jay MAY have a tiny crush on me, I'm not going to lie...I was scared!  ....but intrigued.

I remember the day.  Spanish class.  We were to go around the class saying how we feel.  Jay said he felt lucky (anyone know the Spanish word for lucky?  Anyone?  Me either) and right after that he asked me to homecoming.

Now I know it would be really lame and cheesy to say ...and the rest is history!   But, my friends.  That is the case.  The rest. is. history.  Jay and I both turn 30 this year.  So we have almost spent more of our lives together than apart.

And I wouldn't want it any other way.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The lights are all out, except the glow of the TV that is playing reruns, and the twinkling of the lights on the tree.  The soft (okay, not really that soft, but roaring would totally ruin my attempt at making this sound serene) sound of the dishwasher is whirring away in the kitchen.  Both kids are snuggled all in bed.  I love the holidays!

Today was wonderful.  Both kids slept until around 8.  Allison was very gentle and slow with opening her gifts.  She savored the moment, I suppose you could say.  Ethan went much faster, but every present he opened, he told us how "he was REALLY hoping he would get this!" which made me smile every time.

Once the gifts were open, Jay and I scrambled to at least make a pathway through the living room while the kids explored their new toys. 

Around 1, we made the drive to Newport for dinner at Jay's Grandma's.  This has been our Christmas day tradition since back when Jay and I were just dating.  By the time we got there, Ethan had settled in with some of his new DS games, and Allison promptly declared that she was tired and ready to go.

I hate to say that we pretty much ate and left but....we pretty much ate and left.  The kids were so tired!  We got home around 4 and spent some time with Jay's parents, which meant MORE presents!

Once everything was opened, we all sort of looked around the room at ALL of the toys (from my parents and sister, Santa, and grandparents) and realized.....we are beyond blessed.  Sickeningly blessed.  Can I say that?  That sounds strange.  But it's true.  Sickenly blessed.  Oxymoron.  The toys were literally stacked in piles because there was simply no room.  It gave me a quick moment to (again) remind Ethan that he was a very lucky child, and there were children right that very moment that had NOTHING.  Not even heat to keep their toes warm.  Their bellies were empty and growling while we were all moaning from being overstuffed.  Sickenly blessed.

2012 is a new year.  New beginnings.  I have already started a little mini-version of accomplishments for the year (no, nothing like lose 20 pounds and eat healthy...that won't happen) but little home improvement type things that we always SAY we are going to do, but we never actually do.  I've said it before, both on here and in person, but my 2012 motto is: give more, take less.  And I fully, fully, FULLY intend to do that. 

If I maintain a handful of faithful readers, you can hold me accountable, okay? :)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The holidays are so magical when you have children!

Allison, who is only 2, knows very, very little about what the heck is going on.  If you ask her who is coming, she will say "Santa!"  If you ask her what he is bringing, she says "toys!"  ....but that is pretty much it. 

Ethan, who is 7, believes in Santa with his WHOLE heart, and it is just the most precious thing, because I am assuming it will likely be his last year truly believing.  He may believe next year, too, but that grain of doubt will likely be there.

I'm not going to lie.  As I did my Santa duties, I looked back and thought, "Eek!  I kinda, sorta, most definitely went overboard this year."  Part of me feels a bit ashamed, as that money could have gone elsewhere, and Lord only knows, this 800 square foot house is already bursting at the seams!  But then the other part of me just enjoys this so much, it's just plan EXCITING!  I love having children to celebrate and I will love every second of seeing their faces in the morning and seeing their excitement as they open their gifts.

Next year, for 2012, Jay and I have been touching on doing a budget.  I hate the word budget.  It makes my skin crawl, because it sounds so...restricting.  So in my money-hungry head, I am looking at it not as budgeting, but more about doing BETTER things with my money. 

I hope all of my lovely friends and family have a wonderful holiday full of peace and love.  Remember it's not about the gifts you receive, but the gifts you give, and that doesn't mean material gifts.

Love lots.  Be patient and respectful.  Don't judge or speak in anger.  Be the same person you are in public and around others as you are when you are alone.  Appreciate every day, every breath, because nothing is ever guaranteed.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Back in September of 2000, I came home from my classes at U of M Dearborn.  I walked in the side door (of my parents house, which was my house, too, at the time) and saw this little ball of black and white fluff. 

"WHAT is THAT?!" I remember saying.

That was a puppy my parents adopted.  That puppy was soon named Mya, and was the a living nightmare for me for about a year.  What on earth could a harmless puppy do to be a nightmare (other than the normal puppy antics?) Well, she was...a puppy!  And at the time, we had another very OLD dog named Lady.  Mya wanted to be a puppy.  Lady wanted to be old.  I resented Mya for being such a nuisance towards Lady. 

A year later, Lady passed away.  I remember the day clearly.  At this point, her kidneys were failing rapidly and she could not hold any food down.  She was skin and bones, so we knew, without speaking, it was time.  When we returned home from the vet, the first thing Mya did was look in all of Lady's favorite spots for her buddy.

It was then that I allowed myself to love Mya.

Mya has always been the biggest (and by big, I mean BIG! ...more on that, later) sweetie.  She loved to cuddle and be rubbed.  She LOVED to be close.  All through my remaining years at home before I got married, I slept every night with Mya.  In fact, we shared a pillow!  Mya was a medical disaster, though.  She had all the proper puppy care, but she was developed Bells Palsey (say wha?!) on the left side of her face.  Due to the paralysis, she developed a chronic eye condition which made her eye put it bluntly...disgusting.  Totally harmless, but yuck.  Throughout the diagnosis of the Bells Palsy, we found out she had some pretty serious thyroid problems, which caused her to be HUGE!  She was such a big ball of dog.  You couldn't help but smile when you looked at her. 

She had the curliest hair.  When it was humid, it curled even more.  She also had what I am assuming was a cowlick right on her nose between her eyes.  When her hair would get long, the cowlick would form what my sister and I referred to as the "rainbow of fun", because it looked just like that...a rainbow.

Mya LOVED to "sing".  Her favorites were God Bless America and I Say A Little Prayer.  You could even just hum the songs and she would immediately "sing".  Also, if you talked real low in her ear or hummed deeply to her, she would make this crazy noise.  I referred to it as her dove impression.  Think "cooo!  cooo!"

Mya was Mya.  My parents worked with her relentlessly to keep her healthy.  Special diets, special medications, you name it.  She just had a bad batch of doggy genes, I suppose.

One thing I can say for certain, though, is that with all of Mya's health issues, it took ANGELS to put up with them.  My mom and dad put up with them.  Spent countless dollars, and loved her all the while.

Tomorrow Mya has an appointment with the vet.  We are pretty certain that Mya will gain her puppy wings and fly to Heaven.  She is very sick and her quality of life is extremely poor.  Prolonging it would be wrong, being that we are her family. 

The vet will come in to my parents house.  Mya won't have to leave.  I can't be there, as I have to work, but I know, with my mom and dad there, that Mya will feel the immense love she has felt all of her years.

I love you, Mya. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Confession time.  I am very judgmental.  If you have been reading for a while, you will know that I have said this before.  That's because it's something I struggle with.

Most might say I am this way because I feel superior to others.  In fact, it's the opposite.  Again, if you have read previous posts, you will notice that I don't trust my decisions.  Ever. 

Anyhow, the point of my post (there is one, I swear).

Tonight I was at the grocery store.  I had just received some news that made me sad.  Followed by a conversation with my sister that was a small slap in the face of the "old" Leslie that I miss.  Bottom line, I was having a pity party for one.  Big time.

So anyhow.  I was gathering my quick necessities: bread, milk, diapers, etc.  As I was checking out, the woman in front of me had a cart load.  She had a daughter, who was maybe 3, who was behaving as most 3 year olds do.  She also had 2 was maybe 6.  Again, behaving as most 6 year olds do, and an older son, who was autistic (this is not my own diagnosis...I heard her say it to the clerk.

Moving along.  Her groceries were all rung up.  The clerk gave her the total.  She swiped her bridge card (oooh, judgment!) and found out that the money that is allotted to her monthly was not put on the card.  She had no idea.  I glanced in her cart.  Like me, she had the necessities:  eggs, milk, etc.  I saw the look of defeat in her eyes.  I watched her ponder what the heck she was supposed to do as her kids ran all around and she tried to rally them up.  I watched as she glanced at her card, then at her kids to try to get them to sit still, then back at her card, and then to her groceries.

I was sad for her.  Our money is very tight, too.  She had about $100 of groceries, and I did not have $100 to give her.  The clerk told her she could void it all out, and she could leave the cart of freshly bagged groceries and they would be restocked.  The girl had no choice but to accept this offer.  I quietly leaned forward and said "Ma'am?"  She turned to look at me, then quickly apologized for her daughter who was bouncing around me.  I looked at her daughter and quickly said, "Oh!  She is not bothering me!  I don't have the money to pay for all of your groceries, but I will help you get some of them, please let me help you." 

Wanna know what she said?  She said "no, thank you." Then I heard her say to the clerk, "I will be back whenever the money is deposited.  It has been a rough day.  My kids are being unruly, I have no one to help me watch them, and some stranger just yelled at me for my son, who has autism, for standing in the middle of the aisle."  This whole while, she was so calm and collected.  Never lost her temper, never shed a tear, just did what she had to do.

She thanked me for my offer, but insisted I not help her, because again, "the money would be there, it just wasn't there yet."

Now my point of this post.  As I was drowning in my sorrows, at first glance, I could have seen her as the single mom of misbehaving kids, paying with her bridge card, and my quick assuming mind, could ASSUME that she was likely unemployed, and here I was, after working hours in a very busy clinic, stretching pennies of my own, and here SHE was, holding up the line.  This wasn't even the case AT ALL but you had to pay attention to notice.  It's not in my natural behavior to take the time for that.  I am constantly in a "go, go, go, and please, get out of my way" mentality. 

In general, I have just felt a huge sense of anger and hatred amongst most people lately.  People being close-minded and disrespectful.  A complete lack of personal accountability and the constant desire to place blame.  Hate crimes are running RAMPANT and frankly, it scares me to death.

I truly believe that a lot of this would be resolved, if people would just stop feeling the need to pass judgement. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

I never want to be that nurse.

You know, the one that sees it as a job and a paycheck, and not about what being a nurse really means.  Let me elaborate.

I was a "floor nurse" for almost 4 years.  Loved it.  Love it.  Will always love it.  There are so many amazing aspects to it, and the amount of learning is endless.  I can bet that every single shift I worked as a floor nurse, I learned something new.  Great, great opportunity.

But soon, I found myself getting burnt out.  I was changing.  It was changing from being my passion, to being a job.  I found that when I left after a 12+ hour shift, I felt as though all I did was pass pills, push narcotics, and listen to lung sounds.  Getting to KNOW my patients?  It wasn't happening so much anymore.  That's not how I ever, ever want to be.  I certainly don't blame my previous job for this.  This was all internal.  It all stemmed from me.  And I am so glad that I recognized it before I allowed it to become who I was as a nurse.

Today I got to job shadow the nurse practitioner at the clinic.  Let me just say....she is AMAZING.  Because I was shadowing her, I also more or less shadowed a physician that I will be working very closely with.  Again, amazing.  I watched them do their routine work:  physical assessments, etc.  But then both of them would sit down, eye-level with the patient, and ask at the end of the exam, "What else can I do for you?"  And when they asked this, they didn't necessarily mean medically...they meant it however the patient interpreted it (which opened some interesting conversations!) ...but the bottom line was, they never made the patient feel rushed, even though their schedules were packed.

It is a part of my personality to always want to go with the grain.  I don't want to stray outside what is considered normal.  I don't want to stand out, or make people upset with me.  I tend to follow the "in-crowd", so to speak.  When word started spreading that I was interested in this position, I was immediately questioned with "are you SURE this is what you want" or "this isn't nursing, this is social work" and my favorite "working Monday through Friday isn't all it's cracked up to be."  In typical Laura fashion, I heard this and shut down, deciding that THEY were right, and I was wrong, and this was a terrible decision.  It took me a mere few hours to realize that I will never know unless I try, and if I allow myself to be influenced by others, I'll never learn and grow.  What is working for one nurse, might not necessarily be working for another nurse. 

With that said:  Here is to new beginnings!  A fresh start and something new.  A clean slate, a fresh mind, and a very open heart.  Change is not always bad.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Leslie and I ran some errands today.  We finished up some Christmas shopping.  Every year, since Ethan was born (Allison, too), she has bought them a book with some sort of special meaning to her, and she writes a message to them.  This was her "thing", and both of my kids have a nice assortment of really awesome books, all with personalized messages on the inside cover.

Last year, she never once mentioned gifts.  Nothing about giving or receiving.  Last year she was pretty literally a blank slate.  Void of all expression and emotion.  The hardest part of the holidays last year with her was the fact that I knew the book giving was something that was VERY near and dear to her...and she had zero desire to do it.

This year, she remembered.  Since she can't drive, she was so thankful that I offered to take her out to Barnes and Noble to get books.  Flash back again to last year:  Last year when we would shop, she would just wander aimlessly.  Now, mind you, she has never been much of a shopper, but she could do what needed to be done.  Last year, again, she was blank.  Empty.  Zero desire.  This year, the first thing I noticed as we entered the book store was she instantly started browsing.  I did have to help her a little, but overall, she did it herself and she knew, without any reminders, that once again, this was her tradition with my kids, and she was carrying it on.

I love routines and traditions.  Christmas Eve is my very favorite day of the entire year, all because of our family tradition.  This year, I am so, so thankful that our traditions are continuing on.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

So last night, Jay and I were sitting on the couch together, and I was posting my extremely enlightening post about orientation.  Jay noticed what I was doing and asked, "how many people read your blog, anyway?"

Hm.  Good question.  I have no idea!

Blogger offers a counter, but I know there are TONS of sites that spam, so while it may LOOK like you have readers, it's actually just adware and spybots roaming the web.

So!  My question.  How many people DO read?  You don't have to post your name, but it would be kinda interesting to get a general number and location (according to blogger, I have readers from all over the world, which I highly, highly doubt) ...but if that is actually the case, let me know and I will send you a present.  No, really.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Allie Jaye got her first REAL haircut today! (I've cut her bangs a few times, but I'm not counting that)

This was at the same place Ethan had his first haircut at over 7 years ago.  They are fabulous.

Anyhow, I loved Allison's hair, but the mullet was getting out. of. control.

So here's some pics:

She has mastered the fake smile with perfection. 

The back.  Now I realize it doesn't look all that bad.  But the length of the back was NOT the length of the sides.  Not even close.  Hence my reference to it as "beautiful blond baby mullet."  And just in case you are a very good observer, she is most definitely wearing "backpack" from Dora.


My salon doesn't give me goldfish crackers and let me sit on a wooden airplane.  What the heck!


Last day of orientation today!  Such a relief.  I hate to complain, because it is easy money, but I don't think they organize the material very well.

I mean, I have been a nurse now for 4 years.  Out of the 20 or so people in orientation, I probably had the LEAST amount of experience, yet out of the 4 days, pretty much everything was review. 

For example.  On the power point presentation on patient safety, one of the first slides said this, "A fall is defined as an unanticipated change in body position in a downward motion."

Well I'll be darned!  I thought a fall was when your body suddenly (and unexpectedly!) began to levitate in midair. 

But again...whatever.  It's done,and next week I start the real deal and I finally get to report to the clinic.

I am so excited!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

History lesson time!

Jay moved into this house (the one we currently live in) in August 2002.

We did not live together until our wedding night (all together now, "Awwwww!!!!")

When I moved in in June 2003, our house was, in every sense, a bachelor pad.  Complete with a Keg-o-rator.  No, I'm not joking.

My sweet mom tried to help me make the house look more homey, and bought a bunch of cute items to help decorate.  One of the things she bought was a little miniature manger scene.  I loved it.  The figures are no more than an inch tall.  I have displayed it every Christmas for the past 9 years, and I always put it in the same spot:  right on a shelf (that is at kid level, mind you) in the hallway.

Thankfully, Ethan never broke it.  He played with it, but it always ended up back on the little ledge intact.

Then came Allison.  Allison played with it, too, and while she never SEEMS overly aggressive with it, I can't help but notice some changes.  Here, I'll let you look and see if you can see what I mean:

Now we've got the farm animals.  See the little goat (mule?) over there?  And one of the shepherds is holding a little lamb.  We've got the three wise men and their strange little gifts (I bet Mary would have preferred bottles, diapers, and wipes, but whatev)  We've got an angel in pink, praying over sweet baby Jesus (you can't really tell from the pic, but there is a halo and wings on her) and we've got Joseph, looking at his new little bundle of baby boy goodness.  But....where is Mary?  Anyone see her?  Was baby Jesus colicky and she needed to go out with her holy girlfriends for a while?  Or maybe she was laying down somewhere cause Lord knows (haha!) that after delivering a baby, your body is kind of...gooey.  I don't know.  All I know is she high-tailed it out of there and I hope Joseph doesn't go after her for child support.  And who invited the hedgehogs??!
So this past week, I have been attending orientation for any new Henry Ford new hires.  Except I'm not a new Henry Ford new hire, I'm a transfer, but apparently that's beside the point.

Here is the dress code for these off-site training sessions:

No denim, no artificial nails, no crocs or open-toes shoes, no bare legs, no exposed tattoos or piercings, must wear dress pants/slacks, skirts/dresses acceptable, shoes should compliment clothing, skirts no more than 2 inches above the knee, clothes should be neat, pressed, in good and appropriate size, yadda yadda yadda.

Now don't get me wrong.  I realize the need for these (terribly outdated) necessary (what is it, 1950?) dress code rules, because you can't go out in public without seeing someone in pajama pants and/or slippers, looking as though they just rolled out of bed (or the bar) but it still makes me kinda giggle.

So!  When I went to get dressed this morning in my (neatly pressed) dress pants and my (complimentary to my clothing) brown flats, I realized it was rainy.  Rainy weather + flats = cold feet.

My way of handling this predicament?
                                                                Oh yes.  I did. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In my last post, I brought up Chris Medina.  I don't know if anyone looked him up on youtube, but if you did, you likely came across several heart wrenching, amazing videos about Juliana.  You might also have come across Juliana's mother's blog.  I found it.  And by reading it, I found out she wrote a book.

It only seemed natural that I get this book for Leslie (which I did).  It came in the mail today.  My intentions were to give it to her for Christmas (which I still intend to do!) but first I wanted to read it.

I sit down to read it, and the similarities nearly took my breath away.  From the frantic phone calls they all went through (we did, too) to sitting in the "special" room in the ICU which everyone knows is often used to give a family tragic news.

But then I read this:

"I spent the next several days writing a journal for Juliana.  I just knew that she would want all the details when she woke up.  She was going to feel so bad for all that we went through.  She would also want pictures, though she would have been mortified if I showed them to anyone before she saw them."

Followed by:

"That night, Juli's adoring fiance Chris and I slept on and off either in her room or on the couch in the waiting room.  Since we expected her to suddenly wake up at any moment, leaving was never really an option because we needed to be there when she woke up."

Oh my God.  Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.

It took me back.  Literally, that is EXACTLY what we experienced.  What we thought would happen.  And what didn't happen.

I remember asking my parents permission to take pictures of Leslie on the ventilator.  My dad said he was thinking the same thing, so that night that I stayed the night with her, I took all kinds of pictures.  Like Juli's mom thought, she was going to want to see them!  ....or not.  But we didn't realize that at the time.  After I took the pictures, I told my parents (just like Juli's mom) that I would not post them on the blog.  Again, because I didn't want to embarrass Leslie.  I wanted her permission to post such intimate, sensitive pictures.  A few days later, my mom asked why I posted them when I said I wasn't going to.  My answer was something along the lines of wanting our faithful readers and those who loved Leslie so, so much, to see just how serious this situation was.  In my head, though, I was thinking, "Because she isn't going to wake up like we thought she would.  She isn't going to look at the pictures and think, "Wow!  That really happened!" None of that was going to happen, and I knew it."

It's been a little over a year for Leslie.  It's been about 2 years for Juli.  I'm not reading the book.  Those two quotations I used weren't even a part of the actual story.  It was a part of the preface.  I'm choosing to not read the book because it's too hard.  To similar.  I don't like to cry, and reading those words didn't bring teary eyes, they brought sobs.  I don't want to do that.  And anyhow, after reading those two excerpts, I think I already pretty much know the story.

(Quotes are in the book, "For Juliana, Almost to the Almost, One Penny at a Time" by her mother, Janet Spencer Barnes)

Friday, December 9, 2011

So tonight, as I was browsing the internet (who, ME?!), I came across a link about a man named Chris Medina.  He auditioned on American Idol.

I don't really watch American Idol, so this was the first I  had heard of him and his story.  He was engaged to be married to a beautiful girl named Juliana.  In October 2009, Juli was in a terrible car accident, which resulted in a traumatic brain injury.

This type of brain injury is different from Leslie's.  Leslie has an anoxic brain injury (meaning her brain was damaged due to lack of oxygen).  It's pretty clear that Juliana's physical injuries are way more severe than Leslie's, but regardless, the story is similar in that it involves two young, beautiful girls that had their whole lives ahead of them when it was all disrupted.  Taken away?  No.  But definitely disrupted.

It just makes me again ask WHY. 

You must search on Chris Medina and watch him sing.  Grab a box of Kleenex first, though.  Don't say I didn't warn you!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Let me tell you a story.  No, you don't have to pull up a chair.  It's fairly quick. 

So about 2.5 years ago, Jay, Ethan, myself, and fetus-Allison were killing time before we were to go bowling with friends.  To help pass time, we figured we'd stop at Petsmart to let Ethan look at the fish.  Once we had our fair share of fish-looking, we stopped to watch the puppy training class.  Well, just past the puppy training class, sat a card table with two elderly people sitting there.  On their lap, they had a Beagle.  He was cute.  I was pregnant and hormonal, and apparently lacking a bazillion brain cells, because I figured this was the PERFECT dog for us to adopt.  $175 later, he was ours.

Would you believe that this little furry dog, (and when I say furry, I'm not kidding...he sheds like a freaking MANIAC!) caused me major anxiety?  For one, our current dog thought he was the worst new family member EVER.  She H-A-T-E-D him.  She would bark and growl at him with every move he made.  His first night in our home, he whined the entire night, so I had to lay out on the couch with him, all the while thinking to myself....WHAT THE HECK WAS I THINKING?!!

But.... here we are, almost 3 years later, and Logan the Beagle is still a part of our family.  I still wonder WHY WHY WHY, but he's not going anywhere...he's good with the kids, he poops in the basement, he gets along with other animals, he has chewed up my brand new couch, and he hardly ever barks.  What's NOT to love?

Anyhow...there was a point to this story.  No, really, there is.  Bear with me.

The point is, I am one who HATES disruption in my life.  I like things to always stay the same.  No changes.  Adopting Logan was a HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE disruption and I had a very hard time adjusting.  It's not just adopting him that was difficult.  It's ANY change...big or small.  I don't like to change.  Period.

But what's funny about that (not funny haha, more funny weird) is that this HUGE change I made recently with changing my job, just feels so RIGHT.  I am not scared.  I am not wondering what the heck I was thinking.  I am not worried that it won't work out. 

What is also funny, is that the nurse I orientated when I worked on 6 is the one who helped me get this job.   I remember the first time I met her.  I instantly liked her and I have always felt a connection with her.  When we hang out (which isn't very often) it just feels so comfortable, like we've been friends for forever.

I am SO ready for this.  I just know this is going to be a very good thing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My mind is whirling with thoughts, but I literally cannot get it down in my blog without it being super confusing and jumbled.  There is so much to say, I just can't organize my thoughts and say it.

Every week I take my sister out to lunch.  Usually I just pick her up, we make small talk through lunch, then I take her home.

Today was different.  I could see something was heavy on her mind.  Just as I suspected, she started to talk to me, but then stopped short as her chin began to quiver and she blinked back the tears.  Me being the sister/nurse/but.mostly.sister said "Just talk!  Who cares if you cry?"
...and so she did.

These are thet topics that are breaking her heart:

"Why me?  All the tests show my heart is perfectly why did that happen?"

My response to that was, "I don't think we will ever know."  Now I have only been a nurse for about 4 years.  I never did any critical care nursing, so the patients I see aren't nearly as ill as my sister was.  But MY take on it is that she had a clot in her heart which caused the arrhythmia, which caused the cardiac arrest.  They resuscitated her, and her labs showed cardiac damage.  Several days later, after she stabilized, we found she had lots of clots in her leg and lungs.  Once she was on aggressive Heparin therapy along with Coumadin, things started to heal themselves.  This could also explain why then they finally got around to testing her heart through a cardiac cath and cardiac MRI, everything was perfectly normal.  Of COURSE it would be by that time!  And I don't doubt for one second that it will remain perfectly normal.

"I don't know if CPR was done right.   I'm on a message board for people with brain injuries, and they are doing WAY more than I am right now, and their "down time" was way longer."

My response:  Maybe.  Who will know?  Humans are humans and they make mistakes.  29 year olds don't go into sudden cardiac arrest very often.  When the EMS arrived on the scene, they had no idea what was going on, but they didn't hesitate a single moment.  You were tubed on the scene, and then re-intubated at the ER.  Maybe it wasn't done perfectly, but they saved your life.  The fact that you didn't die that day still gives me goosebumps.  The odds were SO AGAINST you and you beat them.  It's unreal. 

"I identified myself by my jobs.  I worked all my life.  The only time I left a job was when I was moving up.  That's just what I did....I worked"

My response:  Those days aren't done.  Do you even understand how far you've come in a year??  This time last year you could hardly shower alone.  You couldn't carry a conversation and your memory was literally so bad, you would just repeat yourself over and over again.  It'll happen.  It just hasn't gotten there yet.

"I wrote a list.  It's called "Ways to Make George Love Me Again."

Me:  What makes you think he doesn't love you? (insert Leslie crying)  He doesn't say that!  He never makes me feel like he doesn't love me.  But LOOK at me.  I offer nothing to our family anymore.  I was the worker.  We had plans.  We wanted to travel to Europe.  We KNEW we were going to travel to Europe.  And now our conversations consist of  "Do we have enough money to order pizza tonight?" (crying ensues) And at this point, I have nothing helpful to add.  It was a heartbreaking moment.

"I constantly have to remind myself, "I am here, I am alive" scares me to think that when I was at school that day, I was also "here and alive" and then one second later I was gone". 

To which I reassured her that she was here, she was alive, she was progressing way faster than any of us could ever predict, and she is doing amazing.

"Someone sent me a card, and there is a part of it that I can't get out of my mind.  It says "God had other plans for you.  I'm not religious, but that saying gives me a lot of peace.  I just wish I knew what God's plan was."

So do we, Les.  So do we.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

One of my biggest fears for my children is that someday they will get hurt.  No, I'm not talking about bumps and bruises.  I'm talking about emotional pain.  Because frankly, I think that kind of pain is WAY worse than physical.

At 29 years old (almost 30...eek!) I still can't seem to balance relationships perfectly to avoid hurt and pain.  Deceit and lies.  I know it sounds naive, but I thought that type of thing only happened when you were a child.  But no, it clearly carries into adulthood, and it doesn't get any easier.

I remember a time not long ago, I was with Ethan at a birthday party.  His "best friend" was there, but his best friend had another best friend who was also there, and the two of them were inseparable.  I remember the sad look in Ethan's eyes as he experienced the saying "two is company, three is a crowd."  My Ethan was the "three" in this scenario.  It took everything in me to not swoop in and save the day.  Doing that would serve him no good.  This was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the dynamics of relationships.

Just recently, I had a friendship that I thought was awesome come to a close.  I was sad about it.  I AM sad about it.  But the more I hear, the more I am starting to realize that this is for the better.  Doesn't make the pain any easier, or the desperation to know all the answers as to where it all went wrong. 

Thankfully, as my children will learn and I already know, there will always be those relationships that remain loyal.  For me, it's knowing that my parents, sister, husband, and a few close friends that I know will forever have my back despite my flaws and shortcomings. 

Thank God for that.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

When we left for the night, the only time we ever left her side, we had no clue what the night had in store for her.

My mom asked me just the other day, "When we left her that first night, did you realize that she might die that night?"  To which I replied, "Yes.  Yes, I did."

I knew her odds of survival were slim when I first got the news.  In fact, I remember exactly where I was on Fort Street when it hit me:  "This is bad.  This is very, very bad."

So with Thanksgiving being tomorrow, it is cliche and expected for people to express what they are thankful for.  Last year on Thanksgiving, I had our family go around the table and say what they were thankful for, but the rule was, no one could say the obvious:  That they were thankful for Leslie's life.  Because that was a given!  So here is my mini-list of things I am thankful for:

  • I am thankful for the bond I have with my sister.  We are more than family, we are best friends. 
  • I am thankful for a kind, patient, and forgiving husband who has been by my side through some God awful tragedies in my life
  • I am thankful for my parents, who have told my sister and I for as long as we can remember that they will love us unconditionally.  And they do.
  • I am thankful for my in-laws for helping us out so much so Jay and I can both work full-time and keep our sweet babies out of daycare
  • I am thankful for teachers, who do such an amazing job teaching my son.  We have been so blessed with wonderful teachers and I am constantly in awe of their patience and creativity
  • I am thankful my husband and I have full-time jobs that allow us to be with our children AND provide for them
  • I am thankful for our humble, small, cozy home that always looks "lived in".  It's not perfect, but it's ours.
  • I am thankful for my two dogs.  They drive me INSANE, but they are so sweet and loving, and watching my kids play with them is the cutest thing EVER
  • And last, I am thankful for Jersey Shore, Desperate Housewives, and America's Next Top Model.  Hey, you can't expect me to be all lovey-dovey all the time...I gotta stay real!  Fist pump!

My "thankful" list could go on and on, these are just a few.  I hope everyone has an amazing Thanksgiving.  Appreciate your family and tell them you love them.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Seven some years ago, when Ethan was merely a few months old, I was diagnosed with post partum depression and anxiety.

Because I am a self-proclaimed doctor, though, I knew it wasn't post partum depression.  It was just that Ethan gave me the reason to tell the doctor about things I have been struggling with since middle school.  Yes, middle school. 

At that point, I had a 4 month old that needed his momma, and I needed to be the momma he deserved, so I forced myself to see a doctor.  Since then, I have been on and off antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications until the present time.

Between 2004 and now, I spent a good several years off any medications, and did very, very well.  And then...IT happened.  By IT, I mean the sister crisis.

I know I don't have to go into it at all, because anyone who reads likely knows (and if you don't, go back in the archives to September 2010) but it clearly rocked my world.

Initially, I just took things as they came.  I approached each day with a positive attitude.  It wasn't until she came home that the depression hit, and hit hard.  There were days that had I not had a job and children to take care of, I never would have got out of bed. 

Since then, I am back on medication, which I can say with certainty it has saved my life, but things now are harder than they have ever been.

Antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds only take you so far.  I think of it like this:  Every single day, there is a huge storm brewing inside of me.  Some days I am more powerful than the storm.  Other days the storm overpowers me.  Most days, the storm is in control.  Even on the days that I feel more in control, there is no denying the storm is in the background.

I pray that some day I will feel better and be able to fully go off medications, but I know that is not going to happen any time soon.

I have had people tell me that I need to be hush-hush about my mental stability, because I am a nurse.  To that, I say with a firm NO WAY.  I'm human and I have feelings just like every other human.  Everyone responds to things differently, and everyone is wired differently.  Unfortunately for me, I take everything very hard.  On the outside, I appear happy and calm.  On the inside, I am forcing myself to function.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not a walking suicide risk.  I have an amazing family, an extremely supportive husband who somehow puts up with me and my emotions, and two children that literally make me thank God for giving me another day with them.  I am in a profession that I have absolutely no doubt at all was made for me, and I have a nice circle of friends that I know I can turn to at any time.

I'm just sharing this because it's a part of me.  It's a part of my day-to-day life nowadays.  I still do what I need to do, and I always feel so accomplished when I fight the storm and win.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"I never saw you leaving 6!  I thought you'd be a lifer!"  .... if I had a nickel for every time I heard that phrase or something equally similar since I announced I was leaving, I'd be rich!
I agree with it, though.  I never saw this coming, either.  I love that floor.  I love the experiences it gave me as a new nurse.  I truly feel it is one of the VERY best floors for a new nurse to start out on, as we take care of oncology patients, hospice, and general medical patients.  You learn SO much.

I don't even recall the exact time that I started scoping out other positions that were out there.  Like I said, I never had it in my head that I wanted to leave.  The 6th floor was my home away from home, and the 6th floor staff was my family when away from my family.  Why leave that?

....but I can also say that I never predicted my perfectly healthy sister to fall critically ill and end up with a forever life-changing diagnosis.  I never predicted becoming so emotionally unstable that I would need to be put on antidepressants just to be able to get out of bed in the morning.  I never knew I would learn in a VERY hard way who my true friends were.

When I interviewed for this position, I went into it thinking I would turn it down.  Then I finished the interview and decided I wanted the position.  Then I worked another shift on 6, and decided 6 would still be my "home", and I wasn't ready to leave.

But then I did some soul searching.  I thought about ME and my health.  ME and my needs.  Sure, there is comfort staying in a place that is close to home.  The only place you have ever known in your professional career.  But that is not what life is all about.

When people ask me if I am scared, I say no.  Because I'm not.  People ask me if I'm sad to be leaving, and I say no to that, too.  Because I'm not.  Leslie is proof that life changes.  It's meant to change.  It's meant to make you feel a little uneasy, hesitant, and even scared.  It's not EVER going to be comfortable and perfect, and I learned the hard  way that if you expect that out of life, you will be very, very shocked when that moment comes that proves otherwise.

I am excited for this next chapter.  I am excited to learn and grow as a nurse.  I am excited for ALL of it.

Zero regrets here.  Bring it!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

She was 80-something and extremely forgetful.  She LOVED to talk, and most of her stories were sad.  Like how her husband was an alcoholic and died when she was in her 30's, and her daughter died last year of a heart complication.

She said she felt mostly taken advantage of by her family, and all she ever really wanted was to be loved. 

She truly did have a heart of gold, because she was always worried about everyone else.  If you shared a story about a hard time in your life, it would bring her to tears.  She cared.  A lot.

She was restless and didn't like to sit still, so I would take her for walks up and down the hallway.  We'd stop at the end of the hall where there is a waiting room that overlooks the river.  We'd sit, and she'd chat some more about her life. 

No one came to visit her and no one called.  When the doctor discharged her, it took 2 days to get someone to finally come get her.  She knew that wasn't right, and it hurt her, but she loved her family so much, despite their lack of interest in her.

Imagine my suprise, when, during one of our walks, a man dressed completely in a clown costume, should come to the floor to visit a friend!  I found this to be the perfect opportunity to cheer my 80-something year old friend up.  I introduced her to Bobo, and she was practically giddy.  It was adorable.  She smiled, and asked him to make her a balloon creation, so he made her a flower.  She loved it.

As we were about to leave to go back to her room, she leaned in to Bobo, I assumed to say "thank you" or maybe "goodbye".

No.  She said, "Are you horny?"

Oh yes.  She did.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Kind of ironic how after my little melt down/pity party the night Ethan broke his glasses (and it wasn't JUST the glasses that sent me over the edge.  It was a bunch of little things that all added up.

The next morning, on my way to work, I bent down to pick up one of my favorite Joyce Meyer books to read on my lunch break, and next to it was a slip of paper that read:

"Whatever your sin or your personal situation - give it to God.  Relinquish it.  Trust Him with it - for God is a good God, desiring to do good in your heart and life.  Give your battle to the Lord, whatever it is.  It is His to win.  Trust Him, serve Him, follow Him, believe in Him.  He will succeed for you, within you, and through you."

I have no idea where this slip of paper came from.  The only thing I do know is it is obviously cut out of something, and the something it was cut out of is a bulletin from a church that I haven't attended in about 8 years.  I have no recollection of cutting this out, let alone, saving it.

Do I believe in "signs" like this?  Why yes, yes I do.

Now you wanna know my thoughts on it?  (No, no, you don't)  ....tough!  Muahaha!

The whole idea of "giving your troubles to God" is not something new amongst Christians.  It is something that is said VERY often.  Whenever I think this, I always have this mental image in my head of God standing before me and little ol' me, arms overloaded, dropping my problems at his feet and being relieved on the stress and the weight of the load.

After my SUPER sobbing moment I had the other night, and it wasn't just over the glasses, it was other things, too.  Drama, cattiness, and gossip, finances and making ends meet, etc. I imagined God saying "Dude, you can KEEP those problems!  I ain't even goin' there!"  (Yes, that is how my God talks...don't judge)

But alas, regardless of whether or not I thought God wanted to help carry my burdens or not, I woke up the next morning, and gave it my all.  It would be nice to say it was a wonderful 12 hour shift with wonderful patients who brought me tons of doughnuts, but alas, it was not.  But still, I got up, did what I was supposed to do to the very best of my abilities, and remembered this:  Trust Him with it - for God is a good God, desiring to do good in your heart and your life."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

God grant me the patience...

Let me tell you a little story.

Two days ago, I took my 7 year old to the eye clinic to pick out his glasses.  The children's selection was very much aimed at suckering in children.  Like, for instance, having a giant display featuring Spongebob, complete with glasses that had a tiny little Spongebob sticker in the corner of the lens.  My 7 year old was like flies on honey...he HAD to have them.  And OF COURSE the Spongebob glasses were more expensive than the other, generic types.  I kept telling him, the Spongebob face on the lens was JUST a sticker, and that they were not on the actual glasses (I bet you see where this is going).  I pulled multiple frames for him to try on.  Yes, I let him try on the Spongebob ones, but he also tried on others.  In the end, I allowed him to get the Spongebob brand, because I know how he can be, and I wanted him to actually wear the glasses.  Throughout this whole "trying on" process, I probably reminded him roughly 1,000,000 times that the sticker would NOT be on the actual glasses when we picked them up. 

Today we picked them up.  He immediately noticed there was no sign of Spongebob.  He gave me the death glare.  I shrugged and again gently reminded him of what I told him a couple days ago.  I told him how nice he looked, and he sulked his way out of the clinic.

On the drive home, he continued to sulk.  I kept my cool.  I hear a little "click".  Oh yes, he did.  He broke them.  Right in half. 

Angry is an understatement.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

As soon as I got to the floor this morning, I found out I was getting a transfer from ICU. "Great..." I thought to myself...just how I wanted to start my shift...with a new patient.

This patient was elderly.  She came to the hospital originally because she fell at home and had some fractures in her back.  Along the course of her hospital stay, she developed pneumonia, which turned into sepsis, which quickly turned into respiratory failure, ventilator dependent.

When patients become hospice or full no codes, they come to my floor.  She was my patient. 

Her vitals were stable.  She was mostly nonresponsive, and she just had that "look" that made me think the end was coming, but she seemed okay.  I just kept a close, close eye on her.

Around lunch time, a family member came in.  This family member was the one that was the most involved with her care and medical decision making.  You could see the exhaustion in her face.  When I informed them the hospice nurses would be in in about an hour to meet with them, she burst into tears.  She said she lives several hours away, and she hasn't been home in weeks.  She was tired, stressed, and most of all, she did not want her loved one dying alone, and it appeared that was going to be the case.

As we stood around the patient, quietly chatting, the woman, who had been NOTHING but super sweet to me, looked me dead in the eye and said "This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do.  I am an RN, too, so I know how this goes.  Now I have to leave to go back home, while she is hanging on, and let her die alone."

My response?  "Ma'am, I've BEEN there.  I've been on your side.  My tragedy engraved it into my heart and SOUL that NO patient is EVER JUST a patient to me.  They are someones mom, dad, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, grandmother, or grandfather.  My job can EASILY turn into "just a job", but I assured her, promised her, looked her straight in the eyes and said, "I promise you.  I get it.  She will not die alone."

It was then that the pastor showed up, so I politely stepped out so they could pray over her.  About 5 minutes later, the pastor peeked his head out the door, I was assuming to let me know he was done praying and I could go back in.

No, that's not it.

He poked his head out to let me know that as they prayed over her, she slowly, quietly, had her very last breath.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wanna hear a shocking fact about me?

I hate when people are mad at me.  They can be the most bitter, angry, hateful, rude person in the world, but when I know they dislike me or are mad at me, it rips my heart out.

Wanna know something else?  I have low self-esteem, and I think this is where it all stems from.

I remember telling my best friend, Kristen, when we were in Vegas years and years ago that I NEVER look in the mirror and think, "Wow, I look really nice today!"  ...I'm serious.  I don't.  When I know someone is looking at me, I usually look away. 

I guess this is why I yearn for approval from people.  It eats me to the core to know that there is something about me that is disliked my someone, which leads to my mind running a mile a minute about all of my faults.

Sure, I know there are things about me that make it EASY to not like me.  I am moody.  Think PMS times a million.  That is me.  I am crazy unorganized and quite impatient at times.  My priorities tend to be ALL out of whack and...well, yeah.

Throughout this past year (you know, the "sister" year), I have been working so hard to rearrange this way of thinking.  It literally exhausts me to constantly try to please people, and then at the end of the day, I always think to myself, "Hey, what about what I want?  Or what about what I feel is important?"

It is a huge struggle, but I am doing okay.  I no longer feel I need to dissect every action I make to others, to make them see my side.

I don't judge people based on others opinions, but I remain brutally faithful to those I love and care about.  It is possible to be a good friend, and still be polite and professional with others...did you know that?

I lived an entire year of anger and bitterness.  I'm D-O-N-E with that.  Did I mention I'm done?

I am working to see good in all of us, because I recognize that no one is perfect (remember I listed just a SMALL fraction of my faults).

Tonight I met some wonderful friends for dinner.  We had great conversation (we are all nurses, so the stories are ENDLESS!).  Then I had some great phone conversations with two more wonderful friends, and I hung up thinking to myself:  I am blessed.

My issue with craving acceptance will likely never go away.  It's just a part of who I am.  But the part that I am working on, the part where I remain genuine and truthful WITH MYSELF?  That part is shaping up nicely.

I'll end this with some positive things.  I love my family (both blood and by marriage) with every ounce of my being, and every. single. day. I think God for all you do for me.  I am a GOOD mother.  Not perfect, but there is no doubt in my mind that my kids know that I would walk to the ends of the earth for them.  I live, eat, and breath for those two kids, and I love them with my whole heart.  I am a loyal, faithful wife.  My husband works harder than anyone I know to provide for his family, and is an AMAZING daddy.  Him and I connect on a level that I have never had with anyone else before.  Not only is he my lover (ooooh la la!) but he is also my very best friend.  And lastly, my friends.  Loyalty is used frequently here.  I consider myself very, very loyal and I hope they ALL know that.  If you doubt my loyalty, then you know me VERY little.    And last, I love my God.  I love my faith.  And I love my church.  My Bible is never far from me, and I love how my faith has grown in leaps and bounds.

Friday, November 4, 2011

I totally DID write "patients" instead of "patience" in that last post!  Haha!  No denying I'm a nurse, eh?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

One year ago:

- I finally got it when I'd hear the saying "You never know what tomorrow may bring."

-I watched my sister struggle and overcome some vicious odds

- I learned how horrendous depression can be...realizing you cry, sob, and withdraw more than you smile

- I learned what pure exhaustion is

- I learned who my true friends were, and learned that family will always pull through to hold you up as your world crumbles

-I learned life gives no guarantees.  No matter how amazing of a person you are.  Everything can be taken away in the blink of an eye with no explanation.  And you have to accept that.

- I watched, and did nothing to help, as relationships around me crumbled because I was so withdrawn within my own pity and sorrow

-I experienced hate in the truest form, as people found pleasure in beating me while I was down, and I experienced love in the purest form as my friends came to my rescue

- I cried a million tears, I gave up, I didn't care what tomorrow brought because I  was too angry about what THAT day brought.

-I shook my fists at God, I slammed my Bible shut, and screamed whenever I'd hear someone say that God "cured" their headache, as my sister laid in the ICU with tubes coming from every direction, struggling to keep her alive

-I was mad, I was angry, I was so, so bitter.  I was selfish and self-absorbed.  I had daily pity parties FOR MYSELF

This year:

-I have put the past behind me, and KEPT it there.  No more "this time last year..."  We look forward, not backwards, because you can't change the past

- I have loved deeper than I ever have before. 

- My faith is strong.  Without faith, I've got NOTHING.  I am slowly gaining my trust back in God, but I admit, I do falter sometimes.

- Drama?  Save it for yo' mama.  I don't have time for it. Life is way too short to hold grudges.

- Give yourself time to grieve, but then pick the pieces up and move on.  Find blessings in every day.  Have patients and make it a goal to find peace in every circumstance.

- Don't be scared.  You can't live a fulfilling life in fear.  Things happen.  Pretend like they don't.  Take chances and never. stop. learning.

- Believe.  Whether it be in God, or in HAVE to believe.  Never give up.  Fight, fight, fight.  If it matters to you, you will do ANYTHING to achieve it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Today was NOT a great day.  Allison was in a "I am going to live up the whole terrible 2" kind of mood...very demanding, whiney, and uncooperative.  Makes for a very, very long day.

And might I add, that the few hours after Ethan comes home from school until roughly dinner time, is forever my least favorite time of the day.  Both kids are tired and hungry.  There isn't much to do with the weather getting colder, and it's just a tense few hours.

When Jay finally walked in the door around 5, he took one look at me and knew it wasn't a good day.  He mentioned that we needed a few things from the grocery store, and offered to let me go (alone!) but I knew that would just get me into trouble (remember: I spend, spend, spend when I'm stressed) so I told him he could go.

He offered to take Allison with him, to give me a little break from the princess.  This was when my mind started churning.  On my latest Facebook post (remember the one about the area rug?), someone suggested incorporating the living room area rug into the shopping list.  So I did:

Then I got my little diva-in-training ready and gave her a little pep talk about getting Daddy to buy EVERYTHING on the list:

 Wanna know what they came home with?  Everything BUT the area rug.  I guess that means Allison needs a little more training.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Most 7 year old boys on roller skates would skate around like maniacs, take a wipe-out that makes everyone say "ooooooh!", then hop up and repeat.

My 7 year old is not like most 7 year olds.  My 7 year old is the one who will reluctantly try something new (in this case, rollerskating), see that is is tricky (he has never done this before) do a few moves (by moves, I mean his legs went in every direction except straight while he clung to my arms that were above his head.  This lasted all of maybe 3 seconds before he plopped himself down on the floor and loudly (he has no shame) that he is NEVER SKATING AGAIN.  Now it just so happens, today's lesson in church was on love and patience.  So being the good (medicated) Christian woman that I am, explained how this is something very new to him, and OF COURSE it was going to be hard.  But you just need to try again!

So we did.  A couple falls, a couple tears, a couple more "I AM NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN!" shouts, but after a while, he looked a little less like a  clumsy newborn calf, and a little more like your typical 7 year old boy on skates.  After about an hour and a half of skating, he gave me the world's greatest grin and a big ol' high five.  And of course, I, being his very proud mother that he didn't give up, had a smile on MY face as if I'd won a million bucks.  We'll skip the details that my arms were so sore from holding him up that they were practically numb and I have beads of sweat over every inch of my body.  It was SO worth it.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Had you asked me a few months ago if I had plans of leaving my current nursing position, I would have said with 110% certainty, "Heck no!"

I truly feel that God had a hand in the position I am currently in.  See, when I was hired, I was still in nursing school.  I applied to be an extern.  The interview process consisted of a bunch of nervous nursing students sitting one at a time in front of a board of managers.  The mangers would shoot out questions, the nervous nursing student would answer, and then the managers would decide who wanted which student, and which students left without a job.

I was chosen to be on the 6th floor, and I have loved it from the very beginning.  I still love it today.  Sure, I have a lot of shifts where I leave feeling like I was in a 12 hour tornado, and I am almost CERTAIN that during every shift I work, at some point or another, I mutter the words, "I wish I could replicate myself!  There is one of me and 6 of them!"  ...but I love my job.  I love my coworkers.  I love my manager and our charge nurse...we have a GREAT group of people.  If I were ever sick, or a loved one of mine were ever sick, there would be no hesitation in my mind to request for them to go to 6.

Unfortunately, I have come to a point in my life where I need more consistency.  A more set schedule.  More reliability on what my days will be like.  And just like that, a position opened.  My patients would still be oncology patients, but they will be outpatient as opposed to inpatient.  My schedule would be set, and there would be no weekends or holidays.  It's funny how one minute I can feel like my life is all out of whack and then an opportunity like this opens up.

When I saw the position, I submitted my resume thinking, "We'll see!"  I didn't hear anything for a while, and started to think that it wasn't meant to be at this time, and I was okay with that.  But then I had a message on my machine.  Asking for an interview.  The very next day.  ACK!  Waaaaaaaaait wait wait.  I had to go.  It would be silly NOT to, and how would I ever know if it was meant for me or not?  I'll be honest, the whole way there, I recited off how I was going to politely decline the position, but when I got to talking about it with the managers, it all came out so, so easily.  I am terrible at being put on the spot, which is exactly what an interview is, but when they would say "Tell us about a time you dealt with a difficult physician and how did you handle that?" I had a story.  When they said "Tell us about a time you went above and beyond for a patient."  ...I had a story for that, too.  When they said, "Tell us how you detach yourself from the sadness you see at your current position (hospice, cancer) when you leave and go home for the night." ...and I honestly said that a lot of the times, I don't detach myself.  I've BEEN THERE.  No, my sister didn't have cancer.  But she was critical.  She was living minute to minute, followed by day to day.  When I was with her, I wasn't a nurse, I was simply the patients sister.  So when I am in my nursing role, I never EVER forget.  While I may only see these people 12 hours out of a day, their stress doesn't end at 7PM like mine does. 

I drove home from that interview feeling very strange.  In one sense, I was pleased, because when I speak about being a nurse, every bit of it is from the very depths of my heart.  It's so easy for me, because I am so passionate about it.  Speaking about something I love so dearly puts me in a very great mood.

But as I drove home, my mind shifted back to 6.  And the tears welled up in my eyes.  My first "real" job.  My friends.  My patients.  The patients I have lost that I still think about daily.  Leaving that place?  Walking away?  Tears. my. heart. out. 

I'm torn.  This other position has not been offered to me yet.  There are other people interviewing.  Do I think this would be a great fit for me?  YES.  There are many areas of my life right now that are a little fuzzy, so the set schedule would help me tremendously.  But leaving my "home" is HARD.

Regardless of what happens...if I don't get this position, I might be a little sad, but I know that I am still going to have my job on 6, where I love.  If I do get offered the position, I will most likely accept it, and have to go through the sadness of change.  I pray I make the right decision.  I pray I am doing the right thing for me and my children.

Again...that manual I was talking about??  You know, the one about "Laura's Life?"  ....right about now I'd skip to the chapter titled "Career Choices" and read what the right answer is.  Oh, right.  There is no such book.  So I have to make these decisions on my own.  Gulp.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I wish life had a manual that you could refer to whenever you had to make a decision.  Instead of having to weigh pros and cons in my mind, I could just flip to the chapter called "Laura's Life" and see what choice is best.

But alas, there is no such thing, so here is to hoping I make some good choices.  More on that later.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Most days I have this STRONG maternal urge to have one more baby.  I think of being pregnant and feeling those soft movements and knowing it was something that was only known by myself and my sweet baby.  I think of the incredible process of laboring a baby.  I think of those first few days when you entire world revolves around each burp, nap, and poop.  My uterus twitches just a touch whenever I hear the soft music play while at work, indicating a baby had just been born.

Today though?  Today was not one of those days.  In terms of my reproductive organs, I'm pretty sure my uterus just shriveled up and dried, that's how this day was.

Why, you ask?  What made this day so bad?  MY KIDS WERE MANIACS!

In our heads, Jay and I had his picture perfect day planned.  Allison and I would go to church.  Jay and Ethan would go to one of Ethan's friends birthday party, and then we'd meet back at home and drive out to the apple orchard for a great afternoon of fresh doughnuts, cool cider, and pumpkin picking.

Where the heck did it all go wrong?

Maybe the part where Allison was a total maniac at church.  She didn't want to sit with me in church like she normally does, and she acted like she'd never see me again if I left her in the play area...which meant we spent 2 hours just meandering around until we went home.

The ride TOO the orchard was nice, except we hoped Allison would take a nap early on in the ride so she would be rested when we got there.  That didn't happen.  She started snoozing as we were pulling in.  That's always ugly.

And the fact that today was hot and sunny, we anticipated the orchard would be full....and that it was!  Ever heard of the website called "The People of Walmart?"  Well, there should be one called The People of the Orchard (ooooh sounds like a horror movie!)  ...but no, really.  It all began as we waited in line with our kids to jump in the inflatable pumpkin, behind a lovely family with the mother wearing a shirt that said clear as day "We'll rip their f&^%$#g heads off."  I almost tapped her on the shoulder and gave her a big ol' thumbs up for being such a classy lady, but I didn't.

The bees were ridiculous and I all think we held our breaths as we watched a bee fly down the collar of Allison's t-shirt, fly around against her baby skin, then fly out the bottom of it. 

The cider and doughnuts were amazing, but then it came time to pick pumpkins.  It was as if someone pulled a string on Allison's back which sent her zipping through the pumpkins that were displayed for purchase and promptly tipping each one over.  While she did this, Ethan kept yelling after her "Allison!  Stop!  Allison!" while Jay kept saying "Ethan!  Stop parenting Allison, I will take care of it!" and I chased Allison around taking each tipped pumpkin and putting it back upright.  We literally did this for like 30 minutes before we realized we STILL HAD NO PUMPKINS PICKED.  By this time we were all hot, dirty, and tired.  I ended up picking two good looking gourds and we hit the road.

I had it in my head that the kids would be overtired so they would be quiet on the 40 minute ride home...AHHHAHAHAHA!  They were INSANE!  Allison cried for her binky (which she HAD, it just apparently wasn't the right binky) and Ethan was mad that I wouldn't let him change his seat as Jay was driving.  We picked a movie for the DVD player and neither kid could agree on a movie.  It was a long, miserable, loud, migraine-inducing ride.  As we finally did the final turns to our home, Jay and I started laughing.  What. a. day!

....but neither of us would have traded it for any other day.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

WHAT is this self (husband) -proclaimed shop-o-holic to do???

No, seriously.  I can't. stop. shopping.  I literally spend HUNDREDS of dollars every single month.

Now before you gasp and consider me a terrible, horrible, no good, well dressed person, let me be more specific.  I'm not buying Coach purses and MAC make-up.  It's usually spent at Target or Meijer or somewhere less exciting, and it's usually spent on my kids.  I love buying them clothes and shoes.  And I love cosmetics, so it usually ends up being a couple outfits for Ethan, a couple for Allison, and some shampoo or other random item.  And the total is ALWAYS over $100.

Now before you think to yourself, "Uh, so stop shopping, stupid."  Let me give a tiny bit of background.  I have really bad anxiety.  I take medication for it.  I am being totally serious when I say shopping is a HUGE anxiety release for me.  I can go about 3 days without shopping, then the urge overcomes me and I have to speeeend.  I put things in the cart, I pay, then I feel so, so guilty (but heck no do I return any of it!)  Then I store these new, shiny items in what I like to call my "trunk of tricks" aka.  the trunk of my car so I can slowly pull things out so Jay doesn't bust me. 

Now, clearly I need a different outlet for my anxiety.  I don't garden (everything dies at the mere sight of my face) and I don't cook (unless it's pre-packaged and frozen).  I don't scrapbook (but I could, if I bought some supplies...) I can't do a lot of volunteer work due to my very clingy 2 year old.  I love doing playdates and recently joined a local group on, but then realized it costs $10 to join, and most of the meet-ups are at places that require spending money.

Winter is coming so parks and playing outside is coming to an end... what do I do???!

Come on.  Give me some ideas.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I have a "what would you do" question for anyone that would like to share.

Tiny bit of background:  I am a Christian.  I believe in helping others, especially when it is clear they are struggling.

The story:  After I came home from dropping Ethan off at school, I realized we forgot to send his library book back which was due today, so I turned right back around to take it to him.
Afterwards, I decided I'd go through the McDonald's drive-thru for a super healthy breakfast for me and the girl.  As we were approaching the window, a woman started walking towards my car.  Her clothes were kind of rough looking, she had a hood on, and the first thing I noticed about her was she seemed "off".  Maybe drugs?  Drinking?  Not sure, but that was my first impression.  Anyhow, she approaches my window and states that she just got out of the hospital (she showed me her bracelet) and got jumped last night by someone who "wanted to poke out her eyeballs" (I can't make this stuff up, folks!) and now she was out of gas and needed money to get home.  I asked her if she called the police.  She said yes, they caught the attempted eye ball snatcher.  But now she was stranded in a McDonald's parking lot.  She gestured over to her van, where an equally rough looking woman was in the drivers seat.

I literally had $7 cash in my wallet, which I intended to use on my super healthy breakfast with my daughter.  I lied, apologized, and told her I didn't have any cash, then I wished her well, told her to take care, and drove away.

Then I felt uber guilty.  I had other means of giving her money.  Would $10 really have hurt?  I feel like I missed a good opportunity to give.  Who knows if her story was true or not (her eyeballs were perfectly intact, with no signs of attempted removal) but she didn't look like she had a very easy life.

Would you have given her money?  If not, why? 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I love to read blogs.  My list of blogs I check daily is quite long, and I'd love to share them with you (but I am way too tired tonight after working all day).  This particular blog, though, I have to share.  Her most recent post is amazing.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September 20, 2010:

Getting a phone call from my dad at about 2:30 PM, telling me my sister collapsed at school, CPR had to be done, and she was now on life support

Stopping my car in the middle of the street to repeat the words, "What?  What happened?  WHO did this happen to?  Wait, WHAT?" over and over again, followed by the worst sobbing I have ever done in my life

Panicking, rushing to get my kids to my mother-in-law, then enduring the longest ride ever to Brownstown Emergency Room

Waiting, for what felt like hours but was only minutes, to be allowed to see her

Seeing her for the first time, ventilator down her throat, NG tube and thermometer probe down her nose, several IVs, and restraints on her wrists.  I kept telling them, "Please keep her sedated right now so she doesn't wake up and get scared."  I should have known by their lack of assurance that her "waking up and being scared" was something that wasn't going to happen right now, whether she was sedated or not

Driving to Henry Ford Main to sit in a "special" waiting room for the doctor to come talk to us and prepare us for what we were about to see

Seeing her in bed, still on the ventilator, totally nonresponsive, and having seizures practically back to back that were so strong, her entire bed would shake

Being told not to touch her, which I obeyed for about 20 minutes, then the urge to rush to her and touch her overtook me

Having to leave her that night, not knowing if it would be the last time

Sobbing to my mom, saying, "I can't lose her!  I need her!"

The cold, cold ICU room

Listening to the whooshing of the ventilator as it pushed air into my sisters lungs

Being told to step out while they cleaned her up in the wee hours of the night, and realizing I had absolutely nowhere to go

Wiping her chin and braiding her hair...the only areas that I could touch without disrupting anything

Having her slowly wake up, but being unable to talk due to the severe confusion and swelling of her brain

Having the ventilator removed, but those very scary moments soon after where they thought her airway was closing up and having doctors and respiratory therapists rush in to check

Driving home from the hospital after being there the entire night and thinking "Now I can understand how people fall asleep at the wheel" because I was experiencing pure exhaustion, both physically and emotionally

Hearing the doctors say to us "You should just be happy she is alive...her chances of survival were less than 10%"  when we'd ask questions about what the next step was

The constant desire to just dial her number to talk.  To drive to her house to visit.  Anything.  Something to know that she was okay

 This is the infamous pack of gum Leslie bought that I mentioned in my previous post.  It's hard to see, but note there are only two pieces missing.  One for her, one for me.  That was it.  I know it's stupid, and I know it probably seems very insignificant, but for me, it is proof that that amazing day happened.  Proof that we were together.  I will never get rid of it.

This is the slip of paper the ICU nurse gave me that first night.  The top is the phone number to her unit.  The middle number is her room.  And the code is the code I would have to give in order to get information.  Only George and I had the code, and it was our job to relay any information.

September 20, 2011:

Texting my sister to say "Wanna do lunch?" and having her write me back!

Meeting for dinner at Portofino's to honor those that stayed the night with her, night after night, so she would never be alone.  We never had to ask...they just did it.  And it was NOT easy.  Being tired was the least of our issues when we'd stay the was more making sure she stayed in bed, reassuring her constant paranoia, keeping her from removing the heart monitors, catheters, IV lines, etc.

Watching her laugh and socialize with the people she loves

Seeing her update her status on facebook

Having full conversations with her through texts and e-mails, just like we used to do prior to this past year

Her smile.  Her smile is so genuine and so Leslie.  That was gone for so long, because for months, she literally was blank.  Void of all emotion.  It's coming back, slowly but surely

She never did lose her sense of love and kindness towards other people.  Even when she was so confused in the hospital, when someone came in and said "How are you?"  She'd respond with "I'm fine, how are you?"  That is apparently a part of her that will never go away.  She has a heart of pure gold

Thank you.  Thank you to every single one of you.  Whether you stayed the night, visited, brought food, prayed, thought about her, read the blog to stay informed on her progress, sent cards, texts, or emails,  WE APPRECIATE AND LOVE YOU and I promise, we will never, ever forget any of that.  There is absolutely no way we could have gotten through this without all of the love and support. 

This past year was the worst year of our entire lives.  My motto here on out is, "It only gets better from here!"

Keep it up, sister.  You have SO many people rooting for you.

 The beautiful cake, made by Persnickety Sweets.  Purple is Leslie's favorite color and the cake was chocolate, which is also her favorite

 One of the tables.  On the left, from furthest to closest, Allison (my 2 year old daughter), Shawn, and Jim.  On the other side, my husband Jason, my son, Ethan, my cousin Beth, and my cousin Michelle (both of them stayed many nights with my sister at the hospital.

 My dad's very heartfelt, touching speech that he put together all by himself.  It was very, very beautiful.

 The other table.  On the left side, Georges's sister, George's mom, George, and my dad.  On the other side, George's sisters husband (sorry about the lack of names!), my Uncle Terry, my Aunt Bev, Leslie, and my mom

                                                                Leslie and her cake :)

 That is her battlewound.  Okay, more like the scar left behind from her defibrillator being placed.  Nonetheless, I can't help but look at it and know that it just may save my sisters life someday.

                      This was the quote on the cake.  Very fitting, and Leslie loves Maya Angelou.

 This picture speaks volumes for me.  That night I left saying "I can't go on without her!" and here I am, WITH her.  Forever with her.

             The Tuttle Family, EXACTLY how it should be.  Thank you, God, for keeping us together.