Family life, Paleo-ish eating and Coping with Chronic Illness

Posts tagged ‘Hospital’


“Ladies Home Journal” sent me an email last week to tell me that they did not select my essay. They had a reader’s essay contest. They received 4000 submissions. Mine was not chosen. So, I guess we all now know that the LHJ panelists are illiterate. Wait until I tell my Mom on them. They’ll be sorry.

I could tell right away that the email in my inbox was a rejection. You always can tell. I thought my feelings should be hurt, but they weren’t. I didn’t actually remember that I entered that contest, and I didn’t remember what I wrote.

I’ve entered as many contests, and have submitted as many articles as I could find time to submit in the last 6 months. There’s no calculated strategy involved with my submissions. I just search for opportunities that appear to be a decent match, crank something out, and hit send.

Given the scope of writers living on this planet right now, my writing skills are below average. Probably, less than below. I’m not being modest, or fishing for compliments. It’s true.

When I read a well written book, I think that those authors are gifted artists. The combination of words they use, and the way they are able to say things without saying them, is brilliant. It’s like those writers have access to more parts of their brain than I have. I don’t begrudge them their brilliance. I’m inspired by them.

Just because I’m not a brilliant author, doesn’t mean I can’t write. I love to write. I’ve been writing some nonsense or another my whole life. I’m going to keep searching for new opportunities. I think people are meant to develop and pursue the things they love doing.

Both my parents tried publishing a book at some point in their lives. Isn’t that awesome? I remember my Dad being bent over his typewriter for an entire summer. I love that memory.

My parents’ arsenal for success included a typewriter, white out and the postman. No wonder it never happened for them. They had no delete button, no blog, no on line submissions, and they had busy lives. The fact that they each put one book together, while working and raising 5 children, seems extraordinary to me.

I’m happy to carry the torch for my parents. I have a sister who writes too. I’ve always had a feeling that she will write a great book some day. It’s sort of a contest between her and me for our parent’s love and approval. I hope you’ll join me in praying that I beat her to it. Okay, don’t really do that. That’s mean. Just pray that she gets carpal tunnel syndrome. Nothing too painful. I’m always loyal.

When I die, I want my kids to remember that I tried to develop and pursue my God given talents and interests. I’m sure about that. If my kids know that I was rejected and discouraged, but kept doing what I thought I was meant to do anyway, that will make me even happier. Of course, I’ll be dead. So, happy in they way dead people are happy.

I found the article I wrote for LHJ. Now you can see for yourself what kind of nutbags run that operation. I don’t think organizing a boycott is going too far.


When our oldest son, Eddie, was born, he went “live” from the hospital. One day old and he had a microphone to his mouth. Eddie gurgled on cue, which was, of course, my first proof that he was advanced.

I worked at a radio station at the time in a small town in Iowa. I was a morning personality. There were likely a hundred or more people in the Hog County Capital of the world tuned into our musings every morning. I don’t mean to brag, but, you know; that’s a pretty big deal.

During my pregnancy, we held a county wide contest to see who could guess my baby’s due date. Now I look back and wonder if there is a chance I could have had an accident and hit my head some time after that period in my life. Did I hit my head so hard that I woke up a different person? The person I am today would not be okay with going live from my hospital room.

The “live from the hospital” scenario is not my only proof that I had a different brain in my 20’s than I have in my 40’s. I really DID think my son was advanced. I thought he was advanced the day he was born, and every day after that. I was so excited back then that I had invented child birth. I was sure I loved this chubby little creature in a way no mom had ever loved her child before; I just had to share, and share, and share. Yes, I was that mom. I’d like to apologize for that.

I was the Mom who was dazzled by her own life. I must say, my husband called it. One day he said, “You really think your kids are going to be perfect, don’t you?” No sarcasm, just a question based on the information he had gathered up to that point in our lives.

I said, “No. Of course I don’t.” I mean, what else are you going to say?

Eddie eventually started Kindergarten. After the first week, his teacher told me, “Eddie is the cutest, funniest little boy I have ever taught.” She had been teaching a long time. So, there you have it. I knew I had been right about him.

After Eddie’s first month of Kindergarten, his teacher called. She said, “Ah, we are having some problems with Eddie. He can be some trouble for me in the class room. He taught another boy how to spell a swear word.”

I lost a full night’s sleep after that conversation with Eddie’s Kindergarten teacher. First exposure to the real world is so harsh.

It wasn’t my fault. I blame my parents. They raised five daughters. I was the youngest. I spent 21 years in their house. That entire time they liked each other, they worked hard, were nice to other people, showed us affection, showed each other affection, and didn’t play favorites. That was a really mean thing for them to do. Because, then they just flung us out into the real world. I started my adult life with no real proof that the world would be anything but kind to me.

I guess I also have to blame my DNA. As adults, one of my sisters, who is also my best friend, has told me that there was something that really annoyed her about living with me all those years. When she told me what it was, I didn’t really dwell on it. She can be crabby sometimes. But, then my husband told me the same thing. They both told me that it is annoying that I wake up happy, and that I stay happy; especially that I wake up happy.

My husband and I have had this conversation more than once in our house in the morning. We are moving around well before sunrise. He’s very quiet. Too quiet. I say, “What’s wrong?”

He answers, “It’s 5:30 in the morning. That is what’s wrong.” He doesn’t sound very friendly.

One time my husband tried giving me a more scientific explanation of our issues. He said, “Listen Honey, we’re all different. Not everyone is born whistling ‘Dixie’ out of their behind when they get out of bed every morning. Some of us have to work harder at being happy.”

I can’t help it. I was born excited about life. I have always been genuinely optimistic that life is good, and fun, and full of interesting adventures. Between my pesky optimism and my dysfunctional, happy childhood, I had no real preparation or expectation that life would not go exactly as I envisioned.

I was so distressed over those calls from Eddie’s Kindergarten teacher, but I adapted. I began to predict what the teacher was going to tell me each year. Every conference was the same. The teacher would soften the blow by giving you the good stuff first. They would tell us Eddie is funny, smart and nice. One teacher even told us Eddie was going to be the next Jerry Seinfeld.

Just when we were feeling good about things, maybe even a little proud, the teacher would deliver the blow. “Eddie needs to pay attention. Eddie needs to be more organized. Eddie needs to stop distracting the other students. Eddie needs to stop stapling his fingers. Eddie needs to stop eating wood chips.”

I asked myself, “What are these people running here, a military school?”

So, Eddie was not going to be a model student. I learned to accept it. I even started to own it. After all, Eddie’s teacher did say he was going to be the next Jerry Seinfeld, right? Optimism.

Then, Eddie got sick. In second grade he had Strep Throat. He didn’t get better. He didn’t get better the next year either, or the next. He’s 17 now, and he’s still sick. He’s had fevers, infections, neurological issues and digestive issues. In seventh grade he started vomiting. He is a sophomore now, and the vomiting has not stopped. He’s missed most of each year of school, and his 8th grade year completely.

It started with Lyme Disease. The Lyme disease was treated, and treated and treated. After hundreds of appointments with Medical Doctors and Alternative Doctors, a 4 week stay at a fancy clinic in Wichita, KS that our community helped pay for, a trip to a respected Children’s Hospital and hours upon hours of our own research later, we know a lot of things we did not used to know. Eddie is still sick.

We’ve had periods of relief. Oh, what sweet, awesome relief it has been too. One year we rid our diet of grains, sugar, artificial sweeteners and preservatives of any kind (a really good thing we learned, and are still doing). That provided us the longest reprieve yet. Enough time for Eddie to break school records and place at State in Wrestling as a freshman in high school. Towards the end of the wrestling season though, Eddie was functioning on determination alone. Determination can only substitute as an immune system for so long. When the wrestling season was over, Eddie crashed. He crashed hard.

Over the years I have grieved. I grieve the loss of the life I had imagined for our family as a young mother. I grieve for the loss of all the things I wanted for Eddie. Sometimes you hear really mature people who have struggled with a crisis in their life say that if they had to do it over again, they would. Well, I wouldn’t. Given the choice, I would go right back to the world I made up for myself 20 years ago and live there. That was a really nice place.

But, no one is giving me that choice. So, I have learned to accommodate grief in my life. I have evolved into an optimistic, grief-stricken person. It’s conflicting.

When you have someone you love experiencing chronic illness, you have to learn how to carry grief with you every day. I’m so much better at this than I used to be. Even though I would not choose this path for our family, I can say with sincerity that this experience has given me new eyes and a brain that I like better than the one I had before. Sometimes optimism looks like arrogance; I think I needed to know that.

I’m glad I can now talk to someone who appears flat, and not assume something unkind. Now, I assume they must have troubles of their own. I’m glad that I have seen just how generous and supportive a community and friends can be to someone in need. I’m glad I have seen the importance of support and love from your family. I’m glad I have seen how faith gives hope. I’m glad I have seen and now know new ways to keep the rest of our family healthy and strong. And, I’m mostly glad that Eddie is our son.

Eddie’s life has caused me to learn a multitude of lessons I didn’t want to learn, but am glad I know. I look forward to the day when his body is completely healthy and strong. He’ll be fully grown and so wise from all the hard lessons he has learned. I just know he will be the best President of the United States our country has ever had. Optimism.

Eddie's warrior face

How I almost Died

When I tell my family that I have a brain tumor, they say, “Are we out of milk?” Sometimes I start coughing. I’ll keep coughing so hard that I feel like I could pass out. So, I do, on the kitchen floor, in front of everyone. I gasp loudly and then I lay there, completely limp. My eyes stare at the ceiling. I think I look just like people who die on TV. My family walks around me.

I guess you can only claim fatal illnesses and fake your death so many times. Eventually your family becomes suspicious, and then they just stop believing you. I told my family that one of these days I’m going to really play the thing out, all the way to the funeral. I’ve always wanted to know how sad people would be if I died. I would sit in the back of the church in a disguise. No one would recognize me. I’d watch everybody weep. I would get really choked up just thinking about what a good person I was.

I’d also pay attention to who wasn’t there. I’d finally know who was just pretending to be my friend. When I decided to come back to life and tell everyone it was just a joke (People are going to laugh so hard. That’s really a good one), I would know who I didn’t have to be nice to any more.

Scott has told me that I have diagnosed myself with more fatal illnesses than anyone he knows. One time I was getting a migraine. Only I didn’t know it was a migraine. I’ve never had a migraine. I only knew that my Grandma and my Dad have lost part of their eye sight when they got older.

I was sitting on the couch with a slight headache. My vision started to blur. I just kept saying, “This is it. I knew this would happen. I’m going blind. It’s going. I’m losing my eyesight.” I tried to take in every detail of my family’s precious faces, knowing it would be my last chance before I was enveloped in complete darkness.

I was scared and convinced. So convinced that Scott started to worry a little about my impending blindness. The visual disturbances eventually passed. I said, “Oh, forget it. I’m not going blind. I guess it was a headache.” I don’t know why Scott gets so annoyed. You just have to get used to his moods.

I am lucky to have a boss that totally gets me. I may not get any sympathy at home, but at work it’s different. My boss and I know that we’re always just moments from getting terrible news, and we’re prepared. If my boss has a health issue, she comes to me. I look it up on line and tell her it could be one of three things. They’re all fatal. She says, “I knew it!” The Doctor told her it was nothing to worry about, and that’s why we both know you should never listen to Doctors.

A few years ago I had a bad eye infection. It spread across part of my face. Eventually I got a fever and the chills. I went to the emergency room by myself, thinking that I would get some antibiotics and come back home. The attending physician was kind of a silly guy. He was making jokes when I first sat down on the examining table. Then he quit laughing and he said, “This is serious. We may have to med flight you to another hospital.” I was ready for this.

I called Scott. I was crying and told him he had to come to the hospital right away. When he got there, I was alone in the examination room. I told him what the Doctor said. Scott patted me on the back. He gently suggested I hold off on panicking until we saw the test results.

Scott’s crazy. He wouldn’t recognize a life-and-death situation if he was standing in the middle of it. And, believe me, he was standing in the middle of it.

I insisted that while we waited Scott needed to take notes on my last words and wishes. I told him that marrying him was the best decision I ever made.

I said, “I want you to move on with your life. You have my blessing to remarry.”

He said, “I don’t think we…”

“Shhh, ” I said putting my finger to his lips. “You musn’t argue. You can’t let my memory get in the way of your happiness. I only ask that she love our children. And, please, make sure the children know how much I loved them.”

He wrote it down. At least I think he did. I packed years worth of wisdom and guidance for him to pass along to the children into those 15 minutes.

The Doctor interrupted my dictation when he came back in the room. He said, “false alarm”. It isn’t what I suspected. We’ll just keep you for the night and give you intravenous antibiotics. You’ll be fine to go home tomorrow.

I looked at Scott and I said, “Now THAT was a close call. There’s nothing like a near death experience to put things into perspective. Am I right? I can’t even imagine how good it must feel to have me back. ” He didn’t say anything.


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