Here's to maintaining some self-respect and sanity while tending to the growth and maturation of young minds, including your own young mind. Here's to recognizing that it isn't necessary to know how everything is going to turn out in advance, and that often Life has much better in store than one can imagine. Here's to hope and happiness even when Life gets complicated, especially then... That's when it's needed it most.

...afterall, the car may only seat seven but room for friends is unlimited...

Saturday, April 30, 2016

When you suffer...

On Monday night, my daughter wasn't feeling well. She said that her stomach hurt and so we monitored the pain for a while. It seemed to be moving, and wasn't unbearable for her. Her dinner didn't stay down much longer, but then she felt a little better. My best guess as a nurse (and mom) was, from the way it came on and her symptoms, it was a virus. She stayed home from school on Tuesday and rested the entire day. She still wasn't feeling great Tuesday night but she thought she was doing a bit better. I prepared for work the next day, and we headed for bed. At four a.m. she was sitting at my bedside. "Mom," she said. "It hurts so much. I can't sleep, I can't lay down, I can't sit up, it hurts to walk." My gut moved much quicker than my brain did at that point. There was only one thing to do and I was sure: "Get your shoes on sweetie. I'm getting dressed and we are going to the Emergency Room." She looked a little dazed. She told me later that she had thought I would give her some ibuprofen for the pain. I'm grateful that didn't cross my mind. I let her dad know we were on our way to the hospital.
It took 6 hours in the ER before we knew what was happening inside my beautiful baby girl. Bloodwork and a urine analysis told us that she had a high white blood cell count and so, infection but not in the bladder. Ultrasound couldn't see the appendix, but did show a pocket of fluid on the lower right side. Nothing abnormal with the Pelvic Ultrasound. The Radiologist mentioned that with someone of her age, CT was the last resort, but might be necessary. Not long afterward, she was drinking the oral contrast and knew that she would have IV contrast as well. The CT was fast and before we were back in our room a surgeon had been contacted. It was her appendix. Within 12 hours from the time she was at my bedside at four a.m., she was in recovery following her emergency appendectomy. The surgeon came out with photos taken during the surgery. It had ruptured, but was contained. He said a few times with pause, "It was a very good catch." The surgeon wanted her to stay overnight in the hospital for one more round of IV antibiotics, and so it was.
There is a first for everything. In twenty years this was the first surgery and overnight hospital stay for any of our five children. My ex-husband and I are friends, and our love for these children binds us to each other though our separate lives are well developed. I was glad to know, when I knew surgery was coming, that he was on his way. He mentioned in the next phone call that his husband was going to come, too. I cringed inside. Something in me knew it would leave me alone, and it did. It was painful to me in such an odd way; I recognized the pain and pushed it away. I stayed in Nurse-Mode. I've been there before. My instincts have made life-saving care available to many. It was a place of emotional safety; I recognized it and stayed there. With no one to hug me and hold my hand through the trauma of what was happening to my child, I couldn't be anything but detached. I stayed detached through the hospital stay, focusing on the hour to hour needs of my daughter and the others at home. After a night at home, my daughter went to her dad's for their regular weekend and I went to work. I recounted the story to as many of my co-workers as were interested. On the way home from work, however, a dam broke in me.
Almost out of nowhere, tears started to flow, forcefully. They've been with me on and off all night and into today. There is catharsis in it, recognizing and feeling the pain, this pain and others I've pushed away necessarily. Acknowledging the fear, the panic, the understanding that my child was in danger. Coping with the knowledge that to heal she needed to be cut further, and the danger I understood in anesthesia. Remembering the anesthesiologist assessing her in the hallway as we spoke, starting her first round of medication right there a few seconds before taking her away with the surgeon. It all brings me to frame shaking tears. I've been in an operating room, I've seen surgeries. It's hard to think of her there. There is a lot of gratitude as well. Gratitude that she came through it without complications and that she won't have more than a few small scars and memories of pain that is gone. I'm grateful that I understood what needed to happen, and what was happening to her. Gratitude for education which makes all of these things possible, and of careful serious professionals who cared for her earnestly. Gratitude eases pain.
She's doing well now, still sore and moving slowly. I'm doing well, too. For me, I'm glad everything bubbled to the surface, that it flowed over and out. I'll need to think a little more about everything. I have seen first hand this week the painful truth, how a mother holds her worry close and is strong for her child. I've seen the struggle of being alone through something like this. We had enormous support from family and community, and yet, at the core, I was still alone. It was more painful than I imagined and that is something I need to learn from, and not forget. It has heightened my compassion for others in similar or far more difficult circumstances. It will allow me to attend to others more effectively in my everyday work, as well as grow in other ways, I believe. There is much worth cultivating and learning from in this experience. It feels like a door, and it will be interesting to see where it leads.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Mountains Moving as I Watch...

Today, at the beginning of today, I felt like I was dragging my feet through mud. I was trying to move a few things off the 'to do' list before I start work again tomorrow and feeling more than a little pressure. The fact about my career is, once I start my work week, I barely have time to breathe, sleep and shower between shifts let alone accomplish anything else. I get a pretty focused on my last day-off. One item on my list was important, time sensitive, and at a complete stand still. Another thing which I've been thinking about quit a bit, was also stalled. Thankfully, I checked an item off the list yesterday so at least I felt like something was getting done, for a minute anyway. My first phone call this morning was from the man who was helping me to get that checked off. I had faxed in a form yesterday and he was calling to let me know that I had neglected to sign it. This was a deferment/cancellation for school loans so it jumped back on my list, right at the top. He said he'd email me a scan of what I faxed yesterday. While I was waiting for the email I made a couple phone calls; one to a flooring store for carpet installation and one to my cousin to see when he might be able to inspect my son's car for registration. Both of these phone calls had the same result, probably not this week, maybe next. The flooring store said they'd give me a call back if they had anything open up for the installers. (Carpet installers are backed up everywhere it seems.) For the car, I'd have to leave it with my cousin for a few days for him to fit it in next week, which wouldn't work out well for us anyway. Striking out everywhere. The carpet has been waiting and could keep waiting, no deadlines to meet. I needed to get the car registered though so I was going to have to do more digging there. I was feeling discouraged, not gonna lie.

The email came so I turned back to my form and got it printed. My son, who works for a car dealership in the area was also working on the registration issue for me, checking to see if they could work it in. Not this week. His friend was going on vacation and wouldn't be back until next Monday. The month ends on Saturday so I'm cussing myself for not starting earlier when I get a phone call. No one sounded more surprised to be calling than the man on the other end; it was the flooring place. He said that —amazingly—the first job his installers had scheduled this morning fell through at the last minute and if I was home and had time, they could come right over. The answer to that was yes, and yes please, and thank you which meant they'd be arriving in about five minutes. Stunned, I ran down and swept the room, finishing just in time to hear a truck pull up. The bid was exactly what I figured it would be so I got them started and headed back upstairs to sign my form and download a camera scanner to my phone so I could get a pdf headed back to the man at the University. Soon, I had another text from my son, to let me know that I could register the car with an extension for the tests. I looked it up, and sure enough, it would give me two more weeks to get things with the inspections resolved; exactly what I needed. I got everything set with the insurance for adding the car (also on the to do list), the carpet installers finished their work, I emailed the form to the man at the school and headed to the DMV. While at the DMV I mentioned that I expected my name to be changing soon and asked if I'd need to bring the divorce decree in to have the title changed. She said to my utter amazement that I could go ahead and put the title in my future legal name right then.

There is still a lot on my list, I'm looking at it a little differently though. Times like this I feel very seen and heard, I feel known and understood. Sometimes, as they say, God moves in mysterious ways, and sometimes as I witnessed today, He just MOVES.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

May you...

May you give God full access to your story. May you allow Him to correct and redirect; heal and deal; refine and define. May you remember that you're part of a plan that's bigger than you are. May you trust the Lord's work in your life so He can use you in ways beyond your wildest dreams. Lean in and trust Him. He's got you. Walk forward with expectant faith and a listening ear today!

—Susie Larson

Friday, April 15, 2016

The way I know...

I'm very content in my current situation, I think I've mentioned that recently. Before, when I've heard people say "I'm in a really good place right now" I haven't truly known what they intended with those words. It was a worn phrase without much meaning. Now, however, I understand. I haven't previously experienced this kind of contentedness in my life. I'm a happy person, and I've always been grateful and felt blessed, but it's different now. It is such a fulfilling feeling, a little bit precarious since feelings like that rarely last. It has been sustainable, however; despite day to day struggles, it transcends. There is brain-strain and heart-strain in life all the time, of course. Work can be hectic and mind-bendingly challenging. The kids fight viciously sometimes. In this moment however I feel an over-arching peace, and that peace remains through all the rest.
I recognize the 'good place' primarily due to one huge hallmark, I don't feel that I'm missing anything or missing out on anything. I'm not anxious for something new to start. I'm not worried that I'll be alone or about being alone at all... I enjoy time by myself. I enjoy time with the kids and my family. I enjoy time at work, even with the mind-bending. I plan and I look forward to my time in all of these places and with all the people that fill my world. At home, I choose my tasks. I lead myself around and work on things. Last week it was the yard and garden. When I finished the tasks I'd chosen, I was thrilled with the progress and what a couple of days in my flower beds and vegetable garden could do. I love having my children work on things with me. The seeds we planted are beginning to sprout and I'm excited for the kids to see the growth. Growth brings me joy. At work, I feel appreciated by my peers. I feel a commeraderie I've missed in my life for quite a while. Another nurse said today, "I hope you never leave. If you leave or if so-and-so leaves, I'm leaving, too." I was flabbergasted because I look up to this particular nurse quite a lot. I told her how surprised I was to hear it and asked her why she felt that way. She said she knows I'll get things done, I'll take care of things and she can count on me: I'm so happy to have become 'that nurse'. Seeing the growth in myself is thrilling. And then there is 'my personal life'. Like I said before, I don't feel like I'm missing out. I'm not itching to meet anyone or go out to dinner or have a date. I'm itching to read The Lord of the Rings. I'm itching to craft and work on a project I have for my sisters' birthdays. I'm itching to plan the backyard and the rest of the basement. I love where I am and where I'm going.
I was thinking along these lines on the way home from work tonight. A thought came to me which felt revelatory. It was this: "I trust the Lord to provide and care for me. It would take a very Godly man to contribute to my life in such a way that I knew it would be better with him in it." That is the way I know I'm am in a very good place right now. A very good place.