Friday, February 24, 2012

# 112 - On the Road-Trip of Life

While raising our daughters, we had many weekends away and so many memorable road-trips. Now that our daughters are grown women, the likelihood of getting to take a road-trip with our girls is slim.

Everyone is busy with their own lives, doing their own thing, handling their own responsibilities and taking care of their own business.

This is how it is supposed to be in life. You teach your children to do better than you did and to go further in life than you did. Always encourage them to be the generation that takes everything up a notch. My family strongly teaches that each generation should rise above the last...each should do their part to keep elevating the family into a better way of life and help pave the way for the ones to come next.

So, Deputy Dave and I worked hard to give our daughters an edge. These days, we are slowing our pace of life down a few notches. In fact, on our road trips, we literally slow down for the sights and enjoy the scenes that are passing by.

We especially love getting to see tractors. A few months ago, as we were driving along, it appears we've stumbled across a tractor parade or something, there are tractors everywhere and I love it!

This winter, we got to take a little road-trip with our daughters to Dallas. The guys sit up front and us three gals sit in the back while trying to eat our breakfast. It's not an easy feat for some of us, mainly me because I'm naturally clumsy.

As a precaution, Stefie tucks in her famous shirt-bib. Heck, it works, so don't knock it. 

I look at these gals and feel a surge of blessings pouring down upon me in a magical trickle. I am one blessed woman. Having daughters has been a dream-come-true for me. My girls are awesome.

I love that we are at the stage to where they do their own thing and if I have a bad-off day with Addison's, they are off and about, not hovering over me or lagging behind in a worried state of distraction. By now, they've also learned that I seem to bounce back and the best thing is to just leave me alone in my weakened times because it will likely pass. I just have to get through it.

Seeing my daughters live out their lives is the greatest gift they could give to me.

I hope my daughters never have to worry about any kind of chronic disease. Just about every family has something lurking somewhere...cervical cancer, eye problems, kidney problems, gastro issues, some families have mentally imbalanced issues to consider...everyone has something to be concerned about. And as a doctor once told me, "Anyone who thinks they have nothing to worry about heathwise should probably NOT go through too much testing and scanning because it's likely that something, even small, will turn up and ruin their image of themselves."

The doctor told me that so many people are out there looking healthy and not knowing the true state of their health. I guess this is how he tries to make me feel better about my health battles, at least I do know what I'm confronting and my regular testing doesn't leave much room for anything to be sneaky.

I've made my peace with embracing a body that has malfunctions. I learned first-hand that everything can be perfect and a short time later, nothing may be okay.

My Addison's disease might cause me some difficulties, but I am still thankful because there are so many people out there suffering with other things that cannot be helped with medication. At least I have a chance!

And the more that time passes and the more research that is completed, then the less these girls will have to worry about. Medical advances are making leaps and bounds every year. My daughters are healthy; yes, I am blessed indeed.

Times together, just us with our girls, those kind of times are just about gone. Now we've got fiances and boyfriends as part of our clan. Still, we all pile into the truck and take road-trips. Sometimes we just ride around town and look at houses we like. I'd say we're all compatible and enjoy each other's company.

Confronting your situation while living the best you can with it is all anyone can ask you to do. I try to focus on all that I can do instead of what I can't do. I try to allow myself more time to complete the chores that used to be mindless activities for me. I continue to adapt and to do all I can to make life as fulfilling and nice as possible.

The good thing is...Deputy Dave and I have entered this time in our lives where we are making big changes. Speaking of "big" we're getting rid of the house that's too big. Mostly, it is too difficult for me to maintain because of it being a two-story. Stairs aren't too much of an issue, as long as I don't have to climb them multiple times per day.

Change is good, family is wonderful, growth is beautiful and love is the sweetness that should be piled on top of it all.

I thank God for his constant hand in my life, His helping hand and guiding hand and nudging hand...I can't imagine not having it with me. I need it through this life-road-trip, all the way until the very end of my road. Yes, I do.

Monday, February 20, 2012

# 111 - Borrowed Strength

The "For Sale" sign has officially gone up in our yard today. We're selling our house and moving from the city to the country. Actually, we're moving to our acreage deep in the woods, so we'll be building a country cabin, and I can't wait.

After over 25 years of marriage, with the untold ups and downs of anyone who has made it to this number of years married (that still makes my eyes pop out) I am thankful that Deputy Dave and I have found such a good place with each other, we're all grown up now! Well, mostly. There's still a kid in each of us and we like it that way. It keeps things fresh and fun when you are ready to laugh and cut up, just a bit.

We got married so young that we unfortunately had to do some growing up while married. Mostly, that part of the learning process as a couple had to do with truly putting another's needs before your own. However, the "love" part of the equation never wavered and only grew stronger through the years. Our hurdles proved that the willingness to make it through anything together is the attitude we need to embrace.

So many people do not have someone to stand by them during hard times. I definitely stood by my husband through some of his darkest moments, and he, in turn, not only stood by me during mine, but he also lifted me, literally, out of my circumstances. During the long period of time that I had been weakening from Addison's disease, but without the diagnosis, he refused to let me give up. When I had been too weak to walk, he'd stand behind me, he'd wrap his arms around me and put my feet on his and we'd "walk" together.

Yes, I had grown that weak. I had gotten to the point to where I could no longer stand on my own, at least not for any meaningful amount of time, or I would pass out. He physically supported me so that I would not fall; his arms looped around me and held me firmly against him so that I would not be afraid of my legs failing me. And, to the bathroom we'd go. Such excitement!

In every way, he shared his strength with me when I was weak. I've learned that few people will actually do that for you on a deep level. In times of need, borrowed strength can indeed bolster and comfort you.

For too long, the doctors could not find an answer. The "Chronic Low Blood Pressure" and "Chronic Low Sodium" were close, but the answer remained elusive for enough time to pass and make me one very ill woman on the verge of death, too many times. I had been hanging by a thread, but it was frayed.

By the time I had the "big answer" hospital stay that finally led to a lot of testing and my body causing a "Code Blue" to be called...I was too weak to even go to testing without being wheeled there on a gurney, forget sitting in a wheelchair, I'd progressed to not only being unable to stand, I could no longer sustain consciousness while sitting. I could not raise my head from a laying position or I'd be out like a light...I didn't even have enough blood pressure left in me to hold up my head. Things were bad.

But, as exhausted as my husband had been for months, he did a great job of remaining loving and supportive. I look back on all the senseless things we've gone through in our marriage, and we all know, my fellow women, that those "senseless" things are normally the man's fault, funny or humorless, but true. For my male readers, I am sure you are the exception to the rule. :-)

Today, it is beautiful to also look back on all of the on-purpose, determined, loving, strong things that I've seen my husband do for me in my times of greatest need...he did not let me down.

It is my hope that you will also have someone in your life to love you and to understand you through your trials and tribulations. I do believe that by sharing the burdens of another, we help lighten their load, as if we are helping to absorb their suffering. And when it comes time for the tables to turn, I sure hope that others will be willing to do the same for us. Even if relationships aren't perfect, and I have a newsflash, there are ZERO out there that are perfect, I hope that every one of my readers has a good relationship with someone who matters to them and who makes the spinning world less of a bumpy ride.

So, the husband and I are progressing to the next phase in our lives, which is being empty-nesters and selling the big house that has way too much room for the two of us to be rattling around in. Since we started in life together so young...we are still very young. At least we're not sitting around waiting for the next disaster, we're plugging along.

It will be wonderful to move to our acreage and to be surrounded by nature. This has been a lifelong dream for both of us. My husband was always a farmer down deep. I think he was born to work the land, to raise livestock and to operate some piece of big machinery.

Moving from our house in the city will mean that we'll no longer have to worry about climbing these winding stairs. They're beautiful, but having a two-story house has been difficult for me, very difficult. We won't be building another two-story, that is for sure.

Moving to the country will also mean that we can quit worrying about our backyard chickens having too small of a space to roam around. Yes, they are free-ranging chickens who get to have access to the entire backyard, but I will feel better once they have a lot more ground to peck and savor. We give them feed-store chicken feed, but the free-ranging will certainly be more nutritious on our raw acreage.

I've heard that chickens enjoy roaming within a one acre range. I guess we'll see how that works once we are living with a huge front and backyard. That will be a first for us. We've always been suburb/city type of dwellers, but we're very eager to get moved and settled onto our land.

I do believe that being in the country will be good for me. Whether the good Lord grants me five more months or fifty more years, I will surely be healthier with my soul, mind and body being fed such huge daily doses of nature.

We've owned this land for years and everytime we go out there, I feel such a weight come off my shoulders and hearing the wind blow through the trees serves as a magical tranquilizer of some sort, as if I am turning to jello, in a good way, not in an Addison's crisis way! I just feel relaxed, at ease, everything slows down and that's a good thing at this stage of my life.

Private spring-filled lake at our property, you can see a truck parked
in the far left corner, it's a speck. That's for point of reference.
All the rushing, the bustling, the snap-snap hurry up kind of attitude fades away when we're staying on our acreage. And even though I'm sure we'll have some of those kinds of moments, even in the woods, I know it will definitely be a different kind of life.

I'm ready. Now, if we can just sell this house, we can make a fresh start in the country. We are ready.

Camping on our land, like we're kids!
We have the most wonderful times together
while "roughing it."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

#110 - Guest Writer Brings "A Getaway to Get Away"

I've had a guest writer send me an article she's written for today's blog entry. Jenna Walters, an English major, is passionate about writing, especially about health topics.

Once I read her article and thought about it, I realized how important her topic actually is for many people who need to get out of the house more often or who simply need a change in scenery, even if for a brief time.

Sometimes, Deputy Dave and I take a quick jaunt around the Houston area; I bring my camera and see the world around me as a fresh, fascinating place to savor. I click a few hundred pictures, then feel renewed with my attitude adjusted. A trip, whether lengthy or short can indeed be worthwhile.

So, I introduce Jenna Walters and her article, as submitted, below:


A Getaway to Get Away

Almost everyone has experienced a feeling of renewal when getting back from a vacation. You're relaxed, you've had fun and you're ready to tackle your everyday world once again. The problem with this feeling is that, once it's gone, you have to wait around for next year's vacation before you can get it back again. This doesn't have to be the case. You can get that relaxed and happy feeling any time you want by taking short day trips or weekend vacations. Vacations can be especially beneficial for individuals affected by conditions such as peritoneal mesothelioma or addison’s disease.

Where to Go?

Think of all the places in your state that attract tourists to the area. You probably haven't seen any of them since you were a child on school field trips, unless you have relatives who want to do the tourist thing. Discover your own state through the eyes of a tourist. Visit some fun and cheesy attractions and rediscover the joys of being a child in a new place. Tour your state capitol to view the stunning architecture. Take a walk through your state parks and look for unique plants and wildlife.

Every state in the country offers dozens of fairs, conventions and theme weekends throughout the year. The only problem with visiting these is to narrow down the choices. If you love fruit, take a tour of different strawberry festivals and compare recipes and offerings between them all. Look at a new hobby you've been considering and find a get-together of like-minded people. There's nothing like a quilt convention or stunt kite weekend demonstration for getting advice and encouragement from knowledgeable fans. The point is to find an interest, then follow it around the country to see how the locals get involved.

The Benefits

Taking mini vacations gives you a chance to get away from your everyday life. You will get a new sense of enthusiasm for life when every day is not the same as the last. Seeing new sites or visiting old sites with a new set of eyes can give your mind a sense of wonder and renewal, helping you to deal with stress and the troubles you deal with in your normal life.

Short term travel can be educational, as well. This doesn't have to mean dull and boring; on the contrary, real education is something you want to learn. If you want to see how to make a stunt kite dance to music in the sky or taste the absolute best blueberry tart in the world, the best way to do it is to see the experts and find out their methods from watching it happen.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

# 109 - Longing for the Little Things

After I became very ill with Addison's Disease over a decade ago, I had deteriorated so seriously into decline that I found myself bed-ridden most of the time.

At a formerly robust, energetic, and non-stop 33 years of age, I felt despair at being trapped and with a loss of independence. I had gone from being fiercely active as abundant energy flowed through me, to being halted in my tracks...well...I could barely even make tracks any longer because I could not stand for long, at least not on my own. But, the truth was, I felt as if I had a need for independence that could not be negotiated. Doesn't everybody feel that way?

I certainly felt unstoppable, until I got stopped in my tracks, by Addison's disease.

There is a song by Tim McGraw, "Live Like You Were Dying" and the lyrics give the story of a man in his 40's after he's received bad medical news. He decides to live it up, so he went sky-diving, he went rocky mountain climbing, and he went two point seven seconds on a bull name Fumanchu.

I love this song. It sums up the burning urge you develop within yourself after medical professionals tell you that they are not so sure that you will make it. Your brain must suddenly learn to operate without the body as a partner; when the physical body fails you, you find that your brain begins to work over-time. Normally, the body would partly keep you busy...our auto-pilot for physical motions can be fascinating. But, as you are forced to lie in a hospital bed and are without your normal busy life to keep you distracted, your mind begins to expand as it never has been given the chance to do previously.

Being STILL, especially forcibly, for extended periods of time, can definitely CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOREVER.

I realize that some people become seriously ill, yet they still have the choice to do normal things for a while because their body is still cooperating. Hence the song by Tim McGraw with his main character still being able to ride a bull named Fumanchu. However, for me and for many others, an illness or sudden injury can mean that everything in your life has turned upside down and the option to sit on that bull on your own accord has passed by.

For me, I hear this song and I love it, but I think, MY GOODNESS, during my health downfall, I didn't have the choice to go skydiving, especially not with living precariously with Addison's Disease. For me and for others, finding yourself with a serious medical condition or tragic injury might not only mean that you couldn't go rocky mountain climbing, it means that the very simplistic things are unattainable. Forget the dramatic "I'm-Really-Living-Now" kind of moments, how about being so far gone that you are lying there longing to do the little things in life, the little things that had defined your very existence.

Just like the "Bucket List" demonstrates a person's deep-seated desire to "conquer the world" in their last days, a person can also have a "Bucket List" that is full of the desire to do very ordinary, common, little things. Once the ability to do those things is taken away from you, those sky-diving, rocky mountain climbing and riding the bull moments mean NOTHING because all you long to do is to be able to get to the bathroom and back by yourself or to read a book to your child or to go to the grocery store by yourself and push the cart without a thought or care as to the physical cooperation of your body.

Oh yes my friends, for some, that "Bucket List" and those moments where you "Live Like You Were Dying" might be rather humble moments that you long to have back.

During a few serious health battles, as I've had more than my fair share of being stuck in bed or in a recliner, the boring little things that I'd taken forgranted were suddenly being done by someone else, and it dug into the core of my soul that I could not do my simple "mommy" chores.

I wanted to keep being the pro-active mommy I'd always been. I purposefully had my children very young because I wanted to be THAT mom who could keep up with everything the kids did while they were being raised.

Around 1990 - I am holding Stefanie.
And I had been THAT mommy who was strong and on top of the world. Our family lived a life full of biking, hiking, camping, traveling, exploring and being outdoors. We lived with me being the one who drove my kids back and forth to school every day because I dreaded the thought of them riding the bus (but my kids would sometimes BEG to have a "bus" day to be with their friends and it was okay). The Mommy-Ride was always first choice in our house. Those trips back and forth to school every day was literally what I called "Sacred Time" with my children.

I owned a successful business that brought in major money, yet allowed me to attend every school function held during school hours. I didn't miss a beat with my kids. I sacrificed and orchestrated my world around my children. I took my mommy-business very serious, and I certainly didn't want someone filling in for me in this very treasured life position. But, I had no choice because my body was so sick that I had no choice but to linger in bed until my body "recovered."

Stronger again, volunteering at a car wash for the team.
I basically was a contributing photographer for the
team for end-of-year publishing.

During much of this time, I was miserable, sad and mourning the loss of being able to do these seemingly insignificant things for my daughters and for my husband. My faith in God got me through those very "alone" moments, even when people were around me, I was clearly "alone" because my condition separated me from everyone. For so long, I was sad that all of them could walk out of the room and away from the devastation while I remained stuck with it, as time ticked by, I could not escape my newfound jello body.

Even better days were to come after several huge hurdles,
such as this day at a Texas A&M game as I get
to play with her hair again!

At first, we didn't know I would recover, in and out of the hospital I would go, but I began to slowly regain strength and abilities to allow me to do the sweetest, most precious things for my daughters and husband. However, a mommy is a caregiver of the most treasured things she'll ever have...her children. Regaining enough health and strength to resume some of these mommy-things had been my Live-Like-You-Were-Dying moments to savor. I didn't need a trophy, an award, or accolades; I didn't need to run a marathon or lift weights: I didn't need to jump out of an airplane...I just needed to sweep the floor and re-organize their toys and pick them up from school.

As soon as possible, often while pushing myself too far and too fast, I began to again do the things that an ordinary mommy or parent does for their child, especially after she is held back from doing them for too long. And if I hadn't LOVED doing those mundane, daily things during the years BEFORE life dictated a different way of living for me, I sure learned to LOVE them afterward.

My oldest, Heather, with me at a football game to watch
her younger sister (Stefie) perform awesome, sporting dance
moves at half-time.
In a way, I feel strangely blessed and privileged to have learned this lesson while very young. Yes, that is a blessing indeed, to learn to appreciate all that you have on a higher level, that is an amazing gift.

This is a photo of the time-frame when I was beginning
to fall ill due to Addison's disease. My oldest and very tall gal is actually
only about 13 years and my youngest is around 10 years old.
So, I am going to take the liberty to rewrite the beginning and with the opening chorus of this song, according to my own experience that maybe some of you may relate to during a huge change in life due to illness, injury or whatever has kept you down against your will. Indulge me...because I've already lived like I was dying, and I never missed NOT having the chance to ride Fumanchu.

She said I was in my early thirties,
with a lot of life before me,
when a moment came that stopped me on a dime.
I spent too many precious days,
in a cloudy and confused haze
while talkin about the options
and talkin about sweet time
I asked her when it sank in and
this might be the really real end
I said how's it hit ya
when you get that kinda news?
Man, what'd ya do?
and she said,

I missed mommy things,
To listen to my daughters sing,
I longed to make my child's school lunch,
To simply hug both kids a bunch,
And I pulled my kids closer,
Longed to be the mommy-boaster,
And to do normal things just like I used to do,
And she said some day I hope you get the chance,
to live life that's anew.