Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Dawn, A New Year

I had a PTSD episode last night at dinner. It was the first time I've been able to recognize and identify an episode for what it is and work through it. Progress! I was even able to pinpoint the moment it triggered. I'll post more on that when I get home in a few days. 

Hubby got me a beautiful anniversary gift. More on that (and a picture!) when I get home, as well. :)

It's New Year's Eve, my anniversary, and the day before hubby's birthday.  In 2012, I resolve to get my priorities straight, which it took me most of this year to even recognize. I will be a wife and mother first, a student second, and everything else after that. Most importantly, I'm going to focus on my schoolwork without letting anything interfere with being the best wife and mother I can be. Family comes first, now until forever. They are far too valuable to take for granted ever again. 

Happy New Year to all of you fabulous folks out there! What are your resolutions? Favorite or defining moments of 2011? How will you celebrate the passing of one year and the dawn of another? I want to know! :)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Greetings from Texas!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season! We had a great time visiting both sides of my extended family and taking a couple of small family trips into the Texas Hill Country for shopping and a Museum of the Pacific War. 

Last night, hubby and I checked out a restaurant called Barleyswine. It was, by FAR, the best food I've ever eaten. I'll have to go back on future visits!

We've got reservations for our anniversary Saturday and a family dinner with my parents, brother, and future sis-in-law for New Year's. It's been a great visit so far with some exciting things left to happen, but I'll be glad to wake up in my own bed on Wednesday. 

Happy New Year to all of you!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Travels

Bright and early tomorrow morning, we'll be flying to Austin, TX for Christmas with my family. We always spend Dec. 23rd in East Texas (near Beaumont), visiting my dad's side of the family and doing presents with them. The 24th is spent in Houston, where there's a huge family gathering at my maternal grandparents' house (we're talking 40-60 people in one sprawling house in the country), where the kids do a gift exchange, everyone eats, the wine flows freely, and we sing Christmas carols in the living room. Then we drive back to Austin to spend Christmas morning at my parents' house.

Christmas is my favorite time of year, and Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year. The family togetherness, the connection to my gajillions of cousins, the food, the singing, the warmth... It's just incredible. Sometimes, I get overwhelmed, and I have to take a few minutes to go sit in the walk-in closet in the guest suite until my nerves defray a bit, but when I come back out, no one says anything about it, and I just slip right back into the festivities. It's grand.

Last year, I missed Christmas Eve because I was on a gig with the band. This year, I'm thrilled that the hubby, C, and I will all be a part of the celebration. One year, it actually snowed in Houston on Christmas Eve, so we all went outside and sang Frosty the Snowman in the snow. It was absolutely magical.

Of course, our trip will encompass more than just Christmas with all the pieces of my family. We're staying through New Year's Eve, our anniversary, and New Year's Day, hubby's birthday. I know hubby is anxious about spending two weeks with my family (in-laws stress everyone out, even if they're great in-laws like my parents), but he's keeping the grumbling to a minimum because he knows how important this is to me. Next year, he'll be working through the Christmas season and won't be able to take off long enough to travel, so we'll be apart for Christmas. It works out that way every other year, which is why me working out of town last Christmas wasn't a big deal (except that it meant missing Christmas Eve in Houston!).

This year has been hard on our marriage. We hit some speed bumps along the way, but we pulled through it together. We renewed our vows in October, so, in a way, this is almost like our first Christmas together. Certainly it's our first Christmas since we've been this close and strong in our relationship. I can't wait!

We're celebrating a mini-Christmas tonight at home with the gifts that didn't get shipped to my parents' house. I don't think hubby sent any of my gifts to Texas, whereas I sent all but two of his down there so he'd have them to open on Christmas Day, on our anniversary, and on his birthday. We're not going to do a fancy Christmas dinner tonight or anything more than exchange gifts, really, because we're trying to cut back on spending, and it'd be foolish to cook a huge meal and have to throw away the leftovers because they'd spoil before we get back. Besides, we have to do things like pack for the trip and assemble our new guest bed tonight. ;)

I don't know how active I'll be here while we're visiting my parents. I may post a brief message or two from my cell phone if there's anything interesting to share. Hopefully I'll think to snap a picture of the New Year's Eve "hubby's birthday" fireworks over Lady Bird Lake and post that, just to be festive, but I know you'll all forgive me if I don't spend my anniversary/my husband's birthday blogging. ;)

I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season, however you choose to spend it, and I wish you all joy and warmth in your hearts.

<3, WK

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wonderful Weekend!

This truly was a lovely weekend. No emergencies, no stress, no fussing about over anything!

Hubby and I like to play World of Warcraft (we're a nerdy family over here), so we spent a few hours leveling up some low-level toons together, which is always fun. I don't enjoy the game much if I'm playing alone or just with guildies, but when I can play alongside my husband, we get to make jokes, mess with each other, and battle over who gets what gear. It's all in good fun, and I enjoy playing my alt more than my main character, so I'm glad we did some leveling this weekend.

Hubby found all of the most recent season of Dexter online, so we enjoyed a little mini-marathon of Dexter last night from the comfort of our sleeper sofa, which we pulled out and covered in thick, fluffy comforters for the event. Some might argue that watching people get slashed and stabbed isn't romantic, but we both LOVE the show, and cuddling up under the blankets while watching it was wonderful.

I also paid a visit to my salon yesterday. My roots needed touching up, and I got my eyebrows tinted and waxed while I was there. It was nice to have a few hours of pampering, and I left feeling much prettier than when I went in, so it was money well spent! ;)

Today, we spent most of the day with some friends of ours in Reno. We went to lunch at a fabulous little sushi joint, where we had All-You-Can-Eat-And-Then-Some sushi! I noticed midway through lunch that one of my two nose studs had fallen out at some point, and I was afraid that the piercing was going to close before I could get home and find another piece of jewelry to hold its spot until I could purchase a replacement stud (I've been wearing matching turquoise nose bones side-by-side, and I don't have any extras, so I'll have to order a new one for the second piercing). So what does Heather do? When we get back to her house after eating, she pops into her studio and, in less than five minutes, has a handmade sterling silver nose screw for me! (To see her handmade sterling silver jewelry, which I highly recommend as a gift or for yourself!, visit Fortunately, it slipped right in, so my piercing is secure until I get a replacement nose bone. Hooray!

We bought Heather's old bed frame today for our guest room. They were looking to sell it to make room for a different style of bed that's more pet-friendly, and we were looking for a queen for our guest room, so it worked out perfectly. The only catch is that we got the bed home, and it won't fit where I had initially intended it to go (unless we never want to turn on the ceiling fan), so I'm going to have to do some furniture rearranging tomorrow while Hubby's at work so we can assemble the bed in a different spot tomorrow evening. Now I just have to talk him into buying a really nice mattress for it, and it could be better than the bed in the master bedroom! We used to have a rickety old daybed with a twin mattress in there and an air mattress for the floor if a couple came to visit. It'll be great having a more comfortable sleeping option for our guests in the future. :)

C has been a little angel all weekend. Even at lunch today, the waitress brought her a bowl of sushi vinegar-pickled cucumber pieces, and C kept herself occupied by munching on the pickles without any outbursts or spills. It was fantastic! She's been toddling around without her AFOs since Tuesday because they weren't seated right Monday and irritated the scar on her foot, and, I have to say, I'm very impressed with how much more coordinated my little girl has become. She still is less stable and falls a bit more without her AFOs than she does when she's wearing them, and she'll be wearing them again tomorrow, but it was reassuring to see how well she could do without them, now that she's mastered the skill of walking a little more. They tell me she's stacking things and climbing them at school now, too, which isn't exactly what you want your child to be doing but is GREAT news from a developmental standpoint!

Have I mentioned yet that we ordered her new custom wheelchair on Wednesday? Randy, a representative from MedTech (a company in Reno), drove down to C's preschool to meet with us. There was a chair there that he was able to use to demonstrate some possible features we could get and to show me how the chair would fold, how to take off the wheels, etc. He said he'd be doing a follow-up call to ask me about color preferences, but I told him right off the bat that if yellow was an option, we wanted yellow! Yellow is C's favorite color, and I want a chair that represents her personality. While getting a pink or purple chair would be adorable, it would be forcing a stereotype on C instead of representing her as the person she is, so yellow is really the only option! The estimated turnaround on her new chair is about two months, so it will be a little while before we see her new yellow wheels, but I'm excited and can hardly wait!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

To Carry, Or Not to Carry

Living with PTSD, you develop a certain... shall we say paranoia? Walking down the street, through the crowded aisles of the grocery store, in your own living room when someone knocks on your door, you are surrounded by perceived threats. As I have become more aware of my PTSD, those feelings of being threatened have become more intense.

Recently, a friend invited the hubby and me to go out to a shooting range and fire off a wide array of guns, from the very humble handgun to the very high-tech sniper rifle. It reminded me of shooting rifles at camp as a kid, but there was a greater sense of power and control, looking down that scope, knowing I could hit the tiny metal animals that were so far away, I couldn't see them with my naked eye. That got me started daydreaming about carrying a gun for protection.

Now, before anyone goes crazy on me... I don't own a gun. I will not own a gun. I will not allow a gun in my home or near my daughter. I am not anti-gun, but I wouldn't feel safe with one in the house. Accidents can always happen, you know. That aside, I'm not exactly mentally STABLE, so arming myself with a deadly weapon just doesn't seem like the best idea. So what was I going to do to get back that sense of power and control in my life? What's a girl to do to feel safe in the world if she's afraid of the risks of carrying a gun?

My therapist supplied the answer yesterday. He told me that he felt protective of me, almost fatherly... And that I should pick up some pepper spray right away.

Pepper spray! Now, why hadn't I thought of that?? I shared the suggestion with hubby.... who supported it 100%.

After confirming that pepper spray is legal to carry in all 50 states, and, more specifically, legal in containers of 2oz or less in my home state, I started browsing the internet and found a cute little keychain canister--pink--for under $10. Perfectly legal, will provide a sense of self-protection, and is cute, to boot. Who would've thought--aerosol weapons as a fashion accessory?

I'm going to wait until after Christmas to order it. Goodness knows I've spent far too much money online in the past six weeks, preparing for Christmas! I may not ultimately go with the pink one (although the real appeal wasn't that it's pink so much as that it claims to support Breast Cancer Research), because I really don't care what it looks like. I don't intend to ever use it. I just need something for those *just in case* moments, something to make me feel like I can protect myself, like I'm not entirely helpless or at the mercy of another.

I actually struggled with this decision. It's not something I took lightly, and obviously I'm not jumping into it. I looked up the laws first, I took hubby's input and my therapist's input and weighed the pros and cons of carrying any sort of weapon, and I decided that this is something that I need in order to regain control of my life--a control I haven't felt for over 8 years now. This is a good thing. It scares me a little, but it's a good thing.

So I'll be ringing in the New Year by arming myself with pepper spray. I feel good about this.

A Time to Mourn

Yesterday afternoon, a friend's father passed away. He had been in the hospital, but all reports had been good, so I was shocked to hear of his death. This afternoon, my husband learned that a very old friend of his passed away Monday night. Still young, she died in her mother's arms. I urged him to take comfort that she died somewhere safe and happy. I mean, I can't think of a better place to go than in the arms of someone who loves me.

Last year, a very dear friend of mine passed away just a few days before Christmas. He was a high school friend's father, my youth minister, and he was in my wedding ceremony. When he passed, it absolutely crushed me, and I remember being furious at God for taking away such a wonderful man just before Christmas and leaving his (grown) daughters with no one.

Losing a loved one is certainly never easy; no one has ever claimed it was, to my knowledge... But somehow, that loss seems profoundly deeper during the holidays. At a time when we are urged to celebrate family and togetherness, to express our love for one another, and to flock to our homes, it's devastating for a key figure in that image of Christmas Past to be missing.

My heart goes out to the two families whom I know have lost members this week, and to anyone who may be reading who is grieving the loss of a loved one. We all experience loss in our lives, and there's just no way to make it easier or to make it painless. This time of year, it's really thrown in your face if you've just lost a family member... There just are no words to make it right.

I wish we could have a guarantee that, during the month of December, no one would die. No one would suffer, accidents wouldn't happen, the ill would feel a temporary respite, and everyone could celebrate and love one another without fear of tragedy. I, for one, will be holding my husband and daughter extra close this season, telling my parents and brothers that I love them, and treasuring my Christmas celebrations with both sides of my extended family. I'll embrace being back home for the holidays. I'll be grateful that all my loved ones are near, if only for one night, and I'll put aside complaining about how life isn't quite what I had planned. Life is too short to be unhappy, and you never know when tragedy will strike. I'm going to make sure that Christmas is full of joy and love.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thus Ends the Penny Drama/Growing Up

Well, after several x-rays, a less-than-successful operation, and several enemas, the penny that has haunted me for the past couple of weeks is now out of my life forever! C's x-ray this morning was completely clear of foreign bodies, meaning the penny snuck out in yesterday's diaper (despite my valiant search efforts), and I can finally breathe easily again... Until the next time my darling daughter decides to put something in her mouth!

I took the weekend off... from life. Sure, I did my motherly duties, fed and played with C, but I spent the vast majority of the weekend in my pajamas on the couch watching Criminal Minds and Law & Order: SVU marathons. I love the crime dramas because the bad guys always get caught in the end, and that gives me a warm sense of satisfaction and peace. If only real life worked out that smoothly!

Hubby and I are super excited because C's preschool is hosting a Parents' Night Out tomorrow night. Free babysitting at the school for two hours, long enough for hubby and I to go out to a nice dinner together without worrying about whether C will be quiet and cooperative. Also, I'll get to eat my food without stopping after every bite to give her a bite or to quiet her with a toy. It'll almost be like being a young, childless couple again!

We weren't prepared for parenthood when C came around. She was a happy fluke, and we were incredibly excited when we learned she was on the way, but it wasn't what we had planned. Just a couple of months prior, we had gotten pregnant and miscarried, and we decided at that time that it was for the best, that we needed a couple more years of just being the two of us before we brought in a third party. Well, I blinked twice and was pregnant again. I had planned to have a Master's degree before having a child (as opposed to now, where I'm earning my Master's while parenting full-time), to have a steady job and income, and to have traveled and seen a little bit of the world before settling down. I was a party girl, still into the club scene and bar-hopping with my girlfriends. I was still a kid. Then I was pregnant.

I thought I would be able to hold onto my youth after she was born, but then the diagnoses started rolling in, and I spent the first year and half of her life in hospitals and doctors' offices, getting bad news and then worse, facing crisis after crisis, surgery after surgery... And that ages you pretty quickly. By the time C was medically stable and I had enough time to do anything other than see another doctor, I had grown up. Too quickly, of course (isn't that always the case?).

I don't regret one moment of it. The beginning was tough, but I always got through by holding my baby in my arms and looking into her beautiful face. I miss being young, feeling young... I mean, it's not like I'm old and wrinkled now (although I do have some worry lines on my forehead, brought about by tough years of medical uncertainty), but I don't feel as vibrant and energetic as I did when I got married. I used to go out every night, and now I'm happy to curl up in pajamas under my electric blanket and watch tv in the evenings. I regained a little bit of that youthful energy while I was singing with the band, but at the cost of time with my family and an education that I earnestly wanted... Not the best trade-off.

I don't know if I've completely resigned myself to growing up yet. I still cling to certain things that make me feel young and carefree, such as dying my hair drastic colors or getting pierced or tattooed... I still want to go skydiving again, and I'm determined to go skiing one of these seasons, when I can find someone to watch C. Someday, I'll get to visit London and Germany and Ireland. Someday, I'll star in another musical or sing on a stage in front of a packed house again. I still have plenty of time to be young, to have fun, to be a little bit crazy, even. I just have to find myself a babysitter first. ;)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Penny's Travels

There it is! If it doesn't pass by Monday morning, we'll have yet another x-ray to see if it's stuck in her malrotated intestines. Joy!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

When the Dust Settles

Hours after the fact, knowing full well she wouldn't understand a word of it, I walked into C's room and I apologized. I apologized for yelling at her, I told her that she was perfect, that I had been in pain and took it out on her, that it wasn't fair, and that I was sorry. I told her that I loved her more than anything in the world.

Again, she didn't understand a word that I said. That doesn't matter. What matters is what she DID understand: she understood that I'm her mommy, that I love her, that I came into her room and held her and read her a book and turned on the light so it wouldn't get too dark in there. She knows that I love her, and she feels that love every day. She understands that.

I feel better now.


I started the morning with a painful drilling of my tooth. I blacked out at the gym. My tooth still hurt. My arms were sore from the workout, and she was arching and twisting in ways that caused severe pain. I was stressed. I was in a hurry to get out of there. People were looking. She wouldn't stop. It was the same thing over and over and over again...

It was a hundred tiny things that bubbled up at the same time into one outburst. One moment of sheer frustration, one yelled "No!" at my child. My child who didn't stop when she heard me yell, who didn't even react, for that matter. My child who didn't understand that Mommy was in pain or that she shouldn't be grabbing bags of chips off the rack or that she was making the simple task of buying sandwiches more difficult. My child, who didn't understand that she was doing a single thing wrong, who was only aware that there was something exciting in front of her, and she could reach out and grasp it, and so she was doing so with great delight.

I yelled at my child today. Because I was frustrated. Because I was in pain. Because, sometimes, that's what we do as parents. We snap and we scold our children a little too loudly, even though they don't understand a single thing that's happening in that moment and couldn't possibly grasp the meaning of your shout.

I am not at all proud today. I know better, but I feel like a lousy parent. I mean, I'm studying Early Childhood Special Education. I have made a choice to devote my LIFE to children who will be difficult to handle at times and who won't always understand me. I should be more patient, right? More understanding? More selfless?

I'm the mother of a child with special needs. I should be perfect, shouldn't I?

Each of us knows that it's a ridiculous notion. There is no such thing as the perfect parent. There isn't a person alive who NEVER loses their cool for an instant here and there. Especially parents of children who don't fit the mold... We know better than anyone, don't we, that sometimes you just get fed up? Tired? Stressed?

It's completely forgivable. It's understandable. It's HUMAN.

And yet... None of that stops me from beating myself up over it. I yelled at my child today. My beautiful, perfect little girl who didn't understand a single thing that was going on in that moment. My angel, who kept right on grabbing those bags of chips after I yelled because she didn't understand that no means no or that Mommy was frustrated or that anything at all was out of the ordinary.

I am not a bad parent for yelling "No!" at my child. I know this, and tomorrow, it won't be weighing on my mind and on my heart... But today, I'm having a really hard time being okay with this. Today, I feel like I failed her.

Just goes to show you, every day is a struggle, but, in the end, we endure for these amazing kids.

I Missed the Memo On That One...

So, you know how they say you shouldn't work out for a while after a dental procedure? OOPS. I completely forgot, nothing was mentioned during my appointment, and I went STRAIGHT FROM THE DENTIST TO THE GYM to meet with my trainer. I was wondering why I was so shaky and weak throughout my workout, but I just figured it was because I missed my normal workouts this week due to the craziness around here. It wasn't until I blacked out and fell over into my trainer's chair that I realized something

was up and figured out what it was. Sometimes I'm a complete idiot. All I can really say is, Oops. I've decided to take up running. I've seen a lot of people on Twitter who run marathons and 5Ks and the like to raise awareness and/or funds for autism and other special needs, and that's a bandwagon I'd really like to jump upon! Because I'm prone to dizzy spells when I do cardio, I brought it up with my trainer, and we're going to start easing into it with next week's workouts. I'm going to run for a minute on the treadmill, followed by walking for a minute, running for a minute, walking for a minute, and so on. The next week, it'll be run 2min, walk 1min; the next week: run 3min, walk 1min... And you get the picture. The idea is to gradually build up endurance and acclimate my body to running so I can do it safely. It's going to take a long time before I can run a 5K or anything like that, but I'll be working toward a goal and making progress every week, and that counts for something. A lot, really.

I left the dentist two hours ago. My face is still mostly numb, except for the tooth that was worked on, which hurts. Anesthetic fail.

On that note, I'm gonna go wait in the living room for C's bus to bring her home from school. There's nothing like a toothache to make you want to hold your kiddo. ;)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Back to Normal

Things are slowly getting back to normal around here. I slept a lot yesterday, sleeping off the exhaustion that resulted from my 13 hours of medical misadventure on Monday, and possibly fighting off a bug that seemed to be trying to worm its way through my immune system barriers. I woke up today and got C ready for school as usual... Only to then find a note in her backpack that today was a staff development day, and there would be no school. Doh!

So C went on an errand with me. What was supposed to be a quick trip to the car dealership for my 10,000 mile oil change and check-up turned into two hours of me watching her amuse herself with the various toys in the "Kids Corner" at the dealership. She bounced around from the toy trains to the toy diner, the dry-erase board to the video games to the books. Two solid hours, and not a single complaint out of her. No whining about being hungry or tired or bored... Just constant exploration and play. I have to say, I was really impressed. The time flew by just watching her amuse herself, and I actually had an enjoyable time.

I also was able to order a can of touch-up paint for the two "oops!" spots on my car. (Oops.)

When we got home, I had about two hours to go until I had to leave to take my final exam for my Serving Individuals With Disabilities and Their Families class (long name, eh?). I reviewed my lecture notes and watched a little Law & Order while C played in her room. Hubby came home with Starbucks for me (yay!), I made the hour-long commute to school (boo), and I finished the exam in 20 minutes (whew!). Then I drove back home, the fall semester officially behind me and a glorious Christmas break beginning.

C has school tomorrow, then next Mon - Thurs, and then she's on break for the holidays, too. We're spending almost the entire break with my family in Texas, and I can't wait. It's a little bit tiring to be there with C for extended periods because their house isn't kid-proofed and doesn't really have anywhere where we can let her run free and play, so there's a lot of chasing C around the house and redirecting her back toward appropriate play things and safe areas. She also doesn't sleep much there, so that's a bonus. =/ All that being said, I am REALLY looking forward to my trip "home," to seeing friends and family, to Christmas Eve at Maw-Maw & Paw-Paw's (an ENORMOUS family event!), and to a very special anniversary night off from parenting to enjoy being with my husband.

The only bad news today is that hubby still hasn't been able to get his referral to a neurologist about his migraines, and C still hasn't passed the penny, which means more x-rays to make sure it's not now lodged somewhere in her gastrointestinal tract. I swear, she's going to be glowing by Christmas at the rate she's going!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

So, Yesterday Pretty Much Sucked...

Seriously, I can't remember any day as hard, aside from C's first two surgeries, which were both major surgeries that lasted a long time, and holding myself together in the surgical waiting area for hours seemed nigh impossible. Once again, though, I pulled through, C pulled through with flying colors (this is why I call her a warrior!), and the emergencies have all passed.

Miraculously, although I was on the verge several times, I didn't shed a single tear during or after my crazy day. I wanted to cry when I left my husband to fend for himself at Urgent Care, and again when I found out they were sending him to the ER. I wanted to cry when they told me that C's coin could have ruptured her GI tract and might leave a hole in her esophagus, and again when the surgery took twice as long as the time they quoted me and I still hadn't heard anything.

The hardest part for me was being so torn between the need to be there for my daughter in one city and the need to be there for my husband in another, and having to choose between the two. I just wish the crises had occurred just one day apart so I could have done right by both of them. Instead, I took care of my daughter and left hubby to fend for himself, which was the right choice, but which still felt like choosing one love over another... Which broke my heart.

At 9:00, they told us we'd be staying the night in the hospital. At 9:30, they said it would depend on how well C tolerated liquids. By 10:20, we were on our way home. Mind you, my day started with an x-ray order picked up at 9:00 and an x-ray performed at 9:30. I was on high alert ALL DAY LONG, over 12 hours. I got through it by texting hubby frequently to give him updates and get updates on his medical situation, calling my mom a couple of times, and texting/talking to one of my very best friends in OK, who somehow manages to be the calming spirit in my chaotic life from thousands of miles away. Bless her for being her! I didn't have a single anxiety pill all day. I suppose I could have asked for one at the hospital, but it never even occurred to me... And now I'm proud of myself for staying strong through a whole mess of a day without any meds. Bonus points for me!

C is back at school today, and hubby is back at work. It's almost as if yesterday never happened. The only lingering effect is that I had one hellish nightmare that I'm having trouble shaking this morning (it feels like real memories instead of a dream), but that's fading as the clock ticks on. It was clearly just a manifestation of all of yesterday's anxiety into a horrible people-killing-each-other dream.

I found a LOT of encouragement and support from Twitter yesterday. I was posting to keep my mind and fingers occupied during the long waits, and I was surprised at how many people sent prayers and kind thoughts out to a complete stranger who was having a rough day. It reminded me about the good side of the internet, the companionship and support and help that are out there amidst the scams and porn and shopping sites. It reminded me of the wonderful people of the world, and made me grateful that they're out there and haven't been beaten down by the horrible people. It helped a lot.

Now, I move forward with life. Yesterday, awful as it was, is over and behind me, and there are no lasting crises. I get to move back into my role as wife and mother without all the hysteria and medical questions thrown my way. Yesterday, I felt like my family was fractured and in peril. Today, we are whole and safe again.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Crises Abound!

I am writing this from Renown Hospital in Reno, where C is being admitted for an emergent surgery, scheduled 30 minutes ago, to remove a coin that has been lodged in her throat for at least two weeks. I spent all morning at the hospital at home waiting for it to get lined up, was sent home to wait, and found out five minutes after I got home that hubby needed a ride to Urgent Care. I was in the waiting room with him when I got the call to drive to Reno. Just after I left, Urgent Care sent him to the ER. Why do they both have to need me at the same time? Couldn't just one of these emergencies have come tomorrow so I can be there for both of my loves? I had to act too fast to think to grab an anxiety pill, so I'm left to get through both situations all on my own. Today is not one of the easy days. Wait... Have I ever had a truly easy day?

Sunday, December 4, 2011


We have renamed the kitten from Seamus to Shameless, because he's a shameless attention whore and food thief. Hubby still calls him "Kitten," though.

The One Where C Gets a Cold

C never gets sick. I mean, like, NEVER... But, for the past few days, she's been battling a cold. It was just a runny nose at first, but now it's crud in her chest with a little cough and massive running of the nose. Really, it's beyond disgusting. She's an oozeling.

So, following my best Mommy Instincts, I am keeping her home from school tomorrow in hopes of giving her a day to rest up. Of course, we'll have to leave to go get her follow-up X-rays to find out if there is, in fact, a round metal object stuck in her throat... And whether or not she rests is completely up to her, as that child CANNOT be forced or tricked or lulled to sleep. She sleeps when she's damned good and ready for it, and no time else. All I can do is turn off the lights to minimize distractions, give her a bottle so her tummy will be full, cross my fingers, and hope for the best.

Of course, keeping her home means I had to cancel my workout with my trainer, but that can be easily rescheduled. It also means getting her X-rayed earlier in the day, which *might* mean getting an answer back by the end of the day as to whether we need to intervene on this coin or whatever the last X-ray showed in her throat...

...So maybe she won't be getting any extra rest, just a little less excitement than school offers up to her. =/

Still, at least this way, she doesn't get any of the other kids (or teachers!) sick. Poor kid... She never gets sick, but when she does, she's just plain miserable. :(

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Another Week Comes to a Close

This week was a fairly typical week. I went to the gym Monday and Wednesday mornings, I went to my therapist and started EMDR on Tuesday, I had class Wednesday night. I played WoW Tues-Thurs nights for about 2-3 hours each night (raiding), and I spent Friday being as lazy as I could possibly manage while Ceili was home because there's no school on Fridays. This morning, I woke up early to go to the salon and get my roots touched up and my bangs cut.

I had Starbucks four or five times this week, including this morning. I stuck to my diet 3 days, cheated on dinner the 4th day, and cheated outright yesterday, although it IS a flex plan with two days off per week, so it just means I have to get back on the diet tomorrow instead of waiting until Monday.

I spent three days on the phone with our pediatrician's office trying to get follow-up X-rays on the coin(?) in C's throat that showed up in her X-rays on the 22nd, which the doctor felt needed foll-up X-rays to see if it was still lodged in her throat and/or needed surgical removal. That battle to get someone on the phone and to get a phone call returned resolved in them calling me after closing on Friday to tell me I could pick up the X-ray order on Monday morning, so I guess I'll be going by there while C is at school and taking her for X-rays when she gets home. It makes me nervous knowing there was something in her throat and that it's taking this long to verify whether it's still there and whether it needs removing.

I also spoke several times with the company that will be making C's custom wheelchair, as ordered by the orthopedist at Shriner's. Things seem to be progressing well so far. They're going to talk to C's PT at the school on Monday and schedule a time to go down and evaluate C, measure her, etc to determine exactly what kind of chair and cushions she needs. That will be done before they can get authorization from our insurance company, but it seems our insurance company has a good track record of approving mobility assistive devices from that company when a doctor orders them (no small miracle there!). The insurance company typically covers $3,500 of the cost of the chair, which should be enough, unless it's determined that she needs custom molded cushions as opposed to just regular cushions that are cut to size and placed strategically for her needs, so there's a chance this new chair could cost us nothing, which would be an enormous miracle. Now I'm just crossing my fingers that there's any chance we could get the chair before we leave for the holidays on Dec. 20, because we use our current wheelchair heavily while traveling, and it would just be fantastic to have the new one ready in time for our trip!

I foolishly bought "one last" gift for my husband for Christmas, even though I couldn't afford it. It's something I know he wants, though, so it'll be worth it when he opens it and bursts with childlike excitement over the silly thing. I'm having all of his gifts shipped to my parents' house in Texas, which is where we'll be spending Christmas. His anniversary and birthday presents are going there, too, as we'll still be visiting there when those special days roll around.

For our anniversary, which happens to fall on New Year's Eve, we'll be staying at the same hotel we stayed on our wedding night, with the same view of the river and the fireworks that are set off over the river at midnight. My mom is babysitting C overnight, so we'll get to go out to dinner and/or drinks if we like, have a romantic night in a luxurious room, and try to remember what it's like to be a couple instead of just parents. Sometimes it's difficult to be both, and parenting always seems to come first, so it should be a really good night off for us. I can't wait! Plus, the next morning is his birthday, so he can open anniversary and birthday presents all in the hotel room, and I won't have my mom looking over shoulders grumbling about how I spent too much money on gifts. ;)

Ceili's school didn't send home any art projects this week, which was a bit of a disappointment. Some weeks, they send home a few things on Thursdays, and then other times, they wait a few weeks and send home a whole bag of stuff all at once. I guess they'll be sending a bag one of these weeks, so I can at least look forward to that, but I just burst with pride when those things come home from school, especially since she's doing more and more of the work by herself, and I can see her influence expressed in the art. Looking at her fingerpaintings, I can see her in my mind, hands covered in paint, smearing the page and squealing with utter delight. That's half the joy of getting her work.

I missed the post-Thanksgiving weekend 60% off custom framing at Michaels, so I'm going to have to wait for their next framing special to get a favorite fingerpainting and her first completely solo watercolor done with a paintbrush framed to hang in the hallway. I intend to turn the hall walls into a C museum with all of my favorite works. She's getting watercolors for Christmas this year, so she'll even have some homemade works to hang on the wall. (I need the hallway because, let's face it, a refrigerator door just isn't big enough to showcase all of the artistic masterpieces made by an only child with special needs!)

I've been plugging on Twitter lately, and with good reason. They have an amazing array of toys and furniture that are perfect for parents or educators of children with a variety of special needs, and many of C's Christmas presents are coming from there. The biggie was the sand and water table I ordered on Nov. 28 that arrived at my door just FOUR DAYS later, on Dec. 2. I'm not going to set it up in her room until after we get home from Texas, but she is going to LOVE that. The water table is her favorite station at school, so I know it's the perfect Christmas gift for her. I'm going to have to get creative about covering the carpet in her room, though, or I'll never be able to get the sand out of it! ;)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

You Just Can't Use the R-Word

First of all, it isn't medically correct. Forget politically correct for just a moment... People are no longer classified as having mental retardation. They have intellectual disabilities. So calling someone *cringe* retarded is outdated and makes you look ignorant. Congratulations.

Secondly, you never know who's listening. You may think calling something retarded or calling a person a "tard" is okay because, well hell, everyone else is doing it, right? You don't actually mean to make fun of people with disabilities, you just think your friends are being idiots. Well, what if the person at the table behind you has an ID? How do you think it makes them feel to hear the term "retarded" thrown around in a derogatory sense? What if the person in front of you in line has a child with an ID?

The one that hurts me the most is the joke about "Doing (fill in the blanks) is like being in the Special Olympics; even if you win, you're still a retard." Now, the Special Olympics are a WONDERFUL thing. They bring a sense of pride and belonging to so many kids and families. There's a sense of accomplishment, pride in doing your best and maybe even winning at something for the first time in your life. It's about support and encouragement. Why on earth would you want to turn that into something ugly by making mean-spirited JOKES about it??

I have at least one person who will never talk to me again because she posted that joke about sports fans on her Facebook profile, and I called her out on it. I pointed out that, as a mother, she should understand that it's hurtful to other parents as well as to children who have an ID, and she doesn't know everything about who's reading her posts. She didn't know that I have a child with developmental delays that will likely be diagnosed with an ID when she turns 6 (the magical age in which Nevada no longer accepts "developmental delay" as an eligibility-meeting diagnosis for special education services). Similarly, she wouldn't necessarily know if one of her friends had a brother, a sister, a cousin, an aunt, an uncle, a parent, or a grandparent with an ID. Posting that horrific joke in a public forum was just plain wrong, and I wasn't going to let it slide. I was polite in pointing out that it's harmful to make jokes and to use the r-word in a derogatory sense like that, but she was so upset that someone would point out that she did something wrong, she unfriended me and hasn't talked to me since. Frankly, my life is better off without the kinds of people who will make those jokes and then not listen to you when you point out how damaging they can be. Learn from your mistakes, kids. Don't just insist you're always right and run away.

I typically try not to call anyone out in public. I pull them aside or send them a private message indicating that what they're saying is deeply offensive, and that we could do the world a lot of good if we eradicated that word from the colloquial lexicon, one person at a time. Most people are apologetic and understand with just a gentle nudging.

The other night, I was in a 25-person group playing an online video game. Two people had already thrown out the r-word in the group chat, so I spoke up and requested that they not use that word anymore. My polite plea prompted them to use the word even more often, and three others joined in, just to taunt me. I felt sick to my stomach and nearly cried. I had to remind myself that people like that fall into my "horrible people" category, and I can't let them have power in my life. I can't let them get to me, and I can't afford to give them my tears. Those people--the ones who go out of their way to offend and to be cruel--need to be ignored. You can't save everyone, I guess...

But the battle rages on. I will continue to do my all to eradicate that word from our society, to make people more aware and more sensitive, and to protect the feelings of individuals with ID and their families. It's just too important to let go.