Welcome to my blog!

I started this blog to share the ups and downs of real life. The good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the mundane, the insane...you get the picture. Why??? For no other purpose than to encourage others who are raising a family, going through the ups and downs of life, letting you know you are not alone, and that we are not all epic failures for having a life that is not perfect!!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

What do I do with the leftovers???

Odd title for a post, huh? 

Let me start by saying that I am now 13 days post surgery, and it hasn't gotten any easier.  I was great for the first 3 or 4 days, which I understand is quite normal due to the medications and anesthetic.  I find that the pain is becoming a bit more manageable now, but still have days where it is severe.  I am walking about a block a day, when I am up for it, but haven't had much energy for anything else.  All in all, surgery was a necessary evil, and now that it is over, I am feeling very overwhelmed with the leftovers.  No, not food in this case.  Emotions.  Things that I should have resolved a long time ago.  Also left is the damage that the last 6 months or so has caused in my life. 

Lets start with the emotions.  One of the ones that is still catching me off guard is anger.  I am usually not an angry person, but I don't even know how to begin to sort through the things I am angry about.  Things like all of the people who doubted what I was really going through.  All of the people who didn't know, because they weren't interested in maintaining family connections.  Co-workers who did nothing but talk trash, and create more drama and aggravation, to the point where I don't even know if I want to go back.  Anger with the doctors that missed this, or dismissed this, or treated me like I was drug seeking.  I find that most days, that is what I struggle with the most.  I am also feeling very saddened at times.  Sad for lost relationships.  Overwhelmingly sad again about the loss of my father.  Sad for the fact that even though I am surrounded by people, I feel insanely lonely.  I also feel so blessed!  So many people have supported us with prayers, visits, calls, emails, meals, (i don't think we've had to cook for two weeks!), and even money.  As we speak now, friends are planning a benefit to help us financially over the next few months.  We are truly loved, and although I will never be able to repay this, I will make it my life's mission to serve other people.  I have decided after my recovery, I will pursue full time ministry, which I truly feel is what God has called me to do. 

Another leftover I am having a hard time processing is the damage that this whole ordeal has caused in our lives.  The emotional toll on myself, my wife, and my kids break my heart.  To hear them all express their fears about me dying, or not being the same after surgery, are wounds that are deep, and will take time to heal.  We've also lost everything.  Our second vehicle, our checking, our savings.  Gone.  Even the money saved so far for our 15th anniversary trip-gone.  Luckily we have disability, and Emily is still working, but it's still going to be a long road to get back to financial stability.  It is very humble knowing that there are people who care enough, and care so much, that they are pulling together a benefit, and special offerings at church.  It's amazing, and this is truly how God works.  Aside from the financial losses though, there are damaged relationships, lost time, missed opportunities.  It's hard to try to put a list together of steps to begin to repair that.  I've also lost touch with so much that made me who I was.  How do I get that back?  And will I ever be that person again?  It's going to be a long road to get back to normal, and even when I reach that point, it will be my goal to get healthier physically that I was before. 

Now here are some leftovers that I can't get enough of!  I am so overwhelmingly proud of my wife and my kids.  The way they have rallied together, the way they have taken care of me, the way that they have even cared for each other has been amazing.  I have and AMAZING family!  I'm also loving the leftovers of care, concern, prayer, and encouragement I am feeling from so many people.  That is what makes all the negatives so bearable.  I have a huge amount of time leftover too!  I fill it with rest, which my body needs for healing.  I fill it with playing games with the kids, having great conversations with them,  cuddling with my Emma.  I watch them all too.  It's like I have a front row seat to watch how they are all growing, changing, becoming fantastic, exceptional people.  I don't think many people get that opportunity or perspective.

This isn't a pity party.  (okay, maybe a small one, but I'm entitled to that once in a while)  Alot of my readers are people who have illnesses that are "unseen", and alot of people with chiari have begun following my blog.  I want people to understand that everything I am going through, and no doubt thousands of others go through, is normal.  It sucks.  It hurts.  But we will come out the other side, stronger, better, and changed.  And that is normal too.  Too bad there aren't any Tupperware containers for life's leftovers.  But then again, some of them aren't worth saving.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ball of Confusion

So here I am, two days before the surgery that I have been waiting a year for, and I am full of second thoughts.  This blog is mostly going to be about the Chiari, and the impending surgery, but I'm also going to share where I have found inspiration, encouragement, and peace throughout it all.

Last weekend really kind of started the emotions rolling.  On Friday, when I got the news that the surgery was in one week, I almost panicked.  My heart started racing, I got all sweaty, it was crazy.  You know what helped instantly? Talking to my mom.  Its funny, you are never too old to need your mommy.  My mother, brother, sister and aunt, and all my nieces came over that night for swimming and a cookout.  It was a fantastic time, and it so helped to have their support and their love.  It was something I missed.  Then on Saturday, it was my uncle's wedding.  It was a very happy occasion, he married his long time partner of 12 years, and if anyone deserves to be happy, he does.  And I cried.  And cried some more.  I think that was the trigger that opened up the flood gates.  I cried because I was happy for them, because I missed my father horribly, because I was heartbroken for my mother, because I was overwhelmed with everything that had been happening in my life.  It was a good cry though, very cathartic.  The Sunday at church, my friend Benjamin Tubbs sang one of my favorite songs, "Healer", and my friend Ken encouraged us, loved us, let us know our church was there for us, and then the whole church gathered around us, and prayed.  There were hugs, tears, words of encouragement.  It was amazing.

Monday morning was rough.  It was pre-testing day.  I was feeling overwhelmingly angry.  Angry with all the doctors that missed this and then dragged their feet for so long.  Angry that my supplemental insurance is fighting the claim.  Angry with all the people who criticized me, doubted me, and told me to get over it.  I posted something to that effect on Facebook, and got some nice comments back, but one stood out.  It was a post that one of my oldest friends from high school and the old neighborhood wrote.  Her name is Michelle Whitehead Hastings.  She lives in Arizona now, with her husband, and children.  Michelle is a beautiful person.  Fun, loving, devoted, inspiring.  She always has been.  Michelle is also fighting her second bout of colon cancer in three years.                                                                                                                     (you can read more about her and her story here:  michellewillwin.blogspot.com
I was perfectly happy in my pitty party.  Grabbing on to anger with all I had.  Until I read her post.  Here's what she wrote: "Send letters. When I'm actively advocating, I hear about ppl all the time that are blown off, only to be diagnosed at a later date. I encourage them to put words to paper, and let the drs know what happened. They are ppl too, and need to know that a mistake happened. By doing this, you might help.someone else from going thru the same thinh you're going thru. Just my two cents...."
Uuggh.  A punch in the gut.  Here was me, looking at, well, me.  Instead of realizing I was one of the lucky ones, who only struggled with this for a few years, compared to other people who have struggled with this for decades, I was basically whining.  Michelle, thank you for that eye opener.  And for those of you who don't know her, that is very much a piece of who she is.  She hasn't let her cancer beat her, and she has served more people, encouraged more people, and inspired more people, not only with her words, but her character, and journey as well.  So, that is my new goal.  Not sure how, or even where to start, but after my recovery, I will bring more awareness to Chiari Malformation.  

As of today, all preparations that can be made, are done.  I am feeling anxious, scared, (who am I kidding, terrified), yet blessed, loved, and ready for whatever may come.  

Emily will be updating Facebook often, and once I am better, I will write about the whole process.  With that said, thank you all for your love, prayers, and continued support.  See you on the flip side!!!