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I’ve had several pity parties for myself over the last few months while I’ve been out here in California visiting my sick aunt.
Although I’m glad I haven’t been home in Michigan for all the crazy weather, my heart aches for things I’m missing; mainly, my family and friends. I’ve also missed four major holidays, my son’s last day of school, and a half dozen birthdays. Not to mention numerous dinners with friends, my friends’ art shows and countless adventures with my photography/Cracker Barrel buddy.
Spending innumerable hours in the hospital, I have met many awesome people. With the exception of a few, the employees at PIH Health Hospital in Whittier, California are wonderful. Several have gone above and beyond their job description to make sure not only my aunt, but also my cousin, George, her private nurse, Mary, and myself are comfortable and know what is going on. Several nurses have come to visit and pray for her. My aunt has been treated with nothing but dignity and respect.
Aunt Marguerite, despite being thousands of miles away from my home, has always been my favorite aunt. The fact that we both love cooking, collecting recipes, and drinking Scotch is only the tip of the iceberg. My aunt, like my dad, has the cool factor going for her. Through all of this, her sense of humor and well placed sarcastic remarks have stayed intact.
She has passed on those two traits to her son as well. I love that we can both use our humor and sarcasm to help each other get through this crazy/scary time.
When you look past George’s humor and sarcasm, you will find a loving son who is very devoted to his mother. He has slept in her room at the hospital every night since she was admitted April 3rd. The days he is forced to work, he is texting or calling for updates.
While part of me misses my family and friends at home, it is trumped by the fact that me being here has helped my cousin keep his sanity. We have laughed and cried together. My knowledge, albeit limited, of medical procedures and medications has helped ease his anxiety.
Let me tell you, I have learned more than I ever thought I would need to know about PEG tubes, intubation, C-diff, septis, lactic acid levels, and a laundry list of medications.
As I am writing this, I’m sitting in my aunt’s ICU room waiting for George. She is improving and having set backs everyday. It’s a very slow process. She is truly a fighter and has exceeded everyone’s expectations.
I started writing this a while ago. I am compelled to finish it now.
Hearing is simply the art of perceiving sound by the ear. Hearing just happens. Listening is something you consciously choose to do or not do.
With listening you need to not only comprehend what the person is saying to you but then you need to decide if you care enough to do what needs to be done. It’s something you need to do or not do. It can be as easy as putting the toilet seat down to stopping a behavior that the other person is unable to handle.
I wrote a blog about owning what you say & if you hurt someone with those words, apologize. https://ppetroline.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/own-it/ There is another part that is very important, your actions.
Your actions and your listening skills are very important. When someone tells you how they feel or how your actions make them feel…listen. Don’t blow it off thinking, “Oh, she’s just being over sensitive”, “He doesn’t really mean it”, “That can’t be true”. Well guess what? She isn’t being over sensitive! He did mean it! It is true!
Own it! Don’t play victim because someone hurt your feelings by telling you the truth about how you make them feel.
Don’t let it get to the point that someone bites your head off because you’ve pushed them over the edge. Listen to what people say to you. Don’t just perceive a sound, comprehend it and do something.
Sometimes it can go years before one gets backed into a corner and can’t handle the inconsiderate actions of the other. Relationships need to be based on listening, comprehension, actions and love.
I am blessed! Most of you are thinking I’m talking about my life. Sure, God has blessed me with awesome family and friends, and I’m very thankful for that. But I’m talking about me, the person, not me the wife, mom, friend & co-worker. The me I see when I look in the mirror. The me that is a perfect blend of my mom and dad.
My dad is an awesome guy. He has a definite cool factor going on. Looking at recent photos of him, you wouldn’t believe me, but he had curly hair. He has a great sense of humor too. I’m blessed to have gotten curly hair and my sense of humor from him. A cool factor too, if I do say so myself.
My mom lost her battle with breast cancer 19 years ago. I am blessed with many of her attributes. My love of cooking and collecting recipes has kept my family very happy.
Not everyone saw it, my mom had sarcasm down to an art. My brother-in-law, Eric, witnessed it up close and personal. Those who know me, know that sarcasm comes quite naturally to me. Except for my curly hair, I look a lot like my mom.
I am thankful I am who I am thanks to my mom and dad. Not only did I get my curly hair, love for cooking and my awesomeness from them, I also learned love. Love for my family, friends and country plus my relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
While at church, I heard someone comment about Robin Williams, “Fame & money didn’t help him. He needed faith”. That was a sad and ignorant statement! I have faith but that doesn’t make me immune to depression and mental health issues.
I have been consumed by the dark fog of depression and despair many times. Sometimes it is so dark and deep, that I can’t find the words or the energy to pray. I can barely breathe. I’ll open my mouth . . . but there are no words; only tears running down my face. The feelings of hopelessness and helplessness can be all consuming. I’ve been on that slippery slope.
I thank God for His love and grace, and for my professional counselors and my dear friends who have pulled me out of that darkness. I know the Bible verses about faith and not worrying. There are times when it’s hard for me to get the strength to read or even think about those verses. Sometimes it’s hard to hold on to faith. I can’t explain what it’s like when your brain is in a dark void, and where rational thinking isn’t an option. To hear someone say, “Where’s your faith?”, “The Bible says ‘fear not'”, or “Cheer up!”, while I’m in that dark place, will actually pull me farther into the place that I’m desperately trying to get out of.
There are some people who will hear “All you need is faith” and not seek the help/medication they need because they feel people will think they are weak. So instead of getting help they suffer silently; ashamed of what they are going through.
By saying “If he had more faith”, you are blaming him for his disorder/brain chemistry imbalance.
As a dear friend of mine said in a sad response to these remarks, “And the stigma continues”.
If you have not been effected by depression or a chemical imbalance, you have no room to talk. Please know your facts. Don’t be so quick to judge. Reach out to those who are struggling with mental health issues, but don’t try to “fix” them. Be the shoulder they need to cry on, an ear to listen, or just check in on them. Don’t let those who are suffering from mental illness suffer alone or slip through the cracks.
It rained hard the day Robin Williams died. I’d like to think it was because he was up in Heaven telling jokes and everyone was laughing so hard they cried.
2013 is coming to an end. As I look back on this year, there were many things that made me smile (or laugh out loud) & a handful of things that broke my heart.
I seem to have lost a dear friend that can’t let go of an issue, that has been blown way out of proportion, to comfort me on the anniversary of the worst day of my life. I am so thankful for a few close friends that got me through not only that day but also several other days/things that snuck up & knocked the wind out of me.
I am so thankful that my blessings, by far, surpass the crappy things this year. A whole new world was opened up by the purchase of two Canon Rebels. I can’t wait to see what adventures the Rebels focus in on in 2014! I’m also looking forward to a few much needed road trips.
I’m also thankful for a dear friend that has awakened part of my heart that has been asleep for too long.
For everyone reading this, I pray for a healthy, happy & safe 2014.
My heart is full of love but feels empty at the same time.
I miss my mom & daughter and love my sons more than words can express.
I feel empty, loss, love & blessed all at the same time.
When someone asks how many kids I have, my heart skips a beat.
Sometimes I will just say three & end the conversation. Other times I will elaborate on the details.
There are also times I say “Two…boys”. In my head, I finish the sentence, “and a baby girl in Heaven”.
The joy & sadness that I’m feeling intertwines. There are times joy wins & other times sadness overtakes me.