Ugh! Doormat For Hire

While my parents always instilled in me to be the bigger person, while I know it’s a good trait, it can also be my own worst enemy.

So my ex husband planned another vacation with his new family that my son loathes to have one last hurrah before going back to school, I was initially scheduled for a week with our son Sunday-Sunday.

Since there is definitely bad blood on my side, I wanted him to be inconvenienced in having our typical Sunday night drop off which was the original plan before he got another vacation up his sleeve – which would force his hand in his departure time because of it.

Had he not have trampled all over me and just admitted the truth that I was merely a piece of ass the couple of nights this past January and the reconciliation he had tried for years with me was clearly down the toliet once I was ready to make my move, because I finally trusted him and the changes in his behavior – like a moron I fell into the trap that I avoided for years after our divorce ironically,

I would have been very flexible and amicable and accommodating in his request for Saturday instead of Sunday so he could drive up with the new “family” but because he hurt me, and made me feel used when I was most vulnerable I told him because I’m still hurt and I’m still very much angry some 8 months later that I would not make his life any easier.

I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to mail the girlfriend of almost 3 years with proof about his indiscretions to give him a taste of his own medicine when i caught him having at least an emotional relationship with one of his girl “friend”. the day before we were to drive to Minnesota for the holidays.

Funny thing was that after that very suspicious discovery that I finally got a proposal. Considering we had already been together 7 years, lived together for most of that time and our son had just turned 3 but I only got the ring when our son started playing with his fathers unlocked phone and somehow hit the messages icon which took me directly to the lastest conversation – which I found a week before that woman was even in my house for our son’s 3rd birthday party, which I always had a red flag on from day 1, Needless to say she was specifically not invited to our wedding.

Even though I think she has a right to know what he had done, and I want to be that scorned woman who is just full of fury – while my son would love it because he really isn’t fond of the girlfriend of 3 years, and can not stand her daughter – I wasn’t raised to be that person.

Just like I swapped custody for Saturday so it would be easier on him – because that’s how I was raised. I guess the worst thing about love – is figuring how to recover from the carnage left behind. Even more so when your body is already broken that even doctors today can’t repair me.

The most cruel thing about any of this is that once you give your heart, there it will remain. Even if they don’t love you back.

Affirmation

So the last week has been interesting… seems the beast has reared its ugly head again and I face the possible decision of another surgery. While I can't imagine ever having an MRI as ugly as the original reveal when after 6 years of searching for the root cause of my neck pain was finally discovered which caused enough devastation. This latest one has to come in 2nd place. Leaving me to actually ponder should I even resign to more surgery when I know that the functionality of my life span seems to ever so slowly diminish everyday.

But it seems that that my best years are already behind me physically and emotionally I can't fathom ever having a love and a life that could even come close that what I know now more than ever in retrospect, especially when Mr. Coffee is the as emotionally supportive as a pet rock – and that's me painting it in a positive light.

It's moments like this where I look at my life in review and where it is presently is and realize the huge mistakes in my life that had I not made that I while I'd still be broken in body, but I would be surrounded by my family, my first and only true husband, and our son, and that love could withstand my current diagnosis, no matter where it would end. While my body would still be broken, I would be loved and cherished and most importantly emotionally supported.

Where my marriage to Mr. Coffee was based solely on fun with no foundation and my desperate need for medical insurance.

But that's not reality. Reality is my first and only real husband has finally found my replacement. And no matter how many times I wanted to go back and had the opportunity, I was always scared of Mr. Coffees temper and fury and then I had doubts whether my husband had truly changed or if it was just me that brought the worst out of him. Then I was sure and I was ready and miscommunication both in and out of the bedroom made me realize that his heart had finally let me go and the plethora of offers to move back where just a memory and chances I wanted so badly to take, but fear of Mr. Coffee and his fury kept me where I stood and from the only person who did love me for better and for worse.

So here I've spent the last 8 months in a state of hurt, anger, wanting to be vengeful and expose his cheating with me to my replacement, and feeling perhaps I had been duped all along. It's quite a mixture of emotions that even daily meditation and distractions like trying to learn French and attempt to crochet something for more than 10 minutes before having to stop because of all the physical pain I endure every single day.

But most of all I miss my best friend, who even after the divorce was always there for me no questions asked.

I even went as low as to initially throw a monkey wrench into his vacation plans with his new found family by sticking to a date for drop off he confirmed before he made those vacation plans. The angry, hurt part of me wanted to. But in the end, as much as I want to hurt him for hurting me, I just couldn't do it. It's not me. I've never been the vengeful type. Even during the contentious divorce, I didn't even ask for the full 20% of child support, it was more like 10%, I didn't seek out pensions, 401Ks, nothing – even the judge asked me if I was sure. It's just not who my parents raised me to be.

So as this latest cross road lies ahead in my diagnosis, Im sure I will being forced to make more choices based on best guesses of my medical team.

Part of me is starting to accept that period of my life, that blissful moment of knowing what true love really felt like but didn't know how good i had it until it was gone – was a gift, a beautiful gift, that with that the sorrow of that loss, which is so incredibly powerful, was the affirmation of what it was like to be truly loved – for better or for worse.

Which makes the next stop in this roller coaster of a diagnosis that has robbed me of just about everything even more a daunting task.

Reality Check: I might have married a complete moron!

It's official… I've married out of stupidity. At least this time around and our latest story begins this past Monday in the wee hours of the morning. Where I'm awake the entire night (again) from the immense pain that my spinal cord damage brings me just about every day that ends in Y.

I'm trying to get some sleep because I have a physical therapy appointment at 6 am. And what happens? Of course I fall sleep at 5:15, wake up at 7:30, call the office to see if they can reschedule, and nope Mr. Porcupine is booked solid. Wonderful.

Mr. Porcupine is my physical therapist, and I'm pretty sure he has every master degree related to PT and even Oriental Medicine….and that he's the only person I'd let anyone stick a dozen needles sometimes 1/2" down into my neck and then start moving them around – on purpose. And before you even ask it's not acupuncture – it's dry needling. Something I would equate to being smacked with a porcupine for fun – thank god I have a developed a high threshold for pain even with my condition. Because you will not always be left unscathed from those sessions and most people wail while I have entire conversations without missing a heartbeat .

So yeah that was the first casualty of Monday. Then I decided it was finally time to call Dr. Lurch – My Neurologist as I've had some new symptoms that alarm me – like my entire right hand going numb – trust me when I tell you I've lived through this one before and it's always a bad sign in my experience – and if that weren't bad enough…. some other symptoms I have gotten worse… yep another bad omen. But thankfully I'm actually will see him in 9 hours or so – providing I get at least some sleep. Which I think will be a safe bet.

So back to Monday….. with that I finally catch a nap when my second husband, Mr. Coffee, comes home and yells up "Rip Van Winkle I'm Home" … Seriously??? If I could ACTUALLY sleep that may be appropriate and while it slightly annoyed me, so me and my trusty cane go down the stairs to tell him what's going on with my about my symptoms and what's concerning me.

Then his "passionate" voice starts to come out.

"Can't you go and see a specialist?".

At this point I'm wondering if he's paid any attention at all the last 2 years… because clearly when I say I'm going to the neurologist translates to him like :

I'm going to see a dentist about my spinal cord.

The stupidity unfortunately just counters his "passionate" voice and I pose the obvious question…

"Do you know what a neurologist does? What body parts he specializes in?"

The answer does not shock me in the slightest.

"No"

"Brain and spinal cord, so what kind of specialist where you thinking of? "

"One the specializes in Myelopathy"

At this point I'm convinced that not only has he not paid attention at any doctor visits because he's too busy telling them how to do their jobs – a key reason I don't bring him anymore unless it's absolutely unavoidable – you know it's bad when I ask my parents if they can take me before him. But it's also dawning on me I've married an idiot. And the voices are now full blown "passionate" as he likes to call it because he doesn't "yell"… yeah and I still believe in the Tooth Fairy. And for me to explain to him yet again why my case is so atypical would be a waste of breath.

"What do you think a neurologist does? Spinal cord is half the speciality and Dr. Lurch himself has Myelopathy -not as bad as I do, obviously"

At this point I'm wondering if he even knows what I have other than what it's called.

"One that does only Myelopathy"

"Do you even know what Myelopathy is?"

"Yeah it's a spinal cord thing"

Thank you, but Captain Obvious would like his hat back.

"Myelopathy is any neurological deficit in the spinal cord – you know the damage that the compression done over who knows how long…which is what the surgery fixed the compression but can't reverse the damage it did, but it the only way that a "Myelopathy doctor" would exist is a research doctor and I'm not going to be a guinea pig"

"Well I'm sick of arguing with you so take your miserable ass back upstairs. Happy f***ing Anniversary"

Wow ok. First of all cave man, anniversary is Tuesday, not Monday, but you'd know that if you wore your wedding ring because I had it engraved so you didn't have an excuse to forget.

[Insert huge face-palm here].

I'm certain my visit with Dr. Lurch will not be nearly this entertaining but the waiting room might be.

Annoyance Should Be A Felony Punishable By Duct Tape!

As if my beast of a diagnosis isn't enough to deal with on an hourly basis, I've had to get creative in what I can and can't not do, because 90% of things that I used to do for leisure I can't, and the remainder of that 10% I can only do for usually 10 minutes at a time.. like crocheting. Pathetic I know, considering I remember the days I could crochet for hours and not get tires – but now the fatigue forces my hand on every aspect of daily life.

So I decided to take up a skin care routine that my mother has been hounding me about since I was 20. So now that I'm not flying by the seat of my pants 24/7, I've now invested in my skin, in an effort to at least not look as old as I feel. And what does that give me?

Oh yeah, the suspicion of having a boyfriend. Which is especially laughable when I rarely text or call anyone, and I've got a bonus teenager home from Michigan for the entire summer and my biological teenage son that is here every other weekend and so far 2 week long stays.

Granted Mr Coffee had bad past experiences but when it comes out nearly on a daily basis, even after I told him it isn't funny to me, he continues his teasing even after he said he would stop. I'm staring to think the 13 year olds have a better maturity than Mr. Coffee.

But I do get it, to an extent that my Beast knows no boundaries on what systems it affects and sadly pretty sure that my sex drive got taken out during surgery. It sucks but at least I'm not in a wheelchair paralyzed from the neck down.

I think the biggest reason is my husband #1 truly loved me unconditionally, disabled and all – which probably accounted for the two times I've actually been able to have sex – just not with my current husband, but the first. Mr. Coffee does not – he's even pissed me off by telling me he's going to put me in a home – because that's a sure fire way to never get anything from your wife other than a cold shoulder.

I'm sure that happens everywhere but guys listen up…. it's more annoying and shows your maturity level as a 12 year old. It's skin care for crying out loud – something that most guys I come across don't even know what that is – relax. Start to worry when I start buying lingerie and condoms in bulk and you're not getting even a kiss from me – then start to worry.

In the meantime, I'm going to search for the duct tape – because old wise men say it fixes everything.

The Drama Is Free, Heartbreak is Not.

So what I've omitted during my harrowing struggle for my life as I know it, is many times I've come very close to leaving Mr. Coffee to reunite my marriage to my first husband – who no matter how many low points always was there for me and he in some way always be paired to my soul. We went through for better for worse and through sickness and in health way before we ever said our vows. We passed the test of time, and after 2 years of marriage therapy, I think that after dealing with our sons medical crisis for the first 4 years of his life, we forgot about us. We were both at fault – our individual pride got the best of us and led to our family's demise.

One thing I've always prided myself on is I've never cheated on anyone in my life – EVER! But somehow a few times along the way, my husband would reel me back in, like the magnets we were always were and before I knew it, I would cheat on Mr. Coffee with my first husband – both before and after Mr Coffee and I got married. I hated that I broke my mantra – I always thought my husband and I would reconcile but I was always terrified to leave Mr. Coffee because of his anger and past rages – especially if I were to leave to go back to my husband.

So after my surgery and during that year I was back at work, my husband and I had a misunderstanding. I told him I needed to save money for a divorce and pay off my medical bills from just having neurosurgery. Funny thing is I remember exactly where I was during that conversation – I was in my car, on my way home from work, at a stop light 2 blocks from work. Apparently what came out of my mouth didn't register as I want to come back home but I need to save money first. So he continued on his journey with his first serious relationship in 5 years post divorce, which I was oblivious to.

I constantly heard from my husband, come back home, stay home, you don't have to work, etc. Every single day we would talk and text and he would ask me how I was doing and if there was anything he could do to help me, etc. When I found out he took a trip with his girlfriend her and her daughter and my son, I questioned him on it and was told not to worry about it. Which wasn't the first time I heard that and they would always go. But in true drama fashion, that would change the course of things when I had to take disability.

But as it always happens, I found myself sleeping with him a couple of times this past winter. I knew something was way off when he didn't even want to kiss me and wouldn't look me in the eye. I was ready to come home and was met with oh that ship has sailed. But oh yeah sleeping with you on more than one occasion was a mistake but I refuse to call it a mistake. WTF?!?

Talk about a twisted knife into my heart. I finally believed his change was legit, he was constantly offering me a place to live and not work. All to be taken away in a heartbeat. To say I went off the rails is an understatement – I was ready to show up at his girlfriends house just across the state line with texts in hand proving his infidelity. But I didn't, I was always taught to be the bigger person, but this time I struggled to be even a person let alone a decent one. I became some rabid animal that totally became unhinged. I was absolutely enraged that I let myself be trusting and completely vulnerable and transparent and I can't think of any other time in my life where I had made to feel like the biggest fool ever.

I even thought about suicide a couple of times, never too seriously because of my past history with suicide of a close family
member that pains me still 26 years later, but I'm not going to lie and say I didn't think about it. While that would take all my physical and emotional pain away, it would scar my son for life, and while I hated myself for being duped and letting my guard down, and maybe even getting what I deserved, I couldn't ever do it to my son.

The worst part being is I finally realized after all the fun got taken away by this illness/injury that Mr. Coffee was only good for fun – not for better or for worse. What's even worse than that? Being stuck between a rock and hard place.

If I leave my marriage I will lose my insurance and will be left at the mercy of the federal government who can't even start a fire with gasoline and a match these days, or if I stay, I will continue to be miserable without the person I want to be with more than anything who probably won't admit that he doesn't want me back anymore because he couldn't be honest and call a couple of winter trysts a mistake.

I want to believe this is my time to grieve the marriage I left behind that didn't get the grief it deserved, but I don't. I can't help but feel jaded that I'm doomed to spend the rest of my life in pain – physical and or emotional. The physical pain I live with is a hands down medical fact that I will never have a pain free day – I may have fairly tolerable days and then I will have days that will require opiate based painkillers, all of this with another heavy duty pain patch.

I want to be able to peacefully let go and not feel the pain of half my life that feels like it's been wasted on the emotional side and destroyed because my love story is finally over and I will never be the same physically from my disease, and emotionally from the hurt of being gullible and trusting or maybe even worse is for 20 years I was completely delusional but sadly I know that I'm not. But when our true love stories end, we are never ready for them to end.

But who am I kidding? I want to believe the good in every single person exists, but when my current husband Mr. Coffee tells me he will put me in a nursing home is NOT comforting nor evening funny. Hell even if he ever found out I cheated he would murder me – and I dont say that lightly. He's one of those hair trigger my way or the highway and I don't get a f$&@ about other people or their feelings. (Please don't ask me what I was thinking getting involved with Mr. Coffee, I'm still trying to figure how I got myself into this mess)

My hope is that my continued daily meditation will show me the best path to travel and hope that I have the courage and strength to take that first step. In the meanwhile, enjoy the free show of the drama in this area that is therapeutic empowerment.

A Miracle, Four Hours & An Unexpected New Life

Continued From Oops That Wasn't a Light but a Train!

The day finally came. I wasn't dreading it, actually looking forward to closing out the 6 year circle that plagued me and gave my doctors a surprise they didn't plan on. The last thing I remember from the operating room was joking with my neurosurgeon saying "Cut me Mick". Something he no doubt had no idea what I was talking about, as clearly it wasn't even his name. That phrase was a childhood staple. My father and his brother spent countless of hours building things – woodworking. Every single time they made a cut, one of them would yell "Cut me Mick"… which anytime a saw comes out those words are uttered every single time right before the sound of a saw blade is heard…again neither one wasn't even named Mick so I couldn't tell you how the name came into play.

Waking up roughly 6 hours later in recovery where I remembered my parents bickering about underwear shopping and me telling them to get the hell out with the sorest throat I've ever had would be the first memory, the second quickly followed by them looking at each other saying "Yup she's fine" and off they went.

Strapped into a hard neck collar that I would have to have on 24/7 for the next 6 weeks would be miniature hell on Earth. It hard to stay on even while I showered and slept so I ended up with 2, one I would take off after the shower to dry while the dry one was carefully strapped back on. But I didn't really worry, I was looking forward to going back to work and getting on with life now that they found the source of my issue and in my mind it everything would go back to normal. This beast had lost in my mind. I had a top notch surgeon who was well known in his field – who even taught his process to other neurosurgeons – surely this was going to be no contest.

Recovery was typical, full of pain meds and physical therapy which I was no stranger to, but I was itching to get back to the promotion that I had to leave behind a little after 2 weeks of starting it. The day finally came – Back to work and I was excited to be back. It quickly became apparent that this wasn't going to be as easy as I thought it would be.

Winter seemed to come early that year and I seemed to be a magnet for falls and stumbles – which I wrote off initially because I didn't want to hear that they were too late and that that damage already done was permanent. I was fatigued and the severity of the pain varied on the day but I continued to take my Tramadol which was what I was initially prescribed before the diagnosis and after, when it was time to go back to work, hoping for some alleviation.

By the time Spring rolled by I had already had 2 MRIs and a CT scan from falls post-surgery and then I had strange reactions to the Tramadol that could only be described as absent seizures. For instance, I couldn't find my car in a parking lot (which is not large by any means) where I always parked in the same space and sat and looked at my car for 20 minutes before it became clear to me that it was my car. To make matters worse I had vanity plates with my name on it which I stared at for 20 minutes in the chilly early spring temperatures.

I continued to be chronically fatigued a couple hundred feet to a conference rooms, walk across the large campus. So I tried working from home, which didn't fare much better as a combination of medications to keep me pain free were now in the most restricted class of medications and the muscle relaxers and anti-seizure medications that make me drowsy made it hard to focus on simple things let alone large complex global networks.

Things were not getting any better – I was repeatedly falling, stumbling, had a foot drop which didn't help matters, constant pain that would send most people to the ER, inflammation, muscle spasms into my shoulders and just for kicks, the cord damage led to another development … myoclonic jerking of my limbs – and the more stress I was under the more severe things became, and the more other levels of my neck took a beating for it.

Summer was approaching, and the latest MRI showed the cord damage had not subsided, the level above the surgery was showing bulging that hadn't been there prior. The stress of working in global IT requires many things: long and weird hours, tolerance for high stress environments, and patience of a saint. All of which my 10 prescriptions, some highly controlled by FDA regulations, a pain patch that could be deadly to others if not properly handled, and 3 days a week of physical therapy for the past year couldn't meet the challenges of my career – or any career for that matter, and it was beginning to take a serious toll on my health.

As I approached my one year post op, my existing symptoms and pain were getting worse than they'd ever been with new ones developing on a quarterly basis, my physician told me I had to choice to make – between my life and my livelihood. For someone who loved to work, who loved every single new challenge that every day would bring it was a blow to which it's still a struggle to accept my body's limitations. I knew if I continued on, that my days would be numbered. I had to admit defeat, because my son deserves his mother, no matter how bad shape she's in. Even visitation with my child was becoming too much on my body. Basically anything that was scheduled or normal was on the table – because my magic 8 ball couldn't tell me how bad the pain and fatigue would be on any given day. That meant work, visits with my son, all the housework and cooking and even grocery shopping would fall onto Mr. Coffee (which he was not happy to say the least).

All because my spinal cord exhausts my body by constantly misfiring signals from the brain – which has given me nothing but pain, myoclonic jerks, and most recent tachycardia….this was not what I had planned for my life and is my own personal hell, but at least I'm mindful enough to know that there are people out there that got a worse hand then me, and for that I'm grateful for the good years I had before these dire straits.

Even today, on long term disability, it's hard to schedule anything because living in severe chronic pain is exhausting – so exhausting that something mundane like taking a shower is an event that can require assistance.

Oops.. that wasn’t a light but a train!

Continued from Darkness & Light

That day is April 2015 is one I'll never forget. Laying in that MRI machine I got "that feeling", something that I almost never get but when I do it's never wrong.

After the 45 minutes of the constant banging sound the MRIs make I jokingly asked the technician if she found any aliens in there I should be made aware of. She laughed and said no. But there was something about the way she said it that didn't make that feeling go away. Mr. Coffee, my 2nd and current husband drove us home which took less than 10 minutes. We weren't even home an hour when the doctors office called and said I needed to call the neurosurgeon and make an appointment and that they have already called ahead to get me in as soon as possible. That's never a good sign, and I've never been drama free as evidenced by my wedding and pregnancy. Oh and did I mention I just got a major promotion less than 2 weeks before the MRI… yeah I'm a magnet for really weird drama that you only usually read about. I still can't be sure if I have the worst luck or I'm just drama magnet.

While I poured over my MRI images and the subsequent report that was posted within the hour, it didn't take much googling to figure out that half of my discs in my neck were ruptured and compressing the spinal cord – and in some areas the signal was compromised – or in an easier way to explain it, constantly misfiring because of the damage. Damaged that only occurred over a significant amount of time since there was no acute trauma to account for it.

Within the week I found myself sitting in the office of an renowned neurosurgeon with my sister in law in tow. While I wasn't scared or terribly concerned, mostly because I had done enough research to know that surgery was going to be mandatory, and the only real question I had going in was regarding that signal change that was going into overdrive.

I wasn't expecting to hear that he was surprised that I walked into his office let alone how lucky I was because it was so bad that a little fender bender or a slip and fall would've certainly led to 1 of 2 things. Death or paralyzed from the neck down.

I think this freaked my sister in law out way more than me because I was so calm and collected and wasn't freaking out over a 4 hour surgery which happened to be my first surgery ever. As to the damage that was already there, he told me essentially if it's been there less than 6 months it should be reversible, if not then the chances were slim that I would get full functionality back.

The odd thing was that despite some tingles and numb feeling in my legs and feet with some occasional nerve pain and of course the ever present throbbing pain in the neck and shoulders, I didn't have the severe symptoms one would expect to have like bowel and bladder functionality issues, gait issues, and the like. But since I'd survived my pregnancy complications, I figured: "Ok. This is bad timing but I'll have the surgery and be back to work and that will be that." Because this was extremely urgent, I was scheduled in the first opening for surgery, slightly less than 3 weeks from my doctors appointment.

Then I stared to notice the subtle things that passed my attention: my walking was a bit off and sometimes I felt like my right foot would give out and become a tripping hazard…. that happened all along but again, wrote it off as me always in a hurry and being a klutz. Then it really gave me a punch… less than 10 days until surgery.

It was an early Sunday morning about 2:30 in the morning when I sat up and quickly became aware that I could no longer swallow. Because Mr. Coffee had to work, I called my parents a mile away to take me to the ER less than a mile from my house since Mr. Coffee is a lineman who works with high voltage lines, I thought it was best that my father take me, since Mom overreacts and Mr. Coffee goes into panic mode and grills the doctors so he is never my first pick; just because he's so argumentative with my medical staff – which is ironic because even if his leg got cut off, he would refuse to go to the hospital and try and superglue that damn leg back on as if it were that easy.

So I explained everything to the triage nurse which helped that my entire medical staff is a part of this hospital which is incredibly stress free in avoiding telling the entire story to the variety of my team of doctors – so it was easy for the doctors to see my entire medical history and images.

One resident , an IV drip, a diagnosis of inflammation that was putting more pressure on my spinal cord, some prednisone and opiates shot into said drip and that was the first time in 6 years I'd been completely pain free in my entire life – especially the last 6 years. The down side is the prescriptions they dole out are never as potent. But my parents took me out to breakfast, laughed at me the entire time, and then proceeded to work from home so they could keep an eye on me.

It was decided at that point to yank me out of work and try to get my surgery in earlier if they could, as the symptoms became more severe and worrisome. Mothers Day fell on the before my surgery so as my last meal, my parents took me out to Outback – because if I had to pick a last meal before I had to fast and then deal with post surgical pain, then I was going to do it right and fill my stomach to the brim.

To Be Continued …

Friday’s New Character – Double Feature!

So in order to effectively tell my story and the family drama that goes with every family, I’ll need to introduce the various cast of characters.  Today I will start with the ones that are pivotal to my very existence – Mom & Dad.

Mom:  Was just shy of 21 when she had me.  She was the last of a very large brood of children – 12.   Lucky number 12 was born when her father was 57 years old, and her mother was 36.  I still can’t wrap around my head that my great grandfather was alive when Lincoln was president.  Mom grew up very poor and lost her mom at 16, and was especially close to her 2nd eldest sister – Child #7 (Whom we will introduce a later date).  Met Dad at work and married Dad when she was 5 months pregnant with me – the only child.  While I was growing up, mom had some mental issues and was heavily medicated and had a few stints in institutions due to several suicide attempts. Her father whom none of the children were close to, died at the age of 82 when I was 4 years old.  I have only a single memory of meeting this man that was my grandfather on his death bed.  I spent lots of time with her 2nd eldest sister during the weekends to give me a sense of normalcy, and when #7 moved away, 3rd eldest sister #10 took over.  Mom and I have always had a strained relationship needless to say.  Growing up she was the mom that was still going to AC/DC concerts while I was in high school.  She was the cool mom to my friends and they loved her and a lot of them called her mom – even to this day.  Moms ways took a sharp right turn when Sister/Child #10 suddenly passed away and she turned religious – something that was never in my house growing up.  To this day Mom continues to try to make up for all the bad things, and I’ve continued to try and be receptive.  Nobody’s perfect but Mom definitely comes with lots of drama and baggage.  My parents are still married after nearly 40 years and it are close to this day, although it took them about the first 20 to get to that point.  Interesting fact – moms family tree and all of the nuts are descended from patriots during the Revolutionary war against Great Britain for our independence of these United States – John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams our 2nd president, and John Quincy Adams, our 6th president of the US are our closest relations.

Dad:  Dad was the youngest of 2 sons born to 1st US born generation parents whose families immigranted from Poland in the 1910s.  Dad married Mom (his 2nd wife) at the age of 25, and I came along 4 months later.  My grandmother, like my maternal grandmother passed away when my father was 21.  Neither my Dad nor my Uncle had a close relationship with the only grandparent I ever knew.  My grandfather quietly passed away at the age of 88 in 2011, my family having no formal services for him – only my parents and I quietly witnessing the burial of his cremains (That where shipped directly to the cemetery) next to my grandmothers casket on a sunny fall day.  Growing up, Dad was my rock, my compass that kept me orintated North during my turbulent childhood with mom’s mental instabilities.  During my childhood, on the weekends when I wasn’t with Moms Sister #7, I would spend time with my father’s brother and his family which like mom’s sisters would play a pivotal role even later in life.  An interesting fact about my father is he did not speak until he was 4.  Prior to that, my father had a secret language with his older brother and his older brother acted as the translator, even more peculiar was that on the same day in 2013, during the exact same time, each unaware of the others condition, my father displayed signs of a mini stroke that his older brother was actually having 1700 miles away – talk about a very close connection!  I was always a Daddy’s girl and probably always will be.  My relationship with my father is far better than the one with my mother.  My father had a stroke of unbelievable luck when he had a near fatal heart attack 15 years ago and waited 3 days to go to the hospital. 2 out of 3 main arteries blocked 100% – leaving doctors perplexed on how he was still alive let alone walking into the hospital.  Today as he approaches retirement age, he continues to work and golf mostly every Sunday and has been recently diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis – which offers little if any treatments that actually work and no cure.  As he has forgone the option of a lung transplant, he currently has a life expectancy of 2-5 years.

The Darkness and The Light

Continued from Part 2.

Divorce brings out the worst in people. Ours took 4 months from start to finish. I wasn't looking for anything, I didn't want money or houses, what I wanted I couldn't have. My husband at times acted like someone I didn't even know – which terrified me. In hindsight, I get that behavior now. He mourned our marriage, he mourned our family, he mourned me. The sad thing is it took me 7 years to understand that, and all the chances I had to come back, but didn't, and it wasn't until I wanted to, that it became too late.

During the divorce I met up with old friends like most people do to help them cope with the stress of divorce. I did just that. It just happened that one of my friends happened to be in love with me for 8 years before my divorce – and I didn't see it. I think you don't see what you aren't looking for. I had my soulmate, the one I wanted to grow old with who I'm left knowing it was the way that maybe some positive would come from it. I wanted my husband to realize the true impact of some of his criticism had on my every day life day after day, and I had hope that he would change, even if it wasn't for me, then maybe for someone else. Either way I needed something positive to come out of the tragedy of breaking up my family when I didn't want to, but I needed a partner not a critic.

Like all relationships, we had our issues and at the time right before I became pregnant with our son, I briefly moved back home with my parents, it was a break – not a breakup. So naturally I didn't see my friends desire for me – he respected I was in a serious relationship – although he didn't like it.

So there I was having a coffee with my old coffee buddy, whom I hadn't seen since before I got pregnant with my son – not even looking for a relationship or a good time. I had just left my husband whom I spent 10
years with – 1/3 of my entire life only 2 months prior. And then something changed – but even today I'm not entirely sure how it happened.

Quite honestly I was interested in rekindling an old romance from my teenage years but he struck too late in the end but I know that I can count on
him for the rest of our lives, we've always been uniquely bounded on a spiritual level.

But I had fun with Mr Coffee, for the first time in a while I didn't have anyone fighting with me. It was peaceful. If my husband, the father of my child was earth, then Mr. Coffee was the sky. They were complete opposites in every single way.

Mr. Coffee was a blue collar stout man covered in tattoos who would tell anyone
to get bent, that combined with my tiny, classy librarian facade made us look like the odd couple. It was a breath of fresh air. No one giving me a stink eye for letting a choice word fly out of my mouth. He was fun, and I had fun with him. My family who is filled with loud obnoxious people he fit right in with.

In hindsight I would've told myself don't date anyone just stick to friends to allow myself the grieving my marriage deserved. But as my husband continued to fly off the handle, it made my new relationship with my old friend Mr. Coffee even stronger. Our divorce was finalized 2 months after I started dating Mr. Coffee in 2010 and my husband and I agreed to keep significant others away from parenting events and pick ups/drop offs out of mutual respect for each other since the one thing we've always agreed on was we couldn't see each other with another person – that even the mere thought of it was torture. If you can believe it 7 years later neither one has had to run into the others new significant other.

9 months into the relationship with Mr. Coffee he proposed and I accepted. Although I didn't even think about wedding planning. Part of me thought I would still go back with my husband. My husband and I even went to counseling which I was not about to tell my hot tempered fiancé while I was engaged as my husband was desperate for reconciliation but something in me didn't trust a change that took less than a year.

Then the unthinkable happened. I lost my job in the middle of the latest recession that November. By February my mother stirred the pot enough and my 1st grade son who has ADHD couldn't cope with all the changes in his life and I worried that all this change was making him much worse as I was getting phone calls from the school on a weekly basis. So I changed custody with my husband and moved out of my parents house and into my fiancée's.

I paid crazy amounts of money to keep my insurance coverage but after 6 months I could no longer pay for it. So it then became the logical idea to get married to get covered through Mr Coffees union which had excellent coverage. So we did just that… we eloped in Vegas. Looking back I should've listened to my inner self that refused to plan a wedding or elope for insurance benefits. Not that I didn't love Mr. Coffee, I just wasn't sure I wanted to remarry, let alone for insurance benefits. But overall things were good as long as we continued to have fun. Which wouldn't last long.

The neck pain I had been experiencing for 3 years was now able to be treated for the time being. Initial diagnosis was fibromyalgia since X-rays shows arthritis and bone spurs, blood work came back fine and MRI of my brain came back normal. It was about during this time in 2015, 3 years since I married Mr Coffee, that my physical therapist suggested I press my doctor for a neck MRI. The results of that MRI would change my life forever as I know it…..

Best Years Of My Life – Part 2

Click Here to Read Part 1

So after falling asleep that Monday night after a long weekend of moving, I felt the tell tale signs of labor – again at 11 pm. I tried calling my doctor who was by herself in her practice to no avail. By 1 am I woke up my partner and we took the 30 minute trip down to the hospital where I expected another showcase showdown between the doctors and my son who already was a trouble maker before he even took his first breath. The nurses didn't even told me my water broke until 4 am. And of course by the time I was 7 cm dilated about 6 am and screaming for the epidural … the doctor was busy with quads and my OB reminding me this is why they call it labor. 4 hours and 3 pushes later our son made his grand entrance at 10:12 am, exactly 32 weeks. The irony of it was I later found an appointment card with my doctor with that very date for 10am, and while I didn't make it to her office, she didn't disappoint and had been there watching over me since 6 am.

He was quickly whisked away to the NICU and would spend 3 weeks there – including his first Christmas and New Years. He finally came home on the 2nd of January and it was a balmy 60 degrees outside – not exactly Midwest winter temperatures. That night we learned that no amount of preparation can prepare you for the lack of sleep. The fact we had a preemie didn't help, he came home in preemie clothes that looked like they'd fit a doll. The drama was just getting started.

After he was born, I had only had him home for 3 weeks when I was forced to return to my job and send him to a daycare a mile away from my office. By this time my partner and I were still working for the same company, had the same boss in the same IT department but he was in a different location and I was still in the building that we first met. I was working Desktop Support and he was doing more infrastructure architectural work.

Our son was constantly in and out of the doctors office, and even had his first PICU visit when he was 8 weeks old for pneumonia. Chronic ear infections and respiratory issues plagued our son. He had tubes put into his ear at 15 months, but he still had issues with his lungs which required nebulizing twice a day and sometimes every 4-6 hours – thus lasted until he was 4 and finally grew out of it. There weren't enough Baby Einsteins to keep his still sometimes. I remember one occasion when he was about 8 months old, he flew his head back while I was holding him while I held "Mr Bubbles" mask over his nose and mouth for his treatment and his head slammed into my nose, if he didn't break it, he came awfully close.

It wasn't until he was 18 months that his health gave us the worst scare a parent could experience. Because he was constantly sick, he slept between his dad and I for comfort. One night my mom instinct woke me up, I felt my sons head and he was burning up. He then started to seize violently, stopped breathing and turned blue. His father called 911, and kept his composure and by knowing me better than he probably knew himself gave me directions that the 911 operator gave him. The seizure had just ended by the time the police officer arrived and I held him while the ambulance transported us to the hospital, his dad followed. Diagnosis: Febrile Seizure. Unfortunately it wouldn't be the last one. You know you have a sick baby when your pediatrician gives you their direct cell phone number – which is exactly what happened.

Going through those first years with our son were a jolt of reality – but no matter how exhausted we were, we took him everywhere. Every single weekend we'd be at a museum, or the zoo, or the park. Apple picking in the fall, pumpkin picking would follow soon after. It was in 2007 his father and I finally got married after 7 years of trials and tribulations, our son almost 4 at the time. Even the wedding sounded like something out of a reality show.

Because we had a toddler, and we were very family oriented, we decided our wedding reception would be in a forest preserve and it would be like a giant picnic with bounce houses, horseshoes, and picnic type food, our guests came in their casual attire as requested. Sounds great right? Well here's a summary of went wrong during the festivities:

  • Reception site flooded the night before with no backup site available. Park rangers were using pumps to try and pump the water out.
  • Because of the strong storms that came through 2 days before the wedding the hotel that my bridesmaids and I had initially booked for the rehearsal had no power and had to be rebooked elsewhere. We were late to the church for rehearsal because of it.
  • Maid of Honor had the stomach flu
  • Junior Bridesmaid vomited at the rehearsal dinner.
  • Cancun, our honeymoon site got hit with Hurricane Dean 2 days before we arrived. That just happened to be the ONLY trip my husband didn't take insurance out on.
  • Our photographer who was a professional, studio and all – was daft. Every picture that wasn't posed was blurry. I was so upset I didn't even bother putting my wedding album together.

Yeah… like I said, at these the drama was free.

Then like all relationships – they need work. Because we were so focused on own son and his myriad of health issues, it left little time to focus on us. I waited 7 years to marry the man of my dreams. We had walked from hell and back, we made it work. Even a lengthy stint in marriage counseling couldn't help my husband see what behaviors I needed him to adjust to make us work. But neither one of us did the homework and after almost 3 years of marriage, I walked away.

To be continued….