Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tick... Tick... Tick...

Most everybody knows I had open heart surgery at age 39 (5 years ago) to replace my mitral valve with a mechanical one. The official diagnosis was "mitral valve stenosis" and "mitral valve regurgitation".

The short and sweet explanation of that is this:
Mitral Valve Stenosis - arthritic and deformed valve.
Mitral Valve Regurgitation - leaky valve.

Living with a mechanical valve can be, err.. interesting. I tick. I tick loudly. I tick so loudly, that if it is quiet people can hear it. Which really is hilarious when you see people checking their watches because they think they are hearing that, when it is really me. I just sit there all innocent like, and smile.

Sometimes the ticking can be so loud inside my own head that I can't sleep. When you lay down and curl up on your side, with your ear pressed into the pillow... tick... tick... tick... After 5 years I should be used to it. It should, and most of the time does, comfort me. As long as I am ticking, I am still alive. But, some nights it actually keeps me awake. If I have a headache, the pounding in my head is made worse because of the ticking. There is not much you can do about it, but get up for awhile until you are tired enough you can sleep through the ticking.

Scott actually has been kept awake by the ticking. We now have a fan, that we keep on just for some background noise, to drown out the ticking. He is comforted by the ticking, as well. As long as I am ticking, he knows I am breathing! He no longer has to put his hand on my chest to check for a pulse!

We laugh hysterically when if I get excited over something, the ticking speeds up, just like a regular heart would. If I get scared, same thing... ticktickticktick...

So the next time you hear a ticking clock, imagine that in your chest. Imagine that ticking is your heartbeat. That is what it is like with a mechanical valve.

There are times we wish we would have gone with a pig valve. It would be quiet and I wouldn't have to take the Coumadin, so I could eat and drink what I want with no concern for "the levels". But, we went with the mechanical option so I hopefully won't have to have another replacement until I am much older, or this one fails. Pig valves only last about 10-15 years. Mechanical valves are supposed to last up to 25 years. We chose the best option, even if I do get on my own nerves sometimes.

All I can do is keep on ticking! Tick... tick... tick...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ahhhh... Memories!

The end of this month is my son's 16th birthday. GAH!! His SIXTEENTH birthday! We have been doing a lot of remembering of various things since he has been home recovering from his surgery. Yesterday, he wanted to know about when he was born. As I retold the story, I thought to myself, this really should be shared. It is a pretty good story, so here goes!

Anybody who knows me, knows I never do anything halfway. Ever. It was no different being pregnant. I had morning sickness for 6 months, a kidney stone, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and went into labor at 30 weeks. Ahhhh.. so much fun! Now, onto the labor and delivery story.

To preface this story, anybody who knows my husband, knows it takes an act of God, to wake that man up. I am seriously not kidding. On May 23rd at about 1am, I woke up and realized my water had broke. I tried to wake up Scott (knowing this would take awhile) and get the phone calls to the parents made to tell them to get to the hospital in a couple of hours. I made him the strongest cup of coffee I could possibly make, and low and behold, he got up! I still think either his Momma or my Momma threatened him with some sort of bodily harm... Anyway, he shook the cobwebs out, and after about an hour or so we were on the way to the hospital which is about an hour away.

Everybody had told us that the first baby you have takes forever to get here. Ummm.. have you met me yet? My contractions were immediate after my water broke, and getting faster and faster on the drive down to the hospital. Scott drives for UPS for a living. That means he really can't get a ticket... so that meant he went 55 the whole damn way to the hospital. OMG... that was the longest ride ever. I kept saying "Go faster!!" he kept saying "I can't." I swear there were finger marks in the dashboard of my SUV after that night. We finally get to the hospital and since Scott was unfamiliar with the area turned down the wrong street. I was totally hollering at the man by this time, and so he decided to quick do a U-turn over a median... I thought I was going to drop that baby right then and there, but we ended up making it to the hospital in time.

We walk in the door, and they want to bring me a wheelchair. I was in such a hurry, I was like forget the damn chair people, get me to the delivery room!! They insisted and when we got to the L & D floor the nurse (who was very lucky to survive that night) asks me if I am sure my water broke or did I pee myself. Ummm.. WHAT??? Yes, I am sure my damn water broke! She checks and say's "Oh my, let's get you into a room right now". Duh...

As they were getting things ready in the room, my Mother in Law walks down the hall. They had been sitting in the waiting room! They made it to the hospital before we did! I loved that!! They get me into a room, and I am starting to pant, and think maybe having a baby wasn't such a smart idea, when they come in with The Magic Drugs! I am not one to turn down drugs at all, so they hook me up to the spinal. I waited and waited, while everybody is rushing around because I am starting to push... no magic drugs start working. I am completely sidetracked and just keep wanting to push!

Poor Scott is standing at the bottom of the bed, with he most beautiful look of horror on his face as I am pushing with everything I have in me. Then he turns the most glorious shade of green and has to leave the room for awhile. He is also lucky he lived to see another day, but that is another story for another day.
I keep pushing, and all of a sudden everybody is like get the doc. I started to worry at that point because everything had been going along so smoothly - except for the magic drugs didn't work. In comes the doc and he say's the baby is stuck, he won't fit through

and he is in distress, so we need to do an emergency C-section. Boo Yah!! Get this over with already!!!

They get me into the OR like almost instantly, only to have the anesthesiologist say, that the spinal is in the wrong place, and they can't move it until the baby is out. WHAT? No, wait... WHAT?? Ok, let's just get this over with, I need my baby out and healthy. So, they start cutting... I start screaming... I felt every second of that C-section. It was the most horrible experience of my entire life. They are moving my organs around and getting the baby out, and I am feeling every single thing. Scott is freaking out at everybody, wanting me to stop screaming.. they say we have to get the baby out, then we can sedate her.

Finally, they got the baby out, and the most spectacular drug induced haze came upon me! I will never forget that. They gave the baby to Scott, who said he was all in one piece, ten fingers and toes, although he had a droppy lip from the forceps, he was a perfectly healthy baby boy.

Two days after that, we brought home the most perfect baby boy. Brandon Leland Boland, 6lbs, 15oz. of perfection.

I would never trade that experience for anything. Ever. I love that kid with every fiber of my being and more.

5 months pregnant!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Band-aid's don't fix all that hurts...

Almost 4 months.

What is with the "anniversary" of somebody dying? Seriously?? Yep, seriously. I don't understand it, but that doesn't matter. For whatever reason, as soon as it gets close to the 21st of any month, I start thinking about it.

I talked to the grief counselor on the phone last week. According to her, everything should be considered "normal", about how you feel, for at least a year after somebody passes away. Well, I only have 8 months to go...

The depression is still hovering just over my shoulder. I am one of those people who doesn't acknowledge things very well. Instead of saying, "damn, I think I could be depressed", I work. I have painted 3 rooms, from ceiling to trim. I have rearranged every room in my house. I have used the physical work, to be exhausted enough to try to sleep, without my brain working overtime, making me actually think about it. I have given myself one more week. If I am not better in one week, then off to the doctor I go.

Part of my issue, is that everything that can go wrong with Daddy's estate, has gone wrong. There was the burial of the cremains, which was a nightmare because I had no place to put Daddy or Momma. Thank God, for great friends, who happened to have 5 plots that they graciously let me purchase from them. There was the property taxes on the Ram, which after 5 trips to the DMV and Treasurer's office seems to be fixed. I had Daddy's taxes done by H&R Block. I got a notice from the IRS, that they didn't list Daddy as deceased. So, I called the office to make an appointment to get that fixed, and that office is closed for the summer. I have to go 45 minutes to the nearest office that is open, to try to get that fixed on Wed. I received a notice from the Probate court, that I was delinquent in filing the proper paperwork on assets and the property value of the house. I called today, and they graciously gave me a 30 day extension. He had Humana as his secondary insurance company. I have received 3 refund checks and 3 bills from them on claims they have either overpaid or underpaid. Sadly, the refund checks do not come close to equaling the 3 bills that I have to pay this week. And, that is just the big screw-ups. So many little ones, I can't even begin to list them.

The nightmare of somebody dying, seems to be exacerbated by the paperwork involved with the estate. It should not be this way. But, I can't change any of this. All I can do is try very hard to not get frustrated and aggravated at these bumps in the road. However, they do add to the depression issue I seem to be having. It makes you wonder, when is this ever going to end?  Or, what next?

Am I whining? You betcha!! I am whining. So many things have changed over the past almost 4 months, I feel like I am allowed to whine a little bit. I totally understand that there are people out there who are worse off than I am, no question about it. However, with all of this looming over me, I still feel overwhelmed and at a loss as to what to do next. I talked to a friend about this, and she had a brilliant suggestion. One step at a time.

Damn.. why didn't I think of that? ;-)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Three month anniversary...

Well, it has been three months, since Daddy passed. Scott and I were talking, and it seems like forever, and like hardly any time has passed, all at the same time.

I have been crazy busy these last couple of months. We are redoing most of our house ourselves, (crazy? Probably!) and that has involved tons of work. But, WOW the changes are looking awesome. There is nothing like that feeling of satisfaction of actually doing it yourself.

I have been doing pretty good, on most days. The ups and downs, must take their own course. I can't make them go away and I finally told my family, that I have to be down on some days. They can't stand it if I am not smiling and happy. Who is happy all of the time anyway?? I usually am, granted, but these days, I can't force the happiness. They don't like it, but they are going to have to deal with it. I need those down days. They seem to be helping, when I actually embrace the depression for a day or two.

I have had family come to South Carolina, and get some of the family treasures. That was hard. It was weird seeing things that have been around my parents home for years, go to a new home. That also, made it much more real, to me. But, it was also good. Those things, are just things. They mean a lot, but they are material things. The memories that are attached, are what is important. There are a lot of memories that will now continue on, which makes me very happy.

The best part of all of them coming, has been the reminiscing about both of my parents. How wonderful, that has been. How healing it has been. Three years ago, when my Momma passed, my uncle and cousin took a bunch of reel-to-reel film, that my Daddy had made of us when I was little, and had it transferred to a DVD. My uncle has been after me to watch that for awhile. He said, I needed to. I just couldn't do it. When my other cousin was visiting this past week, we sat down and watched it. I cried and cried, which is great for me, since I am not a crier! It was so cleansing, and healing. I got to see my Daddy playing with me, my Momma pregnant with me, and lots of family members all enjoying themselves. It was an eye opener to see how much footage my Daddy had taken of me. It was also an eye opener to see how much he seemed to enjoy me, when I was a baby. It was worth every single tear, and every second spent watching that DVD. I plan on watching it again, after the initial shock of it, wears off.

There is nothing like family. Granted, friends are priceless, but the family has been with you from start to finish, during all of these dark times. They have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. They understand perhaps, just a little bit more of the feelings that happen when your parents pass away.

I can NOT express the appreciation for the love and kindness that I have experienced from so many people, during these last three months. Overwhelming comes to mind, but that doesn't quite describe it.  I hope that when some of you, that have bent over backwards for me, need me, I can be there for you, like you have been there for me. So, the journey continues.... One day at a time.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Well, it has been a month and a half, since Daddy died. And, almost exactly a month since I buried both him and Momma. So much change, turmoil, conflict, and utter exhaustion.

I still have not gone to pick out the headstones yet. I keep trying to turn into the cemetery, and my car just won't do it. I really need to do it, but I had a wonderful friend tell me that the more I pressure myself to do that, the more it will become an issue, so I am just winging it. I will get them picked out and placed when I get it done. I know where they are, and that is what counts.

The emotions of being without any parents are vast and sometimes overwhelming. My Momma was my best friend, and my Daddy was just my Daddy. I miss them both so much, that sometimes the sadness is overwhelming.

I have been to two sessions of grief counseling, and they have been wonderful. The advice that has been given to me to try to overcome the flashbacks of Daddy's death, seems to be helping a little bit. They still come a lot, but I go with them, and don't fight them, and that does seem to be helping. I have talked to a lot of people about the flashbacks, and the general consensus is that they get better. God, I hope so.

I feel very overwhelmed by the vast amount of things that need to be done. Probate, all their belongings, the house and property... sometimes, it just seems like too much to handle by myself. Then I remind myself, that I was raised to be strong, and YES, I can do this.

I have only been down to his house, and started going through things, this past week. I just couldn't do it for the first few weeks, for some reason. But, I go down, by myself, and remember the happy, the sad, and good and the bad, and just enjoy the memories of them.

The turmoil of every day bullshit seems to be more than usual, as well. I think it is not, really. I think my capacity for the bullshit is very short. Hopefully, that will get better with time, as well. I am also trying to cut the bullshit out of my life. I have a personality, that lets the bullshit go on and on. That has got to stop. The time to grow up and cut that out of my life is now. I have the opportunity to make a crappy situation better, and if I don't take it, then it is on me.

I appreciate the cards, letters, texts, and emails, that are still coming. They help and it is nice to know, that people are thinking of me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Doing right, but doing wrong.

It just kills me, that when you think you are doing right, you end up somehow doing wrong.
I gave Brandon his school assignments today, and he took them back to his room. The next think I know, I am hearing this God awful banging noise coming from his room. I ran back there, and he was beating a 5lb weight on his floor.

Once I got the weight from him, and got him calmed down enough to sit and tell me what the hell was going on.. I was so surprised.

He is very angry at me. He is very depressed. He is also Bi-polar, which always adds a new wrinkle to the simplest of things and emotions.

He is angry at me, because I didn't let him help me enough with Daddy. After much discussion, I told him he was 14 years old. It is my job to protect and shelter him from certain things in life, until he is old enough to handle these things. I asked him if he wanted to wipe his Granddaddy's ass? Did he want to help him shower? Did he want to put him on and off the toilet? Of course, he didn't. But, in his mind I should have let him help me. He said he watched me struggle with all these things over the last three years, and I wouldn't let him help me. I said if I would have needed help, something he could actually do, I would have been glad to let him, but there are things he has no business helping with. Learning to do laundry, clean up around here, feel the animals, etc.. were a huge help to me and continue to be that way.

Anytime you think your children are not absorbing every single thing and emotion you are going through, remember they see it all. They feel it all with you. Maybe I could have let him help me with something, but that is water under the bridge. I didn't, and if I had it to do all over again, I wouldn't change a single thing.

But, during all of this discussion, it hit me. I have raised a good kid. He cares about me, and what is going on around him with his family. The kid needs to get a handle on his anger, but with some help, that should be relatively simple. For a 14 year old to be angry over not being helpful enough, shows me that he is a caring, genuine person. SIGH.. just when you think you have a handle on things.. you realize you really don't.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Starting to heal..

It has been awhile, since I have had anything to write about. I have been trying to go about the business of healing, as best I can.

I have been busting my ass, trying to get things from Daddy's house, to our house. We have made countless trips to the dump, getting rid of all sorts of things from our house that we have kept because we have always lived on the premise, "we might need that one day, and rather than buying a new one, we have a spare". So, we have tons of junk around here, that needs getting rid of, and the process has begun. 

I bought new bedroom furniture, new living room furniture and a new kitchen table and chairs. Everything except the living room furniture was hand me downs from our parents or grandparents, and it was high time we bought some things we liked, for ourselves. We are beginning the process of putting down the hardwood floors throughout the house. We only have the living room and Brandon's room done, but that is a good start. 

Most of the guns have buyers. Quite a few other things, we have found buyers for, so we are making progress there too.   The knives, I am giving away to people. We can't get the money back for them, because they have been taken out of the boxes and sharpened, so that is a great way to thank people for their help. Plus, they are a very sore spot for me. I just want them gone. 

I started grief therapy, and that is going well. I only have to actually go the office, when I feel like I need help. The rest I am doing on my own. I have bought a few books, and have been given a couple that I have started to read, and they seem to be very helpful in sorting out what is going on in my head. Grief is a weird process, but we are starting to make progress there too. I still pick up the phone to call him, or think.. I need to be sure to tell Daddy this.. only to realize he isn't around anymore. I haven't gone and picked out the markers for the graves yet, because I can't seem to bring myself to do it now. There is not real rush, I know where they are. 

I am enjoying working again. I love my studio. I work when I want too, and do other things instead, when the creativity isn't there. I told Scott yesterday.. we need to slow down. We are going to crash and burn, if we don't start getting some down time. We are going to the beach Sunday for a week, and that will help a lot. We need that more than we know, I feel sure.

I would like to thank everybody again, for the continued cards, notes, texts and phone calls. Every single one of you, has made me feel loved. That is so important during this time, words do not adequately express how thankful I am, for every single one of you.