Sunday, November 22, 2015
Then once I grew up and had kids I realized that I am NOT a Brady or a Bradford. Quite frankly, kids make me kinda crazy, so I stopped at two. I would never have those crowded (but cozy) Christmases of my youth, but that was okay. I'd have my sanity. Right? (Shut up.)
Last summer, we were blessed with a third child (can an 18 year old be referred to as a child?) who unexpectedly joined our family after having been in foster care through most of her teens. Bethany rounded out our brood and has made a great addition to our family. Trust me when I say she brings enough fun, excitement, and yes, chaos to the house. Most of the time it's welcomed chaos. ;)
Today, she planned a friendsgiving celebration, inviting her boyfriend and numerous friends and coworkers. There were appetizers, relish trays, turkey with all the trimmings, pies (pies, and more pies), and lots of people.
This unexpected girl who joined our lives has given me a full house after all and I wouldn't want it any other way. I'm not a Brady or a Bradford, but I am a Samples and this is our world.
Happy Thanksgiving, all!
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Writing for me has been way tough for the last year. Between Lyme bacteria literally drilling into my brain, medication has taken quite a toll on my memory, as well. Disease has skull-fucked me into oblivion and I'm pissed about it. (Yeah, so much for that peace I talked about in the last blog, huh?) When I'm pissed, I become motivated. So yesterday, I sat down and wrote over 2,000 words in a new story. New characters, new story line, new everything. It was hard and it's probably crap and will be edited into something completely different from what I'm writing now, but I have more voices needing to be heard.
It's encouraging to know the characters are still there and even more encouraging that they want to tell their stories. But most encouragingly, I've been writing like a mofo. I'll take it!
Sunday, November 1, 2015
While I do still have a ways to go with my Lyme treatment and subsequent testing for co-infections, I'm finding a lot of peace in letting go of the things that don't matter in the long run. I shredded stacks of old files, papers and notes I no longer needed. I've purged a lot of clothing, personal care products I admitted I'd been hoarding, and many other things that have been gumming up my life.
Thursday, October 22, 2015
I spent my childhood running around in the yard and the pasture behind our house. We went fishing and camping every summer. And I don't remember our dogs and cats ever wearing flea & tick collars. We were a rural family and we sure weren't going to let some pesky bugs dictate our lives. As a kid, I remember hearing about something called Lyme disease, but I had no idea what it was or the effects it had on its victims. Even as a parent to my own kids, Lyme wasn't something I ever concerned myself with. If anybody got a tick, it was plucked away with a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover and we went on with our lives.
How foolish we were.
My diagnosis took me by surprise, but at the same time, with all the research I'd done while waiting for my test results, I think I would've been more surprised if it hadn't come back positive. I had almost every sign of late-stage Lyme. In fact, I remember hoping the test would come back positive. Not because I wanted to have it, of course - who the hell would want to be this sick? - but because it would finally give a name to all the shit I'd been dealing with the last several years.
Fortunately, a friend of mine suggested contacting the ILADS.org website to find a Lyme-literate medical doctor. I had no idea what that meant, but as I explored the website (as well as a couple others), I discovered that there are two "schools of Lyme treatment." The first is what most doctors follow. It's set in place by the CDC and it does not involve anything called "chronic Lyme disease." It doesn't exist, according to them. The second school of Lyme is a precedent-setting group who is willing to risk career and reputation to treat what they know is real. LLMDs are regular doctors (general practitioners, OB/GYN, infectious disease, or internal medicine doctors, etc.) who also treat Lyme disease and all its co-infections. They often have to challenge medical labs, insurance companies and other doctors and specialists to do so. There have been times when these doctors have lost their licenses for treating patients like me. There have been lawsuits and medical board hearings more times than not, and the results rarely go favorably. To find a good LLMD is a rarity. In the entire state of Iowa, there are only three doctors (that I'm aware of). I'm very fortunate to have found mine.
Impatience is another very real circumstance. My Lyme doctor told me at my very first visit, "this is not going to go away overnight." I had no idea how right she was. The most frustrating part is feeling like I've made progress and then slipping backward. For every five steps I take, I might get to keep one of them. While not every single day is a battle, the majority of them are. Being in my forties, but feeling like I'm 80 is not fun. I've learned to measure my days by the degree of severity of the symptoms, not whether or not I am experiencing any. Every day, there's pain. Every day, there's brain fog. Every day, there's something I forget. Every day, there's neuropathy. Every day. Some days they're at a one, some days they're a nine. They're never a ten, though because I know there's always room for them to be worse. I've never rated my symptoms at a ten. I hope I never have to.
Mostly, I just miss who I used to be. I was fun-loving, carefree, spontaneous and happy. Now, I have to remind myself to be some of those things, and I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I will probably never be some of them, too. Spontaneity is rarer for me because I have to stock-pile my energy. Happy is a choice, I'm learning, but I do try to find happy in every day - whether it be something grand or something minute. I still love having fun, but carefree is something I'll never be again.
I feel like I should be spending my day apologizing to people around me because I'm sick. They have to hear me scream when I'm angry and cry when I get frustrated. They pick up the slack when I don't have the energy to both make dinner and clean up afterward. They work hard because I can't. Most days I feel like a complete burden. I'm working through that guilt, but it's not gone yet. Mostly, though, I just miss me.
Most importantly, I try and remember that even those four steps may slip away, I am still gaining ground. Some days I feel okay. I'm motivated and energetic. I do my hair, throw on some make-up and venture out for a short while. It usually tires me out, but I refuse to let this disease dictate my life anymore. It's spent too much time doing that already. I just take things day by day, breath by breath.
Friday, September 11, 2015
It was somewhere around this point that I went from "I can totally handle this" to "Oh my God, what have I gotten myself into? I just wanted a new bed!" Thankfully, we're in a place where we can afford the fixes (watching enough house-flipping shows on HGTV has taught me, if you don't have the budget for things that can go wrong, don't tackle the project in the first place), provided they're not too big. At this stage of the game, they're still manageable.
Yesterday, Hubby and I hit the ReStore shop, Walmart, Lowe's and Menards to pick up the things we need to make the repairs and do the changes we have taken on. Hauling the usual Walmart purchases (things like cat litter, shampoo & conditioner, and paper towels), four sets of mini-blinds, five boxes of flooring, three bags of drywall repair stuff, and lamenting about the bait-and-switch faucet we had to buy, everything finally made it in the house by 7pm. Thankfully, a friend of ours was here checking out the water damaged floor, so he helped carry everything in. He also stuck around and helped Nate disassemble our old bed and move it to the office so the new bed can be delivered tomorrow. I ran out of energy somewhere around 10pm. Sleep finally came around 3am after I set in motion an action plan for the rest of these fixes and updates.
Eventually, I got back up, put on my big girl panties, and sucked it up. I spent the afternoon patching all the nail and thumbtack holes in office and bedroom, then I got the new new plantation blinds hung in office (including one botched attempt at hanging a support piece that blew out my elbow early in the game). I finished that just in time for the plumbers to show up to give me estimates for the leak in the wall. I hired one and am looking forward to him fixing it on Sunday (without charging me overtime for it being a weekend - go me!).
I hit a wall of pain and exhaustion about 10pm and rested for a while with some ice on my elbow. Hubby brought me some dinner home and I inhaled that, talked to the girls who were finally home and done with homework. When everybody went to bed, I tackled the bedroom again.
Almost all our furniture is hand-me-downs or second-hand things we've picked up along the way. This includes a 90's style black lacquer dresser with gold trim. It's functional and in good shape, but it's ugly. Ohhhhhhh, so very ugly. So tonight, I decided to take the outdated mirror off the top, remove all the gold trim, and take off the handles so I can paint those to match the nightstands. I'll leave the dresser black, but the other dresser (which was bought in 1983 by my parents) needs to be painted so it matches the first one. Oh, did I mention in all that I managed to wash and dry 3 loads of laundry?
There's still SO much to do before the bedroom is inhabitable again, today was a success in my book.
Did I take on too much? Yes.
Is this typical of me? Yes.
Will it all get done? Yes.
Will I spend a month bedridden when all is said and done? Yes.
So why am I doing it? Well, because if I'm going to spend a month in bed, I want it to be the prettiest little place of retreat I've ever seen. It's been the last thing in the house to get updated and it's long overdue. But hey...if you feel like sending me chocolate and hot apple cider, who am I to stop you? *hint hint*
Monday, September 7, 2015
- Buy new mattress and box springs. Opt to go from the current Queen size to a King so you have more room in bed. (This? This is where the trouble began.)
- Decide to move current bed to office, including the beautiful head/footboard you just bought a year ago.
- Move office bed to the girls' room to replace the mattress on the floor that one of them has been sleeping on for almost a year.
- Decide that since the office is sans bed and it's mostly empty, you should paint it as you've talked about doing for ten years when you moved in to the house.
- Realize that your bedroom with its brand new bed on the way also needs a fresh coat of paint. Again, because you've talked about it for ten years and it's high time you get it done.
- Since you're painting the bedroom, you should probably buy a new bed so the fresh walls don't get dirty without a headboard behind it.
- "Man, king-sized beds are expensive! Let's build a headboard instead!" Begin pricing building materials and realize that you're saving a small fortune by making it yourself.
- "You know, if we're not spending all that money on a bed, we can put the new flooring in the office. I mean, it'll be empty. We might as well." You know, because you've been talking about yanking up that gross, dingy carpet for years.
- "If we're buying the flooring for the office, we probably should do the bedroom hallway. Oh, and we should also redo the bathroom so it matches the rest of the floors." By the way, this endeavor includes the kitchen, laundry room and master bath. "Even if we don't have the energy to do it all at once, at least we'll have the flooring so we can tackle it when we are able to and won't have to track down matching flooring."
- "Awesome! Let's get started!"
- Start moving things in office. Realize the fish tank has ruined part of the wall because the filter spilled over the back of the tank.
- Spend the afternoon peeling wet drywall and make a note to look up "patching torn drywall" on YouTube later.
- Begin tearing up carpet and padding in office and hallway.
- Realize there is a plumbing leak in the wall between the office and bathroom that has ruined part of the subfloor.
- Shit. "Well, so much for getting all the flooring at once. We've got to throw some money at this repair now. Guess we'll get enough flooring to just do the office, hallway, and bathroom." Note to self: save the packaging and purchase information so we can match the rest of the flooring later.
- Let the teenagers tear up the carpet tack strips and staples from the padding while you look up cost of new plumbing parts, drywall spackle, and subfloor pieces. Be grateful the teenagers are powerhouse workhorses who aren't afraid of hard work. Remember to feed said workhorses later.
- Have a meltdown.
- Curse the bastards on Pinterest.
- Be grateful the bastards on Pinterest posted links to fix the stuff that needs to be fixed.
- Dry your eyes and realize this is TOTALLY doable and could have been a LOT worse.
- Realize that the wall repair you've been intending to do in the master bathroom can be done now that you know how to patch the torn drywall. Go crazy chipping away the warped paint from the water damage in said bathroom.
- Get excited that yes, your house is total disaster, but hey, you get a new bed delivered Friday and you're gonna sleep like a baby...eventually.
Sunday, July 26, 2015
Permission is NOT granted to use this photo of the victim for any reason.
For those who are interested, a fundraiser has been established to help Roxanne with moving into a new home and purchasing a dependable car. Any remaining funds will be applied toward helping her children work through the tragedy that has struck their lives. Please go here to donate and help spread the word. YouCaring: Roxi's Restart
Thank you for your concern and interest regarding this situation, for the donations, prayers, kind thoughts and words, but mostly for respecting her privacy at this time.
Monday, June 22, 2015
Today would have been my mom's 77th birthday. I don't usually make a special trip to the cemetery to visit her, but since we were in town today, we took the small detour. We stopped to get flowers and I decided since I was there that I'd also make a quick stop and leave a lily on the headstone of Maria, my bestie's mom, since they're buried at the same cemetery.
I had trouble finding Maria's stone because I've only been there a couple of times, so I wandered a couple of minutes before I realized she lay to rest only about four sites away from the new grave. By now, the woman stood and I glanced over, catching her eye. She looked overwrought with pain and I was immediately drawn to her.
I immediately recognized the name and face as a sixteen-year-old boy who was recently murdered, and while I already knew the answer, I asked her if she was his mother. She nodded.
I cannot fathom the pain of losing a child and can't begin to imagine how much grief this woman must be feeling to have him taken in such a violent way, but I knew that my frustration over a disease that I'm actively healing from...a disease that won't kill me...a disease that I can't pass to anyone else...that my frustration and anger was futile.
I don't know why I got Lyme disease. I don't know why this young man was killed. I don't know a whole lot of anything about why bad things happen. But I do know that I can't...that I won't spend one more minute being angry. I'm still alive. Everything else is manageable.
I continue to pray for this woman and her broken family. I hope you will, too.
Sunday, May 24, 2015
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
So, what happens when you succeed?
You sit sobbing in your office at a quarter-to-midnight because you realize that your baby girl turns eighteen in fifteen minutes. You panic because you aren't sure if you've taught her enough, given her the right examples, or taken enough pictures so she doesn't feel like she was slighted by the second-child syndrome.
You think back to when she pouched food in her cheeks like a chipmunk and that time she accidentally knocked her plate of spaghetti on the floor then stood there saying "Taa-dah!" like it was some well-planned magic trick. You think about the adorable way she sneezed as a baby--one full sneeze or two, then a big breath like she was going to do it again but instead she'd let out a sigh and grin. You remember the way she mimicked the pigeons outside her bedroom window and how she communicated with animals before she did humans. You recall when she started learning where her body parts were and she called her tummy her "Buddha", except she wiggled her tongue when she said it and it came out more like "Blubbub". You also can't forget when she finally got that whole toilet-training thing and came running out of the bathroom at the restaurant yelling, "MOMMY! I went ICKY in da potty!"
You realize that the days of reading her bedtime stories, tucking her in, and her waking you up in the middle of the night because of a bad dream are gone, and that the next closest thing you'll get to doing that again is when she lets you take care of her children. HER children!
You remember all those times when you just wished she'd grow up a little bit more quickly so she could do more, see more, understand more...and then you realize she did.
And all you want are those eighteen years back so you can go back and make sure you did it right--that you played enough, laughed enough, and loved enough.
Peanut, you have always been such a bright light in my life. Your heart is so big that sometimes I can't even believe you're mine. Your generous spirit, forgiving nature, and loving personality are my most favorite traits, and I hope you carry them with you always. I love you with all my heart and I am so very proud to be your mom. Happy birthday, baby girl!
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
There's a social media campaign going on right now called Time to Change. Its main focus is to end mental health discrimination. So right now, I want you to eliminate the stigmas you have in your head about mental illness. Forget what you know because, chances are, you don't know as much as you think you do.
Take my friend, Mike for instance, pictured in the center here:
It's so easy to jump to the conclusion that people who commit suicide simply don't know how much they're valued by their loved ones. Or we can't understand their deaths because they had so much "going for them." But the fact is, when you're in a frame of mind where suicide is a logical solution, none of that matters. It doesn't matter how much we're loved, how much success we've obtained, how much money we have or how many lives we've touched. All that matters is finding a way to stop hurting and for some of us, death seems like the only solution. It's not that we want to die, really. It's more like we just don't want to be alive, because alive = pain. And that pain seems never-ending.
I don't pretend to know every thought my friends had before their deaths, but I do know my own thoughts. And voicing these feelings in a public spotlight is the scariest thing I've ever done. For someone with anxiety, the last thing I want is attention focused on me; I know what people will think. I know what they'll say. And I know the assumptions that will be made. But if we want to bring awareness to mental illness and suicide, we have to start talking about it. We have to erase the stigmas, forget what we've heard, and we have to fucking talk about it.
This isn't a problem we can throw money at in hopes of finding a cure. Mental illness doesn't work like that. It takes being down in the trenches and getting soaked to the skin before you can make a difference. Will you do it?
Mike needed this. Nate needed this. Chris needed this. I need this.
If someone you know shows signs of depression, has thoughts of suicide or you've noticed they're just not dealing with the stress of life quite as easily as they used to, please reach out to them. Be an ear, be a shoulder, be a friend. If you can't help them carry their burdens, encourage them get in touch with someone who can: a therapist, a doctor, a mental health support group, or all of the above.
If you are having trouble getting through your day and thoughts of dying seem more promising than thoughts of living, please talk to someone. If nothing else, find help here:
National Suicide Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
* My deepest gratitude to the McBride, Estimada, and Tully families for allowing me to honor your loved ones in this small way. As always, I pray for peace and comfort for your families.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
I had an appointment with my Lyme doctor today. Let me just tell you how amazing this woman is. I couldn't ask for a better physician. At my first visit, we sat together going over symptoms, side effects and treatments for more than two hours. She didn't even leave the room. Today, we sat for an hour together going over what's working, what's not and how I'm feeling compared to the last visit. She's never in a rush, never trying to push me out the door. She even gave me her cell phone number so if I have questions between visits, I can reach her easily. She is incredible and has restored my faith in traditional medicine.
My doctor has also begun treating me for bartonella (I told Midget I have Barton Bellas...unfortunately my version is pretty aca-awful), which is a common co-infection with Lyme disease. Bartonella is also the cause of cat scratch fever (not to be confused with the one Ted Nugent sings about. I think you'll need an ointment for that one). (Isn't it good to see I haven't lost my sense of humor in all this?) Since Bartonella tests aren't very sensitive (means that you can have it and the test can still come back negative), she's decided not to make me go through the expense of it. Since bartonella can be passed through ticks, fleas, body lice and through cat scratches, it's hard telling how I got it or when. We just know that it's likely I have it based on my symptoms and since it's treatable with antibiotics (hey, what's one more, right?), we're moving forward with treatment.
Overall, I have good days and bad days. On the good days, I tend to push myself without realizing it. That's one of the troubles with chronic illness: when you feel good, you want to leech as much from the day as possible but sometimes that can set you back days, if not weeks. I felt really great last week and over the weekend, so I (with Midget's help) put my office back together, which consisted of moving furniture and LOTS of boxes and totes. I'm paying for it now with pain and muscle fatigue. Those are what define my bad days (along with mood swings, mental fog and complete exhaustion, among other symptoms).
I try very hard not to complain. A positive attitude is vital to get through this but I never imagined being this young and feeling this old. Unfortunately, it's a reality and something I'm going to have to deal with for quite a while still. I've learned to control the things I can control and let go of what I can't. I've had to learn to say "no" more often. I've also had to let go of toxic situations and people. I've grown distant from some friends and lost others altogether, but I can't focus on the losses, only the gains.
One of those gains has been how supportive my family has been every day. They've really stepped up and done what needs to be done around the house. Hubby hasn't complained once about my mood swings or the days when I have no energy to do anything. And the kiddo has totally gone out of her way to do more than her share of chores to help pick up my slack. I could not imagine dealing with this disease without their support.
I probably won't update again for a while, but since so many of you have asked and have seen updates so far, I wanted to let you all know what was going on.
Long story short, I'm not in remission, but I'm on my way. I'll take it. :)
Friday, October 31, 2014
People on the train next to us probably thought it was him relaying that he missed seeing me while we were apart from one another. And he did, he always does. But it was so much more than that.
When I'm in New York (or Denver, or Los Angeles, or Nashville, or Las Vegas or any city other than home), I smile and laugh - sometimes for no reason whatsoever other than the feeling of being totally carefree for those few days I'm away.
This is the first time that we've traveled together, so he hadn't witnessed it before now. He never got to see the glint return to its familiar spot in my eyes. He hadn't heard the giddiness in my laughter. The deeper breaths I take also went unnoticed.
But this time, he saw. He heard. He noticed.
And if for only those five days together, he got to see his wife again. We're both hoping she sticks around.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
There really is a lullaby of Broadway. It sings so sweetly and enticingly to my inner 18-year-old. I was a theater major once upon a time. My dream was to end up on Broadway. Truth be told, it's still my dream, though I have no idea how I'd go about pursuing it at the stage of the game.
But I was chastised for not believing in my dreams tonight, so I will say it could happen. Stranger things have, right?
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
This afternoon on the way to lunch, a lady on the corner glanced up from whatever she was doing on her phone, looked at me and my bright pink highlighted hair and said, "Wow! I love your hair!" I said thank you. She said, "That's a really great color! I love it!" (Aside from the miracles of a New Yorker speaking to me in the first place and actually looking up from her phone) she totally made my day.
Fast forward to coming back to the hotel from NBC studios. Two guys in their early to mid-twenties walked toward me on the sidewalk. One rambled off something like "smack a bitch" as he looked at me with a weird look. His buddy quickly added "and dat's a biiiiig bitch!" And they both broke out in hysterical laughter. I just shook my head.
There was a time when the second interaction would have erased all the compliments I'd received in a month. But tonight, I just kind of smirk because I'm not remotely bothered by their juvenile name calling. Besides the fact that I'm more woman than the two of them combined could ever handle, I'm in a place where I choose to believe the compliments instead of the insults.
I like it here.