Thursday, April 22, 2010

random bits of life

It's been a while, so I thought I would write a few things about life around here.

I didn't realize how long it had been until I had someone a day or two ago tell me they hoped all was well with Grant's finger. I realized that the last post I wrote left everyone hanging on a thread regarding our spring break and Grant's bone trauma. I am sure you have all lost tremendous sleep over this.

1) Grant's finger issue was pretty minor. We got in to the see the ortho before we left for our trip. Ashamedly, I cried a bit when they told us it would be a couple day wait, and I asked if it was okay if we just waited 5 days til we returned. They got us in that afternoon. The probably thought they should see the kid whose crack mom didn't believe he broke the finger in the first place and is now prioritizing their trip over his appointment. The P.A. who saw Grant said he couldn't even see the break from the first x-ray. The side view showed it, but it was so minor. Literally, he took a piece of latex, surgical, first-aid type tape and taped it to the finger next to it. He told us to do that for 3 weeks. We don't even need to follow up. Thank the Lord we got in before our trip or it would have been a long 5 days of keeping that finger clean and dry in that splint.

2) Our trip was only delayed a couple hours. We drove through a major thunderstorm system for about half of our 5 hour trip dropping torrential amounts of rain on us. We made it, though. We spent a couple days in Kentucky visiting my brother and his family. Then we went to my mom’s for a couple days, doing things like this:

3) The boyz were ALL ABOUT the youth sized 4-wheeler this time. My dad had it running really well. It was starting on the first try and it seemed like 1 of the 2 of the boyz was on it at all times. They put some serious miles on that thing Friday and Saturday UNTIL... Gavin rolled it into their lake. FOR REALS. FREAKED ME THE EFF OUT! It was in shallow water and he totally could have been pinned if he had reacted differently. I still get shivers down my spine to think of what could have happened. Gavin went for a little swim, I guess, as he was drenched from his helmet to his Heely's. I have never experienced two such broad spectrums of emotions simultaneously - pure relief he was okay and pure anger that was so careless.

4) My dad got the 4-wheeler running again a few days after we left. That man can fix anything. Always has been able to. We have always loved that about our dad!

5) Still dating the same dude. He's nuts about me and thinks I'm awesome and hello? of course he's right. And he's met my boyz - seen Grant as his near worst and tolerated Gavin's know-it-all-ness and "you-guys-should-just-get-married” comments - yet he continues to stick around, so I think he's pretty awesome, too.

6) Gavin had a trash-is-in fashion show to celebrate earth day today. He wore a newspaper hat and a bunch of snack food boxes all over his body. He looked like an idiot compared to some kids whose parents taped and fastened gift bags and newspaper and grocery sacks and boxes to resemble shirts, dresses, pants, belts and accessories. His mom must not love him as much. Or his mom just gets burned out on homework. Take your pick. Technically speaking, though, they all looked like idiots. They were wearing garbage for clothes.

7) Grant's hearing issue continues. He is getting tubes May 19th. He was very excited at first because he heard the scheduler tell me it would probably be a good idea to let him eat late on May 18th because he can't have anything after midnight. He heard, "Keep Grant up til Midnight and let him have a midnight snack." I told you his hearing is messed up. I humored him and told him that yes he could have a midnight snack on May 18th. He bragged about this to Gavin when Gavin got home from school that day. The next morning, the reality of the SURGERY part of the equation hit him, and he cried and had a tummy ache because he doesn't want to get tubes in his head. I think he is over his fear for now.

8) What would have been my wedding anniversary came and went with absolutely no fuss and almost no mention whatsoever this week. That was pretty nice.

9) There is a major detour on the main road leading to my neighborhood. The road is closed for several months about 1/4 mile before my street and reopens about 1/8 mile before my street. I have to drive over 3 miles out of my way through several stoplights and stopsigns to get into my neighborhood. That closed road is the road to school, the gym and my main route into town thus causing me much pain-in-the-butt-edness. I'm OVER it and it has been closed for all of 10 days.

10) 5 weeks of school remain from TODAY!  I consider this a good thing.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dr. Mom strikes again

In the spirit of the what-else-can-come-our-way lifestyle that seems to plague my boyz and me, Tuesday evening brought more trouble our way.

Grant and Gavin were at a friend’s house playing and Grant came running home screaming and crying. He had fallen and bent a finger backwards. He was in terrible agony, but was able to move his fingers some. He can be quite dramatic at times, too, especially at the sight of blood. However, there was no blood. Because he could move his fingers some and the finger did not look out of alignment, I knew he had strained or sprained it and some time would minimize his pain. I googled ‘broken and dislocated fingers’ to confirm my theory and felt quite comfortable with my diagnosis.

Naturally, this all happened on a night when I had a babysitter line up due to plans w my bf and on the eve of a trip to see family in Kentucky and Missouri for a few days.

Because of our impending trip, I decided to take him to prompt care to have it looked at because he was quite relentless with his insistence that he could not move it without pain.

While at prompt care, he was able to regain some motion in the finger (his right hand ring finger) and started talking a lot about “if it’s broken, can I call Mommo as soon as we get home and tell her.” Or “if it’s broken, I bet Gavin won’t even believe it.” I began to get the impression that he WANTED a broken bone – as if it would be some sort of bragging right or some sort of kid-rite-of-passage into coolness. So, I explained to him that he did not WANT this to be broken and listed all kinds of things that would become a pain in the butt if in fact it WAS broken, not the least of which was our mini spring break vacation that may not happen. I was convinced as his range of motion continued to increase and his pain level continued to decrease that the finger had been strained and was getting better with time just as I had suspected.

I declared to Grant a few times in the waiting room that if his finger was better and it really wasn’t hurt, this was a waste of time and money. I told him that there was no way he would be able to keep moving his finger like that if it was broken or dislocated. I was increasingly convinced he WANTED a broken bone. When we were finally called back to the exam room an hour later, the nurse asked what we were there for. I retorted, “We are here to waste your time.” Yes, I really said that. The doc came in a few minutes later, pushed on and rotated the finger. It seemed to cause no discomfort to Grant until he pushed just below the first knuckle.

He ordered an x-ray. I knew after the x-ray that it was not broken because when Grant was demonstrating the poses he had to do with his hand and finger, he did them with the wrong finger. I quite sarcastically pointed out that he was holding the wrong finger. He said he keeps forgetting which finger. I knew it wasn’t broken or dislocated for sure then, as only a mom can know.

In fact, I KNEW it wasn’t broken or dislocated as only a mom can know until the doctor came in and said, “Well, he broke it.”


(deep breath)

(proverbial tail between my legs, head hung very low)

“Grant, I am SO VERY SORRY for not thinking it was broken,” I said, hugging him.

Grant looked kind of panicked then and said, “So it IS broken?”

“Yup. It sure is, Bud.”

“What’s gonna happen?”

“They are going to wrap it up and we will have to see a special bone doctor to get it looked at again and they can tell us how to take best care of it.”

He got kind of excited about entering the elite club of those plagued with broken bones asking me if he could call Mommo when he got home now and once again declaring that he bet Gavin would NOT EVEN BELIEVE it when he showed him. Having been a member of the elite club of those plagued with broken bones as an adult, I knew it was not a club of which you want to be a member. The glory wears off quickly, but the inconvenience continues for weeks.

This doctor mom realized her track record for diagnosing broken bones is NOT A GOOD ONE. And even though I vowed to stop practicing medicine and making home diagnosis that day, I did not learn from my own mistakes.

Today, I am awaiting call backs (over 2 hours later) from the pediatrician because our insurance situation requires a referral from the primary physician even though they did not even see Grant. Alas, we are slave to the system, so we impatiently await the return phone calls now. Our trip is inevitably delayed, but we do not know to what extent until we receive the appointment time.

My family's track record of broken bones always falls on dates when events are planned. Gavin broke his wrist on my anniversary. I broke my foot on home leave from Canada the day we were heading from Peoria to Perryville to celebrate Gavin's 5th birthday. Grant broke his finger the day before we were leaving for Spring Break vacation.

Today, Grant is also learning that a broken bone is not exactly as glamorous as he had originally thought and the litany of reasons I gave him in the waiting room (which I naturally regret) as to why he would NOT want a broken bone are all, in fact, true. Today I am working with a very grumpy 7 year old to have a better attitude about his situation because we have to make the best of it for a yet-to-be-determined amount of time. Still, a 7-year old who just realized he cannot easily feed himself or open the milk, and worse yet, operate the Wii remote control with his fingers, is a difficult audience to convince. I don’t blame him one bit, but we are all continually developing our patience and our come-what-may response and attitude.

Ironically, just 24 hours prior to said incident causing the broken bone (which was nothing more than running in a neighbor’s yard), he and his brother were doing this for the first time ever. They walked away from this without a scratch.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Finding Balance

Finding the balance of moving on with life and being the link to the past and a good mom to 2 little boyz who don’t have a daddy is becoming increasingly difficult.

After the first year anniversary of Brian’s death, I felt an odd sense of freedom. I felt as if perhaps I was no longer under what I perceived was the watchful eye of many on-lookers awaiting my response and reaction to each “first.” And while I had been moving on with life and trying to help the boyz move on with life, I still felt an expectation was upon me to handle each situation with a certain degree of emotion even if I wasn’t feeling much of anything.

Now, I feel the expectations are perhaps dissipating. I am forming new relationships and friendships that didn’t know me as Brian’s wife. I have people in my life that wouldn’t even know I am a widow if I didn’t tell them. They know me as this girl, Angie, not this “you are so strong, you have been through so much yet look at you” 38 year old widow. I can’t tell you how liberating that is. Because I spent so much of the first 6 months embracing the role of grieving widow, reaching a point of wanting to live life again was conflicting to say the least.

In order to reach a point of wanting to seek a possible intimate relationship again, I had to ensure myself I was not in love with Brian anymore. This was especially difficult because I was very much in love with Brian when he died. And because I embraced the role of grieving widow for so many months, I was still fostering that love. Then I started to feel stirrings to advance with this part of my life. I knew I couldn’t give my heart to anyone else if I was still holding it for Brian. So I had to fall out of love with Brian. It was a very guilt-ridden process to allow myself to fall out of love with a dead man that did nothing to me except die.

Today I am very okay with that. I know this is so painful for so many of you that read this blog to hear, but I am no longer in love with Brian. I love and value what we had. I cherish him as I do anyone that I loved or cared for that has passed on before me. But, in order for me to love again and be loved again, I can’t be in love with Brian anymore.

The only difficult part about not being in love with Brian is the pain I know it causes so many others. I know for Brian’s family, friends and many of my family, I am the link that instantly reminds them of him. I know they look at me and expect him to shuffle in behind me at times. I know to watch me move on is a painful reminder of his permanent absence.

So, it is hard to be me. It is hard to be excited about the next chapters of my life when I am with people that realize they experienced the last chapter of that part of their life just by my presence. The book is over. They cannot have another Christmas with their son or watch their brother celebrate another birthday. They will not experience another backyard barbeque or card game with their friend/relative. And they are incredibly sad about it as I concurrently have been able to let go of that and become excited about the possibility of holidays and special occasions with someone else someday.

It is also hard to be me in the sense that talking & reminiscing a lot about Brian can, depending on the situation, hold me in the past. It can cause me heartache and keep me reliving past moments instead of looking towards the future. I feel like I have a lot of future ahead of me. I am 38. I hope and pray I have as much life to live ahead as I’ve already lived behind.

The largest conflict is the boyz. Oh my, the boyz! It is a constant struggle to find a healthy balance of healthy grieving and acceptance. One day there may be a brief mention of Daddy’s ability to play hockey, then there are several days with no mention of Daddy at all, then there are days when they hold tightly to every piece of memorabilia they have and refer to him as if he may walk through the door at any moment. I realize that is grief – it comes in waves and it is unpredictable and illogical. But, the most difficult aspect of helping them handle their grief is knowing that I have come so far in my acceptance and am even eager about what lies ahead while they just want Daddy. I can almost sense that they know I have let go of Brian so much, so they purposefully hold on to try to force me to.

I will always keep Brian’s memory alive for them as much as I can. However, the healthy balance between keeping his memory alive and living in a past life is difficult to find. I want them to have pride about their daddy. I want them to remember the activities they did together. I want them to know about the type of man he was. I want them to know as much about their daddy as possible. However, I also know that they were 6 and 7-1/2 when he died. I know they will likely have spotty recollections from this time of their life at best. Knowing that, for the last year I spent so much effort drilling those memories into them so they will have more vivid recollections, I am no longer sure if I have done them a favor or a disservice.

This is all not even mentioning that they both handle and process life and its issues in polar opposite of each other and the challenges associated with that.

Regarding Brian, so often the boyz seem to live in the past. I want them to have a healthy outlook on what lies ahead of them. I want them to feel empowered and strong. I want them to feel capable and sure of themselves. And Brian isn’t here to help me do it. It’s all me. So, I have started to change my focus from our former family of 4 to our current family dynamic trio. I am more intentional in the role of encourager and cheer-leader and leader instead of saying things like “your daddy would be so proud.” And he would be. I just don’t know the best way to handle having them accept his death, yet want to know he WOULD be proud and also know that we have to live with our current circumstances and use what we currently have to forge ahead in life. I want the memories of Brian to be healthy and to be just that – memories, not what drives them in life, not what they are looking to as their present circumstance.

As I do this, I notice them holding on and grieving all over again. I don’t know if it is good or bad. I am mixed and conflicted. They are reminiscing a ton about Dad. They are sad and I am here for them. If they have questions about Brian, I answer them. If they feel like they need to cry, I give my shoulder. I kind of feel like maybe this is good to an extent, that we have been living in the past to such a large degree that they haven’t really processed as much as I had thought they had. I wonder if their nostalgia and sadness is a step forward.

I don’t know. I just know it is hard. WAY HARDER THAN I THOUGHT. It is complicated to know how to manage and handle it all.

Mostly, though, it is very difficult to find the right balance.

I imagine it will get easier in time, but it’s all gonna be about balance.

our current balance