The Struggle is Real

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I have to admit, I am on the Struggle Bus this week. The two people I love most in the world are facing possible life threatening situations and there is nothing I can do about it. I don’t like not being in control – I think I have mentioned this before. The only thing I can do is pray and I have been doing that 24/7. Let me fill you in.

Molly finally has her dream job. She will be teaching Fourth Grade at a school where teachers are supported and valued. She has a great team to work with and she gets to teach math, which is her favorite subject to teach. The only problem-school start Wednesday, in person, with 23 students in her class. During Covid. She has asthma. Her asthma has gotten much better since she was a child, but she still battles about one bout of bronchitis a year. The school is supplying the teachers with shields and all students must wear masks at all times. But I can’t help but worry. She is MY baby and there is absolutely nothing I can do about the situation but pray. Pray that the precautions taken by the school system are enough. Pray that her students abide by the mask-wearing rule. Pray that no one Molly comes in contact with is Covid positive. When you have an adult child, you pray A LOT because you can’t make decisions for her. You can only pray that God will watch over her and keep her safe. This just feels different because if she gets sick, I won’t be able to go and take care of her. I won’t even be able be near her. Can’t help it-it’s a struggle for me.

Speaking of taking care of people, it just so happens that the day after Molly starts teaching, Kevin is having his ablation done. This is a common procedure to correct Afib and get him off the medication his is taking. Under normal circumstances, I would be at the hospital with him. But we are living in the time of Covid, where you can’t enter a hospital without a Covid test. Kevin gets one Tuesday, me nothing. We have been told absolutely nothing about what I am going to be permitted to do. We are prepared for me to drop him off at the hospital Thursday and pick him up the next day. Again, all I can do is pray. Pray for a successful procedure. Pray Kevin doesn’t contract Covid in the hospital. Pray that I don’t go crazy with worry. Pray, pray, pray, pray.

On top of all of that I am writing a book about my dysfunctional family. I am ¾ of the way through Chapter 2, which tells the story of my mother’s life before I was born. Much of it is based off of memories of the stories she told me and conclusions I have made from my life as her daughter. It is not easy to write unpleasant things about your mother. I have been having nightmares again. Like I do with depression. I have a frozen shoulder because I hold all my tension in my shoulders and I wake up from my nightmares completely tensed up. I have a great Physical Therapist, who has become part counselor to me. She can tell when I have had a rough night.

Here is the strange thing. With all this going on, I feel emotionless on the surface. I am numb. This is not my first rodeo with God testing my faith. I know He is in control and there is nothing I can do about the situations. I have blanketed my fears in faith and it has helped to calm me. I should be going off like “a clay pigeon” as Kevin likes to say, but I am strangely quiet. Maybe accepting that I am on The Struggle Bus and accepting I have no control is a positive. I am not fighting against it-I have accepted it. I have no idea what life will look like a week, month or even year from now, but I am accepting of it. My lack of emotion kind of scares me, because it is so unusual for me. Am I depressed? Maybe. I am under the care of amazing professionals, so maybe being numb is a healthy way to cope. I have no idea.

I know that I am not the only one struggling during this unprecedented time. People are out of work. Families have lost loved ones and don’t have enough food to eat. We are all trying to figure out our “new normal” and no one is enjoying it. All I can say is pray, pray, pray. It is the only way for me to accept the things I cannot control and turn them over to God. If you are a praying person, if you could add one for the McLeasters this week, I would appreciate it. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord.” Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.

Safe travels,

 

Lori

And So It Begins

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So why do I want to write about my family’s history of mental illness and its effect on my life? After all the responses I received from my last blog, I think many of my generation already know. I need to write about mental illness in families because so many people have lived with it and through it without any help. Children of the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s were not always parented in a nurturing way. It was tough times for our country- depression, war, death, and despair. Families were just trying to get by with enough to live on. Some children were lucky and had a parent or a sibling that they were nurtured by, but many were just ignored and told to do their work and stay out of the way. Some children, like my husband’s aunt, were even sent to other families to be raised because there were too many in the house. (She was one of nine of a widowed mother and lived with another family during the week to go to school.)

What effect did this have on Baby Boomers? Parents who sometimes didn’t know how to be nurturing parented us. We were sometimes lucky and got one parent with a kind and loving heart (my dad), but many times we got two parents who didn’t know how to nurture and, therefore, we were treated like WE didn’t matter. Ask any Baby Boomer about summers when they were a kid and they will tell you the same thing – “I was told to leave the house and not come back until supper” After supper, you were told not to come in until it was dark. Our parents didn’t know where we were. My parents never even asked me where I was. The important thing is that I wasn’t bothering them.

I didn’t just come up with this idea. I took a class for Early Childhood Development that stated very clearly that you parent in the way you were parented, even if you swear to yourself that you “won’t become your mother”. You can’t help it. It is innate in your psyche. What you can do is make a conscious effort NOT to follow in your parent’s footsteps and be a BETTER nurturing mother or father.

That is what my book is about. It is about my journey to be BETTER. It is my fight against the stigma of mental illness in families. My dear husband’s father battled depression his whole and ended his life with suicide. That means our daughter has familiar mental illness on BOTH sides of her family. This is my battle to let my daughter know that she CAN talk to her family about mental illness. Think how different Kevin’s father’s life would have been if he had received the help available in today’s world WITHOUT the stigma associated with mental illness.

That is the reason for the book. It has taken me many years to get strong enough to write it. I will be reliving many painful memories. But I will also be educating others through my experiences and I will be confirming that you can get better. You can get help. I was in college before I started feeling good about myself as a person. Eighteen years to feel I was worth something. I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through, but I can’t ignore my past. I kept it inside for so many years and it finally exploded in my 40’s. If reading my experiences helps even one person feel more confident about their experiences, then I will have accomplished my goal. If it helps one person to seek help for mental illness, I will be ecstatic. I believe this is God’s purpose for me at this point in my life and I am devoted to doing His will.

Speaking of God, my book will have a lot of God in it. For one reason and one reason only-when no one was there for me, GOD was. My parents did one thing completely right- they raised us with in a wonderful church and instilled in ME (I can’t talk for my siblings) a faith that has never failed me. I promise I won’t be preachy, but this book can’t be written without a strong testament to my faith in God.

I have written the Introduction and first chapter of the book as of today and I am deep into the second chapter. The first three chapters are about my maternal grandmother, my mother up to my birth and my father up to my birth. The chapter on my grandmother is very short, because I know so little about her. This has definitely made me realize that even though we live 2000 miles away from Molly; if she has children we WILL be involved in their lives. I lived 30 minutes from both of my grandmothers and what I know about them I can write on very few pages. So sad for our whole family and the experiences we missed out on.

I am writing the chapter about my mother’s early life and it too has holes in what I know. My mother only shared what she wanted you to know and how she wanted you to know it. I have pictures. I have Ancestry records. I have my memories. I have my TRUTH and it is worthy of being heard. It is a journey that is just beginning. Please join me.

Safe travels,

Lori

 

 

 

 

My Independence Day

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Today doesn’t feel much like the 4th of July at our house. We are not really able to go anywhere because of the crowds. The things we usually do on the 4th like go to a movie and out to dinner aren’t possible. So while I am grateful to be an American, I don’t feel much like celebrating. There is just too much wrong with our country to have a celebration. Too many people are turning a blind eye to Covid-19 so they don’t have to be inconvenienced. So, I decided that today was going to be MY Independence Day. The day I announce that I am writing my memoir. Now, many of you who know me are thinking, she is just an ordinary woman-what does she have to write about. I am declaring my independence from the secrets of my past. The secrets that everyone in my family turned a blind eye to for most of my life- I am talking about mental illness.

It has taken my whole life (58 years) to be confident enough to write this. Those who know me now cannot imagine that I was anything but a confident, intelligent woman with a nice life. Those who knew me in K-12 think, boy she really came out of her shell and made something of her life. Both are true. Both are painful to talk about. Both almost killed me.

My maternal grandmother had schizophrenia. She was a cold woman that I really never knew. It took lots of counseling and lots of self -reflection to realize what her mental illness did to my mother. And what it did to my mother, she did to me. My mother never told me I was pretty. She never asked me how I was feeling about something, even when I was upset. She never put my needs before hers unless she got something out of it. She always gave me the feeling that I had to live up to her standards of the day to gain her attention. I could never talk to her about what was going on in my life, even when I was little. I was taught to be quiet and stay out of the way. My mother could make me feel like the biggest disappointment in her life. There would be times where I would think we were close, and then something would happen that would take months to repair.

Schizophrenia doesn’t just make you “see things”, it controls your emotions to the point where you can show neither joy nor sorrow. My mother was never diagnosed with ANY mental illness, but I know she suffered from many. How do I know?   She raised me and I suffer from mental illness. It is genetic and it is brutal. It is especially hard when it is ignored, as it was with my mother. One of her greatest skills was gas lighting. She was wonderful at getting people (including my beloved father) to believe her reality. It isn’t easy being raised by a gas lighter. I never knew what was real. My mother could make me feel like I was worthless, so when I did well in school or someone wanted to be my friend, I didn’t have the self confidence to believe I was worthy.

Things started to change for me after high school. Even though I lived with my parents while going to IPFW, being out in the world and meeting new people made me realize that my family life was not normal. I loved my mother, but I started lying to her on a regular basis in high school. She never knew the real me after about age 17. It was the only way to survive.

I will be writing my life’s journey in and through mental illness. It is a long story filled with pain, anger, denial, love, hate, but most of all; it is a story of resilience. The resilience of three generations of women living with mental illness and dealing with it the best they could. I loved my mother, but she was not an easy person to love. Yet,  I wanted more than anything to please her. When she died, there were so many things left unresolved between us. So, here, in my blog, I will be writing about the journey of writing my memoir. It is emotional and heartbreaking at times. More than anything, it is my truth and I finally have the courage to write it. The picture for this blog post I just took. It’s me, sitting on our couch. No make up, just the confidence to show myself for who I am. I hope you will join me on this journey. I have no map for where this will take me. I just know I need to go.

Safe travels,

Lori

How are You?

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“How are you”, is the first question out of my mouth when I talk with someone these days. In the world of Covid-19, it is the natural question. The health of the world has never been in the forefront of everyone’s minds more in my lifetime. We are dealing with a pandemic that hasn’t been seen since the 1918 Spanish Flu. So, how are YOU doing?

If I answer this question for myself, it isn’t a short answer. It depends on the day, the news, the weather and my family. Everyone is experiencing situations that we never thought we would have to deal with. Not being able to buy toilet paper when you need it? Going to the grocery store and not being able to buy everything you need? Being afraid to be closer than six feet to anyone but whom you live with? Sanitizing everything, all the time? All of this to avoid being infected with a deadly virus for which there is no cure? Some days, it’s just too much to wrap my brain around. Some days I am thankful for the quiet. Some days I don’t see the point of getting out of bed. Some days I have something to look forward to-it’s sunny and warm, we are going for a drive, we are getting carryout food. I do know, that being optimistic has never been more important. I have depression and I can feel it tingling under my skin some days. Those are the days I need to be kind to myself. I need to be a patient with Kevin and Molly. I need to sit in the sun and get rays. I need to go for a walk. Other days, I will spend an hour on the phone with friends or family. Some days it’s housework (not my favorite days) and some days it’s hours of watching mindless television. Some days we play games and laugh. Some days we play games and aggravate each other. EVERYDAY, though, I wake up and know that I am blessed. We are all healthy. We have toilet paper. We are able to get the food we need. We have two dogs that bring us joy. Most importantly, we are together. This morning in my bible study (where we were able to see each other through the wonder of Zoom), one of the ladies said that God is refining us everyday during this quarantine. He is refining us to live with less, count our blessings and turn towards Him, the Giver of all we have.

One of the issues that I have had to turn inward on is politics. I know, my last blog was completely about politics. But the last two weeks have made me realize a few facts. Our country is so divided by politics that we are not focusing on what we really need right now-comfort, empathy and support. I am not a Trump fan and I am not happy with how this whole situation was handled from the start. However, continuing to be angry gets me nowhere. Anger usually stems from fear and fear actually has been shown to lower your immunity. So have I decided to limit my exposure to the things that make me angry and focus more on the blessings in my life. I am limiting my time watching the news. I am limiting my time on social media. I am enjoying being with my family and dogs. I am taking care of my own. Matthew McConaughey posted on his Instagram to please stay home and take care of your own. By doing this, you are actually taking care of your neighbors and even the whole world.

There are brave men and women who can’t stay home. Doctors, nurses, First Responders, grocery store clerks, warehouse workers, scientists working on an anti-viral, scientists working on a vaccine. Factory workers now making ventilators and masks. These are our heroes. Not the politicians worried about the next election. These are the people who need our support and prayers. And yes, I will even pray for the politicians, for them to listen to the experts and act accordingly.

How are you doing? Not a simple question with a simple answer. I pray that you all are well, safe and at home. As for me, I am putting faith in God to bring us through this pandemic with greater appreciation for our lives and our blessings.

 

Safe travels, (but stay home, please)

Lori

 

Why?

 

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Yesterday, I woke up in a very strange mood. I turned on the TV and CBS Sunday Morning wasn’t on and the CBS news I was getting was from LA because the New York studios were closed for cleaning. I just had a feeling that things were changing and changing fast. I was right. Gatherings went from 250 to 100 to 50 in one day. (As I write this, it is now 10 people). We went to Target and the grocery store when we heard that all wineries, bars and brewpubs were being asked to close in California. Molly and I cancelled our trip to Palm Springs next week and rescheduled it to June. We did go out to dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant and got gelato. We practiced social distancing. I ended the day feeling a little more in control.

But this morning, I am mad. I realize I was mad yesterday and I just didn’t recognize the feeling for what it was. You see, if you live in California, you have been living with the Covid-19 virus since the end of January. If you are a supporter of President Trump, you probably don’t want to read the rest of this blog. The following are my opinions and my doubts about the leadership of the country, so readers beware!

When the first Americans were flown home from Wuhan, China, they were flown to military bases in California. This was the last week of January. I remember thinking to myself, why is this not making more of a headline? Why does the government think they can bring people into the US with the possibility of a deadly disease with no vaccine and it’s not going to spread in the U.S.? I became complacent because the government was complacent. The news continued to be bad about the virus, all bad, but Trump blew it off. “No big deal”, “It’s a hoax”, “Live your daily lives”, all things Trump said in the early days. Of course, social media didn’t help. Our country is so divided by politics, that we couldn’t see this for what it really is – A WORLD HEALTH CRISIS.

How did things get to out of hand? How is the United States of America not prepared for a pandemic of this scope? How did our great nation ignore that our lives were going to change forever?

My answer-it all goes back to Trump and his lack of experience, judgment and empathy for the citizens of this nation. He has been so focused on hate, that this pandemic came up and bit him in the ass. He has cut staff and budget at the CDC and NIH. He seemed to think that this virus could not affect Americans. I got news for you Mr. Trump; this virus doesn’t care if you are rich, white, illegal or homeless. We are all capable of contracting it. AND, you can have the virus and not even know it!!

Why, why, why, when you knew this virus was spreading, did you not order resources (I mean money), to make testing kits? Why isn’t testing available for free for every person in this country? Why isn’t the world working together to develop a vaccine? Again, it comes back to hate and greed.

Not only am I mad, I am disappointed in my fellow humans who felt the need to hoard resources. Who actually needs 96 rolls of toilet paper? Grocery stores aren’t closing folks, so stop acting like 3-year-olds who don’t know how to share! Save some for your fellow humans who need it as much as you do. Why, oh why, did Costco allow people to hoard? Again, the reason is greed. They are making so much money!! Yeah us! Guess what, Costco; your stock is in the toilet just like all other stocks.

Our country has veered so far from our core beliefs. “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”. Where is the one nation? We are a nation divided. Where is God? We forget that people seeking religious freedom created our nation. Yet, we want to build a wall to keep them out. Liberty and justice for all?? Liberty and justice for those who can afford it, you mean.

This pandemic will change lives forever. Personally, our retirement just got a whole lot more restrictive. Who knows if we will ever make up the money we have lost in the stock market? Small businesses are going to close. Hourly employees with no health insurance will suffer with no pay and no money to pay for treatment if they get sick. Even the untouchable Disney is losing money. NOTHING will be the same because of a man who cares nothing about the citizens of this nation.

I am mad and you should be too. This nation is better than this. This nation is smarter than this. Was anyone else amazed that Trump, who is in the high-risk category, held a news conference TODAY in a room with more that 10 people? Why the hell isn’t the leader of the free world protecting himself? Because his ego is so big he doesn’t think he can get the virus. Where is your self-isolating, Mr. Trump?

Those of you, who know me, know I have never been a Trump supporter. But this goes beyond supporting a candidate based on your political views. This goes to the very nature of staying the “United States of America” and that is not possible under the leadership of this current president. Please exercise your right to vote and vote for the safety and future of our country. And pray. If you don’t believe in a higher power, you need to now. May God be with us all.

Safe travels,

Lori

 

 

 

Dear Irene

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Something happened to me last month. I fell in love, with a dog. Not just any dog, a kind of funny looking rescue dog. I know, I am a dog person; so falling in love with a rescue dog shouldn’t seem unusual. But this love affair started just a few weeks after the loss of my dear Archie, my soul mate dog. I wasn’t looking to fall in love, but you never know what God has in store for you.

It was our first Doodle Romp since Archie had died and we were not sure about going. But our Doodle friends had been so wonderful with their support during Archie’s sickness and passing, we had to go. We had to let Lola see her friends and have some fun.

When Irene’s (then Dixie’s) foster parents showed up at our lunch before the romp, I realized they were there for us. Our friends are directors for the Doodle Rescue Collective (DRC) and I knew there was a mini doodle coming up for adoption. When I first approached the little dog, she was nervous and not ready to meet new people. So, I waited awhile and tried again. I sat on the ground and she warmed up to me. I started talking to her foster parents about her past, and was heart broken that she had had such a rough start. Then, I picked her up and held her in my lap. She curled her head around my neck like our cockapoo Annabelle used to and I was gone. It took a whole second of snuggles and a piece of my heart forever belonged to this little scamp of a dog.

Kevin wasn’t feeling good that day and his grief over the loss of Archie was still heavy on his heart. He didn’t hear Irene’s story, he didn’t snuggle her, and he barely petted her. He just wasn’t feeling it. Not to mention, we had a deposit on a puppy due the end of February. Basically, he thought I was nuts.

I understood his concerns. Our number one priority was getting his heart back to normal rhythm. We couldn’t make any decisions until he was better. We were blessed and his cardio version worked; and that piece of my heart still belonged to Irene.

The DRC is a wonderful rescue organization and we are honored that we passed the application process. I had worn Kevin down to at least letting us officially apply. There were several applications for Irene and we offered to do another meet and greet. Kevin was finally onboard with meeting with the foster parents and the puppy again. She had been spayed during our time getting Kevin’s heart better and she was ready to be adopted.

Last Saturday, the day after Irene turned one-year-old, her wonderful foster parents came to our house and spent two hours letting Irene get to know us and Lola. It didn’t start out well. Our sweet Lola, who hasn’t a mean bone in her body, didn’t like Irene at first. As a matter of fact, she was awful to her. Irene was stressed and I started to wonder if we WERE the right family for her. I can’t say how much I appreciate the patience Irene’s foster parents gave her and us! They worked with Irene and Lola and gave us tips on how to handle Irene’s behaviors. By the time they left, both dogs were calmer and tolerating each other.  And Kevin was just as much in love as I was. The foster parents just wanted one more assurance we were the right family. They knew we went to the Doodle Romp every month and they wanted to see how Irene did in that environment.

Let’s just say, Irene is a natural at Doodle Romps. She played and never stopped!! By the end of the romp, our adoption was official!! We signed the contract Sunday and brought her home Monday.

From the moment she came in our door, Irene has been HOME. As I write this, Lola and Irene are lying next to each other sleeping at my feet. Kevin is convinced that I am some kind of dog guru. I know-I just followed my heart.

Safe travels,

Lori

 

 

Gratitude

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Last week I “escaped” from my life. Kevin’s heart rate was stable and we weren’t getting along. (If you are retired, you understand.) My dear friends Jennifer and Scott allowed me to invite myself to their new apartment in Phoenix. They just moved to Phoenix right before the holidays and are house hunting. They really didn’t need me in their way, but they welcomed me with open arms and hearts. For five days, I didn’t have to clean, cook, do laundry or be sad with Kevin. It was heaven. Jennifer and Scott didn’t have to let me visit, but that is what good friends do for each other. I will forever be grateful for their kindness.

Kevin enjoyed my time away too. He had friends in San Diego for a conference and got to spend some quality “guy” time. By the time I came home, I wanted to come home and Kevin wanted me home too. Even Lola seemed happier. I think we just needed time away from each other to grieve Archie’s death and get ready for Kevin’s upcoming procedure today.

This week was wonderful. We had bright sunshine and we enjoyed each other’s company. All this week I had a bible verse going through my mind. I finally had to look it up. John 16:33 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Now, if you aren’t a religious person, you probably think it is silly to have this verse mean so much to me. But knowing that Jesus told us that we will have trouble, but to have peace because He has overcome the world we live in, did just that. It gave me peace to not worry about today.

Today started out a mess. Kevin called to confirm the procedure time because we didn’t receive a phone call yesterday confirming the time like they said we would. At 11:00, we found out we were supposed to be in La Jolla at 11:30. We were still in our pajamas and La Jolla is at least a 45 -minute drive. We got to the hospital at noon. Then he had to wait forever to get checked-in.   Finally, they called him back, and then, things went fast. I went to the lobby, texted Molly to let her know the procedure was starting, and then I started to pray. “Please, God, let it work, please, God let it work”. Over and over I prayed. I was still praying when I heard the doctor call “Lori”! His first words were “It worked! One zap!” Such a feeling of peace overcame my whole body. The doctor talked with me for sometime and he even stopped back in to see Kevin after he was completely awake. I thank God for this doctor’s care and wisdom.

Coming home today was so joyful! Kevin has no restrictions except to limit his beer consumption. He hasn’t been able to drink for a month, so I think he can live by this. It could take six to nine months for his heart to get back to full function, but the doctor said, “go and live your life” and that is what we are going to do!

Tonight, we are going to bed with grateful hearts. We are grateful for good friends. We are grateful for each other. Most of all, we are grateful to God for a successful cardio version. It’s been a tough month. One of the toughest. But we made it. We came through the tunnel to the light. Our future is bright.

Safe travels,

Lori

 

 

Limbo

 

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Patience has never been a strong point for me. As a child, I used to make myself sick with excitement before Christmas, my birthday or a big vacation. I have been known to make rash decisions that I later regret. When I want to buy something big, I put it on a credit card and decide how to pay for it later. I can’t stand it when people don’t find out the sex of their baby during ultrasound-HOW CAN YOU WAIT PEOPLE?? (Though I do think Gender Reveal Parties are out of hand.) I think my insomnia is partially due to my impatience. I hate to wait – for anything.

So, these days are tough for me. We are being forced to be patient. Everyday, Kevin takes his blood pressure and pulse to see if the medicine is working. Everyday, we wonder if his numbers are good enough for the next Cardio Version to work. Everyday, we miss Archie and wish we could get our new puppy sooner. Everyday, we wonder what the future will bring.

This time feels different for me. I don’t know if it’s age or if I am just too exhausted to be impatient. The slow days aren’t bothering me as much I expected them to. Maybe I have grown up a little, or maybe, I have learned to appreciate each day and the experiences it brings.

We aren’t the only one in limbo. Since Kevin’s diagnosis, we have found out that many people we know are dealing with serious Afib. I have a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer a few months back. It was supposed to be a simple lumpectomy, but it has turned into a much more serious situation. We have friends whose Golden Retriever just had surgery for cancerous tumors and they are waiting to hear what their treatment options are. My dear friend who had knee replacement surgery in JUNE is just starting to get her mobility back. She has been in limbo for months! People are living with uncertainty in their lives all over the world.

I am a planner. I plan EVERYTHING. I drive Kevin and Molly nuts with my plans. I plan vacations a year in advance. I make a list and plan my day, everyday, and I feel lost when I don’t. I get upset when my plans don’t go the way I expect. So, you can imagine, how upsetting the last two weeks have been. My schedule hasn’t been mine. My plans have been changed constantly. My world has been unpredictable.

So, while the slow days aren’t bothering me as much, not being able to make plans is driving me a little crazy. I’ll start to think about planning something and then I will remember. Will Kevin be cleared by then? Oh, yeah, we will have a puppy then, we can’t go on a trip! How much is all this going to cost?? (I am big on budgets too.)

The hardest part of the slow days is watching how sad Lola is. I wish she could talk so I could explain to her why Archie left. I wish we were able to get a puppy sooner for her to play with and love. I wish she would run and play like she used too-but her playmate is no longer here. She is in limbo too and she doesn’t understand why.

So, we journey on. Kevin will continue to take his meds and his blood pressure. We will do as many activities as we can. February 6th isn’t really that far away. Then we will know if the meds worked and Kevin’s heart will get back to normal rhythm. Then I can make plans again (I refuse to accept anything but a positive outcome.) Then Molly and I can get excited about our Girls Trip to Palm Springs. Then I can visit Jen in Phoenix. Then we can get excited about the puppy. Until then, I am attempting to live by a saying that I have tried to adopt into my life. Cartoonist Bil Keane said, “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present”. What are you going to do with your gift today?

Safe travels,

Lori

 

 

 

HOPE

 

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Today was a tough day; I’m not going to lie. It was our first full day without Archie and I spent a good part of the day crying. It was also a day of hope and that is what I want to focus on-Hope.

Our first glimmer of hope came at Kevin’s doctor appointment with the arrhythmia specialist. While he confirmed what we already knew, he took the time to listen to us and answer our questions. He gave us hope that the medicine that Kevin is on is his best chance to get his heart out of Afib. Kevin has to take it easy the next few weeks and then the new doctor is going to try the cardioversion again. He believes that Kevin’s heart can completely recover from the Afib.

The second glimmer of hope came with all the love and support we received from friends and family today. I talked with my sweet friend Candace in Indiana who always knows the right thing to say to make me feel better. My friends Deb and Jane are taking me out for an early birthday lunch on Saturday (and a chance to get out of the house!) I love these new friends I have made in Oceanside. It’s like we have known each other for years. I talked with Molly multiple times and just hearing her voice cheered me up.

The third glimmer of hope came when the breeder of our new puppy called me back and talked about the process of adopting our new baby. Archie’s death has left a huge hole in our hearts and he can never be replaced. But we are DOG people and we need another puppy to love. Talking to her got me a little excited and a little less sad. (Just a little.)

The fourth glimmer of hope was the perfect bracelet I received in the mail from Candace. I wanted something to remember Archie by and she picked the perfect gift. I will treasure it always.

The fifth glimmer of hope was all the love and encouragement I receive on a daily basis from our wonderful Doodle friends here in California. We text multiple times a day and their love, support, encouragement and grief for Archie has meant the world to me. It is proof that God puts people in your life for a reason.

The sixth glimmer of hope is my Bible Study Fellowship lesson I did tonight. We are studying Hebrews and how Christ sacrifice is the only covenant we need. The lesson also emphasizes how you need to have faith and strength and continue to believe in Christ’s covenant during trying times. Boy, did I need to hear that!

So, today, I choose hope. The other options just don’t work for me. I thank God that I have the support system I do in my life. I thank God for letting us have Archie for eight years. I thank God for giving us hope for Kevin’s healing. I thank God for keeping me calm during this storm and guiding my path.

 

Safe travels,

Lori

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers Part Two

 

We went to the human specialist yesterday, which was a cardiologist for Kevin. Again, the answer was not what we were hoping for. Our general physician diagnosed Kevin with Afib right before Christmas. Kevin was put on medicine to control his heart rhythm, but it didn’t help. Kevin was switched to a different medicine on January 3rd and we thought it was working. We were wrong.

beige sand with heart engrave
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When we checked into the cardiologist yesterday, the nurse who was taking Kevin’s vitals, asked if we were up to date on the procedure Kevin was scheduled for Friday. We knew nothing of this procedure-we hadn’t even met the doctor yet! Turns out the echocardiogram Kevin had had the week before showed that he is in Afib all the time now and it has weakened his heart. The cardiologist scheduled Kevin a cardio vert today. It’s when they shock your heart back to normal sinus rhythm. We were blindsided that the situation was so serious.

My reaction surprised me. I was angry. Really angry-at Kevin. I had been after him for years to lose weight and change his eating and drinking habits. My anger was all consuming. My sweet niece called me and talked me off the ledge. Her father has just gone through this same situation over the past few months and she has a great perspective on our situation. She validated my anger but said I need to put it aside because Kevin is sick and needs me. My anger turned to fear. Fear that Kevin’s heart isn’t strong enough for shocking. Fear that he is going to die. Fear that I will be left alone without a husband. Last night was tough, but I was able to put away my fear and be supportive.

I would love to be able to write that the cardio vert worked, but it didn’t. They shocked his heart three times and each time it went back to Afib. They gave him an IV of medicine that is supposed to help put his heart back in normal rhythm along with oral meds to do the same. Luckily, I was able to get him into the Arrhythmia Specialist on Monday. We should get some more answers on what treatment Kevin needs to convert his heart rhythm back to normal. I have never looked forward to a doctor’s appointment more.

So, I continue to ask for prayers. Prayers that they find a way to get Kevin’s heart rhythm back to normal. Prayers that his heart stays in a normal rhythm. Prayers that Kevin uses this situation to lose weight and get in shape. Prayers that I can be the support system he needs and still stay strong myself. Prayers that Archie continues to do well on his meds so we have a little more time with him. Prayers for Molly, who feels helpless being so far away from everything happening here. Prayers that my family feels God’s grace and love and it is a comfort to us. Prayers for faith to get us through this tough time.

I knew this was going to be a tough week but I had no idea how tough. I really have no map to take me through this journey, but through it I must go. May mercy and grace be our roadmarks.

Safe travels,

Lori

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