Yes, it has been a week since I last took the time to write. Goodness gracious, this has been a bat crazy week. I went into it having not slept a wink for days. My bad dreams and the fear of having them has kept me tossing and turning for weeks now and last weekend really did me in in the no sleep department.
I have been having hair woes for a few weeks. My last haircut was back in June and my locks desperately needed some attention. My sister decided she would come to my rescue and come to visit me on Tuesday-Friday. Hallelujah! But also, CRAP. Where to put her? Which of my children’s rooms could possibly work for her and her two little ones who are busy, active toddlers? We have completely moved out of those stages and my children’s rooms are full of their creations, projects, pets, and who knows what else. There isn’t really a good place to put a mama with two little ones in my house.
My sister also brought my mom – WAHOO! But again, where on earth shall I put her to sleep? She recently had knee surgery after slipping on a log on our camping trip. She broke her tibia and tore a dime sized piece of meniscus. I knew she would need to be on the main floor and the only beds there are mine and Blythe’s. Blythe’s wasn’t an option as it is too high off the ground AND it is currently in a state of disaster. So I decided she would have to sleep in my bed with me.
Sunday night my cousin Tami decided to come and visit. I think she was worried about me and my ridiculous lack of sleep and thought she would come show me some love. Which is super lovely. But also, where would I put her? And how would I find any time to see her when my current homeschooling schedule is pretty jam-packed?
All these visitors and challenges of sleeping arrangements were a tad stressful and I had to quickly figure out some solutions. I tried my best, but in the end Mikelle’s accommodations in the sewing room were FAR less than desirable and she didn’t get much sleep while she was here. My mom didn’t go for the idea of sleeping with me and ended up sleeping on the couch. And poor Tami stayed here one night and then left to find better accommodations at Kat’s.
I ended up abandoning my schedule almost completely and spending some much needed time with all of them. I wasn’t as prepared as I normally am for Worldviews and my children didn’t have their normal homeschooling days, but we got lots of haircuts done, ate delicious food, and had some good chats.
And then I got sick. Sicker than I have been in a long, long time. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I have been sick since the gnomes visited my intestinal tract back in 2011. This sick started with allergy like symptoms and I thought that was what it was. But when I laid down Wednesday night, my lymph glands swelled to enormous sizes, my ears and head started throbbing, and my lungs filled up with fluid. I have now been in bed coughing for four days straight and SO ready to move on. The mucous coming out of me makes me gag and my nose is full of ugly, painful fever blisters that make me look like I have a pig’s snout.
Yes, this is a picture of me in my current state of pig snoutishness. It is awful and am I more than a bit mortified to share it with you.
I currently have a small mountain of tissues (Puffs Plus, of course. They are the ONLY tissues worth anything.) on my bed and a throw up bowl nearby to spit out the mucous that keeps shooting up from my lungs. Gross, I know.
Oh my. What I wouldn’t give to wave a magic wand and make this all go away.
Thursday was my little boy’s tenth birthday. I was not even functioning that day. I am so grateful Mikelle and my mom were here to take him to the lake and give him some lovin’ because I was out of completely out of commission. Trying to raise my head felt like heaving bowling ball in the air with fishing line and just the simple act of breathing became a task laden with serious effort. I am so, so sad to have not been able to celebrate with him and make it a special day. When I am feeling better, the two of us need to go on a belated birthday date.
I think the lack of sleep, the deep emotional pain I am in right now with these dreams, and the sadness I have been feeling over the car accident ten years ago, all contributed to my body’s takeover by bacteria. This is some nasty stuff and I hope Mikelle, her kiddos, my mom, and Tami don’t get it.
Late in the afternoon, I looked at my trees and I looked at my yard and I looked at my Annesley who was busy entertaining herself by trying on every fancy dress-up in the house and twirling around, and I said “Do you want to meet me in the hammock for some snuggle time?”
Her eyes lit up and she stripped out of her layers of taffeta and rushed outside to the hammock. I grabbed Blueberries For Sal and went out for my very first hammock swing in our yard.
We snuggled for awhile, then Rosie-Tigris, Annes’ kitten, joined us for more snuggles. We read all about Little Sal and Little Bear getting lost on Blueberry Hill while their mother’s were picking blueberries. I talked to her about Aidan and his soon-to-be-occurring death. She asked me all about the car accident and if I was in an accident when she was in my uterus. We snuggled and laughed and kissed and connected. Connection was exactly what we both needed. After a long while, I asked her to go get some hummus and pitas for a hammock picnic.
Yesterday was a hard day. I spent much of it crying and not accomplishing much from my very long to-do list. But the magic of a hammock turned it around. Rubbing my little one’s back while her cheek rested on my shoulder filled my aching heart up with just the right amount of love.
And filled her up too.
Connection, it makes all the difference.
Ten years ago today I took Blythe and Keziah to their Kindermusik class. It was a lovely September afternoon, just like this one. My very round, 40 week pregnant belly was barely able to fit behind the wheel of our 1989 Suburban, a metal tank we loved dearly.
On the way home, an 80 year old man ran a stop sign and T-boned into me going about 50 mph. The hood of his car was smashed into the backseat of his little Honda Civic. My suburban was dented, but still drivable. It’s size and strength totally made the difference that day. Our girls were fine. The car hit right into me and I didn’t fare so well.
My already extremely loose pelvis was injured. We didn’t know what was wrong yet, but we knew I was in horrific pain. I couldn’t walk.
An OB visit revealed that the uterine ligaments were torn, my pelvis was a hot mess of shifted bones, and my baby was in good condition.
A few days later I gave birth to Fisher. I cannot describe the pain of that week. It is beyond words.
The pain of the next two years took my breath away and broke me down to tears over and over again. Slowly but surely, through chiropractic care, lots of patience, supplements, and exercise, I was able to get my life back. Eventually I could vacuum, sweep, walk up and down stairs, and ride my recumbent. Thinking I was doing pretty well, I closed the claim with the man’s insurance company and moved on with life.
But my pelvis never recovered. It has never been the same. Scar tissue. Pain. Dislocations. All of it became a normal part of life for me. But I could still function well. Do back handsprings. Ride my bike. Swim. Run. Jump on the trampoline. Play volleyball. Richard got really good at putting my hips back into place and it seemed like the pesky little things were totally livable.
But the damage to my pelvis came back to haunt me when my labrum tore in February 2012. As the months wore on and more and more injuries occurred and we started dealing with the adhesions from the car accident, I could feel my anger from the accident growing. “Why did that man run that stop sign?” “Why did he lie about it?” “Doesn’t he have any idea how he has changed my life forever?” “Why, oh why, did I close the case? I should have settled for piles of pennies to pay for all these medical bills that I should have known were coming!”
God has blessed me with a lot of emotional and spiritual healing during this whole journey. The anger is gone…at least mostly, there are days it still flares up, but my heart has stopped asking “why” and has accepted what is.
But today on this 10th anniversary of the car accident, I am filled with tears. I can’t stop crying. Parts of me are so, so grateful for the past ten years of learning, of pain, of blessings and parts of me are simply devastated for the path my life has taken. Devastated that my little children can’t even remember a mother who was capable of running with them in the yard or going on a bike ride with them. Devastated that so much of the past ten years has been spent taking care of me. Devastated that “I” cost so much to take care of. Devastated that that beautiful, beautiful sunshiny September day ended in an accident that has had such far-reaching consequences.
So, today I reached out to my friend Rachel whose son Aidan is dying. His spirit will leave this life today or tomorrow. I took her some food and went and held her in my arms as we both cried. I held Aidan’s hand for the last time and did my best to surround her with my love and the love of her Father.
I stopped at some little ones’ lemonade stand and gave them my nickels for a tinsy cup of lemonade and a bucketful of joy.
I stared out the window at the blue, blue sky and marveled at the gift of peace my trees give to me.
And I cried.
Dreams are a strange thing. I don’t know how they are for other people, but for me they are vivid, soul-gripping events. I often have a hard time separating out what is real and what is not real when I wake up because my dreams feel completely real. Coming back to reality feels pretty jarring.
Throughout my years of adulthood I have had lots of what I call “bad dreams” where sad, bad, hard things happen. Things like murder, car chases, falling off cliffs, evil men breaking into my home in the middle of the night to rape our daughters, living with old boyfriends and having an unhappy marriage full of adultery, abuse, and poverty. In the early days of our marriage, I had dreams of Richard having affairs and in the morning I would wake up unable to sort out if it had really happened or not. He would hold me (if my fury at his alleged affair dissipated enough to allow him to hold me) and listen to the sordid tale and let me work it out in my mind till I came to the truth of the matter. Sometimes these dreams showed me what my life could have been like had I made different choices.
None of this happens every night, but it certainly happens often enough that it doesn’t surprise us. I roll over and say “I had a bad dream” and Richard wraps his arms around me and waits for me to share it. He listens and helps me process all the powerful emotions that pour out of me in the early morning hours.
Does everyone do this? Is this normal? I have no idea. I only know my dreams are intense, full-on-experiences in the movie theater of my mind.
Well, for the last few weeks, the dream experiences have become even worse. I’m not sure if the intensity is worse or the frequency or what, but I am starting to dread going to sleep. All of these dreams are revolving around one theme – rape, abuse, molestation. Of me.
And it hurts.
More than I can begin to describe.
I wake up in the morning feeling violated.
More than angry, full on rage.
And at the same time, shriveled.
I was molested as a child by several different people. And though I cannot stand to have my hair stroked because one abuser did that to me, I think I have dealt with it pretty well.
And yet, these dreams aren’t going away. None of the dreams are like my own experiences in terms of setting, participants, or events, but the feeling of violation is identical, but also somehow, more pronounced.
Last night’s dreams was a doozy. I find myself wanting to wrap up in warm blankets and hide from the world as I let my body and spirit process these feelings of being trapped, completely misunderstood, and thoroughly violated by not only the man who was touching me, but also the police who investigated afterwards.
I can see the effects of these dreams on my face. The wrinkles are more pronounced, the bags under my eyes bigger. Tears spring to my eyes much more easily than they ever have before. I find myself crying as I look at a flower, a small child, an act of kindness. The beautiful moments of life are becoming much more precious to me.
This is hard. Really hard. I know these experiences aren’t real, but the feelings are and after each dream they need processed and released. I don’t know why they are coming. Are they a gift to help me heal from my own experiences or are they torturing me and serving no helpful purpose? I don’t know.
I only know I hurt and I cry and I am tired.
We are settling into our new routines and it doesn’t seem quite as painful to get up at 6:00 in the morning as it did two weeks ago. Learning time has been going really well this week and my “life is terrible” child has made some attitude adjustments. Now I just need to figure out how to get all my study time in for my Worldviews class, find some time for long soaking sessions in the tub, get a haircut, find some time to get ready each day (I certainly don’t want to get up any earlier just to get ready!) and we will be set. I also made two yummy meals this week, brown butter spaghetti and Kat’s Lentil Tacos. Super duper amazing for me.
This new routine is not a minor adjustment, it is a monumental shift in the operations of our home. It is going to take some time for all of us to be really good at getting up and being cheerful, but we are doing it and I want to shout from the rooftops how proud I am of us. Especially my Keziah. She has had huge adjustments in the past few weeks. She walks out the door for seminary at 6:25 which means she has to get up (all on her own, cause I am sure not waking up to wake her up!) at 5:30. By the time scripture reading happens at 6:00, she is dressed cute as a button, has her hair done, and is participating in scripture reading better than she has for the past several years. On top of all of that, she has pretty massive amounts of schoolwork, violin practice, and either cross-country practice or a meet every day. She spent the entire summer babysitting for a family in our town and now moved right into a busy fall schedule with even more being expected of her. I couldn’t be more proud of how well she has stepped up to the plate – she is being kinder, more cheerful, and getting her long list of to-dos done every day. Her sassiness is becoming a bit less caustic and a bit more humorous. Hallelujah! Her love language is gifts so I am going to start looking for some small presents to surprise her with on those days she knocks our socks off with awesomeness.
So give us some high fives when you see us, we are actually making progress.
My friend Sheri came over and exercised with me this morning – we did it! We made it through 20 minutes of balance, strengthening, and Elliptigo work. Boy howdy, is it hard. I am so proud of us!
It is also a tad hilarious how challenging these simple exercises are. I find myself bursting out with laughter at how ridiculously weak my body is, especially my hip and pelvic muscles. Anytime my hip is solely responsible for holding me upright, I fall over. My feet are really good at wearing superhero capes and holding me upright, but when we take them out of the picture, my hip cannot keep me balanced.
So, we are embarking on a journey. A journey of mind, will, and muscles. There is not a quick fix, no pill I can take to grow these muscles. It is going to be a slow and steady journey into the land of strength. Having a workout partner is motivating and shockingly enough, it was even fun to do it at 6:30 in the morning (three weeks ago I would have NEVER said anything at 6:30 could be fun!) We can do this!
Confession: During our post-workout drink time, I nearly killed Sheri with my parsley & pineapple smoothie. It is my sweetest one and I thought she would love it like I do, but no, she said it tasted like weeds. I hope she comes back tomorrow and I will try to make her something more palatable.
Yippee! Hallelujah! Hurrah! Wahoo! Huzzah! Whatever your favorite shout of exclamation, it is time to shout it now. Yesterday afternoon at therapy, I made it out to the gym! Yes! For the first time in months my body was ready to actually build muscles. I have been out of all splints, tapes, braces, boots, etc. for 9 days and joints are staying in place. Jeremy taught me all sorts of new exercises and hilariously enough, every time my body was dependent on just my right hip I lose my balance, fall off the ball, fall off the balance board, etc. It is so stinkin’ weak!
So, it is time for dedication my friends. This is the time I have been waiting for, praying for, pleading for, and it is now time to get to work to build some muscles. I am rededicating myself to the pelvic cones, drinking lots of water, taking all my supplements, doing my MELT work, and doing my new exercises for 20 minutes every day. This is going to be hard for me. Daily habits have never been easy for me, I am more in the camp of 18 hours of hard work then ignore it for five days. But that is not the approach my body needs – it needs a little bit of muscle building every single day.
Today is day one (another day one) on the Elliptigo, the ball, the balance pad, and with the cones. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.
Is it Monday already? Wowsers, last week kicked my hiney and I need another day of sleep before I am ready for Monday.
But here it is. And I am going to put on my can-do attitude and tackle it.
Here are some little updates…
iFAMILY went really, really well. I loved teaching both my classes AND my body held up well all day. At one point a fellow mother told me I was exuding health. HEALTH! Wowsers, I haven’t heard that in a long, long time.
Gym went really, really well. I was careful and pretty smart and didn’t get hurt. There are lots of adorable kiddos coming to spend Fridays with me and we are going to have a blast. But it did me in…I came home and slept the sleep of the dead until about midnight.
Homeschooling isn’t going so hot right now. I have a child who is balking at pretty much everything and I mean everything, not just schooling, and my patience is worn thin. This little person has been in an “everything is awful” stage for several months and I honestly don’t know how much more I can take. Yesterday Richard addressed this attitude issue with said child and I am hoping for improvement today. It is going to take some time to turn this around…and lots and lots of loving guidance from me.
Meals are improving. I actually cooked a delicious dinner one day last week. And I plan on cooking at least one delicious dinner this week, Tuesday is my goal. It might not sound like much, but it is a huge percentage increase in my cooking output.
Morning scripture study is working (at 6:00 a.m.!!!) at least in the sense that we are doing it and everyone is at least semi-conscious. The two little ones aren’t as conscious as I would like and they go back to sleep afterwards, but it is coming along. Our morning prayers together are the favorite part of my day. Everyone is more subdued and it feels like we are wrapped up in a blanket of peace before the big girls and Richard head out the door.
My body had a really hard time yesterday. I had early morning church meetings and a long day of church after that and I didn’t take care of myself. I didn’t drink water and I didn’t eat enough and I didn’t get enough rest and I stood in the hallway for too long (my body does not like me to stand still, it drops my blood pressure and sends my heart into tachycardia). So I passed out. Again. In the middle of Relief Society and Richard had to come get me and haul my limp body out in a wheelchair. I hate it. I hate it ever so much. I don’t want to be unconscious. I don’t want to be a spectacle. I don’t want to cause fear or panic for other people when they see my body shaking and my face lose all its color. I don’t want to worry my children. I just want my body to be able to handle normal everyday activities like grocery shopping and attending church. I really want to be able to go hiking and ride my bike, but I am not asking it to do those things…just simple things like standing up for more than five minutes at a time and lifting groceries into my car.
Creating a new normal based on my body’s limited abilities to do what I want to do and my children’s needs at this time is the goal for this year and I am doing everything I can to stay focused on that and not get derailed by pictures in my head of what it could be like if I was the mom I used to be. We are still working on finding music teachers for this year, getting our schedules and routines a bit more solid, working out car sharing with Blythe, finishing the book decluttering/school room rearrangement project, and getting my study hours to be as productive as I need them to be, but we are making progress. We are only one week into this new routine and if I think about it with kindness in my heart, we have made a lot of progress. If I let my I-want-everything-to-be-perfect-right-now mind take over, I would slide into misery, but that mind was kicked to the curb a long time ago and I am not going to let it come back in and dampen our momentum.
It’s almost time to start our learning time, so I better run and get my morning protein smoothie into me so I don’t pass out like I did yesterday at church. Dysautonomia really stinks.
I love homeschooling. Absolutely love it. Believe in it. Preach it. Teach it. Live it.
But I don’t want to present only one side of the picture lest someone think homeschooling is all roses smelling of super cheerful children dying to learn every minute of the day. I have to be honest. And today that honesty is tiredness. Today has about done me in. We are almost done with our second week of early morning scripture study and day 3 of 6:15 scripture study. Man, it is early. Then today I added in the whole shebang, morning devotional, poem of the week, math, reading, history, phonics, Bible stories, puzzles, and don’t forget, the whole being in the same room with my children for hours at a time. Today it was just a bit much. I am ready for a nap and some ice cream and no noise of any kind for the next 12 hours. Of course, it doesn’t help that it is also the first day of my period and my back is aching something fierce.
The truth is the last two weeks have been very sleep deprived. Between late night outings, middle of the night Jessica rescues, two trips to Utah with middle of the night returns, many day long cleaning projects, and not being able to sleep well because of sore joints and muscles, I am tired. I need another month of rest before I dive into 15 hour days of teaching, loving, cooking, mentoring, cleaning, driving, and listening. I haven’t really been in full-time homeschooling mama mode for awhile due to my injuries and it is going to take some time for me to build up my homeschooling mama stamina again…like a Couch to 5K program, teehee. We have been easing into it with more reading and math time the past few weeks, adding in a little bit each day, but it still felt like a big jump in what was needed of me today.
Today is Keziah’s first cross-country meet of the year and it is an hour away. I decided around noon I just didn’t have it in me to drive clear out there, sit and watch for several hours, and drive back home. My cramps were too strong and my fatigue was too great. She said she didn’t mind in the slightest so I drove her to the bus, gave her a squeeze, and told her to run her heart out. It hurts my heart, but there is only so much energy I can muster in any 24 hour period and mine is already used up for today.
Tomorrow is another long day. It is the first day of my homeschool gymnastics classes and yes, I know I am crazy for even attempting it, and yes, my nearest and dearest (outside of Richard) have tried, endlessly mind you, to talk me out of it. I love teaching gym. It is part of who I am and I am not willing to say goodbye to that part of me. When I even think about it, the tears start pouring out of me. I figure if we have made it through gym the last 2 1/2 years with a very broken me, we can make it through this year with a much less broken me. I mean, let’s shout hallelujah, I have been brace, splint, walking boot, casting tape FREE since Sunday and I am still holding together and walking well. This is fabulous! It is time to build some muscles. Quite frankly, the thought excites and exhausts me all at the same time. Outside of the injuries, pain, expenses, and sheer frustration of a connective tissue disorder, the never-ending day-to-day burden is the tiredness. My body simply can’t do what it used to be able to do. At the end of each day it really feels like I have run a marathon – my muscles are exhausted from holding my joints in place, my nervous system is exhausted from sending thousands of messages about bones and ligaments and muscles being wonky, and it honestly feels like my brain is worn out by about noon of each day. Add in a few tachycardia events and my body is done.
So, let’s just say this first day of dedicated learning time was good, really good. And hard. And exhausting.
Hmmm, Annes is ready for me to read her some Mother Goose for her Humpty Dumpty’s Corner class at iFAMILY, so I better muster some strength and go snuggle up with her while we recite “Jack Be Nimble” a few more times. We can do this. We can do this. We can do this.
As we move into the swing of things for our fall learning routine, I decided to start doing our Poem of the Week again with my little ones. I love the challenge of memory work and poems are such lovely ways to learn that I want to fill my children’s souls with hundreds of them. Some of them are silly, some of them are tender, some of them are full of character building thoughts. One of my children isn’t too keen on the idea of poetry, so we are going to be doing some animal ones for a bit to reel him back in to this fun tradition.
by Aileen Fisher
on the warm brown egg.
OUT comes a neck.
OUT comes a leg.
who’s not been about,
discover the trick
of how to get out?
Pretty cute, eh? We found it in Eric Carle’s Animals, Animals, one of our favorite animal books.