Sunday, March 15, 2015

Tough as Nails

Yesterday I went and got this tattoo and I love it.  I thought so long and hard about this tattoo.  Of course I went back and forth on whether or not I should get it.  I am an active LDS member and I know that tattoos are not something that our church encourages or condones but this tattoo is something just for me.  It is a constant reminder that I can do hard things and have done hard things.  I have struggled so much for the last 3 years.  It's actually been much longer than that but Matt's stroke was the hardest thing I have ever been through.  It became the start of a new life for us and also a new me.  Something inside me died that day and I have spent the last 3 years nurturing the new person that I have become.  Nora's accident was also so hard for me.  I still can't look at air med helicopters without having a panic attack.  Those were two defining moments in my life that changed me forever.  I think that what we have been through in the last three years was harder than anything I've ever experienced and I've been through a lot.  I survived a brain tumor and a rare disease at the age of 19 and that was nothing compared to the last three years.  Recently I was diagnosed with Addison's disease.  I have been completely depleted of energy.  I can't find a balance between being mom, wife, working full time as a nail technician and raising my kids.  I was really struggling before the diagnosis and now I just feel helpless.  The other night I was watching one of my favorite TV shows and one of the characters lost her baby.  She said something that really got to me because it was the first time someone had said what I feel out loud.  She said "This isn't fair. It isn't just.  And I have spent my life believing in a God who is just.  He gave me a calling and I followed it...I finally feel like I am becoming the person that he wants me to be...and then this?  To be handed this?!  It's cruel.  And I feel like God is laughing at me.  If this is a test, I fail.  All these years trusting and believing and praying...and if this were just, even a tiny bit, then I could maybe...I can't..."
Now before anyone freaks out and thinks I've lost faith or don't believe in God I have to say this.  I love my Heavenly Father.  I know that he has a plan for me and that he loves me too.  I do believe however that part of the plan of salvation included our ability to mourn and question what we know to be true.  There are days where I feel like I am being punished for something.  That God is sending hard things my way because he is unhappy with me but those are the days that the fibromyalgia, Addison's disease, work, house, kids, everything piles up and crashes down on me.  Those are my pity days.  They don't happen too often but when they do I cry and I struggle and I feel DONE.  Then I have days where I know that I CAN DO HARD THINGS.  There are days when I finish work at 10pm and am dead tired but I feel like I accomplished so much in taking care of my family.
I know that my Heavenly Father hears and answers my prayers.  I know that he loves me and that I am his daughter.  Satan also knows this and works on me everyday.  It is hard.  These are the days that I need to be reminded that I CAN DO HARD THINGS.  These are the days that instead of taking up drinking or giving up I tell myself over and over these 5 words.  I CAN DO HARD THINGS.  So even though there are days where nothing seems fair or just and I feel like I am being handed way too much I know that I can handle anything that God needs me to with his help.  I know that he loves me.  I know....I just have to remind myself sometimes that he made me tough as nails.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Tomorrow I am doing something I HATE doing.  Something so scary and dreadful.  Something that I should have done a long time ago.  I am going to the dentist.  UGH!!!  I will be honest here, I haven't been to the dentist in six months and 7 and 1/2 years.  When I put it like that it doesn't seem so bad does it?  8 years I've let myself go without seeing a dentist.  Of course nothing hurt until tonight and now every little thing has me crazy worried that they are going to have to do hundreds of dollars worth of work on my teeth and it's gonna hurt!  Of course I brushed them like crazy tonight and at a 45 degree angle just like they showed the kids so that the gums get clean.  Then I spent the next 5 minutes looking at them in the mirror and finding all of the spots that could be cavities.  One tooth hurts in particular now and I am convinced that it's going to need a root canal or some other horribly painful procedure because that's just how I roll!
I don't know how I get myself mixed up in these shenanigans.  My niece works at the dental office and so I took my kids in for their regular visits.  YES I take my kids to the dentist every 6 months.  I am not an irresponsible mother, just irresponsible when it comes to taking care of myself.  Well I took Claire and Ivan in and because Ivan was so nervous I promised him I would make an appointment if he settled down and let them look at his teeth.  What a stupid promise! My appointment is on Friday the 13th as well.  Oh Geez...
Well it's a good thing we are getting our tax return because man I think we are in for a lot of money on this mouth.  Truth be told this appointment was made out of vanity.  If you let them clean your teeth and do all of your work there they will give you free teeth whitening for life.  They make the trays that custom fit your teeth and then give you whitening gel 6 months at a time.  I look at and talk to people all day which means that people are looking at and talking to me all day as well.  I want my teeth to be amazing.  I want that "Mentos" smile.
Because I am a nail technician it is important for me to look my best.  I try and dress business casual and a bit trendy so that people can tell I am up to date on the world.  The hair and nail industry follows fashion trends as well and so it is important to wear clothing that reflects the latest trends and shows that although you are sitting behind a nail table and being covered in dust all day that you care about what you look like.  Well I want my teeth to match!
So tomorrow I will take myself to the dentist and I will be brave.  I am going to take my earbuds and listen to my music or a show and just let them do their thing.  I will not let them lecture me though.  I will let them know up front I am happy to have the work that needs to be done but do not lecture me on the amount of time in which I haven't been to the dentist.  I think that is a big part of why I haven't gone yet, I don't want to hear it.  So wish me luck!  Here's to the whitest teeth a girl can have!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Why I Am Insane

They say the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results."  Well then by all means I am INSANE.  Although we all knew this.  I have decided that this whole being a mom thing is just not something that I am good at.  I know it's a little late after 5 kids but I give up.  I sit at a nail table in my living room all day and work and work so that we will have the money to support these children and they don't care.  They just don't care.  I put them in the best schools so that they have the opportunity to have more than I do and they don't care.  I buy them nice things and they destroy them because they just don't care.  Somewhere along the way they learned not to care and I didn't think that I was the kind of mother to teach them that.
I am to the point where I give up.  They do what they want when they want, they talk to me with total disrespect and they know that because I'm behind the nail table with a client that there is nothing I can do.  I am so tired of friends and their "if I had talked to my parents that way..." comments.  What am I supposed to do?  It has become nearly impossible to discipline our children anymore.  If we spank we get turned in for child abuse and I'm sorry but grounding them or taking things away does nothing.  I was better at this at one point.  I had it down when there was only three of them.  I knew what to do and how to get things done when I wasn't a working mom but now that I have to work they seem to have lost all respect for me.  It's like they don't care about me or my existence.  I am ready to walk out for a while and see if it would make a bit of difference to them.
I would be lying if I said that I don't care about them anymore.  It breaks my heart everyday.  I spend so much of my time worrying and crying because they don't seem to care.  It hurts so much.  I don't know what to do to fix this.  I just seem to be "doing the same thing over and over expecting different results."  And that is why I am INSANE.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Living Through Trauma

      Today was a hard day for a very dear friend and her family as well as my family and I.  A very close friend of ours had a hysterectomy and did not recover from the anesthesia.  We just got home from the hospital.  She was moved from our local hospital to one in the big city near by so that she could receive proper care.  In the beginning they thought that she had suffered a stroke but after a CT scan and an evaluation from a neurologist they are saying that it is more likely that she has had an allergic reaction to a medication and cannot come out of it yet.  She will open her eyes and try to look around but they roll back in her head and she has not spoken at all since the surgery.  She has spasticity in her arms and legs and her blood pressure keeps dropping.  We are asking everyone we know and even those we don't to pray for her.  She is so important to so many people and she needs to come out of this.
It was hard to watch this family grieving the way that they were because it took me straight back to Matt's stroke.  I watched her husband and daughter go through the same stages of grief and shock that I did and unfortunately there was nothing I could do to help them.  When something traumatic happens the mind protects itself by completing each stage of grief and then repeating them in no particular order.  There is nothing anyone can do or say that will make it stop or make it better.  You have to feel what you need to feel and then move to the next stage.  There are those that try and comfort by telling you to have faith and to rely on God but at first those words don't necessarily comfort.  You know that God is watching.  You may ask why and if you really pay attention in small moments of clarity you will get your answers.  You will see why things happen the way they do but each individual needs to discover those answers for themselves.  You know that faith is needed and that prayer is necessary and being reminded over and over in the moment does not necessarily help.  
After the initial trauma is over and you have had a chance to assess the situation and wrap your mind around what to do next and how to put the pieces of your heart back together one by one you can begin to listen to others tell you to have faith and to pray and know that God will take care of you.  This is needed but in my experience it was needed after the initial trauma.  I knew that God was in charge and hearing it while I was going through the stages of grief only made me angry.  I knew that God would take my husband if he needed to and that either way he would be okay but in the initial moments of trauma I didn't want to hear that!  I wanted my husband to live!  The next day when I had been able to sleep a little then I could begin to accept that God was in charge and acknowledge that his hand was guiding us.
I think that many people mistake faith for avoidance.  There is a big difference between having faith and avoiding what you are feeling.  If you are feeling mad you need to FEEL it!  If you are feeling heartbroken you need to FEEL it!  Faith will give you answers and help you move past the anger and the heartbreak but if you refuse to feel what you need to feel then you are missing a huge piece of the puzzle.  Our Heavenly Father gave us the ability to feel these emotions because he knew that we must feel extreme sadness in order to feel extreme joy.  Often times these feelings can lead to deep introspective that in turn can change your life.  For me, the reality that I might lose my husband and the extreme desperation and heartache that came with that helped me to look inside myself and find a renewed testimony of the Plan of Salvation and eternal families.  I found such comfort in the knowledge that we were sealed together as husband and wife for all eternity.  I knew that if he left this earthly life early that he wasn't going anywhere I couldn't follow.  It would feel like an eternity until I joined him but I would indeed join him.
I look back through the massive traumas that we have encountered and I am actually thankful.  Sure it would have been nice not to have to learn the lessons that I learned through those particular incidents.  It would have been nice to have had my testimony of eternal marriage strengthened without watching my husband dying and it would have been nice not to learn to never take your children for granted without having one hit by a car but this is how the Lord teaches us.  This life was meant to be a hands on lesson in so many things.  If you are not living it hands on then you are missing out on so many things.  If you are not living it hands on then you aren't truly living at all.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Happy Third Survival Anniversary!!!!

Three years ago today our lives changed forever.  Three years ago today my husband left to go to work and had a mini stroke in the driveway.  I took him to the local hospital to make sure that his shunt was still working and right in front of my eyes he had a massive stroke.  The artery on the right side of his brain burst and I watched him flatline in front of me.  I watched them start his heart and load him onto life flight and there they went with the glue that holds my life together.  I couldn't let this day pass without writing about it here on this blog.  I couldn't let this day pass without thanking my Heavenly Father and those doctors and nurses who took care of us during his month long stay at the University of Utah hospital.  It became our home away from home.  I barely saw my children during the entire month but I was where I was needed most.
These last 3 years have been the hardest we have ever had to endure during our thirteen year journey together.  We lost everything.  We were our own little ground zero.  A mess of trauma and tears, separation and fear.  Fear that we would lose our Daddy and my amazing husband.  These last three years have tested us in ways that we never could have imagined.  We have started rebuilding and although it has been a slow process we are starting to see our lives rise from the wreckage of that damned stroke.  My husband is a fighter.  I am so proud of what he has overcome in the last 3 years.  Somewhere whether he knows it or not during those first few hours of that stroke he made the decision to stay with us and fight.  I saw him fight everyday in that hospital.  Some days were good and some days were horrible but we were together and he stayed with me.
I didn't even realize that today was his survival anniversary until half way through the morning.  I am shocked that it didn't dawn on me a few days ago that it was close.  This means that I am healing.  This stroke has lost so much of it's power over us and I am so thankful.  I know the Lord has so much in store for us.  I can feel the changes coming.  I don't know what they will be or when they will happen but we are going to be on our feet again.  We can do hard things!!!

Matt's first day home from outpatient therapy

The staples where they took out the old shunt that failed during the stroke

our little family visiting together in the stroke rehab unit

our first family dinner after the stroke in the hospital cafeteria 

just after surgery number 3 following the stroke, he was doing rather well

cuddling with kids in stroke rehab.  we visited daddy everyday

more staples.  we couldn't even count at this point

day 2 after stroke, he was hanging in there but not breathing well

in stroke rehab and happy to be there

I think I will hate the sight of these for the rest of my life

Hanging out in daddy's room

the day before he got to come home the rehab team took us to the museum to test matts walking abilities

the morning after matt got out of surgery.  Breathing tube is out but he's not looking too hot

more staples

first dinner as a family.  Ivan missed his daddy

just wishing he would wake up
notice the facial swelling on the left, that's where they removed his skull

For those of you that have not heard or experienced the last three years with us, here is the blog post I wrote the day after Matt's stroke:

Today was probably one of the hardest days of my life and I know it was the hardest day of Matt's life. I will say however that reflecting on the events of today it is easy to see how the Lord guided us through every step and every decision we made and left my husband here on earth with me. We are not out of the woods, he has not woken up completely but there is neurological function where before the was none. It has been a long hard day but I will start at the beginning and try to tell you everything that happened.
Matt woke up to go to work this morning and was having a hard time. He was pretty grumpy which is rare for him. He woke me up to say goodbye and I asked him to stay home. We have not had a lot of time together lately and I missed him. Being the faithful employee that he is, he said he could not stay home and headed out the door to work. Being the lazy bed head that I am, I was not out of bed yet. About 10 seconds after Matt left his father Paul had a prompting from the holy ghost to look out the window and when he did he found Matt lying on the ground. He ran out and Matt was just coming around, he had lost consciousness. Paul helped him inside and the kids alerted me that he had fallen. I rushed downstairs and he was on the couch with an ice pack on his forehead where he had hit.
We decided that we better have the shunt evaluated so we got kids off to school and the neighbors and headed for Tooele hospital. On the way he became very nauseated and began vomiting. When we got there he could not walk into the hospital so I grabbed a wheel chair and rushed him inside. I checked him in and we headed to a room in the ER. When we tried to help him out of the chair and into the bed I noticed he could not open his left eye. Honestly I thought he was faking at first just to freak me out, he loves to do that. He tried to talk to the nurse and I but his speech was very slurred and the left side of his face was drooping. It was then that he lost control of his bladder and we knew something was seriously wrong. He was having a stroke right in front of me. They wheeled him to the trauma room and things went from bad to worse. He could no longer breath on his own and so they began cutting off his clothes and intubating him. I was watching from the corner in the room. He was foaming from his mouth and began posturing (worse than a seizure, nurse said you don't usually come back from that) on his right side. They then took him to CT where they found a very large 3 inch hematoma. From there they got him ready and loaded into the air-med helicopter.
My inlaws had come to the hospital and drove me up to the U of U. When I got here he was already in surgery. The trauma surgeon came out to talk to me. He said that there was no neuro function but they did not know if that was from the medication or if he would regain neuro function. We were taken to the surgery waiting room where we stayed for five and a half hours while they worked on him. At one point they came out to tell us they were trying to decide whether to keep the part of the skull they had removed or use a plate. After it was all over the surgeon came to speak with us. He said that Matt's trauma was very severe. He said that when he came in he was on step above brain dead. He explained that they were able to save the bone and that it was an artery that had burst. Matt was a very lucky man according to the surgeon but I prefer blessed :)
From there it was another 3 hours until I could see him. When I did see him he was still intubated and could not open his eyes but he squeezed my hand with his good hand. He was restrained so as not to pull out the breathing tube. They were also using a tube to empty his stomach and he did not like that at all. He didn't know where he was and I can imagine that was very frustrating to him. The night went well and at 6 am his stats were well enough to remove the ventilator. When they took it out they asked him if he knew who I was and he said " that's my wife, I want her...I always want her." I have never been more happy to hear his voice. My heart took a picture.