Keep my dear friend Kym in your thoughts, heart and/or prayers!

kymOne of the angels we met on my Mother’s journey to Nashville was this beautiful, strong lady named Kym. She has been such an angel to my family during a very difficult time. My sister first met her months prior to my Mom’s surgery on a site for survivors of Carcinoid Cancer.

Five weeks prior to my Mom’s surgery, Kym had hers. To show you how strong of a lady she really is, a month prior to her surgery she had a fully hysterectomy. While she was recovering from both surgeries she was constantly sending us love and support during my Mom’s struggle with Cancer. She always showed love and care, even when she probably was in agony.

I look at her as my guardian angel and it breaks my heart to see her in pain. Her little one has been sick and shes been nursing her back to health. Last night she hit her head on a table and started to have severe nausea and vomiting.  This morning she went into the ER. They are giving her a spinal tap to test her for meningitis.

Please keep my dear friend in your thoughts, prayers and heart. Send her the so needed healing energy and comfort. She is a warrior queen. Also please keep her husband and kids in your prayers as well.

Thanks.

Advertisements

416!!!!

Anyone that is overweight can probably attest to the fact that they despise having to stand on a scale. While in the hospital I was faced with this such challenge. It was also the first time that I was weighed in a long time.

416lbs…

I am not sure what it is about that number that bothers me, it certainly isn’t the highest weight I have ever been. It kind of felt like a mark on my forehead that wouldn’t go away. In my head it was like all the staff saw me as 416… I no longer was Derek to them. I was this huge number.

Often times in my life I haven’t always noticed my discontent towards my size. The way I felt about myself was very subliminal. This was the first time I felt like I was wearing that number like they were two huge weights hanging off of me…

It was also a reminder of how far off balance I had let my health get. My weight has consistently stayed in the 400’s for years. Though as long as I can stay away from regular soda I usually can keep my weight around 400 pounds. With grieving over the loss of my Mama it shouldn’t have surprised me that I weighed 416 pounds but it did.

To add insult to injury it was pointed out to me by an x-ray technician that I was too large for that particular MRI machine. It is one thing to not be able to fit into a pair of jeans but a whole different low blow when you are too big for a piece of medical equipment.

I think what scares me about 416 is that a lot closer to 500… It is easy to look at someone my size or bigger and wonder how they could get that big. You don’t realize how easy it is until you are in that situation. One minute you are 400 pounds and the next you are over 500 pounds easily.

Being a comfort eater has been quite my downfall. I wish I could go back to the first time I tried to eat my feelings away. I certainly have tried to eat my feelings of sadness away after my Mom died. If it was my first choice I would drink Pepsi all the time. I also know that if I do I will easily gain fifty pounds. Even though I may not be doing everything I should, I am trying. I still do slip but I usually get back on course. I just know at some point I am going to have to take it a step further.

My life depends on it.

Seeing what my Mom went through with her health really has woken me up with my current situation. I know that if I don’t change my patterns that eventually my weight will kill me. So far I have been very blessed but my blessings won’t last forever especially with diabetes and heart disease in the family.

Plus it is not like my weight is serving a purpose. I am pretty miserable at the size I am. I am not able to enjoy life the way I want to. I can remember being the Uncle that use to be the jungle gym to his niece and nephew. Now I just feel like this old, worn out bump on a log.

That is one of the big issues with those who are my size. Moving around becomes a struggle. Carrying around all this extra weight has done a number on my knees. All these complications make it that much harder when it comes to trying to change your patterns.

Looking at the big picture is often very overwhelming for me. I see everything I need to change from my diet to my exercise habits. I have to remember to again take it step by step. I get so stuck in this all or nothing thinking. We must remember that when we take a step, it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Even a baby step counts. If you take a bunch of baby steps it equals to just as much distance as if you took a big step. Realistically if you are like me, you will probably go even further because you won’t be stuck on the sidelines overwhelmed staring at the big picture.

The big piece of the pie will be the emotional piece of why I am the size I am. I know that if I don’t work on that piece, it won’t matter. That is why it’s important that I continue to talk these feelings out on here and during therapy.

One of the last things I remember my Mama asking me before she died was for me to try to lose weight. She told me how worried she was. I won’t ever forget that conversation. I have to do it for her and me too!

Certainly the holidays aren’t probably the best time to loss weight but it will be my goal the first of next year. While I am not able to tackle this goal head on now there are some things I can do to help, such as limiting my Pepsi intake. Balance is the key and something I have always struggled with.

I also need to remember that I am not my number 416… Meaning that is not who I am, my weight or bad feelings. I can lose the weight and they aren’t a reflection of my beauty.

Direction

So the word that keeps popping into my head today is direction… I am finding the grieving process hits me expectantly. The panic period is no longer constant but when it hits the panic seems like the end of the world. Being in the hospital for those couple of days has set me into a deep panic. I was forced to relive the pain and anguish of my Mama being in the hospital for those thirty-one days.

When I am in that panic state it is hard for me to look past the loss. Logic is thrown right out the window!  I realized tonight possibly why that is… because I have no direction. It feels like I am dangling in outer space, ready to crash and burn on my final descent to earth.

I am feeling massive levels of sadness, sorrow and loss. So much that I have tried hard to grab any quick fix I can find. Sex, food, you name it… Thankfully I have been able to control my need to self medicate. Though I do slip here and there with my Pepsi and sweets.

I feel like I am wondering aimlessly into the unknown and I feel very lost.

My sister said something to me today that is very true… She said that Mama would want us to be happy, that she wouldn’t want us to fall apart. I know this to be true without a doubt but I am still struggling with letting it happen.

How do I move on with this hole in my chest?

My Mama gave me such a gift and I am so unsure how to use it to better the world??? I want to be able to use my experiences to help others, as well as make me happy but I don’t quite know what avenue to take. It feels like I am in limbo.

The key is happiness and I am not quite sure what that looks like. I feel that something is keeping me held down. Am I the only thing left standing in my way of me being happy?

I have ideas of what I would like to do career wise but nothing real concrete. It would be nice to be able to put my experience to work to help make a difference. Combine my experience, heart, spirituality and creativity into a medium that can help others. I am just not sure what? At some point I would like to write a book. I have also thought about motivational speaking. I am just not sure of the logistics of it all.

I guess I am very inpatient. I want everything to happen suddenly.

I really need to remind myself to take it one day at a time… I honestly need to take it a step further and say moment by moment. It is the in between period that can be the most difficult.

I wish she was still here. I would do anything to have her here. It feels very bitter sweet to think about being happy without her physical presence here.

When you lose someone you love, everything changes. It feels like having to relearn everything all over. I am having to rewire my brain to cope without her here. I have to catch myself falling into this trap that she is no longer here. I must remind myself that only her physical vessel is gone. Her spirit still remains. Even in this post I started to write out my thoughts in my old way of thinking and I had to change it to fit the reality that she is still with me.

The only thing we can expect is the unexpected. The way we plan and work things out, are not always the way they happen. Life sometimes has other plans in work.

I just have to let life be and allow things to happen.

Being Thankful During a Tough Time

Prior to Thanksgiving I found it difficult to find anything to be thankful for when faced with going through a special holiday without my Mother’s physical presence. It didn’t seem appropriate to be thankful when I felt such loss in my heart. Though I was faced with a situation that caused me to change that feeling.

Starting Monday night I started to notice the inside of my mouth was numb. I was eating pizza and noticed it tasted weird, almost metallic tasting. Then it dawned on me that my mouth was numb. Obviously I was concerned by didn’t pay much attention to it. By Wednesday morning I started to get a dull headache. I had trouble sleeping but finally was able to fall asleep at 8am. I had plans that night with a good friend and woke up around 4pm. As I was brushing my teeth I noticed that the water was running out of my mouth like I had just had a mouth full of Novocaine.

I probably should have went into the ER right then but I really wanted to see my friend. As I was driving to Ann Arbor I noticed something different about my face. As I looked into the rear view mirror I noticed that the left side of my face was paralyzed. As I smiled only the right side was affected.

My first thought was Bells Palsy, as I had it once before in 2005.

Having it before I just thought I had it again. Though previously it never made my mouth and lips numb. With this information was rather at ease thinking it would be okay if I waited. My friend and I had dinner, which was difficult to do with having numb lips. Afterwards we saw Wreck It Ralph, which was great. From the start of the movie I noticed my left eye get blurry. It became difficult to watch the movie with my eye being the way it was. I also noticed my nose started to run, only on the left side. After the movie ended I went into the restroom and noticed that my eye was all red, and that is when I started to get nervous.

At the encouragement of my friend I decided to go to the local emergency room. As I started to walk into the ER, I started to think about the last time I was at a hospital and it didn’t leave me with a good feeling. They checked me in rather quickly and before I knew it was taken back to the ER room. My friend gave me a hug and said goodbye.

As the nurse left me alone in my room surrounded by a hospital curtain I instantly was transported to the day we rushed my Mom into the ER when she was coughing up blood. I could feel the walls start to close in and the air evaporate as panic started to set in. I quickly texted my friend to see if he could stay. I didn’t want to be alone. Thankfully to my surprise about ten minutes later he came through the curtain and all my panic dissipated. 

Everything reminded me of what my Mom went through… from the beeps, to Brahms Lullaby playing over the loud speaker, to being poked by the staff… It wasn’t easy being there but knew I had no choice but to make sure I was alright.

The Resident was concerned with my symptoms because Bells Palsy doesn’t cause numbness, just palatalization. That is when I started to get nervous, especially when the Doctors started talking about masses, aneurysms and a stroke.

Early on for whatever reason I was moved from my room and into the hallway where I stayed for the rest of the night. Which was both comforting and unsettling at the same time. It was nice to be out of the place that reminded me of that day but then also unsettling because I was out in the middle of everything and had to see some things I would have rather not but I rolled with the punches. There was even an old man who was riding his scooter at 2am and ran off the side of the road, and a man in handcuffs followed by cops in a stretcher.

Due to the symptoms and the concerns over it being something more than Bells Palsy they advised me that they were going to admit me into the hospital in order for them to follow my progress and run more tests. The thought of being in the hospital during Thanksgiving did not give me comfort but I really didn’t have a choice.

It’s funny prior to that day I had thought about just skipping Thanksgiving but I certainly did not have this in mind.

I thought it was better to be safe than sorry. Missing one Thanksgiving was better than missing all of the others.

The next test they ran on me was an MRI… On the form they asked if I was claustrophobic which I answered no… Having never had a MRI I didn’t know what to expect. I certainly wasn’t prepared for what happened next. I was prepared for close, confined space. That I knew was going to happen. The ear plugs they gave me should have clued me into what was to happen next but it didn’t.

I was fine with them putting my head in this weird futuristic helmet like device. I was fine having trouble breathing… I was fine with facing being put into a tight space with no room to move. What I wasn’t fine with was the piercing un-natural alien like sounds that they made me endure. I seriously wondered if I was about to be beamed up into an alien space ship… I was very close to urinating myself. Instantly I felt like bolting. I wanted to run out of that insane place they put me. It felt like they were trying to jack hammer into my brain. I knew that the first test was one minute long. I prayed and bargained with myself to not bolt. I told myself that I could do this, especially after what my own Mama went through.

As unbearable as that was I thought could endure one minute, thought I had to force myself into a calm place. After the sound stopped I asked the technician how long that this test would last. When he said forty minutes I instantly hit the call button, I knew I had to get out of there. One minute I could do but there was no way I could make myself endure that horrible sound for forty minutes. They were crazy if they thought I was going to!!! I could tell they weren’t very happy and made some comment about making sure to tell them next time that I was claustrophobic. I wanted to say that had nothing to do with claustrophobia. No where did it say that they were going to pierce my brain with this horrific sound, not even when I told them it was my first time. Some warning would have been nice…

Thankfully a Nurse from the ER came into the room to give me some happy medicine. You would think that they would have gave some time for the medicine to kick in but that was not the case as they put me right back in… I am not sure how I made it through the next forty minutes but I did. I tried to visualize the horrible sound into healing energy, which is a trick I learned from a dear friend when faced with the constant beeps in the hospital. I also did a lot of praying and talking to my Mama. At one point the music started to sound like a song,  I am sure I just tricked myself in believing this, as nothing about these noises resembled music. I am sure that the medicine had a big role in that. Though there were a few sounds that nothing would change the piercing effect it had on my brain. Each time it would occur I had to muster up every ounce of strength and courage to endure it.

One common thing I kept thinking was that this pain that I was feeling from the MRI was nothing compared to what I felt during the 31 days of my Mother being in the hospital and watching her die. Or the pain I have felt the last two months grieving over my beautiful loving Mother. This piercing sound as horrific as it was didn’t come close to that.

Finally after forty minutes the test was over and I was back to my room. After about a few hours the Neurologist came into my room and advised me that the MRI was normal. She stated that due to my symptoms that she wanted to run further tests to rule out anything else.

Spinal Tap… That is all I have to say… Ouch was the first word that came into my brain. Even though I had never had one I knew that I was about to have another unpleasant experience. When it comes to pain I am a big chicken. Needles and I are not friends. I can remember being a teenager and having to get another measle shot. The Nurse had to almost hold me down, that is how scared I was. As I have gotten older and have endured many more pokes I am no longer as scared. Though every time I have to get a shot or get my blood drawn I always cringe. Blood and I are also not friends. Every time I have to look away, as I get very faint when I see the needle and blood.

Thankfully I didn’t have to endure the Spinal Tap on Thanksgiving. So like a turkey I was saved from being put on a table and poked…

For having to being in the Hospital during Thanksgiving my spirits were pretty good. Intially I had thought there was a chance of getting out in time but the whole Spinal Tap thing did that in.

The room I was in, eerily looked just like my Mom’s room at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville. The constant beeps also constantly made me flashback to that difficult times. So did the crazy woman down the hall but again I just rolled with the punches.

Surprisingly the turkey served for lunch was very moist and delicious. Though the cherry pie they served was very frozen, and not the meant to be frozen variety. I thought to myself, oh well… I also thought how un-thanksgiving like to not have pumpkin pie!!!

I wasn’t going to let a frozen pie bring me down.

Due to the fact that I was up all night, I slept most of thanksgiving. Though the times I was up, I could feel my Mom’s presence very strong. I even was able to talk to her and felt like she could hear me. I know that she was with me comforting my fears. I was not alone.

I had also thought it ironic that my fears of not being alone were also answered. I certainty was not alone. 🙂

My sister was nice enough and saved me a plate from Thanksgiving dinner. I had that to look forward to.

Even before I found out the results and faced with the fears of having the Spinal Tap, I had this sense of thanks wash over me. I was reminded how blessed I was to have a family who loved and cared for me. My sister was horribly worried and I couldn’t help but feel bad for that. As much as I try to protect and shield her, it kills me whenever I can’t protect her.

I also felt very grateful to have such a wonderful Mother to watch over me from Heaven.

I was also very thankful to have a wonderful caring staff that looked after and cared for me. Especially those who had to work on Thanksgiving. I also thought about all those other patients who liked me had to be in the hospital away from their families during Thanksgiving and those who don’t have families…

The one thing that was missing, other than my family, was pumpkin pie. I had joked with the night nurse about ordering a piece of pumpkin pie from the kitchen. He was like I don’t think they have any but I can bring you a piece from the break room and he says, “Would you like whipped cream?” and I am like YES!!! 🙂

He saved the day, that is for sure and I am so thankful for his kindness and the delicious pumpkin pie!!!

I felt some sadness as the night wore on but overall it wasn’t a bad day considering the situation I was in… Having my Mom there certainly made a difference, that is for sure!!!

The next day I woke up and had my spinal tap. Thankfully the Neurologist suggested because of my weight to have the procedure done under xray and I am forever thankful for this as well. Typically the procedure is done by bedside.

I had to lay face down on this long, cold metal table where they put a Styrofoam wedge under my stomach and legs. Every minute that passed my anxiety increased to the maximum. It is very much like waiting at the top of a roller coaster, waiting for the bottom to drop out. You know it is going to happen and you fear for what is about to happen next.

I could hear the Doctor talk to the xray technician about a 5 inch needle and questioning if it was long enough to reach my spinal column. I wanted to shot out, use the larger needle because knowing my track record and my body I knew they would have to use the larger needle.

The Doctor of course went with the smaller needed and of course it was to short by 1 cm… are you kidding me??? So he had to pull that out.

Then he inserted the 7 inch needle and wouldn’t you know that it reacted like a spring (his words, not mine). That was the original reasons for going with the smaller needle, as the longer the needle the more flimsy the needle is… Again his words…

So again he had to pull this needle out… By this point I had the shot to numb my back, which was painful and now I was about to get a forth needle inserted deep into my lower back.

Now they needed to insert a 7 inch needle that had more girth, which made me cringe even more. I held onto the metal table for dear life, as he pierced my skin with a thicker needle which was the most painful yet.  Do you think even the thicker needle would go in easy??? Nope…

Again he was having trouble getting through my skin and reaching my spinal fluid… I started to think here we go again, how much of a bigger needle are they going to need this time??? Thankfully after a little bit of manuring the Doctor was able to get through my skin.

Who know that all this time I was thick skinned! 🙂

I think what gave me the heebie jeebies the most was having to sit on that table at an incline for fifteen minutes (oh yeah, they then type you like you are on a ride at the fair) in order for the fluid to drain out.

They didn’t tell me to hold still but I was so scared to move in the fears of them piercing something they shouldn’t… Again I prayed and thought about my Mama while I went through this painful experience.

After about thirty minutes the procedure was done and I was returned to my room, where I had to lay completely flat for two hours. I was told that this was to help seal the hole in my back and prevent a headache from occurring. All I could think about was having this fluid oozing out of my back, so I didn’t move a muscle.

Wouldn’t you know it that they brought my lunch to me soon after getting back. Talk about taunting a fat person with their lunch sitting for two hours and not being able to eat it… But again I felt oh well, and waited for my two hours and scarfed down the cold food… When you are starving even cold food tastes good! 🙂

I was told that the preliminary reports from the Spinal Tap would take about two hours, while the cultures could take a few days. Initially the Neurologist thought I might be able to go home on Friday, and I was so ready for that…

A few hours later one of the internal medicine Doctors came in and told me that the preliminary reports didn’t show anything. So that was a huge relief but he stated that they were waiting on some other reports. He also advised me that someone from Neurology would be in later that day… 5pm rolled around and no one had yet been in to see me. I was started to think I wasn’t going to get to leave. I asked the Nurse if she had heard anything and she hadn’t. She advised me that they usually like to wait 12-18 hours after the test for the results and didn’t think I would get to leave until Saturday morning.

At this point I was ready to go and started to feel a bit stir crazy. I just wanted to be home with my family. I had also done all the sleeping I could and now was wide awake. Plus I was still anxiously awaiting the final results. Thankfully at about 11pm my friend who was so nice to wait with me in the ER until 4am the night before Thanksgiving, texted me asking if I could get visitors that late. To my surprise I found out that the hospital did not have visiting hours, meaning that you could have visitors whenever you wanted. Having him come visit me was such comfort during a time when I felt so uneasy and uncomfortable.

Granted I looked like Medusa but I didn’t care. He was so kind to bring me a cold Coke as well. It tasted so good!!! He stayed for about an hour and I went to bed feeling happy.

During this whole experience I had this attitude that I would face whatever news in stride, that regardless of the outcome I would overcome it!

This was also the first time I had been away from my family in a while. Two days without my family felt like an eternity. When my Mom died we latched onto each other, and this was the first time I had to let go. It was tough being away from them. I missed them so deeply.

When your Mom gets sick and dies, it really opens your eyes and you realize that nothing is sacred… no one is safe from harm… That is why I knew that during this time, the pendulum could have swung in a different way… Like so many other people.

The next morning came and the internal medicine Doctor advised me that the Spinal Tap results were negative and that the Neurologist concluded that I had Bells Palsy plus a secondary reaction causing other nerves in my brain to be affected. They believe this was all caused by a sinus infection that I had a few weeks prior.

Bell’s palsy is a form of facial paralysis resulting from a dysfunction of the cranial nerve VII (the facial nerve) that results in the inability to control facial muscles on the affected side. Several conditions can cause facial paralysis, e.g., brain tumor,stroke, and Lyme disease. However, if no specific cause can be identified, the condition is known as Bell’s palsy. Named after Scottish anatomist Charles Bell, who first described it, Bell’s palsy is the most common acute mononeuropathy(disease involving only one nerve) and is the most common cause of acute facial nerve paralysis.

Bell’s palsy is defined as an idiopathicunilateral facial nerve paralysis, usually self-limiting. The hallmark of this condition is a rapid onset of partial or complete paralysis that often occurs overnight. In rare cases (<1%), it can occur bilaterallyresulting in total facial paralysis.[1][2]

It is thought that an inflammatory condition leads to swelling of the facial nerve. The nerve travels through the skull in a narrow bone canal beneath the ear. Nerve swelling and compression in the narrow bone canal are thought to lead to nerve inhibition, damage or death. No readily identifiable cause for Bell’s palsy has been found.

Corticosteroids have been found to improve outcomes, when used early, while anti-viral drugs have not.[3] Most people recover spontaneously and achieve near-normal to normal functions.

Often the eye in the affected side cannot be closed. The eye must be protected from drying up, or the cornea may be permanently damaged resulting in impaired vision.

For most people, Bell’s palsy is temporary. Symptoms usually start to improve within a few weeks, with complete recovery in about six months. A small number of people continue to have some Bell’s palsy symptoms for life. Rarely, Bell’s palsy can recur. [3]

For more information about Bell’s Palsy visit:

http://www.bellspalsy.ws/

Within a few hours I was out the door, so relieved to be okay and able to go home to my family.

While having Bell’s Palsy is certainty not fun, I am thankful that is all I have. I know so many people are not as fortunate.

Even if the symptoms last a few months, I will take struggling to eat for two months any day. I will also take the insecurities that come from showing people (especially strangers) my face, especially when I smile. I will take the discomfort and pain from not being able to blink my left eye. Thankfully my sister got me an eye patch to wear. These all things that I can and will endure because in the end I get to spend my days with the people who matter… The people I love. They mean more to me than anything else!

They are who I am thankful for, as well as my health. I am constantly reminded to not take ANYTHING for granted because there are no guarantees in life. All we can do is just enjoy life the best we can and cherish the time we have left on this earth. Our bodies will always fail us, so will time but our love for each other is the only constant and that is something that this world can’t touch!!!

I am also reminded how thankful I am to have such a wonderful and loving Mother. It was the confirmation I needed to realize that my Mom is still with me to protect, care and love me. I am also thankful for the 36 years my higher power gave me and I will always cherish every moment we shared together. I will hold those and my Mama close to my heart forever.

The past week has also been a confirmation of my strength and endurance to overcome difficult and challenging times. I guess sometimes we need to see how strong we really are. It took a Doctor having trouble piercing my skin to make me realize how thick skinned I am… I am strong because of my Mama. I am who I am today because of her. That is another thing to be thankful for.

I am blessed… Eye patch, crooked smile and all… 🙂

Surviving the holidays after the loss of a loved one

So the holidays were always an important and special time for me. What made it extra special was being with my family. For as long as I can remember the holidays have been special to my family.

As I face my first Thanksgiving without my Mama I can’t help but feel very nervous. The last few months have been very painful, so I can only imagine how torturous these special days will be without her physical presence.

I am finding hard to see the things to be thankful for, thought I know I have a lot to be thankful for… Right now all I can see is the loss and pain. I guess that is normal.

My Mom was a great cook. She was known for her chocolate pie and her deviled eggs. My favorite was her custard pie. If you weren’t quick enough during Thanksgiving dinner you might miss out on my Mama’s specialties. I loved being her taste tester when it came to making the deviled eggs.

I think the biggest fear of mine about the holidays is being alone.

Thanksgiving will also be a precursor for Christmas, which will be even more difficult to endure.

I need to shift my brain in realizing that Mama is still around us but that is difficult without her physical presence. I guess it will just take some time.

Things like making cookies, watching the kids open their presents and holiday decorations will not be the same without my Mom’s physical presence.

These feelings of loss are so intense, deep, raw and painful. My first response is to try to stuff them away. I need to tolerate them and let them out.

How does everyone else cope with the holidays when they have lost a loved one?

Part of me wishes I could just skip the holidays, as it is is all too painful. While another part feels it is important to honor my Mama.

Here are some helpful coping skills that might help you during the holidays:

  • Find ways to remember your loved one. Light a candle, say a prayer, hold a memorial, etc.
  • Have a plan A, B, C when it comes to spending the holidays. If plan A doesn’t feel right having other options will relieve stress. Other options could be going to see a movie, volunteering at a soup kitchen or having different options when it comes to spending the holidays with other people.
  • Be gentle with yourself and don’t feel pressured to do something you aren’t ready for.
  • Leave a place at the dinner table for your loved one. Having a physical reminder that your loved one is still with you is a helpful reminder of this.
  • Keep their traditions alive. Cook what they might have or what they loved. On the other hand if those traditions don’t feel right without your loved one, create new traditions.
  • Ask for help, and let others offer their support.
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen, etc. Helping others can be very theraputic.
  • Don’t be afraid to seek professional help as in a therapy, etc.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and how you are feeling.
  • It is okay to tone down the holidays, don’t overload on stress by living up to the full schedule of the holidays. It is perfectly okay to take it easy. Do what feels best and what you can tolerate.
  • Focus on the children of your family. The holidays without your loved one is especially difficult for children.
  • Allow yourself to tolerate the feelings that surface. It is okay to cry. There is also no
  • Set aside some alone time where you can regroup and allow yourself to cope with the feelings that surface.
  • Balance alone time with sociability. Rest and solitude can help renew strength. Friends and family, however, can be a wonderful source of support.
  • Find a creative outlet to cope. Write a poem, collage, paint, etc.
  • Take care of yourself.
  • It is okay to feel joy and happiness during the holidays. Your loved one would want you to enjoy yourself.

I really need to take this list to heart and take my own medicine. I also have to remember to take each day moment by moment.

The Afterlife

In therapy today my Therapist asked me why I thought I was still holding onto this fear of there not being an afterlife. What purpose does it have and why do I hold onto it?

Initially I wasn’t quite sure and I honestly had never thought about it. Well I guess maybe I have indirectly.

As I was driving home from my session I wondered if it was connected to being gay? Is there apart of me that still believes I am going to hell? I guess a future of nothing is better than a future full of flames?

But when it comes to losing your Mother, it only just makes the grieving process that more painful because in both alternatives I will never get to see my mom.

A part of me still believes God is punishing me. I thought that about the sexual abuse. Why would God take my Mom from me after all we have endured? If I was so good, bad things wouldn’t happen to me and because they do it must mean I am not worthy…

My adult brain knows the truth but my child heart is still trapped in fear.

I have desperately wanted to be able to feel my Mom’s presence, as confirmation that she is still with me but often times I push away that idea. I have a dear friend who has been getting these messages but I haven’t been able to connect to them yet. I guess for me to admit they are from my Mom, is to accept that my Mom has died and I am just not ready to say that out loud!

There is also a apart of me that worries if there is an afterlife she won’t be my mother or won’t know who I am.

I have a lot to process and think about, and often times it all is all too much.

I feel like something is keeping me from my spirituality, and I am not sure what? It is very much like this recurrent dream I use to have as a child, where there was this powerful force keeping me from my Mom. I never could see what it was, just that it was there.

Is it that I feel I am unworthy of eternal happiness and love? Why would I believe in that? How could I believe in that? I know I am a good person. Why would God not love me and keep me from my family? Just because my Father and others said it so???

My therapist taught me a great coping skill. Whenever I have a thought come into my head like that or anything negative or hurtful, to say to myself “That may not be true.” It really helps.

I have to remember to use that. I think I need to have a bullhorn that says that.

Just repeat it over and over…

Until it sinks in…

My therapist also reminded me that I have the power and authority to rewrite my story. That I can be anyone I want to be. I don’t have to live the life that others saw me as…

I’ve believed it when they told me I was unworthy, ugly and weak. So I became that person who I am not. I lived their realities of who I am. I let others fill my blank canvas full of their darkness, fear and pain…

I believed their lies and they became my reality.

Well no longer will I accept that. I am tired of these horrible feelings.

So I will do whatever it takes to heal from this and move on.

Leaving my the shadow of who I once was behind…

Frankenmom

Cut into, tumor removed

Virus a hold of her body

Constant beeps, ticks and noises

Tubes here, tubes there, tubes everywhere

There lies the woman I once knew

Peacefully asleep

Bandaged, bruised and bleeding

I await for the day when she awakes

Where is the switch

That will bring my frankenmom back to life

A lighting bolt is all it will take

But all I keep hearing are those beeps going beep beep beep…

Afib, bp, and oxygenation

Have all become common terms

Fevers become the constant norm

Doctors speak, as I nod and stare blankly in return

I hear what they are saying

But can’t comprehend a single word

Constantly riding a roller coaster

Where you just wait for the bottom to fall out

Wandering the hallways, they all look the same

Feeling out of your mind

Floating in midair

When they cut out the cancer,

They cut out my heart

Trapped in a hospital room

Watching in fear

Surrounded by strangers

Who toss my mom around

Like she is a ragdoll

Poking and prodding my frankenmom

Like she is a guinea pig

During which my frankenmom can’t say a word

She can’t yell or scream, or tell them to stop

and neither can I…

Frozen I watch her body wither

Frail and weakened by time

While a machine pumps her full of air

Like she’s a hot air balloon

How I wish we both could just float away

To a place where there were no beeps, sickness or pain

But there we both lie paralyzed

They tell me there is no hope

That she will surely die

All I can see is the woman I love

Not the body that lays battered and torn

Filled full of tubes and IV’s

Covered in bed sores

This can’t be my Mother

A woman once so full vibrant and full of life

Then who is this shell of a woman?

Her hair matted down

No longer the way she loved her hair styled

Her skin pale and puffy

With her fingernails bare

A tube down her throat

Her eyes in a blank stare

I lay at her bedside

Holding her cold hands

Instantly transformed into her little boy again

So scared and looking for comfort

I look in her eyes

and there is my Mother

Finally I am able to look past all the tubes, doctors and machines

If only I was Superman

But alas I don’t have the power to save her

My frankenmom’s body is tired and ready to rest

No amount of lightning will be able to bring her back to life

Paralyzed by sorrow

Deep in shock

They tell me she’s dying

Slowly her heart stops to beat

As her organs give out

While her tubes are removed

And the machines are turned off

Her body lays still

Her lungs don’t make a sound

Silence is in the air

As a downpour of tears falls upon her body

I hold onto the shell of my Mother

With all dear might

I pray this is all just some horrible nightmare

That I will surely awake

But my eyes are wide open

And this is my new reality…

A hole in my heart

Spirit has cracked

Shaken and battered

Falling apart

I still hear the beep, beep, beep

Pick up the pieces

Sew them back together

One stitch at a time

Now I am the frankenson

Awaiting for my bolt of lightning

That will bring me back to life…