In This Time of Darkness, Send In the Snow

I am a snowflake, I stand tall and proud. I’ve fallen to the ground, from an ominous cloud. I’m cold on arrival, but I melt when I hear. The drums of injustice, pounding very near.

The world seems so much darker since Donald Trump was sworn in on January 20, 2017. His first 80 days in office have been a disaster, and have incited many people to protest often. He continues to harm and insult countless individuals and communities, just like he did on the campaign trail. Some were anticipating that he’d magically change once he took the oath of office, but I never had that hope. I saw what he was, because I listened to who he told us he was. Many didn’t listen close enough or believe it. They just chose a few things they liked about him, and dismissed all the rest. Some of these people are regretting their decision to vote for him, but not many of his core supporters who seem to stick by him no matter the cost. Even through the threat of nuclear war.

That makes me very sad. Sad that people support such a hateful man, who surrounds himself with cruel, divisive people. Sad that he was elected even though Hillary Clinton had almost three million more votes. Sad that the world’s opinion of the United States has now changed. Sad that I cannot let my own children listen to their President speak. I will not let them hear his hateful rhetoric. I will play back old speeches of Barack Obama so that they can hear the words of a wonderful, eloquent man. An intelligent, devoted family man whom I, and many citizens, loved and will always love. He will always be my President.

I will teach them about compassion, and the difference between legislation that is created to hurt us, and legislation that is created to help us. I will show them how people’s actions speak louder than their words. I will show them all the progress that was made during Obama’s Presidency. I will show them how the Trump Administration is desperately trying to erase all of that progress, and target certain people/communities with a big smile on their face.

I will teach them the value of voting in every single election.

I will show them what love is, and that helping people is an essential part of being human. I will teach them not to judge people by the color of their skin, or by what religion they follow, or by the amount of money they have. I will teach them that we are all equal and should be treated that way.

I will teach them that snowflakes are beautiful, and to be called one is not an insult but a compliment. It means that you care about the world and all of those in it, not just yourself or people like you. It means that you will speak up when necessary, and won’t let your kindhearted ideals get trampled to the ground.

When I heard about the Muslim Ban and saw all the chaos and inhumanity at the airports months ago, I cried. I cried for all those affected, for their families, for our country, and for my children.

I was so happy that they were born while Obama was President. The world seemed so much better, safer and happier. I know that some terrible things still happened, but having Obama at the helm was very comforting. He strived for peace, equality and the greater good. He was a kind and decent man, and when he spoke I got chills down my spine. I knew that I was witnessing greatness. I feel sorry for those that didn’t.

I do believe some people are coming to that conclusion now, and are realizing that harmless emails were actually a diversion from a sinister plot to make America fascist not great. Many people made a mistake by not voting, or by voting for the wrong candidate. Now our country is in great peril. Now a traitorous egomaniac is at the helm.

I believe Michelle Obama said it best when she spoke to Oprah “we are feeling what not having hope feels like.”

I know exactly what she meant, and that is the feeling I have had since the election. I am left with a giant hole in my heart now, and a feeling of dread that I have never felt before. I am scared for my country. I do not support Trump as President and I never will. That is a hard thing to admit and have to deal with, for I consider myself a very patriotic person. I love this country. But, I love it so much that I will not support those who try to destroy it. Things are not normal right now. I have always watched every Inauguration, and wished every President well. Not this time. This administration is like no other. The hate, intolerance, discrimination, and fear it perpetuates is unacceptable.

That is why I am a snowflake.

I was born with a lot of compassion, even though I was not treated well for many years. I was always able to try to put myself in others shoes. I cried easily at the sight of pain or injustice. I always wanted to help, though I wasn’t always able to.

Some are not born with a lot of compassion, but it can be taught, it can be practiced, it can be developed. It can be learned by watching others who exhibit it. It will not be shown during this administration, that is why I hope it doesn’t last long. I hope it doesn’t have to time to destroy people’s lives, jobs, families, healthcare, and the environment.

I don’t want to watch the country I love burn. I want the beauty that Obama and those before him created to remain.

I was very sad on January 20th. I am still very sad about what is going on, and about how Trump is trying to move our country quickly toward fascism. But on January 21st, during The Women’s March on Washington, I found hope again. Hope came in the form of millions of snowflakes wearing pink hats. I could not get enough of the coverage, the speeches, the signs, the women and men who marched for a better, more fair and diverse world. A world I believe in. A world I want to live in.

Though I live close to Washington D.C. I could not march due to my health, but I felt like I was right there with them. I found the light I was looking for, I found my fellow snowflakes.

Many conservatives use the term snowflake in a derogatory manner. I don’t care though, I am proud to be one. I am proud that I, and so many others, care about our fellow citizens, and about our world. I am proud that we want to help others, and to make the world a better place for our children, and for everyone. We will march, protest, call our representatives until the cows come home, because we know that many things in life are worth fighting for, and our country is one of them.

I am so proud that so many people in our country, and around the world, are standing up to the injustice that surrounds us. It gives me hope, it helps me sleep at night. I am able to look in the mirror knowing that I did my best to try to be a good person, and to make a difference, no matter how small.

I don’t know how our new President, or many of his followers look in the mirror at night. I don’t know how they post about how glad they are that the refugee children that have been turned away have nowhere safe to go now, then kiss their own children good night. I don’t know how they say “build the wall,” with such glee, and turn their heads while other’s are bullied and beaten because of such hateful rhetoric. I don’t know how they cried while Angels were shot down in Newtown, but cheer when Trump talks about removing gun-free zones at schools, and while he gave a Sandy Hook denier a seat in the White House Press Room. They looked away while the people of Flint had no drinking water, and voted for someone who will allow all of our water to be polluted. They believe all of the alternative facts and have no idea what the truth is anymore. What examples are they setting for their children?

I will follow the marchers, the scientists, the environmentalists, the civil rights activists, those who fight injustice, and those who dream of a brighter future for all of us. Those who realize that the swamp has not been drained, it has been filled with unscrupulous billionaires who are okay with following a tyrant who is beholden to Russian interests. Money is their God, and their savior Jesus, is just a poor immigrant.

I am glad that the world is watching. I am glad that those who were banned from our country know that the majority of Americans do not agree. I am glad that most of us do not agree with the deportations of Dreamers and non-violent immigrants. I am glad that they see that most of us care. That we will keep protesting and fighting for them, and for what is right. Fighting for the heart and soul of the nation we love.

They say a storm is coming. It is a storm of millions of voices starting to rise. Winter is here. A winter that could last many years.

We are the winter. We are the snowflakes. We will fight injustice. We will spread love. We are indivisible. We are stronger together.

We will try to replace all of the pain that will be created, and all of the woe that we feel, with a beautiful bright layer of fresh fallen snow.

And as we march, we will leave millions of footprints in the snow that will never melt.

snowflakepoem

Advertisements

I Am Not A Great Mom Right Now

As I sit here writing this, my two children are asleep next to me on our giant couch. They barely ever make it to their own beds in their messy rooms, in our messy little house. We are currently living a messy life, and I am not a great mom right now.

It has taken me awhile to admit this. I dreamed of being a perfect mom, with the sweetness of Caroline Ingalls, the brilliance of Claire Huxtable, and the cooking skills of Martha Stewart. But truth be told, I’m becoming more and more like a chronically ill Roseanne.

I always thought I’d be an awesome mom, and I was doing okay during the first few years of my daughter’s life until I was struck hard by illness and other circumstances. I had to suffer through a bad car accident and bruised ribs, five miscarriages, gall bladder surgery, Interstitial Cystitis, Endometriosis, severe PMDD, Fibromyalgia, frequent pneumonia due to asthma, Chronic Lyme Disease, multiple bilateral life-threatening blood clots on my lungs, panic attacks and anxiety.

I am so fortunate to have survived all of these things, but I can feel the dream of being an amazing mom slowly fading away. The stress of being in pain and chronically ill has taken its toll.

Like tiny grains of sand sliding down an hourglass, I am very aware of time slipping away. I realize that I can’t reverse the hourglass, I can only catch some grains of sand before it’s too late.

I can’t bring back the things my children have missed out on, I can only provide them with some new things to look forward to.

I may not be able to show them how to keep a perfect house, but I can show them how to be good people.

I may not be able to show them how to run a marathon, but I can show them how to leave beautiful footprints in the sand.

My family is everything to me. Though I am disappointed that I am not able to be a great mom right now, I will never stop trying to be one.

I will be the best mom that I can be at this moment, and share the best parts of me when I am able to.

When I glide around the ice skating rink with my daughter, I hope she remembers the glow in my eyes as I looked at her. My heart melts when she is near.

When I go bowling with my son, I hope he remembers how proud of him I was after he knocked down a few pins. How proud I will always be.

I hope they remember all of the good times we shared, and all of the magical memories we created like when we visited Disney World. Our trip there was the greatest trip of my life, and I will cherish it forever.

I hope they learn a valuable lesson from me about how when life drags you down, you must keep going and be the best that you can be.

I realize now that there is no such thing as a perfect mom. We all experience the ebb and flow of life and of parenthood. We must accept the fact that there are times that we will not be terrific moms. We must learn to accept life’s quirks, perks and failures. They will help shape who we are. They will make us stronger.

I remember holding both of my children for the first time. Those brief moments were the most powerful of my life. It is when I learned what true love was, it is when I became a mom. It is when I made a promise to my sweet little babes that I would love, protect and care for them for as long as I was alive.

I may not be a great mom right now, but I hope that when my children look back on their childhood, they will see that I kept my promise, and that I loved them with all of my heart.

And hopefully they will remember that love for the rest of their lives.

 

 

 

 

 

I Will No Longer Be Silent

Last week I read a story about a local Virginia waitress who was given a receipt back from a customer that said “we don’t tip black people.” I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I couldn’t believe how close I lived to this restaurant, to this horrible racist act. I felt really sad when I read it. Sad for the waitress, and sad for our country.

Sometimes it is hard to believe that it is the year 2017. I knew that Trump’s rhetoric was unacceptable the moment he declared his run for the Presidency. I knew right then that I would never vote for him, nor anyone like him. I did however, expect him to tone it down at some point and at least act like had some humanity. But, as we all know now, he did not. He just keeps getting worse, and he has empowered and given voice to the followers of his that are racist and/or sexist.

I never expected him to win, though technically he didn’t. I had more faith in my country. I never expected so many people to vote for him. I never expected Russia to interfere in the elections, making them void in my opinion. But this is the reality we face now. The question is what do we do about it?

I am a chronically ill person and a mom. I don’t have a big following on social media, and I don’t really care. What I do care about is having a voice and sharing it. I also care about making a difference no matter how small, and helping others when I can.

I grew up in a suburb of New York City. I was shy, neglected, and allowed people to walk all over me. That continued for many years until I finally found my truth. I finally found my voice. I realized that telling the truth does indeed set you free. I found that having a voice and sharing it is very cathartic. It is also necessary, especially now.

There were not many African American children in the area I grew up in. I went to a high school that wasn’t very diverse. It was mostly Irish and Italian Americans. I remember one incident where some of the boys were bullying one of the only African American students for no apparent reason. They were being very cruel and calling him offensive names. I just sat there and watched and didn’t say anything. I was shy and too nervous to speak up, or to stick up for him when it mattered most. After a few teachers came and broke up the altercation, I went over to one of them and gave my account of the situation. I told them that the boy did nothing wrong and was treated very badly. To this day I feel guilty about it. He had no one to stick up for him. I just sat there silent.

Another incident happened when I was looking for an apartment of my own. The landlord said to me “you can’t bring any black people here, the neighbors won’t approve.” I was so broke and desperate for an apartment that I just nodded and said that I was interested in the apartment. Blind acceptance once again.

There are probably more of these incidents from my youth, but these are the two that stick with me. I didn’t have my voice yet or any confidence. I didn’t do the right thing. I didn’t recognize my own white privilege.

Something changed in me after the shooting at Newtown. I completely broke down and had trouble getting over it. I began to heal by recognizing other people’s humanity despite all of the darkness. I struggled to find my own. Where had it been hiding? What had I actually done to help others? I took time to look within myself and I didn’t like what I saw. Though I was a wife and mother, and had a wonderful family, I wasn’t doing enough. I wasn’t using my voice. I hadn’t found it yet. I started writing a lot and it finally became clear who I was and what I wanted to do.

I didn’t want to sit in the shadows anymore. I wanted to continue to find my voice and use it to do some good in this world. My writing is one of the biggest ways I intend to do this. But, as a neighbor, citizen and friend I can do so much more. I no longer intend to be silent.

Silence can shut many doors. It can overcome you and blanket you with guilt. It can cause you to lose yourself and ignore your own truth. It can hurt others, it can cause much pain.

It can allow a harmful, intolerant person to gain much power. It can end relationships, it can end lives, it can ruin democracies.

I am tired of seeing and reading about other people being bullied or harassed just because of the color of their skin, or because of their religious or sexual identities. I am tired of the the rhetoric of our 45th President.

I am just one person. But one person can make a difference. Whether it’s in their own households by raising kind children, or in their communities by not staying silent while others are harassed or persecuted for no reason.

I promise to use my voice for good and to no longer remain silent. I will speak up when I hear others disparaging certain groups of people, or I will walk away when I have to. But I will not participate by remaining silent or nodding my head when I don’t actually agree.

I’ve done that for far too long and I am sorry.

Please join me and we will help to make our country more compassionate and tolerant. One voice at a time. One word at a time. One kind act at a time.

I will no longer be silent…

The Phone Call

On September 25, 2016 I was diagnosed with Multiple Bilateral Pulmonary Emboli. It was one of the scariest days of my life. I have been suffering from many chronic illnesses for twenty years now, but I was never given a life-threatening diagnosis before. I have faced many rough days, and have spent many nights awake with fear, but this hit me the hardest. I didn’t know how I was going to deal with this information.

I usually work through difficult situations by writing blogs and poetry. This was new territory for me though. I never had to write about a life-threatening situation that I was in the middle of. This was not fiction, or a distant memory, this was happening now, and writing about it would make it all too real. I had to try to distance myself from it in order to survive. I had to try to forget that there are currently blood clots all over my lungs which could kill me in an instant. Which could take me away from my family, this beautiful Earth, and all that I love. This time was different. I tried to distract myself, I tried to keep busy, I tried to rest, I fought to get through the day.

I am sorry to all of you who are currently facing life-threatening diseases or illnesses. I now know how you feel in my own way in regards to what I am facing. I can’t know exactly how you feel or what you are going through, but I wish you hope, strength and lots of love.

I was told that I would have to take blood thinners for up to six months. I am extremely sensitive to medications and was not able to tolerate the pill forms of Eliquis or Coumadin. I was able to tolerate Lovenox in the hospital so my hematologist agreed to let me take it though it wasn’t the normal protocol.

My husband who is a registered nurse injected me twice daily with this life saving medication. It prevents the existing clots from getting bigger, and it prevents new clots from being formed. The shots in the stomach are painful, and have left my entire abdomen bruised and tender. I bruise and bleed very easily now and have to avoid doing anything that could result in bad injury, especially to the head. Some people do fine on the blood thinners, but since I’m so sensitive it has been very difficult for me to stay on them. I have asthma, Chronic Lyme Disease and anxiety and this medication has made all of these conditions worse. I feel strange, dizzy, nauseous and not like myself. My life has been put on hold these past four and a half months and I haven’t been able to enjoy much. I’ve barely gone anywhere besides to take my children to school.

I have not been able to write much due to my anxiety, and the fact that I feel like I can’t put into words what I’m going through until it’s over. I’m so paralyzed with fear, that I can’t think clearly. I have many trapped words in my head waiting to be out of their prison. I look forward to the day when they flow freely, dancing around the page, unencumbered, raw and beautiful.

Though I’m so grateful and lucky to be alive, I can’t wait to truly live again.

And that brings me to the phone call.

Yesterday, I had a CT  Lung Angiogram with contrast. This test will allow the radiologist to see if all of my blood clots are gone. This test will let me know whether or not I can have my life back. This test will let me know if I can breathe again, with less anxiety, and more joy. With more happiness and fun times for my family, a family I have woefully neglected for a very long time. I’ve been sad, scared and angry for too long. I pray I get the chance to make it up to them.

My hematologist is supposed to be calling me today with the results. I jump each time the phone rings. My heart starts beating very rapidly like the Tell Tale Heart. Will I be free, or left with its maddening heartbeat?

And so I wait, and in between taking and picking up my children from school, I will hope, I will pray, I will try to believe that I deserve some good news.

Let’s hope it comes soon.

My Birthday Wish

Tomorrow is my forty seventh birthday. I can hardly believe it, I still feel like I’m in my thirties mentally, but not so much physically.

I have been struggling for years with many chronic illnesses, but my recent health scare has changed me forever.

I was diagnosed with multiple bilateral pulmonary emboli at the end of September 2016.

I am still going to the hematologist often and taking blood thinners daily. I am still trying to come to grips with what happened. I am still praying that I will fully recover, and get through the overwhelming anxiety this has caused.

I am still dealing with the what ifs.

What if I did not pay attention to my symptoms and go to the emergency room?

What if I did not get there in time?

What if the emboli was too large for the blood thinners to work quickly and save my life?

What if the doctors didn’t figure out what was wrong?

What if my children and husband had to live without me?

This birthday is different.

After going through a life-threatening event everything looks and feels disparate.

The sky seems bluer, the trees seem more colorful, and my children’s faces couldn’t be more beautiful.

Yes, this birthday is different because it almost didn’t come.

I could have died instantly in September, but now I live on. For myself, for my family and for my friends.

And, as I sit here typing this blog, I am thinking about what is really important. It has never been more clear.

Spending time with the people you love, and helping others.

When we reach our final hour we will not be thinking of the fortunes we amassed, we will be thinking of the loved ones we have gained. We will be thinking of the many people we have assisted along the way. We will be wondering if we made a difference.

So treasure the ones you love before it’s too late.

Help those in need while you still can.

Make a difference right here and now.

You can do it. It doesn’t have to be some amazing viral phenomenon. All it takes is a smile, a helping hand, and a loving heart.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Show kindness to someone in need. Help lift someone’s spirits. Buy someone a meal or a cup of coffee. Donate to a worthwhile organization dedicated to serving others. Donate your time. Aid someone crossing the street, or shovel their sidewalk. Make that phone call. Look for a new job. Look for happiness. Treat everyone with respect.

It is all within your grasp. You just have to plan, work hard, dream and take action. And as you do these things, you will be happier and feel more fulfilled.

It doesn’t take much effort to make someone’s day. It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to treat the ones you love well.

My birthday wish is that we will all devote more time to doing these things. To making those we love happy, and to helping those in need.

If we all do this, the world will be a much better place. Love will prevail.

And each time I blow out my birthday candles, I will remember this wish, and I will hope it comes true.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Anniversary To My Husband/My Nurse/My Everything

Dear Husband,

We have been through a lot in the past twelve years, but these past seven weeks have been the hardest. I am lucky to still be here. I am lucky to be alive.

If I did not go to the emergency room on September 25th, I would probably not be here right now to spend our 12th anniversary with you. I could barely walk that day. I could barely breathe. Thankfully, I followed my instincts and had you drive me to the emergency room where they took a few days to diagnose me with multiple bilateral pulmonary embolisms. This diagnosis, and the treatment, will save my life.

It all seems like a blur now. I was so scared. Scared of what they would find. Scared of not being here for you and for our young children. Scared of leaving my precious family who need me so much. Scared of leaving this world, which contains all that I hold dear.

It has been a tough three years battling Lyme Disease, Fibromylagia, Interstitial Cystitis, Anxiety, and PMDD. You stood by me through it all. You took care of me and the children, even though you were tired and fearful. You tried to remain hopeful that I would be healthy one day, but I worried that this latest incident would put you over the edge.

If all goes well it will take me another five months to recover fully from my pulmonary emboli, and then I will be off of the blood thinners. Blood thinners which you inject twice daily into my tender, bruised abdomen. I am so lucky that you are a registered nurse with the skills to care for me. But that is not what makes you so special, it is the man that you are.

The man who has the strength to always take care of me, the giant heart to love someone like me, the arms to hold me when it feels like the world keeps crashing in on me, the hands to wipe my tears, the humor to make me laugh.

You buy me food, you wash the dishes, you watch Downton Abbey with me, you take great care of our kids. Even though you work full time and are going to school, you always come through.

THAT IS TRUE LOVE. It always shows up, it always comes through.

I have sometimes seen your anger and despair over my health. But you hold onto hope. Though it may sometime seem like you have had enough, you pull hope right back into your grasp. You see, you never could let it go. That would mean giving up on me. That would mean giving up on us.

I am sorry that I haven’t been able to be the wife of your dreams. That dream has since passed, but I am still the woman you love. I may not be as active or funny as when you first met me, but I promise you I will keep fighting to get back as much of myself as I can.

I will keep walking miles for you. I will keep taking my medicine and getting my injections. I will keep doing whatever it takes.

Because I love you and always will.

You are my Sam. In Lord of the Rings, he says that there are some things in life worth fighting for. You are one of those things.

I promise to keep fighting. I promise to try harder to show my appreciation, even on days when I can barely function. I promise to stay alive for as long as I can so that you can see me as I once was. So we can enjoy the wonderful life we’ve been given. So we can share many more happy memories.

I hope we get to fulfill your dream of going to Scotland one day. You have given me two beautiful children and all of my dreams. You deserve to have one of yours.

Thank you for always being there for me. I could not have picked a better husband. I could not have chosen a better friend.

Happy Anniversary my dear sweet husband.

You are my heart, you are my love, you are my dream come true.

 

 

 

 

The Incredible Fall: My story of Pulmonary Embolism.

I love the Fall.

It is my favorite season, one I look forward to all year long. I couldn’t wait for it this year especially. I would be fully recovered from my surgery, and ready to make wonderful memories with my family. Apple picking, pumpkin picking, Fall Festivals, long walks, birthdays and Halloween fun.

I had a rough summer, facing the turmoil of severe PMDD, and a major surgery. I couldn’t wait to be healed and get a long awaited break.

And then it happened.

I was walking my daughter to her school which is very close to our house, when I could barely breathe, and the left side of my chest hurt. My chest felt a heaviness I’ve never felt before, and my heart was beating rapidly. I felt lightheaded and scared but hid it from my daughter while I whispered goodbye.

Little did I know at the time that it could have been my last goodbye to her. My sweet precious girl.

One third of people who have not been diagnosed or treated for pulmonary embolism will die. Wow. That statistic just hit me like a ton of bricks. I have to take a moment to recover.

I walked home with my five year old son very slowly. A walk which usually takes five minutes took about twenty. I called my husband and said something was wrong and that I needed to go to the emergency room right after he dropped off our son at school. My son who is now six years old. My son who still needs me to teach him so many new things such as how to live a full, safe life with severe food allergies. My precious boy who still calls me Mama, and falls asleep by my side each night before bed.

Though I was very nervous and having trouble breathing, I really thought I had pneumonia and pleurisy again. As someone with asthma and many chronic illnesses, I get sick very easily.

I was given a bed and an IV very quickly. Soon after they gave me a full blood panel.

I was completely shocked and taken off guard when the ER doctor told me that he had good news and bad news.

My gaze fell to the floor as I tried to hold back tears.

The way that he said it scared the hell out of me. It didn’t seem like the usual I’m about to tell you that you have pneumonia look.

Bad news? I immediately thought of cancer, and of some other horrible possibilities.

The doctor told me that my D-dimer test was high and that they would have to admit me to the hospital. I thought what the hell is a D-dimer test? I quickly found out that a D-dimer test is a test which measures blood clot risk. I had never heard of it before but it is a very valuable diagnostic tool, one which started the doctors on the path to saving my life.

The good news was that I would get my own room at the hospital very quickly and be able to get a CT scan to see if there were indeed blood clots somewhere. I was immediately given the blood thinner Lovenox through my IV. Blood thinners work to prevent existing clots from growing, and toward preventing new ones from forming. I was given an echo-cardiogram and Doppler Ultrasound of my legs. Thankfully, those tests were fine.

I had never had a blood clot before, but had a few of the risk factors including supplemental estrogen from birth control pills, recent surgery and bed rest. According to the Mayo Clinic, some other risk factors may include pregnancy, cancer, heart disease, smoking, long trips, and being overweight (especially in women who smoke or have high blood pressure.)

I knew there were some risk factors from taking birth control pills, especially the Yaz pills that I was taking for my PMDD. I also knew that my recent hysterectomy/oopherectomy held such risks. I took those risks willingly, never thinking that I, a woman in my 40’s who had never had a blood clot, would actually get one.

Well, welcome to my October surprise!

I was in the hospital for three days and the entire staff was warm, friendly and very knowledgeable. I hated being there for so long away from my family, and was very frightened. The nurses, assistants, nutritionists and doctors all helped me to feel like I wasn’t alone, in between my family visits. I joked with one of the staff and called her Nurse Ratched, every time she stuck a needle into my belly. My belly which is extremely sore and bruised from twice daily injections. My belly which once held my sweet babies is now a giant pin cushion. Brief pause as I imagine Hellraisers face imprinted on my belly. Ok, back to my belly, which may be in pain, but will be the place through which the medicine is placed, to help me live again.

I took a CT scan with contrast which diagnosed me with multiple bilateral pulmonary emboli. I will have to be on blood thinners for at least six months, and take many blood tests and scans. There are other blood thinners our there in pill form, but I reacted badly to them.

The recovery differs for each patient from a few weeks to many months or years. For me, it is taking a long time. I had just recovered from major surgery when I got my diagnosis. I was out of shape, and am now extra anxious due to my new medical condition. It has been hard to breathe, especially due to my asthma, and hard to walk far distances. I had some anxiety before, but now it is at an all time high. It is hard to get things done or leave the house on many days, but I must especially to exercise to aid my recovery, and prevent more blood clots from forming. I am currently on daily medication until the anxiety improves. I am hoping that it will soon, and that when I am off of blood-thinners in March that things will get as back to normal as they can.

I face a long, scary, anxiety provoking six months, but with the help of my family, friends and many doctors, I will get through this. I will keep taking baby steps, and pray I will not have more roadblocks on the way to full recovery. I will take it day by day. I will look at the faces of my children and my husband, and thank God I am still here. I will appreciate their beautiful faces even more now. I will try to show them how much I love them until my last breath. I will work harder to make a difference because this scare has taught me that my time here is limited.

Please learn the symptoms of pulmonary embolism and talk to friends and family about this important and dangerous condition. It can affect you no matter your sex, and risk factors increase with age. Discuss the risks of using birth control pills with your daughters, especially the ones containing drospirenone which can dramatically increase the risk of fatal blood clots.

I did not know the symptoms of pulmonary embolism weeks ago. But, I did trust my instincts that something was very wrong. Going to the ER that day saved my life and now though my activity is limited, I can enjoy my favorite season once again.

I love the Fall.

Now more than ever…

 

Kathy ❤

Poetologie

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Am No One. I Am Someone. My Story of Domestic Violence

Many years ago an ex-boyfriend drove me deep into the woods of a small Connecticut town. It was a beautiful sunny day, and there was a very scenic view. I was enjoying the ride until he said to me “if you ever lie to me or cheat on me, I will bury your body in these woods.”

He then added “and no one will ever find you.”

He spoke these words so clearly and matter-of-factly, as if he had been planning this for months. He was totally serious and made sure I knew it. It was at the point that I knew I would never get out of this relationship alive.

I was dating a man similar to my violent abusive father, the cycle continued. Just like Julia Roberts’ character in “Sleeping With the Enemy,” I had to make a plan and gather the strength and courage to leave him.

We had been dating for a year at the time, and there were many signs of abuse such as yelling at me constantly, pushing, punching, grabbing me so hard that my arms were black and blue, throwing objects at me, threatening me and putting me down often. I slowly recognized these signs of abuse, but was stuck, torn apart, and felt like I had nowhere else to go at the time. Plus, I really felt like I could change him by smothering him with love and kindness. But that never works, people only change if they want to and receive the necessary help that they desperately need.

At the time I was no one. I was just a carpet for others to walk all over. I had no confidence, I had no inner strength, I had no soul. I was just walking down an endless deep dark path, and I never felt so alone.

Due to an abusive childhood, I thought that it was normal to be treated the way my ex treated me for awhile. I thought I deserved it. And like many abuse victims, I thought I could change my boyfriend into a loving man. I believed him each time he said he’d never hit me again, though the look of satisfaction on his face said otherwise.

I would look at other couples who were in love, and wish I was in love with someone kind. Instead I was dating a monster. This monster was very good looking and charming. He fooled many people. He made a fool out of me on many occasions. Nothing I ever did was good enough, nothing I did was ever right. I was constantly walking on eggshells, trying to please him so that I could have some peace.

But, I was fooling myself, for there is never any peace in an abusive relationship, and there never will be. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence – “on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.”

I started secretly seeing a psychologist on my lunch breaks in Manhattan. The walks to these appointments were terrifying, but after each one I felt a bit of a release. I was finally able to tell someone, I finally showed my bruises to someone. The look on my psychologists face said it all, and she slowly helped me gain the courage to leave. All of the shame and fear I had been feeling came pouring out, like an endless ball of pain. It was finally unraveling, I could finally breathe again and dream that happiness would someday be within my reach.

Soon after, I left my boyfriend after a heated fight. I ran into some policemen on the walk to my mom’s house, and they escorted me the rest of the way. I did not tell them what had happened.

I had run out of the house, fearing for my life, and left with only the shirt on my back. I had no other possessions, but I had my life and I had my dignity. My family took care of me until I healed, and figured out what to do. I finally told them and my friends what I had been enduring. My ex tried to keep me away from these friends, but once I told them they said to run and never look back.

I was weak and did look back a few times and called my ex out of loneliness and desperation. We even got back together for a few weeks. But the same cycle of violence occurred and we broke up for good soon after. I was lucky that he convinced himself that it was not worth it, and I never saw him again.

I continued counseling for a few years which helped me to figure out a plan. My plan was to be alone for a long time until I learned to really like myself for the first time in my life. I learned to embrace the quiet and treasure my solitude. My hobbies of writing poetry, rollerblading, kayaking, and photography helped save my life. These hobbies filled my time and were my constant companions.

They would never hurt me. They would only enrich my life and help me grow.

These hobbies built up my body and my spirit, and they allowed me to move forward.

Please be aware of all of the signs of verbal and physical abuse. Teach them to your children. Let them know that they cannot treat people this way, and that they should never allow anyone to treat them this way. It is not acceptable to abuse others.

It is true that love and relationships can be hard work. They can have many ups and downs. They require lots of patience and lots of respect. They should, however, be mostly filled with love and happy memories. It should not feel like hard work all the time. You should not change who you are to be with someone.

You should never accept anyone hitting you.

If they do, quietly walk away. Ask others for the support you need and deserve.

You are not a punching bag.

And whether the abuse is physical or verbal, you do not have to stay.

Make a plan, and leave right away or as soon as you can.

It is much better to be alone and alive, than it is to be abused.

Someday, when you are removed from your horrible situation, you will learn from it. You will learn to like yourself again. You will grow and blossom into the amazing human being that you are. You will live again. You will find happiness. Many have walked in these same footsteps. I was one of them. Let us lead the way. You are not alone.

Just keep saying these words over and over until you believe them. Then go ahead and take your life back and learn to live it!

I am someone. I am good. I am compassionate. I am special. I have great worth, and no one can take that away from me. I will unravel this ball of pain that consumes me. I will transform it into a great ball of light. This light will brighten my world. It will lead the way to better things. It will help me move on and be happy. It will help me love again, and share that love with the world. Life is a circle, not a cycle. My cycle of abuse is over. I will not let it overtake me again. I am finally free….

Kathy ❤

Poetologie

If you ever need help you can use the following resources:

  • If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.
  • For anonymous, confidential help, 24/7, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or  1-800-787-3224
  • http://www.ncadv.org/

 

 

Two Paths Toward 9/11 and Beyond

Death knocked on the door this morning,

cold hands crumbled smoldering towers of steel,

as the candles were extinguished by bitter breath,

sorrowful clouds permeated blue skies this morning,

hopes and dreams were shattered by windows of pain.

 

In 1996, a few years after graduating college, I went to a headhunter in Manhattan. She sent me out for two job interviews that week. The first one was in Tower One of the World Trade Center. I cannot recall which floor it was on, but can recall how I felt when I approached the beautiful Twin Towers. They framed the city for me.

I grew up in a borough of NYC and I always got so excited whenever I saw them from the Staten Island Ferry. I will never forget that view. They showed me which way to go many times. They will always mean so much to me. They were a part of my childhood, they were romantic, and they were the setting for many television and movie scenes. But they were not to be the location of my demise, for I was sent on a different path.

My second job interview was in Midtown Manhattan. I received a job offer right away and I took it. I worked at that job as an administrative assistant until 2002.

Around the same time my husband, who I didn’t meet until 2004, was faced with a big decision. Should he take the test to become a New York City Fireman, or should he try to enroll in Nursing School? Both would have been excellent choices, and both would offer rewarding careers.

One of his best friends at the time chose to take the test and wait to be called to service. They had many discussions about it. My husband ultimately chose to enter St. Vincent’s Nursing School on Staten Island instead, after a few years and much thought.

He is here today. His brave and heroic friend Jeff from Engine Co. 10 is not.

My husband chose a path of saving lives by being a nurse, and his friend also chose a path of saving lives, and lost his in the process. His friend was a hero before September 11th, and an even bigger one after. He thinks of him often and always remembers his humor, bravery and love for the FDNY. He also thinks of what may have happened if he chose the same path and was at the World Trade Center that fateful day.

I had two possible paths toward a career and was offered a job that was thankfully not located in Tower One of the World Trade Center. My husband chose to be a registered nurse instead of a member of the FDNY who lost 343 souls on 9/11.

Our paths eventually led us to each other. We talked about September 11th soon after we met. We were both from Staten Island and the subject of the tragedy comes up often. Everyone was either there or knew somebody who was. Two hundred seventy five people with ties to Staten Island perished. Almost everyone you knew lost a relative, a neighbor or a friend. My husband told me about his great loss of one of his best friends. I told him of neighbors and acquaintances I knew of who lost their lives, and of my sister’s luck in being late for work that day. She worked in Tower One.

I told him of the extreme fear and sadness of working in Manhattan that day, and of walking home to my apartment via the FDR Drive, among many ashen people. People who I did not know, but whose faces I will never forget. People who were wandering around aimlessly, some without shoes.

There are street signs and many other honors for the victims lost from Staten Island. Every time I visit there, I envision the footsteps of my neighbor’s brother, and of those lost from my hometown. You can imagine their faces and whisper their names. You can almost hear their voices on a crisp fall day.

So many people were lost in an instant, and my hometown will never fully recover from that loss. The memories are always with us, they creep back effortlessly and heartbreakingly especially this time of year.

My husband and I moved off of Staten Island in 2011. We now live in Northern Virginia, closer to the Pentagon. We will pay our respects to those 125 victims someday soon.

We are very grateful for the paths we chose. Paths which led us to each other. Paths which led us to a new life here in Virginia with two great kids. Paths which may not have intersected had we made other decisions.

We often think of his good friend and of those lost on September 11th, and of the paths they took. They were just going about their day. They were just living their lives when tragedy struck. They could have been us. They could have been anyone.

September 11th is always a sad and somber day for us. We barely put on the television for the reminders are still too close and painful. It is a day that should teach us all that every second matters and that life is short. That we must hold those we love close and dear, and cherish every single moment with them.

Our paths will lead us back to Ground Zero soon. Back to see the beautiful new memorial and museum, back to pay our respects, back to where we came from.

Our paths will always lead us home. We should honor all of the victims of September 11th by choosing kinder, gentler paths. Paths of empathy and compassion instead of anger and destruction.

Paths that lead to helping others more and making a difference. Paths that would make all the Angels proud as we salute them each and every year.

We will always remember them. We will always love them. We will spread that love to others and make this world a better place.

For when all is said and done love is all that matters.

That love will always remain, as well as the pieces of broken shattered windows of pain.

dada kids farm walking

 

Kathy ❤

Poetologie

 

 

To My Daughter with Anxiety

I wish you could see yourself the way I see you. The way your freckles frame your beautiful face. The way you shrug your shoulders when you are unsure of yourself. The way your smile and laughter brightens up a room. You are a perfect reflection of love and all that is good in this world.

You are pure magic. You are the light of my life. Ever since you were placed upon my chest after birth, you have managed to fill up a huge place in my heart. I became a mom when you were born. I wouldn’t want to be anything else, for you bring more meaning and love into my life than I have ever known.

You may not know this, and I am sorry if you cannot comprehend how much you mean to me. It is difficult to put into words how the stars came down from the sky when you were born. They brought you to me, my shining special girl. You are so amazing, and you have no idea of your worth. Never doubt your worth, never let anyone put you down or make you feel less than you are.

You have been struggling with anxiety on and off for a few years. I know it has been very difficult for you and I would do anything to take these feelings away. You are only ten years old and should not have to face such misfortune at such a young age. You should be living happily, frivolously and free of such adversity.

You are having a hard time adjusting to middle school and all the changes you are facing. You are no longer a small elementary school student, you now carry a heavy load of honors classes and much more responsibility. Recess is a thing of the past, and playtime is replaced with commitments and worry.

Your old friends are just a blur in the busy hallways, and new faces crowd the overwhelming corridors of your new life. You are trying to adjust, but your anxiety is holding you back. It drags you down, it clouds your brain, it holds you back from all you are meant to accomplish.

But, I have no doubt that you will overcome this difficult challenge and accomplish great things. Anxiety is tough, but you are not ashamed to admit you are struggling, you are not afraid to ask for help from the school counselor and from your after school psychologist. You are the bravest girl that I know and I couldn’t be prouder of you.

You are putting yourself out there, you are climbing mountains and you are breaking down the walls that are holding  you back. You keep fighting every single day, and you never give up. Though you leave the house in tears often, you come back better, stronger and more powerful than you have ever been. This will build your character, this will expand your ability to feel empathy for others.

I am in awe of our strength, your courage and your willingness to help others though you are struggling yourself.

You are the kind of person I admire. You are the kind of person I still aspire to be like.

Though you are still so young, you have such wisdom packed into your little soul, and enough love in you to change lives.

I know that you will overcome your anxiety and live a wonderful, fulfilling life.

Never be ashamed of asking for help when you require it, those who do are the most courageous people in the world.

I am so proud of you and always will be. From the moment I first saw you, you were my stars, you were my heaven on Earth, you were mine.

My sweet darling daughter, never forget that you can overcome whatever life throws your way. Always keep trying, always be yourself, always stay kind.

I cannot be prouder of you, and I will always be in your corner.

Forever walking by your side. With each passing moonlight mile.

My sweet daughter, how I love you…