The Grace Period

It seems I’ve been very absent on this blog in the last couple of years. My family and I still try to go along with our new normal and deal with life after my husband’s stroke 2 years ago. Jason has mostly good days. He goes to work several times a week, though he would say he doesn’t feel useful. I’m sure he is more than useful. It’s just hard for stroke victims to resume their pre-stroke life when their brain has been injured. Sometimes he feels “less” than before and I understand. Every once in a while we have a not so great day. That’s usually when the “fog” sets in and Jason feels overly tired and physically and mentally drained. But- when the bad days happen, we just keep reminding ourselves that things could be so much worse. They WERE worse. I prayed for more days with him when we thought they were numbered. The bad days are important to make us realize how blessed we are. He’s still a walking, living miracle in my eyes!

I didn’t write about it at the time, but my youngest daughter has had quite a time of it these last few months. Last summer, Stinkerbell and I were blessed to have gone to Cancun together. It was a trip sponsored by my employer. A quota-club type trip. It was her first time on a plane! We had a fantastic time together and we’d love to go back soon.

When we returned from the trip, she mentioned around late June that she’d felt “off” but couldn’t really explain why. Haley complained of a constant headache and said something so peculiar to me one night. “Mom, you know how restaurants and bars sometimes have a neon light in the window and it has a buzzing or humming sound against the window? That’s how my brain feels.”

We continued to monitor her and finally took her to the ER, where they gave her fluids and a migraine cocktail. They didn’t see a need for a CT scan because she seemed to improve after fluids and migraine meds. My inner mommy voice questioned the ER doctor but she nicely said she really felt nothing urgent was wrong. Oh, how I wish I’d listened to my inner voice and pushed for the brain scan. Because 24 hours later, Haley had a full blown seizure, complete with arms and legs flailing about, foaming at the mouth and complete loss of verbal communication.

We’d soon learn that she had a cerebral veinous sinus thrombosis. She had a blood clot in a vein over her left eye. And we’d later learn that the culprit was birth control pills that she’d started taking 3 weeks prior. I’d encouraged her to take it to help with the excruciating pain she endures each month when Aunt Flo comes to visit. You can imagine that I felt like mother of the century. The child could have had a stroke during the seizure. Or worse- had the blood clot gotten any bigger, she could have died. Haley spent 3 days in ICU. I remember nearly every hour , yet she only remembers select moments.

After she was discharged, she spent 2 months pretty much home bound with me because she wasn’t able to drive. Hematology appointments, MRI visits, Neurologist visits … it was all such a change in our quiet life. During that time. She felt lost. Confused. Sad. Depressed. And who could blame her? We missed the enrollment for her college classes in August because of all that happened and because she still didn’t feel “all there.”

That child has been through more crap than should be allowed. She’s the type one diabetic I often write about. So add all of the blood clot stuff to the existing Diabetes and you have one exhausted girl and overwhelmed parents. But like always, Jesus answered my prayers- again. Haley made a complete recovery. While she was in the hospital getting the CT that would reveal the clot, I again said ” the ” prayer. You know the one, especially if you’ve got kids. It’s the prayer I prayed at Duke when Jason had the stroke. And it’s the same I prayed for my mom a year and a half ago when she battled breast cancer for the second time in her life. (And by God’s Grace, she beat cancer again!)

It’s the kind of prayer where you fall to your knees. And it doesn’t matter who sees or hears. And it doesn’t matter that the hospital floor is ridden with dirt and germs. All that matters is laying all of the burden off your tired soul and you ask for Grace. And for reasons I can’t explain, He heard me and answered me with favorable health for my loved ones.

I wish I could tell you I haven’t had to say that prayer since last July when Haley was in ICU. She actually was in the hospital right after Christmas. Her new glucometer sensor was faulty. She’d worn the sensor for about 4 days and kept telling me how great her blood sugars were. Unfortunately her sugars were well over 400-500 while her meter would indicate 170-200. Haley has been in DKA before but this was bad. Profuse abs constant vomiting. Confusion. Severe dehydration. Again I prayed. Again she recovered. And all the time I am aware of how completely blessed we are.

While all of this happened over the summer, my oldest daughter was experiencing the lowest of emotional lows and had a difficult few weeks trying to pull herself out of a personal hell. She did- but not unscathed in the process. I’m always surprised that my girls are as strong as they are. I mean this girls are freaking warriors. They can’t possibly get this from me. But wherever the source of their bad-assery, I’m thankful!

During the last 2 years, I’ve gained back nearly every pound I lost with weight loss surgery in 2016. I’m embarrassed to say that but it’s true. I never thought I’d find myself as one of the failure stories. VSG didn’t fail ME. I failed at using the tool. I’ll be honest- taking care of myself did not seem like a priority. Even now that all is eerily quiet and well, I struggle to make myself a priority. I gave up. Some friends of mine who know what my family has been through often say well damn, Dawn… you’ve all been through so much! Extend yourself a bit of grace. Grace…

In my professional life, I work for a technology company with offices throughout the country. I work on a team of 7 fantastic women and we primarily manage maintenance renewal contracts for various technology giants. Small example… You know that antivirus software icon at the bottom left of your computer screen? Somebody at McAfee, Norton, etc knows you’ve got a renewal date coming up. You might get a phone call or email from a renewals rep asking you to renew your contract. It might annoy you but you know you have to protect your computer from viruses. So you pay them. Now imagine that scenario on a much larger scale where clients pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure their hardware and software is protected from harm. That’s what we do. Only we are not annoying 😊 and we are really good at what we do. Sometimes customers don’t renew on time and unfortunately bad stuff can happen. But luckily they usually have a 30 day window … a grace period before all the bad shit happens.

I feel I’ve had a really long grace period and need to get my health back as a priority. Mentally and physically. But it’s all so depressing when I think how far gone I am. I get zero exercise. I eat the wrong things. I drink too much. I’m sad too often. I sleep either too much or too little. It was just 5 years ago I was an avid kick boxer and lost 80 pounds. Nowadays the only exercise I get is walking the short walk to the mailbox. I feel weak physically. I feel exhausted emotionally. And constantly fearful that something terrible will happen with my daughters or husband if I’m not available for them 24/7.

The grace period has to be over now. I must renew my faith in ME. I just need a little push. It’s simply putting one foot in front of the other. I must find that hell-bent woman who knew who she was and felt good in her own skin.

I’m gonna find her. The grace period is OVER. I’m not too old and it’s not too late.

You’ve traveled down this road with me before. I hope you’ll come with me again. Plus, wouldn’t you rather me write about my hot mess express gym shitshow episodes than these sad crazy stories?!?!