Saturday, August 21, 2010

Its been a rough month

For reasons outside of his ability to control, II missed recovery group for a month. There was no deliberate intention of missing. In fact, one week he went and it was cancelled, despite being told previously that there is only one week a year when recovery group is cancelled and it was NOT that week.

In addition to being out of recovery group, II took it upon himself to start digging for answers to his past. I don't know why. Its not that he doesn't need to know those answers. It is that every attempt he has made to secure individual counseling has been a dead-end and he's out of ideas until he can get into medical. I personally read the email from the University informing II that his issues were too complex for the student counseling center to work with him, so I know he's not lying.

Without individual counseling, its best to not address his past and what he refers to as his "mommy issues." We've clearly established that his mother has lied, manipulated, abused and used him his entire life before she disowned him last October. We know she was the source of his abuse and pain that left im vunerable to addiction issues. Right now, without a safe avenue to delve into that complex history, I thought we were in agreement that he would work on recovery and marriage restoration but not confronting that past...yet. Its there. It has to be dealt with eventually. It should not be ignored or denied. But, stirring the hornet's nest can cause a lot of behaviors and problems without competent support.

For us, it caused him to emotionally disengage and become downright mean to me. Without recovery check in to even attempt to keep him balanced and healthy, he went right back to the dry drunk phenomenon. And, after a year of this journey, my emotional reserves to even stand disengaged when he gets that way is GONE. My reserves are completely wiped out.

A week ago, I was done. I told him to move out of the bedroom, permenantly.

Then, my period came. I made concessions that my own hormonal imblance might have contributed to my frustration and willingness to throw everything way. I did not decide that I was wrong, that he was a nice person, nor that I won't still get there. I am willing to try one more time, while not overly sensitive and irritated about my body returning to a state of nature I am simply not accustomed to managing anymore.

So, this week, he's been trying hard to reconnect, to shelf his obssessive desire to find every answer about his past NOW, and to invest in us again.

I put all of my stress into my neck now. I know, how very old of me. Over the last month, I have had a kink in my neck that has reached epic proportions. If I couldn't feel the actual knot myself, I would think this was neurological at this point. Its bad. My neck is on fire. My shoulder and arm have nearly reduced me to incapacitation. And, I have not felt safe to do anything that would leave me vunerable to address this. Lots of heat, lots of ibprofen and rest when I've been able to get it.

It is simply not working, and the pain has become significantly worse. Today, I finally felt safe enough to take a muscle relaxer. I hate taking muscle relaxers, or any other medication that alters my mental processes. However, I was desperate to halt this stress injury and I simply don't have the finances to find a good Chiropractor--the best solution to the problem.

Sometime after taking the medication, I was forced to sleep. While sleeping, I dreamed I was back in Virginia, the state where my father was born and raised. I dreamed I made an Old Colonial gingerbread recipe developed by George Washington's mother and once served to General Lafayette.

It is a testiment to II's renewed committment to connecting with me that he dug up that recipe online. He then proceeded to bake one of the most complicated gingerbread recipes I have ever seen to exist. Its cooling in the kitchen for dessert tonight. He certainly wasn't going to trust ME in the kitchen baking tonight. When I came down off the meds, I apologized for the insanity of that recipe. Its wonder I didn't dream of making saffron rice or something. Saffron would have taken a huge chunk out of the grocery budget and he probably would have made it just the same.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Reflections on what went wrong

We're rapidly approaching the anniversary of when I lost my life as I knew it. I'm finally to a point where I feel strong enough to boldly face where we went, what went wrong and what we messed up so very badly. We fell down the rabbit hole of Patriarchal matrimony. We didn't necessarily mean to do so. And, we certainly never thought we were down so far as we truly were. We thought we didn't fully believe in wife-only submission. We thought we never believed that the wife's salvation is based upon the Husband's favor. In more ways than I ever understood until the journey of this last year, we did fall into the trap.

Just in case anyone is wondering what my opinion on Patriarchal marriage is now, let me make it VERY clear what my opinion is and why.

Patriarchal marriage is dangerous. First, there is NO accountability to the husband. If the husband is ungodly or inappropriate, then you are to wait for God to deal with him. So basically, a husband can tell his wife to do ANYTHING he wants. The potential to abuse this authority with NO consequences is massive and scary. Only a very few men would not become abusive in some manner or another. There is no safety for a wife if her husband becomes abusive. There is no real accountability for men.

Patriarchal leaders are very open that a wife should never, ever concern herself with what accountability or oversight might exist for a husband, because that would be dishonoring his godhead in her life to do so.

Now, that was not the aspect we accepted. Even at our most consistent with Patriarchy, we were a poor example because we rejected that my salvation came through II. It was easy for me to see the fallacy and danger in this concept from the start. However, we did believe it was the husband's job to provide for his family at all costs, and the wife's job to maintain the home and support the husband at all costs. And, in embracing this, we not only lost accountability for both of us, but we diverged and lived parallel lives rather than being truly joined as one.

I carried the full burden of the household. I maintained all of the schooling, all of the care for the medical needs, all of the behavioral issues, all of the feeding and cleaning and maintenance of a large, special needs family. It was a lonely an stressful world. And, the babies kept coming, knocking my ability to manage everything off at the feet yet again. But, the final blow was the Autistic, Bipolar, VIOLENT Cystic Fibrosis child who nearly KILLED me in the last pregnancy.

For his part, II was expected to shoulder the full financial burden of this ever-growing, special needs family. when he had jobs that were unhealthy environments, he was not free to leave them. When finances were struggling, he was responsible for it. He had no one to help with this burden, no one to talk to, no one who began to understand. Isolated an feeling like he could fail his family at any moment, his burdens combined with his mental health issues and his childhood abuse led him down a path where he medicated his stress and fears with an addiction. That addiction nearly destroyed our family and our marriage.

There never should have been a his versus hers in the marriage. His happiness should not have been my burden The selfishness and isolation of Patriarchy should have never existed for him. But, he also should have been able to carry worth in the family beyond his paycheck. He was a lonely and forgotten monarch. I was a beaten down and exhausted serf. And, because Patriarchy told me to put a smile on it, and never burden him with MY failings, there was no checks and balances for either of us to truly love the other unconditionally and freely. There was no opportunity for either of us to truly support an love the other as we should have been able to do.

I was the PERFECT wife. I put his needs before mine always. I hide the challenges and struggles of actually providing for the emotional needs of this family far away from him. I structured the family around his career. I sacrificed myself in every way I was told to do so. I was the picture perfect wife. And, the world called me blessed.

If my DH had gone the normal route, he would have been abusive or simply dismissive, which is almost guaranteed with this marriage outlook. He was fundamentally a decent man and went down the road of self-destruction and addiction in his own efforts to control what this dynamic brought to him.

Neither of us was more valuable than the other. Neither of us should have sacrificed permanently, nor carried an expectation that we could do whatever we wanted. We should have been fully partnered, fully accountable and fully joined with each other in all things. We should have both put each other as the priority of our lives and honored and respected the other while also holding onto our own person hood as just as valuable.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Everything changes

So, the potential job interview last week sent me for a tailspin. The mere thought of doing what I do every day for minimum wage sent me into tears. I cried out to the Lord was there really NO way I could salvage my nursing training and credentials? I've been practicing Pediatric Nursing in my home for YEARS. I actually sat down and calculated the level of direct nursing care I provide in a given week and added up 50+ hours. That's not counting that last week I was managing a case of Gatroenteritis so severe no one was sure the baby wasn't going to end up in the hospital or not until he finally, dramatically turned the corner one night. AND, I'm currently managing a third degree burn situation on E. She's got skin grafts, a new one for me this time, and requires every other day dressing changes, as well as assessment of her burns to make sure its all healing properly. Some of the things I do, any mother would be able to do. Some of the things I do, doctors only permit me to do because they KNOW I'm a nurse. I've tried to hide it before. For some reason, I can't hide it very well. Ten minutes speaking with a new doctor and they insist upon knowing my background.

When we moved to this current state five years ago, I made a decision to let my RN licensure lapse. I regretted it almost immediately but there was little I could do to reverse it. At the time, gaining licensure in this state was a simple process if I wanted to renew my licensure, so I contented myself with knowing I could get it all back if I wanted it.

Three years ago, this state changed their laws and it appeared I lost it irretrievably at that point. For the last three years, I have looked at this equation from EVERY angle I could think of. Even as recently as June, I was in communication with the Director of Nursing at my U to see if there were some way to save all of this.

Its a long, complicated, beaucratic explanation to the situation. However, when I got the call for this job interview, I looked at this equation one LAST time...from a new angle. And, suddenly, what was impossible became quite possible.

In fact, by Thanksgiving, I will legally be a RN again, in the state I went to nursing school, not the state I currently reside in. However, once I renew that licensure, there IS a process to transfer my licensure to this state. It involves taking a nursing refresher course. But, its 3 months I'll gladly give for the opportunity to have my degree and credentials restored.

In restoring my training, it clears the path for the medical practitioner balance I thought I lost. I went to nursing school with a specific goal in mind. I was going to work my way through my Bachelors, work for a year and then obtain my Nurse Practitioner degree.

I guess if I had known about Oestopathic medicine way back when, I would have opted to go that route. At the time, I didn't. I knew medical school and I knew the nursing model of medicine. I felt nursing was a more holistic and naturally minded approach to medicine. Its still a holistic approach to medicine. And, its an approach that would all me to practice but balance the needs of my children.

I have an appointment with a nursing advisor at my University next Thursday. I've been communication with the only refresher course offered in the state. I can do my practical work online. I just need to find a local preceptor to do my clinical work under. I'm hopeful if the refresher course doesn't have those connections locally then the University Department will.

With any luck, I can have my licensure free in order to start my RN-BSN this summer, which would allow me to have my Bachelors completed at the same time I would have a Bachelor's in Sociology finished. I would work the first year of II's medical school to get in-state residency and then going full-time for either my MSN or DNP.

Now begins the soul searching again. Masters or doctorate? Family Practice, Pediatric or.........Nurse Midwifery.....

I'm thinking DNP is its an option, though I would settle for MSN at first so long as everyone understands that its a stopping point towards my DNP. My initial thought is not Family Nurse Practice. That leaves Pediatrics or Midwifery. There was a time and place that would have been no contest. I was young and idealistic back then, I'm cautious about midwifery now out of concern for what that would mean for my family....and the knowledge that I could LOVE Pediatrics.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I thought I was going to write a peotic reflection on sending children into public school for a new school year. I thought I was going to reflect on the deliberate choice to move away from homeschooling, to change the fundamental structure of our family, and to consider that the end of a season is within my sight now.

Except, life overwhelms such plans. It is very odd to find myself sending children off to school not because I am broken and unable to school them, but because I have made a concious decision that this is what is the best choice for them. I once thought I would homeschool all of these children until they were ready for college. I know now that the only homeschooling I will continue in the future is establishing a strong foundation of learning for my children. The one who will never conform and yeild to brick and mortar school will always homeschool. The others will build their foundations at home, and when they are ready, I will send them out one by one to the school system to finish the work I have begun with them.

Instead of prose, I find myself in chaos. Its the standard chaos of living in a household of ten people. Its the insanity that comes with cordinating special needs, special accomodations, special school programs, and simply the uniqueness of eight children.

Three children began a new school year in the public schools this year. One went to the district middle school until she can be admitted to the Fine Arts Academy for next fall. One returned to the ESL campus where he is being integrated into regular classes this year. One has been moved to a moderate classroom where he will focus on life and functional skills. His academic goals for the year involve learning numbers 1-20 and the first 10 letters of the alphabet. He's struggling with the new, reinforced requirement that he simply must EAT. We have one who is driven to school and two who are supposed to have door to door bus service. That would work better if the transportation department had assigned them the correct bus number and someone told the bus driver they were supposed to pick up and drop off.

Two days into this school year for the public schoolers, and the phone only stops ringing in the middle of the day. Once afternoon arrives, the chaos returns. One is taking standardized testing this week in his homeschool program, requiring accomodations for dsylexia. And, I'm frantically trying to organize the fall school schedule for the homeschoolers, the childcare sharing between II and I, and our own full coursework at the University which begins next week.

The toddlers are both recuporating from signficant illness and have choosen to scream and wail most of the time this week. I'm exhausted, stressed and chasing my own tail.

There's no time for prose and poetry. I'm too busy chasing leads for my own future that have left me shifting my entire fall course schedule twice now. I sincerely hope things are on the verge of settling down. I'm hope just as sincerely that my current class schedule is the last. The campus bookstore is going to grow weary of seeing me and my wild toddlers constantly if I have to keep shifting my books and supplies as I shift my choices for the future.

I'm excited. I see good things bearing fruit for all of my children. I see good things bearing fruit for my own career and future. I see II having the opportunity to embrace his dreams, while recognizing that doing so is ultimately his choice and responsibility. I'm deeply relieved to see my current career choices which will leave my future path flexible but independent of his future if necessary.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Baby J is crazy sick

This, ladies and gentlemen, is EXACTLY why I avoid hospitals unless absolutely, unequvicoably necessary.

Exactly six days after the resident stuck his hands in J's mouth to inspect the gum peeled off the skull situation, baby J started puking and having diarrhea.

Yeah. Great. Gastrointeritis, clearly from the hospital. He rarely goes in public, its summer even the non-homeschooled kids have been home, and J was the first to get it.

Yesterday, he appeared to be on the mend, hadn't puked in a day and the diarrhea was slowing.

He started PURGING in the night. I nearly had him to the ER for admission at midnight and again at 1am. He was still peeing and still had spit, so I opted for the wait-for-the-sun-to-see-his-doctor rather than take-the-un-vaccinate-toddler-with-clear-Rotavirus-symptoms-into-the-ER-as-a-random-patient thing.

Our doctor wasn't there today, but his partner confirmed what I already knew. Baby J has 2-3 more pukes before he MUST be admitted for IV fluids. He's still got tears and a little pee, but not much, not nearly enough.

I talked him into giving us a Zofran script to try and stop the vomitting. But, we're on specific orders that if he pukes 2-3 more times OR simply isn't better by evening, we're to take him to the after-hours clinic and he's going to be admitted to the hospital.

I swear, my life is a revolving door of drama yet again.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A job

I have a job interview tomorrow at 10:30. Its the nurse aide job I applied for with an employee recommendation back in June and never heard back for. The manager just called and is very interested in me. Its 10-20 hours per week, weekends and evenings.

I don't even know what to wear to a job interview anymore! I guess I'd better figure it out this evening because I need to be there bright and early. I've decided that I'm not going into medicine afterall. However, I still have the skills and ability to do Nurse Aide services.

The big thing about this job is that the home health agency does not require CNA the way the hospitals now do. However, they will pay for me to take the CNA testing. I don't need to work hard to pass the CNA testing...maybe a quick booklet review. I didn't lose my nursing knowledge just because I let my licensure expire. CNA is someone who helps a nurse, everything on the CNA testing you learn in the first 6 weeks of nursing clinicals. Its not that hard for me to pass. Its a LOT harder for me to get my foot back in the door, pay for the testing and get experience back onto my resume.

If I can get this job, I can get my CNA certification. If I can get some experience on my resume and the certification, I can get my foot back in the door in the hospitals. I much prefer hospital settings for nursing. If I can get PRN work at the hospitals then I can get higher pay and more autonomy over my hours. If I can get this job, I can bring in income, take us off the chokehold we're in, and keep us floating as we fight for our dreams.

II has tried and tried to find work. He's testing GMAT tests for $9/hour for heaven's sake. Its certainly not for lack of trying on his part. He cannot get minimum wage positions because his education and experience is too much. He can't even get callbacks on most of them. He piecemeals IT work and consulting jobs to bring in the money we don't have at this point. But, its not enough. Getting a part-time job for me would help us tremendously.

I guess we'll see tomorrow how this goes. I always interviewed well in the past. But, that was a decade and 100lb ago. Pray I still do well and that I can land this.