Friday, June 29, 2012

Daily struggles

Why is it after consistently walking a minimum of 3-4 days every week for three months, and hitting 5 or more days most weeks, do I still get tired walking my 1.5 miles. I think it has to do with my messed up foot that is not only *still* hurting me, but now that I'm not using my walking stick, I'm having burning sensations in the ankle from walking on it. I don't think I'm compensating in my stride at this point. However, I know if I leave the wrap off that foot for more than about thirty minutes it begins to hurt across the top of the foot where I supposedly did NOT break the bone. I had to stop and rest four times this morning, and at the turn-around point I actually had to do stretching exercises. I am very frustrated.

M's aide asked me if I have lost weight in all of my walking. Sadly, no, I really have not. I didn't do this to lose weight, and with my long experience with my thyroid struggles, I didn't even expect to lose weight. It would have been nice, but my goal was to help my breathing. That is improving. It's probably the only thing that is improving with all of the exercising I am consistently acccomplishing.

I was going to add an afternoon aerobic work-out three weeks ago when my foot got crushed. I'm still no where near back to a level that I could do that. So, I continue to just focus on the walking routine and keeping the habit even when I'm injured. I am debating starting a very low calorie diet that I was cleared by my physician to start back in January. However, for VLCD you absolutely cannot have something requiring healing. You won't take in enough calories to heal anything and thus tthat is off the table until my foot is recovered.

One of my daughters has eczema so badly that she is now covered from head to toe. She has lotion that the doctor prescribed that was holding it at bay but even that is not working now. The palms of her poor hands are completely covered now. Her appointment with the doctor isn't until the end of next week. Her sister has a prescription shampoo that is more effective. I have her using that on her body every other day to get her to next week. I really don't want to have to take her in to Urgent Care because she couldn't hold out for her appointment, but she is miserable and cannot be made to suffer for another week either.

The other daughter has the shampoo because she too has been battling eczema from head to toe since we moved. The lotion prescribed for her body did nothing, but she discovered that the shampoo prescribed for her head works on her body, so long as she continues to use it. She too has the appointment with the doctor next week. I think I'm going to have to take these girls to an allergist or dermatologist.

I've never seen anything like this, and I've certainly never seen my kids struggle with this stuff before now. I have shown signs of allergic responses my entire life. However, my children have never done so. I did a lot of research on allergies and auto-immune disorders before becoming a mother. I've worked hard to attempt to help reduce the risks of any of my children inheriting the health battles I have struggled with my entire life. Until we moved climates this spring, none of my children have never had these issues. Now, the baby has moderate persistent asthma and these two girls are completely covered by stuff that makes them look awful and feel miserable. I don't know what is going on, but we've got to get it under control.

I spent my entire childhood having these reactions and being made fun of. I refuse to let my girls start school in the fall with these issues being visible. There is no way I will let them endure what I endured. I'll homeschool them for the fall if the doctors cannot get this calmed down before they start classes. They don't deserve to be teased and made fun of because of whatever bizarre health issue we're battling in our home. I just don't know what else to do about this.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I have been putting out fire after fired after fire since late last week.

At this point I am simply mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. I know this will get better. However, several children went into meltdown mode when M started deteriorating. Then, S feel apart from his own issues. In addition to comforting children, monitoring M, shuttling children to appointments, II and I have been managing a major crisis with S which ended with him needing to go inpatient.

So, in the middle of all of this, II's mother contacted me. I had briefly contacted her a few months ago, with the concern that she had a right to know her grandson was dying. She immediately swore she was coming to meet him and was going to rebuild relationship with her other grandchildren.

Yeah. We weren't convinced. Thankfully, we did not tell the children anything about her intentions. Of course, she never followed through. In our entire marriage, the only time she has ever followed through is when we have assisted her on that effort. She even stiffed the state park for her cabin she stayed in the week we were married and my parents had to foot the bill for her. I didn't honestly expect less from her.

Even so, from this same place of feeling like perhaps she should have knowledge of her grandparents, I contacted her last week to inform her that M has even less time than he had before, and that we weren't certain he was going to make it through the weekend but were fairly sure he won't make it through the fall. I also notified her that she has another grandson.

Today, I got a response from her. It is the typical passive aggressive, poor-me excuses I have heard my entire marriage from that woman. The only things she has ever done with passion when it concerns our family was her vicious attack against me when I suffered a miscarriage on E's first birthday, and her disgusting disowning of II when I caught him.

This redition of the poor me routine includes stories that her teen daughter got ugly on her dying husband while she was on a mother-daughter retreat with her youngest child and whines that her six year old is bipolar and rages constantly so she cannot find a babysitter for him.

Well, let's see. The teen daughter is a hell-cat because she has been raised to be such. This woman recieved that child as a foster-child at six months of age. She spent her entire childhood putting NO boundaries, no healthy parenting, no consequences for poor behaviors and nothing but spoiling her senseless. This is the same parenting she did to II's thirty year old brother whose greated accomplishment in his life currently is that he was NOT charged for being under the influence of his drug addiction when he was fired from his job as a part-time cop. Instead, he spends the rest of his life on military disability. He injured his right hand and was an army mechanic. That would be honorable IF he hadn't injured it breaking the rules and getting on a motorcycle two days after coming back from Iraq. The regulations stated that he had to do a safety course before he was allowed to go back on a motorcycle because of the rates of soldiers who wrecked doing.....exactly what he did. He then committed fraud and said he injured his hand on a dirtbike so he could get the disability.

I don't think I'm going to be compassionate for this teen girl's behaviors. More than once I asked this woman to please actually parent this child, especially at the times she was trying to destroy my house and attack my children. This girl is now fifteen. I'm quite certain she is a holy terror. It's not like she didn't give them plenty of warning this day would come.

As to her dying husband, yes, he is in fact dying. He was dying when she married him seven years ago. In fact, she was hoping he would die faster, since she felt being a widow was more honorabale than thrice divorcee. He has battled cancer for three years now when he was told he would live nine months. So, I hate to sound callous, but yes, he's going to die. She's known that as long as she's known him.

She made no mention of her son who is truly messed up with severe PTSD and attachment disorder. I have to wonder if she disrupted his adoption. Two years ago, he was smearing feces on the school bathroom stalls and getting suspended. He was also making death threats to her. If she didn't use his situation for sympathy, then I honestly have to wonder if she sent him away at this point. He had to be good for some sympathy. That child was truly scary. It wasn't his fault. I begged and begged and begged her to get him proper help for years. She refused, flat out refused. He is truly scary, but he deserved to at least have therapy to have a chance at healing. That doesn't happen in her home. She will happily give meds to sedate a child and liberally. She won't give children genuinely help for their issues.

She did mention the daughter L's age. Thus far, I would guess that girl is being raised the same way the older girl has been raised. She's likely spoiled with no boundaries or consquences right now. I expect when she becomes a teen, she will be just as difficult as every other teen this woman has raised.

As for her supposed Bipolar six year old, I don't believe her. Simply put, she states that no one believes it but her, which means this drug baby is not diagnosed. I begged her years ago to not adopt this child if she wasn't committed to a LIFETIME of therapy and resources for his challenges. He was cute as a baby, so she adopted him. She didn't care he would have issues. Why am I surprised he's having problems at six. Oh wait, I'm not.

What I really want to say to this woman is that if we are going to play the 'how bad is my life' game, I STILL win. Yet, I am not interested in focusing on what sucks on my life. I'm the mother of a large special needs family. I could tally the struggles and issues and most people would drop their jaws at what I live with on a daily basis. II's mother, like my own mother sadly, is far more interested in making her own life sound so much worse to try to justify why it's okay that she behaves worse than I do in all of our interactions.

I'm not going to say it though. I honestly don't care. I defened this woman and insisted that she loved II to the best of her ability to do so, until that email when she disowned him. I stand behind every word I wrote to her 2.5 years ago. I was being decent by notifying her about her grandchildren. What she chooses to do with that information is hers to make. It's not my problem. I don't really expect her to be a decent person and come be an actual grandmother to these kids. I just decided that I would no longer stop her from being their grandmother if she wanted to. The only thing that stops her from building a relationship with her grandchildren now is herself.

I think her record speaks for itself. She hasn't seen five of her grandchildren in nearly six years, long before we were in conflict with her. She has four grand-children she has never even met. One of those four is about to die, and she doesn't have enough decency to meet him before he dies. Undoubtably, she'll use his misfortune to milk more sympathy for her awful life from those she interacts with though. She seems to be good at that. She's just awful at being an actual mother or grandmother.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Another crisis contained

People are so well meaning these days. Really, they are. I know they are. I know they don't know what to say, nor how to react. I'm just never sure what they want me to say when they ask how M is doing. How is M doing? He's dying. The details of any given day, week, or even month don't change his slow and steady march to the end of his journey. How is he supposed to be doing? How are we supposed to be doing?

We got Cipro into M combined with increasing his airway clearance and his rescue inhaler. His oxygen levels are now holding in the low 90s again. Yesterday, in tyical cystic fashion, he puked/coughed up about a third of a cup of nasty mucous. He's been able to move stuff along when he coughs since that point.

I can actually handle the well intentiond inquiries into how M is doing. It's the denial that I cannot handle. Those who insist that M will be healed, that every crisis averted means he somehow lives. Those who question my faith because I am coming to the point of acceptance in knowing my ten year old son will die before he turns eleven.

Really? Pray for us, offer good thoughts to the universe, ask us how we're doing, anything well intentioned and done with a compassionate heart I can tolerate. Just don't tell me he's going to make it. Especially don't demand to know why we're not chomping at the bit to hike hours away to the only medical center that does multi-viseral transplants. Even IF there were good odds that you can get a liver, small bowel AND lung transplant for a pediatric case, if still wouldn't help M qualify based upon his low IQ, his profound autism, and his Bipolar diagnosis. Even IF organ transplants were an option, I can't even get him to voluntarily swollow his digestive enzymes anymore. I don't see him tolerating the months of extremely intensive and invasive procedures it would take to get him into a transplant program, much less survive the afterward life of having replaced a large portion of his organs.

We choose to not seek organ transplant for M. It was the compassionate and loving option to give this child. His poor body has been through more torture and pain than most of us will ever experience in a lifetime. It was one gift of peace we had left to offer him, and one we willingly give to him.

So today, we have averted another medical crisis. I truly thought he might die this time. He came pretty darn close. However, we propped him up to live another day. That doesn't mean it's over and we rejoice. It means we live and wait for the next crisis, having to decide yet again how much is compassionate and how much is too much response. When do we let go, how do we let go. Above all, how do we protect him and his siblings.

This is not over. We are not through the challenge. Living is just as much torture for M as dying is. Being through the crisis means that M goes back to his daily living. It's not much of a life anymore. He will no longer eat or drink thus we must plug him into his g-tube four times a day. He must sit while we wait for the formula to go into his stomach because if we let him put it in the backpack, as we used to, he will take it apart and feed the ground to prevent the calories to enter his body. His body struggles to digest food now. So, after he eats he desperately wants to sleep. However, he fights food constantly. You cannot simly put him in his room to sleep. You have to determine how long after a feeding will it take for the bulk of the formula to leave his stomach. If you put him to bed too soon, he will promtly vomit the entire feed all over his bedroom floor.

He refuses to take his meds 90% of the time now. This means you must force them down his throat in the same manner you force a dog or cat to swallow pills. You push down on his lower jaw to open his mouth, put the meds into the back of the throat quickly, hold his jaw closed and sit there until he cooperates enough to swallow them. Frequently, you have to hold his jaw closed afterward because he will attempt to puke up his meds. Occasionally, he succeeds and you have to fish the truly important pills out of the vomit and start over.

He will no longer eat or drink but he's obssessed with water. His newest trick is that any glass of water you actually give him, he will dump onto the floor. Yet, he spends his day hunting water as if he is dying from parch, guzzling random glasses of unidentifiable liquid that don't belong to him, even drinking from the toilet if someone does not esort him and supervise him in there. It's bizarre and never-ending. His hospice aide is getting extremely frazzled by how this behavior is escalating now. She's never seen anything like this. She takes a glass of fresh water in every morning for him, and every morning she has to fight him out of the toilet instead. I'm just grateful that after years of doing it all alone she hangs in here even as his behaviors continue to escalate.

The first time he deliberately puked on his new teacher's materials, she was stunned. She had never experienced that before. Now, she recognizes the signs he's about to start and grabs her supplies and is done with schooling before he can get it up. School is still a huge motivator for him. About 60% of the time, he will choose to not vomit when he knows it will cost him school. Notice I said 60% of the time. That's good compliance for him now. The rest of the time, he will induce vomiting with vigor.

He has lost his potty training entirely. I finally put him back in pull-ups when he pooped all across the living room in retaliation because I would not let him go swimming with his siblings. They swim in a pond. It's not a safe place for him to swim, even if he were still physically able TO swim, and he's not. I decided the pull-ups would be more merciful for the rest of us. They contain most of the poop so we don't have it dripping all over our house. It doesn't contain it all, but it helps.

M has lost most of his words. He doesn't seem to remember how to speak when struggling with the slighest discontent anymore. He also has no concept of boundaries between him and others. Someone looks at him funny from across the room and he screams bloody murder and claims they are beating him. His autism is becoming more pronounced and not less now. He is forgetting how to navigate and interact with the world around him. He displays less of the anger he carried for so many years. Now, he's just lost and confused most of the time.

Added to this is his medical struggles. He hurts. He cannot tell me where or how, but he hurts. It hurts to breath. It hurts to cough. It hurts to be awake. It hurts to sleep. We give him Tramadol, one of the rare narcotics that does not shut down the gut so we can reduce the risk of a bowel obstruction. It relieves some of his pain, but it also causes symptoms of a physical addiction. I believe this is the primary cause that when M has enough oxygen and energy, he tends to fall back into raging and attacking us. Violence that we used to see every 6-8 weeks we see every other week or so now. We have regular psychiatric medications for him. We have overdosing protocals for emergencies. We have emergency psychiatric medications when those fail us. Then, we have big guns when we're faced with either controlling his raging....or heading to the Psychiatric hospital with him. Dying must hurt a great deal. For M, it is also terribly confusing and frightening. I use his anti-anxiety medications most liberally of all. I have a run of the mill anti-anxiety med he takes three times per day (and extra if necessary). I then have a big gun anti-anxiety med that he takes every night before bed and at least every third day during the day as well. When he starts to crash, it is not uncommon to give him that medication twice during the day.

I completely understand the need for a Palliative Care program. Not only do we need someone who can balance all of the struggles M faces as he journeys to the end, but we need a program where medications that ordinarily would be unheard of can be administered to comfort him and calm him.

M is dying. There is no stopping this process. That isn't even the focus of our choices anymore. Every day, we watch M be tortured by living. We comfort his siblings, coordinate their therapies for living through this. We manage his medical issues, do everything we can to calm him and comfort him. We ask ourselves how to proceed every day in a manner that honors what is left in M to stay alive, and in a manner that does not traumatize him nor his siblings more than necessary. Some days, we contemplate simply giving up. We could do that. No one would blame us. We could sign DNR orders, remove all life saving measures and wait for death. He would be gone within one month, without question. Certainly, Hospice wanted us to take this route when we got here. We could give up.

We strongly feel that some things we could do to give up would cause M pain and suffering. Anything that doesn't protect his lungs and fight for his ability to breath is worse than the torture of daily living is to him. We are very protective of fighting to keep his lungs functioning. We are less aggressive on his liver. Yet, so far, if we insist upon protecting his lungs, his liver holds on to fight another day. Until his liver stops fighting, we keep fighting. We know the final outcome of this journey. We just have to get there with the least torture for M and his siblings.

Today, we averted another crisis. We supported his lungs, moved the concrete-like mucous out and got him breathing again. We brought him back to his torture of daily instead. We live to the next crisis point again. This time, we have prepared and thought out. The next crisis is when we must tell M that he is dying. When that happens, he may give up living. We have to be prepared to let him go if that is the right thing to do. I'm not certain I am ready. I know we made it through this weekend. It apears we'll make it through this week and next week we will throw hard-core antibiotics at his lungs via his veins again. That will support his lungs for awhile, which will hold the crisis situation at bay again for awhile. It will come again. Each time, it becomes harder to respond, harder to keep him comfortable, harder to know what the right choice is, and harder to bring his health back to stable.

Friday, June 22, 2012

So fast

M's liver was crashing end of last week. He started his antibiotics to support them and we restablized him. Then, two days ago, he got a cold. It's just a common cold. I'm completely miserable with this same cold, in fact. However, his poor body cannot fight this.

On the first day, he coughed and slept a lot. Yesterday, he started crashing. By bedtime, his oxygen levels had dropped to 81%. Truthfully, I have never seen his oxygen levels go that low before, never. It was so bad, he was on the cusp of realizing he is dying.

He is still coughing, but he cannot move anything out. He is coughing until he turns red in the face and nearly passes out, but nothing moves. That tells me that the mucous from his cold has fed the bacteria in his lungs and it has now set up like concrete inside his lungs. There's only a couple of ways to get that out. We use breathing treatments to help him move the mucous out. It's long and complicated, and only a Cystic family would recognize most of what I would be describing. Suffice it to say that when healthy M does two sessions a day of both lung clearance and inhaled medications that lasts nearly an hour to help him clear his lungs. When he gets this sick, we have to do parts of that treatment four times per day to try and help him move more out. We started that yesterday evening. The other thing we can do is given antibiotics to break up the growing bacteria again.

We will never get all of the bacteria out of M's lungs. Most of us get any invasive bacteria in our lungs and it's called pnuemonia. Most cystics live with colonies of invasive bacteria in their lungs. Therefore, when they grow more than usual, it's called a lung exacerbation. M grows Psuedamonas in his lungs. It's a horrifying bacteria to be infected with, no matter where it invades. It's one of the two most horrifying for a Cystic to have. Ten-ish years ago, an inhaled antibiotic came onto the market that allowed Cystics who colonize this bacteria to live longer than the four year life expectancy they used to have once it showed up. Many cystics, like M, developed an immunity to this antibiotic. Last summer, a new inhaled antibiotic finally came on the market. Until last month, M was using it every other month to try and control his bacteria.

M is extremely resistent to his inhaled antibiotics, far more than his other breathing treatments. We weren't even successfully getting a 50% compliance rate on the antibiotics anymore. Meanwhile, this antibiotic is in extremely, EXTREMELY short supply. They stopped filling new prescriptions of this by first of this year. Six months after it was released, the Cystics desperate for hope to stay alive flooded the maker far beyond their capability to produce this drug. We became acutely aware of the fact that while M is running out of time faster than we can stop his clock, every dose of that druge he dumped and wasted was another life that could successfully stop their clock and were desperately seeking the meds to do so.

We made the decision to stop M's inhaled antibiotics. The inhaled antibiotics are the ONLY thing that will halt the progression fo his Psuedamonas ultimately. That leaves us only IV antibiotics to control his bacteria, and those have limited effectiveness. He was supposed to start them first of July anyway. He's advanced so far in his CF disease that the only option we have is to give him IV antibiotics every three months to support his lungs.

Except, this cold has hit M like a ton of bricks and he cannot fight it. Last night, he couldn't breath. Turns out, when his oxygen drops below 85%, he doesn't fight and rage. He simply struggles to stay awake at that point. II and I spent most of the night debating how hard do we fight this time. Do we fight to clear his lungs, or merely keep him comfortable? Do we get really aggressive and start his IVs a week early? What is the right answer to this? The only thing I know for sure is that if we make it out of this crisis, it won't be the last time we have to grapple with these decisions.

Today's plan is a compromise, at least for now. By far, the biggest challenge with M is his own fight against everything that would help him stay alive. Keeping oxygen tubing on him is a never-ending nightmare. Even so, today we are keeping him on oxygen. After morning breathing treatments, I was able to pull him back to 2L of oxygen instead of 3L, but still oxygen. We're increasing parts of his breathing treatments to four times per day. We are also starting him on oral antibiotics for the next week. If we decide to start the IVs early, his pulmonologist will start the process as soon as we ask for it. If he's not better by Monday, we may be there.

The hardest part of this dilemma is the fact that his LUNGS are not killing him. He has advanced lung disease from his CF, but it wouldn't be killing him yet. It's his liver killing him right now. Adult Cystics have described the sensation of breathing on advance cystic lungs as akin to scraping the lungs with glass shards, which is far worse when struggling with a lung exacerbation. So, though we struggle against his desire to not fight, we also have to balance that not supporting his lungs is one of the most terrifying and painful things he can endure. Above all else, we're committed to controlling his pain. There is no way to control his pain without supporting his lungs, despite his massive efforts to resist us on the lungs in ways he will tolerate liver treatments.

There is no good answer. Today, we are on a vigil. Right now, I am keeping him with his oxygen levels in the low 90s and we have a plan of action to try to support him through this viral cold infection. It may or may not work. We may or may not choose to get more aggressive. For the moment, he sleeps on his beanbag chair in the living room. II is sleeping on the couch and I've turned the Pappassaon into my spot for this vigil. Maybe we'll know by Monday which way this is going. I'm not certain it's going to go a good direction at this point. The child is losing what little will to live he had. We cannot fight HIM to keep him alive through many more crisis points.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

She called me a cheater!

I have spent the last three months in constant battle with the program from which I am hoping to complete my Bachelor's of Nursing. It has been an absolute nightmare. Among the issues they have created is that they misfiled my original nursing school transcripts under my maiden name, despite my declaring that they would find records under my maiden name. They lost a transcript for a class as well, took three weeks and the Registrar's office to set the straight before they "found" that one. So, I finally got it straightened out, got the admission acceptance and the required deposit submitted.

I was then informed that I missed the deadline for the earlier required orientation class. They lock you out of any other classes until you complete the orientation, and they set me in one that would lock me into only being able to do that one class in the semester, one three hour course. Federal financial aid requires you take at least six hours in a semester. I do not have an employer that can nor will pay for my classes. I am self-pay right now. If I can't take at least six hours, I can't attend.

I called the nursing program to see if they would authorize me to take 1-2 classes concurrently with the orientation course, given that my background is *not* the typical background for their incoming students. Most of their students hold either an Associates in Nursing or a Diploma. They don't have their general education requirements and are admitted into the nursing program to complete their Bachelors, getting their general education classes while they also get their nursing classes. I don't fit that profile at all.

I needed a program that was primarily online, though I specifically wanted preceptorships in person. I know there are bridge programs that skip that portion, but I felt that component was important. Outside of clinicals though, I needed my dyadic coursework to be online due to the issues M is having at this point. I needed a program that was non-profit, as I would sooner not pursue my education than use a for-profit program, even if I could find one acceptable in both my current state and the state we moved from and might return to next year. Finally, I needed a program that didn't have a difference in tuition for instate versus out of state students. I don't qualify for in-state yet, and if we move back to where we came from, I wouldn't qualify for in-state at the end of the program either. I didn't want my nursing program to rule out the possibility of going home for us but requiring me to stay present for instate status, or in-person classwork. Lastly, I needed a program willing to work with my Statistics and Chemistry issues. I have never taken Stats. Instead, I have three semesters of social science research methods. It's far more indepth than a basic statistics course, but if you don't look directly at it and simply use checklists, it will disqualify me. Also, while I have the first semester of inorganic Chemistry, I made a C. Yeah....that was the class that I had just come out of AP Chemistry and hated the 300 student lecture hall when the entire grade was the average of the mid-term and final exams. So, I never went to class and managed to pull off a C based solely off the material I had learned in high school. I'm not proud of it, but that's the reality off that grade, from 18 years ago. So, I needed a program that didn't require two semesters of Chemistry before admitting me. It didn't matter if they didn't require it, or if they allow you to do it concurrently with the program, or whatever. I just needed to not need it done *before* I started.

So, I narrowed my search down to two programs and I applied to this one. I got in, and it was supposed to run smoothly from that point onward. Then they messed up my orientation class, which would completely disqualify me for financial aid. All I asked for was permission to take at least one other course so I could get my financial aid. I attempted to reason with the Program Director that with ten hours of online courses under my belt and the extensive experience in my family, I know how to learn in an online formatting. I was then informed that the orientation class was not just about teaching me how to use the online formatting.

Nope, the mandatory orientation course is required to teach me how to use library resources for research, how to write in APA formatting, and how to build writing skills sufficient for a Bachelor's degree program. Therefore, it was impossible to allow me to take anything with my orientation class.

Yippee skippee, it was the Enlish department all over again! I explained to her that my research paper which was accepted and submitted for the SEUSS symposium clearly demonstrates my ability to do academic research. I am fluent in far more than merely APA citation formatting, and proceeded to list off the ones I am well versed in. I assured her that my academic record over the last two years clearly demonstrates that I am not her average student, and listed those accomplishments for her. I then offered to submit a writing sample to assure her that my writing skills are more than sufficient for the task at hand.

All I wanted was a waiver to take at least one other class with the orientation course so I can get financial aid. That's IT. She agreed to reviewing a writing sample. Ever the overachiever, I submitted my 19 page final paper for Social Theory that was on Symbolic Interactionism, the Criminology paper that was presented at SEUSS, and a random final paper from a history class to demonstrate my ability to write across different disciplines. I offered to provide works in other disciplines or creative writing samples if she desired and I offered to provide her with academic references to assure her of my capabilities.

She gave me a waiver to take Statistics with my orientation class. Technically, this program had accepted my research methods in lieu of statistics. However, about half of the master's programs I am interested in specifically require statistics in addition to the Bachelor's in Nursing. I had intended to take statistics regardless simply so that I don't need to seek a waiver when I apply for my master's coursework. Technically, she gave me what I asked for.

If all she had done was that, we would be fine, end of discussion. What was NOT okay was the "advice" she included with her waiver permission.

•With respect to your writing, you do not paraphrase, you are advised that papers can only be 10% direct quotes. There are also errors involving the placement of punctuation in parenthetical citations, and those errors will need to be worked out in orientation.

•I will consult with Dr. M or Dr. V, whoever will be your statistics instructor, if you are meeting writing expectations for the course.

•We expect our students demonstrate integrity; I understand you have family who are ready to assist you but your works needs to clearly be your own.

Okay, point number one is just plain old pissy. Furthermore, when you realize that two of the three papers I submitted to her were in ASA and not APA formatting, you immediately recognize her complain about punctuation in cituations *if* you are versed in the differences between these two styles. ASA to the uninformed eye basically looks like lazy APA. I thought of that when I submitted. However, I wrote those papers for senior sociology classes. ASA was the appropriate formatting for them, and I wasn't going to go reformat them to submit them to her for this writing sample. As for the quotations, different disciplines have different requirements and expectations. It's disingenious to judge two other disciplines by their expectations both as a discipline and as a department. It's easily fixed by merely telling me what your expectations ARE and I will conform to them immediately when I write for YOU.

My admission to the statistics courses is entirely dependent upon the professor agreeing that my writing is sufficient for a sophomore statistics course? Pardon me while I laugh there. I've known a lot of nursing students and a lot of math students. I would be beyond shocked to be informed that my writing skills are sub-par for a sophomore statistics course. However, if it makes her feel better, go right ahead and show the professor my writing style. Never had a mathematics professor complain about my writing before but perhaps that is because mathematics is primarily about manipulating numbers and not words. There was that one calculus proffessor who begged me to consider becoming an engineer instead of continuing to major in sociology. My algebra professor didn't rqeuire writing skills at all, and my research methods course required formuliac writing. There wasn't exactly room for creative writing skills when learing how to use SPSS and very specific research reports. In fact, I'm not certain a statistics professor even wants to wade through a 19 page social theory paper in the first place and will likely simply say okie dokie rather than survive that experience.

However, it is point number three that literally stops me in my tracks.

We expect our students demonstrate integrity; I understand you have family who are ready to assist you but your works needs to clearly be your own.

WTF? Tell me please that the PhD Director of Nursing did NOT just say what it apears she said. Oh, when I responded, offering her both academic references to attest to my academic skills but also the contact information for the three specific professors those three writing samples were submitted to, so that they could confirm I subumitted them, I earned As on them, and those papers were 100% consistent with my normal writing style and academic performance for their classes, yeah after I said that of course she didn't say what it appears she said. Just for posterity's sake, I most definitely saved those emails. Essentially, what she is saying is that my writing samples were far, far too advanced for their typical student in her program. Therefore, her logical conclusion is that I CHEATED, not that I really am far advanced from her normal student and did it all MYSELF.

I don't cheat. If you intend to accuse me of cheating, you'd better have more than your own snotty attitude to back that insult up. Not only did I save the whole conversation in case she accuses me again while I am in her nursing program, if she makes such an unfounded and without basis accusation again, I will file a formal complaint for it. Do NOT accuse me of cheating. Those are fighting words!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

This is normal?

It feels strange to have children out on summer break instead of simply moving to half day academics to accomodate for the heat and the desire to play in the sun more over the summer months. I set up a summer rules list for the public schoolers. I reserved the right to put them into homeschooling if they were to show up bored and unble to entertain themselves, or seeking to do nothing but veg in front of screens for the summer. However, the actual homeschoolers this summer are only three. S is in homeschooling for the summertime because the summer school being offered at his school is far above his academic skills. The school specifically requested that I work with him on core academics this summer to continue his progress to try to get up to grade level. The other two homeschoolers are my two middle schoolers who have learning challenges and thus I have choosen to continue to homeschool them.

In the fall, I will still be homeschooling three. However, S will go to public school and L is coming home to homeschool. I have discovered that after all of these years, I still have a fundamental difference in philosophy on how kinder education occurs in this country. I am very unhappy that Kindergarten through third grade is all about learning to read and do mathematics. There is practically no focus on other subjects and just as little attention paid to improving writing skills. I want my children to learn to read because they want to, and not because it is a forced requirement before they can gain access to knowledge. I want their learning to be based upon their own desire to learn, hampered only by their own quest and nudged to protect the basics if it appears they are missing something.

I have made the decision that I will homeschool the final two babies through their elementary years. I find no purpose for word and math drills except to do busy work. If you understand the concepts of math, and you have a love of reading so that you devour books, you have learned far more than speed drills will ever hope to teach you. If you learn science, history, social studies and other matters while learning to read, then you will simply learn to read side by side with your other learning then you will seek learning out for it's own sake and not merely to accomplish a task. This is what I have taught my older children that has allowed them to be so successful when they transitioned into public schooling. This is what I want to teach these last two babies so they too will have a strong foundation to frame their educational edeavors upon. I will homeschool them. It's not for a liftime with them, but it is to lay their foundations. In the fall, L will join C and Ch in the homeschooling. She has specifically requested she get her summer off and aside from reading books, that's what I'll do with her.

In the meantime, I'm really not sure what to do with a bunch of bored children for nearly three months. M's status is so unstable that we cannot do many outside activities. There will be a few activities, maybe a weekend we can camp-out and convince the nanny to keep M for us. I cannot keep them constantly busy and active. I'm really unsure what I am going to do this summer with all of these kids. I may simply put them back into homeschooling simply so they don't drive me insane. We've never done a summer break before, and I'm not convinced any of this is going to go over well.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How we roll

So, the saga of our fosterchild continues. I really thought the last story about S would be that he went back to his home state, moved in with the safe and loving family that was *not* his original adoptive home. They would adopt him, he would be safe and secure, and he could work on recovery.

Until the original adoptive parents began to fear someone was going to call the state on them. They then began to discuss bringing S back into their home NOT to reconcile their family or because they realized they were wrong to treat a child like trash, but to avoid a state investigation. At that point, many someones felt compelled to call the state and report the situation rather than allow this child to be lost into the nightmare from whence he had come out.

At some point in the story, someone let this teen understand that HIS voice is the one that counts. The state declined to open a formal case on this child, provided the original adoptive parents make a permenant placement him that was not in their own home. They were forbidden to return him to their home ever again, or he would formally be removed for fostercare, along with the biological children in the home they dearly wanted to protect because they felt they were *different* than this child.

S got up one day last week and declared that if he got to have a say in his future, then he was demanding he come back to us and be adopted by us. So, the state, the family he was residing with, and a lot of support characters worked to halt a train and let him get off at the stop he choose for himself.

S is home. This time, he will stay permenantly. He asked us to adopt him. He wants to be a part of this family. Ordinarily, I would encourage a teen of his age to consider a permenant guardianship instead of starting an entirely new adoption. However, the first adoption of S was bungled badly and it puts this child at legal risk. The only way to correct those issues is for someone to re-adopt him. It could be the first adoptive family, but they are not ever going to do this. They deliberately bundled the adoption in the first place on him. The only other alternative is for someone else to adopt him before his 18th birthday and permenantly fix the mess they made of his status and legal situation. Thus, adoption we will pursue for his sake and upon his request. We have six months before we can do that process. For now, we have legal custody and legal guardianship. They are both informal at this moment in time. We have the necessary paperwork and instructions to make it formal through the courts. However, we are delaying in that step in the hopes we can convince the first adoptive parents to cooperate in the far more important need for them to formally relinquish him for adoption to us. They have sort of done this, but it is not in a form legally accepted in our state.

Now was NOT the time for another adoption. It was not the time to add a very hungry and hurting teenager into our home. It was most definitely not the time to find funds for a lawyer and homestudy that we don't have in the least right now. However, when a child knocks at your door and begs you to help them, you don't turn that child down. You don't tell a child for whom you *do* have the talents and resources to help, that you cannot be bothered by the inconvenience they bring to your life. Instead, you rejoice at the beauty and blessing of this child and you open your hearts and your home to this child.

S is an exile of the Quiverful, Patriachal cult as much as we are. His damage and pain is much deeper than ours. We were the adults. We protected our children and when we realized the damage being done to us, we got ourselves out. S had no one to protect him. The adults who swore to protect him hurt him instead. So, now we help another exile to heal.

This is how we roll. This is the gift God has given me. Now, the funds to pay for this, yeah, we won't have that until September or October, but we'll trust that it will come. This one final child to the tribe will not be turned away over the lack of funds. The life of a hurting child is worth far, far more than the funds we must safe and scrap to pay for the lawyer and homestudy it will require to permenantly protect him from the past he hsa finally escaped.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The price I paid

Last night, II was asking why I insist upon walking with an injured foot. He would prefer I rest and let it heal. I explained to him yet again that it's not so much I want to walk, but I MUST walk. Walking is the only thing I can do to help my asthma beyond following the doctor's orders and taking lots of asthma meds. Not only can I walk to help, but it's working. Since I started walking, I have been breathing better than I have in years. I am simply not willing to lose the progress on my breathing, not even for an injured foot. So, I must walk to continue to rehabilitate my lungs and allow me to function in the hope that someday it will assist me in reclaiming what I lost of my health in this journey.

In the midst of this discussion, I mentioned to II that a long-time friend announced last week she is pregnant with number 9. She is one of the few quiverful friends who didn't completely disown me when I left, but she has distanced herself dramatically from me in the years since I walked another path. She wants people to be happy for baby 9. She worries that people will be cruel. Granted, no baby deserves to be met with hatred, but I cannot bring myself to say something positive and uplifting to her.

This same friend has spent the last two pregnancies being followed by a Cardiologist. She's done at least three stints in ICUs in the last three years because she has developed significant heart complications. The doctors have flat-out told her that the stress of these preganncies is destroying her heart. If she does not stop having babies, she will kill herself. She knows this. She's processed this information with me repeatedly. Yet, she's embarking on her third high risk pregnancy whereby she will be required to be followed by a cardiologist and will likely end up in the ICU at some point.

Not only that, but she has decided she doesn't like giving birth the hospital, which if you are in quiverful long enough, you recgnize that is a massive trend in QF circles. Truly faithful women give birth at home and don't go to the hospital. However, my friend cannot afford a midwife. Her last baby was an unassisted homebirth. I have no doubt in my mind that she intends the same this time as well. That means, when she goes into cardiac arrest while giving birth, there will be no one there trained to even recgonize what is happening, much less perform CPR and call 911.

They have unrealible phone service, when her husband is even working and they can afford phone service in the first place. Their closest neighbors are far too far off to have a rapid rseponse to emergency personnel. Her husband has had unreliable employment for years now. They only have a house because his family purchased it for them, so the children would be in a better situation. I suspect her homeschooling amounts to not school at this point. I can't prove it, but I strongly suspect it and have for years.

I cannot say positive things to my friend. So, I have said nothing. I cannot stop the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that makes me feel this time might be her last time. This time might truly end in death. As I was examining qf and trying to decide if I truly wanted to continue in the paradigm, there was an increasing trend. QF mothers in their 30s tend to die in the circles that practice qf. They don't often die in childbirth, as that is the one time they are actually generally being followed by caregivers, even if they are unlicensed midwives. However, there is a growing trend in the qf circles of apparently healthy mothers in their 30s to die within 6-12 months of a grand-multi para birth (greater than five births by one woman). The reasons for their deaths are always varied and quickly suppressed. However, I personally knew dozens of women in the movement who died. Cancers, stroke and heart conditions were the three most common reasons they would stop thriving. The story was almost always the same. I fear my friend is close to joining those ranks. She's only 29-30 now. She started having babies in her late teens and I truly think by her mid-30s she will be another one lost to prove their faith in the Lord. I will not celebrate that.

It was the price I was paying that finally caused us to leave quiverful, before we abandoned the paradigm entirely. Last night, I actually tallied up that price.

After my third live birth (plus two miscarriages), my thyroid started to become unstable. It was then that my weight began to escalate at a frightening pace. I began to keep a food journal. I continued to do kickboxing and walked daily yet my weight only continued to rise and never fall. After my fourth live birth (still at two miscarriages) my thyroid went kaput. Even while tracking milk production for tandem nursing, my weight went up even faster. I thoought it was because I had stopped exercising, simply too exhausted to continue anymore. I still wasn't eating, but I wasn't moving anymore either. By the time they diagnosed my thyroid condition, I had gained 100 pounds, the same pounds I continue to fight to this day (it's easy to put on pounds when you are hypothyriod but the only "easy" way to get them off is to go hyperthyroid and I won't do that because of the risk to my heart in doing so).

After baby number five (and now up to three miscarriages), I was diagnosed with a clotting disorder. It was always there, but it also impacts my health significantly, since the hormones of pregnancy increase my clotting factors and increase all kinds of health risks. We tried to avoid baby number five because of the health risks, but we were still far enough into that world that the only "acceptable" birth control was Natural Family Planning, which failed miserably. After her, I showed signs of adrenal fatigue. My blood pressure was rising. I could not breathe properly anymore. I started taking vitamin D for very low levels, and high dose folic acid for my clotting disorder. I continued to battle problems with my thyroid that were not resolving well. I started treating my ADHD, as having that many children meant that a lifetime of coping skills would no longer work for me, no matter how hard I tried.

After that baby, we knew and fully understood that the price of continued births would be my health and possibly my death. We went through serious efforts to prevent pregnancy. I had not one, but three IUDs placed over the course of a year. The first was progesterone and dried up my milk. The second was expelled with an ovarian cyst. The third just failed miserably. I suffered a massive ovarian cyst. It was described as the size of a medium eggplant when it was finally removed. Until they went in, the doctor thought it was two cysts. It turned out it was one massive one, twisted to look like two on the ultrasounds. They had to filet me from hipbone to hipbone to remove the thing. It had already begun to rupture, which would explain the pain so severe that I was puking and screaming in the ER despite being on dilaudid every 45-50 minutes. That cyst began as the corpus callosum from L's pregnancy. When a pregnancy occurs after ovulation, the spot on the ovary where the egg was released stays in a small cyst until the placenta forms and takes over the hormones to maintain the pregnancy. It's supposed to resolve during the pregnancy. Mine just kept growing until it landed me in a medical crisis. I lost my right ovary and fallopian tube from that one, yet another sacrifice to the concept of quiverful.

In J's pregnancy, my blood pressure bit the dust finally. I was forced to go on blood pressure medications by the end of the pregnancy. So, to the thyroid meds, the ADHD meds, the folic acid, and the vitamin D, I added a blood pressure med. It wasn't the end of the price I paid, sadly.

It took nearly two years after J was born to restabilize my thyroid. It was never as functional as it had been before him though. Nothing brought back my ability to breathe though. When he was just over a year, I was formally diagnosed with asthma. I probably had it my entire life, but it reached a level that had to be formally diagnosed at that point. I added a rescue inhaler to my medications. In my last two pregnancies, I developed bizarre new allergies. It's not that surprising. It's indicative of an out of whack immune system. They strongly believe my thyroid issues began as Hashimoto's Disease in the first place, so allergies are consistent with the same processes in my body. I now have life threatening allergies to tree nuts and bananas (also latex since latex protiens are identical to banana protiens). I now carry an epi-pen and benadryl in a medical bag in my purse, along with my rescue inhaler.

In the last year, my asthma has reached a point where it was impossible to breath anymore, not merely just a struggle but life threatening. I am now on long-acting inhaled steriods for my asthma. I also display significant environmental allergies that trigger my asthma. I'm on an anti-histamine daily so I can breath well. When I made the decision to switch thyroid meds, I wanted to optimize helping support my thyroid health. Selenium can be vital for the body to absorb thyroid hormones, especially when you take biological hormones and not synthetics, as I have choosen this spring to do. So, I have added selenium to my medication regiment.

At 22, when we embarked upon this journey, I was in excellent health. I took antihistamines occasionally for environmental allergies and occasionally if I had not been exercising faithfully I would have to start slow and rebuild my tolerance to be able to breath sufficiently. That was it. Everything that has come has been a direct result of 13.5 years of continous pregnancy and breastfeeding, often at the same time, often tandem nursing. The price I have paid for that lifestyle is staggering. I'm lucky. I held onto my life, my sanity, my marriage, and I've reclaimed my self worth. Those in the lifestyle are fully aware of the price every woman in that world pays. To quiverful, a woman's only worth is her uterus. Paying the price she pays in every other way to worship her reproductive abilities merely proves her worth as a woman. If she dies, then she has proven herself the MOST worthy of the mothers. Plus, there are others willing to step into her shoes, to mother her orphaned children, and to carry on the mission of glorifying God and Husband by paying the price of worshipping the uterus.

I walked today, despite how hard it was, how long it took, and the fact that I need a walking stick to help me. I walked because I want to breathe, and just as importantly I want to reclaim as much of the sacrifice I made for that ill-concieved theology as I possibly can now that I see how insane it truly was. Walking is a slow step of fighting to give back to ME what shouldn't have been lost the way it was.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The verdict

I cannot flex or extend my big toe without significant pain. I cannot weight bear on the ball of my foot. However, the verdict from the Urgent Care is that while the swelling is so bad that it blocks a clear view of the bones, it doesn't appear the bone is broken. That means, at most I have a hairline fracture, but they treat that the same was as simply a contusion with soft tissue damage--wrapped and good support shoes.

I can walk slowly, but at least possible. I have to put all of my weight on the heel and the outer edge of my foot. So, for now, I will continue with Alleve, keep the foot wrapped and elevated when not walking on it. I will continue my walking. My lungs need that exercise too desperately to not. Otherwise, I'm just back to not walking more than my daily walk if I can avoid it, and definitely back to not being able to climb the stairs in my house. My bedroom is not upstairs, fortunately. However, my children are totally taking advantage over the fact that this will make the second month that I cannot climb the stairs to their bedrooms. Sigh. It always seems to be something around here.

Friday, June 8, 2012

What else, Lord?

There are times in my life when the bad luck truly reachs comic proportions. Today is one of those days.

I spent the last two weeks trying to help the family that S went to and protect that child from an adoptive family who realized after they sent that child homeless into the world that no one else would agree with how terrific their behaviora was. Their response after they moved S to the next family was to try to take them back and do who knows what to this child. So, we had to start making calls to the state. As the one with the most information and most of it first hand, I had to make a report, and provide evidence. That took two days of my life and lots of stress.

Then, we got the horrible news from II's doctor.

Tonight, we were dealing with M in a rage. They are sadly not that uncommon. However there were three adults moving around in a small space trying to contain him. II asked what time it was so the nanny/roommate pulled out her phone to check. She dropped it directly onto the top of my foot. Judging from the excruciating I feel when I release extending the big toe, I'm guessing it's likely got a small crack or chip on the bone. I have it wrapped and iced now. I'm not sure if I can weight bear, as I haven't gotten brave enough to try yet. For now, I just keep it iced and elevated. I guess I'll truly assess the damage when I go walking tomorrow morning.

The end of an era and going out with a bang

When we were quiverful, I truly thought tht I would never stop having babies. I gave birth three times (and suffered two miscarriages) then I experienced secondary infertility. It didn't bother me so much at first because in those four years we completed two internaional adoptions. If anything, I saw that infertility as an easy solution to the reality that I would have had to try to avoid pregnancies during those adoptions, or lose children I had committed to bringing home. When my doctor fixed my thyroid issues, he also fixed my infertility. I suffered yet another miscarriage and began to wonder if my heart wasn't done. Then, I got pregnant with L. Everyone was thrilled.

From the very beginning, I knew something was amiss in L's pregnancy. By 14 weeks, she was diagnosed with IntraUterine Growth Retardation. The OB had never actually heard of a baby being diagnosed so early. However, I had been tracking my temperatures and cycles. Since I had been infertile and then had the miscarriage, I wasn't sure what my body was doing, so I had been tracking it. Due to that, my dates were absolutely accurate and the perinatalogist was comfortable accepting my dates. She poured over my temperature chart as much as I did and then diagnosed the IUGR on L. By 18 weeks, we were on high risk protocals. By 20 weeks, I was informed that if at any point after 24 weeks she failed to grow in a week, because I was on weekly checks with the perinatalogist, they would take her out early. She hoovered at 5% in her growth until 32 weeks. Suddenly, she started to grow, first to 9%, then 12% then 27% and ultimately all the way to 80% according to her ultrasounds. Ironically, after all of that stress and worry, she was born at 40 weeks and weighed 7lb13oz.

A high risk pregnancy changed everything for me. That was when I started moving away from quiverful. Dragging all five of my children to perinatalogy appointments every week, worrying about whether my baby was going to be born safe or not, worrying that every other pregnancy was going to be the same. When I hemmoraghed at her birth, I knew I was done and ready to leave quiverful permenantly. However, we delayed on doing something permenant until we had adopted M. At that point, everyone told me that after M died I would want another baby to pour love into. I wasn't convinced I would but I wasn't ready to rule out the wisdom of everyone who knew me. So, we did an IUD instead.

For those who know the story, the IUD was a collossal failure. God sent J and laughed at my plans. Originally, I thought God sent J so that he would know M. I realize now that God sent J to make us laugh through this journey with M. However, both J and I nearly died. The birth was beyond traumatic. J was induced at 35 weeks and ended up in a surgical birth, simply unwilling to cooperate and tolerate being forced out so early. M had beaten me up so often and so severely that my body was shutting down from the stress. J's placenta was at the front, top of my uterus and the doctors feared that M's sudden focus on attacking me exactly where it was attached was going to result in a dead baby if we waited even another day. I bled so severely I required blood transfusions. J struggled with so many health issues in his first six months that were directly related to being a late-term preemie. There was no question we were done having babies. My body would not tolerate it again. We left quiverful, quickly realizing that there was no mercy for situations such as ours in the paradigm. I had seen a growing trend in quiverful circles of mothers dying in their mid-30s, sometimes in childbirth and sometimes simply without warning or good explanation within six months of having given birth. I knew in my heart if we continued I would be one of them.

The timing of our leaving was fortuitous, given what I would discover a mere eight months later that would complete our exodus from that world forever. We lost a lot of friends, lost our church, lost a lot of our understanding of our lives. I lost my outlook for what my life would look like. Instead of a future where I would always have babies and toddlers, I would have a future where I actually left that season behind me. Of course, J was a mere baby. The idea of leaving that season was something vague for my future.

Soon, my oldest child turns 16. Except for L and J, all of my children are now formally and officially pre-teens and teens. M is developmentally 3-4. However, he is biologically a pre-teen. He is also entering the final days of his life. He will not be a child I actively parent in five years. I have no babies. My last baby is potty trained. He sleeps through the night in his own bed, in his own room. He does wear a pull-up at night still, but he is the last one to do so. There was a point in time when I had four children in nighttime pull-ups. There was more than one season when I had three children in diapers.

This week baby J was formally diagnosed with asthma. I knew this was coming. He had his first asthma attack without warning when he was 15 months old. Until we moved, he only had struggles when he got respiratory infections. Since moving, he has had nearly daily symptoms, exercise induced attacks, and struggled to breath several nights a week without ceasing. I remember my baby brother, the one I raised for LMB, and his struggles to breathe at this age. I remember going through this before and not knowing what I was looking at. This time, I knew. I knew when J was requiring his rescue inhaler several days a week and often more than once in a day, it was time to see a specialist. LMB waited until my brother nearly died at 7 before she sought out professional help. As a physician, she merely prescribed meds herself and treated it herself for years....she wasn't very good at it. She was an ER doctor, good at settling an immediate threat to life and longevity but really bad at figuring out how to prevent them from coming and maintaining good lung care. That I might make the same mistake as her was never even a consideration. However, walking this path again with a little guy was not in my plans for my life.

Still, walking this path with my baby, knowing that there are lots of big siblings whose eyes can be trained to watch his breathing with me is different. Knowing that I won't have to balance a pregnancy or a new baby against his needs to be healthy and breathing. Knowing that I struggle with the same issues and can help him comforts me. His pulmonologist felt that this is a culmination of my poor genetics imparted to him and aftermath of his own late-term preemie status. I remember reading when he was born that late-term preemies had significantly higher rates of asthma and lung disease than other babies, including younger preemies who got more aggressive treatments to protect their lungs than these babies. It's not really surprising this would be part of the legacy for this sweet little dude. Teaching him to tolerate the twice daily treatments....well, let's just say mama bear put in a text to hero Uncle D to ask if he can take a tiny bit of time out from being a Champion today to be Uncle D and encourage baby J to tolerate his treatments. I know Uncle D. He'll do it for his little nephew guy.

Also, after forgetting to do his new maintenance inhalers for two days, I got a tune for my phone that is uniquely his. I got Alvin and the Chipmunks singing, "Shake your Groove Thing," and I set it for 8am and 7pm for reminders on the phone. If I can just convince him that it's okay to do this, even when he's not actually struggling to breathe.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Just don't

You Don't Own Me --Leslie Gore You don't own me, I'm not just one of your many toys You don't own me, don't say I can't go with other boys

And don't tell me what to do And don't tell me what to say And please, when I go out with you Don't put me on display, 'cause

You don't own me, don't try to change me in any way You don't own me, don't tie me down 'cause I'd never stay

Oh, I don't tell you what to say I don't tell you what to do So just let me be myself That's all I ask of you

I'm young and I love to be young I'm free and I love to be free To live my life the way I want To say and do whatever I please

A-a-a-nd don't tell me what to do Oh-h-h-h don't tell me what to say And please, when I go out with you Don't put me on display

I don't tell you what to say Oh-h-h-h don't tell you what to do So just let me be myself That's all I ask of you

I'm young and I love to be young I'm free and I love to be free To live my life the way I want

When bad things happen, I have found that people want to stop you from feeling raw emotions and pain. The most common response is to tell me not to worry. Having survived Quiverful and Patriarchal Christianity that says you aren't allowed to feel ANY emotions but happy and positive, I can assure you that this approach is the wrong approach. As well meaning as it feels to tell anyone not to feel something, think something, or even to worry, it's invalidating and insulting.

As uncomfortable as feelings are, there are nothing more than feelings. Every person on this earth has a right to have their own feelings, to own those feelings, and to have others respect their right to have those feelings.

There are exactly two events in my life that knocked me off my ability to function. The first involved being raped, stalked, impregnated, thrown out of my home, and ultimately placed the child for adoption. The second was discovering that my spouse had cheated on me with at least 40 women. My life seems to be about if it can go wrong, then it will. Yet, I continue forward and normally adapt the mentality that "It is what it is." II's appointment is not until July. The chances that this news will knock me off my feet, at least until we know what is truly going on, is non-existent. That doesn't mean I won't struggle emotionally. I have a right to my feelings.

So, when you find yourself with someone you love having something truly horrible happening in their life, here is some education. Don't tell them what to do. Don't tell them it will be okay. You cannot possibly know that. Don't minimize what they are feeling. Don't immediately move to make yourself less uncomfortable because where they are is uncomfortable. Validate them. Listen to them. Love on them. If they would appreciate it, offer to pray for them. Ask what you can do to help them. It's not hard. It just starts by respecting their right and need to process through whatever they are facing with authenticity and without being told what to do. It's really that simple.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Can't breath

Two and a half years ago, when I first learned of II's betrayal, I used to cry out to God to just let him die. It wasn't that I honestly wanted him dead. It was that it seemed easier to grieve losing him to death than healing from the pain he had caused me. I didn't mean it. I didn't ever actually want him dead.

II has a mutated toe. Second toe of his left foot is twice the size of his big toe and mangled. It appears to have no bones in it. It has been there since he was born and has always been a source of pride for him. When he told me last summer that it was growing, I thought he was crazy. When he told me again in the fall, I told him to see a doctor. Then, everything happened this spring with M and we had to move, stablize him, resettle all of the children. It wasn't that either of us were ignoring his health. It just seemed to be a lower priority than everything else we were juggling. When he told me he was struggling for his shoes to fit properly, I finally looked at it and saw he was correct. It was growing. I told him to get to a doctor immediately.

Six weeks ago, II got into to see an Orthopedic surgeon with thirty years of experiencing specializing in foot and toe conditions. He had never seen anything like II's toe. He had x-rays done and it didn't tell us anything except there is no genuine bone in there, just lots of bone spurs. He ordered a MRI with contrast. The insurance balked. It took until last week before the doctor could appeal the insurance and get the test scheduled. Today, II had his follow-up appointment with the Orthoped on the toe.

Today, we found out that II is being referred to an Orthopedic Oncologist for his toe. There is a spot in the tissue of the toe that appears to be a tumor. There is no way to tell if it is benign or not. Evidentally, toes like this are prone to easily develop cancer and are usually taken off when a child is young as a protective measure. II's mother never did anything under the sun to protect him, least of all spend her time and money to have his toe removed. They cannot easily biopsy these toes. It seems a forgone conclusion that II's toe will be amputated. Whether it is benign or something far more sinister, we don't know and won't know until after he sees the oncologist, likely until after it's actually amputated.

I wasn't with him. He sat in his car and cried and all I could do was reach through the phone to comfort him. We never expected this news. Back when I was pregnant with R, I went to an ultrasound appointment alone because we thought it was totally routine and they told me they thought she had Trisomy 18. She didn't, but I never forgot the devestation of not having II with me for that news. It's that all over again but in reverse. I convinced him to come home instead of work. I'm certain his boss will understand that he's in no condition to work today. We're going to take A to the doctor, L to preschool and then we're going to go hiking, just the two of us. I doubt either of us will remember to breath but at least we'll face this together.

I do not want my husband to die. I never, ever wanted him to die. I don't want him to face a threat to his life before he is even 40 years of age. It's not fair. It's not right. What else can go wrong? What else?


I have come to realize how much my morning walk provides me with time to rejuvenate. I don't think I realized what it was becoming until I had company this week. Rather than being outcome focused, as I have in the past, I have focused on habit building. Even with the ankle injury I suffered, I set a goal to make it out at least three days per week so that I might build the habit. I have met that goal, even in the worst week of the injury. Now I realize that my faith is healing through these morning escapes. Before I caught II, I did not have quiet personal time. There was no way to carve it out. Honestly, J was a mere 8 months when I caught II and personal time was difficult. I would go out one evening per week if I remembered and felt like I could get away. However, I was in a season where my nursling needed me to keep him close most of the time. What I did do was pray without ceasing. I spent most of my days in active prayer as I went about my activities.

When I caught II, I stopped praying. I didn't give up my faith, but I couldn't pray. Well, unless you count the prayers that God would just let II die, but I think they were more crying out in pain. Slowly, I have returned to prayer but it has never been what it was. I have taken comfort in knowing that my God holds me even when I cannot reach out and I have let my journey of faith be what it is and not try to push for what my soul wasn't ready for yet.

The experience with S brought me back to daily prayer. It had to. To help a hurting child heal, you must remain steady yourself. Even the pain of letting S go when I thought it was a much longer placement has not caused me to lose that change in my faith again. Instead, I find that as I walk in the mornings I talk to God again. I let go of my doubts and the years of not trusting the church. That time is not about an imperfect church. It's about myself and my Creator. I walk. I talk. I meditate. I heal every step of those walks, not just physically but in my soul.

Every step of my journey back has required I think carefully about how to care for me, how to balance my own healing and needs against a family that requires so much of me. It's so easy to lose myself, or resent their dependence upon me. I have to coach myself less and less. As my soul restores, I find the fear of losing balance is less. Every morning I get up and I walk. I get my olders up for school and I stay here to be part of their lives as they get ready for school. While they get ready, so do I. When they leave for their bus, I hug them and tell them that I love them. Then, I walk out the door and I walk. When I get back, I start the youngers on their day. When baby J wakes up and needs to go with me, I take him with me. When he doesn't, I walk alone. Each day that I make these choices, I restore that balance just as I allow my soul to heal. Someday, perhaps I will even find the courage to step back into a church.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The make of a woman

When I started this blog, I called it woman reclaimed. My roles in my life had become so out of balance that I had forgotten under all of those roles there was also a woman that needed to be nutured and cared for as well. I forgot that when turbulence hits an airplane, you are instructed to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting those who depend upon you for survival. This is not to be cruel. It's a basic fact that if they pass out, but you still have oxygen, then you can still get it to them so they can survive. However, if you pass out, they are not going to be able to get the oxygen on you, and you might not get it properly on them. Both of you will suffer by neglecting to care for yourself first. It's the same reason they tell you to not enter water to save a drowning person, but to make sure your footing is sure and then reach in towards them.

I am coming full circle. I am no longer so worried about neglecting myself. I find at times I do slip back into old habits. However, for the most part I remember to care for me and not merely all of those around me. When that happens, I merely need to recenter and remind myself that I am important too and adapt what I'm doing better.

Life is about balance. I knew that even before I knew how to do it very well. When I started this blog, I tried very hard to not bring anything but the discovery of that lost woman into my writings. However, that isn't possible. This woman, like every woman, has many facets to what make her a woman. This year, I decided to more conciously bring the rest of my life into my writings. If the season I must walk involves motherhood, gut-wrenching emotions and sometimes tipping the scale of my balancing act, then it would not be authentic to ignore that reality. So, I choose to bring it forward and to write about it.

This morning, I got up and got ready for my normal walk. I've gotten pretty good at this habit now. I'm not seeing weight loss nor better physical shape for my efforts. However, I am breathing better, MUCH better, and that was my only goal in this committment. I have realized that if I don't walk every single day, the goal is to continue the habit. Last week, due to lots of events going on, I only managed to walk three days. However, I kept my focus that I will walk, so I wasn't stressed about life getting in the way. Quite the contrary, I have come to relish that time in the mornings. I have time alone. I listen to music. I talk to God. I meditate and I rejuvenate. I also walk. That time is carved out for me, and solely for me.

When J, the three year old spikey dude, woke up as I was getting ready today. I was not thrilled. When he insisted he had to go "walk-walk" with me, I was downright frustrated. When he couldn't find his shoes but would not agree to stay home, I was nearly in tears. Instead, I took a deep breath. I reminded myself that sometimes balancing goes in the direction of putting the kids as more important and today, after all of the emotional upheaval we have endured, spikey dude wanted to walk with the drizzle. So, together we found his shoes. I found him a jacket, and I loaned him my purple parasol. Then we headed out on my route.

Spikey dude asked me where we were going and I started to say, "to the big red barn," my typical turning point. Instead, I said, we'll go as far as you want to go and we'll head home when you're ready. Today, I walked at a snail's pace. I didnt get my meditation time. I didn't get to enjoy the view. I got drizzled upon and hit by an umbrella more than a few times. If I was lucky, then I got half of my normal route accomplished. I think it was more likely 1/3 of it though. However, I took the time to remind spikey dude that he too is important. I'm teaching him lessons that were never taught to me, that his mother will rearrange her routines to accommodate him. For myself, I simply considered the day a habit reinforcing kind of day.

I then came home and completed my RN license application to transfer the license to my state of residence, the last necessary step both in getting a part-time job and in completing my BSN program this upcoming school year. This morning I'll get kids ready for school and this afternoon we'll take M and spikey dude to the Pulmonologist. It's just a normal check-up for M, though we'll discuss his antibiotics that are supposed to start first of July and make sure everything is in place. It's a new patient appointent for spikey dude, who has developed asthma that increasingly requires rescue inhalers and is now time to discuss long-term treatment options for him. I'll do my normal treatments and assessments of M that I do every day. I'll coordinate getting his liver antibiotic script called in before he runs out in the middle of his course. I'll oversee the schooling of the two middler school boys, and get the elementary girls off to school for the day. I'll straighten my area in the living room. If it stops raining, tonight I might go for a walk with II so that we don't lose each other in the day to day chaos. Oh yes, and I will stop at the bank to both get my debit card re-pinned since I don't know the pin number and get my license application notarized so II can mail it tomorrow for me. I may have to comfort a friend, or talk with my Dad in that. I'll provide support for S's new mother if she asks for it. I'll check on my little sister at some point today since she's been having panic attacks now that she's an adult, high school graduate, and heading to college in the fall. That's what I do. That is what makes me woman these days.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The beat goes on

After a day and night of raw emotions, the new days starts over again and we carry on down the path we must walk.

For the two pre-teen boys, we purchased wall stickers of Star Wars. They stayed up late last night arranging scenes on their wall. This morning, they were full of smiles and gratitude, telling me I was the best mom in the whole wide world. Glad they are so easy to please there.

My oldest recieved a basketball and basketball net for the court at this new house. Athletic to the core, A is thrilled with this purchase. Today, he spends part of his time playing basketball and part of his time doing soccer drills on the basketball court. A is the child I was most worried about in this adventure we took. Having survived the wars of West Africa and healed from the nightmares, A has a tremendous heart for other children who have come out and are still struggling to learn to heal. He opened his life and his heart to S for whatever length of time S was to be with us. He wanted to impart that there is hope for these child survivors. When S got here, S did not believe healing and hope were possible. When S left they embraced A passionately for a goodbye hug. I worried that opening up and talking about his journey and healing might retrigger A like it did his father. However, we all knew that S neeeded to know there is hope. I believe A has given S that hope now. If that were all we did for this exile, it would be worth everything.

We gave S more than that, but we gave them that.

Baby J, after spending yesterday mourning, woke up today determined he wanted "pikey hair" like his Daddy. So, Daddy shaved his long, toddler tresses and took it down to super short. After he showered, I combed it back and gelled it. It makes me sad to see his beautiful hair cut and him looking so grown up. However, he's three and a half and more than capable of making his own choices with his hair. So, spikey hair he shall have.

I realize that I am blessed. We have traveled through fires as a family and it has made us stronger. We travel a hard journey right now with M, but it too brings us together and we hold each other up. For a brief period of time, we were able to open our hearts and our home to another hurting soul and to give support that will hopefully make a lasting impact on that soul. While we grieve, this too we do as a family. I nearly lost the strength I held and this family holds in that world. It hurt, more than I thought it would to let that world come crashing back into our reality for awhile. However, we are still strong. Two and a half years ago, I was lost and bleeding when I walked away forever. Today, while knowing me and loving me is still a constant journey, I have found me. I am woman. I am strength. I have learned to care for myself so that I might care for those around me. I have learned to equally cleave to my husband so that together two cords are forever stronger than one, and to care for both of our needs. I have learned that together, with love and respect for all members of this house, we are all stronger. We survive and we move forward together. We'll hurt for awhile, but we'll survive. No one gets left behind in this house anymore, not even me. Our brief encounter with quiverful and patriarchy has stirred up all what that world did to all of us. However it was only stirred. We no longer live in that nightmare. I can watch a woman whose only value in this world is her uterus and I can realize that is not me. It will never be me again.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Opening old wounds

We left quiverful and patriarchy forever....and then we opened our hearts and homes to another exile. We refused to call evil good and for that we were punished by removing that exile specifically to break our hearts. Ultimately, to keep a child safe, II had to allow a patriarchal abuser castigate him and violate his heart. He did it willingly, for the sake of a child.

For the first time in a long time, II let me know tonight that the old urges are knocking at his heart. It's good that he can recognize it. I did recommend he consider a SA meeting. He opted instead to take me to the store with him where we lovingly choose a small gift of joy for each of our children to help chear their hearts, and chocolate and Chinese food for the two of us.

He hasn't been so hurt in a very long time. So much of his pain from his past has been triggered through this. We knew he would never "heal" from this addiction, that he would forever need to be diligent in staying in recovery. I'm grateful that he can recognize the struggle and it's tie to the pain. I just hate that it can hurt him so much and that urging still comes back.

He still shows he is the man I knew he could be. He is carefully avoiding all alcohol to keep his defenses against that tempation high. After taking an hour to hide, to cry, and to allow himself to feel the raw pain that was placed upon him, he has devoted his energy on comforting his children.

He asked me to never open our hearts like this again. He doesn't want me to stop helping hurting children and quiverful exiles of all ages. He just doesn't want me to expose everyone's hearts like this so we are left in so much pain. I reassured him that will never happen. I knew it was a vile and detestable thing to throw away a child like this. I didn't grasp the depth of evil it requires. I will never touch that evil again, for the sake of my husband and children. I will support parentings to want to stand and support their children. However, I will never again offer the support of bringing a child into my home and in any way allowing anyone to believe I condone the evil it requires to throw a child out in that manner. This might be a common concept amongst quiverfuls who adopt children. However, most in the world recognize the evil of this choice. I won't expose my family to that evil in that fashion again.

Last night

Last night, I put my son to bed unsure if he would be alive this morning.

When M feels okay, he wanders at night. After a fateful night when he wandered from his bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen, in the laundry room in the basement and back again without my waking up, I realized that it was only by the grace of God that this child had not wandered out the front door and been lost Since that day, he sleeps with a baby gate in his doorway. As he has grown and gotten more advanced in his Houdini skills, II has built our own baby gates to contain him. We use that gate to both keep him safe at night and to have place to contain him when he rages. Some nights, M rages and screams all night and never sleeps. Other nights, he sleeps like the dead. Long before his current march to the end, we learned we had no choice but to carefully potty him and then sleep regardless of how he sleeps. Rarely is he up screaming all night, but about half the time he is dead to the world.

There was the night last fall when he had surgery scheduled in the morning when we got one hour of him not frantic. While II and he needed to leave for the hospital by 4:30, II ultimately got up and left at 2am simply to allow the rest of his to sleep. He spent the entire night screaming he was going to be late to the hospital and he HAD to go NOW. II got a little bit of rest at a rest area on the road and then listened to M scream in the car for nearly two hours in the hospital parking lot when they got there so insanely early.

So, there's little predicting what M will do at night, and when he is sleeping well, you are loathe to risk waking him. Since January, I've worked to come to peace with the reality that at some point he will simply not wake. Since the most likely way that M will die is from hepatic encephalopathy it means that at some point he will get tired and simply not wake up. That is far preferred to the lung exacerbations when he rages out of control because he cannot breathe and he is terrified. It's also better then possibility that he will have a sudden, unpredictable bleed and pour blood out of his body until he is dead.

I can only cheat death for so long. I can't even do that if I stay up every night listening for how M sleeps and trying to determine whether tonight is the night he dies. I've come to an impasse with death on these nights he is not doing well. I don't like it, but I take a melatonin, say a long prayer and then put myself to bed to wait and see what the morning brings. On the mornings afterward, unless I am greated by the normal M screams for the bathroom (typically said after he has confused his bedroom for such), I or II check on him before any of the kids get near his room.

Yesterday, M deteriorated throughout the day. His lungs were stable and healthy but his liver symptoms continued to escalate throughout the day. He was supposed to start his antibiotics that keep the ammonia levels under control on Sunday. Thus far, while he's shown signs of rising levels, he's made it to the scheduled start of these meds each time. Two days ago, he started inducing vomiting and starting the frentic bizarre behaviors that warn us that another crash is coming. Yesterday afternoon, he started rapid breathing. However, examining him showed me that his lungs were stable. By bedtime, the puking behaviors were out of control, he appeared to have a fever and his pulse was up to 142. I made the decision to start his antibiotics early.

We kept him in the living room for 30 minutes past giving him the meds, even though he was screaming he was tired and wanted to sleep. I knew there was a risk he would throw the meds up once he hit his room, but he had been screaming at the top of his lungs all day and I was beyond the ability to function with the screaming. So, we put him to bed. I immediately heard him retching. There was no point in checking for the meds. If I start pushing when he gets like this, he goes violent. Plus, as I said, I can only cheat death for so long. When I am fighting suicidal behaviors, I cannot fight death AND him.

So, I went to bed unsure if the antibiotics made it into his system and knowing that if they had not, then the ammonia would rise in the night and he would be beyond helping by morning.

Hospice doesn't understand why I fight in the first place. They would prefer I simply let death come. They seem incapable of understanding that M would not last a month without the fight I put into his care. I won't take extraordinary measures. I'm working hard to avoid more hospitalizations. However, I cannot justify not taking ordinary measures to prolong what little life M has left. I give him the meds, but I don't hold him and stop his raging all night so guarantee the meds can work. Thus, I didn't know if my son would be alive today.

He awoke me with the normal screaming behaviors for me to know he made it through the night again. His breathing and pulse are restablized this morning which tells me he didn't vomit his meds last night. Since its the weekend, we get to handle the lovely duty of cleaning him and the bedroom today.

Even my own children and nanny do not understand that I live with this daily reality now. People ask me how M is doing and I don't honestly know what to say. When he is not crashing, he is typical for M. When he is crashing, I lose sleep and I lay awake hoping it's a night that he is screaming and not sleeping well just so I know he is alive, but then have to question is it standard screaming or pain screaming that requires pain meds. Sometimes, those are very hard to distinquish. Dying is proving to be torture for him behaviorally. It tortures me to watch him live with this. Yet, this is my life in this season. I just don't talk about it much. I tend to see people backing away with big eyes if I do. Better to leave others to not walk the path I must walk these days.

Friday, June 1, 2012

No good deed

While we knew that M was dying now, and not some theortical point in the future, we pulled inward While we have always suspected that there might be one or two more children for our family, we knew during this journey that needed to not be the case. We need to focus on our dying son and his grieving siblings.

Yet, another quiferful exile crossed our paths. This was one whose story has been told dozens and dozens of times, a story whispered but not spoken aloud. This exile was an adoptee, specifically a West African just like our A. The family was looking to ship this child back to their homecountry, or simply dump them in US fostercare. Because I have known a dozen of these adoptees who were quietly shipped back to this specific homecountry from the quiverful movement, I knew the threat to be credible. The child's issues mirrored our son's and we felt we were capable of helping this child and we offered to do so.

We believe in adoption ethics. We believe that adoption is borne of loss and every loss a child suffers is another trauma that can be avoided. The family wanted us to move foward with adopting this child, we suggested instead we try to work with this child for a year, if the family could be reunited, then that would be less losses for this child, and if not then we would know by then whether it could be a permenant situation.

I forgot my own assessment of what the Patriachal movement does to men. Either they become abusive or they self implode with the effort of not harming their family. I also forgot the lessons my LMB has taught me, that Narcissists are highly drawn to the movement because of the power and control it automatically provides them. If I had remembered those lessons, we would not be heartbroken today.

S came into our home and quickly stole all of our hearts. S is an amazing person, and the issues that caused S to be removed from the home very quickly showed to be issues with the quiverful culture that S was exiled from. Even more startling to me was that S's very name, the name given by their birthmother in their birthcountry is the ONLY name God ever laid on my heart for one of my children that never entered my home. It's a long story, but ultimately that there was never meant to be an S amongst my children. When we adopted M, we severed his name from the S name and assumed S would never exist. Yet, here was S, and S entered the US the same week M came into our home.

Maybe God meant for S to be ours and man changed things for evil. Certainly, it would have been an honor to have called S my child forever, and even as we are grieving and saying goodbye, S has stated their own desire to stay in our home. However, when we forgot the lessons I've written in this blog, we engaged the family that was moving S as if they were logical, asne, and had S interests at heart. I should have remembered that people who have a child's interests at heart do not treat that child like garbage. I remembered all of those lessons too late to save this placement.

Ultimately, II refused to stand in the face of evil doings and call them good. When II refused to call them good, the legal father of S realized that S meant something to us, though this child meant nothing to him, and has removed S from our home as punishment for daring to speak truth.

The story of this amazing exile is just beginning to be written. Someday, when S is fully safe, I hope to share a lot more. Though S will not be a forever member of our family, this child has stolen our hearts. More important, when II heard the call to stand in the gap and help S, he also found his faith in God again. He momentarily lost it again when the legal father used S as a weapon and a pawn but is holding onto shaky ground in his faith as we watch S's story unfold and we be used to help this exile to ultimate safety, even if it is not with us.

I do not regret to opening our home and hearts to S. I do regret that once again I let that world hurt my children. They are losing a child they have fallen in love with completely and totally. My poor baby J is heartbroken. He has spent the last three months in weekly art therapy coming to grips with losing M and now cannot figure out what the difference is between losing S whom we cannot have continued contact with, and losing M, who is dying. He wants to know if S is going to heaven to be with S's new mommy. He is absolutely devestated because he wanted this child to stay in our home forever. He does not want S to leaave, and I cannot tell him that we will ever see S again.

This man who has used this child as a weapon to teach us a lesson for opposing him, who operates in a religious movment that supposedly puts children has having value and being blessings, cares nothing for his child nor mine. He has no care that he has destroyed the heart of a little three year old who only did what this man wanted us to do, to love this child and try to help this hurting child heal. This story will have a happy ending eventually, but it won't include us. J will be heartbroken and not instead of losing merely one sibling, he will lose two.

I hate that we ever found that lifestyle seductive. I hate worse that children are still being hurt in that world I'm not sure if I have the heart to ever open myself to help another one after this. After a decade of passionate fighting for these hurting kids, I'm not sure I can do it again.

Yet even in this, God has thought of my broken heart today. In the midst of our pain tonight, as we celebrate S's birthday before we say good-bye, today I got my letter from my BSN program. After two months of fighting them to get all of what they supposedly need, having to go through one appeal and having them lose my transcripts thrice, I am OFFICIALLY accepted to my RN-BSN program, the one that has all but the preceptorship online so I can work around M's issues. My dreams move forward, even if today my heart is breaking and my bitterness towards the world I left is hard to let go of today.