Saturday, February 24, 2018

prayers in the silence...

It's been pouring rain for hours.  I'm finding the sound soothing to my battered soul.  February has been brutal.  And I am worn out.

It's our Panda's first birthday.  And what should be a joyous day of celebration is being overshadowed by all of the negatives that are hovering in the air.

Hubs and I spent last weekend in Arkansas with some of the family.  Daddy should be well on the road to recovery.  Yet we almost lost him several times in the past week.  He's now laying there in a semi-induced coma.  Sleeping and healing.  I wish they would put his chest back together, I feel like I would be calmer if that happened.

A week ago, I was debating about the trip.  The snow was falling heavy and I just didn't know if making the trip would be of value. There were some very heated emotions and pain and distance were not making it better.  The larger part of my heart wanted to simply stay home, wrapped in a warm blanket in front of a warm fire.  I longed to be near my Daddy, but knew that our family couldn't take any more stress and worried about the hurt that was happening erupting into something worse.

Ironically, the one I was protecting was the one that convinced me to come down.  Momma is one strong woman, and in our protectiveness we sometimes forget that.  She might be shaken, but that woman of faith has more strength than any of us. She keeps saying that she knows he will be okay.  Somehow I'm sure she does.  When she prays, things happen.

First his sternum broke... not laying blame, but struggling with the fact that he was sent to a nursing home that has "rehab" capabilities, yet they didn't know how to deal with a heart patient,  much less one that had suffered a terrible stroke years before.  Got that message while on a Google hangout with my boss.

Survived that.

No sooner catching my breath, starting to calm, when I get the next call on my way to work the next day.

He's bleeding out...



Do I need to come?

Of course there were no answers then.  They didn't exist. No one knew or understood what was happening.  Just that a nurse was standing there and all the sudden there was blood.  LOTS of BLOOD. 

Shaking and rushing to my car, I'd just stopped to pick up breakfast for me and one of the B's, I felt fear, trauma and pain.  Trying to sort through it, not knowing what I needed to do.  Six hours away.  Even if I left from where I was standing, without a change of clothes or anything, I was still six hours away.

I didn't know that in Arkansas, my Momma was praying. Maybe it's all her brushes with death, but I firmly believe in the power of her prayers. I believe God hears all who speak, but I think she's resonates a bit louder.  She was praying for God to guide the surgeons hands.  To help him heal Daddy.

I decided to wait out the surgery being busy.  I couldn't change anything and if he didn't make it, I didn't want to be driving wildly down highway 67 when I got the news. My poor B probably needed the weekend to recover from my nervous energy.  We got a lot accomplished and moved some serious mountains. All the while anxiously watching for a text or listening for the phone to ring.

Around lunchtime I got the news.  They'd found it. Patched it.  And felt sure he was going to be okay.

I'm pretty sure that is when I was warned about the wound vac and the fact that his chest was still open, that could have come later.  It's all starting to blur together. I mean two weeks ago I was chatting with him on Facebook messenger video.

They think the broken rib/wire punctured his heart, a small clot prevented them from seeing it that first night.  When it gave, the flood dams opened. Luckily the entire surgery team was onsite doing rounds, the timing for such a catastrophe was miraculous.

They were going to keep him highly medicated so he would rest.  He'd stay on the vent. And they would start the search for a hospital bed for him, at a hospital with a plastic surgeon that could put our humpty dumpty back together again.

I didn't leave on Friday. 

It was far too emotional and I was far to exhausted to make the drive. 

Saturday we made the decision to go.  In a soft voice Momma said "if you need to come, come, it doesn't matter what Daddy needs or knows, it's what your heart needs".  Done deal.

A few hours later in a blanket of swirling snow, numb with fear and pain, Hubs and I loaded the boys and headed south.

Knowing the window's of visitation we opted out of too many stops, although the boys did need to be walked. We'd planned to pick Mom up and take her with us, but by the time we'd arrived and checked into the hotel there was only 15 minutes of visiting time remaining.

Once again Momma knew and understood.  Telling us to go straight to the hospital.

Entering CVICU, dread in my heart, I was surprised to see him back in the same room this whole journey had happened in, where someone had written "welcome back ..." on the white board.

Only this time is was different.

The first time I'd walked into that room, also at the 5 pm visit, he'd been sitting up in the chair watching the news and finishing off his spaghetti dinner.  Smiling up at me and asking if I'd watched the State of the Union.  Knowing that I would discuss it with him.  It was the night before this journey in hell began.

Now he was lying there, still as death, a machine aiding or controlling his breathing, tubes everywhere, so many IV's, and various containers. One containing blood, another urine, another feces and yet another with stomach bile.  And silently in the middle of that medical chaos my Daddy lay still, swathed in white and sleeping. 

Everything about him was cool. I'm used to my Daddy being hot blooded, with warm skin.  Standing beside the bed Hubs and I were struggling.  It didn't help that the nurse was trying to be compassionate, but was standing beside us with tears in her eyes.  Trying to find positive uplifting words where none existed.

We stayed the full time left, and then a few minutes more.  The nurses kindly let us have a few extra minutes. Walking away I felt my knees buckling and my heart being squeezed in pain.  Was this going to be the last time I saw my Daddy?  Was he going to survive?  Did he have the strength required for this battle?

As we reached the car I called my sister and Momma.  We were meeting for dinner.  I'd chosen the last place Daddy had insisting on us going for dinner when I was there around Christmas. It felt close to him. The food wasn't as good this time, or maybe it was the mood being so different.  I'm not sure I tasted it.

Momma went back to the hospital with us, she doesn't like to drive at night, but we all wanted a bit more time with him.  He wasn't as drugged and had his eyes open.  What a joyous sight!  They kept insisting he didn't know we were there, but his eyes followed Momma and he was trying to use my fingers to free himself from his "art line", which was bothering him greatly.  At one point while I was holding his left hand and telling him that I knew he was strong enough to beat this he started squeezing my fingers.  To the point they turned a bluish purple.  I am going to hold on to that being his way of telling me that he is strong and he will survive it!

Just before we left Momma had her fingers lying softly on his hand and was whispering sweet words to him when he wrapped his fingers around hers.  It was the most beautiful sight I've seen in a long time.

Sunday was pretty calm and we took turns visiting.  It looked to be a good sign that the wound vac was not bring out any blood.  And things seemed better.  He was heavily sedated, but Hubs and I had decided to stay until middle of the day Monday - to help the family out and give us a chance to sleep good Sunday night.

It was a random thing.  We'd made no plans for the next day and hadn't brought enough clothes for another day.  But we stayed anyway.

At 3:10 am on Monday, I got the call that is still haunting my sleep.  My sweet niece - the youngest of them all, saying Aunt B.... Papa's dying.

Even typing it is hard and brings tears rushing to my eyes.

Before my sleep addled brain could process it my sister was on the line, he was bleeding out again.  Blood everywhere, what do we tell them.  What do we agree to.  Without a second thought, I asked what did Momma want. Because truthfully, he's our Daddy, he's her heart.  Her decision was the one that mattered.

By 3:28 am we were in the parking lot of the hospital, they'd just gotten Daddy back into surgery and Momma, sister, niece and brother-in-law were pulling up as we walked to the door.

Hubs and I helped Momma inside, as they told us the decision had been made that if he needed to go back on the bi-pass machine again we would let him go.  As much as it hurt to hear, I agreed.  My mind was swirling with questions... were we doing this for us?  For him? Was he suffering?  Too many things to process.

Hours moved slowly passed.  I was sure the clock was going in reverse.

I am not even sure when we got the first update from surgery. Time was a blur.  The nurses and aides kept coming out to check on us, offer coffee or water, bring tissues and pray with us.  They'd come to care deeply about the old grouch.  They were struggling as much as we were.

We got the call that the doc had found the problem, was putting him on bi-pass. He was positive he could fix it.

What?  That wasn't the agreement....

The calls weren't as regular this time, the waiting was brutal.  Each of us hiding in our own corners, silently licking our wounds.  Staring brainlessly at phones or walls depending on the time.

Finally we got the call we were waiting on.  They were done.  Doc would be out to talk to us soon.  The first one out was one of the surgery team, telling us Dad was back in his room and Doc update us. The look in his eyes said we would want to hear from him.

When Doc finally came I don't know if we were ready, but we were desperate to hear just the same.

Doc said that he'd opted to leave the retractor on Dad's chest.  He said he knew what the agreement was, but when he discovered the problem, he knew that he could fix it. So he did.  He just couldn't bring himself to give up.  He warned us that they had a larger wound vac on him and that they were now going to keep him completely under, a sort of medically induced coma.  But that he'd carefully gone over every inch of Dad's heart and felt confident that he was finally on the mend. 

He'd told us to go home, rest and shower.  We took turns, each of us afraid in our own way of leaving him without a "watch dog".  During our time to shower we walked our boys and marveled at the beauty that could be found in the smallest things.  And bought a change of clothes at the local WalMart.

We've had several scares over the next two days, as his blood pressured plummeted, due to low blood and fluids.  Terrifying does not begin to explain it. It was rapidly discovered that plasma, blood and some fluid that my nursy sisters know, but I don't would quickly correct that problem. 

When we headed out on Tuesday after spending the early shift with Daddy, it was the hardest thing I'd done in almost 10 years.  Once before I'd had to leave without knowing what the future held, or if it was even a good choice.  That time it was Momma. My heart was heavy.  But I had to be back in St. Louis and literally all I was doing was watching him sleep.

It's been a week and a day since the first bleed out.  The retractor was taken off on Thursday. Sleeping Beauty is still asleep.  But he's healing.  My Momma and sisters are working hard to get him moved to another hospital to put him back together.  Eventually they will wake him and he will start making strides to get back home.

All of this extreme stress has blanketed a sick Hubs, incredible work stress, and worry about kids and family.

I'm worn out.  My heart and brain don't feel capable of working.  My body is in extreme pain, the kind that I know medication won't help.  I'm hoping some of it will go with finally writing about all of this.

Three hundred miles may as well be a million when you can't get to someone quick enough. And yet the world has seemed so small with all the prayers and well wishes.  The candles that are being lit and the love that is being shared.

I haven't even had time to go buy a birthday present for my Panda.  Hubs is napping, the room keeps swirling on him from the medication they've given him.  And I have hours worth of work to do both personally and professionally.

I am definitely worn out. 

I need to find my joy for my sweet baby Panda.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

in the darkness...

I gave up sleeping about an hour ago. 

I just had too much on my mind. 

I'm currently faced with a task that falls into my least favorite category.  I know in my heart I am creating my own mental blocks and allowing other things to get in the way of completing the task.  I mean, I am writing a blog post before 5 am to avoid it. 

I know it is what stole my sleep. I know that even my sub-conscious is chatting with me about it.  I simply don't want to engage. I can see the open tab, even as I'm writing this.  It's lurking there, mocking me.  It's truly soul sucking. Thank goodness that silly tab cannot blink on it's own, I am sure it would if it could.

Instead I am sitting here, hearing echo's from the man cave, Hubs evidently woke up early too. 

I also freaked myself out trying to figure out what the odd scratching sound coming from the corner of the dark room was.  I am not like Hubs, I don't turn on lights often.  I enjoy the calming effect from the darkened rooms.  I have evidently watched a few too many episodes of X-files.  As I calmed down a bit and was brave enough to look - I've heard it several times before today - I realized that I was concerned over nothing more than the leaves of my huge plant in the corner being moved against the cold window glass by the furnace.

In the early morning hours I love to sit in my wing back chair at the bay window.  It looks out over the common grounds, so nothing interferes with my solitude.  Off in the distance I glimpse a few random porch lights, but that is all. 

I truly am an introvert.  I love the solitude and silence that I find on mornings like this.  True it isn't getting that darn task done, but it is balancing out the chaos that I have been surrounded in.  I read not too long ago that there is a word for people like me.  Introverted souls that have to function in an extroverted world.  I'm drawing a blank right now, but I found it to be a powerful definition of who I am and how I live my daily life.

I love people.  In very small groups.  I am never going to be that social butterfly.  Always looking for the next mass event. I will be the one slowly backing away.  I don't even enjoy neighborhood parties - at least not for the first 5 - 8 years I have lived there.  I need to feel completely comfortable in my own playground to be able to play with the other kids.

Each day I surround myself with an incredible support system, put on my "costume" of invincibility and slide my "people" mask over my head.  I am then ready to face the day.  That sounds terrible.

But inside I'm screaming for the silence of my sitting room, hiding from humanity and longing for solitude. And it literally makes me laugh when people don't realize that is who I really am.

Ambivert!  That's it. " Mateo Sol described ambiverts as... the neutral, middle-ground hippies... equally comfortable in situations where the introvert feels most at home and the extroverts are having a good time... They're emotionally stable. Extroverts are not easily influenced by outside factors while introverts are hypersensitive." Is it wrong that my favorite part of this definition is neutral middle-ground hippies? 

I don't know who Mateo Sol is, but I love this explanation of how I feel as a human in this crazy race.

I'm still not ready to open that tab, I've drank a cup of coffee, enjoyed my solitude and I'm ready to face the day.  I will finish that task this morning.  Put it behind me so it steals no more sleep.  And enjoy the people that surround me day to day.  Starting with the Hubs who is ready for my attention....

Sunday, February 11, 2018

creating peace

I love a productive day.

Sweet Hubs is down in his recliner, where he's been most of the day.  He ran out of muscle relaxers and his arm feels like it is on fire.  I'm hoping the chiropractor can give him some relief soon.  He's only had one of 3 months worth of needed treatment. So I am guessing hoping for a miracle at this point might be a bit premature.  Hopefully our GP can give him another prescription for the muscle relaxers.  While they didn't fix it, they definitely seemed to make it tolerable. 

I haven't bugged him much today, because just like everyone else, when he's in pain he's a bit of a bear. After writing this morning, I decided to step away from electronics.  I could have done hours worth of work.  Either professional or personal.  I decided to feed my creative soul instead.

I am feeling worn out from the negativity that seems to be everywhere.  Weary from all the people that cannot just be happy.  I've been dealing with too much of it lately so I decided to step away.

After a good long chat with my beautiful daughter, and a few moments surfing my favorite positive sites, I closed my Chromebook and set my phone out of my reach.

I spent a few hours in my incredibly messy sewing room. I probably should have devoted some of that time to cleaning it up, as I still have things that are not unpacked and we've lived here 3 1/2 years.  That wasn't my mission today.  My mission was to create.

I didn't turn on music.  No television.  The only sounds were what echo'd up from the basement and Sweet Hubs, the random sounds from outside, the steam of the iron and the rhythmic sound of my sewing machine.  The sounds of the scissors that are only allowed on fabric slicing through the cottons I was working with.  It's a sound that is hard to even describe.

I opened the blinds to let the natural outside light blanket my work space and cleared my thoughts.

My sister had asked me to make lip balm key ring holders.  I don't use much lip balm so I didn't quite get the value of this.  She explained to me that she had washed so many tubes, so had many of her friends. I'd asked if she had a color choice, she didn't.  I found a simple pattern - after all how complicated can it be right? And broke out my scrap bags.  It ended up being the perfect project.  I had piles of small bits of interfacing left over from t-shirt quilts that I hadn't been able to convince my frugal heart to part with.  And even more bits and pieces of fabrics.  I actually could still be making them and not run out of anything except the key ring bit. I'd been trying to have time to make them since early January - or maybe even late December.  Things have been a bit wonky lately.

That task finished I moved on to laundry and dinner making.  It's been forever since I made Spanish Rice, but I figured why not?  We had left over fajitas and I wanted to turn it into a complete dinner.  So... why not.

After dinner and semi-tidying the kitchen, since it was already a bit of a mess... I decided to make two new batches of soap.  My house has the most interesting scents going on right now.  I am questioning the wisdom and thankful that I didn't decide to whip up some candles while I was at it. Bath and Body Works has nothing on our house right now.

The first batch is the Bonnie's Triple Butter - the one with tea tree oil and lemongrass.  The second batch is called Catherine's Caffeinated - it has coffee and peppermint. We might be sleeping with the windows open tonight.  All together I think there is roughly 7 pounds of cold process soap curing in the laundry room. And I am wondering if we are going to need to open windows.  I am still not sure how I like the cold process soaps.  They aren't difficult or at least they aren't supposed to be.  I am struggling with just the right amount of trace. We will see how they turn out.

I am done for the night.  I was going to sit in the quiet, but Hubs has started watching something that sounds a bit like a symphony and all of the Warner Brothers cartoon characters fighting Rocky.  I am actually a bit frightened by the combination. I have no idea what he's found, I expected to hear 60 Minutes, as he is definitely a 60 Minutes guy. 

Shortly I will head up to bed, I am tired.  I've been pushing to hard and not sleeping enough. 

This day has recharged my batteries.  The only time I connected to the internet was to talk with my Dad for a few moments.  They'd brought him a lunch he didn't like.  Although he said he's feeling a bit better today and looks a bit better too. He is also catching up on his sleep and adjusting to the healing process that comes with open heart surgery.  I offered to make him some Chicken Noodle Soup - one of my B's insists that it has healing properties.  His answer was an I don't know.  But a bit later my sister text me and asked if she came up in a couple of weeks if I would make him and she would take it back to him.  Of course I will.  Hubs is already trying to figure out how to send him some on dry ice. He's my Mr. Fix It.

I've enjoyed my disconnection from the modern world.  Leaving the negativity and hatred that keeps invading life lately behind. I've enjoyed slowing down and being creative.  I feel like I can tackle the world again tomorrow. 

But tonight... I'm done.

a lazy Sunday...

Good morning!  It's not a pleasant one outside today, so I feel strongly that I am going to stay inside and get a few things done.

No need to get up mom... it's cold
Hubs and I tried to take the boys for their morning walk and literally slide off the sidewalk.  They weren't digging it either.  It's odd, it looks fine, just a light dusting.  Unfortunately, that dusting is ice.  So a short slide down the hill and we are all inside and staying put.  From the sounds outside it seems like most everyone agrees with us.  The only vehicle we've even heard is the snow plow, laying down layers of salt. I'd love to salt the walk and drive, but I won't.  I don't like it on the boys feet.  It hurts them.

Tomorrow will be warmer, so I've decided that it is God's way of saying "stay home and rest".  I haven't done that in a bit and I am starting to feel the effects. Yesterday after work I simply stopped. I can't remember the last time I curled up in a blanket and just sat.  Much less for 4 hours waiting for bed time.  The exhaustion is strong right now.  I didn't cook dinner, I didn't do work, I didn't do anything.

Today I feel a bit better. My Fit-bit is telling me I slept for 8 hours and 39 minutes. I'm still tired.  I'm actually considering a nap, something I never do.  Although what I need to do is get caught up on the laundry, cooking food, cleaning up my house and all those day to day things that get shifted off when I have busy days at work.  Gotta balance the energy and the house is always going to lose.  Hubs has been awesome picking up the slack, even though he's still in a great deal of pain.

I can't believe it's been a full week since I came home.  After driving all day last Sunday I have not had a moment to catch up and catch my breath.

And here a full week has passed.

Dad appears to be doing well.  I talked to him via messenger yesterday for a few minutes.  He was freshly bathed, needs a bit of haircut (although I thought it looked good, I know he's not fond of a shaggy look), his color is great and he's in a better mood.  Sort of.

They moved him to rehab the other day and Mom has been doting on him.  I know she denies it, but that is simply who she is.  She's been sleeping on a sofa in his room so he doesn't feel lonely.  Honestly, she is the only one that can calm him the way she does.  I guess that's what happens when you've been in another person's life since you were each 14.  They will be 75 this year.  I have to keep doing the math, it's hard to believe.  They were 22 when I was born and I will be 53 this year... yep, I've got the math right. Geez!

It's rare that all of us are together, usually only during trying times, which frankly ends up being the worst time.  We are all strong personalities.  And mixing us does not usually work out well.  I learned a long time ago to simply step back and stay out of things.  It works best for me.  Which is one of the reasons I returned home last Sunday when I did.  Dad was out of danger, Mom was fine, it was time to go back to my little part of the world.  They keep me updated and I know what's going on.  Its best.

While I down there I took the opportunity to spend some quality time with my youngest niece and the sister that ironically is most like me in temperament.  We don't usually spend time together to that degree, so it was awesome.   She's had some huge changes in her world for a bit now, so catching up was needed.  I'm glad I did.

I was equally as glad to come home.  I missed the Hubs.  He'd stayed behind.  The pain was too much for him, he had two doc appointments and the boys struggle with traveling.  The last day there was particularly rough and I simply needed to go, the sweet Hubs knows me far too well and before a single tear drop could fall he'd called me to check on me.  His timing was perfect.

He talked to me as I got ready to head out.  He talked to me as I drove home.  3.5 hours straight, until I hit the rolling hills in the boot heel of Missouri.  A signal is hard to hold on to then.  The whole time he was cleaning the house, putting out a big bouquet of yellow roses, making dinner and hanging an "I missed you" sign on the garage door that would roll out as it opened when I arrived home.  The feeling of love and comfort was unmistakable.

I'd told my sister that her sweetie was so much like my dear Hubs.  I hope that he makes her as happy as Hubs makes me.  He's not perfect, no one is, especially not me... but he's darn close.

Well, I guess I am going to go up and grab the laundry, I have some sewing I want to complete and a few other things.  I keep finding myself looking longingly at my spinning wheel (although after twisting my knee this morning I think I will have to wait until I get another shot) and I now need to make more soap, as we've almost used it all.  I think a pot of hearty soup is needed to combat this biting cold and I might even make some bread.  Time for an old fashioned day.  A break from reality so I can tackle it fresh tomorrow.

Breakfast is served...

What are you doing today?

Thursday, February 1, 2018


It's crazy quiet in here. 

My eye glass case snapping shut feels almost obscene. 

Occasionally my cell phone vibrates a silent message, I haven't told anyone that I was arriving early.

I wanted a moment to myself.  In the quiet.

I left the Lou early today. Quick breakfast with Hubs, needed to be sure he was feeling okay before I left.  It was a hard decision to leave him knowing he's hurting so badly.  But it was harder to stay away.

Dad's been in the hospital for a week.  They decided yesterday that they were going to operate. If Grumpy Gus doesn't decide they aren't.  The doc feels pretty okay about the procedure, but told us girls if it was his dad he'd be here before the surgery.

I grabbed a few snacks and drinks, Hubs gassed up my little car and I was ready to head south.

Luckily I had a conference call to make and loose ends to tie up as I drove the first hundred miles or so. I didn't have to be with myself. My thoughts didn't get to shout in my head and worry my heart.

I'm still not sure I want to be alone with myself. The last two hundred miles or so involved music and miles.  I tried to stay out of my thoughts and simply focus on forward.  An hour or so of sleet as I went through the Mark Twain Forest kept me focused for a bit.

Followed by watching ribbons of birds for miles on end.  If Hubs had been with my I probably would have spent time trying to video them.  The ribbons swirled and moved, hundreds of beautiful black birds moving like giant ribbons caught in the breeze.  By then I had cleared Corning and was moving up to Pocahontas.  The flooded rice fields on each side of the road, oddly empty of traffic.  Just a random car, truck or semi.

I still didn't want to be alone with my thoughts.

I still don't.

We've waited on these types of surgeries before.  We are old hats at it.  But as time goes by you feel more fear.  Age has a way of complicating things.  Will and determination to heal also play a role.

I don't know where he is mentally.  I know where I would be.  But I haven't been walking in his shoes.  Is his love of family and life enough? Or is he tired?

In a few minutes the silence will be shattered.  The rest of the family will arrive.  We will all want to spend a few of those precious 60 minutes with him, we're only allowed in two at a time.

I need a few minutes more of peace.


The sun is just breaking over the beautiful Smoky Mountains.  Watching it set last night was breathtaking! Tomorrow I will get up and ...