I can’t deny…

Six years ago I was asked to write about the positive aspects of raising a child with complex medical issues. This is the article I wrote that was published on an online magazine called Complex Child.

http://complexchild.org/articles/2011-articles/october/extraordinary-little-man/

Looking back at this article reminds me of how far John has come. Day to day life can get me wrapped up in rushing, taking on too much and wishing John was doing better medically. I get wrapped up in the future instead of living in the present. I literally give myself anxiety thinking of scenarios that can happen if things were different. Things that probably will never happen consume my thoughts during the day.

Before I seen this on my memories news feed via Facebook I was talking to a friend about how negative my thoughts have been. Re-reading this was a blessing. A reminder telling me to STOP, breathe and smell the flowers right in front of me. Find the gratitude in the life I have today, full of oxygen tanks, bowling, Chuck E Cheese and all beef kosher hot dogs. Find the gratitude in the people around me today. The teacher that never gave up on him, the lunch lady that showed up to his birthday party and the students that sent him cards at the hospital! Be grateful for the party invites even if we can’t go, the friends that call to check in even if I can’t answer and our chosen family.

I cannot Deny  Autism, Chronic Lung Disease or Epilepsy. It will always be a part of our lives, but I will not let it control my thoughts!

What a great way to restart my week!

 

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Daily Prompt: A Casual Mom

I have no fancy dresses in my closet. If I received an invitation to a black tie event or wedding I would need to go out and buy something. I have summer dress, jeans, shorts and tanks. I wear underwear with super heroes on them or the cookie monster. I wear sweatshirts over my tanks in the winter because I still sweat a lot. I recently decided to let my gray hair grow free.  I now have long hair that is gray and I love it! I wear jean shorts, leggings and yoga pants, no yoga though! I am always comfortable.

I wasn’t always like this. 12 years ago I had a baby boy, Baby boy Murphy is what they called him in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Children’s Memorial Hospital, now called Robert and Ann Lurie’s Children’s Hospital. He was born with a right-sided Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. This is where his liver and bowels grew up where his lungs should have been causing him to be born with partial lungs. He spent 13 months in the ICU after birth, 8 years on a ventilator and 9 years with a tracheostomy. He has Epilepsy since the age of 2. His first seizure lasted 8 hours and only stopped because he received a sedative cocktail that would knock an elephant out. He also has Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder.

His story is long, tragic and beautiful. He is a lot of work and somedays just amazing to be around. I can barely take a shower for more than 10 minutes at a time while we are home alone because he has no sense of danger. I am scared he will walk out of the house or set fire to it.

This morning I pulled out a summer dress because I didn’t have time to do laundry. After envisioning the day which consist of a trip to Chuck E Cheese (because he earned it), a picnic and a festival (if we survive the picnic) I decided to put my knee length yoga pants on, they make my calves look awesome! That summer dress would have tripped me up if I had to make a runner after the little man.

Happy to be casual, working from home, entrepreneur mama ❤

via Daily Prompt: Casual

What’s Next?

It’s been an autistic kind of day…

This morning John refused to talk to me unless we used the walkie-talkies. I enjoy when he does this because it encourages him to use proper sentences and good words. He keeps the volume so low on the walk-talkies that we can’t hear each other. However, we are standing right in front of each other. I believe the sound of the voice through the walkie-talkie causes a sensory issue so he keeps the volume low.

On the way out the door an older man walking a huge old German Shepard was walking by. John started chanting “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck…” over and over again. The man stopped and looked at us shocked. I quickly looked at him and said, “I’m sorry, he’s autistic, he’s just nervous”. The man gently said, “I can leave”. I said, “NO, we see you all the time, its ok. He has to be Ok”. All while John was chanting “Fuck”. The man said to John, “Hey John, this is my dog Jake”. John stops chanting and looks in their direction and says, “Jake, like Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Jake, Captain Hook, Mr. Smee, Sharky, Izzy and Skully.” The man responds, “Oh Skully, yeah I like X-Files, too”.  Next run in with Old man and Jake should go a little smoother.

We went to the last day of camp’s talent show at Indy Park. John is so well behaved at Indy it literally has me stumped. I have no clue why. Maybe because he loves it there so much. We spent an hour there listening to the team, greeting everyone and sitting watching the show. It was the quietest he has been all year so I really took advantage of talking to other adults without interruption. It was amazing!

As we were leaving it took everything in me not to cry before we got to the car. John loves this place but cannot attend because of his medical needs. They do not provide nurses and I can’t stay with him. I was sad because Special Olympics starts in September and he will not be there. I was sad because he is missing out on so many things that he loves, where he feels the most comfortable with the friends that make him feel normal and loved.

When we arrived home I let him eat “black” popcorn, didn’t feed him dinner and sat my depressed ass on the sofa. I was emotionally drained from having a good ugly cry in the car on the way home. John asked to go downstairs to play Wii. I was all for it, but didn’t follow him. I wanted to see if he could do it himself this time. He has seen me do it a million times.

I waited…I got lost in my phone…I waited a little more….got lost in my phone a little more and then popped up thinking he was way too quiet. Ill head down to see what’s up.

Scene: Our basement is small so the doors are pocket doors that slide into the wall. The bathroom door was half open with oxygen tubing trailing out. The smell of shit was in the air. I slowly peek in to find a few balls of shit on the floor, a little on the wall, all soaking in a pool of pee with his jeans and underwear laying on the floor soaked. John is sitting on the toilet humming and chanting “what’s next, Mommy?”, the question he has been asking all fucking day, while splashing his feet in the pee.

I managed to get it cleaned up while he sat on the toilet. I was amazed that he didn’t move off the toilet. I think he knew this wasn’t right and just wanted to sit there till it was gone. Kind of like what I want to do when I do something wrong….maybe it will just disappear?

All cleaned up, he jumps on the couch to play his Wii asking “what’s next?”  The bathroom is probably cleaner then when we first bought the house, BONUS!

My character defects like to creep in unintentionally. One of them is impatience and anger. Today, it didn’t’ happen. I only felt sadness. I feel like that is emotional progress…feel the feelings, walk through the fear, and keep the faith….

All day I have been listing off in my head the autistic quality’s that my son has.

The repetitive asking

The swearing

The need for a schedule

The lack of understanding of danger

He is intellectually disabled

He is beautiful, smart and so loving

Whats next blog

This is the face I love every day. It’s the face after the storm, after the hardship and after the madness. It’s the face of love and gratitude. He puts his head on my shoulder while patting my back saying “Gracias, mommy”. While we are just sitting there, after the storm. He puts on a hardy laugh while saying “I love you mommy”, just to see us laugh, after the storm. At bed, he asks one more time “What’s next?”, tonight the answer was “Tomorrow is Saturday, Chuckie Cheese because you earned it!”. He responds. “I earned it!” while his 12 year old body wiggles so hard with excitement.

#GoodNightSweetWorld

And tomorrow we will do it again…

Strategic thinking…

Today is neuter day for Boss, the dog. Poor little guy was so confused this morning. “Why aren’t you feeding me?” He tried to eat the flowers Kevin brought me over the weekend. I had placed them in a vase on our living room corner table. A table that was actually a bedside table for the huge bed and room we had at our last house. We downsized a year ago and life has never been so free of useless crap!!

Anyway, a neuter means a trip to the vet. It’s just Johnny, Mom and Boss. I have been planning my strategy to get out of the house as smoothly as possible since last night. I changed the plan a few times. At the end I did it a completely different way. Which means all that planning, scripting and thinking was a waste of time. Well, that’s how I roll when it comes to thinking.

I put Boss outside so I could prop the front door open without him making a runner. I was just praying John didn’t let him in while I was doing it. He is a slippery one that Boss. With the door propped I can get the push chair, lunch bag and back pack out the door in one pass and into the car. Return, let boss in and get the boys out the door. I have Boss’s leash in one hand and John’s oxygen tank in the other. I use one hand to guide John into the direction of the door while Boss pulls me to the door. It’s a funny scene.

Once at the car I get John in and walk over to get Boss in. He needs to be picked up into the car since I have a high SUV and he’s still too young to jump up. He doesn’t like getting into the car. Probably because the only time he gets in the car is to go to the vet. This trip will definitely be the final straw for him.

On the way into the vet office the strategy is the same but reversed. Johnny and I agreed he was working for 10 water balloons if he behaves in the office. When we arrive to the front door I opened it too soon and caught Boss’s paw. He made a loud dog crying sound at which time John chanted the F word at least 20 times. John does this anytime a dog barks or cries. I waited till John was done chanting before we walked inside. Once inside John was screaming at the dog to get down in a “level 4” voice. Level 2 is normal talking voice, which I encouraged him to use but this seemed useless. I began taking water balloons away, “9 balloons, 8 balloons, 7 balloons…”  With each balloon he decreased his sound level. But, it went right back up as soon as Boss became excited or jumpy. The receptionist at first was a little shocked by the noise but realized john is Autistic. I was so impressed with their acceptance and understanding. The one receptionist immediately put us into a room, hoping it would help John relax a little. In the room he became more anxious and aggravated with Boss’s level of excitement.

Finally, the vet came in to give me the estimate and papers to sign. We were out of there.

At this point, John lost all water balloons so we headed home to wait for bowling at 11am.

On the way out the door of the Vet John said, “Scared”

I asked him “Why were you scared?”

“Dr. Lestrud”

Dr. Lestrud is John’s Pulmonary Doctor. I believe John thought he was going to the doctor for himself.

When we got into the car I sat there for a few minutes trying not to cry. I wanted to cry because the people in the office were so nice. I wanted to cry because John thought he was going to the doctor. I wanted to cry because John didn’t feel safe and I didn’t prepare him for the Vet visit. I wanted to cry because this was just so overwhelming.

I cried because this was what I seen….

John at Vet

You wouldn’t event know how hard the last 15 minutes were by looking at him. He is in the car, safe and content. He knows he is going home where he is safe and happy.

How does a parent prepare their child for the hard world when they can’t get them out into it?

Shut the front door…

A few post back I talked about how much I yell…

Today, I reached a higher octave. Picture this…

We are on the speaker phone with daddy. Johnny is talking about how he wants water balloons. Daddy is telling him we don’t have any, we will get some Sunday at Costco.

Costco sells these water balloons that are already rubber banded onto a stick that fills 60 balloons with water at a time using a hose. It’s a far cry from the one balloon at a time using the steel water spout out of the side of the house 20 years ago. It only takes seconds to fill 60 balloons now!

When john realized he isn’t getting any balloons at that very moment he gets off the couch, walks towards the back door saying “Son of a Bitch!”

I get up, trip over the dog, mumble “Oh Shit!” and catch myself with the bottom of my stomach dropping out from under me while Kevin is still on speaker phone, laughing.

I missed the opportunity to discipline John for swearing while I sat there on the floor holding my chest from the scare…and swearing.

I finally say Good Bye to my giggling husband and go over to the kitchen to turn the kettle on for a cup of coffee. The kettle sits on my kitchen counter right in front of the window overlooking our deck. The deck has a hammock, a small 10inch deep pool for john’s water balloons and the dog house Kevin built. The hose is hanging over the deck railing ready for some water balloons. Just as I turn the kettle on, John picks up the hose, points it towards the open deck doors and full blast hoses down the inside of our house.

I scream, “Stop, put the hose down!” I can’t get outside without getting whacked in the face full force with “Jet” setting hose action so I stand there screaming, “Put the hose down now John!!!!’.

It took a few screams. When he finally put the hose down he just looked at me and said “Water balloon?”

I barked at him to get in the house. We were literally 5 minutes away from leaving to go on a Chuck E Cheese playdate with his friend Lucy from Special Olympics. I threw some towels on the floor, put the dog in the cage and packed him into the car to leave.

I figured when I get home the water will either evaporate from the heat or I can just pretend this never happened.

I sincerely wonder what my neighbors think of me…

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“I’m glad I got cancer”

I rarely hear woman say “I wanna be just like my mom someday”.  We hear boys say they want to be just like their dads when they grow up, why don’t woman say it more? Such different relationships…

Today, I yelled at John. You might think I don’t yell a lot, maybe it was just today? No, I yell all the time. I think my normal talking voice in this house is yelling. I cannot have a conversation without talking over John and his technology devices going off so I scream “Turn it down” mid-sentence and keep going. Newcomers to the Murphy household are usually shell shocked and wondering how I can even have a conversation and retain anything we talked about.

Anyway, I started off talking about mothers. I spent years praying to not be anything like my mom. Now I wish I was like her. She was a mother that had a lot against her. She raised four very different kids in a mostly unhappy marriage as a stay at home mom. After her divorce she went out to work as a bartender, later getting a job with the Chicago School system doing janitorial work. Her relationships with her kids were strained because we were little assholes. Except for my older brother Teddy, he was and is non-judgmental and empathetic. I know he was towards our mother, not so much with others. Even though I believe he really is but tries to play it off like he isn’t. He is generous and is always helping people. A friend of his went to prison and Teddy was the only one who kept in touch with him, sent him gifts, money, etc.  When I asked him why he even bothered he said, “Why not, the guys got nothing else going for him”. When that friend got out of prison, less than 3 months later he died of a heart attack. I think about how that poor man died when his life was getting ready to change for the better and how grateful he was for Teddy’s correspondence all those years.

My mom was diagnosis with brain cancer when Johnny was a baby. I was devastated and so was Teddy. Even today I feel these overwhelming waves of guilt in me for the absence in my mother’s life for so many years, it was intentional absence. I was so mean and judgmental. Unfortunately, it took an illness for me to have any empathy for her at all. She had cancer for 6 years before she passed, we had an amazing 6 years filled with great memories. I would hop on a plane every 3-6 months to visit her in Ireland where she lived to spend a few weeks with her. Teddy and I would take turns going, sometimes going together. Mom told my cousin Mikey one day, “I’m happy I got cancer. I don’t think I would have known how much everyone loves me”.

When he told me that my heart was broken for all the lost years. All the years she wanted to talk to me and I wouldn’t. All the years I didn’t even know why I was mad at her other than other family member’s influences. That day I vowed to live a life where there was no question about love. People I love know I love them because I tell them when I see them. Even if they think it’s strange, I say it. Last weekend, we went to John’s ECMO reunion to celebrate his survival. We have kept in touch with all those folks for over 12yrs. Danny, the ECMO specialist that cared for John, is a friend we see rarely but still considered a friend because of his role in our lives. As I was leaving I told Danny “I love you, see you next year”. He said he loves me back, but I didn’t’ expect that. I truly love him for his role in my son’s life, his survival.

When the feeling rises, I say it. On the other hand, people I dislike usually know it, too. Not because I tell them. Because I create boundary’s that keep them at a distance. For example, my sister and I haven’t seen or talked to each other since Dad died. I do not like her, how she treats her family or how she treats other people. I don’t want to judge her, condemn her or save her, so I create the boundaries. Some people need to save themselves and my role in their life may be only to watch me from afar or not.

I remember mom yelling at us when we were kids. Once she chased me around the front room with a broom and almost made contact. I probably said something disrespectful.

I hate that I yell at John. Sometimes I can’t help it. I always apologize to him without the “but”. I remind myself that I am teaching him how to be treated. We make mistakes, we make amends, we forgive, we pray and we live in gratitude. Thank God for the ability to take time outs, restart our day and thank god for LOVE!

At the end of the night he has never turned away a hug or kiss, for that I am grateful. At the end of the night he knows I love him!