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?

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Keep me posted

This afternoon John has a doctor’s appointment with his pulmonary doctor, Dr. Lestrud. He was been following John for 12 years now, since John was born. Our relationship hasn’t always been sunshine and daisies. We have learned having and keeping a doctor is hard, like any relationship.

Back in the day when John was on the vent, oxygen, feeding tube and 13 medications 3X a day I would call Dr. Lestrud my “bad boyfriend”. I needed him in my life, but I wish I didn’t. He never listened to me and doesn’t call me back until I start crying.

It took a few mistakes and steps back for him to start hearing my suggestions. I vividly remember talking to him on the phone one afternoon crying because John was home sick and not improving. I was upset that it took so long for him to call me back. I was upset that the medication he was using wasn’t helping and that he wouldn’t prescribe a steroid to help him. We talked for about 15 minutes, I stopped crying, he apologized for making me feel unimportant and we agreed on a plan moving forward. Which if I remember correctly worked out well. I rarely cried when I called him but this time I had reached a limit. I believe he knew that and took action to make the situation a little easier for us.

Ironically, his wife, who is his 2nd wife, was a nurse in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and took care of John at some point. They have 4 kids together, he has 4 other kids from his first marriage. I often wondered if he was this apologetic as a husband as he was with me that day. But, that would be getting too personal with the doctor.

I’m not saying I was always right. He needed to trust me so he can treat my son and I needed to trust him. There is a balance between what is medically right and what I want. Conversations need to be had, respectfully. I don’t know what medications he needs. But, Dr. Lestrud doesn’t know either unless I can articulate what is happening to John in medical terms, with less emotions. Mom’s with chronically ill kids get a crash course in medical jargon and pick it up quickly.

Over the years I have learned to take the emotion out of my communications. It’s not always easy and I didn’t always do it well. But, I did learn that when I can articulate our needs without crying, name calling or being passive aggressive we get better results. This applies in advocating for education, medical and social needs.

When John first came home from the hospital he was going to at least 5 appointments a month. Every appointment I thought there was going to be some great revelation or milestone. Most cases I was disappointed. Most appointments were the usual nurse’s check in (weigh, temp and blood pressure), sit in the room for almost an hour because they over book, see the doctor for 15 minutes and schedule the next appointment for 3-6 months later.  Eventually we were told to come back in 6 months and that seemed like a milestone. 6month!!! You mean not 3 months???  Yeah!!

Today, we are going to see Dr. Lestrud after 3 months to talk about his oxygen needs. I still think something amazing will come out of this, but deep down the little committee in my head is saying “STOP IT, you know it will be a meet and greet and a “keep me posted on his progress at home” visit.” That’s what I get for knowing my son so well, for advocating for him so well all these years. I get a “keep us posted” from the doctor. (Smile) That sentence seriously gave me butterflies, yes that’s me patting myself on the back, after 12 years. Yes, I am patting myself on the back.

Slow and steady is how we roll

Dr. Lestrud explained what a good wean looks like and we set a plan. Wean the liters from 4 to 3 and see how it goes.  We both agreed we want him to start school in September with or without the oxygen.

Go home and “keep me posted”

ilovebowling
I just wanna bowl!!!!

#Healing

Summer fun is not so fun…

Today is Saturday. I am a business owner on top of a multitude of other titles. On the days I am not going into the shop I always check in with the video cameras to make sure someone showed up for their shift. Today, no one showed up to open the shop. So after getting a text saying she asked someone else to cover her shift but never told me so I could change the schedule, I had to pack up John and head over to the shop to open. This is where I start wondering why I thought I could be a business owner and John’s mom and contemplate closing shop and then slap myself out of it.

John doesn’t like to just get up and go. There is a process, a plan, a schedule that needs to be followed. Today, we were supposed to go to Rosemont at 2:30 for the Special Olympics Ice cream social. Next, home for water balloons. Next, Irish fest. We were not supposed to go to Josi’s at 12:15pm or any time during the day. After throwing his clothes and shoes on, driving to the shop he was pretty pissed.

When we got out of the car he tried throwing his oxygen tank at me. A guy riding his bike passed slowed down to watch. When we started walking to the door he tried pulling the tubing off. An elder man stopped to ask if I needed help. Once we got to the door I knew I needed to literally shove him into the store with tank, lock the door and dart to turn off the alarm. If John heard that alarm our day would be ruined. So that is what I did unannounced to John. John didn’t appreciate the shove but with a shocked look went to sit down at the nearest chair, thank God!!!

Once the alarm was off and doors locked I worked on opening the store while John sat on the chair chanting and screaming at me. “Mom, mom, mom, Get over here right now, I said get over here!” Over and over again. Apparently, I say that to him a lot.

A customer came to the door so I opened warning them that the shop just opened and product isn’t ready for about 5 minutes. I apologized and continued to get the shop ready while John continued chanting his chant. Meanwhile, I was texting everyone trying to get them to come in or friends to watch John, there is no way I can sit here all day with John and tend to customers.

Finally, the newest girl hired said she could make it. Two girls have been suspended and don’t start back till Monday so I didn’t even ask them. One girl was at a baby shower. I fired the girl that didn’t come in. It was the easiest fire ever since she was literally a backup, ironically that couldn’t back us up. I just took her off the schedule and told the team they can no longer use her as a backup. Didn’t even tell her.

When the girl finally showed up I took my phone and sat down next to John at the table he was chanting at. It took all of my strength to not cry. I sat there staring at John, he stared back at me finally saying nothing. I took a deep breath and started chanting to myself “God help me, god help me, god help me”, while holding back tears with my back to the audience at the counter.

Since the last night shift didn’t let me know we were out of strawberries, blueberries, donuts and a bulb was out; it was off to Target.

It had to be Target, because that is the only store John will go to without a fight. I’m just glad all the items I needed were at Target. Mission accomplished, dropped off at the shop and home we go!

On the way home he sat in the back seat the quietest I have ever seen him. So quiet I had to ask if he was ok. His beautiful face just looks over at me with a smile and says “I’m ok mommy, stop asking, I’m ok”.  That his new thing, telling me to stop asking even if I only asked once. Was this the calm before the storm? In my head I am trying to figure out how to keep him this calm….

Cancel Rosemont

Cancel the Irish fest

He’s way off his game.

Home – FINALLY – Kevin comes home early to relieve me so I can go to jewel for dinner, pet store for food and hardware store for a fly swatter! Ahhh…a break for me!

He has his water balloons… all is right with HIS world. Until daddy tell him only 5, not 10. I’m outta here….

I managed not to cry in public, only in my car…

I can’t wait to go to bed….it’s only 4:30pm….

People are texting me asking where we are….no show again.

I’m watching all the other mom-entrepreneurs take their kids to work and be good at it #SmallBizMom…no go here.

#Feeling Sad

#KeepTheFaith

#GoodNightSweetWorld

I tell this story to heal, not for sympathy….I need to heal and others can heal from reading, hopefully. Sharing our experience, our strength and our hope is how we heal. #Healing

tell your story

“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!

Grateful for the chaos

Today, I thought to myself “I don’t think I’ve had my period in a while?” So I checked my handy little memo pad on my phone and the last period was May 8th! Which means I am either due for my period July 8th and just skipped a month or I am going through menopause. I know, you’re sitting there reading this thinking “Girl, you better get a pregnancy test!” But, I refuse to believe that I am pregnant.  I’m too old for that!

In the meantime, I am losing my mind. I walk into a room and forget what I came in for. I start working on my computer and forget what I was starting to do. John is downstairs throwing remote controls around, chanting and suffering through the consequences, so dramatically. The sitter just texted to say she will be here at 12:30pm instead of 10am because she had to pick up her niece. Opps, I guess we aren’t a priority!

Last night, I sent an email to North Park University to inquire about a second Bachelor’s degree in elementary education.  I can’t sell froyo forever, right?! Can I?! I sent this email after working a 12 hour shift two days in a row because I suspended two girls at the shop, one I should have fired but seem to have a soft spot and can’t do it.

Sounds chaotic? That’s not the half of it. But, this is life. I will take this life over the crazy chaos I created on my own 7 years ago. I need to be reminded that even if life gets crazy I have the tools to get through it with grace and dignity. I can do this without screaming, crying or curling up into a ball.

Grateful for progress and not protection, grateful for the ability to restart my day at any time of the day so I can at least try to get it right and grateful for my chaos!

Now, let me go downstairs and go over the schedule with my son for the 15th time this morning, its 10:34am.  The boys excited that mommy is taking the day off tomorrow to go bowling with him. Hopefully, the employees show up for work!

The Hubs: 2017 Edition

My hubs…

Some days I refer to him as my BFF, others not so much. If you are going to have a child like John, the trifecta of disabilities (CDH, Epilepsy & Autism), you better like who you live with because you will be spending a lot of time with them.

Some days we are all we have. No one is inviting us over to BBQ’s and people surely aren’t bringing their kids over to play with my son. At the end of the day he is the only person I can vent to, tell how I feel or just sit in silence with. It’s comfortable, its safe, somedays it’s hard and somedays it’s just perfect.

We separated for two years in 2012 (I think, maybe 2011). That separation is what saved our relationship. Before we separated I was almost 2 years sober, he was an active alcoholic. He left me telling me that I was doing great things and he was holding me back. I made sure he knew that was a great excuse but it’s really because he’s too scared to grow with me.

The first year we lived under the same roof, the second year he moved out into his own condo a few blocks away. I started dating in the second year. Nothing great to talk about. It’s amazing how many men my age live in their mom’s basement apartment, hate their ex’s and just are so lost in who they are. I had literally no success, obviously. I eventually just focused on me and building a business.

During those two years Kevin always treated me well. He treated me better while we were separated then he ever did while we were together. He stopped by the house every night to see his son, he fixed what needed to be fixed, he cooked, cleaned and was an amazing example for who a father should be, except for the part about sticking around in a marriage.

John became ill in 2014 with the flu. He ended up in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Children’s Memorial for one month. At that time, we didn’t know if John was going to survive. They were using words that would prepare us for incubation and what happens if he didn’t start breathing on his own. After about 3 weeks John turned the corner. He started sitting up, breathing and laughing. We were amazed and so grateful for everyone involved in saving our son. It wasn’t the first time and wouldn’t be the last.

During those 4 weeks Kevin and I were carpooling to avoid the $15.00 a day parking fee at the hospital garage. He would drive over after work texting me when he arrived and I would go down and take his truck home while he went up with John. Some days we would go home together, clean up and head back to the hospital. We would sit and chat about John’s past and how strong he is. We gave each other huge praises for keeping him alive. We talked about the good times and the hard times. During this time I was in the process of opening up my shop. Kevin was right there helping with the build out, getting permits, supplies and contracts. He was amazing.  I asked him one day on the way back to the hospital, “Why are you being so good to me? We are not together anymore, you can just move on”. He said, “This is for all of us. Just because we aren’t together doesn’t mean we aren’t a family”.

Kevin is a man of few words but sometimes he amazes me with the words he speaks.

I know he struggles with his own demons, I have seen them. But, he really has the best intentions for his family.

Today, I can’t imagine being with any other man. When I am angry at him I imagine what it would be like. I let my crazy mind travel into places, imagining myself with another man or running away by myself to a deserted island. The scenarios I create in my mind always end with me thinking Kevin would treat me kinder. Or Kevin wouldn’t judge me like that, Kevin would have made it all OK.

Every Sunday morning he brings me breakfast in bed. Every night he tucks his son in to bed. Every day he tells me he loves me. He is humble. He is kind. These are the things I need to remember when times get tough.

#GoodNightSweetWorld

People that cry

My son John has been in the hospital.  He has the flu which means he needs ventilator support and drugs that open his airway and more drugs to counter the side effects of those drugs.  It’s a vicious cycle with the drugs, scares me to think the damage it’s doing to his body.  But, extremely grateful for the good it does.  Wednesday and Thursday night I never left the hospital.  I closed the store Thursday night because no one could cover my shift.  The kids that work for me seem too busy to work at times between college, family and social obligations.  Friday morning, I had to go into the shop to clean a machine.  I figured while I was out I would catch lunch with Nora and her daughter Zoe. 

Zoe is a feisty, bossy little lady that is descend for great things.  She’s a princess on some days with her Frozen princess Ella dress and a regular little girl on other days with her Pajama wearing style. She loves to make people smile but she has to be fed first.  She’s a girl after my own heart.  Nora and I arrived at Fannies, our favorite BLT hot spot, at the same time.  She was walking from her car with little Zoe trotting beside her chatting while I crossed the street to meet them at the front door.  Something about Zoe’s spark made me emotional.  I started thinking about Johnny and how he loves to make people smile.  My heart was broken watching him struggle in the hospital.  The last three days he hasn’t smiled at all.  When Zoe seen me she walked right up to me and hugged my legs.  The top of her head reaches just above my knees.  Her skinny little arms grabbed hold of my knees and gave a big squeeze.  Then she looked up at me and handed me two stickers.  Nora explained that she wanted to share her stickers to make me happy while I am so sad. The water works came on so much so that I couldn’t bring myself to sit down and eat lunch. 

This scene lasted less than a minute but has forever been engraved in my mind.  It reminded me of my own childhood and how we dealt with tears and sadness.  As a child, if I saw someone cry I was like a deer in headlights.  I didn’t know what to do.  The thought of providing a sad person with a hug or pat on the back was completely awkward to me.  It still is sometimes today. 

My father never cried, other than when his mother died and my son was born. I believe the fact that he didn’t cry was a life accomplishment for him.  While my dad was dying from cancer I set up his bedroom in our living room, Sunshine Rehab he called it.  I was forced to enroll John back in school instead of homeschooling because I knew I couldn’t handle the pressures of caring for Dad and John at the same time.  The first day of John’s school I came home crying because I felt they didn’t want him there, I was almost 5years sober at this time so crying wasn’t a weakness anymore, it was my strength.  My dad just stared at me like a deer in headlights.  A few days later he confessed to me that when he seen me like that, crying and all, “I almost cried”.  Imagine that.  He said it like it was an accomplishment that he didn’t cry.  As if crying would have been a bad thing. 

The last time my dad cried was with me.  He told me he was sorry I had to go through this.  I asked, “This?  Go through what?”.  He said, “Having to watch me die. You had to watch your mother die and now you are watching me die and I’m sorry for that”.  I said, “Thank you for allowing me to be here to take care of you, I love you”. Then we cried with our foreheads touching each other. 

Dad said, “Im gonna miss you”

I said, “You’ll be gone, Im gonna miss you more”

And I do ❤