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!!!!

“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!

7 years later…

A friend introduced me to Anne Lamott.

She gives a Ted talk about the 12 truths she learned from life and writing.  The two that immediately popped out at me are “stop helping so much” & “Just do it!”.

The other 10 are also spot on. But, in this moment in my life these two popped out to me personally.

Stop helping so much: I spent the last twenty years helping others even when I didn’t want to. I started to resent people because I was helping them. Today, that idea seems backwards to me. Today, when someone asks me for something I have learned to pause and think about it before saying yes. Sometimes I say “Let me check my schedule and get back to you”. I like to be able to say yes with the feeling of really wanting to help. If I say no, its because I really can not help. Something about the situation either doesn’t feel right with me or will be taking me away from something that is important to me. One of the ways I have combated the guilt I feel for not helping is advising on where else they can go for help. Sometimes people have to do a little more work, to help themselves.

Just do it: I used to start things and never finish. Or I would never start and talk about it for months or years. When I decided to change my life 7 years ago I never imagined I would become a “Get it” kind of girl! Today, one of my weaknesses may be my strength. I don’t think before I do. I get an idea and run with it! I try it, sometimes I fail and sometime I succeed. I do not let fear lead me, I let it trail behind me on my coat feathers trying to catch up. It’s always there. I am pretty sure if I thought too much about it, I wouldn’t do it. I would let the evil little committee in my head tell me I am crazy, slow me down or halt me all together. But, NO, today I just do it! Now, I own a business I love, I balance life with family (sometimes), and I am still married (happily, most days). Imagine that!

My 7 year anniversary is tomorrow. Happy 7 year to me! The day I decided to Just do it, for me!

Anne Lamott gives a Ted talk here. Love her balance of humor on serious topics. Must listen!!

 

A boy and his dog

Every morning while John is on the toilet I set up his toothbrush with a rinse cup. 12 years old and I can finally walk out of the bathroom while he brushes his teeth . I set it up, say “brush, rinse and come downstairs.” Today, he never came downstairs. While I’m getting his meds ready I shout up, “John, are you done brushing your teeth?”. His response, “Yah, brush Bosses teeth”. I run upstairs and find this.

Brush Bosses teeth

They are bonding. They are like brothers that like each other when it suits them. Boss sometimes knows nothing of personal space while John is always telling him to “watch your personal space!”. They still struggle at the top of the stairs every morning. Boss likes to take an entire step and lay there until you’re just ready to step on him. Then he moves. John enjoys letting Boss lick the white cheddar off his fingers from eating “Black Popcorn” (The white cheddar popcorn in a black bag). While he licks his fingers he says “Look tickles”.

I love that they are bonding and becoming friends. This could have gone either way.

A boy and his dog

Happy Mother’s Day

Every morning he says “whatda we have?”  This morning my response was “dance class”.  He replies “Chuckie cheese?’  I say, “No, Johnny you didn’t earn it.”.  Then he places his forehead against mine and kisses my nose gently.

This is the typical morning with John first thing.  He usually turns into a clown by tickling me, burping or farting.  But, he always says “exxxxxcuse me”.  He’s polite like that.

This morning for some reason he also asked for Grandpa and signed it.  I feel like his presence is here to say Happy Mother’s Day as well.

I am the luckiest mom in the world to have been chosen by John. He’s a clown, loving, feisty, polite, and more…and somehow I feel like I had nothing to do with all that.  I love this kid to bits!

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

Death of a Chameleon…

Death of a Chameleon 

I miss the beginning…

Closing my eyes and running forward not scared of what is ahead of me.

Being held up by my “friends”

Carefree

Loving myself

Being able to look in anyone’s eyes and feeling something

The excitement

The smell

Barcardi

A chameleon

Until one day the end came….

Open my eyes, now I’m scared

Losing all my friends

Heavy hearted

Hating myself

Scared to look, feeling ashamed and scared

The fear

The smell

Barcardi

Death of a chameleon

Is a new beginning

That wasn’t me; One of my favorite songs that really describes what it’s like to change from this chameleon to the real person I am today. That wasn’t me who made all those promises and created all that drama. This is me, today! That I can live with!

First blog post: Who am I?

Today, I am an entrepreneur, a mother and wife. As I type this my son has his head resting on my thigh with an oxygen mask attached to his face via a home concentrator. Its bedtime so my husband is downstairs watching TV and probably sleeping because I have the kid watch night shift. It’s a routine we have become accustomed to over the last 12 years. More on that later…

The past me was a nine to fiver for a 500K corporation. I was working my way up to the top, having liquid lunches, meaning Bacardi, and kid free. Until I fell into marriage, became a foster parent and had my son John. Then, I was a stay at home mom turned medical advocate with a crash course in medical jargon and an education advocate with “due process” always in my master plan, but thankfully never initiated. This ME became a lonely housewife that liked to party.

Once you hit your bottom there is no other place to go but up. If you are desperate enough to change and surround yourself with the right people they will give you the steps to keep you moving forward even on your loneliest days.

The future ME, I haven’t met yet. I take it one day at a time and let my life play out the way it should. 10 years ago, I never would have imagined being the owner of a successful sweet treat shop. I’m pretty sure anyone who knew me couldn’t imagine it either. I think this is why I am blogging. I want to start thinking about what I want to do next. Writing has been such a healing process for me over the years. Some of what I wrote I shared on social media sites and some I did not. This is the time for me to heal from my past, move forward and write about it.

Maybe my future me is a writer?