Treatment: Hope

The summer of 2017 has not been kind to me and my family, both close and extended. So many people I care about have had diagnoses that literally upended their lives this summer, some temporarily, others forever. I’ve been operating under the mire of worry for the last month, trying to find my way past the grey clouds swirling about my head. I’ve spent a lot of time worrying, researching, crying and angry, pondering why things seem so damn unfair. No answers, just the echo of my questions as a reply.

This week I realized something, though. As I watch the stress mount on everyone, as I watch the numbness, shock, and dismay turn to anger, I ask, “How much more? How much before we break?” While I do not get the answers I seek, I do get the picture in my mind of a mountain.

Why the mountain? Well, when you think about it, it’s a steep climb with few footholds to make it to the top. It’s a tough journey, the toughest of your life, and questioning whether you can conquer what seems impossible. That’s exactly what we are all doing. We are standing there facing that treacherous climb and asking ourselves, can I make it? Do I have what it takes? What if…?

You have to embrace your strength. You have to face that mountain with every ounce of tenacity, guts, and grit that you can muster, if for no other reason than that the minute you doubt your own strength, the battle is lost. Even before that first step is taken, you will lose if you don’t embrace hope. Hope becomes all you have. And it can be enough.

You have to have the hope that you will reach the top of that mountain, that you will stand at the peak and scream to the world, “It didn’t beat me! I faced my battle and it didn’t beat me!” Keeping that in mind is what will keep you going. It will see you through. It will be enough.

I am looking at all this that our family is going through and trying to convince myself that this bump in the road may be more like a crater, but it isn’t insurmountable. We are a strong group of people. We are fighters. We are stubborn. We are strong. We have hope. And that is enough.

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Hello 40’s, Goodbye Freewheelin’

What is it about entering your 40’s and the rapid decline of health? I find myself asking this question more and more as I sink deeper into the quagmire of midlife. I’ve had many health victories this past year, not the least among them a whopping 84 pound weight loss. But, alas, weight loss, awesome as it is and still on my list of focal points for my life, is not the magic bullet we think it is. Friends, sometimes life happens and it cares less about the scale than anything possibly could.

2017 is shaping up to be the bane of my insurance company’s and wallet’s existence. It’s six months old and already I’ve had a five day hospital stay, sleep apnea diagnosis, am unable to see much of anything without my glasses (no shock, I come from some serious mole people) and my asthma. Lord, help me, my asthma.

Before now, for decades I had an inhaler banging around in the bottom of my purse, an accessory I carried only when I didn’t have pockets or had more to haul around than one hand could easily manage. I’m not a high maintenance woman. Less is more in all aspects of my life, whether it’s makeup or possessions. However, the recent diagnosis of sleep apnea–a total accidental find to begin with–sent me back to the lung specialist.

Turns out that my lungs are revolting. Enacting a coup. Plain old being more than just a pain in my chest. I went from one lonely, probably expired inhaler, to having one on my person at all times and one for each floor of the house. In addition to that lovely aerosol accoutrement, I also have three pills and an inhaled steroid to take daily. As if that wasn’t enough, I am also tethered to a nebulizer and peak flow meter every four hours. And, like this week, if I have an exacerbation, add a butt ton of prednisone and antibiotics to that list. For the first time ever, I have to wear a medical alert tag at all times because, like Tuesday, there may come a time where I am unable to speak because I can’t breathe.

It’s overwhelming for me and my family.

I have an emergency paper laminated and hanging on the fridge so the kids know what to do if days like Tuesday happen again. I have a bright yellow folder accessible at all times that lists all my meds and allergies should they have to call 911 and speak for me.

It’s scary stuff.

While there are more health issues I’m dealing with, and will undoubtedly blog about, I am trying my damndest to remain upbeat, to not let asthma have the last word. The Type A in me is pissed that this was not part of THE PLAN. You know, the preordained by me PLAN of how my life was supposed to go. But the normal part of me, small as that may be, knows that life is unpredictable. Because of that I have to roll with the flow. Accept what I can change, right?

So, for now, asthma calls the shots. But while I struggle to learn how to keep it in check, I am not going to give up the hope that I can go back to my untethered to machines, freewheelin’ ways.

Someday.

Hopefully soon.

Do you deal with asthma? What are your triggers? How long have you dealt with it? Let me know in the comments!

A Lesson Learned From a Lack of Sympathy

 

It was a cold, rainy day in February of 1995 that I stood on a pier in 26624_519604171384387_214086220_nNorfolk, Virginia and watched  tiny tug boats drag and push the mighty USS Wasp into port. It took hours for this feat to take place and you’d think I’d be bored, but no. Those hours were spent with other family members waiting for their sailors and Marines to come home, too. They were spent in the company of those who understood that military sacrifice doesn’t begin and end with enlistment. It includes the spouses, children and parents of our enlisted men and women, those left behind to carry on when they give the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country.

Sacrifice.

Service.

Two very important words that seem to be lost on Donald Trump these days as evidenced by his callous treatment of the Khan family after the loss of their son, Captain Humayan Khan.

I watched Mr. Khan’s speech at the DNC from so many perspectives. I identified with his loss on many levels, because, while I didn’t lose my husband to war during his time in the Navy, I could have. And I lived with that fear every day for four years. I sincerely appreciated the sentiment when higher ranking officers thanked me for my husband’s service. I needed to hear them. I needed to know that his sacrifices meant something. I can only imagine that they are needed a thousand times more for the Khan family given that their son paid with his life.

Add to this Donald Trump, candidate for Commander-in-Chief. “I’d like to hear his wife say something.” What is the Khan family supposed to glean from that? Instead of sympathy, empathy, kindness or compassion, all Trump could offer in response was a xenophobic, racist comment alluding to his own ignorance. He belittled their loss and offered nothing in the way of comfort.

As I watched Mrs. Khan standing there, silent and stoic, I put myself in her shoes. It’s not too difficult. I have a son whose life plan involves military enlistment in two year’s time. In my mind she was a pillar of strength, holding it together in front of a gargantuan picture of her son’s face—a face she never dreamed she’d have to say a final goodbye to and keep living herself. That would be enough to bring me to my knees, a snotty, blubbering mess on national television. As a father, Trump couldn’t even identify with that loss and grief. He couldn’t recognize the strength it took for Mrs. Khan to simply be present at that moment, silent but no less strong for her lost son.

Mr. and Mrs. Khan sacrificed, too. Above and beyond the sacrifices every parent makes for their children, they made the sacrifices all our military families nationwide make. There are missed holidays and birthdays because of their service. Missed births and funerals because of their call to duty for our country. Children are raised without a parent, many of them meeting each other for the first time in an airport or on a pier–the children, waiting hesitantly by the legs of the adult that brought them, a little bit afraid of the stranger they call Mommy or Daddy. Service members’ families stand in their stead at these life events to ensure that they are represented and remembered while they are off fighting for something bigger than themselves. And while that fills many of us with pride, it also fills us with fear, worry and loneliness.

When the worst happens and we lose that family member in service to his/her country, we expect the Commander-in-Chief to recognize their service and their sacrifice. We expect the highest ranking member of our military to recognize our sacrifice as family as well as our loss. Because I am an American mother whose son may well be off to war very soon, I will enter my second go ’round of worry and steadfast representation while he sacrifices all in service to his country. And I refuse to do it knowing I voted into office the man who cared so little for a soldier’s life he couldn’t even offer up condolences to his grieving parents. If a simple “I’m sorry for your loss” isn’t within his vocabulary, then, come November, may it be the only sentence Donald Trump hears.

IWA Podcast interview

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by the International Writers Association’s Robert J. Moore. In November I joined this group and met Robert, a truly kind and, I must say, the happiest guy I’ve ever met.

Stop by the podcast and follow it to get it in your inbox. Give it a review on iTunes and pass it along to friends and others you know who might like it or benefit from the great info there. Thanks for listening!

Click here to listen to the interview or click the IWA logo below.

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