Thursday, May 30, 2013

Every Day is a Gift

Every Day is a Gift

For the past two weeks, I have been doing my student practicum (internship) for Health Information Technology at Gentiva Hospice. I thought I would just be learning about medical records, but what I really learned is far more valuable than  any degree I will be earning when it's all over.

I have always been the kind of person who gives everything I have to anyone who asks. I've lost thousands of dollars, my dignity, my heart, my trust in other people, my confidence in myself, and so much more over the years. In fact, the day I began this internship, the man I thought was the love of my life decided he didn't love me any more and walked out on me and my children like we never meant a thing to him. It felt like my heart had been stabbed a thousand times over. I had never felt so crushed. I was in shock. I absolutely couldn't believe the man that once wanted to marry me (one day, he said) and adopt my children as his own, was throwing in the towel and walking away from it all. All of the plans we had made for the future, for the kids' future, for our life together, were gone in the blink of an eye. I felt like a complete shell of a person that morning. Not only did he completely devastate me, but I worried even more so for my children who adored him. The other day, I finally broke down and told my six year old daughter that he wasn't coming back, and she cried...hard. She couldn't understand why this man who had doted on her so much was never coming home. It took me a few times of explaining to her that he wasn't just staying somewhere else for now, that he was staying somewhere else forever. She asked if we could go visit him and when I told her no, she cried again. When it first happened, I really hadn't had a chance to process it all because I was in so much shock. Denial I guess you could say. It wasn't until I was driving to my first day at my internship at the hospice that it hit me. I called my Mom and broke the news to her and then I completely broke down. I pulled my car off to the side of the road and just talked to her for a few minutes, sobbing into the phone. She helped me pull it together enough to make it through that first day of my internship. I had wanted to cancel the whole thing, give up on school, and to be honest, I was ready to give up on life in general. I didn't know what my life was any more. I had made him and our family my entire world and that world was gone in an instant. It may seem a little dramatic, but to me, it really felt like a death. To have everything you've ever wanted in life taken away from you just like that, with no warning, with no real reason, and in such a cruel and heartless manner, is more than hard. But I had to keep going. Somehow, I pulled myself together, and I kept going. I know now that there was a reason for it.
Over the next few days, I learned a lot about hospice care and what it all means. Many people are against hospice for one reason or another. Some people think you should fight death tooth and nail, even if it means being hooked up to countless machines, on more medications than any one person should ever have to be on, other people just don't want to accept the reality of a terminal disease. Denial. Then there are some people who think hospice is about speeding up death. Pump them full of morphine, slow their heart and their respiratory systems down slowly with drugs until they die. What I learned over these past two weeks was that hospice is not even close to what I thought it was. When a person is put on hospice, they have a terminal diagnosis. There's a life expectancy of six months or less. Some people last longer, some last only for days or even hours in some cases. You expect the patients on hospice to be elderly and just ready to go. I learned quickly that it is not always the case. 

The first case that really got to  me was the story of a young man who is 35 years old that had fallen from some height and suffered severe brain damage. He was a drug addict at one point in his life and had acquired HIV. He's currently in a nursing home on hospice care and his body is failing him by the day. He loved the outdoors and his family had requested someone push him outside in a wheelchair, however, he has to be suctioned ever few minutes or he will choke to death on his own fluids. In order to grant his families wish to take him outside, they would have to agree to not have him suctioned for the duration of the outing, whether it's five minutes or fifteen and to allow him to die if that should happen. It took a long time for his mother to finally sign a do not resuscitate order on him, surely she wasn't going to agree to let him die just to fulfill his wish to go outdoors. The decision is still pending, and every day this man sits by the window just staring outside, longing to get out. He can no longer communicate. His death in in his mother's hands. Just as she brought him into this world, she is going to be the one to help him leave it. How she chooses that to happen for him I may never know. The day I heard about his case, I got into my car and bawled my eyes out. He is only a few years older than me, I thought. What if that was me? It could be. It could happen to any of us. I couldn't imagine the next two years of my life as being my last. I was overwhelmed with the feeling of loss.  I thought I had lost so much over the past few days with the demise of my relationship, and here this man was, losing his life. How silly of me to feel sorry for myself. But I did, for a little while. It's just human nature.

A few days later, I was able to go into the field on a volunteer patient visit. I met with an 88 year old man and his wife and daughter who were his caregivers. He was suffering from end stage dementia and was nothing but skin and bones. But the minute my manager and I walked into his room, he beamed from ear to ear and said "Where have you been?". He may not know where is he or who many people around him are, but he knew enough. He was the sweetest little old man. As he lay in his hospital bed in his bedroom, he gripped onto the bedrails tight. Every once in a while, he would reach over to hold my hand. He kept telling me how pretty I was, and asked me if I was comfortable. At one point, he even tried to give me some of his lotions as a gift. "Take whatever you want" he said. "I don't need it". He was a WWII veteran, and had worked in New York City as a traffic cop, or so I learned from his wife and daughter. As they left to attend his wife's doctor's appointment, he talked my ear off. It took me a minute to realize he still had a New York accent but once I did, I understood him much better. He trailed off occasionally and I couldn't make out what he was trying to say, but I'd play along like I did. He swore like a New Yorker too, which made me giggle. He talked about the war and about an Irishman who "never fucking listened to him". Then he got quiet for a minute. We sat holding hands, and then he pointed down the dark hall outside of his room and said "Daddy".  I asked him if he saw his Dad in the hallway sometimes. His father is obviously long since passed away. He looked at me and shook his head and said, "Yeah. He wants me to go with him, but he's much faster than me. I don't think I could keep up".  It was as if he had no dementia at all the way he spoke about it. I told him he could go with him when he's ready, that he didn't have to be in a hurry to go. And as if I had just taken a big burden off of his mind, he sighed a deep sigh of relief and closed his eyes for a minute. When he opened them back up and began talking again, he was back to talking about things that didn't make any sense. 

I thought about him a lot throughout the rest of the day. I thought about his wife and how hard it must be on her and their daughter to watch him slip away like that day by day. I thought about how her heart must be breaking inside knowing that the man she spent most of her life with will leave her soon. I think about how tired she must be, mentally, physically and emotionally. She herself is recovering from melanoma surgery. I want to visit them again. I know just having a volunteer there is a big help. Part of me wonders if a little part of her might just be waiting for it to be over. The man she loved for so long isn't really there anymore. I'm sure she catches glances of the man he used to be from time to time, but for the most part, he's just not there. This family is the reason I decided that even after my internship is over, I'm going to volunteer to do respite care for Gentiva. It's hard to see people in their final days, but my heart just wants to help ease the stress of it for them and their families, even if it's just for an hour at a time.

When my Grandparents were in hospice, I was younger, but I helped my Mom as much as I could, especially with my Grandfather. The hospice nurses and aides that came and took care of him were wonderful. Ever since then, I have been a huge hospice supporter, but it wasn't until I actually worked with Gentiva that I truly realized how special this field really is, and how much I am honored to be a part of it. I wonder if I'll truly be strong enough to do it, but I think my heart knows now that death and loss is a part of life. Lord knows I have experienced my fair share of loss, especially recently, but it doesn't have to be all bad. The hospice symbol is a butterfly because of the way it transitions from one form to another. When we die, we most certainly transition. We go somewhere else, in a different form. It doesn't have to be all ugly, gloomy and sad. Death and loss can be a blessing in disguise, and hospice is there to make that transition just a little bit easier.

I'm going to be sad when my old man passes away, but I will be happy knowing he is back with his Dad, and that for just a little while, I was lucky enough to hold his hand and share in his journey as he transitioned from this life to whatever awaits him. If I have taken one thing away from this internship experience, it is that life is really short. The second to last day of my internship, I learned about a 20 year old in hospice care because of an inoperable brain tumor. That will really put things into perspective. I have learned so much about myself over these past two weeks. I've learned that I am a million times stronger than I give myself credit for. I've learned that even in things such as death and loss, there is a silver lining to be found. I've learned that you should love as much as you can, no matter what the cost, because in the end, love is all that really matters. You may someday regret the things you have done in your life, but the one thing you will always remember is the way other people loved you. I think Dr. Seuss once said, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." Every day is truly a gift. Make the best of each and every one. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Is anyone still out here? It's been a while...

I know I haven't blogged in forever. I've been trying to grasp what the reason is behind that, and the only thing I can come up with is that I seem to write my best blogs when there is some kind of drama or issue in my life. I get utterly stressed out, and turn to writing to figure it all out in my head. Half of it never makes it to the posting stage, but I at least feel better after getting it all out of my system and onto my computer. That being said, I haven't really had anything that stressful going on lately that I've felt the immediate urge to sit down at my laptop and blog about it. THIS IS A GOOD THING. I'm not complaining at all, I have just come to this realization. Not gonna lie, it's kind of awesome.

And, what's even better? I think I know the reason WHY I'm not nearly as stressed in my life as I have been in the past. It's not a some-thing, but a some-one. I was the biggest freaker outer known to man about everything. I didn't know how to deal with the stress of my life from time to time and I would just lose it occasionally. In the past, the people I was in a relationship with really didn't know how to make me feel any better or make the situation any easier. I was always the one who was left to figure everything out on my own. It was not easy by any means, but I got good at making things work one way or another. But after 15 years of having to figure it all out on my own, I was getting tired of bearing all of the burden myself. What's crazy is that I didn't realize how tired I was getting until I met someone who took some of the burden off of me. Honestly, I had no idea just how much I was dealing with on a daily basis until he came along and said, let me help you a little bit and do this while you're dealing with that. Whoa. Like seriously, I had no idea that men like him still existed. I had heard that there were a few of them still in existence, but I was sure that all of them were either married already or gay. Not to mention he was the LAST guy on earth I ever expected to be like this. But I am SO glad that I was wrong about him and decided to give it a shot with him.

We've been together for only about four months, but in those four months, he has been nothing short of amazing to me. What a wake up call he has been for me. My life has been totally great for the past few months, and I think a lot of my happiness is a direct result of him. No, it's not that I need a man in my life to be happy, but with a man like him  in my life, it's a lot happier. It's nice to not have to figure it all out on my own anymore. When stuff comes up in life, like it always does, we put our heads together and work it out. Together. Like it SHOULD be, but wasn't for me for so long. I am more self-confident because of him. I love myself much more now than I ever have, which in turn allows me to love others more deeply. I'm excited for my future for once. There was a time I didn't even really think about the future, I just lived life day to day waiting for the next disaster to strike. Let me tell you, that's no way to live. I'm excited for Christmas this year. For Thanksgiving. For next Sunday. For no reason at all, other than I get to spend more time with this man. 

I know what you're thinking. You think that it's still "new" and once that wears off, I'll be right back to my old cynical self. I hope that doesn't happen. I don't really think it will. When you are with someone who compliments you as a whole, there's always a new adventure to be had. All I know is that I'm happy I don't have to take on these adventures alone anymore.

So, I'm sorry I've been slacking at blogging lately, it's just that I haven't had much to bitch about. I guess I'm going to have to start taking a new approach to this blog and figure something else out to write about. Family stuff, recipes, I don't know. But when I get it straight in my head, you'll be the first to know.


Monday, July 16, 2012


Up until this point in my life, I thought I had a pretty good idea of where I was headed. Ok, that is sort of a lie, but in all honesty, the older I get, the less of an idea I have and that's some scary shit right there. Maybe they need to up my meds or something, I don't know, but as time goes on, I get more and more afraid that I'm gonna wake up tomorrow and not know where the past 10 years of my life went. Shouldn't I be getting a BETTER idea of what I'm doing the older I get? I seriously have no freaking clue. Like, I woke up this morning and looked in the mirror and noticed how much OLDER I look now. I have wrinkles! I have gray hairs. I wear a lot of pajamas. In public sometimes. My hair is a disaster. I wear makeup everyday but it doesn't help the situation. I can't zip my pants. I don't sleep right anymore. I'm FREAKING OUT, MAN! It's like the shock of turning thirty hit me two years later. 

My oldest son is embarrassed at my singing "Brokenhearted" by Karmin. I guess I'm not supposed to know those types of songs. I remember my own mother bursting out into song in the car and feeling embarrassed over her too. Mom, if you're reading this, I'm sorry. I get it now. Kids suck. They think they know it all because they're younger and more hip. I'm a cool Mom, damn it! So what if I wear Mom Jeans sometimes. Have to tried those things on??? They are super comfortable and hide the flab that those ungrateful brats created. GOD forbid I wear a bathing suit in public. These kids not only stole my body from me for over 9 months EACH, now they have the audacity to steal my youth from me too. I'll be damned. I'm gonna be singing "Good Vibrations" by Marky Mark until the day I die and bustin' a move in the car as I do. Kids be damned. I'm gonna embarrass the living crap out of them for the rest of their lives because I am ENTITLED to do so for all I do for them. One day, they will look back on how much fun I was and appreciate me for who I am: A fun loving, caring, hugging, kissy Mom who will raise these brats to be respectful loving adults if it kills me, which it probably will sooner than later. 

My kids will NOT wear saggy pants and leave the label on their hats. They WILL sing Bel Biv Devoe's "Poison" with me and dance in the seats of the car.  My kids won't spend ALL of their time on the Internet. No way. They WILL pick up a book or at least a freakin' Kindle once in a while and read something other than the snide comments their idiot friends will be leaving on their Facebook posts. My kids will not be spoiled brats who will just have everything handed to them. I will teach them the value of working for something you want and earning it. That in itself has proved to be an ongoing and tough battle but I'm never gonna give up on that one. All in all, I have a long and treacherous road ahead of me. Good thing I've got my hiking shoes on. And maybe, just maybe, I'll figure out where I'm going as I try to point them in the right direction, too.

I love you, Aidan, Ava and Alivia. <3
You may be brats at times, but you're MY brats and I wouldn't want it any other way.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Rules of the Game

     Billions of people use Facebook and Twitter every day. I love them both, as I am by nature, a nosy person and love to see what everyone else is up to that I know. It's a blessing and a curse, as I probably spend more time than I should on these sites every day. It's my favorite hobby. Not only has Facebook kept me in touch with friends and family, but the things people share with me via these internet outlets have kept me laughing and given me support and love every day of my life. However, there are those people who just don't seem to understand that there are rules and manners that should be followed online and that you have to have thick skin sometimes when it comes to online communication. The following is just my observation and what I feel everyone should practice when it comes to social media.

  1. Don't fight online. It may seem simple enough, but it's really easy to go off the deep end on someone about something online that you may not want to deal with later on in person. Learn to keep your hands off the keyboard. It's one thing to state your opinion and debate on a topic of interest, but keep your emotions out of it. Don't name call and don't instigate. Be respectful or be quiet. 
  2. It's perfectly fine to update your status as often as you see fit, but overkill may cause you to have your friends unfriend you or hide you from their news feed. I like to update my status often, and some apps I use update my page frequently, but that's more for my own use than to keep the rest of the world in the know. However, there is a difference in ranting all day long over and over again about the same thing than sharing events as they happen throughout the day. Expect your friend who just had a baby to clog your news feed with thousands of pictures of their new bundle of joy. It's a parent's right and they can't help themselves. Expect your friend who's on an awesome vacation to post a ton of pictures of a great place you wish you could be. They want you to be jealous, and you probably will be. Be jealous, but be happy for them and comment all over that crap. Live vicariously through their photos. That's what I do, anyway. If someone is annoying you, learn how to unsubscribe from their updates. You can always go back to their page as you like to check in on them. Kind of like the old MySpace days (dare I say it). 
  3. People like me who play games on Facebook will probably send you game requests. I have a ton on my page everyday, but for those games I don't play, it's really easy to hide or block that particular game. Don't complain about people sending you game requests. Just block the app and move on. 
  4. Use the option to put different people in different groups and take the time to share your pictures and statuses with only the appropriate groups. You may not want to share your weekend party pics with your boss, so take advantage of the features available to you. Don't make an ass out of yourself unnecessarily. If you have to think about whether or not you should be posting it online for others to see, you may not want to post it at all. 
  5. Stop complaining about the changes the site is making. Adapt, grow, learn. It won't kill you, I promise. More times than not, the changes are for the better. Some people are so resistant to change that they FREAK OUT when the slightest thing changes. Routine makes for a dull brain. Learn the new way and eventually you will see that it's better. Don't be so stubborn. Expand your brain a little. 
  6. Remember, it's everyone's own personal account. They can post what they want, but it's your decision to react to it or not to. When in doubt, don't react. 
I think social media is great. It is a great way for people to keep in touch, and a great way for businesses to get their name out there. You may choose to leave social media for a while, but in truth, I think it's the user who's going to miss out. Life on the internets will go on without you, but you risk missing out on a lot by deleting your account because you got butthurt over what some idiot said online. It's not going anywhere, and it's only going to evolve over time. Get on board and enjoy the ride, just learn how to use it for your individual benefit, and we'll all get along just fine. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How to Not Suck at Dating (Like Me)

Here's my awesome Dating 101 advice that I gave to a friend of mine today.

Warning: I suck at relationships and dating. I can lecture about them (as per below) all day long but basically, the following is how to do things exactly the opposite of the disaster of a dating life I created for myself in past years. ENJOY!

1. You h
ave to know what you want in life. If you don't know what you want, you cannot expect another person to fill in that blank for you.

2. Be happy with yourself. Another person cannot make you happy with yourself if you are not confident in who you are and what you have to offer. Don't let another person define who you are, and don't let anyone else tell you that what you have to offer someone isn't good enough. You are who you are, and you're worthy of someone's love just as you are. You should never have to change who you are in order to try to make someone else love you. There are plenty of people in the world who will love you just as you are. Don't put up with someone who treats you as anything but fantastic.

3. Don't compromise what you want in another person, but also don't be so narrow minded that you eliminate half of the dating pool based on stupid standards like hair-length, eye color, weight, etc. There's a reason they tell you not to judge a book by it's cover and physical appearance will change over time. Look within where the real beauty of a person lies. That's what's going to shine through and last long after the looks fade.

4. Take careful risks. Instead of keeping the brick wall around your heart, tear that down and put up a chain-link fence. That way, it is still somewhat guarded and secure, but people can still see inside to the real you and get to know you. If they don't like what they see, they won't climb the fence, and you're still safe. But, if they DO climb the fence, you know it's not based on what they think is on the other side instead of what's really there. They've seen it, they know what they're getting into, and they are choosing to come into your life for the real you. Sometimes, you may even be brave enough to open the gate for a select few.

5. Don't settle for the first thing that comes along, unless of course the first thing that comes along is absolutely everything you've ever wanted and more, FOR REAL, and not just what you THINK you want. Date lots of people and see what's out there. You don't know what you've been missing while you've been off the market. I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised. Not everyone you date is going to be right for you, and don't try to make them fit if they don't.

6. HAVE FUN. Don't be nervous on dates, there's nothing about you to be ashamed about. Get out there, BE YOU, and screw 'em if they don't like you, as if that's ever going to happen. Even if you don't find "the one" on these dates, I bet you'll hear interesting stories, laugh a lot, eat good food, drink a few drinks, and have an overall good time. Who knows, you may even find someone to love, or even another friend or two along the way. That's what life is about. It's not meant to be isolated and kept locked away within you. Life is what happens to you while you're living it. It's meant to be shared. Share it.

It's not as hard as it sounds, and the only person who can let something become "too complicated" or too hard, is you.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

My Fetus In Fetu is Coming Out

So Mr. Fancy Pants Cancer Doctor says he thinks it's just a lipoma but it needs to come out. Therefor, I'm having surgery next week to take it out. I'm kind of pissed because I'll be knocked out and won't get to see it. I'm sick like that, but hey, whatever. At least it will be out of me and my temptation to gouge it out myself will be gone.

In other news, I'm moving next week, the day after my surgery, into a really cute house. It's going to be so much nicer for me and my kids. It's on a cul-de-sac so hopefully I can let my kids play outside without fear of them getting shanked or being sold cocaine. My neighbors now suck and I can't wait to get away from them. 8 days. I gotta get my ass in gear packing the rest of the house.

I just finished my last final for the semester last night, and because of that, I will be reading a book I actually want to read instead of my school books. I've decided on Fifty Shades of Grey just to see what all the fuss is about. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

My Little Friend

For about the past year, I've had a strange, small lump in the inside of my right elbow. I kind of just thought it was a little cyst or a big pimple, but then it started to grow. Not crazy like I now look like I have a child growing out of my arm, but enough to where it started to bother me and interfere with the function of my right arm a little. I went to three different doctors and no one knew what it was. Finally, an orthopedist sent me for an MRI and guess what? Still no answers. Why, after the hundreds of dollars that I've spent on doctor's appointments, don't these assholes just cut it out? Like seriously. Today I have an appointment to see an ONCOLOGIST. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. A CANCER doctor. WTF. If it's nothing to worry about then why are they sending me to the cancer center at the good hospital 30 miles away instead of just slicing me open and sending it off to a lap. Stupid, if you ask me. And now I have to go for a "consultation" today, which basically means I'm going to spend another stupid co-pay for the doctor to tell me not to worry and that he doesn't know what it is, but he's going to figure it out. MMM HMM. SURE! Heard this one before. I swear, the first scalpel I come across, I'm gonna cut this bad boy out myself. Enough shenannigans and milking my insurance company and my savings account. Take the stupid thing OUT. I bet the removal would be YouTube worthy. If you are weak of stomach, please do not go on YouTube and watch videos of  sebaceous cysts. If you are a popper like me, it's like the most awesome thing ever that you want to look away from but can't. Anyhoo, I'm tired of this little bugger in my arm and I want it gone. I'm going to tell Mr. Fancy Pants Cancer Doctor that if he doesn't take it out, I'm going to take it out myself and see what he says. Ha! Stay tuned, folks. Shit just got real.