The Waiting Place.

“Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come,

or a plane to go or the mail to come,

or the rain to go or the phone to ring,

or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No

or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.”

Dr. Seuss had it right. In his book, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” he harnesses many of the truths about our ordinary lives, one of them being the waiting. 

For a year and a half, I have been waiting for my health to return to “normal.” I’m  not sure normal exists anymore, at least not in the same way that it did before. Since having viral meningitis, I have to do daily things just to manage the symptoms and lingering problems that come with it. Stretching, slowing myself down, taking time to check my spelling which I never used to have to do, entering in every little detail into my calendar just in case my brain forgets, forgiving myself for forgetting things, which Will happen, the list goes on and on. 

 But these all seem like small tasks when it comes to the bigger issue at hand. I’ve been waiting for my body to return to normal not just so I can feel better, but so I can finally get pregnant.

This year I turn 30. It’s a landmark birthday for me and one that I’m very happy. Since my car accident, I’ve been celebrating Each birthday as a little victory. It’s amazing to be able to look back and say, “wow! I am still here and got to live another year on this beautiful planet!” But, since as long as I can remember, I always imagined that I would have a child by the time I was 30 years old. It didn’t seem unattainable when I was younger. I met the love of my life at 18, we got engaged when I was 23, married at 24, I got a job when I was young and have built a career. Last year, we spent our first year in our new home.  It seemed like we had everything lined up and ready to go. But, my health stopped everything. 

For my 30th birthday party, my husband went through some of my old childhood things for a game he made.He found a lot of diaries and journals and told me afterwards that he felt like he got to know me even better than he already did. The one thing that surprised him the most was how often I wrote about having kids and how often I mentioned that I wanted them when I was still young. I guess you could say 30 is still young, but I feel like an old soul trapped in a body that doesn’t always work and it’s heartbreaking.

My friends, my colleagues, the people I see every day share with me their joy of having a child, of being pregnant, of moving onto the next step. I am elated for them and overjoyed when they share their news, yet there still part of me that feels utterly destroyed at my inability to do the same. It has nothing to do with their joy, it has everything to do with my own failings. I hide it well. I still go to the baby showers, I still stay in touch and ask how they’re doing, I asked them how they’re feeling. It’s the right thing to do. I know that from my car accident. But sometimes I wish they could understand without feeling guilty what it’s like to sit here waiting to hear the cry of a baby and yearning to fill a bedroom with furniture, little clothes, and a rocking chair.

I’m waiting. Still waiting. Someday I won’t be, I pray. I’ve gotten good test results this week. It’s starting to look more promising. And I can only hope that Dr. Seuss got it right again when he ends that page… 
“NO that’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape 

all that waiting and staying. 

You’ll find the bright places 

Where boom bands are playing!” 

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Porch Sitting.

It was on this porch just a year ago that I sat staring at the lawn and birds with unfocused vision and thoughts. I could barely think, but I knew in my heart that this was a place of rest. Sitting on a bench, looking out at the birds and flowers, listening to the wind chimes, and spotting a hummingbird on the feeder above my head every so often. This was a place of rest, peace, and hope. Despite my inability to communicate with the world around me and despite my inability to comprehend what was happening each day, I knew I could stay here. I truly believe that peace and tranquility helped heal my brain. 

It was so comforting to not have to interact and be fearful of making a mistake with words, names, or sentence structure. It was so comforting to be at rest knowing my mind didn’t have to work to remember things, my lips didn’t have to form words. 

My viral meningitis so often made me feel as though I was a prisoner inside of my own mind. Yet, in this beauty, I could look out through the bars and enjoy the scene around me. I was trapped inside and yet I could feel as though the world around me was trying to cheer me up. 

Most of my friends and family didn’t know how sick I was. Viral meningitis is funny like that. You can’t see the brain damage it has done. You can’t imagine how much it has taken from the person. The medicine didn’t help either. It took away the pain, yes, but, it also took away my emotions and my ability to process them. The illness took memories that I’ll never get back, it took my ability to do math quickly in my head, it took spelling, vocabulary, processing, word pronunciation, and most of all…

It took time. Time away from being me. Time away from fulfilling goals and dreams for the last year. Time away from being with friends and family. 

I’m still not quite sure they really understand how sick I was and how much it still impacts me. If you want to know what it is like, you really have to take the time to ask and understand. That’s difficult for us as humans. It’s much harder to listen to someone struggle to come up with the right words to explain how much pain they are in and how badly they feel than to just say, “hope your day is going well!” It’s much harder to drive to visit and sit on a porch with someone while they sit and stare at nothing and come up with things to say. Humans struggle with that. 

It just reminds me. When someone is sick, do something. When they are ill, be with them and make yourself uncomfortable even just for a little while so they can feel your presence and know that you have their back. 

I know many people felt like they did enough when I was sick. I never felt that way. I always wanted them to come over and sit with me on the porch. I  always wanted them to send a card or text or call. Something to check in with me. 

I only advocate that you consider Doing the same for your friends and family so in their times of need, they will be comforted by both nature and you. 

Someday.

Someday I’ll be a mom, but not today.

Someday, I’ll be rid of my major health concerns and issues. not today.

Today, I am a 29 year-old on her way to being 30 with no chance of having a baby before then.

Some women face fertility issues, my heat breaks for them. Some women have complications during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. I cannot imagine how they must feel.

I am at a different stop. I am playing the waitings game. I’m sure others have been here before. I’m sure others are here now, but I just don’t know it. Maybe it’s due to a medical issue, a lack of partner, a lack of financial stability. There must be others like me.

And while I am finally opening up to family members after suffering for almost a year with this heavy heart, I know that my situation is not as dismal as many other women.

Still, my heart aches. My soul wonders. Will I ever be a mom?

A voice answers. Yes, give it time.

Trust me.

Fear of the Unknown.

Today was supposed to be amazing. I can’t deny that it started off that way. I woke up to the birds singing for the first time and the flowers finally opened in my garden.

I drove to work and things were stressful, but still manageable until the end of the day, but even that seems small now.

My doctor’s appointment today was going to give me hope, more goals, positive reinforcement, and mark my acheievement in this battle against meningitis, thyroid issues, iron levels, and the malaise that comes with all of that.

Instead, my doctor informed me that there may be even more going on here. I have to go and get checked by another specialist.

Immediately, I felt that wave come over me. The one I knew so well this summer and its name is Fear.

It’s not that I am not used to this shit by now, it’s that I am just as terrified about having a tumor/cancer/life changing diagnosis as I was before.

I just want to get on with my life and instead I am sitting here facing the fear of the unknown … yet again.

If you are feeling the same way, know that I am here for you and I can relate. I may not completely understand your situation, but I can at least offer my empathy and acknowledge your own fears.

Those feelings you have are valid. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You’ll get through it and you can still be optomistic while also being scared/terrified/overwhelmed.

That’s the amazing thing about being human.

We have the capacity to feel more than one feeling at a time and as uncomfortable as that can be. It’s all there and it shows us how alive we really are.

That Accident…

Well, today is the day! Two years ago I survived my car crash with a semi. I should have died that night. I thought I was going to die and then, didn’t.

I knew today would be filled with recovery, anxiety, and a little bit of pain. What I didn’t expect was the anger and resentment.

Someone that I care about a lot referred to my crash as “That accident years ago…”

Years ago?

It has only been two. This phrase makes it seem like it’s a story in a book, sitting on a shelf collecting dust.  This year is the first time I can even say years as a plural word.

I instantly felt a pang of anger and also realized how little this person understood what life has been like since then.

Every month, I think of the day when it is the 25th. Every week, I think of it when it is Wednesday.  Every time there’s a movie or show with a car crash, I re-live it. Every car ride, I grip the wheel and pray it doesn’t happen again. Every time I hear glass break, or a bag of chips crunch, I am there: sitting in the car, swerving all over, and screaming.

This may may have been two years ago, but sometimes in my mind it was last month, last week, yesterday!

I guess this is just a reminder that there really are a lot of people that just don’t get it.

People with PTSD relive their pain and horror over and over again. They don’t always feel like it was that long ago. They may still live it every day.

So, if you know someone who has it, be patient with us, be forgiving, mark down the Anniversary on your calendar and don’t take it lightly. For some of us, today just marks another day that we survived.

 

Afraid.

Tomorrow I drive by the accident site. Just like I do every Wednesday. This time, though, it will be different. This time, it will be a Wednesday, just like the Wednesday 2 years ago when I was hit by that semi.

It’s funny how I don’t really think about the driver that much, but in a night like tonight where I am filled with anxiety about the next day I wonder: Do they know I am alive? Do they ever think about that night? Do they ever feel guilty or worried because of what happened? I guess I’ll never know.

I am afraid…

of driving tomorrow

of getting sick again

of wrecking my car and not being alive to tell the story

if having it all happen again

of being alone

of dying

how can I not be? That nice almost killed me but instead it changed my life forever.

Please Se take this fear away. It feels like a rock in my stomach. Take it away. Let me live without the weight of fear looming around.

Two Years.

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Next Saturday marks two years since I survived my car accident. As I have recovered from the crash, I’ve realized the process of getting back to or finding a new normal is a gradual one. Each day I feel a little bit better and while some days, I take five steps back, there are other days I can look back on now and remember springing ahead in my recovery.

One of those days was the one-year anniversary of the accident. March 25, 2016.

While I spent the day with family and tried my best to stay calm and away from cars, I also handed out little CARe packages. Each had a first aid kit, light, whistle, and ice pack to make any unexpected experience a little better.

This was no simple task as it was difficult for me to even walk down the shopping aisle of these items without my heart racing. Once I handed them off, however, I felt a great sense of relief. I was alive and had been for a whole year after that awful night.

This year, I am giving out another CARe package. A seatbelt cutter/glass hammer. I ordered so many of them, but wanted to be able to spread a bit more love this year.

I set them up in the dining room so I can look at them and get used to them over the next week before they are given away.

Here’s hoping again, March 25th, will be another day where I move away from the accident and walk closer to recovery.

Great Expectations.

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As kids,  we all get asked: What do you want to be when you grow up? High Schoolers are questioned: What are you doing after you graduate? And college students get cornered: What’s next for you?

As humans, we are always trying to find a way to connect and learn more about each other. We also like to plan for the next step ahead and we want others to do the same as if that step is just ahead of us waiting to be landed upon. Maybe all of this planning is because we know how short this life is or maybe we bring it up simply because we want to keep the conversation going. I don’t know. But, I find that along with these questions come a set of answers and sometimes those answers create expectations that can motivate us through the next hurdle while also crippling us when we don’t make it to the finish line as expected.

2005. I met my husband.

2011. We got married.

Everyone asked, when are you having kids?

I’m sure I am not the first to say that this is an intrusive and personal question that assumes way  too much about a couple including the couples intentions of having children and their ability to do so. However,  that is entirely another topic I will leave for another day.

Today, I want to focus on what that question did to me.

When I was asked multiple times by family and friends, I created a mental structure. I built a plan in my head for us. I felt that I had to come up with a verbal answer default and without thinking much of it, I said “3-5 years.”

Why did I say this?  I don’t know.

But in 3 seconds I gave an answer without much thought that internalized something I couldn’t erase.

Most likely, it was the easiest thing I could spit out before throwing back my last sip of wine and walking into the other room. I didn’t think people had a right to ask me so I wanted to give them something to shut them up. 3-5 seemed like a reasonable answer that would give them what they wanted while also making sure they didn’t pester me for the next couple years.

2012. I got shingles.

2015. I was in a severe car accident.

2016. I had the craziest ride of my life with viral meningitis.

Now I’m here. It’s 2017.

It’s been 6 years since we have been married and no baby. And when I say no baby, I mean that there’s no chance we will have one this year either. I will wait until my body is safe for a child and for me to go down that path.

I didn’t realize it when I answered that question back in 2010 and 2011…but I was setting myself up for a big fall.

I let those questions and more importantly my responses to them, define what my expectations were for having children. The worst part?

I didn’t even know it.

Not until I arrived here. In a place where I am reaching a new decade of my life. In a place where I have well surpassed that 5-year mark. In a place where 2 of my friends have babies less than a year old and 3 other friends are pregnant. In a place where 3 of my colleagues will be on maternity leave this year. In a place where I am inundated with baby product and pregnancy test advertisements. In a place where I have recovered from a serious and terrifying illness during which  I had to face the reality that  I may never be able to have children because I thought I would die or never recover.

It seems for me that having been through something like that just made me want to have children even more.

And though I am unaware as to whether or not I will have to face fertility issues like so many of my family members, I am sitting here moping around because I didn’t reach my mark.

It’s silly, really. How I can recover from a car accident and an illness like that and somehow still be disappointed. I don’t want to be ungrateful for the amazing life I have been gifted again and again.

Borrowed time is my mantra.

It is where I reside.

And I hope that I can continue to land in gratitude again and somehow erase this Great Expectation set long ago by a different woman who knew not what she would face.

I am holding on to hope and remembering as my sister said:

“Some dreams aren’t dead. They just need to be reimagined.”

Here’s hoping I can imagine, without a date in mind, having  a child someday whether biological or adopted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Act.

Every day, I wake up in pain. And every day I get up, and put on “The Act.”

It’s something that most don’t notice.

I smile. I laugh. I keep going.

I experience both joy and sorrow. I live each day with happiness AND anger.

I move throughout my work day without talking about how much it hurts to stand after sitting for 30 minutes.

I teach without telling my students that the reason I don’t use their names all of the time, is because I am afraid my brain won’t be able to remember.

I don’t complain to my colleagues when something happens at work and I have to completely tear down 45 chairs and music stands and then reset them just an hour later.

I sometimes pretend that everything is okay when a friend or family member calls because it is too hard to try to explain how awful things have been and, to be honest, I don’t know if telling them about it will make me feel better or just make me sulk.

 

 

All of that takes a toll, and I wind up coming home from work or hanging up the phone feeling deflated, exhausted, and drained.

It’s not that I am being fake. If someone asks, I will share with them.  And most of the time I am feeling both angry and happy, tired and excited, happy AND sad. I just try to focus on the positive while I am at work.  If I feel like I am going to burst, I talk to colleague. When my husband gets home or my mom calls, I tell that it’s been a rough day and I talk about it. I have a group of supportive friends and family, BUT I refuse to let the pain I feel, the frustration I am experiencing, and the sorrow in my heart ruin my chances of having a good day.

The tricky part with making that kind of choice is finding time to work through all of those feelings and not let them pile up. While I may have had a successful day of teaching, I may feel really depressed when I leave. And making room for my mind, heart, and soul to process  all of that is important, but also time consuming.

I am dedicated to taking time to deal with it, but I want to do it in my own time. So I put on a face and hit the ground running, until I am home and can curl up on the couch and allow the sadness to rear its ugly head.

I imagine many people feel like this, but it is so taboo that we all just continue our “act” one scene at a time. Each of us, behind our masks that we remove only behind closed doors.