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Posts Tagged ‘iatrogenic illness’

It would be difficult to describe how busy and stressful the last year of our lives have been in a blog post short enough people would read. So, briefly, a recap would look like this:

  • Continued healing and nurturing from my iatrogenic illness
  • House hunting and purchase of the West Virginia home
  • Moved 1/2 our belongings to WV in December
  • Oversaw renovation of that home from Maryland
  • Renovated Maryland house A LOT
  • Tossed, donated and packed up 20 years of belongings
  • Found an apartment and moved oldest son
  • Listed and sold family home in 5 days
  • UN-BE-LIEVABLE stress from buyers and settlement company
  • More of that last bullet point, grrrrrr
  • Moved rest of belongings and me to WV
  • Doran returned to live with son and work for another month

Part of my mantra after dealing with my debilitating illness during 2013-14 was to appreciate everything and enjoy the journey.  For the most part that has been true, but the last few months, I will admit, were hard to enjoy.  The stress was beyond my coping ability and my compromised central nervous system just said ‘no more.’  By the time I pulled away from our Maryland home, following Doran in the rental car, I felt little.  I certainly felt no joy.  Perhaps that would be normal for anyone, but I was disappointed that the most important lesson of health – to be IN the now, had failed me.

I was also melancholy. Because of buyer demand, we settled earlier than we wanted to which meant driving separately so that Doran could return because retirement date did not align with house selling date.  And by this time games were being played on the real estate end, and the process was not going well.  Rather than he and I driving off into the sunset together free of that home and life, each of us was alone and had concerns about how the house sale would pan out.   I was decidedly un-Christian in my thoughts about real estate, buyers, and even the house made me angry.

And then a funny thing happened on the way to my new life…..God sat next to me on that drive which I thought I was making alone.  He filled my head with decades worth of memories of a van packed with kids and dog and cargo as we headed together to vacation in Canaan Valley.  I smiled and remembered.  And with each mile away from the Maryland location where I felt so much trauma over all I endured when sick…..all the loss I felt from that community….the life which truly ended when I had to hibernate with the brain/cns injury….I felt peace.  twitter

The expression ‘I felt 10 pounds lighter’ was true for me.  I found my smile as I climbed the mountain.  And, God, who we know has a sense of humor, sent me a verbal gift to go with that sense of peace I discovered in the car.  As I made my way up our dirt and gravel road away from civilization the GPS simply said: You have arrived.

Indeed.  I have.

 

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I have realized over the last few weeks as I experience more good moments, hours and days, that I think my benzo journey is finally over.  Those are scary words to say because we learn on this road that Satan is listening so he can jump on your moments of joy.  But, I am willing to take that risk in order to step out on faith and say that my health is better now.  I am grateful for my family who never wavered in their support, my new friends who partnered with me to get through this awful iatrogenic illness and my old friends who stuck around to see me re-emerge from hell.  God has been good throughout.  blog

So why the title for this post?  Limbo seems like a bad place, especially if you have a background in Catholicism.  But I’m using it as Webster defines: an intermediate or transitional place or state.  After 2 years of living a mostly housebound, isolated period of illness, life can’t revert back to pre-Ativan Sue.  I’m not that person, and the world is different now.  A friend gave a great analogy – returning home after 4 years of college left her feeling like an outsider among lifelong friends.  I’m having that same feeling, except my 2 years away weren’t filled with college adventures and fun memories. 

My husband is eligible to retire in January, and our youngest graduates college in 2017.  We had planned to stick around until his graduation and then relocate to West Virginia.  One lesson we learned from this illness is that life is short and tomorrow is not promised.  We have changed plans and this time next year should be moving into our new home.  My job is to ready our house of 20 years for sale.  I’m going through every closet and room, donating and tossing.  The upside is I see my accomplishments and feel pride that I am able to do this after such a period of inactivity.  It feels great to contribute in a meaningful way to our family again.  The downside?  A lot of tears as I revisit the past.  Every piece of artwork, old photo, notes of encouragement has me emotional.  Improvements to the house are meant for resale, decisions are based on recouping money spent and life still feels tentative.  We begin house hunting in the Fall and I am champing at the bit to begin my next phase.

But, if you have to live in limbo, put on the song and dance your way through it.  Time passes either way, enjoy it while you can.

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I can vividly recall being excited by certain landmark birthdays.  Turning 13 and becoming an official teenager.  The Sweet 16 of blissful youth.  18 and believing that to be the sign of adulthood.  And, of course, 21 because legal drinking and partying at that age seemed like a sweet deal.

After those numbers, though, what woman looks forward to any increase in age?  I was always happy to attend the birthday lunches, buy gifts, celebrate for my friends, but I hated the same being done for me.  There were even birthdays where I insisted that I didn’t want friends to sing Happy Birthday.  So they hummed it.  Which is even longer and more painful than just singing the stupid song.

And then I got sick.  Starting in January 2013 my world changed.  I basically slept, suffered, hid and hurt my entire 48th year of life.  Only about 6 months into being 49 did I start to feel big improvements in my brain and central nervous system and know that I would heal and get my life back.    bday

Today I turn CELEBRATE my 50th birthday.  I rejoice and embrace the fact that I am alive.  Life is better than I deserve.  I’m almost completely healed and I have this sense of awe about how little it takes to be content.  My husband and I have several times wondered if given the chance to turn back the clock, would we rewrite history and delete the part of our lives which involved 2 years of recovering from damage caused by a prescription drug.  Would we avoid all that pain and suffering but also lose all the blessings which came from the experience?  As hard as it is to imagine, we wouldn’t alter our past.

No, this is not the life I envisioned.  I never imagined the level of physical and emotional trauma I endured.  I both needed and hated the isolation as every day brought new suffering.  When my youngest went to college the plan was I would return to work and be the scholarship fund.  Those plans disappeared thanks to Ativan and big pharma.  But on the flip side, I also never understand how strong I could be, and how I could learn to love myself.  I witnessed a husband more amazing than imaginable as he partnered with me.  My boys show compassion bigger than their maturity level should allow as they support a sick mom.  Blessings are everywhere if you stop and look at the world around you.

So…my birthday wish for each of you is to encourage you to find joy where you are in your life right now.  None of us gets the fairy tale we dreamed of as teenagers.  That’s just not reality.  There are disappointments, loss, financial challenges, illness….many things which make fairy tale existence impossible.

But this is our one life.  Embrace what you have, make the most of the gift of time and let your friends sing Happy Birthday as loudly and badly as they can.

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