But that nurse with insight…

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They had the helicopter ready and they were preparing our newborn for an emergency flight to Houston for open-heart surgery.

The nurse was with me wrapping up paperwork for the process.

Our baby was hooked up to all sorts of wires and blinking lights. They wouldn’t let me hold him.

I’m not sure how it happened, but that nurse caught insight and not a moment too late.

When women become pregnant they run a whole series of tests and blood-work around 20 weeks.

One of the things they check for is Group B strep.

Group B strep in newborns can cause serious complications, including death.

At 20 weeks I tested negative.

They never rechecked this and assumed it was his heart. His blood oxygen level kept dropping and he was getting sicker by the hour.

As the nurse was asking me questions, she jumped up and said she would be right back.

I’m not sure if she saved his life, but she definitely prevented an unnecessary open-heart surgery from occurring on a newborn.

They tested him for Group B Strep.

It was positive.

They called Houston. They cancelled the flight. They started antibiotics.

He had to stay about a week longer in the hospital. They allowed me to stay with him because we lived so far away.

I admit I wasn’t fond of the nurse that I had during my labor and delivery. And I admit, I was probably one of the worst first-time-labor & delivery-patients, but that nurse with insight… I will be eternally grateful to her. She did good.

 

© LifeasChristine, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

“You said I wasn’t going to feel it!!!!”

She drove like a bat out of hell.

It was the first time I had ever heard her swear.

Picture this petite lady, very put-together, full of class, suddenly taken over with road rage.

It was actually kind of funny.

I’m not sure, but I’d guess we arrived in record time.

They told me it was false labor, but because we lived so far away and my due date being so close they wanted to keep me.

They induced.

I was not exactly a ‘good’ patient.

I got into an argument with a male nurse.

“I really need to poop!”

“No, you don’t. That’s just the baby bearing down making you feel like you do. Sorry, you cannot get out of bed.”

“Oh really? How many babies have you had? Listen buddy, if you don’t let me get out of this bed and go to the bathroom, I’m going to poop right here on the bed.”

He brought me a bed pan.

At one point I got so fed up with my male nurse that I got out of bed and grabbed my suitcase. I told Eric I was leaving.

He told me I being irrational.

“You can’t just leave the hospital! You are in labor!!”

I was so frustrated and scared. I threw the suitcase down and started crying.

Around the time they moved me into this big operating room, cold and sterile, the new doctor with bedside manner of a porcupine informed me that he was going to give me an episiotomy.

I yelled, “Wait! What is that?”

“I’m going to make an incision.”

“What? An incision? Where?”

“I promise you won’t even feel it. I’ll give you a few locals first.”

People shouldn’t make promises they can’t keep.

I screamed so loud that a nurse came and shut all the doors because they heard my screams from down the hall.

You know what I screamed?

“You said I wasn’t going to feel it!!!!”

He lied.

He threatened me that he was going to stick some gigantic salad looking tongs inside of me if I didn’t push harder.

The baby’s head had crowned and I could not get that damn head out.

“You are NOT sticking those things in me! Can’t you see there is no room for those?”

“Well, you’ve got 5 minutes and if you don’t push that baby out, I’m using them”

21 hours it took from start to finish.

The minute he came out, they started working on him.

It was a commotion and none of it made sense to me.

They wheeled me back to a room while they tried to figure it out.

A short time later, a doctor came in.

“We are flying your baby to Houston.”

“WHAT? WHY?”

He talked forever and it was all blurry. All I remember is the statement, “Open-heart surgery”

To be continued…

© LifeasChristine, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

“It was the mayonnaise!!”…

I went to sick call that day. Sick call is what the military refers to as going to the doctors because you find yourself sick and can’t go to work.

I thought I had food poisoning.

I felt horrible and nausea as hell.

The smell of bacon made me want to throw up.

Something was definitely wrong.

I went into the office and the young woman asked me the date of my last period – standard procedure.

I gave my standard answer, “Last month. I don’t know the date because I don’t keep track”.

They gave me a urine sample – again, standard procedure.

I told her that was senseless. I explained I had it figured out.

“It was the mayonnaise!!”

I left the mayonnaise out all night and used it the next day.

I had food poisoning!

I was sure of it.

“Actually Airman, you don’t have food poisoning, you’re pregnant…”

“Uh no I’m not. That’s impossible.”

“Do you want to see the stick?”

Eric immediately started crying as I said, “There’s no way. They told me I couldn’t have kids”.

“I don’t know who they are, but they were wrong”.

“I’ll be damned! Are you sure??”

She was right after all.

Back then the military had an opt-out option for women if they found themselves pregnant… you know… a fork in the road – a change to your life’s plans.

I had had it up to my eyeballs with the military.

They lost my paperwork about six times up in Arlington after I had gotten hit by a drunk army MP. They lost track of me. They lost track of Eric. They didn’t want me when I was a medical burden, but when I healed, they suddenly found use for me again.

I chose to opt out.

I do not regret this choice.

There was a rule that if you got pregnant while in the service, you could have the baby at a military hospital.

The closest naval hospital was located in New Orleans and they did not have a maternity ward. My only other option was Ft. Polk Army hospital located roughly two and half hours away.

To be continued…

© LifeasChristine, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Knowing our regrets is not to imprison us, but to free us…

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“Live life with no regrets”

That asinine quote has taken over the internet. There are articles upon articles instructing one how to live a life with no regrets, how to die without regret.

Scary.

You know who lives life without regrets?

Narcissists and sociopaths.

There is a big difference between wallowing in regret, understanding one’s regrets, and having no regrets.

In order to regret anything, one must reflect to some extent.

And I get it, not everyone reflects. Not everyone can look in the mirror.

To take a good, long, hard look at one’s life and truly acknowledge regrets requires honesty with oneself.

If one cannot be honest with oneself, how then, can they be honest with others?

Mull that over for a while.

Our regrets are very personal to each of us. They tell a story, there is often a lesson, and there is often change involved – not always, but often.

There is a reason for regret, yet too few understand this.

One of the questions I often ask people, when I’ve passed the pleasantries stage, is if they ever regretted anything. I don’t expect details or stories. Though stories should be shared, because it’s how we learn from each other, but I get it, some are not sharers.

You know those people that say, “Nope, no regrets here. I live life with no regrets.”

It is almost immediate… I close up shop. I don’t trust those with no regrets.

Do you know why?

Because there is no human that has ever lived a perfect life. There is no one that ever made every right choice or did not hurt another human being.

Regrets require a process in order to have any ‘learning’ come from it.
We have to be able, in the quiet corners of our self, know our regrets.

Growing as a person comes when we understand what they are and why.

Growth leads to change.

Knowing our regrets is not to imprison us, but to free us.

© LifeasChristine, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I pray for weird things maybe…

Four times in the last few years I have heard the words, “You saved my life”.

Those four words brought a mix of emotions.

For the longest time I believed I wasn’t enough to save a life.

I tried once.

I failed.

At least that’s how I viewed it for a long time – as a failure on my end.

I’ve done a lot of reflection and soul searching on that experience.

Can we save people?

I’m not sure it’s black and white, but what it is… is a heavy topic and a loaded question.

I am able to look back on my life and know exactly which individuals threw me a flotation device when I needed one. Does that mean they saved my life or were they merely in the right time, at the right place, with the right words?

Were they a vessel?

I wonder if I could tell them that I wasn’t trying to save their lives. I didn’t know their lives needed saving. And honestly I don’t know how to save a life. I’m good, but I’m not that good. I learned this a long time ago, but that is a story for another day.

I do know that I met them where they were – even in the darkest of places.

I sat with them as long as they needed.

I wonder if they would be surprised to learn that hearing those words brought me humbly to my knees.

For a very long time, I have prayed.

I pray for weird things maybe.

I pray that I am always in the right place, at the right time, with the right words.

The ‘right place’, ‘right time’, and ‘right words’ are without a doubt questionable and can be debated from a million different perspectives. And yet, it is neither here nor there, because in the end, if a life was saved – a life was saved – period.

Most of these conversations took place over the telephone.

If you ever read the day I got the call, you may find irony in the telephone life-saving-scenario.

I was at a loss at a very challenging moment in my life. I had no idea what to do. I was on auto-pilot big time.  A miracle occurred at the precise moment when I felt like I was drowning. I received a phone call. She didn’t take me out of the water, but she threw me a flotation device.

I will never be a savior, but I hope that I will always be in the right place, at the right time, with the right words. I hope that I am given the opportunity to throw a flotation device. And if given that opportunity, I will throw with all the strength that flows within me.

 

© LifeasChristine, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

He went after the silent protector…

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“I never told you this before…” was how he began.

We were sitting out on the second story outdoor balcony of a vacation home in the Outer Banks, North Carolina.

It was a beautiful warm summer night and the stars were shining.

“Do you know why I got sick?”

It was a raw topic. We hadn’t spoken of it in years. Many bad memories that broke both our hearts.

“We were so young, I thought it was because you fell down the stairs.”

“No. He punched me every day, as hard as he could in the stomach.”

I instantly choked up and found myself angry at him.

“Why didn’t you tell me then? I would’ve protected you!”

“But Christine, I was trying to protect you. I was trying to protect everyone. He told me he would kill if I ever told.”

A few seconds later, our mother appeared. It was bad timing.

I was angry all over again for her choices. I was angry at her for not protecting us which lead to us trying to protect each other. But deep down, it wasn’t anger… it was hurt.

When we were very young, I used my voice when he couldn’t find his.

When Satan arrived (husband #2), my voice was all I had. At 5 years old, I told him I hated him. I didn’t understand a lot at 5, but I knew what hate looked like.

I imagined how it could have been different had he told me back then. Husband #2 never cared for me because I challenged him. I was not afraid of using my voice. I was the only kid in that house that didn’t keep my mouth shut. He hated that about me. Maybe I scared him.

He threatened my brother if he ever told anyone about the abuse. He threatened he would kill our mother. He threatened he would kill me.

I went back to that world in my head. I wondered what I would’ve done. Picture a little girl climbing on the roof and yelling for help. I would have kept yelling until someone came, until someone noticed. I would’ve tried to protect him or yelled until someone else came to do so.

Husband #2 never put his hands on me until he tried to strangle me at 15. Throughout the years up until that point, he only used words on me – the worst words imaginable. When he finally did put his hands on me, I fought back with everything I had in me. I fought, but I fled too. I ran the hardest on that night.

I think husband #2 knew this about me and it was another factor that he hated about me. He chose another route. He went after the silent protector.

It became too much for him, the pain. The emotional silence, the physical pain, the threats, the hurricane – all of it.

It happened like a whirlwind. He was gone one day and for many more after that. He took up residence at a hospital in the city. They ran a plethora of tests on him, CT scans, MRI’s, spinal taps, bloodwork…

All I knew is that my world stopped when he left. I didn’t understand what was happening. I hated seeing him in that hospital. I hated seeing him in that wheelchair. I hated not understanding what was happening.

He was paralyzed from the waist down.

I remember vividly a memory. Our dad trying to make him walk. I stood at the bottom of the stairs, watching. Within minutes, it was too much for him. It was too much for me. I cried and yelled at him to stop.

I wish that I could’ve prevented all that occurred. I wish that I had known way back then. I would’ve taken those secrets and screamed them for the world to know. I wondered how often those secrets slowly kill those that try to keep them.

I would’ve hugged him and banded with him. I would have taken the brunt and the blows. I would have screamed from the rooftop. I would’ve tried to protect him.

He told me later that part of him always felt weak for not standing up, for not fighting back, for not telling anyone. He was a lot of things, but weak was never one of them. He is so much stronger than he knew.

“Why didn’t you tell me then? I would’ve protected you!”

“But Christine, I was trying to protect you…”

© LifeasChristine, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had childhood magic to find…

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He was in a wheelchair explaining to me why we couldn’t spend the night in the gazebo.

“Your legs don’t work, but you’re not dead!”

I threw our sleeping bags on his lap and wheeled him out there.

The gazebo was a magical place where all the world was right.

We played and camped out in that gazebo for a few summers– wheelchair and all.

When my brother got sick my world stopped. He was my one constant in a sea of crazy.  When he came home from the hospital after a lengthy stay, I would be damned if that wheelchair was going to stop us.

We had childhood magic to find. In a land of chaos, I think this brought us both balance.

We found the magic of childhood, despite the presence of hurricanes.

There were late night Star Wars battle ships with beeping sirens and glowing lights that we passed between our rooms in the hallway.

There were camp-outs in the dining room with the table pushed to the side and a tent smack dab in the middle of the room. There were camp-outs in the gazebo. There were camp-outs in back yards. I think we both found peace with the simpleness of stars.

Chairs became banks, turned backwards of course.

We played the first official video game – a blip on the television screen that bounced from side to side.

We went sailing down hills in winters on an old toboggan found at our grandmother’s house.

We drove snowmobiles once. He even let me drive…until I landed us into the pricker bushes.

We played games for hours upon hours, though I admit I was a sore loser.

There was a tanning contest one summer – who could get the darkest.

He is one of the most resilient people I have ever known personally.

Recently we had a conversation about life. I told him I was proud of him. You know why?

He never let hate win. He took so much on his on shoulders. He has been pounded by life and he never turned to mush – his character is built from what he has endured and what he learned. He is the definition of a ‘Good Man’.

No, he’s not perfect, but come what may, he never gives up.

That doesn’t mean he is a cold soldier marching on. He has felt the short-end of the stick many times in life. He has gotten down and he has cried. He has some really bad days and found himself wondering what to do and had to figure things out. That’s some of what I admire about him.

He has seen the face of death comparable with that of a combat soldier and it has not hardened his heart, but freed him in many ways.

He doesn’t just survive, he thrives.

He is my brother.

© LifeasChristine, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.