Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Big Storm

So some of you may have heard that a big storm is heading up the east coast.  Schools are already cancelled for the next two days and the federal government is closed.  We're as prepared as we're going to be with some extra water in the garage and a few extra snacks.  Not sure what more we can do other than know where the flashlights are and try to keep everyone busy.

M is really scared of storms and tornadoes/high winds in particular.  I bought her some cosy Mickey Mouse pajama bottoms today and we decided that she can wear them as long as she wants to give her comfort.  Anything to keep her distracted.

I brought the big kids (E, M and A) to a local haunted trail last night (D said absolutely not and it's not appropriate for a five year old).  The weather was gorgeous and we all have an awesome time.  E was funny and relaxed.  M got super scared which made all of us laugh.  A loved the whole thing.  It was really nice to see the three of them together having a great time.

D has been our marathon man the past week with all three of his sports merging.  Basketball started, baseball ended and he had lots of soccer this week.  I'm proud of him for getting through it all with minimal whining and a good attitude.  He even struck out the best hitter in the league Wednesday night to end the game.  He was really stoked.

K's INR numbers are finally where they are supposed to be.  He's feeling pretty good, although I've noticed he's pretty wiped out at night.  He's not being the best patient and has forgotten a few times that he's not supposed to run or kick a ball.  In his defense, it's pretty hard to be an active person and then completely stop.  He woke up with a back ache this morning.  It put me in a bit of a panic that something more serious was going on.    He figures it was just bagging a few too many leaves yesterday.  I think it's going be awhile till I don't get anxious about anything out of the ordinary with him.

We've all been on a bit of an emotional hangover for the past few days.  Thursday and Friday I was really washed out.  I've been absent minded and not really on my "mommy game."  I'm trying to cut myself some slack and take one day at a time.  I'm not really "feeling" the medicine as profoundly.  I think this is normal and probably understandable given the extreme stress of the past few weeks.  I suppose I'll talk to my doctor about it.  I really don't like the idea of increasing my dosage.

We're hunkering down for what could be a big storm.  Hopefully there won't be too much damage and, God forbid, nobody will be hurt.  It will be nice, though, for a bit of a break when nobody has anywhere to go.  I'm thinking a bunch of board games, good books, some dance parties and a little storm wackiness.  I'm thinking of taking a good long nap tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Beautiful Family Morning

Today we continued the tradition of meeting for breakfast at a local park, playing and doing a balloon release.  It was a lovely morning.  The kids were wonderful in both their enthusiastic play and their innocent, loving remembrance of Jeanne and Mike.

A few pictures from the day.

M, E, C and CA were all smiles.
D coming down the slide.
L with his girl cousins (KT, MG and I).
 Me with nephew J.
M and A clowning around.
My Dad with baby H.
E with my Mom.
E writing a message to her parents on her balloon.

Sending our love to heaven.
K with M.
A crazy game of cousin tag!
My sweet boy D.
The three musketeers D, A and M.
MG and L.
M and H on the slide.
C with her son W.
Today our family was at our best on the day that was our worst.  We love each other so much and that isn't more purely reflected than in the love between the kids.  Yes, there were tears, as there should be.  We have a hole in our family that can never be filled.  We promised each other today that we'll always do this as a family.  I have no doubt that this promise will never be hard to keep.
I love you Jeanne and Mike.  I miss you everyday.

The sisters remembering together (S, C, CA and me).

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Tomorrow is the third anniversary of the accident.  Tomorrow I'll post pictures of our family celebrating Jeanne and Mike's lives.  Moving forward and remembering in a positive way.

Today, though, the day before it just hurts.  I feel awful and no amount of distraction eases the pain.

My body anticipates the horror of reliving October 24, 2009.  Three years later it is still unbelievable and physically makes me nauseous.


This past weekend the girls went to Indiana for their cousin's wedding.  As I explained earlier, the Indiana relatives did not roll out the red carpet for the girls.  M was a mess leaving.  Sobbing the night before that she didn't want to go and that she couldn't leave us.  E texted me non-stop from the moment I dropped them off at CA's before their flight complaining about how embarrassing and awful CA and KM were.  She has since claimed it was the worst weekend of her life, except for the 1.5 hours CA and KM weren't around.  M and the little girls seemed to have fun.

Having the girls gone was a mixed bag.  As a family, K and the boys and I fall back into our old rhythms very easily.  The guilt resulting from this feels awful.  I also worried about M and how she would deal with everything.  Combined with recent stress with K's health and the impending anniversary, I was an emotional mess.  I spent most of Saturday trying to find times to sleep.  Not because I was that tired, but for the escape.  Rather than relish in the moment and be with the boys, I gave in to the culminated stress.


E left me with a lovely parting gift before she left for Indiana.  Thursday at therapy she must have done an exercise in which she wrote her parents a letter.  The lettering was in different crayon colors.  She left it out in the open for all to see.  I at first thought was something that D had done given the colored lettering and the "Dear Mom and Dad" at the top.  I soon realized what it was and my eyes travelled to text towards the end.

"I miss your dinners Mom.  Aunt Peggy is a terrible cook.  She doesn't even make homemade cookies.  She always leaves the dinner table a mess."

Wow.  A punch in the stomach.  On so many levels I realize that she is just a hurting child and not to take it so personally.  It's not really the comments themselves, it's that she decided to lash out at me when I'm already so stressed about K.  She left it out for me to see.  It was simply mean.  On a humorous note, in the 17 years we have been married, I usually make dinner and K always cleans up.  Because of our schedule and his male priorities, sometimes the kitchen table doesn't get cleaned up right away, but eventually gets done.

I left it on her desk.  I fielded her texts all weekend and reassured her I'm still here.  I'm listening.  I'm not going anywhere.


As chief logistician around here I bear the weight of our family life and responsibilities on my shoulders.  School, sports, food, laundry, etc. fall squarely in my lane.  It dawned on me today, though, that it's not just this weight that has worn me down these past few years.

I absorb the stress and pain of everyone in the house.  The girls lash out and I absorb their blows and move on.  I worry about all the kids.  I want to rip the pain and anxiety from their bodies and cleave it to mine.  I'm an adult.  I can handle it.  In an irrational way, I feel totally responsible for their anxiety and fears caused by the accident.

My own grief stays buried beneath.  Sometimes I think it's easier to keep it right where it is with the excuse of needing to be strong for everyone else.  This does have physical repercussions.  Stomach and sleep issues.  My hives have come back the past few days.  I can't imagine how awful I'd feel if I wasn't taking any medication.

Three years later it still sucks.  The pain is still raw and fresh.  I miss my sister.  I feel lucky to have this space to express these feelings.  In real life, I'm just not ready to go there yet.

Monday, October 15, 2012

One Step at a Time

My therapist asked me this morning how I'm getting through the recent stress in our lives.

I looked her blankly and simply said, "I'm just putting one foot in front of the other and taking one step at a time."  I'm trying not to focus too much on what could have happened, nor am I looking too far ahead knowing that the next 10 days around here are going to be emotion laden with the girls going to Indiana and the anniversary approaching.

I especially lived in the present moment last night as I sang, danced and cheered at the Peter Gabriel concert with my little sisters.  I am a huge PG fan and S's husband was able to get us amazing seats about 20 feet from the stage.  It was amazing.  I completely lost myself in the moment and forget about all of the stress.  He actually played his So album in its entirety without interruption. I'm sporting my concert t-shirt today and just that physical reminder has eased the stress today.

K had another doctor's appointment today.  He's been having more discomfort in a different part of his ribs, but the doctor thinks it's just the effusion and not a new clot.  His lungs sound clear.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that his blood level (INR) is now too high and we're adjusting the medicine again.  The doctor reminded us again to be patient.  Again, one step at a time.

Beyond all of our nuclear family drama, K's godfather Jim also died last week.  He would have been 80 in December. A confirmed bachelor, he was a great godfather to K and has been a constant presence in my life since college.  He and my father-in-law had been friends for almost 60 years since their days at Cambridge. He died in his sleep and wasn't found for three days. So sad.  The funeral is on Friday and K is doing the second reading. We're doing all we can to support his parents, even if it's just listening.

The girls and I had a nice afternoon on Saturday afternoon shopping for a dress for M for the wedding.  It was the first time in days that she seemed like herself.  I tried not to over think it and just enjoyed the moment. It was a breath of fresh air.

People keep asking me how we are.  I answer on numb autopilot, "We're fine."  It's hard to admit how hard this past week has been.  It's easier to just smile and tell everyone that everything is okay.  Maybe if I say it enough, I'll start to believe it myself.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Normal Mommy

Yesterday afternoon we had K's next doctor's appointment to test his blood levels.  The office was busy and we waited 30 minutes till we went back.  The nurse for some reason had a hard time getting his blood (strange given all the blood thinners he's on) and brought in reinforcements after 3 sticks.  She thinks she just wasn't doing it hard enough.

His number was the same.  Still not in the therapeutic range.  Worrisome since it's on the low level and he still has the clot in his leg.  The shots continue till tomorrow morning and then he goes back in on Monday.  We changed his dosage of Coumadin.  I'm nervous because half of Saturday, Sunday and all of Monday he won't be on the shots which made us feel safe.

We both walked out of the office in a bit of a trance.  I felt like I wanted to throw up.  I intellectually realize that this is a long haul and it's only a minor setback.  We are still in such shock that this is all happening.

We drove separately to the appointment so he could go pick up D at practice while I went home to get dinner made.  I walked into the house and had to act like normal Mommy when all I wanted to do was go upstairs, climb under my covers and have a good, long cry.  But dinner needed to be made, L needed attention and A had tests for me to sign.  I had to pick M up early from school that afternoon because of her fake illness and now she was wandering around the kitchen mumbling.  E came downstairs demanding laundry and going on and on about the difficulty of being a junior in high school.

I wanted to scream.  I wanted to just be for a minute and get my emotional bearings. 

But I can't.  I have to be normal Mommy.  I have to make dinner, get the right sweatpants clean and nod my head in sympathy at E's latest diatribe against her pre-calc teacher.  I hugged M and encouraged her to talk above a whisper.  I listened to A talk about his latest skateboard plans.  I cleaned up dinner and got play dough out for L.  When D got home I got dinner out for him and cheered loudly with him when Werth hit a home run winning the games for the Nats (he and K got tickets for tonight...yay!).

Then I realized K hadn't take his dose of Coumadin and needed his shot.  Normal Mommy cut a pill in half to add to his new dosage and went upstairs to prepare the syringe.  My stomach was in knots as I got out the alcohol swabs.  I realized I hadn't really eaten dinner.

It's tough being mom on regular days.  It's really hard when you have to act normal when things going on in your life are certainly not.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


First an update.  K is feeling much better.  He can breathe without too much pain.  I've gotten much better at the injections.  He is still in a bit of denial, but we're just taking this one day at a time.  He went to the office yesterday for a few hours (with the doctor's permission), jumped over to the Nats game for a few innings (ugh!) and was home by 4.  I'm trying not to hover.  As long as he doesn't run, jump, or get too physical the doctor says he's fine to get back to some normal.  He's pretty sore at night still.  The doctor says that it will take weeks for the pain to go away.  His blood levels aren't in the therapeutic range yet, but are very close.  We go back this afternoon for another appointment and blood draw.  We're hoping that the injections can stop, although I'm a bit nervous about that since the doctor emphasized that they are what is keeping him safe right now.  Floating in the back of our minds is a worry about why this happened since he doesn't fit any of the typical profiles.  We talked cancer with the doctor.  He admitted that it's worrisome because K is a young, relatively healthy, fit man.

The reactions from the kids have been mixed.  E has been pretty dismissive and trying to act like nothing is going on.  She did help when asked over the weekend, but was certainly not pro-active about chipping in.  She didn't come to the hospital to visit him.  I had lots of "me, me, me" texts.  I'm trying not to over analyze her reaction. 

M is being really weird.  Since K got home, she's been complaining of phantom chest pains and producing a fake cough.  I talked to her therapist.  She too isn't quite sure what's going on, but did comment that she thought M looked under the weather.  I have become pretty good at reading M and figuring out whether her symptoms are actual or a manifestation of her anxiety--her body language, acting normal and laughing with the boys but changing when I walk in the room, the tone of her voice, the insistence that nothing is going to make her feel better despite me giving her options to relieve her symptoms.  I do think when she feels bad she really does, I just don’t think it’s an actual illness.  I told her this morning on the way to school that we were going to skip soccer practice today and just come home and rest.  If she continues to feel bad we’ll head to the doctor tomorrow.

The boys have had a tough time.  We tried to keep them busy all weekend as a distraction and, more importantly, allow me to be at the hospital with K.  D finally broke down on Tuesday night.  He had forgotten books for homework, admitted to doing poorly on a math test (not like him), messed up his science project, and did a bad job on a religion assignment.  This turned into sobbing and refusing to eat.  In between crying fits, the real reason came out.  "How long will you give Daddy shots?"  "Do they hurt?"  "Is he okay?"  Poor guy.  I eventually got him calmed down and he seemed better yesterday.

L has been talking a lot about death.  He's clinging to me.  He keeps mimicking me and telling K, "No running Daddy!"  I don't think he really understands what happened.  We're trying to give him just enough information and reassure him that Daddy is fine.

My real worry is A.  He's just so quiet and reserved with his feelings.  On the way home from that terrible practice last week, K told him to call 911 on his cell phone if he had to stop the car.  He looked terrified when they pulled up and K whispered to call 911.  My poor, sensitive boy.  I haven't really had the chance yet to sit down with him and talk about what happened.  I'm going to try tonight and check in with him to make sure he's okay.

Our friends' and family's reactions have ranged from shock and doom and gloom to dismissal.  Both our parents live in a bit of "la la" land and just want everything to be okay. K's parents aren't very confident in doctors in general and tend to ignore basic health issues. My dad argued with me this morning about whether or not K can eat spinach (doctor says no, my dad said "oh he'll be fine").  My parents in particular have focused all of their energy on the girls.  That's hard to stomach.  The boys are their grandchildren too.

And then there's me.  I'd be lying if I didn't say that being on the medication hasn't been a very good thing through all of this.  I am still nervous not being with him.  We're hugging each other a lot. I'm not sleeping or eating very well.    I thought I was going to have a full blown panic attack yesterday morning when he first went to work.  I know he's tired of me saying, "Are you OK?"  I am still very scared.  I keep replaying that night in my head.  It was horrible.  I thought I was losing him.  We have our marital challenges given the unbelievable stress we're under with the family, but at the end of the day he's still my best friend and I love him dearly.

I keep telling myself to take things one day at a time.  I really like his doctor and feel like he's getting the best care he can.  If we can just get through the next few weeks (girls' wedding to Indiana and anniversary of accident), I think we'll be okay.  This is the hand we've been dealt and we'll get through it together.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Golden Ticket

I used to think that after the accident we had a golden ticket as a family.  We had our tragedy and nothing worse could possibly happen.  I learned that's not the case last Friday.

Last Tuesday K started complaining about pain in his rib, especially when taking deep breaths.  Being a typical guy, he blew it off thinking that L might have kicked him or head butted him in the night.  He hadn't done anything strenuous to cause any trauma, but thought that must be the case.  Each subsequent day he felt worse and worse.  We were up all night Thursday.  Every time he laid down to sleep he'd have to sit up because of the pain and inability to breath.  I thought he was having a heart attack, but he insisted he was fine and it was just the pain from his ribs.  By Friday morning he was feeling so bad I convinced him to go to the doctor.  He was back 1.5 hours later after a clean EKG with a diagnosis of bruised ribs or cartilage or a muscle strain.  They did take an x-ray but the results wouldn't be in till the late afternoon.

I went off to school to volunteer and he proceeded to hit Home Depot, buy a hedge trimmer and a bunch of 80 lb bags of soil which he deposited around the yard.  He insisted he was fine.  I came home around 4:40 with A so they both could head off to soccer practice.  The rest of us made dinner and settled in for a relaxed Friday night.  At about 6:45 I was in the front of our house in the street tossing pop flies to D when K and A pulled up and he sputtered, "call 911."  A was crying, K was gasping for air.

I rushed in to grab the phone screaming for E to get outside (she's certified in CPR as a lifeguard).  By the time I got through and gave our address, he managed to get out of the car and stand up.  In this position he could breath much easier and insisted he was feeling better.  At this point, I handed the phone over to E to talk to the dispatcher and tried to assess what was going on.  L was screaming.  D and A were cowering on the porch.  M was trying to help me with L.

The firetruck and paramedics finally arrived and started checking him out.  He continued to insist he was fine.  We argued in the middle of the street with me yelling he was going to the hospital.  They moved us into the ambulance and the paramedic calmly told K it was a good idea to go and get checked out. 

I had called K's mom right after I called 911, so she arrived to take care of the kids while I headed to the ER to get there ahead of the ambulance.

I waited for another 20 minutes till he finally got there.  It was awful.  They did another EKG and determined his heart was fine.  The doctor came in and decided that a cat scan was in order.  At this point, K was getting very agitated and insisting he just wanted to go home (he hates hospitals and is the exact opposite of a hypochondriac).  He refused to take any narcotics for the pain or anything to calm him down.

At 10:30 pm the doctor came in to tell us he had multiple pulmonary embolisms in his lungs and things quickly got very serious.  A nurse came in and administered a blood thinner (a shot in his abdomen).  We were admitted upstairs to the telemetry unit where he could be monitored 24/7 to make sure no other clots were thrown).  We were up all night with ultrasounds on his legs, drugs, etc. 

The doctor came in Saturday morning and gave us the news that he has a blood clot behind his left knee.  He has two clots in his right lung and one clot in his left lung.  There has already been lung damage on the right side which has cause pleurisy (fluid sac) around the lung causing the pain.  The seriousness of the situation sunk in.  A nurse commented how lucky he is that he's not dead.  With no other symptoms, situations like this usually end fatally.

It was a long and stressful weekend.  I had hard time leaving his side.  I was really scared. We spent many hours just sitting and holding each other.  It was horrible and continues to be shocking that this is really happening.

We were able to come home yesterday afternoon.  They taught me how to give the injections twice a day which is keeping him safe until the oral blood thinners do their job.  We go in this afternoon for a reading to check his levels and will get a better understanding of the next steps.  What we know so far is that we'll do the injections for another week and then he'll be on the blood thinners for 6 months in to break up the clots and hopefully prevent more from forming. He'll have some lifestyle changes as a result.  After that, he'll have tests done to determine why this happened since he doesn't have any of the classic precursors (not overweight, pregnant, recent surgery, or a big traveller).

The kids are fine.  Spooked a bit, but doing okay.  E definitely stepped up to the plate.  Of all the months for this to happen of course, when we all are reminded of the fragility of life.

So I guess my illusion of our family being spared is partially true.  K is still here.  He didn't die.  Maybe we have the golden ticket after all.  Or maybe life is just life.  Random.  Unfair.  I'm just thankful he's still with us and our kids didn't have to get another horrible life lesson. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

One Week

So I've been taking the medicine for one week today.  I'm still not sure what I think and, more importantly, how I feel about it.  The side effects have not been great.  My stomach is still a bit queasy and my appetite hasn't returned yet.  Yesterday the constant thirst abated a little.  Strangely, my diet coke craving hasn't been as strong. I'm tired, but in a different way, more sleepy than my normal physical tiredness.  I've had to take a nap 3 out of the last 4 days.  I feel a bit spacey at times and sometimes following a conversation has been difficult.  I had a hard time at therapy Monday trying to express what I'm feeling.

On the positive, I've been falling asleep much easier at night.  I definitely feel mellower.  Subdued is the only word I can muster to match how I feel.  The constant irritability and underlying anger seems gone.  Monday night and last night I did feel the familiar anxiety about something that needs to get done this week, but that kind of stress is an old friend.  I feel more patient.  This weekend with the boys especially we all felt a little lighter.

To be honest, I've feel like crap for so long I'm not sure what good feels like.  My therapist said I should start feeling more like myself again.  I don't who that is anymore. 

I haven't told anyone in my life about this.  My friends Lanette and Elena who encouraged me to take this step know and have been checking in on me.  I haven't told K.  He knew I was going to talk to a doctor about it.  I feel horrible not sharing this major decision with him, but at this point I'm not sure how he'll react and whether or not I can handle it if it's negative.  Why do I have no problem telling anyone that I go to therapy on Mondays, but can't admit that I'm taking an antidepressant.  I even just hesitated as I typed the "a" word instead of using the generic "medicine."

I'm going to stick with it.  If the side effects don't improve, I'll call my doctor and maybe switch to something else.  I know in my mind that this is the right decision for me and my family.  My heart just hasn't caught up yet.