Depression – A Real Roller Coaster of a Ride

I am fortunate. I have always been able to get up out of bed in the mornings. There are many who just can’t. For the most part, I am able to complete my tasks for the day but there are some days when I have to push myself to work on my novel or complete the tasks I started the day before. There are many who fall apart and just can’t.

I have depression and with the proper medication, I can accomplish my day to day activities. Some days are better than others although there are lows. It is exactly like being on a roller coaster. The rush and anticipation of climbing upwards, knowing that you are soon at the edge and about to plummet down. The pit of your stomach eats at you, knowing what is about to happen. But I am able to find joy and beauty in most days. I am also able to find peace and enjoy knowing God is there.

However, to anyone who thinks that one should be able to cope without medication, I must laugh. I am lucky in that my depression is not as bad as others who experience it. The medication I have, lets me cope rationally. If there are Christians who think our depression can be controlled or managed by God alone, in this case, I think God needs help. I am a sinner and human. I need help.

I know a woman, who after she started taking vitamins and a shake program, stopped taking her medications. A mistake? Absolutely. This woman is now certifiably crazy. She has become this person who blows up at the slightest issue. She plans her day on the best way to terrorize others. She will pick on people and devise ways to make them miserable. Then when they stand up to her, she gets rid of them and blames them for their crazy and unacceptable behavior. She calls herself a good Christian woman.

There are many forms of mental illness. Some of the major types are depression, anxiety,¬†schizophrenia, bipolar mood disorder, personality disorders, trauma and eating disorders. Personally, schizophrenia and bipolar mood disorder scares me. These are truly life altering mental illnesses. Anyone with these disorders or anyone who has a family member or friend with these disorders has my heartfelt sympathy. My husband and I watched “A Beautiful Mind” the story of John Forbes Nash Jr. This movie touched me deeply. John’s wife, Tilly, is so beautiful. She looked past his illness and loved him at a time where so little was known about mental illness. What a strong and courageous woman.

We cannot see what goes on in a person’s life. We cannot know exactly how a person is living day to day. We do not know their struggles whether it be a physical or mental struggle. The pain from either struggle is real and can be difficult to cope with. A person should not be judged by either pain. Each one of us needs to give every person we meet, grace and kindness. We need to treat others the way we, ourselves, would like to be treated. We are all children of God. We have only one life to live. We need to live it in a way that honors God.

What Does One Do?

It has been one year that Bill and I have been married. One year since we said for better for worse. In sickness and in health. Until death do us part.

It has been a very difficult year for the two of us. One week before our wedding I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then two months later, Bill fell and had two hemorrhages on the brain. He was hospitalized for one and a half weeks. He was told to stay at home for two months and grow a beard. Which he did. It is a beautiful beard.

Through it all, my love has grown deeper for this man. My love for him leaves me breathless. I feel my love for him like a thread that weaves its way around me. All of me. Into my heart and around my soul. I dream about him. I think about him every second of every day. We found each other late in life but Bill is a blessing to me. God has granted us this time together.

And yet. Things are not perfect. I dream too much. I think too much. I think about my past and all the mistakes I made. I think about Bill’s past and all the women he has known. Bill is a handsome man with charisma. Then, stupidly, I think about what if we had met when we were younger? I keep imagining that Bill would have glanced at me, briefly, and walked past me. I imagine I would have fallen head over heels in love with the man. And then been crushed as he walked past me. His blonde hair, his stunning blue eyes would have captured my heart and not let go. Why do I do this to myself?

I tell myself that I am a creative person and I am a writer. That is how I get myself into trouble. My imagination just does not stop going. It is better than the Eveready battery. That is how I am able to write stories. My stupid imagination gets me into trouble so much. So I waste time crying over the past and my mistakes and faults. I see myself as imperfect, not good enough for a man like Bill. I would like to kick my imagination in the butt and out the door. Yet, if it wasn’t for my imagination, I would not be able to come up with the stories I write and God would get less frustrated with me. I think I am giving God a good run.

Head over heels in love. That is me. I look at Bill and wonder what he sees in me. And then I thank God that Bill is in my life and that he loves me. At times I am torn. I finally deserve Bill and then, because of my faults and mistakes, I don’t deserve him.

For better for worse. For richer for poorer. Well, I think Bill and I have pretty much covered those. Until death do us part. But I pray to God that, should I die first, I must watch over Bill. I need to be with him until the end of time. Forever. I want to be able to greet him when he joins me in heaven. I would give my life for Bill, as I would for my children and grandchildren. Such is my love for this wonderful man.

2017 Thoughts on My Year

2017 – I hope a year like this doesn’t happen again. I shouldn’t say that because my daughter and I both got married to the most wonderful men.¬† My year started off fairly normally. Except, I was tired of the travel back and forth from Reidsville to Charlotte.

Move closer to Charlotte, I thought. Buy a house and be closer to Bill, I thought. Be somewhere between Charlotte and Columbia where Bill has his office. Piece of cake, right? First I had to find a horse barn that had a good reputation and would be a good fit financially for my beautiful mare. Bill was overwhelmed that I had to find a good barn before I would consider where I would end up purchasing a house. We spent many weekends driving on back country roads and I spent many hours looking up horse barns on the internet.

I finally found a barn that was perfect for Gizmo and I. Only problem was that it was close to Fort Mill – close to Charlotte. Not anywhere close to Columbia. Another problem was that there really weren’t any great communities between Charlotte and Columbia. Bill and I ended up purchasing a bungalow – oh, right, ranch style house – in Indian Land which really has a Lancaster address. The community we purchased our house in is young and thriving.

While our house purchase was happening, people kept advising Bill that he and I should marry. It would make it so much easier with the house purchase and everything else. I would just look at Bill when he said this to me and shrug my shoulders. I had found the man of my dreams but had he found the woman of his?

Right around this time, Joe Bahemuka, Veronika’s boyfriend proposed to her before he had to leave for South Sudan. Joe had accepted a position with the UN to work in South Sudan to set up food and health programs for this newly developing country. I could look forward to a wedding.

Then, out of the blue, Bill calls me one day and told me that my father had given his blessing to us. So Bill proposed to me while I was driving. I accepted. Wait! What kind of a proposal was this? Bill ended up proposing to me three times before I told him that his proposal was good enough. His very good friend, Dee Dee, also shamed him into getting me an engagement ring since he hadn’t thought of purchasing something before the proposal. Seems like he wasn’t going to do anything like his previous two marriages. But no engagement ring? Bill was lucky that I did not want a typical diamond ring. I love pearls and a pearl ring with diamonds was exactly what I wanted.

Plans for our wedding were started. My son, Peter, was having two graduations at the end of May and June. One was for his Masters in Business and the other was from law school. We wanted to plan our wedding after that. And with Bill being in the navy and previously owning a yacht, I thought, wouldn’t it be perfect to have our wedding on a boat. Bill told me Lake Norman had a paddle wheel and we should drive up there to take a look. the wedding planner and I had a date booked and arrangements for our wedding before Bill could flutter his beautiful eyes. Bill kept mumbling, “I thought we were just going to look at the paddle wheel.”

We happily told our children about our wedding date when Veronika announced that she and Joe had set their wedding date. Bill and I were getting married June 24. Veronika and Joe set their date for May 21. Okay! I thought that the reason for the date was that Veronika would then be joining Joe in South Sudan until we were told that she was pregnant. Okay! Yippee! I was going to be a grandmother.

Veronika and Joe’s wedding was beautiful. I cried and was happy to see their happiness. Unfortunately, Joe could only get one week away from his work. Their time together was short but sweet. My oldest daughter is married!

Every year in April I dutifully do my mammogram. In previous years, I was always called back for abnormalities in my right breast. This year, I was called back for abnormalities in my left breast. Something was there. I went in for a biopsy. One week before my wedding, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Bill and I did not plan on going on a honeymoon after our wedding. We thought with the purchase of a new house, our honeymoon and especially now with the breast cancer diagnosis, it could wait. With all the screening and tests, my decision to have a lumpectomy waited until August. Once my decision was made, the lumpectomy was performed. During the lumpectomy, two of four lymph nodes were diseased and my cancer was upgraded to Stage 2A.

Two nights after my lumpectomy, Bill fell in our house. We went to emergency only to discover that he had fractured his skull and had two hematomas. Thank goodness I was sitting. I was still recovering from my lumpectomy and now the horrible thought that Bill could have died from this injury. Bill spent three days in the hospital. He was released but that night he started vomiting and could not stop. We went back to emergency and he was admitted to the hospital where he stayed for one week.

Bill is recovering although this could very well take one year to finally be resolved. His short term memory is terrible. He suffers with balance issues although the balance is getting better. He has gone back to work. His headaches, fortunately, are not anything what they were like after the fall.

My chemo treatments started in September. The first drugs knocked me off my feet. The second drug is much better. I still tire easily and find I need to rest often. I am so tired of being tired. But there is an end in sight for me.

My very first grandchild, a girl, was born October 21st. Eliora Louise came into our lives at a robust 9.2 pounds with a very healthy set of lungs. I, unfortunately, am not advised to travel so I am waiting to meet my granddaughter Christmas day.

My son, Peter, his wife, Carol, my daughter, Veronika with Eliora and my youngest daughter, Natasha with her boyfriend, Darren will be arriving here on Christmas day. I am beyond excited and happy to have my children here with me. Bill has not spent Christmas with family for a long time. To have a house full of people who do not have indoor voices will be quite an adjustment for Bill. Bill knows how much this means to me and I think he is looking forward to a house full of vocal adults and a baby who is as stubborn as her mother.

As i make preparations for a house full of people, I wish everyone true blessings over this holiday season. Treating others with kindness and love is the most wonderful gift to receive. Always remember that we do not always know what others are going through or dealing with. Angry actions cannot be undone. Kindness will always be remembered and treasured. I am hoping for a healthy new year and good fortune for 2018. As Ellen DeGeneres says, Be kind to one another.

 

Bill’s Journey during My Cancer Journey

The neurosurgery PA and NP kept Bill in the hospital until Tuesday. He was told he could not go back to work for approximately 4 weeks and could not drive. Great.

He was given prescriptions and told that the hairline fracture at the back of his skull would heal in approximately 3 weeks. The subdural hematoma would heal in approximately 4 to 6 weeks.

Bill began throwing up Tuesday night. He did not stop. I lay in bed and listened to his vomiting, not being able to offer more help than that and I was surprised that I was not hurling with him. Watching or hearing someone vomit is not a strong suit of mine but I managed to hold it together. Mid morning Bill called the neurosurgeons about the vomiting and he was told to go to emergency.

Oh joy! That afternoon at the emergency department was like a gong show. Bill was put on a bed in the hallway under direct lights by the nursing station. He was given morphine and nausea medicine and told that he would be taken for a ct scan. Bill slept and I tried to keep my eyes on my phone, playing card games while patients were being wheeled in and out of emergency rooms surrounding us. One young man who was lieing in a bed close to Bill needed stitches to his chest. The young nurse sat on a chair beside the bed and proceeded to stitch him up in the hallway.

Bill was taken for his ct scan and when he returned, we were told that he would be admitted to the hospital. Seven hours later, he was settled in a room. While the bleeding had not increased, it seemed to have settled. However, his blood pressure was high and the neurosurgeons wanted to keep an eye on him. I sighed and went home.

Bill was kept in the hospital for 10 days. I was glad he was there. Every day seemed to be a different issue. One day his blood pressure was high. The next day his blood pressure was fine but his sodium levels were very low. It would swing back and forth between the blood pressure and his sodium level every day. But finally his blood pressure settled while his sodium level remained low. On the day we decided to go home, the neurosurgery team was good to let him go but the medical team did not want to release him because his sodium level was at 129. They wanted to wait until it was 130.

We went home with the agreement that he would have his blood checked Friday and again Monday. On Friday, his sodium level was 130. On Monday it was 134. Now the doctors were happy. Bill is still on disability. He cannot drive. While the pain in his head is not as severe, his dizzy spells are continuing. Bill’s head injury and bleeding in the brain outranks my cancer. Can you imagine that?

Taking Care of Bill – My Cancer Journey

This is the love of my life. The wonderful man I married on June 24th. Bill is my dream come true.

Last year in July, after many years of suffering, Bill had both knees replaced. I promised to take care of him during his recovery. I was loving, kind, but strict. I made certain he did all the exercises the physical therapist gave him. I took him to all of his appointments. It was a painful recovery but Bill did very well. Unfortunately, he developed scar tissue in both knees.

By January, he was truly not happy. I told him then to see his surgeon. He did and that is when the surgeon told him he had scar tissue. The procedure to scrape out the scar tissue would be done through laparoscopy. An easy enough procedure and would be done on an outpatient procedure. Bill decided to wait.

I wanted the procedure done as soon as possible. His legs kept swelling every day. I would massage them every night to ease the pain and the swelling. Still he waited.

Then I got the news about my breast cancer. Bill was now more determined than ever to hold off on his procedure so that we could focus on my health issues. I was really annoyed. How could someone who could barely manage to get up from a sitting position take care of me? I wanted him to be able to chase me around the house. And catch me. At this point, the only way he would catch me is if I ran into his arms. And with that, he would probably groan in pain.

I pushed and, okay, nagged. He finally decided to go ahead with the procedure. I told him we had to wait for all these other tests to come in before my lumpectomy so we might as well get his knees fixed. His knees were fixed. After the surgery, when he pushed himself out of bed, there were no clicking noises in his knee. It was silent. Oh my goodness! This was awesome. Wonderful. And since his surgery, his legs no longer have swelling issues. He misses the leg massages and I will break down every once in a while to massage them. (I get a thrill out of this myself.)

But now we could focus better on my health issues, right? No. Wrong.