Wednesday, October 10, 2018

My Obsession With Hurricane Michael. And the Comments People Are Making.

For those of you that don't know, I'm home recovering from back surgery. I have had a hell of a time the past few months. This pain is no joke.

My favorite part of being home is the comments I get. It must be so nice to be home all day. Enjoy your vacation. You're so lucky.

Yes I am lucky for many, many reasons. This is not one of them. I have a new appreciation for people who suffer in pain on the daily. It's been a nightmare.

My days are spent taking enough pain meds to kill a horse. I am pretty much a prisoner in my own home. And my own mind.

I have to rely on others for so much. It's the exact opposite of the person I normally am. I now understand what the term quality of life means.

I'm not sitting over here having the time of my life. I'm actually not sitting at all. This sciatica is robbing me of that pleasure as well.

But it's not all gloom and doom. When unfortunate natural disasters strike I get to watch 24-7 coverage. And if you know me, you know how important this is to me.

I am currently watching Hurricane Michael coverage. And I feel so personally close to this hurricane that I am referring to him as just Michael now. I mean, we did just spend the night together.

There was enough breaking news locally last week to keep me plenty occupied. So a natural disaster is just what the doctor ordered this week. After all, a category 4 hurricane is still safer than the streets of Chicago. Ammiright? Boom.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't anxious. Watching coverage of this storm is not for the faint of heart. Thankfully I am unable to feel right now.

One reason I feel so personally connected to this pending disaster is because I vacay yearly in Florida. Right on the panhandle. Right where that little devil Michael is heading.

I know how gorgeous that area is. And there are so many people who live there year round. And so many others that own homes there. And work there. It has to be terrifying.

Another thing that I find terrifying are comments people make on the live hurricane feeds...

Jeanie wrote:
"In a way we are lucky being in the middle of the country. But at that we do have dangerous weather too. With seldom a warning!"

I like Jeanie. She wants to let the people of Florida to know what a$$holes they are for living there. But then she has somewhat of a change of heart and wants to let the people of Florida know that she knows dangerous weather too. With seldom a warning! Jeanie is what we call a know-it-all-one-upper.

Nicole wrote:
"I am at work. Is this coming to St. Louis?

Nicole thank you for rubbing it in that you can work and I can't. Also I probably couldn't even point out St. Louis on a map but I'm pretty sure other people are in a little more danger than you. In St. Louis. But you should probably get under your desk just to be safe.

Judy wrote:
"Come stay with us!"

Judy your invite would seem a lot more sincere if you posted your address.

Bec wrote:
"My mom lives in the path. Prayers for all."

Um what? Your mom lives in the path yet you're on FB commenting on a live feed? And praying for others? Good news. You should have your inheritance soon.

Claudia wrote:
"This is just amazing! Will this storm change the coastline a bit?"

Wow Claudia this comment is amazing. It really made me think. I love that about you. But I feel bad that you wrote such a profound question on a live FB feed. That no one will ever answer. We may never know about the outcome of the coastline. Ever.

Bob wrote:
"Who da thunk there would be a hurricane in the Gulf"

Bob, your lack of question mark makes me think this is rhetorical, but I'm going to go ahead and answer anyway. I did not thunk there would be a hurricane in the Gulf. Until this morning I wasn't even sure where the Gulf was. Or why the hell it's called the panhandle. But it all makes sense now. I thunk.

John wrote:

John your comment made me get up and put a little piece of tape over that tiny little camera eye that stares back at me as I type. But I'm confused as to why you are yelling.

Alvin's Island wrote:
"Our thoughts and prayers are with all of our employees, customers and those that are in the path of Hurricane Michael. Be safe everyone!"

Sh!t. Just. Got. Real. If something happens to Alvin's Island how are my kids going to spend all of my hard earned money on total crap the next time we're on vacay?  And where else am I going to find a t-shirt that reads, "I'm not gay, but $20 is $20?" Pray. Pray now.

 Joseph wrote:
"God's wrath. Expect more."

Joseph you sound fun. You must be a blast at parties. This is God's way of punishing us for homosexuality isn't it?

On that note...

I'll be here watching all of this coverage. Praying for he people who stayed behind. Praying for the first responders that didn't have a choice but to stay behind to help the people who had the choice, but chose to stay behind.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Praying for the Police. And the Safety and Sanity of Everyone Today.

Tension are high in the city of Chicago today. We are all anxiously awaiting the verdict in the LaQuan McDonald case. A case that has caused so much tension in this city for two years.

Will Jason Van Dyke be found guilty in the death of LaQuan McDonald? And if so on what charge? Everyone thinks they know, but the truth is no one has any idea until we here it from the jury.

But that's not the point of this post. Because I'm no expert. On anything. And neither are you.

So, as my friend Floira likes to tell me, "Let Go and Let God". We can't control any of this, but we can control ourselves. Hopefully.

The point of my post is a friendly reminder to think before you post. It's 2018 and we get most of our info from social media. And there's nothing more frustrating than receiving incorrect info. Or hearing rumors that have absolutely no truth behind them.

And I'm not talking about kids here. I'm talking about grown ass adults using social media to spread flat out lies. Please stop.

I am a school counselor and I work closely with seventh graders. It's my life's passion to get it through their thick skulls to always think before they post. But honestly, I think adults need to hear this more than kids.

Myself included. I have posted things I am not proud of. I have made comments that I now find cringe-worthy. I have shared things I regret sharing. Guilty. As. Charged.

But social media has been around long enough and we should all know better by now. Let me share with you what I share with students and my own kids.

If it's not, don't freaking post it! There's just no point. 

Last night there was a post going around that had absolutely no truth behind it. And it spread like wildfire. It was about a policeman and his wife being attacked just for being a policeman. Many people's worst fear right now in this community. Myself included. 

I was so upset when I saw this post. I shard it with friends. Because I read it on the internet. So it had to be true.

It turned out to be a total fabrication. Probably written by someone living in their mother's basement looking to get a rise out of people. And it worked. High five.

Finally there was a post from an extremely credible source stating the events never took place. I felt betrayed. But by who? Someone on the old Google machine that I do not know? Duh.

This is such a crazy time in this city. We don't not know what is about to happen. We do not know if everything we hear and are reading is true. So I will share with you the poetic words of my dear friend Kitz, "Never trust a story that starts out, my friend at work told me....".

Solid advice.

Things are stressful enough right now. I'm on edge. I have two brothers who are policeman. And countless cousins and friends to count. Because most of my friends are related.

I'm terrified at what might happen when the Van Dyke verdict is released. I'm so afraid a police officer will be hurt. Or even worse.

I'm afraid innocent people will be hurt. Or even worse.

I have had to have conversations with my young kids that I never thought I'd ever have to have. My daughter's and I did a few laps around the park last night. The heavy police presence was evident. I had to answer a lot of questions. Questions I did not have the answers to.

In the end I just told them to pray. Pray that people don't completely lose their sh!t. And pray that their uncles come home safe each night.

There are so many police families out there. All hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. Like we've done a many times before.

To all the police officers out there working more than twelve hour shifts at a time...
To all of the police officers getting their days off canceled when they should be spending that time with family and friends...
To all of the police officers putting their lives on the line every time they walk out the door...

We are praying for you to come home safe to your families. We support you. And we thank you.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Phone Call That Changed Our Lives Forever

It was one of those first days of summer. The weather was perfect. Cool in the morning, but warm enough for the kids to jump in the pool by afternoon. Our front room was being painted by an old friend. I had my brother’s kids over for the day too. It was just a typical day. Until the phone rang.

We always thought something was going on with our baby. From the moment he flew out of me, we knew something was off, but couldn’t quite put our finger on it. The doctors all knew too. His kidneys were checked. His  heart was checked. His vocal chords were scoped.

We had endless doctor appointments with one specialist after another. But never really got an answer. Until that day.

Our little guy was born with hammer toes, low-set ears, weak vocal chords, wide-set eyes, poor muscle tone. Just to name a few. For an entire year we tried our hardest to get an answer.

Finally a geneticist he was seeing scheduled us for a test. A genetic test. To check for chromosomal abnormalities. We thought we were over all this. So we were a little taken aback. But whatevs, we had the testing done to get some answers.

We were sent home with a list of what this particular test was looking for. I spent endless hours on the internet searching all of them. I was able to rule a few out because of his symptoms. But there were many I could not.

One week went by. Nothing. Two weeks goes by. Nothing. Finally I could breathe a sigh of relief. No news is always good news. Doctors only take the time to call when there is a problem.

Then the phone rang. With the painter there. With a houseful of kids. With the pool waiting for us in the yard. I saw the number and stepped outside.

It was our pediatrician calling with the since forgotten results of the testing we had done weeks ago. I was really thrown off. I thought we were over this. Then I thought, oh he finally got around to calling us to tell us everything checked out fine.

Not today. For the first time ever, I was wrong.

I could barely make out the words he was saying. Everything was spinning in my head. I was just trying to wrap myself around what he was telling me. I was trying to keep myself together. The painter. The kids. The pool.

This was it. There was no guessing anymore. No thinking, it’s probably nothing. No more hoping it was all in our heads.
It is what it freaking is.

I had to call my husband Beau. I had to tell him. I can remember his voice. Not what he said, but his voice.

I got through the rest of the day. The painter finished. We got the house back in order. The kids finally went to bed. And that’s when I got scared.

We were to meet with the geneticists in the morning. Twelve hours away. We had twelve hours to just sit here and wonder what the hell this all meant.

We stayed up all night. Beau and I. We sat on the couch in the living room. Me on my laptop searching every possible place for more information. Beau wouldn’t look at any of it. He just sat there unable to sleep.

This is the moment I understood why so many couples with children with special needs get divorced. We could not help each other. We were totally unable to comfort each other.

When my parents died, Beau was there to comfort me. When Beau’s dad died, Beau was there to comfort me. This was different. There was no one to comfort me. There was no one to comfort Beau.

It was the loneliest night of our lives. And one of the longest. Neither of us slept a wink. When the kids got up we got them ready for the sitter. We were finally on our way to the hospital to get some answers.

It was so overwhelming. We couldn’t possibly digest everything we were being told. I just hung on to our baby as hard as I could. I just kept thinking it will be okay, it will be okay. He’s alive and from what I can gather, he will be for a long time.

We only told a few people about the testing. We had spent a year testing and trying to explain everything to everyone. So we were just tired. And we thought there was a definite chance nothing would come of it, so why bother?

I can remember being in my kitchen and telling my brother Juan. He was concerned and asked what is it they’re looking for? We said all sorts of things. But all we really cared about was that he would live. So many chromosomal abnormalities don’t end well.

So sitting in that doctors office that day, we just kept reminding ourselves of that. All we prayed for is that he would live. Our prayers were answered. This could be so much worse.

And that was it. In that moment we changed our tune. We snapped out of it. We stopped feeling sorry for ourselves. We got what we asked for. Now move on.

And we did. And we’ve never looked back. 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome was now a part of our lives.

From that moment on, we threw ourselves into finding out everything we possibly could. We knew that knowledge is power. We had to learn everything we possibly could to help our son.

So we were thrilled when we heard there was going to be a conference on 22q coming up. We were pumped. The woman who was going to talk had a son with 22q and she was full of information.

It turned out to be the worst day of our lives. I cried for the entire seminar. We were really blindsided. Up until this point, we had read so much and heard everything the doctors had to say. But until we heard what to really expect from another mother, we had no clue.

That was a hard day. I cried the entire way home as well. My bestie Shelly called and I couldn’t even talk. Shelly and her husband and the kids came over right away. With flowers, pizza, wine, and smokes. Every possible thing we needed at that moment.

They stayed with us well into the night. It’s exactly what we needed to remind us we would be fine. We would get through all of this because of the awesome family and friends that we have. And with wine.

Our little guy was thirteen months old at the time of diagnosis. He spent two years in therapy 4-5 days a week. He started preschool this past April. He is amazing.

He has been poked and prodded more in his three years then I will be in my entire life. He always handles everything with a smile. He is the sweetest, most caring, and lovable kid we could ask for.

We were also very lucky that he is our fourth. His older brother and sisters are really the therapists we owe everything to. If it wasn’t for them teaching him his way in the world, like only siblings can, we’d all be lost.

There are times I stay awake all night with worry. There are times I can’t stop laughing. There are times I have to be medicated to get through the day. There are times I can’t stop counting my blessings.

We have a child with special needs. We actually have four children with special needs. This is what we have learned. Each one of our kids has their own struggles. They are each individual and handle things in their own way. And we’re just here to help them along the way.