Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

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Gold Award Court of Honor

August 20, 2017

The Chief was unable to make it home. He missed it by a week. It couldn’t be helped. But he was there in spirit. His carved Girl Scout Bridge and his Hounds at Hazelwild medallion were on display. And he sent an email for me to read during the parents’ moment to speak.

Ok, now is the time to grab your tissues. T1, your dad, who is the Eagle scout, and I are very proud of you and this amazing project you created and undertook. I would say yes, there were times you were a typical teenager but then this wasn’t a project a typical teenager would attempt. I hope you know that after doing this, you can really take on any event and project you put your mind to.

                              The Chief sent the following message: Every Dad thinks their daughter is amazing, I have the blessing of knowing that mine is. When I learned the size and scope of the project she set out to do I had an initial bit of hesitation, knowing the amount of work that would be required. T1 insisted that she was up to the challenge and would be able to get the job done. In the end, the time, sweat and trials that went into this project were worth it in the end. Completing a Gold Award Project is something to be proud of, but as a Dad I was more proud of something else. Being able to have a vision, share it with others, and get so many people to give their time and energy to make it a success is even more amazing. Seeing the growth and maturity as she dealt with the challenges lets me know that she’s capable of anything she sets her mind to.

  I truly know my daughter is awesome.

Many of you know that T1 lost her special greyhound, Crookshanks, on March 31st. I was originally going to commission the same Cindy Liebel pendant for T1 but the idea came to me to honor Crook. Racing greyhounds have tattoos in their ears. One set of numbers marks the kennel the hound came from. The other ear has the birth month and year followed by a letter showing which order in their litter they were tattooed. Crook, who raced as Kiowa Saints, had identical tattoos to her sister Hedwig except for the letter–128F. I always said it stood for fair, as Crook was lighter than Heddie, who is 128D (for dark). I thought about a pendant but you are really a bracelet kind of girl. So here is a custom Cindy Liebel cuff bracelet with Crook’s tattoo numbers. And when people ask you about those numbers, Crook will always be honored as your first–but not last–greyhound and how she helped you earn your Gold Award.

Note: I had a few dads in the audience come up to me afterwards to say that they fought back a few sniffles. My SIL’s dad came up to me and said, “When she struggles in life, the first thing she needs is the Bible. The second is her dad’s email. Make sure she takes a framed copy of that with her to college.”

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Repeat & Add Craziness!

July 28, 2017

Does this year really need to repeat everything about last year?

One “perfect for you” job that I didn’t get. Adopt a dog on June 11. Second “perfect for you” job that I didn’t get. Now just waiting for that third job. Stinks. But I refuse to sink. I am trusting God again.

If I had gotten the first job this year, I’d be working full-time, 12-months a year. That just wouldn’t work right now. Two days ago we found out T1 has mild to moderate hearing loss of all the middle ranges in both ears.

Normal hearing is between -10 to 20 dB. T1 hears low sounds and high sounds in those ranges. Mild hearing deficit is between 20 to 40 dB. Moderate hearing deficit is between 40 to 70 dB. All of the middle sounds for T1 fell between 40 and 70 dB.

This is a “sound banana.” (Found on Pinterest, source unknown.)

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The middle sounds are between 500 and 3,000 Hz.

During the word tests, if they turned up the volume she could hear about 88% in one ear and 92% in the other.

Of course I asked if this was from earwax (a chronic problem for her)…nope, no wax to speak of. She hasn’t had an ear infection since 2012 that we know of and currently no fluid behind the ear drums. I asked if this was from earbuds and always wearing them… nope, no evidence of sound trauma from the other tests they performed. Looks like a nerve deficit.

To say that I was stunned is putting it mildly. T1 handled it great–she is relieved to know the hearing loss is real. Maybe her sister will stop picking on her and calling her deaf!

In short I contacted every family member I could, but I was desperate to hear from the Chief. I eventually called the ship on the satellite phone. Something I don’t think I’ve done in like 5 years.

The ENT is recommending either an amplifier or hearing aids but he wants to find the cause by ruling out some pretty serious genetic conditions. In case you weren’t aware, the inner ears and the kidneys form in utero at the same time. Often if one has kidney disease, one has a hearing problem and vice versa. So T1 needs a urinalysis. There are some chronic heart conditions, not “momentary” like my SVT, that also could indicate a hearing issue. So T1 needs an EKG. Need to find a pediatric cardiologist. The inner cochlear bones could be malformed. So T1 needs a CT scan. The ENT could order the CT scan but I needed to get her pediatrician to either do the other tests or order them.

And after talking to a friend who just got hearing aids, those will be a series of appointments as well… one to get a trial pair, one to see how the trial went, one to fit the ones we’ll buy, one to retest in the booth how they are working, etc.

And the Chief is at sea and due to circumstances out of his control may not get home until the end of August.

Pediatrician visit and urinalysis complete today. Her pediatrician, who had only started her private practice within the year T1 was born and had seen her less than a day old, was in as much shock as I was. We talked family medical history and about all the testing the ENT wanted. Opted to get T1 into Children’s Hospital for the cardiologist rather than just a routine clinic EKG. (“If there is a problem she’ll need a cardiologist anyway…”) Of course I couldn’t get into the closest branch until late September but by choosing a different branch she could be seen sooner and at least I don’t have to go all the way to the big city like when T2 had her first mystery illness. Cardiologist scheduled for the 7th and the CT scan will be local on the 10th. Follow-up with the ENT on the 28th.

Last night we told her private teacher for viola lessons about the hearing deficit. After his initial shock he said, “Now things make sense. She doesn’t self-correct like she should.” She has college scholarship auditions to prepare for–now we know we have additional work to accomplish.

Got a call today to see if we wanted to start the hearing aid process. I am not ready for that. Gadgets are not my thing. I know the Chief will research every model out there and have all the pros and cons and customer reviews on hand. He’ll look at cost and efficiency. He wants to know if this will be progressive. I’m going to wait until the 28th, crossing my fingers that he will be home, to start the process. I am not up to doing this alone.

On the drive home today T1 was silent so at the red light I signed, Are you okay? Of course she scowled at me. I had been jokingly signing I love you since the day before. I stopped giggling and said, “I have to joke about it because I think if I didn’t, I’d cry.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

The light turned green and I caught her out of the corner of my eye signing Are you okay?

“Maybe I have to find your old sign language books and watch YouTube to teach myself sign language. I might need it in the future.”

Like I said, she’s handling it better than I am.

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Sincere Reflection

May 3, 2017
I am biased. I think the new catch phrase is “implicit bias” and as a new para-educator I am supposed to be looking at that.
I am prejudiced too.
I think I resist even admitting those two things because usually someone will also throw in that I am closed-minded, racist, bigoted, Bible-thumping, hateful and hate-filled.
But I was having a conversation (if you want to call it that) with another parent volunteer the other day and at the end of it, I felt convicted and rightfully guilty.
It started simple enough. I was propping my feet up because they were swollen and hurting and as a responsible and reasonable adult I could not take any meds to allievate the pain and still drive my child around. This began my discourse into my current medical state–a journey that began last December when on the job I picked up pneumonia. This parent I was speaking to had indicated a fairly decent amount of medical knowledge so I knew she understood when I named my condition and the medications I take that weaken my immune system. And I know everyone understands that a school is a cesspool of nasty germs.
My assignment at the time was a difficult one with the most challenging students. I actually learned a lot about myself–that I could do something I never had the intention of doing before, that I could be an advocate even if I didn’t have the license or title behind it, that I had things to offer.
But none of that matters if I say, “This has been a horrible year for illness and THOSE PARENTS, you know, they send those kids to school so sick.”
I think that is the moment I lost all credibilty and respect in my listener’s eyes. It didn’t matter what else I said. Because after she let me ramble on about how the pneumonia turned into three back-to-back sinus infections followed by tonsilitis and now because I couldn’t take my necessary meds I was in the worst flair since I was diagnosed…. she told me she had one of those kids. Not school-aged yet, but she was one of THOSE PARENTS.
Usually I reserve my bias and prejudice until I have multiple interactions to form an opinion. I am an introvert that avoids anything that makes me uncomfortable so I gravitate to what I know. It doesn’t mean I fear or hate or whatever people that are different from me (be it looks or lifestyle or status). It just takes me longer to get to know others and feel comfortable. Often I really have no opinion or feelings either negative or position about people I meet.
But my negative bias, prejudice, opinion, comes from a negative experience. I would like to say often I give people and experiences multiple tries before I write them off or have negative bias and prejudice. But not always. Rather than expressing any kind of sympathy or understanding for THOSE PARENTS, I blamed them for my current medical condition and swollen, painful feet.
Just by labeling them THOSE PARENTS.
And I can’t even say it was the pain talking. I had used the phrase before. While I may have had nods of understandin from those listeners–I wonder how many were thinking, “Wow! I can’t believe she said that!”
I don’t think there is any “politically correct” and un-biased way of saying parents who send their children to school put many at risk without really considering that maybe, just maybe, some of those parents (and children) do not have a choice. I have sick leave that, while precious given my health, I can take and not worry about losing my job. What if THOSE PARENTS don’t? My children are healthy–what’s the phrase “neuro-typical” and in fact are high achievers. I’ve never not known what to do with them, really. Only once post-op did I call the grandparents to come get them because I couldn’t physically take care of them yet. What a luxory!
It is okay to have opinion. It is okay to have and to exercise judgement. It is okay to have a preference for what we like and do not like. But when we do not “walk a mile” in their shoes and we say things to separate ourselves from individuals or groups just because we had an unfortunate experience… we are biased and prejudice and we may not even know it.
And I did not like the mirror held up to me because of my own actions. And she didn’t have to say a word.
I truly hope I learn from this and grow in compassion and understand how my biases and prejudices shape me and influence what I say and do. And I hope that I will be better and set a better example for my children.
*****
My daughters and I have had conversations about race and prejudice. Sure I don’t know what it is like to have anyone look at me in fear and distrust because of the color of my skin but please don’t make a blanket statement that I have to be racist because of the color of my skin. If anything, I’d say I’m “situationally biased”. If I were to find myself in a dark alley–I’m not looking at your skin color; I’d be fearful of anyone I’d meet in that alley from the smallest Asian man to the tallest white woman. I’d even say I’m probably a classist–is that a thing? Again, it doesn’t matter the color of your skin if you look the part. Are you dressed like a homeless person or a contributing member of society? Are you dressed like a prosti-tot or an honor student? Are you dressed like a thug or like a entrepreneur?
And it is these attitudes that I need to temper and soften and give people more benefit of the doubt and stop seeing it as me (or us) and THOSE PEOPLE.
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Here I go again..

February 28, 2016

What do depression and anxiety look like? I just looked in a mirror and saw for myself.

That’s where I’ve been. I think I am very fortunate that I saw the signs. I knew something was not right.

It is so hard to explain. And I was real, I mean REAL good at hiding it from the Chief. But not so good hiding it from my daughters, my best friend, or my SIL. Even now I struggle to find the words to describe it because it is almost indescribable–it just is.

I got the house decorated for Christmas in record time. The girls and I really enjoyed that. I enjoyed Black Friday shopping. I was listening to Christmas music since Thanksgiving. I enjoyed the candlelight tour of homes with my BIL and SIL. It wasn’t the typical “has the person lost interest and enjoyment in the things they once loved to do?” No. It was an overwhelming sense of dread and confusion and inability to make a simple decision. On the days I had to sub, I could get right up and get going… but when I got home from school I’d still want to curl up in the fetal position. Actually, the first alarm bell was the day I didn’t want to go to the gym. Not because it wasn’t enjoyable but because I had a day’s worth of activities following that I panicked over and worried about and couldn’t make a decision on.

I didn’t write my year-in-review letter. I had made a Christmas card with our beautiful family pictures we had taken in October. But I didn’t see a point to the letter. If you were in my life you knew what a year it was–tonsillectomy, ruptured L4/L5, subbing, surgery, camp, personal relationships in turmoil, my dad’s cancer… who wants to read all that and have a Merry Christmas?

And I didn’t want to host New Year’s Day. I just wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t know when the Chief was going to be home and I felt the world closing in.

One night the girls were fighting. T2 was pulling a stunt her sister had at that age, wanting something and not letting it drop–some absolutely annoying thing–right after I had shelled out $60+ to take us all to the movies. I will admit that as loud as I could reasonably do so in the theater lobby I called her a spoiled rotten brat. I drove them home and let them out and then drove away. I went less than a mile away and sat in my car at the park. I texted the Chief. He called the house to check on them. I played Sudoku for 2 hours. The oldest texted and I told her to tell her sister to go to bed; her too.

Then there was an incident over text messages with the Chief. Out of respect for him I won’t air the dirty laundry–we’ve already talked about it. But I stopped functioning. I sat in my car so that I wouldn’t curl into a ball on my bedroom floor. The girls were scared. A numb fog surrounded me. For days. Even the day he came home. I was ambivalent.

I described things to the Chief in these terms: anxious, fogged, as if every nerve in my body was on fire–I couldn’t handle loud noises or touch beyond the gentlest of caresses, an inability to see beyond the next minute let alone the next hour or day and if I had to think about it the pain and anxiety came back in a vicious cycle.

I had already made the decision to ask my therapist and GP to start some kind of antidepressant. Now it was just a matter of making it through the holidays until my appointment. I didn’t host New Year’s… getting a nasty case of Strep throat and a sinus infection was the perfect excuse. I had hoped the Chief could have gone with me to my GP but he had to leave for a class. We decided to start on Cymbalta for a couple of reasons–it is used for pain management and doesn’t seem to have a weight gain side-effect.

It took about 10-14 days for me to start to feel normal again.

The Chief has honestly said he doesn’t know if it is making a difference–I was REALLY that GOOD at hiding it from him. I guess that’s a hazard of this lifestyle. But he has been so supportive and understanding once we really had a heart to heart. I haven’t had the courage to talk to the girls about it to see if they’ve noticed.

I’ve been on Cymbalta for 40 days now. The Chief has gone back to sea. I feel fortunate that I was that aware of something wrong. It was gradual … two years building up with one kick after another… but I think my dad’s cancer scare left me so raw that the misunderstanding between the Chief and I just highlighted how broken, how out of balance I was.

Do I hope I’m only on Cymbalta for a short time, like when I had post-partum depression? Sure. But I also know it may be a long-term solution.

The day I didn’t dread going to the gym was the day I knew I was turning a corner. I guess this is another corner in this journey.

 

 

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