Monday, March 17, 2014

A Turning Point: Anger or Control! & Updates, Family Fun and New Goal

So, we have been busy around our home the last couple of weeks. We have been enjoying ourselves and sharing time with friends. My last post was almost a month ago and since then, not much has changed on the job front. We know we will be waiting until around the beginning of May to make any plans. Until then, we are just going to enjoy our life. Marty has been working and the boys have been doing their school work. My Jonah bible study class finished up and will be starting a new study this week.

"Updates & Family Fun"

 I'll cover the last 2 weeks of February..... We had the cold bug go through the males of the house, yes I avoided it! We then had sleep over and a field trip day to the zoo. Note the pictures, Ryan is growing up since the first time we went there! Spring 2009 and February 2014
Fun with 3 pre-teen boys and riding the train! Long day but worth the fun. We went to the Botanical gardens and Children's Garden, neat place. We have to go back, we ran out of time!
We then went into March with our insurance through Marty's employer kicking in, Medicaid switching to a HMO type plan base. Then after having reported all the changes and turned in all the documentation needed, Medicaid was canceled on the 10th. Oh well, got eye exams done on both Marty and I.... still waiting for the glasses to come in. I have been working on the garden, mostly covering and un-covering the garden. The weather has been crazy with 82 one day and dropping to 14 by the next evening. Not to mention bringing freezing rain with it. I need to get my seedlings out of the house and into the garden before they die from lack of root space! More sleep overs and hanging out with friends. Those fill my time and I enjoy that more than anything.
We also went on a short ½ day mission trip. We joined our church youth for the afternoon on their mission field during spring break. The youth hosted a mini Vacation Bible School at a low-income apartment complex, working with an organization that has lots of groups doing the same. The boys friend plays guitar and writes his own songs. So we practiced 2 songs and the boys performed them for the VBS kids. It almost didn't happen, the complex had a “rough” crowd, there was a fear of bully type behavior and our youth/children's pastor was concerned for the boys feelings. We gave the boys the info and warned them of the fears, then gave them the option to back out. They didn't! While it wasn't perfect, after having to quietly speak to a few rowdy ones, a few others really seemed to connect with the message of the music.
We continued our day with joining the Dance class at Scottish Rite Hospital, we attended this class last year but they have changed the schedule to Wednesday nights, conflicting with our church schedule. After having a ton of fun, the boys were now hungry, so off to Ihop for some dinner. Long day filled with so much fun and fellowship! 
Finished the spring break week with some great family fun. For 2 days no body got dressed, we played the Wii 1 day and watched recorded shows the 2nd day. We even ordered pizza and grabbed snacks instead of cooking 1 day! Lazy family time, but together!

“Turning Point: Anger or Control” 

During all of this fun, the bible study finished up Jonah. I had a few more Jonah moments, but was more reflective, not pensive. A verse that got me really thinking; The Lord said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?” Jonah 4:4
Do I have reason to be angry at God? I always have refused to blame God for any troubles, always thought that was the worst thing I could do. I can't get angry at Him, He is God! Right?? But, should I be allowed to feel angry, if only for a moment? Should I just get it out? While I never placed blame on God for any troubles, I would say that it was meant to be a lesson, somewhere in whatever was going on, there should be a lesson to learn. But when the trouble hits you back to back, you wonder what lesson are you missing. The angry comes, but you direct it at yourself first- “You are missing the lesson! You did something wrong and still haven't learned what God wants you to learn!!” Just questioning yourself, your every action, word etc, looking for the wrong doing to explain why things are falling apart around you. If that doesn't get you answers, you then start looking at your spouse- “what have they done wrong? Where are they slipping? What reason (blame) can be causing the trouble in your life?” Then starts the cycle of guilt, “I have no right to blame my spouse; I shouldn't question their faithfulness; I have a bad attitude!” etc. So, anger is there all along, it's just directed different. But when we get angry at ourselves, are we also getting angry at God? For me, that is where I needed to go. I needed to hear the words, “It's OK to be angry at God!” I had been placing this blame on my shoulders and trying to find the answers, working so hard that I was doing it again.... taking control! Here it is again, that ugly bug that grabs us, takes a hold, multiplies like fleas and we can't get rid of it! CONTROL!!!! I was trying to find a way to control the “why” it was all happening. Anything I could do but get angry at God, because to get angry at Him meant that He was the one in control of it all! I'll say that again, “If I were to get angry at God, that means He is in control of the circumstances that I am in.” We all know and I believe, He will take care of us in our times of need, but do we acknowledge that He is in control and may have caused them? The troubling times are reminders that He is in control, not just over the solutions but over the causes as well. Now I know most folks would/ will disagree with me on this. Most say that God doesn't punish or cause bad things to happen, it's the devil that does it. Well, sometimes it is the devil but the bible does tell us God punishes. “Whether for correction, or for His world, Or for loving kindness, He causes it to happen.” Job 37:13 
So, God CAUSES it to happen. That means He does control it all, the good and the bad. See, here is my reminder and here is my lesson to be learned; He is in control, not me. So, I let go! I don't have to worry about what, how or why, I just need to be me and enjoy my family, where-ever we are.
Now, letting go doesn't mean not doing what I am supposed to do. It means to let go of the worry and the reason's behind it all. If you don't think about the why, then most of the worry goes away with it. So, we are paying our bills, spending our time and money on what we need to and even on some of the wants. We are not worrying about saving for the rainy day that always seems to come. But you want to know what keeps happening when we do that, the money we “need” comes right when we need it. I give to others more freely and spend on my family. I still am frugal, but I stopped hoarding the money. I had a $100 bill in my wallet for almost 2 months, worried that if I spent it, then some emergency would happen and then I would be left feeling guilty that I had spent that last $100. Sound familiar? Well, so finally I went through and spent all the money in the bank account to pay all the bills I could. Next day, there were checks in the mail to cover the bills I couldn't. So then, Marty get's the job and get's his 1st pay check, I again paid all the bills.
Now I still had this $100 bill in my wallet, but now I didn't need it as much as it was a security blanket. Then for some reason I had to break that $100, needed to use cash for some reason and only had that left. A few days later, a friend let me know they were having some struggles and were short on funds. I was able to give all that I had left from that $100 and help someone else that needed it. If it had still been in that $100 bill, my friend might not have taken it. See, life keeps going and I have to remember, I AM NOT IN CONTROL... GOD is!
So, now this week we start a new bible study, on Nehemiah. I am looking forward to more “moments” of God speaking to me. I hope I help to inspire you, or spark you to re-look at things and stop trying to control things.

"New Goal"

Also, our new family goal... work on our prayers. The boys offer our mealtime prayers, I have now challenged them to “5 finger prayers” which is 1 prayer or praise for each finger (and the thumb) during their mealtime prayers. We do a quick run down before we start, so everyone gets to help pick the 5, also that way we all are really focused on those 5 prayers.This has been helpful and we hope our prayers are getting answered. Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

An Update and Another Jonah- What's Important?

So about 2 weeks ago I did a post titled, “My struggle to find.. me while looking for God's direction!" and during the writing of that post I had some personal revelations. Some people have read it and told me in person their feedback, all have been supportive. I have begun to call that post, “A Jonah Moment” in reference to the bible study class and it was a Jonah moment of realizing that I was making a bigger mistake by keeping everyone at arms length so they couldn't see my weaknesses. Well here I am again, life has thrown some new curve balls and I am looking for some new answers. While working on my bible study, I had another “Jonah Moment!”

 Let's start with the last 2 weeks, Marty got a travel contract and started working nights again. He is back in pediatrics and working Congenital Heart Surgical Intensive Care unit (his real nursing love!) The kids and I are getting our act together with schedules and getting schoolwork done as well as spending time working with another friend that is home-schooled as well to do some group activities. We have got a garden started outside and seedlings growing inside. Life is beginning to feel back to normal. Yea, I spoke too soon!
The plan was, let Marty work the contract while we wait for his Texas nursing license comes through and continue to look for that permanent position in the mean time. The contract is through mid-May and could have a possibility of extending if needed. The pay is good and we have benefits starting soon. Then we got a letter last Saturday from Texas Board of Nursing, they want to transfer his application to another department for further review and he will not be allowed to work as a nurse in the state of Texas as a nurse starting the end of the current contract, until the other department is completed their review and he is issued a Texas license. They also state that the review will take a minimum of 4 months and could take longer than 4 months to complete. So, Marty can't take any permanent position in Texas and can't take an extension on the contract, at least not as a nurse.
So now what? The kids are planning on going to preteen camp with church this summer, Andy was just talking about Spinal Bifida camp this summer. We started the garden and have been making our plans for growing it. The kids have also made a good friend and enjoy spending time with him. We have a house full of furniture and appliances (some that we are still paying for) so what would we do with all of it?
What are our options? Well, Marty could take a travel contract out-of-state without us for 3 months, so the boys could attend their events and camps. During that time we can hope the license comes through but no guarantee it will and then what if it doesn't?? We could put things into storage and travel with him, boys would miss everything. Marty could find a job that doesn't require a license, few a far between and at a lower pay rate than RN. We could just sell off everything and hit the road again with no plans of returning?

So, let's talk about my “Jonah Moment”. This week was asking for my most wildest dreams, I was to think about my “divine interventions” of late, and come up with a dream that would be the most phenomenal outcome. Well, for me that is hard to do. I really don't have too many dreams. Yes I have, “It would be nice,” statements, but as for real dreams I don't have them. Long term plans- I don't make them. Our lives have been too “on the fly” for far too long, I have stopped dreaming big. So I sat there thinking, I even asked Marty- he couldn't answer either.
I finally wrote about what I would really want if I could have anything. “A home, truly our home with a yard and a garden, income- enough to meet our needs and more for our wants, extra to share and give without worry. A 2nd car and the 1st one to be in good repair.” That's it! I wish our car was fixed and we had a home of our own. I wish we had an income source that took care of us and wasn't going to disappear at the end of a contract or with a licensing agency delay. Seems too simple right?
Well then later in the same day's assignment, it covers simple obedience and talks about remembering people who made an impact in your life with their small ways of simple obedience. I thought of the older woman from our first church, she continued to come to church and share her love of God with all while fighting cancer, never loosing faith that God was in control of her outcome. And then there was Skip, he always has a smile on his face, it was only missing when something was gravely wrong. He had migraines that would sometimes remove that smile and he said he was showing God's love through his smile. Because of his smiling attitude, his coworkers threw him a “Roast” party, they told his wife that Skip was the only one they could do that for, no one else would be able to take the punches without hurt feelings.

Then the lesson asked me this question. “God can do beyond that which you can imagine as He uses your obedience as a foundation for what He is building. Consider this and record your thoughts.” Wow, after thinking about these 2 great people and their ability to show God's love at all times, how can I even ask for anything. Here is my response, a prayer.
“Lord, I know my dreams are not too big for You. But I also know that You have a plan for me, and my dreams may not match that plan. I don't want to ask for that dream because I don't believe my dreams are important. It's only Your plan that I live for. Amen.”
Now while this statement seems so selfless, it also became convicting. See, it's not just a measure to God that I feel my dreams are not important, I realized it's in general that I tend to believe my dreams or desires are not important. That I am not important. We all want to feel important, in some way. I want to feel important too, but I also feel that I don't deserve to feel important. That I am some how wrong in wanting to feel important. Crazy, but I think I am not alone. The biggest problem with thinking that way, it's like I am saying to God, “You were wrong! I am not worthy of anything. Stop saving me, because You made a mistake.” Now who is the one who is making the mistake? God doesn't make mistakes. Part of the week's study was talking about God changing His mind, not because He made a mistake. But because He has compassion and mercy for His children. It's because of His love for us that we know how to love. There is no greater love than the love that comes from our Father. He didn't create me to not deserve feelings of love or importance. I am correct in my thinking that I live to be used by God for His plan, but I also need to remember that it can include my own wants. He created me to have feelings and desires, He only asks that I be humble and obedient. 
It comes back to this, it's ok for me to want to feel important. I have to remind myself, I am important! While I may live for God's purpose, He wants to know my dreams. Who knows, He may use them for His purpose?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My struggle to find.. me while looking for God's direction!

So I have been taking a woman's bible study class at my church. It's called, “Jonah, Navigating a Life Interrupted” and as you can see from my posts, the last few months of my life have been interrupted! I knew all the right answers the first few days, but I wanted to find the answers I didn't already know. I looked and read, I studied my bible and the study guide, and I looked into myself to see what I was missing. I even continued to work my way through Experiencing God bible study hoping that between the 2, I would find the answers I was seeking.
What answers, you ask.... I wanted to know why the troubled times seem to bother me more this time than any of the past events.
Some of you know me and my family well enough to know what I'm talking about. Through my son's short life, he has racked up 14 surgeries and over 20 hospital stays. We were told he would never walk, or that he would have trouble walking even with assistance devices such as walkers or crutches, he walks and most folks don't realize there is anything wrong with him. Through most of these “events” I have never seemed to loose my cool. I have handled everything very calmly.
This time around, it has been different. During the hospital stay and first few weeks after, I didn't have any problems. But as the weeks went on, I seem to have my agitation grow. Yes, this time around it wasn't my son but my husband who's health had been the instigator. I still had faith that God was in control and knew that He was going to get us thru it all. But there was still a nagging feeling in the back of my mind, a bit of confusion and probably a bit of depression. I couldn't figure out what I was supposed to do about all the bills, about the job, how to take care of it all and meet the obligations. I didn't know how to talk to Marty about my feelings, for fear that would make him feel guilty. I felt a disconnect from him as his health had kept him from even being able to share our bed for over 2 months. On top of that I had to make sure my children didn't see anything but a strong parent so they wouldn't have any fears over everything.

Here are some notes I wrote in my study guide;
“Never let them see you sweat! I have a hard time letting others see me down. I have been trying to trust and lean on others. To give them the blessing of being helpful. It feels like a backfire. It feels like people see me as a “Needy, Whiner.” Before I was a “Strong woman,” “Nothing ever gets her down!” But maybe it was more of, “She's cold heart-ed. It Doesn't bother her!”

Confused is what I am and questioning my self worth, my self view and wondering if what I thought I was showing to everyone was what everyone was seeing.

Another note;
“I can't say that I ran. I can only say I have been confused lately. I am having trouble “hearing” God's directions. Somewhere I probably have “not obeyed” and maybe that's why my confusion continues.”
“I feel like I am missing something. I don't know what directive I am missing/ not following.”
“I question/ OVER-question my every decision.”

This last week, in the middle of the week I made a new discovery about myself. Maybe the direction I was looking for wasn't an directive of “Go” but a directive of “Stop!” See I have a control problem. I have been in control of everything around me, partly by my doing and partly by circumstance. With our traveling lifestyle, Marty left most things up to me to be in charge of. From that I took control of so much that it became a joke that all Marty had to do was the phone interviews for the jobs and show up to work when I told him to. But that “joke” should have been my clue. I was in control of too much.

I find myself now looking back and realizing that there is negative response that comes with control. I now can look and see the times that it bothered me when Marty wouldn't or couldn't tell me every detail of conversations or events of his day. Bad right? It wasn't born out of a want to control him, but a want to control the world around him. I'll say it again, I wanted to control the world around him. Now yes, that would control him to a point as well, if he didn't have access to sinful environment then I was controlling the chances of him sinning. But on the flip side, I began to need to control him and out of that became a mistrust of him. I began to look at everything he did, look for ways that he might be hiding something from me. See, I had lost control over the everyday things, so I needed to fill in that gap with another thing to control. I even began to think he was hiding something from me when he would get out of bed before me, like he's doing much between 6:30am and 7:30am when I got up!

Through the last few months the ability to control the finances have gone out the window. I lost that “fix” that became my addiction over the years. That addiction has turned me into an ugly person some days. I know that most people wouldn't call it an addiction, but to me it seems to be one.

You see if you look back to that 1st note, “Never let them see you sweat!” well that's a control as well. I had to control what everyone saw of me. I had to control my actions so that no one would know I hurt inside. That part of my control comes back to childhood pain. If I was strong enough, if no one could ever see me cry or break, then they maybe they would still be my friend in-spite of my fat and ugly body. Yes, my head says that is crazy.... but my heart has always felt it. My mom used to say to me, “You have to loose weight or no one will want to be your friend.” “It hurts me more than it hurts you to hear the kids call you names, so you have to loose weight.” And then at the dinner table my father would say, “You don't need to eat, you have enough fat to live off of for at least a week.” And my brother would join in. Eventually my brother and I had a discussion where he admitted that he thought I would loose the weight to shut them up. He knows that doesn't work. As for my folks, well I know they are never going to change, they are never going to apologize or even admit they ever said anything like that, so why bother even bringing it up. I let their hurts go a long time ago, it's the peers that I can't seem to let go of. You see, I never did have any friends that stuck around as a friend for very long. They only came around me when they needed something from me, so I never needed anything from them.

Wow, that's it. I never needed anything from them! I never let them see a need. I never let anyone see a need. I have only 1 person that I call best friend, she has been the only one to ever get close enough to knowing me that she knew, KNEW, when I was hurting. I didn't have to say anything, I didn't have to ask for anything, she knew the tricks I used to cover my feelings. And I feel so guilty for calling her, for dumping on her all my trouble. I feel guilty for letting her “see me sweat.” She was my friend in-spite of my hiding me.

So, the bible study has opened the door for me to look at myself more than my circumstance's. I think that's a big part of what it is supposed to be doing. Of course we still have a few more weeks and who knows how many more things I will learn about myself during that time.

Short, Sweet and to the Point Update!

I have been working on some other posts and I realize they are long ones that will not be posted for awhile. So I need to make some smaller posts in the mean time. Here is a quick run down of the last few weeks.
  • Short term disability insurance company sent a check (out of the blue) for a few more weeks worth of coverage! So the bills were paid in time. Praise the Lord!
  • Andy went through some testing and Doctors appointments, made some more appointments. All is good for now, just have to wait until after the end of March before we can start to put all the pieces together and get a better understanding of what is going on.
  • We were approved for food stamps and Medicaid came through.
  • Marty had 2 job interviews, 1 has already informed us he didn't get the job, the other- who knows?
  • Marty took a travel contract for the next 3 months, locally. That means, we have income that will start to come in the next 2 weeks and it should last for at-least 3 months.
  • I started taking a Woman’s bible study at church on Wednesday mornings and repeating the same class in the evenings. Yes, I am trying to focus myself that much!
  • Because of the class, the boys have made a stronger connection to another homeschool boy their age. I have grown closer to him and his grandmother. We now all spend Wednesday afternoons together working on some group teaching subjects.
  • The boys have had a sleep over and a field trip to Sea Life Aquarium with a fun side trip to Lego-Land Discovery Center.
  • The boys are working well on school work and Dad is the grader for all schoolwork, That means I just have to help with the work and fill in the grade-book with the final scores.
  • The taxes are done!!

There is probably more that I am missing, but this is a pretty close list to all that has been going on. Short, sweet and to the point. Hope you all are having a blessed day and month.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

What started this whole mess!!

Friday, October 11th, 2013 around 7:30pm our lives changed. We had started watching a movie as a family and had turned on the oven to preheat, we were going to have some frozen pizzas for dinner. Marty, my husband, was on the couch with our youngest and felt a discomfort in his right shoulder, so he decided to readjust his position. The next thing I knew, he was kneeling on the floor, gasping for air. After a few minutes of calming him down and trying to assess what was the cause of this and what “this” was, we all dressed and climbed into the car for a trip to the emergency room. I knew some of what was going on was a panic attack, which was in response to the not being able to breathe. OK, I get that part, but why was he having trouble breathing? Years earlier, around 12-15, Marty had a “BLEB” (bubble/blister of lung tissue, like a weak spot on a balloon or inner tube) pop on his lung that caused a pain similar to pulled muscle, just more intense. My first assumption this night was that was the case again, just the pain was making it difficult to breathe.
The car ride was difficult for him, the pain increased with the position in the car and vibrations of the road. We got to the Emergency room and they sprang to attention because he was having chest pain. We knew it was not heart related but they have to check that out first because of the possible complications. Again, fine let's go. So, they take him back and then ask me to fill out a slip of paper that just asks for his name and age. I sit with the kids in the waiting room and start trying to decide what to do with them. I made a call and got a church member to come get them. Got a chance to go back talk to Marty for a minute, tell him what the plans are for the kids and bring them back to see him for a minute before sending off.
All the immediate heart tests are negative and the staff have calmed down. Now we wait for a chest x-ray. The Doctor thinks he can go to x-ray, he seems healthy enough..... he's been given some pain killers and aspirin as well they had him on oxygen. Soon after getting back from x-ray the Doctor comes in to tell us, the lung is partially collapsed and it will require a chest tube to be inserted. He will also get an admission to the hospital as long as the chest tube is in. The chest tube will stay in maybe a day or 2 for the lung to heal up, the lung Surgeon will tell us more the next day. The process of getting information and then waiting for it to happen is frustrating. They give you the information, then take 1-2 hours to do the action. I got to sit/ stand in the room and watch the whole procedure, interesting and I'm not squeamish when it comes to other peoples blood, only my own. We then sit around waiting for another 1-2 hours before they come to take him to a room. We live only 10 minutes from the hospital, we entered the Emergency room before 8pm, yet it was going on 2am before he was settled in a room for the night.
I finally leave him settled in for the night and go pick up and kids. I then need to stop and get gas, find a drive thru for myself and get the boys home and to bed. Up the next morning and packing things for Marty, he's texting me a list and adding more! I get things loaded up and we're off to see him. He already has a visitor, another church member that I had called the night before, and seems to be doing well. They had taken him down for a CT scan of the chest and lungs, the lung Surgeon is supposed to be in later to talk. The boys take off with a church member to hang out with a friend and we continue to entertain visitors for church while waiting for the Surgeon.
Early afternoon, the Surgeon comes in. Yes, it's a BLEB that has popped and caused the hole in the lung. Bad news, the CT shows more that could cause more damage and he wants to do surgery to remove them. So, we now schedule surgery for Monday morning. They are going to remove these BLEBS and rough up the surface of the lung to make it stick better to the chest wall, this will help keep air out while it all heals. Think of 2 pieces of bread and spreading jelly on them, now stick them together so an air pocket can't form between them from the little holes in the bread. A new chest tube will be placed as well. After surgery he will be in ICU for at-least 1 day. Then it will be another 3-5 days in the hospital.
Wait, um did my world just stop spinning??? Yeap, life was just turned upside down. Marty, my rock, my dear husband who is almost always by my side is going to have a major surgery and be in the hospital.
No time to take that all in, at-least no time to let it slow me down. You see, I'm the one everyone depends on. I now need to go make the phone calls while Marty gets some rest. I have to find some lunch, it's almost 2:30 and the cafeteria closes for the day at 2:30. I grab a quick bite, no phone signal so can't make calls yet, so I rush myself. Then outside to call my mom, his mom and his sister. Give the church secretary a call so she can pass the word around there.
Back in to check on him and think about what to do with the kids. What is the polite amount of time to leave your kids with friends without over stepping? What's the best way to ask if someone will help by taking them for a few hours? Are they really willing to keep them longer or are they just saying it to be nice and should I know that? On top of that, I keep thinking of how strong I need to show I am for the kids. If I freak out, the kids will not handle this as well, they need a strong parent to feel safe and protected. I also am the person that never lets anyone see me break. (More on that in a different post!)
I go pick up and kids and grab some dinner. We take it back to the hospital room to have dinner as a family. We all watch some TV with Dad, like most nights, then head for home around 9pm. The next morning, the boys get a ride to church and I am to go have church with Marty, we're going to watch a sermon online. Andy forgets his bag of supplies, the boys are going to spend the afternoon with another church friend, so I now have to run by the church. Of course most folks who see me want to know how things are and whats going on, I talk for a few and get going to the hospital. We have a calm day and I again head out to get the kids and dinner, only to find they are still out eating a late lunch with friends and we make arrangements for someone else to drop them off at the hospital later. So I grab dinner for just the 2 of us and spend some more time alone with my husband. I haven't had this much time alone with him in years! The kids arrive via church visitors and again we leave around 9pm.
Monday morning arrives early, we are up and at the hospital by 6:15am. Our deacon and youth/children's pastor arrive in time visit and pray before we all to head down to pre-op. The boys and deacon to the waiting room, pastor and I with Marty. Short wait time, all the pre-op questions and last check in with the surgeon, it's now time for a last prayer before he goes into the Operating room. Now we head back out to join the rest in the waiting room. We all head down and get some breakfast. Then back to the waiting room. The surgery takes about 2 hours and the Surgeon comes out afterwards to give me a short consult. “It's done, he's doing good. They've got him in recovery and soon he'll be moved to ICU. They'll let you know when you can see him.” And that's about it. This Surgeon is a man of few words, really!
The boys and I were supposed to go to a Pumpkin farm with friends from church but it's rainy and cold out. I call them, the kids can just stay in and play together for the day. So I send the boys off with the pastor, he'll drop them off, and continue to wait for Marty to get out of surgery with our deacon. BTW, our deacon is great and we love him like an uncle. He also co-teaches the boys Sunday School class, so they know him well too!
While the surgery takes about 2 hours, the recovery and moving to the ICU, took another 2 hours! I send our deacon off after we finally get to see Marty. I then go grab lunch and make the phone calls. Marty's parents and sister are going to fly down the next day and stay through Friday. They are going to stay in a hotel, so I don't have to worry about the house being clean. I still have to make all the update calls to them and the rest. I also need to find out what time to go get the kids and what/where everyone was eating for dinner. “Some laundry needs to be done,” that thought flashes through my head as I am dialing the phone, along with the rest of the list that never seems to end.
Tuesday dawns and we again head for the hospital. Today we have brought along things to do because we are planning on staying all day, no going to visit friends. Besides, family is coming. It's a long day, they move Marty out of ICU to a regular room in the late morning, his family sends text messages to let us know they have landed and are dealing with getting a rental car, going to check in to the hotel and grab some food before coming to the hospital. They don't get there until almost 4pm. We all visit for the next 2 hours. They are tired and hungry so they head off before valet parking closes at 6pm. I run out and grab some dinner for us, then the boys and I go home for the night. Wednesday brings more of the same except the family take the boys down for a late breakfast, then they go back to the hotel for lunch and a nap. The Surgeon comes in and removes the chest tube. Marty's level of discomfort seems to be related to the pressure of the tube stuck in his side??? I guess that might be uncomfortable! His family gets back later as the boys and I are heading out for dinner at church.
Thursday brings a new day. Marty has been trying to prove he's well enough for a discharge. See, he has been on the Pastor search committee at church and there is a special meeting that Thursday evening in regards to that search. Once Marty's family arrives and the talk turns to this subject, it begins to spark disagreement. Comments are made that are not polite, some tears are shed and his family steps out for a moment. I make plans to leave, I don't want to continue this and cause any more issues. They step back in and ask to take the boys out for lunch and shopping. Off they all go. The conversation continues, just now through the phone and text messaging between Marty and his family.
Marty also does get the discharge order. But can't seem to find a supplier to get the walker to the hospital. We finally agree to have it delivered to the house and get out!! Drop off the prescriptions on the way home. Get him settled and the walker arrives! Then off to pick up the medications, pain level is high from the travel home. I'm back home in a flash with the medications, he is relaxed. The boys will be returned around 5:30pm, we need to leave around 6pm for the meeting. We're cutting it close but we make it. It's a great evening and Marty is happy.
That night we manage to get him up the stairs to the bedroom. After packing in the pillows around him to make him comfortable, I'm left with a limited space to sleep. Neither of us gets much rest. The next morning I get him settled downstairs and he tells me that his family is coming for brunch, he told them I would cook it! I panic for a minute and then start planning. Pancakes- got enough supplies, little bite-size sausages- got enough those. The the boys decide they want waffles! Ok, still can do. So, got the brunch stated and had a great time. They had a plane to catch so, off they went.
Marty needed a nap, he had decided that he was not going upstairs anymore, so the couch was made comfy for him. I took the boys and went to the pumpkin patch, we did the trip in under 2 hours since I didn't want to leave Marty alone too long. Made dinner that night and started our new lives of Marty's recovery. It was slow going, and he good days and bad. We never seem to leave the house except to take him to a doctor's appointment or church.
Andy had an appointment 2 weeks later at Scottish Rite, it didn't go as planned. It was with Neurosurgery, a Doctor I had never met before but the previous Dr. had left the practice and I didn't care for him anyway. This doctor decided to “tap” Andy's shunt, stick a needle in the reservoir for drawing cultures or checking pressure levels. He didn't like the pressure level, so he wanted us to go to the hospital and get further evaluation and testing done. That is another story, but we ended up staying in the hospital for 2 nights that we didn't need to! In the mean time, I got Ryan doing the cooking and feeding of his dad. Folks from church were great and offered to take Ryan, but he was needed to take care of Marty who couldn't stand long enough to cook, yet.
So we got to talking about how between Marty's hospital bills and now Andy's, our out-of-pocket maximums would now be met and that hernia that he had been dealing with for the last couple of years should be addressed. He was already on short term disability and this way he wouldn't have another stretch of missed work. So we talked with the lung surgeon and got the go ahead from him. Met the general surgeon and scheduled the surgery, 2 weeks after Andy's hospital stay. It was supposed to be a spinal block with a little sleep juice, no full anesthesia, and day surgery. Ended up with the spinal taking longer to wear off and pain that was difficult to control that first night, so he spent the night.
So now I have had one of my guys in the hospital every other Friday night over the last 4 weeks. I'm ready for a break at this point. We make it through the next 3 weeks and break the streak. Marty is now focused on his hernia recovery and the lung recovery is almost complete. In the mean time, the short term disability insurance has only been covering about ½ of his normal wages since we have to pay his employer for our portion of the health insurance. Now the insurance company has decided that Marty should be recovered enough to return to work, unless he has the Surgeon fill out a form. We take it to the Surgeon, he fills it out, we fax it in. Then we wait. About 1 week goes by and we receive a check with a note, “It has been calculated that you should be able to return to work on Dec 20th. This is the wages for the Dates of November 28th through December 19th. Your case has now been closed and should your situation change, please contact us.” That's it! BTW, the form the Doc filled out, “Estimate date return to work- January 15th.” The letter stating the same came 2 days later with an added line that they would require addition statements from a Doctor if we disagree with their decision. “A note from a Doctor would not be enough proof.” So starts the phone calls, they keep asking for more notes from the doctor's office, they keep sending it to them. So far, I guess the doctor didn't write enough notes to satisfy them. We even got copies of all the records and faxed them in ourselves since they said they didn't get them all. Since faxing in the records, we have heard nothing.
Marty's side a week after the lung surgery.
The other hat that dropped during this whole adventure, Marty's employer informed him that he needed to get his Texas nursing license. Now, we knew that it was needed and dropped the ball on that before all this happened. At the same time, he is completely legal to work under his North Carolina license which is still good until October of 2014. So we start working on it, they then make it clear he can not return to work until he receives the license. That is a problem. The Texas board of nursing can be very slow at issuing the licenses. We sent the paperwork and the fee in November. They cashed the check and sent an email, they had changed the application and he needed to fill out the new one and mail it in. BTW the old form had the wrong fee, we had over paid by $20 but they have a no refund policy! He does that, and nothing. As time gets closer to him returning to work, he sends an email back and gets an automated response, “out of office until January 6th.”
Because of the disability insurance no longer paying, we push up the Doctors appointment and ask for a release to work. He gets a release back to work for January 7th, just 2 months after having the hernia repair and 3 months after having lung surgery. So he takes the release and copies of the email into work on Fri before the 7th, “Anything else I can do, is this enough proof that the Texas license is coming?” Everything looks good and it's all accepted. He meets with his direct supervisor and plan his schedule. Then Monday the 6th arrives with a phone call, “We've changed our mind. You need the full license. You can not return to work.” So, they have changed their mind. Then on Tuesday, they call and tell him that they have decided to give his position away, but they will find a position for him when he returns. Ok, still a chance to return to work, but maybe time to start looking for a new job. Maybe one that respects their employees and understands when health problems arise out of the blue?
  The latest, we received a certified letter from them. “Since you did not get your Texas license, we are going to accept that as your resignation. We are terminating your employment as of January 20th, 2014 and any benefits you have, i.e. health insurance, will end January 31st, 2014. You'll be receiving COBRA information in the mail at a later date.” Again, UMMM WHAT???? So, now because the nursing board hasn't issued the license, he quit? Yet, “We are terminating....” says, they decided. While we already got the idea that he needed to look for another job, we thought we still had a chance if the license came through before another job did.
Now it is late January and the bills are piling up. I have started to ask others for help.... big stretch for me. We are surviving, but I have applied and are now receiving food stamps to help. Not sure where we stand on receiving Medicaid yet, but it's also been applied for. Was told that are car (only 1 car for the family) is worth too much money to qualify for the “traditional” assistance funds. There are some hoops I go jump through to fight that, but is it worth it? Marty has been filling out applications everywhere, and had 1 interview and couple of phone calls, another interview is scheduled for next week. We'll see how it all works out.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It's a LONG story!!

So, it's been awhile since I've done a blog post. It's been over 3 long months. The last time a post went up, it was a series of scheduled pre-written posts. During the time those posts were going up, our life was going down! 

It's a LONG STORY, one of those- "Been There, Done That, Got the T-Shirt to Prove It" types of story's. I am working on a series of LONG posts to help catch you up. The first one is almost ready, may even be later today or 1st thing tomorrow.

After I get you all caught up, I am working on writing a series about our life events from the past. I have had so much going on, that I started to reflect at how I have handled past issues compared with how I am handling the current ones. I need to write it all out, so I can reflect better and get a grip.  

I know that we have not had a life that came anywhere close to be called “normal” but maybe I can share some insight that can help someone else on down the road. So bear with me, as my posts may start to seem like a big pity party. I am not meaning for it to make you feel bad for me, I am just being truthful to you and myself. Every detail counts as a possible learning experience, so if I leave any out, then I am not telling the whole truth. That's my promise to you and to myself!