Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Comes to a Close

What a many changes, so much progress, so many setbacks, and so much growth. I'm still awaiting the posting of final grades for this semester...I know I have 4 As so far...I think I have 5, but I'm not sure. I guess I'll know on Monday.

It's been a year full of love, loss, growth, challenge, and courage. My life is good...I don't know exactly where I will be in a year or two, but I know that as of right now? I'm heading in the right direction. And I am incredibly blessed with the love and generosity and support of friends and family.

I will always grapple with some things...past, present, and future...nature of the beast I suppose. I couldn't really ask for more than what I already have, though. So if 2011 brings more of the same, we'll get through and grow and thrive...because that's what we do, and who we are.

Happy new year all!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Sweet and Innocent Heartache of a Boy

Friday night, as Zachary and I were hanging out together and watching a movie, he says to me “Mom, do you WANT a husband?” I looked at him and asked him “what makes you wonder about that?” His response was “well, I just wish I had a dad who acted like a dad. I want a dad who trusts me.”

Zachary and his dad have had pretty consistent (but minimal) contact until last March. For years, Zachary protested going to his dad’s, and I encouraged him and reminded him that time with his father and siblings is important. The conflict between Z’s dad and me usually stemmed from me wanting him to be more involved in Z’s life, take a more active role, and at least spend some quality time interacting with him when he is there. For the longest time, it was basically one 8-hour period twice a month that they saw each other. And there are many other children in the mix during that time, so individual attention doesn’t really happen. Communicating with Z’s dad about Z’s feelings, experiences, etc., more often than not, was met with defensiveness. And for this past year or so, resulted in emails to me calling me crazy, a nut case, telling me sarcastically what a stellar job I was doing parenting Zachary. The anger that his dad has towards me seemed to overshadow any real concern/regard for what is best for Zachary and how to accomplish that (not fight with me).

So, when there was a significant issue this past March that resulted in an email attack on me, I said enough is enough. I let Z’s dad know that if Zachary wanted to see him, talk to him, I would wholly support that. But if Zachary chose not to go for parenting time, I would no longer force him to go. For a few more weeks, the drama continued when his dad would email me and ask if Z wanted to come that weekend. The first time I was asked to ask Z, I did. And Z was adamant that he didn’t want to go and would not be changing his mind. The second time the email request came to me, I told his dad that he really needed to call his son and talk to him directly about it. That, of course, resulted in another mud-slinging fest. He did call Zachary twice after that, and they had a short conversation.

That was back in April. Zachary has heard nothing from his dad since then. I’ve asked him if he wants to call his dad, talk to him, see him, that he can do that at any time. He’s really, really adamant that he doesn’t want that. He does say he misses his sister, and I told him that he could see her, talk to her at dad's…of course I’ve also told him he can have contact her regardless of that. He said it wasn’t worth going to his dad’s just to see her because he didn’t want to see anyone else. Ouch.

So, back to Friday night and Zachary asking if I want a husband makes all of this come back to me. I feel like a failure at relationships, and while that’s hard enough on me, it’s even harder on this little boy that I love dearly. He deserves to have a dad who acts like a dad. Who doesn't call him a liar. I know if it were my child who basically said he didn’t want to see me? I’d be telling myself “wow, I need to do something to make this better…I want to have a relationship with my son…how do I fix this?” And I’d make an effort. That isn’t happening and there isn’t really a damn thing I can do about it that I haven’t tried doing for the past 10 years already.

Do I find someone to be with, who is good to me, good to Zachary, just so that he has what he needs? Even if it means that I don’t have passion for the person? That I love him but am not in love with him? I don’t know…I really just don’t know…I know that my heart tells me never to settle…but is that selfish of me?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Brain Overload

Clearly, I need to write more. If my FB status updates can't accommodate my thought process? I guess I should be writing here...if for no one else but myself, right?

Life is crazy, awesome, exhausting, great. I love school...I'm nuts with studying, helping my son with homework, trying to balance time with my studies with time with life, well, I don't really have one, unless you count last weekend when I saw my brother, sister-in-law and friend for the first time since the summer, and hung out with a few other friends I haven't spent any time with in months. This weekend will be Halloween, and though we'd hoped to attend a party on Saturday, I have too much studying/work to do to attend both the party and take a few hours out on Sunday to take Z trick or treating. Did I mention that he pretty much hates me these days because all I ever do (in his mind) is study? Last night he told me that he liked it better before I was going to college because we had more time together. I reminded him that the truth is, I have more time with him now, I'm home with him more now, but the time that I'm home is often side by side, quietly spent while I study and he does something else. It's time together, but it's not at his beck and call. He's struggling with this.

There are many ploys for attention...the homework that can't be finished...the meltdowns...the brief running away he did (for 5 minutes) that he thought would "break me" and get me to allow him to watch TV/play on the computer when he hadn't yet finished a homework assignment. If nothing else, he's learning what studying hard means. And can I just say? I'm pretty happy with how I'm doing. I'm averaging A's in all of my's a full load of 5 classes, 14 credits (it really feels like it should be more than that, lol). Anyway, I love's amazing, it's fascinating, thought-provoking and humbling.

Every Thursday is our Clinical day, and so I sometimes see Melinda (my dietitian) in the cafeteria as I did today. And it was today, as we were doing our assessments and billing for our patients that I actually discussed with Len and two of the other RTs (as well as my other other clinical cohorts, who already know) about my gastric bypass surgery. And there were a lot of questions...Len couldn't believe I used to be heavy. I guess I'll have to show him a picture at some point. I kind of smiled as they asked how long ago was my surgery and I told them 3.5 years. I also told them that I am at least 30 lbs. up from my lowest...and all anyone could say was "yeah, but how much better are you off now??? and those BMI charts aren't realistic." I don't hide my surgery...but I don't flaunt it either. You know, Union Hospital is closely affiliated with NSMC, where I had my bypass surgery. I don't think they really have any idea yet just how much their hospital group made a difference in my life. I guess they'll find out, won't they?

Did I mention that I'm averaging all A's in my classes? I'm planning to apply to the Honors Program after this semester. And maybe, if I'm lucky? That will mean I can apply for some scholarships for next year and owe a little less money. Good plan, right? I think so.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What A Day

I spent most of today in class, and then off to the orthopedist to get direction on how to manage a stress fracture I have as a result of the triathlon in August. I'll be in a walking boot for the next month or so, and having physical therapy two times a week for the next however long, and we'll take it from there. No running until a month from now at least. But, he said I'll probably be able to run again, but I won't be running any, we'll see what lies ahead there.

This afternoon, after my appointment, I headed over to Brooksby Farm to have dinner with many folks who have been an integral part of my WLS journey. There was video filming and photographs involved. It was a fairly tiring end to a long day...but I felt energized to sit and talk with my fellow WLS cohorts...friends, surgeons, dietitian, psychologist, with whom I had a really nice conversation about psych evals and what people expect and share and the outcome...was hugged by many a person who made me feel pretty damn warm and fuzzy about my journey. Sandy Skinner, Melinda Vaturro (who always inspires me), Annie Donovaro (who is my buddy, now and forever), Dr. B. who is just "real" and kind and warm and well, just awesome...and Jean Graham, to finally meet...several years she's read what I read...and it warms my heart to know she actually follows some of the ins and outs of my life.

These people haven't just helped me make decisions regarding my healthcare...they've helped me find me. They have illuminated the way for my future. I told Dr. Garrity tonight that my WLS didn't change who I am, it just gave me the confidence to be MORE me openly and stop hiding so much. And when we dare to be ourselves? Truly? Wholly? Anything can be. Believe it. Embrace it. Really, it is all good. Trust me on this.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Returning to School

I'm feeling quite terrified about school, finances. Everything is done except for purchasing my books. I've done all the leg work, met all the pre-reqs. I never went to college full time. I was always working full time and attending school part-time...NYU and then Norwalk Community Technical College, both for nursing. And while I wouldn't say I bombed completely, I certainly didn't have great semesters all the time. Hell, even high school had some really, really low (and high) points. Some semesters were much, much better than others. And I've had the thought of "screw it, forget about school, just find yourself another job to make ends meet." But I know I won't be happy doing that.

I've made as many plans as I can for my son after school for the times I won't be here, and I'll be having to trust him to take a lot more responsibility for himself. That scares the absolute crap out of me. I know he can handle it...he's a good kid...but I'm torn with thinking that he's too young to have to handle it. That probably sounds mamby pamby, but he'll grow up soon enough. I think at times he borders on the spoiled, and that's my own fault though I'm trying to remedy that. Some things he lacks, that every child should have...and some things, he probably has in excess, more than any child needs. How do people who have raised productive, healthy, grown kids do that?

Part of my reason for wanting to change careers, aside from having wanted to pursue nursing long ago when I was a young adult is that it offers the flexibility for where I live, work, and the hours I work. Those things will be a lot more amenable to being available to my child and making ends meet. As Zachary gets older, the greater the outside influences are on him. All very normal...but I expect to be aware of them, to guide him when he needs it, and let him learn from his own mistakes (without totally effing up his life, lord knows we're all perfectly capable of doing that as adults without much assistance).

I guess I'm just rambling...I don't know how parents make it to the "finish line" with "good" kids who grown into good adults (that have always been good people)...I want mine to be one and mostly, I feel inept to manage my own life, let alone be responsible for the development of another's. There really is just a lot of crap in the world...staying focused on the good stuff? It's hard...I don't mean to sound like I'm whining...I guess I just think much too much. This isn't news to you though, if you've learned anything about me in the past few years, eh?

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Morning After

Yesterday was the Witch City Triathlon. It was the first triathlon that I've ever participated in...and completed. If anyone had told me 3.5 years ago that I'd be competing in and completing a triathlon, I'd have thought they were crazy. Yet yesterday I did just that.

A few things about the "journey" of training were challenging, interesting, awesome, amazing. When I started the Cardiac Risk Reduction Program at NSMC back in March 2007, I met Brandi Dion of B&S Fitness Programs. She was the person who was mentoring/training our group in the physical fitness/exercise portion of the program. I remember thinking "wow...if I could be more like her..." And she talked about triathlons and her fitness company with her husband, Steve. Fast forward to 2010, and it's the BNS Fitness 12 week triathlon training program that I chose and participated in to prepare. And prepare us they did...coached, supported, encouraged, heard our fears and helped us work through them. And during a couple of our open water swims at Devereux Beach, I saw Heidi Rubin, who was our nurse during the Cardiac Risk Reduction Program. And Melinda Vaturro, who is still my dietitian, well, I got to hear about her goal of completing an IronMan...which by the way, she did the end of July in Lake Placid, NY. These are people who don't just talk the talk, they walk the walk. It's inspiring and affirming of the choices I make every day.

I'm struggling with my's fairly stable now, but about 25 to 30 lbs. above my lowest post-op weight. I'm trying to be kind to myself and remember where I was, and that even if I'm heavier than I'd like to be, I'm still active and healthy and living my life...and every day I continue to work on the goals to improve and keep/attain greater success.

Brandi sent us email before the race about mental preparation. Visualizing the perfect race, and the "oh shit!" race where stuff goes wrong. I did both...and then I prayed the night before and the morning of for a safe and fun race. And you know what? I got it. It was awesome. My ankle rolled just past the halfway point of the run...I was down for a few minutes and not even sure I could stand for a few minutes. But eventually, I got up and started hobbling...and eventually, thanks to endorphins and adrenalin, resumed my run and finished my race strong. I can't walk today...I still have no idea how I finished running, but I did...I finished strong with a sprint. And my friend Lea, who signed on to do this with me back in March, finished as well...we ROCK! This is my ankle this morning, the day after.

I finished 180th overall (out of 201 participants)...6th in my age group. My swim time was 15:43 (4th in my age category); T1 4:02; Bike time 50:55 (6th in my age category); T2 2:13; Run time 31:56 (8th in my age category). Total race time 1:44:51. I'm happy with that. :-)

This is Lea and me before getting completely suited up for the swim.

On the beach and ready to go.

And the ladies swim is underway.

Out of the water and heading for transition to bike.

Me heading out on the bike.

In from the ride.

Heading out for my run.

Almost to the finish line!

And this is our group that trained together after we all completed the race.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hello...It's Been A While

It's been a long, long while I guess since I've written anything here. I was laid off from my job in early May, triathlon training started literally 5 days after that, and I set the wheels in motion to start pursuing my dream of returning to school. The first month to 6 weeks after being laid off was a huge flurry of activity. Studying, getting paperwork together, figuring out finances, training. I'm honestly not sure how I'd have done all of the training that we started off with if I hadn't been laid off.

After getting all the school stuff mostly set (I still have to get started on my Hep B immunizations, the first of three is tomorrow, and I still have one class to take to get my professional rescuer basic life support training in before I can start my clinicals with September classes). Oh, I guess I didn't mention that I'm getting out of technology and going into health care. Many moons ago, I was a nursing student...but I never finished. All of the nursing programs were filled for the fall, so I evaluated my other options. And after much consideration, I decided to pursue respiratory therapy. As such, come September 8th, I will be a full-time respiratory care student. It will take two years to complete. How will I financially get through those two years, or at least the second year, has yet to be seen. My mantra these days is "whatever happens, I'll deal with it." And I trust that I will...though I don't always know how, I know that come hell or high water, somehow I get through. Always have, always will. I'm competent that of the few ways in which I feel competent most of the time.

I'm struggling with flare-ups of my depression. We're working on medication changes to help, but so far they either make me hyper or fatigued and lacking in motivation, with no real appreciable effect on my weepiness which comes in waves. My dreams are still a chronic issue, and I'm quite frankly tired of remembering them.

Training for a triathlon (the Witch City Tri, August 8th, 2010 is the one I'm doing) is this weird kind of experience it seems. It starts with great enthusiasm, followed by great self-doubt, and eventually, a desire to just be done already...and if you're lucky? Another surge in motivation just before. I'm personally hoping for that last surge as I'm floundering with three weeks to go. I questioned this past week if I'd be able to even keep going because I was slacking so much. I nixed the medication I had been taking for 10 days as a result. It was clearly not helping...and so, on Tuesday when I see the doctor again, we'll be back to the drawing board.

In addition to what I guess are "normal" ebbs and flows with training, a few other incidents have caused me to have increased fears. Open water swims were the first challenge for me. I felt disoriented, nauseas, fatigued, and panicked. After some thought/introspection, I realized that the panic I felt was identical to that which I felt when I was 9 years old and almost drowned in Lake Michigan. Ok, awareness helped tremendously and so the next swims were much improved. I'm still learning what does and doesn't help me in the water, and I now feel confident that I can get through it. There was also a gentleman who drowned in the swim portion of a triathlon that same day. It added to the fear. Then, at the Nahant Mini Tri, Michelle (our swim coach) had a collision with an SUV that left me fairly traumatized. I didn't ride my bike for a little over two weeks (until yesterday). The fear of something happening to me, who will take care of my child, well, it just started getting the better of me.

I'm so incredibly grateful for the tremendously supportive network of friends and coaches I have. One of our coaches for the triathlon training is Brandi Dion...who I met through the Cardiac Risk Reduction Program that I was mandated to attend at NSMC before my surgery. In the course of our training, I've seen Heidi Rubin (who was my nurse for that program as well), heard about Melinda Vaturro's fitness goals, and basically realized that all the people I've worked with, live what they teach. Their day-to-day lives embrace the very things they teach to their patients. That was incredibly validating as a life experience to me.

I'm struggling with food, weight regain, etc. I'm still fit. But, I'm also about 30 lbs. up (at least weight check, I'm afraid to get on the scale right now) from my lowest weight. And it's disheartening. I have to repeatedly remind myself of where I am compared to where I was...but it still just isn't good enough. I want to be where I was...and something is making my evening eating patterns really hard to manage. But, so far, despite all the signs at various times that I might just quit, I haven't yet. I still food journal. I still struggle. Guess I always will.

So, more to of tri day, I'm sure. :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What A Week

Talk about feeling the gamut of emotions. I've been hyper, optimistic, elated, sad, numb, lonely, depressed, name it, I've felt it. I spent last week in a flurry of activity. Unemployment, school, triathlon training beginning, and a road trip to visit with friends. This week has been more of settling into my reality. Studying for my TEAS exam (on May 24th), actually beginning training sessions, sitting down with Tammy and figuring out "the plan" financially, and working on things I need to get in order for that. I still need to do research on grants and scholarships for school.

I feel good being a very active participant in making my future what I want it to be...but I have my moments of doubt and fear that it's realistic. The self-talk to pull myself out of those moments before I start to dwell is rampant...much better than the alternative. But yesterday, well, at least half of my day was just overwhelming to me emotionally. Baggage from the past gets stirred up by circumstances of the present. Without dealing with it, it just continues to weigh upon me and increases my doubt and negativity.

Over the past several years since my mom died, my brother and I have become much closer. It's taken a tremendous amount of effort on his part to earn my trust, admittedly. There's a lot of history there, and some of it we talk about. Yesterday, we talked about our shared history with our parents/family. I have therapy today, which is will give me an opportunity to process all that we talked about. One thing he said to me yesterday, that kind of took me by surprise, was that he only dealt with the harshness of one parent, our mom; I got it from both parents, and so it's no wonder really that I grew up to feel like no one in this world is ever going to actually love me unconditionally. Neither of the two people that we expect to do this for us growing up, did this for me. We were both neglected and abused...I just never really made the connection that it was different for us as kids...that one of us got more of it than the other, until yesterday.

I've doubted many of my own memories over the years. Wondered if I remembered things correctly, if I was exaggerating things in my mind. Every now and then, I get a nugget of validation from someone in my life who witnessed it all, experienced it along with me, even if only in seeing it from afar. They validate me...they assure me, it was real. I have tears in my eyes remembering what my brother told me yesterday. It is going to take a very, very special man to appreciate the woman that I am and all I have to offer. Maybe someday I will actually believe that in my heart. Until that day, I'm grateful for people who believe in me on my behalf.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Re-Inventing Me

Every single day, we have the opportunity to repeat what we did the day before that worked well, and change what we did that didn't work out as we'd like. Every single aspect of our life...our food, our weight, our exercise habits, our talk to ourselves and others, our thoughts, our jobs, our attitudes on life, love, sex, everything. Each day we awake, we have the opportunity to re-invent who we are and become closer to that person we want to be.

Tomorrow, I will be laid off for the first time ever in my life. I'm almost 42 years old and I've never been fired of laid off before. There is a part of me that is sad and questioning what I did with the past 20+ years of my life. But, I'm taking advantage of this change and switching careers. I'm getting out of technology. I plan to return to school and eventually work in a field that, to me, has profound meaning in my life by helping others to live and breathe. I'm getting into health care. I'm trying not to mope, be sad or stagnate about the stunned loss I'm about to experience in employment. And instead, turn my lemons into lemonade.

What situation in your life can you turn around your perspective on? I challenge you to try and see things differently...more a new door opening instead of one just closing. I know it's cliche, but alas, it still has value.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Time to Kick Some Butt

My own, that is. It's been a while since I've written...for many, many reasons. The holiday season was very busy with family, friends, and travel. Now that things are a bit more settled, it's probably good for me to write about some of it...been thinking about writing for a while but well, some of what's been going on is really a struggle for me and "talking" about it publicly, well, even more difficult.

Along with the holidays came extra food, not great food choices all the time, and plenty of alcohol...along with lack of regular exercise. There have been so many stresses lately as well. Continued layoffs and restructuring/reorganization at work, uncertainty of my future here, issues with parenting and co-parenting, loneliness...and how to cope with all of it.

I'm handling things but admittedly, at the end of the day, when the child is in bed, it's a bit overwhelming if I think about it all...and so, I've needed some distance from the emotions. It's impossible to shut them off, but I've definitely found that a drink (or two, or three, or four) can definitely blunt their impact on me and make them more tolerable. Not a good habit to get into, for so many reasons. And I'm up about 15 lbs. from where I'd like to be.

I've discussed the alcohol and food consumption in counseling, with my PCP and with Pat...and I see Melinda this week. Do I need substance abuse counseling? No, I don't think so...but I do think I need to get a grip and regain the consistency of good habits I've had before now. So, I've been honest with all of my medical professionals, friends, supports...and I'm trying to regain some balance...with food, with alcohol, with exercise. I have a triathlon to train for. I cannot return to where I's simply not an option.

My clothes aren't fitting as they should. I do not feel good about my body. I am not taking care of my body the way I should be. So I'm reminding myself why it is I had this I would live to see my son grow up...raise him. I need to hold onto that...remember it...and tackle the tasks that lead to that goal one by one. And tomorrow night, Martha and I will attend the celebration for being 2009 Road Race Series Finishers...maybe that will help my motivation...remembering the goal we accomplished together.

The reason I do this...all of this beautiful little boy. This picture was taken on Christmas Eve Day, in North Carolina while we were visiting with friends for the holidays. He's the best.