Happy Birthday Dad


Today would have been my dad’s 82nd birthday. I still can’t believe he isn’t alive. He planned on living a long time. He never would have been ready to go I don’t think. In a way I’m glad his death was fast and he didn’t see it coming. Here then gone. 

I miss my dad and have grieved him plenty over this last tough year. I sometimes felt that I didn’t know how to navigate with him gone. It’s that loss of connection that leaves a hole.  That person I have never not known isn’t existent on this planet anymore. It’s still sometimes throws me for a loop. 

I think I’m to a point where I can sort through some of the boxes I was sent by my brother who went through his effects (aka stuff) and sent me things he thought I might want. That includes many photos. I have purchased albums for them and may sort through them in the fall. Some of his clothing was used to cushion the boxes and that was the hardest thing for me to deal with when I first opened the boxes. I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet. 

Grief needs to be felt in order to move on I think. I don’t enjoy it. I lost three people who were very important to me in a short time. It’s been rocky. But I see that the only healthy way is to trudge through it. But we all deal with grief in our own way. We let a little in at a time. Otherwise it’s like a landslide that can knock us over and cover us and keep us from moving at all. 

I think when we lose someone we feel like we are the only ones who feel that loss. It’s because grief is a personal thing. It’s lonely.  We can talk out our feelings some and sit with others feeling the loss as welll but -for me at least -grief is deeply personal. Some days it’s lonely. But with my dad’s loss I’m processing it and I’m moving forward. 

In a tough year I have been blessed as well. I went from needing to be in bed bc of severe chronic pain to being able to move again. That thanks to a surgeon who listened and cared. I’ve been able to buy a beach house for my family. That thanks to my brother who agreed to buy me out of my dads Florida condo (and it is on Marco Island and it did survive Hurricane Irma ). My kids are doing pretty well. All working and one in community college and the other two getting ready to apply. Things are good. 

Amidst grief and loss there is so much sadness but there is joy. Lately I’ve struggled some with my feelings about many things and I’ve gone to see a threpist that I really like. This a safe place where I can open up about conflicted feelings and just vent about the last four years and get it all out. It’s a process. 

I’m sitting on the beach as I wrote this.  Something my dad would have done today I’m sure. I’m looking at the Atlantic and he likely would have been looking at the Gulf of Mexico. But we both shared a huge love of the beach. 

I think about the up and downs of our relationship and the hurts. It was quite a ride. You always want your dad to get you and if doesn’t get you then he supports your dreams. My dad didn’t always get me. I think it was easier with him to relate to guys. He was a guys guy. 

When I began my love of baseball we had lots of conversations about our teams. It was a way to bond more with him. I’m glad for that added bonus of baseball becoming my go to sport. It helped when conversations became awkward or tense. 

I began the process of forgiving my dad years ago. We were always waxing and waning. I always wanted him to just see me for me. And maybe finally he did. 

He became enamored with my photography a couple years ago after I gave him a canvas of a little mountain called Sugarloaf that was near our home in Maryland. We hiked there a few times. I think he even went there alone sometimes. I’m so glad he thought I had talent. No matter your age most of us want our parents to be proud of us. 

There are many things about my dad I don’t know. He struggled with alcohol use and it seemed he was happiest when he was buzzed. Well maybe we all are. But he loved his alcohol too much and he would never admit that it had a hold on him and as he got older I decided maybe it didn’t really matter. Let him just have fun. 

And he did have fun. He had friends and he travelled. I’m so glad for that. He even married his long time love a few years ago. That didn’t end well and it’s not a story I choose to tell now. 

My dad is buried about 45 minutes from my home. In a Catholic cemetery- next to his second wife Jean.   She passed away from Cancer in 1994 at the age of 51. His first wife is my mom. She lives with me now. He definitely wanted to have a partner. I’m not sure he ever mastered being a great husband but I know he loved all of his spouses. I’ve found my dad loved people the best way he knew how. Don’t we all try to love the best way we know how? I think it’s never perfect because we aren’t God. 

Everyone has a story. I know my dads story is deeper than I’ll ever know here on earth. But as conflicted as our relationship could be at times I am so glad he was part of my life.  He was funny and charming. He cared and I know he loved me.

 Since he has been gone I come to see how much alike we really are. My impatience and tendcies toward moodiness and my quick temper are all him.  Though I don’t often show my temper like he could. 

My dad was as big as life itself. A huge precense when he was in a room not only in stature (he was 6’4″) but also in personality.  He was more outgoing than I am and he kept up with friends better than i did. Though I am trying to be better at that.

 Stan Wilson was something. And he was my dad. 

So I’m sitting here in the beach on a beautiful day on Sept 23 remembering my dad on his birthday. I thought I could get through this without tears. But I am not. And that is ok. I cry because I loved. 

Later today I will take some of his ashes and scatter them in the bay just near our beach cottage. I want to release him into the water which he so loved. Later when the gardens are done being put in at our cottage I will scatter some of his ashes there- so he is part of Cool Breeze Cottage. I can just hear him saying “Cool Breeze! Here comes Cool Breeze!”  My high school nickname -he loved nicknames. I hated that name then but now I have three teens and I so get it! 

So happy Birthday Dad. I’d like to think you are with loved ones -your dad, Nana, Jean , keenie. And Ernie , the haleys,and mr Deveraux, mr Vogelsinger and many more. 

Happy Birthday. Your daughter here on  earth misses you so much and will love you always. 

Finding new roads or currents 

The thought I might never ride a horse again had crossed my mind from time to time this last year. I am pretty sure my own horses don’t really mind that-but it has been hard for me to concede to that fact that my riding days are over. So I’m not really going there yet. But right now I am not supposed to ride a horse. Not only my horse – any horse – no can ride.  This has to do with the fact I have had two major nerve surgeries on my arm and chest wall and a fall off a horse would definitely not be good for me.  

Had I known my riding days were limited I would have ridden more when I had the chance.  There really isn’t any sense in those regrets but that is how I feel much of the time. 

I am a very active person or I was. Since laying in bed with chronic pain for many months I am basically starting all over trying to get myself back into shape. It’s not easy when you have physical limitations and chronic pain. 

I have a whole list of can’t do’s:

  • Can’t ride a horse. 
  • Can’t lift weights with upper body. 
  • Can’t bear weight on my right side using arm. 
  • Can’t paddle anything. Like a kayak or stand-up paddle board. 
  • And you get my drift. 

So I’ve been trying to figure out what I can physically do because focusing on what I can’t do is just depressing and not productive.  And there are many more things I can do than can’t. 

So far I can

  • Walk. 
  • Ride a bike 
  • Ride in the front seat of car again. 
  • Drive a car
  • I can lift weights with my lower body 
  • I can feed animals 
  • I can brush animals with my good arm. 
  • You get the picture. 

The fact I want to ride a horse again is a good sign anyway. The fact that I can’t -for now – is just a hinderance. 

With our traveling back and forth to our beach cottage I’ve been trying to figure out what I could do for activity on the water. Kevin and the kids got stand up paddleboards and they are so cool! I can sit on one while Kevin paddles and that’s fun. We got a two man inflatable kayak and that’s fun too – but I have been just a passenger bc I can’t paddle it. Passengering is ok. It’s fun sometimes – but I don’t want to be the passenger all the time. 

I thought there must be a water device that has pedals.  So I looked up kayaks with pedals and they exist! I found out fisherman use them as it makes it easier to maneuver while fishing.  

So we found a kayak outfitter in Lewes ,DE about 40 minutes from our cottage. We worked with one of the salesmen and he gave us the lowdown on different types of pedal kayaks. We selected a Hobie kayak. The price was fairly high (I may have gasped) but I really wanted independence. I wanted an “I Can” that I could do with my family on the water and I wanted something that gave me independence like the bike did. The price was worth it. 

The feeling of being on the water is amazing. I love the serenity and the exercise. 

I love the freedom and independence. 

I’m glad I found another “I can”

——

Link to the paddle sport shop Facebook page where they posted our picture. 

Here’s some info about the Hobie Mirage kayak I got. 

I’m a child 

I remember sitting in a therapy group years ago. It was well before I was going for myself. I always went in the hopes I could find ways to change other people in my life that I thought needed changing. I wasn’t ready to change me. I was fine. 

In that group I learned about The Inner Child.  Back then Author John Bradshaws ideas of finding the inner child and healing the inner child were big in therapy groups. 

That group was BIG into healing the inner child. We had to get up and speak to our inner child. I hated that.  I was there to fix someone else. I was fine. Yes my dad drank. Yes he had anger issues and yes I grew up in a dysfunctional family but my inner child was fun. I was there to fix a guy. A guy I was dating. 

I still recall the house where we met. It was a funky cottage in an older section of Bethesda, Maryland. Not far from the Potomac river. It was an eclectic neighborhood. And the house vibe wasnt what I would have expected for a therapist but the room with its area to sit in a circle on the floor with pillows lent itself to comfort and a safeness. But when we had to talk to our inner child I thought they were all nuts. I only attended two or three sessions. During the last one I attended a woman a little older than me decided to put it out there for me -she said that I needed to stop and look at myself and ask myself why I wanted to date such people that didn’t want to commit to a full relationship. It wasn’t him it was me that needed to change. 

I was taken aback and left that night never to return. I wasn’t the one who needed to change. It was him. 

I was only 24 or 25 years old. I wasn’t there yet. I was so immature. I didn’t see what the others saw. But good for me to seek therapy. Good for my mother who herself went to therapy over the years even when people made fun of those who sought such help. She taught me not to question therapy it was just something one did like go to the dentist. I saw no stigma.

I just wasn’t ready to search inside myself. 

As the years progressed I went to a number of therapists. Some didn’t jibe with me so I left treatment. Othees worked out well for me and I stayed with them for years. My last one -Barbara-who we (my entire family ) saw died of Colon cancer. I still miss her and haven’t found anyone since that was a good fit for me. But i will. 

But before Barbara there was Claudia. She might even read this as we are Facebook friends. Claudia. She was my therapist right before and a then after I married. She was the perfect therapist for me at the time. She got me to work on me. She wasn’t a Bradshaw enthusiast I don’t think though I’m sure we did work on my inner child in many non-direct ways -like in regression therapy. 

Claudia and I talked, she did Reiki, tap therapy (as I was dealing with terrible anxiety) , hypnosis and more.  She was a kind and caring person. She championed me and I’ll never forget her. 

She made me see my inner self and my inner child. She helped me realize that I was a good person and I deserved good things.  Though I still struggle with that sometimes. 

But I came to realize we never really grow up all the way. And the most evolved humans are the ones who embrace their inner child and spend time healing any brokenness or trauma that child encountered.

 And It’s fun to act child like sometimes. The other day my BFF from childhood -Eileen-sent me a text and in that text she wrote something that made me belly laugh. It hurt too since I’m recovering from surgery! But it’s good to let that child shine through sometimes.  We go back almost 50 years. That’s a lot of lifetime but we still can snicker like the teens we once were. 

My husband gets together with high school friends and they go on and act like they are still 17. It’s a good thing I’ve known a couple of them for almost as long as he has or the jabs and old stories and theimmature  behavior might get old -but I can join in some bc I have old stories with some of them -though I forget many of them but our friend Terry has us doubled over much of the time. That’s the kids in us. Those connnextions are a blessing.  

Tom Atkins wrote a poem about picking a honeysuckle and tasting its nectar and how it brought him back to his childhood. I love the poem be when I read it I felt it. I was picking honeysuckle as a girl and then later with my little kids.  When I read that prom it warmed me ane I felt that child inside me giggle. 

So all these years later I’ve come to know my inner child and I’ve worked on her. I’ve know when I go to therapy I go to help me not another person. 

Little Anne is in there and she has healed a lot over the years because I worked on both of us. We still have a ways to go. I still have a lot to figure out.  

A couple weeks ago I was perusing one of the local online yard sale pages and I saw this Barbie dollhouse. (See below). It came with the furniture and car. My heart jumped. I wanted it. My innner child jumped out and sang “get me that dollhouse”.  I had one as a child though these have evolved and are even better than before.  But I remember seeing that dollhouse under the Christmas tree one Christmas morning many years ago. I still remember how I felt. 

I have no room for such a thing and no reason to buy it- except for the way it makes me feel. Like a kid again. And that’s a good thing. 

I didnt buy it. But I saved the picture. I hope it goes to little girl who will someday when she’s middle aged look at a picture of a dollhouse and feel the way I felt when I saw it. 

I’ve come to love my inner child. For a long time she was hurt and she was ignored. And that hurt child helped facilitate some bad choices bc she was hurt. But Now we are one. I’m am and adult and I am a child and we love dollhouses. 


Screenshot Photo cred: Facebook yard sale site. 
More about the inner child in this great article: 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evil-deeds/200806/essential-secrets-psychotherapy-the-inner-child

Surgery journal …it keeps on going 

So the last I left off – I think- is that I was slowly healing from my surgery. 

Recap – I had breast cancer surgery which led to pain for three years that was ignored by my breast surgeon. It exacerbated last May 2016. I was bed ridden. I had to begin a journey that would lead mye to a nerve surgeon that agreed that I may have a problem with surgical clips. This clip issue had been suggested to me by a physiatrist I saw over the summer.  Surgical clips are made of metals and are used often in surgeries to close of vessels. They have caused issues In patients but it’s not common or maybe not admitted by doctors that they are an -in fact- an issue. 

The nerve surgeon operated. Removed clips in my axilla (armpit) And he found some clipped onto nerves. Not the right thing to clip.  The nerve surgeon also cut some nerves and buried them into muscle. He removed a neuroma (bundles of scar tissue ). He was optimistic that he had cleared the area of clips and that these were likely the cause of much of my pain. He Closed me up and here I am just over three months later. 

Now I will say that I’m still in the process of healing. But I have had pain in the back of my armpit -it’s not new pain- I think my surgeon thought it was pain that would subside as he treated all that other stuff I mentioned to you above. That pain in the back of my armpit is becoming worse. And the symptom that bothered me the most -the nerve pain that made me cough -is still around and seems to flare when that armpit pain flares. Nobody gets the cough symptom. That is very frustrating.

Is it worse BC I’m more active and doing more things?  Well I’m not bed ridden anymore and I am doing more and the more I use my arm the more it hurts. I can’t work on my range of motion exercises much because it causes pain. And it hurts as a passenger in the car and when I drive. I tried a long ride to the beach a little over a week ago as a passenger and that about crushed me. I am not big on opiates so I’m only willing to take so much medication. It was a stressful trip to say the least. 

I went to see the nerve surgeon this week and he took a long time with me. He pondered my continued pain. He had some ideas of the nerves it could be. He hopes it can calm down and become a non-issue the longer I heal. 

So the plan is to get a series injections right in the areas of my pain. The injections contain lidocaine -a numbing agent -which is short acting and some steroid which we hope will calm the pain down. I get the next injections four weeks apart. I won’t know if this injection will help even for the short term for up to a week.  Then if  I still continue with pain a few months from now I will have to have more surgery. 

Yes I know. It bites. 

But I need to get this pain level under control so it doesn’t limit me so much. I’m limited socially and physically. I’m up and around which I’m so grateful for. But it’s not enough yet. My mom moved in with us at the end of November. I want to be there for her.  I don’t want to be dealing with my own pain issues that it limits me from helping her. 

I’m 75% better than last summer. Being bed ridden and now being up and around is a huge deal. A lot of the pain is gone. But what’s left is bad. If it weren’t for the pills for nerve pain I’d been in bad shape. I hardly ever tolerate any RX meds. I failed all the cancer hormone blocking drugs I’ve tried. I was very pessimistic about the drug neurontin also known as Gabapentin. It’s used to treat seizures but is very effective on nerve pain. Which is a hideous burning pain that can go from light burn to a blaze if left to smolder.  The drug has been great for me. I have little side effects. A few twitches here and there and memory loss. The memory loss is the worst of it for me. I put up with it because the pain control is that good. And the drug isn’t like an opiate. I’m just writing everything down and when I forget something at least I have something to blame it on. I have read coming off the drug is  tough. Not like coming off opiates but it can be hard. But I’ve read how to counteract any unpleasant side effects with natural products like magnesium – which can make the taper off the drug much better. But I’m not even there yet. I still need the drug -so in an unlike fashion for me I’m not going to worry about when I go off it. 

Nobody said that this healing would be easy. I think I just got in my head that it would be a done deal when all those clips came out.  I’m disappointed. But I’m so determined to get to a point where I won’t have so much pain. I don’t know if I’ll actually ever be pain free on my cancer side -but I’d like it to be much better.  And I’m not pain free elsewhere. It’s just that the level of pain that sets us back from true living can be different for each of us. And I met my match. 

The one good – well maybe great thing- that has happened is that from my experience I have been able to help other woman in the same pain situation as I am in ( post breast therapy pain syndrome). A couple woman have even gone to my surgeon after I mentioned him on the Facebook page that I belong to for ladies with post breast cancer therapy pain. 

It feels good that my hardships haven’t gone in vain and that my experience and what I’ve learned and shared could actually be help to others.  

I have a lot of things I want to do. I am so grateful for how far I’ve come. And I call upon God each day to help me to be more patient. I am doing the best I can.

I miss riding my horse. I miss farm chores. I don’t miss doing laundry though -I can do a bit of it but I try not to. This week we hired a cleaning service to come in and clean. It was much needed. We will probably hire them on a regular schedule. I just can’t keep up and my teens aren’t the best cleaners. And I’m kind of done with the eye rolling from them especially when I can’t pull my own weight doing chores. And frankly I don’t want it to be a fight. In the scheme of life it’s just not worth being mad at messy kids. Life’s too short. 

The road to recovery isn’t always a straight line. I’m learning to be more accepting of that. Right now I am better than last summer. I’m so grateful. 

I really am learning to live one day at a time. I don’t know how I’ll feel from day to day. So just focusing on today is the easiest for me. It’s forcing me to live more in the present. The theme to my last blog. 

I’m carried by the thank you’s I’ve gotten for sharing my experiences and hearing that what I’ve written has been empowering them has really be a saving grace. I’ve been carried by the good wishes of friends from all over. 

It’s not a road I’d wish on anyone. During my worst days I sometimes can’t find a thing to be joyful about. But I see that life happens no matter where I am or what I feel – and I want to live life. 

I orten  think of the Apostle Paul in the Bible and his unending optimism and want to call people to Christianity despite his circumstances. His letters never waivered in his goal and he never lamented on his circumstances though he was jailed when he wrote many of the letters that now are books in the New Testament. He found contentment in any circumstance. This was because of his love of other things outside of this earthly place and his faith of what lay ahead for him. 

Sometimes you have to try to enjoy life even when you aren’t where you want to be- whether that be physically or emotionally. I’m no Paul. But I can learn from him. 

This cancer journey has been such an incredible challenge in my life. It’s not easy for me to stop along the way and consider I need to be learning from my discomforts . I just want out of it. But in the moments where I can just stop and breathe and  just live in the present despite my discomfort I see how truly blessed I am. 

I don’t know where the road will lead but I’m on it – better to make the best of it when I can. 

The day after..life goes on. 

I woke up today not knowing the results of the election and Kevin had to give me the news. I begged him not to but he felt I better hear it from him than on social media. He knows I’ve been through a lot lately. 

This is certainly not how I thought the election would go. I didn’t vote. I firmly felt I could not vote when so much hate was being spewed around this election. And in the end my state went blue. That was expected 

But this election outcome is not the outcome I expected. 

And I will say neither candidate floated my boat but one worried me much more and he won.  But lets see – looking at my life the last three years and all that’s happened just in my own personal space – I shouldn’t be shocked. If something I think should be right side up turns upside down it shouldn’t shock me anymore. But this election outcome kind of does. 

Well what do I do with this? 

Live.  I’ll live.  

And yes I’ll allow myself to think of the fastest way across the boarder if things get really crazy. I will try to will myself not to worry over the stock markets and housing markets as they react to this news. 

People wanted change – I guess – and they got it. And I’ll hope that the ranting Trump realizes as he awoke today (if he slept) what a freaking important job he just got. Maybe he can put the ego aside some( I would have said this about Clinton too) and keep his hands to himself (I would not have said this about mrs C -but well yes I would said this about her hubby) and get down to doing a great job of being President. Maybe dial the personality back some  (Some people would insert -the crazy -here but I won’t.) and remember the entire world is watching -the places we like and the ones we don’t. He needs to know that he now represents more than himself. He represents us. He needs to keep his head about him and learn to think before he acts. 

I want to stay away from social media today but I’m sure I won’t.  Kevin told me people have posted all kinds of things. “Racism won” was one thing he told me before I asked him to not tell me that stuff right at that moment BC I hadn’t even had breakfast. Because I’m not even going to engage in any of that. Why feed into it the frenzy -it will die down.  I hope. 

I have my worries. I would’ve said this about Clinton too. Its just that my set of worries for Trump are little more scary than my worries were for Clinton . 

And I am bummed we didn’t get our first woman President -but we will. The fact that Hilary Clinton was possibly going to be the first woman prez and it wasn’t part of the in your face marketing campaign during the election says to me that we don’t think it’s a big deal anymore we just expect it to be something that will happen. Just like now we will never be shocked if a person of color runs and wins. Our younger generation has high expectations for woman –they don’t seem to see boundaries where other generations of woman did- and I hope in this next election in four years that we will see more woman seek the nomination.  

I chatted  with a friend on the phone this morning and she was not a Trump supporter and when I saw her name pop up on my phone  I thought she was calling to lament about it -we never really have talked politics -we have been friends for almost 50 years our connection transcends that of politics – but I thought she must be calling to lament bc I assumed she must be so upset. But she didn’t jump into that topic until well into the conversation when I mentioned it and she just said “ugh”.  She had other things of concern to chat with me about – she had already gotten on with her life. 

So there’s no point for me to lament or get upset about the gloating or feed into the negativity that I’m sure to see on social media.  I have so many other fish to fry. (Now I’m hungry for fish and chips).  I just need to live my life.  

That not to say the Presidency isn’t a big deal. It is-but all I can do is pray that Trump will cool his jets some and listen to his advisors who I also hope are really really really good. Maybe he will put his daughter Ivanka in some position. She carries so much class I can hardly believe she his kid. And BC she is, I hope that maybe he has a better side than we have seen. And I am praying that this is the side that will be brought out when he realizes that this is for real -that he’s the freaking President of the United States. He needs to act Presidential. He needs to make decisions for all of us not just the choices he likes at the moment. And I certainly will pray that he leads from place of care and love and not a place of hate. (And I would also have said the same if Clinton had won. )

I realized after chatting with my friend that the sun doesn’t rise and set focusing on this one thing. In a few days this news will be old news. If anything we Americans have short attention spans. And we have lives to live. We have so many shows to binge watch. 

I’m praying for a lot of good things to come out of this very hateful election. Maybe that’s crazy but that what I do. 

 But ultimately I’m going to just go live my life. And I’ll definitely keep my sense of humor because I’ve found that it comes in handy when under duress. And I’ve still got my eyes on the fastest way to the borders – the ones without the potential walls -and I’ll make sure one of the big cars has a full gas tank at all times. 

Life goes on.