Things are changing

Boxes for the boys dorm rooms.

I’m starting to get a little flustered and a nervous because we are facing a lot of changes right now.

In a way it’s good Yukon wouldn’t load on the trailer yesterday. He will be coming on the 28th via transport by Days End. They have a bigger trailer and the trainer will get him on. So that’s all good. So it’s good we are delaying it because I just have too much to deal with this coming week.

I was feeling like I was rushing getting the horse here and I was because I wanted Harley to have a buddy. But he’s doing fine. I think I feel the delay in getting Yukon here was a blessing. We have to leave Tuesday to take my boys off to college. That’s a huge change.

I have spent weeks getting forms together, getting medical appointments done and buying all the stuff they need for their dorm rooms. It’s all packed and ready to go.

We will be empty nesters in a few days. Well we will be if you don’t count my mom living here! My daughter is in Ohio and the boys wont be too far away from us at Salisbury University on the Eastern shore. It’s actually only 40 minutes from our beach house. Which gives us more reasons to spend time there.

So I’m trying to wrap my head around how I’m feeling. So many people are posting how sad they are that their kids are going off to school. I am a mixture of sad and happy.

I’m happy for them because this is a great opportunity for them. They will be living in separate dorms by the way. I’m hoping they will at least say hello to eachother if they see one another on campus. They aren’t the best of friends at this point. One can only hope that might change in the future. Anyway we got them to the door now it’s up to them to open it and make College a success. We will see. But I am so happy for this for them. Two boys born almost 18 years ago in a far away country and being sent to an orphanage the future wasn’t looking great. But God had a hand in guiding their lives to this point. They may not see it the way I do but I hope they take advantage of this opportunity . And I hope they have fun too.

I am also happy they will be out of my house!! I’m done with the pigsty we call a basement. Which is where they live. We are taking back the area and consolidating them to one bedroom. We will make sure they have privacy when they come home to visit but no way is it going to look the way it does now ever again! God bless those that have teen boys that aren’t messy. I gave up a while ago trying to get them to be organized. I feel for their college roommates.

I also will be glad they are gone because I know how much they will learn by being away from home. Maybe they will appreciate more what’s been done for them over the years when they have to navigate the world on their own. I know my daughter is realizing a lot living on her own in a city five hours away. I’m also excited for them to have these new experiences. It will help them to mature.

I’m sad because they won’t be around. The boys live like mole people sleeping much of the day and banging around at night. They really don’t want to be around us yet they do. I know they have that desire to be free but they have the fear too. We don’t see the m much actually. Sometimes they make their way upstairs to eat all our food. They often forget there are other here who may like to eat as well. They eat in epic proportions. It’s uncanny.

They are also terrible conversationalists. Me: how is packing going? Do you need any toiletries? The boy: good. Ok … I asked too many questions. Me: do you need any toiletries bc I can get you some before we go to the dorm. Boy: ok. Me: tell me what you will need we leave soon. Boy:ok. I will have to guess at what they need! Hey at least we talked.

But I’ll still miss them. They will be absent. The house empty their essence. The little boys are no more. I know the next phase for them has begun. But the change is going to be hard on me even when some of me rejoices they are gone.

One son just had a short convo with me to discuss possible crime in the city where his school is. He is my shy one. The anxious one I worry for but have to push out of the nest.

Nobody can ever prepare you for parenting. I have been in over my head too many times to count. I hope we’ve made some influence on their lives. I hope they have felt loved.

So many changes. It’s inevitable. Sometimes they happen close together. Like the new horse and the boys leaving. I have seen so many changes in my life in the last five years. I guess am better at rolling with it but I also know that I sometimes have to stop and let myself feel the feelings associated with each thing. Losing horse … very sad. New horse.. very exciting and scary too. Boys going to college ….very exciting and sad and scary too. If I honor my feelings it helps the flustered feeling and anxiety. If I take things a step at a time it helps slow my mind down. I’m an incredible planner. It must be the IT person in me. I can take some event and plan the heck out of. I Extrapolate the what’s ifs and I get everyone organized and I have contingency plans. It’s what I do. But I often get too far ahead of myself and I sometimes become overwhelmed or anxious. Especially if the things taking place are really life changing. Like your kids leaving.

But this is life. There was a time when I found out I had breast cancer that I considered maybe I wouldn’t be here for these events. But here I am. So in reality I’m so grateful even if changes are sometimes hard.

So off to college (and wow College is so awesome these days with all the food choices! ) I’m jealous.

Go get ’em boys. We love you.

Ps – boys we may use your new updated bedroom as a guest space and hobby room. But you are always welcome with advanced notice.

Of course I’m kidding. Or am I?

I am.

Blessings.

Beachy things

It has been rather gloomy off and on down here on the east coast of Delaware.

We drove down to the shore yesterday to drop off one son at his soon to be new Home at Salisbury university so he can attend a camping trip not far from here on Assateague Island- Home of the wild ponies. We will stay here at our cottage while he is away. It makes sense since the cottage is so close to the university. Sadly the forecast isn’t great but the group leaders didn’t seem to be worried.

This activity will hopefully give my son a friend base at the start of college and also a great experience camping on a really neat island. He said he doesn’t like the beach but he chose this trip. Go figure. He 17.

He texted to tell us he had a try at surfing. He has his phone on the trip though they don’t really want the kids to use them. He texted me to say he surfed and to ask what to do about bug bites. He cracks me up. Like I can do anything! He will figure it out.

Today after kevin and I worked some from the cottage we decided to take a drive to find some place mats to protect our newly painted table which seems to be absorbing liquids. I likely need a better top coat on the table but placemats are a start.

I didn’t find any placemats but i was unlikely to find them in downtown Bethany Beach. I think we just wanted an excuse to cut work and to check out the beach.

It turned out that the weather had cleared and it was quite nice on the beach. Too bad I wasn’t dressed to be on the beach! We walked around looking for placemats then stopped for some early dinner.

I took photos of things I found interesting. There is so much color along the town streets and on boardwalk. It’s almost an assault of color. So many places to look.

So come take a walk with me….

The walk out to the newly restored beach. Which is huge compared to what it was.

Modeling birds.

My date. Cute huh?
Nice view – good beer- food ok.
This was how the day was. Neat cloud formations.
Maryland is Home of the blue crab.

Loved this sign. Wish I could have one just like it.

What can I say?

Loved the signs and people beyond it.

Nice day. Maybe beach time tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

Learning Acceptance

I think I have been taking a sabbatical from writing. It hadn’t been my intent but it seems it just occurred.

I think I felt blocked in a way. I have had a lot of writing ideas so that wasn’t it. I had personal things that I needed to process and until I processed them -maybe not fully but processed them enough – I felt like maybe my writing would not feel authentic.

I was upset over something very personal that I could only touch on vaguely in my writing. So much wanted to come out and that stuff was better for a private journal than a blog.

I have had to decide where my line is in what I share on my blog. Just because I’m upset with someone doesn’t mean I need to air that in my writing. Sometimes it is ok. This time it wasn’t.

So I had to come to some acceptance with that family issue and I have had to try to come to acceptance with some other things that seemed to be causing me stress.

One such issue is my ongoing pain. I am sooooo much better. I am so very blessed. But there is still pain. I can’t seem to use my right arm ( which is my dominate arm) fully or for very long without some pain. I also get flares. It happens when I “overdo” in some way. The problem is I never know exactly what will trigger it. I am learning though but I still get surprised. A lot.

Ice packs have become dear friends. I have been known to walk through the grocery or hardware store sporting an ice bag of some sort under my arm. Ice really is my savior.

I have had to reach an acceptance with this pain. If I had to live like this I certainly could. Would it be ideal? No. Sometimes it’s really sucky. But I’m improved. I’m out living life.  I’ve lowered my nerve pain meds a lot. Hoping to lose some of the weight I’ve gained. Which is another area of acceptance I’ve had to reach. I can’t hate myself bc I don’t look the way I want. I am trying to embrace that I may never look like I really want again.

My body has been through hell. Three surgeries in one year and the last -fat grafting-was supposed to be liposuction on my abdomen that would make me look better and sadly I hate the outcome but the fat had to come from somewhere

So I’m trying to accept this. I’m into being in shape and being skinny. It’s how I grew up. Skinny was good. And sadly I was a chubby kid and That fact was reinforced often by schoolmates and Neighbor Kids. I have spent years battling my minds critical view of my body.

So for me it’s a mental exercise in trying to accept myself as I am now. I’m 54 and I’ve had many surgeries and cancer and I’m menopausal. I can work hard as I’m able (I limited in my activities bc of my nerve damaged right side) but I’m likely not going to look the way I want to ever again. I might but it may not happen and I want to be able to accept that. I don’t want to feel embarrassed for my husband to see my nude body. But I am. He thinks I’m beautiful. I have a hard time seeing what he sees. But I’m lucky that’s what he sees

I really am a work in progress on this acceptance thing. But I’ve come to realize that acceptance doesn’t mean giving up. It means that in this moment in time I accept that this is where I am.

I accept I still have pain but I won’t quit trying to find improvements. I just began laser therapy. It might help.

I do have gratitude for how far I’ve come and I’m thankful I found this brilliant nerve surgeon who wanted to help me as best he could.

I am accepting that my body isn’t what I want to to be. But really if that’s a worry in my life I’m pretty blessed seeing where I was two years ago.

As far as my family issue. I’ve had to forgive and I have had to give much of this to God. I can’t control someone else’s journey and I accept that. And I accept that where i am now – on the edge of this persons life – that I can’t do anything but let them know they are loved. That’s what I can do.

I think maybe I’m in a growing phase. Learning that I can’t be in control all the time.

My two sons just graduated high school. I have been waiting for this day! I feel like we’ve finished the first of a set of hurdles. It’s been a ride. But they begin college in the fall and now it’s up to them. They have all the tools to succeed.

Then going away is bittersweet for me. My role as Mom will change. It already has. Though I’m still buying the things on the “what to bring” list the College provides. It has to get done by someone and they seem oblivious to the fact that College is six weeks away. I, however, am ever aware. But soon I have to let go. I have to say “you need to try to figure this out  “ and let them muddl through.

Part of me can’t wait to boot them out the door. The other part is terrified. This is another thing I have to find acceptance with. I have to let go. I don’t know if I’ll grapple with the empty nest thing, I have my mom living here so I still have a bird in the nest to care for. But I think I’ll miss them more than I am imaging now. . And I know it’s time for them to fly.

But the acceptance comes with letting them do the flying. Letting them steer their course. I know they’ll need me once in a while. (At least for $). But I have to give this one to God and let go of my need to be in charge. I will always be their biggest fan even if they don’t realize it.

I also wonder what do I want to do? If I could catch up on all the things I’m behind on what do I want to do? There’s so many things. Some not attainable now. And some doable.

Since I had cancer I’ve been on this “you gotta live now” motto. And since I’ve been feeling better and have had less pain I want to avoid putting off things for later -when I can. But I can’t do all the things on my list now bc I have responsibilities to others that are a priority. I’ve had to accept this knowing it’s ok to take things a step at a time.

But my biggest question is who do I want to be now that all my kids will be gone from home? I think this is something that I’ll have to feel out.

If anything – I have begun to accept that I don’t always have immediate answers for so much in my life. I am learning to accept that sometimes we just have to wait and see.

And there is some excitement in that for me.

On the Bay.

I was out on my kayak the other day and took a short video. Sometimes the freedom I feel and the beauty of being on the water is just something I want to share with everyone.

Here’s a short kayak ride on the Indian River Bay in Delaware.

Can I Draw?

I remember sitting in art class as a young girl and being petrified. There was usually an assignment to draw some object and I’d look around me and the other kids seemed to be drawing something that resembled the object that stood atop a desk or table. I looked at my scribbles and my insides would jumble up. Then I’d just give up and draw whatever suited me. Usually I would draw a little cartoon my bff and I drew on all our secret notes. We called it a pulb. I can’t even remember how to draw it now. It’s not in my head anymore. I would make twenty of them on the paper.

Ultimately I had to hand in something that resembled what the teacher asked for. Many students art were placed on the walls lining the hallways. I can’t recall mine being there ever.

This may not have bothered some kids. They would draw the best flower or cow or building they could and hand it in and be done with it. I was driven mad by inability to create a nice drawing. I wanted to be able to draw and I wanted it to look just like the cow or the flower that was the model for our assignment.

The things I could draw when I was young were limited. I mentioned the pulb. And I drew tons of smiley faces. But when my fascination with horses bloomed I spent hours and hours drawing horses. Some I copied and even traced so I could get the feel of how to draw the neck or the head. Some of the drawings came out of my head. None were very good but it was my love for the horse and the time spent being in the moment of drawing it that seemed to be satisfying to me.

Another period of drawing came when I became enamored with houses. I loved to go into other people’s homes and see what their floorplans were like. I imagined Home floor plans when I looked at houses from the outside. I guessed where the rooms might be placed based on the where windows were . I perused floor plan magazines spending way too much time for a eleven year old going over every detail of the plan.

It was then I began to draw my own floor plans on graph paper. I made drawings of floor after floor. (I guess it’s not shock that later in life I wanted to be an architect. Something my grades and math skills never allowed but I did major in urban planning.).

I never tired of drawing floor plans and I also began a fascination with maps. (Again this plays into the urban planning major).

I spent all that time drawing and I never felt I was an artist. I wrote back then too. I wrote stories and poetry. I dreamed of authoring a book.

I was the dramatic poet in high school penning love poems to boyfriends. I took a pottery class in high school and loved it. I never made anything good but the wet clay between my fingers was so relaxing.

I never thought myself creative though. It was just stuff I did. When I was a kid you didn’t major in art. My dad wanted me to major in business in college because that’s how I would get a good job. Creative stuff wasn’t going to provide for me in the future.

I didn’t picture having a creative life even after I discovered photography when I was just 22. I fell in love. I loved the technical aspects of photography and the feeling of that camera and the power to capture an image I found beautiful or captivating. I have thousands upon thousands of photos.

I longed to dig deeper into the art. I took classes and was discouraged after one classmates portrait assignment blew mine away. In fact many of my fellow students had much better darkroom skills than I did. I stopped classes soon after but I never stopped taking photos.

It wasn’t until I became a member of a creative group online that I actually allowed myself to say I am a creative. I may not be earning money being creative but I am one. I’m a creative.

I have to say that I’m proud of much of my photography and sometimes the photos that resonate with me aren’t my best shots. They are the ones that convey some meaning to me. A memory, how I felt at that moment. For me each photo has my story in it.

I realized it’s the actual creating that is what matters to me more then the outcome. It’s how I feel doing it. Just walking around with the camera and looking at things differently bc I have that camera in my hand- that’s a feeling I love.

The same goes with writing. Most of the time my pieces that I wrote never turn out the way I thought they would. My writing takes on its own form as soon as I sit down to do it. That’s the part I love.

Creativity is about outcome yes – but it’s also so much about the process. At least for me it is. I think about Michelangelo on his back for so much time painting the Sistine Chapel. It had to be about the process. It took him like 7 years I think. And what about Picasso and Van Gogh? Their artistic styles were so different. Picasso’s work made no sense to many. But it did to him. And when people look at art they get their own feelings about it.

My photo of the Baltimore harbor (see below) means something to me that was personal bc I was there and moved by the scene before me. I know it was winter and I was in the Marriott hotel inside and I took the photos through the window. I had been there to watch a Christmas boat show – a getaway with my husband. See? I have a huge memory of that photo. To someone else looking at it it will mean something entirely different. How cool is that?

So in my creative evolution I’ve become more fluid. I’ve wanted to try more things. I took a glass cutting class where we made some cute trivets. I wanted to keep that up but it didn’t stick. I began painting furniture which I loved but had to give that up bc of my nerve damage to my arm.

I never thought that I wanted to try drawing bc of my past fears. But recently my husband and I found ourselves perusing the aisles of a Michaels craft store (where items are way too pricey btw). Aisle by aisle I became inspired. And then it happened -my husband found a book of animals to draw. The fire lit inside me and before I knew it I was in line with the book and sketch pad and pencils.

It turns out I love to draw. I ordered myself a beginner book. The animal one was a bit hard.

I often think what I’ve drawn stinks. Then I go back after a day or two and I look and think it’s not so bad. I don’t think I’ll ever draw well. In my dreams I want to draw like the artists that can take a photo and draw it and you can hardly tell the difference between the two. I think that’s a huge gift and I don’t think God gave me that one. So I have to tamp down my hopes some.

I kind of want to find some drawing style that is me. But right now it’s the process that I love. I like the time lost in the learning. In the past I’m not sure I would have been as patient. I would have given up. But now it the process that benefits me. It’s akin to some meditation. It’s the same thing as my photos and my writing. All outlets for me.

So can I draw? Yes. Can I draw well. Not really -but I might get better. It doesn’t really matter though does it ?

What to say- and a painful setback

I see spring making it’s way to me.  I feel the warm sun as the angles change. I think about sitting out in the heat. I hope for an active summer. I want that.

I have been very mute lately when it has come to my writing. I have been blocked. There has been so many things happening in my world that I have become so overwhelmed and the words that need to spill out won’t.

Some things I just cannot yet write about – they are just too personal. I have always hoped to be as authentic as I could be when it came to my writing but so many things I just cant speak about now. It seems that God continues to test my faith. Is it that? Or just random hard crap that is bound to happen in some part to most of us- maybe some of us get more challenges than others.  I don’t know but my faith remains steadfast though I do shake my fist sometimes and ask why?  I think God gets it.

Anyway so what do I say? Maybe today I will write about things I can write about and maybe at some point I will feel ready and able to write about some of the other stuff. And maybe the stuff I don’t write about that is blocking me will take a step aside to allow my words to flow.

There has been a shift somewhere deep inside me this last year or so.  Sometimes I wonder if it as a result of all the surgeries I have had- all that anesthesia to my brain. Maybe its the pain I deal with- but I feel different. Not horribly down, but down sometimes and flat other times and sometimes I feel like me but with shifted worldview. I even went to my doctor to see if I am depressed and according to the questionaire I am mildly depressed. So I was prescribed an anti-depressant. I don’t do well on Anti-d’s typically -but I was given one that is in a different class than other ones I have used. All of those were for anxiety and depression and none ever worked right or I got some nasty side effects from them.

Anyway I haven’t take the Anti-d yet. Thats because I am now taking some other new meds for pain. My pain has returned – this time likely because of a failed fat graft. I have learned they can fail- die- form cysts etc. This graft in particular was put in an area in my posterior axilla (back of armpit) where the hope was that the stem cells would work to rejuvenate radiation damaged tissue.  I felt that graft with my fingers right after surgery. I worried that it felt really big in there and it sat in an area where I have had quite a bit of pain. But for over three months I didn’t notice anything. The grafts under the scars were doing well and that graft in the axilla wasn’t a bother- until it was.

A few weeks ago, I had a weekend where I did so many things (because I was able to finally do things again)and I can’t tell what may have set off the fury under my arm. Unloading boxes into my new kitchen after our reno was completed, I did a little barn work, I did a little working out.  Whatever it was set off a fire if intense pain that seemed to worsen each day thereafter. I called my nerve surgeon and gave me prednisone in hopes that we could calm down whatever was acting up. Prednisone was an elixir like no other. But as soon as the pack was done back came the pain. Stabbing, burning, searing, aching- crappy pain. Oh and this time swelling too. It just wasn’t feeling right under my arm.

When my nerve surgeon saw me he ordered an ultrasound and blood work and he added antibiotics because of low grade fever and the swelling  – and he ordered an anti-inflammatory – but no prednisone.  I begged for prednisone – it helped so much. You can only have so much prednisone I am told. Nothing has worked as well as that prednisone pack – not even medical marijuana. But maybe I don’t take enough MJ-I don’t want to feel “high”. My surgeon suggested trying opiates if needed. I haven’t taken opiates in months and want to avoid them if possible. I just want prednisone- it is hard to believe it is more dangerous than opiates.

I am back to limited mobility once more. I see the plastic surgeon next week who did the actual grafting. He did confer with my nerve surgeon about my setback and did feel it likely is the graft causing the pain. He did say he can take it out- which means surgery of some sort.

So frustrating.

I keep thinking how can I make lemonade from this? Maybe tack on a facelift or some tweak while I am under? God knows I have aged a bazzilion years since this all has started. I deserve some tweak – fillers don’t cut it!  Well if nothing cosmetic can be done, perhaps he could add more grafts under the scars that were treated before- I was going to need another procedure anyway- but that involves liposuction and that has a longer recovery time. so we will see.

I am looking at this as a setback. Pop that graft out and hopefully that area that has been my most painful area since I began this pain crap will settle down so I can enjoy my summer.  I had been looking so forward to summer before this setback. I am trying to keep a positive attitude. Sometimes that isn’t so easy for me.

It is funny how pain can become such a focus when it is intense and when it is dialed back or gone you can so easily forget you had it. I have kept marching forward looking for things to ease my pain and understanding that those that try to help me are not always sure things will work- I am kind of a guinea pig I guess.  I just keep the faith.

So I sit here looking at the sun across my pastures and I wait for spring and the warmth. Our home renovation is finished with some minor tweaks here and there. I have an office and I have a kitchen that is so pretty I hate to soil it with cooking.  I remind myself that through hardships there are always blessings. I see them each day even if I don’t always acknowledge them. Lately, things have been hard for me and for my family.  I search for my words and for my authenticity. I will keep it as real as I can and maybe in time I will have more to say. Ill know what to say….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have we had enough?

The other day I sent my son to school without his cell phone.  This was as a result of some low grades and I had taken the phone away in hopes his grades would come back up so he could get the phone back. He had come into my room that morning and asked if he could take the phone to school and I refused him. Later I saw a text on my phone that he had sent me the day before “did you see the news about the school shooting?”  I had missed that text-and now I know why he came in to ask for his phone-it was the day after the Florida school shooting where 17 students and faculty lost their lives. Only when I saw that text did it occur to me that perhaps he had asked for the phone because maybe he was feeling anxious about attending school and having his phone would have made him feel safer to have a connection to me. Then I realized that it would make me feel better having a connection to him. Who would have thought we would be here as parents – fearful to send our kids to school. Wondering could it happen at our school?

I don’t always write about things that are controversial- but sometimes you just have to speak out.  And to be honest there doesn’t seem to be a need to make this topic controversial because I think we can all agree on the premise – that we are all sick of  kids and adults being shot dead in schools. This problem has become prolific.

Here is a list of recent school shootings in case you missed it.

Aren’t you frustrated at seeing the heartbroken faces of the families who lost a loved one? The faces of the murdered flow past our screens in rapid succession – maybe strangers to us but to someone they were the world.  And don’t we feel the pain? and don’t we become angry? I think most of us agree enough is enough.

But then what? It doesn’t seem our politicians can agree on what to do about the issue. They don’t want to become unpopular to their constituents or perhaps to the lobbies that fund them. So what happens? Nothing. They let  enough time go by and the masses demanding change thin out because they have life to get back to and the pressure on the politicians lessens and they go on without having done anything – then there is a next time and another.

And lets face it- nothing that is done will completely stop these horrible tragedies from happening but does that mean there shouldn’t be change?

And by this time you might be reading Gun Ban into my writing and if you are doing that you have read wrong. I don’t hate guns. I live in the country where many people own and use guns. I think guns are tools that need to be respected. But I do feel not everyone should have one.

The answer to this national epidemic doesn’t fall into one category. In my opinion, there needs to be a multifaceted approach to maybe begin to see the number of these school shootings and hopefully other mass shootings significantly decline. But we have to compromise and we have to admit the truth about a few key issues.

While I find that there is a need for gun reforms there is another pressing and urgent issue that must be addressed in this country and that is the failure of our mental health system. This especially applies to children and teens and young adults.  I keep hearing from politicians that it’s not a gun issue it is a mental health issue. Well politicians here’s the truth our crappy mental health system is the issue – it not hard to find story after story online of our fractured mental health system in the United States. The system is broken and must be fixed. The truth of this situation must be admitted by our national and state governments – only they can facilitate a fix to this crisis.  If it’s not a gun issue and is a mental health issue something better happen to begin improvements to a system that isn’t doing much to help the most broken among us. 

I say this with some experience circumventing the mental health system can be a nightmare.  Our family has been lucky – our needs weren’t huge. I wasn’t looking for a bed for a psychotic or homicidal child. I didn’t need to sit for hours and sometimes days in an ER only to be told  that there just weren’t any beds to admit their child.  Or told that their child didn’t meet the “criteria” for admittance to a residential facility or that the hospital that could take the teen that was suicidalcould only keep them for a few days -the family would need to find other facilities for their child- leaving them to step into the sea of beauracracy and limitation that is our mental health system .  We were lucky, We only had to try to find a psychiatrist and an therapist for my child. This seems easy enough but finding Psychiatrists wanting to treat adolescents under 18 are not easy to find and often the ones I found didn’t take our insurance. We paid the full hourly fee out-ot-pocket for years because we found someone very caring and open to working with our child. He left to go teach and we found another doc only to have him leave the practice shortly after we began to see him and  nobody stepped in to replace him.  I could go on with the stories but you get my drift – I think- i hope.  We are lucky that we could afford it- and we are blessed we haven’t been in the situations I mentioned above but I know of people who have been. Friends it’s a mess. 

The other day President Trump said that when people see dangerous behavior or strange behavior that they must report it. I know of families that did report that their children were becoming a danger to themselves or others only to be turned away. And worse –  At the ER the staff will often look at cases like these and if the parents ask for the child to be admitted- and refuse to take the child home – begging for someone to help – the staff at the hospital might call Child Protective Services or they might spell out what CPS might tell the family…you must take your child home – we have no bed- we cannot help – they don’t meet the criteria- they are too dangerous for XYZ facility – if you don’t take your child home then you will be charged with child abandonment and neglect. The very parents who are trying to get help for their child – the very ones who might feel fear of their raging teen but who still want ot help this child will be charged with neglect if they refuse to take this raging child home. Who is be neglectful really? It is our system.

So the very system that the President is asking people to depend on and report things to is broken and has turned away many people young and old that need attention.  I know the health care providers don’t want this but their hands are tied. This has to stop because those kids or adults who have ben turned away time after time will not be helped and we can expect to see more violence because of this. 

With the closing of many longer term intensive mental health care facilities in the latter half of the last century we see less beds and more doors closed for the mentally ill especially our youth.  Hospitals simply cannot meet the demands that are now placed upon them to handle severe mental health cases. And that leaves so many with no means of help.  What a tragedy.

So with the failure of our mental health system to meet the needs of the mentally ill population the people who need to be in a mental hospital will not be in one. So our gun laws will fail because the only way to fail the mental health part of a gun check to acquire a gun is to have been committed to a mental hospital.

Right now, under federal law, a person can be tallied in a database and barred from purchasing or possessing a firearm due to a mental illness under two conditions: if he is involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, or if a court or government body declares him mentally incompetent (ref 1). So if you have a mental health issue but have not been committed or found incompetent you won’t be in that database that is searched for that red flag.  
So how does all this get fixed?  I venture to say it will never ever be full proof. But still things need to improve. Admitting to and then addressing the issues that plague our mental health system is a start. In the meantime let’s get some rational gun laws on the books. Personally, I do not like the high powered rifles and feel they should be banned but that is just my opinion and not a popular one- so in spirit compromise I thought of the following that could be put into place-

–Don’t sell guns of any type to anyone under the age of 21. Many states have a legal drinking age of 21 for a reason. Why not enforce the age 21 for gun purchases too?

–Don’t sell high powered weapons to anyone under the age of 30. Ok I know people are like What? That is not fair! Well if we take into consideration the maturation process of the brain – it has been studied a lot- and it’s proven that as we reach our latter 20’s our impulsivity declines. So perhaps by the latter 20’s a person may have better control over reactivity, better control over feelings and reasoning.  A more mature person might be inclined to use it for the right purposes. 

Maybe a young person with mental illness will be stopped from acting out in such a devestating way if we just make some effort to tighten up the laws to help protect the most precious among us.  

Now I am sure I will hear the argument  that if someone wants a gun they can find one…this might be true. But I think it might be safe to say that not all of these people who committed mass shootings would have obtained their guns illegally- some may have maybe all would have-but I doubt it  – but something has to give. If the gun laws change and nothing improves well then we know we are paddling up the wrong creek. And I won’t pontificate more on the other huge issue – our failing mental health system. Ive said enough here. 

One of the things that was spouted after this last shooting was that Cruz got his gun legally- but there are clearly gaps in the system that are causing problems. Lets be reasonable. I mentioned above I don’t want a gun ban. I dont hate guns. But I certainly do not feel that any of my children (I have two teen minors and one adult teen)should own a high powered rifle-they have no need for one -and I would venture to guess if you are reading this and you have kids you probably feel the same – ok so I know there are the outliers but I’m sure most of us don’t feel we need our 16 year old running around with an AR15. I am only trying to plead for some reasonable change in laws so we can better protect our schools and other public places – but especially our schools.

I have truly had enough. I read an article the other day about this last shooting in Florida and in the article a woman was interviewed while she and her husband were looking for their daughter. They had been reunited with their son but their daughter hadn’t turned up and wasn’t answering her cell phone. The mother knew the police often ask the kids in a lockdown situation to leave their backpacks in the school and to leave on foot. So she figured her daughter left the cellphone in her backpack. There was another rendevous point that was hard to get to – it was at a mall near the school I believe and her husband borrowed a bike to go to that mall to try to find her – but to no avail. That mom was fairly sure they would find her – she thought she must be with a friend or another parent…

…At the end of that piece was the news. The family confirmed later their daughter was among the 17 killed.

That shook me – my stomach fell- my heart jumped. I felt her hope in that interview. The hope only a parent can have when the alternative is too unthinkable. I can only imagine the horror and grief she felt when she found out her daughter was dead.

I have had enough. Haven’t you?