Be Happy, Coping, Family, Happiness, Home Sweet Home, Love, Relationships, Togetherness, travel, Uncategorized

Togetherness

Well, the holidays are officially here, and I am now ready to celebrate with the decorations, food, and Christmas music…..not a bit too early!

This Christmas is one I am looking forward to.  I always do, but this year, Al and I are hoping to make a trip to Kansas City to see my three children, my grandson, at least one of my sisters, and maybe a few other family members.  My son will be home from the Navy, so I am anxious to see him, and spend time with my girls.  I am one of five daughters, and my parents were each one of five children, so we have a pretty big family.  But I haven’t seen any of them since July, 2015, and it was for less than 48 hours, since we were there for my nephew’s wedding, and then went to spend a week in New York.  It has been over five years since I have seen all three of my children together at once.  Think about that for a minute…..going years without seeing your family…….as different as my sisters and I are, I still love and miss them every day.  I haven’t seen my best friends (and won’t on this trip either) for 2 1/2-5 years or longer.  I love and miss them terribly too.  I do have a couple of uncles, aunts, and cousins who live about an hour from here, but we don’t see them very often.  It’s nice to have some family a little bit close though.

Since Al moved here in 2014, we have been to New York to see his mother and sister three times, and he has gone twice by himself.  He has been to Miami with his friends from Sweden three times.  We’ve been to Orlando to see his father three times.  We’ve been to Sweden.  We’ve also taken a couple of trips to New Orleans, and a short honeymoon cruise, but the focus the last 3 1/2 years has been to make sure he gets to see his family (especially his parents) and friends, after spending so long living out of the country.  Now we have an opportunity to go to Kansas City, between Christmas and New Year’s, and it’s all I can think about.  Kansas City is beautiful during the holidays, and I will get to see my “babies!”

I have friends living all over the country.  But, as women, most of us don’t take the time to take many getaways on our own.  At least, that’s been the case with me and most of my friends.  We have our jobs and responsibilities with our homes, children or pets, and don’t feel like we can take a break from it all.  I’m usually the one making sure everyone has what they need, and I forget to think about what I need.  I’m trying to do better with that.  It’s hard for me to do without feeling selfish.  Since funds are tight, and now with my health conditions, I can’t exactly justify taking off for a week or weekend to hang out with my friends by myself.  Traveling alone wouldn’t be a good idea because of everything going on physically with me.  I’ve been working very hard at school and also trying to get started in the real estate business, to try to get us a little bit ahead.  Frankly, between that, and all of the medical crap I deal with, I’m worn out, and need a change of scenery.  Maybe someday, I can travel alone again, but not now.

While I love living in a warm climate (even though they are predicting snow this Friday!), and it’s much easier on my arthritis, sometimes I need a break too.  Hopefully, I can get a much needed break to see some of the people I love and miss.  And what better time to do it than at Christmas in Kansas City?

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Acceptance, Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Being Strong, Coping, Courage, Invisible Illness, Just Breathe, Laughter, Love, Passion for Living, Thankfulness, That's life, Uncategorized, Unexpected Life Events

Just Keep Going…

It’s been 130  days since my AN diagnosis.  Since then, I’ve been through loads of doctor appointments (I’ve lost count), a variety of tests, another diagnosis of an infection in my mastoid bones (behind my ears), which seems to be resistant (I’ve been on 4 different antibiotics so far), and a seizure.  I’m now on anti-seizure meds, and a few things to try to control my headaches.  This seems to be the new “normal” for me, and we just keep hoping for the best with each appointment.

I try not to miss any work.  I’ve actually only missed 3 days out of 70 so far this year, and have taken an early leave here and there for doctor appointments.  I also go in early almost every day……a habit I’ve had for a very long time.  I know if I sit at home, I would get depressed…..something that is easy to do with any illness.  I don’t want to add depression to the list of conditions and symptoms.  Besides, I love my students, and appreciate that this is probably the best class I’ve ever taught!  I guess I need them right now.  They let me know how much they love me, and how much they care about me.  They tell me constantly that they love me, they hug me, they make pictures for me, are pretty well behaved, and they understand that sometimes I can’t get up too fast!  I told them about my recent EEG, and they enjoyed imagining their silly teacher with the 25 electrodes coming off of her head.

I don’t let a lot of people see me when I’m feeling bad.  I have learned to manage that very well.  The teacher who teaches next door to me, Tamesa, has become such a great friend.  We vent, laugh, cry, and support each other every day!  She is one of the few who sees me holding my hurting head, or can tell by the look on my face that I’m in pain, and knows what is going on, without me having to say anything.  It’s nice to have a friend/co-worker like that, but she also understands my fierce independence, and knows when I just need to push through.

I have had people ask me how I do it.  How do I keep going?  The commute? Teaching 1st graders? The work load? One of my husband’s friends in New York said in his thick NY accent, “She’s a troopah!” Well, what choice do I have?  Like I said before, I don’t want to sit home and get depressed, having no interaction with anyone.  While I might need more rest now, I still believe that I can manage this more effectively by continuing to keep busy, and keep a normal schedule. And…..I don’t want to give up my way of life.  I don’t want to get old before my time.  Young at heart = hopefulness and positivity.

I have seen people with chronic illnesses give up, go on disability, stay home, and become old before their time.  If you know anything about me, you know I have a sense of adventure and fun, and a curiosity to learn about people and places.  I love travel.  I love museums.  I’m not old enough to give up that part of myself.  I might stumble a bit here and there.  I might not hear everything, especially in a noisy room.  I might be hypersensitive to loud noises.  I might have headaches.  I might feel pressure in my ear and head.  I might have vertigo that makes life feel extra wobbly.  I might have to be more aware of the signs (auras) of an impending seizure.  I might have to eventually have surgery. But my life will not stop being enjoyable because I have a chronic illness! I refuse to give in to this.  I guess this is where my stubbornness pays off!

Over the last 130 days, I have learned so much.  I’ve learned that I am much stronger and more determined than I ever realized.  I’ve learned that I keep my balance better if I give myself more time and turn on lights!  I’ve learned that my husband is a jewel (I actually already knew this, but he has just confirmed it, as he helps me up every morning so I don’t fall, reminds me to be careful, and is understanding and supportive with my fatigue and limitations).  I’ve learned who really cares about me, and who is there to support me on this journey, wherever it leads me.  Fortunately, there are a lot of people supporting me that I never knew cared so much!  I’ve learned that naps are not only enjoyable, but they really do help!  I’ve learned a lot about two illnesses that I have, that I never dreamed would affect me.  I’ve learned to really appreciate small acts of kindness, quiet moments, fresh air, a good laugh, a walk, and all of the positive things in life.  I want to be the best me I can be for my children, who I know have been worried and scared through this.  I want them to enjoy their silly mama, who loves to laugh and embarrass them in public.  I want to be the best me for my husband, who shows me his strength every day, but I know he worries and gets scared from all of this too.

So the last 130 days of knowing what is wrong with me has been an emotional and physical roller coaster, but I appreciate what it has given me.  Things can always be worse!  I can do this…..with a few adjustments and a lot of support from those who love me.  I’m not ready to give up anything yet…..and I won’t.

Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Coping, Crying, Emotions, Family, Kindness, Laughter, Love, Mother, Passion for Living, Thankfulness, Uncategorized

My Mama

Eighty-six years ago, my grandmother was escorted to a hospital in Peiping, China (now Beijing) in an ambulance, by a military escort because the city was under martial law. No one was allowed to be on the streets because of fighting with the Japanese. She gave birth to my mother, Mary Joan Slater (Mary Jo) shortly after.  Yes, my mother was born in China.  My grandparents were medical missionaries in China in the 1930’s.  My mother’s first language was Chinese.  Her first “family” were the other missionaries and the Chinese people they knew.  Her first school was in Nantung.  Her first HOME was China.

On December 26, 1940, the family was evacuated on the last ship out of China, after the Japanese warned that if they did not leave, they would become prisoners of war.  It was hard to leave everything they knew and loved there, but the Slaters (now with my Uncle Bill and Aunt Joy added to the family) left for the United States.  My mother was painfully shy, and was so afraid to move not only to a new school, but to a new country.  My grandpa enlisted in the Army, and was gone for a few years, which was very hard on them, but so typical of a lot of families during WWII.

Meeting and marrying my father in college was the best decision she ever made.  She was barely 19, and they eloped because her parents wanted her to finish college first.  Fortunately, it all worked out, and my parents were married for 52 years before her death in 2002. I’m pretty sure both sides of the family were in a state of shock, but they soon realized the union was a perfect match.  Both sets of grandparents were very good to each of my parents.

Mama was the perfect minister’s wife.  She was so kind, sweet, smart, honest, and compassionate.  She truly was one of the nicest people I’ve ever known….even through my horrible teenage years, where we didn’t see eye to eye!  She was silly, a little spacey….I know where I get it…….and so much fun to be around.  She was always willing to let down her guard to have a good time, especially as she got older.  Tea parties and pretending with the grandchildren, “antiquing” and going out for tea with her five daughters, and playing with her dolls and her beautiful dollhouse (built by my Grandpa Penry and my father).  I’ve never known anyone who could claim “cleaning” as a hobby, but she could! Her younger brothers, Butch and Chuck, could talk her into anything, even though it was rarely in her best interest!  Rides on the back of motorcycles, and going down my grandparents’ driveway on a homemade go-cart (made from an old ironing board) were just two of the things they talked her into, and she regretted later.  On a few other occasions, she made crazy decisions all on her own……swinging on a vine or a tire swing, and jumping on a trampoline when she was well into her 60’s……..as embarrassed as she was later about these things, she always had the childlike innocence to look for fun.  As mature and composed as she usually was, she still had the ability and desire to look for fun.

My mother was also very strong.  She had to go to work after being a stay at home mom for years.  My father had been sick, and my sisters needed glasses and braces.  Bills were accumulating.  She learned to drive at the same time as my 16 year old sister.  Right after getting her drivers’ license (at the age of 38), she went to work as a social worker, where she had to commute (not easy for someone who had just learned to drive!).  Social work is a tough job, but she did it for a lot of years! She lost both of her parents and a younger brother, and even though she couldn’t talk about them without crying, she kept going, showing her love for them through her memories of them…..and her tears.

Being a minister’s wife was not always easy either, but she loved and supported Daddy through every difficult situation (including the Civil Rights Movement in Arkansas in the 1960’s). She always taught Sunday School, and I know she impacted hundreds of young lives through her own ministry.  She and Daddy were definitely each other’s biggest supporter and the best of friends.  They made a great team!

So Mama has been gone for nearly 15 years now, and today would have been her 86th birthday.  It’s not easy for me, but I always celebrate her birthday by eating Chinese food, and usually go to an antique store and drink a cup of tea.  Tonight, Al came home with roses for me, in Mama’s honor……..

I know I will never be as good as she was, but I can always strive to be better than I am.  She had a way of saying my name, or giving me a look, or poking her finger in my side to get me to behave! Sometimes I swear I can feel that same poke, or hear her say my name…….you know, when your middle name gets tacked on the end when you’re in trouble…..”Lauri Ann!”  I know I inherited her sense of fun, and I am grateful to her for that, along with so many other things.  I know when I do something that seems a bit….airheaded……it’s her way of getting back at me for laughing at her for doing similar things!  My sisters and I refer to these times as “Mary Jo moments.”

My mama was a pretty special lady.  She led a fascinating life from her beginnings in China to her years as a minister’s wife, a mother, and a grandmother.  I miss her every day.  But today, I celebrate her, and the time I had with her.  I’m very lucky.  I love you, Mama.

 

Anxiety, Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Coping, Happiness, Loneliness, Negativity, Social Isolation, Support, Uncategorized

Start Taking Care of YOU!

Isolation, whether physical or emotional, can be a lonely place.  Sometimes we become isolated by choice, and other times, we are forced into isolation by our circumstances. When this happens, it’s important to make some changes so we don’t lose our minds!  I have known people who have isolated themselves socially.  They have become angry, negative and suspicious of everyone and everything.  It’s incredibly unhealthy.

For the last few months, I have found myself becoming more and more isolated because of circumstances.  I think women have a tendency to do this more than men, because we take on so many roles and feel responsible for everyone’s happiness and well being.  We are care givers by nature, so we put our needs and wants after those we care about.  I don’t like being a burden, nor do I like having anyone worry about or pity me, but sometimes we need someone to take care of us, and consider our needs. Between work, studying, being sick, going to doctor appointments, having medical tests, commuting, shopping for groceries, cooking dinner, and trying to pay bills on a teacher’s salary, I will admit, I have neglected to take the time to do things I enjoy.  It’s something I’ve struggled with my entire adult life, especially after I became a mother.  Al has been able to go to New York to see his mother and family, and last weekend he was in Miami with a couple of friends while I waited out Hurricane Nate with the dog.  Just to be clear, these trips were compliments of his family and friends, so it wasn’t like we were footing the bill for it.  If we could afford it, I would be making sure to take a trip here and there too, and make sure we have time for trips together!

I’ve never been one to take a spa day….it’s not really my thing. I will get an occasional pedicure, but can’t stand manicures (it’s a creepy feeling).  I’ve also never been one who likes to just sit around doing nothing.  There is always something free to do if money is an issue.  While I’m not a fan of large crowds because of my social anxiety, I do enjoy gatherings with friends and family.  I’m not a big shopper because it stresses me out to spend money, and I can’t find a lot that I like that fits my weird little body!  I like to work out, but my physical condition has limited this recently. While I live in “paradise,” a change of scenery would be nice occasionally.  A nice day or weekend road trip would be great……who doesn’t like a little road trip, even if you have no plans…..just hop in the car and go!

There are a lot of museums and historic places in our area.  My parents instilled in me a love of learning about the past, and an appreciation for art and culture. I need to take advantage of these places.  I also enjoy just sitting at a pub drinking cold beer, eating pizza, wings, or some Gulf shrimp, and talking with friends.  I need to be doing these things more often.  Even if I am tired from my work week, I need to make sure I am doing things to get a change of scenery, and to keep from feeling isolated.  I do not want to become one of those angry, bitter, suspicious people I talked about earlier.

I need to take better care of myself, and take better care of my own needs.  Every woman does.  If you don’t have someone to do things with, then go by yourself.  You will still have a change of scenery, and you may even learn something.  Don’t wait for someone to do it with you, or to make plans for you.  Just get up and go.  Social isolation isn’t healthy, and it’s up to you to do something about it.  Don’t let it take over, making you miserable. Take care of you first!  Your loved ones will appreciate it.

“Solitude, isolation, are painful things and beyond human endurance” —Jules Verne

 

 

Be Kind, Bleeding Kansas, Chicken Annie's, Coping, Growing up, Happiness, Home Sweet Home, Kindness, Passion for Living, Respect, Uncategorized, You can't go back again

Thankful for Small Town Roots

Last week I learned of the death of another childhood classmate from my hometown in Kansas.  It seems like there’s been so many…..I’ve actually lost count.  For a small class, it’s been a lot.  These are the people I grew up with, and even though I moved away before graduating with them, they still mean a lot to me, and we share so many of the same experiences of growing up in a small town.

There is so much anger and hatred in our world right now. and the loss of this classmate has made me yearn for a simpler time, and a time when things seemed easier.  Growing up in a small town in the Midwest had it’s pros and cons, but I hold so many wonderful memories from that time.

My hometown, at one time, truly did feel like Mayberry.  It was an historic old railroad town in Southeast Kansas, about an hour from Kansas City, and an hour from Joplin.  It was divided down the middle of town by a highway and railroad tracks….the division having racially motivated reasons dating back to the 1800’s, and the time of “Bleeding Kansas” and the John Brown raids.  It had a dark history of racism (for more on this, look up the author/poet/photographer/director Gordon Parks, and the movie “The Learning Tree”). Yet, in the 70’s, I wasn’t aware of that dark past so much.  I had both black and white friends.  They were restoring the Fort from the 1840’s, had beautiful old Victorian homes, brick streets, and a quaint downtown.  It still has one of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever seen, Gunn Park.  It had two elementary schools (one on the east side, one on the west), a junior high, which sat prominently in the middle of town, and a big old high school, which is now gone.

The town was a bit run down in some areas, had it’s nicer neighborhoods, but it was safe just about everywhere you went.  It was safe to ride our bikes, go for walks, and explore. One of my friends and I used to walk to the end of our street, which was a dead end, and we would climb down the embankment to play at the river banks while our parents were at work.  I could walk to my father’s office at the church where he was a minister, only a few blocks away.  My mother’s office was a block from his office.  I could walk downtown to the library, to stores, and to the movies.  On Saturdays, another friend and I would meet at a certain corner, and we would walk to the library, then go buy a lot of candy with our little bit of allowances we had. In the summer, I would walk or ride my bike to the swimming pool.

The people in our church were wonderful.  Because my father was the minister, we were invited to so many homes for Sunday dinner, on trips to Kansas City, or to our favorite chicken restaurant, Chicken Annie’s (Southeast Kansas is known for it’s chicken restaurants!).  My sisters and I had babysitting jobs for many families in our church.  Our doctor and dentist both went to our church.  My piano teacher was our organist. Everyone knew everyone, or had some sort of connection to them.

Going back there today is different.  My parents and almost all of their friends are now gone.  The church is closed.  It isn’t safe in a lot of areas.  The old homes are in disrepair.  The brick streets are not in great shape.  The downtown is empty and sad.  Most of the manufacturers are gone.  Walmart is the biggest store in town…….

Even though I know we can’t live in the past, and I’m glad I don’t live there today, I do miss a lot of that innocence today.  People really cared about each other.  Small towns are not for me at this point in my life, and I’m glad my parents showed me that there was a world out there through travel and books, but growing up in a small town in the 1970’s was special.  I didn’t realize then what a wonderful thing it was.  I raised my own children there too, but it was already changing, and it wasn’t the same.

Life was easier then.  Times were easier, or seemed to be.  Maybe it was just easier for parents to protect their children from the cruel world without the influences of 24 hour news and social media.  Sometimes I really miss the days when I had no worries, plenty of friends, my parents, a kinder, safer world…….  We can’t go back, and we can’t bring back those we’ve lost.  We can only be more appreciative of each other, treat each other with respect,  be kind to each other, and not take anyone or anything for granted.  Life is too short to not appreciate who and what we have in front of us.  It might not be there tomorrow.

 

Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Coping, Crazy Dreams, Happiness, Laughter, Making life interesting, Sleep talking, Sleep texting, Sleep walking, Uncategorized

The Manatees Drank All the Beer, and Other Sleep Walking Adventures

Living with me is a chore.  I’m not too moody….in fact, I’m pretty positive and fun-loving most of the time.  I’m not too messy (I used to be)…..except for a bit of dust and mail on my dining room table.  I’m pretty helpful if you need something.  I’m a decent cook.  I guess I should say living with me when I’m ASLEEP is the chore!

I shared a room with one of my sisters when I was little.  She and I both have struggled with sleep issues.  Crazy dreams, talking, walking……you just never know what might happen!  As I’ve gotten older, my issues seem to have escalated, especially when I’m stressed. Maybe I carry it with me more in my subconscious because during the day, I am more happy go lucky, not letting too much get to me.

My dreams are usually pretty entertaining, involving celebrities (dead and alive), traveling, old songs, and me saving the world.  Yes, I have that power…..didn’t know that about me, did you? My mother used to ask me what I ate before going to bed, thinking that caused it.  I talk about food, pets, and in the last few years, I’ve even started texting in my sleep….and it’s WEIRD stuff, such as: “If we could just plan it right, I could grow new thumbs!” “When I’m on the floor, the puppies can bring me the cheese, bracelets, and hearing aids,” and “The manatees drank all the beer.”  This is only a fraction of what I’ve done over the course of my lifetime.  I used to get embarrassed about it, but now, like other things in life I can’t control, I embrace it, and have fun with it.

The most concerning thing I do, but also entertaining at times, is sleepwalking.  That seems to be getting worse.  I don’t think I’m on any type of schedule with this, but I do relate it to stress.  Al usually stays up later than I do, and he can hear me doing what he calls, “the midnight shuffle,” coming down the hallway, shuffling my feet.  Sometimes he doesn’t hear me, and I surprise him though.  He used to get a little freaked out, but he’s used to it now, and just keeps me safe, walking me back to bed, sometimes with me talking to him.  Something I do quite often is try to go outside.  He has caught me multiple times either going out the front door or the back door.  There’s a couple of problems with this…..1) we have bears in our neighborhood, and 2) I don’t wear a whole lot when I’m asleep!  Now that would be something for the neighbors to talk about! Years ago, when I lived in Kansas, and was pretty stressed out, I actually drove the car while asleep.  The only reason I know this is because we always parked the car in the back of the house.  We lived on a busy street, and the driveway came down the alley and behind our house.  When I came downstairs in the morning, the car was parked in the front of the house, and I was the only one with a key!  I have no idea if I went anywhere, or just moved the car!  My kids started hiding the keys from me.  I have also woken up in the car a time or two, but not in the driver’s seat.  When Al has been out of town, I have gotten up and straightened up the living room, then tipped the couch over on its back (after having recently had major surgery!).  I have turned on lights and the television.  I can carry on a conversation in my sleep, and not remember anything about it the next day.

I don’t know what causes this, but it’s something I’ve always lived with…..or, maybe I should say that others have had to live with!  I don’t remember much about it!  I suppose it can be a very dangerous thing, but so far, it’s been something to laugh about, and what is life without laughter?  And if we can’t laugh at ourselves, then where is the fun?

Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Coping, Fear, Happiness, Invisible Illness, Just Breathe, Passion for Living, Support, Uncategorized

Coping Through Fear and Uncertainty

The last couple of months I have been dealing with an issue that I have been afraid to write about.  Actually, up until a couple of weeks ago, every time I talked about it, I would cry, but I am learning to deal with this more comfortably, or as comfortably as possible, so maybe writing about it will be therapeutic…..I have a brain tumor.  THAT is a very difficult thing to say (or write).

After a couple of years of dealing with vertigo off and on (mostly when I was tired, or the lighting was low), headaches, tinnitus, balance issues, and noticing some hearing loss last school year, I finally have answers, following some medical tests.  Our trip to Europe seemed to intensify the symptoms…..I guess from the pressure during the flight?  I tried to pass it off as fatigue or jet lag, but deep down, I knew something wasn’t right.  I felt horrible most of the time we were there.  After we got back, the symptoms didn’t go away.  On July 25th, I was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma, which is a tumor on the main nerve going to my ear.  My husband was in New York visiting his family at the time of my diagnosis, so I was alone, and very afraid when I found out.  I told him over the phone……  I called my three children, and cried while I told them.  They’ve all been very sweet and understanding, very supportive, and patient with my emotions.  I emailed my four sisters, and they were very supportive. They told me not to worry because they would worry enough for me.  I texted my friends because I didn’t want to cry while telling them.  I texted my pastor.

Basically, this thing has probably been with me for awhile.  It’s not malignant, and it’s very slow growing. For now, it’s small (1.7 cm), and we are lucky to have caught it at this stage.  It’s obviously big enough to be causing some serious problems……….headaches, vertigo, balance, tinnitus, pressure, hearing loss, noise sensitivity, fatigue…….but we have chosen to watch it to see if it is still growing, and if so, at what pace.  If I were younger,  and if the location were different, the approach may be different.  Two of the main concerns are total hearing loss and facial paralysis (it pushes against the facial nerve), and of course, if it is left completely untreated, it can cause death.  It does not grow into the brain, as a malignant tumor would.  As it grows, it pushes against the brain and brain stem.

It’s a rare condition, but I actually have two friends who have had this same thing.  Their tumors were larger, and they were younger, and they each had different treatments. Each one was left with problems resulting from the surgery…..facial paralysis, total hearing loss, epilepsy…..and have a lot of the same symptoms that I have which surgery and/or radiation didn’t eliminate.  My doctors want to wait to see if it is growing before making the decision to go in after it.  If I can learn to manage the symptoms I have, and it isn’t growing, my symptoms may never get worse…..but they won’t get any better.  If I have surgery and/or radiation, there is a risk that these symptoms may get worse.

I have had to do some soul searching throughout this.  I was very depressed at first.  I have had to count my blessings though. There was so much uncertainty before the diagnosis.  Was it MS?  Parkinsons?  Cancer? No, no, and no, and now I have an answer, even if it is scary.  I’ve done a lot of research, talked to my doctor, and also consulted with my friends who have been through this. I’ve decided I have to accept what I have in front of me, make adjustments to my lifestyle, position myself in places where I can hear, try to avoid loud noises (my principal will give me a heads up before those screeching fire alarms go off during drills…..that feels like being stabbed in the ear drum with an ice pick!), get up more slowly, don’t turn too fast, take aspirin for my headaches, be careful while walking or standing, especially in low lighting (the vertigo and balance problems are extreme for me in low lighting), fall asleep with the television or fan on to drown out the tinnitus, get plenty of rest, do more yoga, avoid stress, etc. etc. etc. I definitely don’t have time for anything petty, negative, or dramatic.  I’ve never liked those situations anyway, but now I have a legitimate reason to avoid it and brush it aside!  My health depends on it.

I have decided that if I am to completely come to terms with this, I need to make peace with it.  This is the best way for me to stay positive and be able to face it….as I always do…..with humor. The tumor needed a name.  I thought about Tammy, but since that is one of my sisters, I knew it wouldn’t go over very well (she agreed)! So I have named her Tina, and damn it, Tina and I will be friends, whether she likes it or not!  My children and Al make fun of me for my hearing loss, but that’s okay.  What I think I hear is usually way more entertaining than what they’re saying!  For instance, today at work, they announced that the latchkey program would be meeting in the “portable.”  Well, I heard “toilet bowl.”  What I heard was a lot funnier!!!!

I am so thankful to my children, Lily,  Evan, and Grace, who check on me regularly (even when Evan is in the middle of the ocean on his ship in the Navy, he checks on his mama), keeping my spirits up.  I am thankful to my doctors and modern medicine! I am thankful to my wide circle of friends from California, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Alabama, Florida Europe, and South America…….it makes me emotional thinking about how much support they’ve given me! I am thankful for my sisters, who keep me laughing with their quirky emails (I’m not the only quirky one), my cousin Danny (who happened to be the first person I told because he just happened to reach out to me after I got my diagnosis).  I’m thankful for my church family who has prayed for me, and has checked on me when we have been able to get there.  I’m thankful for my friends at work who have kept my “little” secret until I have been strong enough to talk about it, and have helped me. I’m thankful for my little dog, Andy, who snuggles with me, giving me comfort and kisses! And most of all, I am thankful for my dear sweet husband, Al.  I know that he is probably more worried and scared than he lets on.  But he is so strong for me.  I’ve lost count how many times I have fallen, and he patiently helps me back up, making sure I’m okay and steady on my feet before letting me go.  Falling like a two year old is very humbling!  Through my headaches, emotions, and all of the financial strain I’ve put on us with this…..he is my ROCK. We may have found each other late in life, but I know that I couldn’t go through this without him.  I don’t have my parents anymore, but I have some very good people in my life!  I am the luckiest girl in the world…….

Life is a party……face it head on, embrace it, and enjoy every minute of it!