names have been omitted in this post
I waited for my Internist to come in the exam room… why did you always seemingly have to wait so long once you were back in those tiny examining rooms? As usual I had forgotten to bring a magazine with me and was forced to wait without anything to look at. Sitting perched on the end of the exam table my eyes glazed over from boredom. Yawn… I could seriously fall asleep right now… and I felt bad enough to. I was about ready for a hospital bed.
Soon he entered the room and after discussing what was going on with my health he spoke…
"I will be straightforward with you." he said, his facial expression serious on his older, wiser face. He ran his hand through his white hair and spoke with a frustrated sigh… "I really don't know what is going on. I have no idea what you have. I fail to understand how a thirty something female who is otherwise healthy could suddenly be diagnosed with not just severe acid reflux but now asthma. It doesn't add up."
My shoulders slumped and I watched him as he seemed to be thinking about what to do next.
"The first course of business is to get you a chest x-ray. Immediately. That will hopefully rule out anything going on with your lungs." He told me, now pacing the small room in thought. "I want to get you an appointment with a specialist for testing… and get you in to see someone I know at Southwestern Medical. If after all that we still don't know what is going on… the next place will be Mayo Clinic." He paused and turned to me… "I don't know what's wrong. But I will find out." He promised me with conviction.
Hope began to well within me and my eyes sparkled with half tears, half hope "Thank you." I told him softly with infinite gratitude.
He was literally my last hope.
I was so worried… I was losing weight faster than you could boil water on the stove… I was having more and more difficulty breathing as each day passed. Meanwhile I could barely eat anything because it was comparable to having a really stuffed up nose during a cold… that symptom makes it nearly impossible to eat and breathe at the same time. You can usually do either or…. but not both. I couldn't eat much not just due to the acid reflux but because for whatever reason I couldn't breath when I ate… and really not much easier the rest of the time. It was beyond puzzling and had come out of nowhere…. progressively getting worse as the weeks then few months passed.
Initially I had gone to see my allergy doctor since I was having difficulty breathing and he also treated asthma. His natural course of action had been to load me up on prednisone… which left me with potentially ugly side effects and I was worried as the meds seemed to be merely masking the issue temporarily due to the moment the medication wore off... I was gasping for air again. This clearly wasn't the solution, I was realizing… as my breathing issue appeared to be coming from my throat… not my chest as with asthma.
I was at the end of my rope. I had dropped more than twenty pounds in just a few short months, was too weak to cross a parking lot or work any longer… I was basically bedridden and my friends had no idea how truly ill I was. The computer screen behind my doctor flashed the words "underweight" in red and I barely recognized myself any longer. He told me if I didn't begin gaining weight immediately he was admitting me to the hospital. This appointment with him had occurred after a hard realization I was on my own. Just the day before I had sat in my kitchen begging my husband to take me to the doctor. He merely yelled for me to take more medication… more prednisone and do what my doctor had told me to do.
"But I'm not getting better!" I cried to him "It's not helping! I don't even think this is asthma! My gut instinct tells me it's not! If it's not treating the right thing I'm just getting pumped up with lots of steroids and albuterol I don't even need!" I exclaimed. "I need you to take me to the doctor!" I told him, practically begging, each word costing me precious amounts of energy.
"No! I'm not taking you! Just do what he says!" He yelled at me grouchily.
I literally felt like I was dying… and he was useless. I had no idea how much worse I would get before I ever got better. I would reach a point where I'd tell my mother: "I just want to die. I can't do this anymore."
"Take me to the hospital..." I told him pleadingly. "Right now. Please... take me to the hospital." I repeated looking up at him.
He stared down at me "Do you know how much that will cost??!!!" He yelled at me.
I stared at him with empty hollowed eyes too exhausted to reply. I had never felt this weak in my life… I'd felt slightly stronger with the flu or a severe stomach bug.
"That will cost me two thousand dollars!!! That's how much it will cost!!!!" He screamed at me.
I closed my eyes.
And I wept.
He stormed off slamming the door behind him.
It would be later the chest x-ray showed my lungs were thankfully clear. After a battery of tests called the Methacholine Challenge showed definite breathing issues but ruled out asthma… I was referred to a Specialist who listened carefully to my symptoms and upon hearing the restrictive breathing was coming from my throat… not chest he nodded… "You have something called Vocal Chord Dysfunction. It's when we see severe acid reflux washing up over the vocal chords and damaging them. They become inflamed and won't open properly like they should upon inhalation and speaking. So you feel out of breath. " He affirmed with a nod and looked at me understandingly "This is why you're having so many problems… but this is nothing that can't be helped. We need to do several things… first, treat your acid reflux with a proton pump inhibitor. The over-the-counter stuff doesn't do enough in these severe cases. The other thing we need to do is get you on some Singulair… that will help. I want you to do voice therapy… I'll give you a referral. This will help you in getting your breathing and voice back on track… the acid is causing your voice to become strained and raspy as well." He added. He told me it would take time and for now I needed to focus on rest and eating to gain my weight and strength back… but that with time… likely two to three months I should begin to get back to a normal functioning life. He also gave me one other suggestion… to lose any stress in my life. I nodded… he had no idea that would require removing a near six foot person.
It would take about three months to get back to almost normal… more small improvements were made each day… and it would take going to voice therapy each week for a whole year… but it was worth it… I truly felt my voice therapist was my angel in disguise… and both my doctors as well… I believe God places certain people in our lives for a reason.
"I was furious with him… " My mother told me… "I was worried sick."
"He was seemingly more worried about what it would cost." I observed. "I just know I can't do that again. I won't do that again. When you love somebody you jump through hoops, you run through fire, you do anything you have to… to help them. The thing is… I would have done it for him. If he'd been that weak and begging to go to the hospital I would have bundled him up and gotten him there. Heck, he'd have been there way before it got that bad. I would have demanded answers. That's the vow you take… in sickness and in health… when you make it you stand by it. You can't sway on it when someone gets sick… if things fall apart… in health and sickness you have to be there for the other person. They are truly counting on their spouse to step up for them when they can't. Then doing just that.
That to me… is true love."
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014
For more information on Vocal Cord Dysfunction click here
names have been omitted from this post
I checked my email and looked for new alerts to the single site I had signed up for… okay, technically, sites. I did a huffy breath like the character Junie B Jones does in the books my daughter likes me to read to her at bedtime as I scrolled through the alerts I had in my inbox.
"Humph…" I huffed and slipped my iPhone into the inside pocket of my purse.
My mother glanced over at me.
"You ready to go?" she asked me.
"Yep." I replied and we left, slipping into her car. As we backed down the drive onto the street she spoke "So? You didn't say anything. Did you get anybody new?" She asked.
I said with a laugh, leaning down to rummage through my bag for my chapstick. I slicked on some cherry flavored Chapstick and checked it in the visor mirror then flipping it upward. Tucking the chapstick back in my purse I spoke, "Now I'm getting twenty-two year olds. Their either sixty year olds or now twenty something's. Nothing in between. What am I? Mrs. Robinson? This is insane." I rolled my eyes and watched out the window as she made a right turn pulling onto the main thoroughfare. "Seriously, I want my money back. There should be a guarantee on those sites that you'll meet someone. The only guy my age I've interacted with behaved like a wierdo."
"What was up with him?" she asked, frowning as she switched lanes.
I reached down and picked up the small bottle of lotion resting in the cup holder nearby and began dispensing cool creamy lotion into the palm of my left hand "We were messaging, right? He asks me what I did that day. I tell him I worked then went on a walk at the park… you know, exercise?" I nod at her and she affirms that that sounds normal enough. "Well, then… he replies with 'Ugh! Yuck! I don't go outside!'… yeah, that was it. The whole conversation. So I moved on. I mean, who doesn't go outside?! His profile picture? Get this!… He was outside!!! Oh my Lord, seriously. I guess he went out that one time and it nearly did him in. Holy cow, I needed a compress on my head after that interaction." I quipped and she laughed.
"I think you need a refund. I don't see you finding anyone on those sites…" she murmured and smiled "I mean, you're better off just meeting someone."
"Yeah, probably so…" I admitted and paused in thought watching the traffic slow to a stop beside us at the next red light. Nearby were trendy lofts, hair salons and a gelato shop with hot neon lights in the window beckoning customers with it's open sign. I spoke "How do you find someone who likes Bogie movies, is athletic, drives a truck and opens the door like a gentleman but believes a woman should have equal rights and appreciates her spunk mixed with a pursuit of being a Proverbs 31 woman? A man who pursues Jesus, adores your softness and femininity and kind heart, your beauty within, but can also in the same sentence say with a smile 'You're ballsy' because he knows your spunk, fire, your spirit… and he genuinely loves it. Where do you find that man?" I asked thoughtfully aloud.
There was no reply.
We didn't have the answer.
But I hope one day I do.
You may be in the same position as I… wondering how you will meet that special someone. And then… after the fact, after you've "clicked" with them… wondering how you will do better this time around in a relationship… a marriage even. If you've been married before, perhaps your mis-steps of where you coulda, shoulda done better are glaringly obvious… as we all have something we can learn from… we all have the chance to learn from our past mistakes and apply learned lessons to our next relationship… as well with growth and maturity know what works and what obviously does not.
I've learned many lessons about marriage… and although I could write a book alone on what I've learned, I've come up with a short condensed list of the top five lessons. Some may prove to leave you nodding in agreement and some may have you pondering your own past experience in retrospect.
5 Lessons Learned From Marriage:
1. Spunk Is Fine…
But Not Unhealthy Communication
When you're angry… slamming doors and stomping (or yelling) off like a three year old does zero good for anyone. In the very early years of my marriage I was guilty of this and had to consciously work on actually communicating… articulating how I felt and not expecting my mind to be read. Thank God for overcoming! My strength has always been writing but learning to communicate verbally in a healthy manner (versus negative actions we may have had for examples as children) is incredibly vital to a successful relationship. Yes, sometimes we do need a mini break, absolutely and that's okay. But we can also do that in love… we can say "I need a time out. Be right back." and softly retreat, giving ourselves some time to not just calm down but to figure out exactly what we want/need to convey to our partner… taking a deep breath and then going back to our spouse ready to communicate in a constructive, loving manner.
2. If It's Really Important To You… Make Sure You Get It
I married someone who was not romantic. Someone who was perceptive and insightful suggested multiple times over the years to him to shower me with moments of romance… candles, bubble baths, home cooked meals made together… but those dreams never came to fruition. Was I disappointed? Yes, terribly… it's still something I yearn for. Many times I tried to broach the subject and tell him how I felt but change for the better never happened. Instead, I was met with grabbing and crass words of "Get your hot $%* over here!" I never want to go through that again. The alternative of being alone is preferable to that. As women we want someone who is tenderhearted toward us… who desires us, who is insightful, who sees us as their best friend, equal and lover. We need to be sure we are completely certain who we are marrying and not sway on what we deem as must haves.
3. He's Crazy + She's Co-Dependent = Unhealthy
Being too dependent. This is a known trait of women who attract men who are manipulative… these men prey knowing their target's kind nature and their tendency to put the relationship's importance/success ahead of their own self importance/worth... and these men use it to their own advantage. I had not spent enough time figuring out who I was before marrying. I also didn't create a niche of my own during my married years as I couldn't stand on my own two feet. To my own detriment and later in the wake of my divorce trying to quickly put my life together was enough to send anyone into near panic mode. It's imperative women don't allow themselves to "be home" all the time in the event he maybe decides to stroll in the door and make his presence. What are you doing with your time? With your life? Yes, if you're pursuing being a good wife and mother you naturally want to make a loving home the center of your focus. Being at home full time today is often viewed with disdain by society when at one time it was for privileged women. But it's so important for women to also have a balance… to not lose themselves and then find themselves in a precarious position later in their marriage… where they have no life of their own, especially in the possible demise of their marriage. What peaks your interest? Volunteering? Working part-time? Full time? Grow and develop yourself. Don't get yourself backed into a corner where you find yourself trying to save your partner's downfall or the relationship as a whole… be aware of these unhealthy patterns. Instead, find what gives you purpose outside the home so your husband does not become a crutch… dependency isn't love in the free sense but actually love cloaked in fear and invisible handcuffs.
4. A Partnership = A Marriage
Marriage is about having a partnership. It's about coming together in the good, challenging and even hard times. It's not about one person winning, having the upper hand, being fully in control. You will find times when you disagree… and maybe finally you agree to disagree on the subject at hand. In that case perhaps the subject should be dropped and re-approached later on… it's not right for one person to go ahead and make a choice. If a decision must be made… see if there is a middle road that can be reached… both parties should walk away from the conversation feeling good… not bullied into something they feel vehemently opposed to.
5. Appreciation: We Can Tailor It To Our Spouse
We may voice appreciation for our husbands and we know they love these words of love… but could we be a bit more specific? Instead of emitting a general statement of "You're such a great provider!"… maybe a better way would be specifically saying "Thank you for dealing with difficult clients at work and being our provider! I know everyday is not a picnic!" This tells him that you intimately understand the frustrations and workings in his world he encounters each day… whether it's disgruntled clients, customers who don't show up, a boss who behaves like a tyrant or even trying office politics amongst co-workers. When we give our husband concrete examples of what we observe him going through it reassures him that we truly know the hoops and hurdles he must navigate to be our shining hero out in the world each day. And that, ladies… brings a genuine smile to his face.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014
names have been omitted in this post
It had been another one of "those nights"… one where I had asked or "told" my son one too many times to go brush his teeth. Unfortunately by about the third or fourth time he'd had enough and stormed off to his bedroom. Moments later I heard the predictable bang! bang! bang! against his bedroom door. In the kitchen I stood at the counter gripping the edges with white fingers. Ugh… when does it ever stop?! I thought to myself. He'd had "fits" since he was about two and although when he was younger they initially appeared out of his control due to a lack of coping skills they had progressively changed to calculated, premeditated... purposeful.
For years I had prayed for change. I had cried for intervention, for help from above. For years I had spearheaded his advocacy and like a force to be reckoned with had determinedly sought help for him… therapies had abounded… tests had run the gamut, help had been had with speech, applied behavior analysis, sensory therapy, role-playing, educational aides, you name it… he'd done it. There had been medication after medication tried and yet nothing seemed to be the answer needed. There had been profound changes of improvement and reason to celebrate… and yet this issue of physical rage and defiance still remained… and not small issues at that. The issues had grown to monstrous proportions as he'd grown in strength and willpower and although his behavior had tamed at school for the most part thankfully… home still proved to be challenging.
Soon would come objects thrown against the door and walls. His die cast Thomas The Trains he'd clutched in his tiny hand at two and once upon a time happily carried in his pockets along with treasured rocks, Starburst and marbles were thrown against his door. Soon would come bigger objects like lamps, chairs and storage bins being hurled down the hallway toward the kitchen. You had two choices: ignore it or go confront it. Ignoring it meant having your home destroyed. Confronting it meant going into battle and physically trying to restrain him (or risk getting annihilated)… something that if you have lived this life yourself… you know it's not what you exactly pictured doing one day… it's the furthest thing you pictured dealing with when you had a mental picturesque snapshot of your family life.
Instead you're met with fists in your face, your son spitting at you, your arms being bitten, your foot stomped on, your stomach punched, your legs kicked and bruised... all because someone didn't want to comply with a simple task such as teeth brushing, taking a shower or going to bed at 8:30 p.m.
You try to stay strong… you keep trying to push forward, you keep telling yourself "It will get better"… but for whatever reason it only appears to get worse. You wonder why God is allowing this to happen. You sometimes wonder why this is your life… having a temporary pity party for one. You wonder why he is behaving this way… what is needed to change it… to help it and to conquer it. You're left baffled and wondering why it had to happen to your child, to your family… because it affects each of you. You see your daughter running frightened to her room to hide. You have to have talks with her of "If he goes into fit mode run to your room and lock the door." You wonder why on earth it's right for her to have to grow up like this. She tells you "I don't know why he acts like this. I didn't want a brother like this." You nod and hug her… because who could scold her for being honest? It's affected her life and you worry who she will choose one day because of it… because this is what she has always known… and it's not normal, you tell her. This is not healthy. Healthy families don't have this… you stress… because you don't want her to believe for a minute this is okay or acceptable.
The doorbell rings… it's dark, night has arrived and against my better judgment I had called him, my ex to come help. He stands on the porch in running shorts, a black Northface jacket and I let him in. He's accosted by the twinkle lights on the Christmas tree in the otherwise black room and stands awkwardly by it.
"Where is he?" He asks me and I nod toward our son's bedroom. He makes his way in there and I follow close on his heels. I take a seat on the mini cream papasan chair across the room from our son's twin sized bed draped in a navy comforter. His father sits on the bed beside him and pulls him into a bear hug… something so out of character for him. He plants kisses atop his brown head and speaks to him a low soothing tone dripping with manipulation… it could have been a scene straight from the Godfather… and I watched as it eerily played out... wondering who this newest impostor was… because before when we were married he would have gone into an unhinged blind rage at our son's behavior.
"Now… You are so very, very lucky to have everything you could want at my house… but Mommy has rules at her house… and you need to follow them." as he spoke he planted more kisses on his brown haired head… "Now… do you think you can do that for me?" he asked softly.
I sat across from him perched on the papasan with crossed brows and an outraged expression.
"Excuse me? Can we talk?" I spoke… meaning it more of a statement versus a question.
"Sure!" He chirped at me cheerily rising from the bed… "I''ll be right back…" He promised our son.
Walking into the next room our inky silhouettes were framed against the dark gray painted wall from the Christmas tree lights beside us.
"What was that?" I hissed at him "Are you saying you don't have any rules at your house? Are you saying you don't make him brush his teeth?" I asked him.
"What? What did you want me to say to him?" He asked me expectantly, playing the innocent face.
I stood there staring at him in disbelief. Surely no one was that stupid. No one was that inept. This was like we were married again. It was happening all over again. Him gas lighting me… acting like he was in the right and I was just off my rocker imagining his behavior. But I knew now from enough therapy, enough insight into his manipulation, most importantly enough distance from him and enough coaching of how to handle him that this was not a time for me to doubt my instincts. I knew the truth. This was all calculated manipulation on his part to send a message to our son that I had zero authority, my rules were stupid and that yes, indeed his home was Disneyland and mine was comparable to living with Cruella De Ville.
I told him… "I want you to tell him that this behavior is not acceptable! I want you to tell him that you're not going to put up with him hitting me! Kicking me and destroying everything! That he can't behave this way! That's what I want!" I strongly told him. Inside though I seethed with exasperation. I knew it. I knew I shouldn't have called him. My therapist was right, of course. And yet this one time incident would show time and time again how he did not act like the father he needed to be but instead continually used our son as a pawn in his own agenda.
I would like to say things have improved since then… but unfortunately they haven't. I miss my son's laugh, silliness, and spirit of always wanting to help. Who he's become is someone nearly unrecognizable to me. The fact is, unless parental alienation is counteracted early on it's extremely difficult to turn around. Not impossible, just very challenging and the process takes time. The last day my son was in my home was March 30th and it's been extremely trying… ninety percent of my calls have gone unanswered, my texts have been ignored, my attempts rebuffed. Parental alienation can begin as benign but grow to monstrous proportions… especially if a parent is relentlessly using his (or her) children as pawns. I pray that with counseling and prayer that my son along with all the other children who have been successfully alienated from a warm, loving parent are helped to see the light… that they see what their parent has done in their own selfish agenda and hopefully reconciliation takes place with the other parent. Below I've listed five signs of parental alienation.
If you or someone you know is dealing with parental alienation
don't give up! Keep praying for help, for change, for hearts to be transformed.
CHECK OUT: RYAN THOMAS SPEAKS online here
5 Signs of Parental Alienation:
1. The child views the alienating parent as all good and the other parent as all bad. There is zero basis for the child's contempt and blatant hatred toward their targeted parent. The child doesn't have remorse, sadness, disappointment etc toward losing the relationship with their parent.
2. The child denies being coached or talked to privately by the alienating parent but in fact has. This damages the relationship the child has with the targeted parent because it takes away their role model… often the better of the two parents.
3. The child's negative attitude toward the targeted parent extends to all of his or her extended family. This is very much black and white thinking… "I've decided he or she is bad so all of them must be as well".
4. The child doesn't have a concrete reason for the hatred toward the target parent… it's all unjustified.
5. Nearly all parents who have been alienated from their child report a relationship that at one time was very close, warm and loving… only to now be baffled why they are hated. This complete turn around is not normal… and has a source… the alienating parent.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014