The Road to Healing

8Aug2016 Filed under: blah-blah-blog
WP_20160710_20_14_31_Pro.jpg

In the days following Zach’s motorcycle accident last month, there was a lot of driving between Orlando (where my parents and kids were) and Melbourne (where Zach was hospitalized).

The stretch of road we took was so pretty and peaceful. Lots of wide fields and grazing cows, white picket fences and stunning sunsets.

Beauty is particularly poignant when we’re in pain, isn’t it? It’s like, “How can everything still be so lovely when I’m so broken?”

My parents made the trek every single day. They brought the kids, who spent most of their time begging for vending machine snacks and playing Monopoly in the lounge. They were a welcome diversion.

WP_20160706_23_06_59_Pro.jpg

Eli and Violet were allowed brief visits with Zach, and were quite somber after. Jonah was too young to visit the ICU, and he was NOT happy about it. He said he KNEW that Zach wanted to be with him, so we HAD to let him in. It sure was hard to keep telling the little guy no. He said things like, “I can’t feel Zach in my heart anymore” and then he wrote this note and asked us to read it to his big brother:

6tag_070716-205028.jpg

Talk about heartbreaking….

That whole second day is something of a blur now. Zach remained sedated and on the ventilator, to allow his brain to rest. Every time they tried backing off on the sedation, he shook violently and became combative, so they had his wrists tethered to the bed with black, seat-belt type straps to prevent him from pulling out any tubes.

The neurosurgeon said that agitation was normal with a frontal lobe injury and could resolve in one day, or in two years.

Or, never.

Can you imagine how crazy it felt to hear that? There was no way to know what we were up against. There was no way to know if our Zach would ever return to us, even if his body survived.

WP_20160707_18_10_39_Pro.jpg

They said he could hear us speak, so to keep it positive, and we did. We took turns sitting beside him, talking gently but sparingly, with the board at the end of his bed reminding us that his brain needed as little stimulation as possible.

WP_20160707_12_03_19_Pro.jpg

(I have to admit that the Activity Level cracked me up. I mean, he was fully sedated and on a vent. What else was he going to do?)

So it was a whole day of just being with him, something that parents of 18-year-olds don’t get to experience often. But since he couldn’t do anything about it, I tried to make the best of it. I prayed over him, mostly silently. I couldn’t hold his hand because of the straps, but I could lay my hand on top of his to warm it up. Mostly I just placed my palm on his upper chest, the part that I knew was uninjured, so that he would know we were there. I wanted to stroke his hair, or kiss his cheek, but his face was so battered, I couldn’t bear the thought that my kiss or touch might cause him more pain.

Man, it was hard to want to love and comfort him and be able to do almost nothing.

Donnie and I took turns sitting with him; other times we sat together. We took brief naps in the lounge because we weren’t allowed to fall asleep in the ICU, and during one break, met this awesome three-legged therapy dog, Sunshine.

6tag_070716-111243.jpg

I read a book they gave me about traumatic brain injury and had to stop because it was just too depressing.

We had the sweetest nurse, Alie. She encouraged us to leave the hospital to sleep and shower that night. My parents reserved a hotel a mile away, to make it convenient for us to take turns sleeping and staying with Zach. But when darkness came that second night, I froze at the thought of leaving him.

How could a mom just leave her injured child alone like that?

Alie assured us that nothing would change overnight, and if it did, she would call us immediately. But Zach was likely to remain unconscious all night and wouldn’t really know if we were there or not. She warned us that the next day could be tough if they decided to extubate and take him off the sedation. (Boy, was she right about that…) And that we would need some sleep to face it, since neither of us had slept the night before.

It all made sense, but my heart just wasn’t getting it.

Donnie told him bye, and went to get the car…or something…I don’t remember. I just know I was standing in the corner of in that darkened room, the streetlights glowing through the blinds, sobbing silently into my hands because the thought of leaving him alone in that sterile, cold room simply broke my heart.

I don’t remember how I finally peeled myself away, or how I held it together long enough to make it out to the car, where I sobbed again on that mile-long ride while Donnie told me it was all going to be OK.

He let me out at the front of the hotel and there I sat in this fancy lobby, feeling totally alone for the first time in days, and completely out of place with my red-rimmed eyes, messy ponytail and stained shirt.

WP_20160707_21_38_37_Pro.jpg

A businessman strode by on his phone and I swear he glared at me like I was a vagrant or something. Yeah, I looked that rough.

We showered. Donnie immediately fell asleep. I couldn’t sleep. I’d been so wound-up-wiped-out for so long that I couldn’t shut off my thoughts.

Not when they kept wandering back to that chilly, white room and my black-and-blue boy, and the bleakness of a future that held no guarantees for any of us.

Save

Save

Save

The Longest Night

7Aug2016 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

Exactly one month ago, at this hour, this was my view:

DarkestNight

I posted it on my social media and called it “The Longest Night” because it absolutely was.

Longer than a night of labor. Longer than all those nights with a screaming newborn at the breast. Longer than nights spent comforting a feverish child.

Sitting frozen beside my son in a trauma intensive care unit, the minutes stretched into hours. Mechanically-controlled breaths and heart monitors beat out a tune that reassured me and terrified me all at once.

Their rhythm said he was alive, but every pause whispered that there were no guarantees.

Everything they’d told me darted around in my mind like bees in a hive as I sat there, shivering.

Traumatic brain injury. Brain bleed. No prognosis except to wait. Fifty-fifty chance of survival. He’d have died on impact without the helmet.

Thank God for the helmet. But why was he on the motorcycle to begin with?

When I took that pic at 2:40 a.m., I was numb.

I’d already raged. The owner of that motorcycle was on the receiving end of all my fury and had he dared to step in front of me, I’d have beaten him senseless while screaming over twenty years of built-up anger in his face. I have never, ever felt such an overwhelming necessity to keep myself restrained, nor ever felt such a passionate desire to injure someone.

I’d already melted down. When I walked (that Sally Field mama-walk you remember from Steel Magnolias) down that long ICU corridor and stepped between those sliding glass doors, when I saw my son, still, with tubes everywhere…and that shock of crimson-soaked hair splayed against the starched white pillow…when I saw dark, dried blood splattered across his face, I clasped my hands across my mouth and moaned into a wide-eyed, horrified sob like I’d never known.

No, no, no. NO! Oh, God. No.

Why had he decided the week before to dye his hair blond? His naturally dark hair would’ve muted the quantity of blood instead of showcasing it like a stop light.

A mother should never have to see that much of her own child’s blood.

When Donnie had called me hours before and said Zach had been injured, I didn’t immediately fear the worst. I assumed it was minor. It had to be minor, right?

It had to be.

My parents, sisters and I hopped into cars and started the hour-long journey to get where Zach was. And there was a terrible traffic jam that delayed us an additional hour. Each time Donnie called to update me, it chopped away my optimism, and nausea swelled up in its place.

Zach had been seizing on the scene. He was unresponsive. His brothers and sister had seen him loaded into the ambulance.

I felt sick for them. I just needed to get to ALL my babies. And I have never felt so helpless, so stuck, so unable to make something necessary happen.

I dug in my purse for my stash of Zofran. Stress always hits my gut first. But I was still not crying. I was focused on a mission. I was so grateful for my sister driving me but so frustrated by the gridlock that blocked our progress there.

The traffic dragged out so long that we had to exit for a bathroom break. As my mom, sister and I crowded into a Burger King bathroom, Cherie asked me if I needed anything. And that one simple question snapped my focus on the mission. My face crumpled into tears.

“I just want a Coke to sip on because I feel so sick.”

And she handed me some paper towels to cry into. And then I stood outside hugging my dad in the humid Florida twilight, while we waited for the others to get my drink and some food to bring to the kids.

Blessedly, the traffic cleared. We got to the hospital. I hugged my husband and my other kids, hard. And I wanted to help all of them at once, but couldn’t.

There are a lot of hard things we face as moms, but feeling helpless has to be one of the hardest to deal with.

So, yeah. By 2:40 in the morning, I was numb.

Because you just don’t ever think you’ll see your child like this. You just don’t.

6tag_070716-064343.jpg

We had a good outcome. I’m going to write more about it tomorrow.

But for tonight, I’m just remembering. Like the Israelites, who always made a monument to God at places where He moved on their behalf, this post one month later is my monument, my lasting testament to His goodness.

I have been listening to this song, and editing pictures and crying some more.

Because it was the longest night in my life, but God saw us through.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Atlanta Showcases New Wizard of Oz

22Jun2016 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

 

4.216907

My son Eli and I just got back from following the yellow brick road to the Fox Theatre–and I’m sure you’ll want to do it yourself before the week is out!

The national tour of The Wizard of Oz began its Atlanta run tonight. It’s a new staging of the musical, featuring several new songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice as well as the classics you love. This version also interjects a good bit of humor–but not too much to be distracting.

(Speaking of distracting, people should not text during a show, graze extensively on snacks wriggled out of noisy wrappers, OR get up to leave before the curtain call, all of which happened around us tonight. It’s just Theater Manners 101, y’all.)

Anyway, the sets and costumes always catch my artistic eye first, and they were all brilliant. The cast was incredibly talented, too. Sarah Lasko plays a sweet and sassy Dorothy, Shani Hadjian rocked it as the Wicked Witch of the West (I mean, that evil cackle was on point!) but my favorite character was the Cowardly Lion, played by Aaron Fried. I think he reminded me a bit of our huge mutt, Blue–just this big ol’ bear of a guy that should be intimidating, but he’s actually just a lovable wimp!

Speaking of dogs, I think Toto received the loudest applause and cheers out of all the characters, which was kind of funny. But he was seriously cute!

4.216902

Tickets can be purchased by clicking the link above, and the show only runs in Atlanta through Sunday, June 26th. So don’t you dare dilly-dally or you’ll find yourself stuck on THIS side of the rainbow, and that’s just not nearly as much fun as venturing over it!

WP_20160621_22_14_18_Pro

Save

Save

O My! New Hat

18Jun2016 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

Because being a work-at-home, homeschooling, face-painting, cake-decorating, orphan-ministering writer mom of four wasn’t enough….

I’ve decided to become a purveyor of goat soap!

Seriously.

goat-in-austria-198455_1920

Because goats are baa-a-a-a-ad to the bone. Especially when accessorized with a jaunty bow and crown!

At this very moment, I have butter-soft hands that smell of summer melon and deeply moisturized lips that taste just like a Frosted Orange from The Varsity. (Or, an orange/vanilla Creamsicle, for you non-Atlantans.)

I often blog about products that I love, because life is short and we need to share the goodness we find in this world. You’ve probably seen my reviews of local attractions, books and recipes I’ve enjoyed. Well, I couldn’t wait to share after trying O My!™ Goat Milk Soap and Lip Balm…but then I found out that I could become a company affiliate!

So instead of just writing about it, I’ve taken the next step in making these wonderful products available to my family and friends, while earning a little pocket change in the process.

(Deciding to sell goat milk soap has convinced my husband that I am officially insane, but I suspect he was pretty close to figuring that out anyway.)

O My!™ Goat Milk Soaps are the result of a recipe perfected over a 10 year period on a free-range Nubian goat farm located in Knotts Island, North Carolina.

All of their 40+ essential oil-based fragrances are:

  • Palm Oil Free
  • Gluten Free
  • Paraben Free
  • Phosphate Free
  • Sulfate Free
  • Phthalate Free

Goat’s milk is legendary for being beneficial to the skin because of its similar PH Balance and natural vitamin and mineral content. O My!™ Goat Milk Soap is crafted from the highest quality oils and butters, which have been used for centuries to moisturize dry skin, help heal sensitive skin conditions and exfoliate dead skin cells.

As an added bonus, some studies indicate that the proteins in goat’s milk have antibacterial properties that can help combat acne and body odor. Each long-lasting product’s complete ingredient list is posted on its page.

And the products aren’t limited to just soap and lip balm. They also make high-quality lotions, laundry soap, dog shampoo and all-natural insect repellant. And the soaps themselves come in a variety of sizes, including sampler packs for the undecided.

Because, as anyone who’s perused a bath-n-body shop at the mall can attest, having access to a variety of fragrances is one of the small joys in life. But instead of settling for those chemical-laden products, you can enjoy natural scents of Apple & Clover, Clean Linen, Merlot, Lavender & Lemongrass–just to name a few. There are also multiple masculine fragrances, such as Dragon’s Blood and Excalibur. And for the outdoorsy folk, their Hunter and Huntress Wilderness Camo soaps actually mask the human fragrance, making hunters “invisible” in the woods.

So, now that you want to check it out, just click this heart:

And after your natural bathing bliss arrives, let me know how you liked it! And please help spread the goat-milk goodness by sharing this post with your friends and family!

Thanks!

P.S. For me to get credit for the referral, you must enter the site through clicking the heart-shaped widget embedded in this post, or the long banner ad on my blog’s sidebar.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

The Little Pirate Mermaid

12Jun2016 Filed under: blah-blah-blog
PirateMermaid-credit-Center-for-Puppetry-Arts

Oh, how I wish The Center for Puppetry Arts had shared some press pics of their stunningly gorgeous sets so I could include one in this blog post!

We just got back from seeing The Little Pirate Mermaid and it was one of the most visually stunning shows I’ve ever seen.

Not that the marionette puppets weren’t gorgeous–you can see that they are. But the underwater scenes were just so beyond lovely, I caught myself smiling without even meaning to! I guess the lack of photos means that you’re just going to have to go see the show for yourself, which I say is a fantastic way to spend a summer morning or afternoon with your kids.

Based on the classic tale by Hans Christian Andersen, Artistic Director Jon Ludwig shows off his imagination through many entertaining twists, including rhyme, songs and a surprising goal that Molly the Mermaid brings to the pirate crew.

Humor is sprinkled throughout, mostly through the use of pirate-y puns. My favorite was the scene that opened with the pirates singing “KumbayAAARRRR”!  Too funny!

OK, but it gets even better for parents of kids with autism, sensory processing disorder or other issues that lead to a need for a kinder, gentler experience. On Sunday, July 10th, from 12-2:30, the Center is hosting a Sensory Friendly Performance. As quoted from the site:

12-1pm: Museum exhibits
1pm: Performance
1:45-2:30pm: Create-A-Puppet Workshops

Performance alterations include theater lights dimmed down but not out, consistent sound levels and lower volume of show soundtrack, freedom for children to talk and to leave their seat if necessary, a quiet zone in the lobby, and permission to bring quiet, contained snacks and beverages. Create-A-Puppet Workshop classrooms will be brighter, quieter, and feature less-messy puppet building materials and slightly simplified puppet designs. This modified programming also extends to include our expanded Museum, where lighting will be adjusted and specialized educational activities (such as touch tables and guided storytelling) will be integrated.

As the mom of a child with Asperger’s, I cannot express how happy I am to hear about this. He’s always struggled to sit through an entire show and I really think these accommodations would make a huge difference for him. (And me!)

The Little Pirate Mermaid is presented in the Mainstage Theater, from June 14 – July 15, at the following times:

  • Tuesday – Friday: 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.
  • Saturday: 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
  • Sunday: 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

Please note that there aren’t any performances on July 3rd, but the museum and workshops are still open. The Center is closed on July 4th.

Tickets include museum admission, which is something really neat to see, especially for Jim Henson fans. Guests can also go to the Create-A-Puppet Workshop after the show and make a really cool stingray marionette puppet to take home.

And those sets! Oh my. Please tell me you’ll go just to get lost in those gorgeous underwater scenes?