Friday, 22 January 2016

Late #TBT Remembering 38 and 8

I set out Thursday morning with a question posting to my Facebook page asking people if they remembered where they were 38 years ago.  I then asked if they remembered where they were 8 years ago.  Knowing the cheeky sort my group of friends and colleagues tend to be, I wasn't surprised when a variety of answers rolled in. 

 I'd actually giggled out loud that one friend wrote "I have problems with yesterday.."  We've all had days like that..      I really wanted to finish up my post and get it posted in a timely fashion yesterday but you know how it goes.  One meeting turns into 2, and then 3, and before you know it, the Sandman is looking at you like a long lost acquaintance..    So I'm a little late, but it's every bit as relevant as it was 24 hours ago.. 

Seems somehow appropriate that today, on #TBT that it be such a major occasion.  First, in 1978 my parents gave me a bouncing bundle of baby, a sister.  The promise of a life-long companion.  Hard to believe that little fart has gotten so darned old!   Funny how we often cannot remember what we had for breakfast this morning, or what we did last week, but I remember meeting her for the first time, and the first time my parents let me feed her a bottle like it was yesterday.  I'd told everybody when I grew up, I was going to be a Mommy.  My next favourite gift was my "Baby Alive," just what every kid needs - a baby that eats and poops.  What can I say?  I was 8.

Speaking of 8…

8 years ago today, I rolled through the giant power doors at Toronto's HRRH about to make one of the biggest changes of my life.  Weighing in at well over 500 pounds, I'd been told that if I didn't take this step that I would certainly be dead in 5 years.  Lymphedema had seen me gain 120 pounds over the last 5 years, and they didn't believe that my heart could handle the toll of another 5 years forward..  

 
The view from my hospital room. 
I knew going in that this would be a pivotal moment in my life and everything as I knew it would change. I had no idea..  The gastric bypass had gone very well, but a last minute decision by an anesthesiologist could have been the end of everything.  The late intubation caused a distended bowel to essentially blow up, requiring massive surgeries and several days in the ICU with my swollen belly covered in a clear dressing so they could keep an eye on everything til they could close.  

I can truly say that my sweetheart knows me inside and out.  I cannot even imagine what he went through sitting by my bedside through all of the horrors I would later hear about.  Realizing that I'd sustained major nerve damage in ICU leaving me bed ridden.  Taking all his vacation days so he could stay in Toronto and be at the hospital with me daily.  Commuting every weekend, and calling daily once he had to come back to Cardinal for work.   I was going through my own trials, but looking back on it,   I can't help but think of my teddybear and the three little bears that were at home with Nana and Papa while all of this was going in.   I would be in hospital just a few days shy of a year.  My daughter and I even rode an air ambulance to bring me back to Brockville for the last 3 months until an ankle sprain got me kicked out of rehab.

I've come an awfully long way since the ambulance brought me home on a stretcher and deposited me into my loaner wheelchair.   I'd spent several months living from recliner, to commode, to wheelchair in the corner of my living-room.  Homecare daily, physio once a week - I still feel the anger of the condescending pat on the head and "Don't worry, lots of people do just fine in a wheelchair." 

The little voice in my head would scream each time I heard it.  We'd been talking about finally getting married in August, I'd dreamed of walking down the aisle.  I would walk again. Nobody would be rolling me down the aisle!!  What some might call stubborn, I prefer to call determination.  I remember doing the physio routine on my own in secret and hoping I wouldn't fall.  I was not living out my days in a chair.
I'll never forget the look on my hubby and youngest daughter's faces when I showed them my surprise as I took my walker and walked down the hallway and back that first time.  It would still be much work after that, but at least I was on the road to walking..

The day I finally made the last payment on my new non-bariatric wheelchair and they came to deliver it, the fellow was shocked when I got up and walked down the ramp behind him with my cane.  He tried to hold me up. It was amusing.  I went out and opened the garage for him to put the chair inside before turning to show him my new prized possession.  An 8 seater Honda Odyssey that was my new "chair."  He'd given me a big hug and congratulated me for having come so far..   I won't forget it.

I still have a leg brace for the foot that didn't come back, and though the Lymphedema is in much better shape my teddybear still wraps my legs for me in bandages daily.  I was left with 3 small hernias that decided a merger was necessary and there have been a host of other issues since.  I often hear of how miserable I ought to be, or how much pain I must be in.  I guess that's just not me.  I take it one day at a time, make the absolute most of the good days, and try to let the bad ones slide by unnoticed.  There is never a promise of a new tomorrow.

After all these years, how can I be anything but grateful? 

In the last 8 years..   To pick just one highlight ..  Impossible!  When I think of all of the things I'd have missed.  I just cannot imagine.  They say that at the end your life flashes before your eyes but when I think of it, so many mundane things just don't matter anymore.  I think of my friends and family, my work in the community, and I sometimes worry that I haven't done enough to leave enough behind to be remembered for.  That might sound odd, but after the doctor tells you more than a couple of times that you almost died, you're lucky to be alive -- you believe them!! 

I realized my life-long dream to work in local media.  I am forever thankful to a fellow volunteer who put me in touch with a friend who could use an extra pair of hands.  I had never anticipated where life would take me after that initial nervous e-mail.   I have met some of the most fabulously talented people in our community, and had the opportunity to be involved in the promotion of organizations and events that I didn't even know existed (and some that I did) in one way or another and have had the opportunity to meet a variety of people that would never have known I existed.  I am proud to now call many of them friends. 

I was there to make good on a promise made since childhood to be present if anything should happen.  I was there holding his hand when my father took his last breath.  Not the sort of thing you want to remember, but when I consider the alternative.  I cannot imagine it.  

An early picture of Brayden with Grandma. He has already grown so much!
And his big sister Adrianna - we call them pride and joy :) 

 I watched each of our sweet little bears grow from the children I first met so many years ago into adulthood; It was a very long and bumpy ride but we made it!   Our eldest daughter made me a Grandma -  I could never imagined the joy that those two little bears could bring to my life.  There is a certain kind of magic in hearing someone call you Grandma.  I only hope that I be half the Grandma, that their Nana was to our crew. 

So many people talk about how they just want to go home and stay in bed for a weekend, or a week.  Been there, done that..   I've got to say I just don't see the allure anymore.  In comparison, I'm usually late to go to bed, early to rise and non-stop go for as long as I can in between.  If not now, when?  We never know when they'll turn out the lights.  I will make the most of whatever time I am blessed to be given.  We could all benefit for being kinder to one another,  and being more grateful for what we have instead of always wanting more.  Volunteer your time, tell someone you care.  Do SOMETHING positive with your life.  Life's too short to spend it cranky!


And last, but certainly not least, my Sweet James,  I will always be fabulously grateful for this life that you have given me.  You shared your heart, your soul, and made me a Mom to 3.  You filled a place in my world that I thought cancer had taken from me forever.  You took a single girl, and gave her a family, a home, and your life to share.  My life would be empty without you in it.  So many firsts have come since we found each other, and each new dream achieved or milestone reached is sweeter because you are with me.  I thank my lucky stars every day that our introduction was made.  I still marvel sometimes at everything we got through to get here and we're still standing.  When we finally do get to having that wedding we've been planning for the last almost 20 years, it will certainly be for better and better.  We certainly have been through enough of the worse part.  Bring on the balloons! 
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