Alright, again … 

It’s amazing what a new day, a strong cup of coffee, a good run, a short cry, a hot shower and getting dressed in “real” clothes can do for one’s psyche. I’m not saying that these things can solve any problems. But after the past nine days of my life, I found that a little bit of comfort has gone a very long way in making me feel better.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you feel like everything is going to be alright … again!!!

Suicide … 

Something terrible happened today. 

Sidney’s photography teacher was found dead in her classroom after she committed suicide by hanging. She was found by another teacher and several students. The details that followed after are available to read on internet news. I just can’t bring myself to write them all out. But suffice it to say that it was awful and I am abundantly thankful that G3 was across campus in class and that Sid was two doors down. Neither of them saw what occurred.

G3 didn’t know the teacher. He was shaken by the events but was more concerned about his sister’s wellbeing. He knew this would be hard on her. And it is. This teacher was a mentor to her. Sid loves photography and this teacher made her love it even more. Sid’s heart is broken, along with many, many others.

As a social worker and therapist I can fully understand the processes behind suicide and how a person can get to THAT point. Normally I feel empathy in these situations. Even respect for the courage it takes for someone to say, “Sorry God, but I’m done.”
Especially in medically assisted suicides where selfless decisions are made for the good of the ones they love. I certainly don’t condone suicide, but I get it.

I am also a believer that our days are numbered. It’s all part of the God debate that I have no intentions of getting into today. What I believe is that, whether she committed suicide or was in a car accident, today was going to be this woman’s last day.

Whatever her reasons were for the choices she made today are her’s and her’s alone. And although I don’t like to speculate, mental illness appears to have played a role here. She openly spoke about her father’s suicide and was very active in teaching students about suicide prevention. In the presence of true mental illness or not she clearly was not in a mental state that was healthy or safe. She was in a state of mind that she tried to help so many others avoid. There is so much irony and tragedy in what I just wrote, it’s mind boggling.

But … I am bothered. I am angry. And my following rant is not me just picking on a dead mentally ill woman. I would never do that. I worked with severely mentally ill patients for many years. I have a special place in my heart for them and the torment they experience. It is no joke. Mental illness is real and devastating if not treated. So if my feelings here offend anyone, I just don’t care.

But first, let’s discuss anger. Anger is part of the grief reaction and very normal. If you don’t believe me just look up the work of Elizabeth Kubler Ross or any other expert in the area of death and dying. This event hit very close to home and hurt many children, mine included. My anger does not diminish the gravity of this teacher’s illness or meant to shame her. It’s my reaction to the reality that she left her students and community to deal with. That being said, here goes.

I believe suicide tells a story. Often letters are left by victims to explain their actions. The level of violence used is explored by professionals to gain insight into the victim’s state of mind. Many aspects and details are looked at in an attempt to understand WHY the victim did what they did. But regardless of whether or not all the pieces of the story are uncovered, it remains a story without a happy ending. Family and friends are left devastated in the wake of one’s dark emotional suffering. A true tragedy for all … and totally preventable.

Her story didn’t need to end this way today. But it did. And she ended it in such away that she exposed children to severe emotional trauma. She chose to end her life in the very place she was teaching young formidable minds not to do such a thing. And she chose a time that she would likely be discovered by those same students. She knew, very well, the pain left behind as a result of suicide. She lived it. But yet today, she allowed many children to suffer because of what she did and where she did it. Could mental illness have clouded her judgement? Absolutely. Did it? No one will ever really know now. But I do know that I am angry that she left her students with such a confusing message.

My anger does not dismiss the tragedy of this teacher’s death or her inability to feel she could continue on with her life. All of it is insurmountably horrible. What her family, friends and, my God, her mother must be going through is utterly heartbreaking.

BUT … I mourn the innocence lost by her students who just wanted to come to class this morning. All they wanted, all they expected was a typical day at school. But what they got was an image of their beloved teacher, who hung herself in her classroom. You know, the teacher who diligently taught them that suicide wasn’t an answer.

Sadly, now THAT is the ending to her story. And yes, it makes me just a little bit angry.

Well, I hope you all had a day where you found some peace of mind!!!

I hope I don’t jinx myself …

I am not a superstitious woman by any means. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a worrier … and I’m paranoid … and I have a BAZILLION unrealistic phobias … but if I break a mirror or knock over some salt I feel like I’m going to be OK. That being said, with as sick as I have been, I don’t really want to type this out loud. But here goes.

I feel better! I can hear out of my left ear and my cough is nothing like it was. I. Am. HEALED. 

OK … now SHHHHHH … let’s just pretend I didn’t type any of that. Nope. Not me.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you don’t jinx yourself!!!

Unhinged …

I have determined that my ribs were not designed to support my coughing fits. There is ZERO, ZIP, ZILCH give on these babies. I guess that’s a good thing on some level, keeping all my parts … um … in me. But really, a little give in these things sure would be helpful. Some kind of rib cage open and close mechanism would be a down right gift!

Well, I hope you all have a day where you became unhinged!!!

Out of character …

Yesterday I thought I had a turn for the better in this whole nasty sick week of mine. I was wrong. Very. 

Last night I coughed for about two hours. It was terrible. My head felt like it was going to burst every time I coughed and I was dizzy. And breathing during this whole episode was no easy feat! So I finally decided it was time to go to the doctor. And it’s a good thing I did because I have an ear infection and the beginning of bronchitis. I just KNEW that all my symptoms weren’t an exaggerated mess in my head … OK fine, this time.

I will be the first to admit that I panic if I think anything is wrong with me. I can dream up some pretty awful “worst case scenarios” in my head. Some may call this hypochondriacal … I would just like to think that it’s part of my qwerky charm. I also don’t like taking meds. They scare me. All those chemicals just freak me the HECK out. But I have to say that today when they offered me antibiotics for my ear and other meds for my unrelenting cough I was like a drug seeking fool. I wanted ALL of it. No really. All. Of. It.

I don’t think I could have thanked the doctor more for helping me. She was sweet too. She knew of my chemical phobias and she took the time to assure me that the medications I was being prescribed had been around a long time and that they were very safe. I was very grateful she was so kind but with as miserable as I was I probably would have volunteered for a trial drug study, where the side effects were know to cause GIANT permanent purple skin spots, if I thought it could make me feel better. 

Goodness. It is truly amazing how much you change when you realize how important breathing is!

Well, I hope you all had a day where you didn’t act totally out of character!!!

Genuine and loving eyes …

Reese is beautiful.

I know that every mother believes that their child, or children, are beautiful. Some will argue that biochemical changes during pregnancy and after delivery are to blame for this type of reaction to our off-spring. Some may argue straight up love and emotional bonds are the culprit. Whatever the reason we, as biological or adoptive parents, think our kids are the cutest darn things that humankind will ever see.

Now, factor in a disability.

When I first had Reese and was willing to actually go outside I never thought much about how the world would perceive her. But first I should explain my unwillingness to leave the house. Reese was only 2lbs 15oz at birth and was born during what was one of the worst cold and flu seasons I could ever remember … and she was a preemie. I’m a bit of a germ phob. OK, fine. I am paranoid of every germ out there and having a teeny tiny baby magnified this by a BAZILLION.

Anyway, Reese was a baby.  An extra small version and cute at a bug. To me. I loved her and all of her extra chromosomes. I was so proud of her, as I am still today, for all she had overcome.

I should probably elaborated a little more here as well. I had a very difficult pregnancy with Reese. Setting aside all the false worries our “specialists” filled my head with, she had some very real and scary things to overcome. Reese stopped growing at 28 weeks. It had nothing to do with the Down Syndrome, something was wrong. It wasn’t until after she was delivered via emergency Caesarean Section that everything became clear. My placenta necrotized. In lay terms, it died. Or at least enough of it died to significantly hinder Reese’s growth. Her umbilical cord was also described to me as “feeble”. All of this was not good. Reese was born malnourished. They didn’t expect her to be breathing at delivery, but thankfully she was. Reese spent 28 days in the NICU overcoming every hurdle she was presented with. I was in awe of her strength and will to thrive. She was a natural born survivor and I was so proud of her.

So when I finally did leave the house with her I paraded her around like a Rose Parade Queen on a float. She was my little hero.

What I experienced when I finally left the house with her was something I never expected. A reaction from strangers that I never saw coming. Let me point out that there were people who could tell right away that Reese had Down Syndrome. And we almost always could tell by their description of her. “What an angel!”, “Hello angel!”, “She is just like an angel!”. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, if the word “angel” was thrown in there, they knew. And I loved it. I thought it was a perfect way to describe her and I was thrilled that others, people we have affectionally coined “on our team”, saw her for what she was … our little angel.

But then there were the people who surprised me the most. The men and women who would be absolutely “taken” by Reese’s looks. 

“My god she is beautiful.” 

“She has the most unique features I have ever seen.”

“She is prettier than any of my babies ever were.”

… and they hadn’t a clue. None of them knew she had Down Syndrome. I would let them talk about her beauty and I wouldn’t say a word. At least not until the very end of our conversation. And then I just watched their reactions. They were stunned. They had no clue that what initially drew them to Reese was what many in the world would find unattractive and a reason to judge her and treat her negatively. I loved that they viewed her unique features as something positive. I made sure I thanked them and I shared that their view of her, albeit one based entirely on looks, somehow gave this mom some hope.

This morning as Reese sat at the table eating breakfast Libs and I were both struck by how beautiful she looked sitting there. Libs told me a story about a friend of hers. She had recently told this friend that she had a little sister with Down Syndrome. Her friend went on and on about how she thought babies with Down Syndrome were so “cute”.

Perhaps I am being naive and more hopeful than I should be. But I personally have bore witness to the changing perception of people with Down Syndrome. How uniqueness is FINALLY being celebrated as a gift and not something debilitating.  

We aren’t all good at everything. We don’t all look the same. We don’t all come to the same conclusions. We don’t all learn the same way. We won’t grow up and all become the same thing. We were all made differently … on purpose. Each of us has a different job to do with the life that we have been given. No job less or more important than another’s. No one’s life less meaningful than another’s. How we look should not matter in the scope of things. But I sure am glad that at least a portion of this world we live in is starting to perceive beauty in different ways. In this era of awareness how we truly SEE others with disabilities is changing … and this mom sure can appreciate that.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you view the world through genuine and loving eyes!!!

A big sissy whiney pants … 

OK, I know I make a horrible sick person. I complain and I am moody. I want to bury myself like a mole under blankets and make the world leave me alone. All the while being outraged that I am too sick to partake in the world that I want to leave me alone. See how difficult “sick me” is?!?!

But seriously, what is with all the little ailments that go along with being sick?!?! As if, the fever, coughing, sneezing and copious amounts of mucus being expelled from one’s body, isn’t enough! Can’t being sick, be enough in the causing misery department?

Oh no, it’s not. At least not for me. I get a twitchy watery eyes, chapped lips and a red, scaly,  unattractive nose. And I sound like I’m a three year old.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you aren’t acting like a big sissy whiney pants!!!