What If It’s The “C” Word?!!

I have a growth on the back of my leg and it looks like nodular melanoma. I felt it and then really looked at it tonight. I stopped short of taking a photo because I want to sit here and pretend it’s not that bad.

But I’m terrified.

I noticed it months ago and was alarmed but never had it looked at because *ALL THE BAD THINGS* happened and then I was just focused on trying to get better and doing all the things I love with the people I love…I forgot about it. It’s bigger now, I think.

And I’m at higher risk because I took Humira last year. Both my parents had melanomas removed from their faces too, but I don’t think it was nodular melanoma.

I’m scared. Any words of encouragement or wisdom?

XOXO,

MLACS

 

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Three

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My BG is three! She turned 3 in March. This is a recent photo of her picking strawberries at a local farm.

She is my pride and joy ❤❤❤

Let me tell you about what makes my kid so special…

She is very kind and thoughtful and gentle–she’ll give her friends a hug if they cry. She is always happy to help. She’s polite, always says please and thank you. She is very kind to our animals and treats them like family–I love watching her play with Koa puppy or softly pet Kitty.

She loves books! We love to read, and she has memorized some books (not word-for-word, but close enough) and will “read” them to me. She also loves to draw, paint, play playdoh, and do any sort of art project I can come up with. We have a vast selection of sidewalk chalk, so our sidewalk is never boring (word to the wise though–get rid of the black chalk because nothing good can come of it). I framed one of her recent paintings because I love it so much ❤

She can count to 20 orally (but doesn’t recognize the numbers yet). She can sing her ABC’s and can recognize her letters. She chatters non-stop and has started to ask A LOT of questions. She knows how to express her emotions and can be verrrry dramatic (which makes me laugh–she gets that from me). She has started to assert herself by saying “No!” and “I don’t want to!” when she does not agree with me. We argue and yell at each other and then we make-up–she’ll say “I’m sorry mommy, you not mad anymore?” and I’ll say “I’m sorry too and I’m not mad, are you mad?” and she’ll say no, and we’ll hug it out.

I let her watch a lot of cartoons, but they are all educational–no nickelodeon or cartoon network. She still loves Daniel Tiger (a perennial favorite) but she also likes Caillou (I don’t), Doc McStuffins, Clifford, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Llama llama, Pinkalicious, and her newest obsession–Spirit. We watch movies too, and she loves Brave, Pete’s Dragon, Sing, How to Train Your Dragon, Polar Express, Frozen (yes, she sings “Let it Go” on repeat), Leap, Moana (my fav), Zootopia, Pets, and plenty of others. We do family movie night in bed on Friday and/or Saturday night, and we all love it ❤ We bought her a kids kindle tablet for Christmas, but she doesn’t play games on it very often, and I’m glad she isn’t interested in that and chooses to play pretend with her toys and play dress up, etc.

BG loves to dress up! She has plenty of princess dresses, ballet tutu’s, crowns, wands, wings, hats, plastic high heels (how are these even legal? but she loves them). I smile every time I hear the “clip clop clip clop” of her heels on the hardwood floor and look up to see her in full regalia with her crown, a floor-length princess dress with fluffy layers of sparkly tulle and a wand in-hand. There’s nothing better!

She’s literally off-the-charts tall. At her 3yr check up she measured 42 inches tall and the CDC chart for her age only goes up to 41 inches (no surprise as I am 5’9″ and her dad is 6’6″ tall). BG has excellent motor skills and hand/eye coordination, and this combined with her height and the fact that Mr. MLACS and I love sports and play sports with her nearly guarantees her future as an athlete. So far she goes to Little Gym, soccer and swimming, but I want her to try everything and find her niche–something(s) she loves.

Since we (finally) moved into our dream home and it has a big backyard, we put up a swingset with a slide for BG and also a very nice wooden playhouse adjacent to it. She loves playing in our backyard! We have her friends and neighbors over to play, too. We still go to parks, but not as often now that we have this great set up. We also bought her a nice bouncy house for her 3rd birthday, which delights her. BG got a minnie mouse bike with training wheels from Santa Claus and she is super fast on it! She is a good sport and wears her helmet too, even though most of the neighbor kids don’t wear them.

Oh here’s a BIG milestone–BG is potty trained! I was so stressed out about it but we’ve done it gradually and she really has the hang of it–she’s even pooping on the potty now! Not gonna lie, I bribed her with hatchimal toys, jewelry, candy, and whatever else I could coerce her with. But hey, it worked! She still wears pull-ups at night though, and 50/50 if she wakes up dry, mostly owing to her bedtime stall-tactic of saying “I’m thirsty mommy!” and then slowly drinking an entire glass of water just before bed 😏 She’s a smart little cookie.

I think BG is the most charming child ❤ She still loves to lay on us and cuddle–she rarely spends a full night in her own bed and usually ends up sleeping between us in our bed (we don’t mind). She loves dinosaurs and dragons as much as she loves twirly dresses and sparkly jewelry. She loves being barefoot and digging in the dirt. She loves chapstick and bubble baths. She gives and receives love constantly, fluidly–she is a conduit of love. And I love her with every fiber of my being. I love her with my heart and soul.

I love her endlessly, what more can I say?❤

XOXO,

MLACS

 

 

Grief, Anxiety and Depression (and what I’m doing to heal)

I don’t know where to begin. I’ve been spiraling since my dad died.

I was just starting to get traction in my life after several years of of tumult. My health declining and autoimmune issues usurping my life and finances. Infertility and miscarriages. Mr. MLACS’s heart failure when I was 32 weeks pregnant. Being a new mother and deeply feeling the loss/void of my own beloved mother. Coping with Mr. MLACS being gone for work for weeks at a time. Overwhelming PPA (postpartum anxiety) and coming to terms with cutting off our toxic family members, including my dad (it took 2 years of weekly therapy and a lot of processing). Finally buying our first home–our dream home–only to have it burn down as we were packing to move. Moving to a very depressed area of Louisiana after the Great Flood of 2016, where I knew no one and felt like I didn’t belong.

Becoming ill and spending the entirety of 2017 fighting for my life with no support, because I was too sick to even ask for it. Feeling useless and hopeless at times.

Finally embracing the idea of a total colectomy surgery–having a prosthetic colon for the rest of my life. Finally about to move into my dream home.

And being deathly ill and having my husband drop dead at work, revived…but I am haunted by the way he looked and smelled like death in the ER. The nurses hearing me sob in the bathroom next to his bed in the ICU, as I sat on the toilet bleeding, desperately needing to be admitted myself but terrified to have my surgery because I was afraid I might die and orphan my child. My precious BG and my precious dog so sad and scared despite my best efforts to spare them the grief I felt. My heart was broken into a million pieces.

But I overcame everything. I beat infertility and I have the most precious daughter. I overcame PPA and came to terms with severing ties with my father. Mr. MLACS got a new job where he would be home every night. Our dream home was repaired. My surgery went well and I don’t need to take any IBD medications–I am not “chronically ill” anymore. My husband has a pacemaker/defibrillator and has taken responsibility for his health and lost a lot of weight. We moved into our dream house and I even bought my dream furniture.

I was making a comeback with my fitness, going to Burn Boot Camp and Barre3 classes and I volunteered as the organizer for a local moms fitness group–I was transparent about my ostomy. I was living my truth. I felt brave. I felt bold. I felt powerful. I felt beautiful. I felt like I was going to crush my goals.

And then my dad died.

And after everything I’ve been through–what I’ve overcome–and the fact that he wasn’t even a very good dad, you wouldn’t expect *that* to be the “straw that broke the camel’s back”.

But it was. I have been depressed and anxious. I can’t focus. I can’t think straight. I’m constantly waiting for the next shoe to drop.

I feel alienated from people. Lonely. Broken.

I’m angry because I fought SO. HARD. through the rock-bottom pit of hell that was 2017…

I had just started to feel safe. I wasn’t obsessing over the past or worrying about the future. I was living. I was embracing life. I was open to possibilities. I was all *positive vibes*.

But now I’m struggling again.

Dealing with my parents’ estate is torture. They were smart–everything was deeded to the trust. Every property, vehicle, trailer and boat. Nothing going to probate. Take heed and for all my IF friends who are parents now, make a will and/or trust so your spouse and kid(s) are not screwed when you die.

But my sister and I have never gotten along and now we are co-trustees and must divide everything in half. Meanwhile, there are 20-something properties that need to be managed and bills that need to be paid. And we have to fix up and sell “the big house” (our family home) to settle debts so we can dissolve the trust. It’s daily stress. It’s a daily reminder that both my parents are dead and that I am going to die. And BG is not tolerant of me being on my phone talking or texting, etc. She relentlessly pesters me and then has meltdowns when I snap at her. I can barely force myself to think about or do any of the drudgery associated with the estate, and with BG agitating me I feel like I might lose my mind. I need to put her in preschool and I have her enrolled in one but it doesn’t start until the fall. And I do not even have the stomach to vet preschools right now. I am looking at summer camps but that’s a week here-and-there. Oh and I dread having to take BG back to the midwest with me *without Mr. MLACS* to deal with this estate BS. F*ing nightmare. That is a 12hr car ride easch way, which I cannot do alone so I’ll have to split into 2 says–that is 4 days of travel. Just shoot me.

But I’m rich now. So there’s that. Not a “one percent-er” or filthy rich–like mansion/servants, car and driver, private plane and NY fashion week rich. But like, I will have a monthly income from my trust and it is legacy wealth that I can pass on to BG.

I’d give it all to have my Mom back though.

To have both my parents back, because our family was functionally-dysfunctional until my Mom got sick, which brought out the worst in my dad.

I’d give anything to be one big happy family.

I want peace in my life again. I want to feel like everything is going to be ok.

I am doing EFT tapping and trying to take care of myself, even though I don’t feel like showering or brushing my teeth or going to yoga or doing laundry or vacuming or anything. I’m sort of dead inside–dormant is a better word–I was starting to blossom but now I am dormant like a bulb in the winter. And I hate it.

So I am trying to claw my way out of this depression. I’m weak. I’m scared. I’m vulnerable. I’m confused. I’m frustrated. I’m emotionally drained. I’m distraught. I’m burdened. I’m defensive. I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m apathetic. I’m literally tied in knots and seeing a new chiropractor to try to unclench and untwist my poor body.

But I haven’t given up hope yet. And I’m trying to get better.

XOXO,

MLACS

 

Earth to Earth, Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust 💔

Last Thursday morning, Mr. MLACS woke me up around 4am to tell me my sister had tried to call me five times since 3am. I knew it was going to be bad news. Both my maternal Grandma and my Father had been in the hospital–but both were supposed to be recovering.

My Father died.

It was surreal. I sat on the floor of my bedroom closet so as not to wake up BG, who was sleeping in our bed. I didn’t cry, I just listened to my sister talk. He had prostate cancer (I knew this) but it was not very serious so they had not been treating it. However, they did a biopsy on it a few weeks ago and punctured his urethra in the process, which caused an infection. Once they realized their mistake, they then gave him the *wrong antibiotics*. As it turns out he had an E. Coli infection, and so the wrong antibiotics made it much worse. When they finally realized they had f*cked up royally, they admitted him to the VA hospital. He was so sick he didn’t even tell anyone he was going. My sister tracked him down, and visited him. He seemed ok. Nurses checked him at 2am–he was fine–they returned at 2:38am and found him dead on the floor…asphyxiated…

While it looks like gross negligence, I feel in my heart that he chose his moment and it was his time. His quality of life was not good. He was 69, morbidly obese with limited mobility, living alone, on the rocks with his girlfriend, and spent a lot of time watching tv and eating junk food. He was social on occassion, but far less than usual. He couldn’t see or hear well, and he couldn’t walk up or down stairs. A lot of his friends said they were surprised he was gone, that they had just seen him. But anyone with any common sense could see that he was declining and had a host of health issues/risk factors.

It would have been 4 years this month, since I had spoken to him. Except…

When Mr. MLACS collapsed and nearly died and I was having my colectomy in October, he sent my sister to my side, offering to pay her expenses, telling her to go and help me. An act of love and compassion.

I has sworn I’d never speak to him again. He was dead to me. He had caused me So. Much. Pain. during my Mom’s illness (which I forgave him) and then again years later during my battle with infertillity and loss. He was a crap father when I was young and proved incapable of having a healthy adult relationship. So I was done. The final straw was my child was born and we lived 15 minutes from him and he never even tried to contact me or see her. We moved to the South when she was 18 months old–by then I was so angry and hurt I vowed he’d never lay eyes on her. I threatened to cut off my sister if she so much as mentioned him.

But she had let me know he wanted to make peace with me, and then he financed her trip to help me this past October. So, I decided to call him and thank him in November. That was the last time I spoke to him. We communicated through my sister and I gave her permission to show him pictures of BG and keep him up to date on my little family. I was still very hesitant to reach out to him. I didn’t have the energy to forge a new relationship with him–I was struggling to heal from my surgery and Mr. MLACS’s cardiac arrest and moving into our house and being a wife and mother, etc. My sister did warn me that she didn’t think he’d be around much longer, but I was not going to be guilted or rushed.

And while yes, I wish things had been different, I don’t regret being distant from him. It wasn’t my job to make him happy at my own expense. It wasn’t my obligation to serve my daughter up so he could have his “grandpa experience” before he died. And I’m glad my kid was spared grief and loss.

As you know, I lost my dear departed Mother to breast/lung cancer in 2009. So I am an “adult orphan”. I miss her every day. She was amazing. She had a home daycare and LOVED kids…

I loaded up Mr. MLACS, BG, and our labrador retriever and drove all day Thursday, stopped for a few hours of sleep, and arrived just in time to meet my sister at the cemetary to pay for the portion of his burial not covered. In the process, I purchased the 2 cemetery plots next to my mother, where Mr. MLACS and I can be buried someday (hopefully many years from now, but God only knows).

We are staying at my family home and it’s both comforting and sorrowful. So many good memories of when we were a happy family before my Mom’s diagnosis in 2006 (albeit dysfunctional in our own way). When I see my daughter coloring at the same table where the daycare kids used to sit, and opening the gate to the downstairs where the daycare kids used to play…it’s just so unfair that she never got to be a grandma to BG. It breaks my heart. And she was the glue that held our family together, so if she was here I wouldn’t have fallen out with my father. We could have been one big happy family…

**I had to break down and cry here**

I grieve what might have been, but will never be.

And despite our differences, my dad was a pretty cool guy. He was a lame dad, but a pretty awesome person. My sister and I were under a tremendous amount of pressure to memorialize him and bury him with proper ceremony. He had literally been preparing us for his death since we were 12 years old. He was a successful business man and local bluegrass musician who lived and died in his hometown, so people were watching–most especially, the man himself, I was sure.

He thought it was best for person to be buried within 3 days of their death, so visitation was Sunday. I had a sitter for BG because 1. This was no place for a toddler, and 2. My Dad never met her so it felt wrong for any of his friends and family to meet her. Yet everyone asked me where she was, wtf?! Everyone knew we were estranged and it made the visitation uncomfortable for me, but I hung in there. I looked and acted dignified, as did my sister. It was sad and bittersweet to watch the memorial slideshow of all our happy moments as a family. They played one of his bluegrass cd’s he made of him singing and playing guitar…

Then finally the funeral was yesterday (Monday). Of course we have not had much sleep and not slept well, and poor BG woke up at 3am coughing so hard she vomited and burning up with fever. I had to send Mr. MLACS to get tylenol for her. I somehow managed to pull myself together and look nice for the funeral. I hated to leave BG with a sitter when she was not feeling well.

The service opened with his bluegrass buddies playing “Amazing Grace”–of course I cried. The pastor spoke and then I stood up and tearfully read what I had written at 3am when I was up with BG:

“My Dad was a passionate man. Passionate about life, and love. He was a man of leisure, and he had many pleasures. He enjoyed good company, and he was excellent company.

He was lighthearted, but soulful. He had a lot of corny jokes and anecdotes, but he would also wax poetic for hours, sharing his philosophies on life–he was deep. His definition of success, was happiness. And he was a happy, jovial man. If you asked him how he was, one of his standard replies was “I’m effervescing, my bubbles are all the way to the top!” He had a generous nature, and enjoyed treating people. He was always there for a friend in need, without expecting anything in return. He was diplomatic, and underneath his airy fascade, he was a very intelligent man. He appreciated his mentors and was himself, a mentor to a great many people. He liked to say “Those who can DO, can’t teach”, and he considered himself a “do’er”, but ironically, he was also a very good teacher. He would be proud to be remembered as a renaissance man–a man of many talents. Most prominently, a musician. The best time of his life was when he was living out of his car, playing music on the road with my mom by his side. He spoke wistfully of this part of his life where he had his passion–music–his freedom, and his soul mate. There are pitifully few people in this world that can say their dreams were realized, but my father was one of the lucky ones. He ticked every box on his “bucket list”, and more.
And that’s how he wants to be remembered. As a man of substance, who had an abundance of joy and shared it with the people around him. He is gone, but could never be forgotten.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. May he rest in peace.”
My sister said it was perfect and I’d said everything she’d wanted to say. Others agreed it was a good homage to him. My sister spoke, as did his best friend. The service closed with the bluegrass band playing “I’ll Fly Away” and we all sang along. It was just as he would have wanted.
And now we have the monumental task of dealing with the estate. My father was a smart business man and he left us a lot of properties. He was well organized, but it’s still a lot to deal with. I don’t feel like dealing with it, but I must. To his credit, Mr. MLACS has been invaluable in this process. I simply couldn’t do it without him.
Now I’m more terrified than ever that I’ll lose Mr. MLACS. He’s doing well but I’ve nearly lost him twice in the last 3 years, so it’s not just me being paranoid.
I love my hometown and want to be here to sort through the estate with my sister, but I long for my house in the South. Being here at my family’s home was precious for a couple of days but it is physically unconfortable (the guest beds suck) and emotionally draining–now it feels cumbersome. I’m completely exhausted. I’m overwhelmed. And both myself and BG are out of sorts and miss our “routine”. We have to interview and hire an estate lawyer tomorrow, and a few other things, but then I intend to leave on Thursday. I have been planning BG’s 3rd birthday party on her actual bday next Sunday, complete with a bouncy housw and goodie bags, etc. And I want to take a break from grieving and celebrate my greatest gift, my baby girl ❤

 

Blunted. Muted. Faded. (Adrenal Fatigue after Prolonged Corticosteroid Use)

Terms which describe how I feel right now. I’m exhausted. I have alot of aches and pains in my muscles and joints. I’m cold all the time, and when I’m cold I can hardly move–it feels like a chore to get up from a chair and go to the next room. I’ve gained weight even though I’ve been eating healthier…

This is Adrenal Fatigue.

Post-surgery and a deadly fight with chronic illness. When does it get better and STAY better? Because I felt fabulous right after surgery…but then weaning off the Prednisone and pain medications revealed that my body is in rough shape and in no way back to “normal”.

It’s good that I’m off the Prednisone–my face has shrunk and I recognize myself in the mirror. My body now has a chance to recover from the damage the Pred did. But how f*cking long will it take to heal???

I’m tired of feeling like sh*t.

And I’m trying to help myself. Been eating more whole foods, way less sugar/processed foods, even though I crave sugar because *adrenal fatigue*.

I started going to the gym again, taking barre and power yoga and lifting weights. I only manage a couple days a week though, so I haven’t seen much results. I’m sore.

I started taking CW (charlotte’s web) brand CBD oil (cannabinoid oil) and it has helped me to feel somewhat better–it successfully weaned me off pain killers, as I was dependent on Hydrocodone (small amount, half of a 5-325 daily). And thank goodness because I have no way to obtain more pain meds at this time. Nor do I want to.

While I like feeling calm and not angry all the time (‘roid rage from presnisone), I miss having energy. I miss having intensity. I feel so lame now.

I read that it could take 12-18 months to recover from “moderate” adrenal fatigue. I really don’t have the patience to feel like crap for another year. I have an almost 3yr old to chase after. I have a house I still need to finish moving into and organize. I have a garage that is full of stuff that I need to declutter (sell/get rid of A LOT). I want to get in shape and look/feel amazing–I also have my 20th highschool reunion coming up in August. We might be moving again (Mr. MLACS is looking for a new position). And if I’m going to TTC, I have to do it soon because I’m 38yrs old already! Plus I want to do more with my life…

I don’t want to just feel ok, I want to feel *good* again. Soon.

XOXO,

MLACS

Resurrection

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“As the legend goes, when the Phoenix resurrects from the flames, she is even more beautiful than before”–Danielle LaPorte

In 2017…I lost my house to a fire, my health to Crohn’s disease (and subsequently my colon to a colectomy, my hair to Stelara, and my mind to Prednisone), and last–but certainly not least–I lost my husband to a SCA (sudden cardiac arrest).

Luckily, I got them all back.

My house has been repaired, my health recovered, and my husband resurrected.

And I lived through it all, with as much grace and courage and dignity as I could muster.

I have scars, both inside and out.

But I feel so proud of myself.

So at peace with myself.

Strong. Confident. Determined.

I have walked through the flames.

I will rise from these ashes.

More beautiful than before–not in vain–but rather, a beauty of essence. Of spirit. Of soul.

In 2018, I will emerge, radiant.

XOXO,

MLACS

 

My 38th Birthday! Reflections On 37–The Sh*ttiest Year of My Life

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Hey! So it was my 38th birthday last weekend and we celebrated by taking a trip to nearby city. We dressed up and took BG to a “Teddy Bear Tea” at a fancy hotel, and it was cute but not as precious as I had hoped, probably because we had all been quite ill the week leading up to it. BG was on Prednisone, which made her nutty and she had lots of temper tantrums and meltdowns in her toddler fits of “roid rage” (which made me feel totally validated for my own outbursts while on Prednisone). But despite BG’s nuttiness, we all enjoyed ourselves at the tea and for the rest of the weekend’s activities, which included stumbling upon a winter festival, Christmas light displays, and culminated in a ride on The Polar Express train, which was really very charming.

While I planned all these activities in hopes of creating magical moments and memories for BG, these events/moments were just as much for my own fulfillment–it is my pleasure to be able to do all these things with BG. And I would have died to go to a teddy bear tea or the polar express train as a child–these weren’t options back in my day and even if they were options, we didn’t have the money (the tickets for these events are quite pricey and I’ve been planning this weekend since July). So yeah, I am living vicariously through my kid. I cannot wait to take her to The Nutcracker ballet this weekend (her third one) and I’m hoping she can behave herself! Last year was a bit hairy and she is WAY more difficult now, as she is nearly 3 years old and is becoming a bonafide “threenager”. But she loves ballet, so hooefully she’ll be captivated and remain in her seat for at least the first half.

So none of this has anything to do with the title, as my birthday weekend was all good and (mostly) drama-free. Except for we nearly missed the polar express train and had to run several city blocks to make it–but we made it! Crisis averted.

But here’s what:

It was a year ago that I started “flaring”. For my last birthday, I was bleeding, feeling like sh*t and desperately hoping things would clear up on their own, without any “extra” meds like Uceris or *gasp* Prednisone (the worst)…because I wanted to start TTC. I even filled a script for Crinone (progesterone)!

Bah ha ha ha ha ha!

Now here I am a year later, having been on Prednisone for nearly a year (I’m down to 10mg/day) . My colon is gone. I found out I have Crohn’s, not UC. I have a permanent ileostomy. And I can count on one hand how many times I’ve had sex this past year–definitely NOT pregnant!

It was the hardest year of my life–I don’t know how I managed to get through it. By the grace of God, I survived. I cared for my child. I cared for my sick husband.

I held it together.

Even when I had nothing left in me. Even when the pain and fatigue was insufferable.

I did everything in my power to get well, and when nothing worked I found the courage to have the surgery–even after Mr. MLACS’s sudden collapse (SCA).

I f*cking did it.

So yeah, it was THE worst year of my life but nobody knew that (except you guys) because I kept calm(ish) and carried on.

Thank God for BG, because she was my reason to get out of bed in the morning and do my best, no matter what.

Thank God for Mr. MLACS, because he was my rock.

I don’t know what the future holds but I learned something invaluable this past year…

I can handle anything.

XOXO,

MLACS