Love and Loss and The Space In-Between

Kitty had been my constant companion for 10 years. And yesterday he died, cradled in my arms as I told him I loved him, that he was important, and that I’m so very, very sorry.

He died with my consent. And I hate myself for it. Because I didn’t do it because it was best for him. I did it because I am overwhelmed and felt incapable of dealing with his inappropriate urination. I did it because I am “touched out” by having constant human contact with my young children and when I have 5 minutes to myself I didn’t want to be touched, but he would insist, and instead of feeling loved I felt used. I did it because we had grown apart–I have a family now–but he wanted things to stay the way they were when there was no husband, no dog, no preschooler and no baby. He was stressed and unhappy, so he pee’d on my family’s belongings. I was physically and mentally incapable of giving him the love and attention he received when it was *just us* and I grew to resent him.

It was me, not him. My fault. Not his. My inadequacy. My postpartum mood disorder. My heart that was not big enough.

The inappropriate urination started over a year ago. He was pee’ing on the dog bed. We thought it was the dog and crated our poor innocent labrador. Until one evening Kitty did it in front of Mr. MLACS–he was furious. I was angry but stuck up for Kitty. Took him to be examined by the vet and he did have a UTI, which we treated. He was still pee’ing on the dog bed, but less. I took him to be re-examined, and the infection was gone. It was then that the vet informed me that stress can cause UTI’s in cats. She gave me “kitty prozac” (Amitriptyline), which we tried but it made him seem drugged so I stopped using it. I didn’t know what had stressed him out as no particular event had happened. I also wasn’t sure why he was targeting the dog bed, but it seemed mean and unfair to our dog.

Then I became pregnant with LS, and I was very sick and he was very on-top of me, which felt suffocating to me. I was stressed because Mr. MLACS’s job was toxic and we needed to find a better situation. Then when Mr. MLACS found a new job and it required us to move, I had the stress of orchestrating the move while pregnant, while my husband was working several states away, while his crazy toxic boss lived across the street, while trying to stay calm for my preschooler, while trying to make a magical Christmas for her amidst the chaos. Then there was this cat, clawing up my front door when I needed to sell this house, eating my flowers so I had to keep them in a place I couldn’t see them, pee’ing on the dog bed (creating tension with my spouse) and meowing waking my kid up when he wanted to eat. I was so sick of his sh*t. Couldn’t he see how hard I was trying? He didn’t care.

Kitty wasn’t really interested in anyone else but me. He and Mr. MLACS got along ok until he started pee’ing, but Mr. MLACS was angry and Kitty took to avoiding him. Kitty never really bonded with BG and that is my fault, because I had very bad PPA/PPD and kept Kitty (and everyone) at arms length for the first year. So it was just me that he wanted. Only me.

Things hit the fan when we moved from the deep south to the far north this past winter. I was in my third trimester and struggling to settle the new place–a rental that did not feel like home–while also trying to settle my preschooler and find her school/activities/friends so she didn’t feel so lost (and she was highly emotional). I was sick All. Winter. Long. And on top of all that, Kitty was pee’ing inappropriately and hiding. I felt such contempt for him. We started giving him prozac every day, and he calmed down. But things were never the same. Mr. MLACS hated him and blamed me as well. I was tired of the tension in my household. I was just so f*cking tired. Exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally. My toddler insisted on sleeping with me, my 9 month pregnant body hurt and I was getting up to pee and/or vomit several times per night. Kitty tried to sleep next to me and when I would try to move him away he would fight me. That made me SO angry–I needed just a shred of personal space, and he didn’t care.

Then I had my baby, and closed the bedroom door. I was bed sharing and didn’t trust Kitty not to lay on her and smother her because she was in “his spot” next to me. I hated keeping the door closed because it made me feel closed off from the rest of my family. BG was used to bed sharing with me and she was very upset that things changed when the baby came, and I wanted to keep my door open for her, but couldn’t. Kitty was obnoxious. He would howl outside the door and wake us up. The moment I opened the door he would run under the bed and hide there all day until Mr. MLACS chased him out at bedtime. I had to keep bedroom doors, closet doors, all doors shut for fear of Kitty pee’ing. Kitty was skiddish and would only make himself known to yowl at me if his breakfast was late. It was not a good situation for any of us. But I kept hoping things would get better somehow.

They didn’t.

We bought a new house and we moved, and Kitty escalated.

So I talked to our new vet here. She said Kitty was not happy and would probably be better off not living with us. I started writing to pet rescues and shelters. He’s a beautiful cat! Very loving! Playful! Just has his teeth deep cleaned to the tune of several hundred dollars! He just…pee’s inappropriately because he needs an owner to be mutually obsessed with him and I’m not that person anymore…

I didn’t hear back from anyone. I didn’t have time or energy to follow up because *moving* for the 2nd time in 6 months with a small child and infant was more than I could handle. Plus my milk supply tanked from the stress so I had to worry about feeding my baby. And BG has had summer camp daily and speech therapy 2x per week. I have been feeling like I am drowning. Not showering, not taking care of myself. Kitty was so far down on my list.

For his part, Mr. MLACS had been banging around and yelling about throwing the cat outside or even shooting him, but when I told him I was looking into shelters he backpedaled and said “But he’s family, we couldn’t do that”. Which felt very unfair to me–so we should keep him on principal and you’ll continue being a dick to me and the cat when things go wrong?? But then Mr. MLACS also stepped up and has been feeding kitty 2x per day and crushing up the prozac and mixing it into his dinner food and scooping the litterbox.

However, with the last incident Mr. MLACS locked him up in the basement bathroom. And I just said “Ok”. I didn’t fight. Normally my stomach is in knots when Mr. MLACS informs me of Kitty’s bad behavior and consequences. But this time I just felt…nothing. He stayed there for a week and I never visited him (Mr. MLACS continued to care for him). I don’t know what was wrong with me but my emotion for him was just shut down. I know it is at least partially postpartum mood disorder on top of moving and struggling to parent 2 small kids 24/7. My nerves were just shot. Mr. MLACS was shocked and I believe disturbed that I didn’t take up for Kitty the way I always had. Completely out of character for me. I am fiercely loyal. But apparently, I have limits and Kitty had reached them. I spoke to the vet pleading for a solution and she offered humane euthanasia.

I broached the topic of humane euthanasia with Mr. MLACS and he said absolutely not! He went out and bought Kitty a new cat tree, came home and let him out of the bathroom. And Kitty ran to me. Meowing. Rubbing all over me. I just wanted nothing to do with him. I petted him out of obligation.

That was Friday. The next day I saw Kitty basking in the warmth of the sun, looking content, and I felt happy for him. I saw a glimmer of hope.

On Sunday I woke up and Mr. MLACS said “He did it again”. He had pee’d on BG’s teepee again.

And that’s when I knew he had to go. I couldn’t live with him anymore.

I thought “This must be what it feels like to fall out of love and want a divorce”. I never understood how a person could betray someone who loved them and was loyal to them. But here I was, feeling trapped in a life with this cat. I wanted to see him happy with someone else. Not me.

I tried to re-home him with people I know. Shelters didn’t answer their phones. But then I had an epiphany…he would never be happy at a shelter anyway. Would I want him to live like that? No. Could I put him outside? No. We live next to a busy street. I would never want him to die alone and in pain by being hit by a car.

I didn’t want to euthanize him, but I felt I had no other option.

I thought “I feel trapped and powerless in this situation, even though I have a choice. This must be how abused women feel in their relationships”. I had always judged and never understood.

It appeared that I had a choice–to love and accept him as he was, or to euthanize him. But it was not that simple–I have a family. My family deserves to live in a peaceful house. The tension of waiting for Kitty’s next episode and the inevitable fallout was hurting us all–especially Kitty.

I had the vet over and she assured me euthanasia was the right thing to do to spare Kitty undue stress and a potentially cruel end to his life. She also validated that I had put forth a sufficient amount of effort and suffered enough myself on Kitty’s behalf. She could see how much I’m struggling in this season of life–with my decision– and she had compassion for me.

I did not want to be make this decision. I felt guilty and ashamed. Yet, I knew that things couldn’t go on this way, with my entire household suffering.

I had to put an end to to it. And it seemed my only choice was to end Kitty’s life, in the most gentle and dignified way.

I scheduled Kitty’s euthanasia for the next day. I spent the rest of the day feeling like I was in the twilight zone…How had it come to this? Was I really doing this? How could I?

Each night after the kids are asleep I sneak downstairs to pump milk for LS and do chores such as washing bottles/pump parts, dishes, and laundry. I thought I should go be with Kitty, but couldn’t bring myself to do it–to stir up both our emotions. Instead, I clung to my routine. I was alone with my thoughts for the first time that day, and suddenly I was overwhelmed with grief. Sobbing over my sink.

I didn’t sleep much that night.

I begrudgingly awoke and stumbled through the day feeling anxious and tense. I needed mental and physical space but got none, because I was laboring to calm and soothe a cranky teething baby and to service a demanding preschooler. I was also sleep-deprived and in pain, hobbling around on a sprained ankle while struggling to run my household.

The vet couldn’t come while BG was at summer camp in the morning, so I had asked Mr. MLACS to leave work early and take both girls out of the house. Late in the afternoon it suddenly occurred to me that I might want to prepare…what would I wear? I would probably never want to look at those clothes again afterwards. I was going to wear some old sweats, but then I saw my pink fuzzy bathrobe and I knew that was it–I would cuddle myself and also cuddle Kitty in my fluffy robe. I wasn’t hungry but I made myself eat an early dinner of leftover thai food (my go-to comfort food) because I’m breastfeeding and mourning cannot include skipping meals. I had sort of hoped Mr. MLACS would come home early enough that I could go spend time with Kitty before the vet arrived, but he came home just in time to load the girls and leave. We didn’t tell BG what was going on. I didn’t see any good coming from that.

The vet arrived and I cried as I handed her my debit card to cover the expense of Kitty’s euthanasia and cremation. I find dealing with money for services when someone dies feels unnatural, especially in this case–I was paying her to end my cat’s life.

I decided there needed to be music, and fumbled with our tv until I found a soft jazz station. Then when there was no more time to waste, I shoved a bunch of Kleenex in the pockets of my fuzzy pink bathrobe and led the vet downstairs to the bathroom. I opened the door and he meowed from under the sink. He loves women so he immediately started rubbing on the vet’s leg. She petted him, and I kept hoping she’d say she would keep him and that we didn’t have to do this.

Instead, she gave Kitty a shot of sedative. When he seemed woozy I scooped him into my arms and cradled him like a baby, stroking him and kissing him like old times. My tears fell like rain onto his fur. We moved into the playroom. I had to sign a waiver and then I nodded that the doc could begin. She quickly shaved a spot of the fur on his paw, inserted and IV, and gave him the injection.

I sat on the couch, rocking him. Through sobs I said to him that I loved him, that he was a good cat, that he was important, that I would never forget him, that I was sorry I had not loved him better–the way he deserved. I said to the vet “If only I could just hold him like this all the time, maybe he wouldn’t act the way he does”, and she gently said “But you can’t”.

She asked me if I wanted to keep a tuft of his fur, and my genuine reply was “I’ve lost so many people–both my parents and all of my grandparents–and physical things don’t matter. All we really have are our memories.” She nodded.

She placed Kitty in a blanket, offered her condolences and left.

I collapsed on the couch and aching sobs arose from my soul.

I hadn’t cried this hard about either of my parents. But this was different…

Kitty loved only me. He was my first baby–my son. He came at a time when I needed him most, just after my Mom died. He was a gift from God.

And then it dawned on me…

Jesus was a gift from God–his only son. He gave only love, and yet he was treated poorly and killed. Now I know my cat is not Jesus, but when I drew this parallel I felt closer to God.

I realize how flawed I am as a human being–that I couldn’t make room in my heart and my household to love Kitty better and that I ended his life. That when tested, I have limits.

I realize how many times I’ve judged people, but this experience has humbled me.

I know I had to do this. It was part of God’s plan for me to bear this burden, learn and grow from it. Kitty’s life and death was not in vain.

But when Mr. MLACS says “It was the right thing to do”, I beg to differ. It wasn’t “right”.

I have to ask God and Kitty for forgiveness and seek redemption.

RIP Kitty Mow. I love you. I’m sorry.

XOXO,

MLACS

Birth Story Part 2

…When we left off I was getting ready to get my epidural…

My contractions had gotten stronger and sitting upright on my pink exercise ball was causing more pressure and thusly, more pain–during contractions I’d say it was a strong 4 or 4.5 (on a scale of 1-10 with 5 being “I want drugs” and 10 being “I’m bloodcurdling screams and blacking out”). But I was enjoying bobbing lightly on my ball in between contractions. And my nurse, Jennifer, had wrapped me in warm blankets so I felt comfy and cared for. I actually don’t mind this part of labor, where the pain is intense but manageable, contractions are far enough apart that you can relax a bit in between them, and I naturally get into “the zone” and ride the contractions like waves. It’s actually really cool.

However, Jennifer suggested the epidural would allow her to push the pitocin and kick my labor into gear, or I could just sit there in pain bobbing on my ball for hours with mediocre results. So I took her up on the epidural. My sibling doula had cautioned me to request that the attending do my epidural (not a resident)–I didn’t ask her why. So when this perky young blonde came to see me about the epidural, I told her I’d like the attending to do it and she looked frustrated and asked if I’d had a bad experience. To which I replied with a smile, “No, I’ve had good experiences–and I want to keep it that way.” The attending came in (a mature woman) and asked me the same question–she looked amused and clearly didn’t GAF that the resident was butt-hurt. A couple pokes later and I was comfortably numb, but still able to move my lower limbs.

LS kept falling off the monitor and Jennifer plus a whole team of nurses had a helluva time finding her–she was faced toward my spine (they even brought in the ultrasound machine to find her). Every time they’d get her on the monitor and go to leave the room, she’d get lost again. If I was them I’d have lost my mind. But they patiently macgyvered my monitor over and over again until my belly was a ball of slime from all the gel. Finally LS stayed put and I tried to sleep–which totally was not happening–but I rested. I watched Mr. MLACS sleep and was slightly jealous, but glad because I worry about him so I wanted him to get some rest. I also had vintage black and white movies/musicals on tv–I never watch tv anymore (like it will be on but I tune it out) so that was kind of cool. And my L&D room was huge and had a wall of windows facing city lights, so I kept the shades open and enjoyed looking out at the cityscape.

I had to pee and empty my ostomy bag a couple times, which was difficult as I had an IV in my right arm and a pole holding my bags of saline and pitocin. But I got it done without any help. I had forewarned Jennifer that I puked exorcist-style during labor with BG, but naturally after I made a big deal about it I didn’t puke at all.

So I was in a daze during the twilight hours and didn’t realize how much time was passing as I drifted in-and-out of consciousness, but eventually it was time for shift change and I had to say goodbye to my buddy Nurse Jennifer and welcome her relief, Nurse Christy. Also the OBGYN from my practice who ordered my induction, Dr. H, had been with me overnight. But I had to say goodbye to her and welcome Dr. S–luckily I had met and liked Dr. S so I was fine with it.

I was close to 10cm dilated at this point, and I was having breakthrough pain–nothing terrible–but I took full advantage of *the button* I could push every 10min or so that gave me more epidural. Which may be why I was in a dream-like state and also why I began to feel very nauseous…

Before I knew it, Dr. S and two residents strode through the door, checked me, and decided the time was NOW. It felt surreal as I watched everyone scurry around the room, pulling lights down from the ceiling, putting on scrubsvand face masks, wheeling in trays of instruments and a “baby warmer”, and finally, placing my feet in the stirrups.

I had asked Nurse Christy to apply gentle countrr-pressure to my ostomy, in hopes of preventing a peristomal hernia. On my right was Christy. On my left was Mr. MLACS.

The docs told me to get ready to push…I told them to wait a minute because…

I was going to puke.

Mr. MLACS held a large beaker cup and I turned my head and vomited a cup of stomach bile into the beaker.

Then pushed.

Then puked.

Then pushed.

And without warning, this purple ball of screaming flesh was placed on my chest, as I was still heaving and wiping my mouth. I was in shock and disbelief, trying to process.

Mr. MLACS looked about as stunned as I was, but after what was probably 20 seconds that felt like 20 minutes, I placed my hands on our baby, looked at Mr. MLACS, and said “Well, we did it!”

Baby LS was 7lb 8oz, and 21 inches long. She was not as pristine as BG was when she was born, but it is now clear that she was bloated and now that a couple weeks have passed her features are sharper and resemble BG’s. She’s absolutely beautiful ❤

And of course, BG is very proud to be a big sister! She wants to help with everything–bringing me diapers/wipes/hand sanitizer, etc.

It has not been easy though.

BG is having a hard time adjusting. So are we. There have been bumps in the road, and I’ll write about those later.

For now, I want to say how grateful I am that LS is here and healthy. She is a dream come true! I am bedsharing with both my girls and it is pure bliss to wake up in between them ❤

XOXO,

MLACS

Ridiculous

Guys, it’s been a roller coaster. So, bullet points:

  • Mr. MLACS saw the Cardiologist after his “episode” and Cardiologist surprised him by saying he is now a good candidate for the ablasion surgery!
  • Mr. MLACS has lost over 100lbs this year, but still needs to lose 57lbs to get under 40% BMI for his height, so we thought he was disqualified from any procedures until he lost more weight. *side note: the BMI chart is stupid*
  • Mr. MLACS accepted a job up North, so we are moving. He HATES his job here and his old company made him a good offer, and we decided to go for it.
  • After Cardiologist said ablasion surgery was a “go” pending his discussion with his colleague, Mr. MLACS decided he wanted to do it before we move up North. He was SO excited at the prospect!
  • Mr. MLACS became panicked from stress at his current job and the stress of waiting for the *official* job offer. He was having heart palpitations and said it was similar to what was happening prior to his last “episode” (defibrillation). So I packed up my kid in her jammies and my pregnant self and took him to the ER at 8pm on a Wednesday in monsoon rains. They said he’s fine. I asked him to work from home for the next 2 days so he could calm down.
  • Friday we saw Cardiologist again, anticipating scheduling the ablasion…
  • Cardiologist says his colleague reviewed his case and said he’s not a candidate for ablasion surgery. Ever. Due to what happened during his initial cardiac arrest.
  • So the Cardiologist has been pushing Mr. MLACS to lose weight for this ablasion for *a year*, never bothered to consult about it, and then CRUSHES Mr. MLACS by telling him it’s not even an option.
  • Oh and instead, Cardiologist puts him on a new med (Amitriptyline)  with serious potential side effects to help his arrythmias.
  • And *then* Cardiologist says “You really must lose that 57lbs because the way you are going you are going to need something (like an LVAT) before you’re 50. Even though none of your tests show no abnormalities, the fact that you’re being defibrillated every 6 months indicates there is something wrong.”
  • Mr. MLACS starts crying while I sit there numb, in disbelief. And Cardiologist backpedals trying to make it seem not so bad.
  • I try to comfort Mr. MLACS after we leave. But it’s hard because it does not feel like things are going to be ok. Ever.
  • I bottle it up and morbid anxiety-induced visions of the future plague me for the next several days. Visions of my little girls grieving because he dies, because they find him dead or he dies right in front of them, or of him becoming disabled/incapacitated.
  • I throw myself into trying to figure out this move. It’s overwhelming.
  • After I found a house I like, it is revealed that we cannot buy a house because Mr. MLACS’s federal student loans are in default–he didn’t even know and I found out from a mortage broker. I’m livid because I’ve been checking with him periodically and emphasizing that he MUST keep them in good standing or they can and will garnish his wages and it will ruin his credit. He blew me off and also never bothered to check his credit report. I hate being right sometimes.
  • So then he tells me his choices are to pay $1100/mo for 9 months to get the loans out of default/collections (and I assume keep paying $1100/mo) *or* pay $50k in a lump sum.
  • I don’t want to bring my baby home to a rental house in March. I don’t want to move again. I’m f*cking exhausted at the thought of it. I don’t want to “waste” money on rent.
  • I have the money from my inheritance, but my own federal student loans are in default. Why should I pledge my/our nest egg for his mistake? True, he gave me $333/mo for 5 years to pay off $21k private student loans while I was a SAHM…and he was a total dick about it. He yelled at me “Well I paid your loans!” But what he’s asking is not fair or equal. And the fact that he is demanding it when he made me grovel is the definition of irony.
  • I am really sick of him. Sick of worrying about his heart because he ignored my pleas for him to quit smoking and lose weight and now the damage is done. Sick of him acting like I should use my finite inheritance money as income. Sick that he thinks he’s entitled to it for his student loan f*ck up–this hypocrite lectures me any time I spend too much at Target. Sick that I have to move out of my dream house and drive my 7 months pregnant ass and my kids north for 3-4 days *through the snow in January* to live in a rental home, so Mr. MLACS can have a job he likes–but there’s only a 2-3 year contract so if he stays with the company we have to move again. And again. And again. Or settle somewhere without him. I’m sick that even though he’ll be making $2k more per month he tried to tell me I had to pay $1100/mo for his student loans. And this is in addition to A LOT of other stuff I’ve been paying for, like preschool and dance classes and clothes and lawncare and date nights and all my bills–this is from my inheritance money, I don’t work outside the home. I’ve vowed not to use any of the rental income as personal income for awhile (it stays in the business account) because it’s not consistent and I need to invest in repairs b/c some of the houses are in shambles. But all of a sudden he treats me like a bank. My Dad died. My Grandma died. And even though he’s been supporting us for years he is acting broke.
  • I wish I didn’t have this money (well actually I *do* appreciate being financially secure) because Mr. MLACS is greedy about money–it has always been a thing with him. And me getting this inheritance makes him act like Ebineezer Scrooge, whereas we were in a good place before that.. after years of him being a dick about it, berating and degrading me when finances got tight even though it was NEVER because *I* was financially irresponsible.
  • And now he has f*cked up financially BIG time several times this year alone, and he expects me to dismiss it, without him taking full accountabilty, offering sincere apologies, or giving an explanation of how he intends to do better. Nope, he just wants to sweep it under the rug.
  • Oh and then use my inheritance to fix it because I’m over here “freeloading” as a wife and mother.
  • I found a house to rent up North, since we can’t buy, and I had us fill out credit and background checks last night. This morning I get a call from prospective landlord asking to explain *the 2016 eviction*. I’m like “You must be mistaken”. But no, apparently Mr. MLACS cosigned a lease for his mother before he met me…we have been estranged from her since BG was born nearly 4 years ago. She’s a horrible person and Mr. MLACS was the family scapegoat. Well, now we have to get a lawyer to fight *her* eviction on his record. I explained everything to potential landlord and gave proof that we were not living in that state and in fact have an excellent reference ftom the property management company we were *actually* renting from. But it’s a mess.
  • I own several rental properties and I have money, but I can’t buy a f*cking house. Now I can’t even rent one. This is ridiculous.
  • Did I mention BG has been sick for the last several days and I haven’t gotten any sleep and she is needy and whiney and wants to be on me like velcro 24/7? I have no space to think or breathe. I am low on energy. And then today I’m having back spasms and my uterus felt tight.
  • I called Mr. MLACS crying and I found it insulting when he asked what’s wrong…EVERYTHING is wrong and he KNOWS it. He told me to take it easy.
  • I asked Mr. MLACS to help me get the house ready because the listing agent is coming over tomorrow.  He yelled and berated me for every little thing, like that I hadn’t unloaded the dishwasher. He was insufferable. I finally turned around and said “FINE! I’m not selling this house, I’m staying! I don’t even want to move at this point! So do the dishes, don’t do the dishes, I don’t f*cking CARE! YOU go work up north. I’ve dealt with a metric ton of your bullsh*t this week and I’m DONE!” He says “Well you’ll have to explain that to her (BG)”…and I’m thinking…you probably won’t live to see her graduate highschool so she may as well get used to not having you around…but I didn’t say that.
  • Mr. MLACS is a great dad. And he loves me. But he needs so much f*cking therapy. When he gets stressed or feels threatened (or when there’s money involved) he turns into a monumental dickhead. He’s *my* dickhead. But I f*cking hate him when he’s like that. And I hate it when I have to sink to his level to deal with him–there is no progress with taking “the high road”.
  • After declaring that I was done trying to tidy the house because IDGAF if goes on the market, I went and laid down on a heating pad and left him to do (or not do) the chores.
  • He did them.
  • Why’s it always gotta be like this? With all the drama. We are a magnet for drama.

XOXO,

MLACS

A Mixed Bag

So I should probably start with an update from my last post–I celebrated my one-year stomaversary on October 17th. I did not get a cake, but we were on “vacation” in my midwestern  hometown so we could enjoy fall weather (since it’s still hot in the south) and so I could handle some business with my parents’ estate/my inheritance. We enjoyed ourselves–I caught up with my old friends, and BG played with their kids and had a ball. We took our labrador and he enjoyed going to “puppy camp” (doggy daycare) a couple times and every morning we’d bring him scrambled eggs from breakfast (we stayed at a Staybridge Suites hotel as it allows pets and it provided breakfast, which was delicious). I enjoyed going to my old favorite restaurants to get yummy gluten-free specialties. And really, we’d love to move back there at some point because it’s a lovely town.

But there was some bad stuff too.

At the 9th hour of our 13 hour drive, I received word that my dear girlfriend had passed away of complications with her cancer. I knew she was terminal, but she had been just fine the day before and no one expected this. I was heartbroken that I didn’t get to see her one last time. I did join her husband and some friends to celebrate her life, but they were all drunk and disorderly (which is why I love them) and I had Mr. MLACS and BG with me so we didn’t stay long, as they were heading towards a collective breakdown. I didn’t make it to her official memorial and I know some of the crew found that offensive. But funerals are for the living. Jen knew I loved her. And I reached out to her husband to support him. I cried for her–she was a beautiful person.

Then, my sister was (as per usual) a giant passive-aggressive, manipulative pain-in-the-ass. She never misses an opportunity to make my life difficult and piss me off, then play the victim when I call her on her sh*t. She likes feeling like she has some power over me. It’s pathetic. And I’m sure our estate lawyer needed a drink after dealing with our quarrels last week–he will be so glad to be rid of us. I don’t envy him. We have one item left in the trust and then it will be dissolved and we won’t have to “work together” anymore as co-trustees.

And then, we took a 2hr trip to a nearby city to do fun stuff with BG in the afternoon and have dinner with a dear friend in the evening. But while we were riding the train at the zoo…

Mr. MLACS was shocked by his defibrillator.

He was sitting in the seat in front of me so I didn’t see his face, but I heard a loud crack and saw him fly back in his seat–I knew instantly that he’d been shocked…but I thought it was static electricity or a loose wire on the train…it didn’t even occur to me it was his ICD (pacemaker/defibrillator device implanted on his heart). He was in shock but he didn’t lose consciousness. I figured out what had happened and a wave of panic started in the pit of my stomach but BG was right next to me so I couldn’t react. I stayed eerily calm (which is how I am in these situations–I become automated). No one else knew anything was wrong and since Mr. MLACS was conscious I didn’t feel the need to call for help–I mean what could anyone do? I didn’t know what to do–the cardiologist never gave me any instructions.

So I sat there in shock, rubbing his back until we got off the train. Mr. MLACS was not feeling well but he could walk. We had promised BG to get her something at the gift shop and it was about to close so we ran in there and suddenly I knew I had to call his cardiologist and figure out what to do next. So I did that, and they said take him to an emergency room to be looked at. And I had to make a choice–go directly to an ER in the city *or* drive the 2hrs back to my hometown where the hospital has his previous records from his initial heart failure and drop him at the ER and take BG back to the hotel (because ER’s are no place for children or pregnant women). So I chose option 2 and just tried to stay calm. Mr. MLACS was floored. And blaming himself–asking “What did I do wrong?” It was heartbreaking.

So luckily BG fell asleep on the ride and I didnt have to explain why we were dropping Mr. MLACS at the hospital. While he got checked out, I started googling…and now I am PISSED at his cardiologist. Because *this guy* acted like the goal was for Mr. MLACS not yo have any more episodes. But from what I read, even the youngest and healthiest individuals with an ICD are shocked *1-2 times per year on average*. Mr. MLACS has been shocked twice this year, and both times we thought it was a crisis situation and that it wasn’t supposed to happen and I blamed myself–maybe he is too stressed and he needs less expectations and responsibilities, while Mr. MLACS agonizes over what he did wrong.

But the truth is, that his heart randomly malfunctions. The ER found nothing in his bloodwork. Nothing in his EKG. Nothing in his x-ray. His heartrate was perfectly normal (he was sitting peacefully on the train) and for no apparent reason he went into V-fib (a dangerous arrythmia). His heartrate went from 60bpm to 324bpm in an instant, his ICD device shocked him once on the lowest setting, and his heartrate returned to 60bpm as if nothing had even happened.

There was nothing we could do to prevent it. There is nothing we can do to stop it from happening again at this point. Mr. MLACS is dilligently losing weight so he can qualify for a surgery that will try to pinpoint the part of his heart that malfunctions to cause the arrythmia and have it ablazed (burnt so it quits wreaking havoc). But there are no guarantees.

I take solace in statistics–he is statistically likely to survive 10 more years. He could live decades–he’s young and most of the people with ICD’s are 60+ years old, so they skew the statistics. But I hate that we have to live in fear of the next “episode”. I hate how much pain/frustration/anxiety/guilt it causes Mr. MLACS. I hate that I need to teach BG how to dial 911 as soon as possible. I hate that I worry when he is alone with her or when he puts her on his shoulders–that she could be traumatized by witnessing an event or hurt because he fell while carrying her. I hate that I worry about Mr. MLACS driving and that I really don’t want him driving our girls–could I ever forgive myself if I allowed it and something happened to my babies while he was driving?

This is a heavy burden. All this fear.

But we have to keep living. We can’t let fear dictate our lives. Yes, we have to be dilligent and cautious, but we don’t have to be consumed by fear.

So I exhale and keep going.

XOXO,

MLACS

 

 

 

Trying To Keep Calm and Carry On

I had a hard time getting to sleep last night, after googling “melanoma” and desperately searching for “benign growths that look like melanoma” and coming up with nothing–just pics of melanoma–so either people don’t post their “I thought it was melanoma but it was just an XYZ!” photos, or, anything that looks like melanoma IS melanoma.

I used to go to tanning beds and the beach. Often. And I’d cover up my face because my parents had skin cancer on their faces (around the nose and mouth) and had scars where these were removed. I didn’t want scars on my face. But skin cancer didn’t seem like such a big deal.

I was so stupid.

God I hope I raise BG to be smarter than me, to make better decisions than me.

I mean I hope I get to raise her period, but what if I don’t? What if I die while she’s still a child? While she still needs me? What if it’s because I didn’t wear sunscreen and went to tanning beds?! What if she thinks I’m awful for screwing up her childhood with my cancer treatment? A kid shouldn’t have the burden of worrying about her parents dying…

Mr. MLACS had a bad Cardiology appointment recently. I didn’t even blog about it but I had BG with us because it was just a check-up. Then they told us he had been shocked by his pacemaker on March 24th–his heart rate was 300bpm (I didn’t know that 300bpm was even possible). We had no idea. And then at the appointment his BP was 150/110 and his heartbeat was irregular. I went numb. We had no clue he was in distress. The color drained from both of us. We were panic-stricken. Mr. MLACS cried. And BG was fully aware that something was very wrong. Kids are very sensitive and intuitive. She had flashbacks of when he was hospitalized. And we were at the appointment for 3 hours. Doc said Mr. MLACS *must* lose 100lbs as quickly as possible (he has been slowly losing weight but not very regimented). He is 6’6″ and about 415lbs, and he needs to be closer to 300lbs to qualify for surgery to find the part of his heart that is malfunctioning and causing arrhythmias. Or if he needed a heart transplant he doesn’t qualify because of his weight. This appointment was April 22nd and since then Mr. MLACS has been working on his diet. We dropped $1,000 and he is getting a nutrition/exercise plan from an excellent trainer friend of mine.

So you see I’m already riddled with anxiety. My dad just died–both my parents are deceased. I’m stressed dealing with the estate (my sister). I am just 6 months out from having had my total colectomy and still learning to live as an ostomate. One of my good friends just had his big toe amputated due to melanoma.

And now I have this large, inexplicable black growth on my leg. I literally want to dig it out myself, I loathe it so much right now. I’m so freaked.

But instead…

I slept in (because Mr. MLACS knew I was up fretting about this melanoma thing). We went to home depot. I took BG over to play with the neighbor girls on their blow-up waterslide. I fed her lunch and put her down for nap. I’m trying to “keep calm and carry on”.

I’m trying So. F*ing. Hard.

I don’t want to alarm BG. And I don’t want to taint her life with my fear/anxiety/depression. Which is very difficult, since we are together 24/7.

I’m calling the dermatologist and being seen first thing in the morning, and no matter what they say I’m having this thing removed and biopsied.

But in between, I am trying to live, laugh, and love. I love my family SO much. I love my BG with everything I am. And if it’s cancer, I’ll fight. 20180417_095910_Film1.jpg

XOXO,

MLACS

 

No Pressure…BUT…

Dear friends, this is a very special post; thanks in advance for your patience because it’s kind of long.
XOXO,
MLACS

My Mother owned and operated a licensed home daycare (as in, a daycare in our house) for 27 years—until she was diagnosed with terminal Breast/Lung Cancer in 2006. She was like the Sun and we (our immediate and extended family, friends, and the families she cared for) had always depended on her for sustenance–she was the matriarch. We all withered with grief when we realized her cancer was terminal and her days on this earth were numbered. The docs may as well have said Armageddon was upon us, because that’s how it felt. She was so graceful though—she actually comforted all of us, while carrying on her life and making sure she appreciated and enjoyed her remaining time on Earth (despite the rest of us falling apart, wallowing, and fighting amongst ourselves).
She made sure everybody knew how much she loved them—even our (mine and my younger sister’s) unborn children. For her remaining 3 years, my Mother lovingly prepared ‘hope chests’ for our weddings and for our future babies. The baby boxes are full of clothes, toys, Christmas ornaments, quilts…lots of little things she wanted them to have. I haven’t had the heart to open my baby box, but my sister filled me in on the contents. Our beloved Mother passed away on June 2, 2009, in the house that SHE had made a home. Are you crying yet? Me too.

A few months before my mother died, my sister demanded that her now-husband marry her so that our Mother could be present at her wedding (not that Mom was pushing us to get married; she never expressed any opinion about us getting married—but impressed upon us to be independent).
I had no prospects, and it was the furthest thing from my mind at that point. I was a rolling stone. However, when my mother passed I realized that I was stuck in a rut and I began to ponder how to manifest my destiny. I was 30 years old.

I believe my dear departed Mother has had a hand in how my life has unfolded since her passing. Here’s where this post gets interesting….

Each year since my Mother’s passing, something BIG has happened on or around her birthday, September 26th. I’m talking, life-changing events. I refer to them as “gifts”, because they have all changed my life for the better.

Here’s the list of “gifts”, in order:

1.       Kitty—October 6, 2009

I was not ‘in the market’ for a furry friend. But on an otherwise ordinary day, I walked out of my apartment to smoke a cigarette (yes I quit) and this kitten started circling my ankles. My heart dropped down to my feet—I had butterflies in my stomach. I invited him inside my apartment, one thing led to another, and now we’re inseparable. Totally caught me off-guard.

2.        Mr. MLACS—September 26, 2010 (Mom’s bday)

I was working in a bar to make ends meet (my degree was as useless as toilet paper) and my good girlfriend/co-worker got me trashed (and I let her) because it was my Mom’s birthday. Mr. MLACS walked into the bar as my shift was ending, and bought me a sugarfree redbull. As a general rule I didn’t give my number to guys I met at work, but he was a gentleman and I was driggity-drunk-drunk, so I ‘bent’ my rules and told him he could take me on a date. Again, butterflies. I had no idea that he was my future husband.

3.       Marriage—September 27, 2011

I had already planned a spring wedding and I did not want to get married early. But, my Ulcerative Colitis was “flaring” out-of-control and I had no health insurance. So in the interest of not starting off our marriage buried in the debt of medical bills, Mr. MLACS and I were legally wed at a courthouse in some po-dunk town near where we were living at the time. I felt the butterflies.

4.       Quit my Sh*tty Job—September 29, 2012

Mr. MLACS and I had just moved to a new city, and we were broke from the move (his company screwed us) and from paying for our (awesome) wedding. I desperately searched for a job, and I landed one in a medical office. But it was TORTURE. I was totally exploited, and I desperately wanted more for myself. I had ‘butterflies’ when I walked in the office and told them “today is my last day, mail me my check”. And then I self actualized and enrolled in a prerequisite class I needed in order to follow my destiny: to become a Nurse (after holding my Mom’s hand through terminal illness, having my own chronic illness, and taking care of kids all my life, it just “clicked”.)

The “butterflies” feeling I speak of is akin to fear, yet different. I think it is spiritual arousal, as interpreted by the body. While my mind did not recognize the significance of these “gifts” at the time, my soul did.

I still turn to my Mom when life overwhelms me. I have a sort of “shrine” to my Mother in my kitchen—a little alcove with pictures of her, and when I want to connect with her I light candles in my kitchen and I talk to her (usually sobbing) about what’s going on. I’m not one to ask for favors from God or my Mom, because I know (from experience) that what I want isn’t always what I need, and that when I leave room for possibility in my life, wonderful things happen that I couldn’t have imagined. So you see, I’m torn this year: I don’t want to request a “gift”, but there’s only ONE thing I desire; there’s only one life-changing thing I can imagine….

I’ve done my part, too. I’ve taken every pill and assumed every position. And now I’m (post-ovulation) waiting to exhale…

To add to the suspense, we’re moving (from the Southwest) back to my hometown (in the Midwest). The movers are, of course, coming on Thursday, September 26th to pack up our house. It’s only temporary, maybe a year (long enough to have a baby) or two at most. And I’m lucky to be able to surround myself with friends and family after a year of tumult and heartache (chronic illness & miscarriage). But I hope that moving back to my hometown is not my “gift” this year.

No pressure Mom…BUT…I’d be most grateful if you’d give me a reason to open up that baby box…

My Mom reminds me of the story "The Giving Tree" by Shell Silverstein

Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” reminds me of my Momma