Tuesday, October 20, 2015

unthinkable act

RESPECT-is a positive feeling of admiration for a person or other entity(such as a nation or a religion), and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem. Respect can be both given and/or received. Depending on an individual's cultural reference frame, respect can be something that is earned. Respect is often thought of as earned or built over time. Often, continued caring interactions are required to maintain or increase feelings of respect among individuals. Chivalry, by some definitions, contains the outward display of respect.

Respect should not be confused with tolerance:

Toleration is "the practice of deliberately allowing or permitting a thing of which one disapproves.

When it comes to the care of a loved one we as the family demand great respect. This is required from the time our children are born, beginning with the caregivers, to school teachers, to spouses, doctors and finally the funeral home and cemetery that we entrust our loved ones to in death.

While Heather was in the hospital many of you know that I called Falconer Funeral Home one afternoon and I spoke with Christian Timothy, the funeral director. I explained the situation to him and he expressed great sympathy to me and hoped he would not be hearing from me in the future. I picked Falconer Funeral Home because Beka, Wes and Diane’s daughter has been taken care of there. I had no other place in mind.

The day Heather died I called Falconer Funeral Home, very matter of factly, to explain to Christian that today was the day Heather would die. When he answered the phone I could no utter a word, tears filled my eyes and my voice would not work. Why, I have no idea, but Christian ask “if this was Heather’s mom!” It had been nearly 2 weeks since I had called him but for some reason he knew it was me. Falconer Funeral Home, with Christian, did not let me down in any way. They proved to have the upmost respect for me, my family and mostly for Heather. Every single detail was done right and with the highest honor.

I did not have Heather’s ashes buried right away and some 2 years later I thought I had found the perfect place with the upmost respect for the deceased and their loved ones that remained behind. I had dealt with a man by the name of Daniel, who really understood as he had a daughter died as well. I was treated very well and the management at Mountain View Cemetery was different than it is today. Had I known now the management that would be in place just barely three and a half years later I would have never considered burying Heather out there.

The cemetery over the past three years has given me great comfort and filled a need or void in my life that things were settles. It is with the greatest of sadness that Mountain View Cemetery has changed management and they leadership is not of the same caring compassionate nature that it once was. After three weeks of living hell, beginning a petition and being o the local news and radio I am saddened so announce that as of Monday, October 12, 2015, my daughter, Heather, has been retuned home to me where she will be remaining till my dying day. We have parted ways with Mountain View Cemetery under very strained and stressful circumstances. The amount of pain and hurt they caused was totally unnecessary.

Cemeteries are places of reflection, remembrance and respect and I no longer fell these are qualities that I am willing to back down on and the cemetery is not willing to back down either. This has caused such an amount of stress and the hurt of loss is brand new again. The hurt and wound that was beginning to heal has had the scab needlessly ripped off leaving the wound one again fresh and new. It may have been 6.5 years, but the events of the last week had brought everything right back to the surface as if it was April 20th all over again.

An agreement could not be reached and I would not back down on my standards and ethics as to what I think is respectful. On Monday, October 12, Christian once again, cared for our daughter and helped in the process of getting our daughter, Heather's, ashes were retuned to us. This was after a very stressful and unnecessary event took place. My fight for this is over and I have to be very careful about what I say to how about  what.....This was probably the second most difficult thing our family has endured. The amount of hurt this has caused was totally uncalled for. The vault got moisture inside and ruined all the treasures we had placed in there as well as the urn she was in. Everything had to be burned as medical biohazard. For now, she sits in a moldy plastic bag, inside another bag in a brown cardboard box. This is just unreal. Last Friday she was placed into her new resting home and I feel some peace for the first time in 3 weeks.
two "sharing" urns, a scatter tube and her new rosewood urn

We appreciate your prayer during this difficult time of beginning to heal and trust again. Heather will not being going to another cemetery as I will not be able to trust them. I am currently looking to sell her plot. Holding a trick or treat event in a cemetery is like holding a haunted house in a funeral home….. 

A very special thank you to Christian Timothy for who's help was a beyond words and I greatly appreciate his love and care for Heather. Thank you for your support and love

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Chasing 50...

A birthday is a birthday, is a birthday, right? Well not really. Some birthdays are milestone birthdays that deserve extra attention to be celebrated right. Of course your 1st birthday is usually a huge celebration, mostly because your parents survived your first year. I would say the next one is 5 years old or maybe 10. We all know that every teen imagines their 16th birthday as being something special. The next big ones are 18 and then 21. It seems like once you reach 30 that birthdays are not as fun as they once were. As the numbers go higher our expectation and reason to celebrate seem to go down. I can’t imagine anyone saying they are really looking forward to turning 40, 50 or 75 years old. But then it seem like once you reach 75 years old each birthday becomes more important because you are still living.

So turning 50 is no big deal right? Lots of things are 50 this year, such at A Charlie Brown Christmas and Sarah Jessica Parker. Fifty marks half a century of living or being around. Joan Rivers made her Tonight Show debut, Mary Poppins wins 5 Oscars and Julie Andrews wins best Actress, Sonny and Cher released “I Got You Babe,” Tom & Jerry cartoon debut on CBS, the Pillsbury Doughboy is created, Days of Our Lives debuts on NBC and I was born.

Birthdays have never been very special to me. At the age of 6 my adopted mother informed me that I was too old to have parties anymore. My 10th birthday was probably my happiest as JoBeth was dead and I was able to have the neighborhood kids over to have a homemade cake that Norma had made me. She was dating my daddy at that point and still trying to win my favor. It was the first time I had a handmade cake with icing roses on it.  I had my bridal shower on my 18th birthday and was a mother for the first time on my 20th birthday. I thought finding my birth mother would maybe somehow magically make me feel special. WOW, was that ever-delusional thinking, if anything finding her just allowed me to realize that not all birth mothers love their babies. Some birth mothers throw away their babies never to wonder about them again. They are able to move on as if nothing happened.

My 42nd birthday was spent fighting cancer and then my 43rd was spent as a grieving mother, something no one should ever have to experience. My birthday is just a very vivid reminder of the one that is not here. It is the card, the gift, the hug and the “Happy Birthday, Momy” that is never coming that makes the day so difficult. Of course my loving, wonderful family just could not let my 50th birthday come along and not be something special. My birthday was coordinated with a Disney theme. Of course this was perfect as I love Disney and there had already been the 50th celebration of Disney. Bill contacted a friend and together they designed a special cake for me.
Special cake made to look like 50th ears hat 
wearing 50th ears
The big gift was kept a secret and was a huge surprise as Bill planned a 24-hour getaway to Disneyland. Of course it was where I had to be right before my birthday. I spent my last day being 49 in the happiest place on earth. It is one of the places that I can feel Heather. She is everywhere there and I feel her very spirit is there and I feel peace. That peace sometimes comes in the form of tears as I “wish” so many things.
50th pins and 2 are cast members only
my card from Bill
We flew out Sunday evening and actually made it in time to go into the park and see the Parade of Lights and the Castle lit-up for the 60th Diamond celebration. As we raced to the gate I could hear and see Heather saying “come on Momy, hurry, let go…” as she would have grabbed my arm in her arm and pulled me towards the entrance. We rode “It’s A Small World and Peter Pan.” Disney is not all about the rides as it is the sights and sounds and smells that make it feel good. Of course we went to Heather’s spot and it was as beautiful as ever and very peaceful. There was a single white daisy blooming. We stayed till they just about threw us out at 1:20am. I have to admit that I have not stayed that late in a long time.
Ta-Da!! Disneyland 8/30
going into the park area
The castle stunning as always
We first began taking the girls to Disneyland on Spring Break during the 50th celebration. It was our first time there in a long time and it was decorated beyond anything I could imagine. Heather and I went to the Art Gallery above Pirates and saw the big Thomas Kinkade painting of the 50th. Heather bought the 50th Minnie Mouse and I found her yesterday. She sits well with the new 60th Minnie I just bought. So many memories of that time and of Disneyland were made during that time.
Heather's 50th Minnie still with the tag
50th and 60th together

So, here I am, I am 50. I don’t feel 50, but the hole in my heart feels like it is 100 and that will never change. I am 50 on the outside but I am ancient on the inside. The death of a child will make you feel very, very old and gray even though you are still young. So I will be chasing 50 for the next 10 years. I just hope it doesn’t chase me too much.
Bill didn't want to come home
As sad as it was to leave, we are heading to Vancouver on the 5th and then catching the Disney Wonder to Hawaii. We will end this trip with a stay at Aulani, Disney's resort. This is truly the tip of a lifetime...

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Leaving 40...

I have never been bothered by an age as I have always felt that age is just a number, all that really matters is how you feel. I would have never in a million year imagined, dreamed or thought about the life altering changes my 40’s would hold in store. I am amazed at how much crap could happen to one person during only a 10 year time period. The person I was before is not the same person I am now.
My 13th Birthday
Cheryl, Mom and me April 1983 I was 17
August 1996- in my 30's
In my 20’s, I became a mom three times, my Daddy died, we had moved twice and I located and met my birth mother. The person I was before I became a mom changed the day Jenn was born. It was no more just about me as I would love and sacrifice everything for my daughters. When my Daddy died, I became an orphan with no family left. There was no one left on this planet that knew my past since I was an only child. Moving changes everything about a family and that person since you leave all your friends, familiar surroundings and have to put yourself out there to make your way in the new place. Finding my birth mother was not the wonderful “Oprah” moment I had imagined. I learned very quickly that I was a mistake she made in her past and she wanted nothing to do with me or my girls. I also found 5 siblings that are just as messed up as their mother. In the long run, I was thankful she had chosen to throw me away from her life and allow me to be normal. Of course the child I was in my teens had grown up, moved onto being a mother and making a household for myself. The dreams of a child had been made real and were not so nice.
April 2002- in my late 30's
Heather and me-December 2002- in my late 30's
In my 30’s, most of my days, weeks and years were spent with the girls in activities, school and AWANA. We became a homeschool family and very involved with the state level of AWANA. Our weekends were spent traveling to different portions of the state to do training or events. I think this was some of the best opportunities my girls had to learn about hard work and perseverance. It was time our family spent together that I would not trade for anything. Jenn and Heather both graduated, both learned to drive and all three got their first jobs. The girls were growing and changing and of course the person I was changed again. I had to learn to let go and let the girls make their own decision and have their own consequences.
My 40th Birthday at Mall of America September 2005 
My 41st birthday Iowa, September 2006
On my 39th birthday, I made the biggest mistake of my life in finding and speaking to my birth father. I actually called him on my birthday. There was something missing in my life and I felt that maybe my birth father might hold that key. Finding my birth mother answered a few questions but I was still searching for me. Looking back now, I was misled and fooled, which not easy to do. I let down my guard and allowed this vile, evil person into my life and into my family. I put my family in harm’s way by a very powerfully deceptive man that took us all for a ride. I flew to Iowa to spend my 40th birthday with my birth father. Again, I believed this man cared about me. We went to Knott’s Camp Snoopy and he bought me so many things. He just couldn’t seem to spend enough money on me. Of course, what child wouldn’t love to have this kind of attention? He gave me a birthday card everyday of my visit and we had the best time ever. Little did I know that he was already checking me out sexually, just waiting for the right moment to strike.
Disneyland 50th, me and Heather March, 2006 in my 40's
My family, California Adventure March 2006
I began my 40’s thinking that life was good and I was happy. Boy, was I wrong. In 2008, when I was just barely 42, a sick child rocked my world. Suddenly, I was pushing all the doctors to find out what could be wrong. I had no way of knowing that the me I knew was fixing to disappear forever and I would have to find the most courage and strength I would ever have to have. I sat in the oncologist office as I heard the words “stage 4, blood cancer, very aggressive, hospital, spinal chemo and fight for her life.” Sitting next to me Heather was sobbing, as I would need to keep my wits to hear the words being thrown at me. The person I was suddenly was no more and I changed to become the MamaBear fighting for her baby at all costs.
Soaring October 2007 me and Heather
Heather and Me Grizzly River Run October 2007
For a brief moment in time, around my 43rd birthday, life was good. Heather was in remission and I became a Mimi. We were all together for the birth of baby Violet, Snooks. I foolishly thought that I had survived the greatest storm of my life but the toughest fight was just about to begin. No one should become a Mimi and bury a daughter within 10 weeks of each other. The overwhelming joy mixed with unimaginable sadness is just not right. It was not fair to my family or me to have to leave behind the people we were to become the new ones we are now. We will never to be normal or whole again this side of heaven.
Heather and me Super Bowl party January 2009
Disneyland September 2012
Shortly, after all this happened, I learned the hard way that the man I had loved as a dad had very perverted ideas and expectations for me. It would be the ending of a relationship very abruptly and a call to the police. This was a very hard lesson for me to learn and accept. I felt violated in the worst way as I allowed this man to share my Heather and my Violet. I allowed him to join my family and share my life, which meant I trusted him. Never again would I allow myself to be taken advantage of by family, mine or Bill’s.
Margie and me August, 2033
Sandy and me May 2014
My 40’s seemed to end on a happy note as both girls are married, Snooks is thriving and we added my little Toodles, aka Ellie, right before I turned 49. I have gotten 3 tattoos, been to Alaska and the Bahamas, practically lived at Disneyland, made two visits to Walt Disney World, eaten at Club 33, bought a huge new truck, learned to shoot a handgun, remolded most all of our house, worked at Disney and Harkins and also recently been diagnosed with a chronic illness. My dear friend, of 37 years, Margie, die from cancer, but not before we were able to make a few more memories. I also made some huge memories with Sandy, my BFF for 45 years with a girl’s weekend at Disneyland. The end of my 40’s seemed to be better than the beginning, but Heather is never far from my memory. The person I was when I entered my 40’s disappeared the day Heather died, changed forever. The “Sherry” I was does not exist anymore, she died the same day.
Like fine wine I get better with age 2015

As I look back on my life, I am nowhere near the same person I was when I began my 20’s, 30’s or 40’s. My 40’s were some of the darkest, happiest and life-changing years of my life. You cannot go thru cancer of a child and then the death of a child and not be changed. I would like to go back and do some things over again. I would laugh longer and love deeper and make a few changes with people, but as for Heather, I would never change a thing. The moments she was in my world were life-altering and I would not give most of them back. The 33 days in ICU I would give back… But my life was enriched and made whole by Heather being in my world even though the time was short. As I look back I have learned so much and I have changed. As I leave my 40’s and reach for my 50’s I pray that these 10 years can know some peace. Somehow I don’t think it will as time doesn’t stand still for anyone and I know that deaths and cancer will invade my world again. I just hope this time it isn’t so close to home.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Few Sore Muscles...

FIRBOMYALGIA (FMS)-Fibromyalgia produces widespread pain, disturbed sleep, and exhaustion from head to toe. FMS means pain in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons—the soft fibrous tissues of the body. Although the muscles hurt everywhere, they are not the only cause of the pain. Instead, the diffuse, body-wide symptoms are greatly magnified by malfunctions in the way the nervous system processes pain. Fibromyalgia is frequently associated with stress-related disorders such as posttraumatic stress.

The symptoms of fibromyalgia are unpredictable and most patients are frustrated by their physical limitations and inability to make plans. You may feel as though you have to "push yourself" to get things done.

Fibromyalgia is described as a "central sensitization syndrome" caused by biological abnormalities in the nervous system that acts to produce pain and cognitive impairments as well as psychological problems. The term "fibromyalgia" derives from new Latin, fibro-, meaning "fibrous tissues", Greek myo-, "muscle", and Greek algos, "pain"; thus the term literally means “muscle and connective pain".

Fibromyalgia is classed as a disorder of pain processing due to abnormalities in how pain signals are processed in the central nervous system. Exercise improves fitness and sleep; and may reduce pain and fatigue in some people with FMS. In particular, there is strong evidence that cardiovascular exercise is effective for some people

Pain - Fibromyalgia pain has no boundaries. People describe the pain as deep muscular aching, throbbing, shooting, stabbing, or intense burning. Quite often, the pain and stiffness are worse in the morning, the severity of regional pains (particularly those in the head, neck, shoulders and lower back) are a strong predictor of a person's overall pain rating. The muscles in these painful areas can feel tight, knotted and rope-like.

Fatigue - This symptom can be one of the most incapacitating for people with fibromyalgia. Patients may feel as though concrete blocks weight down their arms and legs and their bodies may be so drained of energy that every task is an effort.

Memory and Concentration - Difficulty concentrating and retaining new information may seriously interfere with everyday mental tasks. This symptom is referred to as "fibro fog" and may hinder job opportunities.

Sleep Disorders - Patients report trouble falling asleep and more importantly staying asleep, but the un-refreshing quality is what makes the disorder much worse than insomnia. Repeat arousals prevent patients from reaching deep, restorative sleep. As a result, the night is spent in "quasi-sleep" and patients wake up feeling as though they have been run over by a Mack truck. Overnight sleep studies will likely show repeat arousals with bursts of awake-like brain activity occurring throughout the night, but a specific sleep disorder may not be identified.

Why in the world would I spend so much time telling you about fibromyalgia when this is a blog about grieving mothers? Because I have recently been diagnosed with this chronic illness. I began by listing some of the symptoms of this syndrome but there are so many more than the small list I began here. The other idea that scientists are working on is a genetic link that this is passed from generation to generation. I have a birth mother that has chronic insomnia and a birth father with Parkinson’s and severe restless leg syndrome; both of these are neurotransmitter disorders. Actually 90% of people who have severe restless leg syndrome are diagnosed with FMS.

I have had severe insomnia for going on 13 years. It just seemed to hit out of the blue when suddenly I could not sleep. I was tired and sleepy but full restful sleep didn’t come. I went nearly 10 days with no meaningful sleep when I was finally placed on Ambein. That was a life-saver and it worked very well for me, till almost 3 years ago. I began waking up and being restless at 3AM or 4AM every night. I was not able to see my primary doctor in a timely fashion so I decided to see the assistant. (Which I have recently learned is only a nurse practitioner.) She tried to place me on antidepressants when she heard Heather died. After weeks of trying and three rounds of different types of anti depressants that also work for sleep, I demanded Lunesta. Lunesta has never worked right for me and I called and had her add Ativin with it. She wanted me to do Xanax first, so I tried it and after a few months took myself off that slowly and demanded Ativin.  

After I did not continue working at the Disney store, I went to work as an assistant manager at Harkins Theatres. I kicked it right off working over 42 hours a week. After three weeks I was not functioning and changed my hours to just over 32 hours a week. This also seemed to be too much for me as I just could not sleep and rest and I felt extreme fatigue, so I went down to about 15 hours a week. This seemed to be an okay schedule but I was having issues with “brain fog” and doing inventory. This was very hard for me as I have always been good with inventory and could not understand why I was struggling so much with this task at work.

Then came Disney weekend and the Tinkerbell 10K…and I fell like I have never recovered from that event. I was beyond exhausted and hurt all over. It seemed every muscle in my body hurt all the time. I had blood work done and it came back all messed up; so it was recommended that I take some time to focus on my health. It has taken till now to get a doctor to listen to me and then get the right blood work done to accurately diagnosis me.

I have had doctors’ misdiagnosis me because I am a grieving mother. They automatically assume that I am depressed because my daughter died and I need medical help with that. I have news for doctors, not all grieving mothers need drug intervention with grieving, and sometimes we have actual real health issues that need attention. I am very in tune with my body and what is going on so when doctor’s won’t listen I did my homework and looked things up. I knew what blood work to order and I went in strong and demanded they listen to me. Did I ask for this? NO! Can I just keep going the way I am going? NO! Will I let this define me? NO WAY!

I know that I was already predisposed to possibly have this with the insomnia and restless legs. I also have the extreme sensitivity to hot and cold. If anyone has been near me they know right after I eat I freeze even in the heat of summer. I have been known to wear a jacket while being 110 outside. Hot water can actually hurt when it hits my skin and not because I am cold, it just sends pain shooting when it hits my skin. It is also proven that a traumatic event, illness or accident can cause Fibromyalgia to begin with no warning. Do I believe that Heather’s death did this? YES, I DO!

I am working with my doctor and a pain management doctor to try to come up with a drug combo and dosage that works to control the pain, allow sleep but then also allow me to function during the day without dizziness or sleepiness. This has been quite the process. I also have been told by both doctors that my workout is the best thing I can do. The cardio and the weight strengthening I am doing are really good and I can continue to workout since I have been doing the workout for more than 3 years. Of course if I have a day that I just can’t do the workout I will go lighter or go home. I have learned the hard way that I have very different limits now and I need to listen to those limits.

Bill and I have laughed that 20 years ago we were sure that fibromyalgia was “all in the head” of pastor’s wives. This was their excuse to get out of doing things. While I still believe that some women take this too far and become debilitated of their own choice, this is a very real condition. Of course we joke that now Bill needs to become a pastor so I can have this condition. Yes, I am joking, kind of. I have limits now, but I will not allow this to define who I am. I will not be known as the lady with the chronic disease. I am hoping that after vacation I will be able to return to a limited work schedule. I miss the theatre and all the people there.