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Archive for the ‘Bad Times’ Category

They’re continuing the migraine appeal (to take me from 30 to 50%), and contradicted their reasons for not approving me the higher amount. Seriously. In one paragraph, the examiner noted 3-4 migraines within a 2-3 week period, then lapse of 2-3 weeks before the onset of another migraine or cluster of migraines. “Severe nausea, vomiting, photophobia, left side parathesis” follows that, as well as how I treat the migraine (medication, very dark room, lying very still, alternating heat and ice), and then go on to say that…its not debilitating enough to prevent me from working. How many of you bosses out there are willing to hire someone who can’t move for 2-3 days at least once a month? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

The breast cancer is again denied because while they have documented evidence of three complaints and a diagnosis of fibrocystic breast disease while in service, the examiner noted a strong family history of fibrocystic breast disease (the examiner last month). I had Justin come in the exam room with me, and he said that NEVER was said by the dr or claimed by me.

The mental disorder is “clearly evidenced to exist prior to military service” (no records anywhere or statements to indicate that), and that the normal progression of the disease was not complicated by my service, as this disease usually has onset in adolescence or “early adulthood.” I joined the army at age 19. I discharged from the Guard at age 28. Wouldn’t that cover “early adulthood?” Wouldn’t documented traumatic events during service have at least a 51% chance of “complicating or aggravating” the normal progression of the disease?

They didn’t address at all my PTSD. Maybe on a later appeal. Two of their examiners said I have it. One did not. So…PTSD denied. WTF. The law says at least a 51% chance…last time I checked, 2/3 was more than 51%.

I told Justin they’ve won, he said no. The truth is, I’m tired. I’m worn out and depressed. They said if I appeal this decision, I must do so formally, and include specifics of why they’re wrong, i.e., after reading their stipulations, I basically have to be a legal and medical professional in order to send in my appeal. I’m going to forward all this to my attorney, but its still so frustrating.

They also said they can’t give me an earlier effective date on the migraines, claimed when I reopened my case in November 2008, because I didn’t claim fibromyalgia until June 2010, and the migraines were granted as a secondary to fibromyalgia. Here’s the catch. In 2008, I claimed all the symptoms for fibro (I didn’t know about fibro by that name). I WAS APPROVED, at 10%, for an “unspecified illness” that went on to list the symptoms I’d claimed. In 2010 my family dr referred me to a specialist and I got the diagnosis of fibro. The specialist at one time did a stint at the VA, and wrote out a letter for me to present to them. In the letter, he stated upon reviewing my records I’d had the symptoms at least since 1992, and that his professional opinion is that is when the fibromyalgia began to cause difficulty for me. I gave the letter to the VA and added the claim for fibro that same month. They approved it quickly…but only gave me effective date to the fibro diagnosis (by an outside specialist). They had their doctor examine me in 2009 and gave me the 10% rating for “unspecified illness with symptoms blah blah blah” and then after my specialist diagnosed me and sent the letter (i.e. new evidence), instead of putting it in support of my claim for “unspecified illness with symptoms blah blah blah), they only did it back to June 2010. Does this make sense to you? Same exact freaking symptoms. I just got an actual NAME for it, and added new evidence, so it screwed me out of 18 months comp?

What it boils down to is that I’m being punished for not going to the doctor very often after I got out of the Army, because Hello, I didn’t have insurance for most of that time. I’m being punished because I don’t go to the ER or the doctor every time I get a migraine. My last ER visit for migraine was 2007. Let’s see…sit around an ER for several hours, bright lights, lots of noise, while puking in a bag, or lie in a dark room and take same meds they’d give me via IV in the ER? Sounds reasonable to me. I’m being punished because I’m easily confused after all these freaking surgeries and my memory has suffered (which is why Justin goes into the exams with me now, to tell me if I or they said something I can’t remember). I’m being punished because while my issues technically are not 100% disabling because I have good days as well as bad days, they don’t take into consideration that no one will hire someone who has to call out sick every couple weeks. I don’t live in a metro area, there aren’t a lot of jobs available to begin with here.

I never had a migraine before I came back from Saudi. I never had breast lumps and/or pain until after I was on active duty. I never had any mental issues diagnosed (or even seen about) until I was active duty. I don’t even care about the mental right now, I knew that would be a losing battle because I destroyed evidence when I was going for my flight physicals. I took the records out of my medical record because the recruiter and I were left alone with them and she told me to do it, and I was stupid enough (and wanted to fly badly enough) that I did it. I should have kept them but she took the pages from me. Dumb dumb dumb. I do care about the liver cancer. I do care about the fibromyalgia, which is considered presumptive (automatically related to my Gulf War service), but because I wasn’t diagnosed within one year of discharge, they don’t have to give me the full benefit (that’s what they said anyway). I don’t care about the breast cancer…I’m 15 years post-diagnosis and God willing it doesn’t come back. I don’t care about the knees. None of that is going to kill me. I care about the liver cancer because barring an accident, the liver cancer will most likely be my cause of death when I go. I care about the PTSD because my life has radically changed due to it, but even that I’d let slide if they’d just give me the connection for liver cancer.

They even said I said I’d slept walked as a child when I got treatment for sleepwalking in Saudi. DO WHAT? When asked if I or any family members had every slept walked, I said that my uncle had a few times when he was a kid (either Uncle Carvis or Uncle Kernis, I forget which one now). Somehow that became ME sleepwalking in elementary school. That conversation happened in very late 1990 or very early 1991 (in Saudi), and I honestly can’t remember everything that was said. But I didn’t sleepwalk as a kid.  That much I know for certain.

OH get this. They said the Social Security records validated my complaints BUT they couldn’t consider those because they were “too old.” My last review for continuing Social Security eligibility was…last fall. Less than a year ago. But those records are “too old.” Unless my lawyer wants to do anything, they’ve won. I fought from 1994-1996, and reopened it and have fought, continuously and hard, since 2008. I don’t have it in me anymore. This is the government and this is what they do.

They want me to remember, in detail, everything that happened to me or that I said or did 20+ years ago. I can’t remember my own name some days. They also said the medical form I filled out in 1991 when I discharged…that I said I had no problems with migraines or sleeping or nightmares or…etc etc. First, I remember no such form (not that I didn’t fill it out, I just don’t remember it). Second, I’ve asked repeatedly for them to produce said form, and they won’t. What I recall of discharging was “name, rank, social, payroll signature” and they were pushing stuff at me so fast the only thing I actually remember signing was my DD-214. Third, a lot of my symptoms didn’t show up right away…I returned in April 1991 and I discharged in June 1991. Not a lot of time for stuff to start showing up.

Politicians won’t help either. They want me to bring new evidence to them before they’ll get involved. There isn’t really any new evidence. This is all stuff that is documented, but the VA doctors deny, the civilian specialists (many, many of them, across three states and multiple facilities) all feel its connected. I’m screwed, mostly because I didn’t keep records and didn’t go to the doctor for a decade after I discharged unless I was deathly ill because I couldn’t afford to. Its pretty hard getting medical records that are 20+ years old these days, especially with so many clinics and hospitals merging, closing, being bought out, etc over the years. Bottom line, keep everything. If you have a house fire or two, well, you’re outta luck. Everything I had from my army time was lost in my house fire in 1999. The only reason my DD-214 was saved was because for some reason I had it at my mom’s instead of in my house.  I’d really love to have all my old journals back.

Whining over. Stick a fork in me.

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Insomnia

I’m not perfect, and I struggle. In my past, I made some truly horrible decisions, and sometimes today still deal with the consequences of them. I try not to judge, yet find myself doing so, especially when people make the same mistakes over and over, or the same decisions with the same consequences over and over…mainly because I try not to make the same mistakes more than once, and expect others to as well. I’ve grown more bitter in recent years, especially about things that seem so crystal clear to me but apparently are not to those around me. Even knowing in my mind that my perceptions are colored by my experiences, thus those around me are as well, I still am easily irritated. I seem to have conflicting values at times…I want equality for all, but I also want protections for those speaking their beliefs, because when we attempt to regulate individual thought, we walk a dangerous path. I find myself full of rage more than at any time I can remember in my life, and I’m not sure how to correct that. I do a lot of screaming into the wind on my bike to alleviate that rage and other emotions, but even that isn’t enough lately. I know I should probably be medicated (was taken off the meds in the hospital because I was vomiting so much, and when they forgot to start me back on them when I got better, I neglected to mention it because I was losing weight and was feeling better physically than I had in years), but I don’t want to gain those 60+ pounds back (yes, it really was all from the medication), and I don’t want the other side effects. I’m not a bad person, but I come across that way more and more often lately, especially in dealing with my parents, and my lack of patience with them. I have a lot of guilt because I can’t deal with their drama and “fix” them as they seem to want me to do, so I turn away and slam virtual doors in order to get them to leave me alone…not something the daughter of parents who are in their golden years with some fairly serious health problems should do. My brother is unable and unwilling to care for our parents, and it therefor falls to me…and more often lately, I shoot myself in the foot with my reactions to them. I know this is a big part of my frustration and resentment with them. I would kill for more than 2 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I would kill to be the happy person I can vaguely remember being, instead of just pretending or seeming happy during manic episodes (which are coming more frequently now). I would kill not to have the rapid mood swings. I would kill to feel like I actually still have a family, rather than these distant memories of years gone by. And I would kill to be able to enjoy my life without constant pain… and/or guilt trips from my…parent. I honestly don’t like this person I’ve become the past eight or so years, but I’m not sure how to change. Change takes desire and energy, and the reality is that I’m too exhausted most of the time to have desire for much of anything. I put on a good show, a good act, but those living in my house are seeing the real me more and more lately. One day I will wake up to realize I’ve reaped what I sowed, and that while I tend to shun my parents, my own little family will decide I too am not worth the frustration and shun me. Its a sobering thought. Its getting harder to deal with the real world and the very real people in it. There are many days I think of how I would end it all if I were only brave enough. And I think the reason I’m most frustrated with my parents is because I see myself turning into them a little more each day. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, after all. As my health has deteriorated over the past decade, so has my mental attitude. I hate most people, something that I wouldn’t have thought possible ten years ago. I went from a bubbly, outgoing person to one who struggles to get even minor tasks accomplished if it involves seeing actual people, or even talking to them on the phone. There are very few I truly open up to. If I’ve given you my personal number or chat with you a lot via email or private messages on facebook or AOL Instant Messenger, count yourself lucky. At some point you’ve made enough impact on me that I trust you enough to talk to you. Some of you I even confide in, as much as I’m able to. I keep my innermost thoughts to myself now, the darkest ones, the ones that would be really embarrassing and would horrify most who know me because there isn’t enough time in the universe for me to adequately explain the context or why I feel the way I do. Deep down, I feel like a horrible person, like a monster, and I don’t know how to fix that. I’ve always been a fixer…and lately I can’t fix anything. In order to make myself better, I need treatment. Counseling. Medication. Possibly hospitalization in a mental institution. But would I really be able to get help? Because I can’t confide in anyone anymore. When I went to a C&P hearing at the VA last week, I hurt myself. I knew I was doing it yet couldn’t shut up. All I could do was talk about my feelings of anger and betrayal over Dr. M (my VA shrink) and Dr. H back in 2011 or 2012. I haven’t seen either of them since I found out how Dr. M completely misinterpreted what my husband and I told him in a session, and then shared it with Dr. H, my primary care doctor, without my permission, but more importantly completely inaccurately, causing her to put “Munchausen’s” in her notes, despite my thousands of pages of medical records from other hospitals and doctors, my numerous post-operative reports and imaging reports, my actual, physical scars on my body. Both of them even questioned whether I’d ever even had cancer at all. So I came off to the C&P shrink last week as obsessed over Dr. M and something he wrote about me over two years ago. It *literally* was all I could talk about. Then I attempted to explain my paranoia and trepidation over opening up or even being there at all because I tended to think my words would be taken out of context, twisted, used against me. I was trying to explain, and only succeeded in making her defensive. Yeah, that was smart. I talk way too much. I can’t answer questions with a yes or no. I feel like I MUST explain myself all the time…that everything must be validated in some way. If I do manage to simply say yes or no, inside I’m raging because I’m convinced that my intent is being completely misinterpreted and my yes or no has in fact made my case worse. I know that I do this because of the accusations cast against me most of my life. Some have been earned, because I was just an idiot and said or did something that really made no sense at all. But most, most have come from my parents, more from one parent than the other, but people who should have been nurturing me, not hurting me. My childhood actually was a pretty happy time…then my brother was almost killed in a devastating car accident when he was 16, and my life as I knew it at 11 was forever changed. My older brother became my immature, younger brother in an instant. My parents were overwhelmed, and I was passed around to various family members for months because I was inconvenient, in the way. From that moment on, I think, I never felt good enough, never felt as if I mattered. I started acting out for the first time in my young life…doing things I KNEW better than to do, such as climbing up on the roof of our house via the patio trellises and jumping off because it was an adrenaline rush…sneaking liquor out of my daddy’s hiding spot that I wasn’t supposed to know about…and when I ran out of the fantastic ideas, I started embellishing my actions. By the time I graduated high school, I had two worlds…the one that I actually lived in, and the one I wished I lived in. A lot happened in between my brother’s accident and that time, a lot that I don’t have time or the energy to go into right now, but it all further reinforced my belief that my brother was the important child in the family, and that I was only there because it was too late to do away with me. If I made some accomplishment, my parents would briefly acknowledge me, so I began to embellish even boring, routine parts of my day..just stupid stuff. For a while, in the army, that stopped. Maybe because I was happy for the first time I could remember in a very long time. But even in the army, whenever one or both of my parents were around, the embellishments and outrageousness would resume. None were outright lies…there was always a kernel of truth at the center…but it always came out around them. Then in the past decade my life really did take on a surreal quality with all the things that just started happening to me…mostly the health issues. For the first time in years, I would tell the strict truth, and it seemed to backfire, make people think I was lying, or pathologically delusional. The irony was that I was relating things that were backed up with hard medical facts from my records or from witnesses to events…but most people didn’t have access to my medical records or doctors, so couldn’t believe all this shit happened to just one person. Looking at it from their perspective, I get it…but it really doesn’t make me feel better at all about it. So now…I sit in this cage of my own making. Regardless of why I felt I had to have attention from my parents in order to have any self-worth, regardless of why I felt unimportant and insignificant unless I was entertaining those around me or helping them in some way that really wasn’t my duty to do so, I’d become a person that I didn’t recognize…someone I wasn’t, but yet someone that was still better than the real me, the actual Kandy deep inside. Now that I’ve been struggling with health and not being able to work for the first time in my life, all I can really do on my physically bad days is think, and ponder on who I am. The problem is that I don’t know who I truly am. I spent the better part of thirty years pretending to be someone worthwhile, someone valuable in some way. In the process, I lost any sense of my own personality, my own reality. I make excuses. For everything. Even when I’m “owning up” I’m still, even if only inside, making excuses. Now, while I still don’t really know who I am, I really kinda hate the person I seem to be. I know there’s still hope for me, because I have helped some folks, my animals love me (and they’re pretty solid judges of human character), and I do really enjoy helping people. But my patience is gone. My empathy with those I’ve seen repeat negative actions and behavior time and time again, as well as for strangers, is gone. Rarely I can find some empathy, but its erratic at best. I have trouble letting go of the pasts and the hurts that have been done to me, and its not hurting those who hurt me so long ago, or even as recently as yesterday, its hurting ME. But, I don’t know how to fix it. I can’t say all these things and the thousands more that NEED to be said to a doctor or professional who might be able to help me, because the trust is quite simply just gone. No matter what I say, or how I try to say it, people misunderstand me. So the problem can’t be with all of them, it MUST be with me. Case in point. In 2011 I cut my arms up. It happens to be the last time I cut myself (the urge is there constantly though). While in the hospital, a doctor noticed my new scars (scabs were gone but the lines were still pink and obviously new), and after I told her that they were self-inflicted, she asked me if I’d ever thought of killing myself. At the time, I’d just learned my cancer was back for a third time, my parents were giving me literal FITS over various issues, money was really really tight, and I was in so much physical pain that I felt like I was going crazy. So I looked her directly in the eyes and said “Yes, of course I do, every day.” Did I mean I actually wanted to die? No. Did I mean I was suicidal? No. Next thing I know, I’m under suicide watch, not allowed to even go pee without a staffer going with me, and found myself moved to the psych ward. I probably could have benefitted from the experience, but instead the next day I went before their review panel and talked my way into getting to go home, less than 24 hours from the time I was admitted to the unit, which rarely happens. I laughed my way through the review, was funny and amusing, and lied my ass off about what I was really feeling because I felt betrayed about how I ended up there. I knew I could use some help, but I was pissed about being misunderstood and so was determined to say a big “Fuck you” and go home…and that’s what happened. In a way, that was the beginning of this long downward spiral that followed. Oh yes, I needed the help, and was in a position to get it…but too angry to take advantage of it, though I fully understood that regardless of HOW I got there, I was exactly where I needed to be. Yeah, I showed THEM alright. I guess I’m tired of pretending things are better than they are. I’m tired of pretending that *I* am better than I am. I’m tired of pretending, period. The problem is that I don’t know anymore how to just be me. When I was embellishing to make people like me, I was miserable. When I was brutally honest, I was misunderstood and was miserable. I really don’t know how to be anything more than miserable anymore. I wish I could still fix stuff. I wish I could stop myself from making mistakes, from saying truly horrible things that I know in my heart of hearts are outrageous (my attitude towards Muslims, for instance). I hate that there are days I can’t get out of bed, and I hate that more and more often my depression is so strong its almost like being physically debilitated. I wish that I could explain that to my husband in a way he can understand…that I am literally incapacitated by grief and depression. I wish I could be normal.

Yes, I know my punctuation and grammar sucks in this post. Yes, I know I should edit it into some paragraphs instead of one giant one. I’m leaving it as is because these were my pure thoughts coming out as I typed, not pre-thought or embellished, just my raw, hard thoughts. If I go editing it, I’ll start over-thinking things, changing stuff because it makes me seem horrible, adding justifications for my thoughts or actions that I don’t need, or deserve. I can’t edit it or even proof-read it because I’ll lose my nerve and not be able to publish how I really feel. Whether I’m right, wrong, justified doesn’t matter at all…only the truth does, and this is the truth the best I can tell it.

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When I have your wounded

Having a hard time tonight.  I can smell the dust, hear the rotors.  You can smell blood too when there’s a lot of it.  I’ve been digging through all kinds of shit trying to find connections to my illnesses and I came upon some pictures of my old unit that I wasn’t expecting…including a group shot.  It suddenly all came back.  My heart has been racing out of my chest for a couple hours and I feel like I’m going to vomit.  Roaring in my ears.  I’ve described all this to the VA…2 doctors said I have PTSD, one said I did not, so the VA denied my PTSD claim.  I’m still fighting that one.  I can not STAND for anyone to be behind me without me realizing it.  I jump out of my skin sometimes over the silliest things.  I’m afraid of the dark…I seriously can not sleep without at least a little light.  It was so dark over there…some nights you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face without a flashlight.  I woke up in the desert one night, had slept walked out of my tent.  I sat down on the ground and cried until it occurred to me that when I was that close to the ground, I could see my footprints.  I was barefoot and had pretty bad cuts to my feet that took weeks to heal.  I went to medical about the sleep walking (had NEVER done that in my life) and they didn’t do anything.  They ridiculed me when I said I’d cried.  A couple weeks later, I fell down the steps in the shower tent while sleepwalking and dislocated my hip, my wrist, and my shoulder.  Its all in my records.  Only then did they put me on valium, but I couldn’t fly if I took it, so I only took it the 3 days a week I wasn’t on flight duty.  It wasn’t even really the stress of picking up horribly wounded and dead soldiers…we were stressed all the time because all they did was talk about chemical weapons.  SCUDs blowing up almost every night, sometimes almost over our heads, being intercepted by the Patriots outside KKMC.  Sleeping in full MOPP gear and wearing gas masks so that when the alarms went off, we could just roll over and go back to sleep.  I found my unit coin…and it reminded me of our unit motto, “When I have your wounded.”  My unit was THE original DUSTOFF (air ambulance) back in Vietnam.  We had a rich history that was drilled into each of us when we transferred into the unit.  Jumping out of my window when we landed in a recently secured airfield, only to be screamed at by my pilots because just as the medic jumped out his window and I jumped out mine, the flight control informed the pilots that we’d landed in a grouping of Bouncing Betties.  Not sure how to get back in the helicopter without blowing our legs off (ended up being nothing, the BBs were actually a couple dozen yards away, but we didn’t KNOW that).  Medic and I staring at each other through the open doors, trying to figure out what to do.  He had to take two steps, I had to take one.  It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do up to that point…take that step and put my weight on my foot.  It was my left foot by the way.  Funny what you remember and what you forget.  We weren’t actually in danger…but for a few minutes, we thought we were.  I still have nightmares where if I move, I will die.  My best friend from AIT and Ft. Bragg (part of 82nd Airborne) dying in my arms.  Picking up the bodies of another crew that had laid out in the desert for two days because Command wouldn’t let us go do search and rescue when they never arrived (typical clusterf*ck…no one in command could get their stories straight), so every single helicopter that could fly in our battalion went on “training flights” one day and my bird was right behind the one that spotted the crash site.  I still have nightmares about that one.  All of us on board those two birds never said a word while we were doing what we had to do…maybe something here or there like “get that door…here’s a bag” but nothing else.  We all knew that it could have been us.  Resenting the two dead Arabs that our crew was forced out in bad weather to take to a hospital.  Resenting having to recover their carcasses.  Relieving our frustrations.   Feeling so much hatred and anger towards Muslims to this day.  Memorial services and playing Taps because before the fighting started, I was fooling around and playing on the grave diggers’ (I forget the actual unit designation, but that was their job) bugle on a dare, so when someone in our battalion actually died, I got called in to play a couple of times.  I can still play it to this day, I found out a couple years ago.  Answering present when my name was called during a Memorial service because one of the people who died was alphabetically after me (you vets will understand that one).  Being fondled every time I walked into a store, restaurant, whatever where Saudi men were gathered.  Punching one after the cease fire because I couldn’t take it anymore, and being handcuffed and dragged out of the restaurant by US MPs so the Saudi SPs didn’t get me instead, thrown into a hummer and driven away to “protect” me.  Thinking I was a badass and could handle a public punishment when I first arrived in country…only to find out it was nothing like what I was expecting or prepared for.   Having every freaking Arab over there think I was a slut because I wore pants and no veil and took my blouse off when it was hot (the outer BDU blouse worn over our brown t-shirts) and drove and laughed and joked with the men.  I don’t talk about it much…I did when I first came home and my Dad said I was exaggerating or lying, so I just shut up.  I thought he would understand since he was in the Army, but no.

And its not over.  The nightmares come.  I never know when.  Something will trigger me and I’m overwhelmed by sounds and smells and even tastes.  The constant fear I experience.  Trepidation and uneasiness that never goes away.  Irrational bursts of anger.  Cutting.  Crying.  Having to keep alcohol out of the house, not because I’m a responsible parent of teenagers, but because on nights like this, I would so easily drink myself into oblivion.  Alcohol was my outlet when I came back, to the point that I ended up in the ER with alcohol poisoning.

The bitch is that I loved the Army.  I didn’t know I was bipolar until after I’d been in for a while and they diagnosed me, but once they got me sorted out mentally, I thrived.  I loved the strict regimen…the schedule…knowing that almost every minute of my day was planned, never having to wonder what to wear the next day lol.  I was happier than I have EVER been in my adult life.  I thought I was invincible and so smart…I got busted down a couple notches when I found out I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was and had in fact been played for a fool, but used it as a learning experience.  I never made the same mistake twice when I was in the army.  I fought for respect every step of the way…even in the early 1990s, it was hard to be a woman in an aviation unit, but I loved every minute of it.  I miss flying.  I used to ride motorcycles too fast because it was as close as I could get to that rush.  I should have died back then, all the crazy ass shit I did, to keep up with the boys, or just to feel free and uninhibited for a few glorious moments (think getting totally hammered and jumping off the top of a rapelling tower with no one on belay and flying towards the ground full-speed, laughing insanely all the while).  Overcoming the resentment and harassment suffered because I turned in the NCO that sexually assaulted me (beating the crap out of me in the process because I fought back).  Walking across the flightline as Retreat sounded, stopping to salute the Flag, and tearing up because the wind every.single.time would catch the Flag and cause it to flutter during Retreat.  Going in “hot” to pick up patients because its what we did.  Outlasting all but one pilot on a particularly nasty mission, puking only after the end of the mission and getting off the bird the final time…having that pilot tell me he was so grateful I’d finally puked so that he could without losing face.  The smells from that day are forever with me.  Getting hit in the face with engine wash because I wasn’t paying attention.  Being crammed into the tail cone on top of the fuel cells by the guys because a)I fit and b)they thought it was funny.  Practical jokes every day, sometimes every hour, over there.  Watching the sun rise while I sat cold and alone on guard duty.  The sun rises were my favorite because the horrible inky blackness faded away.  The stench of camels.  The STUBBORNESS of camels.  having my wrists zip-tied to the main rotor.  Falling off my helicopter while attempting to descend to get water because I realized I was dehydrated, and landing on top of my open toolbox, breaking a rib.  Learning passable Arabic in three weeks, enabling me to get to drive Col. F around so I could translate here and there.  Remembering only enough Arabic now to get myself killed lol.  Being thrown into a hummer with strange officer and NCOs when our vehicle broke down on Tapline one day, to “go get help”…arriving at what turned out to be Schwartzkoff’s compound (I saw the man from a distance…and he was a lot bigger than I thought he’d be).  Having to stay there for two days with no personal effects because the ground war broke out and everyone kept forgetting about me…sleeping on a cot outside a tent because there was no room for me inside the female tent, and the men were afraid something would be said if I slept in one of theirs (they didn’t realize I was the only female in my tent in my unit)…I’d seen and heard it all by that point.  Getting reprimanded for leaving my vehicle when I finally got back to my unit (I was the driver that day), even though an E-8 ordered me to do so.  Finding out I was allergic to bees when I got popped on top of my bird at Bragg one hot summer day.  My last memory was walking towards the medic shack for some Sting-Away.  I woke up on my own helicopter, strapped to a litter, intubated and panicking because of it.  The smell of the pine needles in the hot sun as we ran the broken road that was the perimeter of Simmons Army Air Field every afternoon, to “condition” ourselves for the heat of Saudi Arabia before we deployed.  Standing for inspection.  Feeling pride when a child would come up and ask me what it felt like to be a soldier.  Being held by my commander as I sobbed hours after my best friend died in my arms.   Having the battalion commander (a full bird) give me a bottle of contraband scotch on my 21st birthday…drinking it with some buddies out in one of the helicopters, losing track of time, and deciding that since the gates were shut, we would “crawl carefully” through the concertina wire.  The laughter of the guards that night as they took pictures of us all caught up in the wire, drunk and bleeding, because some critter crawled up the leg of one of my compatriots who was directly in front of me.  I so wish I still had my copies of those pictures…even with the cuts and the blood and the pain, that was a damned good night…the most relaxed I ever was over there.  Breaking my thumb when I took my driving test on the Deuce and hiding it from the tester so I wouldn’t fail (seriously, who breaks their damned thumb on a DRIVING TEST??).

I would do it all over again.  Even knowing what I know now about depleted uranium, the nerve agent pills, the vaccines, the weapons depot demolition, the oil fires, the chemical alarms.  I would do it again because never in my adult life did I ever feel such a sense of accomplishment…because I KNEW my job, and I was damned good at it.  I was good at it because I loved it.  I lacked the people skills I needed to stay completely out of trouble, but I loved it nonetheless.  I would do it over again for the lives I helped save.  I would do it over again for the sense of pride and joy I felt at being in uniform…serving my country.  I dreamed of joining the military as far back as I can remember.  I had every rank of every branch of service memorized before I was out of elementary school.  I was HAPPY.

I haven’t been happy since.  I’ve had happy moments, but I’ve not been happy.  I’ve not been at peace.  I’ve lost a child to a horrible birth defect that I’m unofficially told is related to Gulf War by people at the VA, but they won’t say it on paper.  I’ve had another child with health issues similar to those of children of other vets.  I have a child on the autism spectrum.  My health has been destroyed over the past several years, through countless bouts with cancer and countless radical surgeries.  I look in the mirror and hate what I see.  I can’t stand showering or getting dressed every day because I have to look at what has happened to my body.  I despise myself…I despise my body, and I despise my weakness.

I live in the past.  I recount the “glory days” of successes in band, successes in the army, joys during both.  I can’t look to my future, because I can’t see a future for me.  I can’t imagine watching my children grow up, have families.  I can’t picture my daughters getting married.  I can’t picture a golden anniversary with the love of my life, Justin.  I dream of my own funeral so often I have it memorized.  I have the exact same nightmares several times a month…several times a week, sometimes nightly, when I’m having a really bad week.  I’ve woken my husband up, screaming and flailing in my sleep.  I’ve tried to punch him in my sleep when he tried to wake me.  He’s learned to grab me suddenly in a bear hug, restraining my arms and legs at the same time.

I’ve thought of suicide so often its scary.  I’ve planned it.  I know how I will do it if I go that route.  I fear Hell, so I’ve not done it, but how long will that fear continue to outweigh my personal torment, weakness, and pain?

I don’t sleep.  I haven’t slept more than a couple hours at a time since the 1990s, unless I drink myself to oblivion or take sleeping pills…and Justin won’t let me have the pills anymore because I wake up only a little while after passing out, and do things like…DRIVE.  And have no memory of it.  I would literally kill just to have one undrugged, unboozed night of peaceful, restful sleep.

Pain never leaves me.  Physical.  Mental.  Emotional.  I have a horrible flaw in that I can’t let the past go.  I dwell on the bad things, in addition to remembering the good ones…and the bad seems to outweigh the good as more and more time, more and more illnesses, and more and more pain creep up on me.  I remember the people I hurt…the bad choices I made.  I want to apologize, to make up for it, but I burned those bridges so thoroughly that no contact is accepted.  I don’t remember the faces of the people I helped save, but I sure as hell remember the faces of the ones I didn’t, and the faces of the ones I hurt.  I fought so hard to not become my father or my mother, that I went down my own road at a reckless pace and ended up in a ditch just as deep as theirs.  I’ve climbed out of the ditch (most days) but other days I’m still wallowing down in the filth.

Oblivion.  It would be lovely.  I wish I could have gone out like Major Kelly…”When I have your wounded.”  When I’m gone, no one will remember me for anything good I accomplished…only for what I didn’t…the mistakes I made…the wasted potential.  I was smart…the sky was my limit…and I threw it away.

I don’t want to do this anymore.

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All of you who are Christians know the old saying…”If you died tomorrow, would you go to heaven?”

Since getting the first news of my cancer returning, I haven’t cried.  I haven’t stressed.  I’ve felt like its all going to be ok.  The stress I’ve had and the few tears I’ve shed so far have been for my kids, mainly, but overall, I feel like everything is going to be ok.  I’ve talked to my girls, who are taking this diagnosis really hard, and reassured them that no matter what happens Monday, I’m going to be ok.  I told them even if I don’t come out of that operating room, I’m going to be just fine.

The truth is, I don’t know what to believe anymore.  I lost my faith for a time after my stepdad Jay died.  I was so angry at God that at times I even questioned His existence.  Deep down though, I always *knew* I was just acting like a pouting child, trying to get my Father’s attention by denying Him.  The anger really didn’t last long, but it was still there, and something I still feel guilty about.

When I carried Ruby, I never got mad at God.  I prayed like I have never been able to pray before or since.  I had a lot of trouble praying for her at first, because I felt like it was a selfish prayer, but I got over that and prayed and prayed, cried, begged, pleaded with Him for my baby.  After she was born, and I could see evidence around me of how she’d touched people in her very short life, I was sad, even depressed a little, but I was ok.  However, along about what would have been her first birthday, I wouldn’t say I got mad exactly, but I was extremely bitter.  My health was continuing to decline, I couldn’t do any of the things I used to be able to, I could see the babies born around her birthday crawling, walking, cooing, looking oh, so adorable, and I wanted my baby.  I started realizing that when I went to church, I couldn’t focus on the message, all I could do was think about how much pain I was in sitting there, wondering what was for lunch, just weird stuff that would pop into my head.  I kept having to force my attention back to the pastor (who is a very good pastor by the way), and I was getting frustrated.  I couldn’t pray anymore.  I didn’t feel like I could ask for anything for me because again, it was selfish.  When I’d try to pray, my mind would wander.  I realized it was Satan trying to keep me away from God, but I couldn’t seem to do much about it.

I began to slip…I started letting swear words drop more and more often.  I got mad easier, at little things.  I deliberately got into arguments with my mother when she tried to preach to me.  For the most part, I quit “praying” altogether, although looking back, I realize that I never failed to thank Him every day…when I was able to climb out of bed, I’d say a quick “Thank you, Lord,” or something similar.  Whenever anything good happened, I would do the same thing.  So I always felt like He was still in my life, if not directly in front of me.

Since the cancer returned, I haven’t really been able to pray much.  I’ve said a few, “Thy will, not my will” type prayers, and a couple times I actually prayed that He would deliver me from the surgery and everything would be fine.  But I felt guilty…not worthy.  I don’t feel like I’m where I need to be.  People have assured me that it doesn’t matter, that He understands because of what I’ve been going through, that I was truly saved, therefor I’m going to Heaven if anything goes wrong…but honestly, its not the way I was raised.  I believe people can and do backslide.  I’ve been told that if you backslide, you were never truly saved to begin with.  I beg to differ.  I KNOW I have been saved in the past, and I KNOW that I have backslid, more than once.  I believe in God wholeheartedly…I try to do what’s right with my life, and I try to be a positive influence to my kids.  But I make mistakes…sometimes big ones.  This whole past year and a half haven’t been pretty.  I can’t seem to figure out what I really need to do to get back to where I need to be.  Justin thinks I’m holding myself to an impossible standard, but I’m not…I know I’m going to make mistakes.  I can’t explain it, but I almost feel as if God has turned away from me with my inability to pray and focus on that prayer, to the exclusion of all else around me.

Its something I’ve struggled with for months, but I pushed it aside because I was still firmly believing in God and his ability to answer prayer and provide miracles.   This morning however, I got scared.  I had one of the worst nightmares I’ve ever had, but recounting it, its so rediculous.  I believe it was a message from God, although not as powerful a message as I received in 2006.  Perhaps it was more of a warning, a reminder, I don’t know.  All I know is that at the worst part of the dream, I told myself, “This is a dream, wake up now,” and I woke up.  The first thing I did was thank Him that I’d woken up.  The next thing I did was wake Justin up and ask him to pray with me.  As he was hugging me and waking up enough to pray, I managed to mumble, “I’m afraid for my soul.”  That man, I do not deserve him.  He prayed for me for over 30 minutes.  I was mad, because while I was praying along with him, my mind kept wandering.  I looked at the clock several times.  I cried a couple times.  I again had trouble focusing on the prayer, the nightmare, whatever message God may have been sending me…my brain started to rationalize the whole thing.  I started coming up with excuses, and that made me madder, and being mad made me have even more trouble praying.  I know I’m ADHD but dang, I’ve always been able to pray until about 3 years ago.

Basically, I’m not sure where to go from here.  I’ve been staying out of crowds because I can’t risk getting sick, and flu and everything else is ripe this time of year.  I’ve been hesitant to go to church, because I think that people will say “She’s only coming because she has cancer again.”  My brain will NOT let me stop thinking all these things.  I just want peace.  I think part of my problem may be that there’s a part of me that hopes I WON’T come out of that operation, because I’m so tired of constant pain, constant disability, constant nausea, constant weight fluctuations.  Its all just getting to be so much.  Everyone thinks I’m so strong…after every surgery, I don’t cry, I don’t even complain much.  I grit my teeth, get back on my feet ASAP, and do everything they tell me to do.  Admittedly, I do ask for the strong drugs after surgery.  I’m afraid to take too much pain medication here at home because of the history of addiction on both sides of my family, but in the hospital, I give in to the relief because its controlled.  I’m sure it doesn’t make sense, but it does to me.  Anyway, I’m not strong.  I’m very weak.  I don’t like this…I don’t like not being able to enjoy my kids and my life.  But…I deal.  Still, it makes ending it all a very attractive prospect.  I would never commit suicide (there’s the whole “hell” thing), but drifting away on anesthesia, well, it doesn’t sound all that bad.

So, I’m all over the place.  I need prayers, lots of them.  I want to be able to find peace with God, with myself, with my health.  I want to be able to “pray without ceasing.”

I know we can’t always get what we want, but I feel like that’s something I need.

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Really trying to stay positive, but every little thing that goes wrong really sends my mind whirling. For instance, I passed out yesterday…first time in a long while. I’ve been having dizzy spells for months. This morning I fell again…didn’t lose consciousness, but it was a close thing…lot of roaring in my ears, felt hot and flushed all over, massive headache out of the blue, dizzy and gray around the edges of my vision. After I got up off the floor, I was real wobbly on my way to my recliner. I hadn’t had a full meal yet, but was in the process of eating when I went to my room to get my glasses. I fell on my way back. So I sit here, trying to figure out why I’m having trouble staying on my feet. I checked my blood sugar…yesterday it was a little high when I fell, but my test strips were over a year out of date, so I’m not sure exactly what it was. Justin brought me some new strips last night, and about 3 hours after eating, it was 211. Not bad. When I fell today, I tested it about 20 minutes later, and it wasn’t bad at all…183 and that was during my meal. Now, over an hour later, its 111. Totally normal.

So of course, my next thought is, could this be the tumor?  When I saw Dr. C a couple weeks ago, he said that it was almost completely blocking my inferior vena cava, if not blocking it completely.  He said it was hard to tell for sure on the imaging, but that the size of it indicated it could be blocking it.  He said the veins around the inferior cava were all enlarged, compensating for blood flow.  When I start passing out, it makes me wonder if those veins can’t handle the load.  It makes me wonder is that tumor growing?  It makes me wonder if it can come loose and start traveling up the vena cava.  My mind will NOT stop.  I keep telling myself its fine, its just stress, etc etc but my stupid mind won’t listen to me.

I had a lot of trouble sleeping last night…a lot of things going on here in the home that just stresses us all out.  Everyone is reacting to the upcoming surgery a little different…Dr. C really stressed how dangerous the surgery is, and explained that its a surgery they’ve never really done before, so they’re basically going to cut me open and wing it.  I have complete confidence in him, but its a little stressful.  I’m having to take more pain pills to sleep, and that bothers me too.  Everyone thinks I’m so strong and handling this all really well, especially because I haven’t cried about the surgery and the possibility of dying yet.  I’ve cried, but its mainly frustrated crying when I’m in a lot of pain, or can’t do something I feel like I should be able to do, that kind of thing.  But as far as accepting the reality of this new tumor and its location and the difficulties in getting it OUT…I don’t know, I guess I’m just numb to it all.  Its almost like I don’t even care at times.  I keep asking myself “why me?”  Seriously…I know that God won’t give us more than we can bear, but honestly Lord, I think I’ve had more than my share.  Sure, there are people out there who’ve had it much worse, and I try to empathize with them, but I’m so sick of this roller coaster ride I call my life.  When things start to go well again, suddenly there’s a new twist, bend, loop, etc.  I’m tired, so very tired of it all.  I told my friend that I felt like death would be a relief, but I don’t know how sincere I was.  There are times when I truly feel it would be a relief just to drift away and not be in pain anymore, but there are other times that I WANT to be here, no matter the disabilities and curve balls life keeps throwing my way.  I want to see my children grow up and be happy and successful.  I want to grow old with my husband.  I don’t want to miss a thing.

And yeah, I have a call in to the doctor about the passing out and falling.  I almost didn’t call, because I don’t want them to think I’m freaking out about every little thing, but the falling bugs me.

How do people who have the worst parts of cancer…the chemo, the radiation, etc, deal with this?  I don’t want to know…and I feel selfish for that thought but its true.  I have to deal with the pain and discomfort and other physical things, but honestly, if I had to deal with chemo or radiation, no one would say I was strong, because I would be in tears all the time.

Ten days…I have ten days to go, and it can’t come soon enough.

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I know I haven’t updated the blog…its been too difficult to sit still and focus.  On the one hand, I’ve got so much to get done before surgery…on the other, I don’t WANT to do any of it…as if it will delay the inevitable.

The board of doctors finally decided that they want to do the surgery.  The oncologists were the lone holdouts, because this tumor hasn’t been diagnosed as malignant, and won’t be until its biopsied.  However, a needle biopsy could do more harm than good…IF the tumor is encapsulated (all but one of my tumors have been), a needle puncturing it could release cancer cells into my blood stream, which I don’t have to tell you would be a bad thing.  Even if its not encapsulated, that wouldn’t be good.  Its almost completely blocking the inferior vena cava, so regardless of whether its cancerous or not, it has to come out.  The problem, as Dr. C explained it, is that this is a first for them.  The size and location present problems that they’ve never had to deal with.  He explained that instead of having Plan A and Plan B, they need to go in with Plans A, B, C, D, E, etc.  So much can go wrong on the table.

I asked him what was wrong with me, because I’m not terrified.  I told him I’m more worried about the painful recovery than the possibility of not waking up from the surgery.  He laughed a little, and said that I might be a little numb to it all because for me, its just another surgery, that I’ve been dealing with it so long, been sick for so long, that its hard to put it into perspective.  I suppose he’s right.  Still, I look at everyone freaking out around me, and wonder what the heck is wrong with me because I’m just rather blase’ about it all.  I know from experience that about 30 minutes before the surgery, I will get anxious and nervous, but for right now, I’m more laid back about it.

My surgery is scheduled for November 26th.  I have to be there at 5:00 a.m.  All three of the kids are going to miss school to go…they want to be there until its over, however it may turn out.  I’ve decided that they can be…if they go to school, they’d be pulling them out of class to tell them I was in recovery and ok, or heaven forbid, to tell them I’d died…either way, when they get called out of class to find out, they’d be worrying themselves to death, so I think its best that they be with family, whether it be good news or bad.

It still bothers me that my status as a cancer patient knocks me off the organ transplant option.  Even with a family member willing to donate, they won’t do it because the cancer makes me a bad risk.  The problem is, my cancer isn’t that huge a deal…when its metastasized, its been small tumors that they caught quickly and removed.  Its not a situation where its spread and I’m sick from chemo or radiation.  The only organ impacted has been my liver, and its healthy as can be, and had no recurrence of tumors at all in over six years.  I did have a tumor on my right adrenal gland last year, and it and the gland were removed, but my right kidney itself was fine.  I guess I’m a little biased, but I don’t see that I’m a bad risk for a transplant if the blood loss during this surgery stuns my liver or kidneys to the extent they don’t “come back” after the blood flow is reestablished.

People look at me, and they don’t see that I’m this sick.  Other than the protruding belly and the liver spots on my face, I look good.  When I wear makeup and cover up the spots, I look REAL good.  I get around fairly well most days, and I don’t sound weak or anything unless I’m having a really bad day.  If it weren’t for Dr. C, they probably wouldn’t have caught this for that reason alone…I don’t “look” sick, so I must be fine.  Dr. C has been with me every step of the way over these past six and a half years though, and knows my history, so he’s stayed on top of things.

I’m not afraid, not yet.  I’m not even really all that concerned.  Maybe its blissful ignorance, but I’ll take it.  I do get stressed out, thinking about the recovery.  I know from experience how painful its going to be, and Dr. C telling me this will be my worst surgery yet doesn’t ease my mind much.  He stressed again at our last appointment that they may have to crack my chest…that until they get in and see where everything is situated, scar tissue is, and the ease of access, they just won’t know.  I”m not a really tall person…I’m only 5’6″, but my height is in my legs.  I have a very short torso…another thing that may make them crack my chest.  Ugh.  I’ve seen Dad and friends recover from heart bypass surgeries…it looked really painful.  I do NOT want to go there.

I’m doing a lot of praying, but I feel hypocritical about it.  Why do we pray so hard when we face something that might kill us?  I pray all the time, sure, but I don’t think its as ernestly as I’ve been praying the past couple weeks.  I don’t really know what to pray for.  “God, please heal me” seems so shallow and self-serving.  Asking Him to see me through this trial also seems selfish.  The truth is, I’ve forgotten how to pray for myself.  I’m very self-conscious and always feel like everything I’m saying is for affect, and not sincere.  Then when I start over, trying to be more sincere, I feel like I’m not fooling anyone.  My mind never stops, it never lets me have any peace, but constantly fills me with self-doubt and loathing.  I’m trying to place it all in God’s hands, but letting go of that control is a very difficult thing to do.

I don’t understand why these things keep happening to me.  I made a lot of mistakes in my younger days, true, but do those mistakes warrant this?  Its been one thing after another, ever since 2006.  It just never stops…I never get any peace.   I don’t know what its like to just relax…my brain is always working overtime, I’m always stressed and worrying about something.

This is one reason I haven’t updated my blog.  I feel like I’m constantly whining or complaining.  I feel like maybe I’m talking about it too much, making myself the center of attention too much.  Boy, those “friends” several years ago really did a number on me…when I worry about whether to update about my health and ask for prayers or not because it might make me look like an attention-seeking drama queen, even though I KNOW that I really do need those prayers…well, it just sucks.  I shouldn’t care anymore, but for some reason, its something that I can’t seem to let go of.  Yet another thing I need to pray about, if only I could find the right words.

So that’s it…this is where I am right now.  Where I’ll be in a couple weeks…I guess we’ll see.

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To cut to the chase, my cancer has returned.  I have a large tumor in my vena cava, the large artery that goes into the heart.  They’re going to try to remove it surgically, but because of the size and location, it might not be possible.  My previous surgeries have complicated things…and clamping the vena cava to remove the tumor could cause liver and kidney failure.  The kidney isn’t such a huge deal because I have two of them…they might have to remove one if they can’t get it to come back when they release the clamps.  However the liver is a big deal, because if it fails, I’m no longer a candidate for transplant because of the cancer.  If it fails, basically I won’t wake up.  They’re going to try to go in through my chevron scar on my abdomen, but might end up having to crack my chest.

If they get in there and can’t remove the tumor without killing me, they’ll close me up and I’ll recover from that surgery.  There is a chemo-type drug they can give me that will slow the progression of the tumor, but won’t kill the cancer…it will just give me a little more time.  Regular chemo and radiation therapies won’t work because with this type of Hepatacellular Carcinoma, it doesn’t respond to those treatments.

Justin asked him what would happen if we did nothing.  I didn’t ask that because I’d already figured it out and didn’t really want to hear the answer anyway.  Dr. C said that if we did nothing, the tumor would continue to grow, until the vena cava is completely clogged…then I’d start having organ failure, and eventually die.  He couldn’t give us a time frame because they don’t know how fast the tumor is growing.  The tumor could spread to other areas and organs.  The time frame to operate, he feels, is relatively short.

When he asked what I want to do, I told him I want it out.  I understand the risks…basically its a risk I’ve understood for every surgery they’ve knocked me out for…but this time there’s a real possibility I might not wake up.  They have to clamp the vena cava in two places to remove the tumor and that part of the artery, and replace it with man-made tubing or whatever…to be honest my brain was processing so much at that time I forget what he called it.  The only places they can clamp it “safely” are right on the margins of the tumor…and he doesn’t know until he gets in there if he’ll have room to cut if he clamps there.  They can clamp a little lower and a little higher, but that presents even more problems in regards to blood flow.  The liver has three veins…one of mine is missing from when they took 80% of my liver in 2006.  The other two will be cut off during the clamping if they have to clamp lower than they’re hoping, so liver failure is a real risk.  The scar tissue from the multiple surgeries is pretty bad…he described it as a large pack of tissue…and my intestine is looped up and attached to my deformed liver (it works fine, but it looks pretty funny because of the way it regrew).  Both of those things present a problem as far as easy access.  He doesn’t want to crack my chest open if at all possible, but until I’m on the table and they start cutting and poking around, they just won’t know what they’re looking at.

They also might lose one of my kidneys…I couldn’t really tell from his rough drawing which one…but now that I think of it, I think its the left one…meaning I’d lose both adrenal glands too because they removed the right adrenal gland last fall.  Kidney failure is also a possibility from the vena cava being clamped, but they’re not too worried about that if it happens…I suppose because of dialysis and such.  He’s most concerned about my liver and heart.

I’ve never seen Dr. C so serious and reticent about giving information.   He didn’t joke around with me much, and we usually get him to crack up at least once every time we see him.  I know I should be stressing out and freaking out, but I’m not.  Maybe its still too new…shock…but I honestly feel like things are gonna be ok.  Everyone has cried but me…something has got to be wrong with me LOL.  Well, Bekah hasn’t cried, but she doesn’t know the seriousness yet.

Jared and Katie took the news really hard…they both cried before the football game last night.  We told Bekah I had to have another surgery, a really bad one, and she got the “freaked out” look on her face that she gets (its mostly acting), then asked us something about Christmas.  Aspergers sucks sometimes.  We’ll have another, more serious talk with her (if we can) before the surgery.

I need to scrape up the money to get to Arkansas and make peace with Dad.  I want to look him in the eyes to see if he truly is sorry and has learned anything, or if he’s just saying the right words.  If he’s just saying what he thinks I need to hear, I’m done.  It may seem harsh, but I’ve tried with him so hard for the past several years…and right now, I have to focus on my kids, my health, my family.  I want to give him the chance though, just in case I don’t make it out of the surgery.  That’s the type person I am.

I also need to work on letting go of a lot of bitterness I’ve been carrying towards others for the past four years.  What happened when I was carrying Ruby was awful and shouldn’t have happened, but I also have to accept some of the responsibility for it.  I let it happen, and I handled it poorly.  I took a lot more blame than I should have, because I was trying my best to smooth things over and keep the peace…when I realized that wasn’t working and probably would never work with those particular people, I blew up and overreacted…that didn’t help my position very much at all.  The stress just got to me, and I let myself down with the way I did things.  I have to forgive them, and more importantly, I have GOT to find a way to forgive myself.

I’m a Christian, but I’m not where I need to be with the Lord.  I’ve had a really rough past couple of years…my faith has been questioned and I’ve said/done some things I’m not proud of.  I don’t feel worthy to ask God for anything anymore.  I prayed so much when I was carrying Ruby and after she died…I had a really strong faith.  I don’t have that anymore…I know God is still there, but I’m no longer sure how to talk to him.  I did a good bit of praying last night after we all went to bed…but it was very difficult and I felt somewhat silly, trying to explain to God why I wanted His help, but didn’t feel like I deserve to ask for it.

So that’s basically what’s going on.  Keep our family in prayer, please.

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