Because I want to dance with my grandkids on their wedding day.

Cute-Family-Photos-18

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About two and a half years ago, I had some scary symptoms while 30 weeks pregnant with my son. Various doctors tossed around the word stroke and had discussed the idea of taking him early. They put me on blood thinners, and the symptoms seemed to subside. Cole was born at 38 weeks, perfectly healthy. I thought that was the end of it. I was wrong.

About a month ago, I started noticing some sporadic blurriness in my eyes. I chalked it up to light sensitivity. However, a little over two weeks ago, I had an episode of blurred vision, disorientation, and numbness in my left arm. This incident was the worst it had been yet since the symptoms have reappeared and was eerily familiar to what I had gone through during my pregnancy with Cole. I wound up spending that entire Tuesday at emerge, with the team there running blood tests and CT scans.

In the weeks that have followed I have been back for various tests, more blood work, and to meet with a couple of different specialists. I’m still waiting for an MRI to be booked, which supposedly will tell us more than the CT scans did.

While we still have no definitive answers, I do know from two separate doctors, one of which is a stroke specialist, that I have a pronator drift with my left arm. Do you know what a pronator drift is? I didn’t either two weeks ago. I kind of wish I was still blissfully ignorant. Don’t Google it. You’ll spend all night doing the test on yourself and building your paranoia. Trust me.

A pronator drift is almost always a sign of at least a minor stroke, or can be due to a neurological disorder. Honestly, those are pretty shitty choices.

Now, I’m not a doctor, and stroke specialist did say that I still may just be suffering from a variant of migraines. Until the MRI is complete and follow-ups have been done I’m playing the wait-and-see game. Complete with a mild blood thinner, to control my symptoms and as a precaution to prevent a stroke.

I’m 32 years old.

I truly didn’t think I would be dealing with this kind of shit. Not yet. Sure, in looking at our family history, it’s a bit of a crapshoot as far as genetics are concerned. Both sides are riddled with some mixture of heart issues, cancers, diabetes, etc.

A poem for dealing with grief

Me and Mama, June 2015

The nurse at the stroke clinic laid it all out for me. Having a first-degree family member suffer from heart issues or heart disease can increase my chances of developing heart disease. Those chances are further increased if the relative is a male under the age of 55 or female under the age of 65. That’s when I informed her that my mother suffered a minor stroke at 52 and died of a heart attack, just last summer, at 59.

So those are my odds.

I don’t love them, but I can do something about them. I need to stop taking my life for granted and take better care of myself. Now. If not for me, than for my children. It might be a depressing thought to have in my early 30s, but I desperately want to live past 70 and tear up the dance floor with my grandkids at their weddings.

It has been nearly a year since Mom passed and I can’t help thinking about everything she has already missed. She has a beautiful new granddaughter and a fourth grandson due in less than a month. She has missed my younger brother achieving a goal in his life. She will never hear my daughter read her a book. She will never get to play cars with my son.

Selfishly, I am heartbroken that she is not here for what I am going through now. I have shed more tears in the last week, purely out of fear mixed with the anguish that I cannot call her. Every kid, no matter how old, wants their mom when they are sick. I am terrified and I want to call my Mom so she can calm me down. But I can’t, so she can’t.

I don’t want to follow in her footsteps.

Not when it comes to this. It’s time to be completely honest with myself. I need to stop talking about living a healthier lifestyle and actually do it.

I need to be more conscience of what I put into my body. To eat take-out less and fresh food much more. To cut out coffee and drink less whiskey (*tear*). To drink more water and become smarter about my food choices and how they impact my body.

I need to put exercise back into my schedule. At one point I was really into fitness, but I let it go with the busyness of life. I need to find the time to walk, jog, swim and do yoga, on a much more consistent and frequent basis. I need to feel strong again.

I need to reduce the level of stress in my life. I’m a working mom of two, with an incredibly busy career, a university degree in progress, a bit of freelance work on the side, a novel in the works and a passion for community involvement. I’m exhausted just typing that list. I need to realize that I don’t have to work every night at 9:30 pm. Some nights it’s ok to say no and leave the office for the office. It’s also ok to say no to extra projects or slow down my schooling to a pace that fits my life. Guaranteed, this will be my greatest hurdle, but ultimately one that will have a huge impact.

I need to do more of the things that make me happy. I need to find more time to write for me; to work on my novel, write long-winded editorial pieces and spill my guts with poetry. I need to read more books again, catch more movies with my girlfriends, and spend more time with my family. I need to focus little less on making a living, and a little more on living. Period.

I need to sleep more. God, I need to sleep more. I can’t stress this one enough. I’ve always been a nighthawk, and so was my mother. I need to work on breaking more than 20 years worth of a bad habit because this is one of the few traits of hers I don’t want to embody anymore. I need to crawl into bed before 11 PM, put down the damn phone, and close my eyes.

I understand that this isn’t going to be easy, and none of it will happen overnight. It will take a great deal of commitment and self-initiative. However, I need to focus on being the healthiest and happiest I can. For me and for my family. My kids motivate me more than anything, to live as long as possible and have a great life. I simply need to harness that motivation.

Here’s to me and my future heart. Ideally speaking, I will be looking back on this post 50 years from now and patting myself on the back. With my cane, of course.

Handling grief and a poem for my Mama.

Over the past eight months, I have had to learn that grief is the most sporadic and frustratingly uncontrollable emotion to have to deal with. It ebbs and flows and often hits seemingly out of nowhere. Just when you think that you pulled yourself together, and you go through stretch of really great days and no tears, grief creeps up again and build an instant brick wall for you to slam into.

December kicked my ass. I didn’t talk about it much of the time because it supposed to be a joyous time of year. Mom loved Christmas. It was her absolute favourite holiday. I’m one of those Christmas nerd types that has hundreds of Christmas songs on a playlist, just waiting for December to come around so I have an excuse to play it. I didn’t expect that my beloved holiday tunes would bring about such an emotional reaction. The truth is, I would break down into tears almost every single day on my way to and from the office in December.

Christmas without her was hard, and then my birthday followed three weeks later. It has been a lot to recuperate from and is been part of the reason I took a bit of a break on here. But I didn’t take a break from writing. In fact, just as I always have in my life, I filtered my emotion down into more writing.

Every once in a while I go through phases where my writer soul threatens to consume me. It almost always happens when I’m dealing with depression. While it can make for some productive creativity, it can also be a bit of a dangerous venture. There’ve been many nights in the last three months where I find myself pacing the living room, sipping whiskey at 1 AM, writing poetry like some sort of tortured soul. My writing has always been like this. When it comes, it comes hard, and if I don’t get it out it will haunt me. My grief over mom was a catalyst back into depression and therefore into writing.

Which leads me to this. The first poem I have finished in probably over two years. I wrote this for her. For my mama.

I wanted to share it today, on what would’ve been her 60th birthday.

I love you, Mama.

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Crippling

Crippling, a poem about grief

Mama and I when I was around 2.

I still cripple
with thoughts of you.
My breath catches
my body heaves
and I never expect it.

Sometimes it is the soft light,
pushing through the clouds,
lighting a path home.
Not my home. Not yet.
You are keeping my seat warm.
I bask in the beauty;
only a moment or two, and I am hit.
Pain replaces comfort,
running through me with force.
Sobs racking my fragile frame.
And I cripple.

A poem for dealing with grief

Me and Mama, June 2015

Sometimes I willingly bait it.
Getting lost in your words;
Rediscovered on pages long forgotten.
Blanketing myself in old letters,
I hear your voice.
Or with the whiff of red door,
Fooling my senses into believing;
you are here, you are near.
Memories crash over me.
Bruising my soul and breaking my heart.
And I cripple.

Sometimes others drive the impact.
A kind soul asking in earnest,
“How are you?”
My small child making a declaration,
of her own heartbreak.
Their words stir in me.
Inviting an unwelcomed reminder;
you are not here, you are nowhere near.
My fingers long to call you.
My head aches for your shoulder.
And I cripple.
I still cripple.

Our 2015 Christmas Card & A Gluten Free Gingerbread Tree!

First things first – I present to you all, our 2015 Christmas card!

Mommy Kissing Santa Claus Christmas Card

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We wanted to try to do our annual family photo by the tree or wearing Christmas sweaters, but time got away from us. So instead I opted to toss a Santa hat onto one of the photos from our recent photo session and have a little fun with it :)

Now, being gluten free around the holidays is tough. Especially when you’re five and can easily arrive at the decision of “that’s not fair” at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately, life isn’t always fair and we have had to watch Lilly tear up at the grocery store several times because she can’t make a gingerbread house like all of her friends.

Luckily, there is an incredible bakery in Barrie, Ontario, who was able to add a little extra Christmas magic into our household with their gluten free Christmas tree. Having heard my tale of woe, Warwick Hughes Food Market offered to make one of their trees and leave it in the plain pieces for Lilly to decorate on her own.

She was thrilled!

Gluten Free Gingerbread Tree

Deliciously decorating each piece. I think she ate more candy than she added…

 

Gluten Free Gingerbread Tree Decorating

Our Christmas Masterpiece :)

A very big Merry Christmas from the Wiltshire crew. May your holidays be ever idealistically cheery and bright.