Heart of It

My 16 year old daughter, our middle child, Annslee Hope, had emergency open heart surgery Jan 18.

It was terrifying. It was out of nowhere and it stopped my world.

She donated blood at school on Friday, Jan 11 and later that night passed out at work. In doing so, she hit a metal prep table & lost consciousness, so we took her to ER to be checked. There, they confirmed a concussion, anemia and a never before heard heart murmur that was “very noticeable”. We had her pediatrician check it out on Tues & she was alarmed! That Thursday at noon, we were having an ECHO done on her heart.

By 3:30, we were called and told that they had found that it was not a murmur but a very large and life threatening mass in her heart. We rushed 2 hrs away to a Children’s Hospital to doctors who were waiting for her arrival. The testing began immediately and we were sent to the ICU.

At 9:30 am, Friday, Jan 18, the doctors began open heart surgery to remove a 8.5 cm x 2 cm myxoma (tumor) from the right ventricle of her heart. It’s size & placement are extremely rare. It was connected by “a thread” and the dr was amazed that we were “discussing her case post surgery and not at autopsy”. He repeated over & over that she was so lucky to have lived to make it to surgery. Any hit or fall should have dislodged the mass & killed her because it dropped into his hands when he touched it in surgery. In fact, passing out & falling FORWARD was a blessing because falling backward would surely have cause it to break away. While in surgery, they also corrected a previously unknown whole in heart heart between her right and left atrium. The surgery was completed in 6 hours and was successful. And within 14 hours after surgery, she was already requesting to get out of bed & was up and walking.

Had she not given blood at school, though, we’d never had known that she had a time bomb in her heart. She’d have died of sudden cardiac arrest & we’d have just lost her. She never had a symptom of any tumor or any problem. She’s always been very active. She would have just been here and then gone!

And as terrifying as the surgery and the waiting and all of this recovery and dodging infections & illnesses as she recovers is… nothing is as terrifying as knowing we could have lost her and she could have been saved.

She’s a strong girl & her recovery is going well. It just takes time. And we know how blessed we are.

So, yes… my other two HAVE had ECHOs done because I’m taking no chances.

Because the heart of it is that they ARE my heart & soul & we were blessed with a second chance…

Annslee after surgery

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A Pot

I am a pot

Molded to hold a world of love,

Knowledge and amazing life.

But i am cracked,

Broken,

Falling apart,

And all that i should be, is less.

All that i should be isn’t.

I’m left with doubt, pain

And visions of what i wanted to be.

Instead of being filled with beauty,

Happiness and hope

I have nothing left to share.

What have i to give

But broken pieces

Of a

Pot.

Dr. And the Ass

So, i lied to my psychiatrist about something ridiculous & he called me on it. And now i feel stupid…. ugh! See, I’ve had medical issues & needed a MRI. Results came back good but left me with no answers so we were texting & working on what to do next. He asked how i was psychologically when I became sarcastic. I lied to cover it up but obviously did a poor job with my cover up. End of texting on his end…. I did text back with how i was honestly doing but it’s silent on his end so i guess we are done conversing. yep. I’m an ass

Not yourself

“You just aren’t yourself.”

“You just seem off.”

“You don’t seem like you these days.”

“What’s going on with you?”

“I’m sorry,” i say.

I’ve heard it all lately. By lately, i mean for a month or so. I’m not the me i once was or still should be. I’m not the Hope that people expect to encounter in day to day life or small talk or at work. They note that I’m just off… different. To be honest, it’s the most annoying of conversations starters, this glimpse into my apparent fault. It’s as though I’ve annoyed THEM with my changes in character or behavior. Odd, actually. And more than a bit painful.

See, what’s changed is my medication. I am, among other things, bipolar and struggling. What’s different is that I’m fully compliant with the mega doses of meds I’m being told to try to expel the voices & hallucinations from my already crowded world. What’s new is that, for the first time in a long time i don’t need to be louder than the sounds of my brain or run faster than the rollercoaster that is my mind. I’m not entertaining others in hopes they won’t notice me falling apart instead. Perhaps I’m a bit depressed and showing it, (but it’s to be expected after a manic episode inclusive of psychosis and near break down.) Maybe i seem to be moving too slow in comparison and they worry… but it feels like more.

It feels like my mind is calmer and my body can calm, too. It feels like i can maybe breathe a little. I don’t LOVE the meds, honestly, but some effects are undeniable. In some ways, they are good. But all this feedback also feels like they don’t much like the Hope i really am (or might be) and they’d prefer the entertainer who laughs all the time (to hide the fear & pain), who works nonstop (to outrun the past) and who is loud & boisterous (just loud enough to quiet the sounds in my mind). I explain that it’s the meds but i hear things like “they are too strong”, ” are you going to change them?”, “that’s horrible” and “talk to your doctor about them”. I try to say that things are better, but all i get is argument about how out of character I’ve been. My coworkers, my boss, my friends, my best friends…. even my husband all sing the same song. Honestly, it’s tiring and i want to give up dealing with it. They don’t understand.

Redemptive Love

Our church gathers with many other churches in town once a week during the weeks of the Lenten season to present a sermon series a lunch on Wednesday’s until Easter. It’s well attended and takes place at a particularly great old, refurbished downtown theatre called the Hippodrome. The pastors take turns offering the “meditations”. This year the theme is redemptive love.

This being said, I’d like to rewind and say that it’s been a very hard few weeks. I have done well avoiding hospital by following the “upped meds” plan of 600 milligrams Quetiapine and 300 Topimax and Xanax & blah blah blah…. and the hallucinations & “delusions” are not as frequent. 👍🏻

So, my pastor approached me because she wanted to use my story to talk about redemption. Honestly, i was confused about how my story had anything to do with redemption. She promised to “protect” me by not using my name & being as vague as possible without being too vague as to lose the nuances of the story. Still, i wasn’t sure what there was in my story that was redemptive, but i trust her & knew she’d be as graceful & honest as possible while keeping me hidden, so i agreed.

The Wednesday of the Lenten series came & my pastor asked if i could come. I’m a teacher, but i did rearrange my schedule to make time to attend. So, there i sat– nervous & feeling in the spotlight- as the service began. And it began. My pastor began her story and her eloquence was undeniable. I love hearing her spin a story because you find yourself being pulled right along.

But, suddenly then elements began to ring with a familiar sourness. The details of the story fell into place and my stomach began to sour. I knew this story… this nightmare. Each part– time left alone to be abused, pain, ignorance- was all to real and i could see people all around physically recoil as she told the story of the pain & abuse of this child at the hands of “her” abuser.

I could also see their faces as she told of those OTHER grandparents & THEIR redeeming, amazing, encompassing love AND of the love of the man who fell in love with her & married her. I saw their faces when she talked of the man who walked with her thru the bubbling up of old memories & pain & psychiatrists & hospital stays…. and his redemptive love…Of the redemptive love of her paternal grandparents, her children, her closest friends her husbands & her God.

It’s interesting to hear & see your life struggles thru the eyes of God through the eyes of another person.

It’s still a huge struggle… but this week i have been blessed.

That Crazy Bipolar Psychosis

Oh yeah… Mania. I do love a good mania. I get SOO much done. You have a project? I’m on it! We need to rethink an approach to how we teach an element? I’m on it! We have a major event that has to be planned? Done & done. Desk clear, calendar executed, all projects completed! I look like a friggin monster! Yeah– I’ve finished it.

Sleep? I don’t need it.

Food? Not right now.

Thinking? I’m doing it 24/7– and so are all the damn voices in my head. Shit…

Oh hell yeah… My head is full of noise. I’ve tried to explain it before– those voices. Let me explain. It’s like being in a quiet room (like a library or church) and knowing that people around you are holding whispered conversations that you can’t quite make out except for a few words, but you can hear them. And then there is that ONE VOICE that is just a bit louder that you CAN hear. THAT voice is simply vile… “everyone thinks you are ridiculous”, “you are a fraud”, “you should just slit your wrists”, “you should just end it all”, “everyone just pities you”… on and on. Pleasant. Have i listened? Did i cut? Well… yeah. Did it shut the voices up? For a bit. Sometimes, not all the time, it’s blissfully quiet– but it doesn’t last. I know it’s not real, honestly. I’m not crazy. But, when people DO talk to me, there are times i don’t realize it! It can be hard to tell the difference. Oops!

Oh… and i have had a few visual hallucinations. They are a bit more rare. Nothing too scary, usually… Most times it’s just a particular black cat, Midnight. He’s always in my periphery. When things get BAD, my hallucinations of of people who walk into the street as I’m driving. That’s horrifying.

There are other things too… but i don’t want to sound too crazy. I know how nuts they sound and i want save some face. 😉

I was with my psychologist last week and (because she insisted) i contacted my psychiatrist. He adjusted my meds with the hope it would “fix” things by today. He was hinting that the hospital might be needed–which he NEVER does. I hate going & wanted to work thru it at home.

Now, i think I’m regretting that choice, but I’m not willing to go until my doctor pushes it… and my psychologist is out next week. I’m just going to push thru & hope the meds continue to work…

And i hope the darkest part is over.

to be honest… I’m scared.

Missing

I’ve not written in so long. I’ve honestly missed this community and keeping up with the lives of so many here. It feels good to know you aren’t the “only one” struggling through life.

I’ve missed you, but i resolve to blog more this year– because it’s cathartic and i just need the opportunity to release so much.

❤️.