The Book of Faces

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I’d hazard to guess that most people do. I love that I can “see” my friends from high school and college even though they’ve moved all over the country. Granted, it’s a little stalker-esque to “follow” someone’s life through pictures, but I still enjoy it. I love being able to share my life and who doesn’t like all those “likes” you get when you post a picture? That’s the whole point, right? Facebook has a ton of good qualities. I mean I keep going back multiple times a day so it must have something I like.

What I don’t like is how Facebook can make me feel about myself and my life. Because you don’t automatically think, “well, they’re posting only the best things”, and take things with a grain of salt when you see pictures of your friends in Aruba or baking the world’s coolest cupcakes for their 10 kids. I’m a pretty straightforward person, both on and off Facebook, so I don’t immediately assume everyone is only highlighting the good. Nope. I think I’m failing as a mom or wife. I don’t travel enough. I don’t contribute enough. I have one kid and can’t get anything done and these people have five kids (five!) and are travelling and doing all these family things. I can barely get through a meal with my little heathen. And Lord, when I post that particular little truth nugget… Let’s just say my bid for mom of the year grows stronger daily. That’s honestly how I feel.

Now I can’t blame that all on Facebook. Some of that is just who I am. I will never feel I measure up to other moms. It’s not going to happen, so you can save your inspiring texts and emails about how awesome I am. I’m good. I know it’s stupid, as my sweet husband points out daily, but I can’t make myself stop. That’s not Facebook’s fault. But if there was no Facebook, and I wasn’t hooked on it, I wouldn’t have that shoved in my face as often and in living color. So I do put some blame on Facebook and social media in general.

I give massive props to people who “quit” Facebook. You go. You have the willpower of a god as far as I’m concerned. I just don’t feel like that’s a valid option for me. It’s literally the only way I “see” some of my family and friends. I also use it for my business. It just isn’t logical to stop using it altogether. But I wonder if I can inspire others to try for a little honesty on there. It always amazes me when I post something like “I hate everyone today” and people start worrying about something tragic going on in my life. I’m just posting my honest opinion at that moment, which is what I like to think everyone is doing, so why the concern? Then it dawns on me – most people are only posting rainbows and roses. They assume your world is ending if you actually post anything non-sunny on Facebook. Nope. I hate people at least one day a week on average. That’s me. No crisis, just putting it out there as more of a public service announcement. I guess I could wear some sort of sign instead, but a Facebook post lets people I don’t see daily know not to call, or God forbid, stop by for a visit. A sign on my person will not do that.

So yeah, I love it…I hate it. I’m addicted to it, even though it sometimes makes me feel like a complete and utter failure. I’m working on that. But how about we all agree to be more realistic on the book of faces? Because if I’m feeling this way, I hate to think how the more vulnerable people in our lives feel. ‘Cause I can guarantee they’re on there reading posts several hours a day. And while I have a full time job and a little heathen at home to keep my mind occupied most of the day, not everyone does. Now don’t go depressing everyone you know on there, but maybe shoot for posting about the not perfect times once in a while. It’s ok to have a bad day and shout it from the internet. I personally love giving someone a good laugh at my expense. And hey, you’ll get lots of encouragement and prayers as an added bonus! Win win.

Welcome to the Unknown

If you’re a medical professional, I’m going to go ahead and suggest you skip this one.

So. This isn’t going to be funny or profound. It’s mostly me venting and feeling sorry for myself. So you’ve been warned.

If you are one of those fortunate people who go to a doctor with a problem and get a diagnosis, you won’t understand this one. I bet you didn’t even know there was a different way. But there is. I am one of those people that leaves the doctor’s office frustrated and often crying. Today is one of those days. You see, it doesn’t matter what I go for, cold, weird pain, rash, etc., I rarely get an answer. I get a ton of “I don’t see anything” and “I’m sorry, come back if you have another symptom,” but very few answers. It is unhelpful at best and soul crushing at worst. Today I went to a doctor I love. She is my favorite of all of them. But today she got to tell me she doesn’t know what’s causing my issue. There is nothing there. So what the hell is it? Is it really just in my head? I like to think I’m not that crazy, but am I? Honestly, appointments like this make me question my sanity on top of everything else.

This is pretty much constant in my life, except a lot of times I don’t like the doctor so I don’t go so peacefully. Ask the rheumatologist at Vanderbilt who basically dismissed me, so I insisted he test me, and he later had to call and tell me I am developing a very rare autoimmune disease. Moron. Just because I don’t look sick and don’t have the symptoms you are accustomed to, doesn’t mean you get to dismiss me. That day I was in no mood to be casually dismissed by a kid doctor. He will never see me again, though I’m sure he would love to study me. My endocrinologist is a genius as far as I’m concerned. He gave me my son. When he told me they had exhausted their vast resources and were out of options, it was hard to take. It’s hard to take when you are having trouble breathing and actually break down and go to the ER and are told there’s nothing there causing it. This is my experience with the medical world.

So again, you are truly blessed if you can go to the doctor and come out feeling relieved or even terrified. At least you have something to fight. I exit, call my husband or mom, and cry in frustration. I have to remind myself that doctors absolutely don’t know everything and there are things even they have never seen. But it is very hard. Especially when you sit here still having the same problem, trying to decide if it’s real or not.

If you have never experienced this, I pray you never do. It sucks. Does it do any good to tell you this? Nope. Do I feel better? Nope. Is there a point? Not really. Welcome to my frustrating world.

It Is Well

It really isn’t. If I’m honest with you and myself, it just isn’t. I would love to give you some really impressive motivational speech. But I can’t, because I’m not feeling it either.

Have you ever wanted something so badly and for so long that it consumes you? I have. In my teenage years I always imagined a house full of kids when I “grew up”. But it was not meant to be for me. After many years of heartache, we finally did in vitro fertilization (IVF) to have my beautiful little son. Prior to that I had done a lot of things trying to make this particular dream come true. Many, many things that I never thought I would allow my body to go through. In a way, IVF was a relief. I knew it was going to be intense going in. No surprise there. There was a set process and I knew it was going to suck. I spent a lot of time on the road (I live about two and a half hours from my doctor), taking shots in parking lots and sitting in rush hour traffic after leaving home at 4:30 a.m., sometimes twice a week. Looking back, it seems unreal that I went through that. But I have my son to show for the hard work, so it was fulfilling.

Most people don’t know, but we tried again a few years ago. I spent six months in what I can only describe as pure hell. Hopes up, hopes crushed. Hopes up, hopes crushed. My body would not cooperate like it did the first time. My nurse literally told me they didn’t know what else to do. After all that work, my doctor recommended we give it a try and pray for the best. Those that know me don’t see a kid walking around, so you know how that one went. Not only is IVF an emotional journey, it’s a financial one. To spend that kind of money for heartbreak is another level of misery.

People seem to think that once you have your miracle baby, you should be satisfied and content. And I guess a lot of people are. I am not. I want a brother or sister for my son. I want the chance to have a normal, uneventful pregnancy and delivery. The memory of my last delivery and first month of mommyhood are not pleasant. I guess I should be happy I even have a child, lots of people never do. I know that. But that’s not how it is, so that’s not how I feel.

When you struggle with infertility, you try to remain level at all times. Never get your hopes up. You pray, beg, cry and beg some more sometimes, but never get excited. You keep secrets from your spouse, because you don’t want to disappoint both of you. You lie to yourself to keep your excitement down. Never get your hopes up. Never. I made that mistake recently. I let myself believe for just a second. Just a second. The devastation never gets easier apparently. On top of the disappointment, you’re mad at yourself for being so stupid. I know my issues. I know how miraculous it would have to be to get pregnant without intervention. But I see it happen for others, so why not me?

So. It is not well with my soul right now. I’m trying. I’ve poured out my heart to God and cried hysterically while my sweet husband held me. It simply never gets easier. Fortunately I have my essential oils endeavor to occupy my mind when I have free time. But it still hurts. It hurts every time I see a baby. It hurts every time I hear someone say, “We were so surprised! We didn’t even want another baby!” It hurts every time I see a story of abuse or neglect. It just hurts. Over and over. These days I pray God will take the desire from me. Just take it. The relief of not wanting something I can’t have would be tremendous. I think I would be a totally different person. But it’s still there. I have to make myself stop hoping, because why would God give me a desire he doesn’t intend to fulfill? That seems cruel. But there it is.

I don’t know why I had to get this out. Maybe it will help me, but I doubt it. More likely it will help one of you. Which is wonderful. The only thing I see that has come out of all this is I have been able to talk to other people first hand about my struggle. When I did IVF, I didn’t know anyone else who had done it. I scoured the internet for support groups and information. I kept the whole process a secret. I was almost ashamed I had to go to such lengths. Now I can encourage other people and explain the process. I can empathize. I can encourage. With all of my issues, if I can get pregnant, anyone can. The options are absolutely endless for them. Me, not so much. But I think of all I’ve done and know that I did all I could. It just wasn’t meant to be. And I am afraid I will struggle forever trying to make it well with my soul.

This day, y’all

Some days are better than others, know what I mean? It’s not that today was a bad day, per se, it’s just blah. I don’t want to be where I am all day doing what I’m doing… today at least.

Most days I really like my job. I used to love it, but “like” is better than where I was before. I love the people I work with and let’s be real, I’m not going anywhere any time soon (so y’all stop panicking). But whatever is up with me makes me dissatisfied with my present situation.

Not my home life. It’s stressful, but whose isn’t? My husband is sometimes the only thing keeping me sane. I’m hanging on to him. It’s work, I think. I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing anything. I mostly repeat myself a lot and hope for the best. My favorite part is solving problems and helping other people figure something out. Everybody deserves answers and I love trying to break it down so it’s easier the next time. And I still do that a lot. But I am not happy there right now.

Some of it is this stupid boot. It is totally screwing up my mojo. But the real problem is somebody convinced me that work could, maybe, on a wing and a prayer, if the stars align, be something different and that I could actually look forward to it for a change. It’s a far off dream and one a lot of other people have had and failed to realize. I’m a lot of things, but stupid isn’t one of them. Are you still crazy if you realize you are crazy? I need to find that out. But right now I have this teeny tiny hope of light at the end of the tunnel.

So I carry on, confusing the heck out of people who know me well. Who is this Katie who is happy and doing something weird, even for her? I like to think it’s the new, better me, but today I just want to lay down and sleep. But have no fear, there’s an oil for that.

This stupid boot

I am currently wearing what I lovingly refer to as “my stupid boot.”  I hate this thing.  It’s hot.  It’s big and annoying.  I’m already clumsy without adding extra weight to one foot.  Now I run over random walls and door frames in addition to all the normal things I trip over.  Add that my daily driver is a Jeep, which has little to no leg room for changing into said MSB after I’ve driven to work, and you have the perfect storm.  I.  Hate. This. Stupid. Boot.

In March, my lovely husband and I went to test drive a very large truck.  We like to trail ride and rock crawl, so this was a rig for that.  It was big enough that we would be able to take Tuck or another person if we wanted, unlike all of our previous ones.  I got up in it fine.  When it came time to get out is when all the good stuff happened.  I looked down from a pretty good height and thought, “I can totally hop out of here.”  And I could.  Unless I caught my second foot on a roll cage and landed four foot down on one foot instead of two.  I literally hit the ground and crumpled into a heap.  I had always heard people say that, but seriously, I was a pile of person.  Then I laughed, of course, because how embarrassing is it really to almost kill yourself in a strangers driveway?   The truck was so tall it took my husband a minute to realize he couldn’t see my head.  He asked if I was ok and I said something along the lines of, “Well,  I didn’t break my arm, so that’s good.”  At this point the seller came back out and started talking to my husband about the test drive.  Again, big truck, so he couldn’t see me lying there in said heap in his driveway.  I finally convinced myself to get up and hobbled myself to the Jeep.  No one asked why I was walking so funny and I gratefully crept into hiding to lick my wounds.  I sat there trying to decide if I was really hurt or I was just old.  I now know it was both.   By the time my husband finished his standard thirty minute conversation with arandom person, I knew I was hurt, but figured it was just badly bruised.  The turning point was when we got out to eat and I couldn’t get my shoe on.  So then came the humiliating trip to the walk-in clinic, where I got to retell this story several times, to find out I had indeed broken my foot.  Seriously.   I’ve decided I will never survive old age.  I’ll need a keeper full-time to make age appropriate decisions, because no doubt I will be a danger to myself and those around me.  Anyway,  I ended up in MSB at that time for five and a half weeks.  I couldn’t drive at first.   You don’t realize how much you truly hate relying on another human being until you’re doing it against your will.  People were great, but I hated every minute.  When I went back for my first follow-up,  I was graduated to a Darco shoe, which is basically the thing you used to see people wearing with a cast to walk.  I wore it for ten days.  Ok, maybe it was only a week.  I really did.  But I couldn’t figure out the point.   My foot could flex and bend and it didn’t keep pressure off of it.   How was this different from a regular shoe?  I still don’t know, but apparently it is. And I know that little fact because when I went back for a follow-up, my doctor was not impressed.  My foot was obviously not healing because *groan* I hadn’t worn the shoe. He told me I had to go back to the shoe or next time I get my very own cast or possibly get to schedule surgery.  I bet he hasn’t heard an adult say “suck” that many times in his career.  But I was seriously over having a bum foot.  I basically whined like a little kid since my husband wasn’t there to shame me into acting like an adult.   Needless to say, I just went back to the full boot.  I can’t be trusted in the shoe.   I walk stairs.  I chase my kid.  I help feed cows.  I get in the creek.  The options are endless.  So it’s MSB for several more weeks.  I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that surgery is inevitable.   I mean I almost have a week of vacation saved up and that just can’t happen.  Today I am off to my second Predators hockey game in said MSB.  I actually went the first time in the rain of all things.   But it was the playoffs.  I mean the playoffs!  And I scored seats on the fourth row!  I was not staying home.  At least I don’t need the classy bag this time (see below).   It drew quite a few comments about my commitment to the team.   It was great.  Except for actually wearing it.  That was annoying.  But this boot is made for walking and I have places to be and things to do until they forcefully make me sit down.  I have a feeling I will not be a good patient.  Oh well, go Preds!

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Gloom, Despair & Agony on Me

Anybody remember Hee Haw?  Yeah, well, it was a few decades ago.  And maybe it was only in Tennessee.  Well anyway, I was not very old, but I remember watching it at my grandma’s house.  If you ever saw the show, you recognize the title to this post.  This is a song that pops in my head at some of the most inappropriate times.  Like my brain is trying to protect my sanity.  In my memory, my dad walks around singing it happily.  That may or may not have happened (sorry, Daddy), but that’s who is singing it in my head today.  When I thought about posting about the last few years of my life, this song popped in my head again.  Today I just want to hit the high (actually low) points, so you have a pencil-drawn map of the road I traveled to get here – not exact, possibly slightly crooked, but it will give you an idea of where we’re headed.

In October of 2014, our life on the Double E changed forever.  That sounds super dramatic, I know, but honestly it changed everything.  My father-in-law had a massive heart attack.  He and my mother-in-law were keeping my son every day at the time.  That was about to change, along with a lot of other things for us and my little one.  We spent several days at the hospital crying and praying in the cafeteria.  He had open heart surgery and thankfully, is still mending fences and tending his garden today.  At the time I wasn’t very familiar with heart attacks.  I knew they told us he had a “widow-maker” and that was bad, but I didn’t understand the damage it caused and the way it would affect the day to day for him and by extension the whole family.  It was a hard time.

Fast forward 6 months…my husband and I, well mainly I, decided it was a good time to try to have another baby.  Life had settled back down, I thought, and I wasn’t getting any younger.  I say try because our son is here by the grace of God.  That is a fact.  Long story short, in vitro fertilization is hard on a girl.  But that’s a story for another day.  So we began that process in April.  The first week of May, my dad had a massive heart attack.  If I hadn’t been living it myself, I wouldn’t have believed how eerily similar this was to our time six months before.  Same heart attack, same floor of the hospital, same absolute disbelief and fear.  Same crying and praying.  This time we were more knowledgeable, but no less afraid.  I’d love to know the odds of two people this closely related both surviving 100% blockages and a heart attack aptly named a widow-maker.  It’s still hard to believe how very fortunate we are.  Luckily my dad didn’t have to have open heart surgery, but today both our dads sport matching defibrillators.  I liked to tell people it was the accessory of the season.  They didn’t seem as amused as I was.

Fast forward six months…after a truly miserable six months of stress over my dad while trying to make my stupid body cooperate with my once well-laid plan, our doctor suggested a “Hail Mary” of sorts.  It didn’t work.  Again, a story for another day.

Six weeks later, on December 23, 2015, a tornado destroyed our small town.  My husband and I were in the basement with our in-laws, our 80 year old grandmother, our 4 year old and our trusted blue heeler as the tornado passed over the house.  The destruction was, and still is, indescribable.    The fact that no one lost their life that night is a miracle in itself. Add that one to the list of stories for another day.

Fast forward six months…my sweet nephew was born on April 15, 2016.  Three days later our family crowded around him to both meet him for the first time and say our good-byes.  There are no words.  He was buried on my birthday.

Life has continued on that six month cycle for a while now.  To the point I start dreading the days as I realize another half year has passed.  When you tell people these stories, they don’t even know how to respond.  I can’t blame them.  But we carry on.  Maybe we carry on carefully, sometimes with something close to fear, but we do it nonetheless.

I am not sharing these things to get your sympathy or pity; I don’t need or want it.  I simply want you to see this side of me.  Because I intend to share A LOT of funnier things along the way, but you can’t fully appreciate the mountaintop if you forget the valleys.  Man I sound like I know what I’m doing.  And I totally do not.  The reality is sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying.  Who knew that was a fact and not just a weird quote?

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