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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I want to know why?

Our family has really been put through the ringer in the last few years. My granny died, Jenna was stillborn, my sister was arrested for meth. I thought that was the end of it. I thought things could only go up.

Yesterday, my little brother tried to commit suicide by hanging himself in the shed behind their house. His wife was going to be moving out in the next few days because they were going to get a divorce. When I talked to him on Friday, he seemed to be doing well. My mom works at Wal-Mart, and he called her earlier in the day to ask her if she would pick him up some sleep aids. She said she would.

I was eating supper when the phone call came in. My sister-in-law asked me to come to the house because my brother had tried to hang himself. I said Oh my God, no. I scared Tessa to death, and she knew instantly something was wrong. I guess part of it is because of how much has gone wrong in the past few years. She wanted to go with me, but I convinced her not to.

I called my sister in law while I was driving. She told me to go to the hospital. I did, but I was so scared. I alternated crying and talking to my granny, begging her to let him be Ok. I don't pray anymore, but I do talk to my granny. On the way to hospital, someone, not even sure now who, calls me to tell me he has a good pulse and heartbeat. I feel better. As I'm getting out of my van, my mom calls me back and says they are lifeflighting him to Vanderbilt. I get out of my van and run (and running is not something I do easily) into the hospital. I was too late. They already had him on the helicoptor.

My mom, aunt and cousin came in a bit later. They had been at water aerobics and were in the emergency room in their bathing suits. We decided to go home, let them get changed, and me say goodbye to the girls before going up there. We also had to take my nephew to Brian before we could go.

All the way to Nashville, I cried and talked to Granny again. Growing up, my brother and I were very close. My stepdad favored my half sister, and my mom didn't do anything to stop him really. It always felt like me and him against the world. He even lived with Brian and I for a few years after we got married.

We get to the hospital, and it's bad. He is on the ventilator and was non-responsive. He was posturing, which the nurse said was the final stage of brain damage. I got to go see him. He looked horrible, and it made me sob. I found out more about what happened. He gave his wife a kiss and told her goodbye. She wanted to know why goodbye, and he shook his head. He went out back and she walked to the house. As she was going up the stairs, she turned to look behind her and saw him kick the cooler he was standing on out from underneath him.

She went running, calling 911 as she went. She shut the door to the shed to keep their boys from seeing, but her seven year old and his friend peeked in the window and saw. I hate that my nephew saw his daddy like that. I hate that his friend had to see it. My sister in law kept holding him up, but as he weighs 180 pounds, she had trouble. By the time the police and the paramedics arrived, he was dead. They brought him back around, but he was without oxygen for a while. Our cousin was one of the police officers who responded.

I don't really know how he is today to be honest. They had him sedated because of the posturing from last night, and they tried to remove it. As he came back up from the sedation, he became agitated and had to be sedated again. Before being sedated again, he was breathing at 60 percent on his own, but the rest was the ventilator. The neurological team views the agitation as a good sign. They did say he could walk out without any problems, but he could also be like he is now forever. He is responding, but most of them are reflex responses, so we don't really know if he is or not. My mom seems to think he is.

I don't know what to think or what to do. I just know my heart is breaking for my brother, my partner against the world as a child. I don't want to lose him, but he would not want to be hooked to machines for the rest of his life. My sister in law said they had discussed it, and he would want to be removed from the machines. If my mom thought there was a chance for him at all, even if the doctors tell her otherwise, she will fight it tooth and nail. I don't know where to stand.

We will know more tomorrow after he has his brain wave activity scan done. My family prays. They are all Christians. I am not sure what I am, but I don't feel like a hypocrit asking for prayers since they all believe. I just want your positive thoughts.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

Tomorrow is Oct. 15, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. At 7 p.m., people all over the world will light candles in remembrance, creating a wave of light. I would love it if you could light one for Jenna.

I never realized how much losing a baby would change your life. I knew it would hurt, but I never thought it would make me a completely different person. I never knew I would think about it every single day. I never realized I would think about Jenna every day for the rest of my life.

I didn't think it was something you would get over, but I didn't think it would affect you like losing a child who has lived outside the womb. While I can never compare my loss to the loss of a living, breathing child, I think having a stillborn baby carries with it its own unique type of grief.

We have no memories. We never saw them smile. We only got to hold them for a few minutes. The only pictures we have are a few taken at the hospital. Those things make having a stillborn baby a unique type of grief. Someday, if I can get through school, I hope to help women and families going through that unique grief.

If you know someone who has lost a baby, either through miscarriage, stillbirth or infancy, please leave me a comment. I will remember them as I am lighting my candles tomorrow night.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Co-ed sleepovers or camping trips

Tessa's best friend is a little boy who is a grade ahead of her in school. I am very good friends with his mom. In fact, I now consider her one of my best friends. They live in the neighborhood, and we see them every single day.

This friend, who I will call E, is the one who is going camping with Brian and Tessa. Some of my family members, and a few of my friends, have expressed concern about the two of them sleeping in the same tent. I think this is crazy. They are seven and eight, for goodness sakes.

Tessa has spent the night at his house, and he has here, too. They are together just about every single day, but definitely every day after school. They ride the bus home together and play until dark. He calls my mom "Nana." They are actually more like cousins than best friends.

People have expressed concern about this. They said kids know more today than they did years ago, so they shouldn't be having sleepovers together. I think it's a bit sad and maybe even a little sick to give sexual connotations to innocent children's fun.

Maybe I am the crazy one though. Would you let your seven year old have a sleepover with someone of the opposite sex? If they were 12 or 13, I would definitely not allow it, but I don't have any problem with it at this age.

Time...You ain't no friend of mine

I need more hours in the day. Twenty-four just isn't enough. Between 16 hours of classes, homework, housework, taking care of two girls...I feel like I never have enough time for anything.

Brian is taking Tessa and a friend camping this weekend. I have two Power Point presentations due to Monday night plus a major test Monday, too, so Ella and I are at home while they camp. I hope I can get it all done.

I know it's just for two more semesters and then I will be done with my bachelor's degree. I can handle it for that long.

Parking is getting better now that some have dropped classes or are skipping. I love the classes I'm taking, too. I just wish I had more time.

Speaking of time, I can't believe how fast it's going by. Ella turned 10 months old yesterday. In two more months, my baby will be one. I know I will be bawling my eyes out that day.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back to school

Saturday was my first time in a classroom as a student in 12 years. I was excited and nervous. That class was great. It was Foundations of Mental Health Counseling, and it is actually a undergraduate/graduate class, which means it has some students who are undergraduates and some who are graduate students. We learned what we will have to do in order to become counselors and a brief history of the field. I had no trouble parking.

I was more nervous about Monday. In fact, I was so nervous I was sick to my stomach all weekend. I was afraid of not finding parking and not finding my way to class, but I left the house at 7:30 a.m., found parking in the first lot I went to and was early for my class. It is Sociology of Families. I had this teacher last semester, and I loved that class. It was online though so I had never met her in person. My night class was at 6 p.m., and of course, I had no problem finding parking. That class was behavioral modification, and I know it's going to be interesting.

Today, I left at the same time but had to stop for gas. This put me a little behind, and I had to go to three parking lots before I found a space. It wasn't that much farther away than my first choice, so it was ok. I made it in plenty of time and was able to re-read some of the article assignments for the class. I absolutely love this one. This teacher is fabulous, and I can't wait to dissect societal norms for what makes a family.

I have just gotten started the last few days with my online classes, and I think they will be interesting, too. I still hate parking, but I am glad I took some on campus classes this fall. I think I'm going to like interacting with the students and the teacher.

Friday, August 27, 2010

You've been through worse

I have been texting my friend and my cousin all week about MTSU's parking. They both attended there, and my friend is currently pursuing her master's degree. Yesterday, I went to buy my books and asked about the parking lot where I want to park and was told it fills up by 7:30 a.m. Yeah, right. I have a kid to get to school. There's no way I can get there that early.

After I texted my cousin about another spot, she called me. She told me I was worrying too much about parking and overthinking it. She said it would be hard for the first two weeks and after that, people would start dropping classes. It would be easier to find a parking spot then.

Then she totally summed it up for me. She said, "You've been through worse. You can do this." She's right. She totally put it in perspective for me. I have been through worse. I made it through that, and I can make it through finding a parking space and finding my way to class.

Tomorrow is my first day, and I know I will be able to find parking on a Saturday. I'm looking forward to this class because of it's Foundations of Mental Health Counseling and that's what I want to do when I finish school. I also have to admit I'm a bit nervous to be 33 years old in a classroom full of kids.

Please wish me luck. I know I'll be fine tomorrow, but the panic is still there about Monday. I am just trying to remember that I have been through worse, and if I can get through that, I can get through this.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ella's insurance issues are fixed

Yesterday, we received Ella's insurance cards in the mail. I have been fighting to get her covered since the day before she was born last November.

My husband's job pays pretty well, but the benefits stink. It doesn't offer insurance for family members, just the employees, so the girls and I can't get on it. Our state offers a program called Cover Kids. For children a year old and older, the income range for free coverage is $21,000 to $55,000. I think this is wonderful because so many people fall into this income bracket and can get good health care coverage for their children. If your child is under a year old, the income bracket is $40,000 to $55,000. What I also like about this program is that it's mostly for people who are middle class, who work really hard and pay taxes, but find it difficult to get help when they need it because they make too much money, and if someone says anything about government assistance and them paying for our healthcare, I can pull out our tax return and show exactly how much we paid in taxes last year and the year before.

I hate talking about how much we make, but we do make over $40,000 a year. When I signed Ella up, I was nervous about being induced as I was doing it just a few hours before I was to go into the hospital. I looked at Brian's paycheck stub wrong and put down his take home pay instead of his gross pay. The insurance company would not do anything though until I received Ella's social security number, which took almost two months. So, I put her number in and at the end of January, I find out we didn't make enough money for her to be under Cover Kids. They said she was eligible for TennCare, our state's version of Medicaid.

So, I go and apply for TennCare. They told me then they thought I would probably not be eligible based on Brian's pay. A few weeks later, we get a letter, telling us exactly that. At this point, I'm wondering why we aren't eligible for either one. I decide to do some investigation and in mid-April, I figured out my mistake. I corrected it in the computer and waited for a response.

Nothing came. I called in May, and they told me that since they had just opened up re-enrollment that it would take a while to get back to me, but they would eventually. So, I waited and waited. I paid out of pocket for medical expenses. Ella became sick in July with the adenovirus and had an ear infection. It was only $85, but I knew something else might happen. My patience with the people at Cover Kids was running thin, and I thought I had waited long enough.

They checked their records and said I was supposed to be told to provide proof of income. In all of the phone calls I made, no one ever told me that. I never got a letter, nothing at all. So, I faxed a paycheck stub to them and waited. However, just about two weeks after the adenovirus, Ella was sick again, very sick. She had a very high fever of nearly 104, but her ears weren't infected. Her throat wasn't red either. Her doctor wanted blood work, a shot of massive antibiotics and a urine sample, which would require her to be catharized. He wanted to rule out sepsis.

I was worried to death about the costs, because he was sending us over to the hospital. I knew it would be a huge bill without insurance. However, I wasn't worried about her getting treatment, because it was a hospital, and they are required to treat, right? Nope, wrong. They demanded full payment up front and gave me a rough estimate of $400 to $700. It would have taken everything I had in liquid cash to pay that, and I would have had to go to two banks to get enough out of savings to cover it. We are building our savings back up after emptying it to buy a car in February, but it's slow going right now.

Well, I complained (my mom was there and was awful about it), and they allowed me to make a $150 down payment. Luckily, Ella just had a bad virus, and it had to run its course. I was not willing to risk this happening again, so I called Cover Kids the next day to find out what was going on. They said they had received the paycheck stub and was processing it. I would hear something in the next week. Well, the next week came and nothing. I called last week and was told that since it had been a month since I had enrolled her, I would have to re-enroll her. I was furious, but at least, she will have coverage starting September 1.

As anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows, I am pro-universal heatlth care. Even after all of this hassle, I still feel that way. Tessa has been on Cover Kids for almost two years now, and all we have had to pay out in medical bills is co-pays and prescription costs. It is a wonderful program, and I have never had a problem getting them to cover something or pay. Brian, who is against universal health care, said all this trouble with Ella was why he was against it, but I reminded him of how well it has covered with Tessa. He had to admit I was right.

So, Ella's coverage starts next Wednesday, and we go Thursday for her nine month well baby visit. It's a little late, but that's ok. I am just so glad she has coverage.