Last year at this time my husband, daughters and I spent a week at a cabin in the Hocking Hills. It was such a nice escape from our everyday life. I have been itching to get back for another week to relax. Unfortunately I am unable to take a vacation until sometime in the fall due to work commitments, so I will have to settle for maybe a weekend sometime and the many pictures of our many trips to the hills.
We have a new addition to our family. As you can see he is a ginger and adorable and it was love at first sight. His name is Rooney, and no he wasn't named after Mickey even though my husband likes to joke that it is. He doesn't know funny anyway. He's named after Wayne Rooney since I'm a huge Man U fan. He's fitting right in to our crew with very little problems. Just two of the other cats didn't seem happy at first, but they are now tolerating him. He's a typical crazy ginge, but that's what I like about him. In these pictures, he is cuddling up to a sleeping Nia. Now why am I taking on even more work and stress when I really need less? Just look at that face - how can you not?
I've been feeling antsy lately. I'm not exactly sure why, but it could be one of many reasons. Or it could be several little things. I'm sure turning 40 and taking stock of where I am and where I wanted to be play a part. This seems to be a common thing among my friends of this age, but I wonder if I am more aware because of current circumstances. I've spent the last 10 plus years dealing with a chronic illness that is slowly breaking me down. I've also spent many years experimenting with drugs, and not the recreational kind. That has had as much of an effect on me as the illness.
I have been on so many medication regimens over the years that I've lost count. None have done what the doctors wanted and just made me more miserable. Right now I am down to two medications and I'm trying to work on getting off of those. A month ago I weaned off of two meds that may have been helping slightly, but the side effects weren't worth any benefit. A month on, I'm finally free of the horrible withdrawal symptoms I was suffering. Oh yeah and my doctor said there wouldn't be any. I love her to death, but sometimes she can be wrong. Also I have finally stopped eating like there was no tomorrow. I intellectually understand how medicine is supposed to make me feel better, but if they make me gain an enormous amount of weight, isn't that not good? Well I actually feel better now, but face the long road of trying to get this weight off. Unfortunately I've been through this before with meds and I'm determined not to go through this again.
My mind is finally clear for the first time in years. It is really hard to explain what has been going on. I am starting to feel like I am taking more of an active role in dealing with my illness and exploring more natural treatments. I'm sure it won't be easy and maybe I won't get better, but I'm willing to try even if nothing works. You see I feel like Meniere's has taken over my life for a reason. I may actually be open to finding out the reason instead of trying to pretend to be normal so the people around me don't have to face uncomfortable truths. I tiptoe around not wanting to upset people, but honestly this is what I deal with. I have been blessed though with some incredible friends and family who are there to support me and I can't thank them enough. The way I look at it now is I may not get better, but I'm going to do my best to feel better.
My relationship with my father has had many ups and downs throughout my life, but through it all he is still my dad. He's far from perfect and has never claimed to be, but I have learned a lot of life lessons from him that have proved invaluable.
1. You can have disagreements without having arguments
In all my life, my dad is the only person who I have ever been able to have an intelligent debate with. I really hate conflict. I mean real conflict that dissolves into name calling and resembles a verbal boxing match. They always seem to turn personal. Yeah yeah tell me all you want that you are just having an intelligent discussion, but I know the truth. My dad and I have discussed what would be considered "hot button" issues without throwing one verbal barb at each other, and we were on opposite sides. I think part of this is that my dad is one of the smartest people I know and he doesn't worry about being right all the time. He never changed my position once, but I could really understand his positions and why he believes what he does.
2. It Is Actions, Not Words That Matter
This has been a pretty easy lesson to learn because my dad is a man of few words. He has always put family first, even when I thought he didn't. He always worked more than one job to provide for his family. Even though my mom worked, she didn't have to. On holidays, he was always at work, either at the fire department or on the medical helicopter. That's just what he did. His job was saving lives and you can't schedule that 9 to 5. This may be where I got my insane need to help and serve others.
3. Bad Things Happen, Move On
Everyone has had bad things happen in their lives. My father is no exception. The difference is he doesn't let them define who he is. He just moves on and leaves the past in the past. He has taught me that you can be victimized, but you don't have to be a victim. And before you think it is easy for me to say something like that, I have had more than my share of terrible things happen to me. It takes effort to get past the pain, but if you dwell on the past you won't be able to enjoy the present.
4. No Matter What, We're Family
That's basically my dad in a nutshell. No matter what happens in life, we're family and we take care of each other. No matter what has gone on between us, we will stick together when times are tough. When I was at my lowest point and didn't know what to do, my dad stepped up and saved the day. He's always doing that even if you don't ask. And if you do ask, he won't turn you away. He will stand up for you no matter what. I am the same way with my kids and family. You have to go through me to get to my family. And God help you if you try. Actually you'll have to go through my dad to get to me. And you will definitely need God's help.
There are many more lessons I've learned from my dad, but that's all I've got right now. The top picture is probably my favorite of my dad and my son. I love the one below also. This sums him up to me. Once he became a grandfather, it was like he started his second life. He has always done everything for them and even though the girls are in high school and my son is an adult, he still loves to spend time with them. I love the pictures of my dad and my son because they have a special bond. He was the first grandchild and only grandson, so my dad has a different relationship to him than the others. Not better, but different. Boys are something else and my son is no exception. Watching him with my kids makes me look forward to possibly having some of my own in the future.
One important lesson I have tried to teach my son also came from my dad. It is the first part of my favorite quote of his. It is a man takes care of his family. My dad said this to me years ago when I was undergoing some hard times. He sat me down and said, "A man takes care of his family and _______ is not a man." It's not important who he was referring to, it is the first part of the sentence that counts. And that is my dad, not just a man but an amazing man.
Father's Day is coming up soon and I've been thinking a lot about my dad. Our family is going through a really rough time and we've been reliving the past. I am planning on writing about how awesome my dad is this weekend. There is so much stuff to cover and there is not enough time now.
One thing that is awesome about my dad is that he has been an amazing grandpa. He was practically a father to my son during the first few years of his life, and they continue that bond to this day. This picture is one of my favorites. It seemed no matter what my dad was doing, Tim had to be right there. In fact, Tim has been extremely close to both his grandfathers and that is one of the reasons we are having such a hard time now. Tim's paternal grandfather passed away yesterday. It wasn't unexpected, but that doesn't lessen the pain. He was a great guy and will be dearly missed. Even though I was no longer married to his son, I still considered him my father in law. He helped me and Tim when I was a single mother. He also was very kind to my daughters and would bring them gifts and hug them as if they were his. I will never forget his kindness, generosity, and especially his humor. Our world will never be the same without him in it.
This is Max. He is my dog. Technically he belongs to the family, but it was my choice to have him join our bunch. He was found abandoned by a creek and the person who rescued him couldn't keep him. Normally I don't like dogs like Max, but I think there was just something about his circumstances that touched me. I love taking care of the unloved and unwanted, so Max was perfect. Of course my husband said no, but I didn't listen. Max needed me.
It was hard at first for Max. Apparently he had been abused in some way. If someone would hold a brush around him, he would attack it. He had this horrible habit of peeing anywhere if someone raised their voice. He also had some obsessive habits such as licking the other dogs' faces and chewing on sheets and blankets. It took a lot of patience and love to help him recover. He still has some residual issues, but otherwise he is normal.
What I love about Max is he always seems to be tuned in to how I feel. When I am having a particularly bad time with my balance, he will be there to steady me. If I'm feeling down, he will lay down beside me so I can hold on to him. He is my rock. My son says he likes Max because he always looks like he's smiling. This week I've been relying on his smile more than normal.
This has been such a sad time for us. I helped a dear friend while her dog had her first litter a week early. We were planning on having one of the puppies. As of today there is one left and it is not good. They were born too early. I am sad that we lost our puppy, but I am more heartbroken for my friend who has worked so hard to keep the little ones alive. We will have our puppy someday. We have also had to deal with two deaths and one loved one who is in the hospital and having a very hard time. We have all also been pretty sick with some kind of virus. I have worried that I may end up in the hospital, but I have pushed through and think I may be getting better. Through all of this Max has been right by our side. His smile has been so comforting when I didn't think I could take anymore. We will get through this.
I've been working on my family history lately. I have this need to know where and who I come from. Family is very important to me. I am fortunate that I come from a close family. I grew up spending summers with my grandparents in the country. My brother and I practically grew up with my two uncles and aunt, who were 10 and 8 years older. I took for granted all the family dinners with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and assorted friends and family who would join us. Now family dinners are usually my parents, my husband, myself, and our children. Occasionally we do have more relatives join us, but my brother and his family live in Massachusetts so we don't get together often, but those times are very special. My brother is probably one of the funniest people I know along with my son and my grandfather. They are so similar in personality that it is scary sometimes, but I am comforted that my grandpa's sense of humor continues on. I can't imagine what the world would be like without it.
I have never met the woman in the picture above holding the baby, but she has influenced how I view life and family more than any other person. She is my grandmother Betty Emrich and she's holding my mom. She died when my mom was 15 when the car she was driving was struck by a train while she was crossing the tracks. The signal had been activated on the wrong track and the tracks ran through the town obscuring the view of the oncoming train. It was a tragic accident. She left behind my grandpa, my mom, and my aunt who was 11 at the time. She was such a mystery to me growing up. I had heard snippets here and there, but I never felt I knew enough. My Aunt Eleanor told me that I looked like her. I figured she had great sense of humor because she married my grandpa. I also knew that she was the love of my grandpa's life even though he remarried. I guess that's all I need to know.
Her life and death has shaped who I am as a parent. I've loved my kids as though I could be gone any day. Life gets in the way sometimes and we get busy, but we can't lose sight of the things that are important. The day she died, my grandmother and my mom were playfully teasing my aunt. When the girls left for school, my aunt was so mad, she wouldn't say goodbye. That was the last time my mom and aunt saw her and there was no hug and kiss and "I love you." It breaks my heart to know that my aunt has had to live all these years with that regret.
That is Betty's life lesson for me. Live life like it is your last day. Love like it is your last day. No regrets.
I had this great plan for the Memorial Day weekend. I figured I would do all of my running around and obligatory family stuff on Saturday and Sunday. That would leave me Monday to rest and recover before heading back to work. Since my Meniere's attacks are getting sneakier and more frequent, I decided I would start listening to the professionals and rest more. Well on Monday we got an invitation for another family get together and even though I was wiped out, I agreed to go. Usually when I'm feeling bad I just have the rest of the family go but I thought I would go for a while. You see, my not going to family things and staying out of the fray has been misconstrued by others and I needed to be able to say in the future that I'm not always antisocial. Yeah that's me. Instead of explaining what I go through and hope others will understand, I put myself in a situation where I am pretty much certain I will spin out or something along those lines.
Yes I did have a vertigo attack. It was mild, but I'm starting to get a head cold and that messes with the fluid in my ears so it was a little scary. The most frightening thing is the fact that I had no warning at all. I have always had a sort of feeling that something wasn't right before I would have an attack. Not this time. Was it the virus? The exhaustion? The med changes I just went through? Or maybe this illness is taking on a new face for me. I couldn't even make it to the car unassisted. I'm having some trouble processing what this will mean for me. I work full time and drive myself. I also have three kids and dogs and cats to take care of and I have to do it all.
Going back to work was not a wise decision because there was so much to do and I felt horrible with this cold and I'm still exhausted and unbalanced. My manager agreed to let me have tomorrow to rest. I have several documentaries in my Netflix cue and an appointment with the couch for the whole day. No work emails, internet, phone or any other distractions. Maybe this will be just what I need.
I'm a wife and mom of three living in Ohio. I was diagnosed at the age of thirty with Meniere's Disease. My life is a daily struggle managing a chronic illness with raising teenagers, caring for a growing brood of dogs and cats, a full time job and keeping a home. It's all about balance, which can be hard to achieve when you're spinning wildly.