Unfortunately, life is not quite as fair as we would all like it to be. Today I had my appointment. Today I wasn't told my problem could be healed. Today I feel a great disappointment in life.
Because of my situation and the intensity of my damages occurring during my accident, I have already been given all there is to give in making my arm more functional. The doctors in Czech Republic did everything right. And the fact I have as much use of my hand as I do is somewhat of a miracle. I look at these things realistically. Of course I am grateful for what I have, of course I am happy there were no mistakes made which left me handicapped. But, the fact remains that I am handicapped despite all the good that was achieved. And it stinks.
Instead of reoperating and likely creating additional problems, we're looking at pain management. Pain management to last a lifetime, which involves drugs that play with your body. The drug of choice is one developed originally for epiliepsy, but has been found to also help people manage nerve pain. It also boasts side effects of dizziness, concentration difficulties, sleepiness, weight gain, and stomach discomfort. The dizziness, concentration difficulties, and sleepiness are evident in the majority of users. So, it's a decision based on dealing with side effects versus pain.
How does one go from being a mom and wife able to do anything and having just a so-called normal life to being someone handicapped, living with pain, and unable to even catch a ball, cut toenails or tie shoes? How does life so flippantly change for the worse? In the blink of an eye, while on vacation, I have become another person. I have been granted the gift of life, but in exchange I have to compensate with a useless hand. It doesn't seem fair.
But what is fair? Is autism fair? Is living thousands of miles from family fair? Is being obese fair? No, life isn't fair. It's about taking what you've been dealt and doing the best you can and living as a good person through it all. It's about being grateful for having a chance to live your life, and making the most with the days you've been given. It's trying to remain patient when problems arise, and being proud when you get through without raising your voice. It's about wrapping those you love in tight hugs and showing them you love them, giving them respect regardless of whether you believe in their choices. And it's about hearing that though you may never have use of your hand again, you will still work hard to make the most use of it possible, and accept that though it may not be able to hold a glass or clasp a bra, it's still attached to your body and still moves. It's about dealing with the pain life throws our way.
So, though I haven't been given the hope I longed to hear, I have to look at this from a positive side. I can't dwell on the negative and let it overtake my life. I am what I am and I must move forward and be a success with what I have been given in life. I must go on, continue being a mom and a wife and be the best I can at those things which mean the most to me. Life isn't fair. But when a foul ball gets hit your way, you've still got to step up to the plate and do your best to catch it, hearing the cheers behind you that give you the courage to do what you gotta do.
Throughout junior high I had a couple boys I "dated". Dated being a very loose term, as we held hands in the hallway at school and he walked me to my classes. This was the point I had my first experience with a long-term relationship. His name was Justin and I had known him when he lived in Laramie, but he had moved to Florida. It was then that we began writing and discovering what it meant to be 'in love' through our letters. I can still remember awaiting his next card in the mailbox as I would scurry to my bedroom and sit there opening it up as if it were a treasure. But, kids will be kids, and eventually no more cards came. And that was that.
Towards the end of junior high and my transition year into highschool, I dated Mark. We spent hours upon hours through the summer at the baseball park. During my time with him, I learned about kissing and touching and sexual tension. And I learned about what boys can do to a girl's self-esteem when all they really wanted all along was one thing: sex.
In high school I was one of the kids from a great mix of friends, but never fit into any one group. I never got close to anyone, really, though I would consider my DECA and Newspaper clubs as having the most influence over me during this time. I never really went to parties or movies or out with the crowd. But even so, I came to be involved with a guy from the tech school, Tracey. He was older and my parents disapproved of him. The reason was because he was a techer, and far too old (19) for their little (16) girl. I snuck around to see Tracey, and spent hours helping him fix up his cool car. We had a good time together, and were even allowed to go roller-skating with a group on ocassion. My parents didn't know about all the other time I spent with him. Our relationship fizzled as spring turned to summer and he went back home to Montana after his semester.
When I was in my last year of high school, I was involved in another long-distance relationship with Pablo. He didn't live so very far, and we managed to see each other fairly regularly when I took the bus to meet my girlfriend, who was his cousin. When I got my own car, I was even allowed to go there to visit. I don't think my parents understood how romantically involved we were. They knew I was planning to marry him and be with him forever, but it was just puppy love in their eyes. We kept in touch via phone and mail, hanging onto those few in-life meetings we had in between. Pablo could barely speak English, but at that time my Spanish was quite fluent and we communicated easily. We joked that ours was the language of love. Until I suddenly realized the language of love couldn't exist without us speaking a common language, and eventually he gave up and moved back to Mexico.
In my first year of college I still lived in Laramie, but moved into an apartment with 3 other girls. I met Rob as he lay in the middle of the main street through town in the middle of the night. My girlfriends and I were headed home after a night at the bar and I had been drinking. I called out to the driver to "Stop. Is that guy laying there dead?" And we stopped and helped him up and brought him home (funny, he was also a techer), but I never went home that night. We stayed and partied some more with Rob and his friends (yes, he was also drunk), and I even stayed with him the next day when everyone finally went their own ways. We managed to spend a lot of time together in the coming weeks and I couldn't help but fall for him even though I knew he would be leaving Laramie after his exams from tech school. He went home to Connecticut, but him and I stayed in touch for the better part of 4 years. When I moved to New York as a nanny (yes, knowing he would be close to me again), we even managed to get together, and our phone calls lasted hundreds of hours each month. We had a really free and easy relationship. Nothing permanent, nothing promised, but quite intense all the same. Rob joined the Coast Guard and after I got pregnant with Kaeden, Rob found the girl he would marry, and we didn't keep in touch after that.
Rick was my next involvement. He was someone I knew from high school as he fawned after me even back then. When I had moved back to Laramie after having gone to New York and then California, Rick came into where I worked and asked me out. He was recently divorced with two kids, and though I wasn't interested in him as more than a friend, I still agreed to go out. I think my self-esteem must have been at an all-time low, because he used his charm and managed to become a permanent fixture in my life. So permanent, that when I moved out of my prarents home, he helped me move, but never left. This was the beginning of realizing I was trapped in some kind of hell. He was mean and demanding and abusive and managed to estarnge me from my family and friends. I have no idea why I didn't leave him, other than I was scared and didn't have enough courage to go. And that's when I discovered I was pregnant. Our relationship was very rocky and at one time in my pregnancy he tried to kill my baby by jumping on my stomach. I went to the hospital and was checked in to keep track of contractions as well as administer fluids. Though I didn't allow him back into our home after that, we still saw each other. When Kaeden was born, he wasn't present, but came into and out of our lives for a short period after his birth. When Kaeden was an infant he threw a box of canned vegetables on the bed, hitting Kaeden, and from that moment on it was the end of my life with Rick. I moved away from Laramie to protect myself and my baby, and though he stalked us and there were a few incidents of terror, he was never again a part of our lives.
And then, fast forward 3 years. The computer age. ICQ. And the meeting of my next and final involvement, Erwin. I met Eagle on the first night after installing a modem on my new second-hand computer. He was from Holland. I was doing a school unit on Holland. He was called Eagle. I had recently hit an eagle with my truck and damaged the front window, as well as received a scar on my wrist. It was fate. We chatted off and on for a couple months, until suddenly something switched and he became my life. Once our relationship started to evolve, there was no stopping us. Another long-distance relationship. Yet, this one had me more thn head-over-heels. There was something extra, something special which drove me into a state of complete happiness. As we chatted, and eventually shared phone calls (lots of them) and spent fortunes in postage, my dutch prince was coming for a visit. And from that first visit, we've never since been apart (other than via the ocean which separated us). When Kaeden and I moved to Holland in 200o to join our family together, it was all I had dreamed of. And when Jari came along a year later, our little family was complete. We married knowing that it was the end to all future relationships, and I was completely content with this scenario.
There have been ups and downs throughout my life with Erwin, but the ups far outweigh the downs. As far as men are concerned, he is someone I can always count on, he is supportive in my desires and needs, and he gives me a sense of security. I still get those butterfly tingles when I see him walking towards me and our life together has become comfortable and gratifying. Sometimes I need to stand back, when the going gets tough, and remember my past, the people I have been involved with, and the present that is mine. Because no matter how difficult things seem to be, we still have each other, and we vowed to love one another no matter what problems come to stand in our way. And love him, I do. Ours is no longer a long-distance relationship easy to back out of. We stand face to face every day of our lives, and need to look deeper into each other's eyes, find the click and make it flow. I'm glad there is no easy way out. I want to stand strong with my husband by my side, knowing we've worked hard individually to make this complete together. But that's what we need to do. We need to work harder.
My last and final relationship. He's exactly what I wanted, he's exactly what I got. And he's someone I see in my future, sharing travel and grandkids and cups of coffee on a sunny terrace. He is, after all these years, still my everything.
I feel ready to snap. The following word uttered shall be the one that crushes those sweet red cherries into a pulverized dripping mess in my hands. Cherry juice, pulp added...thick and red as blood.
My heart is beating, but feels as if it's boiling, bubbling up with every pump, leaving a fullness in my throat. If I swallow, it'll send the whole mess spilling over. I'm really not sure how much more I can take. This is not what I signed up for when I chose to be a mother and a wife. This is not what I wanted when I envisioned our little family of four. This is not the future my past presented to me, and the future I'm now envisioning won't be including me. The bridge is too close. The bile too burning.
Maybe it comes from worrying about what's to come. I have appointments coming up to decide the future of my hand. All I want is for the tests to show it can be healed. I actually hope the nerve has attached to scar tissue or has stopped growing together due to scar tissue. I want the neurologist to announce: This is how it is and surgery will take care of it.
I'm tired of the pain and the feeling of balloons attached to my body. I don't like looking at the discolored appendages stuck on what used to be my fingers. I hate trying to grasp something and it falling through my fingers. Or actually getting a grasp on something, and pain shooting through as if I'm on fire. Or having to wear gloves with my fingers in one hole to try to keep them somewhat warm so as not to have the pain bring me to tears.
It's strange, how this disbaility I call my hand now looks somewhat normal, but feels worse by the day. I don't want my future to involve a hand that can't function, or pain that can't be relieved. I just want things to be back to normal. I want it to feel how I try to portray it to the rest of the world. As if everything is really okay.
I hope that becomes my reality very soon.
- My parents, wherever they are, feel like home. Having them around me makes me feel complete. On this visit, I didn't feel like a little girl, but an adult sharing my life with them. Maybe that comes from not going 'home' to my childhood home, but it felt good to be with them as the woman I am. However, being closed up in their arms was like a little piece of heaven and I am so thankful to have them in my life.
- American teenagers are a different breed. We went to eat at Taco Bell one night and the kids hanging out spilled into the parking lot and the restaurant, their clothing in shambles, and their rudeness extreme. There needs to be someplace these kids can go, other than a rundown aprking lot in some hooker town.
- I discovered a side of my husband that I don't like. He can be very selfish and arrogant, and I was embarrassed when each of my family members asked me if he was okay. His attitude put a definite damper on my happiness being encircled by family. I have learned that Erwin in a crowd of Americans (maybe just after jetlag, but I'm not sure about that) is not the place to be with him if I want to smile and laugh. I need to learn not to let his attitude affect me so much, but allow myself the comfort I feel being surrounded by family. He needs to learn that I accept our life in Europe and he could be more accepting of my needs when in America.
- I discovered that when Erwin and I are alone together, we make a very happy, content couple. We talked and laughed and touched and smiled. It was something we really needed to regain some passion in our marriage, and I think that our trip accomplished this. Being alone forces us to acknowledge the things we love about each other. I have much to love in my husband. And I am grateful for him in my life.
- I realize how much European culture has become a part of me. I missed the ease of life I have here, as well as the after dinner coffee.
- I like warmth. The sunny, blue skies did wonders for my spirit. The deep blue made me sing with happiness.
- I love the adrenaline rush of the city, but it gets on my nerves very quickly. The crowds of people and the noise start making me crazy after a very short time. All I need to feel replensihed is a day out in nature. Where we were in nature didn't matter, but it gave me a sense of peace and a disbelief in just how big the world is. Mountains, desert, rocks, sand, trees, cactus, animals...all of that is the true me.
- No matter how long I have been apart from family, when we gather together it feels like the comfort of home. Having my family members close, being able to share jokes at the spur of a moment without thinking about how to say it, having history with these people, and being surrounded by love is something I truly treasure.
- I am frugal. I was astonished by the high prices of food and goods in the American stores. I couldn't bring myself to buy some things because the cost was too high. I also realized how little I need in the way of American products. I used to have bags full of foods and supplies when I returned home from Europe, but this time it was mostly just a few treats and not really things I 'needed'. It felt good to know my life in Europe has become routine and normal and complete without American supplies. I feel as if for the first time I am completely integrated, and can enjoy those little treats from 'home' when I am there, without needing them to exist here.
- Weddings in Vegas are big business. My primary goal on this trip was to see my friend get married. I did. I also witnessed 7 other marriages in an hour. A quick (yes very quick...they get you in and out) Vegas wedding can be anything. Tammy and Richard married in a pink Cadillac with Elvis singing to them, dressed in 50's garb. It was cute. But I missed a bit of the romance and reality of what a wedding is. I guess I enjoyed the variety, but feel the specialness of the event was stripped away. It wasn't what I would have wanted for myself, but it got them married and they were happy, so who am I to judge?
- Nascar doesn't rock my boat. It was fun to see something new and I enjoyed the excitement of all the die-hard fans, but I wouldn't want to do it often. I love car races. But I like other races much more than Nascar!
- I was disappointed in the patriotism of Americans during the presentation of the flag and the American Anthem during the hockey game. There were rude comments being shouted and few people placed their hand over their heart. I was touched by this event. Tears streamed down my face as I felt the deep love for my country and what it all means: land of the free, home of the brave...In America with the flag shining. I am glad this is something I value.
- My kids are just fine when I am away, but they miss their mama. My in-laws took good care of Jari and our home, and my friends took good care of Kaeden in my absence. However, Jari wouldn't leave my side upon my return, and he was happy I was home. It feels good to be needed. Oma said that's what she realized being in my home. That she was needed, and it felt good. That's what being a mother and wife and homemaker is all about, and that is my job. I am glad I do my job well.
- I had a mini-breakdown when it was time to leave America. I was cranky and upset and didn't know why, but as I drank my morning coffee in a little coffe shop, tears spilled down my cheeks and I started to sob. I truly miss my homeland, and it hurts to say goodbye. Somehow, I am more free to be myself when I am in America. As much as Europe has become my home, nothing can ever replace the American girl that makes up who I am. I was born an American, and I am proud to be an American.
There is so much more I learned on this trip. However, I can't put it all into words. These are just a few of the points I recognized. I am glad to be back in my home, where I will cook a real meal tonight in my own kitchen and fold my laundry fresh from my dryer. It was nice to wake up to a sunny morning and go out and feed my animals. I am home. And home is where you hang your hat. Home is what you make of it. I am caught between two homes, but I fit well into both. I realize that I adjust well. I am thankful I am who I am. I am thankful I have two places I can hang my hat and feel that comfortable feeling of home.
And I am glad I have this