Saturday, April 21, 2012

First Week to Work

Well... it's done - my first work week - and it took it's toll... but overall, I think it was okay.

I'm simply surprised at how much different every movement is... the way I get in the car, out of the car, shift in my seat, leaning forward, bending over... every motion carries with it a different awareness of my body. My energy just runs out - like hits zero with the SPLAT of a gravitational pull that forces a water balloon to the ground. Just... SPLAT! I'm done... unfortunately, that's usually around 3:00pm!!

My clients were very understanding. I explained to them briefly what my condition/procedure was and explained that I don't have any control over the sounds my body makes... at times they may hear my tummy gurgling or passing gas through the bag... we'll just chuckle and keep talking. It happened twice but it wasn't too disruptive.

Emotions were washing over me on the kids off to their Dad's and kinda just let down. Tears visited me again after almost 5 days of no crying - just the awareness of my new reality. It's no fun....and I'm trying to focus on the positive, what IS working, what IS good.. so here it is:

When I feel limited... I realize that it's just compared to what I used to do. I can't run and exercise yet, but I can move, walk, drive, talk, laugh, etc.

I realize that I'm struggling with my own body... I struggle with the fact that it FUNCTIONS NORMALLY but that other people are aware of that! I'm learning to be grateful for a glorious body that does what it was made to do.'s going to make sounds involuntarily... but I'm learning to view that as evidence that my body is working FOR me. It works hard for me, all day, every day and doesn't really complain all that much! I am learning to accept the GIFT that this body is to me... it lets me move about, laugh, love and be engaged with the world around me.

I'm learning to appreciate the food my body needs and how it uses that food to fuel the above mentioned gift of functioning. I see how it utilizes what food I provide it and seeing that as evidence of good health and vitality.

On an interpersonal level, when I feel sad, I try to focus on what my emotions are trying to teach me. What am I learning about my fears, my insecurities, my struggles with my WANTS versus REALITY? Am I learning to submit with grace and dignity, am I coming to terms with acceptance? Am I trusting that this is really okay? When people let me down, disappointment creeps in according to what I THOUGHT might happen, when I'd hoped for more from others... am I coming to terms with those feelings? Some days, I feel better on these factors than others... but overall, this is what I'm working toward: a greater degree of love of self and acceptance of my own struggles, trials and limitations. I try to extend that same grace and mercy to those around me as well and realize that ultimately... this is my lonely lesson...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Home to Jim's...Home to Cali (March 31st-April 8th)

Saturday, March 31st, 2012
I finally slept!!! It was glorious. I still can't lay on either side very well...but it's improving. The gravitational pressure still hurts a bit too much to be totally comfortable, but it's better than just the shifting of my hips I was able to do in the hospital. Jim tells me (and so did Mom) that one night in the hospital I was actually on my side... again, small improvements....

I stink....I don't mean I have a bad attitude or I'm Negative Nelly... I mean... I STINK! Baby Wipe Baths are barely sufficient at cleaning. I long for a shower. My hair was washed and dried a day before I went into ER, thank goodness... At least I can be very grateful for very thick hair that I don't have to wash ever two days. Still...even MY thick hair should not go 5 days without being washed and it's in DIRE need.

Mom and I book appointments at an Aveda Salon across the street from Jim's place. Jim takes off to spend the day with his son for Conference and his daughter's 'graduation clock out' for her cosmotology school. We head to WalMart for some 'quick errands'.

I overestimate my energy level...but I'm DYING to get out and do something normal. I last about 10 minutes in WallyWorld, walking super slow and holding my stomach before I have to sit down. My mom takes off with the cart to finish up and I realize how slow I am. How fast the world seems to move around me.

I see people and think, "Your life is normal. You walk normally. You shit normally, like... alone in a bathroom! You don't have to have a conversation with someone while your bowels are emptying into a bag and act like nothing is going on. You might get to play with your kids today. You have NO IDEA that I've been sliced open, stitched up, and had appliances attached to my body. To you, today is just a Saturday. To me, I wonder how I will take a shower, bet you didn't wonder how you were going to take a shower...." I feel the tears coming...but I distract myself with texting and I remind myself that I'm alive, I'm getting stronger, I have people who love me.... I'm going to be okay. I am.

Get home. Mom unpacks the items. I lay down for a nap. I have a GINORMOUS coughing fit and it rocks my body. I hold my stomach, my incisions and Siggy...I can barely breathe. Drink water....It finally subsides when I cough up a bit of junk...Whew... THAT hurt!!

SCARE FOR THE DAY: I wake up at 12:45, we have our appt at 1:00. I go to the bathroom and POOP COMES OUT MY BUTT!! I'm trying, trying, TRYING not to freak out but I can NOT for the life of me figure out how I can poop out of my butt!! I thought they just made that impossible with the bag of shit attached to my side! SERIOUSLY!?!?!

I come out of the bathroom and say, "Well... we might have cause to be alarmed, Mom. (She stops dead in her tracks and looks at me with abject fear in her eyes - I can't make it better.). I just shit out my butt. Time to call the doctor."

While I'm on the phone with the doctor, she's trying to get a hold of the Ostomy Lady, Bridgette. I get through to Dr. Simon's on call buddy....who informs me THIS IS PERFECTLY NORMAL FOR UP TO TWO WEEKS!!!! WTH??? And NOT ONE PERSON THOUGHT TO TELL ME THIS!? Holy Cow... I am altogether relieved and seriously pissed off. Everyone apologizes and informs me this is the left over stool from the rectum. Great. Fantastic. Beautiful. JUST LET ME FREAKIN' KNOW!!! SHEEESH.

Okay...crisis averted. Let's go get our hair done......

Bobbie (a Master Sytlist who used to have her own salon about 2 miles from my mom's house in San Diego) is my gal and does a FANTABULOUS job fixing the hack job my previous stylist did on my hair. I love it!! Amazing, AMAZING what washing and styling my hair does for me emotionally. I begin to feel a bit better....hope...

I go home and attempt my first shower post-surgery. Here we go....

It's about an hour event. I take off my clothes and I still can't recognize my own body. I've got residue adhesive from the five telemetry leads they had stuck to me, bruising from the blood draws on my arms, a rash all over my entire torso from the antiseptic for surgery, two pinched scars (one on my belly button, one to the right), the bag, and I'm still kinda bloated - I try not to hate my body, try to be gentle to it and encourage healing, try to believe that I won't look like this forever...I try not to cry - yet.....

I attempt at using one of the Shower Shields we got at Wally World...but I'd put Cortisone 10 on my torso to deal with the body rash and the second I get in the shower, the adhesive for the patch comes loose and I'm trying to wash my body parts and hold this patch over my stoma. I can technically get the stoma all wet and problem there, but the adhesive on the disc surrounding my stoma will weaken and I don't want that. Forget shaving my legs. I hurry to get out...and my stoma decides to start pooping...small amounts, easy enough to clean up....but still....

The tears come and don't stop for about 10 minutes....

I'm exhausted. I'm a bit demoralized. Who knew a trip to WallyWorld and a shower would be too much to do...It's going to be a long recovery.

I'm still awake when Jim comes home and I recount the day for him. I'm able to laugh about it at this point...especially the pooping out of my butt part, and it's all part of my emotional swings back and forth. It feels amazingly comforting to have him home, and have my mom here. We have a normal evening of talking's solace to my soul.

I can feel the tears building again... Jim and I have some alone time as my mom has gone to bed. He can tell I'm I begin to cry he attempts to break it down for me so I can feel better. But I'm just so overwhelmed by it all. I KNOW I'm going to be okay, but my fears run riot on me at times and the little girl part of me fears that I won't be. I KNOW I'm healthy, but I feel so unbelievably broken and deformed. I KNOW I have people who love me and are willing to help me, but I feel so terribly alone at times... it's emotional whiplash... I say to Jim, "I know this is what I have to deal with... and I really, REALLY just do NOT want to. And... I have no choice."

He gets his scriptures on his phone and proceeds to read to me Joseph Smith's lament to the Lord while he's being held in Liberty Jail. The tears just flow, I'm almost sobbing. It's a beautiful passage of scripture, of a heart hurting and longing for comfort, longing for aid...and wondering when it will all be okay. And the Lord's response is also profoundly comforting to me...endure it well and in due time all things will be restored to you, you will know the things you need to know, and your friends will welcome you, love you and support you. "This experience, Shannan.... Is YOUR Liberty Jail." He then proceeds to encourage me to have the faith I need, to take care of myself, to be gentle with myself... but to know I'm making progress and I'm going to be okay. I can choose the love or I can choose the fear...We talk a bit more... I thank him for reading that to me, for loving me and knowing me so well to know that THAT passage would help.

I drift off to sleep, trying to get comfortable half on my side.... my bag farts at me....I sigh... and sleep.

Sunday, April 1st, 2012
Well, it's no April Fool's Joke... I still have the bag.

My stomach is feeling stronger today, getting out of bed is easier. I slept very well... I didn't wake up at all until 6:30 to go to the bathroom.

Today... nothing planned. Just resting and healing and being with those I love.

I have been able to talk with my kids some. They have no idea how serious this is...and that's okay. I just wish they'd call more. So I reach out to them. Madison is sick, too...she went to Urgent Care and has strep throat. Braden calls frequently and chats with me. His voice sounds so little on the phone. He makes me smile. I realize I can't see Madison until she's not contagious I won't likely see her tomorrow when I get home.

The plan is to rest today, drive home with Mom tomorrow. Good plan.

We walked yesterday around the apartment complex where Jim lives. Today, Jim and I walk off the complex grounds and across the street to get a movie at Walgreen's. Jim notes that I look stronger and that I'm walking normally - not super slow, not hunched over... PROGRESS!! :)

I nap when we get home, Mom cooks dinner. We talk and enjoy ourselves. I actually laugh a good portion of the day...

I have another coughing fit... but it's getting better... progress!!

I'm trepidacious about leaving Jim and engaging in my life at home in California. I know it's inevitable, but I wish I could delay it a bit. Oh well... I take courage in knowing I've got my mom there with me one more day. I take my Dad up on his offer to come down from NoCal...stay with me from Wednesday evening through Saturday morning. I don't really want to be totally alone.

I'm still scared. I wonder how I'm going to do all will I exercise, how will I deal with kids, how will I work with clients?? I calm my fears by realizing how much progress I've made in not even one week...I take hope and strength in the healing capacity of my body and mind. I can do this. I can!

Monday, April 2nd, 2012
Today, we just pack in the morning after Jim leaves for work and we're on the road. The only plan for today...get to California.

I sleep for about 1.5 hours of the drive. Mom and I's a nice drive home. I can feel the pressure building in me...but I remind myself that I really do not HAVE to do's okay to just rest and heal.

It does feel strangely good to be home. I love being at Jim's and I'm very comfortable there with him...but after only having my own place since February 1st... I'm surprised at the comfort I do find when I walk in and smell my own home, see my own things...It's going to be okay.

Mom takes my bags upstairs. I have a chiropractor appointment with Brother DeLaMare...he does wonders on my back and neck. I feel better already!! Progess!!

My loving step-dad has driven up from San Diego to 'extract' my mom... lol... they leave by 4. It's quiet. I'm alone. I feel okay...not thrilled about being alone, but not terrified of it either. It's alright. Braden comes over for a couple of hours. Doug wants to know if I can drive yet... I say no. Braden and I do some work for a school project together on my computer. It's SO GOOD to see him!!

He is curious and asks about my bag... he asks to see it. I'm not sure he won't be all grossed out about it... so I kinda warn him. He says it's okay.. so I show him. He says, "That's gross." I laugh out loud... "Yup, buddy, it's crap. It's gross!" We laugh. He leans too far over me looking at the computer screen...squiggles his nose up in a bunch and says, "Mom, you stink like a baby's diaper!" Well... IMAGINE THAT! Again, I literally laugh out loud... I go change the bag... ask him if that's better...he smiles and nods his head... we giggle. Doug picks Braden up around 8:45, I think. I hug him, he hugs me back...such a sweet boy.

I crawl into bed after talking with Jim...the tears come again, but only briefly and I don't really remember falling asleep. I sleep soundly until about 6:30...then I drift in and out until I get up at 7:30.

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012
Suzanne, my dear friend, comes over around 12:30 or 1... we talk for a long time. I tell her the whole ordeal. She is an ER nurse and a very close friend. I've asked her if she would be willing to help me remove the bag and disc patch for the first time I have to do it alone. I'm afraid I will pass out since it was a close call at the hospital. She lovingly agrees. (There really are just not THAT many people you can do this with... I'll tell you that!)

She helps me, I don't even come close to passing out...and I being to think that maybe I will truly be okay. Maybe I will get to the point, like Ostomy Lady Bridgette said, where I will be able to do this so fast I won't even think about it. Maybe....

Sister Thomas and Sister Larson bring dinner in Tuesday night... and chat with me for a's very nice to have someone to talk with about it. The dinner was yummy... and I really appreciated the time on the visit.

Tomorrow... Dad arrives... I plan on another visit to the chiropractor... Suzanne is going to come over in the morning and we'll walk her dogs (I won't hold the leash!)....I'm looking forward to it.

I talk to Jim on and off during the day, I miss him terribly. My mom checks in with me several times... she said she had her own meltdown (she JUST did this with my step-dad and his 5-day hospital stay about three weeks prior... poor Mama!!). She's doing better, resting and trying to catch up on her school work (Interior Design) and keeping tabs on me.

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012
Suzanne and I walk a mile... ONE MILE! Her dogs are adorable...German Shepherd puppies. It feels glorious to be outside, walking, moving. I look normal, actually... I begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I actually put on my workout clothes and feel....well, not STRONG really... .but strongER.... it's a good thing.

I got to the chiropractor and my adjustment feels great. Head home, unpack all the rest of my clothes I didn't do the other day. Lissa Deuschane comes over with dinner and we talk for a's so nice to have visitors and to know that people care. I joke with her about the most unnerving part being the fact that I have to converse with someone while my bowels are moving... We laugh as we remember our kids, pooping in their diapers, faces turning red, slight body tremors... then ... they just keep playing. I say, "Yeah... maybe I should just do that. Hold up my hand (wait signal) to stop the conversation... Have a real look of consternation on my face... pause... 'Okay, I'm good. Continue with what you were saying!'" It feels good to laugh about it. Just as she's leaving, my dad arrives....

Dad gets settled, we's a nice evening. I talk with Maddie and Braden today, Braden comes over again, he's super mad at his dad and ends up spending the night with me. He snuggles up next to me in bed...He wants me to rub his back but I can't really do it the way he's used to...he tolerates my adaptations. He drifts off to sleep...

I text Jim a bit, not too much, and I really still miss him... but life being what it's all good.
I gently cry...hoping for the best... Hoping that my three months of living like this will being to feel less jarring, and my reversal surgery will go as planned... I drift off to sleep.

Thursday, April 5th, 2012
Kids have half day today, Maddie stays home. Dad takes me to my Hyundai dealership for my 30k service. We do some more shopping for my supplies, some food...wait the two hours for the car.

My boss calls and inquires how I'm doing. As I begin to really discuss things with him, I can feel his concern re: my ability to work with my clients. When I tell him I've discovered that Beano really does work wonders and I don't have random belly farts anymore, when I tell him that the bag is completely concealed under my clothing and no one can see or smell it....he sounds less than convinced. He doesn't want me seeing clients until he can see me in person. We schedule a meeting for Tuesday, April 10th - our regular supervision hour. I have to reschedule clients around, he wants to be at the office when I see clients and that means only Thursday and Friday of next week - not a full client load.

I've already missed out on two weeks of's going to kill me financially. After the $400 service on my car, they also show me how low the tread is on my tires. I need new ones. I begin to feel so overwhelmed by it all... I'm fearful of how I will survive financially, how will I keep earning hours toward licensing, etc. My mom and step-dad immediately offer to buy my tires. Their generosity makes me weep. My dad offers other financial assistance as well.... I am so amazingly blessed... and I feel ridiculous at being 45 and in my situation which requires them to help me so thoroughly. However, I know that I would do the same for my children if necessary and I graciously accept their help.

Dad goes out for dinner alone tonight... I'm too tired and I've had meals brought in... I don't need to go out. Braden wants to come spend the night...but I'm too tired to go get him...he stays with Madison at their Dad's.

Dad comes home, I think I'm watching Gray's Anatomy... I start writing these blog entries and it helps me work through it all... Dad goes off to sleep...

Jim and I chat for a bit...He's busy with his daughter moving in for a while at his feels so good to connect to him, as usual! He's happy for me that I was able to walk a mile yesterday morning... and that we got my car serviced today, and that my dad is there for me... His encouragement, his love, attentiveness and support just keeps me afloat each and every day. What a joy he is to me, he adds so much to my life... the hard things are made easier, the good things are enriched so lovingly... It's really a rich life...

Friday, April 6th, 2012
I slept well last night... I figured out how to brace my tummy with a small rectangular pillow, eases the pressure on the stoma and I can actually lay fully on my side. I hardly woke up at all until light begins to flood in through my window shades. Another day...Yup...the bag is still there. I will attempt another shower today...

The Shower Shield works GREAT today and I realize the Cortisone cream was the culprit. I am able to wash my own hair, shave my legs and wash properly. AHHHHHHH!!! No tears after this shower.

As I'm drying my hair... a long process :)... Madison calls and tells me that they need to be picked up from the barn. I won't be able to fully dry my hair...oh well...I think I'll just straighten it later then.

As I get into the car, I look into the mirror... and WOW... my hair looks okay!! This tells me what a GREAT job Bobbie did on my hair, I'm SO excited... I look at myself... and I think.... "Wow... I look normal!" I think, for the first day since this ordeal began... I feel a bit ... like... ME.

Saturday, April 7th, 2012
Dad and I go through the Antenna toppers in the garage...getting a brief index of them so he can help me sell them. Then, we go to the bank and he deposits some money for me, to help me. I am so incredibly grateful for his help - to compensate for my income loss - I am moved to tears.

Dad tears up a bit.. hugs me, and encourages me. Tells me it's going to be okay...

He takes off for LA, then to NoCal... I head to San Diego to spend the rest of my weekend for Easter with my mom and step-dad.

Robert takes me down to Firestone and buys my new tires. Again, I am moved to tears at the generosity of my parents. Their unconditional support and awareness, and willingness to help me is amazing to me. When my fears get going in my head... this knowledge keeps me calm and I can remind myself that I am going to be okay... I really am.

I spend about 2 hours at the pool at my mom's. I'm so warm, but I can't go swimming...I dribble water over me to cool me off. I'm concerned about the bag being visible under my suit... basically it's just heating up... I'm sweating from the plastic of the bag, too. I'm cookin' my crap!! LOL... it's weird.

I go home, change my clothes...take a nap. I sleep so hard for a couple of hours that when my mom wakes me up about 5:30, she has to really call my name a few times. I was dreaming that I was running, training for my half marathon (the second one that I've had to pull out of). I don't have the bag in my dreams. I wake up... and for a brief moment... I forget that I have it. Until I move.... and I'm reminded of my circumstance. I am agitated... I don't cry, but I sigh heavily... I keep trying to remind myself "This is temporary (but what if it ISN'T?)" "I will get used to this (but what if I CAN'T?)" "I am loveable (but what if I'm NOT?)"


I go downstairs... Robert says... "Let's go!" "Where?" I ask... "To get your car, baby!" Oh yeah... wow... I forgot THAT, too!! That nap really zapped me!!

More texting with Jim today, no phone call... he's busy with his children. When we have our kids... we realize that they are first line and get our time first. I miss him so much. I'm really looking forward to seeing him on Tuesday. I will drive up there on Tuesday after my meeting with my boss because I have a follow-up appointment with my surgeon on Wednesday.

Being with Jim... is like a 'reset' button for my operating system. His touch, his humor, his love... just makes everything else slide away and I'm just in the moment with him...surrounded by all that feels so loving. It's a recharge, rebalance.... and I long for the time I get with him.

I'm up late....doing more writing, some texting to Jim.... I usually sleep on my mom's couch very comfortably and I'm hoping tonight will be no different.

I have only a few tears tonight... I've noticed that my emotions are usually in check during the day, but at night, with the quiet, when I'm alone... those final moments of solitude with myself before I drift to sleep... that's when my tears visit me...wash over me, cleanse me from my fears as I let them go... and I sleep.

Sunday, April 8th, 2012 Easter
Easter holds special meaning for me today. As I ponder the Atonement, the miracle of the Resurrection and all it implies for us individually; I am moved as I realize that this broken, scarred and altered body of mine, that feels like it's betrayed me... WILL one day be raised to perfection. I will be made whole in a very real physical way at that time... and I also realize that this process I go through will also make me whole emotionally before that time.

As I learn to rely on my God, my family, my loved ones and friends... I am made whole as they give to me and I allow myself to receive in love... I am made whole. It won't likely happen in one day, I'm sure the tears will continue to wash over me in my moments of quiet... but it's okay... I'm on my way.

I don't know when I'll feel beautiful again, when I'll feel totally normal again. I have no idea when I'll shower without feeling like it's an EFFORT, I don't know when I'll be able to work out and run again... I don't know when I'll feel comfortable with this condition my body has given me, maybe never.

What I do know.. is that I am a work in progress. The Lord knows me, he knows what I need... He knows how to heal me in his time... and I do know that each day I see signs of improvement. These signs give me hope... that maybe, just maybe... there will possibly come a day when I do feel pretty, or sexy, or normal... little by little... day by day...

And, so... I show up. I wake up. I participate in my life. Because really... it's a good life.. and I have too much to be grateful for to get too depressed about the difficulties.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Week One - Post Surgery

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
I wake in a fog...damn noises kept me up all night. The IV machine releases the medication incrementally and the machine makes this loud clicking noise every minute, the alarms at the nurse's station are constant, the pressurized leg cuffs also made sleeping a distant possibility, the disruptions with all the people coming in to check me for the upteenth time...healing seems remote.

I hurt. They give me more Dilaudid. I keep looking at the bag...disbelief. There is no escaping this...this is not some bad dream. This is my new reality...and I don't like it one bit.

My stomach is distended, and feels full and uncomfortable like before the ER visit and I'm scared. Scared that something is going wrong. Kay, my nurse, arrives and tells me it's just from the CO2 to puff my belly during surgery, etc. She listens to my bowels and informs me they are still 'asleep' and probably won't make any sounds for another 2 days...average. Kay tells me if I walk it might help my tummy and I can take the leg cuffs off. WOOHOO!

I attempt to sit up... and realize that my abs have had the workout of a century and it's a futile attempt. I need my mom to help lift my torso into a sitting position. I sit on the bed's edge and don't really know where to begin. I assess my body. I can feel everything...just not sure I can make it all work. I can scarcely stand. I'm hunched over, holding my stomach...My mom has my IV pole, and the urine bag hooked onto that...and we "walk". Really...this is a shuffle around the short track of the nurse's station.

I get back into bed, barely. I can't lift my torso, I can't shift it... I basically use my arms to drag my butt back onto the bed. My mom has to lift my legs and place them on the bed for me. I just want to cry...but I realize that I don't have to keep those cuffs on my legs and I look for one ray of light at the far end of the tunnel.. Baby steps of hope.

Kay comes back in and starts to put the cuffs back on... WAIT!! I protest and remind her of our deal... "Oh, no... I just meant you could take them off to walk and if you wanted to sit in the chair I'd leave them off." WHAAAAAAAAAT!??? I'm so pissed...and yet, I almost laugh at the idea of even sitting in a chair. She insists on the cuffs being on to stave off blood clots...and, of course, I relent. I've lost all control.

A bit later, I look at my mom sitting in by my bed... She quietly looks at me, and I begin to cry.

A few hours later, I begin to feel gurgling gas sounds. Kay comes it, doubtful that my bowels are waking up... and is ASTOUNDED that they are making lots of noises. I'm not kidding with the word 'astounded' - she's telling all the other nurses and the staff doctor...Dr. Luperte... she also comes in and can't believe my bowels are apparently 'very awake'. Yay.

Everyone is excited for me...more comments about how healthy I am but I feel like shit. I can barely move. I can barely sleep. I pee into a tube. I shit into a bag. My 'shuffle walk' exhausted me. I have 'belly farts' randomly and we cheer. This is what my life has come down to... This is what survival looks like, I suppose. Cheering for things like gas and anticipating a bowel movement. Fan-freakin'-tastic.


Jim comes by and we inform him of my stellar progress. I just look at him with a rueful smile...otherwise I will just start crying again. He stays for almost an hour...I love having him near me. He makes me smile, his touch, his presence... just gives me hope. He does, eventually, have to leave for work. I worry that he's so tired, but he looks great and tells me he will come back after work....and I know he will.

Two more shuffle walks during the day...just to get the damn cuffs off my legs...More gas fever...low blood pressure. More pain meds all day, and out... Mom showers. I hear some comments about how my heartrate drops into the 40s when I'm on the Dilaudid... I don't care...I can rest.

Dr. Simon and his minions visit me late in the afternoon/evening sometime. He is thrilled that I already have bowel sounds. Tells me how smart we were in doing the surgery - that I had a 'significant performation' and that he took about 12 inches out. He tells me I have to stay on water and ice chips for another day. He looks at my stoma and the other scars and tells me it looks great. I just want to cry when he says that, I think to myself, "Well... I USED to look great."

I enjoy my dinner of water and ice-chips... my mouth is SO dry all the time.

Mom drifts off to sleep...I cry for a bit and fall to sleep for a brief drug induced rest before someone else comes in at 2am to take more blood or whatever.

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

I haven't spoken to my kids... I miss them. Doug has been informed and told me he would keep the kids, no problem... but I don't hear from them and I'm sad.

Morning walk...not as much of a shuffle today. And I go down to the second nurse's station. It's a small victory....but a victory nonetheless. I realize that this is how it's going to go... small marker's just ahead of me... work to get to that marker. Check it off... Look for the next marker.

More bowel sounds and gas...more cheers. Check.

Since my Sigmoid Colon was removed...Mom and I decide to name my stoma "Siglinda" or "Siggy" for short.

Siggy decides to make her presence known of her own accord... It's horrifying to me. Just talking with Jim and my mom in the morning...belly farts. HOW IN THE HECK AM I GOING TO SEE CLIENTS LIKE THIS? I feel the gripping claws of panic start to squeeze my heart, I inhale... try to calm my nerves and realize that somehow... this will be resolved.

We hope to see Bridgette today, the Ostomy Lady. She's going to educate me re: my stoma, teach me how to clean the bag, change the bag...basic Ostomy education. My new life. We are told she's been out of town and likely won't come in today, though. I'm bummed... I really want out of the hospital and I'm afraid they're going to want to discharge me before I get the education - but then I realize they probably can't do that. Then, I get scared I'm going to stay days just waiting for this woman to arrive. Sigh.

I'm off the Dilaudid. Only Morphine today. Check. My IV is really hurting - they flush it out and it burns badly. They say if it's still bothering me later in the evening, they'll try to find another line. They try to stick me three more times to find another vein but can't... then decide to wait to talk to Dr. Simon about it... maybe I'll be off the IVs....HOPE!

Dr. Simon comes in and sees how well I'm doing and tells them to take the catheter out. Check!!! I'm told I have 8 hours to pee on my own. I pee HUGE amounts within the hour. Check.... more cheers. He tells the staff to take me off the IVs and just give me everything orally. NO MORE IVs!! Check! He also tells me I can eat a full fluid diet...soup, pudding, jello... I am OVERJOYED!! Check!!

Dinner feels like such a luxury... who knew Cream of Chicken Soup would EVER taste this good!

Three more walks through the entire day... Check. My fourth walk of the day is in the evening, with Jim. They've actually unhooked me from my IV... I walk unencumbered!! Check! We stroll all the way to the elevators and back to the end of the hall, sit on the bench and talk. It feels good.

No Morphine all day, either! Check. Just a bit of Tylenol as I run a low grade fever. My mom and Jim conspire against me to use icepacks and cold compresses on my face. I don't like it.

I swing back and forth emotionally...between hope and utter despair. It's a roller coaster. I wonder if I will ever feel and look normal again. I realize I'm fairly vain... I really was enjoying how my body felt and looked after all those years of struggling with my weight, etc. I wonder... "Will I ever feel that way about my body again?"

Jim looks wiped out... he takes off to go home and get some more sleep. Mom settles in, amongst the usual cacophony of sounds that even through my earplugs I can hear... I cry...and I do fall asleep.

Friday, March 30th, 2012
Siggy produces poop!!'s pretty loose... but it's poop. More cheers. Check! Morning walk...Dr. Simon and his silent minions come in as I'm finishing up...He is thrilled with my progress. I still feel a bit like death warmed over... but every day, every walk, every small victory... is progress. I'll take it.

Sweat like a banchee through the night. Of course, both Jim and my mom take credit for breaking the fever with the cold compresses. Okay. Still... no more fever... another Check!

Today we meet Bridgette and she is lovely! She takes all the time we need...helps me understand all the different supplies and processes. My mind is swimming. I just can't believe that this is what I need to deal with...these are the things I'm figuring out now instead of getting my kids to school, what to cook for dinner and help with division facts.

She takes us into the bathroom so remove all the equipment and show me how to redo it all. As she takes the bag off... I look down at my side, with my intestine slightly protruding out of the hole in my side... I look in the mirror and I'm shocked at what my body looks like... the telemetry wires, the IVs, the blood draw pricks, my laparascopic holes all pinched and glued up... and my guts sticking out... I look down as she is wiping my stoma... and we're trying to fit a new disc around it... and I begin to pass out. Twinkling lights, lightheadedness turning to outright dizziness, my hearing going dull. I say, "I need to sit down" and sit on the toilet.

I lean back... it's not getting any better. Bridgette says I look really pale. I tell my mom... "I need to lay down." She helps me back onto the bed. I begin to feel slightly more present in the room. I begin to cry. Later, my mom told me my lips went gray.

Bridgette finishes attaching a new bag to me. I'm just floored by the whole process. This just can NOT be real. HOW is this real? I've lost 85 pounds, I run, I eat healthier than I ever have before... How???

I realize... it doesn't matter HOW. It just is... and this is my life. I can either deal with it, or wither away avoiding it and deny it. If I've learned one thing about myself in my life thus far, it's that I'm honest with myself...and I can do hard things. I am a survivor; and beyond surviving, I know how to look for the benefit, blessing and beauty of the world around me.

The beauty of today... is that I get to go home. I've talked with my kids, my mom is by my side, Jim is by my side and I have friends who are willing to help.

About 5:00ish, I think... mom and I drive to Jim's. I'm OUT!!

I don't even shower. I'm just exhausted and grateful to be home, out of the hospital. I CAN'T WAIT TO SLEEP WITHOUT THE SYMPHONY!! :) Jim holding me feels divine...knowing he and my mom are with me through it all provides profound comfort.

I cry a bit... and fall asleep in a normal bed.

Friday, April 6, 2012

My New Normal

Alert: If talking about poop or constipation grosses you out... take a pass on this one! deals you a hand and you can scarcely believe it's yours, you wonder how you're going to play the cards....Looking for a royal flush might not have been reasonable, sure...but you also weren't anticipating that the best you could hope for would be a pair of 2's or 3's.

Generally, you wake up in the morning with a plan, and you do your best to follow that plan. Of course, there are variations or some detours, but normally - I would venture to say - there are normal limits of acceptable variations to that plan. This...we count on.

Tuesday, March 27th, was not a day for which I could count on any resemblance of my plan taking place. 'Course, I never went to bed Monday night in order to WAKE UP on Tuesday....maybe that was part of the problem!! :)

Card #1: 3 of Spades
Monday, March 26th, I began feeling abdominal discomfort around 3:00...watched a movie with my boyfriend, Jim, and didn't feel much better when he had to referee two basketball games at 6 and 7 that night. We headed to the gym for his games and I took the opportunity to just walk around the track, hoping the bloating and cramping would subside after the walk and a few visits to the restroom. It wasn't getting any better, and I thought I was just really constipated. We grabbed some Magnesium Citrate at the drug store on the way home around 9pm. My biggest concern was taking the Magnesium and then driving home in the morning since I had a full client load that day and would be working until 7pm.

Nothing had really improved, but it hadn't spiraled into oblivion yet, either. I'm really very uncomfortable, but I go to sleep, hoping it will resolve through the night. I wake up about 11:30 with sharp, shooting, gripping abdominal pains that rivaled giving birth, deep in transition at 9 cm. I think oblivion's spiral just caught me.

Hobbling to the bathroom. Sitting on the toilet. Panting. Sweating. Moaning. Stripping off my clothes. Shaking uncontrollably. Getting dizzy. Hearing getting dull. Seeing stars. "Wow...this is worse than labor... (did I REALLY just THINK that??). I must be REALLY constipated. That laxative isn't working." Pain subsides slowly. Clothes back on. Climb into bed. Try to sleep. Another trip or two to the bathroom, but nothing like that again...

Until 1:00am or so...more oblivion. Same deal. Uncontrollably shaking. Sweating profusely, instantly. Dripping wet. Vision, hearing are off. Trying to 'breathe' through the pain. "Wow...maybe I have an intestinal blockage." Finally, some bowel movement and gas passes... "Maybe this will work itself through."

Card #2: 2 of Diamonds.
Me: "It's going to be a long night, babe. I think I might need to go to Urgent Care."
Jim: " won't find what you need at Urgent Care. You need a hospital. I think you have appendicitis." (I thought Jim was keeping himself busy online with sports news...he was lovingly researching my symptoms and a hospital that would offer good care and assistance for the uninsured).

I cry. I have no insurance as a result of the divorce and my limited income as an intern with no benefits. He holds my face in his hands and gently but firmly corrects me, insisting that we are not worrying about the financial pieces right now. I agree that if I have one more bout of that horrendous pain, I'll go to the ER. I hold out hope that the laxative is working and it's just going to be a long night with many bathroom visits.

Round Three of excruciating pain sends me to the bathroom again. Barely breathe. Rock back and forth. Dizzy. Seeing stars. Sweats again. Shaking horribly. "Hospital. I need the hospital." Hobble out of the bathroom. Hand holding me upright against the wall...

Me: "Let's go. I can't do this anymore."
Jim: (already dressed) "Okay...let's get in the car."

Barely walk. Wrapped in a blanket. Hunched over. Panting. Holding my stomach. All I can think is, "Help me." Jim all but carries me to the car and into ER. Fills out my paper work. Somehow....I remember my social security number, my birthdate, address, etc.

Whoever developed Dilaudid should receive the Nobel Prize for Peace...not Medicine...but Peace. I needed two doses within 20 minutes...and after another intense bout of pain ON the meds...after a third dose, my mind and body were instantly not at war anymore. Just peace. Could breathe. Stopped shaking. Body relaxed. Doctor asking about my symptoms; vaguely remember describing the pain. Doc touched my belly...."That hurts." Doc moves to another spot. "That hurts." Doc asks, "Does it hurt more to press, or release?" As he releases...."Ouch! Yeah...hurts more to release." Yup... Jim was right, doc suspects appendicitis.

Jim...rubbing my back, holding my hand, stroking my face and hair, telling me he loved me and I was going to be okay. Hearing him talk to doctors for me...something more about appendicitis, CT scan, drinking highlighter neon yellow fluid. Still floating, feeling warm, feeling calm. A few trips to the bathroom....stuff is finally coming out of me... Guess that laxative is working after all!

Card #3: 2 of Clubs
3:00am ? Maybe?
Bright lights. Rolling down the hallway. CT Scan. "Breathe....Hold your breath." Four times. Rolling back into ER. Falling asleep. Waking up. Voices. Jim. Holding my hand.

Doctor comes in. "Well, the good news is your appendix is GREAT. So, you don't have appendicitis. But you DO have diverticulitis with a micro-perforation. Size of the head of a pin. We'll keep you here for 24 hours, give you some antibiotics and monitor you. The infection should heal up and the micro-perforation will likely heal up as well. We'll move you to a room for a bit and then admit you."

Relief. No surgery. Dad had diverticulitis. Must be bad gut genes....

Doctor comes back in. "We looked again, it looks like the perforation might be bigger than a micro perforation, and you may have some air in your mesenteric veins. You have air where you shouldn't have air. We're having a surgeon look at your films for a consult. He should be here in the morning. Surgery may be necessary." after all then? This can't be good. Air...veins.... that sounds REALLY bad to me. So tired. Need more pain medicine. Jim is so tired, but by my side...still holding my hand, rubbing my arms, my back, my face. What a sweetheart, really...

A friend shows up at 4:30 or 5:00am and helps Jim give me a blessing. I hear the comforting words as Jim places his hands on my head, and blesses the doctors, and my body for a full recovery, to have peace of mind, to know I am well-cared for. Floating. Warm. Giving into the fatigue. Exhausted.

Moved to the hospital floor... no idea what time it is. Light begins filtering in the window. In and out of sleep. Musical alarms at the nurses' station...every minute or so. Jim is on the bench/bed in my room. Must be around 6:30 or 7am. More pain meds...Nurse's shift change. Someone taking my blood. Blood pressure. Temperature. Jim has stayed with me all comfort, my rock, my reassurance.

In and out of sleep with the cacophony of musical alarms just outside my door. More medicine. More nurses...talking...SO water, no ice. Waiting for Dr. Simon... the surgeon. Too funny... Dr. Simon... so... Simon Says???? I wonder....

Card #4 Ace of Spades
Heavily sedated morning. In and out. Nurses, technicians. Jim... always Jim...where I can see him, at my bedside. Holding my hand. Touching my face. Stroking my hair. Soft words of encouragement. Calling my family. Texting friends. Waking up a bit more. Sitting up in bed....hoping against all odds that somehow all of this was a bit of an exaggeration.

Dr. Simon arrives with two of his student minions shadowing him. They smile at me, and are silent. I'm awake enough to have a discussion with him. Jim is there with me, listening as Dr. Simon informs us: 1) that I am a remarkably healthy, fit young woman (to which I snort since I'm heavily sedated off my rocker, waiting to be likely sliced up soon...not feeling too healthy actually) and I look MUCH healthier than he thought I would based on the CT Scan. 2) That I indeed have a perforation in my bowel. 3) I do NOT have air in my veins, which is VERY good news, but that the air is from my intestine (upon further cross sections of the scan) which is filling my abdomen and gave the appearance of air in the veins. This air is full of bacteria and if left untreated will form infections and abscesses on my other internal organs and I will go septic in a matter of days. 4) He recommends surgery to remove 10-12 inches of my sigmoid colon where the diverticuli develop, resulting in a temporary colostomy bag so my bowels can fully heal, with a reversal surgery in 10-12 weeks and I'll be completely back to normal. 5) He can do the surgery laparoscopically, he's one of about 25 surgeons in the country who can. 6) Recovery will be 3-4 days in the hospital. 7) Dr. Simon says we can wait a few days, pump me full of antibiotics, but I will still eventually need the surgery to address the perforation and the abscesses will likely have begun developing by then. More problems.

Simon Says: If you were my wife, I'd have you on that table in the OR I booked for you at 12:30pm.

He leaves with his minions in tow....I look at Jim and tears begin to fill my eyes. Jim holds me. Helps me think through it. Offers to get me back to California if I wanted... I think I said something like, "No way. I'm here...Let's just do this. There doesn't seem much point in waiting, It'll only increase the complications." Jim solemnly nods his head and holds me. Breathe. Close my eyes. Smell Jim's scent and just let his words of comfort sink in. Remember my blessing. Believe in the power of it. I'm going to be okay.

Pre-operative procedures and doctors begin to swarm around me...Pain begins to resurge but I know I'm about 30 minutes from going under altogether. Disbelief. Shock. HOW does this happen... NOW? I've lost 85 pounds, I'm stronger, healthier, eat better, in better shape than I've ever been... How does this happen? I was fine 24 hours ago!!!!

Jim accompanies me to the pre-operative station. He holds my hand, wipes my tears and looks at me as he says, "I will be the last thing you see before you fall asleep, and the first thing you see when you wake up! I love you." More tears...fear...and also the hope of my blessing, this wonderful man by my side, good doctors, good health...I'll be okay. I will.

Wheeled into the OR... I see my name on the board, sterile room - no more paint on the walls, no art, no carpet... I think "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". They ask me to hoist myself onto the operating table... I think I'm going to pass out as I start to cry. "Are you okay, sweetie?" asks one of the nurses. "Uhmmm....not really, I'm really pretty overwhelmed by it all...." Fade out... don't remember any "Count backwards from 100."

Woman's voice: "Shannan...wake up, sweetie. Your surgery is over. It all went really well."
Me: "Mhhhmmmm.... I want to see it."
Woman: "What?"
Me: Tap my tummy
Woman: "You sure?"
Me: Nodding.
Woman: Lifts my gown...
Me: I see the bag. Sigh. Lay my head back down...Drifting. More Voices. More pain medication.

Card #5: 3 of Hearts
Tuesday, March 27th
About 5:00pm
Wheeled into my room. Drifting. Musical alarms. Voices. Open my eyes...I see Jim at the sink in my room. Running water. Flowers. Jim's smile. Gentle touch.

Jim: "Hey, Sweetheart. Your surgery went perfectly well. Dr. Simon did everything laparoscopically. You had a sizable perforation. You're going to fully recover."

Jim sits by my side as the anesthesia wears off....texting, calling, talking to nurses. I'm in and out. He touches me, gently encourages me and talks to me.

My mom is on her way. Jim will pick her up at the airport about 10:30pm. I ask if Jim has slept at all...he hasn't.

Mom arrives about 11pm. I'm still in and out, but mostly awake at this point. Mom holds me. Has tears in her eyes. Strokes my face. Tells me she loves me. Calls me her angel. We all three talk for a while...laugh that I go to this extent to have my mom and Jim finally meet each other.

Jim is exhausted, poor man. He goes home to sleep. Promises to come back in the morning before work. Mom settles into the bench/couch/bed. Restless night...alarms, medicines, blood draws, blood pressure cuffs, etc. Who can rest in a hospital???

7am...Nurse's shift change. Two ladies come in and talk to me about financial assistance. Based on my income-to-bill ratio, I may qualify for sizeable assistance...I either pay a small portion of the bill all the way to the hospital just writing it all off. They will represent me to the doctor, anesthesiologist and radiologist re: their bills. Silver lining....BIG Silver Lining!

SO... This was my hand, not great...not what I had hoped for that day... 2-2s, 2-3s and a 6...not much to shake a stick at...until you realize that two pairs will still beat a pair of Aces. Still isn't a really strong hand, but it could be worse.

I have family who love me, friends willing to help, a boyfriend who was calm and aware enough to help direct me and get me to the right place, the right doctor and be by my side through it all. I have a surgeon who could do this laparoscopically...and this is my fate for a couple of months and then I have the great privilege of being fortunate and healthy enough to reverse this colostomy and be restored to full functioning. Many, many people live with this condition permanently...and I don't have to deal with that.

Am I thrilled about 2s and 3s? Nope...but there are less advantageous hands to have been dealt....

So, let's shuffle...and deal again.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Sometimes... you just can't explain things. After five years of being told that we could not afford a horse, not the purchase price, nor the monthly costs; after working 'in-kind' for 2 years to pay for training for my children's lessons, after almost eliminating lessons and horses entirely from our routine.... my ex-husband bought a horse for our children!! "Astounded" doesn't begin to explain my surprise, my delight, my exuberance and happiness for my children!!! Although I will never understand his reasons, I WILL ever be grateful that he did this for them!!! They are over the moon!!

I am so excited to see what amazing experiences my kids will have...the shows, the friends, the lessons, the learning and growing and the sheer excitement they have...just priceless!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Ordinary Miracle

Isn't 'Ordinary Miracle' an oxymoron? How is something miraculous if it's also ordinary? Is that possible? My online dictionary defines 'miracle' as:

1) an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.
2) such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God.
3) a wonderful or surpassing example of some quality.

and 'ordinary' as:
1) of no special quality or interest; commonplace; unexceptional.
2) plain or undistinguished.
3) somewhat inferior or below average; mediocre.
4) customary; usual; normal.

So Friday night, it was just my littlest guy and me for the evening. We decided to watch a movie together. At first we picked Dreamer but he remembered it's got too many scratches on it and skips too much (not sure why we haven't tossed it if that's the case... but that's for ANOTHER post!). We chose Charlotte's Web.

Now... you would think I would have read it enough times, and/or seen the animated movie enough times... to NOT cry. I KNOW HOW IT ENDS! I know the drill... uncommon friendship, kindness, sacrifice, love - all 'round feel-good show. Knowing this should shield me from the onslaught of sappy expressions, right? No.Such.Luck. I'm really a sap... I'll admit it, even without the hormones of pregnancy running through my blood I will cry at the drop of a sentimental hat!! Touching commercials will even get me... still. Oh well... my only saving grace is that my son was equally as touched. We shed a tear in unison together on our couch... bonding moment!

As I was sitting there after the movie, pondering the message of Charlotte telling Wilbur that he had changed things... as a result of his acceptance of her, his goodness and kindness (and his willingness to express it!) he made everyone in that barn think a spider was beautiful. And through her sacrifice, she was able to spare his life from the smokehouse. I was contemplating how sublime those simple principles of acceptance and kindness are.

How many times are our simplest of actions the most significant? A quick word of encouragement to a friend, a heartfelt hug, an 'I love you' at the end of a conversation, a 'thumbs up' when feeling down, a quick phone call to see how we're doing, a casual compliment? Honestly, the older I get the more I realize that it's the small acts of random kindness, consideration and care that ultimately bind us to each other. Why? Because THESE expressions are culturally optional.

Everyone 'hops to' when a loved one passes away, or a friend has had an accident... meals are made, children are babysat, houses are cleaned. We KNOW that someone needs help and we respond. It's loving, it's kind, it's supportive... all very good, and it's also CUSTOMARY and as such, almost expected. Now, while those are surely vital and important times to lend a hand and support - they aren't the only moments that bring us closer to each other and I might propose that they aren't the only instances where SIGNIFICANT connections are made.

It's those optional, voluntary, unnecessary moments when someone reaches out a hand, a word, a glance, a hug... and we are moved in profound ways. Because no one expected them to, no one asked them to, no one felt obliged... it's a true gift, an expression of love from a willing heart. And THAT... is powerful.

As I'm resting on our couch, musing over the movie and watching the credits... I hear this song by Sarah McLachlan 'Orindary Miracle' and I begin crying again. Here's a sampling (there's a lot more to this song, but this'll give you a good idea of what it's about):

The sky knows when it's time to snow
Don't need to teach a seed to grow
It's just another ordinary miracle today

The sun comes up and shines so bright
And disappears again at night
It's just another ordinary miracle today

When you wake up everyday
Please don't throw your dreams away
Hold them close to your heart
Cause we are all a part of the ordinary miracle

I just sat there and listened to this and thought of all those small ordinary, yet miraculous things that make a difference in my life. My daughter giving me a hug in front of her friends (this might be more miraculous than ordinary!! LOL), my mom calling me in the morning to see how I'm doing, a morning text message from my boyfriend, lunch with a good friend, my 10 year old wanting me to rub his back still....

Ordinary? Absolutely... Miraculous? Undoubtedly... because, according to one of the definitions, these things manifest as a work of God - namely, Love. And Love... loving, being loved, being 'in love'... is God's greatest work we can do and experience; and being fortunate enough to have an abundance of Love in my life, through ordinary, voluntary means... is truly miraculous, yes.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Circle of Life... From the Second Half!!

The Circle of Life... I've always loved the idea of this concept. I love developmental or cyclical things; seasons, rebirth, growth, death, etc. I find great comfort in the majesty of it, the order of it and the connectedness it displays; I like knowing that I am a part of something that grand. Studying how the parts are interconnected and interdependent is just fascinating to me.... Until I realized that, at 45 years old now, I am FIRMLY on the second half of that circle! GAH!

HOW can this be? I see that I have children that are adults... but there must be some mistake, right? THEY can age... but I still feel about 27 years old in my own mind! Even my sister challenged me a few months ago when I said that my second son was turning eighteen... "Are you sure? That can't be right!" Uh.... yeah.

I realized the other day, on my birthday actually, that I am no longer the young mom with young kids (I still have 'younger kids' - but not YOUNG kids). I am now one of those veteran moms the 'young moms' look at, wonder how we've done it and question how they, too, can do it... and they have no idea of my story!!

So...I suppose I need to reluctantly admit that one benefit of being on the second half of that circle is the beautiful opportunity to pass on some of my life's experiences, wisdom, hope and strength to someone else who is walking a similar path. That happened to me recently, and it warmed my heart. Other than to our immediate family, we don't often get the opportunity to make a difference in someone's life, or stand on the watchtower and shout encouragement - so I wanted to share it.

About a year ago, a lovely young woman in our church came to me and had some questions about homeschooling. She knew I had homeschooled all four of my children and had recently decided she, too, wanted to venture into the crazy abyss of a homeschool lifestyle! She was, naturally, questioning her sanity and a bit trepidacious at the prospect of it all and wanted to talk to someone about it. (Here's where part of the disconnect happened for me, because I realize NOW that she saw me as a veteran, experienced mom here but I still saw myself as a struggling mom trying to muddle through it, too!).

I wondered to myself, 'What do I say that would help her as she explores into the fray?' and I thought to myself, 'I will simply tell her what I wish someone might have said to me when I was taking that leap of faith and walking off the ledge!' She came over and I gave her a ton of my supplies that I wasn't using anymore since my kids were in school. We talked for about 2 hours, and I probably overwhelmed her with the amount of suggestions, ideas and organizational tips (my inner ManagerMom was in bliss!). I'm not sure of all I said, but do remember boiling it down to this, "There will be days you will cry and wonder what you were thinking. You will feel like you can't do one more day of this, you'll feel like you're failing and you will think you've lost your mind... and it will be okay! Just know that on those days, it's just a bad day. It will end and you will get up the next day and things will be different, maybe even better and you will carry on and enjoy your time with your child. Just take it one day at at time and embrace it all."

A couple of months ago, she sent a message to me on Facebook, thanking me for the encouragement and information and indicated that it made a big difference in her confidence to take on such a task and that she was loving it, enjoying the new journey with her daughter and she was grateful for the support I'd offered. It made me feel very good!! I was glad that I had helped in some way. A few months passed by, and we were at a social function the other day. She again reiterated how much of a difference that meeting made for her, emboldening her resolve to strike out and try something new. Again, I was flattered...

But here's what she said that made me realize that I am that 'older mom' to whom she was looking for guidance, support and encouragement. She said, "I am SO glad you told me that there would be days when I would cry and feel like I was failing, days when I'd want to give up... but it was normal to feel that way sometimes. When I feel like that, I think to myself, 'Shannan said I'd feel this way, and if she could do this with her four kids, I can do this with my one. I just can't tell you how much it has helped me, and what an inspiration you have been to me.' I almost teared up... knowing that my simple words describing my own experience made such a difference to her. Until this moment, I hadn't really experienced this before... the gift of feeling the expressed gratitude of someone else as they relished in their success and knowing that I played a part in providing some hope and faith for them along the way.

The funny thing about circles is that the beginning and ending are rather elusive... and as such, we are often unsure about where we are on that cyclical journey. Sometimes, we have touchpoints, or markers, that delineate our place along that pathway. This was such a marker for me. I realized in that one moment... that I was no longer the young, struggling mom looking outward/forward, anxiously seeking or searching for my own vision and understanding. I was the mom offering that inspiration and reassurance... and I didn't even realize it. And although I like to complain that I'm shocked that I'm actually a 45 year old mom... I was truly, surprisingly comfortable in my place, in my part, and grateful that someone out there thought I was 'that mom' to whom they could reach out to for assistance as they sought their own vision, their own path, their own journey.

Like I said, I love the concept of the Circle of Life, the associations within it...and I'm really okay with the fact that I'm on the second half looking back with satisfaction at my first half. It's a good place to be!