Thursday, January 28, 2016

From Divorced Moms: Differences can be strengths in your relationship

My latest via Divorced Moms.

When Differences Become Strengths In Your Relationship
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January 28, 2016
635243037923437806Fotolia_51258520_XS.jpgHow many times have we entered a new relationship with the guy of our dreams and then… proceed to try and change him? The relationships starts out exciting and he is perfect—the way he dresses, smells, his hobbies. Sure his friends might be a little annoying and you have yet to meet his kids, but those are all minor (especially since the sex is so great). Ok, well, maybe you really aren’t crazy about the way he eats or his restaurant choices, or the fact that he love college basketball and you hate it. He also misuses his favorite word, poignant, and that drives you insane. In fact, now that you really think about it, it’s clear he doesn’t even know what that word (plus a whole lot more) even means. Still, Mr. Hottie is perfect, quirks and all. Right?
It’s now many months into the relationship and when he takes you to dinner at his favorite dive, you’re not amused. He knows you’re trying to be healthy and shed a few pounds yet he’s treating you to a night of overly-oiled and cheesed-up pasta, bread and a bottle of cheap wine. “This is a poignant moment,” he says gleefully. You smile but want to smack him. “WRONG WORD CHOICE,” you want to scream.
You manage to keep your mouth shut and smile (this time). Instead, you decide to subtly start changing him (you hope he won’t even notice). A few tweaks here and there and your guy really will be perfect.
You buy him some new clothes because you can’t stand his sweats and oversized San Diego Chargers jersey. Hooray, he wears them without protest! You start cooking more meals at home—grilled fish and veggies, red beans, fresh fruit. He eats them! Instead of agreeing to a couple’s fishing trip, you book London for seven days that includes museums, a play, and a day at The Tower. He goes with you and it’s one of your favorite trips ever.
…But then he starts resenting you. You start arguing over … the game on TV, movie choices, the color of the comforter (you want to buy him a new one), what to buy at the grocery store. Life is suddenly contentious. Fun and satisfying relationship is vanishing fast. What happened?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Stop Hating Your Man's Ex!

I am back from a six week sabbatical from writing for Divorced Moms because I was just too sick and mentally not capable of putting thoughts to paper. That is until my daughters went out to visit their step sisters in San Diego this past weekend. Notice that their dad, Bob the Great (Alcoholic) was absent-- not because he was out of town but, rather, because he was sitting in a bar by noon (really, who needs to start drinking before lunch? That's right, an alcoholic). I have a close friend who lives in Pacific Beach and sees Bob around town quite frequently and on Saturday, when the girls were at Belmont Park, Bob was across the street (literally) in a bar knocking back drinks. He has chosen a life of drinking over being a dad to all four children. Alcoholism is such a pathetic disease. 

Anyhoo, while my daughters were in San Diego, all four girls spent time with a woman I once despised-- Rob's ex-wife, "Tina". I've written about this before but we women need to really stop taking sides when it comes to the men in our lives and their ex's. I wasted so much time taking sides against Tina when, in reality, she is an awesome person and I consider her a very good friend of mine. She is smart, funny and witty. And, if you ask my girls, she is fun and a great cook. During my marriage, instead of forging positive relationships, I sided with a man who was abusive, a bully, explosive, and a liar. This choice of mine hurt everyone-- the children (particularly Bob and Tina's kids), Tina, me... Because I helped enable Bob to continue drinking, not owning up to his behavior, and continually going after Tina in court. Shame on me. I have done my best to apologize and make amends (which Tina has accepted) and I am writing about this topic so that hopefully, a few women will take my advice and do the same. 

What should you do and how should you behave if you're in this situation? At a minimum, shut your mouth. When your guy talks poorly about his ex, give him hugs and say things like "I'm so sorry that is happening." Now start watching him carefully-- maybe HE was the problem in the relationship. This would be a warning flag. Either way, whether is an innocent awesome guy or a tyrant, remember that "silence is golden." When you run into your guy's ex, try smiling, saying hello. Better yet, introduce yourself if that's comfortable. I ran into my current husband's ex wife at a football game. I walked up to her and we hugged. No drama between us and I'll be damned if it's not going to stay that way. Because adding gasoline to a burning fire is just shameful and, well, it is wrong. Don't do it. And, most important of all, never (like EVER) say bad things about the ex in front of the kids.  

I'll be done here, you can read more below.

Peace, Lizzy  

Lesson From The Celebrity World: Be Nice to Your Guys' Ex
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January 25, 2016
christie brinkley.jpg
My daughters just returned home from a trip to San Diego to hang with their two (former) step sisters, Kellie and Nicky. (They did not, unfortunately see their dad because he was too busy sitting in a bar getting wasted off his ass. A friend of mine who lives in his neighborhood saw sent me a text with the news. Very sad.) Anyway, guess who else the girls spent time with? My former arch nemesis: the ex-wife of my former husband, Rob the Great (Alcoholic).
If you had told me that my daughters would ever be in the presence of "THAT WOMAN,” I'd have called you Crazy. After all, I detested her because I believed everything Rob told me: she was evil, mean, manipulative, a horrible person, and an incompetent mother who just wanted his money and didn't want to work. Kind and loving girlfriend that I was, I hopped right in the middle of their relationship (at his insistence and encouragement, mind you). Over our years together, I helped Rob write and edit court documents, glared at Tina when we crossed paths in public, and generally consoled Rob for the years he spent with the Evil Bitch. I discovered his alcoholism and tried like hell to get him well. It all failed.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that the things Rob said about Tina were not exactly accurate and there probably was a whole other side to their story. During my marriage to Rob, I found myself on the receiving end of what Tina put up with for years—the rage, abuse, bullying, and explosiveness of an alcoholic tyrant.
…And then one day, I had enough. I called the police during one explosive drunken screaming fit, had Rob removed from our home, and called Tina, hoping to high heaven she would actually speak to me. She did. She listened, she consoled. Soon she became one of my biggest allies and supporters during a really horrific divorce.
How many women do we know who have done some version of the same? Go after Mr. Amazing’s ex? I get it0-- it is tempting to get sucked in to the drama because Mr. Amazing seems perfect. Plus, he wants (and needs) support. Except maybe he is not so perfect. Maybe the ex knows a lot more about him than anyone else.
Today, I stumbled on the story of Christie Brinkley and her ex-husband, Peter Cook. They had a hateful divorce amidst Peter's cheating allegations with very young women. He remarried a woman named Suzanne, yet he and Christie continued battling in court. Suzanne stood by Peter and defended him. During one court hearing according to Page Six, Christie said to Suzanne that when Peter did the same things to her, she would be there. It didn’t take long. Page Six obtained an email that Suzanne wrote to Peter: “To think you fought Christie, the mother of your children, for custody, knowing what you were, knowing what you did … trolling the internet … filming your prostitute. Covertly photographing... and so much more.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Myeloma took my coffee away!

It's been so long since I've last blogged that I (almost) forgot how. Truth is, I've had a tough stem cell transplant recovery (thanks, myeloma! I HATE you.). As a result of feeling sick and tired, the thought of logging on to a computer and writing was just too much. That said, I'm doing much better now. Not fully recovered but getting close. It's been a month and, really, it is remarkable that I've come this far.

A few things that I've noticed from this horrible experience (which is different from my tandem sct's in 2012):

1. I struggle with eating. I'm nauseous when I don't eat, which makes me not want to eat. I have to remind myself that I (mostly) feel much better if there is something in my stomach. Except that nothing really sounds all that appetizing. Pickles are mostly good (not always, though). Ramen noodles were good for awhile until the last time I ate them and then threw up.  Shrimp is generally good, except I threw that up, too, one day. And saddest of all, I don't like coffee! I'm devastated because that was the one huge thing I looked forward to doing every morning-- stopping at a coffee shop and getting coffee. I still occasionally drink it but generally, it doesn't taste good. I hope my love for it comes back.

2. I'm officially too thin. I don't even want to weigh myself. Strange feeling looking at myself in the mirror and thinking, "eat a pizza." We went to Ruth's Chris last night for my dad's birthday (I have THE BEST dad on the planet, by the way) and, honestly, everything tasted delicious and I am happy about that (though I can't eat there every day). I threw up about an hour before we headed out so my tummy actually felt normal by the time we left. I popped a Zofran and I ate a lot-- bread, ahi tuna appetizer, mashed potatoes, a huge salad, and a steak. I also got chocolate cake and bread pudding for dessert. Signs of better eating days? I hope so. I love food. I want to enjoy eating again.

3. I have finally allowed myself to just rest. I resisted this for so long-- always running around, staying busy, and never allowing a dull moment to enter my life. This time around, I gave up doing almost everything. I got a house cleaner, I allowed my amazingly supportive husband to take over kid duties, my mom rubbed my feet almost every day for weeks, I rarely cooked, and I took long naps. I needed it and it was ok to just let things go. No one fell apart, life went on.

4. I have some psychological trauma from my long hospital stays. I soon realized that I did not want to be alone. If my husband was gone for any reason, I'd go to my parents' house until he got home. What's up with that? I'm mostly over it, but not entirely.

5. I seriously need a vacation. And that's what I'm spending my time on now: planning two trips, one for Bill and me, one for Spring break for the kids to come, too. Somewhere warm. Somewhere that I will relax and do very little, which takes such places as Europe or South America off the table, because if I go to those places, I'll be touring instead of parking my butt on the nearest beach chair and sleeping in the warm sun.

6. I regret having this stem cell transplant. I will never do another again.

And there you have it. I'm doing well. I'm at Costco many days, I meet up for lunch with friends, and I'm healing-- mentally and physically. I'm back at church and Bible study, two places that I love and where I feel welcomed, loved, safe, and spiritually fed. I am enjoying peaceful time with my family. And I am trying to stop this nauseousness that I still struggle with every day. That part is horrible and one of the reasons why I regret agreeing to another transplant (I should have been at U Penn in their Car T Cell Therapy clinical trial, or at NIH's) and why I'll never do another. I still have awful acid reflux that hurts. But each day there is progress.

I took my daughters snowboarding and skiing twice this past weekend. I purchased season passes to Park City/The Canyons for them. Because I am not yet physically strong enough to ski, they spent the first day in all day ski school, and the second day, I sent them off together, without an adult, for the first time. I was thrilled that they had an amazing tine together. But my goal is that in two weeks, I will join them on the slopes. Mommy-daughter time in the fresh mountain air and amazing snow that we've been blessed with this season. I want it, I crave it. Wish me luck!



Sunday, January 3, 2016

Back (sort-of) from Stem Cell Transplant Hell (so help me, God, I will NEVER do this again)

I have completed my stem cell transplant and engrafted. My engraftment has been awful, although feel as if I'm sort of climbing out of the abyss.

I received high dose melphalin on a Tuesday. I should not have felt its effects for several days but I felt it the day-of. I knew then that this was going to be a bad experience. My poor body is just done with this intense treatment and is fighting it every step of the way. "LEAVE ME ALONE," it is screaming. And I (and my doctors) are not heeding that warning. On the day of my treatment, I chomped on ice for an hour and then went home, tired and feeling very "wrong" and twitchy. I went to bed early after taking two Ambien and an Ativan (yikes) to calm me down.

William (my angel and husband) took my kids to school the next day while I headed back to clinic for my stem cell appointment and had all my luggage and Christmas gifts in my car. My mom and dad (my other two angels) joined me. I got my stem cells (anti-climatic) and we drove to our hotel and checked in. I decorated for Christmas and went to bed.

On Friday, the girls were done with school and they joined us in Salt Lake. Already, I was feeling awful-- fatigued and developing chest pains. It's like I had acid reflux but could not get any of it out. I knew mucositis was setting in-- a painful inflammation and ulceration of the mucous membranes lining the digestive tract.

By Monday night, I was in terrible pain. I was barely able to swallow, my mouth was coated in mucus, and I felt like someone was stabbing me in the chest. I could not swallow my pills. Off to clinic I went and soon enough, I was readmitted into the hospital. I wanted to SCREAM. Myeloma took away my birthday, Thanksgiving, and now Christmas? But I needed help. I was severely dehydrated and thirsty. I could sip water and fruit punch but that was it. The pain in my chest made me cry. I was given my medications via IV. I was hooked to a morphine pump (which took 7 attempts and huge bruising to get that IV into a vein in my arm), and I was given IV fluids. For five days, I ate not one morsel of food. My weight plummeted. My doctors begged me to eat. How the hell was I supposed to eat when I couldn't even swallow?

Finally on Christmas day, I begged (and won) my exit from the hospital. I went home throwing up in a bag and crawled into bed and fell asleep. Merry Christmas! The only good news is that my daughters had a wonderful day-- thanks to my sister-in-law who had them spend the night. They baked cookies, watched movies, ate popcorn and Santa came to their house. The next morning they opened all their gifts. I spent too much, as usual, but after asking both girls their number one favorite gift, they both said the same thing: Their flight/trip to San Diego to visit their sister, Kalie, and Nicole. They leave in two weeks. I am so grateful that they are maintaining close relationships with their step sisters even if their dad has pulled a disappearing act (don't even get me started on this one).

So here I am today, one week post engraftment and, while doing a bit better each day, it's been tough. I am weak. I tire easily. I've struggle with terrible diarrhea (finally gone!). I throw up at least once per day. I eat, but maybe 500-700 calories max per day. I am too thin. I can't even stomach getting on a scale to see what I weigh now. My scalp itches like hell because my hair is growing back. I can't tell if I am losing my eyelashes but if I'm not, they are so short and mini. Thank goodness I have Morgan, my 15 year old daughter, here to work her makeup magic.

....So, it's time to start putting "me" back together.

Last night I started off with a 90 minute pedicure. My feet feel great at least. Next week, if I have enough eyelashes, I'm getting eyelashes extensions. If they've all fallen out by then, this will obviously need to wait. I am getting a Roman soak bath and back facial. Also a one hour massage and one hour facial. I'm getting microdermabrasion, too. I am spending four days at the spa and you know what? I deserve it. My skin is dry and miserable. I am miserable. So one step at a time, putting "me" back together.

And I'll give myself a few more days of just slowly getting up and doing something different-- go out to lunch, go for a drive... whatever, anything. And then I'll start on our exercise bike-- 15 minutes if that's all I can do. I am so weak, did I say that already? I need to start slowly building up strength and stamina. Since it's cold and we have snow on the ground, I am grateful that we have a home gym, with a bike, elyptical machine, treadmill, free weights and a sauna. This will give me all the tools I need to get back to my normal snarky, high energy (most of the time) self.

Someone asked me recently why I did another transplant instead of the new medications and therapies. DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED. I begged for elotuzumab. I begged for clinical trials. Nothing came to fruition and then I was told things were critical and I needed to act NOW. Was this worth it? No. This has been the worse experience of my entire life. I should have been at U Penn doing their Car T Cell therapy trial but since I was in transplant, I'm not eligible. I should have been on elotuzumab, which would have given me time. I should not be struggling to recover from a horrible transplant. I should not have lost all my hair and be back in a wig again. But it's done and I must move forward. I just need to get strong and well, and that's what I'll focus on. And be grateful that I am alive.