Saturday, July 16, 2016

10 great questions to ask your kids

10 Fabulous Questions To Get Your Kids Chatting
by Lizzy Smith for Divorced Moms                   
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July 09, 2016
road trip2.jpg

I have two daughters who I love more than life itself. I (almost always) love spending time with them. Because when we do, and it's just us, we have some fascinating chats. We get to bond and get to know each other better. The trust factor increases and, generally, so does the "like" factor. Our favorite places to have these chats are generally at a great restaurant or in the car. It's one of the reasons I purchased another season of ski passes for them-- because our drive up to our favorite ski resort in Park City, Utah is 45 minutes of "us" time-- no distractions, electronics must be put away, we talk, we listen to music. It's one of my favorite times of our entire week. I also love a good road trip when it's just the three of us, exploring somewhere new and, yes, talking.

Not long ago, I attended a parenting class that was fantastic. As part of this class, we were given 10 open-ended, probing questions to ask our kids that would help ascertain the condition of their hearts. How are they really doing inside their heads? How are they processing their world? How loved, secured and supported do they feel from me? And there were questions that would help us delve into those meaty topics. I a sharing these questions with you and adding/tweaking them to fit my parenting style and concerns.

First, I did not ask all of these questions at once. It was more like one question per week. I would ask the question, and we would dialog it. Yes, I really listened to them. And over the course of the next, say, week or so, we would come back to these questions.

1. How is your heart?

This question can be rather open-ended. And when I asked them, I offered up very few clues as to what I even meant. I was basically asking how they felt inside-- grateful, angry, forgiving, optimistic... But this is the information I was really looking for. Were they struggling with friendships, adult relationships, depression, or did they have unrealized needs that were not being met. I started this one off myself.

How was my heart? At that time, it was felt with extreme gratefulness. I was alive. I had survived some pretty terrible medical treatments. I was slowly getting stronger and better. While I wasn't yet strong enough to ski with them, I was able to take them up to the slopes and sit in a coffee shop writing while they skied. I was able to make future vacation plans (Costa Rica was coming up!). But I also felt incredible anger and sorrow. How did I get sick in the first place? How was this fair to them? What if something happened to me? I kept these fears silent. Perhaps there was a time for it, but it wasn't then.

2. What do you worry about most?

Game On! I'm back and ready to FIGHT

Game On! After An Epic Meltdown, I've Come Back Swinging
by Lizzy Smith for Divorced Moms                   
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July 16, 2016
boxer.pngLast week, I got some frightening news. A new drug that I started taking to keep my cancer markers in check had failed. My blood work was wonky. And I had a total meltdown. I sat in my oncologist's office looking shell-shocked as we discussed Plan B-- a new drug cocktail.

And that is my life since discovering that I had multiple myeloma in January 2012, a blood cancer. I am always on some sort of treatment combo and the side effects can range from almost nothing to intense fatigue and everything in between. I've always stayed positive (yes, pretty much ALWAYS, with very few exceptions) in this battle. I will win it. I will not succumb. My treatments might suck at times, I need a lot of patience, but I'll be ok.

Except Monday. I wasn't feeling anything positive. In fact, what I did feel was total panic and fear. And for the first time since that pivotal diagnosis, I started taking anti-anxiety medications. I started out with one Xanax. And then two. And then I moved on to Ativan, and then another, and another. By the time the day was nearly over, I was in a stupor. Because without those pills, I could not overcome one wave of massive anxiety after the next. I felt like I was having a heart attack. I wanted to RUN. But where would I go? And what would that change? I needed to confront my situation and somehow ... survive it.

I thought about all the articles I've written about combatting stress and anxiety. Baths with Epsom salts. Essential oils. Massage. A hike up a beautiful canyon. A lunch with my girlfriends... NONE of those would have worked and, honestly, at that moment, I felt so arrogant and stupid. How could I tell anyone to stay off medications and take a bath instead? How innocent and un-relatable I must have sounded to those in the throws of true depression or suffering from PTSD.

Keep reading...

Saturday, July 9, 2016

I had severe anxiety yesterday. And I popped (many) pills

Throughout my myeloma battle, I have to admit that I've been quite the brave, amazing, fearless warrior. A rock star. Go.Fight.WIN!!!! And when I have a bad day, I'd go... get a massage, take a hike, go on a fabulous trip, or buy some new clothes. Whatever. I was a MYELOMA SURVIVOR and, heck, I DESERVED everything I wanted RIGHT THAT MINUTE.

And then there was Thursday, learning that my numbers, while declining (I thought was a GREAT thing???), could not mean anything at all. It could mean... relapse, refractory, response to Daratumumab, or whatever in between (take your pick). Sure, new meds and new protocols are available and all this can be expected in this long journey... but I AM TIRED OF THINKING ABOUT MYELOMA.

And I had a SEVERE anxiety attack, actually, one anxiety attack after another. They came in rolls. One would stop, the next one kicked in. It felt...

-like I couldn't breathe
-like I was having a heart attack
-I was in the middle of a nightmare for which there was no escape
-I wanted to crawl out of my skin and go somewhere else and hide (this was impossible and fixes nothing anyway)
-I wanted to just... be... nothingness. (Not suicidal, but I needed it to vanish, to disappear, to be someone else, with someone else's problems.)

So I pulled out my trusty Ativan. And I took one. Then two. Then four.

And I called my doctor's office, which prescribed me something with a Z and I took that, too. And then I took another. And, wow, was I pill drunk. It felt... good? Calming? These Mormons have it right. They won't drink beer or wine but, hey, as long as they're prescribed narcotics, it's just FINE!!! Swollow-away, you righteous minion! Pills have their advantages-- fewer calories. No puking. Same effect. AND HEALTH INSURANCE CUTS DOWN ON THE COSTS!

I texted my PA at my doctor's office to say that the labs that I was due for on Sunday? Not showing up. Because I don't feel like it. Because I am TIRED of hearing about myeloma. All I want to do is crawl in a ball and hide and swallow pills, which don't do as great a job as I might hope (hey, I was still coherent enough, gosh dangit, to have that conversation, though my words were quite slurred). And wow, that really freaked her out. She wanted to call the police because she thought I was suicidal. NO I AM NOT, I wanted to SCREAM. I am pill-drunk. And I am fatigued of FOUR YEARS of living in Myeloma Hell and I am tired of them, too.

Last night, the girls and I slept at my parents' home. Actually, I passed out cold on my parents' couch. My hubby, Bill, is rushing home from Seattle where he was at for a week for the birth of his second grandbaby. And I am typing away, getting ready to shower, hung over as hell, and wanting this fog to vanish. Or do I want it to vanish? Lucidity at point, is kind of over-rated. I rather like the loopy "not sure where I'm at at this moment or why" feeling. I suppose addicts and alcoholics hit up substances for a reason. I GET IT!!

And this is my BIGGEST PITTY PARTY to date in the 4.5 years since diagnosis. Let's sum it up-- diagnosis in January 2012 (of which my then-husband accused me of LYING about it), three stem cell transplants, hospital stays, a wicked divorce,-- stress, stress, stress. I handled it all with those two boxing gloves on. Hitting hard. Warrior. Strong, Resilient. WINNER.

Oh, Lord, let that Lizzy return soon.

Well-- I just bought a new dress and am hoping to drive into the canyons with my daughters today to get some lunch... A good sign? I hope so! And I'm really trying to focus on my future trip plans, which MYELOMA BETTER NOT TRY TO TAKE AWAY FROM ME.