THE ENDING DOESN'T MATTER...NOW IS ALL WE HAVE



JILL - She is going to change this world...no mountain is too high for this kid!


It is 10:37 on a Saturday night, Shane is camping in the Eastern Sierras by himself and I am home with the girls trying to catch up on my life now that I have a full time job, but for some reason I must - I mean ABSOLUTELY MUST update my blog right now. I never question these feelings.  There must be someone out there who needs this information right now so I am going to share it.

 If you are not quite sure why this picture above has any significance, it is most likely because you do not know the struggles that our family endured during 2015.  If you do know, then you understand that this picture of Jill taken just TWO MONTHS ago with an ICE CREAM in one hand and FRENCH FRIES in the other is practically a MIRACLE!

( If you are interested in the back story you can start here: JILL'S STORY BEGINS)

In a nutshell, about 18 months ago Jill became phobic of VOMIT, to the point that our life as we knew it changed dramatically.  She had thrown up once in her life (happened two years prior to this phobia starting) and in 2015 seemingly out of the blue she began to think EVERYTHING would cause her to throw up.  This is a short list of what she thought would cause her to throw up:


  • Any and all food, especially sugar and junk food
  • fruit (because that was what she threw up the one time)
  • any tummy sensation at all - hungry, full, thirsty, scared
  • pooing
  • going to sleep
  • waking up in the middle of the night
  • me going away from her at all
  • sunny days (it was sunny the day she threw up 2 YEARS prior)
  • someone else having a tummy ache
  • eating in a restaurant
  • touching her mouth after touching her nose
  • coughing
  • talking about throw up
  • saying the word throw up
  • driving in the car
  • being in the room with someone else who has thrown up
etc....I think you get the point.  All day long, every single day and into the night she asked me over and over if she would throw up.  She basically stopped eating for 2 months, she did not sleep through the night for 9 months, and she spent the majority of every day and night in some form of a tantrum.

So, that is why the above picture carries so much meaning.

To say we have made progress is a major understatement.  How did this happen you ask....well, basically it happened when I left her for 5 days and went to Fort Bragg alone and she came to realize she would not die (throw up, not sleep, not eat, not have any fun) if I was away from her. (read it here....THE STORY WITH NO ENDING)

If you remember, when I left I told her - When I come back you may just realize you are a lot stronger than you think you are.  And
that was exactly what happened.  While I was in Ft. Bragg she had a fantastic time with Shane and Alli.  She ate a DONUT!  She SLEPT ALL NIGHT!!!  She HAD FUN!

Then I came back and wondered if it would all fall to pieces once I got home - because I was clearly the problem!!! and it kind of did but Shane and I (and my parents) were prepared.  We made some rules.  I was 100% off limits at night.  If she needed tucked in, then Daddy could do it.  If she needed any sort of comfort at night, it was only gonna be Daddy coming to save her. I was NOT dropping her off at activities anymore - If Poppy dropped them off
then all the questions (Mommy, when will you be back, how long will you be gone, what if I get afraid, what if I get a tummy ache)...would not happen.  If she needed picked up from an activity cuz she was afraid then Poppy would do it.  She needed to realize she was going to be OK if I was not involved.

Guess what...we had a rough three nights, but by night 4 she was sleeping ALL NIGHT LONG.  It has been 9 full months and she goes to all her activities without a problem and has never called me
or Poppy to come and pick her up.  Night time is a different story, but I am actually really content with what we have done with nighttime (more of that later in the post).

One week after I got back from my trip to Ft. Bragg, Shane and I decided we needed to keep it up that she was OK away from me.  He took her camping up in Lassen just the two of them.  They went for 2 nights.  Those are the pictures up above.  They skied and built a snow fort and had hot chocolate and slept in the back of the cruiser.  She didnt want to come home on Sunday.  A week later he took Alli alone...Alli, she sure got the short end of the stick for a while there.


Two weeks later we went away alone...cross country skied in Tahoe, slept in the cruiser, hung out at coffee shops and read and played cribbage and caught up on life together...ALONE. 


Recall, 5 months prior to this trip where I SKIED up a MOUNTAIN, I had been unable to walk, stand, drive, etc...for 21 days.   Only 3 months prior to this I was still needing to ride in a RASCAL to go grocery shopping because I couldn't stand longer than 10 minutes.  

The fact that I could walk, hike and SKI is nothing short of BEAUTIFUL. (THE LAST CHAPTER)  The girls stayed with Mimi and Poppy.  It wasnt perfect, Jill had trouble going to sleep, but that's ok...things dont need to be perfect.  And bless my dad...he texted me the whole time saying she slept great and there were no problems so I had a wonderfully peaceful time.  

February I turned 40!  Can you believe it?  I never would have imagined I would be so over the moon excited to be 40.  I wanted to get as far away from 39 and the year 2015 as I could.  March and April were amazing. I found a woman in town who does ROLFING and I am a new person, no more limping, no more jaw or leg pain, no more aches when I get out of bed in the morning.  Expensive, yes....worth every penny, absolutely!!

May - Shane and I celebrate 24 years of being together, 17 years of
a marriage that just keeps getting stronger and more amazing every year.  June - we leave for our summer trip.  7 weeks of camping - first time ever with a dog.  Chaco is the best camping dog EVER!  Jill sleeps great the whole time, eats ice cream and junk food the whole time (so much for paleo, huh???)  and doesnt worry a single second!

I get to go on a 12 mile hike ALONE over the Virginia Lakes pass...yes 12 miles....yes over 10,000 feet...all without a single pain in my entire body.  Isnt that INCREDIBLE!!


Here are some other gems from our summer trip:




We got back from all of our travels Aug 28th (the girls and I were gone longer than 7 weeks, Shane had to go back to work) and Jill started to struggle with sleep again.  She has always had a bit of trouble with sleeping after our summer trips because she is so used to sleeping in a tent with all of us.  Shane and I had already talked about what would happen if she started getting up again in the middle of the night so we were prepared when she started showing up in our room at 3am asking to be tucked back in.

We pulled her extra mattress into our (TINY) room and now when she wakes up in the middle of the night she knows to quietly crawl into her sleeping bag and go to sleep.  She always grabs my hand, first and then she goes right to sleep.  I think about all the months of crazy, traumatic nights when Shane and I refused to let her sleep in our room with us and I feel a little guilt,

but THEN I remember that NOW is all that matters.  If I hadn't lived through THEN, I would not appreciate NOW so much.  This is a beautiful time in our life and we are all growing closer and more loving with one another and nothing but good is coming from all of the suffering we have experienced.


I just want to finish by saying that Jill has come into her own.  I finally found the PERSON -  truly the ONE  -  who I have been searching for since this all began in 2015.  This amazing soul is finally the one who will help Jill become to person she is meant to be.  

When I told Jill we were going to see another "helper" she rolled her eyes and said 

WHY???  NO ONE has been able to help me, why are we trying someone else?


My response - I will never stop looking for someone who will help you to know that you are OK JUST AS YOU ARE!

This woman - my life saver - had Jill climb up onto the table, she put her hands on my child (and just sat there, with her hands on Jill's shoulders not saying a word) and 90 seconds later Jill tips her head up to look at this wonderful woman and says-

I WANT TO COME SEE YOU ALL THE TIME.

She makes Jill feel safe, calm and balanced.  She is teaching Jill there is a reason she feels what she feels and that she is exactly who she needs to be and doesn't need to change a thing about WHO, HOW OR WHY she is the way she is. 

Two weeks ago a kid in one of her outdoor classes got a tummy ache and went home.  When I picked Jill up that day she told me about it.  This is what she said:

"He had a tummy ache so then I thought I had a tummy ache.  But then I remembered that I don't need to take his tummy ache and make it my own.  It belongs to him.  So then my tummy ache went away.  I didn't need to come home.  I knew I was OK."

I'm gonna end this huge ESSAY on that note and just say that the title of this post could not be more true.  Really, the ending does not matter.  Now is all we have.  


If you read all the way to here, thank you.  If you know someone with a child who might need some "help" share my info with them.  My dream is that others do not need to go through HELL first to find the answers to what their child needs.  We are all in this together.  Reach out to each other, we are never alone in our struggles.


THE STORY WITHOUT AN ENDING


In August and into September, when I could not walk, sit, drive, eat or sleep.... Jill got over her fears, phobias, separation anxiety and sleep issues.

If you need some background as to what this "story" is all about you can start at the beginning -  or anywhere

EMETOPHOBIA and why our family is in CRISIS
The Darkest Hour
DONT LET A FEAR BECOME A PHOBIA
The LAST Chapter....

Life returned to semi-normal. She would go to her homeschool classes alone so I would have a few short hours to myself during the week.

But, I couldnt walk, do yoga, ride my bike, etc...so I started to feel depressed, even though I didnt know it at the time.  I was coming off the Lyrica I had been on for a month (for the nerve pain) and I blamed withdrawl symptoms for a lot of my sadness and lack of motivation to live.   But I also know that I have a hard time with sitting around, and figured my injury was hurting me much more than just physically.

Jill started playing Soccer and LOVED it.  Her fears seemed to
come back once soccer ended.  The distraction was good for her.
In spring she is doing basketball, art, hip hop, archery and track!
I think this girls needs to be busy.
Over the following two month span, I started to improve and could walk a little, ride my bike and for some reason I was able to rollerblade. As I got better, Jill regressed. Now she knew that if she called for me in the middle of the night I was ABLE to get up and come to her, so....she started waking up for me again. Then she was scared one day when I dropped her off at her classes and she wouldn't stay unless I stayed there with her.

I dealt with her regression pretty well. Not perfectly, but I was able to show her compassion and understanding for a little while.  I figured it would be slow lived.

Why would she want to go back to waking up at night and being afraid to be away from me....it couldn't last long. But it did.  

Now that I wanted to be out hiking, biking or rollerblading, she started acting worried anytime I left. I felt myself slowly going crazy...I was feeling trapped again, and I did not want to go back to feeling that way.  


One day she threw a fit because she didn’t want to go with my dad to the library. She was AFRAID, she said.  Why did I have to take Chaco rollerblading?  Could she go with me, cuz she was nervous....

 I yelled at her then, LOUD AND MEAN

I DONT CARE IF YOU ARE AFRAID.....I NEED A BREAK! NOW GO WITH POPPY!!!

She still refused to go, but after a few minutes of me berating her she finally went, and I felt horrified with myself. I am not a yeller...What was happening to me? 

 I had endured 9 solid weeks of Jill not leaving my side, daily crying over her tummy hurting whenever she put a tiny morsel in her mouth, HOURS and HOURS of her screaming in the middle of the night about how afraid she was that she would throw up.....I handled her with more love and kindness back then...how was that possible? 
Alli before her dance show...she took Jazz

Now, she never worried about food she ate, she was even eating sweets again without thinking it would make her throw up.  Yes, she got up at night, but usually only once and she just wanted tucked back in.  There was never screaming involved. And she didn't want to be at CORE alone, but she loved going places with my parents and Shane (except for the library incident)!  My life was NOT that hard anymore but I was falling to pieces every day...

I came to the conclusion that I was just a terrible person.  I made being a mom look awful, I was a terrible wife and an awful friend. School with the girls was just about killing me....I was only seeing the negative in everything around me.  I didn't understand what the point of my life was anymore.  I was making myself and everyone around me miserable.

November and December are a total blur to me. I think I was walking around in a dazed depression. Not smiling, not laughing, not finding joy in anything. I literally would just sit and stare at the walls.  
One day the girls had me take pictures of them as they made the whole alphabet out of their bodies.  This did bring a smile to my face!

It really makes me sad to think about how much of this year I sat around staring at the walls....how has this become my life??

At some point in November, I told Shane I needed to get away...what I really wanted was to get away with him, but Jill was adamant that she would NOT be OK with us both leaving.  Yes, I could have just said TOO BAD, but I was not going to risk leaving her screaming at my parents or even worse...chasing our car as we drove away.  

 So, maybe as an intermediate step I could take just 2 nights in a hotel. Shane could handle her screaming as I left and I knew I needed a break.
My first TV since I was 18....bought not to watch TV, but to play video games! HA!   And of course for Yogaglo.com

But I needed to be realistic.  Jill was back to barely being able to handle me going on a bike ride, how did I think I was going to get away OVERNIGHT! More than once, I backed out of taking a short vacation alone.

On December 19th, at our weekly family meeting, I made the mistake of mentioning that I wanted to get away by myself. Jill did not handle this news well. She was immediately sobbing and saying that I could not go away overnight. As you can imagine, our meeting ended badly. I felt even MORE like getting away because it was obvious that I was TRAPPED by my 8 year old. 

That day, Jill asked me endlessly about when, where and how long I was going to leave. I finally told her that I refused to answer any more questions. It was non-negotiable and I was ALLOWED to go away. She stopped asking but she was distraught.

December 22nd – I told Shane that I wanted to leave on the 26th. We would tell Jill on Christmas and maybe she would be happy when we said she could play the Wii ALL DAY when I left  and it would go just fine.....

I told him – DO NOT LET ME BACK OUT!!!! I need to get away.

December 23rd – I back out...Jill was doing relatively good, did I really want to mess with it. I didn't want to screw up Christmas for her. She would be a total mess after she found out I was leaving. I couldn't do that to her. 

I didn't HAVE to get away, I had endured this for over a year....I could handle it for a bit more and give her the time to grow some more.  I have NEVER taken a vacation by myself, why was I choosing to do it right now??  I can wait...

Christmas day Wii games....Who is having the most fun????

December 24th – The most awful Christmas eve in my life. I could not sleep the night before. Jill wouldn't go to bed, then she got up twice in the night and I lost about 4 hours of sleep just tossing and turning. 

Was this challenge that we were facing with Jill EVER GOING TO END???? 

Would I ever be able to just go to bed and sleep all night....would I ever be able to leave the house even for an hour without Jill being worried? Would Shane and I ever be able to go backpacking or cross country skiing alone again?? 

Nothing in life is guaranteed and I don't want to wait until she outgrows this....I WANT TO GO NOW!!!! I decided during that 4 hours of being awake when I should have been sleeping....

I WAS LEAVING – 5 NIGHTS CAMPING IN FORT BRAGG ALL ALONE.......

BUT.....

What if me going away threw her for a tailspin??? Recently, she had refused to eat a few times when I wasn't around. What if she didn't eat the whole time I was gone. What if she stays up screaming all night? What if she wont let me go and Shane has to pry her off of my body. What if she actually throws up while I am gone....she will NEVER leave my side again. I was headed for my own tailspin, but I was leaving.

I told Shane my plans in the morning. I would leave on the 26th and we would tell her that morning...give her an hour or two notice and if she spent the whole time screaming than SO BE IT!

Christmas Eve had been awful, I screamed and cried a lot. I was
Sweet Alli...so ignored during this past year...I need
to change that in 2016.
exhausted and at the end of what I could handle. I told Jill that if she didn't start sleeping better then I was going to start sleeping one night a week somewhere else, I don't even care where – I just NEED SOME SLEEP.

I yelled at her that I needed to start putting my needs first every once in a while. I needed to be able to go on a bike ride without her freaking out about it. I need some time to myself!! She was horrified at my behavior and did her own screaming and crying, but I didn't care. 

I was a terrible, awful parent that day, but we are all allowed to screw up every once in a while.  I was sad it was Christmas Eve, though – Shame on me, right? 

But guess what....Jill slept good that night, and Christmas night, too.

Dec 26th, 7:30am Jill was cleaning up her Christmas toys and I walked into her room and said, “Jill, I am leaving for my trip today.” She totally and completely lost it. Screaming NO NO NO NO over and over again. She said all of the following things, while screaming at the top of her lungs:

  • I cant live without you
  • I wont be able to sleep if you arent here
  • You cant go, I wont let you. I will block the car.
  • I will scream all night long and no one will get any sleep
  • I wont sleep the whole time you are gone
  • YOU CANNOT GO!!!!

There was no consoling her.
I said, “You will have Daddy at night.”
She said, “He isnt you.”

I said, “Daddy has so many fun things planned.”
She said, “I dont care about any of them, I just want you to stay here.”

I said, “I really need a break.”
She said, “Why do you need to be away from me? I let you go on bike rides.”

I said, “You are going to be ok.”
She said, “How do you know????”

She progressively became more frantic. Her entire face was filled with splotchy red hives.  She was shaking so badly that her teeth were chattering uncontrollably.

Yes, heartbreaking...but I was not backing out....I needed to get away to see if I could snap out the depression that had a grip on me....I needed to get away to get some sleep and I needed to get away so that Jill and I BOTH would see that she actually could live without me.

After about 15 minutes of screaming and crying, she finally calmed down. She called me into her room and told me something that I will treasure for the rest of my life. 

She said, “Mommy, I KNOW I am going to be OK. I really do know that. But I am just really, really scared.”

What a gift to this poor worn out mom....She had been listening to me all these months, she was going to be OK, I was going to be OK...we are ALL going to be OK. 

I told her that of course it was perfectly normal to be scared. This was a HUGE step for her and we all knew it might be difficult. 

I also shared this fact with her - "Jill, I NEVER, EVER would have gone on a trip overnight back when you couldn't handle me going on a 15 minute bike ride.  The only reason I am going now is because I KNOW that you can handle this.  It might take some strength that you didn't know you had, but you WILL SURVIVE me being gone."  

I mentioned to her that she just might feel more grown up when I get back because of this brave step she was taking. She smiled and said she felt brave already. I hope I am right.

Two hours later I gave her a kiss goodbye and she told me to have fun. I drove to Fort Bragg. I have been here for 4 days and still have 2 days left. I have sat staring at the ocean, spent hours writing in my journal and riding my bike, hiking, walking along the Noyo Headlands in the pitch dark and pouring rain. 

How grateful I am to be here, and to be able to move my body and free my mind from the entrapment I have felt for over a year.  

My beautiful, generous sister who always spoils me gave me $$$ for my trip and I have treated myself to a new yoga mat, 6 meals, 2 movies, 5 yoga classes, and numerous cups of coffee, chai and tea and I still have more to spend. Thank you, Nick!! T. Bar date when I get back!!


As for Jill??? It was hard for me to relax the first night because I was very concerned with how her first night without me would go. I have no cell signal so I was relying on a finding a pay phone to use a calling card or finding a coffeeshop with wifi to get word on how the night went. 

As you might have guessed – she did GREAT!!! They had a great day and then at bedtime she came out of her room 3 times and had Shane tuck her back in and she woke up once during the night but went right back to sleep! What a relief!!

The second morning I got this email from Shane:

We had a great night. Jill called me in once saying she missed you and then did not call me in after that. She actually slept through the night. During the day Jill mentions that she is fine with you being away and wishes that you where gone for longer. I definitely feel like this has been a great experience for her...

And today I called and talked to her.  She said, "Mommy, don't be offended, but I am having so much fun.  I am sleeping good at night even though you aren't here.  You can go on another trip anytime you want.  I still love you so much, though!"  
Me and Jill's Cheetah...she told me to take her everywhere
with me.

The last two nights she has gone to bed and slept all night long.  

What a relief this is for my poor worn out soul. I am finding that my true self is still inside this body somewhere. I am determined to find her and nurture her back to health. This year has been terribly difficult for me and our family, and I have felt like giving up A LOT of times...I hope that my days of wanting to give up are over.

I also know there is a a very strong possibility that Jill is just going to go right back to waking up at night when I return home...but at least now I know I can get away when I need to, and maybe that will make it easier to tuck her back in at 2am - even when I know she can do it herself. 

But, maybe...just maybe...she will have grown enough during this time to know that she can just keep sleeping all night long...even if I am home.

Thank you, sweet Shane, for making this possible. You are amazing.  I know I have been a difficult person to be around this year, but you have only supported and loved me more because of it. You are such a gift in my life.  

THERE IS ANOTHER POST IN THIS SAGA - 

THE ENDING DOESNT MATTER

A LIFE THAT MATTERS - A HANDS FREE LIFE


While I am sure you would like an update on my health and the horrendous pain I was experiencing....for now, I am just going to say – I am getting better. I will fill you in on the details at the end of this post. 

 I encourage you to read this entire post...even if you think it doesn't relate to you, and even if you think you don't need to know about these books and even if you think nothing could change the way you live your life right now. I still encourage you to open your mind and your heart to the possibility that you MIGHT actually benefit from reading the two books I am going to talk about.

First, I want to talk about the author, my most favorite blogger in the entire webosphere....Rachel Macy Stafford at HandsFreeMama.com. She also has written two books...one of which comes out on SEPTEMBER 8th! If you pre-order her new book by Sept 7th...you will get her first book, Hands Free Mama FREE as an eBook. Click the link below if you would like to pre-order her book. I will also include the details at the end of this post.


I have mentioned and linked to Rachel's blog and book before, many times, actually. Her writing creates a sweet, calming voice that whispers in my ear when I need it most....

Slow down....
Enjoy this moment....
Only love today....
Take your time...
Be kind to yourself....
Hang on....just keep hanging on...
It's never too late.....

and my favorite : 

Today I will choose LOVE. Tomorrow I will choose LOVE. And the day after that, I will choose LOVE. If I mistakenly choose distraction, perfection or negativity over LOVE, I will not wallow in REGRET. I will choose LOVE until it becomes who I am.


If there is anyone who has kept me afloat 24 hours a day during this last year, including me surviving the last 21 days of being immobile, that angel would be Rachel Macy Stafford.

Last November, just as Jill was heading into the massive anxiety and sleep issues (EMETOPHOBIA) that would cloud over the next 9 months of our lives, I borrowed Rachel's first book – Hands Free Mama – from a dear friend. I was already a fan of Rachel, but I never bought her book because I figured – I am never on my phone when the girls are around, I am not highly distracted, we don't have a TV, I homeschool, I don't have any outside commitments, my girls get PLENTY of Hands Free Mama time – there was no reason I needed to read this book!

BOY WAS I WRONG.

I read the entire book in 3 days during our Thanksgiving trip to the Sierras, and then I immediately started it again, for a second time through. I read it for a 3rd time on our Christmas trip to Death Valley. It was the ONE THING that stayed in my backpack the entire trip.

Once we were home, I decided I didn't need to read it for a 4th time. Instead, when I was feeling overwhelmed I would pick up the book and open it to just any random page and just read. No matter what was happening in my life at that moment, or what I needed help or guidance on, the pages I read always spoke straight to my heart.

Eventually, another dear friend of mine bought me my own copy for my birthday. It is well, well, WELL worn. It is still the first book I reach for when I start to feel overwhelmed with my responsibilities as a mom. However....her first book now has some competition...

That would be Rachel's second book...Hands Free Life...



Earlier this summer Rachel emailed a group of bloggers (me being one of them!!) to ask if we would accept an early copy of her new book in exchange for a review or shout out or giveaway on our blogs. After I said YES...in one half a heartbeat...I told her that I have a VERY small audience of readers and that I wondered if she would be better off including someone with a more popular blog. Her response was simple...even one small voice can make a difference. So here is my small voice shouting out to anyone who will listen.....

YOU NEED TO READ HANDS FREE LIFE!!!

It doesn't matter if you are a mother, father, sister, brother, grandparent, single or divorced or widowed. It doesn't matter if your kids moved out 15 years ago or if you don't plan on having children. Hands Free Life will change the way you want to you spend your time and how you give your love to people in your life.

Her book is 9 chapters focused on LOVE, love for our family, love for our friends, love for our community and our world and love for OURSELVES!! Who out there doesn't need more LOVE in their life???

Each chapter focuses on a new HABIT to help you Overcoming Distraction, Living Better and Loving More. But, like I said before, it doesn't matter if you aren't overwhelmed and you already love your life and the people in it. This book will open your eyes up to an even BETTER life than you already have. Guaranteed!

As I flipped through my already well worn copy of Hands Free Life, I wanted to share with you some of Rachel's writing that really spoke to me.  I am always looking for words of wisdom to help me be the best mom, wife, friend and community member that I can be, and always looking for ways to treat myself with more respect. (All emphasis is mine and some adjustment was necessary for some ideas to flow smoothly)

– Stop thinking about a million other things and allow myself to simply BE ALL THERE!

– Hands Free Life doesn't require large amounts of time, elaborate gestures, extensive planning...it DOES require you to show up – HEART, MIND and BODY – when in the company of those you love.

– Although we've been led to believe that our fondest memories are made up of grand occasions of life, in reality, they happen when we pause in the ordinary, mundane moments of a busy day.

– When we resist the urge to fill every minute with noise, excess, and activity, we open the doors of our heart, mind and soul to let the joy come in.

– Today I will resist the urge to get “one more thing” accomplished, instead I will engage in one activity that brings me peace and renewal.

– You're going to think that the pressure to be all things to all people is coming at you from all directions, but in most cases it is coming from one place: YOU!

And finally....one more quote from page 60 that spoke directly to me in my worn out, broken down condition I have found myself in for the last month...From her poem – 

Surrender Control by Opening Clenched Fists

But as I struggled to catch my breath day after day, I realized I was not living life, I was managing life. Because living life with a death grip is not living at all.

As I look back on this past year of my life...Jill and her anxieties, homeschooling Alli and Jill, not having even a moment for myself because Jill would not leave my side, Alli and her struggles to catch up in school, always looking for the “cure” that would help Jill feel safe in her world and help Alli feel successful in school.....I was barely living life....instead, I had a death grip on my life. Hands Free Life has helped me open those clenched fists and start living life.

I recommend you pre-order HANDS FREE LIFE by Sept 7th because then you will also get HANDS FREE MAMA for FREE as an eBook. Follow the link below. And THANK YOU, for taking time to read about something that is very important to me and could be just the book you need to bring you even more joy with your children, spouse, friends and family and more love for yourself.


Rachel's Information

Brand NEW Book: HANDS FREE LIFE:  http://amzn.to/1xy8rGU


As for me.....My MRI showed a 10mm bulge protruding from my L5-S1 joint. The bulge is pushing straight into the S1 nerve which was inflamed and compressed. This was causing the intense nerve pain down my leg. The neurosurgeon I was referred to called on August 26th to let me know that I would have a consultation on OCTOBER 13TH!!! I took the appointment, but I told everyone who would listen that I had no intention of needing that appointment or any type of back surgery. Now, let's just hope I am right.

I survived 21 days of being pretty much bed-ridden (I've been able to walk a bit for the last 3 days). I couldn't sit, stand, walk or drive. I wasn't able to sleep more than an hour or two a night. 

Every night Jill would tell me, “Mommy, now I am sleeping good and you can't sleep. I hope you sleep good tonight!” I went 6 nights before the pain and the sleep deprevation became unbearable. That was when I broke down and took the Lyrica. I slept that night for 13 hours.

Although I did not want to take the Lyrica, it saved me from the pain that made me scream and cry in agony. Apparently, it stops my brain from receiving the signals from the nerve pain that was traveling from my right hip all the way down my leg and into my foot. I still had the severe leg muscle pains, but there was no nerve pain so I could at least lay in bed without screaming in pain, and I could start eating again. Unfortunately, that was the only night I slept good. The muscle pain continued to keep me from sleeping well for another week.

I continued going to physical therapy, and seeing my chiropractor and acupuncturist weekly or sometimes even twice a week. Their care is slowly helping to repair my disc and get me back to my normal self again . 

I also talked with my EFT coach who helped me release some serious emotional baggage that was dragging me down. I felt 10 pounds lighter after our conversations. (We just work over the phone. You can contact her here.... Jennifer Gaynor-Yaker)

Last Friday, August 28th, I had an orthopedic massage from a man a close friend recommended. Of course, he doesn't take insurance and was INSANELY expensive...but these are often the therapies that work the best. He spent an hour and a half doing crazy things to my body and muscles. However, I crawled into his office and was able to WALK out and, I have slept at least 6 hours every night since seeing him, so it was worth every penny and bit of pain I had to endure.  I will be going back to see him again, soon.

Lastly, I went to see a local energy healer who does Chakra balancing/clearing and again, HUGE progress made after one visit. I went from barely being able to walk 20 feet without crumpling on the ground, to being able to load the dishwasher, sweep our schoolroom and do some school with the girls. After visiting this woman, I was able to stand/walk/crouch for nearly 4 hours before I had to lay down. AMAZING! I still cannot sit or drive but I am sure that will come soon.

(Local friends I can give you any of these local therapists contact info if you are looking for someone, just email or text me)

And by the way, I MUST thank my parents for the insane amount of time they have been putting in to helping our family through this rough time. My dad has driven me to nearly every appointment and helped me get in safely. Some days I had 3 appointments a day. My mom has watched the girls for hours upon hours while I was at these appointments. My sister has taken the girls over to her house to play so that they could get a change of scenery and have some fun time with their cousins. 

I am so grateful to have such loving family so close by. I cant thank you all enough!!  I love you so much!

 And another big step, my friend Holly took the girls to the creek for 5 hours one day last week. YES!!!! Jill went with someone who is not family for 5 whole hours, and she had a great time. Thank you Holly, what a gift that was for the girls!!

Thank you to all my family and friends who texted, called and emailed SO OFTEN to find out how I was doing. You guys helped to fill my heart ALL THE WAY UP!! And my friend Julie also brought my family dinner when this first began. How wonderful that was, thank you. Katie, you picked up my CSA box when I was not able to move one inch off my bed. Amy, you baked bread for me so I would have something simple to eat since I can't stand in the kitchen and make myself anything!!  Thank you, all.  

I am so lucky to have such wonderful, generous and kind friends.  I love all of you!!  It takes a village, right. I appreciate the village I have so much!

And Shane...he has been a solid rockstar through this last month of insanity. He has gone to work all day, come home to clean, cook dinner and play with the girls. Then there is the grocery shopping and errand running and medicine/epsom salt/back brace trips to the stores multiple times a day. He has given me a massage every night to help me sleep and then wakes up every day without a complaint to do it again. He was my champion when I was so low that I thought I would never get back to normal. He would lift me up, saying, “You are getting a little better every day...I see it...you will get through this. WE will get through this.”

And I am....and we are....slowly returning to normal.  I am no where NEAR normal yet, but I have 100% faith I will get there. My body is healing more and more every day. I will continue to see all my therapists, plus any one else I think may be able to help me...Bowen technique....Rolfing technique....are next on my list...I will keep on, keeping on until I can run with Chaco, bike with the girls and hike with Shane. I know that day will come.

Thank you for reading this all. I hope you order Rachel's book. Life is meant to be lived...and be lived well....I am so happy to be back in the realm of living well...I love to implement Rachel's ideas into every part of my life.

So...I am getting off the computer so I can do a puzzle with the girls. And then we MIGHT go on a bike ride, I'll see how it feels.

Lots of LOVE,
Jen


THE LAST CHAPTER OF EMETOPHOBIA - PART 4


This is me, Jen, writhing in pain and sobbing on the couch.  That is sweet Jillbug's hand on my back.  Alli took this picture on my phone 8 days ago.  I had no idea she took it that day. I really feel that even though this intense pain is from my current health situation, (which you can read about below)....I also believe that it is how I have felt as I traversed the last few months with Jill.  I was constantly trying to stay strong for her even though this was what I felt like doing a lot of the time.  

She was writhing in pain, screaming on the couch.  The pain was so bad she was out of her mind, sobbing uncontrollably.  I knew what I needed to do.  I ran to her side.  I snuggled up next to her and let her put her head in my lap.  I smoothed her out of control hair and I talked soothingly to her, “Just breathe.  Take some deep breaths with me.”  It took a long time for her to stop the sobbing, but I just kept rubbing her back and breathing calmly until she joined me.  This had been going on for over 48 hours, so I knew to stay by her side until she calmed down.  Every once in a while I would remind her, “You’re not breathing deeply.  Listen to me breathe and breathe how I breathe.”  This was the 4th day of Mommy not feeling well. I am beginning to wonder if she is ever going to get better.

It had been days since she ate a regular meal.  When Alli got up, we cut up some apple for her and tried feeding it to her one small piece at a time.   We gave her water through a small syringe we found.   We held her tight and sang her songs and tried to get her to smile, but it was impossible.  She says the pain is constant now, nothing is working to make the pain go away.  She is always moving and changing positions, but she can never get find a position without the pain.  She cries out in and starts sobbing a lot. She says, “I am sorry if I am scaring you girls.”  But – we aren’t scared….  She is in pain and we are here to help her.  Even after Poppy came to get us, we still wanted to stay with Mommy and soothe her, but we listened and went with Poppy, saying, “Mommy, you rest.  Daddy will be home soon to take care of you.  You will be ok.  We love you.”
-          Written from the perspective of 7 year old Jill, taking care of her Mommy.


Yes, the above words describe how Jill handled herself during some of the most painful moments of my life.  Jill – sweet Jillbug – who, just 7 months ago, became terrified to eat anything and worried about anything and everything under the sun, is nearly all better.  She still says she needs me to sit at her CORE classes when they start up again, but almost every other aspect we have been dealing with has been resolved. Though we might have a few kinks to still work out, the important thing is that she is back, she has blossomed out of her chrysalis and is soaring everywhere she wants to go.

SIDENOTE: I wanted to send out one final update on Jill, and also ask for some prayers for my recovery.  As I type this I have been bed ridden for 11 days, with no end in sight.  I finally broke down and took a Lyrica yesterday because I was screaming in pain so much that the girls were terrified and I had not slept for 5 nights because of the pain.   I’ve had an MRI but no diagnosis yet.  I haven’t walked more than 1 minute at a time in 11 days. The pain is excruciating. I talk a little more about this at the end of my post.

On the Sky tram at Sea World - one of the places we went on our San Diego "girls" trip in June

UPDATE ON JILLBUG:
This has been the most challenging 9 months of my life.   Watching my daughter change from a bright eyed, adventurous and happy kid, to an angry, terrified, worried, and anxious version of herself was incredibly difficult.  It was like watching her fall backwards through all the stages of her life that she missed the first time around.  

She never had tantrums when she was 2 and 3, no separation anxiety at 4 or 5, no anger, crazy emotions or power struggles at 6, no sleep issues – EVER.  She was the most mellow kid for SO long and I knew at some point she would have to go through those stages.  I hoped it would be before she was a teenager.  I got my wish.  She had an implosion of these all at the same time right around her 7th birthday!

(If you missed Jill’s fears/phobia/anxiety posts, you can read them starting here – PART 1PART 2PART 3, I will also reference them in the text below.)

Seemingly out of nowhere, Jill started telling me her tummy hurt all the time.  This was in December.  In February, it progressed into a fear of every morsel of food she put in her mouth.  She could not take a bite of food without it causing her to worry about her tummy or that she would throw up immediately.  She would not leave my sight.  She was terrified to eat, she was terrified to sleep, she was terrified to poo, she was terrified to leave my side.  She was terrified she would throw up ALL THE TIME. (read it here…Part 1)  

She wouldn’t play with Alli anymore, she wouldn’t go to Mimi and Poppy’s, she wouldn’t go play with her cousins, she wouldn’t even go play by herself in her room anymore.  Her entire life was now based on a fear of throwing up and as a result, my life now revolved around Jill and her fears.  It was like having a newborn again: no sleep, constant crying, no sleep, incessant talk about bodily functions, no sleep, a child clinging to me all day long, no sleep…..  

February and March were BRUTAL for our family and even though I felt like this would be my new way of life, we did the hard work that needed done and she started to get better. 

The emetophobia website I found (ANNA CHRISTIE) said you MUST stop reassuring the child and stop paying attention to their fear.  I felt like a terrible mom when I started to ignore her, but once I started ignoring her worries about her tummy and throwing up – she stopped bringing it up. 

It took 3 days, can you believe it?  THREE DAYS and she stopped being consumed by her fear.

And she wasn’t suppressing her fear either, which I was
Lake Moraine near Banff, CANADA
concerned about….she was having fun again, playing again, she could leave my side, she was laughing again, being her silly old self again, FINALLY.  (read it here…PART 2)

Her separation anxiety we worked on slowly.  It took her 2 months after her first panic attack (February 12th, when I left for my daily bike ride) to go to the store with Shane alone…but then in the next week she asked every day if she could go on an “adventure” with someone.  She asked to go places with Daddy and Poppy and Auntie.  

On Mother’s day (3 months after that panic attack) she went fishing and hiking with Shane for 6 hours and she had a blast.  She had never had a trip alone with Daddy and she was so happy to finally be able to experience that.  She said, "Next time, let's go overnight!"

Then she was asking to stay the night at Mimi and Poppy’s (and yes, she slept fine over there - all night -even though at home she refused to go to bed calmly or stay in bed without screaming for me multiple times a night!) 

But, even though she was getting better with the separation anxiety, every time she left to go with anyone, I was a nervous wreck the whole time. Her leaving me ended up being way easier (for her AND ME) to handle than me leaving her.  

In the beginning, she screamed when I left for my 15 minute bike rides, but soon she was pushing me out the door to go on my ride (as long as it was only 15 minutes).  But if I left to go to a store, she would cry, ask where I was going and when I was coming back, ask if she was going to be ok.  Something about me leaving in a car, maybe?

The girls at the left playing a game of tug on Canada Day - July 1.  We were in BANFF and I was actually off by myself going to some stores and coffee shops...Jill was fine staying with her Daddy!
We really had to work on this aspect, but were not sure how to go about it.  What happened was that she decided on her own she was ready for me to leave her.

The day after our 16th wedding anniversary in May (23 years together!) Jill told us she wanted to spend all day with Mimi and Poppy and we could do whatever we wanted.  Shane wanted to go hiking in Lassen.  I had a massive breakdown instead.  

I couldn’t stop crying.  It had been nearly 4 months since her separation anxiety began and I am pretty sure I took it on for her.  What if she falls apart, what if she freaks out, what if she only wants me and decides she is NEVER going somewhere without me again…..what if???? I could not calm down.

We ended up at a local coffeehouse because I couldn’t leave town.  We sat at an outside table with 20 other patrons surrounding us, trying to enjoy their Saturday morning coffee and breakfast and I was crying like an out of control 2 year old.  I couldn’t stop.  

I called my parents in a panic, worried that this was not going to work.  They had to talk me down…”Jen, she is going to be fine.  You need to go somewhere.  We can handle her.  No matter what happens, she will be ok.  We will have them until after dinner…just go enjoy…please!”
Johnston Canyon - outside of BANFF.  I love that the girls hold hands while they hike!

 And we did.  I was finally able to calm down and we drove to Grass Valley.  We talked the whole drive…we went out to lunch…I did some shopping – ALONE!!!....we got more coffee…we went out for dinner…we talked the whole drive home.  It was SO 

A M A Z I N G!!!  

Shane and I have always enjoyed (and NEEDED) our time alone together and that ability had been taken away from us for the last 4 months.  It was so wonderful to be together again, ALONE!! 

Those previous months had been a long, hard struggle, and we had put in the work necessary to help Jill heal her worries and fears (read about all the things we did here…..PART 3).  We had made progress in every area of Jill’s life except one….SLEEP!  

That is a huge problem to have.  She moved her fears into the nighttime, and because I did not have the heart to ignore my child at night, in the dark, when she was frightened….she continued to manifest her fear into a nighttime struggle.

Can you believe this sweet kid would throw
things at me???  This is a kid's tree climbing
course the girls did together in Canada.
Most nights involved 1.5 hours of trying to get Jill to stay in bed and go to sleep.  Then there was always some middle of the night drama (some nights more than once) involving me having to stand in her doorway and wait for her to calm herself down and get into bed – this could take 1 – 2 hours.  Many times it ended up with me getting my arm and hand slammed in her door as she tried to escape.  I also had things thrown at me. 


There was the night she threatened to jumped out her window and then she did, 7 feet to the ground.  Other nights involved more of Jill screaming than sleeping, and a few nights when she ran to our backyard and threatened to go wake Mimi and Poppy up (they live behind us) at 2am.  I am quite surprised that no one ever called CPS.  Her screaming had to have been audible outside.

We were at a complete loss for what to do.  Soothing her didn’t help, cuddling her didn’t help, the meditations no longer helped, and sleeping in bed with us was not going to happen.  We were doing homeopathy, acupuncture, reward charts, sticker charts, bribery,  Chinese herbs, essential oils, and nothing was helping. The last time she slept ok was when I took the girls camping in Fort Bragg, in March.  It was approaching June.

Alli and I did the adult tree climbing course.
She did fantastic.  All the way to
double black diamond!
Shane always goes on a trip with the guys from work when school gets out.  He was going to be gone for a week and I did not want to be at home alone, trying to deal with the chaos that bedtime and nighttime had become. I decided to take the girls to San Diego and go camping for 8 days.  And guess what!!!!!  I got 8 nights of sleep, ALL NIGHT LONG, sleep.  

Then we got home and she went right back to her “normal” sleeping habits.  I keep asking myself…..How is this possible? and When will this end????

We were only home for a week before we were leaving for our 4 week summer trip.  Those 7 days at home ended up being really bad the first 3 nights, but the last 4 nights she slept decent…not perfect, but decent and after what we have been going through I will take decent ANYTIME!!!

We left for our trip and camped in Mt. Shasta, then headed to White City to pick out our 3.5 week old puppy.  There were 21 German Shorthair Pointers….it was impossible.  I was crying cuz I still missed Hazel so Shane just kind of picked one and latched on….that’s our Chaco (named after the Chaco Culture – National Historical Site in New Mexico.  The 20 mile long dirt road in there destroyed our Subaru’s suspension but was an amazing place and of course the Chaco Sandals!!)  We have 3.5 weeks of vacation before we get to come back and take him home.

Chaco at 3.5 weeks old
We had a great trip.  (I have dispersed some pictures throughout this post. ) And again, Jill slept all night, every night.  Maybe we SHOULD just sleep in a tent in our backyard??.…because the minute we got back to a house (Shane’s parents in Olympia) she reverted right back to her old sleeping ways.  Screaming at bedtime, scared to go to sleep, wanting reassured she didn’t eat too much watermelon….It all came back full force.

Chaco at 7 weeks
We only stayed 3 days and then we drove back to White City to pick up Chaco and thought (naively) that maybe once we were home bedtime would be normal.  I had asked my parents to do a complete makeover on Jill’s room while we were gone.  I thought maybe if it looked different, just like a cute little girl’s room, then maybe she would forget all about her previous habits and would sleep perfect!  


My parents did an amazing job.  Her room was ADORABLE!!!  Jill was so excited and happy.  I was almost convinced it would be fine. 

I was very, VERY wrong.  Bedtime went fine.  Book, blessing, and song, but the minute I walked toward the door to leave she said, “But, what if I throw up?” and we were right back to square one.  She hadn't actually asked that question at bedtime since April.  Yes, she screamed but mostly about wanting another tuck in, or a hug, or a kiss or to use the bathroom.  She never said she was scared of throw up anymore.  But, she had no memory of the 4 decent nights of sleep she had before we left.  All she remembered was the months and months that came before and she went right back to the beginning.

They hiked to Bumpass Hell while camping
in Lassen for 5 days.
I am not even going to get into the turmoil that broke out for the next 3 weeks …there are moments I am trying to erase from my long term memory.  

However, there was some good…Shane took the girls camping for 5 days without me.  I was VERY concerned they were going to end up home in the middle of that first night because Jill needs ME at night.  That is what she says….just MOMMY! 

 She had never been camping without me, EVER, and now she was going camping without me in the middle of her worst sleeping we ever experienced. But, guess what?  She loved it.  The girls asked to stay an extra day.  
SIDENOTE: Guess when my sciatica started……yep, the FIRST night they were gone.  The first night I could have slept all night without worrying about a screaming child waking me up.  I still had to get up with Chaco…but still….this is not a coincidence to me!  I have not slept ONE night since Jill has been sleeping through the night.  (Well, I should say – unmedicated.  I’ve had 3 nights I was so drugged up from pain meds that I slept – I don’t think that counts!)
When they returned (August 1st), she had two bad nights of sleep and then….POOF! She just slept, like that.  She goes to bed no problem, she sleeps all night.  It has been about 3 weeks that she has slept without an issue.  I am optimistically going to say that I am closing the chapter to this part of our lives.  Good-bye, farewell. I learned a lot.

So, moving forward, let's pray she continues to improve in all areas.  That her sleep remains peaceful and calm, and that she realizes she can be left at her classes for 2 hours without needing me there. 

And finally, let's pray for some relief for me so that I can get back to being a mother and a wife and a homeschooler and a friend and a daughter and a sister and a hiker and a bike rider and a yogi and all the things I love to do, cuz right now I am nothing but a bump on my bed.  I can barely walk the 5 feet to my bathroom, I am dizzy an loopy from drugs.  I've lost 7 pounds in 10 days cuz I don't want to eat and I have one position that doesnt cause intense pain (I am never pain free). AND, I have no idea when this is going to end. Your positive thoughts and prayers are appreciated. 

CONTINUED.....THE STORY WITHOUT AN ENDING
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