The Road is bumpy, Real bumpy!!

Whew!!! Its been awhile I know. So much has been happening in my little world and although writing is such a great outlet for me sometimes life is so overwhelming that writing is the last thing that I can do. Sometimes you have to just retreat into your safe place and regroup, that is where I have been, in my safe place trying to regroup. Some of that has been successful some of it not so much.  Right now I am at a place in my journey where I am seriously asking “What could I have done to deserve all this?  What now, what do I do? Where do I turn? How will I be able to get through this?” I am only one person and everyone has a breaking point.

Life has thrown me yet another curve ball. At every turn just when I think there isn’t anything else I can handle there it is right on my lap. On February 27th I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. At first it was just a few days of shock and maybe even some relief because at least now I had an answer to the extreme pain, stiffness, and swelling that had started to occur. I had sudden onset and when it came on it hit with a bang. I went to bed one night and felt ok and when I woke up the next morning my left wrist, hand, and fingers were swollen, tight and extremely painful to use. I initially thought I had slept on my arm wrong and a previous shoulder injury possibly had aggravated it. The next morning I woke up and the exact thing was happening to my right wrist, hand, and fingers. After about 4-5 days of trying to navigate through and live with that pain it began to subside. Within a week of those symptoms I woke up one morning and my right shoulder was in severe pain. I couldn’t raise my arm, I couldn’t use it hardly at all. Within hours my left shoulder begin to feel the same way. For almost a week I was unable to use either of my arms from my shoulder down to the tips of my fingers. This was a pain I had never experienced. I will remind you I am no stranger to pain in my life. My life has been rooted in pain from before I could ever even remember. My body has been through more things than most people can’t even imagine, but this pain, yeah this pain is a beast. I have never been faced with a pain I can’t push through. I have always been able to focus and push through the pain to do what I need to do and get things done but this mess just locks me down.

When I went to my doctor on the 27th I had a suspicion that this may be what was happening but I was definitely praying against it. After a thorough exam, review of symptoms, and family history she was pretty sure about the diagnosis but as I found out there isn’t one definitive test that can be done. Diagnosis is made through a combination of things. I was sent to the lab to have some blood work…..and then you wait…. Three days later I received the results and they were not good.  The three main test that the doctor was concerned about was the RF factor test, the A-CCP test, and the ANA test. All three were positive. Positive reading for RF factor would be <14, Mine was 252. Positive reading for the A-CCP would be Strong positive >59, Mine was >250. Positive reading for ANA, it came back with a positive IFA with a speckled pattern which is associated with mixed connective tissue disease. My mind was reeling. With everything combined I now have a definitive diagnosis of Rheumatoid arthritis and it was bad, I am confirmed seropositive and the disease is progressive and very aggressive. It was coming on hard and fast.

I am 35 years old, I am already an amputee that deals with severe nerve damage, neuropathy pain, degenerative disc disease, and now this potentially debilitating disease where my own immune system attacks my joints. I think this is it. This may very well be my breaking point. This last month I have spent many days in bed, hurting so bad unable to move much. I need my hands, my arms to transfer my self from one place to my chair, and then I need my hands to push my wheels. A lot of days I am just left feeling helpless and hopeless asking myself and God if I am being completely honest Why, Why God are you giving me another thing to carry. I have stayed quiet telling very few and trying still to just process what this means for me now, what it means for my family. Waiting for dawn and what each new day will bring sometimes with a fear in my heart that each time I wake up it will be with an immobilizing pain and I will once again be frozen in time as everyone else continues on with life around them.

The one thing I can say about this new phase of my journey is that it has probably saved my marriage. Brian and I have been in such a vulnerable place. For so long we have been going in opposite directions. Love was not the problem, we have plenty of love but we all know that marriage takes more than love. This has all reminded me of my safe place, my soft place to fall and that is with Brian. Neither of us is perfect and man do we have work to do, but I am so grateful for this Godly man that has stuck by me through every bad thing that has occurred in my life since I have met him. All of our problems have not disappeared however right now we are focused on some of the bigger things occurring and our children. Our children need us to give them some of our time and energy.

I know I will prevail and I am so appreciative of the few of you that have known and been there to love and support me  and for those that are just now finding out I pray that you will offer your love and support and will understand if I am just not able to physically keep up with the physical demands that most of you are able to operate at with ease on a daily bases. I will always do my best and try at being better at asking for help when I need it. I love you all, thank you for taking this journey with me. You all are my motivation.

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May I fall apart now, Sir?

Life happens sometimes to fast and to often. We get going at a speed often thinking we are comfortable and able to handle all that is coming at us, putting things in their proper places or on their proper shelves and I don’t mean physical things I am talking all the mental.

Recently my family went through one of the hardest things I think I have ever went through. I was faced with holding my family together during a time when I didn’t even want to hold myself together much less anyone else. It’s something I have always know about myself, the ability to find strength and push through even the hardest of situations. It is how I was able to lay my mom to rest for the most part by myself, at the age of 25, and it is how I was able this time to rise up and care for myself, my home, and children after my husband attempted suicide on August 11th 2016.

I have known about this demon my husband battles since the moment I fell in love with him 15 years ago and it is something I chose for better or worse when I said I do 13 years ago this November. Mental illness is no stranger to me, it is something that has plagued people I love for as long as I can remember, many of them trying to combat and fight it only to find themselves slaves to another demon altogether, addiction. There is a pride that comes with seeing how hard my husband has fought all these years; because this disease has tried to take his life on more than one occasion. Yet on this night, one action, one thought, everything changed with just one decision.

We don’t have much support or guidance in way of parents, a lot of his pain comes by way of saying goodbye to his mother and father just 3 years apart beginning in 2008. When you lose the two people that are responsible for putting your fleshly body here on this earth it can do something to a man’s heart and way of thinking. Well in complete honesty we don’t have much support at all. You truly find out who your real friends are when your husband is in a lock down unit for 6 days in the hospital. When you are left with handling everything from taxiing the children, to school supply shopping, not to mention the practices and school functions. The beautiful thing about it all is that you also find out you had friends in the most unlikely places and sometimes that is how God loves on us. He uses these heartbreaking times to build a new friendship or build a bridge between a strained relationship. However, with every good side there is a bad side and you also see who isn’t your true friend.

I know that most people in general just don’t know what to do when someone is in crisis so the go to statement is “please let me know if you need anything.” I learned sadly from experience that when you are in crisis you more often than not don’t know what you need so you can’t tell people how to help you so you just go about doing the next thing. In the 7 days after my mom died and in the 6 months after her death I would have loved to have been able to tell people what I needed, but I did not know so how could I tell anyone. In the 6 days after my husband tried to kill himself I would have loved to tell someone what to do to help me with my 4 kids, but I was in autopilot. I was just doing the next thing. What I am recognizing now is that people know how to rally around him because it is easier to identify how to help and support him. I am the strong one keeping it all together and holding it down. I didn’t know and don’t know how to really ask for help or what to even ask for so no one really helps or even just stops by to be my friend, but they know how to help him. There has even been a few situations where I have suffered some negative consequences for his actions. I feel like I have been failed by those that should have showed up the most. My wall is up, I am shutting down and that is why I am able to survive.

The truth is this, I don’t ask for help because I am a fighter and survivor. I have fought my way through life since that fateful day in May 1982 when I was ran over and began to fight for my life. I fought through my parents drug addiction, through a bad childhood riddled with poverty and abuse, I have fought and survived my own physical aliments and obstacles and endless surgery’s only to come out the other side an amputee and will continue to fight every day the rest of my life for things that most people with take for granted. I am a survivor and a fighter and us survivors don’t know how to ask for help or what to even ask for, we just do the next thing.

It is only now that Brian is home and that we are in the rebuilding phase working on putting our family back together and healing from this life altering experience that I start to fray. It is only now that I start to look at doing a few things for myself and work on some serious healing in our marriage that I look to the heavens and I fall to my knees and I ask my heavenly father is it now? Is the time now?

Because when you have four children and a husband with a fragile heart and soul. When you have no mom to call upon and no soft spot to fall, when you know that you are the survivor and always the fighter and everyone looks to you for strength, it’s up to you to know the right time to look to your savior and ask……

May I fall apart now, Sir?

Reeling with Raynauds

    If you have never had children then the agony I am about to describe when you see your child go through physical pain won’t make sense. There is a fear that hits your brain, hits your soul when one of your children comes against something, that they much less you has no control over. Most mothers from the moment we find out we are pregnant change our whole lives to protect and give our children the best and healthiest life possible. With 4 children I knew that my chances of having all of my kids healthy was probably slim to none especially considering the fact that one by one I went into premature labor with each one. They all were born early and up until our 3rd child they were healthy. Brayden was born 5 weeks premature and he was in the NICU for 7 days and has had asthma and allergy issues ever since, but our first-born she was healthy from day one. With the exception of a few ear infections as a baby she has always been happy and healthy so when she started having some discoloration and temperature issues in her extremities we didn’t immediately jump to any conclusions or freak out right away.

    Time stands still when you hear words like disease, cancer, no cure, manage the symptoms. The day of her doctor’s appointment we heard words that made time stand still. We heard ” Briana you have Raynauds Disease, there is no cure, but there are things you can do to manage the symptoms. Everyone is different so we aren’t exactly what sure what symptoms you will even have.” My daughter and I got through that exact moment by telling each other that it could be worse, it could have been cancer. She could be loosing a limb like I did, she could be dying. There were so many worse things the doctor could have come in and said, but in my head I was screaming all those things don’t matter this is my baby. I was devastated.

    See this child at her mere 14 years at age had already been through so much. She had to experience the death of 3 of her grandparents, 1 of which was my mom whom she was extremely close to. Then at 10 she began the task of caring for her 3 younger siblings because I had decided to have reconstructive surgery on my foot that ended up being 7 surgeries 20+ skin grafts, 2 external fixators. And in the end after 2 years of all that I ended up having to have that foot amputated. Our youngest daughter who was 7 months old when I had my first surgery called Briana mama first and for good reason, Briana had been taking care of her the way a mama would. She has been my right hand man as they say. I couldn’t have gotten through all of these obstacles without her help and she has done all of that while maintaining fantastic grades, and extracurricular activities. I could not wrap my mind around the fact that on top of all the things she had willingly took on to be a help and blessing to others and now she was facing this disease .

    We are in the beginning stages of this disease and already it is proving to be an ugly opponent. As a parent it is beyond frustrating when you see your child cry out in pain and there is nothing you can physically do to relieve the pain. Briana is a tough girl and usually can deal with any pain but she has met her match with this disease. There are days, days much like today where the only thing I can do is hit my knees and cry out to God on her behalf. I beg him for mercy and relief for her. I beg him to please deliver her from this disease. I beg him to please ease her fear and uncertainty and to help me be the best mom for her I can be.

bri foot.png

    When your child is hurting you feel it to. Its like you’re connected. There are times when we may be able to do something to help ease whatever they may be feeling and those times are great gifts. However, there are more times when there isn’t anything we can do and it feels like pure torture. As I watch my daughter, she moves around and I offer to rub her feet because they are cramping so bad she can’t walk, my heart is breaking. I would give my other leg if only she didn’t have to go through this. I know I can’t take this from her or go through it for her so I just pray that God will use it in her life and she will be stronger, wiser and a warrior for his kingdom. We will continue on this journey and learn more about Raynauds. My Daughter will become a voice for this disease and she will conquer it. I will turn my frustration, fear, and anxiety for my child into drive to maker her life the best I can. In the meantime as she begins to step in 2 her lyfe I will just sit back watch and admire and be inspired by the incredible young lady God has created in spite of the obstacles before her . 

 

A Final Goodbye

   I will always ask myself did I do enough, were the words I said heard by the ones I loved? I wish that I could name only one person as I sit here today and share this part of my soul with all of you, but there are so many people so close to my heart that I am sure it will never fully heal ever again.

   I guess it starts when I was 5 years old and my baby sister died at home while sleeping in my brothers bed. We knew from the beginning that she was not going to live long but we hoped, prayed, and had strong faith that the outcome would be different. She was a very sick baby, born blind and deaf but that didn’t stop us from talking to her and loving on her. I didn’t really understand the depths of death at that age or what it does to a person. I didn’t understand what it did to my mom’s heart until I became a mom. The day my sister died was the first time I ever felt longing in my heart, I just didn’t know what it meant until much later in my life. My Sweet baby sister graced this earth for 7 short months, the only sound I ever heard from her was a cry but I believe in my heart that as she entered into the gates of Heaven God allowed her to hear all of the words that had been spoken to her here on earth that she could not hear. Carrie Jean Hawkins. 1/25/86-8/16/86

   For years to come after that I experienced what I call “normal death” yes that is how twisted my life has been, that death can be considered normal. Normal death for me is when the elderly die. You know it is the normal cycle of life, the way things were intended to be. So I had some normal deaths and it made me sad but did not rock my world.

   Then life stopped. On Monday December 11th 2006 I received a phone call from my grandma that my mom had slipped into a coma and that I needed to come now. My mom had been sick most of my life. Yet I guess I never thought that we were truly at this point and maybe that was because she didn’t want to burden me with what was really going on with her health.  As a matter of fact just the week prior she had been in the hospital and we were not even sure she would make it home at all. At this time in my journey I had only had 2 of my 4 children. Briana was 4 and Bj was 1. I was in the middle of finals and what my grandma was saying to me was not registering because I had just talked to my mom on Friday. She had called to tell me how much better she was feeling after being released from the hospital. She sounded great at the time and we agreed we would talk about Christmas soon, looking back I know she knew this would be our last conversation, her next words will stay with me for the rest of my life. It was her final goodbye. She said ” Baby promise me you will remember the good times” this frustrated me because I hated her talking like that and I said “mom stop, don’t say that” and she replied “sister just promise me no matter what you will always remember the good times” and so I said ” I promise mom I will” and our call ended with the usual I love you’s and I will call you later. That was the last conversation I had with my mom.

   I arrived at my moms on that Monday the 11th and she passed from this world at 11:50PM The following Thursday the 14th. I got to spend those 4 days with my mom talking, singing and praying to her as she was in transition from this world. She got to die at home in her bed with us all around her. I laid in bed next to her as she struggled for each breath and whispered that it was ok for her to let go. That I was ok and that I loved her. As my mama took her last breath I was right next to her praying that in her heart she knew how much I loved her, praying she knew I was sorry for all the things I had put her through, praying that she could feel how much she meant to me. My mom was 45 when she passed from this earth on to Heaven and I was 25. I know in my heart that during really special moments God gives her a window seat so she can be apart of the special things that are going on in our life. Nothing in this world can fill the void that loosing her has caused. Ruth Alice Hawkins 2/19/61-12/14/06

  I have had a rough life, I am sure that more of that will come out in different times as more of my journey reveals itself. But the part that pertains to this is I was a very difficult teenager. I made so many mistakes and treated my mom so bad, but it didn’t matter she loved me unconditionally. This year will be the 10 year anniversary of my moms death and sometimes it still feels like the she just died. It’s hard to explain the feeling. It was like I was suffocating at times. Like it was all I could do to take my next breath. At times I did not know how I was going to get through the next moment. Even to this day I am still working and learning how to forgive myself. I know I did my mama proud though because I laid her to rest and took care of all the details. I made sure everything was handled and beautiful. I Pray her pride for me has only grown since then.

   Never could I have imagined that the pregnancies of my youngest 2 children would include death, death of two of the most important people in our lives. In 2008 as  I was beginning the 8th month of a high risk pregnancy with our third child. My father in law passed away suddenly of a massive heart attack in his home. He was found by my brother in law and my husband, unsure if he had been there 1 or 2 days. There were no final goodbyes, no time to make things right, just shock and heartbreak. 21 days later at 35 weeks, I delivered our son Brayden Gerry Carrethers named after his papa. He spent 7 days in the NICU and fought hard to come out. I have no doubt that our special little boy has helped us to get through this loss that we may never heal from . Jerry Lee Carrethers Sr. 10/14/50-4/29/08

   At this point in our life I thought we had suffered it all and that nothing could rock our foundation again as hard as it had already been rocked until you get a phone call and you begin to ask God why he hates you so much. I was 5 months pregnant with our 4th and final child. My mother in law was being rushed to the hospital by ambulance. She was unresponsive and that was all the information we had as we headed to the hospital. My mother in law had been battling cancer, she had been in remission and the cancer had come back. We all knew this but what we didn’t know, what we later found out was that she had been hiding from us all was how bad the cancer had spread. She knew she was at the end of her life but she didn’t want any of us to know. My amazing mom Sharon had a faith like I had never experienced and she knew that if it was Gods will he would heal her and she was standing on faith that it was a possibility that might happen. My final goodbye came that night in the ER.

   The Dr. had updated us all and explained that the cancer had spread and that she probably wouldn’t leave the hospital. We were so lost and shocked we had no idea it was so bad. For the most part she wasn’t lucid, but there were moments that she seemed to come in and out. There was a time that night when the rest of the family was out in the waiting room and I was in the room alone with her. We were waiting to get her moved to ICU. I was holding her hand and talking to her and a nurse walked in and told me that only family was allowed. Now if you haven’t read my previous blogs then you don’t know that my husband is black and I am white so the nurse had no reason to believe that I was family. I started to tell her that I was family and before I could say anything mom Sharon reached up and put her hand on my stomach and she said this is my daughter and she is having my granddaughter. The next morning my mother in law passed from this earth. 4 days later while in the middle of planning her home going ceremony Brian and I had an ultrasound to find out the sex of our baby. We found out on 3/22/11 that we were having a little girl. In honor of her nana Brooklenn Goyce Carrethers was born on 8/4/11. Mom Sharon is gone from this earth but everyday I see a piece of her alive and well in a granddaughter she knew she was having before we did.  Sharon Joyce Carrethers 9/14/52-3/18/11

   I wish I could say that it all ended there but it didn’t. About every six months or so up until about a year  ago someone close to myself or my husband would pass away. As I have stated I am not sure my heart will ever be able to fully heal because the heartbreak is just so gut wrenching. Well and those are just the deaths, not to mention the other life changing ground moving obstacles that have been stacked up against us. But as long as they keep coming, as long as God is giving us the strength we are going to keep knocking them down.

   To those left unnamed you still rest in our hearts and thought of more than possible to explain. I don’t know how my soul and heart can continue to exist under so much pain however God has continued to push me forward. Without his Glory and Grace I would surly be a paragraph in someone else’s blog where they are sharing their Final Goodbye.

 

 

 

 

Deepest Hole of Life

   Sometimes the darkness from these holes of life consume him so quickly and take him so deep I am not sure I will ever get him back. It’s black, so black and he goes so very deep to a place that even after 15 years I still struggle to understand. This disease is a dark place that even in this day and age where we have 12 and 13 year olds killing themselves its still taboo to talk about. Depression and Suicide, Yes I said it, Mental Illness.

   Everyday people, people that most of us would never expect deal with this illness. Most people hold down jobs, have long relationships, and are raising children. They suppress their feelings, put on a happy face and do what needs to be done. In a month and a half my husband and I will be together 15 years. I knew from the beginning that this was a disease that he battled with. He fights everyday to get up and go to work to provide for me and our four children. I have never had to work and working after my amputation became especially challenging but it was never an issue. Its a disease that is so misunderstood. “Snap out of it, get over it, just be positive” Those are just a few of the things that people that don’t understand this illness say so often, I myself am guilty of this. However, here is the truth behind what really happens, and it is nothing like what people think: There is a constant feeling of doom, not feeling good enough, no contentment with what one has. Most of the time not wanting to die but wanting the pain to stop and feeling like the only way to accomplish that is by death of the flesh. Feeling abandon by God, “If he loved me why would he continue to let me suffer with this?” Not wanting to continuously hurt the ones they love. Hating life so badly that truly just wanting to die seems the only answer.

butterfly

   I don’t know exactly what words to use to explain the pain I feel watching my husband go through this day after day. Trapped so deep in this hell of his own. Fighting so hard to stay above the waves that he always feels are crashing down upon him. He is drowning and there is nothing I can do but I throw him the only life vest I have at my disposal, prayer and faith of our Heavenly Father.  This disease has stolen so much from me. Before my moms death she spent years abusing drugs to try and escape this disease, guilt and depression has stolen the relationship I could have with my dad with the years he has left but we couldn’t be more distant from each other, this disease has stolen my brother, my only living sibling and he is lost in the throes of addiction.  Now it steals days, hours, and minutes with my husband and I fear one day it may steal his life.

depression

   This disease is real, it needs to be talked about, with our children, spouses, parents, friends, and anyone else who will listen. One more life lost is one more to many. Tonight my heart is heavy and I think about the staggering statistics and I pray for all of those struggling with the Deepest Hole Of Life that most people are afraid to talk about. Right here is a safe place and anyone can come here and express what they need and get love and support. Today I am stepping into my Life. I hope each of you are to.