As I’m sitting her at the computer, because any other part of the house involves ducking and dodging boxes that are stacked and strewn about, I just realized that 9 days ago was my tenth anniversary, marking the day that I began regularly visiting hospitals for one reason or another.
It is and isn’t hard to remember what it was like back then, I was 18 and had just moved to NYC where I was absolutely living it up and loving it. I was partying in the clubs, hanging out with guys driving Porsches and of course attending my first semester at a top design school…I was feeling GOOD!!
Anyway, back to now. I have been very distracted over the last nine days because I just moved, along with my husband and 2 girls of course, into our HOUSE. House is capitalized because for me, it is OMG..we’re living in a house!!! The house was in shambles most of the time I’ve known my husband (he owned it quite a few years before he met me) and I’m absolutely blown away by his actually getting it completed as far as he has!!!
Now of course I’m irritated because there is literally boxes surrounding me about as high as my head and I can’t get to most of the house…this is new since I left this morning with the girls to give him a break to make some progress. I’m happy my 4yo was able to climb over/around/through the disaster to the computer on the other side of the room to put on Toy Story and entertain herself…and the room next to where I’m sitting, eventually the girls room, is clear and safe for my almost 6mo to crawl happily around. In other words life is good, I hear him thumping downstairs, he’s claiming we’ll go through these 3+ dozen boxes very quickly, which I’m sure will happen though fast enough for a decent bedtime I’m doubting.
It’ll all work out though, it always does. So back to the 10 years…in those 10 years I have learned quite a bit.
I’d say the first thing I learned, was that being hospitalized for something serious is a GREAT way to figure out who your true friends are. I had friends who came regularly, bringing things like sushi (Thank you V!!) and others (one of the porshe guys) who didn’t stay long because parking was expensive…(Really? Compared to owning a Porsche in NYC?).
Once I left the hospital, using a paraplegic cane to walk around carrying my giant portfolio filled with a variety of different kinds of paper to class I think 3 times a week, I learned about what it was like to be handicapped. It’s hard, and especially being young and healthy looking, people seem to really think that you’re faking it, this is a lesson confirmed when I became pregnant about 6-7 years later and in the midst of the first trimester sickness couldn’t get a seat on the bus…I didn’t ‘look’ pregnant.
I also learned, once I felt better, that it didn’t serve me at that point to tell people about my medical nonsense, it too easily became the main topic of my life and I found that tiring. I was the one that ended up avoiding relationships with people I’d been open with just to avoid the topic at times.
Saddest lesson of all, similar topic, was that I simply couldn’t trust some people. A teacher I loved who seemed to care about me a great deal as well, went to my boss who fortunately I was open and friends with, that my boss should be careful, that I had ‘funny’ things wrong and implied I wasn’t trustworthy because of this. I never forget my boss looking me dead in the eye, telling me to come to his office, and tell me firmly, “Do not trust that man.”. It was a surprise, a heartbreaking one considering it was 3 years since I’d taken a class with him and clearly been doing just fine, and doing anything like that, talking behind my back about my weaknesses would only serve to hurt me. Ouch.
Oh, and I guess I skipped it but I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 2 years after my stroke diagnosis. It was 2001 and I’d had heart surgery about a week after 9/11 and then lost feeling/strength in my right side (stroke had been my left) and was dx with MS sometime in November that year.
I’d been with a guy from late 1999 until I was pregnant as well, through him I learned the valuable lesson that someone sticking by me through the terrible medical probing and such that lead to an MS diagnosis is a wonderful thing, but not wonderful enough to stay once the relationship became abusive. In 2005 through my pregnancy with my first daughter I learned what it was like to be one of those girls written about in Cosmo when he started threatening me. He started threatening to get someone to hit me, then this progressed to threatening he’d hit me, at one point he grabbed my neck, it transitioned to him threatening to kill me, and when my daughter was about 6mo I hit the point where I’d had enough. I wouldn’t allow my daughter to witness this kind of treatment, and I left him. So the lesson from this story was that no matter how good someone is, they aren’t worth staying with just for that reason. Especially if they become abusive.
Fortunately, I am very stubborn. I’m a very by the books Taurus in this respect and once I make a decision, I consider it made and it is done, I did not look back after spending 6 months near NYC and no progress being made I moved across the country to Seattle which is the best decision that I ever made. Speaking of that decision, it was made in Oregon. I had flown across the country with my daughter in the midst of all of this madness for a froofy family reunion in the middle of Oregon which consisted of me flying across the country to Portland with her on my lap, renting a car in Portland and making the beautiful drive from Portland, up to the mountains, across the plains, and I think it was at one of those first rest stops after crossing the mountains that I realized that I had to come back to the west coast, which is where I was raised. Who was I to keep these kinds of experiences from my daughter? Seeing the beautiful mountains, vast plains, animals, trees, snow, and laid back culture of the west coast? I wasn’t a big enough person to keep her from all that, and we flew to Seattle just a few short months later. Once coming west, I learned that I had a hell of a lot of valuable assets to offer!
Professionally, I was seamlessly streaming through the ranks at the company I was initially hired on as a $10/hr temp. Soon I was a first level technical support person, then a top level escalation support person, and then chosen as the employee of the quarter in 2008!
While all of that was going on at work, I learned that having MS or not, I was not ‘damaged goods’ because I had MS, nor because I was a mom, nor because of my daughter being mixed race. I was power dating like crazy, I laugh as I remember one co-worker, a conservative guy I worked with, being furious at me one day! Why was he mad? Because I had 3 dates that day…I had a coffee break date, a lunch date, and a happy hour date. Talk to any dating single mom and I like to think she’d give me props, that was tough to coordinate but so productive! I didn’t really like any of them, but it helped get the dating but out of my system, and get over the guy I’d been seeing before that who had taught me that my standards had been too low, and I could get a great guy if that is what I wanted. From there on out I didn’t put up with anyone who ‘didn’t quite cut it’ and I soon met my husband.
Speaking of my husband wow…yeah, we were absolutely destined to be together. I remember the night we met, lol. My good friend was watching my daughter, if I’m remembering right I’d been scheduling days ahead of time and scheduling in dates to fit that schedule and for once, I think one of the first times, I did not have a date! So I decided to take myself for a date, I went and I got my favorite sushi with sake, then I think I walked about 2-3 miles from there (it was July so very nice out) to the neighborhood I’d just recently moved to. I was almost home when I got a call from her saying she’d be late, I was actually 2 blocks from my apartment and standing outside of 2 bars, instantly I thought it would be great to meet some of the locals! There were some younger guys hanging outside the bars smoking or something and I asked them which bar they recommended for ‘someone like me’ younger/urban type crowd. They made the call and I went on in…my husband came in pretty soon after me eating a gyro with his dog happily sitting under his bar stool. I remember I’d tried talking to a girl there at the bar and she was much more interested in her book, and when he came, I started a conversation based on not being able to read the chalk beer menu, I definitely don’t know my beers at all so I was probably trying to figure out which one I would like. I remember one called the “Howling Pig” or “Pig Whistle” or something to do with a pig being a topic of conversation. A drink or two later and we were already ‘joking’ about how we might as well get married now rather than waste time on the details. A year and…13 days after meeting we were officially married, a year and 14 years after meeting we were in Belize!
So I learned a lot, and things are turning out really well. Now I’m living in my home. I have a home. I am one of those displaced folk who don’t have any parental homes that feel like ‘home’ at all, my parents have all moved multiple times since my living with them and their place is their place for shizzle, so this is very special to me. My favorite part is I have a husband and two beautiful little girls to share it with. Cheers to that!