Thursday, June 13, 2019

Confessions of a Craptastic 2016

It’s December 28, and everyone is posting their retrospectives about 2016. Heres mine: Fuck you, 2016. Continue on for the tl;dr version.
Sometime in 2015 I wrote this long essay about how the next year was going to be my year. The kids were getting older and my business was going well and I was going to be able to devote some time to writing and dammit, it was glorious. So glorious, in fact, that I should have known better. Because never in my life is shit that glorious.
And then 2016 actually arrived. The first few weeks puttered by, lulling me with a false sense of security. Decent weather, great clients, all in all a positive start to the year.
The third Sunday in January was a pretty normal Sunday for us. We had gone shopping. I made spaghetti for dinner. The little kids were in the hallway, watching videos on their tablets, sharing the only unused outlet in the house. I was walking into the kitchen to refill my water when I heard the youngest say “Yoda! You just fell over!” This seemed a little odd to me, so I went to go check on them. I found Yoda on his side on the floor, convulsing.
When you have five kids, you’ve spent a little bit of time in the emergency room. Usually, it’s parental over-protectiveness. Once, 24 shut her finger in the car door and I was afraid it was broken. 18 got in a fight and got pushed and hit his head on the gym floor. 24 went to the ER several summers in a row
while working at a Boy Scout camp because she’s clumsy and would hit her head…often. Each time, we were sent home within a few hours, fully recovered.
None of that prepares you for seeing your child laying on the floor having a tonic clonic seizure. It was, without question, the scariest moment in my life. I’ve been in car wrecks, been in fist fights, been in jail, walked in on a college roommate having a “meeting” with a bunch of shady looking guys with guns at their waists, and never was I as scared as I was that Sunday night.
Yoda’s tonic clonic seizure sent us on a long journey that isn’t nearly over yet. He has, at this point, a diagnosis of Childhood Absence Epilepsy, but that may change, as his epileptologist thinks he has some damage to his left temporal lobe. He had an MRI last week. Since January, he’s also gotten a diagnosis of asthma, and a confirmation of our suspicion that he has autism. He’s failed five anti-seizure medications; if he fails this one we will start on combinations. It’s been a year of skill regression, memory loss, side effects that included weight gain, weight loss, hair loss, tremors, and fear. He hasn’t had a tonic clonic seizure since January (he had his second seizure two days after the first) but he has absence seizures every day.
As I was trying to find our new normal, and learn about how our lives would be changed with an epilepsy diagnosis, my middle daughter got an abcessed tooth that required emergency surgery. My stress level was through the roof and I went on medication for high blood pressure. After Pidge began recovering from her surgery, my youngest daughter’s (Batgirl) migraines began to worsen. Trying to find treatment for these led to a diagnosis of Essential Thrombocythemia, a rare blood cancer that usually happens to people over 60. In the middle of all of this, my uterus broke and I needed surgery, and my mother died.
Thankfully we had some good moments to balance out the bad. My oldest son graduated high school, valedictorian of his class of six. Yes, six.We live in a tiny rural town and my kids go to a tiny rural school with an enrollment of less than 200, pre-K through 12. Pidge is growing out of that awkward early teen phase and becoming a smart, creative, opinionated person that I am proud of every day. 24 celebrated her first wedding anniversary.
And the littles? Despite having a craptastic year, they seem to be thriving, most of the time. I watched this morning as Yoda had a cluster of absence seizures, but then he went back to what he was doing as if it hadn’t phased him. Batgirl makes me laugh every day, in her smart, funny, confident way.
Fortunately, I’m able to take my cues from them. While 2016 has sucked big hairy donkey balls, my kids have given me the strength to move forward. Well, my kids and three different types of anxiety medicine. But seriously, if I hadn’t have needed to remain strong for them, I would have long ago dissolved into a raging mass of goo.
So that’s my 2016 retrospective. Just steps away from raging mass of goo status, but working towards solidifying in 2017.

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