Posts filed under ‘Third’
January 3rd- All over this planet people are starting this year of 2015 with goals- losing weight , spending more time with family, giving up smoking etc. My goal, is to be able to sit in the chair in the den long enough to write my 3rd of the month post for you my son. Not to do so would be , for me , breaking faith with not letting the world forget as so many in your life have already done, that you existed were loved and made a difference.
Without going into too much detail, I have had chronic pain for a few months. First the drugs were tried and they took care of it so it was manageable for a few weeks at a time but then more and stronger were needed. I have learned through your months of “hospitals and doctors ” more negatives than I ever wished to know about the health care system and some “professionals and hospitals”. Because of my life for those many months watching and seeing the outcomes I now trust only my instincts , my intelligence and my own research.
Yes that is right Chris, the one thing I learned is that I should have taken more charge of what was happening to you- I didn’t. Would the outcome have been the same? In all probability YES but the pain of our journey would have been lessened and hope would not have been sold “wholesale” for as long as the insurance paid and you would not have been Cleveland Clinic “lab rat”.
As I researched and interviewed Drs. I refused to be sent to anyone having anything to do with my dreaded Cleveland Clinic or doctors that took their residency under a certain Program Director at South Pointe Hospital –
I knew too much about that aspect of Dr. training from personal experience.
You would be amazed at the faces of potential health care professionals when I interviewed them. I am sure a couple were getting out the “white coat” for me. But remember this is my body , my choice, they are not gods, just people earning a living in the health care industry and not all doctors are of the same level. Putting a MD or DO to their name doesn’t make then all-knowing or of more than a “passable” expertise ! You and your insurance are paying for their expertise and yet so often we turn ourselves over to people we don’t know or know very little about or who know about you and say “save me”. You trust in their ability or the ability to refer but to whom?? You have rights as a patient and I now choose to exercise those rights.
However, I have managed even with my “outrageous to some” criteria to find a few wonderful doctors, and two very special hospitals, small enough to know my name and to whom , I and my family are people and not just an insurance number or the next condo in the islands payment .
One, St. John West Shore http://www.sjws.net/
has literally saved my husband’s life twice in the past 18 months and have treated my strange proclivity’s with patience, caring and understanding.
The pain worsened , I managed with drugs and hot water bottles and a lot of understanding from family and friends for the two weeks it took for the “insurance” to tell my doctor it was Ok for the next step.
Every time I filled the red hot water bottle , too hot for my bare skin, I thought of you the hundreds of times the five hot water bottles we filled in Texas as you went through the “trial” with no one but you and I. The number of scalding hot baths you took every night to ease the pain in your body. You never complained to me I know you didn’t want to scare me , you were “eating pain pills like candy” I knew you were just trying “to be”. I watched the pain envelope you but the phone would ring and you would answer in a voice so strong so as to hide the agony you were going through.
December 17th found me having the first procedure which went well, in fact better than expected and for 10 wonderful days I had only very slight discomfort- the pain forgotten as I got through Christmas. I was waiting for the procedure in the operating room and the anesthesiologist as he stated ” you will feel a little burn then nothing”- I remember thinking
I wish you could make me feel nothing! I wish you and your anesthesia had something to erase this horrible debilitating grief( that you are unaware of as I lay here)
But just like the tsunami of grief that is held at bay whilst life continues, so the pain laid low for a bit roared back into being . It came back after departing for a just a brief while,- contained – only to break through the medical barrier stronger for the respite as my body probably was doing more than it should without the warning of pain.
New Years Eve, found me once again laying on the table waiting to have my misery relieved. I have in the past months learned to live outwardly not showing for the most part the grieving mess I really am- the powder and paint of normalcy painted on like a mask every morning.
This time although I felt nothing due to the anesthesia and how that works is a mystery to me and also to others
” Despite their necessity in modern medicine, scientists aren’t sure exactly how anesthetics work. The best theory suggests that they dissolve some of the fat present in brain cells, changing the cells’ activity. But, the precise mechanisms remain unknown. ”
Well the fat cells in my brain may have been dissolved but apparently “according to the nurse” my fat body ( she didn’t say that though) was not co-operating and was moving around in pain on the table for a bit even after my brain was anesthetized .
Not such a good thing for the doctor, I would assume, poised to do a delicate procedure. I, of course was unaware this happened although in my mind’s eye this great lump of a body laden with grief flopping around on the table half-naked probably wasn’t a great sight for him that New Years Eve. He earned his money that day.
So here it is January 2nd , my pain has lessened although I am not fully functional but I am endeavouring to sit in a chair for as long as it takes to finish this post for you. – a lap top may be in my future-
But somehow I will get this post written and posted even if I have to take jpgs of these scribbles and post them.
Another year without you in our lives will not be happy but hopefully it will at least be free from physical pain…. and I think of you every waking minute of every pain filled moment… I love you Chris
Disclaimer : The views and opinions in this post as to various doctors and hospitals are entirely my own based upon my varied experiences with such entities through out the illness of my family members and myself. I have no medical expertise but the life experience of having been there immersed in the world of medicine !
Every third of the month finds me writing your story and trying , as so many mothers try to do, keeping your life from just becoming another HYPHEN in between- 1980- 2009.
We are all forgotten eventually until some researcher of some far-flung future family descendent will
“look us up” . Most will find government documents for their information source. Will there be a version of the internet in those distant future years I don’t know? Most of us have not done anything “notable” to be remembered”.
I am often told , “Everyone has a story” and they are right. Every living thing or being on this planet has a story – even the tiny butterfly I watched after the storm a few days ago . Winds and a deluge of rain whipped the trees into a frenzied dance , newly formed apples were ripped from the branches and pelted down onto the fragile blossoms of summer flowers, battering them into submission. The storm went as quickly and as destructively as it came.
I looked out on the mess that was the front garden , the French Hydrangea ( which everyone despises but me ) was holding more than the blossoms – minutes after the storm a Red Admiral Butterfly was supping from the rain drops left on the leaves. I wondered how this tiny delicate creature could be slaking its thirst, seemingly unscathed , moments after such a turmoil of nature. I wondered at the “story” of the butterfly because he/she too had one. Our stories remain untold unless someone “tells ” it .
For many months I have tried to start “the book” to tell your story . I couldn’t find a place to begin – nothing seemed to work as a beginning. Then, thanks to a facebook post from a writer, I followed a link. The writer used a quote- an epiphany of sorts – so I have begun the book- because you are writing/illustrating this book.
NO LIMITS By Loraine Ritchey
“Nothing should be hidden or untouchable, if it is your truth and you stand behind it – no one should be able to silence you “
Brave words from my son, Christopher, on a fall day, his 4th year at Cleveland Institute of Art. I had met him for a meal in Tremont, Ohio. He was so very angry, one of his projects had met with resistance and indeed censorship. His anger and frustration spilled out:
Why were his thoughts not being accepted in a very community that accepts so much more than the general population? Why would he be censored in the very open environment of an art college where nothing it seemed was untouchable?
I will tell your story Chris– as hard as it is to write the whole of it ….. I will .. and I love you I so miss the in between , because that is all I have of you ………
I have, over these many months, reached out and been reached by other mothers who have lost their young adult sons/ daughters to cancer. Our stories are varied but the ending tragically the same . We are fragmented, no longer whole and trying to find a way out of our hell. We share the horror of having to watch helplessly day after day as the life force slipped away from our child. We lived in hope of miracles, of cures. We endured hours and days and in some cases months of an emotional whirlwind which buffeted us , stretched us to near breaking , testing us and finally destroying all hope until the person we were crashed and burned as a heart stopped.
When reliving the death of their child some mothers will say:
they are so many weeks, months years OUT from the day of the death of their child.
As I read their words – the ones who are out – I envision them leaving the comfort of the home shores of a life they once had , the warmth, love and laughter- a lone sailor – embarking on an unknown sea , a journey hopefully one day coming full circle perhaps back to a place they left – a welcoming place where peace and laughter once more waits or perhaps they will find their world is flat and they will fall off the edge.
Either way they are so many days weeks months OUT from their previous existence, alone for the most part – no matter their faith- locked in a vessel whose sails are whipped by the winds of grief, the tides of tears, steered by despair, safe harbor elusive as laughter that was .
Then there are the mothers who refer to the days following the ultimate terror as being IN from the death of their child.
They too, bring a vision to my mind. I see them in a place, a forest of emotions and loss of hope .I see them as they claw and scratch their way through the briars and brambles of grief; every moment taking them deeper into the darkness of the forest. They too, are trying to move forward to the illusive spot of dappled sunlight which entices them forever to continue their journey “in” . Will they reach the meadows bathed in the sunshine? I hope a hope that is the case for to be trapped in the darkness without the warmth and light is a terrible prison.
Chris, I realized I haven’t thought of being – OUT from your death or even IN – I AM STOPPED! Yes! the days continue to become weeks, the weeks months, the months now years- they mean nothing – they don’t exist for me.
I have not moved- I am rooted – the day of your loss is NOW – time has no meaning – I watch and wait for dappled sunlight or the edge of the world to come to me because I cannot leave you. I am tethered by my love for you – that has not died- the tether is stronger than time – I am just here – it is time that moves – I am walled by a circle of life that cannot be broken
The Memory Ring – Nana
The third day of January – another 3rd -another year – another holiday season was experienced and survived without your smile , without your laughter , your being , your lighting of the Christmas pudding – because you weren’t here and actually neither was the pudding or any other aspect of the holidays in this house .
As we talked , your sister and I, after all the happenings and celebration by those innocents – the children , the dinners, the guests , Nikki pointed out that everything now, about our celebrations, is totally different.
all the traditions she had grown up with were no longer part of our holiday – most of the people who sat around my holiday table had gone- some through passing and some through their own volition.
I knew that first Christmas you weren’t here , Christmas past was never to be Christmas present or Christmas future again……..
I hadn’t realized, until Nikki pointed it out, just how much had changed from those Christmases I had experienced as a child in England. The fun we used to have at my Uncle Mark’s on Boxing Day, the family plays put on by my Auntie Rene and then I saw a picture of Aunt Rene’s son on facebook dressed in a “Christmas tree suit” – his smile and humour touching my heart and flooding me with memories. The ghost of Christmas past dressed in a suit of red long johns and a Christmas tree.( The face has been excluded to protect the guilty 🙂
I tried to bring those traditions of fun , the food, the things I grew up with, here to the United States. I only partially succeeded. We always had the traditional English Christmas dinner, parties, breakfasts , bubble and squeak with the leftovers, cakes, mince pies, the drinks – sweet Sherry- Port and Lemon for my Uncle Mark and the Christmas pudding ( which only two us ever ate) was duly steamed and set alight by you, my Christopher. How you delighted in your job- pouring so much brandy over the pudding that it took forever sometimes to go out.
As Nikki spoke I realized she was right, there was hardly anything at all nothing left of our Christmas past. I think the cable guys who came to once again look at the cable were relieved they didn’t have to move a tree. Had they gone upstairs to Nana’s living room they would have seen at least her “Granny’s Christmas Grotto” the Santa Clauses and presents of Christmas past you gave her on display, your Nana keeps you in her heart and in her Christmas. Nana still makes the chocolate Christmas log you so loved and helps Gavin to a big slice.
Nikki was right , there was nothing much left of our Christmas past– no presents from Santa wrapped in plain red paper, but your Chris- Miss presents were opened on Christmas Eve by such an excited little child- after wishes were made to the flight of Chinese Sky Lanterns. Following of the balloon fish was not repeated this year; a tradition that needed to be deflated 😉 And another little boy watched as his mummy opened his special
( I chose it myself gift)
to his mummy making her smile with delight
I must say Gavin wasn’t enthused at the “boiling of the “named for those who wronged ” lobsters in the pot as you were at the pudding and decidedly stated
ew what are they , why are you eating them – I don’t like lobster”
We did have Christmas Crackers- although Gavin now thinks every time we sit at Nikki’s dining room table for special dinners we always have to pull crackers and wear a crown. New Years Eve dinner was no different and when he realized the table wasn’t set with “crackers” he found the left overs so once again paper hat crowns reigned supreme.
Christmas morning Nikki and Jim have started their own traditions with their little family now including “dirt” who celebrated his first Christmas, and Christmas night was spent with other uncles and aunts and cousins.
The food had changed , the people have changed – but among the tears held back children once again flush with excitement
and new traditions replace the old and I got through it one more time because they had changed………….
When the body sinks into death, the essence of man is revealed.
Man is a knot, a web, a mesh into which relationships are tied.
Only those relationships matter…………” Antoine de Saint-Exupery
December 3rd- my day of infamy– children will be opening their 3rd little box on their Advent Calendar, mothers and fathers, sisters, cousins and friends will take this Monday morning to do their errands, run to the bank, go to work, come home from work, buy presents , send parcels of cakes and cookies to loved ones or celebrate a birthday. Life will happen, it will move and flow and for some it will stop.
I will see your face again as you were taken from us. I will shed the hot tears that burn . I will remember this day as the day when hope and laughter died.
As a little boy helped his mummy trim the tree, I remembered other trees another little boy- and the ghosts of Christmases past and December 3rd.
Nikki, will once again mail the check for your scholarship for Cleveland Institute of Art this December 3rd.
Your dad will walk in the woods( where you so loved to ride your four wheeler) with your nephew and a new little “shadow”.
He will watch the antics of life and fun and remember those times of your laughter and life he shared with you and your Misty.
Nana, will try to keep busy cooking cakes whilst taking furtive glances to see if I am still “upright”. I will try to find a place in this world of chaos where I can once again see your smile and hear your voice.
Childhood living is easy to do
The things you wanted I bought them for you
Graceless lady you know who I am
You know I can’t let you slide through my hands
Wild horses couldn’t drag me away
Wild, wild horses, couldn’t drag me away
I watched you suffer a dull aching pain
Now you decided to show me the same
No sweeping exits or offstage lines
Could make me feel bitter or treat you unkind
Wild horses couldn’t drag me away
Wild horses couldn’t drag me away
I know I dreamed you a sin and a lie
I have my freedom but I don’t have much time
Faith has been broken, tears have been cried
Let’s do some living “after” we die
Wild horses couldn’t drag me away
Wild horses couldn’t drag me away
Wild horses we will ride them someday
Wild horses, wild horses
October has come and gone- I have managed to “share” on the blog the writings of others and their information to keep the blog open- I haven’t been able to write or research or revisit life . I lived many Octobers and lifetimes as I wake each morning in these pastdays of October .
I had a conversation recently with someone who nearly drowned as they experienced white water rafting. The raft threw them out somehow and they then found themselves sucked into a vortex or whirlpool below the surface. Their next experience was being “burped” back up only to find themselves under the raft , again they were sucked down and burped back up to once again find themselves once more under the raft. Running out of air they gave over to the waters and no longer fought the whirlpool however just as they gave in they found themselves spluttering and choking at the surface and arms reaching to grab them.
I am trapped under the raft these past weeks- waiting…….
October 4th I was supposed to attend the CIA Scholarship reception to meet the young lady who was the recipient of this years Christopher Ritchey Scholarship. The past two receptions have been extremely difficult but I managed because I had arms reaching to hold me up.
This time (at the very very last-minute) life got in the way , if I was to attend I was going to have to go alone. I thought
I can do this for Chris – I have been before- I know the pitfalls – I know what to avoid- I can hold this together to honor my son
and so started my journey to CIA.
I knew how to get to CIA all I had to do was go the same way I used to drive to Chris’ old college apartment
but as I remembered the way- I remembered…..the memories of past journeys of laughter , happiness, going to see my son for lunch, dinner to explore his world , to view his art , I saw his face ……
I could feel myself fragmenting, emotionally disintegrating with each mile. I held my breath to stop the tears, the constricting of the heart muscles and chest, the swallowing and gulping of air. Mascara mixed with hot tears burned my eyes and fell dirtily onto my blouse, my hands gripped the wheel with white knuckle intensity .
I was becoming a mess and probably a danger to those on the road with me. I pulled off, opened all the windows, so the cold air would hopefully numb the pain , I turned around and came home the back way ( less traffic).
I fell in my front door , the sight that greeted my mother must have been a shock to her , I exited my car wind-blown , disheveled, unable to speak as now the racking sobs were released once I had parked the car , mascara laced tears blinding me, I rushed to my bedroom closed the door and the world out and gave into the vortex of grief – I wanted no one , I just let the emotions pummel me – there was no stopping the tumult. I raved at the heavens, the injustice, the cruelty, the waste and the missing of my beautiful son and the damnable guilt that once again I had let my son down.
Eventually, after hours of being battered and emotionally bruised and vomiting grief – I slept – only to wake up under the raft. And that is where I have been , through all the good , beautiful, bad, happy and disastrous days of October I am caught under the raft waiting to surface or drown ……
I am not alone, there are others that try to surface and there are those that categorize us- those that know not the path a mother/ father treads… they just THINK they do-
Revolution on Standby: Bereavement and the DSM-5
Please read the full blog post here
As the presidential election approaches, there is a quiet revolution on standby…
We will not remain silent on behalf of the suffering.
The literature is clear: long-term psychological distress is common in this population and other populations suffering traumatic deaths. The psychological distress in the bereaved parent population endures for much longer and is much more intense that other types of bereavement, yet this is congruent and appropriate in anachronistic loss (see Sanders, 1979; DeFrain, 1986; Qin & Mortenson, 2012; Cacciatore, Lacasse, Lietz, & McPherson, in press). Thus, we oppose its pathologization. As an advocacy organization, we feel that the DSM 5 proposal is radical, unnecessary, challenges what it means to be human, and is a dangerous move for our families who are already vulnerable to inappropriate and misguided psychiatric care.