Sunday, December 14, 2014

Day 559

December 14, 2014

Day 559

What a week it has been.  And I don't mean that in a good way!  I'm not even sure where to start...

I'm struggling.  I know I've mentioned this numerous times already as we've moved into the holiday season, but I really am.  I am becoming convinced, though, that it's not all emotion and grief and loss.  I was talking with a nurse friend yesterday, describing what's going on and she said, "This is totally menopausal stuff."  I haven't had a single hot flash yet so I'm probably a number of years away from having the whole process over and done with, but it is nice to know that there may be a reason why I'm such a mess.

That's one component.  The other is loss and that's very real right now.  Very real.

I am not much of a crier, by nature.  But the skin around my eyes is chapped right now.  Friday I sobbed, off and on, for about 5 hours straight.  I do not cry in front of the kids by design.  I don't want to freak them out. They need the stability of knowing that Mom is ok, which means they are going to be ok, too.  So, sometimes that cork just pops.

Everything has just been building to a crescendo inside me.  I went a week with a migraine, which was not helpful.  More than likely, it was hormone-related, I realize now.  I'm figuring out my future and I find that I am mourning  afresh the loss of the plans Paul and I had.  It breaks my heart that my younger kids are not going to have the stability of a stay-at-home mom and that I probably will not be homeschooling much longer.  I worry about money.  I have teenager issues - normal stuff, but stuff I'd sure prefer to pass off onto a dad.  I feel tremendous pressure about vehicle and home maintenance stuff.  It's all there and it all builds inside and even though well-meaning friends toss Bible verses my way, it is hard to grab onto them at times.

And there's just the ever-present grief, as well.  I miss him.  When will that stop?

Friday I was scheduled to meet with Marcia for our normal Bible study.  I got in my van for the 22 minute drive and wasn't even out of our little city before the tears started.  I cried all the way to church.  I   climbed up the steps to Marcia's office and she asked, "How are you doing?" and I began to cry harder.  She held me and I just sat in there and cried and cried for an hour straight.  And I cried all the way home, but managed to pull myself together for the kids.   But I spent a lot of time in my bedroom that night, so they wouldn't see me because those tears just wouldn't stop.

This morning Marcia asked if I had gotten all the tears out and wouldn't  you know it - my eyes began to well up immediately and I just prayed nobody else would ask how I was doing as I went to get my coat and the kids.

I hate this.  I want to be strong, but wet eyes have a way of making me feel very weak, worthless, and vulnerable.  I want to be that person everyone looks at, nods, and agrees that she has it all together.  Why, look at the terrible things that have happened in her life, but she's so strong, regardless!  Instead, I'm a hot mess of tangled emotion, tears, and hampered decision making.

And, apparently, I'm also stressed.  Or so I've been told.  My friend, Jenny, gave me some lotion last week from Bath and Body, called "Stress Relief."  I love it.  It smells so good.  I keep it on the shelf right inside my bedroom door and whenever I walk in, I put some on my hands.  David saw that and commented, "Well, it's a good thing she gave that to you because everyone knows you're so stressed!"  What?

Then, Monday, my friend, Deb was here because she's going to start working with Ben for his SCL services and she earnestly told me, "I know you have so much stress in your life and I want to help."  And then later in the week, our mayor told me, "Sarah, you have too much going on in your life right now!" and then he insisted on setting up a play date later in the week for his daughter and my girls who are all about the same age.

The truth?  Yes, there is stress.  But, I don't think I'm drowning in it.  Maybe.  Or it's more of of factor than I recognize yet.

But the nice thing is that people care.  I could be going through all this and I could be alone, which would be far, far worse.

Yesterday, a sweet teen from church came home with us from program practice.  She did all my Christmas wrapping, which is a LOT of presents when you have a big family.  I had supper ready for the kids and for the hunters, but she cooked it all so I could leave the house for a few hours.  She washed my dishes and swept my kitchen floor, and bathed the girls and even washed and detangled their hair, which is a big job.  This morning Lizzie informed me that she wishes Arien could do her hair every time because "she's gentle Mom - not like you.  You YANK, YANK, and YANK my hair!"


The kids are having fun with the gifts from Amanda the Panda.  Every day they excitedly ask who gets to open one today.  They're all buried now underneath the other presents.  I'll have to have the kids dig them out.  Ellie was given a 24 pack of play dough for one of her gifts from them.  My first thought was, "Somebody there really must hate me..."

I am not a fan of playdoh.  It gets in carpeting.  It gets in clothing.  Kids mash the colors together which always upsets another, neater child.  It dries out.  But the Littles all had a ball with it.  But Sam did get upset when the the girls seemed to prefer gooping all the different colors together and even hid the containers of the colors he was interested in so the girls couldn't mess them up.  So, against my better judgement I bought him his own 24 pack of playdoh this week and now it's wrapped up and under the Christmas tree.

I'm a good  mom.


I finally called my neurologist on Tuesday because after six days, my headache was not letting up.  He said he didn't think I was in any danger of another stroke, but I probably should do something to get rid of the headache and he recommended I get an infusion.  I had never heard of such treatment.  I have heard of migraine shots, but not IVs.  As time goes on, I am losing a lot of my faith in the entire medical profession.  I questioned the nurse who called me back on Tues, explaining about the possibility of the infusion.  I asked if this was something that I would need a driver for.  She said, oh, she really didn't think so.  But then she mentioned that benedryl is given first.  I've taken benedryl before and I know how it affects me!  If a couple of pink and white capsules can make me a little loopy I could only imagine what benedryl flowing directly into my veins might do.  So I called Will and he was willing to drive down after classes on Wed and take me to the hospital.

On Wednesday, I set up the appointment at the hospital because I still had a headache.  They told me that I would need to sign an agreement stating I would pay anything insurance wouldn't cover.  I said that was fine, but asked how much the procedure typically runs.  The nurse said she wasn't sure, but thought it was just a few hundred dollars.  Oh, well, that's fine.  I'm willing to pay a few hundred dollars to get rid of a week-long headache. 

So Will and I arrived and they hooked me up to the IV and then handed me the paperwork.  To my horror, I saw that the drugs were just a few hundred dollars, but the nursing care was being billed at nearly $1500!  I didn't know what to do.  I already had this needle in my arm, but if my insurance doesn't pay, then I'm going to get a nearly $1800 bill.  I seriously thought about pulling the needle out and leaving. 

But then I'd still have a headache.  And what if my neurologist was wrong?  What if this prolonged headache meant I was going to have another stroke?  I can only imagine the devastation to my family if I became incapacitated by another stroke.  So I went through with the procedure.

It was horrible.

I hope I never have to endure this again.  I was told the entire procedure would take 30 minutes, tops.  I was there for over two hours.  The meds made me sleepy at first, but that quickly turned to jitteriness.   My heart raced and literally, for nearly the entire time, my body shook uncontrollably as I laid in the recliner.  My emotions were on edge and I remember feeling like I just wanted to wail out loud about over Paul, which is something I haven't done since about day two on this widowhood journey - lots of tears, certainly, but no loud sobbing.

But - the procedure did shake the migraine that had such a ferocious grip on my skull.  I came home and dozed for the next three hours on the loveseat.  Why I picked that and not the couch where I could stretch out, I have no idea.  David and Will did a great job of keeping the Littles occupied downstairs.

I went to bed early and the next day I felt a little more back to normal but it wasn't until late afternoon of that day, a full 24 hours after the infusion, that I felt completely myself again.


So, I'm already sick about the possibility my insurance may  not cover this treatment.  I had a dentist appointment the next day and went to that.  I've had a broken molar since late May and have known that it will have to be taken care of.  I've just been praying I could live with it until Jan. 1 when my dental insurance will start to cover things.  The dental office laid out my options.  I can attempt a crown which will be $1000, after insurance.  But they don't think that's going to work because there's not a whole lot of tooth left and it's broken right at the gum line.  They're really pushing for an implant which will be $3000, after insurance.  I'm leery about the idea of putting something artificial into my body, as well as spending that much money.  I could do a bridge, for the same money, but that's putting a lot of stress on teeth that already have fillings and could break, themselves, at some point.

The idea of spending all this money on my mouth just sickens me.  I think I'm going to visit another dentist and  seek a second opinion before committing to anything.  I like these people at my dental office and don't want to hurt their feelings, but $3000 is a LOT of money.

But, along those same lines I did have something encouraging happen the same day.  In June I had to go to endodentist for something - a root canal, maybe?  I can't remember but it was something my dentist didn't want to touch and since the waiting period on my insurance wasn't up, I'd be responsible for all of it.  But I was dying and couldn't not have the work done.  I got the bill in late summer, wrote the check, but just didn't feel a peace about mailing it.  Probably because it was over $800!  So it sat on my desk and it sat.  I finally called the office this fall and asked if they would give me a discount if I paid in cash (rather than make payments).  They said no.  So I let the bill sit some more, not really sure what to do.  I know I had a responsibility to pay, but at the same time I didn't want to pay the whole thing.  I finally received a letter a couple of weeks ago letting me know that my account was dangerously past due, which I knew, of course.  I thought some more.

And last week I finally sent them a letter.  I explained that I wanted to clear my account, but I was a bit baffled by their attitude of not wanting to accept less money.  I know how collection agencies work.  Typically, creditors lose 2/3 of the money owed to them in collection fees.  I pointed out to the office that I knew this and that it made not a whit of difference to me if I paid them directly or if I paid whatever collection agency they would eventually turn over my account to.  As a business owner, surely it would make more sense to accept a little bit less money up front. I offered to pay them 90% of the bill. I figured I didn't have anything to lose by sending the letter.

I had a voice mail on Thursday.  The office would be happy to accept the amount I offered.

I should have offered less!


My attorney called Friday.  We have a court date on Jan. 9 for Ben's guardianship.  He is being appointed his own attorney by the court.  I am getting very nervous as to what this is all going to cost me in the end.  I envisioned a simple, quick, legal procedure and instead, it sounds like I have to go to court, armed with a doctor's statement, and prove that Ben is incapable of acting in his own best interests and that I should be allowed to do what I have been doing all along.


I went to a dinner for single mothers last night with my friend, Sarah.  I arrived first so I sat in the parking lot and watched the other women exiting their cars and going into the church.  I thought to myself, "All these women are in the same boat I am in!" and it was both comforting and distressing. 

The dinner was nice and I enjoyed my time with Sarah.  I think the organization is called, "Single Parent Provision" and it seems like a really, really nice thing they've put together.  They just want to minister to the single mom.  We had the dinner, there were give-aways, and games, and a video, and at the end a group of ladies got up and led the attendees in a rousing version of "Overcomer" by Mandisa, which has been a strengthening song to me in the last year and a half.

But, still...there were things that bothered me.  I observed some of the women at the dinner.  Some looked downright cheap in their attitude and appearance and honestly, it wasn't a huge surprise to me that they were parenting solo.  I was the only widow at my table and I understand that.  Widowhood at my age is still pretty unusual.  All the women were talking about custody battles and visitation agreements and legal fees.  One turned to me and asked how many kids I had and I told her.  She gulped and exclaimed, "Well, is your ex a help at least with all of them?"  I was so startled by her question that blurted out, "Well, no - he's dead!"  That gal didn't have a whole lot else to say to me all night!  Later, one of the women at the table commented that I was "lucky" to not have all the stresses they had with their divorces and my friend, Sarah, was quick to point out that widowhood brought it's own share of stress and pain.  That was nice of her.

But it's true.  In many ways I am fortunate in the loss of my spouse.  Most single moms are dealing with a great deal of stress in dealing with their former husbands or boyfriends.  They don't have the cushion of a life insurance policy and they have children that have been terribly wounded by the break up of their family.

The woman who started this organization shared her story and hers was that she had a baby out of wedlock.  That pregnancy was what caused her to turn back to the Lord and she had a nice testimony.  Another woman shared how God used the pain of her two divorces to really bring her to Him.  I sat there and I thought, "I'm not like these people!"

I'm not.  I don't know that that fact makes me better than anyone, though.  I may have arrived at the road of Single Parenthood in a different and more unusual fashion, but I'm still traversing the same path they are.

And that makes for a commonality.  Like it or not, I'm here.  God has placed me on this road, even though I did nothing to get here myself.  And if He has me here, then I need to trust that there is something along this road that He needs me to learn.

And while I'm learning, He will be providing the strength, grace, comfort, and provision that I need.

I have to keep reminding myself of this.












  1. I gave your blog address to my friend locally who just lost her husband on Saturday. So much of what you say may resonate. But of course, she has her own journey and things will be different for her because everyone is unique. But I was thinking about the whole "young widow" thing. Yes, very unusual. Most single parents have a living other parent out there somewhere, sometimes supportive, often causing grief. You and my friend are now sadly flying solo as parents. Bless you both. You are both in my prayers.

  2. Hi Sarah! Thanks for sharing your journey, both the ups and downs. There is much that I will never experience but it helps me understand a little more when I read it from your perspective. But there are some things that resonate with me because of my 20+ years as a single adult. There are great differences between the widowed, the divorced and the never-married (which I was up until age 44) but there is also a bit of common ground in their singleness, tears being one that comes to mind right now. I lost count of the number of nights I cried myself to sleep over the years, yearning for the love, companionship, protection, etc. of a husband, but there was always that glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel that I would some day find someone to marry. My pain seemed so intense at that time, but when I read of Paul's death I couldn't imagine (and still can't) what you must be going through with the loss of your actual husband (not just a figment of your imagination) with whom you have built a real family and life together! Yesterday, I experienced a mini-waterfall of tears. It was like you described, not being able to hold them back but it was only for a half hour or so. My husband started talking about how his daughter's childhood had just flown by. And the tears came. At first I thought it was in empathy for him, but I soon realized I was grieving the children I never carried, gave birth to and raised. Again, I think of the parents who have lost their real children (unlike my dream children), whether as miscarriage, stillborn, infant death or even later in life. When I imagine my pain magnified over and over, my compassion for people increases! Sorry if I got rambling, Sarah, but know that my prayers are with you and your family today and very often, whenever God brings you to mind!