Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pills are Bad

This past weekend was an absolute nightmare. I don't even know where I should begin. I can't start from the beginning because the outcome may seem obvious, but it's certainly not obvious when you are living it.

The story begins on Monday, but I will start on Friday. My husband and I purchased tickets to The Great American Nightmare for opening night. A favorite of ours, Rob Zombie, designed 3 haunted houses based off his movies and was playing a concert for opening night. We had been looking forward to this since we bought the tickets a while back. I hadn't been feeling well most of the day, but I wanted to have a good time, so I tried to get past it. We headed to the venue.  We got there with no issue, parked and got our wristbands and free t-shirts. We went back to the car to drop the shirts off and tailgate a little, then got in line. I only had one beer prior, because I wasn't feeling well. We weren't sure of the order of things, if we do the haunted house first or the concert, none of the information we got stated this. We got inside and were filtered into the concert area, so that answered the question of what came first, clearly it was the concert. Paul asked me to ask someone what was going on, but I thought it was pretty clear. I found a spot I liked but Paul wanted to walk around. I told him to go ahead since I wasn't feeling well. He didn't want to go without me. He insisted I leave my spot and venture around with him. I complied since we had been there for a while and nothing was happening, except for some crappy DJ guy. He asked me again to find out what was going on and my reply this time was if he wanted to know so bad that he should ask someone himself. For whatever reason, he wasn't going to ask. We found the outdoor bar and smoking section. I must say this was nice since it was starting to get hot inside as the people filed in.

While we were outside, he asked me again to find out what was going on. At this point I am annoyed because I was just going with the flow. He was being a bit paranoid about knowing what was going on. He made some small talk with a biker guy, yet didn't ask him what was going on. Then we heard Rob Zombie start, so it became even more clear, what was going on.

I enjoyed the concert once I found a spot I could see from. Paul was bent over the fact that people were taking pictures and videos from their phones and that they weren't as into it as he was. Rob Zombie put on a great show as always. After the show we retreated back to the outside area to cool off. Again, I was asked by Paul what was going on next. I told him we need to get in line for the haunted house. He asked what line. To me it appeared there was only one line. After a beer we went back inside where this line is. The place was a mess, most people didn't know where their line was because the initial line to get in was separated by GA, VIP 1 and VIP 2. At this point, it was just one line, so I got in it. Once again, Paul wants to know what's going on, this time he's pretty angry. I tell him to just get in line, he's refusing. He begins to yell at me. I don't even remember what he said at this point because he was literally humiliating me in front of a crowd of people. This is not something he does, this was not my husband. I saw an evil look in his eyes. He made a threat to leave. I walk away and ask the security guy what's going on and where's the line to the haunted house. He points to the line I just stepped out of and says he really doesn't know what's going on, that this is a total mess. Exactly what I thought. I turn around and Paul is gone. He sends me a mean text and says the keys are at the car.

My husband left me! I was in shock that this was happening. He's never left me anywhere. I got back in line, hoping this was just a threat and he'd come back. I wait and wait. I text a mutual friend, he hasn't heard from him. I text Paul again, nothing. I'm not leaving, I paid for these tickets and I am going to at least use mine and not let Paul ruin my night, even though I am now alone, in line to go through a haunted house, alone.

I made it through the haunted house with some people who took me in, they were actually cool people. I head to the car, hoping he's there. I see evidence that he was there, but alas, he's gone. I'm not shocked, but more disappointed. I have no idea where to even begin to look for him.

While I was in line waiting for the haunted house, I had nothing but time to think. The only reasonable explanation I can come up with is the new meds he's on. The previous Monday, Paul started taking Chantix to quit smoking. There are warnings that this drug can make a person have mood changes and irritability, specifically when there's a history of mental disorders. Paul has never been diagnosed with anything like that. He's had depression and anxiety in the past, but it was always situational (meaning that this is the result of a specific situation or occurrence). This had to be what's going on with him.

It's 1am. I pull out of the parking lot and start to look for him walking and start making my way towards the highway. I don't see him anywhere. I drove through a few gas stations, late night restaurants and even the bar we talked about going to after the event. No where to be found. I text him again offering a truce and a ride home, nothing. I call, nothing. I get on the highway in direction of home. As I get close to home, I am hoping he took a cab and is there. Even if he's mad, I don't care, I just want him home safe. It's almost 2am, I pull in, he's not there. I call our mutual friend again to talk about the situation. He did hear from him, Paul mentioned something about a hotel or a taxi. At least I know he's not wandering the streets aimlessly and delusional. I send Paul another text offering to pick him up, nothing. There's nothing more I can do, so I go to bed. At 4am, I get a text that he's home and going to sleep in the garage and not to bother him. At least he's home and I don't have to file a missing person's report the next night.

I go to pick up my son from my sister's house the following morning and I get another text from him that states, "I won't be taking that medication today. Clearly it is affecting me and I can't handle it." Thankfully he recognized this. I was afraid I would be the one telling him and feared that he wouldn't believe me. After I got home he told me he took a cab home after going to a bar and trying to find a hotel room (most hotels were booked in the area due to the event). He was manic the whole night and this turned into a full blown psychotic episode. He has chunks of time missing from his memory. He said he got home and was hallucinating. Lights were flashing and tarantulas were crawling up his legs. Something in him was telling him to kill himself, but his conscious was fighting him not to. I thank God that he had conscious to tell him not to.

We are lucky to have come out of this unscathed. It could have been disastrous. I could have lost my husband and the father of my child because he was trying to better his life by quitting smoking. If this reaction happens to people, should doctors be writing scripts for this so freely? Maybe there should be a mental evaluation first? Do people really commit suicide because they are taking this medication? Yes, it does happen and I was lucky that it didn't happen to my husband and our family.

I read an article today from November 2013 that states, "In the last five years, 544 suicides and 1,869 attempted suicides have been reported to the FDA as “adverse events” in connection with Chantix, according to documents obtained by America Tonight under the Freedom of Information Act."

Monday, September 22, 2014

Working Mom

Being a Mom isn't easy. Every Mom knows this. Being a working Mom is hard, really, really hard. Last March I took a job that I wanted and desperately needed.

I lost my job the previous October. That job was going downhill anyway, a year and a half earlier my schedule changed to part time. I picked up a waitress job to make up my lost income. Surprisingly, this was a good situation. My once full time job was continuing my insurance and since the waitress job was mostly weekend nights, it gave me extra time with my son. Last July the restaurant closed and my nearly perfect job situation came to an end. I picked up a part time office job. Then in October the company I worked at for 10 years let me go, so I was back to one part time job. I then got another part time job doing Photography, but these 2 jobs weren't getting the bills paid as well, but we were managing. In January of this year, my husband stopped getting work comp checks, so something needed to be done. I started my job search again, in the industry I had been working in for 10 years.

I had several interviews and no job offers that were really worthy, until this one. I now have a great full time job, awesome benefits, paid time off, 401k, good insurance, the works. Only problem, it's 30 miles away in heavy Chicago rush hour traffic. If you've ever been to Chicago during rush hour, you know what I am talking about. Basically, it can take 1-3 hours to get anywhere and no part of driving between 3pm and 6pm is easy. My commute averages between 45 minutes and an hour. I start at 7am and I am done at 4pm, so therefor I am gone from 6am to 5pm, 11 hours a day.

My husband doesn't work, he can't work due to his back injury. He's been a stay at home Dad since he recovered from his last surgery that was in March of 2013. On the outside this seems not far out of the ordinary in this day and age. A child is home with his father, instead of his mother. He's home with a parent. Yes, this is true. But a child has a different bond with his Mother than with his Father. I can't really explain the difference, I just know it's there. Maybe it's because he grew inside of me, maybe it's because a Mother has more nurturing qualities, I'm not sure. Also, my son was small when I was working full time before and was less conscious of my absence on a daily basis. All his needs were being fulfilled. Now, I see my absence effecting him, plus, he tells me. Sometimes before bed he looks at me with his beautiful big blue eyes and says, "Mommy, I don't want you to go to work tomorrow. I want you to wake me up in the morning." When he says this it seriously breaks my heart to pieces. But what can I do? My husband can't work, so I do. I make enough money to get our bills paid. I support my family. I am proud of this accomplishment. Not a lot of families can be supported on one income these days, but I am doing it.

I cherish my evening and weekend time with my family. Sometimes I wish things were different, but this is what it is and this is what it needs to be for now. Paul has some job opportunities on the horizon. I am not sure if anything will pan out or if his body is even capable, we will see how the cards unfold.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Uncle Scott Update

My sister and I met for dinner last Thursday. We opted for sushi since we didn't have the kids or husbands. It was nice to have dinner with just my sister, it doesn't happen often.

After dinner we went to my Uncle Scott's house. People were there, family and friends. Everyone knew the end was near. My sister and I went into his bedroom alone. He was sleeping, likely from the Morphine. We gently woke him up and told him we were there, he mumbled, "Oh, I get a little piece of Kelly and Megan", he mumbled a few more things we couldn't understand, then fell back to sleep.

After my sister left I went back in. I held his hand and said, "I love you" and he replied, "I love you too", then again fell back to sleep. That was the last time I saw him and will ever see him again. Sunday morning, around 8am, my uncle passed away.

His soul will shine forever in our hearts.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Uncle Scott

I think it was this past March when I found out my Uncle Scott was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. This is my Dad's brother. My Dad's family is pretty close. There are 7 of them, ranging in age from 52-70. When I heard the news of his diagnosis, I was sad, I became aware of his mortality, but it's still hard to believe.

My Uncle's had his ups and downs in life. I remember him being around my house a lot as a kid. Him and my Dad always had some kind of project they were working on. It seemed like mostly cars. I knew he drank, seemed like he always wanted to have a good time. I remember him chasing me around my house. He was a handy guy, knew a lot about carpentry and mechanics, just like my Dad and Grandfather. He married his true love, I remember their wedding day. I think I was about 14 years old. They had 2 kids, Tyler and Kelsey. I was in my late teens so it was kind of fun having 2 younger cousins. My parents and I often babysat them. It was fun.

My aunt and uncle never really had it easy. They've both struggled with alcohol addiction (I think drugs too, don't really know for sure), Tyler had brain surgery when he was 3 and Kelsey was born pre-maturely. They live in the house my Grandfather built, in Westmont. Kelsey and Tyler both graduated high school, Kelsey got pregnant before she finished and had a son, Brayden. They both started using heroin before the age of 21. Tyler is now in jail and Kelsey is trying to stay clean.

This week there was an update on Uncle Scott's condition. He's nearing the end of his battle with cancer. At this point his passing would be a blessing. He has a lot of pain. I was going to stop by yesterday after work, but I just couldn't do it. I called my sister instead and told her about my struggles. I want to see him because this will likely be the last time I see him alive, but on the other hand I don't want to see him like this. I know he doesn't look well, he looks like a person dying of cancer. He probably wouldn't know I am there because he's heavily medicated, he will likely be sleeping. I think I should see him before he's gone. I don't want to regret it if I don't. My sister is going to go with me tonight. I don't think I can do this alone.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

This Kid

Lately I have been seeing stories on TV, the internet and in blogs about kids dying. Kids dying from cancer, getting hit by cars, being killed by strangers and family members, school shootings, accidental shootings etc. To be perfectly honest, this scares the living shit out of me.

For instance, I recently read 2 stories about 2 families that both lost one of their children to cancer at age 5;  a Grandmother that killed her 5 month old grandchild with a sledgehammer and carving knife; a 3 year old that shot his 18 month old sibling with a neighbors gun; a 3 year old boy who ran into the street for his Frisbee and got hit by a truck; and on Saturday one of my sister's 7th grade students was found with a self inflicted gunshot wound, it was ruled an accident.

I can only protect my child so much without being paranoid. I still have to let him be a kid. I still have to let him go out in public, go to school, participate in park district activities, go to other people's homes and trust he's in a safe environment. But will he be? How will I know that when he's at someone's house that they have their gun safely locked away? How will I know that a car won't drive by and randomly shoot him? How will I know that he won't just cross a street without looking? How do I know he won't be a victim in a tragic event?

After finding out my sisters student's death was ruled an accident, the first thought that crossed my mind was, "Wow, I can't believe his parents didn't have their gun locked away so this wouldn't have happened." Then my second thought was, "Is my gun even safely locked away?" The second I got home I asked my husband this question, and yes, the gun is locked away where my son could never find it. Whew! At least he's protected from guns in MY home. But there's so much more.

I think I am additionally paranoid because of the fact that he's my only child. I'm sure it's no easier losing a child if you have more than one child, but if you have more than one, you can shift your focus and you are still a parent. If I ever lost my child, that's it, game over. I will NEVER be a parent again. Is this enough of a reason to have another child? I think not. I am not going to have another kid as back up. That just makes no sense to me. Besides, I am getting too old to have more children now anyway.

I hate to sound like a negative nelly, but I also don't want to be naïve and think my child is invincible. I will do my best to keep him safe, but I will also do my best to make sure he lives life to the fullest.

This kid..... is my everything.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

This is MY Life

Something is bothering me so of course I feel the need to blog about it. First things first, things in general are going great. My new job is good, much stress has been lifted and overall I have a new attitude. The only remaining source of stress is now derived by my in laws.

The past several months have been awkward with the in laws. We have attempted to get together with them, but we get denied. We never heard from them about Easter plans, so we did our own thing. Paul saw his brother the night before Easter and no plans were brought up but it was mentioned that there was a family issue. Paul's brother would not go into detail about said issue(s). Then Mother's Day rolled around. We made our own plans because again, no family plans were mentioned to us. Jesse made his Grandmother a gift and a card so we decided to stop by and drop these off. We showed up. It was obvious plans were made with Paul's parents and Paul's sister and her family. Yet again, nothing was mentioned to us. Upon our arrival, my in laws appeared to be in shock that we showed up. They scrambled. Paul's mother said something about not having enough food prepared to serve us dinner, but Paul told her we wouldn't be staying for dinner. Then she pulled a box of chocolates out of her fridge and acted like they were for me, which they clearly were not. She just had nothing else to give me because she was not expecting us to come by. Honestly, this amused me a little.

Since we made other plans for Jesse's birthday and did not see family, we decided to have a BBQ over Memorial Day weekend. I sent my in laws a save the date several weeks ago and email invitations about a week and a half before the party. It was like pulling teeth to get answers on if they were coming. I finally got rsvp's from them. Paul's brother replied yes, then changed his reply to a maybe. My MIL said yes and that she was bringing an appetizer and Jill said no because her furniture was being delivered and her children were out of town.

Paul's parents did come, it didn't seem like they were there very long, she didn't bring an appetizer like she said she would, she brought a small container of potato salad. What I really needed and planned on was an appetizer. She also brought her dog. I would have appreciated a heads up because my dog isn't social with other dogs and it appeared my dog could have and would have attacked her dog at any given moment in time. Luckily, that did not happen.

Paul's brother arrived late, all of our guests had left (and most left early, might I add). He opened up more about the family issues. Apparently, the family does not like that we do not initiate family get-togethers. Yes, I agree that this is something we do not do, but why are we being criticized for something the rest of the family is doing also (or lack thereof). We don't get invites and apparently we are expected to either invite ourselves or just show up.

On Mother's Day we saw what happened when we just showed up. Paul and I aren't the kind of people that invite ourselves over. If you want us around, call and invite us. If you want to see my kid, call me and plan something. If you have an issue with how we do things, talk to us. Something that was said was that we only take Jesse to my in laws house when we need someone to watch him. This in fact, is true. Well, let me correct that and say this WAS true. It's no longer the case. I stopped calling my MIL to watch my son when she told my husband she doesn't babysit children who are 3 and not potty trained. Sorry I didn't have my kid on her potty training timeline. According to her, my husband was potty trained by 18 months so of course my son is expected to do the same (despite the fact that he's had 2 surgeries that delayed his development). She has watched my son since he's been potty trained (once, maybe twice) and apparently it's an issue that he still wets the bed. So again, I stopped calling the in laws for a babysitter. The reason I don't dump my kid off on her when I don't need a babysitter is because I want to spend my time with him. I work full time, why would I give him to someone else when I can spend my time with him, hence why I call her only when I need a babysitter. I thought she/they would enjoy watching my son, apparently I was wrong. I guess they only want to see him when I don't need them to and only when I initiate it.

What strikes me funny is that my in laws bend over backwards to help Paul's sister. I do believe that Paul's Dad babysits the girls 3 times a week. This is just here-say, I do not know this as a fact. I also believe that they take the girls over weekends as well. Why is it ok for Paul's sister and her husband to have Nana and Papa take the kids when they need babysitters, but it's not ok for Paul and I?

I guess I don't know how the Grandparent dynamic should work. I only know what I have experienced in my own life. When I was very young, I lost my Grandfather on my Mom's side and my Grandmother on my Dad's side. Due to the loss of my Grandfather, my Grandmother moved in with my family. She had an in-law apartment that was part of the house I grew up in. My Grandfather on my Dad's side was ill most of my life. My parents spent their time with my sister and I. They rarely got a babysitter. If they did need a babysitter, my Grandmother was there. In my life, there was no such thing as going to Grandma's for the day, night or weekend. My husband has shred with me his Grandparent experiences. It seems as though he went to his Grandparents houses quite often, quite possibly even every weekend. I am not sure why. His parents were young parents, maybe they needed that time to themselves or for a break from kids? I honestly don't know. I am not sure Paul knows either. He does know that he spent a lot of time with them.

I had my son at 34. I had done all I felt I needed to do in my 20's and early 30's before I had a child (which is partially why I waited until my 30's to become a Mother). Now is my time to be a Mother and being a Mother is what I am doing. I also work full time. I am out of the house 12 hours a day, so when I arrive home, I like to spend time with my child and my husband, same goes for weekends. I value the time I get with my child. When both our parents were raising their children, times were much different. Fathers worked and supplied income for the home, Mothers took care of the children and the home. Not only is society much different now, but so is the family dynamic, especially for us. I am the parent working full time to provide income. I also come home and I am a Mother until I leave the next morning for work again. This is a decision I made based on the fact that this is what's best for my family. If I don't offer my son to come to your house, don't be upset with me, just know that I am spending as much time with my son and husband as I can. It's not anything personal against anyone else. I don't take advantage of life, I live each day as if I may not have another day. So pardon me if I am not doing this the way anyone else wants it done. This is MY life and I will live it as I wish.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Three Cousins, Three Birthdays

Jesse's Birthday is March 31st. His cousins, Faith and Christians, are a week before. This year since the weather has been crappy, we chose to post pone a party and head out to our timeshare by Starved Rock for the weekend. I must say, this was a good choice. We headed out Friday night, celebrated Faith's birthday (since it was that day), Saturday we went to the pool and the kids played in the condo (it was cold and crappy out), Sunday we went to breakfast then Starved Rock and Monday we headed back. A fun weekend had by all.



Monday, March 24, 2014

Good Things Happening

Last time I posed things looked pretty bleak. I was scared. Due to my fear I reached out to a company called Bella Baby Photography. They took the newborn photos of Jesse in the hospital when he was born. I thought it was a long shot, but it couldn't hurt to try and find out what they were all about. I sent a generic email to the company and low and behold, they were hiring and conducted a phone interview right away. A few days later I was in their studio for a formal face to face interview. They offered me a position on the spot. I was absolutely thrilled. The catch? They only hire for part time and there are no benefits. I figured since I didn't have anything else, that I would give this a try, I had nothing to loose. I was absolutely in love with the fact that I could call myself a professional photographer but I was also a bit scared about the newborn baby thing and living up to the Bella standards.

I went through the training with Bella for 2 days, I shadowed a photographer for one day and I worked with a senior photographer one day. After that, I was on my own! The initial plan was to do this for a while and eventually branch out in the Spring and start my own photography business. It was a good plan, but unfortunately, it just didn't happen that way. I loved my job with Bella. I loved working with the babies and the parents who were excited about their new bundle of joy, but the honest truth was that it was not getting the bills paid. This was the type of job that doesn't pay hourly, it's commission only. The newer photographers are scheduled at the slower hospitals that get a lot of customer declines while they get through the learning curve. It just wasn't enough. I got some additional training and I was getting good at this, but it just wasn't enough to support my family.

After the start of the new year I decided to start looking for full time work again. My idea about branching out and starting my own photography business was just not going to happen. We would starve and be homeless if I pursued that. Not saying I was incapable of running a successful business, I just didn't have the financial resources for the start up. I was contracted by a broker in the real estate community to help with some post broker even work. I happily accepted. By doing this side job, I was able to get names and contact information for over 600 professionals in the commercial real estate community. Many of them I knew of previously, but it's not an easy task recalling everyone you've ever met in the industry. This got my wheels turning as well and I started cold calling and emailing brokers and companies within the industry. I managed to procure 3 interviews from this. After one of my interviews, I met up with a good friend in the industry for lunch. After I told her about my prospects she asked me if I was interested in working for her company.... in Rosemont. There is a guy in her office that really needs help and they needed someone to do the general office management duties. Ouch, Rosemont is far from me. I told myself I wouldn't work in the city, Schaumburg or Rosemont. I would consider Schaumburg or Rosemont if the money was right. It would have to be worth it.

Some time went on and I thought a lot about working in Rosemont and my friend gave me a ballpark number as to what to expect as far as salary was concerned. I had a minimum number in my head and her estimate was pretty close to that. She told me that the girl in my position previously made just a hair short of the minimum I had in my head, then she told me that I had much more experience than her, so I should be able to make more. I told her that I was very interested and she would get the ball rolling. No one had been in this position for over a year and a half, that no one was really needed in the position until recently. They hadn't even put the position in the annual budget. I met with the man who the position would be under and we got along just fine. Then we got approval from the Vice President in the same office. Last step was getting corporate approval. Within a month of this just being an idea, it happened. I got an offer to work for this company and the salary met my minimum requirement. I took the job and I couldn't be happier with my decision. I had some other offers from the interviews I had before this came about, but those were $7-$10k per year less. Plus the hours were not flexible with the other company and I would be contributing to insurance, losing more income. The job I accepted has flexible hours (I can work 7-4 and avoid most of the rush hour traffic), insurance paid 100%, a small office (which is what I'm used to) and they are even giving me $276/month for an allowance (to use towards additional insurance, dependents or as taxable income).

I started last week and the company is great, the people are great and the commute isn't as bad as I thought. I think this is a step in the right direction. I'm happy things are finally going in a positive direction.