When you have to eat a Frog.

Hello Everyone. I thought I’d tie up some loose ends and throw a few thoughts out into the universe. Okay, my blogging has been all over the place and this may be occurring because of an obvious reason, which was not so obvious to me. I may have mentioned as an aside that my daughter is having neurosurgery to remove a tumor in her middle ear. Okay, this is not an aside anymore. This is kind of big deal. This is really happening.

I’m going to stop my avoidance behavior for a moment and hit this thing straight on. I have not yet met with my daughter’s surgeon. I did go with her to her previous appointments when she was having pain in her ear, dizziness, and vertigo. There were a few unsuccessful attempts to remove impacted wax, in which we had to continue the process at home. She was given antibiotics and mineral oil. We were not new to these techniques. Ear rinses and steroid drops had become a part of her normal routine. She’s had ongoing ear problems for a long time.

There is something else that I must mention. My daughter and I were too close to a lightning strike when she was only four years old. We were fishing at a lake that was at a higher elevation. The Henry Mountains were off in the distance, and I could see a storm system brewing over them. It was an overcast day and it started sprinkling a little bit. I decided it would be best if my daughter and I started walking towards the truck.

As we were walking, my daughter noticed a little tiny frog on the ground. As a child she was always obsessed with things like rolly-pollies, frogs, and grass hoppers. She was the type of girl who’d let a lizard crawl all over her. This picture was taken just this summer. She’s never really grown out of it, and I so love her for that.

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Here’s a rule for lightning safety: If you feel static in the air, crouch down, and put your hands over your spine and neck. That frog may have saved our lives.

Anyway, as we were crouching down to look at this frog, everything happened so fast. It’s hard to remember the sequence. I remember my husband standing there with his fishing pole, and a streak of lightning tearing through the sky. I remember my husband saying, “Whoa did you see that?” Just then there was a loud explosion behind me, and it’s like there was a huge purple flash and the air smelled like it does when your dryer catches on fire. The explosion was so loud, I almost did not hear it. My ears were ringing and my head felt numb. It felt like two bullets flew out both of my ears.

I swear there was a moment where I saw my daughter’s hair standing up. I heard her crying and she was saying that “bad guys were shooting her in the neck.” I stood up and suddenly felt jolted. It was like the ground was painful to stand on, and I felt a sharp pain in my spine. The next thing I knew, there was screaming and I was thrashing around on the ground. Then it occurred to me…Oh my god the screaming is coming from me. I reached for my daughter who was also in a panic and all I could think was,  “I need to pull it together and we need to get out of here.” The screaming was some knee jerk reaction from being shocked that I cant’ explain. There’s no drill for this.

I swooped her up, possibly stumbling a few times, and did not grab for anything else. My husband was far enough away that he was grabbing his fishing supplies but the entire scene had him completely shaken. In my mind we were on the brink of a huge electrical storm and I thought that we’d be hit with another lightning strike any second. I almost questioned his judgement, carrying a metal fishing pole.

I barely had my wits about me. I was still in my panic phase. I remember having enough wits to tell my husband to keep some distance between us because if we were hit with another lightning strike one of us might have to go for help. The whole time I was trying not to terrify my daughter anymore than she already was, but there was no way to communicate this information quietly. I remember the only words I could offer her were “We’re almost to the truck, we’re almost to the truck.”

As I was carrying her, one of her shoes fell off. She was reaching out her arm, as if becoming fixated on the shoe would distract her from the heaviness of what was really going on. I remember her saying, “I dropped my shoe, I dropped my shoe,” and I was saying, “We can’t worry about that right now. We’ll get it later.” The truck was not that far off, and I thought we’d never get there. My legs felt like rubber, and I know I was completely shaking.

Once we got inside the truck, we did not linger. There were no cabins, there was no cell service. There were many switchbacks we had to go down. It would take us at least 45 minutes to get off the mountain. My husband kept driving as we tried to gather ourselves. We were trying to distance ourselves from that location as fast as we could, and get down to a lower elevations immediately. We were talking rapidly about what had happened and what we had experienced. By the time we were almost off the mountain we were actually laughing because we knew we weren’t going to die, or we’d be dead by now.

I had to explain to Kira that nobody was trying to shoot us, that the lightning had no vendetta and that it was an act of nature and that none of it was personal. I gave her the best lesson on lightening that I could and we went over it for weeks later.

My head felt completely magnetized. My daughter said her head felt the same. My ears felt sensitive and like there was some residual ringing. I felt completely nauseous. I knew she must be feeling the same. Later, we had our ears checked. Despite the ringing in the ears, the magnetized feeling in the head, and the nausea we were experiencing over the next few days, everything else checked out fine. Thank god we weren’t close enough to have any burns or weird heart arrhythmias. I swear my hair seemed extra witchy, but my hair always seems extra witchy.

So, the only other long-term side effects we have had ever since has been trouble with our ears. Doctors can not explain it. The ringing, the occasional vertigo, and the troubles we have had with our ears pressurizing have just kind of been our norm ever since. We both love to swim, but we pay dearly for it every time we do, and we have to always remember to insert gum every time we fly or we pay for that too.

I can’t say if the problems that my daughter is experiencing now are related to this or not, or if the whole entire thing is just a fluke. This happened 16 years ago. It seems so random. The type of tumor my daughter has is mostly seen in women over 50. Her tumor is benign and  slow-growing. It’s unknown how long it has been there, and there’s been a great deal of guilt involved because we may have caught this sooner if we weren’t just thinking this was just part of the norm since the lightning incident.

The pain really escalated after we took a trip to Florida and she was hit in the ear by a wave. After the usual trips to the insta care, and their methods of treatment that were not helping, we took her to see another ENT. That is when we found out she has a tumor in her middle ear that went beyond his scope so she was sent to another ENT who specializes in neurology.

I’m going to stop saying “my daughter” now and use her name. Her name is Kira Lisa. Her first name has elements of her grandmother’s name who passed away a few years ago from a brain tumor.  Kira’s middle name comes from my former sister-in-law, Lisa, who died three months before Kira was born. Kira looks so much like her too that it’s uncanny.

With all of the above, I have this underlying fear in my head, that just seems so superstitious and irrational. I just recently lost my cousin Kelly over Christmas. His name was Kelly Rex. I took it really hard because it just seemed like he was one of those children who got lost in the shuffle of adult problems and he spent a lot of time at our home growing up.

He and my sister were really close in age and had the same last name. They were Kelly and Camie. Everyone thought that they were twins because they grew up in the same town and went to the same school. Kelly thought the world of my brother and when my brother was in a serious motor cycle accident, Kelly was right there with me when he was in the ICU.

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Kelly, Camie, and Grandpa Rex

We all took it pretty hard when we lost Kelly over Christmas. This was the first time that I knew that his full name was Kelly Rex. I knew that Kelly was named after my dad’s brother Kelly who had died at fifteen. It just seemed so sad that both Kelly’s would die so tragically at such a young age. My grandpa Rex died years ago, and now that Kelly is gone, I can’t say I’d ever name a son Kelly, knowing what I know now.

I guess you can see where I am going with this…having my daughter’s diagnosis so close to Kelly’s death and her having the same name as her grandmother and aunt who are also both gone makes me feel uneasy. I scarcely dare speak it. It’s just been eating at me. It feels silly just writing this down.

Okay, so my daughter has a tumor that is wrapped around two of the tympanic bones in her middle ear. It’s been affecting her hearing and causing dizziness and balance issues. If  nothing is done, this could even cause facial paralysis. Her surgeon is optimistic that it can be removed and that her hearing can be preserved. Like any neurosurgery, it has its risks. Hello…your hearing organisms are attached to your brain. This is brain surgery. Okay neurosurgery. It just sounds better. See…how one’s mind can go on a tangent with this? I so can not let myself go on a tangent with this.

need to listen to her surgeon because google and Web MD are enough to scare the daylights out of anyone. Sometimes I wish they did not exist, as well as all the little possible risks and side effects that they give on the paper hand out. I need to be calm so my daughter can be calm. We are doing her surgical consult on Friday.

This is the thing. It seems like everyone is dragging their feet in this. She had a trip planned with her sister to Hawaii and it was agreed between her and her surgeon that she should go to Hawaii and spend time with her sister, than we would do this. My daughter cancelled her last surgical appointment. I’d been on her to reschedule and she told me it was rescheduled for the fifth of March.

I became concerned when her Doctor was not getting in touch with her and nobody was calling with surgical instructions. She admitted to me that she lied and never made the appointment because she wanted to get everyone off her back. I can only do so much because she is over eighteen.

A few nights ago, we had a rather morbid conversation. She’s become pessimistic about life and the afterlife, this was a new Kira for me. I can’t be upset with her. I can’t blame her for not wanting to run into surgery when her new normal may change after this or when there are risks that could leave her with a possible disability, among other things.

Her surgeon says it is possible that her tumor could grow back and she could have this surgery a few times There is also the prospect of doing radiation to cut off the tumor’s blood supply at a later time. Can I blame her for not wanting to start this process? No, I can not. The thing is we are running out of time. This is our window. Waiting will not make it go away. This surgical approach is less dangerous.

I don’t think either of us have had ourselves a good cry. We’d been experiencing anger, denial, distraction techniques and everything else. Her anxiety is increasing because she can’t run away from it. When she does, it catches up to her. I’m also reminded of a saying that my neighbor from Texas used to say, “If you’re going to eat a frog, you might as well eat it. Don’t stare at it too long.”

Easier said than done, and I can’t do this for her.

I talked to her yesterday. There’s a mourning process to all the hard things in life. There is shock, there is denial, there is anger…you can swing between all of them. They don’t always happen simultaneously. What she hadn’t done is cry. I told her it’s okay to be upset. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to cry. We just can not ignore this any longer. She’s tried so hard to conceal her feelings. We decided that we both could use a good cry and we’ve cried.

I’m really seeing the importance of filling ourselves with all the positive things we can before her surgery. Her especially. You can’t always carry the weight of everything.  A good cry can be cleansing when needed and long over due.We’re going to the Tulip festival and making a list of all the healing things we can do before surgery to occupy the time. She’s been going to the gym every day, which she says helps, and I’m going to start going with her.

Friday, I am going with her to her surgical appointment and it’s a little unnerving. I’m not the one this is happening to. It’s all on her, the choices she’s making, and its her body. I can only do SO much and I hate that. This devastates me as a mother. I want my daughter to be equipped for this.

There is another part to this. Kira and her brother are both on the autistic spectrum. In some ways Kira is twenty, and in other ways she is not. I’m seeing that her rationale may not be where it should be or maybe even mine for that matter. At one time,  it was thought that my son may have a neurological disease that includes the type of tumors that Kira is experiencing now.

We’ve discussed this with her doctor, and we may be revisiting this possibility later. It is unusual for someone her age to have this type of tumor. We can only address this one thing at a time. If this is genetic, it most likely comes through me. A genetic disorder that may be hovering has also been a little unsettling.

It was not my intention to put anyone on a downer. I just did not feel like I could skirt around this issue anymore and keep writing. Writing has always been my solace. It has got me through some pretty rough times. This is a pretty rough time. I had to address the elephant in the room. I can admit that now. I’m having a little rough patch over here.

I may be reclusive or sporadic over the following weeks. I have no idea what the future holds, but my deepest wish is that sometime in the near future I can re-read this and say…It was all nothing, or it was something, but things are all okay. I am in my last semester in school and I’m worried because I may not be as stoic as I thought and unpacking all of the nuances of Beowulf has been a little overwhelming.

Why all this so close to the finish line? Does it really matter? What was I thinking? Can I do this right now? Should I be doing this right now? In the grand scheme of things, how important is this?

I also could not leave without another bit of news. You can make four ingredient beer bread with Bud-light. It tastes like a biscuit in bread form. On Sunday, I made my family a meatloaf shaped like a hedge hog, which is weird because I’m working on eating a plant-based diet. I guess I needed to lighten the mood and my plant based diet is the least of my concerns right now. Serving it was probably my declaration of this.

So…I served my family this meatloaf that had onion pieces and yellow peppers sticking out of it. It was definitely a Pinterest fail. The onions burned on top, I did not have olives for the eyes. I used craisins. The whole thing looked like a rat. It was okay smothered in barbecue sauce. I don’t know if I  would make it again. I’m working on my plant-based diet again and making a lot of fruit and veggie smoothies.

On another note, I have not watched the news for a week now and I discontinued a social media account where most of my news was coming in. It was the best thing I could have done. I feel more present for my family.  I’m more on an even keel. My mood is not fluctuating with current events, which I so did not need right now. The news is just going to have to go on without me right now and it most certainly will.

There is another thing…social media will provide unhealthy escapism when you don’t need it. If you are reading about social media cleansing right now, it is to true, there is definitely something to it. I recommend it.

As writers we are told to embrace social media, but right now, as a person, I can not. (Minus this little blog of course).  Everything about this new way of writing and communicating makes me question wrapping up my English major. Can’t we just take it back to old school?

No, not really, and I’m just discovering this now? The truth is I can’t live without the humanities. I need the humanities to flourish in life. I don’t even want to imagine a world without the humanities. I’m okay with my English major. It has enriched my life. The humanities are diminishing. I can’t let that happen. I may be teaching Beowulf and story telling to future generations because I won’t let the humanities and literature die out.

And…one final update. My son who is on the autistic spectrum? The one I signed up for lacrosse? He is doing great. I had my doubts at first, but really, so far, it’s been the best thing I could have done. I think it has enriched his team members also. There were a few bad days, and there may be a few more…but we’ve been definitely having more good days than bad days.  He has a game tonight and my daughter is coming.

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I leave you with this lovely picture. This is her and her boyfriend Lucas. This is how her life is supposed to be right now if only life were so fair. Blissful youthfulness and young love. Isn’t that what social media is pitching these days? If I just posted this on social media everyone would believe it was true. Nobody should be facing the prospect of a tumor at twenty years old, or any age for that matter. It’s okay for me to admit that I am a little pissed about this. Real life has its nuances but it still can be beautiful in its real state. I also have to  mention that Lucas has been a great support person for Kira. WE CAN DO THIS. WE CAN DO HARD THINGS.

Until next time…thanks for listening:)

XO

Rachelle Whiting

 

 

 

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