Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Liberating Plankton, Part 3: The Finale

Up until this surgery, my biggest stressor regarding anesthetic was the whole waking up and feeling like you had just closed your eyes and having lost time where you don't remember a damn thing. Like, it would freak me out to just think about it. But this time I didn't have that bewildered "Where TF am I?" panic moment upon waking. Again, I think that was another little knuckle bump from God.

So last we left me in the capable hands of "Guy Who Smelled Amazing and Had the Go-Go Juice In His Possession."

I woke up a couple hours later and, when asked, reported my pain as a 5. Post-Op Nurse Craig (who smelled almost as good as OR guy) (what's with these hospital guys smelling so dang amazing?) said, “Well, let me get you some Dilaudid for that.”

Y’all. I am 100% convinced still, six weeks later, that a magical sparkly unicorn delivered that blessed medicine to me right there in the recovery room. Soon my pain subsided to a 3 and apparently the goal was ZERO because I got even MORE of it. More unicorn. More awesome. The only thing that could've possibly made it better was if Deadpool himself had delivered it on that magical unicorn.

Turns out, there was a slight complication during surgery. The plan had been to remove the dastardly uterus and leave both ovaries which had appeared 100% normal in the ultrasound. Once he got in there, he discovered the left ovary had a big ol' cyst on it. And still, his plan was to simply remove the cyst and leave the ovary. Then, that ovary, who had probably been colluding with the evil uterus and was a full-fledged member of The Dark Side, decided to hemorrhage. Yes, actually hemorrhage. He tried to cauterize it. It wouldn't stop. He was considering an anti-coagulant, but given my Factor V, decided to not do that (thank God). So that ovary got evicted. There was also an almost-complication with my bladder, but just as he had called in the urologist, things rectified themselves and that was that.

I got the post-op report a week or so later. I had Adenomyosis, an ovary riddled with cysts, a shortened Fallopian tube, and an angry/inflamed cervix. So you could say, it was a gynecological shit show up in there.

I'm just glad it's all gone. I've since gone back to work (new job), my hormones seem to be doing a fair job of behaving (thanks to some Maca root) and I feel 900% better than when I was bleeding to death --or recovering from bleeding to death-- three weeks out of every month.10 out or 10, highly recommend. Go get ya a hysterectomy. You won't regret it. 

And every night in my dreams I search for the magical Dilaudid unicorn and well, as I typed that I realize that makes me sound slightly deranged, so yeah, forget I said that.

Liberating Plankton, part 2

Oh GAH! I told you I was going to TRY to be better at writing. Yeah, apparently I'm failing again. In my defense I started a new job last week, so hush.

So to continue.....

So surgery date scheduled, I had a lot of stuff to do. I am a worrier, a fretter, a preparer by nature. I try to be better about this, but sometimes it's just how I am. Kady and I sat down and made a menu for the first two weeks post-surgery. If it were up to her it would've been 14 solid days of frozen pizzas and tacos on a steady rotation. It was not up to her, so there were things like hamburgers, Cheesy Bacon Chicken Casserole (low carb), and some crockpot meals in there. Turns out, two actual weeks out from the surgery, she and Paul already went through the frozen pizza stash, so you can see the menu worked well.

I paid up as many bills as I could. Paul drew unemployment all summer and I had only been working two days a week, but God was good and the whole summer we didn't pay a single bill late. I cleaned the house furiously and would occasionally walk to the doorway of the craft room/office, then quickly turn around again and shut the door. Abby and Dakota and the girls lived with us for a year and that had been their room. When they moved out, it became the Room of Requirement - everything went there. Kady decided to paint her bathroom and bedroom, so the contents of her room stayed in there while that was happening. Heck, parts of her room are STILL in there, so that's fun.

Sam had been living on campus at Crowder for a year, but had come home the weekend before to hang out, love on his momma, and use my washing machine before he left for Falls Creek the day before my surgery. This was his third year to go with this church - first as a camper, second as a Junior Sponsor, this year as a Real Big Person, Fully Powerful Adult Sponsor. That Monday I took him to meet the church crew at the buttcrack of dawn and then went back home to finish freaking the hell out preparing.

My pre-op instructions included such horrifying phrases like: "No hair products" and "No lotion, moisturizers, or deodorant." Yeah, I was more upset over those things than the fact that very soon my doctor was going to pull organs out of an incision up in my lady bits. I am very dependent on lotion and deodorant. Oh and also, on top of not being able to properly moisturize my aging skin, I had to wash the night before AND the morning of surgery with Dial Gold. That golden bar of skin-drying, antibacterial soap which they say will kill germs, but also any of your body's own ability to retain moisture. I stepped out of the shower the night before and put on lotion. I had to. I could feel panic rising as I'd grab the lotion, set it down, pick it back up and stare at it longingly, then set it down, pace a few times as I'd feel my skin starting to resemble a raisin. I finally gave in. The morning shower I managed to refrain, but in my defense, it was like 4am so I really think being incoherent and half-asleep helped there.

I slept like a log the night before. I think that was God's way of just giving me a little knuckle bump.

Kady and I arrived at the hospital, checked in, then proceeded to people-watch until I was called back. She's nearly 17 years old, but leaving her alone in that waiting room was hard. The nurse assured me she could come back once they got my IV in. My mom was going to be there after a doctor's appointment, but it was still hard to leave her right then.

My pre-op nurse was sweet. Quiet, but sweet. She tried to get my IV in, blew the vein and refused to try again. She called in another nurse who managed to get it in the other hand after some digging around. She brought me several heated blankets since I was all naked under my gown. Dr. B came in to briefly visit. He said he had a baby trying to decide if it was going to be born any time soon, so I might be delayed a little. He was in the delivery room with Abby during Petal's birth around four hours so I was really hoping this new kid was a little speedier than my second granddaughter.

After he left, my nurse meekly - and without making eye contact - said, "Part of your pre-op is being shaved. So.....I need to do that......if that's okay." Sister. Is it "Okay?" Look, I'm about to let strangers cut on my naked body, yes it's okay. I'm okay with y'all doing whatever you need to do to make sure I don't die of infection like I'm having surgery in a third-world country. Also, sidenote: I'm pretty chill when it comes to medical procedures and my body. I don't enjoy my yearly well-woman exams, but I'm also sensible enough to, you know, not want to die, so I get my mammograms and pelvics like a good girl. But having her awkwardly announce she was getting ready to shave my downtown? Weird. So weird. But I smiled, trying to make things less cringe-y, and I told her to have at it. I flipped back my gloriously heated blankets and laid back.

And when she brought out this industrial-looking electric shaver that looked like something out of Mad Men I nearly lost it. Had her personality been less quiet and gentle, I'd have made a joke of some kind, but as it was I just kept quiet. I'm sure she misjudged my shaking as nerves or being cold, but it was really just me trying not to laugh. I just decided to look at the ceiling. And as I looked up caught a horrific glimpse of myself being shaved by a stranger in the reflection of the overhead light. And then I was just fascinated by this out-of-body body-hair-removal experience and all I wanted to do was text my friend Stacie and be like, "DUDE. You are never gonna believe what is happening to me RIGHT NOW!" Once she finished shaving me (super drafty, btw) she then said, "Okay, now I have to uhm.....get the little hairs with......this....." and donned what looked like a cafeteria-lady plastic glove. She giggled and said, "It's sticky!" Then for the next minute or so she just patted me down with that thing. And I was still trying to not die laughing.

After all that was over, they finally let Kady in. She immediately asked if I was "okay" which is code for "Are you freaking the actual f*ck out right now, Mom?" to which I answered, "I'm actually okay." And I meant it.

Dr. B came back in to discuss the use of Lovenox and the conditions of whether yes or no, I would be getting it. Because I have Factor V, I am at risk for blood clots after surgery, so that's always something to be on top of. A few minutes after that they said they were ready for me in the OR, I kissed Kady, and they wheeled me out. She chatted cordially as she pushed me along. I didn't have my glasses on, so I couldn't tell you much about the decor, although I doubt there was much actual decor. She she turned a corner she announced, "And here we are!" She pushed another button, the OR doors opened wide and everyone in the room looked up and said, "KRISTIN!" I felt like Norm from Cheers. The nurse who brought me in introduced me to everyone in the room. I just wanted to really look around some, but one, they were already in full OR Team Six mode and two, I didn't have my glasses on.

As I was scooting from bed to tiny little table meant for people with much smaller rear-ends than mine, the two gals on either side of me had a conversation:

"Dude. Remind me to tell you about what Mom said."
"Okay, dude. *eye roll*"
"Like, you're not gonna believe it."
"Oh, I'm sure."

I don't know if they were sisters or if "Mom" was code word for someone they don't like, but at that point all the laughter I'd held in while having my cooter shaved by a stranger, just bubbled out. And then everyone joined in and honestly, I think I could've had the entire OR team over for Thanksgiving dinner and we'd have gotten along just fine.

Settled in on my Barbie-sized table, a fella who smelled really good, told me his name and made some conversation I don't remember. Then there was a mask on my face and he told me to breathe deep and then it was lights out.

to be continued.....

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Make An Effort

Published in the Miami News-Record July 27, 2018

Mom and I have had the conversation on several occasions, but this week I have thought about it a lot. Anyone who knows me or reads my blog or this here column knows that family is utmost for me. Without my family I’d be so very lost. The tragedy that happened in Branson was devastating on so many levels, but the woman who lost her entire family just keeps staying in the forefront of my mind these days. Kady and I were talking about it a day or two after it happened and how the woman was brave and composed enough to give a television interview. I told Kady there’s no way I could’ve been so brave and I’d just be curled up in a ball wondering how I would go on. And Kady’s reply brought tears to my eyes: “Mom, I’d be dead. There is no way I could survive without you guys. I literally would not be able to go on. My heart would be so broken.” I’m so glad I’ve instilled this family connection in my childrenalthough her answer crushed me. Those are the things we just don’t like to think about. And for one family last week, it became a sad, stark reality. 

I had the opportunity to visit with a cousin last Saturday and as he hugged me so tight he asked, “What happened to our family? Why aren’t we close anymore?” And the best thing I could come up with was: “We let it happen.” When you’re little you have gatherings and holidays at your grandparents’ house with your many, many cousins (first, second, third, removed, step, whatever) and life is good. Then you start growing up and becoming a parent and sadly, grandparents start passing and the whole family dynamic starts to shift. Suddenly your parent is the grandparent everyone gathers with and cousins do the same with their parents and well….it just kind of fizzles out. Sure, you still love them and when you do see them the stories are recounted and laughter abounds, but it’s all just different now. 

Most families aren’t perfect. If yours is, well, I hope you’re not too bored. Because my crazy, imperfect, dysfunctional family is what keeps me going. Whether it’s phone calls where you and your sister laugh so hard your husband has to turn up the TV, text conversations where your mother repeatedly falls prey to autocorrect and you screenshot everything because you know you’ll go back to it and laugh again later when you’re having a bad day, or the wild, loud dinners and game nights that mean you *will* go home with a laugh headache and no mascara left and oh, the memories – those are the things that make a family close. But those things don’t happen if you don’t put forth the effort. If you sit around and wait for the next funeral for all the cousins to gather, number one, I personally always feel sorta guilty for laughing so much with all the cousins in the midst of sadness (although in my family, usually the deceased would probably appreciate a good round of laughter and togetherness even at their expense), and number two, you shouldn’t really just sit round and wait for a funeral to happen. Just saying. That’s kind of weird, dude.

So yes, it requires you making a few phone calls and a few plans, maybe rearranging your calendar a little bit, but maybe it’s time to call up a cousin or seven and tell stories about your great-grandma’s love of tea tree oil, listen to the recording of her voice telling the bear story, whip of a batch of your Nana’s homemade noodles and drink Coke in wine glasses for old time’s sake. And most importantly, embrace the wonderful, the related, the skeletons, the bruises, bumps, and scratches and just do what families are supposed to do: love each other.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Liberating Plankton, part 1

So I'm 45. I haven't dyed or bleached my hair in years and have fully embraced being silver-haired. I have wrinkles - more so now that I've lost 75 pounds - and my boobs are definitely slacking these days. I am well-versed in crossing my legs to avoid the dreaded Sneeze Pee and I also think 9:00pm is a perfectly acceptable bedtime.

I've been doing an intricate and somewhat emotionally hot-flash-punctuated dance with perimenopause for the last six or seven years now. Both of my grandmothers and my mother had hysterectomies and I was determined to be the first to just fade out into an estrogen-less wasteland somewhere in my 50's. My periods had gotten angrier in the last year, but again, I wrote it off as age. Then about six months ago the proverbial shit hit the fan. In six months I had 10 periods. All lasting 10 days or more. All painful. All horrible. I was getting maybe one good week a month if I was lucky - one week where I didn't cry all the time, spend it in bed with a heating pad against my gut, or just plain feeling like I was going to bleed to death. One of my best friends and I would send secret coded texts to each other every time we were on the ledge contemplating a self-directed hysterectomy with a serving spoon. We nicknamed our uteruses (uteri?) Plankton. Yes, like the evil single-cell organism on SpongeBob.

At my regular six-month checkup with my PCP I mentioned all of this. She said it could be age, but it could also be a fibroid. She sent me straight to radiology where they did an ultrasound. And sure enough, a week or so later the radiologist confirmed there was a fibroid.

Because I use Indian Health Services for most of my healthcare, they said they wanted to send me for a surgical consult in Claremore. Claremore Indian Hospital is not where I wanted to have surgery, so since I have insurance, I asked if they could just send the referral to the doctor of my choice outside of the Tribal Health System. The choice was immediate: Dr. Billings. I work for his in-laws, Kady nannies for his kids, he delivered Petal. I trust him.

On June 12th I saw him in office. He looked over my ultrasound and agreed there was a fibroid and my uterus was very large and "not normal." He gave me options, all of which sounded like bandaids to fix an organ I no longer had any use for. Trust me when I say, ol' Plankton and I were no longer friends. He agreed that given my age and the quality of life (or lack thereof), a hysterectomy was a valid choice. He did some endometrial biopsies in office that day. He made sure my mammogram was up to date. He said my ovaries looked perfectly healthy and he'd like to leave them for hormone regulation. (Mind you, radiologist who read the ultrasound also concurred the ovaries were healthy. I'll come back to this.) I was in agreement. He said as long as the biopsies came back normal I could schedule the surgery with his nurse. She said she had an opening on July 3rd. If I were physically capable of doing a cartwheel, I'd have done one right there with my paper drape a flappin' in the breeze. As it was, I politely and maturely agreed.

That gave me three weeks to get my house cleaned, my family prepared, tie up loose ends at work, and probably have another period. But oh well. I was *this close* to freedom. I felt like I could safely stop googling "How to remove an angry uterus at home" at this point.

...to be continued...

Monday, June 25, 2018

A Hearty Attempt

I started a blog back in June of  2004. Let that soak in a minute.

14 years ago. Redneck Diva was born 14 years ago. *blink blink*

Somewhere around 2016 Facebook began slowly and methodically picking off bloggers one by one. The song says "Video killed the radio star." Well, social media killed the bloggers.

Sure there are still blogs, but blogging as a whole has changed exponentially. Gone are the days of "Mommy Bloggers" writing posts about their kids and day-to-day life in MomLand - now the Mom Blogs are vlogs or podcasts. So pretty much, video blogs killed the written blogs. Damn you, video. You are kind of an attention hog, aren't you?

I renew my domain every year even though I haven't posted in forever. I just can't let it go. Selfishly it's because I can't stand the thought of some other woman out there going by Redneck Diva. That's me, yo. I can't let that go to someone else. I mean, the vanity plate on my car is RDNKDVA. The Sonic carhops know me by my license plate. Last week the receptionist at my OB/GYN's office asked if my license plate was the same as my email and said she sees me all over town. (Please dear Lord, don't let me have driven bad that day or flipped the bird.) I am famous in my own mind and to about a dozen people, so I'm not letting it go.

A lot has changed since the early days of blogging. Not just in regards to blogging as a whole, but for me personally. I don't guess I even know how I'm going to run this thing anymore. I'm ready to resurrect the behemoth, but I'm not sure how/where/when/why to do it. Gone are the days of mundane updates about laundry and raising my kids. I mean, they're done raised for cryin' out loud. I'm a grandma now. (Note to self: Look into "Grandma blogs" - see if that's a thing.)

Anyway, yeah, so I'm a grandma. Two granddaughters. They're pretty much the most awesomest things since sliced bread. They are 14 months apart. Both Abby's.

Yes, this Abby:

Except now she's a full-fledged grown up who has expelled two human beings from her lady parts. So there's that.

Oh and that sassy looking little thing next to her with the wildly curly hair?  That's my Kady.

Yeah, this Kady:

My little Kady-with-a-d is 16. Every bit of 16. The attitude is real, y'all.


And then let's not forget my sweet Sammy.


Who now looks like this:


(The first pic is a stage pic from his most recent theatre performance.)

And of course, the granddaughters:


Wemberly and Petal

Wemberly will be two in a few weeks. Petal will be one in September. Wemberly was born at 29 weeks and Petal was full term. I will share their stories soon, but I'm going to need more time to formulate those stories because 1) I'm a grandma and I don't have a wallet full of pictures -  THIS is my wallet full of pictures and I need to upload about four bazillion of them and 2) their stories, especially Wemberly's, are emotional to tell and I need time to get them right and do them justice.

In the past year I have lost 70 pounds. I have been at a standstill for a few months. I'm okay with that for now, but not forever. My life has been tumultuous since April, so I am extending myself grace at present.

This was me at nearly 300 pounds.

Me now:


So for now I'll say welcome back. It's been awhile, I know. Knock the dust off the chairs and settle in.  I'm learning how to be again, so let's enjoy the ride together. I hope to be back soon and often. I still can't make Rice Krispies Treats. I still cuss a little lot. I still love Jesus. I'm still awkward and ridiculous and funny. I'm still a redneck and still a diva. I still embarrass my mother with the things I write.

Some things change. Some things never will. Mom can attest to that.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

We Were Nine

Nine of us. Seniors. Sitting on the front steps of Wyandotte High. We thought we owned those steps. Everyone else did, too. It didn't matter who was on them or how long they had been sitting there, when The Nine decided we were going to sit there, we sat. And no one else did. That was just how it was. Call it some strange hierarchy of the teenage universe, but when the Senior herd is dominant, the underclassmen get booted to the lawn or the hallways or the curb. No one questioned us. They would just get up and shuffle away. Maybe it was because we had our bluff in on everyone, maybe were bullies, maybe...just maybe...we were obnoxious. Probably a little bit of all of that.

This particular picture was snapped on a sunny day near the end of our high school adventure. I know it was May because The Teddy Bear and I were dating. Graduation was looming. We were smiling. Genuinely. There were no duck faces, peace signs, tongues, or goofy faces. It was natural. It was relaxed. It was happy. We were all thin, fit, our hair was dark (and for us girls it was BIG thanks to Aqua Net). We were 18 and we. knew. everything.

There were five guys (The Class Clown, The Aggie, Mr. All-American Nice Guy [who was my knight in shining armor the night I got stupid drunk on Boone's Farm], The Quarterback, The Quiet Guy/Teddy Bear) and four girls (The Most Popular Girl in School, The Athlete, The Ag Queen, and me, The Nerd). Six of us started Kindergarten together. The other three came in somewhere in junior high. We didn't hang out together until Senior year and to this day I honestly don't know how or why we even started. Because we hadn't before then.

After high school Mom, Sis, and I moved to town and I remember one night everyone came over to my new house to watch movies. I think that was the last time we were all nine together. The Teddy Bear and I broke up that summer and he went on to marry one of my best friends a few years later. He doesn't care much for me now. He's a biker with a cool beard. The Most Popular Girl and I moved to Stillwater together. I moved back home about six weeks later. I missed my momma. All four of us girls went out a few years after graduation, got in a huge fight while we were out, and didn't speak for years. Fortunately we grew up and three of us are Facebook friends now. One isn't on Facebook (or maybe she's blocked me) and hasn't lived in the area since shortly after graduation. The Class Clown is a teacher now and he and his saint of a wife own a snow cone business in town. The Aggie bought a fireplace where I work a couple years back. He's a farmer and on the school board. We both live in the 'Dotte. All-American Guy is still around, but our paths rarely cross. He served our country as a Marine. He used to be a golf pro and my husband was so envious of his job. The Quarterback stays to himself. He has a job down on the lake. A few of us have lost children. Three of us are grandparents. One hasn't married. A few of us are divorced.

And as it turns out, we did NOT know everything. I still don't. Maybe the other eight have gotten it together in the past 27 years, but for this ol' gal, I'm still living by the "fake it til you make it" way of life. We sat there on those steps that day never dreaming of the things we'd encounter. Pure, real love and true, deep heartache. Unimaginable joy and unfathomable loss. Ups, downs, and all the in-betweens. That inevitable changeover from cool car to sedan or *gasp* minivan. The expanding of hips and waists, the graying of hair, births and deaths, laughter and tears. I keep going back to that picture a lot lately. I wonder if that girl in the jean shorts and NEO t-shirt would want to know how her life will look in 20-some years.

Nah. She's still trying to figure it all out anyway.

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on June 22, 2018. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Back in My Day

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on June 26, 2016. 

My oldest daughter, as you know, is expecting a sweet, precious, little girl (who has decided this week to behave and stay put awhile longer, thank the Lord). She is very active, has crazy long legs, and likes to lie on her back with her arms over her head or across her face – just the way her momma sleeps. This has proven problematic for ultrasound pictures because the little stinker refuses to cooperate and smile for the camera. And now Abby is just absolutely convinced she needs a 3D ultrasound so she can see this baby girl’s face.

But I think “need” is a bit of a stretch.

Back in my day, you got ONE ultrasound. It was at 20 weeks. Period. You had to go in with a bladder full to approximately the size of a watermelon, knowing full well someone was going to squish around on it for about 30 minutes. All of your friends warned you and told you to expect to either cry or pee yourself. Or do one then the other. There was no such thing as 3D or 4D ultrasounds back then. No, your baby appeared on screen as a grainy, skeleton alien monster. If you were lucky enough to have a cooperative child with some exhibitionist tendencies, they could sometimes determine the gender of your child. Then the technician would describe the child’s genitals as either a “hot dog” (girl) or a “turtle” (boy). And most of them wouldn’t give you any more than a 60% chance they were correct. You didn’t WANT a face shot because frankly, your baby was a frightening creature that looked like an alien and you were secretly afraid it was going to grab hold of and eat your liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

This glamorous ultrasound session was usually done by a surly technician who felt their time and talent was being wasted on such frivolous things as, oh you know, YOUR BABY. Twice I got a tech that sighed through the entire ultrasound. Apparently they were bitter that they hadn’t been made famous yet by discovering a new and previously unnoticed organ or something during a routine ultrasound.

The price of your child’s first photo shoot was included in the all-inclusive delivery fee you were informed of on your first visit. You know, the first visit where they confirm that yes indeedy, you are quite pregnant. As if the 50 positive pregnancy tests you peed on and the barfing 24/7 weren’t big enough clues. You were shuffled from the exam room to an office where “the girl who does the insurance” held court. There she asked for your insurance card, did some magical figuring on an adding machine (this was pre-internet, mind you), and made a declaration of what you had to pay the doctor every month when you visited so your baby would be paid in full by delivery. (During my last pregnancy I asked if they would repo a couple – the two who were at that moment in a full-on WWE match on her office floor) (She didn’t get my sense of humor. She said no.) 

I get it, times change. My mom had nary an ultrasound with either of her pregnancies. Of course, my Nana also nearly had a stroke when she saw Mom hanging clothes on the line and running the vacuum while pregnant because both of those chores were 199% known to cause the cord to wrap around the baby’s neck. Daddies didn’t get to witness the birth of their children. Diapers were cloth, bottles were glass, carseats were virtually nonexistent.

So if my kiddo wants to pay for a glimpse of her baby’s face ahead of time, I suppose I won’t complain. I’m already so in love with this little blueberry that seeing her squishy little face early might cause me to go into happy spasms or an uncontrollable squealing fit, but I suppose I’ll adjust to the changing times. It’s what all the hip grandmas do. 

Hard Labor

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on June 19, 2016. 

A little less than 15 years ago I was pregnant and started having what I thought were Braxton-Hicks contractions. After a week of the pesky contractions other things happened that made me think that perhaps these contractions weren't merely for training purposes only. And sure enough, a visit to my doctor, then a trip to the hospital revealed that I was indeed in active labor and dilated four centimeters. Normally people get excited at this news, but I was only 25 weeks pregnant. They shot me full of steroids to speed up the development of her lungs and sent me home on strict bed rest. The doctor said delivery was imminent and the outlook was grim. Happy ending: we managed to keep the little stinker in place ten more weeks and, other than being a bit of a diva, she's a normal kid. 

Fast forward to this past Tuesday when my oldest, the one currently incubating my first grandchild, sent me a text that asked, “What does a contraction feel like? Because I'm pretty sure I just had one.” Well, that got my attention. I quickly text a nurse friend who said for her to drink a big glass of water and take a warm bath. They didn't stop. She called her OB’s office and they sent her to the hospital. As we walked in, Abby said, “This is going to be SO embarrassing when they say I'm silly and send me home.” She and her husband went into a room, my mom and I stayed in the waiting room. Finally after ten minutes I couldn't stand it. I knocked on the door and peeked in. My teeny tiny little girl was swallowed up in that big ol’ hospital and grew even smaller as she said, “I'm dilated.” A tear slid down her cheek. We spent the next few hours in a room while she was scanned, prodded, hydrated, medicated, and pondered over. It got kind of tense so Mom and I decided to lighten the mood by telling a story. 

It was December 19, 2001. I was in labor the second (and proper) time with Kady. My mom and mother-in-law had come up to visit us.  Now, my mother-in-law is a funny lady. She's sweet, but very quiet and matter-of-fact. She did not attend the birth of the other two and I offered once more to let her attend to which she quickly replied, “Oh nononono! I don't need to see…..that.” I laughed and told her the offer was there if she changed her mind. She stood there awkwardly and I patted the bed and said, “Martha, come sit here. There’s no need to stand!” Paul even offered her his chair. She waved us both away and said, “Oh, hush. I'll just sit on this stool here.”

What happened next still causes Mom and I to have to stop the story-telling because we’re already laughing. Martha backed up to the stool – which was on wheels – and started to sit. But the stool had another idea. It started to roll away from her. She started baby-stepping backward trying to catch the stool with her bum, rolling all the way to the wall across the room. Paul, Mom, Abby, Sam, and I watched in horror as the stool stopped rolling when it hit the wall and Martha fell squarely on her rear end. The room was silent then all of us busted into laughter so loud the nurses had to think we were crazy. Mom and Paul ran to her aid while I continued laughing until I was certain I was going to laugh Kady right on out. The telling of the story still makes her laugh as well. It's my favorite Martha story, second only to the one where she killed a goat. But I'll save that one for another time. 

Of course, by this point in the story, Abby and Dakota we laughing and the scary preterm labor monster was temporarily forgotten. Y'all know that my answer for everything in life is laughter and I was only doing my job. We’re still facing down some unsure times ahead over the next few months, but one thing is for sure, we’ll face it all together and we’ll do it with as much laughter as we can muster. 

Being Bold

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on June 12, 2016. 

I’ve mentioned several times here on our Sunday chats that I am an introvert. I am an outgoing introvert, but an introvert nonetheless. I am also nonconfrontational. So when I have to cowboy up and stand up for myself or someone I love, it’s a BIG deal. I don’t enjoy it, however I have been told I’m awesome at it once I’m forced to do it.  I still don’t like it and I don’t think I ever will. I am generally a nice person. Most of the time. And I like to get along with people even if I don’t like to interact with them.

It’s been over six weeks since Abby’s car accident. Just this past week the other person’s insurance made contact for the first time. They decided to go ahead and accept the liability which is a total duh decision since the police report and the witness all state as such. Their insured ran a red light – how would they NOT accept the liability?? Yeesh.

After a phone conversation where the claims agent told me they wanted to take the vehicle off our property to assess the damage and make their decision on what to offer us, my husband nearly blew a gasket. He told me to call her back and let her know that an adjuster can come to us and that was that. That meant me having to actually pick up the phone and call her back. There are just some days it’s almost physically painful to pick up a phone and dial a number in order to speak to another human. And knowing I was going to likely have to be firm and/or confrontational made it worse. But I didn’t dare let Paul handle it – he tends to be a little uhm….shall we say “overly aggressive” when he has to get firm. The quiet, genial redneck in him mutates like when David Banner gets angry and goes all Hulk on everyone. When Paul gets wound up, the freckles on his face go from a sandy ginger to an angry brownish red and veins appear on his neck and forehead. His flannel shirts are in danger of ripping and once I swear I thought he was going to turn green. No, he was NOT going to handle this.

So I called the claims agent and she himmed and hawed, but eventually agreed to send an adjuster to our house. She said if the towing service called to schedule a pickup for the truck to let them know other arrangements had been made. Again with people making me interact! Why does the world insist I speak to other people so much lately??

Sure enough, they called to schedule the pickup, but I missed the call. When I called back the gal asked for my lot number. I explained that I didn’t have a lot number because my vehicle isn’t on her lot. She refused to comprehend the words emanating from my face. Then she got snarky and hateful and well, she just caught me in the right mood. I nearly went Hulk Smash myself. 

She snottily stated, “If you don’t have a lot number I simply cannot help you. Lady, I have six acres of cars out there and a lot number is the only way I can find your vehicle.”

My reply? “Well, I have 30 acres and I can tell you exactly where to find it. It’s HERE. On MY thirty acres. Not on your six. I just need to make sure you don't come pick it up from my 30 acres!” Then she said that my attitude wasn’t helping her any at all. Seriously, folks. Jesus was all that was holding me back. Well, and the fact she was in Oklahoma City.

And I may or may not have told her that if someone from her place of business showed up on my property there would be a redneck with a shotgun there to greet them. I didn’t mention that he might be green, though. I wouldn’t want her to think I was weird or something. 

Terrible Horrible

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on May 29, 2016.

One of my favorite children’s books is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. It’s about a little boy who has just has a rotten day from start to finish and declares he’s moving to Australia. This week I had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day of my own.

Tuesday morning’s hair-fixing took me longer than usual. I recently cut my hair short and short hair is a fickle, fickle entity. The least little thing can anger it or at the very least be fuzzy and willful. I finally got it where I wanted it, hairsprayed it into submission, and decided I had time to water my freshly-planted garden before I headed out the door. I opened the front door to find three very happy dogs, one of whom was covered nose to tail in dirt. I ran – okay, haha, I don’t run – I walked briskly to the back yard to find every single mound where I had planted squash or zucchini had been happily dug into by Abby’s dog Jojo (who now lives with us). I stood there in the middle of all the disaster, my sparkly aqua flip flops sinking into the dirt, my fists clenched, fighting back tears. When Jojo came gleefully running toward me all I said was “JOJO. NO.” The words apparently had some serious power to them because she hit the ground and belly crawled all the way back to the front of the house. Finally I just decided to go ahead and cry while I replanted what seeds I could find, said a prayer over each mound, and went back in the house. Standing at the mirror to wash my hands I looked up and saw that my hair had become a fuzzy, wavy, unkempt mess and my makeup was streaky from the crying.

I text my coworker and told her I’d be late, fixed myself the best I could, decided I didn’t have time to pack a lunch and eating was overrated anyway. I flew out the door with Kady who was going to spend the day with me at work. The night before, I had left a bag behind at Walmart. When I realized it, I called and they said they had it and to come pick it up at my convenience. But by 8:45 the next morning they’d put it all back on the shelf. I did not have time to re-shop because for the life of me I couldn’t remember which boxers I had bought Paul the night before so I just asked for my money back. I had promised Kady a 99¢ morning Sonic drink and figured since I was apparently going to be skipping lunch, I deserved a breakfast burrito. Two bites in and I dropped a big hunk of cheesy, greasy sausage on my shirt. I just shrugged and laughed. I’d already cried enough.

The day got better when Mom called and said she wanted to buy me lunch, so bonus food! And even though I had to go to the salon where all the pretty people work that afternoon to pick up Kady with flat, weird hair and a burrito grease stain on my shirt there are much worse things in the world than looking unkempt and sloppy. I had the money to buy my husband’s boxers and the gum they put back on the shelf – and even a breakfast burrito. I have a house with a garden and a daughter who pulled weeds and visited with me while I planted, that same daughter who is currently incubating my beautiful granddaughter. I have a husband who watered my garden that morning because in all the hullaballoo I forgot to actually do that. I have a momma who buys me chicken strips when I have bad days. I have clothes, food, a Sonic nearby, and Jesus. My life isn’t so terrible horrible.

Bad days are going to happen. They are inevitable. They are also survivable. And just so you know, Sonic chicken strips usually help. 

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