It's Unofficially Official

Nothing is set in stone but it is created in Legos. We're moving back to Minnesota!

Yes, I have watched the weather. Somehow, in the middle of April in the calendar, they seem to be stuck in the middle of winter. I'm really hoping that it's just Minnesota getting it out of it's system and not turning into the "new norm."

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Why on earth would we move back to the frozen tundra? There are a lot of reasons but the biggest reason is family. Our son is getting married in September. My Dad is getting older and may need help (not that he'd ever take it). Our friends are there. It's where we're from and a big part of who we are.

And, when we left, it was awful. We were in a really, really tough place. We were running from that and to something better. I've made peace with it. Pretty much. Kinda/sorta. However, we are not returning with our tails between our legs, we are coming back with a lot under our belts. Sounds cryptic, I know. Maybe I'll chat about it later.

Also, we are not returning to where we left, the Twin Cities. We are instead, going to explore the smaller town of Rochester. It's a bit larger than Chattanooga and I really enjoy the size of Chatt. And, it's about a 45 minutes to an hour away from the Cities. Close enough to stay in contact, far enough for us to observe and watch. We're renting so we have time to decide if we want to get involved in all of that again or if smaller town life is perfect for us. We'll see.

We don't know if it's our final destination or just there for a while.

July 1 is our targeted move-back date.

My Wake Up Call

May of 2017, my body gave me a helluva wake-up call. Apparently it's been trying to get my attention for some time but I've been oblivious. All of those times I've stuffed my issues, my emotions, my needs because somebody else needed me or something came before me, - you know that story, right? All of those little signals of S.O.S. that I've missed were over. Time for something serious, something to really get my attention.

In May, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I got scolded by my doctor (and rightly so), I started changing what I ate, counting carbs, counting calories and learning what fuel my body needed. I started walking around the block. My goal was to get back to no diabetes in my system. Because then, I could slip back into my bad habits. Can you say denial?? Yes, I started losing weight but it was hard and such a hassle and I didn't want to and I was tired and ... [whine].

I went in for a CT scan because my doctor wanted to be sure my liver wasn't fatty. I did follow up with her after the scan and she gave me the news that my liver was ok but I had a mass on my kidney. I needed to see a specialist. My brain started to panic and most of the conversation was missed from that point on with one exception. Then she told me the worse case scenario was kidney cancer and didn't respond when I asked what the best case scenario was. Oh crap.

Two weeks went by before I got in to see the specialist. My panic level was off the charts by this point. When the doctor came in the room, he walked straight toward me and grabbed my hand. He said, "Hi Laura. I'm Jeff. You're going to be ok." I immediately believed him. It was a whirlwind from that point on...

The surgery was utterly terrifying! I have a bad habit of waking up during oral surgery; of throwing up upon waking from an operation I had 15+ years ago. And here I was going to have to do that again - holy hairballs, batman! It wasn't the surgery itself which scared me so much as the great blackness that didn't want to let me go and wake up. 

The anesthetist was amazing. He listened to my fears, really listened and assured me that the blackness wouldn't get me this time. He told me that he would knock me out when we were leaving to go to the OR room. I kept my terror at bay, waiting for that time. They were all working over me, trying to get everything ready, fussing here and there but I didn't worry. We weren't leaving the room yet so it was all good. I felt almost detached, almost calm, almost... strong. Almost... peaceful, like the other side was reaching out and it was... it was ok.

Bless he anesthetist! He put me out during the calm, before I had time to work up to a good terror. There was one moment and then the next in which I was waking up. No in-between, no blackness grabbing me and trying to keep me pulled under, no vague remembrances. Just... peace.

I found out later that my growth was cancerous. But I'm told that it was "contained" and removed. I trust that very smart doctor when he told me not to worry. I'll see him next week to tell me how my follow-up CT scan went. To say I'm scared is a bit of an understatement.

ETA: The cancer is still gone, my levels are where they should be. All is well. I'm good. In fact, you might say I'm very, very good.

Back to about the curly girl

Have you ever....

 ...been visited by a loved one who has passed?

...been visited by a loved one who has passed?

Since my brother passed, I've been having incredibly deep sleep. I dream; sometimes I remember them but mostly I don't. This from a person who never slept well and felt like I rarely dreamed.

That said, my brother visited me the other night. I don't recall the dreams, just felt his presence. When I woke, he was still with me and stayed for a bit. Honestly, it was odd. It wasn't one of those "thinking about him" type of things; it was a ... separate, heavy (but not exceedingly so, there was just some weight to it), slightly off to the left... presence. Not angry, not peaceful - it just was there. I wasn't flooded with thoughts of him but I just knew it was him.

I remember the night my mother in-law died in 2012. We were in process of moving to Florida and hubby was able to be with her when she passed. I was still in Minnesota, closing up the townhouse. That night when I was laying in bed I kept hearing high pitched sounds. I got up to see if I could "walk it off" and they followed me. I figured it was my mother in-law so I started talking to her, saying goodbye. They stopped when I spoke and resumed when I didn't. At one point fear crept in and I said to stop because she was scaring me. The noise stopped and never returned. I wish now that I had talked longer with her.

I wonder how many people have been visited. I'd love to hear your story.

They're baaaack!!

Anyone with curly hair knows the struggle; winter comes and all the moisture gets sucked out of the air. With it, curls flatten and look like they've been run over by a Mack truck. This is especially horrible for one who has recently made peace with her curls as I have.

Like most women, I have issues with my appearance. There are so many areas that I dislike intensely that making peace and actually liking my curls was a huge hurdle to overcome! I was devastated by their dormancy and went to the extreme of getting my hair cut shorter in an effort to coax them to life (which turned turned out to be a curly girl's worst nightmare - the dreaded poodle cut). I hear all you curly girls gasping. It was awful! But no, it didn't work and I felt even worse about my appearance.

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Today I'm happy. My curls are back!!

Life is good.

Keeley

Images come to my phone of my first grandchild send to me by my daughter. I haven't met Keeley yet but I'm totally captivated by her. I can imagine her squeaks and grunts, her wonderful baby scent, her cuddles. Every image I get is an absolute treasure.

I'm awed by my daughter who is taking motherhood in stride. She seems to have it more together at this point in her life than I did. Her rebound is quicker than I remember mine to be but my memory has turned hazy over the years. She is strong and has an incredible husband on this journey with her. My granddaughter is in good hands. I can't tell you the peace this gives me.

I can't wait to meet her.  I love her already.

 My first grandchild, Keeley. She was born on 2/11/18. She stole my heart. She owns it. Forever.

My first grandchild, Keeley. She was born on 2/11/18. She stole my heart. She owns it. Forever.

Own it or let it kill you. Your choice.

Ok. I fell. It happens. I'm not a horrible person because of it. It's a learning point. We all have learning points, we all have lessons. It's what you do with that lesson that matters. I can own it or I can let it kill me. My choice.


When my brother died, I put myself on hold. I rushed out to Arizona, ate cafeteria food and whatever was available. My goal was to be there and survive it. I did.

When I came back, I was on auto pilot.

  This is me. This is me being a badassed who can do anything her badassed mind is set to, including taking a picture with no makeup.

This is me. This is me being a badassed who can do anything her badassed mind is set to, including taking a picture with no makeup.

I grieved in a very weird sort of way. I had to come to grips with my actual lack of grief due to a non-existent relationship with my brother. This caused me to worry I was burying it and while I was busy digging around in my head, I put myself on hold once again. I ate whatever, I didn't work out and I lost my ambition. I got lazy and my goal was to get through the day. Sluggish, no motivation, no emotion except for despair and depression.

I checked my glucose today. It was bad. Like really bad, pre-diagnosis bad. I have to do something. I really do. I cannot continue on like this, I'll get sick and I'm so afraid of being sick again. Hell, as it is, Bells Palsy that I had 20+ years ago seems to be creeping into my face again.

What to do, what to do, what to do... I needed to have a conversation with myself.

Do I like where I am? NO!

Do I want to stay here? HELL NO!

So, what am I going to do then? I can pick myself back up. I can move forward. I can start again. Right? I'm a stubborn, badassed woman. I can do this.

I CAN AND I WILL!

Watch me.

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Medication Hell

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I have a terrible tendency to play with my medications. I take a boatload of them (anti-depressants, blood pressure meds, cholesterol meds, diabetes meds plus various supplements - b12, probiotics) in effort to live a "normal" life.

(define normal for me, willya?)

Whenever I feel great, some little wicked thought-goblin whispers in my ear, "hey, you don't need to take those meds! you're normal now, healthy, strong." As I don't want to take meds in the first place, I agree with that dastardly thought-goblin. So, I drop a med. In this case, I cut down on my diabetes medication because... oh hell. Don't make me explain my thinking. It's embarrassing.

Depression, that rat bastard, starts to creep in but I put it down to my year from hell (cancer, new job, lost my brother, blah blah). Depression starts getting stronger and my sleep time reduces (my thought then is that I'm not getting enough "me" time so I stay up late to get it). Finally, my stomach kicks in gear and I have issues that the probiotic should be taking care of - only it doesn't. So, I switch probiotics to one that keeps me in the bathroom several times per day. My stomach is in turmoil, my body is confused as hell, I'm depressed and not eating well. Then, yesterday, I started to get the cotton-mouth that is associated with diabetes.

CRAP!

Today I'm back on my full medication regime and am waiting for the circle to go back to "I feel great!"

Why do I do this to myself??

Muscle versus Fat

A little while back, I made a stupid statement. I said, "muscle weighs more than fat". It's what I'd always heard and I accepted it as fact - just like why I put ketchup in the fridge. I grew up putting it in the fridge and so that's where it goes.

At any rate, a friend picked up on that and nicely gave me a (soft) slap upside the head. 5 pounds of weight will always equal 5 pounds of weight, yet it's MASS may be different. It was, for me a "duh!!" moment.

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I am now regularly seeing on Facebook now people saying how muscle weighs more than fat and I laugh. Sometimes I chime in and explain the difference but it seems to be such a commonalty and universally accepted.

How many other things do we do because we've not questioned the thought, be it light silly things like putting ketchup in the fridge to heavier topics such as not needing to get your affairs in order because "I'm too young to die, I still have time"? Seems to me we need to take a look at our beliefs and not just blindly accept them.

By the way, ketchup does indeed have a shorter shelf life if left out.

Slip Sliding Away...

This morning I was inputting info to a 2018 calendar when I realized I didn't have my surgery date so I scrolled through my Facebook to find it. Holy cow, do I post a lot!

What I noted was that I had an attitude change somewhere along the way. I slipped back into complacency.

Yeah, I knew that I hadn't eaten right or worked out (maybe once or twice) since my brother's death. I planned on rectifying soon. "I'll go to the gym after dinner" turned into "I'll go to the gym during lunch tomorrow" and further into "I need to go to the gym soon and start back up." I've not been inputting my food intake into MyFitnessPal, I've not checked my glucose or blood pressure. I was just meh.

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What I noticed most from those old Facebook posts was my attitude... wow! I was bright and sunny, self aware and confident, ready push forward. I was doing it! Looking at the two Laura's, I just can't. I can't continue on to what I now am again.

Today, I'm going to the gym. Period.

Lesson #412: Appreciate What You Have

When I was young, I wanted straight hair so badly that I went to ridiculous lengths to straighten it. It never worked. I hated my hair with a passion.

Fast forward X years and I’ve embraced my curls and really started loving my hair; the color, the curl... Those curls are a huge part of me that I love and accept - thus, my website is named silvercurlz.

This year has been hard not only on me but on my curls as well, apparently. I know that winter dampens the curl and takes away lift and volume. But, I confess that I never, ever expected them to straighten to the degree that they have. I guess it’s only fitting but it damn! The man upstairs has a weird sense of humor, that’s for sure.

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I’m counting on some humidity, growth and a good Deva cut to restore the boing.

Gaaaarrrrrrgggghhhhh!!

I am so mad today, I can't stand it.

I'm angry at my brother. I'm angry at him for leaving too soon. I'm angry at him for not having his affairs in order and leaving a mess for my parents to clean up to ensure his kiddos get their benefits from his retirement. I'm angry at him for not letting me in his life when he was around so now I would never have that sense of peace or closure.

Aaaannnd, I'm angry at him for making me angry when I "should" just be feeling sadness. (guilt, guilt, guilt) I'm angry at me because I had to have my body get all uncomfortable (stomach) before I realized it - I thought I was making all this great emotional progress?? Noooo, it takes my body being wigged out before I pick up the emotional cues.

Dammit. I'm mad at you, brother, and then I feel guilty for it and it's messing me up.

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Merry Christmas

It's a quiet day on the home front. It's just Marc and I, going about our day not quite knowing quite what to do. The downside of having no family close by and not really knowing those around you except for backyard chat.

We need to change this going forward - next year family! Combined with the realization that I'm the only kid left in the family, I'm having a hard time fighting off depression which is my nemesis (thank God for anti-depressants).

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Location, Location, Location

My mind is pretty much made up to make the trek up north and to do it on a permanent basis. I miss The Boy, miss my friends, and the feeling of "home". But I have issues.

  1. I cannot go "back" nor do I want to. When we left, we were in a bad place. We were losing our house, my husband didn't have a job, money was oh so tight... We were escaping and trying to find a better life. I have a fear that we will slide back into the blackness that we ran from. I didn't say it was a rational fear, just that it was a fear. Fears rarely are rational; they're normally high on emotion and often negative emotion. Will it be that hard again??
  2. Minnesota is an expensive place to live. You get what you pay for, for sure. But it still costs a lot of dollars. Minimum rent for what we have where we're at in Tennessee is $500 more per month, at least. Yikes! And I still want a small house with trees and a fenced in yard for the dogs and.... I want it all and it's probably not practical.
  3. It's so darned cold in winter. I was looking at the weather for the upcoming week and lows were in the low 40's. Minnesota won't see that for a high until maybe March.
  4. Being cold, you get alligator skin, chapped lips, static electricity and static cling (yes, they're two different things). When you walk, you have to take baby steps and kind of waddle because if you don't, you'll slip. And my bones will hurt when a front comes in.

I write all this out and think I must be crazy to want to go back. I need to think on this some more. I need doors to open before I say it's time to go. Yet...

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He's Gone.

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I've put off writing this. It's too hard to face. My little brother is gone. He died November 28, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. mountain time.

I'm feeling so many emotions, I don't know how to catalog them or cope with them. Such a wide range; rage, intense sadness, normalcy, numbness, disbelief. Most of the time I try to pretend that everything is ok until I hit some sort of wall and everything crumbles. I crumble. Then I wonder if I'm stuffing it which was part of the problem that brought on the cancer and I panic and try to deal.

I'm finding it very hard to concentrate on anything lately. I'm restless yet unmotivated. My brain is in a fog that makes work incredibly hard and difficult - and the timing couldn't be worse as work is very busy and I need to keep my focus and get things done. Electronics, which have been my friend for so long as I'm rather tech-oriented, are not working the way they should. Example - texting is next to impossible for me, filled with such oddball typos that I know my fingers never were anywhere near the letters typed.

I feel robbed of time. My brother and I rarely spoke. I may have mentioned that. I didn't worry that he thought we were "too different" because I always thought I'd have time to charm him into a relationship. I feel guilt in that I didn't try hard enough now because I thought I'd have time, because he wasn't receptive to me now. He'd be later, so it was ok. And now I'll never have that.

Ever.

I spoke to Mom about that and she tried to tell me that what we did have was real. It wasn't strained, wasn't fake or phony. (you all know the relationships where you cringe before you meet up and feel relief when you leave) I get that but... I wanted more.

He was socially awkward. He excelled in matters of the mind - education, business, finances (all areas where I kind of flopped for one reason or another). But he just couldn't understand people or be comfortable around them (whereas I could). Mom said we were mirrors of each other. That's true, or at least I thought it was.

I've been learning about his bicycling since he left. Stuart found his freedom, his "fit" in cycling. He'd been cycling for 36 years! I really don't know how to describe it and I've been staring at the screen for several moments trying to. He met quality people and they formed a bond over their love of cycling. He took risks, he flew, he was strong, he was ... free. 

And if he had to die, I can at least be in peace knowing that he was doing what he loved more than anything else in the world. That he was flying free. The video below and the music therein describe his freedom more than anything I could ever put into mere words.

Ride into the stars, brother. We'll miss you so, so much but we know you're riding out there, as happy as you could ever be.

The Decision

A decision was made yesterday. It was not one that I agreed with, not one that I could support. But, it was one that I couldn't do anything about.

My brother's wife decided it was too much for her to handle so she's letting him go. Not stepping back and letting his family take care of him, not voicing her opinion and getting feedback from the family. She's letting him die and will put him in hospice.

Oh sure, she had a medical team on her side. I don't know who they were, who she consulted to form this decision. But because we aren't "the wife" of my brother, our feelings are disregarded. We can't fight it, despite the fact that it's only been two weeks since the accident.

Because we were "requested" not to contact her further, we don't know if there will be a funeral. We don't know if any of his organs will be donated. We don't know if there is a will (doubt it), we don't know who his beneficiaries are, we don't know diddley-squat. And that, my friends, is the reality of thinking you're too young, you have too much time left to do such a thing as write a living will and a regular will. If you've been following my personal Facebook, you know I've been repeating this but I'll say it again: protect yourself and those you care for. Make a will and a living will! Tell somebody about you're desires.

I could wax poetic here but I'm too angry, too defeated and haven't come to grips with anything yet other than hopelessness.

Realignment

For the last month or so, I was backsliding. I wasn't logging my foods into MyFitnessPal, I was avoiding going to the gym, I was sticking pretty close to my eating plan but I was just eating more. As a result, I was feeling bad about myself, rehashing all the negative self-image issues and basically tearing myself down.

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It should have been no surprise that I hopped on the scale and discovered I'd gained 10 pounds yet it was. What followed was more self-hate.

When I got the call about my brother, all of this got set aside as I flew over to him as quickly as I could. When you're sitting in a hospital, endlessly waiting, you have a chance to think. I'm still unraveling the life lessons from this but I addressed my self-hate. My brother, my conservative, emotionally inept little brother had the guts to go for it, to do what his soul yearned to do and if he dies from it, I know it will be doing exactly what he loved.

And I was whining because it was hard or that I didn't want to or... ??? Yeah, no. I gave myself a big dose of "get-the-eff-over-yourself" and realigned my attitude back to where it needs to be.

Since I've been back I've hit the gym hard, worked out at home with new exercises and really pushed my body. I was sore, sore, sore but it felt so good. Tomorrow I go back again, mostly because I can move without my legs or arms screaming at me - lol. My eating is spot on and in moderation. And, I'm happy to say those 10 pounds are gone. *poof*

I'm ok until I get in my head and screw with it.

TDI, DAI - Phase 3

My brother's unofficial diagnosis is traumatic brain injury (TDI) with diffuse axonal injury (DAI) phase 3. That's about the worst that can happen. He could a) die, b) survive but be in a vegetative state, c) survive and be limited in some capacity (emotional, physical), d) come out "normal". D is a best case scenario.

I have no further words.

 My borther in black and green, doing what he loves, what makes him free.

My borther in black and green, doing what he loves, what makes him free.

Excitement turns to heartache...

I've been pretty excited to put this website together. I haven't done one for a long time and this was new with a fresh concept. All done after the work hours, of course. [ahem...]

I received a panicked call on Tuesday. It seems my brother, who is an avid bicycler and has been for years, was involved in an incredibly serious accident. The group he was riding with were on their second decent of this particular mountain and my brother hit a ridge and was flown off -- from a speed of 45 mph!! Omg. He was wearing his helmet but how effective that was, who knows?

Granted we hadn't talked in years as I was "too different" from him [business conservative versus liberal hippie] but... family, you know?

Frantic arrangements were made to fly out and be there. It was incredibly heartbreaking. His injury is traumatic, very serious and bad. He was swollen and tied to all these tubes and machines. We could do nothing - zero, zilch, nada. We were helpless and scared.

Thankfully the doctors are excellent, the facilities wonderful. But we're on a waiting game to see what the brain injury results are, if any. We wait to see if he will come out of the coma. We wait to see if he'll live. We wait. And wait.

I flew back on Friday and just feel so out of it emotionally and physically.

I'm trying find the positive and learn the lessons this experience has taught us.

  • Have paperwork easily available for those who will need to work on your behalf (bills, banking information, etc.).
  • Communicate with those important to you. Tell them, talk to them, love them. Don't wait until something traumatic happens.
  • If you’re employed and have benefits, get both short-term and long-term disability no matter your age or your financials. If not for your benefit, but for those who love you/depend on you.

That's all I've got for right now.