Thursday, April 17, 2014

Life In and Out of Hospitals--My Messy Beautiful

My Messy, Beautiful, Amazing Life
This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

As many continuing readers may know, my story is a long one...but I am taking part in the Messy, Beautiful project at Momastery and the best story I have to tell is mine.

I'll begin, at the beginning. I was born blue, three months early and my mother honestly believed that her labor pains were kidney stones because I wasn't due yet. Luckily the doctor convinced her to go to the hospital because by the time she got there I was already crowning. My mother went through natural childbirth to wake up after I had been transported to the nearby Children's Hospital. My esophagus wasn't formed and I had a birth defect of the heart, tetralogy of fallot, which is basically a hole in my heart. My first surgery was at 2 days old, to repair the esophagus. At two years old I went into cardiac arrest in my backyard. My mother found me. My mother is a WARRIOR! I had my first open heart surgery at 2 years old and my second at 7.

My parents tried to let me live a normal life. I played with the other girls in the neighborhood, but mostly spent my time with the boys playing street football and basketball, climbing trees and skinning my knees. I really don't know how my mother lived through the many mini-heart attacks I must've caused her.

At 17 I left for college, only an hour or so away. Got engaged my senior year; called off the wedding three months before it was supposed to happen. Found a job in Wheeling WV as a radio salesperson. Moved away from home with a 1976 Mustang II that barely ran. Scared the daylights out of my parents many times. While in Wheeling, I got engaged again. This time the wedding happened.

On our honeymoon, I had heatstroke. This required me to have a pacemaker inserted on December 13, 1996, a Friday.... I was 26 years old. That night, the heart monitor malfunctioned and I woke up to the machine flatlining.... I asked the nurse if I was dead, and she proved I wasn't by pinching my big toe. I went home with my "new" husband promising to take care of me. He left two hours later to go to a family party.

Seven months later I found out he was cheating on me. Came to my senses and realized he was emotionally and mentally abusing me also by telling me that I was a "freak" and "no one else would ever love" me so I might as well stay with him anyway. Nine months into our marriage we filed for divorce. I got the annulment through the Catholic church and moved back in with my parents.

I started working at my dream job in advertising. I stayed there for three years until my cardiologist made it known that the job was too stressful for my medical conditions. I left the only job I ever loved on the day our team found out we exceeded our goal for the year. I cried!

By this time I owned my own home. My bad taste in men continued. Dating one "stray" after another, as a friend's mother referred to my dates. Drunks, recovering drug addicts...I could "save" them, I thought. Finally, after way too long, I decided to "save" myself first.

I took trips with my friends. One friend and I went to Paris. I told her, but no one else, that I was having some dizzy spells, but I wasn't concerned much. Shortly after returning from Paris, I had to have brain surgery to have a cyst removed. A year after that, I had to have reconstructive surgery on my ankle, because I stepped off of a curb the wrong way.

After the surgeries, where did this leave me? I had a Master's degree,  had a job I didn't like, and I was lonely. I found a new job, actually, it found me, and I started traveling the country and being recognized for doing what I loved. I met a guy, a good one this time, and we started dating.

Fast forward to today...that good guy, D, my husband and I are coming up on our 9th anniversary. He encouraged me to go back to school and get my PhD right after we got married. I completed my degree last March (the picture above is my "hooding" ceremony in May 2013) and find a job teaching. I am still looking for that elusive tenure-track position, but my book on blogging is set to be released in June. I was honored to be able to interview Sister and include Monkee See--Monkee Do and Momastery in my book.

The doctor's told my mother if I survived the night I was born I would be a vegetable. I think I have surpassed that...and I know my mother, My Warrior, has been there the entire time, cheering me on, drying my tears, and loving me...even if she doesn't understand my drive or passion, which I get from both of my parents.

Anything is possible if you set your mind to quote Glennon; "Carry on Warrior(s)"!!