Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Year in Retrospect

Well here we are....the day after Christmas 2012. I know I always say this...but it seems like it was just yesterday that it was summer and we were out by the pool, yet here we are...almost ready to bid 2012 a fond farewell and welcome in a new year in this still relatively new millennium. Where does the time go?

This time of year is always for of retrospect...looking back over the past months and acknowledging both the good and bad. From today's position....the last week or so has kind of clouded both my view and my memory as I have been sick beyond words. When there are literally days you don't remember and you had to remove all medicine from your own reach for fear you would overdose yourself because you couldn't remember when, what and how much you previously know you are pretty sick. It wasn't all bad though. According to my late husband and mother and myself had some pretty entertaining conversations. Wish I had been coherent enough to remember them. Then again though....had I been coherent....they likely would not have happened. Nine days later I am still trying to regain my energy and fighting to keep this full on cough which has just developed, from going into my chest. The biggest blessing though is....although David had something that kept him down a few one else in the house has gotten what I have! Perhaps it is because they quarantined me and followed me around with the most fowl smelling can of Lysol that they could find. All in all though....Christmas turned out fine and I once again seem to have my memory in tact.

That being said...looking back over has been an interesting, exciting, frustrating and all in all wonderful year and to be quite honest....I feel very blessed.

January set the stage for this year as we began it on a pathway that would change life for us all. We made our first trip to Shriners Hospital in St. Louis, MO. It was definitely a God everything from work to the weather worked in our favor. As I recall in January the weather was darned near perfect (50's and 60's) and my boss gave me whatever time we needed as we had no idea what Shriners was about at that time. It was at this time that we found that David not only needed surgery....but if he didn't have could forever effect the quality of his life. It was  a lot of information to process all at once...but the answer was an easy....YES!

February brought on a bag of mixed blessings. Shriners called with a surgery date of April for David....and on the very same day......I found that I was to be laid off from my job in just two weeks. Again...the weather was amazing and God marched right along with me as I barely had time to worry about saying goodbye to my job. There was simply too much to do planning for a surgery I knew almost nothing about, a recovery I knew almost nothing about and a future I really knew nothing about. It was this month too that I had the idea of Cheesecakes for David and I began selling the special cheesecakes in order to pay for any unexpected expenseswhich might incur for David. And trust me.....they did!

March was an amazing month. It flew by as I baked and delivered cheesecakes almost daily. The weather stayed in the 60's and 70's and I prepared as best I could....for the unknown that was about to be thrust upon us. It was this month too that I was reminded again and again how wonderful friends, family and even complete strangers can be. Much generosity was shown my family in many different ways at this time and the out pouring of prayer was amazing. I as a person and we as a family were humbled beyond any measure.

April was the true beginning of David's journey to walk. It was a strange time as we had  had 90 degree weather in Kansas and we had put our air conditioning on twice already. This was a month of first experiences for all of us. Because of David's condition after surgery....he would have to be flown back to KS, so to simplify life...they flew us out there too. This was my first time in a small (5 seater) plane. I learned that little affects David and that I never hope to have to fly in such a contraption again. Bless those that flew us to and from but God help me....I hope those rides were the last I ever have to take in such a small plane. This was also the first time I left Z home by himself for any period of time and it was the first time I got to experience the wonderful hospital part of Shriners. In a matter of 48 hours....I almost had a heart attack flying to MO, David had a life changing surgery..... and after surgery....David got asperative pneumonia and we almost lost him. I learned that people who truly love you will drive hundreds of miles just to hold your hand and be there "just in case," and that good friends have your back even when you are hundreds of miles away. I also learned that Z has an eye for color and can paint. This was also the beginning of my education on the breaking down of health insurance, sleeping on a futon, David's new found flexibility, bed sores and being afraid to shut an eye. Again though....I experienced the generosity of people who were willing to help watch David, bring us food and calm me when I hyperventilated myself silly over the fear of not knowing.

May was the month that I realized yet again...the resiliency of David as he DID go back to school way ahead of schedule. I learned that I had mastered (if one can truly master such a thing) the road to St. Louis.....and best of was out!!!!

June was the month I began to start breathing again. It was the month that I remembered the joy and peace of hanging clothes on the line, the month that we headed outside for the season and the month that I came to some realizations about family, friends and myself. It was a month of learning and getting to know Z a little better. Nothing says mother/son outing like going to a Nugent/Styx/REO concert together!

July was the month of the prodigal son. Manchild came home again. This time....the child part had done some growing. He went from Manchild to "The Older Boy!" David spent his days in the pool and other than a couple of scary moments....his recovery was amazing. It was not lost on me how blessed we were and how happy I was starting to feel.

August brought a new school year and a yearly event where old friends get together and celebrate both our town and our friendships. Life was finally back on track. Everyone was back to their own rooms and normal (at least what passes for normal around here) routines. It was also in August that we welcomed our newest family member....Vic our baby pit. Okay....he is The Older Boys....but Vic and I did bond.

September taught me that maybe you can't go home....but you can definitely at least visit the past. We celebrated our 30th class reunion and saw some we hadn't seen in 30 years. There was laughter, stories and the knowledge that we all had a connection that no one could take away from us. It was also another big and life changing month for he had his VNS (vagal nerve stimulator) put in, to lessen if not totally control his seizures and help to ween him off his seizure meds.

October made me realize one of two things. Either I am simply oblivious to the world around me and completely gullible or my family and friends can REALLY keep a secret. I was honored with a surprise birthday party for a landmark birthday. Yes folks....I turned 50. As intimidating as AARP tried to make it for me....I did come to terms with the fact that I was darn lucky to have made it to such an age in as good of condition as I am in. I had no complaints.

November seemed to bring out a different side of me this year. Was it that I had hit a stage in my life where I didn't care what people thought of me or was it that I just felt that the whole stinkin' world had gone crazy and I was beyond baffled at how it had happened? I think we will just chalk it up to the elections and my ever growing disdain for elected officials and their closed door cover ups, lies, deceits and an obvious head long run for socialism and destruction of the Constitution. Yeah....I snapped somewhere during this month and my mouth nor my typing fingers seemed to have any kind of filter. The upside.....if there was one...was that it appeared that I irritated people on both sides of the at least I was an equal opportunity irritater....and at least people were reading. Oh and let us not forget that this was the month that I discovered Duck Dynasty. It made me Happy! Happy! Happy!

Which brings us to December. December was a "best laid plans" month. I planned to do much more than I actually accomplished. I did do baking I hadn't done in several years and I did find that I "can" do most all of my Christmas shopping in one day if I am with Chris and I start at 6 a.m. and don't plan on making it home until 7:30 p.m. I also found out that the Mayans were I was glad I didn't put any Christmas purchases on credit card!!!! What I really found out though.....yet again is: when the chips are down and I need him....Z always steps in and takes over helping to complete the tasks I leave uncompleted and basically this year.....saving Christmas for us all.

Yeah...2012 was quite a year. It marked a decade since I lost my mom and somehow this year there was greater peace than ever before. My family took some tough hits with my sister in laws illness, my dads fall, the unexpected loss of my cousin and the loss of my oldest living (I believe) uncle. My town took some hits too. Cancer ran rampant and we lost a father of two after a years long battle with brain cancer. We also lost a town matriarch and a little girl who taught us all that life is a gift and that there is grace in dying as well as living.

On the personal side of things...I have gotten to witness strengths in each of my children that has showed me....maybe I didn't do it all wrong after all. While this year has given me pause and given me at times more questions than has also given me a great deal of peace, some self awareness and a happiness that had been missing for many years. In so many ways....much has been right with my world and that which has not.....I have somehow manage to at least gain perspective on it.

I can't say I will miss 2012....for missing always comes later on down the road when I am alone with my thoughts waxing nostalgic over the wind blowing through a line of clothes or an early morning breakfast with friends at the fire pit. No...I don't think there will be tears as 2012 slips away....because 2013 holds so much promise. It will be 2013 where Davids progress will come to fruition, where I make decisions that will change my life and my path......and where I will get to continue to see my children turn into the people they are suppose to be. It is really rather exciting if you think about it.

I guess in retrospect....2012 had a little bit of everything and I have no doubt it gave us all what we need to continue on to 2013. So for all of you, my family, friends and readers....I hope that your Christmas was happy and blessed, full of family and love....and that 2013 brings you joy....happiness.....and is your best year yet! Happy New Year to you all!

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Tragedy in Connecticut

Praying! Tears! My heart is breaking. I know I am not alone. I know America is in agony today. As parents we do everything we can to protect our kids. We make them wear seat belts, teach them to not play with matches or electrical outlets and do our best to help them avoid dangerous situations whenever possible. It simply does not occur to us that school could be a dangerous situation. Perhaps the last decade or so should have taught us better with incidents such as Jonesboro and Columbine, but the mind shuts those things out. When such horrific things happen we tend to go into great sorrow for those affected but in our reality....this could never happen to us.

As I heard about Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut today....I thought about the ages of those "elementary" kids. They are just babies. They were little ones counting the days until Christmas, going about their day as usual and feeling protected amongst each other and the adults who guide their daily activities. How horrifying this must have been for them....kindergarten to fourth graders. Could they even understand or process what was happening? God knows they couldn't possibly know the reason why their normal day was suddenly turned inside out with gun fire and friends and teachers being killed before their very eyes.

I immediately thought of my own kids. What if this were to happen at David's school? Would David even begin to understand what was happening to him and those around him? Would his excited response to loud shots and other kids screams make him a target? As a mother I can't even imagine the fear knowing that someone was killing children in your child's school and being powerless to do anything but wait....not knowing whether the child you kissed good bye this morning would ever come out of that school alive. Just the thought as I am writing this brings on almost uncontrollable sobs.  Some parents in that small town will have the amazing fortune to see their little ones walk out of that school....scared, shaken and crying....but alive. Other parents though....will not be so lucky. They will wait to see their child...hoping and praying...only to find that they are gone. And WHY?

I was listening to different news casts and they were trying to pick a type that does this kind of thing. Sometimes they are bullied....sometimes not. Sometimes they are quiet and withdrawn.....and sometimes they have friends. Sometimes they have a mental illness....and sometimes they don't. The only two common things I heard were that they are almost always male and they are usually under 25 years of age. So why would someone be so angry that they would openly and willingly kill innocent children? I am sure in the days and weeks that follow....the story will unfold. I am sure we will get to know the shooter intimately.....although he too is dead. I am afraid a parent, I don't care one fig about this shooter. I don't care if he was spanked as a child, someone made fun of him as a teenager or if he was on drugs and "not responsible" for his actions. I don't care about his story. His story became unsympathetic and completely over as far as I am concerned....the moment he took his first shot inside that school. The only stories I care about now are the ones of the kids and their families who were forced to live through and some die because of the hell this shooter chose to put them through.

If I sound angry....I am. I am angry that these adults and children died so senselessly. I am distraught for the parents who are having to live their worst nightmares. My heart is breaking for the survivors who will undoubtedly be scared to ever step foot in that school again. I am livid that one young man made the choice to walk into an elementary school and destroy a town forever. I am also angry that this story will become the flag in which supporters of destroying our 2nd Amendment rights will ride into battle with....claiming all guns are evil and that they should be made illegal. blood is boiling today.

Today showed us that none of us are exempt from tragedy. In the blink of an eye....what we wake with may not be what we go to bed with. I have said many times of parent should have to outlive their child and especially no parent should have to lose a child in such a horrendous way. All I keep thinking is...There but for the grace of God, go I. My heart aches for all those whose lives where changed today and for parents who will never be consoled. You can't fix the I pray. When my children walk through the door tonight....I will hug them and let them know that they are loved and I will thank God for another day with them...knowing that tonight....I am one of the lucky ones. RIP Sandy Hook victims and may God's perpetual light shine upon you!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

When in Doubt....Pray!

FACT: I really don't have time to blog today! FACT: I really couldn't help myself. HOPE: This blog doesn't take me too long to say what I need to say!

The first thing I opened my eyes to this morning was a text update from our local news station. It reported that right here in our little town...there had been a shooting. No details were available except for the fact that one had been Life Watched to a Wichita hospital in critical condition. My first thoughts...."the holidays!" With all the joy and happiness many of us feel this time of year.....others feel just as much pain and despair......sometimes resulting in a very bad outcome.

Trying to put the report out of my head and getting the kids ready for school...I glanced at facebook to find that my cousin had put up a newspaper story about a man in a little town not far from where she lives, who was arrested for public intoxication. Apparently he was sitting on the street corner repeating that no one loved him. Some might snicker at this or even find it down right funny....but I find it tragic. Again....I couldn't help but wonder if it were the holidays spurring this on?

This morning put my mind into overdrive. Yes....I am writing this as a Christian and reaching out to other Christians. The Christmas season...if you take away all the presents, shopping, decorations...glitter and glitz all comes down to one thing. The birth of Our Lord. This is the time of year that Christians should be remembering that God gave the world a gift that we can never hope to deserve. He gave us His son...the Savior He had promised. He didn't give Him to us in great wealth but in poverty so that we could see that how much money you have, how big a tree or how many presents simply don't matter. It is what is inside us and how we welcome this tiny King in our hearts that really matters.

A year ago today I lost a dear friend....Sunny. She was young....way to young to die, but in her short life, she taught me more about being a Christian and the true meaning of Christmas than anyone I have ever known. Her faith was astronomical and her kindness and generosity where unmatched by most. Many was the time she showed me that no matter who you were talking to, their beliefs and yes....even their political persuasions....that they should always be handled with love and kindness. Once she told me...."When in doubt...pray!" Those words have always stuck with me.

So where am I going with all of this? This is the Christmas season! While most of us will shop, buy gifts, give gifts and enjoy the lights, the parties and the decorations....let us not forget that the Reason for the Season is Jesus. Perhaps if we remember this then we will see those we pass with different eyes and remember that not everyone will be with family this season. Not everyone's family will be whole, not everyone's health will be good, not everyone will have a home and not everyone will have someone to share the holiday with. It is an easy time of year for some to lose hope in themselves and those around them. So maybe... if while we are out doing our Christmas shopping or just simply out running errands....we smile at those around us a little more, we use patience in those long lines and we keep our words kind and our actions helpful who knows....maybe we will turn someones day around and give hope to someone who has all but lost it.

And for all those we know who are hurting and struggling this time of year and we don't know what to do for them. In the words of my dear friend Sunny....."When in doubt...pray!"

Friday, December 7, 2012

The High Cost of Free

A story: If you read my blogs then you have heard me more than once speak of my friend Thiry. Well Thiry is married to Kelly and Kelly has an amazing talent for wood working, cabinetry and doing custom interior carpentry. For years Kelly used his skills and abilities working for others, but a few years ago...he decided to go out on his own. This act is the true meaning of the word entrepreneurship. He started with only his talent and a small amount of money and grew his business to the point where he could take care of his family. Of course they are not rich as his is mostly a one man enterprise....but word of his talent got around and he was more than able to make ends meet. Kelly, like many small business people in this country did his best to help grow not only his business but other small businesses. He tried to buy local and purchase inventory and goods from other small businesses. Somehow....even in the down turn of the economy of the last few years, Kelly has been able to hold on with the hope that soon the economy would take an upswing and he and his fellow small business people might once again be on stable and even prosperous ground. Of late though....the possibility of Kelly being able to maintain his small business along with the life expectancy of the small businesses he does business looking very grim.

In the last week, Kelly has been getting notices from the small businesses he deals with letting him know that as of the first of the year....they will be charging significantly more for their products and services. Why? Because they as small businesses are going to have to start paying out health care benefits to their employees or risk high penalty costs. What does this mean for Kelly? It means that he is going to have to pass this increase onto his customers which means that rather than going with a small business man who does beautiful custom work....many of his customers will be forced financially to go with the big companies who do cheaper cookie cutter work. It also means that if God willing his business where to get busy again....he would not be able to hire extra help to get him through the busy times because he would not be able to afford to cover them in healthcare.

What is the probable outcome? Kelly's business and many of the small businesses he currently works with will no longer be around in 12 to 24 months. The trickle down effect will be that these small businesses who do employ people will either have to cut their employees hours so they won't have full time status....or the employees will likely be unemployed as these businesses close. The days of being able to start and build a business will be gone due to the high cost of healthcare put on businesses.

Now I know many of you are sitting there thinking...."But businesses should supply healthcare!" Why? Why are we guaranteed healthcare just because we have a job? I have worked for years at jobs that did not supply healthcare. I supplied my own. Was it easy? No! But I never once felt owed healthcare and I was thankful for a job. Bottom one owes me anything! If I want it....I will work for it and if I can't work...then I will do without. My healthcare is not the responsibility of the taxpayers or the government. It is mine.

FREE! It is an enticing word and one that will make even the most jaded person do a double take. Free is what everyone wants and sadly what everyone suddenly feels entitled to. The word free really started getting bandied about a great deal when talk of President Obama's healthcare reform started. We all knew there was an issue with healthcare in this country especially where the very poor and the elderly were concerned and we all knew that something needed to be done....but when the word "free" was spoken.....people suddenly lost all good and rational sense and jumped on the Obamacare bandwagon. Rather than start with drug companies and work to lower drug costs and work on getting healthcare affordable.....we went from astronomical cost to "free!" Really???? 

Perhaps it is my partial college education or more likely my age and the life lessons I have learned....but one thing I know for sure is.....NOTHING is free. When a product or service are offered as free...someone...somewhere always ends up paying! An example: I can offer someone a free cheesecake and to them it maybe free but I paid for it. I paid for the ingredients and I put in the labor so that they might have a "free" cheesecake. I might be able to offer a free product on a rare occasion....but if I did that for everyone all the time, I would go broke and I would no longer be able to supply anyone with cheesecake. It is the same with Obamacare. Someone is going to have to pay for this so-called free entitlement that people seem to think is owed them. Here is how it will work.

We as a country are not healthy. Daily......people die of cancer, lupus, AIDS, heart disease and the list goes on and on. We are an obese people and the obesity spurs many of these diseases on. We also have a large population of people with disabilities as well as a huge population of people 65+ years of age. What do all of these people have in common? Ninety percent will or currently do need some kind of chronic or intense healthcare. This means anything from specialty doctors to hospitalization, lab/pathology, radiology, therapies, surgeries, pharmaceuticals and even hospice care. Behind each of these needs are high tech equipment which costs thousands to millions of dollars, specialized professionals who require a paycheck that matches both their education and expertise and products and services required to educate, create and produce all of it. Healthcare is an amazing field with life saving advances made all the time....but it is anything but free. Without the advances and the specialists, the therapies, the care and the pharmaceuticals......many would die...and yet make no mistake, healthcare is a business. To tell Americans that all of this is somehow an entitlement and will soon be theirs for free is at the very least a bold face lie....but that lie was perpetuated into swaying a majority of Americans into not only buying into the lie but also helping to make it the law of the land. It is not a will soon be mandatory for all except those who are exempt like congress and the President. Do you see something funny going on here?

Tell me with any common sense at we can possibly supply everyone with free healthcare? Usually you get what you pay for and folks.....soon we will get just that. There will be no new advances in medicine because that takes money and if no one is paying for their healthcare....then no one is helping to fund advancements. And yes...there are those with disposable incomes that give to funding and advancements...but how many disposable incomes will there be when they are taxed to the hilt to pay for the "free" healthcare? Without medical study and advancements, diseases such as cancer will continue to go unchecked and millions more will die. And advances in heart disease, lupus and Parkinsons will never come to fruition. Then there are the machines that help to find and diagnose illness and disease. The new and upgraded models will never be produced without money, the current models will become dinosaurs because no one can afford to use them and the old ones will become obsolete. People will not be able to afford the education to even become a general practitioner, let alone a specialist and so those who have the education and expertise to work miracles such as organ transplants and neurosurgery.....will become non-existant. Life saving drugs from anti-biotics to cancer drugs will be black market only because no one can afford to make them or take them.

So what will free healthcare look like? It will look like long lines waiting in understaffed clinics to be seen. It will look like only basic care given because clinics and hospitals will not be able to afford the staff or the equipment to take care of the critical or chronic. It will look like an end to therapies such as physical, occupational and speech, and nursing staff will be responsible for the majority of patients seen, as doctors are going to become scarce. There will be a recurrence of contagious diseases and many with cancer, heart disease, etc will go undiagnosed. Mortality rates will increase and old age will get much younger. Yes...this is what free healthcare will look like because "free" does not afford you the top notch healthcare that many are expecting. Don't believe me? Do your own research. This has been the norm anywhere socialized medicine has taken hold.

It is pretty obvious that the word "free" bought this country a faulty bill of goods. By 2014 when Obamacare has done its damage, it will be like an implosion on this country. It will all but wipe out small business which will further damage the country. Big businesses who have to supply "free" healthcare to all full time employees will either cut back hours on full time employees or layoff to make up for the "free" healthcare that they must provide to the rest of their staff. Again....unemployment rates will rise which means the middle class will be gone and the number of the poor will rise. Businesses that do stay functioning will have to raise product and service cost astronomically in order to continue doing business and no one (especially those without jobs) will be able to live. Government will no longer be able to help the poor because it will be broke and people will be dying like flies because we have "free" healthcare. This country will be unrecognizable and the only one we will have to blame is ourselves. needed to be reformed. Insurance companies needed to stop covering elective surgeries like face lifts and lipo-suction. Perhaps there should be a ceiling in place for services and pharmaceutical companies needed to be brought into check so that they aren't making 300% on each pill they make. There are many things that could be done to lower healthcare costs and make it affordable for the majority of working Americans. And there are free clinics with good doctors and nurses who choose to volunteer their time and resources to those in need. The system might not be perfect but there are things to be done that would not bankrupt the healthcare system, the economy or the country as a whole......but instead....we chose free and felt entitled to do so.

My mother always said that you reap what you sew. This country is about to reap a whole lot of nothing because that is what free will get you. And as for small businesses like Kelly' the rate we are going.....they will soon just be a fun fact in our history books about what used to be possible in this country.....back before everything was "free!"