2018 has been a tough year to live through and look back on. In the grand scheme of things, I know I’m a very lucky woman. This year could have turned out much differently. So, instead of reliving all things that made the year very, very difficult – I am choosing to write about the year in review – focusing on the good – and there was a lot of good.
My favorite moment of 2018 was probably when Caleb told me he made the varsity high school swim team. Now, you probably don’t know anything about my son and the struggles he has been through. It’s not something I talk about a lot, and I certainly don’t write about it on here. I know he wouldn’t mind me talking about it. He is open with friends and talks a lot about his Autism with me. Caleb was diagnosed at 2 years and 4 months. There were concerns from the Doctor when he was a year and a half, but at that time, testing did not start until the child turned 2. I had only seen and heard of Autism once at that time. -This was 13 years ago. I don’t have a great memory, but I remember everything about those months and early years. There were therapists for speech, physical therapy, occupational therapy, vision therapy (before he received surgery on both eyes for strabismus), therapeutic pre-school, etc. Caleb had significant issues with coordination. A neurologist told us his muscles were “too loose,” blah, blah, blah. We heard it all. Caleb has pretty significant pronated ankles. He was in braces for years. We then moved out to the middle of nowhere…in the Midwest, and he could do some of the same services in the school, others we would have to pull him from school and drive into Chicago. At some point, we decided it was more important for him to be in school, than the results we were now getting from some of these therapies. In his younger years, the services all had much more of an impact than they were having as he grew older. We put everything into him having the most “normal” school experience possible, even letting him go without the braces on his feet. After a year out here, we moved to the town we are in now – based on their excellent school system. It was here, that after Caleb being in swim lessons for four years….that he finally learned to swim through the local parks district. As is common with people on the spectrum, he always had issues putting his face in the water. When the lessons finished, I asked his instructor if she thought Caleb would be okay joining the club swim team. She told me he was not ready. Thankfully, the following week, I ran into the woman who was in charge of the Parks & Rec club swim program. She asked why Caleb wasn’t swimming and encouraged me to have him join. Fast forward, years later and Caleb made the varsity swim team, as a freshman. It was a dream of his, which he achieved. I’ve always been proud of him and all of his efforts, but I know how big this is to him, and my heart is swelled with pride for him. Brian recently looked at me, and said, “Could you have ever imagined Caleb would be a high school athlete?” Caleb’s life is not the easiest in some ways, but I thank God for swim. I thank God for those who have worked hard to make his dreams come true. I thank God for all that swimming has given him.
Another great part of this year, has been watching Ryne enjoy his Senior year of high school. When I look back, my senior year is my favorite year ever. I’m so glad he’s also having that same great experience. He’s got a lot of friends, and he continues to make really great decisions – like joining the cross country team to “stay in shape.” Ryno is such a smart kid, but unfortunately…he knows that and doesn’t apply himself much when it comes to doing homework or studying. He knows he can get by with minimal effort. His SAT scores were really good, though, and because of that he has gotten some “fast track” applications to colleges, meaning he didn’t have to pay to apply and was accepted right away. I have no doubt Ryne can be whatever he wants to be. He hasn’t decided on a college yet, but my hope is the challenge of college work, will bring out the best in him. It’s all a super exciting time, and I love watching him go through it all. I also have to say, that he and his friends have made a huge difference for Caleb in school. Caleb was bullied quite a bit in middle school, but this year, he is treated like a king from all of these seniors. He is treated differently be the kids in his class, because of it. He even credits one of Ryne’s best friends, as being someone who is always there for him. Ryne also has friends that are Juniors, so I know he’ll still be looked after next year. Ryne is a great kid, who has such good taste in friends. I’m very proud.
2018 was a tough year to get things done, between all of the illness and physical stuff, but I’m stoked to have gotten to a few concerts. Brian and I got out to CO to go to a show and spend time with the bff and her hubby. I was also able to see my new favorite, Brandi Carlile. There was also a couple more shows spent with friends and was even able to do quite a bit of travel. Oh yes, and get in a few Broadway shows. I’m thankful, that as much as this year tried to stop me from having a life – I persevered. 2019 will also be a great year for concerts. I’ve even already gotten some concert tickets and am looking forward to a full year of music.
I left my job this year and went to another company. I still miss the people I used to work with, but I really needed to leave my old job. I think getting a text from my boss, the second business day after being carted out of work in an ambulance asking if I wanted to use vacation time or make-up the time was really eye opening in that I needed to get the fuck out…. I could hardly speak yet, but the concern was about my vacation hours (I’m a salaried employee…). I went to a new company, where after being there less than three months, I had to leave for two months for surgery and the company was nothing but supportive and took care of me financially. I may not love what I do for a living. I’ve known this for years, but making the decision to switch companies was most definitely the right decision.
When I look back, on when I started to know something was wrong with me – I knew in Nov 2017 something was off. I’d been working with that, but really it was probably a couple of months earlier that it all started. That’s when the unexplained constipation started. I was eating so healthy – it didn’t make sense. When I landed in the hospital and my potassium numbers came back, I remember the nurse saying, “You must have been feeling like garbage for a long time.” In the moment, I couldn’t make any connections, though. I was so sick… I’m very lucky my coworker noticed something was wrong with me and didn’t let me drive home, like I wanted. I’m lucky to have gotten the care I got. It was so strange to not be able to move my body, and for the words to be so delayed and stuttered out. From there, my body rebelled and it got to the point where I couldn’t use my left hand or turn my neck. I remember vomiting from the pain the week before surgery on my neck. Again, I’m lucky to have had a great surgeon. I still have a long way to go, but I am on the right track. I’m grateful to friends and family who have been there with me through it all. I know, that none of them understand, as they haven’t been through it. I know what I’ve been through and what I continue to go through. It is my journey, but I wouldn’t be where I am without the love and support of so many. I am a lucky woman.
I’m not going to make a bunch of resolutions, but I will continue to build on the work I’ve been doing already. I have been pushing my strength work every single day. I am going to add in the aerobic part of it that has been missing. Time is an issue, but my life is important enough that I need to make time. I’ll continue to work on myself and the person I am. The people I allow in my life. I deserve better than some of the crap I’ve allowed in my life. I know my worth, and will work on my self-esteem every day. I have issues putting other peoples needs, before my own, and I am changing that.
I work hard on being a positive thinker. I work on this, even when depression comes to visit. For me, it’s the simplest things, in the war against depression. I choose to do the little things, that bring me joy – clean bedding, listening to music as I clean house, taking my car through the “good car wash,” walking and snuggling with Jesse, cleaning my bathroom, and writing. I do these things, even when nothing seems to work – and even if I lose the battle, I continue to win the war. Life is good, even if it doesn’t always come easily. If you have these same struggles, continue the fight, in whatever way works for you – even if nobody understands “your” things. I mean, seriously…cleaning my bathroom does make me happy.
2019 will be a great year for this family. Brian and I have spent a lot of time trying to plan things out. It is so hard with his schedule, and the boys’ schedules, for us all to do things together – but this is the year. I’m excited for this chapter in our lives. We have built our lives together for the past 26 years, and I think year 27 is going to be fantastic.
My hope and prayer for us all, is that 2019 is our favorite year ever. The year will be what we choose to make of it. Happy New Year.