Church and Health

Our church has been holding worship services indoors for the past month or so I believe. Before that they were holding services on Wednesday evenings in the parking lot. That was really nice too, to be outdoors with your church family worshipping the Lord. But I’m so glad we are able to be indoors now. You have to call and pre-register; pretty much reserve a seat for yourself and whoever is coming with you. Today I went with Alyssa, Sam and Lelly. Last week I woke up Samantha to go. This week I left her alone. I know she worships at youth group during the week so I’m not a big stickler for her to attend on Sundays.

The series our Pastor has been preaching about is health. The first Sunday was about physical health and how our body is a gift from God and we should treat it that way. You know it’s funny when I was saved I immediately felt guilty that I smoked cigarettes. Did that make me stop at that time? No. But I knew I was not honoring God with my body by smoking. I did quit right after I was baptized and that was 8 years ago. And I have no intention of starting again. I miss it still; but I do not want to go through the hell of quitting all over again.

Last Sunday Pastor John preached about mental health. I think he did a really good job addressing a tough and often taboo subject. I’m only as healthy as I am because I had God in my life guiding my every step. A lot of people aren’t that fortunate or shut God out when it comes to their mental health. Me? I ran to Him. And The Lord did not fail me.

Today’s message was about spiritual health and our walk with The Lord. There were tough questions asked such as how often are you reading your bible? Are you praying without ceasing? Are you telling people about the Gospel as we are commanded to do? I know that’s where I fall desperately short. I don’t spread the Gospel and God has given me plenty of opportunities to do so. And every time I say to myself that I blew it. The Gospel is the best news ever. Jesus came here as a helpless baby, lived a life without sin, died a criminal’s death upon the cross and took on the punishment of my sin and your sin. He took upon God’s wrath. Amazing. He was buried in a borrowed tomb and three days later he rose! He’s Alive! We worship a living God! God found a way to reconcile us to Him by giving us His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.

Hanging Out With Thomas

It’s no secret that Thomas comes for dinner every Sunday. It’s our routine that we just fell into when he started living at the group home. Before he moved into the group home I had daydreams that he would be here at our house all the time now that he lived a mere 15 minutes away. I also had visions of me bringing him to church with me every Sunday. Well none of that happened. Thomas didn’t want to go to church (I tried), and we’re all so busy during the week; Thomas with his program and then his routine at his house and us with work and school; visits during the week are far and few between if at all. But this Sunday routine is nice. It’s predictable and after not seeing Thomas all week we really do miss him and we’re glad to see him every Sunday afternoon.

Today was nice, we received a call from the group home staff that they were going apple picking. Thomas told us he had a good time so we were happy for him. He likes to talk, my Thomas. Sometimes he just chatters about his day program or ask me how much my new car cost, am I going to pay for it? “Mom, are you going to work?” Sometimes he makes me smile/laugh and other times I just shake my head at what he says.

Thomas is 24 years old and I couldn’t be happier or more proud of the man he turned out to be. He’s been gifted with resilience and the ability to adapt to the various environments he’s had to live in. Because there were times he wasn’t safe to live with and he needed to be at a place that could provide what we could not. And it worked thanks be to God. We made decisions no parent should have to make. But we made those decisions based on what was best for him, not what we wanted or caring what others thought of us.

Tonight as Thomas and I were having dessert together sitting at the kitchen island, Thomas sat there and said,”Mom…” I answered, “Yes, Thomas…” He then says out of nowhere, “I love you.” Totally on his own accord. It’s usually me saying “I love you” a few times when we drop him off before Thomas answers back, “I love you too Mom.” Like I’m pulling teeth.

But tonight was special and it was nice and it made me realize how much I love him too. And that everything we went through was worth it. We’ve come out the other side. A simple “I love you” is not it all that simple.

Goodbye Cyn…

I found out today that one of my favorite paraprofessionals passed away. Cynthia was definitely one of a kind and her presence will be missed by so many. When I started at my school Cynthia was a one to one health para for one of our medically fragile students. I didn’t know the student that well, I mean I knew what nursing procedures she had ordered but I didn’t know the student like what was normal or not normal for her as a person. Cynthia was very patient with me and gave me pretty much the student’s whole past history because she had been assigned to this student for a few years. She knew her in and out.

Cynthia was very, very pro child/pro student. Everything she did was for her class and the students of that class. The past two years Cyn was assigned a different medically fragile student. A boy this time. She never took her eyes off him. Literally. She felt it was her job to give her all to that student and that is what she did. If she didn’t feel as though that student was “right” in that moment, morning, noon or afternoon she would call or simply bring the child to the nursing office for me to check him out. On more than one occasion Cynthia followed her gut and she was right that the student wasn’t well that day and needed more interventions that we could give him there at school. I trusted her and she trusted me. We had a great working relationship and I enjoyed her as a person as well. She didn’t talk much about herself. But was not shy in her observations of you and she would think nothing of letting you know what she was thinking.

I can’t believe she’s not here anymore. She’s with the Lord dancing with Jesus. I know this with all my heart.

Different But The Same

So we are back in school. Some students are fully remote like any typical school and some students are blended where one week they attend school in person and the next week they are remote. It was a little confusing to begin with which students need nursing procedures and meds and what week they were attending? The first week was relatively smooth, one of my favorite students who needs nursing care was in attendance and it was so so good to see him; I haven’t seen my students since March when they closed the schools down. And I’ve missed my students so much. Before the quarantine and closing schools I would see these kids everyday rain or shine. Some for a few minutes, others for a bit longer and some multiple times a day. And then there’s the medically fragile students who need more care and eyes on them than other students. They usually have a one to one para professional and they will alert me if they have concerns or questions I’ve built up trust with a lot of paras and they know I will come right away if they feel something isn’t right with the child or if they have a seizure.

Our paras here are amazing. Yes I’m very partial and haven’t witnessed how other paras function outside of District 75/Special education. I like it here in District 75. After spending the summer working at the recreation center with typical kids I still prefer my D75 kids. Yes it’s more challenging and some students have unpredictable behavior but for the most part they are extremely polite and just thankful when you have taken care of them. Even when it’s something as minor as a nosebleed. They will listen to me. The typical children at the recreation center would refuse to wash say a small bleeding cut on their hand. They would be freaking out that it was going to hurt. I would have to cajole and almost stand on my head to get an abrasion cleaned up. My D75 students aren’t like that. If I ask them gently to wash their hands or apply pressure to a bleeding knee abrasion they pretty much do as they’re told. Even the students who don’t like to be touched due to sensory issues are usually good about receiving nursing care and following directions.

I seriously can’t wait until all my students are back at school full time. I consider myself lucky that we’re back at all. But I miss how things used to be. I know I’m not alone that I want this whole covid and being socially distant and wearing masks time of this life to be over.

I do wish our schedules were different. I liked the busyness of a full school with all my student that I give care too in attendance. The day went fast and I love what I do.

Stress!

We all have stress; all of us. So don’t think that I think I’m any different or more stressed than anyone else. I‘be said before that I’m in school for my Bachelors degree in Nursing. Something I never imagined myself doing. But man this is hard. I’m talking mainly about this freaking Bio chem class I have yet to pass and finish. I don’t even want to excel in the class; passing by the skin of my teeth is good enough.

I’ve had to begin my next class while trying to figure out the exasperating bio chem. The next class is Care of The Elderly and this I can get into because it’s actual nursing! And everything makes sense to me. The readings are long but not torturous. This I can enjoy.

I’m also working, but work isn’t particularly stressful. I mean we have certain stressful situations that arise here and there, and personality conflicts as usual. But work itself, it’s going well. The way my school is running is in person vs remote learning, is that a certain group of students come to school for one week (5 days) then the next week they are home and learning remotely. In the meantime during that next week are a whole other group of in person students. These first couple of weeks have been a little confusing but it will all work out and we will all be in sync with each other soon enough.

It’s Fall and The Weekend!

I’m sitting here in my kitchen (why do we always sit in the kitchen so much?) and I’m taking in the quiet morning and this morning’s fall weather. Tommy and Samantha and Lelly are upstate at our friends’ (Bill and Martha’s) lake house and Alyssa is with Sam so it’s just the cats and dogs and me. I wanted to stay home this weekend, not that I don’t love the lake house but there’s something about being alone occasionally that is soul soothing to me.

I thought I might be nervous being alone. There have been very few occasions that Tommy and I haven’t slept together in the same bed. I’m reminded of the first time we went to Bill and Martha’s lake house. I fell asleep on their couch and Tommy went to bed in the bedroom with 2 twin beds each on one end of the room. I climbed into bed next to Tommy telling him to “move over.” Haha. I don’t know where I expected him to move to. Needless to say it was an amusing night’s sleep. But I didn’t want to sleep in a bed without him

So this weekend began with dinner with Thomas on Friday night. The group home agency was having a staff appreciation party and asked me to take Thomas out so all the staff could attend. Of course I agreed but warned them that Thomas is only good for a few hours outside his home in the evenings. After a while he gets tired and simply wants to go home. The house manager agreed and would have a staff person there around 9 to meet Thomas. Well, he made it to about 8pm before he started lecturing me that he wanted to go home. “This is not my house, this is *your* house…I’m not supposed to see you Friday night, I see you on Sundays…bring me back, I want to go back.” I gently explained that there wasn’t any staff at his house for another hour. Thomas is not easily entertained. He wouldn’t watch television (not that he ever does), refused to sit on the couch instead of at the kitchen island, and continued to lecture me with his facts. Thank God 9pm rolled around pretty quick and he was happy to go home.

Yesterday I did the weekly food shopping, hit the Sal Val and then headed off to Jersey City to see Sam and Alyssa’s apartment that Sam just moved into last month. It’s a luxury apartment and oh my gosh it is gorgeous. It’s a perfect space for the 2 of them (Alyssa isn’t moving in until they are married). I loved everything about it, their taste in furniture, Alyssa’s touches of color and her love of plants and nature. We walked around the neighborhood a while, stopping at little stores and boutiques here and there. One store was all vintage 70’s to 90’s clothing and accessories. Alyssa couldn’t help but laugh at some of the clothes and I totally tripped down memory lane with their 90’s clothing inventory. I found the coolest, vintage, large frame sunglasses in perfect condition. You know I had to get them.

Today I’m again venturing to the great Garden state to have dinner with my mom and family. Alyssa and Sam will also be joining us. It will be a nice Sunday afternoon. Tomorrow everyone will be home again and I’m glad. I think I’ve had enough alone time. I’m so used to someone being home mostly all the time. And I don’t mind it at all. My girls are pleasant and make me laugh. And Tommy being home is great, we have a shared sense of humor of things that are “funny/not funny.” I need to take my bike out, soon! I feel as though this God forsaken Biochemistry is hanging over my life like a grey cloud and it’s on my mind when I do other things beside work on that class. Soon…

Work And School

I have both, I work at a special needs school and I’m attending college online, pursuing my bachelors of science degree in nursing. So far work has been fine. Of course it’s been fine the students haven’t begun attending yet. They are due to begin their first day Monday September 21. I’m not sure how many students in total are planning to come. Plus there are so many different classifications of classrooms it’s hard to keep up. I spent most of last week trying to set up medical equipment for procedures my students require while they’re st school. I’m not sure which of those students will be in attendance but I set up as though the majority will be coming. Last week was also professional development time. We had one zoom or webcast meeting after another. In my office at work I did not have internet access so my supervisor permitted us to attend the web meetings at home.

As for school for me…I’m stuck in biochemistry hell. This is horrible. I did not expect this class to be easy, no not at all. And unfortunately I wasn’t disappointed. I did not pass the final which means I did not pass the class and I must retake the final and pass it in order to pass the class. It’s very hard to get excited and study for a class you are not happy about. I’m supposed to meet frequently with the course instructor. Honestly I don’t have time for as frequent as they are suggesting. I’m making time this coming Wednesday to meet with her on a phone appointment. I have hope that the course instructor will have some insight that I don’t have.

I remember taking chemistry while in nursing school and hating every minute of it and rejoicing at the C I earned. So I’m not at all surprised that I’m not enjoying this class at all, not one bit. I’m praying to pass, it doesn’t have to be this all our brilliant passing with flying colors a simply passing by the skin of my teeth will suffice.

I Found My Dress!

Oh I’m so happy! It was relatively painless too. I was half heartedly looking at gowns/dresses at the bridal shop when we went to pick out at maid of honor and bridesmaids dresses for the girls a few weeks ago. But nothing really struck me to want to try on. Plus we weren’t there that day for me.

I like “bling” and wanted a dress that sparkled but I didn’t want to over sparkle. So I was browsing online and found a dress that I did like, a light lavender color with thin straps. It arrived and I had high hopes, but it didn’t fit right and I didn’t like the top. It wasn’t *the* dress for me, so I wrapped it up, printed out the return label and immediately sent it back.

So back to the drawing board. I was casually going through one of my favorite stores website and saw it, the dress! But…I didn’t really know if it would be the one until it arrived and I could try it on properly. Well today was the arrival and it fit and it’s so so pretty! The bodice is blinged out with a plain skirt/tulle over satin. It’s really what I had pictured in my mind when I thought of what I wanted as my dress as mother of the bride.

I’m not going to show a pic; alterations need to be done, shoes need to be chosen and besides it’s my daughter’s wedding. The element of surprise should be maintained. I’m just so surprised that my dress hunting was so painless as were all the other previous dress hunting expeditions. I’m so happy for Alyssa and Sam. They are a sweet young couple who should be having a low stress engagement.

Starting a School Year… Differently

Ordinarily as in years past (I mean pre-Covid,) today I would have reported to my school to make sure doctor’s orders were in place and equipment set up for students I provide care for to use in their classrooms. This would be done the day before school begins. Instead I’m assigned still to the enrichment center in Brooklyn until Friday… Friday is the latest last day as per the DOE. Things could change last minute as they have been.

I really don’t mind working at the enrichment center. I work with a great nurse/friend. And today we met the nurse who is usually assigned to the school we’ve been occupying. Her name is Angela and she is very nice. She spent most of her day clearing out not needed items and rearranging furniture in the office. I didn’t blame her. If my office space were occupied by someone else I would want to clear things out and take stock of what goes where and what is needed/not needed.

As long as I’m at the enrichment center my hours are the same. And that’s ok, I like getting home when I do, and traffic isn’t bad at all. So if things are so great at the enrichment center why do I want to return to my school so bad? I miss my school plain and simple. I miss my coworkers, the paras and teachers I haven’t seen outside of Facebook since schools were closed back in March. I miss the jokes we share and laughing together. I miss being serious with someone who takes the same things as serious as I do.

I have no idea how many of our students will attend school in person and how many will be attending remote, meaning from home. I don’t know what our hours will be for students attending in person. I really miss the students. I know my workload will increase when I return to my school and provide care for the population we serve, but I don’t care. My school is home for me. I received the nicest email from a co worker who was concerned that I wasn’t returning to my school at all. She said if I didn’t come back “it would be an incredible loss to our school.” I gasped. What a nice thing to say.

I also miss my office and my desk. I know where everything is and I know how to call just about anyone in the building for anything I might need. There’s something to be said for familiarity.

Fixing a Tattoo

About 3-4 years ago I had my upper left thigh tattooed by who I thought was a reputable artist. He was not. And I ended up being unsatisfied and unhappy with the final product. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I didn’t wear shorts that were shorter than Bermuda shorts (like 8” long) and I wouldn’t wear mini skirts. I did wear a bathing suit at the beach or up at our friend’s lake house but I was not happy to have my upper thigh showing.

This summer I decided to have the tattoo “fixed.” Tommy recommended Jack who is an artist here where we live. We played text phone tag for a bit, then finally we were able to communicate with each other. I sent Jack pictures of my leg and he immediately wanted to know who did “that.” I am not outing the original tattoo’er and told him I’d rather not say. Jack was fine with that and went about planning his course of action to help me.

This past Wednesday was my appointment. I was nervous. Not about having another tattoo done but more nervous and embarrassed to show Jack the original tattoo in person. I had no reason to be nervous. Jack was great, very professional. He went about his business drawing, picking out stencils and was so creative and intense about fixing this tattoo. I knew I was in good hands. Finally after much back and forth with Jack explaining what he wanted to do and his reasoning behind his plan; Jack took tattoo markers and drew outlines on my leg. He then placed various stencils; every now and then asking me if I liked what he was creating. I said yes over and over. I let him develop his vision and play it out on my leg. He added detail where there was none and he added artwork where there should have been. He also covered up mistakes made by the original guy.

After about an hour we were ready to begin the actual tattooing. I am not going to lie, it hurt…a lot. I started texting to take my mind off it. First my husband but he was working so that didn’t pan out. Then I texted Lelly who sent me pictures of our dog Lola wearing a kerchief on her head. I was afraid to laugh for fear I would move and screw things up. After I was done texting Lelly I tried my mom who was more than happy to text with me. That was great. At first she didn’t understand why I was so unhappy with the original work and when I explained and showed her the mistakes she got it and we texted pretty much the whole time Jack was working.

I kept thinking of Jack saying, “A tattoo is supposed to accent the body part, to make that part look good and go with the natural lines of the body. This tattoo does none of that.” That’s kind of what kept me going as Jack was working on the new design. So three hours later he finished part 1. After he was finished with the aftercare instructions Jack said he wanted to thank me for letting him do what he wanted, that I didn’t try to take control of the process and refuse his suggestions. I didn’t know what to say except thank him for having the vision he had to fix what was wrong.

I go back in 4 weeks for Jack to finish up. There are roses that need to be filled in and other aspects to be finished and sharpened up. I can’t wait to see the finished product. So far it’s been well worth the pain.