Being a Vaccinator

Last week I was able to receive my first of two Covid vaccine doses. I had no qualms about receiving it, and I had minimal side effects just a mildly sore arm for a day or two. This past Monday, one of my nursing coworkers asked me to come to one of the local high-schools that is a “POD” (point of distribution) for the Covid vaccine. As an RN, I would be a vaccinator. Add that to my resume. I had to be vetted/background checked before they let me work. So I was asked to go home in order for the people in charge to speak to those higher up and it might take a while. They called me to return to the high school a few hours later to begin work.

The line of people registered to receive the vaccine is at least a block and a half long outside the school. It wraps around the back of the school where it ends inside the building in one of the main entrances of the school. The people inside still have to make it across the cafeteria to yet another line where they are then divided out to available nurses aka vaccinators to receive their dose.

After waiting for a couple of hours outside in the cold, people are so happy to see a nurse ready to give them the Covid vaccine. You would expect some grumpiness or sour attitude especially after a long wait, but no. I receive nothing but smiles and relief to be sitting at my station. The giving of the injection itself takes about 2 minutes. But I don’t rush anyone; most people want to talk a bit, and that’s ok. Then there’s the taking off of the outerwear and getting me access to their upper arm where the injection is given.

I have been having such a pleasant experience giving Covid vaccinations. The people working there have been nothing but nice; asking what do you need, what can I get for you? PPE is provided and so is dinner. What more could one ask for?

They’re All Different

Tommy and I have four children. They were all pretty much planned we know the biology of it all. Sometimes I think people assume at least one child was a “surprise” because we have over the average amount of kids that most of our friends have. But no, not the case. I used to get a kick out of people counting them when we were all out in public together. It was amusing on one hand, then at the same time it was a little irritating, I mean 4 is not an outrageous number. Now that everyone is grown and independent it’s not often that we’re anyplace together as a family anymore. The last time was over the summer when we got together with Sam’s grandparents and my mother for Alyssa and Sam’s engagement.

I find it somewhat interesting that my children are all so different. Thomas is a category all his own and the girls are more or less typical human beings. Thomas has a flair for being dramatic about things that happen in his life and has also been known to attempt to lay guilt trips on Tommy and me. We don’t entertain that behavior. We had ridiculous difficult decisions to make concerning our son when he was growing up. Decisions no parent should have to make and we did what we thought was best. I don’t regret what we decided; none of it. Thomas can also be very entertaining and sweet and just a nice person. I think he takes after Tommy in those respects.

My girls…well in my girls I see a total mix of the two of us. However each of the three of them have completely different personalities. I don’t think any of them look like me, the only semi exception would be Alyssa and some of Samantha. They both have fairer skin than Tommy but they tan beautifully in the summer. If they aren’t careful they could burn. They tan through sunscreen, like me. I am fair yet I tan. I also see my natural hair color in Alyssa. My natural color is maybe a shade lighter. I used to have very dark blonde/light brown hair. Alyssa has beautiful brown hair and red tone highlights. What she doesn’t get from me is the amount of hair on her head nor the thickness of it. I have thin, regular amount of hair.

My Lelly totally takes after Tommy looks wise in my opinion. She has more of his olive skin, dark brown hair and blue eyes. All my kids have light colored eyes. Mine are blue and Tommy’s are green.

It’s funny when Lelly was born my father in law, Chick was holding her and staring at her and said that she looked like his mother. Unfortunately Chick didn’t have any pictures of his mother. Sad. But I think it’s pretty cool that she looks like someone I’ve never met or even know what they look like. I know it made Chick very happy.

Personality wise I can’t say with complete accuracy who takes after who. Alyssa doesn’t like conflict and tries to keep peace around her, Lelly makes me laugh. She’s very funny and will tell it like it is. Thomas understands sarcasm so it’s fun to joke with him, and Samantha can be very serious and then be very fun. I can talk to her, she’s a great listener and when she’s in the mood will then be a great talker and you realize she can be very deep.

I like that they’re all different, it’s just amazing that they are as different as they are. Same gene pool, same parenting environment, same house! Go figure.

Grief

A friend posted words about grief on Facebook yesterday.

I took a screenshot. I had to. I don’t believe I’ve read anything about grief that was truer than this. I think about my dad who went to be with The Lord 3 years ago this February. I can’t believe it’s been 3 years since I’ve talked to him. I don’t think I’ve gone through the complete stages of grief for him because I can’t talk about daddy or write about him without crying. I have no idea if that’s “normal” or not or if there even is a “normal” when it comes to grief. A couple of months ago I had a dream where daddy and I were together and we were talking. I don’t remember what we were saying but at the end of the dream he held out his arm towards me and hugged me. It was amazing. I know it was him coming to me within a dream for whatever reason. He looked healthy and younger than he did when he passed away. It was so so nice to see him. Every now and then I’ll see a blue cardinal or some sort of striking blue bird at my kitchen window. It will make a commotion until I see it, then the bird stares at me for a few minutes. I’m afraid if I move it will leave so I stay and stare back. The bird then flies away before I can get to my phone to take a picture. I’ve told Tommy about the bird and we aren’t sure if it’s my dad or his dad coming to visit. I truly believe it’s one of them.

New Year 2021

It’s New Year’s Day. I know we are all more than happy to bid 2020 a firm goodbye and good riddance. It’s pretty exciting to begin a new year. New attitudes, new ways of looking at things, new ways of dealing with situations. Some situations never change; year in year out; the same thing that makes you stop and say, “hmmm, again…again?”

I’ve decided to not make any New Years Resolutions. I have made decisions. I have decided to realize what is and what is not within my control and act accordingly. Take the freaking fracking bio chem class. The whole thing was within my control. It was up to me to take advantage of the help that was offered and I did and I worked hard and I finally passed the class. It was all due to decisions I made and stuck to.

It’s my decision to continue my nursing education so I can be an even better nurse than I was before I began the bachelors degree program. I’m looking forward to finishing the program so I’ll be able to take advantage of nursing opportunities that require a BSN. I’m not looking to leave the Dept of Ed anytime soon, I love working where I am and I love my students. But to know I am eligible to take advantage of other options is priceless.

I have some deep decision makings concerning my son. Thomas will always be mine. I say that with such conviction because I never want it to be mistaken that just because he doesn’t live with me he is less than mine. As a person with special needs he will most likely always be “mine”. The girls will all hopefully marry. They will still be my flesh and blood but they will no longer belong to me. They will have their own families to attend to and have children that will be “theirs.”

Thomas was not pleasant to be around this holiday season. We’ve decided he won’t be staying over at our house next Christmas Eve into Christmas Day. Today my heart hurt for him and I called his home to wish him a Happy New Year. He apologized for his actions on Christmas Day, I accepted his apology and then he hung up on me. That hurt. I did not call him back. I have decided I’m not playing into his drama. He might be special needs but he’s smarter than most give him credit for. He knows it’s rude to hang up on me and I will deal with that behavior when I’m ready.

So here’s to a Jesus led, prosperous, drama free, productive, smart decision making year!

Bachelors Degree and Bio Chem

I announced on Facebook to everyone that I passed Bio Chemistry. It was my last class this semester and I passed with a day to spare within this year. I’m proud of my self and annoyed all at the same time. I began the class in July, and was supposed to end at the end of August. But I failed the final in August. This class was hard man. And my brain doesn’t/wasn’t working in the manner bio chem needed it to. I’m used to memorizing what I need to know and then apply the knowledge as needed. Nope not this class. It was like my mind was like a sieve and the words and definitions just slipped on through and nothing I did stopped it.

I began online tutoring sessions with these wonderful and very patient course instructors. There were countless times I would just say very bluntly, “Ok you lost me!” Lelly said she wouldn’t want to tutor me because I was rude. I wasn’t rude; I was getting my point across. Otherwise the instructor would keep going on and I would be even more lost had I not stopped him. I had endless homework assignments from the course instructors and I pushed on through. It wasn’t like any nursing class, like you can explain your actions and interventions with evidence based practice. In Bio Chemistry there are all these new terms and definitions and cycles, things that work better in an acid environment and those that need a base environment. Ughh!!! And I’m finished with that! I passed!!! Oh happy day 😊!!

Special Needs

It’s far from a secret that our oldest child, Thomas is special needs. He is not autistic, a question everyone asks since that is probably one of the largest populations of special needs persons. Thomas is verbal but speech impaired he does have a disorder that causes the speech impairment but to be honest I forget the technical speech pathology term it’s called. He isn’t that hard to understand if you just listen. Thomas has other diagnosis’ that affect his behavior. The one that impacted Tommy and I the most was when we were told that Thomas has “static encephalopathy” which essentially means he has brain damage that won’t get worse and won’t get better. We were not given a cause of the brain damage. We were told it could have happened while I was pregnant, during delivery, we will never know. We didn’t find that out until Thomas was 12 years old. It wasn’t for lack of trying to find out what was going on or lack of specialists. There were some doctors that we saw; some that as God as my witness I don’t know how they still have a license: they were incompetent in my not so humble opinion. I would have had more respect if any of them said plainly, “I don’t know what’s wrong with your child, here’s a referral”. That’s pretty much what Thomas’ main psychiatrist did. He could not explain all of what what going on with our son so he referred us to an amazing neurologist. No one (especially no other neurologist) was as thorough as Dr. Arnold Gold, neurologist extraordinaire from Cornell Hospital, way uptown in God’s country Manhattan. He gave my son such a neurological exam the likes we hadn’t ever seen before. Between that exam, taking an extensive history from us and studying CT and MRI reports, this doctor knew what he was talking about.

When you put Thomas’ diagnosis’ and special needs aside he’s sweet and funny and affectionate and pretty happy. However there are times he’s not so happy and sweet. I’m not talking about, “well not everyone is in a good mood all the time” scenario. I’m talking an extreme bad mood where he curses, blames everything that is wrong in his world on me and will raise his hand to me. I have been hit by my own child. I’ve not hit him back ever. I think that’s one of the most difficult things ever in my world I’ve had to deal with; that my son has hit me. I am not going into all the details. I still defend him, he’s still my son, still mine. And will always be.

I guess my point of writing this post is to uncover what is hidden and not often talked about; by me anyway. It’s easy to see my son in pictures on Facebook and love that he’s so happy. He has an awesome genuine smile. Believe me I am thrilled for him to be happy. God has given my son many gifts. One of which is resilience; the ability to adapt and adjust to change. If it weren’t for his resilience we wouldn’t have been able to get him the help he needed when we exhausted all the avenues we ran through during the times when Thomas lived at home.

I adore all my children. However it’s my girls who have shown me the “typical life.” Through them I have been able to experience the good, bad and sometimes difficult parts of parenting children without special needs. Thomas has shown me one world and the girls have shown me another. I think I’ve gotten the best of both.

Christmas with the kids

It’s so different when your children grow into adults/adolescents to celebrate Christmas. It’s sweet and beautiful when they are small, the wonder in their eyes that Santa had came! You and your husband are admiring that look at a very early time in the morning. It’s amusing that the presents you so carefully chose and wrapped and placed artfully under the tree are opened in a matter of minutes and the there’s wrapping paper everywhere.

These days it’s still sweet and wonderful but in a different way. It’s also a little bittersweet as it’s the last Christmas that Alyssa will spend with us opening gifts first thing in the morning and waking up with us. I still enjoy watching my kids open their gifts even though most of them they’ve picked out themselves. I still managed to sneak in a surprise present here and there for each of them and that was fun.

These days Tommy and I wake up before the kids. Thomas stayed over last night so he could open gifts with us in the morning. It was a bit challenging because Tommy and I don’t talk to each other before coffee. And there’s Thomas; awake and chattering up a storm like you wouldn’t believe. We managed to make it through the chatter and each have a cup of coffee somewhat peacefully.

Everyone was very happy with their gifts. I’m so glad. I mean I know the real reason for the season. And without Jesus in our lives things would be so different. It’s amazing how God’s presence in your life changes you. I’m a sinner, very much so in fact. That’s why I need Jesus so very much. He came to us to teach us forgiveness and to believe in Him; for without the Son you cannot get to the Father. I never thought I would *ever, ever* be a “born again Christian” but here I am. I’ve accepted Christ as my Savior, allowed God into my heart and I’ve been born again just as the Bible directs. It wasn’t as easy as those 2 sentences but well worth the journey I’ve taken to get there.

When I think of forgiveness and when I struggle with that concept I remind myself that God forgives me every day for my sins so who am I to not forgive others? It’s heavy when you really give it thought.

I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Holidays, School and Bio chem

Christmas is fast approaching, every year we are all so surprised at how fast the month of December flies by; or rather from December 1st to the 25th. Surprisingly I’m ahead of the f game for once. Believe me I’m as shocked as the next person. Yesterday I finished up Samantha. It’s a bit difficult to keep up with equal amounts of gifts for 4 kids, I feel like I’m constantly tying to keep up in my mind who I bought what for. I’m not complaining I enjoy where we are today.

Thomas has been so, so pleasant to be around. He comes over every Sunday. I know he’s a creature of habit and lives for routine but this morning he called asking me to pick him up earlier than usual, to have lunch at my house. I can’t today and he understood thank goodness. I’ve even talked him into staying over our house 2 nights. Christmas Eve which he usually does and also Christmas Day which should be good because we’re going to my moms to celebrate and this way we hopefully won’t have to rush out of there to bring him back. Anyway it should be interesting.

I finished and passed my nutrition class and I’m back to freaking, dreaded Bio Chem. I have a serious hate on for that class. My brain doesn’t work that way it just doesn’t. The course instructors have been wonderful in tutoring me over the phone and via zoom/computer but some of them are so darn perky and all cheerleady for me “to pass this class!” And I sound like such a bitch because I don’t have it in me to match their perkiness and rah, rah!! During one phone tutoring session the instructor totally lost me and I blurted out very plainly, “Wait! You lost me, totally lost me…”. Lelly was sitting next to me and she said after that she wouldn’t want to tutor me, that I was rude. I don’t blame her but I don’t think I was rude I had to stop him from going ahead or I would have been even more lost. So if you’re thinking of me please say a prayer that I pass this Godforsaken class once and for all.

Hugs and Kisses

Today while I was wrapping gifts, Thomas impulsively hugged and kissed me; about 5 times one after the other. It was so incredibly sweet I was almost brought to tears. You see, I’m not used to be hugged and kissed by him. Growing up his behavior was so unpredictable and I was often the target and recipient of his angry outbursts. I never thought about that too much until today when Thomas was hugging me and kissing me on the cheek.

The girls have always been affectionate with Tommy and me. I mean we had the usual time of “don’t embarrass me” when they were teens. But they always said, “I love you” when they left the house and still do. Thomas didn’t start saying I love you to me until he was about 16-17 years old. I remember how happy I was when he answered me. “Love you too Mom” for the first time. It was while Thomas was in residential school and we left him after a visit.

It’s funny because you really take things for granted. Like that your children love you and you love them. That they will tell you that they love you. Moms love their children beginning at that positive pregnancy test and it only grows from there. And it only grows more intense as the years go on. When Thomas was very young; I remember all the doctor’s visits and then the one specialist who really took me seriously. Problem was the specialist was in Manhattan and I’d never drove in the city before and taking public wasn’t much of an option. Well I put my big girl panties on and did it. I drove to the city by myself. I was proud of myself to be honest. It’s was something I wouldn’t have done if it wasn’t something I had to do for one of my children. A mother becomes an unstoppable force when it comes to her kids and I would dare anyone to try and stop her.

I was blessed today; a delayed blessing of affection from my son. A show of love that caught me off guard and set me to thinking and remembering. I don’t take Thomas for granted. We’ve been through too much.

Writing and my Blog

I’ve been blogging for about 7 years. I just went back and checked the year I began my blog. 2013, I seriously did not know I’ve been blogging that long. I started out to blog about my thrift finds and then a different shape came to be. I told the story of Thomas. The whole story which I rarely do. It’s a long story that I don’t often talk about either. One afternoon at work one of the paraprofessionals I’m friendly with started asking me questions about Thomas; its no secret that I have a special needs son. And Thomas used to attend the school I work at. The next thing I knew I was telling a lot of his story. I didn’t even realize how much or long we were talking. It was odd; it was like I was in a state of reminiscence. After a while I felt oddly jolted back to where I was, in the present and my friend had to get back to work.

I don’t mind talking about Thomas. I’m usually an open book about him and his diagnosis’ and all Tommy and I went through when Thomas was younger and undiagnosed. Those were extremely tough times and I’m so eternally grateful that we came out the other side. Some couples aren’t as fortunate and the stress of a special needs child drives them apart and the marriage fails. These days I don’t feel like I *need* to tell my story. I guess you could say I’m healed. Situations aren’t so raw and life isn’t all about getting through the day; praying for guidance and waiting for deliverance. I don’t miss those days.

Today life is so different. Like it’s calm. And that’s ok. There’s excitement too; Alyssa is getting married in March to a really great guy named Sam. There’s no drama surrounding her wedding and I will do everything in my power to keep it that way. Thomas is so pleasant to be around, I never could have predicted our future with him being this way. Thomas was on quite a few medications to control his behavior, these days he’s on less and less and the days go by with his nurse from the group home calling to get my approval to remove more. I’m happy for him. I’m not the same person I was 7 years ago, why should he be as well?