Friday, October 25, 2013
I've been going back and forth about blogging about this, mostly because it seemed too personal, too precious, too "mine" to share with others for awhile. But while I've treasured and savored the details for nearly 2 months, I'm also ready to share them.
As most people in my life know, I am adopted. I have always believed that the early, troubling start to my life deeply impacted my self esteem, self worth, and ultimately, my weight. I was a chubby child (very much like my own beautiful daughter), but certainly not unhealthy. However, my adoptive family are all very petite and it worried my adoptive mom. With the best of intentions, she put me on diets starting around age 5. I remember kindergarten sack lunches being 1/2 a sandwich and an apple while the other children had lots of little snacks and goodies. Somewhere in my childish mind, I interpreted the diet as a lack of love.
I grew up looking like the red-headed step child (literally), and never felt like I belonged. Don't get me wrong... I love my parents. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they love me. But they chose to love me. They chose to parent me. The rest of the extended family just sort of got stuck with me. At least that's how it felt. In a world of thin, blond haired, blue-eyed Dutch beauties was me. Reddish-brown hair, brown eyes, chubby, always described as "cute" vs pretty. I longed for a family that I felt I belonged to. I desperately wanted to look at another person and see that my body wasn't WRONG, but simply genetics, and different from what I was surrounded with.
I remember hearing others innocently comment "I have my mom's eyes", or "I'm built just like my dad". I didn't know whose eyes I got. I was abandoned in the hospital at birth. I didn't get much handed down, other than a heart full of insecurities.
When I was 28, I decided to hire an intermediary to find my birth mother. I had a lifetime of hopes, fears, and fantasies hanging on it. Judith, the wonderful intermediary that I've worked with for over 10 years now, found my birth mother in the hospital. She was recovering from her 3rd stroke. Judith told her that I was looking for her, and for my history and answers. She told her that she had a letter I'd written her and would like to send it to her. She asked if there was any message, anything at all, that she'd like to send to me. Her answer crushed me.
"Tell her I didn't want her 28 years ago, and I don't want her now". That was the only inheritance my birth mother gave me. She broke my heart. But as God tends to do, He brought 2 good things from this horrible experience: 1) while searching for my birth mother, I learned that she had another child, a boy, 2 years after me who was also placed for adoption. I had a brother. 2) I was 28 years old, 420#, and had a family medical history of strokes! This terrified me. 6 months later, I walked into a hospital with a high risk of mortality, and had my gastric bypass surgery.
Life went on. My heart was so bruised from her rejection that the thought of searching for my "little" brother left me in a panic attack. Instead, I focused on life. I lost nearly 200#. I got married. I worked. I spent time with my parents. I had a child and reveled in motherhood. Then, about 3 years ago, while basking in the love for my child and the amazing thought that she and I shared blood and DNA, I decided I was ready to search again. This time for a brother who likely never was told I even existed.
I called dear Judith up again, and hired her (once again) to search for a piece of the puzzle of my history. A piece of me.
And she succeeded. My brother, Darin, had no idea that he had a sister. He knew he was adopted but had never wanted to talk about it. However, he was open to talking to me. We took it slow. Emails, texts, phone calls (we live 3 states away from each other). We got to know each other. We exchanged pictures of ourselves and our kids. It was amazing! To see yourself in another person! Over the years we became close, talked frequently, and discovered many similarities (like our dry, sarcastic sense of humor others often don't "get"). Finally, the time came to meet. 39 years of longing for my "real" family was going to come true.
In August, my husband, daughter, and I boarded a plan and flew to his home town. We got in late, so only he was there to meet us. We walked around an airport corner and entered the baggage claim area. Our eyes met, and I felt like I was coming home. That for the first time in my life, I wasn't an orphan. In his words, "Like life settled". I had family. I had origins. I wasn't a worthless child someone threw away. There wasn't anything inherently "wrong" about me. I wasn't an alien who showed up in another family with no history or beginning. Proof of my origins, of my blood line, of my family tree, was standing in front of me.
We spent 3 days getting to know each other and our families. Time passed way too quickly and it was time to go home. While together, we found some evidence that we may have the same birth father as well as birth mother. We contacted our dear Judith again, and a few days later it was confirmed. We are full siblings.
I did more healing in those 3 days with my brother than a lifetime of therapy could offer (and that's coming from a counselor!). I looked into eyes that look like a reflection of mine. I laughed dryly at humor no one else in the room got. I was able to see how much of my body image/issues are genetic and how much by choices. I think that in meeting him, I was able to see myself clearly for the first time.
Life goes on, but now it includes a special connection I never thought I'd have. I am very close to my brother. I'm flying out again in a couple weeks to spend another weekend with him (unfortunately without my husband and daughter this time due to finances). He is supremely supportive of my weight loss, past,present and future. He gets it... he has lived these same struggles. He gets me.
My daughter and sweet nephews
A friend, who is also an adoptive mother, and I were talking. While she was excited and happy for me, she said that it made her worry that her kids won't see her as their "real" family. Here's my thought on that.... we all know that a parent can love more than one child. They love them differently, based on the uniqueness of that child, but the same. Why can't a child love more than one family?
Personally, I'm so happy to have had this time, these moments, and the reflection and healing that it has prompted.
As Troy Dunn says, "You can't find peace until you find the missing pieces". I am finally finding my peace.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
I know I've been MIA lately. In all honesty, I've been depressed about my injury and living in chronic pain, seeing no light at the end of this tunnel. And I've regained 30# of the 80 I lost last year. Sucks. But only I did it. And only I can change it.
My husband and I drove to Seattle Monday afternoon for yet another surgery consult with yet another surgeon. After 3 doctors telling me I'm "inoperable", my hopes were not set high. But we were shocked! She said Yes! Not only does she feel confident in repairing my very large hernia in one long, aggressive surgery, but she feels that the outcome long-term can be a good one. She feels that my "apron" of fat/skin from losing so much weight (about 160# from my highest weight right now) is impacting the hernia repairs. Having that much weight hanging and pulling down on the meshes has compromised them. She doesn't want to repair it for a 5th time without removing this barrier. So..... I'm getting it removed in surgery!
Surgery has been booked out 5 months, for 2 reasons:
1) I currently only have 6 weeks of FMLA left. It renews to 12 weeks in March. I will need about 10 weeks off work for the surgery and recover.
2) I need to lose nearly 50#. Every pound I lose before surgery will improve the outcome.
So.... while I continue in chronic pain, I am again HOPEFUL. Hope is everything. It has changed my outlook, my emotion, and my motivation. I can do this! I've done it once, I can do it again!
Monday, August 05, 2013
Hello Sparkpeople friends! Just some reassurance that I am still here. :) I continue to struggle with my large abdominal hernia which has been deemed inoperable by 3 surgeons. This has taken my pain level way UP, and my activity level way DOWN. And I've gained back about 12#. :(
BUT! I'm not giving up. I'm still trying to eat right, and started Plexus Slim today after some friends have had good results. Since I can't really exercise, I've got to get the nutrition piece right!
I've also been busy with work and taking on a second job ( https://www.mythirtyone.com/378962/) selling Thirty-One gifts. At least I'm enjoying the time out of the house that Thirty-One is giving me. I was getting pretty depressed following the injury.
Anyway... just wanted to update.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
I haven't blogged for a while. Mostly because I have been very preoccupied with my health and just getting by.
As I've noted in a few status updates, my surgery was canceled due to an insurance authorization oops. I worked with the local surgeon's office to be tentatively scheduled for next week. Then I was reaching into a closet for something and felt a sharp pain in my abdomen. This resulted in ongoing and worsening pain that led to the ER. My hernia had torn even further. The local surgeon called my primary care provider and explained that while his ego wanted to tackle my hernia repair, he felt that he was "out of his depth", and needed to refer me to the University of Washington medical center. I had a CT scan on Friday, and images were also forwarded to UW.
My primary doctor called Friday afternoon with the CT scan results. Basically, my ventral hernia is huge... "about the size of a volleyball". Portions of small intestine, large intestine, and liver have herniated through the hole. However, there is no obstruction and blood flow is not at all compromised. It all boils down to this: I have a huge hole in my abdominal wall that needs to be surgically repaired. I continue to be in significant pain and am relying pretty heavily on medication.
And I am exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally. I spend most of my days sitting or laying down, doing very little physically in the hopes that the muscle doesn't tear any further. I don't have the mental energy to measure my foods and pre-plan what I'm eating. I'm trying to eat healthy options, but I'm relying on others to prepare my meals.
Since tomorrow is a holiday, I have to wait until Tuesday to hear from the specialist's office at UW. I am praying for a consultation appointment next week. This involves a 4 hours drive each way for us, as we live in South-Eastern Washington. But I will be there anytime they can see me. I HAVE to move on this. Waiting in pain can not continue to be my life. Besides, I started my FMLA leave from work on 2/6/13, and I only have 12 weeks of job protection.
HOWEVER.... I am surrounded by family and friends who are caring for me. I have a church family praying for me. I have a God who already knows the outcome of all of this. This too shall pass. I thank you for all the positive and loving thoughts, prayers, messages, etc that have been sent. I sincerely appreciate it!
Friday, February 08, 2013
Or "Happy Birthday" for that matter. As surgery is on Tuesday afternoon, I will be in the hospital and drugged pretty efficiently for both my husband's 45th birthday on Wednesday, and V-day on Thursday. Doesn't that sound fun and romantic?
I'm actually pretty sad about this. Our 4 yr old thinks V-day is the best day ever. And I'd really like to be around to make my hubby's birthday special. So, rather than sitting around having a panic attack about surgery, I've been planning. I have little boxes of treats, cards, and coloring books/markers hidden on the bottom of my hospital bag. I've arranged for a good friend to go buy cupcakes and birthday balloons and deliver them to my hospital room early in the day so when my Hubby brings my daughter by for a visit, we can have a mini-party in my hospital room. Hopefully they will see that I've been thinking about them and doing what I can. I'm also hoping that this will make visiting me in the hospital less traumatic for my little one.
As for weight loss... well, I'm not eating much. Not by choice, but simply because the hernia has gotten so large that it is putting a lot of pressure on my stomach. When I eat, there is very little room before I feel sick. Last night some dear friends delivered homemade chicken noodle soup, stuffed with veggies and home made noodles. With cheese bread, salad, and apple turn overs. I ate about 1/2 a cup of noodles and broth with 2 bites of bread. That was the most food I'd eaten in 2 days.
Activity is very limited. I tire easily (likely from the pain and the medication), and I'm fearful of anything making the hernia worse at this point. Naps, TV, and reading are filling my days. Yesterday a friend took me shopping for a new robe and pj's for the hospital. We walked at a slow pace and shopped for about an hour. I returned home exhausted.
I can not tell you how much I appreciate the continued prayers, thoughts, notes, emails, and goodies. My sparkfriends are the best!
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