Deb Lundquist

Author Archives: Deb Lundquist

After 20 years of living with this as a roommate, I feel I know Fibromyalgia well. Now, it is my passion to help people with Fibromyalgia and chronic pain take back control of their lives.

Neuropathy

Peripheral – means beyond the brain and spine.

Neuro – means related to nerves.

Pathy – means disease.

Neuropathy is a complicated problem of damaged or diseased nerves, usually involving Peripheral Nerves, those nerves that are outside the Central Nervous System and the other main nervous systems. The Peripheral Nerves usually stand alone, but can be a bundle of nerves too, i.e., Bell’s Palsy, carpal tunnel syndrome, ulna tunnel syndrome (elbow), tarsal tunnel syndrome (ankle), and radial peripheral neuropathy (radial nerve damage).

Peripheral Neuropathy means nerves that carry messages back and forth to the brain and spinal cord from and to the rest of the body are damaged or diseased. There are a few things we know about Peripheral Neuropathy.

· It is a common condition, believe it or not, it is estimated that upward of 20 million Americans suffer from it. It can be a complication of different medical conditions and can occur at any age, but is usually found in people age 55 or older.

· ‘There are terms for how severe the nerve damage is. Mononeuropathy Mononeuropathy is damage to a single peripheral. Physical injury or trauma such as from an accident is the most common cause. Prolonged pressure on a nerve, caused by extended periods of being sedentary (such as sitting in a wheelchair or lying in bed), or continuous, repetitive motions, can trigger a mononeuropathy.

· Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common type of mononeuropathy. It is called an overuse strain injury, which occurs when the nerve that travels through the wrist is compressed. People whose work requires repeated motions with the wrist (such as assembly-line workers, physical laborers, and those who use computer keyboards for prolonged periods) are at greater risk.

· ‘Neuropathy can affect nerves that control muscle movement (motor nerves) and those that detect sensations such as coldness or pain (sensory nerves). In some cases, it can affect internal organs, such as the heart, blood vessels, bladder, or intestines. Neuropathy that affects internal organs is called an autonomic neuropathy. This rare condition can cause low blood pressure or problems with sweating.

· Polyneuropathy

· Polyneuropathy accounts for the greatest number of peripheral neuropathy cases. It occurs when multiple peripheral nerves throughout the body malfunction at the same time. Polyneuropathy can have a wide variety of causes, including exposure to certain toxins such as with alcohol abuse, poor nutrition (particularly vitamin B deficiency), and complications from diseases such as cancer or kidney failure.

· One of the most common forms of chronic polyneuropathy is diabetic neuropathy, a condition that occurs in people with diabetes. It is more severe in people with poorly controlled blood sugar levels. Though less common, diabetes can also cause a mononeuropathy.’ (WebMD)

· There are three types of nerves that can be involves; autonomic nerves, motor nerves and the sensory nerves.

· Physical trauma (like my car accident), repetitive injury (as in carpal tunnel syndrome), infection (strep, mono, shingles, Lyme disease, HIV), metabolic problems (malnutrition, etc.), exposure to toxins and some drugs can all lead to neuropathy.

· Diabetes has the most cases of neuropathy, especially if the sugar levels are not under control. What is sad is that up to 50% of people with this may be completely free of symptoms.

· When you have Diabetes, you need to do a foot check at least once a year, as well as an eye check. This is something you should have been told when you were diagnosed. I bet they didn’t tell you that you should also be checked for neuropathy as well. If not, that should be part of your routine Diabetes check.

· Neuropathy can’t be treated; however, the Doctor should not just say you have Neuropathy and stop there. He/she needs to keep searching to find the source of the problem.

· Now as for toxins, you need to identify what they are and then remove them from your life. If it is a drug, you need to stop it before it can cause any further damage. Some of these drugs, however, some you might not want to stop, i.e., chemotherapy medication or medicines used to treat HIV. There are 40 drugs known to cause neuropathy! For example, in my case I can’t take Neurontin because I completely lose the use of my body from the waist down. If I continued to use it, I would end up a paraplegic.

There are also other conditions that can cause neuropathy.

· B12 of folate vitamin deficiencies as well as Vitamin D, Zinc and other vitamins and minerals. In other words, poor nutrition and vitamin deficiencies. You need to get your blood tested every 3 months to be sure that your levels where they need to be. Nutrition is so important in so many ways.

· Poisons (toxins) such as insecticides and solvents.

· Cancers such as lymphoma and multiple myeloma.

· Alcohol excess can not only damage your liver, but high alcohol levels in the body can cause nerve damage. (Alcoholism)

· Chronic liver disease

· If your kidneys are not functioning normally, for whatever reason, an imbalance of salts and chemicals can cause peripheral neuropathy.

· Thyroid disease that has not been diagnosed or is not being treated properly.

· Infections as I’ve already mentioned. Guillain-Barré syndrome is the name given to a specific type of peripheral neuropathy triggered by infection.

· Connective tissue diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome and systemic lupus erythematosus.

· Some inflammatory diseases including celiac disease, especially if it isn’t diagnosed and handled well.

pregnant woman avoiding bread and gluten because of celiac disease

· Inherited diseases

· Then in about 30% of cases there is just no known cause for the peripheral neuropathy.

I have Radial Peripheral Neuropathy on my right forearm next to where my original injury is and even though my RSD/CRPS is sleeping, but that area is still active, especially if I have been typing too much. It feels like I have my arm in a vise and someone is tightening it and they will not stop. It is, at times like this, that I cannot stand to have even a fly land on that area. I cannot stand any kind of wind or air movement on that area. That section of my arm has atrophied and caved in. It is hard to the touch and if you feel it, you can feel the two arm bones easily. All of the muscle seems to have disappeared. There it really bothers me when I type, so either I have to take a break, type slower (which is hard for me) or use what I have learned with my holistic methods. Sometimes I have to wear a compression leg sock on my arm. I just cut the heel off. I have to get a small. The compression sock confuses my brain because of the over-sensation being sent to it and so the pain stops. Then it protects it from the air and insects. When I have that sock on, people can touch that arm and it doesn’t bother me at all. I discovered this when I had RSD/CRPS and I used to wear prom gloves. It became quite the thing for the people who knew me in the RSD community.

I also have ulnar carpal syndrome in both elbows. I had to wear a thick sleeve with heavy padding on the outside of the elbow for a year. It was so hot in the summer. However, if I didn’t my little finger, ring finger, and half of my middle finger would be totally numb. It helped some, but my arms and hands will still go to sleep. Sometimes, when I wake up one arm or hand will be asleep and I can’t even move my fingers. I have no idea what I hit my elbows on. I did have steering marks on the underside of each arm, but the peripheral nerve damage is on the top and left side of my right arm. I have no idea what I hit the top of my arm on either. I passed out for a while.

The symptoms are similar to Fibromyalgia, but there are differences.

Sensory Neuropathy

Tingling and numbness.
Pins and needles and hypersensitivity.
Increased pain or the loss of ability to feel pain.
Loss of ability to detect changes in heat and cold.
Loss of co-ordination and proprioception.
Burning, stabbing, lancing, boring or shooting pains - which may be worse at night.
Skin, hair or nail changes.
Foot and leg ulcers, infection and gangrene

gangrenegangrenegangrene

Motor Neuropathy

  • Muscle weakness - causing unsteadiness and difficulty performing small movements such as buttoning the shirt.
  • Muscle wasting.
  • Muscle twitching and cramps.
  • Muscle paralysis.

Autonomic Neuropathy

  • Dizziness and fainting (because of sudden changes in blood pressure).
  • Racing heart.
  • Reduction in sweating.
  • Inability to tolerate heat.
  • Loss of control over the bladder function leading to incontinence or retention of urine.
  • Bloating, constipation or diarrhea.
  • Difficulties in achieving or maintaining an erection (impotence).

How Do You Get Diagnosed?

First you go to a good neurologist. This isn’t something you leave to your family doctor, although he/she will need to refer you to one. Make a list of all of your symptoms, when they started, what you were doing within a week before they started, i.e. a car accident, a fall, an illness. Take all of your medications, including those you have recently stopped. Include in your medication list marijuana if you use it for pain. List any poisons or toxins to which you have been exposed. Talk to your family so that you have a history of any family members with neuropathy. Once you have done all of this you are ready for your appointment. Make sure you remember to take your list. You might even put it on your phone.

The first thing the neurologist is going to do is ask you lots of questions and you will have all the answers if you did your homework I listed in the above paragraph. He/she will also probably ask about your general health, alcohol consumption, and your sexual history. Now with Fibromyalgia, you probably don’t have much of one, but be truthful. Also, be truthful about your alcohol consumption, recreational drug use, that kind of thing.

The next thing the neurologist is going to do is a thorough examination. If it hurts, don’t keep it inside like so many of us do, but let him know. How can he help you if you keep your pain from him?

· He is going to look at your skin to see the condition of it.

· He is going to check your pulse. Now if you have Diabetes, don’t be surprised if he/she has a hard time finding a pulse in your ankles. That is what has happened to me. He also has a hard to time getting reflexes on my knees. I have Diabetes II.

· He is going to check your ability to feel/sensations. My doctor does pin pricks on the bottom of my feet and takes the end of the tuning fork and runs it along the length of my feet. He will also take the tuning fork and check to see how you feel sensations with that.

Next, he will probably run some tests. I will tell you right now these are not fun, especially when you are already in pain, but you need to have them done to get to the cause of the problem. These are how they discovered my radial peripheral neuropathy.

‘Nerve Conduction Studies:

Nerve conduction studies check the speed with which nerves send messages.

Special electrodes are placed on the skin over the nerve being tested.

These electrodes give off very small electrical impulses that feel a bit like a small electric shock which stimulate the nerve.

Other electrodes record the electrical activity of the nerve.

The distance that the impulses travel to the other electrodes and the time that this takes allows the speed of the nerve impulse to be calculated.

In peripheral neuropathy, this speed is reduced.

Electromyography:

  • This test looks at the electrical activity of the muscles.
  • A very thin needle with an electrode attached is inserted through the skin into a muscle.
  • This is connected up to a recording machine called an oscilloscope.
  • The way that the muscle responds when it is stimulated by nerves can then be monitored using the oscilloscope and recorded.
  • In peripheral neuropathy, the electrical activity will be abnormal.

Nerve Biopsy:

This is the removal of a small part of a nerve so that it can be examined under a microscope.

Skin Biopsy22

  • This is a new technique that has been developed to examine the peripheral nerves.
  • It can be used to look for early peripheral neuropathy and also to monitor progression of neuropathy and response to treatment.
  • Amongst other things, the density of nerve fibers in the area of skin is measured.
  • In peripheral neuropathy, the density of the peripheral nerves is reduced.’ (Medical News Today (www.medicalnewstoday.com, Newsletter. Written by Dr. Helen Webberley, 18 March 2016)

Treatment

Left untreated, nerve damage may worsen over time. It usually starts in the nerves farthest from the brain and spinal cord -- like those in the feet and hands. Then it may move up into the legs and arms. However, if you get treatment for the medical condition causing the nerve damage, you may be able to stop the damage -- and even reverse it.

In addition to working with your doctor to find treatment that works, you can take other steps to fight chronic pain. Getting regular exercise, keeping a healthy weight, and improving your diet may help.

Improve your diet! Improve your nutrition by taking 100% all natural vitamins and minerals. Not a one a day vitamins, but really good vitamins with no fillers in them. These you aren’t going to find in a store, but will have to buy from an individual who will be a distributor and give you personal care and attention.

Get your sugar levels to a good level. Work with your doctor and a nutritionist if you have to in order to get this done. This is something that you have to do though, no one can really do this for you. You have to discipline yourself. Get your carbs down too because carbs turn into sugar.

Get tested for Thyroid. The tests you need are: total T4, free T4, total T3, free T3, TPO antibody, thyroglobulin. Once your Thyroid gets treated correctly, the nerve damage should stop progressing.

The best way to control your pain is with holistic management. There are epilepsy drugs that can help (they all have terrible side effects, so be watchful.) There are antidepressants called serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors that can with both depression and nerve endings receptors (again they all have side effects, so be careful.) If you have urinary symptoms such as bladder control, talk to your Doctor for help. As far as pain medication, it is available, but with your Fibromyalgia, it is not recommended because pain medication causes Fibromyalgia to get worse, plus the longer you are on them, the more problems they cause.

Drink plenty of water to flush out toxins. Take your weight, divide it by half and that is the amount of water in ounces that you need to drink every day. Just plain water. Anything else you drink is above that. Stop drinking pop/soda, coffee and caffeine. Lower the amount of sugar you eat and don’t substitute it artificial sweeteners. Lower the amount of carbohydrates you eat because they turn into sugar.

Try to find clothing that is less irritating. Cotton breathes and is all natural with no synthetic material mixed in with it. Therefore, it will be cooler to wear and won’t cling to your body.

Stress certainly causes pain to increase. You need to destress your life as much as you can. A psychologist can help you with this. You can try acupuncture which can help you with not only with relaxation, but also with pain. Learn how to meditate and how to do yoga.

Move, move, move. I know many of you find that difficult, but you can start slowly at home. Even if you start out just sitting in your chair, lift your arms up as far as you can with a full water bottle in each hand. Lift them up 10 times. Then do curls bending your elbows, bringing your hand with the bottles to your shoulders and do that 10 times. Bend every joint in your hands and bend your wrist back and forth holding that for 10 counts and then side to side. If you can walk for 5 minutes 3 times a day. If your hips hurt, go ride a stationary bike. I know that sounds wrong, but your hips probably hurt because you aren’t using them. I know. When I broke my hip and went to therapy, it hurt to move my hip. Now if my hip hurts, I go to the gym and ride the bike and by 30 minutes the pain is gone for weeks. Now that is because I’ve done the work. For you, start physical therapy to get started.

3. My Life Evolves

After the hysterectomy, a whole bunch of new problems started, like severe migraines. I lived with this migraine for 3 years until I went to Oak Brook. A Professor where I worked at the time, forced me to go to this Doctor because he had helped his wife. I went when the Professor made the appointment for me. When I went it was the strangest appointment I have ever had. First, he had me stop in the doorway and smile. That seemed weird to me. Then, he told me to sit down in the chair. He turned to Bob and asked him a lot of questions and would not allow me to talk. I was surprised by Bob's answers. When the Doctor turned to me, he could see I was surprised. He said that was why he asked the husband questions first, to get the real story. Then he said, you are low in this and this before he even took blood tests or examined me. I asked him how he knew and he answered by the color of the whites of your eyes, the skin around the eyes, the color of my gums, my skin etc. When it was all over, he put me on a low dose of estrogen, progesterone and thyroid. Within 3 days my migraine was gone. Not only that, but my hair that had gone completely strange and was straight in some places and fine in others while coarse in others, was now tight and curly. I couldn't even get a pick through the curls. It was the craziest thing! So this was my second autoimmune disease. I went to a hormone specialist and he said that 80% of people who develop Thyroid disease will develop Diabetes. I went home and cried. Two years later I developed Diabetes II. My 3rd autoimmune disease. Things were not going my way.

You know that at this point, I was young, in my 40's, and yet I was beginning to feel really old. I was beginning to feel tired and I felt like it was hard getting my diet right with the Diabetes II. Then I started a business of my own. ReTouch of Class. I loved having my own business. The freedom of having my own business. However, it only lasted 2 years for many reasons and so I started running it out of my house. That was much better actually, lower overhead, I could do house chores during breaks, I could do photographic retouching and when I needed a break I could do my MLM. One day as I was doing the MLM part of the business, I was headed home after making a great sale and I turned onto a County Road and ended up in a head-on collision. All the Emergency people said I should have died, but the Good Lord was watching out for me. I guess He had other plans. I acquired RSD/CRPS which is Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome instantly. I was fortunate. I was diagnosed within 2 weeks. Most people don't get diagnosed for years and by then it is firmly entrenched. The first Doctor I went to who was supposed to be an expert in RSD/CRPS, was so wishy/washy that she gave me 9 diagnosis but none were RSD/CRPS. However, all of the names she gave me were names that were names used for RSD. She gave me a shot in the shoulder that turned my whole arm black and said 'OMG what just happened?' We looked at her and I said 'You are the doctor, you are supposed to know.' 45 minutes later, my arm turned bleached white. She sent me home and told me never to get acupuncture because my nerves were in the wrong place. She was an acupuncturist as well. The neurologist who gave me blocks told me that test was positive for RSD. When I called for another appointment with her, her secretary told me she didn't want to see me again.

At 45, I was officially retired, but not the way I wanted to be. The occupational therapist came out to the house and announced I was completely disabled. I couldn't even open a jello container. I couldn't hold a knife to spread peanut butter. I had to write with my left hand because I couldn't hold a pen or anything for that matter with my right hand and couldn't hold anything in my right arm. Her exams usually took one day, but with me it took 2 because I could stand a full day, so she had to come back a second day.

After this doctor, dismissed me after 3 months, I curled up into a miserable little ball. I lost all of my friends. My church didn't help me. As a matter of fact, they didn't believe me at all and almost stole our daughter from us. It was a close thing and we saved her by one day! She was a teenager. It is a horrible story, that I won't go into too deeply, but we never went back to that church as long as that team was there. I know that God asks us to forgive, this is one I have a very hard time with and pray daily for help. Most people at that church have no idea and to this day, most of them don't even know I am sick. We finally moved and I get more support from this church then I ever did from that one. Enough. I finally got angry at myself and got on the computer and found a support group and asked if there was a Doctor who could help me in IL. Finally, I found a Doctor and Psychologist in Chicago at Rush. They were awesome and the first day they promised they would never abandon me. I cried. They gave me medication so that my legs and arms wouldn't just go flying up in the air for no reason. They put me in the hospital for an epidural and physical therapy so that they could get my frozen shoulder to move. They had to make up exercises for me. It was an awful time. The psychologist put me on the first suicide watch. I told her I wouldn't commit suicide. It wasn't my right. God put me on this earth and He was the only one who could take me off, but she didn't believe me. Bob called the church. They didn't do anything, again. You would think that they would but, ....

During my active RSD/CRPS years, several of us went to Washington, DC and walked the halls and tunnels of Congress, talking to many in the House & Senate bring awareness of RSD/CRPS to the Hill. The pain was almost beyond bearing, but I felt I was doing it for the good of all. After the first time, when there were only 4 of us, my friend Tom and I created trips once or twice a year. We would assign jobs for people to do and by the end we would have 16-20 people head to DC with us. There would be 1 RSD-er and 1 well person. If an RSD-er could not bring a well person, they could not go. We always had one suite for training and eating together and regrouping. Then we had a group of rooms together and then we would be in DC a week. We would split up and visit as many legislators as possible during the week and at night we would eat and compare notes. We were always well received. I remember several times I would be asked to stay behind so that I could be asked more questions and then more Senators would join in the discussion. My Bob went once and my daughter went once. She could get around those tunnels like no one else. She was never lost. I never knew where I was! LOL. Then, I was asked to speak to a medical panel of Congressmen. In this group that was speaking were 4 Doctors and Ed McMann from the Jerry Lewis MD Foundation, also the Johnny Carson show. I had 5 minutes to speak. Boy was it hard getting everything that I wanted to say in 5 minutes! Anyway, there wasn't a dry eye on the Congressional Panel. All the Doctors speaking were all nodding their heads yes at everything I said. Ed McMann was crying and he was there to speak about Jerry's kids. Afterwards, he stopped me and asked if he could hug me. When I said sure, he asked how, so I hugged him instead and showed him how to hug me. Then a week later, I testified before the Maryland Congress.

Once Cecil understood what was going on with me and understood why I wasn't working, she finished high school early. She started college early as well but when she realized we were in trouble financially. She quit college and started working full-time. She would hand her check to her Dad to help pay for our bills so we wouldn't have to claim bankruptcy. We got food from the food pantry and Bob's Mom helped so much! God Bless her! She never doubted me! That summer, I got a call from my Mom's cousin in Western Canada. She was coming to Winnipeg and wanted me to meet her there. I was just telling her that I didn't have the money to come when Cecil walked in the door. 'Tell her we are coming.' She had a huge smile on her face. So I told her we would come and that Cecil was going to pay for it. When I got off the phone, I asked if she had met her fairy Godmother. She told me 'Sorta' she had landed a really great babysitting job. So she did babysitting during the day and got paid really well and then worked full time too. Then she paid for a wonderful 2 week vacation to Winnipeg and a great time. We spent the 10 days in Winnipeg talking and talking. You would have never known we had never met before. We also compared notes and did genealogy. They wanted to know about Grandpa, that is a whole other long story, and Mom and us and then we compared history. We compared old stories and compared storied from their parents and stories from Grandpa. It was fun. We talked about Whitewater, WI which our family founded and the history and family and I told them what I had found and the pictures. It was so much fun. Then we came home to reality again. Yes, I was in pain, but Cecil had her Eagle Eye on me and made sure I took care of myself and I wasn't going to let anything take this once in a lifetime family gathering away from me. Monica had MS I think and was in a wheelchair. She was a pacer, lol, and a talker. I adored her. She was our cousin Jimmy's wife. That wheelchair went back and forth and back and forth. She apologized. She said I can't think if I don't pace, lol. We all laughed at that. She was adorable. Joan and her daughters were adorable too. Now I've gotten in contact with Joan's grandson. I'm very excited about that too. Anyway, I don't know how we would have gotten through those years without Cecil and truly we are closer than ever and we now are best friends. It is wonderful!

I had a mentor after I joined that support group. She would come over at least once a month. She lived in Indiana. She also had full-body RSD. She was great and pulled Bob to the side and explained RSD to him. It helped him a lot. When we had the 'issue' with our daughter and the church, it was Pat who found out what was wrong just in the nick of time. And it was Pat who explained RSD to Dent so that he could understand. We owe a LOT to Pat. It was Pat who had me start me going to Dr. Fitz, my current Pain Management Doctor. During our last trip to DC, Pat changed and we had a falling out. She tried to take over my life and I wasn't going to let that happen again. Pat who was a nurse, has since assisted her husband, who had MD and was in the last stage, in his suicide. Then she went home and committed suicide herself. They had made a pact. She said she couldn't live without him. They left 5 boys behind. One was in college, 2 had MD, one they adopted, and one of the boys with MD, the youngest boy, it was his Graduation Day. I will never understand that! She said she had lived with RSD for 15 years and didn't want to live with it any more. I still don't understand. Yes, she was going to lose her husband, but she had 5 boys who needed her. Well, it is not my place to judge and suicide is the #1 cause of death with RSD. May God Bless the boys, now men, she left behind.

My current Pain Management Doctor is the one who put my RSD/CRPS asleep, thank the Good Lord! It finally went 100% to sleep on the day of my nephews wedding, 4 1/2 years after it started. It took me 45 minutes to figure out what was wrong. I remember waking up, jumping, yes jumping out of bed and racing around like a crazy woman getting ready for the wedding. Bob looked at me funny. I said what? and he said nothing. I told him something was wrong, but I didn't have time to figure it out as I took all 22 of my pills, including pain meds. We went downstairs and I told everyone how wonderful they looked as I raced around the kitchen. Now usually I just went to the chair and sat down. I said, yes I know something is wrong, but I don't know what it is and I don't have time to figure it out. My brother said you don't know what is wrong? I told him no. He said stop, come here and sit down and think for a minute. It will come to you if you sit down. So I sighed and went to the table and sat down and looked at him. It hit me! OMG Febbie! I don't have any pain! Everyone laughed and cried and it lasted for 7 glorious years!

Six weeks after my RSD was put to sleep, I went to my Pain Management Doctor for a check-up and I told him I had a different kind of pain in my legs. He sent me to a Rheumatologist. She told me I had Fibromyalgia. I told her no, I didn't want that I just had RSD put to sleep. She said I'm sorry but I can't change the facts. You have Fibromyalgia. I went to the car, raised my hands in the air and said 'God I don't appreciate your sense of humor. Now, just what do you want me to do with this?' His answer was immediate and loud! 'EDUCATE!' Well I have learned over the years, to answer when he calls, otherwise He hits me with a 4x4 board and I pay for it. First though I had to learn what Fibromyalgia was. My background is in research. My masters is in Extension Education, but it started out in Genetic Engineering and you do a LOT of research in Genetic Engineering. I learned to love research and so I do a lot of it. Then as I was doing that I was also learning what was working for me in treating my own Fibromyalgia, or rather I should say I was learning what wasn't working for me. At the same, I was weaning myself off of high doses of Hydrocodone and Oxycodone. Fortunately, I was not addicted, but I was dependent and so I had to be very careful while work off of both of them with the Doctor's supervision. Hydrocodone was easy, so I thought Oxycodone would be too. What I didn't think about was the fact that while working off the Hydrocodone, I was still on an opioid, so it wasn't really working off of anything, I was just lowering a dosage. duh. Working off the Oxycodone was another matter.

2. Marriage & Babies

Sometime around 6 or 7, God decided that if I wasn't going to go to church someone had to teach me about Him and since I was baptized as a baby, He gave that job to the Holy Spirit. So at bedtime when I was supposed to be sleeping, He would start with short lessons after my prayers. It is interesting how that worked. I had a Bible from 'that' church, but I wouldn't open it for fear of what would happen. That fear ran very deep. As I got older, the lessons got longer and I would ask questions if I didn't understand something and I always got answers immediately. I didn't understand how unique my education was until I got older.

By the end of my 17th year, I was engaged and on June 23 of age 19 I was married. I became Catholic at this time, although I didn't believe in confession. When I told the priest this, he said 'well unless you have murdered or raped someone, I don't see that as a problem.' I never understood why I was special over everyone else, but there you go. We lived in the basement in a very little apartment. We were so poor, we couldn't afford food even though we had food stamps. We ate at my Mom and Dads when we weren't eating at his Mom and Dad's. We did laundry at both of our parent's houses. Before we moved, we were doing laundry at my parents and he got really mad at me. He picked me up and started shaking me until he heard my Dad come down the stairs. I was so scared I didn't know what to do, so I ran into the bathroom and hid! We had only been married less than a year. When my husband graduated, we moved to Niles, Michigan. Three days after we got there, he had to leave town for work. He bought me a kitty so I wouldn't be alone. He was gone for 6 weeks. He never came home for the weekends. The first week he was gone, the car had an electrical fire and so for 5 weeks I was left without a vehicle. Mom and Dad came up and bought me groceries every weekend. 

I loved MI. I had a difficult time meeting people, however. Money was tight. I was never allowed to have any money or access to the checkbook so I could never get gas in the car. I was told I was too stupid to be able to handle money. I wanted to go to college, but I was told I was too stupid to do the math. I got pregnant, but it didn't last long. Before I realized I was pregnant, I had a miscarriage. I was very upset and he didn't offer any support, but Mom and Dad came. I was very naive, more so than you could ever realize. I went to the gynecologist and he said I had had a miscarriage and I also had  endometriosis. If I didn't get pregnant again within 6 months, I would never have a child. I believed him. I went home and told my husband. He was not on board with the idea. He was glad I had had the miscarriage, he wasn't ready to be a father. I pleaded. I wanted to be a mother so bad and I only had 6 months to be one. Finally, giving in, I conceived and my baby boy came to be. The Doctor told me that if I carried the baby all the way through, that the endometriosis would sleep for 2 years. The Doctor was wrong. He was wrong about so many things. 

We ended up buying a house. It was an awesome old house, a third of the original house which had built by a Doctor 150 years ago. When his sons got married he split the house in thirds. One third of the house was four doors down and had the original staircase. It was gorgeous. I loved it. We painted the kitchen cupboards yellow, then about 6 months later, he started trying to convince me we never did. So without his knowing, I went and got a chisel and scraped some of the new paint off of the inside of the backside of a lower cabinet door. I knew we had painted it. We had. There was the old color. I bought this beautiful dress that I absolutely loved. It came and I put it on and it fit perfectly, or so I thought. When my husband came home, I surprised him with the dress. I pranced around with it. I still had my ballerina legs and figure and so when I pranced I did it with grace. 'Where did you get that?' 'I bought it. Isn't it beautiful? I love it. It fits me perfectly!' 'No it doesn't. It is ugly! Your legs don't look good any more. You shouldn't be wearing dresses any more. You don't have the body for dresses any more. You should only wear pants or shorts. Besides you don't have anywhere to wear a dress. And where did you get the money? Did you get my permission to buy that? Send it back immediately! You don't buy anything without my permission anymore, do you understand?' My husband started locking the desk after that so that I couldn't get into it at all. At that point, there was absolutely no way I could access the checkbook, so I got a job. I had worked for a doctor's office before, so it was easy getting a job in another one. However, when I got pneumonia, the doctor's wife fired me because I didn't show up for work. I even had a doctor's excuse, but that didn't matter. My husband said that was alright because he didn't want me working anyway. Whenever I cashed my checks, I would put my money away where he wouldn't find it, but he would say 'where is your check? Give me your check.' Eventually, he would win and I still wouldn't have any money. 

My pregnancy continued. It was awful. I went to a different doctor now. This Doctor kept telling me it didn't matter what I did while I was pregnant with my Him/Her, I was going to lose it anyway. My pregnancy was that bad. I had to crawl everywhere I went or I got sick and I was on medication to not get sick. Other people had to keep taking me to the hospital to get shots to stop the vomiting because my husband was never home. If he wasn't working, he was fishing. I had made 'friends' with a woman when I was at the doctor's office where I had worked. I was Dumb Shit #1 and she was Dumb Shit #2. She had a boyfriend and they really liked to fish. So while I was so sick with my pregnancy the 3 of them would go fishing and I would be home alone with the dog and cat. Then I would get a call, 'I'm going to stay for a fish fry, there are a lot of people coming over...' I would start crying, 'but I really need help, I haven't eaten and I am so sick...' 'Well, I'll get you a milkshake and come back.' And that is what he would do. That would be every weekend, every night. 

I was working for the Green Giant Mushroom Farm now. I was not going to stay home all the time by myself. It was so lonely. I loved it! At first, I was a Personnel Secretary and that was great. I had two different bosses, both had military backgrounds but couldn't have been more different. I don't know how I did it really. I do know I ran to the bathroom a lot so I could get sick. There was a horrible accident on the farm side, no details. I was 8 months pregnant. Once all the arrangements had been made, by me, and the widow had all of her issues taken care of, by me, my water broke. Being totally naive, I thought I could stop things and my husband certainly didn't think it was necessary to go to the hospital until my contractions were 3 minutes apart. My labor was 5 hours total. It wasn't pretty and my precious baby boy had the most pointed head for 9 months. I screamed a lot! I was only 2 fingers when he popped out. Someone close to us, the woman's boyfriend, said he was deformed and would be brain damaged. Well, I'm glad to tell you that he is perfect and 40 years old, so that was untrue. 

During the winter, my parents came up and my Mom wanted to go shopping. She said to get our coats on so I wrapped my baby in sweaters and blankets and I put on sweaters and a thin windbreaker. Mom said where is your coat. I said, 'Mom leave it.' She said, 'Where are your boots.' I said, 'Mom, please leave it and let's go before...let's just go.' She didn't say anything. So When we got in the car, Mom wanted to know why I didn't have a winter coat or boots and why my little man didn't have a coat or warm clothes. She wanted to know why there weren't any groceries in the house and why I had to sneak $10 out of the house. She wanted to know why I didn't say good bye and why I didn't want her asking questions with him in the house. I didn't want to answer, but Dad stopped me the car and gave me that look that only Dad's can give. I told them the truth. I had so much fun that day. I got clothes and a coat, a nice warm coat. I got boots. My baby got the cutest, warm clothes, a nice warm coat, little shoes, slippers, and everything he needed. We got groceries, so many groceries. I bought materiel to make badly needed curtains for $5. It was a great day...until we got home and I got yelled at for taking the $10 and spending the $5 for something so frivolous as material! I thought my Dad was going to blow. My husband did say thank you for the groceries.

When I came back to work after the baby was born and he was 9 months old, I worked on the farm side. I fell in love ... with agriculture. I had 19 supervisors! You'd think that would be terrible but there was never a conflict! As a matter of fact, I have never worked at a place where I was so respected and protected, but then I think they knew what was happening at home, well I know they did. One day, the company had a company picnic. We pulled up, my husband got out of the car and immediately started playing volleyball. My little man was just over a year old and wasn't walking yet. I had food to carry in, a baby, and all our picnic stuff. I knew better than to call for help, so I started to try to load everything up when I heard someone walk up to me. 'Give me that.' 'And I'll take that.' Two of the guys who were my age and worked with me on the farm side had been watching the whole thing. They were totally disgusted. They helped me through the whole picnic. They helped me get the food set up, get food for my baby, helped me feed my baby, talked to me while we ate so I wouldn't feel alone. Pretty soon I was completely surrounded by 19 supervisors and their families and no one asked where my husband was. At one point in the afternoon, he showed up and asked if my two colleagues would like to come over the next weekend and play cards after the kid was asleep. I think for my sake they said yes.  At the end of the day, they helped me load the car and when it was done, my husband miraculously reappeared. We didn't talk all the way home. 

When they came over that weekend, I was really nervous. My cooking hadn't been good enough all week, so I didn't know what to expect about the snacks I had made. The dog and cat were well behaved so I wasn't worried about that, but my husband was in a mood and I didn't know what to expect. The house was clean, but still.... We played cards and at one point the guys wanted refills for their drinks. As Missa, the dog, and I were walking out of the room I heard 'would you look at that, when they walk together like that their asses look just alike, only the dog's might be sexier.' I couldn't have been more embarrassed. I stayed in the kitchen longer than I needed too until I heard 'Did you get lost in there?' When I came back out I couldn't look anyone in the face. I just gave everyone their drinks and we continued to play cards. I could tell the guys were angry though because they didn't talk and they left early. They did ask if I wanted to bring the baby and go with them, but I just looked at them in confusion. 

When Monday came, one of my colleagues called me into his office. He had decided he had seen enough and he was going to make me face some realities.   He didn't know everything, but he had guessed enough and he wanted some answers and he wanted them now! We talked for 2 hours. His last question and my immediate answer shocked me. 'Give me the first thing that pops into your head, Debbie. Do you love him??' 'No' 'Then why are you staying with him?' 'Little man' The next weekend changed my mind.  My husband was putting weatherstripping around the front door. My little man rolled over to see what he was doing. 'Get him away from me!' I ran and got him. 'I said keep him away from me!' I ran and got him. I said 'he just wants to see what you are doing.' 'Keep him away.' I said 'I am trying.' Then I heard the loudest slap. I turned and saw my little man fly across the 30' living room and then the 30' dining room and then through the 32" door into the 15' kitchen just missing the cabinets by 6". He had a huge hand print across his little face. He was screaming his little face off and his father never took a break from the weather stripping. That was it. You could mistreat me until the cows came home, but no one, I mean NO ONE will EVER mistreat my baby! So I started my campaign.   I wanted to be a mushroom grower, so I started college with a credit card I had found. Spanish was my first course of choice. I wanted to be able to speak with the men and women on the farm, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. I asked if I could practice with them. They said absolutely NOT! I would say something wrong because their slang was different. So they spoke to me in Spanish and I could understand, but I spoke to them in English, lol. I A'd that class! I wasn't as stupid as I was told. One day after class, I came home and found my baby crying really hard. My Mother-in-law was visiting so both she and my husband were supposed to be watching the baby, but he was just laying in his playpen crying and they were just standing talking and ignoring him. I picked him up and he was running a temperature. A high one and his diaper was dirty. I absolutely through a fit! I asked them what was wrong with them, were they deaf? This child was in trouble. Why were they ignoring him? How long had he been crying? His Mother said about a half hour. That really kicked off my temper! I went upstairs and changed his diaper to find 4 chickenpox on his little bottom. I gave him something to lower his temperature and then got him some cool water in a bottle. Then I washed him down with cool water. Then I sat in the rocker and sang him to sleep. After putting him to sleep, I went down stairs and stripped the hide off both of their back sides and asked just what kind of father and grandmother they were. I turned and walked back upstairs to be with my baby. The next weekend, my husband must have realized that things needed working on because he said he wanted to go on a picnic with my baby and me. He said that if my 'friend' and her boyfriend called, he didn't want to talk to them. I started frying up some chicken, making some potato salad, and cleaning some fresh veggies for the picnic. She called. I told her he didn't want to talk to her, but she wouldn't take my word for it, so I hung up on her. She did this three times. The fourth time, I gave the phone to him. He said, ok. He hung up and told me, but he would be back for the picnic. He didn't get back until after 8pm. My baby and I had a nice picnic. I laid him down for a nap and then I cleaned the entire house and did all the laundry and cleaned the cat box. After I put the baby down for the night, I was taking the last load out of the dryer, my 'friend' came downstairs and said 'we are back.' She scared me to death! I looked at her in complete fury. She said her boyfriend was mowing the yard. I have no idea what my husband was doing. I told her in unkind words to get out! That I never wanted her near my husband again! Then I told her that it was not her boyfriend's job to mow our yard and I didn't want him around my husband again! Then I said I wanted then both off of our property by the time I got upstairs or I would call the cops for trespassing! When I got upstairs, my husband was standing there in complete fury! He said 'what the hell is the matter with you?' I said, 'I thought we were going on a picnic, obviously that didn't happen because you had other things to do.' Just then the cat took a poo, a stinky one. He said, 'so you could have done something today! You could have at least cleaned the cat box!' And that was it. The plan started. From then on, I cleaned my half of the house, my baby and my laundry, I made my baby and my meals, and I washed my baby and my dishes. In the meantime, one of my colleagues and I went looking for an apartment. Then I found one I could afford with what I was making. When I got my check, I opened my own checking account and put it in my maiden name so my husband couldn't get it out. I went to a lawyer in South Bend. Then when I had all of my ducks in a row, I went to tell him I was leaving him. I turned off the TV He asked me what I was doing and I said I want to talk to you and I can't if you are watching TV. He got up and turned the TV back on and I went and turned it back off. He started to get mad. I finally stood in front of the TV so he couldn't turn it back on and said 'I'm leaving you.' He said 'you won't make it 30 days. You have no idea how to look after yourself or that kid, and you are taking the dog and the cat.' I said, 'That kid is your kid.' He said, 'I have a hard time loving a kid who isn't perfect.' He had a reverse clubfoot. And with that, whatever love I still had for him died. I called my Mom and Dad on my Dad's birthday to tell them I was leaving. I was near tears. I didn't know how they would take it. My Dad said, 'Oh Babe, that is the best birthday present you could have given me! Now are you sure this is what you want?' I said, 'Oh yes Dad, I have everything in order with the help of a friend from work.' He said, 'Then no matter what, don't feel pressured to go back. Mom and I will do whatever it takes, even moving you back home if that is what it takes.' And they did. Mom just cried. I said, 'Mom why are you crying?' She said, 'Because I am so happy!' To say I was shocked is to understate how I felt! My brother wanted me to move to Minnesota, but that was stopped. I was only allowed to be in IL or MI. I'm not sure how I was supposed to do that without going through IN, but no one mentioned that. 

Once I was in the apartment, I wrote the Father that married us and told him we were separated and were probably going to divorce. He called and asked if I wanted him to come up. I said that would nice, so he came up and stopped at Green Giant to get me and take me back to my apartment. We talked for 2 hours where he said that he  had had a partitioner that I reminded him of who looked like me and acted like me and they found her hanging in her father's garage. Then he said that as little man's God Father, he would be back later to pick my little man because I was not in my right mind. Then he made a pass at me! A Priest! I told him to take me back to work! When I got to work, I sat at my desk with my coat and hat and mittens on and just pounded the keys, with no paper in the typewriter. Two of my supervisors ran out and got one of the mushroom pickers to come talk to me. We called him Pee Wee, well not to his face. He came in, took one look at me, got a 5-gallon bucket, turned it upside down and sat down. He said, 'you still have your coat on.' I just kept pounding the keys of the typewriter, tears were now pouring down my face! He got up and got the ugliest yellow ashtray. It was huge. He put it on my desk and told me to throw it at him. I said no and kept pounding. 'What the hell did that Priest do!' pound, pound, pound 'What the hell did that Priest say?' By now there were about 6 supervisors leaning in the doors so they could hear what was happening. The tears were just pouring down my face and the pounding was getting louder. He kept at me asking me questions and finally I picked up that ugly ashtray and threw it as hard as I could at his head! and then burst into tears and poured the whole thing out! The head supervisor took me to the Monsignor and had me tell him everything. He ended up blackballing the Father and then Tim brought me back to work. When I got there another supervisor said if the Priest showed up that night, to call him and he would come and get us. As it turned out, I wasn't home a half hour when I got the call. I call the supervisor, he must have sped over because he was there in 5 minutes. I was shaking so bad, I dropped everything I picked up, so he hugged me and said it was okay he was there now. He was a huge man. He was originally from Guatemala. He packed up everything and we were gone before the Father came. We went to his house. My baby was so happy to see other kids to play with and they fed me although I don't remember what I ate. I was so nervous, I just couldn't relax, but my baby fell asleep right in the middle of the playing kids.

My husband absolutely refused to give me any money for child care and I only made a little more than $400 a month. I could make ends meet and feed my little man with nothing left over to feed myself. In the first month of our separation, I lost 40 pounds. My main supervisor tricked me into going to the doctor and then blocked the door so I couldn't get out of the room. He stayed in the room while the doctor examined me. 'Well, what is wrong with her?' 'Nothing except for the fact that she is starving.' 'Why are you starving?' 'Because I left my husband and I don't have enough money to feed myself and he refuses to pay child support.' 'Well that is going to change, have you filed papers?' 'No he said not to.' He rolled his eyes. 'Of course he did, they can't force him to pay child support if you are only separated. You have to file for divorce.' So I went and filed for divorce, however, Mom and Dad came up that weekend and when they saw me, Mom went through the cupboards and we went grocery shopping!' Dad went to my husband and had a heart to heart. At work, I started finding money in my jacket, in my desk, food in my desk and Tim would have my 2 colleagues take me to lunch every day and buy me lunch and they had to stay until I got it all down.

Side Note: The Psychologist says my ex abused me 5 ways, but I just can't go into all of it any more than this. I don't want to relive anymore. This was hard enough. I told her I had talked around the abuse and she asked me why. I said I just didn't want to get into it. She said I needed to and that maybe it would help other women. So I have gone back and have redone this part. You don't need to live with this. You are worth being loved not abused. So I have talked about physical abuse, verbal abuse, financial abuse, neglect, and he tried to make me think I was going crazy, and I forget the other. You may be able to see it. The only way I got my divorce was to threaten him with going after financial disclosure.  I haven't told you everything because it isn't necessary, but what you must know that life can be sweet once you get out from under the yoke of abuse. After talking with my Psychologist and now writing this out, I am ready to throw this away and I hope in some small way it will be of benefit to someone. If you are being abused and don't know what to do, tell your Doctor, go to the ER, the Police, there are Safe Home for the abused in towns, tell someone, and get out of the abused situation. Don't believe them if they say they say they are sorry and they will never do it again. If they do it once, they will do it again. It makes them feel big, strong to make you feel little and weak. Get out of the situation and be careful that you don't walk right back into another situation just like it. It has taken me years to get my ego back and I'm still not all the way there.

After working at Green Giant for 2 years, they sent a headhunter to close the place. I spotted him right away for who he was and told everyone to beware, they were shutting the plant. I was the first one they fired, although I said no, I quit. I will not have you fire me and have that on my record! After 4 years in MI, I left, grown-up, wiser, cynical, with no ego, single, and with a very quiet 14-month son who called every man Daddy but his own. My lessons continued with the Holy Ghost. I had a hard time with forgiveness with myself for divorce because God had sanctioned the marriage. We had a lot of discussions about that. This was when I got my first Bible. I absorbed every word and talked it over with my Mom and the Holy Spirit. My Mom said that we should try some churches, but I wasn't sure I was ready. I had gone to the Catholic Church but they had not given me what I needed and wouldn't have known me if I had walked in there when I needed help. I was gun shy. Besides, now that I was divorced, I couldn't go back to a Catholic church anymore, but I still had the Holy Spirit so I knew God still loved me and He had forgiven me.

When I arrived in Illinois, my parents had already found a townhouse for my son and I, our dog and our cat. My parents had followed through with their promise. They were always there for me. They were the best parents a person could ever have. It was winter and we moved a week before a devastating blizzard hit burying semis on the highway between where I lived and Niles. Our timing couldn't have been more perfect. I was fortunate enough to find a job within 2 weeks of arriving and started working in Placement at Parkland College right away. I started taking classes in Business Administration because I thought that was where I would make more money. I made excellent grades, but I absolutely hated the classes I was taking. My boss told me I needed to buy a dress or skirt over the weekend and if I didn't wear it on Monday, he would take me shopping. So Mom and I went shopping. When I put the dress on and came down the stairs, my little man said 'Mommy, you have legs.' LOL. My boss told me I looked good in a dress. I was quite confused. My ex called and wished me Happy Anniversary. I was so shocked, I absolutely could not believe my ears! I asked him what he thought he was doing! I hung up the phone, went into the back room and cried. My boss told me I needed to take Agricultural classes because that was where my interest was and he sent me to see the Dean of Agriculture at the University of Illinois. The Dean was very excited to talk to me about getting me into the Agricultural program because there were very few women in the program at that time. We talked for a very long time. I told him what had sparked my interest in Agriculture and he could barely keep himself from rubbing his hands together, he was so excited. He said he would personally guide me through choosing all of my classes at Parkland so that I would have no problems having them all transfer to the U of I.

It worked. My Boss also had me start working for the Ag Department at Parkland and then when I transferred to the U of I he had me apply to a Seed Company. I went and completed the application and turned to leave, but the secretary said 'wait and I'll see if Don is available.' He was and I began working immediately. I really don't know how long I worked there, but I do know that it was only 2 days later that I met my second husband. I was shocked the minute I saw him and could hardly speak, which anyone who knows me will tell you is unusual. You see I had been dreaming about this man for years, truly! I had dreamt about him even when I was married before. I knew the color of his hair, that he would have big feet, hands, and teeth. I knew what his voice sounded like. I knew how tall he was and the color of his eyes. I knew how he walked, but I didn't know what his face looked like. I also knew he would be my second husband. I was completely stunned because I thought it had just been a dream, but here he was in person. I didn't know how to act or where to look. The next day, I had to work with him. I was extremely nervous. We were hand harvesting corn and there were 5 of us in the field. Jerry (who would become our best man) and I were talking. We knew we were the same age and that we were from competing High Schools so we were trying to see if we knew people. I figured Bob was way too young for me. He looked like he was 19 and I had just turned 24. We kept talking and Bob and I had yet to say a word to one another. It started to rain and suddenly there was silence in the field. I didn't think anything about it and kept harvesting. I didn't know any better. I had never done this. When I got to the end of the row, I looked and saw everyone else was in the truck watching me. Nice of them to leave me in the field, right? So, I walked to the truck. One of them was wearing a rain jacket and was standing outside of the truck, Jim. Hmm. I opened the door. I said 'scoot over or I'm sitting on your lap.' No one moved so I lifted myself up and sat on Bob's lap. We were married 6 months later. He has always been, literally, the man of my dreams.

To this day, this man has stood by me through thick and thin.​ The minute my son saw him he said 'Daddy, you finally comed.' I got tears in my eyes. He quit calling every other man Daddy except his natural father, at that moment! He has been the perfect Daddy too. The 3 of us got married on May 25, Bob's birthday. My little man even had a little wedding ring and everything. He was Daddy's little boy from the very beginning. He even walks like him. Bob gave us a little girl 3 years later. Our little boy wanted to name her Cecil, so we had some negotiating to do. (Still to this day Cecil remains, a little bit here and a little bit there, even made it to a license plate, lol.)

As the endometriosis continued to grow, so did the pain and in areas where one wouldn't think it had anywhere to be. After Bob and I were married, we had a hard time getting pregnant with our little girl. It was the endo. Finally, I got pregnant with her and my Grandmother on my Mother's side was angry. She knew how hard my pregnancies were on me and she threatened to take pinking shears to Bob. She was a feisty little old lady.

Again, as with my little man, my pregnancy was awful. This time I had a little boy who would rub my tummy and lay his little head there and talk to his little sister, Cecil. He always wanted to know how big she was now and I would have to tell him by showing him my finger and say 'this big.' He was so cute. I remember one time the phone rang at noon and he answered it. It was Daddy. He was checking on us. My little man said 'Mommy can't come to the phone right now Daddy. She is throwing up her lunch.' Sigh. After lunch, he rubbed my tummy and talked to his Cecil. LOL.

She dropped when I was 6 months pregnant. I had stopped by after classes at the U of I. I had just walked into my girlfriend's house and she watched it drop as I walked in the house. She said 'OMG we have to call the Doctor. You just dropped!' I just stared at her. She grabbed the phone and called his private line. He was a personal friend of hers. He wanted to see me right away. Well I was put on bed rest at my parent's house immediately because we lived in the country. I was only to be on my feet to go to the bathroom. Otherwise, I wasn't even to lay on the couch. I still had 3 months to go. Cecil was not being very accommodating. The Holy Spirit and I had a lot of conversations during this time. I read the Bible a lot and my Mom and I talked a lot about it. My Dad and I did too. My son was very klutzy, it runs in the family, and when things happened he would come and say 'it was an assident.' Well we figured we couldn't call him Ass, so we nicknamed him Dent.

Every time the barometric pressure dropped, we went into contractions and to the hospital we would go. The Doctor would stop the contractors and he gave me medicine I had to take every 2 hours to keep the contractions at bay. However, every time the barometric pressure would drop, Cecil would try to make an appearance. We did this 6 times. My Dad would watch the weather and he would come in and say 'you are going into labor tonight.' He was always right. Then the Doctor said, when I was 8 months, that I could stop the pills and we could go home. So we did. I told Bob to put the rubber sheet on the bed. It was a good idea. About 3 in the morning, I went to wake up Brian and told him we were going back to Grandma and Grandpa's because the baby was finally coming. He just turned over and said 'Oh Mommy, can't you wait until morning?' 

It was such a stormy night! Tornadoes everywhere. When we got to the ER, they just waved us through. Bob grabbed a wheelchair and we went to the maternity section of the hospital. When we got there, there was a bed in the middle of the hall, my doctor was sitting on the bed with 2 nurses standing next to him. He looked at his watch. He said 'I'm calling 4:30 am. I win.' They had placed a bet on my arrival. Cecil was born at 10:04 am. She came out smiling and has been smiling ever since. The Doctor said 'you make 8 month babies, but this one wanted to be a 6 month baby. I don't think you should try for any more.' At the age of 29, I had a hysterectomy.

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1. My Early Days

When I was young, I was always sickly it seemed. I have very early memories from the age of 2. Every time we had chili or spaghetti at my Grandmother's house, I always got sick. She was always offended, but Mom knew it was real. The doctors called it 'nervous stomach.' Now they call it Celiac Disease. I always had tonsilitis, but they never took out my tonsils. I always got bladder infections too. I remember at the age of 3, Mom sitting me on the grocery store check out as she was writing the check. I remember crying 'Mommy I hurt' as I peed on the counter. Mom was horrified and the clerk was 'oh that poor baby' because of the color. We ended up at the Doctors which wasn't unusual. Vaginal infections always followed. I remember at the age of 2 Mom putting in a suppository, but in my 2 year old brain I thought she was cutting me with Daddy's razor because the suppository was wrapped in a silver wrapper. It looked just like Daddy's razor. It really hurt a little 2-year-old's who-hoo. I asked her 2 years before her death why she would cut me there when I was 2. She started crying that I thought she did that all these years and told me what she really did. All these years, I had thought she had abused me when I was young. I remember hiding from her in the bushes, crying I was so scared. I felt bad that I had made her cry. As I got older, I would be at a friend's house and I would start to feel funny. I would say 'I'm sorry I need to leave. Now.' I would race home. Most times I got there in time. Mom had medicine in the cupboard by that time. It is interesting, it wasn't until I was married that the doctor fixed the problem. Now with Fibromyalgia, I still get that feeling but, when I get tested I don't have an infection.

When I was 4 or 5, I got the measles, mumps, and chickenpox all within a month. It is a wonder my Mom didn't go nuts! When we went back to church, my Sunday School teacher told me I was going to hell because I hadn't been to church for a month! Can you imagine? I took off running as fast as my little legs could, scared the hounds of hell were right behind me and ran into the sanctuary calling for my parents. Of course, it was right during silent prayer time. 'Mommy, Daddy, I'm going to hell! I'm going to hell!' Over and over again, entirely hysterical. After that, they couldn't get me back to church! I was sure the door to hell was in that church. I didn't step back into that church until my Grandmother's death and even now I won't go to that church unless some family event is there. I certainly won't practice that particular 'religion.' Instead, I would stand on the front porch as people would start to go to church and yell 'Anyone want to play poker?' Mom said that I figured if I was going to hell, I might as well take others with me.

I always had growing pains in my legs too. Every night, my Dad would massage them and it hurt like the very devil but he would continue while I cried. After about a half hour, the pain would ease in each leg. That went on for years. I often wonder if that was the beginning of my Fibromyalgia. It never stopped me though. Kids are resilient. They just keep on going.

We were the 7th house in our neighborhood and so there were a lot of really high dirt piles to ride my bike on and boy did I. To a child of 6 or 7 those dirt piles were huge. My Mom would make me a lunch and I would play all day on those dirt piles with my bike. In those days, life was much simpler, safer, and you didn't have to worry about anything happening to your kids. You knew they would come home when they were hungry. I loved that freedom. You sure wouldn't do that today.

At the age of 5, I started ballet. I loved it. I was a natural. Of course, starting so young I could do anything. I think my first costume was a little French poodle, lol. All of my family came and watched my recitals every year, the boys hated it. I loved it. I was the only girl at that time. I started piano the same year. I was much better at ballet than piano. I would never play piano in front of anyone although I would dance for everyone. I tried tap dancing, but I tried to bring ballet into it and it didn't work.

By the time I was 16, the arch of my feet cramped every time I went onto my toes. I loved to be on my toes, but I collapsed every time I went up on them. Mom took me to the Doctor and he took blood tests. He discovered that my salt was low, very low. He told me that every time I cramped I needed to just put table salt into the palm of my hand and lick it. I still do that to this day. The Doctor still tests my salt and it always tests low normal. Anyway, that was the end of my ballet career because even with the salt, every time I went up on my toes I would cramp. The Doctor could find no explanation. We bought new shoes, but nothing helped. I just couldn't do it. Even now, if I arch my feet I will go into a cramp. It was a great disappointment to me. My dream was to go to New York and dance on stage with the Rockets and my dance instructor said I had the ability until I started to cramp. God had other plans.

I loved to go through the houses as they were being built, after the construction crews left for the day. I was only caught once with a girlfriend. The contractor came to see how the workmen had done that day, so we hid in the closet. Of course, the door got stuck and we couldn't get out. Fortunately for us, his son was a friend of ours and he knew we were in that house. When his Dad came back out and didn't say anything about us being in there, Dean came back and found us stuck in the closet. He let us out and told us that if his Dad had found us, we would have been in really big trouble. Yep, life was simpler in those days.​

Still with all those infections, pains, and fears, ​I had a wonderful childhood. I lived in the middle of a Scottish Clan. My Grandfather ran it with an iron fist and everyone had a holiday that they were in charge of and us kids were so close, until my Grandmother passed. The younger 2 cousins never had a chance to feel that wonderful feeling that Grandma made sure that everyone had. Whenever we all got together we all knew we were safe and loved and when we were apart we knew that we had an umbrella of protection. I had that feeling well into my middle teens.