the boys

the boys

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fancy Fainting Part 1

Twelve years ago today I had what I found out later would lead to a life changing event.  For the 6th time in my life, and 2nd time in church, I fainted.  In true Gwen fashion I didn't just faint.  I made a whole production out of it. 

It was Sunday of Memorial weekend and our tiny Mary Immaculate Catholic Church was overfull.  The church that seats a max of about 80 probably had close to 100 people crammed inside.  People were lined up along all of the walls and squishing as many people as possible into each pew.  This, my friends, should have been my first clue.  But as usual I was completely oblivious to my "condition."  After a 13-year gymnastics career had ended just 4 weeks earlier no one would have suspected that I had a serious medical issue.  Even though as my senior season came to a close my body was screaming at me that something was wrong.  I didn't listen and none of us noticed.  Nevermind that I was violently ill after every competition for about the last 2 months of the seasono.  Nevermind that I had lost that now famous (to a few) 5 pounds in just one week of the past Christmas vacation....something that had NOT happend in the three previous Christmas breaks!  Nope, we just all assumed I had the flu....every single weekend!

So my body had been trying to tell me, but I wasn't listening.  Fast forward to Memorial weekend 1999.  Crowded and hot church.  Allison was serving at Mass and just before Communinion...BAM....she hits the floor.  Yup, she fainted.  I swear my dad was halfway up the center aisle before she hit the floor.  He knows to keep an eye on his daughters in a hot stuffy church.  So Allison is led to the fresh air. 

Then I start thinking.  And that's where it all went wrong.  I know now that my condition is actually related to the nerve that leads from my brain to my heart so THINKING about passing out is most surely going to lead to passing out.  All of these years that I had ignored those pre-fainting feelings had actually served me very well.  Had I known what was going on in my body I probably would have fainted daily.  Ignorance was bliss, as they say.

So I started thinking, and thinking, and thinking.  And the more I thought, the weaker I got.  And I'm thinking to myself "I might pass out.  No, I won't pass out.  I might.  I will just sit down.  No I think I can stand.  NO better sit down.  No.  I'm ok.  I'm ok...I'm ok, I'm ok, I'm ok." 

And the next thing I know the paramedics are standing over me with that damn smelly stuff trying to get me to come to.  What I know now is that my poor older sister had suffered the brunt of my fainting once again.  This was the 3rd time I had passed out next to her.  She knew the drill.  Try to catch me and lay me down.  She and I together had tried to make it to the back door for fresh air but I hit the ground before we made it out.  But I think, if I know the story straight, that my dad actually ordered her to sit down before she passed out too.  We had 2 out of 3 Spidle girls down on that day. No need to push the envelope here.

Like I said before, I don't just pass out.  I get fancy with it.  I seizured, stopped breathing, required CPR from the respitory therapist that I know God placed in our church that morning just for my benefit.  I was splashed with Holy Water, because it was the only thing available in our tiny church.  I guess if I was going to do it, that was as good a place as any. So there I went, headed 50 minutes away to Liberty Hospital by ambulance with the lights and sirens going.  Not that I remember, I was still out of it. 

In retrospect that should have been another major red flag that no one picked up on.  It took me a good hour or so to really come around and know what was going on.  Then another several hours before I really could get up and walk around or resume any normal activity.  But by the time I got to the hospital and was hooked up to all of the monitors, the doctors couldn't see anything obvious going on.  I had been through this before.  Once in that very hospital, once in a Las Vegas Emergency Room, and once in a surgery prep room in Tuscaloosa before one of my ankle surgeries.  The other two times I am pretty sure happened during the middle of the night and I miraculously recovered on my own without CPR.  One of my doctors later told me that it was "likely" that I would always come around on my own without the help of CPR, but honestly why chance it.  Is that something I want to worry about every day?  Ummm, NO.

There I was at Liberty Hospital ER.  They couldn't really put their finger on what had happend and I had been through this before.  I begged for them to discharge me so that I could return to Alabama to see all of my team physicians at the University of Alabama who I really felt would take a closer look at the whole picture.  And so they did.  I discharged to my parents, slept all the way home and for a few more hours on their couch, and then resumed normal life.  Normal life was about to change drastically, but that blog is still in the making....

I don't think a Sunday goes by, especially at Mary Immaculate, that I don't think of that day.  Especially on today.  My what a difference 12 years makes!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Justin's Conversation with God

Sometimes I use this blog as a way to tell funny stories, or as a way to reflect, or as my coping mechanism for the endless crazy times that define my 30's.  Other times, like now, I use it as a sort of electronic baby book for the boys.  They aren't babies anymore but I love being able to capture some of these stories so that they can read them later....and not in my horrible handwriting! 

It's amazing to see the boys' relationship with God develop year by year.  Leo is beside himself at church every Sunday waiting to sing the Alleluhia...but make no mistake, he's still 2 years old.  Almost immediately after the Alleluhia he begs to go home for the next 30 minutes!!  He might take about a 3 minute break when he gets to take his $1 up to the basket and then immediately back to begging to go home.  Justin is learning to go beyond saying prayers and maybe, just maybe, starting to understand actually talking and praying to God. 

This past weekend Justin and I had a great conversation about God.  I am pretty sure the discussion began as a delay tactic for going to bed, but I will take what I can get.  It was very interesting to see a 4 year old try to grasp the concept of talking to God.  Justin had been misbehaving all evening so in true Catholic fashion I started trying to teach him about praying and confession.  I told him that in his prayers tonight he might want to tell God that he is sorry for being sassy and for hitting Leo. 
Enter an endless amount of questions:

Can I talk to God anytime I want? (yes)
Anytime? (yes)
When I wish upon a star is that talking to God? (sure)
Could I say "I love you God?"  (of course, He loves to hear that)
Could I say "Abracadabra?" (sure, you can say whatever you want to God)
Could I say "1, 60, 60, 111, 60?"  (well, that's not a real number but you can say anything to God)

Where is God? (He is everywhere and when we talk to Him, He is in our hearts)
Like Balentine's Day? (no, this heart is in our body)
Where is our heart? (it's in our body.  I let him lay on my chest and hear my heart beat)
What does it do? (it keeps us alive by pumping blood through our body)
Is God in our blood? (yes, God is everywhere)

Did you know that Dracula likes blood?  (yes)
Is God in Dracula? (no, Dracula isn't real.  He is pretend)
What about Batman?  Is God in Batman?  (no, Batman isn't real either)
Yes he is!  When he is Batman he isn't real because that is a costume, but when he isn't his costume then he is real like me.  (Ok, then God is in Batman when he is real).

How does our heart keep us alive?  (It just keeps us going like how batteries keep toys going)
What about when it runs out? (the heart doesn't run out like batteries do...I SO did not want to go down that road too!  This was heavy enough)
Like Robots?  Do Robots have God?  (no they aren't real)
Only good guys have hearts, right? (kind of)
Not Joker.  He is a bad guy.  But all of the good guys are real people so they have hearts.   (ok)

So I can talk to God anytime?  (yes)
What if I am talking to someone else and He can't hear me? (He can always hear you no matter who you are talking to)
Will he be mad at me if I am talking to someone else?  (no, but He wants you to talk nice to everyone).

Can He talk to me?  (kind of.  He is in your brain and in your heart talking to you.)
Like numbers are in my brain? (kind of)
ok mom.  Good night. 

and just like that, he was done with our conversation.  It was like he had learned all he needed to learn that night about talking to God.  Just warmed my heart....and made up for some of the sassy behaviors :)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Move on, ICM. Move on.

I'm broke as a joke.  Not really sure what that means exactly, but to me it simply means I ain't got no cash....until Jeremy gets home today :) 

It's not like I can complain about being broke.  For anyone that is my friend on Facebook you have recently been witness to my martini extravaganza in DC last weekend.  AND I got my hair done for a still undisclosed amount.  So I'm not complaining here, I am just simply stating the fact that I am flat broke. 

How did I spend my last $5 you might ask? Or you might not be asking because I'm fairly confident that no one was sitting around thinking up that question on their own, but I digress as I so often do.

I spent my last $5 in cash for the week on the freaking Ice Cream Man.  Well technically I spent $4 on ice cream and gave him a $1 tip.  That's right.  I am such a giver.  Yup, that's me.  Always thinking of others.  Puttin' others first.  That's what everyone always says about me.  That Gwen is just sooooo selfless. 

Anyway, back to me and my story...I am guessing my kids have never experienced the Ice Cream Truck.  I don't recall ever having it stop by our house and I assume they have never encountered it at their grandparents house or anywhere else because they were clueless.  And no one forgets the Ice Cream Truck after their first experience.  So this was a new thing for them. 

I could here its bell ringing in the neighborhood while we were outside watering the flowers.  As it got closer I decided to make a big deal out of it.  Why?  I do not know.  It was a moment of weakness. I start getting the boys all pumped up.   "HERE IT COMES, BOYS!!  QUICK, COME SEE IT."  I was like a freaking lunatic in the front yard.  And they don't even understand what is going on.  They are running around in circles in the front yard in excitement, yet have no idea what is actually going on.  First of all, my boys don't eat ice cream (due to Justin's history of allergies) so the announcement of the Ice Cream TRUCK'S arrival.... as in a whole truck full of ice cream...didn't have quite the same impact as it might on some other young children.  If I had said a Popsicle Truck was coming it might have been a different reaction, but that's ridiculous.  No one calls it that. 

So here I am getting everyone all riled up in the front yard as the ugly white van turns the corner ringing the ol' bell.  Then I realize that I only have $5 to my name.  I'm pretty sure he won't accept Visa.  I have no idea how much treats from the truck cost today.  I'm sure they aren't cheap.  I'm thinking that we might end up all sharing one $4 bomb pop.  Lick and pass.  Lick and pass.  Lick and pass.  Sounds like good times.

And I realize my money is in the house, in the garage, in my car.  So I start frantically waving at the Ice Cream Man (from here on out known as ICM) indicating that oh yeah, baby, we want ice cream but I have to run inside to get the money.  I'm pretty sure he is familiar with the signal of a short wave and a point towards the house as "I am going to get money, I'll be right back" and not as a signal that "Hey scary ICM, we are going to lock ourselves in the house so you don't kidnap my kids." 

We all know about the reputation of ICM's, whether deserved or undeserved.  Not the safest bunch of folks.  What a lovely reputation they have.  I mean what person wants to go home and announce to their dear mother "MOM, I got a new job.  I am going to be an Ice Cream Man."  That poor mother.  She is telling all of her friends that her son is in "transportation" or "sales."  You know I'm right about this.

But I digress (again).  So for good measure I wave at the ICM a few more times indicating that I am going inside (with my children) to get money and will be right back.  The whole time I am pumping the kids up for this uber exciting experience of buying a Popsicle from a white van.  THIS IS GONNA BE GREAT!! 

So we rush outside where ICM continues to ring his bell just in case any other kids in the neighborhood want to come a runnin'.  Thankfully most of the prices are around $2 so each of the boys can have their own and I can eat left over Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream that the Schwann's man gave me a few months ago....I think you know that story.  (what is it with me and frozen food trucks??)

After all of the hype the whole experience was relatively painless.  Justin and Leo each picked out their treat, a Batman and Pink Panther Popsicle, respectively.  Our total is $4 so I hand Mr. ICM the $5 and start to walk away and he asked me if that was his tip.  I so, so, so badly wanted to turn around and say "Here's a tip.  Don't ever try to lure my children to your truck and kidnap them"  but instead I just said "Sure is.  Have a good day."  Then I shuffled the boys inside and made them promise me about 15 times that they would never talk to the ICM without mommy or daddy present.  Probably scared the crap out of the boys and I am sure that ICM was a perfectly decent person, but one can never be too sure.

Then true to form, after all of that (which probably only lasted a total of 3 minutes) the boys each took about 4 bites out of their ice cream bar/Popsicle things and then left them on the table to melt.  Yup, that's about right.  I salvaged them before they were a total puddle and to date they continue to sit in our freezer in individual Ziploc bags.  $4 really well spent.  Big ol' pat on the back of dear ol' mom!

So you can imagine my general displeasure when, for the last 4 days, the ICM has been driving down our street, turning around at our corner, then back up it, then down again, occasionally stopping right in front for a few seconds, then around our block, then down one more time all the while ringing that damn bell in a grand attempt to draw us back out into the front yard to spend $4 and perhaps throw the ever so generous $1 tip his way.  Keep trying, ICM.  Keep trying. 

We still have 2 half eaten Popsicles in the freezer.  And Mama ain't got no money today. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

J is for Jeremy

Jeremy so desperately wants me to write a blog about him.  Be careful what you wish for, honey!!!  This is just a start.  You may have opened the floodgates.  I have SO many good stories to tell!

J is for Jersey Shore and all of the other trashy TV that you watch.

E is for enormous.  And I am talking about your enormous heart.  Get your mind out of the gutter!

R is for "rocking out" which is what you and the boys do in the car to annoy and amuse me all at the same time

E is for eager to please because you always are

M is for the monkey paw you give me every time you get the chance

Y is for the yummy sauce you make for our salmon dinners

K is for kisses.  Big smooches to you, honey!!

E is for eagle ears that can hear my mumbles anywhere in the house but yet have no idea what I am saying when I am 2 feet from you

V is for the vacuum that you use WAY more than I ever do

I is for the i-phone which is how you will read this blog

N is for needy which you are, and I'm a good balance overall!

O is for all of the work that you do Outside while I am a wimp and stay inside in the air conditioning. 

B is for buns because you have the cutest ones and I just wanna smack them everytime I walk by

R is for rubbing my feet which you do often

I is for the "I do's" that we said almost 5 years ago

E is for the earring that you finally removed after we had been dating for about a year

N is for the Nutcracker Ballet that we went to when we were first dating and you asked me when the actors would start talking.  Still one of my favorite dates....right up until the time that you tore your ACL and had to have surgery the next week. 

Love you!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Judge much?

I am a big fan of judging people.  yup.  I said it.  Love to get all up in the business of others and make my ever so expert  judgement on if they are making the right decision for their lives.  Fortunately, I found a job that allows me to do just that.  I mean we call it "assessing" in the biz, but really it's just judging.  But have no fear, I also excel in this skill outside of work.  I mean no harm in it.  It's just something to pass my time.  I can honestly say I do it with no ill intent whatsoever.  Just good old fashion judging.

But I'm totally cool with people judging me.  I'm not stupid.  I know it happens.  Everyone has an opinion about everything.  For example, there are some out there in this cruel, cruel world that will judge me for having Lucky Charms for dinner tonight.  Oh yes ma'am I did.  I gained those 5 lbs right back after my flu.  So go ahead and talk about that over coffee tomorrow morning.  AND Jeremy just forced me to make cookies tonight.  I didn't plan on it.  Ok, so I did already have a spoonful of cookie dough, but I was NOT planning on going the extra step and actually baking cookies.  Lazy?  Maybe. Want to judge me for that?  That's cool.  I won't hate on ya.  (I have no idea why I had to go ghetto at the end there...I guess you can judge that too.)  While you are judging me, I'm eating warm cookies.  SNAP!

You know what else? I give in to my kids all the time.  Little Miss Hard Ass at work is just a push-over in my own home.  Full disclosure:  I might be a push over at work sometimes too.  Judge much?

I let my kids come up to my bed.  I know. I'm a rebel.  I'm super crazy like that!  I used to be one of the people that judged parents for letting their toddlers and young children sleep in their bed.  I was all "that is so wrong" and "those kids will never learn to sleep by themselves" and "that's not healthy for parents or children."  But, don't knock it 'till you try it right?  I am somehow blessed with children that love to cuddle in my bed with me, but then also love to go to their own beds when it comes down to time to actually go to sleep.  God I love those boys!!  The very last words I heard on Mother's Day were from Justin as he climbed out of my bed, pausing, and telling me in his most serious voice "Mom, thank you so much for always taking care of me.  I love you.  And you know what, Mom?  We are a family.  And we have to stick together and always be kind to each other." 

So do I judge the cheesy cartoon that taught him these sappy comments? I do not.  I just soak it in.  Every little minute of it.  Don't judge me.  Ok, go ahead.....