Life After Brain Surgeries

Yes, you read that right. Surgeries. My one planned brain surgery turned into 2 brain surgeries, several procedures, and 3 hospitalizations. I never planned on this.

I realized, after chats with my bestie, that people only see what I allow them to see. I post on social media with updates and I always seem so positive and upbeat. What people don’t see are my breakdowns.

I breakdown at least 3 times a day. Sometimes more. Songs that used to give me strength now make me weak. Things, simple things, I can no longer do make me feel depressed. I realize my body needs time to heal. Twice as much, if not three times as much as I planned. And that’s frustrating.

From time to time I discuss my pain, but more often than not, I’m reporting my pain free days. I don’t discuss my nights without sleep due to pain, my days when I’m too weak to go up and down the stairs, or the times I wish I had never had the surgery to begin with.

I don’t let people see me cry. Only those close to me have heard me cry to them on the phone. I lay here alone crying so often it’s beginning to make me think I’m losing my mind. I will break down and cry over the simplest things.

The nurses and others who have had similar surgeries tell me that’s normal. To cry a lot. To be weak and tired. But I feel so alone, so tired, so sad. I had the surgery to get my life back; to give my kids their mom back. Last month, I spent more days in the hospital than I did at home. I have had stitches (technically) in my head for over a month. I have to wrap my arm in plastic before showering (I have a PICC line for IV antibiotics). My life isn’t normal right now and I’m so damn sad about it. I struggle to help my kids with things. I struggle to do what I need to do to care for myself let alone 3 other people.

So while many see my positive and humorous side and think I’m just oh so strong, I’m not. I’m weak. I’m sad. I’m tired. I need y’all to understand that.

And as harsh as this may sound, being told to keep my head up, be patient, or to stay positive doesn’t help me. It makes me feel worse. My head you want me to keep up is broken. It’s broken, swollen, and hurting. My patience has worn thin. And it’s hard to remain positive when so many negative things have happened to me.

Yes, I realize some people have it worse. I know some people didn’t wake up this morning. I realize my community has lost many people lately. And I feel the loss and I feel the pain of all those suffering. But that does not make my feelings less valid!!

I am allowed to vent. I am allowed to feel like this. My feelings are valid. I do not expect any replies to this post. I do not mean to hurt any feelings. I just needed to say all of this. I apologize if any feelings have been hurt. It’s truly not my intention.

Little Things

So yesterday I broke down several times. Surgery is one week away. So of course my nerves are a wreck. It’s normal. I’m told I wouldn’t be human if I wasn’t worried. But let me explain why I broke down yesterday.

I was cooking more meals to freeze for the kids to have during my hospitalization and recovery. My oldest son was practicing his trumpet. (actually a 1956 coronet which is so bad ass) I decided to pick it up and wow him with some things. Ya see, I taught myself to play the trumpet when I was 10ish. Yep, picked one up and taught myself. I was incredibly talented. I say this not to brag, but just to say I am confident in that fact. My talent was passed to my kids, each knowing how to play but only my older son choosing to play. Anyway….

So I played a few scales, a little improv, and then it happened. The damn nerve in my face fired like crazy. Electrical shocks down my jaw. The hammering pain in my bones of my face. And reality hit me.

Even though I don’t play regularly, it is something I do enjoy. I love to just play and reminisce about my youth and my time in band, both concert and marching band. How I was chosen as a freshman in high school to play with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore band for commencement that year. How much I loved having solos during concerts. How I know it was something that made my parents proud. And it truly was a passion.

Now, I can’t play. And that devastates my heart. If they can’t fix my nerve disorder with this surgery I will not be able to play. Ever. A little thing with a huge impact.

My heart is hurting. My soul feels like it was a personal blow. She is weary. She is broken.

Little things can bring with them the misery of a thousand broken hearts.

My New Normal

Yesterday I was diagnosed with now a 3rd pain disorder… Er disfunction/disease/ailment/illness that causes pain. I don’t even know what to call it. All I know is I’m really over it.

I’m over not being the woman I want to be. I’m over not being the mom I was; the mom my kids deserve. I’m over people questioning my constant illnesses and my constant pain. I’m over people making jokes when I slur my words or when I walk with a limp. I’m over this daily struggle.

But it’s my new normal. I have to learn to deal. 3 years ago I woke up with a migraine that never left. Thankfully, botox injections ease them enough so that I can function. Almost 2 years ago I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. That was also a major change and adjustment. One I still struggle with daily. And now trigeminal neuralgia. I do not know much about it yet other than it’s rare, it’s painful, it can happen to anyone, and there is no cure; only the attempt at treatment.

I am not looking for sympathy or anything. I am primarily writing this just so I can get it out. So I can face the music and say to myself, “this is your new normal so learn to deal”….

I’m not sure what the future holds or if the meds will help me. I also don’t know what fresh hell awaits me for next year. Anyone wanna place bets? I’m kidding, don’t be so sensitive!

Until next time….

At Her Core

Deep inside, a feeling, a longing to belong.

At the center of her being, a sad and lonely song.

A shattered sense of self.

A lost and broken girl.

Wildly seeking something.

A reason to go on.

Aching and burning, that reason doesn’t come.

An empty core is left, her heart is on the run.

via Daily Prompt: Core

Death Will Find Us All

It is truly a sad time in my life right now. I am not writing this seeking pity or condolences. I am writing this because I have so much to say on the topic of death and how we don’t ever know when it will find us. Today, we buried a 56 year old grandmother. Three months ago, my 34 year old brother-in-law. My poor children (my daughter especially as this was her grandmother today) have seen so much death in their young years. And it makes me ache from deep within my soul.

I have a special place in my heart for children. And to see so many show up to Mrs. Audrey’s funeral today really broke my heart. But it also made me happy to see just how many children she mattered to. Just how many children she helped in so many ways. But that heartache, that grief, will follow these children. As much as we like to think that children are more resilient than us adults, we must recognize that they will forever hold these memories in their hearts, aching and not understanding why they had to endure it at such a young age. They will think, 20 years from now, back on this day and remember the tears and the sobs of those around them. They will remember just how much they loved Mrs. Audrey and all that she did for our little farm family. And for some of them, it will be their first memories of death.

That is truly heartbreaking. To think of how many children will most likely cry at our first horse show of the season. Shows where normally Mrs. Audrey would show up late, barreling up the dirt lane pulling a horse trailer, stopping at the porch to drop off the cooler full of ice for our food stand. The times we will laugh remembering those times and her heart of gold will be the only thing that gets many of us through the upcoming show season.

It is times like now that we reflect back on how we interacted with others. Did we show them enough appreciation? Did we let them know they were loved? I know that I thanked her many times over the years for her love for my daughter. She showed her love in many ways, never faltering, never failing. And my daughter will hold on to those memories forever. I know that I have raised my daughter well and she never let Audrey’s good deeds go unnoticed or unappreciated.

As I sat through the service listening to all of the things said about her, I could only hope that when my time comes, those same things are said of me. I hope that people note my strength and resilience, my love for my children and my family and friends. I hope that by the time death finds me, I have achieved all of my goals and watched my children reach theirs. Death finds us all, but will we be ready?

Kristen A. Ruchalski

Getting Back to Me

I’m not sure where I went

I got lost along the way.

I thought I found myself in you

But it turns out that you were lost too.

I realized that your appeal

was an illusion in my brain.

I never noticed all your faults

I never saw that you were him.

All the things I wanted

that I was missing in my past.

Were all the things you offered

but like most things, it didn’t last.

I’m moving on now.

Now that I see your flaws.

I am letting go of all the hurt.

Moving on from all the wrong.

I’ve admitted my mistakes

and I think that you have too.

So, goodbye, for now.

I wish the best for you.

~Kristen A. Ruchalski

January 17th, 2017

This Place 

I came to get some peace and quiet, perhaps a calming release. 

But all I have found is sadness in all these memories. 

We used to meet for a stolen kiss, a long embrace, and a chat. 

Now these trees whisper your voice, and I’m not not sure I can handle that. 

How did you mark this place and force it to hold you here? 

Retelling all the memories like daggers in my ear?

©2017