Where Did the Year Go?

Sitting here in my quiet house watching with my sweet yorkie by my side, watching my son’s new puppy chew on a bone and my mind wanders. For two years I was in this house alone, kids at school, somewhat limited by my inability to drive and a quiet house was common. This last year has been crazy busy. Now though, it is not so common to be in a quiet space and it feels uncomfortable. It is a change I didn’t anticipate.

Exactly one year ago, I was admitted to Duke Hospital in the seizure monitoring unit. My meds were stopped and I was hooked up to video EEG and a heart monitor. We were there to wait for a seizure. I can still smell the chemicals they used to glue the 30 some odd leads to my head. YUCK! I carried around a battery pack for the heart monitor and the leads from my head were gathered into a gauze wrapped ponytail permanently attached to an electrical panel in the wall. When I say permanent, I mean permanent. I could not leave the room for the entire stay. I could go to the bathroom in privacy but someone had to be with me at all times waiting for and documenting any seizure like activity. I played games with the video camera and moved around the room to see if it followed me. Usually it did. At night they were a little slower. I think they were napping. I was a pretty low key patient. The nurses only did vitals every four hours because we were just there to wait for a seizure. And wait we did. After nine days in the world’s smallest hospital room I learned some things. Generic ginger ale is pretty good if served over ice, hospital food needs lots of salt and pepper, always place your meal order early, hospital wifi is spotty, you can fry an iPad if you put it on a heart monitor battery pack, EEG readings are messed up if you hold a charging iPad or iPhone, Netflix is the bomb, Big Brother and Below Deck are fantastic time passers, showers are NOT overrated, glue in your hair is nasty, my marriage is solid because survived 9 days in one room, nurses are too loud at night and keep patients awake, I can actually stay awake for 24 straight hours and then only take a brief nap all in the name of bringing on a seizure, bed side manner is everything when it comes to loving a nurse, never ever pass up friends who offer to bring you food from the outside world and I don’t ever want to go through any of that again. I also have an amazing mother who came and lived with my sons while my husband stayed with me. Friends provided daily meals for two straight weeks while I was gone and after we came home. Though the tests were somewhat inconclusive, we learned what the right meds are and they have served me well for the last year.

At the beginning of February, I got my wheels back! After two years off the road, I jumped back in with both feet. My father in law had undergone surgery for a total knee replacement in early January. Unfortunately the surgery had to be stopped because his heart stopped. Doctors worked quickly and God jump started his heart but it began a long journey with new and unexpected trials. He was away from home, in and out of hospitals and rehab centers for 2 months after having to undergo a second surgery to finish the knee replacement. That man is a fighter and his wife is the toughest gal on the block. His healing continues each day and we have all been adapting to a new normal. He has mostly good days now. Never take good health for granted. We never know what may be next. And I would add, I can be a serious force to be reckoned with when it comes to healthcare for my father in law.

Life changes so quickly and it can happen in so many ways. This spring my mom decided it was time to complete her retirement plan and move to the mountains permanently. This meant selling her home. It wasn’t just her home though, it was the home her parents built  in 1957. It was the family home. Sorting, trashing, keeping, selling, packing, hauling, shipping…yep we did it all. Some days I was on task and some days I tearfully sorted and tried to fight off my tendency to hold onto things for sentimental reasons. I reminded myself that my treasure box of memories is in my head and that never leaves me. We had a yard sale and I laughed each time someone picked something up and my mom told them the story behind it. Mom traveled all over the world for about 25 years. She has millions of things from her trips, not really but sometimes it felt like it. When she tried explaining the Spirit House that she bought and carried all over Taipei, or the walking  stick handle she got in Afghanistan, people looked at her like she had just jumped off the moon. I don’t think one person believed any of the crazy origins she spilled. The funniest part is that everything was true. When Johnny and I loaded the last box to take to donate he spotted something and asked if I was sure I wanted to let it go. I said “I have touched every single one of these things at least five times so if it got here I’m not changing my mind.” I guess that is how moves should go. My mind needed to come to the realization that it was time to let go of a structure and the things that were in it. Those walls surrounded love and now it will be the foundation for a new family to build memories and perhaps hang some artifacts from their own travels. Let’s be honest, at the end of the day, the thing we will all miss the most is the prime parking spot!

College. Say it ain’t so! The time came much faster than I ever knew it could. My son packed up totes, snacks, mattress egg crate and off he went. Boys are so easy! It only took us two loads and he was in his 10’x15′ corner room. I think I over prepared because I didn’t cry until about a week after he left, and that was one ugly cry. Maybe I was in shock. It is SO quiet in the afternoons at home because there is no drumming! The laundry loads are much smaller and I have not quite figured out how much food to make when I am not feeding an 18 year old man. It took me about a week of glancing into his room to not feel overwhelmed with his absence. Partially because I can text him anytime I want, but maybe because much like letting go of my mom’s house, his walls surrounded love and talent that can be passed on. Watching him venture off to a new place with new experiences is like sharing a house with another family and letting them have the gift of a solid foundation. We hope Justin has the foundation to successfully bloom into whatever he is passionate about. He was home this weekend and we were walking through a store and I spotted a toy he had when he was little. He immediately remembered it and continued talking about all the different things he made with it. My heart was so full because I felt final peace that we are all right where we are supposed to be. He holds the same memories and they bring him joy. He is living out each moment, as we all are, to the best that we know, by faith, trusting that the decisions we make are guided by what God knows will be best for us.

As I think back on this past year it makes sense that it went by so quickly. We were going through a lot of motions and a lot of emotions. I have been relearning how to be active and mobile again. I giggle when I read my blog title “Embracing Change” because it seems like I’m always being forced to do that. Truly, I’m so fortunate, so very very fortunate.

Copyright © Gatewood Campbell, September 2016

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5 thoughts on “Where Did the Year Go?

  1. Sandra Rich ( Lisa & Amy's mom) says:

    Gatewood, you rock!!! So happy for you & all you have accomplished!!! May God continue to Bless you & your family in His most powerful way!!!

  2. pam says:

    You’re an inspirational woman! I know the spirit house well … and feel as though I’ve known you all these years. May the blessings continue to flow.

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