Wed, Jan 12th, 2011

Half of my heart's got a grip on the situation...

I am an entirely different human being than I was the last time I wrote an entry in this journal. Nothing about my life is the same. Nothing. In the past couple of years my life went to hell and it just started to rebound in December...and it rebounded in a big way.

On December 11, 2008 my mom succumbed to her illness. I had moved out just a month prior and was living in Bedford with Norris McPike, who would later become my husband. We lived in a small duplex behind Family Dollar right in town and I worked at Family Video part-time. Norris did not have a job, so we really didn't have a pot to piss in. I closed with Missy Fullen on December 10th, 2008 and while I was at work that night I glanced at the schedule and saw that I had the following day off, which was a surprise because I had been under the impression that I was supposed to work that day. I called mom from work and told her that I had the following day off and said that I would come up and see her and cut some stencils the next day. I rushed off the phone with her because I had customers. Missy & I didn't get out of Family Video until around 12:30 AM that night and when I went home I stayed up until 4 AM putting Christmas decorations out. I woke up the next morning sometime around 11 AM, if I remember correctly. That exact detail I am somewhat hazy on. I do, however, recall wishing that I could go back to sleep, but forcing myself up and out of bed so I could get a somewhat early start up to mom and dad's. Mom had requested that I bring her some cigarettes when I came up so I called to ask whether or not there was anything else she needed me to bring. Dad called me back a little while later and told me that he had to hurry because he was going to a funeral, but that mom had requested that I bring her a crossword puzzle book. I went to Wal-Mart and got her cigarettes, crossword puzzle book and also picked up some cranberry ginger ale that I saw because all she had been able to drink was ginger ale or cranberry juice...I thought it would be the perfect drink for her. When I entered through the back door of my parent's house, I saw mom standing next to the couch wearing her nightgown. She smiled at me when I walked in. I, as usual, was rushed and dropped the bag on the floor and said, "Is that your Christmas tree at the bottom of the drive way?" and Mom said, "Oh, is that where your dad put it? It was in the back of his truck and he took it out when he went to the funeral." I said, "You better be careful letting Dempsey out or he'll piss on it." Mom was watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and she said that she had had the DirecTV paused so long that she couldn't pause it any longer and she wanted to finish the episode. I watched the episode with her and afterwards I showed her some pictures on my digital camera of the Christmas decorations that I had put up the night before. She got up to use the restroom at one point and I followed her and she then told me that she wasn't feeling well and was going to try to lay down. I told her that I would go upstairs and work while she was laying down. I went upstairs and then remembered that I was supposed to bring some board games to the Christmas party that Family Video was having, so I went back downstairs and then down into the basement to get some board games. On my way back up, I tripped at the top of the stairs and the games went flying into the dining room. The first indication that something wasn't right was when mom didn't even acknowledge the fact that I had fallen. I started to pick up the pieces of the games and I kept looking over at mom to see if she was OK. I stopped in the middle of cleaning up the mess and went over to her to ask if she was OK. She nodded her head. I then asked if she wanted me to call Dr. German (her Rheumatologist) and she shook her head "no." I went back to the mess and resumed picking up the pieces, but I kept watching mom and knew that something wasn't right. I grabbed Dr. German's card and went upstairs to try to call her office without mom being aware. I couldn't get through to Dr. German's office, so I started calling Volunteers in Medicine to see if they had any suggestions. Since mom was a VIM patient, I couldn't just take her to the ER during VIM hours without getting it cleared by them. I had no luck getting through to VIM either so I started to panic. I went to the banister to see if mom was doing OK and by that time she was up and pacing, trying to breathe. I told her not to worry, that I was trying to contact the doctor. I called the ER and explained the situation and they gave me a "guarantee answer" line to VIM. I called and received the same message that I had received the first time I called. I called the ER back and they told me to just bring mom in and we'd figure out the payment at a later time. I flew down the stairs and went straight into mom & dad's bedroom to get some pajama pants for mom. I went into the living room and at this point mom was sitting on dad's bed (dad had moved a bed into the living room because mom had to sleep on the couch - the bed was too soft for her and compressed her chest). I started to put the pants on her and then told her that I needed her to stand up. I got the pants on her and she said, "Jessi, what's going on?" I had tried calling dad numerous times while I was trying to get ahold of VIM and Dr. German and around this time dad finally called back. I told him mom couldn't breathe and he had Scott call 911 and also told me to call 911. After I called 911, mom said a few times, "Jessi, something's wrong." I was terrified. I called Kathryn, mom's sister, and held the phone to mom's ear while Kathryn told mom to just let the air come to her...not to force it. Dad somehow made it home before the ambulance ever even showed up. As it turned out, the GPS system had broken down in the ambulance and they couldn't find our house. I stood outside in the middle of the road waiting for them. I could hear their sirens, but then the sirens would stop because they would pull into a driveway to try to figure out where they were. I was on the phone with the dispatcher and told her to tell them to keep going until they saw a female standing in the middle of the road. Dad came down to the end of the driveway and said he'd wait for them and sent me back into the house with mom. Mom still couldn't breathe and I kept promising her that they'd be here soon and they would give her a breathing treatment and everything would be OK. One thing I can't get over is the fact that I bold-faced lied to my mom before she died. Everything did not turn out OK. When the EMTs arrived, they were able to stabilize mom and I really started to think that we were in the clear. My naive mind thought, "Well, now we're heading to the place that will help her." We got to Bloomington Hospital and they triaged her as having a panic attack. Words cannot describe how horrific the next hour was. For over an hour we begged and pleaded with them to help mom. They were all certain it was "just a panic attack" and acted as though dad and I were nuts. I was running halls, crying, screaming...doing everything I could to get people's asses moving to help my mother. At one point mom looked at dad & me and said, "Shoot me, guys, I've waited too long to breathe." She also said, "I'm dying! Give me something so I don't know what's happening to me." Those are words that I will never get out of my mind. After over an hour of begging, they intravaneously administered Ativan and within thirty seconds she started to turn blue. They gave her a respiratory depressing drug when her respiratory system was already depressed AND she was already on other drugs that depressed the respiratory system. I watched her eyes roll in the back of her head... Needless to say, we had security called on us, the Bloomington was a nightmare.

As I said before, I was with Norris McPike during all of this. He and I had been together for 7 months and had lived together for a month. Naturally, I was a basketcase after mom died. She wasn't just my mother...she was my best friend. She was my everything. I honestly am surprised that I didn't kill myself after she died. I didn't know how I was going to continue to live, to function. I did my best to lean on Norris, but he wanted no part of it. He was more focused on himself that he was on comforting me. I dismissed it as him just being uncomfortable because of the situation. Four months after mom's passing, Norris' sister's fiance passed away in his sleep. He was one of Norris' friends from school and it seemed to really hit close to home for Norris. Norris started talking about wanting to get married and I attributed it to the fact that Nate had died and Norris was realizing his own mortality. We became engaged and wed on September 13, 2009, which would have been mom's 42nd Birthday. I wore my mom's ring and married him on her birthday... A week after our wedding, Norris started becoming violent with me. As a matter of fact, that was my "oh shit" moment. I realized then that I had made a mistake by marrying that man. Saying that I was miserable in my marriage is an understatement. It was hell. I've been choked, had knives pulled on me, been drug through the living room by my hair, been punched in the stomach, had him spit in my face, dump soda over my head, etc. I kept going back for more. I kept telling myself that I'd made my bed and I had to lie in it. Part of it was my pride that kept me going back. I didn't want to hear "I told you so" from my dad or anyone else. I didn't want to be 22 and have a failed marriage. Mostly, I did not want to become my grandmother. Plus, Norris could talk a good game when he wanted to. He went to anger management classes and therapy. He professed his undying love for me and told me that he'd never touch me again. Whatever. And then there wasn't just the abuse. There were many, many other things that hurt me and tore me down. He told me my mom died just to escape me. He told me I was so skinny that I looked like an Ethiopian on crack. He lied to me and told me that he only had 3 kids when he really has 4. He told me that his dad was dead, but his dad is alive and well and lives in Paoli. He told me that the mother of his oldest son is dead, but she is also alive and well and lives with his son in Maine. He told me that he was diabetic and had a bone marrow disease, but he has no known health issues. He and I separated in March 2010 because he had choked me and pulled a knife on me. I bought a house and moved in to it all by myself. I had no intentions of taking him back. Somehow I let my guard down and let him come back. In no time whatsoever he was back to his old ways. Looking at porn, lying to me about where he was going, using my money to buy cigarettes and then lying about it, etc. Then, of course, there were all the rumors about other girls. Those were unceasing. He moved out for the last time in August and that was also the last time that I had to call the cops on him. He had thrown me down on the couch and threatened to kill me. I seriously thought he was going to choke me again. He stayed gone, although he did come around on occasion, but then I became ill in November. I started having horrible upper right quadrant pain and I could hardly breathe. I thought my lack of breath was because the pain was so bad. I had Norris come sit with me some nights because I didn't want to be by myself. I finally told dad what was going on and he wanted me to go to the doctor. I finally broke down and went to the Dunn Walk In Clinic and she scheduled an ultrasound for me. Long story short, after an ER trip and many various tests, I was told that I need to have my gallbladder removed. The surgeon that I was referred to wanted me to have an echocardiogram and a colonoscopy before he would perform the surgery, though. He wanted the echo because he heard a murmur when he heard my heart and he wanted the colonoscopy to give me a definitive answer as to whether or not I had Crohn's disease. On Friday, December 3, dad and I went to Dr. Siddiqi's office and he told me that I do not have Crohn's disease but that I did have a large primum ASD (atrial septal defect) in my heart. By that evening I realized that my defect would require open heart surgery and I decided that I wanted to go to the Cleveland Heart Clinic because they have been rated #1 for 16 years. After my diagnosis, I had to go back to work for a few hours and while I was at work Dad went to my house to talk to Norris. I guess an argument ensued, but by the time dad left they both said everything was cool. Later that evening dad called me and told me to come up to Kohl's because they were having a huge sale and he wanted to buy me some stuff. Dad, Julie, Norris and I spent hours at Kohl's that night and dad spent $400 on clothing for me. I spent the rest of that evening and the next day looking up information about my heart defect and spending time on the phone with family members. By Sunday, the 5th, Norris was angry with me because I wasn't paying any attention to him. He said I was focusing too much on my heart and my family and I was treating him like he was a ghost in the house. I told him that this wasn't about him and it was about me for once and he went off on a rampage. He kicked his grandmother's table until he busted it, busted my Jesus statue that mom got me for Easter, put a dent in my 'fridge, put a hole in my kitchen wall, and kicked a can of grape soda around the house and got the soda all over the walls and floors. Norris told me he didn't want me anymore, couldn't stand the sight of me, and wanted me to get the divorce papers drawn up. I left to go to church with dad in Bloomington and I told Norris to get out. He left while I was gone and has not stayed over there since. He's stopped by a few times to get some stuff, to talk to me, etc., but there was no chance of me letting him stay in my home again. He did everything he could to guilt me and beg me back, but I despise him. I can't even stand the sight of him. He kept swaying back and forth - one day he would say he wanted to go with me to Cleveland when I had my heart surgery and then the next day he would say that he refused to go to Cleveland because he didn't want to be near my dad. I told him that he wasn't allowed to go to Cleveland with us and that if anything happened to me during my surgery he wasn't allowed at my funeral either.

I cried almost every day in December. I was absolutely miserable. Not because I missed Norris, but because I was aware that I was facing open heart surgery and I had no one to comfort me during it. It was a miserable feeling. I had no clue how I'd make it through surgery without feeling like someone loved me. On December 19th Norris stopped by and we got into a big blow-up. Luckily, my phone died and dad was trying to call and he panicked when he couldn't get through to me, so he called his friend Chris Scott to come over and check on me. Shortly after Chris left Norris did too. I cried so hard that night I thought I was going to die. I was so angry, hurt, upset... I started praying that God would send someone to comfort me because I didn't think I could go through the surgery alone. The very next day dad's friend, Jerry Sword, texted me and asked if he could go to Cleveland with me. Honestly, I thought it was a little weird that he was asking that because he and I have never even met each other. I told him that I didn't expect him to be there, but that if he wanted to be I certainly wouldn't turn him away. I told him if nothing else he could keep dad company while I was in surgery. I thought about the text more and more that night and then the next day I texted him and asked if it would be selfish if I said I did want him there. His response was something along the lines of telling me to go ahead and be selfish. The next night, on December 22, I woke up around 10:10 PM and the left side of my face and my left arm were numb. I couldn't breathe and my heart was racing. Dad contacted my surgeon in Cleveland to see if we could get my surgery scheduled faster. I found out on Thursday, December 23, that the Cleveland Clinic had scheduled my surgery for December 28th. I was supposed to be in Cleveland on December 27 for preoperative testing and my open heart surgery would be first thing in the morning on December 28th. I texted Jerry and told him when the surgery was, but he wasn't able to go to Cleveland with me because of the short notice.

I knew pretty quickly that Jerry was the answer to my prayer. By the 24th, I was completely falling for him. On Christmas day, I went up to Missy & Ed's and met dad there. I felt terrible that day and had difficulty breathing off an on all day. Later that night (around 2:30 AM) I drove myself to Dunn hospital because I could not breathe. Dad, Missy and Ed all came down to the ER with me. I was told that my heart was going into supraventricular tachycardia (fast rhythm) and that I needed a beta blocker. The put me on the beta blocker and sent me home around 9 AM. They thought I may have had a TIA on the 22nd but they didn't want to admit me because they were afraid it would push my surgery back. Missy took me home and sat with me all day to make sure I was OK. She and I left for Bloomington sometime around 4 or 5 PM and we stopped at Wal-Mart in Bedford before we headed North. I made a couple of returns while I was there and bought a John Mayer CD (which had a very special song on it that Jerry had sent me a link to). Missy and I went to Kohl's in Bloomington and ate at Cracker Barrell so I could get some dumplins. I went to Missy's house and she let me use her suitcase and helped me pack for Cleveland. Dad and I left for Cleveland around 9:30 PM and I was having a terrible time breathing. Dad was nervous about traveling with me because I was having such a difficult time getting a breath. Jerry and I talked on the phone for awhile and he and I told each other that we were starting to love each other. Dad and I stopped at a hotel about 30 miles away from the Cleveland Clinic arond 3:30 AM and we left from there around 6 AM. We got to the clinic right on time and then I started my long day of preoperative testing. They wound up admitting me that night because they thought I may have had a TIA (mini stroke) on December 22. On December 28th, the day that I was originally supposed to have my open heart surgery, I had a heart cath (without sedation) and a full neurological workup. The next morning I had open heart surgery. Missy, Ed and Casey all came to Cleveland to be there during my surgery. Jerry and I told each other we loved each other before my surgery and he promised me he would take me to the beach once I was better. :) When I was in ICU the only thing that made me smile was when dad came in to tell me what Jerry had said to him during my surgery.

My surgery went well. They started the incision at 9:33 AM on December 29th, 2010 and the surgeon came out at 12:18 PM to tell dad that he was finished and they were sewing me back up. He told dad that I had made it past the first hurdle. I spent the rest of the day and that night in ICU and was then transfered to the cardiac step down unit the next morning. I was there until the early evening of Monday, January 3. January 2, Dad's 46th Birthday, was a terrible day. I had a horrible reaction to a drug called Reglan. I honestly thought I was going to die that day and so did dad. Fortunately, once they realized that it was a reaction to the drug, they were able to give me some Benadryl to counter the Reglan and I spent the night sleeping. The night I was released from the hospital, Dad and I stayed in a hotel in Cleveland that was just two blocks from the clinic. The next morning we left for Indiana. On the way back to Indiana dad wound up making a wrong turn and we went 150 miles in the wrong direction. Our trip turned into a 12 hour trip, but that was fine because we made it home safely. Upon my arrival home, I noticed that someone had been in my home. Norris broke into my house while I was in Cleveland and took my xbox and some of his stuff. Since then I've found out much, much more information about what Norris was up to while I was in Cleveland. He was lying to a girl and telling her that I was already out of surgery and recovering when I hadn't even had my surgery yet. He told her that so he could get into bed with her. Class act, huh? He and I have a court date on Feb 3 and I am so ready to get this thing finalized. I can't wait.

Jerry is flying in to see me either late Feb 10 or early Feb 11. He'll be spending the weekend with me. I absolutely cannot wait to see him. I am so crazy about him and I just know that our weekend is going to be perfect. He and I are already talking about our future together. In fact, today I was doing some searching online and I found a college that I want to attend once I move to Virginia. :)

Okay, I think that's enough for now...

current mood: happy

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Mon, Apr 9th, 2007


I was confirmed at St. John the Apostle Catholic Church on Saturday, April 7, 2007 (Holy Saturday). Here are the pictures:

Me with my parents:

My dad (in the leather jacket), Joe - my confirmation sponsor - (in the tie), and me:

Fr. Mike & me:

Joe & me:

So...I am now officially a full member of the Catholic Church. It's pretty exciting. April 7 is also the date of the birth of St. Francis Xavier, who was the co-founder of the Jesuit order.

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"Faced with today's problems and disappointments, many people will try to escape from their responsibility. Escape in selfishness, escape in sexual pleasure, escape in drugs, escape in violence, escape in indifference and cynical attitudes. I propose to you the option of love, which is the opposite of escape."



*Favorite Scripture Verses*

Matthew 6:25-27:
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?

Philippians 4:6-7:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

James 5:14-15:
Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.

*Favorite Prayer*

Act of Self Dedication:
Take O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess You have given me: I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace; with these I will be rich enough, and will desire nothing more. Amen