Thursday, August 30, 2012

Today We Sold Our Home

We just signed the final round of papers that will close our home a month from now.

My home, not a house, not an investment piece, not just real estate, my home.

I remember when my husband and I were looking for the perfect place that we would find in a new city we were moving to after living in two different cities all through graduate school.  We were still engaged when we would travel to our newly adopted city the summer before our wedding, looking at home after home, bring my sons from a previous marriage along to test out how kid-friendly it would be for them.

We found the perfect place a month before the wedding.  It was big enough for us to expand a family, which we did with the addition of two little girls.  It had the large front and back yard for our youngest son to run out all that energy.  It had the private, downstairs masters' suite where he and I could, for the first time, live together and have moments of peace.  It was perfect so we bought it, putting money down, signing the papers, and taking pictures.

After the wedding, he and I moved to the house to have it to ourselves while the boys were several states away enjoying their last bit of summer, thankful for the wedding present of time one of our relatives gave us.  My husband and I walked into every room of that home, we prayed over it, we anointed it, we blessed it.

The boys came home and settled in, plenty of room for them to do that.  We put two of the boys together and one had his own room.  My husband, then a professor for a major midwest university and a researcher at another, used the balcony room as his office.  We set up one of the bedrooms as a TV/rec room, neither of us thinking we would need one of those bedrooms a year later for a nursery!

We painted and decorated and settled in, our home, we were the first and only owners of it.  We marveled at the workmanship of the woodwork of our solid wood floors and realized that even our tallest son wouldn't grow tall enough to reach the top of the 10ft ceiling in the great room!

The view was spectacular through the two story window that overlooked our baby tree.  We would sit there at night and look out at the night.  The view was equally marvelous in our eat-in dining room with my morning coffee especially delicious when I looked out the bay windows.  The glass French doors that opened to the back yard gave us many mornings of quiet as all the neighbors then had our backyards connected, creating acre after acre of green space for the neighborhood children to run and play from yard to yard.

I painted dragonflies on the wall after we hired painters for the baby's room and the main part of the house, for our room.  I specialty painted my youngest son's room - four colors - to match a blanket he had.  I created an artspace for all their masterpieces and painted a scene on one of the walls.

We lived in our home.

We did not have family in our new city and were therefore blessed to create family with which we shared Thanksgivings, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year's Day.  We had baby showers and birthday parties, graduation parties, and just plan get togethers. We had over 3000 sq. ft. to live.  We had five bedrooms and all of them were being used.

Our home became a refuge for friends of my son who needed a place to stay.  I became mom to them, all of this in the last year we were there, his senior year.

We walked the floors with sick babies, worried over the teenage angst of our son, chatted about life, laughed, cried, argued, danced, and sang in that house.

I remember the evenings after our family dinner, always at 6:30pm, always together, always at our friendship table we bought a month after buying the house.  I remember the dancing and the keyboard playing, and the fireplace that became the hiding place for Girl Scout Cookies because we never lit it - too many asthmatics in the house.

There were the days we spent leaning over the balcony with a long duster, reaching for the ceiling fan to do the dusting.  The days of mopping and dusting the hardwood floor and shampooing the carpet from the boys' play.  The Saturday morning lawn mowing, Friday morning trash and recycle pick up, the snow shoveling, the school bus that picked them up just one house over from our's.  The neighborhood.

My husband tells me we will have another home again, and we will.  It will just not be our first home.  That one was special to me, to us.

We have been living in our new city for five years now.  Our home sat vacant and alone during that time.  We had to finish moving, hard to put 3000 sq ft. into 1800 sq. ft. We had it repainted and all remnants of us removed to prepare it for selling.  We had new carpet put down and the hardwood floors refurbished.  We hired a landscaper and maintained the lawn and snow removal and anything else to make it look lived in so vandals wouldn't think it was a foreclosure shell waiting to be destroyed.  We maintained the mortgage and utilities and homeowner's dues and taxes and everything else...just didn't live there because my husband's job moved us across the state to the other big city.  We put it on the market and the market crashed, we waited through the economic collapse and the never ending foreclosure notices that drove down the market price.  We marveled that just across the state, in another big city suburb, our home would have sold for $300,000 more than the final price.

This morning, we signed the final papers to sell our home.

I sat here, looked at one of the last pictures we took of it, the outside, the tree we planted, the memories flooding me like the sun that used to flood through the Great Room windows.

There is truly something special about a place that has so many memories and holds a piece of your history.  I hope that the family that moves into it next month will love it as much as I did.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I went for a long drive this morning.

There was a lot on my mind.

I realized that there are some people who exist only to destroy those who are even remotely close to them.  They destroy because of their own addicted issues and self-absorbed lifestyle. They leave emotional destruction in their wake and never bother to say "I'm sorry" when their hurricane is over.

I was driving and looking out at the greenery and realized that years have gone by, years that can not be recovered.  It is funny what a clear sky and open road will give you.  Time to think is precious.

We are living in volatile situations every day.  The election, the news, the unemployment, all have people on edge ready to launch out and attack anyone they deem to be weaker or the cause of their perceived pain.

Hurricane Isaac is wrecking havoc along the Gulf Coast and many of us are cleaning up the debris from hurricanes that touched down in our lives - loss of life, loss of health, loss of income, loss of love, loss, loss, loss. Sometimes too much loss can zap the soul and crush the spirit.

But in the midst of loss, there is hope, a ray of light, a moment when redemption seems possible.

Hold on, the moment will come, the tide will change, and the sun will shine, just take shelter and protect yourself in the storm, clean up the debris after the winds pass, and set out on your rebuilding when the sun comes out tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Enough is Enough!

You cannot rewrite the definition of a thing to suit your agenda, simply because you want more power and greed and think the rest of the nation is too stupid to understand your regressive agenda.

Todd Akin, Congressman from the great State of Missouri, my home state, stuck both his feet so deep in his mouth that he actually told the truth of the Republican Agenda that has been brewing under the surface for the past 20-30 years.

He said "legitimate rape" will not result in a pregnancy because a woman has something in her "body to shut that whole thing down."


They truly believe if a woman was really raped, she would not be pregnant!

Tell that to all the young girls who were raped and molested by a grown man and ended up pregnant.  Tell that to the wives even who were forced into a sexual encounter with their husbands that resulted in a pregnancy that she didn't want.  Tell that to the many woman who have been raped and ended up pregnant and making the agonizing decision to have an abortion.

The GOP, mostly white wealthy men, have been trying to control the wombs of women since the nation was a nation.

They became mindlessly scared when the Year 2000 Census indicated there would be more "people of color" in the country by 2040 and their precious white "race" would be a minority.  They stepped up their religious and political ideology in even greater degree to prevent women from getting abortions (even though wealthy white women have been getting them for decades, even before Roe v. Wade).  The GOP has stepped up their assault against women and minorities (voting suppression, private prison complex, dumbing down the education system, health care debates and denial of equal health care for women) and have increasingly pulled the covers off their tactics as their rhetoric became more and more dangerous.  Even the GOP leaders, including their guru, Karl Rove, had to come out and say that Todd Akin was wrong in his statements.

It all makes me wonder, what is it they really want?  Greed and Power are insatiable twins, nothing will satisfy the bottomless pit.

We experienced the Occupy Movement that was sufficiently shut down by the 1%.

We experienced the more onorous voter suppression, even to the point of Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania publicly admitting that they don't care if more blacks votes and their efforts were to get Romney into office.

None of their actions have been for We The People.  And the People are standing up and taking notice.

President Obama came out immediately and said "Rape is Rape" and reminded a nation that in the midst of the most humiliating thing that can happen to a woman, as well as the most frightening thing, it is not up to a bunch of old, white men to tell her that it is or is not a "legitimate" rape because perhaps she was not a victim of a "forcible" rape.

Enough of these men who claim to want small government stepping further and further inside a woman's body in the name of government to control that woman's body.  Is the the United States or is the Saudi Arabia or Syria or any other "muslim" country that they have had us at war with the for the past 11+ years just so the "citizens" can have the rights we claim to uphold?

What happened to America? All of this because a black man was elected in 2008 and the nation went nuts, well, the white people of the nation went nuts, well, actually, the racist white people of the nation went nuts and some of the normal white people have finally stood up to stay ENOUGH and things like "if you can't say it - vagina - don't legislate it!"

This is not for the good of the country or even the jobs they, the GOP, promised when they swept in on a tide of white fear in 2010.  It is because they want a republican takeover and a throwback to the 1950s they seem to hold as their ideal time (white women did not benefit from affirmative action, black women were "the help", the schools were segregated, black men were considered enemy #1, and white men held all the power).

I hope the other half of the nation, regardless of religious persuasion, class, ethnicity, race, language, or sexual persuasion will stand up to these bullish men like Todd Akin and VP candidate Paul Ryan, and forcibly tell them to get out of our bodies and keep their backwards ideology out of my civil rights!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Confessions of a School Supply Nerd

I must admit, I am a back-to-school nerd.

The new paper, pencils, folders, and crayons all get my inner child happy and giddy.  I vividly remember when the 64 box of Crayola Crayons was a big step in the school supply shopping list, I believe I was in 7th grade when I finally graduated from the little box.

When I was a kid, it was Prang Water Colors, Big Chief Writing Tablets (wrote some of my earliest stories on these), Crayola Crayons, Crayola Color Pencils (for 7th grade!) Bic Pens (for 6th grade, we were big kids then!).  I remember the Cursive Writing Paper required for 3rd grade (some things should still be in the curriculum, like handwriting class!).  I remember picking out our lunch boxes (The Mystery Machine, Scooby Doo for me!) back when they were metal and had the thermos to match (I wish I still had mine!)

I am on my last set of children who have gone through the ritual of choosing their "special folder" and deciding what color binder they should have (they are 3rd and 5th grade, respectively).  I am in the counting down stage of when Target in July and the Mall in August will be my second homes.
My youngest son also got into the back-to-school shopping mode but with a different list.

He is now safely tucked away in his dorm, 5 states and a 12-hour travel day away.

His list included things like Tide Pods and enough Axe deordant to last until Christmas break.  He had to bring his Tux and cufflinks for the Orientation Week Freshman Ball and reluctantly didn't bring all twenty pairs of athletic shoes, deciding that only five would fit into the already overstuffed van.  He had to make the same decisions for his t-shirt collection and shorts, we ended up bring some things back with us.

I think I will always walk the school supply aisle at Target when July rolls around.  I know my son had enough paper and notebooks to last him to his Bachelors of Arts (hey, I went a little overboard back when he was a freshman in high school and filled up his supply drawers to capacity!)

This school-supply-nerd loves the change to late July when all those shiny new pencils and markers take up a huge portion of Target.  I love to look at the kids negotiating with their parents why the $6 safe-like pencil box is a MUST HAVE versus the 98-cents plastic box that is stacked on an endcap.

Glue sticks, packs of 24 pencils, crayons for 25-cents, composition notebooks for 50-cents, filler paper for 25-cents, this teacher-in-heart wants to grab them all!

It is not quite like a shopping addiction, but I do admit to standing there with my daughters, knowing my home cabinet probably already has some, and grabbing a few more of those really cute  composition notebooks. Hey, what can I say, back in my day, the only choice was black and the only rule was WIDE!

I think it is the promise of adventure unfolding, like those new notebooks my daughters are filling with paper, that makes me love the new supplies.  Life, like learning, keeps happening and like July to August, always comes around with the promise that while some things will stay the same, some amazing new happenings are waiting to be explored.

Happy Back-To-School Week!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Celebrating Life's Changes

I can hardly believe that a month ago I was at All-State Jazz with my son.

Just one month, thirty days, and so much has happened.

Life is like that, one day everything seems to be moving along at the slow pace and then suddenly, life is moving along with the lightening speed.

In one month we celebrated his success in his jazz workshop and his little sisters' trip to Kansas City to visit their big brother and his young lady.  We were looking ahead and thinking we still had so much time before we had to pack up the van and drive down to Alabama.

We returned home from our respective trips, thinking how much we did this summer, and how it would be nice to just rest for a minute, when a health crisis hit me like a tsunami.

I ended up in the hospital and had to have emergency surgery on my submandibular gland.  I have never been that sick, so suddenly, in my entire life.  That was an entire three weeks of my life!.

Life is like that, at times, when suddenly things and plans change and you have to either accept the change, realize that you can't do everything, and just let the laundry pile up!

A month later, my son is now safely tucked away at his university, moved into his dorm, and finalizing changes to his schedule.  His classes start on Monday.  It was a whirlwind two days we had to get him packed and make the twelve hour drive, my unexpected illness happened in the three weeks I was supposed to be helping him plan and pack!  Oh well, we were able to jump into action and the van was admittedly a bit haphazard, but we made it safely.

I sat here for a moment and smiled.  My youngest son is on his life journey.  I stepped into his bedroom and didn't start crying, I did that before we left and on the drive down there.  Back home, I could only smile because I raised a son to be a college student.  My husband and I infused him with the best of us and sent him into the world with his wings ready to soar.

The girls decided they didn't want to go into his bedroom.  They miss him already, so do I.

Time does not stand still.  I have to jump into gear for the girls because school starts for them next week.  My oldest daughter told me she still needs to "go shopping." The little sister was jumping up and down with joy that her best friend is in her class.

My heart sings and is overjoyed that all of my children are moving toward their destiny.  The 25 year old down to the 8 year old.

I am celebrating life's changes and that I am here to enjoy them.  Happy Back-to-School.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Redeeming The Evil Triplets

Fear. Power.CONTROL.

The Evil Triplets.

They wreck havoc in homes, communities, cities, and nations.

No one is immune from their grasp, they can be subtle in their charms, casual in their comments, but always, always seeking their own lust.  An endless lust.  Insatiable.

Moments come when they are dormant, seemingly at rest, at peace.


Fear cripples.

Control captures.

Power corrupts.

All of them steal, kill, and destroy.

Yet, there is the possibility, the promise, the pursuit of love, peace, grace, and harmony.

One can look at those things that would make us afraid and realize those things only have the power because we give it to them, they only have control because we relinquish our essence to their taunts, threats, and tantrums.

The evil triplets are like spoiled children, they want your attention, if you deny them the attention they crave, they wreck havoc to get it, even if they destroy themselves int he process. But that is what they want.

In reclaiming your personal harmony, you can center in and know that your spirit is greater than that thing that wants to destroy your soul.  You are greater.

Yoga, walking, running, or simply sitting outside on a cool summer morning sipping coffee are all things that can reclaim and renew the spirit, calm the soul, and restore the peace.



Life is too precious.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Great Invasion of Summer 2012

I live in the woods.

My almost 1900 square foot townhouse is actually built into the mountains. My entire lower level is actually underground.

I have a view of the most amazing trees, even with this drought, I can look out my wall of balcony windows and see the sun peaking through the tree tops, hear and see the birds chirping, watch the squirrel race and play.

The woods in this suburb are my home.  Beautiful. Peaceful. Serene.

And invaded!

It is a little cooler right now than it was a month ago when THE INVASION started.

One hot, hot July afternoon, the kids and I had just returned home and were chatting away about what quick thing we could make for dinner.  We came up stairs to our open floor plan living space, when suddenly, something raced along the all and jetted under the stove.  I dropped my packages and practically did a back tackle on my son.

"What was THAT??!!"

"I think it was a mouse," replied my son, through spurts of doubled over laughter because of my reaction.

"Don't kill it!" screamed my environmentalist daughter who has been begging for a "pet" for two years.

"Where did it go?" inquired my youngest and practical daughter.

"Ok, that's it, I'm so done, we are not eating here today.  MAINTENANCE!" I screamed, grabbed my computer, put in an order for our maintenance crew to come and get rid of this uninvited guest, one of the perks of living in this townhouse community is an on-site staff, well, they are going to earn their keep today.

The young exterminator came and pulled out the stove, put the traps in a little box and placed one there and one behind the refrigerator, all while blowing out my electricity at it.  "This should do it, ma'am. Mice are curious, they will come here and oh, they probably crawled up this hole right here behind your stove."

"They? What do you mean, they?" I was undone, and without electricity for the day until the electrician could come later that day to restore the power that this young upstart blew out.  It was during those 105-degree St. Louis heat waves, the high heat-index, and we had NO AIR.

Clearly not happy that a little mouse decided to take up residence in my townhouse.

The electrician/maintenance guy came and sealed up the hole.  "You probably have more."  He proceeded to look for holes inside and outside, using some kind of sealant that looked like goopy play dough in a can.  "They can't chew through this and if they try, it will just kill them because it tastes nasty."

"Oh, ok," I replied, still completely grossed out and thinking I need to throw away everything in my house. I  didn't, just sterilized it and glad that there were no "signs" of them in my cubbards.

A week passed, the exterminator came back, and picked up the mouse trap behind the refrigerator.

"Ma'am, we got 'em, there are two in here." He leaves another trap and tells me that actually, they have been "racing between the six of you."  He motioned up and down the street where our townhouses are connected.

The next day, again, a super hot day, I see a little mouse peak it's head out of a hole in the concrete outside my townhouse.  I was standing on the patio, about the get the mail when it peaked it's head out, went back in, and decided to take it's first tentative steps out into the world.  I grabbed a brick, the first thing I could see outside and waited.

It was about to race from my townhouse patio to the neighbor's townhouse patio when I dropped the brick on it.

I know, environmentalists are going to say that was cruel and unusual punishment for the tiny little thing, it was barely two inches.  I say, it never should have come into my house.

Again, I called the maintenance crew and made them come and seal up this forgotten outside hole and then we walked all six townhouses and he said, "oh, there are holes here, and here, and here." He had his spray goop in his hands.

I lived in Michigan, I lived in Iowa, I lived near Kansas, and I live in Missouri.  I expect to see a mouse in the dead of winter, having seen one while in grad school, again in a townhouse, and my sons on the race to get rid of the invader.  I expect that in the deep cold winter in the woods that perhaps it wants to take shelter in my garage or something, ok, I get that.  The mansions on Agronne have mice, the White House has mice, the little critters can squish themselves through a hole the size of a pencil, they are non discriminatory and no matter how much you clean and clean, they still decide that your house is just cozy enough to live in.

Well, I'm not having it.

The cute little story of The Library Mouse and If You Give A Mouse A Cookie were great to read to my children and each illustration showed little mouse holes where the curious little critters burrowed.

In a story, fine, in the woods fine, in the field, fine...BUT.NOT.IN.MY.HOUSE.

My kids think it is funny and actually, I haven't seen one since that day.  It was a pregnant mouse looking for a nest to drop her litter, now the litter has had a summer playground exploring the hidden places that connect townhouse-to-townhouse.

School is about to start, my son is about to go off to college, and I won't have a resident mouse catcher anymore.

The maintenance crew is great, another perk of these condo/townhouse places with on-site staff.  I call and so do my neighbors.  I just saw the exterminator truck go down my street.  They are on the mission to calm the squeals, screams, and squimishness of my neighbors and I, well, except for the dad to my left who calmly told his kids, "it is more scared of you than you are of it," and went back inside, leaving the kids playing on the balcony and peaking at the little hole.  That's easy for you to say, I thought to myself, he is a guy, he is big enough to just step on it.

It is the winding days of summer, my kids stretching out their last bit of summer break, my son leaving for college in two days.  Perhaps the little mouse is trying to tell us something.

I live in the woods.  I am surrounded by trees.  I hear the birds chirping outside my balcony windows.  I do not hear cars or have the noise of crowds.  I see the squirrel playing on the trees.  I see the sun peaking through a clear blue sky.  My home is built on a mountain, my entire lower level is inside the mountain, it is part of what gives this area such eye appeal, all the townhouses are built up and up into the mountains.  All of us have trees and trees outside our windows.

Perhaps the little invader is trying to tell me something.  Just as I think that they have invaded my space, perhaps I have invaded their's.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Olympics in Black and White

I love the Olympics.

I have loved the Olympics since I vividly remember watching Nadia Comenichi in the gymnastics competition in 1976 score Perfect 10s.

The pagentry of the Opening Ceremonies, each with the country twist.  The Parade of Nations reminding us of this big world and that we are only a small part of it.  The colors and costumes.

People in every shade imaginable from the whitest Swede to the blackest Kenyan.  The world in full view.

It was this love that brought me once again to my two favorite sports to watch, the gymnastics competition and the track and field competition.

Little Gabby Douglas.  Just 16 years old.  Truly a flying phoneme, a princess. A girl any mother would want as a daughter, an athlete any coach would move mountains to train.  An Olympian.

This girl barely got any press before the games, her color the darker end of the American color spectrum.  She didn't look like the other gymnasts, though, clearly better, having won Gold in the All Around.  Better than the "media darling" that was hyped and barely made the team,  Gabby, the only black girl on the team.

Then Lolo Jones, a self-promoted, 100m hurdler.  A self-proclaimed virgin.  "Exotic" as the media dubed her because of her bi-racial heritage that gave her the "luck" of the gene pool to barely have any of her black heritage evident.  She received much in interviews, press, coverage.  She, too, barely made the team.

Dawn Harper, a 100m hurdler from East St. Louis.  An athlete any coach would want to train, she, already a Gold Medalist from the 2008 China games.  No press coverage.  She, a darker hue of chocolate, clearly wearing her proud black heritage.

Each of these women had family that sacrificed for their training, some working three jobs like Gabby's mom, some with an ex-husband in prison and the family in a shelter like Lolo's mom, some from the racially segregated St. Louis metro area, the hardscrabble east side in Illinois where getting out is barely possible.  Each of these women, along with the thousands of others who came to London had a story of injury, sacrifice, fear, determination, blows to their confidence, and family issues.  They each had life.

What made it different?

The media. Plain and simple.

We are in a precarious time in our nation, an election year, a white super wealthy candidate running against a black (bi-racial) President who has been obstructed from day one.  The racial divide that to rival the Civil Rights Era.

And the media wanted a great white hope, someone to please the "American people" in their eyes.  The gymnast they hyped, failed, the hurdler they hyped, failed.

So then they attacked the black girls.  Gabby's hair wasn't "European enough" and that was from misguided black women.  Gabby's mom had to file Chapter 13 to save her home so Gabby could continue to train over 1000 miles away.  Gabby's parents were divorcing, they kept filing story after story, WHILE THIS LITTLE GIRL WAS STILL PREPARING FOR TWO MORE COMPETITIONS.  She is a child, barely 16, and the pressure was too much. She did not win a medal on her signature apparatus, the uneven bars.  She fell off the balance beam.

Lolo Jones walked away when she came in fourth.  She didn't congratulate her countrymen, fellow black women, who each medaled in the event.  She was self-promoting while she was in London when she should have been training, and it showed. She lost.

Will the track stars like Sanya Richards-Ross who barely got a mention, and oh, by the way, is bringing home not one but two medals for her country, get any press? Or what about the other darker skinned black track star who had twin boys and her husband there? Also a winner.

I do not like the way the color lines were drawn, further exposing the ugliness of American race and colorism.

Cuba had a beautiful, deeply black female athlete competing in the long jump.  She was Cuban and celebrated with her countrywomen.  Nothing about her race.  The same for the multi-hued Dominicans, and they are known for some of their skin color issues, none of them walked off the field, they all supported each other.

We, who sit at home, me, in the bed recovering from surgery, could not do what these elite athletes did.  The twitter banter about hair and personal issues were distracting and taking away from the games of peace.

I did not like the commentary of Bob Costas, playing to what he thought was just a white audience.  We are Americans, we were celebrating for all the sports featuring our countrymen, regardless of color, why couldn't the media do that? Why did they have to divide and conquer, the age old strategy the slaveholders used to control during chattal slavery?

In the end, the athletes will go home.  Frustrated Americans will find something else to complain about.  Lolo Jones will use her looks to gain exposure another way, perhaps that coveted date she wants with Tim Tebow.  Dawn Harper will enter the region hall of fame like fellow medalist from East St. Louis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee. She will inspire more young women.  Lolo will also inspire more young women, hopefully to not use their "sex-appeal" to mask what is lacking in person, preparation, and performance.  Gabby will recover and celebrate her two gold medals and $90MM endorsement deals.  We will see her older, wiser, stronger, and still flying in 2016 in Rio.

It is 2012.  I had hoped the colors of the world would be celebrated, not used as a tool to measure worth and "appeal."  

Seven Days x Seven Days x Seven Days

It is funny how something can suddenly happen to completely and totally change your plans.

This happened to me.

Seven days ago, I was in the hospital waging a battle for my health, my life.  I was stricken suddenly with a microbial bacteria in my salivary glands that made it swell the size of a softball.  I had a raging fever and a heart rate in the danger zone.

Seven days prior to that I did something I hadn't done in five years. I went to a primary care doctor to have a routine physical. We moved from one city to another and with the busy life of a mom juggling a daughter with five illnesses, routine just didn't fit into the routine.  This visit to this wonderful doctor changed my life, she diagnosed me with bronchitis, that persistent cough that I thought was a remnant from trip to New York.  More importantly, she established care.

Five days after my visit to her, bronchitis making me gasp for air as if I were an Olympic diver stuck at the bottom of the pool, my lymph node under my chin decided to swell to the size of a softball, suddenly, violently red.  I called her as soon as Monday morning kissed me hello.

'I do not like the look of this.  I am referring you to a specialist, he can't get you in today.  You will see him in the morning."

She sent me home on antibiotics, ibuprofen for the pain, and instructions to rest until morning, call her in 10 days after the antibiotic runs its course.

The next day could not come fast enough.

My husband had already left for a business trip on MOnday morning, my teenager son out-of-town having his last hurrah with his big brothers before college, me home alone with my two daughters, my ever-present nurses.

I drove my self to the specialist and one look and he quickly tried to mask his concern so as not to scare the girls.  "I am direct admitting you to the hospital.  That is almost cutting off your airways, I need you to get the girls settled and get to the hospital." I obeyed.

The drive home, thought the heat was from St.Louis summer, not the battle raging in my neck, seemed as if it was a blur, my girls reassuring me and trying to text their daddy that "mommy is really sick."

We quickly packed our bags.  I needed someone to come get the girls, and it seemed as if suddenly, everyone was gone, literally, all my friends, my family, I couldn't find anyone for that agonizing forty minutes it took to get packed and downstairs.  Finally, I reached my surrogate, adopted daughter.

Mama, I will be right there and take the girls wherever you need.

When she saw me, she gasped.  The girls hugged me and off I went.

Praying the entire way to the hospital, not thinking I was as sick as I was.

My paperwork was already in the system waiting for me. Everyone at the hospital was attentive, personable, friendly, helpful, and efficient.

The team sprung into action, checking me in, inputting my history into the system, my wristband barcoded and QR coded with everything that will happen to me.  I am put on IV fluids and steroids and morphine and antiobiotics.  My heart rate was over 122, my body was raging in this fight.

I love my surgeon.  He ordered a CAT-scan to show what was happening with that I thought was just a swollen salivary gland, lymph node.  He quickly diagnosed the problem and aggressively started preparing me for surgery.


My husband and sons were out-of-town.  My friends were now in action, getting food ready for when the kids would return home in another day.  My husband across the country.

Inside my body, an epic battle was raging like a blockbuster movie waiting for the big screen.  One tiny, unexpected, little, teeny microbial bacteria invaded a healthy system.  I'm a non-smoking, non-drinking, vegetarian!  I eat plenty of raw fruits and vegetables, avoid chips, cookies, and high fructose soda.  All my organs, the big guys, were at war with this little bitty thing that threw the entire system in hand-to-hand combat.

It is major.

Once my body was ready for surgery and the doctor worked his magic, my body started to heel, still so full of medicines, my levels starting to be normalized.

He said we are going to give your body the time it needs, not in a hurry.  I stayed in the hospital another two days, allowing my body to heal, thankful for the time to do it.

I came home on the day of my wedding anniversary, alive to see it for yet another year.

My friends made soup, vegetable soup, that started to make me feel again.  And rest, harder to say than to do, I have a kid ready for college in one week!

Seven days, that is all it takes to turn your world upside down.

Seven days, that is all it takes to make you realize that dirty laundry can wait.

Seven days, that is all it takes to know that EVERYONE should have excellent health care.

Seven days, that is all it takes.

Seven days, that is all it takes.

Seven days.

Life can change in seven days.