Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Two Years too Long

Today marks two years since Tim's death. There are no words to describe how much it still hurts to miss him and how desperate I feel to have him back. It's not an exaggeration to say that I still think of him multiple times every single day. Recently I started struggling more than usual and went back to the doctor where I was diagnosed with Severe Clinical Depression along with the ADHD, the PTSD and anxiety/sleep issues I've had already. They are working to regulate medications for me now to get the right one and the right dosage. It puts me in drastic ups where everything is numb to the point that nothing phases me, I'm never happy or excited but I also don't have the downs, I also get the drastic downs where I literally cannot get out of bed or off of my couch, where I can sleep up to 22 hours in a day and still be completely wiped of energy. The back & forth is frustrating but they are trying hard to help.

I've been trying to stay as busy as I can, Im still working for LifeHME doing medical equipment sales and I work for some friends at their bar in Augusta Rd, the 05, some nights and most weekends. In between all of that I'm currently demoing my guest bathroom down to the studs and will be having that rebuilt back up. I also was a celebrity chef for the Cancer Survivors Park event, called CHOP! Cancer and recently did my first public speaking event on their behalf. I cried my whole way though it so hopefully they understood at least a little of what was said...

Most days I'm still in a rough place as I'm still trying to process all that happened and the tremendous loss of Tim. Many times it still doesn't feel like reality and I struggle to ask for the help that I need when I need it. I've processed through a little of the grief and am doing much better than I was even a year ago but I have such a long way left to go. I can't imagine ever reaching a point that I'm at peace with it. I still have to fall asleep with the TV or some kind of music on, it's the only way to quiet my brain just enough

The dogs keep me pretty busy. I got Maddy for my 21st birthday and when Tim & I started dating almost 2 yrs later they initially despised each other. Later the two of them would be sitting on our couch and if I joined both glared at me for interrupting them. They worshipped one another and it was not unusual for me to get out of bed in the morning & come back to find my spot replaced by her (tucked in by Tim of course). Tim actually had the guts one morning to tell me that if I wanted to keep sleeping to go to the couch bc they were comfortable. He never made that particular mistake again but I was the third wheel of our marriage and he did state that if it came to a decision of which of us to save in a fire that'd he'd choose her bc I "could figure it out". Her diva behavior has not lessened over the past two years but she is getting a run for her money with our newest addition. Max is the devil incarnate most days but he's so sweet and cuddly that you can't stay mad for long. Thus far he has eaten a tree, 2 hoses, a screen door, a gate, a few blankets, an expensive pair of shoes and various other random objects and has completely dug up my backyard. He has begun to make strides in killing off the wisteria root system but I've given up on owning anything nice for awhile. But he always seems to know when I need someone and curls right up to me every time.

I'm still living day to day, sometimes hour to hour, just working to survive the grief, hopefully one day I'll overcome it. I'm lucky in the incredible number of friends & family constantly offering their support. I have 2 great sets of parents and 4 amazing siblings but best of all 5 of the sweetest nieces & nephew there Ever were. I'm still stopped by people sometimes asking if I'm Jenny Bright, Tim's wife, & they tell me how his story has been such an inspiration to them. I'm so proud to know that his work and legacy continue on as ultimately my goal has been that no one ever forgets who he was, what he did and what he went through. For if those things remain in people's memories & the stories are shared to others, he will live on forever.











Friday, June 17, 2016

Updates

It's been awhile since I last posted but I'm staying incredibly busy. I'm enjoying my job with LifeHME doing medical equipment sales and meeting a lot of really great people through it. It feels good to be able to help others going through some of their most difficult parts of life. My friends, Elizabeth and Heather, also opened a second bar called The 05 on Augusta St. and I've been working there most weekends. I know a vast majority of people that come in, the other employees are a lot of fun to hang out with and as exhausted as I am I love it being able to socialize all weekend. :)

I'm about to start renovations again, apparently the tiles in my guest bath were attached directly to the wall so it has completely rotted and they are falling off. Of course the tiles are 1/4" bigger than any they make now and they don't make that color anymore so the project has evolved to completely gutting and redoing that bathroom.



I also adopted a rescue dog. He's a mix of a lab and who knows what else, weights about 42 pounds and growing rapidly, thinks he's a lapdog (literally crawls into everyone's lap that he can) and is the cutest ball of about 9 months old trouble there is. Thus far he's eaten a pair of (fairly expensive & fairly new) shoes, a doormat, numerous toys of his & has attempted to eat a set of patio furniture and a wooden post outside. He LOVES Maddy though and she has gotten a bit of her spark back finally with him being around. He's a typical puppy but very well behaved other than the chewing and I think he will be pretty trainable.


Maddy is doing great, she's still her sweet and spoiled self & is having a great time directing Max and chasing him around.


Riverside Baseball recently did an amazing tribute to Tim and two other former players that passed away at a young age. It was a beautiful night in which they recognized each player and their stories along with their families, dedicated plaques to them behind home plate, put their numbers on the press box and moving forward all players will wear a patch on their sleeve saying "Tradition Never Graduates" with the guy's numbers. They also got jerseys with each of the guys' names and numbers framed for the families. So much kindness and thought was put into the evening and it was so special to be able to be a part and even more to know that Tim will be a permanent part of one of the programs that meant so much to him.





A friend and I also got all of our hair chopped off and donated it to a program similar to Locks of Love. I went super blonde at the same time so I guess you could say there has been a little change going on around here recently.


Other than all of that I've just been enjoying spending time with friends & trying to get up to my parents' place in NC every once in awhile!




Monday, April 4, 2016

18 Months

Today marks 18 months since Tim's death. It's hard to comprehend sometimes that so much time has passed. I keep referring to "last year" in reference to events with Tim. In reality in less than a week it will be the second time our wedding anniversary has passed without Tim around to celebrate it with me.

I still have some really hard days but they are finally spacing out a bit. I'm starting to catch on a bit more with work and am staying busy with it and some of the volunteer opportunities I've discovered because of it. I've also discovered that the one time I don't think so much is when my hands and mind are busy, with the warmer weather I've been capitalizing on that and have been doing lots of yardwork and projects around my house. I injured myself yesterday with what was supposed to be a simple project of moving some bushes and spreading some soil. I found that my crawlspace vents were (poorly) glued in and had begun to fall out, when pulling them out the rest of the way I found some wires hanging in the crawlspace unattached to anything on one end. We had the house rewired so I went into the crawlspace to see if I could see new wires in the same area which would indicate these could be cut off and pulled out. After winding my way over and under various ducts and pipes I also found that a lot of my insulation has fallen out and started pushing that out of the vent holes. At one point I looked up and to my right and in the darkness I saw two eyes looking back at me. I've never moved so quickly as I did at that moment diving back over and under the various obstacles on my way out. I paid for it last night and all day today, looks like the animal got itself back out of the crawlspace sometime over the night and I will be hiring out the removal and replacement of the remaining insulation after discovering my most recent roommate.

Otherwise my life has been pretty boring as of late, I'm slowly starting to decrease my medications and am still seeing my therapist on a regular basis. I've also added in acupuncture again and it really helps to stabilize and center me. As much as I hate to admit it at times, life is slowly but surely moving forward. I know I've made big strides in my recovery even in just the past year but I do still have quite a ways to go and in many ways will never be the same. I'm much more reserved in some ways, less burdened and fearful in others but an innocence and sense of invincibility have been taken from me that I will never be able to recover from. I live with the constant fear of losing someone else close to me but I'm learning to depend upon myself. I don't think I'll ever like living life alone but it isn't as scary of a prospect as it once was.

For now my reality stands that I have yet to make it through a full week without falling apart better than the every day it once was. I still miss Tim, grieve for him every single day but no longer fantasize about what could have been. It hurts too much to imagine what our lives could be now. I'm just starting to dream again for the first time in a very very long time. I have yet to dream of him but I still hold out hope that it may one day happen. Losing Tim has broken me similarly to that of a shattered vase. You can glue it all back together but all of the pieces will never fit just right, a few tiny chips will always be missing from the whole and it loses a lot of its luster, plus it just takes a really long time to try to figure out where all of the dang pieces go and broken glass always seems to slice you up no matter how careful you are...

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Cancer Survivors Park Alliance Article

I got a message a few weeks back asking if I would be interested in being featured in the 52 week series in the Greenville News called the Sunday Survivor Series. I'd seen a few examples via the Chop Cancer event my sister and I attended with the Edenfields last fall and agreed right away. I do not like having my picture taken but Mark Kirby made it easy (i.e. kept me distracted) and kept me laughing with his stories or just talking in depth about his loss of his mom to cancer and my loss of Tim. The afternoon flew by and shortly after I got to reconnect to my old friend Emily, who also lost her mom to cancer unfortunately. From Mark & I's afternoon session and Emily & I's discussion the two of them created this piece about my experience of becoming a "cancer survivor."

The article may be read in it's entirety here: http://www.cancersurvivorspark.org/survivor-series.php




Saturday, January 2, 2016

My Breaking Point

Last year between the shock, the medication I took just to make it through each day and the general upheaval of my life I can only remember bits and pieces, like a record that just keeps skipping I have huge blank spots in my memory. It's disturbing and although I understand it's been my mind's way of protecting me it kind of scares me a bit. I think the first fluid memories I have are from the beginning of February of last year. 

Because of that even though 2015 was my second holiday season without Tim it really felt like my first. I've learned over the past year that the best approach for me is to just treat "special" days as just another day and live through it. Maybe someday I'll want to celebrate events and holidays again but I considered putting up a tree this year as a success (even though I spent hours trying to get the center section to light up only to find I hadn't plugged it in as I pulled it down). Being surrounded by family and especially the kids makes it better but although the only place I want to be at the end of those days is at home and in my own bed it's incredibly lonely. 

January has been a really busy month, I'm finally starting to somewhat get my feet under me at work (although I still feel completely unsure most days) and I've had a packed schedule. Through work I'm meeting all kinds of amazing people who likely have no idea of what a blessing they are in my life. I feel really lucky to have the opportunity to work and interact with so many kind people. I've also finally gotten a little bit of my OCD back and am getting better organized which helps me to focus more.

I also decided that this year I was going to work on all of the little nagging things here at the house that need to be done but I've put off for one reason or another. So far I'm making pretty good headway and have only slightly electrocuted myself twice. I'm kidding, kind of.

I dont know if it's the continued therapy I go to on a weekly basis, the new focus I'm forcing upon myself this year or a combination of those along with time but midway through this month I've felt slightly less of the sensation of constantly being in a fog. 

That small slice of clarity brought me to a pretty sobering realization. Although I've done fun things that I've enjoyed this past year and been with people I care deeply about I haven't felt happy or joy since prior to losing Tim. I was placed on an anti-depressant during the middle of last year to combat the constant anxiety I was having along with the PTSD I was diagnosed with. It's hard to comprehend looking back but although I guess somewhere deep inside I knew he was dying and it's clear to me now in hindsight but until we were told there was nothing else that could be done I was sure he would get better. An hour after we got the news he was in a coma and an hour past that he was gone. I was basically in shock for so long that when reality finally started to hit me it was more than I could handle. The medicines have helped tremendously along with my amazing therapist but the physical effects of the last year have finally piled up to the point I can no longer ignore them.

I've been doing the bare minimum to care for myself for awhile but towards the end of last year I decided to start cleaning up my act (I.e. no more brownies for breakfast...). I started watching my calorie intake, being more active and working out a little. All the things I've done before to lose weight and become healthier. This time it did the opposite, I gained weight even while eating pretty clean. To the tune of an additional 50lbs since July. My doctor did bloodwork and everything was great except my cholesterol which jumped way up. He instructed me to become really restrictive with my caloric intake and see what happens so I started that at the beginning of January along with continuing to be even more active. At this point my body should be dropping the weight fairly quickly but is not wanting to play along so I believe the next step will be some additional testing to see what's going on. I've been warned already that all of this could be the result of the extremes my body was put through over the past year and a half and the "cure" may just be time as it finds its way back to some sort of balance. In the meantime I've had a range of lovely issues from my friend insomnia who has decided it wants to pop up every now and again to being absolutely dead tired by late afternoon no matter how much sleep I've gotten. I won't bog this down with the whole list of my ailments but let's just say that my list may beat that of my 87yo Grandma.

All of this has finally pushed me over the edge. I'm tired of feeling like crap all of the time, tired of my body's rebellion and have come to the realization that as boring & tough to stick to at times as the strict diet I kept myself and Tim on was the best I felt. It was the most stress either of had ever dealt with between a mortgage, around $20-25,000 of medical bills yearly, being at the beginning of both of our careers and Tim having limited abilities to work while still trying to enjoy being "normal" with our friends but yet both of us were rarely sick (even with LOTS of chemo for him) and we weren't exactly by the book on protecting ourselves from contact with sick people. 

With that I booked myself back to acupuncture, she got me off of my anxiety medication before and I have no doubt she can't help me again. I've been seeing a physical therapist to finally get my wrist back in order after the surgery on it last year (let's just say I used playing Candy Crush as a way to calm my mind in the hospital and I overplayed it to the point I injured my wrist, it has since been deleted), he thinks I'm about 5 weeks away from be cleared and back to normal. My friend Liz dragged me to a workout class tonight with promises of Biofreeze after (it's like a suped up IcyHot). The class was great, the instructor incredibly kind but the hollow Biofreeze promise was ditched by some excuse to pick up her kid (who has won all the brownie points by telling his Grandma that his "mom & Mrs. Jenny were going to the bar" vs. Barre gym). ;) I'm going to continue the exercising I've been doing but going to add in that as well moving forward. Next steps are to start addressing and determining what's happening with my body to find out if we're moving in the right direction to help it find its balance or the wrong, to slowly start weaning off of my medications (or at least some) & to start enforcing the same rules upon myself that Tim & I lived with so its back to local, non-processed, no additives I go. I'm really going to miss the low grocery bills of 2015.

So essentially 2016 is about slowly starting to fix myself through being a better employee, a better friend, a better person and actually taking care of myself again. I'm hoping by doing those things that maybe someday I can truly feel happy again.

In other news my debit card was stolen a few weeks ago and apparently they also decided to better themself for the new year as they racked up purchases from McDonalds, Walmart, Cicis pizza, a shoe store and clothing store to the tune of over $1,500. My bank was great about it and caught it early enough that the money wasn't sent to the stores and there is a detective pulling various surveillance tapes and believes there is actually a possibility of catching this guy so that's good news.

There was a man named Chandler Beacham that has a few years on Tim in the chemo department and helped us as we began that world. He and his wife Becky became great friends but unfortunately he passed away just a few short months before Tim. A girl named Lindsey Motley and her husband Jay came after Tim was an old regular, she was diagnosed with colon cancer while pregnant and I remember the fear they both wore on their faces as they sat across from Tim & I their first time in infusions as she was still pregnant. Before they had come back Lynn had mentioned there was a new couple and asked Tim to give Lindsey some hints and insight in a similar manner to which Chan did for him. Who knows what that crazy guy said as I don't remember but I hope it helped calm them a little as Chan did for us Tim's first day. Regardless she's recently received news of additional mets and they are hoping to find a trial for her to enter, it's unsaid by them but I'm sure they are not only hopeful for a qualifying trial but for THE trial. The one that is the key to whatever her cancer needs to be defeated. 

I've been asked multiple times as to what to say in bad or tough situations as though somehow I may know after living through it. I know now more of what not to say then what actually to say. I know what little terms or phrases used defeated me but I also know that each person's journey is different and what they need to hear/can't stand to hear varies. In that I just ask that you pray for Lindsey & Jay's friends & family to be able to know what it is they need to hear even if they can't necessarily pinpoint what it is themselves. Pray for Lindsey & Jay as they face the scary decisions as they look for where to go next. Sometimes you can use all the logic in the world to look at treatment options and each still feels like you're choosing blindly. Pray for them to get a strong gut feeling about what direction to take and confidence in their decisions. Pray for strength for both of them that the energy of so many others can help buoy them during this process. Lindsey (& ergo Jay) haven't had a moment of stability recently to give them time to regain strength so most of all pray for them to regain that strength and have that stability bc in the world of cancer stability is such a precious commodity.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Hanging onto Hope

I'm finally on a regular (& normal) sleep schedule. It's taken over a year but has finally happened. I'm also finally dreaming again, they've ranged from weird crazy dreams reflecting current and past events in my life to reliving that final day with Tim. Over and over and over again. Most nights I've woken myself up with a loud scream and shooting up in bed drenched in sweat. The strange thing is typically after that happens I fall right back asleep and am peacefully out for the remainder of the night. It's a little creepy but at the same time I'm just so relieved to be able to see Tim's face and hear his voice again that I don't mind it as much as much as I should.

I took time away from going to my therapist for awhile just because I didn't feel like facing the enormity of how much this all still effects me day after day. That was not the smartest move I've made. I've struggled a lot recently and its come as a shock as I guess I thought the year anniversary of Tims death would be some sort of switch indicating that the worst was over and I had crossed the finish line of grief. It's actually been worse since then. It seems the only switch that flipped was the one in which the fantasy world in my head where Tim was surely going to come walking through the door sometime and I could just save up all of the things I've noted and been wanting to tell him for that moment ended. Reality has finally hit me that he truly is never coming back. It's something that you rationally know but can't seem to wrap your head around so you just stay in a constant state of denial that he's just on a trip or just out of touch. Reality really sucks when it hits.

I finally did head back to see my therapist last Friday and she helped me to kind of understand that I've finally gotten through the denial stage and am now "at the bottom of the pendulum". At least when you finally hit bottom there is nowhere to go but up right? She also told me that apparently I'm one of the more severe cases of grief she's seen. I'm torn between that being a badge of honor for how much Tim and I loved each other or adding it to the list of the curve balls life seems to keep tossing my way when I could really use a nice easy pitch. 

I struggle with having to frequently remind myself that Tim didn't choose to abandon me but it's hard to keep that perspective. I keep feeling like he's out there living his life with someone else and have to remind myself that he didn't leave me. It's so strange but I guess I just want to have a reason to be mad at him for not being here anymore instead of being mad at him for not being here and immediately feeling guilty because I know he would be if he could.

I'm torn over my house, it's started to feel like home (except for the mice that moved into the attic above my bed) but is also a solid constant reminder of everything that the last year has been. Right now that's a bad thing, I'm hoping that as I work my way through all of this that it becomes more of a symbol of how these events have molded me into a different person. I replaced all of Tim and My bedding a month or so ago and now my bed finally feels like it's mine versus being a constant reminder of us. I'm working on that balance now, figuring out what to replace to start a new life with fewer constant reminders that just reopen all of the wounds and what to keep as sweet memories of what once was. I guess it's representative of me trying to figure out who I am now. Considering how hard both of us are on things I've been having to replace a lot of items as they break. A set of sheets we got for our wedding ripped into shreds as I leaned up to watch TV one night leading to the idea of just replacing everything.

Over the past year I've lost interest in things I once loved, I've gained respect for things I once despised (I.e. Tims music and fantasy football) & I don't recognize the girl I see in photos from "before". My memories no longer feel as though they were my own experiences but more of a movie I watched, just surreal. I don't know what I want out of life any longer and I don't have a clue as to who I am but I've finally started to get a little clarity. Where I once thought I was done with supporting cancer fundraising, it's becoming more of a passion but in a different manner than before, one in which I'm more actively involved. I'm reaching out slowly to find out where else I want to volunteer and what matters to me. I've found that giving pieces of myself helps to make me feel whole again.

Mostly these days I'm in a constant state of exhaustion no matter how much sleep I get. Tired of fighting for every step I take forward, tired of being ok, tired of feeling lost and alone, of no longer having the connection with anyone that I did with Tim and tired of figuring it all out alone. Irregardless I have a support system that most could only dream of and through them I find the strength to drag myself out of bed every morning, to keep putting one foot in front of the other no matter how much I don't want to and to keep trying to get back to the person that Tim fell in love with, a little more hardened and banged up but also with greater understanding of just how precious each day is.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Post Anniversary

Go figure that the one year anniversary of Losing Tim was the same weekend as Joaquin. I will say it was a good distraction as I watched all the news reports rolling in about what was going on. My company headquarters is in Cokumbia (& was luckily spared) but it also gave me a sense of purpose on Monday to try to see how I could help alleviate some of the responsibility from my coworkers and help. 

It's been hard, I try to keep myself distracted and not to think about what I've lost but it haunts me. I didn't just lose my husband/soulmate/best friend/etc... But I missed almost 5 years of being somewhat carefree, the potential of having a family and being a mom, having some to do life with. I'm grieving a lot of those losses as much as I'm grieving Tim at times. Not long after losing Tim I received something called a mantra bracelet that stated "be still and know." It's become my life mantra and a phras I repeat over and over to myself when I am falling apart or having a hard day.

That being said, sometimes it's hard for me now to use some of the best overdramatic expressions I used to (I.e. I'm dying, this is the worst day of my life, etc.) I start to but catch myself as they just sound so trivial and callous now that I have seen someone die and I have lived through the worst day of my life. I don't get phased by the rough stuff as much as I used to and I still get annoyed by trivial things but now I truly understand what is worthwhile and really important in life. I was thinking of what I would save if I had to leave my house in a hurry (it's an exercise I've done before at night to distract my anxiety at night). Before my concern would always be that Tim & I wouldn't have enough room in our cars for all of the things we'd "have" to save. Now I think I'd have extra room as so long as I had Maddy, important paperwork and my pillow (you'd understand if you slept in my bed) I'd be just fine.

Some portion of my life feels surreal and like a dream. I can't decide if it's the part I'm living now or the part from before. I see pictures of myself from "before" and then don't know who that girl is. I can't imagine living without the understanding of how bad life can be like I know now. It makes me feel as though I'm al let two completely separate people.

My body is still struggling, I've finally mostly gotten my sleeping under control but Friday was put on a regime of antibiotics for a minor infection I had. I started feeling worse Saturday evening and my mom took me to existent care. I was sure I had gotten a full blown case of the flu on top of this other infection. Apparently I was allergic to the antibiotics I was getting so today I've been loading up on fluids trying to flush that one out of my system and let the other kick in. I also screwed up a tooth and had to go to the dentist this morning to get that fixed up. Some of my pain has finally subsided as of this evening and I'm finally starting to feel a little better. I'm hopeful that the high dosage of antibiotics should keep me somewhat healthy at least for a few weeks.

My girlfriends have been absolutely incredible through the past few weeks, they have buoyed me through this and kept me busy and distracted. I hope there is never a reason that I can do enough to thank them for everything they've done for me. 

I'm slowly but surely making progress. I got it in me to go through Tim's clothes the other day and pull out his lesser used items. I'm still not really ready to part with them so they are hanging out in a spare bedroom but I took a step. My house is almost done with projects I can do but now I'm bored and ready for a new one. Keeping my hands busy during the evenings and weekends is much better for me than lying around watching TV.

Maddy is doing great other than being a lazy bum. This morning after letting her out to go to the bathroom she sprinted back in, climbed up in my bed and fell back asleep. She's figured out that if she bangs her bowls around enough I'll come fill up whatever is missing so she essentially lives the life of a pampered princess. I still blame Tim for ruining my dog as she had much better manners before he entered our lives. She's also figured out how to move the kitchen chairs around and will let herself up onto kitchen counters or the table and help herself to whatever she desires when I'm out of the house. I've been catching her via the nanny cam, she's sneaky in that she hops right down when she knows I'm coming in and approaches the door as though she was sleeping on the couch. 

That's been the extent of my exciting life these days. I don't do much other than work, work on the house or watch TV so I'm pretty boring at this point. I've written somewhere around 500-600 thank you notes but I'm still behind by about 150 so I know there are many overdue and I apologize but they are coming. The same goes for the Favebook messages, I will respond to each one but I'm super slow so you have my most sincere apologies and know it will arrive someday...

Thank you all for all of your love, support and kindness. Even when I don't respond know that I do see it, appreciate it and am so grateful for it.