Yea though I walk through the valley...

This angel of death has been circling my family for too long now.  I'm fed up with him and I wish he would be on his way.  A few months ago he was trying to take me.  Then he did take Betty.  Now he has been trying really hard to take Paul.

The good news is that I believe we're over the worst of it.  At least that's what I'm hoping.  It looks like it.  The other good news is that all things work together for the good of those who love Him.  And hopefully some good things are going to come of this nastiness.  Because it already looks like God is using it to work on Paul's heart.  But we'll get to that in a little bit.

This all started eleven days ago.  I hadn't heard from Paul all day, so I called his store to talk to him & was told that he had called someone in to cover for him so that he could go home sick.  I thought it was really weird that he hadn't even mentioned it to me.  When I finally got him on his phone, he could only speak for a minute and said that he wasn't ignoring me, he was just deathly ill and couldn't talk.  When I got home that evening, was in bed.  The only time he got up was to throw up and this is the way it stayed for the next seven days.  He did get up and go to the Christmas Eve service with us at church, but that was probably a HUGE mistake.  He was as pale as a sheet and he was constantly broken out in a sweat, but you couldn't talk him out of it.  He was so weak he could barely walk and had to be helped.  We had to leave a little early and he came home and went right back to bed.  The next morning, he got up for about twenty minutes to watch the kids open gifts, then went straight back to bed.  Those were the only two times he was up the entire week.  He did nothing but sleep and throw up.

I was so worried about him and I knew he was in serious trouble.  I mean, I can't stress to you how *BAD* he looked.  Just in a week, he began to look emaciated.  And he's a BIG guy.  It's tough for him to look emaciated.  He was pale and pasty.  Broken out in a cold sweat any time he was upright.  Dark circles under his eyes.  HE LOOKED HORRIBLE.

I have seen death many, many times, and he had death all over him.

I was so frustrated with him because he would not go to the doctor.  He kept insisting he would get better.  Every time he would throw up, he would insist that would be the last time.  "Oh yeah, I'm definitely starting to feel better now."  I'd say, "Babe, you don't look good.  You need to go to the doctor.  You need to go to the hospital."  But he wouldn't go.  SO many things could've been wrong and I wasn't sure exactly what, so I slept in the other room and just kept checking on him.  And praying.

Day rolled into day. Night rolled into night.  I just kept praying.

Finally on Christmas, he promised me that if he didn't turn a corner by that night he would go to the doctor the next day.  He wouldn't go to the E.R. (*sigh*), but he would go to the urgent care.  Okay, fine.  Suit yourself.  I just knew he would die if he laid in that bed another day.

The next morning, I got ready for work and began nagging him about going to the doctor.  He promised he would.  I sat at my desk and began calling hourly and leaving voicemails, then texting to remind him.  He was really starting to irritate me with how long he was pushing this off.  Around noon he finally answered and said he was up and getting ready but was having doubts that he could drive himself.  Oh noooo, he is not getting out of this!  I told him I would be home to drive him.  And so I went!  And I'm glad I did.  He was in no condition to drive as he could hardly walk.

The urgent care doctor told him that he needed to go to the E.R. immediately and if he chose to go back home he would die. "And I'm not kidding.  If you go home, you will not survive, you are going to die."  They called an ambulance for him.  The EMT's came in & looked at him & said, "Oh wow!  I bet you don't feel very good.  We need to start an IV on you right now!" & then they whisked him off to the emergency room.

It was very scary at first because we knew he was very, very sick, and we knew some things that were wrong, but we couldn't confirm everything because we couldn't find a CT machine that would fit him.  He's such a big guy that his shoulders are too broad and he's too tall that he literally wouldn't fit in any of the CT machines in the entire Phoenix area (I know he would love me telling everyone that.  Sorry babe, but it's integral to the story!).  The believed he had a small bowel obstruction, and they knew he had a raging infection because his white blood cells were up.  His blood pressure was really low, his pulse was really high and his temperature was dangerously low, which means he was getting ready to go septic (infection in the blood stream). He has never been diabetic before, but suddenly his sugar was 381 (really high).  And his blood was SUPER thin (his INR was 6.8, which mean his blood was more than six times thinner than it should be).  And we do know he had been bleeding into his belly all week.

They thought maybe he had some nasty gut infection from the massive antibiotics he had been on since his pacemaker insertion, among other things.  I mean, they just weren't sure *what* was going on in there.  They just knew that he was losing blood, had an infection, was massively dehydrated and was SICK.  Sick, sick, sick.

Every time he would doze off, the doctors and nurses would quietly ask me in amazement why he waited so long to come in, like I had any control over the situation or like I could have made this stubborn man do ANYTHING that he didn't want to do.  I just shrugged my shoulders and mouthed back to them, "Feel my pain!  I don't know."

As the events rolled on and the reality and gravity of the situation began to sink into Paul's head, I think he began to realize that he really did almost die.  As doctor after doctor consulted with each other and he overheard concerned whispers and he realized he really wasn't going home.  After he caught me crying when I thought he was sleeping.  When he saw the startled look on the nurse's face when she saw his urine that looked like coffee instead of urine, because THAT'S NOT NORMAL PAUL! No matter how much you try to convince yourself that laying in bed with the "flu" is okay and that you're just a little "dehydrated".  He really started to get it.

They finally found ONE CT machine on the other side of town that could fit him and they transferred him to that ER.  The good news is that he didn't have a bowel obstruction.  He had a horribly bad and infected gall bladder.  And one of the stones from that gall bladder had gotten out and made a miracle journey down the duct and across to his pancreas and nicked his pancreas, causing a horrible case of pancreatitis as well.  At this point they aren't sure if he's legitimately newly diabetic, or if his pancreas is just so sick that it has temporarily stopped working and producing insulin.  So, for now it's a waiting game.

They've changed  up his antibiotics and are seeing if that helps bring down his infection.  He can hardly talk without getting short of breath.  Today, I had a come-to-Jesus meeting with the nurse because he asked if I could wash his back.  I asked why, and then asked if they have been taking care of him and bathing him and what-not.  I mean, being a nurse, I know that's their JOB.  He looked confused and shook his head no.  My jaw dropped, and I said, not at all?  Normally, he is very reserved and shy and so I have respected his privacy and not offered to wash him up and all that, figuring he would have the nurses do it or be stubborn enough to insist on doing it himself even when sick.  OH HELL NO.  I was livid.  This man has been literally knocking on death's door and here he is, post-op day three (been in here FOUR days) and NO ONE HAS BATHED THIS MAN OR CHANGED HIS LINENS?  I said, "Reach over there and ring that bell right now.  Unless you don't want me to speak to her, of course."  And I just stared at him.  He just shook his head, okay.  And then said, "Just promise me you'll be professional, okay babe."  I said, "Do you think I'm gonna pull her hair and make them call security? I am a professional."   (But really I'm thinking that he knows me all too well.)

I ended up doing all their damn work for them.  Bathed this man, changed all of his linens, washed his hair, helped his brush his teeth.  And for the first time in his life.... he let me.  That made me cry just typing it.  I think that may be one of the true miracles and lessons of this entire situation.  That might be the true work that God is doing with this... the work that God does on Paul's heart about being still, loving and letting others love him.  He allowed himself to be vulnerable, he allowed me to take care of him and then he had this to say afterwards on his facebook.....

Veronica, I love you. Looking at me being so unkept today prompted a sponge bath... My love gave me a sponge bath, changed the sheets, washed my pad, my hair my back. I know yet again what love is by her unselfish acts . Babe you really love me. That is so rare, to me, and I am truly blessed. Thank you so much. I am confident things in the future will be better for us mainly because of you. I love you.
Now its a long story, but that's kind of a big deal for him.  I just responded, "I love you too. I would do whatever you needed to be done. That's what love does. Xoxo"

lurve you, xoxo v.



There's a copycat trying to create a tragedy like the one that stole the beautiful baby faces up above.
Someone has threatened to shoot up the schools that our kids are in tomorrow.  Particularly the high school.  We've confirmed with the police and were told that the threats are "very, very real" and that they are looking into them and investigating. And there was a huge police presence in and around the school today, which, I suppose, is reassuring.  Tomorrow is supposed to be the big test, however.

This makes me so, so sad.  First of all, I cannot look at, or speak or anything to do with the Sandy Hook tragedy without breaking down in tears.  I mean, look at their little faces.  God love them!  They were so tiny and precious!  TWENTY BABIES!  BABIES!  That is unfathomable to me.  How can ANYONE be left unfazed by this?  Seriously?  Not just unfazed, but how can there now be COPYCATS?  People that want to be just like this evil monster???  People who want to scare others and want to threaten to commit evil or harm? Who want to instill fear???  I don't understand it, I don't understand it, I don't understand it. 

Today Maddie wrote this on her facebook status...

I really have no idea why, how, or what started all these rumors about the alleged shooting that is supposed to happen tomorrow, but if the person or people who are "planning" to shoot up Verrado, Desert Edge and or whatever other schools that are supposed to be involved in this is someone I know or can read this please don't do anything. It is almost Christmas. I'm pretty sure my mother and all other parents out there would MUCH rather have their precious babies opening up presents instead of picking out caskets for them. I am a 15 year old girl. I am a sophomore in high school. I can't even get my permit to drive for another month. I plan to go to college and have a family of my own someday and its a shame that I have to the have the fear in the back of my mind that going to school tomorrow to take my third and fourth hours finals might be a dangerous decision. Especially with everything that just happened in Connecticut! And on the other side of the spectrum where this is all just a bunch of rumors, HOW DARE ANYONE HAVE THE AUDACITY TO START A RUMOR THAT A SCHOOL IS GOING TO HAVE A SHOOTING. There must be something very wrong in the minds of people who would say that. In this day and age, not even a week after 20 first graders were killed, those things are not taken lightly. That is just something so wrong to joke about. So, tomorrow I am going to school, and praying that if anything does happen that God will protect me and all of the fellow students who have been having this threat, and also that the officers on scene do their job, and are safe as well.
THIS BROKE MY HEART!  NO FIFTEEN YEAR OLD CHILD SHOULD HAVE TO THINK ABOUT OR WRITE THESE WORDS!!!  My kids had to ask me what I would want them to do if the shooter was in their school.  Would I want them to run?  And they were serious.  Five sets of wide, innocent eyes, staring at Paul and I for answers, waiting with baited breath.  You could hear a pin drop.  I answered, "You do whatever keeps you safe at that moment.  If safe means running, then you run.  If safe means that you have to lay down and play dead, then you do that.  If there's a closet to hide in or something to hide under... whatever you need to do at that moment that keeps you safe and gets you out alive.  That's what you need to do."  They asked if they should help their friends.  "Yes, of course you can help others.  But only if it is safe for yourself to do so.  Don't help someone else at the expense of your own safety."  Most of all, you do whatever it takes to get yourself out safe and alive and get home.

I'm sad that I'm having to have that conversation with these kids.  I'm even sadder that twenty babies are having to be buried this week.  Lord, please go before our children tomorrow and every other day.  Please keep us all safe and healthy and bring us all back home together  Watch over us and protect us.  In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.  Thank you Lord.

lurve you, xoxo v.


Fight like a girl!

I came across this link on Pinterest and so Emma and I sat down to watch it.  It's AWESOME! This is something that I think everyone, but especially every woman should know.  What if you're walking to your car in a parking lot and someone grabs you and shoves you in their trunk or in the back of a van?  What do you do?  Do you know how to escape?  This link has several short video of different techniques on how to bust out of zip ties that might be used to restrain your hands and feet.  I'm surprised and very comforted by how simple it is to bust out of them!  So do yourself a favor and visit this site and watch these videos!

lurve you, xoxo v.


Bye Boop....

I still call her my "Mother-in law", even though I've been divorced for nearly twenty years now.  Like she explained to me shortly after Randy and I separated, whether the man was in the picture or not, I would be her "daughter" forever. She always called me her "Ruth" and quoted Ruth 1:16 to me...
for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.
I can't say we have never had a moment where we didn't butt heads, because we were family and in more than twenty years, of course we did.  And there were times that we were closer than at other times.  That's human nature too.  But one thing is for sure... she is one of the few people on the face of the Earth that I could always say I knew loved me.  She loved me unconditionally.  She never stopped  She loved me just because I was.  Not because of what I could give her or do for her.  And her love for me wasn't going to go away.  Those kind of people in my life are on a short list.

And now she's gone.

Turns out Mama B. hadn't been all the way truthful with most people about just how bad her cancer was.  I guess she didn't want most of us to worry too much.  When she went into the hospital nearly two weeks ago, no one had any idea how it would turn out, but it all just slowly went on a steady decline.

During the final 48 hours or so, I couldn't keep my eyes dry and my head constantly ached.  It was positively brutal.  It was a very visceral mourning period where I could feel someone I love being ripped out of this physical realm like pieces of velcro being separated.

And my poor kids.  Courtney tried so hard to be the rock and would break down when she thought no one was looking or on the phone with me.  Darren was a mess all the time, bless his heart.  Rita called it when she said, "Least thugiest thug ever!" (Yep, he has the heart of a marshmallow. You totally can't judge a book by it's cover with that kid.  A few days after she died, he got a big Betty Boop tattoo to memorialize her).  Maddie cried intermittently and internalized a lot of it as usual and Emma was sad but confused by it I think.  I was wrecked by it and a complete mess.  However, once she actually passed, I was much more peaceful.  I have no explanation other than God's grace, I suppose.  And that maybe the velcro had then finally been separated.  Now the grief just comes in tiny waves here and there.

On her death bed, she refused to have a funeral.  She said she refused to have everyone sitting around being all sad about her and said, "You should all just have a big fucking party." So that's what they're doing.  She wanted everyone to party and tell happy memories of her.

On her final night, one of my best friends Maribel and her daughter Jessica (Courtney's bff that I have blogged about many times) drove up to be with Courtney.  When Jessica was so sick, Betty had traveled to Indi to be with Jessica and help out Maribel and so Maribel and Jessica and wanted to come be with Betty during her final moments and also to support Courtney.  Betty had a very giving and loving heart and everyone Betty met she made an impression on.

I've always said that I believe what makes this world go 'round is women helping women.  It takes a village to help raise children, to help support each other through sickness, through divorces, financial hardships, etc etc.  And it makes me so heartsick, soulsick, sad, heartbroken... you name it... to have to say goodbye to one of my favorite women and to one of the people who have loved me for most of my life.  I love you Betty.  You've meant the world to me.  Thank you for all you've done for me, for all you've done for my children.  God bless you.  Rest in peace Boop.

Elizabeth Ann Torres
2/23/53 - 11/30/12

Betty & her namesake Courtney Elizabeth Torres

Veronica, Courtney & Betty

lurve you, xoxo v.
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