Inspirational Thoughts

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

BLM vs. Law Enforcement.....

When I think back to when I was a child and into my teens, there was a level of respect shown to police officers that was ingrained in society... from the very young to the elderly. We knew that a police officer was there to protect us, that he (and eventually she) was a friend... someone we could look up to. If we were in trouble they would help, however, if we were doing something wrong they were there to put a stop to it. That is NOT the way things are today. Unfortunately, due to the poor actions of some (NOT ALL) law enforcement officers a movement called Black Lives Matter has taken hold in America and it is dividing the country.

On August 9, 2014 a young black man by the name of Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri. He and a friend were walking when they were stopped by Officer Darren Wilson, who was investigating the report of a retail theft of a convenience store. Here's where things get messy.... and ultimately deadly. While Brown's family, attorney, and race baiters try to portray Brown as a good kid, in reality he was nothing but a common thug and his lifestyle caught up with him.
Before Officer Wilson (A GOOD COP) had a chance to get out of his SUV Brown charged him, punched him though the open window, and tried to grab his weapon. In the process Wilson fought back and shot Brown in the hand, causing him to retreat and allowing Wilson the opportunity to get out of his vehicle. Unfortunately, Brown decided NOT to obey a lawful command and charged Wilson leaving him no option but to shoot Brown several times (because he kept coming at him). While Brown's friend would later say that Brown had his hands up and was trying to run away from Wilson, autopsy reports proved this untrue. 

The "fallout" from this shooting was rioting, looting, destruction of businesses in the Ferguson area, and the coining of the phrase, "Hands Up, Don't Shoot," and "No Justice, No Peace."
Before I go any further I will pose the following questions...
  1. Does racism still exist in the United States of America? 
  2. If racism does exist, is it only directed toward the black race?
  3. Are police officers racist?
  4. Are black Americans anti-police?
  5. Is there a societal disconnect between those who are in authority to enforce the laws of the land and those who feel mistreated by the laws which exist? 
  6. Are there those in governmental leadership positions who are "stirring the pot" to keep society in a state of civil unrest in order to gain a vote?
  7. Does the "entitlement" mentality play into the level of disrespect for authority which exists in our nation?
  8. Why is it that when certain factions don't get their own way or what they perceive they are entitled to, they turn to violence and destruction?
I would like to state that I FIRMLY BELIEVE that racism is alive and "well" in not only America but all over the planet. It always has been and always will be. There have always been factions of people who believe they are better than another and should have more rights and privileges. Is that true? No, of course not. EVERY PERSON HAS AN OBLIGATION TO CONTRIBUTE TO SOCIETY! When any faction thinks they are better than other, be they a race, gender, religion, etc., they endanger the whole of humankind.

In Ferguson (as well as other cities throughout the United States) we have seen a horrible breakdown. Some of it is due to excessive police force, but some is due to poor choices made by "victims." I have heard the screams of how poorly black citizens are being treated... that predominately white police officers are unfairly targeting young black men. I would argue one thought loud and clear. There is no such thing as a victim. 

Now before people think I'm speaking about something I don't understand because I'm not black, I will remind you that I was the single parent of two minority daughters for 17 years. I did not become a teen mom (even though I grew up in a financially challenged and extremely dysfunctional home filled with abuse that came in many forms). I was 29 and 32 when Emile and Brie were born. At the time I was in a stable situation (which didn't remain that way). When I became a single mom I had clear expectations of what was and was not acceptable in my daughter's lives. Even though we didn't have a lot of money we were careful with what we did have (between my job and assistance I received from our church). Our little family attended church regularly. Both Emile and Brie knew they better do their very best in school. If they got in trouble in school there was even more trouble at home. I wouldn't allow them to disprespect their teachers (or other adults for that matter). I kept them busy in church youth activities, Girl Scouts, community theater, chorus, marching band, school theater, summer camp programs, and/or pretty much anything else I could think of. They were not permitted to run the streets or hang out in local malls. To sum it up, I didn't allow them to be "idle" for long. I kept them as busy as I possibly could so they wouldn't have as much of a chance to get into trouble. When they turned 16 both were expected to get a job and before that they had chores around the house. Both learned how to do basic cooking (Brie enjoyed this much more than Emile) and take care of the yard (Emile did better at this... she had her own mower, snowblower, and yard equipment and actually earned money working for some people). 

I guess what I'm trying to point out is that I wasn't willing to allow my children to become a statistic. Because of the fact the girls were of minority descent and being raised in a single parent home, society says they would not graduate from high school, become teen moms, or end up in a juvenile detention center, and/or other experience other forms of failure. My mantra was (and still remains) "FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION!" My children were NOT going to become "victims" of anything... I would see to that! 

Clearly, I am irritated by how police officers are being treated. These men and women are not perfect by any means but what they are is dedicated to protecting and serving the community from the exact elements who yell the loudest when they are "victimized" by the "Poe-leese." Law enforcement officers don't get up each day, put on their bullet proof vest, uniform, and holster their fire arm before thinking to themselves, "Today I want to go find me a poor black boy so I can shoot and kill him." That's absurd! These men and women are sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, grandchildren, and even grandparents. They are ordinary people trying to help out. When you act like an out of control animal (and NO, I'm not saying any race is an animal) and fail to abide by societal rules then you must deal with the consequences. If you don't stop when a police officer tries to pull you over or stop you on a sidewalk you only have yourself to blame when things go bad. If you try to grab an officer's weapon from him/her you may end up losing your life. If you resist arrest and/or assault an officer, you may end up losing your life. If you stop and cooperate with law enforcement officers you WILL remain alive. Are there times when police officers cross the line? Yes, absolutely... however, those times are not as often as liberal spin machines would like you to believe. The pitch phrase, "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" certainly applies. If you are stopped by a police officer, put your hands where he/she can see them, remain calm, and chances are you won't get shot...  regardless of what your skin color is. You see, ALL LIVES MATTER! 

When I see police officers being slaughtered it really irritates me. There is NO excuse for the out and out war being launched in the name of BLM against police officers from coast to coast. It's happening in record numbers. Gunfire deaths (murders) against police officers in 2016 is up 72%! Here's a suggestion, if you don't want to worry about the police being too mean, STOP CALLING THEM when you 're being victimized by people in your own neighborhoods! Don't call when your child is murdered by another young black man. Don't call when your house is being shot up during a drive by. Don't call when drug dealers are moving into your neighborhood. Get the message???? If you want to end what you see as social injustices against you then you must be willing to become part of the solution rather than remaining the source of the problem!!! We the unappreciated must do the unimaginable and see the unthinkable to protect the ungrateful.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Up, Up, and Away!

When I gave birth to Emile and Brie I probably felt the same way most other mothers feel. I knew my babies would someday be all grown up and out on their own, however, that day was a long, LONG way away. So here I sit 23+ years later and that day arrived MUCH FASTER than I was prepared for. Is that how most moms feel? I suppose it is. Again, I remember how many times my own mother told me how fast time fly's by... now I understand. My baby girls are spreading their wings and leaving the nest.

Both Emile and Brie chose to attend HACC (Harrisburg Area Community College).
Due to some choices Em made in her personal life along with some medical issues she has developed (hand tremors) she had to make a career path change. Rather than pursuing law enforcement she decided upon Emergency Medical Services. I think she may just be an adrenaline junkie??? I don't know where she gets that from. Bwahahahahaha!!! At any rate, Emile took the Emergency Medical Technician course at the York campus (York Hospital). She worked hard and before she knew it it was time to do her testing to become a Nationally Registered EMT. The test was divided into two parts, a written and a practical exam. In addition to that Emile also had to take and pass her Emergency Vehicle Operation Certification course so she would be able to drive an ambulance.
All of Emile's hard work, studying, and sleepless nights paid off. In March 2015 she PASSED all her exams on the very first try!!!! Her EVOC was a few months later and she passed them as well.
In July 2015 Emile was hired by White Rose Ambulance, while in the past few months she as started working PRN for Spring Grove Ambulance and West York Ambulance. Referring back to the "adrenaline junkie" title further up in this post.... Em's goal is to become a flight medic and perhaps even fly out of Penn State Hershey Medical Center in Hershey PA. In order to do that she must first become a paramedic. There is no doubt in my mind that Emile will someday accomplish that goal and when she does she will be an outstanding medic!
Emile's drive, dedication, and compassion to the EMS field and those she cares for is already making her a better person. She clearly has found a career she loves and lives for. Well done, kiddo... I'm so proud of you!!!
This is a picture of Emile and her partner that was published in the York Daily Record. They were moving the body of a deceased man from the area of the Codorus Creek in downtown York. The coroner is the gentleman following her and she is always picking his brain on calls. Again, it's just an example of her desire to learn and become better at what she does. The sky is the limit.... quite literally.

Brie is just finishing up her second semester at HACC with her focus in radiology. When she began her classes she was planning on becoming an X-Ray Technologist, however, she seems to be changing her mind on where she wants to be when all is said and done. The last time Brie and I spoke about her career path she indicated a desire to do ultrasounds. While doing research she discovered that this is where the most money can be earned. Makes sense to me as long as it's something she enjoys doing. I'm sure she'll be good at whatever her final decision is.

Needless to say I am proud of both Emile's and Brie's accomplishments thus far. They may have given me some grief (okay, they DID give me some grief... some days more than other days) but they have become focused, independent, and loving young women. They're on their way to successful futures and for that I am incredibly grateful. Well done, Emile and Brie. Keep it up!!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Better Late Than Never????

A few posts back I mentioned that I had gotten married... a very brief mention at that. I suppose I really should share more details since it was a very special day
A little about Matthew before I continue. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of my sweet husband is just that... what a truly sweet and gentle man he is. He has showed me, Emile, and Brie kindness and generosity in more ways than I can describe. In spite of all the love he shows us he asks for nothing in return. Well, I suppose the only thing he asks for is our love... which he has.

Matthew and I were married in York, PA at the local chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on Saturday, January 31, 2015. President Conrad Knudson. Since it was obviously held in the middle of winter, we decided on a winter. Our colors were burgundy, blue, and silver, with lots of snowflakes. I had so many friends who stepped up to help me get everything ready... plus I hit every Dollar General in the York and Spring Grove area to buy inexpensive supplies. I even had tree branches cut and mounted to wood bases to use around the room.
I was honestly surprised at how many people shared in our special day. We didn't have enough seats in the primary room for the actual wedding ceremony. The guests jumped in and put out more chairs so everyone could be seated. It was wonderful!
It's hard to explain how loved I felt. Little Braxton was our ring bearer and Isla was our snowflake girl (although she forgot to drop a single flake). While a string quartet played for us, Emile and Brie walked me in and handed me off to my little buddy, Will, who gave me away. Matt's sons, Sean and Jeremy, stood with him. All of them touched my heart and the entire service made me cry.

Along with some humor, President Knudson shared wisdom and advice for us to apply in our marriage. He has been our family doctor as well as church leader for many years. It was comforting having someone who has known me be the one to perform our marriage vows. I can't think of anyone I would have rather had. Brie recited a poem before Matt and I shared some personal thoughts we had.

After the ceremony we had a reception in the gym. We decided to serve "comfort foods"... chicken corn soup, chili, and loaded potato soup, rolls, fresh vegetables and dip, chips and pretzels. We also had a "Hot Cocoa Bar" with all the fixins' and apple cider. Carmen Estes made our BEAUTIFUL cake and Brie made all the cupcakes. Again, everything was just as I pictured it.... positively perfect!

Even though we have been married almost 2 years now, I am still so thankful for everyone who helped make our wedding the incredibly memorable and enjoyable day it was. I can't imagine it being any better.... from start to finish.

We're off to great places......

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Holding My Breath

A year ago a rough period was just beginning. What I didn't know at the time was how long or how bad things were about to become. Today I am holding my breath to a degree... just hoping and praying that the events of a year ago aren't repeated. So far, so good!

Let me begin with two very dirty words...... TRIGEMINAL NEURALGIA. When I say these are dirty words I'm not exaggerating! This term should never have to pass the lips of any human being. Unfortunately, all too often it does. And equally unfortunate, it has now become a part of my life, as well of the lives of those who are important parts of my life. Trigeminal Neuralgia is an extremely painful condition emanating from the trigeminal nerve. There isn't an exact known cause of why the nerve becomes damaged, however, it is more common in women over the age of 50 and those who have Multiple Sclerosis. Here's an example of what Trigeminal Neuralgia "looks" like.....
My journey with TN actually began in June of 2015. I went to the dentist for a routine X-Ray, exam, and cleaning. I was told that everything looked fine (no cavities) and the cleaning went just fine. The next day I noticed my teeth seemed more hot/cold sensitive and I felt like I was getting a toothache on a tooth on the lower left side of my mouth. After a few days it was bothering me to the point that I decided to return to the dentist to have it checked out. The dentist did another X-ray and said everything looked fine; perhaps I could try a sensitive care toothpaste. I did that and after a week I felt relief. I figured it was just a "fluke."

Fast forward to mid August. The same thing happened. I began feeling increased sensitivity and a toothache, again on the lower left. It rapidly became worse but when I called my dentist I was told I couldn't be seen because it was a Friday and there were no appointments available. I was told the dentist had reviewed my chart and still said there was nothing wrong with my teeth. I took as many different types of over the counter meds I could think of to relieve the discomfort but the pain kept getting worse. By Saturday afternoon I was a Patient First thinking I must have an abscess or something. The doctor seemed to agree and prescribed an antibiotic and prescription pain reliever. She also told me about Smilebuilderz in Lancaster. This dental practice offers emergency appointments on the weekend. I figured I'd be fine to wait until Monday to see my own dentist. I couldn't have been any more wrong if I had tried.

First thing Sunday morning I was on my way to Lancaster. The pain was bad, BAD, BAD! No matter what I took or tried (heat, ice) I couldn't shake the pain. By the time we arrived at Smilebuilderz (shortly after 8am) they already had several patients waiting ahead of me. I wasn't willing to leave without being seen though. After 2 plus hours of pacing back and forth, walking around outside, crying, suffering, etc., Matt became pretty forceful with the staff and said I needed help. It was a short time later that I was seated and waiting for the dentist to examine me. Another set of X-rays and exam revealed nothing wrong with the teeth in the area. The dentist pulled up some information about a medical condition and before he even said a word I started crying again. I immediately recognized what I was seeing. I patient I had worked with had been diagnosed with the condition and I had watched her suffer for several years before she finally had a surgical procedure done which in her case worked very well. I honestly didn't think the dentist was right. On the other hand it all made sense. As he suggested, Matt and I went immediately to Memorial Hospital in York to be seen for the condition (because the medication needed to begin treating me wasn't anything he would be able to prescribe). The E.R. doctor agreed with the finding and within an hour I was given a shot and an oral medication One was a pain reliever while the other was an anti-seizure medication meant to sedate the brain (in turn calming the trigeminal nerve). I did get some initial relief but not for long. By Monday morning I was at my family doctor practically begging (not an exaggeration) to be seen and given something to help me.

I was given a higher dose of the medication I was prescribed along with a new medication (another type of anti-seizure med) to see if it helped. Dr. S. told me it may take a little bit of time to get everything under control but to not give up. He said this condition used to be known as the "suicide condition" because of the intensity of the pain and the limited treatments available. Sure enough, after a period of time (perhaps a week or two) I did seem to improve. I was feeling like the worst of it was behind me. In mid October I had a very minor "relapse" for two or three days but other than that things seemed to be going along much better....  UNTIL the wee hours of November 28, 2015. All Hell was about to break loose.

To make a VERY LONG (seven week to be exact) story short and because a lot of what took place isn't clear anyway, I had an OVER THE TOP  battle with TN. I woke with a severe toothache and it kept getting worse and worse. Again, regardless of what I tried nothing was working. This time around I ended up in the hospital on Dilaudid (a potent schedule II controlled opioid) around the clock while they tried to get the pain under control. After 2 days they began switching me off the Dilaudid and onto an oral opioid to take while a different type of anti-seizure regimen was increased to an effective dosage.
Following discharge from the hospital, I spent the majority of the month of December asleep. Every few days my medication doses would be increased to get to a point where I would be able to have pain relief while at the same time become able to "function" again. I literally "missed" Christmas last year. It's still something that brings me sadness when I think of it.
Due to the fact that I was asleep so much (and moving very little at best), I ended up with two additional issues... pneumonia and shingles! Can you believe that crap?!!!

Throughout it all I had my family standing by me. From what Emile and Brie told me, Matt slept on the floor in the "man cave" many nights. I couldn't sleep in bed because of the pain and then because of all the chest congestion. Brie kept all my medications straight up to and including getting up around the clock at times to make sure I was taking everything correctly. Both Emile and Brie had to deal with getting me to and from the hospital and/or numerous doctor appointments. And one of the sweetest gestures of all was when Emile sent me a darling flower arrangement to try and cheer me up. Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year and I was struggling to such a degree that all of them were try to doing anything they could do to support me.
So here we are a year later. The medication regimen I'm on is working well. I've researched a few different surgical options should TN rear its ugly head and/or the meds I'm currently taking become ineffective. Am I scared things may become bad again? Absolutely!! I'm more frightened than is imaginable. I never want to experience what I went through again. I described the pain as being an all consuming "black" pain. The reason I say this is because at times black was the only thing I could see. There was no way to escape it! Fortunately, skilled doctors finally got on top of things and for now I'm "stable" and doing well.