Scared. Unsure. And insecure ideas crossed my mind on a daily basis.  Needless to say, I didn’t feel like myself.  The woman I knew only a few years ago was gone.  Only coming out in sporadic intervals within a week.  How was I going to get back to me? Where had Marti gone and why had she abandoned me? Along with everything else going on – this had become a necessary emergency.

There were days when I would be on top of the world. Life was good on the outside.  But something on the inside wasn’t quite right.  I was experiencing drastic mood swings, my patience was none existent, tears appeared from some foreign origin and I was basically staying in the house.  This certainly wasn’t in my character.  I was attempting to talk through this with friends. But when you’re a strong person, I’m sure you can understand how difficult this can be especially when everyone is counting on you to be their ray of sunshine, silver lining, and positivity.  So, that release that I was looking for I wasn’t getting.  I tried some of my regular coping methods and those only proved to help for a moment.  I tried ‘going into myself’ (this normally helps me recharge and recalibrate), writing my thoughts down and focusing on the big events of The Kid’s senior year of high school. But you probably guessed it – none of those worked either.  I had to get out of this funk. Strength

After some serious deliberation, I decided to contact a therapist for help.  My health was the main reason I sought out professional help considering the events of 2016.  Now, I’m sure you know/heard/read about the stigma of seeking mental health services in the Black community. “We don’t need professional help, that’s for white people, it’s a waste of money or pray about it.” These are some of the reasons they give for not getting help. Well, this was my response – I’m part caucasian with a little extra cash whose prayed about this and seeking professional help.  I was tired of feeling this way and I had to do something about it and Castlight was there to assist me.

molly
You can imagine the way I rejoiced during this scene from Insecure.

After finding the perfect fit for me (and that was determined by the tone of her voice when I spoke with her over the phone), I made an appointment.  Was I scared? Simple answer – Yes. As I walked into her office I noticed, there was no stereotypical chaise to help me relax and bare my soul, a few pieces of art to catch the eye and 2 red leather chairs positioned across from each other. Taking a seat was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.  In the first session, we identified several areas within my being that I had never acknowledged or even knew about. At the end of the session, she gave a “prescription.”  This wasn’t medicine in the literal sense.  These were the things I needed to do before I saw her again to get my ideas and thoughts lined up to assist with my healing/treatment.  Before I walked out the door we scheduled my next appointment.

With every passing interaction, I could feel myself getting better.  It was beyond psychological.  I was rediscovering myself all over again.  They say “7 is the number of completion” and the last time I went looking for me was exactly 7 years ago.  I was in mourning.  A bereavement period for the younger Marti. The stoic, idgaf, social introvert, let’s have a good time, solo travel, football mom Marti.  Changes were happening all around me and I had to accept my place in all of it.  My kid was an adult to a point and I was anxious about his next steps.  There was a lot of movement going on at work.  I felt stuck due to aging parents.  I’m technically being given a 2nd wind.  My relationships weren’t the same. I needed to find and do the things a more mature Marti wanted to do.  And due to me not wanting to hurt any feelings, be viewed as selfish or revert back to the person I was 7 years ago, I was mentally fighting everything.  My worth was being re-evaluated.  New Marti needed me to love her as much as I loved the one from days gone.

I started to slow down and process/unpack things more carefully.  What I didn’t realize was I wasn’t letting go of everything.  Some traits, behaviors, and ideas would remain while others faded and that’s okay.  I was still in here I just had to embrace the new me in all its entirety. Honestly, I have noticed a change in myself since the therapy began. I’m not afraid of my thoughts and sharing them (even if that means I need to finesse the delivery.)

I went back and forth about posting this but I said: “wth this is my life.” Maybe my journey will help someone seek out the help they feel they need. Within this post, you will find a few links with additional information. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.

The day has arrived! My one and only kid turns 18 – today.  You all met him when he was just a pup.  Now, he’s maturing into a man. It hit me like a sack of rocks this morning. This guy can buy cigarettes.  Maybe I’ll hold on until he can buy me drank!  🙂

Happy Burfday, Rez!! 

My Little Chocolate Joy

You’ve made me who I am today!

It was a nice August 16th and I actually wore a dress to work. I was fighting a headache for about 3 hours.  While joking with some co-workers, I realized I was unable to communicate in my normal fashion. Ut oh, this thing is happening again. I sat polarized for a few moments waiting for it to pass.  It didn’t and I packed my things up to go home.  As I walked through the door, my son knew something was wrong with me.  I was in complete denial. After 7 hours, 3 phone calls, my sister, and mom visiting, 2 hours of reading aloud, my son decided to drive me to the hospital.

2014-jun-stroke-brains

As I walked from the parking lot to the receiving desk, I cried. What was wrong with me? He had to speak for me because at the time – the words would not form as articulately as I desired them to. They rushed me to the back.  No real information had been given and I was extremely agitated when they told me I would have to stay. I let the kid know he could go home, no sense in us both being uncomfortable in this overcrowded Detroit hospital ER. In addition, I let the doctor know the only way I was going to stay was if they gave me something to go to sleep. Whatever it was that they gave me I didn’t wake up until someone was trying to take off my pants. (It was good but I ain’t had NOTHING that would make me NOT realize my pants are being removed.) I was in my own room. Oh shit! I need to let somebody know where I am. True to form my phones needed life support. Mission: Text as many critical communicators as fast as possible.

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Yeah, you read it right! They believed I had a small stroke. Not a TIA again.  An actual, fuck yo life up stroke. What was my 36-year-old ass doing in here being diagnosed with this? Something called an ulceration of my carotid artery. Causing me to experience some speech impairment. My son had contacted my family. Some of my FB family reached out to me that were actually working in the hospital and in communication with me through our group message. I had reached out to the Mister on my way home the previous day and he found out they were keeping me later on. I felt a lot better but I really just wanted to get out of there.

stroke

I took so many tests my head began spinning and every day I thought would be the day I’d be going home. Home wasn’t on the agenda until Friday. While I lay in that uncomfortable hospital bed with these foam boots on my legs, I analyzed my life. I never planned on leaving my son alone without a sibling.  He was 17 and depending on only himself.  I thank God I had grocery shopped over the weekend. He would stay late into the night then go to practice and come see me afterward. My room buzzed in the evening hours with visitors. It was nice but I wanted to go. When they began talking about me leaving, I perked up.  When she brought me the discharge papers, I was dressed. The nurse wanted to wait for a wheelchair, I opted to walk out.  The smell of the fresh air was welcoming. The taste was fulfilling and walking through my front door brought immediate satisfaction.


The main side effect I experienced from this was -slight aphasia. In my eyes, this was right up there with losing the function of one of my limbs. I know it may sound a little vain but communication is one of my strongest attributes.  As I sat alone in complete silence, I would speak aloud – searching for the right word and annunciation. Each day I became more frustrated and withdrawn because I wasn’t 100%. No matter how much better others said I was, there was no I could accept it.aphasia

The doctor had referred me to speech therapy but I was waiting for them to reach out to me with an appointment date. In the meantime, through my Googling, I learned that continuous communication would help my chances of strengthening/curing my ailment. I didn’t want people to hear me like this but I knew I had A LOT to be thankful for considering what I had been through.

Saturday was my 1st full day out, I got dressed and went to get my nails done. Once I returned home, I received a call from the security desk with a delivery. The kind people from my job sent me a welcome home present. I could just eat up all the kindness I was feeling, no LITERALLY. This was just what the doctor ordered. I needed to do better with my eating habits and fruit never hurt anyone. A few family members came over to share in the get well greeting.img_1601

I wanted to get back to work. I needed to feel normal again. After a few long conversations with a good friend, it was decided that I would work from home for a few days then return. Monday morning, I slid into the office picked up a few things I needed and was whisked outside to prevent me from taking on any additional assignments. While at home, I realized I needed this time. My body was still tired from the uncomfortable hospital and early morning test. It felt good to be of some assistance to my team again. They all instructed me to take as much time as I needed. They knew more than I did because I hadn’t thought about the 99 follow-up visits. They all stopped by to check on me and wish me well. This was appreciated but I didn’t wanna feel like an invalid. Moreover, being back at work has certainly assisted with overcoming the slight aphasia I was diagnosed with my the doctor.

Mission: Take pills as instructed. I hate taking medication because I believe the body it so sophisticatedly independent – it doesn’t need any help getting better. Not so this time, I was ordered to take what I would consider to be a fist full of meds.

Taking this medicine was almost as frustrating as the aphasia. I had alarms everywhere. The pills were on the dining room table and I felt like shit if I forgot to take them. Then one day while out on a Sunday afternoon to get some air, he asks “Mom, what happened to your legs?” I’m completely oblivious.  I look down and around and-

The bruising caused by the Plavix and aspirin combination was too much and I fell into a depression. I struggled with if I had bumped myself by accident, should I look into getting some of those foam boots I wore in the hospital or stopping the meds. Which one do you think won? If you guessed stopping the meds, you’re absolutely right.  My vanity was taking control of me. I reached out to my doctor and she gave me the green light to stop taking the Lipitor. I continued to take the Plavix and the bruising continued.  It wasn’t until I went back to for my stroke follow-up that I was instructed to continue the Lipitor and aspirin to stabilize the cholesterol. It was during this visit,  I was referred to psychology. Check out the reason he thought I might need it. Ya think!?img_3019

I never used this and by this time I had been to the speech therapist. She was very comforting and gave me some good information on what I could do for continued strengthening of my vocabulary and communication skills. By this time, I was experiencing sporadic episodes of “not being able to find the right word.” I had to get better.

 

 

Mission: Look for alternative ways to stay alive. I’m sure many of you can guess this hasn’t been easy on my family. I’m so young and we have a history of stroke in our family. More than that, we have a long life expectancy. I mean my mother is 70 still cruising around doing her own thing. One night The Kid walks in after football practice and says, “I can’t go away to college and you’re sick.” No truer words have been spoken by a mother, ‘I’m going to be fine. You go on and live your life.’  This put me on a task like nothing else had already done. I have to stay healthy. Not only for me but mainly to keep this stress off of him. The main concern of the doctor is controlling the cholesterol. I can do that! I MUST do this.

Here’s what I have learned in my short recovery:

fast

These are the signs of stroke. I have to table my fear of the hospital and bills. If they could put all my medical info at the dentist office, I’d be alright.  🙂  I need to be open with those around me if I should have such an episode in the future.  Time is the most important thing. (If you pay attention to the first image in this post. You’ll see I’m extremely blessed to even be typing this right now.) There are NO signs of severe stenosis and no apparent reason to consider the surgical removal of the ulceration. I have a be a little more patient with myself and keep my phone charged (ain’t no telling where I may need to go). I like the way it was explained to me. “A stroke is like and accident on the freeway. There will be traffic while they are trying to clear it up and traffic begins to move as if nothing had happened. The wait is determined by the size of the wreckage.” I just had a small fender bender and I have to be more careful to prevent a pile-up. This happened to me to force me into a lifestyle change. I need to eat healthier – bottom line. My cholesterol isn’t bad but I need to get back to the gym to assist with this, as well. Most importantly, I made the decision to NOT have any siblings for my son and by God, he will not be alone until the creator is satisfied my purpose has been completed.

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The Kid only became a senior after June. Somehow or another he gets asked to the prom by a graduating senior. This all sound good until teenage girl anxiety walked into our lives.  I wasn’t expecting this type of stress until Spring 2017. The young lady’s prom showed me the areas I need to plan and execute for his send off.  Here’s the shortest version of this tale without becoming emotional.

So, when I was pregnant, I prayed to God to give me a son. He heard me. Then I prayed he’d be tall. Measuring in at 5’11”-6′ (depending on where we are). He heard me, again. I didn’t factor in was his charmingly fun attitude, personal sense of style and a little something people call swag which makes the girls gravitate to him.  He walks in one day and says “I got asked to prom.” WHAT?! We both think on it and decide it can’t be that bad. He just needs the following things:

  1. Suit
  2. Coordinating tie
  3. Corsage
  4. Haircut

Right? Oh, how wrong we were! We didn’t find out until the week prior what color her dress was. Then I hear his phone ringing EARLY one morning. Who could that be? He comes over to my room and says “I don’t even feel like going with her anymore.” She had called him and told him he needed to purchase his ticket to attend. This was not a part of the original deal. However, I tend to be a little compassionate to other children’s situation because I know everyone is NOT being parented the same. I coughed over the cash and got the items on the list.

The day came and there was some early morning drama. Then football practice that prevented him from getting to the barbershop on time. This meant Taylor was calling every 5 minutes. He got to the point where he wasn’t answering the phone. Then the logistic issues rose. The car service was coming to our place, she was waiting on him in Roseville. I had become more involved than I anticipated.

He arrived and the mini photo shoot began. I was asked if I wanted to be in the pictures. No. My year was 2017. Seeing him all dressed up brought some ideas to the light. We only had a few more events like this left in his primary education career. They looked very nice together.


No rest for me, I was on task to pick them up from the prom and transport them home. Her feet hurt and he was carrying his jacket. As he helped her out the car to end the night, she thanked him. He had fun and was full of suggestions for his big day. I know it’s going to be on a grand scale because we always doing the most.  🙂

“He’s dead!”  The only words I truly remember hearing on July 22, 2005.  This short narrative on what has been coined “Flashback Friday” will show you that miracles are still happening.  If I start rambling, please forgive me and understand that even 11 years later – I still get choked up.

We were planning a nice evening for ourselves after walking in the suburb of Grosse Pointe eating ice cream enjoying the afternoon.  You see, his mother had come and taken my kid to stay with her for the weekend. I was only a little uncomfortable but felt I could show them I trusted her with The Kid.  As we parted ways to get dressed for the evening activities, I received the call no mother wants.  I heard him trying to say the words my mind wouldn’t allow me to hear through tears and a muffled tone.  His exact words were, “They say he’s dead.”  In my disbelief, I responded, ‘who?’  The answer was my son.

I was driving and pulled over to the side of the road and began to sob uncontrollably.  No one was there to console me during this horrific hour. In a flash, I called my mother.  She asked me to come to her but I couldn’t – I had to get to him.  I had to be there with him.  I needed to find out where he was.  I wiped my eyes and headed toward Belleville, MI to find my one and only son.  I had the news but something wouldn’t let me rest.  The horror of calling his dad filled me and I didn’t even bother to call until I saw him for myself.

As I broke every traffic violation between Detroit and Belleville, I thought about the funeral arrangements for about 10 minutes.  Then I said “No!”  A simple prayer was all I could focus on for the rest of the ride ‘Lord please give him back to me, please don’t take him away.’  As I got closer to the exit, I realized I was going the wrong way, I needed to find out where the hospital was that held his body.  A gas station at the exit ramp became a figurative fork in the road of this entire story.

I jumped out of my car and began to ask everyone where the hospital was and shared the tragic ordeal and begged people to help me.  When I tell you not one person had the answers I needed and shared no additional information.  I screamed and cried louder and harder at every person that offered me no assistance in my time of need.  Then someone in the crowd called the police on or for me.  As he approached me, I was ready to give him the complete business if he didn’t display a spoonful of decency.

He was the sign that people always say they’re looking for from God – sent here to give me a message.  He begged me to calm down, sit down and breathe.  After several minutes of resistance, I followed his directives without sitting down.  It was in this moment that he probably became the best part of this day.  A 13-year-old boy from the apartment pulled him from the bottom of the pool. (His name is Matthew.) He informed me The Kid was at University of Michigan hospital.  The 1st officer on the scene had administered CPR 3x and he was NOT reviving.  The officer went beyond the instructions and tried one more time and The Kid began to choke.  My knees gave up on me and I buckled right there in the gas station.  He informed me that the pulse was faint but he was en route to the hospital.  Thank you, God!

I got in my car as a passenger by legal intervention and allow my ex to drive me there to the hospital.  While in the car I called my mother again, she said she was praying for him but she heard the EMS’s siren and knew they were preserving life in the vehicle.  She informed me she would be there shortly.  I was calming down at a rapid pace.  His dad was called and he informed me he would be there.  I just needed to see my boy.

When I arrived at the hospital the attendant began telling me to calm down and explained even more to me.  She said “he began modeling (1st stage of rigor mortise) and was unresponsive again in the EMS.”  At this point, I didn’t care what she had to say. In a VERY authoritative tone, I told her – take me to him now.  She informed me she was trying to prepare me for what I was about to see.  We began walking toward the room and I told her ‘he just learned how to ride his bike, was only six and was so excited to visit with friends this weekend.’  As I walked in that room, my knees failed me again.


There was a machine assisting him to breathe, tubes were injected in him everywhere and he had a shiny glaze over his entire body.  This wasn’t my boy.  They hadn’t determined if he was out of the water (no pun intended) and I went to him and whispered in his ear “I’m here… Stay here with me.”  I walked out the room and into the waiting area.  The Kid’s family started filing in to see him and check on me.  I wasn’t in the mood for conversation, hugs or explanations. I needed to know this would be alright despite how it looked.  As the early morning hours of the 23rd fell upon us and family members began to go home, I saw the opportunity I was looking for and I took it.  I just wanted it to be him and me.

I apologized for not being there and for his current state. I told him I needed to go home but I would be back before he woke up.  Getting comfortable in the chairs was almost next to impossible.  I guess the chairs were operating as designed. (Just a little work jargon to make me chuckle.) Something inside of me knew that everything would be alright. Around 3 in the morning, I tiptoed out of the hospital, cruised home to shower and get more comfortable.

The next morning he was awake and that evening they took the machines off him.  When he saw me he screamed my name in excitement.  The next words were etched in my heart and brain for eternity:  Him: Mom, we’re about to go swimming. Me: You already went.  Him: No, we didn’t.  I began to cry.  He’s brain damaged was all I could think.  It was later explained to me this could be blocked by the traumatic experience and all of the medication his little 6-year-old body was exposed to in the last 24 hours.  I accepted this way of thinking.  They moved him to another room for observation.  Sunday afternoon, we went home.


Outside of some slurred/incoherent speech and reduced cognitive impairment due only to the meds – he was perfect.  So, if you ever wonder – why I go to the mat about him it’s because I know he’s been given a second chance.  I refuse to sit by and watch him throw it away. So when I hear people say miracles aren’t real – I look or think of my son and tell them “every day is a miracle.”  Never stop believing in the impossible.

I bet you already knew the top 2 was going to have something to do with football.  It does but this time it has more to do with a player.  Education is extremely important to me.  So when I thought the BS “No Child Left Behind” program and desensitized guidance counselor were going to succeed, I knew I had to take action.  The events that happened in the pass 5 days confirmed I was not alone.

Division 1 Champions
The official close of the football season has come and gone.  We attended the banquet, broke bread with his teammates and picked up his awards.  While they celebrated, I kept my mind on what I needed to do to make sure that he achieved higher over the final months of his junior year. When my frustrations with his grades were expressed to the guidance counselor, he told me I had nothing to worry about.  Excuse my English- WHAT THE FUCK YOU MEAN?  I’m looking at the grades and the shit ain’t looking good.  It was then that I figured out why he was so calm.  As long as he continues to get Ds, he’ll graduate.  Not from this house with me as his mother.  Things had to get better before he went back for the 2nd semester. 

In a quick rant on Facebook, I expressed my disgust in his current scholastic patterns and explained how this effected the Christmas holiday for him.  A few nights prior, I let it rip in a no holds bar to his dad and stuck it in the mail for him to receive it pronto.  I was fed up to a new degree.  It kept feeling like we were running out of time and he couldn’t see it or didn’t think it was that serious.  I couldn’t wholehearted buy him gifts and he hasn’t given his best efforts in school this term. During the late night hour of Christmas Eve, a few good men spoke of helping me communicate the importance of education with him.  I appreciated the gesture and overwhelming concern.  What was I going to do to get through to him?   

December 26th the thread was revived with talks of when and where we were going to meet for this discussion.  WHAT?! They were serious about helping me.  I agreed to their terms and without giving any information about where we were going exactly, I got the kid up and ready for the conversation that could ultimately change his life.  We talked as we rode into our old next of the woods on the west side of the metro Detroit area.  As we walked into the restaurant, he was curious about our business here.  He caught a familiar face and smiled.  It was his football team’s Dr. Cecil Forbes.  I knew this would make him a little more comfortable in lieu of everything that was going on.  In addition, James Johnson, Calvin Evans and Shaka Senghor joined in for the CTJ talk.

We sat down and I opened the conversation.  Each volunteer took time to introduce their story to him and expound on the ways their lives have been impacted by their choices.  He was listening and instructed to take notes on what was being said.  I sat there and watched the chicken he ordered get cold but it never really held any interest for the 16 year-old that generally eats on sight.  He was entranced in the conversation these men were giving him. He was given an opportunity to speak and they instructed him on the manner in which he should speak to another man.  They informed him that they would be there for him to make sure he succeeded. At one point in the meeting, I broke down into tears after I explained the significance of his life.  This broke him down and pushed a more intense conversation.

I’m not here to expose everything that was discussed but I will say they got through to him.  As they prepared to end the dialogue, they exchanged numbers, pleasantries and informed him of a pending follow up.  They ordered him more chicken to take home.  I would say this is by far my most rewarding post in all of social media. (It’s even topped my Oprah tweet.). This wasn’t about me.  It had everything to do with the love of my life being this guy’s mother and the lengths I would go to for his success.

Never stop fighting for your kids. Moms never give up on your sons. I thank these four men for slowing down to talk to mine within 48 hrs of my cry. You are my brothers and I love you all for loving me and passing that love on to him. I’m optimistic that together we can and will inspire the changes needed for SUCCESS! 🙂

One of the things I like most about myself, is my ability to find the lesson I was meant to learn through each experience.  This year I learned how to never give up.  There was one financial emergency after another all year.  The lioness in me finally came out roaring instead of allowing others to win battle via my forfeiture.  I wanted to control my life.

I’m going to be honest with you.  I was very nervous about this post but I couldn’t accept running away from a major point in my story this year.  This spring I received a phone call from a creditor with regard to a vehicle I signed for to assist a “friend.”  The loan was suppose to be paid off in July of 2014 and they wanted to know what I was planning to do to resolve the debt.  credit-score-factors-checklist-and-bad-credit-repairAfter numerous calls to this person to find out what we were going to do, I kept receiving excuses and lies.  I had become frustrated with the whole ordeal and went to a really dark place.  Why, you might ask?  I just wanted this whole thing to be over with and because this person still believes we have a friendship after everything that I have been through.  I do not want anything to do with this person after we transfer this title out of my name.  A 25 year friendship gone down the drain thanks to them not honoring their end of the agreement and paying the remaining $2,500.  I worked so hard to establish my credit and this entire situation has ruined it.  The world isn’t over and I will repair my credit. Lesson – never include myself in the credit issues of friends.

In the summer, I received a notice stating I was being garnished for another unresolved debt from my past.  This company had filed the information and sent it to my old address from 2012.  I never received any notice except from my employer.  After multiple times of trying to file with the courts for a different payment, I was unsuccessful.  This was due to my need to retain all money from my wages to pay the rent and take care of my household.  I may not have told you all this but I’m very prideful.  The struggle was the realest I’ve ever seen.  I went to specific institutions for help during this hardship and was denied.  That’s when I realized I was not going to give up on this battle.  The reduction in funds caused a few non-payment of rent slips being placed on my door.  Our electrical supplier had left a disconnection notice on our door.  A few years ago, I would’ve packed up and moved back to my mom’s but I refused to give in.  Through continued communication with all parties involved even The Kid, I managed to keep everything operating as normal.  Lesson – never be afraid to communicate your circumstance to those involved.

Fall came around and I was still making ends meet somehow.  Still fighting the fight for my family and stability.  I got the call about the new job and I knew things were on their way back up.  four-goals-for-your-first-work-week-at-a-new-job_447_392711_0_14082996_500I focused on clearing balances and doing some nice things for The Kid because he went through this with me and reassured me always that things would be alright.  I was regaining a sense of normalcy.  However, after everything that I had been through, I needed to be smarter and more discipline with the money I was earning.  Lesson – the end is always closer than you think but be prepared for rough times if they arise again.

The last three quarters of the year allowed me to grow as a provider and communicator.  My responsibility is to make sure the well-being of my family is foremost.  There is a serious need for me to become more structured with regard to my financial situation.  This has turned me to seek out professional help to re-establish my credit and grow my savings.  This post wasn’t as hard as it seemed but I feel freer by sharing my story with you. I shed more than my share of tears during this time but they all fell to help me appreciate my victory dance.  🙂