I’m making lemonade with all my lemons

making lemonade with all my lemonsYou know the saying, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade? Well, I’ve got plenty of lemonade to make because so far 2012 has been worse than 2011. The truth is, life can be a bitch (pardon my French but I can actually say that because I am  French). All that matters is how you deal with it.

In January 2012 my husband suffered a traumatic brain injury as the result of a skiing accident. You can imagine the event was very trying for our family. Fortunately he fully recovered after two months of intense treatment. But the recovery also meant he was back to his old self, and it wasn’t a good thing. I won’t say much in order to protect his privacy but for the past few years, he’s made my life and my kids’ lives very difficult and painful. There are just so many hurtful things he could do or say, and so many lies he could tell until I ran out of love and trust. I tried to preserve the appearances for the kids’ sake but when I realized the situation was unhealthy and unsafe for them too, my job #1 as a mother was to ensure their well-being.

So I asked my husband to move out, which he did relunctantly. He sought help for his many problems and now claims to be a changed man. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly, and one thing I’ve learned in life is that people can run but they can’t hide who they really are inside. And it’s not pretty. My kids have adapted to the new situation quite well considering the circumstances, even though some days have been easier than others. My kids are really smart and have made the best out of a terrible situation. I’m so, SO proud of them. I’m proud of their resilience, their flexibility, their inner strength and their positive attitude in these times of insecurity. I hope they grow up to be wonderful, caring, loving men. They’ve earned it.

A month ago, my husband asked to move back in with us. So much damage has been done on my end, it’s irreparable so I declined. Soon after that, he apparently found true love. I also found out he’d been dating other women during our separation. Knowing this makes me SO glad I didn’t take him back, when I realize how little our 9-year-old relationship meant to him.

So I’ve been taking things one day at a time, focusing on healing and helping my kids being happy and healthy. I’m very, very blessed to be surrounded by wonderful friends and family, who have offered more help, support and guidance I could ever have asked for. THANK YOU ALL for being there for me in these dark times. I’m looking forward to plenty of brighter days.

But the brighter days are not here yet, because of the health concerns I’m now facing. What did I tell you about life being a bitch? It’s relentless! For more than a month now, my lymph nodes have started to swell, not just in the usual places but also random places, such as the back of my neck, under my collarbone and by my breast. Since my mom is a cancer survivor, the thought of breast cancer is always at the back of my mind. After a lot of probing and testing, I may be in the clear for this one, but I still have no explanation for the swelling. So I’ve had more blood tests and a neck CAT scan and as of today, still no diagnostic. The next step is a lymph node biopsy, which takes two separate appointments. Only the biopsy will clearly identify if I have lymphoma, some type of cancer, or something else. Lovely.

The weirdest thing, which may be “good” news for me or just a coincidence, is that my kids have slightly swollen lymph nodes all over too. Just like me, they have no other symptoms. The pediatrician just ordered a bunch of tests, some of them different from mine. She’s hoping the three of us actually have some kind of bacterial, viral or fungal infection causing these symptoms. I’ll be acting as the family guinea pig with my biopsy. I’d take an infection over lymphoma or cancer anytime. Only time will tell, and the waiting is the worst.

So there you have it, the cat is out of the bag. More than half the year has gone by and I still have hope the year will end better than how it started. My son is starting first grade today and I’m as excited and anxious as he is. Life goes on, and it’s up to us to enjoy the ride or not. As Leo Tolstoy once said, “If
you want to be happy, be.”

The song below is the one I think about every single day when it comes to me and my kids, and our situation. Because when life gives you lemons, somewhere over the rainbow “trouble melts like lemon drops”.

35 responses to “I’m making lemonade with all my lemons

  1. Oh I am crying reading this – you beautiful, strong, amazing woman. My thoughts and prayers are with you and I wish so much that I could give you a hug. Love Julie

  2. A very trying year so far indeed :( You are a very strong person, so I have no doubts that your lemonade will be epic!

  3. Oh, my, I’m so sorry to hear all that. What a horribly difficult year for you. But what an admirable attitude and courage you possess. I so much hope all goes well with your biopsy. I went through something similar in college–lymph nodes all over, including in places where they shouldn’t be. Turns out it was due to a virus, thankfully. I am sending positive thoughts your way. Stay strong. What a wonderful role model you are for your children.

  4. Des bizzoux ma zine! J’espère que cette période sombre se terminera sans trop traîner

  5. This must have been a really difficult post for you to write. You are very brave and I applaud you.

    There is one reason your boys have turned out so well and are coping so well and that’s because you are a brilliant and supportive mum. You have made the difference and you will continue to do so.

    You made absolutely the right decision with your husband. The proof is in his behaviour.

    I hope you have your biopsy and the results very soon and that you find out where you are at.
    I think the fact that your boys also have swollen lymph nodes is a good sign.

    Know that I am often thinking about you and I really wish you well from the bottom of my heart.

    The good times are due to roll…

    • Thank you SO MUCH for your kind words, Sarah, you really get me. You’re right, it was very difficult to write this post and I’ve been postponing writing it for several months. But I’m glad I waited until now, especially because of the recent events that bring more clarity and confirm my decision was the right one. And thank you for thinking of me often. I’d take your swollen foot over my swollen lymph nodes any day. ;-)

      • My swollen feet are completely healed (heeled?!? Sorry I couldn’t not write that (it’s the child in me!)) And I hope your swollen lymph nodes recover just as superbly.

  6. Catherine Johnson

    Oh my goodness you poor thing. Let’s hope the lumps are stress related and nothing serious. After a year like that there’s no wonder you have physical symptoms. Fingers crossed its nothing serious.

  7. I’m so proud of you. I know you’ve been extremely busy and have tried to carve out some time to work on this as you could.

    You are on a different journey than what you had planned, but you are doing a great job. Now you don’t have to carry around his emotional baggage anymore.

    As for your health, you are a strong person and can face whatever comes at you. So far, you’ve had good test results and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it stays that way! I’m here for you as always!

    • Thanks, Andrea, you’re the best! You’re right about discarding emotional baggage. I know I still have a long way to go because I can dump it all but I’m heading in the right direction.

      And thanks for the encouragement on the health issues. You know you’ll be the first one to know what happens after the surgeon’s visit. OK, maybe the second one, after my mom. ;-)

  8. Best of luck, Milka. I wish you brighter days ahead. You deserve them . . . by the boatload.

  9. My heart breaks for you, but am hoping life starts getting better now. It does seem that when it rains, it pours. Challenges stack up and force us to dig deep for strength so that we grow. Good luck with your biopsy; my prayers are with you and your boys.

  10. Milka…Thank you so much for sharing your lemonade with us…it won’t “solve” any of your problems…but it is wonderful to be able to speak out and share troubles and hardships…it can ease some of the weight on you…and it can help others who may be going through similar trials.
    No one will have the answers…but it sounds like you have been amazingly strong and courageous, for both yourself and your sons! My heart is with you.
    Many times, when people are going through extremely stressful situations, the body can release stuff (hormones, etc.) that can cause all kinds of reactions…the body is an amazing pharmacopia. Perhaps these symptoms will go away before the docs even figure out what it was. :)

    • Thanks, Vivian. I do hope others going through the same thing find the courage to walk away before too much damage is done. It took me a while to find out our relationship was based on lie after lie and there’s just so much any person should put up with to preserve their dignity.

      As for the lymph nodes being swollen out of stress, I doubt it, especially since my kids have similar symptoms. I want to hope we all got something messing us up but with test results being normal so far, I feel it’s going to be a long process before we have an answer.

      • Any chance it is new carpeting or new furniture or something like that…or did they do tests for that type of reaction…or do you have nothing new at home. :) Or mold or other fungal type problem?

      • Not that I can think of, but maybe something we caught on vacation in early July. I’ve even thought of West Nile virus because we’ve had lots of mosquitoes in the house, but I haven’t been tested for that. I hope we get to the bottom of it soon.

  11. Good luck today!

  12. Pingback: A health update | Perfecting motherhood

  13. Wow, Milka. Just, wow.

    My heart goes out to you as you deal with all of these challenges. I am really impressed by your strength in writing about your experiences and I hope that you and your boys make it over these road bumps as easily and smoothly as possible.

    • Thanks for your words of encouragement, Kristen. It wasn’t an easy post to write and it took me a few months to do it, but I felt the time had come. There are still a lot of bumps ahead of us when we get to court, and my job will be to protect the kids as much as I can from further damage, but I’m not looking forward to it.

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