Long overdue

I’ve debated starting a blog for a few years.  I always find a good excuse not to (too busy…fearful of what others might think…lack of motivation).  I decided with everything that has been and currently is going on with my life, a blog might help bring it all together.  Putting yourself out there is a very humbling experience and at this point I have nothing to lose. 

I’m on the move most of the time.  I can’t stand still for very long.  I get bored easily.  I like a challenge.  I especially enjoy a challenge if everything in the world seems to be against me.  I LEARN EVERYTHING THE HARD WAY.  I’m stubborn…I got that from my mama.

After a few unsuccessful semesters at ETSU I made the decision to quit school in the middle of my spring ’03 semester.  I moved to Boone, NC and joined my friends on Widespread Panic tour.  I got a job at the Mellow Mushroom, made great money and blew every dime on my fun adventures.  In the winter months I ski patrolled at Sugar Mountain.  I loved this job more than anything on the planet and if I could, I would have made this a career.  Unfortunately, ski patrolling (especially on the east coast) doesn’t offer much financial stability.  I worked 90 hours a week and spent every day on my snowboard.  How could life get any better than this?  Two years went by and I decided it was time to try the college thing again; no one in my family had a degree and I wanted to be the first.  I enrolled at Appalachian State and experienced a successful two years of academia.  I graduated in 2007 with a B.S. in Recreation Management (big surprise, I know).  I was stoked.  I was also hell bent on getting out west.

My boyfriend at the time worked with me at Sugar Mountain.  We were avid snowboarders and spent most of our days eating, sleeping and breathing snowboarding.  He was offered a job at one of the best resorts in the country, Mammoth Mountain, and I soon followed with a job on ski patrol.  Nothing in my life will ever compare to the feeling I had when I realized I was moving out west.  There is one world to describe it…EPIC.  My mother was a little less stoked when she found out her baby girl was planning on moving 2400 miles away.

Fast forward a few months…after 4 days of driving, I had arrived in Mammoth Lakes, California.  My dad made the trip with me (thank you, dad).  My boyfriend had moved two months earlier to start his job and find us suitable housing.  It was real.  I had arrived…or so I thought.  I was finally doing my own thing and I thought for sure I knew it all.  Little did I know the next few years would be the best and worst years of my life.

Not too long after the move, my relationship ended like the sinking of the Titanic.  It was one of the most emotionally unsettling disasters of my life.  I won’t elaborate, but it wasn’t good.  It not only affected me, but it put a huge strain on my parents.  They were 2400 miles away and couldn’t do anything to help me.  I’m not a parent, but I can imagine it’s tough watching your child go through what I was going through at the time.  My mother was a wreck.  She was the kind of person that felt the emotions of others just as strong as her own.  It wasn’t a positive time for any of us…not even my dog.

Fast forward again…spring 2008.  It was my day off and I was headed to the mountain to ride.  My brother called a few times, but I was in a hurry to get first chair and didn’t answer.  A few minutes later my dad called…I answered…there was a long pause.  “Your mom is being rushed to the ER…she had a stroke.”  Seriously?  My stomach dropped.  I immediately turned on panic mode.  What the hell was I gonna do from across the country?  We exchanged words.  I went numb.  I turned my car around and went home.  I laid in bed for the remainder of the day, waiting for updates from my dad and brother.  A few days later I flew home to see mom.  A friend and co-worker just happened to have a gazillion flyer miles and lovingly gave me a round trip ticket to be with my family.  I will never be able to thank him enough for this…never ever.

My mother fell in her hospital room and managed to rack up a subdural bleed.  The doctors were still trying to figure out why she had stroke-like symptoms upon admittance…apparently they DON’T know everything 😉  When I arrived at the hospital, she definitely had something going on…she wasn’t herself.  I stayed with her until bedtime.  I returned in the morning to find my mother unable to move her legs, slurring her words and suffering from the “worst headache ever”.  I knew this wasn’t normal.  I asked her nurse what was going on and she replied with this:  “She has a little blood on her brain.  She’s older and it takes time for it to heal.  She’s fine.  Nothing to worry about.”  I called bullshit.  I continued to watch my mom deteriorate and never once saw a doctor of any kind.  When my mother couldn’t put her fork to her mouth during dinner, I decided to take matters in my own hands.  I called risk management and demanded a neuro consult.  Something she should have had already.  I knew something was very wrong and I was furious.  Something was wrong…they rushed her into emergency surgery and discovered a clot had covered the entire right side of her brain.  She nearly died on the table.  The doctors told us to make our peace…she would most likely pass before morning. 

To spare the multitude of paragraphs it would take to explain the next 7 months, I will move you up to fall 2008.  Mom basically used up all of her 9 lives over the summer.  In and out of hospitals, rehab facilities and nursing homes.  Dead.  Alive.  Dead.  Alive.  She’s a vegetable.  She’s unresponsive.  She doesn’t know my name.  She doesn’t know her name.  The combination of a TBI and what turned out to be end-stage liver disease (the cause of stroke-like symptoms) turned my mother into a paramedic textbook.  I was in Mammoth throughout the summer and kept up with her progress via hundreds of phone calls from my brother and dad.  They definitely had their work cut out for them.  Being so far away really screwed with me…I was a wreck.  I was in the middle of yet another explosively damaging relationship and trying to deal with my mother’s illness from a country’s length away.

She got better.  We knew she would never fully recover and the liver disease would drag her down, but we were excited to get another chance with her.  Growing up, I had a love/hate relationship with my mother and I was determined to come clean with her.  I apologized for everything and we became best friends.  She was my rock…always had been…it just became more clear at this point.  I spoke to her multiple times a day.  I was so motivated and moved by her determination and strong will.  I was proud of her for never giving up.

Spring 2010.  I had just ended another relationship with one of the kindest, most selfless people I have ever known…it just wasn’t meant to be.  In typical “Megan Fashion”, I was pretty devastated.  I had to make a decision to end something that I knew in my heart wasn’t going anywhere.  I think that’s much harder than being kicked to the curb.  Anyway, I get a phone call from my dad.  He has bad news.  Mom has breast cancer…and they kept it from me for months because they didn’t want to bog me down with more bad news.  I felt like such an ass.  I was mad at them for keeping it from me and mad at myself for being so preoccupied with my own mess.  Oh, and they mentioned one other thing…she had surgery and they found stage III lymphoma in the process.  My mom was going to die.  Period.

I had no money and no direction.  I didn’t know what to do.  I had to work to live, but my mom was dying.  I flip flopped on my decision to stay or go.  I decided to stay.  I thought I had time.  Looking back, I think I was just in denial.  We had been told many times “she is going to die”…it was like the boy who cried wolf. 

The oncologist talked my parents into chemo…bastard.  I didn’t have the heart to discourage my father from his decision.  Mom was at the point where she would agree with anything.   She very rarely had lucid moments at this stage.  Dad had undying hope…and I admired that.  I was jaded and realistic.  I knew chemo would kill her.  I just didn’t realize it would kill her so fast.

April 22nd, 2010.  Mom’s birthday.  She had her second chemo treatment.  A week prior, she had her first treatment which sent her to the hospital.  Her body couldn’t take it.  Stage III lymphoma with end-stage liver disease…what asshole would push chemo?  Apparently, her doctor was that asshole.  I spoke to her on the phone, told her happy birthday and promised I would talk to her once the treatment was over.  She was out of it.  She told me, “chemo is kind of fun”.  I laughed and told her I loved her.  That was the last conversation I had with her.  The next day she was in the hospital.  Two weeks later, my mother passed in her sleep.  She went out of this world blissfully unaware of the fact she even in the hospital.  She didn’t even suffer…thank God.

I came home for the funeral.  I was demolished.  My family was demolished.  We knew this day would come, but you can never be fully prepared to lose a loved one.  I stayed in Tennessee for a month.  I buried my mother.  I flew back to Mammoth.  I panicked.  I sold everything I had, filled my car full of what remained and drove the 2400 miles back to Blountville, Tennessee.  I moved home.  The last place I ever wanted to be.

LONG story short (if you even attempted to read this far), my mother’s death trashed me.  At 30 years old I had no idea who I was.  I thought I did, but didn’t have a clue.  I moved away from a place I had fallen in love with to come back to podunk, hillbilly East Tennessee.  I had promised myself I’d never look back as I crossed over to the westside.  Never say never.  You’ll eat your words someday.

I was miserable.  I moved in with my father, brother and 11 year-old nephew.  We were a “family” again.  I felt like a failure.  I felt alone.  All my childhood friends were married and had families of their own.  All of a sudden my life felt very empty.  I had a crappy job that I hated, made no money and had no friends.  I feel sorry for the Williams’…thanks Jamie and Tony…they heard me bitch and moan for months and months.  I missed mom.  I felt guilty.  I was angry.  I was 30, alone, living with my father and back in Blountville.  Awesome.  One ticket to the pity party, please.

Almost two years later I am in paramedic school, working a job that I love to the core, finding new friends, connecting with old friends and making a new life for myself.  I would have never been able to attend medic school out west and probably never wanted to if it hadn’t been for my mother.  Her passing made me realize a multitude of things…primarily to live life to the fullest.  She always pushed me to do what I wanted and supported me no matter how bad I messed up. 

I’m currently in the toughest semester of medic school, working full-time, attending clinicals full-time, and just started dive rescue training.  If this wasn’t enough, I’m in my second week of half marathon training…something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time.  I have every iron in the fire and I couldn’t be happier. 

I have an amazing support group made up of old and new friends.  I have started training with people who motivate me and support me and understand why I do what I do.  Running has always been an important part of my life…now it’s a must.  Without it, I go crazy.  I’m not the best, not very fast and suffer on a good deal of my runs…but I’m doing it.  Running helped me survive my worst breakups, my mother’s illness and my mother’s death.  Running was all I had when I had no one.  There is nothing that compares to the feeling I have after a good, tough run.  No synthetic drug can compare. 

If you’ve made it this far, you probably run…or at least do something comparable.  Maybe you don’t run and just got so bored you wanted to see what I had to say.  Either way, my story helped set the stage for why I’m even blogging in the first place.  Running saved me.  I have been to hell and back…several times.  I am still here, surviving and making a life for myself.  I am a Blountville girl, twice removed and back again.  I am strong and determined, just like my mother.  I am an athlete.  I am a runner.  You can run….but you CAN’T hide. 

This is my story…

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Niki says:

    Megan, what a powerful story! I'm so sorry to hear about all that you and your family has gone through. I think that you will find writing your blog as therapeutic as running…I know I do! 🙂 Hit me up if you ever need a running partner. I'm surely not the fastest either!

  2. Kristen says:

    Wow Megan. Amazing powerful story. Glad you found your happy place.

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