Sunday, April 20, 2014

Remembering my Girl's 1st Easter/Birthday

I found a page from one of her mini baby books, where I'd written a few notes. Here's what it said..

"We had your 1st Birthday party on Good Friday so Aunt Bee could be there. Granny and Papa Earnest were at MawMaw and PawPaw Scoggins' house along with Liz and Richard, Nick, Renee, Ronni, and Savanna. Daddy had to work but he dropped in for the birthday party.

We had an Easter Egg hunt before the birthday party. You found all of your eggs hidden for you and some hidden for the older children. 

After the egg hunt it was time for the birthday party! You were dressed in a birthday dress Granny"

I suppose the rest of the pages are long gone thanks to my ex husband...so I will continue the rest on what I can remember..

Her little dress was black velveteen. There used to be a picture of her sitting up, holding a yellow balloon. I don't know if its in the box he sent me or not but I remember it. After the egg hunt she was changed into the floral dress above as her Granny wanted her to have separate birthday and Easter dresses. 

Most memorable on that day were (A) I dropped the poor child's birthday cake on the floor! I was knelt down, balancing it on one leg for my sister Liz to take a picture. The theme was lady bugs. I heard Angela's dad coming in the back door and knowing from a previous fight that he did not want to be there and wanted to get in and out quickly or he would throw a fit, I became very nervous and the cake slipped! I remember bursting into tears and my late brother n law Richard, digging into the cake anyway - he saved the party! 

(B) Angela took her first steps that day. My other sister Bonnie some how managed to get her to walk from her to me and back and forth. Of course she didn't walk again until 15 months, but I still remember her first steps being on that day. I used to have film of her later walking for a chocolate Easter bunny while at her Granny's house. I no longer have those home videos. 

So my little angel, whom the doctors didn't give a chance, then sent home with grim expectations of never walking or talking, proved them wrong. Now, nearly 15 years later, she is still proving those doctors wrong! 

Happy Easter Angela! Dai and I love you lots!!! 


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Why Scattered Pieces? Part 4 (last part)

Things began to look up once I found the fire within to continue. There was a life to live and I was going to live it! I took hold of my daughter's hand and became the mother she deserved. I home schooled her for several years and we were inseparable (hard to believe she now lives 300 miles away, but they do grow up). 

Anyway, some things don't change. I still love my daughter with all of my heart and I am still very passionate about photography!

 I also found an outlet to my pain through writing. As my long term memories returned, I realized that most were not worth remembering and so I wrote from my bleeding heart. 

When The Heart Bleeds Poetry

I also wrote and published a spiritual side of my journey. Just me and the Lord walking through my past and present. Unfortunately that book is not available at this time but a re-write is in the works! 

After I wrote through some of the heartache, I truly began to enjoy life again. I would spend my days seeking out nature, literally laying on the warm concrete watching the clouds go by, waiting for my body to heal. 

Finally at the end of 2011 or early 2012 (not sure which), my then husband found a good paying job and moved us to an apartment (3 STORIES UPSTAIRS!) It was do or die at that point. The apartment was right on the water and the landscape decorated with rose bushes. There was so much photographic potential and opportunities to sit by the water and meditate. 

I made the firm decision to lean my cane up in the corner of the basement and walk away from it for good. Sadly I did have to go back for it a few times as a fall down the stairs knocked me for a loop and set my recovery back - but the point is I walked away from that life, that tragedy, that trial, instead of staying in it. 

So how am I today you ask? It's been 10 and a half years now since that shove changed my life forever. I am and will most likely forever me in chronic muscular pain. I still get severe migraines from time to time. The majority of my long term memory has returned (though parts, especially dates, are sketchy). I used "the newsboys" music to piece together time frames of when I was enjoying a particular song and what was going on in my life at that time. (Good thing I was a long time fan!) 

My memories of the pastoral sexual assault came back with a vengeance and rough diagnosis of PTSD as well as many more memories I was probably better off without. It took several years for my voice to strengthen. I still cannot sing like I once could. My short term memory never returned though it did lengthen a little. I have about 5 minutes of retaining information before it's lost, unless I'm tired or over stimulated. Then it doesn't work at all. 

If I'm not constantly reminded I forget people. For instance, I meet a new friend, then we don't speak again for a week. I will not know that friend after a week's gone by. I do not recognize faces. I do not remember names. I still write myself notes and before making an important call I write down who I am, who I'm talking to, my reason for calling, and important information that might be asked of me. Other wise, I might lose it all in just a short waiting time. 

I think the turning point in my life was when I took a Greyhound from Birmingham Alabama to Tallahassee Florida to meet the man of my dreams and the best thing in the world happened! I recognized him as soon as he walked in. I was terrified, having only seen pictures, that I would not and might become a burden. I saw that face and fell in love...My life with my new husband is almost stress free compared to my former marriage. I still have little control over my emotions and after all the heartache we have faced as a couple, it's been rough and I know I'm not there yet, but I'm getting there..

Best part is ~ I'm going to get wherever I'm going with a loving man/husband/best friend, at my side.. No matter where I go from here, I know I don't go alone.. I have someone who isn't afraid to get cut while helping me gather all the scattered pieces of my shattered life and that has made all the difference. <3 

~Sunshine Biondo~ 




Why Scattered Pieces? (Part 3)

A picture kept only to see how far I've come
As it turns out, I don't listen very well. I'm sure my husband would agree. Oh, I bought a cane. I remember trying to cross the Walmart parking lot with a cart of groceries, a giddy 4 year old, and a cane! Not an easy task folks...It was obvious that if I wanted to be any kind of mother to this child that was (according to the scar on my stomach - indeed mine), then I was going to have to lose the cane. The question was, how was I to lose the cane without losing what was left of my mind?

There were bumps along the way! I couldn't remember anything from the past 5 years. It's like something broke into my computer brain and wiped out 5 years of memories, including marriage, child birth, and a sexual assault. Looking back, maybe it was God's way of giving my mind a break so I wouldn't have a break down. It was hard though - just not knowing. 

I limped around in a fog, chronic pain crippled me, memories were scattered, and loneliness plagued me! 

Some where between the episodes of "Little House on the Praire" and "Jesse Duplantis" as I spent almost 3 years in bed feeling sorry for myself, I just got tired of feeling like a nothing in this world. I began to surround myself with the color red. Red is associated with blood and fire! I needed a fire in me. I needed to be engulfed in power, strength, determination, passion, a desire to love and be loved. I knew that love wasn't going to come from my husband at that time, so I poured that love into my little girl. 

I got up out of that bed and I hugged my daughter (even though she was a stranger to me). I started forcing myself to get up and walk through the pain. I created a place (by then we'd lost our home and were living in a basement, my daughter and I separate from her father), but I created a living space full of labels. I labeled every cabinet, every drawer, every box, every shelf, everything! I simply accepted that I would not be able to remember where things went so I labeled the whole living space! 

I wrote notes to myself (sadly I lost dozens of friends and family members during that time). I had to write myself notes to put by the phone..."so and so passed away on so and so date", so I would know not to dial the number. Each time the grief would wash over me as I was reminded of the losses, but it was the only way to avoid feeling stupid - ever dialed the phone and asked to speak to a dead friend? It's not pretty! 

Finally by that Autumn, my daughter was 6 or 7 then, I had regained enough strength, courage, and determination to make new memories with my girl! The old ones may have been lost, but I had this beautiful little girl who needed a mother. She needed me! So we took a trip about an hour from home, just the two of us, to a Fall Festival. I can't locate the pictures, they may be long gone, but I remember taking them. There was one where she was sitting on a hay bundle eating corn on the cob off of a stick! Then another with the praire actresses and one where she got to strum a banjo! There were so many pictures taken that day that I realized how I was going to get through this ordeal. 

My daughter was my reason for waking up each day!
Creating New Memories with my Girl! 

and 

My new passion for photography was my reason for fighting through the pain! 
one of my first more serious photographs

Part 4 coming soon 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Why Scattered Pieces? (Part 2)

"Mommy, I wet my bed and Bunny is wet too." a small voice at my bedside squeaked. 

She was beautiful. She had the bluest eyes and soft brown curls with a small dimple on her little cheek. She stood beside my bed holding a little wet stuffed animal by the ears. What an adorable child! But why was she calling "Mommy" ?

My mind began to go through names of children I'd taught over the years. I could not come up with a name for this little one! I went into "teacher's mode" , figured I'd quickly throw back the covers and rush to the aide of this darling and her wet bed and bunny dilemma. However when I went to push back the covers, my right hand didn't work. I brushed it off quickly and pushed them back with my left. It was then I realized that I was unable to lift my right leg as well. 

My confusion built as I dragged myself through the hallway of a strange house. I remembered hand painting my bedroom walls blue to look like the sky and yet these walls were beige. The rest of the house made no sense either. I asked the little girl what her name was. "My name is Angela, but my mommy calls me Angel." 

"Who you ma-mee?" I asked her in a weak and unstable voice.

"You are Silly Mommy!" she said with a giggle as she skipped into the kitchen. "Daddy will be home soon. You should cook breakfast." 

I stumbled around the kitchen, completely disoriented. I had so many questions going through my mind: "Who am I?" , "Who is this child?", "Where am I?", "I have a husband?", "Do I know how to cook?" 

My curiosity built as I managed to pull somewhat of a breakfast together and an old friend from youth group walked through the front door. I wondered what "Earnie" was doing here and continued to be baffled about everything else. I tried to tell him with what voice I had, that something was wrong and I needed help. He just mumbled something under his breath, went into the computer room, and shut the door. 

The following days were a blur of pain. I felt trapped inside a box that was growing darker by the moment. I couldn't find my way out of that box and I wasn't sure what waited for me on the outside. I realized that though I could not write clearly, I was able to read. I began reading journals that I had written over the years. Who knew I had been writing them to myself for future reference? 

My journals talked about a special friend whom I called "Momma Donna" and as I searched through my own address book I found her phone number. Before calling her I used a business card I'd come across in my purse to call my doctor and make an appointment. Two weeks had passed since I woke up to my new life and still I had very few answers. 

My doctor wanted to see me right away. I left my daughter with my parents (who thankfully I did have memory of) and very slowly made my way to the doctor's office using my left side to drive. Initially it was believed I had had a stroke. I was sent to get an MRI which I screamed and cried through as they adjusted my aching body in the directions they needed it. Then back to the doctor's office I went. 

I sat quietly counting the tiles on the floor repeatedly as he went on and on about something he coined the "domino affect". He questioned me about my past and I tried to tune him out. My mind refused to hear what he was saying. This wasn't happening. Everything was a bad dream! 

"Lisa! This is serious! You need to answer these questions so I can help you!" he said sternly. 

I admitted to him that there were things (not worth mentioning here) in my past that could contribute to head injuries. The look on his face seemed perplexed. He rubbed the top of his head so much I expected his gray hair to start falling out if he continued. He confessed that he had never seen anything like my case and all he knew to do was treat the symptoms. He prescribed me medication for ADHD to help gather my scattered pieces and calm my anxious thoughts. He treated my racing heart with a beta blocker. He gave me pills to take for the pain (which I chose not to have filled). Then he explained that it was impossible to know if the damage to my brain was to be temporary or permanent. He said that over the years small injuries lie dormant until something triggers them (in my case whiplash from being shoved), then they all trigger in a domino affect causing a chain reaction of injuries to the brain all at once! He advised me to buy a cane and learn to adapt.....

Part 3 coming soon 

~Sunshine Biondo~ 


Why Scattered Pieces? (Part 1)

Some of you, who don't know me quite as well, might not guess the reasoning behind the title of this blog. "Scattered Pieces" originated several years ago, 2004 to be exact. It was a former blog which I used daily to update and express my extreme feelings and thoughts toward what happened to me during that time! 

Scattered Pieces is what I woke up to one January day 2004. I had been shoved by a pastor the night before, driven myself and my 4 year old daughter home, crawled into my bed, and woke up to a new life the next morning! 

Many, many readers followed me through the years of recovery that followed, and I am forever grateful to my readers old and new because you guys remind me that I'm not alone and that my life does have purpose (even if I don't know what that purpose is sometimes). 

So for those who don't know or maybe just haven't heard the whole story, here's a brief summary of what happened to me (whether you believe it or not!) 

It was January 2004 and my daughter and I were at church. I had specifically gone to thank the church for helping us through Christmas financially and because of their donations, I was able to get my daughter to the doctor without hesitation when she had an infection. They caught it before it entered her lungs, otherwise she would have spent Christmas in the hospital.So that Sunday night, I waited until church ended and approached the pastor with a heart filled with gratitude. 

Unfortunately, it had slipped my mind that I had previously survived a pastoral sexual assault, had told this pastor about it, and had been labeled a "church liability". Equally unfortunate, this particular pastor had not forgotten that I was a liability and when I went to give him a great big hug to say "thank you", he placed a hand on each of my shoulders and shoved me backward. I felt the effects of the violent motion instantly. Pain filled inside my head as if my brain had exploded! 

I remember running from the church, gripping my head with one hand, and holding the hand of my daughter with the other. A man in the foyer asked me if I was okay. I remember screaming that I was not and ran to my car. The drive home was excruciating. Each time my right foot pressed down, the pain would shoot through my leg as if the blood vessels were bursting and some alien was going to emerge through my skin (Yes! It was that painful!) The last memory I have of that night is crawling across my kitchen floor to my bed. Not knowing what was happening to me, I laid on my bed listening to "the newsboys" music, the song on "He Reigns". Then I closed my eyes on that life.

Part 2 - coming soon - 

~Sunshine Biondo~ 


The Nurse Called Her a Fireball! (a very special day)

It was August 1998 when I found out, my heart was still heavy with grief after suffering a miscarriage December of the year before, just days before Christmas. Things in my first marriage were not going well by then, it was obvious I had made a terrible mistake but based upon the Biblical beliefs I was raised in, it would have been the ultimate sin to divorce. We were nearing our first year anniversary when I called him at work and told him he was going to be a daddy. His reaction at that time (while coworkers smiled on), was "Wow!" 

The shock continued through the first prenatal appointment. I was 8 weeks along, 18 years old, scared and excited. He was 23, and seemed to want to be a father about as much as he wanted to be a husband, which wasn't much. Shortly after we arrived home he shouted at me "you need to get a job!" 

This after telling me that "no wife of mine will ever work". 

I was baffled and as he began to stay out longer and longer at night, I slowly began to realize that I was alone. I'm not sure if it was my years of starving myself in high school, the stress of being married to a man who seemingly hated me, trying to be perfect for his higher society family, or just bad luck, but the pregnancy immediately changed from joy to a high risk situation to be survived! 

24/7 "morning sickness" plagued me. I threatened miscarriage with pains and irregular bleeding at 3 months, again at 4 and a half months, and yet again at 5 months. My body wasn't getting enough nutrients to provide for both of us and kept trying to reject my daughter! At 7 months, pre-term labor began and I was ordered to bed rest and put on a prescription to slow the process. Words cannot express how lonely those days were. I was sick all day, sick all night, desperate for someone to bring me just a cup of ice chips! My "husband" was out with friends. Heck, his friends called and checked on me more than he did! 

Finally on April 24, 1999, 2 complete weeks passed the due date, I was in labor. I didn't realize I was in labor, my oldest sister pointed out during a visit to our parent's house. The contractions never became strong, just enough for her to notice. I called the husband at work and we went to the hospital an hour from our home. Upon arriving, everything seemed normal (for them at least). I wasn't in pain, just a tiny bit of discomfort. I was told I was dilated 5cm, 1/2 way there and that it looked like I was destined for an easy birth. 

Then it happened......

The fetal monitor went silent. They lost her heart beat. The nurse rolled me back and forth, poked at my belly, thumped it a few times, then quickly hit the button beside my bed. "Code Blue!" I had no idea what that even meant but my instinct told me that it wasn't good. My instinct was correct. 

Before I knew it, a flood of nurses rushed in and had me flipped over on the bed in a less than glamorous position with my rear up in the air. I cried as they inserted the I.V and catheter and wheeled me frantically down to the O.R. They hooked me up to a bunch of monitors and began shaving me. When I inquired they said that nothing was wrong, which I knew was a lie. 

Within moments the husband arrived, dressed in scrubs and it seemed seconds later my daughter was taken via emergency c-section. Again, nothing but silence filled the room. A tear rolled down my cheek as I realized that my little angel was not breathing and out of the corner of my eye I could see doctors working on her. I felt all the strength leave my body as a concerned look crossed over my doctor's eyes. He had a clearer view and better knowledge of what was happening. After moments passed and still she did not cry, he gently took my hand, bowed his head, and began praying in a mumbled tone. 

I prayed along, and our prayers were interrupted by a weak, gurgled cry. Nurses cheered, someone clapped, my doctor patted me on the shoulder, and the husband looked relieved. They wheeled her over in a little enclosed box and encouraged me to touch her. I remember being shocked at how big she was! I had only gained a few pounds and she had been estimated to weigh 4 or 5 pounds at the most, however, there she was, taking up almost every square inch of the cubicle at 8 pounds even! 

I slowly reached in to touch her soft hand. The moment I felt her skin, it was very cold, and then her chest went flat right before my eyes. A siren buzzed and she was wheeled out of the room. The husband followed. 

Meanwhile, I had machines of my own buzzing and a very concerned doctor trying to put me back together. I blacked out from exhaustion and woke up in a recovery area. The husband was at my side and as I opened my eyes a little, a doctor asked him to step away from me so they could talk. I guess they didn't realize that I was awake because they spoke as if I wasn't even there. The doctor asked my husband to give blood and he said to call his mom because she likes to give blood. They told him that I had a 50% chance of survival but they could not give the baby any chance of survival. Again they asked him to give blood to help us and again he told them to call his mother. 50% and 0% was the final word as the doctor walked away. 

As the night carried on, nurses tried repeatedly to get me to feel anything, alcohol pads, cold water, ice, but I had no feeling from the neck down. Finally they put me in my own room and the nurse explained I had lost a lot of blood and wasn't reacting well to the epidural I'd been given several hours earlier. She explained my medicine, demonstrating how to use the morphine drip for pain. She told me not to use it more than twice an hour or they would try to get something stronger, then she left me to rest and regain feeling. 

When she returned, she noted that I'd not used the morphine at all and that my upper body had some tingling. I asked about the baby but she had no answers. On day two the unused morphine was removed and had a little more feeling but was still very weak. Thus the blood work began! It seemed every hour upon the hour some nurse was in my room drawing blood for some reason or another. I would ask about the baby and get no response. The husband would tell me the baby looked good. Family began to visit, all telling me the baby looked good, but I didn't believe them. Finally on day 3 the head nurse started to draw blood from the same arm they'd been draining for two days, and she drew no blood at all. She removed the needle, told me that it was ridiculous to keep me, and signed for my release! 

So on Day 3 I was released and of course my first thought was to get to my baby! There was a shift change and I was quickly told I still could not go. I was hooked up to a breast pump but my milk wasn't coming in. (Because I believe in giving credit where credit is due, I will now set aside my extreme anger toward my ex husband and thank him) I would like to thank my ex husband for taking the time to video tape our daughter because without it my milk may have dried up and I would have never had to the joy of nursing her. Once I heard her cry on the video, my heart leaped for joy realizing she was alive! 

Finally after my full release and the nurses shift change, I held my little girl in my arms. The thing I remember most about that moment is believing that I would never let her go again (I didn't figure in the part about her growing up way faster than I expected and choosing to live 300 miles away from me), but anyway, that was a precious moment. Sadly the moment had to end and the time came for the husband and I to travel back to our home and do some laundry and errands. The walk back and forth from my room to the NICU was a bit more painful than expected and I was more than ready for my prescribed pain relief. 

We traveled back to our home, after renting a room in the hospital for parents of ICU children. The husband didn't feel a thing at all as he swerved lane to lane and crossed railroad tracks as if he were trying to get the car to fly! First stop once in town, drug store! Imagine my shock when the husband realized he had left the prescription back in our hospital room and the sorrow when the pharmacist declared he could not fill that prescription even if the nurse called him because it was too strong. 

So I went without any pain relief from my c-section once the epidural wore off. We went home and did some laundry, well, he sat, I did laundry (thank goodness we had a washer and dryer!) Then back to the hospital we went, only we were stopped as we approached the hospital and told we could not enter. My pleas to the police officer that my baby was in there went unheard and as we turned around we noticed the entire hospital was surrounded by flashing lights and officers! 

(Again setting personal feelings aside, I am forever grateful to the ex husband or what he did next)

He proclaimed that no one was going to keep us out. He parked our car a few blocks away and we walked (though it seemed all up hill for me!), we walked up the back way of the hospital to an wing that was closed and not in use. He then put to use his old hobby of tearing phone books, and broke the chain that was wrapped around the door. We slipped in quietly and he led me up an unlit hallway to the back side of our room. We quickly gathered our belongings onto a cart, our luggage, the baby's belongings, gifts and flowers, then we headed for the NICU. 

The cart of course had to stay outside the unit, but the nurse quickly pulled us in and locked the door, stating she did not even want to know how we managed to get in! Those moments were frightening but precious. We were told there was a hospital bomb threat in the ward that our little one was graduating to that night, but, because there was no shift changes, I got to sit in a rocking chair and cuddle my angel through the entire wait. 

She went from 0% to every chance in the world, though her test results showed some brain damage due to her lack of oxygen, the nurse labeled her "Fireball!" and once the threat lifted she moved to Pediatrics, where she remained stable and was a released shortly after. 

So my little girl, born without a chance, went home on day 7 to be guarded under quarantine for several months. She did suffer some brain damage which made her even more special and put her on the "spectrum", she also struggled a little with physical strength, hearing loss, and it took her lungs 6 years to self correct and function properly, but my angel is and will always be my world! 

And boy was that nurse every accurate! 

(Note Angela's baby book went missing mysteriously after I left some belongings with the ex. It isn't that I didn't love taking pictures of my girl, I had hundreds, it's that I no longer have them in my possession.) Wasn't she the most beautiful baby & isn't she the most beautiful teenager?!? <3 

7months utero, 8wks with cousin, 3months 

Angela Marie 6 months
Trying to stand at 8 months
8months, 2 years
Treasured every moment of it!
She was my perfect model
Reconnecting after 9 months living apart
Once again believing she would never let me go again

And then she did........



Happy 15th Birthday my girl! I love you. I miss you. Text me sometime :-) 

~Sunshine Biondo~