States we've Traveled

States we've Traveled

Tribute to Ms Southwind

Tribute to Ms Southwind

Monday, March 24, 2008

My Testimony ....

I got up this morning after Gabe left for work. Gabe started his new job today! I picked up a bit. I sat down and thought about my mom, her life and my life and how for years i had hated & blamed her for my life. I have also thought about all the things i have endured during my life time.

Now that I'm older and some what mature as an adult. I know now that life is full circumstances. It's up to us to decide how we will deal and let these circumstances guide us in our lives. We can either come to terms with things that happen to us, or we can let them grow and build up inside of us until it all comes crashing down on us. Unfortunately it does all come crashing in one point or another in our lives.

History of before and what led me to this lifestyle....What I feel has made me be the person I am today…. Okay, I've decided to let you all in on who the real Pennie is!!!

My mother .. was raised in a upper middle class Christian family. Her parents were very strict Pentecostal. She was the youngest of 5 girls. 2 sisters died early in life. Mom had 2 older living sisters. My mother was rebellious and got pregnant at the young age of 14. Her father died of Parkinson disease. Her father died only a few days before she gave birth to my oldest brother. I can remember mom saying his last words were, Pat i hope you have a boy. Her parents didn't care for my dad.

My dad ...was raised in poor Pentecostal family. He was raised in a family of 10 kids. Life was always ruff on my dad, being one of the older children. My parents married at a young age. My mom was 15 and dad was 18. I can remember my mom telling us that the only reason they got married was because my dad was up on statuary rape charges for getting her pregnant. So they got married to get him out of the trouble. Her mother was furious. She never cared for my dad.

My early childhood day …. I was born into a dysfunctional family. I am the youngest of  the children that my parents shared together. My parents lost a son before I was born. He died at 1 month and 2 days old. So when I came along, they were still suffering that loss. My dad had become an alcoholic and wasn't around much. My mother was suffering with depression at the loss of Steven. When I came into this world my dad was in prison (for something of no fault of his own). My mother was trying to raise and support the family on her own. They barely had enough food. So once I came into this world, I went home from the hospital to live my life with my aunt Rosie (dad’s sister) and my uncle Dean. They had no children yet and so I was spoiled rotten (yes, can you imagine that). When i was 4 yrs old they had one son and I knew him as my brother. I didn't know my real siblings as my brothers and sisters. I knew them as cousins.

At the age of 6, I was given back to my real mother. My mother had remarried and life was ruff growing up in that home. It was a total shock from how I had been raised the first 6 years of my life. I went from a home of 2 children that were total spoiled rotten, raised in a middle class Pentecostal family. I was taught to be prim and proper. I was a daddy's little girl that could do no wrong. To a home with 13 kids and a step-dad that was very verbally, mentally & physically abusive. We were raised dirt poor. We never had much growing up.  He was not abusive to his own children, but he was abusive to me and my real brothers and sisters. All of my real brother and sisters  either ran away or got married at the age of 16. (The boys ran away and the girls married).

Meeting the man of my dreamsI met the man of my dreams at age 13. He is a Christian, strong, loving, caring, sensitive and the most wonderful person in the world! When I met Lenny, I was really screwed up in life. I had a lot of emotional baggage and had built a wall up around myself. I hated everyone in the world. I felt that life only meant getting what you could to your advantage. I had grown up to being a violent person. I had a lot of anger inside of me. I had vowed earlier in life to let no one get close to me and to NEVER allow myself to love again. It was all a bunch of bull and only brought you pain. I let no one get close to me and i definitely didn't let anyone push me around, tell me what to do. I would just assume kill you as to look at you. I had pulled knives and what ever else I could to protect myself. I didn't care if it was an adult or kid if i felt threatened I would attack you. God gave my husband so much strength, patience and willpower to break down all those walls. We dated 3 years of my high school years. In 1983 at age 16, my entire life was changed for the better. By the end of my junior year of high school, I married the man of my dreams!!! We didn't have a lot of money, but we were happy. In September of the same year my husband lead me to turn my life over to Christ. I was saved.

Starting the family….At age 17, I had my first son, our oldest son was born with illnesses and he was a very sickly child and many times we thought he wasn't going to make it. We never knew if we were going to have the money to buy his medications. The first 2 years of his life we spent more days in the hospital then not. Hubby had a job that needed to be better. (His bosses would rather waste money away on oil wells that weren't there, instead of offering their employees health care). That is right; we had no medical insurance and a very sick baby! We didn't receive public assistance (I was raised on it and I was not about to do the same to my child!!) Having a sick child, hubby knew we had to make changes so he went out found a good job, good pay, excellent health insurance & all the good benefits Americans all want. Our oldest son was doing much better. We were not rich, but we were not poor either. It was time to add to the family. At age 21 I had our second son. Our youngest son was born a healthy child. I had gotten my High School Diploma and went back to school to take college courses. While i was raising my boys, i worked part-time until my boys both were in school full-time.  It was perfect timing to start a career.  I had decided early on that once my boys were In school I wanted to start a full time career other being a full time mother and wife.

Let me add …. I know most people do not get married at such an early age in life and it ends up being the best thing they've ever did. But I believe for my sisters and I; it was meant to be. My sisters and I are still happily married to the same men that stole our hearts at such an early age. I can tell you without a doubt God had led this wonderful man into my life and I thank God for one of the best gifts I have ever received in life. I’m not saying life was a bed of roses. It was far from that, but life was still good. Life was finally on its way up for me. I was happy and life was good!!!!!

Life is great….September 1985 – June 1996 life was great!!!! I had everything I had ever dreamed of. Happily married to a wonderful man who loves and adores me, our boys were healthy & happy. We had purchased a 108 year old run down house and turned it into a beautiful home that was filled with happiness, love and Joy!! Hubby had a job he loved, and I had started a career I had always dreamed of. I had a job that I dearly loved. I worked for the local health department in home health. I worked with hospice patients and their families. Most people would have trouble caring for someone whom they knew was going to die. But me, I found it very rewarding. It felt good to know that God was giving me the opportunity to work with these chosen patient and their families. My job was to make these patients as comfortable as possible in their last days and to help their family in preparing for such a loss that was ahead of them. As we all know religion and our jobs are suppose to be separate. But for me it wasn't  I always tried to speak to the patient about God if they wanted to. I never once pushed the issue if it wasn't their choice. So, when the paying job was finished. That is when my birth given job took over from there. I felt the job didn't stop with the loss of the patient. I continued services to the families even after their loved ones passed. Many times after the funeral is over, the family is forgotten. I didn’t believe that was how God wanted me to do this job. I felt he wanted me to continue to counsel these families. So I would call or stopped by and talked with them. I didn't care that I didn't get paid for the after time. That wasn't why I took that type of job. December 25th, 1996 was a Christmas I will never forget. It was the first Christmas in years that my entire family was together as a family for the holidays. Even though my siblings and I grew up in a ruff environment we have stayed close through the years. I love them all dearly!

The worst 10 years…..Unstoppable nightmare begins….. Now we come to the worst 10 years of my life …. The struggle begins. Not just for myself, but for my husband and children. On December 27, 1996, I injured my back and life was never to be the same again. I had turned 30 in July and it seemed from that day on life was nothing but a bad roller coaster ride and it mostly all went down hill!I was misdiagnosed and continued to work until I got to the point that I was practically crawling. I could barely stand up, let alone walk. The pain was unbearable. A month later I was finally taken off work and scheduled to see a neural surgeon. I went to the surgeon and tests were run. But the damage was already done. Surgery wasn’t an option … I was stuck with unbearable pain and confined to bed. I spent over 10 years basically bed ridden. I had lost control of my bowel and bladder. I basically spent most of my time either on the couch or in bed. I only left the house when my husband made me or my kids begged me to go to their sports activities. I wanted no contact with the outside world. My husband did all the grocery shopping; he was basically father and mother to our boys. I existed basically in the same house as they did. In May of 2000 there was a new experimental treatment available and I was suggested as a candidate. I had the experimental bladder/bowel implant done. It was a miracle for me. Because with the surgery and the medication I was receiving I finally at least felt comfortable about leaving the house! I didn’t have to worry about weather or not I was going to have an accident and embarrass myself or my family. Even though most people had no clue how much pain & suffering I was living with daily. I had learned to hide how I was truly feeling. Through all of this I still kept my faith & hope that some day God would send me my miracle and life would be as it had been before.  September of 2000 I was diagnosed with secondary-progressive MS (SPMS).  

The struggle with depression …..By 2003 I was beginning to lose that hope & faith I had always had. I was near my wits end. Then one day it seemed that things were finally going to go my way. I had found what I thought was going to be my miracle doctor. He was from John Hopkins Medical and was to be one of the best neural surgeons in the country. I went to that first visit, reminding myself not to get my hopes up, as this visit was going to be just like all the others. He was going to review my test and tell me the same that all the others had. There was nothing that could be done. But, that isn’t what happened. Instead he got my hopes up from day one. He told us of hundreds of people that had been in my same situation and he had helped them and most of them were success stories. He felt because of my young age I was a good candidate that could have surgery and be fixed and get some what of my life back. Sure there would be damage that wasn’t fixable, most likely I wouldn’t ever be able to return to work but I could regain more daily task then I had and live a more normal life. After months of doctor visits, doing everything that he suggested I do. I went to a new urologist that he suggested about my bowel/bladder implant. He wanted me off all med's, because he said with all that I took it would be hard to tell after surgery weather or not it worked and that unless I was completely drug free for 6 months. That he wouldn't even considering doing the surgery unless I did everything he recommended with no questions ask. Because he needed me to confirm I was willing to do what ever it took to make the surgery a success. I wasn’t to reschedule a next visit until I did all of these things. So I did everything he recommended regardless of what my treating pain specialist and family medical doctor was recommending. They felt he was misleading me and setting me up for a big down fall. I had already been to some of the best neural surgeons around and they had been treating me for years and knew who and what type of person I was and how strong headed as well. They both told me that if I went through with this treatment, then they were wiping their hands of me and would no longer treat me. I didn’t care what they thought. I needed this miracle doctor. Of course knowing me as they did, they knew I would do it anyways. I was determined to do what it took to be fixed and have my life back. After all, they had their chance for years and I was still living this nightmare of hell. I had been on years of heavy medications and was receiving trigger shots, every 2-3 weeks for the past several years. All of this was what was giving me my day to day routine that I had learned to do. I was taking 100 mg/h Duragesic patches that were changed every other day. I was also taking 8-12 Vicodin daily. 100 mg Neurontin 2 times daily, 10 mg Flexeril 3 times daily, Naproxen 500 mg 2 times daily and 75 mg Nortriptyline before bed time. After my last visit with the miracle doctor and he explained the medication thing. I went home that day, tore off the patch, and completely cold turkey went off all my med's. I suffered dearly for 6 months. I laid and cried for hours as the pain was unbearable. My family begged me to take my med's. I refused. The pain got so bad I couldn't keep food down. I couldn't stand up; I could barely crawl to the bathroom. I couldn’t stand myself let alone those around me. I was a real bear to live with during these months. But, I was determined that I was going to do what it took to have this surgery. In the meantime while I was going through this living hell of a night mare, I think I knew that in the end this doctor was not my miracle worker. I was making plans of my suicide. My family had no clue. I had decided that I suffered 6 yrs with my gallbladder before I was finally diagnosed with it. That it was the same with this back injury. 6 years was going to be my final suffering with this as well.I had everything completely planned out. My next doctor appointment was scheduled for Sept 2004, 9 months since the last time I had seen him. I had completed everything that he had asked. I was prepared to take the drug test. I had seen the urologist he had sent me to.

The day arrived for my surgery date….I had a very bad feeling about this day. I guess it was my gut instinct kicking in. Hubby and I went inside and the nurse took me back. I gave the nurse all the information and the doctor came in. I knew the instant I saw him what the news was. He was wrong! He told hubby and me that he was sorry but he had misread some of my test and after getting the urologist report back. That my previous doctors were correct and there was nothing they could do to help me. That going off my med's wouldn't help and he recommended me staying on them and continuing with the treatments I was receiving. I was horrified. I told him what you mean continue with treatments! I haven’t been receiving treatment, I went against what my doctors advised and they drop me! I've been off everything for 9 months!!! I have been living in living hell. He told me he didn't tell me to stop treatment cold turkey and he didn't believe that I had, that people taking the types and volume of med’s I was on could not stop taking them on their own. It had to be done under a strict medical plan; the withdrawals could cause serious affects if done all at once. I demanded he give me blood test and test me for drugs. That I could tell him he wasn't going to find any of them! Hubby was furious and he told him that he did tell me to do just what I did. Until I did he wouldn't help me. That he didn't know what kind of quack he was to get a person hopes up like he did mine. That I had went cold turkey off all my med’s and that he had gotten my hopes up and because of him, our entire family had been going through living hell. Hubby said he was going to report him to the medical board because he should have his licenses revoked if this is how he treats all his other patients as he had watched him treat me. That he basically in the beginning called me a dope addict and he had sit back and allowed this treatment because he knew how desperate I was for a miracle. I told the doctor that was fine, he couldn't fix me but I sure could because I was not going to live this way anymore! That there was a way out of this and I was taking it. He just ignored me and said he was sorry he couldn't help me and I needed to stop searching for that miracle worker out there because they weren’t any out there and I needed to just accept and learn to adjust my life around my injury like it was nothing. Hubby and I left and I cried the entire way home. Hubby asked me if I meant what I said and I said no I was just furious. What hubby didn't know was that I already had made all the plans needed and had a date set. I was determined that I was going to end this life of hell.

The final plans …I went home and acted as if that day had never happened. I still refused to go back on my med’s or receive any treatment. I was determined I had made it this far and I only had a matter of weeks to get through. I pulled myself together and made myself act if life was grand and the past 8 years of my life had never happened! I had the date set for October 13th, my oldest son was getting married on Oct 2nd and so I had to get everything done and make this day special for him. Then I would end my suffering. But that same week things happened with my dil to be. On Monday I was served with a restraining order against her and my grand daughter. My son came in later that day and he and his dad got into it big time over the restraining order, my husband basically disowned his own son (it was more guilt then I could take). I never said anything I was devastated! I just pretended it didn't bother me, I told our son that I all I have ever wanted was for him to be happy in life and that he was to go ahead with the wedding without us there. That I would back out of his life and that I loved him more then he would ever know. I went inside. I had everything already in order and so I laid out the entire information hubby needed. I had everything for the wedding done. I had instruction for my sister Patty to take over preparing and getting this wedding off. I had good bye notes to hubby, the boys and my entire family. Life insurance policies were laid out. My last wish and testimony that i had prepared.  (My sister Patty had quite a job ahead of her with all I had left her in charge of)Hubby was down at his shop working and I quietly took my med's, a pepsi, a pistol and my purse for identification. I left without anyone knowing it. I prayed to God to forgive me but he knew I had been pushed past my breaking point and I couldn't and didn't want to live life anymore. My family was suffering and I was a burden to them. They were better off without me in their lives. I felt that if I wasn't there anymore my dil to be had nothing to be jealous of with my relationship with my son. I felt my spirit was gone, there was no more fight left in me, my heart was broken, my body was junk, and I couldn't bare another day of this debilitating pain. I was ready to end this life on earth and go home. I drove around and tried to figure out where the best place was to end my suffering. Then I remember the one place I always went to when I was down or needed to talk. My grandma's grave. As I was driving there, I went ahead and took all of the med's. I had done my research and knew that if I took them together it would cause me to go into cardiac arrest. That way if I couldn't shoot myself, the pills would work. I got to Grandma’s gave about 15 minutes later and my phone kept ringing and I refused to answer it. I was talking to my grandma about coming home and reassuring myself I was doing the right thing. Our oldest son called me and for some reason (God I believe was looking out for me) I answered it and he asked me where I was and I refused to tell him, I just told him I was safe and going home. I am very close with my boys, we've always had a very close relationship and have always been able to talk and when I said that he knew instantly where I was at. He tried to keep me on the phone but I told him I had to go and hung up. The pills I had taken were already starting to make me unsteady and my heart was racing and I was starting to feel sluggish. I knew I had to do it soon. So I took the gun out of the case, loaded it and took the safety off. I put the gun in my mouth and just as I had my finger on the trigger i was just beginning to  pull trigger, I saw the hood of a black truck and our oldest son jumped out and was screaming … don't do it mom … I looked up and saw him crying and begging me not to do it. I couldn't let that be his last memory of me, so I lowered the gun to the ground and he came running. He didn't try to take the gun from me; instead he sat down beside me and asked if we could talk. We did and then he asks me if he could take the gun. I said yeah, because I knew the pills I had taken were already working and he had no clue that I had taken them. He said for us to go home, because dad was beside himself. I told him I would follow him in the blazer and he said no, that we'd go in the blazer and he would get his truck later. He put the gun in his truck and locked it up. He got me in the blazer and I told him I was tired and wanted to take a nap. Not remembering the empty pill bottles were in the floor board. He saw them and asks me where the pills were and I could barely tell him I didn't know. He kept asking me if I took them. He called his dad and I heard him say, okay I’m taking her to the hospital now and I remember saying no, I want to go home. I don't remember much after that, only that some horrible treatment was being done to me and I felt horrible. I ended up in intensive care.

Giving my all to God …. After I woke up, I released myself to go home. I went home, my family called a family meeting, we talked things out and they made me realize that I was being selfish by making a decision for them and not even caring how they felt. The family decision was made, I went back on my med's and decided that life wasn't over. I continued on with getting things ready for the wedding, it was Wednesday and the wedding was on Saturday! We survived the wedding and all went well. The restraining order was dropped. After that week had passed, I decided it was time for a one to one with God!!! Something I hadn’t really done in years as I had lost my faith in him. I had a heart felt talk with god. I told him, he made me survive and he refused to take me home, he knew that I was at my wits end and he had to do something different with my life. I had hit my breaking point and now my life was in his hands. That if there was a reason that I was still left on this earth the time had come to led my life in that direction. But, I couldn't live on this earth with all this suffering. I had always believed that my purpose on earth was to make a difference in other people lives. That is what my life was about before my night mare began. I told him that I now needed the things from him that I had always felt he lead me to give to others. I wanted and desperately needed his love, grace, compassion and guidance to make a difference in my own life. I needed and looked forward to his direction.

God speaks to me ... God let me know that he was in fact beside me and that he knew i had been living a life of hell.  He reminded me of Job, how Job was a good servant and he lost his family, friends, money, health and in the end he was rewarded for all that he had lost.  God told me to hold out that there were a few ruff times ahead of me but my purpose for being kept on this earth was around the corner.  I was to hold my faith close to me and rewards were up ahead. God granted me a peace that his grace and mercy were just ahead if i just hang on to him.

Dreaming of a new life.... Before our new journey in life started, I had been dreaming and preparing for a completely different life style. I knew that once our children were grown I was ready for a new adventure in life. I knew that God did in fact having something ahead of me. I just didn’t realize what it was exactly. I knew that I had to convince hubby of it too. God led me to read on the internet about living life full-time in a RV, I was impressed and it sounded interesting. The doctors had been telling hubby and me for years that I needed to go to warmer climate in the winters. Talking to hubby he knew after my suicide attempt that I was serious I couldn't continue to live this life anymore and something had to be done. Our youngest son still had 2 years left of high school and until then we agreed we couldn't do anything until he graduated. So until June 2006, we couldn't make a change in our lifestyle.

Embracing those 2 years ... I took those 2 years and i ran with them.  God was slowly giving me better and better days.  Some days i went backwards and other days forward.  I embraced them and knew that God had promised me a future i could live with.  I started researching and preparing for the life style we were about to embark upon.  May 26th, 2006, our youngest son graduated high school. I was still basically house ridden and my new life didn't quite happen as soon as our youngest son graduated.  Life was as it was before. Hubby was happy he was living the life he enjoyed; I had turned 40 in July and had hoped that since life had gone down hill after turning 30, life would begin up hill after turning 40, but instead hubby felt he needed a secure job with a nice income. I was still miserable!

Starting to live life again ... Oct 2006 .. God brought about things in our life that turned our world upside down again and we had to get outside of our comfort zone. I wasn't sure that i could survive nor was i sure that i could handle anymore in my life. Sometimes in life we get so settled and comfortable into our lives that we are afraid to follow directions outside of that lifestyle. What it so amazing is how when you do allow yourself to get outside of those comfort zones and let God lead your life how much better it can be. I have been keeping a journal by blogging these amazing events. I never dreamed when I moved into a RV as full-timer how wonderful it could be living inside of such a small area. But in fact, it's been a joyous ride. Of course I've had ups and downs as well all do in our lives. But i can honestly say that once again in life i am happy, content and living my life for God. I am actually living for today and looking forward to what tomorrow holds. My blog tells of my daily ups and downs in my life as full time RVer, who living and volunteering her life for Christ.

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