Episode #2 left off with me picking up our new live in nanny at the airport. Digna came to us from Hong Kong where she was a live in nanny for another family. She is from the Philippines and had left her own children there with her Mom. Her husband Larry was working in Hong Kong as well.
Their long-term goal was for Digna to work in Canada for 2 years. Then they can apply to have them all come to Canada to live permanently. What an unbelievable sacrifice. It still amazes me how much she sacrificed. All in order to give her family a chance at living in our beautiful country. Day 1 she knew what to do.
The company I was working for had closed its doors right before I had the boys. So when Digna arrived it was time to start looking for a new job. I was ready to start the job hunt as soon as I was sure Digna was good with everything. I found one pretty quickly but it was in Okotoks which was about a 40 minute drive from our home.
And it SUCKED. So bad. The company did not advertise the qualifications for this role properly. I was doing very junior work and it was not stimulating whatsoever. I just kept thinking – “why am I doing this extremely boring job when I could be at home with my kids”.
After only 3 weeks, I quit that job and moved on to another that was also in the Okotoks area. This time, it SUCKED again, but this time for other reasons. The accounting records for this company were an absolute disaster. I have never seen anything like it and hope to never experience that again. I started this job in September 2014.
Looking back it actually makes me upset at how much time I missed with my kids trying to help this company. Because we had Digna with us, it made it so much easier to work extra hours and let her earn more money for her family back home. But I missed soooo much time with my kids who were so little.
It got so bad at this company that I remember driving home many evenings and actually having full on conversations with myself about how ridiculous some of the things were at this place. You know you’re on the verge of going bat shit crazy when you’re yelling at the empty air in your car. This was also right around the time of the oil and gas industry collapse in Alberta. And I was working for an oil and gas services company.
I was trying to get this company through an external audit so they could get more capital investors, which meant I had to redo their entire accounting records in less than 6 months. And that was the beginning of some very difficult months.
I need to back up a bit here and also say that when I started my first job in Okotoks I fell in love with the area and started talking to James about possibly moving in that general area now that I was working there because it was a pretty long commute. So we started looking soon after Digna joined our family. We got pretty close to buying one house but it didn’t work out. Then the economy started collapsing and I asked James to put that idea on hold for awhile.
One day he emails me a listing for a house in Turner Valley. I honestly had NO IDEA where this TV place was….I thought he was nuts. So I humoured him and agreed to go see this house one weekend….if anything it will be a nice family drive and then we can go for ice cream or something.
Welllll…..if you are have ever been to the Black Diamond and Turner Valley area of Alberta, Canada, you will know what I mean when I say the drive around the last bend into Black Diamond took my breath away. Beautiful Rocky Mountains were staring back at me and I fell in love. And then the realtor opened the door to the house and I looked at James and said “You’re a jerk”.
You see, it was a beautiful home with an amazing view and we were in love with the house too…..but I also knew the financial situation of the company I was working for and my job was not very secure…..so we shouldn’t have been buying and selling homes at that time.
We decided to put an offer on the house but it would be conditional on the sale of our house. And remember the economy and market was not great so we didn’t think it would actually go through. The day the For Sale sign went up on our lawn I was shitting bricks.
We were at the airport in Calgary getting ready to get on a flight to Hawaii and our realtor was texting us saying he was just waiting for an offer to come in on our house. We were staying back from getting onto the plane as long as possible so we could see if he’d call before we got on a 7 hour flight. I think the flight attendants were getting ticked at us but seriously, this is HUGE! And yes, he did phone us at that moment and gave us the offer and the terms and to think about it on the flight.
The price was not an issue, we were good with that. One of the terms was a 40 day possession…..holy fack. Here’s why that was a big problem….this was April and that would mean taking Avery out of her school at the end of May, so one month in a new school. But the biggest issue is I was having MAJOR surgery on May 1st….I was scheduled for a hysterectomy and wouldn’t be able to lift or help move. We made a deal that if we did this we would have to hire packers AND movers.
We had lived in Langdon for about 13 years and really loved our home and our friends that we had made and Avery really loved her best friend Kylee and her school. When we landed in Hawaii we knew what our decision was so we called Carlin and said we would accept their offer.
When we returned home from Hawaii, the craziness began. I was still dealing with auditors to get the audit completed before I left on medical leave for my hysterectomy. I did get it done and that was a HUGE accomplishment. But it took its toll on my mental and physical health.
I was experiencing some of the worst migraines I have ever had. And it was a week before my surgery and my doc recommended not taking any pain medicine for at least a week before my surgery. So I couldn’t take anything for my migraine.
On the morning of May 1st James drove me to the hospital and I STILL remember saying to him that I was soooo looking forward to being put under so I didn’t have to feel my migraine anymore….you know it’s bad when the only thing that would help is general anesthetic.
Now if there is a doctor or nurse listening to this podcast, I’d like an explanation on the use of the “air beds”. That was the worst bed to try and recover in. If you don’t know what I’m talking about….the bed moves under you at certain intervals and in different places and I’m assuming it’s to keep things flowing in your body while you recover. It was hell on earth for me.
What ended up happening is in an effort to get more comfortable, I put myself in a crazy position and ended up getting a couple of pinched nerves in my upper back and neck. My doc stopped by to check on me and he let me know that, once again, during surgery I had lost a significant amount of blood (about half) and they had made the decision based on my age and other medical factors that they wouldn’t give me a blood transfusion and let me naturally build up my blood supply again.
This is where things got very, very dark for me. It’s also where I truly found compassion for others dealing with chronic pain. The nerve pain in my neck and upper back were so intense….I honestly didn’t feel ANY of the pain from the actual hysterectomy. Nothing was alleviating the nerve pain and trust me when I say I tried everything that I was able to.
Because of the surgery I couldn’t get a massage yet. So I started using some of the oxy. At one point I was taking 2 or 3 at once….and it didn’t even help. All it did is make me feel like I couldn’t move but I still felt the pain. How crazy is THAT?
One night I moved around to different areas of the house and tried laying on different surfaces to see if that would help and it didn’t. I remember making my way to Avery’s room and laid in her empty bed (she was laying with her Dad). And I remember thinking I can’t go on anymore. It was the first time that thought crossed my mind but it was very clear that was an option and it stayed with me until morning.
I asked James to take me to the walk-in clinic to see if there was something else that could be done. About 2 minutes into the drive I experienced my first ever full blown panic attack. I know what started it. I started thinking about ending it and the thought of leaving my kids and James and my family and it sent me spiralling.
James’ Mom was in town and I asked her to take me to the hospital in Strathmore to see what they could do to relieve the pain. They put me in a room and hooked me up to an IV and gave me Valium. That was crazy. I felt like I was floating above my body but could still feel the nerve pain. It was very much still there and even in a drug induced state I knew it.
After awhile the docs came in and said the only thing left to do was send me home with a Fentanyl patch on my arm, with the disclaimer that that is typically something they give to terminal patients to control the pain. My mother in law was in communication with my Mom this whole time and I guess my Mom had told my brother that they put that patch on my arm. I got a call from him immediately and he said “I know you’re in a lot of pain right now but I need you to rip that patch off your arm”. He has experience battling opioids so I took his advice very seriously.
The doctor had also recommended going to physiotherapy so when I got home I booked an appt for the next morning. And I found another one of my angels….her name was Nicole and she saved me. I’m not kidding when I say one session of physiotherapy gave me so much relief that I was finally able to sleep and after 4 sessions I felt pretty good! So good that I could finally feel the hysterectomy surgery stuff, but that seemed like a piece of cake now….no problem!!
My Mom had come up to help me with the recovery and get some things done for our move that was now about a week away. I was sitting in our recliner and she walked over to me to say something and right away she said, “Umm Tiffany, your face is drooping on one side”….so I got her to take a picture of me to show me since I couldn’t really move around well yet.
So, we hopped in the car and went to the walk-in clinic where the doctor immediately directed us to the Emergency Room in Calgary. But when we got there, they did the standard Stroke checks and determined that I wasn’t having one so we proceeded to sit in the waiting area for 3 hours.
When I was finally seen by a doctor she brought in one of her colleagues and one said that it appeared to be Bells Palsy but the other doc disagreed and thought it was a stroke. Alright then…..soooo what is going on? My Mom took another picture to send to James and yep, my face was limp on one side.
The docs wanted to keep me overnight to do some more scans and see what was going on. That was the start of a 3 day stay in the hospital. I had many CT scans and many, many neurologists looking at me multiple times a day. I learnt that women neurologists carry around very fashionable bags with their tools to check various parts of your body! At one point I had 7 neuro docs and interns staring at me – talk about feeling like an animal in a zoo.
They did determine it was Bells Palsy which is a type of facial paralysis but what was confusing them is my mouth and cheek were drooping on one side and my eye was limp on the opposite side. Which is very unusual. The docs were thinking of doing a spinal tap as well but thankfully decided against that and just wait it out.
There were many factors that they said likely contributed to this happening but most likely it was the high stress of my current job in addition to the extreme stress my body had just been under losing so much blood and the recovery process.
All I can say is thank goodness for my Mom, James’ Mom, Digna and the amazing packers that we hired. While I laid on the couch sleeping they packed our ENTIRE house in one day. If you can swing the cost, make this a priority in your next move, you won’t regret it!
On Friday, May 22nd the moving truck pulled up and it was time to go. Saying good bye to our neighbours was so incredibly hard. We had grown so close to them over the years and it was very sad.
Thankfully again, our parents and Digna were there to help us in the first couple of days since I literally couldn’t lift anything, not even the kids.
On Monday, I took Avery to Turner Valley School to finish off Grade 1. She was welcomed so warmly by Miss Irving and we’ll never forget that. It is such an amazing school.
On Tuesday, I went for a follow up with my neurologist and he asked me to take another month off work. He liked my progress but thought I needed more time. So I went from there to my work to give my boss this doctors note. And he closed the door and proceeded to give me a lay off notice.
I won’t go into the details of what happened after that but know that it took a very long time for me to come to a place of peace with this person. Especially after all the hard work I did to get them audited statements which they then used to get additional capital. And considering I was on a medical leave.
But like I said, I finally found peace and it’s because I realized that it was one of my angels that intervened. Remember that stubborn part of my personality? I don’t like to give up….I know for a fact I would have died of a heart attack if I stayed there, the stress was unlike anything I had experienced before. And my angels knew that was the only way to get me out of there.
About a month or so later I found another job and I am still there today so it all worked out for the best 🙂
Next up on Episode 4, I will catch you up to where we are today and then on Episode 5 it’s time to meet the man that has been with me on this CRAZY TRAIN and loves me despite it all! And up to this recording today, there have been no more hospital visits for me, so YAY! I think I’ve had my share!
Finding gratitude in these trials was very hard while they were happening. I am not going to say that it was easy for me to do. But looking back now, I still feel it. I don’t think gratitude has a time limit. Feel it and express it when you are ready.
Until next time, be kind and stay well.