In November 1981, I was born seemingly healthy weighing 6 lbs. and 9 oz. The doctors were relieved since my mother was severely sick with the flu and pneumonia the majority of the time she was pregnant. It wasn’t till I was 8 years old that my mother noticed I got sick a lot and was having a difficult time at school due to being so sick. The doctors had ideas of what was causing the various symptoms but never gave a definite diagnosis. I almost always had a sinus infection but cold medicine or allergy medicine did not seem to phase it. Whenever I would run and play it usually led to me vomiting. I can remember certain foods that would make me sick almost immediately after I ate them. The doctors checked for food allergies. They assumed I may be allergic to wheat but couldn’t be definite since some foods containing wheat didn’t bother me. There were various foods that I couldn’t hold down but the ones I remember the most was all Chef Boyardee like, SpaghettiOs & Ravioli. It seemed like all the foods that kids loved I could not handle.
A few times around the ages of 8 and 9, I broke out in a rash all over my body. The pediatrician told my Mom he thought I got into some poison oak playing outside. I knew that was not the case even then because I had only been playing in the same area I played daily. Within a couple of days the rash would just disappear as fast as it popped up.
I remember in middle school my P.E. coaches thought I was bulimic because I would vomit almost daily a few times during class. The coaches questioned me and asked me if I was making myself do it or if I had an illness causing it. Together, we figured out that it had to do with me playing hard right after lunch. I had lunch third period and P.E. fourth period. We changed my schedule to have P.E. For sixth period and it did help greatly. My doctor then assumed that I was just one of the children that had a weak stomach and my food needed to settle before activity. I did not agree because that did not explain all the other times I would suddenly get sick when I was not active.
As an adult, I have thought back on my childhood and tried to figure it out myself. I came to the conclusion that it was probably due to the mental, verbal, and physical abuse in my household. Years of studying psychology taught me about the way the body can react to the kind of abuse I went through on a day-to-day basis and watched my Mother endure. I began to think maybe it wasn’t certain foods that triggered the nausea, maybe it was not poison oak that was making me break out in rashes, and just maybe I didn’t have some strange illness. Maybe it was all connected to anxiety and stress.
During my teen issues it seemed like my body was trying to fight off whatever it was struggling with. I would go through months of being perfectly healthy. I had my first child when I was 18. I was substantially sick throughout my whole pregnancy but not like how I was before. Just the general nausea, aches and pains, and fatigue lots of women face while pregnant. I did not have any of the ongoing sinus infections that always plagued me.
I had my second child when I was 22. Just like my first pregnancy, I was sick the entire time with nausea. I wish I only had morning sickness but unfortunately I rarely got much relief from nausea for the whole duration of my pregnancies. Unlike my first, I did battle sinus infections while carrying my son. The only thing the doctors could give me was Claritin and saline spray but it didn’t seem to help much.
After the birth of my son I seemed to stay fatigued a lot. I just assumed it was natural since I had two young children and sleep could be scarce at times. A year later I was still feeling really rough on most days. I went to a new doctor and told him everything. He sent me over to a psychologist who decided everything I was going through was due to depression. She said she believed I was right about my childhood and that anxiety & depression probably did lead to my sickness. She also believed that I was going through the same thing all over again due to my marriage and lifestyle.
When I was a child, part of my punishment for being to loud or playing around too much was to sit alone and read encyclopedias or The Bible. My Dad started this punishment for me around age 9 when he came across a series of encyclopedias at a yard sale. Eventually, I started to enjoy reading them and was fascinated by people’s behavior. I wanted to read everything I could about the human mind and characteristics. This “punishment” continued until I was 16 and moved away to go live with my biological Father (who I met at 16) in Georgia. By that time, I decided I wanted to go to College and learn all I could about mental illness, behavioral health, and disorders. My Dad thought college was a waste of time for me because he wanted me to work in the family business. He owned a sports shop and plastic lure company and told me he wanted me to run them one day. Running either of those businesses was the last thing I wanted to do and he knew it. I hated his companies because he made me work with him from as young as I could remember. I don’t mean just helping out either. He actually worked me as if I was adult which gave me little time to be a kid or a teen. School was my one escape from the labor and the abuse but when I was thirteen and spoke about college a little too much, he took me out of school. He told my mother he needed the help with his companies but made sure I would school while at work. He said they could home school me that way I could work when needed.
My Mom wasn’t so convinced the plan would work so my Dad went even further. I will never forget how he told my Mom that I was too pretty for middle school. He explained how I was at the hormonal rebellious age and did not appreciate the business skills he was teaching me. If they allowed me to keep going to school it would not be long before I would run off with some boy. My Mom argued with him but he was able to convince her that I was too busy playing and goofing off at school. It was true my grades were slipping around that time but it wasn’t from playing. I was exhausted from the work hours. I did get in trouble a time or two at school for talking but school was literally the only time I could see my friends. The majority of time they were not allowed at my home and I was never allowed phone calls. Anyways, my Dad knew just what to say because my Mom was a runaway at age 13. He played into her fears and convinced her it was best I home school and work for the family business.
Dad didn’t hold up his promise. I rarely found time for school work since most days he would leave me to run the sports shop alone. My Mom was a waitress that worked 12 hours most days and my Dad did bass fishing guide trips for extra money. The problem was he always had to “practice” for these guide trips or his weekend tournaments. Therefore, he would drop me off around 5:30 am in the morning so I could open the store and I would literally run it all day till he returned that afternoon to close up. Within a few months my Mom realized my Dad never planned to school me. I was miserable and very tired. On top of running the shop I still had household chores and I had to babysit my little sister as I worked every day. You may be wondering how in the world was a 13/14-year-old girl with a three-year old girl running a store every day without Children & Families services finding out. I think it had to do with three things. One, my Dad was a bass fisherman hero in our small town. Most the customers that came in our store were hoping to get some good tips or just talk to my Dad when they could. Two, if anyone tried to say anything his friends and our family would lay for them. The majority of our family had not a clue that Dad was working me every day the way he was. The people who did know thought I enjoyed it and wanted to do it because I led them to believe so. I was scared to say different knowing if I got caught I would get a beating. Three, I think my parents just got really lucky.
You can see why I ran into my biological fathers arms as soon as I met him at age 16. I talked him into letting me go live with him in Georgia when he came down to Florida to meet me. It wasn’t hard to convince him when he saw my lifestyle.
Unfortunately, living with him wasn’t much different. The roles just reversed. Instead of the Dad being abusive and the Mom bowing down it was the opposite. My Step Mother hated my existence and that I stepped into their life. My Dad tried keeping the peace but wasn’t very successful since he worked a lot. Soon after arriving, my Step Mother told me I either went to school or got a job. At this point, I missed three years of school. I had no school clothes (barely any clothes), no supplies, no money for books I needed. My Step Mother told me either my parents needed to give me some money or I needed to work for it but it wasn’t their responsibility to help me. Not a lot of places besides fast food took sixteen year old kids and I did not want to do that. Luckily, I found a job at Redbud Nursery working in the green houses. I didn’t have a car so I walked to work and back each day. It was perfectly fine to me because I got to experience freedom for the first time. I started to save up money to buy a car. My plan was to first get the car, then get my GED and eventually go to college.
I went to work every day, did my chores I was given, and walked to church on Sundays. My Step Mom constantly ridiculed me and called me named like, “goody two shoes” and “floozy.” One Sunday morning I was getting ready for church when she came out in one of my dresses wearing blue eye shadow and red lipstick. She had her hair in a braided ponytail, was wearing super high heels, (I would never wear) and was carrying one of those huge family Bibles. She started prancing around the house saying, “I’m Katrina..Oh I mean Kitty. I’m walking to church on Sunday because I am so perfect and do no wrong. I love making other people feel less than me. Aren’t I so pretty”? She was batting her eyelashes and twirling around. My Dad made her stop and I just stood there not knowing what to do. I couldn’t believe was I was seeing. A 40 something year old woman was mocking me just because I was walking to church. I bawled my eyes out the entire walk to church. I couldn’t understand why she hated me so much because I worked really hard to impress her and my biological Father. Eventually, it got to be too much to take. My Step Mother and my step Sister were blaming me for any little incident that took place. Sometimes they made up lies about me that were so far from the truth it flabbergasted me. The most frustrating issue of all is they both kept stealing money from me. Before I moved out I actually caught my step sister stealing. I came home early from work one day to find her sitting on my bed stashing my cash into her purse. I made her give it back and she begged me not to tell. She said, if I would do this one favor for her it would prove to her that I care about her and she will treat me like a sister. I asked her what she needed so much money for all the time that she kept stealing from me and she said she was saving up for a present for our Dad. She said she would say the gift was from both of us if I kept quiet.
After I moved out into the house of the first boy who proclaimed his love for me, I was visiting my Dad one day when we all ended up fighting. My step sister never did treat me like a sister or friend like she said and was blaming me of something else when I didn’t even live there anymore. I had enough and blurted out about how much money she stole from me during the time I was there. My step Mom was actually on my side for once trying to keep from fighting with my Dad. They were working on their marriage from all the trouble I supposedly caused while living there. My step sister was super angry that her Mom was taking my side so she decided to rat out her own Mom. She told me how her Mom took money from me a few times too. I sat there, stunned, while they both argued about it when finally my step Mother agreed she did take money but only because they needed help with bills and felt I should have been paying some rent while living there. I left and rarely came back unless my Dad begged me and then I would visit just for him.
Exactly nine months after moving in with my boyfriend he proposed to me and I accepted. I had convinced myself I was head over heals in love. He lived with his Mom, his Moms drunkard boyfriend, and his two younger brothers. The house was tiny, dirty, and flea infested but his Mom was doing the best she could, considering her health and raising three boys. The boyfriend worked here and there and once in a while would help make a dinner but that was about all he contributed. I took on an extra job as a waitress at night while continuing to work at Redbud during the day. My wonderful boyfriend was still in school whenever he felt like going so he didn’t work. He was your typical bad boy punk that was of course, a pot head. I believed he really loved me with all his heart and that over time I could change him. I helped him with his school work and pushed him to go. He swore to me he was going but I later found out he skipped most of the time. The school work he gave me was his brothers. He did go to church with me on Sundays and he loved me reading the Bible to him at night. He was shocked how much music I knew and loved me singing to him. We used to play a game with his friends where one of them would shout out a band and I would have to sing a song from that band. That was too easy for me so we started playing, “Name that tune” where a friend would hum a song and I would guess it and sing it. Since I grew up with no life besides work, I listed to the radio non-stop. I listened to every station because I memorized songs so fast I would get sick of hearing the same ones repeatedly.
My boyfriend was nothing for a parent to be proud of and I knew he wasn’t what I always dreamed of but he showed me so much attention and totally respected me and my faith. The night he proposed is when I finally gave in despite everything I believed in and gave up my virginity. The experience was not so great and the guilt consumed me. I cried a lot for a while. I decided that would not happen again till we were for sure married. By the time I started to forgive myself, I found out I was pregnant. After a couple of days of crying some more I called my Mom. She said, “I knew it! I knew you would have to prove your Dad right.” She was so angry at me and I couldn’t blame her. My Dad got on the phone and said not to ask them for any help. He said I better get married and ask for forgiveness. He said hopefully, God would forgive me for my rebellion and willful sin. I was told not to call and upset my Mom again until I was married.
It was at that point that I realized the way things really were. I was with a young druggie that had no dreams or goals for himself. The house we were living in was no place to raise a child. I knew my Dad was stubborn and would not help me or let my Mom help me. I didn’t plan on telling my biological Father until I had too because I knew his wife would rub this in his face. Every fiber of my being was telling me to run. Abortion was never a thought for me. I chose to have sex, I knew protection didn’t always work, I got myself into this and it wasn’t the babies fault.
I prayed for hours. I made myself sick praying and crying so much but I finally came up with a plan. I would continue working as long as I could and make up enough money to get my own place and a car. The only way my boyfriend would come with me is if he quit the drugs completely and got a job. I was hoping the entire time I was having my breakdown that he would step up and say he would do those things but he didn’t. I had to tell him he had two options. Step it up or I was gone. He agreed he would do what was right. His Dad bought us a car to help us out so I didn’t have to keep bumming rides to make it to my jobs.
My boyfriend went through three jobs during my pregnancy and lost all three. Still, I married him when I was 5 months pregnancy because he was trying or so I thought. A month after we married I quit the day job because it was too much on me. I was sick constantly as I stated earlier. I continued to wait tables in the afternoon.
We moved in with a friend of his that had a cleaner home and more space. The friend’s mother let us pay little rent so we could save up for a place of our own. My grandparents got my phone number from my Mom and found out how hard we were struggling. The downfall of living with my husband’s friend was that he was a druggie so now my husband was using again. When I told my Papa how good my husband was doing before we moved in with his friend my Papa decided he would help. He paid for us to move back down to Florida. I am assuming he must have had a talk with my parents because they actually helped us a rent a place behind the sports shop. My Dad even helped us find a job at a plastic company where we both worked until he got fired for goofing off. I left soon after he was fired out of humiliation and because the men there kept trying to get me to leave my husband. Within a few weeks we found my husband a job at a grocery store where he worked until I had our daughter.
He didn’t hold that job for long either. He went through a handful of jobs after our baby was born and started hanging out with some friends he met at these jobs. Soon, he was back into the drugs and staying gone for days. I called his Dad and begged him for help. He offered for us to come live with him back in Georgia and would help out with the baby. He kept his promise and I got a job at a dreaded fast food restaurant because it was all I could find. My father in-law got a great job for my husband. For one year we lived pretty happy and my husband kept his job. We got our own little apartment and soon after he lost his great job. Thanks to God and my father in-law, my husband was able to get another good job pretty fast. I began working from home online building websites for small businesses. For fun and practice I created fan websites for celebrities. A few of them did not have official websites which was hot and becoming important back in the early 2000’s. I started getting contacted by the celebrities showing their appreciation. Before long, I was hired by a handful of celebrities to make their fan sites official and run the sites for them. Eventually, that let into PR work that lead me to who I am today. With both of us working we were doing pretty well for ourselves. We got a bigger nicer apartment and a year later rented a 5 bedroom two-story house that we shared with a couple of friends. I had our son during that time and believed we had finally made it. My husband seemed to have stayed clean for a couple of years. He still did plenty of stupid immature stuff but I understood he was still a kid. Babies don’t always change men like they do women. These days, babies don’t always change women either.
We fought a lot because I was trying to work and school while raising two kids. He was perfectly fine working at whatever job would hire him. Yes, he lost the second great job he had soon after we moved into the house. I decided to let him just stay home and baby sit. I continued working online and went to training to be a masseuse. I got a job shortly after training finished and went back to working two jobs. The pay was great with both jobs for what bills we had then. My husband was spending money as fast as it came in claiming he was helping out his Mom, Grandma, or something. Soon, I found out he wasn’t helping out anyone. The money was going to drugs. Hard drugs this time around and he was addicted big time. I flipped out because how was he babysitting the kids if he was buying and doing drugs?
I decided to call Children and Families and the cops. I didn’t tell him of course but I did tell him I was done. We were fighting when the officer arrived. The police could tell I had been hit a few times and asked if I wanted to press charges but I said no. I just wanted him to be tested for drugs and tell me what my options were. DCF showed up and tested him. Drug dogs found some methamphetamines in the house hidden. He failed the drug test of course and was arrested.
When he got out he was on five years probation and was not allowed to live under the same roof with the kids. He was made to go to 40 hours of drug and alcohol classes. I hoped he was finally going to get the help he deserved.
My Mom told me to come back home. She was so proud of me for standing up for me and children that I guess it gave her some strength. She said I could stay with her no matter what Dad said until I got a place of my own.
My Dad called my husband and found out how everything happened. He was so mad at me for calling on my own husband and said that was not how I should have handled it. He invited my husband to come down with me and the kids and let him help us. I did not want that of course but I knew I couldn’t raise the kids alone and still work my jobs. I had no close family in Georgia to help me and here was my Mom offering to help me. I couldn’t pass that up. My Dad said when we moved back to Florida that my husband’s probation would carry over here and he would get the help he needed.
Soon after we arrived, my Dad, who was all a sudden on my husband’s side, set us up for counseling with our Pastor. My sister got him a job at an amusement park. A Florida probation officer came twice to visit and drug test him and then we never heard from her again. I called one day to see why she had not come around and was told somehow his probation was dropped. I still never figured out how that happened. He never even went to his drug and alcohol classes. He just got off scot-free. One of my celebrity clients under Hollyweb asked me to go into business with her running a clothing company. I took the job and still continued to work for the other celebs. We didn’t have to live with my parents but for a very short time before I rented us a house. However, just a few months after we moved in my Sister called to tell me my husband was messing around with another woman. I called me Mom and we drove to his work where we actually caught him making out with her in a car.
STILL, my Dad made a stink about me leaving him and the threats came back again. He said things like, “I made my bed now I have to lie in it.” He told me my husband’s behavior was my fault because I was cold to him or always working.
My husband was fired from that job too when my sister told management about his affair while on the job and showed pictures she had taken. I actually felt guilty like it was my entire fault he lost his job. My Dad had me convinced I was a horrible wife. I went to a local car auction and begged for them to hire my husband as a detailer. I told them we had just moved here and had two small children. The owner knew my Dad so it wasn’t like I just walked into a place begging a stranger to hire my husband. I was relieved when they gave him the job. It was an outdoor job just detailing cars so there didn’t seem to be much trouble he could get into. I was wrong. Just two months into the job he was fired for spray painting on cars and smoking weed.
That was the last straw for me. I called my best friend and told her and she said it was hopeless. I called a client of mine that I was really close to and told her and she said if I don’t leave I will never be happy. Seven years I gave everything I had to this man hoping he would change. I prayed daily and I poured my heart out to him. He went to therapy and the talks with our Pastor but he was set in his ways. He did not want to change. He didn’t want to lose his family either but if he had to leave a clean life with us then he would rather give it up.
I told him to take our car and his things and go home to Georgia. I told him to get clean and see what it is like to not have your wife and kids for a while. I was hoping he would have some life altering experience. In a few months, he calls saying he is clean and misses us so much and wants to come home. I swore on his life he was clean and hadn’t even seen his friends lately. I called a couple of family members and friends of his and got a complete different story. I also learned he was drunk when he called me. I called him back and told him not to come home. I would be filing for divorce and I did.
I struggled on my own with the help of some friends for a while. My close friend Mary and Rick helped me with the kids and with the clothing company. Mary moved in with me and helped with the bills until she lost her job. I couldn’t do it without her and eventually gave my Mom temporary custody of my two kids after losing my house.
I got a second job in a bakery and moved in with my friend’s parents for a while. I bounced around staying at friends homes for 6 months trying to raise enough money to make payments on my new car and save enough to get a place for me and the kids. I met my next boyfriend at work. He was the brother of a girl I worked with and needed a date for his company Christmas dinner. His sister decided to set us up. We hit it off pretty fast because I thought he was hilarious and very understanding. We were both open books and his past was just as messed up as mine. One thing we had in common is we both tried to hold on to things for too long hoping problems would go away or we could make them right. We both had been married before and both of us denied what was really going on in our marriages. He was the first person that didn’t seem to judge me or look down on me for my past.
After our first few dates, everything seemed to happen so fast. I had just got my own apartment and was starting over from scratch when he came into my life. I was struggling to make ends meet on my own with my daughter in school and my son in pre-K. The bakery wasn’t very understanding when it came to working my hours around my kid’s school. I was just about to break when he suggested I give up the apartment and stay with him and his Mom.
His Mom had a three bedroom house. My boyfriend had one room, his sister and her fiancé had another, and his Mom had the master. His sister had a son and her boyfriend had two children that visited on weekends. Although I loved them all, it was really hard to work from the house with so many people around. I had to tell my clients I just couldn’t do it anymore.
Because history and mistakes repeat themselves, I got pregnant again just a few months after moving in with my new boyfriend. I was very angry and bitter at God during this time so I no longer went to church. I was terrified of trying to raise a baby in a house full of people so I begged my boyfriend to get us our own place. I was full reliant on a man for the first time in my life. I had no job at this time because the bakery let me go as soon as they found out I was pregnant.
My boyfriend got us a small place close to my Mom so she could help me out when I needed. She had finally filed for divorce from my Dad and made him leave after over 20 years of abuse. When I was 4 months pregnant my boyfriend proposed to me. The kids loved him, I loved him, and we had a baby coming, so I said yes.
The next month we got a bigger home on some land. For the first time in my entire life I felt really loved and safe. I knew he would never hit me or physically abuse me. I knew he could care less about drugs. The only thing that kept him from being perfect in my eyes was our faith. He didn’t really have any faith but that all changed the second time he came to church with me on Easter Sunday. All was perfect in my world. I wasn’t mad at God anymore and began to realize I was just impatient and weak. I asked God to forgive me for my anger towards him and for sins I committed while I was angry.
Pregnancy hormones and sickness kicked in a little late with this pregnancy. Maybe because I was in love and high on life as they say. Going into my fifth money I started getting real sick at night and in the mornings. I became really emotional and stressing about things. I knew it was hormones and that I was being clingy towards my boyfriend but I couldn’t control it. My boyfriend’s job sent him out-of-town a lot and I would worry something bad would happen to him or to the kids and I while he was gone. At first, he was understanding and even invited me out to some jobs that weren’t too far away. I wasn’t totally crazy and stressing over nothing. I worried so much because he always had stories of his crane breaking down in the middle of the night on the interstate. That happened a lot. His truck wasn’t in the greatest condition and it broke down on him a few times causing him to almost wreck. Honestly, I felt like my life was too good to be true because I had never really been happy up till this point. I just kept waiting for something to come along and mess it up. I don’t know if it was the things my Dad said, things my Step Mom said, or just being my own critic that made me believes I didn’t deserve happiness.
Have you ever heard someone say, “Be careful what you put out there because you always get what you put out”? In other words, if you throw out negative energy you will get back negative things. I guess that is true because one weekend my boyfriend was gone for a few days. He came back seeming different. It was like he was on edge and arguing with me about any little thing. He had never acted that way before. The day before he left we had a romantic evening and talked about the wedding and the baby’s nursery. My friend Mary was there with me the entire time he was gone and we began plans for the wedding like my boyfriend told us to do. I was also working on some ways to bring in some extra money to surprise him with something special for his birthday.
As I stated, he came back in a real bad mood. He claimed he was just tired and aggravated and needed some space. I went to our bedroom to watch a movie, ironically it was “The Breakup” with Jennifer Aniston. I was 7 months pregnant at this time and the baby begun kicking and rolling around. Since the baby started moving, my boyfriend was talking to him and would get tickled watching him move in my stomach. I thought maybe it would cheer him up to see how active the baby was. I went out and sat down next to him on the couch and asked if he wanted to fill the baby. I told him how active he was and probably happy to hear Daddy’s voice. My boyfriend just said, “Not right now. I am trying to rest and watch my show.” He had never spoken to be with the tone he was using or acted like that before. It totally threw me off. I told him when he was feeling better we needed to talk. Suddenly, he sat up and was like, “Yea. Let’s talk now. I don’t want to wait.” I said something smart because he just didn’t want me bothering him and now he wanted to talk. He proceeded to tell me he wasn’t happy anymore and thought it was best I pack my stuff and go stay with my Mom for a few days. I was floored because never in a million years did I expect to hear that. He went through the whole, “it’s not you it’s me speech” and I was in tears as you can imagine. By the time he was through he told me just to stay at the house while he goes to his Moms and takes a little time to himself. He then grabbed some clothes and a bag and left.
I cried on my friend Mary’s shoulder almost the entire night. I was praying and begging God to let everything be okay. I blamed myself for my worrying and stress. I blamed the baby some for the sickness and hormones that made me act clingy at times.
A couple of days later a neighbor told me how she had seen my boyfriend at a party making out with another girl. She told me that was why he left because this girl was his high school sweet heart and just came back into his life. I didn’t want to believe it. He wasn’t that kind of guy. It had to be a mistake or a lie. Eventually, he showed back up at the house but only to tell me it was over and he was moving in with his Mom for a while. He denied there was a girl and just said he didn’t feel the same anymore. The rest after all that is irrelevant but he did end up leaving to be with another woman who he later married. I moved in with My Mom and had the baby. My Mom helped me get a new car ( the other one gave me to much trouble) and she helped me get everything I needed for the new baby.
I was back to being bitter and angry again. This time I was 10 xs angrier then before. I felt like God played a horrible trick on me or he just didn’t care at all. I knew that it was that anger and bitterness that got me into the situation I was in but I felt like this punishment was cruel and didn’t fit the crime.
Three months after the baby was born my ex boyfriends Father asked to see the baby. I was told he had some things for the baby and wanted to be in his life if I let him. I had no issues with my ex boyfriends Father so I agreed to bring the baby over.
It was Easter Sunday 2008 when I brought my newest son to meet him Grandpa. They were putting on an egg hunt for kids in the family. One of the family members decided to do some match making and introduced me to Chad. The man I am married to now. I know it must seem like I marry or get engaged to every man I meet lol but I did date others in between the three men mentioned.
Chad and I just dated for a while getting to know each other. He came to church with me on Wednesday nights and Sundays so he met my family right from the beginning. Every one liked him right away. I wasn’t really looking for love at the time but it just seemed to happen. He kind of barged his way in and took over. It’s funny to think about it now but he knew all I just went through and it was like he wanted to right someone else’s wrong. My two sons started calling him Daddy all on their own. My first husband wasn’t really in his kids life much at all besides a once a year visit and phone call every few months. After six months of dating, Chad asked me to marry him. This time I wasn’t so quick to say yes. I told him we needed more time to make sure it is going to work. Soon after dating for one year we eloped.
I wish I could end here and say we lived happily ever after but that’s not my luck. Soon after we married, I became pregnant with my fourth child. We had already gone through a couple miscarriages so I didn’t want to tell many people until we knew the chances of carrying the baby were high. I was just a little over 9 weeks pregnant when I started spotting and having what felt like bad gas pains. It was late in the afternoon and Chad had to work early the next morning. I told him I was going up to the hospital to be checked out. He asked me if I needed him and I said no, I was okay. I didn’t have to wait long before they called me back and ran an ultrasound. Long story short, I was pregnant with twins but one of them no longer had a heart beat. Further test showed I had cervical cancer. The second baby wasn’t doing so well either. I don’t want to go into detail but in the end I lost the twins. I got treatment for the cervical cancer and they were able to save my lady parts. However, they said I probably wouldn’t get pregnant again. Dec 4, 2009 of that same year, I gave birth to my fourth child, Bryson.
My pregnancy with Bryson was very rough. We had lots of complications and when I was 5 months pregnant I had to have my gallbladder taken out. Bryson came out healthy despite everything. I had my tubes tied when he was born. Both of my youngest sons were born by C-Section. One through emergency C-section and one by planned C-section.
Almost immediately after Bryson was born Chad started having seizures. He had seizures as a child and a few as a teenager but then they went dormant. We are not certain to what made them come back but when they did, they came back with a vengeance. Eventually, we had to file for disability because doctors could not get his seizures under control. They didn’t even know exactly what kind he had. It took two years to get disability and he spent countless hours getting various test. His finale diagnosis was pseudo-seizures also known as PNES seizures cause by PTSD. Chad was abused everywhere imaginable growing up. Even an extensive amount of therapy could not stop the night terrors, chronic anxiety and uncontrolled seizures. Medications seemed to only make him worse since they were treating him like an epileptic. Finally, we found the Emory clinic in Atlanta. They treated the trauma, stress, and anxiety with Valium. His seizures dropped down from three times a week to three times a month.
The first three years of our marriage was some of the scariest times in my life. Chad was in and out of the hospital constantly for an enlarged heart, extreme blood pressure, cluster headaches, or seizures that lasted too long causing damaging effects to his body. I became his care taker which meant I could not work outside the home. I missed out on a lot of work traveling from doctors to hospitals with him. Times were really tough and as I look back I don’t know how I made it but the grace of God. I give a lot of credit to my ex in-laws because they would keep the children for us when we needed to travel for specialist or stay long at a hospital. My oldest two children were their blood but they considered all four of my kids to be their grandchildren. I will love them forever for their kindness and their help.
After a few years in Georgia we decided to move back to Florida so Chad could see some of his old seizure doctors and therapist who already had knowledge of his case. He was able to get some part-time work that understood about his condition. Slowly, I picked back up on my work and Hollyweb Online began to blossom again.
In 2011, Chad was doing better, business was good, and I was staying busy volunteering for various charities. Life seemed to be giving me some time to breathe. Just as soon as the relief came it went away quickly. My grandmother was sick with cancer. She was my best friend and we were super close. I had two friends also battling cancer and one friend committed suicide. Each day I found myself getting weaker. I always felt sick to my stomach. The constant sinus infections came back. No one in the house would be sick but me so I knew it wasn’t something contagious. It was my childhood all over again but with the added fatigue.
Each doctor I visited in 2012 diagnosed me with manic depression and chronic anxiety. All it took was for me to tell them my symptoms and then explain that I work at home with four kids and take care of a husband with uncontrolled seizures. Between 2012 and 2013 doctors treated me as guinea pig trying me on several different anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications. Nothing seemed to help and the side effects only made me feel worse.
They found that I was fibrocystic, I had degenerative disorder, unspecified chronic anemia, and ortheoarthritis. The doctors just assumed it was due to an ongoing vitamin deficiency I had. I was put on Tramadol for pain, iron, a blood pressure pill, and Vistril for anxiety.
Still, I was only getting worse. In 2014, I started having faint spells. I could be fine one minute and the next just pass out on the floor. I began having confusion and restlessness. I hurt everywhere all the time but worse of all, I was just so tired.
I had to force my crummy doctor to do a blood paneling test. I’m not sure why but he tested me every month for three months. In the end, he told me all my issues were due to the vitamin deficiency and depression. I began to put on weight. My entire life I always stayed around 125 lbs and now no matter what I did I was gaining weight. Several times in 2014 I went to the emergency room for feeling like I was having a panic attack for no reason or for fainting. I was given every excuse in the book for why it was happening.
Besides my family, the only thing that gave me any joy during this time was my organization R.I.S.E. & Stand. I was able to use my own experiences to help others and make a difference. I felt like the organization gave me purpose. Still, as I was spending my day helping others, I was falling apart.
In early 2015, I switched doctors after moving to a new town. On my first visit she showed me how my medical files stated all three of my blood results came back showing all the signs for Lupus SLE. She said it was in my old doctor’s notes since 2012 so I should have known. I didn’t. The doctor never even spoke the word Lupus to me. I came home and went through all the papers with information that I ever got from my doctor but there was nothing about Lupus.
About a week after the new doctor told me I’ve had Lupus for 3 years without knowing, I had a three fainting spells in one day. The last fall sprained my ankle badly. My husband Chad took me to the emergency room where they performed an EKG, blood work, urine test, and X-rays. The results of the blood work showed a high positive ANA along with other indicators that Lupus was the issue. The hospital gave me two shots, prescription for steroids, and a bunch of pamphlets about Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.
However, my new doctor, who I just recently saw, will not give me the proper medication to treat my lupus until he has conducted the entire test himself. I just had the blood paneling test done again for the fifth time.
Each day I have to push myself to do the things I use to not think twice about doing. I tire very easily and if I over exert myself I feel nauseous and faint. Just like as a child, I am staying sick. I know it’s awful but I have become reliant on Afrin to breathe.
I have to miss out on a lot of activities in my children’s life. My husband, bless him, is not much help for me since he battles with his own health issues. No matter how hard I try not to I feel guilty about feeling so bad physically. I want to be the best wife, the best mother, and the best at my job. Unfortunately, most days I’m lucky to finish my work without having to lie down or start feeling faint. I have tried diets, yoga, re-arranging my schedule, hiring extra interns, and home remedies. Nothing seems to really help. I have always been a take control type person but at this point in my life Lupus is controlling me.
I have to wonder how, like my husband, stress and anxiety played a role in allowing the Lupus to consume me. If my life was different would I have Lupus? Did I always have it? I read so much about how stress and trauma can take a drastic effect on the body. It’s been proven time and again that people can make themselves physically ill from stress and anxiety.
If I had the answers would it really make a difference? I doubt it. The best I can hope for is for a cure to be found. I’m hoping the medication will at least help me feel like me again. I try to be as positive as I can but I must admit I am scared. I read uplifting messages like, “Lupus does not define you.” Maybe that is true once it’s properly treated but as of right it totally defines me. My dreams and goals are on hold. Instead of finishing college and traveling I am just trying to make it through a full day without crashing.
My job used to be so fun and exciting but now it can sting at times. As a PR and entertainment manager, I help make the dreams of others come true. I spend 12 to 14 hours a day working hard despite how I feel to make sure my clients get their happy ending.
There is no way to tell if I will ever do the things I have always dreamed of. Nevertheless, I have four beautiful children, a roof over my head, food on my table, my organization, and a job that allows me to be a blessing to so many people. Maybe that is my purpose. Maybe my awards are not for here but are in Heaven. Only time will tell. If you have Lupus or suffer from depression and would like to share your story with me please do so. A family member taught me the best way to help you if by helping others. I truly believe in that. I would love to get to know each reader. God Bless!
Katrina (Kitty) McCaffery.
Special Thanks for always bringing sunshine in my life goes to Mary Barrington, Rick Green, Lamar & Cheryl Hufstetler, Todd Petherbridge, and Jennifer Folds.