My First Ironman Journey

I don’t even know where to start this blog.  I can go back 4 years ago when I first started triathlon, not even interested in doing that type of distance.  I thought it was crazy, “No way” “There’s no time” “That’s just nuts” “That’s amazing, but my head is not even there right now”

Being in the city of San Diego, you get to know many triathletes in the circuit.  These athletes did all distances 10 times over. So me even talking about this race doesn’t give me bragging rights at all in comparison with their long lists of accomplishments, podiums, and so on.  Or does it?

So if you read my blogs you would probably know something about me.  My half a decade of being a single mother, nursing a special needs child back to health in the hospital for years, struggling with who I was and who I wanted to be.  If I could explain to you in so many words, I think of the movie the Pursuit of Happiness with Will Smith.   I always knew I was in the Pursuit of Happiness, and that’s all that mattered. It didn’t matter if I had a 12 year degree, a high paying career, or even if I had the biggest house in the richest neighborhood. Wherever God put me, I had been surrounded by love and had everything I had ever needed….this was content for me coming where I have come from. My favorite line from that movie, was when Will Smith told his son….

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One of my favorite quotes

This really sits deep in me, as I was told no so many times growing up and this threw me into a rebellious loop for years as I had no outlet.  I always knew I had an athlete within me somewhere, locked into the confines of what my parents could control.

I have to first start with being thankful with having the financial means to even be able have all the equipment needed to do triathlons, there’s also the costs involved, travel, hotel, food, oh, and a whopping $700 just to do the race! Again, God provided for us, and that’s the only way I can explain where I am today.

Second, I always give thanks for having the health to be able to continue to do what I do. After losing my father in law to pancreatic cancer earlier this year, it was such a hard thing to swallow. Shortly before that, my Aunt won her battle with lung cancer but not with pnuemonia.  Death is a never ending reminder that life is precious.

Earlier this year, my husband DNF’d at Vineman Full more than half way through the bike.  If it weren’t for his DNF we would’ve never made it home in time to say good bye to his father. While we made funeral arrangements, hosting the rosary for 9 days and taking care of family who flew in from Guam, we didn’t train for a straight 2 weeks, this was the most for me ever since being a triathlete.  With heavy hearts, we resumed training again for the next race shortly after, Silverman 70.3 in Henderson, NV. Unfortunately, due to work and inability to focus on training, my husband DNF’d a 2nd time.  I knew this stung his ego, his heart, and he questioned his father as to “Why? What are you trying to tell me?” I felt in my heart that it wasn’t in his timing this year, and he had to learn to let go and let God take over. I knew I had to make this my motto moving forward and race for him and his dad.

THE TRAINING: So everyone knows, training for an Ironman is no easy task, especially the last 2 months when you are building and building. brick after brick, swim- run, bike-run, run-bike-run, repeat! I usually spend the winter months with strength training and some cardio, occasional running races and just enjoy the time with loved ones and catching up on endless responsibilities.  Earlier this year, I was given the opportunity to be a part of the “A Team”, founded by Andi Neugarten and her awesome clothing line Alii Lifestyle (fka Active Angelz).  Shortly after joining the team, I then became her Social Media Director and the rest is history.

Breakaway Training was also a part of the A Team and I took on Felipe Loureiro as my coach he is also the founder of Breakaway Training and the Men’s Nytro Team. His plan was very easy to follow.  Although, I probably only got 85% of the workouts in because of my busy schedule and different injuries, blisters, etc. I trusted my training.

This year I wanted to make sure if I did this race, that I wouldn’t get to the point where I was sacrificing everyone’s time, sacrifice happiness, or my physical capabilities.  I listened to my body.  Rested when I needed rest, moved the days around that fit best for me, I didn’t make myself feel guilty if I could only do a 4 hour bike ride instead of a 5 hour bike ride because of my kids busy sport schedules. I had my priorities straight, and felt good about that the entire time of my training.

I love triathlon, but I love my family more.

THE INJURIES (Suck it up Buttercup, this is Ironman): Early on I had been recouping from hip flexor issues, neck and shoulder issues, all on my right side.  Then it navigated to my left foot and I had Plantar Fascitus. I must have spent thousands in Chiropractor, ART, massages, different shoes, just for the one injury which I have had on going since my 20’s from carrying my kids in the middle of the night when I worked 2nd shift for years. Either way, I stayed on top of it and was able to control the pain towards the middle of my training, then I got it under control as my training really started to build. This was important.

As the hours on my bike increased 3 hours plus, my shoes started to feel tighter on the bike. So much so that after 3-4 hours my left toe felt like it was going to explode!  So painful, every little bump I went over, felt like someone dropped a hammer on my left big toe. Every hour I had to take my foot out of my shoe to alleviate the pain, just so I could bike back home.

Because Ironman Arizona is flat, 90% of the bike is in Aero Position. Early in my training it was hard for me to sit in aero without some kind of shoulder and neck pain on my right side.  I was so inflamed on my right side that the pain shot up through a nerve on the side of my head and was like needles stuck in my skull and behind my ear.

So the result, my feet actually expanded, which required for me to get new cycling shoes, a whole size bigger! The pain in my right shoulder and neck subsided when I changed my helmet for better visual and head placement and continued with ART at the League Chiropractic, and weekly adjustments at Sweat Haus Chiropractic.  I also had to cut back on my swimming a little because the breathing side to side was aggravating my neck and shoulder pain.

My plantar fascitis was a little stubborn, I tried different shoes, Newton’s and Hoka’s.  The Newtons felt good at first, but as soon as I stopped running, I could barely use my left foot.  Hokas felt great and I was able to rid of the PF pain, but I had nasty blisters, on top of blood blisters. My one and only 20 mile run was a blister fest!!!! My shoes had to go!! So, 2.5 weeks before Ironman, I switched to Zoot Solanas and everything including blisters subsided almost completely.

RACE WEEK: During my last bike tune up before the race, Trek realized my 2nd hand wheel had a crack in it when I realized it was out of true. Great!  Thankfully my good friend and neighbor let me borrow her wheelset.  Because of this little mishap it delayed me “testing” my newly tuned up bike for my final brick which included an 80 min bike and an 8 mile run. This whole workout didn’t happen.  Sorry Coach!  The week prior to this I had stomach flu for a day and spend the entire day in bed, 2 days were lost. Basically the last 2 weeks leading up to the race I did nothing.  I did a couple 1 hour runs and 1-40 minute bike preview. I did no practice swim, no running at all race week.

Arriving in Arizona, I was already having flu symptoms. I was tired, achey and my eye balls felt like they were going to explode.  I literally could not feel like I could even run a mile, much less an Ironman Triathlon.  I stayed positive and kept a smile on my face as best as I could.

Saturday we did the Ironkids Run with the kids, it was there Ironman productions asked our kids to be interviewed and myself, my friend Jeff, Linda and their kids (you can watch the video below). They wrote down my bib number and the rest my husband texted them to let them know where I was the entire time, this was the only reason I was featured so much on their video. During the initial interview you can see that I was almost falling out of my chair and had no make up on, I was a hot mess and did not feel well at all.

I prayed every night for God to watch over me and I reminded myself, there was nothing else I could do, it was in God’s hands.  After 4 days of chugging Emergen C, Chlorella, CoQ10, Omega 3’s, multivitamins, I still felt the same!

A few months prior, I was introduced to Race Quest Travels. Because Alii Lifestyle, was their apparel sponsor, I was able to participate in their VIP services amd help promote them on Social Media. I not only got to meet Meredith Kessler and Felicity Joyce but felt firsthand what an amazing company they are. If you ever do an Ironman, do it with them! Additionally, through them, a rep from Vector 450 gave me some supplements for recovery.  I immediately took 4, then 4 before bed, and 4 more in the morning.  My husband also ran around town the night before the race to get me a Wellness Formula that was recommended to me.  I immediately took 8. I only had a protien box from Starbucks and a Chamomille tea for dinner that night. I couldn’t eat and felt horrible! I kept saying it is in God’s hands now and that kept me calm.

RACE DAY (Here we go!): That morning I woke up, I didn’t feel 100%.  If I asked myself, I felt 80%, so I took another 4 Vector 450 tablets, and 6 Wellness Tabs. I received some wonderful notes from my husband and it gave me one last push that morning that I needed. I ate my usual oatmeal with ghee butter, a banana and my green tea and I was good to go. I hopped on the Race Quest shuttle about 4:30 and got to transition realizing it was windy-I thought “oh no! there goes my bike split” Shuffling through transition I immediately dropped off my special needs and went to pump my tires. After filling up my water bottles it was porta potty line time. Realizing my husband wasnt going to make it in time to get my morning bags I hustled to turn those in and got in the line to the water to avoid being in the back when the gun went off.

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SWIM: This year because of loss of water due to drought we were only allowed to enter from the stairs. We were hearded like cattle and jumped in and scurried to the swim start. I lined up next to the buoys about 4 rows back. Then 6 rows. Ironman started 5 minutes later due to the bottle neck at the stairs and a ton of athletes still not in the water. I was by myself. No familiar faces in sight. It was ME vs ME.

Off went the gun and then madness of 2700+ athletes swimming for their lives. I got pretty beat up the first half, punched in the jaw, kicked in the nose, head dunked under twice, at one point I chugged so much water I had to stop, throw it up, then continue on. I could not wait for the turn around so I could go wide, it was here finally I could swim, I then made up time here. 1:36 was my time.

BIKE: running to transition I saw my family, hugged and kissed them all and then ran for my bag to change. I felt a gust of wind and it was freezing. I rushed whipped my wet Alii tri shorts off and put my Alii bike shorts on. I zipped my prepacked Alii bike jersey on, and Alii bolero sleeves on, helmet, shoes and off I went.

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The first 6 miles I took easy. Small sips of fluid. No food. Get the feel of the course and temperature. It went by so fast. My nutrition consisted of Organic chews from Pro Bar,(I like these because the caffeine comes from Yerba Matte which doesn’t give you the crashing feeling), Skratch Labs, both Hyper Hydration (a whopping 1700 mg of sodium) and Skratch Labs Matcha Green Tea flavor which I love Green tea, and this flavor has some natural caffeine in it also. I also use the Non-GMO Carbo Pro from The Triathlete Store.  I added water and perform along the way.  My plan was to stop half way and use the restroom. It was here I noticed what every woman dreads, yes fellas, I started my period. I had to make next stop at special needs to grab a tampon, and topped off my fluids. I continued on and stopped to use the bathroom to take care of my womanly issue. Then I hammered. Loop 2, I made 3 total stops. 3rd loop the wind got stronger, but so did I. I felt like I had my groove, I took an advil as menstrual cramps started coming. I took 1 immodium and 1 gas x, as I could feel from the swim possible GI issues coming on. I nipped everything right away! I ate sweet potato with sea salt and ghee butter (thanks Tamara Renee DNA for this idea). Real food makes me feel better!

The last lap I was worried as I saw a few of my friends at the bottom of the hill as I was headed to town. I checked my clock and hoped they would make the cut off. The bike was done and I felt amazing!! I stopped and hugged and kissed all of my family …AGAIN! I dismounted the bike at 7:12 which included 4 stops total on the bike.

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Yes everyone, I was digging for a tampon!

 

T2: I ran to get my bag, even hopped over bags, what? My legs weren’t dead! Thanks Coach Felipe! I planned to change into fresh clothes because I didnt want wet clothing into the night. I changed into Alii tri top and Alii Tri shorts. And of course another tampon change in the porta potties. Seeing my sister in the change tent was heaven. She gave me a big hug and told her I felt amazing! We laughed as she gave me homeopathic cloves which I threw in my mouth, and then spit out. It was too strong hahah. She massaged my knees with my Do Terra Deep Blue rub that I had in my bag. I got my hat and glasses on and then off I went! Oh, after I kissed my family… AGAIN!

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RUN: I had to slow down, feeling so strong I was running sub 9 minute pace and something told me to be patient. I saw my coach right away and he cheered. While going through that first mile, I was amazed, there were so many people. I couldn’t help but smile. I walked through every station and hydrated. I took Sport Legs half way through, Papaya Enzymes and Base Performance Salts on and off-thanks Matt Miller! At mile 8, Ironman producers found me and asked me questions during the run, I thought, way cool!!!

Cheers from Tri Club San Diego, cheers from my coach Felipe and his beautiful wife Michelle, cheers from my friends and family out on the course. I didn’t even realize I was smiling the entire time until after everyone told me I looked happy. It made me feel good that what I was feeling inside, transferred to outside.

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By mile 20, I was so happy. I was on top of the world. I had it in the bag. I used my time and stopped to give encouragement to a few people. Chatted them up and wished them luck. The last mile I almost cried, a man was walking faster than I was running. I complimented him, he was beaming. “Is this your first?” I asked, “Yes!!!” He beamed. “Oh my gosh congratulations, you got this in the bag!” He warmly said “Thank you, you too!” People kept saying “Almost there”. “Mike Reilly is waiting to say your name” “Keep smiling you are done”

FINISH: I turned the corner into the finishers chute and the Ironman producers who interviewed me came out of no where and shined his light and camera in my face. I was so startled I laughed. He said “You’re family is waiting for you on the left, go give them big hugs and kisses before you finish!! Congratulations!!”

“Oh, ok! I can do that AGAIN!! HAHA”  The lights were so glaring, people cheering, my heart was fluttering with excitement. Where is my family, I cant see? I looked and saw them in the crowd, I lost it. Everything that year flashed by me. I couldn’t believe this journey was coming to an end. I wanted to hug my loved ones and take them with me across that line, they deserved to cross as much as I did. It takes a village to train for an Ironman.

They kissed me and hugged me and my husband had tears in his eyes, and told me he was so proud, my heart sang!! He said “You did it baby, I’m so proud of you, NOW GO!!!!” Everyone yelling “GO LUANA GO!!!” I screamed with my hands on my head. “AAAAAAH OH MY GOD! I DID IT. I AM HERE!!” The camera man followed me and I couldn’t see anything. I didn’t even know what my time was. I didn’t care!!!

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One last kiss, before I become an Ironman! filmed by Ironman Productions.

 

Here it came, I looked behind me, I looked in front of me. I realized nobody else was running through the shoot. For a minute, I thought…”Did they close the finish chute down for just me?” Um, no Luana that’s insane. But something told me, “God can do anything” There’s behind the scenes talk about getting a good finisher photo and not having someone run in front of you and be in your way. There is always someone in the chute…always, except during my last moments. The lights, the cheers, I literally felt I was walking to the gates of heaven, my ears rang I didn’t even hear Mike Reilly say my name. I felt amazed, it was like the world stood still, that God lifted me up at that moment, the way I did Him the whole day. The way He told me to be patient and I listened. He told me to encourage others, and I did. He told me to love my family, and I did. I trusted.  I obeyed, and He rewarded me ten-fold. I felt so lucky, so blessed, so physically and so emotionally amazing, I didn’t want that feeling to end. Most people can’t wait to cross the finish. I savoured that last 5 miles, I helped others along the way, I even walked with some and gave them encouragement.

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THE CLOSING OF MY JOURNEY: Without even thinking I was living my motto, “Don’t just race, Be a Light”.  As soon as the gun went off….my flu went away, and God took over. I could hear my father in law, my grandparents, my auntie….all of them encouraging me. I had an internal spiritual cheering squad.

I crossed the finish with a camera in my face and held back tears of joy. The volunteers were so kind, wrapping me in a blanket, putting on my medal, guiding me to get my hat and shirt, still no other athlete was in the finisher area…just me! I took my photo and waited for my family. When they greeted me, my son Kai was borderline freezing and I felt for him.  I didn’t go to the tent for a massage from my sister like I was supposed to. Instead we rushed to the meeting place with Race Quest Travel to warm my son up.

After I felt amazing, I drank a chocolate milk immediately and then threw it up on the way back to the hotel. I felt so nauseas and was over the toilet before I went to bed and could only drink smart water. I didn’t eat until almost 10am the next morning.

I woke up at 3:30am checking my Facebook, my husband did an amazing job updating my friends and family. The videos, photos and tracking was nothing short of an Iron Sherpa. I reached over and cried as I hugged and kissed him in his sleep. “Thank you honey, I love you! You gave me an amazing day out there.” He was so proud of me and supporting me. I went in expecting the worst. My first Ironman ended up being….. the best race I have ever had.

SPECIAL THANKS: Thank you to Ironman Productions for choosing me and my children to highlight that day. What an honor! You can see the video here.

My Ironman Journey by Ironman Productions

Thank you to Andi, for creating Alii Lifestyle and such amazing clothes and for introducing me to Race Quest Travels as I experienced first hand how awesome their programs are.

Thank you to Jerry, Nancy, Mary and Mike who would watch our dogs when we were racing!

Thank you to my bros, Pat, Brandon, Frankie and Wandah, for always helping us when you can while we do this crazy sport. We love you!

Thank you to Krista, Kelli, Chris, Ryan and Julie from Race Quest Travels for taking care of me and my family on race day, for introducing me to Meredith Kessler and Felicity Joyce who are such amazing athletes with amazing heart, and got some precious pointers for that day. Chris Jarc, sorry for throwing up on the shuttle!! #racequesttravel @racequesttravel

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Me and Meredith Kessler, so happy to meet her before she won for the first time here at IMAZ!

 

 

Thank you to Roka Sports for Creating an amazing wetsuit, by far the best I have ever tried!  Thank you for sponsoring our A Team!

Thank you to A Team Sponsors, Dave and Amy from Speedfil for some last minute hydration tweeks to my bike. It was perfectly set up by the way! #speedfil

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Thanks Dave at Speedfil! (A Team Sponsor)

 

Thank you to Felipe Loureiro, for your seamless training plan, I truly felt like a million bucks the entire day! I will forever remember you as getting me to that finish line, while understanding my ups and downs.

To Trevor King, from Energy Lab for your amazing Swim expertise, without that, my swim may have been a lot different. By far the best swim coach I have ever had!

To all of my training buddies, Juliana, Tina, Toni, Jackie, Lisa, Kris, Stuart, Tristan, Lori, Steve, Mike, Mary, Alexis, Tristan and the rest of the IMAZ San Diego Group, you all kept me on the up and up, challenged me, and kept those long hours seem less burdensome.

To Noah Lam for creating the best support page on Facebook, all my Cactus Buddies, you helped more than you know both online and on the course!

Thank you TCSD for taking care of my family and feeding them when Rob needed to feed my kids!

Thank you Paula Munoz and Marcus Serrano and Lisa Rielly for the amazing photos that nobody else could capture!

And last but not least, thank you to my amazing family…..

To my amazing son and daughter in law, Keone and Mari for pulling an all-nighter to see me race until the end.

To my Sister Lani, for spending countless volunteer hours at races that I participated in and for giving me smiles in the changing tent. I love you!

To my Auntie Vicki, for your endless motherly support, and for being there for us during Vineman, I wish we were closer as time is precious with you!

To Norma and Alecsaundra for your wonderful home cooked meal, for helping Rob take care of my beautiful family and for staying until I finished!.

To my wonderful mother in law, Julie, you are such a strong woman, a wonderful grandmother and mother to your sons,  I know Dad was shining down on you that day!

To my husband Rob, who countlessly and unselfishly followed me throughout the day, you made me feel so special even when I felt like just another face in the crowd….but then again you do this every day and I love you for that. Your sacrifices will soon pay off my love, my best friend, this amazing man of mine!

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Me at the finish with my Iron Sherpa, I was so puffy from all the salt intake and freakishly pale!

 

Everyone who texted me and sent words of encouragement on Facebook, I love you all!

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My Family, My Cheering Squad, My everything!

 

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Luana, You Are an IRONMAN! 15:05:02, my husband says it should’ve been 14:05:02, but I enjoyed myself too much! haha

 

 

 


Paint a pretty little picture

Social media. The perfect format to paint a pretty little picture of your life. Be who you want to be. Like what you want to like. Post what you want to post. Or not……

There are still a few strange people out there who will say offensive things and its so easy to just Unfriend. Delete. Or Report as Spam. But in real life it’s not that easy.

My husband and I have been together for 14 years and married for 12 and we still cherish our time together. We have a busy household. Its amazing we even have time to share intimate moments to the world on Facebook. Such is the era of a smart phone I guess.

To celebrate my birthday early we decided to watch our wedding video. We were engulfed in that day. Remembering such a memorable moment. We laughed. We cried. Our kids were so amazed how little Keone and Kaila were. It rekindled even more love than we thought we could have.

One thing that raised our eye brows were how many couples at our wedding were no longer together. Saddened by the thought, we were thankful. As no longer being together was never an option for us, never. I think most people, of course, hide behind closed doors, paint a pretty picture…but inside it’s a mess.

Whatever the reasons were of course, are none of our business. It may be both parties, or one-sided. Then, ever notice when a couple splits up, someone also becomes someone you never knew? Or when a couple splits up you feel you have to take sides? Or one side actually falls off the face of the earth and hangs out entirely with a different crowd? Sometimes, I remember thinking WOW did NOT see that coming. It was like watching Ironman Kona, wow did not see Crowie finishing 12th! Did NOT see Macca backing out or giving up.

Well, either way, one thing that I can attest to is YES in social media, I too paint a perfect picture. Although only God is perfect, this picture of my life, its perfect for me. My diet is not perfect. But it is perfect 80% of the time. My marriage, well, I can say is perfect. But I went through an ugly picture to get to this one.

Embracing my husband’s need to grow and he embraces my need to grow is a part of being in a strong relationship. I also know God must be a part of that. You also must have the attitude of “I am not going anywhere” or “Quitting is not an option” the word “divorce” should never be in your conversations unless you absolutely mean it. Once it enters your thoughts, conversations, and arguments, it becomes the topic of your conversations. That’s a no no!

YOU ….meaning, you and your spouse BOTH should be the topic. How did your day go? What is important to you? And how can I help you? How are you feeling? Open your heart. This goes for all relationships, not just marriage, but friendships also.  We have a saying….I wear the pants in the family, I wear one leg and Rob wears the other. Guys have the automatic dominant role, or do they? Well, a marriage is of 2 people. That’s 1 +1= 2. Not 1 and a half.

In triathlon, we have to lay out our plan, and execute separate paths, but somehow in the end, our paths join again once the journey of race day is over. Or he has a plan, and I stay out of his way. Or I have a plan and he stays out of my way. Either way, it’s a journey we have together, as well as separately at the same time. So what I am trying to say is YOU may have different goals and ways of attacking situations. It is important to let a man be a man as this IS his design by nature. And your role may sometimes require to fade into the background….so what?! Its not about YOU. It’s about WE.

GOD…God should be the center. And most couples have no idea how to do that. It may be you two need to have your separate relationship with God in order to share it with each other. Each person has different levels and strengths when it comes to fellowship and worship. If your partner has no interest, well you need to pray for your loved one and set an example, and be the rock for them or vice versa. In time, they are sure to open their hearts as long as you are in it. Oh yeah, and give credit to God.

TIME…time is so important. I actually didn’t want anything for my birthday this year. I am so thankful for everything that I don’t need anything else…except time. More time with my kids. More time to write. More time to do laundry. More time to train. More time with my husband. More time with friends. More time to serve. Catch my drift? Of all things, budget time wisely and when you have it, savour it!! Meaning,  don’t rush through your date, be thankful for it. Just making time to call or text a friend. Make it a priority. Having lunch with your loved ones. Making time, is a precious gift. Dont ever take that for granted. Being a triathlete, time spent training becomes a priority during the season.  Taking advantage of our time off during “recovery” weeks which still includes 10 plus hours of training. You learn to improvise, do without things, sacrifice sleep, track progress, eat right, sacrifice social life, etc.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could do the same for God or our loved ones? Lastly, take time for you!  Schedule girl time, bro time, a massage, a pedicure, hair, facial, movies….schedule a huge block of time for that.  If something takes 2 hours, schedule 4 hours, so you aren’t rushing and are prepared if something gets in the way.  I am sooo guilty of this. But doing this takes away unwanted stress. I know a mom who scheduled volunteering at school, knowing well enough that was the only time she could workout.  Not working out made her miserable, then came the weight gain.  I suggested: Why not schedule volunteering late morning and shower at the gym?  Well, of course there were a million excuses. “oh no I will NOT shower at the gym” “Oh my hair HAS to be fixed”  But again, where there is a will there is a way. Any personal trainer will tell you this is toxic, excuses, are what really get in the way.

Use these top 3 things to paint your pretty picture of life. Always use your joys to lift someone else, use your mistakes to learn and grow, learn to speak softly when angry, pray before everything, and you will see your life flourish beyond what you imagined.

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Truth of the story…..

This past year I have been laying my life out there in my blog. Some will like it. Some may not. I chose to write….well, let’s say I was inspired to write. Not for others really, but I just had a story to tell, and because I believe God was so influential to me that I wanted to ackowledge that. So what if people get offended if i use the word God. Or if I quote bible scriptures. Truth of the story, is very much real whether you like it or not.

Lets talk about being offended for a minute… I don’t get offended by gay marriage. In fact, my brother in law is gay. My dear friend is gay. I have been to gay bars in support of them. Although it wasn’t for me, I wanted to be open and accepting. After all, Jesus didn’t hang out with kings and queens, tax collectors or the wealthy. He followed people who needed him. God sees sin as sin, gay or straight we all sin, we are all equal in his eyes.

I do get offended when people don’t pay attention to their kids, I get offended when people trash other people, not even so much me but other innocent people. I get offended when people judge other people, when someone lacks sympathy, respect and love for others.

I love it when even I catch myself and have to ask God for forgiveness. I love the fact that I can say sorry, because for some it is really difficult. I also love when I can teach our kids something of value and I see it flourish in them.

Most of all, I love it when God lines up a valuable lesson, a situation that is inevitable and undeniably His doing.

For instance, I had to take my son to a birthday party at Nickel City. I gave him $5 for extra nickels. After dropping him off, we were exiting the shopping center and at the corner was a woman with her 2 children. A girl the same age as mine, and a son the same age as my son. Her sign said “Lost my job-please help” I rolled down my window and grabbed the remaining $3 from my wallet, wishing I still had the $5 that I gave to Kai. “I am so sorry about your job, God bless you”. Her starlit eyes broke my heart, and I also knew it was 50 degrees out. Which never happens in San Diego. “Thank you soo much, God bless you” she replied. Guilt set in as just the day before I was a wreck from a crazy day I had. Here she was out in the cold asking strangers for money, while I am in my warm house complaining about nonsense.

I have been judged for doing this act of kindness. I have even grown up with my parents calling these people on the streets “drug addicts” “drunks” and the like. But I am different. I think with a pure heart.

I had to go back later to pick up Kai from Nickel City and bring his basketball clothes, meet my husband and play tag team. I drove a different route from the shopping center as I needed to get gas. At the light there was another man with a sign “Family Needs help.” He made eye contact with me and I felt badly. My walket was empty. Shoot! I gave $5 to Kai, and the remaining $3 to the mother and her children.

The light turned green and I drove to the gas station across the street. God was tugging at me. I was contemplating going to the bank, until low and behold…I pulled up to the pump, and got out of my car- there on the ground was a $5 bill!!! Woah!!! I pumped gas, and pulled out. I knew I had to give this $5 back. I crossed through the intersection hoping no one would follow behind me so I can stop, I hope the other man I saw was still there!! He was. I pulled up, rolled down my window, “Here you go, God bless and Merry Christmas!” I think he recognized me and gave a big smile, He spoke so sweetly and said, “Hey thank you so much, Happy Holi…I mean Merry Christmas and God bless you too!” And that was it. Kaui was in the back and she said “He was so nice mommy, he said God Bless you”
“Awe Kaui, he was very nice wasn’t he?” “Yeah mommy everybody needs to say God bless you and Merry Christmas”. Yes! One parental goal accomplished!

When I finally got to my destination, I waited for my husband in the car for a few minutes and checked my instagram. Nelson Mandela’s recent death has poured in numerous quotes and inspirational sayings by this man. One that stuck out immediately, confirmed that it was no mistake. The quote read “Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man made and can be removed by the actions of human beings”. His death made me sad, I never knew this man before. Somehow now gone, his impact remains and rings loudly more than ever. So thanks Nelson Mandela for the insight, thank you God for confirming I needed to give back as it doesn’t belong to me. May you always say God Bless you, even to strangers. Don’t be afraid you will offend someone by using the word God or say Merry Christmas. Don’t let society dictate what should be said and not said, given or not given. True story!


Im so angry today!!!

So today was a really crazy day. Right now my forehead has 2 big creases in between my eye brows from being angry. I have been through so much in my life. I have nothing-absolutely nothing to be angry about!

Why is that?
5:00am: Alarm goes off because Kaila needs to have labs drawn. The lab opens at 6:30am

5:35: Shower done, head downstairs to pack Kaila’s lunch for the day and be sure I put her ipad in her back pack. Back pack in the front seat of my car, along with her shoes. Because Kaila’s behavior has change, I have to put her shoes in the front, as well as her backpack. She will go in her bag and take her lunch out, eat it, throw it, throw her ipad in the back…. Occasionally, take her shoes off, throw them, take off her jacket, shove it in her backpack. List goes on and on of endless possibilities. Are you feelin’ me?

5:40: Packing done. Time to wakey wakey Kaila girl. She gets up. Whew thanks Jesus, thankfully no ileostomy explosions this morning.

5:45: After taking Kaila to the restroom, and wiping her bottom (sorry details are necessary to tell the story right?), I brush her teeth, help her rinse, wipe her mouth.

5:50: Now time to change her clothes. “Wait right there Kaila” I search her already crazy room for underwear and something warm and cozy to wear. Checked the weather and it says high of 63, brrr. I locate clean folded clothes amongst the 4 laundry baskets of clean clothes (hey they are clean at least!) A thermal henley, a warm vest hoodie sweater, my old yoga pants because the folder over waist works well with her ileostomy, clean undies and clean socks.

6:00: Back to the room to kiss Kaui and my husband good bye. Feeling guilty my husband has to get the 2 little guys off to school and ready. The day before he had a biopsy to test for prostate cancer.

6:05. Downstairs to warm up my green tea, load up Kaila in the car.

6:10: Ay! Move my husbands car for parking behind me.

6:12: Off to Scripps

6:21: Arrive at scripps, yes! only 3 people in front of us. Get our pager and have a seat. Kaila immediately goes to sit and does her usual examination of reading material. Not so much to read but to steal.

6:40: Pager goes off. Lab Tech seats Kaila and straps latex around her arm. No vein there. Switches to other arm. Kaila resists her. Another tech comes in to help. Thank goodness they are both filipino. Kaila’s more culturally biased if they are filipino. Ha!

6:45: We are then moved to another room with a wider chair so I can sit next to Kaila to help hold her down.

6:50: Strapped in the butterfly needle goes in. Thankfully the blood starts to flow and Kaila begins to relax. She knows the worst part is over. She starts to giggle.

7:00: 5 vials of blood later, next comes the pee cup. Oh gosh. She just peed an hour ago. Dunno if she will go, cross fingers and pray she pees! Pee in a cup success! Yay Kaila baby!! Giggle giggle in the bathroom.

7:08: Success we are back in the car, text from teacher needing money for her bus pass. Swing by the bank, then to get breakfast for kaila. Gas only 8 miles left. Stop to get gas.

7:21 Arrive at school. Chat with teacher and get Kaila settled.

7:40. Cool I have time to go home and put some make up in my beat up tired face.

7:55: Home to my sweet doggies, let’s go outside, who wants a treat? Tonka rushes outside for a treat. Meeka’s not playing my game. Husband texts me 6 times. Telling me he’s dropping kids to school.

8:00. Eye brows done. Some powder, chapstick. I am good for the gym. Oops cleaning lady coming today. Unlock the dead bolt. Grab a protien bar for post workout. Grab a water bottle.

8:15: Out the door

8:20: Last minute texts to hubby updating him on my morning. He couldn’t find Kaui’s folder. Um, same place as last night? Duh! He says. Sheesh!!

8:25. In the gym I go to workout with Christine and our trainer AJ. I switch out my UGG boots to my KSwiss, and head for the treadmill to warm up.

8:30-9:30: AJ begins with dymanic stretching, high knees and whatever he could to jerk around with Christine’s imbalances. First up tire drags, tire battles, rings I’s and T’s. Next kettle bell swings, leg lifts, hammer swings, bicep curls, tricep presses, shoulder blade pulls. Workout done! In car, shoving a protien bar in my mouth.

10:00: Head home to check the dogs and grab my Art Corp book. Checking emails and deleting emails

10:15: Arrive at school stop to use the bathroom. Go to ART corp room for prep. Mission: cutting 11×17 paper… 33 to be exact, 28 students plus me, plus extras, plus 33 warm up paper strips, pack the cart with newspaper, sponges, brushes, water cups, paint cups, paint, paper towels, paper plates, wipes, art samples, visual aids. Now to draw 6 numbered sections onto the paper plates to be used as paint palettes. Ugh!

11:20: Head back to office to sign Kai out for his Orthodontist appt. In the meantime, I am calling for last minute hay bale rentals for our neighborhood holiday party for 200 people this Sunday. No we don’t deliver that far. No we don’t have that many bales. No we don’t rent bales. No no and no!!!! Ugh!!! Giving up now try later.

11:25: Walk to Kai’s class to drop off Art supplies and pick up Kai.

11:30: Off to orthodontist, and chat to Kai about his day. He says nothing out of the ordinary.

11:45 Check in at ortho for his 12:00 appt.

12:24 Kai is still sitting in the chair. Half the office is gone. I ask whats going on, they said “Oh. We will get to him next”. I gently reminded them his appt was at 12:00. “Sorry, We had an emergency so we are a bit behind” hmmm that information may have been useful 24 minutes ago. Ugh! They finally get to us and the doctor tells his assistant what to do then leads me upfront to schedule Kai’s next appt. Check phone see text and missed call from my friend Andrea. Told her I would call her when I got settled at next stop.

12:40: Off to Rubio’s to feed my 8 year old who eats like a man. (did I mention I am still in workout clothes since 5am?)

12:50: Off to school to get Kaui from cheerleading. When we arrive we ate in the car. We were both starving! Then got out to get Kaui from her class. Finally have a minute to call my friend Andrea back. She’s been absent from the gym from back issues and was happy to hear she finally went to see a chiropractor. We talked about her misbehaved doggie and then I had to get back in the car. Said a quick love ya girl and I was a taxi driver again.

1:40: Kaui finishes and insists to tell me to watch her on the playground. “Ok 5 minites baby
1:46: arrive outside house bus is waiting there with Kaila. Just in the nick of time. Pull over. Get Kaila off bus. Back in the car. Open our gated neighborhood. Pull in garage. In house.

1:50: Feed girls their meals from Rubio’s. Put dogs out. Phone is dead. Charge phone

2:00: Kai starts math homework. I get Kauis homework ready for after she finishes her afternoon meal.

2:10: Kai asks for help with homework. I try to explain to him. He gets impatient. I told him I was trying to help. He demands an answer. I say no. He says yes. All hell breaks loose. Kaui starts math homework. Shes counting dots and assignment is number line. Turns out daddy showed her the night before to use dots. Ummm. Daddy didnt read the assignment. Great! Retrain. Not having it. All kids are a mess. Dogs start wrestling. No I am losing control. Kaila in garage. Throwing shoes in my car. Kai crying because his braces hurt. Kaui crying because shes in time out from not trying to do her homework correctly. Now Kai is in time out for watching you tube videos instead of doing his writing assignment. He still didn’t finish his math and show his work.

2:40. Rob gets home. He tries to help. He has no clue. Asks me. I point to Kaui’s homework sheet. He says I don’t know. Its on the fridge every day. He starts counting dots. I told them no! Its Number Line!!!! Read the sheet!! What sheet?? Oh my gosh!!! My hands are wet. Im washing dishes. The sheet in the fridge. Deer in headlights. Im slowly starting to lose it.

2:50: I realize I need to go upstairs and just get away for 5 minutes. Im freezing. I get under the blankets and start blogging. Writing this helps me figure out my thought process.

3:30: Still in bed. Exhaustion sets in. Needing to close my eyes. Then Rob comes upstairs to check on me. Nap over he doesnt know password for Kaui’s reading app. Its on fridge. Oh. I texted him the password. Nope its not on fridge. Must have disappeared like the homework sheet. Email her teacher. I was off by one digit on the password.

4:00: I could hear kids playing downstairs. Hmmm wonder if they finished. I could hear Kaila in the garage. Her usual listening to the ipod dock. In and out the door.

4:30: Time to get Kai to baseball practice. Rob loads up the car. Rob has the kids because I have to work at 5:30.

5:00. Leave to work and teach a circuit class at Sony. After wracking my brain and sucking it up I pushed the class through an hour of torture. I feel I am most motivated when I am angry.

6:30 Class done. I am sweating. I am freezing. I am hungry. I am tired. I am borderline manic.

6:45. After cleaning up and signing out. I decide to go to Jimbo’s as I need a fresh squeezed juice. I get Kaila one too.

7:10. Arrive at home. My juice is already gone. I am flustered. Trying to get energy. My body is not having it. I collapse on the couch.

8:00: After catching up on our DVR for a bit I literally feel like I can’t move. I patiently wait while Kaila finishes her beet juice. I am dreading the fact that I still know I have to change Kaila’s ileostomy. NOTE: I am still in my workout clothes since 5am.

8:15: I finally conjur up the strength and peel myself off the couch. “Come on Kaila baby!” She skips upstairs with me. Without words I know she is happy she is going to take a shower and change her ileostomy. I start to gather her supplies and pajamas and we head to my room.

8:25: Kaila is swaying back and forth as I am washing her hair singing “Stupid Boy”
Next came her loud laughs. I am loving it so I realize the more I sing the more she laughs and sings with me. “You can’t fence that in, Stupid Boooooy, it’s like holding back the wind, she lead her heart and soul right in your hands…Stupid Boy!”

8:35: I quickly get dressed and prep Kaila’s bag, get her dressed and then we head to her room. I change her sheets and blankets. I then give her a water bottle to drink.

8:45 She sips quickly and smiles as she lays down. I know she is happy and content. Fresh bag. Fresh sheets. I kiss her good night. “Ga-GaGa night” stress of the day slowly melts away.

9:00. I am finally crawling into bed, sore, exhausted, amd beating myself up because I was so frustrated from constantly going all day. I may not have a 9-5 “job” but it is definitely just as demanding.

9:15 Thoughts fill my head and know I need to write about my day, put things in perspective. Help calm me down for a good nights sleep. I take these moments to thank God for the things I humanly forget. I realize I need to be thankful.

9:30. I am laying down. My sweet husband grabs me some water and tells me he loves me. I tell him the same and we kiss.

9:45 Both exhausted from our days. We laugh a little about how we are both going to conquer a full Ironman race next season. He plays his game. I blog. And we sleep.

Just writing about a day like this helps me realize I have NOTHING to be angry about. But through the day its hard to realize as I am so engulfed in trying to fight exhaustion. I am human. I am a sinner. I feel stupid. I feel selfish. Thank God he always gives me these angels in my life to keep me grounded. “Seek and you shall find”


Why me? Part 10

I woke up after a long night at work. I stood up from bed and heard water coming from somewhere. I realized it was me. My water broke.

Just 2 weeks earlier, I had proved everyone wrong. I graduated high school in my cap and extra large gown. I had the best grades I did my entire high school journey. I had gotten a full time position at my job. I had friends who supported me. I knew God was counting on me and so was Keone. I was still living with my mom but had the room ready for Keone. All his clothes were washed. Diapers stocked.

I had my step-sister take me to the hospital. Keone’s father couldn’t drive and had to wait for a ride. Everyone started coming to the hospital. I was clueless. They had me lay there in labor. My water was already broken 12 hours, labor was intense. I saw 3 women in the bed next to me come and go. One lady was screaming so badly I was frightened. She already came to the hospital dialated at 8cm. Her boyfriend was high as a kite and I felt so badly for her. Her screams intensified my pain because I would tense up, all I could focus on was her pain and mine. She was only in my room for 15 minutes.

Keone’s father showed up. He was hyper and I knew better. I didnt say a thing. I was too engulfed in pain to hear any of his excuses. Miles came to the hospital with his bible and Adidas tracksuit. His wife Debbie was also pregnant with their third child. I had never meant a more gentle soul than his wife Debbie. She lent me her maternity clothes as she was still early in her pregnancy. My mom even came, she said “Oh my gosh my baby is having a baby!” Hmmm I will take that. I know it wasn’t ideal circumstances, being 17 and having a baby.

There were many other motherly figures in my life. Godly women. My step sister Lisa who saved me. My step-sister Donna who never made me feel badly for my youthful decisions. My grandma and my Auntie Vicki who were always there for me when my mother wasn’t. My own sister Lani who despite her struggles made time for me when she could. Mel, my mother in law, for even though she was disappointed in us for being too young, she always was there for Keone as much as she could. My first bible studies teacher, Francie, who taught me so much about depicting the Bible. I admired her love for God and how she gave her time freely to teach us. My friends at the time saved me too. Despite my faults, they supported me and my madness also known as my life. I was still finding myself, of course, I was 17.

These women were in my thoughts during those painful hours of labor. I clutched to the hospital bed, and had to close my eyes and breathe slowly. I envisioned Jesus walking on water, as the two together soothed me. 20 hours went by and the sun was up again. I never dialated that whole time. So they finally gave me an epidural. I was in heaven. After a gruelling 21 hours of extreme pain, exhaustedly I fell asleep. I was awoken by the doctor checking my cervix. I had only dialated to 2 cm and he said, “Ok lady, looks like you are having a cesarean, this baby isn’t coming out.”

My sister looked so worried. She was the last face I saw before being wheeled off to the operating room, I loved her concern for me as she held my hand when they wheeled me out. It all happened so fast. They made me drink some funny liquid and started shaving my crotch! It was weird. I couldn’t feel a thing. I was exhausted and scared. My eyes started to water. Keone’s father came in the room and sat next to me on one side of the curtain. I felt tugging and pulling, pressure. The doctor was rough.

Keone’s father jumped up when they said “It’s a boy'”…I knew it. His cry was sweet and gentle. He was big and healthy. I couldn’t breathe all of a sudden. Panic-stricken. The anesthesiologist asked me what was wrong. “I am going to throw up” He put out a tray and I threw up. Keone’s father left my side to help clean up Keone. They wrapped him in a soft blanket tightly and laid him on my chest. I kissed his forehead. It was surreal. I cried for joy inside. Thank you Jesus. Then I don’t remember a thing after that.

I was completely exhausted. Almost in a coma. The nurse kept tickling my feet. I could hear my heart monitor alarm going off, then the nurse would tap me. My breathing would stop. I was getting angry, “Let me sleep, I’m fine” I whispered.  I couldn’t wake up. It was borderline unconscious. They transferred me to my room but don’t remember anything. I woke up for a few seconds in extreme pain. I kept saying I couldn’t breathe. I had so much pressure inside I felt I was going to explode. I saw friends in my room watching them move me to my bed in horror. I was crying in pain. I remember a nurse lifting my gown and shooting something in my butt and I was off to sleep again.

I had nurses in and out of my foggy memory. Checking my temperature. I heard something. Someone was giving me medicine in my IV. Telling me to open my mouth to take my temperature. I was alone. Friends were in and out. My memories were like scanning through channels on TV. I heard the nurse say 103.1. Huh? Ok back to sleep but first drink this pitcher of water.

I had Keone at 2pm, I didn’t wake up until 10pm. I had no idea about rules in the hospital. If the baby was with me in the room or not. When I woke up Keone’s dad was there changing his diaper. Talking to him. He was kissing him. Feeding him. I had realized it was dark again. “What day is it?” What time is it?” What room am I in? Who else is here?”

He told me everyone left. It was after visiting hours and I was completely knocked out for 6 hours. I couldn’t move. I was starving. He paged the nurse. A large black woman entered the room. Without skipping a beat, she told me to open wide. Took my temperature. 102.5. Huh? “You need to drink more water honey” I looked at her dumbfounded because I was in a coma for the last 6 hours…”you have a serious infection, so we are giving you antibiotics for 7 days”. Excuse me what?
“Yes you have to stay until the antibiotics are completed”. Oh great! “How is your pain level?” Ummm like an alien ate my insides? “Did your milk come in?” She began to poke my boobs. Excuse me what….? I am new at this remember? She said I need to try to feed the baby.

It was so weird to me, she reached in my shirt and grabbed my entire breast and yanked it into Keone’s mouth. Without skipping a beat Keone ate away. My stomach immediately began to contract. Help!  She reminded me my uterus will shrink when I nurse. Great! I am still feeling like an alien ate my insides and now my breast is being yanked from my chest, all the while the lady next to me is letting her baby cry ALL night long. I cried in pain, again she shot something in my IV, and I felt better. I was so young and clueless, I didn’t even bother to ask what it was they were giving me.  I just knew when she asked what my pain level was say 9 or higher!

Because of my infection and fever, they were kind enough to let me sleep the first night. Again, the mothers next to me came and went, this time with their crying babies. Somebody! Get up and feed her baby! I pressed the button. The nurse came in and didn’t ask me a thing, she heard the other baby crying and immediately picked the baby up from the basinet and told the mom next to me she had to nurse. Im sure she grabbed her breast like she did mine and shoved it in the babys mouth. I could hear the baby gulping. Gasping for air. She was starving for christ-sake. My new found heroism of surviving 24 hour labor AND a C-Section, AND an infection with 103.1 fever, gave me the right to say…girl, what is your excuse? get up!!

The next morning some of the morphine they gave me started to wear off. I had a cathedar still and they didnt let me out of bed for 3 days. I was learning to nurse Keone but was in extreme pain, it was unbearable. I know its bad, but I would think of Jesus being tortured and thought- I can do this! Just give me pain meds!

Round the clock they checked my temp. Filled my ice water. Changed my pad.  They offered to take the baby as they knew my fever, surgery and infection gave me a free pass to only have Keone during feeding. Other mothers had their babies all day. Most mothers were out in 1 day. I was still stuck there another 4 days. They used a sanitary belt for my bleeding. Changing me and rinsing me 2-3 times a day was humbling. Trying to get comfortable was difficult. Pillows between my knees helped amd one behind my back was the only way I could sleep. Before I knew it I looked around my bed and had 6 pillows at one point.

They finally removed the cathedar and made me get up. I will never forget the first time getting out of bed. My insides had staples I couldn’t look. I felt ugly, I felt mutilized, I felt like I wanted to cry all day. My feet hit the floor and my core muscles felt like someone sawed me in half. I could barely move my feet and take a step. I had to slide my feet across the hospital floor. I couldn’t stand up straight. After 5 minutes I was done.

I couldn’t get back into bed without the same excrutiating pain ripping my stomach. I know I had to move to get better, it was probably one of the hardest things I have ever endured in my 17 year old life.

Each day in the hospital was getting somewhat easier. The walks were getting better but getting in and out of bed was hard. The first time I had to pee without a cathedar was like I was peeing another child out of my urethra. I was bleeding everywhere. Finally the staples came out and it helped a little but I still felt like frankenstein and knew my beach days were over. I cried at the thought.

Night 5 at the hospital, My future father in law Art, came to visit. He told me that Richard went out after leaving the hospital to a party the night before. Oh really? Because he told me he was at home, called me from home said good night, then went out without me knowing. Art then told me he got jumped by a gang and his friends then rushed him to the emergency room but was released and didn’t get home until 5am. My heart sank. So don’t want to deal with this. If having a child doesn’t change you, nothing will. Lord give me strength.

Later that day he dragged himself into the hospital to visit me and Keone. I always questioned why I was with a person who brought me so much pain. I tried to believe I was doing right for Keone. The first words that came out of his mouth, “So my dad told you what happened”  my head was screaming, clueless…he WAS clueless. I asked why he lied to me. The story was always the same, a big fat lie, followed by a big fat guilt trip pointed at me. He limped to the chair beside my bed, then fell asleep. Why even bother. Lord give me strength.


Why me? #9

I was a week past my due date, I got off late from work that night. Co-workers thought I was crazy for working past my due date. Keone just didn’t want to come out.

I was used to being called crazy at this point. My parents doubted me, and said I wouldn’t finish school, they said I would be like my sister and drop out. When she said that I gasped inside. My mom had no shame for what she did. She blamed my sister for things. I hated that and she knew it. She dug in deep like a knife stabbing. She couldn’t see how badly I was hurting. She was clueless. I was angry at my mom for moving my sister against her will to live with my Aunt. I will never forget that day.

I cried harder than I had ever cried in my life at that time. It was like a part of me was gone. I got a message at school to go to the office. Once there I got a message to call home. My mom told me she took Lani out of school and was sending her away to Santa Clara to live with my Aunt.

My mom had packed her things, took her out of school and took her to the airport. All behind our backs. I was in the middle of my day at school and I couldn’t stop the tears. Who does this? My sister got on the phone and we cried together. I will never forget that….my first experience of having my heart ripped out from me.

I had wished my mom got me out of school that day, I may have been able to talk her out of it….well, probably not. My mom was very self-righteous and was never wrong. My sisters destiny may have been different, and possibly mine too. I blame that very day for changing my sisters life forever. I blame my mom for never being able to say sorry. Both were out of my control.

I stayed away from home as long as I could at a friends house. I walked home in the dark. I was only 12. I think about it now how wreckless that was and how my mom wasn’t sending a search party out for me. It was then things changed for me.

After a semester, my sister was in the middle of my family’s battle over my grandparents care and she moved back to San Diego to stay with her boyfriend. I was so happy she was back. But I was still angry with my mom for what she did. She destroyed our family, gave up on my sister and didn’t care how it affected me. She said “It has nothing to do with you!” It was “only” my family, but yes nothing to do with me. I had never been so angry and felt helpless.

I began to rebel, I felt empty. I experimented with drugs. I lost my virginity. I had no regard for myself. I was hurting inside. I ditched school all the time. I would get into fights and not fight back. I chose the wrong friends. I let guys use me. I broke the nice guys hearts. I got pregnant. I had an abortion.

My sister took me and stayed by my side. I was more comforted by her than anyone else. I cried the whole time. My sister was someone I could tell anything to. How I had wished my mom never did what she did to her. We grew closer from it. I couldn’t tell my mom. I looked up to my sister even though she was struggling, I blamed my mom for that. She was only 16, she had so much strength and independence, but it was too much for my mom to handle.

I knew it was wrong. I didnt care. I knew I would regret it. I didnt care. I ditched every day. I got high. I did crystal meth. I tried acid. I didn’t care. I tried to erase what I was feeling. I felt ugly inside. I started to develop psoriasis from anxiety. I hid under my clothes. Guys would tell me I was beautiful. My friends told me I was beautiful “Yeah right”. I thought and felt the opposite. I had no purpose. My mom grounded me. I would sneak out at night. She would ground me again. I would sneak out again. My mom took me away from my favorite sport, gymnastics. My friends. And now my sister. For 2 years I continued this behavior.

I dreamed of being a kid again with my grandma, my great grandparents, brother and my sister in Hawaii. Staying at my grandma’s and great grandparents house in Kapahulu. Taking swimming lessons all summer, walking to the store to get an icee and it would be gone by the time we got home. Going to Waikiki beach, Alamoana shopping center. Getting fresh manapua from the chinese bakery. Chasing my 3 mini doberman pinchers around. This was my happy place.

My innocence was gone. Happiness was not a part of my life anymore.


Why me? #8

We brought Kaila home that week. Her broviac catheder needed to be flushed twice daily with heparin and saline to keep the line open until her next check up to assure she was gaining weight on her own.

The charge nurse gave me viles of heparin and a large bottle of saline to last the week until we returned. When arriving home again it was the same routine. But I didnt know how to go about reliving my life. I first wanted to make Keone feel special and we went to the mall to be a normal kid again. We got him a video game and new shoes.

The next morning I was taking care of Kaila: sponge bath, ileostomy, g tube, diapers, bottles ready, clothes washed. Check, check, check!

Keone was playing his new Nintendo game with his cousin and being a typical boy. He was such a mature soul, he amazed me. To me he was my little man and took care of me more than he realized. For the first 4 years of his life he was my everything. Surprisingly, he was more to me than a typical boy, born out of wedlock, born unexpectedly, he was a gift and God assured me my first responsibilty was that he knew Him. It was the beginning, the beginning of many things and my conversations with God.

Being pregnant my senior year in high school was never a plan for me. But it was God’s plan. Earlier that year I had met Miles McPherson who was a former Charger and a Youth Pastor at Horizon Christian Fellowship. Little did I know what impact he would have in my life and still to this day.

I had attended Horizon with my step-sisters. My step-sister gave me my first bible and that summer I accepted Jesus in my heart.

That summer I didn’t go out much with friends, only to the beach, the mall and work. I stayed home a lot, spent time with family and attended my brothers Football games. I enjoyed things like Home expos at the Del mar fair, and volunteering at the snack bar with my mom. I was no longer lost but gave my family a second chance. The way God gave me.

Bible studies at Miles house one night, then bible studies at my friends house another night, church on Sunday, reading the bible which used to be foreign to me now suddenly some what making sense. But things quickly started becoming weird too. “Following Me you must also expect great sacrifice”

At night was the worst, dark shadows often awoke me. Locked in my sleep, I felt shackled to my bed. No windows open, no fans on, suddenly my hair was blowing. I could feel my hair moving. Wind blowing across my face. I could hear the air pass against my ears. In a deep sleep I was slowly becoming aware I wasn’t dreaming. I felt someones lips kiss mine. I jerked but didn’t move. Then clear as day a demonic laugh followed. The voice was so deep, I couldn’t open my eyes. I couldn’t move. Inside I was screaming! “Jesus save me! Help me! Please” then the sun rose, and so did I.

I described to my sister what was happening. She told me to “rebuke them”. I wouldn’t dare tell my mom. She would laugh. She said spirits were trying to scare me now from being saved.

It wasn’t getting better. I became more in tune with “things”. I often turned my light on and opened my bible when it got bad. “Please Lord make it stop”. I was becoming aware of real friends and God revealed that to me.

Then I met Keone’s father. Becoming pregnant was something unexpected, unplanned, or was it? Miles was there for my pregnancy test at Horizon. He was very direct, “You are going to have this baby, and you need to get married”. I didn’t want to marry Keone’s father. He was on and off drugs. Our relationship was a roller coaster. But he was my first boyfriend and I was insecure. Miles saw something in Keone’s father, I never wanted to tell him all the things he did to me. Miles had a way of making me feel guilty unintentionally, but I knew he was trying to help. He was so regal, and I was young and immature. But like me, Keone’s father had him wrapped around his manipulative words. He told Miles he loved me and he wanted to be there for me, take care of me…blah! In my head I was screaming “Lies!!!” “A twisted tongue will not go very far”

My mother hated him, she tried to force me to have an abortion. “You are making a huge mistake and you are ruining your life!” It may have worked just a year earlier, but God was in my heart now, there was no choice. It wasn’t my choice to make.

Keone’s father continued to faulter. He couldn’t keep a job. He was caught sleeping in the janitor room. Miles got him a job at Horizon, he was caught sleeping in a ditch. Without drugs he was a nightmare, with drugs he was a walking nightmare. His parents sent him to rehab when I was 6 months pregnant. Wasted time and money.

I was doing well at my job straight out of high school making $18 per hour wasn’t bad for out of high school. I was able to get a car. My mom made me feel guilty for never being home. I was trying to please everyone. Keone’s dad, his grandparents, my family, his family, my grandparents.

He took advantage of my weaknesses. Used the bible against me. His mother even warned me, “I don’t recommend my son to you, he is very agressive” She couldn’t have been more right. I wish to God I had listened.

The first few months were hard, I woke up, ate breakfast, threw up, looked for the baggiest clothes I could find and went to school a big schlep. I was a mess. A hot lazy sick mess. I was pale as a ghost. My beach days were seldom these days. Keone’s father took me away from things that made me happy.

For the last 6 months I endured the judgement as expected: staring eyes, gossip, being called a slut, a whore, stupid, crazy, fat, among other things. My mom wanted me to suffer and wouldn’t allow me to be bussed to a school for pregnant teens. She told me I needed to suffer.

An ex-boyfriend called me as he couldn’t understand why I was keeping this baby. I just told him things were different now. I regretted for that moment leaving him for Keone’s father. He wasn’t ready to commit to me. But now I see it, he was more ready than I realized, we were just too scared to say it. He whispered he loved me once. He was the first, the first to say I love you. The first for everything. But he was also the first to break my heart.

Keone’s father “said” he wanted to be with me “said” he loved me. But it was all lies. I was starting to become angry. Angry at his lies, his irresponsibility, his disregard for Keone’s future, how he pulled me in, hung me from a cliff, then dropped me over and over again. In the meantime, friends would tell me of other girls he was sleeping with. He was slowly pulling me away from who I was. Prior to him, I was becoming close to God. Now I was becoming consumed by him and his anger became a part of me. The more I thought of his ways, the easier it was for me to forget him, and to sever my ties with him.


Why me? Part 7

After 2 days in the PICU, the TPN was the miracle that saved her. She began to get color back, she was gaining weight and each day was just another step closer. I couldn’t stay overnight in the PICU, and I didn’t want to stay at home.

One night my sister convinced me to go out dancing and finally celebrate being 21, now 22 actually. I put Keone to bed as he was tired from being at the hospital all day. I know that I needed time for me. It was important I get that. “Eyes will judge, but have no understanding” Kaila being in the PICU allowed me to catch up on needed sleep and spend time with my sister and friends.

I was slowly feeling like myself again. But I saw the world differently. Appreciated more. Hassled with less. I forced myself to enjoy life more. Thinking and preparing more for the future. My future, alone, just me and my babies.

I was set to return to work and Kaila’s father had to return back to Texas from leave. I had no idea how I was going to manage working and Kaila being in the hospital. But I had to continue to pay the bills and keep my job.

Kaila was back in the regular ward now. So, I would wake up at 3 am to get to the hospital, I would stay until 1pm to be at work by 2pm. I would finish work at 8pm and go back to the hospital until 10pm. This went on for 2 months until we brought Kaila home. Again I hardly saw Keone. Only a kiss good bye and a kiss good night and on weekends we spent most of the time at the hospital.

Being in the ward, it was a whole new experience. Kaila wasn’t in a bassinet now, but in a large crib. We shared a room with 6 other cribs. Mothers came and went with their babies. Some minor things such as jaundice, antibiotics, or even just minor hernia surgery.

There were approximately 20 rooms in that pediatric ward. Some children med-evac’d from Japan. My first day down in the ward, I noticed a boy probably about 7 years old, and his parents walking outside the halls. I tried not to stare. “Behold what you witness, for there is beauty”

The boy looked frail and in pain, his parents walked slowly behind him. The fathers arm was around the mother. I noticed he had a broviac also, and his IV pole had balloons attached to it like he had been there for a while as the balloons were deflating. To me he glowed in his pale yellow gown. It was like God wanted me to take notice.

I walked outside the halls often with Kaila and her IV pole. We weren’t allowed to ask about other childrens medical diagnoses but I did anyway. I asked the coreman, “That boy has cancer doesn’t he?”

“Yes Michael? actually, its a rare form, they are doing what they can, its unfortunate.”

Two days later his room was empty and so was my heart. It was the first time I had witnessed anyone suffering from cancer, and dying from it in the same week. The more I walked the halls the taller I stood. I met another family who had the same last name Madrid. But their daughter was 8. She couldnt see, couldn’t talk, couldn’t walk, only hear. Her parents owned a catering business and were great people. We also had the same surgeon. Because of the same last name they had our names flagged for a name alert. Elizabeth had Cerebal Palsy and had been there for months for other GI issues. When visiting Elizabeth I led her hand to touch Kaila’s hand and introduced Kaila as her new friend. She was smiling and staring quietly feeling Kaila’s hand. Her mom was happy as she giggled. Elizabeth began to recognize my voice. Elizabeth was very much aware of touch and sounds even though to some she was considered a vegetable. “There is beauty here, you don’t need eyes to see”


Why me? Part 6

I was guided again to pre-op. This time it was almost 10pm. There was an uncomfortable but necessary rush to get Kaila prepped. I gasped when I realized, Kaila was starting to feel cold, she hasn’t eaten all day, the nurse assured me she was going to be fine.

I couldn’t let fear overcome me. Again, I kissed her hands, her feet and took a deep breath as I kissed her forehead, a tear fell, whether I wanted it to or not. Again, they took her away. This time they hurried. The double doors closed and I stood paralyzed for minutes. My pager started to go off. It was from home.

It was Kaila’s dad. He was at home. He should’ve been there at the hospital. “Its going to be hours before you know anything, why do you need me there?” Typical. I wanted to forget him. I hung up.

Just stuffing it inside. My pager kept going off with codes. One of which was 5000 meaning he was coming. I was tired of wasting any of my thoughts with his issues. Everything was closed. It was almost midnight now. I walked out to my car to get some rest finally. I dozed off, and was awakened by a car parking next to me. It was Kaila’s father. I wished for my anger toward him to go away, no more wasting time and energy. Numb. I wanted to be numb. Strong, stubborn and strong.

After an hour, I couldnt even stand to be next to him in a parked car. I got out and started to walk off. He rolled his window down, and called out “Hey how is Kaila?”

“WHAT?” I turned around. He then rolled his window back up and laid back like he was going “back to sleep”. He knew it was coming. Here came my anger that only he could bring out of me.
I banged on his window. “Open this window you fucking coward” God forgive me. “You want to know how Kaila is? Roll down this fucking window and I will show you how Kaila is. You pathetic fucking coward! How was your Aztec game by the way? Was it worth it? Huh? So if your daughter dies on the table I will be sure to tell her you were too busy hanging out with your friends and didn’t want to be here!!! Roll down the window!”

I couldn’t control it. Post partum. Lack of sleep. Emotional stress. Physical stress, Lack of food. Being away from Keone. Anger flowed out of me, as he taught me for the last 5 years all too well. As my mother taught me to bottle things in, I was conquering both of them that night. Amongst the madness, I never felt so free from him. My heart was no longer in pain from him. Only anger existed. Then I calmed down but was firm. It made me sad I didn’t regret a word, as I treated him the way he treated me.

“Congratulations, you are now free to go. I am done and I want a divorce”

He looked at me finally through his window. I felt a glimmer of guilt in his drug filled eyes, but I felt no sympathy.
I walked away back to the waiting room.

3 hours had passed. The surgery room called in to assure me things were going well. Which to me meant it was going to take longer. I was so sleep deprived that I was a walking mess. Kaila’s dad walked in. The sight of him made me sick. I left the room, he tried to stop me and ask me about Kaila. I said sternly “Go ask yourself since you’re so smart”

Go away! Just go away! Leave me alone! I want you out of my life. Kaila deserves better. I don’t need you. I don’t want you anymore. Any hurtful thing I could think of just to get him away from me. He knew his mistake was irreversible.

The sun started to rise and finally an answer. Dr. Downey entered and stumbled slightly when seeing Kaila’s father there. He glanced at me, its not rocket science to see I had been crying. Dr. Downey looked as worn down as me, his scrubs were slightly wet from his sweat. It was almost 6am.

“Mrs. Madrid…uh…Mr. Madrid, well we were able to test her bowel repeatedly to assure anything infected would not be missed. I am glad you didn’t wait any longer to bring her. Her bowel was so distended and backed up to the size of a large adult bowel.” He was breathing heavily, I felt so bad he worked a straight 8 hours to save her.

“So how long does she need to stay?” Kaila’s father asked.

Dr. Downey turned to him, almost protecting me, “Well, we need to focus on her healing first before we can decide any length of stay, I don’t know if you were aware Mr Madrid, if Mrs. Madrid waited any longer Kaila may not be here at all.”

He bit his lip, he knew the doctor was targeting his absence earlier. I cried. But needed to know…

“So what did you find Dr? Is she ok??”

“Yes she’s recovering now. Her bowel was obstructed all the way up to mid-ileum which is her large intestine. We had to remove all of her colon, so the likelihood of reversal is not a good option at this point. She will have an ileostomy for a good portion of her life. We kept the g tube because she will need to rest her gut and its crucial in cases such as this thst we have that option to feed her. She also has a broviac catheder so we can feed her what we call TPN which is Total Parental Nutrition.”

“What is a broviac?” I asked.

“Well, chemo patients use this also, its like an IV in the chest so we can give her all the nutrition she needs while her gut rests.”

“So she will be getting TPN only? Can I see her soon?”

“Yes, TPN will be temporary and actually she will be transferring back to the PICU initially as it was a pretty serious surgery for a 1 month old. Its important she has 24 hour care and observation until she is more stable.”

I had only had 2 hours of sleep in the last 24 hours. Again I felt robbed by him. I wanted it to stop. I dreamed of me and the kids being happy. He was not in that dream. “You have forgotten Me, foolish words only provoke foolish things”


Why me? Part 5

It was getting late, I was paging Kaila’s father to let him know we were headed to surgery. No response. I called home, they heard nothing.

Dr. Downey entered, already dressed in scrubs. He came and checked Kaila again, her stomach was to the point you can see her intestines through her skin. Knowing her father was at the SDSU game, he questioned, “Is her father on his way?”

“Oh yes, the game should be over soon, and he is supposed to come right after”

Dr. Downey was probably the warmest man I had met, he reminded me of Santa. He was a heavier set man with a thick mustache, his medical terminology was eliquent but understandable. He was someone I felt blessed to have around Kaila. He gently spoke in an angelic fatherly voice, as he put his hand on my shoulder “Mrs. Madrid, I think I should tell you, the game ended 2 hours ago….” I froze. “Is there someone else you can call?” That voice pierced through me. It was Dr Downey, but it felt like it was from a higher place. I know I probably looked like a deer in headlights. “Mrs. Madrid, I want you to know we can’t wait much longer, we may be putting Kaila at risk.”

“Oh, yes! Please don’t wait, I will be fine, I have called my parents also” I lied.

“Under the circumstances, we have to get going”

“I understand, thank you, I am fine!”

Like a train wreck, like a life flashing before you, all the lies, the wasted time, the sacrifice, my prayer for the strength to leave took over me. In one breath, I moved on and retraced my thoughts to Kaila.

God had freed me. Gave me permission to leave. My guilt for not giving things a chance was gone. My kids deserved better. I deserved better. God had a plan for me, and it was much greater. My journey was not to live in sorrow. “Greater is the plan I have for you, rejoice in Me”


Cristian Mihai

writes a short story every week

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