Follow Jshafer67 on Twitter

Monday, June 20, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

True Grit Movie and Other Old TV Shows

Wow, what a blast from the past! Has anyone seen the new True Grit? The first version was such a good movie, but I'm afraid this one may disappoint me! John Wayne was my dad's favorite actor, as I think was for the majority of that generation. I grew up watching Westerns and it seems that was about all that was on our tv.

Some of my favorites shows were Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Rifleman among many others. I enjoy watching TV Land and Nick at Nite channels now, since they seem to broadcast mostly the "good" shows. By "good" shows, I'm referring to shows that do not include drugs, sex and gross murders.

Think about it...on Gunsmoke, it was always implied that Matt Dillon and Miss Kitty had "thing" for each other, but they were never shown in bed together. Gunsmoke was a huge success without showing Matt and Miss Kitty having sex, making mad, passionate love or doing drugs. None of the Bonanza scenes ever displayed anything remotely close to a sex scene and that family was four single men living together!  Why must shows include sex in each movie today?

Bonanza was another "good" show. A father and his sons lived together, worked together and respected each other. Sons actually showed respect to their father. They respected the women. They were gentlemen. Can you imagine what Bonanza would be like if it were made today?  Movie producers of today, for some reason, feel the need to include at least one scene of people making love, or hot, passionate sex. Why? Is there nothing left to the imagination anymore? Does sex actually sell? Well, I'm here to tell you, that I find these scenes disrespectful and gross! If I wanted to watch porn, I would have purchased porn!

No, I'm not a prude! I just don't care to watch a movie where sex seems to be the main theme. I want to watch movies that are wholesome, have a good plot and for the whole family to enjoy. I can't say how many times, we as a family, with teenage or pre-teen children began watching a movie when it switched to a sex scene. What did sex have to do with the movie? I was embarrassed as this type of scene is NOT what I wanted my children exposed to.

A message from this consumer to producers - you will not be getting rich off of my family! If I can't buy a movie that doesn't include sex and drugs every other scene, I won't waste my money.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

After decompression surgery for ACM

As I wrote in my previous blog that both of my children had the decompression surgery for ACM, I also wanted to write that they both recovered without any long term effects.

While the surgery was not easy to endure from their prospective or mine, I am happy to report that both children fully recovered and began their new life without pain.  As a parent, I can't describe how I felt to watch both children transform from being in severe pain and bedridden most of the day due to the pain, to running, playing and being "normal" children again!  While they still have an occasional headache, the only tell-tale sign of their condition is the six inch scar down the back of their head, but their hair hides that.

Chiari One Malformation does not go away, but the pain and symptoms are alleviated with surgery.  There will always be a chance that they may have to have the surgery again, if the cerebellar tonsils grow back but for now, eight to ten years later, both children are doing great and leading normal, productive lives!  I might also add that both also graduated at the top of their classes and are currently enrolled in or have attended college.

For more information about Arnold Chiari Malformation, please go to:

Duke University has been researching ACM for many years and have a special interest in families that have two or more children with ACM.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Arnold Chiari Malformation

I guess it's time to continue this blog as there is so much to write about but not enough time or energy. 
I have two children (actually they are adults now) that were diagnosed with Arnold Chiari Malformation or Chiari One Malformation.

There are several forms of ACM, but both of my children have Chiari One Malformation.  Since this is a rare condition, I had to do alot of research to figure out what was wrong with my children that caused their symptoms and pain.

My son had severe headaches that kept him bedridden at times and his legs went out from under him. It took nearly one and a half years to get him diagnosed by a specialist.  I fought more "specialists" that tried to convince me that he had migraines, than I care to count.  I have to admit I really showed my ugly side to doctors that thought they knew what they were talking about, but I would do it again as any mother would.  As a matter of fact, his pediatrician received a nasty letter from me after she told me that I needed to calm down or I would be labeled a "hysterical mom"!  Trust me, she SAW the "hysterical mom" part of me.

Once I found a caring pediatrician, my son was diagnosed and had the required surgery to correct the least for the time being.  After his surgery, he was like a new child.  He ran and played and laughed again.  By the time he was diagnosed, he had lost the majority of his upper body strength and this was at the age of eight years old.

His brain surgery took it's toll on me.  Having lost one son, I was terrified I would lose my only other son.  However, he came through it like a trooper and was back in school within ten days.  I believe his most painful part of the whole ordeal was missing out on recess at school for six weeks!

When my daughter was diagnosed, she had headaches but also became dyslexic.  The neurosurgeon had never heard of that happening with Chiari before, so he was a bit baffled.  However, her surgery was schedule but she had more problems than my son.  She was in intensive care for nearly a week, due to the fact the doctors could not get her pain under control.  Then a doctor in the pediatric ward ordered her to have physical therapy, which her neurosurgeon was furious when he found out, as that set her recovery back. Luckily, her dyslexia disappeared after her corrective surgery.

My advice to parents and adults is, if you or your child is having severe headaches along with unexplainable symptoms, PLEASE have your physician order an MRI to rule out Arnold Chiari (KEE ARE EEE) Malformation.  I have found that there are still alot of medical professionals that have never heard of this condition, so research can help you.  Be informed.  Do NOT let anyone convince you that you or your child is having migraines, if you don't truly believe it.  My children each had severe headaches at the base of their skull/neck.  That is because the fluid pressure built up and that is where the pain was.  I told one pediatric neurosurgeon that I, as a layperson KNEW that migraine pain was NOT at the base of the skull.

It was a long, hard ride but I succeeded in finding the right pediatrician that actually knew there was something terribly wrong with my son.  Luckily, he saved my son's life.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the women (and some men) that have loved, raised, guided, and/or supported your own child, or someone else's child.  Being a mother is one of the most important and rewarding jobs to have!  Enjoy it and cherish the early years!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Another Excerpt from Greed at the Expen$e of a Child

Mr. Barber advised us that because I did not have any children, it might be difficult for the court to allow a visitation for that length of time. I couldn’t believe my ears! Tyler was the biological father of these girls and how in the world could it not be possible for him to take them on vacation because I did not have any biological children. After all, I was a mother figure to these girls on the weekend visits and there had never been a problem. Mr. Barber said he wanted to prepare us for the worst scenario.

Thankfully, our hearing went quite smoothly. The judge felt Tyler was entitled to more visitation than just weekends. He awarded Tyler three weeks visitation over the summer each year until the girls started school, then he was allowed four weeks per year. He never questioned my ability as a mother figure.

Over the next few years, we had several court hearings regarding visitation of the girls. Whenever Vera decided the girls should not come over, she would refuse visitation every weekend for months. We had to contact our attorney to set up a hearing each time to get visitation enforced. At the final visitation hearing, the judge warned Vera that if Tyler had to bring her back to court to enforce visitation one more time, she would be going to jail. She never had a good excuse as to why she refused visitation, she just refused to answer the door and allow the girls to come over. Her anger toward Tyler or I was quite obvious. We just didn’t know why.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Excerpts from Greed at the Expen$e of a Child Ebook

"I am sure that you have had a time like this in your life. When you are faced with a decision that you know should be easy, it feels right… but something held you back. This was that moment for me. I had to wrap my head around what it meant to be involved with a man that had an ex-wife and two small children. Based on what I knew about Tyler’s and Vera’s marriage and divorce I knew that I was not going to be dealing with the most rational or civil person in the world… and what about the children. I loved kids, what I was concerned with was would they like me. Would they think I was going to try to be their mother? Would they hate me because I wasn’t their mother? Divorce was a new concept for me. No one in my family was divorced. I just didn’t know how to deal with it."

Another excerpt -
"As I was in the delivery room, I was terrified. I didn’t know what to expect. They would not let Tyler in with me. The Neonatal specialist explained that he wouldn’t know if the baby would survive until he saw him. They made me physically deliver the baby rather than taking him by c-section. As soon as he was delivered, I got a quick glimpse of him and the nurse ran out of the room with him. I was taken to a private room, where Tyler was able to be with me. The specialist came in shortly afterward and explained that it did not look good for our son. He explained that he was too premature and his skin bruised each time they touched him. I began crying hysterically. God couldn’t take my child from me. I knew our son was strong like us…he would survive."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How it all began...

"I said, Tyler and Vera were only married for four years. The events that led up to their divorce are a combination of distance and infidelity. Tyler worked for a well known company, and there were certain times during the year that Tyler was required to travel for six and seven days a week. He also had to put in long hours. This can be difficult on any couple, especially a newly married couple or a couple that has two small children. Vera was also young, and honestly was not ready to be married or mature enough to be a mother.

Rumors started flying around that Vera was out with other men when Tyler was on the road. The other men that Tyler worked with had seen her out intimately close with another man. They were not only coworkers but they were friends and felt that it was time Tyler knew what was going on. So they told him. He didn’t want to believe it. But the rumors didn’t go away, so Tyler wanted to find out for himself whether or not his wife was faithful.

One evening he asked his supervisor if he could leave early as he had a personal matter to take care of. He parked his car a couple blocks away, and walked home. Vera or the children were not home. He sat in the dark for nearly four hours before Vera arrived. When the door opened, Vera and Paul (their neighbor) walked in with Julia and Mandy. It was at that moment that Tyler confronted Vera and Paul. Needless to say, he was heartbroken at the fact that Vera would have an affair with their neighbor and friend. Tyler kicked Vera out of his house and filed for divorce."

Prologue to Greed at the Expen$e of a Child


There are many times in life when we stand and question what we have done. We wonder if we had the chance to do it all over again, would we? I can tell you that when it comes to my journey with my husband and the children the answer is yes, I would. While I wish there was a way to go back and make things better for the children, I know that I would go back and take on this battle again, in hopes that I would be able to save them just one more day of pain and suffering.

What I am about to tell you is a love story, a true love story. This is our story, that of myself, my husband and all of our children. I have changed the names of all those involved to protect them and I have only given rough dates to provide a timeline, for you to see how long this has gone on.

I am sure you are wondering why I took the time to tell this story, to relive all the pain. The reason is quite simple. If by telling this story I can save one child from having to go through any of these events then my purpose has been fulfilled. See I can’t go back and make it easier for the girls. I don’t have a magic wand to wave to take away their pain, or erase the memories. All I can do is try to prevent other children from being used, abused and neglected.

If you are going through a divorce, or are close to someone that is going through a divorce and they have children I implore you to have them read this book. Children are not tools to be used, they are unwilling participants in what is happening to them. It is the job of the parent to protect them and make sure they are taken care of. Unfortunately when parents are going through a divorce they tend to forget the children and what is in their best interest.

In this story of true love you are going to see what happens when children are forgotten and used as pawns.

Children are "little people"

Each time I read about step-families and divorced couples with children, my heart bleeds for the children.  Having "been there, done that" I have flashbacks of my experiences in fighting for custody of my step-children.

I can't help but wonder and worry about what children are going through today versus many years ago when we fought our battle.  Have times changed much?  I read about co-parenting and shared custody now.  I know for a fact that would NOT have worked with us.  It takes two people to make a relationship work, whether it's ex-spouses or current spouses.  If both parents do not have the best interests of the children at heart, it won't work and the children suffer.  You may not actually see how deeply the child is suffering until many years down the road.

My husband's ex used their children as pawns.  The only reason she wanted them around was for the child support.  When she was ready to party, they came to our house, which of course we didn't mind, but the toll it took on the children is what was the most painful.

My husband's ex also deeply resented our marriage.  We have been married now nearly 30 years.  She on the other hand, has been married four far.  I assume she will find another husband before too much longer.  I feel for the children, which are now adults, that have had three step-fathers, not to mention the various number of "boyfriends" that have been in and out of their lives.  I don't understand why someone would put their own happiness over that of their children.  But then there are alot of things I just don't understand.  Maybe I'm just getting old...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

It's Spring!

I think it's finally spring!  Although the temperature doesn't really show us, other things do.  While mowing the lawn for the first time today, I found the first sign.  Although I wasn't welcome nearby from the parent, it was still nice to see.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Life isn't easy for a bio-parent either...

As I write about being a step-parent isn't easy, there are some things about being a divorced parent that are not so good either.

I wrote about Julia and Mandy and their marriages on my previous post.  What I failed to mention is that my husband never walked either of his daughters down the aisle at their any of their weddings.  It's not that he refused, he just wasn't asked.  Instead, both girls had their step-father do the honor.  We never attended any of Mandy or Julia's weddings or even met any of Julia's husbands.  When Julia moved in with her bio-mom when she turned 18, she completely alienated herself from our family.  Maybe it was the shame of knowing that Mandy told us everything she did.  Maybe it was the shame of all the things she did to hurt us.  Maybe she is just like her mother.  Who knows?!

Once in the past 14 years she contacted us to "be a part of the family", however, she never followed through.  We believe that her bio-mom has continued to brainwash her into thinking how terrible we are.  My husband's ex has always had a hold over both girls that we will never understand.  It seems like the worse she treats them, the more loyal they are to her.  We do have a good relationship with Mandy, but she is still loyal to her mother.  Bio-mom continues to treat Mandy worse than Julia, but that is probably because Mandy has maintained her relationship and love for us throughout her lifetime and bio-mom does not like that.  Mandy has been emotionally abused by her bio-mom her entire life.  Mandy doesn't feel worthy of love from the one woman that SHOULD love her child.  To be honest, Mandy has had a self esteem problem the majority of her life, thanks to her bio-mom.

Julia's actions are her choice since she is a grown woman.  All I can add to that is while it hurts more than words can describe, it's HER loss!  When it's too late to make amends, she will be the one that has to live with herself.

More memories of step-parenting

Anyone that thinks being a step-parent is easy, I would beg to differ.  I am a biological mom, a step-mom and was a custodial mom.  None of those jobs are easy by any means, but my personal experience tells me that being a step-parent is one of the hardest jobs to have.

As I continue to write about memories from years past, I wonder how I ever made it through those years.  When my oldest step-daughter, Julia, decided her life growing up in a stable, safe home wasn't what she wanted, she moved in with her bio-mom.  The bio-mom was on her fourth marriage, had loose morals, lost custody of her kids due to her drugs, alcohol, and homelessness,  approved of Julia sleeping around.  Julia had maintained her virginity and was involved in her church until she moved in with bio-mom.  She found a new group of friends that encouraged partying and sex and Julia knew we wouldn't approve of her new found life.  However, her bio-mom would.  Actually her bio-mom would approve of anything to get Julia to move in with her.

Granted Julia was 18 years old, a senior in high school and loved her new adulthood that allowed her to make her own decisions.  Within a month after Julia moved in with her bio-mom, she was suspended from school for skipping!  That told us alot since Julia had never been in trouble at school or anywhere while she lived with us.  From that point until now, Julia's life has followed her bio-mom's life.  Julia is now 33 years old and on her third marriage.  The apple does not fall far from the tree.  Mandy, (the youngest step-daughter) on the other hand, lived with us until she was 21 years old and is on her first marriage.  She took her vows more seriously than Julia.

I will be adding more "memories of step-parenting" in the upcoming blogs.

Memories of earlier years

Although being a step-parent wasn't all bad, we did have alot of good days.  I remember the first time that my step-children asked to call me "Mommy".  They were only 4 and 6 years old at the time.  Actually, I was pleasantly surprised the first time I heard the youngest refer to me as mommy.

At the time, I told them I didn't care what they called me, although deep down I felt honored that they thought of me as a mother figure.  Our love for each other was undeniable and obvious, but that one word made my heart melt.  I'm not sure that Mandy and Julia knew what a step-parent was at the time, but it was clear that they loved me as much as I loved them.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

If I had to do it all over again...

For those of you that consider being a step-parent, you should seriously consider what your future will be like.  For those of you considering giving your child a step-parent, you should also consider what your future will be like.

Many years ago, when I became a step-mom it was like being a part time mom, since we didn't have custody of my step-children immediately.  We went through several years of hell, dealing with the bio-mom just to be able to visit my step children.  Thousands and thousands of dollars were paid to lawyers on top of the child support just to enforce a visitation schedule.

Looking back, I guess we didn't have much of a choice, other than to walk away from the children.  However, my husband was definitely not THAT kind of father.  His children meant everything to him, and he meant everything to me.  His children were a part of him therefore my love for them was just as strong.  I was willing to tolerate anything for him and the children.

Being a step-parent is not easy by any means.  It's not easy for the children, for the bio-parents or step-parents.  You will be connected in some way to the "ex" for the rest of your life.  They will always be a part of your step-children's life.  Your life will always be upside down.  The children will always be loyal to their bio-parent while a step-parent will always be blamed.  Regardless of all the love and closeness you will feel as the step-parent to a child, that love will not always be mutual.

I know this from experience.  After raising my step-children while their bio-mom was out partying for years and didn't even visit the children, they are still loyal to her.  The step-children are all adults now and bio-mom has been married four times, yet the children are still close and loyal to her.  I was the one that worked two jobs to support, feed and clothe my step-children while bio-mom was partying.  I was the one that sacrificed 20 years of my life to raise my step-children, along with my own children.  I was the one that loved, cared for, nursed them back to health when they were sick, dealt with their every day issues, put them through school, etc.

Many times I think about all those years and really wonder if I knew then what I know now, would I do it all over again?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Why does GREED have to destroy everything?

I hope everyone enjoyed Easter with their family.  I was taught as I was growing up how important family should be to everyone.  I was raised in a Catholic family with alot of aunts, uncles and cousins.  Unfortunately, as the years go by, family seems to be less and less important to people.  It seems like this world is turning into a "dog eat dog" world and it's very sad.

I remember many years ago that holidays were for family to be together, to show their love and support of each other.  However, that no longer seems to be the case in alot of families, including my own.

An enormous amount of people are struggling to get by, unemployed, have lost their homes, cars and family members.  That stress alone will tear a family apart.  While we haven't lost our home or cars, we have lost each other.  We don't seem to be as important to each other anymore because we are worried about ourselves.

During the part of my life that I wrote about in my ebook, Greed at the Expen$e of a Child, greed was a big part of destroying the lives of a happy family.  Now, many years later, greed continues to destroy our lives.  It's a different type of "greed" though.  It's not the fact that there will be monetary gains by our actions today, but the fact that we seem to care only for ourselves and what WE can gain out of our actions.  I worry about how we will all treat each other in the next 50 years.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Greed at the Expen$e of a Child Ebook on Amazon Kindle Store

Check out my website at or you can purchase my ebook on at the Kindle Store for only $3.99!

Promoting Greed at the Expense of a Child Ebook

As I fumble my way through the internet in search of new ways to promote my ebook, Greed at the Expen$e of a Child, I didn't realize there were so many places to do so.  However, not being as computer saavy as I would like to be, I struggle to figure different things out.

It's amazing what an amazing piece of machinery the computer is.  Everything you could possibly want is at your fingertips with each keystroke.  My father would be amazed.

It would be alot less stressful on my brain to allow someone else to do this task...

Greed at the Expen$e of a Child is now listed on

I'm excited that I have just listed my Ebook, Greed at the Expen$e of a
Child on  I'm really hoping to get the book out there for others to share.

This book expresses a part of my life, that I'm sure many others experience in some form.  Like everything else in life, being a step-mother or custodial mother has it's good days and bad days.  Since one out of two marriages end in divorce, unfortunately, step families are becoming the norm.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Why is life so complicated?

Each day that I wake up to a new problem, I really wonder why my life has to be so complicated.  It seems like I attract anything bad that can and will happen.  I just don't understand anymore.  There are times that I feel so totally drained with all the massive issues in my life, I don't know how I have the strength to continue on.
I wrote Greed at the Expen$e of a Child with the help of a ghost writer because it seemed like that period in my life was the worst possible time that anyone could experience.  But as each day goes by, a new "experience" hits me head on to deal with.  I'm not getting any younger and can't seem to deal with the serious issues anymore.  Why must God continue to give us things that HE thinks we can deal with?  When do WE get a say so over these matters?!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Greed at the Expen$e of a Child Ebook is now listed on Amazon Kindle!

Well, it took awhile, but I finally jumped in the frying pan with listing "Greed" on Amazon Kindle!  I'm not quite sure how it will sell, but I guess I will find out soon enough.  With the millions of books already listed on there, mine is like a needle in a haystack.

I have to admit that I haven't done much with it in the past few months.  I guess my eagerness comes and goes.  I really want my story told to help other people that may experience some of what we fought for.  For our keep them safe...and to love them! However, the thought of re-living THAT part of my life is something I'm not sure I really want to do.  It was much too painful to continue to think about every day.  Besides, we have had to have more of life's lessons taught to us over the years and currently to continue to reflect back on that part of my life.

Will there EVER be a happy time in my life again?!

Greed at the Expen$e of a Child is now available on Amazon Kindle for only $3.99

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

House fire

Enduring a house fire is one of the most traumatic things a person can experience.  This is a close second to the loss of a child.  Having experienced
both, I can attest to the fact that both are life altering, extemely emotional, painful experiences no one should have to go through.

Our house fire happened in the very early hours of a mid-June day.  A lightning strike 200 feet from our home enabled the lightning to travel underground into our home.  Not knowing the cause for several hours left us wondering what happened, as we watched firefighters disappear into the thick cloud of smoke that had engulfed our home.

While everyone got out safe, it was with only the clothes on our back.  What wasn't destroyed by fire, was destroyed by smoke and water.  Our precious life's memories were gone.  Our children's baby shoes, their memories from their childhood, items that were passed down from great grandparents and deceased family members, items that were treasured during our lifetime...gone.

People say, "don't worry, everything can be replaced" or "look at it this way, you get all new things". (I equate that to when people told me after the loss of my son, "don't worry, you can have more children".  That may be true, but it will NOT take the place of my son that died.) While some of that is true, it's not always the case.  Furniture, clothes, electronics and the house itself CAN be replaced.  Pictures, memories and family heirlooms cannot.  We didn't think of that rationale until we had to go through every smoke or water damaged item in our home, that we had to trash. I cried as I had to throw away my children's baby shoes that I had kept for two decades.

Everytime I walked through what was left of our home, all I could do was cry.  The memories of the night before we went to bed, not knowing what the early morning would hold.  My husband's lunchbox was sitting on the counter, ready for him to take to work.  The coffepot sat nearby waiting for it's designated time to turn on automatically, to begin brewing.  Our dogs were sleeping in the garage, probably dreaming of barking at the dogs next door.  Our cat was snuggled in her usual place, in bed next to my son.

Standing outside in a thunderstorm watching strangers put their lives on the line to save and/or protect our home gave me a new appreciation of firefighters.  They went into our smoke-filled home, not knowing if they would walk out alive.  The smoke was so intense, we choked as we stood 200 feet away.  The ambulance waited nearby in the event of injuries.  One firefighter had to be transported to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

The process of extinguishing the fire, determining the cause of fire and the firefighters returning to check for hotspots took a matter of several hours. In those several hours of our lives, our entire lifetime of memories would be destroyed forever.  The fire took an emotional toll on all of our lives.  But that would only be the beginning of rebuilding our lives and the nightmare of dealing with what was to follow.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Parental Alienation - Will it ever end?

I have recently been reading alot about Parental Alienation and child custody issues again.  It's been over 15 years since we have dealt with those issues and it's sad to read that our court system still is as screwed up now as it was back then.

Actually, we were lucky enough to finally have a judge that threatened my husband's ex if he saw her in his courtroom again for refusing visitation, he would throw her in jail.  I'm happy to report that that was the final time he had to take her to court for withholding visitation.

It took alot of time, money, tears and patience to get to that point but it was worth it in the end.  We suffered, the children suffered and we were NOT going to give up.  Many times we wondered if it was worth fighting.  We talked about taking the children and disappearing.  We talked about waiting until they turned 18 and then request to see them when they could decide on their own.  Ultimately, we decided to continue to fight as all parents should...especially fathers.

When you are worn down, depressed from not being able to see your child, distraught over not being able to parent your child, and can't understand how the love you once had for the other parent has now turned into anger and hatred.  When you are denied your children, you wonder HOW you could have ever loved the other parent enough to make a child.  So many mixed emotions and feelings, and you wonder how you got to this point.

Children without a father in their life is similiar to living without arms or legs.  They need both to make their life complete, just like children need BOTH parents.  Parents have an obligation to their children to keep both parents (and extended family) in their child's life.  That is what makes a child's life complete.  Otherwise, the child is missing out on so much love, guidance and nurturing that they cannot possibly receive from one parent.  Each parent offers different ingredients to make their child grow to be a "complete" adult.  Denying a child the love and relationship of their father is undoubtly a form of child abuse that is guaranteed to have life long effects.

Wake up mothers!  If it wasn't for the father, you would not have your children (and vice versa).  You needed him to create your child, now allow him to help raise them!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

8 days till graduation!

We are now eight days away from my oldest daughter's college graduation!  She has worked very hard for her Criminal Justice degree and we couldn't be more proud of her!

While she doesn't have a job lined up yet, the excitement is overwhelming.  She graduated from high school at the top of her class and has been on the Dean's List in college.  Her drive to succeed is a wonderful trait.  She would like to work in the victim services area, but would be happy in any Criminology field.

She is also engaged to be married in May.  Her fiance has been very supportive of her (emotionally and financially) since they have been together.  They bought a house last year and are working hard to make it "their home".  Ohhh to be young again...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Death of My Son

When I found out that I was pregnant, it wasn't the "usual" way of taking a home pregnancy test. I was scheduled for a medical procedure that required proof that I was not pregnant before performing the procedure. I explained that I was a couple days late, but that was not unusual for me. My periods were never normal so I didn't think anything about it.

When the nurse called me to give me the results of my pregnancy test prior to my procedure, I was shocked! She told me that I was pregnant and they could not perform the procedure. Alot of emotions ran through me but overall I was ecstatic! While I had been longing to have a child now was not the opportune time since my husband was working part time and I was on Worker's Compensation for a job related injury. Either way, I was confident that everything would work out and we would have a healthy child.

Five months into my pregnancy, I developed what I thought was the flu. I felt lousy, was vomiting and diarrhea. Being a Saturday, I felt it best just to rest and drink plenty of fluids. By Sunday morning when I woke up, I had severe pain in my right side. It was time to go to the emergency room as the pain was unbearable.

When I arrived at the emergency room, one would think that a five month pregnant woman in severe pain would be taken back immediately and examined. However, that was not the case. Forty five minutes later, I was finally called back and placed in a room at the end of the hall. As the pain continued to get worse over the next two hours, I began to vomit again. I began crying out for anyone to come in my room as no one had been in there. Finally, I begged a housekeeper that was walking by to get me help. A doctor finally came in my room and told me they had to do a pelvic exam to determine if the baby was in distress. I assured him that there was nothing wrong with the baby, but I thought it was my appendix. However, the doctor ignored me.

He finally ordered blood tests and took my temperature. I now had a fever of nearly 102 degrees and a white blood count of over 26,000! Now they took me seriously and moved me to a room closer to the desk. The OB/GYN personally took me to have an ultrasound to make sure the baby was okay. A surgeon was called in. They determined that I had acute appendicitis. What took them four hours to determine, I tried telling them when I first entered the triage area.

As the surgeon was evaluating me, I told him that I now wanted to go home. The pain had subsided quite a bit and I wanted the hell out of there! (It was at that time apparently my appendix had ruptured thus relieving the severe pain). He told me that the only place I was going was into surgery. He then explained to me that there was a chance I would lose my baby in or after surgery, but they would do everything they could to save it. I became hysterical at the thought of losing my baby.

When I was taken to the holding room prior to entering surgery, the anesthesiologist questioned me about any medications that I was taking. I told him prenatal vitamins. He questioned as to why I was taking them. I told him that I was 5 1/2 months pregnant! As he flipped through my paperwork, he claimed nowhere was it listed on there that I was pregnant. I knew at that time, this would not be good.

When I awoke from surgery, the first thing I asked was if the baby was okay. The nurse assured me that the baby was fine, and that they would keep me in the OB ward to monitor any contractions I might have. After 24 hours in that ward, the doctors were convinced I would not go into labor and moved me to the surgical floor.

Three days later, still in the hospital, I began have severe back pains. I called the nurse into my room and explained that I needed to get out of bed as my back was hurting. As I walked to the end of the bed, my back pain got worse. The nurse helped me back to bed and called the OB ward. I didn't realize what I was experiencing was back labor. The OB nurse examined me and found that I was dilated. I was then rushed to the labor room and my husband was called to get here as soon as possible. A neonatal specialist was called in for the pending premature birth. He explained to us that he would not know if he could help the baby until it was born, but assured us that he would do everything he could to save it.

Rather than delivering this precious premature baby by C-section, the doctor made me deliver him. I was exhausted and in pain from my appendectomy and pushing was not an option. After our son was delivered, he was rushed out of the room. I was taken back to another room while we awaited news. The neonatal specialist came into our room and explained that it did not look good for our son. He did not expect him to live more than an hour. I became hysterical! I told the doctor our son was strong like his parents and would make it! As I cried and prayed that God would not take him, everything seemed like a big blur after that.

An hour and a half after his birth, our son died. We were inconsolable. Our son was gone. All the flutters of life I felt in my stomach would no longer be felt. He departed this world without us not getting to know him, although he was loved tremendously from the day I knew about my pregnancy. I was so hysterical by the news of my first born child's death, the nurse came in and and injected something in my IV. The next thing I knew it was the following day. I wanted my baby and hold him, but he was already at the funeral home. My husband had to make the funeral arrangements without me and without my knowledge. My heart ached for him too. There is absolutely NO pain in ones life that is worse than losing a baby and no one will ever convince me otherwise.

As what would have been his twenty fourth birthday approaches, my emotional pain from losing him is still as fresh today as it was then. I still often cry when I think or talk about him and visit his grave. I have two Polaroid pictures that the hospital took of him to give to us. That is all we have left of our baby that we never got to know. That is an experience where the pain does not subside with time. I often wonder what he would have been like, what he would have looked like, or what kind of man he would have become. He is still loved very much to this day and always will be.

While most people would think this is the end of this story, there is still much more that occurred after our son's death. My health had deteriorated even more. Follow part two to this blog to find out what else could possibly go wrong during the worst time of my life.
The death of my son (part two)As I tried to deal with the loss of my son, I wanted out of the hospital. I didn't care how much physical pain I was in, the emotional pain was more than I could stand. Our son's funeral was in two days and I was going to attend one way or another. I needed to attend to help me process what had happened.

I began asking the doctor to be released from the hospital. My appendectomy incision was left open to keep it from abscessing, according to the surgeon. He finally agreed to release me as long as my husband would clean and dress my incision. Looking at that four inch incision, I don't know how he did it. As I was wheeled out of the hospital, I cried even more. This wheelchair ride should have been a joyous occasion. I should have been holding my beautiful, healthy baby, not leaving with empty arms. A huge part of me was left at the hospital that day and I never wanted to return. Had my heart been x-rayed, I truly believe it would have shown it was literally broken in half.

The day of our son's funeral, I could hardly walk due to the pain I was in...physically and emotionally. I didn't want to say goodbye. I hadn't even said hello yet. I didn't like this nightmare that I was living. After the funeral, I went home and went to bed. I couldn't stand to be alive anymore. I hated God and that He took MY baby. These things happen to other people, not us. I could not accept what I had been through.

The following day, my husband had cooked a wonderful dinner. I tried to eat, but just couldn't. My stomach began to hurt and I felt sick, so I went back to bed. I needed to continue grieving. A friend had come over to visit me, but I didn't feel like being around anyone. I began to feel sick. I yelled for my husband to get a bucket, as I knew I was going to vomit. What I vomited was nothing like I had ever seen in my life. I knew something was terribly wrong and the abdominal pain was getting more and more intense. Finally, my husband told me that we were going back to the emergency room. I told him that I would not return there, but as the pain grew more intense, I begged him to get me there as soon as possible.

When I walked into triage at the hospital, the nurse took one look as to what I was vomiting and took me back to a room immediately. The doctor came in within minutes after I arrived and everyone began rushing around. The nurse told my husband he could go home, as I was being admitted. It was determined that I had a bowel obstruction and would possibly need surgery...again. My potassium level was extremely low, I was dehydrated and the pain was unbearable. But I still wanted out of there. I didn't know how much more physical and emotional pain I could endure.

A tube was placed up my nose and down to my abdomen to attempt to suction out the obstruction. If that did not work, they would have to do emergency surgery. After several days in the hospital, it appeared that the obstruction was gone, but that did not end my problems. As the doctor told me that I could finally go home, he also mentioned that if the results of my last tests were good, he would release me. I called my husband and told him to come and get me the hell out of there. I wanted to go home and grieve. I wanted out of the place that had such painful memories.

Less than ten minutes later, the doctor returned. The tests showed that I had an abscess where my appendix was removed, and I had pneumonia. He said he could not release me since these to problems needed to be treated. I cried. I just wanted to go home. I called my husband and told him the news.

The doctor stuck a large needle into my side to drain the abscess. That too, was extremely painful. As I cried in pain, the doctor responded by saying they had given me something for pain and I shouldn't need anything else. I yelled at him that I didn't care what they gave me, it wasn't working! They were able to remove very little thick fluid, so they had to insert a drainage tube into my side. It would take a few days to drain the abscess. I was also placed on very strong antibiotics for the next several days to fight the abscess, and it finally appeared to work somewhat.

During those days, I constantly cried, grieving for my baby. I yelled at everyone and anyone that came in my room. Finally, the head nurse came in and tried to comfort me. I began yelling at her and lashing out at everyone that came in contact me. I needed a way to vent my emotional pain and that was the only way I could at the time. I wanted out of the hospital so I could grieve and try to accept everything that had happened to me. I just could not do it laying in the place that I lost my baby. I hated God, I hated myself and most of all I hated everything about the hospital. Too many bad memories that I could not process in my mind. I wanted to run away from everything to make the pain go away.

When I was finally released from the hospital, I became very withdrawn. I was still trying to accept my loss and what I had been through over the past month. I also knew my husband was hurting. We needed time together to work through everything we had been through the past month. Unfortunately, this was still not the end of my medical problems relating to my ruptured appendix. Part three will finally explain the end of my nightmare.
Death of my son (final chapter)After finally being released from the hospital the final time, I was able to begin the grieving process. I needed that time to process everything that had happened to me and my body over the past month. However, life had to go on. My father in law was diagnosed with Cirrhosis of the liver. Unfortunately, it was not due to alcoholism. He had been hospitalized recently and was given blood transfusions that resulted in him also being diagnosed with Hepatitis shortly after. That led to the Cirrhosis. He was dying and we could not do anything about it, but care for him in his final days. That story is another future blog.

Three months after my release from the hospital, I began having pains in my right side again. Since I knew it could not possibly be my appendix, I assumed it was probably a cyst on my ovary. I went to a GYN, who ordered an ultrasound. It was revealed that I had a "pocket of old blood" near my incision site. I was sent to the emergency room so a doctor could drain it.

The following month, the pain returned. I returned to the doctor who performed the previous procedure. He hospitalized me again stating that I had an abscess on my right side again! I spent a week in the hospital hooked up to another drainage machine with strong antibiotics through an IV. When that was finally cleared up, I tried to get on with my life. My father in law had passed away, and I was still dealing with the emotional trauma of everything that had transpired in my life over the past few months.

The following month, the pain returned. I could not possibly go through life like this and sought out a new doctor/surgeon. He told me that in his 35 years of practicing medicine, he had never seen this before. He was obviously puzzled why I continued to have abscesses months after my appendectomy. He told me he would have to do exploratory surgery to find out what the problem was. I didn't want surgery, but I didn't want to live with this recurring pain the rest of my life.

When I awoke from surgery, my husband explained what the doctor found. I could tell he was heartbroken, but had to tell me the truth. The doctor determined that when my appendix ruptured several months ago, apparently the infection had burrowed itself into my right ovary and had continued down my right tube. He removed my right ovary and tube to solve the problem. After losing our son, my husband knew I would be devastated. This would be one more traumatic experience in my life that I would have to learn to live with and try to accept.

Before I was released from the hospital, the surgeon came in and apologized for what he had to do to clear my body of this infection once and for all. He assured me that I would get pregnant now. Still dealing with all that I had been through, I snapped at him and said "yeah, right!" I always felt bad about that, because he was the most caring surgeon/doctor that I had dealt with through this whole ordeal. His final words to me in that meeting was not to get pregnant for at least six months. He explained that my body had just gone through major surgery and it needed time to heal.

As I slowly began recovering from that surgery, I noticed a huge difference in how I felt. For the first time in months, my body was clear of infection and I could tell it was on the road to recovery. I had my surgeon to thank. When my period was a few days late the month following my surgery, I began to worry. I called my family doctor and explained the surgery I had been through and wanted to know if that would make my period late. The nurse explained it was possible, but if I wanted to come in for a pregnancy test, they would be happy to perform it. (Over the counter pregnancy tests were not on the market at that time).

Waiting for the results of that test seemed to take forever. One of two things ran through my mind. Either my body was still dealing with the surgery, thus making my period late or something else had gone wrong with my body. After all, how is it possible to get pregnant so quick with only one tube and ovary? When the test came back positive, many feelings ran through my mind. I was happy and excited, yet I was scared. I was scared that something could end this pregnancy abruptly like with my first born. After everything I had been through recently, could my body sustain a full term pregnancy? I also worried what my surgeon would say. He told me not to get pregnant for at least six months, but I never believed that I would get pregnant again.

When it was time for my six week post op appointment with my surgeon, I was afraid to go. What if he told me that my body couldn't sustain the pregnancy so soon after surgery? So many "what ifs" ran through my mind. I told his nurse that I was pregnant and I was afraid to tell him. She assured me that she would inform him and it was okay to come to the appointment.

After my surgeon examined me, checked my incision and gave me a clean bill of health, he put his arm around my shoulder. He explained that he understood that I was pregnant. I dropped my head and confirmed my pregnancy. He chuckled and said, "don't worry, no one ever listens to me anyway! You will be fine and have a healthy baby!" He congratulated me and told me to bring the baby in to show them when it was born.

Over the next eight months, I continued to worry about the baby I was now carrying. Each week that went by, was one week closer to my delivery date and one week bigger that my baby had grown. Although I never stopped worrying throughout my entire pregnancy, I delivered a healthy baby girl. My surgeon was right...I was fine and I did deliver a healthy baby. Over the next five years, I delivered two more healthy babies, but I still love and miss my first born son. He can never be replaced. R.I.P. son, I love you.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Greed at the Expen$e of a Child Ebook

Greed at the Expen$e of a Child is a true story written based on our experience fighting to keep our large family together.

When Shelby's mom turned to drugs and men, no relative wanted her. They insisted that she live with us and her half-siblings to try to maintain some love and stability in her life. Just as she settled in and made herself a part of our family, she became the recipient of a large monetary award. One relative that had previously approved of her placement with us, now wanted custody of her. She would stop at nothing to gain custody of Shelby and her money.

As we fought relatives, corrupt Guardian Ad Litem, a Child Psychologist who was sleeping with and eventually married the opposing attorney, and a team of money hungry attorneys, our hopes dwindled of keep her safe.

In the midst of Shelby's situation, we were also fighting for custody of my stepchildren. Our lives revolved around court hearing after court hearing, corruption, lies and greed. Would we be able to keep our large family together?

Can be purchased at:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

jshafer's life: Life, Step-parenting and Greed

jshafer's life: Life, Step-parenting and Greed: "As we travel all the bumpy roads through life day by day, we are forced to learn life's lessons. We must experience the good and the bad to ..."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Life, Step-parenting and Greed

As we travel all the bumpy roads through life day by day, we are forced to learn life's lessons. We must experience the good and the bad to learn how to make us a better person. Unfortunately, I have had my share of "bad" in my many years of life. As I look back over the decades, I often wonder if I knew then what I know now, would I make different decisions in my life.

Some of the "life altering" experiences I have personally dealt with in my life include becoming a step-parent, a custodial parent, the death of my first born baby shortly after birth, brain tumor surgery, being injured at work, losing nearly all of our possessions in a house fire, caring for two relatives until their death and caring for a relative with Alzheimer's disease. I wish I could claim that I won the lottery as a "life altering" experience, but I'm not that lucky. I seem to attract bad experiences rather than good. While the outcomes to many of these experiences could have been much worse, just enduring them was painful enough.

In my future blogs, I will address the majority of my experiences, however, at this time I will discuss becoming a step-parent and custodial parent. I have written a manuscript regarding this time in my life and would like to have it published. It's a painful reminder of how our actions can seriously affect those around us. This book also details what amount of money is worth destroying lives...or at least in this case.

I met my step-children when they were toddlers. They are now adults. We were also awarded custody of a child that no one wanted. When Shelby became the recipient of a substantial amount of money from a lawsuit, relatives stopped at nothing to gain custody of her. Greed drove them to put our lives through hell. The system was corrupt with attorneys, Guardian Ad Litem and Department of Children Services.

This experience has taught me that you cannot use children as pawns to get even with someone or to gain financially. Children are little people and have feelings too. While experts claim that children are resilient and will adapt to bouncing back and forth from parent to parent, or removed from a home and family they love, I totally disagree! I base this on my experiences and what I have observed over the years. The emotional effects of what children endure during their childhood stay with them the rest of their lives.

Case in point, one of my step-children continues to endure emotional abuse from her biological mother who abandoned her as a young child when she turned to men, drugs and alcohol. While bio-mom was out partying, not contacting her children or supporting them, I worked two jobs to feed, clothe and keep a roof over their heads. I sacrificed many years of my life to make my step-children's life bearable while bio-mom was non-existent. To this day, one step-child continues to crave her mother's love and acceptance, regardless of how she was treated as a child. Why? I've always told her that you cannot make someone love you, but as an adult, she still seeks that love. Bio-mom has treated her terribly over the years and continues to do so.

As a step-parent, I often wonder if I knew then what I know now, would I put myself through that again. I seriously doubt it. Don't get me wrong, I love my husband and children, but the emotional pain that I have endured over the years is probably something I could live without. Although that entire experience has taught me a lot about life and made me a stronger person, the emotional pain I've endured since becoming a step-parent still affects me. My love for all of my children, including my step-children and custodial child was always overwhelmingly strong, however, the feelings are not mutual. Is it really true to love and lost than not have loved at all? I'm still debating that issue in my mind...