Allison (Alli) Brooke Kirkpatrick is the youngest member of our family and she turns 10 tomorrow! I can assure you that she has quite enjoyed her spot in the birth order.
If you know me at all, you have likely heard me say that Alli saved our family. It is so true. She saved me, my husband and our other 2 kids. She saved my mom. And I’ve been saving this story in honor of her 10th birthday – her breakthrough into the world of the 2-digit age!
This time around 11 years ago, my best friend, Allison, was preparing to have heart surgery. At the time, it was mostly experimental and there were only a handful of doctors in the world that were trained to perform it. Forgive my ADHD brain that can’t remember specifics. After a bout with strep a year before (that she suspected had turned into undiagnosed Rheumatic fever), she ended up in the hospital. Then she began to suffer from a rapid heartbeat. So she started seeking medical treatment and after months of experimentation with medications, realized that her only option was to have this heart surgery. The surgery was supposed to be effective and low risk, but Allison’s was complicated because an incision had to be made in her heart wall to access the other side. This, along with the replacement of a heart valve at the same time, caused complications from which she died in early May. Because of her death, changes were made to the protocols of this type of surgery that have no doubt made the surgery safer. And now, the surgery is commonplace and fairly low risk, as far as heart surgeries go.
She was my best friend and soul mate. We did everything together. Taylor and her daughter,Kaitlynn, were best friends and did everything together. Logan and her son, Jackson, were big buddies, despite their 2 year age difference. And Bobby and her husband, Curtis, were attached at the hip. Her death was devastating. Not only to me, but to everyone in my family. I didn’t handle her death well at all. After being urged by my friends and family to see my doctor, I ended up on Paxil. Why?? I never understood how a drug could make the loss of your friend any more bearable. Perhaps it helped with the anxiety. I don’t think I could tell. But I was beginning to develop a bad habit and that bad habit was having a couple of drinks every evening.
Not long after Allison died and I was put on Paxil, I visited my OB/GYN for my yearly appointment. He asked me if I was planning to have any more children, and I told him NO (!!!!!), so we decided staying on birth control pills was the best course of action. He gave me a prescription and I went on my way.
Now, I may not recall much from this period of time, but I remember making the decision to put that prescription in the console of my car, so that it would be handy and easy to find when needed. The day came to use my refill, so I went to my console to get the prescription…….but it wasn’t there. At this point, I wasn’t worried, because surely it had just gotten pushed to the bottom. So I grabbed the contents of my console out in chunks and found nothing. I put it all back, then took it out piece by piece. Nothing. Put it all back. Looked between the seats, under the seats, and in every nook and cranny of my vehicle. Nothing. Still, no big deal. I must have put it in my purse. Looked through my purse. Nothing. Didn’t panic…..yet. I must have laid it on the counter in the house. Looked on the counter, then tore apart the house yet still NOTHING. Ok, by this time normal Jen might have begun to get a little nervous, but, hey, I was on Paxil and my anxiousness was apparently taken care of!
This dance went on for a couple of weeks. I kept looking without ever finding anything. Until one day…I opened my console and THERE IT WAS!!! The damn thing was just laying on top. (Remember that I tore that console apart NUMEROUS times.) However, now I was halfway through my cycle and that meant I would have to wait another two weeks to start the new pack of pills. The two weeks came and went….and I was late starting. And another week came and went. But I couldn’t entertain that I might be pregnant. I just kept thinking about how stressful it had been and surely that was the cause…..until ANOTHER week went by and I slowly started to entertain the inevitable.
When I finally got around to taking an at-home test, the results were positive in SECONDS. As in, just long enough for things to cross through that window. So, I just left it on the counter and decided to come back later because maybe it was wrong and it would change. Only it didn’t change. And that’s when the panic set in and the Paxil stopped helping. Now, I am a Christian and I believe that God does wondrous things, but I’ve never been one to go around claiming Acts of God. But this little incident had God’s fingerprints all over it!
Immediately, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it would be a girl. I also wanted to name her Allison, but Bobby announced that we would name her after Allison before I even had a chance to express my thoughts. I couldn’t know, at the time, what a blessing she would be or how she would save us.
I weaned myself off the Paxil. Of course, I immediately stopped drinking alcohol. And that’s how Alli saved me before she even arrived. Since then, she has helped keep me young (and she DEFINITELY keeps me on my toes). We stay busy, busy, busy with all her activities. She NEVER gets in a hurry, EVER!! But she has taught me not to sweat the small stuff (OK, I still sweat the small stuff….like when it’s time to go and she WILL NOT HURRY!). But she is a great athlete, smart, kind and compassionate, hard worker (when she wants to be), and is a duct-tape artist!
She has also been such a blessing for my mom. Alli was born 4 months before my dad passed away. Alli helped keep my mom active and gave her a reason not to give up. They are still big buddies and Alli spends as much time at Memo’s house (probably more, actually) than at ours. But I’m OK with that, because it’s good for both of them. Alli is a caretaker. She likes being able to help Memo with whatever needs to be done. They enjoy going out to eat….I don’t even know what all they do when they are together!
Happy Birthday, Alli!!