Monday, December 14, 2009

If Only it Were That Easy!

Natural Parenting











Still, hilarious. LOL!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

I love cold weather and I love snow. The sound of softly falling snow in the trees is the most peaceful sound I have ever heard. So when I looked out the window at 10:50 this morning I let out a yelp of joy.

It's snowing! In Houston! On December 4!!

This is definitely something that doesn't happen often, much less 2 years in a row. This snow sets a record for Houston, the earliest snowfall on record. And it's supposed to go on until around 5pm with freezing starting in the early afternoon. We've been told to expect anywhere from a few inches to half a foot.

It hasn't stopped as of now, we've even had some long periods of heavy snow. Hopefully I'll have some pictures to add later.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hide and Seek

I found out this weekend that Midna can play hide and seek.

She was on our bed and I was on the floor beside. I began by peeking up at her then ducking down. She would pounce to the edge and make her "cricket" chirp while peering down at me. I would pop up saying, "Boo!" Then she chirped while turning quickly and diving under the sheet. This went on over and over for about ten minutes.

I wish I had a camera to capture the action because it made me laugh.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Step by Step

Visualize strolling through a peaceful forest with the Lord Jesus at your side. You are on a journey to the land where hopes and dreams are fulfilled. As the sunlight filters through the trees you think to yourself, Life couldn't be more perfect! Surely this is what the Lord meant when he said he had come to give us more abundant life! You are sharing with him your hope of becoming a mother soon and thanking him for creating you a woman and giving you the privilege of conceiving and bearing new life.

But suddenly, you begin to hear the rush of water and, as you come to a clearing in the trees, you see a wide and roaring river. Your heart stops! You need to get to the other side. That's where your hopes and dreams will become reality. You feel panic and frustration rising within you. You begin running frantically up and down the shoreline looking for a way to get across to the other side. You see your future waiting for you over there, but there's no way to reach it. You long to call for help, hoping someone in a boat will hear you and take you across. You feel so alone. Where are your friends and family when you need them the most?

You begin to stomp your foot and beat your fists against the nearest tree. You shout, "What's happening? Five minutes ago I was so happy - now this!" You throw yourself down on the bank. You feel as though your heart has been torn out and thrown into the murky water, to be washed away downstream in the foam.

The tears continue to fall for days, weeks, years it seems. But, finally, out of total brokenness you begin to look for the friend you abandoned at first sight of that horrible river. You don't take many steps before you see him sitting there. As your eyes meet his, your very soul suddenly overflows with feelings of love, peace, and acceptance.

"I've been waiting for you," he says. "I know the way across the river. Will you trust me to deliver you safely to the other side?" Words cannot form in your mouth, so you silently slip your hand into his, assuring him that yes, you are ready.

He begins to lead you along the shoreline and it isn't long before you see a path across the water leading to the other side. Stones! A path of stepping stones! Why hadn't you seen those before? Finally, there is a bridge across the troubled waters. There, just waiting for you, are the hopes and dreams of a lifetime.

He steps out first. How comforting it is to know that he goes before you. Time passes slowly. It seems you've been stepping from stone to stone for a very long time, so you strain to see around your leader, wanting to know how much farther you have to go. In doing so, you lose your balance and slip off the rock into the churning water. He quickly turns, reaches down, and draws you out of danger. You're thankful he doesn't rebuke you for your impatience and lack of trust in his ability and promise to get you safely to the other side. He just smiles and says, "Follow me!"

As time drags on you again begin to wonder when you'll ever reach your destination. You think to yourself, If I look back to see how far we have come, maybe that will encourage me to keep the faith. So you stop and look behind you.

You can't believe your eyes! You look to the left and then to the right! There are people behind you - men and women all plodding along on paths to get to the other side. Where did they all come from?, your heart cries. Where were they when I felt so alone?

You position yourself on the stone beneath you so you can see these fellow travelers more clearly. You begin to realize that not all pathways are the same. Some paths seem shorter than others. Some are straight and others crooked. Just to your left you see a woman practically running across her stones, not taking the careful, slow steps you must take in order not to slip or fall. Why, her stones are much closer together than yours - no wonder! How unfair! She will reach the other side long before you will and you started out before she did!

You decide you must speak to the Lord about this. You carefully turn forward again and there he stands, on the stone right in front of yours - patiently waiting for you to continue your journey. You are surprised at the bitter and selfish words that flow out of your mouth but, after all, "This isn't fair!" He listens and, when you are finished, gently says, "The stones I have chosen for your brothers and sisters are not your concern. You follow me!" He stretches out his hand and once again you relinquish your hand into his care and allow him to guide you across.

It seems forever, but you finally reach the other side. As you wearily step onto the bank you look behind you. Your heart is filled with compassion for those still stepping from stone to stone. You hear the Lord say, "My child, if you could share with them how to make their journey easier, their burden lighter, what would you tell them?"

Thinking for a moment you reply, "Lord, I'd tell them that even though the stones you have chosen for them seem too many in number or too far apart for their stride, if they will only keep their hand in your hand, neither looking to the left nor to the right, but gazing steadfastly in front of them, then you will guide them safely over each stone until they reach the desires of their hearts."

-Janet Malcom

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Return of Fear

Yet again I am faced with the decision I never wanted to make.

Infertility treatment.

The mere thought gives me a choked feeling of dread.  A year ago we thought we had beaten infertility against all odds.  But here we are again. 

I shirked, I left the decision up to Brandon.  If we haven't had success by the end of the year our new year will start with infertility appointments.  A repeat of all the tests we did throughout 2008. Wrestling again with the moral dilemmas. Waving the white flag.

I want to just "give up,"  I'm not being pessimistic.  I want to let go of the fight, the anguish, the burden.  I want to find peace, I'm so weary.  In "giving up" I want to truly give it all to God.  I want to trust fully in His perfect will and timing. But that's far easier said than done. 

I also know His will might not include us becoming parents. I'm tired of people acting like I lack faith because I suggest we might not have children.  Yes, my hope has taken a major hit, I'm not impervious to the pain of disappointment month after month.  I'm wrestling with many questions.  God wants us to ask the hard questions, He doesn't mind us dealing with our anger and hurt feelings.

Sometimes I believe He might want to teach me more about patience.  I don't think I'm extremely impatient. I did wait 6 1/2 years to marry Brandon after knowing I wanted to marry him after a year.  In many ways I failed that test miserably but was also rewarded with a completely devoted and supportive husband.

So I struggle.  I'm struggling harder than ever, sometimes only hanging on by a thread.  Perhaps these trials really will make me stronger someday. I cling hard to that when hope seems all but gone.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Olivia

The first in our group of mutual friends who are expecting, had their baby a week and a half ago. Brandon went to visit them last Saturday and sadly, I couldn't go with him. I had been sick all the previous week and while I was already feeling better, I didn't want to risk spreading germs to them.

Finally, last night I was able to go over and meet Olivia. At just under 7 pounds she looked tiny. I'm used to monster newborns, my nephew weighed nearly 10 pounds, my niece was close to the same, and my cousin was over 10 pounds. Olivia fit so snugly in the crook of my arm.

I thought about sending flowers, a gift, the usual but I don't know, I guess I am too practical. Flowers die. A gift, well what? I wanted to do something useful. So, I made them dinner and brought it over last night. It's what I would want someone to do for me. They thanked us over and over.

We didn't stay too long but it was nice getting to chat with them. And getting some "baby snuggles" was pretty nice too.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sadness

My heart is breaking for my sister-in-law and her family. They had to let her mother go. It was sudden. She was supposed to get well, not worse. She was too young. She was their rock. Always thinking of others before herself. Her smile lit up the room. Her kindness and compassion will live on in Jessica.

When I found out things were not looking good I drove to the hospital to offer my support. I didn't know what else to do but I felt like I needed to be there. If I was in the same situation I would want Jessica there with me. I lent an ear, a shoulder. I walked the halls. I prayed. I ran out of words so I prayed the same thing over and over.

It was so hard to watch them go through all that. They know she is in a better place, a place where she no longer suffers. They know they will see her again. But that doesn't always make the grief easier.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ramblings of a Head Cold

Life has been happening but I've been feeling particularly uninspired to write lately. Which is probably the best time to write.

There's been mental wrangling dealing yet again with our loss. I thought I was doing well but the scar was peeled back a couple of months ago. I've since come to realize that I will never "get over it" but I can move on and I can choose how I deal with it. With out realizing it depression was starting to set in, but I've decided not to let it overcome me. One day I will beat depression once and for all.

Something I have to constantly tell myself.

More mental wrangling about infertility treatment. Once again it's time to start making those decisions. I have such an immense fear about going through all of it. Another thing I need to let die. But I've got support now. I realize I have to open up, share, and allow others to help me through this journey. It doesn't mean that I am weak. It doesn't mean that I am burdening others.

Things I have to keep reminding myself.

Yet more on my future career options. I am blessed beyond words to have this time of rest. Because of choices and sacrifices we have made I am not working right now. I have a great many interests which gives me a tendancy of paralysis in wondering what is the "right" choice. I realize I might "fail" again, but how will I know without trying? Who cares if I have to go back to school a number of times? Education is never a waste. Stepping out into the unknown is scary but paralysis due to fear is even scarier.

Thoughts I need to drill into my brain.

Do you notice the pattern? Low self-esteem is my enemy. When I told my mom that years ago she said, "But you have never cared what others think of you, you always seem so strong." True, I don't really care. Why is low self-esteem always wrapped up in what others think of you? And seem is the key word. I tend to not share my true self with others.

I am my own worst enemy. Overly critical. Perfectionistic. I don't let others in very easily. It's an anchor that weighs me down. I am only harming myself.

But I am trying. I am opening up more. Reaching out to a support system. Even dealing with unpleasant things and unpleasant people. Working to not let the helpful hurtful things they say rankle.

Life is hard. Dealing with life is hard work. But I can choose to be miserable or happy.

I can choose to live instead of exist.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jumping the Gun

As we were walking through the grocery store over a week ago Brandon was incredulous that the seasonal aisle was fully stocked with Halloween stuff. I blew it off, not surprising to me, that's just what they do.

I did 'snort' however, as I drove past the shopping village down the street today. Workers were hard at work installing Christmas lights in the long rows of palm trees. I realize retail establishments are probably anticipating revenues from Christmas shopping after such a hard year but come on! Isn't September a little too early for Christmas decorations? I haven't even put my fall wreath on the door yet.

It instantly brought to mind a frequent dream I have. In the dream it's Christmas Eve night and I have just realized that I didn't do any Christmas shopping. It leaves me with that anxious, choked feeling in my throat. What is wrong with me? Maybe it's that we have such a large family and I always want to give gifts that people actually like and will use/enjoy regularly. Maybe it's because gifts are last on my list of love languages and I believe gifts are the least important part of Christmas.

Whatever my problem, I don't need the extra pressure.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Our Angel

I was thinking today how different our lives would be right now had our daughter lived. We would surely have bags under our eyes from lack of sleep.  The washing machine and dryer going non-stop.  Wee clothing and blankets waiting to be folded.  Our home the proverbial wreck.  But also a small wonder with tiny features to admire.  Love keeping us going through our fatigue.

Her name was going to be Sarah.

For whatever reason her life on earth was short.  But long enough for us to love, plan, and hope for her.  She would have been a couple of weeks old by now. I wonder what she would have looked like.  Would she have my blue eyes or Brandon's green?  If she had any hair at all, would it be golden curls?  Would we already be able to discern family resemblance?

The pain, the loss are not so raw anymore, my sadness is in not having the chance to meet her. Hardly a day goes by that I don't think of her.  I know she is in heaven, I imagine my great-grandmother, my relatives who have gone before, walking with her.  When my time comes I will meet her and I will recognize my baby girl.

I don't understand why after the mental fatigue of years of trying she was taken away too soon.  I don't understand why we were given the hope of her coming into our lives only to have the hope ripped away in a crushing blow.

I will never understand, but I also know she is where she is supposed to be.  I have comfort in knowing she will never feel any pain, only knowing paradise beyond measure.  And she knows the loving arms of her creator.

We may never be blessed with any other children but we will always be her mother and father.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Girls







Chu














Midna

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Life Happens...

...blink and you'll miss it.

Life has thrown me for a loop lately. Actually several loops if you want to get down to it.

I've been keeping track as they come, just getting down bits and pieces in blog posts, to come back to later when life calms down a bit.

I like a journal for many reasons. It's theraputic for me to write out life's ups and downs, to get them out of my head so my mind can rest a bit. My mind is constantly going, there are always many "somethings" I'm thinking about. More importantly, when I become inclined to feel sorry for myself, I can look back at past struggles and know that I have endured and come through.

Life has been interesting lately. We've added a new member to our household. Had multiple trips to the emergency room. (Not for me, thank the Lord) Multiple trips to the vet. Weighty decisions concerning my health and our future. A flooded home. Finding lost treasure. And more little things.

Like I said, interesting. I'm just trying to take things as they come.

And to catch up and finally take a breath.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Treasure Among the Wreckage

A month or so ago Brandon's business partner paid Brandon his small share of the sale of their business. Theirs was more of an informal, verbal agreement so his friend took care of everything then paid Brandon in cash. Brandon came home with the envelope and laid it on the bookcase near the front door. We planned to use the money for a much needed vacation.

As we were leaving the next morning, I didn't want to leave cash laying in plain sight in case maintenance showed up unexpectedly. I hit it on the second shelf among some magazines. Then as is highly unusual for me, I promptly forgot about it.

A few weeks later as I was cleaning I went through that shelf to recycle the old magazines, ads, and expired coupons. Two days after we dropped everything off at the recycle center I suddenly thought of the money. A sick feeling washed over me. Had I moved the envelope? Was the cash now laying in the recycle center bin? I frantically searched everywhere trying to convince myself that I had moved the money. I couldn't find it anywhere. It was gone. I had recycled $1500 in cash.

I was so embarrassed, who does something so stupid? I absolutely dreaded having to tell Brandon. He is such a wonderful person, he just hugged me and said it wasn't all my fault. He said he should have put it in the bank as soon as possible.

We wrestled with whether or not to go to the recycle center to try to find it. We finally decided to give it a go. We called the recycle center to find out when the bins are emptied and if we could go and search through it. We were passed around from person to person, no one knew what answer to give. We went later that night when it wasn't busy. Looking at paper bin was like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, it seemed to stretch on forever. My stomach sank and the defeatist in me said we would never find it. After 15 minutes we gave it up as a loss.

I felt horrible. It was Brandon's money and I had lost it in a stupid fashion. He promised not to constantly bring it up and use it against me. I told him I deserved all the grief he could dish out.

After our flood I was packing our bedroom up to get everything out of the way so our flooring could be replaced. I picked up Brandon's old Mac laptop that he rarely uses and found the bank envelope lying there. !?!?!?!?!?! There it was! I had had a nagging feeling all along that I had moved the money but I couldn't remember where.

At least this story ended well and we can now find humor in it. I fully intended to write it down as a lesson in humility for me once I got over the sting of it. It turns out the sting isn't so bad anymore and I learned my lesson. I won't make that mistake ever again.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Hits Keep Coming

As we drove home Sunday night after spending a day in Brenham with family I remember thinking all I wanted was to go home and snuggle up with Brandon and get a good night's sleep. We had had a rough week before, what with doctor's appointments, taking my grandmother to the ER not once but twice including the night before, and getting up early because Brandon had soundboard duties at church that morning.

Alas, it wasn't to be.

When we drove past the backside of our apartment I noticed the porch light was on. That made me a little nervous, we never leave that light on. My mind wandered a bit, thinking someone had broken in. I always tell Brandon that I don't fear for the theft of our belongings, I just worry that they will let our cat (who is declawed and thus, defenseless) out to get lost.

We cautiously unlocked and opened the door and I noticed immediately that furniture had been moved. We turned on the light to find our apartment turned upside down. I had joked earlier that our apartment looked like a bomb went off. Through all the craziness of the preceding week I hadn't been able to pick up or finish folding several loads of laundry. When we got home my joke looked like reality. Things were moved, our stuff was thrown all over the place. And most strange, 80% of our carpet was missing!?!?!

I did a quick check for the cats. I found the new cat still holed up in the bathroom looking bewildered but then my worst fear flooded over me, I couldn't find Chu! I must admit I went a little batty. I called my sister to help calm me down. About 10 minutes later a harried looking cat squeezed out from under the couch, meowing pitifully.

Meanwhile, Brandon kept his cool and called the answering service. He was given the number for the manager, called her and demanded to know what had happened.

Around 6pm or so a water main blew right outside our bedroom window. The water was shooting at our's and our neighbor's window and somehow made its way inside to flood both our apartments. Another neighbor called to notify the answering service and maintenance came 15 minutes later. They came into our (and the next door neighbor's) home and moved as much of our stuff off the wet carpet then removed the carpet as quickly as possible. Thank God for them, they saved nearly all of our stuff.

Some of our furniture has minor water damage on the bottom but no one but us can probably tell. Luckily our bed which is right by the window was not a bit wet. The worst damage was to Brandon's college computer science textbooks and class notes. There were 4 cardboard boxes full under the bed. We ended up having to take 3 boxes worth to the recycling center. He felt like he was losing an arm.

Needless to say we didn't get to bed until after 1am. We sorted through as much as we could, laundered wet clothes, unburied and made up the bed, and tried to get some sleep. I tossed and turned all night long.

Monday was spent going through boxes, packing up, and trying to clean up as much as possible. When they pulled up the carpet, years worth of dust and dirt was distributed throughout the air and over much of the furniture. Not a good mix for someone with allergies. I was miserable. We made arrangements with my parents to keep Chu for a few days because it had become impossible to keep Chu and and still sick Midna separated from each other.

In the midst of the nightmare we came home to, we noticed Midna's eye was red and oozing. Can cats get pink eye? Apparently so. (Sigh) I looked up and found that cat's indeed can develop pink eye after upper respiratory infection and if left untreated might cause blindness. So Tuesday morning I called to schedule yet another appointment with the vet.

Tuesday morning we woke up to go talk to management about their plans to fix the floors and walls. They told us we could expect hardwood floors to replace the carpet in the living room and carpet wouldn't be installed until Wednesday because the supplier was waiting on a shipment. They also have to repaint our bedroom to cover the water damaged areas. We get all the benefits of moving without changing our address.

We are grateful. As is life, it could have been much, much worse.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

We All Have Scars

"Scars are not here to remind us how much pain we have experienced but to remind us about how much we have overcome."

Something I really needed to hear today.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bad News

I returned to my GI doc for a check up today. He wants me to stay on immunosuppressants for at least a year. His reasoning, if I was taken off now I might suffer a relapse thus another round of steroids and 6-mp indefinitely.

I didn't anticipate this. Changing doctors means different opinions, I get that. I still really like him but I got the impression from my previous doctor (who I also liked) that I would not have to take medication for that long. Oh well, that's life, I have to accept the things I can't control.

Now we have hard decisions to make in regard to having children. 2 1/2 years ago after becoming ill and going through disgusting procedures to figure things out I said I would not let my life be put on hold due to illness. And I still maintain that.

There is no consensus among doctors whether or not 6-mp is harmful to a developing baby. Some say, "absolutely not." But studies haven't proven conclusively that it's harmful. I spoke to my doctor who said he has had patients have healthy, successful pregnancies while taking the medication. Ultimately good health of the mother is most important.

No one has any place to tell us we can or can't have children, the decision is ours. I could wait the year out but there is always the chance I may suffer a relapse anyway and have to stay on some sort of immunosuppressant for the rest of my life. Then what, I can't have children ever?

I've spent a lot of time wrestling with the emotional aspects of illness and infertility. I'm not always strong and my outlook isn't always rosy. Sometimes I believe we aren't meant to raise children at all. Sometimes I believe that my health issues aren't something I want to pass on. Sometimes I have the feeling I don't want to raise children. In short, I'm weary, it's been a long road.

But I haven't quite given up hope. It's not our fault, we aren't being punished. If it is His will, God will make it happen in His time. And if we never raise children, it does not make Brandon and I less of a family. I cling to the fact that with God's help, this will only make me stronger. In my weakness, that is all I can do.

Sick Cat

Our new little one has a cold. Poor thing, she looks and sounds so miserable.

I took her in last Wednesday for her free follow up at a local vet after her spaying surgery. She was doing well. They treated her for tapeworms, (ick) gave me some flea medication to prevent future worms, and sent us on our merry way.

Thursday she started sneezing a bit. On Friday night she was looking pretty miserable so we decided to call for an appointment the next morning.

I took her in this afternoon, its a respiratory infection and all I can do for her is give her kitty decongestant, keep her happy and warm, wait for the cold to run it's course, and keep her away from Chu. They told me to return if she started having discharge from her eyes.

They also found her ears clogged with ear mites and ear mite dirt. (Again, ick) They were shocked that the other vet clinic didn't find them. That's because they never even bothered to look. I guess you get what you pay for, but in their partnership with the SPCA I would think the animal clinic would take it as an opportunity to attract new customers by providing great service. Mildly annoying to say the least.

I'm still glad we could rescue and provide her a home even though she is costing more than first anticipated. I'm sure she will get well and be a happy, healthy cat in no time.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New Edition

Last night we welcomed a new little one into our home. And by little, I mean 6 lbs, 4 oz. Tiny! We named her Midna.

It's been a long time coming. I asked a couple of years ago to adopt another cat, Brandon said yes. We agreed to adopt from a shelter or other adoption program. We decided on another female, male cats are fine but you have to get them young and have them altered before they start spraying, we can't have a cat spraying up inside our apartment and we refuse to just let a cat roam free in the city. We decided on a kitten or young cat so she would not be too set in her ways and would be more accepting of the cat we already have.

Every time we would find a cat meeting our agreed upon requirements, Brandon would grow indecisive.

While volunteering at the SPCA on Friday I found a little cat in one of the back rooms where they don't get a lot of attention. Brandon came down and we agreed to adopt her. She is a Tortie-point Siamese/domestic short hair mix, blue eyes, brown points, with light yellow patches here and there and some crazy speckled whiskers. She's 1 1/2 years old, has a sweet, affectionate temperament, and a purr that is ridiculously loud for her small size. Maybe that's why the shelter called her Sweet Pea.

We currently have her closed up in our huge bathroom because we need to have her health checked before we expose her to Chu. Cats can pick up highly contagious, respiratory infections in shelters and her paperwork says she was brought in as a stray so she could have worms. She was given medication for both as a precaution but I would rather be safe then sorry. Also it isn't good to just shove 2 strange cats in each others faces right away. We will use a number of techniques to introduce their smells to each other before they actually get to meet in a week or so.

Chu is a bit nervous, she knows some strange beast has entered her territory. Midna is somewhat curious but doesn't seem put out by Chu. I'm anxious to get them together. I'm pretty sure they will be friends before long.

The poor thing looks so ragged but with a proper bath in a couple of weeks and some good food she will become a good looking little girl. We are happy to give her a home and affection.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Flabbergasted!

I woke up Saturday feeling like I had a hangover which is quite a feat for someone who doesn't drink.  Needless to say I skipped Brandon's company barbeque and instead curled up to finish what has to be one of the most depressing books ever written. (1984)  My older brother called at 10:45 am which I briefly thought  strange since they are now 2 hours behind in Arizona and he doesn't usually call me that early.  We chatted for a bit and then he mentioned seeing us at church the next morning.  Huh?  He chuckled and told me they were in town because Jessica's grandmother had finally passed away after months of poor health.  He wanted information on what mom was up to for Mother's day.  He decided since they had to come he would surprise her.  Brandon and I coordinated with Jeff and kept it a secret from everyone. 

Sunday afternoon there was a knock on the door at my grandmother's home where we were gathered.  I contained my smile as my grandma opened the door to find Jeff and Jessica standing there with flowers.  She did a double take then fell against the wall she was so surprised.  By that time I was bouncing up and down on the couch, clapping like a small child and grinning from ear to ear.  My mom got up at my grandma's exclamations and her jaw dropped.  Everyone was so surprised.  Then my mom wanted to know who knew, only Brandon and me, and called us sneaky. 

It was a good surprise for my mom and grandma.  I'm sure they'll remember it for years.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Trouble

My 3-year-old nephew arrived last night to stay the week with "Grammy" and "Papa."  I sat with him while he ate dinner and we had a  lively discussion.  He informed me that a friend of his told him, "Girls are trouble." 

I told him that mommy is a girl and asked if she is trouble.  He shook his head.  I asked if Ella (his baby sister) is trouble since she is a girl also.  He shook his head again.  I asked if I was trouble and again he shook his head.

This morning after I got out of a meeting I realized I had a voice mail.  My mom had called to relay a message from Collin.  After he had gotten up for the day he looked up at wall, pointed to my picture and informed my mother, "That's Rachel, she's trouble." 

I couldn't contain my laughter, that made my day.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dear Bank of Hypocrisy, You're Fired!

I was going through our files today in order to purge the paperwork we don't need anymore when I got a laugh out of the following letter from Brandon's former bank:
"As you requested, we have regrettably closed your "Bank of Hypocrisy" credit card account. We hope you will reconsider your decision and make your "Bank of Hypocrisy" credit card your card of choice.... We have enjoyed having the opportunity to serve you. If you would like to re-open your account, please contact our Customer Service Center..."
No thanks!

I know it's weird in this day and age but I never bought into the concept of a credit card. 4 years ago I convinced Brandon to close the credit card he was "persuaded" to open as "overdraft protection" for his checking account during college. When he called to close the account they resorted to all manner of desperate tactics as I sat there jokingly, cheering him on to "stay strong." It was quite comical. And then we received their heart-felt letter.

Please, what they regret is they couldn't continue to charge him all those ridiculous fees and high interest rates. They wanted him to reconsider being screwed out of hard earned money month after month. What they enjoyed was the opportunity to take our money. No thank you.

We have since made drastic changes to our finances. One of those is the decision to never use credit again. We've never had a problem since and it works for us.

So banks, no thank you, we choose not to be your slaves.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Gesundheit!

Praise God! After my first round of blood tests following treatment I am pleased to say my liver numbers have all returned to normal and my blood cell counts are all good. I had my first appointment with my new doctor who I know I will enjoy working with. He wants to take me all the way off the steroids and then the 6-MP. I began the weaning process for the steroids last night and it will probably take a month to come off completely. They will continue to monitor my liver numbers and blood cell counts very regularly and as long as my liver numbers are good I will be able to get off the medications. Awesome news! The side effects have been annoying and I am looking forward to getting rid of them. No more all too frequent trips to the bathroom. (even at all hours of the night, I feel like I'm pregnant again.) Good bye to the horrible breakouts all over (I look like I have the measles) No more retaining water, night sweats, dizziness, and fatigue.

And best of all we will be able to start trying for children again. That is still months away but it sounds like it will be sooner than first expected. 6-MP is a chemotherapy drug. In treatment of cancer it's function is to kill bad cells but it isn't choosy, it can kill good cells too. (most often the blood cells) That wouldn't be a good thing for a developing baby. At first I was told I would have to take the 6-MP for at least 3 months and then it would take another 3 months for the drug to completely clear my system. Being told we had 6 months more of waiting after 2 painful years of trying was hard to hear but we knew it was for the best. After all I need to be healthy before I can worry about the health of a growing little one.

For some reason the autoimmune problems in relation to pregnancy have been easier to handle then the infertility. While infertility isn't final it has such a finality about it, there is hardly any control over the outcome. I think that's why it's so much harder to deal with emotionally. The autoimmune problems can almost always be controlled and I'm showing great progress in responding so quickly to the treatment. With roadblock after roadblock it is easy to become discouraged, to want to just give up and I do struggle with letting go and trusting God will answer our prayers. I just keep reminding myself that whatever happens will be to the glory of God and who am I to argue with that?

I am excited for the progress and the good news. I have learned to slow down, to listen to my body when it says 'enough.' And even better, in slowing down I am learning to enjoy my life just where it is instead of constantly thinking about where it could be. After all it fits well with one philosophy of success I admire: finding contentment no matter your situation.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Adventures in Babysitting

My aunt and uncle needed a last minute babysitter for a few hours this weekend. I enjoy spending time with my cousins (Katy and Michael are 8, Ryan is 13) especially since we don't often see them with busy schedules and all. We weren't busy Saturday night so we agreed to go watch Michael's baseball game and then bring the twins home afterward while their parents attended a birthday party.

After the game we took Katy and Michael out for some dinner and then headed home. We went to let ourselves in using the garage door code only to find that it wasn't working. Figures! Suzi had mentioned that it had been acting up lately so she would leave the keys with us, she forgot. Figures! And Katy had used the code just before we left and it worked. Figures! We called David to find out if there was a spare key somewhere hidden or with the neighbors. No, of course not, that would be too easy. So we loaded up the twins to go retrieve the keys from the restaurant they were at. Luckily, just as we were pulling out of the driveway Ryan was dropped off from his baseball tournament so at least he didn't come home to no one and completely locked out.

The little ones were exhausted from all their baseball opening day activities so they promptly fell asleep in the car. By the time we got back to the house we only had about an hour left to watch them. Ryan immediately went up to shower, then entertained himself with World of Warcraft for the rest of the time. Michael staggered upstairs to continue his sleep on the floor in the game room, still fully dressed in his baseball gear. Poor kid! I didn't have the heart to wake him. Katy watched a little TV and then without prompting went to take her shower as well. I'm always pleased with how well they behave when we are watching them. They are helpful, they mind well, they always say please and thank you. Of course they have their moments but they are such great kids!

All's well that ends well.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Making Adjustments

I have been diagnosed with Autoimmune Hepatitis. I have already come to find I have to be careful to explain to others. Since my dealings with connective tissue disease started last year I have done research and was already familiar with the workings of Autoimmune Disease. Autoimmune Disease occurs when a person's immune system is sent the wrong messages and the body launches an attack on healthy body parts as if they were foreign. Much is still not known about why and how this happens. There is even speculation that Autoimmune Disease is one single disease that affects different people in different organs. Some people carry a predisposition for the disease especially if they have a family history.

Hepatitis is simply inflammation of the liver. In general, most knowledge of Hepatitis is usually the Hepatitis viruses A,B,C (and I have found there is a D,E,F, & G as well) so when I tell people they will hesitate or step back and I quickly explain that I don't have any of the viruses. And that I don't have an alcohol problem, I haven't had anything to drink in about 4 years. My body is attacking my liver.

For this I have to make adjustments in my life. I'm not a fan of taking medications but of course take them when necessary. The treatment for this disease is high doses of immunosuppressants with the goal of achieving remission of symptoms and thus much lower maintenance levels of the medications.

I am currently taking Predinsone and Mercaptopurine (6-MP). The long term side effects of Prednisone are of great concern: diabetes, bone loss, glaucoma, as well as the less serious like breakouts and weight gain. 6-MP can lower the need for so much Prednisone but also has the potential to cause serious (but rare) problems like inflammation in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. I will have monthly blood tests to check for this as well as my blood counts because they can lower white blood cells.

Suppressing the immune system with medication means my entire system is less protected from infection. If I got an infection I would have a harder time fighting it. So I have to avoid contact with sick people. Now, of course I'm not going to live in a bubble (though my paranoid husband thinks I should.) I will still go about my regular activities. But I won't sit next to or touch sick people, have to make sure to frequently wash my hands, and make a habit of not touching my face, nose, or eyes unless my hands have been washed.

If I get a fever (100.5 or higher) I have to receive immediate intravenous antibiotics. Here's hoping that only happens during regular office hours and that I won't have to make trips to the ER.

Another adjustment I have to make is in regard to gastroparesis. Since my stomach doesn't empty fast enough food can just sit there and cause heartburn and indigestion. So I have to eat smaller, more frequent meals. I feel like I am constantly eating. I also have to avoid too many rich, fatty foods at once. My doctor gave me medication that I can take when I feel it's necessary. This may get better over time or I may deal with it indefinitely.

It's been difficult with the barrage of information coming at me but I am grateful to know some of what is going on. I am grateful to have doctors helping to manage my health. I am grateful that we have our finances in much better order and the financial burdens of all the testing and procedures hasn't set us back. I am doing all I can to maintain a positive attitude and that has been a big help because it isn't always easy. I know that God is working in this and through this to grow me into a stronger person.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Getting Answers

This whole diagnostic process has been overwhelming to put it mildly. I have been through more tests in the last few weeks than I think I have had previously in my entire life. I am constantly being reminded to pay better attention to my body. You would think I have learned my lesson over the last couple of years. But with mystery ailments and no answers it's easy to feel like it's just my imagination. And yet again, when the new symptoms started my first inclination was to trivialize them.

I began feeling like I was catching a cold on New Year's day. A week or so later I lost my appetite. When I did eat I would feel full after a few bites and then feel a dull pain. I had begun to notice the dull pain back in December but it wasn't major and I didn't want to visit the doctor for something as vague as that. My heartburn became so bad that it kept me up at night. I quickly lost 10 pounds. After inwardly debating (yes, still) I decided to call my Gastroenterologist and shockingly I was scheduled for an appointment the very next day. After listening to my symptoms she said it sounded like my digestive process had slowed. I also mentioned a symptom that in hindsight is important to note, my urine was the color of iced tea. She said it was most likely due to dehydration since my intake had become much smaller and that I didn't look yellow so my liver was probably fine. (Interesting considering my later diagnosis.) She ordered a few test for the slowed digestion and also decided to do a control CT scan to check my intestines for signs of Crohn's while I wasn't having symptoms.

1/28 - Upper GI - I previously had this test 2 years before so I knew what to expect. I drank the crystals mixed with water that remind me of pop rocks and then the thick, chalky barium. I kept repeating thinking to myself that it was a milkshake. :) Then under the direction of the doctor I flopped around like a fish on the x-ray table. Results: Minor acid reflux, but that was found on the previous test as well. They also found what appeared to be a polyp in my upper small intestine. An endoscopy was ordered to remove that.

1/30 - My doctor called with the results of the Upper GI. She had also reviewed my chart (which she didn't have on my previous visit due to me coming in on such short notice.) She had noticed a very mild elevation in my liver enzymes about a year ago which was what got me started on the road with the connective tissue disease in the first place. Based on my history of other autoimmune issues she asked me to go in for blood work to recheck my liver enzymes just to be sure.

2/3 - Went in for blood tests, they took 5 tubes worth to check liver numbers and other autoimmune factors. I used to hate needles and would get lightheaded, but a sure fire way to get over that fear is to have lots of blood tests. Over the last couple of years I have gotten over that one.

2/4 - Gastric emptying study - For this one I had to eat oatmeal with radioactive material mixed in then lay under a machine that took pictures of my digestive process for an hour. I got to take a nap during. Results: Gastroparesis. A fancy word that means my stomach empties slowly just as she suspected. She gave me a medication to take as needed to speed up my digestion.

2/5 - My doctor called with the results from the blood tests. My various liver numbers were sky high. Normal range is below 40, mine were in the 500 - 800 range. My bilirubin level was also elevated. They also found I have elevated anti-smooth muscle antibodies. She said based on my history she believed it to be autoimmune hepatitis and asked me to go in for an ultrasound to check my liver, kidneys, and gallbladder to rule out gallstones. She also mentioned possibly having a liver biopsy.

2/6 - Ultrasound of liver, kidneys, and gallbladder. Results: Possible spot on my liver, no gallstones. Also submitted more blood tests to check bleeding rate in preparation for liver biopsy.

2/9 - CT scan originally ordered to check for signs of Crohn's while asymptomatic. For my previous 2 CT's I drank some solution that was mixed in sprite and it wasn't so bad. For this one I had to drink more barium only this barium was thinner and tasted horrible. It was about 5 large glasses worth that I had to drink in 30 minutes. The tech told me I might need to use the restroom after drinking it. I thought she meant one thing, boy was I wrong. That stuff upset my innards pretty badly. Results: No signs of Crohn's (yay, I don't have IBD) They also found a small spot on another part of my liver but my doctor isn't worried about that and a small cyst on my right ovary (I had just ovulated so perhaps that's what they saw.)

2/10 - Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (sheesh) - This is an endoscopy where they stick a tube with a camera down your throat. I was luckily knocked out for this procedure though it only took a few minutes to perform. Results: I didn't have a polyp, it must have been food or a bubble that they saw on the Upper GI. They found gastritis (inflammation in my stomach) and did a biopsy that ended up being negative. She also noticed before the procedure that my eyes looked white which meant that my bilirubin had come back down. (For the record, I never really noticed that I was yellow although my bilirubin numbers were high enough to cause me to.) She asked me to repeat my liver blood tests again to see if my numbers had come down and perhaps I wouldn't have to do the liver biopsy after all.

2/12 - My doctor called with the results of the blood test. She was surprised and pleased to see my bilirubin was back to normal and the liver enzymes came down dramatically though they were still high (200) so she asked me to proceed with the liver biopsy.

2/16 - Liver Biopsy - This one I was actually scared of doing. I have seen doctor shows and yes, I know they are all dramatic but I knew what went on for a liver biopsy. Under local anesthesia they insert a long needle through your skin to retrieve samples from your liver. I was nervous to say the least and had a reaction to the anesthesia. I got lightheaded and had ringing in my ears, I was so embarrassed. That passed quickly and the test was over quickly. I couldn't even feel the biopsy needle. (Thank the Lord.) I had to remain at the surgery center for 4 hours of observation. The first 3 hours I spent lying with a rolled up towel on my puncture wound. Painful. I was given pain medication but it never took effect. I was given a second dose a couple of hours later and again, no real effect. When I had an hour left they allowed me to lay on my back and the medication finally kicked in and I was out. My nurse came to discharge me. She had a thick Indian accent that I could understand perfectly before but because of the medication she might as well have been speaking a foreign language. I was that out of it.

2/20 - Last visit with my doctor. My liver biopsy was consistent with Autoimmune Hepatitis. She said it was mildly chronic meaning it has been going on for a little while but it was caught early. I have no major damage. She reviewed results from the other tests and procedures. She formed a plan of action in the course of treatment and helped me choose one of her colleagues for my next doctor. Today is her last day, she is moving to another state. I am so sorry to lose a doctor whose philosophies about medication and patient/doctor relations were so in tune with mine. I made sure to thank her for everything she had done for me. I believe she went out of her way, knowing she was leaving and yet not turning me over to another doctor until she figured something out. That's integrity to me and I wish her much success wherever she ends up.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Time

I was struck the other day by how much time has already passed this year. February is almost over and I feel like I have been asleep for most of the year so far. The last month and a half have been a whirlwind of tests, procedures, doctors visits and luckily I was still able to go on some fun trips as well.

My mother and I were talking the other day when she told me she hadn't realized just how sick I had been. It hit me then that I hadn't realized it either, but thinking back I was very sick. Perhaps I was in such good shape physically that the assault on my body didn't affect me to the extent it could have. However I am glad things are being figured out, we should have answers tomorrow, and my life can gain back some normalcy.

I'm actually looking forward to having a weekend at home since we have been gone for the last 3 weekends. Strangely, I look forward to cleaning our home since it hasn't been touched since (shock, gasp) before Christmas. And mostly I look forward to finally being able to cook my dear, wonderful husband a nice dinner and bake him a homemade cake for his birthday. His 30th birthday was last week and with all the doctor's appointments and traveling I wasn't able to honor him. And he deserves to be honored for all that he has done for me in the last 2 months. He has worried about me, taken care of me, done shopping and cooking, put up with my bad moods, my pushing him away, all without complaining.

I am a very blessed woman.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Survey Says...

How well do I know my spouse?
(I've always found these to be fun. So, since I have lots of time while I am still being good and following doctor's orders even though I feel fine, I decided to fill it out. I'll check with Brandon later to see how close I am.)

1. He's sitting in front of the TV, what is on the screen? 24 or House
2. You're out to eat; what kind of dressing does he get on his salad? Oil & Vinegar
3. What's one food he doesn't like? Pickled Beets
4. You go out to eat and have a drink. What does he order? Dr. Pepper
5. Where did he go to high school? Same as me, we met each other in 3rd year English.
6. What size shoe does he wear? 10 1/2
7. If he was to collect anything, what would it be? Computer bits & bobs (they are all over our shoe box sized apartment.)
8. What is his favorite type of sandwich? Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
9. What would he eat every day if he could? Chips & Salsa
10. What is his favorite cereal? He eats oatmeal the most but I don't think he really has a favorite.
11. What would he never wear? Flip-flops
12. What is his favorite sports team? He doesn't care to watch sports but would say the Texas Aggies if he had to.
13. Who did he vote for? I honestly don't know. We discuss politics but don't usually discuss who we vote for, he can vote all over the place because he gets strategic. In our last governors race I do know he voted for Kinky Friedman.
14. Who is his best friend? Me
15. What is something you do that he wishes you wouldn't do? Worry about my future endeavors
16. What is his heritage? German, Polish
17. You bake him a cake for his birthday; what kind of cake will it be? Homemade chocolate cake (but what he really wants is rum cake, I can't stand the smell so I refuse to make it, I'm so mean.)
18. Did he play sports in high school? Cross-country running
19. What could he spend hours doing? Reading/Surfing the net
20. What is one unique talent he has? He's very detail oriented. He's not afraid to ask lots of questions which makes him very helpful at the doctor's office and quite entertaining at church.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Abilene Weekend Highlights

I have a lot of catching up to do what with all the doctor's visits and busy weekends lately. And now I am on bed rest until tomorrow so I have the perfect excuse.

My mother, Brandon and I traveled to Abilene on Thursday night to spend the weekend with my brother's family. We were entertained by my 3-year-old nephew, charmed by my sweet baby niece, and amused by my brother's antics.
  • While making lunch Friday I made the mistake of offering a 3-year-old his choice of sandwich. I went down the list of options and he said no to each. After that I decided to just set a turkey and cheese sandwich in front of him. While I was making it he announced, "I like peanut butter." I had only placed the slice of cheese on the bread at that point so I took it off, broke it into pieces and set it on the side of his plate and proceeded to make the peanut butter sandwich. When I set the peanut butter sandwich with cheese on the side in front of him he sternly informed me, "No, the cheese goes on the inside of the sandwich." He then pulled the bread apart, put all the cheese on the peanut butter sandwich and ate the whole thing without complaint. He also demanded a pickle to complete his meal. YUM!

  • Ella is the calmest, happiest baby I have ever met with no exaggeration on my part. She is all smiles and coos when she wakes up, smiles all day long and only cries when you take away the bottle half-way through feeding to burp her. She loves having her diaper changed and goes to sleep easily. She is also sleeping through the night. Bryan and Lindi must have hit the baby jackpot as far as easy babies go, though Collin is making up for it a little now in refusing to potty train at home.

  • Lindi's mom and brother came over Saturday night to play Cranium with us. Towards the end of our first game they drew a Club Cranium cameo where we had to pick one person from each of our teams to do a charade. They all looked at the word and burst out laughing and I thought, surely they wouldn't put THAT in there. So laughter ensued as my husband, sister-in-law, and brother started miming the various stages of procreation. We guessed all the obvious answers but they kept going. When they were about ready to give up Lindi picked up some flowers, pointed to the pistils and stamen while Brandon started holding up more and more fingers. Finally it clicked and I guessed reproduce. We were in tears through the whole process of actions, answers offered, and confusion when we weren't right.
  • After the Cranium games were over Bryan and Lindi's brother, Zach were wound up so they decided to go through the acting box to entertain us further. Brandon made the observation that we were getting a glimpse into the future of Collin and Jaxon. (Jaxon is Zach's son who was born 5 weeks earlier than Collin. Hardly a day goes by that they don't see each other so they are more like brothers than cousins.)
  • We took Collin to the zoo on Friday. He was so excited, "I want to see the lions.. and the monkeys..and the 'jig-geraffes'.. and the snakes." He would run over to one cage, glance at the animals and run off to the next. We played at the park afterward where he didn't want to leave. When told we were going to go see mommy and daddy he informed us, "I don't like mommy and daddy."
  • Collin is headstrong and very particular about doing things a certain way. He has a bit of a temper at times. (just like his Daddy did) If he wants your attention he says, "HeyHeyHeyHeyHey..." until you give it to him. He loves Dora, Elmo, working puzzles, and playing trains.
  • We went to The Homeplace Restaurant while there which is always a treat. The country food is to die for and the atmosphere makes you feel like you are in another time.
It was quite an enjoyable weekend minus the drive. It's just a shame that we only see them 2 - 3 times a year but with a 6 hour drive one way, it's difficult to find time to go more often. Both Collin and Ella change so much each time we see them. And I miss getting to hang out with Bryan and Lindi.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Rejoicing in the Simple Things

I sometimes struggle with being grateful for my life.  I spend too much time wondering what in life I am meant for instead of enjoying where I am right now.  I beat myself up for my perceived inadequacies.  I don't give myself credit for being good at anything.  In short, I am incredibly hard on myself.  It's been a life long struggle.

But this morning I was able to come out of my morning fog very early.  My fatigue seems to be lifting, my energy is increasing.  My appetite isn't back yet, but I am able to eat more without the acid reflux and pain.  And my doctor seems to be getting closer to figuring out this mystery.

I have been distant with Brandon, I have been dealing with a lot and sometimes I don't know how to think or act.  I have been talking to him, working through the emotions but I'm sorry to admit I haven't been very affectionate with him.  That and he has a cold and I'm supposed to be avoiding those with infections right now.

But today is his birthday, and I've felt bad for pushing him away.  I got up this morning to cook him breakfast while he was showering.  He was so grateful.  I have already cleaned the kitchen, started and finished some laundry and am about to make cookies for my little brother's birthday this weekend.  I have some packing to do and some errands to run and feel like I actually have the energy to complete it all.

I am becoming aware of my limitations with health.  That it is alright to say when sometimes, I don't have to push myself to do everything.  I have been to the doctor's office for tests and procedures more than I would like, my arms are black and blue from the IV's and blood draws, my body is trying to adjust to some potent medicine that I don't exactly like having to take.  I have a liver biopsy coming up on Monday that I am absolutely terrified to have performed.

However, I am grateful that my energy is coming back, that I am able to have more of my life back.  I am grateful that through all of this I haven't had to sit in a hospital bed, that my family is being supportive in taking me to the appointments I can't drive myself home from.  I am thankful for a doctor who seems to genuinely care and is working hard to find answers and solutions to my problems even though she is leaving next week.  And I am blessed to have a husband who loves me and cares for me when I am sick even though I am slightly distant from him.  And most of all I am grateful that God loves me so much that I'm never alone. He is always with me and He will help me through this, no matter the outcome.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Traveling is Fun..

..but it's nice to be back home. We just got back from a long weekend in Los Angeles. We went out for a good friend's wedding. I visited L.A. about 12 years ago but had forgotten how sprawling that city is. There are so many people, cars, buildings, and traffic there.

People here in Houston complain about the bad traffic and rude drivers, but Houston has nothing on L.A. It takes 30 minutes to go 9 miles in L.A. Mind-boggling. Brandon kept driving super-carefully. Ha! They ate him for lunch. In L.A. there is no right-of-way. You do not slow down and you definitely don't stop when the light turns yellow. If you haven't moved within a second of the light turning green, you get a honk. The turn signals on all cars are broken. I snickered at Brandon's shock when a motorcycle zoomed in between two lanes of stopped traffic on the freeway. Thank God we borrowed a GPS from my mother, it was a God send. Although the GPS did get confused a few times, apparently they move streets around there. :)

It was a short trip but we did get to drive around for a bit of sight-seeing. On Saturday evening we made our way down to Santa Monica to walk around the beach and then the promenade. It was fun going around watching and listening to the street performers. There was a middle school kid out there playing classic rock songs. A crew of b-boys that reminded me of the 80's. This guy was out there playing his violin. Some guy was out there boldly evangelizing.

Our flight out was nice and smooth and fairly empty. On the completely full flight back we rode a roller-coaster. Fun times! Thank God for Dramamine. I didn't realize that some airlines have started charging for the first checked bag. I have always been able to carry on my luggage. But with the ridiculous liquids rule in place, this is the only time I wish for stick straight hair. With naturally curly hair I have to put a lot (A LOT) of conditioner and mousse in to tame it, and I can't put it in my carry on. I have heard that they might do away with the rule so that's good news for me.

We were given a good talking to by Chu when we got home. She reminds me so much of a dog when we get home from trips. She is at the door waiting, she excitedly runs back and forth not wanting to let us out of her sight. She demands attention and won't take no for an answer. She did express her displeasure either with our leaving or not giving her sufficient attention by loudly knocking things off of great heights in the middle of the night. It usually takes her a few days to adjust to other's homes, so for weekend trips we are able to leave her at home with a continuous supply of fresh water and a large bowl of food. For longer trips she stays with my parents or sister.

Now it's time to unpack and clean up and get back to somewhat normal life. I have more medical tests this week and next and one that has yet to be scheduled. My doctor called while we were on the plane Friday morning to say they found a polyp in my small intestine so they are removing and biopsying it as a precaution. Perhaps it's the cause of my lack of appetite and pain. The likelihood of it being malignant is small so I'm not worried. She would also like me to repeat a liver enzyme test since I had elevated numbers twice within the last year. Those numbers were the fluke that caused my doctors to later find the connective tissue disease. My pain has decreased somewhat and I am able to eat a bit more, but my appetite still hasn't returned to normal. Here's to hoping that they solve the mystery soon.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dreams

I saw this story on the local news tonight and it just warms my heart. A local young woman was accepted to an acting school in New York. But when her father was laid off she started playing her violin near a busy shopping area to raise money to go. When the local news first reported it someone anonymously donated the remaining balance she needed with the caveat that she donate the money later on so someone else can realize their dream.

It's wonderful to see people's generosity to one another, especially when all we usually see in the media is so depressing. Giving is one of our end goals now that we are out of debt and getting our finances in order. We have been "living like no one else," so later we can "give like no one else." Seeing stories like this are such an inspiration and a reminder that good still exists in this world.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thinking: Dangerous, I Know

I have had a lot of time with my thoughts recently. I have so many things floating around in my head on a daily basis, sometimes it is exhausting. Getting it all out whether verbally or through writing usually just sends me rambling, but I will try.

Life is complicated, confusing, still so much a mystery. This isn't anything new, I know. People often talk about a longing for 'simpler' times. But did our parents, grandparents, great-grandparent, and ancestors think their times were simple?

We have all kinds of modern conveniences that make our lives a lot easier. The medical advances in our time alone are astounding. Yet, doctors still sometimes can't figure out for years what eventually turns out to be an easily curable or minor ailment. And people rage that they haven't found a cure for cancer yet. We have come so far but there are still things in life we will never be able to fully understand.

Our health care system is severely broken. Many can't afford it, some go without. Insurance companies play God. It will take a lot of time and research to fix it, no one person has all the answers. It will take the collective part of many minds to figure this one out.

The media forecasts doom and gloom. They say we are in the worst times ever... They thrive on fear. What's really going on around us? There is a recession, but I'm not participating in the fear. So many expect the government to wave a magic wand and fix all our problems instantly, but they are human like the rest of us. Quick fixes don't happen, it will take time to get back on our feet. We can't forget our hope and faith.

Many don't like the president our country elected. One of the greatest freedom's we have is our right to vote and have an opinion. No president ever wins a popularity contest, they face difficult decisions and will make many mistakes along the way. But they are human like the rest of us, not perfect. Our current president, every president, deserves our respect for the job of leading our country. So we don't always agree 100%, that's our freedom and our choice, pouting won't change it.

There is corruption among some politicians. This isn't anything new, it isn't relegated to either major party. Corruption has gone on since time began and will continue. If you make a mistake, own up to it. It's OK to admit you did something wrong. Take your medicine and get on with your life.

Huge companies are failing, falling into bankruptcy. Some of them are standing in line holding out their hand. When any of us mess up in life, we have to face the consequences, pick up the pieces and learn from our mistakes. Giving them all handouts isn't always the best answer. Sometimes you have to fail to become better.

I guess my point is that life is never simple. So much is going on around us. Can we be happy with our lives despite the turmoil? Of course. We have the love of our families and friends. And we have many blessings regardless our station in life. Some of the most impoverished people are the happiest people on earth. Some of the wealthiest people on earth are them most cranky, unhappy people you will ever meet.

There is so much we don't know and may never know. But we can strive to learn as much as we can while we are here. We can keep open hearts and minds. The world is always changing and we are creatures of habit. But we can embrace the changes that happen along the way.

I am grateful for my life. I am blessed to be a part of this world. Life is very difficult at times, but it is wonderful at times. I don't have all the answers and I can't always find the words to fully convey what I believe. But I can always keep trying.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Miscarriage That Never Ends

I have dealt with all the emotional aspects of losing my child. I am doing very well in that regard and we aren't giving up hope.

But someone at the hospital on the day of my visit really screwed up. I remember someone coming to my room to take my insurance card and license to copy for my records. The only problem is that no one ever updated my information. They used the information on file from 3 years ago. They filed with an insurance company I haven't had in 2 years. So of course I started getting bills for everything. And I am still getting bills to this day.

It's not as simple as calling and giving the hospital my updated information. I am getting separate bills from pathologists, radiologists, physicians, and anyone who interpreted anything having to do with my visit. All because someone couldn't find the time to update my information.

I understand that mistakes happen but they seem to happen an awful lot in the medical and insurance fields. This is not the first time I have had to deal with something like this. The system is broken and it needs to be fixed. And socialized medicine is NOT the answer, I won't even get started on that mess.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hard

When my health declines, I get quiet. I draw inward and keep to myself. I find it hard to write when life gets really tough, even just writing to myself. I have no idea why I do this.

My health is pretty bad right now. I don't think it has ever been this bad before. I have not been well since the start of the year. A few weeks ago I lost my appetite. I thought it was just due to the cold I had but I haven't gotten it back since. When I do eat anymore than 2 bites of anything I get an uncomfortably full feeling, pain and sometimes heartburn and indigestion so bad that I can't sleep. I have dropped 10 pounds since the year started.

When my appetite had been gone for a week, I grew concerned and went to my GI doctor. She says my stomach isn't emptying fast enough and has ordered tests to find out why. Meanwhile, she can not treat any of it until the tests are performed. My last test is at the end of next week.

Needless to say I am becoming worried that something horrible is wrong.

I have faced other health issues which are currently still a mystery. My GI doctor might be able to close the book on my IBD saga that has been going on for 2 1/2 years now. That is good news to me. I face a connective tissue, autoimmune disease but the type is still unknown due to lack of enough symptoms to identify which. I have so far refused long term treatment (with my doctor's blessing) because I am trying to get pregnant and I have weird ideas about not taking any drugs during pregnancy. But I know I won't be able to refuse for too much longer. My joints hurt more and more and I face permanent damage if I continue to refuse treatment.

I am ready for them to find out what is plaguing me so they can treat it and I can have my life back. I long for some normalcy. I want to be able to enjoy my life again instead of constantly being in pain.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Knocked Down

Miserable, I feel absolutely miserable.  I have no idea how something as simple as a cold, and not even a full blown out cold could knock me down so solidly.  It started out like they always do, sore throat and aches, but never progressed to the coughing, sneezing and stuffiness.  It has been the strangest cold I have ever had though.  I haven't had any energy for over a week, I have zero appetite, (I am forcing food down at this point) and I am constantly feeling sick to my stomach.  On top of everything I woke up Friday morning with my left eye glued shut.  Great!!  I haven't been around anyone else in a week, haven't had pink eye since I was a child, how could this be happening now? 

I am grateful that my loving, caring husband is so patient in dealing with my black moods and whining.  He has been cooking dinners, grocery shopping, cleaning, and doing everything he can to make me more comfortable.  And he hasn't even complained once.  He is a blessing beyond words.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tis the Season...to be Busy

The last 2 weeks have been a whirlwind of family and activity and never being home. There was:
  • A Christmas concert to participate in.
  • A cookie bake with just the girls.
  • My nephew's birthday party. (since his birthday is 12/24 he usually gets passed over for parties.)
  • Running around town trying to find a Wii Fit for Brandon, having to settle for plan B, then finding out that's what he got for me and he found it the Monday before Christmas.
  • Christmas eve at my grandma's house.
  • Christmas eve service to participate in across town.
  • Christmas morning at my parent's house for breakfast.
  • Stopping by my MIL's house for half an hour because she didn't want to celebrate Christmas unless all her children were together.
  • Christmas afternoon at my aunt and uncle's house all the way back and then even further across town.
  • My parent's house for dinner to see my younger brother and his family who came in town after Christmas.
  • A going away dinner with my older brother and family before they drove back to Arizona.
  • Dinner at my aunt and uncle's house with younger brother and family.
  • Dinner at my parent's house before younger brother and family left.
And now I have been forced to slow down because of some sort of winter crud that has left me feeling achy and tired but hasn't really materialized into a cold. I'm not really sick enough to lay in bed all day, but feel bad enough to not want to do anything.

Meanwhile we have a wedding to go to this weekend, a wedding in LA on January 31 that we still need to book a flight, hotel room, and car rental for, and a wedding on Valentine's day in Lubbock that we need to book a hotel room and rental car for.

I'm telling you, it never ends.