Transplant news… the final decision…

So much has been happening with my family lately and I really haven’t had the time to write or pay much attention to my blog, or my LIFE for that matter.  I’ve also had some pretty serious decisions about my own health that I’ve had to come to terms with.  I’ve talked, pretty much, about my need for a complete intestine transplant and the expiration date that the good doctors have labeled me with.  Well…  on my birthday a few days ago, a FINAL decision was made.

For those of you who don’t know what’s going on, I’ll try to explain briefly.  I have a rare bleeding ulcer disease.  There’s no name for it because there’s nobody known living with this exact condition.  Basically, I have ulcers that eat through my intestine and stomach tissue that causes excessive bleeding.  The best way I can explain it is to tell you that it’s similar to a cancer but it doesn’t spread beyond my digestive tissue.  Although there are no tumors.  Just disease.  I’ve had more surgeries than I can remember the number.  They’ve had to take out my entire stomach to stop the bleeding and they’ve had to reroute my entire digestive system.  If you saw a picture of what I look like on the inside, you wouldn’t recognize it as a human digestive system.  I’ll bet you didn’t know you can live without a stomach, did you?  I didn’t.

I’ve gone through years of hospitalization, coma, death (my surgeon has literally brought me back to life on more that one occasion), blood transfusions (again, too many to count).  The last major event occurred last July.  I was within weeks of being able to consider myself no longer “terminal”.  They gave me the label “terminal” because every time they do surgery to get rid of the ulcers, more ulcers would grow at the incision site.  It was like my body was eating itself and NOBODY, NO specialist could figure out a way to stop this from happening.  Naturally, when your body eats itself, it is NOT compatible with life. They told me that if I could live a year without hospitalization, blood transfusions or surgery, they would lift the term “terminal” as they would have reason to believe that my body was in the process of healing itself (as human bodies CAN do).  Well, last summer, if I could have made it to August, I would have been considered in good enough health, or recovering.  I didn’t make it to August.

In July, while home alone, I passed out in the bathroom.  The weird thing is that I don’t have warning, or much warning.  I just felt like I was having trouble breathing and I passed out with dizziness.  I know that this seems like warning enough for most people but when you’re so used to being sick all the time, you just begin to feel like these little signs are “normal”.  I’ve passed out before and have received concussions from hitting my head on sharp objects.  THIS time, I didn’t get a concussion but I was able to wake up and crawl to the phone to call 911.

By the time I arrived at the hospital, I needed over 8 units of blood to stabilize me.  I’d passed out due to loss of blood.  I was immediately placed in intensive care where they proceeded to call all my family and tell them that this was “the end”.  Nobody felt I’d ever recover because my organs had begun shutting down.  I don’t remember much of my stay in the hospital but my family sure does and they STILL don’t like talking about it and won’t let me know exactly what happened.

However, I DID recover.  I attribute this to God and SO MUCH PRAYER.  Prayer vigils were held by family and people I don’t even know.  Nobody expected me to leave the hospital alive.  I’d lost so much weight and could barely walk.  My muscles had begun to atrophy.  The important thing is that I DID walk out of the hospital.  VERY slowly.  Here’s a picture of me taken 1 week after I was released.

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I don’t like looking back on these pictures because I look so bad.  I was too weak to walk on my own and I had to hold on to a wheel chair just to hold me up.  Most of the time, my husband had to push me in a wheel chair so that I could go places and pretend to be normal.  You can see here that I’m “hunched over” because of the intense pain and on the right hand side of my chest, you can see the port o cath.  I’d lost so much weight that it looks like a bone sticking out of my chest.  This is where they administer medications and where they give me blood transfusions because I have no healthy veins anymore to place an IV.

Throughout the course of the year, I kept losing weight and eventually got to the point where no fluids would even stay down.  It became apparent that I wasn’t going to live.  I was told that I was in the process of starving to death.  That’s when they considered a complete transplant.

I wanted a feeding tube but I still wanted to be able to eat because I LOVE food.  Even during all this I couldn’t let go of my love affair with food.  Alas, they’re not going to give me a feeding tube because it would kill me.  My tissues are brittle and where they’re NOT brittle, the tissues are like gum and pull apart.  I’ve perferated (intestines ruptured and infection spread throughout my body… once again causing me to literally temporarily die) before and they feel like I would again if they even do a simple feeding tube.  My doctors have been in conference with the transplant doctors since January.

Here’s a picture of me after I began to actually GAIN weight.  I was around 110 pounds here (WAY too thin for a woman who’s 5’7).  By the way, I’m about 15 pounds lighter in this picture than I was in the picture with the wheel chair.  Ironically, I’m contemplating how much food I can scarf down.  This was just February.

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So… back to now.  The decision is that I’m NOT a good candidate for a transplant.  The reason is that even if I could live through this major surgery, I’d have to fear rejection.  They’d only be able to do this one time and if I rejected the organs, as happens frequently, I would almost definitely not live through another one to replace the donor organs I rejected.  Remember, my tissues aren’t healthy and there’s nothing good to connect my new organs to.  The only solution now is that if I continue to lose weight, they’ll hospitalize me for a week or maybe even two weeks so that I can receive TPN (nutrition) through my port.  That’s the only thing they can do.

This doesn’t sound like good news, does it?  Well, I know it sounds bleak but I’m relieved they won’t do the transplant.  That just felt like death to me.  Besides that, I’ve gained 10 pounds and am now up to 120 pounds on my own!  The doctors are thrilled that my body, once again, seems to be repairing itself!  God is good to me and miracles DO happen.  I am a walking, living, breathing miracle even by modern medicine’s point of view.  It’s a miracle in itself when a doctor of Western medicine will actually say to me that I am a “medical miracle”!

I am blessed!  I asked the doctors to do what they can to give me another 4 years so that I can finish raising my daughter.  The doctors CAN’T give me 4 years but God CAN and today, I am blessed!  I told the doctor he can expect me to outlive Him.  He says he think I can do it 🙂

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Drama, Drama, Drama and the Zoo!

A few of you have noticed that I’ve been gone for a little while and have asked me what happened.  One of my blog buddies (Shaun) even thought my laptop must be broken! lol  I guess that’s a fair worry because I’m usually around every day.  It’s nice to be missed!

The reality is that my laptop is just fine.  My family, however is NOT fine.  Dad was in the hospital last week with a heart attack and the day after he was released, his wife, my step mother of 33 years was admitted with pneumonia.  During her stay, many tests were run and we were told that they believe she has pancreatic cancer.  They’re also checking into her kidney’s and liver.  I guess maybe they think it’s spread.  I don’t know.  I have NO idea what Dad will do if anything ever happens to her.  He completely depends on her for his complete existence.  We’re all VERY worried so prayer, or happy thoughts PLEASE and thank you.

Once my stepmother was released from the hospital, my brother, who is 4 years younger than me had a heart attack!  We’re falling apart!  Geeze.  The scary thing is that his wife is out of town on business and he’s home alone with the babies.  Hubby and I rushed to go get the babies and we’ve been busy, busy BUSY taking care of my precious little nieces.  The GOOD news is that my brother will be fine and that his health can be controlled with medication.  The bad news is that his wife is still not home.  I think we’ll be getting 3 of the girls again this weekend.

Soooo… to make good out of a very stressful and bad situation, we decided to have some fun with the kiddos.  Sunday was a PERFECT day for the St. Louis Zoo!  You guys HAVE to check our zoo out if you’re ever in my neck of the woods.  It’s pretty awesome and it’s totally free!  That’s the best part, right?  lol

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After driving for an hour, in search of a parking space, we’re on our way to see the lions, tigers and bears!  lol

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4 year old niece trying to decide if she should give the seal a kiss like I told her to.  She’s not much of a cooperator!  lol

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Even my oldest daughter came!  Here they are playing in the bamboo jungle 🙂

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Teenage Munchkin and her bff at one of the HUGE aquariums.  This one is called “The River’s Edge”.

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Esme’ wanted to see the “Elf-an-nents” first.  So by ALL means, we’re going to see the elephants 🙂  The only thing was that we saw more elephant poop than we saw elephants.  They all seemed to be hiding!  I think his name is Raj.

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Here’s me and my precious little Ireland.  She was SO tired but didn’t make a peep.  What a terrific baby girl.

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Esme’ didn’t want to miss out on the family love!  lol  Nothing like a big ole group hug!

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The lion sleeps tonight!  lol  ALL the animals were lazy!

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The zebras weren’t very exciting either 😦

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And the giraffes were even trying to hide.

Thanks to the hubby for putting up with an SUV load of loud little kids, teenagers and hormonal women!  lol  Whew.  I’d hate to be HIM some days… but he performs well under stress and painted a smile on his face all day 🙂

Proof of Heaven (A Neurosurgeon’s Journey Into the Afterlife)… A Book Review

Proof of Heaven a Neurosurgeon’s Journey Into the Afterlife

By Eben Alexander

Simon & Schuster Paperbacks

Description from the back cover:

“Thousand’s of people have had near- death experiences, but scientists have argued that they are impossible.  Dr. Eben Alexander was one of those scientists.  A highly trained neurosurgeon, Alexander knew that  NDEs  feel real, but are simply fantasies produced by brains under extreme stress.

Then Dr. ALexander’s own brain was attacked by a rare illness.  The part of the brain that controls thought and emotion – and in essence makes us human – shut down completely.  For seven days he lay in a coma.  Then, as his doctors considered stopping treatment, Alexander’s eyes popped opened.  He had come back.

Alexander’s recovery is a medical miracle.  But the real miracle of his story lies elsewhere.  While his body lay in a coma, Alexander journeyed beyond this world and encountered an angelic being who guided him into the deepest realms of super physical existence.  There he met, and spoke with, the Divine source of the universe itself.

Alexander’s story is not a fantasy.  Before he underwent his journey, he could not reconcile his knowledge of neuroscience with any belief in heaven, God, or the soul.  Today, Alexander is a doctor who believes that true health can be achieved only when we realize that God and the soul are real and that death is not the end of personal existence but only a transition.

This story would be remarkable no matter who it happened to.  That it happened to Dr. Alexander makes it revolutionary.  No scientist or person of faith will be able to ignore it.  Reading it will change your life.”

I really have no words to tell you how I felt about this book.  I can try though.  I loved it.  Even with all it’s medical references and scientific terms.  I’ve always believed in an afterlife though.  I didn’t need to be convinced.

Some of the time this neurosurgeon spent in “heaven” and some of what he was able to describe, I can picture perfectly.  Why?  I’ve had dreams for as long as I can remember living, of places like he’s described.  From the time I was VERY small (at least 5 years old), I’ve believed that I came from a place like this.  Like maybe it could have been a holding place until I was born?  I know, sounds crazy.  But they were reoccurring dreams and the theme always starred ME in this beautiful, comfortable place, for lack of better words.  When I began reading Eben Alexander’s story and learned of his description of that place… I got goose bumps.  I knew it was THAT place.  Besides the fact that I’ve actually had to be brought back to life at least 3 times on the operating table in more recent years.  Although, to be honest, I don’t have a memory of traveling to the afterlife during the times they’ve worked hard to bring me back.

I think, if you have any questions about an afterlife, you should read this.  It’s not all Christiany, just the opposite.  This is written from a clinical perspective.  It struck me that God is “unconditional love” and that we are always striving to get back to that place.  It also struck me that there are several other universes but God loves human beings the most.  The whole “freedom of choice” thing came into play several times.

If you are stuck on your Christian views, I wouldn’t suggest reading this.  I am a Christian but this didn’t offend me at all.  I think I may have more of an open mind than most, understanding that God appears in MANY forms and that He’a not limited to what our brain can comprehend.  He’s also not limited our human perception of Him.

I’ve read many books on the afterlife and NDEs.  This is right up there with the best.  I think I liked it so much because of his story.  Obviously he was a neurosurgeon but what impressed me was that he was the ONLY person alive to have lived through such a lengthy coma where his brain completely shut down.  Pretty much brain dead.  In the book, he explains why none of the scientific explanations of an NDE can apply to what happened to him.  It’s scientific but I think it needs to be as it is geared toward the unbeliever or the people in his scientific community.

BTW… I read this in 2 days.  I only have time to read while I’m in the bath tub so this is amazing! lol  It’s a quick read for sure and if I was able to read anywhere BUT the bathtub, I could have finished it in a couple of hours.

Congratulations to me! I won the Liebster Award!

I’ll have to admit that this award is intimidating to me ONLY because they take so much time to ask and answer specific questions.  However, someone I admire VERY much, Comely Miss, nominated me and I love her AND am honored that she thought of me…  so here I am again!  Feel free to skip this post because I’m positive you’re all sick and tired of hearing all the fun facts about myself.  lol   I won’t know the difference and I know you all really love me, right?  lol

Here are the rules:

1. The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
2. Each blogger should post 11 random facts about themselves.
3. Each blogger should answer the 11 questions given to you.
4. Choose 11 new bloggers to pass the award on to and link them in your post.
5. Create 11 new questions for the chosen bloggers.
6. Go back to their page and tell them about the award.
7. No tag backs.

Now the 11 facts about me.

1.  It’s getting extremely hard for me to come up with anything new and this is hurting my brain.

2.  My first “love” was named Pete and when he broke up with me, I started dating someone who looked a lot like him and his name was ALSO Pete.  Pete #2 became the father of my oldest daughter.

3.  I am an EXTREMELY strong woman who’s personality sometimes is intimidating to others, or so I’ve been told.

4.  I’m not very proud of this but I like to smoke.  I don’t ever smoke in the house or enclosed enviroments and I respect others right NOT to breath my smoke.  I try to hide when I’m outside in a public place.

5.  I appreciate art but am not good at it.  I can spend ALL day at the art museum.

6.  One of my favorite places to go EVER is the Smoky Mountains.  I could live in a mountain cabin, away from everyone.

7.  I’m a VERY social antisocial person

8.  I’ve been very blessed to have my husband’s family in Texas.  They’ve shown me unconditional love and are teaching me to show unconditional love.  Sounds like a no brainer for most people but I wasn’t raised with anything CLOSE to unconditional love and sometimes I put too much pressure to be perfect on my own children.  Here’s some pics of my family in Texas 🙂  They ALWAYS make me smile!

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This is Bobby, our cousin.  He doesn’t know it but he’s one of my hero’s.  He’s just a regular man who is probably one of the most funny people I know.  He’s studying to be a preacher but you’d never know it.  He’s so non judging.

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Bobby’s wife and our cousin Netta.  She’s always annoyed with me for snapping pictures.  lol  Another very strong woman and so accepting.  She’s a role model for me 🙂

ImageMy sister in law Lisa and her husband Stace 🙂  Love them both so much!  Lisa is the stereotypical Southern Belle and exudes LOVE.  She’s just like her mama.  When you’re around these people, you feel like you’ve always been in their family.

9.  In July of last year, I came very near to death.  After I was released from the hospital I had a dream that God told me I was supposed to go to a hot spring.  I woke up and told my husband that I needed to go to Hot Springs Arkansas so he packed us up on THAT day and we went.  I spent a day at the hot spring bath house and drank the mineral water.  I was barely able to walk when we arrived in Hot Springs.  By the time we left, I was SO much better.  I believe I was really supposed to be there and drink the waters.  Crazy I know but it worked.

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Here’s the view from our hotel room in Hot Springs.

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The bath house we spent the day in.  Awesome place.

10.  The only time of year that my mom’s enormous family gets together is at Easter.  She came from a family of 10 kids and between them and all of us grandkids and now great grandchildren…  there has to be 100 of us who gather at my cousins house.  I look very forward to seeing all my aunts and cousins every year.  Oh and EVERYONE is a fantastic cook so the food is something EVERYONE would be jealous of 🙂

11.  I’m having issues with “aging gracefully”.  I mean I believe in aging gracefully BUT, in all honesty, if I had the money to have a complete makeover (plastic surgery)… I probably would.  I know, vain.  Honest though 🙂

Here are the questions that Comely Miss wants me to answer:

♣ What caused you to start blogging? (I like this question, so I’m keeping it!)

Okay, I started blogging for a site called Vox and I LOVED the sense of community!  Sadly, Vox went away but I missed it and couldn;t get the same feeling on FB (although I love my fb friends).  I finally found WP a few moths ago and LOVE it 🙂

♣ What career did you think you’d pursue while you were growing up?

I thought I would be a psychologist.  I also PROMISED myself that I would open up an abused women and children’s shelter.  I have done work for some of these but I’m going to keep my promise, I think.  One day, before I die I WILL open up one of these homes.  I think it’s my destiny.

♣ Who do you think has had the biggest influence on your life?

Sadly, I think my mother has had the biggest influence on my life.  I was CONSTANTLY trying to receive her love and her pride.  I always, without fail, fell short of making her proud.  I viewed her as perfect and knew that if I could EVER do 1 thing that would make her REALLY love me and be proud of me, I would have succeeded.  That never happened.  I feel like I’ve wasted WAY too much time not loving myself because I always felt like I didn’t deserve to be loved.  If your mother can’t love you, there MUST be something wrong, right?  The problem lies with her, not me.  However, I feel pretty good about myself that I finally figured that out.
♣ What kind of games do you like to play? (I don’t care if it’s video, board, or mind games, I’m just curious. ;) )

I LOVE playing LIFE with my daughter and grew up playing board games.  Sometimes, I secretly play WOW (shhhhh… don’t tell), I loved Diablo and still love playing UNO, Skipbo, Yatzee and Dominos.  I pretty much just like playing games.  Oh and there Apples to Apples and Pictionary 🙂

♣ What is your favorite movie?

This is hard.  Sound of Music?  Breakfast at Tiffany’s?  Gone with the WiInd?  Beasts of the Southern Wild?  Wizard of OZ?  It’s a Wonderful Life?  I just have so many 🙂

♣ How did you meet your husband/wife/significant other?

I actually met Ben online.  American Singles.  I didn;t want to meet another man in a bar!  lol  Although I’m not entirely sure online dating is any better, from what I’m seeing on TV these days.  lol  It worked out for us though!  I met him when online dating was kind of new in the early 2000’s.  I don;t think the weirdo’s perfected the games they played with people.  I wonder, now, if I were single, what the best way to meet people is?  It’s ALL scary!

♣ Have you ever had any “unusual” pets? (This may be unusual based on species or attitude.)

The most unusual pet I ever had was a rabbit.  lol  In the 80’s and 80’s though I used to show and breed Alaskan Malamutes.  I also used to sled with them… like they do in the Iditerod?  Pretty cool.  I miss that!

♣ How do you unwind at the end of the day?

I blog when everyone is sleeping in my house.  lol  OR I’ll play a computer game or read or play the piano OR go on Facebook.

♣ What is your biggest pet peeve?

Oh GAWD!!!  I have so many I don’t know where to start.  I think the thing I bitch the most about is hair in the bath tub.  I don’t like dirty bathrooms and am pretty anal about keeping it clean.  When I go into the bath tub I don;t want to see little hairs stuck to my bath tub.  It will NEVER change, meaning it doesn;t matter how much I crab about it.  My husband is the culprit and I swear I’m going to start posting pictures of these little hairs.  GROSS.

♣ What item is to your left?

HAHA!  Good one!  My coffee cup on a coaster!  Never without coffee 🙂

♣ How do you think of material to blog about?

Whatever pops in my head.  I haven;t really had a problem running out of material.  If there’s nothing in my head, then I read all of YOUR blogs 🙂

Okay now I’m going to name some people to pass this award on to.  I’ll get as close to 11 as possible but I think people are getting tired of me nominating them.  lol  It’s a lot of work but I just want you guys to know that even if you don;t want to do awards (and I don’t blame you)… at least you know I believe you’re deserving of the award!

1.  http://thelazysuzan.com/

2.  http://kellyvision.wordpress.com/

3.  http://fleurdeselsf.com/

4.  http://theartstudiobymarkmoore.wordpress.com/

5.  http://transcendingbordersblog.wordpress.com/

6.  http://ssbits.wordpress.com/

7.  http://otrazhenie.wordpress.com/

8.  http://prayingforoneday.wordpress.com/  (haha  gotcha back FINALLY!)

9.  http://mamacristinasworld.wordpress.com/

10.  http://wordsforworms.com/

11.  http://canoecommunications.wordpress.com/

Here are my questions to all of you!  Now THIS will be fun!  And I hope that at least ONE of you will answer 🙂

1.  What’s your favorite thing to watch on TV?

2.  Have you ever experienced the death of someone close?

3.  Do you color Easter Eggs?

4.  How is the biggest influence in your life and why?

5.  What do you enjoy reading in a blog the most?

6.  What book are you reading now or what was the last book you read?

7.  How many people were in your family when you were growing up?

8.  What was the biggest disappointment so far in your life?

9.  What has been your biggest achievement in your life so far?

10.  Where do you go to find peace?  For example, a river, the woods, a room in your house?

11.  What do you want to be when you grow up?

*Deep breath*  It’s over.  lmbo  Remember, I don’t want any of you to feel obligated.  If you have time and feel like sharing, please do 🙂  If you don’t, that’s cool too.

Happy Heart Birthday Grandaddy!

Happy Heart Birthday Grandaddy!.

Many of you already know that I’m being considered as a possible recipient for a complete intestine transplant.  Please read about someone who received the gift of life in the form of a young girls heart… and everything he’s been doing to pay back and honor that gift!  SO inspiring!

Here’s your memo… (my gift to you)

Inspired by an amazing woman, Susan Spencer-Wendel and the story I saw on the Today’s Show this morning, I now have a plan!  You’d think I would have broken down and cried the way I’m sure most people do when they see Susan’s story, and I DID, a little.  After the tears, I came up with the start of a plan that I’ll share with you later.

In case you don’t want to read the links, Susan is LIVING with ALS.  She’s 44, I believe.  She is a mother and a wife but she also had a busy career as an award winning court reporter. She was kind enough to share her story in a book, Until I Say Goodbye.  In a nutshell, Susan designated a year to providing amazing experiences for her entire family (extended family included) and her friends.  She squeezed a lifetime of living into such a short time just so that her family can always have these fantastic memories to draw from, even when she leaves them.  Oh and she topped it off with writing to each and every one of them, love letters and a recording of her voice singing the same lullaby that she always sang to her children.  And of COURSE she wrote her memoirs and shared them in her book.  Susan is still living and honestly, she may live for a while as ALS can linger for so long.  I have a friend who’s been battling this demonic disease for YEARS now, and it’s SO hard for him to be trapped inside his body.

I know many of you aren’t battling a debilitating disease that will claim your life one day soon.  The reality is though, that NONE of us are guaranteed tomorrow.  I AM, as you know by now, living with a disease that should have claimed my life a few years ago.  I’m faced with knowing that every year that goes by, could be my last year.  I’ve talked before about the expiration date that they keep trying to place on me and how I won’t cooperate.  What I’m trying to say is that I’ve been where Susan is now.  I know that when my moment is finally up, it will come quickly, as I never really have a lot of warning when I start to bleed.  I’ve been lucky so far and have been able to make it to the phone to call 911 after waking up on the floor, not knowing how I got there.  Internal bleeding is just that way.  It can happen SO quickly.  In July, it was almost too late and I needed 8 units of blood that night and several more units the next day.  Most people don;t recover after losing so much blood that quickly.  The thing I remember most though is how I really didn’t have a lot of warning and how I thought everything was okay.  Just like any other day.  Again, not a lot of warning.

I’ve already lived many memories with my family.  I’ve been on amazing journeys (on a smaller scale than Susan) in order to share with them some good times.  I’ll share with you in a second or two.  Right now, I just want you to know that ALL of you, too, should live this way.  You know the cliche’ and the song by Tim McGraw, “Live Like You Were Dying”, right?  A very good friend of mine, Brigitte took me on a little trip one day and on the way home, she popped in this CD and made me listen to the words.  She couldn’t have known that this memory would change my life and it provided the “beginning” that I needed.  I know you might think this is morbid but believe me, being given a death sentence is a gift.  Being faced with a terminal condition makes you know that time is going to end and you need to pack a lifetime of living into a few moments.  EVERYONE should be so lucky.  Sadly, most of you won’t know this way of life.  Most people don’t ever get the memo that their days are few.  Look folks, ALL of us are going to die.  There’s your memo!  Now you have NO excuse because I just handed you all the same memo I received.  Now, what are YOU going to do with it?

Take a second to look at that baby girl beside you.  What if she was not going to see her mother (you) after today?  Now what are you going to do to make sure she remembers you?  Look at your little boy.  He might not see you tomorrow either and you’re busy right now, cleaning.  Maybe you’re on the phone and maybe you just want to be left alone BUT your little man wants you to take him outside to ride his bicycle with training wheels.  Are you going to do it?  Or are you going to STAY too busy to pay attention to him?  It’s your choice but remember, today is YOUR last day.  How about that husband of yours who is always trying to get your attention.  Are you going to have another headache tonight or do you think you can try and remember how it was when you first met and you were giddy with love and emotion?  You know, BEFORE the kids kept coming and so did the bills and the clutter. Look, I know what it’s like and I’ve got to be honest and tell you that I STILL take many things for granted.  It’s EXTREMELY hard to live in the moment and to “Live Like You Were Dying”.  It takes effort and we’re lazy, most of us.  DON’T let life get in the way.  You can do this, I promise!

Just TRY and do SOMETHING a little different.  I really feel like one of the jobs I’ve been given (because I feel ALL of us are born to do a job) with the life I lead, is to show people that life is precious and a gift.  I want to show YOU too.  You don’t really NEED an official memo but if you WANT a reminder of how precious and short life is, I’m here to give it to you.

Remember… today COULD be your last day.  Love, have fun, pray and most of all count ALL your blessings.  Because even that little kid with the snotty nose who’s coughing germs on you is one of your blessings.  That cluttered and dusty house with the sink full of dishes?  Yeah, that’s a blessing too.  MANY people are homeless.  The pain you feel when you get out of bed in the morning?  At least you know you’re alive and can still move those limbs of yours.  Many people, like Susan and my friend Kent, are trapped in their bodies and THEY still trudge on and find meaning in their journey.  The bank is threatening to foreclose?  You still have a little time to pray and figure out what you’re going to do.  NOTHING is THAT desperate.  Because after all, you still have a moment.

Much love to ALL of you and may God bless each and every one of you!

Battling my “Old Veteran”, my dad…

Good Morning!  How was your weekend?  Hopefully bright and sunshiny!  I had a strange weekend with Dad.  He made it through surgery and they were able to stretch his “severely” constricted aortic valve.  It took two tries but once they got it, they REALLY got it.  From what the heart surgeons explained, the aortic valve, once constricted usually goes from severely bad to a smaller degree of severely bad (after they stretch it).  Dad’s went from severely bad to just bad.  Doesn’t sound promising but according to the surgeons, it is.  The outcome was far better than they’d hoped for.  This should hold him for anywhere from 2 weeks to a year.  They’re hoping for it to hold until May, when they have his valve replacement scheduled.

Dad won’t follow orders.  They have him on a heart healthy diet and he laughs and calls it “dog food”.  He screams at them saying they’re trying to poison him with their salad and refried beans.  He’s used to steaks and potatoes with all the salt his taste buds can handle. He’s also ordered to take a specific type of medicine which will keep the blood flowing through his valve and new stents.  He won’t take that either because it makes him feel like he can’t breathe.  They explained to him that he runs the risk of stroke or a heart attack and death and he tells them that if they’re so worried about it, THEY should take the medicine.  As crazy as it sounds, he was a mess the day he left and it was as if they had him so sedated, he couldn’t even walk on is own.  I had to wheel his 350 lb body out of that hospital and that’s just not Dad.  He’s lazy, yes, but he can usually walk.  I told them that I think he’s right about the medicine because every time they’ve put him on something like this, he’s impossible.  Calling me all hours of the night saying he can’t breathe and is in and out of sleep all through the day.  They’re not much interested in what I have to say though.

Soooo, I sat Dad down and told him that it’s HIS choice whether or not he takes this medicine.  He just needed to reassure me that he understood what may very well happen to him.  We talked about what he wanted us to do in the case of his having a stroke.  NOT a conversation I wanted to have with my Dad.  However, I believe that quality of life is FAR more important than quantity of life.  If he’s going to have to live life in a fog and not really coherent, that’s NOT living.  I agree that he shouldn’t take the medicine if he feels his quality of life is being jeopardized.  I had the pharmacist tell me about the side affects and she said that studies have shown that 30% of all patients who take this medicine complain of not breathing and being in a drugged stupor.

Aside from the fights about the food and the medicine, Dad cursed the nurses all night long.  I had to slap his hand and tell him (with clinched teeth) to “Knock his mouth off” or I’d leave and let the nurses abuse him.  He was tied down anyway.  lol  You’d have to know him to know how ironic this is.  He’s someone used to ALWAYS being in control and he’s not a respecter of women and has always been racist.  No, I’m not proud of this and it’s shaming. But I laugh because, now, he has a nurse from Nigeria who barely speaks English.  I DID end up leaving him alone all night with only his Nigerian nurse to take care of him.  I hope she let him have it!  She was so kind though, I’m sure she took care of him professionally.  I don’t know how these nurses do it.  I really don’t.  They tell me he cursed her all night (of COURSE using racial slurs) and shouted like a mad man because she wouldn’t untie him like he wanted to be.  They HAD to tie him down though because of the recent incision in his artery.  If this artery starts bleeding, he could have bled to death.  It seemed like I spent the better part of the weekend apologizing for his behavior.  The Nigerian nurse was kind to everybody but seemed to give me the cold shoulder.  She asked me if anyone ever told me how much I looked like my dad.  I wonder if this is why she didn’t warm up to me?  Or maybe I’m paranoid because I’ve heard this all my life from my mom.  Mom’s told me more times than I can count, how she can’t look at me because I remind her of my father.  I’d love to believe that I’m not guilty by association but even nurses are human and she’d probably had ENOUGH of my dad but couldn’t do anything about it because she’s a professional.

Ah well, he’s home now and all the praying we did worked for now.  Despite his meanness, sometimes, he’s a likable guy.  Everyone who knows him would LOVE to hate him because he’s rude and he’s mean and he’s SO SO SO self centered.  BUT, then the generous, funny and loving side comes shining through right when we think we’re done with him.  I know I’ll never really be done with him.  Like I said, he’s my dad and he’s the only parent that’s ever shown me love.  While he was at the WORST part of his stay, in the most pain, he grabbed me by the hand and pulled me down to hear what he had to say.  He could barely whisper but I heard him say “I sure do appreciate you Michelle.  You’re my baby girl and you’ve always been my favorite”.  How could I not love that big lug of a man?  Ashamed of his behavior, yes.  The good news is that when he’s not in pain and incapacitated, he’s not AS rude to people.

The bright side of the weekend was seeing so many people come into my dad’s room to hug him or shake his hand and thank him for his service to our country.  The surgery was performed at the Harry Truman Veteran’s Hospital in Columbia MO.  Nothing about it screams “state of the art” and at first I was afraid for him to be there.  I changed my mind once I saw how much respect and love all the workers had for these old veterans.  I left with a sense of pride and thankfulness for this man, my dad, who gave his time to protect our great country.  BTW…  he learned to be so mean while he was serving in the navy on that aircraft carrier.  I guess you had to fight or die, from the way he tells the story.  Thank all of you for saying a prayer for my dad.  Remember to thank a veteran if you appreciate your freedom 😉  They never get tired of hearing that they’re appreciated and Lord knows they deserve our acknowledgement.  God Bless!