March 31, 2014

37. It's my birthday.

I don't like when people hear it's my birthday and say, "How old are you? 29 again."
Um, no thank you.
I'm proud to be 37 and I wouldn't repeat 29 if I could.
I think 37 sounds restful and wise and boring.
I think I'm going to like 37.

I'm emotional this year.
I'm REALLY glad I'm seeing 37.
36 was a tough one.
I still imagine my little ones celebrating today without me here, and it rips my heart out.

So, I feel privileged to blow out candles and I get teary when people sing to me.
I think birthdays are miraculous and I'll never, ever complain about getting old.  Because old is what I want to be when I grow up.

I have gobs of doctor appointments today.  I'm hoping to turn a year older and loose a drain and a catheter.  But, if not-- I'd rather be 37 with a catheter than eternally 36 without one.

I don't have anything profound to say.  
Looking around at my life, it is not quite what I imagined it would be at 37.

We still have too many student loans.
We drive a van.
Our furniture is very used.
Our kitchen table is too small for our family.
I still buy my clothes from Target clearance racks.
I'm old, but I feel 14.
I often look at my family and think- "Wow, we have a lot of kids."
My house is never as clean as I wish it was, my kids are never as well-mannered as I know they could be.

I have a patience with life that I always admired but never understood.
I am married to my absolute best friend in the world.
I'm completely impressed at the people my children are growing up to be.
I really like people.
I think I know God.  
I'm not easily worried or stressed.
I'm a hard worker.
I laugh every day.
I'm loved and I love many.
I really like my life.

At 37, I'm living my dream.
This is my happily ever after.
It is way better than I ever imagined it could be, and exponentially harder than I ever imagined it would be.

Today is a great day to be alive.
I wish for 37, 57, even 87.
I want to be old and grey.
Because, I really like this life.
I really like the people I get to share my life with.
Thank you for celebrating 37 with me.
It's going to be a good one!

Weekend wrap-up and a miracle.

How was your weekend?
I'm guessing it was as packed full as ours was.
My life still revolves around bodily fluids.
Good thing I have 10 maxi skirts from my last catheter experience.
I'm pretty good at camouflage.
Saturday we went shopping to pick out 7 spring chicks to surprise Anna for her birthday.  That night, we met a friend at Applebee's and enjoyed a girls night out- dinner followed by General Woman's Conference.
So fun to be inspired with these girls that I love.
This sweet lady got baptized after church on Sunday...
I love, love, love these cute missionaries!
(I think I look drugged out in all my recent pictures.)
With the help of friends Anna was officially surprised.  She is going to be the best chicken momma ever!
For at least a week, she can keep her chicks in her bedroom.  (Can you believe I'm ok with this?)
Todd and I ended up in the ER for a bit.
(Just long enough to catch the final seconds of the Kentucky-Michigan game.  This picture makes me laugh- I'm trying to decide if we should stay or go, Todd's distracted by the game.  Ha! Love him.)
I would not be surviving without the help of my in-laws.  So grateful for them.

My Sunday Miracle
Sunday afternoon, I was sitting in my recliner when I felt a sudden, acute, intense abdominal pain.  This pain was different than my normal healing pain and worse than labor pains.  It was extreme and debilitating.  I ripped off my stomach binder and started moving to find relief.  I could find no comfortable position, the pain was so intense I was nautious and light-headed.  I knew we needed to go to the hospital quickly.

Todd and his father gave me a blessing.  I was quietly shaking, moaning, and tears were streaming down my cheeks.  I couldn't help shaking my head NO as Todd blessed me with "patience".  No more patience.

I sat in the car while Todd ran in to grab my phone so we could call my doctor.  I was mad at my "patience" blessing and in extreme pain.  I cried outloud to God, one of those prayers that comes from the depth of your soul-- "Take this pain away!  Please Father, take this pain away."

That instant, my pain was gone. 
Completely.  I was afraid to move, or even to tell Todd when he returned to the car.  I kept whispering my prayer under my breath as I waited for my pain to return.  It didn't.  I almost didn't believe it myself.  

The extreme shift from agonizing pain to absolute physical peace still brings tears to my eyes as I ponder it.  It was miraculous- and perhaps too sacred to talk about on this blog.

As we drove to the Emergency Room I whispered to Todd that I think I had just experienced a miracle.  We cried together in the car.

We spoke with my doctors and doctors at the ER and I ended up coming home shortly after arriving.  My pain still has not returned.

I didn't tell my doctor about my prayer, but I'm choosing to tell you.  Because, this past year I have experienced many miracles.  Most have been the ability to endure or stay positive amidst crappy situations.  My health miracles have been long and painful.  I don't know why this time was different, but I'm so grateful.

I feel so humbled and grateful that The Lord allowed me this one instant, miraculous, undoubtable miracle.  My pain was severe, intense and unbearable.  I prayed.  The pain was taken from me and I was instantly healed.

My doctor thinks I may have passed a kidney stone or had a blood clot.  I do not know.  But, this I do know.

God is real.
He is good.
I knew this even when my prayers were not instantly answered and I know it still.
He hears and answers our prayers.
We are loved and we are never alone.
I believe in modern-day miracles.
Today I feel grateful and blessed.
Thank you for reading my blog and for being part of my story.
Life is good.
We are blessed.

March 27, 2014


My baby just got teeth.
Two teeth is one of my favorite stages ever!
How I adore this little guy.
(Not being able to hold him is somewhat of a funny torture game for a mother like me.)
He is in good hands.
Wow.  I really love being a mom.
Life is good.

March 26, 2014

grieving with friends.

Loving someone who is hurting is hard.
People don't know how to handle pain and suffering (especially in someone they love).
My suffering was hardest on my mother and my closest friends.
I noticed their coping mechanisms and watched as some pulled away and some got angry or over-critical of doctors and nurses.

Before I was sick, I never knew what to do for people with big problems.
I would analyze for hours and never end up doing anything because everything seemed so insignificant.
As I laid in bed, so many people cared in different ways.
I learned that it doesn't matter what you do, just doing something means much.
Visits, silly gifts, phone calls, flowers (I loved flowers), notes, caring for my family, rubbing my feet, blog comments, anything someone did with a heart full of love, touched my soul.
Honestly, I loved when friends trusted me enough to complain to me about their own life.  Ha!  I needed to remember that I wasn't the only person in the world who was struggling.

I could feel the love people had for me and that love, even as I suffered, was the balm to my broken heart.
Love kept me healing.
Love reminded me that suffering was temporary.
Love gave me strength and faith.

I have loved these videos the past week.

I love this quote "I wanted to be another instrument in her healing orchestra."

I believe pain and suffering is a beautiful, sanctifying part of life.
Didn't you love how that first video said grief was like joy?
What a beautiful concept.

I feel honored to have endured the trials I've endured this past year.
Difficult times are meant to teach the one enduring, and the ones who love them.
I have often felt it is easier to be the one enduring pain then it would be to have to watch.
My sweet, sweet husband has indeed been sanctified as he has watched me suffer.
Our souls have been sealed together.
His love has soothed my pain, even when there was no physical relief.

My favorite memory was the evening that we laid near each other, I was in my hospital bed, he was next to me in our regular bed.  I had nueropathy (however you spell it) in my leg so bad that there was no relief.  My legs were on fire.  I was in so much pain that I couldn't sleep.  My abdomen hurt, my kidney was extremely infected (though we didn't know it at the time).  I was tired and down.

Todd held my hand, wiped my brow, and sang sweet songs to me from the hymnbook.  As he sang, tears trickled down his cheeks.  I remembering falling asleep to his sweet tenor voice.  I woke in the night to see him sleeping, with his hymnbook on his chest.  The next day his voice was scratchy from singing so long.

We will all have a time in our life when we suffer, or watch someone we love suffer.  We will all say, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup.  Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done."
Suffering is a beautiful, refining part of life.
It is an honor to endure and behold.

If you or someone you love is in the midst of hard times.  
Take off your shoes and feel honored to share this holy ground with them.  

I love this account... [From the article, Five Scriptures That Will Help You Get Through Almost Anything, by John Bytheway]
"The scriptures contain many examples of righteous people who suffered: Abraham, Abinadi, Joseph of Egypt, Joseph Smith, and even Jesus Christ. The fact is, bad things happen to good people. Brother Truman G. Madsen once asked President Hugh B. Brown of the First Presidency (1883–1975) why the Lord would put Abraham through the experience of being asked to sacrifice his own son. Obviously God knew that Abraham would be willing to do anything God commanded, and if that was so, why did the Lord put him through such a test? President Brown answered, “Abraham needed to learn something about Abraham” (Joseph Smith the Prophet[1989], 93).
God already knows what we’re made of, but perhaps He wants us to learn what we’re made of. I think we would all agree that we learn more from our tough times than from our easy times. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. We don’t know the meaning of all things, but we know God loves His children! And because He loves us, He will never desert us."
Oh friends, I know that you are enduring much in this world.  I know that life can be dang hard sometimes.
A friend of mine shared a blog I wrote with the description that I had "gone to Hell and back this year."  I commented that I prefer to think I "went to Heaven and back."

Don't you love that quote in the first video- "Sometimes we need to be burned to learn what about us is indestructible."
I had no idea that I was so innately optimistic, until I began enduring this year.
I didn't know that humor was my anchoring coping mechanism.
I didn't know that my faith was a solid rock, that even if I wanted to doubt, I could not.
I didn't know how loved I was, until I felt the outpouring of love from family members I hadn't spoken to in years, friends, and strangers.
I didn't realize how easy it is for me to love people, until I had the opportunity to know so many people and have felt my soul love them deeply.
I didn't know I was brave and strong, until I had to be brave and strong.
I've learned so much this year.

The path to Heaven is uphill.
If you are climbing, you are headed in the right direction.
I have long loved this quote by Martin Luther-
"The kingdom of God is like a besieged city surrounded on all sides by death.  Each man (and woman) has a place on the wall to defend, and no one can stand where another stands, but nothing prevents us from calling encouragement to one another."

Let us continue to encourage each other.
Love heals all wounds- even the wounds that medicine can't reach.

I love you.  And, surprisingly, I love this life plan.
Today is a great day to be alive.
Thanks for reading this blog of mine.
You keep me alive and smiling.
Life, even as it hurts, is good.

March 25, 2014

A good nurse.

I can hardly describe to you my, or our, collective love for those who work at hospitals.  
It takes a village to heal and wow, my life has been abundantly blessed.

I recently watched a YouTube video where a friend who had shaved her head to support a friend with Breast Cancer described herself as "wanting to be another instrument in her healing orchestra."

As tragedies strike, doctors, nurses, CNA's, dietary, housekeeping, friends, and family members all become beautiful instruments of our healing orchestras.  This music heals us and creates us, in life and in death.  This is God's orchestra and I believe He is a divine composer.

I feel honored to have felt this power work in my life.
I love nurses.

Sure, I've experienced some doctors/nurses I haven't meshed with, not many.  We all have our days.  Even on our worst days, I have learned that  people help us to heal while anger and contention keep us hurting.  

Good nurses are competent or not to proud to get help!
The best nurses listen FIRST, ask great (non-repetitive) questions, and tell you what they've learned.  You don't have to be the best poke, just know who the best poke is.  

Nurses who truly desire to heal, are not trying to be right, they are helping you to find right.
Wise nurses know that patients must listen to their gut.  As captain collaborators, these nurses offer understanding and options.  I have often (almost hourly) questioned my nurses, but rarely (if ever) fought them.  A beautiful patient/nurse relationship feels like a team not a competition.

In memory, my small trauma ICU room was as close to a holy of holy, Zion place, as any temple has ever felt to me. Two nurses, doctors, round the clock family members, angels, and one very sick little body, worked together in harmony.  Heaven's veil was thin and my nurses were my sisters.
PS- Male nurses surprised me!  I thought they'd be more femine.  But, they're almost like nurse firemen. They are strong and gentle, methodical and kind.  They usually smell really good and have great hands.  (Why don't I have more pictures of my good male nurses?)  

Good nurses tidy up!
Nurses make a mess sometimes.  Go ahead, make a mess being extra sanitary for a blood draw, and then leave the room cleaner than you found it.  Yes!  You can throw away the used tissues or return the five hour old lunch tray.  
Good nurses straighten the counters and take an extra minute to clean adhesive marks or dried blood off a patient's arm.
Cleanliness and order aids healing.
Good nurses are real!
Talk to me while you work on me!  Connecting at both physical and emotional levels heals.  Repetitive, caring tasks leaves time for holy communion. Bond while you serve. 
Love and friendshipping are true healers.
Good nurses are detailed!
The best nurses act with confidence.  They get you a new gown, fresh water, move the chair, anticipate the shower.  It is fun to visit, but better to visit while they are doing things to make you feel better!
Gentle serving while calming and uplifting is almost magical in that one feels better without even knowing when or how the change took place.  

Remember-- the little, repetitive things are the hardest- dressing changes, blood pokes, etc.  Compassion with the little things really compensates for big life/death hard things. 
I had a compassionate IV Therapy nurse bring me two bottle of adhesion remover.  It was the kindest thing.  Surgeons would come check on my open belly wound daily and rip the bandages off, it was AWFUL.  I can't tell you how much it meant to me that an IV nurse cared enough to help.
There is great peace in a nurse who notices and acts on details- that peace of mind clears worry and makes room for healing.  You just trust you are in good hands and you feel better.
Good nurses are cheerful and hopeful!
You actually feel bright, hopeful nurses lifting your spirits.  Personally, I think laughter is as essential to healing as those dumb potassium pills.  Smile, tease, lighten the air!
Good nurses are funny-- laughter is healing!
Nurses heal bodies and souls.

Good nurses speak with optimistic, empathetic truth!
Please, be honest and careful with the things you say.  
Avoid qualitative statements like "This only hurts a little bit."  Especially if you have never experienced it yourself.  Describe, acknowledge and encourage.  

"It will take me about one minute to insert this catheter, I've done this many times, I am numbing you up as we speak.  It will hurt.  It is usually tolerated well.  I feel good about this.  Tell me when you're ready."

Instead of "this isn't that bad" try- "patients seem to tolerate this well."

Do NOT apologize or feel that you need to apologize for pain. (Well, unless you throw a bed pan at me or something.)  
My pain is a result of MY trial.  YOU are helping me to heal not hurting me.

We do not need pity, we need empathy, hope, and encouragement as we endure.

Watch your words, recognizing where the hard comes from.
"This must be so hard.  It is frustrating not knowing what is coming.  Chronic pain is awful.  I'm so sorry you're hurting.  Dang! I wish I had gotten that IV the first time.  I wish I could give you blood in pill form, but these veins are all we've got."  

See how that is different from "I'm sorry I hurt you?" 

Feeling empathy for a patient is different than feeling the need to apologize for something you have done.  You didn't make my veins small and hard to find.

Remember-- YOU are helping not hurting.  THANK YOU for taking my temperature and blood pressure 100 times a day.  You're not doing that because you're bored.  You're doing that to SAVE MY LIFE. 
To keep SANE patients must learn to dissociate pain with the idea that someone else is hurting us.

Panic comes as we fear another person hurting us-- gratitude comes as we remember nurses and doctors are helping us, even as they cause pain.

Most of the time pain is the path to healing.

When nurses apologize or act defensive of difficulty, delay or discomfort, then it is easy for us to blame you, be mad at you or be angry at you.  You are not the problem- our own health issues are the problem.
Does this make sense??

The only way I can NOT be ticked off at a nurse that misses my IV again and again is by reminding myself that this nurse is TRYING to help me.  My anger is not going to help her.  I always feel like my role is to help the nurse feel confident and not nervous so she can do her job the best way she knows how.  I can imagine, feeling frustrated just makes poking veins harder.

My favorite blood sucking nurse this go around, had a reputation for being able to get blood from difficult veins.  He was careful and deliberate as he checked my arms.  (My veins are so scarred they are very hard to draw blood from.) As I was praising him for being the best, he avoided over-confidence by responding in his deep African/English accent, "I try to do my best so you do not need to get poked more than once."  Good, humble, healing words.  I felt his strong compassion without pity.
You hurt me because you love me and you went to school for years to try and save my life.  Love me, empathize with me, grieve with me, but please don't apologize for helping me.

Yes, let your soul sit near mine and feel my grief- and then continue to help heal me.  God uses many hands and hearts to perform miracles.  You are a stitch in the tapestry of my healing.

Oh, one more thing.  Good nurses are very careful how they interpret difficulty.  I had many non-stress tests while on bed rests.  My baby was active and difficult to keep on a monitor.  My favorite nurses would giggle with me saying "This little guy is so strong!  What a fun, healthy, active baby."  
Contrast this to the nurses who would say, "Oh, he's a trouble maker already.  He thinks it's funny to make these things hard for you, etc.."  
No.   Be careful how you speak about things- my baby, my body, my veins, my luck, my future.  See the good!!
(This is me with my favorite lactation consultant, Soule.  Anticipating my c-section/hysterectomy I was nervous that I would not be able to nurse my preemie baby.  She taught me that mother's milk is so good for preemies and testified that my body would know exactly what my baby needed.  Her confidence gave me confidence and peace.  Being able to nurse my baby in the midst of huge health trials was a miracle that came about because of a wise lactation consultant.)
Good nurses can find the bright side of ANY procedure.  It is easy to slip into a "poor me" mentality.  The best nurses emphasize the positive of every turn of events.
Nurses help!  Good nurses don't feel the need to apologize for the service they are giving.  Good nurses help patients see the progress in the daily difficulties of life.
Good nurses have a healing touch!
I think a healing touch is a physical manifestation of a spiritual gift.  I believe some are born with it, some develop it.  It is real.  I felt healing hands keeping my spirit in my body.  When you don't know what to do-- touch someone you love.  Hug them, shake their hand, or my favorite- hold their hand.

Good nurses touch naturally.  They caress your cheek, wipe your brow, rub your back, squeeze your arm.  We have physical bodies so that we can do good ACTS with them.  

I can't remember the physical pain of waking up in the trauma ICU after receiving 200 units of blood- but I remember the intensity of comfort I received from one loving, faithful, powerful grasp of hands.  I remember intense comfort as nurses shifted my aching body, stuck a tube down my nose for nausea, rubbed my feet and hands.  I remember IV Therapy always using litocain and doctors who removed my stomach bandages with compassion.

When you are drowning in pain positive physical touch is essential!!  Don't apologize after an awful internal jugular insertion, just take a moment and squeeze your patients arm- mentally sending them your powerful, loving, all healing touch.

(I do this with my kids, too.  When I don't know what to say, I touch them and let them hear my heart.)

Nurses (and CNA's) are the best!

That's all.
I'm certain nurses learn much about hospital protocol, medicine scheduling, wound repair, etc.  And, those things are so important.
But, nurses who nurture with skill are irreplaceable.

As I came back from the dead, I felt the hand of God as gentle nurses stroked my head, rubbed my feet, and held my hair back as I threw up.

I heard the voice of God as wise, faithful nurses encouraged me, cheered me up, and prayed for me.

I walked with God, first from the top of my bed to the end of my bed, and then to the bathroom, and then down the hall, and then around the hallway circle. 

I felt God with me as nurses held me up, gave me strength, had hope that I could go one more step, and stood near me to steady me when I was faint.  

I saw God's eyes as I looked deep into my nurses eyes asking if I was OK.  I saw hope in their eyes, I felt experience and wisdom.  They loved me and they knew I could heal.  So did God.

Nurses have access to heavenly assistance as they serve the weakest among us.

I love nurses.

I'm grateful for the nurses in my life who first saw me as a patient, and then as a neighbor, and then as a friend, and then as a sister.
I'm alive because of nurses.  
Good, good nurses make life better.
I know it. 
PS-  I have to add here at the end that EVERY nurse can be a good nurse.  Nurses, like patients, are humans who respond to kindness.  Patients and visitors who treat nurses well, will feel the goodness around them.  Patients and visitors who are aggressive and rude, will have a very different hospital experience than I did.  (Because I'm nice, obviously. haha)  I actually love trying to CRACK a tough nurse.  Every nurse has a good-side.
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