Saturday, December 19, 2009

Angels Among Us

My mom called Thursday and asked if she could come and visit. DUH! :)

I asked how this is possible, as I know money is tight. She said that one of her co-workers is giving my mom her frequent flyer miles so that she can come and stay with me. She's coming at the end of next week and will spend a week at home with me while I recover. My kids and I are so excited to have her!

I'm so grateful. I'm 36 years old, but still need my mommy. This co-worker may never know how much this means to me. She is truly proof that angels live among us.

My Drama Queen

Tonight is closing night of the play Courtnie is in. She has been rehearsing since the end of October and has been loving EVERY minute of it. She told me the other day that she wants to be an actress when she grows up. I have no doubt that her choice is the correct one for her.

Here's an article our local paper did on the play. Courtnie is quoted about half-way through. I'm going to take some pictures and post them in the next couple of days. It's been fun.

Enjoy! :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Secret Weapon

Everyone around me is worried about me. People are scared, one of my best friends cried and told me she's not "emotionally ready" for me to have this surgery. (She was joking, of course.)

I am completely at peace.

Is it because I'm heavily medicated? Perhaps... ;o)

People tell me that they're praying for me and that I'm in their thoughts. I have felt it. I know, without a doubt, that prayer works. I have seen it work in my own life and in the lives of others. I have faith that it will work here again.

My dad has called our family and asked them to have a special fast for me on Sunday. At another time in my life people I didn't even know fasted for me and a miracle happened.

I was at the end of my cancer treatments, and had another battery of tests to make sure I had the "all clear" to end treatments. One of the tests showed that the cancer was back.

As you can imagine, my parents were devastated. I had been through Hell for two years, and we thought that it was going to work. My parents called their friends who attend our church, and word spread quickly. The following Sunday, the entire stake fasted on my behalf.

The following Monday, when I had the same test again, it showed no traces of cancer in my body. Does prayer and fasting work? I'm a witness to that fact. I'm here today because of that power.

I've been thinking a lot about my parents recently. I love them so much. I think that somewhere, back in the recesses of their mind, they wonder if what they did for me was the right thing. I've been through so much in my life, and (being a parent now myself) I know that they would do ANYTHING to take it from me. I know that they are worried about me, and that they are very concerned with this most recent development. I know they have been by my side through all of it, and have watched me suffer.

I want them to know how grateful I am for their decisions on my behalf. When I think about what you must have gone through, and I think about what I would do if it were Ian or Courtnie, I am amazed. I know it wasn't easy, but I know a lot of prayer and inspiration went into doing the best you could with me. I also know that I am the person I am today because of the trials I've been through in my life. I've said it before, but I believe 100% that who you are in life depends on how you react to the things that happen to you. You can't always control what happens to you, but you CAN control how you react.

Mom and dad, I love you. More than you know.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Aortic Bypass

So, here's the verdict:
It's called an Aortic Bypass. Dr. Wheatley will make an incision below my sternum so that he can access my aorta. He will then attach the artificial aorta to a spot above where the damaged portion. The artificial aorta will then attach to my femoral artery. (The picture above is what will happen...the white tubing is the artificial tube, the blue and red are the actual aorta.) He's also going to do a mini-bypass in my left renal artery in hopes that he can save that kidney.
My surgery is scheduled for Monday, December 21. I'll spend a week in the hospital and then be recovering for six to eight weeks.
Although I'm a bit anxious about major surgery, I'm excited for the prospects. I don't know if I've ever had adequate blood flow to my legs--this may be a new experience for me. I know that things will work out well. I'm just so grateful to have some resolution!!
Thanks so much to all of my family and friends for your prayers. I have felt them and know that they work. I love you all!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Son of Man

I was asked to lead the music in Sacrament meeting yesterday. We got to church a little bit late, so Gordon and the kids had to sit in the back. Rather than trek up and down the aisles, I stayed on the stand the entire time.

One of my friends, Missy, gave a talk about Joseph Smith. She talked about his life and trials, and spoke about his time at Liberty Jail. This time of his life always hits me hard. I imagine him sitting in the cramped, cold jail cell and suffering miserably. From this time comes some of the most beautiful and poignant scripture we have (in my opinion.)

1 O God, where art thou? And where is the pavillion that covereth thy hiding place?
2 How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries?
3 Yea, O Lord, how long shall they suffer these wrongs and unlawful oppressions, before thine heart shall be softened toward them, and thy bowels be moved with compassion toward them?
4 O Lord God Almighty, maker of heaven, earth, and seas, and of all things that in them are, and who controllest and subjectest the devil, and the dark and benighted dominion of Sheol--stretch forth thy hand; let thine eye pierce; let thy pavilion be taken up; let thy hiding place no longer be covered; let thine ear be inclined; let thine heart be softened, and thy bowels moved with compassion toward us.
5 Let thine anger be kindled against our enemies; and, in the fury of thine heart, with thy sword avenge us of our wrongs.
6 Remember thy suffering saints, O our God; and thy servants will rejoice in thy name forever.
7 My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
8 And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.
9 Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands.

And then the least for me:
8 The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?

As she was speaking, these verses of scripture kept coming into my mind. I kept thinking of the trials and afflictions I have in my life, and how often I feel sorry for myself.

It then hit me that Christ knows of my afflictions, and has suffered more than I. He knows me, He knows what I'm going through, and He loves me. I am grateful for this knowledge. I have known it my entire life, but haven't really needed it until now.

I sat on the stand and cried for joy. I realized how much I need Him, and how much more I need to depend on Him. I also felt a little silly for complaining about my current state of affairs when my suffering is miniscule compared to what is going on in the world around me. I'm a complainer, but I'm going to try to be better about it. I need to realize that in the long term, this trial is just "but a small moment." If I endure it well, I will know true happiness.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I Heart My Doctor

I've been taking my blood pressure a couple of times a day for the past week or so. I was just curious if my kidney issues would affect my blood pressure, and sure enough--they have. My blood pressure has been hovering around 160/100 (normal is 120/80.) SO...I made an appointment with my primary care doctor.

I really love her. She is always concerned about me when I come in and is (or at least seems to be) genuinely interested in me being well. When she came in today, she took a look at my chart, which reflected my current blood pressure issue and said, "Oh-oh!"

I told her about my aorta/renal artery issue and asked for advice. She looked me in the eye and asked me why we were even talking about it. She told me that I'm only 36, and need to be healthy. She said she could tell just by looking at me that I was tired and not feeling well, which is true about 80% of the time.

We talked about how remarkable it is to live today, when so much can be done to help someone in my situation. She said that I should stop doing the "temporary fixes" and do something that will give a better quality of life. I couldn't agree more.

It feels good to have someone reaffirm what I already was feeling. I trust her opinion, and value her input. It gives me more to talk about when I go see the vascular surgeon next week. Solutions, people! Solutions!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Random Thoughts for a Monday

It's raining/snowing--I'm calling it slushing right now. I had a concert with the community college big band I play with, but found out it was cancelled AFTER I drove there. NICE! They cancel things here for 1/2 inch of snow on the ground. On the one hand, I'm glad for the cancellations, as people here DO NOT know how to drive in snow. On the other hand, I was looking forward to playing tonight. (I had a few solos...)

Saturday Ian had a wrestling tournament. He is doing so well. He ended up taking 1st place in his weight class. This is something he's been gunning for since he's started wrestling, and I'm so proud that he's been able to accomplish this goal. He's a great kid, and so strong and athletic. He is amazing to me.

On the way to the wrestling tournament, my nose started bleeding. I get bloody noses occasionally--but haven't had one for several years. This nose bleed was scary because it would not stop. Every time I would try to take the tissue away to see if had stopped, it just kept dripping out. Gordon had me use some of the wrestler's "stop nosebleed stuff" and finally--one hour later--it stopped bleeding. This nose bleed lasted two hours. I'm sure it's a result of the Plavix and aspirin I'm taking, but it scared me a bit. I think I lost quite a bit of blood, because I didn't feel so hot after.

We had the Christmas parade in Prescott on Saturday as well. I really don't care for parades--don't see the point, but people like them, so whatever. :)

I have two concerts with my students this week. Orchestra, jazz band and percussion ensemble play tomorrow night and jazz band and concert band play Thursday night. I'm looking forward to them, but also looking forward to having them over with, too. It's a lot of stress!

I think I've decided that (unless the surgeon has a better suggestion) I'm going to have my aorta replaced this summer. I can't live like this anymore. My legs hurt so bad when I walk. I want to be healthy and in good shape, and I can't be either in this condition. I'm ready.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

In My Quiet Moments

The dishwasher is running, my comforter is in the washer. Courtnie is at play practice, Gordon and Ian are at wrestling practice. (No, Gordon doesn't wrestle...silly!) I'm home alone for a bit--it's kind of nice, but VERY quiet.

I was speaking with a friend yesterday about my health issues. (I'm not going to call them problems...they're just "issues.") She is also a cancer survivor--I believe she had breast cancer around three years ago. She's doing well now...a happy, healthy, spiritual person. I love her dearly.

We talked about quiet moments yesterday and how the adversary works on us during those times. It's easy to not get sidetracked with doubts when we're busy, but the times when we're quiet and alone are when he really goes to work. I thought maybe if I wrote some of those doubts down I could let them go.

In my quiet moments I wonder if a body that doesn't work like it should is worth it.
In my quiet moments I wonder what other's lives would be like if I wasn't here.
In my quiet moments I wonder if the doctors are doing the right thing.
In my quiet moments I wonder if I'm going to be around and able to walk with my kids at their graduations, weddings, births of children...
In my quiet moments I wonder what it would have been like to not have had cancer.
In my quiet moments I wonder if my depression is related to my health issues.
In my quiet moments I wonder if my kids worry about me. Are they scared?
In my quiet moments I wonder if my husband is sick of me.
In my quiet moments I wonder what it feels like to feel normal.
In my quiet moments I wonder if the reasons I wasn't ever able to do physical activities like others could had anything to do with my aorta and the blood flow. How long has it been like this?
In my moments times I wonder if I had been born today if I'd be dealing with the side effects I have now.
In my quiet moments I wonder if everyone is sick of hearing me talk about my issues.

In my more confident moments I know that I have a wonderful life...full of happy and joyful things. I have an amazing family. I have the best job in the world. I know that I am the person I am today because of the fights I've had to go through.

At Thanksgiving, one of Gordon's aunts told me that I need to take better care of myself. She told me that I need to get a golf cart and ride around in that all of the time. I smiled politely and said, "No, I can't do that."

I can't give up. Getting a golf cart would be giving up. It would be letting the cancer win. I refuse. In my quiet moments, I sometimes wonder if it would be better to give would definitely be easier.

But that's not why we're here. It ain't easy, baby!