Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Becoming Who You Were Meant to Be

Life is funny.  You get dealt a certain set of cards when you are born, and the cards change throughout your life.  Some of the changes are your fault, some are just happenstance.  What you do with your hand throughout your life determines who you are.

One of my former students is going to be graduating soon from college.  I've known this student (we'll call him Nate ;oP) since he was in the sixth grade.  I was his first band director...I taught him before I took a year off to take care of Courtnie. He was a super shy kid who just wanted to play the drums.  Before I started teaching at BMHS, I would go to the football games and see him playing on the drumline his freshmen year.  It was neat to see that he was still playing and having a great time.

When I was offered the position at BMHS, I was excited to work with him again.  I was also able to learn a lot more about him.  He was raised by a single mom and never knew his dad.  His mom had addiction problems when he was a child, and I'm sure he never had any money.  His older sister is now dealing with the same addiction problems.

It would have been easy for him to use all of the above as an excuse, but he never did.  I never heard him complain about his upbringing or his difficulties.  He worked so hard to overcome everything.  He was the drumline captain his junior and senior years and set the bar for other students to try to reach.  He worked bagging groceries so he could buy a "beater" car to get around in.  He would ask to stay and practice after I'd left for the evening.  (I think he actually slept in the band room, but I'll never know for sure.)

He's been studying music education at NAU for the past four years.  He volunteers to come to BMHS to help out with the drumline and marching band as much as he is able.  He has arranged the drumline and pit music for our marching show for the past two years, and has done and amazing job.  He's composing music for different groups at NAU, and has come to appreciate and understand music in a way that is totally new. It has been so rewarding to me to see him grow into an exceptional musician and teacher.  I'm grateful that I was able to have a small part in his life.  I am 100% positive that he will be successful in whatever he decides he wants to be.

The hand of cards we're dealt don't have to determine who we will become.  We have the power to ask the "dealer" for new cards, and we can decide how we want to play the cards.  As long as we stay in the game and keep working with those cards, we'll be the ones to determine the outcome.

I'm grateful for people like Nate who have taught me this lesson so well.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Love Conquers All

I promised a happy post about Thanksgiving weekend, so here it is:

At the last minute, we decided to go to Idaho to see my parents and brother Alex.  I haven't seen my mom since she had her car accident in September, and I felt like I needed to.  The roads were TERRIBLE both there and back, but Gordon is awesome at driving in the snow and ice, so we made it there safely.

It was so good to visit for a few days with my folks.  They are great people, and  are so good to me.  It was also awesome to spend Saturday with my grandparents and a few of my brothers and sisters.  We had so much fun just hanging out.  All of the cousins played so well together...it was a blast.  I wish we could do it more often.

Friday night we took my parents and Alex out to dinner at Applebee's.  I had some pasta with alfredo sauce, and (of course) it made my stomach upset.  I was up several times during the night.  One of the times I was up I heard my dad talking in their bedroom (this was around 2 a.m.)  I couldn't make out exactly what he was saying, but it almost sounded like a prayer.  I got up again a little while later and he was still talking.  At this point, I was pretty impressed with the length of his prayer. :)

In the morning, my mom asked me if I was okay, as she heard me get up several times.  I asked her what dad was talking about in the middle of the night, and she told me that he reads to her when she wakes up in pain.  She said it helps take her mind off the pain.

I was so touched by this.  My parents have been married for 38 years and my dad still loves my mom enough to read to her and help her in the middle of the night.  This exemplified true love to me.

It's funny how sometimes it takes a trial to realize how much you need your spouse.  Gordon has been the most incredible husband the past year.  He has cleaned up my vomit, held my hand when I was hurting, been my advocate with doctors, and has comforted me when I didn't think I could go on.  In our 19 years of marriage, I've never loved him more.

As much as this past year has been one of the worst I've had, it's also been one of many blessings.  We have been blessed in so many ways, and I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for them. 


It's been a week! 

Monday at dialysis, the doc told me that it was time to take the dialysis catheter out.  I had talked her into giving me a few days to see if the antibiotics would work, but my body seems to hate vancomycin.  Oh well...

It was taken out Tuesday by a surgeon I know well in Prescott.  Thankfully, he took one look at my absurd catheter that the access center in Phoenix put in and told me it would be too painful to take out while I was awake.  I had to wait a couple of hours for the OR to open up, but I was grateful to be asleep when he took it out.

Wednesday Gordon and I travelled to Mayo for a consultation with a vascular disease specialist.  He asked a ton of questions, felt for pulses at various places in my body and then sent me down for labs.  (My favorite!)  It only took two tries for the blood draw, so we had a good day!  I came home so exhausted...I fell asleep at 6:00 and didn't wake up until this morning.

Today, I got to the hospital at 9:00 for the new catheter placement.  While I was in pre-op they had to put an IV in.  I think six different nurses tried, and they finally called in the radiologist to use the ultrasound machine to find a vein.  He put in a four-inch catheter in my upper right arm.  Kind of weird.  A little while later, the anesthesiologist came in and told the nurse to give me 2 grams of Versed.  It's my new favorite drug! :)  Once it's in, you don't remember a thing!

I woke up after surgery in a lot of pain.  The surgeon put the new catheter in on my left side (the other two I've had have been placed on the right side.)  Once again, grateful for good pain meds.  They made me a little nauseous, but I managed okay.  Gordon came and picked me up and we went home.  (After stopping for a HUGE Mountain Dew.) 

Gordon got called in early for work today, and in order to get enough sleep he had to miss Ian's wrestling tournament.  We felt so bad that he wouldn't have anyone there for him.  It's the first time that he's been on his own.  Maybe he should do it more often...he took 2nd place!  I'm so proud of him!  He's getting better each year and I just love watching him wrestle.

Dialysis tomorrow...we'll see how this new catheter behaves!  Hopefully it will be the last one until the transplant in February!!

Monday, November 29, 2010


I was all set to write a happy blog about the great Thanksgiving weekend I had with my wonderful family.  Perhaps I'll write two blogs today-one happy and one not so much.

So, last Monday I was done with dialysis and they took my temperature, as they always do.  They stuck the thing in my ear and it registered 99.0.  I guess you add a degree when you take the temp in the ear, so they rounded it up to 100.0.  They always freak out when my temperature goes above normal because they're worried about infections in my dialysis catheter. 

They drew blood cultures and sent them off to the lab. 

Wednesday, I was sitting in the dialysis chair, anticipating the weekend and our travels, when the lab results came back positive for bacteria in my bloodstream. Wonderful. I feel fine--not symptomatic at all, so I think it's all garbage, but I promise to go to the ER where ever I am if I feel sick at all.  I then figure that we can do the mega-antibiotics on Monday (today) when I come back to dialysis.  It's happened before.

I'm resting peacefully in my warm bed this morning when I get a call from the dialysis nurse telling me that my nephrologist wants me to get a new catheter put in this week.  She said the bacteria was MRSA...something they didn't tell me before.  Again...wonderful.

I'm just plain out of tears.  I don't have any more room left to be happy.  I can't understand why this keeps happening to me.  I've tried so hard to be happy and maintian a positive attitude, but I just don't understand.  I want so badly to "get" why I keep going through trials-one after another-that just don't seem to end. 

My brain tells me that there's something more to this.  Something more that I (or someone else) is supposed to get out of these problems.  I know that life's not supposed to be fair, and that things happen for a reason.  My brain tells me that I have so much to live for and so many blessings, and that I should just be grateful for those.  It also tells me that there are SO many people in the world who are worse off than I am.

My heart and soul just want to kick and scream and yell that it's just not fair.  I want to know why. As Sally Field says in "Steel Magnolias," "I want to hit someone until they hurt like I do."

I also want to know that it's going to end.  I don't want to spend the rest of my life being poked, prodded, cut open, examined, and in pain. 

I had just gotten (relatively) over the disappointment of the kidney transplant postponement.  I had just accepted the fact that I added two more pills to my arsenal. 

When am I going to get a break?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again

So, here I sit...at dialysis...again.  (I feel like Forrest Gump when he talks about how he met the President...again...)

It's a strange and sorted tale on why I'm back.  Whether you want to hear about it or not is up to you, but here goes:

Two weeks before my transplant was scheduled, I went to Mayo for a CT scan of my kidneys.  The docs wanted to make sure I was still cancer-free.  (I had a cancerous tumor removed from my right kidney in 2008.) 

One week before transplant was scheduled, I had a series of appointments and tests to prepare for surgery.  In one of the appointments, my nurse/coordinator mentioned that the CT scan showed that my aorta bypass that I had done last December was now blocked on the right side, and that needed to be fixed before they could transplant the kidney.  (They attach the new kidney on the right side and attach the renal artery to the aorta on the right side.)  She scheduled an appointment with a vascular surgeon, and I saw him on Thursday.  (Five days before scheduled transplant.)  He said that he could go in and put a stent in my aorta, which would increase the blood flow and make the transplant possible.  When I asked him about the bypass graft, he said, "Oh, that's no good anymore." 

I was floored.  This entire kidney ordeal began immediatley after I had the bypass surgery.  I felt like the entire last year and all of the problems I've had have been for nothing, as the end result was that nothing was improved, and we were back to square one.  This was hard news to take.

The surgeon said that he could schedule the procedure for sometime in the next couple of weeks, at which time his intern spoke up and said, "Her transplant is scheduled for Tuesday."  He looked a little stressed, but said that we could schedule it for Monday.

Okay--so at this point, I'm thinking that it's not going to be a big deal.  Stent in on Monday, transplant on Tuesday.  I can do this. 

We go in Monday morning to prepare for the procedure.  It doesn't take long...I wasn't even under heavy anesthesia for it.  I was out by early afternoon and visited with Gordon and the kids before they checked in to the hotel and went to pick up Aaron and Michelle from the airport.

Around 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday, I woke up and my right foot was completely numb.  I called the nurse, who called the doctor.  They couldn't figure out why this was happening, so they called the surgeon.  He said to get up and walk around a bit.  I took two laps around the ward, and my foot was still numb and my right leg was throbbing and hurting.  By this time, the surgeon came in (I'm sure I woke him up), took a look at my legs and feet and said that we needed to do some emergency surgery to clean out the arteries in my legs.  He said that what happened was that when they cleaned out my artery and put the stent in, it sent "trash" and clots down to my legs and feet.  You could even see black and blue marks on the bottom of my feet where the "trash" had settled.  He also said this surgery would mean we'd need to postpone the transplant.

I'm hurting pretty bad by this point...the morphine and percoset they gave me isn't even touching the pain.  I call Gordon to tell him the news, and then get wheeled down to the OR around 3:30. 

I'm so upset at this point that tears roll down my cheeks.  I try hard not to think of the question, "WHY??" but that's all that keeps coming to me.  I'm so frustrated.  I feel bad for Michelle, who was anticipating this (and anticipating it being over!)  I feel bad for my friends and family who have prayed so hard for me.  I feel bad for my kids because I know that they want their mom back.  I feel bad for Gordon, who has been there with me every step of the way.

I come out of surgery sore, but feeling better.  I see Michelle and Aaron before they leave to fly home.  Michelle and I look at each other and start to cry a bit.  Aaron grabs my hand and says, "Michelle is here for you whenever you need her."  That meant so much to me.  Later that day, Gordon's mom and sister come to see me.  Gordon's mom took my hand and told me how courageous I was.  I felt kind of wimpy, and that buoyed me up.

Gordon took Ian and Courtnie home Tuesday night so that they could go to school the rest of the week.  I called to say good night as they were on their way home.  When Ian and I spoke, he said, "Mom, I know that everything happens for a reason."  His faith hit me so hard, and helped me to stop feeling sorry for myself.  He's right, and I know it.  That boy never ceases to amaze me--such a strong faith and testimony of obedience for such a young man.

I was blessed with amazing nurses for my entire stay.  They kept me smiling and happy.  Gordon came each day and we held hands and watched movies.  I'm so grateful for him.  He's truly my best friend.

While in the hospital, I had three blood draws a day, as they were testing my blood for the coumadin level and to see how fast it clots.  I think I counted thirty tiny scabs where a needle was inserted for either an IV or a blood draw.  I LOVE that I have wonderful veins! :^p  By Friday, all of my levels were good and I was able to go home. 

So nice to be home.  I'm anxious to do all I can to help my postponed transplant happen sooner rather than later.  As soon as my blood levels level out, we can start discussing scheduling the tranplant.  The docs said one to three months, but I'm pushing for the shorter time.  I see the vascular surgeon on Dec. 3 and see a vascular disease specialist on Dec 8.  Hopeful for answers.

Again, I'm reminded that they ONLY thing we have complete control over in our lives is our attitude. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Testing, testing...part 2

I've had a great couple of weeks.  Not only am I starting to feel a little more human, but I've had two of the greatest women I know come to visit me and impact my life in ways they may never fully understand.

My Aunt Sarah came on October 7 to cook for my family and clean my house. I don't think my family has ever eaten so well.  She really spoiled them!  My house is gleaming...baseboards cleaned, floor mopped, even my fridge is cleaned out!  I'm so grateful.  As I said to her when I was dropping her off at the airport...some people come to your home and add a sweet spirit that really affects your family.  Sarah's presence did just that.  I'm so grateful not only for a clean house, but for the spirit she left in our home.  I sincerely hope that it lasts for a while.

My sister Michelle came in on October 10 to complete her testing as a potential kidney donor.  She never complained about the pain--even when she was giving blood or having an IV put in for her CT scan.  I forgot to warn her about the "interesting" sensation that the CT contrast gives you--sorry!  (It makes you feel like you've wet your pants.)  It was fun to just hang out, eat at good restaurants, and visit.  I'm really grateful for her selflessness.  She doesn't want anyone to know that she's doing this, because she doesn't like the "oh you're so great" attention, but she's really awesome. 

We find out Tuesday afternoon if we're good to go.  I forgot to mention that I got a call while I was in dialysis on October 7 that I'm completely cleared for transplant.  My HepB status is good, and my insurance has cleared me...so....we're all good to go.  If Michelle is approved, then all we need to do is schedule the surgery.  I can't wait!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Stormy Weather

Yesterday, as I was on my way to dialysis, I noticed storm clouds in the horizon.  I got a little excited, because I LOVE stormy days. 

Of course, while I was in my cubicle/fishbowl at dialysis I had no idea what was happening outside.  When I got off, I stepped outside into torrential rain and wind.  It was COLD!!  I shuffled to my car, which is about the best I can do right now, and was soaking wet by the time I got there.  I turned on the heater and tried to dry out by the time I got home.  No dice. 

By the way--the ride home was frustrating.  Why do people think they have to drive 30 miles under the speed limit just because it's raining?  GO already! :)

So my dialysis catheter keeps leaking from the insertion site.  (My chest)  It just trickles blood for about 30 seconds and then stops, but it's ruining my clothes.  Yesterday, the dialysis tech cleaned my site and in the process got my shirt sopping wet.  Then, when my catheter leaked, the blood just spread out all over.  It was really gross.  I looked like a newborn who had drooled blood all over their shirt.  Lovely.  As Courtnie said, "Luckily you were just coming home after!"  The doc says it's because it hasn't healed all the way and the only option we have is to get a new catheter.  Um...no.

I just ate breakfast and took my meds and they're starting to kick in.  The room starts to spin a bit and I get a little woozy.  Not a fan of side effects.  I need to make some phone calls today to get things set up.  Still haven't had an MRI or seen the neurologist.  I also need to get my HepB status from my doctor so I can tell the liver specialist at Mayo.  I just want everything lined up so that once Michelle is cleared, we're good to go. 

Happy stormy day, everyone! :)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Top of the Muffin to You!

It's time for a change, so here goes:

I'm going to try to be more grateful and more positive in my postings.  Who wants to read about a whiner?

I got a haircut and my hair colored yesterday afternoon.  I really like it.  It looked a little better last night than it does today, but it still looks better than it did.  I was WAY overdue for a salon appointment!!

This morning I woke up, took the kids to school and decided that I wanted muffins for breakfast.  I drove into Albertsons and purchased some muffin mix, orange juice, and Wheat Thins.  Once I got to the car, I decided that I was thirsty, so I opened the orange juice I bought (Simply Orange--with pineapple juice.)  I'd never purchased this brand of OJ before, so I was most pleasantly pleased when it hit my taste buds.  YUMMMMMY!  A taste explosion! 

Got home, made my muffins, and enjoyed them right out of the oven with a bit of butter on them.  Again--YUMMMMMY! 

So today, I'm grateful for food.  It's been a while since I've been able to really enjoy food, and this morning was a treat!  One good thing about being sick is that I really don't feel too guilty "treating" myself to yummy things. 

Yesterday--aside from getting my hair done--I was super busy.  I had a dentist appointment, a blood draw, shuttled kids around and (I'll confess) took a little nap.  Good news that I wasn't expecting to hear: NO CAVITIES!!  With all of the vomiting I've been doing the past 10 months, I thought for sure I'd have at least a few cavities.  Dentist said nope, and that everything looks really good.  This is even better news, as I needed dental clearance for my transplant. 

Another blessing yesterday--the dental clearance form asked for a panoramic x-ray, something my dentist can't do.  They called over to an orthodontist (who's in my ward) and they did the panoramic x-ray for me for free!  Love that!

Now--all I'm waiting on is my Hep B viral load to be low enough and Michelle's testing, which will take place in less than two weeks.  I'm really hoping we can get this done by the end of October!  I'm SOOOO ready!

Dialysis in two hours.  My nephrologist put me on yet another blood pressure med.  This makes five different kinds of blood pressure meds.  I take 16 pills a day...can you believe that?  I'm hoping that my blood pressure will be more under control during dialysis so I won't get so sick.  It's been hovering around 200/100 while I'm undergoing treatment.  Not too good.  It makes me scared that I'll have another seizure...that thought scares me more than anything right now.  I'll just keep hoping and praying...

By the way...another thing I'm SO grateful for:

Friends and family who read my blog and offer words of encouragement and strength.  You'll never know how deeply your words touch me and how they brighten my day.  I love you so much.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Coming out of the Fog

I had a really good night's sleep last night.  I don't think I got up even once to use the bathroom, and that's HUGE for me. 

I woke up this morning to take my kids to school and almost felt human.  It's a good feeling...one I'd like to have last a bit longer.  I really love my kids.  They help me stay grounded and give me a reason to keep plugging along.

After I went to dialysis yesterday, I went to see my primary care doctor.  Can I just tell you again how much I love her?  I just sat and cried to her and she just sat and listened, without judging, and completely understanding.  She is aware of everything I'm going through, and tells me how tough I am.  This was something I needed to hear desperately, as I'm not feeling so tough right now. 

She told me to seek out something that will give me a sense of purpose while I'm not working.  Maybe I need to pick up cross-stitching again, or get one of my friends to teach me to knit (again!)  I feel like if I could find something to occupy my time, I wouldn't feel so lonely and worthless. 

Oh--but I could also clean my house...there is that.  :)                        

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bootstraps, anyone?

My sister Michelle sends me links to various blogs.  Most of them have are blogs of people who have gone or are going through some kind of adversity in their life. 

While I should find them inspiring and wonderful, they just make me feel stupid.  My problems are so minuscules compared to others in the world.  I just want to be happy, and I have SO many reasons to be, but I just physically can't get happy.  Every time I think about anything, I cry. 

My mom's in the hospital, and I can't be there for her. 

Not that you needed to know this, but I've had an upset stomach for the past three weeks, and have been downing the Imodium like it's candy.

The meds I'm on make me feel like my head's detached from my body.

I'm crabby ALL of the time, and snap at my husband and kids for absolutely nothing.

My house is messy, there's laundry to be done, and I just can't get it done.

I've abandoned my job...something that makes me happy.  I just found out I only have seven more weeks of leave covered under FMLA.  Does this mean I'll lose my job?  I wasn't planning on going back to work until the beginning of January.

I just really want to stop crying at the drop of a hat.  I'm so done.  I know that all of this will pass, and it will be a memory.  I also know that my attitude determines so much of my happiness, but I'm having a hard time right now. 

Please, please, please....

Friday, September 24, 2010

I Can Do Hard Things

My sister, Lindsey has that saying in her house.  I think of it often. 

I've cried a lot over the past few weeks, so forgive me if I don't make a whole lot of sense with this post.  I just feel the need to get some thoughts out.

To sum up what I've been up to lately:

Around September 8, I started having chest pains on my left side.  It basically hurt to breathe and it was impossible to breathe deeply.  I went to the doctor on the morning of September 10 and they drew some blood and sent it off to the lab.  I went back to work, not feeling so hot, but we had a game that night so I needed to be there.  The doctor's office called me a couple of hours later and told me to get to the ER right away as the lab results came back that I might have a blood clot in my lung. 

I called Gordon, and we went to the ER in Prescott.  They ruled out a blood clot, but said I had pneumonia, so I stayed a few days in the hospital.  I never felt great, but wanted to go home so badly that they let me on the 15th. 

At home, I couldn't keep anything down...not water, not food...nothing.  I didn't realize it, but my blood pressure was sky high and my brain had started to swell.  Sunday evening (September 18,) my right leg started to convulse uncontrollably.  We thought it was just a cramp, but decided to go to the ER anyway.  All the way to the ER, I just didn't feel right.  We were walking in the door to the ER, when my leg started convulsing again.  Gordon went to go and get me a wheelchair, and by the time he got back to me, I was in a full-blown grand mal seizure.  I don't remember much after that... I woke up for a bit and then had another seizure in the ER.  When I woke up the next time, I was in the ICU.

I spent three days in the ICU and then two days on the 4th floor before I was able to go home again.  I'm on larger doses of blood pressure meds, and am also taking anti-seizure meds for the time being.  I'll have another MRI on Monday and see the neurologist on Friday.  It's taken me a few days to get my bearings...I feel off still, and am having a hard time doing simple motor skills.  I'm sure it will come back.

Gordon was scared out of his mind, and we both came to the decision that I shouldn't go back to work until I get my transplant.  I need to concentrate on getting well before I can take care of others.  I'm no good to anyone right now, and they won't even clear me for transplant if I'm not healthy.  I've cried and cried about this decision, because my job means so much to me.  I feel like I'm letting everyone down, and there's nothing I can do about it.  It's been so hard.  I know that I need this time to realize what is most important, and it's not my job...it's my family. 

This morning, I got a call from my sister Lindsey.  My mom has been in a bad car accident.  She was t-boned going to work and was air-evaced to Idaho Falls.  She has broken ribs, pelvis, a lacerated bowel and kidney, but looks like she's going to make it.  I'm so worried about her and wish I could be closer to her.  I know she's in good hands and many people are praying for her.  She's been my rock my entire life...I hope she feels my love for her right now.

I need strength to get through this.  I know that my Savior is there, and I know that He wants so badly to help me.  I know He can help me me get through this rough time, and that we'll all look back on it as a time we grew immensely. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

One Proud Wifey

Yesterday was my husband's first home game as a head coach of the freshmen football team.  He's had a blast coaching them thus far.  I was so proud to sit in the stands and watch him work.  He is patient, kind and gives all he has to those boys.  I hope they appreciate how much he sacrifices for them.

The game didn't go very well.  In fact, it was pretty darn miserable.  The offensive line couldn't protect the quarterback at all, and he was in a constant state of scramble.  This is especially hard for my husband because the offensive line is his "thing." 

When we got home, we sat and talked about it for a while.  One of the things I love most about my husband is his positive attitude.  He really doesn't get down.  He just takes a "well, we're going to have to work harder" kind of attitude.  I love this.

Gordon has been my hero, and I know he always will be.  He's not perfect, but neither am I...not by a long shot.  Together we make a pretty good team.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


At what point are you too tired to function?

I've been so tired lately and have been such a grouch.  I've been mean to my kids, my students, and my husband.  I know I'm supposed to be able to control my grouchiness, but I seem to have no control over it lately.  Everyone and everything annoys the crud out of me.

My favorite grouchy phrase to my students: "I'm going to kill you and eat your children."  Hopefully they know I'm just joking... (sort of)

When people ask me how I am, I tell them that I'm fine...just tired.  A typical response is, "Yeah, I'm tired, too."  Sometimes I want to scream at them that they have NO IDEA what tired feels like.  Other times, I just smile and say, "Well, I guess I don't have anything to complain about, then."  (Somewhat hoping that they'll catch the note of sarcasm in my voice.)

I want to sleep 24/7, and I think I could if given a chance.  Some days it's all I can do to roll out of bed at 5:30 in the morning.  I'm in bed by 8:00, and usually asleep by 8:30.  During the day I just want to sit and do nothing.  Even now, I'm finding it difficult to concentrate and I "zone out" quite often. 

My house is messy and I don't know what to do about it.  It's not pigsty messy, but the dishes are piling up, and by the time I get home, I'm too tired to stand, let alone do the dishes.  I hate that I have to ask Gordon to do everything...he's so busy with work, football and trying to find some time to sleep.

I need to find a way to get out of the funk.  I think that the antibiotics may be having some effect on my energy level, but I'm just not sure.  I just want to not be and look so tired all of the time. 

Boo-hoo! :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Scary Moments

My dialysis catheter was infected for quite some time, and for some reason my body just keeps wanting to hang on to this infection.  I've had mega-doses of antibiotics for the past month, and I just can't seem to kick it. 

My nephrologist wants me to start coming to dialysis three times a week for the next few weeks, which I'm THRILLED about.  Great--I get to feel like death three times a week now instead of two! :)

So, last Saturday I went to dialysis for two hours.  Fine. 

Yesterday, I went again--my normal time.  I fell asleep for a bit and when I woke up, my first bag of antibiotics was done.  The nurse came in and was about to start my second bag when I started feeling really strange.  Completely out of control...  I couldn't breathe right, I started vomiting, had a SPLITTING headache and just felt not right.  My blood pressure tanked and was at 80/50, which is REALLY low for me.  The low blood pressure was the cause of the odd feeling.

They gave me some saline and stopped the antibiotics.  It all went away after a few minutes, but I was shot for the rest of the night. 

This morning, I woke up with every intention of heading to our 7 a.m. jazz ensemble class, but puked and puked in the shower.  Not good.  Our head football coach has offered to sit in with my students if I ever needed him to, and he graciously did this today.  It's nice to have support...and who knew it would come from the football coach?  He's a great guy.  We're fortunate to have him.

Good news...only 19 more dialysis treatments! :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Are You Okay?

So I throw up.  A lot.  It's a rare day when I don't at least dry heave several times a day.  (Like you all wanted to know that, but I'm telling you anyway.  And I do have a point...)

I'm not sure if it's the meds I'm on, or dialysis, or just a general state of not-well-being, but I feel nauseous most of the time. 

My vomiting episodes are usually started with a cough of some sort...let's call it the dry heave before the storm. :)  When I cough, my kids instantly ask, "Mom, are you okay?" 

This happened on Tuesday when Ian and I were on our way home from school.  I started gagging a bit and then started vomiting a bit.  After the episode was over, Ian asked, "Mom, are you okay?"

I started tearing up a bit and told him that what I'm most excited for about getting a new kidney is that my kids won't have to worry about me anymore.  I told him that, while I love that he's worried about me, and I know that he cares about me, it should be me that's worried about him.  The roles have been reversed for the past nine months.  I'm so ready to be a good mom again.

I love my children more than I can say.  They have been so strong and amazing through this whole thing.  It would be easy for them to complain and whine about how sick I am, but they don't.  I have been so blessed with the two most amazing kids any mom could ever ask for.  I hope someday we can look back on all of this with fond memories of how we grew together as a family.  It's what I wish for every single day.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Late Night

For some totally obscure reason, I couldn't sleep last night.  I think it was well past midnight by the time I actually fell asleep, and then it was a fitful sleep. 

I'm usually asleep by 9:00 or 9:30, so I miss the late night talk shows.  Last night, I was flipping through the channels and stopped on David Letterman's show.  He had Michael Douglas on, and I was intrigued by what he might talk about, as he was just recently diagnosed with throat cancer.

Of course, he was there to promote his new movie, so there was a lot of talk about that, but then Dave started asking him questions about his diagnosis and treatments.

I was a little taken aback by Michael Douglas' appearance.  He looked gaunt and like he'd lost some weight.  It was especially noticeable when they showed the clip of his movie, where he looked robust and healthy. 

As they started to talk about his treatments and his prognosis, I was impressed by his attitude.  He seemed very determined to fight it, and had a great outlook.  Instead of taking a "woe is me" attitude, he seemed almost "ho-hum" about the whole thing.  Now, I realize this may be an act, but it seemed genuine to me.

I feel confident in saying that this outlook will be his key to success.  I am again the proponent of saying that attitude determines EVERYTHING in life.  Cancer is a terrible thing, it reeks havoc on everything it comes in contact with, but how you face it determines how you will beat it.

I'm not really a fan of Michael Douglas' work...most of his movies are out of my ethical league...but I do hope he'll recover for the sake of his wife and children.  As I said before, if he beats it, it will be because of his great outlook.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I don't really have a lot to say today, but I wanted to say something, so here goes...

Friday is our first home football game, and I'm more than a little concerned. 

I'm not sure what it is this year, but it's just not coming together.  The students don't know their sets on the field, they don't know when they're supposed to move and when they're not, and the music isn't sounding as good as it was a few days ago.

I wish I knew what could make a difference.

I got pretty upset and disgusted at Tuesday's practice, and told the band that if they didn't shape up, they'd embarrass themselves on Friday.  I told them that they're not living up to the standards of the BMHS marching band. 

I think this may have lit a fire under some of them, as they've all called extra practices for today and tomorrow.  It goes back to what I tell my leaders--you can't MAKE students want to do better, they have to want to themselves.  No one can do it for you.  This is the most frustrating thing about being an educator.

I just don't want to put a "half-baked" product out there Friday.  It's just not acceptable for me. 

Meanwhile, I'm dialysis catheter free for today.  Not that it feels much different, as it's become such a part of me the past seven months.  It does feel weird to look down and not see tubes hanging out of my chest.  I wish I didn't have to go back tomorrow to get a new one put in.  If all goes as plan, I should only have 23 more dialysis treatments...but who's counting? :)

I just found out that I have a great sub that can take over while I'm out.  This is SUCH a relief!  I was really worried about what was going to happen while I was gone, as the only available music sub was asked not to come back last year.  I'm glad that I have someone I know I can count on.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Just Another Day in Paradise

I lost it today, and for really no reason at all...

Two weeks ago, while having my dialysis treatments, I started getting a fever and chills.  The nurse gave my Tylenol, and told me to go to the ER if the fever didn't go down.  I felt pretty lousy the next day, but not feverish, so I went about my day...

Next treatment, same thing...fever and chills.  They took some blood cultures at my catheter site to see if it was infected.  The nurse called me Saturday and told me that I needed to go to the ER right away to get IV antibiotics.  That was ER visit one.  I spent six hours there that day...luckily there was a "Star Wars" marathon on TV. :)

I got more antibiotics at dialysis the following Monday (August 16).  Tuesday was the day I broke my pinky toe--ER visit two.

Thursday (August 19)--dialysis, more antibiotics, and another set of blood cultures. 

Saturday, August 21 I had a band fundraiser and performance in Prescott all day.  Courtnie and I were together while Gordon took Ian to a football game in Flagstaff.  We left the event at 5:00 and went to do our shopping for the week.  My nephrologist called me while we were in Wal-Mart to tell me that my blood cultures came back positive for yet another infection.  (This makes three different types now...)  She told me I needed to head back to the ER for more antibiotics.  This makes ER trip three.

Yesterday (August 23) I was back at dialysis and getting more antibiotics when the nephrologist came by.  She said we'd need to remove my catheter, give it a few days to heal, and then put in a new one.

So...I woke up at 4:30 and headed out for the AKDHC surgical center in Phoenix.  I was SOOO tired!  Luckily, my good husband talked to me for a while to keep me awake.   I got to the center at 7:15, but didn't get taken back until 8:15.  I was ticked, as I needed to get back to school ASAP. 

They prepped me for the procedure, which involved cleaning the site and draping sterile towels over me.  The doctor then came in, gave me a few shots of lidocane to numb the area, (which HURT!!) and then started yanking and yanking on my catheter to remove it. 

I don't know if it was the pain, my tiredness, or just sheer exhaustion at having to go through this all, but I started to cry.  I lost it.  I just got tired of it all.  I wondered, yet again, when this was going to end. 

The doctor looked at me a little strangely when they took the towels off and saw my wet eyes.  It was all I could do to keep back the tears until they let me go and I could cry out loud in my truck.  I wondered again how much more of this I need to endure before I can just lead a relatively normal life.  I just want this to be over with.

I cried for a few minutes, then started for home.  I called my sister, Michelle, who cheered me up.  I'm so grateful for her...she listened to me, and even sent me a free Cold Stone! :)  She's so good to me, and has given so much to me already.  I'll never be able to repay her for the blessings she's given me and my family.  I'm so fortunate to have two great sisters who are also two of my best friends.

My catheter site is hurting pretty badly, but I'll live.  Thursday they will put a new one in, but this time I'll be under some kind of anesthesia--that should help.  I've been fortunate that my previous one has lasted so long, and I'm hoping this new one will make it until I can get my transplant in November.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Pinky Toe!!

Yesterday was an interesting day...

We were having a GREAT rehearsal outside when a storm came in.  Normally, I wouldn't move inside for a little storm, but we got a pretty close lightning strike, so I decided it was time.  (It was pretty funny to see all of the football players hit the deck when the lightning hit....)

We moved inside and had a great full band rehearsal.  Music is sounding really good, and my trumpets sounded strong, which is EXACTLY what we need for the music we're playing. (music from "The Mask of Zorro.")

I ended rehearsal at 5:00, and Gordon had ended football practice early, too, so we went to pick up our kids from the Primary bowling party at our local bowling alley.  They weren't quite ready to go, so we sat down in some chairs and waited. 

A friend walked by, and Gordon leaned back to talk to her.  While he was leaning back, my foot wandered over near his chair.  (wait for it...wait for it....)  When he got tired of leaning back, he leaned forward to put all 4 legs of the chair down, and one of the chair legs (with all of his weight) landed on my right foot. 

After screaming "OUCH!" pretty loudly, he removed the leg of the chair from my foot, which immediately started to swell and turn purple.  I sat there for a bit, trying to regain my composure.  Gordon apologized PROFUSELY, and I kept telling him to just be quiet.  A few minutes later, I tried to stand and walk, but it wasn't happening. 

Gordon carried me out of the bowling alley--"here comes the bride" style.  I was pretty embarrassed. 

We went to the ER, where I waited and waited and waited until they took me back for x-rays.  Meanwhile, I'm hurting and worried about what I'm going to do if it's broken...how can I drive, walk, cope? 

Turns out I broke my pinky toe.  Not much you can do for that.  They "buddy taped" my toes together and gave me a boot to walk in for the next couple of weeks just to stabilize things and make sure I don't re-injure it.  I look really cool, and it's SO easy to walk in! :)

So, I ask you...what's next? :)

Friday, August 13, 2010


I'm not sure I'm going to make it.

Every time I go to dialysis I get sick.  I feel nauseous and exhausted all of the time.  I'm so tired of feeling this way.

Last night I puked and puked and was so tired. 

Gordon looked at me this morning and asked if I can wait for my transplant until December.  I'm not sure that I can.  I think that perhaps the thing that's making it harder is that I know another option is out there.  Now that Michelle is a match, it's killing me to have to wait.

The problem is that I don't have ANYONE to take over marching band right now, and I just can't leave them high and dry.  I did that last year when I thought it wouldn't make a difference, and it just about drove me insane.  I felt so bad leaving the kids, and to them, this is their most important time.  I just wish I could clone myself and be in two places at once.

I just need to be done with all of this. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Things Will Work Out"

Another newsletter article.  Someday I'll start blogging again...promise...

Like so many of us, my mother-in-law has a water and ice dispenser in her refrigerator door. As she lives in Chandler, and I always seem to be thirsty when I'm there, I'm at her refrigerator a lot. As I fill my cup, I read the various clippings and sayings she has on her door. The one that has been up there the longest is this one by President Gordon B. Hinkley:

"Keep trying. Be believing. Be happy. Don’t get discouraged. Things will work out.”

This simple statement stays with me long after I've quenched my thirst. To me, it is the essence of why we're here on the earth, and the key to our success.

We live in trying times. It is so easy to get discouraged when we look around us and see the state of the world in which we live. It is easy to wallow in misery when we think of our trials and how difficult life can be at times. That is exactly what the adversary wants us to do, and he delights when we are miserable.

We have been told that our purpose on earth is to be happy. We have also been told that we will be tried and tested while on the earth. How we choose to react to difficult times is the true measure of a successful life. We may not get to choose what happens to us, but we ALWAYS have a choice as to how we react.

A positive attitude, faith in Jesus Christ, and keeping an "eternal perspective" will get us through the trying times with flying colors. I believe with complete conviction that things will work out for our benefit. I know that our trials make us stronger people, better members of the Church, and more readily equipped to empathize with those around us.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Finding Peace

The Ward Newsletter article I wrote this month.  (After I'd watched the Star Wars marathon on Spike.) :)

One of my fondest childhood memories came at a time when I was very ill. I had cancer as a child, and my mom would have to drive me two hours each way to the hospital so that I could receive my chemotherapy treatments. It was difficult for her to do this, especially with four other children at home.

We were on our way home one evening in the summer of 1980 when--out of nowhere--my mom pulled off the freeway and into a movie theater. We went in, just the two of us, and watched "The Empire Strikes Back." To this day, this movie holds fond memories for me, not only because of the time I got to spend with my mom, but because of the message of this great movie.

I have seen this movie probably fifty times since, and each time I am amazed at how meaningful it is. I am particularly struck by the scenes where Luke is learning the ways of the Force. This passage from the movie has particular meaning for us:

Yoda: Yes, run! Yes, a Jedi's strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan's apprentice.
Luke: Vader... Is the dark side stronger?
Yoda: No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.
Luke: But how am I to know the good side from the bad?
Yoda: You will know... when you are calm, at peace, passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, NEVER for attack.

We live in troubled times. It is sometimes all we can do to ask for peace in our lives. When we are at peace, the Spirit can be a powerful "force" in our lives. If we are quick to anger, quick to accuse and become offended easily, we become trapped in a vicious cycle. This cycle can be difficult to get out of, and we can lose that inner peace. It is always easier to get upset and become angry, but if we take time to use the Spirit in our dealings with others, conflicts will be resolved in a way that will creating lasting peace.

I know that we can all find the inner peace we desire. I pray that we can recognize the Spirit in our lives and the sweet feelings it brings to us.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Blah, blah, blah...

For those of you who don't know, it's been an interesting few weeks...

I started my testing at Mayo Clinic mid-April, and had four days of testing. I would drive back and forth to Phoenix each day--about a 75 minute trip each way. I did this because I was directing the music for our school's musical, so I needed to be back each night.

Thursday night I wasn't feeling so hot--in fact, I vomited all of my dinner back up when I got home from opening night of the musical. Sick. I then had to get up at 4:30 a.m. Friday morning to get to Phoenix by 6:30 for my first test. I vomited my cereal up on the way down. Sick again. I knew I was in trouble.

I had a heart stress test which again, made me vomit. My blood pressure was 230/130, a tad high. They sent me to the ER at Mayo for evaluations, and then checked me in to the hospital. Little did I know I'd be there for NINE days!! They were the longest nine days of my life, as I was so lonely. The kids were in school, Gordon was working, so I spent most of the time alone while they tried to figure out how to get my blood pressure under control. One day it would be super high, the next really low. Frustrating... The doctor was trying to get me off of one of my blood pressure meds he considered especially evil. This turned out to be a big mistake.

Finally got to check out on Sunday, just as I was about to go crazy! We went to Gordon's mom's house to pick up the kids and ate dinner with them. It was good to see the family. :)

I decided I needed to go to school the next day--big mistake. I felt like garbage, and didn't really do much good. I needed to finalize some things with my students, and we had some good talks. Decided not to go to Disneyland this year (we were slated to go next week.) This was a hard decision, but I just didn't want to go and get sick.

Monday night I vomited again, and continued to do so most of the night. I seriously thought I'd see my shoes in the bowl. We went to the ER on Tuesday, my blood pressure was high again and I couldn't keep anything down. They pumped me full of fluids, gave me some anti-nausea meds and I was feeling better, so we went home.

The "feeling better" part didn't last very long. I was sick again the next few days. Blood pressure was high, and nausea wouldn't stop. I went to my primary care doctor Thursday afternoon and she checked me into the hospital again. This time they put me on a blood pressure patch, which releases meds into my system gradually, and will continue to do so even if I can't keep anything else down.

It's working. I spent two days in the hospital and have felt fine ever since. I'm so grateful!

While I was so sick last week, I decided that going back to work this year just wasn't going to be the best thing for me. I feel awful about leaving my students, but I just have to do what's going to be the best for me right now. I need to stay as healthy as possible so that I can be ready for my transplant this summer. It's been hard to stay home and worry about them, but I know they will be okay. If I can get through this time, I'll be so much better off next year.

Just want the transplant to happen NOW!! Patience has never been my strong suit, but I'm working on it... :)

Monday, April 12, 2010


Guess what?

I get to begin testing for my new kidney on Wednesday!! I got a call from Mayo Clinic on Friday while I was in musical rehearsal. I wasn't able to call them back until this morning, but when I did she said they have an opening for me to begin this Wednesday. I'm so excited! This means there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

The only down side is that the testing is going to take four days, which means I'll be out even more days from school. I don't have any more sick days left, so every day I'm gone is almost $100 out of my paycheck. It will all be worth it, but it's hard to take that kind of a hit every time I'm out for dialysis, or for this testing...

I feel really good about this. I know that it's the right thing for me to do. Now I just need to be patient. My nephrologist said the shortest time he's ever seen from testing to transplant is three months. I'm hoping to break that record...it would be nice to get it done right as soon as school is out so I can have the maximum time to heal before band camp starts up!

Anyway--good news! Thanks for all of your prayers and good wishes...they mean more to me than you know!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Love, Love, Love

My mom told me to write happier blogs...so here you go: :)

I went to dialysis yesterday and took Ian's iPod. He saved up all of his money for a little over a year and finally decided what he wanted to spend it on. He's had a lot of fun trying to find all of the little silly free apps you can get online. I played Tetris until my bloood pressure started going up because I was frustrated!

For one reason or another, I've missed all of the episodes of "Survivor" this season. I'm a "Survivor" junkie, so this has been difficult for me. I decided to look on iTunes to see if I could download episodes, and...sure enough...you can buy the entire season for $17.00. So I did. :) Yesterday while at dialysis I watched four episodes, and the time went by SO quickly! (I actually watched the fourth episode while driving home, but don't tell anyone...)

I love "Survivor." I actually love most reality TV shows. I guess you could call it my escape from reality. I love how "Survivor" is a microcosm of life--you make alliances with people, you betray people to get ahead, and sometimes the "villain" wins. It's an interesting show for me to watch, and my kids love it, too so we get to enjoy it together, which is fun.

Last night was "Lennon and McCartney" night on American Idol. Also very fun. Any Beatles song reminds me of my mom. It also reminds me of the trip we took to California one summer when we couldn't get any radio stations in and the only cassette tape we had was the Beatles. So guess what we listened to for at least four hours? Does anyone wonder why I know all of the lyrics to all of their songs? (At least their hits.)

I had a great trip to Utah last weekend. It was nice to be with my family--I've missed them while I've been sick. My grandpa, dad, uncle, brother-in-law, and husband were able to give me a priesthood blessing. My dad blessed me to know that my Heavenly Father loves me and that in His time my health would be restored. He also blessed me with patience...something that I've struggled with the last few months.

My grandpa told me a story that I didn't remember. He said that while I was sick with cancer, he and my grandma took me to visit my great-grandparents. After the visit, on the way home, my health declined quickly and my grandparents knew they needed to get me to a hospital. My grandpa said that at the time he wondered if it was worth it to keep fighting for my health when I was suffering and so sick. He said that when he looks back on that and then looks at where I am now--with a loving husband and two amazing kids--he knows it was worth every painful minute. I know it, too.

From this weekend, I've learned that:
1. I need to be patient
2. I have an amazing family
3. I have a Heavenly Father that loves me
4. I'll be all right--when the time is right

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

After All

Courtnie came home yesterday with a note from her teacher telling me that she'd like to meet with me about Courtnie's progress. After giving Courtnie the third degree about why she wanted to meet, we came to really no conclusion.

I have been so tired after school that I usually just go to bed and let the kids fend for themselves on their homework. Gordon helps when needed, but we haven't been checking their homework and monitoring their school work like we should.

Turns out Courtnie's work has been slipping. Her handwriting isn't as good as it used to be and her grades are taking a nose dive. When I talked to her teacher this morning, she told me that Courtnie seems distracted--especially before spring break, which was the time I was so sick and in the hospital.

I started to cry because the last thing I want is for my illness to affect my family. This is killing me. Courtnie is such a smart girl, and can do the work with one hand tied behind her back. She's never let on that she's worried about me--she's always been easy-going, cheerful Courtnie. For those reasons, it never occurred to me that it would bother her at school.

Her teacher was very understanding, and had no idea what was going on at home. I should have told her so that she could keep a special eye on her, but for whatever reason, I didn't. Now that she knows, she said that she'd try to keep her focused. Luckily, I'm feeling SO much better and can be a better mom now.

I feel awful. I know there's nothing I could have done about it, but I want to maintain some degree of normalcy so badly. I'm hoping things will be different from here on out.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I woke up this morning at 6 a.m. with a screaming headache. I tried my usual relaxation techniques to get rid of it, but they didn't work today. (Bill will remember the relaxation techniques...remember that workshop we went to when we were in high school? "What color is your headache? What shape is your headache? If you held a candle up to it, could you see through it?")

So I got out of bed and took a pain pill. Maybe I'm addicted. I sure hope not. That would be one MORE thing to have to deal with! :)

I went to dialysis yesterday and forgot to take my blood pressure meds first. BAD move! My initial blood pressure reading was 195/105. YIKES! It goes down a little once they start dialysis, but that was still scary. As a result--yep--you guessed it--I threw up a bunch when it was all over. I felt so stupid. I just can't forget to take my meds. I felt awful all of the way home. I got home and took my meds and felt better right away. I suppose that's the answer to why I would get so nauseous. High blood pressure=throwing up.

The best part about not feeling so well is that Gordon came to bed with me and we snuggled most of the night. We watched "Steel Magnolias," which is one of our favorite movies ever. Gordon says it's the only "chick flick" he can actually stand. The one-liners from that movie are priceless, and I use them all of the time. My favorites: "You are evil, and you must be destroyed" and "you are a pig from HELL!"

About the time when Shelby starts dialysis is when Courtnie left the room. She said, "I don't like this movie anymore." I guess it hit home for her. She's seen it before and knew what happened to Shelby when her kidney transplant failed.

That hit home for me, too. As much as I'm looking forward to getting a kidney transplant, there's the possibility that it might fail. There's always going to be the unknown, I suppose. The "what ifs" in life keep things interesting. Maybe that's why that man at the dialysis center I go to has been on dialysis for 15 years...he's scared of the "what ifs." I know that I will have good doctors that will monitor things for me very carefully and if I am good to my body, it will be good to me. I also know that I have WAY too much work to do yet on this earth and I'm not ready to be done yet. I need to see Ian off on a mission, Courtnie getting married, and holding and taking care of my grand babies. That means I've got to be around for another 30 years at least!

I'm not going anywhere!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Info About Being a Kidney Donor

So--a friend suggested that I post my blood type on my blog so that those interested in possibly getting screened as a kidney donor have that information.

I have A+ blood. (I wish that meant I was super smart...) ;) This means that you can only donate a kidney to me if you have A or O blood type. Evidently the + or - doesn't really make a difference. There are other tests that need to be done to determine if our tissue types match, and other criteria. Here's a really great website with some good info on being a kidney donor:


I found it very helpful...glad this friend sent it my way.

On a funnier note...one of my friends has offered to donate a kidney to me. She's a devout Catholic, so she said if I used her kidney, I'd be part-Catholic. I told her that would be an honor...I've always found the Catholic religion to be beautiful. ;0)

Love to all,

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Why ME?" Answered

I just got home from the hospital and was looking forward to a GREAT night sleep in my OWN bed.

Unfortunately, I'm having trouble falling asleep, so I'm on my second blog of the night.

I got on Facebook to see what's up with my homies. I had six friend requests...woo hoo! One of them was from a friend I had back in 2nd grade. She said she'd been looking for me for the past 25 years. She and I were best friends and I used to stay the night at her house.

This would have been the time when I had cancer, and I don't remember much about that time. I've blocked out most of the memories. We also moved at least 10 times between the time I was born and we moved to Utah when I was nine, so cities, schools, and friends blend together.

She said she'd been looking for me all of this time because I made such an impression on her, even when I was that young. Another boy from our 2nd grade class was also looking for me and they happened to find me at the same time. (He also added me as a friend tonight.)

Last Sunday in church, the Relief Society lesson was given by our president. She gave it on finding blessings through trials. She asked something about examples of people who have overcome adversity. One of my good friends raised her hand and talked about me. She said that she has been so impressed with mine and Gordon's testimony and faith that things will get better. Our attitude, she said, has been an inspiration to her. Others commented and shared the same sentiment.

I said that I'm just one little person trying to stay positive. I don't mean to influence people, I'm just trying to muddle through. Someone else said that I am having a huge influence. Then my good friend Debbie said, "Maybe that's the answer to 'why me?'"

Since that comment, I've been thinking a lot about "why me?" Perhaps the reason I'm going through this is to help others. I've been through a lot in my life, and all along the way people tell me that I've inspired them or caused them to think about their own life. Perhaps I'm a teacher of more than just music.

I don't mean to sound arrogant about this--I'd give anything to not have to go through what I'm going through. If I can help someone through their trials by my example, then maybe it's worth it.

One of the nurses commented about my remarkable attitude while I was in the hospital. I told him that I believe 100% that it's the only choice we have in this life. Attitude is the only thing we have complete control over. We don't get to choose what happens to us a lot of the time, but we do get to choose how we react to it. I know that the attitude I choose to have affects so much of how I feel and how others around me feel.

I'm grateful for this choice. I hope I can continue to help others through my trials. (Don't get me wrong...I'd still like to not have them!) :)

Incoherent Thoughts

I knew something was really wrong when I couldn't finish my cereal Wednesday morning.

I needed to take my students to a jazz festival Wednesday, so I bucked up and went to school. The students played really well--we received the only "Excellent" rating of the whole year, so I was STOKED! We stopped to eat in Anthem at the food court, and all I could eat was a couple of pretzel sticks.

I got home later that afternoon and went straight to bed. Gordon came home and asked what he could make me for dinner. I thought that tacos sounded good, so he made them for me...fresh taco shells and all. They came back up about 15 minutes later.

I vomited and vomited the rest of the night. I can't ever remember feeling so sick. My heart was racing and I just couldn't get comfortable. I think I may have dozed off for a bit around 4:00 a.m.

Gordon came home from work and took me straight to the ER. They tried to put in an IV for about 30 minutes before finally finding a vein in the knuckle of my ring finger on my right hand. They pumped some fluids in me and sent me home about six hours later. We stopped at Costco to fill a new anti-nausea medication and I got so hot that I took my shirt off and rode the rest of the way home semi-naked. THAT must have been a sight. I can only imagine what Gordon was thinking...

Another "vomitous" night took place Thursday. By this time, I was just vomiting everywhere...on my bed, in the kitchen sink. I even threw up into the bag that contains all of my medications. (They're all ruined now...GREAT!) I knew I wouldn't make it to school again on Friday, so I told Gordon I needed to call in for a sub. Evidently I tried to make a phone call using the TV remote. I then found my phone and threw up all over it. (Luckily it still works!)

Gordon took me back to the ER Friday and luckily we had a new doctor who actually listened to us. He admitted me right away and the hospital staff worked on getting me "equilibrilized" quickly. I didn't really know where I was, what year or month it was, who my kids' teachers are or what school they attend. Gordon tells me that he was so scared. I'm usually a stickler for details, so I can only imagine.

It took until Saturday for me to start to get back to normal. I'll never forget Gordon's eyes when he kissed me and said, "Thanks for coming back to me."

I had a great doctor--not my own--who was diligent in checking on me...even on Sunday. I was so impressed with his care for me. He ordered a bunch of tests, including a couple of GI tests that weren't so pleasant. I had an endoscopy done on Monday...not too bad. I enjoyed being "sedated" for the test. (A nice feeling after being so sick!) Tuesday I had a test that involved a radioactive hard boiled egg. I HATE eggs! They make me sick! I choked down the egg and then had to lay on a table for 90 minutes so that they could watch it digest. Turns out one of my big problems may be that I don't digest food fast enough. They prescribed the drug Reglan today and it helped a great deal. We'll see... The doctor also prescribed Valium and Zofran (an anti-nausea medication) for me to take before going to dialysis...just in case my nausea relating to dialysis is psychosomatic. (Which it very well may be. I am a little goofy!)

I had a couple of difficult days in the hospital. Days when I wondered if it was worth it at all. They put a central line in my neck because I don't have any veins to speak of at all, and it stopped giving blood on Monday. In come the phlebotomists who mean well and I know are just doing their job, but have no clue what it's like to be me. I got poked nine times Monday morning and they all hurt like hell. I've got nine lovely bruises on my arms to show for it. After that torture I called Gordon and told him that I didn't think my Heavenly Father loved me anymore. I felt like I had nothing to show for it. I know that's not true, but it sure did feel like it at the time. I have to admit that I've felt on more than one occasion that He's forgotten about me.

So, I'm home today. It feels so good. I enjoyed my Streets of New York pizza and snuggling Courtnie on the couch while watching "Twister" on TV. I love my family so much. Whenever I wonder if it's all worth it, I know that it is because I have two beautiful children and an amazing husband who (for whatever reason) want me around. During my darkest times, I can hold fast to that.

Friday, March 5, 2010


I'm tired of...

...people asking me how I'm doing with pity in their eyes
...people telling me that I look tired
...throwing up
...having to take huge pills before I eat anything
...not feeling like eating anything
...not being able to eat what I want
...my kidneys not cooperating
...not having the stamina or desire to make it through the day
...being so tired all of the time
...going to dialysis
...not being able to help out around the house
...feeling guilty because my husband is doing everything
...lacking concentration to get menial tasks done

I'm ready to get better now! Hello?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lacking faith?

Tuesday while I was getting my dialysis treatment, the nephrologist came by on his bi-weekly "rounds." I guess he figures we've got little else to do while attached to a machine that is sucking out your blood. ;)

He's a nice guy, always smiling. He seems like he cares, but is a little distant. Yesterday he asked me how I was doing and if I needed anything. Jokingly, I said, "Well, I could use some new kidneys." He laughed and said that that would be helpful! He asked if I wanted to start the transplant process, and I said that I was ready. His point--and it's a good one--is that if we get the process going and my kidneys kick in, we just stop the process. No harm done.

In January, I received a priesthood blessing that my kidneys would regain their normal function. While I remain positive and hopeful, I know that as time passes, so does the chance of that happening. I know that I have the Lord on my side, and I know that He's looking out for me.

So--does the fact that I'm proceeding with the transplant mean I'm lacking faith? This is the issue that I've been struggling with for the past few weeks. I want to receive blessings and to show that I have faith in Him and the healing powers of blessings, but I want so badly to be healthy. I feel like a transplant may be my only option. Did the blessing that I'd have normal kidney function mean that it would be with someone else's kidney?

As Courtnie often says, "These are the questions that haunt me."

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Let me explain, no--wait--there is too much, let me sum up

It's Tuesday, the day I go to dialysis. My sweet husband took the kids to school for me so that I could sleep in a bit longer, but I can't sleep. OF COURSE! I need to leave in an hour or so, so I thought I'd take this time to update my blog.

It's been a long time. I don't really have much of an excuse for not writing, other than I'm tired all of the time. I take six different medications a day, and four of them say "may cause drowsiness" on the label. I don't really have much of a fighting chance. :)

It's been two and a half months since my kidneys shut down. I like to tell people that they're on vacation, since I'm still hopeful that they will come back to me. The truth is that I don't know if they will. I received a blessing from our bishop that asked for them to be restored to normal function, but I know it is God's will if that will happen. I don't know if I just lack faith or what, but I have moments when I wonder what He's waiting for. I know that He knows me. I know that He knows I'm tired of struggling. I'm trying so hard.

(See, now...you've made me cry. It's hard to see the computer screen when you're crying...)

I've lost 25 pounds. That may sound like a good thing if you were "pleasantly plump" like me. Unfortunately, it just means that I can't eat. Dialysis makes you feel full all of the time, and for me it makes me nauseous the majority of the time. I throw up almost daily. Gordon and I consider it a personal triumph if I make it through the day without vomiting. Funny how your perspective changes when you're sick. I used to need to worry about what I ate, now I have to worry about eating at all.

When I was in the lobby of the dialysis center on Saturday waiting to go in, another patient and I started talking. He's 33 years old and has been on dialysis for 15 years. His kidneys stopped working when he was 15 and his mom took him out of school so she could take care of him. Before his kidneys shut down, he was a star athlete and a good student. He missed his prom, his high school graduation--all of it. In the beginning of his treatments, they gave him chemotherapy that made him sterile. He told me that all he ever wanted was a family--four boys and one girl.

Sitting and talking to him made me realize that I really don't have it that bad. That's the thing about life...whenever you think you've got it bad, you meet someone who has it worse.

I can't say enough wonderful things about my husband. He has been my rock. He takes such good care of me and NEVER complains. They say that a marriage only works when each person gives 100%. Right now, Gordon is giving so much more. He is making up for my shortcomings. He has been both mother and father at times. He tells me to go to bed and to rest when I know he is so tired. He makes dinner, does the laundry and dishes and cleans up after everyone. He has been amazing. In the 18 years we've been married, I've never loved him more.

I'm grateful for all I have. As miserable as I feel sometimes, I have faith that it will get better. I have been touched by the number of people who have told me that they're praying for me. Many people have even offered me their kidney, which is more than a little generous. I'm in awe of the love people have shown for me. It's buoyed me up when I've been down and it means more to me than they will ever know.

So, it's off to dialysis. My sister Michelle said that you can watch a dialysis treatment on YouTube. I don't know that I'd want to sit at a computer screen for four hours! It might be interesting at the beginning, though...who knows.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Update to students

Hey gang,

I'm sorry this has taken so long to get to you. I still don't know how coherent it will be--I'm on some medications that make me REALLY sleepy, but I'll do my best.

As most of you know, I had a surgery on December 21 to bypass my aorta and get better blood flow to my legs. This surgery is going to make my life so much better! The surgery was successful, and the surgeon feels that everything went as planned.

As I was recuperating in the hospital, my surgeon came in with some bad news. He said that my blood work was showing that my kidneys were failing. Two days later I started on dialysis and have been having those treatments three times a weeks since then.

We are hopeful that the dialysis treatments will "wake up" my kidneys and that this will be just a temporary thing. For those of you who don't know, the kidneys filter all of the bad stuff out of your blood, so when they're not working, the bad stuff builds up. A dialysis machine takes all of the blood out of my body, filters it, and then puts it back in. The treatments leave me tired, but are supposed to get better.

Until my kidneys start working again, I won't be able to come back to work. It's killing me (not literally, but emotionally) to not be with you all. I am SO grateful for those of you who have made the best out of a situation that is not ideal. I was disappointed to hear that a few of our band leaders chose to skip out on band last week. I hope you know that what Mr. Morgan is doing is for the best...always. He cares for the band and wants you to do well. I am grateful for him. As we all say, "Man up, and move on."

I'll do my best to keep you updated. I sleep most of the time, but am slowly starting to get my energy back. Thanks so much for your positive attitudes and for working to get it done in my absence.