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!!