Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tolan and I just spent the last couple of days at the Marriott Ihilani. It is a beautiful hotel and our room had a large lanai overlooking the ocean. We spent hours talking, eating and looking at the ocean and listening to the waves. It doesn't get any more perfect than that. Even when it rained today, we enjoyed the surroundings. Outside our room were ponds, one with sting rays, the other full of hammer head sharks. The grounds were exquisite and the lagoon bays were picture perfect.
I feel stronger and healthier now than I have in over a year. Tolan and I went out each day for "power walks" and we went all over the property and shore walkways. We explored, talked and enjoyed the scenery, stopping to check out the tide pools and bays. Yesterday we laid on the beach and read books...and slept on the beach! So relaxing and wonderful!
This is truly a paradise, and for me, it has been rejuvenating in so many ways. I hope to go home feelings stronger and better than ever! My love to all!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
As a mother who preferred a clean hospital room to a stable, I believe it would have been disheartening and difficult to have such conditions. Surely Mary would have preferred the warmth and comfort of a room in the inn, but being an obedient, faithful, daughter of God, she humbly accepted the opportunity of motherhood and took her place in the stable. In order for her child, the literal son of God, to descend beneath all of mankind, so, too, did Mary, as she laid down amongst the animals for the sacred birth.
But being receptive to her calling, Mary did not see her condition as a trial, but as a blessing which allowed her to become a mother.
LDS Church scholar Susan Easton Black said that from the scriptures we learn, Mary’s son, Jesus, inherited “the physical, mental, and spiritual traits of his parents—one, the glorified God; the other, a worthy, blessed mortal woman.” Could Mary have had such blessings without experiencing the trials in her life?
Jesus was our perfect example, and he learned much at the hand of his righteous mother, yet even He had to suffer pain, injustice, beating and eventual death before His mortal mission was fulfilled. He knew suffering, though He did no wrong. We, as imperfect mortals, cannot hope to escape life without a bitter swallow here and there.
The amazing truth that Jesus Christ knew is that our trials are not meant to torture us or beat us down but are blessings meant to allow us opportunities for learning, growth and miracles!
This has been a year of many miracles for me and my family. We feel so blessed to KNOW the truth about our Savior, Jesus Christ, and to have been blessed by Him and our Heavenly Father. As we say Merry CHRISTmas this year, know that we mean it in the core sense of the word. May you be blessed with the spirit of CHRIST this season. May you have faith, hope, love and miracles surround you. May you serve others as He did and learn what the pure love of Christ is all about this CHRISTmas.
I love you all, more than you know. Thank you for making my whole year a season of CHRISTmas.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
10. The "IV" only diet guarantees you will lose at least 15% of your body weight in just 5 weeks!
9. You can experiment with short and long hair styles on the same day.
8. If you forget someone's name, you can blame it on your missing brain.
7. People can call you metal head, air head and fat head without offense.
6. You can play the "Brain tumor card" to get out of any assignment at work or church.
5. You can be on the cutting edge of eye patch fashion trends.
4. You can sit around and watch movies all day and call it "recovering".
3. You are not only allowed, but encouraged to eat "whatever sounds good" to you.
2. When people call you "crooked" you can take it as a compliment.
1. Miracles are no longer scriptural terminology, but daily events!
There are always reasons to be grateful! My love and gr'attitude to all of you!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
This week as I was preparing to speak at the PCC, the thought occurred to me that perhaps gratitude should have been a contraction, a combination of the words GREAT and ATTITUDE. That is just what it takes to be able to be truly grateful for all that we have in life, both the good and the "bad". We must exercise this gr'attitude in order to turn any situation into a good one. (Be like "Polyanna" and play the Glad Game. :)
On our flight here Sunday, our airplane broke down, which caused a 5-hour delay, before we took off on the 7-hour trip. We had already boarded and were prepared to take off when the announcement was made and we all unloaded the plane. My kids were moaning from the start. I looked at them and told them that there is no point in getting mad at something that is beyond our control, whether brain tumors or broken planes, we can still make the best of it if we try.
And so that is exactly what we did. My parents pulled out the games, I withdrew the snack bags from the bag pack, and we played, all afternoon. :) We received meal vouchers so we went and had a big meal and were able to purchase lots of snacks for the flight. A very kind gentleman took my little ones on a cart and rode them around the airport as they exclaimed "Aloha, we're going to Hawaii." It was actually a very good day and the children did remarkably well considering we left for the airport at 9am and didn't arrive at my parents' home in Hawaii until 2am Utah time.
So, was it a trial or blessing that our flight was delayed? It all depends on your perspective, and of course, your gr'attitude. :)
Friday, December 18, 2009
As my Mom and I went to the PCC for the meeting in which I gave my talk, I honestly thought that there can't be a more beautiful place on the Earth. The Polynesian Cultural Center grounds are simply stunning and more like paradise than just about anywhere else. The meeting, a PCC Christmas meeting on gratitude, was absolutely wonderful. All of the speakers and performers were fantastic. I was brought to tears many times throughout the meeting, feeling the CHRISTmas spirit in the words and music. I feel so blessed to have been there.
I spoke directly following a DVD presentation - a DVD that was created for me by the good people at the PCC when I was in the hospital over the summer. Watching it was both difficult and good for me, but it made it hard for me to stand with dry eyes. My remarks were also on gratitude, and seeing that I have so much to be grateful for this year, I could have gone on forever, but then the audience wouldn't have been happy, so I kept it to about 15 minutes. :)
I couldn't possibly keep my emotions in check on this one, but it was OK and seemed to help them understand a little more from my perspective. We tried to get some pictures of the event that I will post later. Overall it was a great meeting and I was honored to have been a part of it.
Later in the day I took the boys back to the PCC and we got shaved ice and played some games. I love it there. I could stay all day, just walking around, enjoying the beauty.
After that, the kids wanted to go to the beach, so their uncles, Michael and Brandon took us to Castle Beach, where they helped teach the kids to boogie board. (They offered to give surf lessons, but my guys were a little gun shy when they saw the waves.) After much time sitting on the side watching, I decided I would attempt to get in.
I had to go in without eye protection and I was worried about getting salt water in my eye, but the conditions were just right so Michael and I paddled out on boogie boards and rode the waves for a while. Then we paddled some more and two giant sea turtles were within a few feet of us! It was amazing!
Later in the evening, Michael and I went on a walk with my little Daven. We walked over the LDS Temple grounds and went to the Visitor's Center, which was decorated with more than a dozen CHRISTmas trees. There was a slight breeze and it was refreshing and wonderful.
All in all, it was a near perfect day, with one exception, my dear Tolan is not here. He is still home in the cold and snow of Utah. If he had been here, it would have been a perfect day. Without him, it was close to perfection, but something was missing... :)
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Well, today I got the official word from Dr. Couldwell's office and I was told that everything looks good and I don't have to have another MRI for a year! That is even better than I would have anticipated! I don't have any more details than that because the information was left on my voice mail, so I wasn't able to ask questions and they didn't leave any more insider's information.
I think the feelings I've had have been a peace the Lord has blessed me with to know that I am getting better. I haven't worried about the tumor regrowing or future problems, I have just felt good about things. This peace has helped me to enjoy this beautiful CHRISTmas season without the turmoil and angst of wondering what was happening inside my head. (Thanks to my friend, Jason, whose use of the word CHRISTmas inspired me!)
Now I can put that behind me and move on with my CHRISTmas celebrations..oh yeah, did I mention I am enjoying those celebrations in Hawaii? :)
It's fun and wonderful to find warmth and love here in the Aloha state. I'm thoroughly enjoying my days on the beach and at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC). In fact, Thursday morning at 9am, I am speaking at the PCC. My topic: Gratitude. I could talk forever about that one...I have much to be grateful for! :)
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
There is a warmth I love more than the strength and power of the sun, and that is the warmth and peace I feel from the love of my Savior. His spirit brings me joy that fills my whole being, and bursts out from me like rays shooting out from the sun. I can feel it when I hear the truth...in song, in scripture and in testimony. It warms me and tears well up in my eyes as my soul overflows with the waters of the gospel.
My friend, new to the gospel of Christ, told me that when she goes to church, she wants to cry the whole time she is there. At my home, listening to the scriptures and testimonies of Christ, she said her whole body felt "full" and "warm" and again, she wanted to cry. That feeling, the power of overwhelming love and comfort brings warmth to my life and carries me through my dark storms.
This month, I am seeking warmth. I am leaving the cold and seeking the warmth so that it may touch my skin, my body, my heart, my soul and my spirit. Will you join me? We can leave today and journey together. :)
Saturday, December 12, 2009
I was lying in a hospital bed, attempting to eat small bites of actual food, not "IV Nutrition" fed through tubes.
The pain was intense, but lessened from it's peak.
Loving company surrounded me and helped buoy my spirit.
Therapists came and tried to teach me to walk again. Not something you forget, but definitely something you need to practice.
Walking spiked a headache; I "hurried" to my room to rest.
Thoughts of my home kept coming to my mind... When will I go home to my family? Will I be able to be Mom again soon? Will my kids understand my limitations? Will they know that I want to pick them up and hug them, but I simply cannot? Will they get used to my new appearance and accept me as I am now? Will they ever know how much I really love them?
It was so long ago, and yet just yesterday in my mind. Six months ago, I was nearing the end of the first phase of my tumor journey, I was preparing to leave the hospital, all 93 pounds of me that was left. I was weak, but I was strong.
Today I am safe at home surrounded by love and comforts enough to spare. Life can change in an instant. Someday I will be able to get through a day without thinking about "all of this", but that is not today. Only in time will my trials become my past. For now, they are my daily reality and the fuel behind the fire that keeps me going. Six months ago I was healing, today I am healing still.
This post was inspired by Stephanie Clark Nielson's blog, www.nieniedialogues.blogspot.com . Her flashback post prompted my own reflections on time.
Friday, December 11, 2009
See Jason's story at http://www.jasonslifeisgood.blogspot.com/ . Please say extra prayers for him and his family. Just 6 months ago, I was in the hospital fighting for my life. Jason has been fighting for his life for 5 years! Please pray for him, his doctors and the medical staff.
Let's all make a miracle for Jason! Thanks. Love you all. Jodi
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Saturday evening the kids got to open their traditional Christmas Eve gift, a new pair of PJs. These gifts inspired some Kung Fu fighting at our house, since Casen's new jammies reminded everyone of a ninja. :) After the fighting was over, I let all the kids decorate their own cakes for Christmas. I made several colors of frosting and we all made fabulous cake creations. It was a fun night with cute jammies and the kids were excited for their Christmas the next day!
The kids opening their Christmas Eve presents!
A little kung fu fighting anyone??
Lots of wiggles and excitement on Christmas Eve!
Decorating cakes for the big day! Lots of fun colors to choose from!
All the cake creations on display!
Getting ready for Christmas day!
Christmas was a wonderful day for all of us. We went to church, then came home and had our celebration in the evening. Tolan's parents, Larry and Kay, joined us for the festivities and brought presents to add to our stack. I was a little worried that the kids wouldn't think it felt like Christmas, but after a few minutes of tearing into gifts and getting wrapping paper everywhere, it seemed just right. It was truly a wonderful time for our family!
The peace and quiet before the big event.
What is it with packaging these days? Mom and dad had to use scissors and knives to get the gifts out of the boxes for the kids! Geesh!
Trenden showing off his new game.
Casen dancing with Grandpa Brown watching merrily on the couch.
Me and my sweetheart, cuddling on the couch.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
My wonderful, selfless, loving neighbor Cami H., took Casen and Daven for me (again!) for what would turn out to be a very long trip to the doctor's office! Larry and I were on the road for just about 2 hours (more than double our normal time). I missed my appointment time, but luckily, so did everyone else!
The news is that I have an abrasion on my cornea, which in combination with the dryness my eye experiences because I cannot blink, has caused my sensitivity to light (photophobia). Dr. Kim put me on an antibiotic ointment to help the abrasion heal, and instructe me to keep my eye covered or closed as much as possible so it can heal. He wants to see me again on Thursday, though I just don't know if that is possible with my schedule this week. He said I am not a candidate for the prosthetic contact lenses because of the paralysis not allowing my eye to blink or produce tears. The contact would literally get stuck to my dry eye and cause damage.
What took me by surprise was the emotion that came over me when I saw Dr. Kim. Each time I see the doctors who helped me through the darkest times in my life, I can't help but feel affection and gratitude. Thank you, Dr. Kim and the Moran Eye Center folks!
My favorite part of the day came just after my appointment. My dear friend Jason is in the hospital and I went to visit him as soon as I was through. The crazy thing is, Jason is one of my best friends, but we had never met, until TODAY! When I saw him and his wife, Steph, I was overcome with emotion! The hug from Steph felt like we had known each other for years. When I hugged Jason for the first time, I could not stop the tears.
Jason and Steph are two of my heroes. They have inspired me in ways that I could never have imagined. I am truly a better person because of them. The few minutes we had together were wonderful, but not enough. I look forward to having a get together again, next time with the two couples together, as friends and survivors, just talking about life! Thank you, Jason, for being you and for continuing to fight! Love you! To read Jason's amazing story, visit his blog: http://jasonslifeisgood.blogspot.com/ I bet he will change your life, too!
Larry took this picture just as I was leaving. I will cherish it forever. Steph took another picture of us hugging goodbye, but I don't have that one, so I will have to get it from her and post it later. Words cannot express the feelings and emotions I had today, for those who have cared for me and my health, and for those who inspire me to be a better person! Thank you for this extraordinary day!
Friends and Survivors! Jason Reynolds and me at the University of Utah Medical Center, my first time in a hospital room since I checked out on June 15. Wow.
Monday, December 7, 2009
He has followed my "story" at church, though not read details here on my blog. He prayed for me, called me from time to time and congratulates me nearly every time I see him. This time, he asked me a question that was so simple, "How does it feel to be normal again?" I wasn't sure what to say about that, because, well, I don't feel normal.
My face is appearing more normal these days, so I am told all the time. That is wonderful and the answer to many prayers! And, when I am in public, I always try to be happy, positive and upbeat, partly because that is just who I am. But, am I normal? I don't feel like I am at all. I still have many issues that I am dealing with, though they are things that the world probably doesn't "see" from my physical appearance. With the exception on here on the blog, we deal with our challenges privately, with support from wonderful family and friends.
So I began to wonder, am I normal? Am I back to "normal" life? Some would say I have never been normal, and that is OK, too. A simple but strange thought to consider. Am I normal? Are you normal? What the heck is normal anyway?? Think on this and let me know what you think!
Friday, December 4, 2009
On the All About Vision website, it says, "Photophobia, or light sensitivity, is an intolerance of light. Sources such as sunlight, fluorescent light and incandescent light all can cause discomfort, along with a need to squint or close your eyes. Headaches also may accompany light sensitivity."
Apparently this is normal, though not necessarily common, for people suffering from facial paralsis, Belle's Palsy, etc. I have had such extreme reactions to the light lately that I have been worried, as it causes problems anytime I am outdoors, especially if I am trying to drive, or even walk. My special moisture chamber sunglasses are helpful, but not strong enough to curb my eye's reaction. I am nearly blinded when I get into the light.
I read that there are special contacts you can get. The prosthetic contact lenses can reduce the amount of light that enters the eye and make your eyes more comfortable and tolerant of the light. Hmm, something to consider. I have a call in to my opthamologist, Dr. Kim, at the Moran Eye Center and someone is supposed to get back to me soon.
The beautiful shiny, albeit cold, December days have tested my eye, but warmed my soul, so it is a fair trade. :)
I am including a few pics of our Thanksgiving celebration. It was great to see so many of my siblings and for my kids to have a giant sleepover with the cousins. Always a good time!
Me and Casen opening some Thanksgiving treats!
Tami and some of the kids enjoying the feast!
Brandon, Myana, Grandma Brown, Michael, and Dave happily eating!
Tolan, Scott, Brett and Dave conversing at the table.
Lindi, Trent, Trenden and Taylor enjoying "big kids" table all to themselves!
I love this picture of my niece, Jessie, and Casen. They were having so much fun playing together and eating cookie pie. Too cute!
Thursday, December 3, 2009
There is nothing like waiting to teach a little patience!
In the meantime, my body feels like it has been hit by a truck. I’ve come down with a terrible cold. Yes, it’s just a cold, but I feel pretty lousy. No fun. I can’t seem to fight anything off this year. I know my body is in a weakened state, but I am still surprised because it was just over a month ago I had strep throat. I was hoping to avoid further illnesses this season. But, alas, tis not so. Today I hope to get some rest, perhaps with my little boys watching a show in my room while I curl up in my bed.
Yesterday, despite being sick, I was all over my 3-mile traveling radius with my 2 little boys. We went to the doctor, to the bank, to multiple stores and to pick up the kids from school. The fun part of the day was taking all the kids to a store to let them Christmas shop for each other. The logistics were tricky at times, but I think everyone managed to get a little something for their assigned sibling and I don’t think any of them saw their own gifts in the process. It was so fun to watch them pick out things for each other!
So, the wait is on. I will wait out the cold and wait for the doctor’s office to call! I have no doubt the waiting time won’t seem too long. With 4 active children keeping me busy, every day seems to fly by, so I can’t imagine the next few will be any different!
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
The MRIs proved to be more challenging this time around than any of my other times. Now, of course, I have metal in my head, and gold in my eyelid. These things can be potentially dangerous when the magnets start going. So, after 30 minutes waiting to hear the "go" or "no go" from the radiologist, I climbed into the claustrophobia-causing machine. The technician told me that if I started to feel pain or heat from the gold in my eye, that I should press the emergency panic button and she would stop the procedure. However, I was relieved to find my eye was ok for the first round of scans.
The second MRI was to be conducted with dye in my veins so any mass in my brain could be more easily detected and differentiated from normal brain tissue. This also proved to be a challenge. It turns out that my "IV arm" is full of scar tissue from all my previous pokes and prods. :) She was able to get the IV started so the dye was successfully in my system for the 2nd scan.
I am not normally claustrophobic, nor am I prone to panic attacks or anything of that nature, but being stuck in an MRI machine for 40-50 minutes is enough to make anyone go nearly crazy. The noises are loud and disconcerting. The "shaking" of the machine makes you feel like you are riding up a hill in a rollercoaster and the 3-6 inch space around my body felt like it was caving in on me. All I wanted to do was jump out and MOVE my body. You simply can't hold perfectly still for that long. Ugh. The thought of it now gives me the chills.
By the end of my time, I noticed my eye was indeed heating up. However, not wanting to ruin the last several images, I stayed put and didn't notify the tech until the MRI was through. She said that next time, we will cover my eye in cold compresses in hopes of keeping the "heat factor" down. Weird, huh?
When I emerged from the medical imaging coffin, I was surprised to see "Kim", the technician who performed the MRI on the day I was diagnosed. She was so wonderful to me on that difficult day. So, I told her how grateful I was and gave her an update on my "status". She gave me a hug and we cried tears of joy, together.
Now, it is time to wait for the results. This process takes a while because the radiologist will have to write a report, then have the report and the disc of my images sent to Dr. Couldwell. So, I don't anticipate I will hear anything for at least a few days. I won't see Dr. Couldwell again until January, so at least the first "news" will likely come by phone sometime in the next week.
Throughout the day, despite the little bumps and challenges, I couldn't help but feel peaceful and calm. My Dad asked me if I had any feelings as to the results of the MRI. Well, those feelings of peace were enough for me. Regardless of what they say, I know things will be OK. I felt it. :)
Today is the first day of December and I am officially excited for Christmas. I have to get over this cold I am coming down with, but still I plan to enjoy every moment of this beautiful, amazing time, and focus all my efforts on the TRUE meaning of the season. I continue to be grateful for my Savior, my family and all my blessings. Are you counting your blessings yet? :)
Sunday, November 29, 2009
It was such a treat for me to spend time with all of my siblings. I love each of them in more ways than they will ever know. They uplift me, inspire me and encourage me. I look forward to seeing the 6th sibling and spending more time with all of them over the coming holidays.
Tolan's parents were amazing hosts, as they provided wonderful food and an even better place to gather, visit, enjoy and relax. They have a way of making everyone feel like family, and that is so appreciated.
We also visited Tolan's extended family, which was a real treat. So many of them have done so much for us this year and it was my first opportunity to thank many of them in person.
Yesterday I read a talk my Uncle Dennis Orgill wrote and gave at church. He reminded me that ingratitude is one of the greatest sins of omission that we often commit. We have so much to be thankful for and rarely do we really take the time to ponder all of our blessings. Another inspirational talk, given by Jason Hall, provided a great challenge, the thankful challenge. He challenged people to make a list of 100 things (over 100 days) that they are thankful for. It really gets you thinking about the depth of your gratitude. I know there are things on that list today that I wouldn't even have thought about a year ago... I am starting my list today!
SCANS: Tomorrow we are back to "the real world" again. First thing in the morning, I will go to McKay-Dee Hospital for 2 MRI scans of my brain (the first will be normal, the second will be with dye injected into my veins so "masses" in the brain will be more easily detected). These will be my first post-op scans and will tell us the condition of what is "left" of the tumor. Though most of the tumor was removed during surgery, but my doctors believe the parts of the tumor on my brainstem will remain there indefinitely. The HOPE is that they will not be able to regenerate or cause the tumor to grow again. So, this will be our first look inside my head since the completion of my surgeries.
I don't expect to hear the "results" of the scans immediately, since they will have to be seen by the radiologist, a report written, then that report will be sent to my docs in Salt Lake before I hear anything. Still, I would appreciate prayers for my day tomorrow and for the "results" that are yet to be seen. I continue to struggle with headaches, as well as all the issues with my eye, ear, nose and mouth from the paralysis, but I am so grateful to be on the surviving end of my battle thus far.
My love and gratitude to all of you. I hope you'll join me and "Count Your Many Blessings" starting today! :)
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Thanksgiving Day #10: The Gospel of Jesus Christ
In the entirety of the world, my beliefs are shared by very few. Only about 13 million other people believe the way I do, so I consider myself to be very fortunate to have been raised in a situation that allows me to know the Truth. I know that my Savior, Jesus Christ, lives. I know that He is my elder brother, but more importantly, my Savior, who atoned for my sins. I know that through Him, I have a way to repent, come back, and hopefully return to live with Him again someday. I know that He is with us, always, if we allow Him to be. I know that He is there in our darkest moments, when no one else can make it better. Whether you are in a foxhole amidst great battle, or in the hospital dying, He is there and he can bring you peace and joy.
It is this joy that I am so grateful for. He wants us to be happy, this I know. That is why He has provided us with an eternal Plan of Happiness, that teaches us how to live, repent, and find joy. Happiness is the reason that He has allowed us the privilege of being sealed to our families in the temple, so that we can be together FOREVER, not just until death do us part. Joy is the reason we have the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and other scriptures so that we might read, learn, and be guided by Him in all that we do. For obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings us joy. What Satan tempts us with is simply temporary pleasure, not joy, there is a big difference. I feel so blessed to know of and feel of that joy so often in my life...daily when I am choosing the right.
My testimony of my Savior is not something I can adequately describe, not here or anywhere. It is more than a "belief" or "faith" or "hope", it is a knowledge that I cannot deny. I love Him and all He gives unto me, challenges and blessings alike. Though I am in no hurry to depart this world, I look forward to the day when I get to meet my Savior, and His father, again, and thank them for the many blessings which are mine.
To learn more about my beliefs, visit http://www.mormon.org/ . My love, blessings and thanks to you this wonderful Thanksgiving season.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Thanksgiving Day #9: Transformation
There is a reason we love to watch shows like "What Not to Wear", "The Biggest Loser", "Curb Appeal", or "Trading Spaces". It is wonderful to witness something old, ugly or falling apart become something beautiful, updated and new. The process of transformation takes something that seems hopeless or useless and makes is new and wonderful again. I LOVE the process of transformation.
I do transformation projects all the time. I stripped, sanded and stained my mantle and bannister last year and it changed the look of my whole house! Just a few months ago I purchased an old table and chairs from the classifieds. While this project took me considerably longer than it normally would have, I now have a brand "new" dining set that looks like I spent $1500 for a high-end set, when in reality, I spent less than $200, but added a little elbow grease and a lot of stain and polyurethane. :)
Even more amazing than household, yard or furniture transformations are personal transformations. In some ways, I have had a year of transformation myself. Though my "outside" may not be "new" and "updated", my inside, my spirit and soul, has been transformed through the my trials. I have come to know my Savior more and I appreciate life and the "little" things more than ever. The transformation may not be apparent to everyone, but I know that I am a different person and I have my tumor to thank for that!
Monday, November 23, 2009
Thanksgiving Day #8: Good Food
So, having been swamped today, I started thinking about my, oh not so favorite phrase, "What's for dinner tonight?" Since I didn't have a good answer, or a good amount of time to prepare, I decided for a different option: Dinners By Diana! The meals are all homemade, prepared ahead of time, and all I have to do is pick them up and cook them for 45 minutes or so. Piece of cake!
This was my first time to Dinners by Diana and I was pleasantly surprised by the offerings. I got a succulent pot roast for dinner tonight, and bbq ribs for tomorrow, plus some yummy sides. My family will love this and now my time can be freed up for what I really enjoy... BAKING!
Desserts are the fun part! For Thanksgiving, I am making 3-4 pies (my specialty) along with my other assisgnments. I so enjoy good food...so much more satisfying than IV fluids. :) Even though my tastebuds don't work yet because of the paralysis, I am going to do my best to enjoy all the great food this week has to offer! (The doctor said the term for the metallic taste in my mouth is dysgeusia, or unpleasant or obnoxious tastes in my mouth -- yep, he got that right!).
Still, even when it doesn't taste "normal" it smells wonderful and that is always a plus, too! Eat up!
Sunday, November 22, 2009
While I sit in church, I love to feel the Spirit wrap loving arms around me and engulf me in warmth. I love to hear the beautiful hymns and music of the faithful. I love to watch my children take turns giving talks to the other primary children, for it reminds me, that even at tender, young ages, they too, can know the truth. I love to hear the youth speak; when they say it like it is, and bring us all to tears. I love to study the gospel of Jesus Christ, to read the scriptures and "hear" them testify of truth.
When I return home from my uplifting, yet exhausting time at church with my little ones, I have yet more to be thankful for. I am thankful for Sunday afternoon naps, quiet time, and a few hours of peace. Sunday dinners with Grandma and Grandpa and yummy family night treats also make the gratitude list. I am even grateful for the "Sunday evening sitr crazies" my children get after being inside all afternoon and evening long. Though I rarely find a way to cure this strange disease, it too reminds me that at least I have been with my darling family all day, and that is a wonderful blessing indeed!
Saturday, November 21, 2009
I am so grateful that my recovery has allowed me the chance to dig in and work. There is something wonderful about putting in a day's work, whether you are at a job, digging in dirt in your yard, doing projects, watching your children or whatever your task may be. Be grateful that you have the strength, energy and abilities to work! It is truly a blessing, one that not all my friends get to enjoy at this stage of their lives.
Trust me, it is better to work hard and collapse into bed at the end of the day, than lie in bed all day, unable to do the things you so desperately want to do. So bring on the blisters, sore muscles, backaches and all...it means I worked hard today, and that is a blessing!
Friday, November 20, 2009
It is probably good for me to "have" to do my thanksgiving list today. The last 24 hours have been somewhat frustrating and disappointing for me. I had a doctor's appointment yesterday at the University of Utah Hospital. It was a 6-month follow-up from my first craniotomy. I had a hearing test done, followed by the appointment with Dr. Shelton.
I had an enjoyable ride there with Larry, which is always a highlight for me. But, the appt itself left me with very mixed emotions. My hearing has improved a little, which I knew and am very grateful for. However, my paralysis isn't improving at the rate "expected". For my condition, 90% of the improvements to my facial nerves will likely come within the first 12 months from the initial paralysis. So, this time, instead of saying "I am totally confident you will regain all your facial movement", the tone changed to "here is what we can do if you don't get better".
The list of alternatives included more surgeries for my eye (either a larger weight in my eyelid, or a spring-loaded spring in my eyelid help it close. The latter would have to be performed in Los Angeles.) and potential surgery for my nose. I still can't breathe well out of my nose, but there is a procedure that can take cartilage from my ear and implant it in my nose to help my breathing.
It is good that their are options, but sometimes I don't want alternatives, I just want to get better.
After my appt, I was disappointed and frustrated. However, today I find myself feeling grateful that I have such wonderful family and friends who allow me to vent, cry and feel frustrated. They listen to me without judging and help me keep perspective. They know who they are, and I appreciate them more than they know.
It was also wonderful to see Dr. Shelton and Dr. Orlandi again. They have done so much for my care, it is hard to see them and not throw my arms around them in a big thank you hug. (I did ask Dr. Shelton for a hug. :) Still so much to be grateful for...
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I have always been fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful people. I love meeting new people, making new friends and enjoying others. At this time in my life, your friendship has been even more important.
Today is the perfect example. I have a 6-month follow-up appointmet with Dr. Shelton today, as well as a series of hearing tests. My neighbor and dear friend, Annette, is watching Daven while I am gone. Casen is going to Michelle's house (who is also his amazing preschool teacher). My father-in-law, Larry, is driving me to Salt Lake for the appointment (though I had so wished to be able to drive myself by now). What would I do without all these angels? Every week it is like this. Cami H. helps out with the kids, Els send me daily uplifting messages and/or food, Jenny does my hair and dozens of friends and neighbors call, email or show up to check on me.
I am so grateful for all of these wonderful "saints"!
If you are reading this, then you, too, are on my list today. I am so thankful for you, the "readers", but known and unknown, for your love and prayers. Nearly every week I receive emails from people I don't know, often who have been following my story for months. Your thoughtful emails, notes, prayers and support are so uplifting to me! You inspire me and help keep me going (and posting). Some days I wonder if I ought to keep up the blog or just "go private" again. But, nearly every time I feel that way, one of you posts a comment or sends me an email. Your support truly does help me push on, one day at a time!
Thank you, one and all, for everything you do. You are my heroes.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Yesterday I had a very productive day, but it was also very long. By the end of the day, my body was literally giving out on me. By the time I drove home from the Church at 7:30pm, I could barely walk, see or sit. Once at home from all the day's activities, I climbed into the tub to relax before bed. While there, I noticed the scars on my stomach and leg, where they removed fat to "relocate" to my brain in an attempt to plug my spinal fluid leak. These scars are not "attractive" in a normal sense, but I found myself feeling oddly grateful for them.
These scars, along with those on my head, and even my facial paralysis, are daily reminders of the miracles in my life. These are present because I am still here! My life is truly a miracle, as are the blessings I've experienced because of my trials. I may not always "appreciate" the scars and side effects, but I am always grateful that they remind me of my Savior and His love for me!
What are you grateful for today?
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
What a treat it is to be a mother, adaughter, a sister, an aunt, a granddaughter, a daughter-in-law and a friend. It means I get to be associated with wonderful, amazing women!
My mother and sisters are my dearest girlfriends in the world! I am so grateful that we are family, and friends. My mother is an incredible example of unconditional love, selfless service and unending friendship. She has helped our family more this year than I could have ever imagined possible. My sisters give me strength, let me vent :), listen to me, buoy me up, help me have fun and let me be me! I love them!
This is lovely Kristi, surrounded by some of her great men. :)Beautiful Tami, enjoying birthday flowers. :)
My amazing mom, Sherri Kay Ketchum Orgill, a true example of motherhood!
My daughter, Lindi, is very much a little woman. :) She is the sweetest girl, and is a true example of love. She is always doing kind things for others just because she enjoys it. :) She has a soft, quiet demeanor, but radiates love and warmth. Love this little lady! Love my little Lindi Lady!!
My mother-in-law and sister-in-law have been a second family to me, but they have never felt like "second place". From the day I met Kay, she welcomed me into the family with a hug and has been giving me love ever since. It took no time at all to feel like I fit in. My sisters-in-law all live far away, but I am so grateful for them, their love, support and fun ideas! (Imagine our surprise when we opened a 4th of July package and found "fire flies" shipped all the way from Indiana, just so my kids could experience those fun little lightning bugs!!)Wish I had recent pics of all of them!
My father-in-law and mother-in-law, Larry and Kay Brown. Wonderful people whom I love dearly!
My grandmothers are so special to me. Though I have only one living grandma, I love them all so much. I have learned so much from them and continue to pray that I will be able to use their examples to strengthen me and guide me in my life. Grandma Ketchum is a wonderful woman of service and love. :) My Grandma Lisenbee is still my strength and now, perhaps my guardian angel, too. Miss you, Grandma.
My Grandma Ketchum, visiting me in the hospital.
Grandma Lisenbee, at her 90th birthday celebration. She passed away at the start of this difficult year, on January 17.
I am also so thankful for Tolan's sweet grandmothers, all of whom are gone now, but who still play an important role in our lives. We very much miss Grandma Pringle, Grandma Corry and Grandma Kari Pringle, whom we look forward to meeting in heaven some day.
Grandma Maxine Brown Corry, a pillar in her family and community.
Thanks to all the beautiful, amazing women in my life! My dear friends, I love you all, too. Thank you for your love and support. All of these women give me strength, hope and are examples to me! I am thankful for each of you!
Monday, November 16, 2009
Day 1: I am thankful for the men in my life!
I feel so blessed to be surrounded by REAL men, who know how to love, care and sacrifice. Most of them don't hunt and they don't even spend hours at a time watching sports, but they are real men who make life wonderful and good.
Yesterday three of my four brothers came to visit my family. What a treat! I love that they want to spend time with me and my family! My children adore the "uncles" and we all had a fun time together. It was especially wonderful for me to watch my husband and sons with my brothers.
Casen and Daven on our Shadow Dancing walk by the river. :)
Tolan is a great dad and husband!!
Friday, November 13, 2009
Through it all, the only thing I can really say, is that we have also been enveloped by the arms of God, wrapped in His love unlike ever before. We have truly had miracles, and because of those miracles, I am here today. Our faith is stronger, our love is greater, our relationships are more solid. We know our Savior more. I know my Savior. I know that He understands me and my struggles like No One Else can. For He was with me on the long excruciating nights in the hospital, when the rest of the world was asleep. It is this love that fills my soul and gives me the strength to fight on, one day at a time. I can honestly say that I am grateful for the events that lead me to this time in my life. My faith has been tested, but I know now that it has also been strengthened.
My hope and prayer is that we can all find strength and faith in the Lord so we never have to fight our battles alone. It is much easier to stand with Christ's arms holding you up.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I am still amazed at the things people say and do when someone near them is a little "different". The stares are normal for me now, but the comments still surprise me. I am grateful for the kind comments, like the lady at Costco who told me she liked the artwork on my patch. :) I am glad the little boy at lunch had the courage to come up to me and ask me about my patch, for then I was able to show him my eye and explain that I am not scary, nor should he be afraid of something different. His father (I assume) was kind and let him ask all the questions he wanted. I appreciate that. I would much rather let people ask questions than have them rush by, avert their eyes, pretend they don't see, or discourage their little ones from bothering me. Curiosity is normal and honest questions and answers are better than ignorance and ignoring.
Despite my eye, I am getting out a bit, at least enough to keep me from getting stir crazy at home all the time. Today I went to my favorite local spot, the Bombay Grill, and had lunch with my friend, Ryan. We used to work together and it was wonderful to catch up and visit. Daven kept me busy (as always) as he jumped on and off the chairs, had to "go potty" numerous times, and used the straws to splash water on the table. He is the sweetest little boy in the world, and his smile melts my heart. He is, however, very two years old and his adventures are sometimes more than I have energy to handle! (Remind me never to leave a 2-liter bottle of rootbeer out in the kitchen EVER again!) All in all, lunch was great, the company was even better and life continues to be wonderful.
Tonight I went to Parent Teacher Conferences at my kids' school. My kids are so good...smart, kind and hard working. Some may be a little talkative (yes, they get that from me), but they are such blessings in my life! They help me so much, from steadying me when I am off-balance, to doing extra work around the house, to praying for me every day. They are wonderful!
Friday marks the 6 month anniversary of my first craniotomy. Gulp. Wow, how life has changed this year. Hard to comprehend it all. Tears still come, but thankfully, there are as many good tears as sad tears, and more often than not, I feel blessed and grateful for ALL of my life!
Oh, and just wanted to tell our dear friends, the Rhoads, how much we love them!! In this month of Thanksgiving, there are few things to be more grateful for than faith, family and friends, and they are some of the best friends in the world!! Love you guys!
Monday, November 9, 2009
That night we had a fun dinner with our good friends, the Baileys. We went to Gray Cliff Lodge, in Ogden Canyon, and had an enjoyable dinner, complete with all the fixings and yummy dessert. It was great to spend time together and visit with the Baileys. I think we are both amazed at all this last year has brought to our family. Perhaps it will be smoother sailing this next year, but if not, at least we are getting better at navigating through the storms.
Yesterday we enjoyed a great day at church, and I enjoyed another church meeting after ours, at which my aunt Celia's kids played their violins and some family friends spoke. It was a wonderful meeting and I truly felt blessed to have been there and felt the Sprit of the Lord. That evening, Celia, her kids, and friends, the Nguyen family came over for dessert. Ahh, dessert is one of my favorite things, and sharing it with wonderful friends and family makes it even better. Truly, another blessed weekend.
Lights: For several days now, I have been having many issues with my eye. In some ways, my right eye seems to be getting worse, or perhaps I am trying to use it more so it only appears worse. In either case, I am having an extreme sensitivity to light. I am nearly blinded when I get into sunlight or bright lights of any kind. It affects both of my eyes until I can cover up my right eye (or hold it closed). I don't know if this is because the paralysis doesn't allow some of the eye functioning to take place, or if there is another cause. If anyone knows anything about sensitivity to light, please pass along the info.
Normally this would simply be an inconvenience at best, but with my sight and perception already suffering, this sensitivity is causing me real problems. I don't drive much these days, but the other day I was out on a busy road near my house, when I turned a corner and the light got in my eyes. Immediately I was nearly blinded and I was afraid I was not going to make it safely down the road. Scary. It happened again when I came out of a building and into the sunlight in the parking lot. Hmmm, don't know what is going on, but I do know that my eye seems to get "tired" and worn out much earlier in the day than it used to.
Despite my questionable eyesight, life remains very good. My children keep me hopping and my husband keeps me sane. My friends keep me informed and feeling loved and my neighbors rescue me when things don't go right. All in all, you should (no one is perfect though, right??) hear no complaints out of me!
Friday, November 6, 2009
Yesterday was a near perfect day! Heavenly Father has indeed blessed us this week as we have had the most glorious weather. It was 70 and sunny and you could smell the crispness in the air, see the colors on the trees and feel the crunching of leaves under your feet. A perfect day for a walk by the river with my boys! We spent over an hour walking along the river bank, skipping stones, throwing sticks, and going exploring! We sang songs, made up adventures and discovered beauty.