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.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
My entire family is now vaccinated from H1N1, so we are keeping our fingers crossed that none of us picks anything up this season, so we can all stay healthy and so I don't have to face anything else with a weakened immune system.
It's amazing what a difference a week makes, but truly, right now, I feel so good! And, I was so pleased yesterday to read a neat article which tells my story from the last year. The blog author, Veeda Bybee, features "amazing moms" and tells their stories. Personally, I think most moms are pretty amazing (you have to be to keep up with all that motherhood is these days). My mother is also in the article and she truly is an amazing mom! I think I was featured simply because of all the challenges we have faced this year. Still, she did a fantastic job of encapsulating the details into a well-written summary of my life this year.
Check it out at: http://theveedaweekly.blogspot.com/ . If you subscribe to her site, you will also be able to see future stories on great moms, and maybe even suggest someone for her to interview!
So, the blessings abound and for this week, at least, I am healthy, happy, and oh, so normal!
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Last week as I was struggling with Strep Throat and being down in bed again, I was inundated by love and goodness yet again. A dear friend, who I have gotten to know through my whole "tumor experience" brought me multiple meals and treats during the week, plus sent me emails to keep my spirits up. She reminded me an old story about a king who built a new road in his kingdom. He told everyone that he would give a bag of gold to the person who could travel the road in the most eloquent style. As you can imagine, people showed up from everywhere, dressed in their very best, with carriages, horses and all manner of stately attire. But one man traveled alone, slowly, taking in the beautiful view from the road. When he came upon some debris in the road, he moved it, so it would not block the path for others travelling. Upon moving the rocks, he found the bag of gold. The man did not know where the gold had come from, and so he returned it to the king, explaining that it did not belong to him. The king told him that he knew there would be many who would travel the road, and the gold was meant for the one who would make the path better for others by removing the rocks and debris. The road is better to travel if we help each other.
This simple story was followed by a few sentences of perfect explanation. "Its simply what Christ did, and would want us to do. I am not a big religious person. I am not a big scriptorian. But I do know without a doubt that it's the small things in life that matter, often more than the earth shattering things. The little 'lift each other's burdens for a minute' things.... the letting other people know they matter..." She ended by saying that we are all travelling the road as best as we are able, but when we need a hand, we should let others move a few rocks for us.
Wow. What a beautiful message! Thank you, Els Manning, for reminding me about the beauty of the journey and the blessings of moving rocks and rock movers. I am inspired, yet again.
My tears over the last few days have been because I was "released" from my Church calling, working with the 12-18 year old young women. I know this is a rest and break my body needs, but I am so sad to let go of "my girls". They cannot comprehend now just how much they are loved. I will miss serving them so much. I have been promised the relationships will continue, and I know they will, but I am still tearful that my time with them is over for now. I am so grateful my dear friend Cami H. is taking over the reigns and will continue to help these wonderful young women know that they truly are DAUGHTERS of GOD. I can't fight the tears, but I will be forever grateful for the chance to have these young ladies in my life!
I know God is helping me find the time to rest, recover and recuperate. Last night I had a massage therapist work on my whole body, then I went straight to bed and slept for 9 hours!!! What a blessing and a wonderful chance for my body to heal. Thank you for the continued love, support and help moving my rocks. :)
Sunday, November 1, 2009
I could hardly believe it was the end of October! We took the kids outside and carved pumpkins in the afternnon sun, an activity usually reserved for inside on cold October evenings. But on this day, everything about it was beautiful. I couldn't help but feel like God had given us a bonus day, a little bit of sunshine to lift our souls and remind us of the warmth of summer that is now just a memory. I didn't want to go inside, so I stayed out as long as I could, first weeding the garden, then carving pumpkins, then just basking for a few moments. Perfect.
The family activities of the day were fun, as always. The kids had a great time with Dad getting treats from the neighbors and I had fun handing out the candy. This year, I did something I've never done before. I dressed up for Halloween. It seemed fitting that I should be a pirate, but not just any pirate, a princess pirate, complete with my be-dazzled eye patch, crooked face and smile, and the best darn "arghhhh, matey" you've ever heard. It was fun to play the part and feel like, for at least one day this year, I totally fit in. :)
Tolan and I didn't coordinate well, so we didn't get a lot of great pics of the kids before they went out. In the few he took, the kids weren't completely ready, especially my sweet ballerina Lindi. Still, they looked cute and had fun. After a full night at home, we loaded in the car and drove to Grandma and Grandpa Brown's house for more treats, including cinnamon rolls and pumpkn pie. Yum!
To top it off, we came home and went to bed "early" because of the daylight savings time switch, and I slept more last night than I had in the previous 3 nights! All in all, a great day!
Carving pumpkins outside on our "bonus" day! Dad went inside to cook the pumpkin seeds, a favorite family tradition!
Me and my pal, pumpkin pirate Pete, just waitin' for the rascals to arrive.