Saturday, July 31, 2010

. . . . . . . Tribute to Grandpa George Pringle

Last night we got the call. Our beloved Grandpa, George Pringle, passed away. He is Tolan's grandfather, but I have also adopted him as my own for the last 14 years. His life, as well as his death, were simply amazing.

Yesterday morning, Grandpa went golfing, just like he does every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He drove himself to the golf course, enjoyed his morning and came home. In the afternoon, an old friend came by for a visit. As they sat in his front room, visiting and reminiscing, Grandpa simply leaned his head back on his chair, and he was gone.

His grandson, Ryan, was only 3 miles from the house when the call came. Ryan did a U-turn and was there in moments. He left the paramedics know that Grandpa did not want to be resuscitated or put on life support. At 90 years old (last month!), having outlived 2 wives, he was ready to go. So, the paramedics took Ryan's word, as a family member, and they let Grandpa go.

What a tender mercy that the Lord allowed everything to work out in just the way it did. There was no suffering, no weeks spent in a hospital or nursing home. He played golf and had a good day, and then he was gone. He was not alone, and his grandson was able to be there in the end.

We are so happy for Grandpa and the reunion he is having now with sweet Grandma Carrie and Grandma Helen Pringle. He loved and missed them both so much. I can only imagine the tender moments they have shared over the last 20 hours.

Grandpa was one of the most faithful and righteous men I have ever met. I feel so privileged to have so many men of high caliber in my life. My whole family learned so much from him. His faith and prayers were powerful enough to change lives, mine included.

I will never forget his healing blessing for me, when I was in the hospital, literally dying. Just a few weeks ago, he and I tried together to remember the words from that special prayer. Neither of us could remember anything, but one particular line, which we both knew, almost word for word. I guess that is the one that mattered the most.

We love you Grandpa Pringle. We are so happy for you. Please tell the Grandmas how much we love and miss them, too. We look forward to seeing you again and having a joyous family reunion. But not yet.

All of these photos were taken just a few weeks ago, on Grandpa's last visit to Utah and the cabin in Montana. What a blessing we got to spend so much time with him!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

. . . . . . Countdown to Surgery

6 Days and counting...

Will it really work? This time next week, will I be able to blink?? Will I regain the freedoms I lost nearly 15 months ago when my face was paralyzed after my brain surgery? Will I be free from the headaches, pressure and vision problems? Will I be able to drive again? Will I be able to go outside and play with my children? Will I be able to go swimming, take a shower or play in the rain? Will I be able to stick my head out the window and let the wind blow in my face? Will I finally be free from my eye patches? Will I be able to sit under a hairdryer at the hair salon? Will I be able to go out in the sunlight? Will I be able to work outside and not be impacted by my eye? Will I regain my depth perception? Will I really be able to see the world again? Is it really possible?

Though I still overwhelmed with working out all the details for our trip next week, I cannot help but have high hopes and great expectations for the results of my upcoming procedure. I have come so far in the last year, this feels like one of the last big steps to truly recovering and becoming me again!!!

Tonight, when you thank God for your blessings, please remember to tell Him how grateful you are that you can blink! It may seem like a small thing, but even God's small masterpieces are far more powerful and important than we realize!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

. . . . . Family Time

Recently we spent a week in Hebgan Lake, Montana, with my dear hubby's family. What a blessing that I married into a family that is so amazing. We had 25 people in one cabin and didn't have so much as a single fight, not between the kids or the adults. It was a grand adventure that I hope to remember forever. These photos ought to help accomplish that...

Tolan and his Grandpa, George Pringle. They are alike in sooo many ways, not just their looks! ;)

The sharp shooters and their target.

During the trip, we had a photographer come to the cabin and do a family photo shoot, of each individual family, and the group as a whole. They will be cherished pictures of our family in one of our favorite places on Earth.

The gang's all here! The Larry and Kay Brown family!!!
The cousins, trying so hard to hold still for "just one more" picture.

George Pringle and daughter, Georgia Kay Pringle Brown.

Larry and Kay Brown.

Me and my sweetheart. Considering the subjects she had to work with, we think the photographer did a great job. :)

Lisa and Leeland Zeller and family.
My husband's family, Lisa, Teresa, George Pringle, Kay, Larry, Mindy and Tolan Brown.

Teresa and Jared Layton's family, with newly adopted daughter, Valencia, from Haiti.

Michael and Mindy Walker and family.

Our little family in our favorite spot! A wonderful vacation with a wonderful family!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

. . . . . . Transformation Fun

I discovered a wonderful place a few months ago, Di-Vine Consignment, a darling new shop just a mile from my house. I went in and instantly became friends with Raven, the store's owner. She takes old junk and transforms it into beautiful pieces of furniture. This week I saw a bench she is working on that used to be a bed headboard. She is truly genious!

Searching for a new chair for my living room, I cam across some old dining chairs and fell in love. Though I had just one chair in mind, the set called to me, so I purchased the second after I got the first one home. :)

I was going to strip and stain the pair, but something about the handmade look of the carvings and the color made me decide to leave the finish just as it is. All I did was recover the cushions, adding a 3 inch memory foam seat for a nice soft place to sit and striped fabric to tie in the room with my kitchen. Voila. Simple, not quite as easy as I had planned, but easy enough. Another transformation project, complete!

My newly refinished chairs, cleaned up, polished, and with new seats and fabric!

I also have another transformation project that took a while longer to complete. I love to garden, I get great satisfaction out of growing things. I wanted a bigger garden space (I used to have three 4ft. square garden boxes) so I decided to tear out the grass and create a much larger garden space. My dear hubby's engineering design skills took over and he designed and built me a whole new garden space!

My new space has two rows, each 3 feet wide, with walking spaces in between (cushioned with rubber mulch), then two rows, each 2 feet wide, for smaller plants and vine growers. Can't wait to eat the fruits of our labors!

It took much longer to complete than we thought, so it won't be full this year, but next year, my garden will surely be blossoming with home grown goodness!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

. . . . . . . This is the Place

Today, the 24th of July, marks Pioneer Day in Utah, the anniversary of when Brigham Young entered the valley for the first time and declared this was the place they were going to settle.

Now the valley is full of life, unlike the desert scene of 170 years ago. And, today I declare that this IS the place for my family to be. I have thought numerous times about the "coincidences" of having one of the world's best neurosurgeons here, one of the only people able to remove a tumor such as mine. In addition, the surgeon who pioneered the procedure that sealed my spinal fluid leak, the only man in the country who has successfully performed this operation, is also right here. There are only 5 locations in the country where there are therapists for facial paralysis. Yes, Salt Lake City is one.

Here we are surrounded by wonderful friends and neighbors, who truly care for each other and serve one another. They have taken care of our family during the worst of times, and celebrated with us during the best of times. Here, in this place, family is still important and love matters above all else.

Again and again, I have realized that the Lord blesses our lives, and this is just one more way. Tolan and I have long desired to travel and live in different places in the world, but we have always felt compelled to stay right here. For us, this truly is the right place.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

. . . . . . . A Man Named Robert

Yesterday I met a man named Robert. He and his sweet smile touched my life. I noticed that his left eye was blind and scarred, so I gently asked him what happened. He was burned by chemicals while working on an air conditioner 11 years ago. His eye was blinded immediately and has continued to degenerate in physical appearance since that time. After his accident, he suffered from depression, until his wife "gently" made him get up and not give up.

Then he asked what was wrong with my eye. He had also noticed me and wondered if we would be able to talk. What a blessing that we did.

Robert reminded me that we are so much more than what our bodies appear to be. We are the living representation of our souls and spirits. Our actions, not our physical appearances, make up who we Really are.

After 15 minutes of sharing stories and relating in ways that few others can, we parted ways. I put out my hand and said, "Robert, my name is Jodi, it was so nice to meet you." He wished me well and asked for a hug. Some would disapprove of hugging a "stranger", but Robert is not a stranger, just a heartfelt friend from before this life that I was privileged to finally meet again.

Monday, July 19, 2010

. . . . . Emotions

There is nothing "wrong" today, and yet I cannot stop the tears. My body feels exhausted from a busy weekend and my mind is tired from trying to prepare for my upcoming surgery. I have spent the morning on the phone with the insurance company and with various family members and friends, trying to figure out how to make everything work.

I still have to book airline tickets, a rental car and make all the arrangements, but today, all I want to do is cuddle up in my bed, have a good cry and read a book.

The current plan is to fly to CA the first week in August, with the actual procedure taking place on Wednesday, and the post-ops on Thursday and Friday. So, I have 2 weeks to get ready, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Please, I know I have asked a million times before, but a few prayers would be great. Thanks. Love you all.

Friday, July 16, 2010

. . . . . . Setting a Surgery Date

Yesterday I went to my occuplastic surgeon (a fancy name for my opthamologist who does specialty surgery) for a consultation before scheduling the eye "spring" surgery in California. Here are the results of that appointment:

* My right eye continues to have decreased vision due to complications from the paralysis. It is getting slightly better, but still nowhere near the vision of my left eye.

* I have several small scratches and dry spots on my cornea. All of these should be able to be repaired once I can blink again.

* The ONLY option I have left if I want to blink (unless or until my blinking ability returns on its own) is to have the eyelid spring surgery. There are no other options.

* Dr. Kim (Moran Eye Center) said to be skeptical and ask lots of questions prior to the procedure, including:

1. Will the material used for the spring have any reactions in the body?
2. How long will the spring last? Will I have to have a replacement spring/surgery in the future?
3. Is extrusion a possibility (the spring pokes through the skin)?
4. What is the recovery like? How long will I be "down"?
5. How much swelling will take place?
6. Will I have to go back to CA for appointments, check ups or "tune ups"?
7. What are the possible side effects?

These are all good questions, some of which I have already asked. The surgery itself is pretty brutal (about 7 hours long, you have to be awake much of the time). Once I have all the rest of the questions answered, we're setting a date!

We are looking at the first or second week in August, so I can be finished and functioning again before the kids start school. So much to do between now and then!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

. . . . . Earthly Goodbyes

It seems like it has been weeks since I have slept in my own bed. In reality, I have slept there once in the last 10 days. Sunday we came to be with the family to attend my uncle's funeral yesterday. It was an amazing day.

In life, I learned hundreds of lessons from my uncle, Joel. Even after his death, I continued to learn from this great man.

Joel was the eldest child of my father's family. He took over the position as "DAD" when my father's own dad left the family. Joel was a father to my dad his whole life. He taught him, tutored him, and acted as his example throughout his life. The tributes made to Joel yesterday reminded me that though I knew a wonderful man, I knew very little about this man.

After his death, his family retrieved the binder Joel had left behind, complete with instructions for after his passing. One of the most impressive things he did was to leave behind a sympathy card for his family members. He made sure that the first one they received was from him! :) He also said, "If you are reading this, I must be dead. Get over it. I am fine, it is much better here." His humor was contagious and all of those present caught it during the memorial service.

My favorite Joel item of the day was his casket. He left specific instructions that he did not want a big, expensive casket. He wanted a pine box. Not a pine casket, a pine box, and that is exactly what he got: a beautiful pine box. Upon first glance, it looked a little rudimentary, but in reality, it was amazing, in so many ways. Covered with a floral bouquet, the remainder of the "box" was used to write personal messages in permanent marker to uncle Joel. We all had the chance to leave him our final thoughts, memories and love, in a personal way that was meant just for him. In the end, the pine box was the perfect casket for this man who knew the real meaning of life, and death.

The family visited during the afternoon and we all enjoyed the reunion. Joel's dear wife still suffers from cancer, so we promised we would all continue the prayers, on her behalf, and we will.

It was a beautiful day of honoring, remembering, visiting and loving each other. The reminders of the importance of family were lessons I will remember forever!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

. . . . . . Tribute to Uncle Joel

My uncle, Joel Ivan Orgill, passed away this week, on July 7, 2010. I wish we had lived closer so I could have spent more time with him, but I will never forget his words of wisdom, his example and his loving advice.

Joel suffered with cancer for the last few years of his life. He outlived the doctors expectations and amazed every one who knew him. He was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer but did not give up or give in. When I was diagnosed, 2 years later, he called me and gave me wonderful advice on how to survive and thrive, despite my tumor. He gave me reasons to hope, laugh, live and love. He inspired me and reminded me to stay positive and be grateful, no matter how hard things got.

All those who knew him learned from his righteous example. His loving family should be proud of their husband, father and grandfather. I know he is still having a joyous reunion with his dear mother. I hope he tells her how much we all love and miss her, too.

We will miss you, Unca Joel. See you on the other side, but not yet. :)

Monday, July 5, 2010

. . . . . . 300 Posts And Family News

Happy 4th of July! Wow, what a weekend this has been! On Saturday my wonderful, amazing mom celebrated her birthday. I wish we all could have been together, but schedules just didn't work out that way. Still, happy day to my mom, she is one of a kind!

In other family news, my sister, Tami, had a baby this morning, at 5:13am! Baby boy is yet to be named, but is a healthy 8 pounds 9 ounces and 20 inches long. The best part is, so far the little guy appears to be doing well. He has a tumor in his lungs that the doctors have been watchin for 5 months now. The tumor has continued to grow, but moved away from his heart, which is good. So, for now, he is with his mom and the doctors will determine the next step in the next hours/days/weeks of his life. He will have to have surgery, but we are hoping he can get a little bigger and stronger before that happens. Prayers please!

We are so grateful that Tami and baby are doing well and hope and pray for the best outcome possible!

Tami and her new baby boy, at 5:23 this morning! :)

So, a few smarties out there figured out a mathematical way to determine the number of posts on the blog, and they were right! This post marks th 300th post on the blog since it was started last April! And the winners are....

Heather Peters and Julie Johnson!

Congrats! Your winnings will be sent to you soon. Please email me your address so I can get your gift cards to you!

Oh, and one more piece of news. Yesterday I talked to a woman who recently had the spring surgery for her eye. She provided me with many details about the procedure and life with an eye spring. Though the process is far more complicated than I anticipated, and the surgery is much longer and harder on the body than I had hoped, I am more convinced than ever that I need to have this done...soon! So, details need to be worked out, but my hope is to have surgery before the kids go back to school. More details will come later.

Thanks to all of you for your continued support and love!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

. . . . . To Operate or Not to Operate?

For some time now, I have been having real troubles with my eye, caused from the facial paralysis. As I have mentioned before, not blinking is bad news for the eye. It causes dryness, irritation, and problems with depth perception, vision and sensitivity to light. In addition, my trusty eye patches, which give me relief from the issues, have side effects, too. When I wear my eye patches, I develop terrible headaches and I still have depth perception problems. All of these things also make it so I cannot drive, which is a HUGE loss of freedom and independence. This is nothing new, but the weather has attributed to making it worse than normal lately.

So, the big question is, should I get the operation to fix my eye or just "give it more time"? It has been 14 months since my paralysis, and therefore 14 months since I have blinked. In eye years, that is a very long time! The "spring" surgery would implant a spring into my eyelid (where the gold weight is currently - it would be removed) and help the eye to close, by the force of the spring. My gold weight was supposed to do this, but my paralysis was too strong and it never really worked. The recommended doctor is the best in the world at this and works with patients until they have success. Many patients keep the spring in for 6 months to a year after the return of their eye nerves and muscles, just because the process is so slow. Even once progress begins, it can be months or years until full functioning returns (if ever). And, the spring can be removed later if the eye function returns. That's all the good news.

The bad news is, the doctor is in California, which is out-of-network for my insurance, and I would have all the travel costs, plus additional out-of-pocket costs for the surgery. The costs are "unplanned" so therefore, not budgeted for. It would require a minimum of 4-5 days in CA (and sadly my hubby has used up most of his time off), so we would need to figure out if he (or someone else) could be with me in California, plus what to do with the kids here, or what to do with them there. Lots of questions currently unanswered.

So, this is my current dilemma. If I could, I would get on a plane and get it taken care of now. Today. Any pilots available for a fun jaunt to Cali? I'm there. :) Please chime in with your thoughts or suggestions.

On another note, I met with my fabulous facial therapist, Janene, again today. She praised me for the progress I have made and called me a hero for all I have overcome. I love this lady, even though I barely know her!

I have more exercises to do so I can hopefully make more progress, smile my smile, and one day be able to eat and drink without "dripping". The exercises wear out my face as much as your muscles would be sore and worn out after a big workout. Strange, but good.

So, while you are out for a jog, or lifting weights, think of me practicing my smile, pout, snarl and lip presses. We will both be worn out when we are finished.

Make sure to post a comment and guess to enter the current contest from my last post! You still have a few more days to enter!