Thursday, February 28, 2013

Update on Mimi

Oh so much has happened since my last semi-frantic post, but for right now, I'll focus on updating you all on my Mimi's condition and giving you the full story, because that is what is at the forefront of my mind...

Saturday morning and afternoon was punctuated by lazy times spent inside, complete with my dad's famous "clean-up" stew, which basically means that he uses every form of meat and vegetable that we have left over in the refrigerator, plus his choice of seasoning. Sometime in the middle of the afternoon, my mom's phone rang, and I saw that it was Mimi. I answered, and found out that Mimi had fallen in her house and needed someone to come over. Mom and Dad promptly headed over there to assess the situation. I ended up staying home to attend to a few things that needed attending. After a while, Dad let me know that an ambulance had taken my mom and Mimi to the hospital, and he was following them up there. At that point, it was the overall consensus that she had broken some part of her left arm, and they were going to have to immobilize it somehow. The rest of the day left me feeling very thankful for cell phones, because my family was in constant communication that would've been impossible otherwise!

Before continuing in this story, I should add an important detail that everything really hinges upon. Mimi has never been able to tolerate any form of pain medication stronger than basic acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Anything stronger, and her system goes berserk. Keep this in mind as the story progresses...

During the duration of Mimi's ER visit, very little went right. Against the advice of my mom and aunt, Mimi received a strong dosage of morphine. I'll let you guess how well that went for her. (Yep, that well...) After the staff finally realized that, oh, hey, this lady can't tolerate narcotic painkillers, they decided to give her a medication to reverse the effects of the morphine. Add to this the fact that the admitting doctor (who is actually a specialist...what?!) refused to admit her against the advice of the ER doctor, you can sense the frustration that my family felt. I should add that the ER staff only followed orders, and was otherwise great with Mimi. The admitting doctor on the other hand, not so much. They got Mimi to the ER around 4 or 5:00 PM, and she was FINALLY admitted around 4:00 AM on Sunday. I'll spare you my rant on our healthcare system, and suffice it to say that my parents, aunt, and uncle left the hospital around 5:00 and were beyond exhausted and upset. Also, I have no love for that admitting doctor whose name I won't repeat out of respect. Not much happened for Mimi on Sunday, just lots of resting for her, and trying to get the residual morphine out of her system. I finally made it up to see her on Sunday evening, and she didn't really look or sound like herself. I didn't stay took long, though, since I got there later and she really needed to rest.

Monday wasn't much better. She passed out intermittently and ended up needing two units of blood, because she was losing blood somewhere. Let's just say that things weren't looking so great on Monday. Tuesday was a much better day, because she was more alert and acting much more like herself. Liz, Evan, and I went up there for a while that afternoon, and she really perked up at the sight of us. She was joking, smiling, and chatting with us, while dozing off once in a while. Yesterday, she was moved over to the Skilled Nursing Unit, and her nurses have been getting her up more often so that she can regain her strength. They finally bathed her yesterday, although it left her feeling extremely sore and exhausted. My mom and I went up there yesterday afternoon, and she looked much like she did on Tuesday, which was a good thing! In the midst of all of this, they finally found a pain medication other than Tylenol that she can handle, PTL! The physical therapist has also been coming in to exercise her legs, since she has been bedridden since Saturday. It makes me happy to hear that he was impressed by the muscle tone my almost-95-year-old grandma has in her legs! He commented to my mom and her siblings that the activities she was able to do on the first day were  normally what they were eventually able to work up to after three days, for someone her age. Also, a cardiologist, although it wasn't her personal one, came in and ran some scans to see what deal was with her passing out. No news on that front yet, though. She has been taken off of her medication that she was on for her heart condition, which we have all suspected may have caused some of these problems.

Truth be told, in all of the struggles she has faced in the last few days, she/we have been amazed by the simple blessings that have been showered down on us. From my cousins who spent all Sunday with her while my mom and her siblings rested, to the great nursing staff, to her doctor who cares for her in lieu of her regular doctor, to our priest who has called and visited her numerous times, to her best friend who sent her a card that brightened her day, to the fact that her condition is readily improving, to the final, greatest blessing of everyone who has prayed for her healing and recovery.

I'll keep you updated on her condition as she progresses, and I truly, deeply thank you all for your continued thoughts and prayers for her! Have a good day!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Prayer Request

Just a quick note...

I'm sure by now you all are familiar with my beloved grandma, whom I refer to as Mimi. Well, yesterday, she took a nasty spill in her house and ended up with a broken left humerus. There were a few complications that occurred yesterday evening, and she ended up being hospitalized overnight. She should be going home today, but it's been a rough 24 hours for her...

Right now, all I ask is if you could help out my family by sending up some extra good thoughts and prayers for this wonderful woman, because she could really use them! I thank you so much from the bottom of my heart!!!!!

Have a blessed Sunday!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

My Week (Somewhat) in Pictures

I'm sorry my posts have been fairly boring as of late. I haven't been up to anything too particularly exciting and I haven't had much inspiration to write anything otherwise. One day, something will come, but until then, here's some pictures of what has been happening for me!

-Saturday was Cody & Wyatt's Pinewood Derby...

Here's a shot of the Wolf Cubs' derby cars. Cody's is the navy car with American decals on it. He was very proud of how it turned out, and even gave my mom an up-close tour of the cars, telling her all of the details about the other cars. Below is the Tiger Cubs' cars. Wyatt's is the aptly adorned tiger-striped car, which he was also proud of!
I managed to get a shot of Cody & Wyatt together. Wyatt was very enthusiastic about the day, as can be seen from these pictures! He has also perfected his salute! Wyatt ended up getting an award for "Most Awesome" entry for the entire pack, which totally made his day and was perfect for him, because he is always describing various things as "Awesome". Cody ended up getting 2nd place for design in the Wolf Cubs, and was pretty pumped about that, also! I am very proud of their accomplishments, and can't wait to see what else awaits them in years to come!

 Not the greatest shot in the world, but here are the four older boys waiting for the races. You can't quite see little Andy, as he is laying on the ground between Cody and Wyatt. Like last year, Kyle was very much into the races, and was already longing to join in the fun next year as a Tiger Cub. Andy is starting to get excited about the races also, and loved getting to be with the big boys!

-As I mentioned last time, Sunday was my mom's birthday...

Here's my mom's beautifully-decorated birthday cake, brought to us courtesy of Gina's cake decorating classes that she has been taking. It was just as delicious as it looked! Below is a great shot of my mom with all five boys surrounding her with love and joy! Okay, so it wasn't half as serene as it looked in this moment, but you get the idea! I love this picture though, as it is a rare feat to get them together, not napping, grumpy, or making faces, and it turned out perfectly!

They also helped put the candles in Mom's cake, and blow them out. That picture above also turned out great, although Cole wasn't able to join in on that fun, for obvious reasons...him wanting to play with the fire from the candles being the primary one! This picture to the right is my favorite picture of my mom and Mimi. We ended up surprising Mom by inviting her over for our lunch. They both were excited to be together on her birthday. Mimi, who had my mom just before she turned forty, was delighted to still be around to see her celebrate her birthday. Mimi always tells us that she just wanted to see her graduate high school, and now she is blessed to see her with children and grandchildren. I, myself, am blessed to have these two amazing women as models of how to live my own life! Happy Birthday, Mom!!!!!

-Monday was a little bit stressful, for reasons I don't feel like discussing right now. The highlight of the day was that I got to see Emily's family at the basketball game that night! I also got to see my boss's daughter, who I babysat a couple of weeks ago, and absolutely adored! She is a fifth-grader, and greatly reminds me of myself at that age. I don't have any pictures of her and I together, but I do have some great pictures of Emily's boys that should brighten any day!

Kyle has quite the affinity for making crazy faces in
pictures, as can be seen. It is quite the picture of his playful personality, and I love it! Above is Cody and Cole together at the derby, in a classic brotherly-love moment! To the left is Cole, who is showing off his teeth and his huge, happy smile, beneath Wyatt's cowboy hat! After seeing these awesome shots, who couldn't feel better about life! :)

-I have spent quite a bit of time working on Differential Equations homework lately. I love the class and my professor, and am thankful that it isn't going too terribly for me! Just for fun, here's a shot of my notes and homework, so you can see what I mean!

The top picture is from my notes yesterday...if you look closely enough, you can see the various notes I made that corresponded with funny comments my professor made...maybe that will explain why I adore her as a Diff Eq professor! :) In the homework picture, disregard the fact that I did it incorrectly (in case you noticed and were bugged by that?), as I later figured out my mistake and got the right answer!!!

-Last night, I went to see Safe Haven with Tonisha and Mary. No pictures, obviously, but I loved the movie!  It was the perfect blend of romance and action, and yes, I cried multiple times. Oh well; good times, indeed!

-I finally got my wish! Today is a snow day!!! I received a call from the college emergency alert system at 6:00, and it made me so happy that I slept in until 8:30...oh, wait...that's not really sleeping in *that* much. Still, it has made my day completely! Since I'm all caught up on homework, there's no telling what I'll do today...I'm thinking that I'll do as little as possible...that's always a great option! :) I'm thinking about braving the roads later to go to the grocery store, which is only about three blocks away, so it shouldn't be too bad. I really hope that it isn't a madhouse, because I realized this morning that I need milk and bread, and I also started craving this pizza, which I'm thinking about making in a slightly modified version...we shall see!

-In a last note, I saw an adorable picture via Facebook letting me know that my friend, Audra, and her family welcomed their newest member, little Rowan Danny! I am so very happy for them, and wish them nothing but happiness and health in the coming days!

Have a great day!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Ten!

1. I suppose that one of the biggest highlights of this week as of yet was the snow that we received on Tuesday. I loved sitting and watching it fall through the windows in the tutoring room that afternoon. I even enjoyed walking through the snow as it fell on me, which sounds odd, but really, I did! I was really pulling for a snow day yesterday, but, in a good news/bad news scenario, nothing stuck to the roads, and it was 50 degrees yesterday, so you can guess how well that worked out for me. Such is life; I'll get a snow day eventually!

2. Tomorrow, I will be done with my first round of tests in all of my classes! Hallelujah! I have already taken tests in Diff Eq, Statistics, and Psychology, so all that's left is my Humanities class. I am super happy to report that I aced the Psych & Stats tests, and I eked out an A on my Diff Eq test, all thanks to a bonus question, and my teacher's gentle grading! Here's hoping that I'll have similar results on my Humanities test!

3. It is February, which, among LOTS of other things, comes an annual event that is becoming a big deal for my nephews...Pinewood Derby! This will be Wyatt's first year to compete, and Cody's second. Both boys seemed fairly excited about the construction process with their dads. I think that Cody is hoping for a repeat of last year's win, but has been repeatedly reminded to not get his heart set on that. On the other hand, my mom and I jokingly (I emphasize that part) asked him if he thought about using his winning car from last year again this year, and he indignantly told us that that would be cheating, and that he wanted a new car. This brought a smile to my face, to know that he is already aware of the virtues of honesty and integrity. Good luck to both boys! (I think Kyle is getting even more antsy to join in the fun next year...just in case you were wondering!)

4. So, I am still on the workout-wagon, although I took a minor detour the past two days. Tuesday, I inadvertantly overslept, because I apparently muted my alarm instead of snoozing it. Why do they even put mute buttons on alarms anyway? The lesson I learned from that incident is that it is much easier to simply wake up the first time, and not bother hitting the snooze in the first place. Yesterday, I got up just fine, but decided to stay in due to the snow, and my uncertainty about road conditions. For whatever reason, I had a gut feeling that I shouldn't go out, so I decided to heed my own warning and get some much-needed rest. I felt bad skipping out on Liz, but, as she and I have discussed multiple times, sometimes those things that happen are merely signs from God that you would benefit more from the rest than the exercise, and it's perfectly okay.

5. Speaking of Liz, we are going on our "Valentine's" lunch date tomorrow after class! Today, we decided that we needed a special Valentine's event of our own since we are both rocking the single lady status...also, it is a reward, of sorts, for sticking to our workout plan! Win-win, in my books...I can't wait! :)

6. Guess whose birthday is on Sunday?! None other than my awesome mom! I'm not really sure what we're doing, or when anything will happen, but those are minor details! I love celebrating things, especially birthdays, as does the rest of my family, so I'm sure whatever we do will be a blast for us all! Speaking of birthdays, my Aunt Pat celebrated a birthday yesterday, and Carissa's was back on the 2nd. Funny story about her birhtday, I randomly remembered it last Monday after waking up from an afternoon nap, which was two days late as it was, but still! I had to laugh at how my brain works sometimes! Needless to say, I sent her a belated birthday text wishing her well.

7. All of this talk about birthdays reminds me of something huge that is happening in a little over a month from now: my Mimi will be turning 95!!! My mom and her siblings are in the planning stages of a party for her in the near future. A quick update about her, for anyone who is interested, she is doing well, and is still blessed with relatively good health, and a mind as sharp as a tack. She still drives just as well as anyone else, and is still loving her new car immensely! I think that she is just as excited about her party as we are, and for good reasons. I'll have to keep you posted on this event!!!

8. I mentioned this shortly a couple of weeks ago, but it is worth mentioning again: The final season of "The Office" is crazy!!! I have not been a big fan of the Jim/Pam/Brian debacle, but last week's episode resolved things a little bit, I hope. Oddly enough, I am loving the development between Pete and Erin, and I am glad that she finally dumped Andy, who went off the deep end. I see some parallels between their story and Jim & Pam's story. I think the biggest reason that I like the Pete/Erin/Andy story is that it is vaguely reminiscent of events that led up to my recent break-up...except for the fact that I didn't dump Tevis for another man...and he didn't sail off to who-knows-where for three months...still, I'm excited to see where that goes! I still can't believe that the finale will be here in May, and I'm interested/scared/excited/sad to see what they have in store for the rest of the season/series!

9. Last week, I talked about the fact that it was CHD Awareness Week, and today is CHD Awareness Day. All of that discussion has sparked some deep thinking for me, and I feel like it was a bit of divine intervention for me. The biggest thing that I have thought about is how I can help those who still stand to face this struggle every day, and has made me consider different ways that I can serve as an advocate. Right now, there is one idea that stands out in my head above others, but it would be a relatively large undertaking for me at the present time. It would require a lot of work on my part, but could have an awesome effect if it was done right. For the time being, I will hold onto my dream, do my homework, and see what I can do. I'll divulge more details eventually, but right now, I need to zero in on my goal, to see how attainable it is. The biggest take-away from this is that I firmly believe that this is something that I have been called to do to help keep Michelle's memory alive and give hope to those who battle, and I will do everything in my power to see this dream through!!!

10. Last, but not least, Happy Valentine's Day to everyone! In case you were wondering, my big plan for the evening is a hot date with my Humanities book/study materials...the procrastination bug may or may not have bit me, and I'm paying for it and learn! It always amazes me how hot and cold people can be about Valentine's Day. There are so many people who insist that it is a trite holiday that is only for those in a relationship or who have a "special someone" in their life, and loathe everything having to do with it. Then, there are the people who insist that it is the only way to show your love for someone else, and it isn't complete without roses, chocolate, jewelry, or other things of the sort. I like to think that I fall somewhere between the two extremes, and regard it as I do most other holidays. While I do feel that there are lots of commercialization/marketing ploys at work, and I often think that some people can take it to an unhealthy extreme, I appreciate the thought behind it. We have holidays to celebrate our thankfulness, the new year, national independence, the coming of Jesus, national icons/religious figures, etc., why not have a holiday dedicated to those we love? Yes, you should always make an effort to make your loved ones feel loved, thus negating the purpose of Valentine's Day, but you could say the same about any other holiday! Like I said above, I love celebrating anything worth celebrating, and, by golly, we have a day to celebrate love, so go celebrate love however you feel appropriate!!! Even if it's just your friends and family that you have, do something special for them! They're worth it!!! :) (I'll step off my soapbox now...)

Have a great day!!!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Broken Heart, Of A Different Kind

What I'm about to write is something that is difficult for me to really discuss at length, but is definitely worthy of a post. With that in mind, I apologize in advance for my disjointed thoughts...

I have gone on the record of saying multiple times how utterly bizarre/eccentric/weird I think that my Ancient Arts & Cultures professor is. Well, after today, I have to retract those statements, as I feel morally obligated.  Why, you ask? Well, today, she started class by telling us a little story about her son. Little did I know that this story would shake me up quite a bit.

She began by pulling up her personal Facebook page, which contained some content that was kinda awkward for us to see, which left us all feeling extremely weirded out, as usual. She finally fumbled through her page to pull up a picture of a little boy holding up a proclamation from the OK Governor. She went on to tell us that the little boy was her son, and the proclamation was declaring that February 7-14 be designated as CHD Awareness Week. At this point, I wasn't entirely sure what a CHD was, much like the rest of my class. After a small class poll seeing who actually knew what it was, my teacher went on to explain that CHD stood for Congenital Heart Disease...three words that stopped me in my tracks. Her vibrant, seven-year-old son, who is the same age as my nephew, Wyatt, was born with a CHD, has already had two open-heart surgeries, and is on a waiting list for another one. His, like many was diagnosed soon after birth, only by performing an O2 Saturation test. His first surgery happened when he was about two months old; the second, when he was about two. His life is more fragile than most, and my teacher told us about the fear of having to possibly plan her son's funeral, which is sadly a real possibility with his condition. She went on to say that she is a member of a group dedicated to the parents of child heart patients, and she is merely trying to raise awareness for CHDs, because they are one of the leading causes of death in children. She explained that, although she may come off as weird in class, that she always tries to be upbeat, but, really she is always plagued with the fears of what may happen to her son, etc. She explained that when she teaches, she gets really excited about it, because it takes her mind off her struggles at home. She went on to tell us about her 18-month-old daughter, who is perfectly healthy. She told us about her struggles during her second pregnancy, how she lived in constant fear of repeating everything that happened with her son, but was relieved to know that her daughter had no health issues, and had a fully functioning, virtually perfect heart.

So, what is the significance of this long story? Why did it "stop me in my tracks"? Why is it difficult for me to talk about this, like I said earlier?

As you know, I have two older sisters, Gina and Emily. What you might not know is that I have another older sister, Michelle, who falls right between Emily and me, age-wise. Michelle was born with a CHD. She wasn't diagnosed right away, because she seemed fairly normal. Eventually, my parents noticed some things that didn't seem right, and soon thereafter, she was diagnosed with a deformed right ventricle. She went through at least two surgeries, although, the last one was her final one. As in, she died during surgery. The doctors were going in to clean up some scar tissue from a previous surgery, which entailed putting a patch on her heart. In the process of all of this, a blood clot formed near the patch, and was what caused her untimely death. She had just turned two a mere two months prior. Quite the tragic end to a short life. What followed was a total upheaval in my family's life, as you could only imagine. Imagine my parents' (Mostly my mom) surprise, when two years later, they found out that they were expecting me. As I have been told numerous times, my mom lived in fear during the entire pregnancy, which wasn't helped by her constant sickness she faced. When I was born, she was very insistent that everything possible be done to test that I had a fully-functioning heart. Much to everyone's delight, I was a healthy little girl.

As great as the fact that I'm alive and well is, it doesn't, and never will change the fact that Michelle is no longer with us. What I know about Michelle is dependent upon what everyone else has told me, and from pictures I have seen of her. That is all I have of my sister. Honestly, I'm not even entirely sure that the story I just told you about her is completely true, only because I wasn't there to experience it, and the story gets turned around in my head after so long. Besides, I'm sure one of my sisters or my mom would correct me if I'm wrong.

I never got to meet Michelle, so it really isn't accurate for me to say that I miss her, because that would imply that she was a part of my life that I came to know and love, and was eventually taken away from me. I guess it is more accurate for me to say that I have an emptiness, of sorts, because I never got to experience her for myself. I am grateful that I have people to tell me about her, to help me know more of what she was like, beyond the pictures of her that hang on our walls at home. I often wonder what it would be like if she was still here, if I would've gotten to meet her, what kind of relationship we would have, how different everything might be if she was still alive. What I think about most is that there is a reasonable chance that if she were still alive, I might have never come to be. Which leaves me in a strange frame of mind, and is where things begin to get difficult for me. Obviously, there is a reason that Michelle was brought into and taken from this world, just as there is with each and every one of us. When my own state of being becomes somewhat connected with the loss of my own sister, I wonder about my own purpose in this world. Not like, I question my existence and think suicidal thoughts, no, no, no. More like, it makes me realize how fragile life is, and that it is far too ephemeral to spend it without purpose.

This is difficult for me to write about, because it is something I try not to think about that often. Like I said earlier, that's why my thoughts are somewhat scattered. I will end by leaving you with the same challenge my teacher left for us: During CHD awareness week, wear red, at least once, and tell someone why you're wearing red. The official CHD day is on Valentine's day, which is when I plan on sporting red for my big sister, for my friend's son, Zane, for my teacher's son, and for all of the kiddos who face this fight every day of their lives. It isn't much to ask, but it is a start in raising awareness for this tragic condition. Thank you all!