One Day at a Time

I have no idea what to title this entry. My brain is awhirl with questions, what if, why, how? First let me say that God has used this entire year of 2015 to strengthen my faith. It’s been hard. Very hard. In January, after having some gastric issues in the fall I went in for a colonoscopy. Not only could I feel them trying to manipulate my insides to get through, I could hear myself moaning. Because I take several different medications, the normal “twilight” they use didn’t get me all the way under. They couldn’t get through. My doctor thought perhaps the prep had not worked well enough so we rescheduled for 10 days later in the OR under general anesthesia. The prep was a 2-day ordeal, no solid food for 48 hours plus the usual prep. Ugh. By the time I reached the OR check-in I was shaking. Unfortunately, the same result came of this. My doctor could still not get through to the end of my colon. This is when we realized that most likely there was a blockage from adhesions/scar tissue from several former abdominal surgeries I’d had. Not surprising since I’ve been on chronic pain medication for three years because of this pelvic scar tissue.

That left one option. Surgery. This wasn’t going to get better. It would get worse and I didn’t want to get into a total blockage situation and have to have emergency surgery. Surgery was scheduled for April 20, 2015. I only waited that long so that I could have Botox treatments for my migraines, which were terrible.

Here we are at April 20th. Surgery takes longer than expected because there is so much scar tissue. The surgeon removed as much as he could laparoscopically but then had to convert to open surgery to resect two inches of colon. Just the thing I’d feared. Surgery took 4 1/2 hours instead of 2 1/2. As usual after any surgery, the get your butt out of bed and moving ASAP. I djdn’t even have a catheter…thank goodness! Sorry if TMI but you’re going to hear more of that as this entry goes on.

All was proceeding well, I was eating soft food, but on day three, I started burping horribly. All of a sudden, I told my husband, Scott, and the nurse in the room at the time, Kathleen,  “I’m about to throw up!” The nurse quickly got the wash tub they leave in your room (not the little kidney-shaped bowl thingie, mind you, but the WASH tub). I started throwing up and it was nothing but old, dark blood with big red clots in it. I was scared to death. I did that twice and probably lost about 1 1/2 liters of blood. The doctor came immediately. I was sort of out of it at this point, and they almost immediately decided that I needed an NG tube. For those of you who don’t know what that is, I pray you never have to experience it. It’s a nasogastric tube that goes down your nose, down your throat, down your esophagus and into your stomach. It was horrible. They made me drink Sprite so I would swallow while they were pushing the tube down my nose and throat. At one point I literally called out,  “Dear Jesus please help me!” And I wasn’t joking. My doctor, bless him, sat for an hour  watching what came out of my system to make sure I wasn’t actively bleeding inside. I had to have the tube for 18 hours to get all that out of my system. No more food, just ice chips. Thank goodness for hospital ice chips!

Once the tube was out, we had to start all over. All total I was in the hospital 9 days for what should have been a 2-3 day stay. I was so glad to be home! Two weeks later on May 5th I saw my surgeon for a check-up and all was well. He told me I could eat a hamburger and I was so excited. Unfortunately, later that night I woke up shaking uncontrollably with my temperature skyrocketing. Off we went to the ER. By the time we got there, after having to stop for me to throw up, my temperature was 103.7. The immediately gave me Tylenol and took a lung x-ray. Sure enough, pneumonia in my right lung. A course of 4 different antibiotics was started, round the clock, for 4 days. On day 3 my attending doctor wouldn’t let me go home because my hemoglobin was so low. The next day it had come up a bit so I was given the ok to leave. In hindsight, I wish they had given me a blood transfusion then.

I was of work 10 weeks. When I went back I couldn’t work full-time because I was so tired. After several blood workups it was discovered that I was severely anemic.I took the bull by the horns and made an appointment with the hematologist who treated me for anemia in 2006 before my hysterectomy. She immediately started iron infusions…my hemoglobin was 7.2 and my ferritin was 5.2. Ferritin should be anywhere from 11 – 240…I had literally none. During this time I changed to part-time status at work for 30 hours a week, which I’m still doing. After five rounds of iron infusions, my hemoglobin was 12.2…normal! And my ferritin was a whopping 403! Did I feel better…Yes!!! Praise the Lord! During the anemia my doctor gave me a slip to get a temporary handicapped handtag for my car because it took literally everything I had to walk from my car into work every day.

So, things are looking up, right? On October 16th I went in for my yearly mammogram. That was a Friday. On the next Tuesday my gyn’s office called and said there were three areas that weren’t on my last mammogram 16 months ago and he wanted a targeted mammogram of those areas plus ultrasound. Red flags go up. On Friday, October 23rd I was back at the breast cancer imaging offices having these things down. The exact words of the radiologist who looked at my ultrasound were, “Regardless of what the American Cancer Society says, this is why we tell you to come in every year. If you had waited til next year, this would have been a big problem.” Would? Not could? OK. She ordered two core needle biopsies for Wednesday, November 4th. Not pleasant but not horrible. 3-5 days for results.

I got tired of waiting and called on Friday, November 6th. The nurse who answered said one area biopsied was clear but the other was pending and a doctor would call shortly. Pending? Really? I just happened to call when you are between looking at the two biopsies? Red flag. A doctor calls me within 15 minutes and tells me one area was clear but the other, unfortunately, was cancerous. Excuse me? Are you talking about me? Even though I noted those couple of red flags, I still wasn’t prepared for what I heard. I just sat there. He told me the nurse navigator would be calling me the following week to schedule an MRI and an appointment with a surgeon.

I hung up the phone, stunned. 4:00 p.m., Friday afternoon, November 6th…and I now have breast cancer. I walked in the Komen 3-Day Walk in Atlanta in 2009 and 2010 so I’ve always been a big supporter of breast cancer research, but when it’s YOU that research is now affecting, it’s a whole different ballgame. My MRI is this coming Friday, October 13th and I see the surgeon the same day at 12:30 p.m.

My whole family and hometown is praying for me. I won’t hide my light behind a bushel and be scared to humble myself and ask for prayers. I crave them, I covet them, I want them, I need them. God is mighty and whatever He has planned for me, I will get through it. The power of prayer is strong and my faith is strong too. God knows what is happening, He has it in His hands. And I, his grateful and obedient servant will be forever grateful for the day when I was 8 years old and He took away my sins when I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. Remember the old gospel song, “One Day at a Time, Sweet Jesus?” That’s how I’m taking it now. One day at a time. And no, I won’t hide behind a bushel for my God is an awesome God…and He is good, always!!!

The Day I Was Saved

I had the most awesome experience at a doctor’s office recently. I was there to get Botox for my migraines and was seeing a doctor I hadn’t seen before. I heard him say goodbye to the patient next door by saying, “Have a blessed day.” That peaked my curiosity. When he came in to see me, I told him I wanted to get the migraines under control before my upcoming surgery and how nervous I was about this surgery. After he finished the Botox injections (ouch!), he look at me and said, “I don’t know your life views or anything like that, but Easter is this weekend. What do you think about that? Truth or a bunch of hooey?” I looked him square in the eye and said, “I believe Jesus died for my sins on that cross 2,015 years ago with all my heart and soul, and nothing will ever persuade me differently. When I die, I will go to heaven, and I can’t wait!”

Evidently this doctor had been raised as a Seventh-Day Adventist in Colorado. They were taught that man is on top, not God. When they die, they believe they lay in a box. That’s it. They’re done. So, at some point, this doctor’s brother committed suicide by hanging himself. Thinking of his brother just gone, just lying in a box for eternity, was not comforting to him. I don’t know a lot about this religion but the part he was in was pretty radical. Around this same time his wife was being lead to participate a Christian Bible study and asked him to join her. He said “Hell no!” She said “Pretty please?” and so he did. I asked him what happened. He said, “I saw the truth.” I said, so what are you now?”, meaning what religion did he practice, but he surprised me by saying, “Just a dumb-ass Christian saved by Grace.”

What a GREAT visit that was. I feel like we could have talked for hours over this…forget the Botox! A friend’s recent blog entry makes me think of when I was saved by Grace. A lot of people don’t believe young children understand enough to be saved, but I beg to differ. When I was 8 years old, for several Sundays in a row when the alter call was given (I was raised good ‘ole Southern Baptist where the preacher wiped his brow every 5 minutes while preaching the gospel!), I felt this tug at my heart. My heart pounded and I felt like I should go up front. I fought this feeling for at least a month of Sundays. I’m typically shy and didn’t like the thought of going in front of the whole church. Finally, on about the fifth Sunday, the tug and pull was so strong I truly believed that God might strike me mute if I didn’t go forward and proclaim that I believed that he had died for my sins. So I did. I slipped out of the pew, by myself, while the congregation was praying, and went up and knelt at the alter. The preacher came over and we talked. He made very sure that I understood what I was proclaiming. I sobbed greatly with relief. My Mom came to my side and after the altar call, I was presented to the church as a shiny, new Christian. Such a peace came over me at that moment that I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my God was real! And he loved me! I’m glad I remember the day I was saved so vividly; it always puts special joy in my heart because it was the start of my road as a Christian which He has only strengthened during the years.

This Sunday, however you celebrate Easter, think about the true meaning behind the holiday. It’s not just a story, it’s the story of how you and I were saved by Grace. Grace overflowing from God’s son as he sacrificed himself for you and me that we might have eternal life…because we don’t just lie in a box after death. What a beautiful, wonderful memory to have. Do you remember when you were saved? Saved by Grace and the blood of Jesus? Feel free to share if you do!

Four Months Later

So strangely, it’s almost exactly four months to the day since I wrote my last entry. I don’t seem to be as “inspired” as I used to. It’s not that I don’t love my family to the moon and back or anything like that, but I need something to spur me on to write. And when I start, I find it difficult to stop. It hasn’t been like that in a long time. And you know what’s really sad? I have a friend from high school…his wife committed suicide on March 19th and he’s pouring his hurting heart out in a blog to help himself deal with her decision to take herself away from him and his two beautiful daughters. And I can’t even pull myself together enough to blog about how much I love life. Hmmm….But I know what’s wrong.

It’s “that time of year.” Yes, I have the “after winter blues.” It starts during the holiday season but after all the holidays, college bowl games, NCAA Championship Game, NFL playoffs, and the Superbowl are done, well, so am I. It’s like the huge letdown. But it shouldn’t be like that. Shouldn’t I just be in love with life and be happy that I’m here every day, have a loving husband and family who care about me, and go from there?

This year I turned the big 50 on March 25th. I reconnected with two old friends on Facebook and they wanted to throw me a 50th birthday part. I agreed; I haven’t had an actual birthday party thrown in my honor since I was 21. Not kidding. I actually asked for a 40th birthday party but evidently my dear husband couldn’t get himself together to do it. That made me feel great. Not. He’s great and I love him, but he’s not very romantic…he has to be practically hit over the head with an iron skillet. Bless his little pea-pickin’ heart. 😉

Anyway, Marla B and Holly and I decided on March 23rd, a Saturday, two days before my actual birthday. To be quite honest, I was blown away. I know that I have people who love me. But the people who showed up on such short notice (about two weeks) just blew my mind. First and foremost was Lucynda Worthington Moore…one of my favorite former roommates! Lucy and I haven’t seen each other in years but have kept up with letters, Christmas cards and now Facebook. I’ve watched her move to Neenah, WI when her husband took a job with Kimberly-Clark, when she moved to Atlanta when John took a job with Coca-Cola (she lived here for TWO years and I never saw her…sad, huh?), and now she’s back in SC near her family with her own architectural business. I couldn’t have been happier to see her!

 

Lucy & Me

 

 
Then who gets out of their car? Mike & Annette Corron! I’ve known Annette since 1982…and again, the party woudn’t have been the same without her and Mike!

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Let’s see, who’s next??? Becky & Jim!!! Jim drove from Charleston to meet Becky in Columbia and they drove up for the party! OMG! I was just floored! And again, no way this party would have been the same without them!

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Who else??? Wow…out gets Kitty! Susan Helmly! I’ve known Susan since middle school and she helped make my special day even more so! Below is a special picture of me, Kitty and Tim…we’ve all known each other the longest and this is a very special picture to me now!

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The best part was that Holly offered us the use of the “Hillton” room at her house! What an awesome idea! Anyone who knows my sweet husband knows that when he’s done, he’s done…especially at a party. So I knew that come 10 or 11 p.m., he would be ready to go. Well, if we stayed at the Marriott in Clemson, wow, that would really put a damper on me wanting to stay and have a great time with all those folks who came to make my day special. Having the “Hillton” downstairs meant that Scott could just go downstairs and go to bed! Wow…Holly, you have no idea how much that meant to me! And Scott did disappear, but not until about midnight. The rest of us stayed up until about 1:30 a.m.; how much fun it was to listen to 80s music, dance, laugh and reminiscence!

Here’s hoping that I get to have a big 75th birthday party too…now won’t that be fun!!!! 😉

Happy 2013!!!

As I sit here listening to the playoff game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Seattle Seahawks, with the Georgia Dome’s roof about to explode off, I am reminded of everyone in Time Square on New Year’s Eve. My husband made me stay up to actually ring in the New Year with a glass of champagne this year. In the past few years we’ve just fallen asleep and had mimosas the next morning! Well, we did that too this year, of course. New Year’s Day and the preparations for a good Southern New Year’s Day traditional meal is my favorite holiday and meal of the year. It’s like happiness just consumes me. Actually getting up early, washing and prepping the collard, mustard and turnip greens to cook, soaking the black eyed peas overnight, parboiling them, rinsing them again…now it’s time to really start cooking! First, the greens. All into a huge pot they go, cover in water (because they are going to cook all day!), add chopped onion, generous amounts of salt, pepper, sugar, chopped ham, ham bouillion (or chicken if you can’t find the elusive ham!), tabasco or whatever pepper sauce is on hand. You will notice I do not cook with a ham hock. This is the only thing I don’t do that my Mom and grandmothers did. It’s just healthier, and the ham chunks and bouillion taste just as good! Turn the temperature on the burner up so it will eventually boil and then turn down, add more water, and let simmer. Mmmmm. Now, to start the peas. Do pretty much the same to them as to the greens really…all the same stuff except no sugar please! Let them boil slowly because they will get done well before the greens if you don’t.

While you’re doing all this it’s good to go ahead and boil whatever eggs you want for deviled eggs, I swear my husband’s favorite food! He takes over after they are boiled and ready; he’s actually MY sous chef for this day…he cooks the rest of the year mostly, but on this day, it’s my kitchen! Once he’s peeled the eggs he arranges my area to put the eggs together in a masterful mix of boiled egg yolks, sweet pickle relish, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, mayonnaise and a couple of ingredients I will not give away here. My little secret. The folks at work also request these little gems of deliciousness almost every year at our Thanksgiving divisional dinner. I now have 5 deviled egg dishes: my great Clemson Tiger dish (a gift from my sister-in-law), my crystal dish (a wedding gift), my black & white chicken dish (inherited from my mother-in-law’s kitchen), my Christmas china Christmas tree dish (another gift from my sister-in-law), and the ever present Rubbermaid plastic container to refill when the nice dishes start getting egg empty!

After the wonderful little yellow & white ovals are ready for the fridge and are delicately placed to get good and cold, time to relax. Which usually means getting dressed! And enjoying a cup of coffee, most likely my second or third of the day. Checking out the Tournament of Roses Parade on TV, checking on the greens and peas, every so often, adding water as needed. Once the greens lose their bright green color and start getting that more dark olive color, it’s time to start tasting and testing consistency. How much longer do they need to cook? Have they lost their pungent taste, the icky crunchiness? Are they getting towards being soft and getting that mixture of slightly sweet but acidic goodness? More sugar, salt, pepper, pepper sauce, maybe ham, and water are added as needed. There is no measuring when cooking greens. It’s all years of trial and error, tasting, failed attempts, and lots and lots of love.

Black eyed peas aren’t as picky, the little devils! They flavor pretty easily because they are sort of blank pallettes. Once they have the right taste and have boiled a bit, they can go on a very low simmer and just be watched to add water. I always keep tasting, just to make sure, you know, that they have that just right taste and don’t lose it. They never have; I don’t know why I think they will after I get them just right…but that’s the Southern cook in me I guess. I am definitely a taste cook. I would never, ever serve anyone anything that I have not tasted first! And if it doesn’t taste right? Well, I have been known to either trash it (if it was bad enough) or keep it at home for our consuption. This doesn’t happen often these days; I am about to be the big 5-0 this year so I hope, even though I don’t cook every day, that I have learned a few tricks of the trade over the years.

When greens, peas, and eggs are ready, cornbread is last! I love making cornbread! Once it comes out of the skillet, it’s time to eat! Scott has cooked whatever pork he feels like; some years it’s a smoked pork butt, sometimes a pork loin, sometimes pork chops, and sometimes just bought BBQ! But whatever it is, the meal is literally my favorite of the year. We have enough leftovers for an army so we eat it a couple of times, freeze the greens and then eat them whenever we feel like it for the next 2-4 months.

No one ever taught me to cook. My Mom and grandmothers and aunts never sat me down and gave me lessons or formally let me cook things. It’s all osmosis. Living in a big Southern family, just being in the kitchen with everyone when the big meals were being prepared, helping my Mama Nan fix biscuits, helping prepare the fruit salad at Thanksgiving, watching Mom fix potato salad oh so many times over the years. There are a few things I actually have recipes for but they are mostly all sweets since baking is an exact art; lemon meringue pie, pound cake, etc. But don’t ask me the recipe for macaroni & cheese; it’s in my head and I never measure anything. It turns out a bit differently every time, sometimes creamier, sometimes drier, sometimes juicier, sometimes browner and more crisp on top. But always cheesy and rich! Never, ever cut corners on mac & cheese; it’s a sin in the South!

And once all the food is gone, the naps have been taken and the mind is preparing for work once again, I can start dreaming of next holiday season and my favorite day of the year!

Happy New Year everyone!!!

The Holidays 2011

So, since my September post, things have not gotten much better. My migraines continue to plague me and Scott’s diagnosis of Epstein Barr sometimes hits him full force and just takes him down. On September 19th, his mother was admitted to the hospital with a UTI and after a very long, protected process where things spiraled ever downward, she passed away on November 22, five days after her 89th birthday and two days before Thanksgiving. She was in a wonderful hospice where she was able to pass peacefully with her children by her side. Needless to say, this has caused stress, regardless of the fact that at the end it was a celebration of a life well lived.

I now look forward to bladder surgery to hopefully give relief from a situation called Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome which is linked to things like chronic pelvic pain  (which I deal with on a daily basis) and migraines. Hmmmm…could simply stretching the bladder help all this? I’m willing to take the chance on December 20th since it’s a short, out-patient procedure. Please pray that this helps all these debilitating problems right now.

My wonderful Scott is dealing with his mom’s death better than could be expected, and we have moved on to things like cleaning out the house and all that someone dying entails.

I am not a holiday person; I’m a very scheduled person so the holidays make me sort of blue and depressed. I have moments of pure joy and enjoyment from them, but by the New Year, I am ready to go back to work and have a schedule. I know…I’m weird, right?!

This year, unfortunately because of Scott’s mom’s passing, we will be spending the whole Christmas holiday with my family in SC, something I haven’t done since before marrying Scott and he’s never actually done it. Please pray that we don’t kill each other before the end of it!  LOL…just kidding! It’s something I’m looking forward to greatly!

Holidays are meant for family and to be enjoyed, and I intend to try with all my might to do that this year with the good Lord’s help. Thank you God for sending your Son on that cold night in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago so that we could have everlasting life. If we all remember what Christmas is all about, maybe more joy will be had and people will slow down to look around and enjoy the blessings they have. There are always those who are worse off than you, always. Today I am thankful for a family who loves me and Scott, and would do anything to help us. We feel the same way and send you all CHRISTMAS greetings during this most wonderful time of the year!

Much Love,

Lisa and Scott

Getting old is hard!

I cannot believe it’s been almost a year and a half since I have posted to my blog! A lot has happened in that 16 months for sure so here comes the update!

January 2010 – differences between my boss and me force me to start looking for another job. I’ve been at this job for almost 10 years and am sad to leave.

July 12th 2010 – I leave Assessment Plus and start work at Emory University’s Woodruff Library…I am SO excited!!!!

August 2010 – Due to a severe adverse reaction to a migraine medication, I go into stage 5 kidney failure. Fortunately I recover but it was a scary time.

October 2010 – I walk the Susan G. Komen for the Cure 3-Day for the second year in a row! Unfortunately, I probably damaged my feet vascularly and in 2011 will be crewing instead of walking. After the 3-Day my feet swelled horribly and I had to go to the doctor for a diagnosis. She put me on an extra water pill every day and after three days they were pretty much back to normal…whew!

February 2011 – Joined vanpool for work, including driving it. All went well until…

April 11, 2011 – After having a routine mammogram and getting back normal results, something “not right” starts happening with my right breast. My gyn says, “let’s watch it for a month. I think you may have been bruised during the mammogram.” While I’m not sure this is true, I go along with it but after a month the something strange is still happening. On May 6th I am in a breast specialist’s office having more mammograms and ultrasounds. The radiologist has me back in the following Monday after locating a slight thickening in my right breast that wasn’t there the year before. They performed a ductogram to pinpoint a 5 mm polyp in one of my milk ducts. All I’ll say is that you don’t want to have a ductogram unless you have to. No pain meds and tiny needles going places you never imagined WHILE they are doing a mammogram. Not nice. The only way to diagnose if this is maglignant or benign is a excisional breast biopsy which is done under general anesthesia. They take out the polyp, the milk duct and the surrounding tissue to biopsy. 98% of these cases are benign. I’m scheduled for this on May 24th.

April 28, 2011 – In the midst of all the scariness surrounding my mammogram and biopsy, I have a really freak accident on the vanpool which leaves a huge hematoma on the top of my right foot, and I find it hard to walk. After a visit to the clinic on campus confirming that nothing was broken, a visit to the podiatrist’s office gave me the bad news that I have to have it removed surgically! It is sitting on a nerve and a blood vessel, thus causing much discomfort and extra swelling. This surgery is scheduled for June 8th, two weeks after the biopsy.

Needless to say that during this whole time many prayers were being said by my family and friends. At some points I just simply reached out for God’s hand; that was all I could do other than get through the day-to-day of getting up, going to work and coming home. My poor Scott was suffering too with his h-pylori virus and its treatment with antibiotics so again, needless to say, we weren’t the best company for awhile.

My biopsy was benign (thank you Jesus!) and the foot surgery was easy. Recovery from the foot surgery was very aggrevating since I couldn’t get said foot wet for two weeks…are you kidding me????

I am finally back in the pink as far as the foot and breast go, but now it seems my knees are giving out on me. Arthritis is my guess. Trip to the ortho in a couple of weeks. I’m hoping cortisone shots will do the trick. Get old is no fun, that’s for sure!

Daffodils!

I know spring is upon us when the daffodils start blooming. Every year when I see my first daffodils, it’s like a little ray of sunshine warms my soul. Daffodils are my birthday month flower so maybe that’s why I’m particular to them. What’s more likely is that because my grandmother (Mama Nan) had a yard full of them, they hold a special place in my heart.  I can remember walking around the yard in springtime and Mama Nan telling me the names of the different kinds of daffodils. I can’t remember them all, but my favorites have always been the double bloom variety. One in particular is called “Butter & Eggs.” Or at least that’s what I remember Mama Nan telling  me.

Now the other flowers are starting to come out too, slowly but surely, but the daffodils are the first heralds of spring to me!