Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Surgery Tomorrow

The last weeks have been a whirlwind. Tomorrow is the big day. I will be having surgery to have the tumor removed from my pituitary. The surgery itself is only a couple of hours, but I will be in the hospital until Sunday. It was determined that I have Acromegaly. Of course, when the doctor said it is rare, we just laughed. Story of my life.
Having a tumor on your pituitary is not rare, but there are different kinds. Some release hormones, while others do nothing. The one I have is releasing growth hormone, which means if I were a child, I would have GIGANTISM! How funny is that? I am fully convinced that God has a sense of humor. I am one of the smallest adults I know, and I have an abundance of growth hormone?!
Although, because I am an adult and my growth plates are fused, it would only affect my hands, feet, and facial bones. The doctor asked me if I had noticed any changes. My wedding ring has been feeling tight, and some of my shoes uncomfortable, but nothing so significant that I would have gone to the doctor. I have some other symptoms too, but there is no way I would have connected them together. Cory got the biggest kick out of it and started calling me "Man Hands"! Awesome, right?There are fewer than 20,000 cases a year of acromegaly, and I am so lucky they caught it before I was having extreme symptoms or changes to my body.

After this diagnosis from my endocrinologist the real fun began. He said that one of the best neurosurgeons in the world practices right here in Salt Lake City. He said he has only ever had 12 people with this condition, and 9 were cured after surgery. The other 3 did not go to the surgeon he was referring me to. We were thrilled. How lucky is that to have one of the best so close to home?
Then the insurance rained down pretty hard on my parade. I won't go into too many details, but I will just say that after weeks and weeks of back and forth, we are going out of network, to my endocrinologist's referral and having the surgery done at the University of Utah with Dr. Couldwell. He has done over 3,000 pituitary surgeries, and is one of the best in the world. Especially with my history, and the fact that this tumor is so close to my carotid artery, we decided it wasn't worth the risk. But if you see us on the corner with a cardboard sign, you will know why we are out there!

Figuring out how we were going to pay for the surgery was more stressful than worrying about the surgery itself. I felt this heavy, heavy cloud over me constantly, and I couldn't get it to go away. I don't even know how many hours I spent on the phone with doctors offices and the insurance, trying to sort it all out. Plus, we had no surgery date. So trying to coordinate how everything would work when I was in the hospital was hard, not knowing when I would actually be in the hospital. Even yesterday, two days before my surgery, there were still hiccups and the threat of the surgery date changing. It has been pure craziness.

I finally went to the LDS Temple in Ogden this last Saturday. This temple was remodeled and was open to the public for tours in the fall of 2014. After my first jaw surgery, after being cooped up in the house for several weeks, we decided to hop in the car and take the kids to go and see it. I still had my jaw wired shut, walked with a cane, and was enormously swollen. Since I couldn't walk well, especially on stairs, one of the temple volunteers wheeled me around in a wheelchair. She took me wherever I wanted, and let me stay as long as I wanted in each room, all while Cory walked around with our kids. Sitting in this same Temple, now re-dedicated, a few days ago, having come so far from almost three years ago was surreal. It reminded me of how far I have come, and how many miracles and blessing I have received. 
The weight I have been feeling was lifted off of me. I was reassured (Again) that everything would turn out well. I got the impression that I just need to take all of the energy and stress and turn it into something positive. That if I stop wasting energy on negative thoughts and worries, that I would have more than enough to overcome this next challenge. I am so grateful for the peace that only the Savior can bring. I am so grateful to not have to bear my burdens alone. Having faith that everything will turn out well takes practice, and lots of reminders.  
Even Peter doubts in The New Testament-Matthew 14:29-31:
 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, 
O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?





I have had some very good news also...I found out a few weeks ago that I got into Nursing School! I am beyond excited! But I wasn't sure if I needed to defer my enrollment or if I could go ahead. It starts next week! But the doctors said I should be feeling okay within a couple of weeks and that I should be fine to go ahead and start. This was such a relief and such good news. Now my goal is to get better quickly so I can move on to better things.

You would think with everything I have been through, that I would never forget the important things. But I do! I am once again so humbled to have such an amazing husband, and family, and angel friends (you know who you are) who save me time and again. They make me laugh when I am stressed, and encourage me when I am down, and kick my butt when I need that too.
I am so grateful for a loving God, and for Jesus Christ who brings me so much peace.

I know now, that everything will turn out fine tomorrow. I am in great hands, and I hope the next time I am in a hospital it will be because I am working as a nurse!








Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Sequel Is Never As Good As The Original!

A couple of months ago I was sitting in church
 listening to a wonderful lesson on Trials.
 I was handed a small card and asked to
write down some of my current trials. 
Yes, it was the middle of tax season,
meaning my husband was never home. 
Of course I was exhausted and drained from parenting alone. 
But I had nothing to write down. 
My mind was blank. 
My life is so good! 
*Cue "Jaws" music*
It was the eery calm that comes right before a storm, 
or using my past experiences as a reference, a Tsunami.

Time went on, Tax season ended, life is good.
I even had plans to get my eyes checked
 to see if I could get Lasik surgery!
Glasses for a whole week before
my appointment was brutal!
But I knew it would be worth it!!



Now, I have some things to write on that card.
I had my routine MRI scan done a few weeks ago 
to check the area of my head and face where my jaw was removed.
http://coryandamandab.blogspot.com/2014/08/post-surgery-update.html

I was at the paint store the next day with my 8 year old daughter 
when I missed a phone call from my Dr.'s office.
It was a Friday after 5p.m., and the office manager asked
 that I call her cell phone.
(I knew that was not a good sign!)
I called her back, and she said my MRI scan was abnormal, 
and I needed another, plus a CT scan.
There was that stupid "Jaws" music again!

My 8 year old daughter could hear all of this,
and as I hung up she started saying, "Oh no, oh no, oh no." 
I tried my best to hold it together
and reassure her that everything was fine.
I was trying to convince myself.
We got home and I went into my room to tell Cory and I finally cried.
Like, crumple to the floor ugly cry.
The tears were a mixture of worry, anger, and more worry.
I put in my time of being sick. I feel great, 
and I am too busy to be sick again.
After about 2 minutes of tears,
I got up and dried my eyes,
and started working on distracting myself. 
I painted a bathroom to help me pass the time.
Waiting for answers is the worst part!
The paint was dark dark brown before.



Fast Forward a week (and 5lbs. of stress eating) 
and I finally have some answers.
The area I had surgery initially in 2014 actually looks great.
Nothing abnormal, thank goodness!

But my pituitary gland wanted to join the party
 and decided to grow a tumor of it's own!
Another Freaking Tumor!
Doesn't it know that was SO 2014?!

I am having more tests done to decide how best to treat it/remove it.
Of course, my tumors are friendly
and like to grow right up to surrounding body parts.
So it is looking like surgery will be in my near future.

This type of tumor is much more common than the one I had before.
The uncommon part is how fast it has showed up.
 I have had lots of scans after all.

So, for now, no Lasik for me.
(I am SO bummed!!!)
But you all are still stuck with me, 
this isn't going to kill me anytime soon.
I am not too stressed about it all.
But I am definitely bugged.
I am too busy to deal with this crap.
But man am I grateful my doctors saw it, and that it is fixable.
The sequel is never as good as the Original.
I thank my lucky stars for that.

Surgery was not in my summer plans!
But I definitely don't have much to complain about.
My life is still pretty great.

This is one of my favorite songs:


I find out any day now if I made it into the Nursing program here in Utah, 
to get my Bachelor's degree in Nursing. 
I would start in July, so I hope they fix me before then.
And hopefully having my pituitary healthy again 
won't regulate my hormones too much.
Cory would be so bored!

Here are some pictures of some of the things we have been up to that are a lot more fun.
This guy is usually ready to relax after kindergarten,
and the dog is more than happy to accommodate.

Talk about a lucky girl!
 She has only had two lessons so far, and she loves it. 

May 5th is a special day at our house. It is the birthday of our first baby, Lorraine.
We like to celebrate by buying a game we can all play together as a family.
One child decided not to participate because the game was too weird.
(Hint: Its the blonde one not pictured.)

This is my view most mornings.
She sneaks in sometime in the wee hours of the morning
and loves to cuddle with her daddy.

This Harry Potter fanatic turned 10 a few days ago.

Not sure if little sister likes being tied up!:)






Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I Have A New Friend.






I finally have given myself permission to be myself, and I am pretty great!
I feel like I have finally become friends with "the real me".
The real me is happy, even when I am alone.
The real me is able to set goals and not be afraid of the hard work it takes to achieve them.
The real me stands up for my beliefs, always.
The real me loves myself for who I am, not what others think of me.
I am now doing things that I love, because I want to.
2016 was such a great year for our family.

In March I went to my very first Utah Caucus. 
I was selected to be a Utah state Delegate. 
It has been such a great learning experience so far. 
I love everything politics, and this has been so fun. 
Man, I have learned a lot! 
The Utah Republican Convention was pretty fun too.
 I love being informed, and now I really feel like I have a vote, 
which is really awesome!
(Sorry Cory, I will stop talking about politics. On this post anyway.)


At the beginning of the year I made a goal to train for a half-marathon. 
A few of my new friends were all signing up. 
I had never run more than a few miles at a time in my life. 
But I thought, "Hey, why not?". 
 I had to work extra hard to strengthen my right leg. 
But it did get strong enough. 
In June 2016, after four months of training, 
I completed my very first half-marathon! 
It was such a great experience. 
Reaching the finish line was very overwhelming. 
I was tired, but I was also so proud of myself. 
I am great at making goals, but the sticking with them 
until they are complete has always been hard for me. 
The finish line of this race held so much significance for me. 
I felt strong for the first time since before I was sick. 
I felt like I was back. I was no longer defined by my limitations. 
I now had the ability to do anything I set my mind to do.
So, what did I do as I felt so empowered? 
I cried, of course!
This was my view after I crossed the
finish line. I cried tears of joy,
and ate my little heart out!
Loved this!!!
One happy girl!!

       

I can't really complain about running in Utah. 
What a beautiful state I live in!
Antelope Island. I actually took this
while I was sitting in my car.
The beautiful trail by my house.

Life in Utah has brought lots of visitors, and lots of fun. Cory finished his Master's in Taxation Degree (I know, he is super smart. I am so proud of him!) over the summer, and we finally had some free time. The fall got busy again because I decided to go to school to get a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing. I needed a few classes to qualify to apply for the program, so I completed 12 units over the Fall. It took a while for my brain to warm up to school again. But I have loved it! I even had to dissect a fetal pig for my Anatomy and Physiology classes. That was quite the experience.
Now I just wait, and hopefully I will get in to the Spring 2017 Nursing program!!

Here are some of the things we were up to during the rest of the year:






G loves her stuffed animals.
We even had a wedding for two of them!

This boy is growing so fast!
We love him so much!
All we need is LOVE and S'mores.


My crew. We are a two cart family.
One for the kids, one for the groceries.

t-Ball might be one of the cutest things ever!
This boy brings us so much joy!
Excited for Tucano's.
If you are ever in Salt Lake City, this restaurant is a must!

This girl keeps things
very entertaining.
Love this guy.


Salt Lake City Temple
Visitor's Center.

We had so many apricots this year!
We love that Utah has all four seasons.


These pictures don't need captions.
 These kids are so good at entertaining themselves.
We even found the high school from the
High School Musical Movie!

This beauty turned 8 this year.
It was so special to watch her get baptized by her dad.

This little cutie loves being our baby.
So much personality in this little body.

video
If I don't text you back, 
it means my phone has been hijacked. 
She cracks me up!

 We had family pictures taken just before Christmas. 
It was SO COLD, but they turned out so good.




Second Christmas in our new house. 
We have so much to be grateful for!


Our life is far from perfect. But we are so blessed. We are not rich, but we have a steady income. We have a warm house, two cars, clothes to wear, and plenty of food to eat. We have access to the world's best medical care. 
I truly feel like we live in the greatest country in the world. I am so grateful for all of the blessings in my life. 
If I have learned anything these past couple of year it is that God loves ME. He knows my struggles, and he blesses me constantly. 
I know He loves each of us, and is aware of our specific needs.

There was a time this year when my sister had to have an emergency c-section to save her baby. 
She had to be taken back into surgery after he was born because she was hemorrhaging. 
All while her baby was being cared for in the NICU.
I felt so helpless. 
My sister was over a thousand miles away, possibly dying, 
and I couldn't do anything.
I found a quiet room, and prayed and prayed and prayed. 
This was 2016, women don't die in childbirth.
Let alone my own sister!

My prayer was interrupted by a very loud tapping on my window.

I tried to keep praying. I had important things to pray about. But the bird would not stop. Finally I realized what the bird was trying to help me remember. I opened my Bible to Matthew 10:29-31


God was aware of the situation. Everything was going to be okay.
 "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered."

Thankfully my sister, is alive and well.
Her baby has grown into a cute, healthy, chubby baby.
Am I the only one who has to learn the same lessons over and over?!

This is my new motto. 




There is so much negativity surrounding us, trying to bring us down. 
I know if we keep our focus on the Lord, we can feel peace. 
No matter our circumstances.
We have no reason to fear. 
God knows and loves every one of us.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Tears


We shed tears for many reasons. Tears of sadness, regret, loss, loneliness, and tears of pure JOY! Sometimes I cry just because I turn on the TV and catch the last 5 minutes of Father of the Bride. (What can I say? I love my Dad!).  
I have shed a lot of tears over the last couple of years. 
I have cried out of fear, out of grief, out of pain, 
out of joy of witnessing miracles, and out of feeling so loved and supported.
I have cried out of guilt, because I am healthy, while others die. 
I have a wonderful life, while others struggle.

This week marked a huge Milestone for me. I got my braces off! My teeth are actually touching in a lot of places! And best of all, this was the end of treatment for me!!! Other than periodic scans, I AM DONE! So while yes the braces were annoying, and just having them off is exciting in itself, I might have cried some big fat ugly tears when they came off.
I was completely overcome with emotion. 
I feel like I officially have my life back.

I still have the same limitations as before. But now its not something I will have to think about every time I look in the mirror, or meet someone new, or smile in a picture. My face will never be symmetrical. The right side will always be a little "different" than before, but no one would ever know unless they compared before and after pictures side by side. My teeth are never going to be "perfect". But I have all of my teeth! And they look pretty dang good.
I know how bad it could have been, and I am choosing to be happy, and move on. Easter and Spring are the celebrations of new life. I am so grateful for my chance to keep living. 
We have been in Utah since September and we love it so far!
Here are some things we have been up to since we moved. 
We miss our family and friends, but have made great friends here, and have had fun seeing extended family that live nearby.


In November we got to go to Southern California with my family. We stayed in one huge house, we went to Disneyland, Sea World, and the beach. It was a lot of crazy and a lot of fun! 
We took family pictures at the beach, and some of my kids were willing to smile:)

The whole group. Don't you wish you stayed in one house with all of us?!



video

All of the kids had a number on the back of their reunion shirt in order from oldest to youngest. They even saved number 10 for our baby Lorraine. Which meant a lot. The line got a little crazy down at the end. Such a fun crew!


Our first picture with Mickey where no one was afraid!

We survived our first winter. We actually loved the snow! 
But we have a garage, so it wasn't too big of a deal.
 Christmas lights at Tempe Square in Salt Lake City. 
It was freezing, but so beautiful!
 Even Rosie loved the snow:)
 This is the "adult" tree looking out or front window. 
The snow was especially beautiful when we were warm and inside looking out.

The kids adjusted really fast, and loved it!




 Being in Utah is SO different than California. Not good or bad necessarily, just different. It took me a little bit to adjust. I wasn't sure why everyone was talking to me in line at the store. I may have gripped my purse a little tighter as people stood in "my bubble" in public places. 
But then I realized, people here are just so friendly! There are great people in California too, it just takes longer to get to know each other.
This was on the candy machines at the mall, it sums up our Utah experience so far perfectly.


 I mean, seriously, how awesome is that! Who knew that a quarter could make our day?!



 In Utah we are surrounded with wonderful people, beautiful scenery, and beautiful temples!
Such a great reminder that I get to be with the guy I chose even after we die. 
And our little people get to be ours forever too!
Ev's face in this picture made me laugh until I couldn't breathe.
That boy is hilarious!


Our kids spend more time outside than they probably have in their entire lives. 
They love it and I love it! Utah is Mayberry for us.
We have had fun making our house our own. Here is the backsplash in progress.
Here is the finished product! I love how it turned out!  




To sum up, we are happy. Our life is not perfect at all. I suck at keeping house, and I would much rather read a book, or do something that I think is fun than fold laundry. Sometimes I need a break, and I complain to my husband about needing said break more than I should. I have a love/hate relationship with our dog. It might even be more of a like/hate relationship. I have a hard time being patient with myself and others. I like results, and I want them immediately.
I am trying to be more compassionate. I am trying to be more present for my children, I am trying to love people the way they are, even if they add no value to my life.
I am trying to let myself cry when I feel the tears coming. I don't like people to see me cry, because to me tears=weakness. But if I have learned anything over the last two years its that tears are healing, no matter the reason we are shedding them.

Less than 10 days until this guy is done with tax season.
He is my happy place!