Thursday, June 24, 2010

Our Little Dancer

Lately, all Amaya's been doing is singing and dancing... this picture was taken awhile ago... she no longer has her crib up anymore... Doesn't she look like a big girl!?!? When did this happen? There's a Mommy and Me Dance class at Janet Lang Dance Studio that I might enroll her in this fall, otherwise we have to wait until she's three to get her into a Creative Dance class at Janet Lang or at JETS (where she did gymnastics). But for now, she's content dancing and twirling and singing in our living room!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Comic Relief

Amaya been a constant source of joy and comic relief these past few weeks... I almost had to pull over on the side of the road because I was laughing so hard I could hardly see where I was going...

Me: "Amaya, what do you want to get at Kohl's?"
Amaya: "A baby brother."
Me: "I don't think we can get a baby brother at Kohl's."
Amaya: "Let's go to Mall of America and get one."
Me: "You think Mall of America would have a baby brother?"
Amaya: "Mall of America has lots of things."
Me: "You want a baby brother and not a baby sister?"
Amaya: "Maybe Mall of America has both. I want both."
Me: "What store do we have to go to?"
Amaya: "The Baby Store!"

***Disclaimer: We have not been talking, thinking, or praying about Baby #2! :-)

Monday, June 14, 2010


Words can't even describe how thankful I am to everyone who has been faithfully praying and encouraging our family these past few weeks. Once again, I am overwhelmed by the amount of support and love shown to us. E-mails, cards, flowers, meals, watching Amaya, phone calls, etc.... And never have I been so overwhelmed by God's presence!! A dear friend of our family sent me a card this week and said, "Our God never sleeps nor slumbers!" How incredible is that!

Surgery overall went very well and I am so pleased to report that my tumor was BENIGN!! We had a few little bumps in the road... at late surgery report time... difficulty getting in an IV... finding out that a little oxygen mask wouldn't do the trick because of the location of the surgery and that I needed to be intubated (a breathing tube inserted down by throat)... a very looong surgery time... not having the luxury of a private room... and poor tolerance to pain meds. BUT - once again, God placed people in my paths to give me encouragement! The nurse who admitted me in the pre-op area just happened to be a good friend to my closest friend at work. She joked around and made me feel as comfortable as I could. I even got the only pre-op room with a bed so I could REALLY get comfortable!! Generally speaking, every single person taking care of me whether it was escort or the anesthesiologist or the IV technician was flat out amazing!

From the pre-op waiting room I had to say good-bye to Steve, I was then taken to another room to get prepped for surgery. The nurse asked me all of the same questions as the admitting nurse - double checking EVERYTHING! The anesthesiologist, certified nurse anesthetist, and OR circulating nurse came in to talk to me about what to expect etc. This is when I found out about the breathing tube... (eek!)... they put it in when I was "sleeping" and took it out when I was able to follow commands after surgery... and they were right - I don't remember anything. My ENT specialist - who is absolutely awesome - marked where she was going to be doing surgery and told me that she would do her very best no matter what happened. She told me it would be about a 2 hour procedure once she got the five nerves surrounding the tumor located and secured. While I was still under anesthesia, a pathologist would look at the cells of the tumor and determine whether it was benign or malignant.

Around 1:45pm, they brought me back to the OR... I'd been in an OR before during nursing school and have seen enough television shows depicting OR rooms, but for some reason I was still expecting Dr. McDreamy to be walking through the doors... my ENT specialist wished that were the case too! :-) Everyone was an absolute blast - the anesthesiologist was "trying" to tell jokes while the nurse anesthetist was putting in my "sleepy medication." I was told that pretty soon I would get really loopy and forget everything. I wasn't loopy at all - my IV was hurting too bad! They looked at my IV site and sure enough, it had blown through the vein. Literally, five seconds later the anesthesiologist had another IV put in on my other hand and I didn't feel a thing! We starting talking about the crazy things that Amaya does and the next thing I remember was the recovery room.

In recovery (around 6pm)... I remember being sick to my stomach and wanting to know where my mom was and wanting to know where Amaya was.

Around 7pm, I was brought up to my room and I remember being carted by an older lady, thinking... "so much for my private room." Then, a nurse told me to roll on my side and they were going to transfer me to my bed. A few minutes later, I saw Steve and his parents. My parents were taking care of Amaya all day and overnight, while Steve's parents kept him company in the hospital. I don't remember much of what Steve told me... I just remember him telling me that the tumor was benign and that Amaya was with my parents. Guess that was all that was on mind...

My hospital stay was very abbreviated - for which I am truly thankful. They inserted a drain right behind my ear to drain any fluid and for that reason, they kept me overnight. My overnight nurse was again absolutely awesome - very attentive and genuinely concerned. I felt bad because a trip to the bathroom only 5 feet away meant disconnecting my IV from the wall, unhooking my drain, taking off my pulse oximeter measuring my heart rate and oxygen level, and taking off my SCDs from my legs (compression devices to prevent blood clots - that in my humble opinion only disrupt a person's sleep and don't really do any good) only to then put them back on a few minutes later. I usually tried to time my trips when he had to give me pain medication or check my vital signs, but from 1am- 4am both me and my roommate were undisturbed and got some good sleep!

Steve had planned on spending the night with me in the hospital, but because I was in a semi-private room, there was barely enough room for him to even sit comfortably in a chair. He was at my bedside when I woke up that morning - what a great thing to see - he's pretty awesome too! My doctor came in right away in the morning and pulled the drain - probably one of the most disturbing things I had to go through during my entire stay - and she said I was good to go home! Seriously? She reassured me that everything went well in surgery - that all of my nerves were intact - and I'd follow up with her in three months. I still felt drugged up and woozy and unsure if I was going to be able to care for my incision at home, but if I'm good to go - let's go! Unfortunately, we had to wait nearly three hours for my prescriptions to get filled. Grr...

The remainder of Saturday went well... picked up Amaya and rested for most of the day. Sunday didn't go so well... Trying to find a delicate balance between taking enough pain medication without getting constipated was too difficult despite my best efforts - so no fancy schmancy medication for me... just Tylenol. And whether it was the lasting effects of the anesthesia or the pain medications or all of the above... my stomach didn't like anything I was doing and let me know it wasn't happy! Nurse Steve to the rescue! I'm so thankful for him!! I was able to get a good nap in after that episode and the remainder of the evening we rested while sipping apple juice.

Today's been a good day - except that our furnace died this morning. The pain is manageable with Tylenol - not ideal, but better than being constipated, drugged up, and drowsy all day. My left ear is still in a fog... feels like half of my head is underwater. My mom's going to bring me some mineral oil tomorrow to try to dry up the fluid that is in there. One of my nerves still hasn't woken up from surgery - the one that controls my smile... Grrr... I didn't think I was that vain of a person... but maybe I am. My doctor said it could take anywhere for a couple of days to up to a year for it to return back to normal. Let's hope it'll just be a few days... I kinda liked my smile... :-)

Steve's mom was able to come over for a few hours today to play with Amaya while Steve did some homework and I napped. Steve starts back up with grad school tomorrow evening and Thursday evening until the first week of August. My mom is planning on coming over tomorrow night to help with Amaya. Steve is still on a weight restriction for another 3 weeks, (but has been bending the rules a little) and I have a 10 pound weight restriction for another week... so Amaya has had to learn to be a little more independent!

In the past four months, we've had a total of four hospitalizations, two surgeries, and 3 ER visits (and that's just Steve and me!) What I've learned is this: God is faithful. God is always with us. God is just a prayer away. God will provide. God will supply your needs. So many people have told us, "God will never give you more than you can handle." Over the past few weeks, I've questioned this over and over and over. So many times I've hit my breaking point where I just didn't think I could make it - where I literally wanting to crawl in my bed and throw the covers over my head and be done. When Steve had to have surgery... When Amaya got the stomach flu... When I got hives... When I had to have surgery... Without my family, my church, my friends, my co-workers to uplift me, support me, encourage me... I wouldn't have been able to make it through... but without God... I am nothing... But with God and His faithful servants - I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Birthday Musings

Happy Birthday to ME! I've had a great start to the day so far.... woke up at 5:30am and headed off to my Cycle (spinning) class! I've absolutely come to love every woman in the class for their openness, vulnerability and support they've given me these past 6 weeks. We sweat, we cry, we laugh - it's great!

Not sure what the day holds for us yet as everyone else is still sleeping.... Steve mentioned something about going to the Mall of America, but I'm not sure... Tonight we'll celebrate with my parents, brother and his family. Definitely looking forward to someone else's cooking tonight - especially my mom's!

This birthday is certainly different in that I really have no clue what the next year holds for me. My dear friend and Bible study leader sent me this prayer... she's had her own personal journey with cancer and is walking through the fire right now. Such encouragement from such an amazing woman! After reading her e-mail, how can I not have hope in the Lord?

"Lord, You oversee every detail of my life. You have assigned my portion and my cup. You have made my lot secure. In faith I can proclaim that You have caused my boundary lines to fall in pleasant places. Surely I have a delightful inheritance. I have set You always before me. Because You are at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Father, although the journey I am on is not always easy, I thank you for holding me in Your arms when I am afraid and feel that the circumstances are overwhelming. help me to rest and trust You. I confess, Father, that I am not good at resting in You. Like an active two-year-old, I would rather be doing something than sitting still. Father, forgive me for my restlessness and prideful nature. Help me trust You to supply all my needs for each and every day. Thank You for Your help and presence!"

I'm continuing to rest in God's promises... asking for courage... asking for strength... and the ability to trust...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Vacation to the Mayo Clinic

It's been awhile... but we have a really good excuse this time! We've been spending quite a bit of time at the Mayo Clinic and not just because I work there!

Ironically enough, at work we do our vacation picks in early January, so the timing of our vacation(starting May 24th) and Steve's surgery couldn't have been more perfect. Steve continues to recover and gains more and more strength each day. He's actually doing quite a bit better than I had hoped for and it's been less than 3 weeks since his surgery!

He was released from the hospital on May 26th - quite a bit earlier than the last time he had surgery! We were massively impressed with the nursing staff and doctors caring for him. The next day, Amaya wasn't quite herself. I took her to Home Depot and Sargeant's to pick out flowers for my garden and thought it would be fun with her helping choose the flowers. In hindsight, I should have left her at home. She was whiny, clingy and touched or knocked down just about every plant she saw. It was an absolutely miserable experience! Later that evening, we were eating dinner and she wasn't touching her food at all. I asked her if she wanted to eat her dinner on my lap and two seconds after getting her situated, she threw up EVERYWHERE! Not to be too graphic, but it was like someone turned on a water spigot full blast! Nearing my breaking point... we called for reinforcements. Steve's mom came over and entertained Amaya while I got everything cleaned up. Thank goodness for Grandmas!! Ten minutes later, Amaya was twirling and jumping around, happy to be playing with Grandma. Fortunately no one else got sick.

The following day, Amaya and I spent most of the day outside getting the flowers planted and watered. I haven't taken a picture of the flower garden yet, but it is beautiful! Around 11:30pm I woke up with an itchy feeling on the backs of my legs and my lower back. It was all red and it looked like I had welts all over. I've never felt more miserable - not even during childbirth! I put on some skin cream and contemplated going to the ER, but that would have been too complicated. I ended up going to Mayo Express Care and got a prescription for a steroid cream and an over-the-counter antihistamine. I did two sets of wet dressings with the steroid cream and I felt so much better. Whew! Until.... about midnight, I was even more itchy than I had been the night before and nearly all of my body was covered in hives! Complicated or not, we were going to the ER!! Once again, Steve's mom and dad came over to stay with Amaya and Steve's dad drove us to the ER. They ended up giving me a steroid shot and a shot of antihistamine. Shortly thereafter, I felt so much better. The medication made me really drowsy, but at this point - I'd do just about anything to stop itching. I was on a five day course of predinsone and vistaril. I have a new appreciation for our dermatology patients when they rate their itching a "1o out of 10." I've been there!

Then on June 1st, I had an appointment to have an ultrasound guided biopsy done on a lump that I've had by my ear. My dentist found the lump about a year and a half ago and recommended that I get it checked out. I had two of our dermatology doctors feel it and my family med doctor feel it and they all thought it was a swollen lymph node that would eventually resolve on it's own. When I went in for my physical this year, I asked my family med doctor if I could get it checked out. She referred me to an ENT specialist and I met with her in early May. She wasn't too concerned about it since it hadn't changed size or shape in the time that it was first discovered. One of my friend's son had a similar lump and it turned out to be malignant requiring surgery and radiation, so I told the ENT specialist that I wanted a diagnosis. She set me up for an ultrasound guided biopsy to give me "peace of mind." The biopsy wasn't too painful - they injected lidocaine near the lump to numb up the area and that hurt quite a bit, but the seven other needles they poked in the lump didn't hurt at all. I was scheduled to meet with the ENT specialist later that afternoon and planned to have all of my anxieties relieved. When Steve and I sat down with her, she said, "The results came back positive for a neoplasm." A neoplasm is a fancy word for tumor. It's supposed to be a swollen lymph node!! This biopsy was supposed to be negative! This test was just supposed to alleviate my worries!

I'm glad that Steve was with me because I was in such shock that I was only able to comprehend a third of what she was telling me. At this point, they are unable to determine whether or not the tumor is benign or malignant. They scheduled me for surgery this Friday, June 11th to remove the tumor and if they find that tumor is malignant, they'll investigate a little further to make sure it's not in the lymph nodes, etc. Most likely, I'll be in the hospital overnight with the possibility of a drain inserted to remove additional fluid. I talked with my friend whose son underwent the same procedure and she said he was back to school in 2 days. I'm hoping that this will be the case with me - a quick stay in the hospital and quick recovery. They'll put me completely out, so the anesthesia may take a couple of days to get out of my system, but I'm hoping that the side effects will be minimal.

We're hanging in there... I'm holding up better than I thought... I think the hardest thing is trying to control my thoughts. One day I'm discouraged thinking it's malignant, worry about the surgery and possible radiation and get angry and the next day I'm hopeful and encouraged that God will give me the strength to face whatever the outcome. I continue to pray that God would take my thoughts captive and that He would calm my anxious heart. On so many occasions, I've felt God's wave of peace rush over me. Even when I received the results of the biopsy, a nurse came in to schedule the surgery and it was a nurse I had worked with a few years ago and reassured me that I was in good hands. What she doesn't realize is that I'm in God's hands and that's all that matters. God has me surrounded by family, friends, and co-workers and I've been so overwhelmed by the amount of support and love. No matter what happens on Friday, I'm reassured that there are people that love us and can take care of us. Thank you to everyone who has emailed or called with words of encouragement! Thank you to everyone who has offered to watch Amaya, bring us a meal, or bring us chocolate cake and laughter! You are God's angels and I'm trying very hard to learn to accept help when I'm in over my head and to allow you to serve!

I'm supposed to call the hospital the night before to find out my time for surgery on Friday. At this point, Steve will call immediate family with results/updates and will try to update on facebook. We'll try to e-mail/call/update as soon as possible. Thank you again for your prayers! We serve a mighty God and He is faithful and by my side - whatever the outcome.