Weekend Update with Seth Meyers

Actually, Seth Meyers doesn’t do Weekend Update on SNL anymore – he has his own show now…just one of the many things that happened during the “February Fog.” But I liked the announcer-style title. It goes.

First, for those that inquired, dad is continuing his reign as Miracle Man and is doing fantastically well. I apologize for the lack of information regarding his condition – I assume everyone can hear my thoughts and thus know that he’s getting stronger and more active by the day. There are still some small bumps along the way that are frustrating for he and mom, but hopefully those will also begin to iron themselves out and he will be on the golf course next month. Please do continue to pray for his progress – he needs to gain some much-needed muscle weight and that seems to be slow-going, so your prayers have been and are still welcomed. Regardless, when we stand back and think about everything that has happened, we’re always amazed and blessed that we had the privilege to witness this miracle.

As his progress continues, the rest of us are also sort-of finding our new ‘normal’ and are all a little anxious for spring (now that the Big Snow is behind us, of course.) Personally, I feel like I’ve sort of come out of a coma – the winter coma I suppose. Or as I mentioned before, the “February Fog.” Apparently this is something that plagues many: our pastor began his sermon a few weeks ago saying that he had once heard that God made February so people that don’t drink would know what a hangover feels like. AMEN to that. My lack of feeling like I accomplished ANYTHING during February must be attributed to said hangover. We just sort of shuffled through the days. A lot happened in February – well, to be clear, a lot happened on TV  – the Super Bowl, awards shows, Jimmy Fallon took over the Tonight Show, and of course, the Olympics (I watched every possible minute of the Games like it was my JOB.) But, like a great awakening, the calendar flip has led to a lot of activity around here.

I attribute at least some of this activity to the beginning of Lent. Not only did I give up shopping on Zulily, but I added doing a Bible study and both are going very well. In spite of the fact that, according to my Facebook feed, some of my MOST FAVORITEST brands have been featured on Zulily just in the last week – Vera Bradley (this only happens once a QUARTER), Athleta, Ugg – I’m sure the list continues, but I just avert my eyes (that are no longer bleeding) when I see the listings and go read my daily Bible selections. It’s amazing how quickly perspective is restored when you add just a little bit of discipline.

Something else that’s keeping me disciplined (and very busy) is participating in the “40 Bags in 40 Days” movement for Lent as well. I stumbled upon this on Facebook just a couple of days before Lent began and was immediately hooked. Even though we have just moved and I try to stay “on top” of keeping things decluttered, and “decrapified,” the inevitable stuff of life still manages to take up residence quicker than we realize. I loved the ‘challenge’ and that even though giant contractor bags are pictured in the post, she states that ‘bag’ can be loosely interpreted to mean just about anything as long as an area of your home (or related ‘area of life’) is dejunkified in some form or fashion. I started small and either cleaned out areas that just resulted in trash or just filled a grocery sack, but have since graduated to trash or contractor bags for larger places. It’s freeing. I’ve even got mom in on the action and we made progress in her attic the other day completely unexpectedly. Once you get a mindset, it’s actually kinda fun! (Yes. FUN!) It’s also a great way to refocus on contentment and sacrifice for the season of Lent and I’m so glad this crossed my path.

Facebook is good for something after all.

So that’s about it for this update. There’s more to come and I hope I can stay dedicated to all I’ve committed to.

I wish I could remember how Seth Meyers used to sign off…

Winter Storm Titan was Totally My Fault

First off, I have to ask, when did we start naming winter storms? Shouldn’t that be something reserved for more devastating Acts of God like, oh, I don’t know, HURRICANES?

No one asked me.

But I take full credit for the onslaught of winter weather we have experienced the last few days and I’m proud of it. All winter, I’ve waited for a “big one” – a snow that was not only beautiful to look at but actually prevented travel and made all the rush for milk and bread worth it. I may have actually prayed for a BIG snow. Sure, we had a couple of minor accounts this winter (hello, Polar Vortex 1), but nothing of magnitude and/or it disappeared as fast as it came. So I was very satisfied to say the least when not only did we dodge a bullet of a dangerous amount of freezing rain (which is SO not pretty and much more trouble), but we have a beautiful coating of white that has stuck around for two days giving our slightly over-zealous landscaper-turned-snowplow-drivers something to do. AND, it even kept Michael at home from work yesterday. I was literally like a kid on Christmas. He laughed when I said, “I finally got the big one I wanted!” to which he replied, “well, I wouldn’t really call this a ‘big one.” I’m not sure what he meant by that because 2-3 inches of sleet and 2-3 inches of snow sufficiently constitutes a ‘big one’ in my mind and I just looked at him and said, “You had to stay home. It’s a big one.”

I don’t know where my love of snow came from. I partially blame my mom who RELISHED in “snow days” and would actually have projects planned for such occasions. Or maybe because dad always provided ample entertainment as he tried desperately to drive out of our neighborhood which was basically a collection of hills. Or maybe it’s just my need for four defined seasons and snow completes winter in my mind. But I think it’s because at some point, I decided snow was one of God’s most beautiful gifts, especially during a season that is typically dull, dreary, and dank. Think about it – when you looked out your window Monday morning, you immediately had to squint because it was so bright, right? Much-needed brightness, even without sun. Beautiful. Then there’s the fact that everything has a blanket of soft, flowing tenderness that eludes a certain serenity without even trying. Beautiful. The red birds are brighter, the trees are strong and firm, holding up their collected powder, and there’s a hush as the whirr of the world was forced to stop and breathe. There’s nothing like it.

BUT, now that I’ve had my “big one,” I’m ready for spring. Let’s get this over and done with and move on toward sunny days, blue skies, and warm temps. I can look forward to it now. (I’m not sure I could say that before this snow because my winter truly wasn’t quite complete.)

One way I always know spring is on the horizon though is with the approaching Easter season. And with that comes Lent.

I included a hyperlink because when Michael and I first got married, as a born-and-raised Baptist, he was not familiar with the concept and practice of Lent. And every time I mentioned it, he was convinced I was talking about the collection of stuff in the dryer vent. I’m still not entirely sure he knows it’s Lent with an ‘e,’ but he can at least relate that people eat fish on Fridays with the Lenten season. It’s a process.

So, I’ve always thought of Lent as a good time to renew the vows of “resolutions” you made at the beginning of the year but failed to keep or, as is intended, a good time to renew your spirit in preparation not only for celebrating our risen Savior, but also for recommitting to serve Him throughout the rest of the year. This often comes in the form of ‘giving up’ something – a vice, a habit, etc. – and dedicating the sacrifice to spending more time with God or in prayer or whatever you should so choose to strengthen your faith walk. There has been a lot of talk this year about “Flipping Lent” where instead of giving UP something, you take something on, like a Bible study or the like.

This year, I’m kind-of doing both.

What I’m giving up may seem silly to some, but for me, it’s vital and this commitment couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m giving up shopping Zulily.

<insert GASP.>

I’m seriously afraid they may go under during the next forty days.

Shopping is my go-to crutch in times of stress and boredom. Sitting in a hospital while your dad undergoes a transplant is a perfect breeding ground for both. Just me and my phone’s Zulily app and I’m a deadly weapon. I even placed a $100 order ON OUR WAY to Louisville when dad was called to the hospital. (In hindsight, that probably should have been the first clue I had a problem, but there was still a lot of hospital sitting and stress ahead at the time, so I didn’t worry about it too much.)

In my defense, Zulily provides good deals on unique stuff, but when it becomes a nightly habit of scrolling through the “Last Chance” items until I feel like my eyes could bleed, it’s time to take a break. Not to mention that we probably should save some money for things like food and shelter. I completely lose my ability to see this reason when a smocked dress with puppies on it for Elly is only $26.99.

So, I’ve removed my Zulily app from my home screen and have replaced it with a Bible study app (the thing I’m taking on) and I have to admit, I’m pretty excited about this venture. Believe me, I’ve “Fat Tuesday’d” myself up for about 3 weeks knowing this day was coming, so I think Zulily may survive with the amount of money I’ve spent during that time, but I’ve also looked forward to knowing that doing more than just reading a daily devotional and briefly praying is going to yield a more dedicated walk that I know will do wonders more for me than the excitement of receiving a navy blue package at my door. And really, that’s the point. Plus, I hope this 40 day break will curb my ‘addiction’ altogether so I can approach my Zulily shopping with a clearer head after Easter.

So I’m off to enjoy likely the last blanket of white for this winter. And to make my eyes bleed one last time.

Happy Fat Titan Tuesday.

Miracle

I’m long overdue making this post for several reasons, but mainly because there are no words. Nothing can describe the last two weeks in sufficient detail to honor what we witnessed. “Miracle” doesn’t do justice because that word is so loosely thrown around anymore, but it will have to do because the events of the last two weeks are the very essence of miraculous. 

Mom called almost exactly at 7am on Monday morning, January 6. There was an available liver and we had 3 hours to arrive at the hospital. Her tone was a little less excited than the previous time, but then again, we knew what we were up against this time. That, and there had been a “Polar Vortex” the night before and Glasgow was nicely coated in about an inch of snow with a thick sheet of ice glazing the top, so travel was a major concern this go-around. Soon after speaking with mom, I talked to Christy who was also less ‘excited,’ but we got our arrangements made and it was game on. (again.) In the 20 minutes or so before Sonny and his family arrived to get me, I think I packed and repacked my bag 17 times, all while wearing 46 layers of clothing in preparation for the temps of said “Polar Vortex.” In my hasty bag-packing-induced sweating, Michael asked if I was wearing so many layers because we were walking to Louisville instead of driving. His humor was not appreciated.

I was able to squeeze my baby and my husband good-bye this time, and when Sonny arrived, he ushered me out the door saying, “ok, this here is slick, but that up there is REALLY slick, so be careful. You know what – just crawl.” It was a mess. Thankfully in the morning planning, mom was savvy enough to realize there was no way she could travel in this weather and arranged for Sonny to do all the driving, so after getting me, we were off to mom and dad’s (also known as the land of the giant hills) to get them loaded up and head to Louisville.

As expected, the hills were terrible. Solid ice coated the roads and several times we all held our breaths just praying we’d make it up and down safely. We finally got to their house, got them loaded and since Sonny drove their vehicle, Christy took over driving me and the kids. I thought she might throw up before we could even get out of the driveway, she was so nervous. Shaking, we slowly headed out of the neighborhood and actually saw an accident that had just occurred and just had to wave at the poor people who were clearly not hurt, but who probably wondered why we didn’t at least stop to ask if we could help. We said a prayer for them and hoped they would understand what we had ahead of us.

Once we made it off county roads and on to main highways, the conditions improved and as Christy’s nausea subsided, we all breathed a little easier. Payne and Graycen were champs already, not having uttered a word while their mother navigated horrible roads. Bless their hearts.

The 110 minute trip seemed to take forever this time. Everyone had a sense of hesitancy about getting too excited after what happened last time, but we still were hopeful and figured if God got us to Louisville safely, then something good was bound to come of it this time. It had to.

Check-in was faster and we were led to a different part of the hospital this time – and then we saw this sign and it kinda hit us in the face.

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Dad was being placed to wait in the actual transplant center – like, he was among post-transplant patients. This was going to happen. We were more than hopeful, this was real. 

We waited much like we did the last time, not knowing much and still with a twinge of fear that we would be told to go home, but once that precarious 4pm came and went, we had a pretty good idea they weren’t holding dad just for the heck of it. And at 10pm, we got the word we were waiting for: surgery was scheduled for 7am. GAME ON!

So we could all get at least a shot at some rest, mom had made arrangements at a nearby hotel and everyone but her (she stayed with dad) headed over to “rest” for about 5 hours before we needed to be back at the hospital before his surgery. So the six of us piled into the room – Sonny, Christy and the kids took the beds while me and dad’s sister Lou bunked up on the pull out couch.

It was like being at camp. Lou and I chatted after we laid down and thanks to nerves, I got a case of the giggles. Then Payne talked in his sleep. ALL NIGHT. Between his bouts of talking was Sonny whisper-yelling, “Payne, lay down! Payne, turn around!” It was a circus and I don’t think any of us actually slept. But who could sleep anyway.

At 6am, we rolled into the hospital in sub-zero temperatures and began the waiting process prior to surgery. Not surprisingly, surgery was delayed until 9am, and after dad was taken to pre-op, we were sent to a freezing cold waiting room to hang out until we were called back to see dad before he went into surgery. The tension was thick.

Somehow, we struggled through the hour and half wait before we could kiss dad one last time with his old liver and we were finally sent back to see him. He was so calm, even before they had given him something to relax him. When the anesthesiologist said it was time, the emotional charge couldn’t be contained any longer and we all leaned in one at a time to hug and kiss him, not knowing what the future held. Dad hugged each of us as best he could while every cord and wire stuck out of him like some kind of frayed machine and told us all, “it’s going to be OK.” He told us it would be ok. The man is super-human. We wiped our tears, put on our brave faces, and headed out to wait.

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Since the waiting room we had previously been shown to was less than stellar to begin with and was even worse because of the lack of heat, Sonny and I scoped out a nicer (and empty) waiting area in the heart-lung center across the walkway from the main hospital. Mom arranged for the surgery nurse to call her cell phone directly with updates, so we thankfully could wait wherever we chose.

The first update didn’t come for 3 hours. We didn’t know why at the time (we would find out after surgery) but were told everything was going smoothly and that dad was doing great. Hallelujah.

I managed to find a somewhat comfortable position to sleep and rested for a while before the next update came saying that the old liver was out and that they were preparing the new one. Everything was still going well and dad was handling the surgery beautifully. The other updates followed suit, and at about  5:30, we were told they were wrapping up and to head back over to the main hospital to wait for the surgeon and then around 6:45, we got word that he was in ICU recovery!! It was over!!

Within the next 20 minutes or so, the surgeon appeared and began to tell us about the surgery. For some reason, it hit me that I should record it on my phone, even if I just got the sound because the likelihood of any of us remembering specifically what he said was slim, considering the condition we were in. I can’t post the video here, so I’ll summarize as best I can because the words he uttered were more wonderful than we ever – EVER – thought we would hear.

He started by explaining that the reason it took so long at the beginning of the surgery was that he had a bit of a time getting through the scar tissue and remnants of his gall bladder surgery last year and that he wanted to make sure everything was in perfect shape with all of that before he got to the actual transplant. He told us how wonderful the new liver was and that one of the ‘scariest’ parts of transplant surgeries is when they unclamp the new organ, whether it will start functioning or take awhile, etc., but when they unclamped dad’s liver, no problem. It “pinked-up” immediately and started producing bile and functioning beautifully. Hallelujah! He also couldn’t say enough about how well dad did during the surgery – with all of his previous issues a concern, nothing gave them trouble – his blood pressure was good through the whole thing, his heart was strong – he was a “perfect patient.” Again, hallelujah!

He then proceeded to tell us that now that the surgery had taken place, he could share with us just how special this liver is – that they had actually passed up a few liver offers waiting for the perfect one for dad.

Um, what?!

You could have knocked us all over with a feather at this point as our eyes welled with tears of thankfulness and joy that God had put our special man in the care of such fantastic doctors. That they had enough verve and confidence to wait for the perfect organ for dad absolutely floored us. That wasn’t just the doctors – that was GOD. 

As we wrapped up with the surgeon, the waiting area quickly turned into a hug-and-cry venue as we all just passed each other around and let all of the pent-up anxiety and fear rush out of our exhausted bodies, trying to absorb what we had just heard. Short of the hearing my baby’s first cry, this was the best moment of my life. And I think I speak for all of us. It was, after all, dad’s second birthday.

When we finally gathered ourselves, we headed up to the ICU waiting area where me, mom, Sonny and Lou would wait to go see him briefly. I was hesitant about this, but after the exhilaration of what had just happened, I was prepared and I wanted to see my daddy, the miracle man. Mom and Sonny went back first and came back smiling, so I wasn’t surprised when Lou and I went back to see that he looked fantastic. We all breathed a sigh of relief, even though what had just happened really hadn’t “sunk in” yet.

Everyone but me headed home as I stayed to go with mom to the hotel. It was kind of a comedy of errors between she and I as you can well imagine with the adrenaline starting to wear down a bit and the exhaustion taking over. But we made it and rested surprisingly well.

The next morning would greet us with dad in his usual post-anesthesia fog/agitation and that would ultimately set the tone for the next couple of days while they found the best way to manage his pain and accompanying post-surgery issues. While he was the perfect in-surgery patient, he kinda made up for that afterward as it seemed to become his mission to pull out anything that he wasn’t supposed to – like his ventilator tube, his drain tubes, and ultimately is A-line, (which mom and I quickly learned that if you want to get the attention of all the nurses in the immediate vicinity, tell them a patient has pulled their A-line out. Luckily, dad’s had already clotted.) Nonetheless, he was doing well and recovering as well as could be expected, and by Saturday – just 4 days after surgery – he was moved to the regular transplant floor to continue recovery. Again, we were ecstatic and so grateful. SO grateful.

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The next few days were relatively low-key and were met with more good news when on Tuesday – ONE WEEK since major TRANSPLANT surgery, remember – the main doctor uttered the words that he would be going home in the next day or two. WHAT?! And sure enough, Wednesday, January 15, Dad came home.

And here it is the 21st, almost a week after he got home, barely two weeks since he had surgery, and we’re all in still a bit of shock. After living in go-mode waiting for “the call” for a few months, it almost seems odd going to bed without your cell phone ringer on super-loud or not having to make sure your bag is still fully packed. It’s WONDERFUL.

Mom and dad are doing well and dad is getting stronger every day. Mom is managing things that baffle even the most sound nurses and is doing so like she’s been a professional nurse her whole life. It’s still a balancing act with the many medications, therapy, blood work, etc. but at least they’re getting to learn to balance all of that from the comfort of their own home.

Like I said before, I know words don’t even come close to describe what we have experienced. Sonny and I spoke in church on Sunday to update the church family on dad’s condition and other things on our hearts, and he said it best by saying that “the presence of God has been palpable through this whole experience.”

We knew getting a dad a new liver would help him get better. I don’t think any of us expected the revival it stirred in the rest of us.

Adios, 2013

As hard as I try, I can’t seem to shake the nostalgia of starting a new year. Reflection is almost automatic during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve and I just can’t help myself when I start making a mental list of things I would like to do all year long. And, just like some 80% of those who make resolutions, I rarely can say – “Yes, I did _________ ALL year.” So, then I end up spending far too much time pondering whether my resolutions are worthy of trying to keep or even worthy of being written down (because that seems so permanent) and I just give up on the idea altogether. When failure is 80% likely, I’m not much of a fighter.

This year did seem a little different though. In all my time wrestling my mental list, I felt like 2014 deserved a fair welcoming because I was more than ready to kick 2013 out the door. I had been seeing a lot of posts about how people are replacing traditional resolutions with words or phrases that they hope to define their upcoming year. I was intrigued, but also a little overwhelmed at the thought of narrowing down one word to make the pinnacle of a whole year. And then it oddly seemed like everywhere I was looking was telling me not to fear, that this is the year of unafraid. To be fearless.

 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Well, good grief. If anyone is more controlled by fear than me, I would like to meet them. Far too much of my life (even childhood) has been driven by fear. I don’t know how, when, or where it originated, but almost every decision I’ve made has had some element of fear involved, often a much bigger role than necessary. So I knew, fearless was my word. And I was already scared of that.

“For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Now before you start expecting me to jump out of a plane or shave my head or climb Mount Everest, that’s not quite where I’m headed with this goal. Being constantly afraid of the unknown and taking risks are two different things. My attempt looks more like not being afraid to let Elly explore her growing world, not being afraid of not having enough, and not being afraid of germs. (Gasp.) But I have a year to work on it, a year to maybe look back and say I’m not as afraid as I was during the last week of 2013 (because I battled some demons last week.)

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 

I do have other goals – what perfectionist wouldn’t? But I do hope to give myself a little more grace and lean in to God a lot more as the unknown of 2014 opens up.

All Over the Place

I probably shouldn’t even been trying to write anything because I just spent 20 minutes trying to decide whether “over” in the title should be capitalized or not. I still don’t know if it’s right.

So that’s a fair indication of where I am right now. After the longest shortest-day-of-the-year ever, inexplicably warm weather, and a whiny toddler while I was trying to finish baking the last of holiday gifts, I’m fairly spent. Thinking about all that’s left to be done is far too overwhelming at this point and I’m about to resort to “singing Christmas carols loud and clear for all to hear” to channel my inner Buddy the Elf and find a shred or two of Christmas spirit somewhere in the depths of all that’s going on.

Bitterness, confusion, and frustration are trying their best to creep in on me as the stress level of the holidays also creeps up. I have so many questions and very few answers which leads to very little peace. And I need some peace. I know God has everything under control and that somehow we’re going to get through all of this, but it just seems like at least some of the things marked “pending” on my prayer list might get checked off sometime soon? Maybe? Maybe dad can get a liver? Maybe Sonny can get a job? Maybe Michael and I can finally get on solid ground after years of family and financial turmoil? Maybe Elly will FINALLY START CONFIDENTLY WALKING??!! (I might be being a bit dramatic about that last one, but come on sweet girl. You have until your 18 month check-up to be more sure-footed or they’re going to force us into therapy and I don’t want to go there. Please get the memo.)

These are just some of the issues plaguing us, though I feel it’s enough. I also feel like there is a really good Biblical paradox here somewhere about how this must have been what Mary and Joseph felt like as they traveled to Jerusalem before Jesus’ birth, etc., but I’m just not theologically sound enough or have enough energy to make the connection tonight. Therefore I feel Elly’s depiction of her manger scene is impeccably accurate:

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I will make this simple connection though – just as the world waited for Jesus’ birth, “in error, pining,” if you will – during this Christmas season, we too are still waiting. Waiting for many unknowns that will likely be brought to us in the least expected ways. We’re pining for answers, desperate for peace. We know where and who that peace will come from, so I hope we can find some strength and enjoy the magic that is all things Christmas in the meantime.

 

 

Well THAT Sucked

December 13, 2013.

2:42 am – My cell phone rings. It’s mom. They have a liver for dad. It’s go time. We have to arrive at the hospital in Louisville by 6am. We will be leaving at 4am. GAME ON.

2:44 am – Michael reaches over, grabs my hand and prays the most beautiful prayer for my family and the healing that my dad is about to receive.

2:46 am – Not rushed, I first make sure I’m actually awake and that this is happening. I briefly mourn the fact that I won’t get to kiss my baby before leaving, but then remember the big picture. I mentally make a list of the few last-minute items I need to grab.

2:50 am – My sister-in-law calls, but I thought it was my mom and after a few seconds of confusing conversation about where I’m supposed to meet them, we laugh, share our shock and excitement and confirm that I will be at their house between 3:45 and 4 to ride with her to Louisville. Check.

2:55 am – After talking through a few quick items with Michael, I get up and start getting ready, start the car to warm up, and grab the last minute items.

3:10 am – Sonny calls. Mom didn’t factor in that the transplant coordinator who had called her meant 6am EASTERN time. Be at Sonny’s at 3:30. GAME ON.

3:22 am – I kiss Michael good-bye and haul my bag and pillow to the car and speed to Sonny’s. Michael’s Buick will flat ROLL.

3:31 am – Arrive at Sonny’s. I beat mom and dad. And I receive appropriate praise from Sonny and Christy for being on time. Ha.

3:40 am – Everyone loaded in the car – still waiting on mom and dad. Sonny is driving them up and we’re following.

3:50 am – We pull out of the driveway, Sonny leading and as they pass I get a glimpse of my purely giddy, frail daddy. Going to get his Christmas gift.

5:10 am  (6:10 EST) – After a busier than expected commute to L’ville, we arrive, get dad checked in and begin waiting. (We knew there would be some waiting. We didn’t know how much waiting.)

6:30 am – It doesn’t take long to realize no one but us seems nearly as excited and hurried. But that was ok. We knew it was going to be a slow morning.

7:00 am – Finally get into a room for dad which is thankfully equipped with plenty of chairs, closets, a bathroom, and more space than we expected. And it was clean. I was thrilled. This is where we would spend the day. (Or eternity. I’m still not sure.)

7:30 am – Our church pastor and his wife arrive and are a calming force in a room full of tension and anxiety. (Said anxiety was never from dad – just the rest of us. He was calm. Amazingly calm.)

8:00 am – We can no longer ignore our growling stomachs and the majority of us head next door to get some breakfast. Score.

9:00 am – Still haven’t seen or heard from a doctor. Everyone (except dad) is fed and/or caffiened-up sufficiently and we begin wondering how long the process is going to actually take.

9:30 am – Minimally preparatory things begin like dad getting his IV, fancy leg-warmers/motion cuffs so he doesn’t get blood clots while in the bed, and a heart monitor are all completed and we hope this is a step in the right direction. Around the same time, some doctors start appearing, mainly gastro guys who are checking his condition, meds, etc. to prepare for their part of the procedure. They know nothing about the donor liver we’re waiting on.

10:00 am – I had forgotten to brush my teeth before leaving the house and at this point think I may quite possibly die from gum disease, so I decide it’s time to take a trip to the gift shop for a toothbrush and toothpaste (even though I had that in my bag, I thought the gift shop might entice Payne and Graycen to go with me. It did.) So off we go after 2 items and $40 later, return to the room with much more than a toothbrush and toothpaste. Hospital gift shops are sometimes very fun. Especially when you have two awesome kids with you.

11:00 am – We begin to wonder what’s going on. This was kinda where our threshold of patience began to wane. We still had very little details about the donor liver and/or the arrival of it. We start our own cycle of speculations and are reassured by the pastor of how much paperwork the donor family has to go through, etc. and that hopefully that is what is taking place at this point.

12:00 pm – Dad’s sister arrives, a little surprised to see us still sitting and waiting. Us too.

12:15 pm – A surgical resident on the transplant team comes in and discusses more specific information about the procedure and the donor liver. There were an uncomfortable amount of if’s in what he was saying. To the point that I actually thought the donor was backing out or hadn’t really died or something. What he was saying was NOT encouraging, but not necessarily discouraging either. He did confirm that the donor organs had not been harvested yet, assured us that “all ducks were lined up” on their end for receipt of the liver, and that everything at this point was up to the condition of the liver once it was harvested. I was uneasy. I didn’t like all the “if’s.” We had always known that there was a chance that we could get called for a viable liver only to arrive and find out that something wasn’t a match or something was wrong with the liver, etc., but the likelihood of that seemed remote. It was becoming less remote with each passing minute.

12:30 pm – Lunch. Flatts like to eat. Mom and Sonny stay with dad.

1:15 pm – We return to hear that the head transplant surgeon had been in to see dad. He had entered saying “well, this might not happen today.” Apparently the donor had some sort of heart condition and disease that would possibly compromise the liver, but that they wouldn’t know anything for sure until the organs were examined after harvest which was scheduled to begin at 1:30. He said that means it would likely actually happen at 2:30, and that we would probably know something by 4pm. He assured us that they would only transplant a “good” liver to dad, which of course we’re thankful for, but it left a lot of questions hanging in the air and the reality of the liver viability issue was becoming more and more a concern. The familiar uneasiness from the previous doc settled even heavier on me and everyone in the room. Christy remained positive. Mom remained hopeful. We tried to keep our game faces on and think only in the good.

2:30 pm – We waited.

3:00 pm – We waited.

3:45 pm – Dad’s nurse comes in with his flu shot, which we had previously held off on until we knew for sure whether the transplant was going to take place or not, and she eluded to how close it was to 4pm that it was likely not going to happen. But she obliged to wait until discharge to give him the shot in the off chance that the liver was good.

4:10 pm – Transplant coordinator comes in the room to tell us that the liver was not good. In fact, no organs were usable from the donor. Our last shred of hope flew out the window and we all deflated a bit. That was it. We were going home.

4:11 pm – Dad finds the nearest edible piece of food (a giant cupcake from the cafeteria) and immediately scarfs it down. He had been without ANYTHING since 2:30am. Bless him.

4:30 pm – Nurse confirms discharge but says “it may be awhile…” and says she will be back with the paperwork.

5:00 pm – Still waiting for discharge.

5:15 pm – Still waiting for discharge. At this point, dad had assumed a stance outside of his door similar to his teacher stance at the high school. He flagged down an orderly and asked who he needed to see to check out. Bless his heart.

5:30 pm – Finally, paperwork arrives and he is free to go. We leave in the same condition we arrived in.

6:15 pm – We take dad to The Cheesecake Factory to try to make up for his day of unnecessary fasting, but he is so tired I’m not sure he even knew what he was eating. As did any of the rest of us.

7:45 pm – We finally get on the road home in a wintery mess of precipitation and ungodly traffic. It was like insult to injury having to drive in such a stressful situation after the day we had had. Christy was a champ and thankfully we all made it home safely around 8:30 (CST.)

But we’re empty. We’re spent. We’re exhausted. And I think it’s safe to say we’re all a little angry, frustrated, and phenomenally disappointed.

Yes, we want dad to have the most perfect liver available. Yes, we know God’s will and his timing is perfect. Yes, we know that all of this is out of our control and that we have to be willing to live day to day right now.

But we also know that we just essentially wasted an entire day. Nothing was gained from this day. We didn’t learn anything we didn’t already know. There was nothing accomplished. Dad is still as sick as he was when we arrived. And that plain sucks.

We tried desperately to put it behind us on the ride home. I couldn’t. During discharge and waiting for dinner, I let some of my frustrations known, knowing it would do no good. But I couldn’t get over it. And that’s why I’m here, much later than I should be awake, trying to get it out of my system so I can move on from the dreadfulness that was this day, for my WHOLE FAMILY.

But sweet, strong dad. He never complained. He never stomped his feet or shook his fists. He never asked why. He seemed actually fully accept that “this was just a scrimmage. A dry-run for the big day.” And that was that.

So while I’m finally winding down from the highest of adrenaline highs to the lowest of pitiful lows, I’m thankful for the reason this all occurred. There is no silver lining from today. But there’s a testimony here that’s not mine. It’s not anyone’s but dad’s and his quiet, humor-tinged strength and faith.

Please pray. We’re all weary at this point, each with our own “stuff,” and you know, just the holidays – known for being the least stressful of all seasons, right? Right. Please pray. Just pray.

Humbled and Tired

Since Michael has this horrible habit of watching THE worst show on television (The Walking Dead) on Sunday nights (because what starts off your week better than growling, snarling zombies right before bed), I have decided that the best way to annoy him, and thus block out what’s occurring on the television, is to listen to good music from my computer and type annoyingly as I sit next to him on the sofa. It’s win-win.

So for those of you not following along on Facebook or otherwise, my dad has been moved to the top of the liver transplant list for his blood type. This is HUGE, obviously. We are so thankful that every day we’re getting closer and closer to healing for him and we continue to believe and hope for the best. However, in the meantime, the whole family has been turned into call-crazed, anxious phone-watchers as we wait for the call that a liver is on it’s way to Louisville so we can jump in the car and try to safely escape speed traps to get to Louisville ourselves. We have bags packed, miscellaneous arrangements made, and manically keep up the laundry and dishes as we wait. It’s kinda like waiting for a pregnant woman to go into labor, although this may actually be more accurately rushed than most people tend to make a laboring woman. Whatever the case, it’s becoming exhausting as we wait – and you know how I feel about waiting.

Alas, we are trying to make the best of it and my mom is championing this attempt as she continues to be the rock for all of us, calling us to the table to sit down together every Sunday we’re still waiting. Christy’s making flying trips to Atlanta with Payne and Graycen in tow just to spend a little time with her family for Thanksgiving festivities. (She literally made it back and forth in a day. Literally.) And I’m mainly just trying to stay afloat and totally held my breath while Michael was out of town last week, just knowing the call would come then leaving me with a baby and a dog to contend with (which would have completely messed up my plan.) We all have our strengths. Ha. But truthfully, this whole experience has been very humbling already. People are coming out of the woodwork to offer to help take care of our homes, our children, even our dogs. Mom and dad get random visits, cards, and messages that remind them that people are praying and keeping us in their thoughts. And as a family, we were prayed over at church today. I far too often fail to realize that waiting is an essential part of the journey. We need this time to gather our thoughts and summon the strengths of others. This time is a blessing – a time to let sink in just how loved and cared for we are and to never doubt that all of this is in the hands of a much greater power than our own. Without this time, we may not have the courage to face what’s coming or be the pillars we will need to be for dad. It’s beautiful and as we laughed as a family today, my heart swelled with joy. Joy in waiting. I never thought I would see the day. Humbling.

 

A List about Me

About a month ago, numbered lists started cropping up on Facebook statuses where people would state they had been “given a number” and then proceed with a list of “unknowns” about themselves. It originated from some type of game of sorts where if you ‘liked’ a status with such a list, you would be given a number of how many unknowns you were to list in your own status, and thus you would continue the trend when people ‘liked’ your status. At least I think that’s how it works – I’m still not entirely sure. Regardless, not only did it seem like some kind of new age chain letter, but also became a kind of online confessional as people began to reveal some pretty personal things about themselves. I, by happenstance alone, never ‘liked’ one of these statuses and haven’t yet, so I haven’t been given a number and truthfully don’t wish to participate. However, my love of lists and possibly my own yearning for confession has led me to do such a list here. That, and I linked up with Kelly’s Korner for her “Local Bloggers” feature this past weekend and figured if anyone did traipse over to my blog, they would find my previous post about the lack of unpacking that has taken place since we moved rather boring.

1. I love game shows. Particularly old game shows like $25,000 Pyramid (with Dick Clark, of course) and Password. I was thrilled when we moved to Glasgow because the cable service here offers the Game Show Network which we previously didn’t have in Bowling Green.

2. I have a fixation of having things in even numbers. Clothes, shoes, purses and bags are the biggest culprit here – they each have to have a ‘mate’ (i.e., if I have a pair of brown boots, I also must have a pair of black boots of similar style. But that’s just good fashion in my opinion.) It gets very confusing and sometimes affordability makes it impossible to achieve. This has also trickled down to Ellyson’s stuff which is equally frustrating.

3. I’m not trendy. I like what I like and I like to be comfortable. I try to incorporate new trends into my home or wardrobe within reason, but when it’s all said and done, the fact still remains that I live in southern Kentucky, not New York City or LA, and my house is likely never to be featured in Home and Garden, so as long as I’m happy, that’s what matters, right? It also annoys me when people try to be trendy when they really shouldn’t. Some bodies are just not made for leggings, people.

4. I suffered from post-partum depression, but thanks to being an excellent actor and out-right denial, it wasn’t diagnosed until after Ellyson’s first birthday. I thought what I was experiencing was “normal” or could be blamed on a number of other things. I was wrong and am finally feeling better after getting help and a lot of trial and error.

5.  I’ve been meaning to paint my toenails (or splurge on a pedicure) since before we moved. I’m lucky it’s no longer sandal season because my good friend Laura told me in high school that you never wear sandals or any open-toe shoe without polish on your toes. And I’ve never forgotten that rule.

6. I have a running “Top 5” women and men I would like to spend a day with and/or be bff’s with. Currently the women are: Michelle Kwan, Beth Moore, Jennifer Anniston, Laura Bush, and Kelly Ripa. The men are: Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake, Tim Tebow, Derek Hough, and John Krasinski. I always keep Michael up to date on these lists in case he’s ever in a position to surprise me with meeting these people. I’m sure he really pays attention to those conversations.

7. I’m addicted to Zulily. There should be a support group.

8. I wish I was more disciplined in all areas of my life. I feel like all of the structured activities from high school and college may have maxed me out of my lifetime discipline quotas.

9. I’m a neat/clean-freak and a germaphobe. This doesn’t coexist very well with children. I’m learning.

10. I am a Friends fanatic. Actually, fanatic may not be strong enough. We keep all 10 seasons rotating in a DVD player in our bedroom and is what we watch before going to bed. I’ve done this for almost 10 years now. It’s an illness. And don’t even think about competing with me in a game of Friends trivia. I will crush you.

11. I struggle to find balance. In everything. Right now particularly, I’m conflicted about Christmas. I waffle between wanting a streamlined, dedicated, anti-excess Christmas (as Jen Hatmaker defines here) or an all-out, full fledged, over-extended Christmas. (However, with Dad’s situation this year, it’s all going to be different and essentially touch-and-go based on his condition. This is very hard to prepare for.)

12. 12 is one of my favorite numbers, as is 42, 72, and 172. Don’t ask. So that’s where I’ll end this little list.

Hope you enjoyed your little journey into a few of my quirks. 🙂

Stalled

Tonight was the first night in a week and a half that Elly and I had been anywhere other than my mom’s. And that was just 2 minutes down the road to dinner at church. But it counts as something.

It HAS to count for something at this point. Days of looking at the same walls, watching (or, more accurately, tolerating) more Disney Jr. Halloween shows than I care to admit, and promising myself that today will be the day that I don’t nap when she naps (which hasn’t happened yet) have worn me down and my life has stalled to all but a halt.

Just as I was getting to my feet after surgery, a siege of strange fatigue swallowed me for almost a week and landed me back at the doctor to see what was up, which turned out to be just a return of anemia and strangely low vitamin levels. But then, on my birthday of all days, Elly gets up with a stomach bug. And two days later, I come down with it. Shocking, since I had the immunity of a dish rag.

I spent any awake time during the last week fearing just about anything – mainly that my frail dad would catch our dreaded disease as my blessed mother took care of Elly while I tried to recover – and by the weekend I was in such a pit, I thought I might never care to see the light of day again.

The grey days of fall haven’t helped things much and the fact that we’re not those people that can get sick, have a day or two of rest and then be completely back to normal with no lingering issues (like the fact that Elly’s appetite has only just now returned and that she mysteriously now won’t eat poultry or pasta) just prolongs everything, keeping “normal” further and further at bay. And when it was only 5 weeks ago that you moved to a new house, that totally sucks.

Guest room

This is SOOO not what I would have wanted my guest room to look like after 5 weeks, and under any other circumstances, I have to believe it wouldn’t. But it still makes me cringe.

It’s taken everything in me to find the good in these weeks. I have to go back to the day we moved in when I was jumping around saying “I can’t believe we live here!” to remind myself what a blessing it is to even be here. I have to count the thousands of ways my family – MOM – has been able to help since we live so close. I have to look at the other rooms and be thankful that it’s only the guest room that looks like this. I have to remember the little things over the past five weeks that have been unexpected blessings. I have to force myself into a place of gratitude for just surviving what I can only hope has been an unfortunate string of events and not a preview of what our life from here on is going to be like. Because otherwise, I don’t want to play anymore.

But the one superseding factor that should for all intents and purposes keep me in a state of elation is the fact that with each day, dad gets closer and closer to being put on the liver transplant list and thus getting a transplant. Doctors talk in terms of “when’s” instead of “if’s” now. Tests and procedures have been put into motion in preparation for transplant. We’re all entering an unfamiliar and surreal season of waiting that is both scary and wonderful at the same time. Praise the Lord.

So while I tackle menial tasks like trying to keep the laundry from taking us all under or just survive some days, I’m going to try to keep perspective of this stall in life and trust that somehow, all that needs to get done will get done and I’ll be better for it. In the meantime, I going to ‘check out’ and watch some Ohio State marching band videos.

Because that solves everything.

 

 

The Breakdown to the Breakthrough

I think it’s safe to say I’m no Valerie Harper.

If you’ve seen even a glimpse of Dancing with the Stars this season, you know that Valerie Harper has been the most sensational inspiration EVER simply by being willing to step foot on the stage to train, learn, and dance in her condition. Given three months to live after a diagnosis of brain cancer this spring and here she is, this fall, competitively dancing. DANCING. I have cried every time she was on the show just based on her incredible attitude and spirit that wasn’t forced or fake in the slightest. It was compelling and heartbreaking all at the same time.

If I was ever in the same situation, I would like to think that I would have just a bit of the same courage she has exemplified, but the truth is that I would likely be somewhere pouting, whining, or complaining about something with no reasonable justification. As sad as that may be, I know that would be the case – at least for a short time – for one reason: anything that takes me ‘down’ takes me ‘out.’

Any time I’m knocked out of my semblance of “normal” and “control,” whether it’s from being mildly sick, to having a baby or having surgery, I go through a crazy time that it so totally unexplainable that I don’t even think I fully understand it myself. It’s like an alternate personality takes over in some foreign universe where I become convinced that whatever I’m going through at that moment is going to be FOREVER. Everything becomes overwhelming – Cook? I’m supposed to cook edible food? HOW DO I DO THAT? Shower and be presentable within a normal range of time? WHAT? You’re kidding, right? Not have round-the-clock help and attention for whatever disaster may befall me next? NO WAY.

I quit.

I completely shut down, break down, and literally melt down in this crazy place for usually about 48 hours as I get over the transitional hump that inevitably has to come with healing. It’s not pretty. I blame anything and everyone for it and nothing satisfies. Fear and anxiety usually sing and dance around me, mocking this inexplicable chaos I’ve created for myself when I’m just trying to get better. Faith becomes a chore and somewhere in the middle, I convince myself that even that is futile – nothing and no one can rescue me from this. It’s ridiculous and I KNOW my thoughts and behaviors are ridiculous, but I can’t shake it off. For this brief time no amount of journaling, good thoughts, and praying seem to do any good until this “alternate universe syndrome” runs its course. It’s the breakdown. It happens every time. And it sucks.

But then the light somehow comes back on. My humor comes back. Life is a little less overwhelming. I’m sane again. (Well, as sane as I get. Ha.) But it’s gone, like a black cloud that pours a heavy rain and then disappears as fast as it appeared. It’s weird and strange and horrible (and anyone who’s ever been around me during this “crazy” will certainly attest to the awfulness.) I’m just a beast.

And then I’m exhausted.

(Just as I’m sure you are trying to read this.)

But tonight, in the exhausted glow of finally getting over this surgery’s ‘healing hump,’ while I watched Valerie Harper dance and smile and cry happy tears and plainly exist in such an amazing light of life, I scolded myself for ever having to break down over a petty illness or recovery. But then she said something that made me think that maybe all of this is really a normal and necessary part of healing (as ugly as it can get sometimes.) She said “I had to get to a point where I couldn’t carry on to decide I would carry on.”

Those are some powerful words. And whether she came to that conclusion by being a beast for a bit or by sheer will alone, I’ll take my opportunity and decide to carry on too.

Until the next time, anyway.