Category Archives: Health

T.K.O.

A couple of days after my birthday I started feeling bad.  Our family had just finished up a weekend packed full of fun and festivities with my brother’s family (they completely surprised me by showing up on our doorstep the day before my birthday…a blog coming soon about that)!  I was feeling completely worn out, exhausted and a little nauseated.  My husband can tell you, anytime I am super tired, I get super nauseated.  So, I didn’t think too much of it except that as the day went on, the nausea lingered on.  By 7:00 pm that evening, I was in bed with a bottle of Gatorade I had dug out of the refrigerator along with a half eaten package of saltine crackers.  Jake was getting Ben ready for bed and I’d just finished feeding Jude and putting him to bed.  At 9:30 pm it was all I could do to stumble over to Jude’s room to feed him one last time for the night and get him back in his crib.  Finally, I was back in my bed drinking more Gatorade and eating more crackers convinced that if I could just continue eating and drinking these two things that I’d feel better soon.  Apparently, all the Gatorade and crackers in the world couldn’t make me feel better that night.

That’s when my week-long battle with “the bug” began.  All kinds of thoughts ran through my mind as I puked and puked and puked some more.  Was I pregnant (and for all of you that can’t wait to find out the answer to that question…we would later find out from the ER doc, “No, definitely not.”)?  Was I stricken with cancer (my mom had similar symptoms when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer…vomiting, diarrhea, terrible stomach pain)?  Was it kidney stones AGAIN?  

Two days into my battle, Jake watched the boys while I drove over to see my general practitioner.  After checking my vitals and poking around on me she diagnosed me with a “GI bug,” gave me a prescription for Zofran and told me to drink plenty of fluids.  Two days after that visit I was back again, this time feeling like I could possibly die.  After my blood pressure reading was 76/56 my exam room got very busy…the nurse, nurse practitioner and doctor all began buzzing around me.  I was told that I was “orthostatic” (most likely caused from dehydration) and because they could not administer an IV to me in their office they were sending me to the emergency room. 

Jake loaded up the boys and we drove to the ER.  Thankfully, my stepmom, Linda, was already on an airplane to come and help out.  We’d made a middle of the night phone call to my dad (I know, I hate making those calls in the middle of the night…they are always so frightening for the person receiving them) informing him that we’d take Linda up on her offer to come and help out.  Jake had been amazing by taking care of me and the boys for several days, but with all kinds of things piling up on his desk at work he needed to get back there as soon as possible.  After receiving the call at 1:00 am, Linda got up and packed before she and my dad left for the airport shortly thereafter.  I know she was exhausted only to come and be more exhausted by taking care of me and the boys.  We appreciate you, Linda, more than we can express in words!

Until my recent visit, I can’t tell you the last time I was in the ER as a patient.  My most vivid ER memory was in 7th grade after a car accident.  Anyway, I’ll admit I was feeling a little scared as I walked in that ER all by myself.  The security guard searched my bags and scanned her wand over me then pointed in the direction of a glass window saying, “Wait at the line, please.”  Just as I was starting to feel like I was going to pass out I heard,  “Next.”  After taking my name and a brief history the nurse asked me to sit in the waiting room until my turn.  Thankfully, my turn came quickly.  Finally, I was back in a room sporting the ever so stylish hospital gown and not long after that I met with the ER doc to discuss my situation.  The plan: administer fluids intravenously along with another dose of  Zofran.  After not one, not two, not three but YES, four sticks…the IV was in.  “I guess you’ve been throwing up more than we thought.” The nurse said as she finally started the IV.  All of that sticking REALLY made me want to pass out.  I was thankful to be left alone with my big bag of IV fluid and a TV, even if all but two channels came in fuzzy.   

Jake picked up Linda at the airport, dropped her and the boys off at the house and arrived at the ER just as the first bag of fluids was finishing up.  It was such a relief to have him there.  I was feeling a little frazzled especially after listening to the lady next door screaming, “I want pain meds NOW!”    

Speaking of the lady next door (crazy med lady was in room number 20).  The next little story is about the lady in room number 18.  When Jake arrived in the ER he told the sweet little old volunteer man that he was there to see his wife in room number 19.  As he scanned the list of names the volunteer said, “Oh, she’s in room number 18, wait here while I notify her.”  The volunteer returned moments later and told Jake, “Right this way.”  Jake was directed to room number 18 where both he and the lady in room number 18 received a surprise…Jake was not her husband and she was not his wife.  Jake poked his head in to room number 19 saw me and told the very embarrassed volunteer that he’d found me! 

While waiting for the doc to come back to visit with us again, Jake took a little jog back down memory lane to the most recent time he could remember being in the ER.  When he was in college working at a restaurant (Kirby’s…where we would eventually meet, and the rest is history), he made a trip to the ER after burning his hand in some hot oil.  Once he arrived in an exam room all he could remember hearing was the woman in the next exam room screaming, “I haven’t had a bowel movement in 12 days…it hurts!”  What is it about poop that makes us all laugh?  Jake and I must have hee hawed over his story for at least 30 minutes before the doc arrived to discharge me.  I’m convinced that laughter is the best medicine!  

When I returned home this was my conversation with sweet Ben: 

Ben:  Mommy, do you have a bug?

Me:  Yes.

Ben:  Can I hold it?

Me:  No, honey, it’s in my tummy.

Ben:  Can I see it?

Me:  No, you can’t see it either.  It’s not that kind of bug.  This type of bug is so small you can’t see it.  He seemed to be satisfied with that answer.        

Over the next several days I began to feel better, regain my strength and began to eat solid foods again.  Unfortunately, Ben ended up running a 102 fever for a couple of days and complaining of his mouth hurting anytime he’d try to eat anything.  Linda just happened to mention at dinner one night to check his throat.  Sure enough, it was the worst looking throat I think I’ve ever seen.  After a visit to the pediatrician (dubbed the “train doctor” because of the electric train that goes around and around on a track high above our heads in the waiting room) Ben received the diagnosis of Pharyngitis.  After several days the sores on the back of his throat disappeared and he began to feel better.  He proudly told us one morning, “I feel better, my throat went away!  Now I can kiss baby Jude.  Hip Hip Hooray!”

Yes, I’ll second Ben’s comment, “Hip Hip Hooray…we’re all feeling better!”

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Filed under Health, Orlando

Welcome Baby Ashlin!!

My step-sister, Lindsey, and her husband, Dustin, welcomed their daughter (and first child), Ashlin Davea, into the world on Sunday, March 14th at 1:28 pm!  She weighs 5 pounds, 10 ounces and is 18 inches long.  

After dealing with severe swelling and extremely high blood pressure, also called toxemia, last Tuesday, March 9th, Lindsey’s physician sent her to the local medical center for additional evaluation.  They determined at that time to take her by ambulance to the university medical center a few hours away.  The medical staff, trained to handle high risk pregnancies, was able to bring her blood pressure down to a less serious level with blood pressure medication.  She also received several rounds of steroid shots to help the baby’s lungs develop in the event that they’d have to deliver her early.  The staff continued to monitor Lindsey and the baby for the next several days and after her condition seem to improve somewhat even considered discharging her with strict instructions to go home and stay on complete bed rest.  However, after her blood pressure began to spike again, it left them with no choice but to take the baby by caesarean on Sunday, March 14th. 

I am happy to report that both mama and baby are doing well considering the complications.  Lindsey was discharged yesterday morning.  Baby Ashlin was born six weeks premature and will remain in the NICU for now.  They are running some tests today and depending on those results she could be discharged as early as this Saturday.  We’ve seen God move in big ways over the past week by protecting Lindsey and the baby from serious harm and by providing them with outstanding medical care.  God is good and we are so thankful!

Congratulations, Mama Lindsey and Dada Dustin!  We’re so excited for you!  We can’t wait to meet baby Ashlin one day soon!!     

(A special side note, Ashlin was born on Granny Knighten’s birthday…that’s Lindsey’s granny.  She passed away several years ago from complications from diabetes.  She was a beautiful and lovely lady.  What a special gift to Lindsey to have her daughter born on the same day!)

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Filed under Arkansas, Family, Health

Life in November

(I know, I know…it’s February already.  I’m still playing catch-up from last year!!)  Jake, Ben and I returned to Arkansas in early November to help celebrate my niece’s first birthday.  Our plan was to stay for only a long weekend, however, upon our arrival we learned that my mom’s condition had declined rapidly during the two weeks we’d been back home in Florida.  Jake and I decided it would be best for Ben and I to stay indefinitely to spend time with my mom, so for most of the month of November we lived in Arkansas.  Although we endured many difficult days (click here to read more about my mom) there were also several exciting things that happened during the month that helped brighten our lives.  Here’s a recap of a few of them.

November 7th – Laci’s first birthday!

November 13th – Jake and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary (apart).  Even though we couldn’t be together it was still a very special day.  He’s my rock and my knight in shining armor.  I love you, Jake!!

November 14th and 15th – Jake’s sister, Amanda, celebrated her 31st birthday on the 14th.  The next day she married her fiancé, Joe!  Congratulations to the newlyweds!  We CANNOT wait to celebrate with you in Hawaii later this year!

November 23rd and 24th – My sister-in-law, Candice, turned 30 on the 23rd and my sister, Julie, turned 38 the following day.  Happy Birthday, Ladies!! 

November 26th – Ben turned 21 months old on Thanksgiving Day!

From the mouth of Ben:

You know I can’t do an update about Ben without sharing some of the funny things he says.  Here are a few things I wrote down from Ben’s 21st month that made me chuckle.

He had gotten something in his eye at lunch one afternoon and turned to me and said, “Mommy, wipe my eyeballs.”

I was driving him to Mother’s Morning Out (MMO) when he started calling out from the backseat to all the other cars around us, “Get off the road, get off the road!”  I’m not entirely sure where he’s heard that before, but I’m going to guess Jake.  =)

One day he came up and told me very matter-of-factly, “Mommy, I like cool trucks.”

Anytime he’d leave the room I was in at our house he’d wave and say, “Bye bye, Mommy.  Have a good day.” 

The same goes for his trucks.  When we’d leave the house for the day he’d say, “Have a good day, trucks.  I’ll miss you.  Bye bye.”  And when he’d go to bed at night he’d tell them, “Night night, trucks.”

We were driving in Fayetteville one day when I heard Ben call out from the backseat, “Mommy, turn left right here.”  Sure enough…he was correct!  Good guess or maybe he memorized our daily route!?!  He certainly must have inherited his daddy’s navigation skills because we all know how lacking mine are!!  And to think that mom and I used to talk about trying out for The Amazing Race.  Can you imagine the two of us trying to navigate our way through foreign countries…ALONE??  Well, it would have made for some very entertaining television that’s for sure!

They taught him the “clean up” song at MMO and he taught it to us.  Anytime we’d tell him to clean up his toys he’d start singing (and still does), “Clean up clean up everybody everywhere.  Clean up clean up everybody do your share.”  I LOVE this song…he actually seems to enjoy cleaning up when we sing it!

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Filed under Anniversary, Arkansas, Ben, Birthdays, Family, Health, Holiday, Mom

Carving Pumpkins and Raking Leaves…All in a Fall Day’s Work

We rounded out our visit to Arkansas in October with a fantastic fall day outside at Grandpa and Grandma’s house in Fayetteville.

While Ben napped that afternoon, the rest of us got started on carving our pumpkins.  Mom was even feeling good enough to sit outside with us.  We didn’t know it then, but this day turned out to be the last time we took pictures with her.  It was a special day and I’m so thankful we got to share it with her.  It will be one I’ll never forget.

After Ben woke up from his nap he was ready to play outside with the rest of us.  Grandpa Bill bought him a little rake just his size and he was beyond thrilled to get busy raking leaves!

And what good is raking leaves if you can’t play in them…and play they did!!  Here’s Ben with his cousins, Khloee and Kayla.

Snuggling with Grandma one last time.  Sweet memories.

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Filed under Arkansas, Ben, Family, Health, Holiday, Mom

Remembering Mom

“The death of a mother is the first sorrow wept without her.” –Unknown

It was sometime after 3:00 am when I heard my brother call out my name waking me up from my sleep.  “Bill just called…Mom went to be with the Lord at 3:20 this morning.”  It was Friday, November 20, 2009.  I had a restless night of sleep.  I, along with many others, had prayed fervently that night that God would take Mom home.  After watching her suffer over the last nine months, knowing that the doctors had done all they could do and especially watching her suffer those last few precious days…I just couldn’t bear the thought of her suffering any longer.  So I prayed that God would work swiftly, that He’d take her home and that when I woke up the next morning I would be told she was with Him in heaven…completely healed.  I know it seems strange to think about praying fervently for your mom to pass on, but at some point I began to look beyond the fact that I’d miss her and realized that it was best to let her go.  So when I heard the news I remember feeling both a sense of relief and great sorrow.  She was no longer suffering and completely healed, but at the same moment my heart ached and I missed her so very much.  That morning we all gathered at my Mom’s house to see her one last time before her body was taken to the funeral home.  It was somewhat comforting to see her lying there so peaceful, her face no longer drawn up in pain and she even had a little smile on her face.  We all thought that it was just like Mom to give us a smile…to let us know that everything was alright and that she was in good hands…our Father’s hands…I can’t imagine a place better.  A few days later we attended the visitation for her followed by her celebration service and burial the next day.

The celebration service was just that…a celebration of my Mom’s life and it was absolutely perfect.  We laughed and we cried.  I know I’ve shared a few of these things with some of you, but to me they are worth writing here and sharing with everyone.  There were two things the pastor talked about that day that have continued to give me peace, comfort and encouragement.  He shared with us about how not long after my Mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer she and my step-dad, Bill, claimed this verse from Psalm 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  She was not only willing to praise Him in the good times but in the bad times too.  The pastor also shared about the time when someone mentioned that Mom was losing her battle with cancer and she corrected them and said that this was not her battle to fight but that it was God’s and that he had already won the battle over death. 

Earlier this year in May our pastor gave a sermon titled, “If God is Good, Why is There Suffering?”  Here is a quote from our bulletin that day from Oswald Chambers, “The picture of God in the Bible is of One who suffers, and when the mask is torn off life and we see all its profound and vast misery, the suffering, sorrowing God is the only One who does not mock us.  ‘He was desposed, and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.’ ”  So I’ve asked God many times during this journey of suffering with mom, “Why this road, why this way?”  This is the answer I keep hearing, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8) and “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)  So here’s what I think…there is evil in the world because there is an evil one.  I don’t think it was God’s plan to ever have it that way.  I believe that He understood Mom’s suffering and cared for her very much…He never left her side.  There is comfort and healing in that.

So as not to mislead I should say here that things have not been easy since her death.  Sure, I absolutely believe the things that I wrote above and I do take great comfort in them, but it is false to believe that Christians don’t grieve.  I’ve felt great sorrow and most recently a lot of anger.  I’d like to stomp my foot, cross my arms and say, “I want my mom, NOW!”  I remember my college roommate telling me once, “It’s okay to tell God exactly how you feel, He wants you to be honest with him.”  And in those moments of great sorrow and anger I remember another story our pastor told us that Sunday in May.  He talked about three pots of boiling water (the boiling water represented suffering) and each pot had three different things in it (we could be represented by any of the three).  One pot was filled with carrots, the next an egg and the third coffee.  And he said that the choice was ours, that as we suffer and come out on the other side we can choose to be wimpy, hard or have things brought out of us that we didn’t know were there.  My prayer is that we would all choose to be the coffee.

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Filed under Arkansas, Family, Health, Mom

Home Sweet Home

Mom and Bill arrived home safely last night.  Here is Bill’s most recent update.

E-mail update dated Sept. 22:

Dear Family and Friends,

     A great deal has happened since the last update, so I’ll try to recall the most significant happenings since then.  After having stopped all treatments two weeks ago, Judy has continued to lose weight, energy, and fluids.  Since she already had an implantable port placed for chemo treatments, we are now accessing that same port for TPN (total parenteral nutrition).  TPN is a means of feeding via the vascular system. It gives a break to the already distressed GI system.  Our goal wasn’t to have Judy stop eating, but rather to insure that she had adequate nutrition and weight control as she ate.  Three days after starting the TPN therapy, however, she started experiencing chills, fever, and vomiting.  She was admitted to the hospital and given a broad-spectrum antibiotic after blood cultures, etc. were drawn.  She responded well (overnight) to the antibiotic and has had no fever or emesis since then.  At first, the oncologists thought she was experiencing radiation toxicity or a port infection or even a reaction to the TPN.  But, final lab results showed evidence of a urinary tract infection. 

    Judy was released from the hospital last Friday, and has been taking Levaquin (an oral antibiotic) for 5 days.  She has remained on TPN and is now holding her weight…maybe even gaining a little. 🙂  She both looks and feels much better.  An increase in the dosage of her anti-diarrheal medicine has now resolved, or nearly resolved, the GI issues …which allows her more freedom.  And, that’s great, since “getting out” helps immensely with her overall outlook.  Her hyper-alimentation (TPN) runs through the night.  I usually mix the additives and begin infusing Judy around bedtime and she is finished by early morning.  Coram, a company out of Little Rock, will be supplying us with TPN when we get back to AR.  They will do a blood draw each Monday, fax the results to our nutrition group at CTCA, and they will tweak the formula as needed. 

    While in the hospital both a specific prognostic tumor marker and CT scan were done.  The CT showed no appreciable tumor growth in the pancreas; however, the scan did reveal metastatic disease…multiple nodules were found in both the right and left lobes of the liver.  Because of the metastasis and increasingly higher tumor marker values, even in the midst of aggressive treatment, we have prayerfully decided to come home at this point-in-time to be with our kids, grandchildren, and dear friends.  Judy had an endoscopy yesterday to remove her temporary biliary stent and replace it with a permanent one.  Depending on how she feels in the morning, we will be heading for Fayetteville in the early a.m..  I’m not sure yet, but it looks like we’ll need a trash compacter to get everything in the car.  For those who can remember back that far, this may end up looking like a “Ma and Pa Kettle” adventure.  🙂      

     Whether serious, funny, good, bad, or indifferent, we choose to thank God each day for His abundant grace.  We rejoice in knowing there is nothing that can separate us from His love! (Romans 8:38-39)  Once again we thank each of you so much for your continued prayers and support.  We bless you and look forward to seeing you soon.

 B&J

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Encouraging News

I wanted to write a quick update regarding mom’s health today.  She called me this afternoon and sounded so good!!  What a difference a day can make (and a good night’s sleep…she reported that she slept “great” last night).  Here’s what we’ve learned today.  The culture results showed no infection in her port!!  She’ll be discharged from the hospital this evening.  On Monday of next week she will have surgery to have a permanent stent put in place to help prevent jaundice.  She’ll spend Tuesday recovering from the procedure and if all goes well they will begin their journey home to Fayetteville on Wednesday!!  They have already scheduled hospice and TPN to be set up for when they arrive home.  Thank you all so much for your prayers!  It is so evident that God is continuing to work in this situation by answering our prayers and taking extra special care of my mom (and our family).  We are so thankful!

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