Monthly Archives: January 2018

Discovering Who I Am

It is my 43rd birthday today. A few years ago that age may have freaked me out. When I turned 40 my dearest friends surprised me with a getaway weekend and the transition into what felt like would be a tough life change was made beautiful. Yes I am aging but I am finally coming to that place that I am ok with who I am.

The last several years have been ones of extreme changes. 2015 into 2016 were, admittedly some of the most difficult days emotionally that I had walked through. I was a woman that really struggled with being perfect. Some days it can still rear its ugly head, don’t get me wrong….but in those days it was BAD.

I spent all my time worrying about what people thought and trying desperately to keep up appearances so that I looked like I had it all together. I would go to church on Sunday all prettied up and smile at people and talk about how great God was and then come home and be a monster to my husband and my kids. I was angry and bitter and broken inside and I basically wanted to run away from my life.

I believed in God, I believed that He could redeem and restore my broken pieces but I was also so stuck in myself, so full of pride that I was unwilling to admit that my attitudes were a huge part of the problems we were having. I fought seeing a counselor, but when I did things started to change.

It was a sacrifice I had to make. Weekly I drove almost an hour and 1/2 to meet with the Christian counselor that had been recommended to me. We talked about a lot of different things and I did a bunch of recommended reading. I had to deal with some things that were really painful and let go of other things that could not be “fixed” at that time.

I found a freedom during those 12+ months. As I began to be more honest about what was going on, things inside of me started to change. My circumstances had not necessarily changed, but I was able to see them with a fresh perspective. I share this because we all have things that we may feel ashamed of. Things that threaten to hold us down, tell us that we are not good enough.

But one thing that I have learned deep in my soul is that I don’t need to be “good enough.” God has always been there for me, standing in the gap when I am too weak, lifting me up when I am not strong. He gives me strength to keep going and a passion to encourage others who may be feeling the same.

A few weeks ago a couple of my girlfriends and I went to see The Greatest Showman at the local movie theatre. If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet – go today. Make it my birthday present to you. Seriously it is a must see! We left the show and I immediately bought the soundtrack to have on my phone. Like so many, one song, in particular, has spoken volumes to me.

The words to This is Me go like this…

I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are
But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

 

Who can’t relate to those words? How often do we feel like we can’t present our broken, bruised selves to the world. Because if we do we will be judged. People may talk about us or cast us aside. How often as an adult have I felt like I was right back in middle school? Worried about what I said, or analyzing what someone else said…trying to put on appearances because gosh darnit I just want people to like me.

But as This is Me suggests, we don’t have to be afraid anymore. We are warriors. Yes we are broken and bruised but we are strong and we don’t have to apologize for not being perfect. This is a truth that I have learned slowly over the past few years. It is one that I have grown into but it feels good.

To finally be in that place where I feel happy with who I am. I am 43, I am aging. I am a wife and a mother. I make mistakes all the time but I am loved. I am a child of God and I am forgiven. I am learning what makes me laugh and discovering deep friendships that are the true gifts during this time in my life. I will probably always take a shower and put on makeup before I go outside. I am vain yep, absolutely. I work hard at our business and care about the clients we help, I have a heart of mercy and would probably donate to every tear-jerking cause I come across if I was able. I can be passionate and outspoken and also quite shy. I will share my heart with those I trust and have difficulty trusting again those who have betrayed me. I am a sinner saved by grace, sometimes that grace is needed minute by minute. I trust God with my life and believe He has given me freedom in areas where I suffered extreme bondage. I am ever grateful to be His daughter. This is me.

The You Tube video below was shared on FB by a friend of mine with the backstory that when Keala Settle showed up to perform this when they were trying to get the show funded, she believed that she would not get the part…that it would be cast by someone more famous than she. But after she sang her heart out below, after she got out from behind that stand and stepped into the center and sang her heart out…the producer came over and hired her on the spot. I love that don’t you? Step out, start discovering who you are…stop being afraid of being judged and just be you!

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Link to video

Photo Credit: via

My Hysterectomy Surgery – Part Three

Hello friends! I thought I would do a quick update for you on my surgery recovery since I am now {almost} at the 4-week mark! If you want to catch up on my past posts you can read here about Part 1 and Part 2.

So it has been a couple of weeks since I shared an update and it is mostly because there wasn’t much to report. I felt pretty normal during the days but fairly tired by dinner time. I was so grateful to have all of those freezer meals prepped because I am usually to tired to think about cooking once I get home from work. We did have 1 night in 2 weeks that I was exhausted and Dominic was working late and I didn’t have a meal thawed, so the kids did cereal and fried eggs. But in 4 weeks we haven’t done too bad!

I hadn’t started exercising yet, I was waiting for my follow up appointment to get the all-clear for that, and I was afraid that even 20 minutes of hard walking on the elliptical might wear me out too much….so I gave myself grace to let that go for now.

I saw my doctor yesterday for my 4-week visit and got the good news that everything is healing even better than she expected at this point! I still have 2 more weeks of all the typical restrictions, no lifting over 15-20lbs, no hard exercise (light, slow walking only – no resistance) etc. But it was nice to know that everything was healing as planned. I am so grateful that I didn’t have any issues.

When I first decided to consider this surgery I found a website called HysterSisters. It is a website that offers information, forums etc. for women going through this process. You “join” by entering your email address and anticipated surgery date and then each week I would get an email with links to information about what to expect either before the surgery (how to plan, prep for it) and then after the surgery. Other women share their experience and offer support and encouragement.

One thing I had to be careful about, and would caution anyone else considering this, is that every woman is different. Every case and doctor and treatment plan is different. Some of the experiences I read about could have filled me with fear. Not every surgery goes as well as mine did. Many women have experienced difficult recoveries and complications. I will say that I didn’t allow myself to read too many of the negative stories because I know how fearful I am prone to get. I said it before that I felt such a peace about this surgery the entire time. I decided to trust God with this surgery and stopped researching all the what-ifs.

I guess the bottom line is, pray about it, seek counsel from your doctor (I really trust mine!) and make the decision that is best for you!

My surgery notes say that my uterus was enlarged and sharply retroverted, something I shared in a previous post that my doctor commented on, saying she hadn’t seen one that twisted. Several of the symptoms that come with having a retroverted uterus are issues that I dealt with for YEARS. I didn’t know it was likely the cause of so many of my problems. I don’t know when the uterus became so retroverted, it can happen with pregnancy, as a result of endometriosis (which I have had) or it can be genetic!

In addition, my doctor shared that my pathology report showed several fibroids (which I didn’t know were there!), all benign thankfully, but that she believed would have continued to cause me problems in the next several years. All those issues have been removed. No cancer risk, no fibroids, no pain caused from the retroverted uterus. And because my one ovary looked very healthy and remains intact, no hormones and hopefully a typical transition into menopause when that time comes.

I know that my story may not be typical. My doctor said I was the perfect candidate for a vaginal hysterectomy. And everything went as planned and I am so grateful for that. I hope these posts have been helpful for anyone considering this type of surgery. Again if you have any questions please feel free to email me at kasmith03@gmail.com and I would be glad to answer them!

Happy Wednesday!

Waiting in Anticipation for What God Will Do

Last night I tried to capture the beauty of the sunset. What I saw on my drive home and what I was able to capture with my phone just minutes later was not what I was hoping for. I shared the image on FB with the following caption…

“I had to trudge through melted dirty snow and dog poop in my backyard to try and take this picture. In the end it didn’t turn out like I was hoping. You can’t quite see the beauty of the cotton candy pink skies that I was trying to capture.The big, barren trees are blocking my view. It’s there, I saw it on my drive home but it eluded me. Isn’t that a lot like life? Those times when we struggle to see the beauty because of all the Brokenness in front of us…. when we trudge through the crap of life. Those times when it’s difficult to see the light because the darkness is so overwhelming.

Today I am certain of two things. 1. The enemy has come to seek, kill and destroy and he wants to see people hurt and families crushed, he wants shame to rule and Truth to be buried. 2. My God has already won! It doesn’t matter how dark it seems, His light will always shine in the darkness. He is never more present than in those moments when it seems He is far away. He will never leave us or forsake us.

The sky reminded me tonight that His light has overcome any darkness the enemy may try to put on my path or on the path of those I love. No it will not always be easy, sometimes it is downright hard. But I have more hope in this momemt than I have in a long time. God is good. All the time, He is good.”

I have commented before that I am a negative person by nature. It is much easier for me to see what is wrong with a situation well before I can see what is right. I have a tendency to get bogged down in worry and what-ifs. Fear has long kept me in bondage.

But it isn’t a place I can afford to live right now and quite frankly I am tired of it and I am saying no more!

A few days ago I saw a post shared around FB about a young woman, I think from Australia, who was dying of cancer. She wrote a challenging piece about how we all need to stop complaining, stop getting upset over the little things and start enjoying life. As a woman who was facing her last days she knew full well all she was going to miss out on, all the things she wished she had not done and the things she would do differently.

It challenged me. How often do I find myself complaining about little annoyances? My kids do it too. Yesterday morning one of my kids had a boot that kept slipping off their foot. I get why it was bothering them but it was threatening to ruin their whole morning and it was ridiculous!

So I shared a little with that about what this woman had to say. How we have SO MUCH to be grateful for. We have a warm home filled with so much stuff, they have their every want met. They do not go hungry, we are warm and full and happy. But it is a choice! Life isn’t fair. There will always be someone who has it better, easier. There will be times that things happen that are cruel and not right. Sometimes we don’t have a choice in what happens to us, but we do have a choice on how we respond!

Trust me, it is easy to say these things when life is going along perfectly. It isn’t so easy to walk that walk when the road is hard. I know because we are walking it. There are some things that are really hard for us right now, not fair things, discouraging, worrisome things. I could start comparing our situation to other families’ and saying how unfair it is. Or I can start counting my blessings.

I can’t afford to do anything but count my blessings. I have no idea what will happen in the coming months but for once in my life, I am not filled with fear. Instead, I am waiting in anticipation of what God will do.

God has done some pretty amazing things in our past. He has restored and redeemed some incredibly broken places in our lives and made them whole. Some may say that our lives and our marriage are a miracle….I would agree with that. God is in the business of redeeming our broken places. I believe that for me, and for my family….and I believe it for you too.

I don’t know what you might be facing today, what hurt or fear or worry that is weighing you down. It is easy to run away, easy to believe in lies, to be consumed with shame instead of His Truth. Sometimes fighting to see Truth is the hardest thing we can do. But it is there. And so in those moments where I am uncertain about what is next, I will trust my God and wait in anticipation for what He will do. I have seen what He is capable of and it is pretty incredible. Don’t miss out on the miracle friends!!

My Hysterectomy Surgery – Part Two

Hello friends! I am back again with part two of my surgery and recovery story. And first can I just mention the beautiful flowers pictured above?! My sweet grandma sent those to me on Friday to brighten my day and it was such a nice surprise!

So I shared about my surgery and the first few days in the hospital, now I thought I would share a little more about my recovery at home. It is funny because as I sit here now over a week later and try to think about what I have done it feels like a lot of nothing! I suppose that was to be expected though.

For those that don’t want the TMI details you can stop reading now…but I said I would be honest about my experience, so here goes. I have given birth vaginally 4 times. I remember what it was like those first few days recovering. I remember sitting on ice packs because everything down there was so swollen. Going into this procedure and knowing that everything was being done vaginally, I honestly expected the same kind of response. But this was not the case.

One of the things the Dr. warned me about that I didn’t fully understand was that with this type of procedure people often feel too good too soon and then over do it. I woke up and besides the terrible cramping in my abdomen, I had no other physical symptoms of having had surgery. No swelling, no pain – nothing. Because there are no outside stitches, one may not even know that I have just had a major surgery.

The cramping was deep inside my stomach/abdomen and felt a lot like labor pains. When my Dr. stopped to check on me we asked about it. Why would I have cramping pain in what felt like my uterus when it was gone? She said that there is a lot of connective tissue that had to be separated from around the uterus to remove it. The pain I was feeling was likely the brain sending signals down to those nerve receptors, just like it does in labor. So it was like the phantom pain that someone who has lost a limb often experiences. Crazy right?!

So for the first few days I did need to use the pain meds almost every 4 hours or so. I don’t like the side effects of using narcotics (constipation) but tylenol wouldn’t cut it for the pain. I spent the first few days mostly on the couch watching Netflix and sleeping. It is tough for me to stay so still. I can get bored pretty easily. But even just taking a shower was exhausting.

I think that is the part of recovery that has surprised me the most. How incredibly tired I am. I didn’t lose a ton of blood so I guess I don’t understand why I feel so drained. Someone explain it to me please?! My doctor said that my recovery would be a lot of walking and then resting, walking and then resting. And she was right. I can handle small tasks for a short time. I can walk for a little bit but then I have to rest for what seems like even longer.

I begged Dominic to take me to Walmart to get groceries one day (I just wanted out of the house) and he said he didn’t think I was ready and took the kids instead. He was right – that day it would have been too much. Three days later I did get a short trip to the store because I needed an extra pair of comfy pants and that 30 minutes was enough to land me on the couch for over an hour. It felt good to walk a little and then it felt really good to rest. If you are having this procedure done don’t push it. It is hard for me to do too, but I can see why so many people tell me to take it easy!!

I have about three different areas that I spend most of my time. Our bedroom and then two different couches in two rooms. One of the best things I did was purchase this Heating pad/neckwrap set from Amazon. I have the heating pad on our bed and the neck wrap on one of the couches. Having a heating pad over my stomach has really helped with the pain and it keeps me warm too! On the other couch I have a heated blanket that I use. Not having to move these from space to space has been really nice. The set from Amazon is unavailable right now, but I believe I paid $40 for the set, best money I have ever spent.

For the first several days I didn’t have much of an appetite. And the only thing that tasted good to me was fruit. Thankfully Dominic went to the store and picked up several different kids of {highly overpriced} fruit for me. Everyone responds differently to surgery and medicines etc. So my diet has consisted of a lot of toast and fruit and small meals. I don’t have my full appetite back yet.

Thankfully I had several weeks to prepare prior to my surgery and I made a bunch of freezer meals in advance. I think I had 11 pre-made and today we are using our second one. The first one was jumbo stuffed shells and it provided at least two meals. It will be nice as I have to start working again to be able to come home and have a meal to throw in the oven when I get the kids from school and it will be ready by dinnertime. If you can prep ahead I recommend it! I think as I try and get back to a semi-normal routine I am going to be exhausted by the end of the day and cooking dinner will be the last thing I would want to do. Having pre-made meals ready will be perfect!

I think that is all I have to share this round – as I get into the full second week of recovery I will come back and share more details again. I don’t see my Dr. for a follow up visit until January 23rd so at almost the 4 week post surgery mark. I will be interested to hear how everything is healing because I really can’t feel anything at all!! Again feel free to comment/message me with any questions you have and I will do my best to answer them!!

My Hysterectomy Surgery – Part One

Hello friends! I wanted to start by thanking everyone for their prayers. My surgery is over and I am now home. Today it has been over a week since my surgery and I thought that I would sit down and try and write out some of the details of my surgery and recovery. Like some of my prior procedures, I have found that sharing honestly about my experience might be helpful for someone else who is planning on or considering a similar procedure. So if you do have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me and I will answer any questions you have!

My surgery was scheduled to start around 11:45 am on Thursday the 28th. We had to be at the hospital 2 hours early, and our drive to the hospital takes 2 hours so we left the house right away in the morning. We got checked in and they brought us back to a surgery prep room. I changed into a gown and then they put this awesome heated air blanket over me. It was glorious. Apparently there are studies that have found that  patients that are warmed before, during and after surgery have less chance of infection. I am always freezing so this blanket was wonderful! We waited and waited and then found out that my surgeon had been delayed at another hospital that morning and had another surgery before mine…so my surgery didn’t start until almost 1:30pm. The worst part about waiting was that I was SO HUNGRY because I was unable to eat after midnight.

I was having a vaginal hysterectomy. Thankfully everything was able to be done vaginally and my Dr. didn’t have to use a scope to assist, which saved my belly from being blown up with gas. In the past, that has caused me the most discomfort, so I was grateful that she wasn’t needing to use that method. Prior to the surgery I googled and watched a vag. hyst. surgery on You Tube. I know that probably seems weird, but I wanted to have an idea of what was happening to me. I always felt at peace about having the surgery done. I wasn’t worried about it and knew that medically speaking it was the right choice for me. I will share how my Dr. confirmed that for me later.

I have a history of getting really nauseous from the  anesthesia, so we had a plan in place to use the same meds that had worked during my October procedure for this one. Unfortunately the several hours after my surgery are completely lost to me. I am not sure what happened this time but I remember getting on the table in the operating room around 1:30 pm and then next time I was aware of time was after 8 pm that evening. I have no memory of getting to recovery, or my hospital room or the multiple hours into the evening after that.

I do remember waking up in incredible pain and being SO TIRED. I could not stay awake. I remember hearing the nurses ask Dominic if my reaction was typical after a surgery. They had me hooked up to a pain pump of Dilaudid. It gave me a pump of meds on a scheduled time, but I also had a pump that I could use to give myself an extra shot of meds if I needed it. I would use the meds and I was still in such terrible pain. I would wake up writhing in pain and fall back asleep and repeat. Finally I was awake enough that they were able to ask me if I could stay awake to try a pain pill of a different medicine and they would shut off the dilaudid. Apparently some people can have very negative reactions to that medicine and I guess I am that person! It did not bring me to a fun happy place! Once I was given a new medicine and it kicked in, everything changed. The pain was much more manageable. It wasn’t great, but it was manageable.

Interesting fun fact, I came home with rug-burn like sore spots on both of my elbows. I don’t know how I got them, except that in those first hours I must have been using my elbows to move myself and put so much pressure on them that I hurt them enough to rub them so raw that they eventually scabbed over! Ouch!!

I can’t speak highly enough of the nursing staff that helped me during my stay. I always try to be so grateful for everything that they do. I am sure that first several hours were difficult for them as they tried to figure out how to deal with my pain.

My Dr stopped in at some point, I couldn’t even tell you what day that was! She said that the surgery went just as expected. She was able to leave my one ovary so I will not have to be on hormones at this point. She said the ovary looked perfect so that was wonderful news! She removed the cervix and the uterus. She said that my uterus was “profoundly tipped.” I knew it was tipped, thus the reason I was unable to to do the in office biopsies, but she said it was almost twisted on itself. She hadn’t seen anything like that before. She said the way that it was positioned, it was no wonder I was having pain issues.

Hearing that report just reaffirmed that having this surgery was exactly what I needed to do. Not only did I remove any possible cancer risk, but hopefully any pain issues I was having should be gone once I am fully healed!

Typically with this type of surgery you only get an overnight stay. Crazy right?! I guess years ago it was 4-5 days, but with insurance these days it is now a single night. The test to be able to go home is the ability to pass gas. Again doesn’t this seem crazy to you?! It isn’t how your pain is managed, or if you can move around well etc…no if you can pass gas you go home. I don’t know if it was all the pain med mishap or if my digestive system is just slower than normal, but I wasn’t producing “results” like they needed so we ended up staying a second night at the hospital.

Honestly I was so grateful for this because the difference that I felt the evening I should have gone home and the next morning was so much different. The next morning I woke up and felt ready to take a shower and walk around a bit. So we were able to get checked out after the Dr. stopped by later that morning and were back in Marshall before dinner time.

I have lots more I want to share about my first few days at home, and some of the things that have been so helpful to me but this post has gotten SO LONG already!! So I will come back in a day or two and share some more then! Again, if you are considering this type of surgery please feel free to reach out. Everyone will have a different experience, but it was helpful for me in the beginning to be able to read a couple of first hand reports.

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