Category Archives: Being real

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.

Memories, A Medical Update and That Time I Talked About Health Insurance


So once again it has been awhile since I have had a chance to sit down and write. Lots has happened and I wanted to share a few of those updates! On Saturday we had our family pictures taken by a friend who has some crazy amazing talent. I have only seen some of the sneak peaks…but what she has shared so far has blown me away. Her name is Stephanie Werner and she can be found here on Facebook. Seriously, if you need pictures taken and live in or near Marshall, MN, call her. I can’t wait to see the final edited CD!!

We have had a few really crazy weeks with work, and we just had some of the carpet replaced in the office space that we lease so things have been in a bit of a disarray here. But as of yesterday, everything was moved back into its proper place and the carpet looks really nice.

I couldn’t help but think that my grandpa would have really loved to see the before and after pictures. He and my grandma really supported us when Dominic first started this business. They gave us the loan that made it possible to buy the furniture and supplies he needed to get going. When I was cleaning out my desk drawers before we had to move everything I came across the paid off promissory note that he sent back to us after we had paid off everything in full. A sweet memory.

Speaking of memories, yesterday was the 7 year anniversary of my best friend Karlena’s passing. Honestly, I couldn’t believe it had been 7 years. Sometimes that seems impossible. But then I look at my girl, her namesake, and realize that she will be 7 in 6 short weeks. I was organizing pictures on our shelves after the move in the office and many of them are of our family and you can see how we have all aged and changed. But the pictures I have with Karlena and I will forever be from 2010 and earlier. It is sad when you think about the fact that someone so crucial to your faith walk isn’t there for new steps. But her presence and memory are certainly felt and I will forever be grateful that I had the opportunity to love her and be her friend.

On October 19th I had a follow-up visit with my OB/GYN Dr after my surgery. The good news was that everything was healing well and the biopsy from both the cyst (which was the thing I was most concerned about) and the tubes was benign.

In addition to having those things removed, I also had an ablation procedure. I shared back in September that because of the way that my uterus is tipped they were unable to do a standard biopsy in the Dr’s office, so instead they had to do it in the operating room prior to doing the ablation. My Dr had talked to me that there was a small chance that if something showed up in the biospy of the uterine wall that was concerning, I may have to have a hysterectomy in the future.

At the time there wasn’t anything in my history that indicated that might be a concern so we went forward with the lesser invasive procedure. Unfortunately, when they did the biopsy of the lining there were some sections of concern. In medical terms, there was some focal glandular crowding, proliferative-type endometrium, and cystic dilatation….in layman’s terms I like to call this my angry uterus.

Right now my angry uterus is just that…angry. Ha ha!! It isn’t cancer but if left unchecked and untreated it could become more serious. She said that we could wait a few months and then if my cycles don’t quit completely (like they do for 85-90% of women that have the ablation procedure) she would recommend a hysterectomy. (For people without an angry uterus bi-annual biopsies done in office can be used to watch for any changes….mine would have to be done surgically)

I am 42, almost 43. I won’t be having children physically in the future and so from a medical perspective, I don’t need this darn angry, funny tipped uterus. The reason we didn’t just do a hyst right away is because it has a longer recovery time and more risks….we were both thinking that the biopsy would be normal and hoping that I wouldn’t have the need for any more surgeries.

Well then last week we got the wonderful news about our anticipated healthcare premium increases. And just so I am clear, this is our experience and I realize that there are many of you that have had different experiences. I don’t know what the answers are, I wish I did…but I want to share what we have gone through the last 6 years and what is happening now as a result.

Let me just be frank with you, Obamacare for our family was a nightmare. Our premiums have doubled, tripled, quadrupled in the course of 6 years. I was fortunate for many years to work in a corporate environment and so as a result up until 2011, had access to a large group plan that offered reasonable rates and low deductibles. We were involved in a health coaching group and kept accountable for our health needs. Except for some major unexpected things, our group was healthy because we as a whole exercised, ate healthy and went to the doctor when it was medically necessary.

When we moved to MN and I was no longer working with that larger corporation and Dominic started his own business, we were in the position to look for healthcare on our own. I was clueless to what it would cost and we were shocked at how much more expensive rates were than the rates I had paid through the bank. But in 2011, it was manageable.

Then came 2012, 2013…and so on and with it extreme increases in premiums and out of pocket deductible costs. In 2011 we were paying approximately $400-450 a month for our family of 6 with maybe a $2000 deductible. Today we are paying $1600 a month and we have a deductible of over $7000 out of pocket. If we stay with our current group plan for 2018, one that we were lucky to get because we work together at the business….one that we were grandfathered into last year, our premiums will be almost $2100 a month.

$2100 a month just to have insurance. Our plan used to have a $40 co-pay, so at least when the kids got sick we could justify the expense of going in and getting checked out. In 2018 our co-pay will be eliminated. In addition to the $2100 a month, we would have to pay 100% of all medical costs per person up to $2300 each before any “insurance” would kick in.

Dominic and I work very hard for a living. We are fortunate, we know that. We make just enough that we do not qualify for any subsidy programs. Our cost of healthcare is fully our own. I know that we are not alone in this. I am friends with other families, many of them also self-employed, who have found themselves in a similar situation.

How is this “affordable healthcare?”

Last year we researched the options available to us in regards to the various Christian Health Sharing ministries. Fear kept me stuck in the what-ifs. Dominic was more ready to make a switch than I was but with promises of “reform” all over the news last November….we decided to ride out one more year in hopes that change was really going to happen.

Clearly that change isn’t happening anytime soon. The insurance companies continue to increase rates, decrease benefits and lesson the available networks that the plans work in. When my health care premiums are more than my mortgage payment each month, something is wrong.

So, as a result, two things are happening. One, we are looking into all of the options and companies out there that are considered Christian Health Sharing Ministries. I have spent hours reading and researching the differences, asking for input from friends that are using each plan, and honestly in prayer for wisdom and discernment over our decisions. I can’t live in fear of the unknown. When we get to that place where we have made some decisions I will share the whats and whys here for anyone that is interested.

I still have some questions and am hoping to get those answers soon. I am saddened that this is the state of our affairs and that we have to make these types of “between a rock and a hard place” decisions. But I am trusting that God will guide our choices and our steps.

And two….I have been back in contact with my doctor to discuss and schedule a hysterectomy (one that leaves my ovary intact!!) for the very end of December. While having another surgery in 2 months isn’t on my list of the best ways to end 2017 and ring in a new year, I can’t afford to risk waiting and having to do the surgery in early 2018. If there is a drastic change in my cycles in the next 6 weeks, the surgery could be canceled…but at this point, it looks like for many reasons, it is the best option for me.

I thought the week-long recovery of the last surgery was tough. This one will challenge me even more I am sure. But Dominic has been incredibly supportive and we will just have to schedule our workload very light in early January as a result. We have some pretty incredible clients and I know they will understand.

And sometime in the next 6 weeks I need to come up with about 10 freezer meals that I can make and freeze in advance so that I don’t have to worry about cooking. I won’t be able to lift anything over 20lbs for 6 weeks for sure, no laundry, no vacuuming….seriously what will I do?! Haha!

But joking aside, can I tell you that I have such a peace about all of this?! When my doctor said it might be something we would have to do it was like “ok…I can deal with that.” All the fear and anxiety I felt over the last surgery is just gone. Praise God! I know that having come to that place with Him, trusting that whatever the outcome, He would be there….that truth has carried me through today. It can only be explained by Him. He has given me a peace and I am so grateful for that.

So I do covet your prayers as we make final decisions about our health care situation and for December 28th and my surgery. It could be so much worse, I know that….so I just move forward seeking to get to the healthiest place that I can for myself and my family!

And if you are using a Christian Sharing Ministry and want to share your experience please do! What do you love, what works…what doesn’t, would you go back to traditional insurance? What questions should I be asking…give me all your knowledge!

On Grace and Why I Need it Every Day

I meant to stop and take a real life picture of my kitchen/dining room this morning but I ran out of time. Let me give you a little word picture instead. I had made a feeble attempt to dust mop the floors, but the pile of dirt, hair and leaves remained in a heap in front of our fireplace for at least two days along with the mop. The final step of actually sweeping it up alluded me.

Our dining room table is covered with papers from the kids, dried up, spilled food chunks and sticky juice glasses that hadn’t yet made it to the dishwasher. The kitchen island wasn’t any better, cluttered with books and toys and papers….it was all threatening to overtake me.

A few days ago I was voxing with my best friend about the work God had done in my life, the dramatic changes He had done in my spirit from the really awful year of 2015 into early 2016. It was ugly and if you thought things were ok then I did a good job of wearing my “I’ve got it all together mask on” well. The reality was I was holding on by a thread for months.

But God. There was some really hard heart work that took place during that time. Some letting go of the things that had held me in chains and I did find freedom because of it. But it doesn’t mean that I am perfect! By no means!

I still need grace, I am constantly learning how to give and receive grace every day.

Case in point. This week has been brutal and it is only Wednesday. We have more final delivery meetings at work this week than we normally schedule, and it has kept us at the office longer in the evenings than we would like. We are getting some new carpet in the office space that we lease next week but as an agreement to get this done, we committed to the removal of the old carpet ourselves. That is happening this weekend. Isaac is coming back home to help and since he will be home for the first time in a long time we are sneaking family pictures in there somewhere.

And it is going to snow and be cold and windy….but that is for another post.

I have been stressed. Overwhelmed really and feeling like we are just barely hanging on to keep everything in order so that we can accomplish all that we have on the calendar in the next few weeks.

I share all of that to give you some background to why I had a mini nervous breakdown a couple of times this week. Yes it IS only Wednesday. On Monday night I got home at 7:20pm. Our evening delivery went longer than we hoped and when I arrived home I discovered that the kids had not even eaten supper despite the fact that there was a crockpot full of warm soup ready and waiting for them.

Something about that set me off. I just was so mad. It was bedtime and they hadn’t eaten. Karlena had not read her book, we needed to practice spelling words and the house looked as I described above. I think at this point all sanity went out the window as I started to stomp around. I’m not kidding either. I really was throwing a fit, ask my kids, they will attest to it!

I opened up the recycling drawer and the two cans were overflowing….”I guess I will take these out myself”, I said. “And I will do all the dishes, and all the laundry…and I make dinner and you don’t eat it. And everyone leaves all their junk all over the place and no one cleans it up…”

Stomp, stomp, stomp…

It was pathetic really, the kids started to get food and Gabe hauled out the recycling. I went into the laundry room to fold something and calm down. While I do think that at times my kids struggle with a bit of selfishness and not recognizing how easy they have things…they really are great kids.

I knew that I was tired and stressed and I was taking it out on them. So I marched back into the kitchen to apologize. Moms make mistakes too. I told them how sorry I was, explained that it had been a rough day at work, but that wasn’t an excuse and I shouldn’t take it out on them.

We also set a new rule that in those times that I do have to work late, that they will all eat together at the same time, at dinner time, because I always make sure on nights like that there is something ready and easy for them to eat.

Here’s the reality though and something I need to remind myself again and again. While I can teach our kids about being responsible and taking care of their things and putting things away…they will not ever care about the tidiness of our home like I do. I never did as a child! I can place something on the stairs and expect that they carry it up…and then get angry each day that passes that they walk past it unbothered by it.

Isn’t it easier if I just say please carry that up to your rooms?! They do, it’s done and I don’t have a reason to allow a resentment to fester. Sometimes I set myself up for problems by not communicating my expectations well!!

Monday night I needed grace. I am sure that tonight and tomorrow and into this busy weekend full of furniture moving and carpet ripping…I will need grace. I need to be willing to freely give it to others and grateful when they are gracious back to me.

And when I voxed my friend on Tuesday I laughed as I recounted the horrors of the night before. How funny it was that I had talked up all the ways I had changed and then how completely downhill the evening had gone just hours later.

But the difference I am starting to see is that I am not holding on to the anger for days on end. Yes I used to do that. It was awful and miserable and thankfully I am quick to recognize when I have failed and much quicker to apologize. God has done a work in me and while I am not perfected, I am a work in progress and that is a gift.

There I was sitting on my pity potty….


Oh friends, I hope you are all having a good weekend.  Yesterday I found myself in a bit of a rut. I reeeeeaaaaalllly don’t do this laying low and resting thing well. By Thursday I was boring myself. It is ridiculous I know. Friday it was cold and rainy, the perfect curl up on the couch in a cozy sweater kind of day. And while I was doing just that I found myself frustrated and angry that I couldn’t do more.

Apparently, I don’t do recovery well.

My pain level was still pretty high on Thursday so I was taking 1 pain pill as needed every four hours. The lovely side effect of said pain pill is that it pretty much dries everything up on the inside, so going to the bathroom is all but impossible.

Too much information? I know, it probably is but here’s the thing…I said I was going to be open about this process and so here I am being open. So while I haven’t had much of an appetite, I also have not gone the the bathroom since Monday. For me that is a long time and I think Dominic best described it when he said you start to feel like you are full of concrete.

On top of all that loveliness, I am still really swollen from the surgery. I feel I look about 3 months pregnant and basically none of my regular pants fit. So I was wearing leggings as pants, which for me is a strict no, but I really had no other choice.

Thursday night I decided that I would stop taking the pain pills to see if that would help get things moving again. Friday morning when I got up I spent about an hour walking laps around our home trying to help “wake up” my intestines. {It didn’t work} Neither has any of the other recommended over the counter “products” that are supposed to help alleviate said problem.

So I was bloated, uncomfortable, full of “concrete” and feeling a bit sorry for myself.

I called and voxed my best friend and cried “I’m bored and miserable and sitting on my pity potty.” Then I realized what I had said when I meant to say pity pot and we both laughed over that one!

I told Dominic that I just wanted to go to Walmart to get a few things, I couldn’t stand being in the house any longer. He said he only wished he could just sit and hang out in the house and relax. Why is it so hard to just be still?

I knew that I needed to remember this time, appreciate it because very soon everything would be back to normal and I would be crazy busy and probably stressed.

Then I got a message from my most favorite friends here in Marshall. They were headed to the church to set up for the ladies night event that is happening later today and asked if I wanted to come along and watch. I wasn’t allowed to help at all, but could sit and visit with them while they worked.

And it was just what I needed. We talked and laughed, and I was able to just relax in a different setting for a few hours. Nothing about my situation had really changed…I still was dealing with pain and being uncomfortable but by getting off of my “pity potty” I was able to change my perspective.

How quickly I forget.

Instead of continuing to celebrate the fact that the news after my surgery was better than I had hoped, I was caught up in how slow the recovery seemed to be going. I should be focused on the fact that there won’t be any additional treatments, surgeries etc. after this! I have so much to be grateful for!

It was a reminder to me again how quickly I can get sucked into the negative. It isn’t ever a good place for me to be. I am so grateful for the few hours away last night that helped me gain a better perspective. There is always beauty to be found. Goodness can happen when we allow ourselves rest, and joy comes from time with friends.

If you are stuck on your pity potty today, try something different for a few hours. Seek to change your perspective and count your blessings. I am sure there are many to be found!! Have a happy Saturday friends!!

 

Photo Credit: d’s2nd

How Your Prayers Made a Difference

Well I am home and recovering from my surgery on Tuesday. The night before the surgery I had a terrible night’s sleep. The dog’s collar kept jingling when she would move and we had heavy rain and storms come through as well. Maybe it was nerves too, but I tossed and turned that night.

We arrived at the surgical hospital about an hour before the procedure and they got me in their system, handed me some pretty fancy hospital wares  and then we waited. My Dr. is an OB/GYN and apparently there was a potential labor emergency during the time the surgery was supposed to start so we had to wait almost an hour longer than we expected.

Dominic and my sister Beth kept me company until they brought me back. We had some laughs so it made the time pass pretty quickly. Once in the operating room they hooked me up to a heart monitor and started the IV. They said the meds would kick in pretty quickly and in one moment the ceiling was moving above me and the next thing I remember was waking up and asking the nurse if they had to take the ovary or not.

She said I needed to talk to the Dr. about that and honestly if I did, I don’t remember that conversation! But eventually they brought me to a second recovery room and brought Dominic and Beth back in.

Everything went better than I had imagined it would. No cancer, the ovary remains, my tubes are gone and the ablation was successful. Praise God!!!

In the weeks leading up to this surgery I had steeled myself for a different answer. I really did have a peace about all of it and knew that if the news wasn’t great that God would be with me on whatever path I would walk next. I had even stopped praying for specific requests for myself and instead just thanked God for giving me peace and for being my strength.

But so so many of you did pray those specific prayers on my behalf. It was incredible really, people from my community and local church rallied around me. Women that my mom knew from another prayer group she is in emailed me and told me that they were praying. So many of my Facebook friends sent encouragement and positive thoughts my way. And my parents drove up to make sure that we had someone to be with the kids while we were gone!

Each prayer, comment, text message…they made a difference and I am just humbled that you would step in and support me in that way. At a time when in so many ways our country seems like a dark and sad place, you my friends brought me light. Oh and a few of my dear, best friends from church worked it out with Dominic to come to our house when I was gone to redecorate the built in shelves in my kitchen/dining room AND the tackle the chair recovering that I just had not been able to complete!! Seriously it is overwhelming to be loved on like that!!

Thank you doesn’t seem enough, but it is what I can offer right now. That and the promise that I will intercede on your behalf if and when the need arises.

The last time I had a surgery I was so very sick from the meds, that recovery and coming out of the surgery were the things I feared the most. But my Dr. was proactive and prescribed a little patch that I placed behind my ear 3 hours before the surgery. In addition they offered me a pill to take right before the surgery, that when paired with the patch usually resulted in very little nausea.

So thankfully when I woke up I wasn’t really sick. I am uncomfortable today and need to stay consistent with my pain meds, and I already over did it this morning when I got up to help the kids get ready for school. It proved to be too much and I have since spent the majority of the day in bed.

I don’t “rest” well. I don’t accept help well either. Ha! But we have friends from church scheduled to bring us a few meals, and our neighbor brought us over a meal this afternoon as well that we can have later this week. What a gift that will be for our whole family!

I don’t remember if it was my dad or someone else that said to me that when we deny  people the opportunity of helping us, we are denying them the use of their spiritual gifts. I like that way of looking at it and so instead of believing that I should be able to manage it all, I step back and am humbly accepting  the gifts of others.

The anesthesiologist said that they would make a list of everything the used to help control the nausea  so that next time we could do it again. I told him that I would prefer there not be a next time..but if there is I will remember this experience too. How so many people gave us support and encouragement.

Because we know that there will be trials, we often don’t know when they will come, but they will come in some shape or form. I know that next time I can hopefully be that gift to someone else.

This experience has reminded me that when I become ready and willing to turn all of it, whatever it is (fears, worries, doubts etc,) over to God, that I can walk through a situation confident that He is with me even if I can’t comprehend what will happen. I have this hope that is an anchor to my soul….

This experience has also reminded me about the value of community. Of having a church family, good neighborhood relationships, family and friends that you can confide in. So that if there is ever a time when you don’t have the words to pray, you can know someone else is interceding on your behalf.

Once again I have been a bit long-winded, thank you for sticking with me. And if some of this doesn’t flow well, I am blaming it on the meds I am taking. I feel a bit foggy with my thoughts and my words. But it was important to me to take a few minutes and post an update here.

Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus to me and my family. I am so very grateful for each and everyone of you!!

Photo Credit: ThienLong

The day before, the rock, the flowers, community and more…

So as I write this it is the day before the big day. It has been a long week of waiting. I have been ready but the time has passed slowly. It hasn’t helped that I haven’t felt great for several days. For multiple days I have said I feel like I am pregnant. Tired, nauseous and a little out of sorts. Of course there is no physical way I could be pregnant…so these week-long symptoms have been irritating. I am hopeful that after my recovery period I will be back to myself again.

I had good intentions of getting so much done this weekend before I am bed-ridden for a few days but the majority of it just didn’t happen. It’s ok though, overall we had a good weekend. On Sunday after church I had a chance to visit with several of my friends and a few of them prayed over me. It was such a beautiful gift. A few of my other friends were conspiring with Dominic about something behind me too while the praying was happening…I am pretty lucky to have such an amazing church family!

Then later that afternoon another friend from church texted me and asked if she could put me on the “meal train” list. I have to admit it is reaaaalllly hard for me to say yes to help. I am good at trying to manage it all on my own (even if I am not doing a great job as evidenced by something I will share later) but one of the girls that prayed over me specifically prayed that I would have a heart willing to rest and receive. So I thanked her for arranging the meal train and know that my family will be blessed by it.

Today I had BIG plans. Like get all the work done I possibly can in the office kind of plans. Except it didn’t quite turn out like I had expected. At about 12:30pm I got a call from our elementary school. It was the nurses office. They had Karlena there and somehow she had a rock stuck way down deep in her ear. She was crying and the nurse said that we needed to take her to the Dr. to get it out. {Of course}

So off to the school we go to pick her up. When she gets in the car she initially tries to tell us that a “mean boy” from her class put the rock in her ear. Why would you let someone do that we wonder out loud? And then through sobs she admits that she did it. So awesome, it was her fault and she was lying to us. Parenting win #1 for the day. Wait for it #2 is coming!!

The Dr. couldn’t see her for a few hours so we had lunch and went back to the office where I got the most beautiful flowers delivered. Ahhh, sweet blessings in a day that was going down the drain. My best friend wanted me to have something pretty to look at all week and had them sent to our office today. They are so perfect. I rarely get flowers and I have gotten them twice this week! What?!

While we were waiting for the Dr’s appointment my calendar alarm pops up. It is a reminder for Gabe’s ortho appointment in 10 minutes. The one I had COMPLETELY forgotten about. The one that was supposed to be extra long today so they could do a bunch of replacing of wires and things. The kind you don’t want to have to cancel, but I had no choice. I called the office and apologized profusely, telling the receptionist that I have a surgery tomorrow and I had completely forgotten the appointment and there was no way for me to get a hold of Gabe to get him there. Parenting win #2.

Thankfully they were so grace-filled with me and we were able to reschedule for a better time next week. This time I will NOT forget!

Besides all of this, I was impatiently waiting for a call from the pre-op nurse to give me the lowdown on what not to do and what to do before the surgery. {Finally they called!!} Like I get to shower tonight AND tomorrow morning. I will be clean! Ha! And I thought I might get to have food up to 8 hours before the surgery…so I was planning on having a protein shake at around 3:30am. But apparently I can’t eat after midnight. Boo. I am going to be one hungry mama come noon tomorrow.  Somehow I am sure I will survive.

Through all of this though I have been reflecting on this amazing community of people that I have surrounding me. In person, in prayer, with meals and flowers, encouragement and laughter. All of it is such a gift. I don’t take it for granted, I really don’t.

So thank you. I will do my best to provide an update when I am able. But know that your prayers and encouragement have been felt and are so very appreciated!

Even in the 30%

Yesterday was my pre-op appointment with my doctor and while I did share this information on Facebook, I want to share it here as well. I want to continue to keep a record of all of this and writing helps me process, so thank you for allowing me to be real and personal here.

So the doctor initially decided to try and see if she could feel the cyst because she said there was a possibility that it went away on its own, but it was definitely still there. She also attempted to do a biopsy of my endometrial lining for the ablation that they will be doing as well (a kind of buy one get one free part of my surgery – Ha!) but apparently my uterus is tipped and it made that quite difficult and pretty darn painful. And I thought I had a pretty high pain tolerance. Ouch!

So after that fun, we talked about the surgery and the risks etc. There are some things about the cyst that are “good” and not indicative of stage 2 or greater cancer. Like there isn’t fluid around it. But there is something abnormal with the cyst, there are 2 cysts or possibly one that is split, but they can’t tell for sure and it has thick walls. So they have to get in there to see it with the scope to know for sure.

She said that if she had to put a number on it she thinks there is a 70% chance that the cyst is just a normal cyst and then she might be able to just remove the cyst. A 30% chance it is not typical. If it looks abnormal at all she’s going to take the cyst and the ovary, call in the oncologist and they will take lymph nodes as well to check for cancer. This is apparently standard protocol.

They take it all if there is any chance at all it is abnormal so they avoid the risk of breaking the cyst open and possibly spreading cancer cells into the uterus.

Regardless of how the cyst looks, they will remove my tubes for sure to help decrease the chance of cancer. If the ovary has to be removed then I will have to look at some hormone replacement therapies. There are lots of options and we will discuss those if/when that time becomes necessary.

We talked about the side effects that I had from the meds I took for just 10 days (they weren’t pleasant) and reassured me that there were lots of options to try. When this all first started I was so panicked about the HRT’s, it bothered me so so much. Today I can say that I am confident that if it is needed, she will help me find the right balance of meds.

Oddly enough, I feel at peace about everything. She said she would treat me like she would her own daughter. I trust her and more importantly I trust God. She is a Christian and said she is doing Gods work, and so I know I am in good hands.

And no matter what happens, God will be my strength. I do so appreciate all your prayers and messages. Surgery is next Tuesday and I am ready. I almost wish I didn’t have to wait a few more days because I just want to get onto the healing part of this process!

I voxed my best friend all of the details later yesterday afternoon and she messaged me back that I sounded like a different person. She could hear the peace in my voice. Part of that does come from knowing all the details and options, yes. But more importantly I think, that peace has been poured over me because of the prayers of all of you.

So many of you have interceded on my behalf, praying against fear and for peace. I can’t tell you how grateful I am. The prayers are heard and they are felt.

I am the type of person that could easily get stuck in the “what-if” of that 30% number. And let’s just be gut-level honest here….I have a real vanity about my hair. The thought of the possibility of cancer and chemo and losing my hair. Oh my goodness, I can’t even fathom it. I know I shouldn’t joke about that but I have dreams nightmares about losing my teeth and my hair. It’s not pretty guys!!

So even a week ago I could have easily been stuck in that place. Spinning over all of the negative possibilities. Filled with fear and anxiety over what might happen if I was in that 30%.

But yesterday God met me in such a tangible way, such a take-my-breath away moment, that I realized it doesn’t matter what percentage I fall into. It really doesn’t. God IS with me. He so specifically made His presence known to me in a way that He knew would minister to my heart, I have no doubt that whatever happens next Tuesday, He will continue to be the God that ministers to me. (Hair or no hair!)

I shared that I was honored to be a part of the (in)courage A Moment to Breathe 365 devotional. It is no coincidence to me that the release date for that book was THE date of my surgery (October 3rd). A day that would be remembered by joy and not fear.

But yesterday when we got home from the doctor’s office I wanted to read the devotional for that day (I was sent a few advance copies to give away!!) and so I googled what day of the calendar year it was. Day 270.

I opened up the devotional to day 270 and saw this.

I instantly started to cry. Words I had written, words to bring encouragement and hope to another now speaking life into me. A reminder that I can trust the journey. That I don’t need to know the future, I don’t have to know the answers but instead I can trust God in the process.

There are 79 other authors in this devotional book. I had no input on where my posts would land, or on which days. I have 4 other posts in the book and this one specifically is JUST what I needed to be reminded of.

These are words He gave me a long time ago. He hasn’t changed and He won’t. It doesn’t matter if I wake up next Tuesday and discover I was in the 30%. God is still God and I trust Him fully.

Certainly, I am praying for the 70% results. But even in the 30%, there is hope. And whatever it is, the next steps I take will be with Him leading me. I have confidence in that. I have peace.

I told my kids this morning on the way to school that mom wasn’t scared. I trusted God and He was with me. And they could trust Him like that too. If nothing else I want them to see that they don’t have to walk through life filled with fears and what-ifs. They can put their faith in Him and He will guide them.

I don’t know what you are facing today. What unknown you might be struggling with. Can I encourage you to turn it over to God, ask some trusted friends to pray for you and with you and then allow His peace to flood your spirit. I would be honored to pray for you, so if you have any specific prayer needs, please leave them in the comments and know I will be lifting you up!

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