Saturday, May 31, 2008

Singing in the Rain!

Grant and I just ran outside and danced in the rain.

I have NEVER seen rain like this in my life! We were only outside for about 10 seconds before we were completely drenched! Clark and John just stood at the open screen door watching us be silly - they weren't interested in participating.

The thunder was clapping RIGHT over our house and it was just GREAT!

I love the rain!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Grant's is 8 Years Old!

I love this boy! Grant has lived in 5 states and is attending his 5th school right now. We have made a lot of memories with this amazing child! He never ceases to amaze us with his love of life! He has figured out his new Heelys, reads a book in a day, and is excited to be a new Cub Scout! Happy Birthday, Grant!
For Memorial Day weekend, Andrew brought home a yellow balloon in remembrance of his sweet sister, Cristin. Cristin passed away at the age of 19 in a serious car accident. Although I never met Cristin, I feel very close to her. Cristin was a violinist and the shortest member of the family. She had a love for all people, and was just amazing.
When Faith (age 6) was born by Emergency C-Section, I felt a closeness to Cristin that I had never felt before. I truly felt that Cristin was watching over this little girl. She knew how much Andrew and I both needed to raise this daughter, in order to grow and develop into the people we could become, and maybe even encouraged her to stay.
So, now Faith Cristin shares her name with her Aunt and I know they will have a very sweet reunion someday!
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Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!

My amazingly talented and sweet Andrew had his 35th birthday! I knew I loved every bit of him when we got married, but now I love him 10 times more than that! I am so grateful to be married to this wonderful man, who is a great father and husband. He and Faith went to Las Vegas this weekend for Jeff & Jenn's wedding - more on that later.
While Mimi was in town, she and Andrew took Faith and Clark to the Air Show at Andrews Air Force Base. Despite the HUGE crowds, they had a GREAT time and loved the Blue Angels the best.
I am amazed that four planes that are completely different can fly so perfectly in sync with each other! Incredible! Clark was VERY impressed, but said that he wants to fly even HIGHER than the planes and be an Astronaut! Go for it, buddy!
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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Grant's trip to the Baltimore Zoo

(Grant is dictating to me about his trip today - this blog is in his own words) Today we went to the Baltimore Zoo and this turtle was in a tank with a lot of fish, which you see behind him, and a big crocodile. This tank was inside a building and inside the same building there was a monkey cage, and when we came back, Mrs. Rockwell as a fact why they put glass up. And do you know why? They will try and throw poop at you!
This curled up thing, even though you can't see it so well, is an Arctic Fox. Arctic Foxes live in the Arctic and they're basically the scavengers of Polar Bears. That means they follow Polar Bears around to get their food. The Arctic fox is the grey/white thing in the middle and the brown stuff around him is the log he likes to sleep in.
This is a Polar Bear named either Magnet or Alaska (hard to tell them apart) because even though they stood really close together, they don't realy have any height or fatness difference, it was hard to tell them apart. Here's what I know about Polar Bears:
1. Polar Bears are on the Threatened list - that means they are above Endangered, but below Extinct
2. Polar Bears hunt and kill seals and they only eat the blubber, so Arctic Fox's eat the meat.
3. Polar Bears have regular behavior that they do everyday, and one of them is called "lipsmacking", but it's not what you think it is. It's really opening and closing the Polar Bear's mouth.
4. Polar Bears will never meet with penguins because they are on the other side of the world!
5. If Polar Bears don't get enough food in the winter then they may have to eat in the summer because it's hard to find seals in the summer. They may have to eat plants in the summer.
This is me taking a picture of myself. I am a little bit cuckoo, but I had a great time with my friends. 5 of my friends are: John, Spencer, Deepak, Ian and Miss Gale.
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Monday, May 19, 2008

She will sleep well tonight...

My dear mother, Linda, left me today. As my tears drip onto the keyboard, I can only tell you how grateful I am for her!

She washed/folded at least 10 loads of laundry, did all the dishes, cleanup, read books, sang songs, held my sweet John who was feverish from Strep Throat when I knew she could barely hold herself up, decorated for Andrew's birthday, made a homemade cake, organized my Rubbermaid drawer, and so much more!

I know that I could not have recovered like I have without my amazing mother. Thanks, Mom, for dropping everything in YOUR life to come save MY life. Your advice (and past personal experience) took me to the ER, where they discovered my blood clots, and possibly saved my life. Your Christlike service has helped in ways that you will never know. I love you and thank you from the bottom of my heart (and lungs!)
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A boy and a tree...

While Faith was playing soccer...
Clark found a tree. These pictures make it look big, but as Clark climbed, I wondered if the tree would even stay upright. He climbed and he climbed until...
He got as high as he could go! It made me smile to watch my boy (1) find a tree (2) determine it was climbable, and (3) without checking with anyone, just start climbing! Great job, Clark!
Here's Faith doing a BIG kick! She loves soccer, and will someday get the concept of the game! Till then, we're just having fun!
By the way, my INR number on Friday was up to 2.0, barely into the "safe zone", so I got to stop my stomach shots (Yay!). I am feeling stronger every day, and my pain is very minimal. The only issue right now is that I run out of energy very quickly. But, I know that will change. Back to the gym beginning tomorrow morning - that will make me stronger, right?
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Fun at the park

The park right outside Clark's gymnastics has this great "Spider Web" that the kids love! I'm not sure how they justified this as being safe for kids to climb on (he's up about 15 feet), but they think it's great to be so "tall"! These pictures are from awhile ago - I haven't ventured out to a park yet since the hospital stay!
This was a seesaw that bounced up and down all by itself, and the boys were laughing SO hard on it! I can't think of anything better than to see my children enjoying each other!
Faith had a "Water Presentation" on Friday at school, (Mommy's first big outing since the hospital) where they taught the parents (and the other grades) about Water. Faith wanted to wear her Thailand dress because it was blue, and everyone loved it. IN this picture, Grant is experimenting to see what dissolves in water. I think he's pouring in Baking Soda?
At the end of the "presentation", the kids sat in the hallway and sang songs about water. I took this picture to display the diversity in her class. The kids call her Hannah Montana, because she's the only caucasian girl in the class. Faith loves these kids and they love her - what more could a mother ask?
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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mother's Day Pictures

The family came to visit me right after church on Sunday. The little boys brought me pens with flowers on top of them, which were adorable. Clark's lips ARE blue, from his delicious Gatorade he had just eaten down in the Cafeteria. Thanks Daddy for packing the picnic lunch for them!
John was a little troubled why I was lying in the bed. He kept asking and my answer never seemed to be good enough. But, by the end, he realized that he was supposed to be very "gentle" to Mommy. I had just taken some of my pain medication before they arrived, and I was very drowsy, but they perked me right back up!
I have the sweetest children in the world! They each brought me a little home-made gift, and Andrew brought me some beautiful pearl earrings.
Having my Mom here was the best gift of all, because she has helped SO much, and I know her body has been blessed to keep up with all the tasks around our house. I love you, Mom. As you can see in this picture, I AM looking a bit drowsy!
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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I'm Home!!!

I was supposed to come home yesterday. But, as I sat in the wheelchair waiting for my chest x-ray, I realized how much my lung hurt! It hurt so much when I took in a deep breath that my back would spasm and shoot pain throughout. And that was with 2 Percocet!

My INR number was also only 1.7 (they wanted it to be 2), so we decided I should wait one more day to come home. So, after a very rough morning full of tears and pain, they gave me some Delodin (?) and evvvveerrrrryyyyytthtinnnnngggg was much better. In fact, it practically knocked me out for 4 hours!

That one more day of healing was just what I needed! They put me on a different pain medication that helped with the pain without making me drowsy or dizzy, and I was feeling good. To be able to take in a breath without pain was incredible, and I knew I was ready!

So, this morning, my number was at 1.9, but the other dr. said that he'd send me home at that level. Mom came to get me, we packed up all my things and were waiting on the bed for the doctor to discharge me. Much to our surprise, he came in and said "You really should stay for one more day!" But, he said he'd leave it up to me, and so I'm home. I will take Percocet every 8 hours for the pain, 5 mg of Coumadin every night at 6pm and Andrew will give me two shots of Lovenox in my stomach each day until Thursday when I'll go back to be tested again. By then, it most definitely will be at the level they'd like (between 2.0-3.0).

Thank you all for your kind words, prayers and SERVICE! My family has benefited so much from your kind acts, and it has made it easy for me to relax in the hospital, knowing that the Crystal City Ward is taking care of my sweet ones!

I won't be myself for awhile - the dr. insisted that I stay in bed at least until my numbers are above 2.0, but I'm going to make the most of my time with the kids. We'll do homework, read books, and play all from bed.

My dear mother has definitely saved the day, cleaning and folding all the laundry yesterday and keeping our house running like clockwork. Thank you, Mom, for coming to our rescue. From the bottom of my heart, (and my lungs) I am grateful!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

We've turned a corner!

Andrew has done such a wonderful job of detailing all of my symptoms and the events of the past few days. I am so grateful for all that he's done to play Mr. Mom as well as Super Daddy! I feel so blessed to have him as my support! And I can't be grateful enough to all of you who have helped my family over the past few days: Corinne, Michelle, Lindsay, Shane, Mary, Rosemay, Spencer, Nicole, Jami, Eppersons, Margaret. Thank you for your calls of support to Andrew, who has appreciated them so much! It feels so good to know that we truly have a ward "family" here who has taken such wonderful care of us during our time of need!

Here are a few details leading up to my hospital stay.

Tuesday - sore through my right shoulder and back, but thought it was because I was doing so much writing in my Mother's day book for my Mom.
Continued to get worse into the evening.
By bedtime, I was only taking shallow breaths and my right shoulder was SO painful.
Took some Tylenol, went up to bed, and my pain went through the roof! I couldn't call downstairs to Andrew, because I was gasping for a breath. My right shoulder felt like there was a knife stabbed in the front! I made it downstairs gasping and crying for help.
Andrew administered a blessing to me, and commanded me to be healed and that I would make a "full recovery". I was able to find a comfortable spot on my left side and slept without moving an inch all night.

Wednesday - Woke up and felt the need to immobilize my right arm. Was inspired to call Mom Rich and ask her about her symptoms with her blood clot. When she described a PAINFUL 3-inch diameter circle in her back and 'a knife in her shoulder', I felt like we were onto something.

Gratefully, Andrew works with 2 doctors who were extremely helpful, and ultimately decided that I'd need at least a CT scan, EKG and Doppler tests, all which could be done at the hospital, so we brought the whole family down to the ER, and now here I am!

I am grateful that we were able to discover this "Protein S Deficiency" without having tragic results. My lungs are feeling better every day, and once I reach the right level of Coumadin in my system, they will let me come home. Hopefully, that will be tomorrow (Monday).

Happy Mother's day to you all - I am especially grateful to my mother who arrived last night to help! I love you so much, Mom!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Another Update

We have completed day three in the hospital and find ourselves in an improving situation. The quick summary is below

--Pain is under control and improving
--No new clots or new problematic symptoms
--Blood-thinning agents slowly beginning to take effect
--Some new answers as to "why" this happened
--New ETA for leaving the hospital is Monday.

Vanessa's pain is under better control and appears to be lessening somewhat. The goal is to transition her from intervenous delivery of medication to an oral form that she will be able to continue taking when she returns home.

It is great news that after 72 hours no new symptoms have arisen, especially because the blood-thinning agents are slowly but surely taking effect. The hemotologist (blood doctor) explained that, while we cannot know for certain that additional clots are not traveling toward her brain or heart, as each hour and each day passes without new issues it is a very good sign.

We have received some answers as to 'why' this could have happened. (Before reading further, please scroll to the bottom and check the box acknowledging your status as a HIPAA covered entity.) Blood tests reveal that Vanessa has a rare genetic permutation called Protein S Deficiency. We are told that it is exceedingly rare, manifesting in only 1:500,000 or 1:1,000,000 people. I knew Vanessa was special, but now I finally have clinical proof. Essentially, "normal people" bodies (sorry Vanessa) have multiple mechanisms that naturally prevent clotting. One of those mechanisms relies on a protein S. Vanessa's deficiency substantially raised the risk of clots, but gratefully, she made it through 4 pregnancies without a complication. The car ride from Provo to St. George may have been the cause or a contributor to this occurance.

We are literally feeling the power of prayers on Vanessa's behalf and witnesses to the charity of Christ as expressed through acts of service from our church family and friends. AND, we now have Vanessa's mom in town for the next 9 days!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Status Update on Vanessa

Family and friends:

We are almost 48 hours into this situation and I am just now taking the time to provide an update on Vanessa’s condition. There has been a lot of interest from family and friends so it seemed that posting something might be a good way to provide a status update.

For those in a hurry, here’s the deal:

--Vanessa developed blood clots which traveled to her lungs
--We are hopeful that she will make a complete recovery
--We are hopeful she will be released sometime on Sunday
--Our family has been blessed in many ways thanks to God’s love and mercy, and thanks to the faith and prayers of loved ones like you.

For those interested in more detail, here it goes.

Vanessa began experiencing acute pain on Monday of this week in her chest and back. By Wednesday, we were feeling she should see a physician. In discussing symptoms with physicians at work, we were advised to bring her directly to an emergency department. That was really good advice, though I am not sure I could have kept Vanessa away from the ER as her pain escalated. Once admitted, she received an EKG to assess heart function and a CT scan with contrast (meaning she was given an IV that allowed for better imaging). The scan was of her chest. It revealed a bilateral pulmonary embolism, a cluster of blood clots in each lung in the lower part of the lungs. I guess all that chain smoking is finally catching up with the old girl.

The acute pain she was experiencing is explained by the reaction of her lungs to the absence of blood flow. The doctors called this a pulmonary infarction. Similar to the way a heart attack is a myocardial infarction, a pulmonary infarction is a “lung” attack.

Her blood was also drawn in the first hours. Blood work can reveal some causes of clotting, and there is a scary list of conditions that can cause it such as cancer, heart malfunctions, diabetes, too much Neil Diamond, extended periods of stasis (immobilization due to travel, etc), and genetic irregularities. Thankfully, all the tests for which we have received results were normal. The genetic tests were sent away and results should be back early next week.

Apparently, most clots begin in the legs or abdomen because blood flow can sometimes be slower there. From there, the clot can travel through the veins to the heart and on to the lungs where it becomes oxygenated. Many patients with clotting have swelling or pain in the legs or ankles where clots originate. Vanessa never had those symptoms, and an ultrasound of her legs suggested no clots there now. The attending physician believes that there are not any additional clots somewhere in her body on the way to her lungs. I don’t know how he could be very certain of this. He also believes that there is a very, very low likelihood that one of the clots in her lungs could travel to the brain.

Regardless of whether all the clots have been found, I believe the treatment plan is the same. Vanessa began receiving Lovenox injections (blood thinner) twice per day on Wednesday. On Thursday, they began a once per day pill called Coumadin (also a blood thinner). Once the Coumadin begins taking effect, the injections will stop. The blood thinners require careful management, as too much can cause internal bleeding and too little will not stabilize the clots.

We learned that the medicine does not dissolve the clots, our amazing bodies can break down and dissolve the clots. The medicine, when dosed correctly, prevents additional platelets from flocking to the clot and expanding it. The body’s dissolving process can take place over a few week period when the medicine is dosed correctly. Then, based upon the original reason for the clotting, the medication will continue for 3-6 months or longer, possibly for life. The genetic blood test may shed light here. Though the idea of lifetime medication is sobering, this particular medication does not appear to have undesirable side effects (nausea, weight gain, elongation of the ear lobes). Interestingly, vitamin k acts contrary to the blood thinners so Vanessa will have to be avoid green leafy vegetables, especially dark green veggies like broccoli, spinach for a time.

The doctors feel that it is possible and even likely that Vanessa could make a complete recovery from this. The focus right now is to get the pain under control and to get the blood thinner up and working. We are being told that Sunday is a possibility for coming home if both these goals can be achieved.

Vanessa is comical and even cute on the painkiller medication, though our conversations are not what they used to be. Last night she fell asleep in the middle of putting her hair back behind her ear. There she was, asleep with her hand elevated resting by her ear. At times, she mixes dreams with reality. She asked me recently if the port authority got a new scripture case, and on another occasion, if the purpose of the hospital was to stabilize the carrots. Tough questions, I have to admit. She is coherent a lot of the time, but given the situation, visits from friends are probably going to go better once she is home rather than while she is in the hospital. In the meantime, I want to say how humbled and grateful we both are for the many prayers on Vanessa’s behalf that we feel. We have great peace with the situation and the prospect of recovery. Though God’s ways are not always the ways of man, there is great love and purpose in life’s experiences, including our trials.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Jesse's Wedding!

My youngest (and only) brother, Jesse, was married last Friday, April 25th and the trip was fantastic! Here he is with his new bride, Danielle, and all of the neices and nephews! The reception was held on a golf course in St. George, UT and the weather couldn't have been more perfect!
Here I am with my two buddies, John and Clark. The colors for the wedding were based on SKITTLES - that's right, the candy. It turned out wonderfully, and I especially loved her bouquet!
This waterfall, just outside the reception center, was too pretty to pass up. Everyone was so well-behaved all day: running to the temple, then to the luncheon, then back to the hotel, and then the reception. About 30 minutes into the reception, my sweet Andrew took the kids back to the hotel and they just crashed from exhaustion! I was able to stay until the end and play my violin with my sisters, and visit with all the guests. It was a magical day.
I love this picture of everyone getting their food at the luncheon. Their faces describe how the day went - lots of laughing and a handful of tears out of love for our dear brother, who has married the greatest addition to our family! We can't wait to get to know her better! We love you, Danielle!
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