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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Time flies when you're not having fun.

So much happens in your head when you are faced with the phrase, "Your husband has a lesion on his brain." Total freak-out mode. Is it a tumor, or as they phrased, a "glioma"? Is it a stroke, or as the report stated, a "white matter infarct"? Who do I tell? Who do I NOT tell? What do we do NOW? Besides lose what's left of our minds. So after many doctor consults, we choose a neurosurgeon, the BEST. He tells us it's 99% sure it's an 'infarct' (what a disgusting word, I know, right?).... He says come back in 2 months for another MRI and we will see if it grew any. WHAT?!?! Ok, so we r pretty sure it's a stroke. Not much of a surprise, he's had little ones (TIAs) before and it DOES beat the hell out of a cancer diagnosis, yes? Neuro guy says everything is ok, he's 99% sure. He's the best, as I said, as I keep telling myself.

John, whom I most lovingly refer to as the Captain (we have a lot of Johns in our family)is actually handling it well mentally. Pardon the pun, but he's a real Trooper.

Actually we've been through scares like this before and we made it through.

Once in 1993 or so, he had a cardiologist tell him not to even walk across the room without knowing he was gonna have a heart attack. Next tests showed that he actually had NO blockage
in his heart. That he was fine, that the test was a fluke.

In later years we were on vacation and his blood pressure skyrocketed to something like 300/200, which is definitely deadly. We were in Missouri- they kept him overnight. I followed his wishes not to call family or friends so it was -at the time- the scariest moment of my life. But he got better and after the one night in St. Joseph Missouri, we carried on with our vacation. Worst vacation ever, we hit every E\R in the US from Missouri to Wyoming. But we did it together and we pulled through. And when he finally let me tell the family, they all came to our rescue- and our son came to get us even though we were so very far far away. He's an amazing son, and we are blessed to have actually 2 amazing sons and a most amazing EVER daughter, who all pulled together and made SURE we made it back home ok. And thank God for them, and thank God we don't have BP issues any more.

A couple years ago the Captain was taking a blood thinner for the prevention of his strokes. He was also taking ibuprofen for migraines. (Just a side note, he's a worry type person, he worries too much about details and everyone's feelings.) The ibuprofen irritated an ulcer in his stomach, which was likely created by worrying too much, but that's a whole other post topic. He developed a hole in his stomach because of the combo of the Ibuprofen and the worrying. He started to bleed, ALOT, in his stomach, made obvious by ways you can guess. Horrible ways. I argued over an hour for him to go to the E/R. He wouldn't go. I finally said, E/R or 911: you choose. He chose E/R. They tell me another 30 minutes of him waiting and he would've died. The bleeding ulcer - made worse by the blood thinner, had made him lose all but a tiny bit of blood in his body. For instance, a grown man usually has 10 to 11 pints of blood in his body at all times. In the ICU, they gave him 11.5 pints of blood just to keep him breathing. Then they said he wasn't out of the woods yet even. The blood thinner was a double edged sword, it made his blood flow out of his body FASTER, however it kept what very thin blood he had left flowing to his brain and through his heart. No damage done permanently to either organ, thank you again Jesus. They fixed the ulcer, about the size of a nickel, kept pumping 4 or 5 bags at a time into him, and prayed (as we all did) for his life to be spared. I don't know how many days in ICU but it was a lot. Then a few more when he was stable in a regular room. Obviously with prayer and much appreciated staff and a wonderful family support system, we made it through.

Even more scares we've had together- I fell off the deck and broke a few things and tore a few tendons, ligaments, etc., years later. I knew I had a surgery coming at the very least on my ankle. But my ortho guy wanted to check my ribs and lungs before scheduling. Something showed up in my x-Ray that looked like a lung tumor. We planned my funeral at that point. An MRI and CT scan a couple weeks later, showed my "tumor" to be a very large and wicked kidney stone. I never thought I'd be happy to have a kidney stone!!! I, in the previous weeks, had said my goodbyes to my husband, my brothers, my family, friends, you name it. I just knew I was a dead duck. So did the Captain. But the kidney stone, although it wasn't fun to pass, was a hell of a lot better than a cancer diagnosis.

Recently the Captain had a pretty routine CT on his kidneys, just a normal thing at his age. It showed 6 tumors or cysts, ranging in size from a grapefruit all the way down to golf ball. Not just one kidney, BOTH of them. Plus a kidney stone. Again we sought out the best surgeon. We made a plan: if he was to lose both kidneys, I'd give him one of mine. He didn't like the word "dialysis" but we figured it was going to have to be done at least a little while until he could get my (or someone else's) kidney for him. Well guess what!? We planned a funeral just in case. We even moved money this time. We just KNEW this was IT. Too many times he had escaped death, examples above- and the many falls he'd taken lately, either down the stairs or otherwise. He was constantly escaping the greatest of harm, so this had to be it, right? Maybe God had decided. Or maybe not?!? These tumors/cysts: according to the BEST surgeon of this type; all benign. Check again in 3 months, but he was CERTAIN that no surgery or even WORRY was necessary at this point. He even said the kidney stone was so small that the Captain wouldn't even notice its passing. More prayers answered, and believe me, we had so many prayers, ours and others'.

My point in telling you all this: Two things: you never know what tomorrow will bring, And no matter how bad things get, pray.

Here is what I'm learning: I'm learning that life can throw you curve balls even if you don't even know how to play the game and even if you didn't know you were even playing. I've learned that no matter how bad things get, you always have God, your family, and your friends. I've learned that God is in control and that I must let him take control when I can't have control, and even when I THINK I DO have control. I've many times reflected on the fact that God gave Job so many challenges because He KNEW Job could handle them. He basically said to Satan, "Give it your best shot, I know that Job will pass every test that you give him." I know I'm not Job, but I take pride in facing challenges given to me; given to US. Because I know that above all, God believes in me, even when I don't believe in myself.

We all have challenges and we all have our 'crosses' to bear. God allows this because he loves us and he believes in us. I read in my Bible (can't quote chapter and verse, or even the book section it's in) that God gives us some of these challenges so that we can USE our crappy experiences (or good ones too) to help others. I'm guessing that means if you walk a mile in someone's shoes, you can better understand and help your fellow man. It's your duty- when u suffer a loss of any kind- to sympathize or empathize with your loved ones the best you can, and if you have 'been there-done that' you have a better perspective to do so.

I'm no Bible thumper, you guys know that if you know me very well. But I have,and we have, been through a lot, with our near death experiences and our every day challenges we have in both our health situations. We benefit through God's grace, and thankfully the care and love we get from our family and friends. We have a lot of crap going on, but we are still the luckiest and most blessed people I know- and it's because of you and because of our faith- our faith in God, and our faith in each other.

A lot of you maybe haven't been through the same types of crap, but we all have CRAP of our own. My prayer for you today is for you to look at your CRAP as a gift, and for you to have a knowledge that God is there for you, even when you might think He is not. Take your CRAP and think to yourself, "Wow, God must have a lot of love for me and tons of faith in me, for Him to have given me this CRAP that He KNOWS I can handle."

People LOVE to say that God will never give you challenges you can't handle. But they never
say, "It's okay to ask for help when you need it." I have problems asking for help. But I'm getting better. I hope all of you get better too. It's okay to ask for help, whether it be from God, a family member, a friend, or clergy if you have it. If all else fails, ask me, I'm a good listener. Lol ;)

I forgot-

You know what I was thinking just now? I was thinking I wish I had a blog. You know what I'm thinking right now? (As Theressa would say) well duh!!!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Long week ahead - sooo glad I have you guys!!!

This week is gonna change our lives in many ways. We've been waiting for this week, even fighting for this week, and praying for this week.
Monday's gonna be the most important day. We see Dr. Kuhn in NLR to see about the 4 cysts and one kidneystone that John has in/on his kidneys. On one, he has a cyst the size of a tangerine and one the size of a golfball. On the other, he has a cyst the size of a nickel and one the size of a ping pong ball, with a kidneystone about the size of this comma (,). I haven't actually SEEN the cysts of course, but the Internet research pics I've seen are what nightmares are made of. There are lots of kinds of cysts. And we all know kidneystones suck, but can I just say that I have an x-Ray of the one I passed last summer and it was waaaayyyyy bigger??!! Just saying. ;) ha
Anyway, the week from hell starts there, at the 5:00am that I must wake up and get pretty for the day's surprises. Yep. I'm gonna look pretty no matter what. ;)
The appointment is at 7:00am. So if you are going to pray, that would be a great time, and I'd be FOREVER grateful. Really. Seriously.
I'm assuming the doctor will want a CT of his own, even though we have the results on paper from the first. It wasn't done with contrast dye, so I'd imagine he'll want that & schedule that. Now is where I thank God and the Arkansas State Police & Medicare for their excellent insurance and our ability to pay our part. Thank you GOD, thank you Government.

The next steps are unknown. That's what we are so afraid of. We've heard stories of people losing kidneys and staying several days in hospitals, even with benign cysts. God forbid they are malignant.

We've heard that most surgeries are done laparoscopically and the healing time is cut in half.
But those were one-kidney surgeries. He has cysts on both kidneys. Will we have 2 surgeries? How much hospital time? These are questions my feeble mind has to remember to ask.

I could go on all day about how scared he is. How scared I am. All the "what ifs." but for now, we'll talk about Wednesday. Of course our whole life depends on Monday, but, best case scenario:

Wednesday, 5:00am... I'm up again. Trying to pull it together. We are the very first to see Dr. Clift at Springhill for JCs EGD. They'll be running a camera down his throat to his stomach to check on the ulcer that almost took his life in 2003. It bled so much that he lost 11 pints of blood and was transfused before they discovered it and fixed it. He was 30 minutes from making me a widow. Now they check him for bleeders every 6 months to a year, and stretch his poor little esophagus so he doesn't choke on his food every meal. Usually we get a good report and even a photo of the healed ulcer that nearly killed him. And I love Dr. Clift, he's freaking awesome. So, God willing, we will get a good report there and get a Subway and a nap. ;)

I'm gonna break up these two awful days by getting up at 4:00am Tuesday and get all dressed up and made up to go see my family. When I am stressed out, I go see my daddy and mom. They have a way about them that makes things seem ok when they're not. I don't know their secret, I guess it's a "parent" thing; some secret only parents know, but they never fail me. Not ever. And if I am really lucky (or blessed) I will get to see my brothers too. I count those days as REALLY special. That doesn't happen often, so those times are particularly cherished.

So bring it, Week From Hell. I'm not ready, but I will do my best. And that's pretty good, considering.

As for you guys, I'm asking you for prayers for a good outcome for JC. At least an acceptable one. I can't possibly live life without this man. He's my everything.

And after all this is over and done, bring on the boxes. It's time for a reevaluation and a throwing out of things that don't matter and aren't needed. This is my wake up call, and we want to wake up somewhere that we can stay forever. That's not here, so...

Til next time... I love you guys always!

There's a link on my FB page I want you to see.

This is my oldest son's school project YouTube video about fractions. Yes, I'm pimping it out. Because it's a) good, and b) funny as hell.

If he was my blood-related son, I'd say he has my sense of humor. The pulling out of the knife cracked me up. Greg's one of those people you love to be around, because he's CRAZY SMART, and funny.

Not too many people have that combination of attributes in their personalities, but I happen to be blessed to know a few people like that. It might be because I am really lucky, or it might be that, like my brothers and my daddy (and most of my friends, LOL) I just don't have much of a tolerance for dumb people. But I digress...

Anyway, I hope you will watch the video. I want him to have a lot of hits on it, and good ratings- mainly because he's my son, but also because I think he deserves a "thumbs up". ;)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What's new?

I feel guilty most times for feeling sorry for myself when so many are suffering in so many ways. Especially since most of my dilemmas are self inflicted. I know a lot of people with a lot of life altering problems right now; I pray for them constantly. And in spite of my little measly problems (compared to some of theirs), I really am blessed in so many ways. I have a wonderful family and a host of angels that I call my friends, some of which actually qualify as family in my eyes. I don't know where they hide their halos and wings, but I am positive that they have them somewhere. Maybe, like super heroes, they pull them out when necessary and do a quick change in the nearest telephone booth.
I just want all of you to know that I love you very much. I appreciate you standing by me, and your prayers and thoughts, as John and I go through this difficult time. I appreciate your listening to me whine and beg for prayers and thoughts and love. I love each and every one of you. I always will.
Love, forever and a day, Stacey Marie :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

How I came to marry a man older than my daddy -

I began work at Arkansas State Police in August of 1987. I wasn't really a secretary, starting out, I was in what they called The "Typing Pool". I was 17, the youngest they'd ever had there. I actually took a cut in pay until I turned 18, which was ok by me; it was the job that rescued me from the iron grip of my mother. Everyone there either "adopted" me with love or they hated me.

At the interview:
I was scared to death of messing up. I had failed high school typing, and now this was going to be my job. I had prayed the entire 11 miles from home to headquarters that I'd pass that damn typing test, then I failed. A sweet woman named Marvis saw the tears in my eyes and gave me another chance. I prayed again, this time harder. I took the test again. Passed it with flying colors with no mistakes. Believe me... God was there. You will see why in a minute.

After that, I interviewed with a high ranker behind closed doors, and passed in there, I found Marvis and thanked her- I had the job and it was because of her kindness.

I was incredibly timid and shy. I was overwhelmed. After a few months I summoned the courage to ask where the bathroom was. Previously, I just "held it" until I could go home for lunch.

When I finally made a friend, Jackie, she gave me a tour and an education of everyone's dirty secrets. She knew everything about everyone, everywhere, and everyone knew it, so no one, I mean no one, messed with Jackie. I don't know why she chose me to be her friend or "homie", but I was grateful! When the other girls made fun of me or my attire, she jumped right up their asses, no holds barred. She was my friend, advisor, navigator, confidante, and protector. She also introduced me to liquid lunch, and we had some really great lunches! If you know what I mean. ;)

I got promoted to Administration Company Secretary, got my own desk, shared the office with a bunch of undercovers, or plain clothes officers. I wasn't in Jackie's office space anymore but we still had lunch and breaks together, that is when we were actually working. We tended to finish our work super fast so we had lots of time to play.

My Captain one day interrupted a very important conversation between us to tell me that he needed me to go to that Colonel's office to answer phones while the secretary was lunching. I froze. I didn't know anybody's names, so how was I to know if they were there or not??? In fact, Jackie was more suited... She knew everyone! But no! My Captain said they requested me. Deep breath. I was so scared.

I gingerly walked into the Colonel's office and sat in the secretary's chair. A grumpy 50 year old man came out from his office, glasses down on his nose, looking really mean, and said to me, "I don't know who you are or where you came from, but you need to go back there because you are not wanted in here!"

I walked out, crying, straight to my Captain's office and said, "I don't know who that son-of-a-bitch is, but I am NOT going back in there.

A year or so later, they were making a State Police Annual so we all had to have our photos taken. I stood in line with Jackie, I was wearing my tightest white jeans and my coolest shirt, I had my hair and make up perfect, even to the standards of my own vanity. Jackie, social butterfly that she was, was working the line. It was October of 1991.

She came back to me laughing uncontrollably. She said, "Stace that old man wants to get with you." Yes, the one who made me cry, the mean one. She begged me to go out with him. I agreed but there was a condition - she had to go too. Our first date: me, Jackie, and John. Pizza Hut.

John and I were inseparable from then on. We still are. We married in April of 1992, Jackie was a bridesmaid. John was 51 and I was 21.

Now to Marvis, the sweet lady who gave me that job. In the 70's, she had done the same thing I did, really messed up her interview, and someone gave HER a second chance. It was John.

Doesn't God work in mysterious ways?

I never doubt or question that I am where I should be. God has always answered my prayers, He just sometimes takes the scenic route to our answers.

As for now... I am grateful for many things, but I am especially grateful for my old Captain Charlie Bolls (God rest his soul), Marvis, and of course my Jackie. And John, he is my own personal angel, whom I love more than life itself. I just NEVER want to work with or for him ;)

The National Anthem

I have to tell you that I cried once during the National Anthem. Most people hear it all the time, but they don't really listen to it. Some people, not as many as I would like to think, actually know all the words to it. I do. I have since I was a small child. But it wasn't until I was an adult that I really understood it, and the reason that we recite it so often as Americans.

Someone famous recently really messed up the lyrics when singing it in front of millions of people. I don't know if they even knew it at the time, but I am quite sure that they know it now. I don't know whether to be angry or feel sympathy in this matter.

I would like to challenge you to read the words of the National Anthem. Think about the writer's experiences that inspired the song, and put yourself in that moment. Then, think about our soldiers who have fought for our freedom, and the freedom of others, whether you agree with the circumstances of our wars or not.

The National Anthem is our National Anthem for a reason. Think about it.

As for Christina, I still think you are beautiful and smart and funny. I just wish you hadn't messed this one up.