Friday, February 29, 2008

Is it really worth it?

This week...

8400 calories eaten

300 minutes spent at aerobics class

120 minutes on an exercise bike

150 minutes on a treadmill

Pounds lost= ZERO

It really isn't fair, but I am sticking with it. I am not going to give up! I reported an 8 lb loss in January, well for February the total loss is a measly be it, March will be better (no Valentine's chocolate to eat).

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Spine of steel, a hole in one, and news I wasn't expecting

After 3 months at OHSU, I was finally sent home. It was rather early to be heading home, but I think all of the nurses and doctors really believed that I would heal better there. It was true. My Mom was in charge of getting me ready for the day (showers, combing what was left of my hair etc.), my Dad was in charge of moving me (lifting me up and supporting me as I walked from the chair to the bed etc.) and my sister was in charge of feeding me. I still had a feeding tube because I wasn't eating. I was taken off of a ventilator, but still had a traech in so that I could hook up to a nebulizer for a few hours a day.

Eventually, I got better. By Christmastime, I had my halo taken off. OUCH! Right after they took it off, my head collapsed to my chest and I couldn't lift it back up. My 5th vertebrae and my 7th vertebrae collapsed over the 6th vertebrae. I had neck surgery where they took bone from my hip and built up the 6th vertebrae and then put a steel/metal plate with screws around it to keep it solid.

End result: I can walk. I can drive. Yes, you can tell I have a stiff neck when I turn my head, but I'd take that over the other options any day! I do have pain, but it is very tolerable. I can take an Alieve and be okay. The only thing that I can't do because of this injury is ride on an old wooden roller coaster that doesn't have substantial neck support (ouch). And, laying down on my stomach is hard because I can't turn my head enough to breath.

In January, I got rid of my trach as well. It was kind of a funny feeling for awhile. I just had a hole in my throat for about 2 weeks before it actually closed shut. And, I kept it bandaged the whole time, because looking at it even made me sick to my stomach and I couldn't talk unless it was covered. When it closed shut it looked like a belly button on my throat, so I went to a plastic surgeon who made it look much better.

In April, I had my very first appointment with a pulmonologist that wasn't at OHSU. This is where I first heard that pregnancy wouldn't be an option for me. I had breathing test after breathing test, gave a history of all that had happened etc. At the end of the appointment, he asked if we had any questions. My mom asked "Will she be able to have children?" I looked at her and realized that she had been worrying about this for some time, but never really discussed it with me because she knew how heartbreaking it would be for me. The doctor, after looking at my breathing test results (30% use of my lungs) and seeing that I was on 3 liters of oxygen constantly, said "She will never be able to sustain a pregnancy." I was crying even before I left the room. I think I made that doctor feel really bad, though he put it as nicely as he could.

I think during this whole trial, I took it. I never complained about how hard things were or how much it hurt or even why did this have to happen to me. But, when that doctor said that I wouldn't be able to sustain a pregnancy, I almost lost all hope. My life had been spared and why? My whole huge goal in life was to have kids and lots of them. What now? Would I even be able to find a husband who would be okay with this?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ahhh...I missed blogging while I was away. Last week, Jeff went on a business trip to New York (rough line of work, I know). While he was there he had the opportunity to visit some church history sites. He has some pretty cool pictures (taken by the talented Ray) that I will have him post as soon as he has time. Jeff has been gone 3 weeks in a row and we are so happy that this busy month is over. He only has 2 more trips, one in March and one in April, and the busy season will be over. While he was away this past week, I took the girls to visit my parents. It was a very enjoyable trip and I even lost 3 1/2 pounds while I was there. Of course they fed me! My Dad is an amazing cook who creates the BEST healthy recipes.

Marley, Kamryn, Sailor and London

Baby Kienzli, she should be a toddler now but she is just too petite for that title!

Grandma with Baby Emree, what a cutie!

And finally, we bought Jeff a new toy tonight...a Blackberry Curve.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The things they say

Some are funny, some are profound, most just make me smile...

  • "No, I'm going to be a Gogger." Said after London bandaged my toes and fingers up with tape so I asked her if she was going to grow up to be a nurse. Gogger=Doctor
  • "They look like they're having fun. I wish I was with them." Kamryn said after watching the Sound of Music. I mentioned it to her that I dress her and London in matching outfits sometimes and we skip together, but she didn't think it was the same.
  • "Friends don't laugh at people." London told Kamryn after she was teasing her.
  • "But, I'm not laughing!" London said something funny while we were driving and we all started laughing and I said something to the affect of we're not laughing at you, we're laughing with you.
  • "He's my favorite prophet." Kamryn said with tears in her eyes as Jeff told her that we were going to watch the prophet's funeral.
  • "Mom, I used to like to play and watch cartoons, but now I like to sing." Kamryn stated after a Tavaci class and the "but now I like to sing" was said in a sing-song cute!
  • "Me don't like that boy, me like the skinny boy." London said after watching Lilo and Stitch. She has been quite sensitive to movies lately, a lot like me. She hates when characters are mean to other characters and she gets upset about it. Not only that, but she cries over movies already. Jeff put in Charlotte's Web last night and I was like why did you pick that one. A few minutes later she came in upset because wilbur was sad. I was traumatized when I was a little girl after I watched Gorillas of the Mist. I've never cried so hard in my life and I still get teary eyed thinking about that movie.
  • "I saw a girl in McDonald's that said she was from America, maybe I'll see her sometime." I had a quick Geography lesson with Kamryn after that comment.
  • And finally, not really a quote, but a note I received from Kamryn after making cinnamon french toast with spicy cider syrup for said "Dag Yoo." That cracks me up. She was meaning to write "Thank You" and her teacher tells her that you write it like you hear it and at this point in kindergarten they don't worry too much about spelling, just getting the vowels in there and practicing writing. She is so cute.

Friday, February 15, 2008

My Valentine's

Valentine's day is supposed to be about romantic love, but this year we really focused on having fun as a family (not to mention, Jeff was on a business trip on Valentine's day anyway).

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tiger stripes, bagging and a ventilator named Jen

I was just given an emergency tracheotomy and it was no fun. Though they started giving me my drug of choice, Versaid. I love this drug and if I wasn't a good member of the church, I'd worry that my addiction to it in the hospital would have continued. Versaid makes you forget all of the pain.

I was on one ventilator after another. They kept breaking and weren't doing that great of a job for me anyway. I don't remember any of this because I was in a coma. It shouldn't have been possible, but I got worse. This time, I actually died. We obtained all of my medical records after the fact. It actually recorded that I was resuscitated 22 times in one day. I wish we would have counted how many times I was resuscitated total...that number would have been cool. The being revived 22 times in one day really stood out to me not only because I think I remember this day, but because I had 22 chest tubes put in as well. Chest tubes are long, semi hard tubes, inserted between ribs into your chest which drains blood, air and fluid and allows your lungs to fully expand. They are painful. I had a few put in and taken out after I was awake from my coma. Ouch!

On a side note: My family teases me when I wake up in the morning because I have lines on my cheeks where my oxygen canula was squished to my face while I sleep. They call them my tiger stripes. Little do they know though because I have scars that resemble stripes under my arms from the chest tubes. :)

Moving on...I am sorry I am draggin this out so much. I just have little stories that I have never recorded in my journal and eventually I'd like to print out my whole blog as a journal. Anyway, one particular day during the hardest of times, OHSU went on strike. Nurses and Doctors were scarce during this time. The nurses who had stayed worked extra hard and long to cover everyone's shifts. My ventilator ended up breaking and a new one was being shipped in from Florida. My mom stepped in and ended up bagging me the whole day. Bagging is hard to explain. It is this plastic bubble type thing that was placed over my trach and she would manually squeeze it to help me breath. It was a tedious task and she rarely had breaks. She did this for nearly 24 hours until the strike was settled and finally new nurses were able to relieve her. My mom is AWESOME!

The doctors had a meeting with my parents and basically told them that I couldn't continue on like this, that I had "backed myself into a corner and that I wasn't coming out". Weird analogy, but it was true. They asked my parents permission if they could assign the school to my case. My family was desperate and agreed. OHSU (Oregon Health and Science University) was assigned to me. If you've ever seen House (the television show), I imagine it was a lot like this. Everything that students suggested had been done and didn't work. Finally, a physical therapist of all people, came up with the inovative idea of putting me on an Infant Oscillating Machine. It is basically a ventilator made for pre-mature babies that weighed 8 lbs or less. It is a "violent" machine. It punches air into your lungs 3 times and then pulls the air out. This machine basically would do the breathing for me. My parents had a huge decision to make. This was our last option, so they basically had to agree to do it. But, this machine had never been used on anyone weighing more than 8-10 pounds and since it was so violent that it shook the bed, they were nervous it would damage my spinal cord even more. They fitted and placed a halo on before they hooked me up to the Oscillating Marchine. The halo is basically a hard steal halo type contraption that surrounded my head and was held on with 4 screws that were screwed into my skull. This halo was attached to steal rods that are attached to a wool and plastic vest. It was sturdy, itchy and neck wasn't moving in that thing!

The Infant Oscillating Machine (which was later named "Jen") worked and was the "physical" reason I lived. We all know that through much fasting and prayer from family, friends and even my home ward is the true reason I survived. It was the simple faith of people like Jodie Huntsman who was only 8 years old and fasted her first fast for me, people like my mom, dad and my sister who stayed by my side the whole 3 months in the hospital and 1 1/2 years of recovery, people like nurses and doctors that share the same religion as us volunteering to help with priesthood blessings, people like my brother that chose to continue to serve Him so that He would bless me, in the end, Heavenly Father knew that I still had a purpose to fulfill here on earth and he blessed me through others. My life had been saved. After all the obstacles that were placed before me, every possible option to take my life away had failed. I was alive and I have a purpose to fulfill here on earth.

More to come soon...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Don't aspire to aspiration

I can't believe I am actually posting this close up picture. Just thought you'd like to see my battle wounds. The scar on my eye isn't nearly as bad as it was. Luckily, I had a great plastic surgeon, who noticed the scar as he was working on my trach hole (yuck, i know) and asked me if I'd like anything done with it. I politely said "no thanks", but he proceeded to tell me that he could almost make it dissappear and it wouldn't cost me a dime. In that case, work your wonders. Though, whenever I smile, it looks like I have extra wrinkles in that eye.

Car Accident Part II

I was brought to the Tri-cities hospital (not sure of the name) in Washington. My spleen had ruptured and it was the first injury that needed immediate attention, so I went to surgery to have my spleen removed. During surgery, my parents and were called in and they traveled the hour and a half to the hospital. All that they knew was that I was hurt worse than Matt. I can't imagine what they were going through at that moment.

Though we've all read through my medical charts, we are still unsure as to whether I aspirated on the operating table, or immediately afterwards. I guess anesthesia makes me nauseous and I couln't hold down that Taco Bell we'd just ate. I vomitted and inhaled it into my lungs.

Other injuries included 5 broken ribs, punctured and collapsed lungs and all 7 broken vertebra in my c-spine (neck). They had bandaged me all up, hooked me up to traction (a weird weight device that held my head/neck still) and sent my parents in to see me. I think they were slightly unprepared to see me in that condition. They later told me that my neck had swollen so much that it was thicker than my head, if that makes any sense at all. I don't remember seeing my family, but they said that I was awake and alert. I had a tube down my throat, so I couldn't speak, but I wrote my family notes on a piece of paper. I wrote "Is Chris okay?" "I love you guys" and "I'm sorry."

After a day or so at the hospital, I got worse. Almost to the point of death (that came later). My mom took charge and basically told them that they needed to life flight me to a bigger and better hospital. I was at that hospital for 5 days total. Finally, they life flighted me to OHSU in Portland, Oregon. My mom was with me the whole time, while my Dad and sister drove the 5 hours by themselves. My mom said during the life flight they were suctioning my lungs out and were getting bloody chunks of lung. Sorry to all of you with a weak stomach! Toward the end of the flight, I start to remember things. I am not sure if they ran out of drugs, or if I was so close to death that they didn't want to give me more. I remember being wheeled out of the helicopter, fast. People around me were yelling (not sure what). Then, a doctor, stabbed me in the neck and I felt blood everywhere. Then I was out again. At the time I didn't really know what was happening to me, for some weird reason I thought that I'd been shot.

I was giving an emergency tracheotomy and hooked up to a ventilator. For the next month, I was medically put into a coma. My family temperarily re-located in a travel trailer. My brother was serving his mission in Paraguay at the time and was given permission to go home to "say good-bye". He opted not to go home because he felt he would add extra blessing to us if he stayed. And, just a tiny side note...this was a difficult decision for my brother. He'd battled with this decision for a few days when his mission had a conference that Jeffrey R. Holland would be speaking at. He attended and afterwards, Elder Holland shook every missionaries hand. When he got to my brother he shook his hand, but the Elder who was next in line got anxious and started to speak to Elder Holland. While they were talking, he held my brothers hand. Finally, when they were done speaking, he looked at my brother and said "don't worry, your sister will be fine."

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Let's get down to the Nitty Gritty (said with my best Nacho Libre accent)

Our adoption information is out there now thanks to helpful friends and family. Actually, the other day I was shopping and an acquaintance/friend of mine stopped me to say "hi" and that she got our adoption information through an e-mail. It is funny how she found out in a round about way. I thought that since potential birth families will be reading my blog that it might be interesting/helpful to write about why we are adopting. I might need to do this in parts because it is a long story, so please bare with me.

Car Accident

I had just finished my first year of college in Provo, Utah and was at home in Oregon for the summer working. A few friends decided to go to a Mariners baseball game in Seattle, Washington on Saturday, August 27. I wanted to go with them since this was my last weekend before returning to college. I mentioned it to my Mom who was very against me going. She normally would let me do what I wanted, but was very adament about me not going to this game. I, being a selfish teenager, reminded her that I was 19 and could make decisions myself. I went to the game instead of listening to my mom, something that I still regret to this day :(

Since I don't remember the baseball game, we're just going to fast forward a bit for the sake of time. (London's naps are becoming shorter as she gets older.)

About half way home, we stopped and ate dinner at Taco Bell and to this day I have a hard time eating there (you'll see why in a minute). I remember feeling like I really needed to call my mom. My parents had an #800 number, so it would be pretty easy to find a pay phone and call her up. I really felt like I needed to tell her sorry. But, I never did (so sad, i know). Instead, we started towards home again. I kept thinking I'd see her in an hour and a half and I will apologize then. It was around 10 p.m. at this time and I was getting sleepy. I laid down in the back seat and tried to sleep (no seat belt on...shame on me). Please understand, I wasn't this rebellious kid, seriously their was no seat belt law back then (1995) and if their was it wasn't as strict as it is today. Chris was driving with no seat belt and Matt was in the passenger seat with a seat belt on. We had two more friends following behind us in a different car. As I was trying to sleep, I would hear the radio get louder and louder and I'd feel cold air from Chris rolling down the window. These are all signs that he was getting tired, yet I said nothing to him. Though, to be fair to me, I wasn't thinking "hey, he's getting tired" I just remember these things happening after the fact.

I am not sure exactly what happened next. This part of the story has been re-told. Chris fell asleep at the wheel going about 85 mph and drove off the top of an overpass. We flew through the air and slammed into a dirt embankment on the other side. Our car then flipped over three times before landing on the road below. Our friends in the car behind us, immediately ran to get help. Then they went to help us. They saw Chris at the top of the dirt embankment and didn't even go check him because "you could tell he had no life left in him." He had been ejected on impact and died immediately.


This is hard for me to write. It brings back so many sad memories. Chris was a great kid and I miss him terribly.

Matt walked away from this crash with some bruises. Let this be a testimony of seat belts!!! I was in the back seat "thrashing around and screaming in pain" according to our friends. They said that I wouldn't hold still and that I was trying to get out of the car, so they were helping me get out so that I wouldn't hurt my self anymore. And, just to give your spine some tingles, it wasn't my friends that I remember as the ones who pulled me from the car (if you know what I mean). My face had been ripped up from the corner of my right eye to my nose. A huge chunk of skin was hanging and blood was everywhere. The ambulance came a short time later and the EMT's proceeded to cut off all of my clothes before putting me in the ambulance. Slightly embarrassing since my friends were there, but I am sure they did it somewhat modestly (at least I hope they did).

So, this is a long enough post for today, besides London woke up and wants to play. Stay tuned for part 2... It gets a lot worse before it gets better.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Isn't he cute?

Not the snowman, but Jeff. Nothing is as adorable as a Dad who plays with his children!

Saturday, February 2, 2008