Saturday, June 30, 2012

San Antonio

There are a few cities that I think of as my favorites. Chicago, Savannah, and Ketchum rank high on my list. But by far my favorite is San Antonio, Texas. I had the pleasure of visiting here this week. Of course, I love the River Walk, and Tower of the Americas, and Alamo. But I love this city for so much more. The parks have so much space and fun areas to explore. There are absolutely delicious restaurants that are not in any  magazine. I love the smell of the the ocean in the mornings and the constant breeze. And I love, love, love the mix of German, traditional Texan, and Hispanic cultures. My friend, Megan, and I both feel that to really love this city, one must either have an extended stay or live here.
It was here that I first told about being sexually abused by a neighbor. I had to get through numerous conversations with prosecutors, really intense therapy, phone calls from people both supportive and not supportive and when I had to testify, I flew back to Utah while counting the minutes until I could return.
Through it all my family rallied around me and cared for me very gently and sweetly while showing their fierce loyalty. My ward took me under their wing and let me know they were right with me. And my younger brother's friends became like my own brothers and I have never felt so protected.
This is a city of healing and because my emotions were so raw when I lived here, it was able to imprint itself on me in a way that may only happen once in a lifetime. It is MY city.

They hate when I ask if there is a basement so you can bet I always ask!!

My old house. I took this picture from inside the car and then Robert sped off. Yep, we are stalkers.

Finally, an LDS Temple here.

The fountains in which  my "brothers" and I would play. Theres now a sign posted prohibiting wading. I like to think we had something to do with that.

My favorite sign ever. It made me laugh right out loud.

My hotel. Thanks, Roberts company!

Saturday, June 23, 2012


When I was in Rehab at the U, my Occupational Therapist (OT) was Rachel. I felt like she just sort of "got" me. I knew she was serious and would really push me but she had a certain softness about her and I felt that she actually cared about me.

I saw Rachel twice a day and our session every morning was working on activities of daily living (ADL's). This meant she was one of the first faces I saw every morning and it was way better than my alarm buzzer. We worked on "bridging" to get my pants on and sitting up to put on  my shirt. This was quite funny because I would often just fall over from a sitting position, and just be lying on my bed again. When I finally got the trunk control to be able to sit up, she helped me learn to shower on a chair using the hand held nozzle. I remember the first time I tried this solo, I accidentally turned the nozzle and squirted her. She was dripping wet. As bad as I felt, I still laugh about that, even now.

Once, I was doing the arm bike and it faced a boring old wall.  So she sat by me and read me fun/trashy magazines (People and US Weekly) the whole time.

Another time when I just couldn't take another minute of therapy, she wheeled me outside and told me stories about a recent vacation. One story in particular should NEVER be repeated but I still burst right out laughing when something reminds me of it.

She was always with us on out "shopping" trips and she was a bad influence on me! She had cute taste and together we would pick out too much.

She did things like having me scrap book or paint my nails (comical) and other things that didn't seem so much like therapy. At a time when my whole identity was "patient" she seemed to really see ME. I still love her for that.

When I was in the ICU the last time, she was one of the 3 therapists who came to see me and brought with them smiles and happiness to the boring and beepy ICU.

A while after I had left the hospital, she was mistakenly told that I had died. She was upset and crying until the mistake was corrected. It may sound terrible, but this made me feel really good. I never want anyone to be sad! But it illustrates her sweetness and how close we had become.

This post makes her look nearly perfect, and from what I have seen, she is. Short of a tri state killing spree, she can do no wrong in  my eyes. She is one of the wonderful people who helped make a sad, scary, and hard time, a little less so.

Thanks, Rach!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Don't get me wrong. I love shopping. Grocery shopping usually really makes me happy. Seriously. But today Jain and I went by ourselves. It only took 45 minutes but by the end I was so physically exhausted that I was just trying to keep moving my legs and answering Jains running commentary with half hearted sounds instead of real words. Loading the groceries in the car and buckling the car seat required superhuman strength. I climbed into my seat, turned on the air conditioner, and just sat still for a few minutes to dry the sweat and catch my breath.

I waited a few minutes until I felt better and then said a prayer that I would be safe and those around me would be safe. Of course, driving home I felt great, laughing with Jain and even planning to have dinner ready for the whole family before swimming lessons.

Then I got home. It must have slipped my mind that I can't carry in a lot of groceries. I had to make 6 trips from the car, up 10 steps, and to the counter that had suddenly moved a loooong way from the door. Once I had put away the groceries, I grabbed a drink and sat on the deck while I pretended to watch Jain blow bubbles. Really I just stared blankly, too tired to pay attention.

I really don't like to complain,  but today...well...sucked!!  The stroke effects much more than my smile or the way I walk. It's a struggle every single day. There doesn't seem to be a minute go by that I don't have some reminder.

This is  my life, the way it will most likely always be. I should get used to it, right? Well I have. Sort of. It has become normal but I don't think I will ever really get used to it.

But on the other hand, my life rocks! I have friends and family whom I love dearly, 3 wonderful children whom I get enjoy and laugh with every day, and a husband with whomI fall more and more in love with every day, and shares my love of watching M*A*S*H* and eating cookies and milk.

Yes, the stroke took away a lot, but it seems like a very small price to pay for the happiness I have. And I know this is only temporary. In heaven I plan to run to greet people, dance with my husband, and smile a huge smile at everyone!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Happy Fathers Day

I know this is a day late but we were really busy yesterday. :)
Happy Fathers Day to all the grreat dads I know. I especially want to thank my dad who taught and loved me so well. I miss you. And Roberts dad for raising such a good man and being such a wonderful dad to me and papa to my kids.Wherre would we be without you?!
And mostly, thank you to Robert who made everything that is worth it, possible. I sure love you!!

Friday, June 15, 2012

No More Dignity

I have always been very reserved about my body or personal space. It probably stems from being sexually abused by our neighbor. I was never a hugger, was very modest (after the abuse stopped), and especially after I was married, I had an unspoken guideline to never be alone with a man or let him touch me, even a friendly pat on the shoulder. This made visits to my doctor for my pregnancies a little difficult, but whatever.

Then I had the stroke.

The first morning Robert called our friends, the Stallings, and they rushed over. I was in  my not-so-modest pajamas. Then the paramedics came in and saw me the same way. I don't much remember the hospital but somebody changed me.

In the ICU, I was catheterized, and had sponge baths. When I got to Neuro Acute, I still had the catheter but had to use the bed pan for the other. The sponge baths continued and when I finally got a real shower, I couldn't even move so two CNA's did the whole thing. Every nook and cranny.
In Rehab it only got worse. Some days Robert and my  mom showered me but most days, it was CNA's. They even had to shave my legs. They took out the catheter but my bladder muscles were not working so a few times a day I got the straight catheter. And it wasn't always a female doing it. I had a bed side commode and in a room with two other women there wasn't a lot of privacy. Eventually I got a private room but even then, I had to have help transferring to the commode and cleaning up after.
Every morning my occupational therapist, Rachel, would come in to my room and help me get dressed, and eventually re-learn to shower myself. She probably saw me naked more than she sees her partner.
When I got to my moms, it was a little better but still not ideal. My OT, Cindy, helped me in and out of the tub and my mom saw me in all states of being.

My outpatient PT was Tim. He often had assistants but often it was just the two of us. We went all over outside and with all the equipment, and falling, there was just no modesty. We once talked about that and I told him that to me, he wasn't a real person, and only existed when I was there. A bit like a school teacher. He laughed and said that, strangely, that made sense.

This all became so normal to me. It could have been really horrible for me. And now that I see it in writingit does seem very strange. But the people helping me not only acted like it was no big deal and just their job, but also treated me with respect and did everything they could to make it less uncomfortable for me. I wonder if they even realize how much they made a difference.

A while ago I was filming a show with Picabo Street. A guy was putting a microphone on me and was attempting to do it while touching me as little as possible, Picabo just laughed and said, "Oh, don't worry about touching her, she's been through therapy!"

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Ana Jain & Bentley
Bentley J is my cousin's little girl, born while I was still in the hospital. She has me wrapped around her little finger. When we see each other, she is quick with hugs and often just sits on my lap and talks with me. Thankfully, she is only 3 months younger than Jain so I know a lot of her likes and have no trouble getting her to open up.

She is very curious about my owies. She likes to touch my face and examine my trach and numerous leg scars. It is no secret that I look different but that isn't a bad thing.  Quite the contrary. She probably wouldn't even notice me if I were not interesting. I love that she is so open and doesn't seem to have a judgemental bone in her body.

Her name is Bentley J. Guess what the J stands for??  I love, love, love that she is named after me! It was one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever had. I often get emotional when I think of the honor. Thank you, Lindsey and Brady.

I love you, Bentley!

On a different note, I took six kids roller skating. Alone. Yep, I'm crazy.  They were really funny and I actually enjoyed it. Ana Jain was riding around the rink on her scooter and there was music playing overhead. Every few minutes she would stop, step down, and dance her little heart out. Then she would hop back on her scooter and ride away like nothing had happened.

Peace, Aleq

 Notice that Jaxon and Sam are in regular clothes but Tommy, as always, has on pajamas.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I have had wonderful therapists through this whole ordeal. I never want to forget them. I can't do a full post about everyone with whom I worked, but there are a few main people I want to write about. This is the first post but certainly not the last.

Shortly after arriving in Rehab I met Libby. I remember thinking that she was somebody I could be friends with "on the outside" and I took an immediate liking to her. I still like her even though she tortured me every time she saw me:) I had physical therapy twice a day so I saw her often. Early on she started coming to my room to help me transfer from my bed to the wheelchair, and take me down to the gym. Each time I secretly hoped that she would forget or be too busy or something would happen to keep her from doing therapy just once. Sadly and happily she always came. On the many times when I didn't want a thing to do with therapy, she would have me at least go into the day room and do a small session there.

My trach was a constant problem for me and yucky stuff would come out at the most inconvenient times but she never acted grossed out and even commented once that we were close enough that she could just wipe it away.

She pushed and pushed me and was my biggest cheerleader. She often had an aide push my chair behind me and she would hold my gait belt while I very slowly attempted to use the walker. We would go half way, maybe 70 feet, and I would have to stop and sit down before walking the rest of the way.  During our rests, she would chat with the aide or my mom (my constant companion, bless her) and include me in the conversation even though she knew no sign language and I was mute. Somehow she just knew what I needed her to know.  In fact, I needed frequent breaks in whatever I was doing so chatting became just as much part of therapy as the physical work.

My recreational therapist occasionally planned outings to exotic places like the gift shop or the book store. These trips probably could have been simpler, but some of the time, we found ways to include my PT and OT in the trips so all 5 of us girls (Libby, Rachel, Catherine, mom and me) would get to go "shopping" together. 

It probably meant almost nothing to her but one thing she did made a huge impression on me. When I was in IMCU for 3 weeks, I developed a muscle contracture that made my left foot point down like a barbie. She did everything in her power to stretch that muscle but nothing seemed to be working and walking was out of the question. But Libby is creative! She made a wedge for my shoe out of layers and layers of cardboard. This leveled out my foot so my therapy could continue. She didn't have to do it, it wasn't her job.  And she made it in her own time, not even getting paid. That showed true dedication and commitment to my healing.

Lib even bought me Burts Bees lip stuff for my very chapped lips and we made sure I always had it with me.

She always wore fun socks. Some days there seemed to be nothing fun or humorous but when I saw her socks, it always made me smile. When I eventually did get to go home, she gave me a wonderful gift. Socks!

She became a very important part of my healing. The actual therapy was great, but what I will always remember is how she made me feel. I was not just another patient but a person and a friend. She will always have a special place in my heart.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My Critters

This is a very hard thing for me to write because I don't even like to admit this stuff to myself, let alone put it in writing. However, I doubt that I am alone in feeling this way. Also, my feelings now could not be more different and I feel the need to show the way I was blessed to make the changes that now bring me such happiness.

Right before my stroke was a really fun time with my kids. Aleq was my little pal and we loved just hanging out together. On the 28th we had decorated our Christmas tree together and he was my angel. Tommy was in my favorite stage. Every day he was learning more and talking or signing new and often funny words and I loved every minute of being with him. And I was thoroughly enjoying being a new mommy again. I loved the cute and tiny girl outfits and decorating my girl.  I loved these kids fiercely. I was truly happy to be a mom and I knew this is what I was born to do.

On the morning of the 29th I was rushed to the hospital. I have stated previously that I have very few memories of that day but I remember someone telling Robert that it could be a couple of different things and that it may take up to two weeks before I could go home. I remember thinking, "I can't be away from my kids for that long!"

From there it's a little fuzzy. It could have been hours or days that I was sedated but upon waking up, I just couldn't think of my kids. I couldn't. People kept telling me they were fine and what arrangements were being made for them but I didn't even want to think about them.  If I did, I was afraid it would be too painful for me to bear.  I knew that Jain would need to be fed so I asked the nurses to pump milk from me. But even that was just logistical and not out of any motherly feelings.  In fact, when it dawned on me that this was long term, aside from the physical pain of stopping, I was relieved that I wouldn't have to pump  anymore.

At the time I was concentrating on breathing (literally) and small tasks such as moving my toes.  Then there was the almost constant and real fear of another stroke.  And of course all the emergencies that seemed to be a part of every new day. I don't even remember even noticing that no kids were allowed in the ICU.

When I was moved to Neuro Acute, the kids could come and see me.  However, I didn't necessarily want to see them.  The feelings, wants, and needs that mothers have, had to be turned off or the emotions would have just been unbearable. In order to survive, I had to resist even thinking about my children.

In Rehab it was even harder for me. Every day I had to work from sun up to sun down (sometimes not even quite sun up) and at lunch (not for me-tube feeds were at night) and at night I was so exhausted that I hated to even move to be catheterised. My whole room was plastered in pictures of my kids and I was proud to show them off to everybody but it was as if I were their aunt and not their mom. When they came for visits, they usually talked and played with my mom, the nurses or therapists, and I would talk  to them briefly before exhaustion would get the best of me. I was always secretly relieved to see them go.

At my moms, I saw them nearly every day. Wendy lives really close to my mom so she would bring Jain over all the time. But again, it was as if she were not mine. She was cute and I liked playing with her but when she cried or needed to be changed, she went back to her mom, Wendy. The boys were no different. They would come in and say hello, and then run off to play. I remember once Tommy got hurt so Robert had to take him to get stitches and left Aleq with me for a bit. I thought, "what do I do with him? Maybe T.V.?"

Looking back, I think it was almost a survival instinct. I had to work really hard just to get through the day, and sometimes just staying alive was all I could manage. But I think the "mom" emotions were always there. I just had to put them in a box in my mind, and put them away for a bit in order to do what I needed to do to get back to my life.

And when I did get back to them, it was better than ever! I could finally open my heart fully after too long. We all seemed to cherish one another more. Admittedly the transition with Ana Jain was hard. We didn't even know each other. I had to sit back and let her warm up to me.  But Heavenly Father was watching over us and taking the care of us that only He can give.  In any other situation, my physical and emotional absence would have seriously damaged all involved. But with us the tender feelings came back quickly and naturally. It's nothing short of a miracle.

And now? Every bit of me loves my critters!! Sometimes during homework, or watching or hearing them play, I am nearly overwhelmed with the love and happiness I feel. When we are watching a movie and I have all 3 snuggled up with me, there is just nothing better.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Goodbye Hospital

Please forgive yet another post about the past. I am trying to get my memories written down before I forget them forever.

I had been given a few tentative release dates from the hospital. They had all been cancelled due to pneumonia, sepsis, feeding tube problems, etc. My first one was early January but I was still there In March. I was given a target release date of March 17, 2008.  I held on to this idea with all my might and my therapists, nurses and other staff all cheered me on. On one of my daily visits from the Doctors, I casually remarked that they would have later rounds on Thursday because of their weekly meeting. Dr. Edgley laughed and said that if I knew their schedule, it was definitely time for me to go home! My wonderful therapists, Libby and Rachel, had done a home visit to my moms and my feeling was, if they say it's okay, it IS okay.  A  couple of days before my release, I got really sick and my heart rate was high and we were worried about pneumonia again. My dear nurse, Terrie, sat in my room nearly the whole night, just taking care of me and trying to keep me from, once again, heading to the ICU. Unfortunately I was worse by early morning and was transferred. My mom was sent there when she came and we both prayed and hoped that this wouldn't ruin my hopes of leaving. (On a side note--that day my therapists came to visit me in the ICU and even brought gifts. That memory still warms my heart and makes me smile.) I was only in the ICU for a while and was back in Rehab by that night. Everything was still a go!
The day finally came! Many hugs were given and tears shed. The people there had become like family. They had seen me at my most vulnerable, had given me care, love, and compassion, offered me encouragement, treated me like a friend, and laughed and cried with me. They taught me what true charity was. One CNA even fell onto my bed with me. I still laugh about that, Amy!
I was really excited to go home or rather, to my mom's house. I knew it was a huge step and I could have more freedom to go, do, and see people. But I was scared to death. The hospital was home. I was secure there. I knew that if something bad happened I would be taken care of. I was not at all sure I was ready for real life. More tears were shed out of fear.
Right before I left, Terrie gave me a snow globe music box that has the word hope in it. Around the bottom are various words of encouragement and the inscription reads, "Find the light in every day, Jodi."I still keep it in my front room where I can see it every day.
My mom left early and Robert got to be the one to actually take me away. It was so strange to see the world again. Just driving from Salt Lake to Riverdale was totally foreign to me.
When we finally pulled around the corner to my moms house, I couldn't believe it. Family and friends all crowded into the drive underneath a huge sign welcoming me home. People obviously had taken off or raced home from work and there were about 40 or 50 aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, nieces and nephews, and friends. I still can't believe they had come for me!
After greeting some but not all, I went inside where there was another sign on the mantle to welcome me home (my temporary home).
It had been a very long day and I was both emotionally and physically exhausted. All I did that evening was lie on my moms bed and watch T.V. and as soon as I could, I had my mom give me my sleeping pill.
In that home, with my saint mom, feeling my dad's strong presence, and surrounded by the love of family and friends, I was right where Heavenly Father wanted me.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Belly Buttons

Today, Jain again approched me, pulled up my shirt a little, and counted my belly buttons. Little does she know they are scars. Good grief!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Christmas etc.

I spent a few holidays in the hospital, and while I have good memories of them, they weren't the picture of happy family time. Wonder why!?

My first holiday was Christmas. I wouldn't allow any decorations. If I couldn't be home then I was going to ignore it and hope it ignored me. It didn't. First, my friend, Gillian, brought up a small tree that was way too cute to banish. Christmas Eve was really fun. Therapy, therapy, and more therapy. But I got a break for Christmas day. Family and friends made sure the day included visits, walks for them, rides for me, cards, and fun gifts.  I love the pictures of the kids done my sweet photographer friend. The gift from Robert was a different story. It was a camera that I had wanted for months and Robert and I had spent weeks choosing and we ordered it just days before my stroke. Annoyingly, my hands now shake so much that I have never even used the thing! Robert sure likes it, though :)

My anniversary is December 29. It was extremely romantic. Picture Robert and me squished together on my little bed, trying to avoid all my tubes, watching a movie (which I could barely see), and only a thin curtain seperating us from my sweet roommate, Dee. Talk about a recipe for romance!

New years eve was much the same as Christmas Eve with no break from therapy. I was exhausted and asleep by nine. My nurse did come by at midnight to give me a beautiful, plastic, 2008 necklace before I fell fast asleep again.

Other holidays were hardly noticed. I was transferred out of Rehab because my feeding tube had become dislodged, causing it's contents to spill all over inside of me. I had a severe infection which required numerous surgeries and a 3 week stay in the IMCU.

But I was back in Rehab by Valentines. Again, regular schedule of therapy fron 7:45 until 4:00ish. My sister-in-law, Lisa snuck in to decorate my room with a ton of hearts on which were written notes from my siblings. I loved it! That night Robert and I had another romantic evening. His big gift to me? I couldn't swallow so no treats, I didn't have any need for jewelry or clothes, we couldn't go out! Very cute socks with skulls wearing bows. Seriously, I couldn't love diamonds more. 

All in all my holidays were fun and memorable. I mean as fun as they could be in the hospital. Thanks to my family, friends, mom and Robert!

Monday, June 4, 2012

More Answers

As I have stated so often, I LOVE questions! I live with this every day so I forget details that I want to always remember. So, here is more Q and A.

Q.  How did your children do with the changes? Everything from not having you there, to looking different, to strength differences?
A.  Aleq took it the hardest by far. He awoke that first morning to flashing lights outside his window and raced down the hall to see me being carried out by two strangers and daddy speeding off behind us. The boys were only 5 and 2 and the confusion the unknown must have been really tough. We have wonderful friends who stayed with all my kids until my in-laws arrived. They then saw them rush out of the house when that same friend delivered the message that I was being life flighted. In the following days they  couldn't see me because kids are not allowed in the ICU. When they finally did see me, I was dressed different, looked different, just lay there, didn't talk, and there were wires, tubes, lights, and sounds that probably frightened them. They saw daddy only a few minutes every day, their brand new baby sister moved out,  and (thankfully) Papa and Naya, Robert's parents, moved in to our house. They were so sweet and loved my kids like no one else could but they weren't mom and dad. There were times when Aleq would just break down and cry and even told my brother that he just wanted things back the way they were.
We tried to make the rare hospital visits less scary with wheelchair rides, treats, visits to the gift shop, and even trips to the therapy gym where they were spoiled rotten by the saintly therapists. When I got to my moms, visits happened almost daily but they mostly ignored me and played with the house full of toys and often visiting cousins.
When I was able to spend a whole weekend at home, it was as if it were Christmas the whole time. We didn't even do much of anything but the happiness they showed was incredible!
But they showed remarkable resilience.They seem to have very few negative effects. Quite the opposite.  When Ana Jain came home, everybody had to adjust. She was totally confused. If you throw a rock from my mom's front door, you would probably be able to hit my sisters house so we were with Jain every day. Still, coming home was very hard for all involved.
I am convinced that all 3 of my kids were taken care of by our Heavenly Father. They all went through difficult times but they came through it with flying colors. They are more compassionate, appreciative of small things, responsible, and MY SWEET CRITTERS! That's not to say there isn't wildness or naughtiness in our home:)
As far as my looks and strength, Jain and Tommy never seemed to notice. Aleq did and at one point he and his friend, very seriously, decided that I look like Harvey Two Face. It's just not a big deal to them. I find that my reaction has a huge impact on how they view it all. We often laugh at things and our favorite word is strokey.  "I cant open that because my hands are too strokey. " "I'm feeling strokey so I need to sit."  " Mom, stop singing with that strokey voice." " Don't bug me, I'm strokey."  This last one is my personal favorite and I often use it whether or not it has to do with my stroke. Robert and the kids just roll their eyes and shake their heads and often tell me to "come off it, Mama!"

Q.  If you had a suction machine when you went home but didn't have the trach...did your mom suction through your mouth and nose? 
A.  I could not swallow, not even my own saliva, for many, many months. So I used the suction machine like a dentist would, to clear out my mouth.

Q.  How was your peg tube different than a G-tube? How long did you have it?
A.  Really no difference. A Peg tube is just the generic term for all feeding tubes. I had a G-tube for quite a while, until my stomach stopped working, then I got a JG-tube. Explanation. One more blessing was that my stomach started working again!!
About 9ish months after my stroke, I had worked long and hard on  my swallow and I was finally told by my speech therapist that I could try small bits. My first treat? 1/2 of  a McDonald's fry. It only took me about 1/2 hour for that huge meal. It took me almost another year to be able to swallow medication and be able to get enough calories orally.  I kept the tube for months after tat just to be absolutely sure I didn't need it.

Once on one of my numerous trips to the ER, some doctors were talking right outside of my room. Sadly, I understood EVERY WORD! Gotta love the unsolicited education.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Baby Aubrie

Today I was lucky enough to go see the blessing of my niece. It was beautiful. She was beautiful. I always feel lucky to see babies be blessed but her parents and so many others waited so long for her to finally get here that today was extra special. As soon as the Sacrament was finished, her mom, Shanae, let me hold her for the rest of the meeting. I loved it! I felt that familiar weight as I cradled her. Aleq and I giggled at the sounds she made in her sleep and Tommy was just in awe that "it" was moving.

Jain was not blessed in our church building but in my moms home with family and close friends present. I had to have Wendy help me dress her and holding her unassisted was out of the question.  But the joy I felt that day could not have been greater.  I felt truly blessed to be alive, to have my little family all together, and to see my wonderful husband bless our miracle. It was small and personal and I loved every minute of that day!

Last night Jain spent the night at Wendy's and came to Aubries blessing with their family. Just before the meeting started, Jain ran over to where we were sitting to say hello and show us her lovely new outfit (Wendy spoils her a tiny bit). She then ran right back to be with Wendy's fam. When her 2nd family is around, we quickly fall in importance on her list. This doesn't bother me in the least. I know she loves us with all her heart. I feel so happy that she has another family who she loves, and knows they love her. Plus they have a hot tub so we could never compete!!

I got to hold baby Aubrie...

But this is my all time favorite girl!!

 Why do LDS folks bless babies? Go here.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Dear Tessie,

Dear Tessie,

I don't mind your questions at all! In fact, I like having people ask questions, especially children. A few weeks ago I was visiting teaching and the lady had her kids there. Her little boy whispered to her, "Mommy, what's wrong with her face?" The mom knows but said, "I don't know. Why don't you ask her?" I LOVED this! It allowed him to talk directly to me and to hear my explanation. We laughed together at how silly I look and I let him touch my face. He knows now that I may look different but that doesn't make me scary. And I'm so thankful to his mom for not being embarrassed and instead used this to teach her son.
Also, those of us going through these hardships have to stick together!
Here are my answers:
Q. If you were fine mentally to go to your home, why did you have to stay with your mom for so long?  A. I had all my mental faculties but I had been a patient for so long that every bit of "grown up Jodi" was gone. One therapist calls it learned helplessness. My whole identity of wife, mom, neighbor, adult, had been stripped away as I was at others mercy and had to rely on them for everything. Yes, everything. Getting "me" back was a very gradual thing.  I remember when I first spent a full day alone with my boys I felt like a little girl playing house. When I finally moved home and my in laws moved out, and it was just our family, the process had only started and is honestly still going on. Having my mom leave on her mission was a giant push in the right direction. I am sure I have been blessed by her service.

Q.   Where were you at in all aspects when you were released from the hospital or rehab or wherever you were last at? 
A. I was in an in house rehab center at the University of Utah. After too long in the ICU and then Neuro Accute, I was wheeled down to the rehab wing. While there, my peg tube came out inside my abdomen, causing sepsis and three additional surgeries. My stomach stopped working at all so I had an NG tube for a while. All of this required a three week stay in the IMCU. After I returned to Rehab, I was there for a long time, monitored closely, but three days before my release date, I aspirated after throwing up and landed back in the ICU. I went home but was VERY fragile. I had a portable suction machine (Don't you love their noise?), peg tube, my eye was still damaged so I had a patch, my voice was uncontrollable and monotone, I was still too weak to move a lot on my own, couldn't even attempt standing, and even a little cold was life threatening. After a few months I had surgery on a foot contracture. He put a "halo" contraption on my leg that had bars that hooked into three points of my bone and had smaller pins going into muscles all over my leg and foot. You should see the scars! Every day my mom had to turn each pin according to a schedule to slowly stretch my leg. It was very painful so in addition to the many many meds she was already managing, she had to administer high doses of oxicodone every few hours. I was totally non weight bearing for 3 months for that. So while I was well enough to leave the hospital, I needed around the clock care. I was still faaar from going home. :(

Q. How long did you have the trach for? At what point were you able to get a speaking valve to talk with the trach?
A. I got the trach just a couple of days after the stroke. It was a big, inflatable kind so I couldn't have a speaking valve. After a few weeks, I got it replaced (fun) with a smaller one and then I got a valve. That thing was super hard so I had to do only a few minutes more each day. I would often pull it off in my sleep. I hated it but it was just one of a million things I hated. About a week and a half before I was to be released, my therapists and Doctors had heard (or seen) enough of my complaints and finally put in a trach button. This was a really small button that kept the opening for a real trach and allow me to try out breathing on my own for a few days before doing anything permanent. That very night I coughed and it came out but none of us caught on until my trach cleaning. By then the hole had already started to close and my Doc just smiled and said to leave it. HOORAY! So I was trach free before leaving the U.

Please feel free to ask away! Others may be private about this, but I want to share it with everyone. The Lord has chosen me to show what he can do and I feel a responsibility to share!!

Friday, June 1, 2012


What a fun mom! Not me. My friend, Monica, had an end of school party for about 1000 kids. She rented a huge waterslide, had a bubble machine, cotton candy, water balloons, water guns, a HUGE pinata, hot dogs, treats, and water fights that were serious business. My critters had a blast!

He says it's a water whip
Keeping his brother warm. Sweet boy.
Like I said, camera shy.
Bribed her to show how good the cookie was.
Swing, Sito!

Go Sito!

That pinata is bigger than she is!
Playing in the bubbles.

 The whole day my sweets kept checking on me, bringing me water, holding my hand while I walked, and carrying everything, even if it was only a napkin. In a way I wish they didn't have to, but I love that they take care of me!!