Sunday, December 30, 2012


The Holidays are nearly over. I am always a little sad to see them go because I love Christmas so much. But every year I resolve to keep the spirit of Christmas with me all year. That and the extra candy weight.
Heaven knows that the last couple of months have been really lame around here. Three major surgeries, Robert gone for a week and all of us have been really, really sick. Super fun. But, yet again, we have been taken care of.
Our ward has been astounding. We have had meals brought in, our house cleaned, our kids taken to play and just the overall sense of charity. On Christmas Eve, the young Women stopped over and, much like a reverse tornado, blew through the house making it sparkle and smell so good. They wrapped a few presents and even disinfected light switches and door knobs. Wow.
Two Sundays ago we needed a prescription picked up but both Robert and I were too sick to go, so Robert texted his dad who left church and picked it up for us. He dropped off the prescription, got a look at us, and went back to the church to get Roberts mom. They came over, brought soup, cleaned up the dishes and took our kids with them to their house. What a blessing they are.
But now we are on the mend. I wish I could say I was back to cooking dinners and cleaning. But I must be honest and admit that our whole family has been lazy this week. The table is a Lego workshop I have not even cared. The only person cleaning has been Jain who keeps her play room immaculate. She is just trying to make the rest of us feel bad.
Now to switch gears. Yesterday was my wedding anniversary. 13 years. It may not be so long in time, but in content...we have been married for 100 years! I still count down until he gets home from work and love his days off. Often he is downstairs with the boys while Jain and I are upstairs but just knowing that he is in the house makes me content. This morning in church, the speaker said something that reminded me of a line from the movie Toy Story. I laughed silently and turned to my side before I realized that he was in another ward. We just have so many little jokes and connections that I definitely feel it when he is not there. There have been sad times, especially the last few years, but we cling to each other and no one can make me laugh through the tears like he can. I love that man fiercely and he has my heart and soul. How did I ever get so lucky?!
But do not think he is always perfect. He sometimes sings and dances for me and he would never make it on Broadway. He chose my user name for Words With Friends and he chose Jodikat. ??? At times he says he is a bull and uses his head to push me onto the couch for snuggles. See? Not perfect or even normal.
I love you, Robert, and I feel blessed to be with you FOREVER!!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

She Is Back!!!

My mom is back from her mission! She has been gone for 18 long months. Of course it was made easier with many, many phone calls. Still, it was lame! But I really feel that we were both blessed for her service.
I have not written specifically about my mom because where would I even start? She has done so much for my family and me that I could never write everything. Seriously, I could write for days and not get it all. So, for now, I will at least write about  some of what she did for me in the hospital.
My dad had passed away on Christmas day of 2006. During the following 11 months she sold their home, took over the finances and built a smaller but still beautiful new home. The pain of losing my dad was still very fresh and raw but she was doing her best to keep going, probably counting the days until she and my dad are reunited.
When I had my stroke, her mama bear instinct kicked in and she spent all day, every day at the hospital, and made the hour + drive home every night.  At first we were all living from moment to moment so we didn't imagine how long my stay there would be. Within a few days, though, she decided that new arrangements needed to be made, so she left her brand new house to collect dust while she moved into the guest house by the hospital. Every single morning at 8 she would show up and stay until 5 ish when Robert would come. Keep in mind that I could not talk at all and could not even move. While I was in the ICU and then on Neuro Acute floor, she would sit next to my bed, learn the sign language alphabet, tell me stories about the outside world and read to me. We probably read every book ever sold at Deseret Book. She read for hours and hours every day. She was also an expert at bathing me, and other basic care. Lets just say no mother should ever do for a grown child the things she did for me.
When I moved to Rehab wing (5 years ago today) she was right along with me. Still, every day. She went to therapy right along with me and at times, pushed me harder than my own therapists did! When I had a small break between sessions, she would pull out the yummy smelling oil and massage my feet and legs. Ahhh. As it was around Christmas, many of my friends brought small decorations. I still use the decorations and they still bring tears to my good eye when I put them up. However, I wanted nothing to do with it that particular year. I did not want to be reminded of the time of year or what I was missing, so she would take every little gift out of my room and save it for later.
She got to be good friends with all my Therapists, Doctors, Nurses, CNA's, Psychologists, and every time we took a walk around the huge campus, she would be greeted by numerous people. It was like I was with a celebrity!
She did things for me like showers, suctioning my trach, cleaning incisions, etc.
Once in therapy, I bent over, and immediately got violently ill. Every time the nurses would put anything in my feeding tube I would be near tears and beg them to stop. Not even strong pain medication would help. My mom told the staff that she would NOT leave that night, and "slept" in the chair next to my room. The next morning, Dr. McLaughlin came in to check on me (a wonderful, wonderful guy) and she felt impressed to tell him that she thought my feeding tube had come out of place. He said she may just have figured it out and ordered an X ray. Sure enough, it was out. So they took me in for surgery, accidentally put the new one in my lung, took me in for another surgery where they made about a 4 inch incision, and then they had to do another procedure to place a tube in my back to drain out all the building infection from putting food and meds through my body where they should not be. Had she not paid attention to her promptings and we had waited even one more day before finding the problem...well it could have been terrible.
During all this, I spent about 3 weeks in IMCU, one step down from ICU. Talk about boring! Not a thing to do but watch talk shows and read books and chat. Chatting was really fun since I was finger spelling everything.
Every day the Physical Therapists would come by. Even in IMCU I still had to work. Once I totally embarrassed my poor mother when everybody was trying to get me to take a much dreaded walk. I turned to the PT and flipped her off. Now, I am not a swearing person, especially not in front of my mom, but my vigorous head shakes and pleading eyes just were not cutting it. My poor mom, I thought she would die right where she stood.
Another time in IMCU, the therapists wanted me to sit up in a chair for a while. Again I vigorously shook my head and kept signing no, no, no, to my mom. Nobody paid any attention and put me in the chair anyway. They then all left the room to visit with other victims patients. Only a few minutes went by before my blood pressure plummeted. I later learned that it was 14/40. I was crashing. My ever present mom ran out into the hall and yelled for help. There were suddenly so many people in the room, pushing so many buttons, putting things in nearly every tube sticking out of me, just chaos. If my mom was not there...
I finally returned to Rehab and again, she was there every day. After much too long, my Dr.s were ready to let me go. I was far from ready to go home, but there was nothing more they could do for me. I had not even thought this through and I guess I figured I would be able to walk out of the hospital and just pick up where I left off. Isn't denial great?
When the Dr. asked me where I would go after leaving, I just looked at him thinking, "Am I not going home?" My mom answered without even seeming to consider at all, "She can live with me."
So before I was released she had grab bars put up, ordered a shower bench, took off doors, rearranged furniture, made sure I had home health and rehab, learned how to take apart/put together my wheelchair, was trained on my medications and how to handle my feeding tube, and many, many other things.
When I left, I think the staff was more sad to see her go than they were to see me go! Whenever I talk to anyone from there, they always want updates on my mom. She is beloved by every person there. But she is my mom so I get to love her the most. And I do!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Eye Roll and Chuckle

My family has been funny lately. Okay, they are often funny, but the last few days they have been making me laugh even more.

Aleq:  I want to get a good education but they trap you in there for over 6 hours!

Tommy:  (apologetically) I chase girls and girls chase me, and I like it.

Ana Jain:  Momma, am I being good for goodness sake? 
                  The other day she lost her stuffed, pink, poodle. After looking for over an hour with  no             success, she suddenly lit up.  "I know how to find Poodle! I can smell his foot prints!" She then crawled all over the house sniffing the carpet. Sadly, it didn't work but she found it later. I have a feeling one of the boys knew where to look.
Robert:  I have felt for a long time that it was very cruel/darkly funny that invalid could also mean not valid. When Robert came home from back surgery, he started telling me that he was INvalid. He continues to use that every time he needs me to do something. Yep, he is going to Hell.

I sure love them.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

He is back!!!

I am paranoid and don't like to announce to everybody that Robert is gone. But he is home, finally, and I thought I needed to remember this past week and a half.
The first few days were uneventful. We watched Elf, watched it again, and again, had indoor picnics, and showered and got right back in pajamas. It was heavenly.
Church is impossible to do without Robert.  Too many people and obstacles to knock me down and the logistics of getting us all there and from class to class... Aleq was asked to pray in Primary so our wonderful neighbors, the Stallings, took him with their family.
Tuesday was a full day! My sweet visiting Teacher, Laura, brought lunch over and stayed to eat with me. I love that. Then she emptied and loaded the dishwasher and took bins down to the storage room for me. These might seem little to some but to me, they showed she actually cared and wanted to help.  She and her Visiting Teaching partner had made plans to come by on Thursday to clean my house. Bless them.
 Later, I took my in laws car (they went with Robert Arizona and took my car) over to the school to pick up the boys. I had to wait about 5 minutes so I turned off the engine. Once the kids were in, I turned the key. Nothing. I tried again. Nothing. I happened to glance over and Aleq quietly had his head bowed and arms folded in a prayer. Sweet boy.
I called my neighbor, Karen, (once again) for help. She had her son come to pick us up and then when her husband returned home, he took me over to jump start the car while her daughters came over to be with my kids. Karen drove my boys to school the next few days.  I love them!
While all of this was going on, my sister, Wendy, and 3 of her kids called to tell me they were on their way to clean my house. They quickly had the whole place clean and smelling of pine (mmmm) and then we all had dinner together. What could have been a really lame day ended up leaving me smiling.
I called Laura to tell her she was off the hook for Thursday, but she too good of a person to just let it go. She knew I was going grocery shopping and made sure she was at my door when I came home. She brought in the groceries and brought 2 dinners! She is the best cook so I love when she does that :)
My brother, Josh, called to check on me nearly every day and stopped by to take out the trash.
Robert needed this surgery. He really had very few options and our insurance would only cover this facility until the end of this month so it needed to be done. He was nervous about it but was possibly even more nervous about leaving. But he needn't have worried. Our Father in  Heaven was aware of our family and inspired those around me to take care of me. I am so thankful.
Roberts surgery was on his back, which has steadily been more and more painful. He is afraid of becoming addicted to pain killers (smart) so he tries to only use them when he can't stand the pain any longer. Lately that has been increasingly often so something had to be done. They were able to laser out some bone spurs and fix some nerves (not sure if they moved them, deadened parts or what) and hopefully that will help.
He finally got home last night to many hugs, snuggles, kisses, jumping, and cheering. And I was happy, too! We sure missed him! I know he does a lot for us but when he is gone it's more just "him" that we miss. I'm glad we are all under one roof again.