Monday, June 28, 2010


When I started this blog I anticipated it being a baby book of sorts for my children. There are so many little things they do and say that make up my days that trying to capture some for when my memory will inevitably fail seemed like a nice gift to give them, as well as Jess and I. Now, I am going to document something that is for me, and in a smaller way, them, to remember. Talyn will remember everything, as will Sylver, in the hazy way that children do and it will shape who they become, whether they are aware of it or not. Trinity will have fuzzy memories and Ari will never know a life where her mom was "normal"... although I become more convinced every single day that normal does not exist except in the minds of television writers and misled teenagers.
I decided in April, when God gifted us with health insurance after 4 long years without it to get my health in order while I could. I had been diagnosed with stage 1 Chronic Renal Failure when I was pregnant with Ari. Although I had exhibited symptoms with all of my pregnancies, with Ari they where severe. Every test that could be safely run during pregnancy was run with no definitive answers. This left no hope of a definitive cause or treatment without a kidney biopsy after the pregnancy. Fast forward two years, and I was finally able to follow up. I was left with a dilemma, though... pre-existing condition. In 2010 a person can still be denied treatment for a "pre-existing condition". My children, I hope that when you are reading this as adults, that sounds as inhumane as it actually is. So, I needed to be "diagnosed" in my new state and because no biopsy was ever done, I could do so with the assumption that the prior "diagnosis" was a pregnancy related condition. I pondered this problem, turned it over and over in my head and tried to come up with a plan. I handed it over to God, and asked, what should I do. He answered in a way I didn't expect. Weight Loss Surgery... wait, I said, that's a stretch... what does that have to do with kidney disease? Isn't that for people too lazy to diet and exercise? People too unhealthy to change themselves? Let me show you My Plan, He spoke to my heart. And He did. He showed me specialists, people, and circumstance that He planned perfectly, for me. The entire time, I doubted, I feared, I cowered, but I listened and followed. I watched in wonder as barriers, tests and constraints became nothing. I felt Him take my fear and replace it with hope. I learned through the process that my kidney disease had progressed to the point that I would need dialysis in the next decade, I learned my kidneys had begun depleting something in my system that caused my body to be unable to properly process my cholesterol, thus even with no other markers for heart disease my cholesterol was 317, and I learned that if I didn't do something drastic, soon and permanent my life was going to slowly decay in to an abyss of illness, fatigue, and eventually death. I learned that 2% of people who have 100lbs or more to lose are able to lose the weight and keep it off 5 years later. TWO percent...Those odds are sobering. No wonder the diet and exercise industry is so profitable!! I'm tough, I'm athletic, I'm smart... but the odds of me turning this around by myself where severely stacked against me. I expected, at some point, a doctor to say to me, well try diet and exercise one more time... but all I got from everyone, PCP, pulmonologist, cardiologist, nutritionist, nephrologist, was, "Please get this surgery, as soon as possible, because all we can do at this point is try to control the descent of your disease". I knew it was medically necessary when I obtained a copy of the nephrologist report to my PCP... I was shocked by what I read there and it is the only reason I could hold on with all my might, take a deep breath and just get through it. If I had gone looking for bariatric surgery out of vanity or laziness, the unbelievable fear going in would have turned me away before I got two steps in the door. This is not easy, this is not without risk, but it is what I have chosen and what I believe with all my heart that God chose for me.
That's how I arrived at last week. The week before my Gastric Bypass Surgery was scheduled. 
So, for two days before you go in for surgery you have to go on a clear, sugar free liquid diet. It was TORTURE. I couldn't stomach (ha ha!) chicken broth and I still can't. Jesse said when he came home the first night I was slurring my speech really badly, like I had been drinking. But no, because while a clear liquid, Vodka is actually NOT allowed (I asked, LOL). He ordered me the soup base from my favorite Chinese restaurant and it totally saved me. MUCH better. Still by Thursday I was weak, tired and CRANKY. Jess actually asked if he could stop and get something to eat on the way to the hospital- he got the look of death and quickly said, Sorry, hun.
The day of surgery, I had to be at the hospital at noon. My surgery was scheduled for 2pm. I got there 10 minutes late, cause, well, "It's Jennie time, everywhere, right?" I forgot I was tired, weak, and cranky and started pacing and chewing my nails. They gowned me up and took me back to start an IV... I am a very hard stick. By the time that was done they let Jesse come back. We held hands and talked and I remembered I hadn't called my mom. I called her and told her I loved her and no sooner than we had hung up and they said it was time to go. I wasn't sobbing, but I was crying. Leaking, really. The tears just wouldn't stop. I kept wondering if I was going to leave my family behind and would they be ok without me? In my heart of hearts I wanted to jump up and say, Nope, changed my mind, Let's go grab some lunch. God held me down. I wanted to get up SO BAD. They wheeled me down the hall and gave me something to relax me, which made me cry more (nice, thanks!). I was sitting in the hallway for a moment, by myself and I looked over to the left and there was a door that said "Cardiac Catheterization Unit" and the door in front of me said, "Bariatric Surgery Unit"... I looked at them several times, because I couldn't quite believe the irony... my dad has had heart surgery several times. God said "You can take that door now, or this door later, but trust me when I tell you MY Plan is better than yours".

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

They wheeled me through the door and still I cried. The nurses had me get on the surgery table, wiped my tears, gave me some more relaxation meds and then I thought, NO NO NO, I can't do this!! I have to get up NOW....
Then I woke up, to the most searing, unimaginable pain I have ever felt in my life. A pain so profound that I feel like it changed who I am on some very basic level. I can't think of it even now without feeling the cold fear that I might ever feel that again. I don't know if there was a "gap" between the anesthesia and the IV after surgery drugs, but from what I understand what happened to me isn't normal. I could hear myself screaming and crying and begging for my mother.... please help me Please. I could hear people rushing around me, but all I could feel was stab wounds and burning and agony and nausea like I have never felt. I felt the tears streaming down my face, but I couldn't see anything. I heard them telling me to breath, while I hyperventilated, I heard them telling me to just give the pain meds a chance to work and finally I felt someone lean in, put her hand on my forehead, whisper in a loving, calming voice, Honey, you have to stop, please, your breaking my heart. I calmed, moaned for my mom through the pain, thought "God what have I done? I can't take this back!!" Then I woke up in my room. Jess was there, I think, but I can't really remember. The first day was awful. A haze of pain, nausea, medication and sleep. I made myself get up several times and walk up the hallway back and forth while I dry heaved, because I knew it would make me heal faster. I had the nurses following me and offering me a wheelchair and I told them, No, please, I just have to work through this. I could walk further and further every time without dry heaving and it was such a victory. Jess couldn't visit until 9 pm on Friday, so I spent the day alone, fighting my battles, and I think, in hindsight, it was a good thing. I relied on myself and God and I was shown a strength I still don't think I have :) Izzy came and sat with me for awhile, brought me flowers and a balloon. We cried together, talked together and when she left she hugged me, gently!, and told me that I am the bravest soul she has ever known. Thank You, Iz. I wasn't feeling brave, just battered. 
Saturday, Dr. Wynn left it up to me whether I could go home or not. Because I had  such extreme nausea the day before I hadn't progressed at all on the diet they ask you to do to show you can tolerate and keep down food. I realized that might be a problem around 9 pm, so every two hours at night I got up, paced my room and drank two oz of water. When she came I showed her how much I was able to drink and she agreed I could go home at 6:30 a.m. I finally made it home around 10 ish. As I was being wheeled out I heard the nurses in one of the nurses stations talking about how they had just wheeled a girl up to the dialysis unit and that she would be gone for several hours.... wow, just wow. 

As we drove home, I cried. Yes, that's a lot of crying, but the surgery gives you some kind of hormonal surge thing that makes you a little more emotional than you might otherwise be. I cried for all the people who do this because they don't feel like they are good enough, I cried for all the people who do this, take the gamble and lose and I cried for the loss of my "normal". This is a totally new life, there is no turning back and if I screw this up I have No Where To Go. NONE. This is my one and only chance to turn this around. This is a gift and I am going to treat it as such every day for the rest of my life.

And hopefully, this will help me remember what I had to go through to get here.

Friday, June 11, 2010


I can't believe it's been so long since I posted! June already?!
I have said it so many times, but life just flies by when you have children growing like weeds right before your eyes. Speaking of weeds, they are completely out of control this year in my front garden. I re-mulched and the weeds laughed their way right through it :( Our strawberries, rosemary, roses, basil, lime and lemon balms, and lavender are all quite happy despite the unwelcome company!

We are surviving... treading water, really. Sometimes getting dunked under but God is always there to help us back up. Work comes in spurts for Jesse but there is always hope on the horizon. His ability to psychically work took a hit a couple weeks ago. He walked in to a spike on Uncle John's bike.....I mean, HARLEY (said with appropriate reverence, LOL) and literally speared his knee to the bone. A Dr. visit, a tetanus shot and a couple of weeks later he can sort of bend it. He ices it every night still.

Cori's last day at work is in two weeks. We are going to miss the little Vin Man, but she promises to bring him by a lot. I am so thrilled for her and Mike! He passed his apprentice-ship test with flying colors and was so happy to tell his wife to quit her job to raise their baby. She is over the moon :) I have loved watching my baby sister turn in to a mom. She makes me so proud!

I have been going to the Dr. constantly. My kidney disease has progressed to the point that I am on 6-7 different medications and I am going to need a biopsy in August. I would have it sooner, but I have some other things to take care of first. No worries, though. She isn't looking for cancer. The marker for that is negative. But the diseases that remain can only be diagnosed (and there for treated) with a biopsy. I will keep you all posted. Please keep me in your prayers.

The children have asked to "try" public school this coming year and after some discussion we have agreed. They are very excited, which I think is hysterical. Silly children, don't know how good they have had it :) I am sure there will be plenty to post about, come fall!

This is the summer of change and I am peaceful in God's Perfect Plan for us :)