Friday, February 29, 2008

Doing Better

Kiana is doing better. She is taking pain medication, and it seems to be helping her tremendously. She is more active and actually gave me a "hug" last night (she jumps up and puts her paws on my shoulders), which she hasn't done in a very long time. She is also excited to go outside again, all of which are wonderful signs that her quality of life is improving. It really was heartbreaking to see her just laying around, depressed, and in pain. Plus, her relationship with Jenna (our Golden Retriever) was suffering because Kiana didn't want Jenna laying on her or playing with her (it caused Kiana pain). It caused Jenna to become depressed, too, since she couldn't be around Kiana without hurting her. Last night they were wrestling in the house a bit, and later they were back to snuggling together on the couch.

I am still feeling nausea and exhaustion, plus I have been having terrible headaches from stress and lack of sleep. I have a midterm exam on Monday, 4 lesson plans due Tuesday, another lesson plan due the following Monday and Tuesday, and another midterm exam due the following Thursday. I am completely overwhelmed with school work, plus everywhere I look in my house, I am reminded I need to clean. Ta is having a birthday party next Saturday and I need to get my house cleaned before then. Part of the problem is that I am so exhausted to do anything. All of my energy goes into caring for my family and school work. I am definitely looking forward to my spring break in a couple of weeks. I hope to get ahead in some school work on the days the kids have preschool, along with thoroughly cleaning my house in the afternoons. You know how it is when you have small kids- you can't leave them unattended to do other things lest you return to mass chaos and someone hurt and crying.

That's about all that's new here. Keep praying that Kiana's mass will dissolve on its own, and thank the Lord that He is helping her to feel better and somewhat return to normal.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Final Result

Kiana has hip dysplasia. Her left hip is totally out-of-socket. The vet said she is surprised she has lived this long (K. will be 8 in May). I didn't realize she had lived a long life; I thought old for a dog was past 10 or 12.

On top of that, she found a mass in Kiana's knee. She is on an antibiotic and has to return in 1 month. If it is still there, it's cancer. If not, than it was just an infection. If it is cancer, she has 6 months -1 year to live. I can't believe it! TJ said he didn't even want to tell me, but I'm glad he did so I know what we're up against. Of course now we are praying that it isn't cancer, and trying to provide her with the most comfortable life possible. For the last week or so, she has been living the life of luxury- sleeping on the couch, totally being catered to, loved on, etc.

TJ told the boys she was sick, but hopefully she'll get better and we won't have to break the news to them that she is dying. TJ told me the cancer is very aggressive, and very common in the location where it was found. Me, the pessimist, believes it is cancer but again, praying for the best. I guess I am still in shock at how sudden all of this happened. We left to go out-of-town and she was totally normal. We return, and she aged over the weekend. It just boggles my mind! She is our protector, our watchdog. I don't just mean that literally. Since the day she joined our family, it was as if she has always been with us. TJ asked me last night if I wanted her to sleep with us again. I do, but at the same time, if someone breaks in, I want her to at least bark to warn us. In her current condition, she can't really put up a fight. I just keep thinking. . . well, lots of things. Too many to write about. I'm just sad about my baby, that's the gist of it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The News

Well, we went to the vet. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't a complete exam, either. TJ has to drop her off in the morning. The doc wants to sedate her so she can get a complete x-ray of her hips, and then she'll do a complete orthopedic exam. Of course I got a little misty-eyed as she told us her preliminary findings: hip dysplasia. I asked if she was sure, and she said as sure as she could be without having an x-ray.

I told her what I had researched last night, and rather than dismiss what I told her, she did some examining to rule it out. I thought Kiana had degenerative myelopathy. It's ironic, but I just learned about this in one of my classes. This happens to people who have a stroke, CP, or other neurological damage. Basically, our nerves are covered in a coating called myelin. When a person suffers a stroke or other neurological distress, the myelin coating breaks down, similar to the rubber coating on an electrical cord. Without the covering, the nerves are exposed and, also like an electrical cord, the electricity (or neurons) can't pass back and forth as freely, causing the nerves to misfire or quit working at all. It often leaves people unable to speak, move muscles, etc, and has a similar affect on animals. The onset is rapid and irreversible.

I thought Kiana had this because her onset was so sudden, and TJ commented last week that he thought perhaps she had suffered from a stroke. She has just really quit using her back legs. She just lays, lethargic, unless she has to get up. The vet told me that since Kiana still had sensation in her legs (she could feel the doc’s hands on her paws and was drawing them up toward her body), more than likely it was only her hips and not this more serious condition. Only the x-ray and ortho exams will show for sure, so I am still praying that this is it. The doc did say that if it was her hips, she'll be put on a medication for pain for the rest of her life. I hope it improves her quality of life as she has just not been herself the past week or so. I got outside and played ball with her for a little bit this afternoon, but she's back to laying on the couch instead of snuggling with me and Jenna.

Anyway, thanks for thinking of us, and I'll know more tomorrow when I pick her up. Just pray she handles the sedation fine- she is considered elderly.

Vet

Kiana goes to the vet this evening. I was able to get an appointment tonight so TJ can come with me. I did some research on the Internet last night and no longer think it's her hips but something more serious. She seems to show those symptoms more so than hip problems. I showed my findings to TJ and I think he agrees with me but doesn't want to outright say it to keep me from getting upset again. If it is what I think it is, more than likely she'll have to be put down. I don't know if it will be immediately, but that is the only option. I don't even want to share what I think it is because I am praying that it is her hips. From what I found out about hip dysplasia, there are a myriad of options from exercise to medication to surgery. Hip dysplasia is a best-case scenario, and I am praying for the best!

I'll update more tonight after we get home. Her appointment is at 7pm, but then of course we have to get our kids in bed once we get home. Please pray for us. I know most people don't care for their pets like people, but we do (which is why they have human names and not pet names- they are like our children and we refer to our kids and dogs as siblings). Kiana and I have a stronger bond than anyone in the house (I mean pet/human bond), and I don't know what I'll do if she has to be put down. It will be so sad for me!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Kiana and Ultrasound

Kiana (my dog) has gotten worse over the past few days. I am going to call the vet in the morning. I didn't call last week because I thought maybe she'd get better, but she has increasingly gotten worse just since Thursday. We used to call her Chewy (like Chewbacca from Star Wars) because she sounded just like him. When I'd walk into the room, she was so excited to see me! I'd have to greet her first thing when waking in the morning just to quiet her down so she wouldn't wake the kids. She doesn't make a peep now; she only looks at me and raises her head a little. She is very lethargic, but she does still love to play with her ball! It is breaking my heart! I have tried to control my emotions in front of my kids, but I cry each time I think of her. TJ reassures me that she is eating (and pooping!) just fine, so it's more than likely her hips. I just hope that whatever it is, it can be taken care of at a reasonable cost.

I had my ultrasound on Thursday morning. Everything turned out fine. The technician immediately spotted the heartbeat, and the entire appointment lasted about 5 minutes. I haven't updated via email simply because I've been exhausted and not feeling well. Forgive me for keeping you in suspense!

Well, say a prayer for Kiana. I hope to get her in tomorrow, Tuesday at the latest. I'll update soon!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #8

Thirteen Things about South Carolina Mom

13 Books I have love. . .

You will see that most of these titles are children's titles. I read all of these during my childhood and some of them again as an adult. I identified with the main character in many of these, which is why they are my favorites. The Bible is first because of the impact it has had on my life. The second title is loved by my oldest son Th and myself, and we have read it a few times together. The others are listed in no particular order.


1. Bible
2. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
3. Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
4. Tallahassee Higgins by Mary Downing Hahn
5. Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park
6. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
7. Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene
8. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
9. Corduroy series by Don Freeman
10. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
11. Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard & Florence Atwater
12. Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Quimby
13. Wait till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kiana

TJ and I have 2 dogs, a golden retriever named Jenna and a German shepherd named Kiana (pronounced Key-auna). We've had them since before we had kids, and they used to sleep with us in bed (both weigh about 60 pounds) until we moved from California to the Carolinas. They are like our kids, and we love them like our kids, which is why it breaks my heart to see Kiana in her current state.

Both dogs were born in 2000, Kiana in May and Jenna in August. We had Jenna first, and Kiana joined our family by divine intervention. At 18 months old, Jenna was still having accidents in the house. She would do fine in the evenings and on the weekends when we were home, but during the week, we'd come home to a wet mess. We took her to the vet because we thought she was having kidney trouble. The vet told us her symptoms were that of loneliness, and he recommended we get another dog so she wasn't home alone. TJ and I wanted to get a German shepherd puppy, but before we had the opportunity, the Lord intervened.

One day I was at work and the woman (Yumi) whose position I filled stopped in to say hello. We began talking and she mentioned that she had a dog she was going to take to the pound. It was a German shepherd that she had gotten as a puppy for her kids. The boys were getting older and no longer wanted to commit to caring for the dog, and the poor dog sat at the back door with a ball in her mouth, longing for someone to play with her. My heart melted as I pictured the dog in my mind, and I told her I was interested in taking the dog to live with us. I called TJ at work and he agreed we could go and check out the dog. We made arrangements to go that evening, and after work, we loaded up Jenna in our truck and headed over to Yumi's house.

It was love at first sight! Jenna and Kiana ran around together in the back yard, and neither barked or showed signs of aggression toward the other. TJ threw the ball a few times, Kiana brought it back to him, and she left with us that very night. She has been part of our family since, and she and Jenna are like real sisters.

Lately I have noticed that Kiana has trouble getting up from a laying position. She also limps for a few feet before she can walk smoothly. Last night she was sitting and I gently picked up her front paws to lay them on my lap. She winced in pain! I think she is having hip trouble, and is a sign of her age. I hate it! She is still playful and loves to play with the ball, but seeing her in this condition reminds me that she won't be with our family forever. I dread the day we have to bury her, and I hope its many more years down the road. For now, I will have to take her to the vet and pray it's nothing serious.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Wilds

What a weekend! TJ and I had such an awesome time! We learned so much about being better spouses to each other, but also I was able to get God's view regarding my pregnancy. That alone made the trip worthwhile!

Friday night Ron, Shelly, and 3 of their children sang for us. It was amazing! They are such a talented family. We sang a few Patch songs, including the motions, and that was a blast! The kids sang together, Ron and Shelly sang together, and they sang as a family. The feelings were like those of seeing your favorite group perform. Our kids (Th mostly) were upset that they couldn’t go with us to meet Patch the Pirate, but we bought them a new CD and had the Hamilton’s autograph it for them. Plus, we had our picture taken with them, so the boys were thrilled with that.

Saturday morning at breakfast Ron and Shelly came and ate with us at our table. It was so neat to hear them talk about their work, and of course we piqued their brains about their favorite Patch CD and why (and that is the one we bought the kids). Then the men and women split up and each group was led by either Ron or Shelly. Shelly gave all the women a 30-day devotional she wrote on being a better wife. It is in-works of becoming a bound book, so I was happy to have received it free of charge! She also plans to write more on the subjects of being a friend, sister, and mother. I can’t wait until those come out!

Since I am expecting I didn’t go on the Giant Swing, but I did torture myself and go on the Land Trolley. It is a cable strung across a mountain that you go down on a pulley. It’s awesome, but I am terrified of heights! TJ laughed because I not only did it once, but twice! Both times the man at the top of the tower had to push me to get me off the platform (it’s a straight fall down the side of a mountain!), but once I got going, I was fine.

We are going back for a weekend family camp in April, and I can’t wait. The kids are excited for that, as well. TJ’s grandparents from PA are meeting us there, and it will be so fun to spend the weekend with them there. I encourage you to check out the website and look into going for an event. You do not need to go with a group (we went as individuals) and I promise you, the money spent is well worth it! You will not be disappointed, and God does an amazing work while you are there!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I'm Here

Got back from the Wilds (most received the email update) last night and I'm now busy with laundry, schoolwork, and feeling icky in my belly. Thought I was catching a stomach bug late last week but am now attributing it to morning (or in my case, evening) sickness. It seems to be coming on earlier and lasting longer each day. I'm not sure why, but it takes away my appetite and I feel worse after eating. However, I am eating so that's good.

I'll update more in the morning. I'm tired and need a short nap!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #7

Thirteen Things about South Carolina Mom

13 Baby Names I like. . .

Since I am expecting a new baby, it's first name has to begin with 'T' to keep our family tradition. Here are some that I like, although I know there are a few my husband would never go for!
*means we agree on the first name
+means I like it but doubt TJ will

1. Thaddeus (Thad) Joel*
2. Timothy Joseph*
3. Theodore (Theo) Luke*
4. Tyler John
5. Tevyn Luke+
6. Tobias Luke
7. Teagan Faith
8. Taregan Hope+
9. Taryn Faith*
10. Tinsley Anne
11. Torrin Elyse
12. Tessa Reece
13. Taylor Luke or Taylor Hope

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Weekly Update

The surgery went well for those who haven't heard. T.G. is doing great, although she didn't nap well yesterday. There is some drainage from her nose and ears, which is good because it means the infection is leaving her system. She doesn't seem to be in much pain, but I have been trying to give her Tylenol every 6 hours or so.

I just finished taking a test and completed an assignment due later today. I still have another test tomorrow that I need to study for (I haven't even begun!) and will be relieved when this week is over! TJ and I are headed to the Wilds on Friday, and I am looking forward to relaxing. After everything that has transpired since last Tuesday, I definitely need it! Plus, I start teaching on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning next week, which means I have to write lesson plans for each day; I am very nervous about that. There are 8 kids altogether, ranging in age from 4 to 12, and they all have Autism.

My ultrasound is scheduled for tomorrow morning so I am praying that I will be able to see a heartbeat. This pregnancy still does not seem real to me, especially because the nausea seems to have dissipated. Well, I'm off to make some flash cards for my test tomorrow. Say a pray for the ultrasound, my test, and my nerves. Thanks!

Monday, February 11, 2008

D-Day

Well, we're off to the hospital. I feel like I'm going to vomit at any moment. Please pray for everything that is facing us today. Thanks!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Big Day. . . Almost

Well, the big day is tomorrow. T.G. has her surgery and I get the results of my hCG levels. My stomach is in knots for both. A student on campus just died this past week from complications with anesthesia, which is my biggest fear for T.G. I know the procedures themselves are routine, but I hate that she is being put under at such a young age. Besides tomorrow's events, I have 2 tests this week that I have to study for, and a fairly large assignment due on Wednesday. On top of this, TJ is fighting a chest cold, and is currently napping on the couch (a sure sign he is sick- he never takes naps!). Part of me wishes I could just crawl in bed and sleep for the next 24 hours, but of course that is neither possible nor responsible. Sometimes being a grown-up stinks! Of course, as you read in the previous post, I also have to deal with selfish family members trying to make everything about them. I am truly torn over what to do tomorrow when I get the results and after T.G.'s surgery. Do I share how things went with this particular person through email, or do I wait until either myself or TJ gets a chance to call her personally? With him not feeling well, he doesn't want to deal with her either, so I just don't know what to do. Any suggestions? Please keep us all in your prayers, especially over the next 24 hours.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Get over it!

Some people, I tell ya! I sent an email to family and friends yesterday detailing the trials we are currently going through as a family. One member emailed back and said she was "insulted" that she was notified through email instead of a phone call. Can you believe it?! With all that is going on right now, we don't have time to call everyone. We called some members (a total of 4 between both of our families), but because I am sick in the evenings, it's difficult for TJ to talk on the phone, watch 3 kids, and help around the house. Obviously this person has never experienced having 3 kids and a sick spouse. Plus the stress that we are under is indescribable. On top of all of this, TJ and I are both taking classes, and he had a conference call Thursday night for almost 2 hours! I am so upset that this person not only emailed me to tell me she was insulted, but she has called at least 2 other people to share her "misfortune". Give me a break! I don't want pity, I want prayers and I want a little empathy. I want her to try to imagine what my life is like for a brief second, and then decide if I purposely insulted her. Email is the fastest way to disseminate information; it wasn't to avoid calling her.

By the way, we did try to call her on 2 different occasions and never got through, not even a voicemail or answering machine. I bet she didn't share that with those she called to complain about me to!

Friday, February 8, 2008

News

Some of you know and most of you don't, and I apologize in advance for not personally notifying good friends, but I have 2 reasons why: first, I have been busy during the day and feeling sick at night. The reason behind my queasiness is because. . . TJ and I are expecting another little miracle in late September/early October.

However, before you get too excited, the second reason I was trying to hold off on announcing this is because other than feeling sick, I don't really feel pregnant. I took a test simply to rule out the possibility and was utterly shocked when it came back positive. In fact, I took 3 tests before going to the doctor because I could not believe the news. I attributed my late cycle to stress. My doctor appointment was yesterday morning, and there I received confirmation that I am 5 weeks along. Robin, who you remember from this post, sent me to the hospital to have blood work done. I have to repeat the lab tomorrow and will get the results on Monday. She is looking to make sure my hormone levels are doubling (that is a sign of a healthy pregnancy). I have an ultrasound scheduled for next Thursday, Feb. 14 in the morning. If all is well, the baby should have a detectable heartbeat.

This is all happening in the midst of T.G.'s surgery and Ta's hearing issues, so needless to say, I feel extremely overwhelmed. I covet your prayers during this time in my family's life. I have claimed Ephesians 3:20 ("Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us;") as my source of strength and have been meditating and repeating it to myself for the past couple of days. I know it and believe it, but nonetheless, it is still difficult not to worry because so much of this experience reminds me of my miscarried pregnancy.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #6

Thirteen Things about South Carolina Mom


13 Pictures from my life. . .


Th, May 2007



Ta, May 2007



At the OBX, June 2007


Ta, OBX 2007


T.G. and Jenna, 1 of our dogs



Th turning 5 in Sep. 2007


Eating cake, Sep. 2007


Me and TJ at the Wilds


At the zoo, Oct. 2007



Nov. 2007



Thanksgiving 2007

Christmas 2007



All of us


Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!




Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Surgery

T.G.'s surgery is scheduled for Monday in Charlotte. We have to be at the hospital at 5:30AM, plus she can't eat after midnight. It's going to be a long day! I am concerned for her about the surgery, but at the same time, it's the same doctor who performed Ta's surgery and he is a Christian. He prayed with us before he took Ta into the O.R. and also mentioned he prayed when he woke that morning (the day of Ta's surgery). It comforted me to know that he understands his hands do the work of God. Does that make sense? Anyway, please pray for a quick recovery and that all of the procedures she is having done will help with her ear troubles.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Letters from Home

I made it to see Kaylee. After much indecisiveness because of T.G.'s, TJ's, and now Ta's illnesses, I had difficulty making up my mind about going. I decided this morning and my mom picked T.G. and myself up. We left about noon. Of course, because I was packing at the last minute, I forgot a few things: a stroller, a sippy cup, and my camera. Yep, I can't take any pictures. My mom also forgot her camera. Looks like Erin will have to take pictures and email them to me.

I didn't tell the boys I was going anywhere until just before dropping them off at preschool this morning. I knew they would want to go with me and I didn't feel like arguing with them about it. Plus, once they found out my mom was going to be there, they would've definitely wanted to go with me and it would have been more difficult for me to leave them. Ta was fine. Hugged and kissed me like normal and went on his merry way. Th, on the other hand, understood more of what I was saying and was very teary-eyed and would not let go. His teacher had to pull him off of my arm so I could leave. I hated it, and it reminded of my working days and sending him to daycare.

I left notes in a special place for TJ and the boys to find. They found the notes this afternoon after lunch. Th felt left out because he found Ta's and TJ's immediately. I put his in a little more difficult place to find, but I knew he could do it. I talked to them before they went to bed and Th told me he liked his note. TJ emailed and shared this with me about putting the boys to bed:

"I just heard Th get up, I went up stairs and he was sneaking back up in his bed. I saw his hand, and he was up getting the note you left him. He is lying in his bed looking at it. I could not yell at him for getting up."

Am I glad I took the extra time to write the notes instead of worrying if I packed everything? You betcha! As much as I was looking forward to seeing Kaylee, I miss my family so much!