Can You Stand the Rain?

The old saying, “when it rains it pours,” has been true in many different stages in my life. My mother likes to say that though rains may fall, there is a rainbow on the other side. I started to think about the impact rain has on certain things and certain kinds of people.

When I think about dirt, excessive rain turns it into mud, duh. But outside of the spa, mud is dirty, sticky, and murder on your tires or your toddler’s new shoes.

ARE YOU MUD?

When troubles come your way, do you allow yourself to get stuck in your situation? Do you sit in the middle of your bed and rehash your worries to anyone and everyone willing to listen to you whine?

Now, think about gravel. A lot of rain not only makes the roads slippery and treacherous, but it can also lead to erosion. Those lovely potholes that wreak havoc on your vehicle most likely came as a result of a torrential downpour.

ARE YOU GRAVEL?

When troubles arise, do you give it the power to break you in mind and spirit? Do you accept your fate and assume that nothing will change for the better?

And finally we come to plants. Whether you have a green thumb or not, and I absolutely do not, you know that at the bare minimum, plants need water to grow and flourish. The rain may cause the plant to bow under the pressure but it will remain firm.

ARE YOU A PLANT?

Do you take the troubles and issues that come at you, yet remain firm? Do you relish the hard times, or “rain”, knowing that you will emerge stronger and healthier once the storm has passed.

In theory, we all want to believe that we are plants. No one wants to admit that they allow things beyond their control to stop them in their tracks. But too often we get stuck in our circumstances or become broken beyond repair.

We allow troubles to weigh us down to the point where we can’t see a way out.

Rough times typically come in droves and are meant to knock us out, at least temporarily. But it’s how you handle what’s thrown at you that matters. Despite how it may feel, these tough times were never meant to last forever.

If you need to scream, do it. If you need to vent for a little while, speak up. If you just want to crawl in bed with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and a glass of Pinot Grigio and watch reruns of Martin or Friends, you have the right. But do not allow yourself to wallow forever.

Have your moment and then figure out your next step.

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Testing Your Marriage

As satisfying as being a mommy is, when you’re a wife, parenthood is one of the major things that can test a marriage.

For me, I am fortunate that my husband and I are on the same page when it comes to the ultimate goals and dreams for our babies. The problems arise when it comes to the route we want to take to get to our mutual destination.

Right now, our baby girl is in the hospital yet again and we are faced with multiple questions and decisions that need to be made on her behalf. At first we were on opposite ends of the spectrum. He opted for surgery while I opted for medication but we both are concerned with how our decisions will impact the rest of her life.

This is when communication is absolutely critical. It’s not only important to be clear about what you want and come with some convincing evidence, but it’s also necessary to listen to the other person with an open mind. In this type of situation, it doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong.

Before making this decision, my husband brought up a valid concern. He didn’t want either of us to give in to the other person blindly and, if things don’t turn out well, the spouse with the winning decision would be the victim of eternal blaming.

We talked and weighed the pros and cons and did all of the research we could. We consulted friends and family and even talked to other people who have been on similar medication and have experience with her condition. At the end of the day, we were bombarded with so much information and so many opinions that it made us dizzy.

It was when we both got a break from the hospital and we were home alone that we were able to let our gut and our hearts and our faith guide us to a decision that brought us both peace.

Those kinds of mature conversations can only be achieved when you both have the same end goal in mind and aren’t so consumed with who’s right or wrong. I won’t pretend like every disagreement we have ends so amicably. But learning how to thrive during a disagreement as opposed to fighting through an argument is one of the keys, at least for me, to a healthy relationship.

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Traveling the World of Diseases – Part V

My little lady stayed in the hospital for a total of nine days. Each day brought a rash of new tests. New tubes were placed in her body. My husband and I had to hear about all of the things that could be wrong with her and how her life could possibly be affected by the different drugs and treatments.

The worst part, at least for me, was having to look her in the eye every evening and tell her that she couldn’t come home. Nine days may not seem like a long time but when it comes to a hospital stay, the days tend to run together and it feels like there is no end in sight.

She got her colonoscopy and an endoscopy and there were times when she couldn’t eat in preparation for her tests. That’s what broke my daddy. She would ask him for “yellow chips” (plain potato chips) because he always has them on hand just for her. We had to tell her no at every turn and try our best to distract her through reading stories and playing with her iPad.

Every couple days I would restyle her hair. She slept every night with her three baby dolls, Happy, Patti and Tia. Each day that went by and she was stuck in that hospital room, an IV dragging behind her, she grew more and more despondent. I would look at her sometimes and her face would be blank while she stared in space. She wouldn’t want anyone to talk to her or touch her. She was more than ready to come home and couldn’t understand why that wasn’t a possibility.

The final diagnosis is ulcerative colitis, something I had never of before her hospital stay. Apparently, the previous doctors and hospital staff didn’t suspect ulcerative colitis because the disease is normally accompanied by pain and a delay in physical growth. And it is not wholly common for the disease to reveal itself in 4 year olds.

They gave me and my family the general spiel about what it is and how to treat it but the only words I focused on were “there is no cure.” The idea that there is anything my little girl has to live with for the rest of her days, assuming she has multiple decades left to bless this Earth, made me so sad. Having ulcerative colitis means she will have to have regular colonoscopies by the time she turns 12 and there is a higher risk of getting colon cancer later on in life, which was my husband’s main concern all along.

We asked questions about this would affect her overall health, her menstrual cycle and her ability to have children. We wanted to ask everything we could think so we could have an idea of any long term ramifications but they basically told us that she can go on to live a completely normal and healthy life if she takes her medication regularly and makes subtle changes to her diet.

As much as it pained me to see her laid up in that hospital day after day, I’m glad that after everything we were finally able to have some answers.

LESSON: Doctors and specialists are here for a reason, but MY GOD will always have the final say. It was only through our prayers, and other people praying on our behalf that got us through this ordeal. It also forced us to humble ourselves and ask for help so a big thank you to people who gave us rides to the hospital, sat with us in the hospital, sent balloons or toys to my little lady, and arranged for meals to be sent to our home. There’s no way we could ever express how grateful we are for it all.

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Traveling the World of Diseases – Part IV

Just the idea of taking my little girl to the hospital was enough to get my anxiety up. My husband’s biggest fear was that she had cancer. I was concerned that she would have to be admitted for more testing. At this point, she had seen around three doctors and no one had been able to diagnose her and give us any sort of peace.

I was relieved once our hospital appointment was over because at least now we would get some answers.

After the appointment, we came home relaxed, knowing we would probably hear some news in a couple of days. My husband and I didn’t know what to expect but we were mentally preparing ourselves to do whatever was needed to ensure our daughter got what she needed.

When my husband called my mother, after the hospital called him, I immediately knew the news couldn’t be good. The hospital called to say that her heart rate was accelerated and with the excessive bleeding from the past month, they found anemia in her blood. We were instructed to come right back to the hospital for her to get a colonoscopy and a blood transfusion.

I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t cry or ask a bunch of questions. I didn’t want to panic, knowing it would do no good for me and wouldn’t help my baby at all. I just sprung into action. I had no idea if she was going to need to stay the night but I packed an outfit, some books for her to read, and her favorite baby doll Patty.

We got in the car with my mother, and made the 40 minute trek back to the hospital. Because my phone was still broken, I used my mother’s phone to call and text my closest friends and family to let them know the situation. I wanted and needed all the prayers I could possibly get since I didn’t know what we were about to face.

Based off of the phone call, I assumed she would be whisked away immediately to get some help. Instead, we waited in the emergency room for six hours. Thankfully my mother brought her iPad to entertain my little girl, but each hour that went by made me more anxious and nervous and agitated, though I think I hid it pretty well from my daughter.

Her vitals were taken in the waiting room and when she was finally called, it was to receive an IV. At this point, my baby was tired and starting to feel anxious herself. Though she has a high tolerance for needles, she has never had one sticking in her hand for an extended period of time. It took my mother holding down her legs, me holding down her upper body, and two nurses holding her everywhere else before the IV could go in. She cried and screamed the entire time and the sound almost broke me.

After the IV was in, they took her up to a private room and we were told she would get a blood transfusion soon because the iron in her blood was so low. when we got up to her room and changed her into a hospital gown, I called my husband and asked him to bring her a few items from home like her pillow and the rest of her baby dolls for comfort. We watched a movie together before I curled up with her in bed to convince her to go to sleep.

She said her prayers and I stroked her hair to relax her. She looked up at me after a while with tears in her little eyes. “Are you scared?” I asked her. She nodded her head yes and looked at me with confusion. How do you explain to a 4 year old what you still don’t understand yourself? I prayed over her and waited patiently for my husband to come to the hospital as he planned to spend the night in her room.

Once he came, and my mommy took me back home, around 1am, I went to my room and got ready for bed. Her toddler bed is in my room and just looking at it, empty, broke me. I turned the lights off, crawled into bed, and sobbed myself to sleep.

 

 

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Traveling the World of Diseases – Part III

It’s been about five weeks and my four year old is still bleeding every time she has a bowel movement. Where before she had a BM once or twice a day, now it’s 4-5 times a day. She has no pain though most of the time she has diarrhea. There is still no fever or vomiting. This is obviously a good thing but the lack of symptoms means no one knows for sure what she possibly has.

I reached out to her pediatrician and told her the probiotics she prescribed hadn’t solved the problem.  With no other symptoms and nothing new to go on, she suggested I take her to a gastro specialist at a children’s hospital.

We made the appointment and got advice from people about what it could possibly be. We heard about polyps and how they can be easily removed. We heard about Crohn’s disease and how it’s genetic and is associated with chronic pain. My husband’s biggest fear was that it was some kind of cancer. I feared that she would be admitted to the hospital, neither of my babies had ever had an extended stay there. All I knew was that I wanted my baby girl to be okay and I wanted us to get past this.

Because we had to wait a couple weeks for the appointment, I was able to squeeze out one day to take off because I was determined that I would not miss another one. My mother came with me and we arrived for our appointment on time and ready to get some answers.

I was never nervous and didn’t even feel anxious, I don’t think. I walked in there feeling confident. My little girl was content watching Paw Patrol in the waiting room and life was normal.

Before the doctor came in the room, a nurse took her vitals and asked us some standard questions. She said her heart rate was a little high and she checked it a second time. The doctor came in and asked us questions about our recent travel and any changes in her diet. Then we had a spirited conversation where I had to describe her poop by comparing what I see in the toilet every day to a chart depicting what healthy and unhealthy poop look like. (I pray you never have to do this as it was strange and weird for me to even type that such a conversation took place.)

I answered all of her questions and when my ladybug had to go to the bathroom, I was able to bring the tissue to the doctor so she could see how bright and red the blood was. She instructed me to get a stool sample at home and to retreat to another floor of the hospital to get a blood sample, something that wasn’t done at the emergency room.

We left the hospital, grabbed some lunch, and headed back home. My ladybug ate her applesauce, while my mother and I filled in my babysitter on what happened at the hospital. My phone started blowing up and I discovered it was broken.

I could see calls coming in and I could hear it but I could not answer and if by chance I was able to answer, the person on the other end couldn’t hear me. I didn’t recognize the number so I didn’t worry about it.

My mother’s phone rang and it was my husband. The hospital had been trying to reach me.

LIFE LESSON: There is no way to prepare for the unexpected.

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Traveling the World of Diseases – Part II

After a disappointing trip to the emergency room, I finally got an appointment for my little girl to see her pediatrician. The down side was that I was unable to accompany her because I had to work.

I started a new job in April and had already used my vacation time over the summer. With no available time, I had no choice but to leave her doctor’s visit in the hands of a family member.

I was called during the appointment and put on speakerphone so I could communicate with the doctor directly and hear any instructions she may have had. She diagnosed my baby with a viral pathogen and told me to give her probiotics over a period of seven days.

The doctor proceeded to give her a general check up and asked her to lie down on the exam table, which makes my baby feel vulnerable and it’s always a struggle convincing her to cooperate once we get to that point of the appointment.

I heard my family member trying to calm her down and I just started to cry.

I was supposed to be there with my little girl helping her to relax. I should not have been miles away typing on a computer when my little girl needed me.

It’s that age old dilemma that most moms face: to stay home full time or go back to work. I work because financially my family needs me to. I enjoyed being at home with my babies and getting the chance to 1. establish a solid bond with them and 2. be available to volunteer at schools, go on field trips, and take them to appointments.

At a time like this when my daughter is physically experiencing something that no one can explain, I yearned to be at the forefront of any information regarding her health. Not being at that doctor’s office KILLED me inside.

But I was grateful to at least be there through speakerphone.

LESSON LEARNED: I have to be okay with the fact that I cannot always be there.

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Traveling the World of Diseases – Part I

It all started three weeks after we came home from our first family cruise.

My little lady went to the bathroom and when she got up, I saw a little bit of blood in her watery stool. I was more confused than immediately alarmed and I assumed that it was a fluke thing that would go away.

When the blood persisted and the diarrhea went on for days at a time, several times a day, I called her pediatrician whose office was busy for the next couple of weeks due to the first day of school being just around the corner.

I told my husband to take her to Urgent Care while I accompanied my son to orientation at his new school. When we met up, the doctor said she has no other symptoms and attributed her condition to her recent trip out of the country. We were told to collect a stool sample at home and to keep her hydrated due to the diarrhea.

Getting a sample proved to be tougher than we thought and when a week went by and she was still bleeding, I took her to the emergency room determined to get some answers.

Again, they were baffled about her lack of symptoms but agreed that the constant blood in her stools had to mean something. They were successful in getting a sample and told me the results would be ready in a week.

This is the point where I started to get frustrated.

They never called me with the results so when a little more than a week went by, and I hadn’t heard anything, I made the call. The woman who answered told me, “If they didn’t call you, no news is normally good news.” I’m sure that was intended to make me feel better but it definitely had the opposite effect.

When I asked her for the results of my daughter’s stool sample, she responded, “Oh, it’s negative.”

What does that even mean? Negative for what? This is the exact conversation I had with that woman:

ME: What does negative mean?

HER: Negative for bacteria like salmonella, e-coli (and some other terms I can’t remember)

ME: So they found nothing?

HER: No.

ME: So I’m right back where I started?

HER: I guess so.

I’m too polite to hang up on people, and the invention of the cell phone has taken away the sheer joy of slamming a phone down in someone’s ear.

Hearing that her tests were negative did little to ease my now mounting worry. I didn’t care what those tests said, my ladybug was still losing blood every day and though she didn’t “look sick,” we all knew that something was wrong.

And I was more determined than ever to figure out what was wrong with my baby girl.

LESSON LEARNED: Don’t stop asking questions until you get a definitive answer.

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