Friday, December 31

"What Christmas is Really About..."

All Christmas season, Matt and I spend a lot of time reminding Payton & Maxwell what Christmas is really about.  We keep Christmas small (at least here at home), we don't play up Santa, we have the boys purchase gifts for Operation Christmas Child each year, we talk often about the events surrounding the birth of baby Jesus, and we talk about how much fun giving is.  We do acts of giving through our advent stockings and we give to neighbors in secret - to remind them that it's better to give than receive.  We talk about how this is the only time we see some of family members and that is more important than any gift you may get.

But as a parent, sometimes I wonder if any of it's getting through.  Especially when Payton asked "Why didn't you get me any new games to go with my new DSi?"  I thought Matt was going to lose it.  We, again, discussed the giving, not the receiving and being happy with what you have.

It's hard to know if the life lessons you're teaching are impacting them in anyway.  Especially during the time I was reviewing gift receiving manners with Maxwell on Christmas Eve.  I asked him "What do you say when someone gives you a present?"  His answer was the correct one; "Thank you very much!"  But when I asked him "What do you do when someone gives you a gift you don't like?"  His reply was "You give it back!!!" OY!  Out of the mouth of babes!!!

But there was a moment this Christmas that showed me what we are teaching our boys, even if they need reminders occasionally (or often) does seep into their little brains somehow.  On Christmas Day, while eating dinner with my parents, Payton was asked to pray.  He said our recited prayer of "Dear Jesus, thank You for our food, and our family, and our friends..."  This is where we end most nights. But in this moment, Payton paused.  And he tagged on the end, "...and help us to remember what Christmas is really about; the birth of baby Jesus and being with family."

Those are the moments you know all the lessons you teach are getting through...one small bit at a time.

Tuesday, December 28

Christmas Photos






















Surviving Christmas

Wow.  What a wonderful and yet oh so exhausting trip for our Christmas travels this year.

We began with a few days at my in laws.  My both of my brother in laws were able to be there this year and my brand-spankin-new sister in law was able to celebrate her first Kobylak Christmas with us!  And...everyone brought their four legged children, as well as our two boys.  It was a full house!  We had a great time and I loved the moments we shared with that family.

Christmas Eve, as always, is a traditional Polish Wigilia dinner.  There were 38 of us this year, with two missing; Matt & Marie.  This is the only time everyone gets to be together and it's one of my favorite days of the year.  So awesome!

Christmas Day was travel and then the 26th was with my family.  It was pretty low key this year, which I really appreciated.  We did our beg, borrow & steal stockings again this year and I think that's our favorite part. :)

I'm now working on getting my house back in order from the time I was in the hospital and the days we were gone for the holiday.  I have five more days until life returns to "normal" and I'm just looking to save up my energy so that I can be ready to go back to work.

Tuesday, December 21

Christmas

Well, it's that time. Being in the hospital for 8 days, it's happened upon me rather fast. Luckily before the hospital stay, I had already purchased the majority of my gifts.

Our Christmas schedule is pretty straight forward this year. Tomorrow, we celebrate our own little Christmas here at home. In the afternoon, we'll travel to my in-laws for a few days to of Kobylak Family Christmas. I really enjoy the Polish traditions we share on Christmas Eve there.

After a few days with the Kobylak Family, we'll head to Cleveland to spend time with my family. We always celebrate with them on the 26th, so it's a busy week for us.

This is my favorite holiday and time of the year. I look forward to making many more memories this year. I just hope the dog behaves!



Sunday, December 19

Grateful - So VERY Grateful

So many people have reached out to me the last 10 days.  I am deeply touched and reminded of the friends and family who love and care for me.

My mom, made a huge sacrifice to come stay with us for eight days.  She is a "last minute shopper" so she gave up a lot of her holiday shopping time to stay with my boys.  She's in her 60's, so caring for two young boys and my house - not to mention our dog who has it out for her - has been a lot of work for her.   I am so blessed to have a mother who gives without asking and cares with all she has to give.  Thank you, Mom.  I love you SO MUCH.

My wonderful boys, who at only 7 and (almost) 4, made little snowflakes to hang on my windows in my hospital room.  They prayed for me and asked about me often.  They were concerned and yet strong.  They are quite the little men and I'm so proud of them for how well they behaved while I wasn't around.

I have a lot of friends who visited in the hospital, donated a meal to my family, sent a card, said a prayer, brought me little treats or even sent a kind email or note on Facebook.  Some of these are friends I haven't known very long or known very well.  Thank you, all, for your love, concern and attention.

The hospital staff was so kind.  They spent time not only caring for me, but chatting with me to cheer me up.  They made sure I was comfortable and tried to do what they could to make me happy.  To the staff of St. John 5-West, Thank YOU!

And my husband; Thank you.  Thank you for picking up the slack.  Thank you for your MANY visits to my room.  Thank you for your love, your concern and your understanding.  I love you so much.  It's how we deal with the rough times like this that remind me how deep our love is. 

God has blessed me with so many wonderful people in my life.  People who give of themselves at a time of year when people could be so focused on what they need to get done for their own families.  Thank you, God, for the people you have put in my life.


Home, Sweet Home

My final procedure for my hospital stay was completed around 3:00pm yesterday afternoon.  The doctors found some irritated lining in my stomach, but really can't attribute my lack of eating to that.  So I'm on several different medications to help my stomach & intestines calm down and all me to continue to eating soft foods.  In a few days, I will start testing out some less soft foods and see how things go.  I also have a some medications to help me deal with the continued pain.  I guess that's the most frustrating part.  I'm a girl who likes clear answers.  And I left the hospital with a very general diagnosis and no real answer to my problems.  But they are significantly less than last weekend when I arrived at the hospital.  So I am grateful for that.

I was granted permission to leave the hospital at 4:00pm yesterday.  It was the best news I'd received in a long time.  My boys were at church with my mom when Matt dropped me off at home.  I took a shower and folded some laundry.  When they got home, they were so happy to see me.  I heard "I missed you" all night long.  We put in Finding Nemo to watch as a family and I'm sorry to say I slept through the whole thing.

Today, we've just been hanging out here at home.  I didn't get up until 1pm.  Thank goodness for my mom!!  She'll be leaving tomorrow, but Matt is off work.  I'm hopeful that by the time the holiday events get started on Wednesday I have a LOT more energy and the pain is even less.  I really look forward to celebrating my favorite holiday with family and friends. ♥


Saturday, December 18

time, time, nothing but time

9:43am
Eight days.  That's a LONG time.  A really really long time.  And when you consider that nurses, doctors, procedures and medication really only take about 2 hours of each day, that leaves me with a lot of free time.  I spent a good amount of time napping.  I never gets naps in my normal life, so that was kind of nice.  the rest of the time was spent

1) finding modern knitting patterns online
2) playing Boogle Online at pogo.com
3) updating this blog
4) posting/checking on facebook and farmville
5) praying and listening for God
6) watching TV shows I'd missed this week
7) watching movies on Netflix.com
8) reading

I highly recommend a laptop if you know you are going to be in the hospital for any length of time.  I also recommend a subscription or at least a free trial with netflix.com.  I can't imagine what I would have done with all that time without my laptop. 
 

Friday, December 17

my plan was foiled again

7:05pm
At 5:00pm, my GI doctor came to visit, fully intending, I believe, to send me home.  However, it wasn't long into our conversation that I realized he'd changed his mind.  All I had to do was tell him that I still couldn't eat.  So now, another procedure scheduled for tomorrow.  He did promise that as long as the finding weren't CRAZY he'd send me home after I proved I could eat some soft foods.

I've come to accept we may never know what caused me to be in this state.  The constant pain and discomfort may take a long time to go away, but it has lessened.  And I can't eat "real" food, but at least I can eat soft, bland foods.  This isn't the end of this health saga for me.  Whatever is found tomorrow, I will have to continue with out patient care.  But I can go home.  I can sleep next to my husband.  I can cuddle with my boys.  And God willing, I can celebrate Christmas with our families.



still here

2:33pm
No morning post from me. I'm sure some of you were hoping that meant I was on my way home.  Alas, I'm still here.  I got a new roommate, Nellie, last night.  Nellie is 89 years old and has a list of health problems longer than I am tall.  It was a...difficult...night for both of us.  She is awaiting discharge right now. 

I saw a few specialist this morning.  My general surgeon came by to again assure me I don't have appendicitis even though a lot of the symptoms point to it.  My GI student doctor came by to see if I was still in pain.  Indeed I am.  And my doctor's Physician Assistant came by to see if I was eating anything.  I am not.

*sigh* The updates feel repetitive at this point.  There's nothing new to report.  They still don't know anything, I'm still in the hospital and there is still no set time for me to go home. 

OH! I did have a great visitor last night.  Liz came by to spend time with me.  We always have a lot of laughs and last night was no exception.  And today, a representative from Reach's Teacher Appreciation Committee stopped by to bring me a beautiful bouquet.  So very sweet of them to think of me.  And some fuzzy socks!  I love fuzzy socks. 

Ok, so I was able to end on a positive note.  Thank goodness for that!!

Thursday, December 16

pity party for 1; right this way

7:24pm
Tonight is Payton's holiday performance at school.  I'm sad that I'm still in the hospital and not able to be there. My mom is there with Maxwell and one of my co-workers, Jennifer Sesi, is recording it, but it's not the same as seeing it live myself.  Now I've missed the boys' only Christmas performances this year; church's on Sunday and school's tonight.

I know that there are many more years of concerts to come.  And I know I've been lucky enough to see them all up to this point, but I'm still sad.  Sad that I didn't get to see anything.  Sad that I've been out of the boys lives physically for 7 days and out of their lives due to the pain for at least 10 days. 

I miss my kiddos.  And I miss interacting with them.  And I miss my life.  All for stupid pain that won't go away anyway!

it's finally happened

12:37pm
It took a lot longer than I thought it would, but it's finally happened.  I'm bored.  Officially bored.  My roommate, Denise, got sent home yesterday.  Matt just left to head home.  He has to work today.  My mom is with Max.  They went to an indoor playpark today at the Roseville Rec Center.  He always has fun there.  That leaves no one for me to talk to and no one to focus on.  That's bad for someone who's social and in pain.  I focus on my pain.

-----Break for Doctor Visit-----
Here I was hoping I'd be sent home today.  Hoping that we'd have an answer and pain would be managed well, but after my doctor visit, I'm not sure that will be today.  My "stomach doctor", or gastrointestinalist, stopped in to look me over again.  He's concerned about the movement of the pain.  It has changed locations and that is concerning to him.  He's order (more) tests for today...

But back to the topic at hand.  I'm still bored.

Wednesday, December 15

it's been too long

7:48pm
It's been hard for me being here in the hospital. I don't like to sit still.  I need to have something to do and yet, with all the drugs, my brain won't focus well.  I haven't been able to read or anything, just doing little piddly things to stay busy.

As hard as it has been on me, I know it's hard on my family as well.  We're incredibly lucky that my mom is retired and was able to come up last minute and take care of the boys and the house while I'm here and Matt's at work.  She's been a huge comfort and blessing for us all.  But Matt is tired.  He's been emotionally riding high to try and protect me and deal with my extreme lows the last week.  He's done great, but I think he needs 12 hours to just sleep to be human again.

As adults, we understand that this is short term in the scheme of things.  We know that eventually I'll be back home and back to work and life will return to our version of normal.  But that's hard for the boys to see.  Maxwell is a little young still.  He'll be four in January, so a lot of this is going over his head.  He isn't too concerned, he just has moments where he misses me.  He seeks out a cuddle or hug from my mom or Matt and then seem to be ok for awhile.  The boys made me paper snowflakes the other day that I hung on my window here at the hospital.  Max can show his love in little ways like this and be satisfied.

Payton is somewhere between the innocence of a child and the maturity of an adult.  Payton realizes that I've been gone for a long time.  That compounded with the fact that "G-maw" (my mom) showed up unexpectedly is enough to get Payton's curiosity peeked.  He's been really lovey to the teachers at school they've told me.  And my mom said he's been asking for cuddle time.  The other night he mentioned that now he knows how two of his friends felt when their mom died. :(  He knows I'm not gone forever, but when you're 7 years old, a week can feel like forever!

There is rumor that I may get to go home tomorrow.  I'm not sure I'm physically ready to do so, but I know emotionally I am!  I need to see my kiddos!!!  It has been TOO LONG!

P.S. The hospital visitation policy is no children 12 & younger.  I probably could get them in for a just a short time, but with it being flu season and so close to Christmas, I'm not willing to chance it.

whoa

7:25am
The last 12 hours have been very...um...interesting. It feels like a flashback to my college days. Days I had hoped I would never repeat.

Because of my test results, my doctor had prescribed me a tiny little blue pill. I'd tell you it's name but that, along with lots of other details, have escaped my brain. I was asked to take this tiny blue pill before my meals. So 5:15pm, the nurse brings the pill. No issue, I take the pill and place my dinner order: veggie stir fry, extra white rice and a fruit plate.

As I'm waiting for my dinner to arrive, my hands and feet start to tingle - as if they've fallen asleep. Very weird. I try to ignore it, and change positions in bed thinking maybe that has something to do with it. No change. I received a few texts on my phone and facebook from people asking for updates and expressing concern. As I start to type, I notice my body is not ok. It's not doing to the things my brain is telling it to. At one point, while trying to respond to an email, I woke up to my roomie calling my name. I had fallen asleep, folded in half, with my face and hands on the keyboard.

I called the nurse and told her what had been going on and she felt it was a nervous/anxiety issue. i told her I wasn't nervous about anything, but she thinks the little blue pill was causing it. She suggests Adivan. My food arrives and things aren't looking any better. I can't focus on ANYTHING. I'm hearing conversations that aren't happening. I'm seeing things that aren't there. I imagine myself in places that I'm obviously not...scary stuff!! I agree to the Adivan, because how could it be any worse than what I was going through?

The last thing I remember is laying in bed, loading up the movie Unbreakable (in my top 10 of all time), and getting cozy. I didn't even make it through the full 1st scene. I remember my ears waking a few times and I could hear the movie, but my eyes wouldn't open to watch the movie.

This morning when I got up and started my day, my nurse came in to see me. She said I had a few people stop in to see me, but I wasn't able to be woken up. She also said that I would say funny things if they asked me questions or something if I was just slightly interrupted when they were getting my blood pressure or something. They tried several time to wake me to see if I needed pain relief or a trip to the restroom, but my body was already in 'off' mode.

As of now, I still feel very strongly drugged. I feel like my brain is not connected to my body. I lost my balance twice while walking to the restroom. And my hands aren't doing what they're asked either. The number of typos in this post was unreal. All the red & green corrections made my post look like a Christmas tree. I'm hoping that this all wears off quickly; all though I still don't know what the plan is for today. Hopefully there is someone to walk me through it all. Cause I might get lost following the directions of someone who doesn't exist.

Tuesday, December 14

tests working, I'm not

5:11pm
Today has been a day of tests. I had a few tests done today that helped to rule out several issues they thought I might be having. The tests revealed a few issues that may or may not be the cause of what I'm experiencing. Tomorrow I'll be having a few more tests done.

In the meantime, I'm really starting to feel anxious. I'm getting restless and wishing I had a purpose. I feel useless and like a burden. It's pretty frustrating and a test of my patience and self-control. I'm thankful for the friends who have stopped by to keep my brain busy though. It definitely helps the time pass quicker!

As for going home...still no discussion of it. Possibly tomorrow...or Thursday....or maybe Friday?

Denise, my big sister

7:41am
In one of my earlier posts this week, I mentioned my roommate, Denise. When I was first placed in my room, Denise was asleeep, snoring loudly with her TV on full blast.  After I'd been here a few hours, she woke up and sounded awful; still under the influence of her meds, coughing, gagging.  Yuck.  I'm sure you can imagine my thought regarding our stay together.

But over the last few days, we've been forced into a friendship.  Yesterday, during my meltdown. Denise was such a comfort to me.  She reminded me of all the great things I have going on in my life.  She reminded me of what I could be going through medically - her situation - which is significantly worse than mine.  And she reminded me that I am a strong person and I could handle all of this.

After I recovered from my emotional breakdown, I told Denise how much it meant to me that she offered me all that support.  She said she was happy to be there for me.  She called herself my big sister.  And in the situation were in, she acts like it.  God gave me who I needed before I knew I needed her. 

Monday, December 13

what a man

11:24pm
Through the last week, there have been a lot of unknown variables.  What was/is wrong? What's causing it? How long will it last? How serious is it?  What can we do about it? 

My personality demands answers to all questions as quickly and clearly as possible.  Matt's personality does not.  He keeps quiet and mostly just takes what's given to him.  This week as I've been asking 100s of questions, my husband has been sitting by, listening to the questions and just patiently waiting for things to happen.

Today in a brief exchange Matt said "Don't worry me like that again!"  It took me a second to realize he was talking about me.  And then I had to process what I'd done to make him worry. OH! He was worried about my health.  Looking back at the last few days I can see now how he was protecting me and guarding me, in his calm and quiet way; making sure to keep me as safe and secure as he could. 

What an amazing man I married.

amazing what tears can do

4:23pm
This morning, I was expecting to wake to a list of tests that needed run and doctors who would be trying to assist me in figuring all this pain out.  Instead I sat and was told that no one knew the plan.  I asked my awesome nurse, Jessica, a few times and she didn't hear anything to pass on.

By 1pm, I was done.  I needed answers.  My pain wasn't getting better and no one was trying to help.  I was frustrated.  With my pain soaring, I started crying.  Silently crying in my bed with sheets over my head.  I felt like I was 15 years old.

About 10 minutes into my crying jag, the tech assigned to me came in.  She asked why I was crying and I couldn't even tell her.  Then my nurse came in.  Then my roommate got involved.  Peer pressure got the best of me and when I calmed myself down enough to use my "big girls words", I told them I was frustrated and I felt like no one cared about what was happening and how to make it stop. 

After being reassured and given some strong drugs for the pain, the surgeon I'd been waiting ALL DAY for showed up.   Jessica the nurse had taken change and hunted him down.  THANKS JESSICA!!  When he saw me in tears, upset by the pain and uncertainty of the situation, I could tell he felt bad for leaving me without a plan for so long.  (Matt was able to stop in at this time and my mom showed up too.)

He asked me questions for about 15 minutes and then laid out his plan: consults with a few specialists, run a few more tests and figure this out.  So tomorrow, it all begins.  Hopefully I'll have answers and a plan by tomorrow evening or Wednesday morning.

Those of you who know me, know that I don't tend to blow up.  Things build and build in my brain and in my spirit before I let things out.  I don't like to ask for help either.  So this situation has been really hard for me.  But the tears, in this case, got things moving towards an answer.  I still don't know what is going to happen or what's going on in my body, but at least people are working together to get to an answer.


Sunday, December 12

things I've learned

10:53pm
Things I've learned thus far during my stay in the hospital:

1. "I'll be right back" means at least 30 minutes.
2. The yellow gripper socks they give out make me happy because they have a big smiley face on them.
3.  My support network is way bigger than I thought.  I've heard from so many friends and family that I haven't been in close contact with in awhile.
4. Dilaudid (a narcotic) gives me really weird dreams.  I have been so hungry because I couldn't eat so every time I fell asleep, I would dream about food; food dancing, food singing, me eating food, other people eating food...
5. Having a laptop is crucial to a having the best hospital stay possible.
6. My friends are so supportive and loving.  A lot of friends, and even some very new friends, have gone out of their way to help with the kids or in other ways.  I'm so grateful.
7. "The doctor will be right with you." means you might as well take a nap- and dream about food.

some things never change

5:30am
My nurse just came in to give me my next dose of pain meds...45 minutes late.
The pain had already taken hold and when she came in I had my head buried under the sheets crying.
She apologized profusely for being late and explained she was wrapped up with something else.
She gave me the meds in my IV and asked if there was anything else she could get me.
Through my tears, all I could say was, "I want my mom."


Saturday, December 11

The Pain

I haven't really explained what's been going on to everyone, just bits and pieces here and there I guess.  So here it is.

About a week ago, I was having abdominal pain and just assumed it was nothing serious.  It would be sharp for just a moment and then go away.  Maybe 3-4 times a day, but nothing I couldn't just deal with and work through.

Last Sunday, the 5th, I felt a lot more pain, but again, assume it was related to just being a girl & PMS.  I woke up on Monday morning to get ready for school and I instantly vomited all over my bed.  Awesome.  I changed the sheets and called off work, got the boys where they needed to be and spent the day in bed.  I assumed I had a flu that was going around our school.

Tuesday, the pain was getting worse, but the vomiting was gone.  I went to see my doctor and she sent me for an ultrasound.  I left the ultrasound without any answers and came home.  Wednesday morning, the pain was even worse.  I called my doctor and she scheduled a CT scan for that afternoon.

After the scan, I was asked to wait for the results.  While I was waiting, the radiologist and my physician were discussing my fate.  They felt I might have appendicitis.  I was whisked to the ER and blood was drawn and IVs were hooked up and tests were run.

After a physical exam from the ER doc, he felt it was an issue with my ovary, gave me  lots of pain meds and sent me home.  I was to take Thursday & Friday off of work, but he felt I should be back to normal soon.  He had no real explanation for the pain.

Thursday, I followed up with my doctor.  She feels that the pain is not typical and is concerned. She thinks it is probably still linked to my appendix and that it will need to be removed "soon" - whenever that might be.

So in the mean time, I'm loaded up on drugs and waiting to see what happens.  The pain is still very intense when I don't get my meds taken.  It's uncomfortable even with the meds in my system.

I'm very scared and worried.  This is like nothing I've ever gone through before and I don't like health issues this serious when I'm only 31 years old.  Part of me wants answers and part of me just wants it to go away.  I am asking you to pray for me; that I might find a peace in all of this craziness and trust the doctors and God's plan.

Thank you to all who called, stopped by, offered support and love, or took care of my kids in the last week.  Matt and I both really appreciate everything. 

***UPDATE*** posted 12/11/10 9:00pm
Shortly after writing this post, Matt and I decided I've been in intense pain for too long for this to be "ok".  We were supposed to spend the evening with my (wonderful) co-workers for our Christmas party, but instead, we ended up at the hospital. 

As I type this, I sit in the ER awaiting a bed upstairs.  I am being admitted to further investigate what is happening in my body.  Please continue to pray for me and my health.  Also, please pray for Matt and his patience with me as I'm very needy right now.  And please pray for the boys that they can be flexible during this time until we figure all this out.

Thank you.


Wednesday, December 8

support & understanding

I have been out of work all week for some intense pain. It started over the weekend in my lower left abdomen and I couldn't shake it. I don't normally take pills or medications, so I knew it was bad when I was standing at the sink contemplating how many Motrin I could take and still function.

Tonight, after several exams and tests, the doctors thought for a moment that I had appendicitis. That was a scary moment for me. I thought I was going into surgery just weeks before Christmas. That would have been quite the damper on my holiday!

It was in those moments of unknowing that Matt showed me how well he knows me. As he's sitting next to my hospital bed, he held my hand and didn't say a thing. With tears rolling down my face, he wiped them away and didn't ask questions. He just let me process and wait. He knows me so well. He has become an amazing best friend. Love you, babe.

Tuesday, December 7

That time of year...

We've started our advent calendar again this year.  Just like last year, I'm working in good act and not so much candy.  It's about every 3-4 days that they get a piece of candy.  We've watch a few Christmas movies and had hot cocoa so far, too.  This weekend, they are going shopping for a boy in need from our school.  They'll each make a gift choice for him with their own money. The following weekend, we'll be making treats for friends and family and delivering them. 

This stocking advent calendar has become one of favorite Christmas traditions; for me and the boys! 

Sunday, December 5

"Price is Born"

Maxwell and Payton have a Christmas performance at church next weekend.  They have both been practicing their songs quite a bit, but Maxwell really loves to sing the "Happy Birthday, Jesus" song.   (I apologize for the quality.  This was recorded on my cell phone.)

video

Saturday, December 4

Winter Photo Shoot: The Out Takes

Every year, my wonderful husband submits himself to family photos. I know he doesn't really care for the process, but he knows it's important to me, and our families. We use a friend of mine, Jessica Ericson, who is a great photographer. I love her work.

By now, everyone has seen the "best of" on facebook or in my picasa album. But some of the best photos are the out takes. The unpublishables. Yeah. My kids make great faces.