Words to Live and Write by

I am willing to fall Because I have learned how to rise.

I craft Love from heartbreak, Compassion from shame, Grace from disappointment, Courage from failure.

I am among the brave and brokenhearted, and I am rising strong.

(credit to Brene Brown)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

These Are The Days


Another eye-opening experience today, given to me by a wise, older lady:

Lana and I (meaning just I) decided to take advantage of any clearance deals at the local Payless and see if any of the out-of-season-therefore-on-super-clearance shoes in two sizes up were worth buying. I busied myself looking for good deals while Lana busied herself pulling tons of shoes in sizes way too small for her off the shelves, which meant I was hopping between sizes too big for her and sizes too small for her trying to keep things relatively tidy and somewhere in between all that helping her try on shoes in her actual size for her enjoyment. It was hard work. 

Then, after finding the one deal worth the investment (her next pair of church shoes), we waited at the counter for the single employee in the store to notice we were ready to leave, which meant I did a lot of picking up after Lana who'd taken great interest in all the sparkly jewelry and stuffed animal purses. 

That's when wise old lady friend approached me and said, "I wished I could have gotten a video of you two back there." (The toddler shoes are at the back of the store for a reason, I think.) She smiled really big, "Just the way you two were talking to each other and interacting. I remember that." 


I smiled back at her, taking a moment to see the chaos through her eyes. "Yeah," I finally said, "These are the days." And felt warm and fuzzy inside for a moment. 


But, because I was stressed and still grabbing things out of my child's kleptomaniac hands, I couldn't help adding, "The days that go by too quickly but also last forever."


Leave your thoughts and comments please!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas and Christ's Invitation to Become as a Little Child

Christmas and Christ's Invitation to Become as a Little Child

Scott E. Ferrin was a professor in the BYU Department of Educational and Leadership Foundations when this devotional address was given on 10 December 2013.


In conclusion, brothers and sisters—the Plausible Evasion Research Institute, an institute I made up, has found that “in conclusion” is the most welcome phrase for most audiences, after “there will be refreshments after this meeting.” So, in conclusion, I love Christmas and I love BYU devotionals. I am grateful to be with you, and my older siblings, graduates of BYU, are here, having traveled from Arizona and Idaho. They must have thought I was graduating today. I’m not saying my older siblings are old, but there were no history classes on campus when they attended, just current events. The deodorant Old Spice was then known as New Spice, and the Dead Sea was just mildly sick.
Since my academic focus is education law, and since much of that discipline and practice is focused on protecting the rights and persons of children, I’d like to discuss what it means in the perfect economy of the Lord’s kingdom to become as a little child. I believe Christmas and the birth of the Christ child help us explore this concept.
Becoming as a Little Child
When our Heavenly Father wanted to save the world, He didn’t take over a country or develop a militia. He sent a helpless child to a choice and worthy woman and a humble and believing man living in insecure circumstances in a conquered land occupied by a hostile force. The harsh geopolitical and military circumstances of Christ’s birth should remind us that Heavenly Father can bless us even if the external circumstances of our lives aren’t necessarily easy or peaceful.
Herod the Great ruled over that land, under Rome’s ultimate control. He was mighty and built magnificent monuments—at least one of which overshadowed the land when Christ was born, being visible in all directions for miles. We can’t help but contrast Herod’s mighty palace with the stable. If we knew for sure where the stable was, wouldn’t we wish to visit the site of that sacred birth? But who cares as much about anything Herod built, besides perhaps one or two of our learned faculty members? Most of us with a normal threshold for boredom ignore Herod.
Christ is infinitely more important. We seek Christ’s words and probably have many of His words memorized. Well, not everyone does apparently, because I’m always surprised on Jeopardy when those brainiacs often seem to know nothing about the scriptures. We Mormons, in turn, are continually lost on the “Potent Potables” category. We celebrate and rejoice in the words and the happenings of Christ’s birth. Does anyone, even the most bookishly versant among us, celebrate the words or circumstances of Herod and his birth?
The New Testament shows us something of the Christ child we celebrate at Christmas in the perfect young adult He has become. He hasn’t become full of Himself and self-important, careworn, and brusque. Although Isaiah described Him as “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3), Christ doesn’t constantly groan under the weight of His office. Rather, we read in Luke:
And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them.
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. [Luke 18:15–16; emphasis added]
When Christ says that “of such is the kingdom of God,” it is possible that He is also giving us a great insight into His nature and the nature of God and godliness. Christ continued and taught, “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein” (Luke 18:17).
We must “receive” the supernal Christmas gift of the kingdom of God as a little child. If you and I in our weakness follow the plan of happiness our Heavenly Father has established—made possible by the gift of His Son—we will receive the greatest gift possible: eternal life with our Heavenly Father. How are we to receive and value such a gift? Perhaps we receive and value it by living abundantly, by repenting and becoming converted, and by becoming as little children. Christ warned:
Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. . . .
And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. [Matthew 18:3, 5–6]
For our purposes I wonder if we shouldn’t each consider ourselves as one who might “offend one of these little ones” when we let the world destroy the believing and loving child within ourselves by being weighed down and frightened by the world and our responsibilities and challenges. Christ seems to call us to put off childish fears and instead be trustingly and courageously childlike.
I have a friend, Mossi White, who as an infant was one of the unwitting heroes of World War II. Mossi’s parents, and I guess Mossi herself, were part of the underground in Norway, and she acted as an unwitting secret courier carrying secret papers hidden in her diapers, where German soldiers were unlikely to look, for obvious reasons. Think of the fears her parents had to overcome. Had they developed what Christ meant when He asked us to develop a childlike nature? Is it possible that, in their childlike nature, Mossi’s parents couldn’t be frightened enough to accept that wrong was right or that there was nothing they could do to stop the evil of the Third Reich? Mossi’s father was later captured by the Gestapo and sent to a concentration camp in Poland, which he ultimately survived. Mossi’s parents saw evil, and they did what a beautiful child would do: they tried to make it all better.
Perhaps because she was raised by such parents Mossi has become a woman of great strength and courage today. She is a cancer survivor who served for years as president of the Provo School Board and as president of the American Association of School Boards, traveling and speaking extensively nationally and internationally, seeking only to bless the lives of children. Does Mossi’s parents’ situation and response remind us of the birth of the Christ child in a land and among a people oppressed by both military might and false tradition, just as Norway and the world were oppressed by the Third Reich?
Developing Childlike Wonder and Belief
Christmas gives us time to make memories in our quest for conversion to the childlike. I always tell my children, and I remind you, that we only get a finite number of Christmases on this earth, so we should enjoy each one and never get too mature to enjoy all the classic Christmas traditions, Christmas movies, and Christmas-themed jokes. (What did the snowman order at the restaurant? A hot chocolate and a mop. What did Santa call the reindeer that couldn’t fly? Venison.) I often invite my children to stop and consciously imprint a memory or a mental snapshot during Christmas, perhaps of a snow-covered mountain on the continental divide in New Mexico while cross-country skiing or of hiking to the top of a 12,000-foot peak in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Or, in the case of my sister Paula’s family, taking mental snapshots of scaring other family members by sending agents (and I have been that secret agent before) to leave a creepy snowman outside the front door of some lucky selected member of their family around the country. They open their front door to find this creepy snowman staring balefully, broodingly, and ominously at them.
I regularly enjoin my children to treasure and keep these mental snapshots from Christmas—and to not fear snowmen, a disorder labeled hominochionophobia. By the way, fear of Santa is the disorder labeled Claustrophobia.
I know Christmas is a mixed blessing for BYU students and professors. Beautiful Christmas lights appear, thanks to the efforts of our grounds crew on campus, but also worries over finals and final papers stalk the campus. Students are making plans to travel home, where they will dramatically collapse into their loved ones’ arms, withered husks of their former selves, blighted and trembling from stress and lack of sleep and appropriate nutrition during finals.
Christmas is really most wondrous for little children and for withered BYU students. I hope it is not shocking to reveal to my own daughters (the youngest is fifteen and the oldest is a BYU senior on a mission in Nicaragua) that on Christmas Eve, after we put out the horse feed in buckets for Santa’s reindeer, I was the one who emptied the buckets after they went to bed. What about childlike wonder and hope do we all try to preserve in ourselves and in our children through Christmas and its gentle deceptions? Is it a sense of wonder, a sense of the possible, as an antidote to fear? I suggest we all need to develop a sense of wonder as we ponder the Atonement and the childlike nature Christ wants each of us to develop.
I remember Christmases from my childhood, and they remind me of the love and preparation that my parents went through to provide great experiences for us at Christmas. To show my age, I remember a Christmas when I dearly wanted what some of my friends already had: J. C. Penney walkie-talkies. We used them to play army. Imagine the dim recesses of time before the cell phones and twittering you now experience. Contact was not constant then. I know there are some here managing text and twitter contacts even as I speak, arranging dates or Christmas travel or taunting a Yankees fan that the Red Sox won the World Series.
On that Christmas long ago in the sixties, I thought walkie-talkies cost so much that I had no hope of getting a set. When I got one, it was a miracle that I still remember with a little frisson of happiness. Almost immediately I went out with my friends on that Christmas day in Arizona to use our walkie-talkies to play army, as was our custom in those days, complete with gun sounds and medics who would attend to you after you had been wounded. Those medics would come up to the wounded and shamanistically wave their hands, muttering the magic words “Fix, fix, fix,” and you were back in the game.
I realize that acting out such a bloody scenario today could be seen as troubling and would violate most schools’ safe-school policies if it occurred during recess. Times have changed. Television in my childhood consisted of a grand total of three to five channels—one from Mexico showing bullfights and one an educational channel. Then prime time included weekly doses of the popular TV show Combat! with Vic Morrow, et al., or Twelve O’Clock High and other such shows based on World War II.
It’s a little different today. Today most of you don’t know that Jimmy Stewart, star of the Christmas classics Mr. Krueger’s Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life, served through the horrors of World War II as a wing commander flying B-17s with great courage and skill. Most of you were not raised by a decorated World War II combat veteran who saw and inflicted horrific death as a B-17 pilot, flying daylight bombing raids over Germany when he was younger than most of you. And yet after the hell that such parents and society had experienced, such men and women as my parents, and perhaps your grandparents or great-grandparents, through Christmas and throughout our lives, protected us and let us be children untouched by the horrors they had waded through. They even let us play war without scaring us too much about what it actually meant. They knew that Christ hasn’t promised we can avoid the horrors this world is capable of inflicting upon us. They also knew that we are to become as little children by choice, despite the world’s horrors.
Living Life with Childlike Courage
When you were a child, you probably also knew what you wanted for Christmas. Similarly, when you were asked what you wanted to be, you had wonderful plans. How has your career path changed since then? I don’t notice a plethora of cowboys, firemen, or Disney princesses on campus. When you were a child, did you say, “Well, I don’t know if I’m quite up to the preparation and entrance exams necessary to be a doctor or the physical preparation required to be a fireman”? Did you decide you couldn’t live on the low wages paid to cowboys?
To a child, at least to a healthy child who hasn’t been harmed by abuse, the world and Christmas itself are all still fresh and possible. So what happened to you and to me as we grew older, and, most important, what happened to us that Christ wants us to combat in our maturity in order to become as little children? Why do we tend to become stuffy scaredy-cats?
There’s nothing sadder than youth being wasted on the young. As an old guy, I admonish you young BYU students to not waste your youth and to not be big scaredy-cats. We’re supposed to become as little children, and that shouldn’t include a lot of fear about our future.
In heaven’s economy, true maturity is the conversion of becoming childlike. With all the duties and responsibilities that weigh him down, I’d submit that our prophet President Thomas S. Monson is a prototypical example of maturing into this childlike ideal:
I reiterate that, as holders of the priesthood of God, it is our duty to live our lives in such a way that we may be examples of righteousness for others to follow. As I have pondered how we might best provide such examples, I have thought of an experience I had some years ago while attending a stake conference. During the general session, I observed a young boy sitting with his family on the front row of the stake center. I was seated on the stand. As the meeting progressed, I began to notice that if I crossed one leg over the other, the young boy would do the same thing. If I reversed the motion and crossed the other leg, he would follow suit. I would put my hands in my lap, and he would do the same. I rested my chin in my hand, and he also did so. Whatever I did, he would imitate my actions. This continued until the time approached for me to address the congregation. I decided to put him to the test. I looked squarely at him, certain I had his attention, and then I wiggled my ears. He made a vain attempt to do the same, but I had him! He just couldn’t quite get his ears to wiggle. He turned to his father, who was sitting next to him, and whispered something to him. He pointed to his ears and then to me. As his father looked in my direction, obviously to see my ears wiggle, I sat solemnly with my arms folded, not moving a muscle. The father glanced back skeptically at his son, who looked slightly defeated. He finally gave me a sheepish grin and shrugged his shoulders. [“Examples of Righteousness,” Ensign, May 2008, 66]
I know only a little about the many challenges our prophet is faced with regularly, but I do know they are weighty, and yet he does not appear careworn and beaten by maturity into losing the child within. What can we learn about becoming as a little child from our beloved prophet?
I hope it isn’t inappropriate to say that my wife is not that mature. For one thing, she’s about the only person, outside of kindergarteners, who laughs reliably at my jokes. She has been a professor in Boston University’s School of Management and a highly paid consultant in the petroleum industry and in other management settings, including Boeing. Now she teaches kindergarten. One beautiful day she had the courage to say, “Although I like being a management consultant, what I really want to do is to teach kindergarten” (and be poor), so she made a major career change. You should see her in kindergarten. She reminds me of those Disney princesses when she is surrounded by her kindergarten kids. I expect to see singing birds and butterflies around her. Life is great in kindergarten, and you get to wear costumes at Halloween.
I invite us to become like her and like her kindergarteners, with their fresh and courageous approach to careers and the future.
I’d suggest, my young brothers and sisters, that you and I may have lost some hope as we’ve matured. Moroni said in Ether 12:32: “Wherefore man must hope, or he cannot receive an inheritance in the place which thou hast prepared.”
God hasn’t sent us here to fearfully creep through our lives and education. I suggest that even in our hardest classes we could act this out a bit more by worrying less about what the professor thinks is important or what will be on the test and by worrying more about exploring what we find fascinating in the subject matter of our classes—and by taking time to prepare to serve our fellows and our world. One day soon you’ll leave BYU—an extraordinary place. Will you have crept through this experience, preserving a businesslike GPA but not fostering childlike wonder and not making a powerful impact on hearts and individuals’ circumstances? Do you fear and tremble before graduate school entrance requirements? Without hope, you cannot be pleasing to God, and, as a little secret, without hope, curiosity, and wonder, you can’t really be too pleasing to your professors either.
Availing ourselves of hope, curiosity, and wonder, and adding faith to the mix, we should not choose too safe of a plan in our lives. We all know that if at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving is not your sport. I’m not suggesting risking anything that is likely to foreshorten your time in mortality. I am suggesting getting a little more childlike joy out of trying more things, even if they seem beyond us. I’m suggesting not being slavishly concerned about convention, future earnings, or society’s expectations if they run counter to the core of our best and most unique childlike nature individually. We need to be fearless and not fainthearted.
As a BYU student long ago, my brother-in-law was an example of fearlessness and not faintheartedness. Since the statute of limitations has run out, the story can now be told. In the dim recesses of time, when phones were rotary and thumbs were for hitchhiking, not texting, computers were huge and programs and data were entered into them on computer cards.
This gentleman, whom we’ll call Frank, because that’s his name, was an electrical engineering major here at BYU. The by-product of entering data onto computer cards then was that in punching them there were resulting leftover tiny bits of paper or cardstock.
Frank, and some undisclosed accomplices, collected and introduced this computer confetti, or chad, into the ventilating ducts of my sister’s BYU apartment so that later, when they turned on their cooler or heater fan, they would be greeted by a Christmas-like shower of paper snow. Unfortunately, such chad or confetti didn’t all come out at once. In fact, due to static electricity cling and the interactions of metal ducts and energized small bits of paper, there was a shower of confetti from then on every time the fans went on. I daresay that someone in this audience has just learned why the vents in their apartment still occasionally waft stray bits of computer-card chad gently onto their carpet.
Unsurprisingly, this greatly annoyed my sister’s roommates—who were not sufficiently childlike, I guess—but Frank’s pluck and daring warmed the cockles of my sister’s heart. The point is that although Frank may have exercised questionable judgment, it was kind of cool. He dared and he won the fair maid because his own heart was not faint. Now, President Samuelson and members of the campus law-enforcement and student-discipline community, I’m not advocating any types of pranks; it’s more a mind-set and a childlike courage I advocate.
A safer example may be my current colleague here at BYU, Chris Sorenson. When he was the principal of an elementary school here in Utah, a young man with a disability that confined him to a wheelchair appeared at his school with his parents to enroll. Chris wondered what class to assign him to. While the school secretary gave the boy and his parents a tour of the school, Chris privately knelt in his office and prayed about this student. He felt directed to assign him to the largest class, one already much larger than the other two sixth-grade classes. He didn’t know why; nevertheless, he took courage and trusted in the prompting he’d learned to recognize. He ignored the possible displeasure of a teacher with an already large class size. He ignored any other concerns, because he had learned not to fear when had received an answer in prayer.
To his surprise, when Chris walked this student to his new class, as soon as this new student wheeled into the class, he lit up and addressed the teacher by name, with evident relief and joy. Unknown to anyone at the school, the two knew each other well. That particular teacher had been a loved and trusted Scout leader in a previous ward, and the families had lost touch with each other. Taking the courage to seek and obey the Spirit’s prompting resulted in a successful start in a new school for a child who probably needed such a start.
Rising to Life’s Challenges as a Christlike Child
In our lives, perhaps we could in a like way overcome fear more, seek wonder more, follow the promptings of the Spirit more, and develop a bit more childlike tenacity in action and belief. Often we slink away from a challenge before we even rise to that challenge. We should consider aiming a bit higher than we are in our imagination, our love, our lives, and our academic pursuits.
As I think of rising to the challenges life provides us, I’m reminded of one of the authors of the book We Were Not Alone: How an LDS Family Survived World War II Berlin by Patricia Reece Roper and Karola Hilbert Reece. Karola Reece spoke to our youth in our ward some years ago. Her family suffered because they, as pioneer members of the Church in Berlin, didn’t fully join and support the Nazi Party. Her father had difficulty getting work since he was not a member of the Nazi Party. Later her brother was drafted into the military and was put on the Russian front. He made his own private covenant with God that he would not take a life for “Hitler’s war,” as he put it.
When Russian soldiers approached his foxhole from time to time in advances on the Russian front, he would shoot to the right or to the left or into the ground, but he would not shoot at his fellow humans for Hitler. This was his own decision, and I’m not criticizing any others who made different decisions in that war or in other wars. He and his fellow soldiers often would laugh and say, “Hey, what’s wrong with us?” because repeatedly his portion of the lines would be ignored and not attacked. He survived the war without taking a single life in a cause he did not support. This also exemplifies to me the childlike nature we are asked to develop—of courage and of deciding not to collaborate with something the child within us feels is wrong.
As a further example of rising to life’s challenges as a Christlike child, I’m reminded of one of my father’s experiences in World War II. He was the pilot of a B-17, flying daylight bombing raids over Germany and experiencing and inflicting horrific deaths when he was younger than almost everyone here. Thanks, Dad, to you and to other men and women like you. At one point, after completing a bombing run over Germany, his formation was attacked by German fighters and flack, and his plane lost an engine. This meant that the rest of the formation had to leave them behind since they could not keep up. They knew full well that they would probably be killed because they had lost the protection of the interlocking fields of fire and the protection that a formation with its many guns provided. Then they lost a second engine. B-17s weren’t necessarily able to fly with only two engines, but my dad broke the throttle quadrant and could over-rev the engines, buying time for some airspeed and altitude.
The fighters swarmed to this lone plane, ready to finish it off with relative ease away from the protection of the other gunners and planes. Dad began to pray, and he also thought, “Dad, pray for me.”
In the Gila Valley in Arizona, his father—my grandfather—Ether Samuel Ferrin, got his wife and said, “Leven’s in trouble. We need to pray for him.” They knelt in humble prayer for his safety far across the world. These discrete actors’ stories were obviously pieced together later. My Dad recounts that when they were sure they were going to be destroyed, it seemed as if they suddenly became invisible to the fighters, which would just fly past.
They were able to return home to England with that plane, which Dad safely landed. After that the plane was useless in the war effort. The ground crew presented Dad with the placard from that now useless B-17. He has that placard in his home in the Gila Valley today. The key point for me in recounting this story is that as a courageous child, my father not only prayed but cried out for his father to be alerted and pray as well, because he knew and believed in his father’s faith.
Fostering the Child of God Within Us
So what manner of child ought we to become this Christmas season? As King Benjamin counseled, “Submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [us], even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19). He didn’t counsel us to be fearful or to settle for a safe but boring job or career instead of a challenging and exciting mission in life. I submit that we should be ready to be cowboys if that is what our hearts and the Spirit dictate—or kindergarten teachers or doctors or molecular biologists—and we should live our lives with courage and submission to the Lord.
This Christmas season I invite each of us to foster and care more for the child of God within us and bend to the exigencies of life and finances less—to take joy in the wonderful and simple journey to be the child that is like those who make up the kingdom of God. Paul reminded us in Romans 8:15, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”
May we trust our Father and develop the childlike attributes Christ and our prophet exemplify. May we cry out “Abba, Father,” lovingly in words and action during this Christmas season, during our academic careers at BYU, and throughout our lives as joint heirs with Christ, I pray, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.
© Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.


Leave your thoughts and comments please!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Bee Still

Here's a radical idea: What if what I'm doing now, as little or simple as it seems, is truly all I'm supposed to be doing right now?

I'm trying to wrap my brain around this. I've been frustrated with God lately because no matter how long or how hard or how often I pray, He's staying tight-lipped, silent. I know I'm not out of touch with His Spirit, because I feel that, confirming truths and moving my soul (just never moving it to action), so I know I'm in a good place. And I know God hears me, but He just isn't answering. 


I finally got myself to the temple last week and had a few moments to myself and told God to just say something. Tell me anything. I felt peace and calm, but received no directions. Later that week, I explained to Anthony, again, how frustrated I am with the situation. And I asked if he thought it would be inappropriate to ask for a blessing with this. I told him, I know God speaks through Priesthood blessings, and if I can't get Him to talk directly to me, maybe I can get Him to talk to someone else for me.


So we did that. And I am so enormously thankful for my husband who knows how to give a blessing of comfort as I need it - he WAITS until he knows what he needs to say, and I love the long pauses because I know he's listening so hard with his own spirit and heart for the right words. 


The overall message God sent to me was, "It's alright. You are doing enough. I'm not going to ask you for any more than what you are doing right now, so just stop fretting and trust me. I'll tell you when you need to get moving again." (It may have come across with a feeling that added a bit more of a "knock it off" flavor to it all.)


In this gospel, where we're so frequently called to be anxiously engaged in good causes, to find service opportunities and missionary opportunities, to be busy, busy, busy like the Deseret bee, being told not to do any more feels a little radical and frankly, too good to be true. But I felt it as truth. And now I'm trying to accept that as my truth right now. 


It's hard to accept what I'm doing as enough. It feels so meager. Physical, mental, and emotional taxation runs high for me, and a lot of my hardest work is resting. Rest and sleep don't look much like hard work, but I am fighting to recover my body and that is part of what it takes.I have a lot of projects, big and small, being pushed aside for later because I don't have the stamina. I'm dragging myself through most days. And yet, somehow, knowing what kind of condition I'm in, I STILL feel like I need to be that Deseret bee.
But the answer is no. Don't be a bee. Still the bees. Be still.




Leave your thoughts and comments please!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bruised

I did that thing they kept telling me not to do, called "standing up," and it was totally easy. So I thought I could take it to the next level - literally, by standing up on a chair - because nothing says "I am so over being sick" like Halloween decorations and cobwebs with spiders hanging from the ceiling around your front door, and since I am only 5 feet tall the ceiling is at least an-arm-and-a chair's-length away from me. Inevitably, the thing they kept warning me about standing up happened. I fell.

It wasn't a slip-and-land-on-your-feet fall. While stretched out on my toes, on the edge of the chair, I lost all vision and muscle control, but not awareness and not sensation. One second I was working my hardest to get that pin to stick, and the next I was toppling sideways and knocking the back of my head on the edge of the kitchen counter and landing soundly on the floor on my hip without any brace for impact. I screamed as sight flooded in just behind the pain and saw my dazed husband dash across the room. And then, Pain. There was no blood, but a lot of pain, which is probably how I convinced my husband I didn't need to get medical attention, and now it's some four days later. I'm not sure of all I did in those four days, but I know I talked to several people on the phone, drove my car, and even kept appointments; I have a lot of piece-meal memories that I can't string together linearly. I remember the moments of trauma and ones preceding and following it, but there isn't the usual coherency between them. My souvenirs are a sensitive place on my head that I keep forgetting about and an enormous bruise on my hip.

I think this sort of sums up the life experiences I'm supposed to have learned "the hard way." I think the hard way is about as hard as the floor, maybe harder, and regardless of how hard I knocked myself upside the head those experiences don't stay. I remember them about as well as I remember hitting my head: yeah, it hurt, a lot, but if it weren't for my bruises the memories would be as fleeting anything else. So when I share a story and point to my bruises, you can bet I only retain the lesson for as long as my body is still actually bruised; after that, it's just a story. And this is a really good analogy, but I can't quite clear the cobwebs out of my head enough for it to make sense.


I'm bruised enough to remember not to stand on chairs, and dazed enough to still believe it. In a week, I will tell you I know not to stand on chairs, but I'll do it anyway.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Truth-Telling

I've had many reactions to how and what I write on my blog. I write about real things - some sweet, some funny, and lot of messy and hard. I write my stories - real ones. When you read one of my posts, you are seeing a part of me that most people don't - you see the strong me, the scared me, the proud me, the imperfect me - you get to read my life as an open book.



"They tell us from the time we're young to hide the things that we don't like about ourselves, inside ourselves... Well I'm over it. I don't care if the world knows what my secrets are. So what?"

It was so hard for me to open up and be brave and honest and real and raw at first. It was scary. It's scary to show the world your weaknesses, your vulnerabilities! But I found it to be so relieving. I don't go around all day telling everyone about my troubles - that would be annoying. But I write about them. I write about my truths - the good and the bad.
 
I've found there are precisely three reactions to daring truth-telling: 1) The appreciators, the ones who say "me, too!" or feel a little bit better about their messy life because they're not alone in imperfection. 2) The ones who just don't know what to do with my truth. They back away from me, and that's okay. 3) The defenders, the ones who feel my writing strikes too close to home, or gives a voice to demons that they don't want to acknowledge. They feel the need to protect themselves and often do it with criticism; I've come to understand that that criticism has nothing to do with me, really, and everything to do with the defenders.

 
In the end, brave honesty shows me who can be a good friend to me and who to avoid sharing truths with. And it's okay that some people back away - I'm messy and some people can't handle messy. It's also more enlivening and more honest than going around always saying, "I'm fine" even if I'm not.




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Sunday, October 19, 2014

All dogs (and people) go to heaven

 Recently, I shared this video on Facebook. It is a simple explanation of what we - members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (nicknamed "Mormons") - consider to be sacred and holy clothing. Like symbolic robes or garments worn in many other religions, they serve to remind us of our covenants and commitments to God.



Note: the one thing they didn't include that I wish they had is that when we are in the Temple, we wear the Temple Robes OVER other white clothes - women white skirts or dresses and men white shirts, tie, and pants. We don't wear just the robe.


THEN I was asked this great question from an extended family member, born, raised, and proud of being Catholic. The question was: Hearing that the Mormons think they r the only ones to go to heaven is that true??

I tried to give a simple but full answer. It was later requested that I post my answer to my blog for future reference. So, here is my answer to her question - do Mormons believe only they go to heaven?

Not even close to true. But it is a good question, so here's my best attempt at a simple answer.
 
Our faith actually doesn't believe in hell in the traditional sense. We believe there are three "degrees" of heaven, like the difference between the stars, moon, and sun. Depending on our faithfulness and acceptance of Christ's gospel and atonement (which can also happen after death - everyone gets an equal opportunity to hear and accept or reject Christ's gospel), we will go to one of the three heavens. The highest degree of heaven is where Heavenly Father and Christ live - so that is our ultimate goal. But no matter what we do in this life or the next, we all get to go to a heaven that is better and more beautiful than the world we live in now.

 
It is true that we believe the "keys" we need to enter the highest degree of heaven are given in our temples, and we keep them sacred (not secret - we want everyone to have a chance to receive them, which is why we send out so many missionaries to share our faith). 

 
Because our temples are literally houses of God, we believe we can only enter when we are our best selves (not perfect), doing our best to keep God's commandments, and, yes, active and believing in the LDS faith. There would be no point in entering an LDS temple unless you believed in its purpose
, which is to give us those keys to heaven, and seal the bonds of family - husband, wife, parent, child - together eternally. No 'til death do us part - the promise is forever
 
Finally, because God is perfectly just and perfectly merciful, he allows every single person the opportunity to gain these keys and eternal family. That is why we perform the ordinances like baptism by proxy (in physical place for someone who's passed on) in the temples for ancestors and others who have lived and died before us. They do not have to accept these ordinances, God will never force anyone to do it, but we do our best to ensure everyone gets the chance to make their own choice.
 


Don't ever be afraid to ask me about my faith. I am so happy to answer questions, and I always try to do it respectfully and simply. And I will never put any pressure on you to change your own religious beliefs and practices. I just think it's always best when we know the truths about each other. 



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Friday, October 17, 2014

Messy IS Beauiful

I still love Glennon's word "brutiful." It describes life and relationships so entirely. Love this little video where she explains brutiful:
 


 "The messiest parts of our lives are also the best parts of our lives, always. The beauty is in the mess."

(I just love Glennon - she is my truth-speaker.)

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Eyes to See

 Broke my heart open at Costco today.

I went to pick up an rx and wet wipes and nothing else (the "nothing else" was very important and very hard because the wet wipes are at the verrry back, past all the delicious, easy, pre-made meals). Pushing a cart carrying Lana and a box of wipes that weighs as much or more than her is tough for me right now - but I can do it because I can NOT do no wet wipes - and I was panting by the time we got out the door.

Then, I notice a little old lady get out of her car, pulled up next to the doors, hobbling like one leg was in enormous pain, and she opens her trunk and walks over to her cart piled so high I have no idea how she pushed that around. And my heart ached, and I said out loud to no one, "Oh, Honey!" Because I know what that's like, literally. 

I peek into the car to see if a husband or someone is with her. Nope. And then I watch, panting and slowly pushing my cart away, as person after person, able-bodied man after man, passed RIGHT BY HER. And no one stopped. Some looked and turned their heads, but kept on walking. And my heart just BROKE. Why was no one helping her???
So I turn my cart around and walk up to her and ask if she needs help, and can I help her load her groceries into her car. (My body was insisting that it was impossible for me to do that much work, but my heart was demanding that it was impossible to leave her like that.) She said, "Bless your heart." but wouldn't let me help. "There was supposed to be someone here to help me." I looked around again - no one coming to her, none of the employees paying any attention to her.

So I turn my cart around again, really panting now, and go to the employee at the door and tell her someone needs to help that lady. She radioed for someone. I asked her how long it would take. She shrugged and said it would be several minutes because none of the cart-helpers had radios on them. (What was the point of radioing?) I frowned a little at her, Lana held up our smiley-face-marked receipt showing we'd paid for wet wipes, and finally she called out to another employee close by to ask him to help the tiny old lady load her car. And I waited there until I was sure he was doing it.

And then I panted and pushed my cart towards my car again, nearly in tears wondering how on earth this lady was going to UNload her groceries. But there's only so much I could do, so I said a prayer for her, and prayed some of those people who passed by would learn how to look around and SEE. Maybe that's part of what Jesus meant when he said, "Those who have eyes to see, let them see." I wonder.



 And now I'm at home, breathing better, and letting Lana watch "Go Diego, go!" because he's less annoying than Dora. And I just heard, in the theme song, "Helping out each other is good for everyone." I think maybe they should play that on the radio now and drive us all insane because we can't get the lyrics out of our heads, but at least we'd know that "helping out each other is good for everyone."






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Sunday, September 28, 2014

He Lets It Rain

"Sometimes He Lets it Rain"






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Monday, September 15, 2014

I Know What We Did Last Summer

 What a summer we have had! We did and learned a lot of new things - things we'd never heard of.

 June was a good month for us. The weather was getting warmer and the sun began making appearances. Lana, an Oregonian from birth, didn't know what to do on those blue-sky sunny days. Whenever we went outside or drove in the car she would shield her eyes with her hand and say, "Mommy turn it down. Mommy, turn the light off." I just told her that mommy didn't have that power and she'd have to talk to Someone bigger about it. Sometimes it even seemed to work. The weather flipped unpredictably between sunny, cloudy, rainy, and windy.

Not my backyard
 One particularly windy night we heard a loud crash outside - we peered into the dark, trying to see if a tree had fallen, but saw nothing until the next morning. You should know that Oregon knows how to grow trees - big trees everywhere, trees so tall sometimes you can hardly see the top. One of my favorite things about my backyard is that it is surrounded by these giant trees; you forget you live in the suburbs or that you have neighbors behind you at all. (That is until, much to my annoyance, one of our backyard neighbors decided to have all their trees removed. Now there's a gap.) In the morning we looked out back and saw that a tree from our neighbor's yard had fallen and landed across our shed. Fortunately, no damage to the shed was done and we just had to find a way to remove the tree. That's when the Elders' Quorum becomes very useful. Within a day or two, while Lana and I were out running errands, several guys came over and speedily and tidily removed the tree - a big tree - from off our shed and out of our neighbor's yard, too, leaving nothing behind but a small stack of usable firewood. What a blessing. It would be the first of many times we could call on members of our church to help, and they always responded quickly, quietly, and graciously.

 The moody weather seemed to have an effect on Anthony. Some mornings he would wake up with stiff, sore muscles, as if he'd overdone a work-out the day before. But as he moved around and warmed up his muscles the soreness would go away, so we didn't think much about it. It was a warning sign we didn't even know to watch for.

Neskowin, OR
 We wanted to do something fun to celebrate my 29th birthday in July and our 9th wedding anniversary in August, but we didn't know what we'd do. Some lovely friends from church offered to let us stay in their condo by the beach for a weekend at the end of June. And another lovely couple stayed with Lana and Ajax. It was our first time ever away from Lana for more than a couple hours. The beach we went to was remote and quiet (the town had a population less than 200 if I remember correctly), and the condo was absolutely beautiful. Because of the remote location, cell phone service was spotty and we didn't have internet service. So we had two whole days and nights entirely to ourselves. What a treat! We had forgotten just how much time there is in a day, and just how bored we could get. But we soaked in the ocean view (too cold to get in the water) and enjoyed just lounging around together with nothing to do but enjoy each others' company. We came home feeling so refreshed.

 We tried showing Lana some small fireworks for the Fourth of July, but the sun hadn't gone down and she was less than impressed. One of the sparklers dropped a small spark on her foot and she has a tiny scar from the burn. Poor baby.

 Then the real fun started. One week after the fireworks flop, Anthony woke up again with sore muscles. He thought he'd get up and work the soreness out, but as he shifted his weight to stand up his legs collapsed beneath him. Not only did they collapse, but he couldn't move them at all. He tried to pull himself back onto the bed using his arms, but they were weak, too. He could hardly close his hand enough to even grip the mattress or blanket. He hollered at me to wake up and help him. I was bewildered - I had no idea what was happening to him. And, being as petite as I am, it wasn't like I could lift him off the floor. Between his efforts with weak arms and me throwing everything I had into lifting up his lower body, we managed to get him back on the bed. But what to do then? We phoned an advice nurse, who also had no explanation, but said, "Get him to the ER now. Call an ambulance if he can't move." We asked how much our co-pay for an ambulance was, remembered how empty our accounts were, and tried another plan.

 We live close to my parents. It's maybe a four-minute drive, IF you get stopped at both lights. So I called for my dad to come help me get Anthony into the car. Less than four minutes later he was at my door, and, to my surprise, my brother Seth was with him. Seth lives with his family in Texas, but just happened to be up here on a short business trip. This was very fortunate, because Anthony was losing muscle control quickly and we needed two men to get him to the car. My mom came to take care of Lana while I drove Anthony to the hospital. Just before we left, we called on our nearest Priesthood holder (about four houses away) to come over and, together with my dad, quickly give Anthony a blessing. It was reassuring, and although we didn't know what would happen, we knew God was with us.

 We drove to our closest Kaiser hospital (where we're insured). In hindsight, that wasn't wise - it takes about 20 minutes to get there by freeway, IF there's no traffic; otherwise it can take an hour. Miraculously, even though it was time for morning rush hour there was no traffic. Had we known just how serious Anthony's condition was, we would have rushed him to the local hospital, five minutes away, because our insurance will cover that in emergencies.
  When we got to the ER we saw another miracle. There was absolutely no one waiting in the lobby. We've been to that ER (always for me) too many times to count and there is always a wait. But this time some aides rushed out to help Anthony into a wheelchair and took him straight back to a room. By this point, Anthony could barely move at all. The nurses and doctors came faster than I'd ever seen in an ER (the wait is dreadful), took his vitals and got an IV to begin hydrating him. They always hydrate because most people go around somewhat dehydrated all the time. Only a couple minutes later the doctor hurried back with some blood test results. He looked at Anthony and simply said, "I don't know how you're still alive." He explained that Anthony's potassium level was a 1.7.

 Here's the thing about potassium, from my very limited understanding: It is an electrolyte that, along with magnesium, controls the muscles in our bodies. Basically, magnesium relaxes muscles and potassium tightens them. There needs to be a proper balance of the two so we can tighten our muscles to move them and then relax them from that position. I don't know what they use to measure the levels, but a healthy range for potassium is right around 4. If it drops to a 3, doctors get nervous and you need intravenous potassium to raise the level. They had to balance my electrolytes a lot when I was pregnant because I kept losing them with my eight months of continual vomiting. When they had to replace potassium, they moved me to a wing where they could monitor my heart constantly because too much potassium too fast can be bad news for the heart.

 Here is what was happening to Anthony: His potassium level had dropped so low that he could no longer constrict his muscles: Here's why the doctor couldn't believe Anthony was still alive. The heart is a muscle, and it needs potassium to constrict and pump blood through the body. Without enough potassium the heart cannot beat.  Also, the diaphragm is a muscle, too. It needs potassium to move itself, and its movements are what move air into and out of our lungs. The fact that Anthony's heart was still beating and that he was still breathing was, again, nothing short of a miracle.

 They began pumping potassium into his IV immediately and transferred him to the ICU. Once he was settled and stabilized, or so we thought, I hurried home to check on Lana and grab a few things we'd want for a hospital stay - we didn't know how long we'd be there. Then I drove back to the hospital. As soon as I entered the ICU wing, Anthony's nurse came running towards me. "Before you go in," she said, "you need to be prepared. The situation has changed." Those are NOT the words you want to hear. I braced myself. She explained that despite the IV potassium, Anthony's levels were continuing to drop. His potassium was down to a 1.5. He was losing coherency and they couldn't get him to respond anymore. I made a quick translation in my mind: "We're losing him."

 I walked into that ICU room feeling numb. I think I was in a bit of shock. I couldn't process what I had been told. I pulled a chair close and gripped Anthony's limp hand. "I'm here," I said. He opened his eyes and focused briefly on me, and then he was gone again. I kept holding his hand, praying with no words, just the screaming of my heart. I didn't see any future, only that moment, trying desperately to hold him here. I've been in the hospital bed so many times and Anthony has always been the one in the chair. I never realized just how HARD it is to be in that chair.

 The ICU doctors and nurses knew the IV in Anthony's arm was insufficient. He needed more potassium and he needed it fast. The risk to his heart and life was far greater in his current state than if they rushed potassium into his body quickly. There was one way to do that - they needed a bigger vein, and one that went straight to his heart - they needed an IV in his neck. They had me leave the room for the procedure - it was very bloody. I called my sister as I waited; she is studying to become a paramedic, and her response was, "Oh, I am so jealous! I've always wanted to do one of those. I mean, sorry, this is hard, but it's also really cool." Some of the nurses thought so, too; apparently it is a rare thing.

 The day was late by then. Anthony was still unresponsive. I knew we'd be there overnight and there was no way I was leaving him. I called our home teacher and asked if he and his wife could stay at our home with Lana. They did and Lana took it all in stride. Later, they would tell me that they had had plans to go out that night, but as they were getting ready to leave they both felt strongly that they should cancel and stay home. It was less than half an hour later that I called. Another miracle.

 Anthony's nurse found the one and only reclining chair in the ICU and brought it into his room so I could sleep there. When I was in the ICU during my pregnancy, I couldn't have visitors, not even Anthony, unless my breathing tube was out and he stayed awake. I'd heard from other people that sleeping in an ICU room was not allowed. When I asked the nurse about it, she said that in some cases the patient did better with a loved one nearby. I think she also feared that those minutes might be the last I had with him. I thought about the possibility then, the possibility that Anthony might die - I forced myself to consider it. But something inside me firmly said, "NO." No, I wasn't going to lose him. Everything was going to be alright. And such a feeling of peace and calm filled me that I couldn't be afraid.

 We had more friends from church, more Priesthood holders, come to give Anthony a blessing of healing. Then the night began. The nurse would come and check on Anthony often; I woke up each time to see if there was any progress. Then it was Anthony's voice that woke me. He was awake; still paralyzed, but awake and alert. Over the next several hours he progressively got better. First, he could wiggle his toes and fingers. Then he could lift his hand off the bed,. He could scratch his own nose. He could move everything and, aside from the IV in his neck, he felt completely normal by about 4:00 a.m.

 He went back to sleep - a safe sleep now - and I wrote a few updates about his condition on Facebook so our families and friends would know. By morning, Anthony's potassium level was even a little high. He was transferred to another wing and discharged that afternoon.

 A follow-up visit with a specialist gave us the answer to why all this had happened. Anthony has a form of hyperthyroidism called Graves' Disease. Yeah, we'd never heard of it either. An overactive thyroid is common enough; Graves' Disease is one form with some specific symptoms. The word "disease" bugs us a little because it's not something you catch like the flu; it's just something your body does that is beyond your control. Anyway, when the thyroid is producing too much of its thyroid hormone it can deplete potassium, hence Anthony's low potassium level. The hypokalemic (low-potassium) paralysis is actually rather rare and usually only happens to Asian males (no idea why). Anthony is 1/4 Filipino and his doctor said that was Asian enough. Whatever the reason, the paralysis is periodic so we can expect it to happen again, only this time we know the warning signs. For now, Anthony takes and is weaning off of a beta-blocker to control his thyroid and has potassium pills he takes whenever he gets that sore, weak muscle warning sign.

  So we survived July with a reasonable co-pay for a very expensive hospital stay. (Anthony's bill was around $12K. I still take the cake with my month-long pregnancy bill of $160K.) We are so grateful for health insurance!

 Begin August. We had a family reunion planned with all five of my parents' children and families coming to visit. So, naturally, a couple days before relatives began arriving, our one and only car decided it needed more attention. (Seriously, this is one needy car.) It started to stink of gasoline fumes when I drove it and make some unpleasant grinding sound. Now I know pretty much nothing when it comes to cars, but even I realized that gasoline fumes and a hot engine in hot weather is bad news. So the car went to the shop. The told us what was wrong, I didn't understand a word of it, and it took time and $700 to fix. Joy. We had to borrow my parents' second car for nearly a week, including during the family reunion weekend.

 Lana loved having cousins around to play with. I don't think she understands what a cousin is, but she sure loved them. She is the youngest of my parents' seven grandchildren. She instantly took to her nine-year-old cousin Ciara, and followed her pretty much everywhere. We all went to OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and... something that begins with an I) and Lana's favorite exhibit was of the dinosaurs. We enjoyed it, too - life-size moving models with lots of information. Apparently, now they have evidence that a lot of dinosaurs had feathers or even fur - they sure look different than the stuff I saw growing up. Every time Lana saw a new dinosaur she would make a very dramatic gasp. She started saying, "The dinosaur is very hungry." And maybe she was right., She also said, especially about the T-Rex, "It wants to hurt me." I was nervous about nightmares at that point, but our little girl is tough.

 Oh, and in the meantime, I'd seen a throat specialist because I'd had a terribly sore throat for weeks - I could barely swallow it was so painful. But it wasn't Strep and it wasn't Mono, and the specialist just said, "Hmm. I've never seen something like that before." He actually left the room for about fifteen minutes to do some research and came back saying, "Nope. No idea." Figures. I'm usually the medical anomaly. So, just to "see what happens," the specialist put me on amoxicillin, a strong antibiotic. If it was an infection it would clear up; if it really was Mono, I'd get a rash and then we'd know for sure. Because that's sound medical practice.
  
 Well, we got our car back, family went home, and I dutifully finished my whole course of antibiotics. Antibiotics always give me diarrhea and one or two other unpleasant symptoms. Only this time the diarrhea was another warning sign we didn't even know to watch for. After finishing the antibiotics, my throat pain came back, but it was nothing compared to the sudden onslaught of constant, hourly diarrhea and abdominal pain. I thought the diarrhea was leftover antibiotic fun, but the pain worried me. I was able to identify some of the pain as an ovarian cyst - I've had so many that I'm very familiar with the pain - and since it was on my last functioning ovary, we were a bit concerned.
 The pain escalated terribly and eventually it was my turn for an ER visit. (I couldn't let Anthony have all the fun.) There, they tried to get an IV to start hydrating me, as always, but they couldn't get one in. The diarrhea had dehydrated me so severely that it took more than a dozen painful needle pokes and wiggles before they had an IV. My arms and hands were bruised for weeks from all the veins they'd punctured. Then they sent me for an ultrasound to check on my ovary. Yes, there was a cyst right where I said it was. But it was a normal size, my ovary was a normal size, and the blood flow to my ovary looked fine, too.

 But I have a history, you see. Remember my pregnancy and that hyper-stimulated ovary? It had three enormous cysts (each 8 cm in diameter) and swelled to five times its normal size (15 cm - normal is 3 or so). And then it twisted - ovarian torsion - which cut off the blood supply to the organ so it died and became toxic, not to mention the most painful thing I have ever experienced. They had to do emergency surgery on me, seven months pregnant, to cut out the dead ovary. It has grown back since. Yeah, we didn't know that could happen either. So the doctors decided maybe they wanted to do surgery to look and "just check" that my ovary wasn't twisting. I said, "NO WAY!" I'd had an ovarian torsion before, I knew that pain, and this wasn't it. This pain spread across my whole abdomen, it was not an ovarian problem. They didn't believe me. We were at an impasse. I wouldn't let them do the surgery and they couldn't let me go home with my vitals the way they were. Oh, I forgot to mention my vitals. My blood pressure was super low and my heart rate was super fast, which basically meant my heart was working overtime trying to pump blood that just wasn't there.

 So they admitted me to the hospital with strict no food or liquid orders because they still wanted to do the surgery. I was starving and my mouth felt like sandpaper, but there was no way they were touching my ovary - it's our only chance of ever having another child, and even then it's not a good chance. They took more vitals, more blood for testing, and sample of my stool (ahem, diarrhea - I did not envy my nurse that job). A few hours later my doctor came by to let me know I'd tested positive for C. Diff. Yeah, we'd never heard of that either.

 C. Diff is, in my limited understanding, bacteria normally occurring, even in newborn colons. It's not nice bacteria, but our bodies have healthy bacteria in our colons that protect against it, so people can pick up the nasty bacteria and pass it through their systems without ever knowing it was there. But - there's always a but - IF a person's natural immunity and healthy bacteria are compromised, like what happens when on heavy antibiotics, and that person happens to come in contact with C. Diff., there is a 1 in 1000 chance that they will become very ill, and if not treated quickly and correctly the illness can be fatal,. And, of course, I am that 1 in 1000 people. It's impossible to know when or where a person picks up C. Diff. The bacteria creates airborne spores that attach to everything, clothes, skin, walls, etc., and can live for months or even years just waiting to be picked up. The only thing that can kill it is bleach. It is a big problem in hospitals because those airborne spores can travel on anyone, anywhere, try as they might to isolate an infected person. The alcohol hand sanitizer the nurses and doctors use whenever they enter your room can't kill C. Diff. (You feel safe now, don't you?)

 So, being that rare case, the theory is this: I spent time in the hospital with Anthony, picked up C. Diff. there, and then started antibiotics a couple days later, killing off my body's natural defenses. That gave C. Diff. the chance to essentially shred the lining of my colon and cause severe pain and diarrhea, and it had been doing this for weeks before we figured it out. Yay. To treat it meant more antibiotics, a few days in hospital attempting to rehydrate me, and then a lot of rest at home. I spent two whole weeks in bed, so exhausted I couldn't do anything but sleep because my body was fighting SO hard. Also, the disease and dehydration can cause bouts of incoherency or delirium, so there were many times that I'd stumble out of bed and do things I wouldn't remember, or make phone calls to people without making any sense, or have long conversations with Anthony with slurred speech and no coherency to what I was saying. I don't remember most of those weeks.

 Once again, our church stepped in quickly to help us. Anthony made one phone call and we had two weeks lined up so someone would take Lana to play at their house every morning while I slept - Anthony would use his lunch break to put her down for a nap, and I only had to be awake for an hour or so before he got home - and we had dinners delivered to us every night for those two weeks. The support we had was incredible. I don't know how we would have survived those weeks without it.

 Thus began September. Fall is coming, but our summer fun wasn't over yet. We needed one final hurrah, I guess. After the antibiotics for the C. Diff. were finished my body sort of over-corrected and I got constipation. Not for long though, because one evening I managed to push several inches of my colon outside my body. Yeah, we didn't know that could happen either. It's called a colon prolapse. I was panicking - who wouldn't? - and there was no way, given the situation, that I could sit in a car to go to a hospital. This time we had no choice but to call for an ambulance.

 It was our first experience with paramedics and an ambulance, and it was humiliating. Anthony, ever my hero, had managed to get me lying face-down on the floor with naught but a towel covering my rear end and, uh, problem. The ambulance came, lights, sirens, and all, along with a firetruck. Two very helpful paramedics and a whole truck full of very bored firemen crowded into my bedroom and I was in such an embarrassing situation. The female paramedic promised they'd try to preserve my decency as much as possible; "It's just me and a bunch of guys," she said, as if that was reassuring. It's a good thing I was face-down and never saw more than anyone's knees, because, although I'm sure they've seen worse, I wouldn't want to recognize their face if ever I saw them in public. You know that female fantasy of being rescued by a hot fireman and carried to safety? Well, I don't have that fantasy, but this was pretty much the worst way I can imagine meeting a fireman.

 The paramedics managed to slide a tarp beneath me and carry me out of the house, strap me onto a gurney, and get me into the ambulance. We'd had just enough time before they arrived to call my parents yet again to come stay with Lana. Once in the ambulance the paramedic began putting an IV in my arm. I said, "They could only use the smallest size in the hospital and it was really hard for them to find a vein." He pulled out a larger needle and simply replied, "That's because it wasn't me." One poke in a moving vehicle and I had my IV. I told my sister about it later because I knew it would make her proud.

 In the ER, in a lot of pain in case I failed to mention how painful a prolapsed colon is, the doctor explained that he could fix it easily. How? Push it back where it belongs. "It's going to hurt like hell," he told me, "but then it won't hurt anymore." I looked at Anthony, he gripped my hand, and I said, "Do it." It hurt like hell. The doctor asked if I felt better. Through clenched teeth I answered, "It's very hard to say." It still hurt like hell, but at least everything felt like it was where it should be. Some pain-killers for me and home we went. After the C. Diff. and the prolapse I was terrified of ever using the toilet again. I'm still working on that one, but I'm getting better.

 We expect more hospital bills and ambulance bills soon. I can't say we're excited because we have no way to pay them. We'd need another miracle for that one. But we are so, so grateful that we had access to health care when we needed it.

 That brings us up to date. Summer is finally ending. Anthony needs his potassium supplements less and less often. I'm recovering, albeit slowly, from my battle with C. Diff. I'm still exhausted just by walking from one end of our small house to the other, but hey, at least I'm out of bed. Recovery time varies and can sometimes take up to a year before a person feels "normal" again after C. Diff. We're at the one month mark, so I'm I'm trying to be forgiving of my invalidity and, while frustrated, I'm trying hard to be patient.

 Onward, onward to Autumn! With bills coming and no money to our names and enough trouble to last at least a year, we are praying this next season will be a bit kinder to us. Autumn has always been my favorite season - let's hope it continues to be so.
 ...


 It ain't over 'til it's over. When is summer over??

 After posting this, I began having severe abdominal pain. Three pains, specifically, two I could identify myself and one I couldn't. 1) on my left ovary is a cyst - painful but benign. It's a matter of waiting for it to resolve. 2) centrally, my intestines are still recovering from C. Diff. This process takes time - a lot of time and patience. 3) the unknown pain. Severe, and seemed to radiate down my entire right leg.

 I saw my Primary Care Physician first, thinking it might be related to C. Diff. somehow. She had me get an urgent blood draw, urine test, EKG, and full CT scan - to rule out appendicitis and/or a clot in my lungs. Fortunately, I had neither problem. Unfortunately, because the scan showed nothing wrong, my PCP then told me that the pain was being created by my mind and I really ought to get some help from the mental health department. She'd never heard of anything that could cause my entire leg to hurt like it did (therefore nothing could), and my scans were clean - nothing was wrong. I didn't believe her.

 I'm already working with a fantastic psychiatrist. He assured me this was not due to mental or emotional health - I was stressed, obviously, but coping pretty well. He even identified what could be causing my abdominal and leg pain - a tear or sprain in a specific muscle that starts exactly where my abdomen pain started and would easily affect joints on that leg, too. (MY PCP is definitely fired.)
 So I saw my most favorite doctor, my OB/GYN. Her answer: it's a pelvic floor muscle spasm (same as I had a year ago, only more severe) which has also pinched the nerves the psychiatrist mentioned so the pain radiates down my leg. Since it's a muscle spasm, the CT scan of course doesn't show anything wrong because the muscle is supposed to be there - it takes a knowledgeable exam by touch to assess it.  
 So now I have one more thing to recover from. Woot

Additionally, Anthony's last blood test showed his thyroid is still acting up and his potassium still drops too far too fast, but they're upping his meds so he'll be safe - we have to wait and see what the long-term solution will be.
 
 Any positive thoughts, prayers, empathy, or help would be so enormously appreciated right now. We need a new season, a fresh start, a season of rest. 

Leave your thoughts and comments please!