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December 18, 2009

A very long week

Filed under: Personal, Pregnancy — Tags: , , , , , , , , — llcall @ 9:10 pm

Last night Neal told me, “I don’t like this week.”  If you know Neal’s calm, steady, quietly optimistic nature, you know that this is almost the equivalent of one of my aforementioned teary meltdowns (almost).  My poor guy is really at the end of his rope, the combined effect of the initial medical drama (and maybe too many people reminding him that if we lived in pioneer times, I’d be dead),  my constant need for help with basic life tasks like getting out of bed and picking things up, and the whirlwind of final projects, papers, and exams that should have been done by now if not for all these unexpected events.

Yesterday hit him with yet another blow: his computer crashed and in the process of whatever crazy things it was doing, also managed to reformat and erase his back-up hard drive.  Final film project (to which he had already devoted maybe 30-40 hours, and was due yesterday) = GONE.  All his other film footage for projects he’s been working on over the last two years = GONE.  Business documents, school documents = GONE.  We’ve got his computer and hard drive at two different repair shops, trying to determine if there is any recoverable data.

And yet there have been these constant reminders that God is really mindful of us.  I mentioned before that I was really grateful for my midwife’s insistence that they examine me for appendicitis.  Yesterday at our check-up appointment she told me the story from her perspective, starting out by saying that it was one of those experiences where you know God has just told you what to do.  She said that initially she had told the labor and delivery nurse that if my contractions were under control and I was hydrated, they could release me and she would call me later in the day to check in.  This was probably around 4:30 or 5 am.  She went back to sleep thinking that everything was under control, but at 6:00 am, she had a sort of lightning-bolt thought that she needed to talk to me immediately.  It was as she was talking to me that she realized appendicitis (even though, funny enough, when she talked to me on the phone she was still groggy enough that she couldn’t remember the name of the organ . . . our conversation went something like this: Jana: “You know that thing that can burst and it’s really bad.”  Me: “Appendix?”  Jana: “Yeah, that’s it.  That’s what this is.”).  She called down to the ER immediately to let them know that this was absolutely urgent if we wanted to avoid a little preemie that day.  I marvel that even though she hadn’t even seen me or talked to me for more than a minute or two, she was exactly right.  The surgeon basically agreed that in a few more hours they would have had to deliver baby girl to preserve her health.  And Neal’s week would have been substantially more traumatic.

Another unexpected thing that we hardly know how to process at this moment also happened this week.  We were given a very generous anonymous Christmas gift.  All we were told is that the givers wanted to help a family in our ward at Church, and that through prayer they learned that we were that family.  It is sort of an overwhelming thing to receive an envelope with cash in it, knowing that you are one of the truly blessed and most fortunate people on earth.  We couldn’t help but ask, why us? When the next day we found ourselves shelling out a couple hundred dollars that we weren’t planning on just to diagnose the problems with the computer and hard drive, I wondered if the money was a little tender mercy, mostly for Neal’s benefit, so that I wouldn’t hyperventilate about our monthly budget getting smashed (I tend to overreact about this type of thing; I am, afterall, my father’s stingy daughter).  But still I could hardly think that such an ultimately insignificant, very high-level “need” could merit that kind of attention when obviously there are people all around struggling to meet more basic needs.  We still keep asking ourselves, why should we be the recipients of so much generosity?  Is it to blunt the force of the last few months’ medical bills?  Or something in the future that we still can’t foresee but God is preparing a way for us to handle?  (Neal has implored me not to contemplate the latter too much for obvious reasons.)

With all the question marks we still have, I am grateful that for now I am just dwelling on this feeling of gratitude.  Our baby girl is still safe and healthy.  My wounds are healing.  We’ll survive any and all computer crashes.  And Neal is taking a short break from all his heavy duties to do something that helps him unwind and relax: grocery shopping.  (And yes, I’m dead serious, walking the grocery aisles with his headphones on soothes his little soul.  He’s a weird dude, that one, but I love him.)

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December 16, 2009

Back home

Filed under: Personal, Pregnancy — Tags: , , , , , , — llcall @ 6:25 pm

I’ve been home from the hospital for about three days now.  In some ways it has been almost as unexpected as the whole ER/hospital extravaganza.  We thought that coming home would be easier, I would be feeling better.  And I can see some improvements: my belly button incision is getting less tender (the surgeon was concerned with this one getting infected because it was particularly red and swollen initially); my shoulder pain is almost completely gone; and my abdominal pain is lessening.

But in other ways, it has been more difficult.  Those first few days were all about triage; we couldn’t think too far ahead and really, we didn’t even have many decisions to make.  But now that I’m home, I have nothing to do but what I do best . . . processing the past and contemplating the future.  You mix all that worrisome thinking with trying to cope with the pain without resorting to painkillers (these depressed the baby’s heart rate and variability while we were at the hospital, so I’m trying to avoid them), and you’ve basically got a recipe for a couple of teary meltdowns every day.

Neal’s personalized therapy is for us to talk about all the blessings we’ve seen over the last few days as well as some of the funny moments.  So here’s a few that I want to remember:

Blessings

  • Making it to 32 weeks, as of this Thursday . . . this is a big, important milestone for fetal development, and the point at which the infant survival rate is almost 99%.
  • My midwife Jana’s persistence that I should be sent back down to the ER, rather than discharged.  Based on what the surgeon told us, there is a good chance my appendix would have ruptured if not for her intervention.
  • A visit from my Aunt Jo Ann, who shared some of her experiences with intense medical situations, including a premature daughter.  It was so timely because I had been having one of those aforementioned meltdowns, just feeling ill-equipped to make it through all this.  She reminded me that in the moments that I most need it, Heavenly Father will reassure me that I can do what needs to be done and care for our daughter no matter what happens.
  • Not being so itchy . . . Neal keeps reminding me, can you imagine if you were as itchy as you were two months ago with three incisions on your belly?
  • Flowers!  They really brighten up my room.  Thanks Audrey, Kaila, and Mom & Dad!

Funnies

  • When I was first feeling the pain and unable to sleep, Neal was pretty convinced it was just gas pain from too much pizza.  And he always has ideas to help me feel better.  So picture Neal drilling me in calisthenics at 10pm, in order to alleviate the pain from what turned out to require emergency surgery about 12 hours later.  (This just cracks me up every time I think about it!)  I looked like this, minus the spandex and short-shorts, and with breaks for clutching my side when the pain got too intense:

  • When they released me from labor and delivery and sent me to the ER, there was no tech available at the moment to escort us, so they asked Neal if he could just wheel me down.  It sounded easy enough, until we realized that without a special key card you actually have to go outside to get to the ER.  So, it was about 7:30am, 10 degrees, and Neal is pushing me through a parking lot while I’m wearing an open-back hospital gown!
  • You know in movies where they are trying to visually show what people see when they are coming to, or coming out of anesthesia.  It’s like a warped, kaleidoscopy-type image.  Well, it was actually just like that!  Seriously, whoever first thought of that special effect knew what they were talking about.
  • My feet being so swollen that every time I walked it felt like huge flaps of skin were swaying from side-to-side on top of my feet.  Such a weird sensation!

December 12, 2009

“Then I will have an appendectomy”*

Filed under: Personal, Pregnancy — Tags: , , , , , , , — llcall @ 1:52 pm

This is a really long post, probably mostly for my own benefit to remember what went on the last few days before all the drugs make it completely hazy.  I thought about posting some of the pictures the surgeon gave us of my innards to spice it up, but unless you’re a surgeon, you probably wouldn’t know what you were looking at anyway.

When I posted last week about finishing my last presentation and homework of grad school, the end was so near, I could almost taste it.  But I still had one of those massive 3-part stats exams on my to-do list.  Although technically I had until Friday the 18th to finish, I felt totally driven to finish as soon as I could.  In fact, I gave myself a deadline of Wednesday the 9th (my professor allowed us to take it early if we wanted to).  It was interesting because a lot of people kept asking why I was imposing such an early deadline on myself, worrying that I was pushing myself too hard.  And it was a little hard . . . I mean, last Saturday I spent 10 hours straight camped out on the couch doing my take-home portion.  Intense, to say the least.

But for reasons that were not entirely clear to me, I just HAD to get my stats final done by Wednesday.  I wouldn’t say it felt like a spiritual prompting; I just felt like I needed to get it done by Wednesday.  And amazingly, shockingly (if you’ve been following my blog you know that I have not been the most productive person over the last several months) I finished exactly according to my plans.  As I left my stats class at 5:20 Wednesday evening, I could not have been more stoked because I actually made a plan and followed through with it.  A true Christmas miracle!  God bless us, everyone!

I was so ready to party that I even ordered my celebratory pizza on my laptop during class!  I brought the pizza home to share with dear Kaila, my friend that is in town for a short visit.  We inhaled it and then got all comfy and cozy to watch “Love Actually.”  It had the makings of a great night, until about 7:00 pm when I started having abdominal pain.  It wasn’t too bad at first and I thought it was just baby girl being a little mischievous.   But at the same time, the pain was in a place that made me ask out loud, how on earth is baby girl kicking me there?! How can she even get to it?

Over the next couple of hours, the pain was intensifying but I just attributed it to digestive problems from over-consumption of delicious pizza.  I decided to go to bed early because I was feeling so crummy.  But sleep wouldn’t come and the pain kept getting worse.  Then vomiting started about 12:45 am.  I got Neal up about 1:30, and he woke my grandpa up, so that they could give me a blessing.  It was a very sweet moment, but not too long after it was becoming clear to me the pain was getting worse, the vomiting was getting worse, and it was time to book it to the emergency room.

Thankfully, there was no wait because they sent us straight up to labor and delivery.  They got me strapped to the fetal monitor and confirmed that I was having contractions.  They were not too intense according to their readings, but they were consistent and very close together.  The interesting thing though is that I wasn’t worried at all that I was going into preterm labor; it never even crossed my mind that baby girl would be born right then and there.

And she wasn’t.  They gave me medicine to relax my uterus and stop the contractions.  My blood work confirmed that I was very dehydrated, which they attributed to all the vomiting (I threw up in the hospital hallway as well . . . sorry Utah Valley janitorial staff), and they concluded that the dehydration started the contractions.  So labor and delivery is ready to discharge me, having stopped the contractions and given me an anti-nausea shot.  But thankfully, my midwife Jana called in to talk to me directly (she had been communicating with the nurses and ordering tests up to that point, about 6:30 am) and what I told her about the persistence of the pain made her think appendicitis.

So they trucked me down to the ER again to see an internal medicine specialist.  He also suspected appendicitis from my pain pattern and before I knew it, I was in the MRI machine so they could take a look at my insides.  Not the most pleasant 45 minutes ever–the noises are just deafening–but it wasn’t too bad compared to my last MRI because I got to go in feet first so my head didn’t feel quite so confined.  They were easily able to determine that my appendix was in bad shape.

Next I’m back to the ER where they begin prepping me for surgery, with everything from fetal heart monitoring to a Tylenol suppository (I’m sure you all know where suppositories go . . .  yuck!) to some wicked thing they called “bitter antacid.”  We met the surgeon at this point and he explained to us the possibility that this surgery would trigger labor and our baby would be born that day.  But of course, there was no choice.  So Neal and I had a few precious moments to contemplate this and some tears were shed.  And in case this isn’t a totally unexpected story already, the tears were Neal’s not mine.

Then I’m in “holding” while they finish getting me ready for the surgery.  Finally, the operating room where I don’t remember much before they knocked me out.  Then post-op . . . this was definitely the low point.  They said that the breathing tube they insert often irritates the throat so as I was coming to, I had the distinct feeling that 1) I could not breathe and 2) I could not swallow.  I was bordering on hysteria because I actually thought I was dying and that they weren’t helping to prevent it.  I asked for water and they said no.  I kept taking off the oxygen mask because I thought it was keeping me from breathing, and they kept putting it back on me.  I kept asking, What did they do to my shoulder? I was in extreme pain all over my abdomen, but the pain I felt in my shoulder area was the most surprising.  I distinctly remember wondering if they had taken a hammer to my shoulder just for spite.  Like I said, borderline hysteria. [The doctor has since explained to me that the shoulder pain is caused by the extra gas that they pumped into my abdomen so that they would have more space to maneuver].

It was also scary because this was the only time that baby girl was in distress.  Her heart rate was way too high, as was mine, and they kept trying to breathe with me and explain that I needed to relax so that the baby could relax too.  I distinctly remember feeling like a bad mother because although I was trying to calm down, I couldn’t figure out how to do it.  The room was spinning and I couldn’t see straight and I thought we were both dying.

After I was stabilized in post-op, they trucked me back up to labor and delivery, where I’ve been since Thursday around 4:00 pm.  For the record, I didn’t mind all this transporting from here to there because, guess what, you get to do it while laying down in bed.  It’s the only way to travel.  I’m probably spoiled for life!!

Based on the MRI, they couldn’t tell if my appendix had already ruptured or not, but luckily it had not.  Afterward the surgeon told us that he thought if we had been even ten hours later, it probably would have ruptured and caused even more serious problems.  So we just thank God that we were guided to go to the ER when we did, particularly in light of my great aversion to hospitals and the like.

Although they said there was a possibility of going home the day after the surgery, my white blood cell count is still elevated, showing that the infection persists even though my appendix is gone.  The surgeon said he could tell there was more infected fluid and tissue but because of the size of my uterus he couldn’t see the full extent nor get it all out.  I will be in the hospital until the white blood cells are back to normal because there is a danger of the infection getting into the uterus and causing either preterm labor or problems for the baby.  So far she seems to be handling it all like a champ . . . still kicking up a storm, although this feels less comforting to me than it normally does because she’s kicking places that were recently cut open.  I’ve been asking her very nicely to go to sleep, while Neal has been threatening her with groundings if she doesn’t behave more considerately.

In all my worst-case scenario worries, I definitely never saw this coming.  But the reason why I started with the story of my stats test is that Neal and I are both convinced that Heavenly Father certainly could foresee what we could not.  I just felt like I wanted to get done with my final quickly, but now I see that it was absolutely essential to give me the peace of mind that I feel right now.  I can focus entirely on my and baby girl’s health.  I can just move slowly and rest without worry about other things sliding.

So we thank God for his grace and mercy, and for family and friends that have offered every conceivable type of assistance.  These have been difficult days, but we’re glad that this baby is still safely tucked away.

* If you’re wondering about the title of this post, I should explain that ironically enough, it is an inside joke that Neal and I have.  We’ve been joking about appendectomies for almost 5 years now.  It turns out they’re not as funny as we thought.

December 7, 2009

D*#$& you, word verfication

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , — llcall @ 11:09 am

I hope that title isn’t too R-rated . . . but don’t we all feel that way when we see this:

No?  I’m the only one.  Oh well.

Maybe some people can handle these with no problem, but I usually can’t read these things for the life of me.  Is it my glasses?  A genetic defect?  I have no idea.

In any case, it’s not usually too big a problem on blogger; I just give it a few tries and finally succeed.  But gmail . . . that is another story.  I can’t decipher the dang gmail word verifications to save my life.  And usually they come up during the very moment that I have like 30 seconds to print something on campus.

So last Monday was my big, last-one-of-grad-school class presentation.  I felt pretty confident that it would go well because 1) I prepared a lot and 2) I’m a perfectionist in all things academic, so things. must. go. well. period.  We are the first group presenting, so I proceed to pull up my gmail account to download our powerpoint.  And I think you know what happened next . . .

Word verification.

I’m staying cool, just typing it as it see it.  No dice.  Meanwhile, since the whole class can see it projected on the screen, about 42 people tell me that it was an “h” not a “d.”  So they give me a fresh word verification in case I’m just trying to hack into this gmail account (is that what this is for?!  maybe it’s an okay trade-off; I agree to email hacking and I never have to verify any more “words” again).

I’m still relaxed . . . but once again, mid-typing, people start shouting out, “no, it’s a 1.” “f.” “there’s no y in that.”  I really couldn’t figure out if everyone agreed that I could not read the darn thing, or if I was starting one of the most lively debates ever seen in the academic world.

Luckily, one of my group members had saved the powerpoint on a jump drive.  Because attempt #3 wasn’t going well either.

Word verification, you mock me.

December 4, 2009

Vanity revisited

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , , , — llcall @ 11:00 pm

Way back in about August of 2008, I started a blog post entitled, Vanity is not one of my vices, which I never finished and posted because I was waiting on photo developing (oh that old-fashioned process).  I have posted it below for your reading pleasure, but have since found out something very important: I may be as vain as the next person, I just hadn’t discovered what I was vain about yet!

And then it hit me after the 28-week ultrasound when I once again proclaimed that baby girl has my nose, my Larson nose.  I am vain about my nose.  I really like it.  Neal’s is okay, but I just think mine is much more fitting for our progeny.  Apparently, I’m in love with my nose.  I never even suspected it before.

Life . . . what a wonderful time of self-discovery, no?

****

One early morning in May, the most unexpected thing happened.  Raw sewage started flowing out of our toilet, bathtub, kitchen drain, and furnace room drain.  Needless to say this caused quite a stir . . . and stench.  When all was said and done, I lost only a few pieces of clothing (thank heavens since there is virtually nothing I hate more than clothes shopping!) but nearly all of my shoes.  These two pairs survived:

The Danskos on the left were fortuitously at the cleaners.

The Danskos on the left were fortuitously at the shoe repair shop.

While Neal repeatedly told me that I needed to get some replacement shoes because these were just too ugly to be my ONLY shoes, I resisted for some time (mainly because of the aforementioned shopping aversion).  Finally, after two months, I caved and we purchased these to create a more well-rounded shoe collection:

Sadly for Neal, I rejected “cute” or “sexy” shoes and just went for functional.  He wishes I were a little more vain about footwear (and clothing and make-up and hair sty . . . you get the picture :)).

December 1, 2009

I’m in stats class right now . . .

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , , — llcall @ 12:20 am

and I just finished my final presentation for the semester.  And turned in my final homework for the semester.

Do you know what this means?!

I just finished my final presentation of GRAD SCHOOL!  And turned in my final homework of GRAD SCHOOL !

 

Still to-do:

1 stats final

1 thesis

When I put it in that to-do list form, it doesn’t sound like that much, does it?!

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