Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Started this in June, finished August 17th

Why I quit blogging. The answer is simple, really. Life became too painful to write about. The end. Or is the beginning pf something else? I do know that having a chronic illness changes all perspective on life. I look at everything different now. As I struggle to stay here with my family and friends I have to ask myself why? Would it be easier to just give in and quit treatment? Some days when I am so nauseated that I cannot talk and so tired that I cannot move I wonder if it is worth it? I wonder why people fight so hard to stay alive in a world that can seem so cruel at times, maybe unfair. It is what it is though. I thought for the longest time that I could honestly beat kidney failure. If I prayed hard enough, was good enough, kind enough, generous enough, went to church enough, took all the right medications, went to all of my doctor's appointments, ate good enough I would somehow be spared from this disease that has taken over my life. Now 21 months after being diagnosed with chronic kidney failure I feel beaten and worn down at times I think that everything I did was for nothing.....or maybe it wasn't? As I sit through dialysis 3 days a week I reflect about my past, the present and my future. I look around a room where everyone is hooked up to machines, some people need oxygen, some people have lost legs, some need a walker or wheelchair. And I again wonder what drives them to keep going. I feel like I am watching someone else's life. Mine was going to be so different. And yet week after week I sit with other dialysis patients who make conversation and polite talk amongst each other and the satff. And the feeling is surreal.

I started dialysis on November 13th 2009. I had prayed very hard that I would not have to start dialysis until after Shaun got home from his mission. And exactly 16 days after Shaun's return there I was at a dialysis center .......with Shaun. If I knew I had that much power I would have asked for more time. I had been getting progressively sicker as every month went by........but I fought so hard to not have to start dialysis. Now I realize it was not my decision to make. It wasn't anything I could control. It was not a punishment. It was end stage renal failure and it was taking over my body. Not having control was terrifying. Some days I just pretended that it did not exist. Some days it was all I could think about. Some days I ignored it. Some days I challenged it. But looking back it is so easy to see now that it truly was not in my control. Our time here is limited. Tragic things happen to people and fanilies, natural disaters hit, little children are abused. What kind of place is this that everyone tries so hard to stay in? Is there justice? Some days the trials seem too overwhelming and painful to bear. The world seems so cold and unforgiving. And yet most people fight to stay alive. And as I fight my battle with kidney failure I often wonder why? There are easy answers of course, simple anwers. Family, grandchildren, friends. And I keep fighting the fight. Anemia, low blood pressure, iron deficiency, nausea, exhaustion, are just a few of the debilitating things I deal with now on a daily basis now. There are times I sit in my car for 20 minutes after I get home because the thought of going up 14 steps is just too hard to face. Fatigue is not kind, it takes over my existence at times. And it is not a fight I can win.

Chronic illness has forced me to look at my life differently. I am grateful for my time here. I treasure every moment with family and friends. Things that I used to feel could wait until "later" suddenly seem more of a priority. So I try to live in the moment. Enjoy every word Tanner says, every time he calls me "Baga", enjoy every giggle from Tyler, enjoy every funny thing Caden does, enjoy every smile from Olivia, enjoy every time Abby says "Graaaaama", enjoy every time Cierra dances around the room, enjoy my time spent talking with Mackenzie, enjoy every time Gavin grins, enjoy the time I can be outside in the warm summer sunshine, enjoy the simple moments of everyday life. These things do not feel ordinary anymore. I feel as though they are precious gifts. My kids have turned into absolutely amazing adults. Their love and support has helped me through a very difficult time and I will forever appreciate their thoughtfulness and compassion.

So exactly one year has passed since I last blogged. I am hopeful about the future and I truly cherish every minute I spend with the people I love. In some ways I feel lucky because when my life is over I won't be saying "I wish I would have done things different." I am living a different and better life thgan I was a year ago. Life is definitely not easy but I don't think it was supposed to be. Life is still full of pain and sadness at times but I also feel real joy and peace amonst all the everyday chaos of fhis challenging life we are all living.

Monday, August 17, 2009


1. I really don't like hospitals and I especially don't like the ICU.

At Salt Lake Regional I had a brand new room (I was the first person to use it). Unfortunately the new TV, phone and computer did not work the whole 3 days I was there.

What's behind curtain #1? That would be the bathroom in the "step down" ICU room I was in.

2. There is no such thing as "resting" in a hospital.

3. It is a little strange to watch blood going into my veins and wonder who it came from (Thanks to everyone who donates blood).

4. Having a Chaplain visit me twice while I had sepsis made me think my doctor had put my name on "The Hospital Impending Death List". I asked her and she promised she didn't.

5. There are some very whiny patients who press the call button way too often.

6. The sound the call button makes at the nursing station could be used to torture enemies in a war.

7. The nurses sometimes make no attempt to turn off the call button noises for 10 minutes.

8. I never want to be in a room directly across from the nurses station again.

9. The alarms that go off on monitors and IV machines could seriously make me mentally unstable in under in 30 minutes (The longest I had to wait for a response was 45 minutes and yes I already know nurses are overworked).

10. A liquid diet means you get the exact same thing for all three meals: tea, apple or cranberry juice, chicken or beef broth and red or green jello.

11. Hospital food is truly disgusting. The little garnish they put on the plate does not make the food more appealing.

11. I never want a good looking, young, Latin man named Jose to do an EKG on me again. (Jose was training and had to try multiple times before he finally got all the sticky things in the right places).

12. I will never let anyone put an IV in my thumb again.

13. I will never let anyone take blood from the top of my hand or my wrist again.

This picture doesn't even come close to showing how bad the bruising was.

14. I should not be allowed access to a phone if I have been given Demerol or Morphine. (Sorry Heather, Anni and Dana for those irrational calls and texts)

15. I need to start trusting myself when something doesn't feel right and not wait to go to the hospital until it's almost too late.
(Probably won't really happen since I haven't gotten the hang of this yet.....but I can hope)

16. I am the most stubborn person in the world (Thanks to my dad for passing that trait on).

17. When I was the very sickest at home my cute little cat Suri did not leave my bed all night and most of the next day (which is not her usual style) She laid on my hip and refused to move. I think this proves cats know more than we think and they especially know more than dogs.

18. I have the beginnings of an awesome hospital mug collection.

These make the hospital stays almost worth it!

19. I love having a doctor for a son because my doctors call him back way faster than they call me (or take his calls immediately).

May 2009 in San Antonio.

20. If your kids live far away and you want them to visit, just get really sick (Thanks for coming Ben, it was great having you here). I had no idea Ben was coming so when I woke up and saw him standing in my room I was slightly confused.

Ben did some awesome landscaping, fixed broken lights and the best thing he did while he was here: fix the sprinklers! Of course it was a bonus to have my own personal physician, a driver and a chef for 4 days. Thanks for taking good care of me Ben!

Caden and Tanner were instant fans of Uncle Ben.

21. If you have a son on a mission and you really miss him and want to talk to him just get sepsis and his mission pres will let him call.

My cute missionary Shaun. Only 71 days to go!

22. If after that you still miss your kids who are living out of state get really sick again and go into the hospital for a third time (Chad, even though I told you not to come I'm really glad you ignored me and flew home anyway). Chad only got to stay for about 36 hours and then had to get back to work in Phoenix but it was so good to see him!

I didn't even have time to take any pictures while Chad was home since I was in the hospital, but I found this one from a few years ago that I really like.

23. I really love being at home and sleeping in my very comfortable bed at night.

Thanks Megan for making my bed and having everything look so nice when I came home. Megan helps with so many things and I can't tell her enough how much I appreciate her.

24. I have the absolute best parents, brothers, sister, grandchildren, family and friends ever!

Just some of the fam hanging out, June 2009.

25. My kids are, without a doubt, the most incredible, amazing people and I appreciate their love, concern and never ending support more than they will ever know.

This was taken right before Shaun left on his mission.......the last time all six siblings were together.

I try really hard not to take life too serious. I would much rather laugh than cry. But having sepsis, very low potassium, anemia that needed a blood transfusion, failing kidneys and three hospital stays the past few weeks has made me appreciate the amazing people and good things in my life even more. Thanks for all the calls, texts, visits and prayers. I know there is still a difficult road ahead but it's definitely worth the journey.

Kelly: One of my favorite visitors! She was totally opposed to having her picture taken but I finally got her to reluctantly agree.

Tanner: My loudest and most entertaining visitor!

Caden: My quietest and funniest visitor. One day Caden came to visit in a clown costume. Why?.....because he refused to wear anything else. He was so serious about the costume so I tried my hardest not to laugh at him. I wish I would have taken a picture, (Look at the yellow rain boots he is wearing in this picture....something else he refused to take off for days).

Cierra: My visitor who blew up the most "balloon gloves" before anyone noticed. Again I wish I had pictures because I think there were at least 10 at the end of my bed.

I have now signed a contract that gives Megan and Kristin the right to force me to go to the ER if they think it is necessary and I'm not allowed to argue or get mad. Wow.....I hope I can remember that I am not always capable of making good decisions for myself when I am really sick. And I will probably still argue and get mad but I will GO! Just ignore me and remember to show me the contract.

A last minute update: I had blood work done today and my numbers are not so good. So I get to spend tomorrow at an infusion center to get more fluids and potassium. At least I am avoiding the hospital this time.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I earned so many points!

If you think this picture is cute then don't read any further.

The Point System: I've always thought of my life in terms of a point system. It's kind of like Monopoly but without the money. In Monopoly you start out with a certain amount of money and you earn more as you go and you lose money along the way. You also get money every time you pass go.

It's the same with the point system. I figure that I started my life with 100,000 points and every time I do something good I add points and when I do something wrong I lose points. When I pass another birthday each year I automatically get to collect 20,000 points. So when I take something off an airplane with me (that's not really mine) I lose about 3,000 points but by mailing it back I earned 2,000 points. When I yell at other drivers and call them names I again lose a big amount of my points but if I let someone go in front of me in line at a store I earn points. I lose points for complaining, listening to rap music, watching Grey's Anatomy, laughing when Tanner is being so so naughty and frustrating his momma, getting new tattoos (just kidding about that one).......well anyway the list goes on and on. My points have been dwindling lately, even dipping slightly in the negative but that has all changed now.

I think I am finally back on track with my points. I am out of the negative and it just took 20 minutes to turn everything around. What I did was so unbelievable I'm sure I earned at least 50,000 points. It's no big secret that I really really really really dislike dogs. Sorry Stanley, Sarge and are the exceptions, sort of kind of.

This is how all dogs look to me.

So here's how it happened and how I earned so many points. Several weeks ago I went to someones house I had never been to before. After knocking, the door opened and the first thing I noticed was a little dog yapping very loud.

Innocent looking, yes, but making devious plans.

I felt good about this because I was sure that it meant the dog did not like me and would stay away from me. The more the dog yapped the better I felt. I sat down and immediately the little dog jumped right into my lap. It was a moment of pure horror for me. Now if the dog would have jumped right back down I probably could have handled it. But NO the dog decided to make himself very comfortable and just laid there. And because of the way I feel about dogs it was just torture.

Totally relaxed!

The dog's owner said "I hope you like dogs." I just smiled (I didn't lie and say that I did). My hope at this point was that the family would say to their dog "Get back here and don't bother her!" But that didn't happen. In fact they said, "Wow he doesn't usually like people this much. He must be able to sense how you feel about him." So I was thinking it must be a very dumb dog because if he only knew what I was thinking about him at that moment he would have run.

Run fast....get away!

There are mainly three reasons that I have such a hard time with dogs. 1. You have to pet them when they get close to you (or the owner thinks you are mean) and the more you pet them the more they want you to keep petting them......which brings me to reason 2. If you ignore dogs and don't pet them they start to sniff you. And sniffing can be awkward. And 3. Usually when they are done sniffing you the licking starts. So if you pay attention to the dog and pet it then there is a chance it will leave you alone but there's also a chance it will sniff and lick because the dog thinks you like it. (And sniffing and licking are just gross) It's such a dilemma!

Getting ready to sniff!

Getting ready to lick!

So I decided to pretend I liked this little dog and I started petting him. The dog was obviously not going to leave and had gotten very comfortable in my lap. My goal, of course, was to not get sniffed or licked. I thought by petting him (no matter how difficult it was) I could be in control of the situation. This went on for a good five minutes and I was feeling pretty confident that I had outsmarted this dog. So just when I started to relax a little and think I could handle things.........IT HAPPENED. The dog started licking my pants! This dog totally skipped step 2 so I had no warning about what was going to happen. I was really very happy that he had not sniffed me.......but why did he feel the need to lick my pants? They were clean and smelled like good laundry soap and fabric softener. I tried several times to "gently" move his head but he was determined to keep licking me.

Looking evil and satisfied!

This went on for what seemed like hours, even though it was probably only 20 minutes. So in less than a half an hour a dog sat in my lap, I touched him and he licked me.

And that is how I earned 50,000 points.
(No comments from PITA please.....I already know I have a defect when it comes to liking dogs)

The best kind of dog.

And for anyone who is still thinking that I had something to do with Giddion's will have to decide if you believe me or not.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Every choice we make in life seems to bring about some sort of consequence. Sometimes the end result is good and other times it is not not so good. So over the past several weeks I have thought a lot about how each choice we make not only affects us but others in our lives. So with that being said here are some of the consequences that have recently been on my mind.

1. CONSEQUENCES OF TAKING A LAMINATED SAFETY CARD: I obviously took (or stole according to some people) the laminated safety card off the airplane with me back in May. I didn't think it was a big deal or that it would cause any controversy. But when Cierra asked Kristin if I would be going to jail or prison for taking the safety card I decided to mail it back to Frontier. And although I would like to have kept it just as a "souvenir" I can't have my seven year old granddaughter thinking I am a thief.

2. CONSEQUENCES OF NOT USING SUNBLOCK AT THE BEACH: Well of course that would be a sunburn. But it was not an ordinary sunburn. It was on my foot, got a huge blister that popped and and then it got infected with strep. Six weeks later it is almost healed and had to be treated with antibiotics. If things like looking at "strep on a foot" bothers you just skip over the next picture. Actually the picture was taken after it had been healing for over 2 weeks and was looking much better. I still wouldn't trade it away for my day at the beach.


3. CONSEQUENCES OF HAVING A BABY: On May 30th my absolutely amazing little grandson Tanner turned two. I am so in love with that boy I can't imagine my life without him now. He calls me "Baga" and I am totally enchanted with everything he does. I remember a few years ago feeling so overwhelmed with the thought of a new baby in the house. And although it has been very challenging at times here we are 2 years later and Tanner is the best part of every day.

Too cool!

This is Tanner trying to look innocent after doing something naughty.

This is Tanner looking very concerned that Stanley (Ericka's dog) might take his fire log.

4. CONSEQUENCES OF PLANNING AN OUTDOOR BIRTHDAY PARTY IN MAY: Megan had a party for Tanner on his birthday and invited almost 60 people and at least 50 of them showed up. This shouldn't have been a big problem since the party was a water party and in the backyard. The problem was that about halfway through the party the thunder, lightning and rain started........ and all 50 people had to come inside.

Yes all of these people came inside. If you are wondering why there are no pictures of Tanner it's because he hated his party and cried almost the entire 2 hours.

5. CONSEQUENCES OF GOING TO SCHOOL: On June 4th Megan graduated from high school. This is not an easy thing to do with a child and yet she was determined to finish. She ended up getting her best grades ever during her senior year. She even had a 4.0 one quarter. She will be starting college in August and wants to get a degree in Behavioral Sciences (maybe she's not totally sure yet). She got a $1,000 scholarship from Comcast that her school had to nominate her for. I am so proud of the great choices Megan is making for her and Tanner.

Ericka and Malcolm surprised Megan and came for her graduation. She had no idea they were coming but she was ecstatic when they showed up on May 26th!




Caden was diagnosed with autism over year ago. At the time he could not talk at all. Now because of Kristin's persistence, home therapy, speech therapy and behavioral therapy he is talking like a champ and learning how to be socially appropriate. His progress has been incredible. He
turned 3 on June 13th and is an amazing little guy who calls me "Bramma." I love listening to him talk especially because he was using all signs a year ago. His hugs and kisses are very limited but always worth the wait. When I'm not around him it feels like a little piece of me is missing.

Caden is slightly obsessed with Batman right now (I know it's hard to tell from the pictures)

Stanley is a dog that Ericka and Malcolm love and treat almost like a real child. I can sum up how I feel about dogs in one sentence. Our 10 year old dog Giddion ran away 3 years ago (July 2nd, 2006 to be exact) and it still ranks up at the top of my list of favorite days. I know it's mean but I just don't like dogs. But I agreed to let Stanley come along with Ericka and Malcolm (I'm not really sure I had a choice). Here is a list of things Stanley chewed up or destroyed while he was here:

8 squirt guns
1 spray bottle

1 sprinkler

1 leash (his own)

2 of his own toys

1 big blanket

3 balls

377 sticks and logs
1 dead bird (I added that for you Sonja to let you know there are easier ways than picking them up yourself)
The weird thing is I kind of like Stanley now.

Always chewing!

Cierra fell in love with Stanley and wanted to be his constant companion. Stanley got so excited that he knocked her down a few times (hard). But she got over it quick and went back to being his pal.

8. CONSEQUENCES OF HAVING GRANDCHILDREN: They grow up too fast and it means I keep getting older. Mackenzie looks like a teenager and she is not even 12 yet. She is the cutest, sweetest, smartest, funniest, most well behaved girl and I absolutely adore her! (Maybe next time you will be able to beat me at Scrabble Kenz)

Look at the earrings Kenz is wearing. I bought them for myself but Megan said they looked like they were for a 12 year old so I reluctantly gave them away.

9. CONSEQUENCES OF WAITING TO FIND THE RIGHT GUY TO MARRY: That would be Malcolm. He totally fits in with our family (sad for him) and he is perfect for Ericka. The more I am around him the more I love and appreciate him.

9. CONSEQUENCES OF BEING ON STEROIDS: Another new infections that started 2 and 1/2 weeks ago. After 3 days the tendon was showing in the open wound. I was on a maintenance antibiotic when I got the infection. Now I am back on IV antibiotics. I'm pretty sure my steroid days are coming to an end. My docs are all consulting this week and I will know more soon. Don't worry..........I'm not putting any pictures up of this infection.

This is pretty much what I do all week right now. Antibiotics, get new IV's placed at the hospital every 3 days, blood work and doctor's appointments. I'm getting a PIC line on Monday and I'm not one bit excited about it

Having Kristin, Kenzie, Cierra, Caden, Malcolm, Ericka and even Stanley here for almost a month was so much fun. (Kristin and her family are moving back to Utah on July 27th.....HOORAY!) The constant rain ruined some of our plans but we found other things to do. Tanner was sad to have everyone leave and didn't quite understand what happened. He has asked for Malcolm and Cierra the most. Chad (who is working in Arizona) got to fly home for a few days. He got in just hours after everyone left. Tanner was so happy to see him that he forgot how bad he wanted everyone else to come back. Tanner is Chad's biggest fan especially since Chad bought him a police car with a very loud, realistic siren while he was here. Megan actually thought she was being pulled over by the police one day because Tanner pushed the siren button while they were in the car. I dropped Chad off at the airport Sunday and I would say our house is back to being quiet........but with Tanner it's never quiet! Shaun's release date (from his mission, not prison) is in less than 4 months. Everyone will be back then plus Ben, Mary and their 3 kids.