Friday, January 30, 2009

More about Me

No pictures again.  Sorry, but our camera broke and we have yet to purchase another one.  It's killing me to not be taking pictures.  I guess it has become somewhat of a hobby for me. So for now, you'll have to listen to me blab about myself and how I'm processing life right now.

Everyone keeps asking if my eyes are getting better.  I wish I could say they were but so far I haven't seen any significant improvements.  I can say that I feel overall, normal and have been getting back into the swing of things around here, wearing my patch and operating with one eye most of the time. I'm supposed to be switching the patch from one eye to the other but quite frankly trying to move around with the use of my bad eye is very difficult.  I am trying to be a good girl, though, and exercise my left eye as much as I can.

I have to say that I'm getting a glimpse of the difference between conventional medicine and alternative treatment.  I don't want to make a blanket statement and say that all conventional medical doctors are uncaring and that their procedures are unnecessary because I know some people have been helped and many must be in the profession for the good of the patient.  But, I'm realizing just how far we gotten away from good old fashioned patient care.  

For example; I went to see the neurologist and she examined me and gave me my diagnosis along with a list of tests she wanted me to follow through with.  Half of what she told me, I did not understand because of all the medical jargon used.  She never told me what she was trying to rule out with all the tests or any of the possible causes of my diagnosis.  I guess it was my job to ask.  She was nice enough but we left with more questions than when we came in.  One of the last things she recommended was a second opinion with a Nuero Ophthalmologist. Now that we've finished with all the testing and nothing was found we have been notified (through the mail, I might add) that we have an appointment with the Ophthalmologist for more testing!  Why? is my question.  What are they looking for that we haven't already tested for?  The paperwork we received in the mail says to prepare for a 2-3 hour appointment where further testing will be performed.  Why do I feel like just another patient on the schedule?  

Being a first-born child means I have the tendency to want to please and obey my authorities.  I feel like if I don't keep this appointment I will be breaking the rules and someone might have reason to yell at me.  I need to grow up and get over that!  I want to be in charge of my own health and at least give my consent to all these tests.  I think that's why I feel so comfortable with my regular physician.  Dr. Newell is a Family Nurse Practitioner and is certified in Homeopathic medicine.  He gives of his time and in no way rushes you.  I can get an appointment with him the same day I call and he discusses with me the best course of treatment.  We decide together what should be done.  I can rely on his expertise all along knowing he is taking into account my concerns.  I recently took Micah to see him for an ear infection that I had tried to treat naturally to no avail.  I was dreading the usual antibiotic remedy that all other doctors would have prescribed. To my surprise he treated him with a homeopathic remedy that worked within 24 hours.  He is a new child and I never had to use antibiotics!

All this to say, I think I'll call this Ophthalmologist and ask for a consult first before blindly going through with all these tests.  After all, I've never even met him before.


Friday, January 23, 2009

The Body of Christ

Well, I'm feeling so blessed!  First, I'd like to say "Praise be to God, for answering my prayer!"  The test results came back and nothing wrong was found that could be the cause of my condition.  I'm so relieved and still so shocked that I have nothing major wrong with me.  I hoped for this result but never dreamed God would answer my prayer this way.  I know many of you were praying for me too and I'm so grateful!  I am incredibly thankful for the network of prayers lifted up on my behalf.  It is overwhelming to be the recipient of such a community of believers who love and care for each other in this way.  It's hard to put into words what it's like to be so surrounded by Christians who ooze the love of Christ.

I have to brag on God and His eye for detail.  Wednesday was my test day and I was told that the MRI/MRA would take an hour and a half and then the CT scan would take another 1/2 hour.  So I was nervous and ready to get it all over with.  We brought Micah with us because I had planned to nurse him as soon as I finished with my appointment.  He also had an ear infection and I didn't want to leave him with my other children alone without an adult since he might not sleep well and could be very fussy.  To my surprise my MRI/MRA only took 20 min. and the CT scan took about 5 minutes!  The hardest part was the IV that they put in to inject the dye for the X-ray.  I wasn't prepared for this.  Needles don't bother me too much but they aren't all that fun either.  As they were finishing up and taking out the IV, they realized that I am a nursing mother.  I'm not sure why we have to fill out paperwork when they don't seem to ever really read it!  Anyway, the cat scan technician began to explain that I will not be able to nurse for the next 48 hours due to the dye being in my endocrine system.  Guess mammary glands are part of the endocrine system. She said that I'll need to "pump and dump."  This curve ball came flying at me right when I was supposed to nurse Micah!  I literally looked at her cross-eyed and thought, "But I don't even own a pump and my baby has never taken a bottle before!  How am I going to work this out?"  Little did I know that God had it all taken care of.

After we left the office I called my friend who lives 10 minutes away and told her my dilemma. By the time I got to her house, she had tracked down a pump for me, found a bottle in the back of her cupboard, and had a huge bag of breast milk that she had in her freezer that she gave me!  We immediately defrosted a bag and prepared him a bottle.  I think I actually held my breath when I introduced it to him.  I had a bib ready since I just knew he would probably spit half of it out.  Well, you'll never believe what happened next!  He downed it in about 5 minutes, acting like he'd been drinking from a bottle all his little life!  I was stunned and so grateful to God for coming through for me again!  He is so faithful.  To top it all off, the lady who loaned me her pump actually said I could keep it!  She doesn't need it anymore and so she just gave it to me!  It's a double, electric pump that probably costs a couple hundred dollars.  

Even though I'm not seeing clearly, I've had a front row seat to view the body of Christ at work! Watching everyone come together to do what they can has been a true blessing.  I've had many wonderful, delicious meals delivered, our house has been cleaned by our church family, many have driven me to special events, and many have run to get groceries for us.  We are well taken care of.  

no worries,
The kids convinced mom to take a picture of her and her 
styling patch. They believe that once everyone sees it, they'll 
want to go out and buy a patch for themselves.  
That's how trends start! (Aye Matey)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Doing Better

"Well, I could be better", was what I said to everyone last weekend because I felt so crummy.  I just didn't know how to respond to the common question that everyone so typically asks, how are you?  I realized I was still saying that when friends would call or if I met someone at the doctor's office for the first time but it's not an appropriate response anymore!  Of course, I could be better, for nothing is perfect.  I decided I need to respond by saying "So much better!"  This helps me see all the positive progress I've made in the past week even though it's not as much as I'd like to see (no pun intended).

I started the steroid pack on Saturday, 3 days ago, and by that evening I could feel a big improvement in how I felt.  
  1. The tenderness in my head has almost disappeared.
  2. I'm not dizzy or off balance nearly as much
  3. It feels more normal to open both eyes and look around even though I still see double
  4. My appetite has returned
  5. I'm up all day instead of in bed
  6. It's much easier to ride in the car and not feel motion sickness
  7. I was able to enjoy A.J. and Julia's birthday party at a friend's house.
  8. I can actually see Micah up close without him being blurry or seeing two of him
  9. My droopy eyelid seems to be operating more normally.
  10. Micah doesn't seem to be showing any negative signs from the steroids I'm taking.
So many people have been so encouraging during all of this.  I'm so surprised how many have had some major surgeries or tests run for abnormal conditions.  Our pastor just told me he had a CT scan last Friday at the same facility I will be going to.  He was able to explain a little of what I will experience.  It's reassuring to know that I'm not alone.  Many have walked this journey before me.  One friend told me today that my condition, although listed "rare", others have had or they wouldn't have a name for it!  I chuckled to myself, how true.  Another friend said "Don't decide to die before the doctors have told you that your dying!"  Laughter is such good medicine for me right now.  Thanks guys!

You can continue to pray for the tests that will be run on Wednesday at 11:30.  My prayer is that there won't be anything serious behind all this.  Please pray that the positive results from the steroids will continue and that weaning off of them will not bring all the discomforts back again.  Please pray for my family that they will be sensitive to my needs and the needs of each other.  I need them to choose love and kindness over strife in our home.

I'd like to close with a hymn that has ministered to me the past few days.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Walking by faith,

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Learning not to Fear

Well, we have a new diagnosis.  I saw the Neurologist Thursday morning and I'm beginning to realize that this is a more serious matter than I thought.  After talking with me and examining my eyes, the Neuro diagnosed me with not only 6th nerve palsy but also with a partial Horner's syndrome.  Want a short science lesson?  Here we go.  Horner's syndrome is a rare condition that affects the nerves to the eye and face.  It can be caused by any interruption to the sympathetic nerve fibers, which start in the part of the brain called the hypothalamus and run to the face. 

The doctor said I have a partial Horner's because my eyelid is drooping and my pupil in my left eye is small and not dilating properly.  She has ordered that I begin a series of tests that is quite extensive.  She began to rattle off what she would like done and Rich and I just sat there is shock.  I have to have an MRI, MRA, CT scan, blood work, a second opinion with a neuro-opthamologist, and she wanted me to start on a steroid pack immediately!  Woa, crazy, I know.  The steriod pack will decrees any swelling I might have which could be the cause of the headaches.  I'm not having them as nearly as severe as in the first few days but am having mild pain at night when I lay down.  You know, just enough to keep you awake.

I started the steroid pack this morning.  Please pray that it will not effect me in any negative way and that it won't effect Micah either as I'm nursing him.  I checked about this, by the way, and my pediatrician re-assured me that it won't be harmful for him.  I decided to go ahead and do it since it's just a 5 day treatment.  If you know me very well, you know that I'm "Miss Natural" and don't like to take anything that isn't.  So this is a stretch for me.  Wednesday we will be having all three x-ray procedures done at once.  Please pray for this too as I have to lay very still for about an hour while they do the MRI/MRA.

Last night Rich and I researched this Horner's syndrome and it left feeling very frightened.  Everything we read said tumor or legion as causes and I began to see the seriousness of it all. When Rich came to bed, he prayed for me that God would remind me of the verses I know to give me comfort and immediately I remembered one I had memorized in preparation for labor 5 month ago.

Isaiah 41:10
Fear not, for I am with you
Be not dismayed, for I am your God
I will strengthen you, yes I will help you
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

I would really appreciate your prayers for my peace of mind during this time and also that the doctors involved would diagnose me correctly. 

May I remember God's faithfulness to me and not be afraid,

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I've been diagnosed with . . .

Sixth nerve palsy.  Haven't heard of it?  Neither had I!  Don't know anyone who has it?  Now you do.  My life has changed dramatically in the past week.  I began experiencing double vision last Thursday but only when I looked far away.  I didn't think much of it as our whole family has had colds and I just thought maybe I'm coming down with something.  My vision will clear up tomorrow.  As the morning progressed the next day, I realized that I was experiencing double vision even up close and was closing one eye to maneuver around the house. I began to feel dizzy and felt like everything was spinning.  

To make a long story short, we have begun a series of appointments with various doctors.  An optometrist diagnosed me with 6th nerve palsy which means the muscle in my left eye has given out and is causing my eye to turn in towards my nose (hence the double vision).  There are about 10 possible causes but so far I have none.  

My biggest problem in all this has been the headaches that have accompanied me getting used to seeing with one eye.  These sent me for a loop and literally had me in bed for the past 3 days.  I'm nursing my 5 month old baby boy and so I didn't want to take to much pain reliever.  I have been taking the recommended dosage but was worried about a migraine coming on since I wasn't able to go the full length of time without the headache breaking through.  

I'm happy to report that a few friends suggested I see a chiropractor.  We promptly made an appointment yesterday and after only one treatment the headaches have vanished!  Yeah!  I can handle walking around with the use of only one eye but not with dizziness and a headache on top of it.  Tomorrow is our appointment with the neurologist to rule out a more serious matter that no one seems to want to mention, brain tumor.

Honestly I'd have to say that my attitude was one of despair when we first found out what I have.  I guess I forgot to mention that their are different reports of how long this could last.  One doctor said 1-3 months but other reports we read online say 6-12 months.  Everything we've heard says there is no treatment and sometimes no known cause.  I can not drive, read, walk without knowing where my barriers are, or be on the computer.  Thankfully, I took typing in high school so I can type with my eyes closed and then have one of my children proof read this before I post it.  I want to be willing to accept whatever the Lord has for me but sometimes it takes my flesh time to catch up to this perspective.  

We have started a new strategy to help the children be thankful and it has ministered to me, actually, during this time.  It goes like this: whenever someone complains, they have to think of 5 things that they are thankful for and share them out loud with the rest of us.  I was awake last night not able to sleep and began thinking of the 5 things I'm thankful for.

  1. God is sovereign!  I'm so glad that God is in control of all things and so I can rest assured that he has ordained this for me at this time.  Not that he made this happen to me, I won't know until I reach heaven but he has allowed it for whatever reason.  Satan cannot work us over without God's permission as in the book of Job in the Bible. 
  2. God knows me personally!  A  friend reminded me of this over the weekend and said "rest assured, that God knows you and all the needs of your family."  This really spoke to my heart as I was worried about the kids being overloaded with responsibility.  How will I home school them, make dinner, keep up with laundry, and the list goes on.  How grateful I am that God knows every detail of my life and our needs.
  3. God loves me!  I can rejoice in knowing that God does have a wonderful plan for my life.  His plan is for me to succeed in my walk with Him. My idea of a wonderful life might not be the same as His but I do know that all things work together for the good of those who love Him.  He is not punishing me but loving me.  Maybe He is correcting me but He only corrects those He loves. 
  4. So far no one has been able to find anything else wrong with me.  My health is good and believe me they have run many different tests on me to make sure. 
  5. I'm thankful that I have capable children who can take care of me and Micah when things like this arise.  It would be so much more difficult to manage if I had toddlers. 
I could actually think of many more things I'm thankful for but this is long enough.  Please pray for us.  I have no idea how many people really read this but if only 10 people do, then I would like those 10 to pray for us.
thank you!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Family Vacation to San Antonio, Texas

Well, many want to hear about our trip to San Antonio so here it is.  I wish I had taken more pictures because we had such a nice time and it was filled with new experiences for the kids and us, for that matter!  We had never been to San Antonio's river-walk before. Apparently, San Antonio was built around a river.  After the river flooded the city many times, they finally figured out how to build it so that wouldn't happen anymore.  Now it has become a tourist attraction with the city's hotels, restaurants, and gift shops lining the river's edge.  At Christmas it looks extra spectacular because the city hangs lights from the trees overhead that reflect in the water!  It is truly a sight to behold!

We had acquired hotel points to be able to stay at the Homewood Suites right on the river for two nights.  If you ever get a chance to visit San Antonio I would suggest staying right on the river.  Not only is it beautiful but also convenient to everything you would want to see. Our car was parked in a parking garage and we never needed it until it was time to leave for home.  We walked everywhere.  Talk about a work out!   The weather was in the 70's except for the last day when it dropped to the 40's.  It's a 5 hour drive South of Dallas but it took us 6 hours because of stops.

This is our hotel in the background.  We were on the 8th floor.  You can see the dining room with all the windows over looking the river below.  We had breakfast both mornings here (included in our stay) and the kids had fun waving at the cruising boats that would float by.  I'll tell you about that later.

The first night when we arrived, we checked in our room and then after a rest, we headed down to the river walk for dinner.  We got side tracked in the lobby of our hotel looking at all the Christmas decorations and lights everywhere!  This is the dining room that I showed you in the picture above but this is the inside. The flash on our camera hides the lights reflecting from outside so we took the next picture without the flash.  

Can you get the idea of what we were looking at through those windows?  It was a sea of lights!  Can you hear the oooh's and aaaah's!

We made our way down to the river-walk with all the other million people and found our way to a Mexican restaurant that the hotel had recommended to us.  We had to wait 1/2 hour to be seated but that was ok since we had such a fabulous view.  There were boats going by on the river with tour guides explaining the history of the city of San Antonio.  As we sat there we realized that the restaurant that we were about to eat at used to be the first movie theatre in San Antonio built in 1926.  

Here is part of it.  We had a pretty good meal here but the best part was the Mariachis!  Micah didn't like them much but we sure did!  For a small tip they would sing your personal request at your table.  We requested "Guadalajara" since we used to live there and Rich has always loved this song.

These were three really friendly guys but Micah thought the music was too loud so he spit his pacifier at them right in the middle of their song!  Then he proceeded to scream at them till they stopped their singing.  It was pretty funny and we all had a good laugh about it. Rich had warned them that Micah wouldn't like their music but they refused to listen.

3 happy kids waiting for their ice cream dessert.

The next morning we went back down to the river walk to get our tickets for a boat cruise which we wanted to make sure we got to do that night.  It was a beautiful day and many people were having their breakfast outside at the river's edge enjoying the ducks.

We have been using a sling to cart Micah around in and as you can see, he enjoys it.  He spent most of his time in his sling and napped when he could.  We brought the stroller but didn't use it much for him.  It was more of a cart for all our water bottles, coats and purses.

What a snuggle bug!  Micah was such a trooper on this vacation.  He went gladly wherever we took him but we tried not to wear him out too much.

I love this picture of Reece watching the boats and ducks in the river. He took it all in and wasn't too happy when it was all over.  He kept telling me he wanted to move to San Antonio.

Another shot of the river. . . 

Peek-a-boo.  This looks like a tired little boy.  Rich was reading the history of the Alamo before entering.  We had a difficult time finding this place and were glad to finally be there. 

I wish I had taken a better picture of this place.  We had checked out books from the library before coming to educate ourselves about the battle that took place here in 1836 between Texas and Mexico.  About 200 men died defending the Alamo.  There was a miniature scene set up on display of what it all might have looked like.  The kids really liked it here.

I don't have pictures of the rest of our day but we visited a Mexican Market and heard some really good live music while we ate fresh fajitas and gorditas.  We walked through a market full of Mexican souvenirs straight from Mexico.  It really took us back, Rich and I, of when we lived in Mexico City.  Then on our way back to the hotel we stumbled upon the Spanish Governor's Palace which was built in 1722!  I think this was the best place that we toured because of the style and beauty of the Spanish homes back then.  The kitchen, bedrooms, dining rooms were all furnished with furniture and artifacts from that time period.  We were not allowed to take pictures inside but I sure wish we could have.

After having dinner in our hotel room, we headed down to the river walk to do our boat cruise.  It takes about 40 min. to cruise the river if you can handle standing in line for that long as well.  Luckily the line moved quickly and we got there early enough to not have to wait any longer.

These last two pictures are not that great but I had to add them so that you could get a feel for what we got to see.  This is a mall called the River Center and it has two movie theaters and 5 ice cream parlors!  We never went inside since we don't like malls much but we thought the Christmas tree on an island in the middle of the river was pretty grand.

We had such a nice time on this trip!  One of the best things was hanging out in the hotel, staying up too late playing Phase 10, munching on the snacks we brought.  Julia and Olivia had the giggles and pretty soon we all had them too!

The next morning we had another wonderful breakfast at the hotel and then hit some shops and let all the kids pick a souvenir (thanks to the Christmas money that some of you sent)!  They were thrilled to take something home with them from our memorable weekend together.

We are so grateful that we are a family and pray that our future holds many more special experiences as this one.