2016, you are going to be a great year!
What a couple of decades I’ve lived through. I am so ready to welcome 2016 and all of the greatness it promises to bring. Nothing can hold me back after the crazy I have experienced. Enough already. Let’s do this!
I meet John and decide much later in life that yes, I do want to have a child. Having a baby was something I never thought I would do as life was mean, dangerous and unfair! Why would I decide to bring a kid into this evil world? Well, because it was no longer evil. I had complete control over my choices. I realized I needed to share all of the wonderful things I learned about living happily and how to have a great existence. Sharing this knowledge and power with a new little human was what I knew I had to do.
Hannah was born six weeks early with four heart defects.
She had a coarctation of her aorta; her ductus didn’t close as it is supposed to at birth, she had a small hole between her atriums and a large hole between the ventricles. Before they could perform the first surgery, she developed NEC (Necrotizing Enterocolitis) which is a very dangerous condition. She was at stage 4 with a hole in her colon. She was intubated and on heavy doses of antibiotics, hoping the NEC would clear up before she went into heart failure. Fortunately, the day after they removed the tube and she was much better, they knew it was time for her first surgery.
They took the artery from her left arm and created a new aorta and put a band around her pulmonary artery to buy her time to grow. She had to get bigger before they opened the heart and closed the holes.
She grew, and about seven months later she had her open heart surgery. They patched the holes, and she was home within two days. Okay, we’ve got this. She is healthy and freaking amazing! Now she is 16 1/2, and I am one proud mama.
The choice to have a child didn’t come easy as all I’ve ever known was how to move. By the time I was in 6th grade, I moved 26 times. By the time we had Hannah and moved into the house we still live in to this day, I moved 96 times. I didn’t know how to plant roots and stay in one place for any length of time. Having a child, I knew this was it. She would live in one two-parent home for all of her years growing up. She would establish herself in one neighborhood where she would know everyone. She would have stability in school and stay with the same kids through graduation. She would know many families, and many of my friends would become her mom-away-from-mom. Stability was my promise to my daughter. Stability is what she got.
As life moved on and my beautiful daughter has a wonderful life, our lives became The Amazing Race. So many obstacles and wrenches have blasted in front of us. Once we handle the token hurdle, we find out we get U-Turned and have another obstacle to overcome. Seriously? Why can’t we have just a crazy calm life and a little more control?
It’s okay; we’ve got this.
Moving along nicely, one night Hannah is at a friends house, and John says from the bathroom before bed, “I think I need to go to the emergency room.” I walk in to find half of his face is drooping. Assuming he is having a stroke, we immediately go to the ER. He was in the hospital for three days while they were testing everything, also assuming he was having a stroke. By the third day, the neurologist was happy to see that his eyebrow and lip all were drooping, and this was a definite indicator that he only had Bell’s Palsy. They immediately released him as this will heal itself and is in no way critical.
John sought out many doctors and remedies to expedite the healing, but it lasted for over a year. For most patients, after six months it is completely gone. To this day, years later, he is still unhappy as there are still residual signs. He always complains as he thinks he no longer can smile. We know better, but we do understand.
At the same time this is going on, I start a new radio job at KAYO, a country station in Olympia. A week after I start, I notice a quarter size spot on the top of my head where my hair was gone! I was bald! I sent a picture to my hairdresser to ask if she saw this before. She told me to get to a skin doctor immediately. She told me it was Alopecia.
The doctor looked all over to find I had bald spots scattered all over my head. They would inject steroids in the area in hopes of stopping the baldness and having the hair regrow.
It continued to fall out. The drain in the shower constantly clogged due to my hair falling out.
So excited about my new job and the live remotes and emcee work I would be doing in front of crowds; now I was scared to death. I would use little clips to pull my hair over the baldness in hopes that it no one would notice. I even had to have my station picture taken for the website! NO! I am balding. Please, no pictures.
The Alopecia lasted for about nine months. Slowly but surely, the white down-like hair started coming back in. Fortunately, my hair grows pretty fast, so it didn’t take too long for the down to turn into my hair and for my hairdresser to even it all out.
When I went to the skin clinic, they asked me if I had been under any stress over the last nine or so months. The only thing I could remember was going on a ski trip; I had zero stress in my life. Wait a minute… that was except for the Angioedema!
When we returned from Disneyworld and Universal Studios in Florida, I had to see a doctor for an ear infection. They started me on a steroid to help me heal. At the same time, I was taking the steroid, I noticed my throat was shrinking. For a few days, I noticed eating was difficult. Soon, I could only drink water through a straw because my throat was too small and it was getting hard to talk.
I went to the local clinic and the doctor there was confused as to what could be wrong with me. For a little while, she started to think the steroid was causing the problem but knew that deep down, it couldn’t be it. I don’t even remember what advice she gave me but I went home and continued with life as usual.
A day or two later, I took Hannah to a friends house as it was her turn to drive the girls to volleyball camp. I told my friend who was driving to reach out to me before bringing them home as I was going to head to the emergency room. She was a bit stunned that I was in such bad shape, but she kept it to herself so my daughter wouldn’t’ worry.
I went to the ER, and once they saw how small my throat was, they admitted me to the hospital immediately. They ran random tests and finally, a doctor that had experienced this before came in and immediately knew what the problem was. I had Angioedema! My face, throat and tongue were swelling as I was reacting to my blood pressure medication.
Right before I had Hannah, my doctor saw that my blood pressure was soaring. I learned at about 34 that I have Polycystic Kidney Disease and high blood pressure is always a possibility with PKD. They put me on medication immediately and now, about ten years later I am now allergic to it. They ran Benadryl through me all night while my throat returned to normal and then they sent me home.
My nephrologist had to find a second tier medication now as I had to remain on blood pressure medication. I started the new medicine immediately and about three or so years later, while once again on steroids for another ear problem, my throat was starting to close again. Seriously?
Not even thinking about it, I continued with life but after a few days, I knew something was terribly wrong. This time, I go back to the walk-in clinic, and the doctor was rather scared with my condition. She thought about calling an ambulance because she didn’t want me to die in her office. I told her about the last time I had this, and she started doing research. She grabbed an EpiPen and had it next to her while she was on the computer, just in case I stopped breathing.
She came back in with an injection of a Benadryl type medicine and told me that I wasn’t going anywhere until she saw my throat swelling go down. She was very close to calling an ambulance; I had to plead with her to wait it out. I didn’t need to go back to the ER!
A half hour later, she realized the swelling was going down, so she felt a little better about my leaving. The deal was, I had to go straight home that was just about a mile away.
It turned out, the steroids that I was taking both times saved my life. Having Angioedema can close your throat very quickly. With the steroids, it was fighting to get through. I was prescribed EpiPens now and need to have them on me at all times. I am on a third tier blood pressure medication now. If this one causes a reaction, I could be screwed!
At the same walk-in clinic, which is becoming my primary doctors office, I go in because I had been sick and was not getting better. I didn’t know if I had the flu or what but my chest was full, and my cough was awful.
When I walked in to the very full office, they made me wear a mask as they don’t want germs to spread. As I was sitting there, I realized I was getting incredibly hot. I would look outside to the cold pouring rain and thought, I need to go out there and lay on the sidewalk! I was starting to shake and realized; I needed to do something.
I get up and go to the bathroom, right there in the waiting area. I go to the door and attempt to open it only to find it is locked; someone is inside. My head started to spin and so did I. Next thing I know, I am on the ground, and a man is asking me my name and if I know who the president is. I am surrounded by EMT’s from the hospital. The clinic rushed all of the other people in the waiting room to another room and called the hospital. I passed out right there on the floor. I have never passed out in my life.
I am now back in the hospital with a bad, bad cold. They think I have a heart problem or perhaps I am having a stroke. They were treating me for potentially horrible things when I kept trying to tell them, I am only sick with a cold or flu! I was ordered to have no food. They ran so many tests; my head was spinning. They insisted on ruling out a heart condition or a stroke before they would listen to what I was saying!
There was one nurse who was my savior. He was a traveling nurse so he would only be at this hospital for about nine weeks before he moved on to his next assignment. He listened to me and knew it wasn’t something life threatening! He brought me food and drinks. Soon he would bring me morphine, dropping it through the IV so my coughing and pain would subside for a little while. When it kicked up again, he would give me more morphine. He was the reason I started getting better.
It later was determined that I had a lung infection. Because my cough was so loud and so consistent, they had to move me to a room where there were no patients nearby as I would keep everyone awake. After a few days, I was once again released from the hospital.
All of this has been so crazy as I am one of the most in-shape people I know. I am at a perfect weight for my body. I call it my “drivers license weight.” Once I got down to what was on my license, this number became my barometer. If I find myself up a pound or two, I cut back and boom, down to the number on my license. Ladies, we all know that the weight you told them to put on your license is far from reality. Am I right?
I walk many miles every week, and I’ve played indoor soccer for almost five years every single Monday. I am in great shape! I am older than most of the women I know in town and the fact is, I am in much better shape. These random illnesses and crap that’s come my way has got to stop!
The first six months of playing soccer with a group of different women, while I was dribbling the ball down the field, another woman, much larger than me runs right into me. For the first time in my life, I see stars! I went to the back of the field to be a defender for a while so I could assess my injuries. I thought perhaps, I broke my hip.
I went to an orthopedic doctor to find out the bottom three discs in my spine were bulging and one of the three was ruptured. I couldn’t do any exercise, including soccer for six months. I had injections in the spine three times to help with the pain. During this healing time, I would walk because I refused to get out of shape! With my dog, I walked at least 4 miles every day.
Staying at Crystal Mountain for a few days, we got in lots of skiing. On the third day and what I call, “the run after the last run,” I lost control. We were showing friends a new area they hadn’t skied before. I took one turn and started through the trees when I hit a snow snake (as my husband calls it). I lost my skis and was flying down the steep slope on my back, head first. Without a care in the world, I didn’t realize how dangerous this was. My husband skied fast to get down the hill and braced himself to stop me.
I felt fine but a bit exhausted. I knew I should have made the run before, my last one. Everyone gathered my equipment, I put the skis back on and down the hill I went. The next morning, I found myself in immense pain. Darn it! The fall caused my rotator cuff in my shoulder to tear! Once again, I am back to the orthopedic doctor and physical therapy for weeks to get my body back in shape.
On August 31st while playing the goalie position, the ball was coming directly at me, so I ducked down and grabbed it before it went in the box. I saved the goal! At the same time, the foot that kicked it also kicked my ring finger. I didn’t realize how bad it was until a few moments later when I saw my finger was huge, and the ring was stuck. I went to my walk-in clinic yet again, and the doctor wasn’t sure what to do. He knew he could cut the ring off but didn’t want to destroy it. I contacted the jeweler to find that they could easily remove it, and it was all covered under the warranty. After the swelling would go down, they would have it resized, and I would be good to go.
After many months and weeks of hand therapy, my knuckle is still huge. The kick tore a ligament, and the therapist has been working hard to get it down to a size where once again, I could get the ring back on. It’s been four months since I’ve been able to wear my wedding ring. All in all, I wasn’t too worried about it because, after all, it is just a finger. Even with a finger injury, I could still play soccer.
As we are approaching the end of 2015, many changes are happening! One that I desperately hate is the fact that the guy running the soccer center is closing up shop. Our every Monday night soccer game is over. Kaput! Almost five years of playing with some amazing ladies… it’s coming to an end. The man who owns it, and has played with us for the entire time, is looking to sell the business and officially retire. He has put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into the center as well as the properties surrounding it. He is selling them off one by one, trying to free up his time so he can travel and enjoy what retirement has to offer.
There is another center not much further away where we can potentially play, but I’m not getting good vibes between their not returning my calls and putting me on hold forever. It will cost us more to play; we always have to have plenty of ladies available to cover the cost too. I just don’t “feel it” like I have with the place where I’ve spent my soccer career playing.
And finally, we traveled to the Oregon Coast, my special happy place Yachats, to spend Christmas with my husband’s family last week. We rented a big house near the bay where everyone could share the same space and enjoy each others company over the holiday.
During the ride down, I realized my back was hurting, as it often does. My husband was taught by my physical therapist years ago how to correct the problem with a simple fix. After we had finished unpacking, he performed the physical therapy move so I would feel better. This adjustment took care of the back issue, but I continued to have a strange pain in my back and hip. It hurt for the rest of the trip, so I knew to keep my eye on what I was experiencing.
On the last day of our vacation, I found a few red bumps on my abdomen. I showed them to my husband, and he joked that I must have been devoured by a spider overnight. It made sense, so I disregarded it. We looked but didn’t see any evidence of a spider in the bed.
Since I’ve been home, my spider bites have grown. They are on my abdomen, my back, and stomach. Ironically they seem to be everywhere my right kidney feeds. Not only do I have the rash, but now the area under the bumps is swollen.
Last night my cat came up for his nightly visit, and when his 15-pound body stepped on my right side, I thought I would jump through the roof. My right kidney is in incredible pain right now. My entire left side is so tender and sensitive; I can’t tell if it’s my kidney, my hip or what is going on.
Knowing since my early 30’s that I have Polycystic Kidney Disease, I started to get nervous that maybe, the time was here when my kidney was failing. As soon as we got home, I called my nephrologist to see if I could get in. I knew no matter what I would be facing; it was time to see him. I am now scared that something scary was going to happen. I knew that he would look at my blood work and tell me, it’s time for dialysis.
Before he would see me, I had to get bloodwork done so he could see the extent of the problem. Five hours later, I am sitting in his office waiting for him to come in. The longer I sat, the more I worried that this appointment could very well be a life changer. I could be looking at dialysis or potential transplant down the road. PKD might have finally got me.
The doctor came in and started looking at my blood work analysis. I watched his eyes and waited. He said the numbers for my kidneys were down, yet he was not yet concerned. I asked about the rash that was surrounding my kidney. I read online that often with kidney failure, a rash can appear because of the toxins in the blood. He asked me to stand up so he could see the rash.
Within seconds, I go from seeing my life flash before my eyes to overwhelming happiness! What I thought was wrong and life changing was nothing more than merely a virus! He told me I have shingles! Shingles is an extremely painful virus that happens to some who have had chicken pox. It will remain dormant forever for many, for some, it comes back as shingles. This was the best, horrible news I’ve ever had!
To end 2015, I have a nasty red rash on my right side, but I have the medication to get me through it and drugs to reduce the sensitivity of the nerves. It feels like my right side is covered with third-degree burns. I don’t care; it’s a virus and within a month or two, the pain will go away.
I have so many things to complete, 2016 is going to be the start of a spectacular, brand new life. I will continue working part time on the air in Olympia at MIXX 96.1 and in Seattle at 94.1 KMPS. I will be finishing some of the many books I am writing, and the next phase of my life will be beginning. I am so excited for what the next decade brings.
Yes, I have had some nasty little wrenches thrown at me, but you know what, as they say, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” They aren’t kidding. I will take these “Amazing Race detours” and deal with every little road block thrown my way. Bring it baby… 2016 is going to rock!
Happy new year to you all!