Sunday, December 17, 2017

Surgery


I received many requests to see the images from my surgery. The days following my surgery have been extremely difficult, but I can finally sit up and type on my computer. I have decided to compile everything into a blog post. This way I can explain what it is you are actually seeing, and also give you a comparison to images of generic, healthy intestines for perspective all in one place.

I have been battling a severe Crohn's Disease flare up for 2 1/2 years. Medication, diet, therapies, nothing has helped bring improvement. Everything kept getting worse. So I chose to win this battle with surgery. In this surgery, I had approximately 1 foot of small intestine removed, plus the ileocecal valve and the appendix. The ileocecal valve is just the valve that pushes food from the small intestine into the large intestine. I also had about 6 1/2 inches (17 cm) of large intestine removed at the sigmoid colon. The sigmoid colon is the last piece of the large intestine before the rectum. Doctors did not remove my rectum, though it was also unhealthy. They stapled the top of my rectum closed from the inside. They took the remaining healthy large intestine and pulled it through an opening in my abdomen. This is now a stoma on my belly and it is how I pass poop. It empties entirely on its own into a discreet bag that I barely even feel. I empty the bag regularly into a toilet, keep the area clean, and no longer suffer in the bathroom. My colostomy is a beautiful, wonderful thing. We will see if my rectum can ever heal. Down the road, we may remove my colostomy and reconnect my colon to my rectum. That will not happen for quite some time. I will have my colostomy for anywhere from 1 year to 10 years or even the rest of my life.

To start, here are a few images of healthy guts for comparison.



This first image is obviously a digital depiction, but it is pretty accurate. The small intestine is smooth, both are faintly pinkish, brown, very pale. 


This is the inside of someone's large intestine. you can see the smooth ridges, the pale pink color, smooth bowel walls, and thin veins that are barely visible.


This is the inside of someone's small intestine. Like the outside, the inside is pretty smooth, pale, pink, nondescript.



And then, we have my guts.


This is my small intestine. It has been pulled out of a laparoscopic incision and placed on top of me so they can remove the diseased portion. This image was taken before they actually removed anything!
To the left, you can see some healthy small intestine sort of piled onto each other. The diseased portion is what is all stretched out and connected to the yellow fatty tissue. Everyone has fatty tissue connected to their intestines, but you can see mine has started to creep up the bowel walls and is already almost halfway around parts of the small intestine. This is from Crohn's disease and is not good. 
My surgeon removed 30 cm, or 1 foot, of this diseased small intestine, plus the ileocecal valve and appendix.






In these four images above, my surgeon had removed the diseased portion of small intestine. She then proceeded to dissect it to show the insides and damage done by the disease. Remember that beautiful, smooth, pink small bowel image from earlier? Yeah, this was incredibly swollen, strictured, ulcerated, and very, VERY unhappy.

You can see a tiny portion of healthier bowel attached to the diseased portion on the left side of the last picture. The metal surgical tool is resting on the healthy piece. Right beneath it is a little tail, and that is the appendix. You can see the extreme contrast in size, color, and texture with the healthy and unhealthy parts.






In these two images, we are looking down from my belly button area into my pelvis. In the top image, you can see the rod is pushing up on a little red ball. That is my uterus! The two little white appendages on either side of it are my ovaries. Hi, future babies!!
The large intestine is where more of that fatty tissue is growing along. A surgical tool is pulling up the sigmoid colon in the bottom picture.



This is the sigmoid colon after it has been removed from my insides before she dissects it. You can see it is very swollen, red, a lot of fatty tissue growing oddly on it, and not that great looking. The inside was horrific...


This was the inside of my sigmoid colon. I have been living for several months with a little more than half a foot of my large intestine looking like this. Those are "rake" or "bear claw" ulcers. Long, stretched out sores that were getting deeper and deeper. The tissue in between each ulcer was very swollen, and this all bled very easily. On the bottom picture, you can see on the very left-most part of the diseased bowel, it turns more brown and pale in color and gets a little narrower. That is where healthy tissue started to return. 

Nothing could have healed these organs at this point, save the literal hand of God. This was too far gone. It would never heal properly. In no time, this would have eventually perforated my bowel and potentially killed me with sepsis. We needed to remove it before it had the chance to destroy other healthy parts.

This disease could certainly come back. I am not cured of Crohn's. But the parts that went out-of-control are gone from my body. This is great news!



I have been trying to live a normal life while all of this has been going on inside of me. I have been putting forth a false front of looking healthy and normal and able to do normal things, like go grocery shopping, attend church, play my cello, teach lessons, or drive around town. In reality, those "normal" activities people have seen from me are actually me performing at my peak, pushing myself beyond what I should have been doing, using the most of my energy and capability, and silently getting worse and suffering. I wasn't getting worse because I was pushing myself, no. But in order to survive and get by day-to-day in life, I had to push myself as though I were being a marathon mom every single day. I certainly haven't felt like a super marathon mom who has her game together, though. My home is a wreck. Laundry is everywhere. I haven't done the dishes in over two months. I have no idea what needs to be bought at the grocery store next. I have to say "no" to requests to play jumping and running games with my two-year-old because I am just too tired and sick. I spend most of my time mothering from my bed or the toilet, praying she will be satisfied with that mac and cheese, fruit snacks, her puzzle game and an episode of LeapFrog for just 30 more minutes while I ride out these cramps in agony.


But nobody really understood the severity of how ill I have been feeling simply because, well, I wear illness well. My illness is invisible from the outside. Unless you were by my side every single minute of every day, there is no way you could have known just how hard this disease has been for me. Having these images is justifying for me. It is proof that I can literally show people what I have been struggling to live with.


Now I can also show the scars of what it is I have overcome and will continue to battle until a cure is discovered. This picture below was taken the day after surgery, so I look pretty miserable (because I felt pretty miserable).

There are 6 surgical incisions, plus my ostomy. Two of the 6 laparoscopic incisions are bandaged. So 7 total surgical sites on my abdomen for this surgery. 


Thank you for being respectful, and for all of your love, prayers, and support.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Thirteenth

Day before surgery. It was a good day. Finished listening to The Shack with my mom while I colored some pictures. I spoke with two ostomy nurses and feel very comfortable with how my future will be. My mom and I watched the last parts of a few episodes of Project Runway, and then she left to go take care of some things at the RV park where she is staying a few miles up the road. I hung out in my room, took a shower, video chatted with Tyler and Bethany for a while. A visitor, Spencer Bassett, came by this evening to see us. An endocrinologist came by to let me know she is observing my case while I am here because my blood sugar has been consistently low. However, since I have no alarming symptoms, they aren't super concerned. She will just be watching my case and I probably won't see her again. My surgeon came by and just went over a few basics of what will happen tomorrow. We packed up most of my belongings since I will be moving to a new room after surgery. All I have to do now is sleep, wake up, do my full-body wipe down with the disinfectant cloths, go down to preop, get changed for surgery, and wait!

Twelfth

Tuesday, December 12

Today was a pretty simple day. I slept okay last night. Had to wake up for blood draws and meds around 5:30, no big deal. It is amazing having a PICC line because they don't have to poke me for blood draws. They just use my line! So I can basically sleep through it all. Except for the oral meds. But that isn't a huge deal, either. I stayed awake for a little while after this, and eventually dozed off the rest of the morning.

I have had consistent pain. It is just the usual pain I always have, it is just getting worse. Good thing we are taking it all out on Thursday. I am so looking forward to this relief.

I am seriously so excited to have a stoma. It seems so weird. Most people would definitely NOT be excited about this! Lots of people do not understand my eagerness. I tell them what I am having and the response is not always positive. I don't really care because I want to show the world that this is a GOOD thing. My life is going to get so much better! Having an ostomy is not gross, it is not limiting, and it is not something to be sad about. Then, in the future, when someone they love has to have something similar, or even themselves, they will remember me. They will see just how well I am handling this.

I played cello live on facebook. It was so much fun. It really wore me out, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I took requests for Christmas songs from my friends. The nurses and patients in the hallway loved it, too. I was just happy to play and share music.

Now I am trying to figure out what to do tomorrow. It is my last day without an ostomy for either a very long time or possibly forever. I will take pictures for sure. I am starting to get nerves for Thursday. I am a little anxious, a little excited. To me, surgery is really cool anyway, and I wish I could watch the whole thing! I have requested pictures from the surgeon of my diseased parts from the laparoscope she will be using.

We also made plans today for my dad and Tyler to come back out on Sunday. They will fly out Sunday morning and get home Monday evening. I am so excited that they will be here! Thursday and Friday will be rough days, I will probably barely be conscious. Saturday will be rough in its own way, so I am really really glad that Tyler will be here for Sunday. I miss him so much. And Bethany. I so look forward to my homecoming with Bethany.

I just got my morphine shot fot the night. I should head to sleep. I will probably write again tomorrow, the eve of my surgery! :D

Scripps

I was admitted to Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, California one week ago today on December 4, 2017.

It has not been a flawless stay, though I must say I have only been impressed with the treatment and level of care at this hospital.

For journaling purposes, here is what each day has consisted of, to the best of my memory. From here on out, I will try to update more frequently.

Monday, December 4
Upon arriving and checking in at admitting, we learned they had tried to pre-authorize this hospital stay with my old insurance, so of course, it was denied. So they had to re-submit me as an inpatient on an "urgent" request, which would mean insurance doesn't really have a say, they will just do it because it is urgent. I had to be admitted because I am on TPN and as scheduled for surgery on Wednesday the 6th. So that took an hour or so, but it resolved, I got my hospital room and got set up. Then we learned they can't actually get my TPN officially hooked up until the next night! The pharmacy they order TPN from isn't on the hospital campus, and it was already afternoon. It wouldn't be ready until the next night. So we just hooked me up to dextrose saline and I took it very carefully with my movement and activity. Had a few consultations with doctors and other hospital staff. I took milk of magnesia as a mild prep for a colonoscopy the next day. The colonoscopy was to help the doctors and surgeon know what needs to be taken out. We did not know when during the day the colonoscopy would happen yet. I would take one dose in the evening, and the next one in the morning, followed by two mineral oil enemas prior to the procedure. They took lots of blood work and stool samples, just to rule out and check for various things as a precaution.


Tuesday, December 5
This was a crazy day. I had my second dose of milk of magnesia, and the two enemas. They were surprisingly soft and soothing, the mineral oil enemas! Much less sting than regular saline enemas. Then it was just a waiting game, hearing when I could go down for a scope. We were hoping it would be before lunch. Just get it over with and have the rest of the day to recover from the anesthesia and mentally prepare for surgery on Wednesday. Well, we didnt' get in before lunch, that's okay. We were scheduled for 3pm. At 1:30, the resident doctor came in and told us some bad news. My stool sample had come back POSTIVE for C-Diff. I had tested negative for c-diff TWICE the previous month. This meant we had to postpone surgery. HOWEVER, since we found it before the colonoscopy, we could really jump on a more solid option for treating it! Fecal Microbiota Transplant! Since this was a recurrence (I had it back in October), I was eligible for the FMT. So we killed two birds with one stone during the colonoscopy. They found the spots they wanted to remove surgically (sort of... they couldn't even get into the terminal ileum it was so badly strictured, so Dr. Weston will decide how much to remove once she's actually in there and looking at it with her own eyes) and on the way out, they hosed down my colon with someone else's healthy poop. Yup. Pretty rad. It has a 95% success rate, which is better than the antibiotics they gave me the first time. I don't remember their success rate, I just know the FMT is better.

In the scope, they specifically found: Severely strictured and inflamed terminal ileum, at least 30 cm of it from what they can see on CAT scans. There is also 25 cm of the sigmoid colon that is baaaad. This is more than double what my GI in Las Vegas found a month ago. He only found about 3-4 inches, which is 8-10 cm. We are looking at possibly removing a foot of my large intestine now. In all, I'll have somewhere around 2 feet of my insides removed. They will leave my rectum. I have disease there, too, and perianal disease, but it gets complicated when you try to do surgery on the rectum and anus. So they will leave it. They will create a stoma from my descending colon and I will have that for many years, if not the rest of my life.

Wednesday, December 6
I honestly do not remember all that happened on Wednesday. I know my cousin had surgery just a couple of hours north of me in LA, and it was a major success. My dad and Tyler came down from Las Vegas to spend Wednesday and Thursday with me. We mostly just hung out in my room, chatted, had a good time. It was good company and therapeutic to have my family with me. They got to meet some of my doctors. We are all just so impressed with them.

Thursday, December 7
Tyler stayed the night with me Wednesday night on a cot. We all hung out Thursday, waiting for continued updates on what happens next, when do we schedule surgery again, what's the plan?

Friday, December 8
Surgery was officially scheduled for Thursday, December 14!

Saturday, December 9
I was moved to a new room with a view of the ocean! It has been lovely being in this room, watching the water and sky change color all day long, concluding with amazing, deep red sunsets and a horizon that just fades away into blackness.

Sunday, December 10
This was a hard day. I was in a lot of pain all day long and went to the bathroom a lot. Definitely the worst day here health-wise.

Monday, December 11
This was a weird day! We started the day learning that a special blood test I had done (super long story to be written another time) was screwed up by the specialty lab in Texas. They tested me for the wrong thing!! It's an expensive test and they messed up! Called my doctor's office in Las Vegas and left a message, requesting more information and wanting to know what to do next, also saying I will not be paying for that kind of mistake. Then the resident doctor came in and told us my white blood cell count is high. They were worried about the cdiff still being there. They need to start antibiotics again. Will this postpone surgery? Maybe. Left us hanging for HOURS not knowing if surgery was to be delayed. My mom and I were emotional. Several hours later, my IBD specialist comes in and when we asked her about needing to delay surgery for the potential cdiff, she was taken aback and said "no!" We do not have to delay surgery any longer!! HUZZAH! Then, my doctor's office in Las Vegas called me back. I do not have to pay for the lab's screwup, they can still perform the CORRECT test on the blood sample that was sent in, and everything is being taken care of. Such a huge relief!

THEN. On Saturday, I had posted to Facebook how much I missed playing the cello. One of Tyler's uncles reached out on Reddit and asked if anyone in the San Diego area had a cello they could loan to his sick niece in the hospital while she waits for surgery. Long story short, Monday night, this stranger named Thomas came up to my hospital room with his cello! I get to keep it for a few days. He came while my Uncle Jim, Aunt Gail and cousin Bre were all visiting. Playing this cello has been medicine for my soul.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Food

I have been unable to enjoy food for far too long. More recently, I have been unable to consume enough food to thrive for a few months. And now I consume no food and get all my calories and nutrients from TPN through a PICC line.

I really miss food.
Here are some things I cannot wait to enjoy eating again without pain or regret.


Captain Crunch
Fruit salad
Any vegetable salad
Pizza - pepperoni, bell pepper, grilled onion, sausage, bacon
Garlic bread and marinara sauce
Pulled pork enchiladas
Turkey, ham, stuffing and cranberry sandwich
Doritos - cool ranch and nacho
Cream of wheat with honey and cinnamon sugar
Wendy's french fries and chocolate frosty
Five Guys bacon cheeseburgers and cajun fries with a root beer or Dr. Pepper
Chocolate cake
Lemon cake
Strawberry cake
Orange cake
Pumpkin pie
Apple pie
Oreos
Chocolate chip cookies
Gingersnap cookies
Girl Scout Thin Mints
Cinnamon Jumbles
Orange rolls
Chicken Fettucini Alfredo
Ground beef chili
Pumpkin pancakes
Blueberry pancakes
Omelets
Soft pretzels and cheese
Shepherd's Pie
Roasted ham
Pork ribs

Crohn's

I have not written on this blog in over three years.

I felt inspired to write a few things down, and this feels like the appropriate place.

Summary:

I have been sick and in a moderate to severe Crohn's Disease flare up for over two years. Recently it was upgraded to being entirely severe. I have been flaring pretty much since my daughter was born in June of 2015. I keep failing medications, and we are at a point where I am not responding to anything. I currently cannot eat anything without immense pain, and everything I eat turns into bloody diarrhea. The last portion of my colon is so swollen, even the bloody, mucusy liquids I create are difficult to pass. So difficult, it sometimes triggers vomiting, because my system essentially tells my brain "you need to empty, try the other way!" So I am on TPN through a PICC line and no food by mouth. Next step is major surgery.



Full story:

When I first got pregnant in 2014, I was 144 pounds. The heaviest I have ever been. I quickly dropped down to 122 pounds after dealing with severe hyperemesis gravidarum. Over the course of the pregnancy, I managed to gain 10 more pounds, topping out at 132 the day she was born. I immediately dropped all of that weight and was back to 122 very quickly. It was all baby and fluid and placenta, no actual extra weight gain. My daughter was born in June 2015. I fell into a Crohn's flare almost immediately. We upped my dosage of Humira for a while. This seemed to help a little bit, and my weight stabilized between 100 and 110 for a while. 105 is the minimum in my healthy range. But after a year I was still going downhill.

On my birthday in 2016, I was admitted to the hospital weighing 86 pounds and going to the bathroom 15+ times a day. A CT scan showed inflammation in the descending colon and terminal ileum, but not a lot of detail. I was put on IV steroids and that seemed to help slow things down and I was discharged after 5 days. I tapered off of steroids for a few months. I went off Humira and switched to Entyvio in October 2016.

By May 2017 we determined I was not responding to Entyvio and I was referred to an IBD clinic at Scripps. They did an MRE and colonoscopy and found moderate-to-severely active Crohn's in my sigmoid and descending colon and my terminal ileum. The MRE scan showed a solid 30-40 centimeters of really bad disease extending up the terminal ileum.

I started a new drug in June called Stelara. It actually seemed to help at first. However, after 6 weeks on it, I developed some really bad perianal disease. Life was pretty miserable. We suspected I may have a fistula, so I was put on an antibiotic and referred to a surgeon at Scripps. Upon examination, she found no fistulas, just really, really bad disease and some horribly deep fissures. There was nothing surgically she could do. She did sit down and show me the images from my MRE and explained to me what she would end up doing if I do not respond to Stelara. She was pretty awesome and said I am a good candidate.

We believe the antibiotic I was put on as a precaution compromised my digestive system and I caught a c-diff infection from this. This went undetected and untreated until late October. The c-diff is gone and healed, but it threw a wrench into my Crohn's Disease. Spun it into the worst flare I have ever had. In two months, from September to November, I lost 20 pounds, and I did not have 20 pounds to lose. I was 106 at the end of August. 105 is my healthy minimum and I have dropped to 85 pounds.

I was admitted to the hospital on November 9th immediately following a sigmoidoscopy that showed a solid 3-4 inch segment of colon almost completely swollen shut, bleeding at the slightest touch, covered in ulcers and long fissures, just in really, really bad condition. In the ER, they did a CAT scan that also showed there is still inflammation in my terminal ileum. It did not show enough detail to determine how severe it was, but we know the MRE back in May was not good, so this is probably still the same. I was put on IV steroids again, complete bowel rest (no food or drink by mouth), and given a PICC line for TPN. This was supposed to help calm things down and get me on the path to healing.

After 9 days, we did another CAT scan and tried reintroducing clear liquids at dinner time. This gave me some problems, but we wanted to see if I could tolerate more. So the next day we tried "full liquids", which included pudding, yogurt, cream of wheat, jello, etc. This did not work well at all. I was in so much pain, it triggered me to go to the bathroom and pass more bloody mucus, and I was very nauseated. The scan showed only a slight decrease in swelling. This was probably due more to the bowel rest than anything else. We determined I am not responding to steroids at all. My doctor actually watched me attempt to eat and said that no, it isn't working, continue the bowel rest and TPN.

I was discharged on November 22nd and sent home with home nurse care for my TPN and PICC line. We have temporarily moved in with my parents so that Tyler can continue to work while someone watches Bethany and helps care for me. I am to continue prednisone, bowel rest, and TPN for two weeks before we call it quits and send me to Scripps for surgery.

I am no better today than I was the day I was admitted over two weeks ago, with the exception of receiving calories through TPN and having access to pain medication. I have gained no weight, I still pass bloody diarrhea with severe pain and difficulty, and consuming food is sadly impossible. At this point, I don't think it is worth waiting anymore.

I am going to be messaging my Scripps doctor and ask her what we need to do to get the ball rolling. I probably need to get off the prednisone asap, as it isn't doing anything anyway, and I have heard you don't want to be on such a heavy immunosuppressant during major surgery. This is fine by me because I hate prednisone. I also want to get this scheduled before the end of the year. We have met our deductible and I don't want to have to start all over again by paying huge sums of money for this surgery. With it being out-of-state, it may cost more anyway. Any way we can minimize the cost is important to me.

But even more important is getting myself better as soon as possible. I do not enjoy living life at this quality. My heart is weakened, I cannot care for my daughter alone, I cannot even live alone. There are things in life I want to do that I currently cannot. I am 26 years old with the physical ability of your average 80-year old. I will have my body back. I will be the person I want to be no matter what happens with my body, but I am determined to have my health. I will have my child-bearing years and I will have control of who I am. My happiness, my spirit, my life is still in my control. I just have to get through this massive hurdle.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Exercise

A self-help/self-improvement motivational speaker by the name of Kirk Duncan teaches ways to fight negativity in your life. He provides exercises you can use. I am going to practice one here on the blog, with a slight twist.
One of the exercises he teaches is to take a piece of paper and divide it down the middle. On the left side, you write down the Top Ten negative thoughts you have had about yourself for the past few days. Once that's done, you kind of feel crappy. So then you take the right side, and straight across from each negative thought, you write the opposite, PLUS an extra positive. Example:

1. I'll never make it.

Straight across, you write:

2. I WILL make it, and I will surpass all expectations.

One negative versus two positives. Once you're done writing it all out, you usually feel a lot better about yourself, and it is easier in the future to fight those same negative thoughts. It's good to practice this regularly.

Well today, I am having a pretty awful day and I want to whine about it. I need to whine about it, because I can't let it sit in my head. So I'm going to whine, but I might as well be productive with it. Right now I feel like it's a stupid thing to do, but I tend to think that before every self-help exercise and always find out after that I was wrong about it being stupid. So I'll trust that.


----
I am not having a good day and I'm alone with the dogs, who I'm fairly pissed at right now.

I took my first quiz for an online class that has only 4 quizzes (plus a final exam) and I got a D. A freaking D. Great start. I feel stupid and incompetent. I just want to finish this class (and one more online one... ugh) and get my stinking diploma. At this point I don't feel like I deserve it.

Crohn's disease is back and firing away. I feel like crap. It's been nearly 4 years since I've had to deal with anything like this. Four years of medically-induced remission. I hate this. I really hate this. I'm seeing my doctor next week because it's been 2 months and it's only getting worse. I'm afraid of what he is going to put me on and what the future holds. I don't want drugs. I don't want even more radiation from tests. I don't want this stupid incurable disease. I just want to be rid of this.

After taking the quiz and to try and get fresh air to help lift my moods and maybe my physical well-being, I took Idiot and Butthead (Tonka and Hoover) outside to lay in the grass. A lady walked across the street with her labrador and the dogs were off. I yelled that they're friendly while running after them, but the lady was way rude and threatened to hurt the dogs if they did anything. I told her that's unnecessary, what I said is true, they're not aggressive. She continued to be rude. I had to literally DRAG the 2 full-grown adult male labradors (70-something and 85lbs) across the street with my bare hands, and hurt my hands in the process. Crohn's arthritis.
I came inside from the struggle with the dogs and had to lay on the floor. The whole thing wiped me out. This isn't normal, and I do not like it.
My stomach hurts. My hands hurt. My motivation to get my stupid degree is struggling.

This. Sucks.




Those are three really crappy things.
I'm not "in the mood" to look on the bright side, but I'll force myself until the mood is there.

We are not staying in our apartment this week, which means we are not running power, which means we are saving money.

I have a very talented husband who works hard long hours to support us and still loves me no matter how I feel about myself.

I'm not happy with the dogs right now, but I get to live with dogs this week. Tyler and I don't have a dog. Remember, Laura? You love dogs. You LOVE DOGS. Doggies. Puppies. They're babies. You love them. You can't stay mad at them.

I have a car. It runs. It gets really good mileage. And it's a Volkswagen.

I have clothes. Okay, this one feels stupid to write, but if I really think about it, I can actually choose what I want to wear each day. Comfort only? I have options. Formal? I have options. Professional? Check the closet, they're there. Outdoor work/play? Yep, I have things for that. Compared to millions of people on the planet, I'm pretty lucky.

I just got a new laptop. Duh! I forgot that one! It was a great price and is a great computer! I'm writing on my old laptop because I'm going to wait and use the new one for when this one is ready to be retired, which won't be long now.

----
I am feeling better after writing. I don't feel like I want to bawl anymore. I'm still not happy about the grade and I still feel sick. But I'm not wallowing in self-loathing and pity anymore. And I don't want to give up, which is what I wanted to do when I started writing. Things will get better and part of that is in my control.

I did this exercise for myself, but I hope others can use Kirk Duncan's exercises and find ways to think better about their lives and situations. We all face negativity, whether it's in our control or not. Even if some parts are out of our control (the dogs' actions, the disease), we have control over how it impacts our thoughts, which down the road can impact the external outcomes.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Priesthood

In college, I was able to take an incredible class. It was hands-down my favorite class in my entire college career. Family Foundations is the name of the course. It is based entirely off of the A Proclamation to the World: The Family. In this class, the professor was most definitely inspired to share a little tidbit I had never thought about. I would like to share these teachings and the testimony I have received from this revelation here. 

I'll admit, for a number of years, I had the question "why don't women have the priesthood?", but not in an accusatory fashion. I simply didn't completely understand. I had faith that Heavenly Father has a reason for everything. Because I approached this subject prayerfully and holding all faith that Heavenly Father knows more than I do, and without turning to worldly sources, I was able to receive the answer to that question that had been sitting the back of my head.

In A Proclamation to the World: The Family, we learn that man and woman, husband and wife, have equal standings with each other under the Lord. Many prophets and church leaders have taught this time and time again as well. (Examples: 
1 Corinthians 11:11, A, B, C, D, E, ... okay I could go on and on! Feel free to search lds.org for more references!)


My Family Foundations professor pointed out the scripture mastery scripture, Moses 1:39.
"For behold, this is my work and my glory — to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."

We know that we are assigned to help fulfill his work on the Earth, yes? And we each have divinely appointed roles, which we agreed to before we came down to this Earth. Our eternal covenant marriage relationships are 3-way: husband, wife, and Jesus Christ. We all work together.

The professor broke down the scripture quoted above, which has sometimes been nicknamed "The Lord's Mission Statement." There are two main parts to the Lord's work. Bringing to pass *ETERNAL LIFE* and *IMMORTALITY*

This is where men and women with their divinely appointed roles fit in. The priesthood is what ultimately brings about Eternal Life. Without the priesthood, we cannot make sacred covenants and be sealed to our families, which we know is essential to obtaining eternal life.
However, we cannot obtain eternal life without first having immortality. What do we need to have immortality? First and foremost, we must have a body. How do we get bodies? Well, only the woman has the physical capability and the divine calling to create a human child and help him/her to grow and develop before finally entering the world outside the woman's body.
The priesthood will help to bring to pass eternal life, and the bearing of children will bring to pass immortality. We women are, hand in hand, creators with the Most High God. How cool is that!!

And BOTH of those keys - immortality and eternal life - need BOTH men and women. But the larger responsibility of these keys falls to one and the other. Men with the priesthood NEED women. They need to be sustained. They need to be in covenant with a woman and Heavenly Father. They need to be able to honor and uplift their wives. They need women for all mankind to obtain eternal life.
Women simply cannot bear children without a man! (I hope we all know and understand why....) And the pr
ophets have counselled that the best home environment for children involves a man and woman, legally and lawfully wedded for time and all eternity in the House of the Lord. This isn't the case for everyone. There are single parents, and the prophets have addressed these cases. Also, not every woman can have kids in this life, even if they have a righteous, worthy temple marriage.

But that doesn't mean a woman cannot live out the rest of her calling. Being a mother is more than just bearing children. If you don't believe me, go talk to anybody you know who has adopted or fostered children. Hear their testimony, pray and ponder over it.

When I was younger, in young women's I was told "men have the priesthood and women make babies." I thought "what a ripoff!"
Oh how wrong I was!
I do not have children yet, but I have since come to understand how much Satan is distorting the image of motherhood. He is making it appear to be ANYTHING BUT a righteous, desirable, holy, divinely appointed calling. Which is EXACTLY what it is.

I so look forward to when I have children, whether through my own body or through somebody else's. I know I, and all women, have been set apart and chose to accept the calling of motherhood. And side by side, with the priesthood, my husband and I, and all other married couples, will lead the world, bring souls unto Christ, and come forth on the great and dreadful day. Together. As truly equal partners. 

Satan wants to destroy the family.
Well, here it is.
Women not being satisfied with one of the greatest callings in the entire universe.

His power is so, so terribly strong.
But ours is greater.
He can nip our heels, but we can crush his head.
I bare this as my testimony that God never changes. That His true gospel is on the Earth today, and it can be found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I know Heavenly Father has an eternal plan for each and every one of us, and as we turn to him, with a broken heart and contrite spirit, we will receive the answers to our prayers and be guided throughout our Earthly life. I know the blessings of the temple are true, that my husband and I are sealed for time and all eternity, that the family is ordained of God, and that it is through Christ that we will receive the greatest happiness. I bare witness that He lives, that He loves us, and that He is the way. I share these things in the holy name of Jesus Christ.
Amen.





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I recently shared this with someone who was posting about the "Ordain Women" movement. An interesting conversation ensued. I have saved the conversation here.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Argument

"Wait 'til you have your first real argument!"

Thanks for the well wishes and for predicting just how nasty, hard and awful my life as a wife and mother will be. If you think I don't know what I'm "getting myself into", then you don't know me and you should probably keep those thoughts to yourself.

And for the record, no hissy fits or brief loss of temper will ever have the power to break down our will and efforts to love, honor, support, and build each other up for the better for all of eternity. Believe me, I'm no idealist. I know marriage will not be easy. But I can do anything God would have me do, and nothing can stop me. Through pain and trials, I have proved this to myself. That nothing can ever stop me. Not even a stupid little blip of a first argument in an eternity of marriage. So quit your efforts in trying to make me, and all other future brides, dread that incredibly insignificant moment.


On a better note...

I am so happy to be marrying Tyler next week. Words do not suffice exactly how I feel. I am very excited. So very happy and at peace. It is the single most important decision I have ever made, and never-ending blessings and signs continue to prove to me that I am making the right choice. My cup runneth o'er with blessings and joy.

10 Days.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Creep

Tuesday October 29, 2013
I bought my wedding dress. I love it.

A few hours later, the bank calls me, wanting to verify that I did indeed make that purchase, since it was a large chunk of money all at once.
I told them "yes, I approve that transaction."



Thursday October 31, 2013
Tyler and I drove around to some apartments to get an idea of what is in the area. I let him drive the bug, since it is a manual and he'll need to get used to its quirks and I'm already comfortable with the car. Since he's still just getting used to it, a bit more fuel than the car typically goes through was used. No biggie. I didn't realize it was on the verge of empty until I had to leave later, though.

Friday November 1, 2013 at 1:30 am
After spending nearly an hour battling with the vehicle's driver's seat (that would not stay in place), I'm finally able to head home. Only the fuel meter isn't rising above the "empty" line. So I use the gasbuddy app and find the closest station that serves diesel. 0.84 miles away for the closest, nearly 3 for the next. 0.84 miles it is.

I arrived to the gas station, parked by a diesel pump, and swiped my card. "Denied". Swipe again. "Denied". Two more times - "Denied - Please see cashier." The station inside is closed, all the lights are off. A young guy in a car pulled up to the pump across from me. He looked to be somewhere between 19 and 23. Had a bluish/gray flat brimmed hat, a t-shirt, baggy jeans, and white vans tennis shoes. He asks if he can help me at all. I ignored him at first. Then he keeps talking, says he wants to help me. I explained "my card is denied, I'm just going to try another pump. I don't need help."

He sticks around. He suggests that I'm being rude and that I don't need to be upset at him. I told him "Look, I'm tired and frustrated, sorry."

Pull up to another pump. Swipe my card. "Denied". He pulls around next to the pump I'm at and continues to offer his help. I continue to try and ignore him as I desperately walk around the pumps trying to get a good enough cell signal to call Tyler and explain the situation. This guy keeps nagging me "I want to help you. Look, I can help you. Let me help you." While on the phone with Tyler, I turn around and say "if you could help me and pay $10 of fuel, that would be a God-send. A prayer answered. I would be so grateful."
"Look, I can give you $20 in fuel. But what can you give me?"


From the time he pulled up and wouldn't ignore my first "I don't need help", I knew he might be trouble.

So I started to tell him "I can't give you anything. I have nothing."

"But I'll give you $20. What can you give me?"
"Nothing, I can't give you anything, I can't do anything for you, I'm sick, I'm poor, I have nothing. I'm on the phone with my fiance."

"Yeah look, you could still give me something. Okay, I know he's your fiance, but I want to help you, and then... what can you give me?"

At this point, I had lost signal with Tyler and was prepping my phone to dial 9-1-1.

He kept pushing "I can give you help if you can give me something."

I told him "are you suggesting I get in the car with you and do stuff with you?"
"No no no no no no no, you don't have to get in the car with me. No no no."
"Dude, you're creeping me out. I don't want to do anything for you. And if you are wanting me to do 'stuff' with you, then I am calling the cops right now. You are creeping me way out."
"No no no no no no no, don't call the cops, I just want to help you, and then you can give me something back."
"You want to help me? You can leave, I don't like you, you are creeping me out. Please leave! Get out of here!! LEAVE!"

"Alright, I'll leave...."


and he drives slowly away.


I got back to a place where I had signal and called Tyler again and started sobbing. He finally got to the station, came over and I just sobbed on his shoulder for a minute. He had me describe the guy, the car he was driving... said if he was there, he would have ripped the guys head off. I could tell he was pissed. Not with me, but that someone would harass me like that.

We put 2 gallons in the tank with his card.



I've been up for the past few hours trying to figure out why this all happened... and I was looking up reasons your card can be denied at the fuel pump.

My stupid bank probably still has my debit card on hold because buying my dress sent up a red flag.

Thanks America First, I could have been raped or kidnapped tonight. I already freaking verified that the transaction is approved (the money still hasn't been taken out of my bank yet, either).

You didn't send me the alerts a few weeks ago when I had withdrawn FIVE TIMES and lost $125 for over-drafting. (Fortunately I got $100 of that back by going in and having Tyler help me explain the situation.)


Will be calling them tomorrow. I know the person I get on the phone will likely have no control over their flagging/holding/suspending policies, so I will not get upset with them. I will, however, try and figure out why my card was denied, get it fixed, and then ask who I can talk to about complaints.


I've never given a real complaint to a business/company before. However, I feel this one is necessary.




I had Tyler follow me about halfway home. I had my pocket knife open and in my lap the whole drive home. Tomorrow (assuming my debit card works...) I will be buying pepper spray that I will carry with me ALWAYS.


I've always wanted a concealed weapons permit. Now I want one more than ever. Had that creep tried to touch me, I would have fought back so hard. However, I know I'm a small person and he probably could have taken me down. I was planning on screaming, biting, kicking, and aiming all my strength at his crotch. I'm so grateful I didn't have to do any of that. I'm also grateful I am safe and came away unharmed. I learned a lot tonight.



So that was my creepy Halloween.



Update - called the bank. My card is not frozen. It is likely the gas station. I'm never going there again.