Monday, December 26, 2011

Definitely a Christmas to remember

What a Christmas! We had an awesome day; in fact, we've had an awesome week. It's been so nice to be able to be home together as a family, without worrying about school, and work, and clinic visits, and everything else we've been worrying about the past 6 months. I've learned a lot this Christmas season, more than any other year, and I want to share some of those things.

-It doesn't matter how old your kids are, they still get just as excited to open presents. I thought we would all go crazy sitting through church. I know we were just supposed to sit and enjoy it and think about the true meaning of Christmas, which we did, but that doesn't mean that we had to sit still and be quiet. It was a beatiful meeting, but, it's a good thing it lasted only an hour because by the time it was 10:00, we were all ready to open presents!!

- Being off work makes me feel like I can be "off" everything, including going to Salt Lake. We have to go back for clinic on Thursday, but I really don't want to. With Abby's swollen feet and legs, they didn't want to wait more than 2 weeks to see her, so we have to go back already, it's only been 10 days. We were supposed to go get some labs drawn today to determine whether or not they want to do another cath/biopsy on Thursday, but the lab was closed so we'll be going tomorrow. Abby has been feeling okay, but every night she ends up sitting down, with her big swollen feet and legs up....they don't feel very good. Other than that, she's feeling great....but we still have to make the drive to Salt Lake on Wednesday.

-There's nothing better than watching Britt, Brock, and Abby play Just Dance 3......hahahaha

-When my family gets together for our annual Christmas party, we have lots of fun! Although everyone thinks they have to talk at the same time, especially while playing Encore, and the girls "let" the boys win, it was still fun for all! The talent show can't be beat, the kids' gift exchange is always a hit, the food is delicious, the chimes can't be forgotten, and having everyone there, together is the best! I can't wait for next year, I need to start practicing my talent now!

-People are placed in your life at the time when you need them most. Some people are only there for that one moment that you need them, and you never see them again; like the lady that recognized us at PCMC and told us how Abby's story has changed her life (just at that moment we were feeling discouraged), or the lady at the gym this morning that told me the difference I've made in her daughter's life since I've been back to teaching (when I've been trying to decide all week if I really can still teach school after everything we've been through). But, other people, because of the friendships we've formed, are going to be there forever. I'm in awe every time I think about all of the incredible people that have come into our lives in the past 6 months, these friendships are some of the greatest gifts we've been given this year.

-I always get 2nd place in Ticket to Ride. If you haven't played that board game, you's addicting, even when you can't quite pull off the win :)

-I love Christmas music and could listen to it all season, my kids don't and are sick of it already.

- I'm going to stop eating so much crap and I'm going to get back in shape again. I want to get back to participating in triathlons, but I've got a long way to go. I need to stop with the excuses that I'm so tired from everything, and just be consistent again. I learned this the hard I have an extra 5 pounds, on top of the other weight I gained since May, to get rid of.

-We received 2 of the greatest gifts this year, gifts that we will cherish for the rest of our lives. One of them was Abby's new heart. Even though I still don't know who the donor family is, I know that they are selfless, kind-hearted, thoughtful, and our forever heroes. We think of them and their generosity daily and I hope their Christmas, even with the loss they suffered July 12th, was still peaceful and filled with joy.

The second gift we received, one that I haven't talked much about, was the gift given to us by our Heavenly Father. It was the gift He gave to us last May when he let Abby make the decision to stay with Him or to come back to us. When we look at the facts of what happened to Abby on May 18th, she really shouldn't still be here, but He gave us the gift of letting her be with us for at least one more Christmas, and hopefully many, many more. We will receive this same gift every Christmas we "get" to have with Abby, and I do see it as a gift...every day she's with us is a gift, and for that I couldn't be more grateful. I can't even imagine Christmas without her, my mind won't even allow it, I'm bawling even going there a little bit!! I am more grateful for this gift than anything.....anything.

We will never have another Christmas quite like this one, we had lots to learn and it was filled with lots of I hope it's something we can hold onto for a long, long time. I hope all of you learned something this Christmas, and that it was filled with as much joy as we had!! How could it not have been our greatest Christmas ever??

Monday, December 19, 2011

"Time"-it's all relative, and another day at the cardiology clinic :)

We just survived another clinic Monday!!  It's always such a relief when we get in the car and we're on our way back to St. George.  It was actually fun today, because we got to have Britt with us and we passed out Team Doman shirts for Christmas presents to all of our friends in the blood lab, cardiology clinic, echo lab, and cath lab.  I told them all we expect to see them wearing them next time we're there :)

Abby's echo and labs looked good today.  But, since we had to change her blood pressure medicine back because of the migraines, now she's back to the swelling in her ankles and feet again.  It's no fun, sometimes she can't even walk on them, but we will take the swelling over the migraines any day!  So, we are increasing her blood pressure meds a little to see if that helps, but then we have to watch her blood pressure because it's been dropping pretty low.  We thought today would be the day that she could come down on her steroids a little more, but no luck.  Because of the swelling and Abby's lethargy lately, we're going to hold steady for a little longer.  They also drew some extra blood to make sure that abby doesn't have virus.  She's been a little tired lately, with stomach aches and small headaches, so they want to rule out mono and some other things.  I think that everything is great with her heart, and that she doesn't have a virus, but she's just having a hard time coming down off of the prednisone.  Abby has a really hard time coming off of any med, her body just doesn't react very well and it makes her feel crappy.  I also think that she's just getting tired of not feeling good.  She doesn't feel horrible, but she doesn't feel good either and that gets old fast!  Poor kid, it seems like if it's not one thing, it's another, and it's been dragging on for a long time.  We know that she's lucky to even be where she is today, but we can't wait until she feels great either.  They did an EKG to double check things, it looked great,  and then they told us to come back on the 29th.  That's only 10 days, but with her not feeling the greatest, they want to keep close tabs on her for a while.  So, another trip to Salt Lake next week, that's getting a little old too!! 

I was thinking about time this past week.  My sense of time has been off, way off since May 18th.  On January 12th, Abby will have had her new heart for half of a year, 6 months!  It seems like it's been a lot longer than 6 months!!  A kind of funny thing happened last week too.  I realized that we only waited for Abby's heart for a month and a half.......only a month and a half!!  It seemed way longer than that!!  I counted from May 18th-the day we were life flighted, to July 12th-the day of the transplant, like 20 times, I couldn't and still can't believe that it was less than 2 months!  Even though that amount of time seems so long, it also seems like it didn't even happen.  It feels like I'm still finishing teaching the school year from last year.  It seems like this school year is going on forever, but I've really only been teachiong 6 weeks, but it's because it just seems like I'm still finishing the 2010-2011 year.  And whenever I talk about last summer, it's actually the summer before, it's like this summer never happened.  It's hard to explain, and it really doesn't make any sense, but I'm hoping some of you that have gone through something like this, understand what I'm talking about.  Brittany and Brock are the same way, as far as "time" goes, we're all a little messed up still!!  Maybe we'll stay confused until we really have a summer, or maybe the past 6 months of our lives will always be kind of blurry and messed up. 

I did get myself the greatest Christmas present, and yes, I did open it too! I had our blog made into a book and I got it in the mail last week....and I love it!!  That's one thing that is helping us keep that part of our lives straight.  I love going through and reading all of the comments people have left, it's very humbling and inspiring when I see how much support and love we've had the past 6 months.  We always feel very blessed when we think about the people that we have in our lives, we know we have the support we need and we can turn to many different places when we need it, this is very comforting.  Thank you all for being a part of our story, we couldn't ask for anything more this Christmas!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Just good news right now :)

Life is good.  We've had good things happening the past couple of weeks and it's Christmastime!

Clinic last Monday was too good to be true....I actually think that's how it's usually supposed to be, we've just had a long string of little problems.  We got to Primary Children's at 7:15 and we were out of there at 9:30!  I even made it home to St. George in time for our school faculty meeting at 2:00! Abby's echo looked good, her heart sounded good, and we had no worries!  We also heard some other good news this week........neither I or my ex-husband carry the cardiomyopathy gene, woohoo!!!  This means that both Brittany and Brock should be okay.  Talk about bringing my stress level down, hearing those results was like taking a big weight off my shoulders.  The gene was just a mutation that occurred in Abby, we will never know why, but at this point, that doesn't matter.

Some other good news is that now Abby has come off a little more on her steroids, she's been able to run again.  The other day, after her run, her facebook status said, "I love it when you can run farther than you think you can!"  I bet that was just the greatest feeling ever for her!  It's pretty inspiring to see Abby, less than 5 months out from her transplant, and Britt, 3 knee surgeries in the past year, out running.  I loved it when my brother-in-law, Rich, saw them out running together this week and commented, "New definition of awesome-when you see your 2 nieces, both out running and getting strong.  You made me smile and inspired me today!"  Britt and Abby-you're an inspiration to me too!  I have to brag for a minute and say that I also made it to the gym 4 times this past week!!!  That's right, Mama Doe, as my kids' friends call me, is finally getting stronger!!!

One other comment that I loved to hear this week, was as I was sitting at our ward relief society dinner, and we were all listening to an amazing pianist play a concert for us, and a friend of mine leaned over to me and said, "I just realized that I'm sitting here with you and your baby has a new heart.  You shouldn't even be here.  You could still be sitting in SLC, alone, waiting for the heart;  but we are here together, Abby is thriving, and you are here!!"  I couldn't help but smile, because that is so true, and I think about it all the time.  I can't even imagine being stuck up in our Sugarhouse house, with Brittany and Brock going to school in St. George, still waiting for the heart, during Christmastime!!  I personally know that if that were the case, I wouldn't be okay, I wouldn't have been able to do it!  I think we were all pushed exactly to our limit....and we survived.  I still go through moments, at least a couple times a day, that I just stop and think, "Holy cow, I can't believe that my daughter had a heart transplant!  That was "us" that this happened to.  We were on the news and in the newspaper, we are the family that everyone was doing fundraisers for, it was my daughter that almost didn't survive her heart stopping on May 18th!  This really happened."  It's a funny feeling, but everytime it happens, it reminds me to be so grateful for where we are today.

There's only 2 weeks until Christmas, I have only bought one present and it's for my niece, Leah.  Am I worried???  Nope!!  The one thing that I've learned this year, it only took me 40 years :), is that the presents really don't matter.  I know people say it all the time, but when you really, truly believe it, it's an awesome feeling.  I know my kids "get it" now too, I can tell by their Christmas lists this year, very small and  simple, they know what matters.  It took a near-tragedy, living apart for 5 months, and a miracle, but now they know.  Enjoy this Christmas season, it's the greatest time of the year and will be over way too soon! 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Abby's back in school and this is going to be the best Christmas ever!!!

Well, one whole week since the last post, that must mean that things are looking okay....and they are!!  Other than Abby's blood pressure hanging real low, she's been feeling pretty good this past week. I actually feel like maybe things are going to settle down little bit.....finally!!!  But from what I've heard, as soon as you start feeling like that, that is when the ground falls out from beneath you.  Let's hope it doesn't this time, we are due for some peace and quiet!!

Abby went back to school this past week.  Well, what we are calling "school" isn't exactly like a normal 7th grader's school.  She doesn't have a full schedule, she doesn't eat in the cafeteria, she sneaks out of class to take her meds twice a day, she leaves each class 5 minutes early so she's not out in the halls when all the other kids are, if someone is sick her class she leaves, she always wears her mask, and when she was so exhausted after Monday and Tuesday, she took Wednesday off.  It's a modified school, but it's the best we can do right now, and Abby is happy with it!  She has missed her friends and the social life so much.  She said that the first few days were weird, everyone was staring at her and swarming her, but now things are back to normal.  It feels good to have some things start to get back to normal.

Abby received an awesome gift from our new friends Patti and Wayne last week.  They arranged to have Abby Wombach, from the US Women's Soccer Team, personally autograph and write a note to Abby on their 2011 WNT Handbook.  Apparently, some of the players are now following the blog!!  If you're reading this....thank you!!  Abby has read and studied it over and over again.  Big thanks to Patti and Wayne too, what a great surprise!!!  These women are great heroes for Abby.

We go back up to Salt Lake on Sunday night for early clinic on Monday.  It seems like recently, everytime we've had clinic, they've found some problem....there's always something that isn't going right!  This causes me a lot of anxiety on clinic days.  What I really want to do is to learn to just expect things to be "off" "expect the unexpected."  I wish that I could train myself to just plan on things not being perfect, so that when things happen that aren't planned, I can handle them better.  I want to be able to just go with flow, keep it together, and not lose it!   This is what I wish I could do, but it's harder than it sounds.  I don't want to be pessimistic, having a positive, uplifting attitude is what I believe has helped Abby do as well as she has so far......but I do want to be realistic.  I hope that this will come with time and with more experience in dealing with these thing.  I just need to remember that :

“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God . . . and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven.”
Orson F. Whitney

I love Christmas!  When I was a kid, I was always the first one awake in our house and even since I've become the mom, I've carried that tradition.  I love Christmas music, I love giving gifts, I just love the season (except the cold anyway-thank goodness for electric blankets!) This Christmas is a little different.  There's not a lot of money for presents this year, we're trying to keep Abby away from big groups of people- which eliminates a lot of our Christmas traditions, the whole family is pretty much on a diet-which takes away lots of other Christmas fun, and we're all  just a little worn out-we just don't have as much energy as we have in the past.  But, we as a family know that we've already received the greatest Christmas present ever, the greatest miracle, we got our Christmas on July 12th, the day that Abby received her heart from a family that we don't even know, and  because of this amazing, selfless gift, we get to spend this Christmas season with Abby.......what more could we ever ask for????  This is going to be our best Chrismas ever.