Monday, November 26, 2012

Clinic Monday and my dad's quadruple bypass surgery

     I'm not quite sure where to start with this post, but I think I'll go backwards chronologically.  That means that I'll start with clinic today.  With everything else that's been going on lately, I wasn't even worried about clinic, I knew things would look good, and I was right!  Abby has been feeling really good the last few days! She was so active with her cousins all weekend, running, playing on the tramp, going to the park, playing hopscotch and jumprope, and guess what????? NO SWELLING!!! none, at all, well okay, maybe just a little, but nothing too serious!  I think the transplant team was as excited about this as we were!   Abby gets to go off of 3 meds today and will be off of steroids and Valcyte on Saturday.  Making these changes always worries me, Abby doesn't like to come off of meds, for some reason her body does weird things whenever we make changes, but not this time, it's not allowed.  Going off of 5 meds sure makes my job as pharmacist much easier.  My only worry at clinic was that the past few echos have shown some thickening in her heart, for now we're blaming the steroids for this.  But, the thing that worries me the most is that it started before she was on steroids, that's one reason we knew she was in rejection.  I just keep trying to tell myself that if Dr. E wasn't worried, then I shouldn't be either.  I'm pretty sure she knows a little more about the heart than I do :)  If her next echo, on the 27th, doesn't look better, then I'll know it's time to really worry.  One really good thing about clinic today is that we got to see so many of our heart friends, and that made everything even better, and I really needed that today (more about that in the next paragraph).  I even got to discuss colors and their opposites with the amazing Matthew and his mom Chrissy, touch base with Shauntelle and Kaidence (who we miss so, so much), and have a very brief chat with both Hilary and Aubrie and their cute babes, what more could you ask for in a clinic visit?  Then, to top it all off, we very, very briefly stopped by the Festival of Trees to check out the tree and to see some of our other favorite heart mamas!  It was just the boost I needed to motivate me to get back in the car and start driving.  We sure love all of you that we've met this past year and a half, you mean the world to us!

     Now I'm going to go backward to Saturday, and Sunday of last week.  Because I didn't have enough on my plate right now, my dad decided he needed to be included in my troubles too.  Before I continue, let me tell you a little bit about my dad.  He's probably the coolest 70-year-old I know.  Just last month he retired, he's been working as an emergency room physician forever.  He worked his last shift the beginning of November.  My dad also held the record for the fastest mile run at the University of Utah for many years, he ran track there and went to medical school there too.  That's probably the beginning of us being extreme Ute fans.  He's run in multiple marathons since then, his fastest one was around 2:37.  He runs or bikes every day and always has for as long I remember.  He just recently started mountain biking again.  Like I said, a pretty cool 70-year-old, definitely not your typical one.  He's been Abby's biggest ally this past year and a half.  He's spent so many days with us at PCMC and in our Sugarhouse house too.  He always knows when Abby needs a shopping day to cheer her up too!  He's just always been there for her.

     Anyway, last Saturday morning, after running and biking, he told us he was going to the emergency room to get an x-ray to see if he broke a rib when we he crashed mountain biking the day before.  But, really, he knew that he was having a heart attack and just didn't want any of us to worry until he knew how serious it was.  Then we got the phone call that he was being admitted and they would be doing a heart cath the next morning to see exactly how bad his heart really was.  It's a good thing I'm an expert on heart cath's and everything cardio now, I felt like such a pro.  The cath was Sunday morning.  I can't believe he stayed awake the whole time they were doing it, he refused to go to sleep.  He watched them do it, and probably told them what to do as well!  The cath told us that it was pretty bad and that he would be needing surgery to repair all of the blockages.  They thought at that time that it would be a triple bypass.  We weren't sure when the surgery would be scheduled until they talked to the surgeon later that day, so Abby and I hopped in the car and drove to Salt Lake for clinic.  I was hoping the surgery would be on Tuesday morning so we'd be back, but they ended up doing it this morning, right while we were at clinic.   My sister had to work and my brothers both live in Salt Lake, so since I was gone, that left Britt to go sit with my mom during the 4-hour surgery.  Thanks Britt, you're my hero!  Britt worked the night shift from 6-6 the night before then went right to the hospital and stayed with my mom until the surgery was over.  What a great kid, I love you Britt!  The surgery ended up being a quadruple bypass, it was pretty bad.  I feel like we're lucky he didn't have his heart attack while he was out running in the desert that morning, or that it wasn't a more serious heart attack.  It was hard being in Salt Lake while he was in surgery, but that's how it goes.  It kept me busy.  The transplant team probably thought I was a little distracted, but I did okay.  I didn't tell any of them what was going on because I didn't dare start talking about it,  I didn't know how my emotions would hold up, so I just pretended it wasn't happening.  The surgery went well, he's now recovering in the ICU and  we are going to go visit him very soon.  Abby is excited because she said they can do cardiac rehab together and they can compare scars and meds.  I'm not excited because he has a 2-month recovery, probably even longer, and keeping my dad down during that time will be hard.  At least he'll be there and can recover with Britt and Brock after their upcoming surgeries!

     So, the thing I was trying to figure out on my drive home today was why all of these things keep happening.  Haven't I had enough yet?  Is it my fault because in my last post I had finally accepted everything that was happening and I even said, "Whatever, bring it on, we can do it?"  Am I supposed to crumble in a ball and fall apart and not be okay and then things will stop?  Is that how it works?  Some people have said that I chose these trials before I came to earth, but honestly, I don't think I'm that stupid.  Or else, I probably didn't understand how time works here on earth when I volunteered.  There's no way that I chose for Britt to have 3 knee surgeries, Brock to have ankle surgery, everything that goes along with Abby's heart transplant, Britt to have her tonsils out, and my dad to have a quadruple heart bypass, all within a 2-year period, nobody is that stupid.  Then there's the people that keep saying, "You're only given what you can handle."  But, what does handle mean exactly?  I think it means you survive, and that's all.  For the people that keep telling me that I'm so strong.  I'm not, really.  I'm probably the most tender-hearted person I know.  I cry when someone else is crying, even if I don't know them.  I hate to burst your bubble, but I'm not strong.  I started thinking that maybe there's some lesson I'm supposed to be learning but that I've been too stressed out to see it, or maybe I'm doing something wrong and I'm just missing it.  There's got to be some reason, or maybe not.  But, it seems like maybe I'm missing something.  If any of you can help me figure this out, I'd appreciate any advice I can get.

     For now, we'll just keep on keeping on.  Brock is scheduled next Wednesday for his ankle surgery.  Britt is scheduled the week after that, on the 13th for her tonsillectomy.  Hopefully, they'll both be feeling better by Christmas, and my dad too.  Abby goes back to clinic on the 27th.  This will definitely be a Christmas to remember!  I'm taking back my comment about bring it on, we can do it.  We're done.  I'm not accepting any more trials this year, I reached my quota long ago.



  1. I think it's difficult to figure out what you're supposed to be taking away from all of this while it's happening. I think I feel that way because I don't believe that bad, difficult things happen for a reason. Crap happens. It's just life. Maybe while it's happening it's best just to focus on getting through each day and not worry about what lesson you should be learning. Maybe getting through each day IS the lesson. Plus, you're brilliant! You don't have much to learn. For me, it's only in hindsight that I can see the knowledge I gained through a difficult experience. While I was in the middle of it, I only knew it felt terrible. The personal growth was imperceptible. It was only later that I discovered what I had learned. I think you're doing just what you should--getting through things one day a time :-). I love you awesome sis-in-law! D2

  2. Quota met indeed! I'm pretty sure someone promised me a cupcake for enduring to the end. So hold out for CUPCAKES!!!

  3. "May I share some suggestions with you who face...the testing that a wise Heavenly Father determines is needed even when you are living a worthy, righteous life and are obedient to His commandments.
    Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more (see Proverbs 3:11-12). He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain" -Elder Richard G Scott

    This is one of my favorite quotes to try to understand trials. There is one thing I have learned the past 2 years, and that is that you aren't given anything that you can't handle, but don't think that you can handle everything given to you alone. The thing is to rely on the Savior to have him help you handle it all. Don't forget that he suffered not just for our sins, but suffered our pains and trials and weaknesses, so he can literally empathize with everything you have on your plate right now. Someone we can turn to who truly understands and gets awesome is that?! And just because you are tenderhearted doesn't mean you aren't strong. We should be able to cry with others (even without knowing them) and we can feel stressed and frustrated. We are human, and it is our nature to be that way and it is completely normal! You really are an awesome person, and you have the best kids! I am glad to say that I know you! Praying that your dad recovers quickly, that Brock and Britt's surgeries go well, that Abby's clinic visits keep going well, and that you will have the strength to keep up with this crazy life that the Lord has blessed you with (yes, blessed)!
    (and I love what RuDogsMom said as well! A lot of growth I have received has come after my difficult experience, so don't worry if you can't see how it is strengthening you right this moment, I promise, it is though!)

  4. This will all make sense when you look back on it. Maybe here on Earth, maybe not until you've reached the Pearly Gates. Just keep on keeping on and everything will work out just perfectly like its supposed to :) So good to see you even though it was brief!!

  5. keep on keeping on is all you can do! So keep on keepin' and cry along the way to stay healthy. Eat chocolate, get massages, exercise, scream, laugh, beat your pillow and then buy a new one to beat, watch some Bill Cosby and laugh, eat more chocolate and keep on keepin' on. You're awesome. :)

  6. This post really touched me. Thank you for what you had to say. I've been going through my own health issues and I can say I've had days where I just want to say "it's too much I'm done", but instead it's learning to look at it in a different way and keep moving forward. Your family is amazing!

  7. Aww... that's quite a moving story, Michelle. I think it's kinda hard to deal with having the two special persons in your life facing almost the same problem. I hope your father and Abby are doing fine now and live with healthy hearts.