I have been busting to write about so many things, but our lives have been put on hold, as just 4 days after watching the Dr. Oz Transformation Nation Finale my dad was rushed to the hospital for what seemed like a heart attack, but ended up actually being a “mini stroke”. Not sure why they would consider any stroke “mini”, as the residual effects are so tough accept and pull through…nothing seems “mini” about it. But before I get to this whole new difficult situation we are all working together on, let me back up a bit in time….
I have so much to write about since the finale. I was so happy that I came home after it was taped and wrote about all that had happened, as I couldn’t believe how much the producers had to cut out of the show. We were all so excited to watch. Friends and family came over, we had a fruit platter, some snacks, coffee, etc. And we all enjoyed watching it together. It was exciting to relive a bit of it again, but I was even more excited to run to the computer and send out the whole back story so that you could experience all that I experienced that day. I have been so blessed to have been able to tell it over and over again to friends, family, strangers…I still can’t get through it without crying when I get to the part of realizing that I was sitting next to the woman who needed her husband’s kidney. To be able to hug her when her husband was announced the winner was the greatest gift ever! I’m just so sorry that America didn’t get to hear her and her husband speak at the end of the show. It was breathtaking.
What an amazing place to be…where I can honestly continue to tell others that I wouldn’t change a thing. They were meant to win, and I got to celebrate with them and experience the most amazing day. Still praising God for it all! Every single moment he orchestrated that day still amazes me. In fact, 2 days ago, my shirt arrived in the mail signed by Dr. Oz. I will save it and hold it up the day I reach my final goal!
The days following the finale, I was inspired to clean out my closet and try to part with some of my old clothes. I never realized how difficult this would be to do. The pants, shorts, skirts, were all easy to part with, because they truly are way too big. But shirts, sweatshirts, sweaters, cover ups, sweatpants are not as easy, because I keep thinking they fit, they are just a little “oversized”, and feel kind of cozy.
I bought one bin to put in the attic, and told myself that was all I could keep. Of course, I am praying that I will never have to go in and take out the clothes, but there were some expensive and favorite pieces I held onto. This process took about 5 days. I folded and stacked everything on my bed in the end, made signs of all the sizes and took a picture of all that I was getting rid of. There were 129 pieces of clothing! Some came from the attic…clothes that I had saved from the 80’s and 90’s, hoping to get in them again…. and I did as I lost the weight, but…oh my goodness, the jeans were so high waisted, and if you could see the HUGE shoulder pads…yes, I was Krystal Carrington from “Dynasty”. It was nice to put on clothes I hadn’t fit in in years, but also a great laugh at the styles.
I had piles of “maybe” I should keep, and when good friends were over, I would ask their opinions…. and they begged me to let it all go. They kept saying the clothes were way to big, but it’s funny, you just don’t believe it. Even now, when I go shopping, I start bringing clothes into the dressing room that are at least 2 to 3 sizes too big. It just doesn’t compute yet. I piled all the clothes up in my hallway upstairs to take pictures of all that was leaving. I had some friends take what they wanted, and then a woman from the gym said that she works at the “INN”, where they feed the poor and homeless, and told me that they could really use the clothes. I was so happy that she was taking them there. It was the last great “push” for me to let them go, before starting to rethink and take things back out of the bags. 129 pieces of clothing…sizes up to 3x…. gone.
Last weekend was amazing though, as a friend and I took our kids to Pa. for the weekend to see a show, on the way back, we did a little shopping. I was in the dressing room with my daughter and her best friend, and we were all trying on clothes. They were helping me pick out clothes. I needed some “whites” for tennis, because all of my tennis clothes are way too big. I was invited to play tennis last week, (thank goodness it got rained out, because I didn’t have anything that fit.) I actually ended up finding clothes at “Under Armour”… and I even bought jeans and some shirts at Target, right off the rack in the same area my daughter was shopping in. She was soooo excited for me. It was another “moment”. Shopping together with my daughter, both in the dressing rooms running back and forth helping each other decide what looked good, what fit, etc. I am still smiling just thinking about it.
On our way home from Pennsylvania, we were somewhere on the Jersey Turnpike and my husband called to see how far out I was. He was working and had one of the most overwhelming days at work, when my mom called and was in a panic, because my dad’s legs would not work, he couldn’t stand up. He only wanted me or my husband to come, didn’t want to call the doctor or ambulance. I called my son and nephew, told them to run next door, call the doctor, get our neighbor next door who was a fire chief, and get everything moving until I could get home. It seemed like the longest ride, back and forth on the phone, feeling helpless in the car. By the time I was at the last bridge, the news was that they thought he was having a heart attack. Lots of praying went on in the car, as Lorraine drove as fast as she could while I kept in contact on the phone. We pulled up at the exact moment that they were loading him in the ambulance. He didn’t look good at all, my nephew was crying, my husband looked very concerned, lots of emergency people all around, even a huge fire truck responded, so it was a crazy scene…all of our amazing neighbors outside seeing if we needed anything. I squeezed my dad’s leg for him to open his eyes to see that I was there, the oxygen mask was over most of his face. He saw me and tried to smile, I told him I would meet him at the hospital.
They pulled away, my pastor and his wife helped us handle absolutely everything, and then his drove me up to the hospital, and my husband met me there. It was really tough, because I had the worst scenario going through my head. One of my best friends, years ago, got to the hospital a little while after her dad was taken by ambulance for his heart, and by the time she got there, they stopped working on him, and they pronounced him dead. It is the most awful scene that she has gone through, and that was the scene playing through my head at this point. Again, all I could do was pray…
We stayed in the ER while they got him hooked up and stable. People came to check his heart, his pacemaker, his vitals, etc. The more they checked, the more they ruled out, which was great. Dad was pretty out of it, though, sleeping on and off a bit, and speech seem groggy and slurred. While we waited, I really kept looking at everyone in that ER, on Memorial Day Weekend, where the hospital was clearly understaffed for the amount of people there, and just thanked God that the Dr. Oz challenge was the amazing catalyst for me to start working toward getting fit and healthy. I realized sitting there, looking at people on oxygen machines, etc. That I am constantly only a few bad choices away from heading back down that path. When I answered tons of questions about my dad’s medications, and listened to other caretakers going through the same things…trying to figure out what could have caused something to go wrong..I was also so thankful that I wasn’t on any medications. I’m sure, with all that runs in my family…diabetes, heart disease…I was headed down the same path. All I could think about sitting there and watching the machines showing everyones vital numbers…was that at the last doctors appt. Before the finale, my doctor was proud of me, astounded by my numbers, and I continually hold on to her telling me, “you have the heart and blood pressure of an athlete.” I want to keep living up to that.
We finally got a room, and when my dad was all set, I went home to sleep. His doctor called us early that morning, and said that he felt that he had had a “mini stroke”. “His right hand was very weak, his right leg was weaker than the left and he still wasn’t able to walk yet.” My husband, daughter and I went over to see him on the way to a family bbq, as it was now Memorial Day. I guess when I heard “mini stroke”, it didn’t sound as bad as it was actually going to be when we got there. His mouth barely moved as he mumbled trying to speak. He couldn’t feed himself, he was frustrated as he has messed himself so many times during the night, as the hospital was understaffed and couldn’t get to him in time. He was absolutely humiliated, and so upset and anxious. We got him set, and then I called my brother in tears in the car. Before I could get a few sentences out, he told me he would call me right back after getting a plane ticket out that night.
I cried all the way to Warren’s sister’s house. I never dreamed it would be so bad. He was a real stroke victim, and I didn’t know how much better it was going to get. My brother called back and said he would be in from California by 11pm that night. I was so relieved he was coming. We spent some time with my husband’s family, had a few good cries there, then we went home to let my mom know that things weren’t looking so great, and my brother was coming. She was happy to hear that he was coming.
The next few days, Monday through Friday, he stayed at the hospital from morning until night, helping my dad eat, go to the bathroom, etc. The hospital was really awful with care for my dad. He was left in a mess over and over again when we weren’t there. My brother told me to keep doing all that I had to do, including going to the gym in the am while he was there. No better incentive to go to the gym than to spend a day in the hospital and see where you could end up.
Thursday…. a VERY long day. By Wed. We all agreed that he needed to get to a rehab facility, as he was getting worse and not better. A local one accepted him which was an acute facility, which means more intensive physical therapy, 3-4 hours a day. It was explained that it was a great thing that he was accepted, as they only accept those patients they feel can come back strong with what they offer. There were 2 other choices, but they offered a lot less. After many “God-incidences” pointing us toward taking this as our next plan, my dad was ambulanced over to the rehab facility. My brother followed and got him all set there while I did all the phone calls and paperwork.
Meanwhile, we had an appt. with my daughter for a neck sonogram, as they felt something in her neck at school when they did her school physical exam to play sports. We had blood work done the other day, and now we were going for the sonogram. Meanwhile the doctor called my husband to let us know that the results for the blood work came back and she has “Hashimoto’s Disease”. It is an auto immune disease dealing with the thyroid. It is genetic. My mother in law and brother in law both have it. They keep using words like “benign” and “easy to deal with” with medication, but again, you are telling a mom and a dad that their daughter is “just going to take a pill the rest of her life, and she should be fine.”
So I’m in a room watching a sonogram monitor take pictures of my daughter’s neck, while my dad is being taken to a place that we are hoping and praying will bring him back to his old self, being able to come home being strong and independent once again, while trying to keep an eye on my mom who is going through so much watching her husband get worse instead of better each day….I’m trying to keep her blood sugar on target through 4 shots a day, preparing the right foods for her to eat, trying to stay on target with my eating and exercising…trying to keep it all together for my family and my children….This season of life, where you are taking care of your children on one side and your parents on the other…is quite overwhelming, and there isn’t a class or seminar to teach you how to do it.
Needless to say, Thursday was very overwhelming. We came home from the sonogram, ordered the medication, looked online for information to help, got some wonderful emails from friends, including a dear friend who was diagnosed with the same thing when she was 28. Again, the Lord is sending us wonderful information through friends and family. My brother brought my mom to the rehab facility to get my dad all set. They came home excited that the staff and place seems to be top notch, but a little upset, because my dad was so tired and out of it, and confused when they left.
I went to bed, grabbed my devotional book, which has devotions for each day of the year, and I prayed that the one for today would encourage me, and give me some sort of peace going to bed. It has been one of those amazing devotionals, that has had the perfect words at the exact perfect time, over and over and over again…and the one for this night was perfect, again. It reminded me of God’s healing power, it was entitled, ready for this….”who heals all your diseases” (psalm 103:3) I asked before opening the book, for the Lord to just help me believe that He could heal my dad and that He could get better enough to come home, and maybe even be better than before, and also, that even though all the literature and doctors say that Hashimoto’s disease is something you have for life, maybe Grace could be healed of it. Then I opened the devotional, hoping the words would help me….and He blew me away again!
Here are just some of the words…”What a comfort to know that we have a great Physician who is both able and willing to heal us! Let us think of Him for a moment tonight. His cures are radical, He strikes at the center of the disease, and so His cures are sure and certain. He never fails, and the disease never returns. There is no relapse where Christ heals, no fear that His patients should be merely patched up for a season. He is well skilled at all diseases. He never yet met an unusual case that was difficult for Him…We trust Him and sin dies, we love Him and grace lives, we wait for Him, and grace is strengthened, we see Him as he is, and grace is perfected forever. “
This is just some of what I read and then had Warren read.., which lead Warren and Grace and I to end the night praying for a full recovery for my Dad, a full healing for Grace…the world says that she will have it forever, but if the Lord chooses to heal her, He will….and we fully believe that He is able! So we head to bed, clinging to His promises once again….choosing to walk by faith…a confident expectation in what He can do.
As someone once said so powerfully….I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds my future…and that is what I can rest in. It is not easy, but we are not alone.
So, as hard as it is, I continue to ask the Lord to give me strength and the time to do all that I have to do, including eating right and exercising. I even get up, asking Him to prioritize my day. He’s the author and perfecter of time, and when I ask Him to help me prioritize the day and give me extra time, He manages to do it every time. Months ago I would have given up on me and would have just run myself ragged taking care of everyone else, saying I’ll do me later…but I have come too far to give up or mess it all up now. These are the tough times that I have to hold onto all that I have learned, every scripture, every mantra, every saying, every anchor, every bit of knowledge…all the wisdom and put it into practice….”after me, you come first. I am only 1 meal away from getting back on target. Every good choice will lead me down the road to victory and not compromise. Nothing tastes as good as fit feels. Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial…make the best choice, etc. Etc.” And of course, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Tomorrow, I am going to a black tie wedding for my nephew. I will be seeing so many people whom I haven’t seen in months/years. This past week, I bought a beautiful gown in a size I haven’t worn for 25 years. I stopped at my friends house to show her, as it is the first time I won’t have that safe “third layer” I always where by having a jacket or blazer on the outside of an outfit. It feels very strange. I wasn’t sure if I was ready, so I went into her back room and put it on and came out….She was absolutely stunned! She couldn’t even talk at first, I wasn’t sure what she was thinking, But then she said I looked so beautiful, she couldn’t even come up with words. She and her daughter were so excited for me. Her reaction is one I will NEVER forget. She called her husband over, and then she made me show her mother in law, who was also soooo stunned and excited. She wanted me to go right home and do the same thing for my family. She wished that she could see their reaction. After her reaction and amazing words, I was excited to show my husband and daughter. I came down, and Grace, my daughter, just lit up and told me how beautiful I was, and then I went down to show my husband who was working out in the basement. I came down, and his face was priceless.
He used words like, “phenomenal”…He told me days later, I left him in tears, he was so happy for me, and he has said a few times, he just can’t wait to see everyone’s reaction when I walk into the wedding tomorrow. I have an appointment for an “up do”, and I just want it to come out beautiful, so that I can feel beautiful walking in tomorrow. It’s all really exciting.
I still have 62 pounds or so to go, but I am excited to keep going, and moments like these give me the incentive to make the tough choices. I will take pictures to that I can add them to the post.