Today, I felt much better than I did yesterday. My pain levels consistently stayed between a 1 and a 4 the entire day. Part of it, I’m sure, is I’m continuing to heal. The other part is I slept sitting at an extremely elevated angle. As I mentioned previously, I thought that lying down was affecting the swelling in my throat. To test the theory, I slept basically sitting up last night and overall had a much better, less painful night and morning.
I have been eating more in terms of solid (but still super soft) foods. I had the normal popsicles, jello, and pudding, of course. I also ate applesauce, but it had citric acid in it. Big mistake. Seriously. Do not recommend. But, after having such a sore throat yesterday and eating almost nothing, today I was able to add back in more scrambled eggs with cheese and several bowls of mashed potatoes with gravy, as well as the filling from a piece of pumpkin pie. A friend sent home an iced coffee smoothie for me today, and it was incredible. Being Italian, when I’m full, I’m happy, and today I was really happy. There’s still some slight burning pain on the right tonsil area, which my husband believes is the sensitivity from the little new patches of pink skin peeking through where it’s healing. I also feel like I’ve developed another canker sore under my tongue on the right side, where I had one a few weeks ago (that is an altogether different type of soreness, with which I am recently all too familiar).
I had a little more energy today, as well. I’m not sure if it’s due to better sleep, better eating, a little more healing, or a combination, but I appreciated it. I snuggled my baby in the rocker and watched a couple cartoons with him this morning before he left for daycare. That wore me out a bit, and I did have to nap for a while afterwards. Then, before he ate dinner, I spent a little more time with him. I have been completely run down this week, so even this small amount of play time with him was extra special for me.
And I was in generally better spirits today, too. I’m feeling, overall, more like myself. I’m back to trying to find humor and enjoying looking through my nail polishes. I’m still playing that stupid farming game Townlife or whatever it’s called. No, this blog isn’t sponsored. I hate the darn game. But I can’t let my chickens go hungry, and I just fully restored the airport. I also watched, for the first time ever, The 40 Year Old Virgin. I made it through an entire movie without drifting off to sleep — that alone shows I’m healing more quickly. A few days ago I wouldn’t have made it more than a half hour before nodding off.
I’m anxious for tomorrow. My prescribed pain pills will run out and so will my Prednisone. I think it won’t be a problem to switch over to Tylenol only: all day today the highest my pain reached was a manageable 4 out of 10, so I’m certain some extra-strength Tylenol will be able to handle it. In fact, my friend has only been taking Tylenol because she doesn’t do well on prescription pain medications. Hopefully, with tomorrow being day 8, I won’t need so much pain relief, and also I’ll be able to start thinking clearly again once the strong stuff is out of my system.
I’m considerably more nervous about running out of my steroids. I know doctors don’t want to keep people on steroids if they don’t have to be, but the swelling in the morning has been the most consistently uncomfortable part of this whole week for me, and so far the only thing that’s reduced it (and the accompanying pressure) is the steroids. So, I guess I’ll let you know how it goes in a couple days. Maybe I won’t even need any more after tomorrow.
I do appreciate all well-wishes, good thoughts, and prayers you could send. So far, I’ve been very lucky and have had very few major problems/complications. I’d love to keep it that way so that this time next week I’ll be back to eating tacos.
And, because I know I would want to see it if I were you, here’s a picture of how my throat looks today. We think the little areas of pink are the newly healed patches. (Skip it if you’re squeamish.)
Here’s hoping for an even better tomorrow! Peace and love.
About an hour after I took my early morning pain pill, I awoke at 4:15 a.m. with an unusual and unpleasant sensation in my mouth. My pain at some point in the hour had defied the medication and soared up to about a 6 out of 10. I’d been coughing a lot, off an on, because it’s difficult to lie flat in this condition. If felt as if I had somehow managed to get a piece of soft but firm plastic lodged in my throat, just below where my ears meet my jawline. You know, in the tonsil/adenoid region. Obviously. In addition, there was a dull thud in my right ear.
I coughed, and distinctly felt. . . something come up. The dreaded “scab shedding” had begun, and about five days early, according to the approximation given by my doctor.
I gently gargled with some ice water and ate a popsicle, but both were as ineffective as an Independent running for President. Around 5:00 a.m., I began drinking coffee — four cups in total — and it helped the pain SLIGHTLY, mostly because I’d heard the warmth was supposed to help the scabs slough off easier. I’m sure that didn’t work, either, but it was a bit soothing.
At 6:30, I dutifully took my next prescribed medicine. By 7:30, I’d eaten 3 more popsicles. Nothing was helping. I was weak and shaky from hunger and lack of sleep, but Josh was still asleep and I had to care for Niko until my sister woke up. As though he could sense my discomfort, he was as well-behaved as a 13-month old baby could be. He was also super content to lounge with a mostly-asleep Daddy for a while.
By mid-morning I couldn’t take the exhaustion any longer and collapsed into bed. Niko was in the care of his aunt and his dad, and I was in the care of my cats. I slept, off and on, nearly the entire afternoon and evening. My pain level has been fluctuating between a 2 and a 5. There was coughing. There was also a little blood.
I woke up to eat lunch (a warm bowl of chicken broth and some jello). I woke up to eat a snack (a piece of pumpkin pie with whipped cream — no crust) and take pills. I woke up to eat dinner (more of the same) and take more pills. I woke up to tend my new farm on that stupid Township app I’m now addicted to. I woke up to say goodnight to my baby when he was off to bed. And, I woke up to write my blog.
I’m hoping the more I sleep, the faster this whole gross, painful, horrible process will go.
If you are squeamish, look away now. I’m posting below a picture of my mouth in this stage of healing. You seriously don’t want to see it.
You have been warned.
And now, for the image you’ve probably been waiting for….
Now, I’m going to lay back down until it’s time to get up and take more pills.
Peace and love.
Today was a day full of regret and honing poor decision-making skills. The alarm failed to go off for my 3 a.m. pill, so I awoke at 7 when the realization (and burning) hit me full force. In addition to the fire raging in my throat, one of my ears was feeling the dreaded “referred pain.” Though I immediately forced myself to drink some liquid, suck a popsicle, use my numbing sucker, and take my medication, it helped only minimally until I was able to fall back asleep; thereafter, for the next few doses, I was trying to both abate the pain and prevent its spread/growth. I mainly read my book or slept all morning and afternoon, and awoke several times throughout the day in a cold sweat or with a minor fever.
In the discharge papers, it states that I’m supposed to return to normal activities as soon as possible, so, over the course of the day, I spent a little more time outside my humidified bedroom, playing with my baby and helping a bit with his nighttime routine. He enjoyed it, but it exhausted me. And, it turns out, being in the humidified air is a super effective way to keep the soreness from coming back. The more time I spent out of the humidity, the sorer my throat got.
Additionally, I was incredibly hungry (due not only to eating so little — mainly liquids — but also from the lack of regular, uninterrupted sleep), so about lunch time I had a scrambled egg with cheese, and for dinner I had another egg and some mashed potatoes with gravy (delicious and absolutely worth the extra pain). It felt like both foods managed to get caught in the sores, despite my cautious over-chewing and small bite-taking. It was a highly unpleasant feeling. Eating mashed potatoes may have failed to relax my throat muscles, or whatever, but they succeeded at finally comforting my rumbling tummy.
To sum up, for multiple reasons I was terribly unsuccessful at managing my pain, and it kept climbing up to a 5-6 out of 10. Clearly, this initial attempt at stretching the prescribed pills from 3 to 4 hours apart was a complete and utter failure. Day 4 could have gone better, to say the least.
Here is a picture my sister took of the bruises from my faulty IV insertions today, a couple days after surgery.
I’m sincerely hoping tomorrow will go better. But, in either case, I’ll keep you posted. Peace and love.
Ahhhh, day 3. Day 3 began at 3:00 a.m. for me with my early morning pill, after which I was unable to fall back asleep until after my 6:00 a.m. dose. What does one do for three hours, awake and unable to eat, you may ask? Well, I fell down the rabbit hole that is YouTube while simultaneously decorating my heart out on a home design app, and when I ran out of money on it I had to start Fish Life and Town Life to earn more credits. Yep. I became a “gamer.”
I decided I’m going to try warm broth tomorrow and, perhaps, as was the advice of my friend, include a soggy cracker or two. That might be pushing it, but after the resounding success of eating pudding and fudge pops all day today, I’m feeling invincible. Unfortunately, I noticed, while drinking my Gatorade, that my taste-buds are, like, deadened — certain foods and drinks just taste “off.” Due to the pain in my throat and difficulty swallowing, a bit of the liquids I had today have been bouncing up into my nose, making me feel like I’m drowning.
I felt the need to sleep less, overall, but when I did sleep, the quality was better (longer and deeper, though fewer hours). My talking is still difficult, painful, and garbled.
Improvements include that I finally got to take a nice, hot bath (though the calmness and warm water temperature was dangerously close to lulling me to sleep), and up to this point I have managed to avoid the fever I was warned about by the nurse.
Graciously, my sister came to watch the baby for a few days, to give Josh a bit of a rest. It might be just exactly the right time, as I was informed that days 4 and 5 are, for some patients, the worst: new bouts of ear (referred) pain, throat bleeding, and coughing. My doctor also is having me monitor those exact signs for days 7 through 10, as well, so I’m starting to wonder if it all isn’t just one big, giant guessing game. “Haha! Stay on your toes THE WHOLE TIME!”
My pain was slightly greater today — staying in the 4-5 range before dropping down to a 1 again after my medicine kicked in. I think that’s why my boys were so observant and dutiful all night and day.
Peace and love.
So, I didn’t die yesterday. I suppose that’s good.
Also, I was informed to cut off the hospital wrist bands (apparently there’s no “unbuttoning” them, so to speak?), and they are going into my journal.
Taking my normal medications last night (including the two irrationally large Metformin), literally brought tears to my eyes, for the first (and hopefully only) time since surgery occurred.
When I talk, I sound like I’m speaking through a mouth full of cotton. It’s unpleasant to hear and painful to do, so I try to speak aloud as little as possible.
My pain level has been fluctuating from a 1 (when not swallowing) up to about a 5 (when swallowing at the end of the time my pain pill wears off). The humidifier in my room has been running nonstop, thanks to the careful observations of my hubby, which I feel has helped a lot, particularly when I’m sleeping.
I slept for about two hours out of every three yesterday, last night, and this morning. Early this afternoon I was feeling slightly more lively, so I painted my nails, drank a cup of lukewarm coffee, and ate four Popsicles. In the midst of this energy blitz, I determinedly managed to do some online shopping, because I deserve new nail polishes. I’m even currently making my way through a Jello Pudding. I guess it’s true that every day is a holiday and every meal’s a feast.
I think today could have been a little easier, but I forgot to take the Prednisone my doctor prescribed me until literally just now (at 8:30 p.m.). I was supposed to take it this morning, but I was never going to remember to do that. It’s only a coincidence that I happened to be texting one of my good friends who had the same surgery one day before I did, and she was asking about my paperwork. When I looked at it, I saw the directions to take my steroids and immediately thought, “Well, huh.” I do vaguely recall the pharmacist yesterday telling me to take them right away in the morning. So it goes. Better late than never, right?
So far, the best part of all this is getting to snuggle the cats for days. The three of them snuggle me in shifts, like the good nurses they are. One comes in when it’s time to relieve the other.
That is, except when they fall asleep on the job:
I have no pictures of Hannibal, as of yet, because he takes the late shift: midnight to 7 a.m. I’ll snap one tonight, though, because wherever there is a Mommy in a bed, he shall be there!
Hopefully tomorrow I will see a decrease in pain as the steroids are meant to reduce swelling. That would be a dream come true. I did hear, though, that the two days following might be a nightmare.
I will keep you updated as well as I can. Peace and love.
Ten months ago, I opened up about the problems my husband I and were having trying to have children. I shared with you our decision to adopt after failing to conceive for a long time, on our own and then with fertility treatments. It is time for an update on our lives.
In the ten months that have passed since that original blog, we have still not gotten pregnant. If you are keeping track, that makes it thirty-one months since we began actively trying to conceive a child — over two and a half years. However, the pain of a possible future without children led us to seek other avenues for building our family, and we started our adoption process last August. It was a long, confusing, at times overwhelming, process, but I can thank God that I am now a Mama — that is, to a human baby, rather than just my cats.
Let me begin just after the failure of our second attempt at IUI, at the next doctor’s appointment to see if I had viable follicles for a third round of treatment. Because of hormone therapy (and some resulting depression, I’d assume), I’d gained about thirty-five pounds in just over five months and was told that day that I’d gained too much weight for the IVF specialist to consider treating us. I was handling the disappointment of another failed fertility attempt poorly, a baby cried in the next room, and my doctor had just tried to console me by saying, “I’m really sad to see you back here — I just really thought it would take this time.”
In the car on the hour and fifteen minute drive home, I told Josh that I just couldn’t deal with it anymore — I couldn’t handle the pain and disappointment and cost and time of all the doctors appointments. He asked if I could be happy without kids. I told him that, while I loved our life together, I wanted a family — a child (or four) to love and snuggle, who would wake us up early on Christmas morning, and with whom we would have movie marathons in footy pajamas, carve pumpkins at Halloween after trips to the pumpkin patch, go to the zoo and circus, build snowmen, and eat dinner at six. I told him I didn’t think I could be happy without that. He said that, in that case, we wouldn’t waste any more time on “ifs” — if I have enough properly-sized follicles, if I get pregnant, if I don’t miscarry — and we’d start to focus on “whens” — when we get the paperwork done, when the social worker approves our home study, and when a child gets placed with us.
We initially decided to foster children in the hopes of being able to later adopt them. We signed up for classes two months in a row, which were cancelled due to lack of interest. Simultaneously, we started searching out information on other types of adoption programs. We were disheartened by the cost of infant adoption, but we decided not to rule it out. Our friends, family members, and pastor all gave us advice, along with names and phone numbers to try. We attended a town meeting on fostering and adopting. We contacted several agencies — state-run and private — to seek more information. Then it was time to make a decision.
The agency we chose was All About U Adoptions, a small company based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They made all the paperwork, applications, and classes as organized and straightforward as possible, with a clear-cut to-do list and a timeline for getting it done determined, really, by us. Being as ambitious and strong-willed as I am, I forced my husband to complete the essays and budget and coursework as quickly as possible, despite the snails’ pace at which it seemed the state offices ran in filing and approving our fingerprints and background checks. We finished the entire process, including the home study, in approximately four months; we truly had much for which to be grateful at Thanksgiving.
After our photo book was made and copies were submitted to the agency, we were told we would have to continue to be patient, and that they were hoping to be able to match us to a birth mother within a year. We talked to other couples who had completed adoptions, and they gave us hope that eventually we would be chosen. We decided we would wait about six weeks — just until the start of the new year — and then we would look into hiring an adoption marketing company to seek out potential matches for us (which would be another added cost, but would likely result in an adoption for us much sooner than a year of waiting).
Surprisingly, at the end of December, we got the phone call we had been hoping for: there were two birth mothers who might pick us, if we agreed to show them our portfolios. We immediately said yes (of course we said yes, with perhaps a bit too much enthusiasm), and we were supposed to hear back if one of them had chosen us by the next day. We didn’t hear back the next day, or the day after. We contacted our agent, who said that one of the mothers had picked a different couple and the other wanted to set up an interview on Skype.
I am not sure if I have ever been as nervous as I was the evening we were to connect with a potential birth mother. I knew that she probably had many other couples on the list, most of whom had likely been waiting much longer — months or years, even — for a match. I was afraid that we wouldn’t have THE quality — the one specific, subjective quality that differs but that all birth mothers look for in a potential family for their child — the quality that can’t be predicted by anyone else but which makes up her mind definitively one way or the other. We had heard that one birth mother chose a couple because of a tee-shirt the husband was wearing in a picture of the portfolio book. Another birth mom chose a family because they lived on a farm.
On January 3, 2017, my life changed forever when Hannibal jumped into my lap on camera during the course of conversation. Our son’s birth mother said, “You have cats. You are so happy — always smiling. I want to move forward.” So we had THE quality — our genuine happiness and love for each other won her over. So did our cat.
We called our families and friends, and we told them that, while we had been chosen and were cautiously optimistic, the birth mom could still change her mind any time up to five days after the court hearing to terminate parental rights; this occurs some time after the baby is born. So, while our son was due in April, and we frantically made registries and painted his room and set up his crib and joyfully washed all the tiny clothes we received at our baby shower, we were under the constant fear that she would change her mind and decide to keep him or, perhaps (and I’m still not sure it would have been legally possible), pick a different family instead. I was always very careful during that three and a half months to answer everyone’s questions with a warning: “We are so excited, but, remember, she can still change her mind.” I was terrified it would happen.
Our church and our students organized and held fundraisers for us. We also received private donations. All of this helped with the financial burden. Our friends were incredibly helpful, including writing recommendations, offering advice and babysitting services, and giving us gifts and hugs. The towns in which we live and teach were completely supportive and most people seemed genuinely excited for us.
Then, in the blink of an eye, it was mid-April and we got a call saying our birth mother was in labor. I’ll never forget the elation and uneasiness we felt over the course of driving those eighteen hours. We were somewhere in Missouri when we learned our baby had been flown to the Arkansas Children’s Hospital because he had to have surgery for a very serious birth defect. Once we arrived in Little Rock, at 9:15 p.m., we were turned away because we didn’t have parental rights; they wouldn’t even confirm our son was actually in the hospital. I can not explain the fury and despair we felt, knowing our son was in a crib somewhere in that hospital, he was sick, we didn’t know exactly how severely, and we weren’t even able to hold his hand. So, while our son was born on Monday evening, we didn’t actually meet him until Wednesday morning, when his birth parents arrived at the hospital and put us on the visitor list.
Our son spent a week and a half in the NICU. Over the course of that time, we were given legal guardianship. We spent each day with him; his birth mother was with him most nights. She was there out of love and worry for her baby, even though it was at great physical and financial cost to herself. She had given him up for adoption because of her circumstances, and it was clear that, while she understood the choice she had made in giving him to us, it still pained her deeply. In that short time, I grew to love her in a way that would be hard for people who don’t have adopted children to understand.
About a month and a half after he was born, we had to fly back to Arkansas with him to finalize the adoption. The entire trip went smoothly, and we are happily home with our son who is, in the judge’s words, “Ours just as if he had been born to us.” He is calm and sweet. He is learning to smile. Life is literally better than I even imagined it would be.
For all of you praying for a positive pregnancy test, I haven’t forgotten you. I haven’t forgotten what it feels like to cry quietly so your husband doesn’t hear you when that test comes up negative. I haven’t forgotten the jealous torment of reading someone else’s pregnancy announcement on Facebook or the energy-draining despair of smiling when others say, “You would make great parents — you should think about having kids!” or the anguish of hearing other women complaining about the stretch marks and baby weight and heartburn and late nights and check-ups and morning sickness.
And, I pray that all of you find your joy. It might occur when you get pregnant. It might not happen biologically — it certainly hasn’t happened for us in the ten years Josh and I have been married — so I encourage you to consider other options, too. It might come from rescuing a pet. It might be when your priorities shift and you decide to look into fostering a child — maybe a toddler or even a teenager. Because of the costs associated with infant adoption, we have decided that we will look more into fostering children when our son is a bit older.
As I have stated previously, there is more to being a family than having a child with your genes. My baby doesn’t have Josh’s hair or my eyes, but he has our hearts forever.
Peace and love.
It is the time of year when people begin to express their gratitude for the good things in their lives. Of course, I could go on and on about being thankful for owning a home, my husband and I each having stable jobs, being in relatively good health, and all the expected sentiments: pets, good weather, and full bellies. In light of all that has happened in my family, good and bad, this year, I am going to take a moment and share from my heart.
Last fall, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has been receiving chemo for just over a year, had a double-mastectomy in the spring, and went through six weeks of radiation this summer. It is a hard process to watch, but with determination and a caring medical team, my mom was recently told by her doctor she is officially a “survivor.” This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for my mom, as never before.
In May, my dad suffered a massive stroke in two parts of his brain. He has come through with much less damage and fewer long-term effects than anyone thought possible. Then, in the summer, he had heart surgery. His doctors are surprised and proud of his resilience. He has healed quickly and has not lost his sense of humor. I am so thankful I am able to call my dad and argue over politics and hear his laugh.
Three weeks ago, my parents were sleeping when their house caught fire. They barely escaped and spent four days in the hospital recuperating from smoke damage. In a year where our family has had its share of disappointments and crises, this tops the list of being a mental and emotional drain. However, I believe, truly, that God sent angels to protect my parents’ lives while all around them was destruction.
In the midst of all of this, my husband and I were receiving fertility treatments that did not work. How can we find a blessing in this for which to be thankful? We have been inundated by friendship and support that was both unexpected and greatly appreciated. Our community, our friends, even strangers have been so thoughtful, uplifting, generous, and positive that it has helped me face the task of filling out adoption paperwork (so much paperwork!) and readying for our home visit with optimism. It is so much easier to do a difficult task when you know that people want you to succeed; we have received cards, phone calls, letters, and social media messages that I will forever store in my heart. I did not know, when I wrote about our fertility struggles, how many people this problem affects. Nor did I know how supportive people would be by the announcement that we were beginning to look into adoption. People have been so kind, understanding, and excited for us that it reinforces — in the midst of all the negativity in the world today and, particularly, in our country this week — the idea that most people are genuinely good, caring, and loving. Please know that we genuinely appreciate all the support we have received, and cannot express our thankfulness adequately enough.
Peace and love.
Check out the update to my Use It Up challenge! Peace and love.
Check out my newest challenge! Peace and love.