Friday, December 25, 2009

A Different Kind of Christmas...

Well, we made it through a Christmas unlike any other we've experienced before. Having had to cancel our plans to travel up north due to my back surgery, we decided to celebrate Christmas early with Shelley (and her roomate, Ashley) since she was still flying home for Christmas. It was the first time I had been up much since my surgery, but I really enjoyed having the girls and was thankful I was well enough to enjoy my time with them. The following day, I had a call from a neighbor who wanted to bring dinner and when I suggested they come for a "Christmas Tea", they decided to bring lunch instead. I've really appreciated every small "taste" of Christmas people have shared with me this year including the beautiful plants and flowers people have brought by.

We started our Christmas morning by watching Max Lucado, our pastor, on "Good Morning America", then went down to have our traditional breakfast and open gifts, which didn't take much time at all. Stacey made us a handmade sign that we plan to hang on the front porch, and Shannon's family gave us a grandparents calendar with pictures of the kids. I'm sure it'll help us get through those long months when we feel so very far away from everybody up north!

The first positive thing I thought about when I was told that I couldn't travel was that Emma wouldn't have to spend Christmas in a kennal. Well, she definately enjoyed her first Christmas with us! She loved opening gifts and really enjoyed her stocking...she had Larry and I in stitches as we watched her! She got a stuffed Christmas bear that she loved...I don't think it'll last more than a couple of days but she won't leave it for a second.

Emma's last gift she opened was a Christmas sweater that I though she would hate. Actually though, once she got used to it she left it on all afternoon. We had company for dinner and again, Emma was the center of attention (fortunately they were dog lovers). We had invited some of our friends from church over for a traditional San Antonio Christmas dinner...tamales! It was a nice chance to get to know people a little better and was an enjoyable afternoon.

It was a very "different" Christmas for us but one that I'm sure we'll talk about for many years to come. Emma LOVED being our "only child" for the day but was definately tuckered out after her first real Christmas!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Unexpected Answer to Prayer...

I actually couldn't wait to get home from our cruise so I could see a doctor and begin "treatment". Many people I had talked to said I would have to have physical therapy along with medication for the pain. Whatever they said, I was definately ready to get started so that I could move forward with Christmas and our trip north to be with family for the holidays.

After visiting the Emergency Room on Sunday, I expected to get in to a neurosurgeon on Monday, so I took the day off. The pain in my neck, right arm and hand continued to intensify along with discouragement when every doctor I called couldn't see me until after the way could I handle this pain that long! I finally decided to go in to see my primary care physician that evening who told me the same thing they had told me at the hospital. Feeling VERY discouraged, I took lots of pain meds and went to work on Tuesday. During my second group of students, my phone rang. I normally wouldn't answer it, but under the circumstances, I did. It was the neurosurgeon's office telling me the doctor could see me in one hour. I called the office to tell them I had to leave and took off right away, stopping to pick up a copy of my MRI on the way.

This doctor is supposedly the best in the area according to people I had talked to, and I felt complete confidence that he would be able to help me. Well, after looking at the MRI he said it was the worst case he had seen and immediately scheduled me for surgery on Friday...only two days away! I spent the rest of that day having all my presurgical tests done, which made for a miserable day. I was upset about the news that I would be alone for Christmas as well as worried about the fact that I hadn't yet finished my shopping. To add to that, I passed out twice that day as they took blood and did some other test called a "bleed-out". After all that, I had to drive home in torrential rains...something that doesn't happen often in San Antonio. I got thoroughly lost and had to call Shelley to get me home. It wasn't one of my best days!

I spent the next two days getting ready for Christmas. The doctor had taken me off all pain meds in preparation for the surgery, but I was so focused on finishing as much as I could, I was able to deal with it. I couldn't lift the crates where I store gifts, so I only had a couple of gifts each to send up north. I wrapped all the gifts one-handed, praying for each person as I wrapped their gift. Thankfully I had ordered things for the grandkids and had them sent to Shannon and Josh's house...Christmas would go on without me!

Friday came and I was actually so anxious to be free from the pain, I couldn't get to the hospital fast enough. When the doctor came in to see me in Pre-op, he had some more news for me...the nerve damage in my right arm was so severe, he didn't expect my arm would ever be completely usable again. With only a few minutes left before the anesthesia, I began praying and trusting in Jeremiah 29:11-13, knowing that God knows all that is ahead and that He has a plan for me. That's the last thing I remember before being put out...well, that and how cold I was!

I woke up four hours later and the first thing I noticed was that I could feel my right arm again! There was still lots of tingling, which remains even now, but I do think the nerves will heal in time. I see the neurosurgeon on December 18th and we'll see what he says.

For now, I'm home recovering, unable to be up for long. I spend my time moving from the couch to the recliner to the computer. I've started reading the New Testament again, hoping that I can discover new truths that will help me grow into the person God has planned for me. I have lots of time to pray for all the people I love, and I constantly get reminders that it could be worse...I realize what an honor it is to know Christ and have Him with me at difficult times like this.

My favorite thing to do right now is work on "My Thankful List"'s the one thing that's helping me deal with all the negatives right now. I'm currently up to #28, and I'm discovering more each day. Like it says in James 1:2-4, my goal is to face this trial with "joy"!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My First Cruise...

Our long awaited vacation took place Thanksgiving week, and while it wasn't exactly how we had visualized it, it still is a pleasant memory. I was dealing with a lot of pain when I boarded the ship and ended up visiting the medical clinic the first night we spent on board only to find out I was dealing with a bulging disc. Since I had to be on an IV all week, I wasn't able to do half of the things I would've liked to, however it was still a nice vacation.

Our first stop was in Key West where we wandered the streets for the morning. It was a place I wouldn't mind visiting again when I'm feeling better. We thought it was a bit odd to see chickens wandering the streets, however I guess it's rather commonplace there.
Our next stop was Cozumel which would have been better if they hadn't been experiencing a rare tropical storm while we were there. We spent a good portion of the morning in one shop trying to avoid the flooded streets. The rain did finally let up enough for us to walk the streets a bit, where Shelley met a very friendly parrot!

In Belize, the girls both had their hair braided by the locals and then we wandered around the city. It's a very impoverished area which is sad because they all cater to the tourists who visit their city.
We enjoyed the ship a lot and actually had Thanksgiving dinner on the ship.

This is a picture of our waiter, Ben the last night of the cruise. I missed a couple of meals due to the pain I was having, but the Larry REALLY enjoyed the food. My favorite person on board was definately my Swedish nurse...she made the entire week bearable for me!