Brain Aneurysm, Eye Pain, Infections and Hospital Stays — and Happy Birthday to Me!

Posted by on Sep 6, 2016 in adventure, blessings | 10 comments

Well, what a couple of weeks it's been!  I wish I could tell you that it was uneventful and filled with me relaxing whilst little forest animals made me dresses and fixed my hair -- but I think that's Cinderella and she really has nothing to do with what's been happening 'round these parts. I made it through the aneurysm coiling like a CHAMP!  If whining about lying flat for hours is champion behavior -- and I think not crying out  'LET ME MOVE NOW!' is pretty much a super hero like strength, so champ I am! I came home with my wonderful husband keeping everything going while I rested in the recliner or napped in my bed.  Talking became one of my least favorite things to do.  Because talking means I hear my voice in my head and my voice made my head hurt -- well, really all voices made my head hurt, so it's been quiet around here.  Also, the whole thinking / processing stuff is a bit much after the doc and his band of microsurgery peeps have been digging around in your brain and putting in coils of platinum and stents of titanium.  I found texting to be my friend -- although I did have to change my fun 'Bewitched Nose Twitch' text alert to something LESS.  Samantha's fun nose sound is only cute the first 789 times you hear it and then it's just flat-out annoying. Someone along the surgery prep way I got it in my head that while my surgery was less invasive I would leave the hospital and be 100% GREAT.  Let me share something -- that DID NOT HAPPEN.  Heck, I was in bed for the first few days -- just getting out of my PJs was a HUGE accomplishment on day 3!  But I was and AM thankful for all that God did!  I wrote this in my prayer journal when I got home. Thank you JESUS!  I'm alive.  I'm not blind in my right eye.  I didn't have a stroke!  Praise God! And then Saturday happened.  I'd felt a bit under the weather -- just ugh.   I went to take a nap -- I'm a BIG fan of Naps -- when I noticed this stuff on my leg.  That stuff was coming OUT of the incision site and it didn't look good.   Off to the ER we go because it's Saturday and all that jazz.  I'm thinking they'll give me a prescription for antibiotics and maybe a big ol' shot to get me started and I'll be out of there and home before all the football starts.  Twelve hours later I've learned that an infection on an incision that is used to open your femoral artery is a bigger deal than one would think.  So, vascular team checks me out, my neuro team checks me out, general surgery does a look see -- we are off to get a sonogram (which, by the way, are not that much fun when you're looking a pus pockets as opposed to fat baby cheeks) and then it's up to my hospital room back on the neuro floor because I've been awarded an overnight stay -- lucky me!! So overnight it's all about the antibiotics and zero sleep but hey I'm not here to sleep, I'm here to to heal.  Early morning CT scan and MORE doctors discussing how to approach the problem -- and I'm beginning to understand this is a bigger problem than I thought.  So, there's this BIG ARTERY and no one wants to mess with it!  No one!  And after a sonogram and a CT scan we are good to go.  So my doc shows up with all manner of stuff in a bag and some really great drugs for my IV and away we go! I remember talking alot about singing and thinking -- we should ALL sing -- while they are 'opening up' the wound and cleaning out the infection.  Opening up is code for cutting with what looks like a boxcutter and cleaning out means covering me with lots and lots of betadine -- but I looked tan for a minute.  Now I just look yellow. I'm back home and all is well -- except for this incredible headache behind my right eye.  And the good thing about the eye ache is it's completely normal and expected!  Unlike the infection that made for quite an exciting couple of days.  Here's to hoping that the next few days are less exciting and more boring.  I could use a bit of boring right about now! And yes, today is my birthday -- Happy Birthday to me!  

Hello… You have a Brain Aneurysm

Posted by on Aug 22, 2016 in adventure, hope, prayer | 38 comments

Last month I couldn't spell aneurysm.  I've typed and spoken this word thousands of times in the last 30 days.  Yep, I have a brain aneurysm -- Crazy, isn't it.  It hasn't ruptured -- so that is very good. How did I find it?  Well, funny you should ask -- there's a story. I've had this weird vertigo for the past few months.  I feel like I'm falling to the left -- it's just a feeling, I don't actually fall. Finally I diagnosed myself with middle ear infection -- well, me, google and my medical training (which came from binge watching Grey's Anatomy).  A round of antibiotics was ordered -- by my doctor because strangely enough my Grey's Anatomy medical education doesn't qualify me to write prescriptions -- I KNOW!  Whatever. The antibiotics didn't do the trip so I headed over to the ENT to get a better diagnosis.  I determined that something most be going on inside my ears. ENT looked, tested and couldn't find anything.  "Let's rule a few things out with an MRI and then we'll do some more testing," said Dr ENT. Well, okie dokie!  But I'm on schedule.  Have things to do, no time to slow down. The next day I have my first MRI on my head -- gotta make sure there's nothing in there causing the left leaning stuff. I was CERTAIN that NOTHING was happening in my head.  Well, nothing that would show up on a screen anyway. And then I got the call -- "We found something.  We need to get a better look. We've scheduled you for an MRA tomorrow." UH, okay.  And I hung up. FYI -- apparently MRA is an MRI that looks at blood vessels. So that's how they found my aneurysm.  And it's a doozy -- as we say in the medical community.   See that gray bubble in the middle -- that's it!  and that big artery it's attached to is my right carotid artery. IMG_8983   So, I am fortunate that is was found.  And I'm also fortunate that I can have the aneurysm taken care of with a vascular procedure -- no need to shave my head and cut my skull open.  And that's a sentence I never thought I'd write.   And I have my very own vascular neuro surgeon -- just like Dr. Derek Shepherd on Grey's except that Dr. Shepherd is dead and my guy is very much alive.   My doc will send a wire through my artery into my head and put platinum coils in the aneurysm to fill it up -- and if you're going to fill up something, platinum is the way to go.  This will stop the blood from going to the aneurysm and no more risk of rupture. Personally I've never known someone who had or has an un-ruptured aneurysm -- but I've known a few who've suffered through a rupture and the outcome isn't good.  So if you have a story of a great outcome, please share.  If you have a story of a bad outcome -- don't share.  I'm doing my best to stay positive and think about all the amazing stories I'll get from this.  AND I'm using it to get favors from my daughters -- 'Hey baby, would you get Momma show eyelash extensions -- you know I have a brain aneurysm, right?"  "You and your sister be nice to each other, Mom has a brain aneurysm."  You play with the hand you are dealt. Recovery should be fairly quick and uneventful -- that's the two things I look for in a recovery.  I have the operation on Wed, Aug 24th -- I would love your prayers for me and for my family.  I know God has us in the palm of His hand.  He is my strength and my shield.  I trust Him.  He has this!

365 Days or is it 366?

Posted by on May 11, 2016 in adventure, blessings | Comments Off

One year ago today I started on a new adventure (aka a new job) -- with Compassion.  It's been a year filled with fun and firsts. Went to a developing nation -- and I didn't just stay in the tourist section. Saw true poverty up close -- and it broke my heart. Stood over a table filled with child packets and cried when it hit me that this is REAL.  These children NEED a sponsor and not like i need a new pair of shoes.  This is a true NEED. Cried when I watched hands go up across an auditorium as my speaker asked 'who is willing to make a difference in a child's life?' Learned how to sleep on a glorified book shelf -- also known as a bunk on a tour bus. Spent the majority of three weeks living on a tour bus with 10 other people -- none that I knew well before the adventure began.  Now I call all of them friends.  Don't know what they call me -- maybe crazy lady, but I had a blast! I've gotten to know the people on my team and I'm honored to be among them!  They are talented, passionate, fearless, and funny!  They have answered my questions, talked me off of ledges, walked with me through crazy ideas and helped me navigate through this first year. I'm honored to have an amazing roster of amazing speakers!  They are an incredible bunch who believe in Compassion and love the children of Compassion!  And I get to work with them. While this year has been full of so many firsts and so much fun, I try to never lose sight of the children that have been sponsored this year!  Over 800 children by my speakers!  This is what it's all about -- children! I leave you with a few pictures from my first year with Compassion! IMG_7614

My group in Nicaragua!  Missy Robertson, me, Jade & Chad Prather, and Kasey & Justin Van Norman


A view of the back yards in a village in Nicaragua


The Karen Kingsbury and family tour team!!


Me and Shellie Rushing Tomlinson  (she's the Belle of All things Southern)

And then you find out you are Asian

Posted by on Mar 2, 2016 in random ramblings | 1 comment

Recently, I went to see a doctor about having a bit of face work done -- do not judge!  I wanted to see about getting my neck tightened -- just a bit.  And since I was there, I thought why not ask about getting my eyes done. I've always had heavy lidded eyes and have long wished for those  big beautiful lids. So the doctor looked at my neck first -- and explained that getting your neck tightened really requires getting your face tightened.  And he was nice enough to say I don't need my face tightened -- at least not yet. Then he looked at my eyes...  
"You are Asian, right?" Uh.... no "But you have Asian blood? " Blank stare "Polynesian?" Nope. "Only Asians have these type of eyelids."
Well --okay. And all this time I've been marking that Caucasian box on all types of forms.  Now, I'll be marking that Asian box! And I'm googling 'makeup for Asian eyes.'      

Finding Your Passion even when you didn’t know it was lost

Posted by on Feb 5, 2016 in adventure, blessings, Seeking Jesus | 1 comment

One year ago today I opened up this little planner -- the Passion Planner and began a journey to finding my passion. IMG_7641 copy Now, let me say that MOST people begin a new planner on January 1st or at least sometime in January.  Me?  I let that new year soak in for a month and then I get hopping.   So today I opened my new Passion Planner -- and remembered just how much this planner helped me make a change in my life.  Now, let me state that I do not believe the planner has ANY magical qualities -- nothing like that, but I do believe it helped me FOCUS -- and it helped to REMIND me WHO holds my life in His hands.  The planner was and is a tool to moving out of the muck of everyday life and moving on to live and work and exist in your PASSION -- the passion that the Lord has for ALL of His children... ALL of us are called to a life of Passion and purpose.  Sometimes we just get caught up in the daily grind and forget to focus on the One who gives us our passion! So back to my story -- a year ago I opened up my Passion Planner and began to take stock of where I was in life.  I knew it was time to move on from the job I had -- the handwriting had been on the wall for a while.  I felt strangled, stifled and without a way to share my creative and business passion.  I knew it was time -- but I didn't know HOW to go about it.  After all eight years with a Christian charter cruise company is a odd skill set.  Where to go?  How to go?  What to do?  All those thoughts rambled through my head and heart.  And then I opened the first pages of that planner and I wrote out my first  Passion Roadmap: FullSizeRender   I have some LOFTY goals on that roadmap -I LOVE what the Lord had me write for a lifetime goal --
Connect people to Jesus Connect people to passion Use local, national, and international platforms to show LOVE not judgment
And that short term goal -- find a new career path in THREE months.  Now, realistically that is CRAZY!  Just plain bat crap crazy.  But I wrote it and then I took that little three month goal and created my FIRST passion plan! My number one action item was PRAY!  And I did.  Daily, Hourly and often even more frequently.  I prayed for direction, wisdom and discernment.  And I read the Word of God -- I spent hours with my head and heart buried in scripture. I also used my planner as a journal of the journey -- and reading back over it today I'm JUST BLOWN AWAY at how the Lord was at work.  Here are a few highlights that I LOVE:
Feb 12 -- I apply for a position with Compassion International (one week after making that first road map and committing it to prayer) March 7 - Prayed for affirmation and wrote: Trust God's Plan (always better than mine); Wait on the Lord (His timing is perfect) March 11 -- I have an interview with HR at Compassion (LESS than 30 days from applying!) March 27 -- Interview with the man who is now my boss -- and I did the interview while onboard a cruise ship in the Bahamas April 6 - Set sail on what would be my last work cruise.  It was bittersweet but I knew before I stepped off that ship, that my time with Premier was done. April 22 - In person interview with Compassion in Colorado Springs
And this is what I wrote in my planner on April 23rd IMG_7636  


And more than just a job, I got my passion back.  I LOVE working with Compassion.  I love the PASSION my team has for the children in poverty.  I LOVE the passion we have that Jesus is PROCLAIMED in this nation and this world!  I LOVE my passion -- I got it back and I didn't even know I'd lost it.  Slowly I had lost my passion.  I'd let it slip away. I gave others the right to make me feel less passionate -- but no longer.  Those days are done! On May 5th -- remember that was the  due DATE I wrote in my planner -- I was saying goodbye to my co-workers and finalizing details.   On May 11th -- 3 months and 6 days I began my new job with Compassion. I don't know if you've lost your passion or you're just looking for focus, but I know  -- this pay attention to what's happening and make a plan!   We serve a God who is RIGHT IN THE MIDST of the details. I love how He knew just what I needed and put it all together.  He gave me the desire of my heart before I could even articulate this desire. So today, One YEAR LATER I just got home from a week in Nicaragua, I'm getting ready to head out on my first Compassion tour in a couple of months, and I'm LOVING my work with Compassion.   I work with an amazing team and have the most incredible group of speakers -- I'm blessed! And I'm working on my next road map -- What's next Lord?

Romans 15:13!