2012: Year In Review


When I saw the idea to do a '2012: Year in Review' on Shane's blog, I was alllll about it.

In September, I did a Year In Review [from 9/2011-9/2012], which focused on my diagnosis and recovery. But in this review, I'd like to share some other things, too, because there is more to me [and my blog] than what was included in that list.

This year has been completely filled with ups, downs, ins, outs, everything sideways and in between! I started my blog in January, so what a perfect way to sum up, easily, the most 'eventful' year of my life.

In JANUARY, I was just learning about my diagnosis and had not yet come to face surgery or recovery. It's so hard for me to even believe that I wrote that just a year ago.
[Read all about it]: Short-term Crisis, Long-term Benefits

In FEBRUARY, I had my first corrective surgery. I was still getting the hang of blogging, but one of my favorite posts is the one I wrote following my first surgery.
[Read all about it]: Stuffed Animals and Squishy Bones

My favorite post from MARCH reminds me of how tough recovery was. And it is also a great reminder of HOW much I have to be thankful for.
[Read all about it]: Point A to Point Z

In APRIL, I learned to walk again on my 33rd birthday. That same week, my youngest son learned to walk for the first time.
[Read all about it]: The Final Countdown

In MAY, I received an unexpected hip replacement and became a bionic woman!
[Read all about it]: Blood Transfusions & Titanium Confusions

In JUNE, after a tornado hit our town, I had some thoughts about life, interrupted.
[Read all about it]: Life, Interrupted

In JULY, we traveled to Florida for my husband's annual Olympic-themed family reunion. It's always a highlight of my year!
[Read all about it]: Let The Games Begin!

In AUGUST, I decided to be bold and talk about how I, never once, walked alone.
[Read all about it]: Never Once

In SEPTEMBER, I got the 'middle school blues,' when my oldest son started the sixth grade.
[Read all about it]: The Middle School Blues

In OCTOBER, I completed a Color Run (5K), the happiest 5K on the planet!
[Read all about it]: The Color Run (5K)

In NOVEMBER, I finally felt like I had answers about my health.
[Read all about it]: The Perfect Storm

In DECEMBER, I revealed some personal [but important] details about my life, and I'm glad I did.
[Read all about it]: The Greatest Gifts Come in Small Packages

Oh, and a bonus for DECEMBER was that we not only survived the end of the world, but we also survived the Poopacolypse!
[Read all about it]: Poopacolypse 2012

Like I said ... it's been eventful ... but it's also been FUN and an important string of important life lessons.

Thanks for visiting my 2012 Year In Review!

Happy New Year to you & yours! May each year be better than the last!

The Greatest Gifts Come in Small Packages


I saw this photo floating around on Facebook of babies who are born at Middle Tennessee Medical Center, and placed into an oversized Christmas stocking.

It struck me deeply on many different levels.

As I looked at these babies, cuddled up innocently in the most appropriate of wraps, I first thought about what a gift from God my own children are. But then, I thought about myself.

That's because soon after my own birth in April of 1979, I was placed into the loving arms of my parents, who I have a hard time ever referring to as my "adoptive parents." That terminology does them no justice. They are, and will always be "my mom and dad."

I couldn't have asked for a greater pair of arms to be placed into. It was as if God knew exactly who I needed when I was just a young "stocking."

I could go on and on about the amazing experiences they've provided me with, or the loving home they built, or the amount of patience and kindness they have shown -- and still show -- through the years.

Growing up, I never thought much about the fact that I was adopted, because I had no reason to. It was a closed adoption, and beyond some comments made here and there by family members, it wasn't something that was discussed.

I realize that everyone is different, but I preferred it that way. I have always known that I was loved deeply. And that was all that mattered. I couldn't have imagined it any other way, and at the age of 33, I still can't.

In 2000, I gave birth to my oldest son. Increasingly, doctors were asking me about my family medical history. I felt obligated to learn more about my birth family, and I was, admittedly, a bit curious. I think that curiosity might have always been there, but I chose to ignore it for fear of what I might find out.

But it felt like the right time -- time to face the unknown.

I was amazed at how quickly most of the answers I wanted just fell into place. It wasn't very difficult for me to find my birth mother, because she was already trying to find me.

We talked by email, and I learned [half of] my family medical history, and we learned about each other. I was in my early 20s at the time, and we had plenty to catch up on. The best way I can describe those early conversations were as "wonderfully strange."

From those conversations, the thing that really stood out to me was when she told me that, while she was pregnant with me, she watched a video about abortions at a local women's facility. She ended up leaving, and she "never looked back."

She had a choice and she chose to give me life. It hit me in that moment, reading her words, how precious my life really was. She could have gone through with an abortion, but she didn't. She gave me life, and in turn, gave my parents a daughter, and allowed my three children a chance at their lives.

For that, I am eternally grateful to her.

So, when I look at the photo above, and I see those babies wrapped up as gifts, I truly understand what a gift they are.

I'm going to take some time tonight to pray for all of the gifts that have come into this world, and to pray for those who have come and gone. I'm going to pray for those who never received a chance at life, and for the mothers who are faced with their own choices. I'll also pray for the couples who want nothing more than to have a gift of their own.

I don't, for one split second, take my life for granted.

The greatest gifts really do come in small packages.

And on Christmas and every day in between, I will celebrate the birth of the greatest gift of all.

"And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger." -- Luke 2:9-12

Poopacolypse 2012


It was a morning like any other ... well, except that some believed it was the end of world as we know it.

My alarm went off, soon followed by the sounds of my two youngest children, Chip Chip and Boogies, who are currently sharing a room.

And then came, the first sign of the Poopacolypse.

"Mommy, Boogies stinks!" Chip Chip hollered.

A second sign soon followed.

Boogies started to cry out in a drastic manner, which was atypical since he usually wakes up in a sunny and somewhat perky mood.

I rose from the bed, unsure and a little scared about what I was going to find. It much worse than anything I could have imagined.

Poop everywhere.

On the rails of his crib, all over his blankets, socks, and even on Pengy, his Dreamlite penguin pillow, which can only be washed by hand.

His older sister was standing by his bed, handing him baby wipes out of the container [Bless her heart]. It was a horrific sight.

It wasn't like he was intentionally spreading the poop, but the poop was ... let's say - a different texture, and it spread easily on its own.

I snapped into HAZMAT mode.

I went and grabbed two large trash bags: One for the items that couldn't be recovered [or were just too gross to attempt to recover], and another for the 'hopefuls' -- the items that had potential to pull through this mess.

In route to the kitchen, I hollered out to Big Boy, who was assuming his usual position on the couch with the laptop, with something along the lines of: "Get your face out of the computer screen, we've been overcome by poop."

To which he replied, "What poop?" ... never really losing focus on the computer.

I picked up Boogies and went straight for the tub, holding him out in front of me by at least a foot. I placed him in the tub before I even had a chance to run the water.

Within seconds, Boogies was back to himself, playing gleefully in the bath, while splashing as much water out of it as his possibly could.

The whole time, Chip Chip was standing next to me reverting back and forth from "Ewwww" to "Mommy, there's more poop over here."

After washing my hands to the bone and serving breakfast, I re-entered the battle zone for some final touch-ups.

With his mattress bare and the washer full, I sat down, letting out a small sigh of relief, realizing that we had survived Poopacolypse 2012.

Oh yea ... and the 'End of the World,' too.

R.I.P Pengy -- He was a cute and cuddly Dreamlite, who filled the night walls with colorful stars and moons. He was a great companion for the four weeks that he lasted in our home. We choose not to remember him as he left, but rather, how he was when he entered our lives. He will be missed.

A Fresh Plate of Perspective


If there is one important thing that I have gained more of in the the past year -- it's perspective; a new way of looking at things; the ability to wipe my lens clean and see the world in a new view; a chance to appreciate things more; a lesson in not taking - even the smallest of things - for granted.

Perspective was what drove me to start this blog. I wasn't sure if I was going to share my blog, or if anyone would actually read it. But I knew that my perspective was changing, growing rather. And I wanted to document that ... for myself. I wanted to be able to call that perspective back up and remember what it felt like, and how very important it was to me when I discovered it.

I've been thinking about all of this, because today 20 young children and six adults lost their lives in an unthinkable shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

I once wrote specifically about how horrible I felt for complaining about how much energy it would take for me to get my children up, ready, and to school. After losing the ability to do those things because of my health and disabilities, I wanted those moments, and those abilities, back more than anything. I felt so guilty for ever complaining.

I wanted to fix them a fresh plate of breakfast. I wanted to change their diapers and help them on the potty. I wanted to help dress them and put their shoes on. I wanted to check their book bags before school and make sure they did their homework. I wanted to brush their hair and break up their quarrels. I wanted to drive them to their destination and listen to songs I didn't particularly like. I wanted to answer all of their questions. I wanted to drop them off, and hug and kiss them, and tell them to have a great day. I wanted them to know how much I love them.

Today, I think about the families and friends of those children and adults whose lives were taken. I think about how they might have had some of the same types of mornings ... mornings that could have been rushed, chaotic or unappreciated.

Possibly even this morning.

After today, their mornings will never be the same.

Their lives will never be the same.

I would not pretend to know their pain and sadness.

But I feel pain. And I feel sad.

We don't even know who the children and most of the adults are yet, but we know that their loss was unexpected, unfair and unjust. And we mourn for them.

People will debate gun laws and mental illness. The news outlets will exhaust our ears with sayings like, "Evil rolled through this town today." They will report bits and pieces of information, however inaccurate or unnecessary, until there is nothing left to report. They will interview endless amounts of people, including witnesses and members of the community, people who once knew or still know the victims or the killer, and professionals with 'expert opinions.' They will invade the privacy of people who have experienced probably the worst experience they will ever have to face.

We will come to learn more horrible details that we may wish we hadn't heard. We will learn about the lives of those who were killed. No one will ever truly understand it.

When I listen closely to people -- I hear and see perspective. I hear friends talking about hugging their children or loved ones tighter, and urging others not to take precious moments or people for granted.

The difficult part is carrying that perspective with you always. It's not easy for anyone to do, including myself. But it's important to hold on to a fresh, real perspective.

I will pray endlessly for those who lost someone that they will miss with each waking moment. I pray that their anger and sadness eventually lessons and that they are able to live with some peace and comfort.

I will also pray for a lasting perspective for us all ... one that will change the priorities and values of our society. I pray for an outpouring of kindness, respect and love that has no end. I pray for the strength to overcome the darkness.

Dear Jesus,

It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.

These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.

The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?

Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.

Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.

Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.

This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.


Your Children

-- Max Lucado

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." -- Matthew 5:4

[VIDEO]: Why You Shouldn't Use Mirena IUD


My oldest son is somewhat of a genius when it comes to video production. So I decided to take a few lessons from him to make a video and post my story on YouTube. I used information from two of my most popular Mirena-related posts: [Then & Now] and [The Perfect Storm].

I included some video clips and photos that I haven't previously shared from my journey and recovery.

I hope that someone finds this video helpful. I'm happy with it ... well, except for my voice -- I don't always sound that serious, promise.

Hope you enjoy it! If you do, share it with a woman [or a few women] you love. It could make a difference -- at least, that's what I'm hoping!

View on YouTube at: http://youtu.be/qKMrIM1Ku8c

Mirena Lawsuits Piling Up? What's Next?


In a past post [Mirena: Writings on the Wall], I mentioned that distribution of Norplant ended in 2002 after it resulted in more than 50,000 lawsuits, including 70 class actions.

Basically, there was nothing left to profit after lawsuits took a huge chunk of it.

Norplant I and II used the same active ingredient [Levonorgestrel/LNG]. With Norplant I, the LNG was released by way of six silicone rods that were implanted into the arm. The difference with Norplant II [Jadelle] is that it used two larger rods and it was introduced by a new manufacturer [Bayer].

But Norplant II was never promoted in the U.S.

That would be too ... obvious.

Instead of Norplant III, we get Mirena IUD. No one would ever suspect a thing. Especially since it's an IUD. That's got to be different, right? Certainly it won't affect as many women because it's going to be in the cervix instead of the arm. Profits would get a new kick start ... well, at least until the lawsuits catch up to it.

And when it comes to Mirena IUD, I believe that the lawsuits will catch up to it. Here's an article that provides some interesting information on the subject: [The Mirena IUD is Becoming More Popular - and the Lawsuits are Piling Up - http://www.pop.org/content/mirena-iud-becoming-more-popular-and-lawsuits-are-piling]

And this just released less than 24 hours ago: [DrugRisk Announces Bayer Attempt to Combine Growing Mirena Lawsuits - http://news.yahoo.com/drugrisk-announces-bayer-attempt-combine-growing-mirena-lawsuits-080845386.html]

In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to find my own story shared on a Mirena lawsuit page for a law firm: [http://www.pulaskilawfirm.com/blog/2012/11/08/missing-iuds-and-perforated-uteruses-mirena-iud/]

For the record, I have not pursued any legal action. I'm not exactly sure why.

Like Norplant, Mirena IUD is also made of silicone. And it also releases LNG.

Here is a very interesting read about the affects that Norplant had on women, and why citizens petitioned for it to be taken off the market: http://pop.org/content/norplant-background-a-pri-petition-888

It states that: "... Between February 1991 and December 1993 the FDA received 5,800 reports of adverse health events involving Norplant use through its Medwatch Reporting System. These events included pseudo tumor cerebri (39 cases), hospitalizations because of infections and difficulties with removal (24 cases), strokes (15 cases), and thrombocytopenia (6 cases - 1 death), among others."

The stories listed are horrifying.

Here are a few post-Norplant experiences from women in Bangladesh:
- "My limbs felt like collapsing, as if they were being wrenched apart. I couldn't work or eat even. I had to lie in bed for 3 months. I couldn't do anything ... "
- "Suddenly [after having Norplant inserted] my body became weak, quite suddenly. I couldn't get up, couldn't take care of my children, couldn't cook. I was bedridden"
- "In 6 months [I went to the clinic] about 12 times. Yes, about 12 times. I went to the clinic and pleaded I'm having so many problems. I'm confined to bed most of the time. Please remove it [Norplant ]' My health broke down completely. I was reduced to skin and bone."

The petition stated that Norplant had:
  • An unacceptably high risk/benefit ratio, especially as compared to other progesterone- related drug delivery systems
  • The potential for causing serious disability
  • An unacceptably wide range of post-usage adverse health conditions
  • An unknown long-term health risk
  • A possible link with increased HIV risk

An article I shared earlier about the increase in Mirena lawsuits concludes with this:
"Bayer is probably already settling lawsuits out of court as quickly and as quietly as possible, so as not to discourage other potential users of Mirena. When their legal costs begin to mount, their sales begin to drop, and their profit margins disappear, it will be time for their end game: this will involve taking the contraceptive off the market, at least in the U.S., and reaching a once-and-for-all settlement with the entire class of affected users.

I do not think Bayer is at all daunted by this prospect.

In fact, I believe that Bayer, like all contraceptive manufacturers, is already working on a successor contraceptive that will, in a couple of years, be released with great fanfare. This new “magic pill” will be heavily marketed directly to consumers. It will be sold by the millions. It will earn hundreds of millions for the company. It will not really be “new,” however. Rather, it will closely resemble an existing contraceptive drug or device, but it will have a new name, a slightly different chemical formula, and a slightly altered appearance to preserve the fiction that it is an entirely new product.

Like its predecessor, it will be foisted on a new generation of women until the side effects manifest themselves. At which point it, too, will be removed from the market in turn.

What a market plan."

In my last post I talked about a documentary called, "Food Matters." They discussed this exact phenomenon. It's not just with birth control -- it's bad drugs everywhere, being banned or being overcome by lawsuits, then returning with almost the same [and sometimes the exact same] product under a new name.

According to the Adverse Events Report on November 20th tracking FDA AERS reports through June 30, 2012, the agency has received more than 45,000 reports of complications among women using the Mirena IUD.

That's 39,200 MORE reports than Norplant received.

"Due to the number of claims expected, Bayer recently petitioned for cases to be consolidated to the New Jersey Superior Court in Middlesex County, where the company is headquartered." [SOURCE: http://news.yahoo.com/drugrisk-announces-bayer-attempt-combine-growing-mirena-lawsuits-080845386.html]

Oh, cool. Let's consolidate in one place close to them to make their lives easier. That might help them to stay in "business" a little longer.

Once they're run down by lawsuits, a manufacturer will probably just give it a new name.


"Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another." -- Ephesians 4:25

You Are What You Eat


I love fried food [mostly french fries]. I don't eat a lot of meat [only bacon and on occasion, chicken and burgers]. Imagine a five-year-old sitting at the dining room table saying, "Icky! I don't like veggies!" ... well, that's me [except I'm a grown adult].

I know, it sounds bad. And it is. But I also eat important things like nuts and fruit. I work spinach into frozen fruit smoothies that I make using my Ninja. I could munch on craisins, cashews, pecans, pistachios, champagne grapes, almonds and blueberries ALLLLL day long and be happy as a clam.

I take a daily multi-vitamin. I take another Vitamin D + Calcium pill. I also take an iron supplement.

Last week, I watched a documentary called, "Food Matters." I was hesitant to watch it. I was worried that it would be one of those films that made me feel absolutely horrible about myself. But it wasn't.

It didn't point fingers and tell me everything that I was doing wrong. It was just plain informative.

Actually, the title is a bit misleading because they spent a lot of time talking about how much of the world [and definitely the U.S.] lives in a culture driven by prescription drugs. There was some VERY interesting stuff about how drug companies pretty much own us. Drug companies and everyone they impact [Wallstreet, doctors, pretty much everyone] wants us to believe [or maybe they just don't know any better ... ok, that just was me trying to give them the benefit of the doubt] that we can't treat cancer with nutrition, that vitamins can be bad for us, and that we have to use drugs and surgery to treat most things.

The number of deaths related to prescription drugs and surgery are nothing short of astounding. In the film, they talked about clinical trials and detox -- things that have become important to me since my health quickly declined after the insertion [and removal] of Mirena IUD.

They did talk about 'Super Foods.' And maybe I'm behind on things, but I did not know that foods lose almost all of their nutrients when they are cooked.

With many foods mentioned in the film, I actually thought, "Hey - I can eat that."

One major Super Food is Cacao. And no, you don't really get the benefits of it from a chocolate bar or hot cocoa, because once heated, the 'good stuff' goes bye-bye.

Check out this description of cacao:
Raw Cacao - For this nut we could easily dedicate a whole page, if not a book. A word of warning before we start however, most cocoa powder and commercial chocolate is processed via the "Dutch method" meaning it is subjected to scorching temperatures of up to 150°C with the additional aid of solvents, thus destroying most of the nutrients and antioxidants. Be sure to attain certified organic raw cacao in a powder, nib or whole bean form as the temperature will have never been allowed to exceed 40°C thus allowing all the heat-sensitive vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to remain intact. Raw cacao beans contain possibly the world's most concentrated source of antioxidants found in any food. They also extremely high in magnesium which has been found to be the most common deficient major mineral even following a balanced diet. For those concerned with not getting enough iron it should be pleasing to know that one small 28 gram serving of raw cacao beans gives 314% of the recommended daily allowance of iron. And if that is not enough raw cacao beans have an antioxidant (ORAC) score of 95,500. To put that into perspective, that is 14 times more flavonoids (antioxidants) than red wine and 21 times more than green tea.
[SOURCE: http://www.foodmatters.tv/Health_Resources/Super_Fruits_and_Nuts]

Sounds pretty amazing, right? So, naturally, I ordered a pound of cacao nibs from Natural Zing.

I've been wanting to post about this documentary since I watched it, but I'm just getting around to it. And over at Kate Krull's blog, she's asked us to share a favorite holiday recipe. So, I'm going to share a fun recipe using cacao nibs. My nibs haven't arrived yet, but seriously ... how can you go wrong with mint and chocolate flavors?
Especially when it's filled with antioxidants!

Chocolate Mint Freezy
Blend 3 Tablespoons (1 oz) cacao nibs with 1 1/2 cup water, 3 tablespoons agave nectar, 1/2 cup almonds or pecans, 2 sprigs fresh mint or 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract for about one minute in a high powered blender. Now add 3 cups of ice and blend into a slurry. Share with three friends or just a very special friend.

I'm so excited to make it and then report back.

I'm on the verge of blabbing at this point in my post, but it's interesting enough to mention that in my last post [Don't Stop Livin'], which I published before viewing this film, I mentioned using some holistic approaches for the pain I've felt in my hands. My doctor actually asked me to 'keep it a secret' when he suggested those approaches. I found that a little ironic at the time, but now I understand that most doctors are actually expected to NOT suggest holistic or nutritional alternatives to prescription medicine or medical procedures. Even the sound of it can seem a bit kooky -- "holistic," "alternative medicine." Even I have been known to frown on those ideas, because they just sounded weird. But I would urge you to open your mind to those terms. I know I will. [As I am preparing my paraffin wax dip bath for my hands - Mhmm Hmmm].

I could go on and on about the documentary, "Food Matters," but I really think you should watch it for yourself. They were running a free viewing offer last week so it was making the rounds online -- that's how I heard about it from a friend. If you are subscribed to Netflix, it's available here.

Take a looksy and then, let me know what you thought of it.

"Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything." -- Genesis 9:3

Don't Stop Livin'


"There was a crooked man, who walked a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

Yesterday, I returned to my orthopedic doctor for the first time since July. He mentioned a story about a crooked man who built a crooked house, and he said it reminded him of me.

We all laughed about it. I have to admit that now, since becoming "even" again after my left hip replacement, the laughing comes from a genuine place ... one that doesn't require me to laugh at an otherwise crappy situation.

X-rays on my hips revealed that my left hip, which is now made of titanium and ceramic, is doing well. My doctor said that when he saw it on the x-ray that he 'patted himself on the back.' And he should.

The right hip was as expected -- a little "iffy" at best.

He explained that there were no further signs of Avascular Necrosis. With that, came a HUGE sigh of relief. That meant that my hip wasn't getting any worse, and that my blood circulation had restored itself back to normal. My right hip was no longer deteoriating.

"But," he said.

... There always seems to be a "but."

"But it's not a normal hip by any means," he said. "And eventually, you are going to need a replacement."

It wasn't horrible news, since I had already figured that much. I'm only hoping I can hold off on getting my right hip replaced for at least a few years. He suggested that - once it is to a point where the pain medication does not help, and it affects the quality of my life - to consider the replacement.

And I will. Because my left hip, which has already been replaced, is doing great. Had I not had it replaced - I'd still walk uneven with an aide and I wouldn't be able to do half of the things I am an able to do now.

I might have built my own crooked house.

The main thing I'll have to watch out for with my left hip is infection. Our immune system is unable to attack bacteria that live on implants, and these infections can become serious problems. If an infection of an implant goes untreated, the problem can worsen, and the bacteria can gain such a foothold that they can become a systemic problem.

Despite excellent antibiotics and preventative treatments, patients with a joint replacement infection often will require removal of the implanted joint in order to cure the infection. Fingers crossed that it will never happen!

My doctor explained that he can see where sclerosis (thickening or hardening of the bone) has occurred in the right hip. That meant that my bisphosphonate that I take each month is doing it's job. Still, the top of the hip is damaged. It's not near collapse, but it's not round like it should be. It actually looks "ridgy."

Then I asked my doctor: "Would now be a good time to tell you about my new problem?"

I could tell he was a little scared about what I was going to say next. I was, too.

For those who are not familiar with Avascular Necrosis (AVN), it typically affects bones and joints in a parallel manner - hence, my own AVN progression, my left hip, then right hip. My right shoulder, then my left.

"It's my hands," I told him. "They hurt ... bad."

At the end of the day, I can barely work them into a fist. It's been a problem since I write full-time. If I'm not typing, I'm clicking. I'm if I'm clicking, I'm writing. For any given event, I can easily take 5-6 pages of notes.

So I had more x-rays done on my hands. Thankfully, they came back clear.

It's possible that pain is a side effect of Sjogren's Syndrome, or the bisphosphonate that I take each month.

For now, I'm going to try a few "hollistic" approaches for my hands.

I despise medication, so I'm willing to give these things a shot:

If anyone has any other ideas for pain relief for my hands, please let me know.

I'm just so happy that my bones are still in tact.

Hips are important. Hands are important. Shoulders, too. Don't take these things for granted. They allow you to live your life like you do. [hey, that rhymes}

And on that note, the final question I asked my doctor as he was walking out the door was, "So, no skiing this winter?"

"If you want to ski, you should," he replied.

I couldn't believe my ears. Now my husband and I could finally have our photos taken at the ski resort we got married at in 2008. Our wedding photographer screwed up all of our wedding photos and last year, we planned to have anniversary photos taken there, but that was cancelled because of my condition and pending surgeries.

I actually ended up having two surgeries on our 4th anniversary.

So, for our fifth anniversary, I think we'll finally head back to the mountains.

My doctor poked his head back in the door and said: "Don't stop livin'."

Touché, doctor ... touché.

"I look to the mountains; where will my help come from? My help will come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let you fall; your protector is always awake. The protector of Israel never dozes or sleeps. The Lord will guard you; he is by your side to protect you. The sun will not hurt you during the day, nor the moon during the night. The Lord will protect you from all danger; he will keep you safe. He will protect you as you come and go now and forever." -- Psalm 121

Remind Me Who I Am


Over at Kate Krull's blog, she's been hosting "Fun Fridays" for many weeks now. I've been looking forward to this specific one, because she asked us to share "where you worship."

My family and I attend Water's Edge Church on the Virginia Peninsula. They have three separate locations [Yorktown, Hampton and Newport News], and you can also watch the services online at: http://www.watersedgechurch.net/watch/

Today's service tapped into one of the reasons why I love my church so much. It was the second in a series titled, "No Perfect People Allowed."

I love being a part of a church that welcomes everyone with open arms; a church that acknowledges that we are not perfect. We sin ... again and again [and again and again]. There is no pressure to be "perfect" there. Everyone dresses casually and comes as they are. It's not a "traditional" church with a steeple, but the contents for an amazing place of worship are all there.

Waters Edge Church has grown from 50 people to a church of thousands because they do church differently. They don’t do what’s expected or, for that matter, what’s accepted. The music is loud. The message is bold. They value kids and love students. They do whatever it takes to connect people to God.

Because it isn't "traditional," people do judge it. Unfortunately, that judgement is usually passed by other Christians. But we have found a home there; it is our refuge from the imperfect lives that we all live.

This morning, Pastor Stu Hodges talked about the tension that arrives from a "Perfect/Imperfect Contradiction." The Bible clearly states that God wants us to be perfect. Yet, we are imperfect.

We get frustrated and yell at our children and others. We form unhealthy habits. We disrespect our spouses. We do imperfect things. And this creates a contradiction.

Pastor Stu read John 1:42: "And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter)."

That's kind of weird, right? Jesus decided to change Simon's name to Peter. Stu acted out randomly changing a guy's name from Frank to Larry, and it was pretty hillarious.

But then his point hit home: Simon meant "shifty," and in fact, Simon had refused Jesus many times before. But Peter meant, "a rock."
Jesus was re-defining Simon as a rock, changing his name to Peter.

Like Jesus changed Simon, He also changes us. He gives us definition and reminds us of who we really are.

Pastor Stu shared the sweetest father's day gift that his children made for him earlier this year. They wrote down some of their favorite memories and lessons learned from their father. They wrote things like: "You're the greatest dad" and "You're the best Pastor in the world."

Pastor Stu said that he didn't believe that he was the greatest dad, or the best pastor in the world. But his children did. And that was an important reminder.

God thinks no differently of us. Sometimes, we forget who we are simply because we let our actions define us. When we’re tempted to act in a way that is not consistent with who we are, we can ask God to help us make wise choices. Who we are, should define what we do [not the other way around].

More times than I can remember, God reminded me who I was -- especially in the last year.

At times, I thought I was weak. Or a bad mother. Or a bad wife. I couldn't care for my family like I had in the past. I felt guilty about how my health affected my abilities. I would get upset, mad and frankly, my misery needed some company. I felt so imperfect. But I managed to pull myself out of those self-defined moments, because God reminded me who I am.

I am a good mother and wife. I am strong. I want to be an unstoppable force. I want to be helpful. I want to be thankful in all circumstances.

Because I am imperfect, I will lose sight of myself. But He won't.

These weekly reminders are so important to me. I'm so thankful for my church.

If you are imperfect, if you are looking for a place to worship, or if you are just curious -- I highly suggest that you check out Water's Edge Church.

"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. -- Ephesians 2:19-22

The Perfect Storm


Much like "Frankenstorm," I had all the right ingredients for a life-altering perfect storm. More than a year after the pain began, I am able to take a look back and track the past year and half with certainty.

I had no warnings. No causes for concern. No time to prepare.

I had my third child in March of 2011. I felt great. Better than ever actually.

At my six-week appointment, I had Mirena (IUD) inserted. Within five months, both of my hips and my right shoulder started to deteriorate from a lack of blood supply (Avascular Necrosis). I saved my left shoulder when I realized the connection and had it removed late in 2011.

But it was still too late for the rest of me. Too much damage had been done.

This is going to be a long post, so try and stick with me if you can. This is information that ANY woman who is using -- or is considering using Mirena IUD -- should read.

INGREDIENT #1 (Silicone & Autoimmunity)

I believe that the silicone in Mirena was released into my body, causing me to have an ANA positive blood test result, meaning that I had an autoimmune issue of some sort. Further testing revealed that I likely developed Sjogren's Syndrome, an autoimmune disease in which immune cells attack and destroy the exocrine glands that produce tears and saliva. The silicone used in Mirena is no different than the silicone used in breast implants.

Here's what the research shows:

Silicone produces abnormalities in immune system functioning.

  • Silicone elicits antibody responses and immunological abnormalities,according to a study of 40 women who had received implants more than ten years earlier. Among these women, 60% had an elevated ratio of helper T cells to suppressor T cells; 20% had a blockage in particular functions of T cells and natural killer cells. (Toxicology Industrial Health 8:6 [November/December 1992], 415-429.)
  • Scientists at the University of California at Davis reported that evidence suggests that the degradation products of silicone inactivate CD8+ suppressor T cells (key immune cells) and thereby lead to an inflammatory state in the body. (Food and Chemical Toxicology 32:11 [November 1994], 1089-1100.)
  • The activity of natural killer cells is significantly suppressed in at least 50% of women with silicone implants observed in a study; this puts the women at a higher risk of developing cancer. The same effect was demonstrated in animals; it was reversed upon removal of the silicone. (Toxicology and Industrial Health 10:3 [May/June 1994], 149-154.)
  • High levels of anti-nuclear antibodies (ANAs), immune markers associated with lupus erythematosus, were observed in ten of 11 women with implants reporting autoimmune symptoms. (Lancet 340:8831 [November 28, 1992], 1304-1307.)
  • When 500 women with silicone implants were examined, 30% tested positive for ANA levels; those women also had rheumatic symptoms. The results strongly suggested immune activation in women with silicone implants.(Current Topics in Microbiological Immunology 210 [1996], 277-282.)
  • Based on a study of 3,380 breast implant recipients, scientists state there is a sixfold increased likelihood that testing these women will show elevated ANAs; the longer the implant has been in place, the greater the likelihood. (Current Topics in Microbiological Immunology 210 [1996], 337-353.)
  • In a study of 111 women (with and without implants), those with implants had a statistically significant elevation of anti-silicone antibodies (immune cells focused against silicone as a foreign substance in the body); the highest levels were observed in women with noticeable implant rupture or leakage. (FASEB 7:13 [October 1993], 1265-1268.)
  • Researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison School of Medicine reported that autoantibodies of unclear significance may be found in 5% to 30% of women with silicone breast implants.(Archives of Internal Medicine 153:23 [December 1993], 2638-2644.)
  • Researchers at Monash University in Clayton, Victoria, in Australia, found that women with silicone implants (70 were studied) have elevated levels of autoantibodies to collagen, in a manner highly similar to women with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. (Current Topics in Microbiological Immunology 210 [1996], 307-316.)
  • Among 310 symptomatic women with silicone implants, there were elevated levels of novel autoreactive antibodies to silicone associated antigens(a specific type of heightened immune response) compared to healthy women without implants. (Current Topics in Microbiological Immunology 210 [1996], 327-336.)
  • Scientists at the Technical University of Munich in Germany examined 239 breast implant recipients and found the following immunological abnormalities: levels of complement C3 were elevated in 42% of the women; complement C4 was elevated in 21%; and antithyroglobulin (an antibody that attacks a substance in the thyroid gland) was higher in 28%. (Annals of Plastic Surgery 36:5 [May 1996], 512-518.)
  • When silicone leaks from implants, immune cells form granulomas (microscopic lumps) around the droplets; the granulomas are capable of severely disrupting the immune system. Silicone plays the role of an adjuvant, providing constant nonspecific stimulation of the immune system.(Journal of Investigative Surgery 9:1 [January/February 1996], 1-12.)
  • Typical symptoms associated with silicone include cognitive dysfunction, short-term memory loss, Sjögren's syndrome (dryness in glands, such as the mouth, kidneys, eyes, and lungs), scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, dermatomyositis, severe joint and muscle pain, incapacitating fatigue, swollen lymph glands, skin problems, peripheral numbness, multiple allergies, headaches, hair loss, sunlight sensitivity, central nervous system disorders (similar to multiple sclerosis), and others.
  • Among 176 breast implant patients examined by doctors at the Hospital for Joint Diseases, Orthopaedic Institute, in New York City, the most frequently reported symptoms were chronic fatigue (77%), cognitive dysfunction (65%), severe joint pain (56%), dry mouth (53%), dry eye (50%), hair loss (40%), and difficulty in swallowing (35%). (Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatology 24:1 Suppl 1 [August 1994], 29-37.) [SOURCE]

It's an important ingredient ... possibly the most relevant one. But I can't be sure. I only know it played a part. Apart from the FACT that my body was attacking itself, autoimmune diseases, such as Lupus, are a known cause of Avascular Necrosis.

INGREDIENT #2 (Hormones & Blood Clotting):

I believe that another important element of my perfect storm was blood clotting. Before Mirena, I'd never had any clotting issues. But when doctors were trying to determine what caused me to develop Avascular Necrosis, my blood tests revealed a clotting disorder. The link between hormones (which are used in Mirena IUD) and clotting is also something that has been researched. Clotting is an obvious cause of Avascular Necrosis. If the blood hardens and can't get to the bones, they deteriorate.

Here is what research has discovered about clotting and Hormone Therapy (HT), which uses one or more female hormones, commonly estrogen and progestin and sometimes testosterone, to treat symptoms of menopause:
  • Doctors have long known that taking estrogen increases a person's risk for blood clots. Generally, this risk is higher if you use birth control pills, which contain high doses of estrogen. Your risk is even higher if you smoke and take estrogen. [SOURCE]
  • Estrogen pills raise older women's risk of blood clots, but not as much as supplements that also contain progestin, according to new data from a landmark government study on more than 10,000 women. [SOURCE]
  • In 2002, the WHI linked estrogen-progestin pills to heart attacks and breast cancer and found that they also doubled the risk of blood clots. [SOURCE]
  • HRT is regularly prescribed to women suffering from the effects of the menopause. Previous studies have shown that taking HRT is associated with an increased risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE), a blood clot in the vein which can be fatal.

The manufactured hormones used in Mirena are known as progestogen, one of the five major classes of steroid hormones, which includes progesterone. It is a second generation synthetic progestogen, also known as Levonorgestrel (LNG). It is usually referred to as the "active" ingredient in Mirena. It's probably also important to mention that long-term steroid use is a known cause of Avascular Necrosis. I have never been exposed to steroids, except for the steroid hormones in Mirena.

There has not been much research on this very specific hormone (LNG) and its relation to clotting. But I find it very interesting that there is a clinical trial titled, "The Effect of a Levonorgestrel-releasing Intrauterine Device (IUD) Versus a Copper Containing IUD on Risk of Blood Clots."

I have had my eye on that trial for a LONG time, but the status of it does not seem to ever change. I'm staying tuned though ... patience is a virtue ... especially when it comes to clinical trials of utmost importance to women's health.

Here are two warnings now provided about using Mirena IUD:
  • Women with a weakened immune system (often cause by diabetes or by chronic use of steroid medications) should be monitored carefully for signs of infection after insertion or removal of Mirena. (Chronic use of steroids?? ... that's weird -- Mirena IS a chronic use of steroids)
  • If you have a blood clotting disorder or if you take "blood-thinning" medications, your healthcare provider may need to monitor you more closely while you are using Mirena.

INGREDIENT #3 (My family medical history):

It wasn't until very recently that I actually had my FULL family medical history. I learned that I had a grandfather with clotting issues, and that I have a grandmother with Rheumatoid Arthritis who has also been diagnosed as "Pre-Lupus." Would knowing this earlier have made a difference? I really can't say for sure. My doctor never mentioned these types of warnings to me. Had I done more research on my own before using Mirena, and had I fully known my family medical history, it's possible that I never would have used Mirena.

And I guess that very idea leads me to write all of this. I share my perfect storm, because I want others to make educated choices about their bodies. I want others to know what hormones and silicone CAN do to your body.

Believe it or not, there is more. Research has also shown that LNG causes a decrease in bone mass density and that it could cause osteoporosis. Research has also shown that the daily release amounts of LNG are 1.5-fold higher in women with a low body weight OR within reproductive age. The LNG can also become systemic, meaning it affects the ENTIRE body (and not just the cervix, which it is promoted to do). You can read about all of those factors and others here.

One doctor thinks it was the hormones. Another says it was the steroids. Another doctor said it was a genetic predisposition triggered by Mirena. Some people say its because "I don't eat my vegetables," and they dismiss Mirena as a cause altogether. As ANNOYING as that last one is, I'll give people the benefit of the doubt -- because it is a possible factor.

But I don't think it's as simple as any one of those. When combined, those factors can create a perfect storm.

More than anything
-- I believe that had I never used Mirena IUD, I would still be healthy and fully physically able. I believe that I wouldn't have developed an autoimmune condition or Avascular Necrosis without it. That was proven when I had Mirena removed, and the deterioration stopped. Future blood tests will have to determine if my autoimmune condition is temporary or permanent.

The important thing to know is that if you are using Mirena, the ingredients for a perfect storm are there. Please don't wait around to see what type of damage it could cause for you.

"And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” -- Matthew 8: 23-27

Please read, sign and share this petition for more testing on Mirena IUD/Skyla IUD:

The Color Run (5K)


We went. We ran (but mostly walked). We conquered.

First, we arrived at the National Harbor, D.C., to the Gaylord National where we stayed the night before the Color Run. This hotel was simply amazing. We got a room with a balcony view over the atrium and there were birds flying around inside! There were stores and places to eat. We could have stayed there and had a fun time, but we went out and ventured around and it was a great little area to visit. My (12-year-old) son liked the hotel so much that he asked (at least 5 times) if we could live there. I can't blame him for asking. I didn't want to leave either. Here was the view from the balcony of our room:

The night before the race, we got all of our Color Run gear ready. I had been waiting for this 5K for so long that I actually had trouble sleeping the night before. I felt like a little kid on Christmas eve. It was a pretty big deal for me.

Just five months prior I was getting up from a wheelchair to walk on my own two feet for the first time in months. My left hip has felt strong ever since it was replaced. My right hip still worries me some, and I almost put off the Color Run because of it. I knew I could finish, but I was worried about the amount of pain I'd be in afterwards. It's hard to understand how anything physical becomes difficult until you've been sitting in a chair for four months -- your muscles get weak and you lose the stamina you once had. When I first started walking again, I'd get winded going from one side of the room to the other. There were times when I thought I'd never walk normal again, much less complete a 5K on even legs!

It's funny how I think now -- in terms of everything pre-operations vs. post-operations. Everything "post-operations" becomes a big deal. I constantly catch myself saying "I just did (insert activity here) for the first time since my surgeries."

Although I'd hoped I'd be able to walk/run a 5K, I wasn't real sure if it was possible. But it was, and I'm so glad I did it.

If you are considering doing a Color Run - do it! It is so much fun and an experience you will never forget. I am in pain now, but it's not as bad as it was yesterday, which is a good sign. We are thinking about traveling to a Glo Run next.

    Here are some tips/thoughts for others considering doing a Color Run:
  • Many people walked. If you don't run, it's OK. Just stay to the right.
  • Have a cover for your camera. I used a waterproof disposable camera. The photo quality wasn't all that great, but I didn't want to ruin a good camera.
  • Wear pants with pockets - they will come in handy.
  • Get creative with your outfit (there were LOTS of tutus)
  • The race packet came with a headband, the race bib and a Color Run tattoo. Other items are available when you check-in.
  • If you think you might be slower than the others, get near the start so that you can go in an early "wave."
  • Run through the color stations in circles so that you get fully covered.

I could go on and on about what an AWESOME experience this was for me, but here's most of it in photos. Shout out to my friend, Maureen, who didn't know she was going to have to take a million photos of my family during and after the race!

I'm going to go strike this one off of my bucket list now :-)

UPDATE: On Dec. 28th I was surprised and absolutely honored that The Color Run recognized me as a 'Color Runner Hero of 2012.' What a perfect way to end the year on a positive and inspiring note! Thank you so much, Color Run!

Here's a beautiful little girl named Pearl, who was also recognized by The Color Run. And she is MY hero!!!

"Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; Thou hast loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness; That [my] soul may sing praise to Thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to Thee forever." -- Psalm 30:11-12

A Quick Update


I've been blog-slacking for the past month, but I wanted to give you all an update on things.

First, the long-awaited Color Run (5K) is this weekend! Because I was/am having some pain in my right hip, I was re-considering participating. I started to think that I should wait for a later Color Run, when I have had more time to recover. I had even told my husband, "Let's just wait," and he agreed.

But then I told my 12-year-old (who is also signed up) and he was devastated. I didn't think he would care, so his disappointment took me by surprise. It also made me sad. I didn't want to let him down. And honestly, I didn't want to let myself down either.

Let's face it -- my "recovery" is actually a way of life. I don't think that a year from now that I'll be any better off than I am today. In fact, my right hip could get worse. So I'm sticking to the plan and going for it. I'm sure I'll have to walk almost the whole thing, but it will still be a great accomplishment if I can finish, and I love that I get to share that experience with my husband and oldest son.

I managed to do some dancing at a wedding this past weekend and I even wore a pair of heels (not too high) for the first time in about a year. I'm paying for it a bit now because I am sore, but we had such a great time so it was worth it!

We also went to a local Fall Festival this month and walked around, which is something I couldn't have dreamed of doing a few months ago. Below is a video of a band that was playing there -- a family band from Virginia, The Hunts. They were awesome! I ordered their new CD and can't wait for it to get here!

I ask for all of your prayers and continued support as I prepare for the Color Run this weekend. I appreciate all of you so much!

I have a ton of new things to report, but I'm at this weird place now in my blog/story, where I can't decide if I want to "get personal" or "stay somewhat private."

There's a lot more to my story and I'm working up the courage to share some of it. I think that eventually I will, but that's why I've been a little "quiet" on my blog lately.

I can't wait to update you all on the Color Run and to share some more of my journey with you!

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." -- 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

My Year in Review [9/2011-9/2012]


It was last September when my journey began. It started as tronchanteric bursitis [inflammation] and quickly escalated to bone deterioration in my hips and shoulders from a lack of blood supply [Avascular Necrosis]. It all happened so quickly that I didn't have much time to think.

I only knew that I needed to act. I needed to get better.

After my hip pain started in my left hip, the rest of my story came hard and fast. It wasn't just my bones in my hips deteriorating, causing me to have a severe limp which kept me off of my feet most days -- it was also my right shoulder ... not being able to use it ... not being able to lift my children and my youngest son, who was barely seven-months-old when I started seeing doctors.

It was also learning to deal with life in a wheelchair, losing my independence, recovering from surgeries, dealing with doctors who didn't understand what was happening to me, becoming a pin cushion for dozens of lab tests, lying there time after time for x-rays and MRIs, and through it all -- waiting as patiently as possible for good news.

But it seemed that the good news never came. It kept getting worse. I also developed an autoimmune condition, I was anemic, I was weak, my blood was clotting, surgeries were necessary, I had severe chest pains that kept me awake in fear at night, and worst of all, I didn't have any answers about why this all was happening.

They kept calling my case "idiopathic," meaning they didn't know the cause.

On my really bad days, I had convinced myself that I was dying.

I kept working full-time through it all -- only taking one week off after each surgery and then working from home for a few days until I was able to physically be back in the office. I still had three children who deserved my love and attention. And I still needed to be a wife and maintain a household. Though my life was changing so drastically, the world just kept moving along at a chaotic pace.

With four surgeries behind me, including one hip replacement, I can finally say that things are getting better. I'm walking again, though I have to limit my time on my feet. I'm lifting my children again, though not easily. I'm still piecing together my own complex pieces of the puzzle that caused this all to happen.

In hindsight, I still wonder how I made it through the past year without falling apart [literally & figuratively].

I was watching a T.V. show [Sons of Anarchy] last week and heard this quote:

"There's an old saying 'that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger', I don't believe that. I think the things that try to kill you make you angry and sad. Strength comes from the good things; your family, your friends the satisfaction of hard work. Those are the things that will keep you whole. Those are the things to hold on to when you're broken."

He was right. I was angry and sad. Sometimes, I still am. But I survived and gathered strength from family, friends, my choice to continue working, and my faith. Those are the things that I have held onto through the past year. Those are the things that got me through.

I'm still learning more about my health -- like a possible clotting disorder that I developed. The doctor who administered the tests said that it is likely that my clotting issues were brought on by the manufactured hormones used in Mirena (IUD). It appears that the clotting has ceased since I had Mirena removed. I'll be writing more about this in a future post.

I love being able to read back through my blog from beginning to now -- it reminds me of how far I have come and how much I have overcome and, most of all, how much I have to be thankful for. The past year hasn't been easy by any stretch of the word, but it has taught me a lot about myself, and about life and the people in it.

Every morning that I can wake up and live is a gift. And every small step towards getting better is a blessing. The bad news may have come hard and fast one year ago this month, but within the past two months -- I've started to get some good news, too.

Here is a breakdown of all of my medical services [except for dental], in alphabetical order, for the past year [with the most important one of all in bold letters]:


That's a long list, right? It costs me an arm and two legs :-)

"For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline." -- 2 Timothy 1:7


The Middle School Blues


He's growing up. My oldest son, who turns 12 tomorrow, is now a middle school student.

I don't know why his first day of middle school affected me so much, but I really shouldn't be surprised that it did.

Just seven short years ago, he was starting Kindergarten. He was just a tiny little guy with no clue about what school was or why he needed to attend. His book bag was half his weight and his shoes were always untied. He was shy. He asked a lot of questions.

On that first day, his teacher had to practically pry him off of my leg.

It was tough, but an education isn't something a parent can forfeit for their child just because it hurts too bad to let them go.

I thought that was going to be as difficult as it would get.

Being a parent has many arduous moments. From the moment I first held him in my arms at the young age of 21, I knew that my life had changed forever. Instantly, my sole purpose in life was to protect him, to love him, and to provide for him. But I knew that providing for him, meant that I couldn't hold him in my arms forever.

Providing for our children, includes an education. It means that each September, I'll send him down a crowded hallway into a sea of mostly strangers and some friends, and I'll help him to move up the grade ladder.

He'll have just as many years to go now, as he has completed. He's halfway through the gauntlet. And this year, more than ever, I find myself wanting time to stand still. I want the next seven years to go by much slower than the past seven years did.

Since there were many scheduling errors at his middle school orientation he, and many other students, weren't able to meet their teachers and see where their classes would be. So on the first day of sixth grade, the school invited parents to come with students until 15 minutes into their first period class.

As I sat in the filled auditorium with my son, I wondered if I should have let go earlier. Maybe I should have dropped him off. I'm confident that he would have figured it all out on his own. But I was there, and I wanted to be.

The school he goes to is for students from all over the city, so he was being introduced to completely new peers in a completely different environment. One of his friends from elementary school walked by and sat a few rows ahead of us.

"Do you want to go sit with him?" I asked my son.

"Yea," he said. "Do you mind?"

"Of course I don't mind," I replied [and I actually meant it].

He grabbed his book bag [which was still half his weight] and moved to sit with his friend. I leaned forward just a bit to be nosy and noticed them sharing schedules.

It was in that exact moment that I started to tear up. My lip quivered a bit, because I was trying to "be cool" and hold back the tears. I took a deep breath and realized that I was being emotional, not because I was worried for my son, but because it was still so hard for me to let him go.

The Vice-principal asked the homeroom teachers to come to the front of the auditorium and call out the names of their students to be dismissed with them. Just as I pulled myself together, my son turned around to me and mouthed, "Don't leave yet."

Great, I had just gathered my composure and there he went, melting my heart all over again. I felt so loved in that moment, and all of my doubts about being there went away.

I fell in line behind his class with a few other parents and we walked down the hall. From quick conversations I had with the other parents, I knew that this was very difficult for them, too.

I sat in his class for a few minutes and then the students were excused to the hallway to try out their lockers for the first time. I explained the combination rotation to my son and he got it on his first try. When he opened it up, there was a NASA sticker inside and I took that as an encouraging sign from above.

He walked over to his friend that he was sitting with earlier, and helped him with his locker since he was having trouble opening it.

I watched with pride and smiled behind his back. The bell rang for parents to be dismissed and he quickly turned to me and said, "Bye Mom, I'll see you later," and he disappeared back into his classroom.

I walked back down the hall and out of the school with the rest of the parents. When I got to my car, I shed a tear again. This time, it was because I knew that he was going to thrive in his new environment.

I thought I was going with him, for him. But that was not the case. I was there with him, because I needed to be. I was still learning to let go. I imagine that might always be the case.

Even though he is almost as tall I am -- to me, he is still the sweet infant that I could scoop up, hold with one arm and stare at incessantly; and he is still that tiny little guy that was clinging to me on his first day of kindergarten. I can still look at him and imagine those points in time so clearly.

The difference is that, now, he knows why he goes to school; he knows how to tie his shoes; he knows so many answers to the questions he used to ask; and now he understands that I'm the one who has a hard time letting go.

By the grace of God [and some scheduling mistakes], I was able to be there -- to walk those halls with him on his first day of middle school.

Liebster Blog Award


I was given a Liebster Award today by Jasmyne @ A Fisher's Wife: A Journey of Expecting the Unexpected. Thank you, Jasmyne!

[crowd chants] Speech! Speech!

I would like to thank my parents, my cousin Sarah ... ok, ok, I'm kidding - a speech isn't necessary, but I'm a [goofy] daydreamer.

Liebster Award

Liebster Award
LIEBSTER - The meaning:
A German word meaning sweet, kind, nice, dear, beloved, lovely, valued and welcome.

Here are the guidelines for the Liebster:
  • Post 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Answer 11 questions the presenter has asked you, and give 11 questions to the people you’ve awarded. [Choose 11 deserving bloggers and share your post with them. REMEMBER! The people that you choose should have less than 200 followers]
  • Tell them you’ve chosen them for the award. [No tag backs]
  • Snag this button and proudly display it on your blog!

  • My 11 Random Facts:
    • I have a fear of eating noodles
    • Denise is actually my middle name [but I've always gone by it]
    • I wish I owned a tree farm
    • ... And a mini-horse [named Petunia]
    • I love reality tv shows
    • I always hit snooze at least once
    • I'm having a hard time coming up with 11 of these
    • I am envious of people with a "green thumb"
    • I think I'm the world's best driver
    • I work with people who land rovers on Mars
    • I am obsessed with the flavor grape

    And here are the questions that Jasmyne asked me:

    1. Who is your biggest role model? Why?
    Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. Prior to her first space flight, she was subject to media attention due to her gender. During a press conference, she was asked questions like "Will the flight affect your reproductive organs?" and "Do you weep when things go wrong on the job?" Despite this, and the historical significance of the mission, Ride insisted that she saw herself in only one way — as an astronaut. After she retired, she co-founded a company that inspires young women to work in science fields.

    2. What is your dream car?
    Definitely a Jaguar, I love the body shape and the emblem on the front hood

    3. What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?

    I pee'd on myself in Kindergarten. To this day, I still remember sitting there in horror, hoping no one would notice [but they did & I was sent home in pink cuduroys from the nurses office]

    4. What do you consider your greatest strength?
    My ability to remain thankful through tough times

    5. What are some of your pet peeves?
    Politics on Facebook, spiders who weave their webs where I need to walk, constant complainers, sticky price tags directly on an item

    6. Why did you start blogging?
    When I was diagnosed with Avascular Necrosis, I knew that I had a wild ride ahead of me. And I didn't want to forget any of it. And because I love to write.

    7. What is your favorite accessory?
    Definitely earrings. Can't leave home without them.

    8. Cat lover or dog lover?
    Dog lover. Litter boxes gross me out.

    9. Anything "quirky" about you (double jointed, can say ABCs backwards...?)
    I'm quirky by nature, but I can touch my tongue to my nose, and I laugh almost silently, which sometimes results in a snort or dorky inhalation noise

    10. Do you speak any other languages?
    No, not fluently :(

    11. What is considered a perfect day for you?
    Sleep in and wake up to bacon and pancakes, followed by a sunny afternoon at the lake, beach or pool, and ending with a family movie or game night in my slippers with pizza and an ice-cold coca-cola

    Here are the questions that I am asking you]:

    Tracie @ Maybe I am ... "different"
    Danielle @ The Bozungs
    Angie @ Pretty Hippy Angie
    Katie @ A Mother's Hip Story
    Christine @ Thoughts and Ramblings on Life, Love & Health

    1. Why did you start blogging?
    2. What is your favorite season?
    3. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
    4. Who is your role model?
    5. What is your favorite thing about yourself?
    6. What was the first concert you ever went to?
    7. What is your favorite book?
    8. If you could create one law, what would it be?
    9. What are three words that best describe you?
    10. What is your favorite quote?
    11. If you had to eat one food item for the rest of your life, what would it be?

    You guys are awesome. No really, I mean it.


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