Mickey Wreath: DIY under $5 in 6 Minutes

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Mickey Wreath: DIY under $5 in 6 Minutes

IMG_3261Who loves decorating their Disney resort room?? Me, me, me- I do, I do, I do! Normally when we stay at Disney we opt for the Value resorts. Cheap and adequate. However, for our upcoming vacation we have been blessed with the ability to stay at a Deluxe Villa. We were able to rent DVC points (highly recommend David’s Vacation Club rentals) and book a Savanna View Deluxe Studio at Kidani Village which is within the Animal Kingdom Lodge resort area. So, I say all of this as a long winded introduction to tell you that since we are not at a value, we will not have a window to decorate. At the deluxe resorts they have inside doors… and a balcony out the other end. A balcony with a sliding glass door that we could decorate, but do not want to decorate because we will block our view of the animals roaming around the savanna. Therefore, my conclusion to the dilemma– a wreath.

Since I will not be doing window clings, streamers, signs, etc. I have decided to make a wreath and then I also have a few other things like animal themed paper products, handmade invites for the girls each day to the various restaurants, and zebra designed place mats for our little table in the room where we will be eating breakfast. My wreath cost me $4.50 and took 6 minutes to make. Seriously.

I was able to find a green foam wreath and two twiggy wreaths that were slightly smaller than the green frame at Dollar Tree!! I then headed over to Hobby Lobby to pick up a pack of wooden letters, two little wooden animals, and a yard of fabric- which I only used about a fat quarter of. Don’t forget your Hobby Lobby coupon on your phone during check out 😉

The great thing about this wreath is that once you get the $3 worth of wreath frames at the dollar store… you can pretty much make it however you want. My fabric is themed for Animal Kingdom. I also added the year but you can put whatever you like on there. In fact, the two little wooden animals I got I decided to leave off- looked a little too much like a baby boy nursery wreath.

The fabric I cut into strips then just wrapped around the green frame and then glued down the end. I glued on the numbers. I glued on the ears. My glue on the ears was not as strong as I had hoped so I just secured them on more by wrapping a strip of fabric around the Mickey head and ear… works perfectly. Pumpkin Butt was my helper.

Have fun creating your wreath!

My Sudden Cardiac Death at 30 Years Old…Part Two

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My Sudden Cardiac Death at 30 Years Old…Part Two

You know in the beginning of It’s A Wonderful Life when the voices from heaven are talking? Well, that is what I felt like happened to me. In the movie you hear from heaven “George Bailey, yes, tonight’s his crucial night, we’ll have to send someone down immediately.” On October 4, 2014, it was my crucial day. Even though my heart had the defect my entire life, it was this day when I felt like my 30 years of life were being lived for this moment.

So, for 30 years nothing happened. That is a very long time for something so devastating to not rear its ugly head. So, as I guess you can imagine since I am sure you would do the same, I have spent a lot of time wondering why. Why me? Why there? Why that? Why not then? Why now? Well, I now know these answers, and it all has to do with impact.

When I was a toddler, I knew my family. When I was 7, I knew my family, school friends, and my basketball team. When I was 21, I knew my family, people I grew up with in school, those I played softball and basketball with, people I met in college, and my future husband’s family. At the age of 30, I can add to my list hundreds of people from churches my husband and I have attended. Due to factors unknown to us, we moved a lot. We did not mind change, in fact, it was always exciting to see where we were going next. The only time I was stressed about one of our moves was when we literally moved to tiny Wilmore, KY for Seminary with no money and no house. There are only like 4 houses in all of Wilmore. (Sort of exaggerating, but not by that much lol). Everyone in Seminary needed a house, and being as there was a much higher demand than supply, I was freaked out. However, Hubby secured us a place, 3 weeks before moving 🙂 So, other than that time, moving was fun. Now I see the purpose… it was to reach as many people as possible. It was to grow my “I know her” foundation, my circle of influence. After being the youth pastor’s wife at 5 different churches in my 20’s, I know thousands of people, literally. Even though I may not know of everyone by name, I know they know of me, can picture me, or remember me as Brian’s wife. My story has a way of reaching them, and hopefully, strengthening their already existing faith, or acting as a catalyst for discovery.

My sudden cardiac death has left me in awe. Why? Coincidences. A plan. A purpose. Reasons to unanswered prayers, times of struggle, moments of joy. My life. I have researched and spoke with others about near death experiences. Everyone I hear from has been super concerned with telling others about what they saw when they were dead. That has not been my conviction. I am to tell of my story. My life before. But don’t worry, you will see what I saw. I know some of you were thinking crap, how lame 😉

So 30 years with a life threatening defect. Check out all of the times I should have died, but did not, because it was not my crucial day yet. Check out my life being protected for 30 years. It will blow your mind. For real.

1. I was born in 1984. Technology in the medical field was not where it is today. Open heart surgery on an infant was risky. Even though pulse ox, echos, and EKG’s were not routine, and even though my condition was not discovered right away, God gave me a grandma with super powers. Okay, well not real super powers, but she was a NICU nurse. I saw her weekly, at least. If I presented with having life threatening conditions, she would have been able to pick up on it. Thanks God 🙂

2. I broke my arm when I was 5, had severe constipation when I was 7, busted my forehead, got my fingers smashed in a metal sewer lid, had a red dot electrocuted off of my nose, and had my wisdom teeth pulled. Plenty of times when I was younger to be in a hospital. My vitals were checked every few years because of these incidences. If my heart was failing then, it would have been caught. Thanks God 🙂

3. Now when your baby is born with a heart defect, doctor’s try to wait as long as possible to preform surgery, in attempts for the baby to grow and have more weight. Young hearts are weaker. Well, thanks to Miamisburg, I could not start basketball until I was 7. I wish I could have played at a younger age, and I was upset, but playing ball could have killed me by making my young heart work hard. Thanks God 🙂

4. From age 7 until 21 I played basketball. Daily, while in school. Were our practices easy? Umm, heck no. We ran, and ran and ran. Then we ran some more. My heart never failed me. Thanks God 🙂

5. I have always been a slow runner. I would get yelled at during basketball and softball for running so slow. I appeared lazy since my legs were so long and for some reason I could never learn to stretch them out. When I finally ran fast and stretched my legs at the age of 30, I had a cardiac arrest. Thanks God 🙂

6. I was asked numerous times by the track coaches to run track in high school. I always said no because I did not like running. Now I know why. Thanks God 🙂

7. At different times in my life I have been asked by three different people if I ever would live in Africa. My answer came out as a straight no the first two times. I had no reason why I did not want to. I could not even explain to them why I did not want to. No was my immediate reaction. When Brian asked me, the third time I was asked, I said no. Then I started to think, that is a lot of people to ask me, all within a matter of a few years, to live in Africa. Maybe God wants me in Africa. So I told Brian I would be a missionary with him, but only for a few years. We went through the whole process. Raised money. Had jobs in Ethiopia. Then I was pregnant. No problem to us though, we figured out how to raise a child in Africa. Where we were going was more civilized and spoke English. We met families who had done the same. We decided we could do it. Then, suddenly, we found out the organization would not let me go because it was my first child and there could be complications. We were unable to go to Africa. I got so close to living in Africa, because I thought that was God’s plan for my life. It was not. I was trying to force it. If we went to Africa, I would still be there. I would have had my cardiac arrest there. Even when I tried to change God’s plan, He corrected it. Saying no to Africa twice, and being prepared to go and then turned down, was tough to go through for myself and others. Now I know why. Thanks God 🙂

8. My first pregnancy did have complications, but not until delivery. During my pregnancy I read tons of books, and each one would have a section on c-section deliveries. Every time I read that part, I somehow knew I was going to have one, but not by choice. So I made sure to research it more. While in labor with Chelsea, at the 24 hour mark they gave me oxygen and said it was nothing to be alarmed about. At the 36 hour mark the doctor came flying into my room and said “You and the baby are not doing well. There is a problem with both of your heart rates. You are going to have a c-section. Are you okay with that?” I said “Do I have a choice?”. She responded with no and said it was happening right away. Chelsea and I survived her birth, even though it was not as I had planned. Thanks God 🙂

9. When I was pregnant with Lydia we found out she had a rare syndrome, Heterotaxy. Before birth we knew her stomach was on the wrong side, there was nothing where the stomach should be, she had 2 holes in her heart plus an obstruction at the top of her heart, and she had no splenic function. It was made clear to me I should have an abortion. The hospital where I went for her care before birth was not the best, but it was my only option since we still lived in Wilmore. No one there had seen heterotaxy before. We knew there was a super high possibility Lydia would need at least one surgery right after birth, and then maybe some a few years later. This would be costly. We would not be able to afford her care living on student loans and part time pay from working at a church. Also, due to her lack of spleen, Lydia was not going to be able to attend daycare, therefore, I could not go back to work. So, Brian needed a full time position. He had several interviews, and we found our fit best at First United Methodist Mount Dora. It was in Florida, Brian’s school had a campus in Orlando so he could keep going to school there or finish online. Also in Florida was a top children’s hospital who understood Lydia’s condition, and one who had a level 3 NICU. A year after her birth a report came out about the Kentucky hospital where Lydia would have been born. It discussed them having a high percentage of deaths after heart surgery in infants, and that they were performing surgeries when they were not absolutely necessary. You can read about it here: http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/03/health/kentucky-hearts-hospital/index.html. Lydia did not need to have surgery when she was born, but if we were in Kentucky still there was a good chance they could have given her one, based on what I read from this report. I felt so blessed that God moved us to the Orlando area so Lydia could have the best care. I felt God opened this door for Lydia. Little did I know it was all a part of His plan for me as well. Orlando was where my cardiac arrest needed to happen. Thanks God 🙂

10. I fell at the end of the race, where all of the medical tents are located. I fell on grass. The ambulance was already there. Thanks God 🙂

11. I wanted to do the race by myself. Sometimes it is hard when your spouse works in a church. At this particular time I was always either Brian’s wife or Chelsea and Lydia’s mom, and all of my conversations with people were always centered around my family. I really wanted to do this race by myself. For me. Just me. However, Brian said he wanted to do it as well. I signed him up and told him it was $55 so he cannot back out. Originally I wanted him and the girls to be at the finish line. I was even mad that he insisted on racing with me. For like 6 months I was frustrated because it seemed I could never do something just for me, and… he was not even training for it. However, because he was racing, that meant my girls were at home with their Great Aunt. They would have seen my arrest happen. They did not. Thanks God 🙂

12. Back in the 80’s and 90’s if my heart defect would have been discovered, it would have required surgery. My open heart surgery was incredibly expensive. My parents would have had to pay for it, and back in those days it would have meant drastically altering lifestyles, careers, and possibly the address of our home. Thanks God 🙂

13. My arrest happened right next to a top cardiac hospital. My randomly assigned surgeon was the head of the department. Thanks God 🙂

14. My mom purchased a plane ticket online right away after Brian told her the doctors were saying it was life or death and most likely death. She was flying out of Atlanta.. and got a TSA Pre Check approved stamp on her ticket. She went through a shorter security line and did not have to remove clothing, etc. You only get this if you apply for it (which she did not ) or if you are a part of some border protection thing. You can read about it here : https://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck/what-tsa-precheckR. No one in my family has ever received this and there is no reason she should have, and it made her able to catch her flight. Thanks God 🙂

15. Seven years ago I had a conversation with Brian’s step mom about how much vacation/sick time she has available. She could take off an entire year if need be. She said “You never know what can happen. What if one of you get sick, then I can be there to help out.” Flash-forward, I have a surgery which inhibits me from driving, lifting, and moving for weeks. Mary Ann was not only willing, but had to ability to take off work to come live with us. Thanks God 🙂

16. During my recovery, Brian’s mom, step mom, my sister, my aunt and my parents were all able to come help. Penny already even had a plane ticket and time off work because she was already going to visiting us before this happened. They all survived living in my house together. Everyone’s workplace was very supportive. Our church brought food. My friend took Chelsea on a field trip with a school my daughter did not even go to. One of my favorite babysitters who my daughters know really well and love came to watch them so Brian could go to work wanting nothing in return. My daughters were well taken care of while my husband and I were in a hospital for 12 days and during my 8 week recovery. Thanks God 🙂

I could go on and on about how events in my life have all led me to where I needed to be, at the time I needed to be there. The ones I listed are just what sticks out to me and that deal directly with my heart, but with the perspective I have now, I now know that coincidences are hardly ever just that. My friend in high school lost her mother, and one thing she said to me was that she got so mad at people when they said that everything happens for a reason. While I whole-heartedly believe that is not something you should tell a person who is grieving, I do see how even the most mundane normal events can be a driving factor in what you are supposed to accomplish in your life. Is your life planned out from the beginning… I do not think so. Maybe I guess, but I would not think it. There were times when I moved, thinking that was what I was supposed to do, and God said “Nope, try again” as He put me right back to where I started from. I tried going to Africa after I thought it being brought up a ton was what I was supposed to do. God said “No, you were wrong. Here, have a baby.” Did you know Brian was placed in my life when I was 5. Did I know him then? I do not think so, but I very easily could have spoken to him. His dad volunteered in my Kindergarten class. His sisters went to my school. I sat right next to one of his sisters in third grade. My mom was friends with the same people Brian’s stepmom hung out with. Brian’s dad has a video of a Halloween party they held at their house the year after I moved to Georgia, and all of my friends from school were in it. We grew up playing ball at the same ball field. I met Brian at the age of 21, after living in Georgia for 11 years, because he was friends with my old neighbor when I was ten, I just happened to ride up with my parents as they attended a wedding. Random coincidence?
I know what you are thinking, some things are just coincidences. I totally agree. You go into Publix to get a bottle of Coke, and there is a coupon hanging on it. I think that is a coincidence. I even think it would be hard for someone to pick out what events happened in their life for a purpose, unless you go through something devastating. Something devastating happened to me, and now I see my life in an entirely different way. My hope is not that something devastating happens to everyone, but that people will start to live their only life here on Earth with intention. To know that when something happens that may be heart breaking, a struggle, or not at all what you had planned, it is a part of something bigger and disappointment and sorrow are only temporary.

Now comes the hard part for me to write. I have looked people straight in the eye and lied to them about this, which in most cases was because their were people in the room that I did not want to upset. I cannot vocalize it, when I do, I start shaking. It took me 3 months to tell my husband. It took 2 months for me to believe it. What I know is wonderful, and heart breaking, which is why I sometimes try to talk myself out of it. However, I have been asked numerous times, and I know that for some it can help provide clarity and hope.

So, did I see God? When I was clinically dead for 2-6 minutes, did I see Him? My simple answer is, no. I did not. I can see how He has crazily worked in my life up to this point, but I did not meet Him, see Him, or hear Him. But, I can tell you with 100% certainty that our soul is not our body. When I had my arrest, I did not tell my body to do it. It was the first time I felt like I did not have control of my body. I didn’t even feel anything- no pain. I was completely unaware of what my body was doing. Plus, if my entire life I have had something wrong with my body, how did I not know? My soul, my thinking, it is not my body. I am not my body.

So, what happened when I died. My body stayed here, but my soul did not. Do I remember all of my trip? Maybe. I am not really sure what all I encountered. Just this last week I remembered something that was said to me in the ambulance, so maybe with more time I will remember more things. It is so hard to describe what it is like to remember something you know but don’t know. It is like if you were sitting at your house, right after you parked your car in the garage. Then, without you knowing, your sister comes over and takes your car and leaves it at the store. Thirty minutes later you are just sitting on your couch and you think, ‘oh, yeah my car is at the store.’ You did not know it even moved, but you now know where it is all of the sudden. It is a weird concept, but when I do remember something my eyes shoot open really fast. So, I will tell you what I remember.

Maybe I went through the tunnel everyone talks about. I would not really say it was a tunnel though. It was more of me just moving at super fast speed, while at the same time, I was hearing a humming/buzzing noise. I would say I was moving really fast for about 5 seconds. Once I stopped moving, I was somewhere else. The area I was in was not what I would have pictured Heaven to be like. No streets of gold, no rolling hills with flowers, nothing like what movies portray it as. People were not figures. I did not see bodies. I saw lights. Spirits were orbs of incredibly bright lights. SO STINKIN’ BRIGHT. Like yellow on the outer rim and then went all the way in to a crazy bright white light that almost made an outer tracing of a face, like an upside down U. Nothing here on Earth is anything like that light. I cannot compare it to anything. I even had a brain scan done on me after the coma where they literally put 20 electric nodes on my head and flashed lights directly into my brain and this was brighter than that. So, in front of me was a person/orb. I know who she is. She spoke to me telepathically. I heard her voice. Behind her in the distance were grayish ovals inside of a bright yellow light, but not as bright as the light in front of me. Then I felt the presence of someone else I knew coming towards me from the right, another very bright yellow but never got close enough to me to see the white. No one said who it was, I just knew. Then, as that person was coming up to me, my eyes shoot open and I am back here. I was there for a very short time. Nothing happened during my time in the coma, this happened right after I collapsed on the field. The AED brought me back very abruptly, I almost felt as if those in heaven were shocked at my departure since it was in the middle of someone else coming to see me. I also feel like my trip prepared me for when I awoke from my coma. I did not freak out in the hospital, I did not ask why I was there or what happened. I already knew. When I saw my mom walk in the hospital room, without anyone telling me that she was coming or why she was coming, I already knew.

My hesitance for sharing this with people is due to the fact I know that not everyone I know is a Christian. I do not want people to get upset with who it was I saw and who it was I did not see there. I do not want people to get upset that they might not make it to the place I went to. It is also unfortunate timing in being that I have an incredible story to share with others about the power of God, and just a few months ago the boy who claimed he went to heaven says he was lying. Whether or not you believe what I saw, no one can deny the ‘coincidences’ that have made up my life. Moreover, my journey to heaven, if you choose to not believe me, should not diminish the miracles God works in our lives every day. I want people to take away a few things:
1. God works in your life all of the time and it will make sense to you when you die.
2. Time is relative to where you are and it boggles my mind. I feel that in the grand scheme of things, our time on Earth is crazy short in the life of your soul.
3. Our bodies are just things to house our soul.
4. I am not afraid to die.
5. Being kind and showing love are super important.
6. Go see the world. Travel. Have experiences. Be outside.
7. Things do not matter, money does not matter. Nothing goes with you when you die.
8. When you are baptized, how you are baptized, sinners/debtors/trespassers, communion style, traditional, contemporary, counting and not counting salvation numbers, etc… it does not matter.
9. Go to church. Be involved in church. BE THE CHURCH.

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Spring Time at The Lawson Residence

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We have been keeping busy…

Our Wreath

A few weeks ago Turkey Head and I embarked on our first ‘let’s make a wreath’ adventure. It was fun, easy, and way inexpensive. Supplies: foam wreath circle thing ($4 Hobby Lobby), scrap bundle of fabric ($4 Hobby Lobby), wooden letter already painted ($4 Hobby Lobby), glue gun and glue. Paying full price $14 after tax, but can get it down to $7 if you use your Hobby Lobby coupons in a smarty pants sort of way 🙂

To make it, all we did was cut the fabric into strips, then tied them on to the foam circle, just with one around and through– like the beginning of tying your shoes. The pack of scraps came with enough for me to do at least one more wreath! Holla!

After the strips I just lined up where I wanted the L to go and put hot glue on the back, then pressed in to place. We have had it on our front door for about 3 weeks through heat, rainstorms, and wind and it has held up nicely.

Soccer

Turkey Head has begun her Friday Night Soccer Spring season! She is becoming more aggressive as she goes after the ball and has already scored a goal.

Gardening

Shout out to the Bardoni clan for getting us our first set of potables for our garden! So far we have achieved growing cilantro. I chose that one as my practice one in a small pot, and now we just got done planting the rest of them in our garden box. We have tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, cucumbers, and herbs. We are crossing our fingers we grow something edible 😉

Seaworld

With Turkey Head’s new school schedule we have been trying to fit things in where and when we can, and a few weeks ago we were able to go to Sea World for the afternoon. As part of their 50th anniversary celebration they have these very brightly dressed people walking around handing out things randomly. These two people stopped and were just talking to us and suddenly pulled out a stuffed penguin for Pumpkin Butt and a Shamu Bubble Gun for Turkey Head. So super nice, and like $30 worth of free loveliness.

Disney World

Each time we go I feel like it is more fun than the last time, partly because Pumpkin Butt is growing up so much and starting to love lots of things there. We also do not get to go as much since school has started and since Hubby decided to work every weekend, so we really try to make the most of it every time we go 🙂 Want a tip? If you stand at the very start of the parade route on main street by the fire station (across from the barber shop), the characters will always look right at you as they are coming out of the gate, even more so because no one is allowed to stand on the other side. Each character interacted with my girls, waving, blowing kisses, and talking to them.

In the next set of pics you can see the girls sitting on a bench. If you can find where the characters go to take their breaks (they are easy to find once you see them walking from their meet and greet spot), you can wait for them to come back out (about 3 minutes) and even though you cannot get pics or autographs, they will wave and high five your kids. Bonus, your kids get to see them without you having to wait in a long line. Here we were by the bathrooms by the Chesire Cafe which is where Pooh and Tigger walk to for their breaks.

Pretty fun Spring so far… and yay for Spring Break! I did not realize how nice it would be for me having Turkey Head on break. TTYL

My Sudden Cardiac Death at 30 Years Old…Part One

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My Sudden Cardiac Death at 30 Years Old…Part One

On October 4, 2014 my husband Brian and I ran the Happy Haunted 5K at Disney World. I had been training since the previous February and was running a 5K two to 3 times a week, half of those times pushing a double stroller. So, was I worried about finishing, nope. Was I nervous, nope. Was I excited? Of course! I could not wait to see the Headless Horseman at the start of the race, all of the characters along the trail, and most importantly, to receive my medal!!

Brian and I were in Corral D– I think. There were TONS of port-a-potties behind us. Like tons. So. many. toilets. They had a stage at the start of the race with two DJ’s talking and playing music. We had to wait about 20 minutes before it was our time to start so we took selfies and set up our running apps. During the race we missed a lot of the characters 😦 I guess they were on break every time we came up to one, and we did not feel like waiting in line. There were 2 water stops, both times we drank a cup and kept on chugging along. We were making normal time for me and I was happy Hubby was keeping up 😉 During a stretch in the back of the race I decided to take longer strides. I have always been a crazy slow runner, especially considering how long my legs are. While taking the longer strides I ran the fastest I have ever ran. It felt AMAZING! I was going SO fast. However, I was leaving Brian behind, so I slowed down. Close to the end of the race we stopped and Brian took a pic of me in front of this cool haunted ghost display. We were running in the outfield of a baseball field, and we came to where two fields meet. I remember asking Brian why they would stop the fence in between 2 fields. He commented back that it does not matter when it is that far behind the dug out. It is at this point where my memory becomes dicey.

The race was about 4 more minutes long. We turned a corner to the right, but I only know this because I remember seeing it in front of me, I do not remember doing it. But I did. For a little bit we ran on concrete and I remember seeing my shoes hit the concrete. I also remember seeing a small boy holding a sign for his mom standing next to his dad. Then I did more running that I do not remember. I recall crossing the finish line (making my average running time for a 5K based on the digital clock they had), looking at my phone, and pressing the STOP button on the app. It was not stopping. I got frustrated and kept pressing it. (Who knows what I was really pressing, obviously my finger was not doing what I was thinking it was doing). Brian was two steps ahead of me on my right. I reached out to tap his shoulder to tell him my phone was stupid. Then.. nothing.

After reaching for Brian I just kept falling. I have no recollect of what was happening to my physical body at this point so I will tell the story from the information I have heard from others.

My body went into a seizure like state. My eyes rolled back into my head and I was drooling. EMS volunteers were already at my side since it happened at the finish line. Once they realized I do not normally have seizures, and that what they were doing was not helping, someone ran to get an AED. Brian was in shock. CPR was given to me. They put up black trash bags all around me so those crossing the finish line could not see. Brian said I was purple. Really purple, and freezing. He is amazed at how quickly my body went so purple and so cold that fast. He was holding my ankle while they were working on me. I guess at some point, maybe when they went to get the AED, or right before, the nurse was trying to find my pulse and could not. Brian remembers the lady looking at him, and without saying anything, he knew I was gone. My husband watched me die.

I was clinically dead for 2-6 minutes. No breathing. No pulse. I had a Cardiac Arrest.

Brian was still holding my ankle when they placed the AED on me and determined I was in a shockable state. He told God to bring me back. They yelled “clear.” He took his hand off of me. I am not sure if I was shocked twice then, or just once. My eyes shot open, I sat straight up, then fell back down.

I was loaded into an ambulance and taken to Celebration Hospital. I was placed in a coma. They were keeping my body cold with ice packs in an attempt to preserve my brain. It was at this hospital that EMS were giving Brian their condolences, and where he was told it was life or death, and it was most likely death.

While my mom was boarding a plane to come see me, I was being loaded into a helicopter to be taken to Orlando South. Still in a coma. Brian kissed me and then had to drive to the next hospital. Shout-out to Pastor Kim for helping Brian get his car and guiding him to the hospital 🙂

The doctor at Orlando South decided to reverse the coma. As I was waking up I remember hearing Brian’s voice in the hallway as he talked to a doctor. I turned my head to look at him, then closed my eyes. He saw me do this and at this moment was when he felt like I was going to be okay, even though he was unsure of what damage I may have, he at least knew I would make it. Another time I opened my eyes and saw three men in white coats at the foot of my bed talking. Then I closed my eyes.

What happened when I officially came out of my coma? I threw up. A lot. It was gross. I woke up and unknowingly had tubes in my throat. I was trying to throw up, but I kept choking on it because the tubes were in the way. I started grabbing at the tubes. It seemed like FOREVER, but a couple of seconds later the doctor reached their hand up and yanked all of my tubes out. Brian said the nurses were trying to take out the tubes one by one and that the doctor said that was not fast enough. Then I threw up and felt a ton better. Brian came over and said something to me, the doctor asked me if I remembered what I was doing when I fell and what my kids names and ages were. I passed the test 🙂 It was not much longer before I saw my mom come through the door. Church friends came to visit. For the next 2 days I had every test done on me. One was to test for brain damage and they put 20 little nodes on my head and flashed lights at me. I remember I was so, so, so cold the whole time and the light was driving me insane! I could not look at my phone or even have the tv on or the window curtain up. The light hurt so bad… so I kept my eyes closed a lot and slept.

Sunday night I was told I needed an ICD placed in me so that if my heart ever stopped again, it would restart on its own. My personal implanted AED. Brian was not having it. No one had determined the cause of my cardiac arrest, they had just said “well, its not this, this, or this, so it must be this.” I had no history, no medical problems, no blockages, no diabetes… nothing. Brian had some choice words for the cardiologist. However, my results from my CT scan came back at that point and they found the cause 🙂
I had a heart defect. I had had it my whole life. My left circumflex was connected to my pulmonary. It was pulling blood out of the heart and mixing it with the wrong color blood. My heart had grown capillaries around the bottom to send blood to the back of my heart. That was how I had been surviving for 30 years. During my race, too much blood was pulled out of my heart through my stupid little circumflex, to the point where there was no blood left. My heart stopped pumping.

I was allowed to be taken to the cardiac floor and left the Cardiac ICU on Monday. It was here on floor 8 where I waited for my surgery that Thursday. It was a long time to wait. I was the youngest on the floor. A little awkward when most of your nurses are your age. Family and friends came in to keep me company, I even met one of the ladies who helped do CPR. When my tubes were ripped out of my mouth, they took off the side of my tongue and my bottom lip was numb, so I was in too much pain to eat food. My chest also hurt from the CPR compressions. I still had tests done to make sure they had the correct diagnosis. They also took gallons of my blood. By the time I left I had bandaids all over my arms, and I still have scars from the needles.

On Thursday the 9th I had open heart surgery. I was scared out of my mind. My parents were taking care of my girls because my mom asked me where I wanted her to be, and I said with them, even though I am sure she wanted to be with me. On a side note, she did spend the first night with me and slept on what she thought was a super small chair… we learned a few days later that it pulls out to be a couch. Haha. I had Brian, my sister Jaclyn, and Pastor Kim with me before I went into surgery. Our friend Jimmy was also there, in fact, they interrupted his softball story to tell me it was time for surgery. I went to the bathroom. Stood and looked in the mirror to burn into my memory one last time what I looked like without 4 scars on my chest. Prayed. Then was wheeled down to prep. I was told during surgery was when the surgeon would decide if I was going to have a bypass from my leg or if they would just snip off my circumflex. In the end, he just ligated my circumflex so it would not pull blood away from my heart.

In the operating room I do not remember much. They wheeled me in. Asked me something. Two ladies said they were going to put a big balloon around my body to keep me warm. I looked to my right and saw two girls counting all of the tools. There were hundreds it seemed. Just as they were blowing up the balloon around me they put a mask on my face, then I was gone. A little disappointed that I did not get to be in the balloon of warmth, well, at least realize I was in it 😦

Recovery sucked. I was intubated again. The night nurse I had the first night was an older guy. I hit him. Many times. Like punching him and telling him to get off of me. He even called in some other woman to help him. She was like a giant. I felt like I was in jail and I got in trouble and so the tough guard had to come in and tell me to knock it off. I apologized the next morning. He said I was the only one to ever apologize for hitting him 🙂

The recovery room was tiny. The first night no one stayed with me but I know my parents came to visit and that their hands were so cold and it felt really good so I made them put their hands on my arm and forehead. I remember waking up and hearing the surgeon come by, he said he was still pumped up from my surgery and he wished he would have taken more pictures. I had the surgeon and the cardiologist both tell me they have never seen my defect before in 30 years of practicing. I am hoping to make it in some sort of medical journal 😉 The lady the next night let Brian spend the night next to me, but I barely remember that. I do not know how many days I was in recovery. I had one nurse who was pregnant. She was really nice. Then the last day I was in there I know I had a male nurse watching me. However, Jaclyn and Brian were there rubbing my feet the whole time so he did not have to do much. An elderly man came out of surgery and was placed in the room next to me and was not doing well. My nurse was responsible for me and the other man, and he focused on the other man most of the day. I know this nurse kept ordering me food because I was not allowed to leave recovery until I ate stuff. My tongue was still raw and I did not want to eat. Plus I was tired. So tired. I would try eating eggs and I was literally falling asleep before I finished chewing. I would wake up with egg in my mouth still. I was so exhausted. The nurse also just ordered me food, and did not ask what I wanted. He ordered normal food, but I am picky. Thanks but no thanks for the coffee and oatmeal.

I was living off of pain meds and IV fluid. Brian broke me out of the recovery unit. He would stand up and go to the door and give the lady in charge the stink eye. We had a room back on floor 8 with the lake view, and the head lady gave it to someone else. So then Brian had words to go along with his stink eye. Then, miraculously a room with a water view came available.

I was in so much pain. I stayed at the hospital for 12 days total. They did an EP study and used chemicals to push my heart as hard as it could go to make sure my heart would correct my abnormal beats, and it did, thus proving it was my defect that caused my arrest, not an electrical problem in my heart. I also had a cardiac MRI. Horrible. I hope no one EVER has to get one of those. My recovery included blood draws every 6 hours, lots of food, and walking. I was out of breath after walking a step. It was such a weird feeling being exhausted but not having done anything to exert myself. My nurses were great and some I had before and after surgery. Those I had before, but not after, came by to say hi and see how I was.

I was unable to drive for 6 weeks and I could not pick my kids up for close to 3 months. I still have pains in my chest 4 months after surgery. My vocal chords had damage from the intubations and every now and then I feel like I get punched in the throat, but my voice is sounding almost normal now. Overall, I am doing well. I am afraid to really do stuff by myself or to be with the girls alone. My sudden cardiac death left me with no brain damage, no memory loss, no broken bones, no internal damages, basically nothing is wrong with me, just mental/emotional stuff to deal with for myself and the hubby.

In part 2 I will discuss what it felt like to die and how I saw God through this ordeal. All of this is something I can barely vocalize. It has taken me 4 months to be able to type it all out, albeit I was shaking the entire time and periodically sobbing. However, I feel as though my story is one that needs to be told, especially the second part. Things to take away from this post:

God is real.
AEDs work and should be in every establishment.
Good samaritans do exist.
My family is strong.
My husband did the unimaginable.

Peace out Homeslices 🙂

Turkey Head Joins the Heart Defect Club

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Turkey Head Joins the Heart Defect Club

Ever since I found out about Pumpkin Butt’s Heterotaxy diagnosis, I have been stressing over Turkey Head’s anatomy. Well, you cannot just walk into a doctor’s office and ask for a referral to a specialist… so I have had to be creative on how to ‘see’ inside her little body. When her constipation was severe, one of her doctor’s said it could be Hirchsprungs. She then went on to say, “But to check for that we would need x-rays and then maybe a biopsy.” As soon as she was mid sentence at x-ray, I said ” Ok, what do I need to do to get her an x-ray?”. During her x-ray for her poopy issue they did a whole abdomen scan.. so I snuck over to the screen and asked if they could zoom out so I could see her lungs. They looked at me like I was crazy.. I think they thought I believed it was possible for her poop to reach her lungs…lol. So I saw that she did not have any form of situs inversus and that her organs were in the correct places. Yay! So at this point I knew she did not have heterotaxy, but was still a tad concerned about her heart. I sort of tried talking myself into believing hers was fine since she did not have anything wrong with her organs and since hubby and I have healthy hearts.

Fast forward a year and I discover my heart is not so healthy. After my Sudden Cardiac Death I had a TON of procedures done on me. Really, a ton. All of the procedures. Seriously. The only cause of my heart stopping was a heart defect I have had since birth. Just like Pumpkin Butt, my body grew a vein in the wrong place. Pumpkin Butt’s defect does not cause blue and red blood to mix, but mine did. It was pretty major. So not only did my cardiologist say I needed to get my kiddos checked, but now I had it in the back of my mind how I could live 30 years with a heart defect and not know it, so Turkey Head must have one too.

So Pumpkin Butt’s 2 year check up now turned into a personal mission to get a referral to cardio for Turkey Head. It was not even her appointment lol. I let them do everything for Pumpkin Butt since she is complicated, and they heard a murmur. Perfect opportunity to bring up cardio. So I explained how I had open heart surgery and my cardio told me to get my kids checked. Well, we already knew Pumpkin’s heart, and my 4 year old seemed perfectly fine so it took convincing to get that referral. She kept saying it was not necessary, but was being hesitant. It was a no. Then she had time to think about it (I guess) while we were all quiet as she checked Pumpkin’s eyes, ears, and nose. When she turned the lights back on, she said “I will give you the referral for both…after what you have been through. And besides, I have given referrals for more minor things.” Yay!! Off to cardio we go.

 

I LOVE Pumpkin’s cardiologist at Arnold Palmer and they took Turkey Head’s insurance so I was super happy. Her cardio said he did not hear Pumpkin’s murmur and her pulse ox was at 100 and blood pressure was fine. He once again just stressed how she needs to keep seeing infectious diseases and that sepsis is real and deadly. He was not super convinced Turkey Head needed an echo.. but I told him about me and since I had issues and her sister has Heterotaxy he said that was grounds for an echo for sure. Turkey Head’s blood pressure and pulse ox were low at first, but they redid them and they were then normal… I am hoping it was because she was moving around and talking the first time :/ Still, it gave me a knot in my tummy. Off to the echo room.

 

Not to brag, but I know my way around an echo screen. The girls watched Frozen as the echo was preformed and during it I was looking over the tech’s shoulder. Seeing 4 normal sized chambers right away eased me, but I knew if she had a major defect that she would have showed symptoms by now. He did his normal measuring of everything, but then he went up to her neck and I saw a tube on the screen. He was measuring the tube. The only tube I could think of was her esophagus. I was not able to know then though because techs are not allowed to tell you anything. You have to wait for the doctor. So I was nervous.

Overall, Turkey Head’s heart also grew a vein somewhere incorrectly. The artery at the top of her aortic arch is missing and has been repositioned near the lower part of her heart. The artery takes blood to her right arm. It crosses over her heart and her esophagus. The tech was measuring the esophagus to make sure the artery was not putting pressure on it, and it was not. Her defect is not causing her any issues. The cardiologist was amazed at how all 3 of us have such very rare defects. At this point I am fairly certain that Pumpkin Butt’s heterotaxy came from a gene from me and it was not random. Hubby said I should have been wearing a sign when we met that said I had mutated genes. lol. Love him. Love my cute mutations 😉

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Turkey Head’s First Day of School… Ever! With Pics :)

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Turkey Head’s First Day of School… Ever! With Pics :)

Yesterday marked my oldest daughter’s very first day of school! She has been really excited to start school for a while now. While I was excited for her, I was a little sad. The great thing about her Preschool is that it lasts for 3 hours, which is how long she is in Sunday school at church- so it is not that different for me, except that it is EVERY DAY! That is the thing she has to get used to as well. Most of her activities are weekly. Well, all of them have been up to this point. She thinks it is awesome that she goes everyday, but two days in a row now she has asked me if she goes tomorrow.

She attends the Presbyterian Preschool in downtown Mount Dora. Her class size is 10 and her teacher is fabulous! She sits at a table with another girl and 3 boys. I picked her up today and just since yesterday they have completed a sight word book for “I Can”, attended chapel, did a science experiment and created a hypothesis for something dissolving, cut out food from a magazine to make a collage of what is healthy and unhealthy, played Peter Pan at recess where she got to be Wendy, and played in a sensory box.. and those are just the things I know of! She gets a snack every day. Yesterday was Teddy Grahams, but my crazy daughter does not like them so she opted for white crackers. (Her words, not mine lol). Today was applesauce and lemonade. She does not like lemonade so she got bathroom water. (Once again, her words, lol, and that is not as bad as it sounds. It is normal clean water. Lol.)

She has a behavior cup with pom pom balls. If she misbehaves she loses a pom pom. She has kept all three both days. There are a handful of kids she knows from play group, the library, church and soccer, but she made new friends right away. The place is very friendly, clean, and safe– I already want Pumpkin Butt to go there 😉 Never too early to be placed on the waiting list!

I have some pictures below, some of which are mine and some of them are from her school’s Facebook page that they update daily. Did I say I love this place yet? Cause I do!

Our Crayon Ornaments Rocked!

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This year we made ornaments with some broken crayon pieces. They turned out fabulous. We only made six, but my girls could have sat there forever choosing the colors and watching Mommy make them.

Supplies

1. Glass ball ornaments. Glass, not plastic…plastic melts 🙂

2. Hair dryer

3. Crayola crayons. They do not need to be new, but they need to be good quality.

4. Ribbon

5. Gardening glove…or something thick for your hand because the heating gets hot.

First, we gathered everything and then I had the girls choose three crayons they thought were pretty. We then broke off a piece and took the wrapper off and placed them in the ball.

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Next up I put the top back on the ball. Then I heated the ornament up with the hair dryer as I moved the ball around. The crayons begin to melt super fast. Once you have your desired design, take off the top and remove the crayons. I held the ornament upside down and placed the heat directly by the crayon so it fell down to the hole.

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Finally, we tied ribbons to them. I let the girls pick the colors of crayons and ribbon. Not always choices I would have made, but it was a good learning experience to see what worked well together and what was, well…ugly 😉

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It kept my kids, 2 & 4, entertained for an hour and we can keep them until they break. The activity was super cheap as well. I got the glass ornaments at Michaels, and they were 50% off…spent $3.99. I had the ribbon and crayons at home already, but you can get everything you would need for under $10.

Overall, I give this project an A!

**Warning: Adults need to do the heating…it gets extremely hot**