Monday, March 28, 2011

Happy Doing Nothing At All

Sometimes the times that pull me through are the nights I sit on my sofa, eating chicken taco salad and watching Celebrity Apprentice with my husband. Followed by some much-needed, therapeutic cuddling (which can only last about 20 minutes because he's got to get back to studying for the CPA exam). Really, sometimes it's nights like these I cling to just to help me make it through the days.

Friday, March 18, 2011

What a Pain in the...Bowel.

I'm so grateful this man is okay. Some of you may know that my ever-healthy-never-get-sick-in-my-life-because-I-have mutant-healthy-Mansfield-genes of a husband has really been fighting the health battle for a couple months. Near the end of January Mike started complaining a couple nights of some mild heart burn or upset stomach. Being the ever-helpful wife I told him to take some Tums. I know. Hey, I'm not an MD people. However, it seemed to slowly be getting worse as time went on. Sharp pain that seemed to wax and wane on his left side right under his rib cage. I was wise enough to tell Mike he should be checked out since his digestion has been off ever since his mission but, of course, he dismissed that and toughed it out. Then one Sunday night after eating Mike started having real pain. It got intense enough he agreed to go to an after-hours medical care. They ran an x-ray of his stomach and said there was no blockage, nothing looked abnormal and they gave him some OTC medications (Ya, I'm not sure if that guy was a real MD either).

We went home and the next morning he went to work. Yet that night when Mike came home he said he was going to lay down. He didn't feel well again. I was in the other room when I heard him. I could hear him cry out and when I came into the bedroom he was writhing around on the bed, sweating and clearly in a ridiculous amount of pain. I've never seen him experience any real pain and I gotta tell you... it scared me silly. I helped him to the car and drove the very short (what felt like forever) drive to the E.R. That visit ended up in a 3 day hospital stay. They ran a CT scan, admitted Mike for small bowel obstruction, inserted a tube through his throat and into his stomach and left it there for 2 days sucking all sorts of horrible looking things out of his stomach. Ugh, even thinking about it makes my heart hurt for him. He was so deflated, so tired and so uncomfortable. Morphine. Dilaudid. Morphine. Dilaudid. Bleh. They released him after a few days and told him to take it easy, starting with soft foods.

We did just like they said. Honest. Yet again tho, only days later and Mike had pain again. We called the doctor and he said just to do what made him feel good. Okay. Well as long as he didn't eat, he didn't have pain. Great! Uh... except that's a pretty essential human function. Mike minus 15 lbs later... we got in with a GI specialist and then the testing frenzy started again. Barium swallow follow-through, colonoscopy, endoscopy, biopsies and blood work. If you've ever had some of these you know about all the fun preparation. Mike and Miralax are best buds now. :)

So I'm sure you're all wondering what was the problem- what was the answer from all those tests? Well, we were too. Unfortunately, they didn't have a lot of answers. I felt like we were eliminating serious problems like Crohn's disease and cancer just to have them be put back on the list again later. All we could gather was something did look abnormal about his small bowel but the tests couldn't reach or see what exactly that problem was. Finally, the GI doc ordered a capsule endoscopy where Mike swallowed a pill that took pictures as it traveled through his body. This confirmed and pinpointed the abnormal area of the small bowel. On February 23, Mike was in LDS hospital for "exploratory surgery with the possibility of small bowel resection". Oh, those hours of waiting. It's a really weird experience waiting for your husband in surgery not sure what they're doing, what they're seeing, what could go wrong, what could change after that day. It's just an interesting place to be-- waiting with no control.

Anyway (and finally the conclusion!), they removed 8-10 inches of Mike's small bowel and re-sectioned the healthy portions together. On top of that, our awesome Dr. McKinlay did it all laparoscopically leaving Mike with four small (about 1 inch) incisions on his stomach. The recovery was actually much better than I expected and he's back to working and eating Bacon Westoner's (yuck). I tease but really could not be more thankful to my Heavenly Father for allowing my husband to be healthy enough to eat ground-up cow flesh (I don't eat red meat, people). Pathology came back negative for Crohn's and cancer (insert huge weight lifted off my chest) and although the doctor and his colleagues are a little stumped about what caused that abnormal section, they don't predict he'll have problems in the future. What a blessing- for his quick recovery, for a relatively short time of poor health, for the amazing family and friends who fasted, prayed, brought meals and always for the tender mercies of the Lord.

I can't say it enough... he's my world. There's no getting out of it...he's stuck with me for life!

(I know these pictures don't have much relevance to my post. I just don't like posting without pictures and Mike absolutely refused that any pictures be taken of him in any of the hospital stays. Which coincidentally, I may or may not have some awesome video of him coming out of anesthesia...that I vowed not to post.)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Humanitarian Mission 2011

It was a quiet Friday night in January when my phone got a text. I heard it but kept going about my business. One text. Two texts. Three texts. Email notification. What on earth was going on?
It was my professor at USU and students from my program all texting and sending out emails. An opportunity had just opened to go on our annual audiology humanitarian mission with the Starkey Hearing Foundation. So why the rush? My professor had just found out minutes before, we had hours to decide if we were in or out and we were leaving in less than a week. I am not a good decision maker and certainly not under pressure. Mike told me it was a once in a lifetime experience and I'd regret it if I let the rush back me out. So I said yes and a whirlwind later...
We were in Toluca, Mexico. I must say that when you travel with the Starkey CEO Bill Austin you stay in much nicer places than we've ever stayed as a USU group. Yes, unlike the Dominican Republic, I couldn't see the sky through the motel ceiling, we had AC, no lizards in the room, stinging ants in your bag, alarming stains all over the bed or occasional fear for your life. :)

We spent 5 days fitting hearing aids in Toluca and 1 day in Mexico City. 6,000 hearing aids for 3,000 people. I've never done anything quite like that. It was an amazing and exhausting mission. I think these few pictures share the experience for me.

It's amazing that some of these children had only heard firework before and now they were hearing their parent's voices. It's incredible.

This little guy's name was Diego and he loved Molly. I didn't think Molly was going to leave Mexico without the little man. I can't blame her- he was the sweetest thing I've ever seen. He clung to her blonde hair for at least 20 minutes, with his head right next to hers, wouldn't let go. Aww, melts my heart.

The Molly and Megan team (it was much more fun to work together), our patient and his mother and our awesome translator (far left).

No words needed for this picture. His face says it all.

My friend and coincidentally, boss, Molly. We were roomies the whole time- it's a good thing I love her otherwise that whole experience with your boss could have been awkward, right?

You can't help feeling joy in this work.

Our USU team.

What a blessing in my life that I could go and serve the Mexican people. It's always when you go on these missions that you feel like you got more out of the experience than anyone else did. I appreciate these amazing experiences in my life and thank the Lord for the blessed life I am privileged to live.

New Addition

Because she deserves an introduction...

London Allie was born January 30th close to 5:00 p.m. Weighing in at 7 lbs 1 oz. and 20 inches long. She is ridiculously cute with a head of dark hair. I love her already and we are so grateful mom and baby were healthy and rest of family was ecstatic!