Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Ooooooh!  I'm on a roll!  Ok, something is definitely up with me.  My sister asked if I could be pregnant.  Before you all get excited and call your grandmothers and cousins twice removed to share the news of my miraculous conception, I'm not.  Period.  Literally.  It's just that, well, I'm nesting.  I don't know what it is.  My theory is I want to take advantage of the free slave labor before my slaves errr, children, go back to school.

The other night I couldn't sleep at all.  I mean painfully at all.  I decided the best way to combat that was to get up and move around and what better way to do that then clean out my midnight...12 a.m....  So, I got started.  Now, before I go any further, I'm really not a "dirty" person.  My mama raised me with a white glove.  It's just the 4 younger boogers aren't.  Frankly they haven't quite got accustomed to their mama's white glove!  My mom used to say, "I couldn't believe, when you kids were young, I had to teach you EVERYTHING!"  No truer words were ever spoken.  There is not an intuitive clean bone in their bodies.  So, enter the refrigerator.  If mom isn't cleaning it, it doesn't get clean.  To begin with, I literally had to sweep it out!  Have you ever had to sweep out a refrigerator?  Have you ever heard of such a thing?  I probably should have used the vacuum, but I didn't want to wake my sleeping angels (gag).  There was probably a year's worth of bread crumbs in the bottom.  I found raisins in the bottom too.  Who on earth dropped raisins in the fridge?  Why were raisins even near the fridge?  That's when I realized they weren't raisins but probably year old grapes that had dried up.  Oh the story they must be telling.  (thru their grape vine...grape vine?  get it?) Next I washed and bleached everything.  The next morning the kids were so amazed, #3 took a picture and posted it on facebook!  What a smart alec.

The next day I cleaned out the bathroom closet.  Inside lurked things like a bowl of half used pink hair dye. (hmmm wonder who used that)  There were also toys used in 1998!  (Well not really. We didn't live here then but it sounds more dramatic if I say there are toys in there 15 years old.)  In addition, there were the expired bottles of medicine, empty bandaid rappers, and yes, used q-tips.  Before you start worrying about using the bathrooms in my home, it's all clean now!  Totally disinfected!

Today, I'm not sure what I'll be doing.  I suppose I could work on laundry.  Stop laughing.  I know you're laughing.  Fine, since you insist, I won't destroy my reputation by doing laundry.  What are you going to do today?  Plan my baby shower?  Call LasVegas and place a bet on my due date?  How bout doing the Drano test to see what the sex is?  or maybe work on baby names.  I'm partial to Percival Rupert.  What do you think? 
You know, now that I think about it, I'm going back to bed...

Friday, August 2, 2013

My "I'm so sorry I haven't communicated in over 4 months with y'all and I hope you're still interested in my pathetic attempts to blog" Blog

Okay, deep breath. (Me, not you, although you might want to breathe in so as not to get too irritated at me for my lack of communication.  I find it helps in situations like these or moments when my kids are particularly "kid-ish".)  So, the honest truth is that for literally months, I've woken up most days and said, "this is the day, Cheri.  Today, you're going to blog and let your precious few readers know what's been going on in your life.  You owe it to them.  Seriously, get off that patooty and write!" Seriously, that's how I roll myself out of bed each day.  But somewhere between the side of my bed and the kitchen where I get my daily mocha, I lose any inspiration and frankly interest.  So see - no need to put on any guilt trips, I've obviously already taken care of that for you! :-)

BUT today is different!  It's 5:45 a.m. and I'm doing it!  So, again, deep breath, for both of us and let me begin...

Me after 2nd surgery
Where to begin, where to begin... ah, I suppose it would be good to go back to March when I last wrote shortly after my second DBS surgery.  I'm doing wonderfully!  The surgeries were an amazing success and I truly can't believe how my quality of life has changed.  I was worried, and frankly in secret denial, that the surgeries would make much of a difference.  I was overwhelmingly wrong.  How do I sum up what a relief and freedom it is to have regained control of your life?  Blessed.  Truly, I feel incredibly blessed to the fullest meaning of that word.  I think the definition of that word in my life is "not realizing how much I needed to be and yet how undeserving I was but God still relieved my years of limitation".  Yep, that about sums it up.

A month after my 2nd surgery, the second side was turned on and the previous side voltage increased.  Finding that perfect balance hasn't been simple.  It usually takes about an hour and 1/2 appointment of sticking my arms out and doing neurological movement testing over and over again.
My Neurologist, Dr. Rezak and His Nurse, Allison
It's incredibly fascinating to me how the brain works.  If they tweak one of the electrodes too much, my face tightens into a lovely grimace.  While I may ask them to do that in the future to combat the wrinkles that are sure to come from living with children  like mine, currently the effect isn't a pretty one.  For about a month, the voltage was too strong and my right hand would curl up after turning on the stimulator.   During that follow up, I began to feel a bit discouraged they wouldn't be able to find the "sweet spot".  But they did and now, all I feel is a brief 5 second zing and then it's over.  Once turned on, my body feels so calm.  I can't begin to explain what relief that brings.  I'm feeling rested.  Really, truly, rested.  My energy level has increased leaps and bounds!  I wake up most mornings by 6, ready to get up and get started.  I didn't realize how exhausted I'd become.  I suppose when your body is constantly moving and twitching 24 hrs a day, you're bound to become tired.  

So, my prognosis, incredibly positive.  While the stimulator is not a cure, it has suppressed the tremors significantly to the point where most can't see them.  I can hold cups, pour liquids, eat peas, or really anything on a spoon, and not spill.  For awhile, I still automatically let others do those tasks for me, well not the eating of peas, but pouring, holding cups, pitchers, etc.  Then one day I realized, I can do it!  I don't have to drink every cup with a straw and can actually use paper cups! 

And the real victory - I can sing!  One day after an appointment of adjusting, I realized I hadn't even tried.  I think I was afraid to try in case it hadn't worked.  I was in the car and it was my son's birthday.  I practiced singing "Happy Birthday" and I did it!  I couldn't believe it!  Tears started streaming down my cheeks.  As soon as I got home, I went to him and sang!  While I'd like to say, he jumped up and started crying with me saying he didn't need any birthday presents as this was the best gift ever, he pretty much said, "cool."  I suppressed my feelings of disappointment and wondering where I'd gone wrong in raising a man who couldn't empathize with his poor mother who'd been stricken down with affliction and  went off with my Ipod and started singing along with every song I had.  While I couldn't quite match Celine Dion, I definitely gave it my best shot on "I Will Always Love You".  I had the ability to sing a note for a sustained time without changing pitch.   When Steve got home that night, we rejoiced together.  I'm not joining the choir anytime soon, but I can't tell you what it was like. It just felt like such a relief!  It was almost like I'd been mute and I'd been given the gift of speech again.  I praise the Lord for giving me the privilege once again to worship Him through song.

Everyday I wake up praising God for the blessings I've received.  I think back to right after my Gastric Bypass surgery when I wrote about Patagonia.  I'm not booking a trip to South America, but in many ways I've reached my own Patagonia.  I've lost over a 120 lbs and continue to keep it off.  I can jump up from a chair without help, I climb stairs without having to go one step at a time.   I can clean the whole house without having to stop every few steps.  I wear a shirt size 10 times smaller and bottoms 6 times.   I've gone through 2 brain surgeries.  I can sing.  I don't sweat like a glass of ice water in August anymore.  I can get groceries on my own.  The seat belt fits comfortably.  And the list goes on...

One especially cool milestone was the gift of the "New Norma Jeanne" from Steve.  My VW bug Norma Jeanne was destroyed in a flood back in April.  For a few weeks, Steve worked on his lunch breaks to put together a new BEAUTIFUL red Schwinn bike for me.  It's the bike I always wanted.  A retro coaster bike with a basket on the front.  He surprised me one day with it at lunch.  He called and told me to go outside where he was standing with it! 
The New Norma Jeanne!
He even had pretty ribbon on it!  He soooo speaks my love language!  She's a beauty!  I'd like to say I hopped right on and took off, but it was a bit more precarious than I'd thought.  I'd been working out at the Sport Center on the bike there to build up endurance in the event I'd get a bike.  I'd even worked up to 5 miles a day.  BUT, and I can't say BUT enough, riding the stationery bike at the club is NOTHING like riding a retro coaster bike with no gears.  I made Steve look away while I tried to mount it.  I almost fell in the grass several times when I'd try to get going.  Finally, I made it.  I've now been able to go about a mile and 1/2.  The other day I managed to ride all the way back to the driveway without falling.  I was trying to ride up to the house and made it to the front porch where I road straight into a bush and fell into my hostas.  As I lie there laughing at myself, the same child who has the inability to empathize with his mother's affliction comes out and says, "so, how was your ride?"  Smart alec.

A few other things going on in our lives now that summer is 2/3's over, I now have 3 high schoolers.  Ugh.  This past May, my sister Cathy moved back into her old "new" town home after the flood.  It's beautiful.  Don and Kristen, my brother and his wife, have moved back to Wheaton for a year furlough.  We had a great vacation with them in Door County a couple of weeks ago. 
Noah is done with Driver's Ed and is working to complete his 50 hours so he can get his license in February.  Anna's been working as a lifeguard, Ethan's been mastering his Mine Craft skills, and poor Isy just suffered a rotten injury.  Steve was working at Cathy's on the crown molding for her cabinets.  Isy was with and had just walked into the kitchen when a piece fell from the top of the cabinets and hit her foot.  She got a big gash.  When they got home I knew she'd need to have it closed up so I took her to the ER.  When we saw the dr, he said he wanted to x-ray it too.  Sure enough, it had fractured her foot too!  So, now she's in a cast for 4 weeks unable to walk on it until the cut heals.  Poor kid is not one to keep pinned down.  She's enjoying be waited on though and sleeping in our bed until she's well enough to climb up into her loft bed. 

The final news is that I've decided the time has come for me to get a job and stop living like a free loader.  You can pray with me in this new endeavor.  I'm excited to get back into the work force but nervous because it's been 18 years since I've interviewed.  Also, if you know of anyone looking to hire someone part-time, let me know, or them. :D

Wow!  Can you believe how far we've come since a year ago January???  What a change my life has gone through.  Most importantly, thank you.  Thank you for cheering me on and encouraging me through your calls, texts, emails, fb msgs, prayers, hugs, tears, etc, etc, etc!  I am B-L-E-S-S-E-D!!!


ps  Did I mention I have hair again???  I have hair again!!! 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Recovering... slowly

Hi dear friends and family!  So, I made it through surgery #2.  I'd like to say it was uneventful and no complications but alas, it wouldn't be me without some hiccups.  

Wednesday morning we got to the hospital by 5:30 am and had a non-rushed atmosphere in pre-op unlike last time where it all seemed to be happening very fast.  By 7:15, the team arrived to talk to us and Dr. Masnyk marked with me his pen.  He also asked to film me for a talk he was giving and I, of course being the modest flower I am, asked if I'd get paid.  They told me they weren't but I could have 20% of what they got... very generous.

Then we were off.  Next thing I remember was the surgery room and moving onto the table but being sooooo out of it!  I couldn't open my eyes and I felt horrible!  Somehow they managed to get readings but I wasn't cooperating with any sort of alertness and the left side of my face was drooping and I couldn't open my eye without a long delay.  They made the decision to suspend surgery and take me for a CT Scan to check for placement and bleeds on the brain.  After that they would allow me to "sleep it off" in recovery and go back to finish the surgery later in the afternoon.  As you can imagine, we were all relieved to find the CT scan showed everything was where it needed to be.  Dr. Masnyk said there was a little air in the brain, but nothing unusual that wouldn't wear off.  Now I realize I've left myself open to a bevy a jokes.  However, I would ask that if any of you are without sin, you may cast the is it...what do you call it?  You know the hard thingy?  

After sleeping deeply for 3 hours I woke up to a great nurse who let Steve back into recovery.  Unfortunately Steve had a work emergency and needed to take care of it.  Cathy got the kids home from school and situated and came to be with me for the 2nd surgery.  When it was all done, it was 9pm at night.  I came through the implant stage well and must say it's placed in a much more comfortable space.  Amazingly I got to go home the next day.  Praise the Lord for medical science and wonderful doctors.  

I've taken the last few days easy and have slept a lot.  Yesterday I had the VERY unfortunate experience of having a tooth crack in 1/2 around a root canal.  Never a dull moment, I had to be put back on an antibiotic right away.  There's no more vulnerable place than a tooth infection to spread quickly to something like an implanted device.  Because it was Sunday, I've had to put up with a dull ache til tomorrow when I'll have oral surgery to remove the tooth.  yippee.  Now that's how I want to begin my brain surgery recuperation - having a tooth pulled.

So, in the meanwhile I've watched 23 episodes of "My Fair Wedding with David Tutera" on Netflix.  Only 31 more to go.  So far my favorite is the episode with the Wizzard of Oz theme.  Although it's a contender with the Swamp theme.  All I can say is Cath, should the day come, I'm ready!!!

Thank you for your prayers and well wishes.  There is nothing more amazing to see hundreds of responses on facebook to anything relating to me.  I have an amazing family and a wonderful set of friends!



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