Monday, August 30, 2010

Transitions . . .

Today I went, with my mom and my two sweet daughters, to Hannah's open house . . . for SECOND GRADE!! When did this happen? When did I have a second grader? (Ok - I retract that dumb question - I had an infant that has grown into a second grader.)

She was filled with excitement to pick her cubby, find her desk, reunite with friends and show us all around.

As a family, we have recently experienced more transitions than I can count . . . and they continue. Recently, I stepped down from my MOPS leadership position. It was the right decision for my health and for my family but not an easy one to make . . . and one I still don't know how it will play out in the months to come.

I'm starting to realize that in life, we have no idea what is coming down the turnpike for us. Occasionally we can foresee how our decisions or actions may play out (ex: say yes to an engagement - get married) . . . but mostly, we're just along for the ride . . . the path gets bumpy and we are forced to buckle our seat belts a little tighter - sometimes we are surprised with unexpected and welcome blessings (like a friend who is pregnant with her fifth baby and just found out it's finally a little girl in the oven!) and sometimes we aren't prepared for the next chapter (like a family member who was recently diagnosed with cancer out of the blue) . . . but no matter how many amusement park analogies we through at it, life is coming . . . ready or not.

So . . . this week, the Marsh family is on to second grade, on to start another year of coaching and teaching, on to our last year home as a 'preschooler' and on to doctors appointments and breathing treatments. We're unsure how each role will play out . . . but we're in it together . . .  Happy September . . .

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

ERs and Doctors and Drugs . . . OH MY!!

I feel a little bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz . . . the spinning house, the crazy land, the desire to go home . . . I had another visit to the ER this week as my current bout of asthma continues to worsen and Doctors just keep passing me around. (We're on day 31 for anyone keeping track at home - my longest flare up was 32 days long - about to pass the record!) So, my house flew to ER and landed on a hospital bed. My sweet friend Carrie chauffeured me the my favorite "spa and resort" to be shuffled around, doctored and administered more drugs . . . YIPPEE. After five hours or so, I clicked my hospital issued socks (why do they have traction on both sides?! Things that make you go hmmmm) and said "there's no place like home" and what do you know? Home sweet home. I don't like hospitals and I'm not a fan of the "wicked nurses of the west" (although some are very kind!!) but I do want to get well and I'll keep fighting until that happens. In the next three weeks I have boatloads of doctors appointments . . . yippee!! But in the middle of the tornado, stands my beautiful family full of love and support and laughter and tears. And friends continue to pop out of flowers and nests (like little munchkins) to deliver laughter through cards and emails, food for the family, house cleaning help, even sweet books for my sweet girls to enjoy . . . I'll keep following the Yellow Brick Road surrounded by my friends and family who remind me to have "courage, heart and brains" in this adventure.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Movie Escape

Last night I went to see Eat, Pray, Love with a dear sweet friend (who loaned me the book this summer). I enjoyed the book but I adored the movie - no joke - I laughed, I cried and was amazed by the scenery and visual feast of each country.

I have always loved movies - but since my life has narrowed into a virtual vortex of nebbing, the escapism of a movie is a welcome treat. There were so many quotes I wanted to remember to share with you (my blogging community - of which I am so thankful for the encouragement, comments and emails I have received in response), but after a movie full of interesting and thoughtful lines, I gave up on the memorizing and sat back to enjoy the show.

I do recall one moment that made me teary - Julia Roberts said, "I'm not looking for easy - just less hard." I couldn't have phrased it better myself. I know life is hard - that's the reality of it . . . there will always be misunderstandings, bills, frustrations, disappointments - but I want to be taken off the bench and put back into the game . . . I'm tired of sitting and nebbing . . . and just when I think the asthma is turning a corner, I wake up this morning with no voice again and the lowest peak flow reading I've had in weeks . . . AHHHHHH!! (Okay - that's me yelling with no voice as I sit, type and neb).

In conclusion, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually enjoyed the movie more than the book. As beautiful as the authors words were, the movie was even richer . . . now I'm off to put on my "big lady pants" . . . (now you have to go see it to get the joke!!)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Side Effects and Sympathy

In case you have never taken Prednisone, let me educate you . . . it sucks. One website calls it "the best and worst drug there is." It is a last resort and only resort for a lot of conditions - asthma being one. Among a host of other things, prednisone causes weight gain, moon face, irritability and leg cramps. The side effects I have experienced over the last three years of the prednisone roller coaster are to many to count . . . and the amount of medication I have had to take to help lower the side effects are also too many . . . if you want the whole story someday, bring me a McDonald's caramel frappe and come on over!!

Yet, because of this experience, I have a new found sympathy and empathy for those who suffer and have suffered physical and mental conditions outside of their control. At the library this week I was drawn to a book called Mind Race (some of what I feel on prednisone). It was the story of a teenager who dealt with a gamut of issues. I felt myself in some of the pages . . . and felt for someone else on the others.

One section in particular, in reference to his friends during times of struggle spoke to my heart. He says, "when you treat me responsibly, you help me stay healthy. you are my sounding board . . . I turn to you when others flee . . . when I don't like myself and am carrying a ton of guilt. When I can't remember the laughs and love, you are there to remind me how funny I am and that what I'm feeling is only temporary. You remind me that I am not my illness . . . I wouldn't trade 20 ordinary friends for the kinds of friends I've had during my most difficult times. . . I can rely on them to help me ride out the storm."

Thank you to those incredible friends in my life. I don't want to call you out by name but you know who you are. You've visited me in the hospital. You've sent funny cards. You've cried with me. You've listened to my rants. You've made me laugh when I forgot how. You've picked me up when I've been down. You've been a source of strength but haven't been afraid to show your weakness. You've read my blog and told me how much you enjoy it (whether or not you do - thanks for noticing) You've sat and played Skipbo for hours to tell me about your life and listen to mine. You've brought me m&ms or slurpees just to hang out for as long or as little as I can stand it. You've texted me funny jokes while nebbing. You've made this journey worth experiencing even when that feels like the last thing I wanted to do. Thank you my friends . . . and it's true - the friends you have through the trenches of life are ever lasting - and worth more than 20 friends!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Glad Game

Travis is out with a friend today who lives in Oregon and doesn't often come to the area. They started the day with a game of golf and plan on having dinner together and hanging out. I am thrilled for him but this will be one of the first full day mothering alone since my discharge from the hospital. If I am being totally honest, I was nervous. I have relied so heavily on Travis and his strength and parenting and cooking and help . . . but happy he had a day to recharge his much depleted batteries.

So . . . that left the girls and I to our own devices today. I attempted to start the day with a positive attitude and though we've had rocky moments and minor arguments that have needed negotiation, overall we're doing quite well.

Earlier in the week, we went to the library as a family as we all like to read and picked up a few family movies as well. Today we decided to watch Pollyanna . . . the sweet Disney film about a young orphan brought to a small town to live with her wealthy and detached Aunt Polly. I remember this being one of my favorites as a girl and it was so fun watching it through the eyes of my daughters - experiencing it almost as the first time. Through her positive attitude, kindness and friendship of those around her Pollyanna transforms the whole town. Since I was little, I have been an optimist - glass half full kind of girl . . . I have noticed of late however, that real life, chronic illness, bills out my ears, appointments etc. have dissipated my eternal optimistic point of view. The movie today reminded me of just how many things I have to be glad about and I thought I'd share a few . . .

1. For the reassurance of a God who loves me, created me, and will never leave me to face anything alone.

2. For a husband who lives out our wedding vows everyday.

3. For two beautiful daughters who are healthy and sweet and incredibly adaptable.

4. For a network of friends who love me in spite of myself.

5. For parents who are willing to jump in the ring with us.

6. For in-laws who love and treat me like their own.

7. For surprise and random cards of encouragement that show up in my mail box.

8. For text messaging that allows me to communicate during a neb treatment.

9. For DVR that allows me to fast forward all the annoying commercials (ok - not as important as the previous but still makes me happy!!!)

10. For a big cup of coffee in the AM with vanilla creamer

11. For an old friend that introduced me to blogging, continues to send her love and encouragement and even mentions me in her blog . . . I feel almost famous!!

12. For the talent to crochet blankets and scarves and bags and hats giving me something to do and accomplish and give as gifts

13. For my elementary school teachers and parents who fostered a love of reading . . . what would I do without books?

14. For a meal delivered by good friends for no reason or prompting except that they were thinking of us (grubbin food Peter!!!)

15. For family pictures to look at and retell the story of and remember great days and incredible memories . .

I could go on all day - which is an incredible statement to make when the last few weeks have felt pretty crummy and I've gotten stuck in the stress wheel . . . I'm realizing as I type the need to raise my head up and focus on the good things . . . there are so many things to be thankful for - and not in a hokey pokey "look at the bright side - there's a reason for everything" - because sometimes the hand you are dealt just stinks - but honest to goodness look around you and be thankful. Note to self (and anyone listening out there) - be glad - it's contagious and sure makes you feel better about the day.

Now I'm off to attempt to rebuild my culinary skills starting with gourmet Kraft macaroni and cheese . . . have to begin somewhere right?!

Making a Memory

Yesterday we put aside the doctors and the medicine and the stress and went to the movie. We took our girls to see Nanny McPhee Returns. Aside from the sticker shock of paying for the whole family to see a show, it was an incredible experience.

We loved the original movie and were thrilled to see the trailer for a new one. Aside from a silly belching bird, there was nothing rude or offensive or over the top (in my opinion). We laughed outloud, ate popcorn and had a great time. . . take your family to see this silly, adorable movie and make a memory - for us we couldn't put a price tag on family fun.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

One more thing . . .

I forgot to mention the wonderful surprise of a card and a bag of peanut butter m&m's on my porch when I got home from Doctors today . . . a sweet friend of mine knows the true meaning of life - that sometimes the only thing you need is some grubbin chocolate!!

Frustrating Doctors and Fluffy Reads

Today I went to my third doctors appointment this week since being discharged from the hospital on Monday. I am tired of Doctors. I have a fabulous team working on me from head to toe but the longer I am Doctored the more I realize, at a certain point, you have to be your own doctor. You live in your body and understand it more than a whole team of Doctors. It gets very frustrating to call or visit a Doctor looking for more advice or a new plan and they offer you the same routine that you've already tried or are trying currently and it makes me grumpy.

So what is one supposed to do with this load of frustration when you have no choice at this moment? You can sit around and stew, you can stand outside and scream or you can find other outlets. One thing I still love to do when I'm cooped up and laid up with asthma is crochet. I find it very therapeutic to do something productive with my hands. I am currently working on the handles of a bag for a sweet friend with a big journey ahead of her . . . it's not an answer to all of life's problems but may bring a smile to her face and paired with the right inspirational book, might be a bright spot in a tough place.

The picture doesn't show the hours spent on tiny stitches . . . and as I stitched, I prayed for and thought of my sweet friend . . . hoping for full recovery and peace through her difficult journey. I'm anxious to finish the handles tonight to get it in the mail tomorrow for her.

I'm also spending time reading . . . and although I am a big fan of reading inspirational things and helpful things, sometimes you just need to read some fluff. I found what I was looking for in "The Private Thoughts of Amelia E Rye." It is a story of friendship told through the musings of a fourth grade girl (this would make a great read for your preteen/teen too . . . you could both read it then talk about the issues brought up such as race, poverty, family dynamics and finding your way through the world as a young girl.) It was a fast read and funny to boot . . .

I am so thankful for this blog . . . a place to vent and rant and inspire and share and dump and be filled up with feedback and support and find a place to journal with a purpose . . . with the purpose of sharing my life and the struggles and joys of finding my way through the world . . . thanks for reading and following and praying and caring . . .

Monday, August 16, 2010

Home again . . . or the Story of the Baby Birds

I am typing this blog from my own home . . .  finally got a break in the asthma yesterday and have avoided neb treatments all day today! (The first time in at least three weeks!!) I have an appointment with my pulmo Dr. tomorrow but glad to be home . . .

When I was first admitted into the hospital last Thursday I noticed a nest full of baby birds settled right outside my window. Their eyes were closed, they hardly made a sound and hardly had a feather. As the days progressed, they began to open their eyes and take notice of their world around them. They began to chirp loudly and their momma began to bring them food - delivered right into their little open mouths. Then they began to get even braver and even stronger. Covered in feathers now, they began to stretch their wings and stand on the edge of their next taking in the world around them. Yesterday, they took flight. They took the biggest step in their lives so far. They knew it was going to be bumpy with a big learning curve but they were ready to give it a try.

What symbolism of my last week and a half. When I arrived at the hospital, I was in pretty bad shape and had my eyes closed much of the time. As the week progressed, I opened my eyes and was able to accept treatment given to me by a knowledgeable and wonderful staff . . . then I began to walk the halls - stretch my wings - until today . . . when I took that big, bumpy, scary step and flew the nest . . . left the safety net of the doctors and nurses and oxygen tubes and vital signs and hand holding.

I'm on the offense right now - my illness is stable. But I know, as I'm learning about chronic illness more everyday, that there will be bumps ahead - wind storms, predators, getting lost as a baby bird - but I can do it. I have an amazing network of family and friends and doctors cheering for my flight in the big wide world and I am thankful . . .

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Another Book

Health update - crummy. My asthma just won't break and aside from the uncomfortable side effects and shortness of breath, I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. Still in the hospital . . . still no visitors allowed . . . still crocheting and still reading books.

Just finished a book called "Maybe a Miracle" by Brian Strause. It's a work of fiction about a young girl that goes into a coma after falling in the pool and nearly drowning. One of the characters has a severe case of potty mouth but the concept of the story is interesting. It's a tale of family dynamics, hope, community, faith, and tenacity - all qualities I need to continue to grow within myself.

I won't ruin the ending in case you want to read it but I found some interesting thought points throughout the story. It made me realize how much I miss having a book club and I'm determined to start one upon my release . . . everyone needs something to look forward to and what could be better than fun snacks and drinks and laughter and conversation about the shared experience of reading the same book? Maybe you're interested in joining my book club? Maybe you have an idea for the first book we read? How about a name for the group of reading gals?

Ok - off to another glorious breathing treatment and the beginning of a new book.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Movie Night

Travis came back to visit me tonight with another movie called "The Ghost Writer." It starred Ewin McGregor and Pierce Broslin and was about a British prime minister whom no one liked and the biography he was writing by using a ghost writer.

It was slow to start, slow to progress and slow to finish - with a quite unsatisfying ending . . . you can watch it and decide for yourself but have a lot of coffee close by or you'll be asleep before the opening credits.

Medicine - a blessing or a curse?

I woke up this morning with conflicting feelings about medication. Take for example, the medication they put into my nebulizer to open up my breathing passages to breath better . . .. obviously an important medication for me and very needed when it's time. As soon as I finish the medicine however, I am left with a pound of side effects like shaky hands, racing heart, exhaustion, and back pain . . . good times.

Or, for example, what about the pile of medication I am taking each day to combat the side effects of the other medications I'm taking . . . anybody?!

Yes - I'm thankful for the modern medicine we are blessed with in our country but can't help but think it's not all it's cracked up to be each day . . . and if you don't have to, don't do drugs . . . that's my public service announcement for the day . . . make it a good one!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Crochet Therapy

It may sound silly and geriatric but there is something very therapeutic to me about crochet. Travis brought by my latest project (a late wedding gift for my sister) and I have thoroughly enjoyed using my hands to create something tangible as well as the routine of the stitches over and over and over . . .

I guess I'm just practicing for my days in the nursing home . . .

A Timely Read . . .

I just finished reading a book by Laurie Edwards entitled "Life Disrupted - getting real about chronic illness in your twenties and thirties." My hubby picked it up at the library for me on the off chance it may offer some insight. It was a perfectly timely read. The author used words I'm thinking in my head. It addressed all the issues I've faced over the past three years of increasing asthma - from hospital visits to disappointing cancellations to difficulty in friend relationships as you are less than predictable in being available to grow relationships well. So many times in this book I felt "a ha" moments and received so much encouragement that yes, it is difficult dealing with a chronic illness at such a young age but yes, it is possible to still live a happy full life. It confirmed some of the big decisions I have had to make lately in order to make room for my health . . . it made me feel like I was not alone in thinking things (both productive and negative) . . . and that there are others out there navigating this crazy journey and still finding success in life. Thanks honey for a great book - and thanks Laurie Edwards for being so transparent in your story allowing others to find truth.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Love Story

Last night Travis came to visit me at the hospital (the only visitor allowed right now) and brought with him our laptop and the movie "Young Victoria." It was a sweet movie full of amazing costumes, great history and a fabulous love story. I was taken with the sets, actors and beauty in the film but more than that, I was struck by the fact that the greatest love story was happening right next to me. My husband is and always has been my best friend. He's a shoulder to cry on, a hoot to laugh with, a strength to draw from, an adventure to experience and everything in between. What is a greater love story then climbing in the mud with your wife in the hospital and loving her with everything you have? I love you Travis Alan Marsh and thank you for your continual support and love . . . thanks for writing a love story with me . . . and although we're not always wearing the fanciest costumes or dancing at the most elite parties, the way you walk with me through sickness and health, good times and bad is amazing . . .

Friday, August 6, 2010

Hospital Life

Soo . . . I'm back in the hospital as my asthma exacerbation has continued to worsen and I continue to have side effects from the strong doses of steroids . . . I am not allowed visitors at this point but would love your prayers, support and emails. I have Internet access here and will post all the fascinating experiences as they come . . . This to Shall Pass . . . and in the meantime, I'll enjoy the lovely selection of hospital food!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Amy Grant?!

I just finished reading Amy Grant's book titled "Mosaic." Who didn't love Amy Grant in the 80's and 90's?! And then who wasn't shocked and surprised with the news of her divorce to the father of her three children and quick re-marriage to Vince Gill (country music star)?! She received a lot of bad press at the time and I must admit, I was one of the thousands of people who turned my back on her as a Christian artist feeling disappointed at her choices.

Why then would I want to pick up a book about her life? Mostly, I was interested in her perspective on how things went. And what surprised me the most, is how much I learned and grew as I read it. I went into it thinking I would learn more about her and ended up learning more about God . . . His forgiveness, His plan, His involvement of our lives . . . she shares in the book much about her childhood and family life and also shares much about her personal relationship with God - how she starts her day by standing outside, rain or shine, saying at the top of her lungs, "THIS IS THE DAY THE LORD HAS MADE . . . I WILL REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN IT" then by reciting the Lord's prayer (as she says, "When Jesus tells us this is how we should pray, we should listen."). She incorporates many lyrics to her songs of old and new as well as reasons why she wrote them - the back story of her musical journey. I was struck with the words from one of her songs entitled "Breath of Heaven" in which she says, "Help me be strong . . . Help me be . . . Help me." What a simple prayer and one I want for my heart's cry . . .

I have also recently been listening to her new song "Better than a Hallelujah" and have been moved to tears at the way "we pour out our miseries . . . God just hears a melody" . . . enjoy the song . . . and pick up the book . . . it's more than a biography . . . it's an intimate glimpse into the very public life of one of God's children - and the reminder that God loves us all the same . . . celebrity or not, we are in need of God, His forgiveness, His grace, and His purpose for us.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Return of the Rehab Reviewer . . .

Back on the nebulizer . . . back in the land of asthma flareups . . . back to the place of a whole lot of nothing to do but getting through . . . so I read . . . and watch TV and movies . . . and as I've not been overly impressed with the movies and TV I've recently viewed, I thought I'd share a few of the books I've completed (you know me and completing things!)

If you're interested in the book (and who doesn't love a good book?!) check it out from your local library, or click on the posted link and order it used from Amazon . . . good times.

Okay - "Butter Safe than Sorry" was a silly little mystery set in Amish country. The main character is an over the top bed and breakfast owner that gets herself in the middle of crimes and tries to solve them in her own crazy ways. Apparently it's part of a series but you don't need to read them in order as I picked it up out of no where and did just fine. Not gonna change your life but might make ya laugh and we all could use more of that in our lives!

And the second book, The Blue Orchard is based in fact (although it is a piece of fiction) and quite controversial. It tackles issues of race, the great depression and abortion. The premise is a poor young girl who attempts to support her family through various jobs with wealthier families. She is taken advantage of and mistreated. She eventually sets her mind upon becoming a nurse and the story of her determination is inspiring. Through referrals and life experiences, she ends up working for one of the most prominent figures in the black community - a doctor who is involved in politics and preforms illegal "operations" for hundreds of women referred to him by everyone in the community including famous politicians and well known members of the community. It delves into the moral discussion of the "operations" as well as the thought process of those involved. I am a firm advocate for the life of babies - who are real people upon conception and whom God has a plan for. I am also, however, not afraid to read books of varying viewpoints to add to the conversation. This book put a human side to the often "clinical" view we take. It stretched my thinking outside the box. I left the reading still feeling the same about my position (and the main character in the book is left with much thought on the topic as well) but fascinated by the times and circumstances of how people lived and choices they made. I am often critical of what I read as I am a very involved reader and get engrossed in the stories - but if a piece of literature is well written, not offensive in language or description and serves a purpose of thought and conversation, I am willing to read it. That's just my opinion - for others I know they limit themselves to only Christian authors and that may work for them . . . I am careful to read something inspirational and encouraging as well as the fiction books I choose . . . and the pool of good Christian fiction has grown astronomically . . . just my personal opinion to read from various opinions.

All that to say . . . read a book this summer . . . maybe it's fluffy and silly or maybe it's historical and thought provoking but the moral is - read a book. It's a good example to your kids, it's good for your brain and it's a nice way to spend a summer afternoon . . . take a book outside . . . have some lemonade . . . read the same book as a friend and talk about it when you take the kids to the beach . . . read a book.

Can't find a good book? I stumbled upon a fabulous website that will be my new friend . . . . . .you enter the title of a book you read and enjoyed and it pops up a list of 30 some books you might like . . . fun . . .  off to read . . .