Saturday, July 31, 2010

Heal the Wound...

Every once in a while, I write a post wherein I expose to you the things that I usually keep carefully covered up.  The things that are uncomfortable, unpopular... without beauty and without grace.  This is going to be one of those.  If you want to continue to look at me the same way you always have - stop reading here.  I'll resume "regular" posting soon.

If you are okay with maybe changing what you think of me, of my life... if you're okay with reality being different than you might think, keep going.

If you were sitting here in the room with me, you wouldn't see my legs.  They'd be covered.  My right hand would probably be covering my left arm.  I'd talk to you, look you in the eyes.  You'd see me smile, see my brows pull together with concern.  I'd listen to your every word, tell you I cared.  And I would care.  I'd do whatever I could to show you His love.  But you wouldn't see my legs.

Unless you were truly broken.

If your hope was gone, if your heart was shattered, if tears were streaming down your face.  I'd take your hand, look into your eyes.  I wouldn't look away.  I might shake, and my voice would get quiet.  I'd pull up the leg of my pants.

You'd look down, wondering what I was doing.  The ugly, red hole in my leg... the lines across my skin... the evidence of old wounds would be there for you to see.  Your face would register surprise.  Maybe repulsion, maybe curiosity.  You'd stare, for a few seconds, maybe minutes.  Silence, until your eyes shifted back to my face.

And then, I would tell you why the song that is playing right now means anything at all to me. 

I would tell you that my hope has been gone.  My heart shattered.  I've cried until I had no more tears.  I've stared silently at the darkness, afraid of the light.  I would take a deep breath.  I would tell you that time and again, the pain and the blood have flowed out of me.  That my own hands have been instruments of destruction.

I would look down, and you would too.  Together, we'd look at the scars.

And I would tell you why I have stopped wishing for God to take them away.  Each one is a silent witness, proclaiming this truth: He is enough.  He is there.  He is faithful.

I do not show them off.  I do not want the world to see them if I don't have a chance to explain.  I am ashamed of what I've done.  But I am not ashamed of Him.  I am not ashamed to say that out of the ashes left by burnt out hope, He is creating a masterpiece.  I cannot see it - it is not finished, and I am on the inside looking out. 

I am breathing.  My heart is beating.  My hands are warm, there is fire in my eyes, my back is strong.  And it is not because of anything I am or have or can do.  It is Him.

He has preserved me.  He will present me blameless.  He lifts my head, He washes the shame from my face.  In Him, there is freedom.  Life.  Liberty.  There is no condemnation.  No fear.

He is your hope.  He is the only thing that can hold the pieces of your heart together.  He is the One who never leaves, never fails, never ends.  His shoulders are broad - they can carry the weight of the world.  And He loves you.  He has redeemed you.  He knew you before you were born, and He knows every minute tomorrow holds. 

The hurt, the loss, the destruction I have known, are not visible.  You can't see them.  If you were here in this room, there wouldn't be any way for you to know about them.  Except for the scars.

They speak.

They might make you cry.  They might make you cringe.  They might make you wonder if I've ever known the pain that you're feeling now. 

They will show you dependence. 

If you were here, I would squeeze your hands, ask you to look at me.

I would tell you that you will fall, again and again.  That your heart might be broken anew.  That you will feel more pain.  And I would tell you that He will pick you up.  That He will hold you, and wash you, and purify you.  I would remind you that in Him, there is healing and fullness of joy. 

And after you left, I would be thankful for the scars.  Not for the pain.  Not for the wounds.  Not for the sorrow.  But for the healing.  For the truth.  For Him.  For you.

If you were here.

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Friday, July 30, 2010

The Weight On My Shoulders...

My husband is responsible for the weight I've been carrying on my shoulders over the last week or so.  Just so you're all clear on that. 

And what, you may ask, is that weight?  Well... I could try to tell you about it.  But showing you, in pictures, what exactly has been weighing me down would be far more effective.

Part of it looks like this...

...and has lots of buttons on it...

...and takes pretty sweet photographs...

...and cleans itself every time I turn it off.

There is something that makes most of my lenses zoom twice as far...

And something that makes them see twice as much.

There is something that gets me closer than I've ever been before...

...and is made of mirrors (which is something new to me)...

...and can make a person just a little queasy if they stare too long.

There is something for getting in people's faces...

...and something for wide open spaces.

There are light-altering devices, too.

It gives me a lot of options...

,,, but it's a lot of weight.

Although, upon further reflection... I do think that maybe this is a weight I can bear.  So if you see me with a new backpack, and it looks a little heavy... all you need to do is smile.  Be happy.  Know that the weight on my shoulders is something I've chosen.  Something I'm happy to carry.

(Thanks babe.  Love you.)

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Are you sure??

On July 23rd, as you may remember, I had surgery.  To "treat" endometriosis.  There was a complication this time - the first time ever - that rendered my bladder defunct.  Or something similar.  Regardless, for 48 hours, it took a lot of work and pain and fluid to get my bladder to give up any of its contents.  ANY of it.  Never mind emptying.  That was entirely out of the question.  I literally begged the nurses to get the doctor to let me go home.  They did.  Not sure how, but they did.  Doctor called the next morning, and was unhappy with the fact that things were not working yet.  I was unhappy too - do you have any idea how much an overly-filled bladder hurts??

Sunday morning, I could barely move, it was so full and so sore.  I didn't really think three hours would make much difference in the grand scheme of bladder-life, so I sent my husband to church.  Asked him to have our Pastor wear a prayer-cloth and bring it home for me.  When my husband got home, I took the cloth, tucked it in my waist band and went back to sleep.  I did so with the expectation that I would wake up and have him take me to the hospital.  Very faith-filled thoughts, huh?

Regardless, I woke up two hours later and my bladder let loose.  It felt amazing.  As in I cannot begin to describe the relief.  I'm not sure how much fluid it takes to change the level of water in a toilette that much.  I do know that when I left the hospital, my final bladder scan showed about 1200 ml's of urine (the max in a healthy bladder is supposed to be between 200 and 600).  They didn't tell us this - I looked it up in my on-line health record.  I also know that there is no way it ever dropped below that.  The tiny amounts I could squeeze out were barely a drop in the bucket. 

All of that... and then the "miraculous urination."  And even with that... I hurt.  Really hurt.  My bladder, which is functioning at half-thickness in many locations after as much endo as could be removed, was.  My uterus, which was stuck to things and covered in endo.  My ovaries, which had worked their way into my peritoneum (abdominal lining) again.  My intestines.  Stomach.  Liver.  These are the things I can distinctly feel.

Why?  Why do we do this instead of choosing to remove my reproductive organs and hit the remaining endo with chemotherapy?  Which could actually let me live the rest of my life with much less pain?  Why are we trying to figure out a way to pay for expensive "reproductive assistance" this winter?  Why do I want to go through the pain that will be involved in conception, the discomfort of pregnancy, hours of labor... when adoption is right there in front of us?  Why am I not terrified of the possibility of my heart going completely nuts while pregnant?  (My chart, by the way, states that I have SVT and AV-Nodal Re-entrant Tachycardia.  Both.  Listed as separate problems.  I guess they still haven't really made up their minds).  Or of scar tissue impeding delivery and requiring a c-section?

A good friend asked this today.  Part of my answer isn't really fit to share here on this blog.  But part of it is.  The part that says... I want the opportunity to be part of that kind of miracle.  The miracle that takes two microscopic pieces of two totally separate people, and out of that, an entirely new person grows.  The miracle that places a soul and a spirit inside that body.  I want to hear the screaming that heralds new life - new life that came from within my womb.  I want to grow impatient, large, and clumsy while this new life grows inside of me.  I want to do this thing, this amazing, entirely unique, miraculous, unparalleled thing that is called giving birth.  I want to add life to this planet I live on.  To contribute.

And this is all just the reasons I want to actually give birth.  There are so many other reasons to be a parent.  Which is a separate post and, at least in my heart, a separate dream.  I mean, yes, giving birth does have a tendency to lead to parenthood... but parenthood can be reached without the birth part.  Well, at least without me doing the birth part. 

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

RAW(e) - 2(6)

On this planet lives an amazing woman named Sami.  Her blog is one of the handful that I actually take time to read.  Her photographs make me smile, and laugh, and sometimes cry.

ANYWAY... she hosts a fun little photography thing called RAW(e).  I'm participating this week.  The challenge?  Go into the 2nd folder of pictures on your computer, and use the sixth picture.  The rule?  NO EDITING.  I broke the rule (but only a little) by shrinking the picture.  But that's it. 

Here is picture number 6, unedited (except for resizing), from my 2nd folder of unedited pictures (if I count the folder that contains exclusively edited shots, it's actually folder number three).  Too many words?  Probably.  Either way, use this link to head over to Sami's blog and enter the RAW(e) contest yourself.  If you don't want to enter, you should at least look at the pictures she posted today of her VERY cute daughter.

And without any more words, here is my 2(6) shot:

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Monday, July 26, 2010

I feel like I should know Moses pretty well by now...

Yes, I am referring to the Moses found in the Bible.  You know, the guy who saw a burning bush that didn't burn, and threw a stick on the ground and it became a snake... the guy who led the Israelites around and around and AROUND the same stupid mountain because they couldn't seem to stop whining?  Yeah, him.

I feel like I should know him.  We've got something in common...

I'm not in the middle of a real desert, walking in circles around a real mountain.  But I am definitely walking where I've already walked.  I have just taken yet another trip around the mountain I usually hear referred to as "surgery." 

Fifth time I've had surgery to treat endometriosis.

I honestly have no idea how it went - all Derek remembers is that the doctor said she did "a lot."  Which I could have figured out by doing the math (woke up over six hours after I walked into the OR).  Also would have been able to figure it out by how much stuff hurts... and all the places that hurt.  ANYway...

This was the first time I've had any sort of complication from it.  My bladder flat out was NOT working, at all, for hours.  When they let me go home, it was with the understanding and expectation that if it didn't improve, I'd have to come back in and stay for a while to get things straightened out.  When I got up Saturday, it worked... briefly.  Then it quit for most of the day, until I felt like I was going to explode.  Then it sort of worked again...

Sunday morning, it was so full, and I was so sore, that I chose to stay in bed.  But I did ask my husband to have our Pastor wear a piece of cloth and then bring it home to me (if you want to know why, read in the Bible how people merely touched the clothing that Jesus and some of his disciples wore and were healed).  He did.  I put it next to my bladder (tucked in the waist-band of my pants) and took a nap for a few hours.  Got up... and it's been working perfectly since.  I never thought I'd be so happy to urinate... but boy-howdy does it feel good!

Anyway... I will update once I see the doctor (it'll be almost a month from now) so that those who want to know exactly what was done can satisfy their curiosity.

What you see over there to the left is my post-op belly.  Full of fluid and blood.  It really does resemble a baby belly, doesn't it?  I let my husband practice "maternity" pictures on it.  If I'm gonna be this huge for no good reason, I may as well have SOME fun, don't you think?  (And yes, we are absolutely certain there is no baby in there.)

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Baby Boy Bolte.

I want to dedicate today's post to a sweet baby Isaac, and to his parents.  Today is his Heaven Day.  He was born with a fatal brain defect, and his parents were faced with the impossible task of squeezing a life-time of love into six short days.

If I could give them a gift... it would be this book.  It is called "God Gave Us Heaven" by Lisa Tawn Bergren.
"Papa, what's heav'n?"

"Why, heaven is God's home... the most amazing place we'll ever get to see."

"More amazing than Glacier Bay?" Little Cub asked. "Glacier Bay is the best place ever."

"Yes, Little Cub. Even better than Glacier Bay. God has great plans for you, Little Cub."

"For me?"

"For you. Both here, and later, when we get to heaven. God loves us and never wants to be far from us. He's made a way for us to be with him forever, in heaven."

"When do we get to see heaven, Papa?"

"When our life here is over."

"When we die?"

"Yes, Little Cub, when we die."

"Will I be old like Grandma when I go to heaven?"

"I hope so, Little Cub. I hope you get to live a long and full life before you see heaven. But some of us get to see it sooner than others."

"They do? How come?"

"They get sick or something bad happens. But the good news is that no matter what bad things happen here, nothing bad happens in heaven!"

"Nothing bad at all?"

"No more tears, no more sadness, no more pain. Only good. Only smiles!"

Little Cub thought on that for a while. "Will we eat in heaven?"

"Will we eat? Will we eat! We'll have more food than we need! It'll be the best of all polar bear feasts!"

"Every day?"

"Every single day."

"What else will we do in heaven?"

"Worship God and explore the best place we've ever seen."

"Will we get bored of that?"

"I doubt it. Heaven will be a million times better than even this!"
"Can we take our stuff to heaven?"

"No, we won't need our stuff there, Little Cub." He paused and lifted her backpack from her shoulders. "Feel how heavy that is? Doesn't it feel good to have it off of you?"

Little Cub nodded.

"Sometimes we think we need stuff, but it's just more weight for us to carry. Our best stuff doesn't weigh anything at all- stuff like love, family, friends, and faith. That's where our real blessings are."

"What will God look like, Papa?"

"Hmm... you know what Mama looks like? How she looks like love to us? God will be like that..."

"Cept a hundred times better!"


"Will we be angels?"

"No. Only angels are angels. God made us polar bears for a reason."

"Shoot. I want to fly."

Papa laughed. "Me too. But you never know what we'll get to do in heaven. I bet we'll think it's even better than flying."

"Will I get to see you in heaven?"

"I think so, Little Cub. I think we'll see all our loved ones there. It will be like the best family reunion ever."

"How do we get there, Papa? To heaven, I mean."

"Hmm... Let's say this side of the canyon is life here, on earth. And that side over there- where we find the path home- is heaven. God knew that our bad choices might keep us from him forever. Might even wash us away! He didn't want that. He loves us too much. So he sent his very own Son, Jesus, to be our bridge. All we have to do is walk across it to head toward our forever home."

Little Cub thought on that. "I like Jesus," she said.
"So do I, Little Cub. So do I."

"Will I have a room in heaven?"
"Oh yes, there will be many rooms in heaven."

"Will it be as cozy as mine?"

"The coziest ever, Little Cub."

"Will I sleep in heaven?" she said with a yawn.It had been a very big day. Papa yawned too and they giggled together.

"Heaven will be full of all the things we love most," Papa said. "And right now, sleep sounds heavenly to me."

Little Cub went to sleep and dreamed of seeing God and his angels, of singing and smiling all day long. Of her best friends and her whole family being with her forever. Of playing, of laughing, of everything good. And she was glad, so glad, that God had given them all heaven.

Happy Heaven Day, sweet Isaac.  You and Asher are not forgotten here.  Please show your support to Isaac's parents, the Boltes.  You can get to their blog by clicking here.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

When They Get It Right

As you may or may not know, I help to teach a women's self defense course.  It is an outstanding course.  But for the participants, it is grueling.  For some, those who have been raped, it can go beyond that and be utterly terrifying.  We (the instructor and assistants) really push them. 
The first few weeks, as we have them practicing the strikes and kicks they've learned, are a little harrowing.  Not because they are throwing excellent strikes or kicks, but because they are throwing horrible ones.  We, the "leaders" are used to proper technique.  And sometimes get a bit banged up holding bags and such for them. 
For example, last week (so 12 days ago), I was holding the bag where the individual SHOULD have hit it no problem.  Instead, she drove my foot into the ground, creating a massive bruise and a very swollen, sore joint.  BUT... it was effective.  I told her that wasn't what we were after just then, but it was a good technique.

The night sort of went downhill from there.  Sloppy techniques, crummy attitudes... just over all not so good.  The women were getting frustrated, we were getting irritated.and on the edge of being flat-out angry.  It was tempting, SO tempting, to yell and tell them to leave.  To come back when the were going to actually put forth some effort.
But then... something snapped in someones eyes.  And she started kicking, hard.  And yelling, loudly.  Her strikes would have been extremely effective if delivered to an actual human target.  A little later, she escaped from a choke hold on her first try, for the first time.  She will pass her graduation with flying colors... because she got it right.

Switching gears a little bit.  Way back when, I was a nanny for a sweet, beautiful boy.  Remember him?  His house was laid out in such a way that it was IMPOSSIBLE to gate off the stairs.  So, as soon as he was able to crawl, I started working with him, teaching the art of going up and down on his knees, and doing so slowly.  And I made it VERY clear to him that he could go up and down the steps all he wanted - as long as an adult was present.  So, after two weeks, he would crawl towards the steps squealing.  He'd get to the bottom, and freeze in his tracks.  And when he got to the top, and looked at me with those glittering black eyes... when he got it right.... I know.  I knew that if he did try to do it when an adult wasn't around, he'd more than likely be okay.  Because he got it right.
My last story is about a man I will call D.  D went to school with a close friend of mine.  That friend and I were at that school - an old, one-room school - working on restorations when D stopped in.  He was clearly intoxicated.  So many things had gone wrong in his life.  He was hurting, desperate, alone, afraid.  He'd turned to alcohol to try and make up for those things, and it was failing.  He pulled away, and I felt bad for him.
A few weeks later, he came back.  We were replacing the maypole (or strands, as some call them).  The two of them worked together, and I quietly watched.  I watched D open a bottle of beer and take a swig.  I watched him close his eyes and pause.
I watched him climbing up the side of a hay wagon, so that he could drop the new pole into position.  He climbed down, and the two of them stood there, staring.  These people are not what would usually be referred to as "young."   But they each grabbed a strand, and ran until they could leap in the air.  Their smiles, their laughter, the slaps on the shoulder...  his almost secretive dumping of the beer... my heart leaped within me, because he got it right.

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Stock in 3M

So I've been thinking... maybe my husband and I should support ourselves financially.  By taking out stock in 3M.  You know, the company that makes VetWrap.  I use a roll every day.  For my leg.  Speaking of leg... I think it's time I quit hiding it and post an update.

This is what it looks like all wrapped up the way it's supposed to be.  VetWrap comes in a lot of colors, by the way.  In case you were curious.  I use the VetWrap for the fact that it creates and maintains even tension.
Underneath the VetWrap, I have an ace bandage.  Not a regular one - one that is twice as long as normal.  It holds my foot in alignment, at least most of the time.  It would not be adequate without the VetWrap though.  The tension, if left as you see it below, would migrate and slip, and would fail to control the swelling or assist with circulation.
Underneath all that ace bandage, I have a hefty layer of 6-ply gauze.  I'm not actually oozing or bleeding or anything.  But the gauze is important.  I have learned how to carefully fold it so that it provides padding and also some protection in the instance of shearing pressure over the graft.  Plus, I can gob massive amounts of aquaphor underneath it, and keep everything soft and happy.
The final thing that stands between my leg and the world at large is Aquaphor.  Maybe I should take out stock in Beiersdorf Inc. (the makers of Eucerin and Aquaphor) too.  I use great gobs of it on my graft site every morning and night.  It is, according to the plastic surgeon, the most important thing I can do for the graft.  Keeping it soft helps to gain thickness, prevents it from splitting and causing major issues, and enables it to stretch a little if it is bruised, instead of breaking open.
Okay, this next one is the one that embarrasses me.  Please no mocking.  But also, please don't look away.  I'm not trying to engender sympathy, not trying to say "poor me."  I'm trying to say... be careful.  What you see below is the result of a relatively small self-inflicted cut on my shin.  It got infected.  The bacteria was resistant to treatment and ate away a LOT of flesh, including some important blood vessels and a nerve.  It also inflamed the lining on my tibia, which caused enough internal swelling to significantly damage the interior nerve.  I have no sensation below that ugly hole, short of some intermittent tingling that cannot be interrupted.  Irritating.  But, I am blessed.  The infection nearly took my life.  I am not only alive, but I can walk.  On my own leg.  It looks pretty stupid, but it is attached and mostly functional.  The surgeon was able to move around existing muscles to make up for the loss of one of my shin muscles.  That's why the graft looks so lumpy - the muscles are still settling into their final positions, and are bulking up a little unevenly.  I expect it to improve over time.
Anyway. for the curious, this is an update on how my leg is doing.  I have some big leg-related news pending right now... I will post when the time is right.  Meanwhile, I hope this answered your questions. 

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Isn't she beautiful?

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