July 18, 2011
My wish for you, today and always, is that you have many fairytales…
Happy Monday fellow bloggers!
I hope everyone is enjoying this hot summer, hopefully in water or air-conditioning! I have had a very eventful summer so far and at the for-front of my mind are last weekend’s events surrounding my daughter Angela’s wedding to Mr. Chad Jenkins , July 9th! The joy I and my family experienced all weekend cannot really be put into words, however the deep genuine feeling of love that encompassed the weekend and wedding was very evident and will forever be a fairytale in my life.
Sharing a very important event like this one with family and friends is so very important in life . It brings all those who you love together, under one roof, to bond and share a major lifes joy, the love and lifelong commitment two people make to each other. It is the bonding of two families, often from different walks of life, together, what a life affirming experience and I thank everyone involved with their special day, all of those present, sharing their gifts and those there in spirit.
Experiencing this beautiful weekend with family and friends, caused me to stop and take stock of the last several years of my life. The year I had my heart attack was a horrendous year of trial and tribulation. In one year, my daughter Amanda had broken her femur and tibia in a soccer accident, had one major surgery that required the opening of her leg over 10 inches, cast from groin to toe for almost 3 months and two more arthroscopic surgeries. She underwent 15 months of intense physical therapy, that of which I attended, me being the necessary driver in getting her everywhere, as well as my need to feel her pain ( my control issue rearing it’s ugly head). She had no right leg to use for 15 months to drive with , therefore no license at 16, ugh for her and I. I wonder what a psychologist/ psychiatrist would find in the deep psyche of my brain, to have had to witness every part of her journey back to health and then just when Amanda was turning the corner and getting full mobility back from her accident, I had my heart attack.
Just days before my cardiac event Amanda had left to take a well needed vacation with a high school friend’s family to Florida. We had both been under a lot of stress during her rehab and we really needed a break from each other. Nursing her during her rehab, getting her everywhere she needed to be, from school to physical therapy, doctors visits and extra curricular events, she was determined to be at, was not an easy task, but one done with love and often times frustratration. There are too many stories within this time frame for me to mention right now, very humorous to gut retching, I will get back to some at a later date (ever picked up a cast from groin to toe all day, every day for 3 months for someone?!? And showers…what a hoot!). Suffice it to say, I could write a book on this one year in our lives…
Amanda went off to Florida for her vacation and I stayed home for some much needed rest. I recall laughing at her friend’s mother’s face when I told her that Amanda would be accompanied with a machine for her leg. This machine rotated her let at night, every hour on the hour for 20 minutes. Amanda had just had her last arthroscopic surgery and needed this to lessen scar tissue. Well, what was the mother going to say…they had already invited her, hahaha… Honestly they were troopers to take her with them and off they went to the airport, with machine in hand! I will also never forget, right before Amanda left, we both hugged and she said “ I will see you in 10 days mom” my response “God willing...if I don’t have a heart attack after all of this” . Well guess what a few days after her departure, that’s exactly what I had. Lesson, be careful of what you say Janine, it can come back and kick your butt.
I chose not to have Amanda notified of my heart attack. She so needed a break from medical issues. Angela, had come home from College to be with her father and I. I gave Ang strict instructions not to call Amanda unless things went south and I required open-heart surgery. Thank God a stent was the method of medical choice and was successful. The morning Angela picked up Amanda from the airport, Amanda inquired “where is mom?” Angela’s response, “she’s in the hospital, she had a heart attack”. “Right…sure" responded Amanda giggling, "she told you what she said to me before leaving, didn’t she?” Amanda looked at Angela and saw no smile or sign of humor… Amanda... ”take me to the hospital right now Ang…”
The hospital stay was very familiar to me. I was admitted to Beaumont just two months prior to my heart attack for an entire week, with a throat infection. I picked up a germ from the preschool I had just returned to working at, since Amanda’s accident, and it settled in my throat. My throat had swelled up so much that I was unable to swallow at all. All I could do was spit constantly into tissues and as a result, I almost got to experience a tracheotomy so to open my airway. Thank god the anti-inflammatory medication kept the swelling at bay. This visit to the ER that night extended into a full weeks stay in the hospital, I just couldn't believe my bad luck. I will revisit this experience later as I had a few very humorous experiences in the ER with my sister Julie that night. I was once again becoming accustomed to the hospital I had worked at for 12 years and might I add very grateful I had managed to stay away from it for the past 15 years!
Three hospitalizations for Amanda, two for me (within 2 months) and just when I think we were out of the woods, Amanda starts having stomach and back pain. Less than 2 months after my cardiac event, Amanda is up crying from 2am to 4 am with severe back pain and cramping. It was bad enough that she asked me to rub her back to help lessen the pain...how much more can this child take, I thought. It took two visits to our pediatrician to convince him to do an upper GI. He knew I would go elsewhere to get some answers for this pain. I didn't bye his explanations that it was "nerves and from the medication she had taken for her leg issues", so he succumbed to my request and ordered the upper GI.
Amanda’s upper GI was anything but typical. After drinking the darn awful barium required, we were taken to the exam room. Yes I say we as I wouldn’t leave her side. The technician took all the necessary pictures of her upper GI track covered in barium and revisited the same area several times to take additional pictures of her stomach. Was it just my imagination or my parental concerns in overdrive that I saw something in her stomach. Having been an ultrasound technician of the heart for years I could tell differences in tissue densities. A large growth, the outer edges brightened and dense? I of course say out loud, “what the hell is that”, then the tech reaches for her phone making a call and shortly one Doctor comes in,f ollowed by another…then one more…SHIT, I say under my breath…tearing up…
The results of the test and the Doctors initial concerns of the type of tumor it was lead me to seek out a University of Michigan specialist. Beaumont Doctors had told me they felt it was a very aggressive tumor, one that should be removed immediately. We visited the specialist at
U of M Hospital in Ann Arbor Michigan a few days later and he ordered numerous more tests. We then organized a meeting with a well know pediatric surgeon to remove the tumor. First an endoscopy was performed, to get a portion of the tumor to biopsy, but failed due to the nature of the tumor. From the time Amanda had her first UGI at Beaumont Hospital, to her surgery, only a week had passed, but it had seamed like months. She was admitted into U of M hospital quickly, they were still very concerned about the nature of this growth since they couldn’t biopsy it from the endoscopy and had surgery the next day. The Doctor resected the growth off of the inside wall of her stomach, the size of a large orange and thank God their preliminary diagnosis post removal was that it was benign.
The week stay at the U of M Children’s Hospital, our family staying with her was, an interesting time. Not yet having the official confirmation back from the lab for several days, confirming the results of the biopsy, led us all to some quality family time of talk and reflection and yes…joy. U of M has a hotel right smack in the middle of the Hospital! I spent the nights with Amanda, listening to the draining of her NG tube…, which often put me to sleep… I know weird. The nurses were wonderful, changing her surgical bandages and administering her pain meds. Her dad would come down and relieve me in the morning so I could shower in our room and her sister would keep her busy in between breakfast lunch and dinner breaks. Several of her friends from Bishop Foley High School and soccer buddies would come all the way to Ann Arbor to visit her ( a 45 minute drive from Royal Oak) and family and friends we there also every day. All and all a positive outcome to a potentially grievous one. Amanda’s recovery at home was full of stories again many humorous when I look back, but not then. I will save the constipation and the Birmingham House of pancake stories for another day!
The reason I wanted to share this story of our year of medical trial, tribulation and growth is to show you the paradox between that year’s story and the past year of positive growth, joy and love I have experienced. Both of these years having significant growth in common, however, one obviously easier than the other, but growth non-the less. I believe that without the valleys of our lives we would not get the true understanding and joy out of our peaks.
The past two years of my life have been sometimes challenging, from moving my husband and I to NY in a 1990’s old non air-conditioned Dodge Van, pulling a Saturn L200 with the kids driving our Honda behind us , up and down the hills of Pennsylvania ( 10 hour trip which took over 15 hours), in the heat of the summer, to the streets of NYC and my “Go Red Adventures”… to many to mention here. Suffice it to say being dinned in the NASDAQ for the “Go Red for Woman” premier last September, with many CEO’s CFO’s and celebrities is a big leap from Royal Oak Michigan , Beaumont and U of M Hospitals. We have been blessed with it all… although initially when my husband Tony came home a few years ago and said to me “ I’ve decided to take an early retirement from my job”…of 25 years mind you, I stood dumb struck in my kitchen. Little did I know that it would lead me to the two most adventurous, humorous, fun packed, challenging, and lovely days of my life. From Royal Oak, Michigan to New York’s Times Square NASDAQ…quite a journey. Traveling back and forth from Michigan to New York monthly has its perks! Through it all my faith has been and is all encompassing, it sees me trough everything life sends my way and never let’s me down…
Angela and Chad’s wedding is a fairy tale in this life of mine. It has certainly topped the past two years I’ve experienced, with a cherry! The love of these two, whom I love deeply, and their loving commitment to each other, while sharing all of this with our closest family and friends, is a gift from the man upstairs. After the last several years’ experiences I can honestly look back and give thanks and look forward to what the future holds… Life’s ups and downs are …awe inspiring and…a wonderful thing!
Mrs. Angela Jenkins! You were stunning as a bride, beautiful inside and out and this is for you...
Yesterday Angela, as you walked down the aisle
You saw many faces wearing smiles.
But as we remembered those young tender years
Our smiles concealed a few hidden tears.
It wasn't through sadness, our emotions just whirled
As we both were thinking back to our dear little girl
And now you have grown and made us so proud,
As you smiled for the camera and the rest of the crowd.
Remember dear Angela as you become a new wife
You're still very much a part of our life!
We've not lost a daughter but have gained a wonderful son,
You're new lives as husband and wife have begun!
So be blissfully happy and we hope you enjoyed your 'Big Day'
Have a wonderful marriage with a rose strewn way!
We love you very much and are so happy for you and Chad!
♥♥♥ Mom and Dad...
Sincerely and from the heart