1
Nov

Halloween Wrap-Up

The gnome’s first real trick-or-treating experience was hilarious and ultimately very memorable. I am SO glad we were able to be home from the Mayo Clinic in time. I wouldn’t have missed this for the world!

He can kinda also double as an elf, come Christmas.

It was 70 degrees outside, and so we had a pretty good turnout of trick or treaters. While Simon and Grandma Jo took Jude trick or treating (he learned to say “Treat” but that was about it), I stayed on the front porch and handed out the candy. Gotta love it when people roll up in their car, hop out of the backseat, and come up to your door with no bag and just stuff the candy you give them in your mouth. Then they hop back in the car and roll on to the next street. Awesome.

Jude and Grandma Jo. We’re so glad she got to be here for this! It was too fun!

On to the next house! Go go go!

There are no pictures of me and J because I was behind the camera all night. Oh well, next year.

Say “Cheese!”

Our neighbor kids, who live for Halloween. They had all kinds of inflatables and tombstones and decorations in their yard. They were definitely excited about trick or treating!

On the radar this week:
Taking the 2-year-old(!) to the pediatrician for his 24-month checkup.
Finishing up some projects.
Client meetings.
Lunch with girlfriends? Hopefully!

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30
Oct

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! I hope you’re having a fun day! I thought I’d post a few fun old photos…

My little giraffe last year!


Halloween 2000. I went as Tinkerbell and it was the first year that my oldest nephew Ben went trick-or-treating. I actually have a photo of him, me and Simon hanging on the wall upstairs. I just love it. This was the same year I made a really unfortunate costume for my friend MacKensie and she still wore it even though it was awful. And she is still my friend to this day. Ha! This photo was taken in my living room at my college apartment in Norman. I had just moved in and it was an absolute wreck.


Halloween 2001. I was a sparkly ballerina (I’m noticing a tutu trend – it was an easy dress to make and i loved making my own costumes) and Simon was a nerd. He had a sign on his back that said “kick me.”  We took Ben trick or treating for the second year in a row. I think he upchucked all of his candy like two seconds after we took this photo. Also for the second year in a row. :) Love you, BenBen.



Halloween 2002. I went as Miss America and Simon went as Richie Tenenbaum from The Royal Tenenbaums. That was the popular indie movie that year, and at the party we went to, there were 3 other Richie Tenenbaums.

What’s your most favorite costume from Halloweens past?

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29
Oct

Mayo, Day 4

This morning at 9:00, we were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and on our way over to the hospital for my CT scan of the good ol’ pancreas. The thing about doing a CT is that you have to drink a bunch of dye/goo that tastes kinda milky and kinda like … sweet chalk. I can’t think of any other way to describe it. It’s not something good, I can assure you.  At no point would you want to, say, chug a gallon of it when you’ve just gone for a run. Nor would you just want to reach into the fridge and drink it up with a chocolate chip cookie.

So there we sat, and after receiving an IV port (because not only do you have to drink all that goo, but you also get iodine injected into your veins too), the nurse brought me my three bottles, labeled with 15-minute intervals. Chug chug chug!

Then at 10:15, they called me in and I went to lay down on the table for the CT. I was feeling reeeeeeaaaaallly waterlogged. And slushy. I mean, I drank a lot. Then they hooked the IV up and gave me the iodine stuff and told me that I was going to feel really warm and like I peed my pants. Seriously?? Within 5 minutes, the CT was done, and then I promptly sat up and threw up everything I had just drank. Yeah like that’s not totally embarrassing. So then I was done and on my way.

We came back up to the room and just laid around until my appointment with my GI to discuss everything at 1:00. When we showed up to the digestive floor, a rather dapper elderly man in a wheelchair was sitting there next to us. He rolled on over and decided that we looked like nice people and needed to talk to us. He was 92 years old and had been married for over 60 years. He started telling us how he immigrated from Scotland and how his  mother was a midwife, and actually that was rather a fortuitous thing because as it turns out he got involved in the sales of a new invention at the time, a device called the diaphragm that really changed birth control….

Just when things were about to get interesting, we were called into the doctor’s office, and left poor Mom sitting there with Mr. Diaphragm. Turns out, he then went on about how he was a salesman and tried to get her to become a part of his sales team, selling a special kind of face cream! He also told her all about how he and his wife have come to the Mayo clinic since they were young, and now they’re here for a few days. But when they come, they always get separate hotel rooms because apparently he snores. A lot. Poor Mom got quite the earful!

Meanwhile, we went back and met with Dr. Pardi. He definitely had good news for me. My Bone Density scan came back better than normal which means that the past 3 years of off-and-on prednisone haven’t done any permanent damage to my bones. That is awesome! The second bit of good news was that he thought that my pancreas looked good, that the spot they had previously seen was nothing to worry about, and that if I ever had issues with pancreatitis again, to let them know. Pancreatitis can be a side-effect of medications for UC, but it can also just spontaneously pop up in UC as well. He thought that the gallbladder could’ve been involved, but if this ever happened again, to let him know before they just decide to start taking random parts out of me.

Which led into our next discussion about what to do about my ulcerative colitis. What will my plan be? Well, as of today, I am scheduled to come back to the Mayo Clinic the week after Thanksgiving to have my colon removed in the first of two surgeries. I will have a temporary ostomy (um, fun, right? blah) and then 3 months later once everything has healed, I will come back in February or March and have the second surgery that will allow me to have normal poops just like everybody else. They basically create a new bowel.  Everything is done by laparoscope.  And in the end, 92% of people who have this surgery done are thrilled. That’s pretty amazing.

The more I thought and prayed, the more I realized — why wouldn’t I take the opportunity to be cured of this disease? To put an end to the past 3 1/2 years of a rollercoaster ride that have really really sucked? To not be sick every other month? Why wouldn’t I take that opportunity? Can I be brave enough to endure a few months of discomfort, of inconvenience and ickiness, only to have a chance to have a normal life again? Can I trust that God has a great plan for my life and that He has known all along that this day would come? Yes. I can. I can do all of this. And I can do this with a happy spirit and with joy in my heart.

Despite my initial feelings of being overwhelmed and saddened that this is, in a way, my only choice,  I feel like I’ve been given a whole new chance at life. I’m never going to have to take all those meds ever again! No more immunity-hindering, serious drugs! No more Prednisone that makes me bloated, puffy, irritable, and crazy moody!   Heck, I figure that at Thanksgiving, we are going to PARTY! I’m gettin’ rid of this nasty ol’ colon and moving on to bigger and better things!

The doctor looked me squarely in the eye. “You seem really at peace with this decision,” he stated. And the answer is, yes. I do. I’m not going to say that I’m not going to experience moments of doubt and panic, wondering if I have made the right decision.

But in some ways, we’ve been down this road before. A few months ago, I watched Simon struggle with a decision. He had to decide that he had done as much as he could for the company he was working for and he had to make the toughest decision ever – to leave. It wasn’t a decision he wanted to make for himself; he really did want it made for him, in some ways, much like I wished that this decision would’ve been made for me. And while he knew that while the next few months of unemployment weren’t going to be easy, he knew that there was light at the end of the tunnel and that soon things were going to be okay. I can so relate.  And now, at the other end of that tunnel, now that he is gainfully employed and loving what he is doing, I can say praise God – there was a plan and we are going to make it.

It’s been an emotional week here at Mayo, for each and every one of us. THANK GOD for my parents and for Simon. I would be lost without them. Their support has been HUGE. Also, I thank each and every one of you for sticking around and following my journey here. Every comment left has meant SO MUCH TO US. I know it’s not the typical fun, design-related stuff, but like I’ve said before, this is my life. And I can’t tell you how good it feels to sit here and write all this out, and get it off my chest. I promise that I’ll be back with more fun stuff next week. :)

xoxoxo,
Rachel

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28
Oct

Mayo – Day 3

Just updated! So sorry – Flickr is doing weird things with my photos and it really angers me. Hopefully these will all show up again. Apologies!


I’m not even kidding you when I tell you that coming to the Mayo Clinic is being in an episode of the Jetsons. That’s what it feels like – some kind of cosmic little city where everybody buzzes around and things are whisked away on conveyor belts. We keep using the phrase “well-oiled machine” but really there is no better way to describe it. Everyone is ridiculously courteous, but not falsely so. The employees are precise and exacting. It is almost perfectly timely. They give you this printed schedule of activities, including very precise instructions for your specific tests or examinations. It’s insane. As a visual communicator, I can really appreciate the level of “togetherness” they have when it comes to keeping the patient informed and on time.

At 9:40am, I showed up for my blood tests. I was waiting in a large hall with probably 100 other people, but right at 9:40 on the dot, my name was called, identity verified, and then I was whisked into a room to have my blood drawn by the most capable phlebotomist I have ever met in my life. And let me tell you, I have been stuck more times than I can count. Then my blood was sent in a little box on a conveyor belt to wherever the conveyor belt goes. And that was that.

So we grabbed Mom & Dad, and hopped into our rental car. The valet dude at the hotel had told us that there was a really gorgeous scenic drive up to Wabasha (the city where Grumpy Old Men was filmed apparently) and it sits on the Mississippi River. Um, wait. The Mississippi??  Where was I in geography class? I had no idea it came all the way up here? We hopped into the car and began a gorgeous scenic drive through the Minnesotan hillsides and saw not only the most bucolic little farms, but some really amazing foliage. I know,  I know – I sound like I’m 90 years old, but it seriously was gorgeous. I can totally imagine living out here. It’s beautiful.

A nice drive across the Mississippi and we entered into Wisconsin. What the heck? We’ve never been – might as well go since we’re here! Before we knew it, we had entered into yet another charming town and fell upon the Nelson Creamery. When in Rome, do as the Romans, and when in Wisconsin, eat cheese.

Piling out of the car, I was reminded a little bit of a grocery store we had visited in Napa. This place had the same charm as many of the little towns and shops there. So then we were back on the road, enjoying the foliage and the crisp, cool weather. We drove down the Mississippi on the Wisconsin side, and then crossed over into Winona, which is yet another charming Minnesotan town. Man, Minnesota has the market on cute! Who knew?









Did you see all those gorgeous Tolix chairs in the Nelson Creamery? I died. It was so fabulous. Style oozing out of the grout of that building. And yes, we did buy a “Eat Cheese or Die” button.

At 2:40, I returned to the Mayo for my bone density spa exam which was like laying on a tanning bed in a hospital gown and then before I knew it, that was that. We were done for the day. It was decided that we would hop back into the car and make the haul into Minneapolis.

Internet, you know me. You know I can’t be thisclose to shopping Mecca (ahem, the Mall of America) and not go. That would be ridiculous. And really, there doesn’t seem to be much else to do here, and since our time is limited, we were off. We hopped in the car at 3:30 and by 5:00, we were parking by Nordstrom. Purchases made by 5:30. Really, my mom spoils me rotten. R-O-T-T-E-N.

To be fair, the MofA really isn’t all that impressive. It wasn’t as big as I thought it would be. The stores are the same you might find anywhere else like Dallas (Oklahoma STILL isn’t cool enough for a Bloomingdales or Nordstrom, so that still made my day). It just happens to have a giant rollercoaster and an aquarium in the middle of it. We had a good time finding things for Jude, though, too. For his birthday tomorrow, he will receive a darling set of fireman boots that will just totally make his day. But shhh – don’t tell him yet. :)

Oh, wanna see a photo of our room? It’s the gnarliest valance you’ll EVER see in your life. It drives me absolutely insane to look at it. It’s like a trainwreck of drapery proportions, and you’ll understand when you see it. Are you ready for this?

BAD.

Well, so what about the more serious stuff? We’ve had lots of talks over the past day about what we learned yesterday. No surgery will happen this week regardless of if  that’s what I decide to go ahead and do — I have to wait at least a month because I need to be off of the Remicade for 8 weeks before I can go in for surgery due to problems with my immune system and the fact that it messes with your body and its ability to heal itself. I’m halfway there, so hypothetically I guess I could go in for surgery as early as a month from now, if that’s what I so chose.

I just keep coming back to the idea of being UC-free. No more drugs, no more impaired immune system b/c of all the heavy duty drugs I’ve been on, no more prednisone (this is the biggie).  No more rollercoaster of digestive craziness or fear that I’m going to get sick when we’re out somewhere, or on and on and on. It is such a serious step to take – I mean, who really wants to make the choice to have elective surgery this major? This is going to sound like a funny metaphor, but in my mind, it’s like having to make the decision to put your dog to sleep. You don’t want to be the one to have to make that call – you want the decision to be made for you. Like someone else says, “You know, you absolutely HAVE to have your colon out or you are going to die.” Fortunately/unfortunately, it’s not that way with me. Colitis doesn’t kill anyone. It just makes your life crazy miserable. When you see it in black and white, it sounds like a fairly simple decision: just take the darn thing out and call it cured.

I think more than anything, I have to wrap my brain around all of this. There are several things I do know: I know that God has a good plan for me and that none of this shocks Him. I know that His ways are not my ways, his thoughts are not my thoughts. I know that He loves me more than I can ever imagine, and that He has only the best things at heart for me. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I want every last bit of this silly colitis experience for the past 3 years to glorify Him. Because it has to be worth SOMETHING. And He will wreak good out of it. I know it.

You guys, I can’t tell you how helpful – how cathartic – it is for me to write to all of you on this blog. We got more hits yesterday than ever before, and I know that each of our friends and family are checking in to see what’s happening and you are praying. That is awesome. You have no idea how loved we feel and I know that God is in control.

Ok. Enough for now. I’ve gotta get up in the morning for the pancreas CT scan. Love to you all -

xoxox,

Rach

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