Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sometimes

Sometimes things hit you when you least expect them. For me, these things usually revolve around Caden and missing her. Sometimes they are silly things, sometimes they are very real and meaningful.

I was taking the captain to go workout this evening...(yes folks, he is up and exercising, but not too hard he promises me) and I was thinking about my little cousin, whom I babysit. During one of his feedings today he only took half a bottle...this did not concern me, Caden did this often...but it got me remembering her. Those precious moments when I would feed her and she was too busy smiling and giggling to eat...how she would just gum the bottle and I would get frustrated, because I was thinking she needed to eat and not just play.

This was what was running through my head as the captain and I were hurtling down the interstate toward the workout center. This is what I was thinking about when I started to cry...to the captain, seemingly, out of nowhere. This is what I was thinking about as he grabbed my hand and asked if I was OK...yes, I replied as I was doing the shaky breath, ugly cry face. Do you miss Caden? He asked. Yeah...again me with the ugly cry face, shaky voice and tears now streaming down my cheeks. Silence followed, with us holding hands hurtling down the highway...

The sad stayed with me as I dropped him off, trying not to sound like a mother and tell him to be careful and not over-do it...so I just said...Love you. The sad lingered...so since I was already swimming in it...I went to the cemetery.

I never go.

That may sound strange to some of you. But in my mind...I know she is not there. It is just a big hunk of granite. Yet, I am her mama. I needed to go and be sad there for awhile. So I went. I wondered as I walked to her grave why I always go on very wet windy days...my shoes are always covered in mud for days after I go...I do not usually clean them, I just look at the mud and think of my baby...and how I hate the cemetery. I walked back to her grave and cried. I walked around her grave and cried. I stood and let the wind make a blasted mess of my hair...and I cried.

Sometimes I feel like I am clinging to the pieces of my life so tight that my arms go numb from the pain...I fear dropping a piece, even if that piece is gone already...it is just memories. I find myself holding tighter to Andy...I know I have to let it all go...God is in control not me...I know this...but sometimes my heart fails to follow on it's own.

Today was one of those sometimes.

It seems as of late it is the little things that get me...this is going to be a forever problem, I know. You cannot help when the memories hit. When they hit in the middle of laughter and suddenly your laughter turns to crying...like in Mary Poppins, when they are laughing on the ceiling having such a marvelous time...then Mary says it is time to leave and they all sink to the ground.

Sometimes I sink. Hard. Fast. Without warning.

Today was one of those sometimes.

After I could stand being by her grave no longer...I left and went to where else...Wal-Mart.

I bought fancy creamer for my de-caf coffee and fake self tanner...hey, I am a girl, buying things sometimes makes us feel better.

Sometimes.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tuesdays of Praise

Just recently, and by that I mean about a month before "The Tumor" I had really started to take my prayer life seriously. Before, I prayed, just inconsistently, and usually only in need...mine or others. I began to be convicted of my lack of consistency and bad example to others. I also was convicted of the fact that a true disciple of Christ would want to talk to Him as much as possible...not just when I wanted or need to.

In the past month I have started a prayer journal...requests, then the date they were answered and how...I have also started meeting with an amazing woman once a week and praying for an hour...this is a HUGE step for me. I know it sounds lame to say (but I am SURE there are more of you out there like me) who can count on one hand how many times you have prayed for over an hour straight...Isn't it sad? What happened to the pray without ceasing...or the NEED for a savior, or the WANT to be close to Him? And here I am just living life, only going to Him sporadically...when I want.

The past few weeks have taught me even more about the power of prayer...and added to my already heavy conviction of my lack of use of that power.

I have seen how God has answered prayer...specific prayer.

I have seen how God has answered unspecific prayer.

I have seen God work in areas where there was no prayer given...at least by my knowledge.

He is teaching me so much about me...what I lack...where He is bigger...what I can never do...what He can do in the twinkling of an eye...

I have found that this is not the only area in which I lack...but this is the one I keep coming back to...the one I keep longing to grow in, the one I want to know more about, feel secure in. So I practice...and what better time to practice my prayer life than to have my husband undergo brain surgery!!! See how the Lord works?
OK Cari, you want a practical application section...POP QUIZ time...

Interestingly enough the prayer bone connects directly to the Faith bone. (how many of you did I get to sing the song in your head?!?!?) When we pray according to the will of God.
John 15:7 Says If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
John 14:12-14 Says 12I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
When we pray and do not know God's will...then we have hope, based upon the character of God and can rest in His sovereignty and love, knowing His plan and will are not only greater than ours...but the best.

Yet, what I struggle with the most about prayer is the PRAISE. I rush through the praise part to get to the this-is-what-I-need/want-God,-fix-it part...Do you?

I have been reading through the Psalms a lot lately...do you know how much praise to God those things belt out? A TON!!! Why am I not...why do I struggle? I should have so much to praise Him for I cannot shut up about it. Not just the blessings He has bestowed upon me...which is WAY more than I deserve...but praising Him for... HIM! Just being God should make me spew forth more praise and adoration than I can fathom. God alone inspires praise and honor, glory and power without giving me anything at all...just for being.

So...

I submit to you a challenge. Let us make Tuesdays a day of praise. Let us FOCUS our prayer time on Him...who is worthy of all our praise. Let us Praise Him to Him, to others, in quite...out loud. With verse, with song...with our actions....TUESDAYS OF PRAISE!!!

Are you up for it?

I will start...even though I am aware that it is still Monday...I am sure It will still "count" and I will repeat and make anew tomorrow....

Father, I praise You for Your awesome power...You have shown Yourself to me over and over this past year in new and amazing ways...Your power, sovereignty and holiness have been displayed in my life as never before...You are worthy of all my praise..my life, because you are Holy, you are the Great I Am.

If you care to join me, please do not just post a comment about how you will join me...praise God in your comment so others can read and benefit from our praise to Him...who alone is worthy!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Saturday...

At:


This is what I was doing.....

And there are more gone as of today...or last night...or both. Notice the prominence of the cookies as opposed to the bible...someone is going to have to work on her priorities.

On a different note...Andy is returning to work tomorrow...Please pray for his energy level. He has been getting tired easily just being at home. I know he will be exhausted after going back to work.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Another from the Captain

Why am I typing a post on a Friday night and not out enjoying myself with friends and a good meal you ask...well, because sometimes, we are boring like that. Tonight is just one of those nights. We have been vegging and roaming around the house most of the day...I took a nap, well, because Andy said he was tired. I stayed with him to keep him company for awhile. I awoke 2 hours later all by my lonesome just to find out Andy had done the dishes...again...and his QT and watched some FOX news and ESPN while I slept away the afternoon. LOVELY.

We have another video for y'all. The captain and I would like to say thanks for the continued prayer. He is living, breathing proof of what God can do...and of answered prayer. I asked him not to start the video with a picture of my belly...he complied. The clippity-cloppity noises you hear in the background are footy steps from our dog Bo. Please ignore.


(remember to pause the music at the bottom so you can hear the video)


video

So Andy is cleared for work on Monday!!! I feel like I should swing by the store and pick up some shiny new pencils, a new backpack and some too-white shoes for him...like a little boy going to his first day of school...I am a nerd!

He is just progressing right along! No more OT...a couple weeks of speech left. No more metal...on the outside of his head. Moving around like a champ and laughing and joking almost like his old self. I am So in love with this man.



He mentioned going to see the oncologist. It is basically an apt. just to gather info. If Andy's DNA sample from the tumor comes back the "type A" I mentioned before...he will most likely be put on chemo for a couple of months...the Dr. said this is more of a preemptive strike. If there are any cells of the tumor left, then they respond really well to chemo...that is all.

Well I hope you all have a great weekend! Thanks for the continued prayers. Soon we should have Rigg's room up and being put together...I will post pics when that starts...Also I have just realized the only pictures of my house I am posting to the Internet for the world to see are from my home office...the dirtiest, most unorganized room in our little home. I apologize that you have to view it this way...one day I will clean, pick up and organize...I have had a little much on my plate as of late to really worry about it...until I realized I was broadcasting my filth to the masses...sorry, masses.

I bought a new pack of vanilla Oreo's today...we will see how long they last!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

All over the place

Today has been a day...not necessarily one for "the record books" but a day none the less. I have traveled an emotional roller coaster today. I am up, I am down, I am laughing, I am crying...I am stuck in the blasted thing because of all the ridiculously tasty cookies I have eaten...I mean really who would have guessed that the vanilla Oreo is so addictive?!?

Andy is doing well today, as he has been everyday, thank you very much. He got a super fun eye exam today...eyes dilated and the whole bit...he has some nifty glasses coming his way in about 7-10 business days...WhooHoo.

We go see the Neurosurgeon tomorrow morning to get the dreaded staples out. We have a few questions for him as well. We are still trying to find the right anti-seizure meds that will work for Andy...he has not had any seizures, so the ones he is on are working per se, but he is having mild side effects...ones a guy could live with, but the question remains...does he have to?
Some good news...Andy may have his sights set on his very last, that's right folks I said last, OT session on Thursday evening. His therapist said he does not see the need for Andy to continue...because he is advancing so quickly. The therapist is sending his new updated eval to the Dr. and with his permission...the captain can consider himself graduated!

In other news...I have been following some blogs (why I do this to myself, I will never know) that deal with babies in the hospital fighting for either their life or the privilege of a "normal" one...whatever that means. I have sat and cried over babies and families I have never, or possibly will ever, meet. As you might suspect I have quite a soft spot when it comes to the little ones. I hurt for the mommies of these little blessings...I know the hurt of losing a child. I wish that on no one.

I miss my baby.

I think the past couple of weeks have been so busy, so all-consuming of my mental facilities, which to be honest are at a laughable low, so Andy focused...that I have not had much time to continue my grief for Caden....I think I caught up to it today.

I realized today I am forgetting some of the things about her. Her smell, her soft cheek...the way it felt next to mine. What it felt like to hold her...She has been gone as long as she was here...soon her absence will be longer than her life.

I miss my baby.

As many of you know I am a BSFer ( Bible Study Fellowship). This year we have been studying the life of Moses. It has been a great study...even if Leviticus is right smack dab in the middle of it. I have been reading through Deuteronomy this week. It has me thinking about this past year. Well, the past 8 mo.s, really. What has God been teaching me? Have I learned from it? Am I going to remember...this is the greatest one for me, as I read Moses words to the Israelites...am I going to remember...
I have learned more than I can list here...or possibly even put into words. I am sure as I think about it longer, I will realize more than I have already. But what stands out the most is Gods power and His sovereignty. I cannot wrap my mind around the fact that the God I worship and lay my life before, is the same God who sent down plagues upon Egypt and opened the Red Sea...The Power and might my God has is indescribable...so I will not try. I just sit and oogle at the God I serve, the powerful, mighty, lay-down-His-life-for-me Savior...amazing. His sovereignty is another thing I have learned more about this year...God does what God wills to do. He is in control, no matter what happens. He is never surprised, never taken off guard...never late, never not there. He Is.

But, will I remember?

Don't be silly you say...of course you will...look at all He has done these past 8 mo.s.

I say, let's not be so hasty here, people....Look at everything He did for the Israelites...and they forgot...They saw miracles, they heard Gods voice...all right in front of their faces...and they forgot...they did their own thing. They messed up. If it can happen to them, of all people, It can happen to me...If I am not careful.

I want to remember how God worked in the life and death of my daughter. I want to remember how God never let me fall. I want to remember how he cradled my husbands life in His hands and brought him through...I want to remember...So I write this blog...as a diary of sorts. To document the happenings of our life...and how God worked in it. So when people say, How do you know God is real? I can come back and say, have you heard the story of The Tumor? Caden? Have you heard what He has done for me?

I want to remember...So I pray, specifics, and see those specifics get answered...God is good.

I want to remember...So I read my bible and see what He has said He will do, and I claim those promises for myself...and watch Him do what He says He will do...God is powerful.

I want to remember...So God gave me friends, family, strangers to remind me when I am in need...God is gracious.

I want to remember...He gave me a husband who is a living, breathing example of what He can do...God is the Giver of all good things.

Now that I have taken you hither and beyond, up and down and all around on my roller coaster with me... I will sign off. Not without a THANK YOU for all the prayers. We covet them all.

And really...did ya'll know about the vanilla Oreo's?!?!?!?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I'll take non-malignant brain tumors for 300, Alex.

The news has finally arrived...well, most of it anyway.

The tumor is not malignant...PRAISE JESUS!

They cannot call it Benign either. Let me TRY to explain.

There is evidently a scale for these kind of things.

Benign.........in-between........Malignant

Andy is in the in-between. This means that although his type of tumor cannot be called benign, it is def. not malignant. His has the capacity to become malignant over time. This is not bad news...actually it is not new news. The doc informed us in the hospital that this is most likely the case for most low grade tumors...that although they are not malignant, the longer they grow and mature in the brain, the more likely to become malignant.

So, IT (the tumor) has been sent off for some special DNA testing. This test should come back in a week or so. Basically it will tell us one of 2 things...whether there is further "treatment" that needs to be done or not. If it comes back "type A" than they can give Andy some Chemo treatments to help kill any cells that might remain...and then watch him, well, forever, for regrowth. If it comes back "type B" then they do nothing and watch him forever for regrowth.

So, really this is not bad news...this really is not even new news. We knew he was going to have to be watched...by this I mean scheduled MRI's, EEG's and CT scans....for the rest of his life. The only difference is he might have to take a couple mo.'s of chemo, and if it grows back, it has the capacity to become malignant. ( I think I have said that about 400 times already in this post...sorry)

The tumor has been there for about a year. It's recurrence percentage is about 15%.

I am doing OK with the news, well, actually I am doing fine to good with the news. The Captain is a little disappointed. I have tried, once again, to be a cheerleader and let him know, that really, this is not bad news, and is not all that different from "the best news" one can hear after they have had a tumor dug out of their brain....we are on a good course. God has carried us this far...he is not about to plop us down in the middle of nowhere without some help or guidance. Eyes on the Savior...

Thanks for all the prayers. I promise to keep you updated.

I read that baby Stellan came through surgery! Keep praying for the little guy!

I should have done this earlier

Hey all.

I know so many of you have been praying for me and my family...we value those prayers more than you could ever know...

Now I ask you to pray for this little guy and his family.

Prayers for Stellan


He is in surgery right now. I have been praying for him,his docs and his family all morning...please do the same. if you want to catch up on his story .... go here...http://www.mycharmingkids.net/

God is listening...let us bring this precious baby boy and his family before the throne of grace this morning.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The good, the bad, and the ugly

The good

Today was a good day. Andy is feeling better, and we have been out and about all the live long day.
We dropped off paperwork at the Dr.'s office.
Went and got an ultrasound...baby Rigg is looking good and growing beautifully.
The captain attended his first speech therapy session and did superb. (Last Monday, before we went home from the hospital, the speech lady there made him run a gambit of tests to see where he was...this happened again today, but man, oh, man were the results different. Today he whizzed through some of the things that had stumped him last Monday. Some things are still a bit difficult, but if this is the difference one week makes...I can't wait til next Monday! )
Today is my mom's birthday...Happy Birthday MOM!!
I got an unexpected present from the sweetest people I do not even know. Made me tear up...Thank you, thank you, thank you!
God is answering prayers daily. Just by seeing the progress Andy has made this past week shows me the answer to God mending the pathways of Andy's mind...it is happening, people!

Just to prove I am telling the truth about my wonderful husband...a picture of him washing dishes for me last night...even brain surgery cannot keep a Godly man from serving his wife!




The bad

We have not yet heard anything about the biopsy. It was supposed to come in today...but still, we have to wait. So maybe tomorrow.
Andy is still frustrated and "foggy" as he puts it. This is the thing that bothers him the most. I did ask him if he is as frustrated as he was this time last week...the captain said..."nope"
No new pictures of Rigg because the little squirt had his arms planted firmly in front of his face...I hope this is not a glimpse of behavior to come.
I ate WAY too many cookies today.
I have not done laundry in days.
My favorite blue necklace broke today. I keep finding beads in weird places because it broke while I was wearing it.




The Ugly

I found new stretch marks!!! Really? Now? Sheesh!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hodgepodge

Andy is doing great. I will get another video of him soon...So you can see for yourself, but until then, you'll have to take my word for it.

When he was in the hospital, and even now, I would do my best to try to encourage him about his improvements. You could tell he was frustrated, and wished that he was back to his normal self already, even though it had only been a day or two. This is still a normal occurrence at our house...me trying to be a cheerleader with the Captain rolling his eyes in frustration. The thing that came to mind the first time this happened was a certain scene in the movie The Princess Bride. When Fesick is praising Wesley for wiggling his finger and nodding his head after he has been mostly dead all day. I have attached the youtube video so you can see what I mean. Every time I think about it I snicker...I finally told Andy what was running through my mind. It made him smile, then we started quoting lines from the movie...you gotta love the Captain!

Don't forget to pause the music at the bottom so you can hear the movie.



In other news. I have had a Dr.s appointment. Baby Rigg looks, or rather sounds, great. I am measuring a little big, for all of you who want to know that kind of thing...you can tell just by looking, but the Doc said it, so that makes it official.

The Captain has had one OT (occupational therapy) session. It went very well. He passed many things with flying colors. He and his therapist will work on strength endurance mostly, as well as fine motor skills. He is doing great in the balance and strength in short spurts...An answered prayer!
We are getting him set up for his speech therapy and he should start that on Monday. We should also hear back about the tumor biopsy on Monday.
We have switched him off of one type of anti-seizure medication and onto another one, purely because the first was making him a tish bit cranky. The captain is not an agitated and cranky kind of guy, so we called the doc...the switch has been made, hopefully he will feel better soon.

Specific Prayer Requests...I know you were just waiting for more.
Andy's frustration level with the quickness of his recovery.
His attitude.
The tumor biopsy would come back begin.
Therapy would go well, and Andy would see improvement.
The med change would be a good thing.
All the pathways of the brain would reconnect themselves or the brain would make new ones, so the captain would feel more like himself.
There are a couple of bills/paperwork that have come in the past few days that are going to take a lot of phone time to straighten out...that we would have patience and it would get corrected and smoothed out with little difficulty. He/we do not really need the extra stressors.

Thanks, all, for the prayers. It means more than I can say. I LOVE getting comments. I am a comment watcher....I check all the time. I love the words of encouragement and thoughtful prayers you guys are sending up for us.
THANK YOU!
THANK YOU!
THANK YOU!

(Just in case you were wondering...Andy's favorite quote from The Princess Bride is, "Sleep well and dream of large women." gotta love it!)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Looking back

When we look back, things are so clear.

Nope, I should not have put my new jeans in the dryer...now 1 inch shorter than the fashion OK.
After painting the whole bath room...no, Andy, I am sorry this is just the wrong color.

Even the battles become clear after the dust settles and the screams subside.

The day Caden died we had a choice, looking back, to scream and rant and shake or fist at God, or to cling to our faith in Him and His character. Looking back we had a choice. At the time, I didn't feel like I did...there was only one choice...we chose God. I remember I kept saying over and over in my head, "God is Good. God doesn't change. He was good this morning...He is still good." I had to tell myself these things because they were and are true, but not necessarily how I was feeling.

I once had a very wise women say, if you can make God the center of small easy choices, than when it comes to the hard ones, God is the only answer. This is, I suppose, where Andy and I were the day Caden passed. We were already in the center of the storm with God.

It was hard, and days and weeks that followed were one faith based choice after another. We reminded each other of Gods word and who He is. We had to cling to what we knew to be true and not where our emotions would lead us.

It seems we are on a similar road today. The battles are up ahead, some behind, but we keep reminding each other who has won the war.
Each day this past week and a half has presented many occasions where either the Captain, or myself could have thrown up the white flag, we could have said, nope, I am tired, I have had enough. However, to be completely honest, I have not even felt the need to do so. I know in my head, this past week has been what would be defined as a "crisis" by many...but I have not felt like I am in one, or that I am in crisis mode. Most of this is due to all the prayers and Gods peace. Some of it, I think, is due to the fact that I have been in a "crisis" before and that time...I came out of it with severe wounds...in this battle, scratches and sleep deprivation...but I still have my Captain, and of course, my Shepherd.

I had a down day last week...I think I mentioned you were seeing me in a weak moment. At one point I was talking on the phone to my friend Stacey, and I remember saying " I am tired of it being me." That is still true. But I have since re-evaluated, as long as it is me...I will try not to complain.
You see, Andy was in the hospital over Easter. On Easter Sunday I sat next to his bed while he slept and read the crucifixion and resurrection story in all four gospels. I decided then, that if God himself would die for me...I would do anything for Him...give Him my daughter, let go of the Captain and bow to His decision of a brain tumor, let my unborn child rest in His hands, give my future to Him...whatever the cost.

It is still an every day, no, and every choice, battle. I have to remind myself what Gods word, His truth, and His will are.

He died for me... I will live for Him.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Captain

I know there are a ton of people praying for us. Some of you know us, some of you do not. This post is for both, but for different reasons. If you know us, you know Andy. You will like this post because, well, you like him. If you do not know Andy, you will like this post because you can get to know him better.

I call Andy Captain. It started out as a nickname given to him by a friend in which he was called Captain Andy Pants...I have since then shortened it to a much more manly version of Captain.

Let me begin by saying he is the best thing that has happened to me. He is my superman...and he is proving it more and more each passing day. For those of you who do not know Andy, the first thing you should know is, he is selfless. He is always doing something for others. I have not cleaned a bathroom since we have been married...and ours is always clean. He does dishes when he sees they need done. I never take out trash, or fill up the gas tank, or hardly ever feed the dog...not because I can't, but because I never get the chance. If you live with the Captain, these things are always done. He is a servant, and therefore the person I value and respect the most. He loves me more than I deserve, he is patient with me ( if you know me...that takes some effort :)) and always puts me first. He is above all else a Godly man. His character is what drew me to him and it is his character that keeps me smitten. He is always more worried about me than himself...when we found out about his tumor, I asked him if he was scared, he said only for me. What a guy, huh? When I got to see him after his surgery, he was having a hard time coming out of the anesthetic. I would say his name loudly to get him to open his eyes...it didn't really work. I sat a cried for a little bit, and I whispered " I don't like this." As soon as the words were out of my mouth, his eyes popped open and he looked straight at me...He didn't last long, but that of all things is what got his attention.

He is a "big guy". He is over 6 foot and built like a linebacker. I did mention he is my superman, right? He LOVES sports. All kinds, but especially basketball and football. He is an excellent athlete and is quite the baller. He loves his basketball shorts and T-shirts. Jeans are a little too dressy most of the time. :) He can chat IU basketball for hours. He can quote more sports stats than I have even bothered to read in my lifetime.

He is a man of God's word. He does a quiet time daily. He memorizes scripture. He reads and meditates on God's word. He loves to debate theology, but in the end, says if it is not a salvation issue...it probably does not matter.

He was and is a good father. Watching him play and love on his daughter are some of my sweetest memories. He loved her So much. He called her "So Pretty". He would come home from work and say " Hey, So pretty! I missed you today." She would look at him like he was the most wonderful thing she had seen all day...He is going to be a great dad to a little boy...I just know it.

As for Andy "the friend" ...I know he is respected and loved by his friends. He has many. Some since he was 3 or younger. They are still close. Friends that can get together to play ball, chat about anything, even cry together over the death of his precious Caden...good Godly friends. We are so very blessed.

He loves to laugh and play games. But mostly, if you ask him he will say he loves to hang out with me...how did I get so lucky? This, people is my Captain. Thank you for praying for him and loving him...even if you might not know him. Please keep it up...God is answering your prayers in mighty ways.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

From the man himself

OK folks, I have what everyone wants...No silly, not that!

A video of Andy!!!! Just so you can see for yourself how well he is doing. I am sorry about the ginormous pregnant belly he filmed at the beginning...please ignore.

video

As for some other things. A comment on my last post asked about my daughter Caden. Here is the latest update...and I do men latest. I just got off the phone with IU/Riley med center this afternoon.

My daughter had been sick with a fever for 3 days. On the 4th day she had no fever, but was still not feeling well. Andy and I took her to the Dr. who said she was getting over a viral infection and she would be fine. 3:30 that afternoon she went into a seizure and never came out of it. Up until now we do not know what caused her death. We now have an apt. on April 30th to speak with some Dr.'s who have been further looking into her death. I do not believe they have an exact cause, but are erring on the side of caution for the baby I am now pregnant with, by meeting with us. We will know more after the 30th.

I am also thinking about changing my blog background...I changed it after Caden passed, I think a brain tumor and brain surgery call for another change. If you check back and I look different...no worries, just up for a new look.

Thanks again for the prayers. God has been so good to us.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Jiggity Jig

Well, Home again, home again. This time, I brought my husband with me.

It was another long day in the hospital. Andy saw physical, occupational and speech therapists today.

He passed the physical therapy with flying colors. He walked 4 laps around the floor and did all of his arm, leg and strength movements just fine, thank you very much.

His occupational therapist was wonderful. She had him sweating he was working so hard. She had him do exercises with a band for strength and control in his right arm, as well as play-doh-type stuff for his fine motor skills in his hand. He also grabbed pen and put it to paper to write his name and a few sentences and draw some pretty pictures. He did well, but she recommends some ongoing therapy to help with the fine tuning of his motor skills. We did come home with the band and the play-doh stuff to use in homework assignments.

The speech therapist was the most difficult for Andy. He is speaking fine, it is the process behind the actual talking that is jumbled. He is having some difficulty with problem solving skills. The Dr. says he is not worried about it, most of it is due to swelling in the surgery site and will continue to improve. He is also scheduled for some followup therapy with a speech therapist.

We are scheduled to go get his staples out in about 10 days from today. If he is doing this well in 3 days, I cannot wait to see what 10 days from now holds...KEEP PRAYING!!

I am not sure what the next few days are going to look like. He doesn't need much care, but I still find myself hovering over him and pestering him with questions. I need to find the perfect balance between caregiver/wife/friend....it is a difficult line to find.

He has showered dressed and eaten dinner. He looks tired, but is reclining on the sofa watching baseball. Ahhh, his love for sports has not changed.

Praise to God for all the answered prayers of this week. So many specific ones were answered. From the success of the surgery, removal of the tumor, to Andy's movement improving...such wonderful news and the mercy of God.

Keep praying for Andy's attitude and perseverance through this trying time. He is going to have to do some hard work the next couple of weeks. Pray for continued improvement in his gross and fine motor skills on his right side...strength in his arm, as well as movement of hand and fingers so it is easier to write and grab and eventually type. Pray for his speech. That his mind will find new pathways, or repair the old ones, for the thoughts to come out properly. That his problem solving skills would improve and he would notice the improvement.

God is good, folks. Let us always remember this. even in times of trouble, He is in control and reigning from on High. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A long time between posts

Sorry all, I had no computer at the hospital today...so you had to wait awhile for the update.

Your waiting has paid off...it is good news.

I was awakened at 2 am this morning to a phone call from my sister-in-law who was staying with Andy last night. Andy was heading down for an emergency CT scan. (remember...I have good news) This was because the nurse called Andy's Dr. and said he was not moving his right side as well as he had been previously. The Doc ordered the scan. 25 min later Elizabeth called again...the scan was fine. 15 min. later she called again...well they might have seen some blood, but it could just be seepage (such a gross word) from the surgical site...nothing to worry about. The Dr. will see him in the morning. I asked if Andy wanted me to come in...he said no. I tried to sleep...I got up a little after 5 and was at the hospital a little after 6. I got home 10 min ago.

OK, back to Andy. He has minimal pain, although his shoulder hurts...we, meaning the medical staff and his Dr., have no idea why, but they are watching it. He sat up and ate his breakfast WITH HIS RIGHT HAND (praise GOD!). Is he eating well? you ask. Well for breakfast he had a cheese omelet, 2 buttermilk pancakes, home fries and a fruit cup. Plus 2 cups of coffee and 2 glasses of juice....I think he is eating just fine.

He walked laps around the nurses station today as well as got up and sat in a chair for some time. He took 2 really good naps and says he feels really good, for having someone root around in his brain.

We saw the Doc today. We really like him. He said he didn't expect Andy's limited ability to talk and use of his right side, but he is not alarmed by it. He gave some very long technical jargon which ended in syndrome, and said many brain surgery patients get it. Andy will heal completely, it just might take up to 2-3 weeks. He said he was sure Andy would have perfect speech by the time he took the staples out. 10 -14 days after surgery. (yet, he is a man, and not God, so we will be patient and see.) The important thing to remember is Andy is speaking...even if he is frustrated and it is limited, and he is moving his right side...even though it is difficult. Both functions are improving each day. Andy said 10-12 SENTENCES today (in response to the nurse offering scrub pants, Andy said "my wife has basketball shorts in the car for me."), plus 1-2 word answers. I have asked him to use yes and no instead of shaking his head and he is using his right arm on his own without being asked. The Dr. said he is going to have to work, sometimes hard, to help the brain get back on track.

PRAISE GOD for all the good news.

Thank you for your continued prayer. Please keep it up. Pray for Andy's frustration level, that his motor and speech skills would continue to improve. That I would not annoy the heck out of him trying to get info out of him. For all of our rest. For what it will look like when we come home. And anything else you can think of.

Thank you for all of your comments. I have read them all. They are so encouraging. To all who have gone through this before...I praise God for you and thank Him for your words of encouragement and wisdom.

I told Andy this morning, one day we will be the ones who visit someone else in a sticky spot...when we do, we will remind them of all the things you all are reminding us. I thank God for you and your prayers...we could not get through this with out the love of family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, prayers and most importantly our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

He is Risen!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Another long day

I am home, and once again wishing I could stay with him. I know he wishes I could stay too. I could see it in his eyes. Yet, we both know I should be home to sleep so I can get rest for me and Rigg.

There is lots of good news...all of which you know by now. He is awake, although, he gets sleepy very easily. He has eaten. He can speak and use his right side. Praise God for all the answered prayers.

Yet, I am a bit down tonight. Maybe it is all the weight of the past few days catching up to me, or maybe it is Satan...maybe both.
I just wish Andy would be better instantly. It is hard to watch him struggle and be frustrated. It takes so much effort to move his arm and hand. It takes just as much to speak. He informed me it is hard to answer the complicated questions because it is hard to string all the words together and get them out. It is hard not to be a little disappointed. I know I should be elated by all the progress and good news...but I want my Andy. You are officially witnessing a weak moment here folks...exhaustion probably plays a roll.

I know I need to be patient. I have to verbally tell myself to trust in the Lord. Wait on the Lord. His timing is better than mine. God is working.

But what about NOW? Can he do all that right NOW?

yes He can, but He will do whatever He wills to do.

I know, but I don't like it.

I know too the Dr. has said it can take a few days...maybe weeks. Who knows what is really going on inside Andy's body and brain.

God does.

You see I am trying to encourage myself and I get to going round in circles....I am already tired without being dizzy too.
Tomorrow is Easter. While you worship and praise God for His son and the work He did on the cross, please remember us. And as far as our side of the deal, we will remember Christ and how truly blessed we are to be called children of God. This life and it's trials are temporary, but His Kingdom and Word last forever...I am thankful to be a part of the eternal Kingdom of Christ.

Pray for Andy's recovery. Especially his frustration level. I suppose you can add me to your prayer list and pray for my stress level and patience as well as trust in Him who makes all things new.

Lord, change my heart to be like yours. Please, come quickly.

p.s. Anyone who would like to post about my family, post a link to my blog or ask for prayer on my behalf need not ask...it is a favor to me if you do.

He is sitting up!!!!

well, not right now, but he was earlier, until he fell asleep mid sentence and they put him back in bed. But for at least 45 min he was wide awake and sitting up. He is moving his right leg and right arm on his own without being forced to, although you can tell it causes him much strain and frustration. This is a vast improvement from even this morning. The Dr. said it could take days for his motor skills in his right side to catch up and not to panic...so I shared this info with him earlier today...he was still frustrated. He fed himself ice cream, with his right hand, and ate and drank a few things, then he started to fall asleep...this is what he is doing now...sleeping. His heart rate is still slightly elevated, and we are still in the ICU. He is speaking more on his own. He says his throat hurts and this is why he is not talking. When he really wants something, or is being tested he speaks fine.

I am doing well. Seeing him improve slowly today has me in good spirits and gives me hope for tomorrow. I think we might be here til Monday but we will not know for certain until later.
Andy's MRI results have not come back yet,or is they have I have not heard about them. The nurse says this is good news, if there was a complication then they would have called immediately. So keep praying.

Can I just tell ya folks that prayers have been answered. Specific prayers answered in the manner in the way we asked.

Andy is out of surgery and awake.The navigating system worked perfectly during surgery.
The Dr. thinks he got all of the tumor.
Andy is less groggy and coming out of the meds.
He is moving his right side better with each check.
He is speaking on his own, not just when forced to.
As well as others I cannot think of right now.

I look at that list and get so encouraged and just want to praise God for all His blessings these past days/hours.

Let us continue to worship the Healer and petition for Andy in these next few days. I will keep updating with praises and specific prayer requests so we can keep seeing the Lord work.

A New Day

Andy is doing better today. I came in about 8. (showered and well rested. I think I got about 7 hours.) He was more awake than when I left last night. He is still VERY tired and groggy, but able to keep his eyes open if he needs to.The Dr. came in this morning. He took Andy's bandage off and looked at the incision. He ran a few nuero tests. Andy can now raise both hands in the air, flip palms up and down. hold up fingers on his right hand (like when asked to give 2 fingers) and wiggle his toes and kick his leg on his right side. It is still much weaker than his left side but it is improving gradually. He said morning, I love you and yes to me this morning when I came in and we were talking. His throat hurts, this is why he is refraining from talking, but he can talk. He said the sentence "no if's, and's or but's." for the Dr. this morning and the Dr. said if he can say that..then he can say anything.His heartbeat is a little high...nothing to be alarmed about, but still higher than normal. They had him pumped full of steroids, so the Dr. thinks his body is compensating....they are going to lower the dose and see. If it stays under 100 for over an hour, they may move him out of ICU later today. He just left for an MRI a few min ago.Prayer for the heartrate, and his groggyness would be specifics this morning. As well as a gradual recovery and no complications or backsliding. Pray the MRI shows only good news.

Thank you for the prayers of rest for me last night. I slept well. I still woke every few hours, and when I did the song Mighty to Save was running through my head. He is mighty to save...it was a good reminder in the groggyness of sleep. As well as a verse about trusting in the Lord....so I sang and quoted scripture when I was not sleeping....

I will try to keep you as updated as possible throughout today, Please continue to pray. We are "out of the woods" as they say, but we still have "miles to go before we sleep."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Before I fall over from exhaustion

I am tired...TIRED.
I am home, just got here and feel very guilty I am not at Andy's bedside. I know there is nothing I can do but stare at him...like that is doing any good...and I need my rest. if not for me, for Rigg. So here I am. This has been the hardest part of the day...trusting God to take care of him overnight while I am away.

Easier said than done.

Wait on the Lord...Trust.

I am trying. But I had to force myself.

It was very hard to see Andy after his surgery. He is still not shaken the "knock-out" meds. He is very groggy and when we saw him earlier he was not moving the right side of his body or talking. Since then they have given him a CT scan (came back great) and his Dr. came back to check him.
He passed with flying colors...well, sorts. He griped with his right hand, held u 2 fingers with is right hand and wiggled his right toes. He also raised his right leg and whispered his name.

It is so hard to see such a big guy, a strong guy, my superman...so weak and incoherent. I sat in his room and cried for awhile. I think it was the relief as well as the reality of it all setting in. We have hit the ground running and been living warp speed since Tuesday morning. This was the first time I have to process everything that is going on.

I want to walk into his room and have him sit up and chat with me...and it takes a lot of effort to even get him to open his eyes.

Patience.

Wait.

Trust.

NOT EASY!!!!

Please continue to pray...by the way, INCREDIBLY overwhelmed by the number of comments and people praying. We are so blessed....but now that I have your attention....let us continue to petition the Lord on High with requests. Let's be specific and use scripture...what God has already said, we can count as done.

Specifically you can pray that Andy's recovery would continue to progress. That he would shake the "knock-out" meds and wake up. That he would continue to gain strength in his right side and would start to speak.
That all throughout he night God would cradle Andy and watch over him.
That I would be calm and peaceful and be able to sleep, for me and the baby.

Thank you so much brothers and sisters in Christ...one day I will get to thank you face to face. But until that day, let us join together as one body and worship the Lord.

Update On Andy

Andy is out of surgery and doing well. The Dr. said the navigation system worked perfectly and they were able to remove all of the tumor. (they think) The Dr. said he would call it a gross total resection. He sent samples to IU and we should know more in a couple weeks. Andy will get his staples out in 10 -14 days as well as have a head CT in the morning an an MRI within 24 hours.
He is waking up. His left side is moving fine but his right side is a little weak. The Dr. said not to worry or panic, sometimes just working in that area stuns the brain and it will take awhile for it to catch up....maybe a couple of days. So please pray that the right side of Andy's body catches up in movement and strength so no therapy would be necessary. As well as his speech would be fine...he understands everything the Dr. is saying but is not talking himself...pray for that too.

I have not been able to see him yet, but hopefully will be able to in an hour or so. He is being preped to be moved to ICU.

More later.

Andy's surgery update

Alright internet...here is the scoop.
Andy and I woke up this morning about 5. He slept very well, I know because I watched him. Do not worry, I will sleep later.
He is doing well, just a little nervous. I could tell because he was chattier than normal. They took him for his MRI about 7. He asked for some sedation(because he hates the MRI) they said it was too late...it would not start to work until he as almost done. So, he sucked it up became very brave and went in with no sedation. They did give him some cool goggles to wear and watch some ESPN. He said that makes it tolerable.
He was in good spirits, quite calm, which I chalk up to so much prayer. Last night we had a prayer meeting at church. About 70 -80 people showed up for over and hour of prayer specifically for Andy and they surgery today....It was so encouraging.
So they finally took him away for surgery about 9:15 or 9:30ish. They say about 3 hours or so.
Please continue to pray. For specifics scroll down to my previous post and read them there. Today will be long, but I will try to update as much as possible.
later gators.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Info and prayer

OK folks.

News, not hot off the presses, but off of them just the same.

If you already know this, just skim and pray and leave a comment if you wanna.

Andy has a brain tumor located of the left side toward the frontal lobe.
He is going to have brain surgery Friday.
An MRI is scheduled for 6 am with surgery following at 9 am.
After surgery he will be in ICU for at least 24 hours.
If all goes well in ICU he will then be transferred to a normal room for another 24 hours.
If he is responding normally and doing well, he will be sent home.
Check ups in a week or 2. Then routine follow-up appointments at intervals of 3 months to 6 months.
Andy is not able to drive for the next few months (we have heard everything for 3 mo. to a year)
He will be on anti-seizure meds for 9 mo to forever...

Specific prayer requests are:
Since the tumor looks like brain matter...that they are able to get all of the tumor and none of his brain.
That they miss any close sections of brain ( a motor strip that controls the right side of his body as well as a section that controls speech.)
The Dr.'s would be well rested and alert.
The equipment would be working well ( most of the surgery depends on a computer)
The recovery would be excellent so we could go home soon. (Andy hates the hospital and says "it makes me feel like a caged rat to be here.")
There would be no need for physical therapy of any kind when we are done.
Peace of mind for me and my family(s)


If you have verses that you are applying to any of these requests I wold love to know what they are.
Thank you all for your prayers and requests to help. I love you. I am so very blessed. I am in need of nothing, but if I am I PROMISE to call one of the 12,957 people who asked to help.

more later.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The tumor

OK, so it was bad news. A brain tumor...

Shall I start at the beginning?

I woke this morning to an earthquake....well, OK, so it wasn't an earthquake, it only felt like one. My husband is a big guy. So I guess it goes to prove if a big guy goes into a seizure he will shake the wahozits (it's a word...to me!) out of the bed. And that is just what happened. Andy was seizing and it was so intense it woke me up. I dove over him, stuck my fingers in his mouth to make sure he was not trying to swallow his tongue ( I have already been informed by a nurse not to stick my fingers in a seizing persons mouth again) when he clamped down hard on them. When I finally got my fingers out of his mouth I called 911.
EMT's and other important medical people arrived in time to help me gain composure and we loaded him up and to the hospital we went. It was a scary few min. Caden never came out of her seizure, so when Andy finally replied to my screams and prodding, I almost collapsed in relief. It took him a full half an hour to fully become the Andy we all know and love. By this time we were firmly planted in the ER...this was 6 am.
They took some blood, scheduled an MRI and whisked him away to the metal tube of doom...(he is very claustrophobic) I went out to the waiting room with all who awaited there. When he was finished with the testing, they admitted him and sent him to a private room for the remainder of his stay.
About lunch time is when we got the news. The MRI showed a very large mass at the front left part of his brain. The neurosurgeon will see us around 5.
We waited until 5...with some friends and family and all the calls to those not able to be there.
Dr. S. came in and told us the best news that can follow the worst news. A brain tumor that is (highly) probably not malignant in a very operable position. Surgery and some meds and we could have a great outcome.
Most people who get these types of tumors have one surgery and that is that...life as normal. The one tricky thing is that this type of tumor looks just like brain matter....so although the position of the tumor is good and the Dr is great...there is a risk of not getting it all. If they do not get it all, it could grow back and potentially become malignant.

PLEASE PRAY. I think we might have a couple of days at home before the surgery which is temp. scheduled for Friday. We will know a def. time and date tomorrow.

Pray that they are able to get all of the tumor.
That it is a quick and routine surgery.
For Andy' peace of mind...he hates MRI's and he has to get another one.
Pray for the Dr.'s and nurses.
For my family, peace, comfort and acceptance of Gods will.

I am sorry for the brisk and impersonal feel of this post...I wanted to get the info out...but the day has been long and I am tired. I feel like one of those people who try to balance on the logs rolling them down the river...very off kilter.
Mentally we are doing well. Andy is such an example of a Godly man...I have the most wonderful husband.
I will keep you all posted as best I can.
Pray
Pray
Pray

Lord come quickly

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

In which I sit on the cold hardwood floor and cry like a hormonal pregnant lady

There is quite a bit going on in the Chastain household at the moment. Some of it is small projects that need to get done before Rigg graces us with his presence. Some of it is emotional turmoil and some of it is new everyday tasks.

Please tell us more, you say...well OK. I am nice like that.

Emotional turmoil...well that is an ever-changing yet always the same daily mix of missing Caden and looking forward to Rigg. And everything that falls in between.

New everydays tasks...I am currently watching my baby cousin (who is sweet as can be, and an angel most of the time) 5 days a week. My sister is recently engaged and Mom and I are helping her with the wedding. And I am starting to do housework regularly again (a huge relief to my wonderful husband, who only asked me a few times what I do with my time all day :)) The housework thing was a huge hurtle after Caden died. I can't explain exactly why, there are a lot of reasons, but it was SO hard.

I have an ever growing list of small projects.
I have pillows to make for Riggs room (big floor ones)
I need to purchase the fabric for said pillows...then sew them up.
I have to go buy fabric for a crib skirt...tailored white crib skirts do not exist in Indy outside of pottery barn kids for $50!!! Seriously!
I have a little black table to sand down and paint.
The hallway needs another paint treatment, and a dandelion (really a big cool white vinyl dandelion!)
I have a nursery that needs painted.
Before I can paint the nursery, I have to move the armoire (I am spelling this wrong) out (7 feet by 4 feet by 2 feet)
I have to buy wood to make 2 more shelves for the armoire
I have to purchase new shelves for the inside of the master bedroom closet because...
We need to move all kinds of stuff (clothes!!!) around to make more room for all of our existing stuff. (we officially have too much stuff for a house built in 1941, which was meant for a more simple time in which people didn't own the amount of junk that we now possess.)

So to make this all work, we were going to move the armoire into our bedroom (it is bigger than our dresser) and move our dresser to the basement and store out-of-season clothes in it.

Richard, in all his helpfulness, came up to help Andy move the monster piece of furniture...really folks, it is like 300 pounds or something. EMPTY!
Anyway, long story short....our house is too small and the blasted piece of furniture too big to turn a corner in my hallway...So it cannot go in the bedroom. It is now residing in the exact spot it has been residing for the past year and a half...Just where I do not want it.

This was going to be the start of all the moving, the shifting, the start of getting things in order for the new baby. Of getting the massive heap of Rigg stuff I have out of my office (remember the picture?)

And it didn't work.

Bye Richard...thanks for the help. No Andy, I know, it is OK...Not your fault. It will be fine, I will figure out where I want it...

And then what do I do?

I sit down in the middle of my hallway, on the cold hardwood floor and cry...just like the emotional, hormonal pregnant lady I am.

I do not usually cry over stupid stuff....and this was stupid. STUPID!
Andy came over and sat with me on the cold hardwood floor in the middle of the hallway.
What's wrong?
nothing...everything...nothing...stupid,blasted armoire.
You miss Caden?
yes

Hugging and crying in the hallway. On the floor.

Andy "let's go get Ice cream."
Me "Stupid, blasted armoire."