Friday, July 29, 2005

Part VI

So I ate. A lot. Of everything.

I knew I was going to be fine, so I didn't pace myself. It had been so long that I could eat anything without dreading the effects that it would soon have on me, so I enjoyed every second of it. My first trip was to Red Lobster (yes, even after all of that fish!). I ate crab and cheddar bay biscuits and I had a salad! Vegetables tasted soooo good! And guess what? I didn't get sick! More proof that my faith was good enough! I was actually able to go for a couple of weeks without any serious problems. I got sick once or twice, but holy cow! Twice in two weeks I could handle!

One night a couple of weeks after our return from Iowa I was at my fiance's grandmother's house. I hadn't been feeling right all night long and I wanted him to take me home. Before we could get away from her house, I started having pains again. The same kind of pains that I had in Iowa when I went to the ER. They weren't quite as bad this time, but it was rough. I got home, laid down, and my dad, for lack of knowing what else to do, gave me an ammonia inhalent (my family is a huge believer in these things--they'll get rid of nausea so fast you'd think it was a miracle!). It actually worked. My mom got on the phone and called our family physician at home, asking him what she should do. He called me in a Rx for phenergran and told me to come in to see him in the morning.

The next morning, I went in to see the doc, and asked him if he would order an ultrasound for me to check my gallbladder. He wouldn't do it. He echoed the same words of the ER doc, saying that I was too young to be having problems with my gallbladder. Instead, he pushed around on my stomach (yowsers! I didn't realize it was so sore to the touch!) and diagnosed me with a nervous stomach. (Huh!?) He said that my stomach was literally in knots that needed to be worked out via alternative methods of health care. He then had me come in three times a week and he would have me lay on my back and grab one leg at a time and move them around all funny. I'm glad I'm flexible. My knee would be at my head, and then my leg would be moving around in circles really quickly. It was really weird, and it hurt, but I wasn't having any other issues with my assumed gallbladder pain, so I was okay with it.

Later on in the summer, we took a family vacation down to Gulf Shores, Alabama. We had made this trip many, many, many times before and we always drive. We had followed our normal routine of leaving at around 3am and stopping outside of Birmingham for breakfast at Cracker Barrel. After breakfast it hit me again. Luckily, my dad has some ammonia inhalents in the car (I told you we were a firm believer in these things) and it went away. It led to a very tense "vacation." I had to always make sure that the inhalents were with me and my parents were always worried about when it would hit me next.

I started having some faith issues. I was wondering why, if God said that He would heal me, He wouldn't heal me. I didn't doubt Him, but I was wondering what in the heck I had done to deserve this. I wasn't very vocal about these issues, but they were there. I kept trying to rationalize saying, "He has a plan," but that doesn't do too much to answer the question about why I'm not good enough for healing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A Bit Delayed

If it's not one thing, it's another.

I was rear-ended on my way to work this morning. Hard.

I've got whiplash and pain in my right shoulder and down into my back. I've decided to undergo chiropractic care (like I have the other 2 times I've had whiplash), but I have to say that this is probably the worse it's ever been.

The lady from the body shop where we took Rick's car called today to say that his car was ready to be picked up. We told them that we would just wait until tomorrow and drop mine off to them when we picked up his car. *sigh*

I feel terrible for the lady who hit me. I thought she was seriously injured. I jumped right out of my car, and tried to bust my way into hers before she was able to unlock a door so I could get to her. She just kept crying and saying something about chemotherapy and how she was so sorry. I was finally able to calm her down a little bit and have her move her car to the side of the road. She said that she had been driving in the US for 28 years (she was Indian) and that she had never hurt anyone. I assured her that it's just a car and that it could be fixed. I kept asking her if I needed to call her an ambulance, and she said no. Her back and neck were hurting, too. She said that she didn't want to go to the doctor because she had been in and out of many doctor's offices in the last 2 months going through chemo treatments. She just finished her last one last week, had two days off from work, and was on her way to the court house to update the tags on her car. I shared with her that I completely understood the doctor thing because I had a liver transplant just over a year ago. I pray I showed her empathy. She called her son and he was able to come out and sit with us while we waited on the police to come and file a report. He was a very nice guy about my age. I'm glad he was able to come. She had a look of relief sweep over when she saw his truck pull up.

It's strange the situations that God puts us in sometimes. Pray for this lady, will you? I don't know if you know much about the Indian culture, but women are extremely submissive to their husbands, and this lady shared with me that she was afraid to tell her husband about the accident. I in no way think that indicates abuse of any kind, but it is just a lot of stress on a woman who has apparantly been through a lot of trauma in the last year. She was afraid of totalling her car, which I believe she did. I hope that this doesn't hurt their family too much financially.

Anyway, more on my "faith walk" or whatever you want to call it tomorrow or Thursday. I need to take some ibuprofen.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Part V

Summer

I had not been to the doctor my entire freshman year, so I went by the nurses' office at Lipscomb to find a good one. She recommended a doctor in Brentwood, so I called to make sure they would accept my health insurance and made an appointment.

I couldn't get in with a doctor, so I saw a nurse practioner. She ran lots of tests, all to no avail. She had no idea what was wrong with me, so she wanted me to find a specialist.

It was near the end of the school year, so I knew it would be better for me to find someone at home (in Kentucky). My grandfather (the one that I have talked about previously) had a lot of GI problems before his death, and had a wonderful doctor that really loved and cared for him deeply. There was no issue in finding a gastroenterologist. I knew who I would go see.

I made my appointment with Dr. Fisher and was in to see him quickly. We had a nice chat about my grandpa, about how much we missed him, and about my grandmother and how she was handling his death. I told him of my symptoms, and he decided he would run some tests to check for bacterial or viral infections and Chrone's Disease. All came back negative. He decided (I believe at a loss for knowing what else it could be) to diagnose me with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). I thought this was a farse, but I took the meds he prescribed, anyway.

The pills worked for about a week. Actually, they completely constipated me for about a week. Then they quit working. I got worse. Instead of just "going" after meals, it was 5-6 times/day. Something was seriously wrong.

I called the good doctor again and spoke to his nurse. She had me increase my dose to double what I was currently taking. Again, it constipated me for about a week, and then stopped working.

I gave up after that. I didn't call back. I just quit taking the pills. It was time to go on my yearly mission trip, anyway, and I didn't have time to make any more doctors appointments.

This was the same type of mission trip that I described in an earlier post. We traveled up to Cedar Rapids, IA to work on homes for people with disabilities and lower incomes who could either not afford to have the work done, or could not do the work themselves. My sister, (we had not been on a mission trip without one another), my finace' (at the time), and my mom (who had never been on a mission trip before) all went with our church youth group.

On these trips, we are sponsored by the township and by various churches in the area. Each youth group is broken up and mixed in with different youth groups from across the country and we are sent out to work on projects. Each team is sponsored by a specific congregation, and it is the job of said congregation to bring the team lunch every day. I informed our congregation of my special diet needs, and they were more than happy to bring me a simple turkey sub (no cheese) every day. We were staying in a school, and, each night, the cafeteria workers would fix us dinner. It was rare that they had anything that I could eat, so, I would wait until everyone else had finished their dinner and my youth minister would pack me and several others into the church van to take me to McDonalds to get a fish sandwich, and everyone else to Wal-Mart to shop or just mess around until time for nightly devo. I would usually sit in the van by myself and eat while everyone else went in to Wal-Mart.

The week was going great. We met some really cool people and really enjoying the whole mission experience. When Friday rolled around, our church brought us lunch. Something "different" this time. They wanted to get me something besides a turkey sandwich, since the rest of the group was munching on pizza instead of sandwiches, so they brought me a chicken sub. It was a nice thought, but I knew I wouldn't be able to eat it. But I was starving....and they decided to hang out with us and get to know us a little better while we ate....so I didn't really have a choice.

I paid for it, but it was different this time. I immediately didn't feel well. One of the men and his wife from the church took me back to the school. I didn't even have time to take a shower and get the roofing tar out of my hair. I collapsed on the steps in the school leading up to the room where we were staying. I started having the most intense pain in my abdomen that I have ever had. It would come, I would double over in pain, crouched in the fetal position, and then it would subside. Then it would hit again. I was crying. The guy who was preaching for us that week, Rob, saw me and asked me who to call. I told him that my mom was on the trip, and it just-so-happened that her group had finished their project early and she was on her way up from the showers to our room. He ran to get her and we decided that I needed to go to the ER. Now. So, a couple of the adults kind of carried me out to a church van and someone drove us to the ER.

They got me back to the ER pretty quickly. My mom had this nagging feeling that it was my gallbladder. Several of my relatives on her side of the family had their gallbladders removed, and I knew it was possible for teenagers to have this problem because I had a couple of friends who had their gallbladders removed. The doc in the ER was sure it wasn't.

Him: You're too young.
Me: But it runs in my family!
Him: Nah. That's not what it is. We'll just give you this GI cocktail and that'll take care of it.
Mom: Can't you at least do an ultrasound or something just to make sure? Our insurance will pay for it.
Him: She's too young. I don't know what it is, but it's not her gallbladder.

So the nurse came in with this paper cup full of this puke-green colored liquid. It smelled disgusting and it tasted even worse. I was still in pain. She told me that it was full of all kinds of different medicines ending in the letters -cane, which translated meant that I would drink it and it would numb my GI track...including my mouth. It worked for the pain, but it didn't solve my problem.

That night, during the worship service, my entire body broke out in hives. I was itching like crazy. I got my mom and my youth minister's attention and we walked out to the back of the auditorium so I could show them what was going on. We didn't know what to do. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I figured it was a reaction to something in the GI cocktail. Randy (my youth minister) grabbed my hand and dragged me down to the front of the auditorium where Rob was standing. He said, "Rob, pray for her. Now." So Rob stopped all of the singing and prayed over me for healing.

I was confident it was going to work. I knew what Jesus said about having faith the size of a mustard seed and how that small amount of faith could move mountains. My faith was bigger than that, and I sure as heck wasn't trying to move a mountain. All I wanted was to be able to eat anything I wanted without having to suffer because of it. I wanted my rash to go away, and I sure didn't want to go through the pain that I had gone through earlier that day.

I knew I was healed.

Friday, July 22, 2005

I've Been TAGGED!

Thanks a lot, Jana!


Book Tag

1. How many books have I owned?

Too many to count. When I was in college, I discovered Davis Kidd. I would buy $50-60 worth of books every time I went into that blasted store! I have since learned that I cannot walk into a bookstore without breaking the bank, so I don't go unless I either have extra cash to spend on books, a gift card (which I always end up over-spending), or unless I have something specific that I have to get (which means that I always pick up one or two other things while I'm in there).

2. What was the last book you bought?

It's been a while since I've been in a book store. Let me see if I can dredge up some old memory of the last time I bought a book.......My sister bought me The Chronicles of Narnia (the complete series), and I last bought a GRE study guide (does that count??) and Thomas Merton's auto/biography (haven't read it yet) and some other book about a girl who was raised an orthodox Jew and then converted to Christianity.....I don't remember the name of that one, but I did read it soon after I bought it. (See! I told you I couldn't go in and buy just one book!)

3. What was the last book you read?

There are two that I was reading at the same time: Introduction to Proteomics: Tools for the New Biology By Dan Liebler (don't ask) and Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb.

4. What are FIVE books that have meant a lot to you?

Matilda By Ronald Dahl
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb
Introduction to Proteomics: Tools for the New Biology --haha! Just kidding!
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard

Oh! Just five! But I could go on: Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (Sider) and anything by Henri Nouwen and The Ragamuffin Gospel (Manning) and 10 Lies the Church Tells Women....

Ok. I'll stop.

Other books that I've read a lot: The Babysitters Club series and just about all of the Nancy Drew books.

Tagging:
Andrea
CL
Matt

Thursday, July 21, 2005

How It All Started (Part IV)

Freshman Year

I had decided before starting school at LU that I would major in Bible and Chemistry. I wanted to be a pharmacist, but I also had a huge urge to really dive into Scripture and learn as much as I could....but remember, I was pretty cocky.....I also had other motives.

Along the way, I had to learn about the churches of Christ. I was Southern Baptist through and through. I knew nothing of the churches of Christ (CoC's). My Grandma (the wife of my S. Baptist preacher grandpa), tried to scare me out of going to LU. She told me that "they" believe that they're the only ones going to Heaven, and that "they" believe that you have to be baptized to be saved. So, I was warned. Here is where my "other motives" come in. I decided that I was going to go to this school, take the Bible classes, and prove to these CoC'ers that they aren't the only ones going to Heaven and that you don't have to be baptized to be saved. Amanda the Missionary.

So, I move into the dorm, only to find out that my roommate is a pretty conservative CoCer. Ah! My first victim! She was pretty cool, but she was also as stubborn and set in her ways as I was.

And I start classes. My first two Bible professors were Terry Briley (fall semester) and Mark Black (spring semester). What a way to be introduced to the CoC! My pre-concieved notions were shattered! You mean you don't believe that you're the only ones going to Heaven??? And everyone doesn't believe that you have to be baptized to be saved??? And all of my Bible classes aren't going to be classes on learning the CoC doctrine??? Wait...you say you don't have a doctrine??? (insert laugh here) For your information, everyone has a doctrine, whether it's written down or not......

I'm getting off-subject....

Anyway, these two classes were honors classes, so it was virtually the same students in each class (including my roommate). We got to be pretty good friends with this girl, I'll call her Jen.

Jen was a super-cool Nashville native. She babysat a lot for local families. The spring semester of our freshman year, Jen decided that she was going to go out to Cali to finish her degree, but she needed someone to take over for her at her regular nanny position for a local family. Turns out that my roommate couldn't do it because she had already taken a nanny position for our sophomore year that overlapped with the position that Jen was offering. So, I took it. I knew nothing of the family, I just knew that it would fit perfectly into my schedule, and it was only about 6 hours a week, $10/hour. I was definitely not going to complain about the money. I had never in my life made that much babysitting.

Also, during my freshman year, I started to get sick. I did not eat in our school cafeteria that much (it wasn't terrible, just wasn't good and healthy), but it was only when I ate at school that I would get sick. This is kinda nasty, but I'm going to explain it anyway, because someone always asks: I got diarrhea. About 20 minutes after I would eat at school, it would hit. Every time, consistantly. So, after I noticed a pattern, I stopped eating in the cafeteria.

It started to get persistantly worse. It got to the point where it didn't matter what I ate, I got sick. I lost a lot of weight. I finally figured out that the only things I could get without getting sick were fish and turkey. Don't ask me. It doesn't make any sense to me, either. And it wasn't a fatty food thing because I could eat a fish sandwich from McDonalds and be fine. I continued to lose weight and any time I would break out of my fish and turkey diet (even to eat fruit!) I knew what was coming. I couldn't go on a date to dinner and a movie unless I knew there would be ample time to "get over" dinner. My life started to meld around this whole sickness issue. I finally decided toward the very end of my freshman year that I had had enough. I was going to the doctor.




God Things #3 and 4: Take the nannying position, start to get sick.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

How It All Started (Part III)

I've taken a few days off from this because of the weekend and the unexpected car break-in on Sunday night/Monday morning. Hopefully I can remember where I was and get back on track with this again.
_______________________________________________________

Choosing a College

I wasn't like most high school seniors that I know/hear about. I was not freaked out about choosing a college. I was going to go to Transylvania University in Lexington, KY. Period. I wasn't worried about not getting in and I wasn't worried about the fact that it costs a bajillion dollars to go there. That's just where I was going to go.

I had not visited any other colleges. I had applied to a couple others, but just as fall-backs (although I knew that I wasn't going to need them). Yeah, you could say I was cocky. My grades were well above average, I had an excellent ACT score, and a lot of community service stuff. I was a shoe-in.

Dad came home from work one day and decided that, although he didn't disapprove of my wanting to go to Transy, he wanted me to visit at least one more school before I signed on the dotted line. He said that there's this school called Lipscomb that he heard about. He didn't know much about it, other than the fact it was a Christian school, but he thought I might want to check it out. Fine. Whatever. I got online, took 20 minutes to fill out the application to LU (that includes writing the essay), and figured out when I could go down for a couple of days to check it out. Only to appease my father.

So, we packed up the car and drove down for a weekend at Lipscomb. I was determined to hate it. I was going to go to Transy, this was merely a formality. We got there on Friday, and that night, went to a LU girls basketball game. It must have been a sheer coincidence that they were playing Transylvania. I cheered hard for Transy all night long. Best I remember, Lipscomb won.

I met up with the girls that I would be staying with that night and the prospective student that I would hang out with for the rest of the weekend. We had a blast. I fell in love with those girls almost immediately. I noticed how friendly everyone was...it was like a part of the world I had never seen before.

Then there was Devo. Wow. I had an incredible appreciation for acapella music, but I had never been in a group that large singing only acapella songs. I was blown away by the sound. I wanted to cry it was so beautiful.

I can't exactly remember why this weekend impacted me like it did. The dorms were way worse than the dorms at Transy, the school was about the same size, I think it was just the attitude of the students and the devo. I just knew this is where I was supposed to be.

We got home on Sunday to find that my acceptance letter to Lipscomb was in the mail. As much as I didn't want to admit it to my dad, I had decided that he was right and that I did need to go to Lipscomb. I didn't really know why, I just knew I needed to go. So, I sent back everything they needed and I was officially off to Lipscomb.

I got into all those other "fall-back" schools that I applied to, too. As far as Transy was concerned, I heard from them a month or so before school started saying that they never received a portion of my application, but they were still interested in me. Weird, huh?


God Thing #2: Random introduction to Lipscomb/Deciding to go there.

Monday, July 18, 2005

What Are the Odds?

I really never win anything. Really. The coke lids you twist off with a 1:2 chance of winning a free coke? I get nothing.

Rick and I woke up this morning to find that his car had been broken in to. Apparantly, some junkies went wild in west Nashville last night and hit 30 cars. What are the odds that we would be one of them? There are how many people in west Nashville? There are how many cars per home? And out of the 30 they hit last night, ours was one of them? The only one on our street. The only one on our block. They took a lot of his stuff. We figured it's close to $1000 worth of stolen goods/damages. The odds were against us to get robbed, and we still lost!

The cool thing is that they actually sent a guy out to fingerprint it and stuff since so many were hit last night. They didn't get much off of ours, but they did get one print and one partial palm print.

It did give me an excuse to miss a whole day of work. While Rick was in meetings with my car all morning, I was hanging out around the house waiting on various police officers.

Cops said they think it was someone in our neighborhood. There are a couple of houses they're watching because of suspected drug dealings/prostitution. The policeman was nice, though. He assured us that crime in Nashville is going downhill fast, and that the only way to get away from it is to buy a 2-3 mil $$ home on Belle Meade Blvd. We'll be right on that. Puh-leeze!

And we thought we lived in a safe neighborhood....

Friday, July 15, 2005

Breaking News!!!!

So, my aunt has been having some problems with elevated liver enzymes (bad). I referred her to the liver clinic here at Vanderbilt (good).

She saw a doctor last week (a doctor that I have not seen before), and he told her that although he doesn't KNOW me, he knows my case extensively because they discuss it in detail every time they have a departmental meeting. He told her that because of our familial history, they think they have found the gene that caused my disease!!!! They were able to study me, and now they are able to study her, so they can possibly find what/where this gene is.

Of course, this is not for sure just yet. But, either way, I have made an extremely important part of scientific history possible! YAY!!!!

I should SO be listed as an author on that paper.......I've made a bigger sacrifice than any of those doctors!

How It All Started (Part II)

High School: Part Two

In the next few weeks/months, my life really changed. I had a huge hole in my heart. I would frequently see my ex-coach in the hall at school. Once she said to me, "Amanda, you had the biggest heart of anyone on that team," which made me even more confused than I was before. Doesn't heart count for something? Not only had she ripped out my heart, that comment felt like she stabbed me in the stomach and twisted the knife.

My grandparents lived next door to my parents, and we would have dinner with them every Thursday night. My grandpa was getting very sick, but our tradition was that we went out to a certain Chinese restaurant on Thursdays. Now, instead of going out, my parents would order a load of take-out, and bring it up to him and we would all eat together. A week or so after I was cut from the team, my grandpa, a very well-known Southern Baptist preacher in our area, said to me on that Thursday night, "I'm glad it's over for you. It took up too much of your time. God has other plans." His comment infuriated me.

I began to immensly hate everything that even remotely reminded me of basketball. I did not go to any more games for the remainder of my high school career. I didn't speak to any of my ex-teammates. I got extremely angry with my little sister, who was much more talented than I was, when she quit before her freshman season. I couldn't believe that she could easily have something that I wanted so badly and just throw it away.

I tried to find other things to fill that hole. I joined the YMCA and began playing volleyball for fun. I love volleyball, but it wasn't basketball, so I quit. My junior year of high school I played softball for the first time in my life. I wasn't bad at it, but I hated it. When you go from playing such a fast-paced sport like basketball to softball, it leaves the slower sport lacking...a lot. Our team situation didn't help. We all hated each other.

I went into a depression. I would come home from school and go straight to my room, only to come out to eat. I slept a lot. I never did anything with my friends. I was very angry with my parents for not sticking up for me to my coach. They knew exactly what happened and how it affected me, yet they chose to do nothing about it. I was unhappy. I gained a lot of weight. I tried to give off every concievable sign to my parents to let them know how much my life sucked. They didn't get it. Or if they did, they didn't let on that they got it.

It was the summer following my junior year that I got the opportunity to go on my first mission trip. It wasn't any kind of big, extravagant trip, we just went to Meridian, Mississippi for a week to help renovate some homes for people who couldn't afford to do it themselves. It was on this trip that I began to realize that Christianity isn't just about the things you can't do. Growing up in a Southern Baptist church in a rural area, I don't believe I ever heard a sermon about how to live for God. All I heard was a variety of: don't drink, don't cuss, don't commit adultery. None of that stuff spoke to me. I know that I'm not supposed to sin, but as a high schooler, I thought that's really all I had to do to be a good Christian. It was on that mission trip that I realized there was this little thing called "discipleship" that could really change my life. I don't think it really sunk in at that point, but it was something that I took note of. I realized that there are a lot of other Christians out there that are my age that act differently than any of the "Christians" that I went to school with.

I slowly began to come out of my depression as I started to become more involved with my youth group at church. It was a very small group of high schoolers, only about 8-9 of us, but the heart of our volunteer youth minister kept me coming back. We did fun things together. And our youth minister cared about us enough to use up his vacation time to take us places. He was not getting paid for it, he did it because he wanted to. We went on other mission trips and Christianity began to become a front-runner of things that are most important to me.



Now, when I look back, I realize that I would never have gone on that mission trip if I were playing basketball. It would have been one of those things that I would have had to "sacrifice" so that I could play. I also realize that my grandpa's comment was more prophetic than any of us ever could have imagined. God did have other plans, but even in my senior year of high school, I had no idea what those plans really were.

"God Thing" #1: No more basketball.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

How It All Started (Part I)

I get this question a lot, so I thought I'd try to tackle it in a series of blogs. It is a very long story that starts back in high school....at least, when I look back now I can see that it started in high school. I'm going to do the best I can to explain what happened: how I found out that I had tumors on my liver and, more importantly, how I've seen God work through it all, even before I knew He was working.

When you finish this post, you are probably going to ask what in the world this has to do with tumors and how I see God was working, but I promise I will get to that. I think it is very important for everyone to see what a life-altering experience this was for me.
_________________________________________________

Part One: High School

You may not know this, but I was a very athletic kid. I played basketball for seven years, starting in 4th grade. When I got into 8th/9th grade, I was playing on multiple teams, almost year-round. Basketball was my life. I lived and breathed it. Even today, my husband can't understand this, but anyone who has ever loved a sport will. I constantly had a ball in my hand. I played on teams. I played by myself in my driveway. I played with all the rough and rowdy boys all summer long, on rocks and in flip-flops a lot of times (and I kicked their butts!).

Playing against my peers was rough. I was young. A year or more younger than the girls who were in my class. I was little, too. I didn't start going through puberty until I was in 9th grade, when my classmates had done this a year or two before me. When I translate this to basketball language, it means that they were heavier, and much more able to develop muscles than me. They were much, much stronger than I possibly could have been. My body wouldn't allow it. I could easily keep up with them on the court as far as running is concerned, but I was beat up and knocked around when it came to chasing after lose balls or going after the rebound, but I didn't care. I wasn't bad by any means. I was actually pretty good. I just never started in high school because all of the other girls were so much stronger than me. I had spunk, though. Knock me down, I jump right back up and I'm in your face again. I don't care how much it hurt. I know I just got the charge on a girl that's 30+ pounds heavier than me. That's what I do. It felt great to be the little girl that wasn't afraid of those bigger girls, especially when I came out on top. You gonna hold that ball out in front of me? Fine. But I'm going to jerk it out of your hands. At least, I'm going to try really hard. I'm going to get the jump ball. And you're gonna learn not to do that again. I think the other team underestimated me a lot, and I knew how to take advantage of that.

We played rough and rowdy, too. A lot of "organized street ball" if there is such a thing. We did drills where our coach would throw the ball down the court and we'd all have to run and wrestle each other until one of us came out with it. It hurt. I was always bruised after those drills, but they were crazy fun.

Our team was incredibly talented. We were probably the best JV team in the state. A lot of our girls moved up to play Varsity, but they didn't move me up. I wish they would have, but I was thrilled sitting on the sidelines watching these girls kick butt. I was truly, truly happy to just wear the jersey. I was proud to be a part of something bigger than myself. I was happy to work my butt off playing against the bigger girls because I knew that I had a part in making them better players, and they were doing the same for me.

The major problem that I had was during conditioning. I had problems with my growth plates in my knees and I could not run long-distances. The pain would become unbearable. My coaches were tough. Mile runs were nothing. We ran cross-country matches to condition, and we won the meets. Running several miles is what they had us do, and it was literal hell for me. I couldn't do it, but I still tried really hard. It didn't matter, though. I could still keep up on the courts. That was all I cared about.

I decided (so that I could condition) to try to do something about my knee pain. I went to a sports medicine place and they made insoles to go into my running shoes. I wore them every day to try to get used to them. When conditioning time came around, one of our first runs was a 2.4 mile run down a long country road. We would run down to the end of the road (1.2 miles), run up a massive hill where a coach would be waiting with our half-way times, turn around, and run back another 1.2 miles. I was in a lot of pain my first half of the run. It wasn't my knees this time, it was my feet. I got to the top of the hill and stopped. I had to take out my insoles. In the process, my coach noticed blood on my socks, so she made me take it off to show her what was wrong. I have a blister on the arch of my foot that was about 2 inches long that had already busted. But I didn't stop. I threw my insoles in her car, but my socks and shoes back on, and headed back the other way. I finshed last, but I finished.

My sophomore year season went pretty well. I didn't start, but I did get a lot of playing time. When team spirit got a little low, or our players were frustrated with one another, Coach would put me in to pump things up. I was really an intense player. But the end of the season came with an ultimatum: get serious, or don't come back. It's not that we weren't serious, we were. We were very, very serious about the game. What he meant was that we were going to have to make life sacrifices to play for him. We were going to have to miss out on some of the typical high school "fun." He wanted us to make a time to meet with the head coach to talk about what we were going to do to come back the next year to play varsity. He wanted to know how hard we were going to work over the summer. So, I went home and had a talk with my mom. I knew I was going to have to beef up a little. We had worked it out that I was going to join this gym-like place and go every day. I would work 3 days a week on weight training, and the other 2 on fundamental skills so I could stay sharp during our off-season.

The next day, I excitedly ran up to the head coach in the hall at school and told her my plans. She looked at me with a grave look and said, "It's not going to happen for you."

What? What do you mean 'it's not going to happen?' I work really hard, and I'm going to work even harder this summer to get up on par with the rest of the team. I'm willing to do that. I've already talked to my mom. She's going to take me back and forth to the gym all summer. It's all worked out. What do you mean, 'it's not going to happen?'

Beaver, (my last name), she said, It's not going to happen.

I'm in tears by this point. That's it? I'm done? Are you saying I can't play next year? Not even practice? I'm not expecting to start....I just want to play.......

I walked away in tears. I knew I couldn't go to class, so I went to the nurses office. I called my mom, but she couldn't come get me. I didn't go to class the rest of the day. I sat in the nurses office and just cried. I went home and I cried. I went to school the next day, walked straight to the nurses office, and cried. I cried for three straight days.

I didn't know what to do. Basketball was my life. Now, instead of going to practice, I would go home and play in my driveway, crying the entire time. I did this for weeks on end.

Our varsity team went to state that year. I went with a friend to watch the game. I'm sure I was great company. I cried the entire three hour trip up, and the three hour trip back. I just kept saying, I'm never even going to get the chance to sit on that bench.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

My Husband....

Knowing what my stomach looks like and knowing how much weight I've gained still continues to ask me when I'm going to get back into my bikini that I bought last year pre-surgery.

No way am I confident enough to pull that one off, but I still think it's sweet that he asks.......

Monday, July 11, 2005

Pictures


Ignore the fact that I'm smiling like a doofus in this picture. I guess I was excited that I was getting my staples out.

Pictures


This picture was taken a few weeks after my staples were removed. The scar looks pretty much the same today, only a little lighter, and not quite as red. My poor belly looks so swollen....I think I look pregnant.

Pictures



This is 4 weeks post-transplant. This is the day I had my staples removed. The two smaller scars on each side of my belly button are from a previous surgery that I had. You can barely see the scars from the drainage tubes in this picture, but one of them is on the left, directly above the waist-band of my shorts. It looks kind of red in this picture.

Is it Actually Paying Off?

I've been working out for two months now. Wait. Let me rephrase that.

I've been a member of a gym now for two months. (There. That's better.)

The first month I did really well. Thirty minutes a day, three times a week. Great! The second month I did not-so-great. June was a rough month for me medically, so I think I only ended up working out four or five times. But, I'm trying to get back into the swing of things this month.

I was weighed and measured last week. I've lost 5.25 inches and 2 lbs of body fat since I started two months ago. Yay! I can't tell, though. My clothes aren't any bigger on me and I look the same, but yesterday, someone noticed! Someone who doesn't even know that I've been working out!

So, my goal is to get back down to where I was pre-transplant....that's a whole 25 lbs I need to lose. My eating habits really aren't that bad, so I'm really hoping that just working out and drinking more water will do it for me, or at least do most of it for me.

I'm writing this on my blog hoping that it will help keep me accountable. I could seriously think of an excuse every day to not go work out. I'm tired. I'm recovering from Strept. I'm anemic. Rest is more important right now than exercise. My scar hurts. My liver is sore. I'm feeling a little "off" today and don't want to get sick. (Really, I could do this forever).

Enough of the excuses. I'm tired of being fluffy already.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Teaching Hospitals and Rejection

There are many benefits to coming to a teaching hospital for your health care. The attending physicians are usually some of the best in the country; however, there are also disadvanatages.

At Vanderbilt, the worst time in the world to be admitted to the hospital, especially in the ER, is during the first part of July. This is when the first-year residents start, and they really have no idea what they're doing. In addition to this, sometimes you get a cocky attending that is trying to be all suave and prove himself as a doctor to these little underlings. I had a first-hand experience with one of these attendings and his first-year student almost exactly a year ago.

After a liver transplant, a patient has two tubes for draining bile fluid coming out of the right lower portion of the abdomen. (I may post pictures later if there are no objections to show what I'm talking about). Before I went home from the hospital, these tubes had to (literally) be ripped out of my stomach. The physician will remove the stitches that were holding it in and then yank it out. YELP! (Remember, there are two tubes). The first one that was removed was done so by a resident (not a first year) and he did it without numbing me. I didn't cry, but my eyes did tear up and I forgot to breathe for a moment or two. When I had the second tube removed the next day, a different resident decided that it would be nice to numb me first, so that one was virtually pain-free. These tubes did leave pretty big holes in my stomach, so I did have to have stictches after the tubes were removed.

A week or so after I was discharged from the hosptial, I got my first experience with Dr. BigShot. I immediately didn't like this guy, but he is an actual attending physician so I was pretty sure that he was at least going to be good at what he does, especially with his title in the department. But he decided that the stitches from the drainage tubes were ready to come out. Since I had nearly 40 staples in my stomach in addition to these stitches, I was pretty excited. He asked the nurse to do it, but she said she would be more comfortable with him doing it, so, he decided to show off and show her how to remove them. Instead of being nice with me, he tried to do it all quickly and in one motion, which, translated, means that he pinched my skin very hard with the tweezers and then cut me with the very, very sharp scissors. I was not happy. Neither was my husband or my mother, who watched the entire procedure.

Fast forward a week, around July 11, just 11 days after the first year residents started. I had been feeling very, very crummy. I had blood work done in the morning as I usually did 3-4 times a week. At about 2:00, I got a phone call saying that I needed to come right back to the hospital because I was rejecting. So, my mom, my husband and I all hopped in the car and headed back to Vanderbilt. (At this point, even getting in and out of the car was not fun. It required having a pillow and moving it around in various positions while I got in the car, and then once in, it went in between my abdomen and the seat belt because it hurt to have the seat belt rubbing against my staples.) We got to the hospital and found out that I had to have a liver biopsy to make sure that the blood work was correct. I was expecting to be taken down to have a CT guided biopsy where I am nearly asleep and they stick a little needle through the skin to biopsy a small piece of tissue. Instead, they took me back immediately into the clinic (a regular exam room). I was not happy to see Dr. BigShot walk through the door, his resident in tow. Apparantly, they had called him out of the operating room to come biopsy me. He was in his scrubs, and he was in a hurry. He layed me out on the table and got all of his tools together, resident watching it all. The sweet, sweet nurse was also right there next to me. Doc gave me a shot of something to numb me, and then proceeded to remove three of my staples.

Me: I can feel that.
Dr. BigShot: Give it a second, the meds will kick in.
Me starting to sweat
Nurse: Do you need a wet cloth?
Me: Yeah
Dr. BigShot (poking at my chest): Can you still feel that?
Me: Yes
The nurse puts the wet cloth on my head. I start to lose color. The doctor opens me up.
Me: I can feel that
Dr. BigShot: Well, I'm almost finished. I can keep going, or I can give you another shot. I think I'll keep going.
My eyes roll back into my head
Nurse: Let me get you another wet cloth.
The nurse is stroking my head and trying to get me to cool down and not pass out.
Doc snaps off a piece of my liver.
I yelp.
Doc: All finished. To resident: Sew her up, will ya?
Resident: I don't know how.
Doc gives me a stitch to show the kid how, kid finishes, me feeling every little poke and tug.
Doc and resident rush out back to OR.
Nurse: Why don't you just lay there for a few minutes until you're ready to get up. Someone is just going to have to wait for this room....take as long as you need.

I glanced over at Rick and my mom, who both had horrified looks on their faces. Honestly, it took place so quickly that they didn't really have time to jump in and say anything. My poor husband was almost as pale as I was. He said, I saw your liver.

Poor Rick. The poor guy can't even clean up a little dog poo without gagging and nearly getting sick. I don't know how he could stand to sit there and watch the madness that had just occurred.

That wasn't the end of my ultra-terrible-bad day. After my biopsy, I had to go have an ultrasound. I couldn't take it any more. Before I could even get to the waiting room for the ultrasound, I broke down. I was in so much pain, and I was angry. I couldn't believe that some butt-head of a doctor would do such a thing to a patient. Did I mention how much I was hurting? I sat in the ultrasound room, full of people, crying my eyes out for some pain relief. My mom found a nurse for me and she said that it would be okay for me to take some pain meds (I wasn't supposed to eat or drink anything prior to the ultrasound). I probably horrified those people in the waiting room. They were all looking at me with expressions ranging from sadness and empathy to "she-needs-to-get-it-together" glances. I finally settled down a little, only to be taken back and have my sore, bruised liver be pushed and proded on by an ultrasound technician. She was great, though. She did the best she could to cause me as little pain as possible.

Luckily, I have connections in GI and the liver transplant departments. My boss in my lab justsohappens to be Dr. BigShot's boss, too. Hubby was on the phone in an instant with my boss telling him what happened. I was also sure to complain to every other transplant surgeon about what a jerk that guy was, and I was also sure to request that I never, ever saw him again.

I did see him once more, a couple of months later. I was having a bout with CMV and had to come in and be tested for it. He was the only doc available, but he sure was nice to me that time........

Throat Culture Results

My sister thinks I'm the biggest nerd in the world for culturing my own throat. She asked me if I gagged myself with the swab. Only a little......

But I did it. And it was disgusting. I definitely have a Strept infection. I didn't even have to put the slide under the microscope to find out. It was bright pink after I stained it, so I already knew. (Purple bacteria=good; Pink bacteria=bad). But I looked at it under the microscope, anyway, and it was as disgusting as the color indicated.

Guess that means I can start taking the antibiotics now without wondering if I really need them or not....

On another note, I'm working on another blog entry about my transplant. Hopefully I'll be able to post it later this afternoon before I head home for the weekend.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Ugh!

Thanks for all of the encouragement yesterday, everyone.

I found out this morning that I have Strep throat....some kind of weird version of it that doesn't cause fever or any sinus issues, just a sore throat. I've had it for 2 weeks, but since I didn't have a fever or anything I kept putting off going to the doctor. I turned at the last minute this morning on my way to work and decided I'd better go check it out. Even if it's was just weird allergies at least I could take some allegra or something for it.

But, no. It has to be an actual infection.

I figure I'll culture it myself today and then Gram stain it tomorrow just to see what it looks like.

Ah, the perks of working in microbiology.......

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Thoughts on Writing

Vanderbilt House Organ magazine came out this week. It's the summer reading issue. Employees of the medical center submit different works that they have written to be published in the magazine once a year. There are only three categories: fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

I occasionally get the urge to write. Not just blog, but really, really write something. The urge will jump on me to write an essay of some sort. It could be an essay about an aspect of my transplant experience, or it could be an article of some sort to submit to some kind of Christian magazine or something. I guess that's what several of my blog entries are; my "rough drafts," if you will, of different ideas that I've had for essays and/or articles. The posts about the paralytic and survivor's guilt are the two main ones that I've posted here that I have had serious thoughts about expounding on, but as quickly as the urge hits, it's gone again.

Often I talk myself out of it. I think that nobody really wants to read my stuff. After all, I think I'm a mediocre writer, at best. I do think I have a sort of knack for conveying my feelings through written words, people have often told me that, but what I write is never flowery or picture-esque. I guess that is a curse of being a scientist: 1+1=2 no matter how you look at it. There is no need in describing what those 1's look like, or how they move about or join together to create the 2. It just is.

I guess I'm also scared of the disappointment. Even though my writing is not great, often what I write about is so deeply personal, if it were to be rejected I think it would be a reflection of someone rejecting me.

Either way, the urge is here again. I'm thinking about really working on my post about survivor's guilt to perhaps submit to House Organ next summer. But ask me tomorrow, and I will probably have changed my mind.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

My Husband and the Water Cops

Ah, the 4th of July weekend. One of my favorite times of the year. It really just means more time out on the lake, more cookouts, more Smores, and an extra day of it all for me, and I love it.

This year, I've been a little more wary of the jet ski than in years past. Thoughts of wiping out on the jet ski and my liver going in any direction opposite of the rest of my body just freaks me out. I've been out on it a couple of times, but I refrained this weekend. I was happy to let my thrill-seeking husband and our friend Barret (he's about 13) have at it.

On Saturday, I was very happily eating some watermelon at Barret's parent's place when Rick and Barret came back in Barret's dad's truck, jet ski in tow. They had only been out for an hour or two. I was surprised to see them back so soon.

You guys weren't gone long.

Barret looked at me with that typical 13-year-old "I'm-13-and-too-cool-to-be-bothered" glance and said, You'll have to ask Rick why we're back so soon.

I looked at Rick and he said, We got a ticket.

A ticket!?! I screeched, for what?!?

Throwing wake in a no wake zone.

At this point, I was thoroughly annoyed. I had warned Rick a million times (plus or minus a couple thousand) that there really are police on the water, and they really will pull you over, they really are mean, and they really do have more authority than cops on land. If they want you to jump up and down and squawk like a chicken, you'd better do it without complaining. They don't need probable cause for anything.

Rick handed me the ticket and I glanced it over: $186.15. Holy cow. I suspected that he barrelled underneath the Jonathan Creek bridge (a very long no-wake zone). Apparantly, what had happened is that Rick and Barret went underneath the bridge with no problems, but before they could get completely past the no wake zone, Rick threw the jet ski to the left and took off. The cops were over at The Floating Weiner (a house boat turned floating restaurant that sells hamburgers and hot dogs--it has a monsterous weiner on top of it) and the jet ski annoyed them.

The cops stopped Rick and told him to go over and wait in a certain area. Rick, being the wonderful, respectful man that he is, looked at the cop and said, For how long?

The cop turned stone-faced and said, However long it takes, son.

They proceeded to head back over to The Floating Weiner and eat their lunch. A while later, they came back and gave Rick the ticket.

*rolling eyes* Men.

Friday, July 01, 2005

In my nurse's words:

I am "having problems with kidney function and severly dehydrated."

*sigh*