Saturday, December 31, 2011

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord!

A few days ago, I was listening to a song that sang, "Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord…" I could use a bit of strength, so this got my attention and my wheels started turning. What, exactly, does 'wait' mean? If I sit around tapping my fingers will I gain strength? Hummm… I think not.

The next day after I heard this song, I read Isaiah 40 and verse 31 echoed the song that I had heard the day before, "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." So again, I was left pondering and praying, Lord, teach me how to wait. And what is 'wait' really?

So I could get all theological and tell you what the Greek meaning of the word 'wait' is, but God spoke to me much simpler than that. Maybe because I'm a simple kind of girl. (-; I began to think of a waiter. What is a waiter's primary job? To serve you, right? They are to 'wait' on you. Before your water glass reaches the halfway mark, you expect your waiter to fill it. When you ask for something, say ketchup, you expect to get it. How would you feel if your waiter decided to go on a break in the middle of waiting on you? What if your waiter gave you the silent treatment? Or what if they got so busy, that they never once came to your table to take your order? Hummm…

Oh, and by the way, in case you are wondering the Greek/Hebrew word for wait is qavah and it means to wait or look eagerly for, to lie in wait for, to wait for, linger for, to collect, bind together. Obviously this sounds NOTHING like serving… Instead, this sounds like joining forces with God Himself!!! How exciting. BUT, think about it, how could you link up with Him if you weren't serving Him? When I defined serve, gave me the following definitions: perform duties or services for, wait, minister.

When I prayed 'teach me how to wait', I think He heard me! :-D Thanks, God!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Happy anniversary to me!

‎4 years ago today God gave me a beautiful Christmas gift - a second shot at life. And He didn't give me just life, He gave me life more abundantly! Today is my 4th year anniversary that I have survived brain surgery!! The reports of my surgeons sounded grim... They told us how they had to stop cutting because brain and tumor became so entwined... The tumor was bigger than they thought... They told us to find long term care facilities to care for me... Told me I may never walk again. BUT who's report do YOU believe? :-D So glad that God love's me and that He is true to His word. Happy anniversary to me!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Just figured something out about myself...

It's amazing how you go your whole life never knowing (or admitting) something about yourself and then suddenly a lightbulb goes off.

For as long as I can remember, my husband has told me that I was too hard on myself. My mom often quoted these same words. And yet, still, I have pushed myself... wrongly thinking that my drive came from... well, I don't even know! I just wanted to be good enough, do things right, ya know? But this week, some of my motivators slapped me in the face.

I've now been a nurse for 2 months. It's not anything like I imagined it would be... and not so much in a good sense, either. The work is hard, the hours long, and for 8 weeks now I have clocked out at night beating myself up for my failures of the day. Last week, I met with my boss who asked me if I was happy. I had to stop and think. I love so many things about what I'm blessed enough to do, and yet I hate the drowning feeling that I have every day. As we talked, she mimicked the words I've heard from my 2 best friends forever, and then said something that I wanted to instantly deny. She told me that I was a wee bit controlling.

I've never thought that about myself. I mean, I'm laid back and controlling sounds so... I don't know... mean? Surely I'm not mean, am I?? I'm almost 30 and still say ma'am and sir and don't ask others to do things that I could do (which translates in - I don't ask for help).

But a lightbulb went off and sure enough, my problem, the reason that worry is ALWAYS on the forefront of my mind, is because I am a control freak. Wow... Shedding light on something like that can be life-changing. I mean, if I'm doing something, I worry and fret so much for it to be perfect. No matter what it is! And what is it that I'm really worrying about??? My own abilities. And that's precisely where I'm struggling at work. My own abilities.

Worry like that can be smothering. Flipping through the catalouge of my life and I see where so many times I totally skip doing things because I'm afraid that I'll fail. I mean, really?

So here's the problem, where is my trust in God??? He led me through school, don't I know that He will continue to lead me? IF, I let Him. That's the thing. I have GOT to trust in the Lord with ALL my heart. ALL of it. And lean not to ME. It doesn't matter how hard I work, and it doesn't matter how short my lunch breaks are, it doesn't matter if I drive home crying every night, and it doesn't matter how many policies I read and try to memorize. My trust cannot be in myself. It just can't. That's why I'm drowing, because I am trying to rely on what I can do. And really... well, really, I am nothing. I can do nothing on my own, but with Him ALL things are possible.

I feel so liberated!!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I've survived week 1!

I've survived the first week of my new job as an Ortho/Neuro nurse and I LOVE it! The best part is that I've only had one of "the headaches" and thankfully it was on my day off. I'm thinking it was because I was so tired. My headaches are actually better than they were when I was in school, but maybe it's because my stress is so much less? Don't get me wrong, there's stress with a new job, but when work is over - it's over! With school, I was CONSTANTLY studying. LOL

Friday, September 9, 2011

Introducing Jessica, the RN!

I am a little bit in shock. These past 2 years, I have stubbornly fought my way through nursing school often feeling like I'd never really make it to the finish line. Each semester that passed saw new "exciting" health obstacles, as if the obstacles of nursing school isn't enough. There was a kidney stone requiring surgery, bleeding ulcers, a new diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome, an injury to my knee causing me to hobble around on crutches, etc. Add all those obstacles to the fact that just 4 years ago a surgeon told us that I'd probably be a vegetable for the rest of my life and require constant care.

And yet, as of today, I am a licensed RN. I am speechless. However, I remember God's voice calling me down this road. It didn't make sense at the time. It didn't seem possible. It has NOT been easy. It has been hard work. And there have been MANY times that His voice has been silent and I've just had to blindly walk in the direction that He once pointed.

But today, those 2 years of schooling have resulted in recieving a license as a registered nurse. AND not only that, but I was also formally offered my dream job today. A job as a nuero/ortho nurse in the same hospital on the same floor where I was once a patient myself. Isn't God good?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It could ALWAYS be worse!

Headache today. Had to take pain meds. Haven't been able to get much studying done today for my STATE BOARDS. :-) That's right. I graduated from nursing school and am preparing to take my state licensure to become a registered nurse! Tomorrow shall be a better day. :-)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The finish line's in sight! And man, does it look good!

In 2007, when the surgeon came into my hospital room to explain the craniotomy to me, he explained the risks. He told my family they needed to be thinking of long-term facilities that would assist with my care because there was a really good chance that I would not be able to perform my daily tasks after the surgery. The picture he painted was grim. He'd told my family of the chance for me to end up a vegetable and dependent on mechanical ventilation to survive. If it was a surgery that I could have opted out of, just based on hearing him talk, I would have totally chosed against it.

After surgery, he let us know that everything "went well". I was able to breath just fine on my own (so no need for the mechanical ventilation). However, he told us, once he opened me up, he saw that the tumor had entwined with my brain tissue so bad that he had to stop cutting because he no longer knew what was brain tissue and what was tumor. He warned that I might always suffer some disabilities. Always.

He was a great surgeon, but hope was certainly NOT his strong point. However, he was right to warn me. I had to work hard. Really hard. 17 months of therapy hard. Coordination was a huge problem. I couldn't get a spoon to my mouth. Eating for me was like watching a 6 month old try to feed itself. I had to wear a bib and everything. Not a cute look for a 24 year old. My husband did my make-up because when I tried to do it, I'd have mascara on my cheeks and lipstick on my nose. My memory was horrible. I'd go in the grocery store, with a list, and stand in the middle of the isle and start crying because I couldn't remember why I was in there, and couldn't remember to look at the list. Physical therapy had to work with me forever to teach me how to walk. Just how to walk. I'd been walking for 23 years of life, but 3 days a week I had to have somone spend an hour at a time working with me to teach me how to walk. I had to re-learn how to drive. I could go on and on, but surely that paints the picture.

And I remember being angry. Angry at that stupid, unwelcome, THING in my head. Angry that it had robbed so much from me. Memories of my son when he was 2 - I have none. My daughter when she was 8 and missing teeth? None. All I remember is post-surgery headaches. The kind that left me alone, and in the dark, and crying praying to God that He'd have taken my life during surgery instead of leaving me here to live like that.

But that anger did something. It fueled this determination. I became determined that a dumb brain tumor was not going to beat me, or at least, not without a fight. And so against all odd's, I started nursing school. I'm sure no one would have blamed me if I had've never attempted it. After what I'd been through, no one probably expected it out of me. But "I can do ALL things through Christ". And so that's what I did.

Every single semester, it's been a battle. I have literally had one health issue after another. I've been diagnosed with more junk, I've had surgery, and I've continued to battle risidual post-surgery headaches - BUT tomorrow, I'm taking the last final of my ASN career. In just 4 days, I'll graduate with an RN degree. Not only that, but somehow (as long as tomorrow goes well), I've managed to pull a 'B' in every single one of my classes.

This has just served as a testiment to me that no matter WHAT things might look like, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

T - 47 & Counting!

After much begging and pleading, I was able to get the orthopedic doctor to write me a note allowing me to attend clinicals to finish up this semester. YIPPEE! 47 days left and I'll finish nursing school. Hobbling around on one leg isn't fun, but I'm beginning to master hopping and standing on one leg. (I can't take crutches to clinicals.)

Good news is that my head's been acting wonderfully. God's so merciful! He knows that I can only handle one problem at a time! LOL

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Well, God, it's storming again... and, again, I will lift my hands...

Graduation is 61 days away... It's so close I can taste it. However, hurdle #9,542,673,201 is attempting to slow me down. *sigh* Gotta love road blocks!

For about a month now, my knee has been hurting me. I've tried ice, an ace bandage, I prop it up, and I pop Ibuprofen, but nothing helps. The funny thing is that I haven't injured myself (meaning, no falls or bumps) and my leg isn't swollen or red or warm to the touch. It just hurts like crazy. It hurts so bad it wakes me out of my sleep. If my husband rolls over and bumps it, I wake up howling. Not real good.

So, with me kicking and screaming, I went to an orthopedic doctor yesterday. After X-rays, he told me that it was 1 of 2 things. Either it's a meniscus tear, in which I would need surgery to correct the problem, but I would be mobile again in a couple weeks. Or a stress fracture, in which the ONLY way to heal is to be COMPLETELY off my leg for 6-8 weeks. We scheduled an MRI for next week to tell us for sure. My jaw just dropped at the news.

I have 8 weeks of school left and I have battled through nursing school through the residual side effects of a brain tumor and medication changes for it; I've been diagnosed with IBS while in school and dealt with that; then of course there's been the chronic vascular headaches and the pain meds for that; then the diagnoses of the cluster headaches (as if the others weren't bad enough); and then not to mention a lovely little kidney stone last fall that was too big to blast and required surgery (a result from the headache meds). But now I'm being told that a result of my losing weight by the exercise has caused me to hurt myself and possible jeopardize my working clinical's... that I only have to do for the next 7 weeks! I mean, REALLY?

It would be VERY easy to be completely discouraged right now. It would be so easy to get upset and work myself up. But there are a couple of things that life, and all the things that God's allowed me to go thru, have taught me:
1. The night TRULY is the darkest just before the dawn.
2. Becoming a nurse has NOT come to me easy. I have had obstacles thrown my way left and right, and in the beginning I heard God's voice directing my path, but I'll be honest. The past several months, I've just been walking my faith and NOT by sight. I haven't seen any pillars of fire, and I haven't heard Him beckoning to me. BUT I made a choice a long time ago to trust Him with my WHOLE heart and not to lean unto my own understanding. With my entire heart, I believe that climbing this mountain hasn't been easy because the view from the top will be amazing. I believe that God is honoring my trust in Him.
3. Everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING, happens for a reason.

I found this scripture today and it offered me a lot of encouragement. It's Isaiah 40:28-31 "Have you not known? Have you not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, faints not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increases their strength... But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

:-D <--- This is me, cheesing.

It's been 3 weeks since I've been (drumroll please) PAIN MEDICINE FREE!!!! As a bonus, when I weighed in at Weight Watchers this weekend, I more than exceeded my 25 weight loss goal.

Nearly 3 weeks without pain meds! Of course I still take Cymbalta (for chronic pain - who knew!) daily and Topamax twice a day. BUT did I mention, NO PAIN MEDS for 3 weeks now? LOL

Still no running again, school's kept me pretty busy. In fact, I had a final today and I have another. However, graduation in set for July 28. HOORAY!

So thank you, Lord, for a pain free 3 weeks - without dumb ol' pain meds! :-D OH! And the weight loss is great too! Thanks for that, because it hasn't been easy. :-D

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Happy, yet annoyed :-/

Good news first - I've reached one of my goals for this year!! I've lost 25 pounds!!! Yeee-haw! I joined Weight Watchers in October and have totally changed the way that I eat and even think about food. I also exercise. Which brings me to my annoyance.

Stupid headaches = stumbling block. I've been unable to exercise all week because I've had pretty bad headaches. :-( BOO!!! It's SO annoying! I want to be just like everyone else, and do things just like anyone else can, but physical things are just one hurdle that I'm having a difficult time jumping over.

I remember when I felt really dumb and I'd wonder if I was going to be dumb forever. I was no genius before, but I wasn't an idiot either. But after surgery, I was just some sort of empty blob. But I think it's safe to say that I've proven to myself that I'm NOT just an empty blob. I'm in RN school, about to graduate, and I'm managed to keep my grades competitive with "the smart kids" throughout this entire program.

But this... well, this is different. I'll have a week of 3 pretty good workouts, and then 'BOOM' - I'm out for the count. It's SO aggravating! Meanwhile, my husband takes evening 6 mile runs like it's nothing. NOTHING! I can't even walk down the hallway without holding on to the walls... GRRR!

But how awful is this. Here I am complaining and it could be SO much worse. And I know that. I know that I'm fortunate. I know that there are so many people out there that have it worse than me. I know I once had it worse. But yet, knowing those things doesn't make this suck any less.

Lord, help me to have a grateful heart and forgive me for moments like today that I don't feel grateful. Help me to remember all the glorious things that You have done for me and let me be able to share my testimony with others. Don't let these silly roadblocks allow me to get discouraged. I fully believe that with You, I am more than a conqueror. And thank You that I have been able to lose weight and I have been able to excercise as much as I have been. Amen. :-)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Gratefully Hurting

This morning, I laid in my bed, missing church, covers pulled over my head, tears (of pain) rolling down my cheeks, head stabilized by a mound of pillows, facing "the headache". The desire to be overcome with self-pity was dangerously close to overtaking me and to ignore those feelings, I kept willing myself to fall asleep. Unfortunately, the pain was too great and so I just laid there feeling awful. The house was silent. My husband and kids had left for church - the place where I wanted to be. And just before I caved in to the feelings of self-pity, I summoned up the inner Paul and Silas in me. LOL - I started thanking God.

Because of the headache, I couldn't say anything out loud, but as I laid there, in my head I started remembering where I could be... should be, even. And I just started praising God. I started remembering 3 1/2 years ago now when that surgeon came in my room and told us to prepare for long-term arrangements for my care, because chances were that after surgery I would face brain damage - maybe even extensive. Doctors said that I may not take care of myself again. Could you imagine? Being a 24 year old woman, not being able to wash your own hair? Brush your own teeth? And yet, nearly 4 years later, the ONLY problem I have is fighting a dumb ol' headache. Other than that, I'm fine! No brain damage! I mean, I'm in nursing school about to graduate with an R.N., I'm training for a 5K (so that means that I can at least walk) LOL, and I have NEVER had to live in a nursing home! HOORAY!! :-D

And then I had to start praising God that it's me dealing with this and not my kids. How fortunate and blessed am I to have such healthy, smart, beautiful children!! My children have never had to be hospitalized and they don't have any idea what the inside of an ambulance looks like or the inside of an MRI machine. My husband is also healthy! God has blessed him with health so that he is able to work for us and provide. What would we do if he was plagued with this? We'd be homeless! How blessed we are!! Of all of us, God knew exactly who to let deal with the health stuff. He's blessed me with an incredibly strong husband to lean on in my dark days; a husband that doesn't even have to be asked to take care of the kids, meals, or household chores when I'm sick; a husband that silently gets my medicine and brings me food in bed. Last night, in the middle of the night, I nudged him and said, "Babe, 'the headache' is here." He shot out of bed and got my medicine and water just like that! I wouldn't even do that! LOL - Oh, God I thank You! I could be suffering with this all alone.

These may not be the plans that I have for myself, but God's plans are perfect. And His grace is fufficient. I'm not giving up on complete healing, but in the meantime, I'm just thankful for what He has already done for me. And if He chooses not to take away my headaches, He's done MORE than enough for me already. And I'm grateful. :-)

Random Update

1. As it is March, I realize it seems rather late to be stating New Year's Resolutions, so these will just be goals for this year. And these goals actually seem like goals that I'll finish this year. Goal #1 is that I will have an RN this year. Goal #2 is that I will have lost > 25 pounds this year. And goal #3 is that I will have run a 5 K this year. WOOHOO! LOL

So I've been writing about my journey in nursing school, and I'm in the middle of my next to last semester now! I graduate in July so I can FINALLY see a small light at the end of the tunnel. :-) Hooray!

The weight loss thing sort of happened by accident. I've been so desperate to get my headaches under control and I HATE the pain medicates so badly. My goal is to be off all pain meds completely, so I started reading up on foods that trigger headaches. Sadly enough, it was foods that I loved. You know, chocolate, tea, coffee, tomatoes, fatty greasy stuff, etc. Also there is a link to exercise and headache improvement (hence the running the 5K).

So I joined Weight Watchers with my mom and I have absolutely LOVED it! Since October I have lost 22 pounds and it's been so easy. I have completely changed the way that I eat, and while I am not off of pain meds, I do take pain meds a lot less frequently. My blood pressure has decreased and I've dropped 4 pants sizes! Another plus, I think the pain meds had caused some bowel problems, but eating healthy has totally (and I mean totally) taken care of that! It's been great!

Exercising hasn't been very easy. My brain tumor affected the part of my brain that controls my breathing, and the cells that are left in my brain are still in that same part of my brain. I don't know if it's just a mental thing or what, but I am having the hardest time with my breathing. The furthest I've run so far is 7 minutes and then suddenly my breathing gets crazy and I feel panicked. But I'm not going to give up. By the end of this year, I am determined to run a 5K with my husband. Also, I'm not so sure about excercing helping with headaches. A lot of days, after a good workout, I get home and end up needing a pain pill. :-( But maybe once the workouts get a little easier???

In other news, I had reported a new onset of these crazy awful headaches occuring like I'd been rammed in the eye with an ice pick. They are called cluster headaches and are unrelated to the tumor. They typically occur in women my age and appear to be seasonal. As if I needed more headaches! LOL - Oh well, the more the merrier!

My neurologist did some more medication adjustments on my last visit, but literally tells me that the only thing that he thinks will help me is graduating from nursing school and taking a break from the stress of school. LOL - I find that funny for some reason! :-) At least SOMEONE understands how stressful it is. (-; But if my head's made it through over a year of this, it can take 5 more months.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

He hears your EVERY prayer...

Let me just share what a wonderful God I serve. :-)

Tuesday, I was driving to school. I am in the 'home stretch' of my schooling with just 6 months left, but school consumes me. I literally have no LIFE outside of school, and on this particular morning, I was praying to God and asking Him if I disappointed Him. I was thinking about that scripture in the Bible that talks about those folks that would come up to Him at the time of judgement and He'd say, "I never know you." I asked Him, would He say that about me?

I mean, I pray, but I feel like it's haphazard. None of that 1-2 hours of scheduled locked in a prayer closet kind of stuff that I was raised hearing about. The same with reading my Bible. In fact, the Bible is downloaded on my phone, and sadly, I read more scriptures sitting in waiting rooms, or in elevators, than ever before. *sigh* Basically, I just don't feel like I meet up to the "standards" of a "Christian" that I should. If there is a checklist, I feel like mine is severely lacking.

And so, Tuesday, on my way to school, I was telling God how sorry I am for disappointing Him.

Tuesday I didn't have a very good day... at all. And it was VERY long. When I got home, I was so tired, and defeated, and just tired. Lately, these 6 months seems too looks like 6 years!

I checked the mail, and mixed in with the handful of bills was a greeting card from a friend that I haven't talked to in ages. What a surprise! When I opened the card, the first sentence from my friend shared how she's been going around with this card for me in her planner for nearly a year now. A year. And finally she remembered to put a stamp on it and mail it. (Is that NOT perfect timing.) And then she said something that made tears just pour down my face because I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God was answering my prayers from that morning....

She talked about what kind of relationship I had with God and how I'm a person who "walks with God daily". She talked about how she's watched from the outside while I've faced the migraines and yet I just seem to keep going.

And while that encouragement would have been super flattering at ANY time, it was perfect that it came when it did. God was letting me know that He'd heard me praying that morning. No matter how big our prayers seem no matter how small they seem, He hears us when we call - and He cares.