Updates and more!

I realize an update is long overdue, so here we go!

 

Since my last update here are a few highlights:

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In early March, Philip and I started dating.
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Paul had his surgery on February 17 – his surgery could have gone better and he had a pretty rough recovery (whole other story) but he’s a lot better now! Also – John graduated college!
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Katie had her surgery to remove her stomach on April 12. The surgery took 8 hours but was successful!
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My best friend was such a beautiful bride in June and I was honored and thrilled to death to be her maid of honor. I also caught the bouquet!
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John and Kenzie got married a couple weeks later! It was a beautiful week. So much love for this couple and our families. Kenzie was absolutely stunning!
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Philip and I got engaged on July 3. I was so surprised!
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We took this after we got our wedding bands!

 

I guess you could say I have been incredibly blessed this year. In February, I was so beaten down. I couldn’t see any light and I asked God to show our family mercy and let us have a time of joy because we had had so many trials one right after the next.

Obviously, God answered that prayer. God also provided my dad with a new job. This new job is a complete God send and it perfect for him in every way.

So onto the “more” part…

Since my last update, I’ve lost right around 50 pounds, give or take a few. My weight has finally stabilized and I owe a huge thank you to my fiance for that. He’s been very proactive about reminding me to eat if I haven’t in awhile and makes me drink a lot of water. We were scared for a bit because the weight just kept coming off but it seems like I’m at a new normal now. Paul and Katie are both pretty much stable as well and healthy.

A lot of people have asked about some of the normals that TG people have to deal with. Being around 9 months out from my surgery, I can tell you that life is a lot more normal than I thought anyone in my family thought originally. We eat just about the same things except we have to pay very close attention to portion sizes, how fast we eat, suagr and fat content, and most importantly – our bodies. Sometimes our bodies are bi-polar and we have to just live with that. One day I’ll eat a burrito and am fine an the next day I’ll have the same thing but I will have a reaction.

Reactions are funny little things. The technical term is called “dumping” but it is a lot easier to say I’m having a reaction because everyone knows what that is. Reactions, or dumping, is when food enters into the small intestines too quickly. Some side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, fatigue, and dizziness. Sometimes we get all the symptoms at once, those reactions are the worst, and sometimes it can be one or two of them. Most days, I have around two smaller reactions. They last about 30-45 minutes. If I just ate too fast or too much they can be done in around 20 minutes.

Other “normals” include eating all the time and monitoring activities. TG people are huge snackers, and it is really not that bad. Turns out eating the way doctors tell us to eat is actually pretty great. I have more energy through the day and have learned that eating healthy really does change a person’s mood, sleep cycle, and health overall (who’dathunk it, right?). When it comes to monitoring activities, I mean that as a post-total gastrectomy patient, I have to be careful and mindful about how active I am during the day so that I don’t burn more calories than I consume or more energy than I can give. Otherwise, I’ll probably pay for it for a day or two. Here is a great explanation using “The Spoon Theory.”

I’ve been overwhelmed with the love and support our family has received throughout this past year. Thank you to everyone who has kept us in your thoughts and prayers, they have not gone unnoticed or unheard.

I guess this is it for now. I’ll try to keep updating more often! Hope everyone reading has a blessed day!

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.Through pain comes joy

I know it has been a long time since I posted last. A lot has happened in the past month! For starters:

  1. I am now able to eat 1,000+ calories a day orally (thats a huge deal)
  2. I think my weight has just about stabilized (I’m down about 30lbs)
  3. I have been living alone for about a month now and I’m doing GREAT
  4. I did go the hospital one more time, but it was for a dumb reason and long story short… I got a new feeding tube that is WAY more efficient and comfortable!
  5. I found out that I love duck. It is delicious.

My dad and I had a “come to Jesus” awhile back when I wasn’t doing that well… He basically told me that both he and my mother had done everything they could to help me… it was time though for me to start helping myself. We talked a long time and I got a lot off my chest. It was a good talk.

Now the hard part. You know how when you’re doing something that is really REALLY great for the kingdom, Satan really REALLY doesn’t like it? Obviously, I was on the right track with my new mindset because almost instantly the spiritual warfare began. I had a thought… a thought that I’ve only had one other time in my life but his time I had a panic attack.

“You could swallow all your pills…right now… and all of this pain would be over in an hour.”

I called my brother and I told him. We talked for a long time and you know what he told me? He told me that he would have been surprised if I hadn’t had a thought like that at some point through this process. What is scarier? I didn’t have a panic attack at the thought of taking my pills at once… No. I had a panic attack at the thought of someone finding me… How could I be so selfish after so many have given so selflessly?

That is the incredible thing about how great our God is… Satan put a thought in my head that I immediately regretted even thinking because I know how big God is and who is in control of my life. I am not the master of my own fate, as William Ernest Henley would say. If the devil is so anxious to end my life, I like to think that this is just the beginning for me and my family.

Also, here’s an updated picture of me since my surgery:

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Here is something I wrote a long time ago. I just found it on my computer and I thought it was fitting. You don’t have to read it… If you’re still reading I’m very grateful. This is a message we all need and we all need this little reminder that the Lord is Good…all the time.

 

 

There was once a man named Job. Job lived long ago in a city called Uz, which is in the modern-day Jordan area in southern Israel.

Job was a good man. He was described as blameless and wealthy with a family and lots of friends. One day, everything Job loved or held dear was gone; his livelihood, wealth, servants, his own health and even his family. His family wasn’t kidnapped and they did not run away with Job’s money. God allowed Satan to take away everything he held close to his heart. Satan was sure Job would turn against God, but he was wrong. Instead of forsaking God, he worshiped and said, “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away; BLESSED be the name of God.”

That does not mean Job was not mournful from all of his losses. Job cried out to the Lord. He shouted in anguish and admitted his desire for death and loss of hope. Job says in chapter 3 that he is not at peace. His integrity and relationship with the Lord were questioned by two of his friends and his third friend told him that he deserved worse.

In the end, Job remained faithful and held his hope in God. By doing so, he understood who the real enemy was. God blessed Job for his faithfulness by restoring to him what Satan had taken away.

Abraham Lincoln suffered through the untimely death of most of his family, including his own children, on top of the horrors of the civil war but still remained faithful. Martin Luther faced head on the worst of the Roman Catholic Church yet still choose to love it and fight for his beliefs. William Wilberforce saw the Christian culture openly doing the worst things to other humans and didn’t give up his faith but instead changed the culture. Mother Teresa spent time with the most neglected in the world. Despite publicly remaining faithful to the end, her diaries revealed battles for her faith.

All throughout history, we see men and women alike, who are genuinely good, go through trials and suffering.

John Calvin, theologian, once said, “You must submit to supreme suffering in order to discover the completion of joy.”

When hard times come, the first thing most people want to do is run for the hills, sit in the fetal position in a corner, or my favorite – bottle everything inside and hope it just goes away. God tells us that it is ok to hurt. Jesus, himself, even cried out to God asking him why he had been forsaken. Jesus wept and mourned but was the supreme example of calling to the Father for strength and faith through suffering.

St. Augustine nailed it when he said, “God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering.”

Even Jesus, the perfecter of our faith, the Son of God, the savior of the world endured excruciating agony and suffering but remained faithful to the end.

Many of are hit hard with hard times. I know from personal experience that most of the time it seems impossible to see the good that can come from pain. James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Joy comes to those who wait patiently. When hard times come, it isn’t because you deserve it, or because karma has been waiting to mess up your life because of something you did when you were five. Trials are a message from the Lord that should be taken with grace and faith that even in the hardest of times, He will remain faithful to you too.

The Lord’s will will never send you where his grace will not protect you.