Good riddance 2012. I can't be happier to start a new year because 2012 shook me and my family to the core. It really seemed at times, as if there was a black cloud over us. Now that I reflect back... we also received some amazing blessings. At the end of 2011, my dad (pictured above) was diagnosed with liver cancer. After trying several treatment options, we were told his only chance for survival was a liver transplant. The better part of the year was spent going through multiple tests to be placed on the donor registery. The process is absurd and beyond frustrating. You would think a person dealing with cancer would be spared such craziness when they are fighting for their lives, but that wasn't the case. If it wasn't for my mom (pictured above on the left) making multiple phone calls, scheduling appointments and harassing the doctors to make sure everything was in place it's hard telling what the outcome may have been.
My family is all still in Ohio, while I am 1200 miles away in Texas. Living so far away during this process was excruciating because at times I felt my words were inadequate and just wanted to hug my dad. After several close calls, a hospitalization, and turning down 6 organs for various reasons, the 7th organ was a perfect fit. Early June, I got the phone call while shopping in Walgreens. I will never forget that moment. Our world stopped. While my children and I rejoiced in the middle of the aisle, I was very anxious. This was merely the beginning of our journey to get him healthy. My kids were so excited for their Poppy(my dad)! They told the cashier who offered a prayer for us at the register and promised to add our family to her church's prayer chain. She was such a sweet women, along with many others who prayed for our family.
The transplant was a huge success and my dad was discharged just one week after the transplant. The doctors nicknamed him the poster boy for transplants because they had never seen a patient recover post op so quickly. 3 weeks after the transplant, my family made the trip to Ohio to spend 2 weeks with my dad. In the picture above, that's me in between my parents at the pool. The trip went by so fast and it was extremely hard to leave. The amazing news is his body has accepted the new organ. He feels so much better. Each day he is gaining weight and getting stronger. Our family is eternally grateful to the organ donor and his family. We have often thought about them. We realize they lost a loved one while giving my dad a second chance at life.
During this time, I was also fighting my own medical issues. In May I underwent two surgeries to remove a 4 mm kidney stone completely blocking my right tube leading to my bladder. I was very sick and in pain. Most days were a struggle to even get out of bed. Looking back... it amazes me I was able to take care of my 4 kids, maintain a 4.0 GPA in college and maintain the blog. I felt the vacation to Ohio would provide a fresh start. Little did I know what I was about to face....
Shortly after arriving home I began to feel very sick. I was unable to eat without having horrible pain under my right rib. I had been telling my doctor about these symptoms for a LONG time. It eventually got to the point where I was unable to even drink water. I felt full all of the time and my stomach was bloated and pooched out like I was pregnant. My doctor always seemed to have an answer/excuse for my symptoms. It got to the point where I was feeling nauseous 24 hours a day, light headed, and exhausted. He felt my gall bladder was causing the issues but after tests revealed my gall bladder was functioning properly, he was stumped. I felt so frustrated. I'm very in-tune with my body...I knew I was sick but felt like I wasn't being taken seriously! I asked for a referral to a specialist. Within a week I had an appointment with my local gastroenterologist. During a scope of my stomach, the specialist discovered a large tumor at the bottom of my stomach. When he removed it, he discover the tumor had it's own vein and artery. Despite several cauterizations, he was unable to get the bleeding to stop. His exact words were " It was gushing like a volcano and I was unable to get it to stop. I'm hoping it will clot on it's own." I was transferred and admitted to the hospital on Tuesday November 6. I awoke later to find the doctor at the end of my bed in the hospital. He said the dreaded words, " I've never in my 30+ years as a doctor seen a tumor like that and we have sent it off to test for CANCER!" I felt faint, the room started to spin. All I could think of was... NO I can't have cancer. I have 4 babies to take care of and I'm only 34... how can this be happening to me? I was shown a picture of the tumor . It looked as if someone had burned the tissue with a cigarette. Black around the edges with a crater like center. I wanted to hide in a closet with a blanket over my head and pretend this wasn't happening. The next 10 days were long and excruciating as I anticipated the phone call. On a Monday afternoon while playing with my son at recess, I got the call. Amongst the 100 kindergarten kids running and screaming.... all I could he was the doctor on the other end of the phone. He spoke the best news I have ever heard. THE TUMOR IS BENIGN!! I stood in the middle of the playground with tears of happiness streaming down my face.
I'm still going through some testing and experiencing some gastrointestinal issues but I feel a million times better. I really thought through all of this, I could keep up with school, kids and the blog. At times I simply dropped the ball and wasn't able to post as often as normal. I appreciate your patience with me as I struggled to keep up.
The new year has given me a new prospective! I am focused on making this a great year. I've got many exciting opportunities lined up in the next few months on the blog. Thanks for reading! I truly appreciate each and every one of you! Wishing you a wonderful new year!