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My Life Changing Moment (off WL topic)

Friday, October 25, 2013

I've been going back and forth about blogging about this, mostly because it seemed too personal, too precious, too "mine" to share with others for awhile. But while I've treasured and savored the details for nearly 2 months, I'm also ready to share them.

As most people in my life know, I am adopted. I have always believed that the early, troubling start to my life deeply impacted my self esteem, self worth, and ultimately, my weight. I was a chubby child (very much like my own beautiful daughter), but certainly not unhealthy. However, my adoptive family are all very petite and it worried my adoptive mom. With the best of intentions, she put me on diets starting around age 5. I remember kindergarten sack lunches being 1/2 a sandwich and an apple while the other children had lots of little snacks and goodies. Somewhere in my childish mind, I interpreted the diet as a lack of love.

I grew up looking like the red-headed step child (literally), and never felt like I belonged. Don't get me wrong... I love my parents. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they love me. But they chose to love me. They chose to parent me. The rest of the extended family just sort of got stuck with me. At least that's how it felt. In a world of thin, blond haired, blue-eyed Dutch beauties was me. Reddish-brown hair, brown eyes, chubby, always described as "cute" vs pretty. I longed for a family that I felt I belonged to. I desperately wanted to look at another person and see that my body wasn't WRONG, but simply genetics, and different from what I was surrounded with.

I remember hearing others innocently comment "I have my mom's eyes", or "I'm built just like my dad". I didn't know whose eyes I got. I was abandoned in the hospital at birth. I didn't get much handed down, other than a heart full of insecurities.

When I was 28, I decided to hire an intermediary to find my birth mother. I had a lifetime of hopes, fears, and fantasies hanging on it. Judith, the wonderful intermediary that I've worked with for over 10 years now, found my birth mother in the hospital. She was recovering from her 3rd stroke. Judith told her that I was looking for her, and for my history and answers. She told her that she had a letter I'd written her and would like to send it to her. She asked if there was any message, anything at all, that she'd like to send to me. Her answer crushed me.

"Tell her I didn't want her 28 years ago, and I don't want her now". That was the only inheritance my birth mother gave me. She broke my heart. But as God tends to do, He brought 2 good things from this horrible experience: 1) while searching for my birth mother, I learned that she had another child, a boy, 2 years after me who was also placed for adoption. I had a brother. 2) I was 28 years old, 420#, and had a family medical history of strokes! This terrified me. 6 months later, I walked into a hospital with a high risk of mortality, and had my gastric bypass surgery.

Life went on. My heart was so bruised from her rejection that the thought of searching for my "little" brother left me in a panic attack. Instead, I focused on life. I lost nearly 200#. I got married. I worked. I spent time with my parents. I had a child and reveled in motherhood. Then, about 3 years ago, while basking in the love for my child and the amazing thought that she and I shared blood and DNA, I decided I was ready to search again. This time for a brother who likely never was told I even existed.

I called dear Judith up again, and hired her (once again) to search for a piece of the puzzle of my history. A piece of me.

And she succeeded. My brother, Darin, had no idea that he had a sister. He knew he was adopted but had never wanted to talk about it. However, he was open to talking to me. We took it slow. Emails, texts, phone calls (we live 3 states away from each other). We got to know each other. We exchanged pictures of ourselves and our kids. It was amazing! To see yourself in another person! Over the years we became close, talked frequently, and discovered many similarities (like our dry, sarcastic sense of humor others often don't "get"). Finally, the time came to meet. 39 years of longing for my "real" family was going to come true.

In August, my husband, daughter, and I boarded a plan and flew to his home town. We got in late, so only he was there to meet us. We walked around an airport corner and entered the baggage claim area. Our eyes met, and I felt like I was coming home. That for the first time in my life, I wasn't an orphan. In his words, "Like life settled". I had family. I had origins. I wasn't a worthless child someone threw away. There wasn't anything inherently "wrong" about me. I wasn't an alien who showed up in another family with no history or beginning. Proof of my origins, of my blood line, of my family tree, was standing in front of me.

We spent 3 days getting to know each other and our families. Time passed way too quickly and it was time to go home. While together, we found some evidence that we may have the same birth father as well as birth mother. We contacted our dear Judith again, and a few days later it was confirmed. We are full siblings.

I did more healing in those 3 days with my brother than a lifetime of therapy could offer (and that's coming from a counselor!). I looked into eyes that look like a reflection of mine. I laughed dryly at humor no one else in the room got. I was able to see how much of my body image/issues are genetic and how much by choices. I think that in meeting him, I was able to see myself clearly for the first time.

Life goes on, but now it includes a special connection I never thought I'd have. I am very close to my brother. I'm flying out again in a couple weeks to spend another weekend with him (unfortunately without my husband and daughter this time due to finances). He is supremely supportive of my weight loss, past,present and future. He gets it... he has lived these same struggles. He gets me.


Saying goodbye


My daughter and sweet nephews

A friend, who is also an adoptive mother, and I were talking. While she was excited and happy for me, she said that it made her worry that her kids won't see her as their "real" family. Here's my thought on that.... we all know that a parent can love more than one child. They love them differently, based on the uniqueness of that child, but the same. Why can't a child love more than one family?

Personally, I'm so happy to have had this time, these moments, and the reflection and healing that it has prompted.

As Troy Dunn says, "You can't find peace until you find the missing pieces". I am finally finding my peace.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NICKLESPICKLES 10/29/2013 6:44PM

    Yay...I am so glad you found your brother and have created a life for you and your family. Blessings.

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2BFREE2LIVE 10/28/2013 10:37PM

    Hello my dear friend, so nice to see your blogs again.
I often thought of you and knew you were going through some painful times.
I am happy you found your brother and have a bond with him.
I am glad your back to blogging as it is a release and a way to reach others who care about you and your wonderful family.
Hang in there and all will be alright with life again.
Hugs, Sandy

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SUGAR0814 10/25/2013 10:50PM

    Congrats on finfing your brother.

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CATTUTT 10/25/2013 7:55PM

    This entry has been the highlight of my day. I am so happy for you that you found your brother and have a relationship now. That's absolutely wonderful. I can't imagine how amazing it must feel to have that in your life after all these years.

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KING_SLAYER 10/25/2013 3:57PM

    Congratulations on finding and getting to have a relationship with your brother. I know we all want happy endings but I'm sure you realize that you have to write off your mother in your mind. I agree with OBIESMOM2, she was nothing but a surrogate who carried you until the people who CHOSE to love YOU showed up to take you home.

I hope that all you have learned about who you are and where you come from has gone a long ways toward helping you heal emotionally.

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TWEETYKC00 10/25/2013 11:10AM

    Even if your hopes for your mother are gone, you can still have a great life as you seem to have now and you even have your brother as well! Things can work out for the best, even if the best isn't what we thought we wanted after all.

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OBIESMOM2 10/25/2013 11:06AM

    so glad you were able to find your blood relatives.

That woman who left you at the hospital? She was just a surrogate until YOUR mom was able to choose you. If she didn't want to meet you as an adult, that is her loss (and it's a BIG loss because you are wonderful)

I'm so excited for your surgery, too. I know it won't be easy, but you've been in such pain for so long. It must be nice to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
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Comment edited on: 10/25/2013 11:06:36 AM

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MATTEROFHEART 10/25/2013 11:02AM

    Wow! This is just beautiful! I am sitting here crying as I am reading. I am so happy for you and that you are finding peace in your life by finding the missing pieces of your life! You have a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing!

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Relosing regained weight, surgery, and a plan

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I know I've been MIA lately. In all honesty, I've been depressed about my injury and living in chronic pain, seeing no light at the end of this tunnel. And I've regained 30# of the 80 I lost last year. Sucks. But only I did it. And only I can change it.

My husband and I drove to Seattle Monday afternoon for yet another surgery consult with yet another surgeon. After 3 doctors telling me I'm "inoperable", my hopes were not set high. But we were shocked! She said Yes! Not only does she feel confident in repairing my very large hernia in one long, aggressive surgery, but she feels that the outcome long-term can be a good one. She feels that my "apron" of fat/skin from losing so much weight (about 160# from my highest weight right now) is impacting the hernia repairs. Having that much weight hanging and pulling down on the meshes has compromised them. She doesn't want to repair it for a 5th time without removing this barrier. So..... I'm getting it removed in surgery!

Surgery has been booked out 5 months, for 2 reasons:
1) I currently only have 6 weeks of FMLA left. It renews to 12 weeks in March. I will need about 10 weeks off work for the surgery and recover.

2) I need to lose nearly 50#. Every pound I lose before surgery will improve the outcome.

So.... while I continue in chronic pain, I am again HOPEFUL. Hope is everything. It has changed my outlook, my emotion, and my motivation. I can do this! I've done it once, I can do it again!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EOWYNRUSS 5/8/2014 6:14PM

    So glad you found a doctor who would operate on both issues! Did you have the surgery? How did it go?

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DICE80 10/31/2013 12:33AM

    Good Luck to you and congratulations on such good news. Hope your pain gets better soon.

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WILDFLOWERMA 10/28/2013 6:59PM

    I'm sorry to hear that you've been in pain, but so happy to hear you have a plan for success. Wishing you all the best. You've go this!

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MEH50BEWELL 10/25/2013 10:07AM

    That is great news! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SUGAR0814 10/24/2013 11:24PM

    emoticon emoticon

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AEROGIRL1594 10/24/2013 10:26PM

    I hope that this will improve your health! Good luck losing this weight, I know with your health as an obstacle it will be an even more difficult challenge, but I know that you can do it!
xoxo,
Emma
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ISPARKLE77 10/24/2013 10:06PM

    Glad you found a surgeon who can help you. It sounds very positive. It gives you a good incentive to work hard before the surgery. You go girl. emoticon

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CATTUTT 10/24/2013 7:21PM

    I'm so happy to hear you got some good news from the doctor, that's wonderful! Now you have some fantastic motivation to get that weight off, too!

Welcome back, hope to see you blogging more often!

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KING_SLAYER 10/24/2013 6:59PM

    Sounds like you have the perfect incentive to keep yourself motivated! Wow, I'm really glad for you being able to find a surgeon that would not only say yes, but say it enthusiastically!

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BEHAPPY0201 10/24/2013 3:17PM

    This dsoun like great news - I'm so happy for you!

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SEATTLE58 10/24/2013 3:07PM

    emoticon emoticon at finding a surgeon who will be working to help you get more and more healthy! emoticon I am so happy for you! I know that you can do it!! emoticon emoticon

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NHES220 10/24/2013 2:19PM

    That is great news! Good for you.


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ALLIEALLIE2 10/24/2013 1:38PM

    Hey good to see you! Glad things are better :)

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RENLLY 10/24/2013 12:50PM

    Great news that you found a surgeon to help you. Now you have extra motivation to lose weight. You can do this !

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ICEDEMETER 10/24/2013 12:23PM

    I am so happy for you that you found a surgeon who is confident that she can help you, and is also confident that you can do what it takes to help yourself! That's a sure sign that you're in great hands: when they trust you to work with them in partnership to get the best possible result.

I'm in a similar position (massive abdominal incisional hernia appeared last January, when I was at 240lbs), and my surgeon wants me at 170 for the surgery. It's now scheduled for the end of November, and I'm seeing him in a couple of weeks to discuss removing the "apron" at the same time - so that I can hopefully miss the issues that you've had. I'm allergic to mesh, so he's doing the repair just with stitching (I hope he's good at "needlework"!), and he's been very clear that I have to get to a healthy BMI and stay there for the rest of my life or I'll be at high risk of getting the hernia back.

You know the pain, too, so I'm sure you'll agree with me that the prospect of eating healthy forever is a pretty easy "sacrifice" to make in order to be able to live without it!

Strong thoughts to you - I know that you can do what you need to for the best possible result!

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SUECHRIS50 10/24/2013 12:05PM

    You Go Girl!!Great news!!You have come far and are doing a tremendous job with having the pain present.You are inspiring me since I have foot and back pain.I wonder at times why Im doing this journey!I've lost and gained weight several times and I'm just really tired of feeling like a yo-yo.You inspire me to keep going!! emoticon

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MATTEROFHEART 10/24/2013 12:03PM

    Wonderful news! I am so happy for you!!!!
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OBIESMOM2 10/24/2013 12:01PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
YOU CAN DO THIS! Heck, you've done it before. No, it will not be easy...you YOU WILL SUCCEED!
so good to hear from you. You've been in my prayers.

Comment edited on: 10/24/2013 12:01:19 PM

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Changes and challenges

Monday, August 05, 2013

Hello Sparkpeople friends! Just some reassurance that I am still here. :) I continue to struggle with my large abdominal hernia which has been deemed inoperable by 3 surgeons. This has taken my pain level way UP, and my activity level way DOWN. And I've gained back about 12#. :(

BUT! I'm not giving up. I'm still trying to eat right, and started Plexus Slim today after some friends have had good results. Since I can't really exercise, I've got to get the nutrition piece right!

I've also been busy with work and taking on a second job ( https://www.mythirtyone.com/378962/) selling Thirty-One gifts. At least I'm enjoying the time out of the house that Thirty-One is giving me. I was getting pretty depressed following the injury.

Anyway... just wanted to update.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KIM22211 8/29/2013 2:14AM

    do you have an update for us? Hope you are doing better!

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KIM22211 8/22/2013 6:20AM

    thanks for the update. Hope things are better for you even now!

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COOKIE_AT_51 8/12/2013 6:31AM

    emoticon good to know you are doing alright and pushing forward where you can. Not giving up is so important.

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COOKIE_AT_51 8/12/2013 6:29AM

    emoticon good to know you are doing alright and pushing forward where you can. Not giving up is so important.

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OBIESMOM2 8/6/2013 8:58AM

    emoticon emoticon
so good to hear from you! I've been worried. Sorry to hear about the set back. You are always in my prayers!

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SEATTLE58 8/6/2013 8:33AM

    Oh Dearie, I'm so sorry that you come to this, that you're told that your hernia is inoperable! That can't be! Have you thought about going to the Mayo Clinic in MN?! They take on situations that are beyond hope and turn people around. They're wonderful! I'm sure they would look at you and make you feel better at any rate! I've really thought of you over time and have been wondering how you are. Really! It's so good to hear from you and I'm wishing you the best for the future. I'm so glad that you keep busy!
emoticon Karen

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KING_SLAYER 8/6/2013 1:56AM

    I too am sorry to hear that 3 surgeons have told you that your hernia is inoperable, there must be something that can be done.

Conversely, I am glad to hear that you've found something to occupy your spare time and be able to enjoy yourself doing.

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2BFREE2LIVE 8/5/2013 11:53PM

    My dear friend so happy to see your still here on the site. I often think of you and your beautiful little girl.
I am so sorry that the surgery is to risky for you, I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.
Maybe something will come along to change the outcome of your situation.
Hugs to the little one and a big hug for you.
Sandy

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SUGAR0814 8/5/2013 11:42PM

    Sorry to hear about the hernia. There has got to be a surgeon somewhere willing to operate. Take care of yourself! emoticon

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Update... and perhaps a little TMI

Sunday, February 17, 2013

I haven't blogged for a while. Mostly because I have been very preoccupied with my health and just getting by.

As I've noted in a few status updates, my surgery was canceled due to an insurance authorization oops. I worked with the local surgeon's office to be tentatively scheduled for next week. Then I was reaching into a closet for something and felt a sharp pain in my abdomen. This resulted in ongoing and worsening pain that led to the ER. My hernia had torn even further. The local surgeon called my primary care provider and explained that while his ego wanted to tackle my hernia repair, he felt that he was "out of his depth", and needed to refer me to the University of Washington medical center. I had a CT scan on Friday, and images were also forwarded to UW.

My primary doctor called Friday afternoon with the CT scan results. Basically, my ventral hernia is huge... "about the size of a volleyball". Portions of small intestine, large intestine, and liver have herniated through the hole. However, there is no obstruction and blood flow is not at all compromised. It all boils down to this: I have a huge hole in my abdominal wall that needs to be surgically repaired. I continue to be in significant pain and am relying pretty heavily on medication.

And I am exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally. I spend most of my days sitting or laying down, doing very little physically in the hopes that the muscle doesn't tear any further. I don't have the mental energy to measure my foods and pre-plan what I'm eating. I'm trying to eat healthy options, but I'm relying on others to prepare my meals.

Since tomorrow is a holiday, I have to wait until Tuesday to hear from the specialist's office at UW. I am praying for a consultation appointment next week. This involves a 4 hours drive each way for us, as we live in South-Eastern Washington. But I will be there anytime they can see me. I HAVE to move on this. Waiting in pain can not continue to be my life. Besides, I started my FMLA leave from work on 2/6/13, and I only have 12 weeks of job protection.

HOWEVER.... I am surrounded by family and friends who are caring for me. I have a church family praying for me. I have a God who already knows the outcome of all of this. This too shall pass. I thank you for all the positive and loving thoughts, prayers, messages, etc that have been sent. I sincerely appreciate it!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHEP231 5/9/2013 6:10AM

  Thinking of you and wishing you well.
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KLMEIRING 2/22/2013 11:06PM

    Thanks for sharing what is happening. emoticon

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ROSIEPD 2/21/2013 9:46AM

    I hope things have progressed to take care of this surgery since this post, and that you are on the road to healing.

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JRM54100 2/19/2013 6:48AM

    Take it one day at a time and take care of yourself.

Everything else will get better in time.

Don't get frustrated.

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BLUEANGELLK 2/18/2013 9:03PM

    Praying for a speedy and perfect correction!!! Hang in there!

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SPARKLISE 2/18/2013 7:49PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LOLABLACK69 2/18/2013 2:05AM

    You're in my thoughts as well... Hope you'll really get well soon! emoticon emoticon

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WACFIT 2/18/2013 1:43AM

    Praying God's best for you. Take care.

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CARRAND 2/17/2013 8:32PM

    I'm so sorry for all that you are going through. I hope you can get your surgery done soon and successfully.

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RUNNING-TURTLE 2/17/2013 7:39PM

    Sorry to hear the surgery got cancelled. Hoping everything gets taken care of for you. Praying for you.

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SUGAR0814 2/17/2013 7:18PM

    I can't imagine the pain you are in. I'm praying for a quick recovery once you get your surgery.
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KING_SLAYER 2/17/2013 7:07PM

    Praying for a speedy access to surgery and a fast recovery. Best of luck to you! South Eastern Wa? Do you live in the Tri- cities area? I have a friend in that area and one in Spokane.

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AMYPLEGER62 2/17/2013 6:41PM

    You have been through so much! My heart and prayers are with you. emoticon

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OBIESMOM2 2/17/2013 5:20PM

    Sending you GENTLE hugs & lots of prayers

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2BFREE2LIVE 2/17/2013 5:10PM

    Keeping you in my prayers. I sure hope they hurry so you can be out of pain.
Hugs, Sandy

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GOODLOOKIN69 2/17/2013 4:55PM

    At this point you need to focus on staying as safe and healthy as you can. Measuring and tracking and all that can wait!!! I am sending good thoughts your way and hope that you stay positive. emoticon emoticon

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SEATTLE58 2/17/2013 4:53PM

    I feel so sorry for you, my dear! Hopefully you'll get through this trouble of yours and you'll be on toward a good, healthy life.

Lots of emoticon to you,

Karen emoticon

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SANDYCRANE 2/17/2013 4:16PM

    Hang in there. Glad to hear that you have your family helping you out. I will be thinking of you and hope everything goes okay.

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INAFFIT319 2/17/2013 3:56PM

    I'm keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. Hopefully this waiting game ends for you soon so that you can return to life as usual.

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Nothing says "Happy Valentines Day!" like a bedpan...

Friday, February 08, 2013

Or "Happy Birthday" for that matter. As surgery is on Tuesday afternoon, I will be in the hospital and drugged pretty efficiently for both my husband's 45th birthday on Wednesday, and V-day on Thursday. Doesn't that sound fun and romantic? emoticon

I'm actually pretty sad about this. Our 4 yr old thinks V-day is the best day ever. And I'd really like to be around to make my hubby's birthday special. So, rather than sitting around having a panic attack about surgery, I've been planning. I have little boxes of treats, cards, and coloring books/markers hidden on the bottom of my hospital bag. I've arranged for a good friend to go buy cupcakes and birthday balloons and deliver them to my hospital room early in the day so when my Hubby brings my daughter by for a visit, we can have a mini-party in my hospital room. Hopefully they will see that I've been thinking about them and doing what I can. I'm also hoping that this will make visiting me in the hospital less traumatic for my little one.

As for weight loss... well, I'm not eating much. Not by choice, but simply because the hernia has gotten so large that it is putting a lot of pressure on my stomach. When I eat, there is very little room before I feel sick. Last night some dear friends delivered homemade chicken noodle soup, stuffed with veggies and home made noodles. With cheese bread, salad, and apple turn overs. I ate about 1/2 a cup of noodles and broth with 2 bites of bread. That was the most food I'd eaten in 2 days.

Activity is very limited. I tire easily (likely from the pain and the medication), and I'm fearful of anything making the hernia worse at this point. Naps, TV, and reading are filling my days. Yesterday a friend took me shopping for a new robe and pj's for the hospital. We walked at a slow pace and shopped for about an hour. I returned home exhausted.

I can not tell you how much I appreciate the continued prayers, thoughts, notes, emails, and goodies. My sparkfriends are the best! emoticon

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KLMEIRING 2/16/2013 8:56AM

    Hoping that you are feeling better very soon! emoticon

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LOLABLACK69 2/11/2013 5:07AM

    Good luck with your surgery... You'll be in my thoughts aswell. Keeping my fingers crossed for you! emoticon

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EOWYNRUSS 2/10/2013 10:04PM

    I feel for you. I had abdominal surgery (colon resection) the week before Christmas. My hubby brought in a string of Christmas lights, and hung them up in my room. They really helped. Perhaps your hubby can put a few V day decorations up, to help your little one feel more at home. My recovery has been very quick and mostly trouble free, I wish you an even better recovery. Hang in there. Good luck! emoticon emoticon

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GOODLOOKIN69 2/9/2013 2:58PM

    Once this is over with you will feel soooo much better! I hope you have as much fun as you can celebrating and that you recover quickly. I'll be thinking of you! emoticon emoticon

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KING_SLAYER 2/8/2013 9:14PM

    You will come through this with flying colors, I just know it. And you have shown yourself to be a thoughtful and loving person, placing the needs and wants of your husband and child over your own. Nobody could blame you for not doing these things that you have planned, yet you are willing to do them all the same. Wonderful person you are.

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WACFIT 2/8/2013 6:04PM

    Some great ideas with the hospital party. You will get through this, feel better, and have it behind you soon! emoticon

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SEATTLE58 2/8/2013 5:48PM

    I've been thinking of you off and on so much these past days and then now and I know I will all the more for the coming days too. I hope that from here on out, your time will good in all ways. Your husband's birthday party and V-Day party plans sound so wonderful! That's sounds just like a caring, loving wife and mother planning like that. emoticon I'm originally from Seattle you know, so I KNOW you'll get the best of care! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CARRAND 2/8/2013 4:40PM

    emoticon emoticon

Your plans for your husband's birthday sound special. I hope all goes well for you.

When I broke my ankle 3 years ago, my husband waited on me hand and foot. What a treasure a good husband is.

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RUNNING-TURTLE 2/8/2013 1:44PM

    Sounds like Valentine's and your hubby's birthday ought to turn out a little bit brighter with your thoughts and ideas. Definitely rest up, you will need it.

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SUGAR0814 2/8/2013 1:12PM

    emoticon I'm sure your family will enjoy all the activities you have planned.

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COXBETH 2/8/2013 11:42AM

    I'm so excited for you that things are moving forward. I wish you didn't have to go through the lethargy and pain right now though. :(

The V-day celebration sounds AWESOME! I agree that a 4-yo view of what's going on could be super super scary, but it sounds like you are turning something that is new and frightening into something that she can really enjoy. Instead of being a place full of scary machines, she'll remember that it was full of decorations and fun stuff. I know that will help in the future if (heaven forbid) she ever goes in herself or needs to go visit someone else. And it will be easier for her knowing that Mommy is in a place that is all about a party, rather than a scary place.

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MARIANNE9855 2/8/2013 11:42AM

    What a thoughtful mom and wife you are to have all those plans for your family even when you are feeling bad and will be having surgery! Your family must love you very much. emoticon

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TRACYLYNN853 2/8/2013 11:35AM

    emoticon

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