Monday, June 27, 2011

What a Week

What a week we have had! Quite honestly, I remember bits and pieces from this past week after being drugged up on all the meds they sent me home with following surgery. Well, let me re-phrase that, the meds that I was put on at the ER. On Saturday hours after the surgery, the pain became so intense that Kevin had to take me to the ER to get me stronger pain pills. I ended up being prescribed types of pain pills, a muscle relaxer and phenegran to keep it all down. This is why I don't recall too much of that week. The couch has become my best friend, as it hurts to much to walk up the steps and it's the only place I can find a comfortable position. Pillows on all around my upper body and a body pillow that I am cuddling up to. FYI: I really miss sleeping in my bed next to my husband! I keep hoping that in the next couple of days I will be able to sleep upstairs. The pain is still pretty intense and the recovery harder than I ever anticipated. I am not able to sit because of the pain, when I do, I sit crooked. Thankfully, the kids were actually pretty well behaved and Kev was amazing with taking care of me throughout the week with him being home.

During the week, the kids constantly asked me if I needed anything. Every time I moved, someone was near me asking what I needed. I couldn't even head to the bathroom without being told to just stay where I was and let them take care of me. Sorry guys, this one is a little bit too personal for that. I told them unless they could empty my bladder then had to move. haha. I did end up back in the ER over the week for not being able to urinate for more than 24 hours. They put a catheter in to empty me out and there was a lot to empty. Then it took me about 15 more hours to be able to go on my own.

On Wednesday the girls made a tent in their room with blankets and slept on the floor. On Thursday they asked me if they could do it in the backyard and sleep there. They made the tent, but slept inside. I'm pretty sure the tent was just for them to play in. Real cute idea! I love how these three have amazing imaginations!

On Friday, they decided they wanted to make the tent again, only this time we broke out the two man tent and put it up in the backyard. Once up, they grabbed their sleeping bags, more blankets, pillows, flashlights, and other things and headed to the backyard for a night of camping out. To our surprise, they actually slept all night in the tent! Kevin and I never thought they would make it through the night. The next morning they could not stop talking about how awesome it was to camp in the backyard! Made us feel like awesome and cool parents! lol. They asked again for Saturday night, but that idea only lasted a few minutes before they realized they would rather stay in their room. Probably because of how dark it was...I wish I had taken more pics of this for them! Next time!!!

On Sunday, I felt like doing something with them for being so awesome and helpful during the week, so we made Edible Carrot Gardens. Way cute idea!  The carrot gardens we made from vanilla wafers as the sides and bottom, chocolate wafers or oreo style crushed cookies, orange Mike & Ikes, chocolate frosting to hold it together, and green licorice style candies. Super easy and fun for the kids! They get to eat it, so it doesn't take up crazy room in the house and the kids loved it! Great dessert!

Thank you so much for the ones that have stood by my side through the past week and the aftermath of the surgery! You guys are all amazing and I am so lucky to have each of you in my life. I love you all! Thanks for getting me through this crazy mess and keeping me positive. Thank you to my husband, for never letting me down and being more than I could have asked for during this time and always. I love you more than any amount of words can ever express!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Surgery on a Saturday

What a day full of craziness! I finally managed to fall asleep around two or so this morning and woke up to the dreaded sound of my alarm clock ringing at 3:45. Not a great way to start the day at all! By 4am, we were headed out the door and on the way to the hospital. I had to finish up my registration and check in. By 545 I was in the triage area and being prepped to go to the OR area. Kev and Nic were allowed to sit with me, even though they aren't suppose to, which kept me so much more calmer. I needed them with me before undergoing another surgical procedure. My nerves were a wreck this morning. Once we headed to the OR triage/recovery area, they allowed Kevin and Nic to continue staying with me until taken back to the operating room.

While in the OR triage, the anesthesiologist placed a patch behind my ear and went ahead and started me on phenegran because I ALWAYS end up so sick and vomiting everywhere after surgery from the anesthesia. This doc was awesome with the way he cared for me. He also gave me a different type of anesthesia for this surgery to help with me getting sick. This surgery was the first one that I woke up in just pain and NOT sick! Amazing difference. It hurts like crazy to vomit following a surgical procedure. When I woke up, couldn't open my eyes yet, but I was calling out in pain and asking for something for the pain I was in. Over the next couple of hours I had three or four injections and a couple pain pills. The pain did let up some, finally, and I was able to home after a few hours. One of the things that stands out with this hospital, the nurses, and surgical team was their generosity and hospitality. Every time I got up to use the restroom, I was welcomed back to my bed with fresh, warm blankets. How cool is that? They took off my old ones. The RN's wanted to make sure that I wasn't cold before and after the procedure. I have never seen medical staff like that.

We were able to leave the hospital around lunch time and made it home shortly after. While at home, I was able to catch ten to twenty minute naps, but nothing to amount to anything. Over a few hours the pain started to grow entirely too intense, so I finally broke down and called a nurse to ask questions. She then told me I needed to proceed to the ER in order to get my pain in control (which is why this wasn't posted yesterday). She also informed me that they should have kept me overnight to monitor my vitals and pain management. We went to Beaumont since they can place this in my records, but the nurse there told us to expect a six hour wait. Yes, you read quickly! Six hours.... There was no possible way I could even think about sitting that long. Just won't happening. So, we headed to Providence and I was in my room in about twenty minutes,

At Providence we found out that my blood pressure was way too low, so they had to give me more meds. They think it's because I can't seem to overcome the anemia from last year's surgery   Then they pumped me full of some pain meds and phenegran. Let me just tell you... pain was gone and I was out from being so drugged up. haha. They sent me home with phenegran to help control my sickness and three forms of pain meds to take. Have to keep this all under control.

Now, I am home and still hurting like crazy. The ER doctor explained to me that this surgery is one of the worst ones on the spine and takes a very long recovery. They had to actually cut through the bone. Ouch!

Thank you for all the prayers, comments, calls, texts, and support through all of this. Each of you that have been here for me are awesome and amazing! I have been so blessed to have each of you in my life and truthfully do not know what I would do without all of you!

And a HUGE thank you to my wonderful husband, Kevin and to our kids! You four have helped so much already and have been more than I could ask for. I would be lost without you guys and could never thank you enough. I love you guys!

All my love,

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Anxiously Waiting

Here is is, 1230 and my body feels past the point of exhausted, yet there is no way to just shut my mind down. I have a million thoughts just racing through my head and the anticipation of surgery is beginning to eat away at me.  Earlier today I found myself literally in tears because I am just so tired of all these health problems. I am 28 years old and have had multiple surgeries and issues. I have spent many weeks in the hospitals. I have undergone more procedures and tests than I could ever remember. Looking in the mirror I always see scars that are a constant reminder of surgeries. The way I feel more days than one should be allowed to, whether in pain or just not well, is a constant reminder of the fact that I can't get up and go like people my age, like I use to. So much has changed and so many things will never be as they once were.

I am feeling all over the place as I write this. My mind is running rancid and honestly, I find myself scared over another surgery. Yes, this is a spinal one and the type it is has very limited worries to it. With that being said, I can't help but to struggle with the fears after the last surgery ended up the way it did. For those of you who are not aware of what I am referring to, click kidney failure (august) and kidney failure (November). I keep telling myself that my strength, belief in God, and close family, friends, and all the prayers combined are what kept me here and have kept me going. It hasn't been easy since August, but I am here. There is still some of me that is trying to recover. Like, I am still anemic. I am not sure that will ever change. It really takes a toll on me some days. My kidneys aren't what they use to be, nor will they ever be again. I have to watch what I eat, drink, and what medications I put into my body in order to keep my kidneys functioning. I had never even had a kidney infection before August.... So I can't help but to find myself fearing this surgery.....

Thank you friends and family that have been by my side through all of this. Not just here and there or day before or when convenient... but through everything. I can never express what your prayers and concerns mean to me and my family. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You guys have kept me pushing and striving to always keep going. You have kept the positive side in me when I have felt it crashing. Thank you.

I will update on here as soon as I feel up to it.

I love you all!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Messy Wing Night & Medical Update

Tonight while eating dinner we discovered another way on how Nicholas is so much like Kevin! It really is quite frightening to be honest. Kevin and I have always been huge fans of either making wings or ordering some. The girls like them, but it's not something they go out of their way to ask for. Nicholas LOVES chicken, especially wings! Tonight for dinner we grilled some awesome wings! Of course, Kevin always makes his own mix of sauces...never tasting the same but always amazingly tasty! Tonight was absolutely no different. All three kids inhaled the wings. Nic decided to literally eat everything off the bone and pretty much lick it clean. I was quite grossed out when I heard a "crunch" from him taking a piece of the bone off. Yuck! I had to start taking bones away before he ended up choking himself. Caitlin and Nic we so overly messy once finished. Of course Caitlin went into the bathroom to wash her hands and face, while Nic had other plans. He decided to lick every single finger then even started licking his palms. I was able to take pictures of Nicholas while he was chowing down and Caitlin's messiness after eating, but wasn't able to get one of Bre.

Medical Updates:

Let's just start with, we have a very busy summer on our hands now! On Saturday I go in for my spinal surgery at six in the morning. The procedure itself should take less than an hour, but we will have to spend a little time before and a couple hours after in recovery, then I should be on my way home. As of right now, they are planning on it being an outpatient procedure, but are fully aware of my medical conditions, so if need be, they will admit me. They will be monitoring me with more machines and doctors than they typically do because of my kidneys and overall health. My kidney function came back today in the normal range! Yay. That is always nice to see. However, as we all know, that can change in a matter of minutes with my condition. Please say a prayer. My thyroid panel also came back in the normal range, which means that I can go through with this procedure. If it ever comes back abnormal, I have to wait until I am in the normal range for at least six weeks unless it is an emergency since I do not have a thyroid gland. We learned this the hard way in 2005 when I had to have an emergency laparoscopy from multiple ovarian cysts that ruptured at one time. I was sent to ICU following the procedure. We were in Germany at the time. They were not able to get me to wake up after the surgery due to my health. It was pretty scary. It took more than half the day of me being closely monitored in ICU before they could take me to my room. I don't remember much about it at all, but I do know that Kevin was freaking out because they told him to expect me in a little over an hour and it was HOURS later. Yes, we were at a German hospital, so the language barrier made it difficult at times. Unstable thyroid panels can send a person into a coma from the anesthesia. Needless to say, I am sure you all understand my excitement now over my levels being normal. I have to have them checked every six to eight weeks, which is quite often. The only somewhat worrisome part on my labs was my RBC (red blood count). It is showing I am still anemic. I just haven't been able to keep it up and normal since I went into kidney failure the first time in August. It's very frustrating and really upsets me to be honest. But, that is a different topic for a different day. After my surgery, the full recovery takes between six months to a year! Not looking forward to that, but I will say it will be better to be in pain while recovering than to experience the pain I am now with nothing to look forward to.

On Friday I had to have two biopsies, one on my face and the other on my shoulder. If you have never had to have that done by a dermatologist, feel lucky! The numbing injection BURNS like crazy! I now know exactly what Kev was talking about when he had his done earlier this year. Insane! Anyhow, the doctor wasn't too concerned about the spot on my jaw line, but was somewhat concerned about the spot on my shoulder and mentioned Basal Cell Carcinoma. I should know something by Friday on each one. I am praying that it is benign, like he said it probably is. One skin cancer person is enough. Kev's surgery was a success to remove another spot of Squamous Cell Carcinoma! His face and scar look great!

Kevin saw his neurosurgeon today and disc replacement surgery has been scheduled for later next month. They are replacing his C4 and C5 discs and doing a fusion on the area directly below it. He is looking forward to the surgery and the fact that soon he will feel much better. In 2007 he was thrown from the turret of his vehicle while gunning after they were hit with an IED. During this time, he broke his elbow, messed up his back, busted the front top portion of his head, and now has permanent TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) from it. *This is what caused he permanent nerve damage in both arms that led to the ulnar nerve replacement surgeries at the end of 2009. His arms are so much better! His left arm is great, but his right arm isn't as strong as we hoped it would be. He is able to open and close both hands again and does have feeling back for the most part.* Back to the disc replacement. The recovery is about 6-8 weeks overall. The first few days will be somewhat hard and he will stay overnight in the hospital the night of the procedure. I can't wait for Kev to get through the recovery and to see him without being in so much pain all the time! I am ready to take on this recovery with him just to see him in a better condition!

As far as my pelvic/abdominal issues, the surgeon I was sent to explained that this surgery is even too much and complicated for him. I am seeing my GYN on July 7 to see what our next plan of action is. She may want to do a clean up laparoscopy because the adhesions need to be cleaned out again. She has already mentioned that. I will update on here as soon as I hear something in a couple weeks!

The summer may be busy, but I have no doubts over it and know Kevin and I can tackle it head on!

On a bright note, this month marks eleven years of Kevin and I being together. How awesome is that?!?! At the end of the day, I can honestly say, our marriage and relationship is better now than it has ever been. It's an amazing thing to look at my husband eleven years later and feel more in love than ever before! We sure have come a long ways!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Things That Make my Heart Melt

Caitlin and Nic sat in the living room floor and worked on his pre-school cards for well over an hour! She was amazing with him and has been pretty good lately wanting to work with Nic.

Nic drawing while we were at the doctors office. Lovin' the camo hat!

Kevin in his glasses... With or without them, he still makes my heart melt! He hasn't let me take a picture of him in his glasses yet, so I kind of had to sneak this one in! : )

I'm just missing a more recent pic of Bre... : ( Of course she is part of what makes my heart melt too!

Funny moment the other day.... Caitlin and Nic were playing in his room, when something happened and a normal "argument" broke out between the two of them. Instead of Nic doing the normal thing and fight with her, he stood up and walked out of his room. While walking out, he tells her in a frustrated voice, "That's it. I'm moving out". I stood in the kitchen, trying to regain my composure when I heard him walking my way. Of course I caught myself in laughter. I asked him where he was moving to. Nic informed me "away from her". Haha. Then he told me that he wouldn't leave me so make her go. Where does this kid come up with these things?

We are now bring the first week of them being out of school to a close. I was kind of worried how it would be, but honestly, they have actually been pretty good! I can't complain. Like every set of siblings, they have had their moments, but overall, they haven't been too bad. Bre is going through a phase that makes me want to pull my hair out at certain moments throughout the day. She has become very opinionated and tries to tell Nicholas what to do. Needless to say, we are trying to break her of these things.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Toddlers and Tiara's

Earlier today I was working on some things when a commercial came on advertising the show Toddlers & Tiaras. Instantly I found myself irritated over the behavior of these "moms" and the way they treat their kids and the way they themselves act. It's a disgrace to many of us. I pulled this from a post I did awhile back on another blog of mine and thought I would share on here.

 I absolutely LOVE watching TLC, NATGEO, Animal Planet, and so many other channels, as well as the shows they allow audiences to view. I love certain reality shows. Not the trash type ones, but the ones that let you into the real lives of other people. Whether it be Real Women of Dallas/Cincinnati, Ganglands, Border Wars, Sarah Palin’s Alaska…whatever. I really enjoy the shows that leave you thinking about life; the ones that can open your eyes to what others have been through, and have you wanting to make changes or know what roads not to go down. However, the one show that really gets under my skin, more than any other show, is Toddlers in Tiara’s.  Really? Moms and Dads out there that participate in this or even consider participating in this need to be slapped! How do you even find it acceptable to put your daughters through this mess? Yes, I am aware that every little girl wants to look, dress, and feel like a princess, I do have two of my own, but to subject your daughters to a world that they have no business in is just not right for many reasons. Your children need to hold onto their innocence as long as possible and embrace childhood. They do not need to be paraded onto stages, dressed in ten pounds of makeup, spray on tans, hair all made up and perfect, heels, “cone” boobs, and bratty attitudes. That is just beyond ridiculous. When do they have the opportunity to even act as a child? Oh wait, is it their time when they are practicing or about to go on stage, pitching a fit, with a pacifier in their mouth? If you are going to subject them to that type of environment then at least pull the pacifier out! They can’t be both baby and “grown” child. Make your pick.  Every time I see the commercials for this show I just cringe. It seems so unfair for these little girls. The one that really makes me go insane is the bratty girl, standing near the stage, screaming with a pacifier in her mouth. She needs to lose it! I could never bring myself to watch that show just because I feel it is wrong! Sure, put your daughters in beauty pageants, I see no issues with that. However, there is no reason to make your child live the life of Toddlers in Tiaras. No child at the toddler stage should know what a full out competition is or should know how to throw a tantrum because they did not win. No toddler should know the term “diet” and find it acceptable that they need to remain a certain size.

*Before any comments are made, no I am not an overweight woman. I am 5’3” and 115 lbs at most. I do have two daughters, they are 8 and 9 and both tall and slim. So, being overweight is not even an issue in my house. Yes, we eat healthy, but no, we do not stick with strict diets.* 

Children of the toddler age, and even older, need to be around children of their own ages. They should be learning how to properly communicate and their brains should be filled with subjects such as the alphabet, colors, shapes, numbers, Church and Jesus, children’s songs, family outings, and so much more. They should be outside playing at the park, riding their bikes and tricycles, playing tag and hiding-go-seek, swinging and sliding, playing in the dirt, finding pure excitement in a new puppy and growing with their new family member. Oh, how my list could go on and on. Put them in dance, gymnastics, or any other sport that they find intriguing. You should not be pushing them onto a stage, prancing around in small outfits, showing off their innocent bodies, and making moves that the girls are your local strip club are making. Parents of today’s society should be examined before they are allowed to be blessed with children. You should never live vicariously through your children. This is their lives, let them enjoy it. Let them have the memories that most of us have as they mature into adults. Let them interact with children their own ages. LET THEM BE CHILDREN!  There should be certain times and certain ages before a child is allowed to act the way you allow your children to act. They should grow up knowing the meaning of class and respect, as well as holding onto to their innocence. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Girls Day Out: Tubing on the Rio

The girls and I decided to spend a couple hours floating on our tubes in the Rio Grande. We spent well over two hours floating from the bridge area that Kev dropped us off at to another bridge area that he picked us up. The time spent was much needed for the three of us. We laughed and talked the whole time. Caitlin did her normal and fell out of the float a few times. There were areas that we had to get up and walk because of how shallow the water turned out to be and other places that were deeper than I am tall... Yes, I know that doesn't say too much since I'm obviously not that tall!

Towards the end of our time in the river, we saw Kev and Nic watching us and taking pictures as we neared the area they were at. Of course, we let Nic join us for the last ten minutes and he thought it was "so cool".

Sunny Saturday at the Rio Grande

What a wonderful and much needed afternoon we had at the Rio Grande. This afternoon we took the kids and their floats to the river...this time we remembered to take chairs for us. We ended up spending almost three hours sitting at the river and watching the kids have a super fantastic time playing, swimming, floating, and just splashing around. We picked up some arm floats for Nicholas and those alone made him more comfortable playing in the water this time. Caitlin was fantastic with Nic today and had fun taking him to the deeper areas on one of the floats. She would let him get on then pull him around. Times like that make me feel more blessed than words can express and honestly make me feel that whatever we have been doing to raise these three we have been doing right. They fight like crazy, but there is so much love between them it is unreal. Like last night, they fought and argued and drove us absolutely insane, but before bed they all three hug and tell each other they love each other before going to bed. This is not something that we make them do, because they just do it on their own. My heart melts when I see them like this. Maybe through it all, even when my doubts and fears have been the most strong, Kevin and I have been doing something right with raising this crazy kids!

While playing in the Rio today, a woman from nearby showed up with a kayak that she explained she takes out quite often during the summer months. The kids were quite intrigued with seeing this "boat" and wanted to check it out. Not only did she have no problems with them looking at it, but she also invited them over to it to get in and try it out. To them, this was one of the coolest things ever and made their day even better. I could not thank her enough for making their day that much better!

Their laughter and smiles made the day all worthwhile! 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

I'm Now on Twitter

Yes... you really read right!

 I decided earlier tonight to create a Twitter account...something I NEVER thought I would do. There are a few reasons I opened this account, but the main reason is for another way to reach out to Vets and their families. As most of you know, I am on the Board of Directors and very active with I absolutely love what I do and just being an advocate for families after combat helps me in many ways. Yet, the most rewarding part of it is being able to help someone else. There is just something about the many emails that I have received lately letting me know what I am doing is an inspiration or that my experiences have helped them see light at the end of the tunnel. That alone is worth more than anything else. I do what I do for the sake of others. Life is hard. Life after combat can feel impossible to get through and it's very easy to lose that sense of hope and sanity while taking in everything. I know after years of my husband battling PTSD, there were days I felt I couldn't take anymore and wanted to run as far away as I possibly could. After all this time, therapy, and medications, he still isn't where he use to be, nor will he ever be. But, I will keep fighting and remain by his side as I have done for this long.

Anyhow, I opened this Twitter account as another way to reach out! I am sure as time goes on and there are other things with other organizations that I work with from time to time, you will also see links to them.

Follow me:!/BrittneyBiddle

If you have a Twitter account let me know!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fun in the Sun at the Rio Grande

Over the weekend, we found ourselves staying around the house, trying to get little things done that we were behind on. Kevin had CQ on Saturday, so needless to say he was gone for about 26 hours while on his 24 hour duty. During this time, I was able to complete the real estate course I have been testing out and able to get everything turned in. Sunday night, after being cooped up, I had to get out. Breanna and I decided to go on a 2.5 mile walk to the river. The one perk about where we live is how nice this area is and the fact that the river is literally a walk away! While we were down there, we found a really good place to let the kids run and play in the water and possibly cook out.

On Monday afternoon, we took the kids to the river to let them splash around. We didn't realize how shallow one area of the Rio Grande is until the girls went running through it. Nicholas was even able to run all through it with half his body staying above the water. Perfect place for them. The area we ended up at is under a large bridge, so it kept Kev out of the sun. Since he was diagnosed with skin cancer, we try as much as we can to stay out of the sun's strong part of the day. Typically, it's never an issue, which is good. For a little over an hour the kids had a blast and there wasn't anyone else on the side that we were on. At the other side of the bridge area there were a few people. The guys over there got in the water and it ended up being a little more than waist deep on them...adults. Needless to say we kept the kids on the side that we were on. The girls played all over the river, hopping from island to island, while Nic stayed close to shore...if not on shore with me and Kevin. He did, however, decide to go to the middle on some land and pee in front of everyone. This kid leaves me at a loss some days! Lol. He is just so different from the girls.

Of course, when it came time to leave they all wanted to stay, so we promised them if they could behave this week, we would go back on Saturday. As of right now, we are planning to go back Saturday afternoon with food and the grill to stay for a couple hours. A few friends may be joining us as well this time around. A perfect way to spend the day before surgeries in the next couple of weeks!

**The girls decorated the second set of photos and changed the color**