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Yesterday I turned 40

I haven’t forgotten this blog.

I know it looks that way as my posts dropped off from at least once or twice a month to zero in a year, but it’s often on my mind. Perhaps this post will silently explain the busyness and importance of life around me that prevents my public writing. The words are there, in my mind, they just don’t make it all the way to here.

As I reflect back over my 30s, it is a decade of mostly imminence joy, but also deep sorrow. On one hand I would likely consider it “the best decade of my life.” And yet, there is one dark blotch of sadness that makes me hesitant to label it as such. <— This is as far as I got in writing before my younger brother (who lives over 2,000 miles away) slammed into my sliding glass door startling me into practically having a heart attack. He had flown in (unbeknownst to me) and came along with my older brother and his family to surprise me for my birthday.

Since that point on Saturday, it’s been birthday celebrations and surprises. I didn’t get a chance to finish my thoughts.

Now, the day after my birthday, I couldn’t sleep. Perhaps this is the very definition of being “old.” Although reality suggests it’s more likely I have an early apt at the DMV to renew my license and my brain is terrified I’ll miss it. I hardly ever set alarm and if I sleep in, I’ll need to drive around illegally for the next month.

I do intend to complete my original thoughts for this post but I’ll leave you with this, a bullet point summary of the last ten years.

*2010 – I turned 30 and 9 days later, got married

*2011 – JJ had a short hospital stay. I was laid off about three weeks after he came home. Our house was invaded with bedbugs.

*2012 – We started our debt free journey and learned we were expecting our first child.

*2013 – I was laid off again, four months before Zayden was born. We finished paying off 46,000 dollars of debt in 22 months.

*2014 – We traded in my beloved Jetta of 10 years to purchase a minivan.

*2015 – Elliot was born.

*2016 – I had open heart surgery. Four months after surgery, we sold our town home and moved to our current house.

*2017 – We took a family road trip to visit my brother Tim and his family in South Dakota. Robin was born.

*2018 – Tim died.

*2019 – I started seeing a counselor and taking medicine to help recover from medical PTSD. We officially started homeschooling. We celebrated our 9th anniversary with a kid-free trip to Disney World.

*2020 – The pandemic began and I turned 40.

I hope to elaborate on some of these items more in future days. If you are curious about anything from 2016 and earlier, just search this blog. I’ve written in detail about many of those items already.

Thanks for reading this disjointed, understated reflection of a decade in the life of one who knows she’s living in Bonus Time.

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I have stuff to say

With Jimmy Kimmel and his son’s diagnosis in the news, along with the fact that the end of this month marks one year since my most recent Open Heart surgery, I have stuff to say.

Plus, we just announced two days ago I’m pregnant with our third kid. (Due in October. Yay!!!)

This takes time and energy – I don’t have an overwhelming amount of either at this moment so I’m making this place holder blog.

If you want to read up on my original Pulmonary Atresia diagnosis and being born in 1980 with CHD, you can find my story (With pictures!) here, here, and here.

I hope to address some more specific issues that have been talked about the last couple days because of Kimmel’s story soon.

Thanks for stopping by.
***Update*** I never had time to go back and write a post, so here are some of my thoughts I did share on Facebook:

From my personal page on May 5th: The following is a comment I posted on a fb article. Some of my thoughts regarding Kimmel’s son, our broken system, and Congential Heart Defects. 

You get a repost because my brain is exhausted and full to the brim with recent insurance, care, CHD, and pre-existing conditions talk. **edit: and for it’s worth, I wrote this before yesterday’s AHCA stuff. I know little to nothing about it. This pregnant wife, mother of two, CHD patient has other things consuming the day. 😊** 

“Hi. An adult here, born with CHD. In fact, very similar to Billy Kimmel, I was born with pulmonary atresia. Complete blockage of the pulmonary valve. A death sentence if not immediately addressed. (I had my first surgery at 24 hrs old in 1980.)

It wasn’t an issue so much when I was a kid (parents insurance, etc) or when I was working full time (group insurance typically covers pre-existing conditions) – my issues are now. 

Zero ACA plans cover the specialized cardiologists in our area. Regular cardiologists can’t help me and ACA plans (which we can’t afford) don’t even cover the cardiologists that can help me.  

Insurance is NOT the same as Care.

It’s extremely complicated. The old system was broken and the new system is also broken.

At the same time, I don’t want single payer because waiting lists and lines kill people like me. They kill people like Billy that grow up and are no longer cute kids.
I’d rather take this Kimmel coverage and have people taking about CHD. The Number ONE birth defect. Did you know that? 

1% of kids are born with CHD, yet it receives very little coverage and very little research. Kids born with CHD like Billy and me need life long monitoring (at minimum).

There is no cure. Once a heart defect, always a heart defect. Yes there are repairs and some can lead fairly “normal” lives, but it’s never gone, cured, or fixed.

I wish we were talking about that.

Want more info on CHD? Check out the Adult Congenital Heart Association.  

https://www.achaheart.org
Not the American heart association. They tend to ignore us ;-)”

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8 months

Yesterday was a remarkable day. As of yesterday, I’m married to a 40 year old! I LOVE this because it is so surreal. I’ve been living in bonus time long enough to be married to a 40 year old!

Also, it marked 8 months since heart surgery.  I’m feeling fabulous.

As a matter of fact, on Sunday, the people sitting next to us at church complimented me on my singing, at which point I became pretty embarrassed. Our church music is loud so I always assume I can sing at the top of my lungs and no one can actually hear me. Ha! But I write not for compliments on my voice (if you know me, I’m a choir kid, not a soloist.)  I’m telling you because I was wonderful to be able to tell them – “Hey! It’s a God thing! I had heart surgery. And with my improved heart function, God returned my ability to sing like I used to.” All to his glory.

Living and singing in Bonus Time. (and Loving it!)

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We moved!

It’s why I haven’t posted in a while. (Packing stuff, moving stuff, painting, and unpacking stuff takes a lot of time.)

Sadly, it’s late so I don’t have time to write much now – just wanted to let you know we actually moved to our new house.

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A day to relax.

The last few days, weeks, months have been a whirlwind.

From surgery and my mom being here, us deciding to move, to my in-laws visiting and helping us fix up the house. From the last week finishing up cleaning and to making sure we were out of the house the last 4 days – wow. Today we are “relaxing”.

Well – now that I’m home from my trek to the grocery store. Our fridge was barren. Last week we ate all the leftovers so I’d didn’t have to keep cooking and get our kitchen dirty. And this weekend, we ate out.

It’s 11:30. The baby is napping and the three year old is in the other room playing. (He is making his matchbox cars talk. One car is telling the other there is a surprise and the other car is guessing. Sonic? Nope. Mark & Liz’s house? Nope… I’m really curious what his make believe surprise will be.)

So for the moment I’m going to kick back and rest. Maybe watch The olympics. 

Uh oh – Z needs help. That was a nice five minutes. 🙂

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Week from tomorrow

Our house will be listed to sell a week from tomorrow.

All of the major work is done! (Hooray!)

We still have one big cleaning project and a few smaller projects to do so we can finish taking pictures for the listing, but it feels like we are finally close to being ready.

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Almost pain free

I’ve entered a more frustrating part of healing.

I’ve now gone over 24 hours without any pain meds. Thank you Lord!

However, this also makes it more difficult to remember to stick to my restrictions. 

I’m only 35. I’d rather not do something dumb, mess up my healing chest bone and then regret it for the rest of my life.

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Normal sleep

Well, almost. After almost two weeks of sleeping on hospital beds, couches, recliners, surrounded and propped up by pillows, last night I was able to sleep in my own bed, lay flat with just a pillow under my head. And it was glorious.

This best night of sleep yet was also assisted by the stepping down of some of my meds. Medicine affects my head pretty bad so when it comes to sleep, I get unrestful, crazy, intense, often violent, dreams.

Here are a few examples of my dreams:

*I was framed for murder.

*Booth & Bones (from the show bones) turned into blue cat people trying to solve a murder before the three of us were attacked

*Some friends were fishing with guns (instead of fishing polls) and then showed me a huge knife collection from China

*Another friend was driving us around in her car. Except I was in the driver seat and she was 2 rows back with hand controls. It was raining and she wasn’t paying attention so I had a front row view to multiple car accidents we were almost in. Then we got to her house only to have a swat team arrive.

*A drug cartel was hunting me down in a library.

These are just a few. There were several others that involved knives, trying to get a task done while running out of time, an inability to see, but you probably get the point. 

It was also probably my body trying to sort out pain and stress.

Last night … I don’t remember what I dreamed. And that too, is glorious.

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Outside 

Here in Texas, it’s in the low 90s with a heat index making it feel close to 100.

Normal, “healthy”, pre-op Debra wouldn’t go outside much on a day like this. 

I know PNW friends, it’s hotter there right now, but if you don’t have AC, outside in the shade and hopefully breeze would be the place to be. Here in TX the shade is still hot, there isn’t really a helpful breeze, and we do have AC, so I stay inside.
However! While not my first time outside since surgery, before lunch it was my first time to put on something other than pajama pants and walk out front down the side walk. I count it a win. Short but just a first step. 

😊🎉☀️🏆

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Figuring it out

We are still trying to figure out this one pain med, trying to find the balance between enough to help but not burn up my stomach lining. That’s probably why I’m awake right now – had to take the new adjusted dose. It’s been 12 and a half hours since the last and I just couldn’t push another hour trying to get the med back on a 6am/6pm timeframe.

So while I sit here waiting for the new dose to kick in (and hopefully go back to sleep), I was thinking,

God is so good. This recovery has highs and lows, but God is consistently, unchanging and Good. I like consistency. I don’t like change. I’m glad I can trust him.

Some examples of good he keeps sprinkling into this last few weeks:

*Z has been unexpectedly sweet and generally understanding that I’m fragile. His normal is “I squish you!” And then he jumps on me. Yesterday his play time consisted of playing “Dr” and setting a pillow and towel on my feet to keep the germs away.

*E has been sleeping through the night more than ever. Not always, but there is a vast improvement. He often does 10 hours. This started while I was at the hospital and it’s one of my recent prayer requests.

*My long legs and surprisingly stronger than expected abs have allowed me to conquer standing up out of chairs, beds, and couches much better and quicker than I thought it would be. This gives me a little independence and it also allows my husband to sleep though the night when I have to pee. 😝

Kinda small things when looked at by themselves out of context. Kinda huge things all put together in context.

God is good.

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