Thursday, March 31, 2016

Friend or Foe??? I haven't decided yet!

Nothing says friendship like vandalizing decorating a friend's yard. Case and point Christmas 2015.  We came home from a family Christmas party to find our house looking very...shall I say, festive?

Don't Jace and Jenelle look so proud next to their masterpiece?!?
You can't really see all the damage, but Christmas blow ups, crepe paper trees, stars and candy canes lining the driveway and wrapping papered and bowed garage doors....it was magical!  

(poor guy was a mixture of emotions about it) 
First, he wanted to call the police.  
Then, he felt that we should teepee them in retaliation
Last, he wanted take it down immediately because he didn't want people to think I actually decorated that way.

Now, fast forward to Easter 2016.  


Jace decided to sit this one out so Jenelle found reinforcements in Dana and Nikki.  

Thanks for the laugh guys, but you know what they say about paybacks...
-Audra






Monday, March 28, 2016

The Garden Life


The latest Bachelor season is over and we have some time before the next Bachelorette starts so we have to have some excuse to get together on Monday nights.  Indoor herb gardening was on the agenda this week!   


So that one is pretty big...pretty sure it's going to find it's home outside.  Mojitos anyone??


The selection was pretty sparse.  I think it's a bit early in the season but we were able to find a few good cilantro, mint and basil plants.  We had to go with seeds for oregano and chives.  


I can't wait to start cooking with our fresh herbs.  I'll be sure to share the recipes!!  

It's that time

The time has come.  Two baseball practice schedules in hand.  Jotting down activities and camp schedules in the calendar.  Trying to schedule family vacations.    This time of year hits me like a ton of bricks and I often think to myself...how do families with 3, 4, or more kids manage?  How do they work full time jobs, get their kids where they need to be, feed them and still find time to breathe all while having their own life and schedule?  

Here's to all you parents out there:

doing extra loads of laundry to keep up with practice uniforms.

coaching each of your children's teams and giving them your all.

spending more time at the ball field than you do in your own home.

getting home from practice past your kids bed time...then having to do homework...then bath time.

juggling busy work schedules AND activity schedules.

missing one kid's game to be at another because how can you possibly be at two places at one time?? 

eating burgers and hotdogs multiple nights a week.  (consider yourself lucky if your local ball field sells grilled chicken sandwiches!!)

treading water just to keep your head afloat.


I feel your pain...stay strong!  
-Audra










Thursday, March 24, 2016

Main Floor Remodel

We are so excited over at the Jahn house.  Our main level remodel is almost complete.  Here are a few demo pics to get you in the mood!






 We were  lucky and sold all of the cabinets and appliances!  One Uhaul truck taking about 40 linear feet of cabinets, Refrigerator, Dishwasher,  Microwave plus all the drywall, waterheater, 2x4s and such that they picked up at Home Depot!  We couldn't believe they fit it all in there!

I can't wait to show you all of the changes!!
-Audra

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Life

I am pretty sure I am the worst wanna be blogger ever.  This isn't the first time my blog has fallen off the face of the Earth and I'm sure it won't be the last.  I had my reasons though.  Last year got a little crazy for me in terms of my health.  I actually wrote this post about 3 or 4 months ago but just wasn't ready to share it yet.  It just didn't feel right.  So here I am about a year later from the  appointment that started it all.

It is amazing how things in life can go from busy and fun to busy, scared and stressed.  Last fall we were moving into our new to us home.  Lots of painting, heavy lifting and me being light headed and dizzy a lot.  I chalked it up to the painting and heavy lifting.  Then I noticed a vein and a "knot/lump" sticking out in my neck.  At this point I'm not sure what to call it besides a protruding vein. I am not a go to the doctor for everything type of person so I just let it be for a while.  Fast forward a few months and the heavy lifting and painting are finished and I am still getting light headed and dizzy and throw in some horrible headaches that end in vomiting.  I still have the protruding vein along with 2 veins protruding from my abdomen starting at my chest to below my belly button.  It finally got "real" to me that I wasn't just seeing things when I was changing clothes one morning and my husband said, "what in the world is wrong with your stomach?"   Needless to say I called my family doctor immediately and scheduled an appointment.

For some reason I was so uncomfortable when I called in to the doctor.  I felt as though they were going to think I was crazy and a hypochondriac.  You are probably reading this and thinking, What is wrong with you??  Of course you needed to see a doctor!  But I felt like such a wimp and that they were going to say I had varicose veins and maybe needed to watch my blood sugar or something. So, I met with my family doctor and gave him all my symptoms.  He seemed a little stumped so he called in for some blood work.  About a week later my blood work was back and didn't really show anything alarming.  I was a bit anemic but everything else was pretty normal.

The next step was a CT scan.  So, a week or two later I went in for a CT scan and scheduled an appointment to meet with my family doctor to go over the results the following week.

I went to work the morning of the planned appointment to discuss the results with an attitude just like any other day.   The appointment was scheduled for late in the afternoon so I planned to work in the morning and take the afternoon off.  It worked perfectly because that morning I had meetings so I would be leaving after the meetings.  I was sitting in the meeting when my phone rang.  I recognized the number and stepped out to take the call.  I answered the phone and my Dr.'s nurse was on the line.  I thought they were going to tell me the results from my CT scan weren't in yet so we would need to reschedule or better yet...that they didn't see anything in the scan so no need to come in for the appointment.  Instead, the nurse told me not to be alarmed but that I needed to bring my husband with me to my appointment.  I don't know how you would react to that, but the moment she said that I needed to bring my husband with me my mind went all over the place.  She asked me if it was possible for him to accompany me to my appointment and with a cracking voice I said I would make it work...knowing good and well my husband was out of town that day for work.  I called Brandon, sobbing from the bathroom at our school corporation's central office, barely able to get the words out that I needed him to come home because he needed to meet me at the Dr. this afternoon.  

Seeing as though I was in no shape to sit through the rest of the meeting, I left work and had time to spare before the appointment.  My family and a few friends knew I had an appointment scheduled to hear the results of my CT scan but I didn't make a big deal about it because before this phone call I honestly thought there was nothing to be found.  I didn't want to worry anyone so I didn't call my parents to tell them that they had asked for Brandon to join me.  Even at this point I kept telling myself it's going to be nothing, it has to be nothing.  I have two small children and oh geez Brandon can't hold down the fort without me.  I'm pretty sure I lied in bed staring at the ceiling with tears rolling down my cheeks for an hour or so from fear and worry.

We went to the appointment.  The doctor told me they could see a mass in my chest cavity.  You hear the word mass and then everything else kind of goes fuzzy.  I remember not wanting to cry until he left the room but every time I tried to speak my voice would crack as I teetered on the verge of loosing it.  I was able to gather from our discussion that they weren't sure what it was and that I would be sent to a heart surgeon out of Evansville to have a surgery to biopsy it.  He was able to tell me that this mass was messing with my veins around the heart causing all of the symptoms.  This was the reasoning for the protruding veins.  They were trying to make up for the fact that my vena cava was no longer functioning correctly. 

A week later I was in Evansville to meet with the surgeon, Dr. Butler, to discuss the surgery and what she believed it was.

There were three possibilities:

*a teratoma (A body part that starts growing in your body in a place it doesn't belong and forms a mass.  It really is the strangest thing ever...you may want to google it) 

*cancer 

*a mass caused by a reaction to histoplasmosis (A fungus you get from breathing in bird or bat droppings.  Another totally strange sounding disease!)
  
Having felt comfortable with Dr. Butler I decided to go through with the procedure with her as the surgeon.  A few days later I was back in Evansville for surgery to biopsy the mass.  The mass could not be removed because it had attached itself to my Vena Cava.  I woke up from surgery with the news that I did not have cancer or a teratoma.  It was a reaction to histoplasmosis that I had as a child.  My body was trying to fight off the histoplasmosis by building up a mass of scar tissue even though I no longer had it.  The surgeon told me it was a "disease of inconvenience" that I would just have to live with because she didn't believe that the benefit of surgery would outweigh the risk.  I was disappointed that my quality of life would never be the same but feeling like I had no other choice, decided it would be OK.  That was until a few days later when I started to get immense pain and swelling in my neck and face from lack of blood flow. Since the mass had completely closed off my vena cava and I was swollen from surgery plus an allergic reaction to one of my pain meds, blood was starting to "back up" in my upper body from laying down so much when recovering from the biopsy.  It was torture. Several phone calls later, a trip to the ER, pain meds, 8 pounds lost and sleeping sitting up and I started to feel a little better but I'm pretty sure the surgeon felt my pain because she referred me to a specialist at Vanderbilt.

Fast forward once again about a month.  I have an appointment with a pulmonologist, Dr. Lloyd, at Vanderbilt that specializes in histoplasmosis.  He was able to explain everything that was going on to me.  When I was around 10 years old I had histoplasmosis (most people living in the area get it and don't even know it. It basically has the same symptoms of a cold).  For some reason, my body continued to fight off the fungus even after it was no longer in me, causing the mass of scar tissue by my vena cava.  The mass grew about 1 mm a year.  I started getting the symptoms of vena cava syndrome because it had collapsed my vena cava and partially closed the pulmonary artery to my right lung.  He felt that my symptoms were significant enough to humor the idea of surgery.  He then referred me to an amazing pediatric heart surgeon at Vanderbilt.  Yes, a pediatric heart surgeon...and I was 32.   Before leaving I gave 10 tubes of blood for research purposes.  Dr. Lloyd is the only doctor in the US researching why some people develop a mass after having histo and I was honored to do my part to help find out why and how to prevent it.  I officially became a science lab rat!!

A few weeks later we found ourselves in Nashville again at Vanderbilt meeting with our fourth doctor, Dr. Doyle, since this all started.  I met him and immediately felt at ease with having the procedure.  The plan was 3 stents to the heart and possibly one to the right lung.  He was very confident that the procedure would give me relief and I found comfort in his confidence and past successes on cases similar to mine. Fibrosing Mediastinitis, the medical term for what I have, is not very common.  This doctor had done stents for 12 other people with this condition.  He has done many other operations for various conditions but I was lucky number 13 for stents because of Fibrosing Mediatinitis, rather than clogged arteries or children born with heart defects!

I did my research on both of the Vanderbilt doctors and felt so lucky to have been given the opportunity to be their patient...not lucky to have the mass but lucky that I could receive the care I was about to get from such amazing and stellar doctors.  I found an article about the US Marines finding a sick child in Iraq and raising the funds to send her to Dr. Doyle for a heart procedure to save her life.  How could I not feel at ease with this type of medical team on my side.

2 weeks later I was back at Vanderbilt at the Rascal Flats Surgical Center for my procedure.  I was nervous but yet at peace with it all.  Sitting in a pediatric surgical center looking at all the sick children knocks you back in your place a bit.  I would happily suffer through my pain and fear to keep my own children from experiencing anything like what these other children were dealing with.

I came out of the 5 hour surgery with 5 stents to the heart.  The mass was bigger than they initially thought, so they had to use more stents than they had planned and were still not able to open my vena cava up completely. During the surgery a nurse called Brandon while he waited in the waiting room to let him know that surgery had started and that Dr. Doyle and his surgical partner were having a difficult time getting through because the mass had closed off more than they thought but that he wasn't giving up.  They decided to try the other side of my neck and were able to get through that way as well as through my groin.  

The next day I was seen by more doctors than I could name.  I had the best of the best coming in and out of my hospital room to see me.  Some of which were doctors that the nurses weren't even familiar with on the recovery floor.  You know you're in the hands of doctors that care about you when the doctor calls the room to schedule your follow up visit and just to ask how I'm feeling...even after he's already been in my room to check on me.   I don't think I've ever had a local doctor call me personally! To be honest all three of the doctors I was sent to called me at one time or another following my procedures just to see how I was doing.  

I went back to work the following Monday and have been getting back into normal life.  It has been about 8 months since the stent implant procedure I am not 100% back to how I was before experiencing the symptoms but feel so much better.  I still have the protruding veins and using my arms to exercise like swimming causes me to feel like I am being suffocated but I have chosen to be thankful and appreciate the positives.  When my local OBGYN told me that having more children would be too risky, I was devastated but have chosen to not let it consume me.  I continually tell myself it could always be worse!

I will take blood thinners the rest of my life and have to be conscience of what my body can handle in terms of physical activity but I'm here and for the most part would consider myself to be healthy.  Oh yeah, I'm also the owner of a Stent Implant card which I flash with pride as I walk through airport metal detectors in case my metal stents set them off....

I've learned to laugh about it and be thankful it wasn't worse.  It's better than feeling pitiful and crying every time I get a setback or symptom.

-Audra

 
UA-58667833-1