More on the Crazy Colon Story

21 days. I have been in this place for 21 days. Ew. Just ew.

Here’s where we are in the whole process…

Immediately after publishing my last blog post, I felt a little chilled so I decided to get in the bed and under the covers to warm up. I couldn’t get warm. I called for some warm blankets and was still shivering so hard the bed shook. Silly me, I didn’t think anything of it, just that my thermostat must have been cut down real low and that I had gotten cold wearing this fabulous, but thin, hospital gown. Brandon’s aunt and uncle came to visit me and I apologized for not getting out of bed but I told them that I really was just chilled to the bone. We had a great visit, I seemed to warm up a bit, and as soon as they left, I felt myself start to feel weak.

Suddenly it hit me and I called for the nursing assistant to come take my temperature.

102.8.

Wowzers! I was really sick! And it had happened quick! I vaguely remember calling Brandon and my mom and then everything else is a blur. At one point I called to have some help getting out of the bed and to the bathroom because I felt so weak and so achey. I waited and no one came for about 15 minutes so I pulled myself out of bed and stumbled into the bathroom. As I was clinging onto my IV pole and the handicap railing on the wall, I heard my name called out and the bathroom door flung open. Brittney was magically there and helped me get back in the bed. Bless her. I honestly don’t remember much else about that night other than being so grateful that Brittney had ended up in my room. She took care of me for a few hours and she and Brandon and Joan helped facilitate me getting more than just 2 Tylenol for the fever.

Clearly something wasn’t right if I had spiked a high fever like that so they requested that my doctor be paged and antibiotics and fluids started right away. By morning, I felt much better.

I’m still on IV antibiotics and have had a few other scans done and have a repeat CT scan scheduled for tomorrow. Pray with me that the fluid will be even less in this scan than the last one, and that the inflammation in my colon will have decreased as well.

I had an ultrasound done on my leg at the puncture site where they went in for my angiogram because I’m still having serious pain in my leg. The ultrasound showed that I have a 5cm by 1cm hematoma – which is basically a collection of blood within the blood tissue, outside of the blood vessel – and that’s the cause of my pain. No wonder my leg hurts! I have a big ole bruise under the skin, in the muscle! Owie! If you see me limping around, it’s because I’ve got a boo-boo in my leg, not because my colon is weighing me down. Hahahah!

clear-liquids-tray

After many a day spent eating clear liquids (that sounds funny to say “eating clear liquids”. I feel like I should say “drinking” instead, but whatevs), I was finally progressed to a full liquid diet – soup, milkshakes, ice cream, yogurt – and after tolerating that well, they advanced my diet to soft foods, a low-residue diet. Basically a low-residue diet is a low fiber diet, sooooo, basically all the foods I never usually eat: pasta, mac n cheese, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, white breads, and I’m to have no raw fruits and veggies, and broccoli, brussel sprouts, and salads are out. WAAAAHHH. Is this real life?! I love broccoli, see prior post for explanation, and brussel sprouts are a serious close second. (Please do me a favor and if you’ve never had roasted brussel sprouts, please toss them in olive oil and sea salt and roast them and enjoy them on my behalf over the next few months. You will love them. Seriously. Everyone I have ever made them for loves them.)

I have lost a lot of weight not being able to eat over the last 3 weeks and my doctor and some of my family are worried about it. But trust me, if all I’m allowed to eat are things like pasta and white breads, don’t worry, I’ll fatten back up eventually. When taking my lunch tray away the other day, my nursing assistant commented to another employee “She hasn’t eaten hardly anything. No wonder she’s lost weight. I mean she needs to eat!” Well, scuse me Miss-I-didn’t-ask-for-your-opinion-or-condemnation-but-you-gave-it-anyway, but I haven’t eaten for 3 weeks, my colon and pancreas are angry with me, I’m slightly afraid of making them mad all over again, AND my stomach has shrunk! I can’t eat but a few bites at a time! Sorry, a bit of “I’m tired of being in the hospital” escaped me just then…

The plan is for another doctor to come consult today to talk about the plan for my antibiotics. Do I need them still? Will I be discharged with them? Orally? Intravenously? I will have a ct scan done tomorrow or Thursday and then hopefully discharge will follow soon after.

By Sunday I was feelin’ a little frisky. I had been snowed in at the hospital with no visitors since Thursday, and I had a nurse who was a real rule follower that day and it was grating on my last nerve. Sunday afternoon Mom walked through my hospital room door and I could have kissed her! Ahh, people! My people! Here!! And not just through FaceTime! Woohoo!! She and Deryl had braved the icy roads and driven all the way to see me! I was thrilled. Mom and I had a bit of a slumber party that night. She brought me some games so of course we played them, she gave me a mini-manicure (my nails hadn’t seen any attention for 3 weeks – eek!), we watched the Panthers game (#keeppounding!) and then watched a movie until it was so late we couldn’t keep our eyes open. Thanks Mom and Deryl for being the sunshine in my snowstorm!! :)

Yesterday was a pretty good day… most of you probably saw my picture on Instagram or Facebook but if you didn’t, the nurses all pitched in to get me a gift and a card. It was so sweet! I cried!

gift-from-nurses

Then, I got a shower. Wooohooooo! This is a big deal in the hospital because you have to have a doctor’s order – Yes, I’d like patient B.Delk to maintain personal hygiene and get the funk taken care of today – and you have to be unhooked from the IV, have the IV site waterproofed – usually done very professionally, like with a cut off latex glove or a sandwich baggie with the bottom cut off and the ends masking taped around my arm – and then of course have the strength to stand up and bathe for that long. After my shower, Brittney fixed my hair and I put on a little bit of makeup and Joey and Nicole came to visit and brought me a gift! A cute little outfit that I had to put on right away (I wish I had known before now that I could wear real clothes!!) and I seriously felt human again!

brittney-bethany-hospital

To top it all off, Joan brought me yummy potato soup!! So good! Thank you Joan! I’ve been dreaming about potato soup! :)

potato-soup

If you have called, texted, messaged, visited, sent a card, sent a gift, dropped off food, given gift cards or money, watched the boys, THANK YOU. I am trying to keep a running tally of everyone I need to write a thank you note to, and it is getting to be quite the serious list. Our family is so blessed! We are richly and abundantly blessed! And you have no idea how encouraging you’ve been. Thank you sweet friends, thank you. I could get all sappy right here, but I won’t because my lunch tray just got here and you know how exciting hospital food is right?!

If you want to join us in prayer, here are some specifics I’m praying for this week:

  • No more infection
  • That the fluid will have completely reabsorbed into my body and allow my belly to heal.
  • For reduced inflammation of my colon
  • For my pancreas to quit being so angry with me and simmer down
  • Reduced pain
  • For my digestive system to handle food well and not rebel against it
  • That my body would get enough vitamins and nutrients to stay healthy (with not eating for several weeks, there was talk of IV nutrition, but we opted to go ahead with advancing my diet and all of the supplement drinks they want me to try are making me gag or upsetting my stomach – Ensure, Carnation Instant Breakfast, etc)
  • That my leg would heal and I would have no lasting effects from the angiogram (because right now it seriously hurts to walk!)
  • That I would be able to go HOME this week (and stay home!!!)
  • For my sweet babies. This is rough on them and they don’t know how to react. Maverick woke up in the middle of the night the other night and demanded that Brandon take him to the hospital to see Mommy. Oy. My heart.
  • For my Brandon. He’s playing Dad and Mr. Mom so well right now, but its tough. And when I say tough, I mean, so-hard-to-juggle-work-laundry-meals-for-everyone-hospital-visits-childcare and on top of that the stress. Stress is a main trigger for a Crohn’s flare, and friends, please pray hard with me, because he hasn’t been feeling the greatest, and I am so worried. I hate I’ve put all of this stress on him and I want to fix it, but right now I’m attached to an IV pole, unable to do a darn thing. Please, please pray for this man. And if you’ve offered to help him, bless you. I want to repay you all for your kindnesses, and keep them coming, because the only help he’s getting right now is through you, and for that I am eternally grateful.
  • Travel safety for my mom and Deryl as they travel to and from NC to be with me, and for Joan as she comes almost every day to be with me and help Brandon.

If you’re new around here and want to catch up, feel free to read the rest of my Crazy Colon Story. 😉

A Discouraging Week and a Few Answers

I honestly haven’t wanted to write an update. I’ve been back here (in the hospital) since Sunday, and I’ve been a little more discouraged and battling the pain and nausea and “oh poor me’s” so blogging has been far from my mind. If you’ve texted me and my replies are short, its because I’m swimming through the pain medication fog, or gritting my teeth through the sharp pangs of pain in my side.

I was discharged Friday, spent a glorious one and a half days at home, and then by Sunday mid-morning Mom was gripping me by the shoulders and telling me that she was taking me back to the Emergency Room. To be still, Josh and Deryl would carry me to the car. That the boys would be fine, Christa would watch them and feed them and play legos and superheros and put together puzzles.

It was snowing, and the drive to the hospital is a blur. I remember gritting my teeth and moaning and crying and being carried to a wheelchair and whisked inside. A new bracelet was slapped on my wrist (I could have probably worn the one from the first admission but I’d lost so much weight that it slipped right off) and I was immediately wheeled to a room in the Emergency Room. In a flurry of activity, I was dressed in a gown, hooked up to an EKG machine, and had an IV started. It took multiple rounds of IV pain meds to get my pain under control. I was in agony. I reserve “10” on the pain scale for childbirth, but this was a definite “9.”

My labs came back with elevated lipase levels which means I had pancreatitis. The long and short of it (and the best my doctor can explain) is that basically my colon was so inflamed that it aggravated my pancreas and caused my levels to rise. I’ve had pancreatitis once before, years ago, a fluke thing, and it was incredibly painful. I didn’t eat for 2 weeks and was on enzymes to help digest my food for months and then I was fine. Haven’t looked back.

hospital-flowers

Now I’m in the hospital with ischemic colitis and pancreatitis. I feel ridiculous. Seriously. Part of the reason I didn’t want to post an update is that I feel absurd! I am not a sick person! Why am I laid up in the hospital with these ridiculously serious and painful conditions?! I want to be working and running to the grocery store with the rest of the county, trying to buy bread and milk and batteries. I do not want to be here.

Monday was frustrating. No one had called my GI doctor yet and by this point we were ready to transfer to UNC. Monday evening he came by, shocked that I was here and immediately took charge. He ordered another vascular consult, and that physician scheduled an angiogram for Wednesday. An angiogram (or arteriogram) is basically a procedure in which the physician goes through your femoral artery in your leg and feeds tiny tube and camera up through your veins and arteries.

Praise the Lord we did this test. Typically you have 3 main arteries that feed blood vessels to your colon. The angiogram found that I have only 2 arteries and that the third is not there. So, one of my other arteries has been trying its hardest to compensate and that’s probably why I haven’t had more trouble than I have. (It’s just like me to have ambitious arteries haha!) Needless to say, we were so relieved to FINNNNALLY have an answer of some sort.

No one told me about the pain from the angiogram though. Oh my. After the procedure I was in so much pain. My leg felt like it was being amputated. I generally have thick legs (a product of years of gymnastics, cheerleading and working out) but since I haven’t eaten in 2 weeks, I’ve lost some weight and the vascular physician said that because I was so thin, the artery was right next to the nerve and I would probably have severe pain for several days. He was right. In the middle of the night last night I woke up crying from the pain and have been on pain medication round the clock.

This morning I had an MRI. It showed that the pancreas is doing ok, and has no defects, and that the colon is still inflamed and has fluid surrounding it. It also showed that the bottoms of my lungs are collapsed from having sat in so much fluid the past 2 weeks. Don’t worry though, it isn’t permanent and once I get moving around a little more and breathing less shallowly and get rid of some of this fluid, the lungs will fill back up with air.

Overall, I’m a little more discouraged this go round and rockin’ some serious pain. The doctors want to try me on a liquid diet again (I haven’t eaten since Saturday) and then progress me if I can tolerate it. They also want to wean me off of IV pain meds to a regimen that I can handle at home. I am still in a lot of pain, so if you want to pray for me, I’d appreciate it.

I’m also really, really, really bummed that I’m going to get snowed in at the hospital by myself, while my boys build snowmen and sled down the hill and eat snow cream. I want to cry over this. I wanted to be able to go home today. I want to be able to eat. I want to not have an IV connected to my arm. I want to snuggle my boys without having to say “be careful of mommy’s tummy and her leg!” I want to cuddle up on the couch and watch movies and see the snow falling and eat homemade potato soup and brownies and other yummy snowed-in foods. I’m tired of being woozy and foggy and nauseous. I want to sleep in my own bed. I want to wear my own clothes. I want to bound out of bed and make the boys pancakes and sausage in the morning.

Seriously sad face emoji over here.

See, this is why I haven’t posted this week. Because I’m on the struggle bus and I don’t like being negative but I feel a little discouraged, yall! I am trying really hard to not have a pity party. If I’m delayed in responding to your messages forgive me. This week has been especially difficult and I didn’t want any negativity to come across.

I’m reminding myself that I have the opportunity to choose joy, and that’s the better of the choices, so joy it is. Enjoy the lovely snow! I’ll be stalking Facebook for all your snow pictures so keep em comin!

It Is Well, I Just Know It Is


It is well.

We’ve been on a crazy ride the last 2 years but all is well. I know it is. You want to know how I know? We have two beautiful boys (I know I should say handsome but they are beautiful in their mama’s eyes), we’ve not gone hungry – not once – and we have the most fabulous and supportive friends and family on the planet. We are employed, we have wonderful memories, we attend an awesome church with a wonderful church body, and all.is.well.

Romans 12:22 says: “Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer.”

Psalm 34:19 says “The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.”

bethany-day10-hospital

Ten days is a long time to spend in the hospital. As you can imagine, I’ve spent a lot of it in a foggy haze, some of it sleeping, some of it watching Netflix, and some of it seeking Him. I’ve turned it round and round in my head… why would my husband have Crohn’s disease and have to have 2 bowel resections and then THIS happen to ME? Trust me, the water filter in the fridge is being changed, and we are knee-deep in conspiracy theory thoughts about the building materials used in our house. Ha.

But seriously… Why?

Did you know you could drive yourself crazy with one little word?

Why?

It leads to so much doubt, so much confusion, and it slowly and silently crowds out the peace. Because “Be still, Child, be still” is a whisper. Its the first to get crowded out when the whys happen.

I may never, ever know why. I may walk out of this place and never have to return and be welcomed home by a mailbox full of medical bills and never know why. The thing is, I don’t need to know why. I’d love to know, so I can prevent my current situation from ever happening again, but I don’t need to know.

My Lord delivers me.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

I have spent the last few days trying to turn this into joy. Trials are hard. Trials are messy. They break down the joy. They ooze of icky, yucky thoughts and doubts. But count it JOY, my brethren, because your faith through the trials is refining you. I can say with confidence, I am NOT the woman I was 2 years ago. I am stronger, more confident, more refined, than I was 2 years ago, young in the face of life’s trials.

We could sink a small yacht with the medical bills and doubts we have accrued over the years, but friends, it is well. I know without a shadow of a doubt that my God cares for me, loves me, and is leading me.

Refinement can be painful and most usually is. Perfection isn’t easy. But choose joy.

For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid an oppressive burden upon our loins. You made men ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water, Yet You brought us out into a place of abundance. Psalm 66:10-12

I’m choosing joy and abundance. Choose with me. Choose joy and have abundance, for it is well, it is well.

What is Ischemic Colitis?

Today is Day 9 in the hospital. I have been in the hospital for 9 days because I have Ischemic Colitis.

What is Ischemic Colitis anyway? According to Mayo Clinic the definition is:

Ischemic colitis occurs when blood flow to part of the large intestine (colon) is reduced, usually due to narrowed or blocked blood vessels (arteries).

Apparently when I was running, in the cold, last Monday morning, the blood flow to my colon was severely restricted and Ischemic Colitis occurred. If Brandon had not made me an appointment with my doctor on Tuesday, I would have likely gone into septic shock and would have needed to have all/part of my colon removed. This is a very scary thought.

I have good news though!! The biopsy from my colonoscopy came back and it was positive for Ischemic Colitis but NEGATIVE FOR CANCER and everything else!! Praise the Lord!!!

-insert very calm and slow happy dance so as not to jostle my already tender colon-

Yesterday the hematologist came by and said he was going to test for all sorts of blood clotting disorders and then I gave up approximately half my bodyweight in blood in order to get those tests done. No, but seriously. Look at how many vials of blood I had to give.

blood-clotting-testing

Tomorrow I will meet with a vascular physician to talk about testing and follow up after discharge because those tests can’t be done while I am still an inpatient.

My GI physician came by today and reiterated to me just how rare this is. He said that his usual ischemic colitis patients are 70-80 years old and the youngest patient he’s ever had with it was 64 years old so it is extremely rare to see someone my age with this. He also went over again what a long road of recovery I’m facing. Let me say again… This.Is.Crazy.

I feel (other than my “swollen colon”) perfectly healthy! But, because my colon is mad at me right now, I am looking at several weeks of recovery and am under doctor’s orders to not work out for 3 months and he said the most strenuous thing I’m allowed to do for the next couple of months is walk up and down the aisle at the grocery store. -insert shocked face emoji and sad face emoji-

I am hoping to be discharged later this week or this weekend… everybody altogether now: “Yaaaaaaay!!”

I miss my babies so, so, so much. Like, so much. I can’t even begin to tell you how my heart longs to be with my sweet boys. And with my Brandon. Oh, I can’t wait to snuggle on the couch with my Brandon! To be able to hold his hand and not have to worry about moving my IV line out of the way. To be able to get him something, rather than having to rely on him to help me to the bathroom, or unplug my IV pole and wheel it around, or unhook me from these fancy-schmancy-blood-clot-preventing-blow-up-sexy-velcro-leg-wearing-thing-a-ma-bobs that I have to wear. So not cute.

Thanks for praying for us you guys! Yall are seriously the best! I get approximately a bajillion texts/calls/messages a day from yall and it is so encouraging. THANK YOU.

If you want to keep praying for us, you know I like specifics, so here they are:

  • Pray for wisdom for the doctors because we really, really, really want to know what caused me to have ischemic colitis. If we know what caused it then hopefully we will be able to figure out how to prevent it from happening again, because yall, this was no walk in the park. It was a terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-day err, 9 days so far.
  • Pray for Brandon and the boys. This is hard on all of them. Pray for low stress levels for Brandon (because stress is a Crohn’s flare trigger!!!) and peace. Pray for smooth arrangements with the boys so Brandon doesn’t have to worry about where they’re going and when too much. Pray for my sweet babes, that they will have lots of fun and not worry about mommy. Pray for easy transitions and good behavior – craziness tends to provoke naughty behavior in my boys. Can’t say I blame them.
  • Pray for rest. Brandon and I are both so very tired.
  • Pray for my mother. She is so worried and even though she’s smiling, I can hear it in her voice over the phone and I can read it in her eyes when she’s here. There is not much worse in the world than seeing your baby in pain and she so badly wants to make it better.
  • Pray that I tolerate food well and can be discharged soon!
  • Pray that the dark spots in my colon (that you saw in the pictures in Brandon’s post) will begin to heal and have adequate blood flow.

Thank you all and we love you so much! Thanks for reading our crazy story!

 

The Swollen Colon

bethany-hospital-visit

Can I write a hospital update on myself?! Is that weird??

It is. But its also weird that I’m in here in the first place. Because, c’mon, I’m one of the healthiest people we know… right?! I work out 5-6 days a week, I take my vitamins and supplements, and I had started Whole30 on January 1st and typically eat a pretty healthy diet anyway. My coworkers tease me because when we have team lunch at Red Robin, they say bells and whistles must go off when I order because certainly I’m the only person in the history of the restaurant to ever order the bottomless broccoli.

… what?? I love broccoli, ok?!

And call me crazy but sometimes I eat a turkey burger and veggies for breakfast. So weird, I know, but I crave those healthy foods, and since doing Whole30 last January (which is basically a form of Paleo) I have chosen to eat mostly paleo foods in order to be able to have the sweets that I want to have. Its all about moderation, right?

Anyway, I’m sure you’re all wondering what the heck I’m doing laid up in the hospital for the past week. Yeah, I’m still trying to figure that one out too, but here’s a quick rundown of what happened.

Monday morning I woke up super early to be able to go for a run with Brittney and about halfway through, I had to stop and walk because my stomach felt extremely bloated and I wasn’t sure if I had a stitch in my side or what was going on. It was really cold out, and early, so I couldn’t really figure out why my stomach was being so weird. Anyways, after I finished the 3 miles, I got in my car and sped home, because I thought I was going to be sick. Long story and lots of details short, I ended up staying home from work Monday and Tuesday because I thought I maybe had the stomach bug or norovirus or something and was in a ton of pain. Mid-morning Tuesday, I called Brandon in tears while he was at work and told him I just couldn’t do another day like the day before. He got off the phone with me and immediately made an appointment with my doctor for later that day. I am so glad he did.

When I went to my doctor’s appointment, they ended up doing an ultrasound (at the time they were worried I was having an ectopic pregnancy or had a hemorrhagic cyst that was bursting) and found an abnormally large amount of fluid in my abdomen. They were so concerned that they sent me immediately to the Emergency Room.

I think at this point I was so weak and tired from being in pain and being so sick and not eating for 2 days that I was unable to really grasp the severity of the situation. I was barely able to stand up in the line to check in at the ER and when I finally sat down in triage, the nurse took the buzzer from me (like the kind you get when you have to wait at a restaurant) and said “oh sweetheart, you won’t need this anymore. We’re taking you right back.” At that point I knew it was serious. There were tons of people in the waiting room, and they were taking me right back?! Whoa. From working in a hospital previously, I knew this was a big deal. I was really, really sick.

After getting in a room, there was such a flurry of activity, that I didn’t have time to really think and I was still in so much pain. A bunch of labs and tests and doctors and exams later, I was told I was not only going to be admitted to the hospital, but that I would be heading up to ICU.

ICU? Less that 48 hours earlier I had run 3 miles and now I’m going to spend the night in ICU?! This was blowing my mind.

bethany-icu-hospital-visit

After having spent the last 4 and a half days in the hospital, I can say several things definitively now:

  1. I have walked a mile in Brandon’s shoes and gotten a small taste of what he’s been through and have a whole new appreciation for that man I am blessed enough to call mine.
  2. I may never eat jello again.
  3. Nothing matters except getting the pain to stop when you’re cross-eyed and belly up.
  4. Sometimes going to the doctor is OK. It might just save your life.
  5. After you don’t eat for several days, you truly are not hungry. It’s weird. I didn’t understand when Brandon was in the hospital and didn’t eat for 10 days, but now I totally get it.
  6. I have the best mom, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law for dropping everything to help me.
  7. You really do learn something new everyday. Colitis is an inflamed colon. (Hence the title of this post “The Swollen Colon” bahahha) There’s your new fact. You’re welcome. If you already knew that, did you know that taking too much ibuprofen could cause it? Yeah, I’m throwing my Advil bottle away too.

Maverick-Bethany-hospital

My kids have had a blast staying at their cousins’ house this past week and I can’t thank Brittney and Cole enough for watching and caring for my kids like their own. They have packed an extra lunch and dropped off 2 extra kids in the morning, and picked them up in the evening. They’ve fed and bathed and loved on them and sent me funny stories and pictures to get me through. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you! I hope they know that should they ever need it, I would do the same for them.

paxton-bethany-hospital

To my poor mother and mother-in-law, who both dropped everything and rushed from work to come to the Emergency Room (and have done this more times than I can count in the past 2 years for us), thank you. You have helped us navigate more emergencies than you should have to, and we’ve put your nerves through the wringer more than we should. (Oops) I’m sorry and thank you. Thanks for sitting in uncomfortable plastic chairs and waiting long hours for test results, just for us. Thanks for feeding me ice chips and helping me pee and getting the nurse when I’m in too much pain to do it myself. My sweet mother even washed my feet for me. That’s love yall.

So, for now, the diagnosis is acute colitis, and the plan is to try and get better… but seriously. Each day depends on how I am feeling and today, I was progressed to a soft foods diet and was able to eat a whole 6 bites. Yaaaaay!

hospital-food

Tomorrow I’ll have a repeat CT scan to compare it to the one from the other day, and then most likely I’ll have a colonoscopy to try and see what’s made my colon so mad at me.

Pray for continued improvement and less pain, wisdom for the doctors and answers. Definitive and clear answers. So far I’ve been a bit of a mystery case and baffled the physicians. I don’t like that. I want them to know that I have X and that in order to get better I need to do Y and that if I do that Z will happen. I don’t like the fuzzy abcdefg-crap in the middle.

Pray for my babies. They are so confused. I want to just sit and cry when I think about my poor sweet babies and how their little lives have been scattered with one parent or the other out of commission and how disruptive that is to the structure that kids crave. I feel awful. Also, its taxing on Brandon and everyone who has to help us. Life is just easier when no one is in the hospital, amen?

Pray for Brandon. He’s trying really hard to wear the husband/daddy/employee hat and finding out just how hard it is to do all of that completely when your spouse is in the hospital. He’s frustrated and wants to be able to fix it all, and has to keep the house running by himself. Pray for this man, that he would stay in good spirits, that he would be a positive rock for the boys, that he would be able to get good rest at night and stay well. Pray that the stress would not creep in and let his Crohn’s flare. Lord knows we can’t have both of us in the hospital at the same time! What a disaster!!

I know the Lord has a special plan in mind for the Delk family. He is preparing us for the future and I don’t mind weathering the storm. I know He is carrying us through this time and that at some point, maybe years down the road, we will be able to look back and see how all the pieces fit together, but for now, we will blindly trust Him, because that is what is required. Thanks friends, for praying for us, and for all that you’ve given to us. Your love has overwhelmed us again and we thank God for each of you.

If you missed the first part of this crazy week, you can read Brandon’s update. Or you can catch up on Brandon’s journey.

Thankful

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought it would only be appropriate if I shared a little of my thankful heart. I would have posted this on Thanksgiving Day, except I’ve been writing and re-writing this blog post in my head over and over for a week, and have sat down to write it, gotten up in frustration and walked away because I can’t seem to get out the words I want to. A thankful post seems like such an important post, ya know, and I want to convey all my gratitude in just the right way.

When you have a pivotal life event happen (or several in our case) you tend to get reflective and analyze the good, the bad, and the ugly. You pick out the little wins, and you write them down, memorize them, and thank God for them. You savor those breaths of fresh air, and remember just how sweet they taste.

What I’m grateful for creates a list so long, you’d be here for days reading it, but I’ll try to share just some of the highlights.

This year, I’m thankful for the two sweet boys who call me Mommy. I’ve watched Paxton grow and learn over the past several months more than I ever thought possible. He’s like a sponge – soaking up all that school has to offer. He randomly spouts out new facts, or things he’s learned and I’m just amazed. I’m absolutely convinced that he’ll be one day running for President, or on stage leading thousands of people in worship. He’s got personality just oozing out of him, and I see so much potential. Maverick can count to 10… well sort of. Sometimes. It’s the cutest thing. He sings “Itsy Spider” and “Twinkle Star” and “Rock a Baby Bumblebee”. Precious. Seriously precious. And ever since we put up our Christmas tree, each time he walks into the living room he puffs up his little chest and proudly proclaims “I do dat!” while he shoves one chubby little pointer finger through the air toward the tree, that he did indeed help decorate. Be still my heart :)

I’m thankful for family who have sacrificed in so many ways to help us. I’ve made more than one middle-of-the-night phone call, and more than one of them has made the long trek to UNC Hospitals to be with us, toting things we need, or bringing the boys to visit their daddy. I’m thankful for family who have worked hard to make the times not scarred by hospital visits wonderful, strikingly normal, and filled with beautiful memories.

I’ve sat with my mother-in-law several sleepless nights in the Emergency Room, and am struck by her continual strength. She’s been through a lot, especially with her first-born son, my sweet miracle husband. I know when she looks at him she sees God’s grace and unending love. She sees a beautiful miracle of life that so many told her at first would never come to be. She trusted in the Lord almost 32 years ago and He spoke to her softly, whispering “I give life, and I will give it abundantly!” Brandon was born with spina bifida and defied all odds when he learned to walk, talk, and conquer life as any other child. Every time I see the mangled scar on the back of his neck, I whisper a silent prayer of thanks because I’m part of a miracle… My life intertwined with a miracle when our paths crossed and I became part of that story. I don’t take that lightly and I think that’s why I know – I know – in my heart of hearts that the Lord has great and mighty plans for Brandon. I think we’ve only barely scratched the surface to what the Lord intends to do in and through Brandon, and quite honestly I feel so blessed to be along for the ride!

I’m thankful for my sweet sister-in-laws. I have 3 of them and I love each of them. They have each been so helpful, so giving, and so sweet to us through this past {crazy} year. Each in their own way, they have blessed us, and I hope they know how much they mean to me. I adore my sister-in-laws and count them as some of my closest friends, not out of obligation, but because I truly love each of them. I couldn’t have picked better ones if I tried!!

I’m thankful for my mom, my brother and my step-dad. I think I have the strongest, bravest family ever. My sweet mama has suffered her fair share of trials and has emerged from each one, stronger than before, and more beautiful to me. I know this isn’t a Mother’s Day post, and I’m trying to keep this short so I don’t weep like a little baby all over my laptop, but I adore my mama. If I can be half as wonderful as my mama, I will be a good woman, and someone to be proud of. She thinks of all these unexpected ways to bless us – ways I never would have even asked or thought of – and does it so quietly and lovingly, without ever once expecting a single thing in return. Like I’ve always said, she convinces me over and over she wants the burnt piece so I can have the best part of the pie. What a wonderful person.

Deryl has been so selfless and giving to us. He drops everything to drive down here with my mama and help with the boys, or to support her and us while she’s helping us. He endures hospital visits and sends sweet and thoughtful gifts for Brandon. I cannot say how blessed Brandon and I feel to have Deryl in our lives.

And my brother… my brother is like me, but better, and with all the best qualities in a person… and taller of course. But seriously, he’s much more selfless than I, more giving than I, and far more humble than the average person. He’s also really funny, super attentive, and one of the most thoughtful people I know. He’s got his own family to provide for, yet he constantly checks in on us and I know he would do anything for us.

I’m thankful for a good job… no, a great job. Its a great place to work, and I have wonderful coworkers. I’ve been able to be with my husband when he needed me, be nurse to my boys when they are sick, and attend school functions and conferences when need be. I’ve learned more in the last year and a half than I have in a long time and I love that I work in a place that values that. I say it all the time, but I feel really, really fortunate to have the job that I do.

I’m thankful for our journey. Some people have said that we’ve handled this whole season with such grace, but honestly, I don’t know how we’ve acted, I just feel blessed that we’ve been dealt the hand we have. If we weren’t going through this trial, we would not have experienced the many blessings that the Lord has bestowed on us over the last few years. I’ve gotten to see the Lord provide for us in mysterious ways. Ways that don’t add up on paper, and don’t seem real when you say them out loud. I’ve gotten to sit quietly in the dark, listening for His still voice, and feel Him take control. I’ve watched friends and family act out their commitments of love for us and seen the true meaning of community. I’ve had to depend on the Lord, and that can be so hard, especially when I think I can do it all myself!

I’m thankful for so many things – the roof over our heads, the cars we drive, the food we eat, the things we have, the church we’re part of, the jobs we work, etc – but I’m think I’m most thankful for the way the Lord has taken care of us, and the friends and family we have along with us for the ride.

I remember sitting in my house one night a few months ago, in the midst of my son’s fifth birthday party, surrounded by 60 of our closest family and friends, and thinking, “this is what it means to be blessed.” To have family come running in from all directions, alongside us, to lock arms and keep pace with us. They ran the grill at the party (all the parties actually), made the cupcakes, made food, served food, loved on our guests, built and lent party props, etc. And I sat there, surrounded by them all, watching them love on our family. We are loved. So loved. And deeply, beautifully blessed.

For that, I am thankful, so very, very thankful.

 

On Loss

The last week has been a blur.

Between the boys fighting “the crud” all week, trying to work from home (while playing nurse to my boys), attending a 2 day conference for work, and then giving a big presentation at work on Friday, my week already felt like it was flying by. Plus, we had plans to go to Virginia Friday evening to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family and then go to the Virginia Tech football game on Saturday.

My alarm went off at 4:45am Friday morning, I spent some time talking to Jesus, and then went to the gym for a pretty killer workout. I rushed home like usual, and began the morning flurry of activity – you know, making lunches, cooking breakfast, showering, getting ready, picking out clothes, checking the bookbags, etc – then, curling iron poised over my head, my phone rang. I glanced down and then my heart skipped a beat because I saw Mom’s picture flashing on the screen. Phone calls before a certain time in the morning and after a certain time in the evening are never a good thing. You don’t casually call someone at 7:29am to shoot the breeze.

My mom delivered the news that my uncle had passed away in his sleep, very unexpectedly, at the age of 56. Before we go any further, let me tell you that my uncle knows the Lord and is singing praises to Him on the streets of gold right now, so while we are heartbroken that his family here gets no more earthly time with him, we are rejoicing that we will get to see him again.

It’s odd. I’ve experienced loss before, but it’s been different. My first experience with death was when a next-door neighbor passed away  during my childhood. We went to his funeral and my parents did a great job of explaining things to us and making sure we weren’t scarred from the whole ordeal. The next time I experienced loss, I was much older, and it was much closer. My best friend’s dad died after an extensive battle with cirrhosis of the liver. He had had a liver transplant and we thought maybe that would be the turning point, away from hospitals and sickness, but instead, one cold December day, I got a phone call from my mom. I remember it so vividly.

I was walking back to my dorm in the cutting Blacksburg wind, and had several textbooks in my arms. I heard her say something like “Bethany, Mr. Scott didn’t make it.” I hadn’t quite made it to the door of my room yet, and remember dropping the textbooks and papers in the middle of the hall, and crumbling to my knees. Then, gasping and crying and screaming, I sat there until my best friend came running around the corner to wrap me in her arms.

I remember thinking “Not him, not now! It’s too soon! This can’t be real. What will they do? How will they go on?” This man was like a second father to me. A man I had memories with, who was the one who seated me every Sunday morning at church when I was painfully shy when I was younger, and who more Sundays than not, sat with me instead of having someone else come be “my friend.” This man took me on multiple vacations with his family – even Disney World! How loved I felt by this man, that he would think enough of me to include me in his family’s vacation plans to the happiest place on earth.

And the worst part… the worst part was that he was madly, deeply in love with his wife, and she with him. There’s not a lot that seems more cruel than to have the one you love taken from you, far too soon. My heart ached. My heart literally hurt for her, and for my best friend and his sister. I remember being held up at the elbows by my parents at his funeral. I remember struggling to breathe and feeling as though my insides were imploding.

I remember thinking, “How will they go on after the loss of their husband/father?”

Now, more than a decade later, I’m sitting here thinking about my aunt and cousins who just lost their husband/father and I’m thinking about my own loss. Not just about my uncle, but about my own father. I’ve realized that in a very unconventional way, I have spent the last 12 years grieving the loss of my dad. I grieved him when Mr. Scott died, I’ve grieved him in every little girl holding her daddy’s hand, and I’m grieving him again now, with the loss of my uncle. My dad isn’t dead, but I have mourned the loss of our relationship. It’s taken over 12 years, but I think I’m finally able to recognize this.

As I have prayed for my aunt over the last few days, I have practically begged God for His supernatural comfort and peace to overtake her. I have realized that grief is a long, slow, and very painful process. You can drown in the “why’s” and “how is this real?”s and the despair can suffocate you. I hope you’ll join me in covering my aunt and my cousins in prayer. Tomorrow, when we bury him, it will be a difficult day, but not the most difficult, because then Tuesday will come, and then Wednesday, and each day after.

Decision Time For Crohn’s Treatment and a Thankful Heart

I’ve been trying to write a new post now for a week. I can’t seem to come up with anything interesting to say. Not that this means our life isn’t interesting, I mean, c’mon, we live with two little whirlwinds. Hurricanes I call them… Hurricane Pax and Hurricane Maverick. Fitting, isn’t it?! They’re strong and ferocious little gusts of wind, who blow through a room quickly, starting quietly and ending with a roar, and when they’re gone its as if everything has been tossed in the air and left to fall where it may.

Anyway, our little hurricanes celebrated Halloween (more to come on that later), and its been raining on and off. An important marker in this stage of our lives is that we’ve not visited a hospital in the last week, and we’ve done lots of research on medications and therapies and alternative ways of treating Crohn’s Disease. You’ve been so helpful. We’ve had so many people reach out to us and give us advice, or opinions, and real life experience. Don’t tell Brandon, but I even joined a Crohn’s support forum online. It sounds a little hokey, I admit, but there’s a weird sense of solace in reaching out across the cyber waves to ask someone else going through the same thing, what they would do, or what they did. Even better than that has been all the messages and comments from people we know or people who know us through someone who knows us. We have wrestled with what to do about a long-term treatment plan, and are still trying to make sense of the best course of treatment for us.

This week, I’ve had several moments where I have felt so overwhelmingly blessed, I just have to share. I’ll start with my most recent “moment.”

Just the other day at work, a woman I work with, who just recently had a baby, came back to work for the first day after the birth of her son. Her son is still in the NICU. He’s had 2 surgeries since his birth just 12 short weeks ago. I told my coworker that she looked great – and she did – but I could see the worry in her eyes. I could see the underlying stress of navigating a hospital system, with a precious family member at the center of it. I wanted to reach out and hug her, but was afraid of tipping over that precariously balanced set of emotions, the tears threatening to flow at any moment. Instead, I went back to my desk and carefully crafted an email to her, offering a promise to pray for her, and a listening ear if she needed it. On my way home that day, I cried. I cried for her because I know all too well, that torn feeling she has. The torment of fulfilling only half the duties of wife, and half the duties of mom, and barely able to concentrate on work.

I realized how blessed I am, because I’m not sure how I would handle it if my baby were the one in the hospital. I barely held it together, and my husband is a full-grown man. I have another friend whose baby was recently in the hospital for weeks, and at one point, had a very dim prognosis. These women are heroes.

The Crohn’s Treatment We Chose and Why…

When I think about our journey, I thank God for the brevity of our hospital stays, and for the diagnosis that we have. My husband could be facing something much, much worse. Don’t get me wrong, Crohn’s is no picnic, but we are on the verge of getting this whole thing under control (hopefully!).

We found out that Brandon has not yet formed antibodies to Humira, and since his physician really (really, really, really, really, really) thinks that Remicade is his best chance at getting the Crohn’s symptoms in remission, he has decided to switch to Remicade and his first infusion will be next Monday. Brandon is more than ready to begin, and has been fighting feelings of anxiety because he hasn’t been feeling that great and can already tell that he’s headed back down the road to another blockage if we don’t get it under control quickly. We canNOT keep having pieces of his intestines removed, so you can understand his anxiety. The way his physician put it was a little blunt, and basically scared the mess out of us:

You have to be on medication that will control this. If you don’t, you’ll end up in surgery after surgery, with the eventual result of no intestines, and then you’ll be fed through a tube and never taste food again.

Well ok, then. Sign us up. When do we begin?

But seriously. We begin (well he, obviously, but I’ll be there with him and feel like this is we a “we” thing ya know) with an on-boarding round of infusions, and then we’ll settle in to an every other month infusion schedule… for life. I’m nervous for several reasons:

  1. Is Remicade going to work?
  2. Is Brandon going to respond positively or negatively to the infusions in the hours and days following?
  3. Will there long-term negative effects on Brandon’s body?
  4. Will we be able to afford this treatment… forever?

I have to say, in my life, there have been a few moments where I’ve felt like what was happening was a little surreal. Like the moment where I realized I was a pastor’s wife. What? Me? **Looks over shoulder** I never dreamed in a million years that I would marry a pastor. Is this the life I’m leading?! Wow! I feel so grateful that the Lord chose to bless me!

Another was that time that I gave birth to a second baby boy and realized that I was a MOM, to TWO LITTLE BOYS. It was so surreal. I remember thinking “I still feel 21 years old. Certainly I can’t be mother of two, can I? These precious children are… MINE?!”

Then there was that time when half a year had passed in a blur and a surgeon came walking into a hospital room (OUR hospital room) to tell us that he had just taken out 18 inches of my husband’s small intestines. Surreal. Is this our life? My husband (MY HUSBAND?!) has a chronic disease. Chronic diseases happen to other people, right? Not us. Bad things like this – like hospital visits and surgeries and injections and infusions – those things always happen to other people… right? I’m still a little in shock that this life we’ve been living, is ours.

But through all of this, all of these surreal moments and quiet cries for help, I’ve realized just how blessed we are. People have given of themselves, to us, more than we deserve and more than we can ever thank them for. They’ve paid for our groceries, fed our family dinner, made student loan payments for us, sent us cards and gifts and flowers. Sweet friends and family have given us memories, help with the boys, and my sweet sister-in-law even refused to let me pay her when she did my hair!

Brandon and I got a phone call this week that I almost can’t believe even happened. What this person said to me was so kind and so unexpected and means so much to us that when I got off the phone, we kind of had this eerie moment where we both agreed that things like that don’t happen to us. We usually do that sort of thing for other people! We feel guilty accepting help from others because we still feel so blessed. God has shown us that even though it doesn’t make sense on paper, He will provide. When we’re busy scrambling to figure out how to make groceries and bills and everything else work out, He’s smiling as He watches the UPS guy literally deliver dinner to our front doorstep.

crohns-disease-treatment

Our God is so good and I can’t help but praise Him for His goodness! My sweet family has been taken care of and so loved on, and even in the midst of uncertainty, I can rest in knowing I serve a great and mighty God.

I can’t wait to share some of the details of the last few weeks with you guys. You might not even believe it!

 

A Season of Change

Welcome to my new blog, The Delk Project. If you’re familiar with my writing, then you’ve probably read AHokieAndATarheel and you’re probably curious about the new look and the new name. You can read more about the name and the journey to this particular spot of real estate here.

In a nutshell, the last 2 years have been ones of one change after another, and I guess you could say, we’ve been in…

A season of change

I’ve written a little about our story and when I go back to read it all, I re-live it, and I rejoice in it. All the change, all the trials, all the provision… through each uncertainty and every blessing, we have felt the presence of God. He knows exactly what he’s doing, and where each turn will take us, even if we can’t see around the bend.

a-season-of-change

Proverbs 3:5-6 says Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

I re-read the part “do not lean on your own understanding” over and over because I’m one of those people who likes to figure out the problem and once I can understand it, I can solve it. But see, a lot of this past year I haven’t been able to understand…

“Why would Brandon and I both lose our jobs in the same season?” Patience, child, and trust me, I’m about to bless you with a wonderful job that you will love, surrounded by a great team of coworkers.

“Why would we face chronic and serious health issues during a time when we weren’t sure we would have insurance coverage, Lord?” Trust me, little one, for I am going to show my great power over your finances.

“Why would we face such a year of turmoil and uncertainty at this point in our marriage? We are supposed to have it all figured out and be busy giving our sons the best life imaginable.” Oh but child, I am growing you strong and courageous, to teach those boys how to seek me when it doesn’t make sense, and how to trust me when you cannot see the way. For you need not give them riches to give them everything, and in your weakness, I am made strong.

change-for-this-familySo as we have navigated this rolling tide of change, we have learned many things, not the least of which is that we are so loved. Friends and family near and far have loved on us, and given to us in more ways than we can count.

To each one of you, thank you.

You have been instrumental in teaching us, in healing us, and in showing Christ to us. We have discovered that we are like mounds of clay. Projects that the Lord keeps working on, even when we act unlovable, even when we doubt, and scream, and throw adult-sized tantrums. When you read this blog, please know that we aren’t perfect. We fight, we argue, we are short-tempered, we are messy and unorganized, and we are inpatient, but we are moldable. We are never too far gone to be put on the shelf, lost in the dust of forgotten projects.

The Delk Project is a place for me to capture the stories of our lives, and to share with you the inter-workings of the project that is our family. I hope to share the good, the bad, the funny, and the uncomfortable with you. I hope you’ll join us. I cherish my original blog, so I’ve decided to leave it intact, just like it is. I will be blogging here from now on and hope this hasn’t confused anyone. It was time for this blog to be born and take shape and I’m excited about the stories and the memories it will hold.

We’re embracing the change, and though this project needs some work, I’m willing to withstand the molding, and I think you’ll see that through the refinement comes joy, beautiful, unspeakable joy.

How The Delk Project Came To Be…

…and the first official post on this .com!

The Delk Project was born out of my love of blogging, and a 2-years-in-a-row New Year’s Resolution goal that I was determined to keep. You see, I first began blogging in 2009 at ahokieandatarheel.blogspot.com, where I recorded precious memories of the last 6 years of our lives. I’ve know for 2 years now that I wanted a “.com”, a “real blog”, a more official piece of real estate in cyber space, and I just couldn’t pull the trigger. Why? Because I couldn’t come up with a name. Sure, I guess I could have gone with ahokieandatarheel.com but I wanted something fresh and nothing seemed just right, or if it did, it was taken. Boo.

In the throes of my husband’s hospital stay in July of this year, it came to me… The Delk Project.

We talked it over and decided we liked it. That very moment, I looked up the domain name, the twitter name, and the instagram name, and I purchased it! TheDelkProject.com was born.

You might be doing the math in your head and figuring out that between July and now (October), this is my first post and are curious about the gap. (Probably not, but I’ll tell you anyway!) Well, I’ve been wrestling over what to do with my first blog, and while I thought I wanted to port the whole thing over, I realized that there are far too many sentimental memories associated with that blog to touch it, so while it might be cumbersome for you to hop over there and read things, should I need to reference them, I couldn’t touch it. I needed to leave that piece of my heart and my memories parked right there, right where they belong.

So, here we are, with my first (but not first ever) blog post. I can’t wait to share all the many projects in my life, and the project that is my life, with each one of you. So welcome, friends, welcome to The Delk Project.