Monday, July 26, 2010

Croup and a visit to the Hospital

I have heard of croup before, but we have never “dealt” with it personally until this weekend! On Friday night Elijah slept almost 12 hours straight…which is unusual for him, but he didn’t seem to have anything wrong with him so I dismissed it. We had borrowed my dad’s power washer so that we could clean the outside of the house and started that project sometime around noon.

Elijah had gone down for another nap at that time so I was in and out of the house all afternoon helping Dominic and checking on Elijah. After another 3 ½ hours I started to get concerned and went in to check on him and noticed that he was very warm. He had a fever of 102.7 so I gave him some Tylenol and a bottle and he just rested in our living room.

By about 5:30pm I checked his temp again and he still had a higher fever and was getting really irritable. He was putting his hand on his ears and didn’t want me to touch them so I thought that he might have the starts of an ear infection. I got cleaned up and he and Gabriel and I headed up to Sioux Falls to have him checked out.

I had heard him coughing a few times but didn’t think much of it and thought it was something tied to the ear infections. We got him started on the antibiotics for his ear and we went back home. Later that evening, he was tired and crabby and was coughing a little more. It sounded like he needed to clear his throat and cough some junk up and just couldn’t.

I had mentioned to Dominic that I was worried about him and that I would likely sleep out in the living room with him just to keep an eye on him. He fell asleep on his tummy on our living room floor while we watched a movie.

Around 11pm or so I went over to him just to feel his forehead and noticed that he was really hot. When I took his temp it read 103.3 and then I tried it again and it was 104.1. I knew that something was really wrong. Dominic went and turned him over and it was then that we could hear that he was really struggling to breathe – you could also see it in his body.

I was scared and called my dad to see what he thought we should do – I started crying so Dominic had to talk to him. We decided to bring him up to the ER in Sioux Falls and have him seen. So we woke up Gabriel and headed, very quickly into town.

They got us in right away and immediately gave him a couple of nebulizer treatments that helped with his breathing. They did a chest x-ray and then gave him some steroids. Funny story about that….the oral steroids made his tummy really upset and he threw up right away. The nurse told us to push the red button if he threw up again and they would give him a shot of steroids. So about 5 minutes later he threw up again and I ask Dominic if he could see the call light deal and all we can find is a red button on the wall that says “Staff Assist”. So he tells me to push that.

The “Staff Assist” button doesn’t call the nurse…it calls the WHOLE emergency department. 2 nurses, the doctor, the security guard and the flight med tech all came running within seconds to come to our aid. All except the nurse that told us to push the call light!! We were pretty embarrassed….they showed us where the actual call button was….it was NOT where it typically is on the bed. I think they understood…and Dominic and I had a good laugh over it!!

So after a few hours – at 3am - we were admitted to stay in the hospital. Elijah didn’t sleep well there and needed to be held the whole time. It was a LONG day. But the steroids really helped to bring down his wheezing and coughing and we were finally released to go home around 3pm on Sunday afternoon.

He is doing much better today. He is still pretty fussy, but his breathing has improved a ton and we are so thankful that he got the help he needed when he did. A very scary situation but it could have been a lot worse. We are just thankful for the hospital staff that helped him and that my parents were available to have Gabriel “sleep over” while we spent the day with Elijah. God was watching over us on Saturday night and I was reminded that Elijah is His son first and so I just had to trust that everything would be ok.

Thanks to those that prayed for us – hopefully the next time I am in the hospital it is to deliver this babe #4…in late December!! Nice staff, but I don’t want to make a habit out of visiting there!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Last night I had a meeting with several other women and we spent some time talking together about communication. It was such a good discussion and one that I needed to be a part of! In all things communication play such a vital role….if I can’t communicate well with others my relationships suffer.

I have not always been the best communicator. I can think something through, even blog about an idea, but often when it comes to communicating with someone else about what I am thinking or feeling…I end up communicating poorly. In the “heat” of a moment I often speak before I think, saying something that I regret and then have a hard time admitting later that I was wrong!

And I find that who I communicate with is something that I need to take into consideration before hand as well! Gabriel is often a good verbal indicator to help me see if I am portraying the message I want to. When he says “mom why do you have that mad face”, or “mom how come you are talking to me in a mad voice”….I know that something isn’t in check!

I can communicate a very strong message if I want to just with my tone of voice or my body language/facial expressions. But how many of us walk around with a mirror in front of us all the time to check our reflection? That is why someone like Gabriel is so good for me…he calls it like it is and I often have to change my approach if I really do not want to communicate anger.

I find that with Dominic I can communicate either respect or disrespect just by the way that I give him attention to something he is talking about. Even if it isn’t something that I want to discuss – I need to be willing to stop talking and listen every once and while!! But I can express my “distaste” in both verbal and nonverbal ways and it shows my disrespect. I don’t want to be openly disrespectful towards my husband so again that is something that I need to be very aware of!

One line I read about communicating really struck a chord with me. “Any message can be conveyed with courtesy, even one of outrage.” WOW! How do we do that? I know that I don’t do this well at all!! If I am feeling outraged it shows EVERYWHERE..on my face, in my voice. Let me give you an example.

I recently went to talk to someone in my HR department about my upcoming maternity leave. ( I am a planner and I wanted to attack this early) She hasn’t been with the company long – less than a year – and I just went through this whole process 18 months ago…so I kind of know “the drill”. I wasn’t sure where her level of expertise with our company would be…

I scheduled a meeting, explained in advance why I was coming and went expecting to get some paperwork and be on my way. What I got instead was a completely different experience. From my perspective I was treated with complete disrespect. It was evident in the tone of voice that was used with me, the questions that were asked of me and the guilt I felt was being laid on me. The conversation lasted 6 minutes.

In six minutes I was so outraged at the way I felt I was being treated that I stood up, said that I would no longer continue a conversation in which I was being treated this way and would not be made to feel guilty about needing maternity leave. I ended the conversation by saying that I guess I would have to talk to my manager and have him and her manager figure it out instead….and I walked out.

Was I conveying a message of courtesy in my outrage? NO!! Although I know that in situations like these I don’t need to sit and listen to what I perceive as disrespectful and nasty treatment….and it was probably good that I got up and left before it deteriorated even further….I also didn’t have to cross the line at the end and “threaten” her with involving our managers. At that point I was very upset and I wanted her to know it.

Being courteous in situations of outrage is something that I will have to continue to work on. It doesn’t happen very often….but it seems inevitable to avoid conflict with others and I need to be thinking of how I want to react when it happens.

Is my life a reflection of who God is in me? Am I offering grace to someone that doesn’t “deserve” it? Do I deserve it?? Of course not….but it was given to me freely, so why would I withhold it from someone else?

So as you can see this is an area where I will continue to focus on and hopefully will continue to grow from as well. But I love that God uses a small group meeting to bring up conversation and contemplation about another area in my life that could use a little work!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A new use for my Visa card

I have found a new use for my Visa card....

Any gueses on what I am working on here??

This project took me at least an hour....

I was disgusted with it as I was gross!

Have you ever used your Visa for something like this???

Did you figure it out yet?

This is what my hairspray looks like as I am scraping it off of my bathroom door!!

Gross right?!  I couldn't believe how think and gooey it was....and I am putting that in my hair every day!  I am not a beauty queen by any means...but without products my hair would be terribly frizzy and a downright until I either cut off all of my hair - or decide to go all natural...I am going to have to make sure to start cleaning my bathroom door more frequently so that it never looks like this again!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Gabriel - alternately titled "Confessions of a tooth crazed mother"

This is Gabriel. My fun loving 6 year old son.

This is Gabriel showing off his snaggle tooth. The tooth that he WON'T let me pull out.  I have become obsessed with this tooth of least that is what Dominic tells me.  I am still in denial over all of it.

Gabriel lost one of his 2 front teeth on Saturday. He bit into a snack he was eating and knocked it loose enough that I was able to pull it out.  The other big front tooth is also loose and now without the support from tooth #1 is hanging slightly crooked in the front of his mouth.  Every night I ask if I can pull it out.  I guess it isn't quite ready, but I am still willing to try!! :)  He has a dentist appointment tomorrow....I secretly hope that they "bump" it out on accident and we can put this whole tooth fiasco behind us. Is that terrible of me?! :)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Back Home

I had a wonderful, but short trip to CO to see Karlena.  It was so good to see her and spend time with her!  On Friday we had a really good day...lots of talking and laughing. On Saturday she was a lot more worn out...I think we overdid it a bit.  So she had a few more naps that day but we still had lots of chances to visit with each other.

It does seem strange at times to be having these kind of conversations with someone that is so young...but she reminded me once again that she isn't afraid to die and that she knows she will be with God when it happens.  She is such an inspiration to so many people.  She said that people tell her that and she doesn't know why....I said it is because she had a choice when all of this started to either be angry, bitter and negative or to love and trust God inspite of her circumstances.

She chose the latter....and it is that perspective, that attitude that is so inspiring!  I have a picture of the 2 of us that I will try to get posted soon.  It was such a blessing to spend even a few days with her. And to tell her in person once again how much I loved her and supported her decisions going forward.

We both cried and cried when I left...but we both know that if that goodbye was our last in is only a goodbye for awhile. I have peace in everything because of that assurance.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Letter to a friend....

I am sharing an e-mail that I sent this morning to an old friend of Karlena’s. She has struggled with Karlena’s illness and has been unable to stay connected with Karlena because of it. Karlena has been so hurt by this and in honesty the e-mail played out in my mind a lot nastier at first. But I knew that isn’t what Karlena would have wanted and that it might have been an opportunity wasted to share God with this woman…so I felt led to write this instead. I share it for a few reasons. 1) that you might also pray for this woman and 2) that maybe there is someone out there reading this that needs to hear the message as well.

Please hear my heart on this – I do not set myself out as a person who has it all figured out and tries to guilt others into doing it “my way”. I have learned lots of lessons the hard way and God continues to forgive and refine me. Part of that process is recognizing that His message cannot be kept silent. There are lost people out there and if they don’t hear the truth from us because we are too afraid of making people “mad” or “upset”, they may just not ever hear the truth. The best way I know how to share Christ with others is to share my experience with Him. I hope that is reflected here….

Hey – it is Kristin. Been a long time I know. Last time we saw each other was when you guys were in ……do you remember? I maybe shouldn’t be e-mailing you and my intent is not to upset you but rather to share my own experience with Karlena’s illness recently. What you do going forward is up to you.

 Several years ago my husband and I and Kerry and Karlena drove together to a wedding of her college roommate “S”. I remember noticing that she held Kerry’s arm wherever she walked but I didn’t think anything of it really. She didn’t tell me at that time that she was starting to experience symptoms of her disease. But at some point in that evening Kerry told my husband in private and it was shared with me later. I was devastated. I cried and was angry with God. She didn’t deserve this and it wasn’t fair…especially because she now had a son.

 I was also scared. I will be honest with you. I remember her dad a little…you probably do even more…I remember seeing him in the local pharmacy one day and I knew who he was and he walked with a severe “gate” and he was difficult to understand. When I was 13, I spent some time working with kids at XXXX. I was left in a room alone during one of those visits with a similar aged child who had severe disabilities, drooled a lot and was very difficult to understand. At that time I was so uncomfortable. I remember not wanting to go back because I didn’t know what to say and didn’t want to have to ask the person to repeat themselves if I couldn’t understand them. I held onto this “phobia” and judged her dad in the same way several years later.

The idea of Karlena getting to this point scared me. How would I communicate with her? How would I understand her? How would I feel when she couldn’t get around like she used to… I, I, I…it was always about me and how “I” felt about the situation. Early on I thought less of Karlena and how she must be feeling and more about how it affected me.

But as I agonized and prayed about this “news” we had been given that wedding weekend, God really changed my perspective. I realized that this wasn’t all about “me” and how I felt about it or if I would be uncomfortable but more about how I could be a reflection of who God is to me….to Karlena. I decided that regardless of how bad things got I needed to make the time we did have count.

We started to have annual trips to the Women of Faith conferences together. For a few years she only needed a cane or an arm to walk with. And one year she transitioned to a walker and then the scooter. With each year she has gotten a little worse. Her gate is unsteady and her speech affected. But I don’t see the “problem” anymore….I just see Karlena. And the fear about how she is changing is gone.

Karlena is the same…no scratch that, a more amazing woman today then she was 10 years ago. She has this infectious faith and believes with all her heart that God has a plan for her. She has touched so many people because of her faith and has shown a selfish and cruel world that there are many things to be praising God for despite our worldly circumstances.

I am NO saint and I don’t begin to claim that I have it all figured out because I fail EVERY day and often my own faith suffers. But Karlena has been that shining example to me of what a Christ follower should be, and I desire to find those same things in myself. She isn’t angry about what has “happened” to her. She doesn’t blame God and say it isn’t fair.

She looks for ways to be light in a dark world…if we can’t learn that from someone like Karlena then who can we learn it from? I am so grateful for the time that Karlena and I have had together over the past several years. It isn’t enough really. I have always known that one day I would get “the call” from Kerry or Linda. I thought that call had come on June 4th. She was on a respirator and was very sick and in lots of pain. She has made clear her wishes at the end and it looked like for the first week Kerry was going to have to follow through with those plans.

I bawled like a baby when I got that call. All over again I was angry that this had to be happening and I wasn’t ready to say good-bye yet. But I knew that once again it wasn’t about me…and what was best for me…but what was best for Karlena. She is ready to go when God says it is time. She has absolute faith and assurance that because she accepted Christ as her Savior that on that day she will begin her eternity in Heaven with Him. I too have that faith and because of that I know that this time on earth for us is not the end of the story and one day… I will see her again.

One of Karlena’s passions is sharing that assurance with others and making sure that they too have the opportunity to accept the gift God freely gave Karlena for themselves. She wants us all to join her….she wants you to join her. I don’t know what you believe about God or what kind of relationship you have with Him. My prayer for you is that it is already established. But if it isn’t….Karlena would ask you what are you waiting for? If her life can be cut short so soon….who is to say that ours won’t be also? She would say don’t wait…because we don’t know the time or the hour that will be our last.

I am sure that you, like I would rather “remember” Karlena as she was. Seeing her at 85lbs is difficult to say the least. But her spirit hasn’t changed…the insides are the same Karlena you knew in earlier years..…her outsides just look a little different. She loves you the same as she did those years ago when you guys spent every day together and she misses that friendship in her life. But I understand how difficult it can be to deal with death and those that are dying….and so I know that maybe that is something you just can’t do….I don’t hold that against you at all.

But if today, right now, you don’t have the solid assurance that you will see Karlena again after this life, please, please seek out God. Karlena thinks that she has failed God, failed you in some way because she doesn’t know for sure where you stand. She hasn’t been able to tell you these things and so today I speak for her. She loves you…but God loves you more. If you don’t have that personal relationship with Him…don’t let the sun go down on another day before you do.

I will be praying for you. I am leaving tonight to see her for a few days. If you are interested in knowing how she is let me know and I would be glad to send you updates.


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