Saturday, June 2, 2012

MIA...The Year that Changed My Life

What a year this been! It seems like only yesterday I was entering the blogosphere, finding my way, meeting new bloggy friends, and finding an enormous amount of creative talent and ideas along the way. My oldest daughter got married in July, school started in August, and I was blessed with best class I have ever had. Seriously, they are the sweetest, hardest working bunch of second graders I have ever seen :)!! Life was looking good.
The bride and her special Grandma Gee
September brought yet another wedding in our oldest stepson got married in Celebration, Florida and I gained a beautiful daughter-in-law. However, the night before we left my 84 year-old mother who lived with me tripped over her suitcase and broke her shoulder. She was a trooper and went on to the wedding in a wheelchair with her arm in a sling! October brought lots of tailgating and Auburn football, along with lots of in-home therapy for my mom.
November brought flu season to my classroom, and I began to feel achy and tired and feverish. I would wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat and burning up with fever.  I would feel better for a few days...and then it would start up again. I am NOT a hypochondriac, and I rarely go to the doctor. I have a philosophy that if you take vitamins, eat right. and treat the symptoms pretty soon you will get well on your own! Well, Thanksgiving came and went and I was still battling the "flu".
The first week in December my fever began to spike and I got so tired and achy I couldn't go to work, After 5 1/2 weeks af fighting the crud I finally bit the bullet and went to the doctor. 15 vials of blood later, after a gazillion tests and a pelvic ultrasound I still felt sick and had a 104 fever! Nothing showed up, other than a gas bubble near my right kidney and a slightly elevated white blood count! My husband was out of town at a sales meeting,  my mother couldn't drive, and I was out of Tylenol. I called a dear friend  (who just happens to be a nurse who works with gastrointestinal surgeries) and asked if she could bring me some. After describing my symptoms to her, she told me to call my doctor back immediately and tell him to schedule a lower abdominal CT scan. She proceeded to tell me the "gas bubble" was probably fluid leaking from my appendix. Well she was right! My husband hurried home from his trip, took me to the ER where they were waiting for me. 30 minutes later the CT scan confirmed that my appendix had  a small tear in it, had ruptured, and had been slowly leaking for the last month. Within the hour I was in surgery having an emergency appendectomy. I had no idea how sick I was...and I never had any serious pain! I almost died! There was so much gangrene in my body that the doctor said if I had waited one more day I might not have recovered. I was in the hospital over a week, on antibiotics for another month, and wasn't able to go back to work until January!
Christmas was a special time because I was so thankful just to be alive! I couldn't cook, I couldn't drive, and I had not decorated my house OR bought a single present! My precious daughters did everything! They ordered all my presents for me online, they wrapped them, they put up 5 Christmas trees, went grocery shopping, baked cookies, and prepared my Christmas dinner! God is so good!!!
3 Generations on Christmas morning
My mom quit eating while I was in the hospital and she got so weak that she had to be hospitalized the day before New Year's Eve. They gave her liquid nourishment and IV fluids, and she was able to come home New Year's Day! That was like the blind leading the blind since I was so weak I could barely walk myself! January started off with a bang, as my daughter in NYC got engaged!!!  I went back to work January 6 and Home Health started back taking care of my mom. My sweet babies were SO HAPPY to see me...and I was SUPER DUPER THRILLED to see them!!
I went back to church for the first time January 8, and my precious mom went with us in her wheelchair. I worked Monday, cooked dinner Monday night, got up Tuesday morning, got ready for work, went to wake my mom up before I left...and found her half off the bed, unable to speak or move. She had suffered a massive stroke on her left side which left her paralyzed on her right side. The left brain also controls speech and swallowing, and she was unable to do either. After consulting with her amazing stroke specialist and neurologist and following the wishes of her living will, we decided not to put a feeding tube in my mom's stomach, but to take her to their palliative care unit, take her off all machines, and stay with her until God called her home. My middle daughter and her fiance flew home from NY, my son came home from college, and my oldest daughter (who is also an elementary school teacher), her husband, my husband, and I stayed by her side day and night.
I don't know if you are aware of what palliative care is, but it is like hospice except it is in the hospital.  The rooms are large, they don't have machines all around the beds, there are couches and recliners and large bathrooms with showers. They have a family kitchen where you can keep food and also all eat together, and a big living room area with videos, games, and books for children. It is peaceful, and the people who work there are angels. They bring pets in to love on the patients, and they have the most amazing, sweet, angelic-voiced music therapists who come in daily and sing to the patients. My mom has always loved hymns, and we played them constantly on our iPod, but when the music therapist came in and began to sing, my mom's eyes would become alert! God was so gracious to allow us 9 days there with my mom. She couldn't talk to us, but she could squeeze our hands with her left hand, and show us with her eyes that she understood what we were saying. She could blink for "yes" and "no". And then when she couldn't respond at all anymore, we could hold her hand, talk to her, pray with her, and tell her how much we loved her. Family, friends, pastors, and colleagues came and visited, and some really special friends even stayed around the clock with us as the end drew near and we didn't want to be alone. On Thursday night, January 19 surrounded by all of her children and grandchildren, my precious mom opened her eyes wide, looked straight up to heaven, took her last breath, and went home to Jesus. It was the most beautiful sight to moment she was with us, and the next moment she was with our Lord. It completely took away my fear of death. So many people had prayed with us and for us that my whole family felt bathed in prayer. You could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in her hospital room. I feel so blessed to have been a part of her home-going!
My mom...the original glamour shot 
Still glamorous

Well, needless to say, it has been a difficult few months since then. My mom had Alzheimer's Disease and had lived with us for the last 8 years. There has been an empty void in my house and my life since her death. My husband travels every week, and my mom had  been such company for me since my youngest child went off to college 2 years ago. I haven't really felt like blogging. In fact, this is the first time I have put into words everything that has happened this last year.  As I told you earlier in this post, I have a wonderful class this year. They have written me countless cards and notes, some of them visited me when I came home from the hospital, and they even cried with me when I came back to work after my mom's funeral. You see, she came once a week and had lunch with my class and they all called her Grandma. I feel like God gifted me with this class because He knew the year I was going to have.
I'm out of school for the summer now, and enjoying sitting by the pool, relaxing, and reading. I'm also taking a room at a time and organizing things, throwing things away, and then I'm going to redecorate my mom's room. My daughter in NY is coming home for a few weeks to plan her wedding, and she is going to help me re-do and update things. We have a whole slew of DIY Pinterest plans to put into action! And then, hopefully, I will get back into this blogging world on a regular basis!!
My husband and I with our sweet grandbabies


  1. Wow Debra, you and your family have endured a lot this year. So glad you are well and will get the needed rest and relaxation of summer with your precious family.

    Yearn to Learn Blog

  2. You have really been through a heck of a lot this year. I'm hope that things are starting to look up for you. Enjoy the summer!

    Learning Is Something to Treasure

  3. Wow! I hope that you relax this summer and that next year is full of great things! I'm your newest follower and brand new blogger! Come check out my blog!

    Teaching Maddeness