Friday, December 31, 2010

My One Word

Each year people make New Years Resolutions. They last for about a month...maybe a tad more, much more likely a lot less. I stopped 2 years ago making New Years Resolutions and have instead switched to focusing on just ONE WORD for the upcoming year. I have had the words EMBRACE and RESTORE the past two years but for 2011, my one word is REVIVAL. In times of revival, God's people experience His presence and power to degrees never thought possible. When revival comes, the giant will not only stir and awaken, but also move with dynamic power and glorious impact.
I am praying that 2011 is a year of major revival for me. I have experienced the healing hand of God, the restoration of who I am, and now I am ready for God to unleash an incredible revival in me. I want to feel the presence of the Lord and see Him move in ways I would have never imagined all while He receives the glory back for it.
I'm excited to see what 2011 will bring for me and my family. I challenge all of my readers to choose one word and not make resolutions that you will break in a day, a week, or a month. There is a website you can google: My One Word and there you can have accountability, encouragement from others with your word, and some questions to answer each week to mark any progress that has been made or anything that the Lord has done for you in regards to your word.
Many blessings to each of you. I pray we all get our word and grow in that tremendously over this next year.

If you choose to do this, leave a comment with your word and why you chose it.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ironic

Before I go into what is ironic, let me quickly update on my appointments yesterday at Vanderbilt. I had my 6 month ECHO check which at first came with bad news. They told me my heart function had dropped from 65% (55-65 is normal) to 47%. I took the news just fine with a peace surrounding me like crazy. I never worried about it or got bent out of shape AT ALL! I mentioned it to my oncologist who looked into it, saw that it was originally misread and that the cardiologist said my function was ok at 55%. Whew...I'll take that - a normal reading. My next ECHO will be again in 6 months. Then I went to have labs drawn...3 sticks later they had enough blood for the 6 tubes they needed. My blood counts came back "normal for me" and all is good. My oncologist gave me the all clear and I will go back in 3 weeks for my 6 month MRI check. I'm so relieved that I have no more appointments for the year 2010! Thank the Lord!

Now...on to the more important business...IRONIC! This whole week I have been praying and hoping that the Lord would reveal some new things about Christmas to me through His Word that I have never really taken in before. We all read the story of Christ's birth in Luke 1 and 2, but this year, I decided to read from each gospel. The first thing that was revealed to me was from Matthew...the lineage of Jesus. Can we all say imperfect. We have Rahab, Tamar, Bathsheeba, even King David who had some sketchy moments in his life yet was known as a man after God's own heart. And then have you ever picked up on the fact that Ruth is mentioned in the bloodline of Jesus even though she was a Gentile and not a Jew. See...he came for everyone and it even dates back to waaaaay before he was born.
Then this morning is what got me the most. I got up, turned on the Christmas tree, grabbed myself a diet coke (not in a coffee mood lately) and started doing my Bible study. The topic today? DEATH. What?!? Death...when we are celebrating the birth of our Savior? Hmmm...so I settled in, soaked it all in and the Holy Spirit started speaking to me.
Jesus was completely fine living a perfect life in Heaven with God.
He came to this fallen world as a human...a baby. Born in a barn stall with animals surrounding him.
He was born to die.
He was born to die for me and you and all of mankind and did just that when he was crucified.
His death equals our eternal life.
He was born to conquer death.

So as my family celebrates the birth of baby Jesus, I will remember that this sweet little baby was born with the specific purpose to die for me. How humbling is that? How much love that expresses! I pray that each of you, as you celebrate Christmas, will remember that not only was Christ born on this day, but that he was born to die so that we can live with Him forever.

"Greatest man in history, named Jesus, had no servants, yet they called Him Master. Had
no degree, yet they called Him Teacher. Had no medicines, yet they called Him Healer. 
He had no army, yet kings feared Him. He won no military battles, yet He conquered the 
world. He committed no crime, yet they crucified Him. He was buried in a tomb, yet He 
lives today."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Another Eye Opener

Today as I sit here and both children are napping, I have had my quiet time with my Saviour and I prayed afterwards and asked Him to please help me to write this blog. I'm praying that what my heart desperately wants to get across comes through perfectly - as though written by Him.
My lesson today in the study I am doing was called "UNMET EXPECTATIONS." Really. That's what it was called and I just kind of chuckled as I started it. Then, I ended up in tears realizing that all through Scripture our ancestors/legacy experienced unmet expectations too. The disciples expected things of Jesus since He was right there with them and when He didn't deliver (in their eyes,) they got bent out of shape, scared, and desperate. I'm actually referring to the passages about after Christ fed the 5000 (which made the disciples mad because they wanted to send the crowd away) He sent the disciples back to the boat while he climbed a mountain alone knowing the fercocious storm that was coming. The storm started and the disciples started freaking out wondering where Jesus was, why he wasn't there to save them. They actually, according to Mark got mad and their hearts were hardened. We are like them, we look for God but when we can't find him, and the pain sets in and expectations go unmet, doubts begin to surface.
This is where I have been. UNMET EXPECTATIONS. I actually got irritated at a friend who asked me "what if God chooses not to meet your expectations? Have you thought about that?" What I wanted to do was scream at her..."are you kidding me right now?!?!? I haven't come this far, been through this much for 23 months for the finality of things NOT to work out." That thought honestly never crossed my mind.
Then when I was put in the hospital 2 weeks ago, my expectations were yet again taken away from me. I was one step away from finality. ONE STEP AWAY. I've since realized that my heart had slowly, since July when I started reconstruction become hardened by unmet expectations. My pleadings for help, pain relief, and helaing were salted with angry questions. Why was this process so much worse than the 16 chemo treatments and 35 radiations? Why was this process so painful when it was supposed to be the happy part?When the decision was made to remove the tissue expanders and stop reconstruction for at least a few years I did it because I felt like the Lord was telling me to stop. To stop the pain, suffering, and wasting of precious time with my husband and children. That this was not the time for it. I have stopped wondering why all of this and then nothing. I have stopped wondering if I didn't obey God's desires in the first place. I have stopped and put all of that behind me. As Paul says in Scripture, I have put the past behind me and am focusing on the future. None of that matters anymore.
Today, I am Kelly Blevins, 22 month cancer survivor, no current thought of reconstruction, just focused on serving and honoring my Lord, my family, and my church. I am happy...no thrilled at how amazingly well I feel. It feels wonderful to NOT be on medicine for pain and muscle spasms for the first time since July. It feels wonderful to feel like Kelly. It feels wonderful to smile and be grateful for the little things in life. It feels wonderful to know that God has promised to work ALL things together for the good of those who love him.
I am excited to celebrate the birth of Jesus with my 2 and 4 year olds. I am excited to go see my new niece in Seattle in January and then go on a ski excursion with my husband and our friends later that month. I'm looking forward to things in life again and this feels good. God knew exactly what he was doing when he didn't meet my expectations because I can tell all of you that this has ALL worked out for the good of me...and those whom I love most.

Romans 11:33 - Oh how great are God's riches and wisdom and knowledge. How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and ways.

Oh, and I almost forgot...my labs are 100% normal...so that is one expectation that was met this week!!!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Glimpse Into My Week

Since there is so much going on this week, I get to tell you about it in list form...my favorite. It's 7 AM and I am awake with my sweet Chloe who is doing her ballet routine to "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" over and over again and I couldn't think of a better was to start my Sunday morning than blogging while I watch her being ADORABLE.

1. Today, I am choosing to stay home from church and out of the cold. Since my blood counts are still wacky I don't want to be around anyone who is sick.

2. Monday, I have repeat bloodwork done which will determine quite a bit I think. I also have Physical Therapy that afternoon. Luckily our main babysitter is home from college and is here for me all week. I love her, my kids love her...she rocks.

3. Tuesday, I get to go vent all of my feelings out to my counselor who I decided to start seeing a few months ago when I couldn't stop grieving Kate and it started affecting our family. I haven't seen her in a while so I am glad to go. I will also get my lab results this day.

4. Wednesday, I go back to my plastic surgeon whom I adore and will discuss labs, and hopefully get my drain out. May talk about future possibilities but may not. It will depend on how I feel. David told me last night that Dr Oslin told him that he was so glad that I agreed to let him take the expanders out instead of just chancing that the infection wouldn't be there. He then said that he could tell the pain I suffered and a cracked rib from all the pressure of them was affecting my quality of life big time...especially with children as young as ours. That made me feel better and smile. He really cares about me and my family in ways most doctors don't.

5. Thursday, I will see my oncologist to go over my labwork with her and figure out what is going on with my body. Is something going on? Is it just taking me an extra long time to heal? Are the tripled white blood cells due to stress or multiplying cancer cells, or just another infection of some sort. I'm not focusing on this though as this same day my sweet Chloe and I have our annual girls trip to the Opryland Hotel to spend the night and see the Rockettes and walk miles all over the hotel. We are also going to ICE which will be lots of fun. I had thought about cancelling because of how bad I feel, but I am hoping to be feeling lots better by then. And if I don't, we are still going because she is so worth it!

6. Friday - NOTHING!

7. Weekend - family time and nothing else. It's time to start getting quality family time back and enjoying life again. We may go down to the riverwalk and take in the lights, we may have game night with our kids, we may just lay on the couch and do nothing. I don't know...all I know is that I will be doing the weekend with my family.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Update # 3.475 million...because ya'll have been left hanging.

Im going to start off with how things were when I left this hospital on Monday, the 6th. I was excited to be leaving, but knew that none of the realizations would hit until I got home and real life hit. So to put me in a better mood and avoid getting home 20 minutes earlier, David stopped by Target but only agreed to do so if I took the "Jazzy" for a spin (upscale mart-cart). I figured why not, I have my bedroom slippers on too so I might as well. I went joy riding all over that place for about 15 minutes then I was exhausted. I hit a few displays and employees,, but they accepted my first time driver apology and life went on.
As I imagined, both kids were just so excited to see me and David. They couldn't believe I was there to stay. we snuggled in together and just layed there as a family. It was glorious. I missed my family so much up on the oncology ward that there were times I would sit and cry for them when I was alone.

Then Tuesday happened and it was a horrible day. I could barely move off the couch or bed and I was sore. Luckily the kids had school that day so there was a 5 hour window of peace/sleep/rest etc...my body could have and I used my time very wisely.

Wednesday came and came with a vengenance. I couldn't speak, swallow, eat, drink, etc... I knew it wouldn't be strep with all of the IV antibiotics I had been on. Got in to see my PCP and explained it all to him. It's thrush...a fungal infection caused by all of the wonderful IV antibiotics I was taking. So, I am now on Cipro still trying to kill bacteria and Diflucan orally to try and kill fungus. My body is working itself to death as my last set of labs that have come in show it,
White Cells: In Hospital :7.23           Now: 14.1
Neutrophils: don't remember            Now: 84% (normal is less tha 60)
Hemoglobin 9.2                               Now 10
Hematocrit   29                                Now 32.7

Still very weak and walking to my mailbox makes me short of breath and extremely exhausted. I go see my plastics guy tomorrow to remove stitches and a drain  I hope. I will talk to him about these labs and I have also emailed my oncologist for her opinion as well. My white count should be way low considering all the drugs I've fought my infection off with.
I have to thank every single one of you who changed your schedules and found sitters etc...to come visit me in the hospital. It brightened  my day by seeing all of you and enlarged my heart just that much more. THANK YOU!

Maybe there will be more to update about these crazy labs tomorrow or as I find out. Sometimes knowing too much (like little ms nurse right here) can have us dead and in a coffin in a pretty outfit before the doctor has even said hello.

Ways you can pray and ways I have been praying:
1. I am wondering why in the world God would allow suffering since July 12 when all of this process started knowing the end result.
2. I am wondering why in the world he would allow my latissitmus flap surgery in October to go off easily knowing what the big picture would be.
3. I am wondering why I made it to my very last fill up and was done with  everything until the exchange surgery in January and then this happens and everything has to come out.
4. I am wondering if I didn't hear God, pay attention to His true desires, and maybe I should not have done a thing for reconstruction to begin with.
So, pray for my personal restoration with who I am, who God says I am, that I will very soon feel like being on the floor with my babies playing pretend, and that I will be making David meals with a loving and full heart. I want more of a quality of life than I could ever have imagined
THanks Blogger Friends

Monday, December 6, 2010

Going on One Hour

Morning readers,
It's now going on one hour that I called out for the first time to ask for my pain medicine that was due over an hour ago. I called out again just about 20 minutes ago and if I don't get it soon, I'm going to go walking around the halls until I find my nurse and can personally tell her I'm hurting. If she could simply see the look on my face and the fact that there are tears rolling down it right now, I'm sure she wouldn't hesitate, but that's the problem. She is so busy tonight that she hasn't seen me but twice. I could turn into one of those annoying patients that hit my nurse button every 5 minutes but I really don't even think that would help.

So instead, as I sit here in a lonely bed, on a lonely oncology floor at 3:45 AM waiting for some pain relief, I will fill you all in on what is happening and share a few pictures just for laughs that David and I took 2 nights ago when I was really feeling good.

Yesterday I woke up feeling absolutely horrible. I knew something wasn't right as I was back bundled under as many blankets as possible and was just feeling yuck. My doctor came in soon thereafter with a look that said "you aren't going anywhere for a while missy." We discussed somethings and came to the conclusions that my red blood counts are dropping. My Hemoglobin which carries the iron throughout my body was 10.3 when I came in and was now 8.8 (close to transfusion level in oncology world), My Hematocrit which deals with overall blood volume percentage had dropped from 33 to 29. Anything below the 30's isn't that great. And my total RBC's had dropped from almost 4 to nearly 3. NOT GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION FOLKS. Other than that, the CT scan I had of my chest and arms turned out to show no metastasis or bone infection. My white count had come down some showing improvement in my overall infection status which is great seeing as how I have been on 4 antibiotics for 7 days now...Vancomycin and Cipro being the 2 big dogs. For now though, what I am most concerned about is my red blood counts droping (Connie brought my pain meds so we are good there now). I think I am going to call my oncology nurse in the morning and make her aware of what is going on. I am at St Thomas Hospital which is where my surgeons are yet my oncologist is at Vanderbilt, about 5 minutes away. If they were here or I were there, this would be so much easier to communicate.
I will update when I talk to my onco nurse in a  few hours and when I get my labs back hopefully in the next 2 hours.

Now though, come some funny/ironic/ridiculous pictures that David and I couldn't resist taking. This is our dark side of cancer humor coming out so just realize if you have never had cancer or known anyone who has, you may not understand that if you don't laugh about it then most times you will cry.

Seriously...penthouse?!? Oncology unit people...just one step underneath heaven. We could have at least been put on the 5th floor or something like that.

My door room stating visitors must check with nurse first and that that lab cannot draw my labs because I have a venous access device (sounds important, huh?)

Seriously, this is one of the pictures hanging in the entrance way to the unit. MORBID!

2 cherubs deciding which will be the next one to join them... again, morbid sense of humor

This kept my sweet, uninfected, non-febrile kids off of my unit. I was able to go hang out in the family room with them though and go to the cafeteria. Fun times there! The best part was being wheeled around with Chloe on one knee and Brody on the other and watching them run around in an empty lobby. We seriously thought they were going to knock Mary Mother of Jesus statue down and then I knew I better not be going back up to the penthouse or I would not be coming back down (just kiddin)

This is my PICC line. It's a central venous access device that they give you when they can't get you with an IV. Mine was 37cm long and was threaded from my arm into my SVC 
(just above my heart atria) I just like it cause it's purple and I have never seen any PICC that wasn't blue.

This button kept me from hurting most days. It's the morphine pump button.
My friends came up one night and all signed my board. Since it's right in front of my bed, it's cheered me up a lot to look at it

And of course right above every board in every room there is a Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. Someone asked me if I actually brought that from home and hung it up...uh, no. Not that I don't love Jesus and am eternally grateful for what he gave up for me, but not a choice of art for me.

And of course what is a hospital room without a bedside commode?!? Every man's dream I think...to not have to miss anything on TV while they do their business. HA!












Thursday, December 2, 2010

Good Grief Charlie Brown

I just read last night's post and can totally tell that I wrote that while I was on the morphine drip. There were only half written words, grammatical errors, etc... that just aren't normally me.

So here is a short version of what has occurred today. My pain pump and IV Fluids had to be stopped because my IV came out this morning. After about an hour of not having the pain medicine, my back started hurting again, it hurt to walk, my chest was hurting and my left arm...everything just like it was Sunday night. So after about 2 hours, I finally got what is called a PICC line in. One thing that excites me is that it is PURPLE! As a nurse I only have ever seen blue ones so I feel really special getting a purple one. The next thing is that they did it right in my room which  made me a bit nervous (ok, a lot nervous) because they are wire guided ports that go through your arm veins all the way through your big veins in your upper body and down into the Superior Vena Cava...right at that heart atria.

My nurse is in here now to restart the pain meds so I am off.  Surgery is still set between 4-6 and David will update Facebook after surgery.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Turn For the Worse..Or the Better - just depends

I am so glad that I have a passion for writing so that I can update everyone at the same time on everything that is going on with the Blevins family and our struggles through breast cancer. I cannot imagine having to send out 18 million texts, then emails etc...I would go crazy and that, we all know, is NOT where I need to be right now. No, the Morphine pump they have me on is doing it's job in that department.

So, back to the point. Sunday morning, I woke up feeling crappy. Didn't want to shower, didn't want to go to church, didn't want to do anything...except lay back down on the couch under 4 blankets. I was freezing. However, I decided that I would go on to church and partake of the communion which is a very holy sacrament to me and my family. After church, we came home, David took over and I crawled right back into my jammers, under my 4 blankets and called my surgeon. He asked about a fever to which I replied "no" but had not taken yet and then said he wanted to see me Monday morning in his office which is in St Thomas Hospital. After we hung up, I grabbed the thermometer and wouldn't you know...100.8. And that's not good in a still immunocompromised patient. The chemo I finished last year, will continue to affect my blood counts for about 3-5 years

Anyways, I went to on to Dr Oslin's Monday morning with my friend Lynne in tow. She thought of everything...including packing  back in case I had to stay, and arranging overnight care for the the babies in case... David HAD to go to his last visit to his UT Martin store so it was all okay really. Everything was working out. Got to see the doctor and he pretty much immediately knew he was going to admit me, give me IV fluids, IV antibiotics, and try to figure out where the infection was coming from.

So, since Monday I have been hooked up to IVS, drains, Morphine pumps, etc... The light of my life was today when Chloe and Brody were allowed to come visit in the family play room. We went down there and spent some time talking and explaining what was going to app

So the plan...tomorrow, at 4:00 pm, I will be headed down to the OR for my 8th and final surgery. The tissue expanders have become dangerous as they are infected and the infection is spreading to other parts of my body...such as my shoulder blade.

Thankfully, we just finished the sermon serioes on Job and I really am not questioning "why" because I know WHO!" And I can rest eas