Friday, July 29, 2011

I am grateful for 30 days of clean toilets.

Every time my kids ask for a pet, I remind them that they hold all the power.  All they have to do to earn a pet is clean one toilet per day for 30 days (excluding Sundays).  I actually thought my idea was quite clever, thinking that no child would actually complete this requirement.

I was wrong!!!   Two of my kids earned the prize. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I am grateful for my CCSVI diagnosis.

The anatomy of normal jugular veins.


The anatomy of abnormal jugular veins.
The picture directly above shows dye being pumped through the veins of my neck.  The arrows are pointing at my jugular veins.  If you look closely at the red arrows, you will notice that there is "banding" or lines on these veins, this is the sign of back flowing blood.  Blood is trying to empty from my head to my heart through my jugulars, but because of the narrowing of my jugulars (notice the blue arrows), the blood has to backtrack to smaller supporting veins.  Dr. Hewett in California said this is "Classic CCSVI" (Chronic Cerebral Spinal Venous Insufficiency).

So on July 20, 2011 in Costa Mesa, California, Dr. Arata performed a balloon angioplasty of both my jugular veins to hopefully break the membranous valves in the narrowed areas which will encourage better blood flow.  During surgery, he was able to see that I also had an abnormal valve in my Azygos vein (a vein running up the right side of the thoracic vertebral column) and so he was able to angioplasty and break the valve in that vein as well.  YAHOO!  That only made sense to me because that is exactly where this entire journey began; pain and tingling in the center of my back. 

I am hopeful and happy!  I am grateful for the technology that even allows this knowledge and treatment to be possible.  I am grateful that there are doctors who are willing to perform such a cutting edge procedure.  I am grateful for the encouragement of friends and family.  I am grateful for the tender promptings of the Holy Ghost.

The only worry I have is that my veins will restenose (which is a real possibility).  But as I was reading my scriptures this morning my fears were replaced by faith with this one simple verse found in Mosiah:

But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, 
and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his 
own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage."

That is all the reassurance I need.

UPDATE ****  Dec 7, 2011

 I am grateful for improvements.  I am sitting here feeling immense gratitude.  I have had major improvements in my health that leave me often weeping with joy.  The CCSVI procedure has increased my energy, my memory, my ability to handle heat, and reduced my paresthesia (pins and needles sensations).  

The pins and needles sensations along my spine are almost gone.  Most of the time I only feel
pressure, which I hope will leave in the future.

I increasingly remember dates, phone number, highway exit numbers, birthdays and doctor names 
that were plaguing me.  My thoughts were becoming like loose sand 
falling between my fingers.

When I get out of the shower, I feel great.  No fatigue after.

I can make a meal and not have my back completely 
go into spasms and knots within 5 minutes.

I can do multiple activities in the day.  I used to only be able to do 
one thing and then I became extremely exhausted.


I wake up in the morning and actually feel like I slept.

I rejoice!!!

I still have chronic muscles spasms and nerve firings in my legs, but they are less intense and usually go away after laying flat on my back for several minutes.  I still get mini headaches daily, and sore muscles (especially in my back), and tingling in my hands and feet when I exercise and when I wake up in the morning ... but everything is at a manageable  level now, so I feel grateful and blessed!  

I do have to mention that all my symptoms worsen for a special time of the month, so the mental roller coaster still continues a little but I am learning to expect certain retrogressions and not let them upset me.  There is no doubt that I have had amazing improvements. I am not cured, but I am healthier, faster, stronger, sharper, and ultimately I am a better mom and wife! And I look forward to more improvements in the future. If something happens to me down the road, oh well, I will enjoy the ride while it lasts!!!
UPDATE **** Feb 28, 2012
 I am grateful for my CCSVI free body that allows me to be crazy busy.  Sometimes I have flashbacks of what my body was like when I was the music director for our elementary school play last year.  I remember clearly how I could hardly make it through a practice because my legs and back ached, my feet and back would tingle and numb, my muscles would spasm and vibrate, my head wouldn't process simple information, and my entire body would feel like I was walking in boots made out of cement.  Now ... I go to my play practices and I have oodles of energy to spare.  At the end of the day I fall into bed tired, but a good tired.  And I wake up refreshed!  Amazing!!!  Thank you Heavenly Father for leading me to relief!  Thank you for giving me my endurance back!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I am grateful for my little girl's comment.

My oldest boy came home from school with a large poster displaying beautiful art he had created. He placed it onto our kitchen table, and then left the room. My littlest boy crept up to the kitchen table and proceeded to tear the poster apart. I ran to save the poster, at the same time shouting at my oldest that he better get into the kitchen and save his project before it was ruined. Let's just say that my tone was neither kind nor patient. My little girl heard me, actually I'm surprised the neighbors didn't hear me, and she skipped into the room and in the most gentle tone said, "When I am a mom, I will never talk like that." I was humbled. Her words reminded me of Sister Beck's recent talk where she said, "Mothers can feel help from the Spirit even when tired, noisy children are clamoring for attention, but they can be distanced from the Spirit if they lose their temper with children." I have a lot to learn in this life.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I am grateful for our pillowcase monster named Mr. Gobbles.

On Sunday a couple of ladies shared how to achieve a clean house every night.  Are you ready for this miraculous revelation?!  So here it is.  You take a regular pillowcase and decorate it to look like a monster.  You give the children a time limit to tidy up their toys around the house, and then after the time is up, the pillowcase monster arrives to gobble up any left over toys.  In order for Mr. Gobbles to "regurgitate" the toys, the kids must do extra chores.

Hallelujah!  We have done it every night this week, and I can't tell you how good it feels to wake up to a tidy house.  It makes tackling dishes, dusting, washing walls, cleaning toilets or folding laundry not seem so insurmountable.  I love mothering tricks! 

Monday, July 25, 2011

I am grateful for my pay day.

The other day my three year old put his arm around my shoulders and tenderly declared, "You are my best friend."  I haven't ever heard him use those words before, so they particularly touched my heart.  He rightfully earned a smothering of kisses after that statement.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I am grateful for the opportunity to do my little girl's hair.

I only have one girl ... and five boys!  So I treasure every little girly thing we do in our home.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I am grateful for the promptings to read my "junk mail."

This Wednesday as I flipped through my mail and sorted the bills from the junk I had a prompting that I should actually read through a Shriner's hospital newsletter/donation pamphlet instead of throwing it away.  So I sat down and proceeded to read it's contents, and within moments I found myself inspired and humbled by Dan Caro's amazing story of tragedy, survival and triumph. (You can go to to learn more)

What impressed me the most was his attitude. 

He says:

"I don't look at anything as negative. 
It's fun and exciting to work through anything. 
I wouldn't trade a second of my life. 
I was designed to experience and share joy."

 I am grateful that the Lord reminds me often through his wonderful servants on earth that happiness comes within and that it is not at all dependant on our surroundings or condition.  Happiness is indeed a choice, and life is a gift. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

I am grateful for sleepless nights.

I haven't been sleeping well lately, which is a combination of a lot of things.  At first I viewed these restless twilight hours with frustration and even desperation, but now they have turned into the most beautiful quiet time I have to reflect on our Savior's great love and mercy.  I have been reading Jacob's teachings in 2 Nephi, and I can't get over how much our Savior loves us.  How He overcame physical and spiritual death by living a perfect life, by suffering in the garden of Gethsemane, and by allowing men to crucify Him ... all for us.  I am humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude for the sermons He gave, the love that He shared, the forgiveness that He bestowed, and the miracles that He performed and still performs to this day.  I am grateful for the Spirit that testifies to me, in the middle of the night, that our Savior is real and that His redeeming love is for all who come unto Him, and that "His hand is stretched out still."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I am grateful for my son's questions.

"What is the difference between a flail and a mace?"

"I don't know.  Ask your dad, he is into fantasy." 

 My son looked at me with disappointment and said,

"Mom, it's medieval, not fantasy."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I am grateful for Mindy Gledhill's beautiful music and voice.

Her music fills my soul, and my home, with such an overwhelming 
reverence for all of God's great mercies.      

Friday, July 1, 2011

I am grateful for summers in Cardston, Alberta Canada.

I was contemplating this question :  "While growing up, what did we do in our little town of Cardston during the summer?"  We didn't have activity camps or sports camps, water parks, zoos, amusement parks or large play centers (roller rinks, bounce houses etc.).  How did we survive?  This is how:

We walked!!!  
We walked to the creek (and waded in it for hours), we walked to the Red Rooster for Canadian slurpees (American slurpees don't even come close), we walked to Ken's for ice cream cones and penny candies, and we walked around the temple and the Cardston Fitness Trail.

We rode our bikes around town for hours.  Now that is what I call FREEDOM!

We golfed. Driving the golf cart was my favorite part.

We swam at the public pool.

We cruised around back alleyways on motorbikes.  The biggest THRILL indeed!

We spent hours with our cousins who came to visit from the big city. 

We ice blocked down Redford Park.

We watched a lot of VHS movies, played Nintendo and attended the local movie theater.

We drove to Waterton Park to hike, eat ice cream, canoe, fish and play in the lake. 

We painted our toenails and "puff painted" shirts.

We scavenged through our grandparents' amazing garden.  Raspberries, peas, carrots, and 
strawberries were my favorites.

We ran around our house spraying the water hoses.

We played kick-the-can, hide-and-seek, anti-i-over and sardines with the neighborhood kids.

We set up the tent in the backyard.

And we basically lazed around!


This is why I love going home to Cardston every summer, so my kids get a taste of the good life!