Category Archives: Our Travels

Cars, Kids and the Concert

I just wanted to follow up my previous posts with some updates. First of all, it turns out we were fully insured. Insurance deemed the car a total loss and paid us out. We were able to find a minivan at a reasonable price and are getting some repairs done Friday to make it last us a while. Felix continues to do amazing at physical therapy except for the last couple days, when he just wants to be held all the time. I’m sure a big part of that is the fact that he’s teething. He’s gotten one tooth and the second one isn’t far behind.But anyway, Felix can roll front to back and back to front now, and when he does the exercise when he’s on his tummy on his boppy, he’s getting strong enough to push himself off and over it. He’s also really been studying faces lately. I’m so proud of his progress.

Andy got his braces off today! He had them for 3.5-4 years, with a jaw surgery during that time. He said it feels weird and a little sore. But he’s happy.

Evan had court today to review his court ordered outpatient committal. The judge dismissed the case, saying Evan was no longer a threat to himself or others. But he’s gotten 2 criminal charges and has violated his probation (recently). I told him the ruling may seem like a good thing, but what it really means is that now when he decides to act a fool, he can’t hide behind mental health. He will just be treated like a criminal. He faces a judge about his second criminal charge soon.

Jarrod had a really good time at Riot Fest despite his shitty adventure on the way home. He got to see a couple bands in particular he was very excited to see: Guided By Voices and Ween. I’m glad he was able to go and enjoy himself, even if I was unable to join him. Hopefully I get so fortunate as to be able to go to a concert soon.

Left: Guided By Voices โ€” Right: Ween, photos by Jarrod

I finally saw a doctor about a few things I had been avoiding and/or putting off. Nothing too serious. I’m not going to go into any of that right now because Felix is starting to wake up from his mini nap and I don’t have time to type about it. I’ll update again soon.

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As If There Wasnโ€™t Enough Wrong

So, we’ve been down on our luck. Jarrod lost his job not long after Felix was born and had to find a new job. I had planned on staying home with Felix for a while after he was born, but about the time I thought I may wanna go back to work we were not only still dealing with colic, but other developmental concerns, as previous blogged about. We have had serious financial strain since I haven’t been able to work, and have been fund raising to get help paying for rent and bills. And now….

Jarrod was on his way back from Riot Fest in Chicago (tickets and expense money were gifts, not irresponsible spending). He was almost home last night, driving through very dense fog, and being unable to see well, he hit the guardrail-type cable fence along the side of the interstate. HE IS PERFECTLY UNINJURED, which is the important part. But the car’s driver’s side tires were shredded to the point of being non-existent. The car is totally irreparable.

So now we are incredibly broke AND without a car.

Yes, we have insurance. They are trying to work quickly for us, but they said it will probly be 4 days before we hear back from the insurance adjuster. It could be a couple weeks or so before we have any sort of payout to get a replacement. In the meanwhile, we need to find rides for Jarrod to go to work, for grocery / household needs, and most difficult of all, out of town appointments.

Can our luck turn around now? We need some good news. Some good fortune. Something to lift us up.

Meanwhile, I’ll be cuddling Jarrod a lot closer tonight, thankful he made it through that experience alive and unharmed.

Year By Year

I came across this Instagram photo the other day and it got me thinking about all the changes Iโ€™ve gone through in the last few years.

2016 (April): In the pic on the left I had just started on my journey to becoming healthier, and had already lost about 25 lbs. In this picture, we were in Florida (with my ex-husband) as a family on vacation. It was the first time the boys or I had experienced the ocean or even gone on a family vacation, ever. I thought my life was going well, even though my relationship was on the rocks. I figured weโ€™d work it out. I was working full-time, as was my husband. We were financially stable for the first time in over a decade. We were renting a house, and after we were done on this vacation we went home and bought a new vehicle. I had no idea what was in store for me in the future.

2017 (May): A year later, in the pic on the right, I had lost 60 lbs. and had a Panniculectomy (surgery to remove loose skin on my belly). Pictured here, Iโ€™m showing off my new, leaner body. My husband and I had split up and divorced. I had moved twice since the beach pic. At this time I was dating a life-long friends but he was incredibly verbally, mentally and emotionally abusive. I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt because of our history, and I wasnโ€™t thinking much about myself. I had been fired from my full-time job due to performance issues, which, looking back, probably had a lot to do with that abusive relationship. I wanted to be home a lot because not only was I worried about being cheated on, but I was worried about the safety of my children.

2018 (April): Jarrod and I had traveled to NC and I got a tubal ligation reversal. During that year, I started a new job delivering pizza at Pizza Hut, I kicked my abusive boyfriend to the curb for the sake of my kids, Jarrod and I found each other (at work) and fell head over heels for each other in a matter of days, we ran off to Colorado and got married, I got a panniculectomy revision and breast reduction, we merged our families into one home, and we decided to expand our family.

2019 (April): The final picture in this seriesโ€ฆ Jarrod and I and our new baby, Felix. In the course of the year, Jarrod had a vasectomy reversal, my middle teenage boy, Evan, had some serious mental health issues that needed to be addressed throughout the year, two of Jarrodโ€™s girls went to live with their mom, I fought a serious infection from my breast reduction resulting and 2 extra surgeries to clean out the infection and a lot of antibiotics for several months. I went through an entire pregnancy resulting in a healthy baby. Jarrod lost his job at Pizza Hut after Felix was born, and Iโ€™ve been staying home with Felix, which has caused us financial turmoil. But he has since found a couple new jobs and things are finally starting to look brighter.

So many changes year-by-year, it really makes me not take anything for granted. I never imagined back in 2016, that I would be where I am now in 2019. In fact, if anyone would have told me, I would have thought they were a fool. I am so very grateful for what I have now, who I have become, for my amazing best friend and husband, and for my growing family. Hereโ€™s to seeing where we are in another year.

2018 Recap

2018 started uneventfully – peacefully. The weather was very cold, Jarrod and I were both working regular schedules, our kids were just finishing up their winter break from school, and life was finally settling into a comfortable routine for our family. We had no idea what the year would hold for us, but Jarrod and I knew one thing: we were extremely happy to be together.

When our first tax time as a couple came along, we had some minor disagreements on how our tax refund would be used. He had his ideas, and I had mine. And since we had different ideas, it opened up new discussions about what we could do that would make us both happy. Compromise. And since it had been something we had brought up a couple times already, including on our way back from getting married in Colorado, we re-opened the discussion on having a baby together. Jarrod suggested that if this is something we would continue coming back to, we should just do it already and not waste any more time, considering our ages. We gave it some more thought and plenty more discussion, and decided rather than fantasize about it and regret missing our chance in a few years, we would go for it!

In March we took a small family vacation with all 6 kids to Pzazz, which is a family resort here in Iowa. The website promised a swimming area, arcade, good food, a spacious room for us all, and lots of fun overall. When we got there it seemed pretty cool, but as we stayed longer we realized it was aimed more toward a younger crowd. The biggest thing the kids got joy from was the arcade, but it was ridiculously expensive. And our hotel room opened into a giant ball pit, and our room a/c didn’t work. It was hot, stuffy, and very claustrophobic in my opinion. We ended up leaving early. Jarrod and I told ourselves we would plan something better next time we were able to do a family vacation.

During about that same time, I did some research as to which surgeons were the best for our reversal surgeries, and where they were located. I got medical records faxed, forms filled out, flights and hotels booked, and surgeries scheduled. In April, we flew to North Carolina to get my tubal ligation reversal by Dr. Monteith at A Personal Choice. In May, we drove to Oklahoma to get Jarrod’s vasectomy reversal by Dr. Wilson at The Reversal Clinic. Both experiences went very well!

Then the kicker – on May 30th, after complaining to my surgeon for a couple of months (breast reduction and tummy tuck Sept 1 2017) that I had a lump and pain in my right breast, he finally was able to give me a diagnosis. Mycobacterium Fortuitum. It would require months of multiple heavy antibiotics and surgeries to my breast to clean out affected tissue and bacteria. I was told I was not to get pregnant or the baby could be severely damaged by the treatment. He gave me a prescription for 2 heavy antibiotics and told me to start them once I got a negative pregnancy test for the month.

My period was due June 3rd, and Jarrod and I both believed it was incredibly unlikely that I would be pregnant already, considering we weren’t even totally healed from our surgeries yet. I took a pregnancy test on that day, May 30th. It was negative. So I started the less dangerous of the 2 antibiotics and waited the few days for the other one. On the morning of June 3rd I woke up, felt a little off… my breasts were more sort that normal and I still wasn’t bleeding. I didn’t really think much of it but figured since I already had a pregnancy test on hand, I’d take it just to get the treatment going. It was POSITIVE! I couldn’t believe my eyes. And just as fast as the excitement came, so did the dread. What was going to happen with my infection vs. my pregnancy?

So far, these are all things I’ve blogged about in this blog. And if you look back, so you can see so many more details than just a recap version. Let’s just say it was a very rough time for us. Our emotions were high and stress levels were even higher. Check out the 2 posts in June 2018 titled “Not The Boobies” part 1 and 2. I was extremely scared throughout the entire treatment… scared of hurting the baby, and I also felt like the infection would never go away. The follow up to those posts is: I had many different kinds of pills, and was on IV antibiotics for several weeks as well. I had 2 debriding surgeries. Treatment was stopped on November 6th and it seems as though the infection is gone. However, I’m still not 100% certain the infection is gone all the way because of the different little aches and pains from my breasts changing due to pregnancy. But so far, there have been no new lumps, no unusual pains or blotches of redness, no fevers, and my doctors and I do not feel too concerned.

Through all of the treatment of antibiotics and surgeries, I was referred to a NeoNatologist to make sure baby was growing properly and staying healthy. I started seeing her at 16 weeks along, and have seen her every 4-6 weeks since. She has done many ultrasounds including an echocardiogram and growth scans on the baby. She has also done the panorama blood test to check for things such as Down’s Syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. Every test and scan has come back perfect! I am currently 34 weeks along and this pregnancy has been as good as can possibly can be. No gestational diabetes, no crazy weight gain, no high blood pressure. Other than the more severe aches and pains that come with a “geriatric” pregnancy, baby and I couldn’t be better. Jarrod and I are VERY happy and excited for baby to come sometime in the next 6 weeks.

During the year we also celebrated everyone’s birthdays, we saw several concerts, went on plenty of movie and dinner date nights, and overall enjoyed our first full year of marriage. Our family found a groove all together and it feels quite natural nowadays.

In July, Evan, my 14 year old son, went to stay in a psychiatric home for a while to get help with some of his anger issues. He remains there, but visits home on weekends and holidays. It has not gotten any easier over the last 6 months to drop him off when he leaves from a visit. But it really is helping him, and I look forward to him coming home likely within the next couple of months. I’m glad I made the decision to do that for him and his future.

In September, Andy, my 16 year old son, had jaw surgery. It had been planned for about 3 years and it was finally time to get it done. The surgeon broke his bottom jaw on both sides and extended it out so it would be more even with his top jaw. I was there for him the whole time, staying with him in the hospital, pureeing his food for weeks at home, and making sure he had his medications and as much comfort as I could provide. It was officially fully healed mid-December. It was about a 3 month recovery. I was nervous about him getting hit in the face by the dog or something, but his recovery went very well, quite smoothly. And he’s all healed!

This year, both Thanksgiving and Christmas were hosted in our home. This ends up falling on us because we have the biggest house, and the most room for guests. For Thanksgiving, my mom came over and cooked for us all. And for Christmas, Jarrod’s mom and brother came over and cooked for us all. Both holidays went very well.

Our Christmas this year was a huge success. Jarrod and I made the accomplishment this year of purchasing all the gifts for our kids with absolutely no help from anyone at all. It may seem small to some, but it was huge for us! All the kids were pleased with what they got, and no one walked away disappointed. The gathering we had went so very well, too, with both Jarrod’s family and my family all under one roof and everyone got along so well. It filled our hearts with love and gratitude that we were able to have all we had this year.

And now we go into 2019 knowing that no matter what the obstacle or blessing, we are strong and have faith that we will come through it together even stronger.

The Vasectomy Reversal

Our trip to Oklahoma went very well. Jarrodโ€™s surgery went perfectly. The surgeon said upon microscopic view, his seminal fluid on the testicular end of his vas had plenty of sperm but they were all tail-less. However I consulted with Dr. Monteith and he said those are good findings, and everything should be back to normal within 3 months.

Our stay at Hayes House was okay. That place was more focused toward an older crowd than Jarrod or I, and it was in a very shitty neighborhood, but it was bug-free and clean. So thatโ€™s what mattered. And it had a GREAT bathtub which I enjoyed quite a lot!

Here’s Jarrod’s account (from a different blog):

I could razzle dazzle you with all manner of linguistic gymnastics to explain why I haven’t written a new blog in literally months, but it would just be an elaborate smokescreen, you see, to obscure the truth, which is that I was simply too lazy to write one. There has no been shortage of things to write about, as you will soon see, and in fact the sheer volume of goings-on around here is proving a little overwhelming; it’s been so long since I’ve written anything, and so much has transpired in the meantime, that I’m not altogether sure how to tackle this thing. I guess we’ll figure it out, or not, together.

I’m going to try to keep this particular post contained more or less to one subject, because otherwise it’s doomed to become an unwieldy, lumbering behemoth. Besides, there are many things, good and not so good, happening around here, all of which are worthy of their own post. Throwing too much into this one would just dilute their individual significance. I know better than to promise anything with regards to how frequently I’m going to write new posts, but I will say that I INTEND to write more often, and give all these things the attention they deserve. For now, I’m sure you will be delighted to know that the subject of this one will be the loose, dangly collection of objects I carry around with me wherever I go: my testicles.

You see, on the way back from Colorado (where we got married, you’ll remember), Shauna and I discussed at length what it would be like to have kids together. It really just amounted to a fun conversation to help pass the time during the long car ride; after all, we had both had the necessary procedures to prevent us from ever being able to have more kids. In order for us to have kids together, it would involve both of us having surgeries to reverse those procedures, which would involve a lot of money, travel, and recovery time…at the end of which we would have diminished odds of actually conceiving, anyway. We ended the conversation by basically saying sure, it would be awesome to have kids together, but we simply met each other too late in life for that to happen. The subject didn’t really come up again until this spring, when we were laying in bed and one or the other of us said something, and the other one said something back, and next thing you know we were on a plane to North Carolina to get Shauna’s tubes untied.

We scheduled my vasectomy reversal at a clinic (brilliantly named “The Reversal Clinic“) in the town of Muskogee, Oklahoma – a town immortalized in the classic song “Okie From Muskogee” by Merle Haggard. Because of my love for this song, I had high hopes that we were headed for a town where even squares can have a ball; where they still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse, and where white lightnin’s still the biggest thrill of all. Instead, we drove into this shithole town during one of the most vicious rainstorms I’ve seen in all my born days, and the only bad thing about that is that the whole town didn’t get washed out to sea in the process. There were so many things to dislike about the city of Muskogee, OK that for me to dig too deep into it would threaten to overtake this entire post, but suffice it to say that, you know, maybe don’t go there. Unless you want a cheap vasectomy reversal.

Anyway, my surgery was done by one Dr. Wilson, who was kind of a weird guy, and in fact the whole experience was kind of weird. Shauna and I walked into the clinic to find not a single soul to greet us, but instead a note saying someone would be with us soon. Eventually Dr. Wilson showed up, got me checked in, then retreated to the back to put on scrubs and get the procedure underway. This seemingly one-man operation did not immediately feel me with confidence that my nards were about to literally be in the hands of a qualified professional, but I decided to go with the flow because YOLO, I guess. I was awake for the procedure (a local anesthetic was used to numb the area) and Shauna was allowed to be in the room with me. From her vantage point she was able to see a lot of what was going on (I, thankfully, could not). Fortunately she has a healthy curiosity and interest in such things and the sight of my scrotum flayed open like a butterflied pork chop didn’t gross her out. The whole thing took about 90 minutes or so, and then we were on our way. Dr. Wilson, I salute you, wherever you may be.

We stopped at a pharmacy to pick up a couple prescriptions, and then went to the bed and breakfast where we were to spend the night. It was good, not great; by Muskogee standards it was probably the Ritz, but Shauna and I are from Newton, IA where perfection is demanded and bullshit of any kind is NEVER tolerated. The next morning we got on the road and headed home. The recommended healing time before attempting “relations” was two weeks, and I don’t mind telling you that we have stuck unyieldingly to that medical advice, being the responsible adults that we are and whatnot. We’re both realistic about our expectations…and to be sure, they are tempered a bit by other things going on, particularly health issues that Shauna is currently dealing with. Now that I’m more or less healed, I can absolutely say that I am incredibly happy that Shauna and I went through all of this. It was pretty overwhelming at times (the general tone of this post doesn’t really let you know some of the actual anguish we had to go through to make all of this happen, but as they say, we laugh so that we don’t cry). I’m glad it’s all done, I’m beyond excited to be able to have another kid (or kids), and there is no one on Earth who I’d rather go on this journey with. Shauna…you are amazing.

(Originally posted 6/3/18 on HesseLane.life)