2012: Year In Review


When I saw the idea to do a '2012: Year in Review' on Shane's blog, I was alllll about it.

In September, I did a Year In Review [from 9/2011-9/2012], which focused on my diagnosis and recovery. But in this review, I'd like to share some other things, too, because there is more to me [and my blog] than what was included in that list.

This year has been completely filled with ups, downs, ins, outs, everything sideways and in between! I started my blog in January, so what a perfect way to sum up, easily, the most 'eventful' year of my life.

In JANUARY, I was just learning about my diagnosis and had not yet come to face surgery or recovery. It's so hard for me to even believe that I wrote that just a year ago.
[Read all about it]: Short-term Crisis, Long-term Benefits

In FEBRUARY, I had my first corrective surgery. I was still getting the hang of blogging, but one of my favorite posts is the one I wrote following my first surgery.
[Read all about it]: Stuffed Animals and Squishy Bones

My favorite post from MARCH reminds me of how tough recovery was. And it is also a great reminder of HOW much I have to be thankful for.
[Read all about it]: Point A to Point Z

In APRIL, I learned to walk again on my 33rd birthday. That same week, my youngest son learned to walk for the first time.
[Read all about it]: The Final Countdown

In MAY, I received an unexpected hip replacement and became a bionic woman!
[Read all about it]: Blood Transfusions & Titanium Confusions

In JUNE, after a tornado hit our town, I had some thoughts about life, interrupted.
[Read all about it]: Life, Interrupted

In JULY, we traveled to Florida for my husband's annual Olympic-themed family reunion. It's always a highlight of my year!
[Read all about it]: Let The Games Begin!

In AUGUST, I decided to be bold and talk about how I, never once, walked alone.
[Read all about it]: Never Once

In SEPTEMBER, I got the 'middle school blues,' when my oldest son started the sixth grade.
[Read all about it]: The Middle School Blues

In OCTOBER, I completed a Color Run (5K), the happiest 5K on the planet!
[Read all about it]: The Color Run (5K)

In NOVEMBER, I finally felt like I had answers about my health.
[Read all about it]: The Perfect Storm

In DECEMBER, I revealed some personal [but important] details about my life, and I'm glad I did.
[Read all about it]: The Greatest Gifts Come in Small Packages

Oh, and a bonus for DECEMBER was that we not only survived the end of the world, but we also survived the Poopacolypse!
[Read all about it]: Poopacolypse 2012

Like I said ... it's been eventful ... but it's also been FUN and an important string of important life lessons.

Thanks for visiting my 2012 Year In Review!

Happy New Year to you & yours! May each year be better than the last!

The Greatest Gifts Come in Small Packages


I saw this photo floating around on Facebook of babies who are born at Middle Tennessee Medical Center, and placed into an oversized Christmas stocking.

It struck me deeply on many different levels.

As I looked at these babies, cuddled up innocently in the most appropriate of wraps, I first thought about what a gift from God my own children are. But then, I thought about myself.

That's because soon after my own birth in April of 1979, I was placed into the loving arms of my parents, who I have a hard time ever referring to as my "adoptive parents." That terminology does them no justice. They are, and will always be "my mom and dad."

I couldn't have asked for a greater pair of arms to be placed into. It was as if God knew exactly who I needed when I was just a young "stocking."

I could go on and on about the amazing experiences they've provided me with, or the loving home they built, or the amount of patience and kindness they have shown -- and still show -- through the years.

Growing up, I never thought much about the fact that I was adopted, because I had no reason to. It was a closed adoption, and beyond some comments made here and there by family members, it wasn't something that was discussed.

I realize that everyone is different, but I preferred it that way. I have always known that I was loved deeply. And that was all that mattered. I couldn't have imagined it any other way, and at the age of 33, I still can't.

In 2000, I gave birth to my oldest son. Increasingly, doctors were asking me about my family medical history. I felt obligated to learn more about my birth family, and I was, admittedly, a bit curious. I think that curiosity might have always been there, but I chose to ignore it for fear of what I might find out.

But it felt like the right time -- time to face the unknown.

I was amazed at how quickly most of the answers I wanted just fell into place. It wasn't very difficult for me to find my birth mother, because she was already trying to find me.

We talked by email, and I learned [half of] my family medical history, and we learned about each other. I was in my early 20s at the time, and we had plenty to catch up on. The best way I can describe those early conversations were as "wonderfully strange."

From those conversations, the thing that really stood out to me was when she told me that, while she was pregnant with me, she watched a video about abortions at a local women's facility. She ended up leaving, and she "never looked back."

She had a choice and she chose to give me life. It hit me in that moment, reading her words, how precious my life really was. She could have gone through with an abortion, but she didn't. She gave me life, and in turn, gave my parents a daughter, and allowed my three children a chance at their lives.

For that, I am eternally grateful to her.

So, when I look at the photo above, and I see those babies wrapped up as gifts, I truly understand what a gift they are.

I'm going to take some time tonight to pray for all of the gifts that have come into this world, and to pray for those who have come and gone. I'm going to pray for those who never received a chance at life, and for the mothers who are faced with their own choices. I'll also pray for the couples who want nothing more than to have a gift of their own.

I don't, for one split second, take my life for granted.

The greatest gifts really do come in small packages.

And on Christmas and every day in between, I will celebrate the birth of the greatest gift of all.

"And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger." -- Luke 2:9-12

Poopacolypse 2012


It was a morning like any other ... well, except that some believed it was the end of world as we know it.

My alarm went off, soon followed by the sounds of my two youngest children, Chip Chip and Boogies, who are currently sharing a room.

And then came, the first sign of the Poopacolypse.

"Mommy, Boogies stinks!" Chip Chip hollered.

A second sign soon followed.

Boogies started to cry out in a drastic manner, which was atypical since he usually wakes up in a sunny and somewhat perky mood.

I rose from the bed, unsure and a little scared about what I was going to find. It much worse than anything I could have imagined.

Poop everywhere.

On the rails of his crib, all over his blankets, socks, and even on Pengy, his Dreamlite penguin pillow, which can only be washed by hand.

His older sister was standing by his bed, handing him baby wipes out of the container [Bless her heart]. It was a horrific sight.

It wasn't like he was intentionally spreading the poop, but the poop was ... let's say - a different texture, and it spread easily on its own.

I snapped into HAZMAT mode.

I went and grabbed two large trash bags: One for the items that couldn't be recovered [or were just too gross to attempt to recover], and another for the 'hopefuls' -- the items that had potential to pull through this mess.

In route to the kitchen, I hollered out to Big Boy, who was assuming his usual position on the couch with the laptop, with something along the lines of: "Get your face out of the computer screen, we've been overcome by poop."

To which he replied, "What poop?" ... never really losing focus on the computer.

I picked up Boogies and went straight for the tub, holding him out in front of me by at least a foot. I placed him in the tub before I even had a chance to run the water.

Within seconds, Boogies was back to himself, playing gleefully in the bath, while splashing as much water out of it as his possibly could.

The whole time, Chip Chip was standing next to me reverting back and forth from "Ewwww" to "Mommy, there's more poop over here."

After washing my hands to the bone and serving breakfast, I re-entered the battle zone for some final touch-ups.

With his mattress bare and the washer full, I sat down, letting out a small sigh of relief, realizing that we had survived Poopacolypse 2012.

Oh yea ... and the 'End of the World,' too.

R.I.P Pengy -- He was a cute and cuddly Dreamlite, who filled the night walls with colorful stars and moons. He was a great companion for the four weeks that he lasted in our home. We choose not to remember him as he left, but rather, how he was when he entered our lives. He will be missed.

A Fresh Plate of Perspective


If there is one important thing that I have gained more of in the the past year -- it's perspective; a new way of looking at things; the ability to wipe my lens clean and see the world in a new view; a chance to appreciate things more; a lesson in not taking - even the smallest of things - for granted.

Perspective was what drove me to start this blog. I wasn't sure if I was going to share my blog, or if anyone would actually read it. But I knew that my perspective was changing, growing rather. And I wanted to document that ... for myself. I wanted to be able to call that perspective back up and remember what it felt like, and how very important it was to me when I discovered it.

I've been thinking about all of this, because today 20 young children and six adults lost their lives in an unthinkable shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

I once wrote specifically about how horrible I felt for complaining about how much energy it would take for me to get my children up, ready, and to school. After losing the ability to do those things because of my health and disabilities, I wanted those moments, and those abilities, back more than anything. I felt so guilty for ever complaining.

I wanted to fix them a fresh plate of breakfast. I wanted to change their diapers and help them on the potty. I wanted to help dress them and put their shoes on. I wanted to check their book bags before school and make sure they did their homework. I wanted to brush their hair and break up their quarrels. I wanted to drive them to their destination and listen to songs I didn't particularly like. I wanted to answer all of their questions. I wanted to drop them off, and hug and kiss them, and tell them to have a great day. I wanted them to know how much I love them.

Today, I think about the families and friends of those children and adults whose lives were taken. I think about how they might have had some of the same types of mornings ... mornings that could have been rushed, chaotic or unappreciated.

Possibly even this morning.

After today, their mornings will never be the same.

Their lives will never be the same.

I would not pretend to know their pain and sadness.

But I feel pain. And I feel sad.

We don't even know who the children and most of the adults are yet, but we know that their loss was unexpected, unfair and unjust. And we mourn for them.

People will debate gun laws and mental illness. The news outlets will exhaust our ears with sayings like, "Evil rolled through this town today." They will report bits and pieces of information, however inaccurate or unnecessary, until there is nothing left to report. They will interview endless amounts of people, including witnesses and members of the community, people who once knew or still know the victims or the killer, and professionals with 'expert opinions.' They will invade the privacy of people who have experienced probably the worst experience they will ever have to face.

We will come to learn more horrible details that we may wish we hadn't heard. We will learn about the lives of those who were killed. No one will ever truly understand it.

When I listen closely to people -- I hear and see perspective. I hear friends talking about hugging their children or loved ones tighter, and urging others not to take precious moments or people for granted.

The difficult part is carrying that perspective with you always. It's not easy for anyone to do, including myself. But it's important to hold on to a fresh, real perspective.

I will pray endlessly for those who lost someone that they will miss with each waking moment. I pray that their anger and sadness eventually lessons and that they are able to live with some peace and comfort.

I will also pray for a lasting perspective for us all ... one that will change the priorities and values of our society. I pray for an outpouring of kindness, respect and love that has no end. I pray for the strength to overcome the darkness.

Dear Jesus,

It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.

These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.

The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?

Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.

Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.

Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.

This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.


Your Children

-- Max Lucado

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." -- Matthew 5:4

[VIDEO]: Why You Shouldn't Use Mirena IUD


My oldest son is somewhat of a genius when it comes to video production. So I decided to take a few lessons from him to make a video and post my story on YouTube. I used information from two of my most popular Mirena-related posts: [Then & Now] and [The Perfect Storm].

I included some video clips and photos that I haven't previously shared from my journey and recovery.

I hope that someone finds this video helpful. I'm happy with it ... well, except for my voice -- I don't always sound that serious, promise.

Hope you enjoy it! If you do, share it with a woman [or a few women] you love. It could make a difference -- at least, that's what I'm hoping!

View on YouTube at: http://youtu.be/qKMrIM1Ku8c

Mirena Lawsuits Piling Up? What's Next?


In a past post [Mirena: Writings on the Wall], I mentioned that distribution of Norplant ended in 2002 after it resulted in more than 50,000 lawsuits, including 70 class actions.

Basically, there was nothing left to profit after lawsuits took a huge chunk of it.

Norplant I and II used the same active ingredient [Levonorgestrel/LNG]. With Norplant I, the LNG was released by way of six silicone rods that were implanted into the arm. The difference with Norplant II [Jadelle] is that it used two larger rods and it was introduced by a new manufacturer [Bayer].

But Norplant II was never promoted in the U.S.

That would be too ... obvious.

Instead of Norplant III, we get Mirena IUD. No one would ever suspect a thing. Especially since it's an IUD. That's got to be different, right? Certainly it won't affect as many women because it's going to be in the cervix instead of the arm. Profits would get a new kick start ... well, at least until the lawsuits catch up to it.

And when it comes to Mirena IUD, I believe that the lawsuits will catch up to it. Here's an article that provides some interesting information on the subject: [The Mirena IUD is Becoming More Popular - and the Lawsuits are Piling Up - http://www.pop.org/content/mirena-iud-becoming-more-popular-and-lawsuits-are-piling]

And this just released less than 24 hours ago: [DrugRisk Announces Bayer Attempt to Combine Growing Mirena Lawsuits - http://news.yahoo.com/drugrisk-announces-bayer-attempt-combine-growing-mirena-lawsuits-080845386.html]

In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to find my own story shared on a Mirena lawsuit page for a law firm: [http://www.pulaskilawfirm.com/blog/2012/11/08/missing-iuds-and-perforated-uteruses-mirena-iud/]

For the record, I have not pursued any legal action. I'm not exactly sure why.

Like Norplant, Mirena IUD is also made of silicone. And it also releases LNG.

Here is a very interesting read about the affects that Norplant had on women, and why citizens petitioned for it to be taken off the market: http://pop.org/content/norplant-background-a-pri-petition-888

It states that: "... Between February 1991 and December 1993 the FDA received 5,800 reports of adverse health events involving Norplant use through its Medwatch Reporting System. These events included pseudo tumor cerebri (39 cases), hospitalizations because of infections and difficulties with removal (24 cases), strokes (15 cases), and thrombocytopenia (6 cases - 1 death), among others."

The stories listed are horrifying.

Here are a few post-Norplant experiences from women in Bangladesh:
- "My limbs felt like collapsing, as if they were being wrenched apart. I couldn't work or eat even. I had to lie in bed for 3 months. I couldn't do anything ... "
- "Suddenly [after having Norplant inserted] my body became weak, quite suddenly. I couldn't get up, couldn't take care of my children, couldn't cook. I was bedridden"
- "In 6 months [I went to the clinic] about 12 times. Yes, about 12 times. I went to the clinic and pleaded I'm having so many problems. I'm confined to bed most of the time. Please remove it [Norplant ]' My health broke down completely. I was reduced to skin and bone."

The petition stated that Norplant had:
  • An unacceptably high risk/benefit ratio, especially as compared to other progesterone- related drug delivery systems
  • The potential for causing serious disability
  • An unacceptably wide range of post-usage adverse health conditions
  • An unknown long-term health risk
  • A possible link with increased HIV risk

An article I shared earlier about the increase in Mirena lawsuits concludes with this:
"Bayer is probably already settling lawsuits out of court as quickly and as quietly as possible, so as not to discourage other potential users of Mirena. When their legal costs begin to mount, their sales begin to drop, and their profit margins disappear, it will be time for their end game: this will involve taking the contraceptive off the market, at least in the U.S., and reaching a once-and-for-all settlement with the entire class of affected users.

I do not think Bayer is at all daunted by this prospect.

In fact, I believe that Bayer, like all contraceptive manufacturers, is already working on a successor contraceptive that will, in a couple of years, be released with great fanfare. This new “magic pill” will be heavily marketed directly to consumers. It will be sold by the millions. It will earn hundreds of millions for the company. It will not really be “new,” however. Rather, it will closely resemble an existing contraceptive drug or device, but it will have a new name, a slightly different chemical formula, and a slightly altered appearance to preserve the fiction that it is an entirely new product.

Like its predecessor, it will be foisted on a new generation of women until the side effects manifest themselves. At which point it, too, will be removed from the market in turn.

What a market plan."

In my last post I talked about a documentary called, "Food Matters." They discussed this exact phenomenon. It's not just with birth control -- it's bad drugs everywhere, being banned or being overcome by lawsuits, then returning with almost the same [and sometimes the exact same] product under a new name.

According to the Adverse Events Report on November 20th tracking FDA AERS reports through June 30, 2012, the agency has received more than 45,000 reports of complications among women using the Mirena IUD.

That's 39,200 MORE reports than Norplant received.

"Due to the number of claims expected, Bayer recently petitioned for cases to be consolidated to the New Jersey Superior Court in Middlesex County, where the company is headquartered." [SOURCE: http://news.yahoo.com/drugrisk-announces-bayer-attempt-combine-growing-mirena-lawsuits-080845386.html]

Oh, cool. Let's consolidate in one place close to them to make their lives easier. That might help them to stay in "business" a little longer.

Once they're run down by lawsuits, a manufacturer will probably just give it a new name.


"Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another." -- Ephesians 4:25

You Are What You Eat


I love fried food [mostly french fries]. I don't eat a lot of meat [only bacon and on occasion, chicken and burgers]. Imagine a five-year-old sitting at the dining room table saying, "Icky! I don't like veggies!" ... well, that's me [except I'm a grown adult].

I know, it sounds bad. And it is. But I also eat important things like nuts and fruit. I work spinach into frozen fruit smoothies that I make using my Ninja. I could munch on craisins, cashews, pecans, pistachios, champagne grapes, almonds and blueberries ALLLLL day long and be happy as a clam.

I take a daily multi-vitamin. I take another Vitamin D + Calcium pill. I also take an iron supplement.

Last week, I watched a documentary called, "Food Matters." I was hesitant to watch it. I was worried that it would be one of those films that made me feel absolutely horrible about myself. But it wasn't.

It didn't point fingers and tell me everything that I was doing wrong. It was just plain informative.

Actually, the title is a bit misleading because they spent a lot of time talking about how much of the world [and definitely the U.S.] lives in a culture driven by prescription drugs. There was some VERY interesting stuff about how drug companies pretty much own us. Drug companies and everyone they impact [Wallstreet, doctors, pretty much everyone] wants us to believe [or maybe they just don't know any better ... ok, that just was me trying to give them the benefit of the doubt] that we can't treat cancer with nutrition, that vitamins can be bad for us, and that we have to use drugs and surgery to treat most things.

The number of deaths related to prescription drugs and surgery are nothing short of astounding. In the film, they talked about clinical trials and detox -- things that have become important to me since my health quickly declined after the insertion [and removal] of Mirena IUD.

They did talk about 'Super Foods.' And maybe I'm behind on things, but I did not know that foods lose almost all of their nutrients when they are cooked.

With many foods mentioned in the film, I actually thought, "Hey - I can eat that."

One major Super Food is Cacao. And no, you don't really get the benefits of it from a chocolate bar or hot cocoa, because once heated, the 'good stuff' goes bye-bye.

Check out this description of cacao:
Raw Cacao - For this nut we could easily dedicate a whole page, if not a book. A word of warning before we start however, most cocoa powder and commercial chocolate is processed via the "Dutch method" meaning it is subjected to scorching temperatures of up to 150°C with the additional aid of solvents, thus destroying most of the nutrients and antioxidants. Be sure to attain certified organic raw cacao in a powder, nib or whole bean form as the temperature will have never been allowed to exceed 40°C thus allowing all the heat-sensitive vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to remain intact. Raw cacao beans contain possibly the world's most concentrated source of antioxidants found in any food. They also extremely high in magnesium which has been found to be the most common deficient major mineral even following a balanced diet. For those concerned with not getting enough iron it should be pleasing to know that one small 28 gram serving of raw cacao beans gives 314% of the recommended daily allowance of iron. And if that is not enough raw cacao beans have an antioxidant (ORAC) score of 95,500. To put that into perspective, that is 14 times more flavonoids (antioxidants) than red wine and 21 times more than green tea.
[SOURCE: http://www.foodmatters.tv/Health_Resources/Super_Fruits_and_Nuts]

Sounds pretty amazing, right? So, naturally, I ordered a pound of cacao nibs from Natural Zing.

I've been wanting to post about this documentary since I watched it, but I'm just getting around to it. And over at Kate Krull's blog, she's asked us to share a favorite holiday recipe. So, I'm going to share a fun recipe using cacao nibs. My nibs haven't arrived yet, but seriously ... how can you go wrong with mint and chocolate flavors?
Especially when it's filled with antioxidants!

Chocolate Mint Freezy
Blend 3 Tablespoons (1 oz) cacao nibs with 1 1/2 cup water, 3 tablespoons agave nectar, 1/2 cup almonds or pecans, 2 sprigs fresh mint or 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract for about one minute in a high powered blender. Now add 3 cups of ice and blend into a slurry. Share with three friends or just a very special friend.

I'm so excited to make it and then report back.

I'm on the verge of blabbing at this point in my post, but it's interesting enough to mention that in my last post [Don't Stop Livin'], which I published before viewing this film, I mentioned using some holistic approaches for the pain I've felt in my hands. My doctor actually asked me to 'keep it a secret' when he suggested those approaches. I found that a little ironic at the time, but now I understand that most doctors are actually expected to NOT suggest holistic or nutritional alternatives to prescription medicine or medical procedures. Even the sound of it can seem a bit kooky -- "holistic," "alternative medicine." Even I have been known to frown on those ideas, because they just sounded weird. But I would urge you to open your mind to those terms. I know I will. [As I am preparing my paraffin wax dip bath for my hands - Mhmm Hmmm].

I could go on and on about the documentary, "Food Matters," but I really think you should watch it for yourself. They were running a free viewing offer last week so it was making the rounds online -- that's how I heard about it from a friend. If you are subscribed to Netflix, it's available here.

Take a looksy and then, let me know what you thought of it.

"Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything." -- Genesis 9:3


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