chronic illnessfamily

5 Reasons Why Last Week Sucked

Last week most definitely won the award for worst week ever which is why it has been a little quiet over here. From dealing with the challenges of chronic illness and doctors to receiving shocking news, it was awful from start to finish. If they added the phrase “week from hell” into the dictionary, they could totally use this week as an example.

These are 5 reasons why last week sucked:

1. ER nurses who couldn’t hit a vein to save their lives.

After arriving at the ER last Sunday, I knew the first thing they would do would be to start an IV which for me is the worst part of any visit, procedure, or surgery. Two trainees came in and my anxiety tripled in an instant. I have horrible veins. Absolutely horrible. Even on a good day and knowing that I was likely dehydrated was going to make it even harder. Thankfully after checking around and not finding anything, the trainees passed the needle to their supervisor as they didn’t want to stick me unnecessarily. Their supervisor did it instead. After multiple sticks in digging in my elbows and upper arms, he passed the needle to the supposed “department best” in IVs. She decides to go for my neck. After what felt like an eternity of being on my head, sticking, and digging (in other words, absolute TORTURE), she secured a vein just long enough to draw blood work before blowing it. Of course they didn’t realize it was blown until they were flushing it and it felt like a million volts of electricity was being injected in my neck. Because I was sobbing uncontrollably and my heart rate was through the roof, they decided to hold off on trying to secure another IV until they got back the lab work and x-rays and gave me medication via a shot. This experience was just as traumatic as the whole NG tube nightmare after my obstruction surgery. I have had nightmares about being back on that table and the thought of needing an IV for upcoming procedures make me want to throw up.


2. Pooping in a jar.

Sorry to be gross but this blog is all about transparency right? In trying to determine the cause of my abdominal pain, cramping, and bleeding, providing stool samples was a part of the testing process. Instead of having to drive an hour each way to deliver samples after going home, after the suggestion from my doctor, we decided to hang out in the area for awhile in hopes I could go before going home. I’m all for trying to find as much alone time with my husband as I can but this was definitely not what I had in mind. It wasn’t exactly a romantic afternoon out. We did some shopping and went to lunch before heading back to the hospital. The whole process was gross and embarrassing. Nothing like having to carry in a sack of crap and having to hand it to someone behind the desk. God bless gastroenterologists and the nurses who have to discuss and handle poop all day. It must take a very special calling to pursue that area of study but I am thankful that they do. They discovered I have an intestinal infection but also scheduled me for a colonoscopy and EGD on February 11th to cover all the bases and make sure there wasn’t anything else going on, especially with my family history of colon cancer.

3. Receiving a referral for surgery #7.

This one is both good and bad. The possibility of surgery #7 sucks. The possibility for relief is great. My third doctors appointment of the week was with my gynecologist/endometriosis doctor. We had briefly discussed the idea of needing another surgery for endometriosis at my last appointment but because the pelvic pain has gotten so bad and is now constant, my doctor knew it was time to make a referral. She had done all of my endometriosis surgeries but one (when I went to the CEC in Atlanta) but she wanted to send me to Charlotte to meet with a doctor who specializes in minimally invasive laparoscopy/robotic surgery. Because of my history and the locations of my problem areas, she thought that robotic surgery may be a great option since they are able to get in much smaller areas and do more precise excision than she can, even with an open surgery. Being able to magnify and have a clearer image of what is going on is also a plus. I was really nervous about the idea of having surgery performed by someone besides her since I have been seeing her now for over ten years and she is amazing but when I started doing research on the doctor she is sending me to, I am very relieved and even excited for the possibility of finding relief. Now I am just waiting on the call with my appointment date and time for a consultation.

4. Finding out a former professor is suspected of killing his wife.

During my very first semester of seminary, I had an adjunct professor for a children’s ministry class (it was the only class he ever taught there). I thoroughly enjoyed the class and greatly respected the professor. We had even discussed the possibility of doing an internship at the church where he was the minister of education. Its not often that you find someone, especially a male, that takes children’s ministry seriously and not as a stepping stone to becoming a “real pastor” so I really admired the work that he had done throughout his ministry. It was definitely one of my favorite classes of my seminary experience.

Friday night (while crying on the phone with the doctor on-call at my GI office which is a story in itself), I happened to be browsing and came across an article about a pastor accused of killing his wife. When I opened the article, I knew the name and picture looked very familiar but as soon as I started reading the bio information I knew. My jaw hit the floor. I just could not process how someone that I had greatly respected could do be accused of something like that. I know a lot of things can happen in the 10 years since that class but it was just so hard to stomach. Of course not all the details are out so there are still a lot of unknowns about the case but the evidence doesn’t look good. Definitely not what I expected to read when I opened up the People website.

5. Losing my grandfather.

My grandfather has been very sick for quite sometime and has been living in a nursing home for over a year. He was a colon cancer survivor but the effects of a lifetime of smoking had taken its toll on his lungs and his body. Last year he was in the hospital for almost four months because of recurring lung infections and issues but he had actually been doing a lot better. My mom saw him on Thursday before she and my dad came down here to NC from VA to spend the weekend with me and Abby while John was out of town for WinterSpree. He was doing well but Saturday night my mom got the call that he had passed. It was very sudden and he went quickly as he had been chatting up the nurses just 15 minutes prior. The Lord decided it was time for him to be with Jesus and called him home. Abby being the compassionate soul she is carried around the tissue box handing out tissues after we got the call. It was hard to explain to her what was going on. Grandpa was buried yesterday and one of the hardest parts of the whole situation was being too sick to travel. Between my “normal” issues, the increased abdominal pain and cramping, and dealing with the infection, I just could not make the five hour trip. It was the worst way to end a completely crappy week.

2014 has not been off to a great start and I am praying that it turns around! Time to refocus on the positive! I just realized that I haven’t shared our trip to Disney in December so I am definitely excited to share about our magical experience. A little Disney goes a long way!

Hopefully everyone else had an amazing week! What were the highlights of your week?


2014 blogging goals

I’m well aware that it is already two weeks into 2014 and it may seem I’m a little late getting on the ball setting my blogging goals for 2014. Let’s just say it hasn’t been as smooth as start to the year as I would have like. After taking some time to mull over how my 2013 blogging goals worked out and deciding on which word I wanted to describe my year, I have finally figured them out!

Be Fierce.

Its my word for the year and I most definitely want to bring it through my blogging and online life as well. I’m ready to regain some of the confidence and spunk I feel like I’ve lost over the last several years as my health has taken such a sharp decline but I am ready to jump back in and find myself so to speak. Maybe its more like rediscovering myself. I am a firm believer that regardless of the situation you may find yourself in, you can make the choice to allow it to let yourself become bitter or you can allow it to make yourself better and find a way to honor God in spite of it. I believe that this blog is an avenue of the ministry that God has called me to and I need to be a fierce follower of His guidance and allow that passion to be a fire in every aspect of my life.

Get more organized.

I have been a part of the blogging community for almost seven years now (wow!) and I completely understand the need to be organized and how much it can benefit not only your sanity but your readers and community in a big way. The Content Brew* course over at Momcomm was amazing but I feel like I’ve lost the momentum so I am definitely planning on working back through it and building up an editorial calendar. I want to develop a posting schedule that is realistic without being rigid. There are way too many benefits of being an organized blogger to not make it a priority. (*affiliate link but I stand 100% by the awesomeness of this course and would share regardless!)

Write outside of the house at least one day a week.

Not only is it a great goal for me to get out of the house in general one day a week, I know the change of scenery will do great things for keeping the creative juices going! We have a great little coffee shop down the street so I think that will make a great spot to cozy up with a cup of their amazing white hot chocolate and get to writing.

Finally try my hand at vlogging.

I’m sure it seems that vlogging is old news but I have yet to give it a try. I’m not sure if its because I’m pretty shy on top of being introverted or hating the way my voice sounds on recording but I have just not been able to let go of my insecurities. There are a ton of awesome things to do with videos and even take it a step further with Google+ Hangouts (can we say awesome spoonie sister chats?) so I definitely think as a part of embracing being fierce this year, it is time to make the leap!

Complete at least one blog-related pin a week and update at least on old post a week.

Raise your hand if you have the habit of pinning some pretty awesome things yet never actually getting around to doing it. ::Raising both hands:: I am AWFUL about this. I have some pretty great blogging Pinterest boards (if I say so myself) but I need to make being intentional about putting those pretty great resources to use. I have my blogging boards broken down into categories (such as organization and time management, monetization, and traffic/SEO) so by rotating through the categories on a weekly basis, I know I can fix some of the kinks I currently have going on and take A New Kind of Normal to the next level.

Also, with almost seven years of content in the archives, there are some pretty good posts that could use some dusting off by adding some photos (as I know most of my early posts are naked) and updating key words and titles for better SEO. Not only does this make content more Pin-worthy (which is a huge source of traffic), but I like sharing old posts that not only remind me where I’ve been but to share about the journey one takes when living with chronic illness.

Complete the blog redesign and make sure pages are up to date.

Let me clarify. The amazing April from Creative Girl Media is working her design magic to makeover the look here at A New Kind of Normal but I have a thing or two (or ten) to do to make sure that every part of the site is clean and sparkling! Maybe even some glitter thrown here and there! I learned from Melissa in Blog Design for Dummies that a great design is more than visual aspects of a site. It is also about user-friendly navigation, having a consistent style guide so content is visually appealing, and building pages to support and enrich your site.

Read at least 4 books on blogging.

There are some amazing resources out there and its about time I tapped into them. I have read some fabulous books so far (check out my recommended reading list) and I have even more on my must read list. I am determined to get through Mom Blog SEO by Kelby Carr that was on my goal list last year. There are definitely others on my pinterest boards I am ready to get my hands on as well!

Community, community, community.

Creating community and building relationships is at the heart of why I blog. It is why I work hard at Blogging for Endometriosis Awareness and the Secret Support Sisters project. I want more conversations and connecting. I feel like there has been a shift in the blogging world to more of a business approach (which is not an entirely bad thing as even I want to look into options of monetizing) but I think as a result the community aspects have taken a backseat. Maybe I’m the only one who has noticed it or maybe I am crazy. I don’t know but I do know that I want community to be a priority.


Have you created any blogging goals for 2014? Any goals for 2014 in general?

P.S. – Here are some great posts on achieving some bloggy awesomeness in 2014:

Go Big! 52 Blogging “To Dos” in 2014

7 New Year’s Resolutions for Bloggers

10 Things To Let Go Of On Your Blog in 2014

bloggingjust for fun

Photo Shoot Fun – My First Ever Blog Head Shots

As a part of my 2013 goals, I really wanted to get some blog head shots done both to update my social media profiles and materials as well as have some fun and get a boost of confidence! I had not had any fun pictures of my new hair color to infuse a little of my personality back into my online persona. It took me until December to cross it off my to-do list but I got it done with the help of my friend Ryanne at R@ck Photography! It just so happened that I ended up starting a blog redesign around the same time so these will really come in handy!

These are some of my favorite solo shots:

Blogger Head Shots

On our way out the door, I decided to bring my Charlie along for the shoot! As I have mentioned, she is a huge part of my heart and the best therapy I could ever ask for! She turned 13 this year and is starting to have issues with arthritis and her vision so I really meant a lot to have some meaningful shots taken together!

World's Best Dog

How do you think they turned out? Have you ever done a solo photo shoot either for your blog or just for fun?