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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I'm working on an update to post so it'll be done in the next couple of days! I've just been exhausted since my grandma passed away 11 days ago. I didn't realize how much goes info planning a funeral. For about a week, we didn't get home until very late after being gone all day to plan the funeral, so we are all very tired! Some nights we didn't go to bed until 3am! But we are doing okay, just missing my grandma a lot. It still doesn't seem real to me most of the time. But I'm so thankful that she's safe in Heaven with God, not hurting. I'll post a real update as soon as I can, which should be in the next day or two! Hope you're having a great week so far!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My Grandma, Anita



"May 1, 1930 - Feb 15, 2013 Edmond Anita Jackson Hall passed away February 15, 2013. She was born in Madison, GA to S.E. and Lois Jackson on May 1, 1930. Anita attended Stetson University the fall of 1948 and then transferred to Harding College in Searcy, AR in the fall of 1949. She married Elmo Hall on August 10, 1951. She and Elmo became members of the Memorial Road Church of Christ in the spring of 1977 and have remained active members until her death. She is survived by her husband, Elmo Hall, of the home; two daughters: Janet Hall, of Edmond; and Teresa Wilguess and her husband John, of OKC; two grandchildren, Victoria and Landon Wilguess; brother, Harold Jackson and his wife Lois, of Sarasota, FL, and their three children. The family will be available to greet friends during visitation, Tuesday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. at Baggerley funeral home. Services will be 2 p.m. Wednesday, February 20, 2013, at Memorial Road Church of Christ, with interment to follow at Memorial Park Cemetery."

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/oklahoman/obituary.aspx?n=ANITA-HALL&pid=163165941#fbLoggedOut



Like the obituary says, the visitation with our family is tonight and the funeral service, followed by a graveside service is tomorrow morning. Thank you so much for all your prayers and words of encouragement during this difficult time. We find peace and comfort knowing that she is with God now! We also love hearing memories about her so if you have one, please share them with us! We love hearing them.

Friday, February 15, 2013

My grandma is in Heaven

My precious grandma (my mom's mom) went to be with Jesus in Heaven tonight. She is HOME. "She has fought the good fight, she has finished the race, she has kept the faith" 2 Timothy 4:7

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My Parent's 24th Anniversary!













Happy (late) 24th anniversary to the best parents in the world (Their anniversary was yesterday)! I don't know what I would do without them. They show us how to live for Christ every day and they've sacrificed so much the past 6 years that I've been sick-they never gave up when doctor after doctor couldn't figure out what was wrong, they took me across the country, looking for answers and did what they had to do, even when that meant going to a clinic that doesn't take insurance and is all the way across the country. That also meant that my family has had to spent a total of 6 months (spread out over 4 years) apart while my mom and I were in Nevada while I was getting treatment at the clinic where my Lyme doctor is. My dad and brother had to stay home so my dad could work and my brother could go to school, while they tried to maintain some normalcy since life has to go on, which I know wasn't easy when they know I'm sick enough to need treatment across the country and they can't be there to know how I'm doing. But my parents do what they have to do, and they've sacrificed so much. They've sat in the hospital with me too many times to count, feeling so helpless but never leaving my side, and comforting me as only parents can do, telling me it will be okay, even when they aren't sure if it will be. They've become close to being a nurse and doctor as they have to make big medical decisions on their own since my doctor is across the country and no one here knows about Lyme. My mom gives me shots, accesses my port for me to do IVs at home, and stays up way too late researching possible treatments all over the world, hoping for a cure for this disease that has invaded our family. This disease has changed our lives, brought many tears and fears, but the most important thing that my parents have done in our lives is made sure that we know that God hasn't changed and that we will praise Him always, even in this storm, because this life is temporary. Illness and trials like we are experiencing can break a family and cause them to be bitter toward each other and God, but because of my parents faithfulness to God and them teaching my brother and I, by example, how to live for God, these trials have only brought us closer together. We've learned that God does give you more than you can handle, BUT, He doesn't give you more than you can handle WITH Him. Because of that, we've learned to completely rely on God because He never changes, and we've learned to cry out to Him. My parents are incredible and I'm so thankful to God for them! "If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever" -2 Corinthians 4:7-12, 16-18 (MSG)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

My Grandma

(I apologize if there are typos or anything in this post, I've been sick with a virus and this is a very long post so forgive me if something doesn't make sense)

I'm so blessed to have the best grandparents on both sides of my family. My dad's parents live in our neighborhood and my mom's parents live just 10 minutes away! I am so thankful for each of them. I know a lot of you from church know my mom's parents, Elmo and Anita, so I wanted to share with you what's been going on with them. I've been updating Facebook, but haven't had a chance to update here yet. Things have been crazy and I've just been exhausted. But I know many of you around the world know them and care about them so I wanted to update you.

This was taken last Christmas (2011)

My grandma, Anita, has had Rheumatoid Arthritis for over 30 or 40 years, probably longer. She's always struggled with her health but hasn't ever let that stop her. She's done so many treatments for her arthritis, including experimental ones, over the years. Apparently all the medicines that she's taken for the RA over the years have really affected her kidneys now.

This past fall, she started getting sicker, and they thought she might have cancer. They did tests that were inconclusive, so for several months they've been in the process of repeating those tests. So over the past 4 to 5 months, she's gotten sicker and weaker and they weren't sure why.

I got done with school last semester on December 13th, so Christmas break officially started the next day, Friday, December 14th. My brother, who is in 8th grade, still had a week of school left though.

So that Friday, December 14th, my mom went to my grandparent's house and found out that my grandma couldn't get up from the couch and was in a lot of pain in her back. My grandpa was home with her thankfully when this happened, so they were trying to figure out what to do. My grandma just wasn't doing well and they knew something was wrong. They decided they needed to call an ambulance and get her to the hospital. My mom called 911 and then called my grandma's rheumatologist while they waited for the ambulance. He told them to tell the ambulance to go to the orthopedic hospital because they all thought it might have to do with her arthritis or hip replacements or something else like that.

The fire department arrived first and then the ambulance came. The ambulance was at their house for about an hour before they left for the hospital because they were trying to get her pain under control and it didn't seem like a "real" emergency at the time. They got her pain more under control and took her to the orthopedic hospital.

When I arrived at the orthopedic hospital shortly after the ambulance got there, I could tell a difference in my grandma. She didn't seem normal. She was really confused and just not herself. They had started running blood work and did X-rays. The X-rays were totally normal, which ruled out problems with her hips or knees, but the blood work was not normal. It showed that her liver enzymes were off the charts high and her kidney function was terrible. They realized this was a medical emergency, and that she needed to be transferred to a regular hospital and not stay at the orthopedic hospital since everything orthopedic related was fine. So they got her transferred to a normal hospital that night, which is the hospital I go to the most and where all the ER doctors know me. They transferred her late that Friday night, so my dad took my brother and I home since all they would do was get her situated in her room since it was so late.

The next day, Saturday, when we arrived at the hospital my grandma was almost unrecognizable. She was so sick. She didn't really respond much and was so out of it. At that point, we didn't know why her liver enzymes were so high and why her kidney function was worse, but we knew something was really wrong. We stayed with her all day that Saturday as they continued to run tests. I'm not sure when they told us, but either that day or the next day, Sunday, they found out that she has severe congestive heart failure. That was causing the very high liver enzymes and the kidney problems. As I said earlier, she was getting sicker over the past several months and one of the problems were that her kidneys were not functioning very much. Throughout the past few months her kidneys have been functioning around 25% and when she was taken to the hospital they were functioning around 20% so they had dropped from her "normal", which still isn't normal at all.

So that Saturday, December 15th, and the next day, Sunday, things were not looking good. Friends and family were coming in and out and many were coming to say goodbye. But once they found the congestive heart failure, they started her on some medicines and she started to improve. I say that it was the medicines that made her better, but I also believe that it was mostly God answering the prayers of so many for her. But, even though she was improving a little after starting the heart medicines, her mental status was still not her normal. They attributed this to the high liver enzymes and/or the heart failure. She was so weak and lost the ability to do everywhere. She couldn't even swallow to eat or drink, but within a few days she was able to eat pureed food with help from someone.

She remained in the hospital for a week. She was there from late Friday night, to the next Friday. She continued to improve as they treated the heart failure, but was never her normal self. It was very hard to see her struggle to do everything. The week she was in the hospital, we took a small Christmas tree to her room to try and it make it more like home.



The hospital discharged her after a week because they had done all they could do for her, however, there was no way that she could go home. She was on oxygen, couldn't really feed herself, and couldn't sit up or move on her own. My family had to choose a skilled nursing center for her to go to once she left the hospital. They told us the normal stay at the skilled nursing center was 10-21 days with the hope that she would go home after that. At that time her prognosis was not really known, but they were hopeful that she would be able to return home like normal.

The nursing center has been incredible! They have long-term care, assisted living, independent living, a memory unit (Alzheimer's unit), hospice care, skilled nursing, a beauty salon, and probably other things I'm leaving out. Their food is pretty decent, the nurses are incredible, and it's like its own city. God couldn't have led us to a better place in this situation.

My grandma's first full day at the skilled nursing center was Saturday, December 22nd. Christmas was coming up very soon. We took the Christmas tree that we had in her hospital room to her new room in the nursing center.

This year was the first time that my grandma hasn't been the main chef for Christmas. She usually makes the main parts of the meal. So this year, my parents, brother, and I tried to copy her exact recipes. I have to say we did pretty good, but there's nothing better than your grandma's cooking and I know we all missed having her cook. We cooked the food at our house and then took it all up to the skilled nursing center for Christmas. We were able to get my grandma in a wheelchair and the nurses got us a room with a big table for us to eat in. My grandma got to eat some of the food, but she was still on a pureed diet because she was having to relearn how to eat. But she got to sit at the table and eat homemade food! We were all so thankful to be together, although it was bittersweet. We didn't stay at the table long because my grandma got really tired but we were so thankful for the time we did have. We went back to her room and opened a couple presents. I got to sit in the bed with her and help her open her presents. She was really tired by then so we were only up there for a couple hours. That was hard since Christmas is usually an all day event, but we knew to cherish the time we did have with all of our family.

Holding her hand one night

After Christmas, my grandma started therapy. There was speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. So for about 4 to 5 weeks she had been doing those therapies. At the beginning, they said she would probably be there for 10-21 days, but she has now been there for about 48 days. Up until 2 weeks ago, we thought that she would be able to go home.

Two weeks ago, the doctors and nurses said they weren't seeing much progress with my grandma. She can eat by herself but doesn't eat much, she's able to have a conversation most of the time, but they said she is very sick.

The day they told us that they weren't seeing much improvement, they realized they needed to take my grandma to the hospital immediately. Since they found the heart failure, she has been on diuretics to help her body to flush out the fluids since her heart can't pump them out itself.

So about two weeks ago on Tuesday, January 22nd, she had increased swelling and they determined that the diuretics weren't working. She was on the highest dose that they could give her at the skilled nursing center and she really needed to see a doctor. They took her by ambulance and we were all called to the hospital because things weren't looking good. They increased the diuretics once more, but she is now on the highest dose. They sent her back to the skilled nursing center after about six hours in the ER since there was nothing else they could do for her. 

There were many, many hard meetings with doctors and social workers after she was brought back from the hospital two weeks ago. The doctors said that they thought the best option is to keep her comfortable and for her to just be surrounded by family and friends for the time that she has left here on earth, but of course my grandma and grandpa had the final say. 

The doctors can't do anything more for her heart or kidneys except continue the diuretics, her normal medications, and oxygen that she's been on since she was taken to the hospital the first time. It's actually not just the heart failure that's the only problem. If it was "just" that, she might be able to get better, but her kidney's are functioning at 25% or less and are also not making a hormone that stimulates the bone marrow to produce red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout your body (at least that's how I understood it, I could be wrong). So her blood marrow is also not functioning as it should, and those 3 things are bad enough on their own, and terrible when put together. The left side of her heart is the side that isn't functioning properly, and that's the worst part of the heart not to be functioning. So, like I said, she is on the maximum dose of lasix, which is used to treat water retention caused by the heart failure since the heart can't pump fluids out like it should, but then the lasix almost dehydrates her, which makes her kidney worse. It's all a vicious cycle. She is still so swollen and it's only getting worse as her heart gets worse, which causes her kidneys to be worse. The reason that all of this happened so fast is because there has been so many problems going on for so long and no one has put them together. She had been seeing a kidney specialist and hematologist/oncologist for months because of the problems with her kidneys and bone marrow. So no one ever put those things together or caught the severe heart failure until it was so bad that we didn't think she would make it through the day after she was taken to the hospital on Dec.14th for the first time. It is very possible that she also had a mini stroke that day since she had to re-learn how to even just swallow and eat and drink after that day.  

After a week of praying and talking with doctors, social workers, my grandma, and our family, my grandma was put on hospice last weekend. She has stopped the therapy that she was doing and will only do what she feels like doing. We tried to figure out how to get her home on hospice, but unfortunately, she just needs too much care to be able to go home. But, she really likes it where she is, and we do too. The nurses have become like family and my grandma just loves them so much. 

The next few weeks and months will be very difficult for our family. My brother's 15th birthday was last Saturday and we are so thankful that she was here to celebrate with us. She remembered his birthday and even got annoyed with my grandpa because he didn't get a card as early as she wanted him to! That made me happy to see that she remembered and even got on to my grandpa about it! She still has her fighting spirit! She's already asked me what I want for my birthday which is in a couple weeks and that also made me so happy that she remembered my birthday too! I don't need anything for my birthday, I just want her here to celebrate with us. 

My grandma was officially put on hospice last Saturday (I think..), Feb.2nd, my brother's birthday. Last year on Feb.2nd, we were told that my best friend, Rebecca, would be going to Heaven soon because the cancer was everywhere. I can't believe it has been a year since we got that news. And I really can't believe that exactly a year later, on Feb. 2nd, my grandma was put on hospice. What a year it has been. 

Please pray for peace and comfort for my grandma. Please pray for our family, especially my grandpa. He and my grandma have been married for over 60 years and he hasn't ever left her side during this. We are thankful for every day that we have together as a family.

We know God is carrying us every step of the way, just as He always does. Times like these remind us of God's hope and promises. Times like these remind us that this world is not our home, Heaven is. Some just get there before us.


This song is perfect for what we're all feeling right now. It's called Worn by Tenth Avenue North. God is the only one who can give us peace and rest during this time.  Thank you for always praying.  

"I'm Tired I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world

And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

I know I need to lift my eyes up
But I'm too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

My prayers are wearing thin
Yeah, I’m worn
Even before the day begins
Yeah, I’m worn
I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn
So, heaven come and flood my eyes

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause all that’s dead inside will be reborn

Though I’m worn
Yeah I’m worn"