Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Hello friends, I'm BACK!

So, if you know me I am sure you know what has happened over the last 2 years in my life. I feel like I have quite a bit of explaining to do, and then on the other hand I feel like I don't really owe much of an explanation.....I'm undecisive what can I say. Well, after going back and forth I have decided I will give a short explanation of my "laziness, bloglessness, blog-negligence".
 It all started back on October 22nd 2012, I woke up and could not shake my dizziness/lightheadedness and it got bad enough I asked Derek to take me into Instacare (YEAH that's right Instacare) we weren't at Instacare for even 15 minutes before they directed us to go to the Emergency Room to actually rule out a stroke. Well, while at the ER my heartrate never seemed to want to go under 127 beats per minute. So I was admitted to Intensive Care Unit for the next 3 days. Over those 3 days my heart was quite a stinker and didn't behave very well. So, I was discharged still not feeling great, but didn't really get any answers in ICU other than I had heart problems, and  was ordered to wear a 30 day Holter Monitor and referred to a Cardiologist. Yes, I said 30 day monitor. So the 30 days came and went. At the end of the 30 days I was informed by my Cardiologist that my resting heart rate was on average 110-130 beats a minute, and I had quite a case of Tachycardia on a daily basis. You could tell when I would have been "up and going" because my heart rate would go anywhere between 150's-180's while I would have just been WALKING....haha possibly just a few feet! 
I was exhausted daily, and got out of breath quickly. But, I kept going each day. So, I wore the monitor the whole month of November. Then I met with my Cariologist (not your general Cardiologist, he was an Electrophysiologist) the beginning of December. He prescribed me some pills that are supposed to lower the heart rate. We tried 2 different medications over the course of the next 4 months, NONE of which seemed to work. SO, in March 2014 we did our first procedure a Cardiac Radiofrequency Ablation.
 During that procedure he ablated 7 spots in my Right Atrium. It was decided that the procedure was NOT successful. So, my Doctor put me on another rate control medication, this one he wanted to have me on for 3-4 months we started with a decent dose, but he upped it to the maximum dose possible as time went on and there was no positive result.....well, even on the maximum dosage that did NOT work and it was a HORRIBLE, TERRIBLE medication the side effects were a night mare and the nurses at work were surprised that I was even functioning on the dose the Doctor had me one haha So I kept going day to day. 

On July 4th 2013, I actually had an episode where I hadn't felt well for most of the day, I had been more "tachy" (heart wise, not TACKY) than usual and as Derek and I were walking over to his parents for a cook out I collasped and was completely unresponsive for about 80 minutes. (So I was told haha I don't remember anything) an ambulance came and I was rushed to the hospital.
In August we did our second procedure another Radiofrequency Ablation, this time he ablated 5 spots in my Right Atrium. At my post op appointment I was informed that he had declared that procedure UNSUCCESSFUL. I will admit, I was starting to wonder if my heart was ever going to be "fixed". And in the meantime was reminded by my Doctor that everyday my heart continued to go as fast as it was going was a day closer to complete Heart Failure, or that I was a "ticking time bomb" and could have a heart attack..... I couldn't believe it, here I was a 30 year old wife and Mother of 2 amazing boys literally on the verge of heart failure, 2 failed cardiac prodecures within 4 months of each other. 
Well, "determined" to get to the bottom of this, my Cardiologist recommended another procedure. This would be our 3rd prodedure within 6 months, desperate and willing to do ANYTHING at that point Derek and I decided to go through with this 3rd procedure. We were told it was riskier than the other 2 had been.....It was another Ablation, but a CRYO-Ablation (they freeze spots)instead of a Radiofrequency where they burn spots. He had given us 2 options of where to get this type of procedure done, #1-Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota or #2 Primary Childrens. Well,since I didn't really want to go door to door selling Little Caesars pizza kits AND one of the Doctors that would be performing the procedure at PCMC had "pioneered" the Cryo procedure we opted to stay close to home and went to Primarys. At this point, as much as I wanted to be optimistic, I was anything but....I couldn't help but think WHY will this one work? I have already had 2 failed procedures. The day before the procedure a good friend shared THIS with me: 
It sure made me think............I didn't sleep much the night before.

Well, we did our 3rd procedure October 7th 2013. It was the longest procedure by far (the first 2 procedure were 3-4.5 hours). Rather intense I guess, I was IN the procedure on the bed for 8 hours.  They ablated I believe 5-6 spots in that procedure. They said everything had appeared to have gone well, other than they had "knicked" my phrenic nerve.  So, I stayed overnight and headed home only to follow up with my Cardiologist 4 weeks later. After that procedure I was READY for good news, ready to hear him use a word I had yet heard at a Post Op visit....SUCCESS/SUCCESSFUL. 

Well, a dear friend took me to that appointment, at the appointment, I won't lie I went into it the most optimistic I had been. During the appointment we were informed that "it appears the last procedure was UNsuccessful" and my cardiologist apologized for the damage that occurred to my phrenic nerve. I told him it was ,"okay they only knicked it" to which he replied, "NO, they didn't just knick it, they damaged a very large portion of it and you are lucky you weren't on a ventilator afterwards, or I am lucky I don't have to think about each breath I take!". As I sat there listening to him describe the possible effects of the phrenic nerve damage I went numb and sat there I could see his  mouth move but no sound was coming out.....My dear friend asked him what our next options/steps were, which he pretty had no response other than he had NO more ideas! I had NO idea how to respond to that news, once again UNSUCCESSFUL, and the potential effects of the Phrenic Nerve damage that I felt the doctors weren't HONEST about. It was alot to take in. I remember just standing up and leaving the office, we walked down the hall to a vacant waiting area where I sat down and I cried, not just cried I wept for atleast an hour. As my friend just sat there and watched me....I couldn't speak I could only cry. I had no more optimism, hope, there was no more light at the end of the tunnel. I honestly just broke down in that waiting area......... 

One thing I do remember about that visit is, as we walked out of the office, my friend stood in front of me placed her hands on my shoulders and said, "Jen, LOOK at me (which I reluctantly did, may have rolled my eyes in the process) THAT man is NOT the one that is going to fix your heart! You need to just forget him right now! There IS a doctor out there and we WILL find them!"

I will be honest the next few days just seemed to come and go, I was SO completely numb I just didn't WANT to do anything. I felt as if my tank was on EMPTY and there was NO gas station in site. With the rude reminder that each day I WAS definitely getting closer to heart failure, I could feel it, and heck I could even see it, I had gained 30 pounds within 5 months, lots of fluid retention. I wasn't sure I was going to "beat this". I wasn't sleeping, I wasn't eating, I wasn't doing much. One night while I couldn't sleep I thought of a phrase, something that would maybe help keep me going. It was :LIVE life 1 beat at a time, I then got on the computer at like 3am customized some wristbands and ordered them. LIVE life 1 beat at a time......on the other side I put 3 words I thought of quite a bit....FAITH-HOPE-STRENGTH. My wristbands arrived 2 weeks later and it has been a daily reminder to me ever since. I ordered some for my boys, family & friends and was rather excited to hand them out to people.

Well, at the beginning of November my entire ward did a fast for me.....because that's just how amazing they are. During that fast, I had another friend who lives distantly do her own fast on my behalf. (I didn't know) She contacted me and told me during her fast, she had the name of a Cardiologist come to mind quite a few times.....she informed me of the name. I contacted his office and got into him within 2 weeks, which HONESTLY is unheard of especially with this doctor! Derek was rather optimistic and hopeful going into this appointment, myself I went into this appointment with NO expectations to be honest. WHY get my hopes up again only to have them destroyed/ruined. All I can say is as we sat there talking to this Doctor, as much as I tried to keep my feelings "neutral" I couldn't help but feel that HOPE that had left me SO abruptly back in October, the hope I hadn't had for months! Dr. B said that he had an idea of what was causing the problem, and  he recommended another procedure, and still "desperate" yet very COMFORTABLE with this guy in charge Derek and I told him we'd do it! He had scheduled it for January. I had 1 month I needed to keep going and hang in there! But to be honest it was a month that I wasn't sure I had left in me. I was very blessed though to have such amazing family and friends. As Derek and I left the office, we felt REFRESHED, and I excitedly contacted family and friends to notify them of how the visit went and to inform them of the next procedure. I had started a count down with some of them! This was going to be GOOD. 
I was ready to put my GAME FACE ON! As a friend, wrote in a card that had this picture on front:

Well, each day it seemed was becoming harder to function, breathe etc.....I was actually admitted to the hospital for 3 days due to breathing issues the beginning of December. I was really starting to wonder HOW I was going to make to my next procedure that was still a month away. 
All I can say is the power of PRAYER is real my friends. Our Heavenly Father does listen to us, and answers us NOT always in our timing but HIS. I KNOW this to be true, because I received a phone call on a Monday December 9th informing me that there had been a cancellation that morning, of a procedure later that week and they were wondering if I would be able/willing to have my procedure that had been scheduled for January 6th, THAT coming Thursday December 12th! It actually wasn't my Doctor that had the opening but the HEAD of Cardiology department at this amazing hospital. So, I of course told them NO, that wouldn't work for me. JUST KIDDING! haha I actually started crying and had no words, when the nurse asked if I was still there I told her YES, YES we will be there! (I am sure that was the weirdest response she's ever received regarding that question but oh well!) 
So Derek and I went down to IMC December 12th. 
We were rejuvenated, hopeful, optimistic as we went into this procedure this one was called a Sinus Node Modification. And yes I said "WE". 4th time was going to be the charm right? It would be out 4th procedure in 8 months and 3rd procedure in 3.5 months. That, was about a 4 hour procedure, and I could tell how the procedure went when I woke up because Derek did something he hadn't done after any of the previous 3 procedures.....he SMILED at me! The Doctor felt everything went pretty well for the most part. He went in and did so much inside my heart that it would take about 3 months to see the full results and be able to tell if the procedure worked! Another 3 months?!?!? But guess what I felt like I could DO that, I could make it til then.
So, time passed and I had my good and my bad days. With heart failure legitimately on my mind more and more each day, I reached a point I never thought I'd reached all I can say is I literally hit rock bottom that February. 
I was beyond exhausted physically (I'd walk 1 block and it'd take me 3-5 minutes to catch my breath), mentally, emotionally, just in EVERY way. I didn't know such a low, hopeless, dark place existed. But I somehow made it through, THANKS to some incredible people in my life! One of who shared this with me during that hard time.
I would be lying if I said my Faith, Endurance, and Patience had NOT been tested haha
One thing I DID learn while in my darkest hours is this, it is TRUE, you may know about their battles, but you may not know how HARD or BAD it is, so be NICE!

Well, I somehow by the grace of our Father Heaven kept going and made it to my "post op" appt in April. As Derek and I sat with Dr. B he explained to us that it appears the procedure in December had done something. SOMETHING.......that is a word we had not heard yet. He then continued and said that he wanted to do 1 more procedure, that he was sure he knew where the problem lied. Derek and I said LET'S DO IT! I had 1 month, 1 more month to wait but there was something different about this waiting period......I felt that I had it IN me to make it to this procedure, I was looking forward to it. Well, 2 weeks before the procedure I ended up in the ER and while there my heart went into a Junctional rhythm, something that hadn't happened before. It had dropped to 15, then 5 beats a minute. It was something new, and it wasn't good. Not sure WHAT exactly had happened because somehow the rhythm strips had gotten lost, and it was not something you could backtrack on the computer and print off. So we really don't know WHAT happened or WHY except my heart rate dropped dangerously low and my rhythm was "off" for at least 5 minutes. NOT what I wanted to hear going into this next procedure, but oddly enough after that ER visit, I was still optimistic and looking forward to the procedure even more! Months ago I KNOW that, that would have been a HUGE set back and who knows how I would have handled that. But this time I handled it like a BIG girl. I could have stayed down.......but I didn't!
My Cardiologists office called in regards to my ER visit and we tried to put the pieces of the puzzle together but couldn't we had no explanation of what had happened that night in the ER, and I wasn't sure we would EVER know. 
Well, I MADE it, I made it to my 5th and hopefully FINAL procedure! May 19th 2014 is a day I will remember forever! Dr. B came in and informed Derek and I that he had been thinking about everything, my history, what happened 2 weeks before in the ER (though he was not exactly sure what occurred) and he informed us that there was a 75% chance I would wake up with a Pacemaker. 
Derek and I consented and told him we trusted him with whatever he felt needed to be done. So I went into the OR and didn't look back! This was the most invasive, intense procedure out of all of them we had done. Dr. B went into the L side of my heart, then into the R side. From the right side he then went Epicardial (outside of the heart) to the entry of my Sinus Node, well my friends WHAT Dr. B thought it could have been from the very start, WAS the problem. And I want you to know that Heavenly Father IS in the very details of our lives! WHY you may ask or HOW do I know? Well, remember what I said about what happened 2 weeks prior in the ER? My heart had gone into a Junctional Rhythm but that was all we knew, due to the rhythm strips being lost.....DURING this procedure Dr. B had paced my heart to about 200 beats a minute when it suddenly, went into a.......JUNCTIONAL RHYTHM and DROPPED to about 80 beats a minute. And it continued to drop, to the point where they had to "Bring me back.."At THAT very MOMENT, Dr. B said that, that is when he KNEW a pacemaker WAS the answer, the FINAL fix! 
So I woke up from procedure and THIS is what I saw

They say girls "dig" scars, well THIS my friends is a scar I will definitely dig the rest of my life! What can I say it was a THUMBS up post op visit!
 Friends, looking back NOW I wouldn't change a thing! (except for maybe the Phrenic Nerve damage) haha There are things I learned like: it is okay to humble yourself and ask for and accept help from others, a testimony is a POWERFUL thing I was lifted and strengthened by many of those who shared theirs verbally or just through the way they live their life daily! I used the strength of theirs when mine wasn't strong. The power of prayer & the Priesthood is REAL. No act of KINDNESS however small is ever wasted! Faith in God includes faith in HIS timing, and he IS always there, I am sure there are times where he had to drag me.....poor guy!

I'd like to think I grew as a person, I became stronger, more empathetic, understanding, I gained such a new fresh perspective on life. I experienced so many TENDER MERCIES that I wouldn't have, had the first, second, third, fourth procedures worked and been successful! I truly believe you really DON'T meet people by chance, they are meant to cross your path for a reason! There are people that I either became closer to, or that came into my life that I don't know how they would have otherwise. They have blessed my life in more ways than they will ever know! They were and are my earthly angels. Thank you will never be enough but please know I AM grateful! And friends, if you don't get ANYTHING else out of this post, take advice from a wristband......
LIVE LIFE 1 BEAT AT A TIME (paced or not haha) and have FAITH-HOPE-STRENGTH

I'd like to think that there is a reason I have been given this "New lease on life".

A good friend shared a song with me, and looking back the song describes my "heart journey" PERFECTLY, it is a song by Hilary Weeks "BEAUTIFUL HEARTBREAK" listen to it sometime, it is amazing! It truly was a BEAUTIFUL HEARTBREAK!

Those of you that know me know that I LOVE quotes, THIS is probably one of my favorites that was shared with me through this cardiac marathon. When I first read it I may have thought "whatever" but looking back I believe EVERY word of it. And really.....who would not agree with Elder Holland. This quote kept me going more days than I can remember! DON'T  you quit! KEEP walking, KEEP trying! There IS help and happiness ahead!
Well, in a nutshell, THERE is why I didn't blog for nearly 2 years! 

To play CATCH UP or to not.....THAT is the question

To my blog followers,
I have been debating whether or not I wanted to go back and play catch up for the last 2 years, OR if I should just start from the CURRENT day and blog from there and NEVER get that far behind again haha Well, looking back I can honestly say that the last 2 years were some of the worst days of my life, BUT they were also some of the best days! And when it all comes down to it, a huge reason I kept going even when I didn't want to or feel like I could is.........MY BOYS! They truly are my everything. And though there were plenty hard days/times over the past 2 years there were more GOOD times and I don't want to forget those. So I will be playing CATCH UP. It may not be my "normal" blog style for each post BUT once I get caught up you will get "Jen style blogging". Who knows maybe you will get it in my catch up posts. Guess you'll have to read to find out! So bear with me! THANKS

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Here are a few games before the game started the mascots for both teams had a photo shoot

"WOW that's the biggest potato EVER!!!"-Lil H

Boise fan or not you GOTTA LOVE the SMURF turf or atleast respect it!

Dad and Lil H making their way up, it was a tad bit chilly had to get pre game food to warm them up!

Uncle Jeff warming up with the QB's (#17)

What's the national anthem without a GIGANTIC FLAG and tribute to our military...and a fly over

And THERE'S that AWESOME poster H made he held it up EVERY break in the action.

(Think of the Utah State fight song as you see this pic, the band was playing as they took the field)