Scars

I’m riding in the car on the way to St. Louis and feeling a little introspective.

Sitting in the back seat, I just stretched my legs across the car and got to looking at and thinking about scars.

I have a scar on my leg from a curling iron burn when I was about 7 or 8 years old. The curling iron had been on the floor on and I crawled over it to unplug it and it got me.

I’ve got several scars around the left knee from 2 surgeries as well. A knee meniscus repair and later a ACL reconstruction (replacement.) I think about those two surgeries and how they changed my life in various ways. The first one basically ended my sports career. That’s something I greatly regret. I miss softball and volleyball and often think how I would do things differently if I could get that time back. I often think about getting into coaching just so I could get back into it in some form.

On the bottom of my right foot across my big toe is a scar from stepping on a beer bottle when I was probably around 10 years old. That one resulted in 15 stitches. To this day that scar can be tender if I hit it in just the wrong way. Always reminding of its presence.

It transports me back to my previous life living in Ellijay GA. The mere fact that I stepped on a beer bottle tells you a lot to begin with. I was always running around barefoot and there were always plenty of bottles around.

There’s parts of my life in Ellijay that will always be special to me and I miss some of those times as well. It was the last time we as siblings all lived together. I cant think of Ellijay and not remember Zac. The mischievous brother who was often pulling pranks on me with his partner in crime, David. I had a worm put on my sandwich, frogs put in my bed when I was asleep and countless other incidents. We were wild and free – a bunch of kids in the northern mountains of Ellijay.

But those memories are accompanied with the bad ones too. The ones where I’m barracading us kids in a bedroom while a domestic fight of some sort was going on. Or the memories of grown men taking advantage of young girls and no one around who cares to stop it. The drugs. Alcohol. Me stealing cigarettes at the age of 9 and 10 and wandering off into the woods to smoke them because some how I found solace in it. It brought peace to my nerves in a constantly changing and unstable environment. Then there’s the memories of one of the “caregiving” adults having me hide drugs in my underwear. …or how about being offered drugs at the age of 10.

Yea. Scars. Some physical, some emotional. I often feel like I’ve lived two completely different lives. I credit all of that to God though. Isn’t that the beauty of it all?

I waited patiently for the Lord ; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.

Psalm 40:1-3

I’ve got quite an impressive scar going across my lower abdomen. It’s at least 10 inches or longer. If you didn’t know any better you would think it was a c-section scar. That’s one scar I wish I knew more about. I woke up one day, ate breakfast…and started having stomach pain. It hurt so bad. I ended up in the bathroom vomiting. I went through the entire day in tremendous pain and sick and no adults around to care. Then when they came home I was accused of faking it to get out of cleaning the kitchen. It wasn’t until I uncontrollably vomited in the bedroom floor that they decided to take me to the urgent care. It was nighttime at this point. And even then the trip to urgent care was postponed long enough to run my step brother home. Home which was at the top of a mountain and a very bouncy gravel road. Did not bode well for my pain and illness. Things get fuzzy for me at this point. I was sent from urgent care to another hospital that was far away. Had emergency surgery and woke up with no appendix or right ovary. I was young (before I started my cycles). My understanding was always that they went in thinking it was appendicitis and found my right ovary Was detached from the fallopian tube. Hence the scar all across my abdomen.

I’ve never been someone super absorbed with my body and looks. That’s probably not been always to my benefit but when you spend the first part of your life just trying to survive it… you tend to have a different perspective. So now when I look at my scars, I’m reminded of what I’ve survived. I’m reminded how blessed I am. That then turns to gratitude. Thankful for so many things.

I am blessed. I’m a survivor but I’ve never been alone and when I look back on the dark times, I see more and more the protection I really had. I’ve risen above. I’ll continue to rise. I don’t doubt that I’ll accrue more scars along the way. And that’s okay.

I recently discovered a song that have some very relatable lyrics in them. This song is called Home by Machine Gun Kelly. I don’t agree with every lyric in this song but the two main verses have some highlights that really resonate with me.

Look, I didn’t power through the struggleJust to let a little trouble, knock me out of my position
And interrupt the vision
After everything I witnessed, after all of these decisions
All these miles, feets, inches
They can’t add up to the distance
That I have been through, just to get toA place where even if there’s no closure, I’m still safe.

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Negative.

Negative.

We all go through ups and downs in this life. The thrill of the first ballgame, the sting of the first strikeout. The innocence of the first crush, the despair of the first heartache. The immense feeling of power when you first take the driver’s seat in a car, the absolute powerlessness you feel the first time blue lights flash in your rearview mirror.

The journey towards fatherhood has been much the same – albeit, a bit more drawn out than I’m used to. It has come with its own peaks and valleys; since storytelling is sort of my thing, I guess one really shouldn’t shy away from where their heart is…

Chapter One: Marriage!

So the first step is obvious – I found the girl of my dreams, she actually said yes (and wasn’t even under duress), and we got the fancy clothes to run down to the church and make it official!

Amy and I had obviously had the briefest of discussions on children; and we both knew that there might be some challenges due to health. But this wasn’t the time to buy all the books, study all the parenting strategies, and start picking out nursery colors. We jumped right into the idea of family without a ton of regard for prevention, because if it happened, it happened, we wanted it to, and we weren’t shy about it. We loved each other, we loved starting our lives together, and we weren’t afraid of any new challenges, because together, we could conquer the world.

Chapter Two: Okay, Marriage, For Real

After our initial “whatever happens” phase, we started to look a little more carefully at our situation. Both of us were in college, trying to work through degree programs while being full time at the hospital, looking at our new bills and obligations, and how expensive our apartment was without it having any sort of space for an additional family member.

Hello, family planning aisle! (Which is ironic in and of itself, because most of the items in the immediate “family planning” section in/near the pharmacy at whatever store you are in is really more about “planning not to family” than it really is about actually planning one…but I digress.)

Chapter Three: Okay, Family, For Real!

Of course, the time comes when caution goes to the wind, because we’ve always wanted kids. And, well, everyone else has them. Her friends, my friends…everyone at work, at church. Many of them are on round two…or three.

We’re excited about it! And…starting to feel a little behind. And a little…worried.

Chapter Four: Why Not Us

Then there’s the first rock bottom – as we see those around us with multiple children, some of them doing things right, but many unable to support kiddo number one, but announcing their fourth.

You reach a point where the smiles, the congratulations – they’re a little empty. You don’t mean for them to be; you don’t have any desire to downplay or degrade someone else’s little miracle. It’s awesome. Every beautiful new life is so precious, and…let’s be honest, heartbreaking.

When you’ve been fighting the battle for closing in on a decade, it’s difficult. It’s discouraging. It’s downright depressing.

When you get married, people naturally start asking you, “So, how soo20180705_214541n until we hear the pitter-patter of little feet?” It’s annoying at first – like, c’mon, lady! Yeah, we’re getting married, we’re going to do things, intimate things that you have no need to be privy to…

 

After a couple of years, their questions sort of get chuckled off. After five years, it starts to lead to internal questioning. “Yeah, when is it going to happen? Is it going to happen?”

When doubt creeps in, it is a quick slide from doubt to despair.

In particular, Amy has always been concerned about what attempting to bear children would mean for her. Between the single ovary and the PCOS, she’s had multiple physicians tell her conceiving and carrying to term would be a challenge. Much to our distaste, one of them sort of laughed at the conversation of us having children like it was nearly impossible (all medical professionals have a tough job, but needless to say, that’s not a physician we see anymore). But as it goes longer and longer without happening, the idea that something is wrong, with either or both of us. But – what if it is me?

Chapter Five: Peace.

The oddest stage of this process comes when we look at our lives – how happy we are, how much we love each other, and how much we’ve started to accept that children hasn’t and might not happen. We live such a great life – with and for each other. We have so much fun, so many adventures.

This is a fancy way of saying – we reached a point where we accepted and made peace with not having children.

Chapter Six: Not Accepting Defeat

About a year ago, Amy and I decided not to accept the lies of the enemy anymore. We hadn’t had success yet, but it’s not like we had actually taken medical steps or talked to fertility specialists. That’s what makes our previous predicament so – how do I say it? Facepalming? There’s a huge difference between people telling you it’s highly unlikely, coupled with a lack of success – and actually reaching some end of the road with a tangible end result. I honestly look back on the previous phase, and I kick myself. Why did I ever bend to the people who don’t know over a result they don’t control?

Negative.

The current chapter has been perhaps the biggest up-and-down rollercoaster of all. Speaking to an expert and learning REAL facts about our situation, it changed everything. And the excitement level went from zero to a million in a hurry. Then the idea of multiples became likely and we had to start figuring out multiple names in both genders if those multiples happened!

Oh, and names did we find.

Well, I found some names. I’m still trying to sway Amy into the Gaelic ones that just scream at me from somewhere deep in my Irish roots.

So we go through the prescribed steps. The medications, scans. More medications, more scans. Shots and scans. Then…you know…and wait. And wait. More waiting. And then the test.

Negative.

There has always been the ups and downs of the trying and hoping. But this was different. This one came with a medical professional telling us how they see this all the time, about how they get everyone there, and we are seeing the tangible results of the treatment. We weren’t looking up all these names for whatever may come, we were doing some because it was imminent. So close on the horizon, you could practically hold it in your hand.

Negative.

It’s hard. It’s a bit of a skid off the highway into an oncoming eighteen-wheeler. In all the time we’ve even thought of starting a family, we’ve never flown so high. At least I haven’t. We moved well beyond wanting and hoping into full out, medically supervised let’s make it happen!

But the reality is – this result doesn’t define us, it doesn’t define our journey, and it sure as heck doesn’t define our future. This result is already in the past. It wasn’t what we’d hoped for, but we have faith in God’s timing. The excitement didn’t die – it’s just extending!

And on that note – round two is on. The first trip back to the doctor is already in the books, round two of the fertility medications started – and baby watch 2018? Yeah, it’s TOTALLY back on.

Fertility Journey Part 1

Alright, so let’s just go ahead and get this information out there.

A quick back story:

When I was 11 years old, I ended up having an emergency surgery where my appendix and right ovary was removed. Unfortunately, I do not know a lot about what happened and why, but the best I’ve been able to piece it together is that the surgery was initially for appendicitis but when they got in there, they found the ovary had twisted and detached from the fallopian tube. So it was removed.

As I got older, I never really had a regular period. In high school this was the best thing ever. I was never worried about pregnancy (because well, I wasn’t having sex!) and I played sports, so not having regular periods was a blessing at the time.

Fast forward many years to someone who is now married and thinking about starting a family, the period thing becomes a situation. In my early 20’s I was diagnosed with PCOS: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. The name implies an ovary that has multiple cysts. Oh, it is so much more than that.

It’s more of a hormonal imbalance than it is anything else. I could go into what all I go through with it but I don’t feel like now is the time. A google search can quickly tell you what pcos is like.

I’ve been on and off birth control for years. Starting in high school, to regulate the periods. Every doctor wants to prescribe Metformin as well. Metformin is marketed as a diabetic drug. I am not diabetic – however, they all say that it also promotes ovulation. I’ve taken it off and on over the last many years and never feel that it does anything for me either.

A big part of my fitness journey that most of you follow me for, has been motivated by this desire to be healthy and have children.

I decided in June of 2017 to go see a fertility specialist. There is one right near my office at work and I figured, why not go see what she has to say? The funny thing about the timing of this is that it was about 2 weeks prior to us going on a mission trip to Honduras. 🙂

We went over my history and she was very positive and encouraging that this is very much achievable, we just have to help it along. I guess I needed to hear that because I was starting to believe it wasn’t in the cards myself. At this point, I’ve been married for 10 years, and we’ve been trying (by means of no contraceptives) for atleast 7 years. Can I also say that also during this time all of my siblings had atleast 3 or more kids. Most of my peers had kids as well. Everyone was moving into this phase of their life and here I am, the oldest of my siblings ….and struggling. This wasn’t easy. If you are married, especially recently married, you know that you often recieve the question “When are you guys going to have kids?” — and this became more and more difficult to answer. I always tried to step back and remind myself that they don’t know and the question in and of itself is innocent but it doesn’t make it easy. I usually just laughed it off and awkwardly tried to change the subject or walk away.

But as more baby announcements came, the pain grew and grew. It stung everytime someone close to me revealed they were pregnant. God, when will it be my turn? I went through periods of depression. And worry. And anger.

What about Troy? This isn’t fair to him – or his family.

What happens when we get old? Who will help care for us if Lord willing, we live to our old age?

Why do they get to have all these kids they can barely care for?

Why not me? What’s wrong with me?

Yea…. if you know me and knew me growing up… you can imagine that I argue with God a lot. I am all the time questioning him, His word, and His ways. I am good at arguing. 🙂 🙂

I should pause here and say that I have not been in a pit of depression over the last 8 years of my marriage and this journey. I have had moments of pity and …jealousy? But by and large, I’ve grown a lot through this and have tried to take all of the energy I could spend in pity and channel it into becoming healthier -physically and emotionally.

Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you.”

I think there is a lot of things I’ve had to walk through in order become the person on the other side. I trust God. I am learning to trust God more. I believe His word. I know in my heart that he has walked right beside me through all of this.

You can really get lost in pity and wallowing if you allow yourself to do that. I can sit and have all the ugly thoughts in the world and just “waller” all in it. I can lament, cry, ache, and scream out why me all day long. It does nothing but take a toll on my mental and physical health. Instead, I am learning to turn off those thoughts, replace them with HIS thoughts, and rest in that truth.

One of my own parents uttered the words “I think you’re lucky you don’t have kids.”  –I am still trying to work through the sting of those words and that was over 3 years ago. Regardless of what you meant to say, all I heard is that you wish you didn’t have kids. Geez. Thanks. It’s not really like you’ve ever gone out of your way for me anyways, so I can’t apologize for the inconvenience.

–Look I told ya’ll, I’m gonna be real. It’s gonna probably get ugly at times. My committment to myself is to put it out there, regardless of how ugly it is. Maybe I’ll find healing in it. Either way, it’s coming out. Take it or leave it. Unapologetic.

Ok – so you get a little glimpse of the difficulties that infertility can bring. Back to the story at hand.

Fertility specialist was extremely encouraging. I walked out of her office with a renewed hope and faith that I am not broken and that we can do this. As mentioned though, this was a couple weeks out from a mission trip to Honduras, so due to Zika, we had to go on birth control so that we could prevent pregnancy before/during/after the trip until I was cleared. Also, the intial phase of this fertility plan was to get to a better weight. She gave me a number to work for and that’s what I started doing after we returned from Honduras.

Between that time and today, I have lost approximately 70 lbs and reached the weight the doctor wanted me to get to before we started the treatments. 😀  (I am still working on weight loss – this was just the goal to move on to the next steps)

So here’s the deal- I have one ovary.

20180602_210239

And it doesn’t ovulate on it’s own. So the plan is to start the fertility drugs so that we can give it the kick it needs to form follicles, thicken the uterine lining, release an egg, etc.

Can I just say that almost every one of these fertility visits comes with a complementary uterine probe. (ultrasound) -So yea, that’s fun. In the last 3 weeks I’ve had 3 of these uncomfortable visits. I feel like me and that ultrasound machine should go on a date or something. Sheesh.

The plan was to take the Clomid for 5 days and then take Estradiol (estrogen) and see her in a week. I did that and at the next visit and ultrasound, she decided to order a booster dose of Clomid and then scan again in 5 days. The follicles weren’t growing big enough so the booster dose was to get them to grow more.

I went back today to visit Mr. Ultrasound and the follicles were the same size they were Tuesday and the uterine lining is too thin, so even if I did ovulate and fertilize, it wouldn’t have a good lining to attach to.

Not news I was looking forward to. She said that it is common that PCOS patients are resistent to Clomid. She ordered another medication that apparently she can’t order until Clomid fails. Sometimes, I dislike the healthcare industry. (Side note: I work in Healthcare) …I went two weeks on a medicine that wasn’t likely to help me just so that I could then take the medicine that she thinks will help me.

Sigh.

So we start Letrozole today and….yep, see her again next Saturday for another scan.

I won’t pretend that I wasn’t disappointed today. I had physical reasons to believe I am ovulating and was ready for the green light. Not a change of course. But such is life sometimes.

I told Troy today that we are really only two weeks into this treatment plan and I can see that it will become stressful and a hardship if it has to go on for a long time.

These medicines aren’t to be messed with. I really haven’t had the crazy side effects that I read about but I do know that I am super emotional and at times moody in one direction or another. I sat in a baby shower last week fighting back tears for no reason. I wasn’t feeling pity for myself, I wasn’t upset at her baby expectancy, I just felt like crying.

I don’t feel depressed. I just feel like my emotions are on level 100 and I am sometimes afraid of losing control. I have found comfort in hot showers (whether needed or not) and laying in my bed. I feel like too much of the world at times is making me overwhelmed. Memorial Day weekend I asked Troy if it could just be low key and just us.  Usually we would try to grill out and invite friends over. I wasn’t feeling social.

It was the best weekend. I just cuddled up with him and rested in the peace that he brings in an otherwise chaotic storm that seems to stir within me at times.

I’m trying to ride this out and see it through. I ask for patience because if I become emotional or moody at you, I promise, it’s most likely not personal and not about you. I am trying real hard to keep it at bay.

So, that is where we are on the fertility journey so far. I am still hopeful and encouraged and I know in my heart that God’s got this. I just try to focus on what He says about my future and rest in that.

So my day to day looks like this:

I’m taking CoQ10 (vitamin/enzyme) 6 tabs a day, I split them 3 in morning and 3 at night. I am taking a prenatal vitamin, Vitamin D, a probiotic, and the Letrozole starting today.

20180602_210858

Orange is nighttime and green is morning.

I do not like taking pills. I can get one or two down easily but when I have to take multiple it gets difficult and they become harder to get down. I am pushing through it but it’s rough. One of these meds, I think the Clomid/Letrozole makes you have hot flashes.. or maybe that’s the estrodiol, who knows. So I have periods where I am melting also. Which isn’t helpful when summer starts in early May rather than mid-June like it’s supposed to. It’s hot and humid enough without hot flashes!

As I wrap this up-this song started playing while I was typing and it’s resonating with me big time as I’ve walked back through this journey with you. I wanted to share. Music is a big part of how I cope and process life and I have several songs on repeat right now that I’ll be sharing in future posts. 🙂

Hills & Valleys – Tauren Wells

I’ve walked among the shadows
You wiped my tears away
And I’ve felt the pain of heartbreak
And I’ve seen the brighter days
And I’ve prayed prayers to heaven from my lowestplace
And I have held the blessings
God, you give and take away
No matter what I have, Your grace is enough
No matter where I am, I’m standing in Your love
On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain aft, didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
I’ve watched my dreams get broken
In you I hope again!
No matter what I know
Know I’m safe inside Your hand
On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain aft, didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
Father, you give and take away
Every joy and every pain
Through it all you will remain
Over it all!
Father, you give and take away
Every joy and every pain
Through it all you will remain
Over it all!
On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there (to the one who set me there)
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain aft, didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
And I will choose to say “Blessed be Your name, yeah, yeah”
And I am not alone

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open Book

I’m in a weird place lately. There is a lot going on in my heart, head, etc. And when I get like this I get introspective, creative, and all sorts of things at different times.

If you’re here because you subscribed to the 2013-2015 blog about my fitness journey, hello. 🙂 The blog has been refreshed, renewed and is going in a different but similar direction.

I am still on a fitness journey. There’s no doubt that I will talk about that at times still.

I am still a Christian and at times I will definitely be talking about that.

What’s new in 2018?

Well, I’ve officially begun Fertility treatment. I am very suspicious that all of the feelings swirling around in me these days are directly related to hormone therapy. But at this moment, I am feeling extremely unapologetically open and blunt and quite frankly…

Me.

I have spent most of my life, trying to be what everyone else needed me to be. I am quick to put me aside and help you through whatever you need. I am very likely to hide my own wants and desires because I recognize yours and I step aside to let you have your thing. Whatever that may be.

And at 32 years of age, I am becoming a little less worried about what you need me to be and a lot more worried about who I need me to be.

We will go through this fertility treatment together, I plan to bring you along week by week. We may go through some of my family trauma, drama, whatever it’s called. And just whatever falls on my heart when I sit down to type. I will try to keep it focused and not jumbled. I have written and rewritten this post several times just trying to keep a coherent thought.

I’m feeling like a mess these days… take it or leave it… It is what it is.

 

20180602_192525

I’m not really a selfie kind of person but I felt my hair helped proove my statement about being a mess.

And also, I mean, that is my favorite scripture …. Psalm 46:10 “Be Still. And know I am God.”