Friday, June 15, 2012

Something new & improved

Something new and improved:

A new blog with a new address and a new design... AND all the old posts and pictures  :)  Check it out!

http://thejpmorganfamilyblog.blogspot.com/

I won't be posting here anymore, but please come on over to my new blog! :)
laura ann

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Missing Mom

Thursday marked a month since Mom died. Mom died.  I still can’t believe it.  My mom died.  I wanted to post, but I just couldn’t.  I still don’t want to, but it’s time.

The Thursday before she died, Dad, Mom & I met with Dr. P.  For the 4th time, Dr. P explained to mom that she was dying.  She didn’t understand how he could be so sure – she wanted scans.  She wanted to go home.  She hoped he was wrong.  He asked her if she was hoping for a miracle and she said yes.  She said that she believed in Jesus as her Lord and Savior and he asked her if she knew how many times Jesus walked on water.  Just once.  That was all He needed to do to prove His point.  Dr. P carefully explained that Jesus doesn’t perform miracles all the time, because he doesn’t have to in order to make a point.  He explained the 3 miracles he had witnessed in his own life as a doctor.  He prayed with my mom for a miracle.  Then, he prayed for us in case that wasn’t God’s plan.  Mom’s hope exceeded all hope.

For whatever reason, that night she finally understood what was happening for more than 5 minutes.  She talked about who she wanted her pallbearers to be, what she wanted to wear, who should officiate… she told us to take care of each other.  She told us she was sorry she had to leave.  She cried and grieved for us.  She also got her nails done – a gift from her Sunday school class (she had been begging to leave the Hospice House for a little while to get her nails done – God does believe in comic relief).

Friday was a good day.  I’m not sure that she still remembered the conversation from Thursday, but she didn’t talk about it.

On Saturday, Parker & I slept in and when we got to the Hospice House that morning, Mom was sleeping.  I took that as a good sign – she had slept the night before.  I asked dad how she did over night and he said that she had slept, but had been very restless.  Then, he told me her feet were getting cold.  It hit me so hard.  I knew it was coming – I’ve known it was coming.  I still was stunned.  She was awake later in the day, but she was never very lucid.  She was very agitated when she was awake.  Finally, that night, they put her on the morphine pump.

Aunt Kay & I stayed so Dad could take Weston home to sleep.  I don’t think either of us slept at all.  Mom’s breathing was noisy and I lay there counting every second between breaths.  Every time something changed, we asked the nurse if she thought we should call Dad.  She always said, “Not yet.”  Sunday morning around 7, the nurse came in to rotate her and said, “Call him.”  Mom’s body was clammy – overnight, her arms, feet, and legs had been freezing cold, but now her body was clammy.  We called immediately.  Dad, Weston, Parker, Grandma, Aunt Kay, & I all stood around her bed and said goodbye.  It was so hard.  Thirty minutes later, she was still breathing at the same pace.  The day went on and nothing changed.  My best friend, Amanda came and sat with us.  Sunday night, Dad & Weston went home to shower.  Within 30 minutes, the nurse told us to call again.  We did.  We repeated our goodbyes & tears.  Again, she kept breathing.  All of us stayed through the night.

On Monday morning, January 9th, Dr. P came back.  He asked if we had questions.  How much longer?  It’s a dumb question, but how long could we listen to her “death rattle” as they call it… how long could we watch her fight… how long?  He couldn’t hear her heartbeat because of the rattling – congestive heart failure.  He also said that her pupils were dilated, despite the strong pain medicines – a sign that her brain was very swollen.  He said that eventually her brain would swell to the point that her body would stop breathing.  He also said that he didn’t think it would be something the nurses would announce – “Hey, it’s time,” but that it would be something we would just know.  Again, he prayed with us and for us and for her.  Specifically, we prayed for Weston.  I think Mom left us on Saturday night… but her body kept fighting.

Family and friends came.  We talked while we waited.  Then, there was a really long pause in her breathing.  Immediately, I told Parker to go get Dad (he was in the living room area).  Dad heard it and was already walking down the hall.  The nurse came.  We stood around and knew that it was for real this time.  She would breathe a few times and then stop.  Breathe, then stop.  As time passed, the pauses got longer and longer.  Within a couple minutes she was gone.

Amanda, Parker, Grandma, & Aunt Kay packed up her room while Dad, Weston, and I sat in the living room.  We went home and cleaned up – Christmas stuff was all over the dining room.  We met with our pastor that afternoon and with the funeral home that evening.  It was a daze.  Relief, but extreme sadness.  As my mother-in-law called it, I was in a “grace coma.”  When we got home, the house was full of family, friends, and food.  The next day, Aunt Kay and I went to pick out flowers and her outfit.  Wednesday was the funeral.  Beaty sang “Glory to God” – a song that summed up how we felt.  The song I sung and hummed to Mom while she was dying.  The song that I clinged to during those awful days…

Before the world was made
Before you spoke it to be
You were the King of Kings
Yeah you were, yeah you were
And now you`re reigning still
Enthroned above all things
Angels and saints cry out
We join them as we sing

Glory to God, glory to God, glory to God forever

Creator God you gave
Me breath so I could praise
Your great and matchless name
All my days all my days
So let my whole life be
A blazing offering
A life that shouts and sings
The greatness of our King

Take my life and let it be
All for You and for Your glory
Take my life and let it be Yours

I wanted to praise God, because His plan is so perfect.  He was with us every second and knew every move before any of it had happened.  I wanted people to know of His glory in all of it.

I understand why we use the phrase “my heart is broken.”  I feel like my heart is broken.  I understand why we use the phrase “my heart is heavy.”  My chest feels so heavy.  I grieve for our loss.  I miss her SO much.  I miss her for the future events in our lives.  I miss her voice and her touch.  I miss her laugh and her smile.  It literally takes my breath away at times.  I’m only 23 and I’ve become the “matriarch” of our small family.  It doesn’t seem right.  It’s not right.

I want so bad to call her.  I reach for the phone to call her all the time.  I know it is okay to grieve.  I know my emotions are normal.  I don’t think that it’ll ever be easier.

I’m so thankful to have had such a wonderful mom.  She was one of my best friends.  I’m so glad she was at our wedding – something I had prayed for for years.  Looking at the pictures, she was so happy.

It gives me comfort to know she is praising God in His presence.  How joyful she must be now.

Still, I miss her so much.

laura ann

Friday, December 30, 2011

Mom

As many of you know, my mom is now in the Hospice House.  So, I should probably explain how we got here...

Last time I updated you on my mom, it was April and she had been to see Dr. A at UNC and started a new treatment called Irinotecan.  One of her tumors started growing while she was on that treatment and in September, she started the clinical trial at UNC.  In October, scans showed that a tumor had doubled in size.  Dr. A at UNC and Dr. W in Greenville told us that we'd exhausted our options.  We opted for 5 radiation treatments to "buy us some more time."  They told mom that they wouldn't do anymore scans because we would know if it worked or if it didn't.  At that time, Dr. W did the paper work for hospice.

Mom started falling some and became dependent on a wheel chair.  Her right arm became limp over time, but she was pretty capable of taking care of herself during the day.  About 2 weeks ago, her right leg slowly became limp and she started falling more and more.

Last week, she was noticeably different.  I don't know how to describe it.  Her words were slurred, her conversations jumped around, and she stayed tired.  On Thursday, she tried to go to the bathroom and fell.  Weston called me, but I couldn't get her up.  She was hysterical.  We called Dad and he had to pick her up.  She napped that afternoon, but when she woke up she couldn't talk.  Sound came out, but it was just random syllables.  Then, the right side of her face started twitching.  Dad was very concerned and called 911.

At the ER they determined that she was having seizures.  She was twitching on both sides of her face and her right leg.  With high doses of Attivan, the twitching stopped.  She was admitted to the palliative care unit Friday morning.  Dad and I are 100% on the same page about keeping her comfortable.  A while ago, Mom said that she didn't want to die at home because she didn't want us to have to go through that.  With her medicine, confusion, and agitation, there is no way that Dad and I can give her the best care at home.  One of the nurses in the palliative care unit told us about the Hospice House.  His wife and step daughter had passed away - in fact, his wife died 3 years ago on Christmas Eve.  He, and the rest of the nurses there, were so kind and caring.

Christmas was pretty crappy.

On Tuesday we brought her to the Hospice House.  It is SO wonderful.  The nurses, doctors, and social worker are so caring and sweet.  They are taking good care of mom and us.  The room has a pull out sofa so we can stay at night.  We are trying to keep her as comfortable as possible.

She hasn't been sleeping at night.  The first couple of nights she was very combative and trying to get out of bed.  It took me plus 3 nurses to keep her in bed on Friday night.  She is less and less combative, but still very confused.  During the afternoon she has some very lucid moments, but nights and early mornings are bad.  We've explained to her 4 times now what is happening, but she does not understand and forgets within minutes.  To say that she has a hope that exceeds all hope is an understatement.

She still thinks she's going to get better.  She thinks she's at the "Wellness Center" (I have no idea how she thought that up) because the doctors are trying to get her medicine under control and she can't walk because her ankle is hurt.

Having to tell her she's dying sucks.  Watching her die sucks.  Dealing with her confusion sucks.  It all really sucks.

Despite all of this I'm amazed at the strength God provides us.  I am constantly realizing his timing and planning in everything.  The love we've gotten from friends, family, and our church family has been very helpful.  We are well taken care of and very appreciative.

We're looking at a week or two... but that could change rapidly.  The brain tumors could easily cause bleeding, and then we'd be looking at days.  When she is lucid, its hard to believe she could be gone so soon.  When she is agitated and confused, it seems like it could happen any moment.  The brain is a funky part of the body.  We're definitely on a roller coaster with all the ups and downs.
laura ann

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene

So our first two months of marriage have been an adventure! Hurricane Irene hit this past weekend and she was not so nice. We started getting rain and wind Friday night, and around 3 o'clock Saturday afternoon, Parker & I heard what we thought was the sink running. Not dripping, but running. Well... it wasn't the sink, it was our bedroom ceiling.


We moved everything out of our bedroom (our clothes, 2 month old matress set, etc.) and put trash bags, towels, and buckets everywhere. Our neighbors came over and helped. We poked holes in the ceiling (omg I just realized I wrote "poaked" on facebook...)

It was pretty much a nightmare. Did I mention that it continued to rain for 6 more hours?


Sunday morning I ventured out to survey the damage... This is the view behind us.

To the front right of us:

Oh, this is the enormous limb that caused a hole in our roof:

Our ceiling is sinking... and cracking... and will probably fall in the floor.

The front of our building:

A home down the street :(

The roof was fixed this afternoon, but they probably won't be able to fix the ceiling until next week!  Please pray that it'll hold until then!!  I'm so thankful that it wasn't worse!  We are super blessed!
laura ann

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

New Adventure: Couponing

I'm amazed by people who save hundreds and thousands of dollars a year by couponing.  Every time someone posts on Facebook a picture of their loot and how much they paid vs. how much they saved, I think, "Man, I wish I could do that!"

Well that stops today!  I'm going to be an avid couponer.  Not one like those crazy people on Extreme Couponers that spend hours a day clipping coupons and have a stash that takes up their whole spare bedroom.  I'm going to have a stock pile that fits in our pantry and our fridge of things that we'll actually use/eat and I'm going to save us money!

For my first couponing adventure I scored:
6 lbs of chicken breasts, 6 rolls of Scott paper towels, 1 package of chicken noodles, 1 jar of pasta sauce, 1 jar of parmesan cheese, 1 can of crescent rolls, and a 16 oz. box of spaghetti noodles

I spent $22.97.
I saved $21.95!

That means almost half the stuff on that table is FREE.  That's pretty good for the first time, in my humble opinion.  :)
laura ann

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Story of Mr. Squirrel

Well let's see...  Yesterday morning about 6 or 6:30, I woke up to a loud ruckus.  I got out of bed and went to the window to see what was going on, but I didn't see anything.  I realized the noise was coming from our chimney, so I went back to bed and woke up Parker.  "Hey babe, I think something is in our chimney."  His response, "Is it raining?"

[Um,  No.  That's not rain.]  Then he rolled over and closed his eyes again.  Hello?  There is something in our chimney!  About ten minutes later, we heard boom a loom a loom boom boom boom BOOOMM.  Holy crap, what was that?  THEN, Parker got out of bed to check out the situation.  :) I love you honey!

Whatever it was, it was stunned and didn't move for a while.  Later, we heard scratching and clawing.  We figured it was a squirrel because anyone who's been to our house knows about the crazy squirrels we have around here thanks to our old lady neighbor who FEEDS and NAMES them.  Shaking my head.

Well, we called around - Homeowner's Association, Animal Control, Pest Removal - apparently, no one "deals" with this kind of situation.  It's okay though, because Parker decided to take it on himself.

Plan A:
video
If you can't tell, that's Parker attempting to open the draft with a string, causing the squirrel to fall in "this here" box, followed by Parker putting the top on the box and carefully removing said squirrel.  Oh, and me watching from the guest bedroom with the door cracked. Hahaha!

Well, Plan A didn't work, so we called some folks we thought might have experience with this type of situation.  Parker came up with Plan B: To Smoke His Tail Out of There.

So, with a Rubbermaid storage container lid to "steer him out" and the front door wide open, he started a fire in the fireplace.  A HUGE FIRE, which did smoke his tail out of there - in fact, Mr. Squirrel came darting out of the fireplace WITH HIS TAIL ON FIRE!  AND, instead of running out the open front door, he ran around the house!

Okay, let's back up a second.  We read online that if you shut all the other room doors and turn out all the lights except where you want the squirrel to go, the squirrel will follow the light.  LIES.  Not true at all.

Mr. Squirrel ran under the couch, under the table, under the couch, under the table, around the living room... Parker searched everywhere until finally, he was convinced that Mr. Squirrel must have snuck out the front door.  The problem was that I hadn't seen our friend crawl out the front door, so I wasn't ready to come out of the guest bedroom.

Lucky for us, my doubts caused Parker to "prove" to me the squirrel wasn't in the house by checking everything one last time.  The sneaky little fellow was behind the TV stand.  :)

Then he ran under a table causing the book The Prayer of Jabez to fall in the floor.  Parker slid the book at the squirrel and finally he ran out the door.  Charred tail and all.

God works in mysterious ways.  Thank the Lord for The Prayer of Jabez.

Our living room afterwards:
 There was blood and soot everywhere!  It took half an hour to clean up.  Good times.

My hero, my husband:
Husband of the Year Award?  I think so.
laura ann

Monday, July 11, 2011

Just call us honeymooners :)

Our honeymoon was awesome!  We spent our first week as husband and wife in Ocho Rios, Jamaica -- Thank you babe! :)  After our reception, we came home for our first night of married bliss.  The next morning, we woke up, finished packing, and went to Raleigh for the night.  Then, bright and early on Monday morning we flew to Charlotte and then to Montego Bay in Jamaica.  We stayed at a Couples Resort and loved it so much!  Here are a some pictures to help me recap...

Yay! We're here!!

 Our bed with all our stuff on it.

Our living area - we stayed in a penthouse suite and it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

The view from our enormous balcony including a dining table and two lounge chairs.

Part of the resort from a boat

Another part of the resort from a boat and some blue water :)

The views were gorgeous - this is our view from one of the pools that we frequented.

This is a man climbing a palm tree and throwing down coconuts.  Seriously.

The view from the breakfast restaurant.  Everyday.

 Speaking of restaurants, the food was so good.





Besides eating... we also went on a glass bottom boat ride, snorkeling (which was awesome), kayaking, and Parker took me sailing! 



We got a couple's massage in a 3 sided hut with the open side facing the beach.  It was so relaxing to hear the waves crashing!

We spent a lot of time just relaxing on the beach under huts or palm trees.  See my handsome husband?   The resort staff called him John Deere all week :) haha


 Our camera got smudged :(

We love you Jamaica!
  
We definitely recommend Couples Sans Souci in Jamaica!  We had a wonderful time and we made lots of memories!!
laura ann