Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Blink of an Eye

Me and Cindy in our younger days
 Last week, a couple of things happened that have further impressed in my mind just how fragile this life is that we are living.  My very best friend from high school Cindy Smith is here in town for a while.  Not because she's on some kind of vacation but because her 17 year old daughter Courtney, is in extremely critical condition at a local childrens hospital.  She is being kept alive with an ECMO machine (lung bypass, similar to the heart/lung bypass machines used in open heart surgery) as she is suffering from a pulmonary embolism, pulmonary hemmorage, pneumothorax,  pneumonia and ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome.)  The doctors have labled her the sickest child in the hospital. A couple of weeks ago, she was
graduating from high school and had a sore throat.  Now, in the blink of an eye, she's fighting for her life in a hospital hundreds of miles from home.  Drs. don't know what caused her pneumonia so they are treating it with everything they've got in hopes something works.  Her lungs have to heal in order for her to be taken off ECMO.  Right now, I think the pneumonia is their biggest concern.
Cindy's beautiful daughter Courtney

Thursday, I made arrangements to go and see Cindy and her family up at the hospital.  Just prior to the time I was supposed to leave I got a call from my niece, Jennifer, asking if she could ride with me as she would be going to an adjacent hospital.  She is a professional photographer who volunteers time to do pictures for families who are suffering a stillbirth or early loss of a child.  She is affiliated with an organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.  Anyway, the call had just come in that they needed a photographer for family who had suffered a horrific tragedy that morning.  It seems that a woman was just driving down a street she had likely driven hundreds of times before.  She was at work and was going to visit a client.  She was pregnant, had not had an easy time conceiving her baby and had a challenging pregnancy.  She had just hit her 32nd week and was finally feeling better about the prospects of bringing home a healthy little girl.  Then, in the blink of an eye, a car crossed 5 lanes of traffic and slammed into her car head on. It was later revealed that the driver of that car had suffered a heart attack and died.  The force of the impact shoved the engine into the womans lap, rupturing her uterus and killing her unborn baby girl.  Just that fast, their whole lives changed.  Their baby was gone, and the baby's mother was in critical condition.  It took over an hour to get the mother out of the car and it was later determined that the baby she was carrying had saved her life.  She was in such a position that she kept pressure on her mother's organs keeping her from bleeding out. What an incredible gift she gave her mama.  Jennifer was able to get some beautiful pictures of this special little angel baby for this incredible family.  I have never been so proud of her as I was that night.
I've never felt so aware of the fragility of life as I did driving home with Jen and talking about what we had both just witnessed.  With every sunrise, we really don't know what is in store for us.  It isn't in our control, rather that control belongs to He who knows all.  My prayers are with both of these families that they will have the strength necessary to endure.  May God be with them.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Original BFF's

On certain mornings, my Mom comes over and stays with me while my Dad goes to work at the Temple.  Yesterday, she was here and I was able to feed her breakfast and give her a little manicure. I must have worn her out.
The animals are very protective of her.

Mom's had some health challenges and now is suffering from dementia.  We are hoping to get her on some medications that will give her some independenence back and help with her cognitive skills.  Until that happens, or even IF that happens, I get to have her come visit me a couple days a week.  It's hard to see this fiercely independent mother of 9 suddenly needing help with basic everday activities.  I can only imagine how difficult it is for her to be so confused and not understand what is happening to her own mind and body.  She spends a lot of time sad and crying.  Yesterday though, she was really looking forward to a visit from her very best friend, her sister Carol.  All morning she kept telling me that she couldn't wait to see Carol and torment her.
I think Carol's visit was just what the Dr. ordered.
I don't think I've ever seen such a sweet picture of my Aunt and Mom.
I have so much love for both of these incredible women.  I really hope that I have conducted my life in a way that I have shown them just how much they mean to me.
I know my time with them is limited, that they are in the twilight of their lives.  They truly are BFF's and my prayer would be that neither one of them has to live out the remainder of their lives without the other one.  Maybe God can take them both at the same time.  Surely He would be entertained by the two of them!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I took the kids to the gamestore yesterday to replace a broken Nintendo DS.  You can't just have 3 when you have quads unless you want to referee constant battles, which I'm too tired to do.  Of course, taking them to the store with me was not one of my smarter decisions.  Those stores are like crack for kids, except I think crack might be cheaper.  After saying NO about a bajillion times, they were able to decide on one video game and one replacement DS.  Believe me, if I would have allowed them to purchase all they wanted, it would have looked something like this...
4 Nintendo DSI's, 2 new controllers for the Wii, 4 new games for the Wii and X-box, And several little gadgets to hold, protect, and decorate their newly acquired electronics.  Thus, the repetitive use of the word NO!!
As we went to check out, the clerk started asking the traditional questions..."Are the all the same age?" "Did you do fertility stuff?" "Are any of them identical?" "How much did they weigh?" but then one of her questions caught me by surprise.  She had just given me my total  "That will be $140.23 please" and then asked "So, is it cheaper now that you don't have to buy diapers anymore?
Suddenly, the cost of bigger clothes, shoes, a bigger house and car, my McDonalds and Dominos Pizza purchases, not to mention my out of control spending at Wal Mart went flashing through my consciousness. Then there's books, learning supplies, computers, vacations (that we couldn't do when they were babies.)  Oh, and I can't forget the $140 I just dropped in 10 minutes at her store. My eyes were opened wide, along with some brief anxiety ;o)  Suddenly, the $250 a month for diapers seemed irrelevant.
I was only able to come up with one word in that instance...NO.  And that was the bajillion-and-first time I said that word that day!

Even the dead presidents that don't have time to get cozy in my wallet agree that they are gone too soon!
And you know what? I can't think of anything I'd rather spend money on!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

No Words

On June 9, 2010 a dear high school friend of mine died of complications of Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. (CML)  For the past six months I have followed  his wife's blog faithfully and have prayed for them constantly.  I've been thinking for a couple of days about what to write. I wanted to find exactly the right words to say, words to somehow ease their pain. Then I realized that I don't believe those words exist so, I thought I'd just convey one of the best times I ever had in High School.
Me and Van  July 1982 just after graduation.

It was on a blistering hot summer day. Me, Cindy (Smith) Cliften, Paul Valenzuela, Van, and a few other teens decided to go "ice blocking" at Sugarhouse Park. There is/was a great ice manufacturing place just west of the park where we could pick up large solid blocks of ice that were big enough to sit on and slide down the steep hills of the park. You were guaranteed to have hours of fun, and a wet fanny! Anyway, we drove my Dad's little car, some sort of Datsun (that ages us eh?). After plenty of times carrying an ice block up a hill and then sliding down as fast as we could, the ice eventually melted. We returned to Cindy and Van's neighborhood to drop off the first wave of people wearing grass stains and soggy drawers. Well, somehow the bet was made that Paul, Van, and the other football players who accompanied us could easily pick up my dad's small car. Well, they did. Picked up the rear of the car and thanks to the cold from the ice blocks we had previously stored in the trunk, the blistering sun pounding on the glass, and the torsion on the car...The back window literally exploded. I wish you could have seen the looks on their faces!! We must have laughed about that one for weeks! (Thank heavens my dad wasn't upset...)

I have a lot of great memories thanks to Van. Things were always a little brighter when he was around. Thank God he was a part of my world, even if it were for such a brief time.
May God bless his family with the strength and comfort needed.

I had the opportunity to attend Van's funeral on Saturday and I'll blog abot that after processing the events of the day.  Something about Van's death has made a real impact on me and I need to figure it out so that I can write something that truly reflects the day.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Flashback

If only they had the same love for washing dishes now!
Sorry so grainy, I think my scanner is on the fritz

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Oops, I Did it Again!

My very favorite sport while in High school was womens gymnastics.  I competed for all 4 years and loved every minute of it.  I have friendships that will be forever even if we don't always stay in contact.  It seems that when we do, we can just pick up where we left off and always enjoy each other's company. 
Anyway, besides the friends, I also managed to get myself an injury.  I had a little fall off the balance beam and almost dislocated my right ankle.  I had a grade 2 tear to the deltoid ligament in the ankle.  Stubborned as I was, I went to physical therapy as much as I could and then I had myself back competing in 2 weeks.  Now as an adult, I see the silliness in all of that but it sure was important to me then.
Fast forward to now and I have never had stable ankles (in fact they are quite weak)  but I have managed to keep myself from re-injuring them by simple dumb luck.  About 2 weeks ago, my dumb luck ran out.
While carrying my sweet little Mochie outside to comb and trim her hair, I twisted my ankle and fell down 2 concrete steps.  Scared her bad enough to pee on me...I suppose I'd have done the same if I were her.  Skinned my knee and got a couple of bruises but nothing to get excited about.  So, on with life as usual.

Two weeks later...I'm at my niece Jennifer's house holding her darling little baby Londyn and what do I do????  Yup, you guessed it!  I take one step down the stairs, sprain my ankle and fly down the remaining 5 or 6 steps while trying to keep this precious little baby girl from getting hurt.  I tried my best to hold her so that I wouldn't squash her. I needed to hold her away from my body but still hang on to her so she didn't just land full force on the ground.  I think it looked like what a football player does when he's holding a football and trying to stretch it across the line of scrimmage.  I'm sure she peed on me too but fortunately, she wears diapers.

Isn't that a pretty little ankle?  Can't wait till it bruises!

Anyway, the second mishap caused enough damage and pain that I went in to see my Dr the next day.  The very first time I met my awesome Dr., it was because I fell off my roof trying to get my cat down.  (DUHH!!!  If the cat can get up there, the cat can get down...)  So I get thinking I'd better only tell him about the highschool sprain and then most recent sprain (skipping the one about the dog) since I don't want him thinking that I'm either an abuse victim or someone who needs a neurology appointment ;o)  However, after examining my poor fat ankle he said, "Well, now that you have re-injured this, it will take forever to heal and you'll just keep spraining it if you don't stablize it with tape or a wrap or a boot thingy" OK, he didn't say "boot thingy" but I don't remember what it is called...Oh, well DUH...I already have sprained it twice it 2 weeks....I certainly hope this is it and I don't do it again!
Funniest part of  this whole story is that the apparatus I was best on as a gymnast was the balance beam. A four inch wide wooden beam 16 feet long that I could do actual skills on...Now I can't even balance on my own 2 feet, or a staircase. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bad Kitty

A few days ago we went to visit one of my crack dealers...I mean we went to the local Barnes and Noble. (I need a 12 step program for books, office supplies, and home improvement stores.)  I hope the kids feel the same way about bookstores one day.  I love the smell of the pages, looking at all the learning games, thumbing through the magazines and finding the perfect bookmark.  So far, our favorite purchase of the day was two books.  One named "Bad Kitty Gets a Bath" and one named "Happy Birthday Bad Kitty". These are stories about a naughty kitty and all his antics. The kids love them, we can't help but laugh everytime we read them!  Sprinkled in with the humor, there are pages that give actual information about cats, tigers, lions and the like.
While reading about the lions, we learned that some big cats will eat so much after a successful hunt that they will sleep for 2 days afterward.  Often it is the female who does the hunting while the male lions do most of the sleeping. 
Upon learning this, Amanda asked me "which is male and which is female?'  I told her that males were boys and females were girls.  The lightbulb must have lit up in her brain...She laughed  "So, it's just like when you go to Wal-Mart and Daddy sleeps the whole time on the couch!"

Yes Amanda, it's just like that!!!