Sorry, President Reagan

Kidney stones will always remind me of the week Ronald Reagan died.

President Reagan’s body lay in state at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, before being flown to Washington D.C. for his funeral.  We lived just a half hour from the library, and the naval base where the party was departing was just ten minutes away.  The route planned for the motorcade from the library to the base went right by our neighborhood.

Naturally, I dressed up the boys — we had just three boys then — in their finest red, white, and blue, purchased American flags, and told them all about how they should be respectful and quiet when the Big Black Car with the Very Important Man went by.

At the same time, my husband was in the air on his way to Florida.  He was a very expensive courier for his company that week.  He had to go to Orlando, pick up a part, turn around, and head back to California.  It was a long ordeal, but he was only on the ground on the East coast for five hours.

During that time that he was on the ground in Florida, I began to have a bad backache.  This was not unusual for me, since I was a nursing mother of a four-month-old with two other toddlers to take care of.  I spent a large part of my day bending over or crawling on the floor.  But as the day went on, it got pretty bad.

I called David and told him that I wasn’t sure what was going on, but maybe I needed to see the doctor.  I knew everyone at our church was getting ready for the annual Father’s Day campout in Yosemite, and I hated to bother anyone, so maybe I would wait until he got back and go in the next day.  He boarded his plane and took off, bound for a stopover in Denver.

When he got off the plane in Denver, he had a voicemail from a very tearful wife, saying I didn’t know what was happening, but I had to call somebody and go to the hospital.  I didn’t know who I would call, but I had to do something.

He called me back repeatedly during his layover and got no answer.  He of course imagined the best possible scenario:  me, lying in a pool of my own blood, with our three small children weeping over my lifeless body.

The truth was not nearly so shocking:  I had called a friend, she had taken me to the ER, and I had turned off my cell phone because in those days hospitals were pretty vigilant about keeping cell phones off inside their doors.  Oops.

I had called a friend who I didn’t know really well, but she ended up being the perfect fit.  I didn’t know it at the time, but she was a former firefighter who had EMT skills under her belt.  By the time she arrived, I had lost the ability to make any decisions.  She took my doctor’s office to task over the phone for putting me off, and then called someone to come get my two older kids.  She packed Andrew into his car seat carrier, put together some bottles for him, and off we went to the hospital.

As we sat in the waiting room, she kept telling me to be louder.  When I am hurting, I get very quiet and pale.  She told me I’d better start screaming or we were never going to get seen.  I didn’t do it, but the suggestion made me laugh.  When sitting became unbearable, she went to the desk and asked if it was alright if I laid on the floor in the waiting room.  Not surprisingly, the nurses decided that they could find a bed for me after all.

An hour later, I was on Demerol (read: high as a kite) and Andrew was full and happily resting in his car seat.  Remember poor David, up in the air, thinking I’m dead?

By the time he hit the ground in LA, I had passed the stone, been discharged from the ER, stopped at Trader Joe’s for a snack, and was back home with our other two kids.  My friend stayed until David came home, just so she could corroborate my story about JUST HOW BAD IT HAD BEEN.

It was a very intense few hours for all of us, except for Cameron and Ben, who got to hang out at their friends’ house while they got ready for camping.

We missed the funeral procession.  I will always be a little sad about that.

Me and Dwight Schrute

(If you read my blog in a feedreader, you might want to click through today to see all the changes I’ve made! Keep your eyes open for more in the future, as well.)
“Why tip someone for a job I’m capable of doing myself? I can deliver food. I can drive a taxi. I can, and do, cut my own hair. I did however, tip my urologist, because I am unable to pulverize my own kidney stones.” 
– Dwight Schrute, The Office
If I were able to pulverize my own kidney stones, I would be doing just that right now instead of talking to you.
4 AM Saturday morning found me writhing in pain and it found David groggily wondering why his wife was suddenly hyperventilating in bed next to him. A visit to the ER confirmed that I was in the throes of my second experience with kidney stones. 
What have we learned from this experience?
  1. Emergency room doctors are really good about taking your word for it if you’ve had kidney stones before. Doing labor breathing and rocking back and forth in your chair goes a long way to convince them of your immediate need for morphine.
  2. Morphine makes all the terrible awful pain go away. But it makes me a little nauseous. But the pain was making me nauseous, too, so pass the morphine, please.
  3. Thanks to my friend who had extreme morning sickness this past year, I was quite familiar with the names of the anti-nausea drugs they gave me: Zofran and Phenergan. I felt so smart. Thanks, Becca!
Tomorrow I will tell you all about my first encounter with kidney stones and why stones always remind me of Ronald Reagan.

Crazy Home Remedies For the Win

Back in the dark ages of this blog, I wrote about using Vicks’ vaporub on kids’ feet to cure a cough.  Yesterday I happened to be at our pediatrician and he brought up this bizarre home remedy and asked me if I’d tried it.  I asked him why it works, and he replied that he’s heard a hundred explanations and doesn’t believe any of them.  He still suggests it for nighttime coughing, though.

We recently had another victory for crazy home remedies.  Within the past year or two, Cameron broke out all over his hands with warts, and both David and I wanted to avoid the embarrassment that we both suffered as teenagers.  I had over thirty warts on my hands when I was in high school.  David’s affliction was not nearly that bad, but really who cares.  They’re gross.

After a few costly visits to the dermatologist, Cam had no fewer warts, and the ones he had were getting bigger and more stubborn.  He had one on his palm the size of a penny.  Having recently taken up the piano, he was humiliated each time he put his hands out in plain view of others.  So we started looking for alternatives.

On the same website where I found that Vicks’ remedy, I found the suggestion of using duct tape as a cure for hand and foot warts.  It had to be conventional Duck brand, silver duct tape (no leopard print or camo allowed, sorry).  Being the frugal people that we are, we decided that six bucks on a roll of duct tape would be a better option than another failed dermatologist visit.  What did we have to lose?

Within two months, most of the warts were gone.  The last one hung on a bit longer but eventually it went away as well.  Cameron was so relieved; there was a marked change in his personality.

And we still have most of a roll of duct tape left.  It fixes everything!

Clueless Girl’s Guide to Making Yogurt

Two weeks ago I made my own yogurt for the first time.  I used the Crockpot Lady’s guide.  I understand that there are faster ways to do it using a pot and a stove, but I really enjoy this method because you don’t have to pay a whole lot of attention.  It’s as easy as turning on your crock pot, turning it off, and then some simple mixing.

You get extra points if you use raw milk, did you know?  My friend Jennie orders and delivers this good stuff to me every couple of weeks.  I can’t afford to have my kids drink it all the time, but I figure some is better than none, right?  The yogurt recipe uses a half gallon.

Here’s the yogurt I used.  It should be plain.  It doesn’t have to be organic OR Greek.  You can buy a little container because you only use a half cup.

Here is my crock pot during the process.  If you have a curious husband or children about, it helps to make threatening signs about opening the crock pot.  Andrew especially liked the one that said, “Mom will freak out if you open this.”

The last step, after you add the yogurt, is wrapping up your crock pot so it stays warm overnight.  I wish I had a picture for you of this sight: a strange-looking mass of towel and blanket mounded on the counter.  It’s pretty funny.

And that’s it!  The yogurt is a little runnier than storebought, but you can either add gelatin or powdered milk to combat that, or you can simply strain off some of the whey using coffee filters or cheesecloth.

The price of this yogurt — organic, raw milk yogurt — was less than four dollars for a yield of two quarts and then some.  If I were a good blogger I would have the price comparison here for you, but take my word for it that you can’t buy it that cheap.


Scene: Quiet conversation between Mom and Jonathan before Jonathan goes to sleep in his hospital bed.

Mom, explaining more about his surgery:  …so, the doctors had to take out your appendix because it was broken.  And then they cleaned out all the germs.  And you’ll take some medicine for a little while to make sure all the germs are gone.

Jonathan:  What about a new appendix?

Mom:  You want a new appendix?  Well, you don’t really need an appendix, so I don’t think the doctors will give you one.

Jonathan:  But the Holy Spirit can!

One Thousand Gifts 2.14.11

Well, what a couple of weeks we’ve had.  Two weeks ago the whole family came down with the seasonal flu — everyone except for me.

This time last week I was thinking about calling the pediatrician because Jonathan wasn’t bouncing back from the flu very quickly whereas everyone else had.

Little did I know that a week later I would be sitting in my son’s hospital room listening to an IV pump and nursing him back to health after an appendectomy.

Thankful today for

32. an attentive pediatrician who sent us back to the hospital after we were discharged the first time
33. a quick, simple, laproscopic procedure
34. antibiotics. I am usually wary of them but this time around I am embracing them with my whole being 🙂
35. a decent hospital cafeteria
36. wireless internet in the hospital
37. having Ann’s book along with me
38. a church family who has fed us, watched our other four kids, shuttled them back and forth to the hospital, and been incredibly supportive and helpful in general
39. a truly wonderful view from our room
40. the rooftop garden and 60 degree temps yesterday
41. my husband, who has embraced fully his Mr. Mom role for most of the last week and even remembered to dress our daughter in her Valentine’s dress for church yesterday
42. Jonathan’s progress so far…eating, walking, and building more Lego sets
43. our ability to participate in a study for oral antibiotics so J does not need to have a pic line put in today
44. hospital volunteers who filled his days with homemade valentines and candy
45. seeing the ministry that my children are to one another, how beneficial they are to each other

46. prayers from around the country and across the world
47. visitors each day
48. sweet nurses
Thanks to each of you for your prayers and support this past week.  I think we are headed home today.


Have you ever heard the words “sneaky appendix” used together before?  That’s what I just heard the pediatric surgeon say.  Jonathan has a sneaky appendix because it was scanned earlier in the week and came back looking normal.

However, it is not normal…it’s ruptured.  He’s having surgery around 8:30 Saturday morning.

We are grateful to finally have an answer to the pain he’s been having, and of course we would love your continued prayer for his health.

UPDATE:  Surgery now schedule for around noon.  Jonathan is comfortable and sleeping.  He is on IV antibiotics.