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Saturday, November 7, 2009

House for Sale

Our house is for sale! Selling a house can be a difficult and long process. What will be most difficult is maintaining a tidy house that is always ready for potential buyers. It is exciting because it means we are getting closer to building and moving into a location and house that we love. We just purchased a couple of acres where we will be building a new home. We go by the new property several times a week and picnic there on pretty days. I'm excited about the future!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Weekend in the Mountains

I have an awesome job and work with people that I really like. I like them so much that I went on a girls' weekend to the mountains with them in October. They actually made pink shirts that say, "what happens on girls' weekends stays on girls' weekends" so I'll give the generic version. We rented a big cabin, went shopping, watched movies, hung out in the hot tub, talked a lot, ate a lot, and just relaxed! I am blessed to have a group of people like them to work with. I am also looking forward to many more work days, after work dinners, and vacations with these girls! Karyn, who is an AMAZING cook, baked us a cookie cake with our names on it. So cute, and delicious!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Amelia Island

My childhood neighbor and life long friend, Katie, and her mom, Sharon, invited me to spend a long weekend with them in Amelia Island, Florida. We had beautiful weather and the accommodations were amazing! Sharon's friend Marti also joined us. We had a great time and laughed so hard we cried on many occasions. It was a very memorable girls' weekend! Here are a few of my favorite pictures.



Here is the link to more pictures from the weekend, http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2097640&id=56705803&l=324c7bc551.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Baby Boy Berry


We have a nephew! We are so excited to welcome Paxton Michael Berry into the world today at 1:05pm.
He weighs 9lbs and is 21 inches long.
What a beautiful little boy!
Congratulations Chris and Cara!



Cara's nephew, Cade, meeting his cousin and new best friend, Paxton.
Too cute.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

5 Years of Mostly Wedded Bliss ;)

Ben and I celebrated 5 years of marriage this month on August 7th. We started dating on 8-4-09 and were married on 8-7-04. We have had a great life together so far. I am very blessed to have him as my husband. We celebrated by going out of town for the weekend. We didn't want to travel far because Paxton Michael was due any day and we wanted to see him on his birthday. We drove to Helen, GA, which is a little German themed town a few hours away.
We had a great dinner at a steakhouse on the river Friday night and walked around the town. On Saturday morning, we hiked to a waterfall and spent the afternoon floating down the river on tubes.


That night we drove to Atlanta and ate a delicious dinner at a restaurant called Canoe (we love to eat so I always seem to mention the good restaurants). We spent the night at the same hotel we stayed at on our honeymoon night (before flying to the Bahamas for the week). We shopped in Atlanta the next day at Lenox Square Mall and drove home that night. We had a wonderful weekend and look forward to many more anniversaries together!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Daddy/Daughter trip to California

I have an obsession with California, I love everything about it. Some of my love has to do with the fact that my dad was born and raised there and I still have a lot of family in the area. I have been able to visit twice now. Ben and I went last May and my dad and I went in July of this year. Ben and my mom were unable to go so we had a daddy/daughter trip. My dad and I had a wonderful time. We get along perfectly and it was so cool to go back to his hometown with him (where he hadn’t been in 20 years). We arrived in Los Angeles late and my aunt Marti and cousin Kristina picked us up from LAX. We drove back to Bakersfield, CA where they live. We spent the day talking and relaxing. That night my aunt had a party so her friends and more of our family could come to visit.

After everyone left, we decided we wanted to go to San Francisco the next day. We (me, my dad, Aunt Marti, Uncle John, and Kristina) woke up early and drove north, stopping to see some more cousins along the way. When we arrived in SF, we were able to eat dinner with my cousin (on my mom’s side of the family) Andy and his wife, Elaine.

We spent the next day walking around SF. We took a cable car from Fisherman’s Wharf all the way to Union Square and then walked all the way back (it’s a long way), while sightseeing and window shopping.

We left San Francisco and drove south on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). The scenery on this drive is breathtaking.

We drove through Carmel and looked at the adorable little shops, and took the 17 mile drive in Monterrey at Pebble Beach. It was beautiful.

We kept driving south on the Highway 1 until we reached a little town on the central coast of California called Cambria. My aunt and uncle love to stay in this town because it reminds them of Gatlinburg, TN. We ate at a really great restaurant with an ocean view when we arrived and went shopping the next day. Next we drove to a small town on the coast called Cayucos. This place is special because when my dad was young, he would come here to surf and fish off the pier. We watched men fish and one guy even let Kristina reel in a fish. He would catch them and feed it to the lazy sea lions that were so adorable.

We drove back to Bakersfield and decided that we wanted to go to the LA area the next day. Just my dad and I rented a car and left the next day for Santa Monica. We walked around by the pier and ate lunch at a restaurant with an awesome view of the pier and ocean called “The Lobster.” We left there and drove to Malibu. The weather was perfect and we spent the afternoon driving around in the Malibu hills. We drove from there to Hollywood, seeing sights like UCLA and Rodeo Drive on the way. I wanted to take him to see the Hollywood sign so we drove over to the neighborhood where most people stop and take pictures. We decided we wanted to get closer, so we kept driving up the mountain towards the sign. We got a few dirty looks from locals, but it was worth it because we got some amazingly close shots of the sign.
Next we parked at Hollywood & Highland and hung out the rest of the night walking around in downtown Hollywood. We took pictures of all of our favorite celebrity’s stars on the ground and listened to a jazz band that was playing. It was so much fun. We woke up the next day, and dad said, “This was a great trip, all we are missing is seeing a celebrity.” A few hours later we saw Jason Castro from American Idol at LAX and I was able to get a picture with him.
That made the trip complete. I can’t wait to go back to California. I have more pictures posted at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2095277&id=56705803&l=c8f963a56f.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Independence Day!!!

July was filled with lots of fun with friends and family. It started with the fourth of July. We went to the annual pre-4th of July bash with some of Ben’s friends from high school. They live in the country and always shoot off a ton of fireworks. Inevitably some of them always get aimed at one of the guys or the innocent bystanders, but we always have a blast.


On July 3, Ben and I hung out with my friend KK and her parents at the river. We watched fireworks after the local baseball game and just listened to music and laughed a lot.


Here is a video of the some of the fireworks on the river on July 3rd.

video

We ended the holiday celebration by traveling to Nashville to see Ben’s brother Chris and sister-in-law, Cara (who was pregnant and due very soon). We had a great time hanging out downtown all day. It started raining, so they decided to shoot off the fireworks early. We had just finished eating and had to sprint down to where they were going off. I just knew we were going to send Cara into early labor from all the running, but we made it. A few minutes into the BEST fireworks display we had ever seen, it started pouring rain, I mean BUCKETS. We huddled under a blanket (we didn’t bring umbrellas or buy ponchos) and got soaked, but we wouldn’t leave early. We sloshed back to the car, all wringing out our clothes and laughing because it was one of the best and most memorable 4th of July celebrations that we could remember.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Graduation!



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On May 3, I graduated with my Masters Degree of Science in Nursing. I took my certification exam through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners on June 20th, and PASSED! I can now add NP-C to the end of my signature which means Nurse Practitioner-Certified. I started a job at a local clinic May 6th, but was let go due to issues not related to my performance on June 22. I am currently waiting to start a job in the local emergency department. Currently, I am working part-time at my Registered Nursing job at a Hyperbaric and Wound Treatment Center. I have been there for almost 3 years and love it. I am very glad to still have that job and not just be sitting at home just waiting to start practicing as a NP. Thankfully, I have a great boss. It has been a busy summer, and I am SO glad to be done with school.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Charleston, SC

In May 2009, after graduating and before job hunting, Ben and I traveled to Charleston, SC with Chris and Cara. We had a great time. These are a few of my favorite pictures from the trip.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Graduation Banquet

Tonight Ben and I attended a celebration banquet for my Nurse Practitioner program. This is a picture of my graduating class and 2 teachers. We are all so excited about graduating on Sunday!

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2009 Dove Awards

Ben & I attended the 2009 Dove Awards in Nashville, TN with our friend, Todd Starnes. He just wrote a really great book called, "They Popped My Hood and Found Gravy on the Dipstick." As part of his "Dipstick" tour, he was presenting an award for the Gospel Music Association. Our seats were really great and we enjoyed an awesome show. Todd gave us his seats and stayed backstage to interview Miss California for Fox News (which is his day job).

When it was over he took us backstage and we got to meet some of the best Christian and Gospel artists of the year, like Brandon Heath and Kirk Franklin.

We had an amazing time! Thanks Todd!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ben!

Today is Ben's 27th birthday!
Here are a few pics of him throughout the years.
Happy Birthday, sweetie! I love you!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Change of Plans


(Ben writing....again)

Anyone reading this should first reread the last two sentences of the previous blog entry. I should not have been so presumptuous.

We started the day by arriving at Erlanger at 7:00. After checking in, getting blood tests, etc. Kristen was wheeled back to the preop holding area around 9:00 and Kristen's parents, my mom, and I went to the waiting room. At 9:45 the nurse called to tell us that the surgery just started. At 10:45, the nurse called and said that she was fine, but they were still working. This was only supposed to be a 40 minute surgery, so after more than an hour, what were they still working on? I had a dozen questions that I wanted to ask the nurse but since I didn't really want to know the answers, I said "Thank you" and hung up. 11:15....11:30.....11:45....still no word. At 12:00, the nurse called and said in a slighly less enthusiastic tone "Your wife is stable, but they are having trouble removing the filter." The all too familiar feeling of nausea hit me like a Mack truck. Had we made the wrong decision? The next hour seemed to drag on forever. Finally, at 1:00, the doctor came around the corner to speak to us.

Basically, the filter is going to stay in and Kristen is going to be fine. The doctor said he tried everything he could think of to get the filter out, but nothing would work. Something was preventing him from being able to hook the top, yet all of the scans were normal. He actually said, "There is no good reason why I should not be able to get it. I don't know what to tell you except that God wants it to stay." As soon as he said this, I knew that it was true. I am not sure why God wanted us to go through the whole surgery process only to find out that the filter needs to stay in. Maybe he knew that we would always second guess whichever decision we made. Maybe he just wanted to take the burden of making a "no-win" decision off of our shoulders. Whatever the reason, there is no doubt in my mind that "God wants it to stay" and I feel relieved (I will not know how Kristen feels about it until tomorrow. She is still getting over the anesthesia.)

Thank you to everyone who is praying for us, and I know that a lot of you are. The last 3 months have not exactly been "La dolce vita". I know that things could be a lot worse, but I can't help but look forward to days that include world travel, regular jobs (no school), and additions to the family instead of surgeries, homework, and doctor's bills. Kristen likes for me to put a picture with my posts so I picked the Eiffel Tower because whenever we can get our feet on the ground, we are going to France, Lord willing :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Last Surgery....hopefully

(Ben writing)
So the decision has been made. No turning back now. No second guessing.

Kristen went in for testing a couple of weeks ago, and the results were good...no pulmonary hypertension which is another one of the many miracles we have experienced. Yesterday, the doctor called to give us the news and then asked the magic question, "So it is up to you. Do you want to take the filter out or leave it in?" Our answer, we decided to take it out. The doctor agreed with our decision.

We started talking about scheduling the surgery and Kristen said that she wanted to wait until after she graduated in May, but the doctor wants to do it soon. Right now, the surgery is scheduled for Wednesday. It should be fairly quick, 40 minute surgery, 1 hour recovery, then back to the house.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Should It Stay or Should It Go



(Ben writing) Yesterday was Kristen's follow-up visit with her vascular surgeon. Although he is kind of goofy, he has become one of our favorite doctors. I get frustrated with most doctors because they always seem to be in a rush and I rarely feel that all of my questions have been answered. Not him. He will come in, shake your hand, pull up a chair, and answer any question you ask. Really, he just loves his profession and he loves talking about it. Anyway, the first order of business was to rescan Kristen's leg and stomach to see if the clots had dissolved, and good news....all clear! Next comes the question of the hour..."Should the vena cava filter be removed?"

As many of you know, Kristen had a small, metal filter (that is a picture of it on the right) placed in her vena cava (the large vein that takes blood back to the lungs and heart). Its initial purpose was to protect her lungs and heart during the two surgeries that were required to removed all of the clotting in her leg and stomach. While most filters are permanent, this one has the ability to removed within the first 3-4 months. Any longer and it stays because the vein will grow into it (I imagine a tree growing around old barbed wire). So this is our decision:

1. Leave the filter in - The filter will keep protecting Kristen's lungs and heart in case another clot forms. Although blood thinners should help prevent clots from forming, there is still a chance that this could happen again. The disadvantage is that no one knows if the filter will last 20, 30, or 50 years. There have been cases where the filter breaks and ends up somewhere else in the body. Also, this would basically eliminate the possibility of her every carrying a baby (the filter cannot withstand the pressure of a baby and it would likely bust the vein).

2. Take the filter out - Basically the reverse of everything above.

Just typing this makes me sick to my stomach. We asked the Dr. for his opinion and initially, he said that he would leave it in, but then as we got to talking more about it (KJ crying), he started second guessing himself, talking more about how long the filter would have to stay in and the potential for it breaking at some point. How do you go about making a decision like this? At some point the doctor commented that "There is no wrong decision, here" but in reality, one decision will ultimately be better than the other, and could mean the difference in life or.....Only God knows which decision is best, and I pray every day that he will show us which path to follow.


Next step, Kristen has to do an Echocardiogram. This will test for one of the worst side effects of clots in the lungs, pulmonary hypertension. This website explains it well http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pulmonary-hypertension/DS00430 but it is basically high blood pressure in the lungs caused by damage to the smaller vessels. If she does have pulmonary hypertension, then we have no choice but to leave the filter in. Otherwise, we have to make a decision by early March.

All of this and Kristen is trying to finish school. So much pressure!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gotta Love Genetics


I went to the Dr. on Monday. I seem to do this almost weekly as I shuffle between my Internal Medicine Doctor, Vascular Surgeon, Hematologist, and Gynecologist. I had been anxiously awaiting Monday's visit to the Hematologist because I was supposed to find out what kind of blood disorder, if any, I had. More tests were done besides the ones discussed, but those results aren't back yet.

I found out I have a few different clotting disorders. Most of this is pretty confusing, even after spending many hours researching. For those interested, I will explain what I know about them presently.

1) I was diagnosed with something called Factor V Leiden (FVL), that's the roman numeral 5, not "v". There is a really great website, http://www.fvleiden.org/ , that has answered a lot of my questions. FVL is a genetic condition which increase the tendency of the blood to clot, leading to sometimes serious and/or life-threatening complications depending on the location of the clot (which is what happened to me). Basically, I was at a 7 fold risk to clot abnormally than the average person. I was also taking birth control (maybe that's too personal, oh well), which I have learned increased my risk to about 35 times the normal risk for clotting. I am off that medication and am now taking a blood thinning medication daily called Coumadin to help keep my blood from clotting. While my situation was bad, it could have been much worse. Many women who have inherited FVL don't find out until they get pregnant and have multiple miscarriages or severe complications ( I guess it is good that I am still in college not trying to get pregnant or my story might have gone differently). As the website says, "persons with thrombophilia (FVL) wishing to have children should be aware of possible complications including stillbirth, preeclampsia, eclampsia." In some cases pregnancy is ultimately fatal to the woman. While this all is very scary, many women with FVL do have children. It is much more risky and they have to take shots of blood thinners daily to help prevent some of the serious complications. It makes me emotional to think about so I'll stop. ok, next result.

2) Another disorder that my DNA showed (I didn't just get my green eyes from my parents) was a mutation of something called the MTHFR ( I had a single copy of something called C677T). This enzyme is responsible for creating the circulating form of folate in the blood. Folate helps regulate homocysteine (which is damaging to the vessels). If its not present than there is too much homocysteine in the blood and this is associated with an increased risk of cerebrovascular disease, coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and blood clots. Sometimes in pregnancy, for those with this mutation (I hate that word), there is an increased risk for neural tube defects ( birth defects of the brain and spinal cord) due to low levels of folate. This is one of the reasons all pregnant women and those of childbearing age should take plenty of folic acid. I only had a single copy and therefore this genetic issue is less concerning, but I do take my folic acid daily.

3)I was positive for Lupus Anticoagulant (LA). This is something that is acquired, not genetic like the first 2 results, and it could have been a false positive from the heparin therapy I was on in the hospital when I got tested( I am hoping). However, at this time, my hematologist says I have this too. My first question was, is that like the connective tissue disease Lupus? He said not really. It is called that because many women with the disease Lupus are LA positive. According to http://peir.path.uab.edu/coag/article_3.shtml, LA is an acquired non-specific inhibitor that is detected in 1-2% of individuals. Chronic lupus anticoagulant is associated with a 30% risk of venous thromboembolic disease or arterial thrombosis, including stroke and myocardial infarction. LA is also associated with chronic spontaneous abortion. The hematologist said there is a chance it could go away (transient LA) as opposed to chronic LA. I am praying for it to go away.

I may have lost many readers already, but it is good for me to talk about. It is something I am fascinated with because I must learn about it and deal with daily to stay healthy. I hope the rest of the results are good.

Monday Jan. 26 I go to see my vascular surgeon. He is going to scan my legs again with an ultrasound to see if the clotting has gone away or not. The results may help him decide if they want to take me back to surgery and remove the filter in my inferior vena cava that is currently preventing another pulmonary embolus. I'll know more Monday.

Flashback: December 2008

I am going to be using this blog to keep friends informed about the happenings in our lives-good and bad. I had a life changing medical emergency happen last month. It was serious and there were days when my family was unsure that I would survive. I don't see how anyone can be the same after going through something like that. I certainly am a changed woman. For those who don't know what happened to me last month I will explain. For my friends and family who were there just skip to the newest blog entry. :)

Since Oct '08 I had been having tingling and discomfort in my entire left leg. I went to 2 different Dr's and they said it was related to an old back injury which I thought was possible because I had herniated 2 lumbar discs in 2005.

Then I got a respiratory infection in mid Nov '08 that was pretty bad. I had severe chest pain and even coughed up some blood (sorry to the squeamish readers).

I started having more leg pain on Thanksgiving and it got so bad I was unable to walk. My 25th birthday was Nov. 28 and I felt so badly I didn't even feel like eating my birthday dinner. I just wanted to sleep. The pain in my left leg got so bad I decided I needed to see a Dr (that same morning I got on an exercise bike to see if I could "work the soreness out," which was so dumb looking back).
I went to the Dr and found out through ultrasound of my leg veins that I had a blood clot almost the entire length of my left leg starting below my calf and they weren't sure how high it went into my abdomen (we found out later it went almost all the way to my kidneys).

They sent me to the emergency department of a local hospital then to the intensive care unit. I had a CT scan done of my lungs and found two pulmonary emboli. The one in my left lung was small, but the one on the right side was extensive, going into the upper, middle, and lower lobes. They were causing me to have severe pain in my chest when coughing, sneezing, and with pressure. It became very serious at that point, as many people die from a pulmonary embolus (PE). In addition, the pain in my left leg was almost unbearable and they were giving me very strong pain medicine. I was just miserable and scared.

I was transferred to a larger hospital because I wanted a vascular surgeon to perform whatever needed to be done. I was sent by helicopter because I was deemed too physically unstable to transfer any other way. I get severe motion sickness so I took a little baggie with me just in case I got sick. I was wrapped up so tightly on a stretcher and buckled down across my arms, hips, and legs that I couldn't move. I spent the first 5 minutes of the helicopter ride feeling around for my vomit bag and the other 15 actually throwing up all over the helicopter (not one of my finer moments).

When I arrived on the helipad they rushed me into surgery and I met my vascular surgeon for the first time. He explained that he was going to go in my jugular vein and first place a filter in my inferior vena cava to catch any more clots that might break off and go to my lungs and would leave a central IV line in that hole. Next, he would insert a catheter into my popliteal vein behind my knee and try to clean all the clot out with blood thinners and clot-busting medicines. Then "vacuum" all the clotting out.

The first surgery on 12-2-08 (my brother's birthday), the Dr. only could only clean half of the clot out because it was so bad. The next day (my dad's birthday), he took me back to surgery and got 98% of it and was satisfied. I spent 4 days in ICU and 4 days in a room on a Medical-Surgical floor. I was so happy to go home, especially because Christmas was right around the corner.

When I got home my good friends Amber, Jennifer, and Courtney had a suprise waiting. They put up all of our Christmas decorations!!! They are the best. I also was so humbled by the outpouring of love and support I felt from friends, family, and people I didn't know who were praying for me. The prayers are what brought me through that time and I am so thankful to everyone for that support.

Believe it or not, that was the short version. There is so much I am still dealing with daily. The physical and emotional toll this all took on me is sometimes hard to deal with but my faith is being stregthened in the process.

Ok, now I can forge ahead in my blog to present day.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Great Traditions


This weekend was my annual girls' weekend trip to Nashville with Courtney, Emily, and Amber (we missed you Shawn) and we had a GREAT time. Emily is the best host a friend could ask for each visit. This year we ate some great food (Jim-n-Nick's, Monell's, etc.), went shopping, watched movies, drank hot chocolate, ate cookies, and enjoyed my first hockey game!!! Spending time with my friends away from it all is always wonderful therapy for me. I get so caught up with my own to do list and life events and sometimes forget to "check-in" with the girls I have known and loved for as long as I can remember. My goal this year (I avoid the term "resolution" so close to the beginning of the year because those seem to break too easily) is to spend more time with friends. It seems challenging with all of the busy schedules, but I think we can do it.
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hallie hiding

My sweet puppy, Hallie.

First Time Blogger


I am new to the blogging world. I decided to start one as I spent the day dodging what really needs to be done, my homework. I am trying to graduate from my MSN program in May 09, and am feeling the stress and pressure that comes with finishing a Master's program and realizing I will need to find a job. When I get stressed, I start googling things irrelevant to my to do list. I explored twitter, picnik, picasa, searched facebook, and landed here. It will be fun to chronicle life events and be able to look back on them, because time flies by so fast.