End of the Year Review

2014 will not go down in my memory as an excellent year. It has been excellent in some spots but overall in nature it has been really difficult. I have learned a lot this year, but in most points I wish there had been a different path to these life lessons.

The beginning of 2014 started off rocky with my frustration with the home mortgage business, namely with Wells Fargo. They approved us for a mortgage on our new home for up to $320,000 and then were trying to deny us a mortgage for half of that. They tried to deny us based on not being able to use the documents that my husband’s employer sent them, which were sent in standard business format. Mayhem ensued because the movers packed up our North Carolina house when we thought we would be able to get into our new house so then our household goods had to sit on trucks until we could close on the new house and move in, weeks later than anticipated. So my daughter and I were technically homeless (we stayed with my mom but were not planning on doing so) and we had to pay extra for my husband to stay in his apartment.

Next to the rocky start of 2014 was on my drive from North Carolina to Pennsylvania, to get settled in our new house and finish unpacking. I was driving and thought that I got a full-on migraine with blurred vision (which I used to get a lot, especially in stressful times). Unfortunately it lasted until the next day, so I called around to get an emergency appointment (I didn’t have any doctors set up since we had just  moved). After a nerve wracking doctor’s visit and emergency trip to have an MRI done, the doctors concluded that I had a sizable stroke which was putting pressure on my brain and affecting my vision. I spent my birthday in the hospital, hooked up to IVs and having all sorts of tests done. Finally I was released with aspirin, Lipitor and Plavix in hand, to take the rest of my life to prevent any more strokes.

It was also in the hospital that the doctors’ found a hole in my heart, one possible cause of the stroke. I had heart surgery in May to close the heart.

June came and my husband started his last few semesters of (online) school to finish his Bachelor’s Degree in anticipation of applying for MBA programs in January. Not only did he end his education program with a 3.8 GPA but he did so while working full time and being a hands-on dad!

In July we were approved as foster parents for the state of Pennsylvania and one day later received the referral call for our three children. We accepted placement two days later after never seeing them or meeting them in advance.

The next month and a half are a blur, as I worked hard to acclimate the new children. I quickly realized the advantages of the start of school with three school aged children! I worked hard to get the oldest two in appropriate counseling programs.

The adoption of our kids went through as previously scheduled on National Adoption Day, which was celebrated in our area on November 7th. There was a lot of speculation leading up to the adoption of whether it would occur as planned, and therefore didn’t give our families a lot of time to plan to attend. We held a fun party for the kids and their anxiety levels went down substantially after the adoption.

In December my beloved Uncle went to the hospital for a scheduled catheter procedure much like I had in May and never left. He suffered a brain aneurysm and the swelling in his brain never went down. He was taken off the respirator on December 17th and passed away peacefully and swiftly. I miss him all the time. I regret not seeing him recently, but the bond we had will never fade.

My husband ended the year in the top 1% nationally for his position in his company so we will be getting a pretty awesome vacation in May to celebrate.

As I look back on 2014, I learned a lot but only through major struggles. There were many health scares in 2014 and it was possible for a while that I’d never get to drive again because of my vision. It was also very scary that the doctors were not sure what caused my stroke and therefore could not prevent another one. Although my husband and I had already decided to pursue foster to adopt it was sad to get the news from my cardiologist,  neurologist and OB/GYN that it would be very stressful on my body and dangerous should I ever get pregnant again. There something different between having miscarriages and trouble getting pregnant versus having doctors tell you that you shouldn’t get pregnant.

Well, here’s to 2015 and having a great year!


Easy Peasy

My heart surgery on Thursday turned out to be a piece of cake. What usually takes around an hour and a half took about 45 minutes for me. Everything ran as smoothly as it possibly could go. I got some good calming medicine and some topical numbing but I was awake for the whole thing and watched it unfold on the screen. I saw the camera scope go up my veins to my heart, then I watched as they threaded a second tube in for the actual device to be in my heart. I watched them measure the size of the hole in my heart and listened as they debated what size of device would need to go in. I watched them carefully place the device and open it up, umbrella like, in my heart. My doctor told my husband that I was very brave. It actually was calming to me to be able to watch and see what was going on. I’m sure I would have freaked out if something went wrong and I was listening but the whole operating room was such a strong and confident environment that I wasn’t worried. I guess the good medicine helped too! I laid on my back, flat for about three hours after the surgery. They took out the two catheter tubes and then I laid for another hour or so. Finally I got to sit up for a bit then I got to walk around! I had my breakfast/lunch around 3:30 and I was home before 5. I was happy to see Little One. My mom said that when Little One got up (I was already gone for the surgery), she wouldn’t look or talk to my mom. So she asked if Little One was nervous. And she said yes, I am nervous because Mama isn’t here. Poor thing! I hope this is the last of it and she doesn’t need to worry any more. I am sure it weighs on her little mind and I don’t want her to stress about me being sick. I am not very sore today and I took about a mile and a half (slow) walk this morning. I took a nice nap this afternoon and soon I will get to shower and take my bandage off! I could not be more pleased about the whole procedure and recovery thus far. Definitely much better than I was expecting and makes the whole process worthwhile!

Heart Surgery FTW!

Tomorrow is the big day of my heart surgery. I’ve spent the last month wrangling with the insurance company to make sure it’s approved for in-network. The link below is a concise description of the surgery. I’ll let you know how it goes! Finally got nervous and overwhelmed yesterday. Cried today when Little One’s preschool teachers told me good luck. Sigh. Let’s close this bad boy up and get on with it!




What Would You Do With $18,000?

Right now the total of my medical bills following my stroke, doctor’s appointments, tests, an ambulance ride, 2 ER visits and 2 nights in the neurology wing at Geisinger Medical Center (Hospital) is at $18,000. Granted, some of the tests have been denied by insurance totally and some do not seem to be covered completely when they should, so I am hoping that amount will come down quite a bit. But man, this medical crap is expensive! Especially for something that couldn’t be prevented! Right now my insurance has been billed a total of almost $100,000! And I haven’t even had my surgery yet! Last night when my husband looked up the grand total we started dreaming of what we would do with $18,000, other than paying for medical bills. What would you do with that kind of money? Go on an exotic trip? Take your kids on a cruise, first class style? Buy a new car? I can assure you that I wouldn’t use it for a two night hospital stay!

Tomorrow is our second meeting with the Program Director of the foster agency we like, and our first meeting with the Permanency Specialist. I read over the 100 page Orientation Manual since our last visit, so I have a bunch of questions for them! Hubby is all ready too, so it’s looking like we’ll be able to start training while I go through recovery! We had some good soul-searching over the weekend and we are both ready to go forward with matching an older sibling group. We figured out logistics and even bedroom layouts!

Heart Surgery

So I am having heart surgery on May 8th. Well, that’s the tentative date at least, waiting on health insurance pre-authorization. It’s hard to say and I don’t like thinking about it. My mother will come back in town for at least a week. I have to be careful for at least a month, being careful with any type of strain or  lifting as the artificial piece heals. I look forward to (slow) long walks and healing for the beach/pool! For all you medical followers out there, I am having a PFO closure. It is an outpatient surgery, done with a catheter. The surgery takes about an hour. About 80% of people have full closure right away, and most of the other 20% will have theirs close within 6 months. So I will have several check-up echo-cardiograms to make sure it’s in the correct spot and that it’s healing.

I am glad that I’ll be working on my foster care certification as I recover!