Sunday, December 14, 2014


{Original post written mid November}

Joseph and I had the opportunity to take the gals camping, so we jumped in last minute and drove the short (or long...with two kids) three hours to Rowden, TX for a nice weekend away "camping" with friends and our sweet girlies. 

Our friends have built an awesome bunkhouse on their family property complete with two RVs, a tractor, and a great campfire spot. Charley was soooooo excited and just about fell even more in love with the outdoors than she already was. Here are some pics from the weekend...

All loaded up and ready to go! 

The first night: getting acquainted with everyone and trying out their new chairs! (Liza is not amused!) 

Day 1: Charley Cate in front of the trailer. This is "real camping!" We had a blast walking the property and exploring, building rock castles, and eating! 

Liza with a mess of toys. She had a great time crawling around inside and loved the attention from new people! 

Crecia entertaining the girls with her accordion skills. :)

Charley and Charley Baby waiting for the boys to build a fire! 

It was cold but we all fared well. 

Charley adores her Uncle Chris, as he does her. It's so sweet, these two. 

Dusk and the campfire. Bliss. 

She needed to rock her Charley Baby. 

After the girls went to sleep the guys and Ellen busted out the guitars. I roasted myself some marshmallows and got sleepy by the fire. Just what I needed :)

It was a great weekend away with super people and excellent food. Joseph and I were very pleased with the girls and their good behavior. Char was more than happy to make new friends, like Pedro (aka our friend Colby)! She just randomly started calling him Pedro, so Pedro it was! Hahaha! She also called our trailer "my train" and referred to outside as "my new backyard". (Can you tell we have hit the ego stage of development over here?) She was an absolute hoot and any time she could, so ALL the time, she wanted to go outside. 

It was country living at it's finest and so fun. Thanks to the Reynolds family for hosting us and accommodating our young girls. 


Desolate. That's what I am right now. I desperately need Jesus and faith and the warm embrace of our family and friends. 

I'll just start at the beginning...

On Friday night, November 22 (so technically eaaaaaarly Saturday morning), Joseph and I had an average low-key Friday night. We put the girls to bed, Joseph went and picked up hot wings for dinner, we ate dinner, watched TV, and fell asleep on the couch. Jojo woke me up that morning around 2:30 saying his left leg was numb. "What do you mean your leg is numb?" "I don't know. But it's numb". I could tell by the tone of his voice that something was very very wrong. 

Soon after the numbness traveled up his left leg to his neck then started on his right foot-slowly moving up until his ability to speak was gone. He was slurring his words and almost didn't get out the words, "I think I'm having a stroke". I immediately called for help with the girls and then 911. An ambulance arrived about five minutes later and by this time Jojo was able to feel all his limbs, but still had incredibly slurred speech. Upon arrival, the EMT took his blood pressure which was 180/100. They asked him the date and the year, neither of which he knew, followed by the current president, which strangely he knew. At this point he was alert and oriented and was able to carry on a conversation, although it be with slurred speech. 

We took the ambulance to Midland Memorial Hospital where they immediately did a full stroke work up on Joj. His CT scan and chest X-ray all came back normal. While we were in the ER Joseph lost his ability to hear out of both ears for about twenty minutes. He went through a period of time where he was extremely irritable. Then all of a sudden he had a massive headache hit. He was sensitive to light and noise and even vomited. It was terrible. We were sent home about 6 hours later with the diagnosis of anxiety and advised to follow up with a neurologist. 

In the span of two weeks, Joseph had attacks similar to the ER visit, but on a smaller scale. He would wake up in the middle of the night (between 1-3am) with numbness on one side followed by an intense headache that no medication seems to touch. He didn't work the whole week of Thansgiving; the attacks make him fatigued and weak. Over two weeks we returned to the ER to get an MRA done, saw a PA at my office, and saw his neurologist. Everyone had the same diagnosis: anxiety. 

On Monday, December 1st, Jojo and I went to his first neurologist appointment where we saw images of his brain. The neurologist, Dr. B we shall call him, did a great job of explaining all the normal findings and told us there was nothing to worry about. His gameplan was to start Jojo on anti anxiety medications and order a sleep study. We left that appointment feeling hopeful of the future and that we were on the up. 

We were so wrong. 

That same night, around 3:30am, Joseph woke me up again stating he was numb. Because we were certain this was a "panic attack", we held hands and did our best to breathe through the numbness and wait for the dreaded headache that always follows. Joseph was getting really frustrated because he couldn't get a handle on the numbness; it would leave then come back with greater intensity in a new body part. At one point his whole body was numb, including his neck and back. He was unable to speak momentarily. This lasted for about an hour and then his alarm for work went off at 4:40am. He seriously did not know how to turn his alarm off, how to unplug it from the charger, and seemed puzzled by the phone itself. At this point I called Valerie. 

Jojo kept repeating the phrases "I don't know" and "I can't help you" over and over and over. He kept calling me mom. Honestly, I don't think he had a clue who I was but he was comforted by my presence. He was obviously super anxious, had sweaty palms and chills, and something was not right. Not right at all. 

I called Dr. B's office and the answering service sent him a message to call me back. Within minutes he advised me to take Joseph to the ER where he would order a repeat MRI. Joseph was unable to dress himself, could not zip his pants, and the thought of permanent disability was setting in my mind. 

We got to the emergency room where we again were greeted with "stroke alert" precautions. They did another CT scan, chest X-ray, and an EEG. Joseph was unable to say his name, my name, his date of birth, or the year. I was absolutely petrified. 

During the EEG Dr. B asked me to step outside. He told me that sometimes anxiety does strange things to people. I asked him to consider flea or tick borne diseases as Joseph had been camping in the Big Bend on horseback lately, and his response was, "if you'd like to go against my medical advice you are welcome to take him to Baylor or UT". This upset me to no end as my question in no way was undermining his authority as the physician. The tears started rolling. 

At this point in the game I had kept it together. I knew I had to be strong for Joj and in a decent mental state to be able to make quick decisions about his healthcare. Dr. B's unwarranted statement to me sent me over the edge. 

And then I couldn't stop crying! 

Dr. P, our ER physician, came to comfort me (thankfully!), where I declared my fears of being sent home with another diagnosis of anxiety. He stated that he as well was uncomfortable with that and ordered a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) to rule out infectious diseases. At this point Joseph's fever had spiked to 101. 

The lumbar puncture was absolutely terrible. Joseph was so out of it and tried desperately to fight us away (I would too!)   I bawled the whole time while holding his neck in place. 

Finally, results from his lumbar puncture revealed elevated levels of proteins as well as white blood cells. Neither of which are normal. Doctors immediately began antibiotic treatment and Joseph was pumped full of more antibiotics than I'll probably have in my lifetime. He slept off and on and was generally still confused. We were admitted to ICU where Joseph thought he was in Greenwood, that he was 13 years old, and that his name was Jesus. 

I'll be frank and honest, y'all. Our whole experience at MMH was horrific. From nighttime nurses that turned the lights on and didn't know how to work the IV pump (and were consequently training solo?!), to being told three different things by three sets of doctors daily. One day Joj would have viral meningitis. The next day chronic meningitis. To a brain infection. To a blood infection. To a lab mistake. To no meningitis. To acute migraines. To cluster headaches. To a virus???

Sunday night while at the hospital, Joseph had a numbness spell followed by the dreaded headache. The on call physician that came to check on him diagnosed him with anxiety, did not dare look at a newly developing rash, refused to call his infectious disease doctor, and I about flipped my shit. Thankfully level-headed Jarred was there too! We all got about two hours of sleep that night. 

When we were discharged Joseph was never told a definitive diagnosis. We were given no follow up plan. I asked Dr. Infectious Disease if we follow up with him: "Follow up with Dr. B". I asked Dr. B if we follow up with him: "follow up with your new headache specialist." "But we don't have a headache specialist. Do you have any recommendations?" "I invite you to look on the internet." 


We got home on Wednesday, December 10th around 7pm. Because of the bacteria found in Jojos blood he still had three days of antibiotic treatment to finish at home. So a home health nurse stopped by to teach me to start his meds via his IV. He's had two numbness/headache attacks since we've been home. I called Dr. Infectious Disease today to ask what to do as we feel all alone in his care and he advised I take him back to the ER. Ummmm, not. Gonna. Happen. 

Tomorrow we are calling some of the research hospitals around Texas to see what it will take to get him seen this week. As of now he has short term disability, but we don't really know when that will end being as how we are out of the hospital. Dr. Infectious Disease is suppose to be helping us get a referral to Scott and White. 

As for us, we pray a ton. We dread the night. I've started a new routine of nighttime showers because I've learned through all of this that we never know what the night/early morning will bring. We are frustrated. And tired. And feel hopeless and helpless for now. I know it will get better; it has to. I haven't worked in three weeks. Charley is taking it quite hard and doesn't understand that daddy needs lots of rest. Being super mom isn't really my thing; I'm just an average (at best) mom, so picking up the slack around the house, being the driver and the 100% caretaker is eating me Alive. 

We are grateful for friends and family. While we were in the hospital my mom cleaned and organized my whole house. She did about 20 loads of laundry. Val and Joe have watched the girls and stayed up with Liza through the dreaded ear infection nights. Jarred and Bree flew in from California. My sister came down. Friends showered us with food, goodies, gifts, and normal things like play dates. 

I don't know if our life will ever be the same. We need Jesus in the realest way possible. We need to be rescued from this and Joseph needs the healing hand of God. We need guidance on medical decisions and we need a bloody brilliant infectious diseases and neurologist. 

Pray pray pray, please. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


We have been busy with a lot of nothing and everything all at the same time. Here are some pics of the recent happenings: 

Our goofy girl! 

These cuties at Mr. Gatti's :)

Ummmm, Char, that's my bra. 

I hosted a baby shower for a girl at work and had a blast decorating. It was book themed so it was simple and sweet for her baby boy! Love this kind of stuff :)

Some pinwheels I made...

The sweets...


Charley and the "food table"! 

Something for the mommy to keep :)

Fireplace decorations. 

The same weekend I hosted the baby shower my dad came to town for a few days (no pics-what was I thinking!?) and we stayed in Greenwood one night since Jojo was out of town. Can you tell these girls love their Papaw!?


My gorgeous girl! 

I love how these images turned out! 

We played outside the entire time while in Greenwood. 

Halloween was last weekend and don't you know I had planned for us to all be Lego people from The Lego Movie. Ahem, my plans quickly changed ;) ...

Char was able to dress up for school as well. This was her farmer costume :)

The girls on Halloween. Say hello to Anna and Elsa! 

We trick or treated before it was dark!

And mommy dressed up as a cat. Daddy was a cowboy :)

A little train play at B&N...

With all my negative self talk about my body I decided to take some positive steps towards making a change. This is part of it :)

Some pics from Jojos thirtieth bday gift trip with his dear friend, Spencer. 

^^^that's them on the Rio Grande! 

Hope all is well in your world. Sorry if this was so choppy ;) 


Monday, October 20, 2014

Bran in Real Life

There's just no easy way. There is no "easy" way to be fit, be skinny, be happy, or all of the above. Gah.

Lately my emotional stability has been all over the place. It all started with a bad day at work, well, a terrible day, because some dumb girl straight up asked me to my freaking face if I had gained weight!!!! 


When I told her that yes, yes I have put on a little weight her reply was, "I thought you looked chubby. Chubby like baby Liza".  

So many things raced across my mind. Like please don't cry. Like go ahead and cry and make her feel bad. Like correct her for her "cultural mishap".  Like tell her to eff-off and run into a wall. But all I did was sit and take it, like a small person with No backbone, I just let someone belittle me and crush my spirit. Just thinking about it makes me cry. It began a spiraling effect that hasn't stopped and maybe will, maybe won't. But I do know a few things. 

I will someday be skinny again. 

I will someday find pleasure in the things that seem daunting to me right now. 

I will someday not be haunted by my weight and self image issues. 

So for now, I'll just talk about things that have made me happy during this weird up/down time I've had lately. 

-Seeing Baby Holland and watching all three girls play together. 

-Going to the airshow with the girls and watching Charley's face light up with joy at the airplanes!!!

-These two best friends who can just sit and talk :)

- Makinf "tooters" (tutus) for the girls. Liza modeling hers below: 

-A birthday celebration with some of our dearest friends. 

- This silly girl and her adorable outfit! 

- This precious baby! 

Writing and blogging is so good for my soul. It let's me moan and groan about the things I want to change and the down parts of my illness, but also shows me the good in my life too. I love to come back to these pages and think about how far I've come or how much more I need to grow. It's just a good place for me. I hope you enjoy it too, especially since it's been all over the place lately. The thing is, we all have our issues. We all have things that get us down and make us want to be better. Hopefully you can find some comfort and solace in this place in knowing that we aren't alone and have each other, our loved ones, and a big God.