Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Miracle Preceding the Miracle...

I am praying for the miracle of a new heart and new lungs that will allow me to take a deep breath, which is something I have never done before. I believe in miracles and I feel a peace and a calm reassurance that my family and I will be blessed with this miracle.  However, whatever the outcome of this journey will be, this is a truth... we have ALREADY EXPERIENCED A MIRACLE!

We have been overcome with emotion and gratitude these past few months as those around us have rallied to support us in so many ways. Our families, our friends, church friends, high school friends, facebook friends, CF friends, USANA friends, fellow bloggers and even strangers have enveloped us in a tight knit cocoon of strength and love that has held us steadfast in faith and hope. The fear, worry and anxiety that could abound in this situation has been completely replaced by gratitude and love. There is no time to be anxious, worried or afraid because I am too busy being overwhelmed by the innate goodness of people and absorbing the light and love being sent to me through Facebook, e-mails, my blog and our fundraising site!! It fills my heart and leaks out my eyes!!

There is a reason this blog is called Sharlie's Angels. No matter how difficult our challenges are, I believe our Father in Heaven is aware of every single one of us and knows exactly how to comfort and succor us. Throughout my life, I have been surrounded by these earth angels who lift me in my most vulnerable times. As we began this transplant journey, it was no exception. We have been so humbled by the angels that quickly encircled us during this time of need. Amazing things have happened since we started down this transplant road. As I said, it has been a MIRACLE. A series of miracles really. In my next few posts, I want to highlight a few of my angels and how they have helped ease our burdens.

To start this off, I want to express my gratitude to Jessica Erickson and Mique Provost.  In one of my earlier posts I wrote, "Ask NOT and ye shall RECEIVE!" Before I had even started this transplant process, Jessica urged us to set up a medical account so she could start fundraising for my upcoming transplant or any other medical costs. It's amazing how she perceived this need without me ever asking anything of her. That is the kind of friend she is. Jessica is truly like a sister to me and has always been there for me (for 24 years!!). Mique is also like a sister, a wonderful older sister! I love these girls and their whole family with all my heart. Yesterday I went online and discovered that Jess and Miq had put together this amazing shop. Seriously?! How did I get so lucky to have best friends like them?! See, I told you...ANGELS!

They appealed to the creative online community that they are an integral part of and so many of their wonderful friends who don't know me rallied around them. They donated tutorials, printables, and advertising spots. Each purchase made in the Shop will go straight to my medical fund.

These are the generous people that donated items for the shop:

 Aly from Blossom & Vine                                                   
Amanda from Every Creative Endeavor
Amy from the Idea Room
Andrea from Knitty Bitties
April from Funky Vintage Lovely
Ashley Ann from Ashley Ann Photography
Danyelle from Dandee Designs
Deanna from Domestic Chicky
Desiree from the 36th Avenue
Emily from Emily Sparks Handmade
Emmy from Much Ado About You
Heather from Angel Face Designs
Heather from Whipperberry
Jamielyn from i {heart} Nap Time
Julie from Joy’s Hope
Kendra from My Insanity
Kristyn from Lil’ Luna
Lara from Less Cake More Frosting
Linda from Craftaholics Anonymous
Lindsey from the Pleated Poppy
Megan from Brassy Apple
Nicole from Olive Blue
Rebecca from Simple As That
Stephanie from Somewhat Simple
Summer from Domestic Nest
Traci from Beneath My Heart
I am so grateful to Jess and Miq for their never-ending love and support and to all the women that stepped up to help them help me!! Angels abound!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Sweet Mother's Helpers...Summer update #2!

This summer when I got out of the hospital, we flew two of my adorable cousins here to help me with Harrison while I continued doing my treatments at home. What can I say? I wanted to adopt these cuties and never let them go home!!! We had a blast and Harrison absolutely loved all the extra attention! Unfortunately, the week went way too fast!

On one of the days they were here, Ric took the three of them on a Harbor Cruise. He got some great photos, here are a few of my favorites:
When he pulled into my mom's driveway, I cracked up at all of them conked out in the back of his truck! Evidence of a pretty fun day?!?
It was sure hard to let these girls go home to Utah. I made them PROMISE we would have a repeat week next summer and the next...

Not only were they such an incredible help to me at a time when I needed them, I also just had so much fun with them, watching movies before bed and staying up late talking, having them come to Young Women's with me, and seeing them interact with Harrison! I know the week they were with us will be a highlight of the year for Harrison but it was also definitely a highlight for me!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"God Bless You, Honey."

This is what a stranger said to me last week as I awkwardly attempted to maneuver my oxygen on wheels around tables and chairs to exit a restaurant. A week before that, in another restaurant, a girl waited for me outside the restroom as I took Harrison potty to hand me a note. I thought she was waiting for the bathroom but she just handed me this note and quickly walked away. The note said she would be praying for me and that she believed in miracles. It was a very humbling moment. People are SO GOOD.

I looked at the man who had said, "God bless you, honey" to me. He had kind and sincere eyes, and I held them for a moment and then smiled and said, "thank you." The familiar lump of gratitude rose in my throat (that lump of gratitude has been showing up a lot lately!) and stayed there the whole ride home. Because of the "lump," it was hard to talk, so instead I just reflected on a few things.

Can I share?

I remember when Lexi had to start wearing oxygen. It was hard for her and it was scary for all of us. I remember the first day she wore it to school and how she bravely rolled it into her fifth grade classroom and how crushed she was when a boy called her "tube-face." I also recall how strong she got (emotionally) and how she used humor to diffuse her self-consciousness. When she noticed people staring at her she would startle them by quickly looking at them and pulling a face or start coughing violently and comment loudly that she hoped she wasn't still contagious! She was constantly cracking us up. She also would dress up her tank and even gave it a name. Lexi, with wisdom beyond her years, made the best of her tough situation.

I have dreaded crossing the "CF milestone" of supplemental oxygen for years. Lexi only wore oxygen for a few years before she got listed and in my mind, I knew that when it came down to needing supplemental oxygen, the situation was serious. When I could not get my O2 sats to stay up this last hospital visit, I got "the oxygen lecture" from my Dr.. I will never forget him drawing his diagram on the white board in my room and saying matter-of-factly, "It's time Sharlie. You will be doing permanent damage to all of your organs if your sats keep dropping and you don't use supplemental O2." It was hard...and scary. I thought about Lex a lot. I determined to channel her strength and humor and just deal.

The first few days home were kinda tough. Ryan and I ran some errands and I was acutely aware of people doing double-takes and looking at me. I even heard a girl ask her mommy "why does that lady have that thing on her face?" Even though I was embarrassed, I just smiled. I was self-conscious and it was an adjustment that I wasn't sure I would get used to. One of those first nights home, I was putting Harrison to bed and I was performing one of our night-time rituals of telling him something on his face that I love and then kissing it. I would say, "i love your eyes" and then kiss his eyelids, and, "i love your cheeks" and then kiss his cheeks, etc. etc. After I was done kissing all over his face, he looked at me and said, "i love your oxygen" and reached his little head up to mine and kissed the tubing under my nose. It was a blessing, a tender mercy, an epiphany. As my eyes blinked back the moisture that threatened to spill over, I thought to myself that if Harrison loved me and accepted me with my funny oxygen tube face, then I really didn't care what anybody else thought. It was a little gift that allowed me to see myself through my son's eyes of love and love myself a little more in return.

Since then, I have come to appreciate my supplemental O2 on a whole different level. Yes, I still get frustrated sometimes with the feeling that I am on a leash and I still get self-conscious sometimes when I see people staring but, I also realize that this cumbersome little machine is a gift. It is not only helping me stay strong enough to get a transplant, but is also attracting love and light to me through genuine good people like the man in the restaurant. On the car ride home I realized...for the most part, people aren't staring, they are CARING. I know, cheesy, but I don't care. They are looking at me and feeling empathy, they are hoping that I'm okay and maybe even appreciating their healthy lungs a little more. I don't like to be scrutinized but I will take all the healing love and prayers I can get and if the tube on my face elicits more of that, I'm grateful.

I know God IS blessing me and I know he blesses the kind, caring and wonderful type of people who would say, "God bless you, honey" to a hopeful girl pulling an oxygen tank.