Smells like Friday night football, leaves changing colors, and pumpkins in the air!

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Happy Fall y’all!

I LOVE Friday night under the football lights. Who am I kidding, it doesn’t really matter what day it is–Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday..I’ll take it. But I don’t always love the game of football. Don’t get me wrong if it’s a NC State Football game I will be yelling at the TV any day. However if not then I might just watch for entertainment or pick a team to cheer for depending on the day. But that isn’t what I love about it. I love the environment. Whether I am out at the game or inside the house with friends, it’s some of the most memorable and exciting times of the fall. As the cold weather sets in I get excited to attend some of our last high school football games. (Were undefeated–YAY) as are they. That is one of the perks of being a teacher, takes you back to high school and reminds you of the chilly Friday nights in the cold bleachers eating nachos and yelling at the refs. Some things never change.

The last game I went to was at Havelock Highschool. This was the week that Matthew was getting ready to come in so it got rained out right before the end of the half. Let me tell you…this was a good game. Two undefeated teams, one chance to win. We still haven’t had a chance to finish this game but I have no doubt the 2nd half will be as epic as the first.

However when I was sitting in the stands, getting soaked I might add. (The things our teachers do for our students at WCHS :)) I was thinking about the last time I was there. It was for a play off game my first year of teaching two years ago. It was the end of october or early November so it was pretty cold this night. I went with a co-worker and we were bundled up as much as we could be. Due to the nature of cold weather, I already had a little sniffle and probably shouldn’t have been out at the game–but like I said–things we do for our students. 🙂 Well the one thing I remember is being super nervous about where we would have to park to walk to the gate. At this point in life I couldn’t walk very far without needing to stop or having my legs burn in pain. Of course we had a long walk to go and by the time I finally got to the bleachers it took everything I had to get up them. Once I sat down no matter how hard I had to use the bathroom–I was not getting up to go because I knew what a struggle it would be for me to walk down, across to the other side, and back. I spent the next week exhausted more than usual and probably developed strep throat or some other sickness. My heart was too weak. It couldn’t handle what was happening. My old heart would get sick at least 5 or 6 times a year with something really terrible. Pneumonia, strep throat, usually something like that. Knock on wood but I have yet to be sick with this new heart.

I think that is AMAZING. The things that you don’t think about when you ponder getting a new heart. I never thought I would be able to go back to the Havelock football field and not be nervous about where we parked, or not be nervous about walking up bleachers and looking really slow, or not be nervous about needing to go to the bathroom but being embarrassed and exhausted by the struggle it would take to walk there. But I did. A couple of weeks ago I stood on those bleachers and felt a feeling that I never thought I would. I thank God everyday for those feelings when they happen. I can’t wrap my head around them most of the time. Slowly but surely I am getting stronger. I am so blessed by my organ donor and their family, they have given me a whole new quality of life that I’m not sure they could ever fully understand.

I am praying for everyone effected by Hurricane Matthew but so many place near and dear to my heart are really hurting. Goldsboro, Grantham, Lumberton, Kinston, New Bern. So many places with amazing people who lost everything they have worked for. I pray that they are able to find some solace and peace during this time of tragedy. I pray that God puts his hands on these families and lets them have a peace that surpasses all understanding. That they know everything will be okay. It just will.

As we finally begin preparations of cleaning up this terrible tragedy I hope that some of you get out into the fall weather and celebrate it. Despite what hardship, what tragedy, whatever it is that your going through–take some time to remember that life is beautiful and that amazing things can emerge from storms that you are faced with. Take the time to go to a football game and find that feeling, or go wherever you get that excited feeling. Fall tends to remind us of how much we love life and bring a little bit of a breeze through the heat before we head into the chilliness of winter. So enjoy it, it only comes around once a year.

Until next time. ❤

 

 

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Gradation, Birthdays, Back to work, Oh my!

It’s been a while since I have taken the time to sit down, and just write. I love writing, so I don’t really know why I didn’t plan out time to write before. But now I am trying to do just that.

 

So a lot of things have happened throughout the last few months. I am happily living in New Bern, and I started back to work on June 1st. I helped wrap up testing and the end of the year, then started preparing for summer. I am SO excited to be back. I forgot how much I have missed consistency and having a routine. I got so accustomed to having a routine and a set way of doing things when I was in the hospital. By the time I got home, I almost felt lost. I no longer had these things. It wasn’t until I went back to work that I finally felt like I had gotten back to a somewhat normal life.

It was nice to see my students put on an awesome banquet and see our seniors achieve their dreams and graduate. So many of the seniors have amazing plans for the future and I look forward to seeing them accomplish those dreams!

There were many birthdays that happened since my last post, friends, family, my roommates, etc… However one of the ones I paid the most attention to was my own. I had a birthday 7 days ago. I have to admit, I wasn’t excited about having a birthday or better yet acknowledging that I was going to have one. I believe that part of that reason was because I was turning a quarter of a century. The big 25! Man I am getting old. I also don’t enjoy the ‘stresses of birthdays. Even if you aren’t planning your own birthday, it seems stressful. You have to make sure to invite everyone, figure out a day and time everyone can go, make sure everyone is having fun, find a place to eat, etc. It just seems a little more stressful then what you should feel on your birthday. But overall I think the reason was that nothing could beat last year’s birthday. It was simple, a small party in the hospital, but it meant so much. From the love expressed from friends, family and even the doctors and nurses all the way to the pizza and cake I was allowed to eat. But I didn’t have to plan anything or stress. It was just a little bit more special than normal. It is so very hard to explain. I loved my birthday this year and couldn’t have asked for anything better! My family came up to New Bern and we all went to eat and had a great time. So glad I got to show my family my new home in New Bern and the joys of downtown New Bern!

As far as I know medically things have been going great! I have my one year appointment coming up in July. A whole year!? I cannot believe it has already been a year. It still feels like yesterday. I think about it every single day. I think about my donor and their family every single day. Life is very different now then it was a year ago. There are many times I stop and wonder what I was doing in the hospital a year ago, exactly at this moment. Was I sleeping? Laughing? Visiting with others? Getting tests done? How was I feeling that day? Terrible? Happy? Sad? Frustrated? It is so hard to go back to those months as just a memory. It seems like it was only a few months ago, not a year. However as I approach a year I get more and more grateful for this life I get to live. I am happy and feeling great, I can’t ask for much more.

Thank you all for continuing to pray, send cards, and check in on me! I cannot tell you all how much it means and how much I appreciate it.

I hope everyone is doing well and getting ready for a great, but hot summer!

10 Things People on Prednisone Are Tired of Hearing.

So I had a biopsy today and it went good!! So far everything has come out great, the official results will be in later this week. Thank you all for the prayers when I was sick, finally after two weeks I think I am almost recovered. I look forward to getting back to exercising and things like that. I have finally been off prednisone for a month now! Hallelujah! Praise the big man upstairs!

If you have ever taken prednisone then you know that it is a horrible drug. It has nasty side effects that no one wants to deal with. It changes you in many ways that you never thought possible, and it’s all out of your control, there is nothing you can do about it. It’s one of the worst feelings in the world.

So I decided to write about my hatred for prednisone. Don’t take any of it personally, it just fun and games. If I have to be on it to keep living then so be it. 🙂

 

  1. Aww look at your chubby cheeks, they are so cute!

    Ah, to be a 6 year old again, surrounded by those family members who squeeze your cheeks. We know our cheeks are chubby, we look at them every day. Sometimes we probably even refer to ourselves as a Pillsbury dough boy or a chipmunk. Everywhere we go we seem to be acknowledged by that statement and then they proceed to pinch your cheeks as if you are five. Meanwhile all you want to do is explain exactly why your face is so chubby.

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  2. Why are you in such a bad mood?

    If you think a woman has a lot of moods when she’s PMsing, wait till you meet a woman who just had a heart transplant and is on extremely high doses of prednisone for months. It will go from happy to emotional eating, and then crying because we have gained weight, then back to emotional eating, to happy, to a deep sadness because flash back to Harry Potter and remember Dobys tragic death, and that’s just the first 10 minutes. Eventually we won’t know why we are crying or what we want to eat, but we will want to go see puppies to make us happy, I advise you to make us happy. 🙂 But all in all we can’t help it so try to forgive us, and realize that we don’t like the person this medicine makes us become either.

    pred1

 

  1. You’ve gained a little weight….or…You look sicker now then you did before.

 

We know we have gained weight. We realize it every day when we get up and try to fit in the clothes that we once were able to wear. We realize it when we look in the mirror, we realize it when we exercise every day of the week and have no change in weight. We realize it when we see the stretch marks left by the expansion and swelling. We realize it, you don’t have to tell us. But thanks for being so considerate.

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  1. Why are you so shaky? Nervous much?

No we aren’t nervous and we know we are shaky, eventually for us it is considered normal. Our handwriting is never good, forget trying to get a manicure, and please do not ask us to thread a needle. It is very frustrating to shake the way we do, it hinders things that we do every day. Sometimes the shakes are so uncontrollable that we just have to stop what we are doing and wait until things calm down. Eventually we will get it though.

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  1. You have um…mustache?Oh & it looks like you lost some hair? Are you tired?

    Why yes we are growing hair everywhere that we are not supposed to, including our chin and mustache.(for the women) But our hair on our head is actually thinning out and we seem to be shedding it extremely fast. Not to mention we get in bed at 9 oclock to go to bed and next thing we know its 3 am and we are still twiddling our thumbs. We no longer know what sleep is and our mind stays racing all night every night, so yes sometimes we do look tired because we have been up for many nights. Thinking about life before and after we got sick, thinking about our donor, rejection, food, the world, and anything else under the sun. However eventually we believe we will be back to a normal-ish person. (We hope)

  2. Oh I have been on that before, it is terrible!

    You know those people who try to one up you? The one’s that no matter what situation is they always had it worse or did it better. Those are the people who tell us that they understand what we are going through because they have been on it for a week for a virus. While yes, that probably was horrible, it was a week. I am sure there were some terrible side effects experienced but two weeks later you were better. For most of us that are on it long term, it is usually months or maybe years, or we may never get off of it because it helps us keep our organs pumping correctly. Therefore we experience the side effects for months and they will break you down to the very core because the side effects make you feel horrible, look horrible, and become horrible. While we understand and appreciate your sympathy and how you can relate, in reality it just isn’t the same.

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  3. It’s freezing in here, how are you hot??

    If you ever entered my hospital room you probably got confused on if it was a room or the arctic tundra. We can have some serious hot flashes. This medicine makes you go from cold to 110 degrees in a milli-second. I felt like I was experiencing early menopause, and night sweats would keep me up constantly.  So excuse us when we crank the ac down and freeze you out, we don’t mean to. Just dress warm.

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  4. You are still hungry? How?

    So yes we can eat a whole large pizza, mac and cheese, 5 cookies, and a Pb&j sandwich all in one sitting. We eat like we have never tasted food before, we eat like we have been homeless the past 5 years, but believe us — we can’t help it. It’s like your stomach is a bottomless pit. You eat but you just cannot get full. It takes over your emotions and your physical ability to not over eat. You are officially an uncontrollable garbage disposal & you can’t do anything about it. Just don’t judge us, you would understand if you were on it.

    pred

  5. So you are on steroids, you could be a body builder?

    I have not actually heard this one before, but I have some friends that have. No we are not on steroids that can help us to be body builders, instead they make us swollen on every part of our body that it can find. Maybe if we worked out 3 or 4 times a day we would have a chance at becoming a body builder, but since we just got our chest broken for transplant, probably not a good idea. Hey, ya never know though. Look for us in the strongest man competition next year. & yes I said man because between the facial hair growth and the body building, I’m sure we would all be men.

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  6. Are you expecting?

    So I was at my grandmother’s funeral in November. This lady approached to send her condolences and then we were standing in an awkward silence because we no longer knew what to talk about and the line was not moving. It was then with a bright eyed look she asked me if I was expecting. I really wanted to say “yea, expecting to eat a lot more” but I proceeded to laugh on the outside but on the inside I was crying and completely mortified. Not only was I swollen enough to look prego but all my clothes were too tight so it just added to the factor. However not as mortified as she was when I informed her I wasn’t I was just swollen from medicine I take for my heart transplant. Foot in mouth. Poor lady.  I laughed about it and still do but it was definitely a red faced moment for both of us. 😉

 

 

When I was sick these past couple of weeks I went to the doctor and he asked if I had ever been on prednisone and that he thought we should try that because it would get rid of whatever I had. I quickly told him……image

 

Until next time, stay strong & steadfast friends…….<3

Aloha From Hawaii!!

Okay, so maybe I am not still in Hawaii, but I had planned to write a blog while I was in Hawaii, but it didn’t work out as planned, so here it is.

I was blessed to be able to travel to Hawaii on Thanksgiving day until December 5th 2015. I was so excited when my doctors and transplant team approved me to go! You see my step brother was being commissioned into an officer position in the Navy so we went to see that and spend time with him, my step sister in law, and their son Parker. I was nervous about going at first, but I had a blast, and would have done it again in a heart beat.

Many people have asked me about the trip and what was my favorite part. Honestly my favorite part was getting to spend so much time with that part of the family. I don’t get to see them very  much and I had never really had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Megan and Parker. It was nice to get to know them and continue to fall head over heels with one of my cutest little nephews. I miss him so much! It was also really great to see Bryan achieve such a high honor, he has worked so hard. We are all SO proud of him, but were ready to have them back in the States! Especially with another baby due soon!

Hawaii was beautiful! As soon as we were off the airplane you could smell the salt air and feel the warmth. Literally you could, the airport was outside. We loaded up and received some beautiful real handmade lays. They smelled so marvelous and were gorgeous in color. We stayed with Bryan and the family in their condo in Waikiki. We got to go all around the island and see all different beaches. It was so interesting how they name each beach break. 3 tables, rock piles, Waimea, Pupukea, Banzai, Turtle Bay, and of course pipeline.

Pipeline is where they hold some of the big surf competitions. We went one afternoon and saw 20 foot waves and surfers were out riding them. The swells were massive compared to what I have seen here. This beach also houses many famous houses for surfers and other people, such as: the Volcom house, Jack Johnsons house, and Billabong. There was a surf competition going on when we were there but not at pipeline, that’s where they were headed for the next competition. We went and saw the whole set up for the surf competition, cameras, screens, bleachers, just like you see on television. It was pretty cool. We also rode by where they have the Eddie Vedder surf competition but they haven’t held it in like 15 years because the waves have to be like at least 25 or 30 feet.

We got to tour the old sugar mill, the soap factory and one of my favorites the pineapple factory. We got to take a train and learn about how they grow all of their crops, including pineapple. This was really cool for me because of course I love agriculture and took a lot of pictures that I can show students when I got back. We also got to have fresh pineapple and pineapple ice cream, all of which were amazing. It tastes so much better fresh then it does here.

The food was phenomenal. Whether it was out to eat or at home, everything we got was pretty good. We enjoyed good pizza at Kona Brewing company, good home cooked thanksgiving meal(thanks Megan!), some great burgers and shrimp po boys from some of the coolest food trucks. A 4 course meal from a great downtown place with an amazing view of the water, and much more. The food and groceries are MUCH more expensive there then they are here. A burger can run ya ten dollars and a gallon of milk sometimes can run you 13 dollars. It’s crazy at some of the prices that are so much higher. It is also a lot heavier populated than people think. Some people think of an Island where people walk and ride bikes every where and it is very small. That’s not the case. It’s one of the most populated cities in the world. At rush hour you would get confused on if you were in Honolulu or Beijing. They have a lot of people and a lot of homeless people who go there thinking it will be better and its not. The housing is also astronomical compared to here, however, almost any where you live there you can guarantee a quick drive or walk to the beach, so that’s nice.

We got the chance to go to the Pearl Harbor memorial on the day of Bryans commissioning ceremony. It was so moving. I hated history class, I usually fell asleep, although when your 14 and just got a pacemaker or dealing with a mother in the hospital recovering from transplant surgery, history is far from your mind. However despite that I LOVE learning historical stuff in person at things like memorials. One of my favorite history classes was one in college where I got to go to Washington DC for part of the class. The video you watch at pearl harbor is so moving, it takes you back to that time and to that place. When you step out onto the memorial you, the silence and respect automatically comes as you listen about this gravesite for the soldiers from the USS Arizona. The family members of those fallen and the rest of the crew that survived voted to keep this a their burial site, their grave, instead of trying to recover any bits that may be left in the sunken sea. If you look below you can see the USS Arizona as it remains sunken. There is still at least a quart of oil leaked out every day from the ship. You could see it mixed with the water. Some people consider it the tears of the soldiers who rest there. This memorial is used to honor those lost, and those that continue to serve. Certain military accomplishments or ceremonies can be celebrated in these waters or on the memorial. Those who were part of the USS Arizona crew that survived that dreadful attack—once they pass away they request that their ashes be scattered with the sunken ship, so they are reunited with their mates.

This was the perfect place for Bryans commission ceremony. It really was a great achievement and a happy day for all. He gave a wonderful speech, and was presented with many honors which were well deserved. One of his superiors told a story of when they had a team out on a submarine and Bryan was on it. They had a part that was broke and if it did not get fixed they would not be able to breathe because it was a piece dealing with the oxygen. After putting their best men on the job the captain called in Bryan and told him the job he needed him to do. Bryan accepted and worked diligently to find a solution to the problem. It was getting close to T time and he had gone through all the parts he could find on the submarine and couldn’t find what he needed to work. When he decided to go running to clear his head he realized that what he needed was within the treadmill. He took the treadmill apart and got the piece he needed and repaired the broken part. He is tremendously smart and has been going to school while working and providing for a family, we are all so proud.

Many of our days were spent lounging at the beach or driving to different parts of the island. Which was fine by me. Since I missed most of the summer here in NC it was so nice to experience a week of it there in Hawaii. The water was so blue and gorgeous, I actually got in and swam once! We got to see some really big Ohanu’s (turtles) and swim with them. We got to see an island called China Mans hat and a blowhole! There were so many beautiful sunsets and breathtaking moments. One of the coolest parts was driving on roads and one side would be a beautiful beach and the other side would be a lustrous green mountain. They have all kinds of terrain. There mountains are gorgeous. They are so green and so untouched by man, kept and preserved by many of the native Hawaiians. That makes them all the more special.  I was just so happy to be able to be there. I would have LOVED to do some of the hikes they have, but physically I am just not quite there yet, but I plan to go back before they come home and do one! Maybe the one called dead mans catwalk?

I can honestly say it was a trip to remember for so many reasons, I was just so blessed to be able to make the trip, I thank God and my donor and their family everyday for that.

Until next time. ❤

You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them.
Psalm 89:9

So, you pay for your friends?

This is a statement that girls in sororities and guys in fraternities hear very often. When we tell people that we are in a social fraternal order then it automatically means we paid to have friends.

I will admit. I was one of those people before I actually learned what a sorority was all about. I joined the Eta Upsilon chapter of Kappa Delta at NC State University my Sophomore year of college. I had always been intrigued by the idea but never saw myself as a “typical” sorority girl. Kappa Delta was the new sorority on campus so  I figured I would give it a try since I knew a few people that had rushed the year before and really enjoyed it. Turns out, I don’t really think we had a “typical” sorority girl in our group. We were made up of a unique group of driven young women, the same as many other sororities. I wouldn’t say that different sororities are better or worse than ours, they are just different. Rush is about learning how they are different and where you best fit in, for some people it may be Zeta, others Chi-Omega, some Delta Gamma, for me it was Kay Dee.

The first night I met the girls they had decided to go ice skating, I didn’t know anyone  and I was not a great ice skater so I was a little nervous. However soon after being there I saw I had nothing to worry about. These girls were super nice and all very different, I knew then and there that this could be a group of girls that I would enjoy getting know.

Throughout the next 4 years I spent many moments with these girls. From living in the old KD house to living in the new KD mansion, there was never a dull moment. From hating rush to loving it by the end because those were moments with my sisters that I would live to never forget. Some of my best friendships were formed from this connection, friendships that I probably would have never made if it weren’t for joining Kappa Delta.

Most people think anyone that is in a sorority or fraternity has to be loaded and have a lot of money. That’s not the case. I worked really hard throughout highschool to get scholarships to help pay for my schooling. Then I worked even harder during college to help pay for extracurricular things such as being in Kappa Delta. My parents didn’t pay any of it, I worked hard for it, because I wanted to. So what exactly did I pay for if I didn’t pay for my friends? Well I paid for myself to live in the house for one year and then the other money goes to help with maintenance, the chef, and the many activities that we have throughout the year. These range from formals, to date nights, to girls night, crafting adventures, Zumba, intramurals, sky zone trampoline jumping, ice skating, and so much more. I paid to do these fun activities, the amazing girls I met and friendships I made were just a plus.

Sororities actually give back to the community. Every year we raise money for prevent child abuse America. We also work very closely with the local girl scouts to help them learn to become confident, independent, strong women. We have many opportunities for leadership within the chapter and are constantly trying to make our chapter, school, community, and ourselves better. We participate in homecoming week and go all out to show our support of the Wolfpack. Kappa Delta wasn’t just an organization I was apart of, it was much more.

These girls have been here for me through so much. From long nights during rush, to study groups, helping me be PR vice president, allowing me to miss things for state FFA officer obligations, from being there when my cousin had a brain aneurism and was in the hospital to graduation, and even this past summer when I was admitted to the hospital. A few of the girls came to see me and those are some of the friendships I will always cherish. I got cards and messages from others, reminding me that I had a whole support system a few miles down the road. I also had the opportunity to get close with some of my professors who were Kappa Delta alumni. They are now mentors, friends, and like family of my own, another connection that would not have been as strong without Kappa Delta.

In November some of the Kappa Delta girls and guys from Alpha Gamma Roe contacted me about doing a fundraiser to help me pay some hospital bills. I was surprised and excited about this opportunity. The whole greek community helped raise money for me. I got to attend the even and it was ag Olympics in Greek Village. It was a blast, I got to meet new sisters, reminisce with old sisters, and hangout with some of the wonderful guys of AGR– some old friends and some new. It brought tears to my eyes as I once again was reminded why I joined this amazing sisterhood. I cannot Thank them enough for their generosity and love they continue to show me. Thank you to the good guys of AGR for helping a stranger. ❤

These girls & guys are going to do amazing things, and I would happily pay for the experience, the friendship, the memories, and the sisters, all over again if I had the chance.

Go Greek. AOT & Love Always.

Until next time,

Ta Kala Diokomen
“Let us strive for that which is honorable, beautiful and highest.

 

 

Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas!

Well I just celebrated 5 months since my heart transplant. Wow, I cannot believe its been that long ago. I am reporting to you all from the comfort of my mothers house in Rosewood. First of all let me apologize for my absence. I’ve been busy and had a bit of a writers block. Not saying that I didn’t have much to say–I can always find something to talk about, I just lacked motivation to do so. But tonight, it felt necessary.

Every year we gather around a tree and open presents from loved ones and sip hot coco while singing Christmas carols. Right? In reality, this picture perfect Christmas never happens. We usually end up running to Walmart at 8 on Christmas Eve and spending all our time stressing about cooking or wrapping presents. Sometimes Christmas comes and goes and we end up wondering where we were when it visited? Sometimes we act like Christmas is just another day and not the day of birth for our savior.

However, this year it taught me so much more. I have always been humble and understood the REAL reason for Christmas. But until this Christmas, I never really stepped back and took a look at it all. This Christmas was a unique Christmas for my family. It was a Christmas that I was not sure I would live to see. It was a Christmas without my papa and grandma, a Christmas without a tart gathering, a Christmas where I imagined a family in the hospital celebrating with their loved ones who are blessed to have another day. It was a Christmas that was filled with thoughts of a family, missing their child and not knowing the gift they gave to me. This Christmas was different.

I have been having a really rough time lately when it comes to matter of appearance. I have obviously gained some weight thanks to the prednisone I am taking and it makes it really hard for me to feel good about life. I go to therapy and workout but show no progress and that makes me sad and makes me want to go home and eat a tub of ice cream. However lately I have been reminded that family, friends and God all love you no matter what. If they don’t they are not your true family or friends. I just want to thank everyone for helping me when I am in that rut and reminding me that this new heart is WELL worth it and that outward appearance is not something to be obsessed over, its the inside that matters.

 

As my brother said a blessing and thanked the Lord for getting us through this difficult year and thanked him for the many miracles in our family; I was moved to tears. I looked around and was reminded how thankful I was for these people and the fact that I got to be here for another Christmas. It was an emotional couple of days as there were many simple moments that had me just wanting to cry.

As Scotty McCreery says in one of his Christmas songs, there is something about this time a year, that makes you wanna start living right now, right here. This is a time of year for love, forgiveness, and most importantly thankfulness. Hold your loved ones a little closer this day, you never know when it will be your last Christmas with them.

I had a wonderful Christmas! I got to spend some time Christmas eve with my dad and Ms. Pam and my brother and Brooke. Today I woke up and tried to help clean a little and then we had a crowd around 12 oclock. We eat lunch at my moms house and had about 20 people join us in this celebration. We shared some amazing food, good laughs, and made countless memories. Then after everyone left and we cleaned up we found that Santa had visited while we were cleaning! So we did that and then relaxed and watched National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, such a fun movie. You serious Clark? If you are wondering what Santa brought me, I say he brought me a heart, because that is my big gift that I am so thankful for!! However I also got some living room furniture for the house, some clothes, a blender, some money, and a bear, I think I have decided to name him Mr. Braveheart. You will hear all about him soon!

To my donor family, wherever you are- know that my heart is with you. Please know I love you and thank you for the gift you’ve given me. I know this Christmas was really hard, but you have had many thoughts and prayers going your way.

Lastly THANK YOU, to all of you. My supporters, followers, friends, family, strangers, and so forth. Thank you for helping me get through this year, knowing that I can try and help you all in some way is what continues to get me through. Thank you for taking the time to read my lousy writing and see into my life from my perspective. Thank you, for loving me as thy neighbor.

&& to all a goodnight! Happy Birthday Jesus! ❤ 🙂

Until next time…

OH! I will be posting about my trip to Hawaii and such soon as well! 🙂

Happy Holidays!! I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!

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To the Guy at the Cheesecake Factory….

It has now been 3 months since my transplant. Every day the reminder of it just seems unreal. The thought of what has happened can still bring me to my knees and produce an overflow of tears if I think about it too much. Life is….different.

I’ve gotten used to the stares. I actually don’t even notice them anymore. When I wear my mask it is expected that people are going to wonder why I am wearing it and what my story is. I always enjoy when people ask, I will share as long as they want to know. Some people just think I am probably sick and do their best to run the other way. But some actually care and want to know. Others make jokes about it and give me a good laugh. Those comments are always welcome, I love a good laugh. The best though is the children, so young and inquisitive. They either stare in wonder or they stare because they are scared. Then they ask the constant questions, out loud of course. “Mommy why she is she wearing that mask”, and then the mother gets a little embarrassed because I heard them ask that question. But honestly its cute and provides a smile for me.

A little over a week ago I had my biopsy. I will admit that since it had been a month since my last biopsy I was rather nervous. For some reason something just felt off. It was almost as though things were going so good that I half expected to receive bad news just because it was about time to throw a wrench into things. I expect I will have these feelings for a long time each time I head up to chapel hill again. It sometimes makes me so nervous I don’t even make plans for that week, cause I fear I wont be available to follow through with them–instead be hospitalized.

Well God knew that these feelings were on my heart. After my biopsy we decided to go for lunch at the cheesecake factory. We had sat down and began looking at the menus and the guy at the table across from us approached the table and said ” I am really sorry to interrupt but God has been telling me to come over here and pray over you” would that be okay? I sat in disbelief that this guy was so courageous to impose his beliefs on a total stranger. I knew right then that this was a sign, stop worrying Caroline, God has you in the fold of his loving arms. I told this man my story and then he prayed with us. It brought smiles and tears to all of our eyes as we thanked him for that moment. Him and his family or friends, whichever they were left soon after and wished us a blessed day and said they would continue to pray for me. I don’t know who this man was but….Thank you. I hope one day this posts finds you and you can see how much that one moment touched my life. I am forever grateful for your love and compassion that you showed me. In a world where people are shot and crucified for voicing their love for Jesus and their Christian faith, it makes my heart happy to see that others don’t let that stop them from shining their light. The only way to rid the evil in this world is to try to be the good. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Well the good news is I did get the biopsy results back and had ZERO rejection again. I repeat ZERO rejection. This is awesome! It is very rare that someone this early in would have zero, usually a one percent or so is found. However my heart is beating strong and doing great. I have also been doing therapy and it is going really well. It is helping me get stronger each day. Friday I decided to tackle the scary elliptical. It was extremely hard to do. My goal was to make it to 10 minutes. I did eventually and I was so proud of that but it was hard work. Yesterday however I made it a whopping 23 minutes! I was so proud. I am excited to see what this new heart can do, but my muscles have to catch up. Laying in the hospital bed really deteriorated them quite a bit.

As the holidays are approaching I am excited to be able to celebrate and be here with my family. However it is always going to be a reminder that somewhere a family is missing their daughter. I will continue to pray for them all the days that I am blessed with.

I will have some exciting news coming soon.

Until next time….
90bed4621e7bf86cacc4be613a7aa7be

#tartgotaheart #heart4tart

This one’s for you, Sue.

2 months and 21 days post transplant….

I am so happy to report that I am alive and doing well. I finally started rehab officially this past week. Friday was my first actual session. It went really well! I did 20 minutes on the treadmill and 20 minutes on the bike. It was amazing the difference that I can already tell. Before surgery I was lucky to make it up a flight of stairs without stopping for a breather much less make it 20 minutes just walking on the treadmill. This time it was no longer my heart that gave out but rather my muscles that were not used to the exertion! I am so excited to get them in shape and continue to experience this new-found joy that my donor has blessed me with. I go back for a biopsy on the 12th so I am praying that all stays well.

I haven’t written in a couple of weeks, and I know some of you might have been questioning why. I have even had a few people ask me about my noticeable silence. Am I done writing? No. Will I stop writing since my transplant part of my journey is over? No. I feel that I still have plenty to say and whether or not people want to read it, well I guess that is up to them.
The reason I haven’t written in forever is a simple complicated one. I have tried to sit down and write this blog several times and every attempt failed. I was at a loss for words for the past two weeks concerning this subject. I am not sure I can do this blog post justice for the woman whom it is dedicated to, but I sure am going to try.

sue hood hill
Meet Sue Hood Hill, such an amazing, talented, and beautiful lady!

If you are from the Grantham community then you have probably heard of Sue hood Hill. Maybe you are a close friend of hers or her families, maybe you attend church at Selah where she goes, maybe you have worked with her at Princeton, maybe you just saw her at different things around the community. Well if nothing else, lately you have probably heard or seen many posts asking for prayer for her and her family. You see two weeks ago Sue got very sick and was taken to the ER and then to Rex hospital. It was eventually discovered that she had a cancerous brain tumor. Thank the good Lord they were able to give her some medicine and help stabilize things so she could still make it to her sons wedding that next weekend. I was not at the wedding but from the pictures it looked beautiful, humbling, and special in every way. I know her family and friends were so happy that she could be there, as well as her son Morgan and new daughter in law. However when the next week rolled around the magic stopped and the real world was faced once again.

This is the most recent update on Mrs. Sue, from her sweet daughter Jordan whom I have always loved and admired, she is a beautiful, talented and very comical girl….

Day 15:

Nearly three weeks ago Sue started showing symptoms of what appeared to be a virus. Wednesday, September 16th she came home from school feeling very exhausted. She thought she was getting sick, so she went to bed early. The next morning, she woke up and attempted calling her go-to substitute and after the phone call…. “forgot” to call the school. I came over later that day to find her in her chair looking rough. She told me she had only been out of bed about 30 minutes (it was 5:40pm). I had a doctor’s appointment the next day (Friday) at Duke, so I asked her if she still planned on going with me.. to which she said she was, and was going to work for half a day prior. The next day, I attempted picking her up from school, but she was not at Princeton when I got there. I called her and she answered saying she was at McDonalds in Smithfield (we had not discussed this as a possible meeting spot). I left Princeton, and asked her to get me some food… when I got there, she had got me something completely different from I asked. I offered to drive (she looked like she felt awful), and on the trip to Durham she seemed off. Once we got to Durham, everything went downhill. While walking towards the building, she fainted in the parking lot. I picked her up off the asphalt and a lady inside, who saw her fall, ran out with a wheelchair. Once we got her in the wheelchair, she began vomiting. We got her under control, and the lady insisted I go inside to my appointment. Needless to say my blood pressure was high when they were working me up. I finished upstairs (the lady came up to my room and reassured me that everything was okay during my appt)…and when I came down she looked worse. I asked her if she wanted me to wheel her out to the car…. and she immediately began vomiting again. Fast-forward to the car ride home, she was fine… it took us 2.5hrs to get home… but she was fine. The next morning however, she walked into the living room and couldn’t figure out why she had left her room. A quick trip to Immediate Care resulted in them sending her directly to the ER… and after a CT Scan, we got the news that she had a malignant brain tumor. What started out as a virus, turned into our worst nightmare. It has been 15 days since then. In only 15 days we have found out that it was inoperable and that our time will be limited no matter what happens with treatment. In the past two days, she has been able to tell us her birthday, home phone number, address, and recite the entire “Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech” Chant. She does not know what month it is, the year, her anniversary, the year she graduated high school, or any other persons birthday. So, the two times I asked her to do the “Ramblin’ Wreck” Chant, and the fact she didn’t hesitate to do it perfect either time, was quite impressive. This weekend has luckily been uneventful, which has been great for her to rest. Tomorrow we meet with Dr. Kasbari to find out where we go from here. We have no idea where we will be 15 days from now, but we can only hope for the best!

Thank you all for your continued prayers.

As you can tell, this isn’t a cold or the flu or anything to be taken lightly. I love Ms. Sue and her family. She has done so much for myself and my family over the past few months and it just brings tears to my eyes to even talk about what they are now going through. Ms. Sue is loved so much in our community, she would never harm a flea and has a very special place in the hearts of many children as she served them as a special education teacher. Some of my favorite letters I got in the hospital were given to me by some of her classes. I cannot express how many messages she sent me just checking on me and praying for me. When I attended the benefit and was able to go back to church, her face was one of the many that I was very excited to see again. It was a shining light no matter what the day was going to hold.

Therefore it should be no shock that when I saw the news on Facebook two weeks ago, I was speechless. I did not know what to say, what to think, or what to feel. I do not know the reason or rhyme and cannot fathom an understanding for the situation. My first remote thought was why? What a tragic thing for this beautiful family to be facing. This amazing woman who does so much for the community and has so much love in her heart is facing the hardest battle any of us could face; death. My next thought was: they should get a second opinion, they should go somewhere better, there has to be something else that can be done. However for me of all people to say that is astonishing. I know that if someone had told me that same thing in May I would have firmly said no, I trust my doctors and have faith in the plan, there is no second opinion needed, it is what it is. Therefore I can understand why the family and Ms. Sue have full faith in their doctor’s diagnosis and believe that he will do everything possible to prolong her life. After a while, once the shock had settled, my final thought was “God’s got this.” I have firm belief in my Lord and I do believe that for everything there is a rhyme and a reason. I know we are not always going to understand it at that moment or maybe ever, but I know it is all part of something bigger than I.

So why was that not my first waking thought when I heard of the tragic news? Why have I not gone around and proclaimed the miracle that I believe will be? Today at church my preacher, Patrick, preached directly to me on this subject. It has been so heavy on my heart these past few weeks and I believe that the Lord laid it on my preachers heart because he knew I needed it. Today he spoke about miracles and about faith. He spoke of Peter and how he doubted the Lord and therefore started sinking instead of walking on the water. We as humans have this same faith, we seem firm and all-knowing of it–until tragedy hits. Then we slowly retract, doubting our all loving savior. Yes I believe that the things that man can do are amazing. The fact that they are able to take a human heart from one body and put it in another is an amazing medical success. However I believe behind that, the Lord does the work. He leads their hands, he knows the outcome that will come, no matter the situation. I believe that if it is time for someone to leave this world then there is nothing our human hands can do to stop that. But yet we still have this waiver of doubt, we don’t want to proclaim our Lord and savior to be the almighty miracle maker and yet tragedy continues to strike. This is exactly why it has been so hard for me to write this post lately, because I- a firm believer in my God and my savior & do not want to proclaim that he can move mountains and continue to make miracles happen and then it not happen. However I am humbly reminded – I am not in control. I have experienced too many miracles in my own life and my own family that are the work of the Lord. So who am I to keep quiet when it comes to the majesty of my God? Who am I to be afraid to share my faith in the Lord and what he does? My story is about the Lord and what he does in a human heart, so who am I not to share it? Despite my fears, despite the doubts that try to creep up, despite any obstacles that arrive. Who am I to hide behind the uncertainty? No matter what MY GOD and MY SAVIOR is still in the miracle making business. So here I am proclaiming it: God makes miracles happen every single day, others may call it luck, coincidence or an amazing medical discovery. Call it what you want but I believe where man can not touch something like Mrs. Sue’s tumor–he can. So I continue to pray every single night that he does just that. I also pray that whatever HIS plan may be, I will do my best to understand without doubt and without reason. I am not naive and saying that I know my Lord will prolong Sues life for many years, but I am saying I believe in his plan–whatever that may be and I pray that no matter what may a miracle arise from the situation. 

In my future I hope to meet many transplant patients, before as well as after their transplants. They will come from all walks of life, they will have different backgrounds, be different ages, have different doctors, and have completely different medical situations. The hardest part will be facing a family of a patient who did not make it to be happy and healthy after transplant like I have, I have been through that with my Aunt Donna and it was very hard, we miss her dearly. Those will be times that I won’t understand why my situation turned out one way and theirs another. I won’t be able to tell any patients that I know they will turn out just like myself, shoot I can’t even predict my own future, let alone anyone else’s. I will continue to struggle with these things, but in the end it will be okay, because I know my God. I will witness to them in any way that I can and pray that they see what he has done physically and spiritually in my heart. “The greatest tragedy in life is not unanswered prayer, but un-offered prayer.” B.B. Meyer.

I hope that all of you reading this will pray for Ms. Sue and her family as they face this situation. Pray for them to have unwavering faith despite the obstacles they are faced with. I know it will be a tough journey ahead for them, but I pray for God to give them some sense of peace in all the chaos.

I also pray that each of you, whatever you are going through, continue to keep the faith and fight the good fight, I know it’s not always easy, but one day it will all be worth it.

Until next time…..

god is good

#heart4tart

A Bud of Hope

Good evening! 3 days away from hitting the 2 month mark! Wow time flies! Quick update: i am doing well. I had a biopsy on Wednesday and the preliminary stuff looks good but I dont have any official results. There was also a mix up with the rehab so I cant start that until this coming week. I was a little bummed but it will happen in due time! For now I want to share the story of The Harrison family. I became good friends with Camille Harrison through a non profit group called the Grange. We have been friends for years and I am very sad to see her family go through such a hard time. Please read Buds story below and help if you can. Please Pray for this beautiful family! 

Fourteen-year-old Zachary (Bud) Harrison was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma on June 24, 2015, one month after his father passed away. His family needs your help with overwhelming medical expenses.Bud Harrison of Newton Grove, North Carolina loves drawing, superheroes, and action figures. He especially enjoys drawing pictures of his superhero action figures! Like 14 year old kids across the nation, he is excited to start high school in the fall.

On May 23, 2015, Bud and his family unexpectedly lost their father, Rick Harrison. Rick taught them to live life to the fullest and laugh every day. Soon after his father’s death, Bud became ill. “Before being hospitalized, we were attributing Bud’s symptoms to grief from the loss of our father,” said Bud’s sister, Emily Harrison. One month after Rick’s death, Bud was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The Harrison’s situation is emotionally and financially draining. Many things that were supposed to be taken care of following Rick’s passing had to be put on the back burner, which added to the stress and anxiety of an already overwhelming situation. The Harrison family is hoping to raise $10,000 through this Red Basket story to help reduce their financial stress. “The money received will go toward medical bills accrued during Bud’s one-month-long in-patient stay at Duke, travel expenses to and from Durham, and the expense of a special school while in the hospital,” said Emily.

As Bud’s battle continues, let’s help reduce the Harrison family’s financial stress. Each tax-deductible donation will allow the Harrison family to focus on what’s most important of all – Bud’s wellness.

   
   
https://redbasket.org/569/buds-battle

https://redbasket.org/569/buds-battle
Above is a link to donate to Bud and his family. Please keep him and myself in your prayers. 

Until next time…..

#heart4tart #tartgotaheart 

  

#VT4CT

In two days I will have been out of the hospital a whole month and a few weeks from 2 months post transplant! Wow! God is good. Thinking back a year ago as I started my first year of teaching, this is never the journey I thought I would be on so soon. Its funny how God surprises you in every way.

I am still doing well. My official results from my biopsy looked GREAT! Still rejection free! Hallelujah! I got blood work done yesterday so that will look good too I am sure. My next biopsy is the 14th and I start rehab on the 8th. I am very excited about that because maybe then I can start to get some more stamina and strength back.

Speaking of strength and stamina….I bet some of you did not know that I played volleyball all throughout highschool. Yes I was diagnosed with a heart issue in 6th grade and at that point my whole life fell apart. I LOVED SPORTS. I was a little tom boy at its finest. However when this happened I had to give up most of my dream to be a professional athlete. I was allowed to play softball and volleyball up until the 8th grade. I also gained an interest in golf but slacked off on it because it “messed my softball swing up”. So in highschool I was approved to play volleyball only–with limitations and I had to promise to not overdue it. Well that went well until October of my freshmen year my heart decided it wanted to be difficult and it started fading out on me.


 I had been passing out a few times that summer. Each time thinking it was dehydration or something. However if you have never passed out you can’t understand how scary of a feeling that can be. One minute you are fine and the next minute you are laying on the ground with people all around you and you can’t remember how you got there. The first time I passed put I was at one of my favorite summer camps, Grange Camp at the eastern nc 4-H center. We had finished a night of country line and swing dancing and as we are walking out I remember saying I can’t see anything and then waking up with people all around me. I remember distinctly saying please don’t call my mom, please don’t call her. See I knew the consequences of this would be no volleyball.


 Well of course they called and this happened several times more but we did not read into it too much. We probably should have and mom probably should have noticed these were the same signs and symptoms she had when she needed a pacemaker but like all mothers she wanted so badly for that not to be the case that she blocked it out. Well it happened the final time in October 2005. The varsity team was undefeated at Rosewood that year. It was awesome. We had such a talented and awesome group of girls playing. It was our first playoff game and I had gotten pulled up for the game. I remember warming up and being so pumped about the game! But during warm ups I started not feeling so great. I was a little light- headed and dizzy and started seeing black-spots, so I went and took a break on the bench. I thought maybe it was because of lack of food or water so they got me a gatorade and some food and I tried that–Still wasnt any better. Next thing I know I am laying out on the bench because I couldn’t will myself to sit up, I was just so weak feeling. My mom got there and they decided to call the Local EMTs to come hook me up to the monitors and just make sure it was okay. Mr. Gurley helped pick me up and as soon as he did I passed out in his arms. I came too when we got into the locker room and they started hooking me up to stuff. My heart rate was in the mid 20s to low 30s. They immediately put me in the ambulance and rushed me to Wayne Memorial where I was then airlifted by myself to chapel hill. I don’t remember much else because I was in and out that night. I know I was worried cause I was going to miss one of my best friend Julie’s birthday party which I was going to go to after that game. I also remember as they unloaded me on the tarmac at chapel hill they were talking about how young I was and how unfair it was. But mostly I remember my nurse at Wayne, Ms. Woodard, she held my hand the whole way and kept me calm amd comforted since mom had to leave and get a head start to chapel hill. Thank you for that. I spent a week in the hospital during this trip to get my pacemaker. The team came to visit and called after every game, it was an awesome volleyball season and they havent been undefeated since. I was so happy to be able to be a small part of that team and their talented skills. We joked if they made it to the playoffs I was still gonna be sitting the bench even if I had to be wheeled out there. They were so close. They were a forced to be reckoned with.

  
After I got my pacemaker I had to beg and plead for my doctor to allow me to play volleyball again. But knowing how much I loved it, he agreed. He even agreed to let me play travel volleyball! The stipulations got a little tighter and my coach got a little stricter on what she would and wouldn’t allow. I always ran with a water bottle and ran at my own speed. She pulled me out when she thought I needed a break and if I felt off, I was sure to let her know. One of my best friends and I had positions next to each other, she was a setter and I was an outside hitter. She had a way of knowing if I needed a break and she would mischievously untie her shoe so that she could take a second for a time out so I could catch my breath, it was always much appreciated. I even showed my appreciation by breaking her nose in one game. I would like to say I spiked her in the face or we got in an epic fight but unfortunately it was more of just a lack of communication. Neither of us called the ball loud enough I guess and when I swung back to hit it I elbowed her nose and broke it. She had to wear a facemask the rest of the season. 😦 Needless to say we were the handicaps on our team.


 Those four years I made so many memories. I made friends that became sisters. A coach that became a mentor, friend, and overall one of the most kind and caring math teachers that I know. Memories of going to the beach after one of our playoff games just to feel the sand between our toes, going to eat after games, that time when our stuff was stolen off of our bus at Logan’s, Bojangles every morning on game days before school, willy hotdog runs on home game days, seeing Mr. Henry in the stands, changing on the bus, singing and dancing on the bus, playing pranks on each other and our coach, running when we got in trouble, when the Ashley’s got in a fight, the many clipboards that coach broke, finally becoming one and so much more. This team and coach taught us all so much.

  
Volleyball is a huge part of my life and of my heart. So I was so honored when I heard they wanted to do a tournament for me. It was so much fun to watch but I was itching to get back out there and play, and I plan to next year. They are hoping to make it an every year tournament to do in my honor and the proceeds will start a scholarship fund for a player each year. I think that would be awesome and I would love to be a part of it!


 We had a really good turnout. 13 teams came to play and plenty of spectators. Thank you to everyone who came out! I got to see some of my favorite teams play such as a combo team of 05-06 and 06-07 named The purple and old. which included Kasey gray, Courtney Hill, Mary Jo Moore, Aubrey Reinhardt, Christina Bruton and roodle chic Kasie Braswell. Then of course a team that had alot of players that I spent a great deal of time with- Ashley Shaw, Paige Babb, and Jennifer Hall led the team named Set the beat! The sweettarts included Ashlyn Spell, Emily Brock, Cierra Satterfield, Samantha Allen, and Danielle Fail, Anna Ingram and Megan Tyndall. We also had a really good team with some retired mount olive players and some church league players on it, they ended up winning and they were tough to beat. Good Job guys! We also had a team from the bridge come out, a Rosewood FFA team, and of course the Rosewood Volleyball team for this year–I will have to come watch a few games, and a few others as well. Thank you all for being a part of such a wonderful day and an a game that means so much to me. I cant wait to be able to get back and shape and start playing again, maybe I will be even better with some new found energy!


 Thanks to everyone for helping and organizing this event. Thank you to all the players and spectators. Thank you to the FFA and Sara McLamb for the raffle and items for the drawing! Thank you to my all time favorite coach and some of my favorite teachers! You all forever hold a place in my heart.

  
 Also Thank you to Kourtney Humphrey and Ms. Amelia and tri-county electrical. They surprised and presented me with a very generous donation to help with my medical expenses. I am overwhelmed everyday by the love strangers give me and this is no different. Thank you so much for thinking of my family and I and supporting us during this time.

Until next time….

#heart4tart #tartgotaheart #VT4CT