Thursday, November 3, 2011

Update on my Surgery...It's OVER!!!!!

Dear Friends,
Well I made it through surgery. Thank you for your prayers. I was so nervous, but I could tell that God was with me, holding me in the palm of His hand as always!! I mean it when I say THANKS for praying!!!
I had my pain pump surgery yesterday afternoon, and by all accounts, SO FAR it is a success! We hope it will continue to be okay. Right now, I am in a tremendous amount of pain because of the actual surgery. It's going to be a difficult next couple of days. I am hurting pretty intensely because of the tender spot it is in and because they had to slice open my side. It's so sore.
They inserted an 8 ounce disk that looks like a hockey puck into my right side of my abdomen. It's actually larger and heavier than I expected it to be. It's weird to think it's inside of me. Kevin and I were laughing because I have rods in my back, a tube in my stomach and a pain pump in my side. I'm turning into a robot!!
Anyway, The surgery took longer than they anticipated because they had a little bit of trouble anchoring the device inside my side. It basically had to be sutured in my side somehow so that it would stay there and not move at all. The doctor had a bit of trouble because of my tissue and the fact that I already have a feeding tube on one side. I am wearing an abdominal band, which is like a girdle, and I will have to wear it for a week straight without taking it off, and then I will have to wear it for 6 to 8 more weeks. It is holding the device in place so it doesn't move at all. It's important that it stays in place.
After the device was implanted, they threaded a catheter to my spine and the medication is continuously flowing and will provide me relief, if all is successful. It will take some adjusting to get the dosage correctly. They can set the device with their computer systems.
So basically I have to rest for the next few days. I can't lift anything AT ALL. I have to be still and I can't shower for a few days.
I ask you to PLEASE pray for a few things. First that I will not be in so much pain. I am really in a lot of pain right now from the incision and from the surgery. I hope that will go away soon. The doctors said the pump should give me relief, but they did say that it is normal to be in severe pain for the first few days after surgery, so what I am feeling is normal.
I also ask you to pray that it works and that everything goes well with the device and that there are NO complications. The doctors are concerned about infection, so I'm on medication to prevent me from healing. I really appreciate all of your prayers. I love you all. You mean so much to me. Thanks for being so concerned and reading up on my life. I will let you know how things go.
I am looking forward to a visit from my college roommate this weekend. My best friend from Pennsylvania is flying in and will be helping me recuperate! I can't wait to see her. Pray we have a great visit, too!
Thanks again for your prayers,
Ami :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

True Joy

Dear Friends,
I couldn't sleep for thinking so much and I thought this would be a perfect time to blog since I haven't done it in a while. This is a different blog. I am going to update you on my condition and then share a little something God has laid on my heart.
I am doing okay and I am blessed. Next week I get my pain pump. I am tremendously nervous about my procedure, but after that one of my best buddies is coming to visit me and to help be my nurse for a few days. I am so glad for her coming to hang out with me and help me in any way needed. I am truly blessed with lots of people who love me.
Anyway, I just wanted to take some time to just share what the Lord has been speaking to me in my life. So many times, I just update you on my condition, which I'll do right now just to get it out of the way. I am going home in December with an open-ended ticket because I don't know what the doctors are going to suggest. I get more test done at John's Hopkins in Baltimore in December. Then I will see the doctors and they will decide what course of treatment to take. They may want to take my pancreas out or not. I am currently not eating anything by mouth except for water and tic tacs and decaf tea. That's basically it. I have lost 30 pounds in 2 months and I am only being fed by my j-tube. Anyway, I am in a lot of pain so hopefully the pain pump will resolve some of those issues. It's still all very scary and if I think about it too much I start to panic!!!
The real reason I wanted to write tonight is just to talk about what God has put on my heart. I want to talk about Joy and what it means to be joyous. I really pray that in my life, I am joyous. I think Joy is so much more important than Happiness. To me, happiness can change, but Joy is permanent. I believe that living joyously is a character trait.
So many times I see people that have lost their Joy. They've lost joy in life, joy in their marriage, joy in their circumstances, joy in living. It makes me so sad because joy is the easiest thing to obtain. We obtain it by walking with Christ. When you are walking with Christ, no one can steal your joy. They can rattle you and maybe mess with your happiness, but they CAN NOT steal your Joy. That's at the core of your heart.
When we as Christians walk around without joy, we are showing the world that we have nothing that they don't have. We are showing the world that there is nothing joyous about serving Christ.
I'm not saying you can't be sad or have a bad day or be in a bad mood, but when we stay there and wallow in the bad, and we don't want any help to get better -- when there is no true happiness and no true enjoyment in life, then you've lost that Joy that God supplies.
It's one of the fruits of the Spirit, in fact, it's listed right after Love in Gal. 5;22. That's how we get Joy in the first place, by becoming so close to the Spirit and taking on the fruits of the Spirit.
Jesus says in John 17:13 that "I come to you...that they may have MY joy fulfilled in themselves."
In Dueteronomy 28:47, the Children of Israel were punished "Because (they) did not serve the Lord (their) God with joy and gladness of heart..."
A popular verse on Joy is in James 1:2 that says "Count it all JOY when you fall into various trials..."
Perhaps my favorite verse on Joy that I looked up was I Peter 1:8 that says "Whom having not seen you Love, Though now you do not see him yet believing, you rejoice with JOY inexpressible and full of glory."
Sometimes I look at Christians, including myself, and I wonder if I am someone that should bear the name "Christian." The name itself is a derivative of Christ, the man who died to save us. Yet, we do things so often to displease Him. I'm not talking about things we mess up on or make sinful mistakes that we are sorry for. It's the deliberate sins I think that make God so angry. We carry the name of His son, yet we are so unlike Him in many ways.
One of those ways is in our walk and in living with Joy. You can be angry and still be joyous. You can be mad and hurt and still be joyous. You can still be treated unfairly and be joyous. Because joy comes from within. It is a fruit of the Spirit. It comes from Knowing Christ so intimately and having true peace.
Happiness comes and goes every day. But can we say our lives are joyous? Do we walk in peace and bring peace when we walk in a room, or does the air deflate when we walk in the room. When your caller ID shows the number of the person who is calling, do you think "I want to talk to that person because he's got a joyful spirit" or do you think "Not the downer again...I'll let the machine get it."
I'm not preaching at all. I just want joy to be so evident in every person that calls themselves Christians. I heard an anonymous quote once that said "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
Ouch. That hurt. I want to be like Christ so badly it hurts!
It's just a thought for today!
Love you all. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September update

What a trip this has been!
I know some of you have been wondering where I have been for the last few weeks. I thought that this would be the best way of updating you.
I came here in August to have another test on my pancreas. I had the test and the mass on the pancreas that I had looked good. It wasn't cancerous. We were happy. The tests they did showed worsening chronic pancreatitis, and the doctor's recommendations for me were for me to lose weight, get off of the steroid medication and then in December we will revisit the situation and determine if I should have my pancreas taken out.
Well, on Aug. 31st I woke up so ill. I can't remember ever feeling that sick before. I couldn't stop throwing up. It was so painful. I had a fever and I felt the most gut wrenching pain. I knew it was pancreatitis.
So my parents rushed me into the hospital in Virginia. I was so bad that they decided to transfer me by ambulance to John's Hopkins. Once they had a room available, I got to John's Hopkins. They diagnosed me with "Acute on Chronic Pancreatitis" which basically means I was having a terrible serious acute episode of pancreatitis on top of chronic pancreatitis.
The doctors and nurses at John's Hopkins were unbelievable. I mean, absolutely top notch. It was difficult to get there for my parents every day. It was hard for them, and I appreciate their sacrifices for me!
Anyway, the doctors told me under no circumstances am I to eat. I can not eat anything except for water and ice chips for the next four months. I have a j-tube, which is where I get my feedings from, but I had been trying to tolerate food, but the doctors at John's Hopkins told me that this time my pancreas is just so messed up that I can have nothing. The pancreas is destroying itself. Once I am healthy, I may be able to have it pulled out. My doctor said that he doesn't want to make me worse. He wants me to be stronger. He wants me to be strengthened in case I need to have surgery.
That's the update.
I am so sorry that I haven't been able to get together with all of my friends this trip. It's been a trying one.
But I know that God has me in the palm of His hand and I am waiting for the day he touches me with His healing power!
I am planning to go home on Sept.25th. I was supposed to go on the 10th, but being so sick and weak has put a damper on those plans. Please pray that I can regain my strenght.
Thanks again for all of your prayers. I love you all!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

More of the Same!! :)

The only thing coming to my mind right now are the words: More of the same.
That basically sums up what is going on with me.
I had my latest round of doctor’s appointments at John’s Hopkins this past week. They did repeat tests on my pancreas.
The doctor called me yesterday and said, “Well, I have good news and bad news.”
The good news is that my tumor on my pancreas is NOT growing substantially right now and it’s NOT cancerous.
The bad news is that I have severe and worsening Chronic Pancreatitis that will not go away. He thinks that eventually I will have to have a total pancreatectomy which is a removal of my pancreas. They are going to retest me in December and see where things stand.
For the past month, I had been doing a little better and eating a little. I mean, I was severely nauseous and very sick all of the time with anything I ate, but I was able to tolerate a little. But the doctors now have told me in all seriousness and candor that in order to get better and prepare in case I need to have my pancreas out that I can no longer eat ANYTHING at all. His exact words were, “These are the cards you’ve been dealt, and you have to deal with them, Ami.”
That is hard to hear.
Having a chronic illness is so hard because as he said, there is not any easy fix. They can’t just go in and fix me right now. They don’t want to do a surgery right now because I am on steroid medication, and my healing process would be compromised because of that. I need to be off of the steroids, I need to lose some weight and I need to be off all food except for tube feedings. Then they would consider the surgery. It is a MAJOR, life altering surgery. Living without a pancreas is rare and complicated. It’s not something I want to have done if I can avoid it. But the pancreatitis is worsening in severity, and unless the Lord performs a miracle, It’s something that eventually will have to happen.
The doctor said it’s really going to depend on how tolerable the pain and stuff is for me. It is quite painful.
I hate not eating. It’s hard. It’s miserable. But it’s what has to be done.
Please pray for me. I know that God is in all of this. I know that He is there and is going to bring me through all of it. I just know it. I know that He is my strength and I’m going to make it through!!! We don’t know what we are going to do about the pain pump. It’s something that I’ll face with Kevin eventually. We just need prayers.
In a nutshell, I just wanted to quick update everyone. I will write longer later. I just wanted you to know that, thankfully I don’t have pancreatic cancer. It’s all benign, but the pancreatitis is really bad and getting worse, and eventually I’m going to have to have my pancreas removed. They are going to test me around Christmas time and see where things stand. It’s up to the Lord to heal me and get me better. And I know He will!! I have to believe!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Update: Pain Pump Pulled

Well, I wanted to write an update because some people might not know what is going on with me.
Right now I am laying on a mattress in my living room here in Texas. It's so hot. I am in the living room on a mattress because I have to lay flat for 72 hours due to a spinal fluid leak and severe spinal headache.
I had the trial pain pump put in. It was placed in my spine, and things seemed to be fine. That was Wednesday. On Friday, I saw the doctors and they adjusted my medication, and I was really excited because for the first time in years, I really felt like I had minimal pain. It was exciting because I was getting relief. They wanted me to keep the trial pump in for a few more days.
Well, I woke up on Saturday morning, and I had the worst headache of my life. I had tingling down my right side, and I was miserable. Something having to do with the catheter in my back where the medication was being delivered got messed up and was hitting a nerve, and the doctor said that I had a spinal fluid leak which is causing my headache. This happened even though they did a procedure to prevent this. It still happened, but I will be okay.
So thankfully, my father in law took me this morning to Dallas and they pulled out the pain pump trial. The doctor told me I need to lay flat for 72 hours. If my headache doesn't get better, then I have to go back to get another blood patch, which will hopefully stop any spinal fluid leak. I'm hoping that I DON'T have to do that!
So I am fine, just laying flat. I can check my computer for a few minutes at a time. Please pray that I don't have to have another procedure done to fix this and that it will go away on its own.
Thanks everyone. I will update you all on how I'm doing. If I don't respond to your posts right now, it's just cause I can't get comfortable and I can't spend too much time on the computer at once. I am still positive that the pain pump is going to work because I did get relief. This will not happen with the real pump because it will be a permanent device implanted in me. I am doing fine, thanks to God and a great family.
Trust in the Lord with ALL thy heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In ALL thy Ways ACKNOWLEDGE HIM and HE will DIRECT thy paths!!!!! Prov.3:5-6

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Update: Pain Pump

Hi everyone! I wanted to update everyone and tell you about my pain pump procedure that I had on Wednesday. I know many of you have been praying for me.
I went to Dallas and underwent a trial for a pain pump.
A “pain pump,” is a method of giving medication directly to your spinal cord. The system uses a small pump that is surgically placed under the skin of your abdomen and delivers medication through a catheter to the area around your spinal cord – similar to an epidural that women may have during childbirth
The reason that they are giving me a pain pump is because most all other traditional methods have failed to relieve my pain. Because the medication in the pain pump is delivered directly to the spinal cord, my pain can be controlled with a much smaller dose than is needed with oral medication. The goal of a drug pump is to better control my symptoms and to reduce oral medications.
I don’t have the permanent pump yet. This is the trial to make sure that it will work. It is pumping medicine into my spine all of the time so I will get more relief.
Basically what they did on Wednesday is put a catheter into my spinal cord. It is sticking out through my back and I have to carry the actual pump in a bag at all times. I will have to go back to Dallas tomorrow (Friday) to see if the medication dosage needs adjustment and then I will have to go back to Dallas next Wednesday to have the catheter pulled out and then we’ll evaluate if it was successful. If we feel like it was successful, I will have the permanent device placed in as soon as possible. I probably won’t have the permanent device put in until September because of my trip to Maryland to take care of my pancreas. Once I come home from Maryland, I will have surgery to put this pain pump in if the trial works.
So far I feel like it is working somewhat. I am in quite a bit of pain from the actual surgery. My back hurts and my legs hurt and I have had a headache because its in my spine. BUT the good news is that the pancreas pain and the fibromyalgia and chronic pain that I have had for 12 years seems to be a little bit better. I am having a hard time differentiating between the pains because I am hurting so bad from the surgery. I do have a lot of hope, though because some of the pain is lessened, I think.
I have an appointment tomorrow to see if my dosage needs to be adjusted. We will see what they say.
I can’t take a shower or bath for a week because they don’t want the area to get infection, so it’s sponge baths for me…gross. And I really can’t do much because I literally have a bag to carry everywhere and a tube sticking out of my back. I also have been feeding on my feeding tube so I have that bag to carry as well. I feel like a bag lady, carrying around all of these bags everywhere. I am trying to stay in one place and get comfortable but it’s been kind of hard to get comfortable. I am hoping to just rest until it gets pulled out next week. We will have to decide then whether to get the real pump or not.
Thank you for your prayers. These are big decisions. I really appreciate you all and love you lots.
I know I need to call some of you, and I will soon. I have been in and out of rest and sleep because it’s kind of hard to get comfortable. I promise to contact everyone when I feel a little better.
Love you all and I’ll keep you updated.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Latest on Me!

I'm sitting here in my living room and I'm having another night of difficult sleep, so I thought it would be a good time to update my blog. I have seriously debated posting this upcoming post, but I figured those who read this blog must really care about me and my life, so I thought I would write and share with you what's going on in my life. My husband is a very private person, so sharing intimate parts of my life is not something he particularly welcomes, but I don't think he will mind my sharing some of my struggles and such. As I said, all who read on care about things going on in my life.
I am actually getting ready to go back to Maryland in a few weeks to have tests redone on my pancreas. I have had a difficult summer as I have been trying to get off of this steroid medication I have been on for 12 years. I was on 30 milligrams, and now I am on 13 milligrams. This has been a major step for me, and I am really happy that I am down to this amount of prednisone. I have been on prednisone for 12 years, and it has wreaked havoc on my life, while also helping me tremendously. But the doctors want me off of the medication in case I have to have surgery on my pancreas. I go to John's Hopkins in August again to determine whether or not I will have to have surgery. We are not sure what the doctors will say or if they will determine that the spot on my pancreas has grown or not. We are really putting it all in God's hands. The last blood test I had a week ago did show that I am still having pancreatitis and my liver enzymes are high. I will be seeing stomach, pancreas and liver specialists when I go home in August. I leave on August 10th, and plan to be in Maryland through Sept. 13th, possibly longer if surgery is what is deemed necessary.
The thing I wanted to share is a prayer request. I am scheduled next week for a procedure to help with my pain. What most people I guess don't know about me is the amount of pain I am in from day to day. I don't share this with you for you to feel sorry for me or to pity me in any way. I share it for you to know me and pray for me. I share it because If you are reading this, I know you care about me. I have suffered with chronic pain for 12 years now. I can't really explain it anymore than to say I hurt all of the time, chronically. To breathe hurts. Literally. Taking a breath actually pains me. Sometimes my body feels like I am turning into stone. That's just the muscle part. I also have intense stomach and pancreatitis pain daily which is also very hard to handle. I have lived with the pain for 12 years, albeit not as intense as it is now. At first it was so debilitating. I couldn't deal with it. I didn't know what to do but to take medication. It was so overwhelming. Now, I have gotten kind of numb to the pain, but it's always there. It's nagging and it makes me edgy at times. It makes me frustrated, but I try to handle it and not talk about it much. Anyway, after years of pain and years of dealing with what to do, I am finally in as good of a place as I can be, even though I find that I am in more pain now than I have ever been in.
Of course most of you know that I have the most understanding husband who allows me to have my bad days. He allows me to hurt and not do what I can't. He never expects me o have the house cleaned impeccably or be something I'm not. He is so wonderful, I don't even have the words to explain. I could not face the pain without his support, or the faith that I have in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I always think of the pain that my sin inflicted on Him, and I know that I can deal with this pain because it is nothing in comparison to what He suffered on Calvary for me.
To get back on track, my pain is unbearable at times. I am on very strong medication and have been for years. I see a pain specialist in Dallas and I am scared because my pain over the years has intensified because of the pancreatitis. The doctors are concerned with treating my pain and want to put in a pain pump in my body. I am scheduled to get the trial of the pump next week. My husband and I are nervous. I will have a trial to see if the pump works and if it relieves my pain. We will then decide whether or not to have the device permanently implanted once I get back from my visit in Maryland in September.
I guess I am asking you to pray for Kevin and I to make the right decision in this process. I don't know if continuing the oral pain medications would be better than a pump. I am scared because it is a huge step for us. I am scared because I am in a lot of pain all of the time. I want to know what is the best thing to do for myself and my husband. I want the most normal life I can have, but I also want a quality of life. I have A LOT of huge decisions to weigh. These are not easy decisions. Each one has a consequence, and it seems like now the decisions I make aren't simple ones. Things with my health are serious and any decision I make now could be a game changer. Does that make sense? It's just kind of scary for us.
Normalcy for me right now is basically a lot of rest and not much activity because my strength is so weak from the fact that I can't eat a lot of things and I hate using my feeding tube. I rest because I don't have strength and the pain is intense. I try to stay active with my friends, family and church. I get up every morning and make myself go places and do things. I run errands, but I always have to take a nap pretty much every day, and I feel pretty run down most of the time. I try to do as much as I can. Some people understand my limitations, and others don't. They don't realize how tired or how sick I really am. One thing I wish more people understood is just because you may look okay doesn't mean you feel that way all of the time. Chronic and debilitating pain is something I never understood until I developed this disease 12 years ago.
I don't want anyone to ever feel sorry for me. Please know that that is not why I share this. I covet your prayers for the decisions that have to be made. I am only 34 years old, and I feel I am facing a health crisis that most people haven't had to face. Looking back, I know I could have made different decisions, and sometimes that haunts me, but I know that all things work together for good, just like God's Word says. I know that He is in control of everything. I don't know if I have always made the right decisions, but I know I am in the center of God's will. I know I am where I need to be. I know He loves me and I love Him and I walk and talk with my Savior daily.
I know I am a strong person. I know that I don't do everything right. But I do know that I love the Lord and want first and foremost to be in His will. I want to walk close to Jesus daily, and I want others to see that and I want to witness for Him. My relationship to Christ will always be preeminent in my life. But second is my relationship with my husband. I adore him and count Kevin as an angel that was sent into my life from God. I don't just say that for the sake of being cute or funny or romantic. I say it because I truthfully mean it. His love has been what has saved my life from ruin. I believe in love. I know it because I know what true love is. I only wish that everyone in life could know the love that I have experienced from Christ and from Kevin because the love that I have known have been what makes the pain I go through daily something that I can handle.
I say all of these things to simply ask for your prayers over the next few months. These are going to be trying months. Trying months in that I will be deciding about this pain pump, going to John's Hopkins for treatment, deciding about life changing surgery and being separated from Kevin while I am seeking treatment. It's always good being with my family in Maryland, but my heart is always with the love of my life. He is so busy with work and stresses of his life, and I know he worries for me because he loves me as much as I love him. Sometimes I focus on how he is my world, and I forget that I am his world as well. I know this because he tells me so, but most of all, he daily shows me so.
I don't know why I am spilling my guts and everyone who knows Kevin knows that he will not be happy that I am posting all of this for everyone to know. But again, I know that if you are taking the time to read this, than you must care an awful lot about me, and that means more than anything. The fact that you are my friend is something that I am proud of and appreciate.
I will never stop believing in my healing, knowing that one day I will have a new body and all of this pain will be gone. I don't know when that day will come, but I believe God can and will do it whenever He decides. Until that day, I will believe and trust that He knows best. I will never ever stop trusting in Him, and I will be faithful to praise Him for His goodness in my life. I have been blessed with not only a love of a lifetime, but 2 families who have loved me, both my own and Kevin's family, both of whom have been my support network. I can't imaging my life without the Webb Family or the McCarty family in my life.
Enough babbling for now. It's almost 3:40 a.m. and I am thinking it's time to get to sleep.
Thanks again for caring about me. If you are reading this, I hope that you will think about the relationship that I have with you and know that you are special to me. I don't take anything for granted, especially my friendships and relationships I make. Each person that is reading this is valuable to me, and I hope you know you are! Thanks again for loving and praying for me!
Love, Ami

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Another Update :)

It has been a long time since I have posted a blog and I have to apologize. Things have been busy for me, but I thought I would update everyone on things.
I'm going to be honest as I write this blog. I think most of you who read this and follow me really know me and understand what I am going through.
This has been probably the most frustrating and difficult period of my life. I feel so sick all of the time as of late. My pain is so excruciating most of the time. I just spent a week in the hospital because they couldn't get my pain and my pancreatitis under control. I am trying to step down and take less steroids in case I have to have surgery on my pancreas. When I do that, my body reacts terribly and I get sick. That causes tremendous pain, and I have such a high tolerance to the pain medicines since I've been on them for so long, that the medicines aren't working well and they just cut the pain sometimes. It's a hard place to be in.
The thing I am doing now to help myself the best way I know how is not to eat much at all. I haven't eaten much since last year, but I can't even eat soup or anything soft at all now. I am feeding on my feeding tube. I will allow myself broth and crackers, but not much more than that. I had been trying to eat rice and soft foods that I could tolerate, but I wasn't tolerating them well. I've decided that I can't keep getting sick like this, and eating things just aggravates the pancreas. Do you realize how hard it is not to eat anything? I mean anything at all. I am struggling with this so much. It's mental but it's also physical because I am so hungry. My stomach is empty all of the time because my feeding tube bypasses the stomach, so I have cravings but I can't satisfy them. It is a very frustrating feeling. Doctors say so coldly to me that I can only drink water. They just don't understand how hard that is. It just is. But truthfully I feel so much better when I don't eat. So that's the option now. So that's what I have to do. I don't like it and I don't want it. But it's my only chance at being okay for now.
The next step for me is to see all of my doctors over the next few weeks here in Texas. I am planning to be in Maryland in August for the repeat pancreas tests where they will determine if they need to do surgery on my pancreas or not. However, If I have another flare up between now and then, I will probably be coming to town sooner than that so that I can be treated by the experts.
My case is so complicated. I've found that if you're not a classic medical case or don't have a classic medical problem, the doctors are frustrated and throw their hands up. They want to put you in a mold, and when they can't, it frustrates them.
I just know I can't continue to live my life this way and in this much pain. Something has got to be done and I know that when I see the doctors in August, something will be done. I am just scared and nervous about what that may be. It could be something simple or something serious. The unknown is scary.
My faith in God is not shaken, however. It's funny how that is. To be honest, however, I have been more discouraged than I ever have been before. I have been down. That doesn't mean that my faith is shaken.I'm more secure in God's love for me than ever. For me, the fact that I have been down just means that I have to read His Word even more and pick myself up off the ground and keep moving on. I have to get the focus off of my problems and onto others and I need to pray for them and focus on praying for others. After the tears, I need to get up and go on.
It's been hard because I feel sick so much and I just pray for healing. I pray that even if I don't get healed that God would just take some of the pain away. That He would just make it easier for me. I just pray simple things like that. Truthfully, sometimes I don't know how to pray. I want God to know how much I love Him. I will never stop serving Him with my life. No matter what I go through, I will not quit. I will not quit praising Him for His goodness. I will not quit witnessing for Him. I will not quit telling others about Him. I will not quit praying. I will not quit believing in healing. I will not quit loving Him.
This is the scariest thing I've been through. It's scary to be in so much pain and fear you may never live a normal life. It's scary facing the fact that you may never eat normally again. It's scary to face life changing surgeries.
But I don't face anything alone. I have God. I have my husband. I have my family. I have my friends. I have God. I have God.
I read this in devotions the other day. It said in I Kings 8:23 NLT "O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like You in all of Heaven above or on the earth below. You keep your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before you in wholehearted devotion."
Wholehearted devotion. That's what I want to have. I hope I have that.
Pray for me. I am pretty desperate for prayers. Of course for healing first and foremost, but also for the doctors to have wisdom to know what to do for me. Especially when I come home in August and see the specialists.
Thanks for letting me talk and thanks for listening. As I said, I've been a little down, and I am sure you can read that in this post. But I know all things work together for good as God says in the Bible, and I believe in the power of prayer.
Thanks so much to everyone who emails me and keeps me encouraged. You don't know what it means to get little messages in my inbox and stuff. You all are special to me in so many ways.
Thanks!!!! I'll write a more cheery post next time!!!!

Love, Ami

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Plan of Treatment

I wanted to write a blog to let everyone know what is happening with me. I try to blog about what is happening with my health so that all of my prayer warriors and praying buddies out there can know what’s happening to me.
I am currently seeking medical treatment because I have a condition called Gastroparesis, which is where your stomach doesn’t move. So I can’t really eat much. Most of you know that, and I’ve written a lot about it.
The newest development is that the stomach specialist at John’s Hopkins thought I should be seen by a pancreas doctor. So I had tests run on Monday of this week. The doctors found a mass growing on my pancreas, which greatly concerns them. They really don’t think that it is any kind of cancer, however they have not ruled that out 100%. They did a blood test which will help determine if there is any cancerous cells they should be worried about. I will find the results to that early next week.
The next step is to monitor the legions that are growing on my pancreas. They think that the mass could cause trouble if it grows or changes. This mass could be a result of the chronic pancreatitis that I have had since Sept. 09. Or it could be a benign tumor that is growing that could cause problems.
I can have surgery, but the long and short of it is that I am not healthy enough right now with all of my other problems. Plus it’s a risky surgery as to what they’d have to do.
So to make a long story short, I have to see a few more specialists and go through a few more tests over the next few weeks.
Then hopefully I will be able to come home to Texas for a month or two.
Then I will have to return to Baltimore to repeat all of the pancreas tests to see if the growth has changed. If it has, then we may have to do surgery. Any surgery involving the pancreas is very risky.
I still can’t eat much. I still am tube feeding. I will likely struggle with that all of my life, but I can eat little things here and there when I have to, but the less, the better. If I can tube feed, that’s optimal for me. So that’s mainly what I’m going to be doing so I can be comfortable.
I have a very important doctor’s visit tomorrow. I would appreciate your prayers regarding that. It’s at 1:15 p.m.
Saying all of this, I am confident in God that He has everything in control. We don’t know why this is happening, but my relationship with God is not contingent on what trials a go through. I love Jesus Christ more than anything , and He is the great physician. When He heals me of this, I will be able to praise Him and my healing will prove He does miracles today! I just know He is healing me already.
This is hard on me for several reasons. First, because I miss Kevin. For those of you who know me well, He is the absolute love of my life. He is my hero and the one I look to for comfort, love and most of all laughs during our doctor visits. He is my better half and without him, I couldn’t walk this road. I just couldn’t Secondly, I miss my Texas family. I miss my other mom and dad and family there.
My parents have been so good to me during this. I feel so needy. I feel like such a burden right now. I feel like I am sucking them dry from all of my appointments…having them drive me every day to Baltimore or Lutherville. It’s hard, but I know they love me. I cry because I’m not worthy of the Love they give. I am SO blessed. I adore my mom and dad and I am so thankful for God giving me them. I cry at the thought of all they have done for me. And I know they do it out of serious love for me. That’s exactly What it is…pure love.
Anyway, I am okay. I will be fine because the Lord is in control. Keep praying and I’ll keep you updated. We don’t want this growth to get bigger and we don’t want surgery or it to be cancer. Those are the things you can pray for right now. Pray that my stomach doesn’t get so sick all of the time and pray for my Husband and family.
I want everyone who reads this to know that I know God, the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal savior and friend. I know Him as my father, and I am never going to quit asking my father and my best friend for health and healing and happiness. But saying that, I am going to love Him no matter what I walk through. And I’m going to be happy doing it. I have been so blessed with so many things in my life, most of all Jesus’ love and my husband and family’s love. If I never have another blessing in my life, I would be satisfied and still be among the most blessed people in the world. I wouldn’t trade my life for anything in this world.
I hope I haven’t confused you. I am writing this kindof fast and I just wanted to get it typed up so that you all would be able to know what was going on!
I love you all!
Love, Ami :)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I want a cheeseburger!

I'm hungry.
There's no getting around it.
I'm just hungry.
I want a big cheeseburger. A great big cheeseburger with extra cheese and ketchup. I would even put mayonnaise on it. But I wouldn't put mustard on it. I just want the meat.
This not eating has been really hard for me. I can't eat anything because of my stomach condition. The doctor didn't want me eating anything at all, but I am allowing myself to eat popsicles and suck on some hard candy. I am also allowing myself to drink whatever I want. I still get sick to my stomach, but I have to have a little bit of flavor.
When it comes to eating, you don't realize what you are missing until it's not there. I mean, I never figured that I'd be denied the basic function of eating. I mean, it's such a basic thing, but it's such a pivotal part of life. It's funny how much of life revolves around eating. It's something that you do when you don't know what else to do. It's something you do when you want to meet with a just get something to eat or talk over lunch. It's Easter dinner, a birthday party with cake, and popcorn at a movie.
I promised myself that if...or when (see, I'm being positive!) I eat again, I am going to allow myself to eat what I can. And I'm not going to take it for granted. I'm going to enjoy eating. I'm not going to worry about my weight. I'm going to enjoy eating and enjoy flavors. I'm going to enjoy everything I can enjoy. I don't know to what capacity my stomach will work again. Unless I receive a miraculous healing, which is what I am totally holding out for and believing in, I don't know how well it will ever work again. But when it does work and we get a solution to this stomach situation, I'm going to enjoy a cheeseburger.
I like to think and dream about food. I love to think about what I would eat if I could. Some think it's torturous to eat in front of me. It really doesn't bother me, and if it does bother me, I leave and go to the next room or remove myself when I need to. I just like to think about eating. I know it may be strange to some people, but I really like to think about pizza and fruit and Italian food...something other than popsicles and juice.
This is just a part of life, at least a major part of it right now for me. It's funny how you miss things when they are not there anymore. Even something so basic as eating. You'd think things would get easier and they will, I hope.
I know it's all going to be okay.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A little more venting from me!

Hello everyone. I am sitting here in my parents's basement house at 1 a.m., and I couldn't sleep so I am just thinking. Thinking about so many things.
I am not trying to be down. I am just being honest and I have to be. I just wanted to write a little bit and kind of share some of my struggles.

This not eating anything at all is really playing some crazy tricks on my mind. It seems like everything I see makes me think of food. I keep craving things like ham and steak and pizza. I would eat even a McGriddle, and I absolutely hate McGriddles at McDonalds. You know I'm desperate when that crosses my mind. That and Liver. Boy, I'd even eat liver, especially if it had onions.

I am allowing myself popsicles and some hard candy of some sort. I am allowing myself to suck and bite on that and have some flavor through the popsicles. I just told the doctor I had to have something.

Truthfully, my stomach is better when I'm not eating anything at all. I only had to take nausea medication two times today. It's not as bad when I'm not eating.
But that is such a hard thing to do. Not eating is like one of the things in life that I enjoy so much. Food had always been an integral part of my family. My mom cooks so good and so do my sisters. They know how to cook and they have it all down pat. But now I can't eat, and I really feel terrible because they don't want to eat around me. That doesn't bother me. I am just fine and I've got to get used to this. It's not something I want to get used to, but I have to.

I don't understand why the Lord wants us to walk through these valleys. I really don't understand why we have to go through things that don't make sense at the time, but I know it's in God's plan. My prayer is to keep the most positive attitude that I can me during all of these trials and when I look back, I will be stronger for them. I long to have a stronger relationship with the Lord. I just do. I want the Lord to be seen as Good and Holy and perfect. I want Him to be glorified in my life. I truly am nothing and could do nothing at all apart from my Heavenly father. He is my rock, and has given me so much.

This not eating thing is so hard. It's so essential to life, but I know that I can do it. I am stronger than I think. Anything to get better.

The update is that I have tests on April 25th and 2 doctors appointments on the 26th. Kevin is flying in the 21st through the 27th. So he'll be here to make all of the important decisions with me. We may be facing surgery and we need wisdom as to whether to have it here or in Texarkana.

Pray for our finances and pray for our time apart. I miss everyone. These trips back and forth and shipping my feedings is also an expense. But I thank God for leading me through it all.

You never realize how strong you are until you have to go through something like this. I would like to think I'm strong. But even more, I'm happy. I am happy no matter what. If God didn't bless me with one more thing in my life, I would be blessed enough. I have so much love in my life. I have so much happiness in my life, and I can walk through this trial with my head held up high and say I will never leave or forsake you, God. I want to be a pleasing daughter to my Lord and to my earthly parents too. I'm going to be just fine.

Pray for me. That's what pulls me through.

I love each of you who reads this. Thanks for being there for me.

Love, Ami

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Update on my condition

Well, I thought that I would write a little blog to update all of my friends and family who want to know what's going on in my life.

I went to John's Hopkins University Hospital today. The good thing was that the 2 doctors that I saw were wonderful. They were so thorough and EVERYTHING I had hoped they would be. I praise God for that.

The bad news is that they were not very hopeful about my stomach situation. She explained that my stomach is like a sink. It doesn't move and it has a drain at the bottom. ANYTHING put into my stomach clogs the drain. So anyway, they are making me eat NOTHING at all by mouth. I mean NOTHING. I can have a little bit of water and less than liter of beverages during the day. She wants me to come back in two weeks. They are going to run some tests in the mean time to check my pancreas. She is concerned about the fact that I am on a lot of steroids and I'm in a lot of pain. But we're just taking things one step at a time.

The bad thing is that I will have to be away from my husband and my Texas family for longer than expected. I just know, though, that I am in good hands. My Kevin is so good to me and he wants me to get the top notch care.

They are talking about doing a surgery to put another tube in my stomach. It would help tremendously with the nausea and sickness. We aren't 100% sure whether we'll do the surgery here or back home. We will find out in 2 weeks what we're going to do about that.

There are a lot of decisions to make in these next few days. I really covet your prayers and ask that you pray for wisdom.

Kevin is planning to visit me and hopefully come to my next doctor's appointment here. Pray for finances and for wisdom for us. We are just wanting to do the best thing for my health.

Even though the doctors are not very hopeful, I know that Jesus is the great physician and He can do all of the healing I need. I know that the Lord is going to get all of the glory through all of these circumstances.

I am SO thankful for the Lord and all of the Love He has given me in my life. I can go through these trials. I just think of all of the Lord has blessed me with, and I will NOT complain about these things. I am not going to give the devil any place for any foothold. I have to stay strong and just focus on the Lord. Fully rely on God. That's what I'm doing right now.

Please pray for me to be strong. I can't make it without your praerys.

This is my update. I will keep you posted as to what the tests say and how long I'm going to be here in Maryland.

Thanks for the prayers for me and my husband Kevin!!!

Love you all,


Thursday, March 24, 2011


I’m sitting here on the couch at 4:30 a.m. just thinking. It’s been a very emotional week for me. I have been so reflective, contemplating my life and everything about it.
So much has happened to me in these short 34 years, and the only word that I can think of to describe my life is the word “blessed.” In so many ways, I have been blessed, and some of the biggest blessings in my life are the relationships I have. Those relationships with my husband and parents and friends have shaped me and molded me into the person I am today.
But when I think about the relationships I love the most in my life, It would have to be the ones I have with my sisters. Just thinking about my 3 sisters brings tears to my eyes. Memories pour through my mind. Memories that make me smile, laugh and cry.
It’s so funny. My sisters are so different and they have each filled a need and a void in my life that could never have been filled by anyone else. They are the greatest gift my mother and father ever gave me. A gift that I wouldn’t trade for all of the money or fame in the world.
Just the other night I stared at Darla, my sister who is 3 years younger than I am, as she sat with me on the floor in my parent’s basement. We were sitting together, just talking. I looked into her pretty blue eyes and touched her long straight golden hair. I twirled it in my fingers as she talked about her little girls.
Darla is 31 and I am 34, but I can so easily remember when she was 10 and I was 12. I couldn’t stand her because she annoyed me. I remember being so impatient as I couldn’t wait until we would move into our new house in Upper Marlboro so that I wouldn’t have to share a bedroom with her anymore. I didn’t like her tattling on me, and I didn’t want to share anything with her anymore.
I didn’t like that she had all of the baby dolls, either. I remember how she got this special Baby Alive doll for her birthday. The doll looked so real, and I was jealous. I wanted to play baby dolls, too, but only because she did. So I pretended to be a mother to Thumbelina – the doll with the cloth body and the bad hair. I wanted to be like Darla, but I didn’t want her to know that. I was jealous that she could play the piano, and I was jealous that she was always the teacher when we played school.
Last night I watched Darla’s two little girls as they played together, and they reminded me of us.
I remember not liking my sister Darla sometimes, but I also remember really loving her, too. I remember those Christmas mornings when we’d push our twin beds together and dream of what we’d get from Santa Claus. I remember playing outside and making obstacle courses in the summertime. I remember sitting at the dinner table and playing like we were kids in an orphanage when we didn’t like the food mom was serving. I loved swimming in the pool with her and playing Barbies together. I loved having singing competitions in the van when we’d go on trips.
When I look at Darla, I see strength and I see Christ’s hands. She’s taught me that people need love and that they need Jesus. She’s never cared what anyone but Jesus thinks of her, and I love that about her.
If Darla has taught me about strength, then my older sister Cherie has taught me about compassion. Cherie is 5 years older than me, and I was never ever jealous of her. Quite honestly, I was in awe of her. I kindof idolized her. She was the pretty older sister that was in high school when I was in 7th grade. She was a Senior. I remember her walking down the hallway with her friends. She had a big locker, and when she’d wave at me, I felt important. She never made me feel like the stupid little sister. I loved when she drove me around and when she’d let me wear her jewelry or clothes. She had these black sunglasses with paint splashes on them. I loved when she let me wear them.
I remember when she was homecoming queen and she wore her purple dress. It was so pretty. She wore the crown and she let me stand beside her. I remember the time she took me to the movies with her own money. We drove all around town to see “The Vanishing.” It was the dumbest movie, but I remember that she took me alone and treated me to the movie all on her own. She paid for it all!
I am sure I annoyed her as I followed in her footsteps, working at the same store she worked at when I was old enough. But she was my supervisor and she treated me fairly. She was never hateful, even though I was immature. I remember her kindness and the fact that she would take me places. She didn’t ever leave me out.
She was older than me and I can remember crying my eyes out when she left for college. I hated every minute she was gone. I was so happy when she came back home and didn’t go back the next year.
I just loved my big sister. I thought she was cool and she was everything I wanted to be. She took care of everything and to this day she still takes care of things. She is the nurturing, loving mom who is filled with love and compassion for everyone. She has taught me what dedication, loyalty and friendship means.
And then there’s my littlest sister Betsy, who is 6 years younger than me. I remember sitting on the bed with Betsy in her bedroom on Flag Day. She wanted to get saved and she asked Jesus into her heart that day. I got to be there for her. I remember many times when I would bribe Betsy into get me an iced tea or candy. I would tell her that I would tell mom that she did something bad unless Betsy would go get me what I wanted. She was easily tricked, especially if Darla joined in with me. We would use Betsy’s Barbies, and we’d leave her out of the game many times. She got the job of doing everything we wanted her to do without much reward, and she was teased mercilessly. I always felt like Betsy looked up to me. I loved taking her roller skating on Saturdays, and I remember being there for pivotal events in her life. Betsy has this knack of making me feel so important and needed. One of the greatest moments in my life happened this week when my nephew was born into this world. Betsy asked me to stay in the delivery room. I was so honored to be asked to witness the birth of her son. The fact that she wanted me with her made me feel so important and needed. I felt so honored and trusted to be there to see my nephew enter this world. I can’t have children and I always felt cheated of the ability to experience the miracle of child birth. But It was just so special to be asked to witness the birth of my precious nephew. I got to be there during the entire delivery. I got to see the miracle of birth, and I wasn’t even expecting it. Betsy has that way about her. She’s always surprising me and she’s so thoughtful to think of me. I remember when she found out that she was pregnant. She was worried to tell me that she was pregnant because she knew that I can’t have kids although I really want them. She was so concerned as to how I would take the news that she would be a mom. She cried, and I cried, for happiness, of course. And I cried when I saw my nephew enter this world. What a gift Betsy gave me! A chance to see this little life come into the world.
My sisters have each been so special to me. Their presence in my life has shaped me and made me into a better person. I love them and couldn’t imagine walking through this life without them.
They each play this certain roll in my life. They fill a cavity, a part of me that wouldn’t be whole without them.
I talk to them each several times a week, and even though we live far away, they are still near to my heart.
They each have children, and I especially pray for Darla’s girls to have the kind of sister relationship that I have with my sisters. It’s a bond that will never be severed. It’s a bond that I promise to always cherish and one I’ll never take for granted.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Baby Benjamin

On March 21st, I got to experience one of the most amazing moments in my life.
I got to see my nephew Benjamin Ryan Herold be born into this world.
It’s something I wasn’t expecting to get to do. Not just now, but ever in my lifetime. Because of my own health situation, I never thought I would get the chance to experience a child being born. It was one of the things that I thought this disease had taken from me.
But I was wrong.
My sister asked if I would stay in the delivery room with her. Of course I wanted to, but to hear her say she wanted me to was special in and of itself. Her husband wanted me to stay too.
I am used to being the big sister, but there she was, my little sissy getting ready to have a baby. She was so strong and while she was in a great deal of pain, she was beautiful and ready to go through all of the agony, just to deliver this perfect bundle of joy. I watched her as she struggled to deliver him. I got to be there to hold her hand and to help her count her breathing. It was an amazing event – being there through the pain, and helping her as she needed me.
It was so amazing, getting to watch this little life come into the world. When he entered this world, I began to cry.
He was so big and beautiful – all 9.7 pounds of him. All I could think of was all of the love that he was coming into. He is loved by so many already. I just thought of how many people are going to love him and adore him for the rest of his life. He screamed and I got to see him as the doctor and Robert cut the umbilical chord. It was neat to hear his little voice as he cried.
I was so proud of my sister for bringing this little life into the world. I looked at my sister’s face, her tired agony was over. She never looked so beautiful. Her face wore her pain, and her eyes drooped in sheer exhaustion. I was so proud of her.
Then I began to think about this little life.
He is born into this world now. He has so many roads he could travel. He will have so many opportunities in life. He is so perfect and precious and so untouched by this cold world.
I don’t have much to offer my nephew, other than all of the love in the world. So I have decided to pray for him, every day of his life. I have written this little prayer and letter to him:
To my dear Nephew Benjamin:
I watched you come into this world tonight, with all of your beautiful black hair and bright eyes. You screamed as we cried with happiness that you were finally here. You are the picture of beauty and what happens when two people love one another so much.
Benjamin, I love you. I love you so much that I’m going to tell you how much. I love you so much that I would do anything in this world for you. I would give my life for yours. Just like Jesus gave his life to save yours. That’s how much I love you. That’s how much Jesus loves you. Oh Benjamin, you are coming into a world that at sometimes will be cruel, but my prayer to you is that you will always look to your Savior Jesus Christ for all of the answers in life. He will guide you, baby Benjamin. He will never leave you or lead you down the wrong path.
I promise to be there for you Benjamin, when you get tired or when you struggle, I will promise to be there to pick you up and give you what you need, but most of all point you to the one who can give you everything you need in every way. Jesus Christ died for you to save you, and all you need is His eternal life to go to Heaven. He will provide you with eternal life and then everything else that you need to follow him successfully.
Baby Benjamin, as you grow older, I want to be someone who you can call on to love you, to take care of you and to help you throughout the dark and lonely times, but also through the good and beautiful times too.
As long as I am around, I will do everything to protect you from anyone who tries to hurt you. I will keep you close to the Lord in prayer and I will sacrifice to give you anything you need if it’s in my power to give it to you.
I want you to have a relationship with me, but also with the Lord Jesus Christ. I promise to steer you always toward a strong relationship with Him. He is your Savior, and the one who will be there when I can’t be. He will be your everything. I pray you will fully know Him at an early age, and I pray you will love Him and serve Him all of the days of your life. I will do everything in my power to make sure that happens.
I love you, as I love all of my nieces and nephews. I pray this over your life. I pray that you are strong mentally, physically, and spiritually and that you will grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ every day that you live.
I love you,
Love Aunt Ami

Saturday, March 19, 2011

From Parents to Friends

Well, I am here in Maryland. My husband and I were here together for a week, but he had to go back home so he could go back to work! I'm staying for a few weeks to see a few new doctors and to try to get my stomach problems figured out. Anyway, while Kevin was here, we had so much fun. The only thing he didn't get go see was the birth of our new nephew Benjamin, who is due to be born on Monday. We had hoped he'd be early, but he'll be ready in his time! I'm praying for a safe delivery!
It's so funny. I'm sitting here with my parents. If you would have told me 20 years ago that I would be sitting in the family room, drinking coffee and talking and sharing things willingly with my parents, I would have called you crazy. I never knew that I could and would be best friends with my parents. It's funny how things change. Back when I was a teenager, there was this reverential fear of them, yet they were always approachable. Now, they are the ones I come to for help, for advice and for love. I just never ever thought that I could be their friends. But that's what we are. Friends. We talk about everything and while they are opinionated, they listen and share things about themselves I never knew. I can appreciate behind the scenes stories. Things were tough for them financially when we were growing up, but they never let us know that. They can share those things now and I appreciate them so much.
It's funny how life is, how it changes and grows. I love the way that God always gives you just what you need when you need it. I'm glad for the relationship that I have with my parents. As teenagers and young adults, you take for granted the things they do and you think the things they say are relevant, but that they don't always get the picture.
But they do. My parents always advised me in the Lord, but they let me make my own choices. Now I run to them for their advice. Kevin's family is good like that too. They listen and give advice that's so Godly. I am so fortunate to two sets of parents that give me everything I need, but most of all they give me friendship. For that I am most grateful!!!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Babbling on and on...

I am looking at this upcoming week, and I am already kind of nervous about it. I need to take it easy and relax. I need to give it to God already because He already knows what's going to happen anyway.
I'm going "home" to Maryland on Friday with my husband! I am So SO excited about that. We are going home because it's his spring break, but also because my littlest sister Betsy is having her first son, Benjamin Ryan Herold. That's why we are going. We really hope he makes his arrival early so that we can spend the week that Kevin has with the baby. I will be staying for longer than a week, as I am planning on seeing a specialist at John's Hopkins in April for my stomach.
Getting ready for the trip is stressful, though. It takes forever for me to pack all of my medicines and medical supplies and stuff. Plus the laundry. Uggh...I dread the laundry.
But I am so thrilled to see my family, especially going home with Kevin. I have been blessed with two families. My family is so special, and I have a great relationship with my husband family too. I feel so blessed to have so much love in my life.
I know I am rambling on, but sometimes I can't contain my excitement when I think about my life. Sure I have physical problems that I can't control and don't like, but when I think about my life, I know that I am not defined by my illness. I want Jesus Christ to define me. That's just how I feel!
I'm going to go to bed. I just wanted to babble tonight before I went to bed!

Monday, February 28, 2011

To win a Dream Home

This is the story I wrote to win a "dream home" on Regis and Kelly's TV Show. Pray that we win with this letter I wrote about Kevin and why we want a dream home. Hope you like it. Pray for favor for us to win!!!

I’ve dreamed for more than 11 years about a home that would be mine on the corner of Carol Lane in Texarkana, Texas. We’ve sketched out the plans, and we even have the land. The house is the part we’re missing! Being awarded a “dream home” would make all of the struggles we’ve faced seem far away!
My name is Ami McCarty, and I am a 34 year old woman who has been married to my wonderful husband Kevin for nearly 11 years. Our story is one of difficulty, but it’s a story about a man that has changed my life. Giving him the home of his dreams would grant me a new lease on life.
It all started when Kevin and I first met in 1999. I met him online at Back then, internet dating was brand new. I was interested in meeting someone and after I put in my desired criteria, Kevin was my only match! He emailed me the next day. He was from Texas and I was from Maryland. From the first moment we met on the computer, I fell head over heels for this man. Pretty soon we were calling and flying back and forth to see each other.
When I flew down to meet Kevin for the first time in Texas, he showed me this piece of property, which was a little bigger than an acre. His father had purchased it for us and was giving it to us as a wedding present! Originally we had plans to jump right in and build a house near his family on our land.
But life quickly took other turns, and the plans we made got pushed by the wayside.
At Christmas he came to visit me, and I got sick and had to be taken to the emergency room. The doctors weren’t sure what was wrong. Over the course of several months they found out that I have the connective tissue disease Lupus. It can affect a lot of things in your body. Little did we know what was to come.
My dad told Kevin that I was sick, and Kevin assured him that he would take care of me once we were married. I don’t think any of us realized how committed Kevin really was. We got married, and life happened.
During our first year of marriage, I gained 90 pounds because of steroid medications I was on for the disease. But Kevin didn’t care. He never left my side. He was there for every second. He always told me how beautiful I was, and he just put up with the side effects of the medications. He never made me feel like I was a burden. I couldn’t go places or do things because I was sick all of the time. The medication was taking a toll on me. I had to work, and on the weekends I had to take this awful medicine that would have me sick and in bed all weekend.
Kevin would take care of me. He would sit with me in the bedroom because I was too sick to come out to the living room. He would keep me company and do things for me that I couldn’t do myself. It seemed like we’d get through one thing, and I’d have a set back. We had preexisting conditions on my medical coverage, so we had so many medical bills. The dream of building a home was there, but we couldn’t make it a reality.
I had been teaching Spanish but finally the realization came that I was too sick to be able to teach anymore. I was missing so much work, and I was granted disability right away. It was hard to face the realization that I couldn’t work anymore. We also faced the grim realization that we would never be able to have kids either. We became foster parents, but my health was in such disrepair, even that wasn’t possible, so we have had to give up the dream of having children for now. I had to have a hysterectomy also due to complications from my disease.
Two years ago, I developed chronic pancreatitis and as a result, I became so ill that I have to have a feeding tube. I have had the feeding tube for a year now. I am not able to eat regular food because I can’t digest it. In addition, I have developed diabetes, and I may be facing another surgery to put an additional tube in my stomach. I am seeing a specialist next month at John’s Hopkins University to see if that’s what we’re going to do. We have a lot of tough decisions to face in our life, but I know that with God and with Kevin, I can face them all.
Kevin has been there for me the whole time. I can’t count how many times I’ve been sick in bed throwing up and he’s been there, stroking my head and telling me he loves me. He says I’m the strongest person he knows, but he doesn’t know that my strength lies in him. He is the reason I want to live. He makes each day worth facing. He could have walked away. That would have been so easy to do. But he did the hard thing. He stuck with me, and today our marriage and relationship is stronger than ever. We have weathered the storms, and we feel like we can face anything because of where we’ve been.
Because of this sickness, so many times I’ve felt like dreams were being taken away from me. We still dream, but because of my medical bills and financial situation, we can’t build now on this land that has been sitting there waiting for us for years.
We have house plans for the home that we’re dreaming about. It would mean so much if I could give the man of my dreams the house of his dreams for being there for me all of these years. It would be the best thing that’s ever happened to me!
Thank you for letting me share my story!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I'm struggling today...

Today is kindof a somber day for me. I am not trying to have a pity party. I guess I am just writing out of a sort of deep desire and struggle I am going through.
It has to do with me not eating.
Because I get so nauseated when I eat, I take a lot of anti-nausea medication, which in turn is affecting my liver a little bit. I just have to watch how much medication I am taking. The solution to the problem is basically not to eat much by mouth so I don't get sick and I don't have to take medicine.
That, my friends, is hard to do.
I am really struggling. Everywhere I look, there's food. I grew up loving food and looking forward to my next meal. Food is something that I cherish and so many memories I have are centered around fun times eating with my family.
So you can imagine how feeding on my feeding tube and only eating crackers and jello has been for me.
I can eat other things, the problem is that I have severe gastroparesis, which means my stomach just doesn't move to digest. Things just sit there and in turn make me sick. And I don't want to be sick.
It's been hard. I don't want to go places where food is around because it's literally like torturing me. I just am in a bad place mentally where everything smells good and my stomach growls and my mouth waters. I know what it will do to my stomach if I eat, but it's so hard denying yourself of something you need. It's been really tough. It's hard being around food.
Not to mention having a feeding tube. I dislike the looks of the tube. It inhibits me and makes me feel strange. I am a bit self conscious of it, so I don't really enjoy having to have it on much, except for in the comfort of my home where no one has to see me using it.
I hope this feeling will pass, and that maybe I will learn something important out of this trial. I already have learned to rely on God for strength. I just don't know how to get these cravings to go away. I just struggle so much with the desire to eat.
I know I will be okay. I am just a little bit down today...I will be back up and fighting soon. For today, I just want to rest and relax and not think about food!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day.
And I have the best valentine ever.
My husband Kevin is the light of my life and the best valentine a girl could have. Today proved that yet again. I had an impromptu doctor's appointment and my husband (thanks to his awesome boss) was willing and able to drop everything to take care of me and go to my appointment with me. He also was so thoughtful and got me a new computer because I broke my old one. Plus he got me a teddy bear and he even went and got me some things I needed from the grocery store.
But all those things are just normal for Kevin to do. He's so thoughtful and wonderful to me.
When I married him 10 and 1/2 years ago, I never knew the trials we would face. I never knew my health problems would be what they are today. Neither did Kevin. But he's stuck by me and he's been the constant in my life when I needed him. He's been there every step of the way. I have been blessed in love.
I have lots of people I love, but most of all, I love Kevin Bradley McCarty. The one love that forever changed my life.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

An update on my life!

Again I am embarrassed at the length of time It's been since I've written, and truthfully I am going to be better at writing this time around. It helps me when I's therapeutic to write how I'm feeling.
It's been kind of a whirlwind week for me. I have so many emotions. Let me catch you up on the last few months if I may.
For many medical reasons I had a hysterectomy on Dec. 28th. I have had endometriosis, and a lot of female problems in the past. The doctors thought that a hysterectomy would be in my best interest. We were all nervous because my risk for infection is high because I have this connective tissue disease and a feeding tube and such. Many prayers were said, and this I know because my surgery was picture perfect. It was done laparoscopically and I didn't have to have a huge scar from surgery. That meant I had a better time healing, and things after surgery went wonderfully. I was at a hospital in Memphis, and when we got home, my mother flew in to be with me and help me. She stayed for several weeks and took wonderful care of me.
I was glad to have the hysterectomy, although truthfully, I was broken hearted at the same time. It just meant that I will never be a mother naturally. I have wanted children with Kevin for a long time, and although we knew it wasn't advisable due to my health, this just made it impossible and final. I am past the stage of feeling sorrowful about not having my own children, but I think I will always ache in my heart for a child. Mostly because I know that Kevin would be a wonderful dad.
Anyway, back to my update...
I was doing better with eating. I had my feeding tube inserted on Feb. 24th of last year with the hopes of doing better so I could get it out. The problem I have is called "Gastroparesis" which basically means that my stomach doesn't move properly so I can't digest food. So when I eat, the food just sits there at times without digesting and it makes me sick. Well, when I use my feeding tube, it basically pushes the food to my small intestine so it bypasses the stomach and I don't get sick. I say that to let you know that I had been doing better with introducing certain foods back into my diet. I was eating a few things that I could tolerate, but I was still getting very sick to my stomach again and I was taking too much anti-nausea medication, which has caused my liver enzymes to be elevated. So, the doctor has put me back to just feeding on the tube and not eating anything much by mouth. As you can imagine, this is tremendously hard for me. It's so difficult to deny yourself of something that you enjoy because it makes you sick. I struggle daily with this. I allow myself jello and crackers, but even that makes me feel bad sometimes. I just have to deal with this trial and I ask for your prayers because this is difficult. I am mulling over the idea of possibly getting a gastric pacemaker, but it's really a hard decision. What we had hoped was temporary (the feeding tube), is actually looking like a way of life that I just have to endure if I don't want to get sick all of the time. The Lord has been so good to me, and I will be okay!! I just need the prayers.
I have so much more to say, but I think I'll save it for the next post, which will be in the next day or so. I want to try to post something at least several times a week. I know I need to be writing and sharing things that the Lord lays on my heart. I want my friends and family to share with me in this journey. I want everyone to know my struggles, but my joys as well.
The greatest joy upcoming is the upcoming birth of my new nephew Benjamin who is due in March. I just can't wait to meet him.
I will talk the next time about some more of my internal struggles.
Much love to all who care enough about me to read this!!!
Love, Ami