Thursday, June 27, 2013

Life at Home

We've settled into our temporary (prayerfully!) 'new normal' here . . . it has taken some adjustment, but the days have been good ones! With my limited endurance and strength, it has been something quite new to me to sit quietly by and watch the busyness of my family as they tend to our home, garden, and the animals. Little by little, I've been able to start helping with things such as doing some laundry, helping with dinner, and washing the milk jars/pails/etc. which has been nice! Earlier this week, I was even able to go out in the morning and pick some peas and weed some in the garden, and this morning was able to prime a set of beehive boxes. It has been enjoyable to do things such as this, though it leaves me quite tired afterwards!

Despite the difficulties and adjustments, the past few weeks have been good for me . . . especially considering that just shortly before I became sick, I was beginning to be overwhelmed by all that needed to be done, wondering, and yes worrying a bit, how everything that needed to be accomplished would be . . . interesting timing, isn't it? :) The Lord knows my weaknesses and through illness and this time of convalescence, is teaching me some important lessons. I can see His hand on my life and His work in my heart so clearly in many areas, and how thankful I am for that!

As far as the rest of my family . . . their love, care, hard work, cheerfulness and so much more is amazing. They are taking such good care of me, and my heart overflows with gratefulness and thankfulness for them! I cannot put into words how very much they mean to me! How did I get so blessed?

In Mom's spare time, she has been working a lot in the vegetable garden, and it is looking so much better! She's been weeding, mulching, staking tomatoes, hoeing, harvesting, and accomplishing so much in not much time. She is a talented gardener! And this is a labor of love as she knows that the vegetable garden is something I love to work in and keep neat.

The garden as of this morning . . . I wish I had a photo of it before Mom began all her work after we got home from the hospital!

Mom busy mulching the walkway between the mangel beets and potatoes

During my walks out there to admire her work and the growth of the plants, I am amazed each time at how much she has accomplished (and Leah, too! - she's been helping when she can.) During the week we were at the hospital, the weeds flourished in the garden thanks to a lot of rain and warm temperatures. Yet she's been quickly gaining ground (literally!) over the weeds . . .


It doesn't look like a garden, does it?!


Much better!

And here are a few more photos of the garden that I took this morning . . .

A narrow row of beets between two rows of tomatoes

There are a lot of tomatoes on the vines now! A promise and hope of what is to come :)

A beautiful nasturtium flower

Oriole Orange Swiss Chard . . . a new variety this year

The celery plants have done very well so far!

We've been able to enjoy fresh from the garden salads now and fresh-picked blueberries as well . . . delicious! And there is a lot more growing in the garden that will be ready to harvest before long. (And I took a lot more photos than these, so maybe I'll be able to get a garden update post ready to share soon.)

Leah has been very busy as well with many things including animal chores, milking, helping in the garden when she can, keeping up with house cleaning, and filling crochet orders for her Etsy shop. Yet there's always a smile on her face no matter how tired she gets. :) Her cheerfulness and sunshine are such a blessing!

Making dinner

Dad has been very busy as well, and one of the smaller projects he did recently was assemble the beehive boxes that arrived a few weeks ago (the ones that I primed this morning) . . .

Ready to prime and paint

He was also often the one to bring me to my afternoon antibiotic infusion treatments, and I loved that extra time with him! We had a lot of fun together, and good discussions as well. These appointments took a big chunk out of his day (several hours), yet he was always so happy to bring me and never complained but instead always made me feel like there was nothing he would rather do. :) The times that Mom or Leah had brought me in were always enjoyable as well!

And speaking of infusion treatments . . . this past Tuesday was my last one and my PICC line was removed, too! I saw the Infectious Disease Specialist on Monday, and while there are still a few puzzling things going on with me (my slow regaining of strength and lymph nodes that swelled up again partway through the treatment [but thankfully, they are shrinking again now]), but he believed it best to take me off of the antibiotic for now and see how I do without it. There are still some questions and uncertainties, and it will be interesting to see what the coming weeks bring.

I have to say, I was a little nervous about getting off of the antibiotic with how I was feeling physically . . . what if the antibiotic is only holding whatever 'it' is at bay? What if I begin losing my ability to walk again? Yet those doubts/fears were quickly quelled when I remembered Who is holding me fast in His hand . . . what if those things happen? He is more than capable to bring me through them and to use them for my good. 

So now we are just watching and waiting, and are thanking the Lord for each new gain I make. And yesterday was another unexpected day of marked improvement! As I went about the house cleaning, outdoors to get the laundry off of the line, and out to see the goats, I couldn't help breaking into smiles again and again, tears in my eyes, as I thanked the Lord over and over . . . what progress had been made so quickly! I was cleaning! I was able to have endurance to be up on my feet doing things for quite a long time! Yes, I was moving slower, and I am tireder today because of doing more yesterday, but it was a big step forward. :)

Once again, thank you all for praying! It means so much!

Monday, June 17, 2013

On the Road to Recovery

Day by day, strength is returning, and I can walk better and better . . . 
how thankful I am to the Lord for that!

Last week was quite the adventure leading up to this point . . . I was bit by a tick a week ago from this past Saturday, and then the next evening, noticed that the lymph nodes near the bite were swollen and tender and the bite itself was red and swollen more than normal. The next morning, I went to the doctor and was put on a strong antibiotic as it looked to be either a tick-borne illness or a secondary infection from the bite.

Tuesday was a busy day with canning strawberry jam, making bread and yogurt, and numerous other things, and by the end of the day, I was really tired. As I got ready for bed, I kept feeling weaker and weaker and my steps were getting slower and slower. Then when I walked to my bed, I was starting to struggle walking and was beginning to lose control of my legs. I thought that maybe I had just overdone it and after a good night's sleep, I would be back to normal. 

The next morning, though, I was worse and had quite an uncoordinated gait, could only take small steps, my feet were turning inward as I walked, my arms were also weaker, and the symptoms were more significantly affecting my left side. Thankfully, I was able to get right in to the doctor and after a quick exam, she wanted to send me to the hospital so I could be admitted.

Dad and Mom were both with me which I was so thankful for! Dad brought us right to the door, and Mom helped me walk into the hospital and get admitted. These few hours were hard as I was a little scared as I didn't know what was going on with my body, I was getting worse and worse, and a hospital stay and all the tests that were to come were all new experiences for me.

With the symptoms I was having, especially the partial and progressing paralysis of my legs, I was referred to both a neurologist and an infectious disease specialist and from the moment I arrived, I was whisked from one thing to the next . . . first an MRI on my brain, then to my room where I was seen by the Infectious Disease Specialist and Neurologist, to radiology where I had a spinal tap done, and then back to my room for a litany of blood tests and for the IV antibiotics to be started

The exams by the doctors were much the same . . . asking questions about my symptoms, time frames, etc. and then checking for reflexes, the extent of the paralysis and numbness, etc. The Neurologist also did strength tests on my legs and arms. By this time, my feet and legs were to the point that when he put his hands on the bottom of my feet and told me to push, and even though I pushed as hard as I could, he could barely feel anything. During the 'pin-prick test', I also could feel nothing. 

Then I tried to walk for him, and he assisted me as I tried. He had me walk flat-footed, on my toes, and on my heels . . . trying to do this brought tears to my eyes as by that point, I could barely stay on my feet as my legs were so uncoordinated . . . in my exhausted and muddled-brain state, I was having difficulty keeping a check on my emotions! And as the hours passed through all of this, I was continuing to worsen.

Finally I was settled in bed, the tests were all done, and the three different antibiotics were started. Mom stayed with me the entire time during my stay which was a great blessing! And Dad and Leah were there for as much of each day as they could be (basically, whenever they weren't doing chores or sleeping!), and Ryan and Ashley were calling to check on me and to let us know that they were praying.

Flowers that were sent to me by dear friends . . . they are looking a little droopier here as the photo was taken today and they were delivered the second day I was at the hospital. It was/is a beautiful bouquet and really brightened up my room!

That first night Mom and I tried to get at least a little sleep, though we weren't very successful . . . hospital beds are not the most comfortable and all Mom had was a recliner that didn't want to stay reclined! Needless to say, we were both glad when morning arrived. :) I was feeling a bit better overall in the morning, but was a little nervous the first time I got up . . . was I going to be worse? Able to walk at all? Well, Mom helped me sit up and got my legs brought around to the side of the bed, helped me to stand, and then we kind of held our breaths as I tried to walk . . . and I could. It was very slow, still pretty uncoordinated, but I could walk. What a wonderful thing that was!! Our hearts rejoiced and thanked the Lord for this answer to prayer!

Shortly after that, the doctors began arriving, doing their exams and sharing the results of the tests which were: that there was no brain tumor, there had been no stroke, I didn't have meningitis, and a number of tick diseases were eliminated as well. As things were getting narrowed down, the doctors stopped two of my antibiotics so all I was getting was one very strong one through my IV every 24 hours. My symptoms all point the most to something like Lyme Disease, although many things don't 'fit' such as how quickly the symptoms developed. I'll have more tests done in a couple of weeks which may give the answer, but as one of the doctor's shared, what I had could be a different tick-borne illness that they haven't even identified yet. Either way, I was/am getting better!

A sweet card from dear friends who visited me at the hospital

The doctors said that with how I was improving, I should be able to go home soon, but would need a PICC line inserted first so that I could receive my daily antibiotic through that instead of the IV. And as Leah mentioned in her post, the first attempt didn't work.

After that attempt, I received the next round of antibiotics through my IV, and it was awful. This antibiotic is very strong and hard on veins, and I was getting a very high dose of it due to how sick I was. The pain was intense, and while I laid there trying to hold back the tears, Mom held my hand and stroked my head, Dad got me a wet rag for my forehead, and we all just endured and prayed through the next 20 minutes until it was finished.

After that experience, we were really hoping and praying that the PICC line would be able to go in the next day! I was brought down the next morning for a second try, and Mom came with. The nurse did an ultrasound on my arms and found one possible vein . . . it wasn't a very good possibility, but at least it was better than nothing! She patiently and persistently worked, and it was a success! The PICC line was in! Mom gave a sigh of relief and said something about it being an answer to prayer, and I told her that I had been praying the entire time, too, and the nurse responded and said that she had been as well. :) We were all so thankful that those prayers were answered with a 'yes!'

Cheery flowers from Ryan and Ashley which they brought over last night

Back in my room, the neurologist had me walk for him, and he gave the go ahead for me to be discharged! He said that since I was able to walk on my own now and was improving, that I shouldn't need physical therapy, but would just need to exercise at home. One by one things were being checked off of the discharge process list, and before long, we were on our way home.

It was a rough, yet good week . . . the Lord proved His faithfulness and care time and time again and was so very near to me; I was incredibly blessed by the outpouring of love and thoughtfulness from friends and family, was thankful for the opportunities that the Lord gave for me to talk with each of the nurses, transport people, doctors, etc., and a few times about the Lord (something I had been praying for!), almost everyone who worked with me was excellent and made the procedures, etc., much easier on me, and now I am home. And I cannot tell you how good it is to be home again! And around 13 hours of sleep that first night made me feel even better. :) 

At home recuperating :)

I have my ups and downs still, yet I am daily getting stronger. The dizzyness and lightheadedness have passed, my legs are getting stronger, and I can walk better. Today showed the most marked improvement since coming home, and this morning I was even able to walk out and visit the goats and pull a few weeds in the garden! Now I just have eight more days of getting IV antibiotics and then have a follow-up appointment with the Infectious Disease Specialist shortly after that. It's unsure whether or not I'll recover completely, but each new gain we are so thankful for!

Going through something like this makes me all the more grateful and thankful for the loving Father and immovable Rock whom I have to trust in and lean on . . . how sweet to rest in His "everlasting arms" knowing I am safe with Him no matter what circumstances we might go through! His peace truly does pass understanding. And I also am so thankful for the family who loves and cares for me so unconditionally. They are really, really amazing. :) 

Everyone's love, care and support were an incredible blessing and strong support to me as we went through this together. From Mom's sweet and encouraging spirit as she stayed with me at the hospital the entire time helping me (and I needed a lot of help!), to Dad and Leah doing all of the chores (including milking three goats for Leah!) and trekking back and forth to the hospital time and time again and helping keep my spirits up, to now that we are home, their loving care of me as I recover (including flowers and skittles that Ryan and Ashley brought me yesterday when they stopped by to visit! :) I am so richly blessed!

Blessed also with friends who care . . . once again, I want to thank you all so much for your kind comments and for your prayers. They meant so much! I have read each of your comments several times and would like to be able to thank each one of you personally for your care and thoughtfulness. Though we have never met, I am so thankful for all of you! You all have been a great blessing to me . . . thank you!

"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name." (Psalm 103:1)

(This verse was in one of the Psalms I read while in the hospital . . . the whole Psalm was an encouragement to my heart! Indeed, bless His holy name!)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Thank you!

Thank you all so very much for your prayers and caring comments! They meant so much to me!! It was really a blessing and comfort knowing so many were/are caring and praying as I/we went through this. It was a difficult couple of days, but I am so glad to be feeling better and to be walking on my own again. That was a great answer to prayer! I'll write more later, but just wanted to post a little something to say 'thank you.' :) You all are a blessing!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Prayer Request for Sarah

Just a quick update.... Sarah is home! They were able to get her PICC line in this morning and she will be going back in to the hospital once a day for the next 11 days to receive her meds. She is exhausted and still far from well, but is thrilled to be back home again. Who knew that three days could feel so long! Sarah also wanted me to say thank you from her to all of you for your sweet comments and prayers for her. You are a blessing!

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Hello everyone! This is Leah (Sarah's sister) and I am just writing a quick post to request prayer for Sarah. She started having symptoms on Sunday of a tick-borne illness and it worsened quickly from just a little inflammation to the point that on Wednesday she couldn't even walk on her own. The doctor started her on oral antibiotics on Monday but, since she was rapidly getting worse, she was hospitalized two days ago to run a number of tests and give her antibiotics through an IV.

She has been through so much so far... an MRI, blood-work, a spinal tap, and the doctors still don't know what is causing this other than that it is most likely a tick-borne disease of some kind. Since being started on the IV antibiotics, she is showing some signs of improvement and is now able to walk by herself which is a huge blessing and has really encouraged all of us. She still has a long road ahead of her though and we're not sure yet when she'll be well enough to come home. 

From what I understand, she is going to be on intravenous antibiotics for twelve more days which will hopefully knock out whatever it is that's causing this. Yesterday, they were going to insert a PICC line so that she can receive her antibiotics through that, but they couldn't find a vein since she was apparently too dehydrated. Since then, they started her on IV fluids and are going to try the PICC again today. That is the main hold-up for her being able to come home, so we are really hoping it will be successful this time! Not to mention that getting the antibiotics each afternoon through her IV is very painful for her and the PICC line should hopefully alleviate that. 

So with all that said, if you all could be praying for Sarah it would be such a blessing. Thank you!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

May on Our Little Farm

Today marks the day of a new month . . . June! It is going to be a fun and exciting month I think, and pleasantly busy, too. The month of May certainly was! The days and weeks went by so quickly, and they were full of hard yet satisfying work, springtime delights, special moments with family, the wonders of God's creation, laughter, progress, learning, overcoming obstacles, rainy days, garden planting, and much more. 

While I would like to be able to write a long and detailed post recapping everything, time is somewhat limited right now as our project list is quite long! So some photos will have to do the job of giving a glimpse into our month of May . . .


Starting to build fence (we have a lot of this to do! we want to make small paddocks over quite a bit of our acreage so we can rotate the goats through to graze.)


Enjoying the goats and getting them reintroduced to electric fence as they begin to graze in the first paddock we made (this one is just made of electro-net - we'll use electric rope for the others)  . . .



Leah and Lily



A Flycatcher that was flitting around while we watched the goats

Sweet Daisy again . . . since she's mine and I'll be keeping her, I'm rather partial to her :)

Most of the French Alpines

And while on the topic of goats . . . we got a new buck! Two in fact (a Boer and a French Alpine.) Since we will be retaining does this year, we'll need different bucks to breed them to next year. We really like the two we were able to get! Here's the French Alpine buck just a little while after getting home . . . he's not quite sure about everything at this point . . . .

Celebrating Mom's Birthday

Ashley and Gracen

Adelyn helping Mom unwrap one of her gifts from Dad (and no, he didn't get her something from Midway USA! That's just the box he used to wrap it in.)

Adelyn 'reading' one of her Grandma's new books

Two budding pianists!
 Adelyn loves to play the piano so I sat her down at it so she could play, and then Gracen crawled over, pulled herself up and starting playing, too! 


I had an unsuccessful second attempt at making shampoo this week . . . well in actuality, it was trying to salvage my first attempt! I had made shampoo bars earlier this year, but with our hard water, they didn't work and instead left one's hair 'sticky' . . . not pleasant!

The shampoo bars

So . . . since liquid soap leaves less residue than bar soap, I tried melting the soap down and turning it into liquid shampoo just to see if that worked better. After using it a few times though, I still don't think it's going to work.

The liquid shampoo in the process of being made

Anyone else have a recipe that they use for homemade shampoo (either liquid or bar) that works well with hard water? If so, would you mind sharing? Thanks so much!


Having fresh cut flowers in the house again has been a delight! And the irises especially as they have a lovely scent. (the photos are a little 'bright' as it was dark and stormy out so I needed to use a flash)


Rhubarb! Mom harvested the first stalks this week . . .

. . . and made a delicious rhubarb/strawberry crisp. :)


The wonders of His creation and a reminder of His promises . . .


A beautiful double rainbow stretching from horizon to horizon after one of the many storms moved through was amazing to see! Leah and I were outdoors in the process of moving the dairy kids into the barn for the night (which was where I was) when Leah saw it and called me to come see it . . . 

After looking at it and admiring it a bit, I ran inside to get my camera and hence the photos. :) It was so neat as while we were watching it, Common Nighthawks were flying in the sky and crossing in front of the rainbow (you can see one of them in the above photo.)

As we watched the sky was changing colors from blue to tinged with red . . .

So beautiful!

Every time I see a rainbow, I am reminded of God's promise to Noah in the book of Genesis . . . the rainbow was given as a sign and promise of a covenant that God made with Him. And how faithful the Lord is to keep His promises! 

The opposite view from the rainbow overlooking our neighbor's pasture . . . the photo doesn't capture it, but it was raining and the sun was reflecting off of it and the drops were so distinct!

 After we finished moving the dairy goat kids and we had bottle fed the Boer kids, the evening sun was shining and everything was lit up with that unusual yellow color which only comes after a storm . . .

 Looking out across part of the garden


And while on the subject of the garden, we managed to get most of it planted in between periods of rain/storms, and so far, it is doing well despite the deluge of rain, flooding, and heavy winds it has endured the last week or two . . . and a garden update post will be coming soon!

The peas are blossoming and pods are growing!


On the rainy days when thunderstorms rolled through in quick succession, fun projects were able to be done such as deep cleaning, reorganizing, and doing some decorating in several rooms.

In Leah's and my room


And some things that photos did not capture . . .

~ Morning milkings which Leah and I always enjoy!

~ Beehive inspections . . . the hives are all doing really well! We now have five as my Dad and I did an artificial swarm from one of them last week. The bees have stored a lot of honey away already which is exciting. We hope to extract soon . . . maybe next week!

~ The first strawberries harvested from the garden

~ A great deal of sewing

~ Transplanting hostas from one garden to another, and more.

May was a wonderful month, and we're all looking forward to what June will bring!