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April 20, 2019

The Significance in a Date


Four. Twenty Three.

Some dates stand out in your memory and remain highlighted for the rest of your life.


It was a windy day. I had a local wedding to shoot in Colington. I was in a fog when I walked into the venue- but remember thinking of the irony in the purple decor, in light of Prince’s recent passing. The true irony was that my brain was allowing me to focus on anything but the black cloud hanging over my head.

My Daddy was in the hospital. The sand was running out in his hourglass of life and there was nothing I could do to slow it down.

“He has pancreatic cancer,” I told my {amazing} photog-assistant, Dana.

A little over two weeks, he left us for heaven.

Each year, 4.23 begins the remember where we were in 2016...today, we were transferred to different hospital...today, he said he was sorry he had to go- and promised to visit my dreams...today, he got taken off all his IVs and danced into the hallway- fell & got a black eye. Our memories drive us down the path we walked, and remind us how short life truly is.

As difficult as it is to relive some of those memories, I wouldn't trade them for the world. I soak in every detail, every tear drop, every smile, every bit of every memory...

4.23.17

I ran my first ever half marathon in Daddy’s honor. It was the perfect distraction for a date so significant in our lives. I felt him with me the entire run, whispering words of encouragement.

Mama stood proudly at the finish line, wearing his hat, and while tears flowed down my face- so much symbolism hit me. I finished my race...on a date that began Daddy’s race to his heavenly home. #13.1mileswillmakeyouthink

4.23.18

I went to work and cried silently at my desk. I kept the significance of the date to myself.

I felt like my insides were going to explode. Note to self: #dontdothatagain

4.23.19

It will be my mom’s last day as director of Roanoke Island Presbyterian Daycare. God chose her, almost 30 years ago, to do his work in a childcare ministry...something she’d never done before. She has not only been a director, teacher, and friend to many, but a mother to the babies and young parents she served. Now, God is telling her to rest and enjoy watching the ministry grow from the outside.

My mom is a glass-is-half-full kind of person. It can rain for days and she will remind you how beautiful the garden will be because of it. I know she chose this day to redirect our sadness into something happy. Daddy’s dream for her was to retire and enjoy life’s little details, without the worry of what she was falling behind on.

This year, I am looking forward to celebrating 4.23 and all of the lives mom has touched throughout her career. I can’t wait to get the phone call on a random Wednesday morning, from a happy retiree in her beach chair in the sand.

Happy Retirement, Mama!!


April 13, 2019

Tales of a Not-So-Tough Dog Named Tuff: Hunting Lessons

I will never forget the day we brought our lab home for the first time 5 years ago. We had lost one of our older fur-babies a few months prior- and saw the lab-litter posted online shortly thereafter. We knew it was meant to be for this tiny ball of white fur to come live with us. He would comfortably fit in the hood of my sweatshirt, which is where he snuggled many mornings while I edited photos in my home-office.


“I think we should call him Chief,” my husband said.


I disagreed emphatically, flashing through dozens of horses from days-gone-by named Chief. #alljackasses

“How about Tuff...for Tuff Hedeman,” I suggested, adding fun facts about the bull rider.



It is still a joke today that because I named him, he's my dog. The name is the biggest oxymoron of all.freaking.time. While my husband had high hopes and dreams of many hunting adventures with his handsome side-kick, Tuff mostly hunts for snuggles, kisses, and any spare sock left in sight. #mastersockhunter #mamasboy

Full disclosure: this last duck season, my husband became completely addicted to quack. We appreciate your prayers during this difficult time. #sendwine

During said season, my sweet man decided to give my our sock-hunting pup another chance and started working with him on sit, stay, go get the duck, lessons. Tuff did all the things perfectly, retrieving his rubber-ducky like a champ. Duck calls made him jump for joy...which equally, made the husband jump for joy.

“I think he’s actually going to be a hunting dog. He is smart,” said my sweet man.

“He is smart, but I think unless you get him a wetsuit, he may hate every second of hunting...or drown because he can’t swim...at all,” I replied. (Seriously, he sinks like a rock if you can get him to go near any body of water.)

Nonetheless, the lessons continued until the fateful morning when ducks were brought home from a hunting trip. #deadasadoornail They were laying on the concrete when Tuff’s entire day was ruined. He ran outside, overly excited to see his Daddy when he saw them, sniffed them...and his sweet little heart broke.

“Here, bud...it’s a duck!”

They are not breathing!!! Why aren’t they breathing!?! Hang on, little guy. Maybe I could administer CPR...Mom is going to kill you, Dad. I had nothing to do with the death of these poor creatures, you murderer.

“Here...just sniff it…”

*sniffs again* No!! They’re definitely dead. Too far gone for CPR. I feel sick. I can’t even breathe with that thing near me. I may vomit. These poor ducks…you monster.

“Tuff...just take the duck in your mouth, it's just like your duck!”

Liar. It is not and I will not open my mouth. Absolutely the hell not. Mom told me never to my mouth on the birds...now I see why. She told me they were fragile. Get a crowbar because my jaws are shut and will continue to be shut until you get that lifeless body away from it. I will not take the blame for your wrongdoing...nope...nope...nope. Mom is going to be so mad. She loves our birds.

About the time that Tuff looks like he’s going to have a nervous breakdown, I walk outside.

“What is that, Tuffy?!”

Ask Dad. Tuff sits down, staring back at me wide-eyed, like he’s done something very wrong. Then looks at Kirk, like you’re in for it now. Have fun living outside- I’m taking your side of the bed.

“I think our lessons are over. He’s scared of the dead ducks,”

I giggled to myself.

Oh Tuff- to be named for a cowboy who loved to jokingly call Lane Frost a “puss”...you are indeed, a puss yourself. But if snuggling was an olympic sport, you would be a gold medal winner every time.

April 4, 2019

Spare Mare Monday


“Ummm Mama…did we get a new horse?” Little Miss asks, while peaking out her window Monday morning.

Now, I know I’m overtired. (We’d traveled to Atlanta over the weekend.) I know that I have only slept roughly 12 hours total in the last three days…but I’m pretty sure I didn’t get a new horse- or offer for anyone’s horse to come live with us. Like….90% sure…fairly certain.

I look out the window and as sure as the day is long, there is a spare horse is in our driveway. I throw on my muck boots, grab a halter, and take off.

About the time I reach the bottom step, I hear what sounds like thunder followed by an earth shattering squeal.

Tristan, the majestic unicorn comes flying towards the fence- ears forward, head arched, tail straight up in the air. He comes to a screeching halt, inches before hitting the electric wire- dust flies as if he's a rockstar walking onto the stage. #prettyflywhiteguy

T, I do not have time for you to fall in love with this mare right now. I could see it was already too late- his pupils were already shaped like hearts.

I almost have my hands on spare-mare when a truck that I don’t recognize stops.

“Do you need help, miss?” Asked the stranger, as the spare trots away, unicorn in tow.

Frustrated, I spun around to ask ‘what makes you think I need help’ when I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the truck. Half-done makeup, hair in last-night’s bun, no coffee and work-clothes…I see his point- to say I looked a little confused and disheveled would certainly be the understatement of the year. I thanked him for his kindness and assured said stranger “I’ve got this.” #hedidntbelieveme

Meanwhile, Tristan is doing everything he can to impress the spare-mare. Prancing, batting his big blue eyes, promising her the world…all.of.it. Harry? Harry is in his stall waiting patiently like, “Excuse me…will the lady be delaying our dining time?”

Much to Tristan’s dismay, spare-mare’s owners arrived shortly after she did to take her home. You know, to her real home, not the summer-home Tristan had promised her in their fairy-tale life together.

As she walked away, I could practically feel his heart shatter. It was like watching an old movie, when the husband goes off to war…but with horses. He screamed…he bucked…he paced with his head down while snorting in protest. (After spending a mere few minutes with his gal- talk about love at first sight.)

Harry- still in his stall. Still patiently awaiting breakfast.

The dust settles, quite literally, everyone eats and off to work I go. (I did comb my hair and finish my makeup, don’t fret.)

Cut to later that evening, I go outside to tuck in the horses for bed. (Doesn’t everyone do that?) #totallynormal I walk downstairs and see a very happy unicorn standing in the corner, next to the love of his life…spare-mare.

Mom, she’s returned! I knew she’d come back to me!” His eyes said it all. (Is it weird that I imagine what he would say? If so, we can’t be friends.)

I sigh and shake my head, hoping we have a few more years before we have to deal with the actual teenage-human-heartbreak.

March 27, 2019

Endoscopy & Honesty


The day after I made the appointment for my endoscopy, I started silently worrying something would go wrong. It is my nature to joke about things that worry me. #moonwalk {See previous post}

I hugged Little Miss a little extra. I snuggled my horses a little longer. I did all the things a little extra in preparation for a minor (but really how minor is a camera going down one's throat) procedure before we set out for my early morning appointment.

We arrived early. While I am a better-late-than-never kind of person, my husband is more of a you're-late-if-you aren't-early kind of fella. #yethereweare So...we are early- he's sipping his coffee, when I realize I should probably look over the instructions for my procedure. I hadn't eaten, that was one instruction I remembered vividly.

"Huh...no nail polish? Well I'm not doing that. No makeup? I'm glad I didn't read this last night. Bunch of negativity is all this is," I mumbled.

We sat quietly for a few minutes and I knew I had to speak my irrational, yet completely rational-in-the-moment thoughts.

"If I die...do NOT sell my horses," I said.

He almost spit out his coffee.

"What? You'll be fine!" 

"I'm serious. You cannot under any circumstances sell them. IF you can't care for them, which would make me really haunt you...they can go to one of the following two places," I said while listing off pre-approved homes.

My sweet husband let out a deep sigh. 

"And...also...this was not til death...this," I said, pointing at our wedding bands, "is forever."

I'm not sure which was making him more nervous, my post-mortem instructions or my pending procedure. Regardless, it was showtime.

They took me back relatively quickly. I was instructed to put on a lovely gown and hop onto the bed to wait for my IV. I sat quietly, twirling my necklace. Shit, I was supposed to take off my jewelry. 

After my IV was in, I listened to the conversations going on beside me. An older man had just had a colonoscopy and his wife was telling him he couldn't drive home. He argued that he was still a better driver than her.

I hope I don't say everything I am thinking after this, I thought to myself.

"You look nervous," said the little Asian anesthesiologist, as she opened the curtain.

Oh dear, she looks just like Kai-Lan. 

My mind flashed back to yester-year, when Little Miss watched endless amounts of Ni Hao, Kai-Lan and I worried she would learn to speak English with a Chinese accent. My real-life concern at that moment was that as soon as she administered my happy meds, I would tell her. Or order an egg roll because lets face it, I was starving. #jesustakethewheel #alwaysfivetenminute

"Will you be with me the whole time?" I asked.

"Yep! Don't worry...you be fine," she replied. 

The last thing I remember was telling the gastroenterologist that I wanted to go out to breakfast- not with him, but I wanted him to put it in my release order that my husband was to take me to Cracker Barrel...and Chic-Fil-A. (I consciously didn't mention Chinese food.)

It felt like seconds later, I was in recovery. Apparently, I had a lengthy conversation with a nurse about how ridiculous it was to tell patients they can't wear nail polish or makeup. #dumbrule

I may have whisper-yelled something about being a rebel.  
#nobodyputsbabyinacornerwithoutmascara

"You might want to take her phone from her...she will tell people what she really thinks today and that might not be good for her work," the nurse explained.

"I work for a lawyer," I slurred.

"Oh yes. Hide her phone," she said.

All in all, the procedure was a success. My doctor, who did leave instructions to stop for food on the way home, said he found nothing alarming in my esophagus. I do have reflux but he feels we can manage it with medication. #bless

"Did I tell you my anesthesiologist was Asian?" I asked my husband on the way home.

"Yes, about five different times," he said, chuckling.

"Oh...I think I ordered us dinner from her...at least I didn't moonwalk," I said, proudly.

At least...I don't think I did. 





**Thank you for all the prayers!**


March 22, 2019

Down with the Sickness...or Thickness?


It started back in the fall...I felt off- something wasn’t exactly right, but I pressed on. It was a weird thickness or knot in my throat that I just couldn’t accurately describe to anyone. (Plus, my mind is in the gutter 98% of the time so...you know, had the shoe been on the other foot and a friend of mine came to me with said complaint- I would make a dirty joke. #itisaterriblethingtowaste)
Weeks went by....I google-diagnosed myself with a number of illnesses. I spent too much money on OTC meds to count...nothing worked. I decided to visit Urgent Care, simply b/c it was closer to work and I wouldn’t have to take off. #loyalemployee

“Potentially sinuses...here is a zpack. If it doesn’t feel better, come back in,” the doctor said.

Part of me felt better, part of me was calling some serious bullshit. I’ve had sinus issues since I was old enough to properly pronounce the word allergy. This wasn’t that.

After a few more weeks went by, I met with my regular doctor to describe what I had then diagnosed as a potential ulcer. The uncomfortable knot in my throat had been joined with a weird pain in my side...google pointed to my gallbladder- while my doctor pointed out questions as to why I’d stopped taking my anxiety meds last year. #thishasnothingtodowiththat #focuslady

“Okay...I’m going to order an ultrasound of your side for the pain...but what about stress? Is anything new worrying you that could be causing or helping to create an ulcer?” she asked.

“Well...my best friend was just diagnosed with cancer...for the second time. My horse has a respiratory issue and can’t breathe. I can’t fix either of them...so,” she stopped me.

“You can’t worry yourself with things you can’t control,” she said, in a very namaste fashion.

Bullshit, lady. And just who are you to tell me what I can and can’t worry about?! With God all things are possible...and I’m worrying about every last one of them. #withallduerespectmaam

Moving forward, I continued to have the weird throat thickness daily, although the pain in my side faded. I was not overly concerned with the results from my ultrasound because my issue was much further north.

I logged on to mychart.com to check my results- and read a word I’d never seen before. Angiomyolipoma. Angiomyolipoma!? On my kidney!?! I turned to Dr. Google, while rapidly speed dialing my doctor for an explanation. She assured me it was nothing. I think she’s lying, naturally, because if it was nothing why was I being ordered to get a CT-Scan? (Plus according to google, it is a benign tumor- but if it ruptures...you can bleed to death. #minordetail)

Meanwhile...thickness in my throat...still there...every.time.I.swallow. Remember how the doctor said it could be stress related? Adding a new potential diagnosis to the table was not making the stress level go down, no matter how many yoga positions I tried.

CT Scan...midday...and I haven’t been able to eat since the night before so I’m a real peach to be around. I’ve been assured the scan does not include the dye-contrast. (My dad had a reaction to it so I asked because of the likelihood of me having a reaction, as well.)

I get situated on the table, with a tech on each side of me. One is explaining what will happen, while the other begins an IV.

“WAIT...I’m not supposed to have an IV. I don’t get the dye. No dye contrast! NO DYE!” I yelled, snatching my arm away from her, as if I was speaking to someone who didn’t speak a lick of english. (I am not sure why I did that but I needed to be clear, ese.)

“Who told you that? Well, they misinformed you,” the tech assured me.

At this point, I have on no-pants so it’s not like I can just prance my happy ass out of the room in protest. I was feeling a bit like those actresses with Harvey Weinstein, to be honest. #toosoon?

“You’re going to feel like you’re peeing...you’re not,” they say, in complete monotone.

I definitely felt like I had to pee...then an overwhelming urge to sneeze took over my entire body. Don’t panic, do not panic, do not freak out...you don’t have to sneeze, you are not peeing...you can’t sneeze b/c then you may, very well, pee….don’t sneeze, don’t pee...don’t sneeze, don’t pee.

Finally, it was over. At last, I could eat. A week (and a tiny-temper tantrum in the doctor’s office) later, I received the results that the angiomyolipoma was nothing to be concerned with.

“Great...that’s fantastic news. So...about my original issue- my throat is still not right,” I explained.

After I assured her I had not just swallowed something wrong…(seriously, it’s like God was testing my ability to stop myself from saying something inappropriate)...for the last three months, I was referred to a gastroenterologist. While it took two months to get an appointment- I was still excited to have someone, anyone, who may have some answers to the weirdness.

Seconds after meeting my new doctor, I explained all my feelings, while she nodded along.

“I have tried everything. Prilosec for a full month, nothing. I stopped eating any foods that caused issues...even gluten because I read online that it can be a trigger for GERD. It helped some but the odd feeling is still there. I feel crazy,” I said.

“You aren’t crazy...this is one of two things- I think we need to do an endoscopy...and just pop in there and take a look. It is not a big deal- it's a minor procedure..we will give you propofol…”

“Wait...that is what took out Michael Jackson!” I screeched.

She laughed, assuring me they wouldn’t give me that much.

“So more thriller than killer?” I joked.

“Oh...we will have fun with you,” she laughed.

I smiled...hoping she doesn’t plan to video me moonwalking out of the office post-endoscopy.

My youtube debut is tentatively scheduled for 3/26. Fingers crossed for some answers- I’m bringing my sparkly glove just in case. #futureyoutubesensation **Keep my sister/friend in your prayers...Ging is kicking some cancer tail & getting shiny, new stem cells to help her battle. She's our person...our hero...a huge part of our world...and we can't wait until she's back at home!**