Sunday, May 25, 2014

I Left my Appendix (and heart) in Virginia!!!

HEY EVERYBODY!!! I know that at least most of y’all know that I’m home by now because of health issues, however, I just wanted to update you all on my last week in the mission field leading all the way up to my departure and arrival back home in the Rocky Mountains. Just a warning: Because I had the time, and I didn’t want to risk forgetting anything myself about this event in the future, this is extremely detailed and long. Do not feel like you need to read all of it if you do not desire. But here are all the details for anyone who would like to know. :) It all escalated pretty quickly, to be honest. Monday I was still not feeling well; however, I somehow managed to get past the whole feeling deathly ill thing until AFTER we were able to get all of our shopping and e-mailing done, which was muy importante. :) Haha. After that, however, it was all downhill from there. Pretty soon, shortly before 6:00 hit, I began to feel an immense sharp pain in my stomach, and it progressively got worse as the night went on. We went and visited a sweet less-active member in our ward, and the entire time we were visiting with her (for about thirty minutes or so), I was having to awkwardly sit on the foot rest and lean back, and put most of my weight on my left side because my right side was in so much pain, I couldn’t even sit on my right side anymore by that point. But it was all good! Haha. After we were done visiting with sweet Winnie, we were on our way to have a lesson with one of our investigators whom I still hadn’t met yet. We even had a member coming with us who met us there, but then our investigator cancelled at the last minute. This ended up being one of the biggest tender mercies of the Lord because by this point, I was in so much excruciating pain that I couldn’t hold it together anymore, and I was just awkwardly sitting in the back seat of the car, just sobbing to myself. My companions know me well enough to know that I’m not much of a cryer – in fact, I’ll do just about anything to keep myself from crying, or really showing any sort of sad emotion, especially in front of other people. I know it’s probably not very healthy, but I’m working on it. Haha. Anyways, since my companions knew this, they knew that things must’ve been pretty darn bad for me to be sobbing like I was in front of them. So since Sister Ellis was driving, she turned to Sister Osmond and told her to call Sister Riggs, which she did. After Sister Osmond explained to Sister Riggs about what was going on with me, Sister Riggs instructed us to call Dr. Dunn (the Mission Doctor), and talk to him and see if he could at least prescribe me some sort of pain medication to tie me over until I could get into an Urgent Care the next day (Urgent Cares are really funny in VA, at least in Arlington, and they close around 6:00 at night, and by this point it was about 8:30, so it was already closed). So I called Dr. Dunn, but he wasn’t in, so I talked to his wife, but bless her heart, she wasn’t able to do much for me, either. She told me to take a lot of Aleve, and then ibuprofen the next afternoon. I took the Aleve that night, which helped dull the pain some – at least enough so that I could sleep, but the pain was back again in full force by the next morning. I also received a beautiful Priesthood blessing from one of my Zone Leaders, Elder Lewis, that night. And although it didn’t take the pain away by any means, it did at least help to calm my nerves about it all, which was VERY needed! I am SO grateful for the power of the Priesthood and for the warmth, peace, and comfort that it brings into our lives!  And I am SO grateful for the wonderful Elders (and men in the church) who live worthy to be able to be on missions and help a sick Sister at a moment’s notice – and more than once, I might add. :) Tuesday my companions had to go to a meeting (Zone Training), so the other Sisters who we live with (Sister Vaitu’ulala and Sister Gray) found someone from their ward to come to our apartment and babysit me for a few hours that morning while they were all gone at Zone Training! So I basically just stayed in bed for the majority of the morning and slept, besides taking a quick shower, and talking with my babysitter for a little bit, which was nice. Then when my companions came back around 12:30ish, Sister Ellis came into the bedroom and told me, “Hey! We’re gonna take (the member) home, and you’re gonna come with us, cause then we’re gonna take you to the Urgent Care! How does that sound??” And she smiled at me, and I just turned my head and looked at her with a straight face and said, “That sounds like a TERRIBLE idea!” So then my poor companion left the room and yelled for our other companion to go and talk to me and said, “Sister Osmond! You’re up!” So then Sister Osmond came in and talked to me, and said something similar as to what Sister Ellis said, and at first I responded in a similar manner – being stubborn and not willing to go to the doctor. Until finally the thought came to me that there might really be a bit more goin’ on here than I originally thought there was, so maybe I really should get that checked out… But probably more than that, the pain was SO bad by that point that the more I thought about it, I was finally beginning to be willing to do just about anything to relieve myself from this pain – even if that meant going to the Doctor for the SIXTH time on my mission! Haha… So I caved, and I forced myself to shove a bowl of cereal down my throat (since I hadn’t really had much of an appetite since I first started to get really sick on Saturday), and then we drove the member home, and then went straight to the Urgent Care. When we first got to the Urgent Care, I’m not gonna lie, I was kinda REALLY nervous, and a little bit skeptical about it all, considering this was the exact same Urgent Care that I had been to eight months before when I was so sick when I was in Crystal City. I didn’t have the best memories from there, and when we first got there and the first nurse saw me, I was SO nervous! I’m sure she’s a very sweet lady deep, DEEP down, and maybe she just wasn’t having a very good day that day, but whatever the case, she was not a happy camper and didn’t want to see me anymore than I wanted to be there in her office. This made things unsettling; however, my nerves were calmed, and my prayers were immediately answered just minutes later when a new nurse came in to evaluate me! She was seriously the SWEETEST nurse who I have ever met in my entire life! …right next to Veronica, who was my first main ER nurse, of course! :) Anyways, this lady at the Urgent Care quickly determined that I had appendicitis, or a gall bladder issue, but she was 99.99 percent positive that it was appendicitis, and she told me that I needed to go to the Emergency Room RIGHT THEN!!! She even offered to call an ambulance, but she just said that either way, we needed to go there NOW!!! “…Well… this just crashed our plans for the rest of our day!” I thought. Then I immediately looked over at my two sweet companions and gave them a look as if this was all their fault that I was going to the ER – as if it was because they forced me to go to the Urgent Care… Haha. My poor companions! It’s ok! I’m honestly grateful for their stubbornness now in getting me to a doctor! Because if it hadn't been for them, I don’t know how much longer I might’ve just layed there in my bed in so much immense amounts of pain! I am sure blessed to have had those two amazing Sisters as my companions at that particular time! I love them SO much! :) We rushed straight from the Urgent Care to the nearest Hospital, which just so happened to be a few miles up the road. As soon as we got there, we booked it into the Emergency Room area, made a quick pit stop at the bano (bathroom) cause we ALL know that once you’re checked into the ER, they take FOREVER to let you go! So anyways, once we got up to the front desk to get me signed in, the guy at the front desk asked in a very “Ferris Bueler’s teacher”-typed tone and hardly even looked up at me as I was hurdled over and holding my stomach in pain, “So, what brings you to the Emergency Room today?” Sister Osmond immediately flashed him the papers from the nurse at the Urgent Care, describing her diagnosis of the appendicitis, and she said, very urgently, “We just came from the Urgent Care, and we’re pretty positive she has appendicitis.” …Well, he didn’t look too concerned about that; in fact, he barley even looked up from his desk, and simply gestured to me and said in the same tone that he had used before, “Ok. Well, take these forms, and either you or your friends need to fill these release forms out, and I’m going to need your insurance information…” I handed him my insurance cards, and my companions filled out the information on my forms that they knew, and then gave it all to him, and then he said in that same tone, “Ok. Now have a seat and they’ll call you back when they get to you.” After about twenty minutes or so, I turned to my companions and asked them, “Do you think it would help speed up the process a bit if I just went into septic shock right now?? I don’t know…” Haha! Oh goodness! All we all could really do at that point was just laugh at the unfortunate situation at hand! However, during our time sitting there, waiting, while I was in agonizing pain, I was very blessed with the opportunity for my companions and I to talk a little bit with a sweet woman who was sitting near us in the ER waiting room. She was waiting to have an operation on her hand, and possibly even have one of her fingers amputated, and yet she was so calm and collected. She knew that whatever ended up happening to her was God’s will, and she was completely ok with that! I definitely learned A LOT from her in just the short amount of time that we had together! I learned a lot about trusting in the Lord with all of your heart, might, mind, and strength, and what that truly means! I know that it was no coincidence that we happened to meet her and talk to her at that time, because that was EXACTLY what I needed, and EXACTLY when I needed it! I am SO grateful to have a loving Father in Heaven who knows me (and ALL of His children) better than I know myself! :) My faith increased ten fold and I felt SO much more at peace after that one moment, it was incredible! :) Well, apparently all of Arlington, VA was having a REALLY rough day that day, or so it seemed, because it took them FORTY-FIVE MINUTES to call me back, and even when I went back there, they still didn’t have any rooms available. So there I was, laying on a stretcher, with my arm hooked up to an IV in the middle of the hallway… Haha! True story! It’s ok, though! :) Once they started pumping the morphine through me, I really didn’t mind whether I had a room or not! Plus, while I was in the hallway, I was able to talk to all of the people who walked by! (By the way, in case you haven’t seen it, there’s a video that one of my dear, sweet companions, took of me – I believe it was Sister Ellis – while I was in the hallway and on morphine. It’s on Facebook, so please feel free to check it out! Haha.) After I had been laying there for a couple of hours or so, they finally got me in and did a CAT scan. I really don’t remember much of what I said or did during most of my Emergency Room visit once I had the morphine; however, I do remember that while I was getting my CAT scan, I was just asking the Doctor who was doing the scan some questions about it, and just telling her, as well as every single one of my Doctors and Nurses how great they are! Seriously, I would find out their name (either by looking at their name tag, or by asking them), then I would look them in the eye and say their name and say, “Thank you SO much! You are SO great!” Well, they all sure got a kick out of it! And then when I felt like they had really gone above and beyond, I would say, “You are SO wonderful!” Haha! Yep! True story! :) Anyways, after my CAT scan, the Doctor informed me that I had a cyst on my left ovary, and that my appendix was inflamed. Well SHOOT! That’s a double-wammy right there! Haha! Well why not kill two birds with one stone?? Bring it ON! Haha! So anyways, shortly after I came out of the CAT scan, they informed me that they would like me to stay overnight so that they could observe me and see if I needed to go in for surgery in the morning. Well, I wasn’t too thrilled about staying a minute longer than I needed to, but hey! As long as they kept pumpin’ the morphine through me, I didn’t complain. Haha! :) So they got me my very own private room, which was nice – kinda creepy being a missionary and sleeping in a hospital all by myself with doctors and nurses just popping in every few hours, I’m not gonna lie, but it was still nice non-the-less. :) Eventually after I had gotten in my room, and my nurse Veronica was helping me to get settled in there, President and Sister Riggs came in to visit me! It was SO wonderful to see them! I had been asking my companions where they (President and Sister Riggs) were over and over again, until they finally showed up! :) When my nurse, Veronica, came back in the room after President and Sister Riggs showed up, I turned to President with a big smile on my face and said, “President! This is my nurse Veronica! She is SO great!” President smiled and said, “Oh really? I’m glad!” And Veronica smiled as well, and said, “Stop it. You’re gonna spoil me!” And President smiled and said to Veronica, “She spoils everyone.” Anyways, the Zone Leaders ended up stopping by as well, cause my sweet companions had asked them to come by to give me a blessing. However, since they had already given me a blessing the night before, they really didn’t need to, but President Riggs still gave me a blessing. It was a beautiful blessing!  While the ZL’s and President and Sister Riggs and my companions were all there, my companions both took the liberty of taking turns to show each of the videos that they had taken of me while I was on morphine! They all – especially President – thought they were HILARIOUS! Haha. Well, after a little while, after the ZL’s and my companions had left, Sister Riggs asked if I wanted to call my parents, so I did. I went ahead and took about ten to fifteen minutes and talked with each of them! And somehow even though I was heavily on morphine when I talked to each of them, their nerves were still calmed a bit just by talking to me. :) My sweet companions left shortly after President and Sister Riggs got there, and went home to our apartment and got me my things that I needed to stay overnight and then brought them back to me! While I was waiting for them to come back, after President and Sister Riggs had left, it was just me and Veronica in my room, and she started asking me missionary-related questions, such as, “That man who was just in here (referring to President Riggs) with the suit and tie – why was everyone in here calling him “President”?” So I went on to explain to her that we’re all missionaries and he’s our Mission President, and so for short, we just call him President. We also got into a more gospel-related conversation and got talking about God and how he is our literal Father in Heaven, and we are all His children. She seemed to agree with that pretty well! So then we talked a bit about her religious background (she’s Catholic, but only goes to church a couple of times a year), and her personal relationship with God. It was SOOOOOOOOOO amazing to still be able to talk with someone about the gospel – even when I was trapped in a hospital bed! :) God sure does answer prayers, that’s for sure! :) Late that night, I had a prompting that I needed to write Veronica a note, thanking her for all that she had done for me, and telling her how great she is, and then give her a pass-along card! So I did! I wrote the note around 1:00 AM after one of the times that I woke up, and I just couldn’t go back to sleep, and I gave it to her early the next morning before she got off work. :) Wednesday was… mostly a big blur, to be honest. Haha. Tuesday was BY FAR the most dramatic and interesting day this week – in my entire mission, to be honest! Haha! But what I DO remember from Wednesday was that the Doctors had come to the conclusion at some point that the antibiotics that they had been giving me through the IV hadn’t been working to bring down the inflammation in my appendix, so they obviously decided to go in for surgery, which we all know, cause now I’m here at home! Haha. Anyways, right before I went in for surgery, the head of the surgery team came and talked to me with his team, and informed me that they were going to go in for surgery. He then proceeded to tell me all sorts of nitty-gritty details that I frankly did not care to know about, such as where they were going to cut me open, and what they were going to put in and pull out of each incision. But that wasn’t all; about two minutes after explaining this to me, another nurse came in and asked me what I was having done, and asked me to explain the surgical procedure to them. Then after the second time or so that they had explained the procedure to me, they also added a little detail about them putting a breathing tube down my throat (they do this AFTER I’m asleep, and take it out BEFORE I wake up, they assured me), but they told me this so that I would know why my throat felt so dry and sore after surgery. I was already confused and nervous enough as it was after they explained, and then had me re-explain the procedure to them numerous times, that I was beginning to lose faith in my surgery team. Thoughts and doubts from the adversary began to creep into my mind, such as, “Are they really qualified to be performing this operation?” and “Do they really know what they’re about to do to me?” and so forth. Although I’m still not exactly sure why they went about it the way that they did, (probably for legal reasons of some sort), they obviously knew what they were doing, and did a great job, because here I am, typing this up, and home safe and sound! :) After they brought me back up to my room after surgery, my sweet companions and Sister Riggs were in the room, waiting for me! :) Although I was SO exhausted and could hardly keep my eyes open, I was, and still am, eternally grateful for them being there because I was really quite nervous for all of it, and it just brought me so much peace and comfort knowing that they were there! :) I am SO grateful to have such an incredible mission family! I love them all SO much! :) Shortly after I got out of surgery and back in my room, my nurse (by this point she was a sweet and funny Asian lady named Anna, whom I also grew to love and appreciate!) instructed me to order something to eat since I hadn’t eaten anything in about 24 hours by this point! So, Sister Riggs ordered me a gluten-free deviled egg sandwich and some vegetable broth. They brought the food in about thirty minutes later or so, but I wasn’t too thrilled about eating anything right away, so I just took little nibbles of it here and there. The main thing that I was concerned about by this point, even more so than getting food in my belly, was going to the bathroom. So after about an hour or so, when I felt like I could possibly try to move, I asked Anna to help me to the bathroom. I won’t give you too many details, but basically, I almost passed out while I was on the toilet. Haha. Yep! It’s true! Anna could see the look on my face that I was about to pass out, so she started yelling for help in her cute Asian accent, saying, “HELP ME!!! SOMEBODY HELP ME!!!” About a minute or so later, another nurse came running into my room and helped me up, and they both helped me to walk back over to my bed. Man. Who knew that going to the bathroom could be so dangerous?? Not me! Haha. But all that I can say, is it was pretty embarrassing. But it’s ok. At least I was able to get a good laugh about it afterwards – about this whole situation, really! :) And you know what?? That’s really what life is all about! LAUGHING! Cause honestly, what’s the point in being upset or crying over anything that you obviously can’t change?? So you might as well laugh about it! That’s my philosophy of life! :) “LIVE. LAUGH. LOVE.” That’s one of my favorite sayings! I figure if you live by these three principles, you’re bound to be a happy person! Am I right?? :) A few hours after surgery, President Riggs stopped by to visit me again, which was when he informed me that I would need to go home – at least for a couple of weeks to recuperate. However, I was still so tired and on drugs, that I didn’t really remember what we talked about during that particular visit very well. That is, until he called my companions and talked to Sister Ellis, and then talked to me again. So I was told that I needed to go home, but that I would have the option of coming back out and finishing the last six months of my mission. However, because I had already served a full year by that point, I also had the option of going home and just simply being honorably released. This was quite a lot for me to take in all at once, but under the circumstances and needing to get things done quickly, I didn’t really have much time to really digest what was really happening until it was already over. Thursday morning my companions packed up all of my stuff for me, and we went to the post office and I sent home a couple of boxes of things that wouldn’t fit in my luggage. After that, they dropped me off at the Davis’ home (the cute Elderly couple who I lived with last transfer when I was in Great Falls), and I stayed with them for the rest of that day, and then that night, all the way up until Friday night when I returned back to my apartment to spend my final night with my companions. During my time in Great Falls, I was able to spend some good, quality time with my dear, sweet Sister Christensen, whom I had just been companions with the transfer before! She really is SO wonderful! She and her new little trainee, Sister Gerber, are both wonderful! I love them! And I really had SO much fun during the time that I was able to stay there with them! :) …that is, as much fun as you can have just one and two days post-surgery. Haha! But in all seriousness, though, it was really wonderful to get to see her again! :) And the Davis’ are just INCREDIBLE and really went above and beyond to do everything they could for me! I sure love them! I’m SO grateful for the short time that I was able to spend with them, and I’m so grateful for the short time that I was able to go back and be with them again! :) I even cut Sister Christensen’s bangs for her on early Friday afternoon! I had to take a couple of breaks and lay down while I was doing it, but I really honestly am SO grateful that she gave me the opportunity to do that! Because I had been wanting to cut her hair the whole transfer that we were companions! Plus, it was a really great bonding moment for us! :) Friday was a really rough day for me health-wise. My pain meds were not agreeing with my stomach, and I could hardly keep any food down. I ended up throwing up twice, and after the second time, I decided that this wasn’t worth it, and that it would almost be better to be in as much pain as I was in, then to be in pain with throwing up. So I called the hospital and asked to get a different prescription pain med that would be lighter on my stomach. Finally, I was able to get some Hydrocodone, which still made me kinda nauseous, but not nearly as much so as the Oxycodone, which is what they had me on before. Well, needless to say, shortly after the drug switch, I was feeling MUCH better! :) That night, the Davis’ drove me back to my apartment in Arlington/Alexandria to spend my last night with my companions! And on our way back, they stopped by a CVS and Brother Davis bought me some Dramamine (an anti-nausea medicine for me to take on the plane)! :) And then after they dropped me off, it was a wonderful last few hours with my companions! I really love them SO much! There was even a time when I attempted to roll myself out of bed to hobble into the kitchen to fill up my water bottle, and Sister Ellis saw me and asked what I was doing, and then told me to get back in bed, and she went and filled it up for me! :) I really cannot say enough about how truly blessed I am to have had such incredible companions who are so sweet and caring and served me without even batting an eye! :) Even though I was only able to spend three short weeks with them, I truly felt like I grew to be SO close to both of them, and I love them like my own sisters! :) Saturday morning, President and Sister Riggs picked me up EARLY (about 5:45 AM), and drove me to the airport. Sister Riggs gave me a hug goodbye, and President even gave me a quick hug goodbye! It was such a bitter-sweet moment, I cannot even describe it to you! And then before I knew it, I was on the plane, flying FIRST CLASS (since I had just had surgery), which was pretty cool! And then I took some Dramamine, and I was out for about 4 out of 5 hours of the flight! It was wonderful! :) Haha. I want you all to know how truly grateful I am for the wonderful blessing and opportunity that I had to serve! Although my heart is heavy when I think about not going back out and finishing my mission, I know in my heart that this is the right decision for me. For whatever reason, it is God’s will for me for my full-time mission in Virginia to be done; however, I know in my heart that my mission has only just begun! That was just one year of the rest of my life of serving God’s children, and I cannot wait to get started on the next thing that God has in store for me back home here in good old Utah!

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