J is for Joy

It might take me a year to get through this whole alphabet post challenge...

J is for Joy.

A lot has happened since my last posting in June. A whole lot. To start with, my sweet Grammy (dad's mom) went to heaven and my grandfather (mom's dad) followed a few hours later which made for a very sad day. It also meant 2 funerals in 1 day, if you can believe that. Although we may be sad, it's also such a blessing as both were suffering terribly from failing bodies. I managed to navigate through those few days on massive amounts of meds as I was actually very sick with this stupid Crohn's mess. The pictures from then portray my struggle vividly. Shannon and boys happened to be in Alaska on a fishing trip with his dad when all this went down but thankfully my sister and her 3 kiddos were here so I wasn't alone in my grief. The one nice thing about death in our family is that we all come together from all over to celebrate our loved one's life. There are tears but there is far more laughter and for that I am eternally grateful.

I'm so faking it here, can you tell?
As I said, I was extremely ill during all of this so when things settled down and we moved kids out and into their college lives we headed to Temple for a visit to Scott and White hospital. I was having such extreme abdominal pain and a burning sensation that would just not quit. Eating solid food made me miserable beyond belief so I was existing on protein shakes and baby fruits. The oral pain meds prescribed were worthless and at times I thought I might black out due to the severity of the cramping. We spent the first night at the ER hoping they could give me something intravenously so I could get a little relief. Five hours later and a hit of dilaudid we went back to the hotel for about 3 hours of sleep before my appointment with the GI clinic. Long story short, many tests later, and after a 6 day hospital stay it was determined that my pancreas was not functioning correctly. It was not producing enough enzymes and therefor throwing off the rest of my rebellious gut function. This is not uncommon in Crohn's patients, something like 40% have pancreas issues. Great another bonus... Good news though, it's a somewhat easy fix with a medication called Creon. I take it 3 times a day, easy-peasy. The docs also changed up my pain meds giving me more relief so that I can function better. Big relief there!

I was also given something for anxiety, a direct hit to my pride if I'm being honest. The truth is, I am struggling to make sense of this place in my life. Depression threatens to overtake me at any given moment and almost won out this summer when the pain was so overwhelming. It's strange what you know is right in your mind but somehow you can't seem to process it in a healthy manner. All I could think of was how to stop this relentless physical pain that was controlling my every moment and thought. I will tell you, I went to a very dark place that I care not to ever visit again. It scared me. It scared Shannon too. It prompted me to get counseling which has been a huge help. Between the new meds and counseling, I am in a much healthier place.
drinking endless amounts of barium

Poor Shannon has really struggled too. He's dropped close to 40 pounds due to stress. He looks amazing so you would never know how hard this has been for him too. He carries so much responsibility and often takes on my pain as his own. I hate that he has to deal with all of this. He is the love of my life and I would do anything to make things different.

You might be asking, Monnie--where is the joy in all this??? This post is supposed to be about joy right???

Yes, well, I'm getting to that.

The last few months, ok more like the last 10 months, have been excruciatingly hard. Maybe some of the hardest I've faced yet.  It's made me question everything and I do mean EVERYTHING. My attitude has been terrible. Negativity and jadedness have been my constant companions. It finally dawned on me that if anything is going to change it will have to start with me and my outlook. Easier said than done. I haven't cracked my Bible in very long time but yet, my mind kept hearing a particular verse over and over. It really pissed me off at first too but eventually I gave in and listened.

James 1:1-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish it's work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 

I still find this impossible most days but I'm trying. I'm working on my core. My emotional core, believe me, I'd rather do a few planks and call it good but it's not that simple. I'm going deep into the far corners of my soul and pushing through some of the ugliness that this constant struggle with Crohn's has brought to the surface. I'm dealing with crap I didn't even know I had! It's hideous and it's exhausting but it's worth it. In the end, I will still have Crohn's and I will still be a flawed human but I will have peace and even joy.

Funny thing about all this, I am starting to see rays of sunshine where darkness used to be. My appetite has come back and brought a very persuasive sweet tooth. I have to count this as joy because I'm not looking like a concentration camp survivor anymore. The boobs are coming back but unfortunately so are the hips and butt, oh well--it's healthy and that's the most important thing.

I've decided now that the kids are off doing their own thing that I want to do something I enjoy and might add a nice distraction to my current situation. I'm selling Premier Jewelry again. I sold it about 5 years or so ago and loved it so it was a natural fit to pick it back up again. It will give me something to focus on and loads of fun bling! Check it out, Premier has changed a lot since I was last in and I LOVE the new stuff! All bout the Icing is my website where you can view the catalog. I'm kicking off this Saturday with a party at my house from 2-4 if you are around, stop by for some treats and bling! Feel free to message me if you want to order and I will hook you up, remember, Christmas is right around the corner. I will even gift wrap it for you too.

It's really weird not having the kids around on a daily basis. We spent 15 years living by the school schedule and now I find myself very undisciplined with out it. I love it though I don't get a whole lot done. I have yet to find my groove but hopefully as my health improves that will too. It has been nice that while I try to get myself healthy I'm not forced to adhere to school commitments on top of everything else.

In 2 weeks I am headed to Oregon! I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am about this! I will be attending the 3rd annual Girls With Guts retreat. And get this---we will be staying in TREE HOUSES!!!!!! I mean really, does it get any better than that? I missed last year's due to Thomas' senior year of football so I am really stoked about this year. I'm looking forward to seeing my "sisters" from the 2013 retreat. We come from all over and from different walks of life but share a bond not many people understand. In many ways, these ladies inspire me on so many levels. I love my Girls with Guts!


  1. Sweet daughter of mine: I know your struggles. You are flesh of my flesh, and more importantly, you are the heart of my heart. Unfortunately, I have dragged myself through that very journey, kicking and screaming. Yours has some different "rest areas" (a misnomer) but we travel the same road.
    Writing about this is crucial, not only for you & your family to keep in tune, be your wingmen, and help gage your position, but it seems to clarify your own thinking as well. Keep open this window into your soul, for the rest of us. You may be the only one we know with your disease, and our education is vital for us, and others.
    Being in that very dark place sometimes has an unintended consequence: when I was there, I actually got mad at God, bemoaning my fate, no crowd had to egg me on to disclaim Him,as Job had, I did it myself. Later I was scared and I heard a good thought from my preacher. God has very big shoulders, and infinite understanding.He can take it.
    You express yourself so well, dark humor and all, so keep this up. I love it. And I love you.


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