Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Kidney Stone

I recently had my first, and hopefully only, kidney stone.

I would like to start by apologizing to anyone in my life who may have previously had kidney stones and for whom I did not show appropriate sympathy and support.

I had no idea it was even possible for them to be so bad. No idea.

Here’s my experience:


On Friday, the 21st I awoke with a slight pain in my right lower quadrant. Pain level 1-2. Annoying, but nothing more. I was expecting my monthly visitor any day, so my initial thought was some weird sort of cramp.

My husband & I had plans to attend a Homecoming Alumni Reunion for my university, which was also supposed to be our fancy night out for our anniversary. He took a vacation day from the fire house. We had this booked for months and I was really looking forward to it.

By the time we left my pain was maybe the 3 – 4 range. Worse. Still annoying, but not bad enough for me to even consider changing our plans.

During dinner, the pain escalated to the 6-7 range. While listening to the speakers, I contemplated how much longer I could stay. I really wanted to hear a few of them that hadn’t been up yet, and there were old friends I spied across the room, but hadn’t had a chance to see yet. But I couldn’t ignore the pain, and I told Jason we needed to leave.

At this point I’m still thinking maybe we just go home and I lie down. But in the car the pain worsened. I tend to be a “wait it out” kinda gal, but I tried to think of what I would tell my sister if she called and asked me what to do.

“I think you should take me to the hospital.”

And so we went. As we waited on triage, my pain intensified. 8…9… I’m not one to take the pain scale lightly, it will be rare for me to tell you my pain is ever over a 5 or 6. But that day? I hit a 9.

They gave me some pain meds to dull the pain while trying to assess my condition. Most of us seemed to think it was likely appendicitis. I think this was mostly because my pain was exclusively in my belly, no back pain at all, which is common with kidney stones. Also, ends up if you’re a man and have right lower quadrant pain it’s pretty much either appendicitis or kidney stones. If you’re a woman though? The doctor listed off about 20 different possibilities: appendicitis, kidney stones, ovarian cyst, ectopic pregnancy, etc, etc, etc.

We were fairly certain of the answer though once they got my urine sample. I could tell by looking at it that something wasn’t right. Sure enough, there was quite a bit of blood in the sample. Most likely diagnosis changed from appendicitis to kidney stones. I was sent off for a CT scan which confirmed I had a 7.5 mm kidney stone lodged in my ureter (the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder).

Apparently this is considered a “huge” kidney stone. I got lots of sympathy and better pain meds after that. Truth. I was also admitted.

I awoke the next morning feeling much better. Pain was almost non-existent, at a 1, maybe a 2. I could definitely feel that something was going on, but it wasn’t bad at all. The nurses seemed relieved, but a little confused. An X-ray later that morning explained why my pain was all but gone: the stone had floated back up into the kidney. No longer lodged in my ureter, it no longer caused pain. In fact, by the end of the day my pain was completely gone. They discharged me Saturday evening with some Vicodin to take as needed and an appointment to have a lithotripsy (using sound waves to break up the stone) at the urologist’s outpatient facility on Monday.

Monday I headed to the outpatient facility. It was not a good experience. Registration went fine, I suppose, and getting set up. Met the doctors. The procedure went well. But coming out of anesthesia? Well, it always takes me a long time. That day was no exception. I don’t know how long really. I know one of the nurses was extremely rude, ignored my cries of both pain & nausea, and refused me pain meds because I “just need to calm down”. I eventually told her off, she left, and I got another nurse. Funny thing, if you actually treat your patient’s pain & nausea, and treat them with a tiny bit of compassion, they are able to calm down much sooner, and start to come around better. Even so, even with a nicer nurse that addressed my needs, it was still made very clear to me & my husband that I was not coming out of the anesthesia quickly enough to suit them. This was never made more clear than when I was sent home in a hospital gown, because I wasn’t able to dress myself yet.

You read that right. They asked if I could stand up and get dressed, I told them no. I vaguely remember kind of falling back onto the bed as they stood me up. They put me in a wheelchair, handed my husband a bag with my clothes in it, and wheeled me out to the sidewalk in front of their building in a hospital gown and panties. Waited for Jason to pull the van around, and loaded me in the car that way. Nice, huh?

Over the next two days I passed bits of stone. Tiny. Like sand. Honestly didn’t even feel them most of the time and only knew because they had asked me to strain my urine and keep the pieces.

That Thursday I had a follow up appointment scheduled with my primary care physician. I had been feeling better, so decided to drive myself. At this point, it was just Jena & myself. My parents kept Jillian for me while I was recovering, and we thought if anything Jena would be a helper for me. Jason went back to the firehouse for the first time in three shifts.

I had mild pain that morning, but nothing bad, and nothing more than I was expecting. I had had pain off & on since the lithotripsy anyway. However, on the drive home from the doctor, my pain rapidly escalated. It’s kind of ironic. Went to the doctor, told him I was doing well, pain was minimal, everything looks good, then on the drive home my pain skyrockets. It was difficult to drive.

Got us home and laid down. Called Jason & my mom to let them know. Called Jason again and told him to head home please. He’s an hour away.

My pain goes up even more. I start vomiting from the pain. My poor little eight year old is bringing me a bucket to puke in and listening to me moan & wail in pain. I call Jason back and ask how far away he is. Twenty minutes. I beg him to hurry.

Honestly, when I knew he was that far away I probably should have called 9-1-1. As the wife of a first responder, I don’t take that lightly, but I really should have. The pain was that intense.

I called Jason back. How far away? Five minutes. I tell Jena to get her shoes on and get my purse. I slip on some flip flops, grab a bowl for vomit, and stumble out to the minivan. We wait for Jason to arrive. He pulls in, jumps into the van, and we take off.

Things become a blur at this point. I know I vomited a few more times on the way to the hospital. I know Jason signed all the forms at the emergency room because I wasn’t able. I don’t remember going for any tests, but I must have, because at some point we were told that a 2x3.5 mm piece of my original stone had lodged in my ureter. Again.

Got some good pain meds, fell asleep at some point, was admitted at some point. Slept off & on.

One of the urologists came to see me the next morning. He gave me my options:
·         Be discharged with some better pain meds and try to pass the stone on my own, not knowing how long it would take
·         Stay in the hospital and have it removed surgically

I chose the latter. Having already been hospitalized twice for this thing, I didn’t want to be discharged only to end up back in the hospital after another day or so.

Surgeon came to see me later, and surgery was scheduled for that evening.

I’m so glad I did. After the surgery, when the surgeon came to speak to my family, he informed them that my ureter narrowed to an extent that it would have been physically impossible to pass the stone on my own. He removed the stone, looked around to confirm there were no more stones, and inserted a stent to help keep my ureter open while it was healing.

I again took a long time to come out of anesthesia. This time I was at the hospital though, so no one kicked me out. I was in recovery for roughly three hours. I vaguely remember the nurse telling me over and over to take deep breaths. I think my pulse ox kept going low.

By the time I got back to my room it was after 9pm. Pain was minimal. Discomfort from the stent was pretty high, but that was to be expected. And I had to pee literally every 20-30 minutes. Also to be expected, although the nurses did inform me that I actually do have a small bladder. Fun. By the morning I had managed to stretch out time between bathroom breaks to 45 minutes.

Was released the next day and told that I could expect “mild discomfort” from my stent, and zero restrictions on my daily life. Free to resume life as normal.

{{ insert hysterical laughter }}

The discomfort from this stent was awful. Awful. Horrible. The worst feeling you can possibly feel without crossing over into pain. I felt it inside me 24/7. There was no way to get comfortable. None. By basically living in a recliner I was able to get comfortable enough to make it tolerable. That’s about it. Urinating was the worst. I was able to stretch it out to about an hour between bathroom breaks, right at two hours if I was sleeping. A little less than an hour if had recently eaten.

Truly a horrible experience. I have no idea how they can call this “mild” discomfort, or how they can say you can resume normal life. I kept think how if I were still working outside the home I would be forced to either drain my vacation time or take as much Vicodin as allowed and try to muddle thru the work day, and still not sure it would be possible. Seriously, awful.

Originally my doctor wanted me to have the stent for 10 days, and remove it under general anesthesia. After my second day home, I called the nurse and talked with her about how much discomfort I was having. She assured me it was normal (so, again, why do they tell you it’s “mild” discomfort?!?), but said she’d talk to the doctor. She called me back the next day. He agreed to remove it after only 7 days and under a local anesthetic.


I powered thru a few more days, then went in for the removal.

It was so easy!

Seriously. From the time they started until the time they finished was only seven minutes. It took longer for the nurses to take my vitals and get me checked in as a same-day surgery patient than it took to do the procedure. They used a local anesthetic in the form of a numbing cream, and consequently what I felt was essentially as much discomfort as a yearly gynecological visit. Some pressure, little bit of a pinching feeling, little more pressure, done.

I honestly have no idea why they would put anyone under general anesthesia for this (assuming they had no other complications). I’ve heard it can be a bit more uncomfortable, and possible a little painful, for men because they have a longer urethra, but I’m still not convinced it would be worth the risks of undergoing general anesthesia.

I immediately felt much better. There is still some (actually) mild discomfort when I urinate, or when I stretch. I occasionally get a crampy feeling in the general bladder area, it gets worse if I’ve been walking, better when I sit. Other than that, I feel back to normal. It was an amazing difference having the stent out. I feel like myself for the first time in the past two weeks.

{{ side note: I’m currently watching Parks & Recreation via streaming Netflix, and this episode Ben just got diagnosed with kidney stones. Irony. Ha. }}

On a side note, I’ve been struggling with daily gastrointestinal problems for over six months. Every day. It got to the point where no over-the-counter meds were controlling it. Have an appointment with a GI in two weeks for some testing because my primary care couldn’t figure out what was going on, all his tests were normal. Since this kidney stone issue came up, I’ve had ZERO issues. I think it’s still too soon to tell, but I’m hopeful that maybe somehow my gastro issues were related to my kidney stones and now everything will be resolved. Crossing my fingers!

Thanks for checking in everyone! Hope you never, ever have kidney stones!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Health Update

Yesterday was a blur of hospital appointments.

Couple of issues going on. I was trying to deal with them one at a time, but it appears that is just not how it's going to be.

First of all, I had a mammogram. A little over a year ago my routine mammogram revealed spots on my left breast. Probably benign, but warranting follow up. Three mammograms later, and they're telling me it's still "probably" benign. Apparently they standard of care is to follow up with repeated mammograms for two years. If there is no change within two years, then it's considered safe and I go back to routine yearly mammograms. Obviously if there is change, then we start a whole new ball game.

Secondly, I've been having gastrointestinal issues for quite a long time now. Months. Started out as occasional nausea, then more frequent, some bowel issues, heartburn... you name it and it's gastro, I had it. I treated with various over the counter meds. I tried cutting out different foods. The meds helped ease the problems somewhat, but nothing really seemed to really help. Over the past few months it has become more and more frequent, and more severe, until now I'm sick every single day, and the past few days the nausea in my stomach has turned into a dull ache in my abdomen. As in, painful. I finally gave in and saw my doctor.

My gastrointerologist couldn't see me until November, so I went to see my family doctor. He's not sure what's going on, but he's leaning toward the problem being my gall bladder. I have a CT and bloodwork scheduled for next week, a follow up appointment with him in a month, and a referral to my GI after all. He also gave me a prescription to help with the symptoms to take as needed, and I have to say I do think they are working. So that's a positive, I guess.

And then there's my metabolic disorder and related weight issues. It's been roughly a year since I had to discontinue my endocrine meds. I did meet with a couple of doctors, including the surgeon about the the surgery my endocrinologist wants me to have. Unfortunately, my insurance company won't cover it, period. You see, it's a bariatric surgery. Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, also known as VSG or Gastric Sleeve.

Briefly, the reason my endocrinologist recommends this procedure is a little backwards from the usual reason, and is the reason it has to be this bariatric procedure, as opposed to others. You see, the part of the stomach that is removed during the surgery is the part of the stomach that creates some of the hormones and other chemicals that are out of whack for me. It is for this reason that this is the optimal choice for me.

In fact, in what was for me a surprising additional confirmation for me to have this procedure, at my yearly gynecological visit earlier this year, my gynecologist also recommended the procedure, having no knowledge that another specialist had already done so. The reason? Well, my weight for starters. But... he specifically noted that because of the change in hormones induced by the VSG, there's a good chance it would also help improve some of my gynecological issues as well.

My husband is on board. The more I learn about the procedure the more I'm convinced it is the best choice for my long term health. Unfortunately my insurance company seems to disagree. So... we're waiting for some financial items to fall in line, and hopefully we'll be able to proceed early next year.

In the meantime, I now weigh more than I have ever weighed in my entire life, and am bigger than I have ever been. In fact, even though I know expecting a big result is futile, I've started utilizing meal replacement shakes just to keep my waistline from growing further, mostly because I can't afford to expand my wardrobe again. It's depressing, I hate the way I look. But I keep trying to look to the light at the end of the tunnel and know that a year from now my weight, and more importantly my health, should be much improved.

So, that's about it health wise. Seems like there's a lot going and nothing going on all at once.

How are all of you doing?

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Kids Update

Well, here I am. Fall schedules are in full swing.

We started with Classical Conversations this year. and go to community on Tuesday mornings. Soccer practice Tuesday & Friday evenings. Gymnastics class Wednesday afternoons. Soccer games on Saturday mornings.

It's busy, but doable.

We recently got Jena's results from the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. To summarize:
    - age wise she should have just started 2nd grade
    - grade wise she just started 3rd grade
    - her composite grade level equivalent is 4.4, with all of her stanines in the 8 - 9 level, and her NPR in the 95-99 percentile for all subjects

She is excelling in soccer. She was a star goalkeeper last season, and this season she has just continued to improve. In addition, she has started playing as striker a bit and has done fairly well in that position as well. Her coach has made several comments about how much she has improved on the field since last season. Jena loves the sport, and as much as she enjoys striker, goalkeeper is what makes her smile.

We also started her in gymnastics over the summer. She had been asking to do it for a while, then her pediatrician recommended it because she is a bit delayed in her gross (and fine) motor development, so we decided to go ahead, despite the added cost & expense. I have to say, it has been well worth it. Her motor skills have already improved greatly, and I honestly attribute much of her improvement in soccer to her ability to this improvement. She has more control over her body's movements, just in general, and several extended family members have commented on it. As an added bonus she loves gymnastics as well, and has made it her goal to make the gym's competitive team. As a result she spends a lot of her free time in the front yard working on her skills.

I have to say, I have been quite impressed with my little 7 year old's dedication to excelling in both sports, and the work she has put in on her own to that end.

We've only had two weeks of Classical Conversations so far, but so far I am quite impressed. The facts she is learning, the manner in which it is presented, the fact that she enjoys learning history, geography, & science; it's been quite nice. Science has always been the subject that I felt least able to teach well, and not only do they learn facts, but they do an experiment each week on community day, so that is a huge load off. Jena enjoys the way they present facts so much that she took it upon herself to memorize all the U.S. Presidents using their songs, and has already succeeded!

I started doing one preschool lesson each day with Jillian as well, and she already knows most of her colors and maybe half of her letters. Numbers are a bit of a struggle. She is still essentially non-verbal, but I have a feeling a language explosion is right around the corner, as she's added 3 words to her vocabulary in the past week.

I think that's about the only major updates for now. Hope all is well with all of you! As always, thanks for checking in!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The funny thing about blogging is...

When I don't have time to write I have like a thousand ideas that come to me and I say "I really should write about this" or "I need to tell my blog world about this", and then when I have time to sit down and write, like tonight, it's all a blur and what ideas I do recall I now can't think of anything to say.


That's the way it goes, though, isn't it?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Working on Fall Schedules

I've been working on our schedule for Fall. I think I've about got it figured out.

This past year was a bit... chaotic. Homeschooling a 7 year old, herding a toddler, participating in various groups, taking community classes, Girl Scouts, soccer... it was all a bit much, and a bit crazy. We did a lot of great things, but I'm really hoping to have a more consistent schedule this school year, and am trying to do the legwork now to set us up for success later.

Jillian is napping more consistently now, and is down to one nap per day, so that will help immensely. She's also a tad less needy now that she's 2 years old, than she was at 1 year old. So here's hoping.
I thought I had it down to where Monday thru Wednesday we should be home all day, and Thursdays & Fridays well be out in the morning, back in the afternoon (for Jillian's nap), then if needed out for evening activities. If I can actually pull this off it might just be amazing, but so far it's not exactly working out.

I really thought I was on the ball, doing my Fall scheduling so early (in my mind). Nope. One activity is already at capacity. My only option is Mondays. Another is also at capacity. Only option is changing to a location twice as far away and is on Tuesdays. So right now we're out of the house Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. That sounds like insanity to me, and is very similar to the situation we were in this year, which is a main reason I wanted to try to set up a consistent schedule now.

We're on a waiting list for the desired activities / times, so here's hoping an opening comes up before Fall.

What about you? Any other homeschool moms have their fall schedules done yet? What about managing with a toddler in the mix?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Being Still? or Being Lazy?

A few days ago I became frustrated with one of my friends seeming inability to just stop. We were out together, and it seemed like the moment the conversation lulled, I found it filled with unnecessary small talk, the moment we stopped to sit and enjoy the moment, we were up again and moving, often without any particular destination. It really seemed as if it were impossible for them to just be.

At one point, I jokingly said "Doesn't the Bible say to "be still and know that I am God"?

The reply? "The Bible also teaches against laziness."

This seemingly innocent interaction has left me thinking for several days now. Which one of us is right? Or. as I suspect ,are we both right? How do we reconcile the two?

Well, let's start by going to Scripture, shall we?

Passages about stopping, resting, being still:

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.  -- Psalm 46:10
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.  -- Psalm 37:7

Passages rebuking laziness:

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;  -- Colossians 3:23The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.  -- Proverbs 21:25
There are multiple passages supporting both ideas. So, what to make of it? Well, I think it may be settled with another verse:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.  -- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
There is a time, a season, for everything. There are times for us to work hard, and times for us to be still. There are times for busy-ness, and times for us to be quiet. For us to rest all the time would be folly. But it would be equally ludicrous for us to force ourselves to be active constantly.

In short, we were both right. Use your time wisely, work hard when there is work to do, but rest equally hard.

As always, thanks for checking in.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Just Friends

Not that long ago, one of my friends mentioned that she was having lunch with one of her male friends. Just the two of them. She mentioned that she felt a bit awkward about it, even though there was nothing between them. There's an obvious chemistry between them, but they are "just friends", and I trust that.

Being one that's always had a lot of male friends, it got me thinking about my own relationships, past & present. One of the most significant romantic relationships I was in ended suddenly, and I've long wondered how much my male friends had to do with it. Not directly, but indirectly. At the time my best friend was a guy, and we would often go out just the two of us. We were very close, but we were "just friends". However, people being, well... people, rumors of impropriety abounded, my then-boyfriend expressed jealousies, etc, etc. Instead of addressing these things, I chose to ignore them as ridiculousness. Why should I care what other people think, as long as I know the truth? My boyfriend's insecurities were his own issues, right?


Looking back on it, I can see where I made mistakes. Things that I confided in with my male friend I should have been discussing with my love interest. That was a big one.

Knowing how things looked, I should have taken more efforts to make my inward commitment to my romantic relationship more outwardly apparent. And on and on.

This isn't to say I don't think you can have friends of the opposite sex. But let's face it, when you have chemistry with a girl friend - you hit it off right off the bat, enjoy each other's company, could talk for hours, etc. - it doesn't have the same implications as when you discover that type of chemistry with a guy friend.

And these implications aren't just those of outward appearances. Maybe you don't care if the world thinks you're cheating when they see out to dinner with a guy that's not your husband, as long as you know. But what does it do to your relationship? What insecurities might it raise within your husband's mind & heart? Where is your heart & mind? Do you really see this guy as just a friend, or do you let your mind wander to what could be?

For this reason I have chosen to not have close friendships with members of the opposite sex. Do I miss these friendships? Yes. Is my marriage worth the sacrifice. Absolutely. I'm not saying I don't have any friends who are men, I just choose to guard how close we get, and I strive to not be alone with them. The only man I'm interested in being alone with is my husband.

 As long as those relationships make you feel awkward, as long as you are keeping a check on things and checking yourself, it's good. It means that you care about your marriage. The awkwardness is an acknowledgement of the commitment you have made to another person. And that is a good thing.

When it becomes too comfortable... that's when you need to worry.

What are your thoughts? Do you maintain close relationships with the opposite sex?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

This Isn't Utopia

Recently there was an incident at a zoo fairly close to my home, and it has drawn quite the reaction online.

Short version: a 4 year old boy somehow managed to get away from his mother, thru a railing, wire fencing, dense vegetation, scale a wall, and fall into a moat inside the gorilla enclosure. One of the male gorillas ignored the recall keepers issued from behind the scenes (which successfully called back two female gorillas), and went to the boy. Witnesses & keepers agree that he did not appear to be in attack mode, but became increasingly agitated as both the boy and the crowd screamed, causing his actions to become more violent. Fearing for the life of the boy, the zoo's dangerous animal response team made the decision to fatally shoot the gorilla.

Since then there has been widespread outrage online, directed at... pretty much everybody, depending on who you're reading.

The mom is bearing the brunt of it, being blamed for not keeping a good enough eye on her kid. The zoo comes in second, with some people insisting that killing the gorilla was not necessary. Zoos as a whole are being blamed for causing the gorilla's death, because if he wasn't in captivity to begin with, none of this would have happened. And the third group I've seen criticized is Christians who blame the mother, or who mourn the gorilla, or who go to zoos at all, with other Christians shouting cries of "judge not lest ye be judged", human life means more than animal life, and the like.

Quite frankly, it's a mess.

And yet, yes, I'm adding my voice to the mix.

I'm gonna start by saying can we all stop being so harsh with each other? Even if you disagree, there's no reason to name-call, point fingers, and generally be disrespectful toward one another.

Now, let's break this down.

The Mother:
This poor woman. She has drawn the ire of the interwebs, that's for sure. I'm going to admit, I still have a hard time seeing how a properly supervised child could have made it away from his mom, under a railing, thru wire fencing, thru dense vegetation, and scaled a small wall without her noticing until he was already in the moat. In my mind, that could not possibly have happened that quickly. But, I also admit that I was not there. So far I have only read one eye-witness account, and it seems to indicate it really did happen that quickly and the mom was absolutely unable to stop it. Since I was not there, I will defer to the opinion of someone who was, and will say this appears to be a horrible accident.

I do think that even without assigning blame, we can still learn from the incident for our own parenting efforts. Perhaps we reconsider visiting public areas when we know they are likely to be extra-crowded, as it was this holiday weekend. Larger crowds make it more difficult to keep an eye on small children. Perhaps we simply take steps to be more attentive than perhaps we have been in the past. Certainly there are several ways to make this a learning point for our own children. We can talk to them about things like: why it's important to follow instructions, why we stay near parents in crowded places, respecting the homes & habitats of animals, etc. There are any number of ways to turn this into a learning point for ourselves and our children, and I think we should.

The Zoo:
I will begin by stating that I 100% stand by the zoo's decision to use lethal measures to rescue the child. Human life trumps animal life every time. I have read & heard statements from several different experts in this area and have yet to hear one actual expert say the zoo had another reasonable option. Tranquilizers not only take several minutes (estimates range from 10-25 minutes in this situation), but the instant the gorilla felt the dart hit likely would have agitated him further. I've seen numerous people on social media argue that lethal force wasn't necessary, but not only do they not have the credentials to be taken seriously on the matter, I have not heard one offer another, more reasonable option. So I'll stand by the actual experts.

The zoo's director has indicated that the zoo will review everything from the response of the multiple areas of staff involved in the incident, to the security at the exhibit, as they should any time there is an incident such as this. I am curious if any changes will be made to the exhibit. It has been secure for 38 years prior to this incident, but if such a young child really did make it thru the barrier in such a short amount of time, that may indicate a need for improvements. I trust that they will review all the information available and react accordingly.

Zoological Institutions:
At the interest of full disclosure, I support zoos. Are there a few places that call themselves "zoos" that are run in less than adequate ways? Yes, I can't deny it. But by and large, in this country anyway, our major zoos work very hard to preserve & protect a multitude of species, to repopulate endangered species in their natural habitat, to rehabilitate endangered animals with the hopes of returning them to the wild, and to provide the animals in their charge the best care possible.

Let's start with blaming zoos as a whole for this gorilla's death because if he weren't captive this never would have happened. Technically true. But let's dig a little deeper.

The Western Lowland Gorilla is listed as "critically endangered". In short, this means that without intervention they are at high risk of extinction in the wild. Breeding this species in captivity is an important part of ensuring the future of the species as a whole, and the zoo in question has been a leader in this endeavour. When looking at the big picture, the answer isn't quite as easy as "don't put gorillas in captivity". The truth is without captive populations that can ensure the survival of the species it wouldn't be hard to envision the complete obliteration of this beautiful creature from our planet, at the hand of poachers, habitat loss, and the like. Are zoos ideal? No. But this isn't Utopia.

Christian Finger Pointing:
Ugh. Where to begin?

Let's start with those crying out to stop judging the mother with quotes of "judge not lest ye be judged". I hear ya. That verse has been beat to death about everything. Don't judge anybody for anything. It's also not quite that simple.

Just a few verses later we are presented with comparisons regarding the width of the gate to Heaven, false prophets vs real prophets, evaluating people by their fruits. All of which require a type of judgement or discernment. In other areas of the Bible we are instructed to "judge righteously". I think the key is in how we do it, and how we present it.

If we hold ourselves in higher esteem than another, as though we could never be at such fault, if we resort to disrespectful and unkind behaviour, surely this is not appropriate. But are we to review the actions of those around us, discern if they are best behaviors, apply to our lives accordingly? I think the answer is 'yes'.

Next, does human life have more value than animal life? Absolutely. But many of those pushing this point are upset that people are mourning the death of the gorilla, that there was a vigil at the zoo for the deceased animal, that anyone, especially fellow Christians, seem to care for animals at all. I'm not gonna lie, I don't understand this.

First of all, the little boy did not die. He has been released from the hospital with a minor concussion and a few scrapes. He is, for all purposes, fine. Therefore, there is no comparison. The little boy did not lose his life.

Had he died, I feel confident that the outpouring of emotion for his life would far outweigh any for the gorilla. Maybe some disagree, but I do think our society as a whole, Christian or not, does still value human life over animal life. Because the boy (thankfully!) did not die in the incident, but the gorilla did, this comparison, in my opinion, makes no sense.

So what about mourning the loss of an animal, caring for his life, being upset that he died? I believe all of those are not only understandable, but I'm going to go as far to say that they are understandable even within a Christian worldview.

From the beginning, God set man to have dominion over the animal kingdom. They are for us to eat, to clothe us, and most important in this case, for us to take care of them. Caring for the animal kingdom presents itself in different ways to different people, but I believe there is no shame in having an emotional response to the death of an animal. Furthermore, since this gorilla was an important link in the breeding population for this species, then it would be reasonable to mourn his loss even further as we look to the future of the species as a whole.


As we look at this unfortunate incident, I think there is plenty of room for each of us to evaluate what happened, see where we can learn something, and decide if & how to apply it to our lives. We don't all have to agree with one another, but we can try to do so in a respectful manner, can't we?

As always, thanks for checking in.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Sad and the Happy

Well, since I'm back, there are two big updates I should let my readers know about.

First of all, the sad news.

Our beloved Buddy passed away at the age of 17. His advanced age had been apparent for the past few years, but it didn't lessen the shock the morning that he disappeared after I let him out to do his morning "rounds". Every morning he would go out and "work", running the fence line, reviewing the property. As a working breed, it was what he loved to do. That morning, he didn't come back.

I found him collapsed in some weeds, barely able to lift his head. According to the vet, with an acute collapse like that in a breed like this, it is usually a tumor on the heart that has ruptured. They are slowly bleeding out. We made the heartbreaking decision to euthanize this precious dog.

Jason & I stayed with him, I held his head on my lap.

He lived well, he vastly surpassed his expected life expectancy, and I can only hope he knew how very much we loved him.


On a much happier note, this adorable ball of energy turned two!

It's hard to believe it's been two years since she made her way into this world. She completes our family in the most amazing way, and I cannot imagine life without her.

Happy birthday Jillian!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Okay, so I'm flaky sometimes...

Remember back in February when I told you I was quitting this blog? I changed my mind. Sort of. That whole Jodi Speaks thing was fine, but ends up maybe I just needed to feel heard, because after maybe 5 posts I was done.

But I still missed blogging. This blog.

There was only one problem. I don't want to be KyFireWife anymore. I don't know, I just don't want my entire identity wrapped up in where I live, my husband's job, and my spousal status. It just seems so... I don't know. I just needed something more me.

So now, I introduce to you Everyday Nothings. Basically a continuation of the same blog. Mostly. Maybe. Whatever. Sometimes things change.

Why the name "Everyday Nothings"? Because it's the little everyday nothings that eventually make up this great big thing called life.

And that's me. Like it or leave it, sometimes I change my mind.

If you found this, thanks for reading. Hope to see you in my new digs.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Farewell... sort of

Well, I feel it's time to close down this blog.

I've been working on another project, and while it's far from finished, it's ready for me to share with you.

I've started another blog, but one that's on a different path from this one.

I wanted an outlet for me to express my views on current events, politics, hot topics, etc freely and that is the basis of my new blog.

I hope to also find a place to share the occasional post on parenting, homeschooling, marriage, life, etc. but those topics will not be the foundation of my writing.

What I'm trying to say is that it is going to be a bit more opinionated than you're used to reading on here, so may not be what you're looking for. Or maybe it'll suit you just fine. I suppose only time will tell.

So, without further ado, here's the link to my new project:

Thank you to those of you who have followed me and read my posts for all this time now. I really appreciate it. Look for my new blog identity out in blogger land!


Sunday, January 24, 2016


Well, hello there!

What can I tell you? So much, yet so little has happened in the past two months since I've written.

Jena is doing extremely well in 2nd grade. As you may remember we are homeschooling her. My biggest struggle right now is keeping her challenged and engaged. I think I've mentioned on here before that she is gifted, and it seems like I am constantly being shown exactly how intellectually gifted she is.

By her age, she should be in 1st grade. She is instead flying thru 2nd grade. We attended a co-op during the Fall, but even even at a 2nd grade level, she was so far ahead of what was being taught that it basically ended up being purely social for her. That, combined with how hard the day was on Jillian (and consequently myself), and we decided to pull out of the co-op for next session.

Most recently I let Jena test ahead (again) in Language Arts and Arithmetic. She was able to skip 22 lessons before she got less than an "A" on the test. Twenty two. Just over a month's worth. Just blazed thru it.

Her only struggle area is handwriting, but she has improved massively since last year. It's like something just "clicked" this year, most likely her fine motor skills, LOL.

She does do enrichment classes at a local education center once per week, lots of science & art mostly. That definitely helps.

For those with curriculum / educational philosophy knowledge, we have been doing a traditional curriculum for Language Arts & Arithmetic, with Social Studies & Science being more unit studies. I'm starting to look at integrating more classical education philosophies / activities into our schooling, as I think how she learns may lean more that way. We'll see how it goes. One of the lovely things about homeschooling is that we can tailor what & how we teach to our children's needs as we go along.

Which reminds me, I need to adjust our science teaching a bit, since she recently told me that she now wants to be an engineer when she grows up, so she "can design & build machines". Truth be told, we've been saying since she was itty bitty that she would make an excellent engineer, just by the way she looked at the world. I suppose only time will tell.

Jillian (now 20 months) is growing like a weed. Recently started escaping her crib, though not regularly. Another growth spurt though and we're in trouble. She finally started walking at around 18 months. That, combined with a couple of other seemingly minor issues, and I'm beginning to wonder if she has joint issues, specifically hypermobility. Her pediatrician checked her hips & knees at her 15 mo check up because of her delayed walking and said everything looked okay, but I'm considering seeing a specialist just to make sure. My niece has EDS (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome), and didn't get properly diagnosed until she suffered a dislocation of both knees at age 15. My sister has said they wish they'd known earlier because they could have been more careful and while they couldn't prevent the condition itself, they could have helped keep her from being in so much pain & discomfort, especially in the 2+ years she was dealing with back & joint pain before getting a proper diagnosis.

Our family business is doing very well, as evidenced by the fact that I am still a SAHM, LOL. I am so proud of Jason and the work he has done to make the business such a success. Speaking of, right now he is in Mexico on a mission trip, so please pray for his and the team's safety.

I suppose that's about it for now. Thanks for checking in.
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