What an Addison’s Crisis looks like, acute adrenal failure

 

A few weeks ago, I came home from church to find my mom more tired than usual. I had noticed she had been sleeping a lot the last few days and had not joined us for dinner. I made her a sandwich and brought it to her, hoping some food would make her feel better. She told me thank you and how good it looked, took a bite, and then suddenly fell face down into the sandwich as if she was collapsing into pure exhaustion. I woke her up and tried to talk to her to find out what was wrong. She said she was tired, and her stomach was upset and then she tried to explain that she might have got one of her pills mixed up. As she told me about how the tiny, white ones look just alike, I realized immediately, she was referring to her steroids.

My mom has Addison’s Disease, otherwise known as total adrenal failure. Her body does not make what she needs, so she is totally dependent on steroids. If she does not take them for an extended period of time, this could cause brain damage or death.

 

At that moment, I did not know if she actually had missed any, or if so, how many. I just knew something was not right. I said a prayer, and in an instant, the doorbell rang. It was my brother-in-law, the chiropractor. I asked him to come upstairs and have a look. He used his cell phone to track my mom’s eyes. She did not follow. He got out the blood pressure cuff to check her blood pressure. It read something like 40/80.

We put her in the car and drove her to the ER. The ER did not waste any time with blood pressure reading like that. They immediately had her in the back. I shouted out, ‘this woman has total adrenal failure. She is hydrocortisone dependent. I have a feeling that she either missed some dosages, or has been so sick to her stomach, that she has lost the medicine.”

As they asked me questions, I tried to answer in a blur. “She has not been herself for about three days. I just thought she was tired or had a bug….She was diagnosed with adrenal failure in 2008. She takes 30 mg of hyrdrocortisol a day….She is allergic to latex, and codeine…”

Unlike so many times before, the admitting doctor heard everything I said. Maybe I have finally learned how to explain the situation.

Before even running tests, they set up an IV and got fluids in, and then steroids. At the same time, her temperature was dropping. She was mentally confused. She did not know where she was, her name, the hospital, the date, the year even. She could barely make a sentence and kept falling asleep. They set up a heater around her legs and covered her in blankets and began the tests.

Her potassium and cortisol levels were off the chart abnormal. The doctor said, ‘This is textbook, adrenal crisis. I have never seen a clearer case.’ Soon, her kidneys went into failure. The doctor had to call in a critical care physician.


So many doctors see that one page in the textbook and don’t get to ever truly experience acute adrenal failure. Then, when the time comes that someone is in trouble, they don’t know what to do. The symptoms look like so many other things.
Symptoms of acute adrenal failure are: dizziness, extreme drowsiness, high potassium, abdominal pain, GI problems like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, joint pain. Just think of how many other things those symptoms could point to.
The doctors put her in ICU for three days, then took her to a special care unit for the rest of the week. She has absolutely no memory of this incident. There, she was given something like 100 mg of steroids every 4 hours, or more.
Today, she is fine. She has her steroids set aside from her other medicine so that she never misses a dose. She has an injection in her purse in case she feels the signs of a crisis coming on.
But there is always that one chance, she slips into a crisis again, and has no idea what is going on, or the sense enough to use the injection, or get to a hospital.


She has lived with us for seven years. The diagnosis came in 2008, just a few months after I married my sweetheart. Her weight had gotten down to 72 pounds. She kept having repeated adrenal crises.


She ended up moving in with us just a few months after we got married.

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She would love to live by herself now. Now that we have learned to manage the disease, this might be possible. But she needs to live close to family for the rest of her life. This disease is just far too dangerous.


Addison’s Disease is very dangerous. April is adrenal disease awareness month. This is a great video to raise awareness of the disease.

Adoption is not a cure or provision for infertility

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November 22, 2011. IVF #1. Four years of trying. Countless infertility treatments. Finally, a positive pregnancy test. Hallelujah Angels sing and hope washes over me at last. But week 7, we lost our little cowboys. I was volunteering at Lighthouse Christian Ministries when it began. It continued into my birthday. To say that was a hard holiday season does not do it justice. I’ve grieved every cycle since then that we did not get pregnant or miscarried. Yep, I miscarried again. And Again.

Now, I am the proudest mamma in the Southern Galaxy of an amazing three-year old boy and four-year old girl. God gave us more than I could ever dream or imagine through the miracle of adoption. I never gave birth, but two beautiful, sweet, kind, loving, darling kids call me mommy. They want me to hold them when they are tired. They want me to say “I hope you feel better” and give them a Band-Aid when they bump their knees. They tell God they are thankful for their mom and dad. They give me sloppy kisses and jump into my lap the minute I finally sit down. They ask me why, why, why, why, why as if somehow I know the answers. They look up for me while playing at the park, then smile when they see me and get back to playing.  I am the most important person in their little lives right now. Besides Daddy.

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I am humbled. I am overwhelmed. My cup runneth over. When I watch them sleep, I feel my heart bursting for the love I feel for these amazing children who don’t have my eyes, or my smile, or my screwed up family genetics, but are still mine. Well, they belong to God. But He has given me the gift of raising these precious treasures. I am mommy. This is a miracle indeed.

God has created a family. Our house is no longer quiet or clean. My closet is the most disorganized place in the house. I don’t sleep. I live off coffee. Pedicures and shopping are ancient history. I rejoice daily, hourly. I get belly laughs, tickles, hugs, kisses and to hear a child sing, laugh, and pray.

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And yet in all the happiness of being a mother to two wonderful children, I do still grieve, sometimes even more now. Adoption was in no way a cure all for or provision for the pain of infertility and loss. But because of the miracle of adoption, I get to experience the joy of motherhood. And because our kids came to us through adoption, I rejoice in our future, but I mourn their past. And I am still infertile.

It seems like the moment I get alone… which has been about 3 times in the last year… the tears flow, more so than before. A different kind of grief now.

Baby showers were hard before. I have been shocked to find out they are even harder now. At a recent shower, I suddenly became overwhelmed with sadness thinking about what it must have been like when our children were born? Was it a peaceful pregnancy with a mother doing all she could to keep her body and the baby healthy? No. Did the Mother’s friends and family surround the unborn child with gifts and love? No. Were healthy meals brought to the house by loving friends? No. Was there a nursery? A home? No.

I grieve for that turmoil our children were dealt those early years, that lack of nurture, attachment, warmth in that key development time.

You know what else? It is also even more difficult on my heart to watch a new mom hold a newborn and snuggle it’s sweet body against her chest. Such a beautiful sight, and yet what I know now causes me to feel sadness. Sadness that no one snuggled and nurtured our children as newborns. Attachment starts in the womb. Our kids came to us so young, but already missed key brain development, nurture, love, attachment in those earliest days.

I am a firm believer that nurture can undo nature. Our kids are healing, developing, happy sweet little monkeys. They were rescued. Their future is one of hope and joy. But it does not change history. Our  children have a painful past and I weep for them.

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Adoption was not a provision for my infertility. My infertility was God’s provision for an orphan.

That is not to say that infertility is the provision for all orphans, but my infertility was God’s provision for two orphans in 2013. Maybe more later. I have peace in this. I longed to be a mother. My body could not give birth to children. Eventually, as I submitted my plans and hopes and desires and dreams to God, every bone in my body longed to adopt. God truly gives us the desires of our hearts.

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To the woman on her 100 and something cycle, grieving another ‘Not this time’, I get it. To the adoptive mom who has the most beautiful children in the world and still secretly grieves another failed cycle, I get it. To that same mom who rejoices in each second with her children, but still grieves the time you did not get with your kids before they came to you, I get it. I understand the roller coaster of emotions. It is ok to feel all these ways.

We are women who love deeply. Our Heavenly Father gave us the desire to want to give life and nurture and care for people.  Our desires are normal and okay. Our roller coaster of feelings and emotions are normal and okay.  We live in a broken, sinful world and things don’t always go the way we wish. Yet, somehow, there is beauty in the mess. God sees your heart and your hurts and your joys and he longs to comfort you and give you rest and tell you just like I just did, “it’s okay precious one.” I love you.”

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An adoptive mom holds her child for the first time

I always imagined the first time I would hold my daughter. The nurse would bring her to us wrapped in pink. I would sob tears of joy while my husband put his arm around both of us. Surely you have thought about this moment too. Or experienced it. The intensity of joy I would feel in that vision could bring me to tears no matter where I was. But it did not happen that way at all.

She was three the first time I held her. She was wearing a little pink shirt that said “Famous for my smile,” black leggings, and a pair of ratty silver sparkly shoes. She had a smeared face paint mark on her face.

Her little brother stood beside her in his red tee-shirt and khaki pants, which were way too big and rolled three times at the waist. Both of them staring up at an aquarium in the adoption agency office, looking up at me and my husband, hoping we would lift them to see the fish better.

I was not the confident mom I envisioned I would be in a hospital room. It was an adoption agency office with colorful walls. I wore jeans. I was nervous.

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Then, they both looked at us and asked us to hold them so they could see the fish in the aquarium. They giggled and gazed at us and then the fish, and then us again. And all my tension went away. And I fell in love in an instant.

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I wrote more about that first meeting here. At that time, I could not share any photos or names.

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It has been one year today since I held my daughter, and my son, for the very first time. One year since I fell madly in love with two amazing kids. One year since my life changed forever.

I do grieve for the time I did not get with them in their infant years. I grieve for the challenges they faced as infants and toddlers, for not getting to bond with a caregiver in those earliest moments. I grieve the amount of time I spent worried about fertility treatments and not focused on God’s plan for us.

Then, I stop and I thank our sovereign God for his perfect timing and I decide to celebrate today, and tomorrow if I can bring an Annie cliché into this entry.

If the traditional route for creating a family had worked for us, we would not have met these two kids. Without a doubt, we needed to meet these two kids. We needed to be their parents. He is our son and she is in our daughter in every way possible. These are the two kids God handpicked for us out of all the millions of other kids on this planet.

Adoption was not God’s provision for our infertility. It was God’s provision for an orphan, two in our case. Maybe more. Later.

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ADOPTION: The goal is connection

Keeping Connection as the Goal from Tapestry on Vimeo.

When David and I were preparing to be foster/adoptive parents, we put in a lot of training hours and read a lot of books. We highlighted and took notes, but had no idea what to expect. When preparing to foster, the trainers and social workers actually highlight the worst aspects of foster parenting. They don’t want people going into this blindly.

Our favorite training were the videos our agency had by Karyn Purvis. Later, when the kids arrived, we took another really good course at First Baptist Church in Houston called Empowered to Connect, a more in-depth look at the Karyn Purvis research. We were able to put more of the research into perspective and practice this time since we had our kids now. But everything was still new and honeymoon like.

Now, that we have had these precious babies for a while and have read their files and know their history, I am going through the course again on my own and doing the homework all over again. The methods have been so helpful so far, and I want to learn more and more to help us be the parents these kids need. How many times do you see your favorite movie and catch a new scene or detail each time? I am so determined to learn and practice this stuff, doing the research again can’t hurt. Since other friends looking to adopt read this blog, I thought I would share some of the insights in the coming weeks.

First, what is Empowered to Connect? It is parent training based on the Trust Based Relational Intervention model designed by Dr Purvis and her team at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas. It is consistent with scripture and reflects the heart of God for us and our children.

The foundational principles are

Empower. Address the physical and physiological needs of the child. This is about meeting the needs of the kids holistically. Are they tired? Hungry? Thirsty? Kids need a healthy balance of nurture and structure. They desperately need predictability and calmness.

Connect. Address the relational needs of the child.

Correct. Correcting principles are built on the foundation of the empowering and connecting principles and teach ways to address behavior problems.

Connecting is the foundation. Many parenting models and philosophies are more focused on correcting. Other models look a little like 60% correcting, 25% empowering, 15% connecting. The Connecting model is to spend more time on connecting, 60%, and then 25% on empowering. By doing so, only 15% of time will need to be spent on correcting.

This training is designed specifically for children that have experienced relationship based trauma, institutionalization, multiple foster placements, maltreatment, neglect and other traumas and harm.

It is focused on a child from a hard place, but I can see how the principles would be great for every child. What is a child from a hard place? The six risk factors are surprising.

1. Prenatal stress.
2. Difficult birth or labor.
3. Early medical trauma.
4. Trauma.
5. Neglect.
6. Abuse.

Some people think that the adoption road will be ‘easy’ if they get to bring the children in very young or as infants. Research proves that the way a child behaves is not just about the home environment. That time in the womb can greatly impact some of what we see as behavior problems now. It explains who so many adults adopted at birth face issues they just can’t explain in their adult life since they grew up in a pretty happy home.

As a result of the hard place, children can experience.

1. Heightened levels of stress and fear.
2. Impact on the ability to process sensory input.
3. Altered brain development and neurochemistry.
4. Lack of secure attachment.
5. Development of survival tactics and maladaptive behaviors.

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Children’s history and its impacts can result in the creation of deeply ingrained beliefs and lies from the enemy that stand in the way of connection. Kids from hard places will need more than just words to change their deeply held beliefs. They need to consistently experience the truth of what they are being told in a safe, nurturing relationship, not just hear it.

This training focuses on the fact that parents have been called by God to be the primary agents of change in their child’s life. We have been called to enter in to the brokenness of a child’s life and be the agents of God’s healing and redemption, as we point our children toward the ultimate healing and redemption that He offers through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Dr Purvis makes clear, “Our children were harmed in and through relationships, and they will find healing in and through relationships.

As I re-read the books, I grieve knowing about our Children’s painful first few chapters of life and how that could have impacted their future long term in terrible ways. Then, I rejoice in Jesus Name that God protected them and delivered them.

Our Children’s’ past may affect their futures, but it won’t determine it.

Our children are not without hope, and neither are we as parents. We know God is big and strong and mighty and in charge and we know from his word and from science, that children have a tremendous capacity for change.

As Dr Purvis says, “Nurture can actually change nature.”

As I begin this research journey of learning these methods, I continue to pray for God to give me eyes to see these children with His eyes, which are eyes of compassion. I need to remember that there will be things about our kids’ history that I know and that I don’t know impacting them.

Colossians 3:12

New International Version (NIV)

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

When children pray

'Child while food is blessed 1' photo (c) 2008, Zechariah  Judy - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Our day of reading the CPS redactive files was the longest I’ve been away from the little guys since they moved in. Little Man grabbed my hand several times yesterday and today and said, “forever and ever mommy.” or “You had a meeting. Mimi watched me. YOU came back! You always come back!”

During the Goodnight rituals, Little Man pulled me extra close and closed his eyes tight and said, “I pray for you. Dear God, Thank you for keeping my mommy safe. Thank you for bringing her home. I love my mommy. I love you. Amen.”

I have experienced the wonderful gift of praying with close friends and family, and being prayed over. I had not ever experienced the amazing gift of being prayed over by my children. This is a new kind of Throne Room wonderful.

Little Man is almost 3. He is such a sweet heart.

Lord, let him be kind and thoughtful and trusting in you like this forever.

Such a sweet age. Such a sweet boy.

As I lie down on the floor in their bedroom after this and praying over them, tears streamed down my face as I thought about the terrible things these babies experienced as infants, and how God kept them safe, and delivered them, and is giving them hope, faith and love.

These kids are extraordinary. We have such a big job in being entrusted with these precious treasures. My cup runneth over with love, and yet I worry I won’t have enough love to cover the pain they already experienced, enough wisdom and grace to be the mom they need. I can’t do it alone.

Everyday, every moment of the day, my prayer is the same.

Father, thank you for letting us take care of your precious children. Empower us with your Holy Spirit to do this. Fill us with your Spirit, your love, your mercy, your grace, your compassion. We can’t do this without you. We need you. Help us to have a kind and gentle voice, to be compassionate, to be wise, to be playful. Help us to give the kids the right balance of nurture and structure. Help us to connect with these kids at all times. When they misbehave, help us to connect with them as we mentor, coach and teach them the right way. Help us to be patient. Help us to be calm. Help us to remember to ask what do our children need. May these kids grow up to love you, to know you, to serve you. Let them see your grace and mercy and love through us. Amen.

I am so thankful that Almighty God is in charge of their story. The first few chapters were a hard read, but he kept them safe through and through. And the next several chapters will be nothing short of amazing. These babies are a precious gift indeed and they already have a ministry.

Oh Little Man, Little Lady. May His face shine upon you and give you peace.

Isaiah 60:1

60 “Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.

Redacted files are in -moving forward!

Redacted files are in -moving forward!

The redacted files were released this week. This was one of the last steps to finalizing the adoption.

We went to the CPS office to read about our Children’s’ painful past. This stack of papers was printed front and back. It was certainly overwhelming as the veil was lifted on many things I already suspected.

Love covers a multitude of wrongs. Relationships may have hurt these babies early on, but relationships will be what heals them and helps them grow healthy and strong.

Now we wait for a case number. Our social worker thinks we can sign the permanency papers in June. Lots of red tape to push through, but it is possible the finalization hearing could take place in July.

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Remembering the journey on Memorial Day 2014

Remembering the journey on Memorial Day 2014

In October, I attended a conference near this hotel, The Hilton Hill Country Resort and Spa near Sea World in San Antonio, Texas. One morning bright and early before my meetings began, I got one of the most stressful calls of my career about a personnel issue concerning someone on my team. I made some very difficult decisions, stayed strong, then walked outside to gain my composure before the conference began. Through tears, l talked to God. Once that peace that transcends all had washed over me, I noticed how beautiful this hotel was.

I “reminded” God how much I want to be a mom and one day to even take kids to a fun place like this. It was the same prayer I had echoed for seven years.

Then, I added some more. I asked Him to change our life forever.

But, hey I am a vessel and here to serve. I told Him that I accept God’s calling for my life, rather to be a mom or not. I will love the Lord my God with all my heart to the end of my days no matter what.

One week later, we got the call about the kids.

Seven months later, a gorgeous and sweet four-year old girl and two-year old boy sat right here in this very same chair giggling and calling me Mommy.

God is good. All the time.

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Now, a little about our first family vacation to this place! Remember, the kids are in the foster care system so I can’t post photos of them just yet.

Last time I stayed at the Hilton Hill Country hotel in San Antonio just last October 2013, I was actually disappointed by how dirty it was and how inattentive to the details the team there was. I wrote a long comment to them when I left, but it was never acknowledged. Nonetheless, I decided to give it another chance for our first family vacation. I knew the hotel had good ‘bones.’ It was a good decision. This time, the hotel was clean, staff was and prepared for the weekend rush and really attuned to making sure all the details were special. We’ll stay here again for sure.

We stayed in a king suite so the kids had the sofa bed and we had the bed. This room had a frig so we stocked it with cereal, bread, turkey, cheese, chips, salsa, yogurt, milk, peanuts, apples, grapes, juice. This was the perfect combination of snacks for this weekend trip.

The hotel has a beautiful garden with fire pits and sets up outdoor movies each weekend night. It has three water areas to play in. One splash pad for kids at only 1 Ft deep, one big family pool with hot tub and one more lap style pool, which seemed to be the unspoken ‘adult’ pool. It is extremely handicap friendly, which I love. I am constantly on the look-out for handicap friendly places where we can take David’s dad to.
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The hotel had an unbeatable special. I am not sure if it was Memorial Day only, or more often. For $40, we were able to get shuttle service to SeaWorld, wireless internet, unlimited soda, juice and water from pool bar and unlimited burgers, hot dogs and popcorn from pool bar also. The pool bar does not open until later in the afternoon, so this is a dinner special. We took advantage of the hamburgers, hot dogs, s’mores, movies and popcorn and swimming one night. That was the kids favorite night!
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The kids and I spent the first day getting settled into the hotel and swimming at the pool while David had some work meetings to attend on Friday.

Then, we took one night to enjoy the RiverWalk and see The Alamo. Parking was expensive, the restaurant was expensive, but it was fun. I think with little kids, next time we’ll just go to walk the river and have ice cream. We had dinner at Paesano’s, a very nice Italian restaurant. I am sure there are better family options, but we were getting exhausted looking for gluten-free options.

We spent Saturday at SeaWorld. I read so many blogs about how to do Sea World with kids. Not sure I learned a lot though. The kids wore swimsuits, coverups and waterproof shoes. We brought our wagon and a small ice chest. For snacks, we brought Pringles chips, cheese and crackers, grapes, turkey sandwiches, Rice Krispy treats, water, Gatorade, carrots, apples. I made the foolish mistake of packing juice boxes. SeaWorld does not let you bring straws in so I had to throw all the straws away. Now I have 6 unusable juice boxes. I never saw any tips about that in the blogs. Just bring water and leave the juice boxes at home! The cold red grapes ended up being a favorite snack when waiting in line, plus pulling the grapes off the vine gave the kids something to do. We saw two shows: Azul and One World. The kids loved them both. We played in the Sesame Street Bay of Play, rode two rides, and saw all the exhibits we could: penguins, sharks and coral reef, alligators. By 5, the kids were done!

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We spent the night relaxing at the beautiful hotel, enjoying the outdoor movie and the burgers and the pool and the s’mores.

On Sunday, we had lunch at Two Bros BBQ and let the kids play before the long drive home. One stop at Bucc-ee’s later for blue Icees and we were home by Sunday evening.

I have always loved going to San Antonio for business, for fun with my sweetheart, for girls weekend. Now it looks like a great family destination too! We have been home a few days and the kids keep asking, ‘can we go on vacation again to Tonia?’