Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is a constant reminder of the start of a whirlwind my life went on for an entire year.  I say it every year on Facebook, but six years ago today, I entered the hospital in Tennessee on my mission. While I was serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I went into Congestive Heart Failure with a condition called Endocarditis.  I became extremely fatigued and my lungs starting filling up with fluids not allowing me to breathe (especially when I laid down).  When I would wake up in the morning, I would take a shower and then have to go right back to bed.  The doctors described it as my heart was working as hard as if I were running a race, but really, I was just sitting still.  It was really scary, since not a whole lot had really happened since I was born.  I would just go in for my annual check-ups and received a pacemaker at 10, with occasional battery changes.  When this happened, I didn't know if my body was telling me it was tired from missionary work or if I was really sick!  I finally went to the Urgent Care in town.  After some tests and x-rays at the hospital, they admitted me, seeing that I had fluid in my lungs.  I just couldn't believe this was happening.  I kept thinking that this could not be happening.  I still had six more months to serve!  I wanted to complete my mission, but Heavenly Father had other plans.  All along, I had a wonderful companion, Sister Ashley Hathcock, who helped me every step of the way and took great care of me!  
How many district photos are in the hospital?

Me and Sister Hathcock

 Once I arrived to the hospital, the first few days the doctors kept telling me a different thing each day.  Finally, they pinpointed it and said I had Endocarditis.  One thing that happens with Endocarditis, is that a vegetation will form on the valves damaging them.  These vegetations eventually will fall off, either going to the brain or somewhere else in the body.  They had to watch this vegetation closely.  If it went to my brain, it would have caused a stroke.  
On May 10, my birthday, my dad flew into TN and was by my bedside the next two weeks.  We joke that it was the longest daddy-daughter date ever!  I was so glad that he came and while he was there, was able to meet so many of the people I grew to love.  One couple in the ward I had currently been serving in, let him borrow a truck the whole time he was there.  That made it fun for him to explore the surroundings a bit.  Another member took him all over the Appalachian mountains and through the local cities and towns.  One Sunday, he drove up to Marion (where I served twice) and went to church and then dinner at the Wassum's home.  It was such a neat experience for him!  While he stayed with me, my room was the tiniest hospital room I've ever seen (still to this day) and he slept in a little chair next to my bed every night.  What an awesome dad!!  I will never forget the sacrifice he made to come be by my bedside for two weeks in Tennessee.  I will cherish those weeks forever!
I needed to write some thank you cards, so I had my dad buy some from the gift shop.  They were probably the ugliest cards I'd ever seen.  We had a good laugh...and I still sent them out!! And that's the chair my dad slept in for two weeks!
During the remaining two weeks in the hospital, they ran constant tests and cultures, and were watching the vegetation.  When Endocarditis happens, the valves are damaged.  My tricuspid valve started leaking.  Everything had to be monitored very closely.  Once everything was stable, I was put on a leer jet, hooked up to several machines and had two nurses fly home with us.  It was such an overwhelming feeling as I flew over Tennessee and left my mission.  I knew it was the right thing to do, since they don't really like dying missionaries in the field, but it was really hard.  I shed tears and then I just hoped for the best...hoped that I would get healthy.
Once I arrived in Orange County, I got right into an ambulance that took me to Mission Hospital.  There I stayed for a few days.  Once I left, I received home healthcare for about 6-8 weeks.  Eventually on December 10 of that year, I had open heart surgery to replace my tricuspid valve.  After recovering and several other series of events (including vocal paralysis), I decided to make the move to Provo, on May 9.  So for one year, my life was a roller coaster of emotions and events.  
After my open heart surgery.
 I am so glad that I had such a strong family support during that time.  Like I said, this time every year, I am reminded of all the challenges I faced.  In the moment, I hated my life.  There were moments I hoped I never woke up; there were moments I was too afraid to fall asleep thinking I would never wake up; wondering what guy is going to want to marry me and take all this responsibility.  Well I am here to tell you today that those obstacles were overcome and I am happier than I have EVER been!  I am loving life.  I did find a wonderful husband who didn't even bat an eye when finding out about my health problems, who has been a wonderful husband and father, I was able to get an education, make friends, live on my own, have jobs, and the biggest worry of all...I was able to have a BABY!!  Yes at times I thought, how could Heavenly Father put me through all that?  I was serving a mission, doing everything right.  Yes I will admit, my testimony was tested, but in the end, I have come to understand the Atonement even more, for all that it encompasses.  Not just our sins, but EVERYTHING we go through in our life.  I am grateful for this time of year, to look back and see that I'm alive, I beat the odds more than once, and that when we have hard things happen to us, we aren't alone and we can get through anything with the help of the Savior.  


  1. This is beautiful. Thanks for sharing! When we worked together at HELP, you mentioned you had heart problems, but I had never heard this story. I didn't know all of this happened to you. Such a brave woman! I'm so glad that all the things you were worried about were actually able to happen for you!

  2. I remember when this was all going on. We were all so worried about you! I'm so glad that you fought so hard and made it through all that! You are so much stronger then I am :-)

  3. You are such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing!

  4. So glad you wrote this all down! What a crazy, amazing story! It had me both laughing and teary..haha. The thank you cards picture/story is too funny! I am so glad you and Josh found one another - we sure love you! Miss you guys!

  5. I remember this so well! I got to meet your dad when he came to Marion, VA! What a great dad you have!! I'm so happy you recovered and had a baby!! You are awesome! Thanks for sharing!

  6. love this post! such a struggle you went through, but i love that you are able to share about it and share how you learned from it. your dad, he is so sweet. and i love that thank you card story. dads are the greatest! :) i'm so happy for you and your sweet family, you are an amazing wife and mom and i love that you are around to share your victory with all of us! love you friend!