Sunday, May 30, 2010

Our Kids (part 3?)

Today was "Senior Sunday" at church, the weekend where our graduating high school seniors take over the mainstage service, sharing from their hearts about how God has worked in their lives. It's one of my favorite weekends of the year, and I usually end up all emotional. I mean, these are our kids. I'm so proud of them! This year we had about 30 kids graduating. Here are some of my highlights:

This is Jenny. She's actually not a senior, she's a sophomore. But Tuesday night we had our every-two-year (is that biannual?) Purity Ring Ceremony, where we give kids the chance to pledge abstinence until marriage and provide a support system to help them stick to that commitment. Jenny's parents couldn't make it, but she calls me her 2nd mom, and I was proud to give her her ring. It has been such a blessing to be a part of her story!

This is Whitney. She was my TA at school last year, and then I kept running into her in the grocery store, and last summer she finally came and checked out our youth group. Since then, I've been able to mentor her, and I'm so excited to see how much she's grown!

Ryana's the one in the middle. After mentoring her older sister for two years, I then was blessed to mentor her for the last three years or so. This girl is a stud muffin! I'm talking about full-IB/AP course load (and like a 4.7 overall GPA!!!) plus Varsity Volleyball plus volunteer in countless ministries around church plus an amazing heart for telling people about God's love and compassion for those in need. I'm supposed to be mentoring her, but she regularly challenges me!

This is Matt. I still remember when he was an annoying 6th grader that used to drive me crazy! Now he has a sense of humor that cracks me up, and a maturity beyond his years.

This is Trevor. Another stud. We're talking spiritual disciplines that would put the best of us to shame. I wish I could recount all of his stories here. The crazy thing is this time last year, he was MIA...He'd taken a several year break from his faith, only to realize that life wasn't nearly as satisfying without God. I am so glad he's back...and oh boy! is he back!! Watch out world!

Here are Ryan, Orin, and Trevor doing a cool beat-box rendition of one of my favorite worship songs, "Lead Me To the Cross"

There are so many other cool kids and cool stories, but I forgot my camera during one of the services and the other shots came out too blurry. Oh well. What a pleasure it is to be able to pour into these kids' lives. It hasn't been without a fair share of frustrations and heartache and struggles, but on a day like today, I'm blown away by the amazing, encouraging parts.

Friday, May 14, 2010

It's Official!

Just received a wonderful email today: After being lost in the shuffle for months, our foster-parent file has finally been cleared, which means we are open for business and are simply waiting to get matched with a child. Woo hoo! We are certified foster adoptive parents in waiting...and we are so excited!!!

In other official news, according to my post-op appointment with my doc, my surgery was a complete waste of time. She found nothing of concern. Not even a polyp. Well, maybe a polyp. She's not sure. (I think it was her way of making me feel better.) Everything looked great, she told me encouragingly.

The only problem is, I'm still getting the exorbitant hospital bill. For nothing. Great.

Oh, yeah, I forgot. She did actually find some scar tissue around my appendix that she removed. Check out the pictures...

This is what my appendix looked like when she first went in:

This is what it looked like post removal of scar tissue:

(Oh yeah, all that yellow stuff is fat. She said it was normal, but I'm thinking it looks pretty disgsting, like my poor little appendix is getting swallowed up!)

Apparently, the scar tissue wasn't necessarily causing any problems, but it's not a bad idea to get rid of it. I guess I might as well get my money's worth from the stupid procedure! I asked her what the scar tissue was from. She suggested that I may have had a minor case of appendicitis at one time, and that the scarring was from my body healing it on its own. Weird though, because I can't recall ever having and serious pain on my right side.

Of course, then Wednesday morning, I woke up at 4:30 am with a sharp pain in my right side, and I just knew my body was getting revenge. Maybe it liked the scar tissue! When I went to school with it still throbbing, I checked online for symptoms of appendicitis, but they didn't match up. I checked a few other things, too, but couldn't figure it out. The pain continued through the day just as sharp, but I didn't want to call the doctor, because I'm pretty skeptical of them right now. I took an ibuprofen before bed and woke up Thursday with the pain a little less. Did the same thing Thursday night and woke up today with the pain even less. But it's still there. My dad says I should call the doctor. But if it keeps getting less, I don't want to waste my time or money. But I still wonder what it was. I bet if we took some pictures today, the scar tissue would all be back.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

For the record, when you want to be a mom and can't, this holiday officially sucks. If I didn't have such a great mom and mom-in-law, I'd boycott it altogether.

The good news is, this time next year I should have a much more optimistic opinion about the day, and Jim had better be buying me some flowers! :o)

The other good news is Jim and I escaped to Lake Arrowhead this weekend and ditched church so I wouldn't be bummed by any of those carnations-for-the-moms celebrations. Holed away in our friends' fabulous "cabin", I'm going to go figure out what Jake does after he and Amy...Oh! I probably shouldn't be giving away these details, huh? Hee hee hee...You'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I am 32 oh baby

Jim thought he'd write my blog today. What a funny guy...

Today I got the greatest gift from my amazing husband. He really thought about stuff that I would like and then turned it into a really creative coupon book. Every day I am just blown away how God has blessed me with a great husband. To think that we’re age 32 together for the next five weeks is really cool too because now he can’t say to respect my elders anymore. Oh, what were the items in the coupon book. Okay, I’ll tell ya. There was a cruise trip, chik fliks at Red Box, a future iPhone, Buns of Steel DVD workout together, walks and my favorite: a no fart promise on nights I present the coupon. Seriously, Jim is just so romantic that he would even write this blog for me. Oh yeah, this is the last coupon, that he would write my birthday blog for me. What a guy...seriously.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Fun times at the hospital

So the fact that I'm writing this means I made it through surgery ok. Whew! It's been a few days but my head is still a bit woozy and my body is still quite sore. Of course, it hasn't helped that this weekend was crazy busy, and I baked my little heart out for our Haiti trip silent auction...Good thing I took Monday off. Otherwise I would have been a wreck today in class!
So, how did it go?...Well, there's a long answer and a short answer...

Short: Fine. I've survived. The pain and nausea really isn't too bad. The doctor found no endometriosis, but did find and remove a polyp in my uterus. Hopefully that will fix things.

Long: Insurance sucks! After trying to do the research and find out how much this procedure would cost, I eventually got the answer of $300. What a deal! I thought...

Well, if anything ever seems too good to be true, it probably is...I discovered that out minutes before my surgery. Apparently all the phone calls I made asked the wrong questions to the wrong people, and in the end, the $300 figure I was given was simply how much I would owe my doctor--it didn't count the hospital fees, anesthesiologist, etc...When I went to check in, the guy at the front desk mentioned that I hadn't paid anything yet, and I said that I hadn't received a bill. I asked him how much I owed, and he asked me how much I owed. I told him that's what I was asking him, and he proceeded to look at me blankly. I told him my doctor quoted me at $300, which he looked incredulous about but proceeded to scan my credit card. I asked him if $300 was indeed what I owed, and he again asked me if $300 is what I owed. Anything I asked him, he simply turned back into a question for me. I'm not sure if that was just the way he was trained or if he just wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed, but it was quite aggravating. Just as I was starting to get irritated and wonder what was going on, someone called him from the back and he sent me on to the pre-op room.

At that point, they went over all my medical paperwork once again, and then I was instructed to disrobe and get all situated in this super-cool hospital gown that they stick a tube into that blows hot air all around you. So, I'm sitting there talking to Jim and he suggests we ask one of the nurses the money question. I doubt they'll have an answer, but what the heck...The nurse is so nice, but as expected, she doesn't know. So they call in the insurance/billing lady. She brings in my "bill", which gives me no other new information other than my deductible is $6000 . That's all they keep saying is that my deductible is $6000. Well, I already knew that...but finally it sunk in. They keep just telling me my deductible because the surgery is probably going to cost way more than that. Eek! At this point I start to panic.

They keep assuring me that that's really high for a deductible...that it's probably a mistake. I keep assuring them that no, I'm pretty sure that's correct (let's just say Jim's insurance isn't the best). Is the surgery really going to cost that much?! The just keep assuring me that the deductible is high. But no one can tell me how much the surgery actually costs. Apparently hopitals aren't like a restaurant. You can't just buy a "laparoscopy with a side of hysteroscopy" and pay the bill. But why the heck not? How can there not be a standard price range for these things?! And how does not a single person have a clue about it?! The nurses and insurance lady are all on the phone calling people, asking questions...whispering about the crazy patient who wants to know the price of her surgery--as if that's something ridiculous to ask!

By this time, the guy who is supposed to take me back to the operating room has come to get me. I just want to find out how much this stupid surgery is supposed to cost before they slice me open! Jim and I had already decided that we didn't want to pay thousands of dollars for something that wasn't necessary. We were stoked about coming to the end of the adoption process and on our drive to the hospital that morning I had just remarked that I think I would be fine with never being pregnant since we might get a kid so soon. Why spend all this money just to go through pain?

So the guy is waiting there awkwardly, and I'm so overwhelmed I burst out into tears, and there is a flurry of activity as no one knows what to do with this crazy patient who is backing out of her surgery minutes before game time. I'm so embarrassed! (I do my best usually to hold back tears in front of Jim, let alone perfect strangers!) Fortunately, Jim is there, holding my hand and doing all the talking for me. They bring in my doctor, who graciously allows Jim to explain my trepidations (while I blubber away)...She kindly explains that if money is really the issue, we can postpone for another day, or they'll work with us to make payments. Jim explains that it's not the money specifically, it's the concept of spending that much money on a treatment that really isn't necessary. She soothingly explains that if she remembered correctly the procedure wasn't merely searching for a cause for our infertility but moreso was attempting to alleviate mid-cycle bleeding, which may not be immediately dire but would definitely need to be looked into in the future as a symptom of uterine cancer...

What can I say? She did her job well. With that rationalization, Jim and I look at each other and decide to proceed. (Not to mention that the cool little heated gown and slippers I'm "enjoying" probably already set me back a grand or so if I chose to up and leave right then, anyways!)...

So, I do my best to stifle my tears...Everybody does everything they can to make me smile...(Again--so embarrassing! I am NOT a high-maintenance kind of gal!)...The anesthesiologist sticks me with the IV...and before I know it, I'm in the post op. room feeling like I just got run over by a truck. did it go? Fine, I guess. Jim and friends and relatives keep reassuring me that I made the right choice. But I have to wonder...When I get the bill in the mail--however much it ends up being--will it be worth it? Maybe removing that little tumor-like polyp will solve my bleeding issues. Maybe it will keep me from getting cancer in later years. Maybe I'll even get pregnant. I guess only time will tell. But it kills me that I spent so much money on these "what if's". There are children around the world dying because they don't have enough money for daily food and clean drinking water, let alone life-saving medical help for preventable diseases. I'm sure they would have appreciated the medical attention more than I did...

And yet, what kills me the most is that no one could give me a straight answer about the cost. How is our medical system so screwed up?! Urgggh!!! It frustrates me so much! How can a consumer make the right decision when no one can tell her the real details?!

HOWEVER...I am encouraged that I made the right decisions for the rest of the weekend (albeit, perhaps detrimental to my recovery process):

*On Friday night, we had dinner with some key people to discuss the feasibility of filming our second movie, one that will attempt to empower teenagers to take thousands of orphans off the streets around the world. Definitely worth a little discomfort!
*All day Saturday, I baked cookies and cakes for our silent auction for our Haiti trip this summer, where we will work with an orphanage and other post-earthquake community service projects.

*All day Sunday, I worked at the auction, and it looks like we raised around $4000 for our trip.

So, all-in-all, it was a successful weekend...Now I just have to wait to see how God unfolds all the details...