A Work In Progress

A Work In Progress

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

11Years Back In The Bend - My Life Now Vs Then

"And I am certain that God who began the good work within you will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." Philippians 1:6 NLT

I wrote this blog post on April 30th 2012 and Added to it on April 30th, 2017.  I am leaving it as I wrote it in 2012 and 2017, and just changing the years parts and adding the now part.

My Life 11 Years Ago - May 1st, 2007

  • I was unemployed.
  • I relocated back to my hometown of South Bend, IN which meant leaving behind 15 years worth of friends.
  • I had been denied unemployment (which I eventually fought and won) so I had no income coming in for over 3 months.
  • My Grandmother was gracious enough to let me live with her.
  • My Mom's cancer was in her bones.
  • I was single and thought I would never find the right guy!
  • That July my Nephew was diagnosed with a heart condition which was a birth defect that wasn't caught until he was almost 13 years old.  He had major open heart surgery that September.
  • The economy in South Bend/Elkhart IN was awful.  It took me a year of looking to get 1 job offer.  After unemployment ran out (I got it for only 6 months), I took a waitressing job in the meantime to pay the bills.  I would cry if I got jipped on a tip b/c I really needed the money.
  • Life was extremely difficult.
  • Life was lonely.
  • It didn't help matters any that I had the "I'm the victim" mentality, in fact it made my situation worse.
  • I was not emotionally healthy.
  • I understood that God loved me in my head, but not in my heart.

My Life 6 Years Ago - May 1st, 2012

  • I have been working at the same job for 4 years and 1.5 months.
  • I have been married for almost 10 months to a man I met thru said job. Our 1st date was almost 2.5 years after I moved back to South Bend.
  • My Nephew Trey is doing great!  God spared his life and his last check-up with the cardiologist showed everything looks great!
  • I saw an amazing Christian Counselor for about 2 years and 3 months and worked on my issues.
  • I have been with my same Small Group for over 4 years.  They have helped me to grow and with God's help to overcome my former "victim mentality", although it still is my first nature and I still fight it!
  • Overall, I am emotionally healthy now.
  • I am not lonely.  I have Jonathan and lots of friends, both old and new!
  • My husband and I plan on being debt free sometime this Summer.
  • Life is challenging, but is no longer extremely difficult.
  • I wish I could say my Mom's cancer battle is over, and that she is in remission, however she continues to fight the battle!  She is the strongest woman I know and has been a Survivor for over 12 years and 2 months!
  • My relationship with my Savior is strong and growing! I know he loves ME unconditionally!

The Moral of my story is:  God has a plan for your life and even if things aren't going so great now, it doesn't mean things will be like that forever.  My life didn't magically get better overnight.  It took many years of perseverance and hard work.  I am in a great season in my life now, so I'm going to appreciate it for as long as it lasts.  My hope is that the next time I hit hard times in my life, that I will "Praise Him in the storm".

****All of the above was written 6 years ago Today**** ****Everything from here and below (until noted) was written on May 1st, 2017****

My Life 1 Year Ago - May 1st, 2017

(Can I just say that my head is spinning right now?  SO MUCH has happened in these past 5 years!  It's really hard to wrap my head around.  Both Wonderful and Heartbreaking things have happened and I would have to say that Now is one of those hard times in my life, that as I said 5 years ago, I will "Praise Him in the storm".  Bear with me as I try to recall the past 5 years.)

  • I have been at the same job for 9 years and 1.5 months.
  • I have been Married to Jonathan for almost 5 years and 10 months.  Our first date was almost 7.5 years ago (2.5 years after I moved back to South Bend).
  • My Nephew Trey continues to thrive in health and life.  He is now a successful and healthy Junior in College at Michigan State University.
  • I have seen my Counselor a bit more often lately as needed and it's so easy to pick back up right where we left off.  He knows me so well.
  • I am still forever grateful to the small group I was a part of when I first moved back here.  They helped me grow tremendously and for that I will always be Thankful.  I lead a small group at our apartment for a few years and I have been involved in a new small group thru our current Church for almost 2 years now.  They challenge and encourage me to grow in my faith, and they pray continually for me and for the many health issues of my close family members.
  • Overall I still consider myself to be emotionally healthy, however I am currently in the midst of a major depressive episode, which is presenting me with it's own set of challenges.
  •  I mostly am not lonely (part of depression is a feeling of loneliness) as I have Jonathan and many Friends and our sweet rescue dog, Mookie.  I find it is harder for friends to know what to say around me lately, and find that some just can't handle the hard truth regarding various difficult health issues my family is experiencing, and how it is affecting me.  I'm thankful for those Friends who continue to reach out to me to let me know they care and are there for me and are praying for my Family.  This means more to me than you know.
  • September of 2012, just a few months after our 1 year anniversary, Jonathan became power of attorney for his Dad who had stage 3b lung cancer.  He was hospitalized for a while and then moved to a nursing home.  Jonathan had to get his Dad applied for Medicaid.  It was a long and stressful process.  We spent precious moments with Keith and he passed away on February 26th, 2013.
  • February 28th I was admitted to the hospital thru the ER for my dead and gangrenous gallbladder.  I was hospitalized for 3 nights.  2 nights before surgery, and 1 night after.  I was released on March 3rd, and we went straight to my FIL's Memorial Service.  Talk about stressful times for us, but God carried us thru.
  • My Husband and I did work hard and achieved our goal of being debt free shortly after our 1 year anniversary!  It is an amazing feeling!  Such a weight was lifted from our shoulders!
  • On April 15th, 2015, my little Sister Debbie's Husband Scott, was diagnosed with a very rare form of Sarcoma.  It was devastating to our Family and especially to Debbie and their 4 children.  Scott had surgery in NYC May of 2016 and currently is stable.  We praise God for the time he has been blessed with.
  • After travelling (Aruba, January of 2014 and NYC July of 2015), and saving, and spending many fun weekends watching nephews/nieces to give their parents a break, and renting an apartment for almost 5 years, we bought our first and hopefully last house on April 8th, 2016.  We absolutely love this house and do not regret the decision we made.  We paid cash for our new furniture and put down a large down payment.  The only debt we have now, is the house.
  • June 10th of 2016, we adopted our sweet Maltichon!  He was a rescue dog and we named him Mookie Bogaerts.  Yes, we are Boston Red Sox Fans.  He has some special needs, but we hired a Trainer and we are so proud of how far he has come and how much calmer he has become!  He lights up our lives and daily makes us laugh and smile.  What a Joy he has been! He's certainly a blessing straight from God, meant just for us.
  • Early March, my Step-Dad Don had a grand mal seizure while at work and was hospitalized.  He had to take a leave of absence from his part time job (which he worked to pay for Mom's medical bills) and had to take like 3 weeks off from his Full time job.  He is on a very strong seizure med and is unable to drive until he has been seizure free for 6 months.  Just a few days after his seizure, Mom found out that she has 3 more cancerous tumors on her spine.  She is in a lot of pain, but as always, she keeps fighting.
  • Because I am a highly sensitive person, and because I love my Family, the past few years (especially the past few months) have been really hard on me.  I'm so thankful to have Jonathan's love and support, (and Mookie's too).  I recently changed Dr.'s due to my old Dr. not understanding depression.  I have learned mindfulness from my counselor, which has helped a lot.  I am currently off of work on FMLA.  I am grateful to God that because Jonathan and I live below are means, I am able to take this time off unpaid.  God is Good!  
PHEW!  These past 5 years have been the most emotional and eventful yet!  

IF there is anything the past has taught me, it's that God is Good and He is Faithful and Life is FULL of Good and bad times.  Life just doesn't keep getting better and better.  It ebbs and flows.  That's life in a fallen world.  So, I don't know what the future holds with my loved ones, or myself, but I know he holds the future, and just like my losing my job in Milwaukee, brought me many blessings, I trust these difficult times will make me even stronger and bring countless blessings.  I will continue to praise him in the storm. :-)

Everything from here and below was written Today - May 1st, 2018.

My Life Now - May 1st, 2018

  • Last Year at this Time I was in a bad place!   I was on FMLA for 3 weeks for anxiety and depression.  I went back to work for 4 days and couldn't handle it.  I was on Short Term Disability for 3 Months waiting to see a Psych NP.  It was a very stressful Summer.  After every Dr. Appt with my MD, I had to get my Short Term Disability reapproved.  It was not a carefree and relaxing Summer just because I wasn't working.  I still was struggling with anxiety and depression, and desperately needed to get more help, but I was unable to get in to see a Psych NP for like over 4 months since I was referred to one.  I was constantly in fear of losing my job.  I ran out of FMLA (job protection).  After praying and talking about what was best for our Family, with my Husband's Blessing, I resigned from my 9.5 Year Corporate America Job.  The job was extremely stressful for me and did not suit my personality.  I was at a desk with ear buds in, not talking to people for 9.5 Years.  I'm an Extrovert.  For 1 Month I was a Stay at Home Wife and Dog Mom working on getting myself better.
  • I have been Married to Jonathan for almost 6 years and 10 months.  Our first date was almost 8.5 years ago (2.5 years after I moved back to South Bend).
  • My Nephew Trey continues to thrive in health and life.  He is 23 Years old and will Graduate from Michigan State University this Saturday with a Criminal Justice Degree.  I remember the day he was born!
  • I have seen my Counselor off an on as needed and I still think He is an Amazing Counselor and a total God Send!
  • I have been involved in a Women's small group thru our current Church for almost 3 years now.  They challenge and encourage me to grow in my faith, and they pray continually for me and for the many health issues of my close family members.  I have certainly grown in my Faith and walk with God by knowing these incredible Women.  Jonathan and I also joined a Small Group Together Last Sunday Afternoon/Evening.  We fit right in and everyone was so nice, welcoming and had great senses of humor (like us)! :-)
  • We made it thru 9 weeks of issues caused by ice damming.  What a long 9 weeks it was!  We had 4 Walls torn down and they had to be dried out for a week with Loud, Industrial sized fans and dehumidifiers.  Then we were without walls for 5 more weeks.  Then we were at a hotel for 9 days while our house was being restored.  Then we've been dealing with additional issues since we moved back a month ago.  We are 99 percent thru this ordeal! :-)
  • I still found it was harder for friends to know what do/say while we were dealing with the house situation and other issues, and still find that some just can't handle the hard truth regarding how hard our lives were with the ice damming, other issues and the various difficult health issues my family is still experiencing.  I'm thankful for those Friends who continue to reach out to me to let me know they care and are there for me and are praying for Us.  This still means more to me than you know.  
  • It's now been 3 Years since my little Sister Debbie's Husband Scott, was diagnosed with a very rare form of Sarcoma, called DSRCT.  We went to WI for his Surprise 40th Birthday (a month after his Birthday) last Fall.  We praise our Amazing God for the extra time He has blessed Scott with here on this earth.  Every day counts for Debbie and their 4 Children.  Scott is still receiving treatments and more growth was found in his peritoneum.  The cancer has never left his liver.
  • We haven't traveled much over the past year, but did take up camping, and we can't wait to do it again this Summer.  Yes, we tent camp, and we love it! :-)  Our next traveling goal is to go somewhere warm and Sunny for my 45th Birthday (It's only 8 Months Away, so We'd better start saving now)! :-)
  • June 10th will be 2 years since we adopted our sweet Rescue Maltichon (Maltese/Bichon Frise), Mookie Bogaerts!  He has fear aggression, but we are so proud of how far he has come and how much calmer he has become!  He lights up our lives and daily makes us laugh and smile.  What a Joy he continues to be for us! He's certainly a blessing straight from God, meant just for us.
  • My Step-Dad Don is still on anti-seizure meds and can drive again and is working 2 jobs again. Mom had 6 tumors on her spine, but 3 are gone and the other 3 have shrunk. :-)  She continues her 18+ years of battling cancer.
  • I have been seeing my new Family Dr for a year and I still know I made the right choice to leave my last Dr who didn't understand Depression.  I finally got in to see the Psych NP and she prescribed additional anxiety meds and an ADD Med. I believe I am on the right combo of meds now and even thru hard times, I can still function.
  • September 26th, I started my own small business.  It's called J-La-Sta's Thrifty Threads.  I became an LLC in January and attended a Women's Small Business Conference in Lake Geneva WI in March.  I sell gently used clothing at thrifty prices.  I use my mad bargain hunting skills to help and serve others, and I love it.  This past year has taught us that PEACE is far more important than Money.  Jonathan agrees that we made the right choice for me to leave my Corporate America Job.  It's helped him too, because although I do do more around the house now, it is the PEACE that me leaving that job has brought us both, that makes him the most Happy! What a Guy! :-)  I gave all I had to that job and I had nothing left to give on the evenings and weekends.  I love owning my own Business and I will be attending my 2nd WBOM - Women Business Owners of Michiana Event on May 8th.  I love networking with other Female Entrepreneurs in my area.  I need People!  I've also grown closer to my Local SAHM Friends! :-)

This Year has been a Year of Great Change for our Little Family.  Our God always has and always will remain Faithful to us.  As I have learned well over many years, Life is Tough, but God IS Faithful! :-)  

So, After 11 Years back in the Bend, I'm doing very well, and I get to talk to more people then I ever did at my Corporate America Job.  Talking to People is important for this Extreme Extrovert!  

May 1st, 2007 I moved back to the Bend.  Today, May 1st, 2018, I had a productive day working my Business and Jonathan and I took a few walks in this 84 degree weather.  One walk with Mookie and one walk without Mookie.  We also grilled out and ate Dinner Outside.  How different my Life is compared to 11 Years ago, but it's oh so much more fulfilling.  Thanks God! ;-)  

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Updates on my BIL - God is a God of HOPE! :-)

Please make sure you read the 2nd Post too! :-)

Journal entry by Debbie Heiman — 1/22/2018
Our break has come to an end. Scott and I meet with Dr. Mogal on Wednesday afternoon. Dr. Mogal is a surgeon in the cancer center at Froedtert. He will explain in more detail what the surgery will entail, expected length of hospital stay, etc. 

We already have Scott's chemo scheduled. He will begin on January 29th - February 2nd. He goes at 8AM every day, and we're unsure about the length. He will have to get 2 chemo drugs and fluids for sure. I would guess that it will be a minimum of 2 1/2 hours. That's just my guess from prior experience. It may be longer.

He will have a 2 week break and then have another 5 day chemo. I believe Dr. Charlson will do a scan after the 2 rounds before surgery. He needs at least a 3 week break from chemo before he heads into surgery.

On Saturday, all 6 of us were able to go and see Scott's Mom Karen at the rehab hospital in Waterford. I'm glad that she was able to give all of us a hug! I'm glad the kids finally got a chance to see their Nana.

I think that's all the news I have for right now. We're trying to remain positive. We will never lose faith that our good and gracious Father in Heaven knows exactly what we need. His plans are always perfect, even if we don't agree with his plans. 

Journal entry by Debbie Heiman — 1/24/2018
Around 3:00 this afternoon, Scott and I met with Dr. Mogal. We went into this meeting prepared with all of our questions and ready to talk about his upcoming surgery.

We were shocked when he threw us for a loop that we weren't expecting! He began by saying that he feels as if he can remove the cancer from Scott's pelvis. He went on to say that he wonders if it's worth the risk of opening Scott up again, since his liver still has active cancer in it. 

He said that the left lobe of Scott's liver is looking pretty good. He noticed that the left lobe has gotten bigger (possibly to compensate for the right lobe, which has active cancer).

Here's where we were very surprised. He said that they are reviewing our case to see if it's possible to resect the part of Scott's liver that has disease. If you are newer to our story, I'll explain a bit. From day 1, about 2 years and 9 months ago, we have always been told that there is too much disease in both lobes of his liver to do a resection. Today, he said they are investigating the possibility. He just put a lot more hope in us, and a reason to fight even harder! 

Our hopes are high, but it's definitely not a sure thing that this surgery will be happening. We have a long road ahead of us!

Dr. Mogal said we would meet with him again in about 3 months. In the meantime, Scott will be doing 3-4 rounds of chemo. This means 1 round = Days 1-5 receiving chemo and days 6-19 will be a break. Day 1 he gets Cytoxan and Topotecan. Days 2-5 is just Topotecan. They are both IV chemo.

Scott will have a scan after these 3-4 rounds of chemo to see how everything looks in the liver and peritoneum (abdominal cavity). 

After the chemo and getting his scan results, Dr. Mogal will meet with us (probably in late April) to discuss surgery and if it's a go or not. 

These months ahead are full of uncertainty. Will the chemo help to shrink the tumors, will Scott be sick, will surgery be possible, is this an answer to our prayers about Scott's (untouchable) liver? Only God knows these answers. What we are certain of is that no matter what Scott's future looks like, his end result will be in heaven, whether it's soon or years from now. The same goes for each and every one of us who believes in Jesus as their Savior. What a blessing to all believers!

I am thankful for Dr. Mogal and the hope he provided us with today. It is a hope that I pray will keep Scott's attitude positive and help him continue this long and hard fight. Here are 2 beautiful passages about hope.

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21