Monday, June 27, 2005

Headed Home

Quick update for you loyal blog readers.

Looks like I am headed home in the next couple of days. My doctor and boss are really really pushing me to do it, and honestly it's what I want to do so I figure I should do it. (At my boss' insistence) the doctor gave me a tenteki (IV) full of the good stuff so I could at least function somewhat. I am pretty weak from eating only yogurt cups and toast for the past week or so. I also received a standing prescription to come and get an IV anytime I want this week, so that is great.

Thank you all for all of your support. If you'd like to pray more specifically for me and this situation, then here are some specifics:

  • my employer and co-workers who are being fabulous, truly more than I could ever ask for
  • IV fluids
  • my friends here who are taking care of me so well until I can get home
  • trying to find a somewhat reasonable airplane ticket (this could get ridiculous)
  • as I try to make it through the physical strain of the trip back
  • my doctors appointments and tests I will go through once home
  • my family and me as we try not to worry or stress
Thank you again. Love you all. I'll update this post when I know what day I'm leaving.

The Lord provides! It seems like through this experience, each time I pray for God to provide for me He does in amazing and effective ways. Today two angels of mercy (who will remain anonymous because I think I'd embarrass them) helped arrange my flight home. I can't begin to explain what a load off my mind this is. You two know who you are and I thank you profusely!!!!! So now I will be leaving on Saturday, July 2 at 4pm from Narita Airport and arriving in Texarkana at 8pm on Saturday evening. Until then I'm going to try to get my apartment ready for being gone and gather my strength for the flight.

Friday, June 24, 2005

The GI Files

Hello again, all.
I just posted once, but I figure I owe my friends who read this an update on my physical condition. Frankly, I'll be honest and admit that I am reaching a stage where I am pretty sick of seemingly everyone knowing about my gastro-intestinal (GI) system, but I'm not going to complain about the fact that I have the "problem" of too many people caring. I am quite quite blessed with a wonderful support group throughout the world-- literally.
So here's the skinny (there's a pun there when you realize I've lost over 25 pounds). I'm still sick. Pretty sick. I have good days and bad days. Good days I can get through the day pretty well, my only problem being this constant exhaustion from malnutrition. Bad days I can't do much. This week I've had...4 bad days, 1 good day. So not a great week. Yesterday I went to work all day and today I went half a day. Now I'm so-so. My spirits hover around wherever my physical well being is, when I feel bad I am pretty low. When I feel good it's like nothing can phase me. Also, I'm re-honing my skill of pretending to be ok when I'm not. I know it's not healthy emotionally or physically, but it's a natural instinct.
So here's the plan. I go back to the doctor for blood test and check up. I'm going to show the doctor some of the research I've done (I've diagnosed myself with gastroparesis) and try to convince them to do something. Monday if I'm still not satisfied with my doctor experiences then I am going to ask my boss to make a rush trip home to go to my own doctor. If and when that happens, I will decide from there whether or not I can continue this job. I just can't go on being sick like this.
So that being said, I will appreciate your support and encouragement. Right now I'm dealing with an overflow of advice, so unless you've been in this exact situation I would appreciate if you'd just hold onto it unless I ask. :) My friends and co-workers are blessings beyond measure. Your prayers, emails, encouragement and acts of kindness truly overwhelm me. You are the hands and feet of Christ! I love you all and will keep you updated.

Five Things I Miss from Childhood

Wow! I've been "tagged". This has never happened before, so I will assume that it is a great honor. Thanks JettyBetty! My topic is "5 Things I Miss from Childhood," which I think is a little tricky since I'm pretty sure I'm still a kid. But for simplicity's sake and the purpose of this blog, we'll assume that my "kid-dom" ended when I went to college. Alrighty, here goes!

5 Things I Miss from Childhood

  1. Stephenville, TX-- Stephenville was my hometown, and where I lived for 10 years of my growing up. Perhaps I remember it with rose colored lenses, but it was my Mayberry and I loved it. My best friends all lived in my neighborhood, the other side of town was 15 minutes away with traffic, and football was king. It was a great place. I haven't been there in 4 years. I'm almost scared to go because I know how much it's changed and I've changed and part of me wants to keep the illusion of my hometown alive.
  2. Creativity-- For someone completely lacking it in now, as a child I had real creativity. I would play for hours in my imaginary world, thinking up characters and adventures. I miss being able to lose myself in my own worlds like that.
  3. My little friends-- I was thick as theives with several little girls when I was a kid. There were Carrie and Erin (or "CarrieErin" as my dad would say) who lived two houses down from me, and my best friend Gina and her sister Mara who lived a couple of streets over. Carrie and Erin and I grew apart in high school, and Gina and Mara and I slowly drifted away over time, although we did exchange emails last year. I think our Mara may be going on to be a music star. She recently recorded a CD and it's even for sale at amazon. Keep an eye open for Bosque Brown. Also, I should give a shout out to my childhood homie Nina who I still talk to fairly frequently.
  4. Rolly Pollies-- Also known as "pill bugs" by the less educated, these were my favorite animal growing up. Since I never had formal pets, I made do with what I had. I would host rolly polly colonies. They're just so... CUTE! I'll tell you of a great tragedy that once occured, though. I often hosted my rolly polly empires in the bottom halves of cut up gallon milk jugs. One time as a had a group going it rained during the night. Uh oh... yes, there was a mass drowning. I think I effectively massacred half of the rolly polly population in our yard.
  5. High school football-- I vaugely referenced this earlier, but in Stephenville we had some ferocious school spirit. Football was king, and we were 4 time 4-A state football champions while I was associated with them (GO JACKETS!). I grew up going to football games Friday nights and in high school I was in the band, so I was always there. I loved the feeling of community and intensity and fun. Ask me about can-fans sometime. :) Somehow I managed to go to a college that didn't even have a football team. What is up with that?

Here's the tag part:
Remove the first person from the following list, bump everyone up one spot and put your name in the number 5 spot. Please link all of the blogs as they are linked now.

Journaling Through the Valley
Threefold Cord
Anne's Cafe
Run the Earth, Watch the Sky

I'm also supposed to tag 4 people, but I'm not sure four people read the blog so if you read this and want to play along, gambatte kudasai! Go for it!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day!

Today is the day to take time and honor those hardworking and faithful men in our lives. So to all you in blogland who have kids of your own or are influencing the lives of those around you.

So today I will pay special tribute to my dad, aka my most faithful blog reader. :) My father, one of the manliest men around, was blessed with two daughters. But he remained optimistic about the arrows in his quiver and was a great father to us. He taught us to drive and hunt and shoot a gun, ride a four wheeler and appreciate a good recliner. He has also encouraged me to be an independent thinker, even when that means that my conclusions are different from his own. But he seems to be handling that well. :)

I remember Father's Day two years ago quite well. I was in a hospital in Oklahoma City and my dad was having to work a lot of the time I was sick, so he was making fairly frequent 5 hour commutes between OKC and Texarkana. Well Father's Day was one of those days that he made the big drive, and I remember thinking how blessed I was to have a father who loved me enough to go through all the hassle just to get to me and spend a few days taking care of me. I'll never forget it.

So thank you, Dad, for everything. Happy Father's Day!

Molly, Dad, Ann-- Father's Day 2004

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Saturday, June 18, 2005

Good times and good friends

Last night I had the honor of going to dinner with two of the most dashing gentlemen I know. That's right-- I got to spend the whole evening with Peter-san and Blake-san. They were wonderful enough to come up to Hitachi for dinner and nice conversation. What a treat! Once again I was reminded of how blessed I am not only to have amazing friends, but to have several of them in Japan with me!

One of the greatest titles we can have is "old friend". We never appreciate how important old friends are until we are older. The problem is we need to start our old friendships when we are young. We then have to nurture and grow those friendships over our middle age when a busy life and changing geographies can cause us to neglect those friends. Today is the day to invest in those people we hope will call us 'old friend" in the years to come. --Grant Fairley

Blake, Peter, Ann

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Thursday, June 16, 2005

Voice of Truth

I've been feeling pretty dreary in body and mind the last few days. Satan is truly the master of lies, and once he gets a foothold he can wreak havok if left unchallenged. This song is always a great reminder to seek the voice of the shepherd among the crowds and listen to the voice of truth.

"Voice of Truth" performed by Casting Crowns

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
on to the crashing waves

To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He's holding out His hand

But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. "Boy, you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"

But the Voice of Truth tells me a different story
The Voice of Truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
And the Voice of Truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of strength it takes
to stand before a giant
With just a sling and a stone

Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors
Shaking in their armor
Wishing they'd have had the strength to stand

But the giant's calling out my name
And he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
Time and time again. "Boy you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"

But the Voice of Truth tells me a different story
The Voice of Truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
And the Voice of Truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth

But the stone was just the right size
To put the giant on the ground
And the waves they don't seem so high
On top of them lookin' down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
Singing over me

But the Voice of Truth tells me a different story
The Voice of Truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
And the Voice of Truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth

Monday, June 13, 2005

Great news! And okay news.

First I'd like to express my SHEER JOY that Chris Rice is coming out with a new album that will go on sale August 23!!!!!! You can hear clips of some songs here. It sounds great and I'm already so pumped about it. The great part is that on August 23 I will be at home visiting so I'll be able to get it ASAP! I am probably the only geek who is waiting at the doors for Mardel to open the day a Chris Rice CD is released. :) And did I mention that he has love songs on this CD? Chris Rice writing love songs now!?! Oh the anticipation!!!

Okay, rant over. Some people geek out over Star Wars, some over basketball, some over the Restoration Movement :) ... I like Chris Rice. And I'm not ashamed. :) Besides, I needed something to cheer me up.

My checkup today was alright, I guess. The good news is that my liver enzyme count went down to 75 (down 125 points for those counting) and my doctor was so pleased he said I don't have to have a blood test next week, but instead in two weeks. So that's good news. The not as good news is that I got wicked sick again this weekend, so I meant to interrogate my doctor about how long this enterocolitis is going to stay with me. To which he replied, (Ann doing her best Japanese doctor impersonation) "Hmm, I think your condition is caused by your previous surgery. So maybe your stomach condition is your friend" (emphasis put on the Japanesey parts). At the same time I felt disheartened and yet mildly angry at his cheeky response. So that being said, I don't know when I'll really feel better. I researched colitis on the internet and it can last a looong time apparently. My boss is still being great, but let's face it, they can't keep a dud ALT forever. So I'm going to work the best I can for as long as I can... we'll see. I'm going to school for half a day tomorrow, so keep me in your prayers as I try to re-enter normal society.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

A splash of color

Realizing that my blog has been rather serious and somewhat dreary (in my opinion at least) for some time, I thought I'd lighten things up with a picture blog. No, they really have no relevance other than I want to post them and they make me happy. So here goes!

This is Meredith, me, and Amber in Honduras last summer. I was going for my JLo gangta look. You'll notice that Amber and I are in opposing gangs. Too bad, really. :) But right now my dear Meriadoc is in Honduras again probably having all kinds of fun and hijinx with our dear Amba.

I have been missing this crazy bunch of people a lot lately. This is, more or less, the 2000 Honors class from OC. This photo was taken after our first semester of college. Although we were known at times to have sharp disagreements, we also ultimately came to love and respect each other in a special way. I love these people so much!

This is my oldest friend Nina. She's not old, she's my age, but she is my oldest friend in that we've been friends for 17 years (since first grade with Mrs. Hayes) and still keep in touch. Nina says that this is a testimony to the power of the internet (since we've lived far away for 7 years now). I agree. In the picture we are pointing to Stephenville, where we grew up.

"I'm so vain... I probably think this blog is about me..." But really, I just received a CD-ROM with a lot of pictures from my campaign to Brazil last summer and this was on there. I like this picture because I believe I was really, really happy when this was taken.

Last but not least, here is a shot from a Toga party we Hitachi-folk had right before I got sick. I normally wouldn't have dressed up, but what the heck. It was a fun experience.

So there ya have it! Hope this is mildly entertaining to some. If not, stick around maybe I'll tickle your fancy later.


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Thursday, June 09, 2005

No, that wasn't my stomach problem...

Imagine my surprise and the surprise of those who visited me in the hospital when they came and realized that my room was nestled in the heart of the maternity ward. Ah yes, the foreigner and the mommies. Sounds like a bad premise for a sitcom. Anyway I think it was a blessing in disguise, in that my nurses were exceptionally kind (from dealing with mommies and babies all day long) and I didn't have to worry about being near creepy old Japanese men. Also, I got to witnesses some precious moments when daddies and grandparents and "big" brothers and sisters got to meet the newest member of the family. Japanese tend to be rather stoic when it comes to their families, so it was great to see those moments of pure joy on everyone's faces.
There were some downsides to my locale, the biggest being the noises. I was in the room closest to the delivery room... yeah just think about that for a moment. Let's just say that I said some prayers for some women who sounded like they needed them. Also I was very close to the nursery. Most babies are kept in the nursery for the first two days (the average stay of mother and child is 5-7 days), so I heard my share of crying babies. The poor things probably just wanted their mommies.
So there's another facet to my stay in the hospital.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

How much do you really want to know?

Over the next few days while I'm at home resting I will try to bring to you some of the more interesting moments I had during my 12 day hospital stint. Here is one such story.

On the first day, since it was my first time at this hospital there were several forms for me to fill out. The secretary of the Board of Education, the aforementioned Ishii-san, was with me to help me.

We got to the last question on one sheet and Ishii-san paused and said, "Hmm, this is a difficult question." I urged her to go on and she said, "Okay, if you have cancer, you have four choices. First, you can be told the truth and your family will be told the truth. Second, you can be told the truth and your family will not be told the truth. Third, you will not be told the truth and your family will be told the truth. Fourth, you will not be told the truth and your family will not be told the truth."

Strange, huh? Well I decided to go with the first option, telling everyone the truth. Maybe it's a cultural thing, but I cannot understand options 3 or 4. Personally I would never do option 2 either, but I find it more understandable.

My friends that I've told this story to seem to get a kick out of it. Hope you do, too. More to come.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Good news all-

I busted out of the hospital today. Haha, that makes it sound like I left forcibly, but actually they let me go. So this experience and one of the books I read in the hospital have encouraged me to get serious about and step up my prayer life, so last night I prayed for two miracles-- one was that they would be able to get my bloodwork done on one try (which hadn't happened in the 6 prior blood works I'd had since this began) and that my liver enzyme levels will have gone down drastically. And the Lord answered those prayers! My favorite nurse was the one to do my bloodwork and she hit it on the first try, and then my results came back saying that my enzyme levels had dropped 100 points! (30 was the goal) So I am pretty happy. Of course it's going to be challenging to get back into normal life again and rebuild my strength, but I've been down before and with God and my friends, I can do anything I think.

I can't thank you all enough for all the prayers, visits, gifts, and well wishes.

I'll tell you some of the funny stories that happened later. Now I have got to get my tired bones to bed.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

"I'm not dead yet... I'm Getting Better!"

Dear Blog-mmunity-
Greetings from Hitachi's best and brightest - Nisei hospital. My friend Judith is taking my written statement and posting it to the blog for me. Very kind of her. So no, I haven't gone and abandoned the blog. The day after my last post I went to the doctor and they admitted me to the hospital that afternoon for IV treatment. Long story short, despite some initial scares I was diagnosed with intercolitis, which is a viral infection of the intestine. The treatment was IV feeding and rest for several days. I guess I started feeling pretty good about Monday and figured I'd go home Tuesday. BUT... my blood tests revealed that the enzyme count in my liver was way high so I've been being held hostage since then while they try to diagnose the problem. At this point I'm frustrated and just want to go home. I feel alright, just a little tired and weak. My friends here have been great and taken very good care of me.
So there's the scoop. If they don't release me soon (ie Monday at the latest), I am making a break for it. I'll call the embassy if I have to =) I'll fill you in on the details of this "adventure" when I am released. Just keep me in your prayers, onegaishimasu. And my family. I think they're worried. =)
Love you all -