My favorite singer

SO, it’s been a hot minute, right?
Only here for a minute to share some audio from my favorite of all singers…

Attaching an audio clip from my favorite singer, who also happens to be my beautifully gifted daughter. I’m not familiar with the original artist, Dermot Kennedy. The song is called After Rain. She’s playing on a $200 Ovation guitar we gave her several years back. Though she has other newer, nicer guitars, her Ovation seems to be her favorite. Enjoy Hollyann’s version ❤️

Hollyann After Rain



This episode of Dawn’s Sh*tshow life brought to you by the letter “S”

Hi Friends,

Warning: this is a LONG post. Got lots to say. 

I haven’t been AS active on social media as I typically am because I’ve spent the last week or so recovering from a concussion.   I am fine now, but feel the need to explain why/how it happened to my friends and loved ones so that it does not happen to those I care about.  It is both an embarrassing, yet eye opening experience for me and feel I need to share.  I live my life pretty transparently.  I am pretty much an open book.

All my unfortunate or funny stories about my life typically start with: “So there I was, minding my own business…”  And I was!  Teresa (my sister) and I have recently decided that my life could easily be a sit-com and we’ve nicknamed my episodes “Dawn’s Shitshow Life.” This episode is brought to you by the letter “S”

Friday the 12th, I traveled to Charlotte with my sister and nephew and stayed the night.  They had tickets to a basketball game and planned to pick up their new puppy the following morning.  I was happy to tag along because I have friends that live in Charlotte, and planned to have dinner with them Friday night.

While Teresa and Robbie went to the game, I met my friends Heather and Mindy for dinner.  (BTW- Nellie’s Southern Kitchen in the Belmont area of Charlotte is FANTASTIC!)

While at Nellie’s, I had a great (keto-friendly) meal, and had wine with my dinner.  I had 4 glasses of wine – sounds like a lot but they were small pours…maybe 4-5 oz each.  And if you know me at all, you know I love wine.  And over the course of 2-2.5 hours I was at dinner, that’s not a huge amount.

Mindy took me back to my hotel about 10-10:30.  I was in bed by 11.

At 3:30 I woke up to go to the restroom.  That’s when the world went black-literally.

While in the bathroom, I stood up and immediately fell to the ground.  I don’t remember actually falling, but remember waking up on the cold floor, shivering, with my back to the bathtub and my face toward the toilet.  I got up, reached for the door, and immediately fell again.  Teresa asked from the other side of the door if I was alright, because she’d heard the commotion both times I fell.  I answered with no urgency that I was fine.  I didn’t feel badly…Did I think it was odd that I passed out?  Yep.  But I couldn’t verbally tell her.  I walked to the bed and this time she SAW me fall.  It’s as if my legs just gave out from under me.  Down I went again, hitting the furniture on the way down.  “DAWN MARIE!!! ARE YOU ALRIGHT?” The urgency in her voice was bone chilling.    AGAIN- I said that I was fine, and why was she asking?  She explained that I’d fallen.  I asked ….”Teresa, Am I on the floor again?” Indeed I was.

I am going to tell you that I’ve witnessed scary shit happen to other people- but this is the most bizarre thing to ever happen to ME.  I felt weird.  I had a terrible headache and was kind of confused.  Because I suffered a head injury as an infant, because I suffered a concussion as a teenager, and because my husband had a concussion last year, I am very sensitive for anyone having head trauma. Teresa took me to the ER, which is the first time I’d ever heard the word “Syncope.” Syncope x 3 was what the ER personnel told the ER nurse as she wheeled me back to triage.  Hell if I knew what syncope was, but I was fixin’ to learn all about it.

Definition of syncope :1 : loss of consciousness resulting from insufficient blood flow to the brain : faint

I go through the events of the prior evening with the nurse and the ER doctor.  From triage, they do a chest scan and take lots of blood for testing.  On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst pain, I rated the headache about a 5.  I had an EKG and a CT Scan of my head.  The 30 minutes between the CT and the doctor coming to see me felt like HOURS.  I just KNEW by the pain I was in that he was gonna tell me I had cracked my head open…had a tumor, aneurism…somethin’ bad about to happen!  I just knew it.

Fortunately, I did not have ANY of those.  Just a concussion.  However, the ER doctor had some private questions for me and asked my sister and nephew to leave the room.  We all thought that was odd.  ER doctor listens to my heart, asks how I am feeling and asks if I have anything additional to tell him about the events the prior night.  I give him an odd look and sheepishly answer “no.”  He asked if I take Adderall or any other amphetamine. I answer NO.  He asks if perhaps I did street drugs last night?  I answered HELL NO?! He explained that I tested positive for amphetamines. 


I only take one prescription and have been taking it for years.  I did however, start taking a weight loss supplement about 2.5 weeks prior.  I show him what it is – nothing in it screams bad contents.  He explains that I was dehydrated and was a little low on potassium.  Our care plan is to give me some fluids via IV and some potassium.  They want to keep me for observation and have an echocardiogram.  By this time, I sent my sister and Robbie to pick up their puppy. Jason and Haley will come and stay with me and take me home Sunday.  When they arrived, I sweet talked the nurse into letting me go home with them Saturday afternoon if I promise to be a good girl and get an echo Monday.  They agreed that I was out of immediate danger and let me go.

We left there thinking my body just had created the perfect little shit storm: already dehydrated+ stimulant in the supplement+ tannins in the wine= syncope.  That was the diagnosis.  But I wasn’t buying it.  I have fainted in the past.  I have had bottles of wine in the past and never lost consciousness. I suspected something different happened.

What I failed to mention to the doctor didn’t seem important at the time.  But it turned out to be VERY important.  From the time Mindy dropped me off at the hotel to the time I met up with my sister and nephew, I was alone in the hotel’s street-level bar for about 15-20 minutes.  It was warm that day, so the side doors were open.  It was Uptown Charlotte on a Friday night, so it was really busy. I ordered a beer and saw the bartender open it. BUT- I turned my back to the bar to watch the band that was playing.  My back was turned to the beer, the side doors.  LOTS of foot traffic around me.  Rarely am I ever in a bar alone.  I did not practice good self-defense., as I was looking at my phone, looking at the band and drank about half the beer.

I met my sister and Robbie in the bar entrance and was fine.  How do you go from walking, talking, and functioning at 10-11pm to losing consciousness 3 times just hours later? My answer is that I think someone put something in my drink. I didn’t really think about it until the next day when I mentioned it to my sister, and then to my husband.  He thought there was no way it was possible.  But my sister, like me- suspected that it happened because she SAW the state I was in.  Imagine walking into an invisible wall and just falling with all of your body weight to the ground.

My back is covered with black and blue bruises from mid-section to my tailbone.  My neck felt like invisible hands were wrapped around me, as if to strangle me.  My head hurt all last week from the impact.  The confusion lasted for a couple of days.  And any screen time, whether it was from my computer or phone, seemed to make the headache return.  I couldn’t read spreadsheets.  I couldn’t bear to watch TV.  All I could do was sleep and do minor things in my house. No driving, either.

I should also mention that when I returned home, I visited my family doctor.  I showed her the packaging of the supplement I was taking. She also agreed that most of the ingredients were plant based. There were some natural stimulants, but nothing in it screamed to her that it was bad. So 2 doctors agreed that the supplement was not likely the culprit, and my dehydration levels were not SO low that they should have knocked me on my behind. Let’s say your dehydration levels are 1-5.  Mine was a 3.7.  Not terrible.

SO- the moral of this episode of Dawn’s Shitshow Life is:

  • Don’t take supplements that your doctor doesn’t know about- JUST in case they are bad for you. Why was I taking them to being with, you may ask…especially since I have had weight loss surgery?  Because GUILT! Guilt of gaining 25 pounds since last March is such a heavy burden.  I had a “Come to Jesus” talk with myself while in the ER.  Weight Loss Surgery is the pinnacle of choices when it comes to weight loss.  I made that choice and PAID for that choice out of pocket.  My husband tells me to stop letting the guilt get to me and who cares about the money?  The money is not important.  My health is important.  I often say I  have reasons for the gain.  But they are often excuses.  I keep 3 humans in my home alive each day.  And I am not exaggerating when I say sometimes that is a real chore.  A type 1 diabetic who is lazy about checking her sugars, a stroke patient who is still finding his way back to good health…and me…a WLS patient who needs to remember rules instead of breaking them!
  • Drink all the water! I already drink at least 80oz of water a day. But when I am doing low carb, I require more water.  And if I am having any kind of wine or beer, I now order a water to go with it.  So what if I spend more time in the restroom!  And I am not taking that supplement anymore.  And I will never take another one.  I promised Jason I would not go back to a low carb diet until after my physical/ blood work comes back.
  • BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS IN A BAR!  Bar, restaurant, wherever beverages are being served. Especially if you are a woman and especially if you are alone!  If this can happen to a 49 year old woman, it can happen to ANYONE!  Did you know Charlotte is the human trafficking capital in North Carolina?  What if my sister hadn’t come to meet me at the bar and walk back to my room with me?  The “what if’s” haunt me each time I lay my head down at night.  I keep repeating the events in my head. The waking up after each fall is startling to me.  I hate that I am so naive sometimes.  I am so trusting.  Now, when I go out with my husband, or even to lunch/dinner with friends, I find myself studying the room.  I take my drink, even if it is water, with me. Or I will ask my friend to keep their eyes on it while I am in the restroom.  I hate this distrust that I all of a sudden feel. 

Please use my experience to help you going forward.  I am lucky I didn’t really hurt myself.  I am really lucky my sister was with me and was able to help me.  While we waited for the results of that CT scan last Saturday morning, I prayed those big prayers.  Like the one I prayed when Haley was in the hospital with her T1D diagnosis.  The one where I prayed with all my might for my mother to fight breast cancer- and she did.  And the one where I got down on my knees in a dirty hospital floor and begged Jesus to help my husband recover from his stroke…and again, my prayers were answered.  I prayed Saturday to please let it not be anything serious.  And it wasn’t.  I feel incredibly blessed for His mercies.  And if you’re reading, I feel blessed to have your attention on this post so that this does not happen to YOU.

Feeling especially blessed and in God’s favor,


Little bit of life update

WOW! I haven’t written since last APRIL?   Nine months of nothing written.  But you know me, between then and now, I’ve got plenty to say…I just haven’t had the time to write it down.  We are currently “snowed in” here in the Raleigh area with a whopping 2 inches of snow.  That’s right, friends…2 inches of snow can turn a bustling town into a ghost town, especially when the town is small and live outside the city limits.  Snow plows don’t come out our way all that often.  Classes in our local schools and universities were closed today and will be tomorrow.  So for now, we are just going to enjoy the winter weather, which will be gone in a couple of days.

Since last April, so much has happened! Lots of good, good things. And lots of things that are not bad, but not the best, either.

First- my husband, Jason is doing very well! I use words like “amazing” and “remarkable” because those are words that come to mind easily when I describe his progress from the debilitating stroke he suffered over a year ago.  Though he’s fairly independent with many things, and for the most part, he is healthy- we have some struggles, still.

Last April when I wrote, I mentioned he was back to work on a therapeutic level.  At the time, it was important for him to return to an environment he used to function in on a daily basis to help him remember his former life and responsibilities.  He’d go 2-3 times a week to hang around and re-acclimate himself with his team, his office, customers, tasks, things like that.  It was going well until about the first week of May.  We’d gone out to an early movie at a shopping center nearby.  During our walk from the car to the theater, Jason unfortunately got tripped up in one of those outdoor rubber mats outside of a restaurant and did a full on face plant into the sidewalk.  His right side was affected by the stroke, and to date, he still walks with kind of a lag, or lazy leg on that side.  That foot got tangled up in the outdoor mat and he took a dive and hit his head.  Messed up his brand new glasses, scuffed up his nose and forehead and blood spilled everywhere.  He hit his forehead directly on the sidewalk.  And of course, I begged to take him to the E/R and of course, he refused.  He didn’t feel dizzy and wasn’t in pain.  And I monitored him periodically that night for fear that he had a concussion.  I’d wake him every couple of hours to make sure he could still communicate with me, and he could.  During the following days, he still was trucking along like usual.  But then we noticed changes in his demeanor and his level of effort.  All of a sudden, it was like the light we had happily seen return in his eyes was diminishing.  He could no longer sleep well.  He was fatigued, irritated and in a kind of fog for weeks.  That lasted until about July.  We had all kinds of tests run from bloodwork to a sleep study.  The CAT scan showed no injury to the brain, but to date, we still think he suffered a concussion and it just took time to heal itself.  July and August brought us back to him flourishing once more.  But those months from May to July were not fun ones.  He was really down and I kept wondering how to motivate him without pushing too hard.  Eventually he found his balance and started working again. Coincidentally, during   this time, we had a freak thing happen with his pacemaker.  He’d been using his weed eater in our back yard and got overheated.  His pacemaker shocked him 3 times within about 5 minutes.  We thought for sure he’d had a full blown heart attack.  After another trip to the ER, we learned that we needed a bit of tweaking to his ICD to increase the  beats per minute threshold.  The meds he’d been taking make his heart beat too fast.  It was a fluke thing and was fixed almost immediately, but damn, what a scary event to happen as he was still healing from the fall.

Over the summer, he continued to resume his former life.  And to date, he is at work most days.  Sometimes I think he wanted to go so often to get away from our house:)  We spent A LOT of time together.  A LOT.  LOL.  He needed to see his co-workers and be outside of the confines of 5745 Stone Crystal:)   We started resuming fun things, too…like visiting our favorite restaurants and breweries.  I have often said that we have spent the last several months celebrating Jason’s return to good health while I sabotage my own. The last time I wrote, I hadn’t really gained a lot of weight, but I hadn’t put in much effort to lose, either.

By the time Jason returned home in February, I was doing really well with my diet. But once the running around from appointment to appointment stopped and my body was no longer in crisis mode, it’s like a night and day flip of a switch.  And not a good one.  Of the 60 pounds I’d managed to lose, I have gained about 25 back because I am eating and drinking all my feelings.  My life has been a big ball of stress for a year now.  That is a valid reason.  It’s not really an excuse, but it’s really no reason for me to abandon my previous path to wellness, either.  So, friends…I sit here tonight talking to y’all while resuming watching my carb intake and trying to force myself to exercise again.  I’d be a big liar if I said I want to eat right and exercise.  What I really want is an endless supply of margaritas and loaded nachos.  But in reality, I need some water with Crystal Light and some celery:)  A couple of friends of mine who had WLS in the past told me that once they started resuming drinking beer, that is when their weight gain started.  At the time I didn’t drink beer.  But over the last few months, I’d experiment with one light beer, then another time a heavier beer and more frequently.  Please- if you are reading this and you have had bariatric surgery- let me tell you – DO NOT be so naive to think you cannot gain  weight back simply because your stomach can’t hold as much.  I am living proof that it can happen the MINUTE you let your guard down.  Once your guard is down, it keeps sinking lower.  It’s harder to raise yourself back up and make good food choices again!  

I seem to do better with exercise if I have something to train for, and I do.  On March 18th, I am going to do the Tobacco Road Half Marathon.  Again.  I did it in 2013 and had intended to do it in 2014 but had Achilles surgery that year and couldn’t do it.  I had actually registered to do it last year, but couldn’t because of Jason’s stroke and recovery.  This particular race is important to me because #JDRF is one of the benefactors of the race, and as y’all know, my teenage daughter is a type 1 diabetic.  I also have a T1D cousin.  The money raised for this goes to research.  My kid needs a cure. If you’d like to read about the special TID’s in my life, you can visit here:

I started my training last week and will continue as much as possible.  I don’t love to run, and will likely have to walk/jog a good part of the race.  But it feels good to return to exercise and quite frankly, it’s something I can do and clear my head for a while. I’ve been running around like a crazy woman for a year and finally, life is slowing down in some ways.  I am thankful for the change.  Honestly, I am thankful that Jason has recovered so much that he feels confident in spending a little bit of time without me.

These last few months have been filled with pure joy with huge highsBut also filled with valleys of debilitating depression.  I don’t want to dwell on those “down” moments too much, but I have never been reminded more of God’s love for me or my family than I have this past year.  The power of prayer and that my family has received has been so overwhelming.  Even during the depressive episodes that seemed to last from moments to weeks at a time, I always knew there was hope for Jason and for myself.

I have a new appreciation for caregivers.  Lord Jesus…the patience one must have.  The worry that we aren’t doing a good job with our patient, or at our “real” jobs.  Because while I was away being Caregiver, someone on my team had to fill in for me. The worry that all the attention we give to our patient diverts the attention we used to give to our kids, or ourselves.  The worry that we aren’t doing enough.  And also, trying to motivate without seeming pushy.  I’d try to urge Jason to write with his affected hand, or do a word search puzzle for activity.  Read aloud to me, and let me read to him.  Digging our heels in and saying NO when it’s needed.  Listening to their frustrations but also enjoying their victories.  Guilt in knowing you need some “me” time, but there’s really no time for that! Learning to communicate all over again was exhilarating and heartbreaking at the same time. At times Jason would say things that he didn’t mean to say.  I would find them hurtful and intentionally said.  But I’d learn quickly that aphasia is still very much a thing, and just because he says something does not mean I should take it the way it sounds.  He still gets words turned around.  His vocabulary is great and most of the time what he says makes perfect sense.  But I also find that he has no filter:) And that is not a bad thing.  What comes up just seems to come out in whatever way he feels at the time.

Since I wrote last year, some great things happened with my daughters, too.   My oldest, who is 26, graduated from Culinary Schools with honors! She’s worked in the food industry since she was 15.  Hollyann has a passion for all things art and food is a passion for her.  She works in banquets and catering for a prominent country club nearby.  She works her little butt off!  She’s decided she’s found “the one” she wants to make a life with, too.  I am proud of her work ethic and desire to pursue her passion.

My youngest, Haley, graduated from high school last June.  Given the trying Senior year she had, her graduation was a huge milestone.  Though it was Jason who physically had the stroke, it was Haley who suffered the most, I think.  She spent a lot of time home.  Alone.  She struggled already with anxiety and depression prior to the stroke.  So when the stroke happened, the anxiety heightened and the depression became more severe.  It is fortunate and UNfortunate for me that I know how that felt.  Though our depression situation is individually different, the way we learn and heal from it has been similar.  Together, we’ve seen a wonderful therapist who is helping us through the dark times.  Our code word is “sunshine.”  We will often ask each other, “Is there any sunshine today?”  Sometimes our answers are “no”, ” partly cloudy” or ” it’s a sunny day” or sometimes we just give each other “the look” …like don’t even ask.  Thankfully there are more sunny days than there used to be.  I am proud of her diligence to find the sun.  She starts a 2 year college transfer program at a local community college this month.  While she figures out what she wants to do, she’s taking college classes at a slower pace so we don’t find ourselves overwhelmed and cause her anxiety to worsen. The older she gets, the more she reminds me of myself at that age.

Haley, Jason and I were able to join our ‘Framily” from West Virginia last September for our annual beachreunion!  We were so thrilled to go.  We stayed the entire week and enjoyed every minute of it.  It was Jason’s first time being on vacation since the stroke.  He jokingly said he’d been on a vacation from December to February while in the hospital.  I reminded him that was no vacation! He was working hard on his recovery during that time.  He deserved some time away that did not include any hospitals, doctor visits or talking about INR testing or co-pays:)  The group of friends we go with are true friends who’ve had my back prior to this- but long before this, as well.  (Shout out to my favorite mermaids! I love you girls!)

We enjoyed our Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, too!  Realizing that we spent Christmas and the New Year in ICU and then rehab last year made this year even more of a celebration.  I was glad to see 2017 go.  2018 brings more promise and hope for my family.  I have never been as thankful as I have been this last year.

So there you have it..I’m including a few pictures from the past year.  I can’t figure out why they are posting at the top of the post, as opposed to where I really want them.  But ain’t nobody got time to figure it out!

I hope you – whoever is reading this in my little corner of blogging  world, have a wonderful and healthy 2018.  Thank you for reading.  You are a blessing<3


Hugs all around!








Fuquay Traffic

I don’t know the creator/author of Fuquay Memes, but he/she and I simply MUST be friends!

Anonymous Adventures in Fuquay

Let me just start this blog off by saying I grew up in The Big ATL Atlanta suburbs. I understand traffic, I learned to drive in traffic, I ran my 1997 Honda Civic into the back of a big rig in traffic, and once I had to pee in a cooler because I was stuck in traffic for seven hours trying to make a 3.5 hour journey home AND I HAD NO OTHER OPTION, JUDGE ALL YOU WANT. 

The point is, traffic isn’t new to me. It’s not like I moved here from Erwin. For me to bitch about traffic, it’s really got to suck. Back in 1998 I got out of a parking lot full of stoners at Turner Field after a Dave Matthews Band concert, and EVEN THAT can’t compare to the dark feelings that come with trying to turn left out of the Fuquay post office.


View original post 694 more words


Good afternoon, y’all! It’s been a while… I’d start by apologizing for being a slacker about my blog, but if you’ve been reading these last few entries, you know that my life has been a wee bit overwhelming.  Let’s review😃

First and most importantly, my husband DID come home from rehab on February 4th! Just in time for our daughter’s 18th birthday! Haley received wonderful birthday gifts from her family, but the greatest was having her Daddy home to celebrate with us.  We did kind of a low key celebration. Jason and I took Haley and her BFF to the Cheesecake Factory. It’s kind of becoming a tradition since she chose the exact same thing last year. We celebrated her entrance into adulthood, and also celebrated Jason’s Independence Day!  He was in the rehab hospital from 12/23 to 2/4, (due to his stroke) and was in ICU at Duke for a week before that. Each day was filled with 3 different types of therapy. Five days a week. Jason went from almost complete paralysis on his right side to walking out of that hospital just weeks later!  His progress has been a miracle. That same weekend, he was able to enjoy watching the Super Bowl from the comfort of his couch, rather than a drab and dreary hospital!

Each week since then, he’s gained more and more mobility, confidence, and strength. We started going to outpatient therapy 3x per week in February and have recently cut it back to 2x a week. His physical strength is improving. He’s really focused on occupational and speech therapies now. He’s been back to work a couple of days a week, though not at his former position. He’s not ready for emails, conference calls and spreadsheets. But each day he goes, he reminds his brain of duties he’s done in the past.  I tend to think of it as reopening a path that once went a particular direction but got suddenly,closed off when he had the stroke. But he’s trying to find a new path to the same distinction.  It’s wonderful to witness, but it’s not without challenges.

Now that Jason  home, I’d estimate he’s about 95% physically independent. He needs help getting shoes and socks on most days.  Getting showered and dressing himself is an effort for him that takes about an hour from start to finish.  It’s an exhausting process for him.  His right arm, hand, leg and foot are all still swollen, which we are told is normal.  He experiences significant discomfort in the nerves in the shoulder and leg. It is often difficult for him to sleep. His right arm kind of has a mind of its own and kind of floats about at times.  But all in all, he continues to surprise and amaze us with his fantastic recovery.  We continue to work on his communication abilities, which suffer more than the physical abilities.  Jason speaks very clearly…it’s just his brain telling his mouth what to say.  Sometimes it comes out backwards.  Sometimes he needs more time to process what he wants to say.  But all the while, he remains positive about his speech therapy and looks forward to strengthening his verbal and written communication.

Update on my mom-  I requested prayers and again, they were answered.  The recurrence of breast cancer was caught in time and did not spread to her lymph nodes! I feel very blessed to have made the call for prayers and to have them answered.  Mom is well.  THANK YOU to anyone who thought of her and prayed for her!

With these issues and their progression, I still am surprised by all of the people who have been touched by Jason’s story…my mom’s, too.  I am asked each day about one or both of them.  “How can I help?”  “What do you need?” are all questions I receive on an every day basis.

Friends of Jason’s, as well as friends of mine have followed our “story” on Facebook, since that is where I tend to post most of my updates.   All of this support from so many places feels like it’s raining on us…rain makes things grow.  And Jason continues to grow healthier each day.  We are showered each day with prayer, love, and guidance.  It is hard to describe, to be honest.  It’s a comfort.  Kind of like the rain you hear from the comfort of your warm bed on a day when you don’t have to rise early.  More than a drizzle, but less than a storm…the kind of rain that makes it easier for us to drift back to sleep.  That’s how I’ve felt these last few months.  And I am happy for the rain.

But there’s another rain I am also feeling at times.  The kind that makes you dread getting out of bed on a Monday.  Rain on a Monday morning tends to make us rushed to get out of the house. We end up dropping our laptop bag in the driveway en route to the car…or spill our coffee on a newly ironed white blouse in order to avoid getting wet. It’s a hard rain and the windshield wipers can’t seem to swish back and forth fast enough to make things visible. Unfortunately, it’s been raining at my house.  A lot. Haley (my 18 year old) and I have a code for this type of feeling.  We both experience bouts of depression at times. We will ask the other “Is there any sunshine today?”.  It could be sunny outside, but we may not be feeling the sunshine.  That’s where the depression finds us.  Cloudy days.   75% of the time, we both feel pretty good! But there days where the clouds are heavy and we just need to let it rain. And then we hope the next morning is really sunny.

I am kinda known for sugar coating things- or have been known that way in the past.  I’d rather not say something at all if it’s gonna be ugly.  Or if it’s gonna hurt another.  I find a way to deliver bad news but with good news somehow.  But since this has all happened, I find that I have no time to sugar coat and just blurt out what needs to be said.  That’s a surprise to my inner peacekeeper.  I am not going to lie, y’all….Even with the blessings abound, this season in our life is difficult for us.  The constant running here and there to appointments each week can sometimes be overwhelming.  Jason goes to his office a couple of times a week for therapeutic reasons.  I work from home on most days, so my environment changes very little.  When/if he returns to work on a more regular basis, perhaps I too, will get out of the house and return to my office.   There are so many unanswered questions about Jason’s recovery and our future.  Insurance will only pay for so many occupational and speech therapies, and we’re more than halfway through, but we feel he’ll need more of them.  We’ll likely have to pay for them out of pocket.  We’ll find a way.  What if the pain he feels in his right shoulder never goes away?  There are nights it is so painful that he cannot sleep.  And not sleeping makes everything that is already running a muck even more complicated. It is hard for his brain to “Wake” some days.  And on those days, I feel the bad/Monday rain.  I find I pray a lot more.  We didn’t get through this ordeal to not celebrate and thank the Lord for his Mercy and Grace. It seems every “little” thing is not so little to me or unimportant. Personally, my eyesight is terrible…but this life I live lately- is like seeing things with new eyes. As if our lives together have much more color and vibrancy  than before.

Thankfully,  most days, I feel the good rain. Because PEOPLE are good and they seem to know when I need a good dousing of friendship. A couple of weeks ago, our very good friend Chuck arranged a party at Jason’s favorite brewery to celebrate his health and recovery.  There were a couple of hundred people there.  Not all of them were there for the party, but a good number of them were! Even some from Jason’s childhood, which was amazing to see! Chuck arranged for an awesome rockabilly band (The Rusted Rails!)  to play, and the weather was magnificent! I don’t think Jason realized how many lives he’s impacted over the years.  He is a laid-back, very quiet, kinda shy person.  I don’t think he envisioned his circle of friends to be as large as it really is.  To have all of those kind, giving people in one room, to celebrate his “homecoming” was an amazing experience that neither of us will forget.  Whether you were there in spirit, or there in person, THANK YOU for your thoughts and well wishes.

Now I am just rambling, so I probably need to wrap this up.  Last thing- some have asked about how my weight loss journey is going now that I’ve surpassed the first year after weight loss surgery (VSG). I wish I could tell you I’ve progressed more, but I have not.  I find it is hard to care for yourself when someone you love needs a different kind of care- a more valid, more prolific care.  I’ve not given up, but have not been exercising enough and making “pour”  habits.  (See what I did there?!) Now that Jason can enjoy a beer here and there without it messing up his INR checks, I find that I will enjoy a glass of wine with him.  Wine is not out of the question after VSG, but for months I didn’t really indulge that often.  We’re not talking “she has a problem” indulgence, but more so a “maybe you should go to the gym more even though you pass 2 breweries and 2 taverns along the way.” LOL. I am still stuck around 165-170.  My goal was/is 145-150.  I am out of plus-sized clothing and have been for some time now.  The best lifestyle for me is a ketogenic diet, which is very low carb/high fat….but I fall off the wagon too often to say I am following any diet except the see-food diet. And I know it’s partially because of my time constraints and sometimes depression.  But I also know when the time is right for me, I will pick it back up and hit the goal. I mean…if only 20 pounds separates me from my life long goal, it would be silly for me to stop!

There you have it, folks.  After reading all of that, you likely think I am a little loco.  And I don’t mind it because life is loco for me right now.  But I’d take a little crazy over the alternative any day of the week.

Thanks for stopping by to read.  We are incredibly blessed and have never been more certain of how GOOD our GOD IS.

Love Much,


Bread and Water

Hi:) I know I owe an update here on my family…and I have another post I have tried to write, re-write and write again to capture ALL. THE. THINGS.  (My mom is fine, thank the good Lord!) My husband continues to progress (Thank the good Lord again!) and I gave in on that DIY floor project and hired somebody to lay laminate prior to Jason’s homecoming:)  There.  That’s the update:)

It’s probably pretty clear to anyone who’s been reading these last few months, or even years, that some of my blog posts are related to song titles.  This one is no different. Bread and Water is an old song written and sung by Gary Morris.  If you knew me in  high school, you know I was (still am) a huge Gary Morris fan and went to see him in concert many, many times throughout the WV/OH, VA/NC states from 1985-ish to the early 1990’s.  My mom even let me out of school early once while I was in high school so I could go stake my claim in line at the NC State Fair where he was performing.  I owned every cassette he ever released.  (Cassette, people!LOL).  I wanted so badly to learn to play this on my guitar back then, but it is a tricky song, full of chords I didn’t know and was too busy with boyfriend/school/work/life to teach myself.  Then I became a sorta-kinda adult and definitely had no time to learn.  Bread and Water was a song I always loved and pretty much figured I’d find that someone in my life for whom I’d be willing to give up bread and water.

I did meet him.  And then I married him.  We’ve been married for 20 years.  That’s a very long time and is not typical for these times we live in, so I am thankful.  I am thankful that we didn’t give up when I know there were times each of us may have wanted to.  I am glad we decided that through all of the trials of raising kids, and growing up ourselves, that we decided we were worth it. And I am more than happy to say that we are still evolving as a married couple and realizing what’s important and what isn’t.  Nothing seals the deal like your spouse having a near death experience, leaving you to learn what matters in this life.  It’s not money.  It’s not possessions.  We live in a 1150 square foot house that was intended to be our “starter” house.  But 20 years later, we are still here.  A bigger house does not equate to happiness.  When Jason was in rehab to recover from his stroke, these tiny 1150 square feet of house felt like a huge, empty shell of a building and not a home at all. Having a loved one threatened by an illness, injury, disease, etc…presents obstacles I never thought I’d address in my late 40’s.  Needing to get affairs in order for Power of Attorney to make medical and financial decisions. Inquiring about burial plots for the two of us seems extremely strange, though I don’t want my daughters to have to decide.  Forgoing expensive outings or things so that we can save up for co-pays and things insurance doesn’t cover….saving for the “what-ifs” because they very well can happen.  The WHAT IF?  Did happen.  And we are blessed to  tell it and have to re-calibrate things in our lives.

Truth is, I’d give up damn near anything to keep him healthy. (My daughters, too.) Because the house is not important.  The life and memories inside it are important. I am so thankful to God’s mercies for us to celebrate our 20 years together and for all the additional years we enjoy together.  Our vehicles… (my beloved Jeep!)…the “stuff” we deem important…the luxuries we have in our daily lives…we don’t need any of them.

We just need each other…shelter of some form…and bread and water to live.

Sooooo- though the video is ancient (from 1991) if you really listen to the words of the song, it pretty much sums it all up.  I used to get teary-eyed listening to this in my teens and early 20’s, presumably because I longed to feel this way.  And I still get teary-eyed now because I have been blessed to have felt this way for 20 years.  And even though the stroke situation completely sucked, it made me realize what matters.  The man upstairs with the Good Book, Jason, me, our kids…and bread and water.

Take my pride, take my dignity, last of all take my memories
With what’s left of me I’d say…
with my final breath I’d pray

For bread and water and you.And I’d tell you what I’d do, I’d give it all and more it’s true
Even bread and water for you…


Seldom do I get to tell you
this moment always slips away
Lock the door cause it’s time to
turn the lights down and listen to what I say.

I’m gonna tell you what you
mean to me and when
I’m done I hope you’ll see.

That they can take the romance from a lovers moon
Take the warmth from a sunrise in June, take a melody
Yet take that tune and I’d still get by
Take the magic from children’s hearts take the sounds
Of laughter just leave me bread and water and you.

They can put me out on the street take my money
Take the shoes off my feet, place my head on a rock
Lay me down to sleep and I’d still get by
Take the shirt off my back if they want
Leave me naked and cold if they must
But don’t take my bread and water or you.

I’d give my hopes and I’d give my dreams
If they’d have to have it all
there’s just three things I need.

Take my pride, take my dignity, last of all take my memories
With what’s left of me I’d say with my final breath I’d pray
For bread and water and you.

And I’d tell you what I’d do, I’d give it all and more it’s true
Even bread and water for you…

As if my life were not crazy enough already…

I am embarking on a DIY project.  If you are not already aware, I am the very LAST person one would expect to be starting such a journey.  There is not one artsy-fartsy, tool-savy, project-patient bone in my body.  But YA’LL…my husband in rehab )recovering following a stroke) comes home in about five weeks and I want to makeover our bedroom.  Yes.  ME. While working full time, while mothering full time, while burning up the highway between home and rehab.  C-R-A-Z-Y!

Why, you ask?  Welp…before the stroke, Jason and I had been talking about updating our bedroom.  We have lived in our house for 20 years this May.  We have made other improvements to other rooms in the house but our room has  never been updated.  We still have nasty, disgusting once-was-beige-but-now-is-poop-colored-brown carpet.  Same carpet that babies have puked on and puppies have peed/pooped on. We’ve cleaned the bedroom carpet several times each year that we’ve lived here.  It is no longer cleanable or salvageable.

With Jason coming home in a few weeks, he is going to have a walker.  A walker is easier to use on flat surfaces.  Our room is the only room that has carpet.  New flooring will make it easier for Jason to be mobile, so of course, it HAS TO GO!

Before the new flooring can come, I need to get our furniture out of there.  And then rip up carpet.  Then paint. Then do the flooring.  I am going to do the paper flooring.  If you’ve never heard of it, google Paper Bag Flooring.  It’s actually craft/contractor paper, stain, glue and polyurethane. It’s a fraction of the cost of laminate or hardwoods.  It just takes a lot of time.  I am hoping to take a few days off work while I do this.  My friend Christine has offered to help me paint:) And I am sure I will need to enlist in the help of my DIY extraordinaire friend, Beverly, to help me with the flooring.  Or at least come down to my house and tell me if she thinks it looks like crap or not:)

SOOOO!  Today I am starting to take out the drawers of the dressers and take them to the garage.  I made a pile of clothes that will stay in the house with me, what’s going to Good Will, and what’s seasonal and can live in the garage.

OH! And I am doing this without Jason knowing!!! I want him to be surprised! So if you’re reading and are friends with him, don’t tell him! SHHHHH! 

I will try to take pictures along the way:) Wish me luck.  I am gonna need it! My man’s coming home in a few weeks and I want him to have something MORE to look forward to ❤

Choosing Joy, even though I am tired as hell,


I come to the well…

When I think of going to a well, I view a place of peace and healing.  A deep body of water full of spirituality and hope.  I draw strength from pulling up the bucket from the well and cupping its healing waters in my hands and splashing it on my  face, or even taking a drink from the well water to rejuvenate and energize my body and soul.  I also see the well as a place where prayers float, and at times, we have to also cup them in our hands and secure those prayers close to our hearts for mending.

Last month, I came to the well for healing.

I posted on my Facebook page a request for prayers for my husband, who at the time, had a procedure on his heart called an Ablation.  It was to help cure ventricular tachycardia.  And as far as we know, the procedure, which is slightly risky, but also very common, was a success.  Jason’s chances of have VT again have decreased by as much as 80-90%.  That was the good news.  The bad news came in the form of a stroke he had during the surgery and/or in recovery.  Once he woke from the anesthesia, the Duke staff noticed that he couldn’t speak and wasn’t moving the right side of his body.  Within an hour of his ablation procedure being over, he was headed to get a CT scan of his brain, where 2 clots were spotted.  The Neurosciences team performed surgery on my husband and retrieved 2 clots from his brain.  There was a third clot in his left ventricle that is still there, but has decreased with the use of blood thinner Coumadin.  That clot will settle somewhere in his ventricle but *shouldn’t*  pose a threat since it has decreased in size.

I  found myself coming  to the “well”  for prayer and for guidance.  Don’t we all go searching when we need a wish or a prayer?

I closed my eyes, knelt on the ICU floor and prayed the biggest, hardest, most important prayer of my married life.  The next morning, I posted an urgent plea for prayers and so many of my beautiful friends and family answered my plea.  The same people added Jason (and me) to their personal prayer lists and those of their churches. This was happening all over the world! I We immediately felt the power of those prayers!

After a week at Duke (4 of those nights in ICU), Jason was moved to an acute rehab facility at WakeMed.  He was admitted on 12/23. We celebrated Christmas in the hospital.  We celebrated the New Year in the hospital and we were happy to be able to do it.  Any time spent with Jason was time well loved and well spent.

Now, three + weeks living in the rehab hospital, Jason is WOW-ing us with his progress! Jason went from having no movement on the right side of his body a month ago, to today being able to WALK a few steps on a treadmill!  He went from having the ability to say only 5-10 words to now being able to carry on a conversation.  He still has trouble finding the words.  He knows what he WANTS to say, but sometimes he has to search for the word and causes a delay.  It’s called Aphasia. Each day when I see him, it seems he has a new trick to show me.  It is really amazing to witness!

I have no doubt Jason is recovering because of his faith, perseverance, support of his family and friends, God’s love and ALL the prayers! All of this “good” is just overwhelming at times. To date, I have never felt more thankful or blessed.  I came to the well feeling broken.  I still visit the well at times for strength and hope for what lies ahead for my family. When Jason comes home, I’ll be his caregiver until the next chapter in his recovery.  I draw whatever strength I have in me now from that well.  The well is full of the prayers and love sent from close friends and also complete strangers.

Unfortunately, I am coming to the well once more for a different reason, although just as urgent and important.  And I feel guilty for asking for more prayers because I feel I used up my biggest prayer for my husband’s healing.  I know there is no prayer too small or too big to ask of Jesus.  I had a huge prayer last month and I have a big one now.It’s for my sweet Mama.

She came by Monday night. I should have known by the time of evening it was when my she  visited that something was wrong. She is often in her jammies by 7pm so for her to visit after 8pm was odd.  I had just gotten back home from seeing Jason, which is often my new normal schedule.  She needed to tell me something really important and the only way to tell me was to sit me down in person at a time when I could actually SIT down.

With tears in her eyes,  she apologized for having to “burden” me with another issue- and let me know that after 30 something years of remission, her breast cancer had returned.

If that wasn’t enough, she had known for a couple of weeks before she could pin me down long enough to tell me. My sister, Teresa, is also a busy mother, as she often works as a volunteer to support her son’s marching band.  Her weekends are filled with volunteering so that she can help pay for the band dues each year.  Rarely does she have free time, so Mama had to deliver this to my sister on the phone- so there was no chance of a hug in person for them to console one another.

Together, they  had planned to tell me because they figured I wouldn’t flip my shit. (sorry!) But they didn’t get the opportunity because that particular day I was a hot mess consumed with a busy work day, an upcoming snowstorm, trying to visit Jason before evening and get myself home to be with Haley so she would be safe from the storm.  It was not a good day and they didn’t want to add to the lunacy of it.

So at that point, my sister knew and was having to carry this burden without me. All because I was too wrapped up in my own life.  I was unapproachable. Too consumed with my new duties as caregiver and household duties that were once Jason’s, but now are mine.  I could have carved out some time…

I went from elation from visiting my husband Monday and once again witnessing his awesome progression to the sound of my sweet  Mama telling me that a routine mammogram turned into 3 more…and then later 2 sonograms.  She knew something was wrong and had to go through all the tests to confirm.

The guilt I feel for being unavailable for them is hard for me to deal with right now.  My sweet Mama has breast cancer again in her early 70’s. And my younger sister had to endure the pain of knowing without me.  Man, do I feel awful. Selfish. To say I am having a hard time with this is an understatement.  It kind of takes me back to the time Mom had breast cancer the first time when she was in her 40’s. I was a new mother to an infant and consumed with that. My sister was a typical teenager, consumed with crap teenagers do. My Mom and Dad were together, but Dad worked and was not a lot of help to her during the Chemo process.  Mom was in pain and was sick from Chemo.  She had a mastectomy. She couldn’t hold her sweet granddaughter. Her movement was limited.   She pretty much recovered from the hardest thing she had ever been through by herself.

But she will not be alone this time! She has a lumpectomy  scheduled in a couple of weeks. My sister and I plan to be with her for the procedure, and to care for her afterward.  We’ll be with her when she gets the results. Mom has already stated that if the Cancer has spread to her lymph nodes, she will consider radiation, but will not consider Chemo. Chemo in her 40’s was unbearable.  Chemo in her 70’s is just not an option.

So here I am at the well again…begging for more healing.  Please let it not be in the lymph nodes! Please let doctors heal Mom’s body and get that nasty cancer out of her! 

I can’t lose her.  My sister can’t lose her. We lost our dad too soon. I just can’t imagine her not being here to see Haley and Hollyann grow as women.  Or to watch the magnificent young man my nephew, Robbie will become.  The cancer has to go! She’s gotta be here to watch Jason regain his life because she prayed just as hard for him and for me.  She’s kept me going this past month and I need her strength to push me harder!  And she needs my new found strength to share with her during this season of her life. I just need more time to be a better daughter.  I need her so much.  And now, she needs her daughters.

If you’re reading and  don’t mind sending up a prayer for my Mom, I would appreciate it SO MUCH.  Her name is Linda.

If I can reciprocate in prayer for you or your family, please just say the word.  I am happy to do it.  As you might imagine, I am chatting with the Lord on an hourly basis these days. I’ll be glad to add you or your loved one to our chats.  And as many prayers I drew from the well, I will gladly refill for you.  For each of you who sent us prayers, a text, email, cards, letters,  who visited, sent flowers, gift baskets,  everything- THANK YOU for your kindness.  I am so grateful for your generosity!

Below is a link to one of my favorite Casting Crowns songs.  I hope you enjoy.

As always, thank you for reading.  You are a blessing.




The Well- by Casting Crowns

Leave it all behind.

Leave it all behind,

Leave it all behind.

I have what you need,

But you keep on searchin,

I’ve done all the work,

But you keep on workin,

When you’re runnin on empty,

And you can’t find the remedy,

Just come to the well.

You can spend your whole life,

Chasin what’s missing,

But that empty inside,

It just ain’t gonna listen.

When nothing can satisfy,

And the world leaves you high and dry,

Just come to the well


And all who thirst will thirst no more,

And all who search will find what their souls long for,

The world will try, but it can never fill,

So leave it all behind, and come to the well

So bring me your heart

No matter how broken,

Just come as you are,

When your last prayer is spoken,

Just rest in my arms a while,

You’ll feel the change my child,

When you come to the well


And all who thirst will thirst no more,

And all who search will find what their souls long for,

The world will try, but it can never fill,

So leave it all behind, and come to the well


Leave it all behind

The world will try, but it can never fill

Leave it all behind

And now that you’re full,

Of love beyond measure,

Your joy’s gonna flow,

Like a stream in the desert,

Soon all the world will see, living water is found in me,

Cuz you’ve come to the well


And all who thirst will thirst no more,

And all who search will find what their souls long for,

The world will try, but it can never fill,

So leave it all behind, and come to the well

Leave it all behind and come to the well

Leave it all behind, leave it all behind, leave it all behind



Almost 10 months after VSG

Hi❤️ 2017 is here! 

Most of 2016 didn’t suck. The last 2 weeks have been a challenge with my husband’s stroke. But the year held good things for me. #vsg surgery last March has helped me lose nearly 60 pounds. I’m a reallllllly slow loser already. Add in ” the change” of a woman’s life, plus the current stress of life with my Love in rehab post stroke, and you get a painfully slow metabolism and a scale that doesn’t move. I have to use pictures as encouragement. The jeans size progression here helps. I started this journey in a snug 22 (the jeans in top of pic). I’m currently in a 14 and hoping to be in the 12 (bottom of pic) by March 3, which is my one year surgiversary. Then what?! Who knows? Maybe. 10?!?!  After VSG,  most weight loss is within the first 12 months.  My clock is ticking. March 3 will be my one year.  With my current situation, I’m finding zero time for exercise but really need to find a way to build it in my day. I work from my home office each day until 3pm and then go to the hospital ( with my laptop and work until 5) to visit my husband until 7-8 each evening. Then I go home to do household stuff… Dinner/laundry/ feed animals and my teenager 😃

 I’m not looking for a specific size. I’m looking for how “healthy and strong”  looks and feels on me. The lowest weight ever on me happened in 2013 when I hit 160. I’m about 10-11 pounds from there now. I felt fearless, strong and confident. I’d like to know what 150 feels like on my 5’3″ frame. That’s “only” 20 pounds. I say only because unlike many VSG’ers, this journey as been slow going. I’ve been pulling slow numbers from the beginning. But I can do it! 

Wishing you a very happy, healthy 2017! 

 #bariatricbabe #verticalsleevegastrectomy

God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good…

Hello Friends.  It’s been a minute or two since I updated last.  I usually use this blog to update every month or two about my #VSG progress, or lack thereof…but this is a different kind of entry.  It’s pretty much a copy and paste of what’s happened in the life of my family over the course of the last 10 days.  In a nutshell, my 46 year old husband, Jason, went to Duke Medical Center in Durham, NC, for a fairly routine heart-related procedure called a ventricular tachycardia ablation.  It’s pretty much where a surgeon uses a laser to clear the scar tissue in the heart so that the electricity can flow freely again.  Jason has a 2 year history of “VT” or vertical tachycardia…AKA a very high heartbeat that will not slow down unless his pacemaker/defibrillator shocks it back into corrected rhythm.

Friday, December 16 we went in.  I posted this on my Facebook on the morning of December 17 @11:14 am after our first night in ICU:

Dear Family and Friends- I come to you with an urgent need for prayer for my family.
I debated on whether to put this situation on Facebook or not. It’s well known I am an over-sharer, but I am also an over-feeler and over-lover and teaching myself to reach for help when I need it and I have never needed it more. It has been hard for me to keep up with texts and emails, and informing people that want to know about Jason, so I am hoping this reaches all of the people that care about him. He will get mad at me for making a fuss and posting all this on facebook, but let him get mad.
My husband, Jason, is in the Neurosciences ICU at Duke. We came to Duke Friday at 6am for a normal, routine procedure called a ventricular tachycardia ablation. As you may remember, Jason had his first VT episode 2 years ago and has since had an ICD (pacemaker/defibrillator) put in his chest. When his heart rate gets too high, the pacemaker shocks his arrhythmia back into regular rhythm. The purpose of the ablation yesterday was to use laser technology to pinpoint the areas of the heart that were blocked by scarring. The good news is that the ablation procedure was a success and Jason did great throughout the surgery, which took about 4 hours.
The bad news is that he suffered a stroke during the process. An ultrasound taken 4 months ago did not show a blood clot that was in his heart. The ablation surgeon did not know there was a clot, and while he was doing the ablation, he provoked the clot and it went to his brain. After he came out of ablation surgery, we at first thought he was just over sedated and just really loopy, as expected because he needed a good deal of sedation for that surgery. It became clearly very quickly that he was not responding to commands, couldn’t speak, and had no use of the right side of his body. Within the hour of one procedure ending, a new one began. The Duke Neurosurgeon team did a CT scan that showed a clot in his brain and soon after did an angiogram to retrieve and remove the clot. They actually retrieved 2 clots, while one remains in his heart.
Due to the stroke, he has limited vocabulary and no use of his right side to date. BUT- since he came to the ICU yesterday, he has already made huge improvements. He knows he’s at Duke, knows his name, mine, his daughters, and our pets’ names. Even the damn cat he doesn’t care for much- Daphne. Yesterday he knew none of that. He can resume normal diet today, which is awesome since he’s not had anything to eat since Thursday night. Can say small sentences. Yesterday when our kids visited him for the first time in ICU, his eyes welled up with tears and he couldn’t speak. He was overwhelmed with emotion and frustration but at least it was a reaction to seeing them and it was both wonderful and heartbreaking at the same time. Baby steps. We’ll get there. Funny things that have happened since last night….he farted and giggled about it….when I kissed him on the lips, he kissed me back…and I said “Even after all that has happened, you’re still a good kisser!” He instantly said “YES I AM!” quite proudly! Keeps talking about Green Eggs and Ham….and potato chips. LOL.
He was in a lot of discomfort last night and was vocal about it. He could only say to me “GOOD GOD”. As if to say “Good, God, woman! Can’t you help me?!” He couldn’t communicate in words what he needed. He had to lie still for several hours due to the punctures in the groin area for the procedures, which makes his back ache. He’s got all kinds of tubes and cords coming off his body and it pisses him off. But all the while, he still gives me a smile and his ornery tell-tale wink to me. That’s when I know he’s ok.
It is hard to know what the future holds for Jason. We are told recovery is most important from now until the next 6 months. The progress that is made between now and then will be very telling. If I know my husband, he’s going to work like hell to resume a long, healthy life with our family. I am incredibly proud of how hard he has worked. Since I met him in 1995, he’s been my life. We are just 2 months shy of celebrating 20 years of marriage. We’ve had bumps in the road of life and this is just one of them. He’s been there for our daughters and me as our head of the family, provider our needs and wants, giver of hugs and kisses when they are needed, walker of sick babies in the middle of the night. Bank of Graham when little girls have a need. Proud Daddy of awesome daughters. And often the sole source of reason at times when I am unreasonable. But most of all, the keeper of the key to my heart. I can safely say that barring the death of my Daddy, yesterday was the second worst day of my life. I had a long chat with Jesus yesterday. Hospital floors are dirty and full of nasty germs, but I still got down on my knees in the ICU and asked for guidance. And if you ever wondered, even for a second if prayers are answered- the progress Jason has made in less than 24 hours is all the proof of an answered prayer. God is good, ya’ll!
We’ll be at Duke for the next week most likely. He will leave ICU tomorrow and then we’ll move to another room for the week, and then to rehab. Not sure where that will be just yet. But no matter where we are in this journey, he needs your prayers. Prayers for healing and recovery. Prayers that I know how to take care of him when we get home. Prayers for patience during pathology and physical therapy. Prayers for the medical staff who are helping him find his way back to us. Please, please, please keep him in your prayers.
Big thanks to my neighbors and friends who have helped with transportation for Haley and the care of our pets. And those who’ve been letting me send random texts and let me cry on your shoulder. Jason’s Mother, Brother and Father have all been to see him and are staying with us as much as they can. But if you can spare a few extra names on your prayer list, please add them to it. It’s hard to watch someone who was once vibrant, strong, and stubborn no longer be themselves even temporarily. Sending a shout out to both of our co-workers who have already started picking up our duties while we are on the road to recovery.
Thank you all so much! XOXO Dawn (Haley and Hollyann, too!)
Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future!”

Also December 17: 9:35pm:

I’ve often thought the best sounds were little girl giggles, melodies , harmonies, rain on a tin roof, or waves crashing into the ocean. They are all sweet… but today I declare the sound of my own name from my husband’s lips to be the sweetest of songs I’ll ever hear💛💗 been listening to him say it all day and never gets ol

December 18 10:33pm

Hi Family and Friends. Many have texted/called/emailed me and asked for a status. Hard to keep up with what I have told to whom, so I think this way is best. Again, sorry for over-sharing but it’s the only way I know.
We are still in ICU. Day 3. We are still here because Jason is getting an IV drip full of Heparin, which is a blood thinner. We need to achieve therapeutic levels, so we started with a small dose and keep increasing every 6 hours. We need these meds due to the clot still in his heart. But we get the meds in stages because we don’t want to have bleeding on/around the brain, either. I saw my first ever CT scan images last night with our nurse. She asked if I would like to see them so I could better understand his situation.
Seeing them was mostly a blessing, but kind of a bummer. These last few days have been filled with huge highs and lows. I feel euphoria at times when I see the progress Jason has made since we arrived in ICU Friday night. When he got here, he couldn’t talk at all. He can now carry on sentences with me, knows what the month/date is, knows who people/objects are. He knows his name, my name, our relationship to each other…our kids, etc. He knows where he is and why. Looking at the CT Scan, the nurse showed me that the big gray area I saw was the area of the brain that is affected. It’s a huge area on his left side and a small area near the base of his head also on the left side. While I had been so joyful all day about the progresses, seeing the scan brought me back to reality really quickly. The injury to his brain is huge. I kind of lost control of my emotions seeing the scan. We know it will be a long road to recovery. I wiped my eyes and went back into Jason’s room. Immediately, he said “you’re crying.” I said I wasn’t. He reached for my hand and said “We are going to be ok” incredibly clear. Even Friday night in the wee hours of the morning, he said “we will make it.” And I told him each time I believe him. We WILL be ok.
He has had the speech pathology people visit each day to work on communication. He sometimes gets confused and says something he didn’t mean to say and gets frustrated. For example- speech folks asked him if the utensil in his hand was a fork or a spoon. It was a fork, but he answered spoon. And he knew it was incorrect. Brain is sending a delayed message. We wrote the 2 choices on the white board and asked him to point to which utensil he was holding, and he pointed correctly to the fork. We just have to ask him in different ways. He can use utensils in his left hand, which is not his dominate hand. It’s difficult for him, but he can do it. We try to make him do as many things independently as we can right out of the gate so he knows not to depend on us all the time. That is difficult for me to do because I want to nurture and care for him.
We should be getting to go to a step down room tomorrow and out of ICU. We had hoped for that today, but the meds need to do their work. We get 1 to 1 care here in ICU, so I am not complaining. The staff here at Duke is excellent. Jason complained of a slight headache tonight, so he’s been given some Tylenol to help ease the pain. He’s been able to tell us his pain level on a 1-10 scale. It was a 4.
Still no movement on his right side. We show him his right hand and put it in his left hand so he can SEE his own hand and help move his arm/hand for circulation. That side is swollen and stiff due to non-movement. Same for his right leg. Each hour, we move his leg for him just to get a good range of motion to prevent swelling and stiffness. Every hour, the nurse comes in and asks him questions, checks vitals, helps him wiggle his toes and such to make sure he keeps his brain and body active. Jason is not a fan of when they come in and pinch the leg, foot, or arm of the right side. He can’t voluntarily move that side, but he CAN FEEL on that side.
He’s been in good spirits and even a bit of a jokester. He and Haley had a really good visit today. Jason’s mom, nephew, brother, and father all visited today, as did my mom and my sister. He was out of the (damn) bed for most of the day and in the reclining chair in his room. The nurse used a sling type thing to get him from bed to chair. I say it was the damn bed because that’s how we refer to it since lying there so long causes his back to hurt. Sitting in the chair also makes him sleep less in the daytime, and promotes better rest in the evening. He has been really uncomfortable at night due to the bed.
I must brag on Haley a bit. She’s having to do some big girl/grown up things that she’s not accustomed to. She’s holding the household down while I am at Duke or running back and forth to get necessary things. She stayed with her dad today from about noon to six so I could go home and grab a shower and a nap. Many people have asked how I am, which baffles me since this is not at all about ME. But for those of you who’ve asked, I did get a good 2 hour nap in my own bed today, which made a world of difference. I was starting to get a little punchy and cranky this morning due to sleep deprivation. She and my Mother-in-Law stayed all day together while I went to recharge. Since the nap, I feel stronger and less weepy/sad. Haley is like Jason in so many ways. Though I would say she is a Mama’s Girl, she is definitely her father’s daughter. She asked me if her Dad could read messages. I said I think so, and if he couldn’t, I would read it to him. I hope I don’t embarrass her by sharing this, but her message to him was:

“Hi dad, I just wanted to write this to you because I don’t know what’s going on in your head, I’m sure there’s lots goin on up there buddy. I just wanted to let you know that I love you so much, I will always love you, I would love you even if you couldn’t speak another word. But I know you can 🙂 you’re still my guy, you’re still my best friend. I can’t even begin to understand how difficult it must be for you to say what you want to say right now. You’re still my hero. I just want to bury my head in your chest and hug you forever. I also know you’re not yourself right now, and that it might be difficult to get back to who you were or who you’re going to be, so just come back to me when you can dad 🙂 I’ll be here. I love you to the moon and further buddy See you soon.”

Jason could see the letters and read some of her words by himself but the text was a little too small. I read it to him and at the end, I saw him smile. I asked him who he thought sent it to him. He immediately said “Haley.” I asked if he could reply to her, what would he say? “I love you, Haley. I’ll be back soon.”
Just stick a fork in me because I was DONE. DONE DONE DONE.
I am sure I am leaving a lot out but that’s what I have for now. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS. We love them and feel all of your love and support. We’ll move to a different room hopefully tomorrow, and be there for about a week, and then to a rehab facility. Some have asked about visiting Jason. Unfortunately, he does not want visitors yet. I hope you understand that it is not that he doesn’t want to see friends. He just doesn’t want anyone to see him in his current state.
Many have asked what they can do for us. Right now, all we really need are prayers for his healing and recovery. As for me, I wish I knew what I needed. I haven’t had time to think about it, but I promise when I figure it out, I WILL ask for help.
We love you and appreciate the outpouring of support for our family. I will try to update every few days on his progress. God is good and is in control. I know He makes no mistakes. Healing is on the way.
Feeling Blessed,
Jason and his family

December 19, 6:35 Pm:

Finally- some positive news -Jason is out of ICU and in a regular room now, still in the Stroke Care Unit. Will be here for the next few days- maybe a week. Then to rehab center. Every day is better than the one before. God is good, y’all. We feel your prayers. THANK YOU for raising him up – he’s still got a long road ahead. Keep ’em coming🙏🏻❤️🙏🏻❤️

December 20: 11:08AM:
I don’t know what kinda crazy prayer acrobatics y’all are doing out there- but they are WORKING! Please don’t stop❤️ will post later tonight but this morning has been full of so much GOOD!

December 20: 9:57pm

Good Evening, friends and family! Are you ready for a post full of GOOD?!?!?!? You prayer warriors have been at it big time! We feel every single one of them and know how blessed we are! Here is a recap of our day at Duke.
First off, I didn’t think it would start off as such a great day because Jason did not sleep at all last night. He told me this as soon as I woke up from my sorta-kinda-sleep on the twin size couch-bed thingy in his room. His discomfort is from the bed and his back, but also because he has an orthotic boot on his weak foot to hold his foot in an upright position. This will help with circulation and keep the weak foot from drooping in a downward position. Luckily, our nurse took the boot off for several hours so he could rest.
The day quickly took a turn for the better! Soon after this, I was massaging his weak foot to get the circulation going. The nurse had asked him if heat or ice would help the foot feel better. Jason said “rubbing” the foot would help. I told the nurse I’d rub/massage his foot, while inside I was telling myself that I’d KISS his foot if it meant he would feel less pain. Thankfully I didn’t have to. And if you know me well, you know I don’t like feet! LOL. While I was rubbing the weak foot he said “WOW! That was a big one!” I thought he was playing fart games again. He wasn’t. I was looking at him, he was looking at me and showed me he was MOVING HIS RIGHT THUMB! He couldn’t do that 3 days ago! We consider that to be quite an accomplishment! SO. That was good thing number 1 for today. (Good thing number three if you count I didnt have to kiss his feet and that he didn’t fart and giggle about it.)
Right after the awesome thumb-wiggling episode, the neuro doctor came in for his exam. He did many things during the visit, but most notably, he asked him to try to squeeze his knees inward towards each other. And again, that right side moved just a weeeeeee little bit in toward the left,. But he DID IT!!! He couldn’t do that 3 days ago, either!
I want to quote the doctor when I say this next part. He was telling Jason that the progress he is making within the first few days is important and amazing. And that most patients who show this kind of progress do walk again. He said to Jason: “YOU WILL WALK AGAIN. YOU MUST BELIEVE THIS.” and Jason nodded his head in agreement. We both believe it. Good thang #2!
Ready for good thing #3? After Neuro doctor left, the physical therapy tech came in. Courtney worked with us yesterday and today. She uses this tall crane looking thing with a sling on it to get Jason out of the bed and into the chair in his room. Before getting to the chair, she will get him to the side of the bed in standing position so he can stretch the back muscles and help him find his “center” as he tends to lean on one side during the day. While this PT session was happening, I had gone downstairs to grab lunch. HIs mom, brother, and father were there, so I felt comfortable leaving. Little did I know what would happen while I was away for 30 minutes! Jason walked about 15 feet from what I understand, with Courtney’s help! She supported his right side and nudged his right foot along, but he still walked, yall! I was so sorry I missed this! But I told him again for the t67687698004 time in the last 4 days that I love him and how incredibly proud of him I am!
IF that were not enough good for one day- get this…I got to come home about 1pm today, courtesy of Jason’s dad dropping me off at home. I was able to take a wonderful, glorious, 3 hour awesome nap in my own bed (On Jason’s side of the bed!). Doesn’t it always figure that right when you’re getting settled and comfy that the damn phone rings? Grumpily I answered. Turns out it was the case worker from Duke. She’d gone to visit Jason in his room while his mom/brother were there. We are moving to a rehab center within the next 2 to 3 days! He’s progressing so well that they feel he is an excellent candidate for acute therapy and will be moved ASAP. We had 3 location choices: UNC, Duke or WakeMed. Obviously we chose WakeMed due to the proximity of where we live. Case worker asked Jason first which one he preferred and he chose Wake, just as I would have. Jason is keenly aware of EVERYTHING that is happening around him. He knows why he’s there, what happened, who people are, their relationship to him…is cell phone number, the date, upcoming events like Christmas (and my birthday ’cause you know he’d never live it down if he forgot that!). He knows where we had our first date. He knows our anniversary. He tells me daily he loves me. And on a funny note, when the nurses ask him yes/no questions, and the answer is NO…he automatically says “No thank you” because even though he’s in the hospital, I won’t let him forget his manners:) LOL. He feeds himself with his left arm, which is hard because the right is dominant. SO. MUCH. GOOD!
So. Once we move and he gets stronger, I will let yall know when and if he wants visitors. Right now he prefers no visitors, but he is aware of your love and prayers for him! I am going back in the morning, and should hear more tomorrow or Thursday about rehab. I am so hoping we get there before Christmas so we can decorate his room a little for the holiday and share family time with him. Christmas has a whole new meaning to us this year. It is about Jesus’ birth. It is about family. It is NOT about gifts. We really feel blessed to receive your thoughts and prayers. I can’t thank you enough. How else do you explain this magnificent progress? Jason’s strength combined with his faith and your prayers! That’s what it’s all about, friends! God is so good and so are YOU! I swear, if I get the chance to hug your neck sometime throughout this process, I promise you I will.
For tonight, I am defying the no-dogs-on-the-bed ruling and gathering Bo, Sugar, and my sweet Stinkerbell and we are gonna talk. Or not talk. Watch something mindless on tv. Or not talk at all. Whatever she wants.Tomorrow morning I will go back and resume my support for Jason but tonight I will be a Mommy to my Haley. And Jason’s Mom is getting to mother her 46 year old ‘baby” and I know she’s happy to do it!
Please keep the prayers coming. We hear/feel them all and to say thank you will never, ever be enough. We are keeping the faith!
XOXOXO, Dawn, Hollyann and Haley!

December 21: 6;42pm

Day 5 update from Duke. We continue to feel the power of your love and prayers.
The world sure looks different after 8 hours of continuous sleep! The combination of a very bad sinus/ head cold thing plus the stress of the past few days was making me feel particularly tired and really rundown. My mom in law stayed with jason last night so I could rest and I’m SO thankful! I’m well rested, and happy to be in a better mood to help and enjoy the progress Jason continues to make!

Highlights from the day include Jason being “off the line,” meaning he’s IV and cord/cable free. He’s got so much more mobility since he’s not “attached” to anything. I was able to take him for a short ride around the 8th floor in a wheelchair and he didn’t even complain about my driving! Fear not, friends- I obeyed the speed limit:)
Just as he did yesterday, he walked with assistance down the hallway. Courtney, our physical therapist, is amazing. Jason continues to build his strength and endurance.
He did not sleep well last night. Too hot/too cold and general restlessness kept him awake. Tonight they are giving him a little melatonin to help ease him into restful sleep. I could see how tired he was during speech therapy. He seemed to get frustrated more easily. But still- he’s doing well with speech, too. His responses are quicker and more expressive.

Still no word on when we can bust out of this place and head to WakeMed. I’m hoping its before Christmas Eve. Fingers crossed!

Thank you for continuing to pray for him. When this is all over I hope I can hug yall’s necks in person, and I’m aware that this sentence is grammatically incorrect but don’t care:)
Jason’s strength+faith+God’s love + your prayers! His recovery is not without struggle but is genuinely amazing to witness💜
Love ALL y’all!
Xoxo, Dawn


December 21 9:11pm:
#WLS was over 8 months ago. I often beat myself up because I haven’t had typical weight loss as other #VSG patients at this point in my journey. My 57 pound loss did not seem important or significant until tonight when I was able to lay my body beside Jason‘s in his hospital bed and help him fall asleep after several restless nights at Duke. If that’s winning, I don’t know what is. Gone are the days where I question the weight capacity on stuff. #worthit #sweetdreamsbaby

December 22 @ 11:17am:

So listen. Literally:) I realize my choice in music isn’t interesting to everyone, but wanted to see if you’d take a listen to one of my favorites from David Nail. I think when you love music as much as I do, there’s a song for every situation in life. Like when we first start dating “the one” you have a favorite song. Or when you have a child, there’s a particular song that describes that miracle. Or your first kiss..there’s a song that immediately takes you back to that time.

I came across this song when David’s album came out earlier this year, and it coincided with a situation that Jason and I struggled with just a few months ago. It’s called “Fighter.” Marriage is full of wonder and beautiful moments. But it can also be filled with bumps in the road. Small speed bumps and also huge sinkholes! Luckily, our marriage has been filled with more good than bad. More happy than sad. More ups than downs. I don’t think Jason expected me to be a “fighter”. I am fighting for him. And he’s fighting for himself…for me….and for our family. And I couldn’t be more proud to be his wife.
“Don’t think I don’t see the way you struggle, watching me struggle
Don’t think that I dont feel you turn away, everytime I turn away
Please believe that I believe when I’m praying
That your right beside me prayin’ for the same thing”
Give a listen if you have time today. This has become our fight song. Our personal anthem♥
I give you…Fighter from David Nail.

December 22 at 12:22pm ·
I usually wait until the evening to post about the events of Jason’s day, but the morning has been filled with so much joy that I have to share early!
1. he slept well and is well rested, more alert and generally happier.
2. Eating well.
3. I just watched him walk down the hall with the Courtney, physical therapist/angel a couple of times. She has to help him kick the weak foot out, but he’s WALKING, Y’ALL!
4. He practiced getting up and down at least 20 times and many of those without her assistance!
5. He’s more vocal about what he wants/needs and continues to follow “thank you” when he says “no” ’cause just ’cause we are in the hospital doesn’t mean he can slack off on the manners.LOL. He is full of yes/no/please and can also manage sentences about 3-5 words.
6. The biggest one today is this: He’s ready for acute rehab. And as long as his insurance approves today, we’re moving to WakeMed Rehab tomorrow, most likely before 1pm BUT we need BCBS to approve today. And from what I am told, they are of the most difficult to work with on approvals. SO, prayer warriors, we need some extra prayers…mojo, good ju-ju, whatever you want to call it…we need them to approve today so we can bust out of this place tomorrow and ROCK some REHAB!
I love ALL Y’ALL and your prayer-sayin’, good vibe thinkin’, sweet lovin’ hearts. XOXOXO! Dawn

December 22 at 11:23pm ·
Night 7 from Duke. Our last night here. So thankful for the progress Jason has made in the last week! We came here for a routine procedure that was over by noon last Friday. Within an hour of that procedure ending, another one began. I signed a document to give doctors permission to remove a blood clot from Jason’s brain and save his life. Signed my name, closed my eyes, fell (literally) to my knees and asked Jesus for guidance. He heard my prayers, and the prayers of all you prayer warriors. Although I am super excited for tomorrow’s transfer to Rehab, I am sad that tonight is my last for a while with my husband. Tomorrow night I will sleep in my own bed while he sleeps in one foreign to him. But that bed will become a place of comfort for his tired body at night after days of rehabilitation. I know he has work to do! Progress to make. Strength to gain so he can find his way back to me and our home. Uncertain times for us ahead. We may be apart temporarily, but neither of us will be alone ❤
Isaiah 41:10
Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand
December 23 at 1:06pm ·
See ya, Duke! We are outta here! Looking forward to rocking rehab at WakeMed. God is so good! Merry Christmas, y’all!
December 23 at 8:25pm
Not the best photo of us but might be the best day of my life. If you are looking for a miracle – Christmas or otherwise-look no further. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR LOVE AND PRAYERS! This is the best Christmas ever.

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting and indoor

12/25 9:07am

Jason couldn’t come home for Christmas, so a little Christmas came to him at the hospital! Merry Christmas from our family to yours! This is the best Christmas of my life❤️🎁

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, christmas tree, plant and indoor

12:26 12:54pm

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! Jason’s family and mine have been burning up the road to and from WakeMed since he was transferred on the 23rd! We celebrated Christmas together yesterday, complete with his mom’s fantastic home cooking! We spent a couple of hours in the rehab dining room all together. It was wonderful and weird all at once, with more wonderful than weird😉
This week we find our temporary normal schedule. Jason has an hour each of occupational, physical, and speech therapy. He has breaks in between and is usually done by 2 or 3 each day. Thanks to my wonderful employer and manager, I’m able to work remotely from anywhere. I’m hoping to start early morning and be done by 3 so I can visit Jason after his therapies and stay into the evenings. The rehab staff said I’m welcome to work from there as well. That way I can see him between therapies and also see what they actually do! What a blessing to have these opportunities!
While Jason works to get stronger and find his way back to us, I am admittedly having trouble with the guilt I feel for not being with him more. The worst feeling is leaving him in the evenings and not seeing him in the mornings… sometimes not seeing him until the next afternoon. His communication skills are building but he still cannot manage a phone call or text. I know it will get easier. The other guilt is not being with Haley as much as I need to be. She’s had to “adult” way too often this past week. But she’s also been a great source of help and strength. Unfortunately, she’s experiencing ALL THE FEELS, too. Mid week last week she was driving my jeep and during a Daddy-related tearful meltdown, she rear ended a lady in front of her. She is fine, and my jeep only needs a new bumper, but the lady she hit was 4 months pregnant and had 3 kids in the back seat of her sedan. Haley feels awful. We have a court date in early February for the 2 moving violations associated with the accident:(
Who has time for that?!?! LOL. but the jeep is just an unimportant, tangible thing. People are more important and never replaceable.
I also feel guilty that I’ve been terrible with my diet and have been a very bad WLS patient. I’ve not reached my water/protein/ exercise goals -and not sure when I’ll find that again. Hopefully my guilt is a normal feeling and will subside as we travel through the recovery process. There’s no standard operating procedure manual for this process and I’ll simply just do what I can to support my husband and daughters❤️
Jason is now able to use his right hand so much more! While holding his hand yesterday, he gave mine a tight squeeze! We find delight in the small things. Small things have become big ones! I continue to be proud of his strength and willingness to work hard in his healing! I’m blessed and lucky to be his wife.
Some of Jason’s friends have reached out to me on FB, with private messages or friend requests. Please- feel free to “friend” me if you like. Any friend of his is a friend of mine. Well… 99% of you, anyway. Based on what he’s told me, the other 1% are sketchy. LOL. Kidding!
Wishing all of you holiday blessings. Hug your loved ones with hard hugs!
Xoxo Dawn

 12/26: 9;04pm

Today was Jason’s best day yet! I hadn’t seen him since last night, which was making me sad. He was well rested, and very happy to see Haley and me. He was so much more articulate and FUNNY! His quick wit is coming back and so is his ability to speak. Today was a GOOD day! First day in the last ten that I didn’t cry:) Even though I found out it’s gonna cost $832 to fix my Jeep, I STILL didn’t cry:) Woop Woop!