Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Visit

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I haven’t written in a few days, well, maybe more than a few days at this point. I’ve been in a very deeply private and thoughtful frame of mind and wasn’t ready to share.

For you see, I went to visit my baby’s grave for the first time this past Friday evening.

I took a deep breath, swallowed a morsel of courage, and told Jeff I wanted to go. I’d maneuvered around the idea for these few weeks I’ve been home because physically, I wasn’t ready, and emotionally, I just didn’t think I’d hold up.

After we put the children to bed, I headed over to the grave. A very sweet couple in our church allowed us to bury the baby on their land, in a field, under a shade tree. The couple, Mike and Carolyn, were outside when I drove up alone.For some reason, when I asked them if it would be okay to go see the baby, I felt the emotion well up, along with that tell-tale lump and the hot tears which prickled against my eyes.

Carolyn told me to go ahead and that their new donkey had had a baby, but wouldn’t bother me. Normally, I would shy away from being alone in a field with animals who were much larger than me, but at the time, I barely heard her words. I was too focused on keeping my emotions under control.

Our music minister had fashioned a pretty little wooden cross with the words “Baby Medina” on it, and as I went through the gate and tromped through the wild Texas wilderness, I kept my eyes on that cross and barely even felt the stickers attack my bare legs or smelled the giant plops of horse manure.Mike and Carolyn, on top of the freshly dug grave, had placed a solid layer of pretty bricks. I don’t know what I felt as I stood there for the longest time and just stared. I just seemed to empty of everything but the moment. My mind finally rewound to that sorrowful place before I went in for surgery, and the emotion surged out of my body.

I knelt down, blinded by my own torrent of tears, and cried out to God, “Why this one? Why this one? Why couldn’t I have had just one day, just one day?”I then noticed dirt and bugs lounged and crawling across the bricks and I frantically began to swipe them clean, furiously whisking the unwelcome intruders away, telling them testily to “get off my baby.” My TPN backpack kept sliding down (for I was “hooked up” for the night already) and was getting in the way.

I guess, in some way, this represented my frenzied attempt to control, protect, even guard my vulnerable baby snuggled beneath that fresh sod. That’s what we mothers do. We watch with eagle’s eyes, we care, we protect, we nurture, we guard; we even fight for our children. We take a silent, solemn vow when they are placed within our arms for the first time. We vow, before Holy God, that no harm will come to our child while we are in charge. We recognize, and accept, the heavy responsibility of becoming a mother, and we become fierce and frightful bears when our children are in danger or are crossed. Those feelings were raw and real as I lay there, even more so for my unborn baby.

That effort left me spent, and I lay almost prostrate across the tiny grave, finally releasing all the pent-up emotion that had been pushed aside during my post-operative recovery phase.

Finally, I grieved, alone with naught but my child and my God. And then, in silent salute, as the sun began to set, and the evening began to quiet, I said my farewells.I don’t pretend that visit is the end of the story, for I know I will be reminded, again and again, of that precious little life, as the years go by. I will mark birthdays and graduations, soccer games and summer swimming. I will imagine, as all mothers who’ve lost babies, what my child would have looked like, who he/she would have acted like, and what calling to which God would have called him.

All in all, it was, admittedly, another very sad day. I anticipate more, but I also anticipate hopeful acceptance of God’s decision and better days, acknowledging that He ultimately knows best.

"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you..." Jeremiah 1:5

Friday, August 20, 2010

While I'm Waiting...

While I'm Waiting...
by Audrea Vann Medina on Thursday, August 19, 2010 at 10:08pm

There are three words that come to mind every day lately; I've even written about them. Waiting, control, and faith.

Every day that passes where we don't hear something about the coming transplant, I feel impatient, for I dislike WAITING, especially when we were told to expect news within a week or two of leaving the hospital. I've been home exactly two weeks today, and I feel like a race horse 'chomping at the bit' except I have no CONTROL over when the gates open for the derby. That's in someone else's hands.

Control, for most of us, is a daily struggle. We aim for control in our work environment, home life, and especially in our relationships...perhaps even without realizing it. I am reminded of the arguments Jeff and I have, and they're usually a result over an issue where we both want to exert our control and conflict ensues when we want different things and neither of us will humbly give up our desires for the other. A very wise man once told Jeff that arguments/fights/marital discourse arise when one person wants something so bad, he/she is willing to sin to get it. That really resonated with me when Jeff shared it, and often, when I feel tension arising between us or I snap out an ungodly response, I try to stop and ask myself "what is it that I want so bad I'm willing to sin, even against the man I am sworn to love forever, to get it?" Now, honestly, that doesn't happen all the time, but when I remember WHO is in control of my life (Jesus Christ) and that I am a Spirit-controlled person, I am usually very easily shamed by my own behavior and able to be quickly reconciled with my husband.

In this waiting-game instance, I can't even sin against the parties involved because I'm too far removed from them. But, the tension I feel and the impatience that's teasing my mind, tells me I need to start asking myself if I want a transplant so badly that I'd be willing to sin to get it. My flesh cries out "yes, I want it and I want it bad and I want it now because I'm so sick of having diarrhea every time I turn around and I'm sick of the nausea I've started feeling..." and on and on with my physical complaints. But the Holy Spirit, (and since I am a Christian, I am bound to listen) tells me to be patient and to TRUST the one who brought me back from an early grave. He's already proved faithful. It is natural, for those of us who are Christians, to respond in a way that honors God; it is unnatural not to. I am weak, though, and my flesh and spirit do battle daily.

Therein lies the crux of the matter. I am a spiritual being trapped in flesh, and the Devil seeks to destroy me. He is intimately acquainted with my weaknesses, and Scripture tells us he is wily and crafty and will stop at nothing to destroy me because of his hatred for God. Destroying each of us by way of unreconcilable rifts with spouses which lead to divorce, bitterness toward another, selfishness, rage, sexual immorality, envy, and all the other things found in Galatians 5:19-21 merely serve to give God a bad name among those who do not believe.

The antidote: God's Word steeped in our hearts so that we have the ability to break those enslaving chains from our lives. I need more of God's Word to combat these daily mental battles I'm struggling with, and I would dare to suggest that you do, too.

I want to live freely, unhindered by sin and being a slave to it. Galatians 5:1 tells us that "it is for freedom that Christ has set us free...and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery" so that tells us that Christ himself already understood our battle and addresses it. I want to live unhindered by my sin so that I can concentrate on others, helping others, and ultimately bearing fruit for God's kingdom. I don't want to dishonor God's name, since I bear it; I want to bring him the most honor that I can.

So now I can wait knowing the control I desire rests in God's hands, and he will be faithful to provide my transplant in His time (as some of you have already reminded me) and not my own. Grant me patience, Lord, in this time of waiting.


(Note from Alex: Check out John Waller's "I'm Waiting"'m+Waiting:27366956:s4108002.11496333.5960458.0.2.117%2Cstd_07a3480b0e944f348a7ca3d0995db75c)

Interestingly enough, John is from Fayetteville, Georgia and worked at the Chick-fil-A Dwarf House. Audrea also worked there. See

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

GI Doctor Visit

Audrea Vann Medina

Quick update to let you know that I had a great visit withmy GI doctor this afternoon. I have a sneaking suspicion he's seeing me withoutcost, and further raises him in my already high esteem.

Anyway, he asked about my diet, and was surprised that I've had solid stool, and was also surprised that I've managed to keep anything inat all. He said most people just give up trying to eat and let the TPN do it's job. Not me. I love to eat. But, my scrambled egg with cheese and lightlybuttered toast (a sure fire stay in) might get old eating 3 times a day. My doctor told me to eat what stays and slowly add other foods in after 2-3 weeks.That's hard. Everything looks SOOOO good.

Baby steps, Audrea. Baby steps.

So, after that great visit, mom took me shopping at Kohl's, our favorite place to browse the clearance racks. She treated me to a newwallet and new outfit. Thanks, mom (err...and dad)! I felt normal browsing,except for the time we had to dash to the bathroom. Mom kindly made a lot ofnoise washing her hands, drying them, etc. since she knows how I dislike #2 in public. Considering it's either #2 in a public bathroom, or #2 on myself, I think I'll swallow my pride.

All in all, despite the frequent potty breaks, it's been an okay day.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Porcelain Life Lessons

Porcelain Life Lessons
by Audrea Vann Medina on Friday, August 13, 2010 at 10:13pm

I'm the type of person who looks for lessons in every situation. I know God has some major branches to prune from my life, and none of us are perfected or complete until the day we're called home to heaven if our names are in the Lamb's Book of Life. My physical body, though, longs for that day, the day where, perhaps, I'll not need a small bowel.

I think about lessons in light of today where nothing I put in my mouth stayed. After running to the bathroom for about the 10th (or more) time today, I'm exhausted. My stomach is still churning, my rear end, as you can well imagine, is rawer than a newborn baby's raw, the gas seeping out is so toxic we've all resorted to plugging our noses and counting to 10 before we breathe, and my spirits are less than ecstatic.

What lesson(s) can I take from all these potty trips that will get my mind back on things above?

• The first one I think of is that God's design for the human body is flawless. I never knew much about the human body or how things work (you'll remember back to my brother, Elliott, sending me diagrams about the female cycle, etc. when I was pregnant for the 3rd time in 3 years), but now, I'm intrigued. I see why so many are so fascinated by the medical field. God's design of each of us is perfect and faultless (even if something in our body doesn't work quite right when we're born), and it boggles my mind that anyone could memorize all of the body organs/functions and think we happened by accident or evolved from some big booming bang of matter. I've got more respect for myself than that. Our human, and finite minds, even the most brilliant and intellectual, could not have created anything more ideal. Even the great scientific minds of today, bursting with knowledge, can only attempt to replicate, or clone, what already exists. And that, on a completely other subject, is treading very dangerous ground.
• This brings me to my second lesson. Science and technology are wonderful tools of the human mind (gifted from God) when used to advance and protect life. I'm so thankful to be living during this time because had this trauma happened even 50 years ago, I probably would have died. TPN, the stuff I gripe and complain about because it chains me to itself and is my master for 14 hours a day, is sustaining the very breath I breathe. If I'd had to rely solely on what I could feed myself, I'd wither away in a matter of weeks. Because of medical advances, medicine, and a careful combination of surgery and care, I'm alive to testify to the positive side of medicine.
So, I guess what I'm telling myself tonight, is that the next time I let out a gas bomb which sends us all running for cover, I should stop and take a big gagging whiff and tell my family we should all be thankful I'm still here to blow! Ha.

Well, on a serious and less elementary note, I find myself, once again, ending cheerfully, now that I've put things into eternal perspective. And, I must apologize if I've offended any delicate sensibilities with my potty talk, though it is hard not to when all of my issues stem from what's missing from my small bowel!
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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Truly Trusting

Truly Trusting
by Audrea Vann Medina on Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 10:24pm

I find myself feeling incredibly frustrated today. I feel helpless, as if every single thing and every single decision is out of my control. I feel all a jumble,feeble, powerless, and weak. And I don't like it.

I'm not a good patient. Well, I was in the hospital because I was truly unable to care for myself, but now that I'm home, that "new normal" I talked about the other day is not happening fast enough. I'm impatient for it because every day presents a new series of frustrations.

This (referring to my new condition) sucks. Excuse the lack of a better and more genteel term. And don't tell my parents I said it. Even though I'm 31, I'll still feel guilty for the chastisement I know I'll receive since that word was not allowed in our house while growing up!

Already I'm tired of being hooked up to an i.v., tripping over the pole, running over my own feet, and unable to bathe (the only thing I can do alone) until it finishes. I can't pick up my children and hug them when they're hurt, or just pick up the baby when she needs some mommy love. I can't put her in her crib at night. I can't sweep or mop my floors or carry a load of laundry. Who'd have thought I'd miss THAT??!!???

I haven' teven been able to see my baby's grave yet, and though I hesitate to go too soon, my heart needs to see it.

Why am I so cranky tonight? I don't like it. Jeff is staying away, clear on the other side of the room writing the thank you notes I should be helping him with. Maybe it's because I'm feeling overwhelmed by all of the changes, all of which are completely out of my hands.

If that is true, this, then, becomes a true test of my faith. When I'm not in control,do I really trust God, Jeff, and all the others to make the best choices for me? I think that's where my frustration lies. I want to make some decisions for myself and because I can't, I'm barky. I've not practiced being thankful today,so I might as well get to it. In fact, I've not spent any time with Holy God today and it's showing as I bare my teeth and furrow my brow(s).

I'm weak and frail and incapable of handling regular routine tasks. I don't like beingin such a vulnerable position.

I am reminded of what my brother shared on Facebook yesterday. It was from his Oswald Chambers devotional: "Jesus never measured His life by how or where He was the greatest use. God places His saints where they will bring the most glory to Him, and we are totally incapable of judging where that will be."

I feel unequal to the task of being used, in this way, for His glory, even though that's been my heart's desire for the longest time. I start thinking back to 3 weeks ago and wonder if I could have made any changes which would have protected my bowel or even my baby. I don't know. Maybe or maybe not. But then I have to pull myself out of that train of thought and realize I can't change anything now and neither can anyone else. My personal judgment asks if God could have used me in another way, as in writing a novel (my other heart's desire) and eventually teaching SouthernLiterature in a college setting.

I sit here now, looking inside and thinking that perhaps, just perhaps,Omniscient God has a better plan for my life than I do. The question is: Will I trust Him in my daily life struggles as I claim to trust His providence in the grand scheme of my life? Will I sit here and continue to gripe and whine about my daily trials, or will I take an eternal perspective and thank Him that I'm allowed another day to learn how to live my " new normal."

Hmmph.I already know, and I feel at ease again.

This is why I write. My mind is clear and I feel hope wrapped around me. I can look at my heavy i.v. back pack, listen to the gentle whirring of the pump, and thank the Lord that it's working properly and nourishing me for another day with my loved ones.

Sorry for the moaning and groaning session, but at least I don't end that way.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Strength for Today, Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Strength for Today and Bright Hope for TomorrowShare
Today at 8:21am

It’s my first Sunday back at home in two weeks. Jeff had his first full night’s sleep in two weeks (he just woke up and told me) so I praise God for that.

The children are still asleep, and yet, I’ve been lying awake thinking for the past 30 minutes.I’ve been thinking about strength and the fact that many of you have written to me admiring my strength. It occurred to me that I’m not strong. I’m as weak as the children in “Jesus Loves Me” but it’s my faith that’s strong.

My faith in Christ Jesus is an unbendable steel rod.

It may be bumped, banged, bruised, or beaten but I will not relinquish it. I asked Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior when I was 8 years old. As some of you, I did have a curious stage where I wanted to know what the world had to offer in terms of the enticing nightlife, but even then, it took but a moment to realize there was no real satisfaction to be found. My conscience was my Holy Spirit. And He wouldn’t let me fully engage, since I was betrothed elsewhere.I was (and am) a child of Holy God.

I know there are many of you out there reading my posts, hooked to this horrible (yet fully amazing) tragedy. If you have an ounce of feeling, your hearts are full of compassion. I want more for you as I want for myself, especially if you don’t know my Jesus, the reason for my faith.

When you hear the name of Jesus Christ, what do you think? Do you smile because you know you belong to Him? Do you cringe because it makes you uncomfortable? Do you scoff because you think of it as a farce or a fairy tale?Have you ever pulled out a Bible and read about this man?

Even if you are a believer, do you really understand the sacrifice Jesus made for you when he willingly carried his own cross down the streets to Golgotha while being spit upon and mocked? He was innocent, his only charge being that He claimed to be the Son of God. And He was the Son of God. He never spat back at his tormentors.

Do you understand that the penalty for your sin must be atoned for? In Old Testament times, there had to be a blood sacrifice to atone for sin, thus the killing of an animal. When Christ came down and offered his life, his blood covered once and for all the future sins of mankind…that means yours and mine.

He offers eternal life as a gift and how many toss it back in his face with disdain or mockery? It’s a GIFT for goodness sake and He desires for all of man to come to know Him in a real and personal way.

I could not have made it through the past two weeks if I didn’t believe these simple truths.If you don’t know Christ and want to, find a Bible, and turn to any of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John). He will reveal Himself to you through these testimonies of his life. Dig in and investigate whether or not it’s real. Don’t look to people who’ve failed you; we’re incredibly fallible. Look to the man who lived a perfect sinless life.

Today is Sunday, and I am ready to join my church family in worshiping, celebrating, and fellowshipping. I don’t know if I’ll have the energy or ability to sit through the whole service, but I’m going to try. If I have to run out to the bathroom, at least I know everyone already knows why.

I am so very thankful to be alive, to be allowed to open my mouth to say “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.” That’s my new life verse.

And now the children are awake, so I must run for the day.

All my love to each of you.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Being Home...

From Audrea...

Being Home
Today at 8:25am

After being told I was going home yesterday, I was up, packed, and ready to go by 10:00 a.m.
We didn’t leave until after 4:00.

Almost as soon as we got home, my TPN arrived, as did my Angel of Mercy, the nurse who came to show us how to hook everything up.

My first attempt to stick a needle full of vitamins into the TPN bag resulted in a contaminated bag and my finger bleeding. Jeff took over after that because we had to throw the TPN bag away. Each one of them costs about 1000 dollars. I was horrified that I’d messed it up and I refused to touch anything else.Once the nurse left and Jeff stuck my bag and pump on my personal i.v. pole, I just stopped thinking.

I felt so overwhelmed.

He took the bag/pump off the pole and put them in the back pack, especially made for this stuff. I couldn’t get the bag situated where it didn’t hurt my new central line (below my right collarbone) and I just lost it. I cried and cried and said, “I don’t want to wear it. I don’t want to wear it.”Jeff tried to comfort me, saying that it was just temporary, but I still cried my heart out.

Home is where life is supposed to be the most normal and most comfortable, and yet, even that has changed for me. It was (and will be) so hard to wrap my mind around.When I finally managed to pull myself together and remind myself that the TPN was keeping me alive and I should be grateful, I felt a little less overwhelmed and could focus on the 3 little reasons I was glad to be home.

I can’t pick up the children and that’s so hard. But, Jeff picked up Lexi put her in my lap. I rocked her while she drank her last cup of milk for the day, and then my mom came in and put her in her crib.The older two were much harder to put down. They cried for me, they cried for Jeff, and it was well past 9:00 before they were settled and sleeping.In the middle of the night I woke up to find Jeff gone and a little replacement (Gideon) in bed with me. It was rather nice to have that snuggly little guy near me. He’d been skittish of me and my bandages and boo-boo’s for awhile, and wouldn’t come near me when I got home yesterday.

I know this journey will get easier, but right now, just pray for a me to be able to create a home routine for myself that doesn’t seem so overwhelming.