Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Gracey at 11 weeks old. Posted by Hello

Gracey and I play in the leaves on Thanksgiving day! She loved to Chawennie in them! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

I celebrated my birthday today! I feel so old, I know I am not, but with all the experiences I have I am really a young person trapped in a 75 year-old-body! Hopefully this year will be better than last. Posted by Hello

Monday, November 22, 2004

The "Blue Pill" or the "Red Pill": Reality vs. Imagination

I wish someone told me when I was younger the fairy-tale life of growing up, getting married, having kids, and happily ever after, was all a lie. Wait! I am not on some pessimistic ramble, however, I do believe this world lacks a dosage of reality in a severe way.
There seem to be two types of people. I have been in the foremost position until I experienced reality down to its finest, death. I guess the saying "nothing gets more real like your last moments" is true. When one's close to death, or in my case I'll use heaven, what is real becomes truth. One can't experience this truth and then not have it influence the future. Before, I had sympathy and empathy for people, but really did not understand how much words and actions can help or hurt someone.
Many times while I was on bedrest with Natalie, at the hospital, or recovering at home, someone's words and insensitivity caused great sorrow. But then again I look at them and say "Well if I did not have to know about this pain, would I chose to?" I am not sure I would. Who would want to know all the effects Chemotherapy has, how much I was in pain at the hospital, how scared I was that I was going to stop breathing. I mean someone can ask you these questions, but until you are laying in a hospital bed with everything in the world hooked up to you, you can't possible know.
If you ever watched "the Matrix" it can exemplify the "once you take it, there's no turing back" actuality we have in our lives to chose. Neo had a choice. He could take one pill and "wake-up" into what was real, or take the other and go on in his life and never know what the truth was.
Intense situations cause this kind of dilemma. One is faced with the inner questioning of faith, love, and hope. If the choice is to explore them in the context that "life is not perfect", a complete different person will develop.
**(This has nothing to do with what I am writing but my puppy is so cute. She is laying on my lap with all four legs straight in the air and she is barking in her sleep! It is way too cute.)**
Life for me is not perfect and frankly it never has been. When it went from okay to devastating, a realization comes about appreciation.
When those TV commercials come on about the poor dying children in Africa and how $1.00 a day would save them, I sometimes ignore it. I get the channel changer and put it on something more enjoyable. Who wants to see that anyway? I sometimes even feel as though how good would it do to send money in when I would only be helping one out of millions. Even if I helped the problem would still be there. The choice to ignore pain is understandable. But being on the other end of it, I can relate now to the second group of people, the one's who live in reality without a choice. Everyday may be a struggle or a blessing.
Remember Mikey, the boy who wrote "Heart Songs?" He lived a life of struggle. Believing he was an angel, I watched him on "Oprah" and saw his poems published in books and articles. This past year at 13 he passed away. At this young age he taught the world of reality. He educated humanity even in pain and discomfort knowing an illness has overcome his flesh that one can still have a purpose. God can still have a plan.
So what is the point of this you may be wondering? If it is not a pessimistic plea, it is one for understanding and love.
Ask yourself the hard questions. Life can change in a moment you know, and you are not an exception. Your family and the people you love are not on the "keep from harm" list. Chose to live in the reality that every day counts.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

"Everything" is not better in Texas

I have heard the saying many times ,"Everything is bigger and better in Texas." Well, I beg to differ. There is one thing Texas lacks and that is my family.
The other night as I hung up the phone saying bye to my mom I got the all to familiar clench in my throat and the tears were there to follow. There are certain times this happens. It is unpredictable, but I know the action is grounded deep in my spirit.
Many times I have held my knees and cried as the longing in my heart dwelled on mom, dad, my sister and brother-in-law. We may be a complicated family at times, but in this day and age whose family isn't.
I watched the "story of us" the other day and examined the meaning behind the movie closely. Is it what is familiar to us that makes things "Ours" and special. If we look at complicated situations in this light maybe everything would not be such a big deal. We could "pick and chose out fights" easier.
My family, although many miles away are connected to me with a story that is "ours" and unique to only us. Maybe that is a good thing. Not too many people would understand "Ara-sh-wooo!"
What is it that makes you and your family an "us?"
I love you guys. Szeretlek.

Monday, November 15, 2004

God touched Me

God touched me the other day. You may think I am crazy but I don't care at all. I know it was Him.
I will never be the same. One day I will write about this experience and even show you the pictures. But as for now, this short entry will have to mark the event. God is out there, you just have to have your eyes open to see it or it could easily pass you by.

This picture is extremely difficult for me to look at. I spent almost 3 months in the hospital at the beginning of this year. As I was writing "Thank You" letter to those who helped me, I came upon this picture. My eyes swelled with tears as I recounted several memories of that time. I am thankful for the progress and recovery I have made. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

A Letter of Thanks

I spent most of the other day writing "Thank You" letters, stuffing, addressing, and stamping envelopes to people I do not even know that gave me money to help me pay my doctor bills and for future needs.
You can't see it, but I included several pictures of me in the hospital. I may post one so you can see what a difference it has been.
Looking at those pictures were extremely difficult. See, I don't remember most of what happened. I went into the hospital on January 10, and was released having to return for treatment once a day on March 15. I only remember pieces on January and February. Then in March I started to realize what happened.
I write only to share this letter. I wish my heart could be known to these people who gave without even knowing me. I am so glad they did.

Dear Friends, November 10, 2004
As Thanksgiving approaches I am reminded of how blessed I am to have people I know and those I do not know help me. I have wanted to write this for a while and find this is the perfect time because it is almost the 25th.
I am still amazed and shocked by the response from the article in the paper. I was sent a copy of it when I was told money was received in my name. It was almost as if I did not even know the girl they were talking about. So much has happened over the last year I constantly feel overwhelmed and confronted with change.

Lupus is a very serious disease that most do not know of. Its severity has forced me to alter my life. My hospital stay of nearly 3 months is something I will never forget. I almost died 3 times and spent many days in the ICU. Although I am doing a lot better my doctors say I will still receive Chemotherapy until 2006. Lupus is an autoimmune disorder affecting the immune system. It causes my body to believe parts of it are foreign. In Systemic Lupus, like mine, it reacts against the organs. Chemo confuses and weakens my immune system so that it cannot attack my healthy organs. Because of this treatment my kidneys are doing a lot better. When I was on dialysis, most doctors and specialist believed I would not come off of it until I had a transplant. Only 2% of people with total kidney loss that go on dialysis ever regain kidney function. My progress has proved them wrong.
I am sure most of you know or have known those who have taken Chemo before. Perhaps even you have experienced the devastation of receiving it yourself. It is amazing how something can bring life again and at the same time so much discomfort and sickness.
In October we celebrated Natalie Grace's angel day. I could not believe a whole year has gone by since I held my daughter in my arms. Nothing has been more difficult than this. We miss her every day.
However, I am greatly encouraged by all the support I receive. I don't know most of you, but I can tell you, your donation helped me in ways you cannot even know. My medical bills are continuing to increase as my treatments progress. I have applied for assistance and have been rejected. I do not worry, because I have no control over it. My doctors are amazing men and have shown such compassion towards my family and me.
Not able to work, I am trying to take up a passion of mine that I can do when I have energy and not be controlled by. Photography is something peaceful I enjoy and I plan to someday make a small business of it when my energy will allow. I also moved and was able to adopt a puppy, which I named Gracey, in remembrance of Natalie's middle name.
Your donations have shown me kindness with no expectations, and I will always remember it. Thank you. There is a lot more I would like to say, but a letter and words, can only do so little.

(This starts a different letter thanking everyone for a Dance-A -Thon with all the proceeds given to me)

I want to give special thanks to the Knights of Columbus and their generosity. Letting us use the facility was a tremendous blessing. If it weren't for you, this fundraiser would not have happened.
Thank you to my mom, Klara, for working so hard at organizing all of this. You have set an example for me in the way you never give up. That is the strength I used in the hospital to get better. Your life has given me determination to go forward no matter what.
I also would like to specifically thank my sister, Cynthia and her husband, RJ. There is no doubt your love for me shines through everything you do. I can't believe I have you as a sister and best friend. I love you.
Thank you to my mom's friends, especially Art. You barely even know me but have taken my cause and situation as if it were your own family. I know many hours, phone calls, meetings, and planning went into this. It is already a success because it shows me you care. Thank you.
To all the companies including 94.7 FM, who donated materials, gift certificates and other supplies for this dance, I am extremely grateful. You have done something that shows me there are people who really care. I am surprised right now by your expression of support to my family and me.
To all of you there today, thank you. You did not have to do what you did, but I am so thankful for your choice. Please, know my heart. Know I am in high spirits and encouraged. Please continue to pray for me. I will leave you with my favorite quote. Butterflies remind me of my daughter and those who are waiting with her in heaven. I wear a necklace everyday of one I received while in the hospital from my sister. I will never take it off.

"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world,
the master calls butterfly."
-Richard Bach-

Many thanks and blessings to you and my family for all your
unconditional love and support,

Olivia M. Hall

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Hospital Stay Memory One

It has almost been a year since I left what I call my second home, Hendrick hospital. One cannot fathom the experiences I received there.
On a Saturday evening on January 10, 2004, I was admitted through the ER. I was told in my delirium I was in kidney failure. I knew something was wrong for a while and felt no one believed me.
I awoke from a deep coma-state sleep every once in a while feeling panicked, confused, and most of all in pain. I remember once I looked over at someone and asked them to make sure they buried me beside Natalie Grace. They looked at me and said "I promise."
My memory of the first month and a half are very vague, disturbing, and give me nightmares often. I lay in a hospital bed for almost my whole stay. I retained about 65 pounds of fluid. My whole body was swollen. I could not walk, eat, or communicate very well. I had 3 central lines put in over my time there. They are one step advanced than an IV line. They put them in on ones chest. Because I not only have Lupus with Kidney failure, I also have Lupus anticoagulation, or Anitphospolipid antibody syndrome my lines kept going bad. This means my blood will clot more than others. My central line kept getting clotted and they would have to move it. Once I even got a STAT infection and got really sick. The last central line they put in, I was awake and felt much pain. I knew something was wrong and told the nurse. An x-ray proved my lung was punctured during the procedure.
This led to the putting in of a chest tube, which they removed to early and my lung collapsed again. This time they entered through the side of my chest with a larger tube. Very painful thing.
Because of all the fluid I retained, my stomach became quiet large. I looked bigger than I was when I was pregnant. I was not able to extract this fluid on my own. After many days of being sick, doctors finally got my blood count under control after a blood transfusion and a platelet fusion and I was getting surgery. I was very scared. I cried really hard.
Before the doctors got to the point of surgery, they tried a parenthentesis. I was awake throughout the procedure. I went in and layed down. They numbed my belly and stuck a huge needle in me and drained my stomach. I watched as they filled what looked like pickle jars with the fluid that was poisoning my body. Surgery was still needed as my fever inclined.
I woke up to a wound from my belly button almost all the way down. Staples were put in place to hold it closed. And I had three JP's. These are plastic pump like tools used to drain the area. I called them the "squids." They remain half way in the body and half way out. Nurse's drained them many times a day.
I also had to wear my heart monitor attached by 4 wires to my body. If you can imagine me, I looked like a horror film monster.
There were many hard things I had to do and overcome during my hospitalization. I hope to write more about it when I can. But for now, I guess this is all.

Monday, November 08, 2004

In a shadow

Soft ray of light
that sings sweet rhyme
and strokes my cheek
come comfort me tonight

Angel of mercy
that comforts the soul
and wings whisper sympathy
come sit with me tonight

God of creation
that dines with the heart
and speaks nourished wisdom
come cry with me tonight

Bold light of hope
that pursues my visions
and captures each thought
come dream with me tonight

Drops of tears
that soak all thats seen
and rain in the shadows
come reassure this child tonight

Copyright © 2004 Olivia M. Hall/Inspired by Grace.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Today was election day. I had on this shirt in honor of voting for Bush. Posted by Hello


I saw a very brave women today I find in need to "blog" about.
It is a very cold day here in Abilene. It is raining, windy, and just dark. I went to vote and was told as I finally arrived at one place, I must travel across town and vote over there. I tried to explain I had recently moved, but the larger women behind the desk did not sympathize with me. "Next!" she said. I turned and left, with Gracey of course and realized there was not even anyone behind me.
Feeling quite discontent, I went outside got wet again, proceeded back in the car and headed down North 1st to Pioneer. That is when I saw her. She was in a blue SUV talking on the phone. How typical of those who are so niave. It was unusually amusing to me as just days before I conversed with myself on the way to the grocery store and said anyone supporting "Kerry" in the election would have a lot of guts to promote it here in Abilene.
The light turned green and she flew away as fast as a butterfly appears and then is gone, taking her "I support Kerry" sticker with her.
I sat in awe for a moment and then said, "What a shame to ruin a nice car with such dirty filth."