Thursday, August 03, 2017

Summer time and the living is...STRESSFUL!


Today is August 3rd. A month from now we will be starting school. Part of me is all..WOO HOO the other part of me is NOOOO!! I do enjoy the laid back pace of summer. I like not having to rush from work to home to practice to home. Laundry, dishes, food, lunches...oh the LUNCHES, homework, half days, did I mention homework?? This summer we've been dealing with the aftermath of our kitchen flood. It has been NO FUN AT ALL. I could list all of the reasons(crappy painters, delays, no communication, and NO DISHWASHER for 3 WHOLE months. It has been the summer of #firstworldproblems. But, we've also had our share of real problems. Problems such as a husband that is still trying to recover, stressful jobs situations, babysitting stresses, mom's who break their ankles (poor Barb!). It seems the Simpson's were due for the SUPER SIZED quantity of all the heavy crap in  2017.
Jeff had a follow up with his primary are doctor today and he texted me to say, "I am still here, they are doing a EKG." I nearly died from PTSD. I seriously had a mini panic attack. My mind went right back to March 7, 2017 at 7:07a.m when I received a text from him saying, " I have blood clots in both lungs, they are admitting me." I never talked to him again until I arrived at the hospital. Ugh, even typing it makes me nauseous. I continue to be so grateful for Jeff's health. In most ways he is "back to normal." He is tolerating his blood thinner well. But, he is definitely not the same Jeff he was prior to his "Event" as well call it.
We are trying to get through this last month without losing our minds. We have pieced together our daycare. The big kids go to Camp Wakeshma in a week, Ellie goes to Aunt Jenn's! We are lucky to have an amazing village to draw upon when we need them and somehow, Jeff and I continue to make it to work!
Speaking of work, after a very rough season, I finally have providers who respect me and my profession. It is heaven!!
We've had a laid back but fun summer. The kids went up to Silver Lake with Jeff and his family for vacation, mom had to stay back and work. Matthew, Jeff and his buddy are going to a Cubs game this weekend, camp for the big kids is a much anticipated event!
We are looking forward to fall and all it will bring. New teachers, middle school for Matthew, soccer and hockey for the big kids, Kalamazoo Children's Chorus for Ellie. Busy, but fun!
We are planning on soaking up every last laid back moment of August!! Happy last month of SUMMER!!
#sorryforallthecaps!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I've got issues..


Jeff had a follow-up appointment with his hematologist today. I was on PTO and so I went with him. I made the mistake of not going to his second appointment and I had a MILLION questions that Jeff  couldn't really answer.  I wish we could say that it went fabulously but, unfortunately I think we are both feeling very confused and worried.  In interest of full disclosure I must admit that I have major issues trusting this physician. I do not appreciate that he NEVER takes the time to go over my husband's chart before he walks into the room. Today for example we were early, and he had plenty of time to review his chart before he came in. However, he did not do that, instead, like the other two times we've seen him, he walks in, talks all rosy and predicted that Jeff will be able to get off of blood thinners. All the while, I am sitting there thinking, "Good gravy dude, you've forgotten that he has factor five homozygous and prothombine time heterozygous!" As I watch him read the chart I literally can see his face change when he spots it, and he starts to retract his earlier statements, and then he reads Jeff's latest blood test (d-dimer)that measures how effectively his anti-coagulation medicine(ELOQUIS) is working, and tells us that although it isn't super high, it is more elevated than last month. He then says, "No, no, you will most likely be on this forever. And, you might need heparin shots if your numbers go up or if you get another clot." I ask about a million questions(like, what about the follow up CT of his damaged lung you said you wanted six months post event, what about his shortness of breath, what about this number, shouldn't we check it again in a few months?) But we don't really get any answers,and then he tells Jeff that he will see him in a year!!! I can tell Jeff is confused ,but I can also tell he wants to trust that his doctor is telling him what is right for him. As we leave I tell him not to worry, that he knows what a REAL DVT and PE feels like and we would go to the ER if he feels that way again. A normal d-dimer range is below 500, Jeff's was in the 1500's when he was in the ICU. Last month is was 640, today it was 677. So while it doesn't seem  terribly alarming,  I feel like waiting a year to recheck it or follow up with the hematologist is not appropriate. Jeff is looking into a second opinion just to make sure that there is nothing else we need to be doing as far as his blood disorder. He has been and will continued to be followed by his cardiologist and interventional radiology is taking out his filter on July 7th. The hematologist also told us today that only 60% of filters are able to be removed. I hadn't heard that before today. I want that filter out. I know I will be anxious on the day it is removed because they said it could take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours. I am praying that sucker pops right out. I am praying this appointment doesn't increase our anxiety. I hate that I always see the worst case scenarios in my work. It makes me consider all of the worst case scenarios for myself and those I love. But, as I told a friend last week that was waiting on some tests, "Don't borrow trouble." I know worry and anxiety isn't from God. I know that Satan loves it when I tell myself a story of woe and worst case scenarios. I am praying to stand firm in the truth of what God says, to not be anxious about anything but to pray and turn it over to Him. We appreciate all of the prayers we can get! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

14 years

Tomorrow Jeff and I will be married for 14 years. Today we got in a huge fight because he couldn't find work gloves in the garage. He accused me of throwing them away, I accused him of never putting anything away in the RIGHT place. He had an attitude, I had an attitude. Then I called him an ass in front of his mom. Not my proudest moment.  You all know we've had our fair share of drama lately. Almost dying, kitchen floods, insurance hassles, contractors that are booked out for three months, three kids, two full time jobs, bills, life. You know who's the ass...LIFE!! It is sad that a mere six weeks out from nearly losing my husband, I found myself so frustrated at him that I am calling him names, and in front of his mother no less! Thank God there is always grace. Soon after the above incident occurred, and his mom had left, we talked through our incident and ended up hugging and laughing in the driveway. Fourteen years in, I love that we're always able to do that.  We talk things through. For a man of little words, I can eek them out of him pretty good these days. He never wants to admit wrong doing, and I love to point them out.
Years 12 and 13 were very hard for us as a couple. Major growing pains. I was telling someone today that is getting married in a few weeks that really someone should have another shower when you are married 15 years. I feel like these are the years that are really showing us what we are made of. If we don't invest in the important aspects that give a relationship the things they need to flourish, we could easily fall apart. We've learned our weaknesses and where we needed to grow both as individuals, and as a couple over the past two years. Thank God we figured many things out before all this crap happened because it just may have broken us. I knew these truths on our last anniversary.  This past year we've invested in ourselves and in our relationship with Christ. We've developed our faiths and good friendships. We've been blessed by our obedience. We know we have miles to go, and much more work to do to make sure our relationship continues  to be healthy and flourish in good times and in bad. We are committed to the work, and to each other. You know I love making lists. So, here goes my 14 reasons I love being married to Jeff.

14. His laid back attitude. Even when he's freaked out by huge medical bills and insurance deductibles, he still has a pretty good poker face.
13. He puts the kids to bed. Every night, without fail, he's helping them shower, tucking them in. I realized when he was sick how much I LOVE this!!
12. He knows what I need to recharge. See #13, I need lots of sleep and time alone to recharge. Jeff gets that and sacrifices his own needs to see mine our met.
11. He appreciates my feisty side. The other day I was asking him why he loves me, he admitted that he loves that I am feisty. Believe me, he saw plenty of this side when he was hospitalized.
10. He is a great listener. Work venting, people venting, always listening.
9. He has the same opinions as me on things that matter. I know many people marry people that don't have similar views but this is what works for us. We agree on things like religion, and most political issues.
8. We have fun. There is no one I'd rather hang out with than Jeff. I was so sad when I realized he couldn't come to Tennessee. We would have had such a good time together!
7. We usually don't sweat the small stuff. We both realize life is short and we try and live it to the fullest.
6. He holds me accountable. He is my ACCOUNTANT after all. I'd be a huge financial wreak without him!
5. His relationship with God is important to him. Jeff was recently baptized but he's been a believer for many years. I love that he wants to grow in his faith and that it is important that Christ is the foundation of our marriage. I have no doubt if this wasn't the case we would never have made it this far.
4. He is smart. Nothing sexier than a man who can do math! LOL!
3. He is an amazing father. Patient, loving, selfless, kind, committed. Our kids are lucky
2. He is a great friend. As I have stated before, you'd be hard pressed to find a person who doesn't like  him.
1. Life is hard, marriage is hard. After coming so close to losing my husband, I cherish this anniversary and every additional one that we are blessed to have. You never know what the day will bring. Cherish every moment. And, if you lose your temper and call your husband an ass, say your sorry and give him a hug. After all, we can never forget our good friend, Grace!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Matthew is 12

Matthew turns 12 on Friday!! I have seen such a transformation in him this year. He is my buddy, he confides in me and trusts me when he is stressed or wants to talk through what's on his mind. He is thoughtful and kind and really just a pleasure to be around. Now don't get me wrong, he can be whiny and over react and annoy the crap out of his sisters which in turn annoys the crap out of me! But, over all, I am just thrilled that God picked me to be his mom!
Matthew is in the home stretch of grade school and will go to middle school next year. He was dreading it ,but I think he's moved into the acceptance stage:). He has a great group of friends that he has fun with in school, and most are moving with him to West Middle School.  Our grade school splits in middle school into two schools. Matthew tends to let his mind get away from him and can get anxious about things. However, he's learned some awesome tools that help him to "CHILL!" I love that he still wants to talk to me about everything and I always know when something is bothering him. No poker face on that one! I pray he always feels that comfortable coming to me.
He is still a major sports fan. Hockey, baseball, football and basketball rank high on his priority to watch. He had a fun hockey season and will be playing spring hockey instead of baseball this year. He loves the Red Wings, Tigers, Lions and Cubs! I love watching Matthew and Jeff interact when it comes to sports. Matthew is Jeff's mini-me in so many ways.
I thought for fun and to remember what this twelve year old was like I would ask him some questions

What is your favorite food?
Burritos from Mo's
What is your favorite thing to do?
Play hockey
What was the best memory from this year?
Scoring with 30 seconds left in the Cadillac hockey tournament which tied us!
What was the worst memory from this year?
When Daddy was in the hospital.
What are you looking forward this next year?
Hockey! 
What are you dreading?
Getting a girlfriend, "I don't want that." 
What do you want for your birthday dinner?
Red Lobster
What are you doing this summer?
Going to the pool, going to sleepover camp and hockey camp. Getting along with my sisters(mom added that!) 
If you had one wish what would it be?
Automatically make it to the NHL! 

Happy Birthday Matthew Jeffrey Simpson! We love you so much!!

Monday, April 03, 2017

One month and 43 years

Tomorrow is Jeff's 43rd birthday. As Jeff entered his 40's I always knew he was nervous about it. His own father died at 46. He was always nervous about it all. Now that his ultimate worry has been realized. Literally dying ,and coming back, I am not sure how he feels about it all. He has always been a quiet man, my Jeff. A man of few ,but poignant words. His words have not yet come about all of this and likely, when they do, I won't share them here. I have plenty of thoughts and words that have come ,but I am realizing that perhaps they are best not shared here either. It has been a month of busy, busy, busy. Medical appointments, bad news, plans, medicines, and resting and recouping. Jeff found out that he has a pretty rare clotting disorder, two factors, inherited from both parents. He will be a lifer as far a blood thinners go. We are most likely going to go to a larger medical center for a second opinion to make sure we are doing all we can. This past month has been so many mix of emotions. Grueling, exhausting, frustrating, and terrifying. But, also supportive, loving, kind, merciful, redemptive, and healing. For every bad moment, a good one followed. We have been blessed with meals, gift cards, groceries, prayers, hugs, and love. This season will bring forth great growth, I have no doubt. I continue to be so grateful to God's mercy to us and especially me as I strongly feel He has been preparing me for a season such as this.
I won't lie, the thought of going back to work on Monday nearly terrifies me. It seems its been so long, it seems the work is too hard. But, then I realize, I have been given a gift. The gift of knowing what it is like for patients and families that are walking in similar shoes such as ours. The frustrations of the United State's health care system, I KNOW them. The FEELING of having yet another doctor walk into a room and NOT KNOW a single thing about my husband's health...what in the hell??? Beyond frustrating. I am sure that I am known in my husband's work place, that happens to be his healthcare system as well, that you don't mess with Susan Simpson. Good Lord, do I wish I didn't have to make sure everyone was doing their job!
But, I would do it all, again and again, for my Jeff. March is a big month for us. We met in March, we dated in March, we thought," it will never work for us in March!"But, it did work, we are a great team. We are hopelessly flawed ,but we own and, it and ,love each other despite our weaknesses. In honor of his 43rd birthday I thought I would add 4 and 3 and come up with 7 things I love about Jeff. After all, March 7, 2017 will forever be a date we never forget, for it is the day that my Jeff left but returned to me, to us, and for that I will never take for granted or stop giving thanks for! Happy Birthday Jeffrey Arthur Simpson. The world, and our lives,would be nothing without you!!

7. His love of sports! Even though I am not a sports fan, I love how passionate my husband is about all things sports
6. His laid back attitude. Even now, in the face of all he's endured, he's all..Well, I didn't die, so that's good!!
5. His forgiving spirit. He loves me despite all my faults. And believe me, there  are plenty!
4. He is a wonderful parent! Patient, calm, loving, fun and attentive!!!
3. My accountant! I like to poke fun but I love that he keeps us in line financially!
2. Great friend. A friend said to us during his ICU stay, Jeffy doesn't have one enemy! That IS SO true!! Everyone loves Jeff!
1. My rock! I can't even think about a life without Jeff at the helm. He is steady, calm, and brings out the best in me and our life!!! Happy birthday my love!!!!!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A big one...


I have debated when is the right time for this post? It is exactly two weeks since Jeff's "event" as I call it. Part of me doesn't want to write it because honestly, some of it is too raw. But, most of me doesn't want to forget the details of it all and, so here I sit, ready to write it here. I have been thinking much about this blog. It is eleven years old. It has documented so much of our lives, the good and the bad, and so, it is certainly fitting that the BIGGEST story that's happened to us, would be shared here.
I feel like to completely understand everything that happened on March 7, 2017, you really have to go back to the beginning, before we were Jeff and Susan the married couple with three kids!
Jeff was born and raised in Kalamazoo. His father, Roger, died of a sudden heart attack back in 1986, when Jeff was only 11. Jeff's mom did an awesome job raising him, his twin sister Jenny, and older sister Kim. While all this was happening in Kalamazoo, I was a ten year old little girl living in the suburbs of Chicago. Ironically, I have vivid memories of being terrified that something would happen to one of my parents. The anxiety would be paralyzing at times. Eventually we moved to Midland, Michigan and between my sophomore and junior year of high school, several people I knew died. A little girl I babysat for was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor and died within a week, my friend's dad died suddenly at home, a teacher's daughter died in an automobile crash and a classmate was killed in a drunk driving accident. Let's just say that the anxiety I had about death was thrown into high gear. Looking back, I realize that no one really knew how to help us deal with all of this loss. Eventually, life went on and I graduated and went to college. I ended up majoring in Family Community Studies and I ended up meeting Jeff Simpson in March of 1995. I worked for the court system as a victim advocate and with domestic violence victims. When we had Matthew I decided I wanted to be a stay at home mom. However, after we had all three kids, I realized that I wanted more. I decided that I needed a Masters in Social Work to have access to the careers I wanted. I went back to school in September of 2013. My first internship was with Borgess Hospital as a medical social worker intern. I loved every minute of it! Something has always drawn me to medical social work. My love of crisis, medicine, helping those in need navigate difficult circumstances. I love serving as a liaison between the physicians, nurses, case managers and other providers. I have no doubt that the role that anxiety related to grief and loss has certainly influenced my career choice. Truth be told, losing a loved one has continued to terrify me. I have said to co-workers that sometimes I think I have chosen my career because I feel somehow it might prepare me if I ever encountered such a crisis in my own life. I have worked as a medical social worker for Bronson for four years, two in the ER and two as the palliative care social worker. While it has made me mildly parnaoid at times, I think it really has just opened my eyes to the possibility that while usually the worse case scenario won't happen, it is possible. At the same time, as Jeff has gotten closer to the age his father died, his paranoia about sudden cardiac death has increased. It is not unusual for him to google symptoms and self diagnosis a variety of conditions. Most of the time I am exasperated and say, "Good grief! You do not have....this, that or the other thing."
Fast forward to a few days before the event. Jeff had been thinking he might have a UTI but his symptoms seemed to be improving. On Monday night he was complaining of back pain but it seemed to be flank pain, not high up on his back. He did say his leg hurt but he thought it was his sciatica. I know this because if he would have had it in the traditional behind the knee DVT spot he would have asked if I thought it was a blood clot. Ironically, we have had several conversations about blood clots!  I went to bed and was awoken to Jeff literally jumping out of bed screaming my name. I will admit that at first I was annoyed as he is prone to doing this periodically if he's had a nightmare. I remember thinking, "Uggh. go to sleep!" But as I became more alert, I realized he was in pain. He said that his back was killing and he didn't know if he should go to the ER. I asked him where the pain was, if he was having trouble breathing, etc. We discussed calling an ambulance but quickly dismissed that because we didn't want to scare the kids and we honestly felt he likely had a kidney stone. Jeff said he would just drive himself and that's when I said, "No way, you could have a blood clot!" and "If you throw a clot while you're driving you're in real trouble." He got annoyed and said, "Why do always have to freak me out?" We drove to the ED and the whole way there I kept checking his symptoms, ten out of ten pain, no shortness of breath and at this time he was not complaining about leg pain at all. When I dropped him off I said, "Tell them you are short of breath, tell them about your mom's history of a blood clot so they work you up for that too." (I found out later he was naughty and did not tell them that!!)I went home and we continued to text throughout the night. It seemed the ED staff also felt it was likely a kidney stone. However, all the testing began to return and it seemed that was not the case. Thank God, his CT showed some fluid in his left lung. Thank God, the ED physcian decided to do another CT of his lungs. The last text I got from Jeff was at 7:19a.m. It said, "The CT shows blood clots in both of my lungs, they are admitting me." I remember thinking "Crap!" But, looking back, I definitely wasn't as freaked as I would think I would be or as I probably should be. My plan was to take the kids to school and then go to the ER before I knew about the clots. When I got the text, there wasn't a sense of urgency for some reason and so I continued with my plan. Matthew was wanting to talk to Jeff and so I texted Jeff and said to please call or text if he could. When I didn't hear anything back, that is when the panic set in. I called his phone twice and the third time his boss answered the phone. I remember knowing immediately something horrible had happened. I asked Scott what happened and he told me Jeff had an event. I remember asking, "What do you mean?" He said he passed out. I asked with urgency, "Did he pass out or did he have an event?" My experience as a former ER MSW knew that it was the latter. He didn't really answer but simply said, "Are you coming?" I called my friend Annie, who already knew what was going on and told her what happened and it felt like literally a minute later she was at my house calmly getting my kids. I was able to keep it together and stay calm for the kids. I remember hugging her in the laundry room and crying because I had no idea what was ahead for Jeff or myself.
Long story short, I arrived at Borgess and was taken back to one of their trauma rooms and here is where it was absolutely surreal for me. I have been in countless trauma rooms, with family members, with doctors, being told similar things that were now being said to me. When I walked in I recognized one of the ICU residents that also rotates to Bronson, I think I was like, "Oh, hi, how are you?" WHAT IN THE WORLD! The ICU doctor asked me if I was Jeff's wife and I nodded and asked what happened? He looked at me with much concern in his eyes and said, "Your husband had a pulmonary embolism that stopped his heart. He died but we were able to resusciate  him". I felt like I wanted to say, "Who? Him? Jeff? " It seemed so unreal to me. Jeff was awake and was able to respond to me but was definitely not himself. The doctor went on to say many things that are now mostly a blur. I remember asking, "Do you think he has an underlying malignancy?" and then went on to tell him that I was a palliative care MSW. I am sure he was like, hmmm, that's strange your telling me all this and asking strange questions. He was very nice, albeit brutally honest. I found out that they were able to administer CPR to Jeff right when his heart stopped and they gave him TPA immediately as well. Looking back, I thank God for so much of this story but not being with Jeff when he coded is one of things I am most grateful for. I don't think I could have handled it. Even the thought of it makes me teary. There was so much peace within me from 7:19a.m on, even if I felt panicky at not knowing what the heck was going on. My kids still don't know that all of this happened and most of that is because I was able to get them off before going to the ER.
It is an absolute miracle that we did not blow off the pain. We could have so easily had him take some Motrin and go back to bed. If he had, he would have died. I have no doubt about this. I feel certain that between his paranoia and mine as well as my medical social work experience, together, we were able to have Jeff be exactly where he needed to be. I thank God that the PCA was putting on the EKG leads when he coded. He easily could have been alone in his room when this happened. I am so thankful that chest compressions did the trick and he didn't need to be intubated. Even though he was out of it, I could hear his voice when I arrived at the ER!
I am completely convinced that God's hand was in every step of this. I can see His hand in our lives, preparing us for this, even 18 months ago. We were very far from God and our relationship was suffering. We were approached by a couple to join a small group, which we did. This group helped us come back to church, to God and devoting time to what was important in life. Our faith's grew. Good relationship's blossomed. The grace He has extended us is overwhelming. We have been blessed beyond measure from so many different people. Life long friends, church friends, work friends, people who don't even know us. God has given us peace that surpasses all understanding. There has been healing in brokenness. This story is just beginning. I am humbled. I am grateful. I can not imagine a life without Jeff. I am so thankful that God spared him. There is much more I want to share about this grace and God's love. But, for now, I think this is enough. That being said, if you are reading and you've prayed, brought us a meal, watched our kids, run to the store, sent us a gift card, etc, please know we are so grateful. Our lives have been blessed because of your thoughtfulness!

Thursday, March 09, 2017

March 7, 2017

This day will forever more be my beginning. The day when my husband died, and only by the Grace of God was brought back. This is my truth. This is his truth. We will never back down from this truth as we feel very strongly God has a purpose  for sparing Jeff. There are so many stories of God's grace in his survival. My master's education and experience that gave me the intuition that something was very wrong . The PCA that has worked at Borgess for over ten years and I believe gave Jeff the best CPR.  The doctor that knew that TPA was the only solution. Jeff's heart coming out of a rhythm that was crazy, all God. I'll never stop giving Him the glory. We have a long road of recovery ahead of us but I don't care for one minute. I have my Jeffy. My kids have their beloved dad. Jeff is the best  person I have ever known. The guy seriously has no enemies. Sometimes a procrastinator, sure! But a good guy...ALWAYS. It is the reason I chased him so fiercely. I knew Jeffrey Arthur Simpson was something special! He has a road of recovery ahead and I will be by his side every step of the way! Jeff Simpson is our life. I thank and praise God for sparing him. His work is not finished and I promise you God, he will not let you down!!