Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Review: Still Lolo

Still Lolo by Lauren Scruggs and the Scruggs family with Marcus Brotherton

Book Description (From the back cover):

For fashion journalist Lauren ("LoLo") Scruggs, a short flight to look at Christmas lights turned into a nightmare when she was struck by the plane's spinning propeller blades.

As Lauren was rushed to the hospital, fighting for her life, the world watched in shock and horror.  Several major surgeries and thousands of prayers later, Lauren was still alive.  But she had suffered brain trauma and lost her left hand and left eye.  Some thought that this would be the end of everything for her, a beautiful young woman working in an industry focused completely on appearance.

They were wrong.

In Still LoLo, Lauren reveals what really happened that night, how she survived against all odds, and what her life is like today.  She is unflinchingly honest in the face of difficult questions:  What kind of future will I have?  Will anyone be able to love me now?  Where is God in all this pain?  Through her story, Lauren calls us all to live a life without fear and to overcome whatever challenges threaten to limit us.

Containing never-before-published photos and personal stories from Lauren and her family, Still LoLo is a compelling and fiercely beautiful account of faith, determination, and staying true to who you are - no matter what.

My Thoughts:

This book was amazing!  I'm not a big non-fiction fan so for me to be captivated by this book is saying something.  The story of what Lauren endured is inspiring in and of itself, but the rest of the story - the story of her life before and after the accident - is just as incredible.  Her parents divorced when she was a toddler because of her mother's infidelity.  Seven years later, when she and her twin sister were 11, her parents got each other.  To me that is such an amazing story of redemption and reconciliation in a marriage.

The reliance on God that was started in her parents during their divorced years was later taught to both Lauren and her sister, Brittany.  The night of the accident, 100 people were at that hospital petitioning God and relying on him for Lauren's life.  They relied on God and he answered.

Reliance on God is one of the key elements in this book but even with that, the Scruggs family doesn't sugarcoat Lauren's pain or recovery.  The pain of recovery and the struggles with depression and anger are written in a very raw voice by Lauren.  I felt her honesty in her writing and I grieved with her over the loss of her eye and her hand.  I empathized with her mother as she wished she could take her daughter's place and hurt for her.  I really felt like I knew this family after reading this book.

One of the best features of Still LoLo is that the entire Scruggs family came together to write it.  Different chapters are written by different members of Lauren's family - Lauren, her father, her mother and her sister.  It gives great perspective on what each of them were feeling during the accident and how each had different emotions and reactions.

Since I, too, am struggling to live with a body that's broken and painful, Lauren's recovery and optimism are very encouraging to me.

I highly recommend this book!  In fact, you can get started on it right now by reading the first chapter here.

5 out of 5 stars

I was provided with a complementary copy of this book for review from Tyndale House Publishers.  All opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm thankful for my wonderful husband, who knows that true love sometimes means doing all the messy stuff.

I'm thankful for my two kids.  Sometimes they fight.  Sometimes they disobey.  But all the time they love me and snuggle me. They are so very patient when Mommy doesn't feel good.

I'm thankful for my sister who can tell when I'm in pain even when others can't and who knows when I need a girls' day out.

I'm thankful for my parents who are always there to take care of my kids or me when we need it.

I'm thankful that I get to spend Thanksgiving with all my family, especially with my big brother.

I'm thankful that even though I have had so many health problems that none of them are life threatening.

I'm thankful for my warm house and for space heaters and gas fireplaces.

Lastly, I'm thankful to my Jesus, who saved me and is always so patient with me.  Even when I cry out in anger and frustration, He loves me.  Even when I don't understand why, He loves me.  Even when my prayers aren't answered the way I want them to be, I know He loves me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Downward Spiral: Part 2

escalator at the end of a tunnel
Picture Credit

(Start the story out with part 1 here.)

It took a little while to get my MRI set up, because of - you guessed it - insurance.  It's always insurance.  "We have to get proof that you need this"... blah, blah, blah.

In the meantime, I was in major pain.  My doctor had given me a strong narcotic pain patch but at the lowest dose.  It wasn't cutting it for me.  I remember it was a Tuesday night when I put it on because it was the Tuesday night before my birthday.  By my birthday, the next Monday (Oct 1), I was beside myself in pain.  I decided to visit the pain doctor again and see if there was anything they could do.  I expected some sort of pill to take with my patch at times when I needed more pain control.  But instead, they decided to up my pain patch to the next strongest dose.  The nurse practitioner I saw that day asked if the 5 mcg patch had made me nauseous.  I said "Yes, but I'm able to control it with a mint or a piece of gum."  Her response was that it might get a little worse with the 10 mcg patch.  Boy, was she right.

I put the 10 mcg patch on Tuesday night.  Wednesday morning I woke up completely nauseous.  Tim was great and got the kids ready and drove them to school so I could stay in bed.  I called the doctor's office as soon as they were open, but in true doctor office fashion, I had to leave a message and wait for someone to call me back.

Which they did.
At 6:30 that night.

Only after an entire day of being nauseous and trying not to throw up.  Their response?  Take off the 10 mcg patch and put a 5 mcg one back on.  So I did that.  At 6:30 on Wed night.

But I was already over the edge.

At 4:30 AM Thursday morning, I started throwing up.  And I continued to throw up, off and on, all day (more off than on).  My gracious parents came over to take care of me and then to take care of my kids when they got home from school.  By evening, when Tim came home, I thought I was doing a little bit better.  He kept coming in our room making me drink sips of Gatorade.  Of course, I would end up vomiting those up 30 minutes later...but I would hold it down for 30 minutes.  One of Julie's pediatrician's had told me years ago that if you can keep drink down for at least 10 minutes, you can prevent dehydration.  That was my hope.

Tim's first words when he came home were "You have to keep drinking because I don't want to have to take you to the ER today."

I tried.
I really did.
But it just didn't happen.

At 4 AM on Friday, after 24 hours of being sick, I couldn't see any of the veins on the inside of my wrist.  I have very pale skin and, normally, you can see all my bright blue veins very clearly.  That day, they were gone.  My one thought was, "If I can't see my veins, then that means I don't have enough water in my blood, or in my whole system."

So I woke Tim up and told him that he needed to take me to the ER.

(Story to continue later...)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Downward Spiral: Part 1

escalator at the end of a tunnel
Picture Credit

I feel like I have been spiraling out of control lately, health-wise.  One thing always leads to another and I can't seem to get over the hump.

It was one year ago this week that my abdominal pain started.

One year.
Not a pain-free day in all that time.

I've been through 5 different types of specialists now, with recommendations to go to 2 other types.  I've had 2 different physical therapists and a massage therapist, all trying to get me out of pain.

Just when I felt like my new physical therapist was making headway on the ab pain, my right shoulder started hurting (beginning of August).  I had been faithfully doing all the stretches that my first PT had prescribed and one of those started making my shoulder hurt (feel free to see the stretch here).  Like a good little patient, I stopped doing that stretch.  But instead of getting better, I started getting worse.

By mid-September, I could barely move my arm.  I became very well adapted with using my left arm for things.  Obviously, there are things that I couldn't really do with my left arm, like writing and putting in my contacts.  But my right arm was in so much pain that I didn't have a choice.

I visited my pain doctor, which is the doctor that diagnosed my Myofascial Pain Syndrome.  He brushed it off as arthritis and said it would go away in 4-6 weeks.  He refused to write me a PT order (even though I was already going to a new PT for my ab pain and for leg numbness).

I was not sold on an arthritis diagnosis.  I am 34 and I don't think I am riddled with arthritis yet.  The day might come when this is true but I didn't think it was right now.

I knew this was something different and I knew it wouldn't go away on its own.  In the meantime, he thought it would be a great idea to give me a pain patch. (Note the sarcasm.)  I know I shouldn't be too hard on him.  His specialty is pain and he is focused on looking for chronic causes of pain, not acute ones.

But I decided to get a second opinion.  One of our local orthopedic doctors' offices has a walk-in clinic, no referral or appointment necessary.  So I walked on in.  After an X-ray and an exam, I was reassured that there is absolutely no sign of arthritis in my shoulder.  There was, however, lots of inflammation and reason to order an MRI to look for a tear.

(Story to continue later...)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mobile posts

Just downloaded the blogger app to my phone so I can blog on the go. I know, I'm behind the times but I didn't there was a blogger app until today and I'm a little excited.

There's a picture of my laptop that I'm NOT using to write this post!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Woven Braided Bun

We did this hairstyle a while back.  We were going to do this one for a wedding last month but we ended up not being able to go to that wedding.  But here is our trial attempt at it.  I think it turned out pretty well.

You can find the tutorial we used here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Watauga Lake

This weekend my brother and his family were renting a cabin about an hour away at Lake Watauga.  They invited us up for the day and we jumped at the chance to spend some time with family.

You see, my big brother and his wife and two boys have decided to make a huge life change and become missionaries with the IMB (the Southern Baptist International Missionary Board).  Pretty soon they will be going off to orientation and large city immersion and then on to Asia to live in a foreign country with foreign ways and a completely different and hard-to-learn language.  I'm so proud of them but I'm going to miss them a lot.  Even though we only see each other a handful of times a year, it always been comforting to know that they were only a half a day's drive away.  In less than a year, they will be half a world away.

Needless to say, we want to spend as much time with them before they leave as we can.

David and his cousin, Micah, are 9 months apart in age and love playing Legos and ninjas and doing anything else their little boy minds can think of to do.  Normally around Grandma's house, David is the only boy with his sister and girl cousin, Kaylie, playing girlie things.  But when Micah is around, he gets to be a total boy.  At the lake, the boys were holding sticks in the water, trying to catch fish.  David asked Daddy to grab a stick and help because they weren't catching anything.  Because we all know the missing ingredient was a third stick.

Going out in the canoe was the highlight of the lake trip for the kids.  I didn't go out because I can't sit in seats without backs very well at the moment.  The other 3 adults took turns taking the kids out.  It didn't really matter that it was November and too cold to swim. They loved it!

And, of course, it was always safety first when we were down by the lake.  Life jackets for the kids at all times, and for adults when they were in the canoe.  My super cute hubby is modeling the look.

Tim and Julie are relaxing in the cabin after all the lake fun.  They were watching the Tennessee game and, luckily, UT pulled out a win, although it wasn't very pretty.

There's the gang - Grandma, Grandpa, Tim, Matt (my brother), Desha (my sis-in-law), Julie, Nathan, Micah, and David.

And we know what we need to buy the kids for Christmas - some sunglasses!

Thanks fam for the great November lake day!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Blogging for Books: Not This Time

Not This Time by Vicki Hinze

Seagrove Village, Florida is rocked by another tragedy.  In what seems like a terrorist attack, guests at a local wedding are gassed and knocked unconscious by an unknown assailant.  And not everyone gets out alive.  But that's not all.

Small town business geniuses Sara and Beth have more to deal with than just a post wedding headache.  Sara's husband is missing and Beth is the key suspect in his disappearance.  Their computer company's tie-in with the FBI makes them and their families targets for an international terrorist group.  But this attack seems to be rooted closer to home.  Can Sara find her husband before its too late?  Will the whole town be destroyed by one of their own?

My Thoughts:

This is the third book in the Crossroads Crisis Center series.  And, I have to admit, not having read the first two, I was completely confused.  In the first chapter, you meet Jeff, Roxy, Nora, Harvey, Clyde, Beth, Sara, Robert, Kyle, Hank, Kelly, Lisa, Darla, and Nathara.  Talk about not being able to keep characters straight. I'm sure these were all key people in earlier books but throwing them all in there at once in the beginning of the book just didn't work for me.

After they weeded out the non-essential characters (several chapters and more characters later), I started to get into the plot.  The mystery was unusual and had some good twists.  I did figure out who the local terrorist was long before she was revealed in the story.  But, props to Hinze for creating a unique and detailed mystery.

I do have more complaints than compliments, though.  I found it very hard to believe that an international terrorist organization would spend it's time and energy targeting a small, Florida town, even if they did have ties to the FBI.  I also thought all the terrorists' code names were cheesy.  Yes, I know that's being overly picky, but if that distracts me so much that I can't think about the plot, then I'm going to mention it.  Lastly, there was never a good explanation about what the Crossroads Crisis Center was or what service they performed for the community.  Once again, this was probably covered in an earlier novel in the series, but not having read them, I had no clue.

The good things - intricate mystery, good plot twists
The not-so-good things - too many characters, unbelievable terrorists tie-ins, cheesy bad guy names

I give this book 3 stars out of 5.

I was provided with a complementary Kindle version of this book for review while participating in the Blogging for Books program.  All honest opinions are my own.

Friday, November 2, 2012

When the Avengers meet Harry Potter

We had a fun Halloween this year.  Our little Hulk carried around Spiderman's head with his Batman gloves. Think maybe he likes Super Heroes?

And he informed us that since he had muscles, he didn't need a coat.  The muscles kept him warm.

I guess they did, because he never complained about being cold.

Julie's Hermione costume was a little bit harder to create.  Originally she was going to buy "official" Hogwarts robes at Universal Studios.  But we had to cancel our trip to Harry Potter World and had to come up with Plan B.  Luckily someone suggested using an old graduation gown.  Great suggestion!!  So my mom hemmed it up for her.  We added a wand and made her hair wavy and bushy.  And Ta-da! Hermione was created.

However, she is not complete without her prefect badge to let her officially boss everyone else around.  (Found that online, printed it and stuck it on there with a safety pin.)

And the best part about Halloween?