Friday, December 15, 2017

Hi! From sunny San Diego!

I haven't been by here since we moved in -- blogging has taken a back seat these last two months. Slash this year? 2017 has been a doozy, just as I knew it'd be. When Ryan and I went to Spain, I remember literally praying -- "Please bless this time to fill us. We will be drained this year. Please, please fill us up and carry us through" -- but little did I know how I, personally, would be taken to place beyond drained. I knew I was going to have my third baby and not sleep for a bit; I had no idea that she would be a difficult baby and that I wouldn't sleep for a long time. I knew my husband would graduate from law school and jump ship to study for the Bar; I didn't know how taxing the Bar months would be on my health. I knew we were going to move from the East Coast to the West; I didn't know we were going to move to Utah as early as May. I knew I would miss my friends and my life in Virginia; I didn't know how much I would ache after that change. I knew we would move to San Diego in October. I did not know that after being here for four weeks, I would crash.

The right side of my body started going numb. Just the right side. I noticed that the numbness and immobility first in my right-hand ring finger. I was working on a freelance branding project and couldn't click the mouse -- why wasn't my finger clicking the mouse? Ryan started working at the firm, and one week later, he left for Palo Alto for a week-long training. I worked hard to be a good, patient, giving single mom that week and, with heaven's help, I was. But I noticed the numbness more frequently that week, which worried me. I didn't say anything to Ryan when he came home, though. I just hoped it would go away.

A few days later, after finishing an 8-mile, Saturday run with my friends here (half-marathon training!), I really noticed the numbness. Again, I didn't say anything to anyone. But by the next Wednesday, I couldn't hide it anymore and I told Ry. I asked him for a priesthood blessing, because I've had the experience before of struggling - be it emotionally, physically, socially, mentally,  you name it - and finding instant solace through a priesthood blessing. You don't always have instant healing, but solace, yes. The outpouring of God's love via His priesthood power is palpable. You are guided and comforted via priesthood blessings. They are a gift (I am so, so grateful that God's priesthood power is still at work on earth)!

Unexpectedly, I was told in the blessing that I would be whole -- "doctors would tell you what you do not yet know, but you will be whole." I say "unexpectedly" because at this point I really didn't think that something was legitimately wrong with me. I wasn't planning on calling a doctor soon - I really thought the numbness would rescind and that my feeling would resurface. But when I woke up the next morning more numb than ever, I called the doctor and they asked me to go to the ER right away.

Ryan went with me; my angel friend, Chrissy, took our girls. I had a CT scan upon arrival and then we waited. And waited and waited. Ryan had to go back to the office for a mandatory meeting, and while still waiting in the ER alone, the CT scan results came back and they were foreboding: an area of my brain was gray in the image on the screen. A stroke, MS, a neurological infection -- they didn't know the cause yet but after more testing that day, they would. The doctor left, and again, I waited. Alone.

My body started to shake then. Anxiety. I started breathing deeply and smiling. I pictured my babies, I pictured Ryan. I thought of my dear friends and family that have passed and prayed for them to be near. I thought of my blessing from the night before: "You will be whole." I will be whole, I will be whole. Faith is believing what you can't see, you know -- it's trusting something or someone enough to act without a guaranteed outcome for your actions. Faith for me that afternoon was deciding to believe that, yes, I would be whole. Maybe "whole" meant in months after a stroke had taken its toll - maybe I'd relearn to speak. Maybe "whole" meant in years after I'd beat MS into remission. Maybe "whole" meant weeks after a nasty virus ran its course. Whatever whole would turn out to be, I put my faith down that afternoon by picturing a healthy, vibrant Jeni dancing with her babies -- one in her arms, two at her feet. I pictured Jeni making Ryan laugh and stealing his kiss. I pictured Jeni with her family at Sunday dinner, the meal finished, the boisterous conversation unending. I pictured Jeni at a party with all of the people she had ever loved (there were a lot of people there); she roamed from friend to friend, talking and laughing. I pictured myself as I knew I could and wanted to be, and I chose to believe that that woman would be.

An hour passed, Ryan was back. Another hour passed and the neurologist performed the painful lumbar puncture. Another hour passed and it was time for the hour-long MRI. I hadn't been able to eat since arriving at the hospital that morning at 9:00 AM -- after they saw the gray area on my brain, they knew they wanted to do an MRI and wanted my stomach to be empty, so no food or water. My nursing body was ravaged by 5:00 PM that evening when I finally ate. Thrown into an unexpected, unplanned whirlwind-of-a-day, by its end, I was exhausted and shaken.

I was admitted to the hospital for further monitoring, so now in a legitimate hospital bed, with Ryan on the couch to the left and hospital food on a table to the right, I remember sinking back into the pillows and looking up. How are we here...how? I was just in a hospital having Emmy. We were just in this scene...how are we here? I could have never guessed 8 months prior that I would be in the hospital again, this time just for me. "Life sure knows how to throw curves," I finally thought. If only I could have perceived the  next throw coming.

"The doctor is on the phone with your MRI results," my nurse said. I answered, and a bubbly, busy-sounding female doctor responded. "Okay! So your MRI was clean."


"Yes! Your brain is very healthy. Everything looks beautiful."

"Oh wow! Okay that's so great -- so so great. I'm kind of surprised, though. What was the gray area on my brain via the CT scan?"

"A shadow. Probably just a shadow. CT scans are like watching an old, black and white TV; MRI's are like watching a new, HD TV. We have a perfect read on you from the MRI, and all of the images are clean. Yes the CT scan -- probably just a shadow. Have a good night now! Goodbye."

Ryan and I looked at each other, positively shocked. He kissed my forehead, then beaming he said, "You are not going anywhere! You have a beautiful, healthy, strong brain." He kissed my lips. I smiled, so, so grateful. Then I slept.

The first read on the lumbar puncture's results came back the next morning, and like the happy MRI, they were clean. Nothing was wrong with my body - no disease, no virus, nothing. Thus the doctors chalked up the whole experience as a "complicated migraine with neurological side effects." Sometimes, they said, you can have a migraine + its symptoms without having a headache (I didn't have any pain before going to the hospital, just numbness). Looks like I had. Sometimes the body will go numb with a migraine. Looks like mine had.

And so we went home. Grateful - absolutely grateful and relieved. No stroke, MS, or virus. But I almost couldn't embrace the fact since the next curve ball was already being thrown. The dull, pounding pain in my head - the "spinal headache" as a result of the lumbar puncture - it worsened with every step as I left the hospital, and by the time I got home, I could not get out of bed. My head throbbed, pulsed, and pounded when I sat up. I was told the headache would go away in 3-4 days, but 6 days later of being bedridden front the pain, per doctor's orders, back to the ER we went.

A modern medicinal miracle is that someone, somewhere realized that a "blood patch" would instantly stop the incredible pain from a spinal headache. Taking nearly a half cup of blood from the arm and inserting it into the spine would create a plug around the spinal fluid leaking from the spinal column, which was the cause of the excruciating, unending spinal headache. The pain would be gone via the blood patch -- instantly. And so yet another big, long needle was inserted into my spine, this time with my blood extracted straight from my arm. And as I was told, the pain was gone. Instantly. The scary curveball game I had unexpectedly been thrown into one week before was over.

An entire month has passed since this little health scare rattled our world over here. Each day that has passed has left me feeling stronger. Literally every day, I've been just a little better - just a little stronger, just a little more steady. I can say confidently now that I feel completely healthy, and I am so grateful for that. While the migraine diagnosis was an absolute blessing, it also left me shaken in a different way after coming home from the hospital -- migraines can come back. That whole episode could happen to me again. But I am a mom and I don't get time off. That cannot happen to me again...the thought about why it happened and if the freakish, "complicated migraine" would strike again left me with a lot of feelings, almost all of them springing up from anxiety. So it's been another unexpected journey to get to this point of feeling fully recovered. I'm not worried about getting sick again. Yes, it could happen. But I've been digging deep and praying and studying things out, and I know why it happened - I know why I crashed - and I do not have to crash again. Just as all good life experiences do, I know what my mind, body, and spirit need better now more than ever (and I've worked hard for a lot of years to know what my mind, body, and spirit need)! I hope to write about what I've realized and am learning about real, deep self-care soon...it is changing my life, and thus Ryan's and the girls' lives. Entirely for the better.

Thank you for reading today's novel, friend. Thank you for being here. This old blog has been around for a while now (nearly six years!), and while I've been spotty with writing consistently, the space never leaves my mind. It is somewhere I go every day, actually. As I encounter things on this sweet + sour Life ride, I almost always process things by writing about whatever I'm going through - words just run in my head - and I always end the thoughts with the wish that I just had more time to sit down and blog them out. This is a special place for me, and regardless of how often I'm here, it always will be. Your interest and love and presence here adds a magic that I cherish. So thank you. Thank you for being here! Thank you for your love.

I'll be back! Truly, hopefully with what I'm learning about taking care of yourself. And maybe a post or two from life in SD (IE, another post from the beach)?? Definitely a post or two of life in SD (def more from the beach ๐ŸŒž).

All my love!



Pics via -- one of the most magical playgrounds ever to grace the earth. Powerhouse Park sits right above the beach, so you just have to sit and gawk at the ocean while you play (bummer ๐Ÿ˜œ). It is the best and one of our favorite places here. I took my camera the other day when we went for a couple hours after Emmy's afternoon nap. I had to PRY the girls away after the sun set. We love you, SD!!
EMMY. Quit the perfection or else!
 Mmm my sweet Claire!
Per usual, Olivia Doll made four new friends right when we got there and ran around the playground for the entire two hours. Lucky me, I snagged one shot of my little social babe.
 More of this sweetest chica living her best life -- swings n' food. Also, pursed lips. ๐Ÿ˜
Also, baby teeth. ๐Ÿ˜
The big girls could not have been paid to leave their new friends and the game they were playing, but Emmy and I stepped away from the park to catch the full sunset...
Going (loving those people down there silhouette posing)...
SQUAD. ๐Ÿ’• Blurry but in love.
Someone walked by right then and asked if they could take our pic, and well, you never say "no" to those kind of nice people. :)

Grateful for an ordinary, perfect evening at the best park on the planet. So grateful to be healthy again!


  1. so glad you are okay! so grateful for life's beautiful experiences and for the Savior. sending love.

    1. You expressed my gratitude exactly! Thank you, sweet April. <3

  2. So glad you're feeling better! And you better believe I'm excited to read your insights! (No pressure, of course)

    1. Ever the sweetest friend. <3 I really will be back here soon with some thoughts!!

  3. I am so glad you are healthy! I am dying to know though... what changes areyou making now?! You said you have been making changes so the migraines dont come back and it is cahnging your life for the better.. and your husbands life fo rthe better, and your kids! Please tell!!! xoxoxo i love your blog more than you will ever know!!!


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