Monday, February 28, 2011

A Tale of Two Doctors

Today is a big for Reagan for she goes to the doctor for her 5 year old heart check up.  Hopefully this is the last time for this sort of thing.  Let me set this story up by saying what I am about to talk about, in our opinion, is the right and wrong way for a doctor to handle a situation.

The Wrong Way
Brooke and I took Reagan to her pediatrician's office for Reagan's 3 month checkup.  We were still basking in the glow of being first time parents.  Reagan was our pride and joy.  We had no idea what we were doing- not that we are experts now but we do have this 5 and under thing down- and we leaned on the doctors for everything.  We wanted, and still want, our girls health to be the #1 priority.  Reagan's doctor at the time was a group of about 6 and there was no telling who you would see.  I remember I had two as a kid, really liking one, and that always made me going to the doctor a little easier.  So we go in for this check up and everything was going real well.  We were excited and ready to walk Reagan back home since the office was right next to our house.  As the doctor is leaving she says "well I hear something wrong with Reagan's heart, you need to go see a pediatric heart doctor."  And she walks out of the room.  If I wasn't so shocked, stunned, I might have gone after the doctor for her method of delivering the news.  After we picked our mouths off the floor, we checked out stunned and walked home.  At this point we were thinking of all possibilities.  Could be a simple murmur she would grow out of, could be one that sticks with her, could be much, much worse.  We had no clue and were given very little direction from the doctor.  We made an appointment for as soon as we good and tried every night to reassure each other that it would be no big deal.  The thought of heart surgery (which happened to a good friend of ours in Louisville) was a constant elephant in the room and always on our mind. 

The Right Way
We soon go see the doctor, who was located behind WW Cousins.   Those two things are not related other than WW makes a great burger and this Doctor was great.  I'm ashamed I cant remember his name but I do recall from the moment we walked into the office they tired very hard to reassure us and put us at ease.  Reagan, at like 3 months, had to get an ultrasound on her heart.  No big deal but still scary to any parents, let a lone first time parents.  We go back to his office and he begins to tell us what is wrong.  He does, however, first apologize for the way it was handled by her pediatrician- even though there was no connection there.  He understood our fears and thought it was the right thing to do.  He did explain that there was a murmur in Reagan's heart, basically a hole.  He felt that with time, it would close and she would be fine.  Also, one of her valves was not closed like it should be.  This too he felt would correct itself with growth.  I asked the words that always carry a lot of weight.  "Doctor, what does this mean, what does this mean she cant do?"  I was afraid she wouldn't be able to swim, play sports, or whatever options you want your kids to have.  He looked at me and said "Well she cant scuba dive and she cant date until she is 25."  The look on his face was priceless.  He knew what I was going through having our baby with a heart issue, and he knew what I would be going through having a beautiful girl.  It could not have been a better answer.

I just received word via text that the murmur is gone and the valve has closed.  Reagan is good to go. I wont pretend that this will be the last scare but its nice to be able to file this one away.  As she gets bigger, she wants to do more and more things on her own.  She recently told her class I was her favorite person and I suppose someday that might change too.  Regardless, I will support whatever she wants to do.  With that valve closing, I suppose scuba diving is back on the table.  However,  dating before 25 years old is not.  :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Its not is me.

Dear (John) UK,

I love you (The University of Kentucky) more than you could ever imagine.  I am not one of the kids that grew up dreaming about playing for you (the Kayats).  Nor do I wonder when Richie is going to play.  In fact, I grew up during a time when little brother (UofL) won two national titles.  It wasn't until 1996 did I really start to look at  you (UK).  That year your basketball team was one of if not the best ever.  You had 7 guys on that roster play in the NBA.  My favorite team ever was your 1997 team that lost in the NC game in overtime. I was on Spring Break my Sr. year and remember watching that game, it was the first time I felt upset about a UK loss.  My freshman year at your place (UK) we won another National Title and I have been hooked since.  I will also say that I am a fair fan as well. I call it like I see it and am very honest about my view of the team. This does not compare to my feelings for the University.  I loved going to school there and fully believe there is nothing in this state that compares to the atmosphere at your place (UK) on so many levels.  It was a great place to go to school.  It is where I met my wife, and where I joined my great Fraternity.  I love you (UK).

Having said that I am going to have to take a break from my U.  I am still a fan and will always cheer for you and hope you win every game.  However, I cannot watch you anymore- it is bad for my health.  After the mess that was a your football season, to what is this train wreck of a basketball season- I simply cant take it anymore.  There have been highlights of course.  Beating UofL (again) and USC in football, along with your 5th straight bowl was good.  In basketball, we beat UofL(again) among other top 25 teams but we cant win on the road.  We win by 20 at home and lose by 1 on the road in almost every game.  I cant figure it out, it drives me crazy.  So with that, I think we need to take a break.  Its not you UK, its me.  I have enough stress in my life, I don't need what our relationship has brought me this year.  We swear we are never going to do this again, we look great at home, then you go on the road.  It breaks my heart all over again.  Dont doubt my love UK- I just need a time out.  For my sanity.

With all my love,

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

All I ask for anymore.....

Yesterday Reagan went to the doctor for her five year check up.  I still cant wrap my head around the fact that she is 5.  I remember when she was born just like it was yesterday.  Anyway, just like my father used to do with me, I teased her about all the shots she was going to get.  I teased her about the things the doctor was going to do- I teased her leading up to the appointment about everything.  The moment her and her mother left I began to get nervous.  It hit my like a ton of bricks.  Just like my father, I am a bit of a catasrophizer.  I began to think about all the things that could go wrong with her check up.  There hasnt been any red flags, but you just never know.  I was anxious and needed txt messages from Brooke about their progress.  Reagan is my girl, and I didnt want anything negative to come up.  With 5 girls (counting my wife) I always have someone I love to worry about.  Every doctors appointment is an hour of walking on eggshells for me. You honestly can't imagine how amazing it feels to get a text message saying everything is okay.  It is like winning the life lottery.  I wanted nothing more than to hug her when she got home.  I used to ask for a lot (ask Mom and Dad)- from Nintendo games, to  Air Jordans, to clothes, cars, money etc. now I simply ask for the health of my loved ones.  I want them to be happy, loved, and healthy.  That is all I ask for  anymore.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

War Eagle!

I love Paul Fienbaum.  He is based out of Birmingham and spends almost his entire radio show talking SEC sports.  It was, without question, the best part of satellite radio (well outside of the playboy channel of course).   You can listen to him on line so if you sit in front of your computer all day like me, email me and I will send you his link. This show always has the "best" of the south represented on it.  For those who know about the "is Ritchie going to play tonight?" callers, you get that on a regional level.  Since he is based between Auburn and Bama, most of his callers are fans of those two schools.  Not too long after Auburn won the NC in football, a guy called the show saying he had poisoned the oak trees at Auburn.  I am not sure anyone believed him at first, now unfortunately it seems to be trueToomers Corner.

Let me tell you a bit about the trees.  Auburn's campus is a beautiful campus.  It isn't the easiest to get to, (actually closer to Atlanta) but it has that great southern feel to it.  The buildings and the trees are all uniform and all very southern.  No, 70's architecture like some of UK's campus.  Another great aspect of the campus is Toomer's Corner.  Its where everyone goes after an Auburn win and toilet papers the 130 year old oak trees.  This is one of the greatest  (oddest) traditions in college sports and one that is multi generational.  It is a grand tradition that I have been lucky enough to witness.  Now it seems as though those trees will die. After testing the soil it appears that there is more than enough poison to kill the trees.  This isn't like some statue that got paint thrown on it.  Replacing 130 year old oak trees is impossible.  Because of one crazy Alabama fan (who named his kids Bear and Crimson-seriously) this irreplaceable part of college football in the south is dying a slow death.  I do however want to thank him, he now proves that there are crazier people out there than UK Basketball fans.  Now being upset with 10 loses in a season doesn't seem to be so crazy.

While this doesn't fall on the level of dog fighting, or drunk driving manslaughter it is still sad.  Somewhere at the loveliest village on the plains, there is an eagle with a tear in his eye. 

Check out this great video from ESPN

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Day of Love

Last night I surprised my wife with two photos for Valentines Day.  It was a surprise because 1) it wasn't Valentines Day just yet 2) because we never celebrate Valentines Day, and 3) because I made such a big deal about "forgetting her card."  Both of the photos I purchased her while in Charleston a few weeks back. One is of the live oak tree above ( I love live oaks, their symbolism, and I hope to someday live where they can as well), called the Angel Oak.  A second was of a plantation her and I found while driving some back roads in April when we both were down there.  Score some big brownie points for Boomer.

Anyway, I fashion myself as the occasional wordsmith and this past weekend I was trying to figure out what was the best way to tell someone you love them?  You could try the basic...I love you.  Tried and true but perhaps a bit overused.  We say it when we are younger not knowing what it really means, and after a while it sort of loses its luster.  You can try and be poetic....Reagan, I love you more than all the stars in the sky and the fishes in the sea.  That works pretty well with a 5 year old but probably wouldn't work on my wife. So this past weekend, while driving some back roads of Florida, I tried hard to come up with what I thought was the best way to tell someone like your wife that you love them.  I thought of song lyrics, scripture, etc. and finally it hit me thinking about the 10 years I have spent with Brooke.

It hasn't always been easy, there have been struggles.  Health, money, stress, jobs, etc.  There have been some amazing times too, mostly revolving around family, some professionally, and the list goes on.  I think when you look at all the good you have shared with someone you love, considering all the bad that has happened, and then add all that up.  Take that outcome and if you can look your partner in the eye and say, "I would do it all over again" that is one of the best ways to tell them you love them.

So tonight I hope you share some time with someone you love.  I hope even more you can look them in the eye and tell them, that no matter what has happened in the past- with them, you would do it all over again.

Happy Valentines Day!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Wow- how time flies

Dear Reagan:

I am sitting here in this hotel room in Jacksonville Florida.  It was a beautiful sunny day down here and there is a great palm tree outside of my window.  Despite the fact that I cant imagine why anyone lives anywhere else, I cant wait to get home tomorrow.  I have to be at the airport by 5:30 in the morning but I know I wont sleep tonight.  I never do before early flights but tonight I will be especially jacked up.  Reason is Reagan, tomorrow is your 5th birthday and I cannot wait to see you.  I cant begin to imagine where these past 5 years have gone?  I seemingly remember every little detail from the days around your birth.  Going out the night before for dinner (Bahama Breeze), watching the Winter Olympics all night long because I couldn't sleep, the long anticipation the day you were to come.  Your hiccups that were amplified by the monitors- the whole period was like Christmas to me.  I didn't know how I would react once you were here, this was my first rodeo.  The minute I saw you, I began to cry.  You were the most beautiful person I had ever seen and I knew the greatest thing to ever happen to me.  I cried, and to be honest I haven't stopped since.  I have done a lot of wrong in my life and made a lot of mistakes.  Despite that I must have done something right because God has given me you girls.  Y'all in turn give me hope, inspiration, love, comfort, and reason for being.  With you specifically, I see all that is right with the world and I see a great friend. 

In some ways, you are Andy from Toy Story and I am Woody.  I know that someday you will outgrow me as Andy does Woody and that painful thought is never too far from every single one of my heartbeats. Always.  It still pains me to drop you off at school, knowing you are growing more and more independent.  When I see that you told your whole class that your Daddy is your favorite person on Earth, that means more to me than you could possibly imagine.  I will keep those moments with me forever, knowing it may not always be that way.  I know how you feel though because I always felt that way about my father.

Your Mother and I work very hard to give you everything you need and most of what you want.  We will always do so as long as it is possible and it is our privilege.  To be honest, I think the thing I am most of proud of is what a good girl you are.  You take such amazing care of your younger sisters, I know they are always in good hands when you are around.  That to me is your way of repaying your Mom and I for our hard work, at the very least it lets us know that perhaps we are raising our kids properly. 

I cant believe its been 5 years Reagan, I just cant believe it. Where has the time gone?  You've gotten to be such a big girl.  I remember the first few nights listening to you cry, watching you sleep, and playing with your toys for the first time.  I think about when you learned to crawl, walk, hug, your struggles talking, and your lack of hair for so long.  I wish I could bottle up my little girl and keep that forever.  I love the young girl you have become and look forward to see the woman that you are meant to be but I will always cherish my baby Reagan.  Who knows what the future holds for us. I pray it holds lots of date nights between you and I, snuggle time watching TV, UK games, baseball games, and "sit beside me daddy."  No matter what, you are the purest joy in my life and I thank God everyday for giving you to me.  I love you Reagan and Happy Birthday.  May God give you health, happiness, and all the love you could ever want.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"In the deep dark hills of Eastern Kentucky...."

Justified is one of my (if not the) favorite shows (Great Ad for Season 2) and thankfully it returns for its second season tonight.  I also think that Raylen Givens is one of the best characters on TV.  Part of me likes the character because a lot of my work friends think I resemble Raylen in looks and moreso in the way I carry myself.  Both of which I consider a compliment.  There is a lot to like about the show.  For the most part I feel it represents Kentucky well.  It is pretty true to form and Raylen is a dude anyone from Kentucky can be proud of.  Not to mention the women of the show are hot. I dont get excited about a lot on TV (that isnt around a sporting event) so for me to be excited about tonight says a lot.  Normally you never see anything positive about Kentucky on TV unless it is something on the History channel.  SitComs never miss a chance to take pot shots at Kentucky and Dramas avoid this state like the plague.  Justified is FX's highest rated show ever and while it does have some of the stereotypes in it, it is something a proud Kentuckian can hang his hat on.  The story lines are pretty good and to me, the show is like a KY version of the Sopranos .  So tonight after Reagan's party is over and the girls are asleep I will watch this event. 

(Song from the end of the show last year)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Stay safe Hadley


We are 27 weeks into this thing and with each passing day you get closer and closer to being in my arms.  As long as I live, I will never forget the day I thought I had lost you.  It was the lowest moment of my life.  See, your Mom and I believe that life starts at conception.  Despite the fact that we had three other girls, we prayed for you.  We prayed God would give us you, then we prayed that he would take care of you.  That prayer will always be the first one we ask for.  I see you growing in your Mom's belly and feel you on a nightly basis.  I am losing patience because I want to see you.  Will you have blue eyes like Baylor Grace?  Hair like Carolina?  Maybe you will have Reagan's grace.  Regardless, you will be ours and we are so excited to have you.  But this week one of our good friends lost their baby.  It is the second time in a row this happened to them and I find myself wondering why such things happen?  To be honest, I wonder why we are so lucky?  I guess MaMaw is correct, God wants me to raise these girls.  So with recent events in my mind, I simply ask that you stay in your Mother's belly.  Stay there where it is warm, eat, and grow.  I can wait.  Its a lesson of a parent you know, you put your own feelings aside for whatever is best for your kids.  I want to hold you so bad but it can wait.  Someday before we know it, I will do my best to keep you warm in my arms.  My body heat did as much to your sisters.  They get near me, snuggle up on me, and all pass out.  To this day, it is still one of my favorite things for them to do. 

Before I go, there are a couple more things I wish to tell you.  We decided for your middle name to give you my first.  Hadley Blaine.  Your MaMaw gave me that name long ago and I never used it much.  It is a pretty name and I think it will suit you just fine.  Someday you will give away your last name, hopefully your middle name will help you remember your old man and how much I loved you, when I am long gone.  Speaking of your MaMaw.....we are going to ask her to be your Godmother.  She was the best mother I could ever ask for, so symbolically- we felt it was only fitting to ask her to stand next to you when you get baptized into our Catholic faith.  She has the soul of a Saint and we figured it would be necessary considering who we want to be your Godfather.  When you get to know your Pops you will think he isn't a very religious guy and if your measurement of that is how many times someone attends Mass, you would be correct.  Deep down though, he is a very spiritual man and I believe getting more so as he gets older.  While the walls might crack when he enters the church, hopefully my Mother will balance it out a bit.  Pops is a good man and will make sure you are always taken care of.  The balance of MaMaw and Pops is perfect for our new baby girl.  PawPaw will be there and bring you into the Church and Uncle Patrick and Aunt Sarah will be right there be our sides.  It will be a beautiful moment but it can wait.  Just like the first time I hold you.

Take care Hadley, stay warm.  Don't rush things too much, you will be here soon enough and once you're out here, the other girls wont leave you a lone.  Trust me. 

Love always,