Special Announcement!

In my last blog, I wrote in some detail about our trip to Oklahoma and the vasectomy reversal surgery I had while there.  In the opening stages of the surgery, Dr. Wilson looked at a fluid sample and informed me that my sperm had heads, but no tails.  Not a huge deal; such things are to be expected 3 years after having had a vasectomy.  After the surgery I could again start producing healthy, mobile sperm that were able to get where they needed to go, but it would take approximately 3 months for everything to be at full capacity.  The chances of getting pregnant before then would be fairly slim…after all, without tails, the sperm can’t really go anywhere.  Armed with this information, Shauna and I returned home and figured we’d be able to start actively trying to get pregnant around September or so.

That was on May 16th.  Flash forward to June 3rd.  I had gone to work that morning at 8 AM, and left Shauna in bed sleeping.  On days such as this, I return home around 9:30 to pick Shauna up and we both go back to work to finish getting the store open.  On this particular day I was going about my business at work when Shauna texted me and asked if I would have a few minutes to talk when I went to pick her up.  I said I would, then went and finished whatever task I was working on and headed home.  When I pulled up, Shauna was sitting outside on the steps waiting for me; my assumption was that she wanted to vent about one of the kids or something.  She, in fact, did want to talk about one of the kids…the one that’s growing inside of her.

You see, she had taken a pregnancy test that morning and it was very, very clearly positive.  I was not surprised at all that she was pregnant; I always assumed that, even with the decreased odds because of our surgeries, we’d have good luck.  I was quite blown away, however, at how fast it happened.  Conception occured 5 days after my surgery.  It’s almost as if the universe took a good long look at me and said “you know, there just needs to more of THAT around, and I don’t think anyone should have to wait for it, either.  I’m gonna give the people what they don’t even know they want, and I’m gonna give it to them now!”  And with that, I was able to impregnate Shauna months before any medical common sense would have dictated that I’d be able to.  She was pregnant a week and a half before I was even medically cleared to begin attempting intercourse, for crying out loud.  The surreal, mind-exploding QUICKNESS of it all was pretty much the only thing I could think about, not only that day but for several days afterward.  It honestly seemed a little too good (and fast) to be true, so we decided that we would wait to tell anyone until Shauna had an ultrasound confirming that it was a healthy, viable pregnancy.  We sat on this bombshell for 2 weeks until finally, today, we went to Shauna’s ultrasound appointment and got the news we were waiting for:  the baby is right where it needs to be and is right on target as far as growth.  We were even able to see the heartbeat today.

With this confirmation, and with now having told the kids, we are now able to officially announce to the world that we are indeed pregnant.  We’re both extremely excited, but it still seems strangely unreal.  Shauna and I have both the spent the last several years thinking that our days of having babies were over, and even though we’ve went to considerable effort over the last several months to make this happen, it hasn’t quite sunk in yet.  Again, we knew we’d eventually be pregnant…but not after 5 days!  I’m sure it’ll become more real as we go to more appointments, begin to acquire more baby stuff and get prepared for The Arrival.  One thing is for sure: this baby is already as loved and wanted right now, today, as it will be on the day it is born.  I’m beyond excited to be a dad to a baby again.  I’m good at it.

And now for some good news…

I may have tested negative on Wednesday, May 30th when I needed to start those heavy meds for my infection….. but on Sunday, June 3rd, when my period was due, I tested positive!  WE’RE PREGNANT!!

The morning that I tested, I didn’t really have any reason to do so.  I just woke up, thought it was weird that my boobs were more sore than normal, noticed I wasn’t bleeding yet, and figured why not, since we had purchased a 3-pack of tests.  So I went into the bathroom and tested.  The positive line came up as quickly as the test line and immediately I was a little freaked out.  Not because I was pregnant – that was EXCITING!!!  But because I had started those antibiotics that I was not supposed to take during pregnancy.  Jarrod had already gone to work that morning, so I texted him and told him to come to get me a little early so we could chat first.  He showed up about half an hour later (but it seemed like I waited for HOURS).  I told him some other random stuff that had been going on around the house, and then handed him the pregnancy test from my pocket.  He was so happy, but also a little hesitant to be happy because of my infection issues and medications.  He couldn’t stop looking at the test in awe as we continued to discuss everything on our minds.

It was entirely unexpected, unpredicted, and highly unlikely to happen so soon.  I mean really, I ovulated only FIVE days after Jarrod’s vasectomy reversal.  And to quote Jarrod, “The recommended healing time before attempting “relations” was two weeks, and I don’t mind telling you that we have stuck unyieldingly to that medical advice, being the responsible adults that we are and whatnot.”  So I don’t know how that could have possibly happened.  Hahaha!

Like the doctor said, those sperm must’ve been waiting at the gates like racehorses, just waiting for the reversal to be done.  And BAM, pregnant!  But we’ve waited to tell anyone because first of all, the test was positive on the actual day of my period being due.  Which would have made me only 1 day short of being 4 weeks along.  That is very early to know for certain there will be a future for this tiny life.  Also, with my tubal reversal, there is a higher chance of ectopic pregnancy, and we wanted to wait until we had all our early testing and viability ultrasound done before we even told our kids and the rest of our family, let alone going public with it all.

 

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Well, today I am officially 6 weeks along, and we got our ultrasound to make sure baby is where he/she is supposed to be, and all is well!  And with that information we were able to tell the kids and other family members…. and now share it with the world!  We are so excited that this happened, especially so quickly!  Baby is due February 11, 2019. There will be plenty of updates along the way!  So stay tuned…

Not The Boobies! (part 2)

….to continue this infection “adventure”…

I went to the Infectious Disease specialist, Dr. Kumar, and he noticed right away how knowledgeable I was, and how much research I had done on my own.  In a way, I think that helped him communicate with me.  He was showing me scholarly articles that I had already read on my own to better explain my situation.  Jarrod and I both agreed it would have been a bit more encouraging if he had just been able to tell us the information rather than site articles, though.

Between Dr. Kumar, Dr. Coster, and another doctor, we worked up a plan to get rid of the infection the safest, hopefully fastest way.  But it won’t be pretty:  After showing improvement with the 2 antibiotics, it was decided to bring it down to one for safety, removing the Cipro.  I continue to see gradual improvement with just the one, and it has been a week since it was changed.  Next Thursday (a week from today), Dr. Coster will surgically open and debride the infection, removing all fluids and infected tissue, and then leaving the wound open to heal from the inside out.  This is to eliminate the environment where the bacteria are thriving, and make the single antibiotic as effective as possible.  (Don’t worry, I won’t post photos.)  Once the open wound has healed entirely, and the infection is 100% healed as well, Dr. Coster will then surgically remove the scar tissue and make my breast cosmetically correct again.

My estimated treatment will be approximately 6 months long.  I’m hoping though, with the slight improvement I’ve already gotten, that I won’t have to be on meds that long.  I hope it heals faster than that.

Another piece of this puzzle won’t be figured out for a few weeks yet either.  We know I have the rare atypical mycobacteria infection, but we don’t know which strain or which medication it is most sensitive to.  Those tests take about 6 weeks to get results back.  Once those results are back, perhaps I can be on the one antibiotic that will knock this out the fastest… still hoping for a quicker recovery.

But I know these things take time.  I’m trying to keep myself out of the intensive research and anxiety, keep my eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel and the wonderful man supporting me, and remember this too shall pass.  I have a great team I’m working with, and this will get better.

Not The Boobies! (part 1)

As most everyone knows by now, I had a breast reduction on September 1, 2017.  It was a pretty drastic reduction, but was deemed medically necessary because of the pain it was causing my back, shoulders, neck, skin, etc.  I was excited to get it done!  The surgeon, Dr. Coster, assured me he wouldn’t go too small, since I felt it was a part of my identity.  However, immediately after the surgery I was extremely unhappy with the results.  The pain from having large breasts was gone right away, but I felt he went WAY too small.  He again assured me that with healing, they would settle and be exactly what I wanted.  I had no choice but to take his word for it.  As the settling of my breast tissue progressed, it felt lumpy and bumpy and sometimes painful.  But overall, it wasn’t a terrible process.  I must say though, still not too thrilled with how small he went, I would have been happy with about another cup size larger.  But there’s really nothing to be done about that now but accept it and move on.

Fast forward to 6 months later, in March of this year.  There was a painful lump about maybe the size of a large marble that was not going away in the top part of my right breast.  I made an appointment and talked to Dr. Coster about it, and he told me it was still settling breast tissue, and not to worry too much about it.  But it didn’t go away.  And it continued to be painful.

In April I had an unrelated illness, a tonsil infection, for which I was given 3 weeks of antibiotics and steroids for the inflammation.  To my surprise, the lump in my breast went away as the tonsil infection went away.  I really didn’t think much of it until the steroids and antibiotics were done.  About a week later, the lump in my breast came back.  I made an appointment, and in the 4-5 days it took until that appointment date, the lump quadrupled in size and became much more painful.

Still, when I saw the Dr. Coster toward the beginning of May, he told me it was just settling breast tissue, and I explained what happened with the course of treatment I had for my tonsil and stressed the pain and concern I had.  So he gave me some stronger antibiotics.  They did no good, so after a week I was prescribed the same antibiotics I had been on for my tonsil.  So another week later, the antibiotics had not worked, and he did an ultrasound.  He found a pocket of fluid, and aspirated some of it with a needle (NO fun at all, I say!!).  He sent me home with more of the same antibiotic and low-dose steroids.  It started to do a little better with the steroids, but as the dose decreased, the swelling increased again.  No relief.

1 day before my next appointment I got a call from the nurse saying the fluid they aspirated had been sent to the lab and cultured.  The nurse said the result was a super-rare bacteria in the same family as Tuberculosis.  She said to keep my appointment and the surgeon would explain in more detail and discuss treatments during that appointment.  So yeah, if you know me, you know I want as much information as possible for whatever new thing happens to me or a loved one, medically.  Science and medicine fascinate me.  So I scoured the internet for information about TB-type infections of adipose tissue (fat tissue).  I found a large number of options of what the infection could be, looked up case studies, and went to bed that night knowing this would be a very long process.

The next day at my appointment, Dr. Coster told me this was a non-tuberculosis atypical mycobacterial infection.  That is basically a long way of saying this is a very, very stubborn and medicine-resistant infection that will take anywhere from 3 to 12 months or more to heal with the proper antibiotics and the potential for surgery to remove infected tissue.  Seems it has a slightly rising occurrence in post-surgical patients, but usually with breast augmentation rather than reduction.  No known cause other than just environmental exposure.  He had only ever seen one other case in his entire career, and he’s a pretty experienced surgeon.  He also said NO PREGNANCIES because nothing about the treatment is pregnancy-safe.  He gave me two antibiotics which have some pretty severe possible side effects – Ciprofloxacin and Clarithromycin, and this note.

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It says: Go ahead with Clarithromycin, Stop trying to get pregnant, Once you have a negative pregnancy test, add in the Cipro.

This was on Wednesday, May 30th.  Jarrod and I had been actively trying to get pregnant, so there was a very small chance that I could have conceived during the 2 weeks since his vasectomy reversal.  I took an early-detection pregnancy test that day, being only a couple days from my expected period, and it was very clearly and plainly negative.  So I started taking both medications immediately.

As of today, 6 days later, there has been no improvement.  The lump is a little bigger, and now takes up about 1/3 of my entire breast.  It is painful, and I can no longer go without wearing a bra to bed, which is miserable for me.  My skin is discolored where the lump is, and without the medical knowledge of this possibility, I am concerned this infection will come through the skin.

I have an appointment with a specialist at the Center for Infectious Disease tomorrow (Wednesday), and hopefully he will have answers as to what medications will certainly work.  Hopefully the lab culture results have come back to show what medications this bacteria is sensitive to, and we can hit it hard and kill it!  At this point I am open to anything, even surgical, to get this gone as fast as possible.  Neither Jarrod nor I want to wait an entire year or longer to get pregnant, considering our ages and the financial and emotional investments we’ve made in our reversal surgeries.  But I know being healthy first should be my first priority.  I just want this bacteria out of my body!!!  It’s not welcome here, dammit!

It is also very important to mention here that Jarrod has been amazing through this all.  In our 9 months together, he has been there for me through my tummy tuck and breast reduction, a couple nasty tonsil infections, of course my tubal reversal surgery, and now this.  Seems I just can’t stay healthy these days.  But he is absolutely amazing, supportive, helpful, and always listens to my rants and anxieties, and puts up with my ridiculous amount of intensive research that is admittedly entirely excessive.  He’s the absolute best husband and best friend, and I don’t know what I would do without him by my side.

To be continued in “Part 2” once I have some more answers, and perhaps some progress in the right direction…..

The Reversal

I could razzle dazzle you with all manner of linguistic gymnastics to explain why I haven’t written a new blog in literally months, but it would just be an elaborate smokescreen, you see, to obscure the truth, which is that I was simply too lazy to write one.  There has no been shortage of things to write about, as you will soon see, and in fact the sheer volume of goings-on around here is proving a little overwhelming; it’s been so long since I’ve written anything, and so much has transpired in the meantime, that I’m not altogether sure how to tackle this thing.  I guess we’ll figure it out, or not, together.

I’m going to try to keep this particular post contained more or less to one subject, because otherwise it’s doomed to become an unwieldy, lumbering behemoth.  Besides, there are many things, good and not so good, happening around here, all of which are worthy of their own post.  Throwing too much into this one would just dilute their individual significance.  I know better than to promise anything with regards to how frequently I’m going to write new posts, but I will say that I INTEND to write more often, and give all these things the attention they deserve.  For now, I’m sure you will be delighted to know that the subject of this one will be the loose, dangly collection of objects I carry around with me wherever I go: my testicles.

You see, on the way back from Colorado (where we got married, you’ll remember), Shauna and I discussed at length what it would be like to have kids together.  It really just amounted to a fun conversation to help pass the time during the long car ride; after all, we had both had the necessary procedures to prevent us from ever being able to have more kids.  In order for us to have kids together, it would involve both of us having surgeries to reverse those procedures, which would involve a lot of money, travel, and recovery time…at the end of which we would have diminished odds of actually conceiving, anyway.  We ended the conversation by basically saying sure, it would be awesome to have kids together, but we simply met each other too late in life for that to happen.  The subject didn’t really come up again until this spring, when we were laying in bed and one or the other of us said something, and the other one said something back, and next thing you know we were on a plane to North Carolina to get Shauna’s tubes untied.

We scheduled my vasectomy reversal at a clinic (brilliantly named “The Reversal Clinic”) in the town of Muskogee, Oklahoma – a town immortalized in the classic song “Okie From Muskogee” by Merle Haggard.  Because of my love for this song, I had high hopes that we were headed for a town where even squares can have a ball; where they still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse, and where white lightnin’s still the biggest thrill of all.  Instead, we drove into this shithole town during one of the most vicious rainstorms I’ve seen in all my born days, and the only bad thing about that is that the whole town didn’t get washed out to sea in the process.  There were so many things to dislike about the city of Muskogee, OK that for me to dig too deep into it would threaten to overtake this entire post, but suffice it to say that, you know, maybe don’t go there.  Unless you want a cheap vasectomy reversal.

Anyway, my surgery was done by one Dr. Wilson, who was kind of a weird guy, and in fact the whole experience was kind of weird.  Shauna and I walked into the clinic to find not a single soul to greet us, but instead a note saying someone would be with us soon.  Eventually Dr. Wilson showed up, got me checked in, then retreated to the back to put on scrubs and get the procedure underway.  This seemingly one-man operation did not immediately feel me with confidence that my nards were about to literally be in the hands of a qualified professional, but I decided to go with the flow because YOLO, I guess.  I was awake for the procedure (a local anesthetic was used to numb the area) and Shauna was allowed to be in the room with me.  From her vantage point she was able to see a lot of what was going on (I, thankfully, could not).  Fortunately she has a healthy curiosity and interest in such things and the sight of my scrotum flayed open like a butterflied pork chop didn’t gross her out.  The whole thing took about 90 minutes or so, and then we were on our way.  Dr. Wilson, I salute you, wherever you may be.AFE93127-DABE-40FE-9DA8-D683465B8A6E (1)

We stopped at a pharmacy to pick up a couple prescriptions, and then went to the bed and breakfast where we were to spend the night.  It was good, not great; by Muskogee standards it was probably the Ritz, but Shauna and I are from Newton, IA where perfection is demanded and bullshit of any kind is NEVER tolerated.  The next morning we got on the road and headed home.  The recommended healing time before attempting “relations” was two weeks, and I don’t mind telling you that we have stuck unyieldingly to that medical advice, being the responsible adults that we are and whatnot.  We’re both realistic about our expectations…and to be sure, they are tempered a bit by other things going on, particularly health issues that Shauna is currently dealing with.  Now that I’m more or less healed, I can absolutely say that I am incredibly happy that Shauna and I went through all of this.  It was pretty overwhelming at times (the general tone of this post doesn’t really let you know some of the actual anguish we had to go through to make all of this happen, but as they say, we laugh so that we don’t cry).  I’m glad it’s all done, I’m beyond excited to be able to have another kid (or kids), and there is no one on Earth who I’d rather go on this journey with.  Shauna…you are amazing.

The Follow-Up

Earlier this week I had my tubal reversal follow-up appointment with the doctor I chose to be my OBGYN here in our hometown, Dr. Johnson.  He’s new to the clinic, and has quite a lot of experience in his field.

To back up a little bit, I did have a consultation with him before my tubal reversal.  I wanted to get a check up with a doctor and discuss my overall health and age in regards to going through another pregnancy or more.  He informed me at that time that a tubal reversal is not a simple surgery that I will have an easy time finding a doctor for (he didn’t know I was looking into Dr. Monteith yet), and that it wasn’t cheap.  He recommended I look into in vitro instead.  He also said that natural fertility decreases after age 35, and even more after 40…  And that there is a risk with pregnancy after c-section (which I’ve had 2), no matter how long it had been.  That the scar tissue can cause a problem with placenta attachment, and even embryo attachment.  He wasn’t necessarily discouraging me from being pregnant, but he was laying out all the risks for me, which is exactly what I wanted.  No nonsense.  I told him I was already looking into a specialist to reverse my tubal, and he wished me good luck.

To Jarrod and I went to North Carolina, as I’ve already written about.  We had a fantastic experience with Dr. Monteith at A Personal Choice, and he sent my surgical records and after-care instructions to Dr. Johnson.

Then, as I was saying, I had my follow-up with Dr. Johnson this week.  He took all of Dr. Monteith’s instructions very seriously, which I’m very pleased with.  Said everything was very thorough, and read to me exactly what I am to do when I get a positive pregnancy test.  Which is: get in to see him as soon as possible, start getting regular blood draws to check my hormone levels, and when they are high enough have an ultrasound to check for proper implantation of the embryo.  From then on, take care of myself and prepare for a baby!

Jarrod’s vasectomy reversal is scheduled for May 16th, so it won’t be long at all now!  He will post about his experience when it’s all said and done.  We’ve heard different things about how it will go afterwards.  Some people say it could take months for his sperm count to climb up to impregnation levels.  Some people say he has the chance at getting me pregnant right away.  But Jarrod and I both agree – it will happen when it happens.  We aren’t concerning ourselves with following a calendar or stressing out over any of it.  We both believe we will conceive soon enough.  If, after a year or so, nothing has happened yet, we will talk to the doctor about testing.  At this point, I think we would deny any fertility treatments if it came to that.  But that’s so far into the future right now… we figure we will cross that bridge if and when we come to it.

 

Featured Image: © Erica Wexler http://surrealismartbyericawexler.bigcartel.com/

Reversed

Jarrod and I got married very quickly.  Within 10 days of making our relationship official, we had run off and eloped without telling many people until it was already done.  In the days leading up to our marriage, the entire trip there and back, and the months since then, we have discussed the possibility a few times of having more children.  The first couple times it came up, we knew we wanted to have a baby together, but we also knew our relationship was very new, and we needed to have some experiences and life together before we made any more life-changing, permanent decisions.  Not to mention our 6 kids needed to live together and get to know each other as well.  Lots of changes occurred all at once, and we all needed time to adjust to that new life as a family.

Earlier this year, the topic came up again, and Jarrod and I really got into the details of it all.  We talked about how having a baby of our own would affect our relationship, our kids, our careers, and all other aspects of our lives.  We discussed how we both yearned to have a baby together, in a stable and healthy relationship where we would share parenting responsibilities 50/50.  We know we are a great team in the other aspects of our life together, and we decided we would be amazing parents together to a new baby.  Not to mention the great help we would have from the six older siblings!

The problem with this plan: I got a tubal ligation when I had my youngest son Cory back in 2005 (a decision I regretted immediately).  And Jarrod had a vasectomy a few years ago when he and his ex wife divorced.  So, I started doing research to get those surgeries reversed.  Within a few days of starting the research, I had applied at 3 tubal reversal clinics with my surgical report and medical history.  I was denied by one place because of previous c-sections and scar tissue.  I never heard back from one.  And the place that accepted me was the one I wanted to go to anyway – lucky me!!  For Jarrod’s reversal, there really was no acceptance process since vasectomies are typically all done about the same.  We just chose a reputable place closer to us at an affordable price.

And that, my friends, is why we went to North Carolina this week!  I think everyone was just under the impression we went on a small vacation.  But really, it was for my tubal ligation reversal surgery.  The rest of this post will be about the story of our trip, so read on to know how it all went!

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Greeting from hotel staff upon arrival to our room, our pin in the patient map, me ready for surgery, and the clamps from my Fallopian tubes.

Jarrod and I flew out to Raleigh, North Carolina to go to A Personal Choice‘s surgeon Dr. Charles Monteith.  When we arrived in Raleigh, we checked into our studio suite at Hyatt House, which we got for a very reasonable discounted rate through A Personal Choice.  The room was absolutely amazing.  The bathroom had a very large walk-in shower, it had a very comfy king sized bed, and there was a living room area with a couch and TV, and a full kitchen complete with stove, microwave, fridge with freezer and dishwasher!  The neighborhood was urban, but new and clean.  There was plenty to do right within walking distance.  Movies, restaurants, entertainment, and even a pharmacy for my post-op pain meds.  To get to my appointments, there was a driving service set up through the clinic.  I was able to get rides back and forth to my pre-op consultation on Tuesday, my actual surgical procedure on Wednesday, and my post-op check up on Thursday through their service.  They were prompt and courteous, and made Jarrod and I both feel important.

On Tuesday, my pre-op consultation was pretty simple.  I got all checked in with my ID and a few remaining papers to sign, as most of the paperwork had already been done from home with their guidance.  Jarrod and I met with a couple nurses and Dr. Monteith himself, and we had the procedure explained to us.  Then we went back to the hotel and found a few things to do to keep busy.  We went out for supper, and went to a movie, and enjoyed the much warmer weather.

On Wednesday morning I checked in at 8:45 am for outpatient surgery, and was released around 12:30 pm.  It was a very quick, easy process.  All of the nurses, anesthesiologist, and doctor were very knowledgeable and proficient in the process.  It was like clockwork.  As I was being prepped for the operating room, I was given a pin to put in the patient map.  Jarrod was given detailed instructions on how to take care of me postoperatively, and was even tested on it when I was in recovery.  As I was getting dressed and preparing to be released, they let us see the clamps that had been on my Fallopian Tubes, but they wouldn’t let us keep them.

Once back to the hotel room, Jarrod and I ordered lunch through GrubHub and just layed in bed and watched TV most of the day.  At on point we went and sat on the patio outside because I didn’t want to miss the delightful weather.  At supper time we ordered in Italian food and Jarrod ran to the pharmacy and rented a couple of Redbox movies to keep us entertained.  Unfortunately I couldn’t sleep that night more than just a few minutes here and there, though the pain really wasn’t too bad at all.  It just felt like bad menstrual cramping.

On Thursday morning we got up, got our stuff all packed up and ready to go home, and took advantage of the Hyatt House’s complimentary hot breakfast buffet, which was delicious!  Then we went to my post-op appointment where they changed my bandage and made sure I was set to travel back home.  I was okay until we spent several hours in airports and airplanes… by the time we got home I was in a great deal of pain.  I went to bed very early and slept over 10 hours.  Jarrod woke me up a couple times overnight for pain meds.  He really has been absolutely priceless.  The best caretaker I could ever ask for!

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Jarrod and I with Dr. Monteith

Anyway, so we kept the whole process hush-hush because we didn’t tell the kids about it until today.  Now all the kiddos know, with mixed reactions.  So we decided to release a blog post about it for all our family, friends and followers.  Jarrod will write a post about his reversal experience when his happens in May, so stay tuned for that.

We’re super excited that we’ve been able to start on this process, and are looking forward to what our future holds.  Thanks for reading along!

Note:
It also needs mentioning here that flying out to Raleigh and back was my very first time ever in an airplane!  I had never before experienced flying and I must say, I really enjoyed it!

 

The story of the family of Jarrod & Shauna Hesse…