Physical & Emotional Changes & Challenges Since Leaving the Hospital

Good morning!!  I can’t start this post without saying THANK YOU for all the love all my last post.  You guys are truly amazing.  I am so lucky to have the best friends (blog friends included!!) and family in the world.  I have cried a LOT of happy tears with all the support I have received over the last few months.  It truly means the world to me.  

As promised, today’s post will detail all the crazy physical and emotional changes I have been through over the last few months.  While the physical changes are drastic, the emotional roller coaster I have been on is even more crazy.  

I never have been a fan of the scale.  Personally, I have always just gone on how my clothes fit and how I feel.  To me, this allows me to have a better mindset and relationship with my body.  The number on the scale can be misleading and it’s just not something I have cared about for a long time.  

I have never been one to share my weight online…not because I don’t want to, but because I don’t think it matters and I don’t like the idea of people comparing themselves to others.  But for the purpose of this post, I will share my before and after weight to detail the dramatic changes my body has gone through since I first got sick.  It has been 3 months since I first got sick and began losing weight.  

Before I got sick, my weight was 132 lbs (I only know this because of doctor visits).  I have maintained this weight (give or take a few pounds) for around the last 10 years.  My body is happy at this weight and I was proud of all the muscle I worked hard for over the last few years.  After about a month of being sick (throwing up for 3-4 days every week for 5 weeks (before I ended up in the hospital), I had lost 15-20 lbs.  I felt sick every time I would eat and once the throwing up episodes would begin, they would last for days and it felt like they were never going to end.  I didn’t have much to throw up most times, but I think just the lack of eating for that many days caused me to drop the weight so quickly.  By the end of my hospital stay I weighed 107 lbs (I got on the scale the day I got home).  I credit the IV nutrition ( I was on it for over one week) for not losing anymore weight.  

This was the day I arrived home from the hospital.  As you can see, I was as white as a ghost and scary skinny.  After about 2-3 days at home, I lost more weight, which we assume was from getting off all the fluids at the hospital (IV nutrition and saline).  I checked my weight again and I weighed 97 lbs (now up to a 35 lb weight loss).  This was very scary for me to see as I haven’t seen that number since… I’m guessing middle school.  I could feel people judging me everywhere I went (I even had complete strangers ask me if I eat and tell me that I am too skinny).  

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The crazy part of this was that I was actually eating more than I ever have and eating things I haven’t eaten in years.  I was eating milkshakes (see below!), chips, very high calorie smoothies, ice cream, chocolate, etc. Because I basically hadn’t eaten in 3 months, my stomach shrank so I would get very uncomfortably full VERY fast so I had to eat food just a little bit at a time.  It was hard not to get to the point of almost puking every time I ate because I was SO hungry, but would get super full after just a few bites.  My body was craving salt and carbs and sweets like I never had before.  I would get full really quickly, but then hungry (RAVENOUS) after about 30 minutes so I felt like I was eating constantly.  My family said they have never seen me eat like that before in my life.  

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These pictures were taken a few days after I got discharged from the hospital.  You can see the weight loss and also where they made the incisions.  The two strips on the right are where the went in laparoscopicly (with a camera) for the procedure and the strip over my belly button is where they eventually made the large incision to be able to resection my bowel.  At this point I didn’t care if the incision was over my entire stomach, I was just beyond grateful they found something they could fix.  That being said, the incision is much smaller than I thought it would have to be, which I am thankful for.   

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I am really looking forward to fitting back into some of my clothes and being able to wear my wedding rings again.  As of this week, I am up about 7 lbs since my lowest weight, which I think is a really good start!

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There are quite a few other physical changes that have occurred over the last few months.  The next one is exhaustion.  While in the hospital, I was exhausted all the time (the medications definitely played a role in this) because I was still not eating.  I have mentioned this before, but the way doctors usually deal with a partial bowel blockage is to starve the bowel (aka fasting in hopes the obstruction will disappear).  The whole time I was in the hospital I was not eating (which was extremely hard because I was STARVING).  After every 4 or 5 days, they would try to begin me on a liquid or soft food diet, but I would get sick very quickly so it was always back to fasting.  This made me extremely exhausted all of the time.  I slept a lot because of this, which was good so it would pass the time.  Once I got home from the hospital, I was exhausted.  I wasn’t feeling bad, just very tired all of the time.  I spent most of the first few days at home in my bed or on the couch.  I would have to lay down after walking up one flight of stairs or standing for a few minutes.  I contribute not being able to eat full meals at lots of calories (because I would get full so fast) to this level of exhaustion as well.  Thankfully, by the end of the first week I was able to take my dogs on short walks around the block and able to stand for longer periods of time.   By the second week home I had much more energy and was also able to eat more food in one sitting.  

Another big physical change that occurred while I was sick was hair loss.  I was shedding hair like crazy while in the hospital and still am now.  The lack of nutrition really had an effect on my hair, but thankfully I have a LOT to spare.  I have always had really thick hair so I have been lucky you can’t really tell a difference.  I finally got my hair cut last week, which was so very needed.  I can’t even begin to explain how good it felt. 

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The first time I have done my hair in a LONG time.  A task I used to dread has now become something I look forward to.  

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My teeth went through a big change too.  With the lack of nutrients, my teeth were not as white as they usually are.  Thankfully some crest white strips are helping with this. 🙂

My skin has always been more oily rather that dry, but every since I wound up in the hospital my skin was extremely dry.  The whole time I was in the hospital and up until now, I have had to use a lot of moisturizer to keep my skin hydrated and keep it from peeling.  I definitely contribute a lack of hydration from water and food to this issue too. 

Another physical change I didn’t think much of was the color of my eyes!  While in the hospital they were very dark and dull, but ever since I have been home and fueling my body properly, they have been bright and almost a greenish color.  It sure is amazing what good nutrition can do to our bodies (and what a lack of nutrition can do too).  

Besides the physical changes I have been through, my emotions have been all over the place.  It was hard not to have the attitude of “why me” while dealing with this sickness before and while in the hospital.  I take great pride in my health and have always been a very healthy person eating nutritious foods and exercising daily.  It was very emotional to go from really healthy to basically bed-bound and needing assistance for even the very small tasks like putting my slippers on.  I had good days and bad days while in the hospital, but overall it was a very stressful situation not knowing what was going on and how long I would be there.  I was very emotional seeing my family so stressed and upset about my situation too.  It was really rough on all of us.  It may seem silly, but I was really emotional being away from my doggies and feeling like they think I had abandoned them. 😦  My emotions have been much more steady since I have been home.  I still have good and bad days, but many more good days than bad.  I will share a little more about how my perspective has changed since being home in another post coming soon.  Overall, I am happier than I have ever been and so grateful that I was able to make it through this situation without losing my mind. 😉  I am so happy to be alive and to just be back to living my normal life.  

Thank you all again for all your kind words.  I hope you guys all have an amazing weekend!!! 

Questions:

  1. Any fun plans for the weekend?
  2. What are some ways you take care of your health?
  3. What are some things that helped you get through a very emotional time?

The First Few Days At Home…A Visit From My Sister, Girls Night, and Relaxing with my Pups

Hi friends!!  I am so excited to get back to regular blogging.  It may take me a little while, but I have missed blogging so much.  With all the free time I had in the hospital, you would think I would have blogged more, but honestly there wasn’t much to talk about.  I also had very little energy every day, which was saved for my laps around the nurse’s station with my IV pole. 🙂

Life has been nothing short of beautiful and amazing since I have been home.  I have spent a LOT of time outside, which has been so wonderful (I only went outside twice during my whole stay in the hospital).  I seriously feel like I got released from prison when I got discharged.  It is so nice not to be attached to anything and to be able to spend so much time out in nature.  The fresh air has never felt so good.

Today’s post is going to be a little update since getting out of the hospital and being home.  I have a few different posts planned to discuss what has been happening around here since being home (I have a whole post on all the crazy physically changes I’ve been through), but today we will just start with the first few days after being discharged and what they looked like.

My surgery was on a Friday and I got released from the hospital on Sunday.  I was ready to go HOME!  I was BEYOND excited to see my sweet babies.  I missed them so much while I was in the hospital.  Hospitals should be dog friendly.  I would have been a lot less sad if my puppies had been with me. 😉 

Sweet Callie had to be on a leash because she LOVES to jump up on me and we had to be really careful with my incision.  They were just as happy to see me as I was to see them.  They followed me everywhere and Callie did not leave my side for the next week.  

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My sister flew in from Dallas a couple days after I got home to help take care of me.  Last time she was taking care of me she was studying for her law school finals.. this time she was busy studying for the bar!  She got all the smarts in the family. 😉  My little brother and dad spent a lot of time at my house, along with my mom too who cleaned and cleaned so that I would just rest.  

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We spent the days relaxing and even made it to my mom’s pool a few times to lay outside, which was so nice.  My mom took us to get our nails done, which felt amazing.  I felt so gross and grungy while staying in the hospital so it was nice to get a little pampered.  

My mom invited my besties, Lissa and Rachael, over on Friday night for a girls night.  She bought my sister and I matching pajamas for her graduation and made sure to get some for Rachael and Lissa for our girls night.  My mom is the cutest.  

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We made lots of appetizers and pizzas to munch on while we puzzled.  

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My sister’s boyfriend’s mom sent me this fun puzzle that you get to color once it is all put together.  

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We all had a blast chatting and completing the puzzle.

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Then we celebrated some birthdays with some chocolate cake!

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Rachael and my sister’s birthdays are in June and Lissa’s is in July so we had lots to celebrate! 

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We pulled out some champagne for the occasion too.  These four girls are so important to me.  They all rallied and were beyond amazing during my stay in the hospital.  I am so lucky to have them all in my life.  

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The finished product!!

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How amazing is the rest of the care package that my sister’s boyfriend’s mom sent to me??  So thoughtful and sweet of her.  It made me feel so loved. 🙂 

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The pups were not ready for my sister to leave either.  

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I missed these kisses while I was away.  

This dog loves his stuffed friends. 🙂 

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Before dropping my sister off at the airport on Saturday, we lounged at my mom’s pool for a couple hours.  

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On Saturday evening I went to dinner with my mom and step-dad and our family friends (my husband was in Michigan for our friends’ wedding… I wasn’t able to travel that soon after surgery).  

 

 

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While I have a post coming on all the physically changes/challenges I went through/am still going through, I will say that the biggest challenge the first week after surgery was extreme exhaustion.  I couldn’t walk up the stairs without having to sit down immediately or stand for very long without having to lay down.  My body was so fatigued so I spent a lot of time watching shows and movies in bed or on the couch with my pups. 🙂  

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I took off two weeks from work after surgery, but started back on Monday this week.  I have never been more excited to work in my entire life. 🙂  My work is very flexible and my boss is extremely understanding so I am just taking it day by day and doing what I can.  I really love being back at home, in a routine, and most of all, being able to eat normally without getting sick or winding up in the ER.  Life can change in the blink of an eye, so I sure am appreciating my health like never before.  

I am SO glad to be back.. I have missed yall!!!  Tell me in the comments what you guys have been up to and how your summer is going!  I would love to hear!

Questions:

  1. What is new with you?
  2. Any fun summer plans on your agenda?
  3. Have you ever been hospitalized before?  Ever had surgery?

The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Hi yall!!  I sure have missed blogging over the past couple months!  I have some really good news to share today!  You may have heard through my family, but it not, I am so excited to share that I had a very successful surgery on Friday!  

My sweet friends, Liz and Casey, got me this healing crystal that promotes vitality and removes blockages.  Little did they know the findings that were about to come. 

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The surgery that was scheduled (laparoscopy) was an exploratory surgery to see if they could possibly find what was causing my nausea/vomiting/pain.  There was a chance they could find nothing wrong, a possible blockage, or something worse. 

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I can’t even count the number of xrays, CT scans and specialized tests I have had over the past two months.  They all showed abnormalities, but even the radiologists couldn’t pinpoint the issue. 

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My sweet family was there with me through it all.  I got to take a long nap (anesthesia), while they vigilantly checked the waiting board to see when I was finished with surgery.  It ended up being just over 2 hours in the operating room.  I can’t say enough good things about my family during this entire process.  I have said it before, but I will say it again…. I was never left alone for the entire time I was in the hospital (over 5 weeks).  My mom, dad, mother-in-law, best friend Rachael, best friend Lissa, and my sweet husband all dropped their plans to be with me at a moments notice.  They slept on the most uncomfortable chairs, watched an ungodly amount of HGTV, Food Network and murder shows, and just sat with me while I comfortably slept in bed.  I am one really really really fortunate girl.  

They say through sickness and in health, but man… that was tested this Spring.  This guy has bathed me, brushed my teeth, washed my hair, held my hand, and been my biggest supporter ever.  He had a list of questions a mile long for each and every doctor that came in my room (at least 10 per day).  I will never ever take for granted this man’s love for me.  I got a good one (sorry, ladies ;)), and I plan on keeping him forever.  He said I will repay him when I am taking care of him when we are old and grey. 🙂 

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I woke up to the best news ever!  They did have to make a bigger incision vertically over my belly button, but they were able to clearly see a stricture/narrowing in my small intestine.  It was very inflamed/dilated above that point and normal beyond it.  The stricture was 6 centimeters wide so they cut about two inches of my small bowel (intestines) out and re-attached it.  I got very lucky that it was high enough that no colostomy was needed and the incision is relatively small so the healing process should be just a few days in the hospital and some rest at home.  

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For now I am resting comfortably in the hospital.  I am really excited to have some real food for the first time in a long time.  I have a lot of catching up to do. 😉  I am really excited to gain back some weight at a healthy pace and put some muscle on my fragile little frame.  When they checked my weight this week, it was 102lbs.  I don’t think I have seen that number since middle school and I don’t plan on keeping it that way for long. 🙂 I also plan to get back to regular blogging as soon as I can.  I really have missed it.  I anticipate being at home for about a week to recover and then depending on how I feel, I will head back to work.  I can’t wait!

This entire experience has completely changed my outlook on life.  Health is so important and I will never take it for granted again.  I was in the hospital about 5 weeks and I can’t imagine being here any longer.  I can totally sympathize with those that have chronic illnesses that keep them hospitalized for months and even years.  I do not know how they do it.  Physically this experience was difficult, but mentally and emotionally was the toughest part.  Going from being so independent and free to pretty much bed-bound in the hospital was such a mental struggle.  It really tested my patience.  I am so so so lucky that my journey is coming to a beautiful end.  I made a promise to myself that I will not sweat the small stuff and I will live each day like it is my last.  Health is something I absolutely took for granted and I never will again.  This is just a small hurdle that I thankfully have been able to conquer.  One thing is for sure… I have the most amazing support system that anyone could ask for and I plan on making them each feel appreciated and loved every single day because you never know when things can change in the blink of an eye.  

I love you all so much and can never thank you enough for all the love and support you guys have shown me throughout this journey.  From the bottom of my heart, I am so so so grateful for all of you. xoxoxo

 

Hopeful While Still in the Hospital

Hi there.  I am just stopping by to check in with you all.  This past Tuesday marks 3 straight weeks in the hospital with another week on top of that before a little 3 quick days at home.  So one month in the hospital.  It has been brutal.  Mostly because I am antsy and bored.  

I was able to get the NG tube out last week and off all pain medications too so those are steps in the right direction.  I still get very nauseated even when I drink a few sips of something so I am still not eating or barely drinking.  I have now lost 30lbs and really can’t afford to lose any more.  I did start IV nutrition therapy at the end of last week and that has been a game changer in terms of my energy and feeling overall.  I feel like I am sleeping better, have more energy, and don’t feel the pressure to eat in order to get all the nutrients I need since I am getting them intravenously.  This will also help me not to lose anymore weight, which is good.  

They still haven’t figured out what is wrong.  But, they have taken a stand and we are ready to proceed with an exploratory laparoscopy tomorrow.    They still can’t tell where the issue is from my scans so they are going into this blindly and hoping to find something that can be fixed.  There is definitely a chance that they won’t find anything or that it may become a much bigger surgery with a larger incision.  

I am feeling all the emotions.  I’m hopeful, excited, scared, nervous, and most of all, ready.  I am so tired of being in the hospital.  I am so ready to be home with my husband and puppies.  I just can’t wait.  

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Cuddles with this guy make each day better.  

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As exhausting and taxing as this whole process has been on me, it has been equally, if not more, hard for my loved ones.  My mom, dad, husband, best friends, and mother-in-law have been taking shifts to be with me.  I haven’t spent one night or day alone (or even a few minutes) during this entire process.  When I do my daily walks around the hospital, I see people who never have any visitors and realize just how lucky I really am.  

My dad and I took a walk outside yesterday to get some vitamin D.

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I treated myself with a popsicle. 😉 That is at close as I have gotten to real food in weeks.  I am already dreaming of my first meal, but haven’t decided what it will be yet. 

 

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So for now, the plan is for surgery Friday in the hopes they find something fixable.  If not, it is back to the drawing boat and we will probably move me to the Mayo clinic.  But I am hopeful we will get some answers on Friday.  

Thank you so so so much for all the messages, emails, calls, flowers, and most importantly, for thinking of me.  XOXOXOXO

Another Update

Hey guys. I’m pretty exhausted and delirious writing this now, but I’ll try my best to make sense. 😉

I am still in the hospital right now. It has been about a week and a half now. I was finally moved from a clear liquid diet to a somewhat normal diet to see how my body would respond. With a banana, a potato and some puréed foods over 48 hours, that was enough to set me off again resulting in severe abdominal pain. My doctor was hoping to release me Tuesday, but with how bad I was feeling, he wanted to keep me in patient.

I have finished the C diff medication and now they are thinking it is just a small bowel partial blockage. Since things are moving through my system, they do not want to operate. While this is good news, it is also pretty defeating since they can’t figure out what has caused this blockage. The plan is to get stable enough to go home and then complete a new endoscopy and colonoscopy in the next week. So far they haven’t been able to keep my comfortable and out of pain for very long. While I hate being in the hospital, going home scares me more. I am nervous to have another flare up and end up back in the ER for the 4th time. So the doctors are being extra careful this time around. They did put the NG tube back in Tuesday night to help relieve some of the stomach pains. So for now the plan is to hopefully get off the tube tomorrow and back onto a clear liquid diet and stay on that even while I am home because my stomach can’t handle much else. We think liquids are getting through, but the food (even bland soft and puréed foods) is not passing through my system which results in it building up and causing so much pain and nausea.

So basically we are back at square one. We are in the process of getting more opinions from different specialists so we will see how that goes.

Thank you all so so so much for all the thoughts and prayers. I really need them right now.

Me with all the baby food. Lol.

My husband brought my puppies to see me yesterday morning. I’m the last couple weeks, they haven’t seen me much. They both went crazy.

Sweet little Riley climbed out the window and just clung onto me. It was the sweetest reunion ever.

I hope you guys have a great day. I’ll keep you updated when there are more answers. Until then I’m just trying now to go crazy in the hospital. Love you all.

Back in the Hospital

Hi friends! I thought I should update here as I updated my Facebook account last week. During a routine follow up with a GI doctor at Vanderbilt last week, I was re-admitted to the hospital. I was already not feeling well before going in (after being on soft foods since Saturday when I got discharged from the hospital) and my stomach pain just got worse and I began the whole process of dry heaving and screaming bloody murder with the most intense stomach pains ever. They took me down to the ER and honestly the next two days are just a huge blur. I was in so much pain. They put the NG tube back in and kept me off all foods and drinks. Thursday was the worst day. They put this dye in my tube and took X-rays every couple of hours to see how far it went in my system. The whole time my tube wasn’t pumping my stomach so I was in extreme pain. It was horrible. The last test was at 3am so that whole day was really really rough. My mother in law came in town to help, my best friends have been by my side, my dad and little brother have come to entertain me, and my husband and mom have been by my side the entire time. I can honestly say this experience has been the most emotionally taxing experience of my life. It has been extremely physically painful, but being cooped up for two weeks in a hospital room is so very emotionally draining.

The doctors are stumped. They are working hard to figure this out, but truly can’t figure out what is wrong…. which is kinda scary. I am still being treated for the C diff, but like I previously mentioned, they don’t think this is the only issue. I get very nauseated after just eating jello, which is annoying because I am hungry!!! I have been living off of veggie broth and jello since Friday when they gave me the okay to have food and drinks. I am still only allowed to have those few things. It is hard when you are hungry, but get very sick after eating. I still have the NG tube in which gives me a lot of relief on top of nausea meds and pain medication.

I still am amazed by the outpouring of love I have received. From the cards to the flowers to the visits to the texts to the prayers, from the bottom of my heart, I am so sincerely grateful. My work has been so amazing and understanding through this whole process, which is a huge relief because I love (and miss) my job. I know I will beat this and it will get figured out soon. I am staying tough and fighting hard. Thank you guys so much for yours thoughts and prayers. I love you guys! I will be back soon. Xoxoxo

Happy Birthday To My Person

Good morning!!!  I am still so overwhelmed by everyone who has reached out and keeping me in their thoughts and prayers.  I can’t thank you all enough.  I am so blessed.

Before all the craziness began, we got to celebrate my sweet husband’s 31st birthday with close friends! We have been wanting to go to City Winery for a while now so we decided this was a great occasion!  

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We met some of our friends there for an early dinner.  We had a blast chatting away and sipping drinks (none for me while I am sick).  We got a bunch of appetizers and everyone really loved their food.  

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I made little treat bags for everyone too so some goodies were consumed as well.  Homemade cookies and chocolate covered pretzels!  (Clearly, I need to have a child as I am making goodie bags for my 31 year old husband’s birthday. ;)).  

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Then we sang to this sweet boy!!  He is a special one!  

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The whole gang!!  We sure did get lucky in the friend department!!!  

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My love. 🙂

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We got photobombed!!  

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My girls!!! 

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Three sweet boys at the bar. 🙂 

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I’m still doing well and getting lots of snuggles from these two. 🙂 

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I hope you all have a fantastic day!!!  

How was your weekend??