I am so honored to have Kelly Ann as my first post for the Everyday Beautiful Project. I could not have asked for a more perfect person to show to the world! Kelly Ann is a friend of mine. We have kids the same age and the more I have come to know her, the more I stand in awe!! Before I say much more I want to introduce Kelly Ann and her amazing story. I asked her to write up something for me so I could get the facts on her life... I am going to just share what she gave me... Because what better way than from the person herself! Here is her amazing story:
"I'm not sure exactly what to write, so I will just give you a rundown of me. I am 42 years old and have lived in the same small town most of my life except for while I was away at college and when I got married I moved down south with my husband before moving back to my hometown.
Wade and I have had a few struggles in our lives just like everyone else. When I was young my parents noticed I couldn't hear very well. I had tubes in my ears, which helped a little. They took me to a School of the deaf and blind for testing. When I was 5, right before starting kindergarten, I got my first pair of hearing aids. I remember riding home in the car and tapping the dashboard and being in awe because it made a sound when I tapped and I could hear it. I was so proud of those hearing aids. For kindergarten pictures, I had my mom braid my hair back behind my ears so the would show.
Grade school went well for several years. I got glasses in fourth grade. No biggie. In sixth grade, I started to get sick. The summer before school started, our family went camping at a lake. In September, my parents had meeting in Hawaii, so my grandma stayed with us kids. I was so sick that week. I kept blacking out and getting light headed. I was so thirsty all the time and my stomach cramped so bad. When my parents came home, they could not believe how much weight I had lost. They took me to the doctor where I was diagnosed with Diabetes Type 1. This opened a new chapter in my life. I was scared but learned to deal with it. I didn't get much better though and was continually losing weight and sick. We went back to the doctor. I was diagnosed with Giardia. It is a parasite caused from contaminated water. We figure I got it from the lake that summer. The medication they put me on cured the Giardia. I felt better while on the medication, but as soon as I was off it, I started getting sick again. My parents took me to the city to the top hosipitals. After more hospitals stays and tons of testing, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. My colon was so bad, they could not save it. In July I went into the Childrens Hospital and had a total Colectomy. It was a very difficult time for a 12 year old girl. I had many complicaitons and was slowly dying. They had to do more surgery because my main artieries were cutting off my bowels. Anyway, maybe too much info, but I went home with a temporary ileostomy for three months. I had another hospital stay in between the three months from getting sick from my bowels being kinked. I got to be VERY CLOSE to the nurses on the fourth wing of the Childrens Hospital. In November, I went in for a reversal of the ileostomy and was given an internal pouch. From this point on, I had wonderful years through out high school and college. The Diabetes was the only thing I had to really watch.
I got married to Wade in 1995. We were married about 5 years and I was not able to get pregnant. After going through different procedures and such, I found out that I would not be able to bear children. This was so devastating to us because we wanted a family so bad. It was a very difficult and emotional time because I watched my sister have children and was happy for her yet ached inside. In 2002, we received the most beautiful gift any parents could ask for, a birth mother had contacted our bishop and we were asked if we wanted to adopt the baby that she would have. My heart was so full of joy! We had been working on adoption and this was an answer to our prayers. Our oldest daughter was born in February of 2002. I had the privilege to be part of her birth and we got her from the second she was born. We would later adopt two more children. In 2006, we adopted our son as a new born and got to take him home from the hospital. In 2007, we went to China, where we adopted our youngest daughter. She was 10 months old when we got her. My two youngest children are one month apart in age. Our family was now complete.
A couple years before our youngest were adopted, I started getting very sick again. I went to doctor's and had test done and was Diagnosed with PSC (Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis) where I was told that I would need a liver transplant in the future. I have had many good years and some bad with this disease with many hospital stays. It is an auto immune disease that attacks your liver. The ducts in the liver stricture shut causing it to go into cirrhosis. The only cure is a transplant and many times the disease comes back to the new liver because it is an auto immune disease. I was also diagnosed with Crohn's during this time after having many complications. The most important thing I have found over the years is to keep living life to the fullest. I cannot let whatever challenges I have stop me from being a wife and a mother and living my life. I am truly blessed with a huge support group of family and friends. I look over my life an am so blessed for the trials and blessings that I have recieved. I have always tried to be as healthy as possible and tried to keep exercising and doing things I can to keep healthy.
This spring and summer has been one of the most difficult times for me. I randomly started bleeding out of my body from everywhere. It was so scary. Wade took me out to IMC in the middle of the night. When doing blood work, the lab came twice because they thought the test results were wrong. But they weren't. I had NO PLATELETS. Platelets are what cause your blood to coagulate and clot. I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia and was admitted to ICU. This was a difficult time. Over the course of a month, I was given 42 units of blood products. Every time I was given any blood, my body would "eat" it up. The continuous pumping in of blood was the only thing keeping me alive. Again, I was dying. The doctors couldn't get me better. I have never hit rock bottom and given up like I did then. Again, family pulled me through. After trying several different treatments including a chemotherapy, and nothing working, they called my Liver Transplant Surgeon to see if it would be safe to remove my spleen. The concern that my Liver Transplant Team had was that when they removed my spleen it would cause portal hypertension and cause my liver to go into complete failure and fast. It was the only option of me living and they decided the risk was worth it. It worked. My platelets increased, in fact so much that I am now on blood thinners! LOL! So, finally I was able to go home again. The next couple months I started having lots of problems with Chlangitis and jaundice. My liver enzymes were at an all time high. My liver team admitted me for an ERCP, the procedure I have had done about every 6 to 12 months for the past several years. It is where they go into the ducts of the liver with a fine wire and try to dialate them so that my liver will function a little better. I went home a couple days after the procedure but was sick for quite some time. I felt like I had the flu. Always achy, chills and running fevers. I ended up back in the hospital where they did another ERCP. They are having trouble getting into my liver now and the team came and talked to me and informed me that I was at the point that I can no longer have any results from the ERCP's. I am even to the point I can be on the transplant list. This is where I am now. I opted not to be on the transplant list at this time because of all the red tape and loop holes and living so far out from the city. I am low enough on the MELD score that I don't really need to bother right now. So, we watch for cancer, which is very highly likely. And I won't get better at this point until transplant. I have lots of good days and I have bad days too. I just keep fighting and doing what I can. Fatigue and flu like symptoms are what I deal with the most now. I try to live my life to the fullest. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful and caring husband who is there for me for anything. He is my rock and my best friend.
On a whole other note, Wade was in a horrific cycling accident three years ago. It resulted in severe traumatic brain injury. He has healed well but will always have trouble with certain things related to the brain injury. It is heart breaking because on the outside he looks completely normal, but on the inside he will never be the same. Going through this time with him and all those months of rehab and seeing him fight every day to be "normal", I would give anything if it could have been me, not him. I would much rather be the one with the illness, injury, etc., than to be the spouse having to see a loved one go through so much. I guess that is selfish, but I can't stand to see my family hurting. It is definitely easier going through the trial as the person that is afflicted rather than being the loved one standing at the side watching."
I felt it was important to know all of this story to truly understand what a strong person Kelly Ann is. As her sister Mary often jokes, "If I make it to heaven, I will be living in a little shack next to the mansion Kelly Ann has earned." I agree with this completely.
Kelly Ann is an incredibly talented Pianist. My daughter is lucky enough to take lessons from her. She has come home from her hopital stays and taught lessons the next day. I also have watched her accompany our church choir shortly after coming home... It brought me to tears! She had so little strength after playing I could see her struggle to walk back to her seat... But the music was breathtaking. Kelly Ann gives it her all at whatever she does... But most of all at being a Mother. Her children are so blessed to have her.
Mary said, "As a sister on the sidelines, there isn't a feeling worse than that of helplessness. Knowing what her future holds, however, has prompted me and others to become organ donors, something I may not have given much thought to otherwise. A simple "yes" can save the life of someone like my sister."
"Kelly Ann is an inspiration to me. She makes me want to do better, try a little harder, do more with whatever life gives me. In the end, though, just knowing her makes me a better person."
I decided to do Kelly Ann's makeup because she inspires me. I kept thinking of a butterfly whenever I thought of her. She has all these silent struggles, that I simply cannot even imagine feeling. But all the while she is transforming into something even more beautiful and inspiring so many around her. The butterfly is also a symbol of Hope to me, Just like Organ Donation is to countless others. I urge you to look into Organ Donation. By doing so, we can help tragedy become a New Beginning for another. Blue and Green are the colors of Organ Donation Awareness.
From Kelly Ann you will NEVER hear a complaint. She is ALWAYS smiling and serving others.
This is what beauty looks like.