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The Long Goodbye: Health Background

Sometime around the first of June in 1951 my grandmother's water broke. She went to the hospital expecting to deliver her third child, but was sent home by the doctor. I don't know much about what happened when she went home, if she was sick, in pain, had to stay in bed. We don't ask questions because of the immense guilt my Mimi feels. I do know it was June 11, ten days after her water broke, before my mom was born. 

My mom grew up to be a normal adult. There were no apparent defects caused by her horribly traumatic birth. A birth that wasn't even mentioned until 2003 when brain scans showed a large portion of her frontal left lobe was missing. The doctor took both of his thumbs and held them side by side to demonstrate the amount that had already deteriorated. No one will ever be certain, but it is the opinion of doctors at the UAMS Center on Aging that my mom may have suffered a small stroke in utero during those ten days my Mimi was in labor. 

In her teens and twenties, my mom was in a series of car accidents and suffered head traumas. None of them were severe, but she did suffer concussions. The doctor says that repeated injury over time could have, like the stroke in utero, continued to prevent sufficient blood flow to the left frontal lobe of her brain, thus causing it to deteriorate.

Not only was there an abnormality in the frontal lobe, she was also a carrier of the APOE4 Alzheimer's Gene. That, combined with her medical history, greatly increased the chances that she would develop early on-set. The doctor looked at my Auntie Joye, Mom's sister, during the appointment and said, "Wear your seat belt." There seems to be a correlation between the gene becoming active once a trauma, specifically to the head, occurs. The same was true for President Reagan after his horse riding accident. The article can be found here:

So, what does the frontal lobe control?


  • Motor Functions

  • Higher Order Functions

  • Planning

  • Reasoning

  • Judgement

  • Impulse Control

  • Memory


Past Posts

Mary Grace

At 2:00 am this morning, our sweet Mary Grace was welcomed to Heaven. We found out this afternoon that she had a large brain hemorrhage. Reid and I spent three precious hours holding our daughter tonight. The nurses wrapped a pink bow around her little head and we swaddled her in a soft pink elephant blanket. During those hours, we told Mary Grace how proud we were of her fight, how she fulfilled our dreams of one day having a daughter to call "Gracie," and we even took a little nap, snuggled together as a family. If we told her we loved her once, we told her a thousand times. We prayed over her and gave her back to the Lord. We miss her more than words can say. I feel like we were punched in the stomach today and left with the wind knocked out of our lungs. Its so hard to understand "why?" in all of this. Tonight when we left the hospital, Reid turned on this song by David Crowder Band and we listened to it on repeat the whole way home. Its the exact state of our

One day at a time

For the first time in my life I feel like I'm truly living one day at a time. Reid and I had a pretty good day yesterday. We were able to sleep in which was wonderful. Reid made us lunch and we sat outside in the backyard. It was a beautiful day and being outside did a lot of good for my mental health. :) There were still a lot of hard moments as memories from the night before would come rushing back to mind. We miss our sweet babies so much. Olivia had a good day yesterday. It was uneventful (which is a very good thing in the NICU) and they were able to turn down some of her medicine. We call every morning to check on our sweet girl and her nurse was quick to tell us how feisty our daughter is. We picked up on that in her first day of life, but it was funny to hear that someone else had observed the same. We are so in love with our feisty little Olivia. After we left the hospital, Reid and I went on a dinner date. It was so good for us to get out and feel like we

Madelyn Barrett

I really don't even know where to begin or how to write this post. I've put it off for several days hoping that maybe if I let things sink in a little more it would be easy. This will never be easy. As you know, we welcomed three beautiful little girls into the world on Friday afternoon. We had hoped to continue to "buy time" and hold off on delivery for several more weeks. God has always had a plan much bigger than either Reid or I could ever imagine. I have to chose to believe, everyday, that somehow this all fits perfectly into that plan. We knew from the time of her delivery that Madelyn was struggling the most. The circumstances surrounding her birth caused a lot of trauma to her tiny body. After a day of fighting for a positive outcome, the neonatologist came to visit with us and told us it was time to let her go. Late Saturday night we went to the NICU to hold our precious baby for the first and last time. She was absolutely perfect and looked just like h

Family of Four

If all continues to go well we will be headed home from the hospital tomorrow. I got a little stir crazy this afternoon and walking the halls just wasn't going to cut it so I went down to the gift shop to browse a bit. It feels so good to actually feel good after surgery. I also feel pretty rested and I'm very ready to settle into our new normal at home. My dad and Ann have been taking care of Olivia and have been such a tremendous help to us. Reid's parents were in town until this afternoon and Olivia got to spend some time with them yesterday. She's been very well taken care of by all her grandparents and I'm pretty sure she hasn't thought twice about us. Out of sight, out of mind. She has had a cough for a few days so Reid took her to the doctor this morning. Sure enough the cough is just allergy related but sweet girl has her first ear infection. The good news is that she hasn't run a fever and was able to get antibiotics to treat it. For all the change


God has blessed our family with quite a surprise! Olivia is getting a little brother or sister in early December. We are thrilled! As of today I am nine weeks along. We went to the doctor several weeks ago and were able to see the tiny bundle and hear the heartbeat. Everything looks great and we are so thankful! I'll share more details in the next few weeks. :)